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48 || Year Book 2015

1
Current Aff
Affairs
ffairs

DRDO successfully backward classes and extend reservation for


Tested fire Interceptor missile admission in educational institutions and for public
appointments. By virtue of this verdict, all identity
Defense Research and Development
documents, including a birth certificate, passport,
Organization (DRDO) conducted a successful test
ration card and driving licence would recognise the
launch of the interceptor missile. DRDO’s Air
third gender.
Defence Missile AAD-05 has successfully hit the
ballistic missile and destroyed it at a height of 15 EC cancels tax benefit to ten political parties
kms off the Coast of Orissa near the Wheelers Island. Election of India has directed the Central
The Interceptor missile is an anti- ballistic missile
Board of Direct Tax (CBDT) to withdraw the tax
designed to counter the ballistic missile like
benefit to ten political parties on the ground that
intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic they failed to submit their mandatory expenditure
missiles launched from any country. A ballistic contribution reports on time to the poll body. The
missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological EC, in its latest communication, has asked the
or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight
CBDT to take action against the defaulting parties
trajectory. So far, six of the seven interceptor missile
under provisions of Section 29C (Declaration of
tests, carried out by the DRDO, have been donation received by the political parties) of the
successful. While two interceptions were conducted Representation of the People Act in consonance with
in exo-atmopshere (altitudes between 47 and 80 km) I-T laws.
the rest were in endo-atmosphere (below 40 km
altitude). The EC has identified the ten parties as Nagrik
Ekta Party, Dharamrajya Paksh, Socialist Unity
Supreme Court recognizes T Centre of India (Communist), Yuvajana Sramika
ransgender as third gender Rythu Congress Part y, Sunder Samaj Part y,
Rejoice came for the transgender as the apex Loktantrik Manavtawadi Party, Rastriya Mahila
court of India has recognized the transgender as the Janshakti Party (RMJP) and the Indian People Green
third gender along with male and female. A Bench Party as the defaulters in filing their contribution
of Justice consisting Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and and donation receipt reports for the financial year
A.K. Sikri has directed the Centre and States to take 2012-13.
steps to treat them as socially and educationally The stipulated time limit for this exercise was

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September 30, 2013 but all these parties defaulted information by using pin codes of their area or by
in submitting the records to EC by an average of zooming on their locality on the map. The tool will
one-five months while one party (RMJP) did it be updated regularly to provide information about
within the time limit but the poll body found some all candidates as they get finalised and will be made
discrepancies in their records and hence referred it available at least a week before the voting day in each
to the CBDT. constituency.
BrahMos Missile Google created its first elections tools seven
Successfull y tested fire from INS Kolkata years ago when our engineers noticed a huge increase
in search traffic around the election period in the
Indian army has successfully tested fire an United States.
advance version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile At present around 20 countries including
system at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. Malaysia, Thailand, and now, India have elections
The block III variant of BrahMos with deep pages that aid voters during election periods. Google
penetration capability was test launched from a aims to encourage people to be more participative
Mobile Autonomous Launcher. The missile after and engage with candidates. It also allows voters to
launch followed the predetermined trajectory and have a deeper understanding of politics and
successfully pierced the designated concrete governance through engagement with the
structure, a press release stated. The 290-km candidates.
BrahMos flies at a speed of 2.8 Mach and carries a
conventional warhead of up to 300 kg. The missile Save Vikrant campaign
can be launched from multiple platforms including Over 200 defence correspondents spread
land, sea, sub-sea and air. across the country have recently launched the ‘Save
Google launkches know your candidate tool Vikrant Campaign.’ They are planning to meet the
Defence Minister, seeking his immediate
Internet giant Google has launched a new tool, intervention to stop the sale of India’s first aircraft
as part of its elections portal offering ‘google.co.in/ carrier. The majestic-class aircraft carrier, purchased
elections’, called ‘Know Your Candidates’. The new from Britain in 1957, played a key role in enforcing
tool will allow citizens to get easy access to relevant the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the India-
information about political candidates contesting Pakistan War of 1971.
from their constituency and their incumbent INS Vikrant is a symbol of our country’s
Member of Parliament. This tool integrates publicly valour and courage. It was Vikrant that fought many
available information sourced from Indian battles on the high seas, notably the 1971 war. The
organizations such as the Association for Democratic auctioning of Vikrant is a matter of national shame.
Reforms (ADR), PRS Legislative Research and
Liberty Institute India. India successfull y tested fire Prithvi II missile
The tool will provide information for each India has recently successfully test-fired its
sitting Lok Sabha MP and contesting candidates nuclear-capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile
such as their disclosed educational background, from a military base in Odisha. The indigenously-
financial details and social media presence (wherever developed ballistic missile with a maximum range
available) including video bios of the candidates of 350 km was fired from the Integrated Test Range
provided by Ping networks. Mapped onto Google at Chandipur in Balasore district, about 230 km
Maps interface, citizens will be able to find the from Bhubaneswar.

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50 || Year Book 2015

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the fourth rank in the list of rare birds. This is what
Indian Army conducted the test as part of a regular prompted NGO WARD (Wild life Conservation
training exercise. Prithvi is India’s first indigenously- and Agro-Rural Development) Foundation to
built ballistic missile. It is one of the five missiles declare the current year as the ‘year of the sparrow’.
being developed under the country’s Integrated On World Sparrow Day on 20th of March ,
Guided Missile Development Programme. the NGO pledged to take efforts to conserve and
The battlefield missile, with flight duration of protect sparrows along with increasing awareness
483 seconds and a peak altitude of 43.5 km, can about it.
carry a 500-kg warhead. The missile has features to
‘AQUATM’
deceive anti-ballistic missiles and uses an advanced
inertial guidance system with manoeuvring • Residents of Mumbai can now buy water
capabilities and reaches its target within a few metres from an ‘ATM’, that too at an affordable
of accuracy. It has a higher lethal effect compared price of Rs 1 per litre.
to equivalent missiles in the world. • In a first-of-its-kind for Mumbaikars, non-
profit group Vandana Foundation had started
ISRO flagged off GSLV Mark III
‘A QUATM’, a water vending machine. It can
India took the first step towards the liftoff of be operated through prepaid cards.
the experimental mission of its gigantic Geo- • The ATM can vend up to 1,000 litres per
synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III when day.
the rocket’s core stage, weighing more than 110 • The vending machine has been set up at
tonnes, was flagged off from the Liquid Propulsion Mankhurd where there are water
Systems Centre, Mahendragiri, near Nagercoil, contamination problems.
Tamil Nadu, to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
Intelligence grid to curb black money
The significance of the mission is that it will
be a forerunner to India sending its astronauts to • The Election Commission has created a
space. For, the GSLV-Mk III in this flight will carry multi-agency grid of revenue and security
a crew capsule without astronauts. The capsule will intelligence agencies to regularly update it
return to earth with the help of parachutes. The about suspected financial movements as part
mission will take place in June or first week of July. of measures to curb use of black money in
Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
The Indian Space Research Organisation calls
its mission to send Indian astronauts to space the • In a first-of-its-kind measure, the EC has
Human Space Flight (HSF) programme. created a board of senior officials drawn from
ten financial and security intelligence
GSLV-Mk III is the “muscular sibling” of
departments which will meet twice a week at
GSLV-Mk II which has an indigenous cryogenic ‘Nirvachan Sadan’, the EC headquarters here,
engine. GSLV-Mk III can put a communication to generate common leads and flag suspect
satellite weighing four tonnes into geo-synchronous money instances.
transfer orbit or a 10-tonne satellite into low-earth
• The agencies that have been pooled in for the
orbit.
task include Income Tax intelligence and
2014 : ’Year of the sparrow’ investigations, Financial Intelligence Unit
(FIU), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,
The common sparrow has not remained so
Central Economic Intelligence Bureau,
common these days, with the bird attaining the
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51 || Year Book 2015

Narcotics Control Bureau and the snoop and 44 per cent of all Muslims in the
wings of border guarding forces of SSB and country.
BSF and those of CISF and the Railway • The report — an updated version of the
Protection Force. Human Development Report-2011: Towards
• The EC has also asked these agencies to Social Inclusion — ranks Delhi, Kerala,
compile their respective information in a Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab
standard format so that the poll panel is among the best performing States in human
updated about the use of illegal money and development indicators, while Chhattisgarh,
other inducements in the polls. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and
• A comprehensive report prepared after these Odisha are the worst performers. Most other
meetings would be shared with the respective States, including Gujarat, have more or less
Chief Electoral Offices of various states and remained the same.
Union Territories. SC constitutes panel to suggest measures to
• Apart from the revenue agencies, the prevent road accident
intelligence wings of the Border Security
Force will keep an eye on movement of cash, Indian roads have proved to be giant killers
fake currency and drugs from across the demanding immediate attention and remedial
Pakistan and Bangladesh borders while the action, the Supreme Court observed recently and
same would be done by the Sashastra Seema appointed a panel to suggest measures to prevent
Bal (SSB) along the Nepal and Bhutan road accidents and to ensure accountability.
borders. The bench quoted figures furnished by the
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
Human development
(MoRTH) in the volume “Road Accidents in India
Indicators improve in BIMARU States
2010” highlighting the extent of increase of road
• Human development indicators across the accidents and fatal cases between 1970-2010.
poorer States with a high concentration of It is reported that road traffic accidents in
marginalised groups are catching up with the 2010 numbered 4,30,654 resulting in 1,26,896
national average, according to the latest deaths and serious injuries 4,66,600 that includes
figures released by the Institute of Applied amputation of limbs. One serious road accident in
Manpower Research (IAMR) under the the country occurs every minute; and one person
Planning Commission. dies in a road traffic accident every 4 minutes.
• However, when comparing the Scheduled
Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, who retires as
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes with
Supreme Court judge has been nominated for the
Muslims in terms of human development
panel along with S. Sundar, Former Transport
input and outcome indicators, Muslims have
Secretary and Dr. Nishi Mittal, formerly HoD,
consistently improved better than other
Traffic Engineering and Safety (TES).
marginalised groups.
• The eight poorer States — Bihar, A Bench gave this direction acting on a public
Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, interest writ petition (PIL) filed by renowned
Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and orthopaedician Dr. S. Rajasekaran.
Uttarakhand — are home to nearly 48 per The Bench asked the three-member panel to
cent of all the SCs, 52 per cent of all the STs submit a report to the apex court after receipt of

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52 || Year Book 2015

reports from Centre and States on the status of educational institutions could not be
implementation and enforcement of various road compelled to provide free and compulsory
safety laws. education to children belonging to weaker
sections. To this extent the Bench overruled
Constitutional Validity of RTE Act
the three judges’ decision upholding the RTE
• The Supreme Court has upheld the law.
constitutional validity of Articles 15(5) and • The Bench held that the 93rd Constitution
21-A of the Constitution in so far as it relates Amendment inserting clause 5 in Article 15
to unaided educational institutions to to provide for reservation to weaker sections
provide compulsory education for children in in admission to unaided private educational
the age group of 6 to 14 years. institutions did not violate the basic structure
• A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising of the Constitution.
Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices A.K.
Patnaik, Dipak Misra, S.J. Mukhopadhaya Mother tongue in primary schools
and Ibrahim Kalifulla also upheld the • The Supreme Court recently held that the
provisions of the Right of Children to Free government cannot impose mother tongue
and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and on linguistic minority for imparting primary
the Right of Children to Free and education.
Compulsory Education Rules, 2010. • The bench, comprising justices A.K. Patnaik,
• The Constitution 93rd Amendment Act, S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and F.M.
2005, inserting clause (5) in Article 15 Ibrahim Kalifulla, was hearing the issue
enables the State to make special provisions which had come before the apex court as two
for members of the SCs, STs and socially and Karnataka government orders of 1994
educationally backward classes, for admission making mother tongue or regional language
to all educational institutions, including compulsory for imparting education from
private unaided institutions, but except class I to IV, had come under challenge.
minority institutions. The right to education • In July 2013, a two-judge bench of the apex
law was enacted by Parliament in 2009 by court had said its Constitution Bench will
inserting Article 21A to provide free and examine whether government can impose
compulsory education to children between 6 mother tongue or regional language as the
and 14 years. medium of instruction at the primary
• It imposed obligations on the schools, which education stage as it has a far-reaching
included privately-managed unaided significance on the development of children.
educational institutions to admit at least 25% • The court, which was of the opinion that it
students from weaker sections. A three-judge was a fit case for consideration by a larger
Bench upheld the constitutional validity of bench, had said that the issue involved in this
this Act by a majority of 2:1. On a reference case concerns the fundamental rights of not
that the matter ought to have been decided only the present generation but also the
by a Constitution Bench, it was heard by a generations yet to be born.
five-judge Bench. • It had said that the issue had to be referred
• Writing the judgment, Justice Patnaik, to a larger bench as a two-judge bench of the
however, said the minority unaided court in 1993 had refused to interfere with

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53 || Year Book 2015

a Karnataka government order specifying Portugal’s New University of Lisbon and


mother tongue Kannada as the medium of Australia’s University of Western Sydney.
instruction at the primary school level and • The annual evaluation of the world’s top 100
making it mandatory for every child. universities under 50 years of age had a
Akash Missile distinct Eastern stance with South Korea’s
Pohang University of Science and Technology
• India has successfully conducted two rounds topping the list for the third consecutive year.
of trials of its indigenously developed surface-
to-air Akash missile as part of a user trial by Indian missile “Astra”
the air force from the Integrated Test Range • Marking an important milestone, for the first
(ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha. time an Indian missile, Astra, was successfully
• The sophisticated Akash missile was test fired test-fired from a fighter aircraft — the
twice in quick succession from launch Sukhoi-30 MKI — from a naval range in the
complex-3 of . Western Sector .
• Each missile targeted a toe body supported • The test-firing met all the mission objectives
by Pilot Less Target Aircraft (PTA) ‘Lakshya’. and the air-launch was captured by side and
• Akash is a medium range surface-to-air anti- forward looking high-speed cameras and the
aircraft defence system developed by the separation was exactly as per simulation,
Defence Research and Development according to a press release from the Defence
Organisation (DRDO) as part of the Research and Development Organisation
Integrated Guided Missile Development (DRDO).
Programme. • Astra is India’s first Beyond Visual Range Air-
• The missile has a strike range of 25 km and to-Air missile and has been designed and
can carry a warhead of 60 kg. It has the developed indigenously by the DRDO. The
capability to target aircraft up to 30 km away 60-km plus range missile possesses high
and is packed with a battery that can track Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) making
and attack several targets simultaneously. it highly reliable.
• With the capability to neutralise aerial targets • Astra is an all-weather missile with active
like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to- radar terminal guidance, excellent ECCM
surface missiles, defence experts compare (electronic counter-counter measures)
Akash to the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air features, smokeless propulsion and process
missile system . improved effectiveness in multi-target
scenario, making it a highly advanced state-
Top 100 Global Varsities of-the-art missile.
• The prestigious Indian Institute of
Technology, Guwahati has taken India into Amar Chitra Katha’s Digital Debut
the world’s top 100 university rankings for • People can now read comics on personalities
the first time with an entry at No. 87. such as Akbar, Chanakya, Jawaharlal Nehru
• IIT Guwahati is the only Indian educational and JRD Tata on smartphones and tablets,
institute in the 2014 league table of ‘100 as Amar Chitra Katha has made the digital
Under 50’ institutions released by the Times debut.
Higher Education magazine. • Amar Chitra Katha has launched ACK
• The IIT shares the 87th rank on the list with Comics, its official digital store app for across

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54 || Year Book 2015

platforms — Windows 8, iOS and Android Court had lifted the ban on the state’s dance bars,
— giving users access to over 300 of its titles. calling it a violation on the dancers’ fundamental
• The app has been developed by App9 Digital right to earn a living. The apex court had also
Studio, the digital division of Ninestars objected to luxury hotels being selectively excluded
Information Technologies. from the ban.
• Users will also get 10 comics to download for Initially, the Maharashtra government planned
free including Chanakya, Ashoka, Akbar, to refer the bill to a Select Committee, but finally
Jawaharlal Nehru and Babasaheb Ambedkar, ended up tabling it in the State Assembly, where it
Birbal, JRD Tata, Subbulakshmi, Ganesha was passed unanimously without much debate. The
and the special title on DhyanChand. State Council too passed the bill unanimously.
KCR sworn in as first CM of Telangana The Maharashtra government had banned
dance bars in the state in 2005. In 2006, the
Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) chief K Bombay High Court struck down the ban as
Chandrashekhar Rao was sworn in as the first Chief unconstitutional. This stand was upheld by the
Minister of Telangana, which became the 29th state Supreme Court in 2013.
of India.
The new bill however, allows dancing in
Eleven ministers have also taken oath in K cultural events and festivals even if they are held in
Chandrasekhar Rao’s Cabinet in the new state of luxury hotels. Dancing in gymkhanas and theatres
Telangana. Rao hoisted the tricolour and took salute will also be permitted.
at an impressive parade held at Parade Grounds,
Meanwhile, women’s groups have already said
Secunderabad. In his first public address as the CM,
they will approach the court against the bill, saying
Rao vowed to make Telangana a model state in all
it discriminates against the rights of the dancers to
respects and said that welfare and development
earn a living in the entertainment industry.
would be the two driving forces of his government.
The Telangana government would maintain Government to
cordial relationship not only with the Centre but rectify Lokpal selection process
also neighbouring states. Rooting out “political The Narendra Modi government, which
corruption” would also be top on his agenda to charged the erstwhile UPA government with framing
ensure transparent governance. rules for the Select Committee to choose the Lokpal
Maharashtra Govt. against the letter and spirit of the law, has set in
Passes a bill to ban Dance bar motion the process to ‘rectify’ the situation.The
Finance Minister and the Leader of the House in the
Dance bars are set to be banned once in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley informed the House last
Maharashtra, with both houses of the state legislature week that the rules framed by the Manmohan Singh
passing a bill to this effect . The ban will be extended government for the Selection Committee were
from beer bars to three and five star hotels, which contrary to the Act with the ulterior motive of
were spared earlier. The bill proposes a fine of upto controlling the Lokpal.
Rs 5 lakhs and imprisonment of upto 3 years against
According to officials in the Department of
those who violate the ban. The license such
Personnel and Training (DoPT) work has begun to
establishments will also be cancelled.
effect changes in the rules on the mandate of the
This comes almost a year after the Supreme search committee which will be notified soon.As per

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55 || Year Book 2015

existing rules, an eight-member search committee is “The Commission has been asked to submit
tasked with drawing up a panel of persons for a report in consultation with trade bodies like
consideration by the selection committee led by Confederation of Indian Industry, with a suggestion
Prime Minister. These persons have to be chosen in creating a more enabled business atmosphere, viz.
from among the panel provided by the DoPT, the how many clearances you need for a project with
rules say. certain mandatory clearances.
However, the government will now empower Also to tell the government whether we can
the search committee to include people from outside have a process of self-certification from the project
the list provided by DoPT for consideration by the proponents that every law had been followed, with
committee, the sources said.Besides, the DoPT has a rider that in the event of violation there will be
written to the Law Ministry to vet rules formed on serious punishment.
filing of property returns by government employees
Gujarat Govt grants 33 per cent
under the Lokpal regime.
Reservation for women in police force
As per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, every
public servant shall make a declaration of his or her In a pioneering move, Gujarat Chief Minister
assets and liabilities.The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act Anandiben Patel announced 33 per cent reservation
provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the for women in the police force.It is necessary to
Union and Lokayuktas for the States to enquire into empower women for their uplift in the society.It will
corruption charges against public functionaries. be implemented in all cadres.
Outlining Narendra Modi government’s road The path-breaking initiative comes at a time
map, President Pranab Mukherjee last week in his when crime against women is on the rise in several
address to the Joint Session of Parliament said that states and is under media spotlight following alleged
the government “is committed to providing a clean rape and murder of two minor girls in Badaun in
and efficient administration focused on delivery. “ Uttar Pradesh.
Gujarat will be the first state in India to
Central govt. to simplify
implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the
laws for single window clearance
police force.The sanctioned posts in Gujarat Police
As the BJP-led NDA government completes is around 60,000, around 10,000 more than its
its first month in office, Law and Justice Minister present strength. There are around 2500
Ravi Shankar Prasad said his Ministry was working policewomen in the State at present. If the
towards meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government manages to fill all 33 per cent posts for
commitment to provide a single window clearance women against the sanctioned strength, the State
for projects. This, he said, would improve the would have around 19,800 women in the force.
investment climate and send a clear message to
Deadline extended for National Food Security
foreign investors that they could freely invest in
India. Mr. Prasad, who is also the Telecom Minister, • The Centre extended by three months the
said there was an impression that India was one of deadline by which States should roll out the
the most over-regulated countries in the world and National Food Security Act that provides for
one had to obtain 20 or odd clearances for a project distribution of concessional foodgrains to 75
and this affected investment climate. He said he had per cent of identified beneficiaries.
asked the Law Commission to examine whether so • Under the Act, States were given time till July
many clearances were needed for approvals. 4 to implement the Act but so far only five

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56 || Year Book 2015

states have begun to roll out the scheme paper II of the prelims — should not be
while six others are “in the process.” counted for merit or gradation, and how this
• To discuss the Act’s rollout and the problems will be implemented.
faced by the States, the Centre has called a E-rickshaws Finally get the Legal Stamp
meeting of Food Ministers on July 5. The
meeting will also discuss steps that States • The Delhi High Court has advised the Delhi
should take to check hoarding and tackle G overnment to organise camps for
inflation. registration of e-rickshaws to protect the
• Announcing the decisions taken at a high- operators from further loss of earnings.
level meeting convened by Prime Minister • However, it refused to lift the ban on them
Narendra Modi, Union Food and Consumer plying on the Capital’s roads till the drivers
Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said it was have licences, registration certificates and
mandatory for the government to announce insurance papers in their possession.
an extension of the scheme under the Act. • Filing the draft guidelines to regulate the
“The allocation of foodgrains to all States will battery-operated rickshaws, the Centre
continue on the basis of the Targeted Public sought two months to finalise and notify
Distribution System till they switch to the them and urged the Court to let the vehicles
new dispensation under the Act. ply during the this period. But the Court
declined.
Govt. to consider UPSC exam in all 8th
Schedule Languages Committee set up to Review Parliament
Security
• The Central government said there was
“force” in the argument that the Civil • Security of Parliament, which was targeted by
Services Examination should be conducted in terrorists 13 years back, is set to be
all languages in the Eighth Schedule of the strengthened further with a special
Constitution and assured the Lok Sabha that committee being set up to suggest measures
this demand would be considered. for it within a month.
• At present, while question papers are set in • The committee will be headed by former
English and Hindi and the main examination Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh and will
can be attempted in any language in the include former Rajasthan DGP Harish
Eighth Schedule, the preliminary Chandra Meena and former Mumbai Police
examination are available only in English and Commissioner Satyapal Singh.
Hindi. • The committee would give suggestions on
• As protests continued within and outside training, adequacy of manpower and other
Parliament over the Civil Services Aptitude relevant issues. It would also review all
Test (CSAT), the government reiterated that security equipments installed and future
the preliminary examination would be held projections for further strengthening security.
as scheduled on August 24. • In the previous Lok Sabha, a committee on
• The Union Public Service Commission is yet security in Parliament complex, headed by
to clear the air on whether it has accepted the then Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, was set
government’s view that the English up in the aftermath of the pepper spray
comprehension skill component of CSAT — attack inside Lok Sabha by a Congress MP
that sparked massive outrage.
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57 || Year Book 2015

• This committee had examined security- scenario has been a monumental change with
related matters, which also included ways to the emergence of several new paradigms like
prevent bringing of dangerous and life- rights based approach to elementary
threatening material into the chamber of the education, the endeavour to extend
House by the Members of Parliament universalization to secondary education,
themselves.. reshape the higher education scenario and its
impact on the innovation environment and
SC Restrains Haryana
providing an impetus to skill development
SGMC from taking control of Gurdwaras
through vocational education.
• The Supreme Court restrained the Haryana
India’s first moored
Sikh Gurdwaras Management Committee
(HSGMC) from taking control of 51 of the Observatory deployed in Arctic
52 Gurdwaras in the State. • Country’s first multi-sensor moored
• The bench, hearing a writ petition observatory IndARC was successfully
questioning the constitutional validity of the deployed in Kongsfjorden Fjord of the Arctic
law enacted by Haryana government directed roughly halfway between North Pole and
that status quo be maintained in respect of Norway.
other Gurdwaras. • This observatory, designed and developed by
• The Bench also directed the SGPC and ESSO-NIOT and ESSO-NCAOR with
HSGMC to open separate bank accounts ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean
with regard to the Gurdwaras under their Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad,
management and possession and deposit all was deployed from the Norwegian Polar
the offerings in that account. Institute’s research vessel R.V. Lance.
• A team of scientists from the Earth System
HRD to bring new education policy
Science Organisation-National Institute of
• Government is formulating a new Education Ocean Technology (ESSO-NIOT) Chennai
Policy aimed at meeting the challenges posed and ESSO-National Centre for Antartic and
by lack of quality, research and innovation in Ocean Research (NCAOR) termed the same
educational institutions. as a milestone in India’s scientific endeavours
• Education being a subject in the Concurrent in the Arctic region.
List of 7th Schedule of the Constitution, the
Centre constitutes committee to
responsibility of education lies primarily with
look into changes in Lokpal rules
the State Governments.
• However, all States will be advised to develop • A committee under the chairmanship of the
syllabi and Text Books keeping in view the Attorney General (AG) has been formed by
New Education Policy, taking into the Centre to look into the amendments in
consideration State specific concerns. Lokpal search panel rules, which were
notified by the last United Progressive
• The National Policy on Education (NPE)
Alliance (UPA) government.
1986, as amended in 1992, has been the
guiding document for the policies of the • The search panel is mandated to recommend
Central Government in the education sector. names for appointment of chairperson and
members of the Lokpal. This panel has faced
• In the last twenty years, the education
some objection in the past, the search panel

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58 || Year Book 2015

has to choose these persons from among the • The Survey of India, India’s national survey
panel provided by the Department of and mapping organisation under the
Personnel and Training (DoPT). Department of Science and Technology, is
• As per the existing rules, an eight-member the complainant in the case. After initial
search panel is tasked to draw up a panel of probe by the Delhi Police, the case was
persons for consideration by the selection handed over to the CBI as the investigation
committee led by the Prime Minister for involved a company which is based in the
appointment of chairperson and members of US.
the Lokpal. • Google had not taken permission from SoI
• The government is likely to empower the before organising a mapping competition in
search committee to also include people from February-March 2013 in which they asked
outside the list to be provided by the DoPT citizens to map their neighbourhoods,
for consideration by the selection committee. especially details related to hospitals and
restaurants.
SC to examine whether two life sentences can
• As per the National Map Policy 2005, “the
be imposed for Repeated Murders
responsibility for producing, maintaining and
• The Supreme Court decided to examine an disseminating the topographic map database
important question of law whether the trial of the whole country, which is the foundation
court or the High Court can impose two life of all spatial data, vests with the Survey of
sentences on an accused for repeated India”.
murders. • It was alleged that Google India had
• In this case the accused was initially awarded launched a nationwide contest and people
life imprisonment for murder committed in might have passed on maps and other key
1994. Even as he was undergoing the details of strategic installations located in
sentence, he committed another murder other cities and states to the U.S. company,
when on parole for a brief period. He was the sources added.
again sentenced to undergo life term • For SoI, it was clarified that the company
consecutively after the completion of first life never took any permission before
sentence. undertaking the mapping exercise, and from
• Although under Section 427 (2) of Criminal national security point of view, civil and
Procedure Code “When a person already military Vital Areas, Vital Points (VPs)
undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for cannot be shown in the map/data published
life is sentenced on a subsequent conviction in public domain
to imprisonment for a term or imprisonment
for life, the subsequent sentence shall run Women’s quota Bill
concurrently with such previous sentence”. lapses due to Lack of Consensus

Google ‘polluted Internet’ with classified • Dashing the hopes of women and all other
sections who espoused the cause, the
material: Survey of India
Women’s Reservation Bill has lapsed. After
• Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao being passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, the
has alleged that the Internet giant did not Bill, which provides for 33 per cent
refrain from mentioning classified sites even reservation for women in Parliament and
after having been asked not to do so. Legislative Assemblies, was sent to the Lok
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59 || Year Book 2015

Sabha for approval, but did not see the light • The object of constituting the Commission
of the day for lack of political consensus and is to enable participation of judiciary,
will. executive and eminent persons and will
• Article 107 (5) of the Constitution states: A ensure greater transparency, accountability
Bill which is pending in the House of People and objectivity in the appointment of judges
or which having being passed by the House to higher judiciary.
of the People is pending in the Council of • On the recommendations of the
States shall, subject to provisions of Article Commission, the President will appoint the
108 (joint sitting of both the Houses), lapse High Court and Supreme Court judges.
on a dissolution of the House of People. However, if for some reason, the President
• The Bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha requests the Commission to reconsider
after unprecedented pandemo-nium leaving certain recommendations and the
the Chairman with no option but to suspend recommendation is reiterated the President is
seven members of the RJD and the bound to make the appointment.
Samajwadi Party who were adamant on • The Bill mandates the Commission to make
stalling it at any cost. regulations specifying the criteria of
• It would now be an uphill task for the NDA suitability with respect to the appointment
to take up the initiative particularly as it is of Judges of High Courts and Supreme
woefully short of majority in the Rajya Sabha Court, the procedure and conditions for
for passage of a controversial constitutional selection and procedure for transfer of judges
amendment Bill. from one High Court to another.
Six-member National Judicial Commission to Bezbaruah committee suggests
Select Judges for Higher Courts Separate law to protect northeast people
• The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, • A separate law with specific rovisions to
2014 passed in the Lok Sabha provides for protect people from the northeast living in
setting up of a six-member National Judicial different parts of the country along with
Commission to select and recommend judges amendment of sections of IPC has been
to the High Courts and Supreme Court. suggested by M P Bezbaruah committee that
• The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, was set up after increased attacks on citizens
2014 and the ‘National Judicial from the region.
Appointments Commission Bill’ seek to give • Committee had recommended a new law
constitutional status to the NJC, comprising based on an observation by Delhi High
the Chief Justice of India (Chairperson); two Court which said one person from a State
other senior-most judges of the Supreme must not be discriminated in another State.
Court; the Union Law Minister and two • The Bezbaruah Committee was set up after
eminent persons to be nominated by the the death of Nido Tania, 20, following an
Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of altercation with shopkeepers and others at
Opposition of the Lok Sabha. One of the the Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi in January.
eminent persons shall be nominated from Last week, another youth from Manipur,
amongst the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Akha Salouni (29), was killed after he was
Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities allegedly beaten by a group of five men in a
or women. suspected case of road rage in Kotla
Mubarakpur in South Delhi.
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60 || Year Book 2015

Government mulls as an “incentive” for High Court judges to


Amendments to anti-Dowry Law leave the comfort of their hometowns and
come to New Delhi. This consideration is no
• Keeping in view the rising number of
longer relevant, the note says. The retirement
complaints regarding the misuse of anti-
age of High Court judges is 62. Elevation to
dowry law, the Centre is mulling to introduce
the Supreme Court guarantees them an
penal provisions in the Act that will ensure
additional three-year tenure.
punishment or penalty to those who make
false charges. • It recommends that the Chief Justice of India
should get a fixed tenure of two years in case
• Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had
their tenure as CJI is less than two years. This
directed the State governments to instruct
step should be implemented from August 26,
police “not to automatically arrest when a
2022 after the junior-most judge currently
case under Section 498A of IPC (dowry
serving in the Supreme Court, and who is
harassment) is registered but to satisfy
slated to be CJI, retires.
themselves about the necessity for arrest
under the parameters laid down flowing from • The note says the JAC should be a seven-
Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code.” member body with the CJI as chairperson,
and three Supreme Court judges.
• The Apex court had expressed concern over
Incidentally, the note has the Law Minister
the misuse of the anti-dowry law by
as the sole representative from the
“disgruntled” wives against her husband and
government side “to ensure that the executive
in-laws and noted that the Act was being
has a meaningful voice”.
increasingly used to harass in-laws.
• The amendments may include widening the Batra’s Panel to Indianise’Education
definition of ‘dowry’ by changing the words • In a move parallel to the new government’s
‘in connection with marriage’ to ‘given before reported decision to set up a commission on
the marriage, at the time of marriage and at educational reforms, the controversial
any time after the marriage’. teacher-turned-activist Dinanath Batra
• Notifying the list of gifts exchanged during decided to form a “non-governmental”
the wedding may also be made mandatory commission to “Indianise” education.
and failure to do so could invite heavy • The Non-Gov ernmental Education
penalties including a three-year jail term not Commission (NGEC) will have 31 members,
only to the bride and the groom but also to including Mr. Batra.
their parents. • Some of the courses recommended under
Law Commission these models have already been introduced in
Recommends fixed Tenure for CJI a few universities, he said. The Jalandhar-
based Punjab Technical University, Mr. Batra
• A.P. Shah has recommended, Same said, had included Vedic Mathematics, Value
retirement age of 65 for Supreme Court and Education and Integral Humanism.
High Court judges; a “cooling-off period” for
judges after retirement; and a fixed tenure for First push to inland waterways on cards
Chief Justice of India. • Government will give a decisive push to
• Justice Shah reasons that the retirement age make the Ganga-Hooghly waterway
of Supreme Court judges was increased to 65 navigable for freight movement by tying up

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61 || Year Book 2015

for a World Bank loan that could be as much with the approval of the Joint Secretary
as $1 billion. concerned of the administrative ministry.
• Developing inland waterways is a key agenda • The new guidelines will apply to those cases
for the National Democratic Alliance where even three years after the issue of the
Government as it pushes for decongesting industrial licence, the licence holder has not
communication bottlenecks and opening up commenced production. The renewals would
options for high volume freight. be allowed for a period of two years.
• These barrages will be part of the • The Press Note also clarified the
Government’s recent announcement of a preconditions for the extensions. These
series of barrages on the Ganga from include: Land should have been acquired,
Allahabad to Haldia which will facilitate either under ownership or on lease for a
movement of larger vessels. The plan has minimum period of 30 years and the orders
drawn criticism from environmentalists who for plant and machinery for the project
have highlighted the dangers of should have been placed. Certificates from an
sedimentation and the decline of fisheries. appropriate local body such as the Municipal
• Government believes that river transportation Corporation stating construction on the
is the cheapest available option and should project has commenced will also be required.
be maximised to boost economic growth. Centre to sort out GST compensation
Already barges have begun supplying
• Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre
imported coal to Farakka super thermal
would sort out compensation issues with
power plant in the absence of land based
States to ensure early roll-out of Goods and
transportation alternatives.
Service Tax (GST), a new indirect tax regime
• The plan for the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly that will subsume various levies
stretch, which the Government is prioritising,
• After meeting State finance ministers, he said
envisages a large number of additions such there was a broad consensus on
as navigation aids along the entire 1,600-km- implementing the GST regime, and efforts
stretch and night navigation between Tribeni would be made to sort out the pending
and Farakka, a GPS system and repair issues, especially with regard to compensation
facilities along the route. for loss of revenue.
Central govt. extends
Seven New Dwarf Galaxies Discovered
Validity of Industrial Licences
• Astronomers have used a new type of
• The Modi Government, announced its first telescope made by stitching together
step towards greater ease of doing business by telephoto lenses to discover seven new dwarf
addressing the industry’s demand on the galaxies.
simplification of the process for the
• Their Dragonfly Telephoto Array uses eight
extensions of industrial licences.
telephoto lenses with special coatings that
• In a Press Note, the government extended the suppress internally scattered light, This makes
period of validity of industrial licences from the telescope uniquely adept at detecting the
two years to three years and relaxed the very diffuse, low surface brightness.
requirement for companies to have to go
• The previously unseen galaxies may yield
back to the Licensing Committee for the
important insights into dark matter and
extensions. The extensions will now be done
galaxy evolution
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62 || Year Book 2015

• These are the same kind of lenses that are operations in Bay of Bengal and areas beyond
used in sporting events like the World Cup. it.
INS Kamorta handed over to • The spate of accidents in the Navy resulted
Navy and Navy gets its largest destroyer in the resignation of former Navy Chief
Admiral D.K. Joshi, who took moral
• INS Kamorta, the first in series of anti- responsibility for the accidents.
submarine corvettes indigenously built by
Kolkata based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Parliament passes bill on Polavaram project
Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), was handed over to • Parliament on Monday passed a bill to
Indian Navy. facilitate transfer of 205 villages spread across
• It is first Indian Naval warship ever built in seven mandals in the newly formed State of
the country with almost 90 per cent of Telangana to the residual state of Andhra
indigenous content. Pradesh for the multi-purpose Polavaram
• The Indian Navy has got its largest-ever irrigation project.
destroyer after the addition of the 163 metre- • The bill, approved by Lok Sabha last week,
long vessel Kolkata (D63). was opposed by members of the House from
• Kolkata (D63) is India’s first domestically Telangana and the States of Odisha and
built guided missile destroyer to feature a Chattisgarh on the plea that it would cause
Western-style air search radar and stealth unwarranted displacement of 52 thousand
technology. scheduled caste families from the three States.
• Kolkata has an all-round capability against • The project is a difficult project to
enemy submarines, surface warships, anti- implement as it involves massive
ship missiles and fighter aircraft. resettlement. It is on par with Sardar Sarovar
• It incorporates modern weapons and sensors Dam (in Gujarat) and Indira Sagar project
having advanced information warfare suite, in Madhya Pradesh.
an auxiliary control system with sophisticated SC Constitution Bench to decide on ‘living
power distribution architecture and modular will’ to die with dignity
crew quarters.
• A five-judge Constitution Bench of the
Warship damaged Supreme Court will take up for consideration
in mishap, Navy orders probe a petition seeking to declare the execution of
• INS Kuthar, a Khukri class corvette, suffered a ‘living will’ of persons, suffering from
damage while entering the harbour of a naval chronic terminal diseases and likely to go into
base in the Andamans. a permanent vegetative state, to refuse
• It is the 15th reported mishap involving naval treatment to pave way for their death.
personnel and assets after the sinking of the • Petition was filled by NGO Common Cause.
Russian-origin submarine INS • AG Mr. Rohatgi said the issue had lot of
Sindhurakshak in August last year in which legal, social and moral aspects concerning the
all the 18 personnel on board were killed. humanity as a whole. He said right to die
• INS Kuthar is understood to be part of the merely because of pain and suffering would
fleet of the Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern not be in the interest of society as it was
Naval Command, which is in-charge of against public policy.

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63 || Year Book 2015

• Ruling in ‘Aruna Shanbaug’s case’ decided spouses as well. The employees’ need to
that passive euthanasia is wrong. declare motor vehicles, aircraft, yachts or
• In November 2012 the Law Commission ships, gold and silver jewellery and bullion
had submitted a report relating to passive possessed by them, their spouses and
euthanasia and ‘living will’. dependent children, according to the form.
• The employees also to have to give details of
Govt to extend
their immovable properties along with
Ganga action plan to major rivers statement of debts and other liabilities on
• The government on Thursday said that based first appointment or as on March 31 of every
on the outcome of the action plan on Ganga, financial year.
it may extend it to other major rivers of the
country. Government promises
• Central assistance is being provided to states broadband facility in every village
under two schemes — Repair, Renovation • The Centre on Monday promised to extend
and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies and broadband facility to every village in the
Flood Management Programme (FMP) country with the active cooperation of State
during 12th Plan. governments.
• Under the RRR scheme, a total of 3341 • More than 1.34 lakh internet enabled centres
water bodies were taken up for restoration in have been set up in rural areas to promote
12 states, out of which 2033 water bodies and develop information technology in rural
have been completed till date. Under the areas of the country.
FMP, a total of 420 workers were approved • Problem of unavailability of bandwidth and
during XI Plan out of which 252 works were regional language barrier have impeded thee-
completed. governance initiatives in India, government
said availability of bandwidth to important
Central government officials to declare assets
places will be done on priority basis.
under new Lokpal rules
• Mobile web in regional languages also has
• The Union government has notified rules on many challenges such as character encoding,
declaration of assets and liabilities of its bandwidth cost, presentation issues, device
employees under the Lokpal Act. limitations, lack of standardisation, fonts,
• Though system of declaration of assets and backward compatibility with legacy devices,
liabilities has been in vogue, the Lokpal Act rendering issues, lack of availability for all
seeks to systematise it with additional characters, issue of multiple scripts,
information. standardization of glyph support, syllable
• As per the new rules notified by the composition and logic dependency on
government, its employees have to file returns implementation level of handset
with details on cash in hand, bank deposits, manufacturer.
investment in bonds, debentures, shares and
units in companies or mutual funds, Shipping firms
insurance policies, provident fund, personal needn’t renew licences every year
loans and advance given to a person or any • The Ministry of Shipping has decided to
entity, among others. reduce paper work by scrapping the
• The returns should give information about requirement of annual renewal of licenses for

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64 || Year Book 2015

Indian ships and any other vessel charted by Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in
an Indian citizen or company. Geneva, if it does not simultaneously endorse
• Such licences will now be issued with a life- its concerns about food subsidies to feed its
time fee instead of annual fee but the licence poor.
will be co-terminus with the certificate of • Most developed countries are pressuring
Registry of the Ship. India to drop its demand on food subsidy
• The decision also provides for all the five and endorse only the protocol for trade
Registrars of Ships at Mumbai, Chennai, facilitation agreed upon December by WTO
Kolkata, Goa and Cochin to issue these members in Bali last year, If India drops its
licenses under the provisions of the Merchant demand, it risks facing legal action by WTO
Shipping Act,1958. members in case its food subsidy exceeds 10
per cent of the total production value of a
Whistleblowers to Get Security from Govt. basic agricultural commodity.
• Whistleblow ers or people exposing • New Delhi has gained the support of several
corruption can get security from the developing countries, small and big alike,
government, The government has authorised which might find themselves in a similar
Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) of quandary.
ministries or departments of the Central • However, the Geneva meet won’t be the last
G overnment as designated authority to word on the subject because even if there is
receive any written complaint or disclosure no unanimity on Thursday, there is still a
on any allegation of corruption or misuse of week left for the deadline for signing the
office in respect of any employee working trade facilitation protocol to end.
under them.
• If the designated authority in the ministries Include third gender
or departments, either on the application of Children in schools: HRD Ministry
the complainant, or on the basis of the • The Union Human Resource Development
information gathered, is of the opinion that (HRD) Ministry has advised all States and
the complainant needs protection, the Union Territories (UTs), barring Jammu and
designated authority shall take up the matter Kashmir, to take appropriate action for the
with the Central Vigilance Commission for inclusion of “third gender’’ children among
issuing appropriate directions to the socially and educationally backward classes
authorities concerned. for admission in educational institutions
• The Commission, after receipt of such under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
reference from the designated authority, takes • Supreme Court ordered to treat and grant
up the matter with the Ministry of Home legal recognition to the “third gender”. The
Affairs, the nodal agency, to undertake the Court had directed the Centre and States to
responsibility of providing security cover to take steps to treat transgenders as socially and
the genuine whistleblowers. educationally backward classes and extend
reservation for admission in educational
India keen on WTO institutions and for public appointments.
Endorsement on food subsidy • The affirmative action provided for
• India is unlikely to allow ratification of a transgenders under the SSA is aimed at
trade facilitation protocol at a crucial World pushing up their literacy levels, which is

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65 || Year Book 2015

around 44 per cent as opposed to the interactive pedagogical practices to help


national average of 74 per cent as recorded teachers connect to the world outside their
in the 2011 Census. classroom.
Govt. mulls use of DoPT launches e-service
radiation tech to preserve vegetables Record system for govt. employees
• The government proposes to adopt radiation • With the objective to promote a paperless
technology developed by the Bhabha Atomic regime and better human resource
Research Centre (BARC) for improving the management, the Department of Personnel
shelf-life of fruits and vegetables especially and Training (DoPT) has launched an e-
onions, potatoes and tomatoes to address the service record book portal for government
issue of supply side shortage that often results employees.
in price rise. • Earlier documented in paper files, the service
• Radioactive technology had been available in record provides information on various
the country for some time and already in use portfolios and posts held by a particular
in Maharashtra, though on a small scale, government employee.
Safety concerns should be taken care of as • In future, it would also prove to be of great
existing norms do not permit radiation above assistance in an efficient management of
a permissible limit. human resource. The system can facilitate
• Food irradiation is a physical process in work allocation based on the skills and
which food and farm commodities, in pre- experiences of the employees under
packed form or in bulk, are exposed to consideration for a particular post or
controlled radiation energy to prevent department.
sprouting, delay ripening, kill insects, pests, • The DoPT has also launched a Basic
pathogenic and spoilage micro-organisms. Leadership Skills Module for Central
President inaugurates Secretariat Services officers at the Institute of
Secretariat Training and Management. The
Museum at Rashtrapati Bhavan
module is expected to equip civil servants
• President Pranab Mukherjee, who completed with the skills that help them function
two years in office, inaugurated a museum efficiently in a complex and challenging
with fibre-glass statues of former Presidents environment.
within the Rashtrapati Bhavan. • A Learning Resource Centre has also been set
• The Museum has an interactive zone where up with a mandate to identify and adopt the
visitors can learn more about former leading national and international practices
Presidents and see audio-video clippings in the field of training techniques and
related to them. technologies to strengthen the Trainers
• The President also inaugurated a ‘Knowledge Development Programme, to develop a cadre
Hub’ in the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya of high quality trainers.
Vidyalaya within the Rashtrapati Bhavan and
Apple Festival starts in Himachal Pradesh
16 serviced apartments. The ‘Knowledge
Hub’ will be a space for innovative teaching • The Himachal Pradesh State Tourism
and learning practices and use collaborative, Department has launched an Apple Festival

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66 || Year Book 2015

to showcase and promote locally produced POSCO steel plant, and Annadaneshwara
apples and apple made products among Mahashiva yogi Math seer, Abhinava
tourist. Annadaneshwara Swami, have extended
• The Tourism Departments also plans to take support to the ‘Save Kappatagudda’
the tourists to the apple orchards itself so that campaign.
they may have a more hands-on experience SC Cancelled Allocation of 214 Coal Blocks
of the plucking, packaging and marketing
processes involved. The department also • In an order with far-reaching implications,
conducted a competition for farmers growing the Supreme Court cancelled all but four of
exotic varieties of apples. Various local hotels the 218 coal block allocations declared
and food chains have also set up stalls selling arbitrary and illegal by it in an August 25
apple based products. judgment.
• The decision comes as a windfall for the
The ‘Save Kappatagudda’ Campaign government as the court has ordered the
• The ‘Save Kappatagudda’ campaign, to urge owners of the cancelled coal blocks to cough
the State government not to drop the plans up Rs. 295 as compensation for every tone
to declare Kappatagudda hill ranges in Gadag of coal they extracted illegally, to make up
district a wildlife sanctuary, was launched. for the loss to the exchequer.
• Environmental activists, religious leaders, • The levy was calculated with reference to the
farmers, academics, students, wildlife experts, figures of loss arrived at by the Comptroller
residents of villages surrounding and Auditor General.
Kappatagudda and others, led by the former • The government is expected to get Rs. 8,000-
chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force 10,000 crore this way. The government is
Anant Hegde Ashisar and Nandiveri Math also free to auction the cancelled blocks.
seer Sri Shivakumara Swami, conducted a
meeting near the Deputy Commissioner’s National Tax Tribunal
office. Act is Unconstitutional: SC
• Mr. Ashisar said the government had • The Supreme Court struck down the
dropped declaring Kappatagudda a wildlife National Tax Tribunal Act, holding it
sanctuary citing the livelihood of the poor. unconstitutional.
However, the wildlife sanctuary status for the • A Constitutional Bench of the apex court,
region would not affect the livelihood of the headed by Chief Justice (then) R.M. Lodha,
people as there was no proposal either to said that Parliament could not take away the
vacate village residents or ban farming powers of the judiciary and rest them in a
activities. It will only prevent mining tribunal which is not a court in its
activities. If it is not declared a wildlife characteristic.
sanctuary, it will provide scope for the • Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman in a separate
exploitation of the mineral deposits and harm but concurring judgment, describing the
the ecology, he explained. tribunal as unconstitutional and in breach of
• Mr. Ashisar said the seer of Gadag separation of powers between different organs
Tontadarya Math, Siddhalinga Swami, who of the state, said that the substantial question
led the agitation against setting up the of law can only be decided by the higher

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67 || Year Book 2015

judiciary — the Supreme Court and the high of deaths to a single digit by 2030 from the
courts. current 29 deaths per 1,000 live births.
NGT gave order to MoEF for the • The ‘India Newborn Action Plan (INAP),’
Demarcation of Eco-Sensitive area inaugurated by Union Health Minister Harsh
Vardhan, is the first step towards arresting
• The Ministry of Environment and Forests infant deaths.
(MoEF) submitted a confusing affidavit to • Asserting that India can reduce the deaths
the National Green Tribunal saying State through “simple, cost-effective interventions”
governments in the Western Ghats region before and immediately after delivery, Dr.
may, after undertaking demarcation of eco Vardhan said of the 2.8 million who die at
sensitive areas (ESA) by physical verification, birth worldwide, India contributes seven
propose the exclusion/inclusion of certain lakh.
areas in the draft notification dated March • The programme will be implemented under
10, 2014. the existing Reproductive, Maternal, Child
• This draft notification issued by MoEF was Health and Adolescents Plus (RMNCHA+)
based on the ESA demarcated by the high- framework.
level working group (HLWG) headed by K.
Kasturirangan. To Wipe out Kala Azar
• Justice Swatanter Kumar of the NGT asked • The Gates Foundation is now planning to
the counsel for the Ministry to take direction work with the new Indian government to
from secretary or additional secretary on the wipe out kala azar.
question of demarcating ESAs. He said that • The foundation’s co-chairs, Melinda Gates
if Kerala had completed its demarcation of and her husband, former Microsoft co-
ESAs, then let it be finalized. founder and CEO Bill Gates, are in India to
SC Lays Down Guidelines for Police meet the new government, including Prime
Encounters Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet
colleagues.
• The Supreme Court laid down stringent • The second largest parasitic killer in the
guidelines for police encounters to prevent world after malaria, kala azar is concentrated
fake encounter killings by police. in 52 districts in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh,
• The top court said every intelligence input Jharkhand and West Bengal.
about armed terrorist movement must be • India officially reported fewer than 5,000
recorded in writing, without disclosing vital kala azar cases in 2011 and fewer than 100
information, by the police party before deaths due to the disease, according to the
proceeding to nab them. World Health Organisation.
• If the encounter results in death of any one, • However, the international health
the police must immediately register an FIR community believes these to be gross
and furnish a copy to the court having underestimation; while India reported just
jurisdiction over the area. over 1,000 malaria deaths in 2011, medical
India Newborn Action Plan journal Lancet placed the estimate 40 times
higher.
• The Centre launched a programme to reduce
infant mortality and bring down the number

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68 || Year Book 2015

One Legislation for All Central Universities Committee.


