April, 2016

IRNSS 1G – PSLV-C33

In its thirty fifth flight (PSLV-C33), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 1425 kg IRNSS-1G, the seventh satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) today afternoon (April 28, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty fourth consecutively successful mission of PSLV and the thirteenth in its ‘XL’ configuration.
Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, heartily thanked and congratulated all the ISRO scientists and team ISRO for completing IRNSS constellation and dedicated IRNSS to the nation as ‘NavIC’ (Navigation Indian Constellation). He appreciated India’s space community for making the country proud through such achievements which have helped in improving the life of common man.
After separation, the solar panels of IRNSS-1G were deployed automatically. ISRO’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan, Karnataka took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, four orbit manoeuvres will be conducted from MCF to position the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit at 129.5 deg East longitude.
IRNSS-1G is the seventh of the seven satellites constituting the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID, IE and 1F, the first six satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on July 02, 2013, April 04, 2014, October 16, 2014, March 28, 2015, January 20, 2016 and March 10, 2016 respectively. All the six satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.
IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS provides two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) – provided to all users and Restricted Services (RS) – provided to authorised users.
A number of ground facilities responsible for satellite ranging and monitoring, generation and transmission of navigation parameters, etc., have been established in eighteen locations across the country. Today’s successful launch of IRNSS-1G, the seventh and final member of IRNSS constellation, signifies the completion of the IRNSS constellation.

INDIA’S TRANSITION TO SOLAR ENERGY

India signed the historic Paris Climate Agreement on April 22, 2016 along with 175 other nations at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, marking a significant step to combat global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement was formulated within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Union government had earlier declared its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards realising the ultimate objective of UNFCC. The plan is for reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35 percent from 2005 level, by 2030 and to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3.0 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. In order to meet this ambitious target, solar energy is expected to play a crucial role in our country. India’s emission reduction targets are in line with the National Solar Mission target of 100 GW Solar Energy by 2022. The Union Government is speedily moving towards achieving this target by creating a supportive and conductive environment in terms of technology, policy and financial aspects.
International Solar Alliance : The Solar energy’s potential in India is immense. The Union Government has been able to recognise and utilise this potential through supportive policies and initiatives. In this direction, India launched International Solar Alliance of over 120 countries with the French President, Mr. Francois Hollande, at the Paris COP21 Climate Summit on Nov. 30, 2015. It aims to accelerate the deployment of Solar Energy for universal energy access and energy security for the future. The collective aim is to undertake initiatives to reduce the cost of technology and finance for solar projects and to identify financial instruments to mobilise $1,000 billion to promote affordable energy. It will function from the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurugram, India. The Indian initiative called the International Agency for Solar Technologics and Applications (IASTA), aims to spread cheap solar technology across the globe with pooled policy knowledge.
Solar Energy Schemes by the Govt : In order to realise the solar energy goals, the Government has launched several schemes from time to time such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), Solar City Programme, Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Parks, Solar Energy Pumping System among others. Apart from this, Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) was launched by the Government in Varanasi in Sept. 18, 2015. The aim of the scheme was to extend financial assistance against capital expenditure to all State power departments and both State and Private Distribution Companies (DISCOMS) to ensure 24×7 power supply to all. A budgetary support of Rs. 45,800 crore has been provided to the IPDS for its entire implementation period.
Job Creation and Skill India in Solar Energy : Given the population growth rate, India needs to create one crore jobs every year. Analysis carried out by Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) estimates that more than ten lakh full-time jobs would be created by the solar deployment industry alone, between now and 2022. Analysing the jobs created in the Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) sector, along with the related skills required in every phase of a solar project to reach the targeted 100 GW of Solar Energy by 2022 will need nearly 1,80,000 skilled plant design engineers and approximately 5,70,000 semi-skilled technicians for construction, most of whom will be needed to achieve the targeted 40 GW rooftop solar capacity addition. As many as 75,000 highly skilled workers will be needed within six years to carry out annual and ongoing performance data monitoring of Solar Projects.
In recognition of the need for skill Development, National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) organises ‘Suryamitra Skill Development Programme’, which aims to train 50,000 youths over the next three years for installation, operation and maintenance of solar projects. The National Certification Programme for Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Installer (NCPRSPI) is aimed at developing skilled and qualified manpower to install rooftop Photovoltaic systems throughout the country.
Solar Energy for Rural Development : Currently, lakhs of Indian farmers are waiting for agricultural electricity connections, while 90 lakh diesel pumps are being used for irrigation. Diesel water pumps are both expensive and hazardous to the environment. Solar water pumps could provide cost-effective and reliable irrigation servie, even in remote rural areas. The Central and State Governments are providing several incentives to promote the adoption of solar pumps. Capital subsidy on solar pumps ranges from 30% to 86% of the upfront cost depending on the contribution of the State governments. The Central Government is also promoting several solar energy applications such as solar flood dryers, solar home-lighting systems, solar lanterns, etc. which could stimulate the rural economy by providing power for various economic activities, in addition to fulfilling the basic energy needs and improving the quality of life in rural homes. The rooftop solar systems could also provide access to reliable electricity in Primary Health Centres and Primary schools in the rural areas.
Transition to an Energy Future : The time for transition to an energy future that has a significant component of solar energy has come. The political support extended to this sector is unprecedented. Access to high quality and relevant training programmes is crucial, along with the support to the domestic solar manufacturing market. Leveraging the synergies between the different government programmes for achieving India’s ambitious renewable energy target could play an important role in furthering the economic development and livelihood security in India.

