Current Affairs 24TH MAY 2015 TO 30TH MAY, 2015
GANGA-BRAHMAPUTRA BASIN MAPPED
The Ganga-Bramhaputra Basin together store around 960 cubic km of water, researchers have claimed in a first first-of-its-kind study after mapping the rivers, and said it will help understand droughts and floods to better manage water resources in the region. Scientists from India, the U.K., France and Bangladesh undertook mapping of the two rivers during 2003 to 2007 from the basins with the help of satellite images. Researchers estimated an annual variation of 410 cubic km for surface water and 550 cubic km for soil water. This study is the first of its kind as these estimates have never before been calculated for the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin. Researcher Fabrice Papa is from the Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences, a joint International Laboratory between the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Institut de Recherche pour le Development (IRD) in France. The research also stated that both surface and sub-surface water storage also show strong year-to-year variability. During the monsoon of 2006, which can be considered as a drought year, there was a 30 per cent deficit in water storage in the basin when compared to that of the other years. The Ganges-Brahmaputra basin covers a large area, extending over India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh. The basin houses rivers, floodplains, lakes, wetlands and the largest delta in world, all of which contribute significantly to the regional climate; groundwater, surface water and rainfall form an interconnected cycle and are constantly affecting each other
TRIPURA WITHDRAWS AFSPA
The Tripura government has revoked the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), a controversial law that gives the army sweeping emergency powers in troubled areas, as insurgency is on the wane in the State. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar announced the decision after a meeting with his Council of Ministers here on May 27, 2015. The repeal of the Act, which has been in force in the State since February 1997, came less than a month after the election to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. The CPI(M)-led Left Front won the election, though it lost a nine per cent vote share to a tribal party. Tribal parties such as the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura and the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura had been demanding the withdrawal of the Act, saying it was aimed at suppressing the State’s 33 per cent tribal population. The Chief Minister noted that the Left front government had earlier tried to repeal the AFSPA, but did not get the consent of the security establishment. The situation has changed to a great extent now. He said the State government had reviewed security matters and the Council of Ministers approved the decision to withdraw the AFSPA. The meeting decided to allow movement of traffic on the Assam-Agartala National Highway till midnight.
TWO MORE UNITS AT HOSHANGABAD TO PRINT BANK NOTES
The government will set up two more units of paper mills of 12,000 tonnes capacity at Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad (Madhya Pradesh) to produce large denomination currency notes domestically. On May 31, 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had inaugurated the new bank note paper line of 6,000 tonnes capacity and also flagged off the first consignment of Rs 1,000 bank note [ 6 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in paper made indigenously to Currency Note Press at Nashik. The New Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad will give India indigenously produced currency note paper and will prove to be a major step toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The mill would produce 6,000 tonnes of paper on which currency notes of denominations — Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 — will be printed. Earlier, the paper to print high denomination currency was imported. Jaitley said that the new facility will would ensure huge savings on foreign exchange. A New Security Paper Mill through a joint venture has been established at Mysore in Karnataka. Earlier, the Hoshangabad facility produced paper for printing of currency notes of smaller denominations only. The ink used in printing of the bank notes is mostly produced within India. The new Bank Note Paper Line’s foundation stone was laid by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in December 2011.
UN REPORT: INDIA TOPS WORLD HUNGER
LIST According to United Nations annual hunger report, India is home to the highest number of hungry people in the world, at 194 million, surpassing China. At the global level, the corresponding figure dropped to 795 million in 2014-15, from 1 billion in 1990-92, with East Asia led by China accounting for most of the reductions, UN body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) revealed in its report titled ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015.’ India too saw a reduction between 1990 and 2015. In 1990-92, those who were starved of food in India numbered 210.1 million, which came down to 194.6 million in 2014-15. The report was released in Rome, headquarters of FAO, on May 28, 2015. The report stated that India has made great strides in reducing the proportion of food insecure persons in the overall population, but according to FAO, it still has over 194 million hungry persons. India’s numerous social programmes are expected to continue to fight hunger and poverty. However, China stood out as the reduction in the number of hungry people was much higher than in India, which came down to 133.8 million in 2014-15 from 289 million in 1990-92.
GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETING ON PULSES
Alarmed over the rising prices of pulses, the Centre has convened a meeting of committee of secretaries to review the situation. The panel will also look at onion prices as part of advance planning. The concern is in respect of four varieties of pulses. Tur/arhar is selling 50.68 per cent higher over last year at Rs. 110 per kg, gram dal is higher by 40 per cent at Rs. 70 per kg, urad dal is up by 53.52 per cent at Rs. 109 per kg and masoor dal is higher by 36.23 per cent at Rs. 94 per kg. The prices of pulses are appreciating owing to shortfall in production due to inclement weather and unseasonal rain that hit the rabi pulses production. There are also reports of hoarding by traders. The Agriculture Ministry revised downward the production of pulses this year in its third advance estimates released on May 13, 2015. The revised estimates for 2014-15 put pulses output at 17.38 million tonnes as against 18.43 million tonnes for corresponding estimates in 2013-14, a shortfall of 5.6 per cent.
CHINA SETS UP LARGEST GOLD SECTOR FUND FOR NATIONS ALONG ANCIENT SILK ROAD
China, the world’s biggest gold producer, has set up a gold sector fund involving countries along the ancient Silk Road which is expected to raise $16.1 billion. The fund, led by Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), is expected to raise an estimated 100 billion Yuan ($16.1 billion) in three phases, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. It is said to be the “largest fund” set up by China. l The fund has been set up in northwest Xi’an city during an ongoing forum on investment and trade. l China is the world’s largest gold producer, and also a major importer and consumer of gold. l Among the 65 countries along the routes of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, there are numerous Asian countries identified as important reserve bases and consumers of gold. l About 60 countries have invested in the fund, which will in turn facilitate gold purchase for the central banks of member states to increase their holdings of the precious metal, the report said. l China does not have a big say in gold pricing because it accounts for a small share of international gold trade. l The Chinese government seeks to increase the influence of RMB in gold pricing by opening the domestic gold market to international investors. l The fund will invest in gold mining in countries along the Silk Road, which will increase exploration in countries such as Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEMOCRACY INDEX
World Resources Institute (WRI) and partners in the Access Initiative launched the Environmental Democracy Index (EDI), the first publicly available, online platform to track countries’ progress in enacting national laws to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in environmental decision making. The index evaluates environmental democracy in 70 countries, including 75 legal and 24 practice indicators, based on recognized international standards. With a number of critical moments in environment and sustainability in 2015, advancing good governance and environmental rights are essential. This index is a powerful lever that will help governments to become more transparent and ordinary citizens to advocate for more rights. For the first time, there is an objective, common index to understand the state of environmental democracy for countries around the world, which is essential to strengthen laws and public participation around environmental issues. l Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the US, South Africa, the UK, Hungary, Bulgaria, Panama and Colombia are the top 10 nations in the list l India has ranked 24th out of 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index. l According to the report, 93 per cent of the assessed countries have established the right to environmental information. However, almost half of these countries (45 per cent) do not have strong protections to ensure that access to information is affordable and timely. l The vast majority of countries assessed (79 per cent) earned only fair or poor ratings for public participation, the report said, adding that many nations lag on providing citizens basic environmental information. l Nearly half (46 per cent) of the countries assessed do not provide any ambient air quality data online for their capital cities. l In 73 per cent of the countries, courts will hear environmental cases. But very few countries assessed have assistance for marginalized groups.
ASIA BECOMES WORLD’S LARGEST INVESTOR REGION: UNCTAD REPORT
Asia has become, for the first time, the world’s largest investor region with 440 billion U.S. dollars invested in 2014, followed by North America (390 billion U.S. dollars) and Europe (286 billion U.S. dollars), according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The global investment trend monitor published by the UNCTAD showed among 20 largest investors, nine were either from developing or transition economies, while China became the third largest investor in the world. The report said in 2014, transnational corporations (TNCs) from developing economies alone invested almost half a trillion U.S. dollars abroad — a 30 percent increase from the previous year. Their share in global foreign direct investment (FDI) reached a record of 36 percent, up from 12 percent in 2007, the year prior to the financial crisis. The report noted investments by TNCs in developed countries were largely flat at 792 billion U.S. dollars, with a modest rise in flows from North America and Europe more than offset by a 16 percent decline in Japanese investment abroad. More than half of investments from TNCs based in developing economies were in equity, while as much as four-fifths of FDI outflows from developed country TNCs were in the form of reinvested earnings — the result of record amounts of cash reserves in their foreign affiliates. UNCTAD estimates that TNC investment appetite will improve, encouraged by better economic prospects, especially in the United States, proactive monetary policy in the euro zone and large cash holdings of companies.
