April, 2015

Member of Legislative Assembly Constituency Development Scheme (MLACDS)

The MLACDS is fully funded by the State Government and each MLA identifies and proposes the works to be executed in his Constituency. The Scheme is implemented both in rural and urban areas. The main objective of the Scheme is to identify and implement the essential works to bridge the critical infrastructure gaps in the Assembly Constituencies. The allocation of funds under the Scheme had been increased from Rs.1.75 crore to Rs.2.00 crore per Constituency per annum from 2011-2012 onwards.
The District Collector will accord administrative sanction for the chosen works and will also identify the implementing agency. An amount of Rs.1.125 crore shall be earmarked for priority works, exclusively fixed by the Government and out of the remaining Rs.0.875 crore, the MLAs can choose works of their choice in tune with the guidelines of the scheme.
Salient Features
Works to be taken up under Tied Component of Rs.1.125 crore
A sum of Rs.1.125 crore shall be earmarked for works prescribed under “Tied Component”. In order to provide infrastructure facilities to schools, a sum of Rs.25 lakh per MLA has been earmarked for provision of infrastructure facilities like toilet, water supply, etc., to schools and kitchen sheds which are in dilapidated conditions both in rural and urban areas. Further, each MLA should allot Rs.20 lakh for construction of Anganwadi Buildings, Noon Meal Centres and kitchen sheds in rural as well as urban areas from MLACDS funds. The MLAs should also allot Rs.5 lakh each for aids & appliances for differently abled persons. Out of Rs. 5.00 lakh, a sum of Rs. 2.00 lakh has been allocated for the purchase of scooters with side wheels attached, modernized prosthetic device and behind-the-ear hearing aid. Apart from this, a sum of Rs.10 lakh shall be earmarked for modernization of Anganwadi Kitchen Centres with Gas connection etc., at the rate of Rs.6,050/- per Anganwadi centre as one time expenditure. After taking all the eligible Anganwadi Kitchen Centres in the Constituency, the remaining funds shall be utilized for modernization of School Kitchen Centres at the rate of Rs. 22,000/- per Centre as one time expenditure as per G.O.(Ms).No. 294 Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme (SW.7) Department dated 11.12.2012. Further, the Hon’ble Finance Minister has announced during his budget speech for the year 2013-14 that the existing Government buildings will be provided with solar installations at a cost of Rs.11.70 crore by earmarking Rs.5.00 lakh out of MLACDS funds for each assembly constituency.
From the remaining amount of Rs.47.50 lakh under Tied Component, the MLA can choose one or more of the following works for any amount according to his or her choice, subject to the overall ceiling of Rs. 47.50 lakh.
a) In Rural Areas
1. Installation of Solar Street Lights
2. Upgradation of Gravel / WBM Roads to BT standard
3. Renewal of badly worn-out BT roads (laying of BT layer only with filling up of potholes, if necessary)
4. Laying of Cement Concrete Roads
5. Provision of buildings and/or compound walls for Government and Local Body Hospitals, Primary Health Centres, Government Veterinary Hospitals and also for Government Schools, Panchayat Union Schools, Adi Dravidar Schools, Kallar Reclamation Schools, Government Colleges and Government Hostels
6. Provision of infrastructural facilities to Government Special Schools for the differently abled and Government Orphanages
7. Construction of Bridges
8. Provision of additional Burial Grounds / Cremation Grounds to the Village Panchayats not having such facilities.
9. Provision of compound wall / fencing in the burial grounds belonging to public Wakfs registered with Wakf Board. Since the Wakf Board does not have any Engineering wing, this work may be entrusted with the Local Bodies concerned.
b) In Urban Areas
1. Installation of Solar Street Lights
2. Upgradation of Gravel / WBM Roads to BT standard
3. Renewal of badly worn-out BT roads (laying of BT layer only with filling up of potholes, if necessary)
4. Laying of Cement Concrete Roads
5. Provision of buildings and/or compound walls for Government and Local Body Hospitals, Primary Health Centres, Government Veterinary Hospitals and also for Government Schools, Panchayat Union Schools, Adi Dravidar Schools, Kallar Reclamation Schools, Government Colleges and Government Hostels.
6. Provision of infrastructural facilities to Government Special schools for the differently abled and Government Orphanages
7. Construction of Bridges
8. Provision of infrastructure facilities to Burial Grounds / Cremation Grounds
9. Provision of Concrete Pavements with storm water drains, if so required
10. Formation of new Public Parks
11. Construction of Public Toilets
12. Purchase of Jetrodding Machines and hydraulically operated sewerage machines
13. Provision of compound wall/fencing in the burial grounds belonging to public Wakfs registered with Wakf Board. Since the Wakf Board does not have any Engineering wing, this work may be entrusted with the Local Bodies concerned.
Renovation of Integrated Sanitary Complex for Women
Provision of sanitary facilities for women was one of the priority areas of the Rural Development Department when this Government was in power in 2001. The non availability of sanitary facilities impacts women and they suffer in silence. Absence of sanitary facilities is primarily due to both poverty and cultural inhibitions, which had to be overcome. Therefore, it was of paramount importance to ensure privacy and safety to women besides improving general hygiene and health to the rural people.
The Government in 2001 decided to build Integrated Sanitary Complexes for Women in all the 12,618 Village Panchayats in the State, at an approximate area of 750 sq.ft. each. The selected sites were easily accessible to the rural women and nearer to the habitations. Each complex had 14 water closets, 2 bathrooms, 1 pump room with pump set, 1 water tub and stone-paved washing facilities. Adequate water supply for washing and bathing requirements were also ensured. The total users were identified and grouped for the purpose of allocation of individual toilets within the complex. The Village Panchayats provided electricity connection for water supply and lighting and the allotted families maintained the upkeep of the complex. The complexes were provided with incinerators for disposal of the sanitary napkins of the user women.
Initially, 385 Integrated Sanitary Complexes for Women were constructed at the rate of 1 per Panchayat Union at a cost of Rs.2.00 lakh each. Between 2001 and 2004, all the Village Panchayats in the State were covered under the Scheme with the enhanced unit cost of Rs. 2.25 lakh. However, most of the Integrated Sanitary Complexes for Women were rendered unusable since the previous Government did not give adequate attention for its maintenance.
As per the directions of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, 12,796 sanitary complexes which were in the state of disuse have been renovated at a cost of Rs.170 crore during 2011-12, thereby restoring the basic facilities of the rural women.
Clean Village Campaign
In order to create a momentum to bring about a sanitary revolution in the State, this Government launched “Clean Village Campaign” in 2003. The Clean Village Campaign encompassed all activities taken up in the village for environmental sanitation.
Objectives of the Clean Village Campaign are
• To create more awareness to the community on the adverse consequences of open defecation practices.
• To recognize the special needs of different categories of people and promote sanitation needs of specific groups like children, women, adolescents, aged people, disabled, etc.
• To promote environmental sanitation in all institutions like Anganwadis, Schools, public places, etc.
• To develop and promote technology options for different geographic locations and conditions of water availability, depth of water table, etc.
• To promote hygienic behaviour through change in knowledge-attitude practices and skills for improving environmental sanitation.
• To empower the community and local governments in planning and implementation, strengthening their managerial capacity and responsibility on all aspects of environmental sanitation.
• To enable net-working, coordination and better convergence of various agencies and groups working in this sector with a view to optimize efficiency in implementation and ensuring sustainability of systems.
The strategy is focused on mobilizing the community through intensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities with the involvement of Village Panchayats and various other departments.
The components of Clean Village Campaign are
• Eliminating the practice of open defecation
• Water conservation and waste water re-use
• Solid waste management
• Night soil based Biogas plant
The Village Panchayats with 100% sanitation coverage in individual households, schools and Anganwadis were free from open defecation with clean environment through solid waste management and water conservation and also had provision of rain water harvesting in all the houses, were eligible to be nominated for a cash award of Rs.5.00 lakh by the State. The Government disbursed awards every year to 15 such Village Panchayats as a “Cash and Recognition Incentive”.
Clean Village Campaign which was shelved by the previous Government was revived and re-introduced by this Government during 2011-12 with an allocation of Rs.1.55 crore for giving cash award of Rs.5 lakh for 31 selected Village Panchayats, at the rate of one Village Panchayat from each district.
For the year 2011-12, proposals were received from all the 31 District Collectors who have recommended 91 Village Panchayats for the Award. These proposals have been scrutinized and 31 Village Panchayats, one Village Panchayat from each district, have been selected for the Award by the Government. Similar exercise is being carried out for 2012-13 also.
This scheme will continue in 2013-14 with an allocation of Rs.1.55 crore.
In order to create a momentum to bring about a sanitary revolution in the State, this Government launched “Clean Village Campaign” in 2003. The Clean Village Campaign encompassed all activities taken up in the village for environmental sanitation.
Objectives of the Clean Village Campaign are
• To create more awareness to the community on the adverse consequences of open defecation practices.
• To recognize the special needs of different categories of people and promote sanitation needs of specific groups like children, women, adolescents, aged people, disabled, etc.
• To promote environmental sanitation in all institutions like Anganwadis, Schools, public places, etc.
• To develop and promote technology options for different geographic locations and conditions of water availability, depth of water table, etc.
• To promote hygienic behaviour through change in knowledge-attitude practices and skills for improving environmental sanitation.
• To empower the community and local governments in planning and implementation, strengthening their managerial capacity and responsibility on all aspects of environmental sanitation.
• To enable net-working, coordination and better convergence of various agencies and groups working in this sector with a view to optimize efficiency in implementation and ensuring sustainability of systems.
The strategy is focused on mobilizing the community through intensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities with the involvement of Village Panchayats and various other departments.
The components of Clean Village Campaign are
• Eliminating the practice of open defecation
• Water conservation and waste water re-use
• Solid waste management
• Night soil based Biogas plant
The Village Panchayats with 100% sanitation coverage in individual households, schools and Anganwadis were free from open defecation with clean environment through solid waste management and water conservation and also had provision of rain water harvesting in all the houses, were eligible to be nominated for a cash award of Rs.5.00 lakh by the State. The Government disbursed awards every year to 15 such Village Panchayats as a “Cash and Recognition Incentive”.
Clean Village Campaign which was shelved by the previous Government was revived and re-introduced by this Government during 2011-12 with an allocation of Rs.1.55 crore for giving cash award of Rs.5 lakh for 31 selected Village Panchayats, at the rate of one Village Panchayat from each district.
For the year 2011-12, proposals were received from all the 31 District Collectors who have recommended 91 Village Panchayats for the Award. These proposals have been scrutinized and 31 Village Panchayats, one Village Panchayat from each district, have been selected for the Award by the Government. Similar exercise is being carried out for 2012-13 also.
This scheme will continue in 2013-14 with an allocation of Rs.1.55 crore.
Repair and Renovation of Anganwadi Centers
Minor repairs
The Honourable Chief Minister announced in the Assembly on 12.9.2011 that all the Anganwadi Centres will be repaired and renovated. The Government have issued orders vide G.O.Ms.No. 20, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department dated 27.3.2012 sanctioning Rs.52.83 crores for minor repair of Anganwadi Centres in Rural Areas. Accordingly, 8,596 Anganwadi Centres have been taken up for repair and 8,465 (98%) Centres have been repaired so far and the repair in the balance 131 Centres will be completed before 31.3.2013.
Major Repairs
The Government has issued orders sanctioning Rs. 32.99 crore for major repair of Anganwadi Centres in Rural Areas. Accordingly, 2,509 Anganwadi Centres have been taken up for repairs and 829 have been completed. In the remaining centres works are in different stages of progress which will be completed before 30.4.2013. Repair works such as wall cracks, roof leakage, replacement of roof, floors, doors and windows, white wash and colour wash are being carried out.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT SPONSORED SCHEMES
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was conceptualized and enacted as an Act in the Parliament in September 2005 to give a statutory backing to the scheme. The objective of the Act is to enhance the livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The primary objective of the Scheme is to augment the wage employment and the auxiliary objective is to strengthen natural resource management through works that address causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation, soil erosion, etc., and thus encourage sustainable development.
In Tamil Nadu, the Scheme was first notified on 2.2.2006 in 6 districts of the State, which was subsequently extended to other districts in a phased manner.
Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
The objective of this scheme is to fill the gaps existing in the infrastructure facilities created through various Central and State Schemes thereby enabling wholesome development in both rural and urban areas. The Government of India has enhanced the MPLADS fund outlay from Rs.2.00 crore to Rs.5.00 crore per annum per MP from the financial year 2011-12.The administrative expenses have also been increased from 0.5% to 2% of the annual entitlement of Rs.5.00 crore from the year 2011-12. The District Collector gives administrative sanction for the works. The guidelines contain an illustrative list of works that may be taken up and a ‘negative list’ of works not permitted under this scheme. Under the scheme, all maintenance works of any type are prohibited. Desilting of ponds, rivers, tanks, canals, etc, are also treated as maintenance activities and cannot be taken up under MPLADS.
During the year 2012-13, the total allocation under this scheme is Rs.295 crore. So far 4,534 works have been taken up with an estimate cost of Rs.224.94 crore. Out of this 1,303 works have been completed and the remaining works will be completed shortly.
mlacds