Sports of the Year Award

World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia wins Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award, whereas US tennis player Serena Williams wins the Sportswomen of the Year Award in Berlin, Germany.

First Indian women gymnastic to qualify for Olympics

Dipa Karmakar becomes the first Indian women gymnastic to qualify for Olympics and books a berth for Rio Games by scoring 52.698 points in the Olympic qualifying event.

CEO Releases Handbook on 2016 Election

Chief Electoral Officer, Rajesh Lakhoni, released a handbook in Tamil, which gives a glimpse of the history of the election process n the country including voter awareness programmes, the evolution of the model code, the history of the legislature in the State and the delimitation of constitutencies and the constitutency-wise result of 2011 Assembly elections.

Nagapattinam Fishing for Port of Good Hope

If the reign of the Chola dynasty was the watershed moment in Tamil Nadu history, the foundation of their monumental naval glory, which culminated in the subjugation of parts of South East Asia, was provided by Nagapattinam Port. From being a key port city in ancient India, the then gateway for flourishing trade has now been reduced to just a market where small fishermen auction their paltry catch. “Lying between two major ports – Chennai and Thoothukudi – Nagapattinam is an ideal spot to develop a third port. If develop a third port. If developed, the port here would promote industrial growth and generate employment. Passenger vessels can also be operated from here to Sri Lanka and South East Asia, which could provide a fillip to the tourism industry,” feels N. Chandrasekaran, an exporter from Nagapattinam.

Param Kanchenjunga

Supercomputer ‘Param Kanchenjunga’, jointly established by C-DAC Pune and NIT-Sikkim, is formally unveiled by Sikkim Governor Mr. Shrinivas Pail at NIT-Sikkim campus in South Sikkim.

Chinese Grand Prix Formula-1

German Formula 1 Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg wins 2016 Formula 1 Pirelli Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai International Circuit, defeating his compatriot Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

Singapore Open Badminton Tournament

Men’s singles : Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia wins men’s singles title of Singapore Open Badminton Tournament, defeating Son Wan Ho of Korea 21-16, 13-21, 21-14.
Women’s singles : Women’s singles title of Singapore Open Badminton Tourna-ment is won by Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, defeating Sun Yu of China 18-21, 21-11, 21-14.

