Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL. - 95 (24th September 2015 TO 30th September 2015)

Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam

VOL. - 95 (24th September 2015 TO 30th September 2015)

Issue : VOL. - 95 (24th September 2015 TO 30th September 2015)


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:: News from PIB & Various Sources ::

Census 2011 data on Households with or without Educational level of matriculation and above 

The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India today released the Census 2011 data on Households with at least one member aged 15 years and above with or without Educational level matriculation and above by Household Size. 

Out of about 248.3 million total households with at least one member of 15 years and above in the country during 2011, around 122.9 million households (49.5%) have at least one matriculate and above. One decade ago, the corresponding percentage of households with at least one matriculate and above was 39.4%. Similarly, the number of households with at least one graduate and above is 41.4 million (16.7%) in India during 2011 as against 23.6 million (12.2%) such households in 2001. 

During 2011, the number of households with at least one male matriculate and above is 104.7 million (42.2%) while 75.3 million (30.3%) households have at least one female matriculate and above in the country. The last Census of 2011 has also recorded about 33.2 million (13.4%) households with at least one male graduate and above and 21.9 million (8.8%) households with at least one female graduate. 

Indo Sri Lanka Joint Exercise MITRA SHAKTI 2015 to Commence from 29 Sep 

In continuation with the series of Joint Exercise between India and Sri Lanka to build Military to Military co-operation and interoperability, Exercise MITRA SHAKTI-2015 will be conducted shortly at Pune with the scheduled arrival of the Sri Lankan contingent at Aundh Camp on 29 September 2015. This will be the third joint training exercise between the two Armies. 

The aim of the joint training is to share the best military practices and promoting healthy military to military relations between the two Armies and developing joint strategies by sharing expertise of conducting operations. The idea is to tap the rich repository of experience of each other and extract maximum learning value from the joint training. Forming part of different levels of the military to military engagement across the entire spectrum of operations, this exercise will enrich the two contingents in further honing basic military skills. 

The exercise is planned for a duration of 14 days with the basic objective of enhancing confidence and trust between the two militaries, which are often called upon to engage in anti terrorism operations including those under the UN mandate. The conduct of Joint Military Exercise is also an important step to uphold the values of Peace, Prosperity and Stability in the region. Senior military observers of both the countries will be attending the Final Tactical Exercise scheduled to be held at Aundh Military Station on 10 and 11 Oct 2015. 

Exercise MITRA SHAKTI-2015 will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other’s military. 

Intervention by Environment Minister at the Second Meeting of the Business Dialogue for COP 21 

The following is the text of the Intervention made by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, at the Second Meeting of the Business Dialogue for COP-21 held at UNFCCC in New York yesterday: 

“The world must incentivize green growth activities as ‘Green Credit’ instead of Carbon Credit Mechanism, which provides a way out for the Emitter to get rid of the blame of pollution by paying for the emissions. India has put forward new ideas and proposed debate on lifestyle issues, climate justice and green credit mechanism. 

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was a success for the first commitment period ending in 2012. Demand-supply mismatch and low ambition for emission reduction expressed by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol is a major cause for the slowdown of the well-established CDM market thereafter. In addition, the unilateral decision taken by some countries to restrict the benefits of CDM to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) only, and not to other developing countries like India, has further reduced the confidence in the Market mechanism. At present, CDM is facing one of the most severe crises since its inception. Therefore, the world must discuss new ways to make it a success, with newer concepts like green credit. 

Carbon pricing is a major issue but we should not forget that it is a function of demand and supply. The world is now ready with respective Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), with the resolve of each country to work in the direction of green growth. Thus, the signal for the industry is positive and they should invest more and more for research and development. 

Research and development must also become part of the business plan, which carries a certain risk, but also generates tremendous profits for the companies. The real issue is how to make available the critical technologies for the developing world at an affordable cost. To this end, India is proposing that part of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) should be used for this purpose, which will be a win-win proposal for all the stakeholders”. 

Ministry of Tourism launches several new initiatives on World Tourism Day 

Medical and Wellness Tourism Board constituted, Tourism Vision Document 2030 released 

The Union Ministry of Tourism launched several new initiatives on the occasion of World Tourism Day today. 

