G.K. Update 25 may, 2016 (English)
By: D.K. Choudhary
1. India, Thailand, Myanmar to be connected by a 1400-km road
i. India, Thailand and Myanmar will soon be connected by a 1,400-kilometre highway, to boost the trade and cultural exchanges among the three countries.
ii. This will be the first time when India reportedly connect to other South East Asian nations by road. The planned highway will start in the eastern region of India from Moreh to Myanmar’s Tamu city.
iii. Indian Ambassador to Thailand Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi has stated that there are over 73 bridges in Myanmar constructed almost 70 years ago (during World War II). The bridges are currently being restored with funding from India. Once the work on the bridges is complete ( 18 months), the highways will be opened to traffic from India as well as Thailand. The negotiations are currently underway to conclude a tri-nation motor vehicle agreement for the use of the 1,400-km road that will reach Thailand at Tak, Mae Sot district.
2. President signs ordinance keeping state boards out of NEET this year
i. President Pranab Mukherjee has signed the ordinance to keep state boards out of the common entrance test (NEET) for MBBS and dental courses for this year.
ii. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was at the President’s Secretariat along with top Health Ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by the President on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Union Health Minister J P Nadda had also met the President yesterday to explain the rationale behind taking the ordinance route.
iii. The ordinance on NEET is aimed at partially overturning a Supreme Court order that had taken into account the multiple medical entrance tests by states and private colleges as well as allegations of corruption.
3. Indigenously built INS Tarmugli commissioned in Indian Navy
i. The Indian Navy has commissioned indigenously built highly maneuverable Fast Attack Craft INS Tarmugli at the commissioning ceremony held in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
ii. INS Tarmugli will be based in Visakhapatnam under the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Andhra Pradesh). It would be deployed for coastal patrol and surveillance operations along the East Coast of India.
iii. INS Tarmugli is indigenously conceived, designed and built by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE). It is the first Follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC) and is an improved version of WJFAC, earlier constructed by GRSE. The ship is named after a picturesque Tarmugli island located in the Andaman group.
4. India imposes ban for travel to Libya in view of prevailing security situation
i. India has banned its nationals from travelling to Libya, irrespective of the purpose of the visit, in view of the prevailing security situation in that country. Announcing this in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry said, the decision has been notified to all Immigration authorities.
ii. The MEA travel advisory said in view of prevailing security situation, security threats and challenges to lives of Indian nationals in Libya, the Government has decided to impose travel ban on Indian nationals planning to travel to Libya irrespective of the purpose.
iii. The MEA’s announcement came a day after reports of a Libyan former minister being killed in clashes between unity government forces and fighters of the Islamic State jihadist group in Sirte. Libya is witnessing increased violence due to clashes between them.
5. NALCO signs MoU with Iran govt to set up smelter plant in Chabahar
i. The National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) has signed an MoU with Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) to explore the possibility of setting up a smelter on joint venture in Iran.
ii. For this project NALCO will supply alumina from its refinery in India.
iii. The MoU was signed between chairman-cum-managing director of NALCO and vice chairman of Iran’s planning board in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani in Tehran.
6. India Post payments bank will be functional by March 17
i. Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has stated that the India Post’s payments bank will start functioning from March 2017 and serve as a wider platform to implement financial inclusion programmes.
ii. He also stated that postal department plays an important role in the country’s economic and social development and enable modernization of postal services through IT.
iii. Till now, around 50 companies including foreign banks have shown keen interest to be partners with the bank in a form of third party insurance services. However, the postal department has opened 85.28 lakh accounts with deposit money of rs. 4500 crore under Sukanya Samridhi Yojana during 2015-16 and over 4 lakh policies of Atal Pension Yojana, Prime Minister Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana and PM Suraksha Beema Yojana.
7. Sumitra Mahajan to inaugurate 3-day NERCPA conference
i. The Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will inaugurate the three day conference of the Northeast Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA) in the Assembly house on 30th of May.
ii. The conference will focus on two topics- 1. to strengthen the NERCPA for further development of Northeast region states and 2nd. Soil erosion in Northeast India and its impact on the local populace and how political intervention could help to resolve the issue.
iii. CM of Tripura Mr. Manik Sarkar, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha Prof P J Kurien, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Dr M Thambi Durai and Secretary General of Lok Sabha Anoop Mishra would be present at the inaugural function. Besides, the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of all the eight North-eastern states are expected to attend the conference.
8. BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal takes oath as Assam CM
i. In Assam, BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal has taken oath as the Chief Minister. With this, political history was charted in North Eastern part of the country when the maiden BJP government assumed power in the region.
ii. The new chief minister and 10 of his ministerial colleagues were taken the oath of office and secrecy by Governor PB Acharyya. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, several Chief Ministers and Union ministers along with spiritual leaders were present in the swearing in ceremony.
iii. A former firebrand student leader, Sonowal had led an alliance of BJP and two regional partners Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front to end a 15 year long Congress rule in the state, thereby paving the way for formation of the first ever BJP led government in the state.
9. Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 promulgated
i. Odisha Governor Dr SC Jamir has promulgated Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. The Ordinance empowers the state government to formulate laws to implement the Odisha Official Language Act 1954. This will facilitate use of Odia language in transaction of official businesses of the Government.
ii. The Ordinance will amend the Language Act and use Odia in writing files, letters and all other official documents prepared by the government. Orissa is the first state to be evolved on the basis of language. So the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 was enacted in 1954.
iii. Earlier, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that the Odisha Official Language Act would be implemented by 15 August 2016. Some announcements made were- that a university to promote Odia language and literature will be set up for teaching and research at the postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral levels. He also said that Odia Virtual Academy, which was announced in the state budget, would be set up. The academy will digitize the literary corpus of Odia language and make it available through web-portal.
10. NGT bans over 10-year-old light, heavy diesel vehicles in six Kerala cities
i. National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned use of light and heavy diesel vehicles, which are more than 10 years old, in six major cities. The cities where these vehicles can’t ply on the roads include Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kollam, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur.
ii. In its first sitting, the NGT Circuit bench, comprising NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued the order while hearing a petition seeking action against highly polluting diesel vehicles such as trucks and buses. The other member of the bench was Bikram Singh Sajwan.
iii. The petition was filed by Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum (LEAF) and as per the directions of the NGT – the state government not to register any diesel vehicle in the capacity of 2000 CC and more, except public transport and local authority vehicles. if any vehicle is found to be violating this direction will have to pay 5000 rupees as environmental compensation and this will be collected by traffic police or pollution control board.
11.13 New Smart Cities Unveiled By Government
i. Thirteen cities have been selected in the first phase of the government’s smart cities mission, which includes Lucknow, Warangal, Bhagalpur, Raipur, New Town Kolkata , Chandigarh, Faridabad, Raipur, Ranchi, Warangal, Agartala, Imphal, Port Blair and Panaji. These cities have been chosen through a fast-track competition.
ii. To increase the representation of states in the mission, these cities have been selected from the 23 cities which took part in a fast track competition. This takes the number of cities selected in the first phase of the Smart Cities Mission to 33.
iii. Earlier in January, when the first 20 smart cities were announced the urban development ministry had come under fire for leaving out cities from non-NDA states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
12. E-municipal council’ building to come up in Bundi, Rajasthan
i. Rajasthan’s Bundi is stepping into the virtual world with an ‘e-municipal council’ to provide files at a click, and detailed digital mapping of the city with a database of its demographical and geographical information.
ii. The city’s municipal data files which are currently decaying in a pre-Independence era building, will soon be digitised and can be accessed from anywhere on phones and computers, said Pankaj Kumar Mangal, commissioner of Bundi municipal council.
iii. An ‘e-municipal council’ office equipped with solar panels and biometric entry and exit will also be constructed soon, where anyone would be able to view data on screen with a click.
13. World Bank launches $500 mn insurance fund to fight pandemics
i. The World Bank Group has launched Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility and launched a $500 million fund to fight Pandemics in poor countries and creating the world’s first insurance market for pandemic risk. It will accelerate both global and national responses to future outbreaks with pandemic potential.
ii. It was built and designed in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector, introducing a new level of rigor into both the financing and the response. The PEF is an innovative and fast-disbursing global financing mechanism. The major epidemics covered under the facility include new influenza pandemic virus A, B and C, SARS, MERS, Ebola, Marburg, Crimean Congo, Rift Valley, Lassa fever, etc.
iii. Under this facility, all the 77 countries are eligible to receive coverage for financing from the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s for the poorest countries. It is expected to be operational in 2016 and Japan became the first country to commit 50 million US dollars in funding toward the new initiative.