• To introduce one legislation for all central • In the affidavit the government has retained
universities, the Human Resource the Gujarat Ecological Education and
Development Ministry has circulated the Research (GEER) Foundation and added
draft bill to all such varsities, asking them to four NGOs — World Wildlife Fund for
revert with suggestions within three weeks. Nature-India, New Delhi, Aranyak,
• There are currently 40 central universities Guwahati, Nature Conservation Society,
Jharkhand and the Bombay Natural History
under the Ministry, of which 16 were created
Society, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
in 2009 under one Act, while the rest are
governed by separate Acts of Parliament. Singrauli to be Developed as Energy City
• The draft bill is based on recommendations • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj
of the A M Pathan committee and has been Singh Chouhan has said that Singrauli will
criticised for compromising the autonomy of be developed as ‘energy city’ of the State.
these universities.
• “Singrauli will be developed as energy city of
Data Glitches the state,” Mr. Chouhan announced while
Stall Rollout of Food Security Act launching development works worth Rs. 161
crore in the city during the Deendayal
• Technological and procedural delays in
Anyodaya Mela.
identifying the intended beneficiaries of the
National Food Security Act (NFSA) has seen • Apart from other measures, an industrial area
the agencies involved — the Ministry of will also be developed for all-round
Rural Development (MoRD), the Electronics development of the district.
Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), the • He said Rs. 100 crore will be spent on
nodal agency to provide enumeration devices infrastructure development in Singrauli
and data entry operators, and state officials during five years.
— indulge in a blame game. • It will be connected with air and rail facilities.
• For the Socio-Economic Caste Census survey, A Central School will also be established in
proposed as the basis of the identification the city for providing education facilities to
process, enumerators used scanned images of the wards of those working in the energy city,
handwritten data from the National he said.
Population Register (NPR) to verify • He also provided benefits under various
household members’ basic details. welfare schemes totalling Rs. one crore to
• They were accompanied by data entry 516 beneficiaries.
operators (DEOs) who entered the responses 3 p.c. Quota for
into a tablet computer. Disabled Covers All Employees’
National Board for Wildlife Reconstituted • The Supreme Court clarified that the three
• The Ministry of Environment and Forests per cent reservation for disabled persons in
has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court government jobs covered all classes of
reconstituting the National Board for employees, including appointments and
Wildlife (NBWL) after the apex court had promotions to the Indian Administrative
earlier stayed all the decisions of the standing Services.

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69 || Year Book 2015

• Although 19 years had passed since the Bihar Tops in Growth: CSO
passage of the Persons with Disabilities • Bihar is the fastest growing State while Tamil
(Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights Nadu is the worst performer, the latest data
and Full Participation) Act of 1995, the released by the Central Statistics Office
disabled were struggling for their rights, a (CSO) has revealed.
Bench headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha • Bihar’s Gross State Domestic Product
said. (GSDP) grew 10.73 per cent during 2012-
Himachal Student Makes Bullet Train Model 13 — the only State that clocked a double-
digit growth rate during the year.
• A Himachal Pradesh student has created a
• The growth rate was 10.29 per cent in 2011-
bullet train model that has been selected for
12 and 15.03 per cent in 2010-11.
a national—level exhibition, a school official
said. • Tamil Nadu recorded the slowest growth rate
3.39 percent slower than the national average
• Shilpa, a class 10 student in Government
of 4.5 per cent in 2012-13.
Senior Secondary School at Sudhial near
• The second-best performing State is Madhya
Nadaun in Hamirpur district, has prepared
Pradesh, which grew at 9.89 per cent. Delhi
the bullet train model that is based on the
is third with a growth rate of 9.33 per cent.
magnetic repulsion effect of similar poles of
magnets. • The CSO-verified growth rate for 2012-13,
• The model, declared the best in the state— how ever, is lower than that reported by
level science exhibition, will now be displayed Bihar’s Statistics Directorate. The State
at the national—level Innovation in Science government had reported a growth rate of
Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) 15.05 per cent.
exhibition to be held in New Delhi Oct 6— • All major industrial States lag behind Bihar.
8, school principal Om Prakash said. Growing at 7.96 per cent, Gujarat is ranked
• INSPIRE is a programme of the department sixth and Maharashtra ninth with 6.18 per
of science and technology of the Union cent.
Government to sharpen young minds in • As the growth rate for the bulk of the States
science. is higher than the national GDP, the
economic slowdown is not reflected in the
Right to Sell Liquor no Fundamental Right data. Normally, the States’ GDP adds up to
• The Kerala government submitted before a about 90 per cent of the national GDP. The
Bench of the Supreme Court that the right difference is the output of the sectors that do
to sell liquor was not a fundamental right. not belong to any State such as the Bombay
• Government counsel Kapil Sibal, arguing High.
against a petition challenging the decision to • Over the years, discrepancies have been
close 730 bars in the State, said the decision increasing between the GSDP data in the
to close the bars was a policy decision. Bar States’ reports and the figures that finally
licences could be cancelled any time. come out after discussions with the CSO and
• In an urgent mentioning to stop the State validation.
from enforcing the policy, a battery of senior IPR policy soon, says Minister
counsel appearing for the bar owners termed
the policy “discriminatory.” • Following complaints raised by US

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70 || Year Book 2015

companies on India’s intellectual property and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar


rights (IPR) regime, the Modi Government announced that a Special Rhino Protection
has decided to come out with a policy Force of local youth would be raised to check
framework on by early 2015. poaching in the Kaziranga National Park
• It has also at decided to disallow foreign (KNP) and other rhino-populated areas in
direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Assam.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala • “There will be zero tolerance towards rhino
Sitharaman said . poaching and our efforts would be to bring
• The Minister, however, added that at the down the number of rhino poaching
moment there was no move to reverse the incidents to zero,” he said.
notification by the UPA government to open • Addressing a press conference after two-day
up the multi-brand retail sector, allowing up visit to the national park, the Minister
to 51 per cent FDI. announced that his Ministry would request
the CBI to expand the scope of its ongoing
States free to add official language: SC
probe into rhino poaching in the KNP by
• Asserting people’s right to linguistic freedom, including more cases and fast-track it.
the Supreme Court has held that there is no • A comprehensive plan would be undertaken
bar against a State Legislature declaring a to ensure free movement of park animals
language used in the State as an official through the six animal corridors across the
language for the convenience of its citizens.
National Highway 37 passing through the
• This means that a widely-used language in a world heritage site.
State, once declared an official language by
the State Legislature, would find a place in Government of
official communications, advertisements and India can print Re 1 note: Law Ministry
even signposts. • Putting to rest the debate on printing of one
• A Constitution Bench headed by Chief rupee notes, the Law Ministry has opined
Justice of India R.M. Lodha and comprising that the Government of India has all the
Justices Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, powers to print currency notes of this
Kurian Joseph and S.A. Bobde passed the denomination.
order on a petition by U.P. Hindi Sahitya • While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has
Sammelan against the 1989 amendment to the authority to issue bank notes of
the Uttar Pradesh Official Language Act,
denominational values of Rs. 2, Rs. 5, Rs. 10,
1951. Rs. 20, Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 500, Rs. 1,000,
• The U.P. Legislature had introduced Urdu as Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000, the one rupee
the second official language of the State, note was printed and issued by the central
besides Hindi, “in the interest of the Urdu- government.
speaking people”.
• The Government of India also has the sole
• The Bench upheld the 1989 amendment and right to mint coins of all denominations.
declared Urdu as the State’s “second official • However, since the RBI was of the view that
language.” with the repeal of Section 2 of the Currency
Zero tolerance on rhino poaching’ Ordinance, the Government of India is not
empowered to issue note of denominational
• Union Minister for Environment, Forests

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71 || Year Book 2015

value of one rupee, the law ministry opinion these denominations have been coinised.
was taken. However, such notes issued earlier are still in
• The Law Ministry in its opinion stated that circulation.
the Coinage Act of 2011, which consolidates
India violating privacy of Internet users: report
the laws relating to coinage and the mints,
does not bar the Government of India from • A report launched by the Software Freedom
printing one rupee notes. Law Centre (SFLC) titled ‘India’s
• Section 4 of the Act provides that the central Surveillance State’at the Internet Governance
government may authorise minting of coin Forum, currently underway in Istanbul, said
of denomination not higher than Rs. 1,000, the Indian state is violating the privacy of its
it said, adding that the definition of coin in citizens through use of Internet monitoring
the Act makes it clear that Government of systems.
India one rupee note is included in the • The Report further revealed that an
definition of coin. unknown number of Lawful Interception
• The Act defines a coin as “made of any metal and Monitoring (LIM) systems, tasked with
or any other material stamped by the the collection and analysis of citizens’
G ov ernment or any other authority communications data and meta-data, are
empowered by the Government in this behalf already installed in India’s communication
and which is a legal tender including networks.
commemorative coin and Government of
Lokpal search panel gets freedom of choice
India one rupee note,” the ministry said in
its opinion.”Further, apart from the metal, • The Department of Personnel and Training
the coin may be made of any other material,” has notified amendments giving autonomy to
it said. the Lokpal search committee to shortlist and
• The ministry said while repealing the recommend names independently for
Currency Ordinance, 1940, “necessary selection of Chairman and members of the
provisions for inclusion of Government of anti-corruption body.
India one rupee note within the meaning of • The amendments act as a course correction
‘Coin’ have been consciously incorporated in after the former Supreme Court judge Justice
the Coinage Act, 2011. Further, the RBI, as K.T. Thomas opted out from heading the
per Section 24(1) of the RBI Act, 1934, is search committee in March 2014, citing lack
not empow ered to issue bank note of of autonomy.
denomination of value of one rupee.” • Eminent jurist Fali Nariman too had turned
• “Central government is not precluded to down the post of a member of the panel for
issue one rupee Government of India note that reason.
under the Coinage Act, 2011. The • Justice Thomas had objected to the provision
dimension, design, material and standard that the search committee should only
weight of such One Rupee Note have to be shortlist candidates from a list provided by
prescribed by the Central Government in the department.
terms of Section 4 and 5 of the Coinage Act, • The amendment made in Rule 10 of the
2011,” the opinion said. Search Committee Rules removed this
• The printing of notes in the denominations roadblock by omitting the words “from
of Re. 1 and Rs. 2 has been discontinued as among the list of persons provided by the
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72 || Year Book 2015

Central Government in the Department of people, ranked 15th on the Forbes list topped
Personnel and Training.” by Russian President Vladimir Putin who
pipped his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama
Academic activities begin at
for a second year in a row.
Nalanda Univarsity
• The list of 72 most powerful people in the
• Academic activities began at Nalanda world also included the names of Reliance
University at Rajgir, more than eight Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at
centuries after the ancient university was 36th, ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO
destroyed by a medieval ruler. Lakshmi Mittal at 57th and Microsoft’s
• Out of the 15 students enrolled in the Indian-born CEO Satya Nadella at 64th.
university so far, nine attended classes on the
inaugural day in the departments of SC issued notice to
environmental studies and history, the two Health Ministry on rigging in MCI election
subjects which will be taught here in the first • The Supreme Court issued notice to the
session. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and
• The students were welcomed by vice- the Medical Council of India (MCI) on a
chancellor Gopa Sabharwal, who also greeted PIL seeking a CBI investigation into alleged
the teachers and staff to the reborn university rigging in MCI election in 2013.
amidst enthusiasm by those present at the • A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India
occasion. H.L. Dattu also sought the response of Dr.
First Ajmer literature festival Ketan Desai, former president of MCI, to the
PIL filed by NGO People for Better
• The first Ajmer Literature Festival will begin Treatment. The NGO alleged that Dr. Desai
on September 4. had a role in the tainted poll process.
• The three-day festival is being organised by • The petitioner has also sought prosecution of
the Ajmer Literary Society and its aim “is to
all the MCI members involved in the alleged
build a civilised, cultured and sensitive rigging and amendment to Section 3 of the
society for the promotion of art, literature
Indian Medical Council Act.
and culture in the country and the world.”
• To be inaugurated by filmmaker Muzaffar Chennai will host Global
Ali, Mira Ali and Justice (retd.) Dalvir Investors’ Meet (GIM) in May 2015
Bhandari, thinkers, writers, art-lovers and • The Tamil Nadu Government announced
journalists will deliberate on the that the Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) would
contemporary challenges faced by the society be held during May 23-24 next year in
at present. Chennai to showcase the ample endowments
• Conceived by poet Ras Bihari Gaur, the event and boundless potential of the State.
will be the first of its kind in Ajmer and it
• Among the sectors that would be highlighted
will be held in Hindi.
were electronics and electronics hardware,
PM Modi among world’s most powerful textiles, agro and food processing, IT/ITES,
people, ranked 15th: Forbes automobiles and auto components, chemicals
and petrochemicals, engineering and heavy
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his engineering, Infrastructure including roads
debut among the world’s most powerful and minor port development, industrial
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73 || Year Book 2015

parks and SEZs, urban infrastructure and Kailashnathan, Chief Principal Secretary to
renewable energy. the Chief Minister told.
• The government, in the budget for 2014- • The Commission’s term expired on October
2015, set apart Rs. 100 crore for the 31 after 24 extensions. It submitted the first
proposed event. part of its report related to the Sabarmati
Express in 2008, which said that the train
DoPT clarifies on CSE
burning was a “planned conspiracy.”
• The Centre’s decision in February to allow • The same year, after the death of Justice K.G.
two additional attempts to all categories of Shah, retired HC Justice Akshay Mehta was
candidates for the Civil Services Examination appointed to the Commission.
(CSE) with effect from 2014 rendered
infructuous the Group of Ministers’ decision Centre announced
last December to lower the upper age limit Relaxation in FDI rules in construction
for eligibility from CSE 2015. • Giving a significant push to affordable
• While the age limit earlier was 30, 35, 33 housing and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
and 40 years respectively for the unreserved, d ream project, smart cities, the NDA
SC/ST, OBC and the physically challenged government announced relaxation in foreign
categories, consequential changes in the age direct investment (FDI) rules in the
limit due to provision of two additional construction sector.
attempts are 32 years for the unreserved, 37 • The proposal — first made by the UPA
for the SC/ST, 35 for the OBC and 12 government — seeks to reduce the minimum
additional years (30+12 for General, 35+12 built-up area from 50,000 sq. metres to
for SC/ST and 33+12 for OBC) for the 20,000 sq. metres. The minimum capital
physically challenged candidates in each requirement for such projects has also been
category. brought down to $5 million from $10
Nanavati panel million.
submits its report on Gujarat riots • The relaxations are expected to facilitate the
infusion of funds into the debt-burdened
• Twelve years after it was constituted, the sector, thereby, ensuring faster completion of
Nanavati Commission of Enquiry probing projects. The Union Cabinet approved the
the 2002 post-Godhra riots submitted its new limits in a meeting chaired by Prime
final report to Chief Minister Anandiben Minister Narendra Modi.
Patel.
• Justice Nanavati and Commission member NCW wants legalisation of sex work
Justice Akshay Mehta met Ms. Patel at her • The chairperson of the National Commission
residence and handed over the report. Justice for Women (NCW), Lalitha
Nanavati told PTI that the report was over Kumaramangalam, has advocated legalising
2,000 pages, but did not divulge anything sex work to regulate the trade and ensure
further. better living conditions for women engaged
• “The report will be forwarded to the Home in commercial sex work. Legalising the trade,
department. The department will review it she says, will also bring down trafficking in
and place the report before the Assembly,” K. women and lower the incidence of HIV and
other sexually transmitted diseases.
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74 || Year Book 2015

• Ms. Kumaramangalam said she would put healthcare facility.


forth the proposal at the empow ered • In a directive issued to all Chief Medical and
committee meeting of the Cabinet on Health Officers in the State, Mission
November 8. “It [legalisation] is meant to Director, National Health Mission (NHM)
regulate the trade. A vast majority of women Navin Jain has asked them to implement the
in sex trade are trafficked; if it is legalised provisions with immediate effect.
then commercial trafficking can be dealt with • The move may also help Rajasthan achieve
stringently,” she told. the millennium development goal (MDG)
• In the absence of regulation, she said sex targets to bring down IMR from 49 deaths
workers were forced to serve clients in per 1,000 live births at present to 28 deaths
unhygienic and unhealthy conditions and by the end of 2015. Similarly, the under-five
without condoms, which led to the spread of mortality rate that is currently 59 per 1,000
HIV and other STDs. live births at present has to be brought down
Newborns to get free treatment till to 38.
Age one in Rajasthan under JSSY Delhi Declaration pushes for better education
• Extending the scope of the Janani Shishu • Education Ministers and officials of eight
Suraksha Yojana (JSSY) with an aim to bring South Asian countries have resolved to
down the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the collaborate on increased use of information
State, the Rajasthan government has decided technology and improving the quality of
to provide free treatment to newborns till education.
they complete one year. This will include • At the second meeting of Education
diagnostics, medicine and free transportation Ministers of the South Asian Association for
facilities. Regional Cooperation (SAARC),
• The scheme is applicable to all children born representatives of Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
in public health facilities. The decision comes Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and
amidst reports of suspected diphtheria deaths Sri Lanka issued a joint statement titled “The
in Alwar district over the past few days. New Delhi Declaration on Education.”
• As many as six children have reportedly died Human Resource Development Minister
of diphtheria in Gothri village in Smriti Irani chaired the meeting.
Laxmangarh block of Alwar and over a dozen • The priority areas of action decided upon
are being treated for similar symptoms in the include enhancing the learning and
local hospital. development readiness of pre-school children,
• Officials said swab samples have been sent to ensuring education for all, expanding skill
SMS Hospital, Jaipur, to ascertain whether development, facilitating mutual recognition
they are suffering from diphtheria. Health of qualifications and mobility of students and
authorities have launched an immunisation teachers and expanding alternative ways of
campaign in the area where cases have been learning such as open and distance education.
reported. • The Ministers discussed India’s use of
• The JSSY, launched by the United information and communication technology
Progressive Alliance government in 2011, in education, development and sharing of e-
provides free treatment for a mother and her resources, connectivity, e-learning and
newborn for up to one month in a public Massive Open Online Courses.
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• Agencies reported that Mukhtar Ahmed, (GIBNA, 1972) to be 100% government owned, are
Chairman of Pakistan’s Higher Education now allowed to raise capital, keeping in view the
Commission, proposed a SAARC education need for expansion of the business in the rural and
and research network for sharing social sectors, meeting the solvency margin for this
information. purpose and achieving enhanced competitiveness
subject to the Government equity not being less than
Parliament passes Insurance Bill 2015
51% at any point of time.
The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 Further, the amendments to the laws will
was passed by the Lok Sabha on 4th March, 2015 enable the interests of consumers to be better served
and by the Rajya Sabha on 12th March, 2015. The through provisions like those enabling penalties on
passage of the Bill thus paved the way for major intermediaries / insurance companies for misconduct
reform related amendments in the Insurance Act, and disallowing multilevel marketing of insurance
1938, the General Insurance Business products in order to curtail the practice of mis-
(Nationalization) Act, 1972 and the Insurance selling. The amended Law has several provisions for
Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) levying higher penalties ranging from up to Rs.1
Act, 1999. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act Crore to Rs. 25 Crore for various violations
2015 to be so enacted, will seamlessly replace the including mis-selling and misrepresentation by
Insurance Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014, agents / insurance companies. With a view to serve
which came into force on 26th December 2014. the interest of the policy holders better, the period
The amendment Act will remove archaic and during which a policy can be repudiated on any
redundant provisions in the legislations and ground, including mis-statement of facts etc., will
incorporates certain provisions to provide Insurance be confined to three years from the commencement
Regulatory and Development Authority of India of the policy and no policy would be called in
(IRDAI) with the flexibility to discharge its question on any ground after three years.
functions more effectively and efficiently. It also The Act will entrust responsibility of
provides for enhancement of the foreign investment appointing insurance agents to insurers and provides
cap in an Indian Insurance Company from 26% to for IRDAI to regulate their eligibility, qualifications
an explicitly composite limit of 49% with the and other aspects. It enables agents to work more
safeguard of Indian ownership and control. broadly across companies in various business
In addition to the provisions for enhanced categories; with the safeguard that conflict of interest
foreign equity, the amended law will enable capital would not be allowed by IRDAI through suitable
raising through new and innovative instruments regulations. IRDAI is empowered to regulate key
under the regulatory supervision of IRDAI. Greater aspects of Insurance Company operations in areas
availability of capital for the capital intensive like solvency, investments, expenses and commissions
insurance sector would lead to greater distribution and to formulate regulations for payment of
reach to under / un-served areas, more innovative commission and control of mangement expenses.
product formulations to meet diverse insurance It empowers the Authority to regulate the
needs of citizens, efficient service delivery through functions, code of conduct, etc., of surveyors and
improved distribution technology and enhanced loss assessors. It also expands the scope of insurance
customer service standards. intermediaries to include insurance brokers, re-
The four public sector general insurance insurance brokers, insurance consultants, corporate
companies, presently required as per the General agents, third party administrators, surveyors and loss
Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 assessors and such other entities, as may be notified

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76 || Year Book 2015

by the Authority from time to time. Health • Later, briefing mediapersons, he said in his
Insurance: The amendment Act defines ‘health “personal view” the Bill does not need to be
insurance business’ inclusive of travel and personal referred to a Standing Committee as it had
accident cover and discourages non-serious players already gone through the process. He added
by retaining capital requirements for health insurers that the Government was hoping to roll it
at the level of Rs. 100 Crore, thereby paving the way out in April 2016.
for promotion of health insurance as a separate • Flagging key issues of concern, Mr. Jaitley
vertical. said: “Service tax is entirely the Centre’s
Promoting Reinsurance Business in India: The domain now. It is going to be shared with
amended law enables foreign reinsurers to set up States. Places like Maharashtra, from where
branches in India and defines‘re-insurance’ to mean one-third of the national service tax comes,
“the insurance of part of one insurer’s risk by another will benefit.
insurer who accepts the risk for a mutually
acceptable premium”, and thereby excludes the State Cabinet approved draft CRDA Bill
possibility of 100% ceding of risk to a re-insurer, • The State Cabinet approved the draft Capital
which could lead to companies acting as front Regional Development Authority (CRDA)
companies for other insurers. Further, it enables Bill with four changes. The Bill will be tabled
Lloyds and its members to operate in India through in the Assembly on December 19.
setting up of branches for the purpose of reinsurance • Besides giving nod to the changes in CRDA
business or as investors in an Indian Insurance Bill, the meeting chaired by Chief Minister
Company within the 49% cap. N. Chandrababu Naidu also discussed the
Government pushes historic GST tax reform Debt Redemption Scheme and the strategy
to be adopted in the Assembly.
• The Government took the first step towards
• The Cabinet approved transfer of assets and
switching to a Goods and Service Tax (GST)
liabilities of Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-
regime by introducing The Constitution
Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority
(122nd Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha
to the CRDA. The Chief Minister will be
amid demands for referring it to a
chairman of the 14-member CRDA and the
Departmental Standing Committee.
Municipal Administration Minister vice
• Though in favour of GST, Trinamool chairman.
Congress opposed the introduction as some
• The CRDA will have Rs. 1000 crore as
concerns of West Bengal were not addressed
development fund and Rs. 250 crore as
and the AIADMK follow ed suit citing
working capital. A detailed master plan for
irregularities and lacunae.
the capital region will be ready in six months.
• Introducing the Bill, Union Finance Minister
• It is learnt that the Cabinet also approved
Arun Jaitley pointed out that the issue had
increase in retirement age of teachers in aided
been discussed by a Standing Committee in
colleges from 58 years to 60 years and from
the past and was non-committal on the
60 years to 62 years in the universities.
Opposition demand.
• Another important decision taken by the
• Assuring MPs that he “would not rush
Cabinet is to allow intra-State sale of paddy
through” the Bill, he indicated that the
and also allow export to other States if
Government was prepared to wait till the
farmers themselves pay Central Sales Tax.
next session to get it passed.

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77 || Year Book 2015

• The Cabinet which discussed various issues foundation of ‘Tiladhak University’ was laid
during the four-hour meeting approved during the Kushan period in first century AD
proposals to fill 4,000 field assistant posts and not the Gupta period.
under MNREGA and 6,000 posts in • This indicates that the Buddhist mahavihara
Panchayat Raj departments. found at the site may be older than the
mahavihara at Nalanda and Vikramshila,
India successfull y test fires GSLV Mark-III
director of State Archaeology Atul Kumar
• India moved forward in rocket technology Verma, who is leading the excavation, said.
with the successful flight testing of its heaviest • The site came into light when the former
next generation rocket and the crew module. Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, toured
•The 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite the area in 2009. Mr. Kumar, seeing the
Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mark-III), prospect of its historical importance, had
standing 43.43-metre tall, freed itself from directed Art and Culture department to
the second launch pad and with a begin excavation.
reverberating deep throated roar, rose into the • The site is located 33 km west of Nalanda
sky. University and the Mahavihara in
• With a thick orange flame at its tail, the Ekangalsarai block of Nalanda district, the
expendable rocket ascended towards the former Chief Minister’s native place.
heavens with one way ticket as its design life • Chinese Traveller Hsuan-Tsang referred to
span is just around five minutes. this mahavihara as “Tilakakiye” in the 7th
• The Rs.155-crore mission has twin purposes. Century. Literature discovered has confirmed
The main purpose is to test the rocket’s its identity as “Tiladhak” or “Tiladhakay.”
atmospheric flight stability with around four • However, officials said that according to
tonne luggage. Calcutta University’s S. Sanyal, who studied
• The second and incidental objective is to four monastery seals found during
study the re-entry characteristics of the crew excavation, the mahavihara’s name is “Sri
module — called Crew Module Atmospheric Prathamshipur mahaviharey bhikshu
Re-entry Experiment — its aero braking and sanghas.”
validation of its end-to-end parachute system. Govt. employees under Lokpal Act have to
• According to an Indian Space Research disclose deposits in foreign banks
Organisation (ISRO) official, it will be of the
size of a small bedroom and can • Amending the rules for voluntary disclosure
accommodate two to three people. of assets and liabilities by government
• Just over five minutes into the flight, the employees under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas
rocket spat out the giant cup cake shaped Act, the Department of Personnel and
3.7-tonne crew module at an altitude of 126 Training (DoPT) has effected some changes
km. in the form, making it mandatory for them
to disclose deposits in foreign banks.
Ancient university near Nalanda was • The deadline has been extended by four
founded during Kushan Period months from December 31. “Details of
• Excavation near the ancient Nalanda deposits in the foreign bank (s) to be given
Institution, Art and Culture department separately,” states the DoPT order, adding
secretary Anand Kishore said, showed that that government employees have to file

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78 || Year Book 2015

statements of movable property separately for U.S Secretary calls for


self, spouse and dependent child. greater Indo-US economic ties
• While investments above Rs.2 lakh have to • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for
be reported individually, amounts below that
expansion of India-US commercial ties and
can be reported together. Apart from cash praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
and bank balance, government servants
commitment to the area of wind energy.
would now be required to also reveal details
of other movable assets including furniture, • “The world’s oldest democracy and the
fixtures, antiques, paintings and electronic largest democracy can help to forge an era of
equipment. shared prosperity and security. Trade between
India and the U.S. has increased five-fold
• However, this only if the total current value
since 2001.
of any particular asset in any particular
category exceeds two months’ basic pay or • We can do more together. I want our
Rs. 1 lakh. economic relationship to grow stronger in
• Another order amending the previous Lokpal every aspect. We must do more together and
and Lokayuktas (Removal of Difficulties) we must do it faster. We share PM Modi’s
Order, 2014, gives six months more to the goal of increasing our country’s annual trade
government to make further amendments to fivefold.
the rules formulated thereunder. • We want to expand our commercial ties with
India and our bilateral trade to increase five-
• While the government intends to make all
the declarations public, many government fold,” Mr. Kerry said in his address at the
Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015. He expressed
officials have expressed concern that the
information on their assets could be misused. awe at the “entrepreneurial passion” he saw
in the entrepreneurs of Delhi, Mumbai and
The latest order does not have any provision
Bangalore on his several visits to India.
ensuring secrecy of the disclosures made.
• “Our founding documents begin with the
World Ramayana Conference in Bengaluru exact same words ‘We the people’ and our
• The Ramayana Research Foundation in innovators and entrepreneurs are constantly
pushing the curve of discovery,” he said.
Bengaluru has organised a three-day World
Ramayana conference from January 23 to 25 • In the wake of the huge numbers of people
at the National College Grounds. in extreme poverty, Mr. Kerry pointed to
• Fifty scholars from across India will present “endless possibilities” in terms of setting up
papers on varied subjects. Sanskrit scholar schools, hospitals, roads, energy grid and
Satya Vrat Shastri, politician Subramanian developing tourism.
Swamy, scholar Bannanje Govindacharya and • However, the threat of climate change was
Mani Dravid will participate in a national “an enormous cloud” hanging over the world.
debate on January 24. “Global climate change is violently affecting
• ‘Valmiki Sanman’ will be conferred on communities and disrupting commerce,
Sanskrit scholars Satya Vrat Shastri and K.S. development and economic growth around
Narayanacharya on January 25. Shobana will the world.
present dance ballets on January 23, and • It is costing farmers crops. It is costing
Nirupama Rajendra will do so on insurance companies unbelievable payouts. If
January 25. we continue down the current trendline, we

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79 || Year Book 2015

will see climate refugees fighting for food and • He said the government was proposing a
water.” total of 80 sewage treatment plants (STPs)
• In the light of this situation, Mr. Kerry which would process, in a day, 368 million
expressed hope that the Indo-US could litres of water flowing into the river in the
ensure sustainable development and five river basin States.
opportunities for economic growth and • The court directed the government to present
prosperity. the status of 31 ongoing projects of STPs and
15 others which were in the bidding stage.
FM expects GST to take effect in 2016
• The hearing primarily focused on the
• Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said he domestic sewage flowing into the river. In
expected the government to implement the October 2014, the Bench had referred to the
common Goods and Services Tax (GST) National Green Tribunal the responsibility of
across the country in the course of next year. monitoring and inspecting industrial units
• Mr. Jaitley presented the GST Bill in along the river and even cut off their water
parliament last year. It needs the support of and power connections if they were found to
two-thirds of its members as well as be polluting.
ratification by State legislatures. • The Supreme Court has been hearing this
• The Bill, which was returned, authorises petition since the early 1980s. Numerous
payment and appropriation of certain orders have been passed by it, directing the
additional sums from and out of the authorities to protect the river. The petition
Consolidated Fund of India for 2014-15. It was filed by lawyer M.C. Mehta highlighting
was passed by Lok Sabha on December 10. the alarming state of the river and its
• Describing the GST reform as a “win-win depletion owing to pollution.
situation” for both the Centre and the States, Government allows
the Finance Minister had said the Bill would direct sale of bio-diesel by manufacturers
not have “fear of the unknown” unlike Value
Added Tax (VAT). • In a bid to augment supply of environment
• Investors and manufacturers have long friendly fuel, the government allowed private
coveted the GST as a game-changer that manufacturers of bio-diesel to sell it directly
would simplify taxes while broadening the to consumers like Indian Railways.
tax base, adding as much as 2 percentage • Till now, only state-owned oil firms and only
points to the size of Asia’s third-largest those private firms investing Rs 2,000 crore
economy. in oil infrastructure were allowed to retail
petrol and diesel. Bio-diesel, which is to be
SC asks government for doped in diesel before being used to fire
update on ‘Ganga clean-up projects’ automobiles, too was clubbed under this rule.
• The Supreme Court asked the NDA • “The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime
government if there was any chance of Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for
cleaning up the Ganga river during its amending the Motor Spirit (petrol) and High
current term in power. Solicitor-General Speed Diesel (diesel) control order for
Ranjit Kumar submitted that a consortium Regulation of Supply, Distribution and
of IITs was preparing a road map for cleaning Prevention of Malpractices dated December
the river.
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80 || Year Book 2015

19, 2005,” said an official statement. on track after it was “at times strained” when
• “The amendment will allow private bio- President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government
diesel manufacturers, their authorised dealers was in power.
and joint ventures of oil marketing • In addition to holding bilateral discussions
companies (OMCs) authorised by the with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj, Minister
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas Samaraweera will meet Prime Minister
(MoP&NG) as dealers and give marketing / Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor
distribution functions to them for the limited Ajit Doval and Congress President Sonia
purpose of supply of bio-diesel to Gandhi over the next couple of days.
consumers,” it said. • Following Sri Lanka’s January 8 elections in
• Also, the Rs 2,000 crore investment “will also which President Rajapaksa was defeated by
be relaxed and a new clause added to give his former Cabinet member, New Delhi
marketing rights for bio-diesel to the private wasted no time in reaching out to the new
bio-diesel manufacturers, their authorised leadership.
dealers and JVs of OMCs authorised by the • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first
MoP&NG for direct sales to consumers”, it international leader to congratulate President
said. Maithripala Sirisena, just as clear signs of his
• The amendment was made because users victory began emerging on the morning of
faced problems in sourcing bio-diesel. State- January 9.
owned firms had their financial consideration • Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj called Mr.
because cost of bio-diesel was more than the Samaraweera soon after he assumed charge as
refinery-gate price of diesel. Foreign Minister and invited him to New
• With the relaxation, bulk users like Railways Delhi. The two leaders are long time friends,
can buy bio-diesel directly from and have interacted closely when they held
manufacturers and dope in diesel for running the telecommunications portfolio on either
locomotives. “This decision will encourage side of the Palk Strait in the 1990s.
the production and use of bio-diesel in the • “The fact that as Foreign Minister I have
country,” the statement said. undertaken my first overseas visit to India
Sri Lanka’s new govt. signifies the importance that President
Sirisena’s government places on strengthening
to start ties with India ‘on a clean slate’
and improving bilateral ties with India,” Mr.
• Sri Lanka’s new government will start its Samaraweera said.
relationship with India on a “clean slate,”
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Union Cabinet clears
ahead of his departure to New Delhi. FM radio channels auctions
• Coinciding with his trip, the Sri Lankan • The Union Cabinet cleared the third phase
government released 15 Indian fishermen in of auction of FM radio channels, expected to
its custody, and officials said the Sri Lankan fetch Rs. 550 crore to the government.
fishermen, currently in Indian prisons, were • A Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime
also being released. Minister Narendra Modi, approved the
• Mr. Samaraweera said the visit was intended auction, while also clearing migration
to put the two countries’ relationship back [renewal] of 135 private FM radio licences

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81 || Year Book 2015

from the second to the third phase in 69 Festival showcases the vibrant culture of the
cities. Several more private channels will State to the over 2 lakh visitors expected for
hence start operations in those cities. the event.
• By the recommendations of the Telecom • Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje
Regulatory Authority of India, migration will inaugurate the event. Rajasthani
requires payment of a fee. As many as 243 musicians Nathoo Solanki, Chugge Khan
private FM channels operate in 86 cities in and the Jaisalmer Boys will open the world’s
26 States and three Union Territories. largest free literary festival with the sounds
• “The auction process will add an estimated of their traditional music which has become
revenue of over Rs. 550 crore to the national synonymous with the first day of the festival.
exchequer on successful auctions of all • Also on the opening day, musicologist John
proposed channels. Napier and Shanti Raman will speak of the
• Besides, it will beget the amount realised tradition and challenges in archiving the oral
through the migration process which is history of the Nath Jogis. They will be joined
dependent on the TRAI-recommended by jogi performer Kishori Nath who will
formula, where migration fee is linked to the recite and perform from an ancient bardic
discovery of market prices through the FM repertoire.
Radio Phase III auction,” the Cabinet
statement said. 1-crore award for
villages attaining balanced sex ratio
IITs, IIMs to roll out free online courses
• Union Minister for Women and Child
• Union Human Resource Development Development Maneka Gandhi announced a
Minister Smriti Irani announced the launch Rs. 1-crore award for any innovative village
of free online courses by premier institutes attaining a balanced sex ratio.
such as the Indian Institutes of Technology
• At the inaugural session of a national
(IITs) and the Indian Institutes Management
thematic workshop on woman and child
(IIMs) from the current year.
development in Panipat, Ms. Gandhi urged
• Ms. Irani said that as part of the digital the State governments and the district
initiatives and education reforms launched by commissioners and other officials to work
Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
together for the success of the Beti Bachao
consultations on the New Education Policy
Beti Padhao (Save daughter, educate
would begin on
daughter) programme to be launched by
January 26.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi .
• A nominal fee would be charged for • Ms. Gandhi said the Prime Minister chose
certification of various online courses. It Haryana to launch the campaign as it was
would be free for people with special abilities one of the States with a low female sex ratio.
and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes One hundred districts with a low female sex
and Scheduled Tribes. ratio were selected nationwide for the
Literature Festival to campaign, and 12 of them, including
showcase Rajasthan’s heritage Panipat, were in Haryana.
• The rich heritage of Rajasthan is set to come Periyar Tiger Reserve wins NTCA award
alive as the annual ZEE Jaipur Literature • The Periyar Tiger Reserve, spread over 925
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82 || Year Book 2015

sq.km. in Kerala, bagged the National Tiger numbers and e-mail ids of the consumer
Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial forum and various departments of the
award for encouraging local public Chandigarh Administration are available on
participation in managing the reserve. the app.
• There are 75 communities living around the Two Harappan sites being excavated
reserve, including tribal people who are
dependent on eco-development programmes. • Excavations have begun at the two Harappan
• The community-based eco-tourism activities sites of Binjor in Rajasthan, close to the
helped visitors and there were night scouting India-Pakistan border, and Rakhigarhi in
programmes with the help of expert trackers Haryana.
as well. Tourism was supplemented by pepper • While the Archaeological Survey of India’s
growing and marketing which was a value Excavation Branch at Purana Quila, New
addition. Now, self-help groups were Delhi, is excavating Binjor, the Deccan
involved in honey processing and other College Post-Graduate & Research Institute,
income-generating activities. Pune, and the Haryana Department of
Archaeology is excavating the Rakhigarhi site,
Chandigarh launches Smart City app 25 km from Jind. About 350 km separate
• In the first major step towards making Binjor from Rakhigarhi. As the crow flies,
Chandigarh a “Smart City,” the city Binjor is situated seven km from the border,
administration launched its “official mobile in Anupgarh tehsil of Sri Ganganganar
app” to create awareness of consumer rights district.
and responsibilities and provide all types of • There are about 2,000 Harappan sites in
citizen-centric and public utility services and India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with 500 in
information to the residents. India and 1,500 in Pakistan.
• Launching the scheme, Vijay Dev, Adviser to • At its glory, the Harappan civilisation
the Administrator of Chandigarh, said flourished over two million square km, from
various departments would be directed to Sutkajendor on the Makran coast of
route all information and updates through Balochistan to Alamgirpur in Uttar Pradesh,
the app and appoint a link officer for the and from Manda in Jammu to Daimabad in
work. Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.
• The app would become an important • Sanjay Manjul, Director, Institute of
platform for redressing grievances. Archaeology, New Delhi, who is director of
• Speaking at the launch of an app of the Food the excavation at Binjor, said the excavation
and Supplies and Consumer Affairs was being jointly done by the ASI’s
Department, Mr. Dev described it as a single Excavation Branch at Purana Quila and the
“e-window” to all information related to the Institute of Archaeology.
department and various citizen-centric • Vasant Shinde, Vice-Chancellor, Deccan
services. College, is the director of the excavation at
• The app is now available free at Google Play Rakhigarhi. Professor Shinde said that with
store for Android phone users. Its iOS and the discovery of two more mounds last year
Windows Phone versions would be released at Rakhigarhi, the site had staked claim to
soon. be the largest Harappan site. One of the two
• Important addresses, contacts, helpline
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83 || Year Book 2015

newly discovered mounds would be dug this contracting a second marriage when his first
season. marriage was still in existence.
Remove ads on pre-natal sex selection: SC • But the Bench dismissed his contention
quoted the apex court’s 2003 judgment in
• In an interim order, a Supreme Court bench J aved vs. SState
aved tate of H ar
Har yana that “a practice
aryana
of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant did not acquire sanction of religion simply
ordered the three search engines – Google, because it was permitted.”
Yahoo and Microsoft — to “forthwith” • “What was protected under Article 25 was
withdraw online advertisements, currently the religious faith and not a practice which
being hosted or published, on pre-natal sex may run counter to public order, health or
determination facilities, clinics or centres in morality. Polygamy was not integral part of
violation of Section 22 of the Pre-Conception religion and monogamy was a reform within
and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques the power of the State under Article 25,” apex
(Prohibition of Sex Selection) or PC-PNDT court.
Act, 1994. • The court further noted that no material was
• Referring to an affidavit filed by the Ministry shown on record to prove that Mr. Khan had
of Communications and Information divorced his first wife, and moreover, his
Technology, Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar service record still showed his first wife’s
said the government would be able to “stop name.
the presentation of any kind of thing that • “Sharp distinction must be drawn between
relates to sex selection and eventual abortion” religious faith and belief and religious
if the search engines part with the URLs of practices. What the State protects is religious
such content. Alternatively, he said the search faith and belief. If religious practices run
engines can also “effectively or regularly” counter to public order, morality or health
block key words and advertisement links as or a policy of social welfare upon which the
they have the “relevant technology and deep- State has embarked, then the religious
domain knowledge” practices must give way before the good of
• The hearing is based on a PIL filed by Dr. the people of the State as a whole,” the
Sabu Mathew George in 2008 highlighting judgment reproduced the 1952 judicial
the use of Internet and popular search precedent in the Narasu Appa Mali case.
engines to promote sex determination Haryana Assembly
technologies in violation of the 1994 Act.
clears bill banning cow slaughter
Right to religion not above public morality: SC
The Haryana Assembly passed the Haryana
• Confirming the sacking of a government Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Bill with
servant for bigamy, the Supreme Court ruled two amendments, paving the way for prohibiting the
that the fundamental right to religion did not slaughter of cow and its progeny and providing
include practices which ran counter to public punishment of up to 10 years with a fine ranging
order, health and morality. from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 1 lakh for any violation.
• The judgment came on a petition filed by The Bill seeks to conserve and develop
Khursheed Ahmad Khan against the Uttar indigenous breeds of cows and to establish
Pradesh government’s decision to remove him institutions to keep, maintain and care infirm,
from service as Irrigation Supervisor for injured, stray and uneconomic cows in the State.
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84 || Year Book 2015

Under its provisions, anyone found guilty of biodegradable like the paper flags, these do
cow slaughter would be liable for imprisonment not get decomposed for a long time and are
ranging from three years to 10 years, along with fines harmful to the atmosphere. Further, ensuring
from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. The killing of a cow the appropriate disposal of national flags
in an accident or for self-defence will not be made of plastic with the dignity of the flag
considered slaughter. is a problem.
As per the Bill, any person found exporting a • Therefore, the MHA said State governments
cow for the purpose of slaughter either directly or and others should ensure that on important
through his agent or servant or any other person can national, cultural and sports events, only flags
be awarded rigorous imprisonment for not less than made by the paper are used in public.
three years, which may extend up to seven years with • It cautioned that offence pertaining to
fines ranging from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 70,000. showing disrespect to the National Flag can
Similarly, sale of beef will be banned in the invite up to three years jail term, fine or both.
State and violation of the ban will entail rigorous Process on to implement One Rank One
imprisonment for not less than three years and up Pension scheme
to five years with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000. In case
of non-payment of fine, all violators will have to • The modalities for implementing ’One Rank
One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for armed
spend an extra year in imprisonment.
forces are under consideration and the
For exporting a cow out of the State, people financial implication could be calculated
will have to apply for permit and file a declaration once the details are finalised and approved by
that cows for which permit for export is required will the government, Lok Sabha was informed.
not be slaughtered. However, no permit for export
• Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit
of cows will be issued for a State where cow slaughter Singh said in a written reply that the
is not banned. principle of OROP for the armed forces has
The Bill authorises any police officer not been accepted by the government.
below the rank of sub-inspector or any person • He was asked whether the implementation of
authorised on behalf of the government to enter, the scheme has been delayed.
stop and search any vehicle used or intended to be • Responding to another part of the question
used for export of cows. on removing disparities in pension of various
MHA tells States, UTs not to use national flag ex-servicemen, he said possible amendments
made of plastic to the pension policies are being examined
with a view to reduce litigation.
• The Union Home Ministry had directed all
State Government and Union Territories not • Explaining the reasons behind the delay, the
Minister had said, “The methodology of
to use National Flag made of plastic for any
calculating the One Rank, One Pension is an
function as these are not biodegradable and
thus their appropriate disposal is not possible. issue pending between the Services and the
Defence Ministry.”
• The letter, which has been sent to all State
• The scheme, which seeks to ensure that a
governments and Union Territories, noted
that National Flag made of plastic are being uniform pension is paid to defence personnel
who retire at the same rank with the same
used in place of paper flags on important
length of service, irrespective of their date of
functions. Since plastic flags are not
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85 || Year Book 2015

retirement, has been a long-standing demand reasons to be recorded in writing, finds such
of the over two million ex-servicemen in the Commissioner unfit.
country. It is important to note that, earlier • The precedent is to appoint the senior-most
Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag said that the EC as the CEC.
scheme will be implemented by the April and
this year. Land Bill Clears Lok Sabha hurdle

Law panel bats for stronger EC • The controversial Land Acquisition


(Amendment) Bill was approved by the Lok
• Law Commission has pitched for a stronger Sabha , but not before the Modi government
Election Commission by giving equal reached out to unhappy NDA allies and
constitutional protection to all members of unattached parties such as the BJD and the
the poll body and appointing the CEC and AIADMK to seek their support for this
the two ECs by a high-powered collegium. crucial legislation.
• In its report on electoral reforms submitted • The Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the
to the Law Ministry, the law panel has also Samajwadi Party, the RJD and the BJD
recommended creation of a permanent,
walked out of the House while NDA ally
independent Secretariat for the EC.
Shiv Sena abstained as the Bill was passed by
• The law panel said Article 324(5) of the voice vote.
Constitution should be amended to equate
• In the official amendments it moved, the
the removal procedures of the two Election
government accommodated some concerns
Commissioners with that of the Chief
of the Opposition and allies, such as
Election Commissioner.
dropping “social infrastructure” from the five
• The President appoints Chief Election categories of land use exempted from the
Commissioner and Election Commissioners
consent clause.
after the Law Ministry initiates the file for
their appointment. • However, other key points of contention —
the Social Impact Assessment and the
• The Chief Election Commissioner can be
restoration of the consent clause — remained
removed from office only through
unresolved as the Bill moves to the Rajya
impeachment by Parliament. The
Sabha, where the government is
government can remove the ECs based on the
recommendation of the CEC. outnumbered — and the Opposition plans
to force the Bill to a Select Committee.
• The Law Commission said the appointment
of all the Election Commissioners, including • Barring the Swabhiman Paksha and the Shiv
the CEC, should be made by the President Sena that held its counsel during the meeting,
in consultation with a three-member all the other allies agreed to back the
collegium or selection committee, consisting government if it addressed their concerns.
of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the SC unhappy with
Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader fund use for Taj zone green project
of the largest opposition party in the Lok
Sabha) and the Chief Justice of India. • Noting its unhappiness with the Uttar
• It said elevation of an Election Commissioner Pradesh government, the Supreme Court
came to the brink of ordering a CBI probe
should be on the basis of seniority, unless the
three member collegium or a committee, for into the alleged irregularities in its utilisation

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86 || Year Book 2015

of funds meant for compensatory Chapelle marking the British offensive in the
afforestation at the Taj Trapezium Zone Artois region of France, in which the
(TTZ) in Agra. Garhwal Brigade and the Meerut Division of
• Justice Thakur considered directing a CBI the Indian Corps participated.
probe into the “irregularities,” but said the • Between 1914 and 1918, around 90,000
court would give the government one last Indian soldiers fought on the French soil,
opportunity to fulfil its commitment to plant more than 8,500 of whom perished.
saplings to replace trees felled across the land • General Jean-Pierre Bosser, Chief of Staff of
spread over several hundred hectares. the French Army, is currently on an official
• It said the only explanation for “discrepancy visit in India to pay tribute to the sacrifice
and failure” from the officials was non-release of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives
of funds. for France’s freedom during World War I.
• Calling their attitude “cavalier,” the court • The highlight is an exhibition at Manekshaw
asked why these officials could not have Centre in which the moments and conditions
approached the court had their intentions of World War I have been recreated.
been in earnest. • The ‘Corner of Remembrance’ in the
• A Bench gave the State four weeks to comply exhibition will have old letters and an old
with its orders. The State’s Additional home with belongings of soldiers while the
Advocate-General Gaurav Bhatia promised ‘Sacrifice Hall’ includes replicas of Indian
that the court orders would be complied with memorials and paintings of Victoria Cross
and a better affidavit, removing all winners in India and abroad.
discrepancies on the number of trees • The Army has also created a replica of a
uprooted and the number of trees planted. World War I bunker showcasing the living
World War I Commemorations begin conditions of the soldiers then.

• Over 74,000 Indian soldiers laid down their Delhi, Kerala,


lives fighting the war. Tamil Nadu top in girls’ education
• The Centenary Commemoration of the First • Delhi, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are India’s
World War (1914-1918), in memory of the best-ranked States in terms of gender-related
1.5 million Indian soldiers who fought in the education indicators, new data from the
war, began with President Pranab Mukherjee Ministry of Human Resource Development
laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti in India and UNICEF, shows.
Gate. • Using district-level indicators of girls’
• The commemoration, from March 10-14, is education, health and social disadvantages,
also in memory of the over 74,000 soldiers the government aims to identify the most
who laid down their lives fighting the war, backward pockets of the country, requiring
whose names are etched in stone on the walls the most attention.
of India Gate. They fought in several theatres • While the atlas uses data earlier collected by
across Asia, Africa and Europe. other government agencies, it also creates a
• The centenary commemo-rations will new composite index using 21 indicators to
continue till 2018. do with girls’ education, along four axes —
• March 10 coincides with the Battle of Neuve access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes.

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87 || Year Book 2015

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Delhi and Punjab are journey.


in the top 25% of the index’s range for • After making a landing here, the solar-
elementary education, and the two Southern powered aircraft’s founders and pilots
states and Delhi make the top quarter of the Bertrand Piccard and Androrschberg are
index for secondary education as well. likely to stay in the city for two days before
Central and northern States, including leaving for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, are release said.
among the worst performers. • The Swiss solar-powered aircraft’s flight got
• The atlas also creates a Vulnerability Index delayed by a day due to bad weather
of factors which impinge on girls’ education, conditions in the UAE. The aircraft was
including the likelihood of joining the scheduled to land in Ahmedabad .
workforce early and early marriage. • Piccard and Borschberg, during their stay in
• The two southern States, along with Delhi the city, will reach out to the government,
and Himachal Pradesh, are the best NGOs, universities and schools to spread the
performers here, with Gujarat, Rajasthan and message of clean technologies.
the central and northern States among the
• The aircraft is also likely to hover above river
worst.
Ganga in Varanasi to spread the message of
Nagaland submits report on lynching cleanliness and clean energy, an official
associated with the project said.
• The Nagaland government has submitted an
• Solar Impulse is claimed to be the first
interim report to the Union Ministry of
Home Affairs on the lynching of a person aircraft to fly day and night without a drop
from Assam in Dimapur on March 5. of fuel, propelled solely by the sun’s energy,
• The report, it is understood, says the police as per the project’s website.
and prison security staff were overwhelmed • The single-seater aircraft made of carbon
by the huge crowd. fibre has a 72 metre wingspan, larger than
• Police could not open fire initially since there that of Boeing-747 and weighs just 2,300 kg,
w ere a number of women and children equivalent to the weight of a car.
among the protesters. • The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing
• A 7000-strong mob had stormed the jail on supply electric motors with renewable energy.
March 5 and pulled out Syed Sarif Khan, The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer
who was accused of raping a Naga student. batteries totalling 633 kg each, which allow
He was stripped and dragged all the way and the aircraft to fly at night and therefore have
when police caught up with the mob, the virtually unlimited autonomy, it said.
accused was already dead. • This round-the-world flight will take-off
from Abu Dhabi and make a halt at Muscat
World’s first Solar-powered Aircraft (Oman), Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India,
• The Swiss solar-powered aircraft’s flight got Mandalay in Myanmar and Chongqing and
delayed by a day due to bad weather Nanjing in China.
conditions in the UAE. • After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii,
• Solar Impulse, claimed to be the world’s only the aircraft will fly across the US stopping at
solar-powered aircraft, will make a stop over Phoenix, the Midwest and New York City,
in Ahmedabad as a part of its maiden global said the website.