2016 Monte Carlo Masters Title

Spain’s Rafael Nadal defeats Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 to grab the 2016 Monte Carlo Masters title, in 2 hours 46 minutes.

Iran unveils missile system at army parade

Iran unveils S-300 missile system parts at army parade in Tehran. It was a long-awaited air defence system ordered from Russia.

Anna Library will be fully functional by June-end : Govt.

By June 30 this year, all deficiencies pointed out by a two-member committee will be rectified and the Anna Centenary Library in Kotturpuram will become fully functional, the State government told the first bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh. The advocates submitted that efforts were indeed being made, but were at the stage of communications and paper works. The committee also noticed a steady increase in footfalls at the library. There were significant improvements in certain other aspects, but yet a lot remained to be done, they added. The Additional Advocate General told the bench that steps were being taken to remove whatever deficiencies still remained unattended. In any case, June 30 can be taken as the cut-off date for everything to be completed, he added.

25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey

Australia defeat India 4-0 in the final to win the 25th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey held in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Earthquake in Ecuador

More than 650 people are killed and thousands injured and left homeless after a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes coastal Ecuador.

G20 on financial transparency

G20 economies, including India sought a crackdown on tax havens, shell companies and terror-financing by increasing financial transparency and sharing of key information in a timely manner.

Unreserved Coach in Centre of Passenger , Local Trains to be reserved for women

Sources from Southern Railway said the railway board had recently directed all railway zones to provide this facility. “The Railways is studying the feasibility of earmarking a coach or a portion of a coach in the middle of the trains for women passengers, without shifting the existing ladies compartments. Suburban trains will be exempted from this,” said the sources. The ladies compartments in passenger and local trains are located next to the driver’s coach in the front of the train and near the guard’s compartment, in the rear of the train.

Rs. 2.5 cr. for Solution Providers

The Union Ministry’s idea is simple. It will fund upto Rs. 2.5 crore for research projects that will come out with innovative solutions to the problems urban areas face. The local bodies, like the city corporation, have to submit the ideas to get approval from the ministry for funding. The ministry feels it will spur innovative mindset in addressing the urban issues and collaboration with institutes of urban excellence such as ITTs and IIms. And also, 40 per cent of the total project ost, which should not exceeed Rs.5 crore, must be borne by industry.

Teachers Back UGC move on Autonomy

Academicians have welcomed the University Grants Commission (UGC) move to grant autonomy to colleges that get ‘A’ grade from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) for three consecutive terms. “This is a welcome step as 90 per cent of autonomous colleges are doing better than affiliated colleges,” says SP Thyagarajan, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Madras.

NDB, approves loan for renewable energy development project

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) New Development Bank (NDB) approves first package of loans worth some $811 million for renewable energy development projects in Brazil, China, South Africa and India.

Delhi Govt’s car-rationing scheme

Delhi Government implements the second phase of odd-even car-rationing scheme in the National Capital, aiming at curbing vehicular pollution and reducing traffic congestion on city roads.

TN Ranked High On Community Toilets

Tamil Nadu is far ahead of other states in having more community toilets according to the Swachhta Status Report 2016. Over 72% of villages in the state have community toilets while the national average is a meager 13%. The recently released report by the National Sample Survey Organization, places Tamil Nadu in the first position among 25 other states enumerated in the survey. The survey also found that as much as 66% of wards (Urban area) in Tamil Nadu had community / public toilets, which again is much higher than the All India average of 42%. Only five states are ranked above Tamil Nadu in this aspect. However, despite the achievement, the percentage of urban households contributing to open defecation in Tamil Nadu stood at 10.7%, considerably higher than the national average of 8.9%.

Zika virus in pregnant women

The US health officials conclude in a research that infection with Zika virus in pregnant women is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities in babies.

