Current Affairs – 12th Jan to 18th January 2015
IDUKKI GIFTED WITH RURAL BROADBAND NETWORK
In a giant leap to bridge the digital divide between urban and the rural India by linking all the gram panchayats in the country through the common platform of optical fibre cable and to transform the country into a knowledge economy, India’s first high- speed rural broadband network, the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN), was commissioned in Kerala’s Idukki district. With this, the district, which has a large tribal and rural population, has become the country’s first district to have its village panchayats connected to NOFN, the world’s largest rural broadband connectivity project through optical fibre cable. This tribal gram panchayat is 34 km away from the nearest town and has no road connectivity, electricity or piped water. This settlement was connected to NOFN through VSAT media which has also provided them with voice connectivity. All the 52 other gram panchayats in the district have been connected by optical fibre cables.ational Optical Fibre Network(NOFN) At present OFC (Optical Fibre Cable) connectivity is available in all State Capitals, Districts, HQs and upto the Block Level. There is a plan to connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country. This will be done by utilizing existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) and laying incremental fibre to connect to Gram Panchayats wherever necessary. Dark fibre network thus created will be lit by appropriate technology thus creating sufficient bandwidth at the Gram Panchayats. This will be called the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN). Thus connectivity gap between Gram Panchayats and Blocks will be filled.
Non-discriminatory access to the NOFN will be provided to all the Service Providers. These service providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators and Content providers can launch various services in rural areas. Various categories of applications like e-health, e-education and e-governance etc. can be provided by these operators. The NOFN project is estimated to cost about Rs. 20,000 Cr. It is proposed to be completed in 2 years’ time. The project will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
Provisions of the COTPA (Amendment) Bill 2015
• The bill proposes to ban on-site advertising of tobacco products and shops selling cigarettes and other tobacco products will no longer be able to display the brand names.
• It proposed scrapping of designated smoking areas from hotels, restaurants and airports making an exception only for international airports to prevent exposure of non-smokers to harmful emissions.
• The penalty for smoking in restricted areas has been raised from 200 to 1000 rupees.
Anyone found producing tobacco products without the specified warning will be liable for imprisonment for up to two years for the first offence or fine up to 50000 rupees or both.
For the second and subsequent offences, the imprisonment can be up to five years with a fine of up to 1 lakh rupees.
Selling products without warning will incur a fine of up to 10000 rupees or a jail term of up to one year or both and subsequent offence will draw a fine of up to 25000 rupees and a jail term of two years.
Tobacco products and cigarettes in approved packaging will now be sold only to those above 21 years of age. The proposed age limit will be revised after evaluating the impact of raising the minimum age.
First broad gauge railway track in DimaHasao
Dima Hasao District of Assam got its first broad gauge railway track on 12 January 2015. A goods train with 43 wagons reached the main railway station of the Dima Hasao district using this broad gauge track. The train in its first ever journey covered 98 km from Patharkhula station to New- Haflong station while crossing 9 tunnels, 15 stations, 15 major bridges and 135 minor
SCHEMES TO SUPPORT SCHEDULED CASTES
The Government of India has launched this ‘Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes’ with initial capital of Rs. 200 croreto encourage budding and existing entrepreneurs from Scheduled Castes
(SCs). IFCI Ltd. will act as Sponsor, Settler and Asset Management Company (AMC) / Nodal Agency to operate the scheme. The IFCI Ltd. would contribute Rs.50 crore which would comprise Rs.5.00 crore as sponsor and Rs. 45 crore as investor.
RIC READERS HANDED OVER TO NAVY
In a measure aimed at strengthening coastal security, the Union home ministry began issuing resident identity card (RIC) reader machines to the Navy and Coast Guard to read the RICs issued to residents of coastal villages across nine states and four UTs. ““INFO-CRUX:
These cards readers will initially be issued to the Navy and Coast Guard and later to the Maritime Police stations and State Governments. With this, the coastal agencies can identify genuine residents in coastal villages and track any infiltrators.
The office of Registrar General of India/Census Commissioner has so far issued RICs to around 65 lakh residents in 3,331 coastal villages across 9 maritime states and four Union territories.
The RIC reader has unique security features, including a key management system that allows the machine to read cards only after the key in the reader is authenticated by a verification authentication card. To insulate the card readers from online tampering and data theft, the home ministry has ensured that they work only in an offline mode.
