National Current Affairs Summary: Dec 2016 – March 2017

NATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

  • The Union Cabinet has approved Central Assistance of 2000 crore rupees for 36,384 displaced families from Pakistan occupied areas of Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb. It was approved following an announcement of Prime Minister’s Development Package for Jammu & Kashmir 2015 announced in November, 2015.
  • The Supreme Court has ordered cinema halls to mandatorily play the national anthem before every screening and all those present in cinema halls have to “stand up to show respect.”

Important things to Remember:

Article 51 (A) of the Constitution provides that it was the duty of every person to show respect when the anthem is played.

Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 – prohibits desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the National Flag, The Constitution, Indian map and the National Anthem.

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas to improve rural road connectivity in worst LWE affected districts critical from security and communication point of view. The project will be implemented under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to provide all weather road connectivity in 44 worst affected LWE districts and adjoining districts.
  2. The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the proposal of Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for ratification of International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement by India. The Agreement was opened for signature on the sidelines of 22nd Conference of Parties (CoP) meeting United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Marrakesh, Morocco.
  3. As many as 6,117 Kuchipudi dancers set a new Guinness World Record by performing together in a single event in Vijayawada district of Andhra Pradesh. The Guinness World Record adjudicated for the 12-minute “Jayamu Jayamu” item as the ‘Largest Kuchipudi dance’ performance.
  4. The Union Government has launched ‘Smart Consumer’ mobile App and an ‘Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)’ to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances. Apart from this, a helpline 14404 was also launched for consumer related grievances on the occasion of National Consumer Day (24th December).
  5. Google India has partnered with the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs to launch nationwide Digitally Safe Consumer campaign to raise awareness among consumers about online safety and better protect consumer interest online.
  6. ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank has launched EazyPay mobile application for merchants that allows all-in-one acceptance payments platform. This app consolidates all digital wallets, QR code, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and credit & debit cards modes of payments. With this, ICICI Bank became first bank in the country to roll out all-in-one payments platform.
  7. Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Cadre review and formation of a new service in the name of Indian Enterprise Development Services (IEDS). The IEDS will be created in the Office of Development Commissioner (MSME), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). Its creation will help to strengthen the organization and to achieve the vision of Startup India, Stand-up India and Make in India.
  8. According to report published in Forbes magazine, India has surpassed its colonial masters United Kingdom to become world’s sixth-largest economy in GDP terms for first time after nearly 150 years. Following the change in the rankings, India’s economy now stands behind the United States, China, Japan, Germany and France.
  9. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stone of the country’s first Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh to make India the Skill Capital of the World.
  10. The Madras High Court has banned all unauthorised Sharia courts in mosques across Tamil Nadu, saying centres of worship were only to be used for religious purposes.
  11. The Union Government has decided to set up a single permanent Tribunal to adjudicate all inter-State river water disputes. This single body will subsume all existing tribunals for resolving grievances of inter-State water disputes in a speedy manner. It will be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.
  12. Union Power Ministry is going to launch new mobile application GARV-II to provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country. The purpose of the mobile application is to ensure transparency in implementation of rural electrification programme.
  13. Department of Telecom (DoT) will soon launch ‘Tarang Sanchar’ portal that will let users check radiation compliance status of mobile towers and transmitters across country.
  14. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and aluminium producer National Aluminium Co. Ltd (NALCO) have signed MoU to establish a 2.4 giga watt (GW) Coal based power project at Gajmara, Odisha.
  15. Assam government has launched ‘Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli’ (SACReD, Majuli) to make river island Majuli country’s first ever Carbon Neutral district by 2020.
  16. Supreme Court ordered that Indian Airforce (IAF) personnel cannot keep beard. It held that Central Government’s decision to ban beards in the IAF does not infringe upon fundamental rights.
  17. Supreme Court has ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways to reduce drink driving and road accidents that claim thousands of lives every year across the country. The three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur gave its order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO called ‘Arrive Safe’.
  18. Union Cabinet has approved MoU between Ministry of Rural Development and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to improve effectiveness of rural development programmes in country.
  19. Software giant Microsoft India has launched its first full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Centre (CSEC) in New Delhi.
  20. Punjab Government has launched country’s first amphibious bus project at the Harike wetland near Amritsar. The amphibious bus named as “Harike Cruise” travels on land and as well as in water.
  21. Madhya Pradesh Government has launched five months long Narmada Seva Yatra to turn the Narmada river pollution free.
  22. President Pranab Mukherjee launched a ‘100 Million for 100 Million’ Campaign at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The campaign was conceptualized by Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and was organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation. The campaign aims to mobilise 100 million youth and children for 100 million underprivileged children across the world.
  23. The Union Government has waived the import duty on wheat to zero from 10 per cent for an indefinite period. This move aims to improve domestic availability in the wake of rising prices and concerns about the wheat crop in 2016-17.