First Maritime India Summit

First Maritime India Summit is held at Mumbai, PM Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurates the Summit providing platform for participation, engagement and interaction of 5,000 delegates from 42 countries.

e-trading platform for NAM

Prmie Minister Mr. Modi launches the pilot of e-NAM, the e-trading platform for the National Agriculture Market, for the farmers, on the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

Scheme of Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan

Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launches ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan’ to strengthen the Panchayati Raj in villages and ensure social harmony in villages.

7 Years on TNSCB Admits No Rehab for evicted families

“TN Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) resettled 818 slum families residing prior to June 2006 on the alignment of the elevated corridor project in the tenements at Okkiam Thoraipakkam and Semmancheri. The remaining 266 families were not provided tenements.” According to the status report, the cut of date for enumeration of the affected families was earlier fixed as June 2006. It was modified to October 2009 at a high-level meeting convened by the Chief Secretary on Nov. 30, 2010. These 266 families were settled in the evicted areas after June 2006 and prior to November 2010.

Rs. 5L Relief Mooted for Kumbakonam Fire Mishap Victims

More than a decade after the horrendous Kumbakonam school fire tragedy, in which 94 children were charred to death, a one-man commission of inquiry has recommended a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the families of each victim. Following a Supreme Court ruling Justice Venkataraman observed that the compensation amount of Rs. 5 lakh each will be just and reasonable to each of the parents/legal heirs of the deceased students.

60 Fe samples from the moon

A study is published in Physics Review Letters journal that scientists at Technical University of Munich discovered traces of isotopes of 60 Fe (Iron) in samples from the moon similar to those on the Earth’s ocean floor.

Wisdon’s Leading Cricketer in the World for 2015

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson is named the Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World for 2015, whereas White Ferns (New Zealand women’s team) captain Suzie Bates is named the Leading Women’s Cricketer in the World.

World Bank invest in Education project for adolescent girls

World Bank Group President Mr. Jim Yong Kim announces that World Bank Group will invest $2.5 billion over five years in education projects benefiting adolescent girls.

Namami Gange Programme

Implementation agreement for Ganga rejuvenation under ‘Namami Gange Programme’ is signed in New Delhi Between Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and German International Cooperation of Germany.

Agreement signed between India & South Korea

India and South Korea sign an MoU in Mumbai for cooperation and mutual assistance in the development of ports and enhancing maritime relationships.

Country’s Mobile Payment System

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launches “Unified Payments Interface (UPI)” to revolutionise mobile payment system in the country. 29 banks have agreed to join the platform.

Gobal India of the Year Award 2016

Bollywood Actress Ms. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan receives Global Indian of the Year Award for 2016 at the third season of NRI of the Year Award function held in Mumbai.

Saraswati Samman Award 2015

Author and poet Ms. Padma Sachdev is selected for the prestigious Saraswati Samman for 2015 for her autobiography titled ‘Chitt-Chete’, written in Dogri language.

Padma Awards 2016

Hon’ble President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee presents Padma Awards at a Civil Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. He confers 5 Padma Vibhushan, 11 Padma Bhushan and 40 Padma Shri awards.

Hilton Asian Tour Golfer

Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia is honoured as the Hilton Asian Tour Golfer of the Month for March 2016 in Sentosa, Singapore.

First human space flight

International Day of Human Space Flight is observed across the world to commemorate the date of the first human space flight in the history of manking.

Nauru becomes 189th member country of the IMF

The Republic of Nauru, a tiny South Pacific island nation in Pacific Ocean becomes 189th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

14th Foreign ministers meet on global & regional issues

The 14th meeting of Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC) Forum is held in Moscow, Russia. The Ministers discuss trilateral cooperation on global and regional issues.

China test fires ballistic missile

China test-fires one of its newest intercontinental ballistic missile – Dongfeng-41, with a range of at least 12,000 km and capable of carrying six to ten warheads.

Rename Gurgaon as Gurugram

Haryana Government decides to rename Gurgaon as Gurugram and Mewat as Nuh. The decision is taken after representations received at several forums by the people of Gurgaon.

