GK Eduwrap – 16th April 2015

National:

1. The fourth Lighthouse Museum of India will be opened at Kannur, Kerala to promote lighthouse tourism. The other three lighthouses museums have been set up at Alappuzha in Kerala and Chennai and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

2. Union Government plans to push for Green Bonds to meet its target to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power and 60000MW of wind power by 2022 for which it needs 200 billion US dollars. Green Bonds or Climate Bonds are fixed-income financial instruments (bonds) linked to climate change solutions. These bonds are either dollar or rupee denominated and are relatively a new asset class.

3. World Economic Forum (WEF) released a report titled Urban Development Recommendations for India under the Future of Urban Development and Services (FUDS) Initiative. The report has been written in collaboration with Accenture. The report highlights the importance of wider private-sector participation to bridge the urban infrastructure and services funding gap of 110 billion US dollars, which is widening due to India’s rapid urban population growth.

4. India-Germany Joint Statement was released with an aim to upgrade and further strengthen the Strategic Partnership between the two countries. The Joint Statement was released after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover and Berlin. PM Narendra Modi is on a three-day visit to Germany. As part of the statement, the two nations agreed to take proactive steps to advance collaboration in the areas of manufacturing, skill development, urban development, environment, railways, cleaning of rivers, language and science & technology.

5. Meenakshi Madan Rai sworn in as the first lady judge of the Sikkim High Court. Her oath of the office was administered by the Governor Srinivas Patil at Ashirwad Hall at Raj Bhavan in Gangtok.

6. Justice AR Dave of the Supreme Court of India (SC) recused himself from five-judge Constitutional bench that was to hear a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014. The act replaces the two-decade-old collegium system of judicial appointments with the NJAC.

7. Renowned film director and actor of Assam Bidyut Chakraborty died on 15th April 2015 in a private nursing home in Guwahati after brief illness. He was 55.

8. Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decided to rename Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorization (TVoA-ETA) scheme as e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme. MHA decided to change the name of the scheme after it observed that the name of the scheme (TVoA-ETA) created confusion among tourists and also it had received requests of name change from some Indian embassies.

In the present scheme of things, tourists presumed that the Visa was granted on their arrival; however, the pre-authorization of Visa to foreigners was given prior to travel. The new name eTV scheme was chosen after the committee constituted for the purpose conducted a contest on mygov.in and selected e-Tourist Visa (eTV) as the appropriate new name. The committee comprised of officers from Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs and Bureau of Immigration (BoI).

About Electronic Travel Authorization (TVoA-ETA):

The Union Government launched Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (TVoA-ETA) on 27th November 2014. The scheme was launched for 44 countries at nine airports to facilitate short duration international travellers. Under the scheme, pre-authorisation of Visa to foreigners was given prior to travel, under which a foreign tourist was required to apply for a visa online. The visa authorities were supposed to process the application and send an electronic travel authorization, or simply e-visa, via e-mail to the applicant within 72-hours.

9. The 45-day long annual fishing ban in the territorial waters of Eastern Coastal Zone of the country including Andaman & Nicobar Islands was enforced on 15th April 2015. The ban will help to safeguard fish in their breeding season and increase the fish catch. During this period of ban, the fishermen with mechanized boats are barred from venturing out into the sea for fishing till mid-night of 31st May 2015. With imposition of this ban, the fisheries authorities have stopped issuing tokens for fishing.

10. Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation constituted a Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers (ILR). It will look into the issues relating to Interlinking of Rivers in the country. The task force will be chaired by ex-UPSC member and advisor to the Gujarat Chief Minister BN Navalawala and constitutes of experts and senior officials.

11. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the Vividh Bharati Service of Delhi on FM Mode in a function held at premises of New Broadcasting House of All India Radio (AIR). The service will be available on 100.1 Megahertz frequency.

12. Ri Su Yong, the Foreign Minister of North Korea, visited India. He was on a three-day visit to India and this was the first-ever visit of a foreign minister of North Korea to India. He visited India on an invitation of Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs of India.

13. Indian Railways is on track to take the e-auction route for the first time for redevelopment of stations through public-private partnership (PPP).

14. The government is set to give a major push to the e-tourist visa scheme by extending it to 31 more countries and allowing foreign tourists to avail of the facility at seven more airports by 15th of June. Among the countries that will benefit from the latest extension are the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Malaysia, Tanzania and Argentina.

15. India and Belarus agreed to enhance their bilateral ties especially in the field of trade and economy. The agreement was reached during the meeting of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. He also met with President Pranab Mukherjee.

16. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Russian company INTMA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a gas-based power project in Kazakhstan. According to the MoU, the two parties will endeavour to assist each other in the implementation of the deal.