INDIA & The World
INDIA, US AGREES TO FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA TOGETHER
India and the United States have agreed to jointly fight Ebola. Under the agreement, Indian health care personnel will be trained in Ebola control and treatment procedures. The Indian Council of Medical Research is already working on producing a vaccine for Ebola. But this MoU will focus on capacity building in areas of Ebola control.
Though India has had no reported cases of Ebola, the disease has so far claimed over 7,000 lives in the affected countries. Another MoU is to be signed between the National Cancer Institute, U.S. and the upcoming National Cancer Institute in Jhajjar, for sharing of treatment plans, expertise and research. The NCI in the United States coordinates the National Cancer Programme, which conducts and supports research, training, healthinformation dissemination, and other programmes with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation and the continuing care of cancer patients and their families. At the institute in Jhajjar being developed by the AIIMS, cancer research will be the area of focus apart from patient care and management.
MOU TO ENCOURAGE SPORTS
In a hope to spread trade relationship with India to the area of sports, Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop skills and career opportunities in the country.The partnership between SEDA, which is based in Victoria, and the Indian body of equivalent stature, is expected to encourage the development of sports and fitness vocational courses in India. “The MoU was signed between SEDA (Skills Education Development Australia, a statutory education provider in Victoria) and IL&FS, an infrastructure and financial company that runs skill development centres across the country as part of its education services. The MoU is part of a much broader relationship between the two countries beyond just business deals. The pilot project would see ex-SEDA students train 90 people as fitness instructors in March.
BORDER HAAT AT SRINAGAR-FENI BORDER Tripura located in an advantageous position in respect of strategic, diplomatic and economic relations with Bangladesh is likely to become the gateway in tandem with implementation of the ‘Act East’ policy adopted by the Government of India.
The first border ‘haat’, or market, along the Tripura-Bangladesh frontier will be inaugurated at Srinagar in south district of the state on January 13.Business in the ‘haat’ would take place once a week among the people living within 5 km radius of the border who would sell and buy locally produced goods and crops. No local taxes would be imposed on the items to be sold in the haats and currencies of both the countries would be accepted.Initially, 16 items were shortlisted which include agricultural and horticultural crops, spices, minor forest products excluding timber, fish and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items.
INDIA-ASEAN FTA TO BE OPERATIONAL SOON
The free trade pact in services and investment between India and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to come into effect in July.
India and the 10-nation ASEAN announced the conclusion of talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on investments and services in December 2012, when the two sides met in New Delhi for the India-ASEAN commemorative summit marking 20 years of India’s association with the grouping. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
NMET TO HAVE RS 500 CR CORPUS
The National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) to be set up by the government is likely to have a corpus of Rs 500 crore to begin with and within the next four years it would be doubled toRs 1,000 crore. Through the M ines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 promulgated recently, the government has announced setting up of the NMET, to promote more exploration of non-coal minerals and meet the growing needs of the domestic steel, aluminium, copper and other utilities. As per the ordinance, holders of mining leases or prospecting-cum-mining leases would pay to the NMET a sum equivalent to 2 per cent of the royalty they pay to the government.
SCIENCE & TECH.
‘BRIDGMANITE’ IS THE NEW NAME
The mineral that makes 38 per cent of Earth has finally been named as bridgmanite. For around 50 years, the mineral, a form of magnesium iron silicate found 660 km inside Earth, could not be studied or named because it did not survive the trip to the surface and its properties remained unknown. It had hitherto remained nameless as a large enough sample of the mineral, found in the earth’s lower mantle, had not been recovered. Under the rules of set down by the International Mineralogical Association, a mineral cannot be given a formal name until a specimen has been found and examined first hand. A group of American geologists were recently able to extract a sample large enough to analyse from a meteorite. The new name is in honour of Percy Bridgman, a pioneer in the use of high pressure experiments to better understand how many geological formations come about.
MENINGITIS VACCINE TO PROTECT INFANTS The meningitis A vaccine (MenAfriVac) manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Pune was approved by WHO (World Health Organisation) a few days ago for use in infants in sub-Saharan African populations. The vaccine will be introduced as part of the routine immunisation programme.
In the four years since its introduction in Africa, MenAfriVac has had an immediate and dramatic impact in breaking the cycle of meningitis A epidemics. The vaccine has already been used in those aged 1-29 years. But with the WHO’s approval, the vaccine can be given to infants thereby protecting million more children at risk of the deadly disease. About 200,000 people suffer from meningitis every year in the region. The disease kills 20,000 to 25,000 people in the region every year.