The Union Minister of State for Tourism(Independent Charge) , Culture (Independent Charge), and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma announced the constitution of the Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board at a function in New Delhi today. The Board has been formed to tap the potential and advantages that India has in the field of medical and wellness tourism. The Centre of Excellence in Hospitality Education to operate from Hotel Samrat in New Delhi was also inaugurated at today’s function. Release of Tourism Vision Document 2030, launch of the revamped website of Ministry of Tourism http://tourism.gov.in/ which has now been made bilingual, release of Audio Visual Presentation ‘ Introduction to India’ and a seminar on the theme of World Tourism Day 2015 “ One Billion Tourist, One Billion Opportunities” were some of the other highlights of today’s function on the occasion of World Tourism Day. 

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that low cost medical facilities are India’s strength and we must take advantage of the same for the purpose of promoting tourism. It is for this reason that the Government took the important decision of setting up the Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board. The Board will have a corpus fund of Rs 2 crore initially, the Minister disclosed. Dr Mahesh Sharma said that the AYUSH facilities will be promoted along with regular medical facilities. 

Dr Mahesh Sharma also announced that Discover India fares of Air India. Under the scheme, a tourist can discover India in one or two weeks at a reasonable travel cost. A Tourist can buy 5 coupons for Rs 32,500 (15 days validity) or 10 coupons for Rs 60,000 (30 days validity) for exciting Indian destinations, serviced by Air India & Alliance Air without worrying about ticket price fluctuation. In another initiative, Air India will introduce Incredible Air India holiday packages from 1st December, 2015. Air India will also launch Delhi-San Francisco flight from 2nd December, 2015 onwards which will fly thrice a week, Dr Mahesh Sharma announced. 
Secretary, Tourism, Sh. Vinod Zutshi; CMD, ITDC Sh. Umang Kumar; CMD, Air India, Sh. Ashwani Lohani and other Senior Officials and members of the Travel Industry Stakeholders attended the function. 

The details of some of the new initiatives launched today are as below: 

Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board: The Board will provide leadership of the Government within a framework of prudent and effective measures, thereby enabling promotion and positioning of India as a competent and credible medical and wellness tourism destination. The Board will be chaired by the Union Tourism Minister and consists of members representing the related Government Departments, Tourism & Hospitality sector and experts in the Medical, Wellness and Yoga. 

Ashok Institute of Hospitality & Tourism Management – Centre of Excellence: The Ashok Institute of Hospitality & Tourism Management is part of the HRD division of India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.,(ITDC) a PSU under Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. As part of its contribution towards supplying trained manpower to the Hospitality Industry, ITDC has envisioned to set up a Centre of Excellence in Hospitality Education at Hotel Samrat, New Delhi. The courses offered by AIH&TM are a blend of the rich heritage and culture of India and hospitality management education system. It provides the students with a world class contemporary education to have an edge over others in the field. 

Tourism Vision Document 2030: The document goes into the challenges for the sector and details the way towards Vision 2030. ‘Tourism vision 2030’ has been commissioned by the Experience India Society and prepared by KPMG. 

Launch of Bi-Lingual Website of Ministry of Tourism: The official website of the Ministry http://tourism.gov.in/ has been revamped and translated in Hindi. This Administrative website of the Ministry of Tourism contains the activities and information of all the divisions of the Ministry including the web based E-Recognition System for recognition of Travel Trade Service Providers and Approval and Classification of Hotels. 

Audio Visual Presentation ‘ Introduction to India’ : The Indian Association of Tour Operators, the Apex Body of Tourism Industry and especially promoting inbound tourism to our country has produced a 6 minutes AV presentation depicting all tourism products of India and a element of human engagement with the various tourism products . This video presentation is to be used by IATO in all its promotional activities including Road Shows, international travel marts and other industry Interactions. 

A seminar on the theme of World Tourism Day 2015 “ One Billion Tourist,One Bilion Opportunities”was held, with Shri Vikram Oberoi, President Hotel Association of India, Shri Subhash Goyal, President Indian Association of India and Shri Atul Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer of National Skill Development Corporation as panellists. 

Among other important events, a street play was also enacted today at the Dilli Hatt, INA Market by the Students of Institute of Hotel Management, PUSA, New Delhi on the theme “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Swachh Bharat Swachh Paryatan”. Speaking on the occasion, the Tourism Minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma made an appeal to provide clean, safe and hospitable environment to the tourists. It is our moral responsibility to conduct ourselves properly with the tourists and especially foreign tourists, he added. The students performed the play at regular intervals throughout the day to sensitize the tourists and visitors to Dilli Haat about keeping India clean. 