17. Canada has agreed to supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium to India under a $254 million five-year deal to power Indian atomic reactors. The agreement for uranium supply was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper after comprehensive talks in Ottawa, Canada.

International:

1. International Monetary Fund (IMF) released World Economic Outlook (WEO) April 2015 Report. The report is titled Uneven Growth: Short-term and Long-term Factors.

Global growth is forecasted at 3.5% in 2015 and 3.8% in 2016 which is in line with forecasts made in the January 2015 WEO Update. Also the global growth rate in 2015 is broadly same as it was in 2014.

Projection about India:
• India’s growth is projected to strengthen from 7.2% in 2014 to 7.5 % in 2015 and 2016.
• For the first time since 1999, India’s growth rate may eclipse China’s and there is increasing divergence in the growth paths of the two countries.
• India is trying to shift from consumption to investment led growth at a time when China is going opposite way.

2. Former Prime Minister of Nepal, Surya Bahadur Thapa died on 15th April 2015 in Gurgaon, Haryana. He was 87. Thapa, who was suffering from cancer for some time, was undergoing treatment at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.

3. The fifth meeting of the foreign ministers of the group members of Normandy Group was held on 13th April 2015 in Berlin, the capital of Germany. Normandy Group or Normandy Quartet is a group of four countries including Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine. The group was formed to facilitate a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing conflict between the Ukraine Army and pro-Russia forces in the Donbass region of Ukraine. It was formed on 6th June 2014 after an informal meeting of the four heads of state on the sidelines of commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.

4. Over 120 people were killed and 1281 were injured while celebrating the Songkran Festival of Thailand. Songkran festival is a traditional New Year Eve celebration of Thailand. It is also known as Thailand Water Festival. It is originally celebrated as a way for the Thai people to sprinkle water on their family members and elders for good fortune and pay their respects to images of the beloved Buddha.

5. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi was defaced, in Johannesburg in South Africa, by a group of people calling him a racist. The group had placards that read: Racist Gandhi must fall.

6. The Chinese Government quashed the bid of Taiwan to become a full member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for lack of appropriate name.

7. Parliament of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada, passed a legislation that equates Communism with Nazism (nationalist-socialist) and banned both the regimes. The law even banned the public use and propaganda of their symbols.

Mergers & Acquisition:

1. Singapore-based investment firm Temasek acquired InnoVen Capital India, formerly known as SVB India Finance, for 300 crore rupees. InnoVen Capital India will be independently managed with a reconstituted board of 5 members, comprising Madhabi Puri Buch, former chief executive officer of ICICI Securities, as chairperson.

Appointment:

1. Dr. Mohan Kumar was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to France. He is a 1981-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer.

Science & Technology:

1. Researchers at Stanford University created a smartphone battery that charges in only one minute. Stanford University chemistry professor Hongjie Dai is the lead researcher of the project. The battery invented is the first high-performance aluminum battery which is fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive.

2. India today successfully test fired its nuclear-capable Agni-III ballistic missile with a strike range of more than 3,000 km from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.  The Agni-III missile is powered by a two-stage solid propellant system. With a length of 17 metres, the missile’s diameter is 2 metres and launch weight is around 50 tonnes. It can carry a warhead of 1.5 tonne which is protected by carbon all composite heat shield.

3. Finish telecom network equipment maker Nokia announced acquisition of French telecom network firm Alcatel- Lucent. This merger will create the world’s largest supplier of telecom equipment’s that powers mobilephone networks by surpassing Ericsson and Huawei.

Sports:

1. Former South African cricketer Allan Donald resigned as the bowling coach of South Africa Cricket team.

2. Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal today regained the number one position in international rankings after China’s Li Xuerui dropped a couple of rungs to third in the latest list issued today.

3. Sachin Tendulkar was elected as member of prestigious Laureus Sports Academy. He was named as member at the 16th Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in Shanghai, China. He was elected along with retired Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming. With this, the total number of members of Laureus Sports Academy reached 52.Kapil Dev and Rahul Dravid are the other Indian cricketers to have received this recognition. Besides, former FC Barcelona and Spain star Carles Puyol was named as the Laureus Ambassador.

Economics:

1. German financial group Deutsche Bank has been fined a whopping $8.4 million by Dubai’s top regulator for committing “serious contraventions” in its dealings.

Awards & Recognition:

1. Professors Susanta Lahiri and Kattesh V. Katti received Hevesy Medal Award 2015 for their outstanding contributions in the fields of radio and nuclear chemistry. The awards were presented to them at the Tenth International Conference on Methods and Applications of Radio-analytical Chemistry held in USA.

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