For the year 2013–14, the eligible amount for Tamil Nadu under the scheme is Rs.295 crore.

Union Cabinet approves Atal Mission for Rejuvenation

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today approved Central Government spending of about one lakh crore on urban development under two new urban missions over the next five years. The Cabinet has approved the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation of 500 cities (AMRUT) with outlays of Rs.48,000 crore and Rs.50,000 crore respectively. Under the Smart Cities Mission, each selected city would get central assistance of Rs.100 crore per year for five years. Smart City aspirants will be selected through a ‘City Challenge Competition’. Smart City Action Plans will be implemented by Special Purpose Vehicles(SPV) to be created for each city and state governments will ensure steady stream of resources for SPVs.

RULES FOR PRADHAN MANTRI JEEVAN JYOTI BIMA YOJANA DETAILS OF THE SCHEME:

The scheme will be a one year cover, renewable from year to year, Insurance Scheme offering life insurance cover for death due to any reason. The scheme would be offered / administered through LIC and other Life Insurance companies willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie ups with Banks for this purpose. Participating banks will be free to engage any such life insurance company for implementing the scheme for their subscribers.
Scope of coverage: All savings bank account holders in the age 18 to 50 years in participating banks will be entitled to join. In case of multiple saving bank accounts held by an individual in one or different banks, the person would be eligible to join the scheme through one savings bank account only. Aadhar would be the primary KYC for the bank account.
Enrolment period: Initially on launch for the cover period 1st June 2015 to 31st May 2016, subscribers will be required to enroll and give their auto-debit consent by 31st May 2015. Late enrollment for prospective cover will be possible up to 31st August 2015, which may be extended by Govt. of India for another three months, i.e. up to 30th of November, 2015. Those joining subsequently may be able to do so with payment of full annual premium for prospective cover, with submission of a self-certificate of good health in the prescribed proforma.
Enrolment Modality: The cover shall be for the one year period stretching from 1st June to 31st May for which option to join / pay by auto-debit from the designated savings bank account on the prescribed forms will be required to be given by 31st May of every year, with the exception as above for the initial year. Delayed enrollment with payment of full annual premium for prospective cover may be possible with submission of a self certificate of good health. Individuals who exit the scheme at any point may re-join the scheme in future years by submitting a declaration of good health in the prescribed proforma. In future years, new entrants into the eligible category or currently eligible individuals who did not join earlier or discontinued their subscription shall be able to join while the scheme is continuing, subject to submission of self-certificate of good health.
Benefits: Rs.2 lakhs is payable on member’s death due to any reason
Premium: Rs.330/- per annum per member. The premium will be deducted from the account holder’s savings bank account through ‘auto debit’ facility in one installment, as per the option given, on or before 31 st May of each annual coverage period under the scheme. Delayed enrollment for prospective cover after 31st May will be possible with full payment of annual premium and submission of a self-certificate of good health. The premium would be reviewed based on annual claims experience. However, barring unforeseen adverse outcomes of extreme nature, efforts would be made to ensure that there is no upward revision of premium in the first three years.
Eligibility Conditions:
a) The savings bank account holders of the participating banks aged between 18 years (completed) and 50 years (age nearer birthday) who give their consent to join / enable auto-debit, as per the above modality, will be enrolled into the scheme.
b) Individuals who join after the initial enrollment period extending up to 31st August 2015 or 30th November 2015, as the case may be, will be required to give a selfcertification of good health and that he / she does not suffer from any of the critical illnesses as mentioned in the applicable Consent cum Declaration form as on date of enrollment or earlier.
Master Policy Holder: Participating Banks will be the Master policy holders. A simple and subscriber friendly administration & claim settlement process shall be finalized by LIC / other insurance company in consultation with the participating bank.
Termination of assurance: The assurance on the life of the member shall terminate on any of the following events and no benefit will become payable there under:
1) On attaining age 55 years (age near birth day) subject to annual renewal up to that date (entry, however, will not be possible beyond the age of 50 years).
2) Closure of account with the Bank or insufficiency of balance to keep the insurance in force.
3) In case a member is covered under PMJJBY with LIC of India / other company through more than one account and premium is received by LIC / other company inadvertently, insurance cover will be restricted to Rs. 2 Lakh and the premium shall be liable to be forfeited.
4) If the insurance cover is ceased due to any technical reasons such as insufficient balance on due date or due to any administrative issues, the same can be reinstated on receipt of full annual premium and a satisfactory statement of good health.
5) Participating Banks shall remit the premium to insurance companies in case of regular enrolment on or before 30th of June every year and in other cases in the same month when received.
Administration: The scheme, subject to the above, will be administered by the LIC P&GS Units / other insurance company setups. The data flow process and data proforma will be informed separately. It will be the responsibility of the participating bank to recover the appropriate annual premium in one installment, as per the option, from the account holders on or before the due date through ‘auto-debit’ process. Members may also give one-time mandate for auto-debit every year till the scheme is in force.
Enrollment form / Auto-debit authorization / Consent cum Declaration form in the prescribed proforma shall be obtained and retained by the participating bank. In case of claim, LIC/ insurance company may seek submission of the same. LIC / Insurance Company reserves the right to call for these documents at any point of time. The acknowledgement slip may be made into an acknowledgement slip-cum-certificate of insurance. The experience of the scheme will be monitored on yearly basis for re-calibration etc., as may be necessary.
Appropriation of Premium:
1) Insurance Premium to LIC / insurance company : Rs.289/- per annum per member
2) Reimbursement of Expenses to BC/Micro/Corporate/Agent : Rs.30/- per annum per member
3) Reimbursement of Administrative expenses to participating Bank: Rs.11/- per annum per member
The proposed date of commencement of the scheme will be 1st June 2015.The next Annual renewal date shall be each successive 1 st of June in subsequent years. The scheme is liable to be discontinued prior to commencement of a new future renewal date if circumstances so require.