The WHO has approved the use of a 5 microgram dose of the vaccine for children, which will be administered when theyare nine months old. Immunisation at nine months will help achieve sustainable disease control following mass campaigns that target people belonging to the 1-29 age group. A booster dose will be given when the child is 12-18 months old
S. Kiran Kumar
S Kiran Kumar, the Director of the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, has been appointed the new head of the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He succeeds K Radhakrishnan.
Kumar joined ISRO in 1975 and worked his way up to become the SAC director in 2012. He has played a key role in the design and development of electro-optical imaging sensors for airborne, low earth orbit and geostationary orbit satellites including for Chandrayaan-I mission, India’s first lunar mission.Kumar has also made major contributions in the design and realization of communication, navigation, microwave and remote sensing payloads.
H.S. Brahma, the senior-most Election Commissioner has taken charge as the next Chief Election Commissioner of India.
Brahma, who hails from Assam, is an IAS officer from the 1975 batch of the Andhra Pradesh cadre. Like Sampath, the former CEC, he too held the post of Power Secretary before being appointed Election Commissioner in August 2010. He will hold office for only a very short period, until he turns 65 on April 19 this year. Brahma has also held posts such as Joint Secretary (Border Management) in the Union Home Ministry.
Opposition conservative Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic was elected Croatia’s first female president.“Grabar-Kitarovic, an ex-foreign minister and former NATO official, won 50.4 per cent of the vote, according to results based on more than 99 per cent of the ballots cast. The 46-year-old candidate of the main opposition HDZ party becomes the first woman to take the helm of the European Union’s newest member. She is also the first female head of state chosen by voters in the largely patriarchal Balkans region since Albania’s JatifeteJahjaga was elected by parliament in 2011.
Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, popularly known as S.K. Sinha, has been appointed the 21st Chief Justice of Bangladesh. The first non-Muslim to lead the country’s top judiciary, Justice Sinha is the first Chief Justice from the country’s ethnic minority Hindu community. He was the senior- most judge of Appellate Division of the Supreme Court who was made the next Chief Justice. Justice Sinha will serve just over three years as the Chief Justice with his retirement due in early 2018.
The list of the winners is as follows: ““Motion Pictures““Picture, Drama:Boyhood
Picture, Musical or Comedy: The Grand Budapest Hotel“Actor, Drama: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything“Actress, Drama: Julianne Moore, Still Alice“Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood“Actor, Musical or Comedy: Michael Keaton, Birdman“Actress, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, Big Eyes“Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash“Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood“Foreign Language: Leviathan“Animated Film:How to Train Your Dragon 2“Screenplay: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman“Original Score: Johann Johannsson, ‘The theory of everything’ “Original Song: ‘Glory’ (music by John Legend, Common), Selma““Television Series, Drama: The Affair“Actor, Drama: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards“Actress, Drama: Ruth Wilson, The Affair“Series, Musical or Comedy:Transparent“Actress, Musical or Comedy: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin“Actor, Musical or Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent“Miniseries or Movie: Fargo“Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman“Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo“Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey“Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart“Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement
Governor of the Year Award
Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan became the ‘Governor of the Year’ in the Central Banking Journal Awards for 2015.Rajan was one of three individuals to be honoured this year, with former IMF MD Jacques de Larosière winning the lifetime achievement award after a lengthy struggle for monetary order. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) scooped the prize for Central Bank of the Year.
Sahitya Akademi Award 2014 for Sanskrit
PrabhuNathDwivedi has been named as the winner of the SahityaAkademi Award for Sanskrit, 2014. Dwivedi won the award for his collection of 16 short stories called ‘Kanakalochanaha’. He is an author of four books and was earlier a professor at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi. In 2012, he also served as a member of the selection committee for the Akademi’s prize for translation. The award for Sanskrit is the last of the 24 to be announced. The winners include photographer and Gujarati writer Ashvin Mehta, who passed away last year.
Ronaldo retains the Ballond’or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the second year in a row and the third time in his career, ahead of Argentinean Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer of Germany. As of 2014, Ronaldo is the most recent recipient of the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo retained football’s highest individual honor after scoring 61 goals last year.
Other award winners are:
World Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew won the men’s coaching award.
Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler named the best women’s player in 2014.
Ralf Kellermann won the coaching award for women’s football.
Colombian James Rodriguez won the Puskas Award for the goal of the year.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave his annual award to 90-year-old Japanese journalist Hiroshi Kagawa, who worked at his 10th World Cup in Brazil.The Fair Play award went to FIFA tournament volunteer workers.
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