Agreement signed between India & U.S

India and the US agree “in principle” on a logistics support agreement (LEMOA), during US Defence Secretary Mr. Ashton Carter’s three-day visit to India from April 10 to 13, 2016.

Book on Writer Perumal Murugan

After remaining aloof for more than a year, Perumal Murugan, the author of “controversial” novel Madhorubhagan, is set to hog the limelight again, with a collection of essays penned by his students set to be released in the third week of April. It is a collection of 42 essays written by his loyal students apparently eulogisting their teacher’s service to the student community. May be an attempt to purge the Kongu Chronicler of the aspersions cast on him, following the fiery protests against Madhorubhagan inearly 2015.

Canada PM apologise to Sikh Community

Canada’s Prime Minister Mr. Justin Trudeau announces that he will formally apologise to Sikh community on May 18, 2016 in the House of Commons for 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy.

US-Secretary visit Hiroshima’s atomic bomb museum

US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry becomes the first US Secretary of State to visit Hiroshima’s atomic bomb museum commemorating victims of 1945 US nuclear attack.

G-7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting concludes in Hiroshima. Global security, refugee crisis and political instability are focal points of the meet.

Agreement signed between India & Maldives

India and Maldives sign six agreements in different sectors, including avoidance of double taxation, conservation and restoration of ancient mosques, tourism and defence during Maldives President Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s visit to India.

Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index 2016

Global organisation EY releases Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index 2016, revealing 40 countries on attractiveness of their renewable energy investment and deployment opportunities based on a number of indicators.

World Tiger Population

World Wildlife Fund and Global Tiger Forum announce that, after a century of constant decline, global wild tiger population have increased.

NASA’s Kepler space craft

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft goes into emergency mode (EM) some 75million miles from the Earth, during a scheduled contact for undertaking microlensing observing campaign.

K-4 missile test-fired

Nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLMB) code named K-4 is successfully test-fired from an undisclosed location in the Bay of Bengal, from INS Arihant.

US Masters Golf Championship 2016

Danny Willett of Britain wins US Masters Golf Championship 2016, Willett grabs the title after defeating defending champion Jordan Spieth of USA.

Malaysia Open Badminton 2016

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia wins men’s singles at the Malaysia Open Badminton 2016 held in Malaysia, by defeating China’s Chen Long 21-13, 21-8, Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) wins women’s singles, defeating Tai Tzu-ying (Taiwan) 21-14, 21-15.

WEST INDIES BECAME BEST INDIES

In a pulsating final, West Indies defeated England by four wickets and won the ICC World T20 title at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on April 3, 2016. Requiring 19 runs from the last over tow in, Carlos Brathwaite (34 not out) stunned not only England, but also spectators, smashing consecutive four sixes from first four balls of Ben Stoke’s over. It was West Indis’ second T20 World title, earlier winning it in 2012, and became the first team in the World to win the title twice. Besides, the Caribbeans had also won the ICC Under-19 World Cup title in February 2016. Chasing England’s Fighting score of 155 to win, Wet Indies were in dire straits as they lost the valuable wickets of Johnson Charles (1), Chris Gayle (4) and Lendl Simmons (0) only for eleven runs on the board. However, Marlon Samuels (85 not out) played the anchor role and partnering with Dwayne Bravo (25) steadied the innings Pur to bar first, England suffered initial joits and lost wickets at regular intervals. However, their dependable batsman Joe Root (54) and, to some extent, Jos Buttler’s 30 stabilised innings as England scored 155 for nine wickets. Marlon Samuels of West Indies was declared the Man of the Match. India’s Virat Kohli who scored maximum runs in the tournament (273) was adjudged the Player of the Tournament. Mitchell Santner of New Zealand (10) and his compatriot Ish Sodhi (10) were the top wicket takers in the tournament.
West Indies Women Too win Title : West Indies women’s team won their maiden ICC World T20 in the same ground and on the same day. In the final, West Indies convincingly outsmarted the invincible Australians by eight wickets. Thus, the Caribbean eves deprived the previous three-time champions of their fourth ICC Women’s World T20 title. Opting to bat first, Australia scored 148 runs for five propelled by Elyse Villani (52), Meg Lanning (52) and Elyse Perry (28). In reply West Indies achieved the victory target losing just two wickets. West Indies Hayley Matthews was adjudged the Player of the Match while her compatrior Stafanie Taylor won the Player of the Tournament award.