Salient features of a few schemes Tamil Nadu Government – State and Central are given here for study purposes.
1. Tamil Nadu Village Habitations Improvement (THAI) Scheme
This Government has introduced the flagship programme called Tamil Nadu Village Habitations Improvement (THAI) Scheme from 2011-12 onwards to overcome the bottlenecks in the uneven distribution of resources and to provide minimum basic infrastructure facilities to all the habitations. Tamil Nadu is the only State focusing on ‘Habitation’ as the unit of development and no other State in the Country is implementing such an innovative scheme.
There are about 7 habitations on an average for each Village Panchayat in Tamil Nadu with 79,394 habitations in 12,524 Village Panchayats. However, the number of habitations varies from District to district. The average number of habitations in a Village Panchayat in The Nilgiris District is 37 whereas it is only 3 in Villupuram District. Therefore, allocation of equal amount to all the Village Panchayats, with varied number of habitations, has led to disparity in development, disproportionate distribution of assets and uneven progress. The THAI scheme has come as boon with the aim of extending the basic facilities to the grass root habitation.
There are 12,524 Village Panchayats in the State spread across the 31 Districts (except Chennai). As can be seen from the following table, the population of Village Panchayats in Tamil Nadu varies widely with some Village Panchayats having population even below 500 while some others have population exceeding 10,000.
2. Chief Minister Solar Powered Green House Scheme (CMSPGHS) Pl. click here for G.Os
In the Governor’s address on 03.06.2011 in the Legislative Assembly, it was announced that “This Government will launch a ‘Solar Powered Green House Scheme’ for the benefit of the poor in the rural areas and construct houses measuring about 300 square feet at a unit cost of Rs.1.80 lakh by meeting the entire cost by the State Government”.
Accordingly, this Government had ordered for construction of 60,000 Solar Powered Green Houses of 300 square feet each, every year for the next five years commencing from 2011-12 at a unit cost of Rs.1.80 lakhs per house. The scheme is named as “Chief Minister’s Solar Powered Green House Scheme (CMSPGHS).”
Construction of houses under “Chief Minister’s Solar Powered Green House Scheme” ordered by the Honourable Chief Minister is another milestone in the history of rural housing which clearly addresses the shelter needs in rural areas. Nowhere in the country is such a free housing scheme for the construction of houses with an area of 300 sq.ft with solar powered lighting implemented.
Salient features of the Scheme
• All the people living below poverty line in rural areas are eligible for Solar Powered Green Houses.
• Each house is built with an area of 300 square feet at a unit cost of Rs.1.80 lakh fully funded by the State Government.
• Each house consists of a living room, bed room, kitchen, toilet and verandah apart from Rain Water Harvesting provision.
• Each house is provided with 5 solar powered Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), one each in bed room, living room, kitchen, toilet and verandah. Each beneficiary is given the option to have an electric connection powered by TNEB, which will be metered.
• The unit cost is Rs.1.80 lakh per house @Rs.1.50 lakh for construction and Rs.30,000/- for Solar Powered Lights.
• The RD & PR Department is entrusted with the construction of houses and Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) is the implementing agency for solar lighting component.
• The Green Houses are constructed either insitu (replacing his/her existing dwelling structure) or in the land owned by the beneficiary elsewhere in the Village Panchayat. No land acquisition is envisaged under this scheme. Only people with patta for their sites are eligible under this scheme.
• The supply, installation and commissioning of solar panels and lights are undertaken directly by TEDA by following established procedures in co-ordination with the Project Directors of District Rural Development Agencies.

India and Japan sign action plan for investment and trade promotion

India and Japan signed an action agenda for boosting investment and trade. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa signed the action agenda for India-Japan investment and trade promotion and Asia-Pacific economic integration.
The five agenda points included in the action agenda are:
1) Development of selected townships in India as Japanese industrial townships.
2) Promotion of investment and infrastructure development.
3) Further development and cooperation in information technology.
4) Enhancing cooperation in strategic sectors.
5) Asia-Pacific economic integration.

World Women Chess: Harika wins silver, bronze for Humpy

D Harika and Koneru Humpy came up with fine individual performances to win silver and a bronze respectively. Indian eves finished fourth in the women’s world team chess championship. China was beaten in the final round by Georgia, who finished the event with an impressive 17 points to clinch the gold medal. Georgia drew just one and won the remaining eight matches in this round-robin contest.

Panneerselvam urges Modi for NITI Aayog approved schemes

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi allocate the state a sizeable amount for the schemes approved by the NITI Aayog, to ensure the ‘unfair’ treatment by the 14th Finance Commission is in part redressed.
“I strongly urge you to ensure that the unfair treatment meted out to Tamil Nadu by the Fourteenth Finance Commission is at least in part redressed by a sizeable allocation to the State out of the funds set apart for schemes to be approved by the NITI Aayog,” he said in a letter to Mr. Modi.
Stating that Tamil Nadu has a “ready shelf of large schemes,” he said such plans could be funded out of this allocation.
The schemes include encouraging deep sea fishing like replacing trawlers with tuna long-liners, desalination projects, including near Chennai city and viability gap funding for the Chennai Monorail Project.
“I request you to issue necessary directions to NITI Aayog to consider funding such specific projects from Tamil Nadu from their special allocation”, he noted.
As against 4.969 per cent share in the divisible pool of central taxes recommended by 13th Finance Commission, Tamil Nadu’s share had come down to 4.023 per cent in the 14th Commission’s recommendations, he pointed out.
“The unbalanced formula adopted by the 14th Commission has virtually singled out Tamil Nadu for the most adverse treatment.”
The reduction in the inter-se share of Tamil Nadu of 19.14 per cent represents the biggest loss in share amongst all States, the CM said.

TMC emerges clear winner in Bengal civic polls

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) party retained control of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) apart from emerging the winner in 73 other municipal bodies in West Bengal. The TMC extended its tally in KMC from 93 seats in 2010 to 115 this year, out of a total of 144 seats. The BJP managed to secure only seven seats, trailing the Left Front, which claimed twice as many.

Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari is New York’s first Indian-American woman judge

Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari has been sworn-in as a criminal court judge in New York by Mayor Bill de Blasio. She became the first India-born woman to be appointed a judge in New York City.
Ms. Rajeswari, 43, who had migrated to the U.S. from Chennai as a teenager, previously worked with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for her entire career in several bureaus including Criminal Court, Narcotics, Supreme Court, and the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau, where she last served as Deputy Chief. Currently, there are two male judges of Indian descent in civil court settings — Jaya Madhavan on the New York City Housing Court in Bronx County, and Anil C. Singh of New York County Supreme Court, 1st District.

Haryana announces Rs 1,092 crore farmer compensation.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced compensation of Rs 1,092 crore to farmers affected by inclement weather conditions, to be disbursed by May 15. Of the total amount, Rs 720 crore will be provided by the Centre while rest will be provided by the state government. 3.17 lakh acres was hit with crop loss between 76 to 100 per cent, 1.92 lakh acres with crop loss between 51 to 75 per cent and 8.24 lakh acres between 25 and 50 per cent.

Maharashtra collaborates with Israel on Smart Cities

In a key stride in collaboration between the State and Israel, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai agreed to cooperate in building smart cities. Maharashtra has decided to create sustainable and friendly urban spaces that integrate the use of technology, social media, community participation and e-governance to build smart cities of Maharashtra like Nagpur, Mumbai, Amravati, Aurangabad and Nashik to a global standard. Mr. Fadnavis will attend an exhibition on agricultural technology, Agritech Israel 2015, and explore areas of co-operation including in emergency preparations and crises management technologies. Agritech Israel 2015 is one of the world’s most important exhibitions in the field of agricultural technologies.