:: National News ::

Centre forms panel to review IAS exam pattern

  • An expert committee has been formed by the government to examine various issues related to age relaxation, eligibility, syllabus and pattern of civil services examination to select IAS and IPS officers.

  • Based on the report of the committee, further changes in the civil services exam pattern will be contemplated with the primary objective of providing a level-playing field to aspirants from diverse streams of curriculum like mathematics, engineering, medicine or humanities, he said.

  • Till such time as the recommendations of the committee are received and the government subsequently takes a decision on the same, Singh said that the General Studies Paper-II (also known as CSAT) in the civil services preliminary examination will remain a qualifying paper with minimum qualifying marks fixed at 33 per cent.

  • Meanwhile, the government's decision taken last year to exclude the English portion consisting of 22 marks in the General Studies Paper-II of the civil services preliminary examination from tabulation also continues to remain in force, he told PTI here.

  • The panel has been formed as follow-up to the decision taken by the government in May this year to form such a committee, said Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, said.

  • The panel will be headed by former Chhattisgarh-cadre IAS officer BS Baswan and consist of leading academicians, technocrats and senior bureaucrats, officials said.

Government proposes panel to decide MPs’ pay and perks

  • Amid demands that MPs should not be allowed to decide their salaries, the government has proposed to set up a three-member panel to recommend pay and perks of lawmakers.

  • The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has proposed a three-member independent Emoluments Commission to recommend salaries and other allowances for the Members of the Parliament. The proposal is part of the agenda notes prepared for the two-day All India Whips’ Conference to be held at Visakhapatnam, next week.

  • The general principles suggested by the Ministry for determination of salary are: that it should not be so low as to deter suitable candidates or so high as to make pay the primary attraction for the job.

  • It says the salary should reflect the level of responsibility and those with outside interests should not be deterred from entering Parliament.

  • One of the principles suggested is that those who choose to make Parliament a full-time career should be adequately rewarded to reflect their responsibilities.

  • As per Article 106 of the Constitution, salaries of MPs are determined by an Act of 1954, amended from time to time.

  • The last revision in salary of MPs was made in 2010 during UPA II rule and the lawmakers at present get a basic salary of Rs 50,000 per month. Salaries of Members of State Legislatures are decided as per Article 195 of the Constitution.

Mukesh Ambani tops for 9th year, Flipkart's Bansals debut at 86th slot, Forbes India rich list

  • Industrialist Mukesh Ambani has been named India's richest for ninth year in a row with a net worth of $18.9 billion even as his wealth dipped by $4.7 billion in a year, while ecommerce giant Flipkart's founders made their debut on the country's top 100 rich list.

  • As per Forbes magazines latest India rich list released on Wednesday night, Ambani was followed by Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi as the second richest with a net worth of $18 billion, while Wipro's Azim Premji retained his third place with $15.9 billion.

  • Flipkart's co-founders Sachin and Binni Bansals made their debut at 86th position with a net worth of $1.3 billion each. The combined wealth of India's 100 richest persons remained largely unchanged at $345 billion, compared with $346 billion in 2014, Forbes said.

  • The magazine said the Indian economy was estimated to grow 7 percent this year, but the wealth of many of India's 100 richest has declined due to the fall in the stock markets and depreciation of the rupee over the past one year.

  • As many as 10 of them saw their net worth dip by over $1 billion each in one year, including Lakshmi Mittal, whose net worth dipped to $4.6 billion (ranked 8th with $11.2 billion). His rank also slipped three places.Agencies

  • At the same time, many of the billionaires also saw their net worth rise further. The list saw as many as 12 newcomers including Flipkart's founders and low-cost airline IndiGo's co-founder Rakesh Gangwal who has debuted at 70th position with a net worth of $1.6 billion ahead of his companys IPO.

  • Gangwal's partner Rahul Bhatia has moved up 12 positions to 38th with a net worth of $2.4 billion.

  • The biggest gainer was vaccine maker Serums Cyrus Poonawalla whose wealth rose from $6.2 billion to $7.9 million, pushing his rank to the 9th position. Forbes said the minimum threshold for making it to the list has increased from $1 billion to $1.1 billion in 2015.