400-YEAR-OLD BAN ON WOMEN AT SHANI TEMPLE GOES

One of the major social evils that India has been trying to put an end to has been gender bias. There are several areas where this evil manifests itself from time to time. But on April 8, 2016, a breakthrough was witnessed when the renowned Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra lifted the 400-year-old ban on the entry of women at the sanctum after a fervent crusade by activists as well as court directions. As soon as the temple authroities announced the decision to allow the women to enter the core area of the shrine, female devotees entered the sacred area and offered worship. Significantly, the removal of the aforementioned ban coincided with the Gudi Padwa that marks New Year by the people of Maharashtra. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis, welcomed the historic decision and said, “Discrimination on the basis of caste and gender should be eliminated from the minds of the people in keeping with the modern times.” He expressed the view that discrimination was newer part of Indian culture or Sanatana Dharma but was introduced later.

ASIA CUP T20 2016 – India : Kings of Asia Again

India once again made the world consider them as the must formidable-force in the area of T20 cricket on March 6, 2016 when they lifted the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, Bangladesh. They defeated the hosts Bangladesh by eight wickets in the final which was affected by rain. The final was reduced to 15 overs each side. It was India’s7th straight T20 win and the 10th win in 11 matches. India have won the Asia Cup for the record sixth time.
India chased the victory target of 121 with clinical precision in 13.5 overs. Rohit Sharma was out early, edging an Al-Amin Hossain outswingers to the slip. But Shikhur Dhawan found his form on the big day. He took his time to get into the groove. But India had time on their side. A 94-run second wicket partnership between Dhawan and Kohli set up the chase. They started to up the ante from the 11th over when Dhawan hir Shakib for back-to-back fours before sweeping offspinner Nasir Hossain to the fine leg boundary in the next over. In between, Kohli, too, had taken a couple of fours off him. Dhawan got out after scoring 60 from 44 balls. Dhoni promoted himself to No. 4 Al-Amin came to bowl the penultimate over. Dhoni hit him for a six over-deep mid-wicket followed by a four to the cover boundary and another six cover wide long on to finish off the matter. Earlier, Bangladesh reached 120 for five, bolstered by some forceful hitting towards the end by Mohammad Mahmudulah (33 not out). Shikhar Dhawan was declared “Man of the Match”. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates (UAE) were the other countries which participated in the tournament.

MGNREGA – A Confident Decade-Long Journey

Considered as the most effective, and largest public works programme by the World Bank, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Popularly known as MGNREGA, completed its tenth year in Feb. 2016. It has been implemented since Feb. 2006 and made a considerable impact on the transformation of rural life, guaranteeing 100 days of employment to every unemployed citizen. The Government of India has always paid special attention to its effective implementation and as a result the programme has enabled the rural masses fight poverty in the confident manner. It has provided employment to 15 percent of the population of the country according to the World Bank. The achievements of a decade in providing employment and income to unemployed rural masses are indeed a matter of national pride and celebration. Since the start of MGNREGA, the expenditure on the programme has amounted to ` 3,13,844.55 crore and out of this, 71 percent has been spent on wags payments to workers. Some of the highlights are :
• During 2014-15 and 2015-16, nearly eight crore rural households have been given employment under MGNREGA. 42 lakh households have been benefitted with 100 days of employment in a year.
• Focus on skilling of MGNREGA workers, 18 lakh youth/households to be skilled in phases.
• 10,000 ‘Barefoot Technicians’ (from MGNREGA workers) are to be trained in the first phase.
• ` 47,936 crore earned as wages by rural workers employed under the programme since April 2014 till Feb. 2016.
• In 2015-16, with the highest-ever participation, 57 percent of the workers are women.
• To simplify, MGNREGA Annual Master Circular issued superseding 1,039 Circulars/Advisories issued earlier.
• Nearly 64 percent of total expenditure on assets in 2015-16 has been on activities related to agriculture and allied sectors.
• Person-days-generation in the 2nd and the 3rd quarters of 2015-16 is the highest in last five years.
• Highest Expenditure on MGNREGA in 2015-16 in the last five years.
• 94 percent of wages have grone directly into the accounts of MGNREGA workers in 2015-16.
• Credible Social audits to ensure transparency and accountability.