7.9-earthquake leaves Nepal devastated

A massive 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck east of Pokhara in Nepal , causing widespread damage to buildings in the capital Kathmandu and killing more than 100 people in the country. The US Geological Survey (USGS) initially said the temblor measured at 7.7 but later upgraded it to 7.9-magnitude. It said the quake hit at 11:56 am local time (0611 GMT) at a shallow depth of 15 km. The quake was followed by at least four aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 6.6 to 4.8. It was the worst quake in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years, the world’s strongest earthquakes since 1900 Tremors were also felt in north and east India. The tremors were felt in most cities, including Delhi, Guwahati, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata and Jaipur.

Delhi government gives nod to farmer scheme named after Gajender Singh

The Delhi government today gave approval for the setting up of a farmer compensation scheme to be named after Gajender Singh, who allegedly committed suicide during an AAP rally on April 22. The government has also decided to give job to a member of Gajendra’s family and martyr status for him, as demanded by the farmer’s kin. The decisions were taken during a Cabinet meeting today, chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Singh, a 41-year-old farmer from Rajasthan, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree during an AAP rally against the land ordinance.

Rs 1,000 minimum pension under EPS to continue

The Cabinet approved the continuation of Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension for pensioners under the Employees’ Pension Scheme beyond the financial year 2014-15. The decision to continue with the pension on perpetual basis was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Cabinet also approved corresponding grant of continuous annual budgetary support for implementing the minimum pension, which will be to the tune of Rs 850 crore per year on a tapering basis.

Corporation Bank, New India Assurance Company signs MoU on PMSBY

Corporation Bank and New India Assurance Company Ltd signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementing Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana [PMSBY], central government`s scheme to provide security against personal accidental risk and permanent or partial disability. Under PMSBY, Bank`s Aadhar-linked SB account holders will be eligible for coverage against personal accidental risk, permanent/partial physical disability up to Rs 2 lakh. One has to pay a nominal premium of Rs 12 plus service tax. New India Assurance Company Ltd will issue a master policy under group insurance scheme, which is voluntary for the customers. The social security scheme is meant for all Aadhar linked SB account holders who are not covered under any other social security scheme, whose age is in between 18 to 70 years can enroll in to the scheme by paying a premium amount, a bank communique here states.

DIPP notifies 49 per cent FDI in pension sector

The government has raised the limit of foreign direct investment in pension sector to 49 per cent in line with the FDI cap in the insurance sector. In pursuance of the enactment of Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority Act, iv. 2013, government has decided to permit FDI in the pension sector. The FDI cap in the sector has been hiked to 49 per cent and that includes foreign investment in the forms of FPI, FII, QFI, FVCI, NRI and DR. All investments in the pension sector, however, will have to abide by the pension sector regulator PFRDA.

CJI refuses participation to choose NJAC

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu has refused to participate in a three-member panel for selecting two eminent persons in the six-member National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). The five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, which is hearing the issue of constitutional validity of the new law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary, was told by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that Dattu has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would not participate in the meeting of the panel till the matter is decided by the apex court. The three-member panel comprises Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, who are authorised to select and appoint two eminent persons in the six-member NJAC for appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

Capgemini acquires iGATE for $4 billion

Capgemini and iGATE have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Capgemini will acquire iGATE for a cash consideration of $48 per share. The transaction will amount to $4 billion and is expected to be immediately accretive to Capgemini’s normalized Earnings Per Share (EPS)1. iGATE is US-listed IT services company headquartered in New Jersey. This transaction would lead to a group with an estimated combined revenue of 12.5 billion in 2015, an operating margin above 10 per cent and around 190,000 employees.

BCCI to nominate Rohit Sharma for Arjuna award

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has nominated Rohit Sharma for the Arjuna award for 2015. Rohit has had an excellent last year for India in international cricket. Since January 1, 2014, he has averaged 55.05 from 21 innings with 3 centuries and 5 fifties, with the epic 264 his highest score. The decision to nominate Rohit was taken in the BCCI working committee meeting in Kolkata.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank Wins The Asian Banker Achievement Award 2015

Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) has won The Asian Banker Achievement Award 2015. The award was presented to the BMB in the Technology Implementation category of Best Outsourcing Project (New Bank). Usha Ananthasubramanian, Chairman and Managing Director of BMB received the award at a function held in Hongkong as a part of The Asian Banker Summit 2015. BMB is India’s first all-women public sector bank and was formally launched on November 19, 2013. It’s objective is to focus on the banking needs of the women and promote economic empowerment.

Ratan Tata picks up stake in Xiaomi

Iconic business leader Ratan Tata has acquired a stake in Chinese handset maker Xiaomi, the first investment by any Indian in the smartphone maker. Mr. Tata, who retired as head of over $100 billion conglomerate in December 2012 and currently serves as chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, has emerged as a major venture capital investor since his retirement. He has already made personal investments in homegrown e-commerce players like Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and Cardekho.com. In December last year, Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion, valuing the firm at $45 billion. Often touted as the ‘Apple of China’, the company has grown to become a major competition to global giants like Samsung and Apple.

Anil Kapoor conferred with Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Award 2015

Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor conferred with prestigious Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Award 2015. He was presented the award by noted historian and writer Babasaheb Purandare. Apart from Anil Kapoor, veteran Marathi actor Dilip Prabhavalkar was also bestowed with the prestigious Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Award 2015. Master Dinanath Mangeshkar Award was instituted in 1999 in memory of Dinanath Mangeshkar, father of Lata Mangeshkar.

Marathi novelist Bhalchandra Nemade bags 50th Jnanpith Award for the year 2014

Modi awarded the 50th Jnanpith Award to eminent Marathi litterateur Bhalchandra Nemade whose several books, including Kosala and Hindu, have influenced Indian writing. He was presented award comprising of 11 lakh rupees and a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Saraswati by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nemade’s contribution rests in initiating Deshivad, a theory of nativism that negated globalisation, asserting the value of a writer’s native heritage, and language. Seventy-six-year-old Nemade hails from Jalgaon.

Rajya Sabha clears bill to protect rights of transgenders

The Rajya Sabha, unanimously handed a personal member’s bill to protect the rights of the group. The personal member bill supplies for the formulation and implementation of a complete national coverage to guarantee general improvement and welfare of transgenders by the State. There are 58 clauses and 10 chapters in the Bill depicting different aspects of transgenders life from childhood to oldage, so that they are supported and integrated in the society. A National Transgender Welfare Commission and a special transgender court will also be set up.

Bank of India, New India and Star Union tie up for Social Security Scheme

Bank of India has partnered with insurance companies New India Assurance Co and Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance to roll out the government’s social security insurance schemes. The New India Assurance and Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company will issue a group policy to the bank and the policy would start on June 1, 2015 for one year. Enrolment is likely to start from May 1. An account holder has to give auto-debit request form to the bank and will get acknowledgement- cum-certificate by the bank immediately. The claim request will be forwarded through the respective bank branch for settlement of claim.

GST moved in Lok Sabha

The long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was moved in the Lok Sabha for consideration amid stiff resistance by several Opposition parties. The Bill seeks to establish a GST Council tasked with optimising tax collection for goods and services by the State and Centre. The Council will consist of the Union Finance Minister (as Chairman), the Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or Finance, and the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other, nominated by each State government.

National Project on Biogas Development

This is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme envisaging a subsidy of Rs.8000/- for all categories and Rs.10,000/- in the hilly areas for the installation of biogas plants. The subsidy for toilet linked biogas plants is Rs. 9000/-. For the year 2012–13, the physical target for installation of biogas plants is 1000 and so far 710 biogas plants have been completed. Out of this 24 are toilet linked biogas plants constructed in 7 districts viz., Kancheepuram (4), Kanniyakumari (3), Karur (6), Theni (1), Tiruchirapalli (1), Tirunelveli (7) and Tiruppur (2).