RUSSIA ENACTS LAW BANNING UNDESIRABLE NGOS
Russian President Vladimir Putin officially enacted a controversial law banning “undesirable” non-governmental organisations, in a move condemned by human rights groups across the board. l The law allows authorities to bar foreign civil society groups seen as threatening Russia’s “defence capabilities” or “constitutional foundations” and go after local activists working with them. l Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country. l It also allows them to block the bank accounts of the organisations until the NGOs “account for their actions” to the Russian authorities. l Supporters presented the law as a “preventative measure”, necessary after the wave of Western sanctions put in place over the Ukraine conflict. l The measure complements legislation already passed in 2012, which forces NGOs that receive foreign funds to register as a “foreign agent. Lawmakers cited the need to stop “destructive organisations” working in Russia, which could threaten the “value of the Russian state” and stir up “colour revolutions”, the name given to proWestern movements seen in some former Soviet republics over the last several years.
SWITZERLAND NAMED TWO INDIANS UNDER PROBE IN ITS OFFICIAL GAZETTE
Two Indian women figure among scores of foreign nationals with Swiss bank accounts, whose names have been made public by Switzerland in its official gazette for being probed in their www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  respective countries. Making public these names, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has asked the two Indians to file an appeal within 30 days before the Federal Administrative Court if they do not want their details to be shared with the Indian authorities under their ‘mutual assistance’ treaty on tax matters. However, no further details — other than their dates of birth — were made public for the two “Indian nationals” — Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney. Similar is the case for other foreign nationals including the British, Spanish and Russians. However, in case of American and Israeli citizens, their full names have been withheld and they have been identified by their initials and dates of birth. l At least 40 such ‘final notices’ have been published in the Swiss Federal Gazette so far this month, while more such names are expected to be published going forward. l The alleged stashing of wealth by Indians in Swiss banks has been a matter of great debate in India. l The Indian government has been pushing the Swiss authorities for a long time to share information on the suspected tax evaders, while Switzerland has shared some details in cases where India has been able to provide some independent evidence of suspected tax evasion by Indian clients of Swiss banks. l These names are being published in the Swiss Federal Gazette in the backdrop of the Swiss government being flooded with requests on suspected black money hoarders in Swiss banks from various countries including India. l As per these notices, the concerned persons can file an appeal before the Federal Administrative Court within 30 days, while providing the reasons and evidence in their support. l Through these gazette notices, the Swiss FTA is also looking to give the concerned persons an opportunity to resort to legal remedies. These are the persons about whom foreign governments are requesting information. l The Swiss authorities have been “inundated with requests for assistance” and the nations that wanted to know details about their suspected tax-dodging citizens included “France, Germany, Russia, India and half a dozen other countries“. l Now, the Authority will publish the names of those affected in the Federal Gazette, which is available to everyone on the internet, and these named may include “well-known personalities.” l Committing full support to India’s fight against the black money menace, Switzerland last week had said its Parliament would soon consider changes in laws to look into the possibility of sharing information in cases being probed on the basis of stolen data of Swiss bank accounts. l Switzerland’s Economic Affairs Minister Johann Schneider Ammann during his India visit on May 15 said that the Swiss government was sensitive to the fact that the issue of black money was very important for India and needed to be resolved.
UN ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS IN CONFLICT ZONES
Called on by an NGO for reporters “Reporters without Borders”, the United Nations has adopted a resolution for the protection of journalists in conflict zones. The resolution was passed on May 27, 2015. This was due to the threat that extremist groups pose against the safety of the journalists in war zones like Syria and Iraq. There had not been any resolution or security to protect the journalists and reporters who cover the areas in conflict. Many of them have been killed, murdered or abducted. According to Reporters without Borders, more than 700 have been killed over the past 10 years; more than 150 professionals and journalists have been killed in Syria alone and [ 1 0 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in more than 30 have been taken hostage and then beheaded by the extremist groups. The concern came after the videos of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff and freelancer James Foley surfaced which were released by ISIL militants. The resolution says that the work of the impartial media constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and thus, should be protected. The United Nations has asked its member-states to take steps to ensure the safety of its journalists
RUSSIA BEGINS MASSIVE AIR FORCE EXERCISE
Russia’s military forces have begun a large exercise involving around 250 aircraft and 12,000 service personnel. The Defence ministry of Russia described the four-day drill as a “massive surprise inspection”, to check combat readiness. l The tests began on the same day as NATO and some of its partners started an Arctic training exercise. l Russia’s actions in Ukraine and incursions into Western airspace have led to rising tensions with the West. l The inspection of the aviation group and air defence forces in the central military district involves almost 700 weapons and pieces of military hardware. l During the exercise, Russia’s long-range aircraft are due to carry out cruise missile strikes on practice targets in the Komi republic. l Russia has been heavily criticised in recent months over increased air activity around the Nordic countries, including several reported airspace violations by military aircraft. l Nato’s two-week training exercise in the region – which began on the same day as Russia’s tests – will be based in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland. It will involve 115 fighter planes and 3,600 troops from nine countries. l The Arctic Challenge Exercise will also involve troops and planes from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands – all Nato members – as well as neutral Switzerland. l The exercise is the second of its kind, following similar tests in 2013. l The defence ministers of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, along with Iceland’s foreign minister, signed a joint declaration in April in which they called Russia’s military aggression “the biggest challenge to European security”.
USA GRANTS WORK PERMIT FOR H-4 VISA HOLDERS
A new rule proposed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allowing H-4 visa holders to work in the country came into force on 26 May 2015. However, the extension of work authorization to H-4 visa holders would only apply if their spouses (H-1B visa holders) had applied for green-card, an authorization for permanent residence in the country. l This rule will encourage H-1B skilled workers to not to abandon their adjustment application with the department because their H-4 spouse is unable to work and also benefit the economy as in most of the cases they are eligible for doing highly skilled jobs. l The decision is expected to benefit over 179600 H-4 visa holders with particular salience to visa holders of Indian citizenship and employed in the IT sector. l India is receiving the largest proportion of H- 1B visas from the U.S. every year having received 99705 H-1B visas of a total of 153223 issued globally, slightly over 65 per cent. l While the H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows the employers in the USA to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, the H-4 visa issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.
90% OF GLOBAL CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTROYED: OPCW
According to the world’s chemical watchdog Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) 90% of the global chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed, calling it a “major milestone”. The stockpiles included caches containing chemicals needed to make deadly nerve agents like sarin. l Around 63,000 metric tonnes of declared chemical weapons, mostly from US and Russian arsenals, have now been destroyed. www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  l All destruction activities have been completed in a safe manner. l This includes a total of 1,300 metric tonnes of chemical weapons removed from Syria, the majority of which was destroyed on the US Navy ship MV Cape Ray. l Destruction of both Russian and US Cold Warera stockpiles is scheduled to be completed by 2020 and 2023 respectively. l Since the global ban on producing and storing chemical weapons came into force in 1997, 190 nations have signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) administered by the OPCW. l Six states remain outside the convention: Angola and Myanmar’s parliaments recently approved joining the convention, while Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan remains outside the pact. l Eight countries have declared chemical weapons and of those four; Albania, India, Libya and an undisclosed OPCW member state have completely destroyed its weapons. l Chemical weapons were first used in large-scale combat during World War I at Ypres in Belgium in April 1915.
UAE LAUNCHES NATIONAL SPACE AGENCY STRATEGY IN ABU DHABI
The United Arab Emirates has laid out a strategic framework for a newly created space agency that aims to integrate various arms of the Gulf federation’s burgeoning space industry. l The space industry will help diversify the country’s economy and create highly skilled jobs for a growing youth population. l The Emirates “is seeking to confirm its status as a spacefaring nation.” l The agency aims to regulate and support the UAE space sector, which includes existing Earth-orbiting satellite programs and plans to send an orbital probe to Mars in 2020.
INDIA & WORLD SIMBEX-15: INDIA-SINGAPORE BILATERAL NAVAL EXERCISE
Indian Navy has dispatched four vessels, including a destroyer and a stealth frigate, on a long overseas deployment to Indian Ocean and South China Sea during which they will make port calls in various countries, including Australia and Cambodia. As part of this deployment, a four-day bilateral naval exercise began on May 23, 2015 with Singapore in which INS Satpura, an indigenouslybuilt guided missile stealth frigate, and INS Kamorta, the latest indigenous anti-submarine warfare corvette, have taken part. The Eastern Fleet’s deployment, led by Rear Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, has seen the vessels — which also included guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir and fleet tanker INS Shakti – – make port calls in Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The present deployment is part of a regular exercise conducted to make port calls in friendly countries. “INS Satpura and Kamorta had reached Singapore on May 18 and participated in IMDEX-15, a maritime defence show. They are now taking part in the bilateral naval exercise, SIMBEX-15, with Singapore Navy from May 23-26. Operational interaction between the two navies commenced with Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training exercises in 1994, which has grown steadily over the past 20 years. The operational interaction was formalised as an annual bilateral exercise, ‘SIMBEX’, in 1999. Since its inception, SIMBEX has grown in tactical and operational complexity.
BANGLADESH RATIFIES BOUNDARY PACT PROTOCOL
The Bangladeshi Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ratified the protocol on the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with India on May 25, 2015 in Dhaka. The ratification was the last of the approvals needed for the implementation of the protocol signed during the visit of the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to Dhaka four years ago for exchange of enclaves. The Indian Parliament ratified it recently. Under the protocol, 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi ones inside India were to be exchanged. Bangladesh will also get 2,777 acres of land, while India will get 2,267 acres. Exchange of instruments was taken place during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuyan pointed out.