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88 || Year Book 2015

• The test flight of the aircraft was conducted controlling price rise.
in the US in 2013. • The Centre would amend the RBI Act for
Mufti orders Release of political prisoners the setting up of the proposed monetary
policy committee, a key element of the new
• Senior separatist leader Masarat Alam was framework.
released from prison just days after Jammu • Replying to a query, Mr. Mehrishi said the
and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti budget announcement about proposed
Mohammad Sayeed directed the police to ‘strategic disinvestment’ in public sector units
release political prisoners against whom no would enable the Centre to induct private
criminal charges had been registered. strategic partners.
• Earlier in the day, police sources had
confirmed that he had been moved from the Nai Manzil to bridge lack of skills in minorities
Baramulla prison to a police station in • The ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme announced in the
Srinagar. budget is something that the Minority Affairs
• Head of the Muslim League in the State, Mr Ministry has been talking about ever since
Alam was among the main organisers of pro- the Modi Government assumed office last
Azadi protests in the Valley in 2010. He was year.
arrested along with several other leaders after • In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on
those protests and remained one of the few July 16, 2014, the Ministry had listed ‘Nai
senior leaders still behind bars. Manzil’ as one of the steps “being taken’’ by
• Arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) the Government for the welfare of minorities.
— a preventive detention law in J&K which • It was billed as a “bridge course to bridge the
gives a Deputy Commissioner the authority academic and skill development gaps of the
to take anyone in his district into preventive deeni Madrasa passouts with their
custody for up to two years without trial if mainstream counterparts’’.
he feels the person poses a threat to the • Seven-and-a-half months later, Mr. Jaitley
security of the State — Mr. Alam has been flagged ‘Nai Manzil’ as a scheme that “will
in various prisons for more than four years be launched this year’’ to enable minority
now. youth who do not have a formal school-
• Police sources said since 2010, more than six leaving certificate to obtain one and find
consecutive PSA charges had been slapped on better employment.
him. • The other minority community-related
• Reacting strongly to the release of Masarat programme that he flagged in the Budget
Alam, the BJP said the decision was anti- speech on Saturday pertained to show-casing
national, unacceptable and detrimental to the the civilisation and culture of Parsis. The
coalition. Government will support an exhibition ‘The
Centre to amend RBI Everlasting Flame’, he said.
Act to set up monetary policy panel • The allocation for the Ministry “is being
protected’’ with an estimate of Rs. 3,738
• An agreement between the Centre and the crore. Last year’s budget had allocated Rs.
Reserve Bank of India last month formalised 3,734 crore to the Ministry which was cut
a policy that the central bank had been down to Rs. 3,165 crore in the revised
following since January 2014, of prioritizing estimates.

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89 || Year Book 2015

• A bulk of this is for the Multi Sectoral • In this regard, appropriate amendments have
Development Programme for Minorities and been made to the Service Tax Rules, 1994,
the other main claimants to the allocation are it said, while adding that the change has
the pre-matric and post-matric scholarships come into effect immediately, that is with
for minorities. effect from today.
E-commerce transactions on • As a result, such services will turn expensive
‘Aggregator’ Platforms turn Costly once the aggregators decide to pass on the
service tax levy to the consumers.
• E-commerce transactions through websites • According to leading law firm Khaitan &
and mobile apps based on ‘aggregator model’, Company, “In respect of certain e—
including for cab services and online commerce service transactions, the person
shopping, may turn expensive as those liable to pay Service tax has now been clearly
providing such services under their own specified.”
brand are being brought under the service tax • For services offered under aggregator model,
net. the aggregator, or its representative office in
• The Finance Bill has proposed changes in the India would be now made “liable to pay
Service Tax rules with respect to certain e— Service tax if the service is provided by using
commerce transactions involving aggregator the brand name of the aggregator in any
model, which may impact online aggregator manner.”
taxi services like Uber and Ola Cabs. • If an aggregator does not have any presence,
• There are also many online retail websites then its agent will have to pay the tax, the
that follow ‘aggregator’ model. Under this law firm clarified.
model, an entity does not produce or
warehouses any product itself, but collects or Panel against trying juveniles as adults
aggregates information on goods or services • A Parliamentary Standing Committee has
on one single platform from several sources. taken on board civil society’s apprehensions
• The aggregator draws customers to its of treating 16-to-18-year-olds as adults in
platform and allows them an easy cases of heinous crimes, and called for a
comparison of prices and specifications of review of this provision in The Juvenile
product or service offered by several sellers. Justice (Care and Protection of Children)
• As per the Finance Bill 2015, presented by Bill, 2014, introduced in the Lok Sabha in
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament, August.
“In respect of any service provided under • This amendment to the JJ Act is among the
aggregator model, the aggregator, or any of slew of changes that the UPA Government
his representative office located in India, is had initiated in various laws of the country
being made liable to pay Service Tax if the following the huge public outcry over the
service is so provided using the brand name Delhi gang rape.
of the aggregator in any manner. • A juvenile was among the accused and the
• “If an aggregator does not have any presence, brutality of his actions prepared the ground
including that by way of a representative, in for proposing differential treatment to
such a case any agent appointed by the juveniles in the 16-18 age group in case of
aggregator shall pay the tax on behalf of the heinous crimes.
aggregator.”
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90 || Year Book 2015

• In its report in the Lok Sabha, the some of the reasons identified for high levels
Parliamentary Standing Committee on of malnourishment.
Human Resource Development • A study ‘Understanding hunger and
recommended that all relevant clauses dealing malnutrition among high migrant
with Children’s Courts, and differential communities’ conducted in south Rajasthan
treatment of children between 16 and 18 by Aajeevika Bu reau and EdelGive
years need to be reviewed as subjecting them Foundation has revealed that more than half
to an adult judicial system goes against the children were underweight in those
Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution. communities where migration was high.
Modi suit fetches Rs. 4.31-cr in auction Stunting or retarded growth was reported in
53 per cent of the children with 28 per cent
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s of them severely so; 33 per cent are wasted
monogrammed suit fetched Rs. 4.31 crore as (debilitated growth) with over 9 per cent of
bidders scrambled to own the two-piece them severely so and one-fourth severely
ensemble in the final moments of the three- underweight. South Rajasthan — broadly
day auction that ended at 5 p.m. Udaipur division — is a semi-arid region
• Lalji Patel, a diamond trader, and his son, with a largely tribal population which owns
Hitesh Patel, are the new owners of the suit small land holdings. Small land holdings are
that Mr. Modi wore during a meeting with unable to help them sustain a livelihood
U.S. President Barack Obama on January 25. which results in high levels of migration.
• With a reportedly Rs. 10-lakh price and the • Each panchayat, where the study was done,
name Narendra Damodardas Modi had 550-600 migrants. The study was done
embroidered down the length of the fabric in four panchayats in one block — two had
to look like golden pinstripes, the navy-blue high levels of migrations and the other two
bandhgala suit had raised a controversy. low migration.
• Bids flew thick and fast in the last hour of • The sample of 884 households, which had
the auction, which had no base price. District less than three children, was picked up from
Collector, Surat, Rajendra Kumar said bids, 13 villages.
one of Rs. 5 crore, received after the deadline • A total of 695 children under the age of three
had been disqualified. were weighed and measured as were 607
• Mr. Lalji Patel, who owns the Dharmananda mothers. The median BMI (body mass
Diamond Company, told presspersons that index) of mothers was 18.1 with 58 per cent
he wanted to do something for the country, having a BMI of less than 18.5. An analysis
and the auction gave him an opportunity. has suggested inter-generational transfer of
Malnourishment under-nutrition. When the mother is under-
high among children of migrants: study nourished, children are 1.8 times more likely
to have severe malnutrition.
• The level of malnourishment is high among • Also, less availability of food items, small
children whose parents migrate in search of land holdings resulting in low produce and
livelihood. Inherent malnourishment in caring practices caused malnutrition. Roti
mothers, lack of food and nutrition security, was the only food item eaten by children
feeding and dietary practices and illnesses are daily and more than 60 per cent had access

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91 || Year Book 2015

to it. Only 58 per cent were breastfed, and are having a place of work in India and to all such
less than one per cent had daliya (porridge) airlines Indian law may be applicable should and are
which is supposed to be highly nutritious. required to comply with the law and there is no need
• The study further shows that children of for the court to issue any direction to any airlines
migrating families were less likely to be to abide by the law.
enrolled at the anganwadi centres where the High Court further stated that the present
government provides supplementary food to public interest litigation which was brought before
pre-school children. Importantly, the it was being pursued without regard to the law which
anganwadi centres were less functional in is in existence already and its provision thereof and
areas with high migrating population. so court does not feel it necessary to entertain this
• When a mother goes for work, the primary petition and thus dismissed it.
caretakers are grandparents in 57 per cent of
the cases, father in just 4 per cent and elder Union Government extended prepaid mobile
brother in 5 per cent. service for two years in J&K, North-East

Foreign airlines come under Pre-paid mobile services in Jammu and


Sexual harassment Act: Delhi HC Kashmir and the northeastern States will be allowed
to continue for two more years. The licence of the
The Delhi High Court has said that any telecom operators for providing pre-paid services in
foreign airline having even one office in the country these areas expires. The existing service license was
is bound by the Sexual Harassment of Women at about to expire on March 31st.
Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) The decision came after, a high-level
Act, 2013. The Court has made this verdict while committee headed by Union Home Secretary L.C.
it was hearing public interest litigation on seeking Goyal discussed the matter and decided to give the
the implementation of the Vishakha guidelines on nod for continuance of these pre-paid services. The
sexual harassment against women at the workplace Home Ministry also directed to the service providers
in the aviation industry. that they have to maintain utmost precaution in
This issue came to light when an Indian issuing SIM cards and ensure proper verification.
woman who was employed with Sri Lankan Airlines
had sought action against the carrier and its officials Committee sets up by
for sexual harassment and thus this matter was EC to allow migrants to vote
transferred as a PIL to the bench by another court Election Commission of India has set up a
which was dealing with the plea. This application committee of senior officers to consider whether
was moved by the woman’s advocate Ajay Verma to electoral laws can be changed to empower voters
enquire into the complaint of the petitioner and has who have migrated to other States within the
pleaded the court to constitute the committee in the country.
SriLankan Airlines as per Vishaka guidelines. The motive behind the constitution of this
High Court stated that as Sexual Harassment committee is to know whether inter-State migrant
of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition voters could retain their names on the electoral rolls
and Redressal) Act 2013, is in force there is no need of their native places, and also, if they could cast
for the court to issue any direction to comply with their votes through mechanisms such as postal ballot.
the law. Court said that when the law has come into Under the present law, a person can be
force, every airlines including foreign airlines who enrolled only at the place he is residing. A migrant

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has to get himself enrolled in the new place. India’s first of Scorpene
The commission said a person who migrated Submarines-Kalvari ‘Undocked’
can be considered “ordinarily resident” in his new Kalvari, first of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene
place even without owning or possessing a house class stealth submarines being built under the Project
there. It said the law was reasonable as it is now. 75, under collaboration with M/s DCNS, France,
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, has been undocked at the Mazagon Dock Limited
the poll body said the committee was set up despite (MDL).
scepticism about the need to amend the Kalvari, its scheduled commissioning in 2016,
Representation of the People Act. The poll body was would lend an enormous fillip to the Indian Navy’s
responding to a notice issued by the Supreme Court underwater capability. The remaining five boats of
on January 12, 2015, on a plea made by UAE-based the Project 75 would be delivered by the yard to the
doctor Shamsheer V.P., represented by senior Navy by 2020 and would form the core of the
advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Haris Beeran, Navy’s submarine arm for the next two decades.
demanding electoral reforms to allow inter-State
The Scorpene submarines would pack a potent
migrants the voting privileges like postal ballot,
punch. She would be equipped with anti-ship
which is accorded to government servants.
missiles and long range guided torpedoes alongwith
The application filed by Dr. Shamsheer sought modern sensor suite.
the same voting privileges accorded to government
Features about Scorpene submarine Has
servants under Section 20(8) (d) of the
superior stealth capability.
Representation of the People Act, 1950, read with
Section 60(b) of the Representation of the People • Can undertake various operations including
Act 1951, which allowed them to vote via postal multifarious warfare, Anti-submarine
ballot upon the consent of the Election Commission. warfare, Intelligence gathering, mine laying,
area surveillance etc.
MHA renamed visa scheme • Ability to launch attack on the enemy using
The “Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel precision guided weapons.
Authorisation (TVoA-ETA)” scheme, which was • The attack can be launched from underwater
launched last year to facilitate short-duration visits or on surface.
by travellers from as many as 44 countries, has now • Designed to operate in all theatres including
been renamed “e-Tourist Visa” to make it clear that the tropics.
it is not an on-arrival scheme. • Built using special steel that can withstand
The government has issued 1.1 lakh visas high yield stress that can withstand high
under the new scheme that was launched on hydrostatic force and enabling to dive deeper.
November 27 last year. According to the MHA, it • Equipped with Weapons Launching tubes
will be extended to more countries and airports in (WLT) that can carry weapons on board and
a phased manner. can be easily reloaded at sea.
After some Indian embassies raised the issue Vivid Bharti now on FM
with the Home Ministry seeking change of name, a
committee comprising officials of the Bureau of Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs
Immigration, Home and External Affairs Ministries and I&B, Shri Arun Jaitley has introduced the
was formed to suggest a new name. popular Vividh Bharati service of the All India Radio
from Delhi on the FM platform. The service would

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enable listeners to access rich content across the AIR National Judicial
range from their mobile phones, car stereos and the Appointments Commission comes into force
Internet.
Union Government has brought into force the
The transmission within the minimum radius National Judicial Appointments Commission
of 60 kms would enable the people to enjoy high (NJAC) Act, 2014 along with the 99th
quality rich content programs with utmost clarity Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014. In this
transmitted by the given platform. regard, notification to effect from 13 April 2015 was
Technological advancement and availability on issued by the Union Law Ministry. With this new
FM Mode would make Vividh Bharati and other law the collegium system to appoint members to the
channels of AIR available on mobile phones, car higher judiciary has come to an end. Now President
stereos and internet. This initiative would also will appoint judges in the Supreme Court (SC) and
mainstream the platform with audiences proactively 24 High Courts (HCs) in consultation with the
offering them different program segments and NJAC.
keeping pace with contemporary themes on the
entertainment segment. Key Facts of NJAC
The audience of Vividh Bharati Service in • The Acts provide for a transparent and
Delhi was hithertofore being beamed through MW broad-based process of selection of Judges of
only. Now the signal shall be available through the Supreme Court and High Courts by the
Frequency Modulation (FM), which has National Judicial Appointments Commission
stereophonic sound quality and has the inbuilt (NJAC).
feature of becoming available on mobile phones and • The NJAC would be chaired by the Chief
car stereos. A dedicated 10 KW transmitter has been Justice of India as in the earlier collegium
installed for the VB Service Delhi. system. The NJAC membership would
Vividh Bharati on FM will be available in include two senior most Judges of the
Delhi on 100.1 MHz. This is in addition to its Supreme Court, the Union Minister of Law
availability on MW 1368 kHz. Two other existing and Justice.
FM services of AIR are FM Gold(106.4MHz) and • Two eminent persons to be nominated by a
FM Rainbow(102.6 MHz). AIR also has its Local committee of the Prime Minister of India,
Radio Station Network in Frequency Modulation. the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of
BHEL commissioned the Opposition in the House of the People,
600 MW Thermal Unit in Chhattisgarh or if there is no Leader of the Opposition,
then the Leader of the single largest
State-owned power equipment-maker Bharat
Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has Opposition Party in the House of the People.
• With a view to ensuring that the composition
commissioned a second 600 MW thermal unit in
Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir Champa District for the of the National Judicial Appointments
Commission is inclusive, the Act provides
Dainik Bhaskar Power Limited.
BHEL is partner in the power development that one of the eminent persons shall be
nominated from amongst persons belonging
programme of the state of Chhattisgarh. With this
to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribes,
commissioning of second unit, BHEL’s cumulative
Other Backward Classes, Minorities or
installed capacity has increased at 11,400MW in
Women. The NJAC will frame its own
Chhattisgarh and accounts for 68 per cent share of
regulations.
the total installed capacity in the state.

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94 || Year Book 2015

Century old Indian sculpture to fly back home was also held at New Delhi. The salient features of
the recommendation are given below:
India’s ‘Parrot Lady’ is to return home, after
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper handed (i) Number ‘112’ be adopted as the single
over to his counterpart, Narendra Modi, the 800- emergency number for India.
year-old Indian sandstone sculpture of a woman (ii) Calls made from a landline or mobile phone/
holding a parrot. device to the emergency number ‘112’ will
be routed to a Public Safety Answering Point
The sculpture dates back to the 12th century.It
(PSAP), which are akin to a call centre. The
was returned in accordance with the 1970
number of PSAPs in a State or Union
UNESCO Convention. The prized Indian statue Territory (UT) to be decided by the State
was returned at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa.
Governments/UTs; however there should be
Mr. Modi in exchange presented Mr. Harper with
at least one PSAP in each State/UT.
a miniature painting of Guru Nanak Dev with his
(iii) The existing emergency calling numbers 100,
disciples.
101, 102, and 108 help lines to be retained
The three-foot high statue of ‘Parrot Lady’ as secondary numbers. The calls made to the
turned up in Canada in 2011 in the possession of secondary numbers should be re-routed to
an individual who did not have proper 112 for termination with an announcement
documentation; it was seized under the Cultural to the caller to call 112 as emergency number
Property Expor t and Import which controls in future; Once call to secondary numbers
antiquities and other cultural objects being imported reduce significantly, these numbers can be
from foreign states. withdrawn gradually.
TRAI recommends 112 as (iv) Access to IECRS to be permitted even from
Single Emergency Number for India those mobile/landline phones where the
outgoing call facility has been debarred or the
To facilitate establishment of an efficient and services is suspended temporarily.
robust Integrated Emergency Communication & (v) Calls to the single emergency number should
Response System (IECRS) in India, the Telecom be prioritized in the cellular mobile networks.
Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suo-motu
(vi) SMS based access to IECRS should also be
issued recommendations on implementation of
provided.
‘S ingle N umber based IIntegrated
Number ntegrated E mergency
Communication & R Response SSystem
esponse ystem (IECRS)’
(IECRS)’. (vii) All Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) will
have to provide location information and
These recommendations have been finalized after
details or caller to the IECRS. For this
wider consultations with the stakeholders.
purpose four regional database centers, one
The Authority had issued a Consultation in each metro city, to be set up in the
Paper titled ‘Universal Single Number based country. BSNL to setup and maintain these
Integrated Emergency Communication & Response regional database centers.
System’ dated 15 th March 2013 for seeking (viii) There should be a multi-sectoral agency
comments of stakeholders. Since State Governments having representations from MHA,
are major stakeholders in the entire process of setting Department of Telecommunications (Dot),
up IECRS, meeting with the representatives of State Department of Electronics and Information
Government, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Technology (DEITY), Ministry of Health
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Family Welfare (MHFW), Ministry of

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Women and Child Development (MWCD) Amb. Surendra Kumar at a function here today.
and other concerned Centre and State Addressing on the occasion, the Vice President said
agencies which can coordinate and help in that the book has been very rightly described as a
setting up of IECRS in the country. Bouquet of 33 Flowers as it is a fair description of
(ix) A trial version of PSAP based IECRS should experiences of 33 distinguished diplomats in a book.
be put in place as a prototype before full scale These essays are perhaps in 3 categories – Narrative;
implementation. Analytical; and Argumented. He commended the
Editor of this useful book and hoped that this book
India successfull y test fired
will be read by the young entrants in this service and
Nuclear-capable Agni-III ballistic missile
the public at large.
India successfully test fired its nuclear-capable The book is a unique treasure of thoughts and
Agni-III ballistic missile with a strike range of more ideas of 33 Indian Diplomats who have collectively
than 3,000 km from Wheeler Island off Odisha put in more than 1150 years in Indian Foreign
coast. Service, representing three generations; those who
The indigenously developed surface-to-surface joined in 1950s, in the 1960s and in the 1970s. All
missile was test fired from a mobile launcher at in all, it is a healthy cocktail of reflections and
launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range reminiscences, hardnosed analysis and dispassionate
(ITR) at Wheeler Island by army. interpretation and, of course, some crystal ball
Logistic support for the test was provided by gazing. Amb. Surendra Kumar founded Indo-
the Defence Research and Development American Friendship Association in 2010.
Organisation (DRDO). “It was the third user trial MHA suspends registration of Greenpeace
in the Agni-III series carried out to establish the
‘repeatability’ of the missile’s performance. Union government has suspended the
For data analyses, the entire trajectory of registration of Greenpeace India, a non-profit
today’s trial was monitored through various environmental organization for six months with
telemetry stations, electro-optic systems and immediate effect.
sophisticated radars located along the coast and by Citing various grounds for the suspension of
naval ships anchored near the impact point, the the FCRA registration of Greenpeace India and the
sources said. freezing of its accounts, the Union Home Ministry
The Agni-III missile is powered by a two-stage alleged the organisation did not inform the
solid propellant system. With a length of 17 metres, authorities concerned about transfer of foreign
the missile’s diameter is 2 metres and launch weight contributions received in the designated account to
is around 50 tonnes. It can carry a warhead of 1.5 the FCRA utilisation account and then to five other
tonne which is protected by carbon all composite accounts.
heat shield. The MHA also charged the NGO with
incurring over 50 per cent of foreign donations on
Vice President Releases a Book administrative expenditure during 2011-12 and
‘India and the World – 2012-13 without prior approval.
Through the Eyes of Indian Diplomats’ Stating that acceptance of foreign
The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid contributions by Greenpeace India has prejudicially
Ansari released a book entitled “India and the World affected the public and the economic interest of the
– Through the eyes of Indian Diplomats” edited by country in violation of the Section 12 (4)(f)(iii) and

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96 || Year Book 2015

Section 12(4)(f)(ii) of the FCRA, the government have been revised.


said the act also amounted to violation of the • Permitted State governments to use upto
conditions of grant of registration certificate. 10% of allocation of the State Disaster Relief
Accordingly, the Central government has Fund (SDRF) on equipment. On capacity
suspended the registration of the organisation, building, maximum of 5% of SDRF
including its branches and units, under the FCRA, allocation can be spent.
for six months. The organisation can make a • State Governments also can use upto 10% of
representation in this regard within 30 days. If their SDRF allocation on local disasters. In
Greenpeace India fails to make a satisfactory this case the State Executive Committees
presentation to the Union government in this regard, have to work out the criteria and modalities.
its licence may be cancelled permanently. • Procedure for adjustment of available
balances under SDRF is simplified while
India successfull y test fired Dhanush missile
releasing assistance from the National
India successfully test-fired nuclear weapons- Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) in case of
capable Dhanush missile from a ship, off the Odisha severe disasters.
coast. The ship-based missile was launched by • Automatic annual updation of the norms by
personnel of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) reference with the movement of wholesale
from an Offshore Patrolling Vessel (OPV), which price index (WPI) is also enabled.
was deep inside the sea, for its full range of 350 km.
Union cabinet approves amendment to Real
Dhanush, a manoeuvring missile is a naval Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013
variant of Prithvi-II, and can carry a nuclear payload
of 500 kg. It can target both land-based and sea- The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime
based targets. The missile has already been inducted Minister has given its approval to amendments to
into the armed services and the SFC personnel the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill,
randomly picked up the missile from the production 2013 pending in the Rajya Sabha, and approved
lot for, which was carried out as part of regular user amendments proposed in the Bill. The Real Estate
training. (Regulation and Development) Bill is a pioneering
Dhanush was one of the five missiles initiative to protect the interest of consumers, to
developed by the DRDO under the Integrated promote fair play in real estate transactions and to
Guided Missile Development Programme. ensure timely execution of projects.
The Bill provides for a uniform regulatory
MHA issues revise norms for disaster relief environment, to protect consumer interests, help
Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has speedy adjudication of disputes and ensure orderly
issued orders on revision norms with respect of the growth of the real estate sector. The Bill contains
Centrally notified disasters. These disasters include provisions of registration of real estate projects and
tsunami, earthquake, floods, cyclones, drought, registration of real estate agents with the Real Estate
hailstorm, etc. Regulatory Authority; functions and duties of
promoters and allottees; establishment of Real Estate
Facts about revised norms Regulatory Authority; establishment of fast track
• Norms related to various aspects of response dispute resolution mechanism through adjudication;
and preparedness like ex-gratia to the kin’s in establishment of a Real Estate Appellate Tribunal;
case of loss of lives, disability and livelihoods offences and penalties etc.

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97 || Year Book 2015

The Bill ensures mandatory disclosure by Disclosure of all relevant information of


promoters to customers through registration of real project; Adherence to approved plans and
estate projects as well as real estate agents with the project specifications; Obligations regarding
Real Estate Regulatory Authority. The Bill aims at veracity of the advertisement for sale or
restoring confidence of the general public in the real prospectus; Rectify structural defects;
estate sector; by instituting transparency and Refund money in cases of default;
accountability in real estate and housing f. Compulsory deposit of 50 percent: To
transactions. This in turn will enable the sector to compulsorily deposit 50 percent (or such
access capital and financial markets essential for its lesser percent as notified by the Appropriate
long term growth. The Bill will promote orderly Government) of the amounts realized for the
growth through consequent efficient project real estate project from the allottees in a
execution, professionalism and standardization. separate account in a scheduled bank within
The salient featur es of the B
features ill ar
Bill aree as under: a period of fifteen days to cover the cost of
a. Applicability of the Bill: The proposed initial construction to be used for that purpose;
Bill was applicable for residential real estate. g. Adherence to declared plans: To bar the
It is now proposed to cover both residential promoter from altering plans, structural
and commercial real estate; designs and specifications of the plot,
b Establishment of Real Estate Regulatory apartment or building without the consent
Authority: Establishment of one or more of two-third allottees after disclosure;
‘Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ in each However, minor additions or alterations
State/ Union Territory (UT), or one permissible due to architectural and
Authority for two or more States/UT, by the structural reasons;
Appropriate Government for oversight of real h. Functions of Real Estate Agents: Real estate
estate transactions. To appoint one or more agents to sell properties registered with the
adjudicating officers to settle disputes and Authority; Maintain books of accounts,
impose compensation and interest; records and documents; Not to involve in
c. Registration of Real Estate Projects and any unfair trade practices;
R egistration of Real Estate Agents: i. Rights and Duties of Allottees: Right to
Mandatory registration of real estate projects obtain stage-wise time schedule of project;
and real estate agents who intend to sell any Claim possession as per promoter
plot, apartment or building, with the Real declaration; Refund with interest and
Estate Regulatory Authority; compensation for default by the promoter;
d. Mandatory Public Disclosure of all project Allottees to make payments and fulfill
details: Mandatory public disclosure norms responsibilities as per agreement;
for all registered projects such as details of j. Functions of Real Estate Regulatory
promoters, project, layout plan, plan of Authority: The Authority to act as the nodal
development works, land status, status of agency to co-ordinate efforts regarding
statutory approv als and disclosure of development of the real estate sector and
proforma agreements, names and addresses of render necessary advice to the appropriate
real estate agents, contractors, architect, G overnment to ensure the growth and
structural engineer etc.; promotion of a transparent, efficient and
e. Functions and Duties of Promoter: competitive real estate sector;

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98 || Year Book 2015

k. Fast Track Dispute Settlement Mechanism: of India Limited (SAIL). The warship’s propulsion
Fast track dispute resolution through system will be from Russia.
adjudicating officers (District Judge); The four ships of Project 15B ships being built
Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals; at MDL,Mumbai have been designed indigenously
l. Establishment of Central Advisory Council: by the Directorate of Naval Design, Delhi and bear
To advise the Central Government on testimony to the acclaimed legacy of Na va l
implementation of the Act, recommend designers. With a displacement of 7300 tons, each
policy, protection of consumer interest and ship will be spanning 163 meters in length and17.4
to foster growth and development of the real meters at the beam and will be propelled by four
estate sector; gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots.
m. Establishment of Real Estate Appellate The P15B destroyers incorporate new
Tribunal: Real Estate Appellate Tribunal to designconcepts for improved survivability, sea
hear appeals from orders of the Authority and keeping, stealth and maneuverability. Enhanced
the adjudicating officer. The Appellate stealth features have been achieved through shaping
Tribunal is to be headed by a sitting or retired of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings
Judge of the High Court, with one judicial which make these ships difficult to detect. These
and one administrative/technical member; ships will be equipped to carry and operate two
n. Punitive Provisions: Punitive provisions multiple role helicopters.
including de-registration of the project and These ships are also packed with anarray of
penalties in case of contravention of state of the art weapons and sensors, including
provisions of the Bill or the orders of the vertically launched missile system for long distance
Authority or Tribunal; engagement of shore and sea-based targets. With
o. Bar of Jurisdiction Courts: Provision for significant indigenous content, these ships are a true
barring jurisdiction of court and any hallmark of selfreliance attained by our country in
authority from entertaining complaints in warship design and ship building.
respect of matters covered under the Bill;
p. Pow er to make Rules and Regulations: Kerala Government launches
Appropriate Government to have powers to Subodham Project to end alcohol abuse
make rules over subjects specified in the Bill; Aimed at cleansing the state of alcohol and
Regulatory Authority to have powers to make drug abuse, the Kerala government has launched a
regulations; project ‘Subodham’ which will help people overcome
Navy launches stealth destroyer INS substance addiction.
Visakhapatnam The project was launched by Chief Minister
Oommen Chandy and Art of Living Foundation
INS Visakhapatnam, the Indian Navy’s most founder Sri Sri Ravishankar in the presence of
powerful and lethal destroyer was launched into religious leaders, representatives of student
water for the first time on 20th April at Mazgaon
organisations and NGOs working against drug
Dock in Mumbai. The ship was launched from Slip
abuse.
Way No. 2 in MDL, Mumbai. It is to be
commissioned in 2018, and has indigenous Key Facts
component of over 70 per cent. It has been made • The Subodham campaign aims to free one
of Indian Steel manufactured by the Steel Authority lakh people from drug and alcohol addiction

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each year. Subodham heralds the in the house of a contestant also added in the
• first step towards Punarjani 2030 Project, a parent act by amending section 19.
state government initiative to completely International Paralympic
eradicate the menace of substance abuse in Committee suspends PCI
Kerala
• The Subodham is supported by the International Paralympic Committee has
UNICEF, as well as, several religious leaders, suspended Indian Paralympic Committee for
non-governmental organisations and other indefinite period of time. The IPC has taken this
stake holders. decision after PCI had provided shoddy treatment
• The state education department, meanwhile, to athletes during the National Para-Athletics
agreed to include anti-drug and alcohol Championships held in Ghaziabad from March 20
awareness content in the state curriculum to 22, 2015.
from the next academic year. In a letter dated April 15, the IPC said, “the
Rajasthan became the first State in the country situation in the PCI has been chaotic for several years
to fix a minimum educational qualification for now, which is mostly due to individual conflicts at
contesting elections to the Panchayati Raj the national level between different groups and
Institutions. persons.”
The Assembly passed the Rajasthan Panchayati Meanwhile the Union Sports Ministry has also
Raj (amendment) Bill, 2015, which makes Class issued a show cause notice over the alleged ‘poor
VIII pass mandatory for the post of sarpanch — conduct’ of the 15th National para athletics
except in tribal reserved areas, where the minimum championship in Ghaziabad last month.
qualification is Class V — and Class X for Zila The sports ministry said there were various
Parishad or Panchayat Samiti elections. complaints regarding the poor conduct of the
The amendments to Section 19 of the Ghaziabad meet, and the Sports Authority of India
Rajasthan Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 also make a (SAI) found in its enquiry that besides the lack of
functional toilet mandatory in the house of a other provisions, “the venue did not have facilities
contestant. for the conduct of a national championship and also
lacked allied facilities required for differently-abled
Key provisions of the bill athletes such as ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and
• Contestant for Zila Parishad or Panchayat lodging.”
Samiti elections should have the minimum
OIL commissions 54 MW Commercial Wind
qualification of secondary education i.e. Class
Energy Project in Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh
10 from the state board or any approved
institution or board. Oil India Limited (OIL), India’s second largest
• Contestant for the Sarpanch elections must National Exploration & Production Company, has
have passed Class VIII from any school in completed another vital milestone in its quest to
case of general category. becoming a Sustainability driven Energy Company,
• In case of the scheduled area of Panchayat, committed to exploring clean energy solutions for
the contestant should have passed Class 5 the nation. In doing so, OIL has successfully
from a school to become a Sarpanch. commissioned its third commercial Wind Energy
• The provision of mandatory functional toilet Project, viz. a 54 MW Project in the states of Gujarat
and Madhya Pradesh.

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Out of the total capacity of 54 MW, the each 60 MW (180 MW) capacity and 2 Turbo
project is split between a 16 MW capacity generators of 67.5 (135MW) each taking the total
operational site at Patan in Gujarat and a 38 MW captive power generation capacity of 315 MW. In
capacity operational site at Chandgarh in Madhya order to efficiently utilize the surplus Blast Furnace
Pradesh. The Patan, Gujarat wing of the project was Gas (BFG), the state-of-the-art technology Boiler
commissioned on 26th March, 2015, while the Turbo Generator(BTG) Power Plant designed for
Chandgarh, M.P. site was commissioned on 31st firing 100% BFG and Coke Oven Gas for the new
March, 2015. The Project, fully funded by OIL, is captive power plant of 120 MW capacity.
being run by M/s Gamesa Wind Turbines Pvt. Ltd.,
Govt amends norms for
Chennai, who are the Project developers. The Project
financial support to PPP in infra
Management consultants are M/s Power & Energy
Consultants, New Delhi. The total cost of the The Government of India approved
project is Rs. 126.5 Crore for the Gujarat side and amendments to the Public Private Partnership (PPP)
Rs. 312.45 Crore for the M.P. location. guidelines to enhance financial support to projects
With this, OIL’s present installed capacity in the infrastructure sector.
under the Renewable Energy domain (Commercial The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Wind Energy and Solar Energy projects) stands at (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
an impressive 126.60 MW. has approved the change in the definition of a
‘Private Sector Company’ in the guidelines for
RINL builds “120 MW
financial support to PPP in Infrastructure under the
Pollution free Captive Power Plant”
Viability Gap Funding Scheme (VGF Scheme).
RINL, the corporate entity of Vizag Steel
Amendments Approved
Plant (VSP) crossed another milestone by launching
a novel project to generate a “Completely pollution The definition of a Private Sector Company
free 120 MW Power with 100% Blast Furnace Gas means a company which is not a Government
and Coke Oven Gas”, the first of its kind in Indian Company. In this case Government company is
Steel Industry. defined as any company in which more than 51 per
It is first of its kind green project launched in cent of the paid-up share capital is held by the
Indian Steel Industry that can generate pollution free Union Government or State(s) Government or
captive power using 100 per cent Blast Furnace Gas partly by Union Government and partly by State
and Coke Oven Gas. The plant consists of state-of- Government (s). It also includes a company which
the-art Boiler Turbo Generator (BTG) Power Plant is a subsidiary company of such a Government
technology in order to efficiently utilise the surplus company.
Blast Furnace Gas (BFG). This Power Plant is Gujarat Government passes GUJCO Bill 2015
designed for firing 100 per cent BFG and Coke
Oven Gas for the new captive power plant of 120 The Gujarat Government has passed a
MW-capacity. The plant is built at a cost of Rs 676 stringent anti-terror Bill retaining controversial
crore. It will help VSP to move step towards provisions that had twice earlier led to a previous
achieving self-sufficiency in power generation and to such Bill being rejected by the President.
reduce dependency on the State Grid in the process The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and
of steel making. Organised Crime (GUJCO) Bill 2015 makes only
RINL currently having 3 Turbo Generators minor changes in the controversial Gujarat Control

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of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, including • The reports laid in the house by the
adding the word ‘terrorism’ in the name. However, committees, information about government
it retains clauses such as permitting admissibility of notification, budget speech and salary and
evidence collected through interception of mobile perks’ drawn by members will be viewed on
calls of an accused or through confessions made the apps.
before an investigating officer, in a court of law. • The information provided on the apps could
be corrected on line.
Key facts
• To access the apps, wi-fi service will be made
• GCTOC Bill, 2015 is a modified version of available to the members in side assembly
the original 2003 Gujarat Control of complex during the session.
Organized Crime Bill. It still contains the The hi-tech E-Vidhan system will help state
provisions that had led to its rejection by
government to save 8 crore rupees per annum spent
Presidents in the past.
on the paper. Next phase i.e. part two of E-Vidhan
• The bill aims to empower the law enforcing Mobile apps will be launched later. Part two of E-
authorities to intercept and record phone Vidhan Mobile apps will facilitate MLAs in their
calls as evidence. It also puts the onus of constituency management works. It will also help to
proving the innocence on an accused. Clause attend grievances of the people online and also
14 of the Bill mentions that evidence
interact with officials of the constituency.
collected through interception of wire,
electronic or oral communication shall be Delhi Governemnt bans
admissible as evidence against the accused in all for chewable tobacco
the court. Delhi Government has banned sale, purchase,
Himachal Pradesh Government launched storage and manufacturing of all forms of chewable
India’s first E-Vidhan Mobile apps tobacco including guktha and pan masala containing
tobacco. In this regard, Delhi Government led by
Himachal Pradesh Government on 30 March
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has issued
2015 launched part one of E-Vidhan Mobile apps.
notification banning all products of chewable
E-Vidhan Mobile apps will enable all 68 members
tobacco in all forms. The ban on all such products
of state assembly to get the entire House business
will continue for next one year owing to public
on their smartphones and tablets, laid in the House
interest and thereafter, government will extend the
45 minutes before the beginning of the daily
ban all these products every year. To implement the
proceedings. With this Himachal Pradesh Vidhan
ban various citizen’s monitoring committees will be
Sabha became the first state assembly in the country
formed in every constituency in order to educate the
to launch this app to facilitate smart-working.
masses.
Key facts Health Department officials said that there
• The app will provide notifications of the was a Delhi government notification in September
Vidhan Sabha’s press releases, bulletins, 2012 which was in pursuance of series of directions
budget speeches, documents and the bills from the Supreme Court to ban gutkha in New
tabled in the House to members. Delhi.
• The bills introduced or laid for discussion in But since the ban mentioned the term gutkha,
assembly will be made available to the the tobacco retailers started selling the components
members. of gutkha (betel nut and raw tobacco) in separate

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pouches. So, the purpose of banning gutkha was not • The beneficiary can go to the portal of the
served. department, http://nfs.delhi.gov.in, enter the
The new proposal bans all the raw chewable ration card number and other basic
tobacco products in Delhi and takes strict action information and get a password on
against the violators. But no such ban has been cellphone. After entry of this password, the
enforced on cigarettes in Delhi. e-ration card will be generated which can be
stored in the electronic form and used to get
Rajasthan Government passes Camel the ration supplies. It can also be printed by
Slaughter Bill the beneficiary from anywhere.
Legislative Assembly passed by a voice vote a Railway Ministry constitutes a
bill to stop camel slaughter in the state. The Committee to review PPP cell in Railway
Rajasthan Camel (Prohibition of Slaughter and
The Ministry of Railways has constituted a
Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Bill,
Committee headed by Shri Ajay Shankar, IAS
2015 was passed after a short debate.
(Retd.), former Secretary, Department of Industrial
The bill bans the slaughter, trading and Policy & Promotion (Govt. of India) to review the
unauthorised transportation of camels in the state. existing Public Private Partnership (PPP) Cell in the
It also prescribes rigorous punishment for its Railway Board. The Committee will recommend
violation including five years of rigorous measures needed to make the Cell more effective,
imprisonment along with monetary fine. Causing customer friendly and result oriented. The
injury to camel is also punishable as per the bill. Infrastructure Directorate of Railway Board will be
Delhi Government the Nodal Directorate for functioning of the
launches e-Ration Card service Committee and Executive Director/Traffic (PPP)
Railway Board will be the Secretary to the
Delhi Government has launched first e-ration Committee.
card service in India to curb the corruption and
increase transparency in the system. The scheme was Central Govt constitutes a committee to work
launched by the Delhi Chief Minister Arivind out single framework for govt clearances
Kejriwal. The scheme for linking ration and Aadhaar The government plans to ease the process of
cards would enable the beneficiaries of Public getting clearances through a broad legal framework
Distribution System (PDS) to get the cards online across sectors. A committee under former industry
from the government’s web portal without hassles. secretary Ajay Shankar has been set up to prepare a
draft of the proposed legislation.
Key Facts The committee, which has Airtel vice-
• The new arrangement would cut down the president Manoj Kohli and Confederation of Indian
delays in preparation and delivery to the Industry secretary-general Chandrajeet Banerjee as
beneficiaries. members, would examine the possibility of replacing
• As soon as an application for providing food multiple prior permission with pre-existing
security is approved by the Food Supply regulatory mechanism. The committee has been
Officer concerned, a message will go to the asked to submit its report in a month.
cellphone number of the beneficiary The 11-member committee will study the
informing him or her about approval of requirement of various prior permissions after
application and ration card. preparing an exhaustive inventory of such clearances.

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103 || Year Book 2015

It will also recommend a framework of the proposed programme where he will interact with the
regulatory mechanism. Telangana, the newest state, Government of India Secretaries, and Chief
has become the first state in the country to make Secretaries through Video-conferencing
faster clearances a statutory right. While approving enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals;
the industrial policy for the state in November 2014, • The first such programme was launched on
the state Assembly adopted the Right to Single- 25th March, 2015 (Wednesday) at 3.30 PM;
Window Clearance on the lines of Right to • Now onwards, it will be held once in every
Information. Telangana State Industrial Project month on Fourth Wednesday at 3.30 PM-
Approval and Self-certification System has been set to be known as PRAGATI Day.
up for this purpose. • Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked
PM launches PRAGATI up from the available database regarding
Platform for redressal of Grievances Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and
pending Projects;
Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi • The system will ride on, strengthen and re-
launched his ambitious multi-purpose and multi- engineer the data bases of the CPGRAMS for
modal platform PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance grievances, Project Monitoring Group
And Timely Implementation). PRAGATI is a (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and
unique integrating and interactive platform. The Programme Implementation. PRAGATI
platform is aimed at addressing common man’s provides an interface and platform for all
grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and these three aspects.
reviewing important programmes and projects of the • It will also take into consideration various
Government of India as well as projects flagged by correspondences to PM’s office by the
State Governments. common people or from high dignitaries of
The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles States and/or developers of public projects;
three latest technologies: Digital data management, • The issues flagged are uploaded seven days
video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology. It prior to the PRAGATI day (i.e. on third
also offers a unique combination in the direction of Wednesday of every month).
cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage • These issues can be viewed by the Union
the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries
Secretaries of the States. With this, the Prime after entering into the application;
Minister is able to discuss the issues with the • User ID and Password for each of the Union
concerned Central and State officials with full Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries
information and latest visuals of the ground level have been created and made available;
situation. Such an effort has never been made in • Union Government Secretaries and Chief
India. It is also an innovative project in e-governance Secretaries will be able to see the issues
and good governance. pertaining to their Department /State;
Key features of the PRAGATI application are • Union Government Secretaries and Chief
as follows: Secretaries have to put their comments and
• It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union updates about the flagged issues within three
G ov ernment Secretaries, and Chief days (i.e. by next Monday);
Secretaries of the States); • One day - Tuesday is available to the PMO
• Prime Minister will hold a monthly team to review the data entered by the Union

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G overnment Secretaries and Chief Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is
Secretaries; unconstitutional in its entirety.
• The design is such, that when PM reviews the In the judgment, the court said the liberty of
issue he should have on his screen the issue thought and expression was a cardinal value of
as well as the latest updates and visuals paramount significance under the Constitution.
regarding the same; Three concepts fundamental in understanding the
The system has been designed in-house by the reach of this right were discussion, advocacy and
PMO team with the help of National Informatics incitement. Discussion, or even advocacy, of a
Center (NIC). As the name suggests, it is aimed at particular cause, no matter how unpopular it was,
starting a culture of Pro-Active Governance and was at the heart of the right to free speech and it
Timely Implementation. It is also a robust system was only when such discussion or advocacy reached
for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability the level of incitement that it could be curbed on
with real-time presence and exchange among the key the ground of causing public disorder.
stakeholders. The court then went on to say that Section
Union Government launches Twitter Samvad 66A actually had no proximate connection with
public order or with incitement to commit an
The Union government launched a new offence. “The information disseminated over the
platform, in association with Twitter, for direct Internet need not be information which ‘incites’
communication among leaders, government agencies anybody at all. Written words may be sent that may
and citizens through tweets and text messages, be purely in the realm of ‘discussion’ or ‘advocacy’
helping boost e-governance plans. To start with, the of a ‘particular point of view’. Further, the mere
service has 16 partners, including Prime Minister causing of annoyance, inconvenience, danger, etc.,
Narendra Modi; the Chief Ministers of Andhra or being grossly offensive or having a menacing
Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, character are not offences under the [Indian] Penal
Chandrababu Naidu, Anandiben Patel, Akhilesh Code at all,” the court held.
Yadav and Mamata Banerjee, respectively; the Striking down Section 66A of the Information
Railway Ministry; and the Bengaluru City Police. Technology Act as unconstitutional, the Supreme
Through Twitter Samvad, a set of curated Court rejected the Centre’s plea that it was
Tweets will be delivered every day from the accounts committed to free speech and would ensure that the
of the government and the leaders to mobile-phone provision was administered in a reasonable manner.
users across the country as text messages. The service The Bench turned down a plea to strike down
can come in handy during emergencies as sections 69A and 79 of the Act, which deal with the
government agencies can share live updates, even procedure and safeguards for blocking certain
time-sensitive information on law and order or w ebsites and exemption from liability of
rescue. Twitter Samvad is based on a platform intermediaries in certain cases, respectively.
provided by ZipDial, an Indian company recently
acquired by Twitter, making this its first Indian About 66A of IT Act
service launched using indigenous technology. 66-A provides Punishment for sending
Section 66A of the offensive messages through communication service,
IT Act is unconstitutional: SC etc. Any person who sends, by means of a computer
resource or a communication device,—
Apex court of India of India has declared

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105 || Year Book 2015

(a) any information that is grossly offensive or National Perspective Plan under both
has menacing character; or Himalayan and Peninsular components, the
(b) any information which he knows to be false, task force would also consider alternative
but for the purpose of causing annoyance, plans in place of infeasible links in the
inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, present plan.
injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred • The Task Force would facilitate interlinking
or ill will, persistently by making use of such of intra-state and intra-basin Rivers also
2 computer resource or a communication along with that of inter-state and inter-basin
device; or links.
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message • The Task Force would recommend the time
for the purpose of causing annoyance or schedules for completion of feasibility studies
inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the and DPR’s of all the links, implementation
addressee or recipient about the origin of schedule of all the links and also suggest on
such messages, various means of funding mechanisms for the
Interlinking of Rivers.
Task Force on
Interlinking of Rivers Constituted • The Task Force would also provide guidance
on norms of appraisal of individual projects
Ministry of Water Resources, River in respect of economic viability, socio-
Development & Ganga Rejuvenation has economic, environmental impacts and
constituted a ‘Task Force’ on Interlinking of Rivers preparation of resettlement plans.
comprising experts and senior officials to look into • It would also device suitable mechanisms for
the issues relating to Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) in bringing about speedy consensus amongst the
the country. The Task Force would be chaired by states and also proposes suitable
Shri. BN Navalawala. organizational structure for implementing the
Terms of References of task force Interlinking of Rivers.
• The Task Force would also try to forge a
• The Task Force will take up all issues for consensus amongst the states in order to take
expediting the work on interlinking of rivers forward the speedy implementation of the
in the Country. Apart from examining the Interlinking of Rivers Program.
existing links that are laid out as per the

National Water Development Agency


National Water Development Agency (NWDA) was set up in July, 1982 as Autonomous Society
under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, to carry out the water balance and other studies on a
scientific and realistic basis for optimum utilisation of Water Resources of the Peninsular rivers system
for preparation of feasibility reports and thus to give concrete shape to Peninsular Rivers Development
Component of National Perspective. In 1990, NWDA was also entrusted with the task of Himalayan
Rivers Development Component of National Perspectives. Recently, the functions of NWDA have
been further modified and the work of preparation of detailed Project Reports (DPR) of various link
proposals and Pre-feasibility Reports and feasibility reports of intra-State links as proposed by the
States have been included in the functions of NWDA.

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FUNCTIONS OF NWDA
(a) To carry out detailed surveys and investigations of possible reservoir sites and interconnecting
links in order to establish feasibility of the proposal of Peninsular Rivers Development and
Himalayan Rivers Development components forming part of National Perspective for Water
Resources Development prepared by the then Ministry of Irrigation (now Ministry of Water
Resources) and Central Water Commission.
(b) To carry out detailed surveys about the quantum of water in various Peninsular River Systems
and Himalayan River Systems which can be transferred to other basins/States after meeting the
reasonable needs of basin/states in the foreseeable future.
(c) To prepare feasibility report of the various components of the scheme relating to Peninsular
Rivers development and Himalayan Rivers development.
(d) To prepare detailed project report of river link proposals under National Perspective Plan for
Water Resources Development after concurrence of the concerned States.
(e) To prepare pre-feasibility/feasibility report of the intra-state links as may be proposed by the
States.
(f) To do all such other things the Society may consider necessary, incidental, supplementary or
conducive to the attainment of above objectives.

