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National – Across the India:
1. BJP president Amit Shah launched the “Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana” giving cooking gas connections to poor tribal families in Dahod district of Gujarat.
Mr. Shah termed the new initiative a right tool for women empowerment as with gas connections, women will no longer be dependent on firewood and kerosene for cooking.
The new beneficiaries enrolled for the scheme from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were given the gas connection documents by Mr. Shah, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and the Chief Ministers.
2. Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry soon going to unveil a new education policy.
They had prepared a document with the help of experts, including advice by education councils, to improve our education system and will be unveiled in 15-20 days.
The government had invited industry leaders to partner in these institutes and that private players have already invested over Rs. 140 crore in setting them up.
The main aim of the Ministry is to ensure that universities are not used as tool for political purposes and remain temples of learning.
3. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) conducted the trial run of the country’s first ever Metro train equipped to run in the driverless mode.
The train was ceremonially flagged off by Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The driverless trains will run on the over 58 km-long Majlish Park-Shiv Vihar (Line 7) and the over 38 km-long Janakpuri (West)- Botanical Garden (Line 8) corridors of the Phase-III.
4. Odisha Government has decided to launch Green Passage scheme for orphan students to ensure that they get free of cost higher education in the state.
A proposal of the higher education department in this regard, was approved by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
As per the scheme Orphan students pursuing higher education (from Plus-II level) to post-graduation level, will no longer have to bear the education expenses.
5. Union Government has opened a special Tatkal like window to expedite examination process of patent applications by start-ups as well as of entities choosing India for filing the first patent.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has as amended patent rules.
Union Government is aiming to reduce the time frame for the grant of patents to 18 months from the present 5-7 years by March 2018.
6. Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Wildlife Department for the first time has sighted group of eight Himalayan brown bears in Kargil’s Drass Sector after 1999 India-Pakistan War.
The eight Himalayan brown bears (three adult females and five grown-up cubs) were sighted in the mountain ranges of Ladakh’s Drass area at altitude 16,000 to 21,000 feet.
The sighting is considered as rare record as their natural habitats in Kargil’s Drass Sector were damaged during the 1999 war due to heavy artillery shelling for almost three months.
7. Ruling All India Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has emerged victorious in the 2016 West Bengal Assembly Election.
TMC has won 211 seats i.e. two-third seats of total 295 seats. Coalition of Indian National Congress (INC) and Left combine has won 76 seats emerging as largest opposition front.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamta Banerjee has won from Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency.
8. The Union Government has launched the Centre for Environmental Health in New Delhi to assess the impact of environment-related problems on health.
The centre was launched by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda on in New Delhi.
Its mandate is capacity-building, advocacy, outreach and remedial issues.
9. Himachal Pradesh Government has launched ‘PEHAL’, a vision document of the Shimla District administration for raising education standards.
It was launched by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in Shimla. PEHAL is an attempt to integrate the various stakeholders in the development story of the district.
The aim of the PEHAL programme is to identify certain thrust areas which have a direct bearing on the lives of the people at grassroots.
The five areas identified under PEHAL are Forest Rights, Primary Education, Campaign against drugs, Health and Sanitation and skill development and Women Empowerment.
10. Himachal Pradesh fisheries department has started an artificial propagation programme for rehabilitation and conservation of Golden Mahseer fish.
Under this programme, a hatchery has been set up in the state with an outlay of Rs 6 crore to rear mahseer fish and release its fingerlings into the wild.
Golden mahseer is the longest-living freshwater fish. It is also known as the tiger of Indian rivers and belongs to the genus Tor.
11. Union Government has constituted 11 members committee to recommend measures to enhance the combat capabilities of the armed forces and re-balance the overall defence expenditure.
The 11-member committee will be headed by Lt Gen D B Shekatkar (retd). It also includes several other top military officers as well as civilian experts.
The aim of the committee is to ensure combat capabilities Indian armed forces and enhance their potential with a better teeth-to-tail combat ratio, within budgetary constraints and also ensuring leaner and cost-effective fighting forces of India.