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched in 2000 to provide all weather road access to unconnected habitations. PMGSY is a 100% centrally sponsored scheme. The programme objective is to provide round-the–year connectivity by all weather roads with necessary culverts and cross drainage structures. Between PMGSY Phase – I (2000-01) and PMGSY Phase – VII (2007-08) i.e Bharat Nirman Phase – II, 4,946 roads have been taken up for a length of 9,970.150 Km at a cost of Rs.2,022 crore. All the works have been completed.
In Tamil Nadu, all habitations with more than 1000 population have been provided connectivity except for 1 habitation in Dharmapuri District. Now, Detailed Project Report is being prepared for providing connectivity to the above habitation through Forest Department.
New Proposals sanctioned under PMGSY Phase VIII (2012-13)
After a gap of 4 years, due to the sustained efforts of the State Government, the Government of India, Ministry of Rural Development has recently sanctioned proposals under PMGSY Phase-VIII as detailed below:
New Connectivity (500-999 category)
40 road works providing connectivity to 41 unconnected habitations for a length of 90.03 Km, at a total cost of Rs.39.01 crore have been sanctioned.
Upgradation
Based on the pavement condition, upgradation of 1258 roads for a length of 3005.74 Km at a total cost of Rs.1012.910 crore has been taken up.
Roads using Coir Geo Textiles
As an innovative technological intervention, the Government of India has accorded approval under PMGSY for 19 road works using Coir-Geo Textiles Technology for a length of 42.20 Km at a cost of Rs.16.74 crore.
Roads using RBI Grade 81
On a pilot basis, 7 roads are to be laid using RBI Grade 81, which is a soil stabilizing chemical to improve the strength of the soil. Road works for a length 16.50 km at a cost of Rs. 5.71 crore will be taken up shortly.
Long Span Bridges
In order to ensure uninterrupted connectivity throughout the year, 45 long span bridges at a total cost of Rs.78.18 crore has been taken up.
Totally 1,343 road and bridge works for a length of 3095.77 Km at a cost Rs.1130.10 crore have been taken up. This includes Rs.108.95 crore as State share.
This Government has also allocated Rs.66.84 crore for routine maintenance of these works for 5 years. All these works will be tendered shortly.
District wise Details of works to be taken up under PMGSY Phase VIII (2012-13)

Energisation of Street Lights with Solar Energy

Energisation of Street Lights with Solar Power is a State funded scheme announced by the Hon’ble Chief Minister in the year 2011-12, under which the existing street lights in the Village Panchayats will be replaced with solar powered street lights with an objective of reduction in the maintenance expenditure and promote the concept of renewable energy in rural areas.
This programme is implemented in the Village Panchayats on an experimental basis. Initially, 1 lakh street lights will be taken up in 1,000 Village Panchayats for replacement with solar power over a period of 5 years from 2011-12. The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs.52.50 crore for energisation of 20,000 street lights with solar power in Village Panchayats for the year 2011-12. Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) is the Executing Agency. 15,020 street lights have been energised so far with solar power. The balance will be completed before the end of March, 2013.
The Government has issued orders for energisation of 20,000 street lights with solar power and also sanctioned Rs.52.83 crore for the year 2012-13. The District Collectors have identified the locations, habitations and Village Panchayats where the street lights are to be energized with solar power and furnished the consolidated list to the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency. The TEDA has called for tender and the same will be finalized before the end of March, 2013 and the works will be commenced through the TEDA from April, 2013 onwards.

World Malaria Day observed

World Malaria Day (WMD) was observed on 25 April 2015. The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria. The day is observed to recognise the global efforts to control malaria. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination. World Malaria Day was instituted by World Health Organization (WHO) Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly. WMD is one of eight official global public health campaigns currently marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day.

National Panchayati Raj Day

National Panchayati Raj Day was observed across India on 24 April 2015. The day is observed to mark the passing of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24 April 1993. The Amendment institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the Village, Intermediate and District levels Panchayats. This registers a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level.

India among unhappiest countries in the world

People from countries as diverse as Bhutan and Pakistan are much happier than Indians, according to the World Happiness Report 2015. India is one of the unhappiest countries in the world. It ranks 117 out of the 158 countries surveyed for the report. In the South Asian region, the country fares better than Nepal (121st rank), Myanmar (129th), Sri Lanka (132nd) and Afghanistan (153rd). The top country in the list is Switzerland with a score of 7.587; India is at 4.565.

Indian-American Vivek Murthy takes over as US Surgeon-General

37-year-old Indian-American Vivek Murthy was sworn-in as the US Surgeon General by Vice President Joe Biden at a ceremony, becoming the youngest-ever in-charge of the country’s public health. Murthy, who took the oath on the Gita, is now the highest ranking Indian-American in the US President Barack Obama Administration. He succeeded Boris D. Lushniak who had served as Surgeon General from 2013 to December 2014. The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States. The U.S. Surgeon General is nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate. The Surgeon General serves a four-year term of office.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has redefined priority sector loan norms

RBI has modulated PSL norms which stipulate that banks operating in India must offer 40% of all loans to farmers, small entrepreneurs and so-called weaker sections of society. The old norms had stipulated that 13.5% of agriculture loans should be given to the farmers directly as crop loans and the rest, 4.5%, could be indirect loans to the farm sector, to allied industries such as food processing and fertilizer. Now, RBI has abolished the distinction between direct and indirect loans. RBI has introduced a sub-target within the 18% share of agriculture. Banks must give 8% loans to small and marginal farmers. Social infrastructure, such as school and healthcare facilities in smaller towns, and renewable energy have been included in the basket of priority loans.

Djokovic wins Monte Carlo Masters

The top-ranked Serb won the first big clay-court tournament of the season with a 7—5, 4—6, 6—3 win over Tomas Berdych in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. Djokovic broke again for a 4—0 lead, but the eight-time Grand Slam champion failed to hold his serve in the next game. Djokovic, became the first player in tennis history to win the first three Masters tournament of the year after completing the Indian Wells-Miami sweep this spring.

Union Cabinet approves lowering of age of Juveniles from 18 to 16 years for heinous crimes

Union Cabinet has approved lowering of age of juveniles from eighteen to sixteen years for heinous crimes. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The cabinet also approved to introduce Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014. This amendment will propose and add special provisions to tackle heinous offences like murder and rape committed by juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years. The proposed bill will amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The parent Act clearly defines and classifies offences as serious, petty and heinous and defines differentiated processes for each classified category.

Japan set to host continental champions in 2015 and 2016

FIFA confirmed that Japan will host the 2015 and 2016 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, the tournament that has been held annually since 2005 among the champions of each member confederation. Japan has hosted six of the last 10 events, with the United Arab Emirates hosting in 2009-10 and Morocco hosting 2013-14. Brazil hosted the first edition of the tournament, played under a different format, back in 2000.

JBM Group enters solar power sector

Auto component-maker JBM Group announced its entry into the solar energy sector with plans to invest Rs 1,600 crore in the next three years. The group plans to invest Rs 1,600 crore over three years and have a combined capacity of 300 MW under the newly formed entity – JBM Solar (P) Ltd, the company said in a statement. JBM Solar plans to be an independent power producer (IPP) with focus on both, ground mounted and solar rooftop projects.

Shah Rukh Khan honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Film Foundation Award

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Film Foundation Award 2015 for his performance in the movie Happy New Year. The award ceremony was held in Mumbai. Actor Rajkummar Rao won the prestigious award for his performance in the critically acclaimed film Citylights, which was released in 2014. Actress Huma Qureshi bagged an award for her memorable performance in the movie Dedh Ishiqya. Bollywood actors Shreyas Talpade, Tiger Shroff, actress Jaya Prada, singer Udit Narayan and Pankaj Udhas were also felicitated with the award.

Sesa Sterlite renamed as Vedanta Ltd

Metals and mining conglomerate Sesa Sterlite has changed its name to Vedanta Ltd to better align with its international identity — Vedanta Resources. Sesa Sterlite is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc, UK. The company produces and processes oil and gas, zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore, aluminium and commercial power and is present in India, South Africa, Namibia, Ireland, Australia, Liberia and Sri Lanka.

Railway launches mobile app for paperless unreserved tickets

Moving ahead in line with digital India, railways launched mobile application for paperless unreserved tickets. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu introduced from here the mobile app for paperless unreserved ticketing for commuters in Egmore and Tambram suburban sections in Chennai under Southern Railway zone. Developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) “utsonmobile” – the paperless unreserved ticketing feature in mobile application aims to eliminate the need. The application provides necessary on-screen alerts to guide the passenger during the booking process.

Pakistan confers Nishan-e-Pakistan on Chinese president Xi Jinping

Pakistan conferred the Nishan-e-Pakistan, its top civilian award, on Chinese President Xi Jinping, lauding his “outstanding contribution in the promotion of the relationship between the two countries”. President Mamnoon Hussain conferred the award on 61-year-old Xi during a ceremony held at the President’s House. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, federal ministers, members of the National Assembly and Senate, the three service chief and the Chinese delegation. The award was given for Xi’s contribution in promoting China’s relationship with Pakistan. Xi, also the General-Secretary of the ruling Communist party, was given a warm welcome on his arrival in the President’s House in a traditional horse carriage.

Kudermukh and Rajaji National Parks Declared as Tiger Reserves: Centre

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has accorded final approval to two national parks i.e. Kudermukh National Park in Karnataka and Rajaji National Park in Uttarkhand for being declared as tiger reserves. In accordance to this approval, Rajaji National Park is declared as India’s 48th Tiger Reserve. With this notification, Uttarakhand got its second tiger reserve after the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The notification was announced by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat while releasing logo of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The Rajaji National Park that came into existence in 1983 is spread across three districts of Uttarakhand namely Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal in an area over 820 square km.

Tamil Nadu govt cancels plot allotted for Coca-Cola plant

The Tamil Nadu government cancelled allotment of land for Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd to set up a bottling unit in Perundurai, the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (SIPCOT) complex in Erode district, amid growing protests by local residents over possible exploitation of groundwater. The Tamil Nadu government took the decision to cancel the lease agreement, blaming the firm for “not complying with the terms”. It was on June 21, 2013, SIPCOT allotted the land first and after two amendments in the agreement, a lease deed was executed and registered finally by HCCBPL on January 23, 2014.