Cabinet approves Atal Mission for Each state will shortlist a certain number of smart
Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation to city aspirants as per the norms to be indicated and
drive economic growth they will prepare smart city proposals for further
evaluation for extending Central support.
In a determined bid to recast the urban
landscape of the country to make urban areas more This Mission of building 100 smart cities
livable and inclusive besides driving the economic intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for
growth, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime efficient use of available assets, resources and
Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved Central infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the
Government spending of about one lakh crore on quality of urban life and providing a clean and
urban development under two new urban missions sustainable environment. Special emphasis will be
over the next five years. The Cabinet has approved given to participation of citizens in prioritizing and
the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for planning urban interv entions. It will be
Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation of 500 implemented through ‘area based’ approach
cities (AMRUT) with outlays of Rs.48,000 crore and consisting of retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city
Rs.50,000 crore respectively. initiatives and development of new cities. Under
retrofitting, deficiencies in an identified area will be
Under the Smart Cities Mission, each selected
addressed through necessary interventions as in the
city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per
case of Local Area Plan for downtown Ahmedabad.
year for five years. Smart City aspirants will be
Redevelopment enables reconstruction of already
selected through a ‘City Challenge Competition’
built-up area that is not amenable for any
intended to link financing with the ability of the interventions, to make it smart, as in the case of
cities to perform to achieve the mission objectives.
Bhendi Bazar of Mumbai and West Kidwai Nagar

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107 || Year Book 2015

in New Delhi. Pan-city components could be monitoring. States will only submit State Annual
interventions like Intelligent Transport Solutions that Action Plans to the Centre for broad concurrence
benefits all residents by reducing commuting time. based on which funds will be released. In a
Under smart cities initiative, focus will be on significant departure from JNNURM, Central
core infrastructure services like: Adequate and clean Government will not appraise individual projects.
Water supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Central assistance will be to the extent of 50
Management, Efficient Urban Mobility and Public percent of project cost for cities and towns with a
Transportation, Affordable housing for the poor, population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the
power supply, robust IT connectivity, Governance, project cost for those with a population of above 10
especially e-governance and citizen participation, lakh. Central assistance will be released in three
safety and security of citizens, health and education instalments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on
and sustainable urban environment. Smart City achievement of milestones indicated in State Annual
Action Plans will be implemented by Special Purpose Action Plans. AMRUT seeks to lay a foundation to
Vehicles(SPV) to be created for each city and state enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart
governments will ensure steady stream of resources cities.
for SPVs.
Import duty on sugar increased from 25
The two missions are interlinked. AMRUT percent to 40 percent
adopts a project approach to ensure basic
infrastructure services relating to water supply, The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime
sewerage, septage management, storm water drains, Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, gave its approval
transport and development of green spaces and parks toincrease import duty on sugar from 25 percent to
with special provision for meeting the needs of 40 percent. In order improve the price sentiments
children. Implementation of this Mission will be relating to sugar, the Government has decided to
linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e- take the following steps:
governance, constitution of professional municipal (1) The duty on import of sugar under the Open
cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local General License (OGL) shall be increased to
bodies, review of Building bye-laws, improvement 40 percent, as against the current level of 25
in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, percent. This would prevent any imports in
credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water case international prices of sugar were to
audit and citizen-centric urban planning. depress further.
10 percent of budget allocation will be given (2) The “Duty Free Import Authorization”
to States/UTs as incentive based on achievement of scheme (DFIA), for sugar would be
reforms during the previous year. A reform matrix withdrawn. Under the DFIA, exporters of
with timelines would be circulated to States in the sugar could import duty free, permissible
Guidelines. This Mission will be implemented in quantities of raw sugar for subsequent
500 cities and towns each with a population of one processing and disposal. To prevent leakage
lakh and above, some cities situated on stems of of sugar made from such duty free imports
main rivers, a few capital cities and important cities in the domestic markets, the DFIA scheme
located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas. for sugar would be withdrawn.
(3) Similarly, the period for discharging Export
Under this Mission, States get the flexibility
Obligations under the Ad vanced
of designing schemes based on the needs of
Authorization Scheme for sugar would be
identified cities and in their execution and
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reduced to six months, so as to prevent any (Amendment) Bill, 2013, pending before the Rajya
possibility of any leakage into the domestic Sabha by moving official amendments. The
markets. proposed amendments would fill in perceived gaps
(4) Removal of excise duty on ethanol supplied in the domestic anti-corruption law and also help
for blending. It has been decided that ethanol in meeting the country’s obligations under the
produced from molasses generated during the United Nations Convention Against Corruption
next sugar season and supplied for ethanol (UNCAC) more effectively.
blending would be exempted from excise The proposed amendments are mainly aimed
duty and the price benefit would be passed at laying down more stringent measures to tackle
on the to the sugar mills/distilleries.Presently corruption as follows:
12.36 percent central excise duty is levied. • Providing for more stringent punishment for
These measures will significantly improve the the offences of bribery, both for the bribe
adverse price sentiments in respect of sugar and giver and the bribe taker.
would improve the liquidity in the industry,
• Penal provisions being enhanced from
facilitating the clearing up of arrears of canedues to
minimum 6 months to 3 years and from
farmers.
maximum 5 years to 7 years (The seven year
Background imprisonment brings corruption to the
heinous crime category).
The past four years have witnessed continued
overproduction of sugar as compared to domestic • To contain gain of benefits from profits of
requirements. This has depressed sugar prices; corruption, the powers of attachment are
proposed to be conferred upon the trial
consequently the mills have been constrained for
liquidity and are facing difficulties in clearing cane Court (Special Judge) instead of the District
dues ow ed to the farmers. This has affected the Court.
incomes of 50 million sugar cane farmers. Similar • Expanding the ambit of provision for
conditions of subdued prices prevail in the global containing inducement of public servant
markets. The Government has, from time to time, from individuals to commercial entities is
provided financial assistance to the industry to being added to contain supply side of
overcome liquidity constraints such as providing corruption.
interest free working capital loans and incentives for • Providing for issue of guidelines for
raw sugar exports. However, due to adverse price commercial organizations to prevent persons
sentiments plaguing the sector, problems of cane associated with them from bribing a public
dues arrears persist. As on 31stMarch 2015, the cane servant.
dues arrears stood at Rs.20,099 crore which is • The average trial period of cases under PC
higher than the previous year. Act in the last 4 years has been above 8 years.
It is proposed to ensure speedy trial by
Cabinet approves amendments in providing a trial completion within 2 years.
Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 • Intentional enriching by public servants will
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime be construed as criminal misconduct and
Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, gave its approval to possession of disproportionate assets as proof
amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by of such illicit enrichment.
pursuing the Prevention of Corruption • Non-monetary gratification has been covered
within the definition of the word
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gratification. introduction of the Compensatory Afforestation


• By way of explanation 2 to section 7(2), the Fund Bill, 2015 in Parliament during the current
obligation of a public servant has been session. The proposed legislation seeks to provide an
explicitly delineated such that the public appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the
servant deters from violating a statutory duty Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to
or any set of rules, government policies, ensure expeditious utilization in efficient and
executive instructions and procedures. transparent manner of amounts realised in lieu of
It is also proposed to extend the protection of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. This
prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest
cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation land.
etc.Fu rther, prior sanction for inquiry and The proposed legislation also seeks to provide
investigation shall be required from the Lokpal or safety, security and, transparency in utilization of
Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of these amounts, which currently are being kept in
offences relatable to recommendations made or Nationalised Banks and are being managed by an
decision taken by a public servant in discharge of ad-hoc body. These amounts would be brought
official functions or duties. within broader focus of both Parliament and State
Legislatures and in greater public view, by
Background
transferring them to non-lapsable interest bearing
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was funds, to be created under public accounts of the
enacted in the year 1988. Later developments, such Union of India and each State.
as, India ratifying the UNCAC, international The proposed legislation will also ensure
practice on treatment of the offence of bribery and expeditious utilization of accumulated unspent
corruption, etc. necessitated a review of the existing amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory
provisions of the Act, so as to bring it in line with Afforestation Fund Management and Planning
current international practice and also to meet, more Authority (CAMPA), which presently is of the order
effectively, the country’s obligations under the of Rs. 38,000 crore, and fresh accrual of
UNCAC. The Prevention of Corruption compensatory levies and interest on accumulated
(Amendment) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the unspent balance, which will be of the order of
Rajya Sabha for the purpose on 19.08.2013. The approximately Rs. 6,000 crore per annum, in an
Department Related Parliamentary Standing efficient and transparent manner.
Committee submitted its report on the Bill to the Utilization of these amounts, will facilitate
Rajya Sabha on 06.02.2014 but the Bill could not timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate
be passed. As the Bill contemplates an important impact of diversion of forest land, for which these
paradigm shift in defining offences relating to amounts have been realised. Apart from mitigating
bribery, the views of the Law Commission of India
the impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of
were also sought on the proposed amendments. these amounts will also result in creation of
Further amendments are proposed in the Bill as productive assets and generation of huge
recommended by the Law Commission of India in employment opportunities in rural areas, especially
its 254th Report. in backward tribal areas.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 Expenditure of the National CAMPA is
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for proposed to be met from the funds to be retained
in the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund
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(CAF) from the accumulated funds transferred to it benefit approximately 20 lakh pensioners under
by the ad-hoc CAMPA, and the funds to be EPS, 1995.
transferred, on yearly basis, to the National CAF
Background
from a part of the funds credited by user agencies
directly into State CAFs. The proposal, therefore, A large number of member pensioners under
does not involve any additional expenditure on the the EPS, 1995 receive low pensions which is not
Centre. commensurate with the growing cost of living. The
The Bill provides for among other things:- primary reason behind a meager pension is that it
i. Establishment of the National CAF and the is calculated on the basis of pensionable service and
State CAFs to credit amounts collected by average of last sixty months’ wages. If either of them
State Governments and Union Territory is low, the pension amount will also be low. This is
Administrations to compensate loss of forest largely seen in cases of employees of seasonal
land diverted for non-forest purpose. industries. Further, pensioners who were earlier
ii. Constitution of a National Authority to members of the erstwhile Family Pension Scheme,
manage and utilise amounts credited to the 1971 have been given past service benefits for
National CAF. determining pension as per Para 12 of the
iii. Constitution of a State Authority in each Employees’ Pension Scheme. This has resulted in
State and Union Territory to manage and fixation of low pension for these pensioners.
utilise the amounts credited to the State The Union Cabinet has in its meeting in
CAFs. February, 2014 accorded approval to the proposal
iv. Establishment of a Monitoring Group to for ensuring a minimum pension of Rs. 1,000/- per
assist the National Authority in monitoring month for the pensioners of EPS for the financial
and evaluation of activities undertaken from year 2014-15 by way of providing budgetary support
amounts released from the National CAF and of Rs. 1217.03 crore. Based on the approval of the
State CAFs. Union Cabinet, the Employees’ Pension Scheme,
1995 (EPS) was amended on 19.08.2014 to
Union Government approves continuation of incorporate the provision for providing a minimum
minimum pension of Rs 1000 per moth pension of Rs. 1,000/- per month for the financial
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for year 2014-15.
continuation of the minimum pension of Rs. 1,000/ TRAI Releases Draft Telecom Consumers
- per month to the pensioners of Employees’ Pension Protection (Eighth Amendment)
Scheme, 1995 (EPS) beyond the financial year Regulations, 2015
2014-15 on perpetual basis. Currently, it is effective
only upto March, 2015. The Cabinet also approved Telecom Regulator y Authority of India
corresponding grant of continuous annual budgetary (TRAI) has released draft “Telecom Consumers
support for implementing the minimum pension Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015”
which will be to the tune of Rs. 850 crore per year for public consultation, inviting comments of
on a tapering basis. Stakeholders.
Providing a minimum pension of Rs. 1000/- TRAI has been receiving several complaints
per month is an effort to provide meaningful from consumers regarding non-availability of
subsistence to pensioners who have served in the information relating to the amount of data used
organized sector. The present proposal is likely to during a data session. The service providers offer

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concessional tariff for data, upto a certain limit, toll free short code 1925, following the
through Special Tariff Vouchers or Combo Vouchers prescribed procedures for obtaining explicit
(data packs) and also through certain tariff plans. As consent of the consumer and for deactivation
generally, the tariff for any usage beyond the data. Further, the customers should also be
specified limit is substantially higher, in case the informed through SMS at periodic interval,
customer does not know about reaching the limit not exceeding six months, about the
for concessional tariff, it results in substantial charges prescribed procedure for deactivation of data.
levied, leading to sudden bill shock or unexpected PM joins Chinese
deduction of balance amount. The consumers have Social media platform Weibo
also voiced their concern about activation of internet
service on mobile phones without their consent and The Prime Minister is an avid and active user
knowledge leading to sudden deduction of charges of social media for several years now. He has used
for data usage. TRAI has examined these complaints diverse social media platforms to reach out to people
and has felt that measures need to be taken for across India and the world. From sharing updates
addressing these genuine concerns of customers. In on working of the government, policy deliberations,
this regard, TRAI proposes to amend the Telecom his own thoughts, greetings and replies to well-
Consumers Protection Regulations, 2012, to provide wishers, the Prime Minister’s social media outreach
for the following, so as to protect the interest of has been lauded all over the world. He has also been
mobile consumers: using info-graphics and videos to share the various
(i) I nformation to consumers r elating to efforts of the Indian government in the past one
usage of data: It is proposed to mandate the year.
service providers to provide information, The Prime Minister’s Office also maintains a
through SMS or USSD, to mobile users, who strong presence on social media. This is in sync with
have subscribed to data connection other his vision of a digital India, where technology plays
than through data packs, about quantum of a pivotal role in Governance and policy making.
data used and the tariff thereof after every Mr Modi would be visiting China later this
5000 kilobytes of data usage. month on a bilateral visit. In September 2014, he
(ii) It is also proposed to mandate the service welcomed President Xi Jinping on a visit to India.
providers to provide the mobile subscriber, Later in November 2014 the Prime Minister met
who has taken data connection through data Premier Le Keqiang in Myanmar. Both meetings
packs or through tariff plan with discounted were very productive and the leaders discussed
tariff upto certain limit, an alert through several ways to enhance ties between India and
SMS or USSD, whenever the limit of data China. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Modi had
usage reaches 50%, 90% and 100% of data travelled to China in November 2011 as well.
limit. Also when the usage reaches 90% of
the limit, information about the applicable Union Government inaugurates 47th Science
tariff beyond the data limit shall also to be Centre and Planetarium in Puducherry
communicated. The Union inaugurated the first ever Science
(iii) A c t i vvaa t i o n o r D eactiv ation of data Centre and Planetarium in the Union Territory of
ser vices:
services:
vices:It is proposed that data services Puducherry. The Science Centre and Planetarium
should be activated or deactivated only with has been set up by the National Council of Science
the explicit consent of the subscriber through Museums (NCSM) of Ministry of Culture.

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The Science Centre Puducherry is the 47th inter alia includes the component of AYUSH
Science Centre in the country which has been services, where there is provision of financial
opened to the public and the 48th Science Centre assistance for co-location of AYUSH facilities at
in Dehradun shall be opened shortly. The Council Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community
is currently in the process of developing 21 more Health Centers (CHCs) and District Hospitals
science centres in different parts of the country. The (DHs), upgradation of existing Government
NCSM also runs 23 Mobile exhibition units for AYUSH hospitals, setting up of 50 bedded
operating in rural areas. Over 13.5 million visitors integrated AYUSH hospitals and supply of essential
visit these centres annually and 2.5 million rural d rugs to AYUSH hospitals and dispensaries
children benefit from its mobile science exhibition including Homoeopathy system.
units. An amount of Rs 2312.205 lakhs (Rs.
Measures for Promotion of Homoeopathy 1778.285 Lakh as central Share and Rs. 533.92
lakhs as State share) has been indicated as resource
The Central Government has constituted pool for the year 2015-16 to the state of Rajasthan
Central Council of Homoeopathy under the under National AYUSH Mission (NAM) including
provisions of Homeopathy Central Council Act, Homoeopathy system of Medicine.
1973 to regulate education and practice of
Homoeopathy. Government formulates
Guidelines for setting up of One Stop Centre
The Central Government has also established
an apex Central Council for Research in Ministry of Women and Child Development
Homoeopathy to carry out research activities in (MWCD), has formulated a Centrally Sponsored
different aspects of Homoeopathy. It has a network Scheme for setting up One Stop Centres (OSC), to
of 22 research centers and 05 Homoeopathic be funded from the Nirbhaya Fund. These Centres
treatment centers and is carrying out intramural will be established across the country to provide
research including collaboration with institutes of integrated support and assistance under one roof to
excellence. CCRH is undertaking various public women affected by violence, both in private and
health initiative programmes like ‘Homoeopathy for public spaces in a phased manner. In the first phase,
healthy child’ with Rashtriya Bal Swasthya one OSC will initially be established in each State/
Karyakram (RSBK) launched by Government of UT to facilitate access to an integrated range of
India, and Integrating AYSUH systems services including medical, legal, and psychological
(Homoeopathy) in National Programme for support.The OSC will be integrated with 181 and
prevention and control of Cancer, Diabetes, other existing helplines. The scheme is being
Cardiovascular diseases and stroke. implemented through States/UTs from 1st April
The Central Government has provided 2015.
treatment facilities in Homeopathy under its CGHS For the implementation of the Scheme,
Scheme in seventeen (17) different towns and cities. guidelines have been developed to support
The Central Government is in the process of stakeholders/agencies who would be involved in
establishment of a North Eastern Institute of implementing the Scheme, as well as State, district
Ayurveda and Homoeopathy at Shillong. and grassroot level functionaries. The guidelines are
Government of India has approv ed and intended to serve as a reference manual for officials
notified National AYUSH Mission (NAM) as a at the National and State/ Union Territory (UT)
centrally Sponsored Scheme on 29.09.2014, which levels for policy guidance and monitoring. The

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General Studies (Paper - 1) & CSAT (Paper - 2) Comprehensive Manual:
IAS Preliminary Examination 2015, (Set of 2 Books)

BOOK DETAILS

Medium: English

Price: Rs. 2200 Rs. 2090/-

Publisher: Kalinjar Publications

ISBN NO: 9789351720485

TOPICS OF THE BOOK

CSAT General Studies Manual (Paper - 1)


1. Indian History
2. Indian Polity
3. Indian Economy
4. Geography
5. General Science
6. Environment
7. General Knowledge
8. MCQ For Practice

CSAT Comprehensive Manual (Paper - 2)


1. SOLVED PAPER - 2014
2. SOLVED PAPER - 2013
3. SOLVED PAPER - 2012

 COMPREHENSION & ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION


 INTERPERSONAL & COMMUNICATION SKILLS & DECISION MAKING & PROBLEM SOLVING
 GENERAL MENTAL ABILITY, LOGICAL REASONING & ANALYTICAL ABILITY
 BASIC NUMERACY
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113 || Year Book 2015

guidelines list the services to be provided under the Minister Tarun Gogoi and the Congress in
Scheme, steps and processes/procedures such as Parliament as well as unhappiness from the Hasina
monitoring mechanism at various levels, fund flow, government in Dhaka, the Centre reversed its
reporting, standard operating procedures for decision on excluding Assam from the purview of
handholding of women at OSC etc. its Bill on exchanging land with Bangladesh.
The guidelines also highlight the roles and Recently Union Cabinet has cleared the
responsibilities of various line departments. It Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill 2013, which
provides monitoring and reporting formats to be allow the operationalisation of the 1974 India-
used at different levels. The guidelines are not Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement. The
exhaustive and the feedback received from States/ envisaged exchanged of land includes enclaves and
UTs from time to time will be incorporated as per adverse possessions from West Bengal, Meghalaya,
requirements. Tripura and Assam.
The implementation guidelines have a Army inducts Akash Missile
prescribed proforma, for the submission of proposal
for the establishment OSCs by States/UTs. The The Army inducted the supersonic surface-to-
proposals of States/UTs will be examined by a air missile Akash, capable of targeting aerial threats
Programme Approval Board (PAB) to be constituted up to a range of 25 km.
in the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The missile system, indigenously developed as
The PAB will be headed by the Secretary and will part of the integrated guided-missile development
comprise of inter alia the following members: programme (IGMDP), will replace Russian
• Financial Advisor, Ministry of Women & weaponry some of which have been with the Army
Child Development for almost 50 years and are obsolete.
• Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary of the Akash is designed to neutralise multiple aerial
concerned Bureau in the MWCD targets attacking from several directions
• Director of concerned Division, Ministry of simultaneously. Only a handful of countries other
WCD than India have a SAM system which can engage
• R epresentative of the concerned State multiple targets. These are the United States of
Government America, Russia, a few European nations, Israel and
• Any other expert/statutory body/invitees as Japan. Every Akash system has four 3D passive
co-opted d by Chairperson electronically scanned array (PESA) radars and four
self-propelled launchers with three missiles each, all
The PAB shall be the final authority for
of which are interconnected.Electro-pneumatic servo
accepting, reviewing, and sanctioning of proposals
actuation system controls cruciform wings for agile
for assistance under the scheme. The Scheme
response, and thermal batteries provide onboard
document and implement guidelines of One Stop
pow er supply. The Radio Proximity Fuse has
Centre Scheme are available on the official website
advanced signal processing features. Together with
of the Ministry of Women and Child Development
the pre-fragmented warhead and safety arming
wcd.nic.in
mechanism, the missile has a high kill probability
Assam includes in land of manoeuvring targets.
Swap deal with Bangladesh Akash’s heart is the Battery Level Radar (BLR),
Faced with opposition from Assam Chief known as Rajendra, which tracks the targets and

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missiles and guides the missiles towards the targets. CCI rejects charges of
The multifunction phased array radar can unfair against e-commerce site
simultaneously track upto 64 targets. In addition it
The fair trade watchdog Competition
can guide eight missiles towards four targets at the
Commission of India (CCI) has rejected allegations
same time. Electronically steered beams enable
of unfair business practices against five online retail
agility in switching between various functions of the
majors Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Jabong and
radar. It has a slewing antenna which enables 360
Myntra, as it did not find any prima facie evidence
degree cov erage and has been designed with
of violations. The complaints were filed against
advanced Electronic Counter Countermeasures
Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd., Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd.,
(ECCM) features. Akash missile system is
Xerion Retail Pvt. Ltd., Amazon Seller Services Pvt.
autonomous and its operation is fully automated.
Ltd., and Vector E-commerce Pvt. Ltd.
The system is configured to be cross country mobile
on tracked chasses for the Army or road mobile on It was alleged that e-commerce websites and
Tatra chasses which provides flexibility in product sellers entered into exclusive agreements to
deployment. These missiles will not only protect sell products exclusively on select portals. In recent
military installations but also provide cover to months, there have been rising concerns that
important civilian targets like dams, nuclear power discount sales launched by various e-commerce
plants, government offices, big factories, bridges etc websites, including Flipkart, were anti-competitive
in the event of a war. in nature.

U.N. Security Council meets diplomats that Ukraine has been using
radical neo-Nazi forces to destabilize its
• The U.N. Security Council recently met in
eastern region.
emergency session amid growing violence in
eastern Ukraine, with Western powers and • Russia has tens of thousands of troops massed
Russia blaming each other for the deepening along Ukraine’s eastern border, and there are
fears that Moscow might use the violence in
crisis.
the mainly Russian-speaking region as a
• Russia called the meeting hours after pretext for an invasion, in a repeat of events
Ukrainian Special Forces exchanged gunfire
in Crimea earlier this year.
with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city,
and at least one security officer was killed and U.S. -Taiwan update
five others wounded. Ukraine’s president
• The United States has said it will help Taiwan
accused its powerful neighbour of fomenting to build diesel-electric submarines on its own.
unrest, and announced that it would deploy
• Asked at the committee hearing whether a
armed forces to quash an increasingly bold
policy to build submarines locally has been
pro-Russian insurgency.
finalized, Yen said Taiwan has launched a
• Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied
Western and Ukrainian claims that Moscow plan to build submarines domestically after
was behind the violence, and told U.N. trying to buy U.S. submarines without
success for 13 years.

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• The Ministry of National Defense (MND) of Slaviansk, not far from Kramatorsk.
confirmed that it has begun preparations to • A militia commander in Slaviansk, which is
build submarines on its own and that the under full control of the protesters, told
chances for success would grow if the U.S. Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that the city
could help with project management and had been surrounded by Ukrainian tanks and
technology transfer or even engage in co- armoured vehicles.
production. • In Kiev, two presidential candidates
• The MND said Washington agreed to sell representing eastern Ukraine were attacked
Taiwan submarines in 2001, but no progress by armed far right radicals. Oleg Tsarev, an
has been made on the deal. independent, was severely beaten after
• Pressured by lawmakers across party lines and appearing in a TV show called “Freedom of
the people of the country, the MND has Speech.” The mob demanded that he and the
decided to begin the pre-production phase of other candidate, Mikhail Dobkin, withdraw
the process to show its resolve to defend itself. from the elections scheduled for May 25.
• The ministry said it has exchanged views with • U krainian authorities confirmed that a
the U.S., and Washington has expressed its battalion of newly formed “National Guard”
understanding of Taiwan’s determination to made up of “Maidan activists” had been
build its own submarines. deployed for action against pro-Russian
• It will also seek support from U.S. protesters in the east.
policymakers to help Taiwan with its plans Accord on Ukraine
through bilateral military exchanges.
• Russia, the United States, the European
Military operation in Ukraine Union and Ukraine have agreed on a plan to
• Ukraine has launched a military operation to resolve the crisis in Ukraine through a
crush anti-government protests in the constitutional reform that would grant more
Russian-speaking eastern part of the country, powers to Russian-speaking regions.
deploying thousands of troops, armour and • After eight-hour talks in Geneva, the Foreign
aircraft to Donetsk region where protesters Ministers of the four nations signed a joint
seized government buildings in a dozen cities statement on de-escalation of the Ukraine
and towns. crisis.
• The military, in armoured personnel carriers • Russia, the U.S. and the E.U. have called on
backed by aircraft, stormed a small airfield Ukraine to launch a broad national dialogue
near Kramatorsk. Unconfirmed reports said involving all political forces and all regions
between four and 11 protesters had been with the aim of undertaking a constitutional
killed in the attack. reform.
• Following the attack, hundreds of unarmed • The constitutional reform should provide for
Kramatorsk residents drove to the airfield to “decentralization” of authority, election of
protest against the killing of civilians. regional bodies of power and guaranteeing
• The Russian TV channel Rossiya-24, which the language rights of Russian-speaker.
has several reporters in eastern Ukraine, said • The monitoring mission of the Organisation
about 500 government troops and 20 for Security and Co-operation in Europe,
armoured personnel carriers entered the city which has already been deployed in Ukraine,

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116 || Year Book 2015

must play “the lead role” in assisting the • The maritime Silk Road plan was unveiled
Ukrainian authorities to resolve the crisis. in October last year when President Xi
• The plan, at least on paper, has incorporated Jinping travelled to Southeast Asia. Since
Russia’s main demands for a settlement in then, Chinese officials have highlighted the
Ukraine. initiative as a key diplomatic priority for Mr.
Xi’s government.
Library in Osama bin Laden’s honour
• Nations from Malaysia and Singapore to
• A controversial Pakistani cleric who runs an India, Sri Lanka and the Gulf countries have
Islamic seminary for girls in the capital of all been sounded out about the plan. It had,
Islamabad has named the school’s newly built however, remained unclear what the plan
library in honour of Osama bin Laden. would actually entail.
• The tribute is an unusual first, though there • The plan is expected to focus on
have been cases in recent years of Pakistanis infrastructure construction of countries along
naming their sons or even their stores and the route, including ports of Pakistan, Sri
places of business after the terror network’s Lanka and Bangladesh. China is already
slain leader. involved in port projects in the three
• Bin Laden was killed in a May 2011 raid by countries, in Gwadar, Hambantota and
U.S. Navy SEALs in his hiding place in Chittagong.
Abbottabad, a garrison town about 125 • China hopes to “coordinate customs, quality
kilometres north of Islamabad. The unilateral supervision, e-commerce and other agencies
raid at the time angered the Pakistani to facilitate the scheme”, as well as set up free
government, which said the United States trade zones.
had violated the country’s sovereignty.
Tussle between
• In the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s
US and China over Hong Kong
death, Islamists held small rallies across
Pakistan to denounce the killing. The slain • China has cautioned the United States not
al-Qaeda chief is still regarded as a hero by to interfere in Hong Kong affairs after Vice
most students at Islamic schools, or President Joseph Biden met two prominent
madrassas. pro-democracy advocates who have warned
of Beijing’s tightening control of the territory.
Maritime Silk Road
• A former British colony that reverted to
• China has for the first time released details Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong enjoys
of its recently announced “maritime Silk considerable autonomy and broad freedoms
Road” plan, announcing that the Indian as a capitalist hub.
Ocean-focused initiative will prioritise • But it has been locked in a lengthy battle
building ports and improving infrastructure with Beijing’s leaders to push through
in littoral countries like Bangladesh and Sri reforms that could culminate in a direct
Lanka. election of its leader in 2017.
• China is also planning to establish free trade • Tension has grown over China’s meddling in
zones in Indian Ocean countries as part of Hong Kong affairs as well as a proposal that
the plan — a move that will reinforce China’s all candidates in the 2017 poll be vetted by
deepening economic presence in the Indian a panel stacked with Beijing loyalists, which
Ocean Region and in India’s neighbourhood.
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117 || Year Book 2015

would essentially keep opposition candidates • The Israelis have repeatedly asked Barack
out of the running. Obama and previous US presidents to release
• China has agreed to let Hong Kong elect its Pollard, sentenced to life in 1987 for passing
next leader in 2017 in what promises to be US secrets on Arab and Pakistani weapons to
the most extensive exercise of democracy on Israel.
Chinese soil. Specific arrangements, however, • Psaki revealed that Indyk would return to
have yet to be hammered out, including Washington this week for consultations with
whether public nominations of candidates Kerry and the White House.
will be allowed. • The Palestinians responded by abandoning
• A group of pro-democracy activists has their own commitment not to seek
threatened to shut down the city’s central international recognition until the nine
business district in a campaign of civil months of talks ended, applying for accession
disobedience called “Occupy Central”, to 15 treaties.
should Beijing bar a fully democratic poll in
Pakistan Protection bill
line with international norms.
• The Nawaz Sharif Government managed to
Sanctions against Palestinians get the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment)
• Israeli and Palestinian officials held fresh US- Bill passed in the National Assembly,but the
mediated talks, but the crisis-hit peace Opposition parties, which tore up the bill in
process was dealt a new blow as Israel the House are determined to take the fight
unveiled sanctions against the Palestinians. to the Supreme Court.
• Israel, which collects about •80 million • The controversial law which started off as an
(Dh408 million) in taxes on behalf of the ordinance, was referred to the Standing
Palestinian National Authority (PNA) — Committee on Interior and Narcotics which
two-thirds of its revenues — has decided to debated the bill and approved it while
freeze the transfer of that money. proposing some amendments.
• Israel was also suspending its participation • The bill, which is expected to give more
with the Palestinians in developing a gasfield powers to the security forces to tackle
off the Gaza Strip and putting a cap on terrorism and powers to search and arrest
Palestinian deposits in its banks, the Israeli apart from preventive detention of up to 90
official said, asking not to be named. days and excluding the public from
• Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat proceedings of the special court.
lashed out at the move, calling it an act of • The ordinance, which was notified in
“Israeli hijacking and the theft of the January, was not approved by the Senate and
Palestinian people’s money. the bill too is going to run into difficulties
• Washington remains in “intensive in the Upper House.
negotiations” with both sides. • The ordinance is not very different from the
• The talks hit a new impasse last week after bill, and members of the Opposition feared
Israel refused to release a final batch of that Pakistan could be turned into a police
Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinians state using this law and its stringent
retaliated by seeking accession to several provisions would be misused. While there are
international treaties. no two opinions about the need to tackle

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118 || Year Book 2015

terrorism, there are provisions in the existing • One candidate was present in each
law which could be efficiently implemented, constituency, leaving voters only the choice
some felt. between voting “yes” or “no,” but observers
of the isolated, communist regime were
Emergency rule lifted in Tunisia
watching the designation of candidates for
• Tunisia’s president has lifted a state of signs of change.
emergency in force since the 2011 uprising • A shake-up of the top officials is thought to
that ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali be under way in the reclusive country in the
, despite a string of recent jihadist attacks. wake of the execution of Kim’s uncle and
• The country has been rocked by sporadic former mentor Jang Song Thaek in
violence since the January 2011 revolution, December.
which ignited the Arab Spring across North
Africa and the Middle East. Crash of Malaysia Airlines plane
• The end to the state of emergency however • A Beijing-bound Malaysian Airlines plane
“does not limit the capacity of the security that went missing with 239 people on board,
services to implement the law and does not including five Indians, crashed into the sea
preclude any request for military support off Vietnam’s southern Phu Quoc Island.
should it be needed,” • The plane disappeared in the night
• Emergency rule amounted to “a restriction of somewhere over South China Sea while
rights, freedoms, the movement of people enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
and goods” as Tunisia’s political crisis was • Those on board include 152 Chinese, 38
ending and security conditions improving. Malaysians, 5 Indians, 7 Indonesians, 6
• Much of the deadly violence witnessed in Australians, 3 French, 4 including an infant
Tunisia since the uprising has been blamed from the US, 2 New Zealanders, 2
on Ansar al-Sharia, a hardline Islamist Ukrainians, 2 Canadians, 1 each from Russia,
movement accused of having links to Al- Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands and Austria.
Qaeda. • Malaysia Airlines is currently working with
the authorities who have activated their
Election in North Korea
Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft.
• North Korean state media reported that • Death sentence for 529 Muslim Brotherhood
nearly all registered voters had cast their members. Death sentence for 529 Muslim
ballots to elect members of the Supreme Brotherhood members.
People’s Assembly for the first time since Kim
• A court in southern Egyptian convicted 529
Jong Un took leadership of the authoritarian
regime after his father’s death two years ago. supporters of ousted president Mohamed
Morsy, sentencing them to death on charges
• The Assembly is nominally the highest of murdering a policeman and attacking
legislative power, but in practice only meets police.
once or twice a year to rubber-stamp policies • Those convicted are part of a group of 545
drawn up by the Workers’ Party. defendants on trial for the killing of a police
• At the previous election in 2009, 99.98 per officer, attempted killing of two others,
cent of voters turned out, to vote 100-per- attacking a police station and other acts of
cent unanimously for their respective violence.
designated candidates.
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119 || Year Book 2015

• More than 150 suspects stood trial, the others one theory some grief-stricken relatives had
were tried in absentia. Sixteen were acquitted. seized on: that the plane had been hijacked
• The defendants were arrested after violent and forced to land somewhere.
demonstrations that were a backlash for the All 239 people on board were presumed dead
police crackdown in August on pro-Morsy
sit-ins in Cairo that killed hundreds of • That announcement opened the way for
people. what could be one of the most costly and
challenging air crash investigations in history.
Syrian warplane shot down by Syria • The Inmarsat data showed the Boeing 777’s
• Turkish armed forces shot down a Syrian last position was in the Indian Ocean west
military jet which had violated its airspace. of Perth, Australia.
An F-16 fighter jet, which was on duty in the • In a further sign the search was bearing fruit,
region, fired against the Syrian MIG-23 the US Navy was flying in its high-tech black
warplane due to rules of engagement. box detector to the area.
• When two Syrian MIG-23 warplanes • The so-called black boxes — the cockpit
approached, the Turkish air forces warned voice recorder and flight data recorder —
them four times that they have approached record what happens on board planes during
10 sea miles to the Turkish border. flight. At crash sites, finding the black boxes
• The incident reportedly took place in the soon is crucial because the locator beacons
northern border region, near an area where they carry fade out after 30 days.
Syrian rebels and government forces are
Two missiles test-fired by North Korea
fighting for control of a border crossing.
• Hundreds of thousands have fled Syria for • North Korea test-fired two missiles into the
Turkey to escape the three-year uprising sea, prompting condemnation from South
against President Assad. Korea, Japan and the United States.
• It was the latest of several such launches , as
Flight MH370 crashed in Indian Ocean South Korean, Japanese and US leaders
• Malaysia announced that MH370 jetliner criticised North Korea’s nuclear weapons
had crashed into the Indian Ocean and programme at a meeting in the Netherlands.
naturally it was greeted with hysteria by • The missiles were fired from north of
relatives of those on board . Pyongyang and flew around 650 kilometres
• Citing groundbreaking satellite-data analysis before falling into the waters east of the
by the British company Inmarsat, Malaysian Korean Peninsula.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said that • The United States said the latest launches of
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which No-Dong type missiles, as well as those of
vanished more than a fortnight ago while Scud missiles on March 3 and February 27,
flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had violated UN Security Council resolutions
crashed thousands of miles away in the that established missile moratoriums for
southern Indian Ocean. Pyongyang.
• His statement may go some way toward
Pakistan -Taliban talks
tamping down some of the more fevered
speculation about the plane’s fate, including • Government negotiators flew down to the

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120 || Year Book 2015

North Waziristan tribal region to hold the , that the total percentage of chemicals either
first-ever direct talks with the Pakistani removed or already destroyed inside Syria is
Taliban to end the deadly cycle of violence 53.6 per cent.
that has claimed over 40,000 lives. • The report said Syria pledges to remove all
• The government’s team was accompanied by chemicals by April 13, except for those in
the nominated negotiators from the Tehrik- areas “that are presently inaccessible,” which
e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). face an April 27 deadline.
• The much-anticipated direct talks would be • The international community, shocked by a
attended by all four members of the chemical attack in August that killed
government’s reconfigured negotiating hundreds near Damascus, aims to remove
committee, T TP intermediaries and and destroy 1,300 metric tons of chemicals
members of the Taliban ’Shura’. by June 30.
• The new committee consists of former New Guinness world Record by Bangladesh
ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand,
• Creating a new Guinness world record, over
Additional Chief Secretary ,FATA, Arbab
Arif, Secretary Ports and Shipping, two-and-half lakh Bangladeshis performed a
chorus of their national anthem at the
Habibullah Khattak and Additional Secretary
to Prime Minister, Fawad Hasan Fawad. national parade ground here to mark the
country’s 43rd Independence Day.
• The Taliban’s intermediaries are Maulana
• The erstwhile East Pakistan witnessed a
Samiul Haq — head of his own faction of
historic moment after 2,54,681 persons
the Jamiat Ulema Islam (Sami group),
gathered at the venue to chant “Amar shonar
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ibrahim Khan, and JUI-S
Bongla, ami tume balobashi… (My golden
spokesperson Maulana Yousaf Shah. Bengal, I love you)” — penned and tuned
• The committee will also seek extension of the by poet Rabindranath Tagore — which
month-long ceasefire announced by the TTP. inspired the nation during the liberation war
• The talks struck an impasse last month after against Pakistan in 1971.
a faction of the banned militant group killed • The venue bore a sea of humanity draped in
23 kidnapped Pakistani para-military national colours, red and green clothes and
soldiers, resulting in multiple targeted badges, during the much-publicised
airstrikes by the military against militant ceremony attended by Prime Minister Sheikh
hideouts in the tribal region of the northwest. Hasina, the Speaker of Parliament, Ministers,
49 per cent of Syria’s MPs, armed forces officials and foreign
Chemicals scheduled for destruction diplomats.
• The previous record for largest chorus to sing
• The world’s chemical weapons watchdog says
a national anthem at a single venue was held
more than 49 per cent of the raw materials
by Sahara India Pariwar, which organised
for Syria’s poison gas and nerve agent 1,21,653 people to sing the Indian anthem
program scheduled for destruction have been
in unison.
shipped overseas, with the rest expected to
leave by the end of April. Black box of crashed C-130J sent to U.S.
• The Organization for the Prohibition of • The black box of the C-130J transport
Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a report aircraft that crashed near Gwalior has

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121 || Year Book 2015

suffered damage and the Air Force has sent tunnels, including one that was over a
it to the U.S. to seek the assistance of its kilometer and a half (mile) long and 18
manufacturer Lockheed Martin in decoding meters (yards) deep.
the data. • Last week, Gaza militants fired the heaviest
• The connectors of the Flight Data Recorder rocket barrage at Israeli communities since
or the black box are damaged along with the 2012, and Israel responded with air strike on
card inside the Cockpit Voice Recorder militant targets.
(CVR). • Earlier this month, Israeli special forces
• The delay in decoding the black box data captured a ship in the Red Sea carrying
would also mean a delay in determining the rockets and other weapons that Israel said
cause of the crash. w ere supplied by Iran and destined for
• The Super Hercules Special Operations militants in Gaza.
transport aircraft crashed near Gwalior killing • Of the 85 constituencies, 34 seats were won
five crew members last after taking off from by PPM while its coalition partners
Agra. Jumhoory Party (JP) bagged 15 seats and the
• The aircraft had apparently hit a hillock Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) five
before crashing on the rocky surface on the seats. Nasheed’s MDP secured only 24 seats
banks of Chambal river near Gwalior. and lost its majority in parliament.
• India had recently inducted six C-130J Super
Myanmar’s anti-dam march
Hercules aircraft, which were bought from
the U.S. at a cost of around Rs. 5,780 crore • Recently, dozens of protesters went on a
($962 million) four years ago. 2,400-km march to northern Myanmar,
• The home base of the 77 squadron ‘Veiled calling for the cancellation of a Chinese-
Vipers’ operating the aircraft is Hindon in backed hydroelectric dam project over
Ghaziabad near New Delhi. environmental concerns.
• On the demands of the IAF, the Defence • The $3.6 billion dam along the Irrawaddy
Ministry recently placed orders for six more River, which was supposed to export 90 per
such aircraft from the U.S. cent of its power to China, was suspended
• The loss of such a big asset is considered a in 2011.
setback for the IAF. • Waving banners were called for permanent
cancellation of the Myitsone dam, in a
Biggest tunnel in Gaza suburb of the main city of Yangon.
• The Israeli military has uncovered another • It is a disturbing fact that the vast majority
tunnel the biggest so far dug from the of Burmese do not have access to electricity.
Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, stretching into
Israel opens border crossing with Gaza
Israel and intended for militant attacks or
abducting soldiers and civilians. • Israel opened a border crossing with Gaza to
• The tunnel was found by Israeli intelligence allow the transfer of gas, after the coastal
and the military. The structure was lined with salient’s only power plant shut down for one
concrete and describing it as very day due to lack of fuel.
sophisticated, resembling a subway tunnel. • Israel closed its border crossings with the
• In 2013, Israel announced finding three such G aza Strip some time back after the

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122 || Year Book 2015

Palestinian group Islamic Jihad launched a • The proposed facility will have a production
massive barrage of rockets from the Strip into capacity of up to 1.6 million tonnes of urea
Israel. and 7,60,000 tonnes of diesel diesel exhaust
• Israel agreed to allow the entry of 500,000 fluid (DEF.
litres of diesel and gasoline for the private • The estimated project cost of $ 1.6 billion is
sector, 160,000 tons of cooking gas, and based on the most recent feasibility study.
200,000 litres of diesel for the power plant. • La Coop fr an agri-food organisation in
• Since Egypt shut down nearly all smuggling Quebec that is one of the project
tunnels under its border with Gaza, the shareholders, has agreed to purchase some
enclave is all but entirely dependent on 5,00,000 tonnes of urea a year for
deliveries from Israel, financed by the distribution across the province, Canada and
Palestinian Authority. several US states.
Sri Lanka seeks help from NAM • In January 2013, IFFCO’s Canadian
subsidiary acquired the land for the plant.
• Sri Lanka has sought the support of Non- The site is at Bncour Port and Industrial
Aligned Movement (NAM) nations to ward Park, which provides access via land, rail and
off the U.S. sponsored rights resolution water to markets across North America.
against it at the next U.N. Human Rights • The deep-water port will also facilitate
Council meet in Geneva. exports, especially to markets in Europe.
• The UNHRC is to vote a U.S. sponsored Quebec province, Canada’s largest, is located
resolution on Sri Lanka which is widely in the east-central region of the country.
expected to advocate an international probe
into alleged war crimes in the country during First ‘Born Free’ election
the final phase of military battle with the • South Africans voted in the first “Born Free”
LTTE which ended in 2009. election , although polls suggest the allure of
• Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s the ruling African National Congress as the
human rights envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe conqueror of apartheid will prevail even
had urged the NAM nations in the 47- among those with no memory of white-
member U.N. Human Rights Council to minority rule.
stand in solidarity with the island. • Opinion polls suggest there is no doubt
• At least 33 in the 47 member UNHRC are about the overall result, with ANC support
either NAM members or nations with estimated at around 65 percent, only a shade
observer states. lower than the 65.9 percent it won in the
• India was a leading NAM member who had 2009 election that brought President Jacob
voted in favour of the U.S. resolutions in Zuma to power.
2012 and 2013 against Sri Lanka. • The resilience of ANC support has surprised
analysts who a year ago were saying it could
IFFCO’s urea plant in Canada
struggle at the polls as its glorious past
• Leading fertiliser cooperative IFFCO said recedes into history and voters focus instead
that its subsidiary received permission from on the sluggish economic growth and slew of
the provincial government of Quebec to set scandals that have typified Zuma’s first term.
up a $ 1.6 billion urea plant. • Africa’s most sophisticated economy has

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123 || Year Book 2015

struggled to recover from a 2009 recession - New sanctions against Russia


its first since the 1994 demise of apartheid
• The United States and other nations in the
and the ANC’s efforts to stimulate growth
Group of Seven agreed to “move swiftly” to
and tackle 25 percent unemploy-ment have impose additional economic sanctions on
been hampered by powerful unions.
Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine.
• South Africa’s top anti-graft agency accused
• In a joint statement released by the White
Zuma this year of “benefiting unduly” from House, the G-7 nations said they will act
a $23 million state-funded security upgrade
urgently to intensify “targeted sanctions.” The
to his private home at Nkandla in rural
statement said the G-7 will also continue to
KwaZulu-Natal province that included a prepare broader sanctions on key Russian
swimming pool and chicken run.
economic sectors if Moscow takes more
Ceasefire in South Sudan aggressive action.
• South Sudan’s President has reached a • The announcement came as top Ukrainians
ceasefire agreement with a rebel leader, an spoke of imminent invasion and Moscow
African regional bloc said , after a vicious said that pro-Russian separatists would not
cycle of revenge killings drew international lay down their arms in eastern Ukraine until
alarm. activists relinquish control over key sites in
• The deal means “an immediate cessation of Kiev.
hostilities within 24 hours of the signing” • The G-7 nations said they were moving
and “unhindered humanitarian access” to all forward on the targeted sanctions now
people affected by the months-long conflict, because of the urgency of securing plans for
said a statement by the political bloc known Ukraine to hold presidential elections in
as IGAD, which is mediating the conflict. May.
• Ethnically targeted violence in the world’s • The penalties are expected to target wealthy
youngest country broke out in December, R ussian individuals who are close to
killing thousands of people and forcing more President Vladimir Putin, as well as entities
than 1.3 million to flee their homes. The they run. However, the U.S. will continue to
U.N. Security Council has expressed “horror” hold off on targeting broad swaths of the
at recent killings of civilians. Russian economy, though the president has
• U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said he is willing to take that step if Putin
launches a military incursion in eastern
w elcomed the peace agreement in a
Ukraine.
statement, saying it “holds the promise of
• Tensions were heightened on the ground,
bringing the crisis to an end”.
with Russian fighter jets reported crossing
• South Sudan is a largely Christian nation that into Ukrainian airspace and a team of
broke off from the Muslim-dominated Sudan unarmed foreign military observers detained
after a 2011 referendum. The fighting is an by pro-Russian forces in Slovyansk, the heart
embarrassment to the U.S., which has of the separatist movement in the east.
provided hundreds of millions of dollars in
aid and has been its strongest international Chemical weapons destroyed in Syria
champion. • The head of an international mission to Syria
charged with destroying the country’s

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124 || Year Book 2015

chemical weapons called on President Bashar Internet “inviolable and secret.” Service
Assad’s government to ensure it meets a providers must develop protocols to ensure
deadline to destroy all its toxic chemicals email can be read only by senders and their
amid a raging civil war. intended recipients. Violators are subject to
• Sigrid Kaag of the Organization for the penalties including fines and suspension.
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) • The law obliges Internet companies, however,
told reporters in Damascus that 92.5 percent to hold on to user data for six months and
of Syria’s chemical materials had been hand it over to law enforcement under court
removed from the country and destroyed. order.
She called it “significant progress,” although
World’s Tallest Building
she called on Syria’s government to ensure
remaining materials would be eradicated by • Kingdom Tower will be 568 feet taller than
the end of April. Khalifa Tower, the current Guinness World
• Syria missed an April 13 deadline to destroy Record holder in neighboring Dubai, once it
all its chemical weapons in accessible is completed. The tower is the first phase of
locations. International experts say that could Jeddah Economic Company’s approximately
impact on reaching a June 30 deadline to $20 billion, 17 million-square-foot Kingdom
remove all Syria’s chemical weapons. City project, of which it will be the focal
• Another 12 chemical weapons production point. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin
facilities are still being review ed by the Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a nephew of
OPCW to see how they will be destroyed. Saudi King Abdullah, is chairman of the
Kingdom Holding Company, a partner in
Internet JEC.
‘Bill of Rights’ to protect online privacy • Foundation work for the $1.2 billion
• Brazil’s president signed into law on a “Bill skyscraper began in December, and above-
of Rights” for the digital age that aims to ground work will start April 27. The 200-
protect online privacy and promote the floor tower will be located in Jeddah, a
Internet as a public utility by barring culturally significant city near the Red Sea
telecommunications companies from that is known as the gateway to Mecca.
charging for preferential access to their • Kingdom Tower will house a Four Seasons
networks. hotel, luxury condominiums, office space and
• The law signed by President Dilma Rousseff an observatory.
at a global conference on the future of
Internet governance puts Brazil in the North Korean Nuclear Threats
vanguard of online consumer protection and • Dismissing North Korea’s nuclear threats, US
what is known as “net neutrality,” whose President Barack Obama has reportedly
promoters consider it profoundly democratic warned the country of tougher sanctions if
in part because it keeps financial barriers for it were to go ahead with its fourth nuclear
innovators low. test.
• The new law promotes privacy by limiting • Obama said at a joint press conference with
the data that online companies can collect on South Korean President Park Geun-Hye that
Internet users in this nation of 200 million threats will get North Korea nothing, other
people, deeming communications over the than greater isolation.
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125 || Year Book 2015

• South Korea’s satellite images revealed the • The law requires party lists for legislative
North could be preparing for another test, elections to be half women and half men. It
Obama stressed that Washington and Seoul also allows members of the authoritarian
stood “shoulder to shoulder” in their refusal regime ousted in 2011 to run for office.
to accept a nuclear North Korea. • The members of the National Constituent
• Obama also said that China is beginning to Assembly approved the law after weeks of
recognise that North Korea is not just a heated debate over its 270 articles. The
nuisance but a significant problem for their overall law was approved 132-11 with nine
own security. abstentions.
No TOEFL and TOEIC tests by ETS • Tunisia’s path to democracy has been rocky
but is seen as a model for other countries,
• Dealing a blow to many visa aspirants after street protests overthrew a dictator and
especially students, British authorities have unleashed uprisings across the region known
said global testing giant ETS will no longer as the Arab Spring.
offer TOEFL and TOEIC tests for U.K. visa-
granting purposes, in the wake of a recent Obama’s wage bill
controversy. • Senate Republicans deployed a filibuster to
• As per the U.K. Council for International block a White House proposal to increase the
Student Affairs’ official website, “ETS is no U.S. minimum wage by $2.85 to $10.10 per
longer providing TOEIC and TOEFL tests hour, thereby denying President Barack
for people who want to use them in support Obama an important election-year policy
of U.K. immigration applications. This is achievement.
because of allegations of fraud.” • Although polls have shown that more than
• Following the broadcast of a BBC Panorama 60 per cent of Americans support raising the
programme in February 2014 which minimum wage, a measure that Mr. Obama
highlighted an organised element seeking to promised in his state-of-the-union address in
circumvent the U.K.’s visa-granting process, January, all Senate Republicans but one,
ETS has made the decision not to extend our Robert Corker of Tennessee, voted against
Secure English-language Testing (SELT ) holding a debate on the Bill and getting it
licence with the Home Office. As a result, passed.
TOEIC and TOEFL iBT testing will no • While he appeared frustrated with the
longer be offered for U.K. visa-granting proceedings on Capitol Hill and slammed
purposes. Republicans for preventing “a raise for 28
• The TOEFL test remains the most widely million hardworking Ameri-cans,” he
respected English-language test in the world emphasised that several U.S. States had taken
recognised by more than 9,000 institutions the matter into their hands and raised the
in more than 130 countries. minimum wage through State Legislatures.
Tunisia’s New Law on Elections • For the Democrats the Bill represented a key
component of its broader ‘Fair Shot for All’
• Tunisian lawmakers have adopted a sweeping midterm campaign, a platform that aimed to
new electoral law that paves the way for project the party as a supporter of the
general elections later this year and is a common man, in opposition to Republican
milestone in this country’s new democracy. pandering to special interests.
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126 || Year Book 2015

