Current Affairs 12TH APRIL 2015 TO 18TH APRIL, 2015
TOURIST VISA ON ARRIVAL SCHEME RENAMED The Union Home Ministry has decided to rename the tourist visa-on-arrival scheme as ‘etourist visa’ scheme. The step is aimed at avoiding inconvenience to foreign tourists who, misled by scheme’s nomenclature, would fly into India presuming that they would be granted visa on arrival upon landing. It has been observed that the name of the scheme is creating confusion among tourists. Tourist presumed as if the visa is being granted on arrival. However in present system the pre-authorisation of visa to foreigners is being given prior to travel. The ministry also referred to the requests it had received from some Indian embassies for a change in nomenclature of the scheme. A committee of officers from the home ministry, external affairs ministry and Bureau of Immigration recently suggested renaming of ‘tourist visa on arrivalelectronic travel authorization (TVoA-ETA) scheme’ as ‘e tourist visa’ (eTV) scheme, keeping in mind the application process and purpose of the scheme. Under the ‘tourist visa on arrival-electronic travel authorization scheme’, a foreign tourist was required to apply for a visa online by uploading his photograph and passport and also paying his visa fee online. The visa authorities would then process his application and send him an electronic travel authorization, or simply e-visa, via e-mail within 72 hours. Stating that visa on arrival scheme in other countries allowed tourist to land and then get visa, a senior home ministry official said the nomenclature of the ‘TVoA-ETA’ scheme in India was misleading. TVoA-ETA facility can now be availed by tourists from 44 countries landing at nine airports across India. Around 1.10 lakh visas have been granted under the scheme so far.
NATIONAL JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS COMMISSION ACT, 2014
The Government notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 for bringing in a change in the existing system for appointment of Judges in Supreme Court and High Courts. Two Bills titled ‘The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014’ and ‘The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014’ were passed unanimously by the LokSabha and RajyaSabha. Subsequently these Bills were ratified by the required number of State legislatures before getting the President’s assent. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014 enacted as the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 were published in Gazette of India on 31st December 2014. Both the Acts were to come into force on such date as the Central Government would notify them in the Official Gazette.
GOVERNORS (ALLOWANCES AND PRIVILEGES) AMENDMENT RULES, 2015
A new set of rules to regulate official visits of Governors outside their States, mandating prior permission from the President and putting a cap of 73 days in a year as the duration of such visits, has been notified by the Union Home Ministry.
INFO-CRUX: Amending the Governors (Allowances andl Privileges) Rules, the MHA on February 10, 2015 issued a notification stating that all outstation visits of Governors will require prior approval of the President. In normal course, any communication in this regard has to be forwarded to the President’s Secretariat at least seven days in advance. The notification, which seeks to discouragel Governors’ visit to the home State, says that copies of all the communications soliciting the approval of the President for visits should also be endorsed to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Home Minister. In case of official visits, the notification providesl that without prior intimation to the President’s Secretariat, the Governor cannot undertake such visits even under any emergent or extraordinary circumstance. The Governors have to seek permission froml the President for private visits within India at least two weeks in advance, except in exceptional circumstances. Communications pertaining to private visitsl abroad have to be made at least six weeks in advance and except in extraordinary circumstances, Governors cannot undertake any out-station visit without prior approval. In case of visits due to extraordinaryl circumstances, the Governors have to intimate the President’s Secretariat as soon as the programme is finalised, providing details of the compelling reasons why it was not possible to obtain prior permission. Once the schedule for the visit is approved, itl cannot ordinarily be revised. However, in extraordinary circumstances, the President’s Secretariat has to be intimated about it before Governor’s departure from the State.
PAKISTAN AND RUSSIA TO HOLD FIRST-EVER JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE
Pakistan and Russia will hold first-ever joint military exercise as part of their enhanced defence cooperation, in a sign of increasing bonhomie between the Cold War-era adversaries. The agreement was reached during a meeting in Moscow between Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. They also agreed to enhance cooperation in both defence industry and military training. They also reached a consensus that a multi-polar world would ensure peace and balance in international relations. Pakistan and Russia last year signed a military cooperation agreement to deepen their defence ties and vowed to translate their relationship in “tangible” terms during the first-ever visit of a Russian defence minister in 45 years. Russian Defence Minister Shoigu’s visit last November to Pakistan came at a very critical juncture as US-led NATO forces drawdown from Afghanistan. Russia lifted embargoes on providing defence supplies to Pakistan and currently the two sides are working on different options to increase the ties in the defence field.
