Current Affairs-12th March 2016
1. India to supply 18 Meter Gauge Diesel Electric Locomotives to Myanmar
i. RITES (Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways) signed a contract to supply 18 Meter Gauge 1350 HP Diesel Electric Locomotives to Myanmar Railways.
ii. This supply will help Myanmar to meet increasing demand for passenger and freight traffic.
iii. This contract was signed at Naypyitaw, Myanmar on 4 March 2016.
iv. The supply contract of locomotives is a vital project being funded under an existing line of credit extended to Myanmar by Union Government.
v. These locomotives will be manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi with several modern features like microprocessor controls, fuel-efficient engine and ergonomic cab design etc.
2. Suresh Prabhu Has Launched "Clean My Coach" Service
i. Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on 11th march 2016 has launched the 'clean my coach' service.
ii. The service allows a passenger to make request for a dirty coach to be swept and cleaned by sending an SMS on mobile number 58888 or by using an app or a designated website. Prabhu had announced the scheme in the Rail Budget last month.
iii. The service is in keeping with the railways 'cleanliness drive' Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat', was launched through Video Conferencing from Rail Bhawan in New Delhi/Northern Railway, Mumbai Central/Western Railway and Lucknow Jn/North Eastern Railway.
iv. As per the scheme for any cleaning requirement in the coach, passenger will have to send an SMS on a mobile number 58888.
v. A passenger can also use the android app 'Cleanmycoach Indian Railways' or webpage 'cleanmycoach.com' for logging the request which will be immediately acknowledged via SMS on mobile phone along with a code.
3. Govt sets new norms for Hydrocarbons licensing
i. Government of India has approved a new policy for exploration and also defined the norms for pricing of existing and new discoveries made in difficult areas.
ii. The petroleum minister said the new oil and gas exploration policy will now be based on a revenue-sharing model, as opposed to cost-and-output-based norms earlier.
iii. The difficult areas for which the new pricing norms have now been formulated are defined as those from deep-water, ultra deep-water and high pressure-high temperature areas. Such areas were not considered when prices were fixed for normal gas discoveries in 2014.
iv. The bulk of such fields are with Reliance Industries and state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
v. He said the new exploration licensing policy will allow production of both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons, including shale gas, under a single license.
4. Aadhar Scheme Collects Biometric Data of 99 Crore Indians
i. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, was passed by a voice vote after a brief debate, during which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured the House that details provided for the card will not be misused in any manner.
ii. When enacted, the Bill intends to empower the government in providing targeted services to the intended beneficiaries by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar.
iii. It will be given to every person, who has stayed in India for 182 days in the year preceding the date of application.
iv. The Biometric data of about 99 crore Indians have been collected so far under the Aadhaar scheme and the data is encrypted and its secrecy and security ensured. v. The government have got 99 crore Indians on Aadhaar. In the case of Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, Rs. 15,000 crore was saved and in the case of PDS, Rs. 2,346 crore was saved in four states through Aadhaar card.
5. Union Cabinet gave green signal for amendment to Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925
i. The Union Cabinet on 10 March 2016 approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 through the Parliament retrospectively with effect from 8 October 2013.
ii. A meeting of the Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, considered the proposal and gave green signal to remove the exception given to Sehajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections for selecting members of the board and the committees constituted under the Act.
iii. The Sehajdhari Sikhs were continuously exercising their voting rights in the SGPC elections since 1949.
iv. In 2003, the Union Home Ministry debarred the Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting by amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 vide a notification dated 8 October 2003, in exercise of the powers conferred by Parliament under Section 72 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966.
v. However, the notification was nullified by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 20 December 2011 leaving it to the appropriate and competent legislature to decide whether to amend the Act to that effect.
6. Long march against Indo-Bangladesh power plant near Sundarbans started
i. A 250 km-long protest march against plans to build Rampal Power Station, Indo-Bangladesh coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans, was kick-started on 10 March 2016.
ii. The protest march calls for scrapping the project that supposedly will harm the ecosystem of the world's largest mangrove forest.
iii. Environmentalists, cultural and political activists, and eminent individuals began the four-day march from Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka to persuade the Bangladeshi Government to drop its backing for construction of the plants near the Sundarbans, an area of rice paddies, shrimp farms and vast mangrove forests.
iv. The Rampal Power Station is a proposed 1320 megawatt coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna, Bangladesh.
v.It is a joint partnership between India's state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board.
7. PM Modi to unveil railway project in Bihar
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Patna today on a day-long visit to Bihar where he will dedicate to the nation the newly constructed Digha-Sonepur rail-cum-road bridge and inaugurate a new rail bridge in Munger.
ii. The Prime Minister will also kick-start the operation of the goods trains on the newly constructed rail portion of Munger Rail-Cum Road Bridge from Sahebpur Kamal end in Begusarai district.
iii. He will also lay the foundation stone of the additional rail bridge near existing Rajendra Bridge in Mokama over the river Ganga.
iv. The Prime Minister will attend the concluding function of the centenary celebrations of Patna High Court.
v. He will also address public meetings at Chhaukia in Hajipur.
8. Gujarat: Leaks In Kakrapar Nuclear Plant, One Unit Shut
i. A power generation unit at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Surat was shut down after leakage of heavy water.
ii. Leakage in the primary heat transport system of unit one of Kakrapar atomic power station in Gujarat has forced the authorities to shut down the unit as an emergency measure.
iii. The leakage occurred but officials maintained that “no nuclear radiation has occurred due to the leakage.”
iv. Consequent to a small leak in primary heat transport (PHT) system, the reactor was shut down as intended as per design provisions.
v. All safety systems are working as intended. The radioactivity/radiation levels in the plant premises and outside are normal.