PRADHAN MANTRI FASAL BIMA YOJANA

Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launched the guidelines for operationalisation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) on February 18, 2016. The guidelines were issued at a farmers’ convention in Sherpur village of Madhya Pradesh. The PMFBY is a path-breaking scheme for crop insurance and was approved by the Union Cabinet on January 13, 2016. The Yojana will come into force from the 2016 Kharif season (from June to October in India). Under the scheme, the premium rates to be paid by the farmers have been brought down substantially so as to enable more farmers to avail themselves of cover against crop loss on account of natural calamities. It aims at boosting the agricultural sector of India and envisages a uniform premium to be paid by the farmers. Explaining the benefits of this comprehensive crop insurance scheme to the farmers, the Prime Minister said that it could provide a solution for the farmers’ problem, in times of difficulty.
He said that care had been taken to eliminate the shortcomings of previous crop insurance schemes, and create trust among farmers with regard to crop insurance. He said that technology would be used extensively with this scheme to ensure early settlement of claims, and exhorted farmers to take benefit of this scheme.
Under the scheme, the farmers will pay a uniform premium of only 2 percent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops. The rates are also applicable for oilseeds. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 percent. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, farmers will pay a premium of only 5 percent. The balance premium, after farmers paying the premium at a very low rate, will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities. There will not be any upper limit on the Government subsidy.
Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government. Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which reulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping limited the Government outgo on the premium subsidy. Now, this capping is removed and farmers will get full sum insured without any reduction against their claim. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will be implemented under a budget of ` 17,600 crore. This will not only save the farmers from getting their crops damaged in natural calamities, but will also provide financial support to them. The new Crop Insurance Scheme will also seek to address a long-standing demand of farmers and provide farm-level assessment for localised calamities including hailstorms, unseasonal rains, landslides and inundation. The usage of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smartphones will be used to capture and upload data of crop-cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop-cutting experiments.
Earlier, the insurance scheme which was functional was called the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), which was implemented in the year 1999. But there were some loopholes in that scheme. It was implemented only in 14 States of India. The insurance settlements were handled by the insurance company named Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd. (AIC). Under NAIS the insurance premium rates were 1.5% to 3.5% of the total sum assured for food crops like pulses, oilseeds, cereals, etc. But for commercial crops like cotton and horticultural crops, the actuarial premium rates were charged. The NAIS facilities were given according to the areas where the calamities are frequent and later it was converted into MNAIS, i.e. Modified NAIS. The MNAIS was also not a successful project as it was applied in six States of India. But these schemes were not successful because of several reasons like low-sum insured amount and slow claim process. According to reports of Home Ministry, in the past year 2015, there were 207 drought-hit districts throughout the country where the farmers suffered great economic losses on crop cultivation. Also, reports show that more than 300 districts were affected by irregular rainfall. This resulted in a large number of farmer suicides as there was no strong insurance plan to get thrugh the losses and start afresh. Over 3000 farmers have chosen the path of suicide in the last three years. Most suicide cases were registered with the State of Maharashtra. So to fight back this problem and to provide a good financial support to the farmers of the country, the Modi Government has launched the new crop insurance scheme by making some alterations in the existing scheme.