TURKEY LAUNCHES CONSTRUCTION OF FIRST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Turkey launched the construction of its first nuclear power plant, a controversial $20 billion project slammed by ecologists. The project is strongly backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of his plan to make Turkey one of the world’s top ten economies. The nuclear power station, in Akkuyu in Mersin province on the shores of the Mediterranean is being built, like Iran’s first nuclear power plant, by Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom. It is the first of three nuclear power plants Turkey currently plans to build to reduce its dependence on importing energy from exporters like Russia and Iran. A second plant is due to be built by a FrenchJapanese consortium in the Black Sea city of Sinop while a third plant whose location is yet to be finalised is also planned. The power station is expected to be completed by 2020 and will have four power units with a capacity of 1200 MW each. The launch of the power plant comes two weeks after Turkey suffered its most serious nationwide power cut in 16 years which exposed the shortcomings of its energy system.
OBAMA NOMINATES INDIAN-AMERICAN SHAMINA SINGH TO KEY POST
US President Barack Obama has nominated Indian-American businesswoman Shamina Singh to the board of directors of a federal agency The Corporation for National and Community Service which is charged with strengthening communities and fostering civic engagement through service and volunteering. The Corporation for National and Community Service engages more than five million Americans in service through its core programmes – Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and the Social Innovation Fund. She is nominated to top most post by United States President Barack Obama for term of four year i.e. till October 2019.
WORLD BANK RELEASED MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT BRIEF
The latest issue of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief states that Growth in global remittances, including those to developing countries, will slow sharply this year due to weak economic growth in Europe, deterioration of the Russian economy and the depreciation of the euro and rubble. Officially recorded remittances to the developing world are expected to reach $440 billion in 2015, an increase of 0.9 percent over the previous year. Global remittances, including those to high income countries, are projected to grow by 0.4 percent to $586 billion. The 2015 remittance growth rates are the slowest since the global financial crisis in 2008/09. Nonetheless, the number of international migrants is expected to exceed 250 million in 2015, and their savings and remittances are expected to continue to grow.
RUSSIA LIFTED BAN ON DELIVERY OF S-300 MISSILE SYSTEM TO IRAN
Russia has lifted a ban on supplying Iran with a sophisticated air defence missile system. Delivery of the S-300s was cancelled in 2010 after the UN imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. But the Russian president gave the go-ahead after Tehran struck an interim deal with world powers to curb nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. The US and Israel have criticised the news.
INDIA & WORLD
A JOINT STATEMENT FOR A NEW BEGINNING
A joint statement titled “New Vigour, New Steps” was issued by the Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, in order to elevate their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. Modi’s visit to Canada is the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 42 years.
INDIA, BELARUS TO ENHANCE TIES
India and Belarus agreed to enhance their bilateral ties, especially in the field of trade and economy.India also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interests with Belarus which is a land-locked country in Eastern Europe bordering Russia during the meeting of Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.The two Ministers discussed bilateral issues including high level political engagement, trade and investment, science and technology, defence, energy and culture. India and Belarus enjoy friendly and mutually beneficial relations in various fields.
INDIA-GERMANY TO STRENGTHEN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
The Prime Minister of India and the Federal Chancellor of Germany, met in Hannover and Berlin to exchange views on upgrading and further strengthening our Strategic Partnership. They viewed each other’s development as mutually reinforcing and offering significant opportunities for expanding cooperation between the two countries. The common objective was to encourage greater synergies between German engineering, experience in sustainable development, innovation and skills, and the new opportunities available in India and through ‘Make in India’, ‘Clean India’, ‘Digital India’ and other initiatives towards achieving economic growth and sustainable development. India’s participation as Partner Country at Hannover Messe 2015 is a welcome expression of our common desire to strengthen this cooperation.
5TH SAARC HEALTH MINISTERS MEET
The 5th meeting of SAARC Health Ministers held at New Delhi adopted the “Delhi Declaration on Public Health Challenges”.