International Mother Earth Day observed

International Mother Earth Day was observed globally on 22 April 2015 with the theme It’s our turn to lead. The theme highlights the need for change and seeks to inform the communities and leadership that action needs to be taken on climate by promoting a goal of environmental awareness through developing sustainable initiatives and galvanizing every human to pledge Acts of Green. This is the 45th anniversary of the Earth’s Day, the year when the world leaders will pass a binding climate change treaty in Paris in December 2015.

H.L.Dattu to head NJAC

The six-member NJAC headed by the Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu will be constituted by the center. (He declined the offer/appointment subsequently in view of court proceedings pending.) National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is a body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. The Commission is established by amending the Constitution of India through the ninety-ninth constitution amendment vide the Constitution (Ninety-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 passed by the Lok Sabha on 13 August 2014 and by the Rajya Sabha on 14 August 2014.

Sulekha.com raises Rs 175 crore from GIC, NVP

Chennai-based local listing services provider Sulekha.com has raised Rs. 175 crore from the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore-GIC and Norwest Venture Partners. The Chennai-based company has about 50 lakh businesses listed on its platform. Satya Prabhakar is the Founder and CEO of Sulekha.com.

Haryana govt to give cabinet minister status to Baba Ramdev

The BJP government in Haryana has decided to give the status of cabinet minister to yoga guru Ramdev, who was earlier made the state’s brand ambassador to promote yoga and ayurveda. The government’s decision was announced by education minister Ram Bilas Sharma, who said the state government would also honour Ramdev at a function at Indradhanush Auditorium in Panchkula on April 21. Recently, government announced to make yoga compulsory in all schools and equip all sports stadiums in every district with a yoga centre. Municipal bodies and Huda would construct yoga practice halls in their areas of jurisdiction. Special coaching of physical education teachers in yoga will be organised.

Paula Radcliffe to receive London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award

World record holder Paula Radcliffe will receive the inaugural John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award after she completes the 2015 London Marathon. The three-time winner will run what is expected to be her final competitive race at the 35th London Marathon. Radcliffe will be presented with the trophy by John Disley, who co-founded the event with Chris Brasher in 1981.

Indira, Rajiv names dropped from two Hindi awards

The BJP-led NDA government has dropped the names of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi from two awards for propagating Hindi. The ‘Indira Gandhi Rajbhasha Puraskar’ and ‘Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Gyan-Vigyan Maulik Pustak Lekhan Puraskar’, launched more than two decades ago, have given way for ‘Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar’ and ‘Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar’. The two awards have been discontinued by the Union Home Ministry, which instead launched two new schemes for doing outstanding work for promoting the progressive use of official language.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank inks MoUs with LIC, New India Assurance

Bharatiya Mahila Bank Ltd has entered into MoUs with New India Assurance Company Ltd and Life Insurance Corporation of India to provide insurance cover to its account holders. The insurance covers are being provided under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Suraksha Bima Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Jeevanjyoti Bima Yojana schemes respectively. The insurance option is voluntary and comes at a premium of Rs. 12 for the PM Jan Suraksha Bima Yojana and Rs. 330 for the PM Jeevanjyoti Bima Yojana. The age eligibility under the former is 18-70 years and under the latter 18-50 years. The enrolment period under the schemes will be from June 1, 2015, to August 31, 2015.

E-Samiksha launched to monitor rail projects online

With an aim of monitoring implement-ation of various ongoing projects including Rail Budget proposals, railways today launched E-Samiksha, an online monitoring mechanism. Now each and every project implementation can be monitored on real-time basis, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here after launching the system. Designed by NIC, the software is currently being used by Cabinet Secretariat, PMO and other Ministries for monitoring progress implementation of various programmes and follow-up of meetings.

China Readies $46 Billion for Pakistan Trade Route

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to unveil a $46 billion infrastructure spending plan in Pakistan that is a centerpiece of Beijing’s ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia and challenge the U.S. as the dominant regional power. The plan will be known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. China sees a historic opportunity to redraw the geopolitical map by succeeding where the U.S. has largely failed. A cornerstone of the project will be to develop the Pakistani port of Gwadar, a warm-water port run by the Chinese on the doorstep of the Middle East.

Japan maglev train breaks world speed record again

A Japanese magnetic levitation train has broken its own world speed record, hitting 603km/h (374mph) in a test run near Mount Fuji. The train beat the 590km/h speed it had set last week in another test.

Egypt President Morsy jailed for 20 years

An Egyptian criminal court sentenced ousted President Mohammed Morsy to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012. The case stems from violence outside the presidential palace in December 2012. Morsy’s supporters attacked opposition protesters, sparking clashes that killed at least 10 people. 12 Brotherhood leaders and supporters, including Mohammed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian, also were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

BHEL commissions 250-MW thermal unit in Jamnagar

State-owned power equipment maker BHEL has commissioned a 250-mw coal-based thermal power plant in Gujarat. The unit has been commissioned at the Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd’s (GSECL) Sikka thermal power station (TPS) by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), on EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) basis, the company said in a regulatory filing today. Sikka TPS is located near Jamnagar, an industrial town in Gujarat. Two units of 120 mw each, supplied and executed earlier by BHEL are already in operation at Sikka. Another 250 mw unit, presently under execution at Sikka TPS, is also in an advanced stage of commissioning.

Vishal Sikka appointed as University Advisory Professor at ECNU

The East China Normal University (ECNU), one of the prestigious universities in China, announced the appointment of Dr. Vishal Sikka, Chief Executive Officer of Infosys, as Advisory Professor. Professor Shijun Tong, CCP Secretary of ECNU, formally conferred the Advisory Professorship to Mr Sikka. East China Normal University, commonly referred to as ECNU, is a comprehensive research university in Shanghai, China. Established in 1951,it is the first national normal university of the People’s Republic of China.

Former Odisha Chief Minister J.B Patnaik passes away

Former Governor of Assam and three-time Chief Minister of Odisha Janaki Ballav Patnaik passed away in a private hospital at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. He was born in Puri district on January 3, 1927. He was Chief Minister of Odisha from 1980 to 1989 and again from 1995 to 1999. He was also the Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly from 2004 to 2009. Mr. Patnaik, who started his career as a journalist, was a Sanskrit scholar and wrote several books.

Navy launches stealth destroyer INS Visakhapatnam

The Indian Navy launched ‘Visakha-patnam’, the first of stealth destroyers under the P15-B project. The warship is 163 metres in length and has a displacement of 7,300 tonnes. The ship is the first of the four follow follow-up order of the Kolkata class warships.

ICICI launches NFC-enabled payment service ‘Tap-n-Pay’

ICICI Bank in collaboration with Tech Mahindra launched a payment service ‘Tap-n-Pay’ based on the near-field communications (NFC) technology, enabling customers make over-the-counter payments without using cash. It can be used for merchant payments by merely tapping a NFC-enabled mobile phone or a tag on the counter. For making payments, the user will have to bring the NFC tag or the mobile phone near a device at the merchant’s facility and the amount will automatically get debited from the prepaid account.

Yechury is new CPI(M) chief

Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury was elected the fifth general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). To ensure a smooth transition by averting a vote, Mr. Pillai’s candidature was withdrawn paving the way for the unanimous election of the 91-member CC, after which Mr. Karat proposed Mr. Yechury for general secretary which was unanimously accepted. Three party veterans — two former Chief Ministers, V.S. Achuthanandan from Kerala and Budhhadeb Bhattacharya from West Bengal, and Nirupam Sen have been dropped from the CC.

PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada generated business worth 1.6 billion dollars

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada has generated business worth more than 1.6 billion Canadian dollars, according to official figures released by the Harper government in Toronto. Sixteen commercial agreements and announcements were made by Canadian and Indian companies and organisations during Prime Minister Modi’s visit. Harper and Modi welcomed the progress made on negotiating a Bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and agreed to intensify discussions to finalise all outstanding issues. agreement involving Saskatchewan – based Cameco will see the company supply India with over seven million pounds of uranium over the next five years.

Kerala launches project to help people overcome substance abuse

The Kerala government launched a major campaign “Subodham” to help people in the state overcome alcohol, drug and other substance abuse. The project was launched by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Art of Living Foundation founder Sri Sri Ravishankar in the presence of religious leaders, representatives of student organisations and NGOs working against drug abuse. “The state government aims to wipe out the menace of substance addiction from our society through ‘Subodham’. If total alcohol prohibition could save the society, the state government is ready to forego the revenue from the sale of liquor that is around Rs 7,000 crore per annum,” said Chandy.

Andhra Pradesh Government inks MoU with IISL Company to replace streetlights in 13 municipalities with LED lights

Andhra Pradesh Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the IISL Company to replace the existing streetlights in 13 municipalities with LED lights in the state. MoU was signed by Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development P. Narayana and IISL’s representatives in Amaravati, the new capital state. As per the agreement, IISL will maintain replace and maintain LED streetlights in the 13 municipalities for seven years. The all existing streetlights in all the municipal corporations and municipalities will be changed to LED streetlights in a phased manner. By installing LED streetlights, state government aims to reduce the power consumption by 50 per cent.