MOU BETWEEN INDIA AND BANGLADESH ON BILATERAL COOPERATION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on prevention of human trafficking especially trafficking in women and children: rescue, recovery, repatriation and reintegration of victims of human trafficking on May 30, 2015. The salient features of the MoU are as follows: l To strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of the human trafficking, especially that of women and children and ensure the speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country; l Enumeration of preventive measures that would be taken to eliminate human trafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights of victims of trafficking; and l Repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously as possible and the home country will undertake the safe and effective reintegration of the victims. A Task Force of India and Bangladesh was constituted to take coordinated action against individuals/touts/agents involved in human trafficking and meetings of the Task Force are being held regularly. Accordingly, four meetings of the www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  Task Force have been held so far. “During the fourth meeting of the Task Force which was held in Mumbai from 6-7th April, 2014, both sides reviewed the progress on decisions taken in the earlier meetings and held comprehensive discussions and finalized the text of the draft MOU on prevention of human trafficking.
INDIA & VIETNAM SIGNED A JOINT VISION STATEMENT ON DEFENCE COOPERATION
Boosting ties, India and Vietnam on 25 May, 2015 signed a Joint Vision Statement on defence cooperation for 2015-2020. The statement was signed by the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Vietnamese Minister for National Defence at the end of the delegation level talks in New Delhi. An MoU on cooperation between the coast guards of the two countries was also signed in the presence of the two Defence Ministers. The Vietnamese Defence Minister is on a 3-day official visit to the country at the invitation of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. At the delegation level talks, the two sides discussed wide ranging issues concerning defence cooperation, including cooperation in the area of maritime security. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further enhancing the ongoing defence engagements between the two sides for mutual benefit.
MOU BETWEEN INDIA AND SWEDEN ON COOPERATION IN MSME
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises on May 29, 2015. The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation between the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the two countries. It provides a structured framework and enabling environment to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector of the two countries to understand each other’s strengths, markets, technologies, policies etc. It also contains an agreement between the two countries to enable their respective MSMEs to participate in each other’s trade fairs/exhibitions and to exchange business delegations, to understand policy and explore markets so that joint [ 1 4 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in ventures, tie-ups, technology transfer etc. could take place. It does not contain or involve any financial, legal or political commitment on the part of either party. In no case does it attract any financial liability on the part of the Government of India.
INDIA – GERMAN BILATERAL TALK
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen was on a three-day visit to India during which she has interested to deepen bilateral ties, besides focussing on regional and international security and defence issues. During the first leg of her trip, Leyen held bilateral talks with her counterpart Manohar Parrikar. “The Minister also visited the Army Research and Referral Hospital, the flagship medical unit of the Armed Forces Medical Services. She also visited the Western Naval Command in Mumbai and held talks with Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Vice Admiral S P Singh Cheema, and tour the Indian Navy ship INS Mumbai.
11TH INDIA- SAUDI ARABIA JOINT COMMISSION MEETING
India –Saudi Arabia Joint Commission focuses on enhancing the bilateral cooperation, knowledge exchange and economic ties between the two countries. The two-day meeting of 11th India – Saudi Arabia Joint Commission concluded in New Delhi on May 28, 2015 followed by the signing of the conclusions. The meeting was co-chaired by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and His Excellency Dr. Tawfiq Fawzan Al Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A wide range of issues, including cooperation in trade and commerce, higher education, health, communication, culture and IT were discussed. Ministers from both sides also acknowledged the need to explore investment opportunities in both countries. The two Ministers reaffirmed the longstanding ties between the two countries and progress that the Joint Commission has been making in enhancing bilateral cooperation, knowledge exchange and economic ties. The next meeting would be held in 2016 in Saudi Arabia. Representatives of 22 Indian Ministries including Ministry of External Affairs were also present on this occasion.
ECONOMY INDIA’S ECONOMIC GROWTH TO SURPASS CHINA’S IN 2015-16: UN REPORT
India’s economic growth is projected to surpass that of China’s, with the GDP expected to zoom by 7.7 per cent in 2016, according to a UN report which said India will help accelerate economic growth in South Asia. According to the mid-year update of the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP), India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.6 per cent this year and 7.7 per cent in 2016, overtaking China. China is projected to grow by 7 per cent in 2015 and 6.8 per cent next year. Key findings of the Report: l The report termed South Asia’s economic outlook as “largely favourable” since most economies are expected to experience a strengthening of growth in 2015-16 on the back of stronger domestic consumption and investment, and a pick-up in exports. l The region’s GDP is projected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2015 and 6.9 per cent in 2016, up from an estimated 6.3 per cent in 2014–a significant revision of the previous forecast. l This revision mostly reflects a higher growth trajectory in India. l The growth prospects for Iran and Pakistan have also improved moderately, although for both countries significant uncertainties remain. l Across South Asia, the expansion is expected to be driven by buoyant household consumption and a gradual recovery in investment. l Private sector demand will be underpinned by a more benign macroeconomic environment, including considerably lower inflation. l In 2015, global consumer price inflation is expected to average 2.5 per cent, the lowest level since 2009. l With oil prices expected to recover slowly and global activity projected to pick up, average inflation is forecast to accelerate to 3 per cent in 2016. l Average inflation in the region is also projected to fall to its lowest level in almost a decade, following the recent decline in oil and food prices. l As a result, monetary policy has become more expansionary in several countries, notably in India and Pakistan. l However, despite the improved outlook, South Asia’s economies face, to varying degrees, longstanding development challenges including energy shortages, infrastructure deficits and political and social unrest.
UNION CABINET GAVE ITS APPROVAL FOR SETTING UP AMMONIAUREA COMPLEX AT NAMRUP IN ASSAM
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, gave its approval for setting up of a new Ammonia-Urea Complex of 8.64 Lakh Metric Tonnes annual capacity with an estimated investment of Rs. 4500 crore at Namrup in Assam on Public Private Partnership (PPP) route by a Joint Venture (JV). In the proposed JV, a PSU of Department of Fertilizers namely Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited (BVFCL), Government of Assam and Oil India Limited (another PSU) shall have 11%, 11% and 26% equity holding respectively and balance 52% by private/public sector entity(ies) which would be inducted through a competitive bidding process. l The setting up of a new Ammonia-Urea Complex will meet the growing demand of urea of North-East, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. l It will also ease the pressure on infrastructure due to long distance transportation of Urea from Western and Central Regions and thereby saving in govt. subsidy on freight. l It will accelerate the economic development of the region. The proposed plant will open new avenues for the people of the North-East. l The annual consumption of Urea in the country is approx. 310 LMT, out of which 230 LMT is produced indigenously and rest is imported. l To enhance the production of urea indigenously, Govt. has earlier approved the revival of Talcher (Odisha) & Ramagundam (Telangna) units of Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited (FCIL) by PSUs through ‘nomination route’ and Barauni unit of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited (HFCL) & Gorakhpur unit of FCIL through ‘bidding route’. These four units will produce about 52 lakh MT of urea annually.
CABINET APPROVED REVISED FDI NORMS FOR NRIS, PIOS AND OCIS
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to review of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy on investments by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs). The government decided www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  to liberalise foreign direct investment norms for NRIs and overseas citizens of India (OCI) as it aims to increase capital flows into the country. Following are the amendments approved by the Cabinet to incorporated in FDI policy: (i) By amending relevant para, definition of NRI will be as under: ‘Non-Resident Indian’ (NRI) means an individual resident outside India who is citizen of India or is an ‘Overseas Citizen of India’ cardholder within the meaning of section 7 (A) of the Citizenship Act, 1955. ‘Persons of Indian Origin’ cardholders registered as such under Notification No. 26011/4/98 F.I. dated 19.8.2002 issued by the Central Government are deemed to be “Overseas Citizen of India’ cardholders”. (ii) To provide that investment by NRIs on nonrepatriable basis is domestic. Following new para is approved to be added: ‘Investment by NRIs under Schedule 4 of FEMA (Transfer or Issue of Security by Persons Resident Outside India) Regulations will be deemed to be domestic investment at par with the investment made by residents.’
EXPERT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH INSURANCE RECOMMENDED CHANGES IN DISCLAIMER WORDINGS
An expert committee has suggested changing the wordings of disclaimer in advertisements of insurance companies. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) mandates that all insurance companies issue a disclaimer –Insurance is a subject matter of solicitation–in all their advertisements. The committee recommends the following: ‘Before buying, know the conditions and exclusions, to make a well-informed decision’,” said the report of the Expert Committee on Health Insurance. The report has also recommended that there should be greater transparency and clarity to enable policy holders to understand the boundaries of coverage in their policies. “This will help reduce the asymmetry of information that exists among all the parties concerned– customer, provider, payer etc. Prominent display of what is payable/not payable, what is covered/not covered etc is necessary at every customer touch point written, digital,” it added. Further, it said principle of ‘Utmost Good Faith’ is valid for both the insurer and the insured. And greater disclosures are required on part of service providers, including insurers and third party administrators (TPAs) during the currency of policy as well as when servicing claims. On fraud management, it has recommended that insurers and TPAs should have systems in place to identify, monitor, control and deal with fraud, including hospital abuse, by various agencies including health care providers. “Regulator should direct insurers and TPAs to put systems and internal processes in place for detection of fraud and its mitigation. Insurers and TPAs should delineate and disseminate information on fraudulent cases. “A central repository of data for the purpose needs to be created. In due course of time, an institutional mechanism such as a Health Insurance Fraud Bureau (HIFB) should be in place for continuous fraud control,” as per the report.