International – Across the Globe:
1. The US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China will meet in Islamabad on May 18 to discuss a roadmap for negotiating a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban to end the 15-year insurgency, amid a surge in violence in the war-torn country.
It would be the first meeting since the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) met in Kabul on February 23 and announced talks would start in the first week of March, but the process could not begin as Taliban refused to join.
According to the official sources special envoys of China and the US and senior officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan were expected to attend the meeting schedule on May 18 in Islamabad.
2. Pakistan’s powerful Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif met top Chinese leaders and military officials here and discussed ways to enhance bilateral economic and security ties.
This meeting is to enhance bilateral economic and security ties.
Sharif’s visit to Beijing comes in the backdrop of assertions by Pakistan that it will raise its concerns at the international level over India’s successful test of supersonic interceptor missile.
3. China rejected US claims that its fighter jets maneuvered unsafely when they intercepted an American Navy reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea, and demanded that the US end such missions close to the Chinese territory.
The Chinese jets monitored the US plane from an acceptable distance and operated in a safe and professional manner, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists at a regularly scheduled news briefing.
According to Pentagon two Chinese J-11 fighters flew within about 15 meters (50 feet) of the US EP-3 Aries aircraft on Tuesday, forcing the US pilot to descend sharply to avoid a collision.
4. As China’s strongest critic Tsai Ing-wen assumed power in Taiwan and pledged democracy and close ties with the US, a wary BEIJING warned her against seeking independence and said the ‘One-China policy’ remained the corner-stone of its relations with other countries.
Tsaitook the oath as the new President of Taiwan in Taipei.
She is the head of the Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates Taiwan’s independence from the mainland.
5. The Global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in its final report has appreciated India’s Medicines with the Red Line campaign on antibiotics.
The global review was commissioned by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 and was chaired by economist Jim O’Neil.
India’s model of putting a red line on antibiotic packages to curb their over-the-counter sale can be used globally to counter the rising threat of superbugs.
1. Andy Murray (World No.3) from Britain has won the 2016 Italian Open title of Tennis in the men’s singles category.
It was his first Italian Open title.
In the final match played in Rome, Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic (World No.1) for the first time on the clay court by 6-3, 6-3 score.
The Italian Open is an annual tennis tournament held in Rome, Italy. It is also known as the Rome Masters and the Italian Championships.
2. Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen from Netherlands created history by becoming Formula One’s youngest race winner.
He achieved this feat after winning the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, which was his debut race for Red Bull at the age of 18.
He was able to win the Spanish Grand Prix by maintaining lead position after Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Roseberg crashed into each other in the 1st lap of race.
3. Indian women’s badminton team assured a bronze medal after notching up a comfortable 3-1 win over Thailand in the quarterfinals of the Uber Cup on Thursday.
The Indian women’s team had created history in the last edition when it clinched a historic bronze in New Delhi after losing to Japan in the semifinals.
India is likely to take on China in the semifinals on Friday.
4. World number one Novak Djokovic and nine-time champion Rafael Nadal have been seeded to meet in the French Open semi-finals after the draw was made on Friday.
Djokovic needs a Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam after losing three finals in four years including last season to Stan Wawrinka .
Fourth seed Wawrinka is scheduled to take on second seed Andy Murray in the other semi-final.
Awards & Recognition:
1. Anjali Chandrashekar, an Indian artist, has won the third prize in UN Poster for Peace contest presented by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) to raise awareness of the need for nuclear disarmament.
Her poster titled ‘Cutting Barriers through Peace’ featured a peace dove slicing through a nuclear weapon.
The first prize was won by Ivan Ciro Palomino Huamani from Peru for his poster titled ‘Spinning Peace’.
His poster featured a nuclear weapon being unravelled into string which is then used to fly kites and balloons, and to jump rope.
2. Former ISRO Chairman and space scientist Prof Udupi Ramachandra Rao became the first Indian to be given ‘Hall of Fame’ Award by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF).
Mr. Rao has been selected for the prestigious award for his outstanding contribution to the progress of astronautics within the framework of the IAF activities.
He will receive the award at the 67th International Astronautical Congress to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico in September 2016.
3. Han Kang, a South Korean author, has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for her novel “The Vegetarian”.