Obama to honour Satya Nadella with ‘Champion of Change’ award

US President Barack Obama plans to honour Microsoft’s Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella with the ‘Champions of Change’ award for bringing about change within his company to support working families. Before being named CEO in February 2014, 47-year-old Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses across the company. The White House released a Middle Class Tax report highlighting his budget proposals to help those 44 million middle-class Americans. The ‘Champions of Change’ programme was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

Modi among Time’s most influential people

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who entered office this year on the promise of reviving the country’s economy, is the winner of this year’s reader poll for TIME Person of the Year. In the final tally, Modi received more than 16% of the almost 5 million votes cast. Readers from more than 225 countries in total participated, with U.S. votes leading the pack at 37%, followed by India at 17% and Russia at 12%. Mr. Modi was named by TIME among the 100 most influential people in the world in its annual list , with U.S. President Barack Obama penning a flattering profile of him.

Asia Cup 2016 to be played in T20 format

Asia Cup 2016 is set to undergo a radical change and will be a Twenty20 competition instead of the 50-over game. It would be revamped to include more Associate nations and to give some practice prior to the T 20 World Cup. The tournament would then revert to a 50-over tournament in 2018 ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England and be played as a T20 competition again in 2020.

Ashish Jakhar from Haryana sets National Youth record in hammer throw

Supreme Court has appointed Vivek Priyadarshi to head an investigating team to further probe the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 6 spot-fixing and betting scandals. Decision in this regard was taken by a SC bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla. The bench took this decision on the recommendation of a three member panel headed by former Chief Justice of India (CJI) RM Lodha which was appointed in January 2015.

Maharashtra government sets up task forces on agriculture development and poverty alleviation

Maharashtra government on 18 April 2015 set up a task force on agriculture development and poverty alleviation to address the issues. It will be 12-member panel for agriculture development and will be headed by the state’s additional chief secretary (Agriculture). Task force for poverty alleviation – State government also has set up another task force for poverty alleviation. It will be headed by principal secretary (Social Justice Department).
Background
During the first meeting of National Institution for Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog held in February 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested to all state governments to set up panels for agriculture development and poverty alleviation to address the issues.

World Heritage Day 2015 observed globally

World Heritage Day was observed across the world on 18 April 2013. The day is observed with an aim to create awareness among the people to conserve and protect the valuable assets and cultural heritage across the world. The 2015 World Heritage Day also marked 50th anniversary of ICOMOS.

SEBI bars 129 entities, suspects money laundering

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barred Mishka Finance and Trading and 128 other entities from the securities market. These entities are estimated to have shown fictitious capital gains to the tune of Rs.254 crore and just 29 of them made unlawful gains to the tune of Rs. 92 crore on an investment of just Rs. 2 crore. SEBI has suspended trading in nearly 30 listed companies for such violations while action has been taken against more than 500 entities, including promoters and others, for tax evasion of over Rs.3,000 crore.

RIL Reclaims Tag of Most Profitable Indian Firm

Reliance Industries regained its status as the most profitable Indian company after posting an 8.5 per cent rise in consolidated net profit for the March quarter. The operator of the world’s biggest refining complex reported a net profit Rs 6,381 crore for the three months to March, 2015. RIL had lost its crown as India’s most profitable firm to outsourcing giant TCS in the December quarter. TCS, which announced its March quarter numbers , reported a net profit of around Rs 5,900 crore (including one-time bonus for employees).

Wholesale prices contract 2.33% in March

India’s wholesale price index-based inflation (WPI) provisionally stood at -2.33 per cent for March, government data showed . This compares with -2.06 per cent for February and 6 per cent for the same period last year. This is the fifth consecutive month of deflation in wholesale prices, a clear reflection of lower commodity prices. Earlier Consumer Price Index-based (CPI) inflation for March eased to 5.17 per cent, the lowest in three months.

India’s first IFSC becomes operational at GIFT City

India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City in Gandhinagar district of Gujarat became operational today and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled rules and regulations for this global financial hub. Jaitley also attacked the previous UPA government for being “lethargic” in giving permission to the IFSC. The regulations are aimed at creating a vibrant IFSC on the lines of those in Dubai and Singapore and check the flight of trading in rupee and Indian securities to such offshore financial hubs.

Ashish Jakhar from Haryana sets National Youth record in hammer throw

Ashish Jakhar from Haryana on 17 April 2015 set a national youth record in boys’ hammer throw event and won gold medal in the 12th National Youth Athletics Championships held in Bambolim, Goa. In this event, Ashish had hurled 5kg ball-and-chain at record distance of 72.04 metres in a second throw which made a national youth record. In his opening throw he had hurdled at a distance of 71.92 metres. With this, he broke the previous national record of 70.35 metres which was set by Haryana’s Sukhdev Singh in 2009.

World Hemophilia Day 2015 observed globally

World Haemophilia Day was observed globally on 17 April 2015 with theme Building a family of support. The day provides an opportunity to talk to your extended family and friends, colleagues, and caregivers to raise awareness and increase support for those living with an inherited bleeding disorder. Hemophilia day was established in 1989 with the support of the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH). The date of 17 April was chosen to honor Frank Schnabel the founder of WFH, whose birthday falls on the same date.

FDI in services sector up 47 per cent during April-January

FDI inflows into services sector grew by about 47 per cent to $2.64 billion in April-January last fiscal. Helped with the growth in FDI in important sector like services, overall foreign inflows in the country rose by 36 per cent to $25.52 billion during the ten months of 2014-15. The other sectors where inflows have recorded growth are: telecom ($2.83 billion), automobile ($2.04 billion) and power ($612 million). Government has raised the FDI cap in insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent. The policy was also relaxed in other sectors such as defence, railways and medical devices.

Apurvi Chandela wins Bronze in ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup

Commonwealth Games gold medal winning Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela today qualified for next year’s Olympic Games after notching up the 10m air rifle bronze in the ongoing ISSF World Cup (Rifle/Pistol) in Changwon, Korea. Apurvi shot a total of 185.6 in the finals, to finish behind Pejcic Snjezana of Croatia, who won gold, and Ivana Maksimovic of Serbia, who clinched the silver medal. Pejcic eventually finished with a score of 209.1 to Ivana’s 207.7 at the end of the gold medal match up. There were three Olympic quota places to be bagged in the event.

Janata Parivar announces merger

Leaders of six Janata Parivar parties announced their decision to merge into one larger entity. Mulayam Singh Yadav will the head new party The new party will have a strength of 15 members in the Lok Sabha and 30 in the Rajya Sabha. With 30 MPs, the new party will be the third largest bloc behind the Congress (68) and the BJP (47) in the Rajya Sabha, where the Modi government continues to be in a minority. In the Lok Sabha, the party will have 15 MPs, making it the eighth largest party in the House.

Agni-III missile test-fired successfully by SFC

India successfully test-fired nuclear weapons-capable Agni-III ballistic missile from the Wheeler Island off Odisha coast. Although the missile has a strike range of more than 3,000 k.m. It was tested for a lesser range, in today’s mission. Agni-III is one of the sophisticated and accurate missiles of its class and has already been inducted into armed forces. It is capable of carrying a payload weighing 1.5 tonnes to a distance of more than 3,000 k.m.

RBI allows differential interest rate on deposits

The Reserve Bank of India said banks will have the discretion to offer differential interest rates based on whether the term deposits are with or without-premature-withdrawal-facility, subject to conditions. All term deposits of individuals (held singly or jointly) of Rs. 15 lakh and below should, necessarily, have premature withdrawal facility. For all term deposits above Rs. 15 lakh banks can offer deposits without the option of premature withdrawal as well.

Zomato acquires cloud-based data firm MaplePOS

Online restaurant guide Zomato announced the acquisition of MaplePOS, a cloud-based point of sale product for restaurants developed by a group of techies from Delhi. Gurgaon based Zomato has already renamed the MaplePOS product to ‘Zomato Base’ which will help the company and its restaurant partners to manage business into online orders and payments.

India’s GDP growth rate to reach 8% by 2017: World Bank

The World Bank has predicted a GDP growth rate of 8 per cent for India by 2017 and said that a strong expansion in the country, coupled with favourable oil prices. In India, GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 7.5 per cent in fiscal year 2015/16. It could reach 8 per cent in FY 2017/18, on the back of significant acceleration of investment growth to 12 per cent during FY 2016-FY 2018.

India to chair 9th IRENA meet in Abu Dhabi

India has been designated to chair the ninth meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Council. The meeting is scheduled to be held in June in Abu Dhabi. India is a founder Member of the IRENA. The body is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. IRENA has two main governing structures. IRENA Assembly takes decisions at Macro level and gives policy guidance to IRENA. IRENA Council which is the main governing body of the agency responsible for implementing various decisions of the assembly.