GOVERNMENT APPROVED 21 FDI PROPOSALS WORTH 281 CRORE RUPEES
The government has cleared 21 foreign direct investment (FDI) deals worth Rs. 281 crore but deferred Kotak Mahindra Bank’s proposal to hike foreign investment limit in the bank to 55 per cent. l FDI proposals under approval route are cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). l However, those proposals involving investment of more than Rs 3,000 crore are given final clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). l The proposal of pharma firm La Renon Healthcare to invest Rs. 100 crore in a brownfield project was cleared by the FIPB. l The inter-governmental panel, chaired by Economic Affairs Secretary, also cleared Blue Dart Express’s proposal to acquire shares in Blue Dart Aviation Ltd. and hike shareholding [ 2 0 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in to 74 per cent from 49 per cent. This would entail investment between Rs. 52.8 crore to Rs. 69 crore. l The proposal of Quickjet Cargo Airlines to increase foreign shareholding in the company to 74 per cent from 62.34 per cent has also been cleared. The deal will entail FDI worth Rs. 14.40 crore. l Forever Living Imports (India) Pvt Ltd’s Rs 18.30-crore proposal to undertake single brand retailing of ‘Forever’ brand products in India has also been approved by the board. l The proposal of NBFC company IIFL Holdings Ltd for increasing foreign equity from 54.7 per cent to 100 per cent by way of issuing shares to FIIs was deferred.
ARCEL OR MITTAL, SAIL INK PACT TO SET UP STEEL PLANT IN INDIA
ArcelorMittal and Steel Authority of India on Friday signed a MoU to set up an automotive steel manufacturing facility in India, marking renewed interest in the country by the Luxembourg-based steelmaker. The project will be set up through a joint venture. The MoU, the first step towards establishing the JV, was signed in London by Arcel or Mittal Chairman & Chief Executive Lakshmi Niwas Mittal and SAIL Chairman CS Verma. l The proposed JV will construct a state-of-theart cold rolling mill and other downstream finishing facilities in India that will offer technologically advanced steel products to India’s rapidly growing automotive sector. l The move is expected to provide a huge fillip to the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, coming as it does on the eve of NDA’s first anniversary. l For Mittal, who has in the past expressed disappointment after failing to get some of the company’s greenfield projects going in his home country, this is a major strategic step. l The proposed venture has been compared with ArcelorMittal’s partnership with Hunan Valin for its VAMA joint venture in China. l SAIL is planning to go up to 50-milliontonne capacity by 2025. Product enrichment is an integral part of this plan and the MoU with ArcelorMittal will pave the way for a new chapter in the indigenous production of highquality automotive steel in India. l India is forecast to become the world’s fourthlargest automobile manufacturing nation by 2020, growing from about 3.5 million units now to over 7 million units.
SCIENCE & TECH
NASSCOM LAUNCHES CYBERSECURITY TASK FORCE
National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Data Security Council of India have launched NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force. According to a statement from the trade body, the task force aims to build India as a global hub for providing cyber security solutions, developing cyber security R&D plan and develop a skilled workforce of cyber security experts. The task force members will include industry leaders across IT, BPM and internet, heads of user organizations like banks and telcos as well as representatives from the government and academia. Rajendra Pawar, Chairman, NIIT will chair this task force. The task force over a 12 week period will identify the key priorities and build the detailed action plan for the sector. Vision of Task Force l NASSCOM stated that the vision of the task force is to build the cyber security industry in India from the 1% market share to 10% by 2025; a trained base of 1 million certified and skilled cyber security professionals and build 100+ successful security product companies from India. l Rajendra Pawar, chair, NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force and chairman, NIIT, noted that securing the cyberspace has become an important priority for governments, businesses and citizens across the world. In line with the Prime Minister’s vision of making India a cybersecurity expert nation and his recent exhortation to the industry, NASSCOM has created the cyber security task force. l This task force aims to make India a global hub for providing cyber security solutions including cyber security products and services. l The task force will focus on the four key pillars of Industry development, Policy enablement, Technology development and Skill development. l The National Cyber Security Policy of India, announced in 2013, aims to create 500,000 skilled workers in the field of cyber security in India by 2018. l Recommendations from these groups will enable the task force to come up with a comprehensive cybersecurity plan for the country. l Cyber security is a multi-dimensional concept that includes many disciplines and fields. Nations have to take appropriate steps in their respective jurisdictions to create necessary laws, promote the implementation of requisite security practices, incident management, and information sharing mechanisms, and continuously educate both corporate and home users about cybersecurity.
U.S. AIR FORCE CERTIFIES SPACEX FOR NATIONAL SECURITY LAUNCHES
The U.S. Air Force on May 26, 2015 said it has certified privately held SpaceX to launch U.S. military and spy satellites, ending a monopoly held by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, since its creation in 2006. The decision followed two years of discussions, reviews and legal disputes between the U.S. Air Force and Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, and means the company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, can compete for national security launches with its Falcon 9 rocket. Leveraging SpaceX’s investment in an alternate launch vehicle would help drive down the cost and help improve the U.S. military’s resiliency. SpaceX’s first opportunity to compete against ULA would come in June, when the Air Force said it expects to kick off a competition for launches of additional Global Positioning System III satellites built by Lockheed. The certification followed two years of intensive reviews by the Air Force and SpaceX, which already has won significant contracts with NASA to launch cargo and crews to the International Space Station. [ 2 2 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in The Air Force pointed out that it spent more than $60 million and dedicated 150 people to the effort, which included 2,800 discreet tasks, three certification flight demonstrations, 21 major subsystem reviews and 700 audits aimed at establishing a technical baseline for future flight worthiness determinations. The Air Force hoped SpaceX’s certification would bring down unjustifiably high launch costs and end U.S. reliance on Russian-built RD-180 engines that power ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket. The U.S. Congress has banned the use of Russian engines for national security launches after 2019. It passed the law after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year.
SCIENTIST CREATES FIRST SINGLE-MOLECULE DEVICE
A team of Columbia Engineering researchers led by an Indian-American scientist Latha Venkataraman has created a single-molecule electronic device which has a potential of realworld technological applications for nanoscale devices. Under the direction of Venkataraman, researchers created a single-molecule diode which performs 50 times better than all prior designs. “Constructing a device where the active element is only a single molecule, has long been a tantalising dream in nanoscience. This new device represents the ultimate in functional miniaturisation that can be achieved for an electronic device. With electronic devices becoming smaller every day, the field of molecular electronics has become more critical in solving the problem of further miniaturisation. Single molecule represents the limit of miniaturisation. The idea of creating a single-molecule diode was suggested by Arieh Aviram and Mark Ratner who theorised in 1974 that a molecule could act as a rectifier, a one-way conductor of electric current. It is amazing to be able to design a functioning single molecular circuit. The team is now working on understanding the fundamental physics behind their discovery and trying to increase the rectification ratios they observed, using new molecular systems. What is Nanotechnology? Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. Everything on Earth is made up of atoms.
MAJORITY OF GLOBAL CHEMICAL WEAPONS STOCKPILES DESTROYED
The Organization (OPCW) has announced that 90% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed. Recent announcement follows a declaration issued by the OPCW in April 2015 that reaffirmed their commitment to global disarmament. The Ypres declaration was signed on 22 April by 190 states, all of whom have declared their chemical stockpiles as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Angola, Epypt, North Korea and Sudan have not signed the treaty, while Syria acceded to the agreement in late 2013. The 90% milestone that has been reached includes weapons stocks, such as mustard gas, and chemical precursors for nerve agent production. This is a major milestone that shows we are well on the way to ridding the world of chemical weapons,’ said the OPCW director-general, Ahmet Üzümcü. Russia and the US are currently in the process of destroying their own chemical stockpiles, with the operation expected to be completed by 2023.
FIRST ARTIFICIAL MOLECULAR PUMP CREATED
Scientists have developed the first man-made molecular pump, which transports key proteins that cells need to function, that could be used to power artificial muscles. The new machine mimics the pumping mechanism of life-sustaining proteins that move small molecules around living cells to metabolize and store energy from food. The artificial pump draws power from chemical reactions, driving molecules step-bystep from a lowenergy state to a high-energy state – far away from equilibrium. This molecular pump is radical chemistry – an ingenious way of transferring energy from molecule to molecule, the way nature does. The ring-shaped molecules work with repel one another under normal circumstances. The artificial pump is able to siphon off some of the energy that changes hands during a chemical reaction and uses it to push the rings together. The tiny molecular machine threads the rings around a nanoscopic chain – a sort of axle – and squeezes the rings together, with only a few nanometres separating them. At present, the artificial molecular pump is able to force only two rings together, but researchers believed that it won’t be long before they can extend its operation to tens of rings and store more energy. Researchers noted that compared to nature’s system, the artificial pump is very simple, but it is a start,. They have designed a novel system, using kinetic barriers, that allows molecules to flow “uphill” energetically.