INFO-CRUX: The SAARC Member States account for nearlyl a quarter of the world population and face similar or even same challenges in the field of public health, prevention of diseases and providing better quality of life for citizens. The members agreed to cooperate for combatingl mental disorders, including autism and neurodevelopment disorders, through a multipronged approach encompassing a Mental Health Policy, a life cycle approach to address the needs of such individuals throughout life, sharing of innovations in the field of Mental Health Promotion, diagnosis and management and exchange of best practices and experiences amongst SAARC Member States; To extend cooperation amongst the Memberl States for capacity development of human resources in public health and clinical medicine; To attach high priority to combat anti-microbiall resistance, on prevention, systems of infection control, correct prescription and consumption practices, access to antibiotics, R&D and impact of antibiotic use in agricultural and animal husbandry sectors, while also carrying out assessment of the financial and other resources required therefore; To enhance regional collaboration andl partnership in health research among SAARC countries by identifying the nodal technical officers from respective health/medical research councils/units/departments, to provide list of scientists, researchers, investigators from each country to develop and undertake joint collaborative research projects in the prioritized areas, to provide the list of laboratories ready to offer training / exchange of expertise with other member states and to organize Research Methodology Workshops; To cooperate in improving the standards,l certification and regulatory mechanisms for drugs and pharmaceuticals with a view to promoting availability of quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medicines in all SAARC Member States.; To promote access to medicines including, ifl necessary, through the use of TRIPS flexibilities and encourage to take steps to promote these in the bilateral and regional trade agreements in order to protect public health interest; To cooperate in the field of traditional systemsl of medicines, including by encouraging visits of experts, organization of symposia, promotion of courses on traditional medicine under [ 1 2 ] Weekly Current Affairs 12th April 2015 to 18th April, 2015 www.ias100.in international fellowships or country support programmes, up-gradation of educational standards, quality assurance and standardization of drugs, improving the availability of medicinal plant materials, research & development, awareness generation, etc.;
INDIA AND FRANCE SIGNED 20 MOUS AND AGREEMENTS TO GIVE NEW IMPETUS TO BILATERAL CO-OPERATION
India and France signed 20 Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) and Agreements to give new impetus to bilateral co-operation between the two nations. These agreements are Defence and Nuclear Energy, Space, Economic relations, Railways, Energy, Tourism, Science and Technology, Skill Development and Ayurveda. Agreement of Defence and Nuclear Energy – MoU between L&T and AREVA- under this MoU aims at cost reduction by increasing localization, to improve the financial viability of Jaitapur project. Pre-engineering agreements (PEA) between NPCIL and Arevat Agreement of Space- MoU between on Megha Tropiques, MOU for Ka-band propagation experiment over Indian tropical region and Programme between ISRO and French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). Agreement of Sports- The MoU envisages cooperation and exchange of experiences in the fields of sports medicine, management and coordination of sports federations and establishment of National Institute of Sports in India based on French model of INSEP. Agreement of Economic Relations- MoU on cooperation in the field of renewable energy and it cover as solar, wind, bio-energy, tidal and wave energy sectors. Agreement of Railways- Railway protocol between Indian Ministry of Railways and French National Railways (SNCF).
BHEL, RUSSIAN FIRM INK PACT FOR SET UP POWER PLANT IN KAZAKHSTAN State-owned power equipment maker BHEL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Russian company INTMA, to set up a gasbased power project in Kazakhstan. The MoU will further help BHEL in consolidating its presence in the CIS countries. Primarily engaged in manufacturing of power plant equipment like gas turbines, steam turbines, hydro turbines and boilers, BHEL has robust experience in construction of power plants in India and overseas. BHEL is currently executing 23 major projects in 16 countries and has a presence in more than 75 countries.
INDIA AND FRANCE AGREE TO 17 TERMS INCLUDING STALLED NUCLEAR PROJECT
India and France signed 17 agreements, including the stalled nuclear project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with French President Francois Hollande. An MoU was signed between Larsen and Tubro and AREVA aimed at cost reduction by increasing localisation, to improve the financial viability of the Jaitapur project. The agreement will also enable transfer of technology and development of indigenous nuclear energy industry in India. MoU was also signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) on the Indo-French Megha Tropiques satellite which was launched on board the Indian launch vehicle PSLV on October 12, 2011. The MoU shall extend by two more years, the joint project for sharing and use of data from the satellite. Under space cooperation, an agreement was also signed between ISRO and CNES. The agreement proposes cooperation in the areas of satellite remote sensing, satellite communications and satellite meteorology among others.
MHA RENAMES TOURIST VISA ON ARRIVAL SCHEME AS ETOURIST VISA
The Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to change the name of the scheme ‘Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorization’ to ‘e-Tourist Visa’ (eTV) (from April 15, 2015). The extension of the scheme to more countries and airports will be in a phased manner, in order to avoid any confusion. Government of India had launched ‘Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization’ (TVoA-ETA) on 27th November, 2014 to 44 countries at nine airports to facilitate short duration international travellers. Since the launch of the scheme, one lakh ten thousand (1,10,000) Visas have been issued by Government under this scheme. It has been observed that the name of the scheme (TVoA-ETA) is creating confusion among tourists. Tourists presumed as if the Visa is being granted on arrival, however in present system the pre-authorization of Visa to foreigners is being given prior to travel. Ministry of Home Affairs had also received the requests of name change from some Indian embassies.
OIL INDIA’S WIND ENERGY PROJECTS IN GUJARAT, MADHYA PRADESH
Oil India, the nation’s second largest state-owned oil explorer, today said it has commissioned a 54 MW wind energy project in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Saddled between the two states, the project is split between a 16 MW capacity plant at Patan in Gujarat and a 38 MW at Chandgarh in Madhya Pradesh. The project costs Rs 439 crore – – Rs 126.5 crore for the Gujarat side and Rs 312.45 crore for the Madhya Pradesh location. With this, OIL’s installed renewable energy capacity (commercial wind energy and solar energy projects) stands at an impressive 126.60 MW. The Project, fully funded by OIL, is being run by Gamesa Wind Turbines, Chennai, who are the project developers.