INDIA INVESTMENT SUMMIT

Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley on February 4, 2016 inaugurated the two-day India Investment Summit, aimed at attracting long-term foreign investors to the infrastructure sector. The Minister highlighted opportunities the country presents to investors and sought investment in sectors like roads, highways, oil & gas, urban infrastructure and railways. He also held discussions with several potential investors, including European investment banks and sovereign funds of countries like Singapore and the UAE. In his inaugural address, Mr. Jaitley said that India wanted better infrastructure, better private sector and banking sector among others in order to achieve the global standards. He said that India needed large investment in infrastructure sector, including roads, highways, fly-overs, railways, power renewable energy, oil & gas, ports and airports among others. He said that the Government wanted that both domestic and international resources were optimally used for development of the whole country.
The Minister said that one of the greatest challenges before India was to re-establish the credibility of Indian markets and in order to establish the credibility of-Indian economy, it was important that it not only reformed but continued reforms only in one direction. The Government, he said, had ensured that decision-making became faster, policy changes and improvements, including structural reforms, which were to take place, the pace of those reforms was consistent and direction was one way itself. He said that not only the Central Government, but State governments and local bodies were also working towards the ease of doing business and making process transparent. He said that in the 19 months of the Modi government, India had opened the gates for investment, pitching the country as an attractive destination to foreign investors. Showcasing investment opportunities that India offered, Mr. Jaitley said that with one-sixth of the world population and the largest middle class, there were huge opportunities.

Along with Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley, H.H. Sheikh Hamid Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Managing Director Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA); Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affiars (DEA); Ms. Anjuli Chib Duggal Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS); Chairperson, SBI, Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya and senior officials of Ministry of Finance and other participating Ministeries, State Governments and representatives of various Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds and institutional investors, both domestic and international, were also present on this occasion. The Indian delegation led by Union Finance Minister Mr. Jaitley held a bilateral meeting with the UAE Official Delegation led by H.H. Sheikh Hamid Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Managing Director, ADIA on the sidelines of India Investment Summit 2016. The Finance Minister also launched the Logo of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) on the occasion.

Central Arctic was completely ice-free

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Dada Saheb Phalke Film Foundation Award

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Malaysian Open Badminton

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Cambridge Duke & Duches visit to India & Bhutan

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Fire crackers in Puttingal temple in Kerala

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SpaceX achieves historic feat

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Miss India – Priyadarshini Chatterjee

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Mother Teresa conferred UK’s prestigious award

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9th IPL Opening Ceremony

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Fidel Castro appears in Public for first time in 9 months

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US Secretary of State visit Iraq

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BJP reshuffle on 2019 Lok Sabha elections

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Shingnapur temple allows women

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World’s smallest nano-scale diode

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FIFA rankings – India ranked 102

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A copy of First edition of ‘First Folio’

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Kosovo new president Hashim Thaci

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Indradhanush 3rd phase begins

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North East-ASEAN Business Summit

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WHO releases first Global Report on Diabetes

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Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award

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Asian Nations Cup Chess 2016

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Vietnam country’s 8th PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc

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Iceland new PM Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson

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Foundation stone of University of Horticultural Sciences at Kamal

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NASA astronomers discover super-massive Black Hole

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US Senate approves Defend Trade Secrets Bill

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China bans most imports of North Korean coal and iron ore

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Ms. Aung’s San Suu Kyi a role of State Adviser

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Bihar Govt. imposes total ban on alcohol

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India’s fastest train

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PM launches ‘Stand-up India’ Scheme

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World’s first public dengue vaccination programme

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Test, ODI and T20 Rankings

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World’s first public immunisation programme

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India Rankings 2016 under NIRF

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Saudi’s highest civilian award to Modi

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