By getting this award, Han becomes the first South Korean to win this prestigious literary prize.
The prize includes 72000 dollar money that will be shared by the writer and her British translator Deborah Smith.
“The Vegetarian” tells a story of a wife nemed “Yeong-hye, lead character”, who decides to become a vegetarian.
Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award that is given to a living author of any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally available in English translation.
4. Four Indian peacekeepers and a civilian have been chosen posthumously for United Nation’s Dag Hammarskjold Medal for their courage and sacrifice.
They are among the 124 police, military and civilian personnel who have been posthumously awarded a prestigious UN medal.
They will be honoured on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (observed annually on 29 May).
Five Indians are Head Constable Shubhkaran Yadav, Rifleman Manish Malik, Havildar Amal Deka, Naik Rakesh Kumar, Gagan Punjabi.
The award is given posthumously to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the control and authority of the UN.
5. Indian American professor Dr. Rakesh K. Jain will be presented 2015 National Medal of Science of the United States.
He will be presented with this top award for his individual achievement and leadership in advancing the field of science and technology.
The award is presented by the US President to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioural and social sciences, chemistry, engineering, biology, mathematics and physics.
6. Syamantak Payra, Indian American teenager from Texas, has won the $50,000 Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award.
Payra won this prestigious award along with Kathy Lu.
He won the award for his work in making a low-cost electronically-aided knee brace device which allows people with weakened legs to be able to walk better.
He had tested his design on two people that were left partially disabled after suffering from polio.
His device has allowed them to walk more naturally, and improved their mobility.
7. An Indian-American biotechnologist Rupa Iyer has been awarded Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence Award, University of Houston’s highest teaching award.
She was bestowed with this award for her sustained and significant contributions in the field of education.
Presently, she is Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Houston’s College of Technology.
Appointments & Resignations:
1. Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Mukul Mudgal has been appointed as Deputy Chairman of FIFA Governance Committee.
While former European Court of Justice Advocate General Luis Miguel Maduro from Portugal was appointed as Chairman of FIFA’s governance committee.
They were appointed by newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino after 66th FIFA Congress held in Mexico City selected them.
2. Justice Deepak Gupta has sworn-in as the new Chief Justice (CJ) of the Chhattisgarh High Court.
He was administered the oath of office as per by Chhattisgarh Governor Balram Das Tandon at Raj Bhawan in Raipur as per the provisions of the Article 219 of Constitution
Justice Deepak Gupta was transferred from Tripura High Court by President Pranab Mukherjee as per provisions Article 222 of Constitution.
He was transferred by President following recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) T.S. Thakur.
3. Turkey’s governing party on Thursday formally tapped Binali Yildirim as its candidate to lead the party and become the country’s next premier.
Yildirim is Turkey’s minister of transport, maritime and communication as well as as founding member of the AKP.
He will run unopposed for the party leadership at a special convention on Sunday in Ankara.
Traditionally, the post of premier in Turkey goes to the leader of the largest party in parliament.
4. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau as UN’s Special Envoys for El Nino and Climate.
These appointments come at a time of great urgency as the drought and flooding associated with El Niño have created massive needs across the world.
The El Niño has worst affected four regions of East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America and the Pacific.
5. Former Finance Secretary Ratan P Watal has been appointed as Principle Adviser for social sector in NITI Aayog.
He has been appointed to the post for three years. His appointment comes after his two-month extended tenure as Finance Secretary ended in April 2016.
He was to retire in February 2016, but got a two-month extension.
National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) is premier policy think tank of Union Government.
It has had replaced erstwhile six decade old Planning Commission.
Mergers & Acquisitions:
1. After over five years of hiatus, associate banks of SBI including State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur have proposed to merger with the parent lender.
The respective boards have proposed merger with the State Bank of India (SBI) in a meeting.
The country’s largest lender has five associate banks – State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.
Among these, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore are listed.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU):
1. India and United States (US) held their first Maritime Security Dialogue in New Delhi for deepening the evolving partnership in the maritime domain between both countries.
The first round of discussions under the recently-constituted dialogue was held between officials of India’s Defence and External Affairs Ministries and their US counterparts.