  • In the top ten, Hinduja brothers were ranked 4th with $15.9 billion, followed by Pallonji Mistry at $14.7 billion, Shiv Nadar ($12. 9 billion), Godrej family ($11.4 billion), Lakshmi Mittal ($11.2 billion), Cyrus Poonawala ($7.9 billion) and Kumar Mangalam Birla ($7.8 billion).

:: International News ::

Key Croatia-Serbia border crossing reopens after spat over migrants

  • Traffic began flowing through the major Serbia-Croatia border crossing at Bajakovo on Wednesday after a two-days blockade imposed to stem the flow of migrants across the two ex-Yugoslav republics' frontier, Croatian state radio reported.

  • Croatia imposed the blockade for cargo on Monday in retaliation for Serbia directing a flow of migrants across the border. On Tuesday Zagreb agreed to allow in trucks with perishable goods but their drivers refused to budge until all traffic resumed.

EU leaders pledge €1bn to aid Syrian refugees

  • EU leaders pledged at least 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and closer cooperation to stem migrant flows into Europe at a summit described as less tense than feared after weeks of feuding.

  • He heard "very substantial and energetic" exchanges between the Austrian and Hungarian leaders, whose common border was among those disrupted by chaotic crowds of migrants this summer, but not the mutual recrimination that has threatened to tear apart the bloc's cherished passport-free Schengen zone.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, criticised by some eastern neighbours for what they saw as actions that have fuelled the influx of people trying to reach Germany, voiced satisfaction:

:: Business and Economy ::

RBI draft proposes allowing cos to tap SWFs, pension funds for external debt

  • In order to encourage overseas funding, the RBI on Wednesday proposed to allow domestic companies to borrow money from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and insurance funds as part of the ECBs.

  • The draft framework on External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs), however, proposed to lower the all-in cost borrowing by 0.50 percent to ensure that the funds are borrowed from abroad at a reasonable interest rate.

  • The modification in the ECB guidelines on which the RBI has invited comments till October 1 are aimed at replacing the ECB policy with a more rational and liberal framework, keeping in view the evolving domestic as well as global macroeconomic and financial conditions, challenges faced in external sector management and the experience gained so far, the draft guidelines added.

  • The basic thrust of the revised framework, the RBI said, is to retain more qualitative parameters for the normal (foreign currency-denominated) ECB and to provide more liberal dispensation for long-term borrowings in foreign currency.

  • According to the draft guidelines, there will only be a small negative list which include stock market operations, real estate activity and purchase of land. They will not be allowed to raise resources through ECBs and rupee-denominated borrowing.

  • The framework for the rupee-denominated bonds will be announced separately, it said, adding the real estate investment trust and Infrastructure Investment Trust will be permitted to raise funds through these instruments.

  • The currency risk with regard to the rupee denominated ECB lies with the lender or investor and hence the modified framework provides for minimal control for these borrowings.

  • The RBI proposed to expand the list of recognised ECB lenders by including overseas regulated financial entities, pension funds, insurance funds, sovereign wealth funds and similar other long-term investors.

India set to amend Income-Tax Act 1961, w.e.f. April 1, 2001

  • After due consideration of various aspects of the matter, the government has decided that with effect from April 1, 2001, the provisions of Section 115JB of the Income Tax Act, 1961, shall not be applicable to a foreign company if –

  • The foreign company is a resident of a country having DTAA with India and such foreign company does not have a permanent establishment within the definition of the term in the relevant DTAA

  • The foreign company is a resident of a country which does not have a DTAA with India and such foreign company is not required to seek registration under Section 592 of the Companies Act 1956 or Section 380 of the Companies Act 2013.

  • An appropriate amendment to the Income-tax Act in this regard will be carried out.

  • Earlier, the issues relating to taxation of foreign companies, having no permanent establishment in India, have been under consideration of the Government. In this regard, the Centre has already clarified the inapplicability of MAT provisions to FIIs/FPIs.

Chinese Taipei has dragged India to WTO

  • Chinese Taipei has dragged India to WTOagainst imposition of anti-dumping duty on imports of USB flash drives or pen drives as known in common parlance.
  • On May 22, India had imposed anti-dumping duty on the imports of 'USB Flash Drives' from China and Chinese Taipei ($3.06, $3.12 a piece). The duty is for five years.
  • The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation.
  • After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.
  • USB Flash Drives in the market parlance are also known by various other names such as pendrive, keychain drives, key drives, USB sticks, flash sticks, jump sticks, USB keys or memory keys.
  • The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in the Finance Ministry had imposed the anti-dumping duty on recommendations of Directorate General of Anti-Dumping & Allied Duties (DGAD).