NEW HUMAN ANCESTOR SPECIES DISCOVERED
Scientists have discovered a new human ancestor species in Ethiopia that lived alongside the famous ‘Lucy’ up to 3.5 million-years ago. Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia have been assigned to the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. This hominin unearthed by an international team of scientists lived alongside the famous ‘Lucy’s’ species, Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy’s species lived from 2.9 million years ago to 3.8 million years ago, overlapping in time with the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. Researchers pointed out that the new species is the most conclusive evidence for the contemporaneous presence of more than one closely related early human ancestor species prior to 3 million years ago. Australopithecus deyiremeda differs from Lucy’s species in terms of the shape and size of its thick-enamelled teeth and the robust architecture of its lower jaws.mThe anterior teeth are also relatively small indicating that it probably had a different diet. The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia during the middle Pliocene. Current fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille study area clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity. The combined evidence from radiometric, paleomagnetic, and depositional rate analyses yields estimated minimum and maximum ages of 3.3 and 3.5 million years. This new species from Ethiopia takes the ongoing debate on early hominin diversity to another level. Scientists have long argued that there was only one pre-human species at any given time between 3 and 4 million years ago, subsequently giving rise to another new species through time.
ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT
ANTARCTIC ICE LOSS ALTERING EARTH’S GRAVITY
A new study has found that sudden and massive ice loss in a previously stable region of Antarctica is causing small changes in the gravity field of the Earth. Using measurements of the elevation of the Antarctic ice sheet made by a suite of satellites, the researchers found that the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change up to 2009. Around 2009, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic km, or about 55 trillion litres of water, each year. This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning, researchers said. To date, the glaciers added roughly 300 cubic km of water to the ocean. That is the equivalent of the volume of nearly 350,000 Empire State Buildings combined, revealed Dr Bert Wouters, a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bristol, who lead the study. The changes were observed using the CryoSat- 2 satellite, a mission of the European Space Agency dedicated to remote-sensing of ice. By analysing roughly 5 years of the data, the researchers found that the ice surface of some of the glaciers is currently going down by as much as 4m each year.
GUJARAT TAKES UP PROJECT TO RESTORE HABITAT FOR SLOTH BEARS
Gujarat government has taken up a project to provide better habitat to sloth bears by restoring the ecology of Jessore wildlife sanctuary, where more trees will be planted and and unwanted vegetation removed. As per the last census in 2011, nearly 293 sloth bears were found in the state forests. There is an intense need to create good food habitat for the sloth bears, who mainly eat honey and termites, which can be provided by new plantation. The project aims at planting good amount of trees in the sanctuaries and removing unwanted plant species that have intruded in the habitat. The final testing in the forest will be conducted in next monsoon in June or July and after necessary process, the project will be handed over to the forest department. Following positive results of a pilot project taken up for sloth bears in Banaskantha district by state forest department in coordination with the Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC), the government has now taken up the new initiative. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 40 lakh, where GEC will be the guiding body to Banaskantha forest division. Basically, GEC is trying to restore the eco-system in Jessore area. The department has taken it up in some patches of Jessore wildlife sanctuary as a pilot project. This is a small effort to revive good vegetational habitat in the area. Gujarat Ecology Commission in association with the forest department will take a project to restore Avala Kampa area in Jessore wildlife sanctuary to provide a good habitat to sloth bears. Along with Jessore, sloth bears’ population is also reported at Shoolpaneswar, Jambughoda, Ratanmahal and Balaram-Ambaji wildlife sanctuaries in Narmada, Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur and Banaskantha districts respectively of the state.
EVEREST GLACIERS MAY DISAPPEAR BY 2100: STUDY
Glaciers in the Everest region of the Himalayas could shrink at least 70 per cent or even disappear entirely by the end of the century if greenhousegas emissions continue to rise, scientists warned on May 27, 2015. A team of researchers in Nepal, France and the Netherlands have found Everest glaciers could be very sensitive to future warming, and that sustained ice loss through the 21st century is likely. The signal of future glacier change in the region is clear: continued and possibly accelerated mass www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  loss from glaciers is likely given the projected increase in temperatures,” said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, and leader of the study. Researchers pointed out that the glacier model used by Shea and his team shows that glacier volume could be reduced between 70 per cent and 99 per cent by 2100. The results depend on how much greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise, and on how this will affect temperature, snowfall and rainfall in the area. The results indicate that these glaciers may be highly sensitive to changes in temperature, and that increases in precipitation are not enough to offset the increased melt. Increased temperatures will not only increase the rates of snow and ice melt, but can also result in a change of precipitation from snow to rain at critical elevations, where glaciers are concentrated. Together, these act to reduce glacier growth and increase the area exposed to melt, researchers said. Glaciers in High Mountain Asia, a region that includes the Himalayas, contain the largest volume of ice outside the polar regions. The team studied glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalaya, which is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, including the 8,848 metre high Mt Everest, and to over 400 square kilometres of glacier area. Apart from the significance of the region, glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin contribute meltwater to the Kosi River, and glacier changes will affect river flows downstream. About ICIMOD The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – and based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Globalization and climate change have an increasing influence on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people to understand these changes, adapt to them, and make the most of new opportunities, while addressing upstream-downstream issues. ICIMOD support regional transboundary programmes through partnership with regional partner institutions, facilitate the exchange of experience, and serve as a regional knowledge hub. It strengthens networking among regional and global centres of excellence. Overall, ICIMOD are working to develop an economically and environmentally sound mountain ecosystem to improve the living standards of mountain populations and to sustain vital ecosystem services for the billions of people living downstream now, and for the future.
A SATELLITE TRACKING SYSTEM TO TACKLE FOREST FIRES: HIMACHAL PRADESH
In an effort to save forests in Himachal Pradesh, the state government has set up a satellite tracking system to find forest fires and launched awareness campaigns to safeguard the region’s green cover. The awareness campaigns are aimed at educating local people to detect fires near forests and take measures to prevent them. Forest fires have emerged as a big challenge for the state fire department during the summer. The launch of the satellite tracking system will enable the department to keep constant vigil on the forests. The system will immediately send SMS alerts to forest officials upon the occurrence of any fire in the vicinity of forests. In addition to this, 700 participatory committees have been constituted along with the setting up of 90 water tanks and 100 watch towers to sight and put out fires.
MOUTH CANCER CASES DOUBLE IN INDIA
The study, “The Global Burden of Cancer 2013,” published in the journal JAMA Oncology on May 28, 2015 said the death rate from cancer has declined in India. India and its south Asian neighbours are unusual for their particularly high rates of mouth cancer. The study said that this was largely related to the practice of chewing tobacco. While mouth cancer does not feature among the 10 most occurring worldwide, it is second among men and women combined in India. The number of new mouth cancer cases in India more than doubled between 1990 and 2013 from 55,480 to 127,168. The good news is that it is highly preventable. Similarly, mortality from breast cancer, which is responsible for most deaths of women from cancer both in India and globally, can be reduced through early screening. Breast cancer is the most common one in India, with also the fastest growing incidence for the country. Stomach cancer is the leading cause of death by cancer for the population as a whole, while lung cancer and breast cancer kill the most men and women respectively.
NEW STRATEGY TO STARVE HIV TO DEATH
Scientists have found a new strategy to starve the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to death — by blocking its sugar and nutrient pipeline. HIV has a voracious sweet tooth, which turns out to be its Achilles’ heel, according to researchers from Northwestern Medicine and Vanderbilt University. After the virus invades an activated immune cell, it craves sugar and nutrients from the cell to replicate and fuel its wild growth throughout the body. Scientists discovered the switch that turns on the immune cell’s abundant sugar and nutrient pipeline. Then they blocked the switch with an experimental compound, shutting down the pipeline and, thereby, starving HIV to death.
SCIENTISTS EDIT HUMAN GENOME IN EMBRYOS FOR FIRST TIME
Chinese scientists have edited the genomes of human embryos for the first time, confirming a storm of rumors and igniting an ethical debate. Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China on April 24, 2015, used an experimental gene-editing technique to modify a gene in human embryos that causes a fatal blood disorder. The procedure, which was done in nonviable embryos, was only partially successful. The study has raised questions in the scientific community over the risks of the procedure and the ethics of its use in humans. Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes. The technique involves an enzyme complex known as CRISPR/Cas9, found in many bacteria. CRISPR (short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”), is a short, repeated sequence of RNA that matches the genetic sequence the researcher wants to modify. It works in concert with Cas9, an enzyme that cuts DNA like a pair of molecular scissors.First, the CRISPR/Cas9 complex searches through the cell’s DNA until it finds and binds to a sequence that matches the CRISPR. Then, the Cas9 cuts the DNA. Lastly, the cell repairs the cut, in this case by inserting a piece of DNA supplied by the experimenter. In bacteria, the complex provides resistance against foreign DNA, such as plasmids (small, circular pieces of DNA) and phages (viruses that infect bacteria). But since 2013, scientists have used the system to edit genesin the cells of other species, including adult human cells and animal embryos. But this is the first time it has been used to modify human embryos.