US Security deal with Philippines • Emergency workers and volunteers went


door-to-door to look for victims. Law
• Protesters have clashed in the Philippines as
enforcement officers checked the damaged
a 10-year agreement was signed ahead of
President Barack Obama’s visit which will and toppled 18-wheelers, cars and trucks on
a stretch of Interstate 40, a major
beef up military forces there.
thoroughfare in and out of the state’s capital.
• The military will get greater access to bases
across the region as an effort by Washington • Tornadoes also touched down in Nebraska,
Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, where dozens of
to counter Chinese aggression.
homes in Baxter Springs were destroyed.
• The presence of foreign troops is a sensitive
Twenty-five people were injured and one
issue in the Philippines, a former American person died.
colony.
• Forecasters had warned for days that violent
• The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to close
weather would strike over the weekend.
down U.S. bases at Subic and Clark,
northwest of Manila. A new U.S.-Russia proxy war
• However, it ratified a pact with the United • With Russia and the United States as far
States allowing temporary visits by American apart as ever on ways of resolving the crisis
forces in 1999, four years after China seized in Ukraine’s southeast, its outcome may well
a reef the Philippines contests. be decided on the battlefield.
• Following the September 11, 2001, attacks • Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has not
in the United States, hundreds of U.S. forces spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama
descended in the southern Philippines under since Kiev launched its “anti-terrorist
that accord to hold counter terrorism operation” against anti-government protesters
exercises with Filipino troops fighting in Russian speaking regions in the east six
Muslim militants. weeks ago.
• However this time, the focus of the • While Moscow denounces the Ukrainian
Philippines and its underfunded military has crackdown in the east as a “punitive
increasingly turned to external threats as operation” against the civilian population,
territorial spats with China in the potentially Washington maintains that Kiev’s authorities
oil and gas-rich South China Sea heated up “have every right to take steps to maintain
in recent years. law and order in their own country.”
Tornadoes Strike Central, Southern US • The Ukrainian border guard service has
reported several convoys of trucks with
• A tornado system ripped through the central
militants and weapons crossing the porous
US and left at least 12 dead in a violent start border from Russia in recent weeks.
to this year’s storm season.
• Russia has refrained from openly supporting
• A tornado carved through several Little Rock
separatists in eastern Ukraine and still hopes
suburbs. A separate tornado from the same
to persuade Kiev to resolve the conflict by
storm system killed one person in Oklahoma. granting broad autonomy to the region.
• The large tornado outside Little Rock, • The conflict in the east is fast morphing into
Arkansas, stayed on the ground as it moved
civil war. This was in stark display earlier this
northeastward for at least 30 miles (48 month in Odessa, a peaceful multiethnic
kilometres).
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127 || Year Book 2015

Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea, where to Crown Prince Felipe.
a group of ultranationalists from western • The proposal will be fast—tracked by the
Ukraine burnt alive and clubbed to death at Spanish Parliament and is expected to pass
least 48 pro-Russian activists. easily because Mr. Rajoy’s Popular Party has
Obama’s energy policy the majority of seats and the leading
opposition Socialist Party also supports the
• The path breaking clean energy policy legislation.
unveiled by the Obama administration • Jesus Posada, who leads the Parliament’s
would put the US at a disadvantage against lower house, predicted the law will take effect
countries like India and China, top US by June 18, meaning Prince Felipe would be
lawmakers and policy advocacy groups have proclaimed king before lawmakers shortly
said. after that.
• The US Environmental Protection agency • Juan Carlos is widely respected for leading
has announced to cut carbon emission from Spain’s transition from dictatorship to
existing pow er plants, which is the single democracy and staring down a 1981 coup
largest source of carbon pollution in the US, attempt, but was hit hard by royal scandals
by 30 per cent by the year 2030. over the last several years.
• It also announced to cut by 2030 particle
pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide Iran oil sanctions suspended
by more than 25 per cent as a co-benefit. • With Iran complying with its commitment
• The White House described this as American on a controversial nuclear weapons
leadership to the world. programme, US President Barack Obama has
• But Republicans and many others are not suspended his action on Iranian oil sanctions
willing to buy the argument, according to for the next six months.
whom such a policy would put the United • Even though there is enough oil in the
States at an disadvantage against countries international market for countries like India
like India and China. and China to reduce their dependence on
• The United Mine Workers of America Iranian oil, so as to avoid US sanctions as per
international president Cecil E Roberts Congressional Act, Mr. Obama determined
alleged that the proposed rule issued by the that there is no need to do so for the next
Environmental Protection Agency will lead six months as Tehran is fully co-operating
to long-term and irreversible job losses for with the US-led international community to
thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, address their concerns about its nuclear
utility workers, boilermakers, railroad weapons program
workers and others without achieving any • The International Atomic Energy Agency has
significant reduction of global greenhouse gas verified that Iran is complying with these
emissions. commitments.
Spain’s abdication law • The analysis contained in the Energy
Information Administration’s report of April
• The cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister 24, indicates that global oil consumption has
Mariano Rajoy has approved a proposal for exceeded production in recent months.
emergency legislation that allows King Juan
Carlos to abdicate and hand over his duties
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128 || Year Book 2015

Renewable power in Germany out of the summit of world leaders but


dominated the meeting as President Barack
• May 11, 2014 was a red letter day for
Obama and his counterparts from the G-7
renewable power in Germany. The biggest
clean energy market reached an enviable group of major economies sought the
Kremlin chief’s renewed cooperation to end
record of almost 75 per cent renewable
market share for several hours that day. the Ukraine crisis.
Germany faces its own travails over its chosen • In March, the U.S. and its most important
path. allies retaliated for Mr. Putin’s military
occupation and subsequent annexation of
• Germany is indeed avoiding blackouts-by
opening new coal and gas fired plants. Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula by suspending
Russia’s membership in what had been the G-
Renewable electricity is proving so unreliable
and chaotic that it is starting to undermine 8 club of rich countries.
the stability of the European grid and • They also nixed Mr. Putin’s plan to hold the
provoke international incidents. meeting in Sochi, the city Russia lavished
billions on to host the 2014 Winter
• The spiraling cost of the renewables surge has
sparked a backlash, including government Olympics.
proposals to slash subsidies and deployment • Mr. Obama, however, has no plans to meet
rates. with Mr. Putin — a clear indication the U.S.
is more reluctant than its European peers
• For all modes of power generation, capacity
factor — CF (the amount of electricity, a about renewing the dialogue.
generator produces in a year divided by the • The meeting was not expected to produce
amount it will produce if it ran at full any major decisions. Many observers criticise
capacity for all 8,760 hrs a year) — is the format as being mostly a talking shop
important. Typically during 2012, CFs (per since the role of setting rules for global
cent) in Germany were, for solar: 11; wind: economic governance in the wake of the
17; fossil fuel: 80 and for nuclear: 94. 2008-2009 financial crisis has shifted to the
wider Group of 20, which also includes
• Since India has in place an ambitious
renewable energy programme, we must learn emerging economies like China, India and
Brazil.
from the experiences of other countries
particularly Germany; Germany’s tryst with China urged to reduce finance risk
renewable power is often taken as a model.
• The World Bank and the International
• India must promote all modes of power Monetary Fund are urging China to focus on
generation including solar and wind. controlling risks from rapidly rising debt due
Copious sunshine and abundant wind may to its reliance on credit-fuelled growth.
lead to over production in the grid. Balancing
• The World Bank said Beijing should pay
the grid may be a challenge. Central close attention to rising credit, especially in
Government must organise a systematic
its largely unregulated informal lending
review of the challenges to arrive at India-
market, and reduce debts owed by local
centric solutions. governments.
G-7 summit • Rising debts owed by local governments and
• Russian President Vladimir Putin was kept uncertainty about informal lending have

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129 || Year Book 2015

fuelled concerns China’s economic slowdown a candy tycoon, was elected after the pro-
might cause a rise in defaults and hurt its Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the
financial system. country in the wake of months of street
• Chinese regulators have taken steps to cool protests.
credit growth but still are allowing a relatively • The ceremony in the Ukrainian Parliament,
fast expansion to support economic growth the Verkhovna Rada, was attended by high-
that slowed to 7.4 percent in the three ranking delegations from Western
months ending in March. governments, which include U.S. Vice-
• By the country’s broadest measure, total President Joe Biden, E.U. President Herman
outstanding debt rose from the equivalent of Van Rompuy and the presidents of Poland
124 percent of gross domestic product in and Germany, Bronislaw Komorowski and
2007 to more than 200 percent in 2013, Joachim Gauck.
according to the World Bank. Egypt president sworn in
• Corporate debt in Chinese economy , at the
equivalent of 125 percent of GDP, is “among • Egypt’s former army chief Abdel Fattah el-
the highest in Asia. Sisi has been sworn in as President for a four-
year term, taking the reins of power in a
New high commissioner for human rights nation roiled since 2011 by deadly unrest
• U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said and economic woes.
he will appoint Jordan’s ambassador as the • Mr. el-Sisi’s inauguration came less than a
new high commissioner for human rights, year after the 59-year-old career infantry
bringing to that post a voice from the West officer ousted the country’s first freely elected
Asia. President, Mohammed Morsy, following days
• Mr. Ban’s office announced that Prince Zeid of mass protests by Egyptians demanding he
al Hussein, a long-time diplomat and former step down.
U.N. peacekeeper, has been nominated to
replace Navi Pillay. • 8th of June was declared a national holiday
• The South African-born Ms. Pillay’s term as and tight security was enforced by the police
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and military throughout Cairo.
was originally set to end in 2012 but was • Outside the building, modelled to look like
extended for two years. an ancient Egyptian temple, around a
• Prince Zeid, who has been ambassador to hundred el-Sisi supporters gathered, waving
both the U.N. and the United States, Egyptian flags and posters of the country’s
announced in late April he would resign as new President.
U.N. ambassador. Nepal Parliament obstruction
New Ukraine President • Belying hopes of breakthrough to resume
• Petro Poroshenko has taken the oath of office proceedings of the Parliament, the three
as Ukraine’s President, assuming leadership of major political parties on S failed to reach
a country mired in a violent uprising and agreement after claiming they were close to
economic troubles. it. As a result, the opposition parties
• Mr. Poroshenko, who became a billionaire as obstructed Parliament for the 10th straight
day.
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130 || Year Book 2015

• Speaking in the Parliament after the talks • Oil from the north of the country stopped
ended inconclusively, Bijay Gachchhadar of reaching markets in March, following
Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) violence in Anbar province and an attack on
accused the ruling coalition of breaching a a pipeline to Turkey.
previous agreement on a number of issues,
Iran and P6 talks
including forming a high level political
committee (HLPC) comprising of political • Nuclear negotiators from Iran and six world
parties. powers got down to business on Tuesday
• When Mr. Gachchhadar said NC President seeking to strike a momentous deal before a
and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and other July 20 deadline but with significant
ruing party leaders should go to Sarnath in differences still to bridge. The United States
India if they failed to deliver a Constitution, and Iran briefly discussed the crisis raging in
the ruling MPs objected to his remarks. With Iraq, U.S. officials said, but the focus in
neither side relenting, Speaker Subas Vienna on the second day of talks was the
Nembang, adjourned the House. mooted atomic agreement.
• Mr. Nepal said the Nepali Congress and his • The many problem areas include the
party are in favour of rotating leadership of duration of any final accord, the pace of
the HLPC. sanctions relief, Iran’s partially-built Arak
nuclear reactor and allegations of past efforts
Iraq crisis and concerns in oil market to build a bomb. But the main sticking point
• The rapid advance of jihadists through large remains uranium enrichment: a process that
swathes of Iraq raises concerns in the oil can produce nuclear fuel but also, when
market about the ability of the Organization highly purified, the core of an atomic bomb.
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries • The West hotly disputes Iran’s claim that it
(OPEC) to meet global demand, industry needs this material for nuclear facilities
experts say. Analysts estimate that the cartel around the country.The parties have set
needs to ramp up production by at least themselves a deadline of July 20, when an
700,000 million barrels per day (bpd) in the interim deal struck in November expires, and
second half of the year to meet global many experts believe an extension is already
demand, and their hopes are partly based on being talked about.
increased output from Iraqi oil wells.
Kiev seeks talks with Moscow
• In the longer term, 60 per cent of growth in
OPEC’s production capacity is expected to • Ukraine’s new Western-backed leader sought
come from Iraq, the International Energy urgent talks with Russian President Vladimir
Agency in Paris estimated Friday. Putin on Wednesday after separatist rebels
• The European benchmark price for Brent oil shot down an Army helicopter despite orders
from the North Sea shot up to a 9—month from their own commander to observe a
high of 114.5 dollars per barrel early on fragile truce.
Friday morning, before retreating below 113 • The death of nine servicemen outside the
dollars later in the day. pro-Russian stronghold city of Slavyansk and
• Iraq pumped 3.33 million bpd last month, loss of two other soldiers in militia attacks
making it the second—largest OPEC prompted Ukrainian President Petro
producer after Saudi Arabia. Poroshenko to threaten to unleash a powerful

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131 || Year Book 2015

new military campaign in the industrial east. warned it would have “serious consequences.”
The warning dealt a crushing blow to hopes • The Association Agreement is also deeply
of the sides mediating an end to 11 weeks unpopular in Ukraine’s heavily Russified
of fighting that has killed more than 435 eastern rustbelt, where pro-Russian insurgents
people and brought the ex-Soviet nation to are battling Kiev government troops.
the brink of collapse. • The European Union also sealed similar
• Kiev’s temporary ceasefire was picked up by partnership agreements with Georgia and
separatist commanders but was due to expire Moldova — two former Soviet nations with
on Friday morning after just one round of similarly complicated relations with Russia.
inconclusive and indirect talks. • Mr. Poroshenko said the deal offered Ukraine
Russia to join Kiev talks with EU “an absolutely new perspective for my
country,” hailing a “historic day, the most
• Russia said it had finally got Brussels and important day since independence.”
Kiev to include it in talks over a landmark
association agreement between Ukraine and Panchsheel still relevant: China
the EU to be signed this week. • Quoting from one of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s
• Much to Russia’s chagrin, Ukrainian verses on friendship, If you think friendship
President Petro Poroshenko is set to sign the can be won through war, spring will fade
final chapters of the landmark EU pact that away before your eyes’, President Xi Jinping
has been at the heart of a raging crisis in his reiterated the virtues of good relations
country. between neighbours, peace and cooperation
• However Moscow hopes it will still be able and amity in the region as envisaged six
to raise its concerns over possible damage to decades ago in the Panchsheel treaty among
its economic interests as a result of the India, China and Myanmar.
agreement which has seen it threaten to • At the 60th commemoration of the
protect its markets against Ukrainian goods. Panchsheel, he asserted that China would
Ukraine signs landmark deal with EU follow the five principles of Panchsheel even
as it is ready to work with the West to uphold
• Ukraine’s new Western-backed president world peace and development.
signed a landmark EU pact whose rejection • Mr. Xi spoke of adhering to territorial
by his pro-Moscow predecessor plunged the integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-
ex-Soviet country into turmoil and sent East- aggression and non-interference in internal
West relations to their lowest level since the matters, and peaceful co-existence — the
Cold War. basics of Panchsheel, and said these continue
• Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko hailed to remain relevant and grow.
the deal, which pulls Kiev out of Kremlin’s
orbit, as a turning point for the strategic Israel is “ready” to
country sandwiched between Europe and expand its operations in Gaza
Russia. • Israel is “ready” to expand its operations in
• But the agreement bursts Russian President Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Vladimir Putin’s dream of enlisting Kiev in warned after the air force struck 12 targets
a Kremlin-led alliance that could rival the overnight following a surge in militant rocket
European Union and NATO and Moscow fire.
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132 || Year Book 2015

• Speaking to ministers at the weekly cabinet responsible authority in the area, or we will
meeting, the Israeli Premier said the almost- stop it.
nightly military strikes on Gaza could be
India among Jihad Targets of ISIS
expanded should the need arise.
• Israeli warplanes struck Gaza 12 times • Ibrahim Awwad al-Badri, commander of the
overnight, with Palestinian officials saying insurgent group Islamic State of Iraq and al-
two people had been lightly injured. Shams (ISIS), has vowed war against several
countries, including India, in a Ramzan
Constitution a key priority in Nepal speech released online.
• Nepal President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav • The reference to India, the first in an ISIS
presented the government’s programmes and manifesto, raises new concerns for the safety
policies for the fiscal year 2014-15 in the of the almost hundred of its nations trapped
Parliament. in Iraqi cities controlled by the Islamist
• Dr. Yadav emphasised the importance of group, which is battling the governments of
promulgating the Constitution in time Iraq and Syria.
through consensus. The coalition • The Ramzan speech by Mr al-Badri — also
government’s road map also talks about known by the pseudonym Abu Bakr al-
adopting zero tolerance to corruption. On Baghdadi — calls on believers to take up
foreign aid, the government aims to arms during the month of penitence, and
channelise it into the national system and “terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death
mobilise in areas of national priority. in the places where you expect to find it, for
• The road map reiterates the government’s the dunya (worldly life) will come to an end”.
commitment to form the Truth and • “Muslims’ rights”, Mr. al-Badri states in his
Reconciliation Commission and the speech, are forcibly seized in China, India,
Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, the
Persons as per the Interim Constitution. Caucasus, Sham (the Levant), Egypt, Iraq,
Legislation passed by the Parliament on Indonesia, Afghanistan, the Philippines,
formation of these two transitional justice Ahvaz, Iran (by the rafidah (shia)), Pakistan,
bodies faces challenge in the Supreme Court. Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, in the
East and in the West.
Israel issued a brusque warning to Hamas
• Israel issued a brusque warning to Hamas, Iraq’s New Parliament Broke up in Chaos
demanding it prevent rocket fire from Gaza • Iraq’s new Parliament broke up in chaos, with
as fears grew of a new confrontation around lawmakers threatening each other or walking
the coastal Palestinian enclave. out despite global calls for fractious
• Militants fired 14 rockets at southern Israel politicians to form a government needed to
during the morning, sending tension soaring face a Sunni militant onslaught.
and drawing a warning from Prime Minister • After a break called to calm soaring tempers,
Benjamin Netanyahu that unless the Islamist so many Sunni and Kurdish deputies stayed
movement cracked down on those behind the away that the quorum was lost, so a Speaker
attacks the Israeli military would step in. could not be elected as was constitutionally
• If this fire continues there are two required, and the session ended in disarray.
possibilities: either Hamas stops it as the • Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bid for a
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133 || Year Book 2015

third term has been battered by the jihadist- agreement that has been readied to their
led offensive that has seized large chunks of satisfaction as a follow up to the Bali
five provinces, adding fuel to dissatisfaction Ministerial decisions of last December has led
over persistent allegations of sectarianism and to a stalemate at the talks.
monopolising power. • In a strong statement India said it will
• The latest crisis has alarmed world leaders, support the TF agreement only if there is
displaced hundreds of thousands of people progress in Geneva on mechanisms for
and polarised Iraq’s Shia, Sunni and Kurdish ensuring permanent protection of the
populations. government’s Minimum Support Price
• The disunity quickly manifested itself in (MSP) against the WTO’s subsidy caps.
what was the opening session of a parliament • The new government is clear that the MSP
elected in April, which included walkouts, is a tool important enough for us to take this
threats and confusion over the constitution. stand at the WTO.
• India has repeatedly expressed concern over
The European Court of Human Rights upheld
the uneven pace of work at the negotiations
France’s controversial burqa
in Geneva over the past few months but
• The European Court of Human Rights despite that the imbalance in progress has
(ECHR) upheld France’s controversial persisted.
burqaban, rejecting arguments that outlawing
full-face veils breaches religious freedom. Xi Jinping’s Historic Sri Lanka Visit
• In a case brought by a 24-year-old French • China’s President Xi Jinping will this year
woman with the support of a British legal become the first Chinese head of state to visit
team, the court ruled that France was Sri Lanka in three decades, underlining
justified in introducing the ban in the Beijing’s renewed push to deepen its strategic
interests of social cohesion. and economic presence in the
• The court emphasised that states should be neighbourhood and in the Indian Ocean.
allowed a degree of discretion — “a wide • Mr. Xi’s visit was discussed in Beijing this
margin of appreciation” — on a policy issue week as Sri Lankan Minister of Economic
which is subject to significant differences of Development Basil Rajapaksa, as the
opinion. Two of the 17 judges who spent President’s Special Envoy, met with the
several months deliberating on the case Chinese leadership.
dissented from the majority view that the ban • The Chinese leader will become the first
did not breach the European Convention on President to visit Sri Lanka since former
Human Rights’ provisions protecting the leader Li Xiannian in 1986. His visit assumes
freedom of thought, conscience and religion. significance in the context of strengthening
India Refuses to Ratify TF Protocol ties between the two countries, with China
investing heavily in the island nation.
• Protesting against the imbalance in favour of
• A $500 million- built port built by the
developed countries at the ongoing World
Chinese was inaugurated in Colombo last
Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations at
year giving Beijing a strong foothold in one
Geneva, India on Wednesday broke away
of the busiest international shipping routes
from the consensus on the Trade Facilitation
in the world. With heavy investment in
(TF) Protocol. India’s refusal to ratify this
infrastructure, including in a massive port it
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helped build in Hambantota along Sri statement by the U.S. on the allegations.
Lanka’s southern coast, China is said to have • Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
surpassed Japan and India as the biggest said in a tweet, following reports of U..S
contributor to investments in the island spying that have sparked anger in Germany
nation. after revelations the NSA allegedly tapped
• Foreign policy experts have often pointed to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. The U.S.
Sri Lanka playing the “China card” against ambassador, who was called to a meeting at
India, which has invested in some key the foreign ministry late on Friday, had been
projects in the neighbouring country, told Washington is expected to shed light on
including a massive housing project targeting the reports “as quickly as possible.
50,000 homes in the war-torn north that it • The 31-year-old employee of the German
is currently engaged in. foreign intelligence agency known as the
• For Chinese President Xi, Sri Lanka has BND arrested last week had been working
become a particularly important country as for the CIA for around two years.
a crucial point on his government’s signature • “All signs indicate that he was acting for the
“maritime silk road” economic initiative, Americans,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine
which the President unveiled in October in Sonntagszeitung (FAS) Sunday newspaper
a bid to boost maritime connectivity and quoted an unnamed senior official at
economic ties in the neighbourhood. Germany’s foreign intelligence service as
Bomb exploded near Somalia’s Parliament saying.
• Several people were killed when a powerful Iraqi officials analysing Baghdadi video
suicide car bomb exploded near Somalia’s • Iraqi officials are working to determine the
Parliament in the capital Mogadishu on authenticity of a video that purportedly
Saturday, police and witnesses said. shows the leader of the Islamic extremist
• Al-Qaeda-linked Shabab rebels claimed group that has seized large swaths of the
responsibility for the bombing, the latest in country delivering a sermon this week in the
a surge of attacks in Mogadishu during nation’s second-largest city, authorities.
Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. • The 21-minute video said to show Abu Bakr
• A car loaded with explosives was intercepted al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State
near the Parliament and it went off. group, was reportedly filmed on Friday at the
• Police and witnesses at the scene said three Great Mosque in the northern city of Mosul.
police officers and the suicide bomber died It was released on at least two websites known
in the blast. to be used by the organisation and bore the
logo of its media arm.
Germany Seeks Swift Response on Spook
• German ministers called for a swift response Clashes on Syria-Lebanon Border Kill Several
from the U.S. to allegations of spying by a • Heavy clashes along the Syria-Lebanon
suspected double agent, which have raised border killed several people, including a
fears of fresh tensions between the two allies. number of Hezbollah fighters and Syrian
• Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere in pre- rebels.
released excerpts from Monday’s Bild • The area has long been a flashpoint in the
newspaper called for a “quick and clear” Syrian civil war.
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135 || Year Book 2015

• The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for warned that the operation would be
Human Rights said the fighting left seven intensified if Hamas militants refused to
Hezbollah fighters dead and 31 injured. accept the truce.
• The Iran-backed Hezbollah openly joined Malaysia Airlines plane with 295 on board
the Syrian conflict last year. The group’s crashes over Ukraine near Russian border
fighters have been instrumental to President
Bashar Assad’s success on the battlefield, • A passenger plane carrying 295 people was
tipping the balance of power in the 3-year- shot down over a town in the east of the
old conflict in the government’s favor. Ukraine. killing all 295 people aboard.
• Ukraine separatist group blames Ukraine Air
BRICS summit to reflect new global political
Force for the incident. Pro-Russian separatists
architecture have told Russian news agency Ria that they
• Global political issues such as the unrest in are willing to have up to 3-day ceasefire in
Iraq and Ukraine and the surveillance of Ukraine to allow for recovery work at site.
world leaders by the U.S. National Security • Ukrain has categorically denied the charges.
Agency are likely to find their way into the • European Union called for an international
discussions at the BRICS summit. investigation into the crash of the Malaysian
• In particular, BRICS countries will announce jetliner in eastern Ukraine and for parties to
the BRICS bank and contingency reserve “share all relevant information”.
fund as a counterpoint to the U.S.-led World • The aircraft, which other sources said was a
Bank and International Monetary Fund. Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala
• BRICS countries have areas of cooperation L umpur, came down near the city of
on various subjects, from energy to Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels,
education, and there are new proposals, such adding that it was hit by a ground-to-air
as a Brazilian suggestion on the creation of a missile.
statistics platform different from the OECD • The region has seen severe fighting between
methodology (The OECD analyses GDP, Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist
employment and other indices). rebels in recent days.
Israel Resumes air Strikes on Gaza as Israel resumes strikes on Gaza
Ceasefire Fails
• Israeli jets struck three sites in Gaza after a
• Israel on Tuesday resumed airstrikes on Gaza rocket was launched at Israel. The strikes
after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire failed to followed an almost 12-hour pause in fighting
stop the escalating violence that has killed and came as international efforts intensified
192 Palestinians in nine days of fighting as to end the three-week conflict between Israel
Hamas continued to fire rockets at the Jewish and Hamas. The UN called for an
state. “immediate” ceasefire.
• Earlier Israel accepted, while Hamas refused • In New York, an emergency meeting of the
the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. UN Security Council called for “an
• The Egyptian-proposed ceasefire plan was immediate and unconditional humanitarian
aimed at halting Israel’s deadly nine-day ceasefire.” It was the Council’s strongest
offensive on the Gaza Strip that has killed statement yet on the conflict that has already
192 Palestinians but the Israeli premier had
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136 || Year Book 2015

killed 1,030 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers as commercial properties, travelling art


and three civilians on the Israeli side, but it collections or airplanes.
was not a resolution and therefore not
Russia Violated Missile Treaty: U.S.
binding.
• Both Israel and Palestine criticised the • U.S. President Barack Obama said in a letter
statement on different grounds. While Israel to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in
criticesed that statement does not mention a letter on Monday that Russia had violated
rockets launched by palestine and Palestine a 1987 arms control treaty when it allegedly
criticised that it is not legally binding. ground-launched a cruise missile.
• The Obama administration’s charge against
International arbitration court orders Russia Russia, described as the “most serious
to pay $50 billion to former Yukos allegation of an arms control treaty
shareholders violation,” made to date, follows reports by
• In one of the biggest such cases ever, the U.S. officials that Russia began testing cruise
Permanent Court for Arbitration in the missiles as far back as 2008.
Hague, Netherlands, determined Russia was • The INF Treaty was signed on December 8,
not acting in good faith to collect taxes when 1987 by erstwhile U.S. President Ronald
it levelled massive claims against Yukos in Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev,
2003. and was considered to be an agreement that
• The tax case led to the imprisonment of would limit the risk of strikes against Europe.
Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and has • This risk increased after the Soviet Union
been widely seen as retaliation for his support achieved “rough strategic parity” with the
of opposition political parties. U.S. in the mid-1970s and then began
• The ruling adds to tensions between Russia replacing older intermediate-range SS-4 and
and the international community at a time SS-5 missiles with a new intermediate-range
when relations are at their lowest ebb since missile, the SS-20.
the end of the Cold War. Following the Israel unleashes
downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over
heaviest bombardment on Gaza
eastern Ukraine, the U.S. and European
Union are debating further economic • Israel unleashed its heaviest bombardment in
sanctions against Moscow because of its a three-week-old war against Hamas, striking
support for rebels suspected of launching the symbols of the militant group’s control in
attack. Gaza and firing tank shells.
• The Yukos takeover was the beginning of a • The heavy strikes, which came a day after
process under which Russia, under President Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned
Vladimir Putin, retook control of the of a “prolonged” campaign against Hamas,
country’s energy industry. Yukos’ main assets were a new blow to international efforts to
were sold at auction to a shell company. reach a sustainable truce in the fighting.
• Russia was ordered to pay the judgment WHO declares
within 180 days or begin paying interest. If Ebola an International Health Emergency
Russia declines to pay, shareholders can
attempt to seize Russian assets abroad such • The World Health Organization (WHO)
declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
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137 || Year Book 2015

to be an international public health • Several official and unofficial events that have
emergency that requires an extraordinary been planned over the last year will mark the
response to stop its spread. day. They reflect and reinforce a war
• The WHO announced the Ebola outbreak memorial sentiment that appears as diverse
the largest and longest in history is worrying as the forms that memorialisation are taking
enough to merit being declared an in this country.
international health emergency. WHO • All these will in different ways examine the
declared similar emergencies for the swine flu legacy and lessons emerging from World War
pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May. 1 (1914-1918), which claimed the lives of 10
• Countries affected to date simply do not have million soldiers and impacted the lives of
the capacity to manage an outbreak of this countless others.
size and complexity on their own, The • Commonwealth British citizens have
current outbreak of Ebola began in Guinea marshalled their own memories and histories
in March and has since spread to Sierra of the war experience. The largest non-British
Leone and Liberia component of the British fighting forces, and
on which the imperial war machine heavily
Israel, Hamas accept Egyptian ceasefire plan relied was from India. Nearly 1.5 million
• Israel and Hamas accepted an Egyptian soldiers were drafted into the war effort. Of
ceasefire proposal meant to halt a bruising them 74,000 died.
month-long war that has claimed nearly UN Human Rights
2,000 lives, raising hopes that the bloodiest
Council appoints Panel for Palestine Inquiry
round of fighting between the bitter enemies
could finally be coming to an end. • The UN Human Rights Council President
• The war broke out on July 8, 2014 when Baudelaire Ndong Ella announced a three-
Israel launched an air offensive in response member panel to investigate the human
to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Hamas- rights violations in the occupied Palestinian
controlled Gaza. It expanded the operation territory, particularly in the conflict-torn
on July 17 by sending in ground forces in Gaza Strip.
what it described as a mission to destroy a • Ms. Ella appointed Canadian William
network of tunnels used to stage attacks. Schabas to serve as chair of the independent
Israel says the last of the tunnels has nearly international commission of inquiry, Xinhua
been destroyed. reported.
• Israel has demanded that Gaza become • The commission also comprises British
“demilitarised,” requiring the unlikely lawyer Amal Alamuddin and Doudou Diene
cooperation of Hamas in giving up its from Senegal.
significant arsenal. • The Council decided to establish the
commission of inquiry at its 21st special
Lights to go out across
session July 23, 2014, to investigate all
UK to Mark World War One Centenary
violations of international humanitarian law
• On August 4, the whole of Britain will be and international human rights law in the
plunged in darkness for an hour in a Lights occupied Palestinian territory, including East
Out initiative to mark the centenary of the Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza
country’s entry into World War 1. Strip, in the context of the military
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138 || Year Book 2015

operations conducted since June 13. Ministers Conference. Finalising the cultural
• The same session asked the commission to capitals for the next two years was part of the
present its findings in March 2015. Delhi Resolution which was adopted at the
• The present Israeli offensive in Gaza that conference while preparing a road map on
began on July 8 has killed ov er 1,900 cultural ties till 2017. The year 2016-17 will
Palestinians and left over 9,500 wounded, also be declared the SAARC Year of Cultural
including around 2,800 children. Heritage.
• The SAARC countries also agreed to
U.S. court rules in favour of Union Carbide formulate proposals for transnational
• A New York court struck what appeared to nominations for the World Heritage List and
be a deathblow to the case brought by victims a regional list of heritage sites. India’s Project
of the 1984 poison gas disaster in Bhopal, Mausam got a fillip as the Delhi Resolution
Madhya Pradesh, when it ruled in favour of agrees to recognise the impact and
the defendant, the Union Carbide contribution of maritime routes and the
Corporation (UCC), finding that the monsoon as also other inland relations
company could not be sued for ongoing through centuries of trade, migration and
contamination from the chemical plant. colonialism.
• The Bhopal gas tragedy, considered India’s • In a measure aimed at promoting literature
worst industrial disaster, occurred on produced in local languages of the region, the
December 2 1984 at the UCIL pesticide Ministers decided to make them accessible to
plant and in its wake many thousands of readers across the world through translations
people were injured from exposure to methyl in not just English but SAARC languages.
isocyanate gas and other chemicals and
16th Amendment to the Bangladesh’s
several thousands were killed.
Constitution
• While EarthRights International said that
they were “confident [that evidence • The Jatiya Sangsad — national Parliament of
surrounding Couvaras’ role] will lead to a Bangladesh — has passed a Constitution
reversal of the erroneous decision on appeal,” amendment bill empowering it to remove
Judge Keenan further ruled that the Supreme Court judges for misconduct and
Government of Madhya Pradesh would also incapacity.
not be held liable for a clean-up of • In a unanimous vote, the 16th Amendment
contamination at the site of the disaster. to the Constitution was passed .
• The amendment was passed amid objection
Bamiyan (Afghanistan) will be SAARC from senior lawyers and the Bangladesh
cultural capital for 2015 Nationalist Party (BNP), which had stayed
• Bamiyan, the Afghan town which shot into off the general election and is now out of
prominence when the Taliban blew up two Parliament.
ancient statues of the Buddha in 2001, has • The Parliament got back this power after
been selected to be the SAARC cultural nearly four decades.
capital for a year beginning April 2015. • The bill, placed by Law Minister Anisul
Dhaka will be the SAARC cultural capital in Huq, was passed in the night session with
2016-17. Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the
• This was decided at the SAARC Culture chair.
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139 || Year Book 2015

Naipaul dropped by an showing the beheading of British aid worker


International literary festival in Bali David Haines, who was abducted in Syria
last year.
• Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul has been
dropped by an international literary festival • IS militants recently beheaded two American
in Bali after the event refused to meet his journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff,
“eleventh-hour request” for a $20,000 fee to and posted the videos online after the U.S.
appear, its organisers said . began launching airstrikes and humanitarian
missions in August to aid waning Iraqi and
• The Trinidad-born British writer had been
Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq.
one of the biggest names booked for this
year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival • The IS group has also put out videos showing
(UWRF). the beheading of Kurdish and Lebanese
soldiers and the mass shooting of dozens of
• However the event’s founder and director,
captured Syrian soldiers.
Janet DeNeefe, said they had decided to
cancel his appearance after he asked for the • At the end of the video showing the
fee. beheading of Sotloff, the Islamic State group
threatened to kill Haines next and briefly
Pope Solemnises Modern Marriages showed him on camera.
• A single mother, people who have been Japan’s centenarian
married before and couples who have been Population reaches new record
living together ‘in sin’ were married by Pope
Francis in a taboo-challenging ceremony at • The number of Japanese aged 100 and over
the Vatican. has reached a new record, the government
• In another signal of the openness of his announced.
papacy, Pope Francis asked to marry 40 • On national Respect for the Aged Day —
people from different social backgrounds there would be 58,820 centenarians, the
who would be a realistic sample of modern Health Ministry estimated, some 4,400 more
couples. than the previous year.
• Popes very rarely perform marriages — the • About 87 per cent are women.
last one was in 2000. One of the couples was • The number of 100-year-olds in Japan has
single mother Gabriella and her partner steadily increased over the last decades. When
G uido, whose previous marriage was official records began in 1963 the tally of
annulled by an ecclesiastical tribunal. people over 100 was 153.
• The last time a Pope performed a marriage • The growing number of elderly in Japan,
was under the leadership of John Paul II in ascribed partly to advances in medicine and
2000, and before that in 1994. It comes three a healthy local cuisine, in combination with
weeks before a major synod of the Catholic low birth rates, is sometimes referred to as the
Church will discuss the divisive issues of country’s “demographic time bomb,” due to
marriage, divorce and conception. the increased pressure on health services and
the country’s welfare system.
IS releases beheading
Video of British aid worker South Africa ‘refuses’
Dalai Lama visa for Nobel summit
• Islamic State (IS) extremists released a video
• South Africa has refused to grant a visa for
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140 || Year Book 2015

the Dalai Lama to attend the World Summit • The Rs.83-crore pedestrian plaza, part of the
of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town next T. Nagar redevelopment proposal, had
month, his representative said. already been approved by the Corporation
• The government “conveyed by phone to me Council a few months ago.
they will not be able to grant the visa for the • “Funding for the project will not be approved
reason that it would disturb relations between without a proper study of the social and
China and South Africa. environmental aspects of such an innovative
• The refusal could provoke a boycott of the urban infrastructure project,” said officials.
14th annual peace summit, according to a • Work on commissioning the plaza with a
spokesman for South African laureate and commercial theme was expected to begin this
former Archbishop Desmond Tutu. month. But the requirement of a new study
is likely to delay the project, they said.
China to develop industrial Parks
• The plaza is likely to become operational by
• China will set up two industrial parks in May next.
India, one each in Gujarat and Maharashtra, • The levels of pollution caused by traffic
and the two countries are expected to sign diversions, the increased number of visitors
agreements for this soon. to T. Nagar, the rise in garbage collection and
• Chinese Consul-General in Mumbai, Liu heightened commercial activity will also be
Youfa, told presspersons that a park would assessed. Displacement of hawkers and
come up near Pune on about 5 sq. km and impact on their livelihood will be part of the
another near Ahmedabad on about 10 sq. study.
km.
U.S. air strikes target IS convoy in Iraq
• The park in Maharashtra will be focussed on
automobile sector and that in Gujarat on the • U.S. air strikes destroyed an Islamic State
power sector. convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul but U.S.
• The Pune park will be completed in about officials said it was unclear whether the
12 years in three stages and is likely to see group’s top commander Abu Bakr al-
total investment of $5 billion. Baghdadi had been in any of the 10 targeted
• The first phase will be completed in three vehicles.
years. • Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command
spokesman, said the U.S. military had reason
World Bank rider for pedestrian project to believe that the convoy was carrying
• The World Bank has told the Chennai leaders of Islamic State, an al-Qaeda offshoot
Corporation that its funding of the which controls large chunks of Iraq and
pedestrian plaza at T. Nagar is conditional. Syria.
It has advised the civic body to complete a • The convoy consisted of 10 Islamic State
study on environment and the social impact armed trucks.
of the proposed pedestrianisation project in • “I can confirm that coalition aircraft did
that area. conduct a series of air strikes in Iraq against
• The study by the Chennai Corporation is what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL
also expected to assess the impact of the leaders near Mosul,” said Colonel Ryder,
project on ‘reducing extreme poverty’ and using another name for Islamic State.
‘promoting shared prosperity’.
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141 || Year Book 2015

• “We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr for more details on remittances from abroad.
al-Baghdadi was among those present.” • Mr Naidoo is in India to discuss the role of
Islamic State had been changing its strategy civil society in the context of certain
since the air strikes began, switching to lower individual and non-gov ernmental
profile vehicles to avoid being targeted, organisations (NGO) being targeted for
according to residents of towns the group being “anti-national”.
holds. • He said, “Thankfully Greenpeace India is
• A Mosul morgue official said 50 bodies of quintessentially an Indian entity, with 60 per
Islamic State militants were brought to the cent of our resources coming from individual
facility after the air strike. Indian citizens and 40 per cent from
• Mosul, northern Iraq’s biggest city, was Greenpeace International.”
overrun on June 10 in an offensive that saw • After the government’s move, Mr. Naidoo
vast parts of Iraq’s Sunni regions fall to the sought solace in Mahatma Gandhi. “First
Islamic State and allied groups. they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then
• A month later a video posted online they fight you and then you win. We are not
purported to show the reclusive Baghdadi panicking because of Gandhiji.
preaching at Mosul’s grand mosque. Al- • We take comfort in this that we are being
Hadath television channel said U.S.-led air fought and we are one step away from
strikes targeted a gathering of Islamic State winning the argument for a different
leaders in a town near the Syrian border, development model which includes
possibly including Baghdadi. sustainable meaning for growth,” he said. Mr
• Iraqi security officials were not immediately Naidoo has asked for a meeting with the
available for comment on the report from the Home department and the Environment
station, part of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya Minister.
television, but two witnesses told Reuters an • It’s a bit disappointing for me to see what’s
air strike targeted a house where senior happening in India. As a young person
Islamic State officers were meeting, near the growing up in South Africa, we looked to
western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim. India as a bastion of democracy- no country
There is an attempt to create a chilling effect: supported us as much as India politically and
Kumi Naidoo in terms of skills development. I first came
in 1989 first time to India as part of an
• As a young man growing up in South Africa, African National Congress (ANC)
Kumi Naidoo looked to India for inspiration.
delegation.
Now there is a twinge of disappointment.
Mr. Naidoo, the executive director of Nuclear Reactors to reactivate in Japan
Greenpeace International, is puzzled at how • The Gov ernor of Japan’s Kagoshima
the gov ernment came to freeze the prefecture approved the reactivation of two
organisation’s bank accounts in India without nuclear reactors at the Sendai plant.
giving a reason.
• Sendai was the first plant in Japan on which
• Though the Delhi High Court sent a notice new regulations were imposed by Japan’s
to the Ministry of Home Affairs directing it
Nuclear Regulation Authority after the
to unblock Greenpeace India’s foreign funds,
accident at the Fukushima plant triggered by
there is no respite with the Ministry asking

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142 || Year Book 2015

an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, a make-or-break treaty to be finalized next


2011. year.
• The plant is expected to start its commercial • President Barack Obama announced that the
activities from 2015 after the NRA completes U.S. would move much faster in cutting
its last security reviews in Sendai. pollution, with a goal to reduce by 26 per
• The approval granted is almost the final step cent to 28 per cent by 2025, compared with
for the reactivation of the power stations, 2005 levels. Earlier in his presidency, Mr.
whose 48 commercial-use reactors are non- Obama set a goal to cut emissions by 17 per
functional until they adopt the NRA norms. cent by 2020.
• Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose
Russia signs another
country’s emissions are still growing as it
mega-energy agreement with China
builds new coal plants, didn’t commit to cut
• Russia pivoted decisively towards the East, emissions by a specific amount.
after signing another mega-energy agreement
with China, which could dwarf Europe as the Russia signed an agreement to build nuclear
largest consumer of Russian gas once the reactors for Iran
project is completed. • Russia signed an agreement with Iran for
• Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fifth helping the latter build two new nuclear
meeting in a year with his Chinese reactors, media reported.
counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of • The two new nuclear reactors will be built
the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic in a nuclear power plant based in Iran’s
Conference (APEC), yielded an agreement Bushehr region, which houses the country’s
that seemed to rebuff Europe, which had existing 1,000 megawatt reactor that was
imposed sanctions on Russia following the completed by Russia’s Rosatom corporation
crisis in Ukraine. and started operation last year.
• China would receive 30 billion cubic meters • According to the protocol signed by Russian
(bcm) of gas per year along the so-called and Iranian representatives in Moscow on
“western” or “Altay” route, according to the Tuesday, the two countries agreed to
agreement. This would supplement the eventually expand the number of reactors
proposed 38 bcm Russian gas to China that using Russian technology to eight in Iran,
would flow through the “Power of Siberia” including four at the Bushehr Nuclear Power
pipeline, passing along the “eastern route”. Plant in southern Iran.
• The “eastern route” deal, worth $400 billion, • Nuclear fuel for the eight energy reactors will
was signed in May, and work on the project be provided by Russia and the used fuel rods
has already commenced. will be returned to Russia, RIA Novosti news
agency reported. Rosatom corporation
US, China unveil ambitious goals to cut
stressed in a statement that the project will
pollution levels
be under the supervision of the International
• The United States and China unveiled Atomic Energy Agency.
ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases,
China’s economic ‘vision’ wins over APEC
aiming to inject fresh momentum into the
global fight against climate change ahead of • The members of Asia-Pacific Economic

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143 || Year Book 2015

Cooperation (APEC) members have agreed communication, space infrastructure and


to initiate the formation of a free trade area navigation sectors.
in the Asia-Pacific — a vision steered by • “We will focus on building a self-controlled
China, which competes with the Trans- national space infrastructure that can operate
Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative of the continuously and stably for a long time,” said
United States. Yang Baohua, deputy general manager of
• Summit host Chinese President Xi Jinping China Aerospace Science and Technology
praised the in principle endorsement of the Corporation.
Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) • However, Yang did not specify the period of
as a decision that “will be written into history time over which the launches will span.
books”. He said backing for the initiative • The Communist nation will launch about 70
“demonstrated the confidence and remote sensing satellites to detect the near-
determination of the APEC in advancing earth space environment and predict extreme
regional economic integration”. events, beside about 20 communication
• In his closing address, Mr. Xi said the satellites to meet communication demand in
business community wanted the FTAAP, national security and public services.
which is expected to include Russia, Beijing’s • In addition, China will launch about 30
geostrategic partner. navigation satellites to provide accurate and
• Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised reliable global positioning and navigation
the Chinese initiative, a day after Beijing and services, state-run Xinhua news agency
Moscow signed a preliminary agreement on reported.
a new route to transfer copious quantities of • The Chinese economy will continue to
Russian natural gas into China. record relatively high growth, generating
more demand for aerospace technologies,
Malaysian MH370 may be declared ‘lost’ Yang said at an international aviation and
• Relatives of passengers of the Malaysian aerospace forum held in south China’s
Airlines Flight MH370, that vanished Zhuhai city.
mysteriously eight-months ago with 239
G-20 decided to set up
people on board, have expressed shock after
a senior airline official reportedly said that Global Infrastructure Hub
the plane would be declared “lost” by the • The G20 leaders decided to set up a Global
year end. Infrastructure Hub to help reduce barriers to
• The Airlines’ commercial Director Hugh investment and improve information sharing
Dunleavy reportedly said that the Malaysian for channelising funds into the sector.
and Australian governments were working • Located in Sydney, the Hub will contribute
together with the national carrier to to developing a knowledge-sharing platform
determine compensation details, adding that and network between governments, the
the formal announcement of the loss would private sector, development banks and other
likely be made by the year end. international organisations.
China will launch about 120 satellites • “The Hub will foster collaboration among
these groups to improve the functioning and
• China will launch about 120 satellites to financing of infrastructure markets,” said the
meet the country’s requirements in

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144 || Year Book 2015

communiqué released at the end of two day community-based care and community
G20 meeting in Brisbane. engagement for early detection of suspected
Ebola cases, the World Bank in a statement.
Pakistan & Russia sign defence deal
• A previous World Bank analysis showed that
• Pakistan and Russia signed a military if Ebola continues to surge in these three
cooperation agreement to deepen their countries and spreads to neighbouring
defence ties and vowed to translate their countries, the two-year regional financial
relationship in “tangible” terms during the impact would reach $32.6 billion by the end
first visit of a Russian Defence Minister in of 2015.
45 years. • According to the World Health Organisation,
• Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit as of November 14, 2014, 14,413 Ebola
to Pakistan comes at a very critical juncture cases have been registered in eight countries
as U.S.-led NATO forces are drawing down since the outbreak, with 5,177 deaths.
from Afghanistan by the end of this year.
“The signing of the Military Cooperation Obama formally announces $3 billion
agreement between the two significant contribution to Green Climate Fund
countries of the region is a milestone. • U.S. President Barack Obama formally
• “Both sides will translate this relationship in announced a $3-billion U.S. contribution to
tangible terms and further strengthen an international fund to help poor countries
military-to-military relations,” said Pakistan’s cope with the effects of climate change.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif without • “Today, I’m announcing that the United
elaborating on the agreement. States will take another important step. We
• The visit by the Russian Defence Minister will contribute $3 billion to the Green
comes against the backdrop of reports that Climate Fund to help developing nations
Moscow had given go-ahead for the sale of deal with climate change,” he said in a speech
MI-35 helicopters to Pakistan, which is at Queensland University in Brisbane, where
interested in purchasing up to 20 helicopters. he is attending the G20 meeting.
• The last visit took place as far back as 1969, • The contribution doubles what other
when USSR Defence Minister Andrey countries had previously pledged ahead of a
Grechko made a trip to the country. November 20, 2014 deadline.
WB approves $285 million to fight Ebola United States warplanes come to aid of Kurds
• The World Bank has approved a grant of • United States warplanes renewed air strikes
$285 million to finance the three West against Islamic State jihadists near the Syrian
African countries hardest hit by the Ebola town of Kobane as Iraqi peshmerga soldiers
crisis. prepared to reinforce their fellow Kurds in
• The grant is part of the nearly $1 billion of the border area, the U.S. military said.
financing previously announced by the • U.S. fighter jets and bombers had carried out
World Bank for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra eight air raids near Kobane, targeting six
Leone, reports Xinhua. vehicles, a building and several IS fighting
• The additional financing will enable the positions over the past 24 hours, said the
three countries to deploy additional national military’s Central Command, which oversees
and international health workers, scale up the air war in Iraq and Syria.

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145 || Year Book 2015

• In Iraq, American unmanned drones and Currency down after election in Brazil
fighter jets conducted six bombing raids, • Brazil’s stock exchange is down, and its
including three near Sinjar in the north and currency has fallen against the dollar in the
three around Fallujah, west of Baghdad, first hours of trading following the country’s
Central Command said in a statement. volatile presidential race in which President
• The latest air strikes came as heavily armed Dilma Rousseff won re-election over her
peshmerga forces were poised to cross the centrist, pro-business rival Aecio Neves.
Turkish border into Kobane to help the local • The Brazilian real slipped over 4 percent in
Kurdish militia that has held out against a early morning trading Monday to $0.39. The
relentless assault by IS militants for weeks. Sao Paulo-based Bovespa stock exchange was
• Free Syrian Army rebels crossed from Turkey down more than 6 percent.
to Kobane. State Department spokeswoman
• Analysts had predicted the market would
Jen Psaki said Washington had seen the
react negatively to a victory by Ms. Rousseff,
reports that FSA fighters were crossing the
under whom the once-booming economy has
border.
largely stalled. After four straight years of
• “We welcome the support they would w eak growth, the economy is now in
provide to Kobane’s defence,” Ms. Psaki told
technical recession.
reporters, adding it would be up to officials • Mr. Neves was overwhelmingly favoured by
on the ground to confirm when the process
Brazil’s business community, who believed his
was completed. market-friendly policies would help
• Iraqi Kurdish officials said up to 200 fighters jumpstart growth.
would be sent. The town has become a
crucial symbol in the battle against IS, an Brisbane airport bans climate change billboard
extremist Sunni Muslim group that has seized • A bid by environmentalists to confront world
large parts of Syria and Iraq and declared an leaders with a digital billboard highlighting
Islamic “caliphate.” climate change has been thwarted by
Drones seen over French nuclear power plants Brisbane airport authorities who deemed the
message too political.
• French authorities said that they had detected • Brisbane Airport will be the Australian
drones over two nuclear power plants, the
gateway for leaders of 20 economies when
latest in a baffling series of incidents across they gather in the Queensland state capital
the country.
next week for the annual G20 summit.
• A spokesman for security forces said: “Drone-
• Dermot O’Gorman, chief executive of the
type machines overflew two nuclear plants
World Wildlife Fund, said he was surprised
during the night. They were detected by that the Brisbane Airport Corp. had refused
police in charge of protecting the plants and
to allow the climate change message in the
staff.” international arrivals hall as part of the
• “These machines were not neutralised #onmyagenda campaign.
because they did not represent a direct threat” • The campaign is supported by nine
to the nuclear facilities, the spokesman
environment groups and encourages people
added. to tweet G20 leaders asking them to include
• It is against French law to fly within a five climate change as a stand-alone item on the
km radius of a nuclear plant.