:: Sports ::

Ganguly looks set to replace Dalmiya as CAB boss

  • The race to succeed Jagmohan Dalmiya at the helm of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) gathered momentum on Wednesday with Sourav Ganguly and Dalmiya's son Avishek calling on chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna.

  • Sourav and Avishek insisted that it was a courtesy call to discuss the arrangements for the former BCCI chief's 'shraddh' ceremony to be held on October 2.

  • "To discuss something like this three days after his (Dalmiya's) death is not right. Speculation will be on, someone will run CAB.

  • It's too early to say anything," Ganguly said after emerging from the meeting that was also attended by three senior state ministers.

  • There was no official line on the succession issue at CAB, but according to a well-placed source, the chief minister is well aware of the factionalism in the CAB, and wants the members to sort out their differences and elect a candidate who is acceptable to all factions.

Swiss target world soccer chief Blatter in criminal probe

  • Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Sepp Blatter, the head of world soccer body FIFA, on suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds, the Swiss attorney general's office said on Friday.
  • It said Blatter was interrogated after a meeting of FIFA's executive committee in Zurich, and authorities carried out a search at the organisation's headquarters on Friday.
  • It was the first time that authorities investigating corruption in the world's most popular sport had pointed the finger directly at Blatter, the 79-year-old Swiss who has run its powerful governing body for the past 17 years.
  • He has denied wrongdoing and his U.S. attorney said he was cooperating with the Swiss probe.
  • A source close to FIFA said that as Blatter has not been arrested, charged or indicted, it would probably be for him to decide whether he stays in his post until February, when he is due to step down.

Pankaj Advani wins World Billiards Championship

  • Pankaj Advani outplayed Peter Gilchrist of Singapore to win the World Billiards Championship on Sunday.
  • This was Advani’s 14th world title.
  • Advani left the spectators spellbound with his prolific display as he downed his opponent by 1168 points after the match ended after the maximum allotted time of 300 minutes.
  • Sunday’s victory also came as sweet revenge for Advani as he had lost the final of the point format championship to Gilchrist last week.

:: Science & Tech ::

90 percent of the viruses in the soft palate had the reverted form of the virus.

  • Flu viruses come in many strains, and some are better equipped than others to spread from person to person.

  • Scientists from MIT and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have now discovered that the soft palate -- the soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth -- plays a key role in viruses' ability to travel through the air from one person to another.

  • The findings should help scientists better understand how the flu virus evolves airborne transmissibility and assist them in monitoring the emergence of strains with potential to cause global outbreaks.

  • Researchers made the surprising finding while examining the H1N1 flu strain, which caused a 2009 pandemic that killed more than 250,000 people.

  • Ram Sasi sekharan, one of the study's senior authors, has previously shown that airborne transmissibility depends on whether a virus' hem agglutinin (HA) protein can bind to a specific type of receptor on the surface of human respiratory cells.

  • Some flu viruses bind better to alpha 2-6 glycan receptors, which are found primarily in humans and other mammals, while other viruses are better adapted to alpha 2-3 glycan receptors, found predominantly in birds.

  • The 2009 strain was very good at binding to human alpha 2-6 receptors. In the new study, the researchers made four mutations in the HA molecule of this virus, which made it better suited to bind alpha 2-3 receptors instead of alpha 2-6.

  • They then used it to infect ferrets, which are often used to model human influenza infection.

  • The researchers believed the mutated virus would not spread, but to their surprise, it traveled through the air just as well as the original version of the virus. After sequencing the virus' genetic material, they found that it had

3rd World Tea & Coffee Expo to in Mumbai from October 1

  • Enhancing business opportunities in the Tea & Coffee sectors, the World Tea & Coffee Expo is to be held at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai India from October 1- 3, 2015.
  • This three-day trade fair will provide the perfect environment for the hot beverage industry to meet face-to-face and develop real business opportunities.
  • The Current edition has 50 plus exhibitors from six countries including pavilions from Tea Board of India and Sri Lanka Tea Board as also participation from Coffee Board of India.
  • On display are new-age tea and coffee products and brands, vending solutions, premixes, machineries, retail chains, technologies, accessories, ingredients, certifications etc

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