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Current Affairs Today – April 1 2016

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MoU on IMPRINT programme signed by 25 Ministries

In a bid to encourage research in premier technical institutions through IMPRINT (Impacting Research Innovation and Technology), the memorandum of understanding has been signed by the 25 ministries comprising human resource development.

  • This is for the first time that all IITs have jointly taken an initiative of IMPRINT, under which technological innovations will be undergone which would be beneficial for a common man.
  • All the Ministers assured their full cooperation in taking forward the research work under 10 technology domains comprised under IMPRINT.

“Index” to compute Organisation’s Attitude towards Disabled Persons

In order to promote the empowerment of persons with disabilities, “Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan”aka “Inclusiveness and Accessibility Index” has been instigated by the Government of India in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

  • It was launched by Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu.
  • This index would help the corporate sector in evaluating their policies for inclusion of the differently-abled.

Special Home for Widows launched under “Swadhar Greh scheme”

Special Home for Widows launched under “Swadhar Greh scheme”

The Union Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi initiated a project of construction of a special Home for 1000 widows at Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

  • It has been set up under the “Swadhar Greh Scheme” of the WCD Ministry.
  • This will be the largest ever home for widows established by the Government.
  • The project will completed by October, 2016.
  • Outlay – Rs.57 Crores (including cost of the land)

The shelter Home at Vrindavan has a capacity to house 1000 women and is being constructed on 1.424 hectare of land through National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC). The design of the Home has been prepared in consultation with HelpAge India.

Uttarakhand joins “UDAY” scheme

Uttarakhand has become the 10th state to join the Centre’s scheme for revival of debt stressed power distribution companies. An overall net benefit of about Rs 962 crore would accrue to the state.

(UDAY – Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana)

  • The GOI, Uttarakhand and Uttarakhand Power Corporation (UPCL) signed MoU under the UDAY scheme.

About UDAY Scheme:

  • UDAY was approved by Narendra Modi on 5th November 2015 to provide financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies (DISCOMs). It envisages reducing interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses.
  • Under the UDAY scheme, state governments which own the distribution utilities, would take over 75% debts of Discoms as on 30th September, 2015 in two years and pay back the lenders by selling bonds. For the remaining 25%, discoms will issue bonds.

Partial Liquor ban across Bihar from April 1 2016

Following the earlier notification in the State, a partial liquor ban has been brought into effect in Bihar . The state cabinet gave its nod to Excise and Prohibition department’s proposal to issue a notification for implementing prohibition in rural areas besides putting a blanket ban on country-made and spiced liquor.

  • The person indulging in manufacturing trade, transportation, sale and consumption of country-made and spiced liquor across the state will be punished for violating the stringent provisions of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016.

Key Points:

  • Bihar CM: Nitish Kumar

Haryana Assembly passed Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Haryana Assembly passed two Bills, namely Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, and Haryana Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2016 to provide civic amenities in unauthorized residential colonies in the Budget Session.

Key Provisions:

  • The Bill seeks any male Contesting for Urban Local Bodies must possess matriculation as the minimum education qualification.
  • In case of women candidates or those belonging to the Scheduled Caste category, the minimum qualification would be Class VIII, while for women of the Scheduled Caste category, it would be Class V.
  • The candidate should not have been convicted or have charges framed against him/her by a court in a criminal case for an offence punishable with imprisonment for not less than 10 years.
  • There should be no pending arrears of electricity bills against the candidate also should file a self-declaration that they have the provision of a functional toilet at the residence.


India becomes fourth largest spender on defence

US research firm IHS Inc report says India has become the world’s fourth largest spender on defence, following a 13.1% increase in its 2016-17 defence budget.

The Leading Defence Spenders with their Rankings:

  1. United States of America
  2. China
  3. United Kingdom

India, Lanka Sign MoU to Supply 150 Boats to Mullaitivu Fishermen

The fishermen’s from Mullaitivu will get 150 boats and fishing equipment on behalf of the MoU Signed between India and Sri Lanka. The total cost of the project of Rs. 100 million.India and Sri Lanka

  • The Government of India will gift 150 boats and other fishing equipment to 300 beneficiaries in Mullaitivu
  • The MoU was signed between K. Sinha, High Commissioner of India and W.M.M.R. Adikari, Secretary Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development.

Sri Lanka:

  • Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to democratically elect a woman as the head of state.
  • The Country has a literacy rate of 92 percent, which means they have the highest literacy rate in the South Asia.


PFRDA: Swavalamban subscribers can switch to Atal Pension Yojana

Micro-pension scheme Swavalamban, Subscribers can switch to the Atal Pension Yojana (APY).

  • Swavalamban scheme was launched by the UPA government in 2010-11 intended at the unorganised sector and applicable to those who joined the National Pension Scheme.
  • Swavalamban scheme has been replaced with APY and hence no acceptance of any fresh subscription under Swavalamban scheme since June 2016.
  • APY has around 22 lakh subscribers and assets under management of Rs 492 crore. APY is applicable only to workers in the age group of 18-40 years.