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146 || Year Book 2015

G20 agenda, as it was on the previous eight Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea, and the 21st century
G20 summits. Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
• “The reality is climate change is a global The “belt and road” run through the
problem affecting economies, societies and continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting
environments all around the world, we can’t the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and
afford to sweep it under the carpet,” Mr. developed European economic circle at the other,
Russia to Join Asian Infrastructure Bank says the government report.
Specifically, the SREB focuses on bringing
Russia has finally decided to join the Bejing’s together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe
led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and (the Baltic); linking China with the Persian Gulf and
become the latest country to sign up as the the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and
application deadline draws close. West Asia; and connecting China with Southeast
The AIIB is a newly-aunched multilateral Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
development bank to help finance infrastructure
projects in Asia for sustainable growth and social Finland Opposition
development in the region, the Ministry said. Party wins Parliamentary election
According to the Asia Development Bank Finland’s opposition Centre Party has won the
(ADB) data, Asia’s infrastructure demand is expected General Election 2015 by defeating the left-right
to reach some $730 billion per year by 2020, but coalition National Coalition party of incumbent
the supply of investment funds from the World Bank Prime Minister Alexander Stubb. With this win,
and the ADB falls far short of the demand. Centre Party’s leader Juha Sipila, an IT millionaire
Thus, the AIIB aims to strengthen economic and newcomer to country’s politics, is set to become
and financial cooperation among countries in the Finland’s next prime minister. In this election, Juha
region and pioneer economic development by Sipila’s Centre Party has won 42 seats in the 200
focusing on providing funds for regional seats of Parliament and Finns Party (formerly known
development, the Ministry said. as True Finns) was runner-up by winning 38 seats
in parliament. While the ruling Coalition Party has
China releases details of Silk Road plans
won 37 seats and the Social Democratic Party got
China has provided details about its proposed 34 seats
Silk Road initiatives, which would impact 4.4 billion The Centre Party leader Juha Sipla, who
people and, within a decade, could generate trade entered politics four years ago, said the main
above 2.5 trillion dollars. problem in conservative Prime Minister Alexander
A vision document jointly prepared by a Stubb’s coalition had been a lack of trust among the
composite team from the Ministries of Commerce, ruling parties. He warned that Finland, in the midst
Foreign Affairs and the National Development and of a three-year recession, was in a “difficult”
Reform Commission (NDRC) — a top organisation situation.
that steers the Chinese economy — has with Saudu Arabia along with GCC launches
precision revealed the geographic parameters of military campaign against Houthi
China’s “One belt One Road” initiative.
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies
The “belt and road” have two components —
have launched a military operation in Yemen against
the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) that would be
the Houthi rebels, who deposed the US-backed
established along the Eurasian land corridor from the
Yemeni president last month.
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147 || Year Book 2015

The United Arab Emirates is participating United States and Japan


with 30 jets, Bahrain with eight, Morocco and Unveiled new rules for defence cooperation
Jordan both with six. Sudan reportedly offered three
In a historic move that will give Japanese
war planes to assist the operation, Al Arabiya
armed forces a more ambitious global role, the
reported.
United States and Japan has unveiled new rules for
Kuwait’s defence ministry announced it was defence cooperation. Under the revised guidelines,
sending three squadrons of its F18 Super Hornet Japan could come to the aid of U..S forces
aircrafts to Saudi’s King Abdulaziz airbase in threatened by a third country or, for example, deploy
Dhahran to take part in the Yemen offensive. minesweeper ships to a mission in the Middle East.
Pakistan, which has longstanding ties to Saudi The guidelines came a day before U.S.
Arabia, was examining a request from Riyadh to join President Barack Obama rolls out the red carpet at
the coalition. The security situation in Yemen the White House for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
deteriorated after the Shia Houthis rebels had seized Abe for a high-profile visit.
pow er by dissolving Yemen’s government and
Under the previous rules, Japanese forces could
parliament in January 2015. Since then rebels had
assist American troops only if they were operating
taken control of key government buildings in capital
in the direct defence of Japan. The amended
Sanaa including Presidential Palace. They also had
guidelines were drawn up to reflect a reinterpretation
taken control and seized city of Taiz, third largest
of Japan’s Constitution by Mr. Abe’s government last
city of Yemen.
year, which allows for “collective defence.”
Capgemini acquires iGATE for $4 billion The new defence guidelines are part of Mr.
French IT services company Capgemini has Abe’s bid to soften Japan’s constitutional
acquired the US-based IT services company iGATE commitment to pacifism.
for $4 billion. Through the acquisition Capgemeini, China to integrate
which has significant presence in the European Mongolia, Russia initiative with MSR
market, is trying to widen its presence in North
America. With the aim to counter India’s Mausam and
Spice Project, China with its Maritime Silk Road
Apart from getting a strong-hold in the US,
(MSR) initiative is making headway in integrating
the acquisition will also give Capgemini’s Indian
a Mongolian and a Russian initiative to develop
operations a new scale, allowing it to compete on a
another spur of its ambitious Silk Road land
par with the US and Indian companies.
corridor.
The company was co-founded by Sunil
China wants to include Mongolia’s “Steppe
Wadhwani and Ashok Trivedi is listed in Nasdaq.
road” initiative, and link up with the Moscow-driven
However, majority of its workforce is based in India.
transcontinental rail plan to develop the China-
At present, iGATE has a revenue of around $1.3
Mongolia-Russia (CMR) economic corridor.
billion and over 30,000 employees spread across its
centres in India, the US, Europe and China. The CMR initiative is similar to two other
In India, iGATE has centres in Bengaluru, undertaking initiated by China: the recently
inaugurated Pakistan-China economic corridor, and
Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad; while the
the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM)
French major has its centres in nine locations and
corridor.
employs more than 50,000 people.
China is encompassing a string of initiatives,

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148 || Year Book 2015

hoping to sprout several new “growth engines” in amendment the legislation envisages the dilution of
Eurasia under the “Belt and Road” umbrella. many powers of Executive Presidency, which had
Faced with the challenge of convincing been in force since 1978.
governments to integrate their national plans within Key facts of the amendment
the “Belt and Road” initiative, the Chinese have
already sounded their readiness to enmesh India’s • Reduction in the terms of President and
Mausam and Spice Route projects within the Parliament from six years to five years;
framework of its larger plans. • Re-introduction of a two-term limit that a
person can have as President;
Xiaomi launches Mi 4i smartphone • The pow er of President to dissolve
Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has recently Parliament only after four and a half years
launched it Made for India smartphone Mi 4i. Mi • The revival of Constitutional Council and
4i will be available in India, before any other market. the establishment of independent
Though the device will not be launched in mainland commissions.
China, it will be sold in markets like Hong Kong, Though the abolition of the Executive
Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia later in Presidency was the major electoral promise of Mr
May. Sirisena, the Supreme Court, in its ruling early this
The Mi 4i comes with a 5-inch 1080p display, month, held that certain provisions, such as those
an 8-core 64-bit Snapdragon 615 second gen. making Prime Minister the head of Cabinet and
processor and a 2 GB RAM. The device was empowering PM to determine the size of Cabinet,
launched with Android Lollipop operating system. would require a referendum. So, the President
The phone is 7.8 mm thick, weighs 130 grams remains the head of Cabinet. However, he can
with a 3120 mAh battery and will be available in 5 appoint Ministers on the advice of Prime Minister.
colours — black, white, orange, light blue and pink. Earlier in the day, two issues cropped up —
objections to the composition of Constitutional
Sri Lanka adopts 19th amendment
Council and the provision regarding the
Sri Lankan Parliament marking the beginning appointment of Ministers. Eventually, the
of new chapter in the contemporary political history government agreed to include seven MPs in the
has adopted the 19th Constitutional Amendment Constitutional Council as against the original
with an overwhelming majority. Under the new proposal of having only non-political members.

Universal number by EPFO avail the bank services in any of its branch
through his allotted unique account number.
• Employment Provident Fund Organization
(EPFO) has decided to provide permanent or • The UAN will facilitate subscribers in
universal account numbers (UAN) on the avoiding filing of PF transfer claims on
pattern of core banking services to its over changing jobs.
five crore active subscribers by October 15 • UAN will be allotted to the present active
this year. members by October 15, 2014 and thereafter
• Under core banking services, a customer can the coverage of other members will be taken
up.
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149 || Year Book 2015

• After getting UAN, a subscriber would not MKI, the most advanced fighter aircraft
be issued new PF account number on joining group in the IAF fleet.
new firm. It is expected to provide great relief • Though MRF has been supplying tyres to
to those workers in organised sector who various vehicles of Defence Forces, its journey
frequently change jobs, particularly, in to supply aviation tyres began in 2001. After
construction sector. meeting all requirements and securing
• The UAN would be one account number approvals from various authorities, it started
which would be allotted to a subscriber for supplying helicopter tyres for Chetak fleet in
various schemes run by the EPFO for his 2008. In the same year, it took up the project
entire service period with different of developing main wheel tyres for Sukhoi 30
employers. MKI.
Walmart’s online marketplace model • After completion of the tests, the product has
been cleared by CEMILAC (The cer tifying
• In a first for the domestic retail industry, the authority for Military aviation) for
world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, plans to set commercial production in 2012. These tyres
up an online marketplace model in its cash- are being produced at its facility at Medak
and-carry stores in the country. (Andhra Pradesh).
• The company is entering the wholesale e-
commerce space and will extend the business- Switzerland no more the
to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform to its perfect spot for tax evaders
Best Price Modern Wholesale store members. • Switzerland may no longer be a honeymoon
• The platform will provide them with a spot for tax evaders. A new international
convenient online shopping opportunity. As standard of tax data sharing is set to make
an exclusive virtual store for its members, the things harder for tax haven networks around
e-commerce platform will provide a similar the world that have in the past included
assortment of products, as well as special Switzerland and tiny island nations and
items. enclaves. But India would have to frame new
laws to make use of the new system.
• Online retail, at present, accounts for less
than 1% of the total market in India, but this • The new standard, radically different from
space is slated to grow at 50-55% over the the current system, aims to prevent wealth
next three years to reach R50,400 crore by from flowing into financial “black holes”
2016, according to a report by Crisil. through a systematic global regime of
information sharing.
Muscle added to IAF Sukhoi • Banks and authorities using secrecy laws to
• MRF is set to emerge as a major supplier of evade governments trying to hunt down
tyres for the Indian Air Force (IAF) as the black money hoarders could lose much of
country’s leading tyre maker has now created their power. Past offenders, who have so far
yet another record of supplying aircraft tyres easily escaped by moving assets, will be in a
for the defence. fix when information about them gets leaked.
• After successfully producing and supplying • However, there are some loopholes. Vast
tyres for Indian defence helicopters, the amounts of illicit money are concealed
company has now started supplying through anonymity of contributors in trusts
indigenously developed tyres for Sukhoi 30 and foundations.

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150 || Year Book 2015

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor marketplaces for such currencies.


• The Maharashtra government formally • Apart from bitcoins, ripple, litecoin,
signed shareholder and state support auroracoin, peercoin and dogcoin have seen
agreements for the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai steady pickup in volume as well market
Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, in value. The latest additions include teacoin,
Mumbai recently. aliencoin, magic internet money and
• The project aims at generating industrial heisenberg.
output of Rs 20 lakh crore by 2042. • However, India’s laxmicoin is yet to start as
its promoters are keen on understanding the
• DMIC is slated to be developed in two
Reserve Bank of India views on this venture.
phases, with the project cost for the first
phase being Rs 17,319 crore. Maharashtra The RBI has issued a public advisory,
warning that such currencies are risky and
Industrial Development Corporation
not part of the traditional banking system.
(MIDC) and DMIC Trust has formed a joint
venture to execute the project, in which No 1 employer in Europe: TCS
MIDC will hold 51% stake, while the • India’s largest software services firm Tata
remaining 49% will be held by DMIC.
Consultancy Services (TCS), which has over
• The DMIC projects in Maharashtra would 2.9 lakh employees globally, has been named
cover nearly 29% of land area and 18% as the top employer in Europe by the Top
project influence area. Around 26% of the Employers Institute for the second
state’s population would come under the consecutive year.
corridor that covers eight districts - Thane,
• Tata Consultancy Services was ranked first
Raigad, Pune, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik,
among the 20 companies that were eligible
Ahmednagar and Aurangabad.
for the award. The company was recognised
Bitcoins Outnumber Real Currencies as an exceptional performer across six core
Human Resources (HR) areas; primary
• The world now has a larger number of virtual
currencies than a total 180 recognised conditions, secondary benefits, working
conditions, training, career development and
currencies in different parts of the globe,
notwithstanding issues like bankruptcies and company culture.
growing regulatory unease about bitcoin and • The Top Employers certification is only
its other digital peers. awarded to the best employers around the
world, organisations that demonstrate the
• Within an ear shot of the 200-member mark,
a total of 193 virtual currencies are currently highest standards of employee offerings.
being traded across the internet, although • TCS was certified in eight separate markets
none of them carry an official stamp from the in 2014, including the UK – where the
government or banking regulator from any company secured the certification for the
of the countries. fourth year in a row – and Belgium,
Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland,
• While bitcoin and other such currencies
began coming into existence about four years where it was certified for the second
consecutive year.
ago, a frenzied proliferation has more than
doubled their count, shows an analysis of • This year also saw TCS certified in France,
data available with various online Sweden and Denmark for the first time.

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151 || Year Book 2015

200 new low cost airports in India progress, Luxembourg has responded with
new reasons for opposition, chiefly the risk
• With India poised to become the fastest
that banks outside Europe would draw
growing aviation market in the world in the
next two decades, the government plans to deposits away if the continent’s banking rules
are tightened too much.
build nearly 200 low cost airports.
• The government is keen to expand the sector Gold’s import tariff value raised
to the smaller cities in a bid to improve air • The government has hiked the import tariff
connectivity, especially to Tier-II and Tier- value on gold to $445 per 10 grams from at
III cities. At least four to five smaller airports $433 per 10 gram earlier.
from Andhra Pradesh, including those at
• However, the import tariff value — the base
Kadapa and Rajahmundry, were likely to
price at which customs duty is determined
figure in the list.
to prevent under-invoicing — in case of silver
• At present, the non-metro airports accounted has been reduced to $694 per kg from $699
for about 30 per cent of the total air traffic, per kg earlier.
which was expected to rise to 45 per cent in • The tariff value is revised on a fortnightly
the next few years.
basis after analysing the global price trend.
• The Airports Authority of India was planning Gold is the second largest import item for
to invest Rs.1,500 crore in developing non- India after petroleum. The government had
metro airports in the 12th Plan. taken several measures to curb gold
• Basically, the operation costs were very high shipments to address the high Current
and almost 70 per cent costs were “dollar- Account Deficit (CAD).
denominated.” Also, the cost of aviation • The Commerce Ministry has asked the
turbine fuel (ATF) was quite high in the Finance Ministry to relax curbs on gold
country with some States levying up to 30 imports.
per cent VAT.
Top 10 Global Markets for Australia
EU tax evasion law blocked by Luxemburg
• India has figured among the top 10 markets
• European Union finance ministers failed to for the international business community as
agree on a sweeping new policy to fight tax per Australia’s International Business Survey.
evasion because of resistance from
• India has also emerged as the most
Luxembourg, a tiny country that long has
challenging of the top 10 countries to do
prospered from a secretive banking culture. business with.
• Luxembourg was able to shelve the legislation • AIBS 2014, a comprehensive study of
for the 28-nation bloc because the decision
Australian companies involved in
required unanimous approval.
international business, was released recently.
• Luxembourg has insisted for years it would
• It found that India ranked as ninth
support the proposed law only if non-EU important market currently. The country was
banking hubs within Europe, particularly
also seen as the third important future
Switzerland, also sign up.
market, with respondents saying they were
• But as the EU’s negotiations with planning on doing business in/within the
Switzerland, Liechtenstein and three other next two years.
nations on signing the agreement have made

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152 || Year Book 2015

• The survey captured data from more than while Apple has seen its brand value drop by
1,600 Australian businesses, reflecting the 20 per cent to $160bn.
opinions of a wide range of firms from • As the report highlights, Samsung, HP and
diverse industries operating in over 120 Sony — all product-dominated companies
markets. — have put in a far less impressive
• The United States (chosen by about 15 per performance than the likes of Tencent,
cent), India (six per cent) and the United Facebook and Baidu.
Kingdom and Indonesia (five per cent each) • The latter are up 97 per cent, 68 per cent
make up the remainder of the top five most and 46 per cent respectively, while the former
important future target markets. have moved up 21 per cent, 19 per cent and,
• The survey found that the most important in Sony’s case, a drop of 1 per cent.
market for international business for the • Meanwhile, Twitter and LinkedIn are the
participants varied by the industry. latest entrants into the top 20 list, with brand
• Education and Training industry stood as the values of $14bn and $12bn respectively.
most important market for Australian
Metro AG
international business community when it
came to India. • German retailer Metro AG plans to have 50
• On the list of top most important overseas wholesale stores in India by 2020 and make
markets in terms of international revenue, the country one of its ‘focus expansion’
India stood at the ninth position, while US markets alongside Russia, China and Turkey.
and China took the first and second rank • India has always been an important future
respectively. growth market of Metro .
• On rating the ease of doing business in their • The Dusseldorf-based company was the first
most important markets as compared to global player to enter the cash-andcarry
Australia, only 9 per cent of businesses wholesale segment in India, back in India. It
perceived India as an easier or much easier currently operates 16 outlets in the country.
market than Australia, with 81 per cent Prepayment fee on floating rate term loans
regarding it as more or much more difficult.
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that
World’s top Brand banks cannot levy charges on individual
• Google has knocked Apple off the perch as customers if they choose to close their
the world’s top brand in terms of value in the floating rate loans.
latest rankings released by global market • Some banks charge a fee if an individual
research agency Millward Brown. borrower chooses to close his or her loan.
• The internet search giant may occasionally This fee varies from bank to bank, and is
tick off the public and regulators across the mostly in the range of 1-3%.
globe with regards to its data collection • In its first bi-monthly monetary policy review
activities but it hasn’t dented its brand value, on 1 April, RBI had indicated that in the
according to Millward Brown’s 2014 100 Top interest of their consumers, banks should
BrandZ report. consider allowing their borrow ers the
• Google’s brand value shot up 40 per cent in possibility of prepaying floating rate term
a year to $US158.84 billion ($A171.86bn), loans without any penalty.

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153 || Year Book 2015

• Accordingly, it is advised that banks will not Agreement between TCS and Mitsubishi
be permitted to charge foreclosure charges/ • India’s largest software services firm Tata
pre-payment penalties on all floating rate Consultancy Services (TCS) has signed an
term loans sanctioned to individual agreement with Japanese major Mitsubishi
borrowers. Corporation to form a single IT services unit.
Automatic tax information • The merger, in which TCS will hold 51 per
cent stake and Mitsubishi 49 per cent, will
• As they continue their efforts to clamp down create a new IT services company of
on the menace of black money, India and
significant scale in the Japanese market with
other countries will have to wait at least till annual turnover of over $600 million.
2017 before the new global standard for
• ITF brings its long-standing relationships
automatic exchange of tax information comes
with Japanese corporations, talented work-
into effect.
force and competencies in industries like
• India, Switzerland and 45 other nations had
retail, distri-bution and trading.
agreed upon automatic exchange of tax
information, which is seen as a major step • This will complement TCS’ deep domain
forward in global efforts against banking knowledge, technology expertise and strong
secrecy practices. execution track record.
• Paris-based Organisation for Economic • T CS’ Global Network Delivery Model
Cooperation and Development (OECD) sets (GNDMTM) capabilities will also enable the
the global tax standards and frames Japanese corporations’ globalisation
conventions against tax frauds, among others. ambitions.
• The new standard, expected to be finalised • The company will provide tremendous
in September this year, provides for exchange additional value to clients in Japan, while
of information on bank account balances, employees will secure the advantages of
interests, dividends, other financial income building their careers in a global organisation.
and sales proceeds to compute possible Cadbury India is now
capital gains. Mondelez India Foods Ltd
• By becoming part of the declaration, these
• Cadbury India, a subsidiary of Mondelez
countries have committed to implemen-ting
International, today changed its name to
automatic exchange of tax information. The
Mondelez India Foods Limited.
declaration also comes as a boost for India,
which is making efforts to get details from • The change in name of Cadbury is in line
Switzerland on alleged illicit funds stashed with the gradual changeover of the name of
away by Indians there. all subsidiaries of Mondelez International
globally, the company said in a statement.
• Automatic exchange of information would
• However, the company said change in name
allow for “collecting all bank information on
of the company will have no impact on the
non-resident to pass this information on to names or packaging of its products like
the countries of residence of these taxpayers Cadbury Dairy Milk, 5 Star, Gems,
so that they can no longer hide money on Bournville, Perk, Celebrations, Choclairs,
offshore accounts. Halls, Bournvita, Tang and Oreo, which will
• The standard was developed at the OECD continue to be sold under the same brand
and endorsed by the G20 Finance Ministers. names as before.
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154 || Year Book 2015

• From now onwards, the new name of the which kept India out of the Priority Foreign
company will appear on the back of the Country list, Commerce Secretary Rajeev
products. Kher said all issues between the two
countries, including those related to IPR,
FII inflows for 2014
should be discussed at the Trade Policy
• Amid hopes of a stable and reform oriented Forum. The US-India Trade Policy Forum is
government after general elections, net the principal platform for dialogue between
investments by foreign institutional investors the countries, with focus groups on
into India so far this year has reached $10 agriculture, investment, IPR, services and
billion level, while their cumulative total tariff and non-tariff barriers.
inflows into the country is nearing $200 • India has clearly conveyed to the US that the
billion mark. government of India will not subject itself to
• According to the latest data compiled by the investigations. The secretary said India
capital markets regulator SEBI, the net has addressed all concerns of US pharma
investments by FIIs into Indian equity companies with regard to compulsory licenses
markets since the beginning of 2014 have (CL), ever-greening of patents, data
crossed $ 5 billion (over Rs. 30,000 crore), exclusivity and patent linkage.
while the same for debt markets also stands • The US industry had raised the matter of
near $5 billion (about Rs. 29,000 crore) - India’s rejection of patents for Bristol-Myers
taking the total to close to Rs. 60,000 crore. Squibb’s Sprycel and Novartis AG’s Glivec.
• This includes net investments of about Rs.
1,500 crore so far in April. This is despite a Exim Bank to establish PDC in Africa
net outflow of about Rs. 7,000 crore from • Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank)
debt markets, as equity markets have seen a plans to set up a project development
net inflow of over Rs. 8,500 crore this month company (PDC) in Africa, with the
till April 25, the latest trading session. participation of State Bank of India (SBI),
• According to market analysts, FIIs are bullish IL&FS and African Development Bank.
on India and they are expecting a stable • The new company will essentially look to
government emerging post-elections. bring infrastructure projects in Africa to a
• FIIs, the main driver of the equity market, bankable stage and facilitate exports from
have helped pushed up the benchmark BSE India to Africa. This is the first time Exim
Sensex by over 7 per cent so far in 2014 and Bank is looking to set up a PDC and also the
is now being seen as moving closer to 23,000 first time in Africa.
mark. • Meanwhile, the bank announced a net profit
IPR laws defended by India of Rs. 710 crore during the financial year
2013-14. The bank restructured assets worth
• Stressing that its intellectual property rights Rs. 1,400 crore in 2013-14 and it said that
(IPR) regime complies with international it has assets worth Rs. 400 crore in the
laws, India bluntly said it will not take part restructuring pipeline.
in any unilateral investigation by the US on • 189 LOCs, covering 75 countries in Africa,
its IPR.
Asia, CIS, Europe and Latin America, with
• A day after the US Trade Representative credit commitments aggre-gating $ 10.33
(USTR) released its Special 301 report,

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155 || Year Book 2015

billion are currently available for utilisation, • The five economies with the highest GDP
while a number of prospective LOCs are at per capita are Qatar, Macao, Luxembourg,
various stages of negotiation. Kuwait and Brunei.
Third largest economy • Eleven economies have more than USD
50,000 per capita, while they collectively
• In a matter of six years, India emerged as the account for less than 0.6 per cent of the
world’s third-largest economy in 2011 from world’s population. The US has the 12th-
being the tenth largest in 2005, moving highest GDP per capita.
ahead of Japan, while the US remained the • The five economies with highest actual
largest economy closely followed by China. individual consumption per capita are
• According to the major findings of the ICP, Bermuda, US, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong
six of the world’s 12 largest economies were and Luxembourg.
in the middle-income Nigeria account for
about half of the African economy. Pact between Green Trend and Bharatiya
• When combined, the 12 largest economies Mahila Bank
accounted for two-thirds of the world • Trends in Vogue, Cavinkare’s arm that
economy and 59 per cent of the population. manages unisex hair salon network Green
• The purchasing power parities (PPPs)-based Trends, and Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB)
world GDP amounted to USD 90,647 have entered into a pact that seeks to make
billion, compared with USD 70,294 billion the entrepreneurial plunge easier for women.
measured by exchange rates, adding that the • Budding women entrepreneurs who take up
share of middle-income economies in global a franchisee of Green Trends (GT) can get
GDP is 48 per cent when using PPPs and 32 two-thirds of their total investment (Rs.40-
per cent when using exchange rates. 50 lakh) financed by BMB without any
• The six largest middle-income economies - collateral.
China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia and • Collateral security is the key in getting loans
Mexico - account for 32.3 per cent of world from banks for entrepreneurs. This agreement
GDP, whereas the six largest high-income will help all prospective franchisees, especially
economies - US, Japan, Germany, France, women, across the country to get collateral-
UK and Italy - account for 32.9 per cent. free loans.
• China and India make up two-thirds of the • The company helps fran-chisees choose right
Asia and the Pacific economy, excluding location, get good realty deal and select right
Japan and South Korea, which are part of the vendors for supplying equipment and
OECD com-parison. Russia accounts for systems. It has lined up a string of vendors
more than 70 per cent of the CIS, and Brazil who could do the works in salons at a
for 56 per cent of Latin America. South competitive rate than others.
Africa, Egypt, and hina has the largest share
of the world’s expenditure for investment El- Nino and it’s impact on Indian economy
(gross fixed capital formation) followed by • Recently, private forecaster Skymet predicted
the US at 13 per cent. a sub-normal monsoon in India, courtesy El
• China and India account for about 80 per Nino that’s threatening a wide-spread
cent of investment expenditure in the Asia devastation globally. Given the fears of an
and the Pacific region.
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156 || Year Book 2015

imminent drought, the next government has • La Coop fr an agri-food organisation in


a tall task ahead of it Quebec that is one of the project
• The Skymet CEO feels an equitable shareholders, has agreed to purchase some
distribution of rains can be a silver lining in 5,00,000 tonnes of urea a year for
this situation. According to him, there is a distribution across the province, Canada and
40% chance that rainfall in June-September several US states.
would be less than average, a 25% chance of • In January 2013, IFFCO’s Canadian
a drought and zero percent chance of excess subsidiary acquired the land for the plant.
rains. The site is at Bncour Port and Industrial
• The impact of El Nino need not be source Park, which provides access via land, rail and
of concern for staples. Its impact on food water to markets across North America.
prices is expected to be minimal as India has • The deep-water port will also facilitate
sufficient stock of cereals. Most fruits track exports, especially to markets in Europe.
30% import duty, if that is brought down, Quebec province, Canada’s largest, is located
it can be controlled too. in the east-central region of the country.
• Staple inflation is never a problem, but Introduction of minimum wage in Switzerland
soaring prices of fruits, vegetables, pulses,
fruits etc are. • Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to
• By June-July the monsoon effects will begin introduce a mini-mum wage of 3,000 Swiss
to feed into the households and market. francs per month (4,500 dollars).
• Statistically India has faced drought every 4.4 • 77 per cent of voters cast ballots against the
years. All El Nino years were not necessarily measure.
drought years, though the opposite is true. • At 25 dollars an hour, it would be the highest
Since last drought in India was in 2009, this minimum wage in the world.
year can be a drought year. There is a • The referendum was launched by left-wing
consensus among the experts that if the next parties and trade unions, which argued that
government manages to keep the lid on fiscal such a salary was necessary for making a
deficit, and if RBI governor Raghuram Rajan decent living in Switzerland, where the cost
keeps his promise on rates, India may avert of living is among the highest in Europe.
El-Nino devastations. • The government and employers associations
had campaig-ned against the plan, warning
IFFCO to set up urea Plant in Canada
that companies would shift operations to
• Leading fertiliser cooperative IFFCO said neighbouring countries and Switzerland’s
that its subsidiary received permission from important tourism sector would suffer.
the provincial government of Quebec to set
up a $ 1.6 billion urea plant. Restrictions on foreign
Exchange Proprietary Trades
• The proposed facility will have a production
capacity of up to 1.6 million tonnes of urea • A stronger rupee has paved the way for high-
and 7,60,000 tonnes of diesel diesel exhaust street banks to have a greater play in the
fluid (DEF. currency market, with last year’s unnerving
• The estimated project cost of $ 1.6 billion is choppiness suddenly looking like a thing of
based on the most recent feasibility study. the past.

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157 || Year Book 2015

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently • However, they could set up only 25,331 such
told several large lenders that they are free to machines by March 2014, thus falling short
carry out foreign exchange proprietary trades by 9,337, as per Finance Ministry data.
in which bank treasuries bet on the dollar- Installation of Automatic Teller Machines
rupee movement. (ATMs), especially by public sector lenders,
• The move will deepen the currency market has been a major priority for the
and offer finer foreign exchange rates to government’s efforts to ensure financial
customers, particularly large corporates with inclusion.
regular exports, imports and dollar • Pursuant to Budget 2013-14 announcement,
borrowings. public sector banks were required to ensure
• The RBI allows each bank a certain net open an onsite ATM in ever branch. As on March
position (NOP) limit for prop (or, 2014, Allahabad Bank was yet to set up
proprietary) trades; the limit varies from $20 1,950 ATMs, Central Bank of India 1,620,
million to $100 million, depending on a Syndicate Bank 1,085, Bank of India 7,44,
bank’s size and level of treasury activity. State Bank of India (SBI) 696, Indian
• In 2013, when the rupee buckled under Overseas Bank 553 and Punjab National
speculators’ attack, the limits were whittled Bank (PNB) 499. On the other hand, Bank
down by banks to $5 million and even zero of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Canara
at the RBI’s instruction. Bank, IDBI Bank and the four associates of
SBI managed to meet the targets given to
FDI restrictions on online retailers to be eased them.
• India could allow global online retailers such • There are roughly about 1.4 lakh ATMs of
as Amazon.com to sell their own products, public and private sector banks in the
removing restrictions that have held back country. Financial inclusion aims to extend
competition in one of the world’s biggest, financial services to the large hitherto un-
and most price-sensitive, retail markets. ser ved population of the country. In
• The decision, is one of the first tangible signs addition, it strives towards a more inclusive
of economic reform by the business-friendly growth by making financing available to the
government of Prime Minister Narendra poor in particular.
Modi. U.S. push to tag India as emerging economy
• The move could allow the government to
circumvent political opposition to opening • The crisis at the World Trade Organisation
up India’s $500 billion retail sector to global (WTO) talks in Geneva has deepened with
retail giants such as Wal-Mart Store. the United States demanding that India and
China be categorised as ‘emerging’ rather
The target for installing ATM than as ‘developing economies’. India is
• Eighteen public sector banks, including SBI resisting the move which, if it materialises,
and PNB, failed to fulfil the target for will halve WTO caps applicable to India’s
installing ATMs during 2013-14, leaving food subsidies. It will also require India to
more than over 9,300 branches without cash grant market access to the U.S. The U.S. is
vending machines. As part of the target, a insisting that India meet its food security law
total of 34,668 onsite ATMs were to be obligations with American imports.
installed by PSU banks during the last fiscal. • “The U.S. insists that economies such as

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158 || Year Book 2015

India and Indonesia with high rates of • RIL, which is at present debt-free, would
growth can no longer be categorised as raise debt of Rs.60,000 crore in the next two
developing countries,” the sources said. years and by the time this investment cycle
“India’s stand is that going by per capita was finished, it would once again be debt-
income, it is actually the world’s largest Least free in 2017-18 on a much larger basis.
Developed Country where about 600 million • Reliance Jio would start offering 4G
live at less than $2 a day,” the sources said. broadband service in 2015, and it would be
• The U.S. has also tabled a study in Geneva, one of the largest job-creating and wealth-
produced by its allies Pakistan and Canada, creating business initiatives in India. About
that claims food subsidies in India and China Rs.70,000 crore had already been invested in
exceed those in the U.S. and the EU.India this business, and 10,000 people were
has countered the study, with data to show working across the country.
that the U.S. farm subsidies to its corporate
sector are to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000 SEBI Initiating a wide
per capita per year against India’s mere $200. Range of measures of reform
• At the Geneva talks, the U.S. has so far • Initiating a wide range of measures, Securities
successfully thwarted India’s efforts aimed at and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) asked
finding a permanent protection against even all listed public sector undertakings (PSUs)
the WTO’s agriculture caps currently to ensure at least 25 per cent public
applicable to its food subsidies. America’s shareholding within three years and unveiled
own agenda of an agreement on Trade new norms for research analysts, employee
Facilitation, however, is well on track for the stock option schemes as well as reforms to
July 31 deadline as laid down at the Bali boost the primary market.
Ministerial. • Besides, the capital market watchdog has
decided to share know your client (KYC)
Reliance would start
information with entities regulated by other
offering 4G broadband service in 2015 financial sector watchdogs, a move aimed at
• Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has announced having common norms across the financial
plans to invest Rs. 1.80 lakh crore ($30 market.
billion) in three years in petrochemicals, • Approving a slew of reform measures, the
refining, retail and broadband businesses with SEBI board said that all listed PSUs should
an aim to be among the Fortune 50 achieve a minimum public shareholding of
companies by the time it completes 40 years 25 per cent within three years.
of corporate journey in 2017. • The decision, aimed at ensuring uniformity
• RIL Chairman and Managing Director among listed entities irrespective of their
Mukesh Ambani said this while unveiling his promoters, would also help the government
vision for the company at the annual general raise close to Rs.60,000 crore from the sale
meeting .”In the past 37 years, we invested of shares in around 36 listed PSUs where the
Rs.2.40 lakh crore, and in this current three public shareholding is less than 25 per cent.
years’ investment cycle, we will be investing • Under current norms, government
over Rs.1.80 lakh crore. We are currently at
undertakings should have at least 10 per cent
the mid-point of largest investment
public shareholding whereas for non-PSU
programme in Reliance’s history,” Mr.
firms the minimum level is 25 per cent.
Ambani told shareholders..
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159 || Year Book 2015

Looking to revive the primary market, the • FDI reflects a lasting interest and long-term
market regulator has eased norms related to relationship, while under portfolio
the size of an initial public offer (IPO) and investment, the relationship between the
pricing of preferential shares while allowing investor and the company remains largely
anchor investors to have a greater exposure anonymous, the report says.
to the offering.
India should roll out the
FMC stop futures trading in potato Goods and Services Tax: World Bank
• The Forward Markets Commission (FMC) • Ahead of the Modi-government’s first
has curbed futures trading in potato contracts budget, the World Bank, suggested that India
for July, August and September to check should roll out the Goods and Services Tax
prices by disallowing fresh positions and (GST), reduce subsidies, and broaden tax
hiking the deposit amount on buyers. base to promote growth, projecting it to be
• The FMC has taken this decision in the lower at 5.5 per cent for 2014-15, from the
backdrop of rising prices of potato and other earlier forecast of 5.7 per cent.
essential commodities, which could be • “Implementing the Goods and Services Tax
aggravated by the likelihood of a sub-normal (regime), targeting subsidies better, and
monsoon. broadening the tax base will help create the
fiscal space for supporting accelerated growth
Over 10 % foreign investment in listed firms and poverty reduction,” said Onno Ruhl,
treat as FDI: Mayaram panel World Bank’s Country Director-India.
• Seeking to simplify norms, a government • He was speaking at a function here to release
panel has suggested that foreign investment the World Bank’s report on Global Economic
of over 10 per cent in a listed company be Prospects (GEP) 2014. Lead author of the
treated as FDI and the one from NRIs on a report Andrew Burns, too, was present at the
non-repatriable basis be deemed as domestic launch of the report in India.
investment. • The report, which was released globally
• The panel on rationalising definitions of FDI earlier, has scaled down economic growth
and FII, headed by Finance Secretary Arvind projection for the current financial year to
Mayaram, said foreign investment in an 5.5 per cent from 5.7 per cent estimated in
unlisted company should be treated as FDI.It April.
aims at removing ambiguities over clear • “The growth in India is projected at 5.5 per
demarcation between FDI and foreign
cent in 2014-15, accelerating to 6.3 per cent
institutional investment. in 2015-16 and 6.6 per cent in 2016-17,” the
• The report also says an investor may be GEP 2014 report says.
allowed to invest below the 10 per cent
threshold, and “this can be treated as FDI, SEBI consider level
subject to the condition that the FDI stake Tax field for investors in bonds
is raised to 10 per cent or beyond within one • Suggesting uniform tax treatment for all
year from the date of the first purchase.’’ investors, Securities and Exchange Board of
• If the stake is not raised to 10 per cent or India (SEBI) Chairman U. K. Sinha, said the
above, then the investment can be treated as government needed to come out with a
portfolio investment.Foreign direct detailed policy on the matter to remove the
investment is subject to sectoral caps. existing ‘anomalies’ in the bond market.
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160 || Year Book 2015

• At present, tax rates vary for entities making the reason for delay, request for additional
investments in bonds.Mr. Sinha said the information and likely time for disposal of
more difficult issue pertained to tax the application, it added.
treatment or the withholding tax for investors • As per the citizens’ charter for RBI’s
in bond market. departments which have public interface,
• Noting that there were ‘certain anomalies’, deposit accounts department should issue
the SEBI chief said the level of withholding cheque book within 20 minutes and demand
tax for an FII investing in infrastructure draft should be issued in an hour, among
bonds was different from that of others. others.
• Emphasising that procedures had been • Besides, refinance facility and disbursement
simplified for the corporate bond market, he of loans should take place in the same day
said SEBI was in dialogue with industry to of application while clearing should be
encourage them to come out with more completed by three days.
issuances.At present, $10 billion is the • Similarly, timelines have been fixed for in
maximum investment limit allowed for principle approval to banks for IPO,
entities such as sovereign wealth funds in preferential issues of capital and qualified
government securities. institutional placements (30 days) and
• On e-voting facility for shareholders, Mr. authorisation for import of gold and silver by
Sinha said listed companies had to follow banks (60 days).
SEBI norms. Recently, the Corporate Affairs • As per one recommendation of the FSLRC,
Ministry extended the time till December all regulators are required to move to a time-
this year for companies to mandatorily have defined approv al process, subject to
e-voting facility under the new Companies applicable laws, for all permissions including
Act. licence to do business, as well as launch of
products and services.
RBI fixed schedules for regulatory approvals
Ranbaxy gets FDA nod
• Moving to a time-defined process, the
Reserve Bank of India, fixed schedules for • Ranbaxy Laboratories has received approval
various regulatory approvals, including grant from the U.S. Food and Drug
of private bank licence, and also released a Administration (FDA) to launch a cheaper
citizens’ charter for its various services such copy of Novartis AG’s blood pressure pill
as clearing of transactions. Diovan, bolstering its outlook after a raft of
• The release of ‘Timelines for Regulatory regulatory bans for poor production quality
Approvals’ and ’Citizens’ Charter’ for delivery at its India facilities dented investor
of services on the RBI’s website is a part of sentiment.
implementation of non-legislative • Ranbaxy, which is in the process of being
recommendations of the Financial Sector acquired by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries
Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), for $3.2 billion, will be the first rival
the central bank said in a notification. drugmaker to launch a copy of Diovan in the
• In case an applicant does not get a response United States, and will be entitled to six
within the indicated timeline, they can months of exclusivity to sell it.
approach the head of the department, who • The drug, whose chemical name is valsartan,
will respond with status of the application, should add about $200 million to Ranbaxy’s
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161 || Year Book 2015

sales and $100 million to its profit after tax the fund gets activated. The Rs.500-crore
during the exclusive sale period, said Praful Fund, which lapsed in 2013, is being re-
Bohra, a senior research analyst at Mumbai- launched, according to a Union Commerce
based brokerage Nirmal Bang. Ministry official.
• Swiss firm Novartis’s once-best selling drug • The commodity fund was established in
Diovan lost patent protection in September, 2003 to help industries engaged in producing
2012, but it has been spared generic four commodities —- tea, coffee, tobacco
competition because Ranbaxy, which holds and natural rubber. The idea behind setting
the right to launch the first generic of up the fund was to help the trade stay in
Diovan, was struggling with quality control business by extending them support if there
issues at its manufacturing sites. is a drop in their commodity prices… the
• The FDA has banned all of Ranbaxy’s India- idea was to establish India as a reliable
based plants under a wider scrutiny of the supplier in the international markets.
country’s $15-billion pharmaceutical • As per current rules, prices of certain
industry, which is the largest supplier of commodities have to drop 20 per cent in
medicines to the United States. international markets for the fund to kick
ONGC plans to invest Rs.5,700 cr in.This was considered stringent, and the
Commerce Ministry has never had to operate
• Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said it the fund.Now a move is afoot to revive the
would invest over Rs.5,700 crore in re- fund and lower the threshold to 10 per cent.
development of its giant Mumbai High
(North) oil and gas field off the west coast. RBI Governor
The project will yield an incremental 6.997 Launches Indian Bank’s mobile Branches
million tonnes of crude oil and 5.253 billion • Indian Bank has, as part of the urban
cubic metres of gas by 2030, the company
financial inclusion initiative, launched two
said in a statement here. mobile branches with ATM facility in
• The board of ONGC approved the proposal Chennai.
for re-development of its giant offshore field,
• Under the financial inclusion initiative,
Mumbai High (North), involving a capital
Indian Bank has provided banking services to
investment of Rs.5,706.47 crore, including
5,098 villages, of which 4,934 villages have
foreign exchange component of Rs.4,421.76
been covered through smart card enabled
crore.
business correspondent model.
• The project is designed to carry forward the
• Bank already operates eight mobile branches
success of the previous two editions of re-
development projects of the fields that were providing banking services in 70 villages.
discovered four decades ago. This will give a Nabard Launches Rupay Kisan Cards
new lease of life to the giant field.
• National Bank for Agriculture and Rural
Price Stabilisation Development (Nabard) today rolled out
Fund Scheme may be modified RuPay Kisan Card and RuPay Debit Card,
it is in the nature of ATM cum Debit Card,
• The Union Commerce Ministry is trying to
is being issued by any cooperative bank in the
modify the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme state of Haryana.
so as to lower the price threshold at which

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162 || Year Book 2015

• RuPay cards by cooperative banks will enable field in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block
them to improve their customer service and was supposed to be 80 million standard cubic
bring it on par with any other bank to meters per day but actual production was
farmers and other customers. only 35.33 mmscmd in 2011-12, 20.88
mmscmd in 2012-13 and 9.77 mmscmd in
BSE forms 11-member
2013-14.
Advisory group on REITs
• The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has RBI eases reserve norms for
launched an advisory group on REITs (real banks issuing infra bonds
estate investment trusts), which are aimed at • The objective of these instructions is to
attracting long-term funds to the cash- mitigate the Asset-Liability Management
strapped realty sector from both foreign as (ALM) problems faced by banks in extending
well as domestic investors. project loans to infrastructure and core
• REITs can bring in USD 10 billion of industries sectors, and also to ease the raising
foreign funds into the sector by the end of of long term resources for project loans to
this fiscal. infrastructure and affordable housing sectors
• REITs were originally announced in FY 2014 • The RBI said that apart from what is
Budget, but at that time the government did technically defined as infrastructure,
not offer any tax sops to attract investors. But affordable housing is another segment of the
Arun Jaitley had announced tax incentives economy which requires long-term funding.
like exemption from long-term capital gains • India is looking at investing $1 trillion in
tax to popularise REITs. infrastructure development by 2017, half of
which is expected to come from the private
Govt slaps $579 m sector.
Additional penalty on Reliance Industries • Finance Minister during budget speech also
• The government has slapped an additional said that banks will be encouraged to extend
penalty of $579 million on Reliance long term loans to infrastructure sector with
Industries for producing less than targeted flexible structuring to absorb potential
natural gas from its KG-D6 block. adverse contingencies, sometimes known as
• With this, the total penalty on RIL for the 5/25 structure.
missing the target in four fiscal years • Under the 5/25 structure, bank may fix
beginning April 1, 2010 now stands at a longer amortisation period for loans to
cumulative $2.376 billion. projects in infrastructure and core industries
sectors, say 25 years, with periodic
• The Production Sharing Contract (PSC)
refinancing, say every five years. This ensures
allows RIL and its partners BP Plc and Niko
that banks Asset and Liability is properly
Resources to deduct all capital and operating
managed.
expenses from the sale of gas before sharing
profit with the government. SEBI finalises draft norms for Infra
• The creation of excess or unutilised Investment Trusts
infrastructure impacts the government’s profit
• The Securities and Exchange Board of India,
share and this is sought to be corrected by came out with draft guidelines for
disallowing part of the expenses incurred.
Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs),
• Gas output from the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas
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163 || Year Book 2015

which will enable creation of a new India, for the purpose of pooling in capital
investment product for arranging long-term from Indian and foreign investors for
financing for infrastructure projects. investing as per a pre-decided policy.
• These InvITs can be listed on the stock • The Securities and Exchange Board of India
exchanges, will get tax benefits and will invest said that all AIF have to disclose the
the funds collected from investors in ‘disciplinary history’ of the fund, its sponsor,
infrastructure projects, including PPP. manager, directors, partners, promoters and
• An InvIT prior to making an offer of units, associates for the last five years.
either through public issue or private • Further, SEBI said any change in placement
placement, may have strategic investors such memorandum (which consists of details of
as banks, international multilateral financial disciplinary actions of the funds) to all would
institutions, FPIs including sovereign wealth be intimated to investors and to SEBI once
funds, which together invest not less than 5 every six months on a consolidated basis, as
per cent of the size of the InvIT or such against the current practice of seven days.
amount as may be specified by Sebi. • Under SEBI guidelines, AIFs can operate
• The proposed holding of an InvIT in the broadly in three categories. The Category-I
underlying assets shall be not less than Rs.500 AIFs are those funds that get incentives from
crore, and the offer size of the InvIT shall not the government, SEBI or other regulators and
be less then Rs.250 crore at the time of initial include Social Venture Funds, Infrastructure
offer of units. Funds, Venture Capital Funds and SME
• The aggregate consolidated borrowing of the Funds. The Category-III AIFs are those
InvIT and the underlying SPVs shall never trading with a view to making short-term
exceed 49 per cent of the value of InvIT returns and it includes hedge funds, among
assets. Further, for any borrowing exceeding others. The Category-II AIFs can invest
25 per cent of the value of InvIT assets, anywhere in any combination but are
requirement of credit rating and unit holders prohibited from raising debt, except for
approval has been made mandatory. meeting their day-to-day operational
• InvITs would allow investors to invest in requirements. These AIFs include private
specific products linked to infrastructure equity funds, debt funds or fund of funds,
projects, while providing necessary as also all others falling outside the ambit of
safeguards. Besides, it would help the two other categories.
corporates raise significant amounts of capital
for their projects. GEAC clears field trials for GM crops
• An InvIT which proposes to invest at least • The Genetic Engineering Approv a l
80 per cent of the value of the assets in the Committee (GEAC) has given the green
completed and revenue generating signal for field trials of genetically modified
infrastructure assets, The remaining 20 per (GM) rice, mustard, cotton, chickpea and
cent may be invested in under construction brinjal.
infrastructure projects. • While the GEAC has approved the
commercial release of Bt brinjal it has been
SEBI eases disclosure norms for AIFs
stayed by the Ministry of Environment and
• Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) are Mr. Pande said the government would have
basically funds established, or incorporated in to take a decision on this.
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164 || Year Book 2015

• The only genetically modified crop approved to enable entrepreneurs seeking to exit
for release in India is cotton. insolvent business.
• Three companies - Bayer Bio Sciences, • RBI have been thinking how to create a
Monsanto and BASF have been allowed to system so that people should voluntarily
import the Soyabean oil, which is genetically withdraw from an unattractive business.
modified. The last time Central Food • While there is a talk of providing legal
Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), provision in the Companies Act in this
gave a clean chit to imported samples. regard, but the RBI would like to work on
TRAI suggests Rs.2,400-crore examining the regulatory framework for the
plan for two island chains voluntary withdrawal by the entrepreneur.
• To identify stressed assets, RBI has
• The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India established a Credit Central Repository of
(TRAI), recommended a Rs.2,400-crore Information. It ensures that if a large
project to connect India’s two major outlying borrower defaults with one bank, the
island chains ;Andaman & Nicobar Islands information about the same is passed on to
(ANI) and Lakshadweep, with stable and the other banks on quarterly basis.
strong cable-based networks to replace the
satellite mode of transmission. Firms with 10 or more
• The move is expected to encourage more Employees may come under EPF Act
operators to run services in these island • The government is considering a proposal to
chains. At the same time, the regulator has reduce threshold limit for coverage of firms
recommended the retention of the satellite under the EPF Act to 10 persons, At present,
option. all those firms employing 20 or more workers
• For ANI, TRAI has suggested connecting 22 are covered by the retirement fund body
islands, which included 18 islands with a Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation
population of above 100 and four islands (EPFO) for providing a social security net.
which have the presence of police, forest • The timeframe for implementing this
camps and tourists. Only 29 out of 576 proposal has not been fixed. The number of
islands in ANI are inhabited and 90 per cent employees to be benefited from this proposal
of the population lives on just three islands has not been worked out. And EPFO has no
— North, Middle and South Andaman plan to bring unorganised workers under the
Islands. provident fund scheme.
• For Lakshadweep, TRAI has projected • EPFO runs social security schemes including
connectivity in ten inhabited villages. Here, Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme 1952,
11 out of 36 islands are inhabited. Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 and
Lakshadweep is part of the Kerala circle and Employees Deposit Linked Insurance
only two operators — BSNL and Airtel Scheme 1976 for the organised sector
operate services — as against eight in workers at present.
mainland Kerala.
Cabinet clears bill to
RBI Working on Bankruptcy Exit System empower SEBI to deal with ponzi schemes
• In the absence of a good bankruptcy code in • A Bill to effectively empower the market
India, Reserve Bank is working on a system regulator SEBI to crack down on ponzi
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165 || Year Book 2015

schemes and investment frauds was approved micro, small and medium enterprises
by the Cabinet. Following the CCEA (MSME) sector for growth. One such long-
approval, the Securities Laws (Amendment) overdue step is the announcement of revision
Bill will be introduced in Parliament. of the existing definition.
• The Bill seeks to give SEBI sweeping powers • The threshold limits of defining MSMEs
like attachment of properties, launch of were set way back in 2006 and, while global
recovery proceedings, seeking call data MSMEs are a lot larger than Indian MSMEs,
records to investigate cases and ordering the definition makes it difficult to create
search and seizure against manipulators and linkages between MSMEs in India and the
fraudsters. MSMEs worldwide.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka and RBI ink • Definition is based on investment in plant
and machinery. Inflation has increased the
investment pact
cost of investment under plant and
• The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and machinery, and this strengthens the case to
the Reserve Bank of India (RBI signed an expeditiously review the definition based on
agreement, enabling the RBI to access the Sri investment criteria.
Lankan government securities market, up to • Access to finance remains a challenge for
a maximum value of $500 million. MSMEs. Setting up a committee to examine
• The CBSL, in turn, will be able to further the financial architecture of MSMEs is
diversify its reserves management activities w elcome; how ever, what is required is
into Indian rupee denominated assets. concrete recommendations for faster
availability of credit at low cost.
SAT extends stay on SEBI
• Issues related to service tax for MSMEs are
order on Karvy Stock Broking
yet to be resolved. For instance, an increase
• Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) extended in the threshold limit for levy of service tax
the stay on implementing the Securities and is desirable.
Exchange Board of India (SEBI) order that • The proposed entrepreneurship-friendly
barred Karvy Stock Broking from taking up Bankruptcy Law is a much needed breather
new assignment or launching new schemes. for the industry, and will facilitate easy exit
• SEBI’s ruling was with regard to the IPO for loss-making units.
scam of 2003-2005. Earlier in June, SAT had • Finally, the focus on SME development in
stayed the SEBI order till a hearing. the Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir, as
• SEBI had charged that Karvy Stock Broking announced in the budget, will lead to
had “failed to maintain high standards of balanced regional development, especially
integrity and further indulged in through better rail connectivity in the
manipulation and malpractices and thereby Northeast.
violated the code of conduct” specified in its
Tata Value ties up with Snapdeal
Broker Regulations.
• Online marketplace Snapdeal and Tata Value
MSME: a road map
Homes, a subsidiary of Tata Housing with
for executing budget announcements
focus on affordable housing , announced
• This year’s budget has announced specific partnership to enable users to buy houses
steps that provide a positive direction to the online.
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166 || Year Book 2015