SOUTH ASIA, NOW THE FASTEST-GROWING REGION IN THE WORLD
Driven by a strong expansion in India, coupled with favorable oil prices, economic growth in South Asia is expected to accelerate. The region is among the greatest global beneficiaries from cheap oil, as all countries in it are net oil importers. In the last quarter of 2014 South Asia was already the fastestgrowing region in the world, a World Bank report said. According to the twice-a-year South Asia Economic Focus report, regional growth is projected to steadily increase from 7 percent in 2015 to 7.6 percent by 2017 through maintaining strong consumption and increasing investment. Given India’s weight in regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the projections reflect to a large extent India’s expected growth acceleration, driven by business-oriented reforms and improved investor sentiment.
WEF RELEASED A REPORT TITLED URBAN DEVELOPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INDIA UNDER FUDS INITIATIVE
The World Economic Forum (WEF) report said India needs more than $640 billion investments between 2012 and 2031 to deliver basic infrastructure for the country’s growing urban population. According to it India needs a “stable policy framework” to bring in private investments for developing urban infrastructure which faces a fund shortage of $110 billion. The report titled ‘The Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative: Urban Development Recommendations for the Government of India’ has been prepared by WEF in collaboration with consultancy firm Accenture.
SCIENCE & TECH TRAI:
INDIA RANKS 113TH IN WIRELESS BROADBAND PENETRATION
The telecom regulator has called for an almost complete overhaul of the structure put in place by the government for connecting the country. India ranks 113th in wireless broadband penetration, 125th in fixed broadband, 75th in terms of household penetration in developing markets and is among the 42 least connected countries in the world, according to the report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). In the wireless or mobile broadband segment, India is ranked at 113th with a penetration of 3.2 per 100 inhabitants. According to the report, in ICT (information and communications technology) access, use and skills, India ranks 129th, behind countries like Sri Lanka (116), Sudan (122), Bhutan (123) and Kenya (124). TRAI said the reason for the dismal state of broadband in India cuts across the entire ecosystem for connecting the country. These include issues related to the treatment of spectrum; infrastructure (including towers, optical fibre and back haul spectrum) as well as right of way (RoW) issues.
MARS MIGHT HAVE TRANSIENT LIQUID WATER
After finding strong evidence supporting the presence of lake, river and glacier once upon a time on Mars, scientists have now found indirect evidence to support the presence of transient liquid water brine (very salty water) on Mars. The brine is likely to be present in the uppermost 5 cm of the Mars soil from sunset to sunrise during winter and for shorter windows of time during other seasons.
SFC SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED AGNI-III MISSILE
India successfully test-fired nuclear weaponscapable Agni-III ballistic missile from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast on April 16, 2015. Although the missile has a strike range of more than 3,000 km, it was tested for a lesser range, in this mission. The surface to surface missile was launched by the personnel of Strategic Forces Command (SFC) from a mobile launcher as part of regular training exercise for the user.
ROSETTA MISSION: COMET 67P MAY NOT BE MAGNETISED
Researchers of the Rosetta Mission have made a sensational discovery — the comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko may not have a magnetic field. This discovery is important because it calls into question some of the theories of formation of structures, such as our solar system, in which magnetic field is crucial to the formation of clumps of matter which later grew to become large celestial bodies. When the Rosetta mission arrived at its destination, floating in sync with the comet 67P, it dropped a Lander, Philae, which contained instruments for measuring various parameters on the comet, including its magnetic field. Philae was supposed to anchor itself, by means of some harpoons, to the surface of the comet on landing. However, this mechanism failed, and it bounced off the surface a couple of times to land some distance away, following a complex path.
ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT U.N. REPORT: INDIA 5TH BIGGEST GENERATOR OF E-WASTE
India is the fifth biggest producer of e-waste in the world; discarding 1.7 million tonnes (Mt) of electronic and electrical equipment in 2014. The UN report has warned that the volume of global ewaste is likely to rise by 21 per cent in next three years. The ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2014’, compiled by U.N.’s think tank United Nations University (UNU), on April 20, 2015 revealed that at 32 per cent, the U.S. and China produced the most ewaste overall in 2014. India is behind the U.S., www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  China, Japan and Germany. Most e-waste in the world in 2014 was generated in Asia at 16 Mt or 3.7 kg per inhabitant. The top three Asian nations with the highest ewaste generation in absolute quantities are China (6.0 Mt), Japan (2.2 Mt) and India (1.7 Mt).