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority:

  • Apension regulatory authority which was established on 2003 is headquartered in New Delhi, authorized by Finance Ministry.
  • The Pension Fund Authority shall consist of a Chairperson and not more than five members, currently headed by Hemant Contractor.


Ficci, AIBC sign MoU to strengthen business ties

FICCI inked a MoU with AustraliaIndian Business Council (AIBC).The move likely to strengthen and promote business ties with Australia. The agreement signed during the Invest in India in Melbourne Australia.

  • The signing of the MoU is a great milestone in the bilateral relations between the two organisations and will certainly have a positive impact and add tremendous value to the business relations between the two countries.
  • The MoU strengthens the ongoing relationship between the two organisations to further promote, facilitate and grow the trade and investment relationship between Australia and India.

SAIL’s BSP initiated hot trials of URM

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), the largest state-owned steel making company headquartered in New Delhi, initiated the hot trial of the new state of the art 1.2 MTPA (million tonne per annum) Universal Rail Mill (URM) from its flagship entity, the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP).

  • Indian Railway’s requirement of 260 metre rail panels will be met by the BSP’s new mill by welding two 130 metre rail pieces at the new Rail Welding Line. It will also supply longer rails upto length of 520 metre.


J Geetha Reddy appointed as PAC Chairperson of Telangana

J Geeta Reddy, one of the oldest Congress MLAs, has been appointed as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.This is the first time that a woman legislator has been appointed for this coveted post.J Geetha Reddy appointed as PAC Chairperson of Telangana

  • She will succeed the late previous chairman and Congress MLA Ramreddy Venkat Reddy.
  • The panel is always headed by senior legislator from the opposition party.

Public Accounts Committee:

The PAC is a Legislature Committee that scrutinises the reports of the CAG, and comprises of 30 members drawn from both the Assembly and Legislative Council.


Flipkart acquires mobile payments firm PhonePe

E-commerce giant Flipkart has acquired PhonePe, a Bengaluru-based mobile payments company, which was co-founded by ex-Flipkart employees Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari.

  • PhonePe is building India’s a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based product which is expected to be launched in April.
  • The interface will allow users to transact using their unique identification and mobile phone number or virtual payments address without sharing any other bank details.

The PhonePe team will transition to Flipkart but will function as an independent business unit.


GOI released Indian Intellectual Property (IP) Panorama

Government of India has publicized the Indian Intellectual Property (IP) Panorama in New Delhi by offering a single window interface for information and guidance on intellectual property for competitive advantage.

  • The portal will strive for an expansion of awareness and to build sensitivity towards IP among stakeholders in the SME sector, Information, Communication Technology & Electronics (ICTE) sector, academia and researchers.

Union Government launched Startup India Portal and Mobile App

On Behalf of Union Government Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) Headed by Ramesh Abhishek launched Startup India portaland mobile app In New Delhi.

  • Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, aimed to build a strong eco-system to encourage new Startups in the country.
  • An entity, which is registered in India not over five years and the annual turnover not exceeding 25 crore in any financial year.

Researchers reveal first 3D map of Zika virus structure

3D map of Zika virus

  • Purdue University Researchers in Indiana in the US have come up with the first 3D map of the virus structure.
  • The New Map of the virus allows to see how the immune system produces antibodies that then bind to the virus and effectively remove the virus.
  • The virus is built similar to other flaviviruses, like that of dengue, but an important difference lies at a site that plays a role in choosing which cells to infect and affects host immune response.

Zika Outbreak:

  • The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, has recently been associated with a birth defect called microcephaly that causes brain damage and an abnormally small head in babies born to mothers infected during pregnancy.
  • Zika virus transmission has been reported in 33 countries.

Star India to launch Hotstar service overseas

  • India is going to start its online platform, Hotstar in other countries over the next few months. The use of this service is increasing in India, and so the Star India has decided on creating the first global media and entertainment product born out of India.
  • All programmes of Star Channel, all matches, movies, etc. can be seen on Hotstar.

Key Points:

  • Hotstar was launched in February last year and has been downloaded over 50 million times.
  • Star India CEO: Uday Shankar


Renowned Iraqi-British Architect Zaha Hadid died

Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid has died of heart attack aged 65 in a Miami hospital. She designed the aquatics centre used in the 2012 London Olympics.

  • She had contracted bronchitis earlier this week and suffered a sudden heart attack while being treated in hospital.
  • Her Notable architect’s projects includes the Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.

Ronnie Corbett, best known for The Two Ronnies, dies aged 85

Ronnie Corbett, best known for The Two Ronnies, dies aged 85

Entertainer Ronnie Corbett, best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, has died aged 85. He was one of the UK’s best-loved entertainers.

  • The entertainer had been suffering from ill-health for some time and had been in hospital in 2014 with gall bladder problems.