• As part of the partnership, about 1,000 RBI panel to study


homes across projects in cities such as tax structure on financial instruments
Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and
• The Reserve Bank of India, set up a working
Chennai will be put up for sale on Snapdeal.
group to study various issues relating to
These houses are priced between Rs.18 lakh
taxation of financial instruments.
and Rs.70 lakh and range from 1 BHK to 3
BHK. • The working group is expected to suggest
appropriate rationalisation measures to boost
• Tata Value Homes will continue to sell
private financial savings. It will review the
through its own portal as well.
current tax structure as applicable to various
• Upon possession of the house, customers financial instruments issued in theIndian
buying the house through Snapdeal will get financial system. It will also identify possible
Rs.10,000 a month for a year as an assured ‘tax arbitrage’ among financial instruments
rent (whether they stay on premise or lease under the extant tax structure. Also, it will
it out) as part of the deal. suggest rationalisation of tax treatment across
Centre to unveil financial instruments to promote financial
home loan Scheme for Transgenders savings and for minimising distortions,
taking into account the recommendations of
• The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban
Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) has proposed earlier committees in this regard and the draft
rolling out a loan assistance scheme that will Direct Taxes Code.
for the first time help transgenders and • BalbirKaur, Adviser, Department of
economically weaker sections to secure home Economic and Policy Research, Reserve Bank
loans in urban areas. of India, will be the convenor of the group.
• The Ministry has tweaked the existing Rajiv • It is expected to submit its report within
RinnYojna (RRY), which was launched as an three months of its first meeting.
instrument to aid the EWS (economically India’s largest solar
weaker sections) and LIG (lower income Power plant Planned in Madhya Pradesh
group) segments in urban areas, through
enhanced credit flow and replaced it with a • Plans are afoot to set up the country’s largest
new scheme that will make it easier for the ultra mega solar plant in Madhya Pradesh’s
economically weaker sections and minority Rewa district. The plant, to produce 700
groups to own homes. MW of electricity, would require an
investment of Rs 4,000 crore.
• The RRY launched by the UPA government
with much fanfare failed to take off and • Thirteen hectares of land spread over four
funds earmarked for it lapsed. villages of Barseta, Ramnagar, Latar and
• The Ministry has now not only given it a Badwaar has been chosen for locating the
plant in Gurh tehsil of Rewa. The State
new name — HOMES (Home Owners
government would set up the plant as a joint
Mortgage Equity Subvention Scheme) but
has also made it more attractive by enhancing venture with the Ministry of New and
Renewable Energy, Power Grip Corporation
the loan amount and increasing the interest
subsidy from 5 per cent to 5.5 per cent on and the Solar Energy Corporation of India .
loans granted to construct houses or extend • The government is promoting generation of
the existing ones. renewable energy by providing various fiscal

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167 || Year Book 2015

and financial incentives such as capital and Shipping, Rural Development and Drinking
interest subsidy, concessional excise and Water & Sanitation Nitin Gadkari.
customs duties to encourage Indian and • He said that the ministry had also been
foreign investors to invest in new renewable focusing on the ports sector. He said for road
energy sector. development the government was
NTPC is not certain on Fate of Coal Blocks considering to use cement instead of bitumen
to bring down construction cost.
• The fate of NTPC’s five coal blocks allocated • The Minister also said private sector was
between 1993 and 2010 hangs in the shying away from public private partnership
balance. (PPP) projects primarily because of high
• The Supreme Court on September 24 interest rates and reluctance of banks to fund
ordered de-allocation of blocks, except those such projects.
given to ultra mega power projects and
Central Government public sector units Nepal finalises Hydel project with GMR group
where there are no joint ventures. In question • The GMR Group said on 23rd September
are 218 coal blocks, of which 12 were with that it has signed a Project Development
ultra mega power projects and 10 belonged Agreement for 900 MW Upper Karnali
to NTPC. Hyd ro Pow er project with the Nepal
• Confusion arose with the Court specifically government.
saving four blocks, including NTPC’s Pakri • It is the largest FDI for Nepal and also the
Barwadih. NTPC had 10 coal blocks, of largest investment for GMR Group outside
which one that was not de-allocated is set to
India.
commence operations soon.
• The Upper Karnali Hydro Power project was
• The company had got four blocks recently, awarded to the GMR Group through an
while six were awarded earlier. Of the six, one
International competitive bidding process in
was exempted from de-allocation by the apex
2008 on BOOT basis. The project, with a
court.
capacity of 900 MW, is being developed as
• While NTPC has decided to wait for clarity an export-oriented project to be constructed
from the Coal Ministry, the Ministry, in turn, in a period of about 5 years.
plans to seek legal opinion on the matter.
• The Coal Ministry has also decided to look ONGC will start oil production from KG
into how the miners that were allocated coal block in 2019
blocks for captive use are handling the • start production in 2019, ONGC Chairman
surplus. The case in point is Anil Ambani’s and Managing Director Dinesh K. Sarraf said
ultra mega power project in Sasan.
• The oil discovery in Krishna Godavari basin
Government decided block KG-DWN-98/2 or KG-D5 is the first
to give boost to inland waterways large oil production from the State-run Oil
and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC)
• The Union Government has decided to give major oil discovery in the Bay of Bengal will
a boost to inland waterways in a big way to east coast. The block also has 10 gas
reduce the cost of transportation as well as discoveries.
to curb pollution. This was stated by Union
Minister of Road Transport & Highways,

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168 || Year Book 2015

Infosys global partnership with Huawei sent to the customer’s mobile number
registered with bank. Using the OTP,
• Infosys announced a global partnership with
customer can set debit card PIN at the bank’s
Huawei to offer enterprise customers big data
and communication solutions besides ATM, Rao said. Customers will get OTP
within 48 hours of applying for it.
expansion of its existing engagement with
Microsoft and Hitachi Data Systems. • HDFC Bank has nearly 1.75 crore debit card
• Providing details, in separate press releases, holders and about 16.5 lakh cards on an
average are issued annually by the bank.
Infosys said the IT solutions to be developed
with Chinese multi-national ICT firm • This facility is for all States except in Jammu
Huawei would be for enterprise customers and Kashmir due to restrictions on bulk SMS
looking to modernise operations with cloud delivery in the State, Rao said.
infrastructure. Upper age limit set for
• Both the companies will build reference MDs and CEOs of private banks
architectures and standardised solutions for
• The upper age limit for managing directors
big data platforms on Huawei hardware
(MDs) and chief executive officers (CEOs)
infrastructure.
and other whole-time director of banks in the
Mahindra and Mahindra private sector has been fixed at 70 years.
(M&M) partnered Snapdeal • “Beyond this age (70 years), nobody should
• Ahead of the launch of its new generation continue in the post,’’ the Reserve Bank of
Scorpio, Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) India (RBI) said.
has partnered online marketplace Snapdeal • “Within the overall limit of 70 years,
for booking the sport utility vehicle (SUV). individual bank boards are free to prescribe
• Scorpio has been Mahindra’s one of the a low er retirement age for the whole-time
highest selling SUVs and the homegrown directors, including the managing directors
auto giant is to launch the refreshed version and chief executive officers, as an internal
on September 25. policy,’’ the RBI said.
• According to the details made available to State Bank Launches New Travel Card
users, the new generation Scorpio will be
• State Bank of India (SBI) and MasterCard,
available in six variants.
announced the launch of Multi-Currency
HDFC Bank to send debit card PINs via SMS Foreign Travel Card through 100 selected
branches of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and
• As part of its ‘go-green’ initiative, HDFC
Bank has started sending PIN, unique code Bangalore circles.
number, for debit card holders through SMS • The card, which is available in retail and
instead of sending it by post. corporate variants, will help consumers pay
in dollar, pound settling, euro and Singapore
• It is not just environment friendly but also
dollar initially and eventually be made
convenient and saves time of both customers
available in all major currencies.
and the bank, HDFC Bank Senior Vice
President and Business Had (Cards Payment Panel set up to conduct forensic audit of NSEL
Products) Parag Rao said.
• On a plea made by investors, the Bombay
• Green PIN is One Time Password (OTP) High Court, formed a committee headed by
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169 || Year Book 2015

a retired high court judge to conduct a before the bank’s panel to hear him out
forensic audit of the troubled NSEL and before declaring him as a wilful defaulter.
liquidate the assets of its defaulting borrowers • Mr. Mallya later moved the court seeking
in the over Rs.5,500 crore payments scam. exemption of his appearance before the
• The three-member committee, headed by panel.
Justice (Retd) V. C. Daga, will also have a
Basel III capital norms revised
solicitor and a chartered accountant,
according to Advocate Ameet Naik, who • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued
represents NSEL in the case. revised and final guidelines for raising non-
• The committee will ascertain the liability that equity regulatory capital instruments by
is outstanding against the defaulting banks under the stringent Basel III
borrowers of NSEL, conduct a forensic audit, framework under which lenders can issue
and monetise the assets, the court said in its Tier-2 capital with a minimum original
order. maturity of five years as against 10 years now.
• The committee will determine where the • It further said banks could issue Tier-2 debt
amount has gone, and is empowered to capital instruments to retail investors, subject
ascertain the assets of company. to board approval.
• It has also been empowered to distribute the Five global banks slapped fines totalling $3.4 b
assets to the duped investors but distribution for forex market rigging
of funds will require the court’s permission.
• British, American and Swiss regulators
United Bank of India declares Vijay Mall ya slapped fines totalling $3.4 billion ( Rs.20,
wilful defaulter 900 crore) on five banks after a global
• United Bank of India (UBI) has declared regulatory probe found them guilty of
Vijay Mallya and three directors of Kingfisher rigging the foreign exchange market.
Airlines (KFA) as wilful defaulters. The • Five banks, including HSBC, Citibank, JP
development was confirmed by the bank’s Morgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland
executive director Deepak Narang. and UBS, have been fined £1.1 billion ($1.7
• Besides Mr. Mallya, three other directors — billion) by Britain’s market regulator, the
A.K. Ganguly, Subhash Gupte and Ravi Financial Conduct Authority for failings over
Nedungadi — have also been declared as foreign exchange operations.
wilful defaulters, Mr. Narang . • Simultaneously, the US Commodity Futures
• The bank has an exposure of between Rs.350 Trading Commission imposed fines totalling
crore and Rs.400 crore to KFA, which was $1.4 billion on the same five banks while
given by the Bangalore branch of UBI. UBS faced an additional fine of $138 million
• It may be mentioned that UBI filed a caveat from the Swiss regulator, FINMA.
in the Supreme Court against KFA on • The FCA slapped a fine of £225.5 million
August 29, 2014, after the Division Bench on Citibank, while HSBC faced a penalty of
of the High Court dismissed a KFA appeal £216 million. JP Morgan Chase, RBS and
against UBI. UBS were fined £222.1 million, £217
million, and £233 million respectively.
• Earlier, UBI had identified Mr. Mallya as a
wilful defaulter, and asked him to appear • The fines related to failure to control business

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170 || Year Book 2015

practices in the banks’ G10 foreign exchange by 2017. “NBFCs failing to achieve the
trading operations, a market that FCA said prescribed ceiling within the stipulated time
was “systematically important.” period shall not be eligible to hold the CoR
• The banks failed in their responsibility to (Certificate of Registration) as NBFCs.
manage obvious risks that included conflicts Universities may offer credit transfer scheme
of interest and confidentiality, the FCA said.
from next year
• “Between January 1, 2008 and October 15,
2013 ineffective controls at the banks allowed • The Skill Assessment Matrix for Vocational
G10 spot FX traders to put the banks’ Advancement of Youth (SAMVAY) was
interests ahead of those of their clients, other launched to mark National Education Day.
market participants and the wider UK • It defines the rules for credit allotment and
financial system.” As a result, traders were follows the National Skill Qualification
able to behave “unacceptably” as they shared Framework (NSQF) — approved by the
confidential information, often colluding Union government last year — which allows
with other traders, and attempted to students to alternate between vocational and
manipulate G10 spot FX currency rates. general courses.
• “Today’s record fines mark the gravity of the • “The University Grants Commission in its
failings we found and firms need to take meeting took a decision on how various
responsibility for putting it right,” said Central universities can practice choice-based
Martin Wheatley, Chief Executive of the credit transfer, and I hope all our universities
FCA. will implement this system in the next
academic year so that all our students can
RBI tightens norms for NBFC Companies seamlessly study from one university to
• Tightening norms for non-banking financial another,” Human Resource Development
companies (NBFCs), the Reserve Bank of Minister Smriti Irani said at the launch.
India raised the capital adequacy requirement • The Ministry also launched the ‘Know Your
and the net owned fund limit, among others, College’ portal in the presence of President
with an objective to mitigate risks in the Pranab Mukherjee, Minority Affairs Minister
sector. Najma Heptulla and Ministers of State for
• With a view to streamlining the regulations HRD Upendra Kushwaha and Ram Shankar
for the sector, the RBI also revoked Katheria.
temporary suspension on issuance of • The portal http://www.knowyourcollege-
Certificate of Registration (CoR) to gov.in/ has basic details of colleges offering
companies that want to conduct business of technical courses that would help students
non-banking financial institution (NBFI). make an informed choice.
• As per the latest directives, the RBI has raised
ING Vysya Bank decided to
the limit for NBFCs to maintain the net
Merge with Kotak Mahindra Bank
owned fund (NOF) requirement to four
times by 2017 to Rs.2 crore. • In an all stock amalgamation, ING Vysya
• At present, the NOF requirement is at Rs.25 Bank decided to merge with Kotak Mahindra
lakh. In a phased manner, the NBFCs would Bank, creating the fourth largest private
be required to raise it to Rs.1 crore by March, sector bank in the country.
2016, and to further double it to Rs.2 crore • ING Vysya shareholders will receive 725
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171 || Year Book 2015

shares in Kotak for 1,000 shares of ING Conditions of Services) Bill to govern wages
Vysya. “The share exchange ratio is and conditions of work in small and medium
considered fair and reasonable given the enterprises (SMEs). The Bill envisages rules
underlying value of ING Vysya, as also giving for wages, overtime hours, social security and
shareholders the ability to benefit from the appointment of factory inspectors in units
potential that can be realised upon merging employing fewer than 40 workers.
into Kotak,” a press release issued jointly by • While the government introduced the
Kotak Mahindra Bank and ING Vysya Bank Factories Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in the
stated. Lok Sabha in August, the new Bill has been
• “This exchange ratio indicates an implied proposed to align the work conditions in the
price of Rs.790 for each ING Vysya share SMEs with the Factories Act amendments
based on the average closing price of Kotak and allow enterprises to file compliance
shares during one month to November 19, forms online as the government announced
2014, which is a 16 per cent premium to a earlier this month.
like measure of ING Vysya market price,” it • “There was a demand from the SME sector
added. for a separate Act to govern them. In line
• The proposed merger would result in with that, this Act will reduce the number of
issuance of approximately 15.2 per cent of forms required for compliance with rules. It
the equity share capital of the merged Kotak. will allow the SMEs to employ women in
• One of ING Vysya’s directors will be joining night shifts based on the fulfilment of certain
the Board of Directors of Kotak. conditions.
• The merger decision was taken at their • It will change the inspection system to one
respective board meetings of Kotak Mahindra based on self-certification and inspections
Bank and the ING Vysya Bank. based on computer lots as announced by the
• The amalgamation is subject to the approval government earlier this month,” a senior
of the shareholders of Kotak and ING Vysya Labour Ministry official says.
respectively, Reserve Bank of India under the • The Bill builds on the Labour Laws
Banking Regulation Act, the Competition (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and
Commission of India and such other Maintaining Registers by Certain
regulatory approvals as may be required. Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011,
• Upon obtaining all approvals, when the which increases the number of laws under
merger becomes effective, “all ING Vysya which units will be exempt from maintaining
branches and employees will become Kotak registers and filings returns, he adds.
branches and employees. ING Vysya’s CEO ATM use over 5 times will attract fee now
designate, Uday Sareen, will be inducted into
the top management of Kotak reporting • Using ATMs (automated teller machines) to
directly to Uday Kotak, Executive Vice withdraw money or for other purposes such
Chairman and Managing Director of Kotak.” as balance enquiry beyond five times in a
month will attract a levy of Rs.20 a
Labour ministry transaction from Saturday.
Proposed new law for small factories • According to the Reserve Bank of India’s new
• The Labour Ministry has proposed the Small guidelines that come into force from
Factories (Regulation of Employment and Saturday, bank customers in six metros —
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172 || Year Book 2015

Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Mallya resigns from Mangalore Chemicals


Hyderabad and Bangalore — are allowed to Board (MCFL)
withdraw money and/or carry out non-
• In a surprise move the UB Group Chairman
financial transactions like mini-statements at
Vijay Mallya has resigned from the Board of
ATMs of banks, where they hold saving/
Directors of Mangalore Chemicals and
current accounts, free of charge only five
Fertilizers Ltd (MCFL) with immediate
times a month.
effect.
• Every transaction beyond this threshold will
• What prompted this move is still not known.
be charged Rs.20 per use. Besides, the
The company has intimated this
number of free transactions at ATMs of non-
development to the stock exchanges. Soon
home banks has been cut to three times a
after the announcement MCFL stock prices
month from five times.
rose sharply on the stock markets.
TRAI will start • The prices moved from Rs. 80 range to
Review of telecom interconnect charges around Rs. 92. The volume was as high as
• Telecom regulator TRAI is likely to review nine lakh shares in early morning trade.
this week interconnect charges, which one • MCFL is amidst a takeover battle between
telecom operator pays to another for Deepak Petrochemicals and Fertilizers and
completing calls and SMSs. Zuari Agro Chemicals and Fertilizers. Mr.
• In the previous review, Telecom Regulatory Mallya had sided with Zuari to ward off the
Authority of India has reduced interconnect takeover bid of Deepak Fertilizers.
charges, leading to reduction in tariffs. • Recently, Deepak’s bid to acquire 26 per cent
• TRAI has plans to start process to review addition stake had failed and Dr Mallya had
IUC (inter usage connection) charges this retained control over the company.
week,. This would be second IUC review by • Currently Deepak holds 32 per cent stake in
TRAI after the one in 2009. The regulation the company, Zuari 16 per cent, UB Group
was framed in 2003. 22 per cent and the rest by public
• At present, TRAI had fixed a mobile call shareholders.
termination charge at 20 paise per minute for Reliance Industries signs agreement with
all local and national long-distance charges. Mexican company for oil and gas
This charge earlier varied between 15 to 50
paise depending on the distance. • Reliance Industries has signed an agreement
with Mexican state-owned company,
• This means that a telecom company now
Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) for
pays 20 paise per minute charge to the other
cooperation in upstream oil and gas
company on whose network call has been
production as well as in refining business.
made.
• As per the Memorandum of Understanding
• The regulator raised the MTC (mobile
(MoU) “RIL will cooperate with PEMEX for
termination charge) for incoming
assessment of potential upstream oil and gas
international calls to 40 paise per minute
business opportunities in Mexico and jointly
from 30 paise, while putting a ceiling on
evaluate value added opportunities in
carriage fee of 65 paise per minute for
international markets,” a company statement
domestic long-distance calls.
said.

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173 || Year Book 2015

• RIL and PEMEX will also share expertise and development of trunk infrastructure, that is,
skills in the relevant areas of oil and gas roads, water supply, street lighting, drainage
industry, including for deep—water oil and and sewerage,” a DIPP circular said.
gas exploration and production. • It is to be noted here, the official statement
• “The MoU envisages sharing of RIL’s issued after the October 29 Cabinet meeting
pioneering expertise in deep-water had mentioned that the investor can exit on
development and best practices in East Coast completion of the project or “after three years
of India and RIL’s experience in shale gas in from the date of final investment,” subject to
United States,” it said. development of trunk infrastructure.
• RIL will also provide technical support and • Under the new policy, the minimum floor
share experience with PEMEX for refining area requirement has been reduced to 20,000
value maximisation and other technical square metres from 50,000 square metres
optimisation strategies. earlier.
• “RIL’s cooperation with PEMEX is in line • It also brought down the minimum capital
with its growth strategy to explore requirement to $5 million from $10 million.
opportunities to expand its international asset In case of development of serviced plots, the
base in regimes having internationally condition of minimum land of 10 hectares
attractive competitive terms. has been completely removed.
• “The company hopes to leverage its Shome panel: Tax cash
organisational capabilities and expertise to withdrawal beyond limit in a day
create long-term value for Exploration and
Production Business and for RIL on the • A high-level official panel proposed levying
whole,” it added. of banking transaction tax on withdrawal of
cash beyond a specified limit in a day to
Govt. relaxed FDI policy check black money, and was not in favour of
for investors in construction sector the tax amnesty scheme.
• To help attract foreign funds in construction • A report by the Parthasarathi Shome
of townships, hospitals and hotels, the Committee, appointed by the previous UPA
government relaxed the FDI policy for this government, suggested taxing farmers with
sector by easing exit norms and reducing large land holdings in addition to a host of
built-up area and capital needs. measures to widen the net.
• The revised norms relating to construction • “Taxpayers keep waiting for amnesty schemes
development sector has been notified by the to be announced and take advantage of these
Department of Industrial Policy and schemes to build their capital.
Promotion (DIPP). India allows 100 per cent • “Amnesty schemes also cause inequity among
FDI in the sector through the automatic taxpayers, and there is no proof that they
route. improve taxpayer behaviour among evaders.
• The new policy has done away with the • They, therefore, should not be encouraged
three-year lock-in period for repatriation of through amnesties,” said the report of the Tax
investment. Administration and Reform Commission
• “The investor will be permitted to exit on (TARC). It was the third report in the series.
completion of the project or after • Highlighting that there is no instrument at

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174 || Year Book 2015

present that captures details of cash motivations for Indian people to be


withdrawals from bank accounts, it said such continuously connected to internet.
information would help the Income Tax
RIL to transfer textile business to new Joint
department widen its information base on
Venture with Chinese company
the use of black money.
• Making a case for banking cash transaction • Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), announced
tax (BCTT), it said: “...IT Act should be that it had entered into a definitive
suitably revised to include in its ambit cash agreement with a wholly-owned subsidiary of
withdrawals exceeding specified amounts in China’s Shandong Ruyi Science and
a day from bank accounts other than savings Technology Group (Ruyi) to transfer its
accounts. founding textile business into a newly
incorporated joint venture (JV) company.
53% of Indians connected to
• RIL said that it would receiv e cash
internet every hour, beat global average consideration from the deal. It will own 51
• Fifty-three per cent of Indians are connected per cent in the proposed joint venture, while
to the internet every waking hour, which is Ruyi will own the balance. The proposed
higher than the global average of 51 per cent, transaction is subject to requisite approvals.
a new international study has found. • In the 1970s, Reliance entered into the textile
• “The continuous online connectivity is business in a small way, and since then, it has
becoming a phenomenon in India with 53 grown to be a Fortune Global 500 company
per cent of respondents in the country saying through backward vertical integration.
they are connected to the internet every • The textile business of RIL operates under
waking hour,” said the study conducted by the brand Vimal, which was popularised by
the London-based AT Kearney Global the ‘Only Vimal’ campaign. This business has
Research. a prominent presence in the domestic
• “That is higher than 51 per cent global worsted and synthetic suiting fabric
average, 36 per cent in China and 39 per segments.
cent in Japan,” said the study titled • Ruyi, China’s leading textile company with
“Connected Consumers Are Not Created revenues of $3 billion, has a global presence
Equal: A Global Perspective.” with a portfolio of world-renowned brands.
• The study covered 10 countries involving It operates in India under the Georgia
10,000 respondents in July 2014. Gullini brand in the worsted suiting segment.
• The results of the study found that This business operation would be realigned
continuous connectivity is having a big with the joint venture.
impact on online retail in the country with • “Our joint venture will help Reliance
social networks becoming a major reposition its textile business on a high
influencing factor. growth path. Our partner’s deep
• “97 per cent of the respondents from India commitment and global reach in textile
said they have a Facebook account with 77 business will enable this joint venture to
per cent saying they logged in to the social harness the growth potential of the Indian
network daily,” said the study. market and emerge as a global textile player,”
• According to the study, there are three key said RIL Executive Director Nikhil Meswani.

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175 || Year Book 2015

Switzerland’s gold exports to CII demanded clarity and stability in tax policy
India marked near Rs. 1 trillion in 2014 • In pre-budget consultations with Revenue
• Amid concerns of bullion trade being used Secretary Shaktikanta Das and other officers
for routing of black money, Switzerland’s of the Finance Ministry, the Confederation
gold exports to India have risen further and of Indian Industry (CII) emphasised the need
fast approaching Rs. 1 trillion mark for the for the government to implement steps for
entire 2014. reviving the economy.
• The Swiss gold exports to India stood at over • It also demanded a bunch of tax concessions.
2.8 billion Swiss francs (over Rs. 18,000 The CII demanded simplicity, clarity and
crore) in October, up from about 2.2 billion stability in the tax policy regime and
Swiss francs in the previous month, shows the technology based e-governance initiatives on
latest data from the Swiss Customs procedural simplification at the meeting,
Administration. according to a press release.
• This has taken the total Swiss gold exports • To boost the investor sentiment, the CII
to India since January this year to 14.2 demanded that the government take the
billion Swiss francs (nearly Rs. 93,000 crore), ‘Make in India’ initiative to a new level and
as per the data compiled by Switzerland’s galvanise the economy to a higher and
cross-border trade monitoring agency. inclusive growth path.
• This surge in gold shipments has made India • The CII team was led by past President Arun
the largest destination for the yellow metal Bharat Ram. He stated that the CII was
exports from Switzerland. deliberating in a constructive manner on the
• There are concerns that gold trade could be possible solutions for fundamental design
a possible route for laundering of issues on Goods and Services Tax (GST) and
asked for opportunities for regular interaction
unaccounted wealth, suspected to be stashed
with the officials dealing with the reform.
by Indians in Swiss banks, although there has
been no official word from either countries • The industry chamber recommended that
so far in this regard. the government remove anomalies in customs
duty and halve the Central Sales Tax rate
• The Supreme Court-constituted SIT, from 2 per cent to 1 per cent to compensate
however, said in its latest report on black
for the delay in the implementation of the
money that a dedicated institutional GST.
mechanism needs to be put in place to
• It also demanded that the government extend
examine “mismatch between export/import
the excise duty concessions on certain goods
data with corresponding import/export data
to March 15, 2015. In the Union budget
of other countries on at least a quarterly, if
2014-15, this reduction in the range of 2 per
not a monthly basis.”
cent-6 per cent was provided up to
• The SIT said that this suggestion has been December 31, 2014.
made by the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF), while citing the Data Analysis and • It also demanded that investment allowance
should be extended to the infrastructure
Research for Trade Transparency System
adopted by US, to control over/under sector to further spur investment activity in
the economy.
invoicing to some extent.

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176 || Year Book 2015

WTO rules against the U.S. • The deal will make Carnival the third largest
In steel dispute with India multiplex operator with nationwide presence
• The World Trade Organization (WTO) has and over 300 screens, a statement said. The
ruled against the U.S. imposing high duty on firms did not disclose the exact value of the
imports of certain Indian steel products, an deal.
order hailed by India as a ‘significant victory’ • The deal struck between Carnival Cinemas
that will help domestic manufacturers and and Reliance MediaWorks, will exclude
exporters. IMAX Wadala (Mumbai) and some other
• The Appellate Body of the WTO has ruled properties worth Rs 200 crore, the statement
that the high duty imposed by the U.S. on added.
the certain Indian steel imports was • Reliance Capital is the parent firm of
‘inconsistent’ with various provisions of the Reliance MediaWorks, which operates one of
Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing the largest cinema chains, under the brand
Measures (ASCM). ‘BIG Cinemas’ with over 250 screens pan-
• “India has achieved a significant victory at India.
the WTO, as the Appellate Body held that • Sam Ghosh, CEO, Reliance Capital, said:
the Countervailing Duty (CVD) measures “We are delighted to begin a long term
imposed by the U.S. against certain hot- relationship with the rapidly growing
rolled carbon steel flat products are Carnival Group, through the sale of the
inconsistent with various provisions of the multiplexes business of Reliance Media
ASCM,” an official statement said. Works to them.”
• The move would definitely help domestic • Carnival Group is targeting to achieve “1,000
manufacturers, which had been suffering due screens by the year 2017”, said its chairman
to inconsistent practices by the U.S. Shrikant Bhasi. The proposed transaction is
Department of Commerce, it added. subject to necessary statutory and other
• The implication of this ruling is that the U.S. approvals and is expected to be closed within
has to amend its domestic law to be WTO the current financial year.
compliant. “It has significant trade impact for
Petroleum products brought under GST
India as out of the current 10 products on
which U.S. has imposed CVD, about seven • Apart from subsuming various Central
products suffer from the same inconsistency,” indirect taxes and levies and State taxes, the
it said. Constitution (122 Amendment) Bill,
introduced in the Lok Sabha, confers
Reliance Group sells simultaneous pow er to Union and State
multiplex business to Carnival legislations to legislate on Goods and Service
• Anil Ambani owned Reliance Group has sold Tax (GST).
its multiplex business to South India based • All goods and services, except alcoholic liquor
Carnival Group in the largest ever deal in this for human consumption, will be brought
space. under the purview of GST. Petroleum and
• The transaction will reduce Reliance Capital’s petroleum products have also been
overall debt by Rs 700 crore and is part of constitutionally brought under GST.
Reliance Capital’s strategy to exit minority • However, it has also been provided that
investments.
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177 || Year Book 2015

petroleum products shall not be subject to the Internet for most destinations.
the levy of GST till notified at a future date • This service is already available in 16
on the recommendation of the GST Council. countries including the US, UK, Australia,
• The present taxes levied by the States and the Hong Kong and Singapore. The company
Centre on petroleum and petroleum said it would offer high quality international
products, i.e., Sales Tax/VAT, CST and Excise calls at a fraction of existing cost of calls in
duty only, will continue to be levied in the India to companies conducting global
interim period. business and families trying to keep in touch
• R esponding to the concerns aired by with friends and relatives staying abroad.
members, Union Finance Minister Arun • The Internet-free Ringo calls traverse over
Jaitley took them down memory lane to regular phone networks and it uses a unique
2006 when it was mooted by the UPA in its call flow to convert international calls into
Budget and also narrated efforts made by the local calls, thus making the call rates very
present government to build a consensus on cheap.
what he has often billed as the “single most • When a Ringo user from India contacts
important tax reform after 1947.” someone based in one of the 16 countries in
Deal for mega solar project which its service is available, Ringo will
automatically dial out a local call to the
• SunEdison Inc, the U.S.-headquartered solar Indian user and another local call to the
energy services firm, and India’s Adani Group desired number located in the foreign
have come together to invest $4 billion or Rs. destination and connect the two over reliable
25,000 crore in setting up one of the world’s carrier circuits.
largest solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing • All this happens instantly and calls using
facility in Gujarat. Ringo are identical to making call on one’s
• The project is expected to create not only carrier, Ringo officials said. “We believe our
thousands of jobs, but also provide a much- app will change the way India communicates
need impetus to the country’s electrification with the world. In this country, reliable
programmes through solar energy. internet connectivity that can support VOIP
• The proposed solar PV production unit will calling is still far away.
come up at Mundra in about three years. • Ringo provides the perfect solution for
And, it will vertically integrate all aspects of Indians who want to stay in touch with
solar panel production on site, including poly people staying abroad reliably and at a low
silicon refining, and ingot, cell, and module cost,” said Bhavin Turakhia, Chief Executive
production. Officer, Ringo.
‘Ringo’ app makes international calls cheaper • “We believe that communication should be
easy and inexpensive so that the market
• Ringo, an international calling app which would grow phenomenally,” said Mr
provides low cost calling without the use of
Turakhia.
the Internet, has commenced operations in
India offering international calls at 70 per Govt. to corporatise Ordnance factories
cent cheaper than most mobile telephone • Days after terminating the contract of
service providers and 20 per cent cheaper DRDO chief Avinash Chander, the
than calls made on Skype and Viber through

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178 || Year Book 2015

government is planning to corporatise some smart recovery for India in 2015.


of the ordnance factories. The plan is to • It pegged its 2015 India growth forecast
initially corporatise about 10 ordnance lower than the IMF’s — at 5.9 per cent. At
factories and turn them into Public Sector 6.3 per cent, the UN WESP’s 2016 India
Undertakings to make them more growth forecast is, however, closer to that of
accountable and increase their capabilities. the IMF.
• Those under consideration are the cloth-
making and equipment factories in the Kenstar ties up with Amazon
Kanpur belt. A note on this matter has • Consumer electronics and appliances
already been circulated in the highest manufacturer Kenstar has made a foray into
echelons of the government and the proposal the air conditioner segment, and launched its
is likely to get the government nod by April, range of split ACs. In a first, Kenstar has tied
the sources added. up with e-commerce player Amazon.in to
• These factories are into manufacturing distribute the ACs exclusively.
personnel clothing, parachute material, small • A statement from the company said it aims
arms, metallurgical equipment, shells and to revolutionise the AC segment and plans
other such equipment. to capture 5 per cent of the total market share
• The move comes close on the heels of by the close of 2014-15.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
promising a major overhaul of the DRDO Banks free to decide
and defence production units. This is not for NPA norms, says Supreme Court
the first time though that corporatisation of • Dealing a blow to borrowers, especially in the
ordnance factories is being considered. industrial sector, the Supreme Court upheld
• In the UPA I regime too, the government a 2004 amendment enabling banks to follow
mooted such a proposal in accordance with different guidelines for declaring bad loans as
the recommendations of the Vijay Kelkar “non-performing assets.”
committee. • Noting that quick recovery of bad loans was
India to beat China in growth in 2016: IMF essential to keep the financial health of the
country intact, a Bench of Justices J.
• “India will grow at 6.3% in 2015, up from Chelameswar and S.A. Bobde upheld an
5.8% in 2014” amendment to Section 2, which defines non-
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has performing assets (NPA) under the
projected India to grow at 6.5 per cent in Securitisation and Re-constitution of
2016, overtaking China whose growth was Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security
forecast to slow down to 6.3 per cent. Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.
• In its World Economic Outlook report • The Act allowed a secured creditor bank to
released , the IMF forecast that India would determine a bad debt as NPA and proceed
grow at 6.3 per cent in 2015, up from 5.8 to seize and sell the assets to recover the
per cent in 2014. China’s 2014 growth rate amount due to it as loan.
was 7.4 per cent. • The 2004 amendment classified borrowers
• In another forecast released , the United into two categories. One, those who got
Nations World Economic Situation and secured loans from institutions which
Prospects (U.N. WESP) report predicted a followed RBI guidelines framed on the
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179 || Year Book 2015

declaration of NPAs. Two, those who real growth, conceptual changes, as


borrow ed from institutions governed by recommended by the international
guidelines set by their own regulators. guidelines, are incorporated, the official
• The court was deciding a batch of petitions release said.
filed by borrowers, contending that the • The changes have reduced the gap between
amendment discriminated against between the way India calculates GDP and the
two classes of borrowers. Especially, when methodology used by the International
RBI guidelines gave only 60 days before a Monetary Fund.
bad debt can be declared an NPA, while • The jobs-creating manufacturing sector’s
individual regulators were allowed up to 180 growth estimate for 2013-14 was revised to
days to lapse before the secured loan is 6.2 per cent from minus 0.7 per cent and for
declared an NPA. 2012-13 was revised to 5.3 per cent from 1.1
Base year change pushes per cent.
GDP growth to 6.9% in 2013-14 Centre proposes major changes to Tea Act
• The base year was last revised in January, • The Centre has proposed major amendments
2010 The Modi Government, sharply revised to the 1953 Tea Act to give more teeth to the
India’s 2013-14 GDP growth estimate to 6.9 regulator — Tea Board of India.
per cent from 4.7 per cent. The 2012-13 • The move aims at plugging loopholes in
growth estimate was revised to 5.1 per cent relevant sections of the Tea Act to enable
from 4.5 per cent. takeover of the management or control of tea
• Former Finance Minister and Congress leader gardens, which have been closed for over 90
P. Chidambaram said that the data released days.
show ed that the 10 years of the UPA • The amendments also propose new additions
government recorded the highest decadal in the Act, like including in its ambit terms
growth since Independence. like small tea growers while defining tea
• GDP data for a fiscal undergoes three rounds estates. Special attention is also to be paid to
of revisions; the process takes three years. The protection of IPR of teas and monitoring of
Central Statistics Office (CSO) releases the tea gardens. The Government feels that there
second Revised Estimate for a financial year is need to delete certain archaic provisions of
ending in March on the subsequent January the Indian Tea Act as they have become
30. irrelevant. There is also a need to reinforce
• The estimates released on Friday also follow the powers and functions of the Tea Board
a change in the base year for calculating so as to enable the body to regulate, develop
national accounts to 2011-12 from 2004-05 and promote tea industry and trade while
in addition to the routine annual revision — helping production and exports besides
where changes are made only on the basis of improving quality.
updated data becoming available. • Surprisingly, the existing Act does not clearly
• The base year was last revised in January, define the powers of the Tea Board although
2010. it is widely known as the industry regulator.
• In case of base year revisions, apart from a The amendments plan to lay out clear
shift in the reference year for measuring the definitions in this respect while setting out

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180 || Year Book 2015

the powers of the Tea Board chairman. generation technology and services for an IP
• The Tea Board has sought powers to monitor connected world.
the working of tea gardens, making its The two companies have entered into a
approach more direct and proactive than the memorandum of understanding under which Nokia
present reactive attitude. It has been will make an offer for all of the equity securities
suggested that the Board shall constantly issued by Alcatel-Lucent, through a public exchange
monitor the gardens and try to pre-empt offer in France and in the United States, on the basis
closures. of 0.55 of a new Nokia share for every Alcatel-
• It is felt that the Section 16 of the Tea Act, Lucent share.
which provides for handing ov er This merger will create the world’s largest
management of sick gardens, has many supplier of telecom equipment’s that pow ers
limitations. mobilephone networks by surpassing Ericsson and
BHEL & INTMA ink MoU to set up power Huawei.
plant in Kazakhstan MUDRA Bank
State-owned power equipment maker Bharat Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched
Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has signed a Micro Units Development Refinance Agency
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a (MUDRA) Bank with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore
Russian company INTMA, to set up a gas-based and credit guarantee of Rs. 3,000 crore. The Bank
power project in Kazakhstan. will provide credit of up to Rs 10 lakh to small
The MoU aims set combined path to execute entrepreneurs and act as a regulator for ‘Micro-
projects of mutual interest in Russia and Kazakhstan. Finance Institutions’ (MFIs).
In this regard, BHEL’s competence in design and The bank will be responsible for refinancing
manufacturing of power plants will play important micro-finance institutions in the business of lending
role and INTMA’s strength in handling engineering to small entities. MUDRA will be set up through a
procurement and construction contractors (EPC) statutory enactment. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA
contracts will implement the projects. Yojana will be the main support system for the bank
The MoU will further help BHEL in and will be the part of Small Industries
consolidating its presence in the Commonwealth Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
Independent States countries. The MUDRA bank was proposed in Budget
INTMA is one of the leading general 2015-16 by Union Government with an initial
Engineering Procurement and Construction corpus of 20,000 crore rupees. Apart from this,
contractors (EPC) in Russia and Kazakhstan, with 3,000 crore rupees also has been earmarked as credit
wide experience in industrial construction, guarantee corpus.
renovation of facilities, automation and other energy The roles envisaged for MUDRA include:
related sectors. • Laying down policy guidelines for micro
Nokia to acquire Alcate-Lucent enterprise financing business
• Registration of MFI entities
Finland based telecom equipment
manufacturer Nokia has announced that they will • Accreditation /rating of MFI entities
acquire French based and Alcatel-Lucent with the • Laying down responsible financing practices
intention to create an innovation leader in next to ward off over indebtedness and ensure

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181 || Year Book 2015

proper client protection principles and • Account holders in the age group of 18 to
methods of recovery 50 years can avail of the product.
• Development of standardised set of • People who join the scheme before
covenants governing last mile lending to completing 50 years can continue to have the
micro enterprises risk of life cover up to the age of 55 years
• Promoting right technology solutions for the subject to payment of premium.
last mile The scheme will come into effect from June
• Formulating and running a Credit 1, 2015. The bank customers can join the scheme
Guarantee scheme for providing guarantees from June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016.
to the loans/portfolios which are being
RBI lowers ceiling rate
extended to micro enterprises
• Support development & promotional Concerned over the rising NPAs (non-
activities in the sector performing assets) in the banking sector, the Reserve
• Creating a good architecture of Last Mile Bank of India (RBI) has proposed to lower the
Credit Delivery to micro businesses under ceiling on how much a bank can lend to a single
the scheme of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA corporate group.
Yojana Under the proposal, banks can lend up to 25
per cent of their core capital to a single corporate
MUDRA Bank will provide financing on
group.
Tree stages- Shishu, Kishore and Tarun
Currently, they have been given flexibility,
• S hishu: This will be the first step when the with riders though, to lend up to 55 per cent of their
business is just starting up. The loan cover core capital to a single corporate group.
in this stage will be upto Rs 50,000.
The apex bank has proposed that the revised
• Kishor: In this stage, the entreprenuer will lower ceiling could come into effect from January
be eligible for a loan ranging from Rs 50,000 1, 2019.
to Rs 5 lakh.
The proposal is came with the announcement
• Ta rrun:
un: This last and final category will
made by the RBI in its fourth bi-monthly Monetary
provide loans for upto Rs 10 lakh.
Policy Statement 2014-15 on September 20 to come
Dena Bank & LIC sign out with a discussion paper on the subject.
MoU to provide insurance cover RBI tightens takeover
State-run lender Dena Bank has signed an norms for shadow banking
agreement with LIC to provide insurance cover to
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans
its savings account holders under the Prime
tougher rules for takeovers involving non-banking
Minister’s Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana
financial companies (NBFCs), according to draft
( PMJBY) scheme.
guidelines published on Monday, outlining a
Key Facts of MoU demand that all substantial deals seek its prior
• Under the Memorandum of Understanding, approval.
LIC will give a life cover of Rs 2 lakh in case In its latest effort to boost transparency and
of death of the insured person at a nominal strengthen its grip on the alternative lenders that
premium of Rs 330 per annum. account for a large part of the domestic shadow-

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182 || Year Book 2015

banking sector, the RBI said any purchase of a stake NCTI inks MoU with
of 26 per cent or more in a company, or a change Paytm to promote MSME
in more than 30 per cent of its directors, would need
National Centre for Trade Information
the central bank’s permission.
(NCTI) has tied up with Mobile commerce platform
“The RBI has been continuously trying to Paytm to promote MSMEs scale faster. The two
strengthen this sector so that this should not be a organisations have signed a memorandum of
back yard for people we don’t know,’’ said Sanjay understanding to offer a virtual marketplace
Agarwal, Managing Director of Au Financiers platform for NCTI members and will extend its
(India), an NBFC from Rajasthan. services and to enable them to sell online.
There are some 12,000 NBFCs registered with In this regard, Paytm will set up payment
the RBI, and they largely offer loans. Some, like gateways platform for online ticketing and
traditional banks, also take deposits. membership fees for NCTI. This tie-up will play a
The RBI also said in its circular that the source pivotal role in the growth of MSMEs by providing
of funds behind new investors in any NBFC will them with value-added trade information generally
have to be disclosed. It also asked for an undertaking for the trading community. It will also provide
that the new proposed investors are not associated platform to NCTI members that will serve as an
with any existing but unregistered body that accepts opportunity to trade online and scale faster.
public deposits.
Snapdeal acquires FreeCharge
NBFCs play a critical role in extending credit
to areas where traditional finance cannot reach in a India’s largest online marketplace, Snapdeal has
country where only just over half of the population acquired FreeCharge, India’s fastest growing mobile
has access to the mainstream banking system. transactions platform. This is one of the biggest
However, controlling these NBFCs has been made acquisitions in the history of the internet industry
a key priority for the RBI, given their size and reach. in India and sets up Snapdeal to build the most
impactful digital commerce ecosystem in India.
India to surpass China’s economic growth in
FreeCharge is India’s leading mobile commerce
2015-16: IMF platform where users can pay their mobile, DTH
The International Monetary Fund forecast and utility payments across most major operators.
India’s growth to strengthen from 7.2 per cent in Every day 75 million mobile recharges are done in
2014 to 7.5 per cent in both 2015 and 2016, India by a section of India’s 800 million mobile
overtaking China’s growth — for the first time since phone subscribers, out of which currently only 3
1999 — that it projected will slow down to 6.8 per million recharges are done online. FreeCharge offers
cent. a convenient and efficient solution applicable to
The World Bank too projected India’s growth hundreds of millions of consumers for paying utility
to accelerate to 7.5 per cent in 2015, but added that bills, and especially doing mobile recharges, which
on the back of significant acceleration of investment, often ends up being the first e-commerce transaction
that a consumer does online given the ticket size,
growth could even reach 8 per cent in 2017-18. The
convenience and instant gratification.
country is attempting to shift from consumption to
investment-led growth, at a time when China is With this acquisition, Snapdeal becomes the
undergoing the opposite transition, the Bank said in largest mobile commerce company in India offering
its bi-annual South Asia Economic Focus report. the widest range of products and services, including
financial services, mobile recharge and utility

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183 || Year Book 2015

payments with an exponentially growing user base logging into the websites (IRCTC, Cleartrip, Make
of over 40 million. My Trip, KSRTC etc.) of travel companies or buy
goods and services from retail chains like Amazon,
Union Government
Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong etc.
approves ten FDI approval
RuPay eCommerce is comparatively easy. For
Union Government has approved 10 Foreign the first time user, registration happens as the
Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth 2857.83 transaction gets done. The only additional step for
crore rupees. These FDI proposals were approved by first time user is to choose a picture password which
the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). the customer has to identify in subsequent
Some of proposals approved are transaction.
• Air Works India (Engineering) Private This gives an additional layer of security. Since
Limited’s proposal to increase foreign equity One Time Password (OTP) is a part of the security
investment at Rs 40 crore. process, it is necessary that a RuPay eCommerce
• Ostro Energy’s proposal to invest Rs. 1,400 customer is also registered as a Mobile banking user
crore over next four-five years in wind energy of the bank. “NPCI aims at making every Indian
assets in India via downstream investment. with a RuPay card and a mobile phone eCommerce
• IPCA Laboratories’ proposal for FII enabled.
investment up to 35 per cent i.e. Rs 900 The goal is make railway and bus ticket
crore. booking also as much electronic as air ticket
• Reckitt Benckiser (India) proposal to acquire booking” said Mr. A.P.Hota, MD & CEO, NPCI.
24.88 per cent stake in Reckitt Benckiser “Payments system in India is maturing faster than
Healthcare India from its foreign investor. in rest of the world” added Mr Hota. Over 30,000
This deal will result in a foreign fund outflow online merchants in the country now accept RuPay
of Rs 750 crore. cards as on date including Flipkart, IRCTC, Jet
• Syngene International’s proposal to inject 380 airways, Snapdeal, LIC, bookmyshow, Homeshop18
crore rupees through 10 per cent foreign and others. Some of the major issuing PSBs are -
equity participation into the company. SBI, BoI, BoB, UBI, PNB, Andhra, Dena, Indian,
• Ambuja Cements proposal for acquisition of Allahabad, Syndicate, Canara, Oriental Bank of
Commerce, among others live on RuPay e-comm.
24 per cent shares in its holding company
Holcim (India) for a share swap worth Rs Union Government
3,500 crore has been referred to the Cabinet Fetched Rs. 1.10 lakh crores
Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
FIPB approves the FDI proposals under The Union government has fetched about
approval route. However, those proposals 1.10 lakh crore rupees after the auctioning of a
telecom spectrum. The spectrum auction concluded
worth above Rs 1,200 crore are given final
approval to the CCEA. on 25 March 2015 after 19 days and 115 rounds
of rigorous bidding. How ever the 11 percent
RuPay card holders of airwaves were not sold in this auction.
All PSBs enable on eComm The process of auction was conducted for 800
RuPay card holders of all public sector banks MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz
are now eCommerce enabled. They can now spectrum covering both mobile telephony and
conveniently purchase rail, road and air tickets by broadband, including 4th Generation (4G).

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184 || Year Book 2015

A total of 380.75 MHz of spectrum was put All 56 Regional Rural Bank (RRBs) on RuPay
on sale in the premium 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz and Card & NACH system
800 MHz bands and 5 MHz of spectrum was put
National Payments Corporation of India
for bidding in the 2,100 MHz band which is used
(NPCI), the umbrella organization for all retail
for 3G mobile services across 17 out of total 22
payments system in the country, has enabled all 56
telecom circles. The spectrum auction included
regional rural banks (RRBs) in the country under
airwaves held by 9 licences of Idea Cellular, 6
its central payment systems network with RuPay
permits of Bharti Airtel and 7 each of Reliance
cards and access to NACH (National Automated
Telecom and Vodafone that were expiring in 2015-
Clearing House) service. With this engagement, 120
16. These auctioned airwaves mostly included
million customers at 19,000 bank branches of all 56
frequencies in 900 MHz band and 1800 MHz band.
Regional Rural Banks are now part of the national
The government also auctioned airwaves in network of electronic payment systems.
1800 MHz band that remained unsold in 2014, and
800 MHz i.e. CDMA band frequencies that were Highlights
left after sale in 2013. The Department of • All 56 Regional Rural Banks are now enabled
Telecommunication (DoT) later will disclose details • Comprises 19000 branches, 642 Districts
of the result and names of successful bidders after and 120 Million customers
the Supreme Court’s permission as a case is pending • Under PMJDY RRBs opened 21.7 million
in the court. A/Cs churning Rs 1600 crore in banks
RBI signs $400m • More than 20 Million RuPay cards issued
Currency swap deal with Sri Lanka • RRBs (Regional Rural Banks) customer
RBI signed a $400 million currency swap spends Rs 3500 on an average on PoS
agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for terminals
Providing modern banking facilities in rural
three years that will allow the island nation to draw
areas RRBs have played a vital role in making the
the amount in dollars or euros in multiple tranches.
ambitious Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
The swap arrangement is intended to provide (PMJDY) scheme a huge success with opening of
a backstop line of funding for the SAARC member 21.7 million accounts and augmented deposits of Rs
countries to meet any balance of payments and 1,600 crore in banks. More than 20 million
liquidity crises till long-term arrangements are made. customers have been issued RuPay debit cards by
Background various RRBs (mostly under PMJDY scheme) and
are performing successful transactions at ATMs and
In May 2012, Reserve Bank of India had PoS. As per NPCI research, every second records one
announced in the SAARCFINANCE Governor’s transaction from any RRBs customer on central
meeting, held in Nepal, that it would offer swap payment or NFS platform. However, the average
facilities aggregating $2 billion, both in foreign spend on PoS is estimated at Rs 3,500.
currency and rupee to SAARC member countries.
About NPCI
The facility is available to all South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) National Payments Corporation of India
member countries. Besides India, other members of (NPCI), which has been set up in 2009 as the central
SAARC are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, infrastructure for various retail payment systems in
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India, was envisaged by the Reserve Bank of India

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as the payment utility for all banks in the country. SEBI set norms to
During the last five years, the organization has grown Govern international Financial Market
multi-fold from 2 million transactions a day to 15
The Securities and Exchange Board of India
million transactions now. From a single service of
(SEBI) approved guidelines to govern international
switching of inter-bank ATM transactions, the range
financial services centres (IFSC). These guidelines
of services have grown to Cheque Clearing,
were approved by SEBI board meeting on 22 March
Immediate Payments Service money transfer (24x7),
2015. The news guidelines relax the norms for Stock
Automated Clearing House, Electronic Benefit
exchanges and clearing corporations to set up IFSC.
Transfer and a domestic card payment network
It also relaxes norms and allows existing exchanges
named ‘RuPa y’ to provide an alternative to
to set up their subsidiaries in the IFSC
international card schemes.
Stock exchanges will be set up with Rs. 25
IRCTC launches crore capital. This capital is against the previous
RuPay prepaid debit card service normal requirement of 100 crore rupees. However,
Indian Railway has launched RuPay prepaid this initial capital should be raised to 100 crore
Debit Card service for its customer. The service was rupees within next 3 years. Such exchanges will also
launched by the IRCTC in collaboration with be given 3 years to complete de-mutualisation.
Union Bank of India and the National Payment The initial capital requirement will be 50 crore
Corporation of India. rupees for a clearing corporation, against the
RuPay is India’s own card payment gateway previous norm of Rs. 300 crore. But it will have to
network like Visa and Master Card, and provides an be achieved within 3 years period. IFSC will be
alternative system for banks to provide a debit card established under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
service. Cards can be made available from UBI Act of 2005 and the issue of depository receipts and
offices or through IRCTC online. Initially the service other securities by foreign issuers under the Foreign
will be available for booking tickets and later on Currency Depository Receipts Scheme, 2014, will
shopping and bill payments will be added. also be allowed.