9. Crisil Sees GDP growing at 7.9% in 2016-17
i. The country’s GDP can grow by 7.9 per cent next fiscal if the monsoon is normal and the government implements the reform measures announced so far, domestic rating agency Crisil.
ii. Even though he flagged concerns on the banking front, It implementation of reforms should help the economy achieve higher growth and termed 2016-17 as the “year of reckoning” which has the potential to illustrate the path which the economy can take.
iii. India has faced weather shocks for three consecutive years, including two years of deficient rains in 2014 and 2015, and a normal monsoon season this year can lead to a 4% growth in agriculture on lower base effect.
10. HDFC Bank Ties Up With 5 Start Ups
i. HDFC Bank has chosen five start-ups it will work with to strengthen their web, mobile and payment offerings.
ii. The Bank shortlisted these five from 30 applications to work together in its field of operations at its maiden Digital Innovation Summit.
iii. Five start ups companies with whom HDFC Bank has tied up are Sense forth Technologies into AI customer response, Tagnpin -a marketing and customer engagement company, Safe 2 Pay-a point of sale-free payment system, Bugclipper-an in-app feedback tool, Taptis Technology– a bio metric payment company.
iv. The bank had previously tied up with Chillr, which had raised $6 million from Sequoia Capital, where it developed a system which helped customers pay without a wallet.
v. Nitin Chugh, country head, digital banking, said the bank wanted to break out from these one-off ties and open themselves to new and innovative ideas.
11. Uber Opens Asia's 1st Engineering Hub In India
i. Uber, the ride sharing service provider has opened its first Asian engineering center in Bengaluru highlighting the focus on India to solve the localized challenges of Uber users in the country.
ii. The center will focus on software engineers, product developers and others working initially on problems specific to users in India.
iii. The center will eventually play a role in improving Uber’s customer-facing technologies worldwide. Worldwide, Uber has about a 1,000 engineers spread over nine engineering centers.
iv. The engineering center in Bangalore is different from the Center of Excellence the company opened in Hyderabad which deals with operations and provides multi-channel support via email, phone and social media to ensure seamless experience before, during and after a ride.
v. The company is investing over $1 billion in India to build its network of cabs and has pumped in $50 million to open an operations-support center in Hyderabad last month. Uber engineering center currently has 8 engineers and plans to increase the head count to over 100 employees this year. The center, temporarily headed by Jaikumar Ganesh, is looking to hire more people in the near future, including a permanent India engineering head.
12. Defence Ministry gives nod to 7 stealth frigates worth Rs 13,000 crore
i. The defence ministry on Friday approved a Rs 13,000 crore weapons and sensors package for the seven new stealth frigates being constructed by defence shipyards for the Navy as well as accorded the initial approval for the Rs 7,200 crore project to indigenously manufacture 244 air defence guns for the IAF.
ii. The defence acquisitions council (DAC), chaired by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, also discussed the new defence procurement procedure (DPP), which will have a pronounced thrust on the 'Make in India' endeavour as well as the "strategic partnerships" provision for private sector companies.
iii. Another DAC meeting is likely to be held this month to clear the final policy.
iv. The Rs 13,000 crore package for stealth frigates will be undertaken on a "single vendor and repeat order basis". Basically, this means the frigates will be equipped with long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) systems, jointly developed by DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries, which are already fitted on the three Kolkata-class destroyers.
v. The package will also include BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, Ajanta electronic warfare systems and Humsa-NG radars.
13. Cabinet approves ratification of BIMSTEC Convention
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
ii. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been designated as the Central Authority under Article 15 of the Convention.
iii. The BIMSTEC comprises of seven countries viz., Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
iv. The establishment of regional arrangements for mutual assistance in criminal matters will greatly contribute to more effective cooperation in the control of criminal activities.
v. The Convention aims to extend widest measures of assistance to each other through mutual cooperation for enhancing capability and effectiveness of the Member States in investigation and prosecution of crimes, including crimes related to terrorism, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and cyber-crimes.
14. Tezpur University and JNU won the annual Visitor’s Awards for Central Universities
i. Tezpur University on 10 March 2016 won the annual Visitor’s Award for the Best University.
ii. Rakesh Bhatnagar and the Molecular Parasitology Group of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have also won the Visitor’s Awards for Research and Innovation respectively.
iii. President Pranab Mukherjee will present Visitor’s Awards for 2016 to the winners at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 14 March 2016, as part of the Festival of Innovations.
iv. The Visitor’s Award for Innovation will be given to Professor Rakesh Bhatnagar of Jawaharlal Nehru University for development of a genetically engineered vaccine and a therapeutic antibody against anthrax.
v. The Visitor’s Award for Research will be presented to the Molecular Parasitology Group of Jawaharlal Nehru University of pioneering work in the area of molecular parasitology, especially anti-malaria, leishmaniasis and amoebiasis. The Best University will receive a Citation and Trophy while winners of Visitor’s Award for Innovation and Research will receive a citation and cash award of one lakh rupees.
15. Honey festival in Mangaluru from March 12
i. The Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat, in association with the Karnataka Horticulture Department, will conduct a ‘honey festival’ in Mangaluru on March 12 and 13.
ii. Addressing presspersons in Mangaluru on Thursday, PI Sreevidya, Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat, said horticulture crops are the mainstay of the district and the festival is aimed at encouraging apiculture among farmers in the district.
iii. Apart from increasing the productivity of horticulture crops, apiculture also provides a source of income to farmers, she said.
iv. Yogish HR, Deputy Director of the Karnataka Horticulture Department, said bee colonies of various species and materials required for bee-keeping would be on display at the festival.
v. The Dakshina Kannada Bee-Keepers’ Cooperative Society will make arrangements for the sale of honey at the festival. The organisers will also conduct a bee-keeping training programme as part of the honey festival on March 13, he said.