14. UK grants asylum to Maldives’ ex-president Mohamed Nasheed
i. Britain has granted political refugee status to ousted former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed. His lawyer Hasan Latheef claimed that Nasheed had been granted political refugee status but the British government is yet to comment.
ii. Maldives’ first democratically elected president, 49-year-old Nasheed had been allowed to go to Britain in January for spinal cord surgery following a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India and the UK.
iii. Nasheed became Maldives’ first democratically elected leader in 2008 but was toppled in a coup backed by the military and police. He was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges after allegedly illegally ordering the arrest of a judge in a trial that put a spotlight on instability in the Maldives.
15. US lifts embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam
i. US President Barack Obama has announced an end to its embargo on sales of lethal weapons to Vietnam. Its one time enemy.
ii. During his visit to Vietnam and talks with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang , US President Obama said that the move removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War.
iii. Mr. Obama is the third US President to visit Vietnam since the end of the decade-long Vietnam War in 1975. Other two Presidents were Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (went in 2000 and 2006). The White House officials had indicated the arms ban, in force since 1984, would be lifted only if human rights in Vietnam improved. Vietnam had been arguing for an end to the embargo, which was partially lifted in 2014 purchase naval-defense equipment.
16. FIFA’s acting Secretary General Markus Kattner dismissed over bonus payments
i. FIFA acting Secretary General Markus Kattner was dismissed from his position with immediate effect.
ii. He was removed after FIFA’s internal investigation uncovered breaches of his fiduciary responsibilities in connection with his employment contract. iii. He was accused of paying himself bonuses worth millions of pounds. The 45-year old German took over as acting General Secretary after Jerome Valcke was sacked for irregularities. Kattner joined FIFA in 2003 as Director of Finance, becoming Deputy Secretary General in 2007. His salary and bonuses were part of a contract that was unseen by relevant FIFA committees.
17. S K Sharma appointed CMD of Nuclear Power Corporation of India
i. Renowned scientist S K Sharma was appointed the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
ii. In his new role, Mr Sharm will be responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors. He has been appointed to the new post for a period of five years.
iii. At present,he is working as Distinguished Scientist and Director (Operations) in NPCIL. NPCIL is a government-owned corporation responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity. It is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra and is administered by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
18. Lt General Saini new commandant of IMA
i. Lt General S K Saini has taken over as the new commandant of prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) .
ii. Prior to this appointment, he was a senior directing staff in National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi.
iii. Lt General Saini is an alumni of National Defence Academy (NDA) and IMA. In 1981, he was commissioned to seventh battalion of Jat regiment. In his career of 36 years, he has held many important posts.
19. Veteran CPI(M) leader K Anirudhan passes away
i. CPI(M) veteran and former MLA and MP K Anirudhan has passed away at his residence at Vazhuthacaud. He was 92 year old. He was suffering from age-related ailments for some time and died. Mr. Anirudhan was also an active trade union leader.
ii. Mr. Anirudhan was known for his significant contribution to build the Communist party movement in southern parts of the Kerala state.
iii. He was elected to the state assembly in 1963, 1965, 1979 and 1980. Mr. Anirudhan was also the member of the Lok Sabha once and was elected to the Kerala Assembly thrice.
20. Rio medal winners to be considered for Khel Ratna, Arjuna
i. The Sports Ministry has stated that the winners from the upcoming Rio Games will be considered for this year’s Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards.
ii. The step has been taken to ensure that Olympic medalists get immediate recognition. So that the athletes need not wait for one full year after their medal-winning performances at the Olympic Games.
iii. The medal winners in individual events who have already not been conferred with Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in the past will be considered for the highest sporting honour. But as per the existing provisions of the schemes of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, sports achievements of the sports persons for the last four years preceding the year of award, that means, sports achievements during the period 2011 to 2015 are to be considered.