Key Facts Union Government


Approves 17 Mega Food Park
One can have the card with a loading limit of
17 new Mega Food Parks (MFPs) has been
Rs.10,000 with partial KYC detail or Rs.50,000
sanctioned by the Government with investment of
loading limit with full KYC.
around Rs. 2330 crores. This will include grant-in-
The first five transactions per card every aid for an amount of Rs.850 crores. The
month done on IRCTC for purchase of train tickets announcement made by the Food Processing
would be free and no transaction charges would be Minister Smt. Harsimrat kaur Badal. She said that
levied to customers for six months only. For every these 17 new MFPs spread across 11 States would
subsequent transaction post the free usage, customer attract a total investment of around Rs.4,000 crores
would be charged Rs.10 per transaction. and the annual turnover of the Food Processing units
The transaction charge would be Rs.10 per in these MFPs would be more than Rs.8,000 crores.
ticket for booking a ticket through the card on the
About Mega Food Park scheme
portal.
To give a major boost to the food processing
sector by adding value and reducing food wastage

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and loss at each stage of the supply chain with Processing Centres (PPCs), Collection Centres
particular focus on perishables, Ministry of Food (CCs) located in production areas. Common
Processing Industries is implementing Food Mega facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central
Food Parks Scheme in the country since the year Processing Centre like modern warehousing, cold
2008. Financial Assistance upto Rs. 50.00 Crore is storage, IQF, sorting, grading, packaging, pulping,
provided for setting up Mega Food Parks for creation ripening chambers and tetra packaging units roads,
of modern infrastructure facilities for food electricity, water, ETP facilities etc. This helps in
processing along the value chain from farm to reducing the cost of individual units significantly
market. A Mega Food Park located in the area of a and makes them more viable. Induction of latest
minimum of 50 acres work in a cluster based technology, quality assurance of processed food
approach based on a hub and spokes model. products through better process control and meeting
Infrastructure is created for primary processing and of environmental and safety standards are other
storage near the farm in the form of Primary major benefits of Mega Food Parks.

The link between Tobacco and cancer in India accounted for 243 per 100,000 men in
Kerala.
• Every year nearly one million new cancer
cases are diagnosed in India, the prevalence • With a rate of 215 per 100,000 women,
being 2.5 million. With mortalities of Delhi had the highest incidence of gall
6,00,000-7,00,000 a year, cancer causes six bladder cancer in women in the world.
per cent of all adult deaths in the country. Plant growth chamber for space
• The number of deaths per year is projected • Astronauts will now turn into cosmic
to shoot up to 1.2 million by 2035,
gardeners and grow lettuce in space as United
according to a series of papers published in
States space agency National Aeronautics and
the Lancet Oncology journal.
Space Administration (NASA) is all set to
• Currently, people in the 30-69 age group send the largest ever plant growth chamber
account for over two-thirds of cancer deaths to the International Space Station (ISS).
in India, with less than a thaird of the • It will launch the Vegetable Production
patients surviving more than five years after
System aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.
diagnosis.
• The plant growth chamber will grow lettuce
• The most common, nearly half of all, are
inside prototype flight pillows that will help
cancers of the lung and oral cavity in men, the plants withstand zero gravity, The Verge
and of the breast and cervix in women.
reported. Red, blue, and green light emitting
• Tobacco use alone accounts for about 40 per diodes (LEDs) will help sustain the
cent of all cancers in India. vegetables, and the plant chamber itself can
• The geographical distribution of cancers is grow to 11.5 inches wide and 14.5 inches
quite varied across the country. Based on the deep.
data from Chennai, cervical cancer was more • This will be “the largest plant growth
prevalent (22.7 per 100,000) than breast chamber for space to date.
cancer in Tamil Nadu, while oral cancer • The chamber may even be used for more

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ambitious projects, like providing food for behind during the moonwalking days of
the average person back on Earth. After 1969 to 1972.
extensive testing on weightless horticulture,
Earth-like planet spotted
NASA is confident the lack of gravity will not
impede growth. • Astronomers have discovered what they say
• However, space-borne microbes that may is the most Earth-like planet yet detected a
develop during growth are a cause of distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to
concern. Therefore, the lettuce will undergo our planet and exists in the Goldilocks zone
extensive testing before astronauts chow where it’s not too hot and not too cold for
down. life.
• The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting
High manganese level in Selaulim reservoir
Kepler telescope, which examines the heavens
• High manganese level has been detected in for subtle changes in brightness that indicate
the Selaulim reservoir in Goa, which supplies an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a
drinking water to more than half of the star. From those changes, scientists can
coastal State. calculate a planet’s size and make certain
• The State Public Works Department has inferences about its makeup.
started monitoring the water content at the • The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f,
South Goa reservoir. circles a red dwarf star 500 light years from
• The manganese level in the water from the Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light
reservoir has risen up from 0.1 to 0.8 mg per year is about 9.5 trillion km.
litre. • The planet is about 10 per cent larger than
• The reservoir has an earth dam with concrete Earth and may very well have liquid water a
spillway and is on the Selaulim tributary of key ingredient for life on its surface. That is
Zuari river. because it resides at the outer edge of the
• The reservoir has production capacity of 214 habitable temperature zone around its star
MLD of water, which is supplied to entire the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans
South Goa and some parts of north district. may exist without freezing solid or boiling
away.
LADEE
15 endangered Indian birds
• NASA’s robotic moon explorer, Lunar
Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer • Fifteen Indian bird species are part of a list
(LADEE), is no more. of avians which are evolutionarily distinct
• Researchers believe LADEE likely vaporized and globally endangered. The Zoological
when it hit because of its extreme orbiting Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University
speed of 3,600 mph (5,800 kph), possibly has come out with a study of 100
smacking into a mountain or side of a crater. Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally
No debris would have been left behind. Endangered (EDGE) species worldwide.
• LADEE was launched in September from • The study says Bengal Florican, Lesser
Virginia. From the outset, NASA planned to Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Sociable
crash the spacecraft into the back side of the Lapwing and Jerdon’s Courser are birds that
moon, far from the Apollo artifacts left are under threat due to the destruction of
their habitat of grasslands and scrub forests.

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The survival of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, cookstove to improve quality of life for


Siberian Crane and White-bellied Heron Indian women.
greatly depend on the existence of their
New spy satellite by Israel
wetland habitat.
• Forest Owlet’s survival is impossible if its • Israel has successfully launched a new
habitat of deciduous forests in central India observation satellite into orbit, one which is
is destroyed, the study said. Officials of the expected to be used to observe Iran and
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), hostile militant groups in the Middle East.
which works on the conservation of 12 of • The Israeli-made “Ofek 10” satellite was
these threatened birds, said these species were launched in cooperation with state-owned
threatened by human factors such as Israel Aerospace Industries. The satellite has
uncontrolled urbanisation, unsustainable already begun transmitting data and visual
industrialisation and rampant use of material. It is expected to be operational
chemicals in agriculture. within months.
• Israel is expected to use the satellite to keep
Indian projects shortlisted for Green Oscars
tabs on Iran and the region. It believes Iran
• IT giant Infosys leads five Indian clean is trying to develop a nuclear weapon a
energy projects that have been shortlisted for charge Iran denies and accuses it of arming
the annual Ashden Awards, referred to as the militants across the region.
Green Oscars. • Unlike other countries that launch satellites
• The awards recognise worldwide eastward in the direction of the earth’s orbit,
contributions towards green energy initiatives Israel launched the satellite westward,
and a move away from fossil fuels. opposite the direction of the earth’s orbit, to
• Infosys has been nominated in the ‘Ashden prevent debris following the launch to land
Award for Sustainable Buildings’ category for in enemy countries east of Israel. The satellite
the Bangalore-based company’s cutting edge completes a full orbit around the earth every
design of new buildings which helps keep 90 minutes.
offices cooler and maximises natural light.
Gilead hepatitis C drug patent
• The other finalists include two projects from
Maharashtra — Sakhi Unique Rural • Natco Pharmaceuticals, the Hyderabad-based
Enterprise (SURE) and Greenway Grameen generic pharmaceutical company, has filed a
— which have been nominated in the ‘pre-grant opposition’ with the Indian
‘Ashden Clean Energy for Women and Girls Controller General of Patents, Designs &
Award’ category. Trademarks to prevent the granting of a
• SURE is a not-for-profit social enterprise in patent to U.S. pharmaceutical major Gilead
central Maharashtra that has selected, trained Sciences for its breakthrough drug for
and supported more than 600 women micro- treatment of Hepatitis C, Sovaldi.
entrepreneurs to sell clean energy products • Under India’s patent laws, a third party can
like solar lanterns and cleaner cookstoves to dispute the validity of a pending patent
other women. application.
• Mumbai-based Greenway Grameen’s mission • The grant of a patent can be opposed under
is to provide an affordable, desirable 11 grounds that include lack of novelty and
inventive step.
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• Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) and attack leaves no traces nor does it give users
Initiative for Medicine and Access to a chance to protect themselves.
Knowledge (I-MAK) have also filed pre-grant
Tiangong 2
opposition on similar grounds earlier.
• Sofosbuvir is considered a breakthrough as it • In 2015, China is expected to launch its next
is a once-daily regimen expected to replace space laboratory.
the injection-based therapy. It is a direct- • Tiangong 2 will follow on from the Tiangong
acting anti-viral (DAA), and reduces 1 module, which was launched in 2011 and
treatment time to 12 weeks from 24-48 is still in orbit at the time of writing.
weeks. The existing treatment has several • Tiangong 1 received two crews of astronauts
side-effects while sofosbuvir has none. and carried out China’s first space dockings.
• It is a small, roughly cylindrical module with
Heartbleed : The Internet Bug a crew cabin and a service module featuring
• Heartbleed is an Internet bug that has been solar panels. Although Tiangong 1 is
widely employed in software that secures officially designated as a “space laboratory”,
users’ personal information on the web. it is really a small space station.
• In an advisory to users in the country, the • The launch of Tiangong 2 has been expected
Computer Emergency Response Team of for a long time, but space analysts are puzzled
India, a nodal agency, has categorised the by the nature of this spacecraft.
problem’s severity as “high”. • Originally, China planned to launch three
• Ominously named Heartbleed, this bug Tiangong modules, and Tiangong 2 was
interferes with the regular function of expected to be a marginally improved version
software called OpenSSL by causing it to spill of the Tiangong 1 spacecraft.
the secrets, it’s tasked with protecting, to • Later, China seemed to drop plans for three
malicious attackers. Tiangongs and launch just two.
• When users key in their personal information
Indoor maps launched by Google
on a website and hit ‘Enter,’ the data is on
the Internet travelling between your • Technology giant Google has launched
computer and the site’s server. To safeguard indoor maps in India that will help users
it, the site uses OpenSSL (SSL refers to browse through and locate specific locations
Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt it — inside venues like malls and museums.
turning it into an incoherent jumble of • The service, available as part of Google
characters — using an encryption key. Maps, is already available in countries like the
• With Heartbleed in the picture, OpenSSL U.S., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the
allows malicious messages sent to the server Netherlands.
implementing it to potentially hand over the • The service will be available free to Android
encryption key to the attacker. and iOS users.
• Companies like Amazon and Google have • Apart from the metros, indoor maps will
issued advisories to their customers stating cover locations in cities like Bhopal,
that they have updated their systems and Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Jaipur,
eliminated the threat. Kaspersky, a security Kochi, Lucknow, Ludhiana and Moradabad.
firm, advised caution because a Heartbleed • Apart from malls, indoor maps would be

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available for National Gallery of Modern Art existence of a special kind of particle: the
in Delhi, Salar jung museum in Hyderabad Higgs particle.
and Hyderabad International Convention • CERN’s particle collider, LHC (Large
Centre. Hadron Collider), is probably the largest and
World’s first 3D fingerprint the most complex machine ever constructed
by humans.
• A team of Michigan State University • Last year, the Royal Sw edish Academy of
computer scientists led by Indian Institute of Sciences announced that the 2013 Nobel
Technology(IIT) Kanpur alum Anil Jain have Prize for Physics to Peter Higgs after whom
built the first three-dimensional model of a the particle is named.
human fingerprint. • If techni-quarks exist they will form a natural
• Jain, a University Distinguished Professor of extension of the Standard Model which
computer science and engineering, and his includes three generations of quarks and
team did was develop a method that takes a leptons.
two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and
• These particles together with the
maps it to a 3-D finger surface.
fundamental forces form the basis of the
• The 3-D finger surface, complete with all the observed matter in the universe.
ridges and valleys that make up the human
fingerprint, is made using a 3-D printer. It Chinese environment policy
creates what Jain’s team called a fingerprint • Iron ore exporters from Goa may face
“phantom.” daunting task ahead for shipment of the
• While the 3-D model doesn’t yet have the newly purchased steelmaking raw material
exact texture or feel of a real finger, it could through online auctions due to restrictions
advance fingerprint sensing and matching imposed by Chinese recently passed
technology. environment law. The strict Chinese
Smaller particles than Higgs Boson environment law may also affect iron ore
sales through online auctions in Goa.
• Until 2012, nobody was certain it existed till • The state government of Goa conducted two
the European Organisation for Nuclear auctions in the last one month to dispose off
Research (CERN) announced they had little over two million tonnes of iron ore of
found the God Particle. the total unsold inventory of around 11.5
• Scientists now say that it is more likely than million tonnes. While steel mills stayed away,
ever now that there must be particles smaller traders and exporters dominated
than Higgs particle participation. Auctions for the remaining
• According to the Standard Model, quantity are scheduled for shortly.
everything, from flowers and people to stars • Indian iron ore exporters face high export
and planets, consists of just a few building duty of 30%, which make them
blocks: matter particles. These particles are uncompetitive in overseas markets. Apart
governed by forces mediated by force from that, the government of China has put
particles that make sure everything works as strict environmental regulation in place
it should. which restricts steel mills to purchase low
• The entire Standard Model also rests on the grade iron ore from anywhere in the world
including India.
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• Iron ore deposits in goal are mainly of low emerging countries in Southern Asia, South-
grade with between 45-60% of iron (Fe) East Asia and East Asia, where a total of 3.3
content, which requires beneficiation to million deaths were linked to indoor air
convert into high grade pellets for direct use pollution and 2.6 million to outdoor
in furnace. pollution.
Birth of Mount Everest • Use of wood, coal or dung for cooking is the
biggest indoor polluter.
• Mount Everest - the world’s highest
• In Europe’s industrialised countries, 279,000
mountain - may have been born as Asia was deaths could be traced to air pollution.
squeezed like a tube of toothpaste after India
smashed into the rest of the continent, • The WHO said bad air quality outside was
scientists say. a result of unsustainable policies in the
transport, energy and waste sectors, as well
• The unexpectedly prolonged collision led to
as in industry.
the formation of the Himalayas and then
caused them to grow ever taller. • ‘Cleaning up the air would reduce risks,
• These mountains are home to the world’s especially for vulnerable children and the
100 highest mountain peaks, including the elderly’, said the UN health body.
Everest. Nuclear fuel Complex
• Moresi and colleagues have developed a • Following the approval of the Cabinet
computer model that explains what happens
Committee on Security, the country’s second
when continents collide. nuclear fuel complex will come up at Kota
• The model shows that when one continent in Rajasthan. The Rs. 2,400-crore complex,
bears thick or buoyant crust that blocks next to the Rawatbhata nuclear plant, will
subduction, the other continent gets have the facility to reprocess atomic fuel.
squeezed like a tube of toothpaste and folds
• The Department of Atomic Energy has made
around the blockage, creating a complex
the new arrangement, keeping in mind the
array of geophysical features.
growing demand for fuel required for nuclear
• It suggests that as India shoves into Eurasia,
plants. The complex will serve atomic plants
China and South-East Asia initially resist
which are proposed to be developed in
being pushed underneath, and then get
Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh; Haryana; Jaitapur
pushed aside instead.
in Maharashtra and Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat.
• The process unclogs the subduction zone and
• India’s first nuclear fuel complex, developed
allows India to keep pushing into Eurasia,
raising up Mount Everest and its towering at Hyderabad, does not have the capacity to
meet the growing demands from reactors
siblings.
which will come up by the next decade. Also,
The biggest environmental health risk under the 12th Plan, India aims to increase
its nuclear energy generation capacity to over
• Air pollution killed an estimated 7 million
people around the world in 2012, making it 17,300 MWe, from over 5,500 MWe now.
the biggest environmental health risk, Sea Anemones
according to the World Health Organization • Sea anemones are classified as animals, but a
(WHO) .
surprising new research has found that these
• The situation was worst in developing and

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water-dwelling predatory creatures are spotted in Kerala.


technically half plant and half animal. • A team of the nature lovers’ forum Warblers
• It was discovered that sea anemones display and Waders, on its annual bird survey at the
a genomic landscape with a complexity of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollam
regulatory elements similar to that of fruit during February, was able to record a Great
flies or other animal model systems. Eared Nightjar sitting on brood in the forest.
• This suggests, that this principle of gene The Warblers and Waders team claim “it is
regulation is already 600 million years old the first record from the State”.
and dates back to the common ancestor of • An earlier sighting had been recorded from
human, fly and sea anemone. the Siruvani foothills in Tamil Nadu in May
• On the other hand, sea anemones are more 1995. The Great Eared Nightjar
similar to plants rather to vertebrates or (Eurostopodus macrotis bourdilloni) belongs
insects in their regulation of gene expression to the nightjar family. It gets its name from
the two erect earlike tufts of feathers on its
by short regulatory RNAs called micro
head, behind the eyes.
RNAs. joint surfaces of the humerus.
• The Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is rich
Green mobile in Ghana in biodiversity and the Warblers and Waders
• Indian telecom equipment-maker Vihaan has been conducting bird surveys there in
Networks Ltd (VNL) is pow ering a association with the Kerala Forest
communications revolution in Africa, Department since 1995.
particularly in villages and remote locations, Initiative by France to ease air pollution
through its innovative, green mobile tower
solutions. • Recently, France has proposed free transport
• The latest to join its client list is Ghana, over the weekend after poor air quality and
which has chosen VNL’s solar-powered pollution hit a record level in the country’s
‘WorldGSM’ mobile tower architecture — northern region, particularly in Paris and its
an environment-friendly and cost-effective suburbs.
mobile system — to deliver affordable • The increase in pollution level was caused by
services in villages. above average temperatures heating up traffic
• VNL is already present in Nigeria, Uganda and industrial pollutants and the hot air re-
and Benin, while it is in talks with other circulating slowly across densely populated
African nations to deploy its cheap and green north France and the capital.
telecom solutions. In Latin America, VNL • In Paris, officials encourage residents and
has deployed its network in Bolivia and Peru. visitors to use Velib and Autolib, public
In Bolivia, it has partnered with Entel S.A., sharing services of bicycle and electric cars.
state-run telecom operator, for deployment • Furthermore, the government recommended
of GSM mobile tow er sites in remote to reduce driving speeds, avoid intense
locations under the ‘Cobertura Movil Rural’ physical activity and outdoor walks with
(rural mobile coverage) project. children under 6 years of age, and a
prohibition against lighting fires outside.
Kollam’s Bird survey
World’s first solar-powered toile
• A brood of the highly elusive nocturnal forest
bird, the Great Eared Nightjar, had been • A revolutionary waterless toilet powered by
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193 || Year Book 2015

the sun, developed to help some of the 2.5 recorded in Pathanamthitta is closer to the
billion people lacking safe and sustainable recommended level.
sanitation around the world, will be unveiled
New Species of Dancing Frogs
in India this month.
• Designed and built using a $7, 77,000 grant • Scientists have discovered 14 new species of
from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, so-called dancing frogs in the Western Ghats,
the self-contained, waterless toilet with its just in time, they fear, to watch them fade
innovative technology converts human waste away.
to biochar, a highly porous charcoal. • Indian biologists say they found the tiny
• It aims to provide an eco-friendly solution to acrobatic amphibians, which earned their
help some of the 2.5 billion people around name with the unusual kicks they use to
the world lacking safe and sustainable attract mates, declining dramatically in
sanitation. number during the 12 years in which they
chronicled the species through morphological
Indian Cities with Minimum air Pollution descriptions and molecular DNA markers.
• Hassan city is among three Indian cities with They breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-
minimum air pollution, according to the rushing streams, but their habitat appears to
latest World Health Organi-sation (WHO) be becoming increasingly dry.
study on ambient air quality. The study • The study listing the new species published
spanned over 1,600 cities in 91 countries. in the Ceylon Journal of Science brings the
• Of the 123 Indian cities that were covered number of known Indian dancing frog
by the study, Hassan ranked third in terms species to 24.
of least concentration of dust particles in air. • Only the males dance: it’s actually a unique
The other two cities are Kollam and breeding behavior called foot-flagging. They
Pathanamthitta in Kerala. stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the
• The WHO conducted the study and side to draw the attention of females who
prepared a database of ambient air quality, might have trouble hearing mating croaks
considering the concentration of particulate over the sound of water flowing through
matter in air. Particulate matter with a perennial hill streams.
diameter of 10 micron (PM10) and 2.5 • They bigger the frog, the more they dance.
micron (PM2.5) were considered for the These are tiny, delicate frogs no bigger than
study. The collected daily measurements or a walnut and can easily be swept away in a
data were aggregated into annual mean for gushing mountain stream. So breeding
the database. happens only once the level of a stream drops
• As per the database, in Hassan, the annual to the point where the water babbles over
mean of PM10 was recorded at 44 ?g/m3 stones.
(micrograms per cubic metre of air) and “Save Our Snow Leopards”
PM2.5 at 19 ?g/m3.
• In Kollam, it was 39 ?g/m3 and 17 ?g/m3 • The strikingly beautiful snow leopards are in
respectively and in Pathanamthitta, it was 23 “real danger” and there was need to observe,
?g/m3 and 10 ?g/m3 respectively. study and develop ways to conserve this rare
• The concentration of particulate matter and endangered species as only 400-700 of
the world’s best mountain climbers remain in

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194 || Year Book 2015

India, according to a leading conservation Kepler-10c


organisation.
• Astronomers have discovered the “Godzilla”
• Launching a campaign “Save Our Snow
of all Earths – a new type of rocky planet that
Leopards”, WWF-India said that poaching is
weighs 17 times as much as our planet and
the major challenge for the protection of this
is more than twice as large in size, a
so magni-ficent species found high altitude
surprising find that could change scientists’
Himalayan region.
understanding of the origins of the universe.
• Snow leopards are poached for their pelts
• The newly found mega-Earth, Kepler-10c,
while their bones and other body parts are
also in demand for use in traditional Asian circles a Sun-like star once every 45 days. It
medicines. is located about 560 light-years from Earth
in the constellation Draco. Theorists believed
• Snow leopards also face habitat and prey loss
such a world could not form because
with the increase of human settlements and
anything so hefty would grab hydrogen gas
developmental activities in their territories.
as it grew and become a Jupiter-like gas giant.
• The snow leopard is found across almost This planet, though, is all solid and much
1,29,000 sq kms in India, in the states of
bigger than previously discovered “super-
Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Earths,” making it a “mega-Earth.”
Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal
Pradesh. • Kepler-10c was originally spotted by NASA’s
Kepler spacecraft. Kepler-10c was known to
• The WWF-India said that the snow leopard
have a diameter of about 18,000 miles, 2.3
is at the apex of the mountain eco-system and
times as large as Earth. This suggested it fell
is also an indicator species for the high
into a category of planets known as mini-
altitude mountain ecosystem.
Neptunes, which have thick, gaseous
Sun-observing IRIS envelopes. The team used the HARPS-North
• NASA’s sun-observing spacecraft Interface instrument on the Telescopio Nazionale
Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) Galileo (TNG) in the Canary Islands to
spacecraft has captured its first stunning measure the mass of Kepler-10c. They found
close-up of a colossal coronal mass that it weighed 17 times as much as Earth –
ejection(CME) erupting from the sun. far more than expected. This showed that
• The field of view for this imagery is about Kepler-10c must have a dense composition
five times the width of earth and about of rocks and other solids.
seven-and-half times its length, a tremendous New algae species
sheet of solar material can be seen erupting could provide valuable biofuel
in a latest video released by NASA.
• The discovery of a new species of macro algae
• The view is unprecedented for IRIS which
was launched in June last year to observe the along the coast at south Goa could open up
vast reserves of biofuel besides providing raw
lowest levels of the sun’s atmosphere with
better resolution than ever before. material for anti-cancer drugs. A variety of
macro algae was last discovered some 45 years
• IRIS must commit to pointing at certain
back in the coastal region of Chennai.
areas of the sun at least a day in advance, so
catching a CME in the act involves some • Such macro algae can be a rich source of
educated guesses and a little bit of luck. biomass,” said Felix Bast, principle

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195 || Year Book 2015

investigator and scientist at the Centre for technology, supplied by Atomstroyexports,


Biosciences, Central University of Punjab. Russia.
“ Macro algae or seaweed changes its • When the reactor reached 90 per cent of its
morphology frequently and hence it is capacity on May 5, 2013, it was expected
extremely tough to record or find out about that the first unit would attain the maximum
various species. power generation capacity within a week or
• Algae larger than 100 micrometre in size is so.
termed a macro algae, or seaweed, in layman’s • Though the NPCIL had originally planned
language. The new species has been named to commission the first of the 2 X 1,000
Cladophora goensis Bast after the researcher MWe reactor within five years from the date
who found it. Green marine algae is of ‘first pouring of concrete’, the completely
responsible for the phenomenon of the new technology for the NPCIL technocrats,
massive green tides occurring in Goa, due to a range of technical issues, delayed supply of
the explosive growth of seaweeds. components, incorporation of additional
• This is a rapidly growing algae which safety measures, anti-KKNPP struggle and
cultivates in marine areas only and in water other reasons delayed its completion. Finally,
with salinity greater than 30ppm,” said Bast. the reactor is now ready for commercial
Apart from the possibility of this being used power generation 11 months after it attained
as a raw material for biofuel, it can be criticality last year.
cultivated and used in the production of
PSLV C23
FDA-approved anti-cancer drugs.
Successfull y put five foreign satellites
• The team of researchers including Felix Bast
and his students Aijaz Ahmad John and Satej • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-23
Bhushan used DNA sequencing techniques successfully put five foreign satellites into
to establish their findings.The researchers said orbit in the presence of Prime Minister
this bloom forming algae needs some hard Narendra Modi at the Indian Space Research
sub-strata or rock-like substance to grow on Organisation’s spaceport in Sriharikota.
and was seen to be growing on mooring lines, • In a smooth 20-minute mission, the ISRO
buoys, hulls of wooden dinghies and launched SPOT-7 a French earth observation
intertidal substrata, including natural rocks satellite, into an 655 km Sun-Synchronous
and concrete breakwaters. Its morphological Orbit (SSO). It is the tenth flight of PSLV
characters distinguish it from its earlier in ‘core-alone’ configuration (without use of
species including the green pigment- solid strap-on motors).Along with SPOT-7,
chloroplast- containing organic cell. there were four co-passenger satellites viz.
Full capacity attained in Kudankulam reactor AISAT from DLR Germany, NLS7.1 and
NLS7.2 from UTIAS/SFL Canada and
• The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project VELOX-1 from NTU Singapore.
crossed the much-awaited milestone as the
first reactor of the upcoming nuclear park About PSLV
attained its maximum capacity of 1,000 MW. The PSLV is one of world’s most reliable
• The Nuclear Power Corporation of India launch vehicles. It has been in service for over twenty
Limited (NPCIL) engineers were operating years and has launched various satellites for historic
1,000 MWe reactors built with VVER missions like Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission,
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196 || Year Book 2015

Space Capsule Recov ery Experiment, Indian First indigenously


Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) etc. Built stealth corvette inducted
PSLV remains a favourite among various
Indigenously built stealth anti-submarine
organisations as a launch service provider and has
warfare (ASW) cor vette INS Kamorta was
launched over 40 satellites for 19 countries. In 2008
commissioned into the Eastern Fleet of the Indian
it created a record for most number of satellites
Navy at a grand ceremony.
placed in orbit in one launch by launching 10
satellites into various Low Earth Orbits. Kamorta is the first of four ASW stealth
corvettes designed by Indian Navy’s in-house
Akash ready for induction into Army organization, Directorate of Naval Design (DND)
• The DRDO-developed air defence missile and built by the GRSE under Project 28. The ship’s
system was successfully test-fired by the Army production commenced on 01 March 2006 and the
and hit an unmanned aerial vehicle. The new ‘Kamorta’ was launched on 19 April 2010. Her
Army fired a surface-to-air Akash missile, maiden sea trials commenced in June 2013. Kamorta
which intercepted a fast-moving, small has been constructed using high grade steel (DMR
unmanned aerial vehicle called Banshee at an 249A) produced in India. With a displacement of
altitude of 30 metres above the sea level. about 3500 tonnes, the sleek and magnificent ship
• The interception proved the missile’s spans about 110 meters in length and 14 meters at
capability against subsonic cruise missile, said the beam.
officials from the Defence Research and The ship’s propulsion system consists of two
Development Organisation (DRDO) which Diesel Engines to achieve a maximum speed of 25
developed Akash. Wednesday’s launch was knots and an endurance of about 3500 nautical
the last among the validation trials done by miles. Enhanced stealth features incorporating ‘X ’
the Army on the missile’s production model. form of Hull, full beam superstructure, inclined
• A modern radar, which forms part of the ship-sides and use of Infra Red Signature
entire Akash system, continuously tracked Suppression (IRSS) make her less susceptible to
the low-flying target. Special techniques detection.
developed by the DRDO for overcoming the About 90% of the ship is indigenous, with its
reflections of the target vehicle Banshee weapons and sensors suite showcasing the nation’s
coming from the sea worked perfectly in the growing capability in designing and developing
mission. With this flight trial, the Army had sophisticated weapon systems, which include heavy
accomplished all the validation trials on the weight torpedoes, ASW rockets, Medium Range gun
missile’s production model and the Akash and Close-in-Weapon System comprising of two
system was being delivered for induction into multi-barrel guns.Her sensors include the most
the Army. advanced bow mounted sonar and indigenous air
• Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), surveillance radar Revathi with capability to detect
Hyderabad, is producing the missile for the targets exceeding 200 Km. The ship would also be
Army, the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) installed with short-range Surface-to-Air missiles
is the production agency for the Air Force. (SAM) and Active Towed Array Decoy System
BEL and BDL were executing production (ATDS) subsequently. It can also carry an integral
orders for more than Rs.23,000 crore of the ASW helicopter.
Akash missile system.

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197 || Year Book 2015

Solar energy could be the top source of equipment used by an optometrist. When an
electricity by 2050 object is placed behind the layered lenses it
seems to disappear.
• Solar energy could be the top source of
electricity by 2050, aided by plummeting • Previous cloaking methods have been
costs of the equipment to generate it, a report complicated, expensive, and not able to hide
from the International Energy Agency (IEA), objects in three dimensions when viewed at
the West’s energy watchdog, said. varying angles, they say.
• IEA reports said solar photovoltaic (PV) Earth’s water is older than the solar system
systems could generate up to 16 per cent of • Up to half the water on Earth is likely older
the world’s electricity by 2050, while solar than the solar system, raising the likelihood
thermal electricity (STE) — from
that life exists elsewhere in the galaxy,
“concentrating” solar power plants — could according to a study.
provide a further 11 per cent.
• The research in the journal Science found
• “The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic that “a significant fraction” of the water on
modules and systems in the last few years has Earth was inherited from interstellar space,
opened new perspectives for using solar and was there before the Sun was formed
energy as a major source of electricity in the some 4.6 billion years ago.
coming years and decades,” said IEA
• Researchers can tell where the water comes
Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
from by examining the ratio of hydrogen to
• Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels constitute the deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen, in
fastest growing renewable energy technology
water molecules. Water or ice that comes
in the world since 2000, although solar is still from interstellar space has a high ratio of
less than 1 per cent of energy capacity deuterium to hydrogen, because it forms at
worldwide. such low temperatures.
• The IEA said PV expansion would be led by • But scientists have not known how much
China, followed by the United States, while deuterium was removed in the process of the
STE could also grow in the United States
Sun’s birth, or how much deuterium-rich
along with Africa, India and the Middle East. water-ice the solar system would have
Scientists to come up with an ‘invisibility cloak’ produced when it was first born.
• Scientists at the University of Rochester have • Scientists simulated the origin of a planet
discovered a way to hide large objects from under conditions where all the deuterium
sight using inexpensive and readily available from space ice has already been eliminated.
lenses, a technology that seems to have New brain cell discovered
sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s
• Researchers have discovered a strange new
Harry Potter fantasy series.
type of brain cell that sends signals by
• Cloaking is the process by which an object bypassing the cell body altogether.
becomes hidden from view, while everything
• Neurons come in different shapes and sizes
else around the cloaked object appears
but the basic blueprint consists of a cell body,
undisturbed.
from which protrudes spindly appendages
• The so-called Rochester Cloak is not really called dendrites and axons.
a tangible cloak. Rather, the device looks like

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198 || Year Book 2015

• Dendrites are branchlike structures that ISRO: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)
receive signals from other nerve cells and
India created history on 24th September
deliver them to the cell body. The neuron
becoming the first country to successfully get a
then processes the signals and zaps along
spacecraft into the Martian orbit on its maiden
information to the next cell via a long
attempt.
projection called the axon.
• The newly discovered cells, however, have a Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars
different, and until now, unknown process. Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft started orbiting
In these cells, the signals skip the cell body the red planet at 7.47am, but it was only 12 minutes
altogether, instead travelling along an axon later —because of a time delay in radio signals
that project directly from one of the travelling the 680 million km — that scientists at
dendrites. ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network
• The new cells were discovered in the in Bangalore, could erupt in joy as Prime Minister
hippocampus of a mouse. Humans have the Narendra Modi stood a happy witness.
same general brain structure and types of Marking India’s first venture into the
hippocampus cells as mice. The hippocampus interplanetary space, MOM will explore and observe
is home to extensively branched neurons Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and
called pyramidal cells because of their the Martian atmosphere. Further, a specific search
triangular cell bodies. for methane in the Martian atmosphere will provide
information about the possibility or the past
Heliborne Surveys reveal potential for existence of life on the planet.
groundwater in the deserts of Jaisalmer The enormous distances involved in
• Presence of fresh water zones below the upper interplanetary missions present a demanding
saline layers in the deserts of Jaisalmer, challenge; developing and mastering the technologies
essential for these missions will open endless
arsenic-free aquifer after the top zone in
Bihar and water-bearing aquifer at a depth possibilities for space exploration. After leaving
Earth, the Orbiter will have to endure the
of 200 metres in the hard rock areas of
Tumkur, Karnataka are among some of Interplanetary space for 300 days before Mars
capture. Apart from deep space communications and
interesting findings that emerged from
navigation-guidance-control capabilities, the mission
Heliborne Geophysical surveys undertaken
will require autonomy at the spacecraft end to
on a pilot basis in five States in the country.
handle contingencies.
• With uncontrolled exploitation of
groundwater resources across the country High-end 512GB memory card SanDisk
adversely affecting the shallow aquifer • SanDisk Corporation has launched its high-
resources both in terms of quantity and end 512GB memory card SanDisk Extreme
quality, a pilot aquifer mapping project was PRO SDXC UHS-1.
initiated by the Central Ground Water
• The new offering, priced above Rs.52,000,
Board, Ministry of Water Resources, under is designed to meet the demands of
a World Bank funded hydrology project.
professionals who require the most advanced
• The aim of the project is to develop gear available for shooting 4K ultra high
sustainable and comprehensive groundwater definition video, full HD video, and high-
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by CSIR-NGRI scientists.
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199 || Year Book 2015

• The company has also introduced a 64 GB French Scientists find mechanism for
memory card SanDisk Extreme PRO spontaneous HIV cure
microSDXC UHS-1.
• As many as 1,482 French scientists unveiled
• This memory card, priced at Rs.9,700, would the genetic mechanism by which they believe
come in handy for people who would like to two men were spontaneously cured of HIV,
have 4K ultra HD video shooting for and said the discovery may offer a new
extended period as well clicking and storing strategy in the fight against AIDS.
a large number of photographs.
• In both asymptomatic men, the AIDS-
INS Sumitra to be commissioned tomorrow causing virus was inactivated due to an
A state-of-the-art 105m Naval Offshore Patrol altered HIV gene coding integrated into
Vessel (NOPV) INS ‘Sumitra’ was ceremoniously human cells, they wrote in the journal
commissioned into Indian Navy at the Goa Shipyard Clinical Microbiology and Infection.
in south Goa. The vessel was built by south-Goa • This, in turn, was likely due to stimulation
based Defence shipyard Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL). of an enzyme that may in future be targeted
The INS ‘Sumitra’ is the fourth in the series of four for drug treatment to induce the same
naval Offshore Patrol Vessels to be indigenously response, they said.
designed and constructed by GSL for the Indian • “This finding represents an avenue for a
Navy. cure,” study co-author Didier Raoult of the
The vessel was expected to meet the increasing French Institute of Health and Medical
requirements of the Navy for undertaking ocean Research (Inserm) told.
surveillance and surface warfare operations in order • Neither of the men, one diagnosed HIV
to prevent infiltration and transgression of maritime positive 30 years ago and the other in 2011,
sovereignty. The vessel would be deployed for have ever been ill, and the AIDS-causing
monitoring sea lines of communication, defence of virus cannot be detected with routine tests
offshore oil installations and other important of their blood.
offshore national assets. Besides this, it could be • In both, the virus was unable to replicate due
deployed for escorting high value ships and fleet to DNA coding changes that the researchers
support operations. This assumed specific proposed were the result of a spontaneous
significance in the aftermath of the tragic terrorist evolution between humans and the virus that
strike in Mumbai. is called “endogenisation”.
It is powered by twin diesel engines, each • “We propose that HIV cure may occur
driving a controllable pitch propeller through a through HIV endogenisation in humans,”
reduction gearbox. It is fitted with a lethal weapons they wrote. The teams said they did not
package and associated fire control system, state-of- believe the two patients were unique or that
the-art navigation, communication and electronic the phenomenon was new.
warfare equipment. The GSL has so far built 188 Role of El Nino in heat
ships, including offshore patrol vessels, missile craft, build-up in Indian Ocean: Study
survey vessels, sail training ship, fast patrol vessels,
extra fast attack craft, landing craft, offshore supply • The Indian Ocean has been warming at a
vessels and over 100 glass reinforced plastic fast rate faster than thought before (1.2 deg C
interceptor boats since 1964. during the past century). It is also the largest
consistent contributor to the global ocean

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200 || Year Book 2015

warming trends. Recent studies show that a • The study financed by the Department of
warm Indian Ocean can in turn modulate Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and
the Pacific conditions including the El Nino Technology, was conducted over a period of
events. So basically, such large warming over six years between 2008 and 2014 and had
the Indian Ocean has implications on the sample size of 120 patients, all of whom had
global climate. suffered from stroke.
• The western Indian Ocean, traditionally • Of the 120 patients, 60 patients were
thought to have cooler sea surface assigned to receive conventional treatment
temperatures (SSTs) than the central and and the rest were assigned to bone marrow
eastern Indian Ocean, is surprisingly showing stem cells treatment besides the conventional
an even stronger summer warming trend over treatment.
the whole of the 20th century than the • “While half of the patients underwent
central and eastern Indian Ocean. conventional treatment, the other half
• The warming is significantly so large that it underwent stem cell aspiration from hip
may alter the monsoon circulation, monsoon bone. Bone marrow cells were infused into
rainfall over the ocean and land, marine food the veins of their forearms,” the study stated.
webs and fisheries (western Indian Ocean is • On an average 28 crore bone marrow cells
one of the most productive oceans) and were injected of which blood forming stem
global climate including the El Nino. cells were on average 29 lakhs per patient.
• A recent study focused on the causes for this Later, the patients faced difficulties in using
warming and found that it was mainly due arms and legs.
to El Nino events, which are getting stronger • They were assessed at an interval of 3, 6
and more frequent during recent decades, months and 12 months and the difficulties
possibly due to a changing climate. they experienced doing various activities of
• These El Nino events weaken the summer daily livings were measured using two scales
westerly (blowing from west to east) winds which revealed that stem cell treatment is safe
over the Indian Ocean. but there is no added benefits over the
conventional treatment method.
• Winds have the effect of cooling the sea
surface. Strong winds cause evaporation and Agni-II ballistic
loss of latent heat from the ocean leading to Missile test-fired from Wheeler Island
cooling. When the winds are weakened the
• India test-fired the nuclear weapon-capable
opposite happens — the ocean warms.
Agni-II ballistic missile for its full strike range
Bone marrow stem of 2,000 km from Wheeler Island off the
Cell treatment has no added benefit Odisha Coast. Personnel of the Strategic
• Bone marrow stem cell treatment has no Forces Command (SFC) fired the surface-to-
added benefit ov er the conventional surface missile from a mobile launcher.
treatment in paralysis, also known as stroke, • The 20-metre-tall Agni-II zoomed to an
reveals a study conducted by AIIMS. altitude of 600 km and began its descent
before splashing near its pre-designated
• According to the study, people suffering from
ischemic stroke should exercise caution while impact point in the Bay of Bengal with “two-
opting for stem cell therapy of any kind until digit accuracy.”
more controlled studies come to the fore. • A battery of sophisticated radars, electro-

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201 || Year Book 2015

optical systems and telemetry stations along • This was the first time a series of rigorous
the east coast tracked the trajectory and tests confirmed that 3D manufactured
monitored various parameters of the missile copper parts could withstand the heat and
from the launch till the terminal phase pressure required of combustion engines used
during the 14-minute flight. Two downrange in space launches, NASA said.
ships recorded the final event as the dummy • In all, NASA and AR conducted 19 hot-fire
warhead detonated. tests on four injector and thrust chamber
• The exercise was carried out as regular user assembly configurations, exploring various
training under the supervision of missile mixture ratios and injector operability points
scientists from the Defence Research and and were deemed fully successful against the
Development Organisation (DRDO), which planned test programme.
designed and developed the weapon system. • “The successful hot fire test of subscale
The two-stage missile has been inducted for engine components provides confidence in
military use and can carry a one-tonne the additive manufacturing process and paves
payload. the way for full scale development,” said
Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at
Key facts about Agni-II Missile:
Glenn.
The range for Agni-II is performance, • According to AR, copper alloys offer unique
repeated guidance more than 2000 km.The salient challenges to the additive manufacturing
features of performance capability and salvo firing processes. The micro-structure and material
the test firings are mobile launch capability, properties can be well below typical copper.
capability. With the completion of above multi- • So they have worked through a regimented
staging, state-of-the-art control and flight trials, the process to optimise and lock down processing
design and development of guidance, re-entry characteristics and have performed rigorous
technology and the Trishul Missile is complete. materials tests to know how the alloy
sophisticated on-board packages including Nag performs structurally.
Missile: Nag is a third generation anti-advanced
CO2 emissions must be zero by 2070 to
communication. Agni-II has also tank missile with
top-attack and fire and been inducted into Services. prevent disaster: U.N.
forget capability. • The world must cut CO2 emissions to zero
by 2070 at the latest to keep global warming
NASA tests 3D-printed
below dangerous levels and prevent a global
parts for rocket engine catastrophe, the U.N. warns.
• NASA has successfully tested 3D • By 2100, all greenhouse gas emissions —
manufactured copper parts for rocket engines including methane, nitrous oxide and ozone,
and found they could withstand the heat and as well as CO2 — must fall to zero, the
pressure required for space launches. United Nationals Environment Programme
• Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) at NASA’s Glenn (UNEP) report says , or the world will face
Research Centre in partnership with NASA what Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
successfully completed the first hot-fire tests Change (IPCC) scientists have described as
on an advanced rocket engine thrust chamber “severe, widespread and irreversible” effects
assembly using copper alloy materials. from climate change.

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• The UNEP report published is based on the to an International Union for Conservation
idea that the planet has a finite ‘carbon of Nature (IUCN) assessment.
budget’. Since emissions surged in the late • The IUCN World Heritage Outlook report,
19th century, some 1,900 Gigatonnes (Gt) released at the ongoing World Park Congress
of CO2 and 1,000 Gt of other greenhouse at Sydney, had assessed 228 World Heritage
gases have already been emitted, leaving less sites for natural values.
than 1,000 Gt of CO2 left to emit before • While none of the seven Indian sites qualified
locking the planet in to dangerous to be included in the ‘good’ category, the
temperature rises of more than 2C above pre- Great Himalayan National Park, Nanda Devi
industrial levels. and Valley of Flowers National Parks and
• Jacqueline McGlade, UNEP’s chief scientist, Keoladeo National Parks were assessed as
told The Guardian that scientific ‘good with some concerns’. There were no
uncertainties about the remaining carbon Indian sites in the ‘critical’ category.
budget had diminished and the real • The report attempted to “recognise well-
uncertainty now was whether politicians had managed sites for their conservation efforts
the will to act. and encourage the transfer of good
• “The big uncertainty is whether you can put management practices between sites” and
enough policies in place from 2020-2030 — identified the “most pressing conservation
in the critical window — to allow the least- issues affecting natural World Heritage sites
cost pathways [to lower emissions and and the actions needed to remedy those
temperatures] to still stand a chance of being issues.”
followed,” she said. “The uncertainties have • The 39 serial sites of Ghats, which were
shifted from the science to the politics.” inscribed in 2012 “amid some controversy”,
• All scenarios in the UNEP report now are “under increasing population and
require some degree of ‘negative CO2 developmental pressure that requires
emissions’ in the second half of the century, intensive and targeted management efforts to
through technologies such as carbon capture ensure that not only are existing values
and storage or, possibly, controversial, conserved, but that some past damage may
planetary wide engineering of the climate be remediated,” it said.
known as geo-engineering. UNEP is • The sites that are “traditionally conserved by
“extremely interested” in the subject and is small populations of indigenous people
planning a report in the months ahead. leading sustainable lifestyles”, face many
• Consideration should also be given to challenges. The serial sites of Ghats are spread
compensatory schemes for investors in fossil across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and
fuels companies to address the ‘stranded Maharashtra.
assets’ issue, Ms. McGlade added.
NASA successfull y installs first zero-gravity
Western Ghats facing 3D printer on ISS
Significant conservation concerns: IUCN
• NASA successfully installed the world’s first
• World Heritage Sites such as the Western zero-gravity 3D printer on the International
Ghats, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaziranga Space Station (ISS) to help astronauts
National Park and Sundarbans are facing experiment with additive manufacturing in
significant conservation concerns, according microgravity.
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• NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore installed the the fourth satellite in the Indian Regional
3D printer, designed and built by Made in Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) from Satish
Space, inside the Microgravity Science Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is
Glovebox (MSG) on the ISS. the twenty eighth consecutively successful mission
• The printer was launched in September of the PSLV. The ‘XL’ configuration of PSLV was
aboard the SpaceX 4 resupply mission to the used for this mission. Previously, the same
ISS. configuration of the vehicle was successfully used
• “This is a very exciting day for me and the seven times.
rest of the team. We had to conquer many IRNSS-1D is the fourth of the seven satellites
technical challenges to get the 3D printer to constituting the space segment of the Indian
this stage,” said Mike Snyder, lead engineer Regional Navigation Satellite System. IRNSS-1A,
of California-based startup Made in Space, 1B and 1C, the first three satellites of the
in a statement. constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on
• The goal of the 3D Printing in Zero-G July 02, 2013, April 04, 2014 and October 16, 2014
technology demonstration is an experiment respectively. All the three satellites are functioning
to explore the use of additive manufacturing satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.
technology as a reliable platform for
IRNSS is an independent regional navigation
sustained in-space manufacturing.
satellite system designed to provide position
• The first phase of printing will include,
information in the Indian region and 1500 km
among other things, a series of engineering
around the Indian mainland. IRNSS would provide
test coupons which will be returned to Earth
two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning
for analysis and compared to control samples
which were made with the same 3D printer Services (SPS) - provided to all users - and Restricted
while it was at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Services (RS), provided to authorised users.
Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, prior to In the coming months, the next satellite of this
launch. constellation, namely,IRNSS-1E, is scheduled to be
• “This experiment has been an advantageous launched by PSLV. The entire IRNSS constellation
first stepping stone to the future ability to of seven satellites is planned to be completed by
manufacture a large portion of materials and 2016.
equipment in space that has been Researchers discovers rare huntsman and
traditionally launched from Earth surface, jumping spider in the Western Ghats
which will completely change our methods
of exploration,” said Mr. Snyder. Researchers have discovered rare huntsman
• The science collected from this printer will and jumping spider in the Western Ghats belong to
directly feed into the commercial printer the Sparassidae and Salticidae families. They were
flying up in 2015, which will enable a fast discovered by the research team of arachnologists led
and cost-effective way for people to get by Dr. P.A. Sebastian, Director of the Division of
hardware to space. Arachnology in Sacred Heart College, Kochi in
Kerala.
PSLV-C27 Successfully Launches India’s
Huntsman spider- It was sighted at Ponmudi,
Fourth Navigation Satellite IRNSS-1D
Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. These
ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV- spiders are known for their speed and unique
C27, successfully launched the 1425 kg IRNSS-1D, hunting mode. Sometimes they hide in the ambush
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204 || Year Book 2015

and surprise the prey. Some of these spiders make a its multiple Communication and Data Links can
substrate-borne sound when they detect a chemical alert and direct fighters against threats while
left by a nearby female of their species. providing ?Recognizable Air Surveillance Picture?
Jumping spider- It was sighted at the (RASP) to commanders at the Ground Exploitation
Malayattoor and Bhoothathankettu reserve forest. Stations (GES) that are strategically located. The
These spiders jump from one place to another like AEW&C system can thus support Air Force in
a grasshopper. The jumping spider was given the offensive strike missions and assist Forces in the
name Stenaelurillus albus due to the presence of a tactical battle area. Besides, the Electronic and
unique whitish area on the copulatory organ of the Communication Support Measures of the system
male spider. The discovery is considered unique as can intercept and gather ELINT/COMINT from
only 17 species of jumping spider having mating radar transmissions and communication signals. The
plugs have been reported of the approximate 5,800 AEW&C is a multi-sensor surveillance system that
jumping spiders recorded. can perform the following operational roles as