Both sides discussed various issues including naval cooperation, Asia-Pacific maritime challenges and multilateral engagement.
They agreed to include the conclusion of a white shipping technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic.
Economics & Banking GK:
1. The Income Declaration Scheme 2016 or four month window for declaration of domestic black money shall come into effect from 1st June 2016.
The window provides an opportunity to all persons who have not declared income correctly in earlier years to come forward and declare their undisclosed incomes.
The declared income would be taxed at the rate of 30 per cent plus ‘Krishi Kalyan’ cess of 25 per cent on taxes payable and a penalty at the rate of 25 per cent of the taxes payable.
Thus the total tax to be paid will be 45% of the income declared under the scheme.
2. The World Bank Board announced it had approved a loan worth $625 million for the government’s initiative for rooftop solar power generation.
The Board also approved a co-financing loan of $120 million on concessional terms and a $5 million grant from the Climate Investment Fund’s Clean Technology Fund.
The project will finance the installation of at least 400 MW of Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (GRPV) across India.
3. The Income Tax (IT) department has launched electronic grievance redressal system ‘e-nivaran’ to fast track taxpayer grievances and ensure early resolution of their complaints.
A separate and dedicated window for grievance redressal has been launched in the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA).
The e-nivaran system also called as unified grievance management system seeks to integrate all online and physical complaints gathered by the department.
4. The Union Government has constituted a five member committee to comprehensively review and give recommendations on the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) roadmap for the future.
The committee will be headed by Former Revenue Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, NK Singh.
Its members are “Former Finance and Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose, Chief Economic Adviser (CEC) Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Deputy Governor of RBI Urijit Patel and Director of National Institute Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) Rathin Roy”.
5. The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to merge its five associate public sector banks (PSBs) and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with itself.
SBI has informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it is seeking in-principle approval for acquisition from the Union Government.
5 subsidiary banks are: -
State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur
State Bank of Hyderabad
State Bank of MysorE
State Bank of Patiala
State Bank of Travancore.
6. British bank HSBC has said that it will almost halve its branch network in India from 50 to 26 following its decision to shut down its private banking business targeted at the rich.
The branch rationalization would result in HSBC losing its tag of foreign bank with second largest branch network to Citibank, which has 45 branches.
RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had said earlier last week that foreign banks are not expanding their presence in India as they need to set aside more capital in keeping with the higher risk weight.
7. The market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the Participatory Notes (P-note) norms.
The main purpose of this decision is to keep vigil on foreign investments to curb black money inflows in the country.
SEBI has introduced Know Your Client (KYC) compliance for holders of these instruments in order to bring them on a par with domestic investors.
SEBI also has sought information on the ultimate beneficiaries of these products.
Participatory Notes are offshore/overseas derivative instruments (ODIs) issued by registered foreign institutional investors (FII) to overseas investors.
Science & Technology:
1. Indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, Ashwin was successfully test fired.
The test was the twelfth test of interceptor missiles fired from a warship in the Bay of Bengal.
Of the 11 tests held earlier, 9 were successful.
The interceptor missile was test fired from the complex of Abdul Kalam Island (formerly known as Wheeler Island) in Balasore district off Odisha coast.
2. China has successfully launched Yaogan-30 remote-sensing satellite into sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) using the Long March-2D rocket.
The rocket was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in Gobi desert in northwest China’s Gansu Province.
It was the 227th flight of the Long March rocket series and was also the second orbital launch from the Jiuquan Satellite launch Center in 2016.
3. The Union Government has launched three IT and ITES initiatives for best practices in road transport sector namely INFRACON, ePACE and up-Scaled INAM PRO.
They were launched by the Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari as part of the Digital India Programme.
These innovative IT initiatives were developed in house by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) with an aim to make the road building procedure faster, more transparent and more efficient.
INFRACON: It is National Portal for Infrastructure Consultancy Firms and Key Personnel.
ePACE (Projects Appraisal & Continuing Enhancements): It is an online integrated Management Information System (MIS) portal.
INAM PRO: It is a web-based application for Infrastructure and Material Providers launched in March 2015.
4. Indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile was successfully test-fired from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha.
It was carried out by Strategic Force Command (SFC) from a mobile launcher at launch complex-3 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.
Prithvi-II is a tactical short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), withstrike range of 350 km is developed by indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
5. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully launched a super pressure balloon to conduct near-space scientific investigations. It was launched from South Island Wanaka Airport, New Zealand in the fifth attempt.
Earlier four attempts to get the massive balloon airborne were thwarted by bad weather.
The balloon is 532,000 cubic metres and aims to remain airborne for more than 100 days.
It is expected to circumnavigate the globe in the mid-latitudes of southern hemisphere once every one to three weeks, depending on wind speeds in the stratosphere.
6. The world’s first robot lawyer named ‘ROSS’ has been employed by a US law firm BakerHostetler.
The first of its kind artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer will assist the law firm and its various teams in legal research.
The robot was built by the company ROSS Intelligence and its working is based on cognitive computing.
The project had started in 2014 out of research at the University of Toronto to build an artificial intelligence legal research assistant to allow lawyers to enhance and scale their abilities.
The ROSS started functioning with first ten months after they began teaching it bankruptcy law.
7. Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) have developed world’s first genetically engineered clone of the Zika virus strain.
They have dubbed it as infectious complementary DNA (cDNA) clone.
It allows researchers to make Zika virus from test tube and cells on petri dishes.
The clone comprises of five fragments of complete zika viral genome which were individually cloned and assembled into the full-length Zika virus clone.
It will help scientists to quickly develop countermeasures and also to explore evolution of Zika virus and how it spread more quickly.
8. HDFC Bank, India’s second-largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has launched SmartUp, a dedicated solution for startups to fulfil all their banking needs.
It was launched in association with a Mumbai-based start-up accelerator Zone Startups India (ZSI).
SmartUp is tailored to meet all the requirements of a startup. It is a complete banking solution meant for startups.
It will be offering banking and payment solutions, along with forex and advisory services to startups.
9. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated an Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
He also launched a mobile application ‘Monitor’ for transformation of President’s Estate into a smart township.
During the launching ceremony President announced that President’s Estate will work around the ‘4H’ theme of a humane, Hi-Tech, Heritage and Happy Township.
Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) is a software solution to provide intelligent insights by collecting the rich data streaming in from several sources within the Estate. It is designed by IBM.
10. The Union Government has launched ‘Qora’, an indigenously developed affordable Faecal Incontinence Management System (FIMS).
It was launched by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Science & Technology Y.S.Chowdary in New Delhi.
The FIMS-Qora was developed under the Union Ministry of Science & Technology’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) Bio design Programme by M/s. Consure Medical.
This affordable novel technology will help to address the clinical and economic implications of FI by expanding indications for use.
It will also help in reducing skill level required to use a device, and introducing a new level of care for patients outside the ICU.
11. Australian researchers have built the world’s first Scanning Helium Microscope (SHeM) to examine materials without disturbing them.
The SHeM was developed by the team of researchers from University of Newcastle (UON) led by Professor Paul Dastoor in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge.
SHeM possesses short De Broglie wavelength of the helium ions and very high source brightness.
It enables to obtain high quality data which is not at all achievable with conventional microscopes which use photons or electrons as the emitting source.
1. The Government of India has declared 16th May as National Dengue Day.
It is celebrated to mark the toll the deadly disease has been taking in terms of lives and to reaffirm nationwide efforts to tackle the scourge by using both education and medical intervention.
The decision was taken because Dengue disease burden has shown an increase in recent years in the country and in Nagaland with more frequency of outbreaks during the monsoon and post monsoon season.
2. Every year May 21 is being observed as Anti-Terrorism Day throughout India to spread awareness among the people about the danger of terrorism and violence and its effect on the people, society and the country as a whole.
The objective behind the observance of Anti-Terrorism Day is to wean away the people from terrorism and violence.
Its motive is to promote unity, peace and harmony across the nation.
The day marks the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated at an election rally near Chennai by a suicide bomber from the LTTE on 21 May 1991.