Sachin Tendulkar elected as member of Laureus Sports Academy

Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar was inducted as one of the five new members into the prestigious Laureus Sports Academy in a glittering annual award ceremony at the Shanghai Grand theatre. Besides Tendulkar, retired Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming, Kenyan long-distance runner Tegla Loroupe, Chinese gymnast Li Xiaopeng and former Chinese short track speed skater Yang Yang were the other athletes to be inducted into the Laureus academy. Tendulkar, who made his ODI debut against Pakistan way back in 1989, retired from the format after the Asia Cup in 2013 after completing a century of international hundreds.

Indian Prime Minister Modi inks uranium deal, talks trade with Stephen Harper

Canada and India have signed with a series of agreements and promises that will send Canadian uranium to the South Asian nation, liberalize visas for Canadian travellers, “soon” ratify a long-awaited foreign investment deal and lay a road map to complete stalled trade talks. Under an agreement signed between Modi had Harper, Cameco Corporation will supply 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium over five years to India for $254 million. The two countries also decided to strengthen defence and security cooperation and decided to cooperate to stabilise the Asia Pacific region. Modi also announced Electronic Visa Authorisation for tourist visa for Canadian nationals. Canada’s Stephen Harper returns 900-year-old Khajuraho temple sculpture to PM Narendra Modi

New visa scheme renamed “e-Tourist Visa”

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has renamed Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorization scheme (TVoA-ETA) to e-Tourist Visa with effect from 15 April 2015. With this ambiguities faced by foreign tourists especially by scheme’s nomenclature VoA, presuming that they would be granted visa on arrival upon landing will be removed. e-Tourist Visa Scheme is a pre-authorization of Visa to foreigners that being given prior to travel. TVoA-ETA was launched in November 2014. It had enabled Electronic Travel Authorization to 44 countries at nine airports across India.

Govt forms panel to review Official Secrets Act

The government has formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by cabinet secretary to review the Official Secrets Act in context of demands to declassify files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death or disappearance. RAW, IB, Union home ministry and PMO officials will be part of the panel. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew, Surya Bose, in Berlin and promised to examine the request for declassification of all files related to events since his death or disappearance in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

Arun Kumar Jha appointed CEO, KVIC

Arun Kumar Jha was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), Mumbai. He has been appointed to the post of CEO (Joint Secretary level post) for the balance period of his overall five year tenure up to September 13, 2016. Nuclear-capable Dhanush missile successfully test-fired. India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 km from a naval ship off the Odisha coast. The surface-to-surface Dhanush, a naval variant of India’s indigenously-developed Prithvi missile, was test fired from a ship in the Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast by the Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the defence force. The single-stage, liquid-propelled Dhanush having 350 km range has already been inducted into the armed forces and is one of the five missiles developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

IndusInd Bank to buy RBS India’s bullion financing biz

IndusInd Bank entered into an agreement to acquire Royal Bank of Scotland’s Diamond & Jewellery Financing business in India and related deposit portfolio. This is part of ABN AMRO Bank NV’s diamond & jewellery clients [unit] that is housed in Royal Bank of Scotland NV acting through its Mumbai branch in India. ABN AMRO was acquired by RBS in 2007. Until ownership of the loans transfer to IndusInd Bank, day-to-day management of the loan portfolio will remain with Royal Bank of Scotland NV. Employees within diamond and jewellery clients in India will also move to IndusInd Bank and will ensure seamless transition of the customer base.

Union Government forms task force to expedite work on inter-linking of rivers

Union Government on 14 April 2015 constituted a task force on interlinking of rivers in the country. The Task Force will be chaired by former Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources B N Navalawala and comprises experts and senior officials.
Terms of References of Task Force:
• Consider alternative plans in case of infeasible links in the present National Perspective Plan (NPP) apart from examining the existing links which are laid out as per the NPP under both Himalayan and Peninsular components.
• Facilitate interlinking of intra-basin and intra-state Rivers, along with that of inter-state and inter-basin links.
• Suggest different means of funding mechanisms for the interlinking of rivers project.
• Provide guidance norms of appraisal for individual projects in respect of economic viability, environmental impacts, socio-economic and preparation of resettlement plans.
• Device suitable mechanisms in order to bring speedy consensus among the states.
• To implement the interlinking of Rivers, propose suitable organizational structure.

FM transmission of Vividh Bharati launched

The popular ‘Vividh Bharati’ services of All India Radio (AIR) will now be available to listeners in and around Delhi on mobile handsets with the launch of FM transmission of the channel. Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, who launched the FM transmission, also delivered a message to the listeners of the channel, saying Vividh Bharati services would reach people within a range of 60-65 km with much clarity at all times in all weather conditions. Vividh Bharati offers a mix of film music, skits, short plays and interactive programmes. It is known to have the largest collection of film and non-film songs in the country. Mobile applications of all channels that are livestreamed by AIR like Vividh Bharati, FM Gold, FM Rainbow, Urdu service and several regional channels, will also be made available.

Gujarat government launches industrial tourism to showcase development

In a first of its kind initiative in the country, Gujarat government is promoting a tour package covering major industrial installations which have earned global acclaim for the state. Some of the major attractions of this recently launched tour package include a visit to Tata Nano plant in Sanand, Pipavav port near Amreli, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Amul Dairy in Anand. The package, called Industrial Tour of Gujarat, has been offered by city-based Akshar Travels Pvt Ltd, official partner of state-run tourism agency Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL), which is promoting the tour on its website.

Seoul succeeds in WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge 2015

Seoul city, the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea was awarded the title of Global Earth hour Capital 2015 after it won the Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The challenge saw the participation of 163 cities from 16 countries. The award ceremony was held in Seoul, South Korea. The city of Balikpapan, Indonesia was recognized as the Most Loveable City for 2015 and Thane city was named as the National Earth Hour Capital 2015 of India.

EPFO suspends Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension scheme

Retirement fund body EPFO has suspended the Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension scheme from this month, a decision which will hit about 32 lakh pensioners. The scheme was launched with effect from September 2014, hiking the pension amount to a flat Rs 1,000 per month for those who were getting lower amount earlier. With the suspension of the scheme, the beneficiaries will get pension at earlier rates. In a circular to its field offices, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said it has decided to suspend the scheme in the absence of any direction from the government to continue this benefit beyond March 31. According to the government notification issued on August 19 last year, the benefit of minimum pension was made effective from September 1 to March, 2015.(subsequently the Government has decided to continue.)

RBI notifies hike in FDI cap in insurance sector to 49%

The Reserve Bank notified government’s decision to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the insurance sector to 49 per cent from the present 26 percent. As per the notification, FDI up to 26 percent will be under automatic route and beyond 26 percent and up to 49 percent will be allowed with the approval of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The RBI notification is in tune with March 2015 decision of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) regarding operationalisation of increased FDI limit in the insurance sector.

Moody’s raises India outlook to ‘positive’, edges toward ratings upgrade

Global ratings agency Moody’s reaffirmed India’s rating at Baa3 but raised the rating outlook to ‘Positive’ from “Stable”, a step closer to an upgrade of the credit rating, as it expects actions by policymakers to lift the country’s economic growth. According to Moody’s the policymakers are establishing a framework that will allow the country’s growth to continue to outperform that of its peers over the medium-term and improve India’s macro-economic, infrastructure and institutional profile. Moody’s not only expects India’s economic strength to be enhanced over time, but also says that the recent measures taken by government will reduce some of India’s sovereign credit constraints.

Government raises stake in state-owned IFCI to 51%

IFCI Ltd has now become a state- owned firm with the government increasing its stake in the infrastructure financing firm to 51.04 per cent. Government has acquired IFCI’s 6,00,00,000 Preference shares of Rs 10 each from certain scheduled commercial banks and has consequently increased its holding from 47.93 per cent to 51.04 per cent of the paid-up share capital.

Mayilsamy Annadurai appointed as Director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC)

Mayilsamy Annadurai is appointed as Director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bengaluru. He took over as Director, ISAC from Dr SK Shivakumar who superannuated on 31 March 2015. As the Director of ISAC he will oversee development of satellite technology and implementation of satellite systems for scientific, technological and application missions.

Snapdeal acquires FreeCharge

Online marketplace Snapdeal acquired India’s fastest growing mobile transaction platform FreeCharge. With this acquisition, Snapdeal has become India’s largest mobile commerce firm with 40 million users and the largest mobile transactions base for any company. Now Snapdeal can offer wide range of services and products including financial services, mobile recharge and utility payments to its growing user base.

Narendra Modi announces compensation for farmers

Coming to the rescue of farmers hit by unseasonal rains and hailstorm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced higher compensation for crop damage and eased criteria for them to avail government support. Modi said criteria of 50 per cent crop damage for providing compensation to affected farmers has been reduced to 33 per cent which will help more farmers to get compensation for their crop loss. Following Mr. Modi’s footsteps the Reserve Bank has instructed banks to restructure loans of farmers whose crops have been damaged by the recent unseasonal rains and hailstorms. In its first bi – monthly monetary policy on 7th April 2015, the RBI said that the adverse impact of unseasonal rains and hailstorms in March is still unfolding.