In the study, Junjiu Huang, a genetics researcher at Sun Yat-sen University, injected the CRISPR/ Cas9 complex into human embryos in order to repair a gene for Beta thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin. The embryos, which were obtained from local fertility clinics, could not result in live births because they had been fertilized by two sperm, which prevents the embryos from developing properly. The procedure also caused worrisome mutations in other parts of the genome — and at a much higher rate than in mouse embryos or adult human cells undergoing the same procedure. These mutations could have detrimental effects on cells, which is one of the big concerns about gene editing. Because of these safety issues, the use of this technique in humans poses serious ethical questions, some scientists noted. The editors of the journals Nature and Science refused to publish the study for such ethical reasons. Ethics of Human Genome Editing Needs Further Review The White House noted on May 25, 2015 the ethical issues associated with gene-editing on the human genome need further study by the scientific community and should not be pursued until issues are resolved. The administration believed that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time. The technology, which has the potential to create “designer babies,” ignited an outcry from scientists recently when it was used in China to alter the DNA of human embryos. Research along these lines raises serious and urgent questions about the potential implications for clinical applications that could lead to genetically altered humans. The full implications of such a step could not be known until a number of generations had inherited the genetic changes made – and choices made in one country could affect all of us. The National Academy of Sciences said that it would convene an international summit this fall to explore the ethical and policy issues associated with the research and appoint an international committee to recommend guidelines for the technology.
NEWS IN BRIEF NEWS MAKER
Dr. S. Christopher The government on May 28, 2015 appointed distinguished scientist Dr. S. Christopher as Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Dr. G.S. Reddy as Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved appointment of Dr. Christopher as Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development-cum-Director General, DRDO for a period of two years from the date of taking over the charge. While Dr. Christopher is currently Distinguished Scientist and Programme Director (airborne early warning and control system) and Director, Centre for Air-Borne Systems in Bengaluru, Dr. Reddy is Distinguished Scientist and Director, Research Centre Imarat and Programme Director of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) project. Lt. General (Retd.) Nirbhay Sharma Lt. General Nirbhay Sharma (retd.) was sworn in as the 17th governor of Mizoram at the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan on May 26, 2015. The Congressruled Mizoram has earned the dubious distinction of having eight governors in the past ten months. Guwahati High Court judge, Justice T. Vaiphei, administered the oath of office to Lt. Gen. Sharma at a simple ceremony, conducted by state chief secretary Lalmalsawma. Lt. Gen. Sharma was earlier governor of Arunachal Pradesh. He was transferred to Mizoram by President Pranab Mukherjee on May 12. West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was holding the additional charge of Mizoram till now. Manoj Mishra Government has appointed Manoj Mishra as Chairman and Managing Director of state-run National Fertilizers Ltd (NFL). Mishra, currently posted as Director Finance at State Trading Corporation (STC). Fertiliser Ministry has issued orders for appointment of Manoj Mishra as CMD of the NFL. “In September last year, government headhunters Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) had recommended Mishra’s name for the top post at NFL NFL’s CMD post fell vacant after the retirement of Neeru Abrol in February 2014. “NFL has five gas-based urea plants viz Nangal & Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two plants at Vijaipur in District Guna, Madhya Pradesh. The company has a total annual installed capacity of 35.68 lakh tonnes and is the second largest producer of urea in the country. George Yeo Former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo will be the new Chancellor of the Nalanda University, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on May 29, 2015. Mr. Yeo, who is on the governing board of prestigious university, will take over from Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who withdrew his candidature for a second term as Chancellor of the Nalanda University in Bihar in February 2015. Incidentally, Mr. Yeo chaired the last meeting of the board on January 13-14, 2015, when it had decided unanimously agreed to have Dr. Sen serve as the Chancellor for the second consecutive term. Mr. Yeo was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2012 in recognition of his contribution in the field of “public affairs.” An integral part of the erstwhile Nalanda Mentor Group, he has been at the forefront of the revival of the ancient seat of learning. Nalanda University hit the headlines in February, when Prof. Sen, whose term ends July, wrote a letter to his colleagues on the board, withdrawing from seeking a second term, since the Narendra Modi government had not given its approval to his nomination. Jayalalithaa AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on May 24, 2015 was sworn into power as chief minister nearly www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  eight months after she was forced to quit over corruption charges. Jayalalithaa took the oath in the name of God in Tamil in a simple function held at the University of Madras Centenary Auditorium. Twenty-eight other ministers also took oath in a brief ceremony. The 67-year-old AIADMK supremo was administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor K Rosaiah. Jayalalithaa was disqualified following her conviction in the Rs. 66.66 crore disproportionate assets case by a trial court in Bengaluru on September 27. The Karnataka High Court had subsequently acquitted her of the charges on May 11. Rio Ferdinand Former England and Manchester United centre back Rio Ferdinand, 36, has announced his retirement on May 31, 2015, ending a 20-year professional career in which he established himself as one of the top English players of his generation. Pradeep Kumar Sinha Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 29, 2015 approved the appointment of Pradeep Kumar Sinha, a 1977 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, as the next Cabinet Secretary. Mr. Sinha, who has been serving as Power Secretary since July 2013, will succeed Ajit Seth whose term ends on June 13. He will soon be attached to the Cabinet Secretariat as OSD till the commencement of his tenure. Anand Kumar Super30 founder and mathematician Anand Kumar has been honoured in Canada for his pioneering work in the field of education. The Legislature of British Columbia, Canada has honoured the 42-year-old for his rare achievements to the students from India’s underprivileged sections. “The British Columbia Government had invited Kumar in recognition of his work through globally acclaimed Super30, which has successfully mentoring 30 students mostly from the underprivileged section. Veena Jain The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry on May 29, 2015 appointed Veena Jain as director general (news) in Doordarshan in place of Akshay Rout and, in an unusual move, directed her to report directly to the ministry. “Jain, an additional secretary rank official, will also hold charge as officer on special duty overseeing the ministry’s new media wing and social media cell. The order said Jain was posted as director general Doordarshan news-cum-OSD in the ministry to handle the new media wing and social media cell. She will report to the ministry for all purposes. Trevor Bayliss Australian Trevor Bayliss has been appointed as the new head coach of England, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on 26 May 2015. The 52-year-old former Sri Lanka coach succeeds the sacked Peter Moores, having been preferred to his compatriot Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach, who was the initial favourite for the job. Trevor has an outstanding record as coach, has global experience and is very highly regarded in the game. Currently coach of New South Wales, Bayliss will take charge of England in time for the start of their home Ashes series against Australia in July. He has proved himself in both domestic and international cricket, has a strong reputation for man-management and has shown how to build winning teams in all three formats. Gurnimrat ‘Nimmy’ Sidhu An Indian-origin teacher has been honoured by Oxford University for helping one of her students get into the world-famous varsity. Gurnimrat ‘Nimmy’ Sidhu, head of science at Oaks Park High School in north-east London, is among 12 teachers to win the ‘University of Oxford Inspirational Teacher Award’ set up to encourage more state-funded schools to connect with the university. Sidhu feared a marking error and forced her student Esther Odejimi to get her exams remarked enabling her to gain admission Pembroke College, Oxford, to study theology. The 19-year-old returned the favour by nominating her teacher for the award. Tony Blair Tony Blair has resigned from his position as the Quartet’s peace envoy to the Middle East after seven years. The former Prime Minister has been criticised for his dual role as diplomat and businessman. He will quit the role – which he took up immediately after leaving Downing Street in 2007 – from June 2015. His global consultancy offers investment and strategic advice to governments, corporations and [ 3 0 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in billionaires. Clients include Petro Saudi, an oil company with links to the ruling Saudi royal family, JP Morgan and Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi wealth fund. Mr Blair, although he denies it, is believed to be worth between £50? million and £100?million, and his assets include several houses and a country estate. The post for the Quartet, which represents the UN, US, EU and Russia in Middle East peace talks, has recently been been sidelined. Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, noted that it is long overdue that he has decided to step down. Sepp Blatter Sepp Blatter has been re-elected president of FIFA, football’s world governing body, in a vote overshadowed by arrests and corruption allegations. Mr Blatter’s rival, Prince Ali bin alHussein of Jordan, had forced a second round of voting but withdrew. Seven top officials were arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday as part of a US prosecution that indicted 14 people. Mr Blatter, 79, has faced calls to resign, including from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who said in Berlin that the FIFA president should quit “the sooner the better”. Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wodeyar In a traditional ceremony, US-educated Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wodeyar, the adopted son of Pramoda Devi Wodeyar, was on May 28, 2015 crowned as the titular head of the erstwhile Mysuru royal family. The coronation took place at Kalyana Mantap in Amba Vilas Palace in Mysuru at an auspicious hour amid Vedic chants and slogans hailing the Mysuru royalty and the 23-year-old “King” as he ascended the silver throne ‘Bhadrasana’. Yaduveer, the 27th King of Wodeyar dynasty, will have to wait until Dasara to ascend the golden throne, when he will preside over the ‘khasa (private) durbar’, which is reminiscent of the AWARDS CEAT Awards Ranji Trophy champion Karnataka’s captain, fast bowling spearhead and inspiration, Vinay Kumar, was named CEAT Domestic Cricketer of the Year for 2014-15 in Mumbai on May 25, 2015. Test batsman Ajinkya Rahane was chosen Indian Cricketer of the Year, while Kapil Dev was chosen for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara was named the International Cricketer of the Year. Mumbai Indians’ skipper Rohit Sharma, who was given a Special Award for his record-breaking 264 against Sri Lanka in an one-dayer at Kolkata. The annual awards honours players for performances in international and domestic cricket across all formats. Sunil Gavaskar is Chief Adjudicator of CEAT Cricket Rating, which identifies achievers based on points accumulated in various categories. The RPG Group chairman, Harsh Goenka, announced the launch of cricket gear and named Aussie pacer Brett Lee as the brand ambassador. The award winners: l International Cricketer of the Year: Kumar Sangakkara l Domestic Cricketer of the Year: R. Vinay Kumar l Indian Cricketer of the Year: Ajinkya Rahane l T20 Player of the Year: Dwayne Bravo l International Batsman of the Year: Hashim Amla l International Bowler of the Year: Rangana Herath l Popular Choice award: Kieron Pollard l Special Award: Rohit Sharma l Young Player of the Year: Deepak Hooda Spelling Bee Award Scripting history, two Indian-Americans children on May 28, 2015 won the world’s prestigious spelling bee in a tie the second time in a row, maintaining the community’s complete dominance on the competition. Vanya Shivashankar, 13, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, were declared co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee as they together lifted the golden trophy amid confetti and applause in a repeat of last year’s surprise tie — a feat achieved by Indian-Americans for the second consecutive year. The two winners will each receive over $37,000 in cash and prizes. www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  With this year’s success, young IndianAmericans have won as many as 14 of the past 18 contests and the eighth year in a row. This is also the first time a sibling of a former champion won. The third spot was also bagged by an IndianAmerican Cole Shafer-Ray from Oklahoma. Forbes: Four Indians among world’s 100 most powerful women Forbes’ annual list of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” includes 24 CEOs, 15 billionaires and eight heads of state. The women on the list control $1 trillion in annual revenues. SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya, ICICI bank head Chanda Kochhar, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and HT Media Chair Shobhana Bhartia are among the world’s 100 most powerful women, according to the Forbes’ annual list which is topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Two women of Indian-origin PepsiCo Chief Indra Nooyi and Cisco Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior also make the list. Forbes’s 12th annual list of the 100 most influential women feature extraordinary entrepreneurs, visionary CEOs, politicians, celebrity role models, billionaire activists and pioneer philanthropists who are “transforming the world” and have been “ranked by dollars, media presence and impact. The top 10 include German Chancellor Angela Merkel (1), US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (2), philanthriopist Melinda Gates (3), Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (3), GM CEO Mary Barra (5), IMF Chief Christine Lagarde (6), Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (7), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (8), YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (9) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (10). For the fifth consecutive year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped the list. The 59-year-old Bhattacharya has been ranked 30th on the list, followed by Kochhar on the 35th spot, Mazumdar-Shaw (85) and newcomer on the list Bhartia is on the 93rd spot. On Bhattacharya, Forbes noted that she oversees 2,20,000 staff members in 16,000 branches and services 225 million customers at the country’s largest lender (assets $ 400 billion) with offices spread over 36 countries. The SBI Chair-Managing director was ranked 36th last year and moved up six spots in the 2015 list. Kochhar also moved up eight notches in the rankings, from the 43rd spot last year. Forbes said the 53-year-old ICICI Bank CEO and Managing Director has been credited with “leading a remarkable transformation” at India’s largest private sector bank, which experienced major setbacks after the 2008 financial crisis. Her focus on ‘mobile banking’ in rural areas to reach more clients has been praised as a model for low cost expansion in a country with a burgeoning middle class. Mazumdar-Shaw moved up from the 92nd spot last year to 85 in the 2015 rankings. The 62-yearold founded Biocon in 1978 and turned it from a small industrial-enzymes company to India’s largest publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, which had $460 billion in revenue last year and distributes its products in 85 countries around the world, Forbes said. Forbes said Bhartia, who makes her debut on the list this year, is a “media baroness” who chairs and runs listed HT Media, publisher of English daily Hindustan Times, a Hindi daily of the same name, and business paper Mint. India—born PepsiCo Chief Indra Nooyi is among the seven “Hall of Fame” women, who had appeared on the inaugural list in 2004 and are still making to the list. Nooyi is ranked 15th on the list. The 2015 Most Powerful Women list features eight heads of state (plus one monarch) who run nations with a combined GDP of USD 9.1 trillion with over 600 million citizens. The 24 corporate CEOs control nearly USD 1 trillion in annual revenues, and 18 of the women founded their own companies or foundations. This year’s class has 15 billionaires with cumulative net worth of nearly $75 billion. The total social media footprint (Twitter, YouTube) of all 100 Powerful Women is nearly 475 million followers. The list also includes media mogul Oprah Winfrey (12), singer Beyonce Knowles (21), Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (22), Vogue Editor—in—Chief Anna Wintour (28), Queen Elizabeth II (41), TV personality Ellen DeGeneres (50), actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie (54), Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed (59) and singer Taylor Swift (64). Forbes added that as of January 2015, 10 women served as heads of state and 14 as heads of government. Women currently hold 23 (4.6 per cent) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. Of a total 1,826 global billionaires, 197 are women — 11 per cent of the total. Only 9 per cent of executive officers in Silicon Valley are women. More than half of the women (59) on the list are American, [ 3 2 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in including immigrants such as von Furstenberg (Belgium), Weili Dai (China) and Warrior (India). Asia-Pacific citizens make the second strongest showing at 18. Latin America and the Middle East have four regionals on the list, and there are 12 Europeans and three Africans with a slot. FMSCI Award Top cross-country biker C S Santosh, who became the first Indian to take part in the famous Dakar Rally, was chosen as the Motor Sport Man of the Year at the annual FMSCI awards in Bangalore. The Bangalore-based racer was awarded with the Raymond Gautam Singhania Rolling Trophy and a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh for his impressive show in the Dakar Rally. Santosh had finished overall 36th in the world’s toughest cross-country rally. The Motor Sport Star of the Future award went to 17-year-old Arjun Maini for his promising performance on the European F4 and F3 circuits. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Vijay Mallya for his contribution to motorsport in India. OBITUARY Mary Ellen Mark Mary Ellen Mark, whose unflinching yet compassionate depictions of sex workers in Mumbai, homeless teenagers in Seattle and the mentally-ill in a state institution in Oregon made her one of the premier documentary photographers of her generation, died in Manhattan May 25, 2015. She was 75. The cause was myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease affecting bone marrow and blood. Mark began her career with magazines like Look and Life , taking a classic documentary approach to often difficult material and usually working in black and white. Early on, she showed a remarkable ability to win the confidence of her subjects, and she maintained contact with many of them through the years. John Forbes Nash Jr. John Forbes Nash Jr., the Princeton University mathematician whose life inspired the film “A Beautiful Mind,” and his wife died in a car crash May 24, 2015. Nash, 86, and Alicia Nash, 82, were riding in a taxi near Monroe Township when the incident occurred. ART & CULTURE 2,000-year-old water-supply system unearthed in Israel An ancient aqueduct built more than 2,000 years ago to transport water into the city of Jerusalem has been unearthed. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, a section of Jerusalem’s lower aqueduct, which conveyed water to the city more than 2,000 years ago, was exposed in the Umm Tuba quarter (near Har Homa) during the construction of a sewer line. The authority conducted an archaeological excavation there following the discovery of the aqueduct. l The lower aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than two thousand years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about one hundred years ago, said Ya’akov Billig, the excavation director. l The aqueduct begins at the ‘En ‘Eitam spring, near Solomon’s Pools, south of Bethlehem, and is approximately 21 kilometres long. l Despite its length, it flows along a very gentle downward slope whereby the water level falls just one meter per kilometre of distance. l At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water. l The aqueduct’s route was built in open areas in the past, but with the expansion of Jerusalem in the modern era, it now runs through a number of neighbourhoods: Umm Tuba, Sur Bahar, East Talpiot and Abu Tor. l Since this is one of Jerusalem’s principal sources of water, the city’s rulers took care to preserve it for some two thousand years, until it was replaced about a century ago by a modern electrically operated system. Due to its historical and archaeological importance, the Israel Antiquities Authority is taking steps to prevent any damage to the aqueduct, and is working to expose sections of its remains, study them and make them accessible to the general public. www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  SPORTS than one way as the team emulated their 2008 win against Chennai by scoring the same number of runs – 202, which is their highest yet against Chennai. A side which lost its first four IPL 2015 matches, Mumbai peaked at the right time and the score of 202 in the final – their sixth 200-plus score in all IPLs – came just when most needed. The total was also the second-highest seen in an IPL final – behind Chennai’s 205/5 against Bangalore in the 2011 title clash. There was some consolation for Chennai fans as well. The team topped the league stages and became the only side to finish runners up in four tournaments – 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Monaco Grand Prix Nico Rosberg has taken full advantage of one of Formula One’s greatest tactical errors to land an unexpected victory and become only the fourth man to claim a hat-trick of consecutive wins in the Monaco Grand Prix. The 29-year-old German – who was winning his second successive race this season – came home in his Mercedes ahead of compatriot Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari with long-time leader and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton third. Rosberg, who reduced the gap between himself and Hamilton in the world championship standings to 10 points after six races, trailed his team-mate for 63 laps until an accident prompted a Safety Car intervention that, in turn, led the team to call the Briton in for an unexpected and unnecessary pit-stop. Obeying his team, Hamilton, who led by 21 seconds before he pitted, came out in third place and, after the race was re-started with eight laps remaining, found it impossible to pass Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, let alone Rosberg, to claim his fourth victory of the year. King’s Cup Final A magical Lionel Messi goal, the first of a personal double, led treble-chasing Barcelona to a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the King’s Cup final on May 30, 2015. The Argentine skipped superbly past four players in a mazy run after 20 minutes before shooting venemously into the bottom corner of the net beyond keeper Iago Herrerin to claim his 33rd goal in his 50th appearance for Barca in the competition. 2nd T20 International Pakistan pulled off a sensational last-over win by two wickets in the second T 20 International against Zimbabwe in Lahore on May 24, 2015 to take the two-match series 2-0. With 12 needed off the last over, No. 10 Bilawal Bhatti hit a six and four besides taking a double to help Pakistan overhaul a stiff 176-run target in 19.4 overs. Opener Mukhtar Ahmed hit his second consecutive fifty during his 40-ball 62. The T20s will be followed by three ODIs on May 26, 29 and 31. Women’s Junior World Boxing Championship Indian boxers rounded off a thoroughly commendable performance at the AIBA Women’s Junior World Championships, clinching three gold and two silver medals on the final day of the event at Taipei on May 23, 2015. Savita (50kg), Mandeep Sandhu (52kg) and Sakshi (54kg) struck gold for the country, while Soniya (48kg) and Niharika Gonella (70kg) settled for silver medals. Soniya was the first to take the ring for India, squaring off against American Heaven Garcia. She went down 1-2 to open the Indian account with a silver medal. Next in was Savita and she edged past her Ukrainian rival Kateryna Rohova 2-1 to clinch the first gold of the day for India. This was followed by Mandeep’s 3-0 triumph over Ireland’s Niamh Earley before Sakshi made it three in a row by out-punching American Yarisel Ramirez 3-0. However, Niharika proved no match for Russian Anastasiia Sigaeva and lost 0-3 to settle for a silver medal. Earlier in the youth competition, Jamuna Boro (57kg) had bagged a bronze medal after losing in the semifinals. Second IPL Title Mumbai Indians outclassed Chennai Super Kings in every department of the game to win the Indian Premier League 2015 title. After scoring 202 runs, Mumbai Indians halted Chennai Super Kings on 161/8 to claim their second Indian Premier League title since 2013. Mumbai became the third side – after Chennai and Kolkata Knight Riders – to win the IPL on more than one occasion. The team had previously defeated Chennai in the IPL 2013 final in Kolkata. On May 24, 2015, Mumbai repeated history in more [ 3 4 ] Weekly Current Affairs 24th May 2015 to 30th May, 2015 www.ias100.in Messi has been in top form in the second half of the season and again provided the inspiration for his team who went 2-0 up when Brazilian Neymar slotted the ball into an open goal having been set up by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez in the 36th minute. Barca’s South American attacking trio have netted a Spanish record 120 goals in all competitions this season, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain managed in 2011-12 for Real Madrid. It was also a recordextending 27th King’s Cup title for the Catalans who have also won La Liga this season. Europa League Trophy Sevilla won a record fourth Europa League trophy after beating Dnipro in a thrilling final in Warsaw on May 27, 2015. Bacca’s brace ensured Sevilla headed back home with back to back Europa League titles. In winning the competition, Sevilla created history by doing so for the record fourth time. They went one better than Inter Milan, Juventus and Liverpool, with whom they had been level on three wins before kick-off. Dnipro meanwhile, were playing in their first major European final. The defending champions got an early shock as Dnipro’s Nikola Kalinic gave the Ukraine club a seventh-minute lead. However, the Spanish side recovered quickly as Grzegorz Krychowiak scored in the twenty eighth minute and Bacca gave Sevilla the lead just three minutes after that. In an absolutely enthralling first half, Dnipro’s Ruslan Rotan’s made it 2-2 right before the first half whistle with a clever free-kick. The two teams went into half time with a scoreline that read 2-2 and an equally exciting second half awaited the viewers. Both teams had chances before Bacca broke through in the 73rd minute to seal victory for Sevilla. Unai Emery’s side has also won a place in next season’s Champions League with the win. Hero I-League trophy Bello Rasaq provided a dramatic finish to a pulsating season on May 31, 2015 when his late equaliser helped Mohun Bagan hold Bengaluru FC to a 1-1 draw and bring the Hero I-League trophy for the first time to Kolkata after a painful 13-year wait. The Nigerian defender showed great tenacity and composure to leap above his Bengaluru markers and head in Sony Norde’s corner in the 86th minute at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to send the 2,000- odd Bagan supporters and the millions back home into delirium and halt the Blues’ dreams of clinching a historic double. Eugene Diamond League Athletics Meet Great Britain’s Mo Farah pulled away on the final lap to win the 10,000m at the Eugene Diamond League athletics meeting on May 29, 2015 in a season’s best time of 26min 50.97sec. India’s Vikas Gowda finished third in men’s discus throw with a throw of 64.41. Poland’s Piotr Malachowski (65.59m) took the gold while Robert Urbanek, also of Poland, won the silver with a throw of 65.42. Olympic and world champion at 5,000m and 10,000m, Farah held off the determined challenge of Kenyan Paul Tanui to continue a winning streak in the event that stretches back to 2011 — when he took silver in the 10,000m at the World championships. Women’s long jump American Tianna Bartoletta won the women’s long jump with a wind-aided 7.11m. She’s the first woman to surpass seven metres this season, but her 6.99m at Doha remains the best in the world this year in legal wind. Canadian Christabel Nettey was second with a leap of 6.99 while Britain’s Lorraine Ugen was third in 6.89. Reigning Olympic champion and three-time world champion Brittney Reese was fifth with a jump of 6.69m. MISCELLANEOUS DD Kisan: Doordarshan’s farmer- centric channel launched Doordarshan’s farmer- centric channel, DD Kisan has launched on May 26, 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has made it a “must carry” channel making it mandatory for cable and Direct to Home (DTH) operators to provide it to their subscribers. Since there are farmers in every state, so under the Cable Act, the Kisan channel has been made a must- carry channel. Must carry means that it is compulsory for every cable network or DTH network to carry it. Earlier there were 24 TV channels which were must carry channels and after the notification issued with regard to DD Kisan, there are 25 such www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  channels now. Several Doordarshan channels are included in the category of ‘must carry’ channels. The channel would become available 24×7 and its programmes would be primarily for agriculture sector and rural India. Information related to weather can be very useful. The dedicated channel, allocated Rs.100 crore in the Union budget, will focus on the 140 million farm households in India. It will be a big leap over state broadcaster Doordarshan’s programme called Krishi Darshan, launched in 1967, which generations of Indians grew up watching. There will be specific programmes such Khet Khaliyan, on better agronomic practices that farmers can adopt, a live programme called Hello Kisan, in which farmers will be able to make a phone call to seek expert opinion, and an interactive show called Ghumte Phirte. While the population is growing, land is not. The only solution is to increase productivity in agriculture. With access to new technology and practices, India should set a goal to increase productivity to match global averages. UN Peace keeping Today, some 125,000 women and men serve in 16 peacekeeping missions across the globe. Peacekeepers are deployed in some of the world’s most challenging and austere environments and mandated with increasingly complex and difficult tasks. Over the decades, UN Peacekeeping has implemented a series of reforms to be both ‘fit for purpose’ and innovative in the management of our field operations. UN continue to strive towards greater performance, efficiency and costeffectiveness, introducing new technologies and strengthening our partnerships worldwide. India began its tryst with UN Peacekeeping by providing the Custodian Force in Korea, 1950. It is worth mentioning that the Indian Army is among the top three contributors to UN Missions. Peace keepers Day 2015 On 29 May, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold events to honour fallen peacekeepers. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948 until April 2015, 3,358 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.