  24. Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched a TV channel named ‘DigiShala’ to promote cashless transactions. The channel was launched as part of the ‘Digidhan’ campaign which aims to spread awareness about digital transactions.
  1. The Allahabad High Court has ruled that the practice of triple talaq (Talaq-e-bidat) among Muslims is unconstitutional and violates the rights of women enshrined in constitution. The order was passed by HC Justice Suneet Kumar while hearing a petition filed by a woman who claimed her husband arbitrarily divorced her
  2. Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
  3. Union Government is going to observe birth anniversary of the father of Indian Constitution B R Ambedkar (April 14) as “Water Day” in the country.
  4. E-commerce giant Amazon has launched its global startup program ‘Launchpad’ in India. The program will enable Indian startups to sell their products overseas.
  5. Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram launched ‘Stanpan Suraksha’ mobile application to promote breastfeeding and keep a tab on “inappropriate” promotion of baby food items. The mobile application has been developed by the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)
  6. Hailakandi district of Assam has become the first district to pay wages to tea garden workers through individual bank accounts.
  7. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is going to issue new currency notes of Twenty and Fifty rupees denomination in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005.
  8. Google launched two new initiatives My Business and Digital Unlocked to train and help small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India capitalise on the digitisation wave faster.
  9. India’s first integrated heliport was inaugurated at Rohini in North Delhi. This heliport has been developed by Pawan Hans Limited.
  10. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched SAATHIYA Resource Kit and SAATHIYA SALAH mobile app for adolescents as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme. The kit and app will help Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who are introduced under the RKSK programme. The Saathiyas act as catalyst for generating demand for adolescent health services and also impart age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups.
  11. Ministry of Mines has launched Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation (TAMRA) Portal and Mobile Application to ensure transparent award of statutory Clearances for mining operations The TAMRA platform was simultaneously launched across 12 mineral rich states as a part of the Ease of Doing Business in the Mining sector and to double mining contribution to GDP.
  12. Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh with Satellite Hubs in West Bengal and Rajasthan.
  13. The Income Tax Department (ITD) launched Operation Clean Money (Swachh Dhan Abhiyan), an e-platform to analyse large cash deposits made during the demonetisation window (9 November to 30 December 2016). Under it, e-verification of large cash has been done using data analytics for comparing the demonetisation data with information in ITD databases.
  14. The Hornbill Festival began in the Naga Heritage village of Kisama. The festival coincides with the Statehood Day of Nagaland which is observed on December 1.
  15. Union Government has decided to observe birth anniversary of the father of Indian Constitution B R Ambedkar (April 14) as “Water Day” in the country.
  16. As many as 6,117 Kuchipudi dancers set a new Guinness World Record by performing together in a single event in Vijayawada district of Andhra Pradesh.
  17. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found an ancient camping site used by pre-historic man, at an altitude of about 4,200 metres near Saser La in Nubra Valley, Ladakh. The carbon dating of these charcoal pieces reveals that, the site dates back to circa 8500 BCE.
  18. The Supreme Court has ruled that horse racing per se is not animal cruelty. It held that it is different from Jallikattu, which metes out specific methods of torture to bulls.
  19. The Supreme Court in its latest verdict has held that election candidates cannot seek votes on the grounds of the religion, caste, creed, community or language of voters. The ruling was given by a 4-3 majority of the seven-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur. It held that if the candidate is found violating the order will result into call for his disqualification.
  20. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s first international exchange India INX at the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) of GIFT (Gujarat International Financial Tech) City Gandhinagar, Gujarat. India INX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). It will enable Indian firms to compete on equal footing with offshore firms.
  21. Union Cabinet has approved the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017, under which the IIMs will be declared as Institutions of National Importance. It will also enable IIMs to grant degrees rather than diplomas to their students. At present IIMs are not authorised to award degrees as they registered as societies. Hence, they are awarding Post Graduate Diploma and Fellow Programme in Management.
  22. The 14th edition of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) began in the country’s IT hub Bengaluru, Karnataka. The theme of this edition is “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora”.
    It is held annually on 9 January to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India i.e. on 9 January, 1915.
  23. IndiaPost under Department of Posts (Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology) received final payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). With this, India Post became the third entity after Bharti Airtel and Paytm to receive final payments bank licence to roll-out of banking operations commercially under the permit.
  24. Union Government has launched nationwide “Sparsh Leprosy Awareness Campaign (SLAC)” on the occasion of Anti-Leprosy Day (observed on the last Sunday of January). The day is observed every year on January 30 in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi who attained martyrdom on this day in 1948, to remember his selfless efforts and care for the people affected with Leprosy.
  25. The Supreme Court has described side effects of Endosulfan, a highly toxic agrochemical (pesticide) as devastating. It has directed Kerala government to release entire Rs. 500 crore compensation to over 5,000 victims in three months who have suffered from various deformities and health complications due to use of Endosulfan in the state. It also asked the state to consider setting up a centre to provide lifelong medical treatment to all the victims.
  26. The major numbers of victims were reported to be affected in Kasargode (Kerala) after Endosulfan was aerially sprayed by state owned company on cashew plantations adjoining habitats where the victims are located. The apex court in 2011 had passed order to ban the production, distribution and use of endosulfan.
  27. Inequality in India:

According to study conducted by rights group Oxfam, India’s richest 1% now hold a huge 58% of the country’s total wealth, indicating rise income inequality. It is higher than the global figure of about 50%. It shows that 57 billionaires in India now have same wealth ($216 billion) as that of the bottom 70% population of the country. Globally, just 8 billionaires have the wealth as the poorest 50 % of the world population.

  1. Union Government launched a dedicated web portal ShaGun (http://ssashagun.nic.in) for monitoring the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The portal was developed by World Bank in collaboration with Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. Its name has been derived from the words Shala (means schools) and Gun (i.e. Gunvatta meaning Quality).
  2. According to recently released Jones Lang LaSalle’s City Momentum Index (CMI), Bengaluru (capital of Karnatak) has emerged as the most dynamic city in the world. The index tracks the speed of change of a city’s economy and commercial real estate market. It covers 134 major established and emerging business hubs and ranks them on parameters like technology, connectivity, population, education and real estate investments.
  3. The World Economic Forum (WEF), NITI Aayog, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Cornell University will work to develop an India Innovation Index to provide impetus to states to drive innovative spirit. Based on the WIPO’s GII (Global Innovation Index), the India Innovation Index will be tailored to better reflect of India’s ground reality and include metrics well suited to the Indian context for innovation.
  4. A group of Hindi professors have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting not to add dialects of Hindi, like Bhojpuri and Rajasthani, in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution as full-fledged Indian languages. This development comes months after Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had announced that Rajasthani will be added to 8th Schedule. In December 2016, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also had raised a similar demanded for Bhojpuri.
  5. Union Health Ministry will soon launch population based prevention, screening and control programme for five common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on the occasion of World Cancer Day (4th February). They are Hypertension, Diabetes, and Cancers of oral cavity, breast and cervix. This programme will be launched as part of the National Health Mission.
  6. According to Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016, students of Himachal Pradesh stand ahead of Kerala and all other states in terms of learning outcomes.  The 2016 ASER was the largest annual household survey of the children in India in the field of education. It focused on status of schooling and basic learning.
  7. India has been ranked 79th out of 176 countries in the recently released Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for the year 2016 by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).
  8. Union Finance Ministry has announced that the General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) will be effective from the 1 April, 2017. In this regard Income Tax (IT) department has issued a slew of clarifications on implementation of GAAR, seeking to address concerns of foreign investors over implementation of the anti-evasion measure.
  9. Union Government has shifted the responsibility of promoting digital transactions in the country to the Union Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) from NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog. In this regard, Government already has changed the business transaction rules to enable MEITY to promote digital transactions, including digital payments.
  10. Union Government has signed a Financing Agreement with World Bank for IDA credit of $63 million for the Tejaswini Socio-Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Project. It is World Bank’s first project in India solely focused on the welfare of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged between 14 and 24 to complete their secondary level education and provide relevant skills for job market. About Tejaswini Project:
    1. It seeks to empower adolescent girls with basic life skills to acquire market driven skill training or completion of secondary education, depending on the inclination of the beneficiary.
  11. Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala has topped in city governance ranking of the Annual Survey of India’s City Systems (ASICS) 2016 conducted by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy.
  12. According to Mercer’s Quality of Living index rankings 2017, for the third consecutive time, Hyderabad (Telangana) has emerged as the best Indian city in terms of quality of living. Globally, Vienna (Austria) for the fourth time in a row has emerged as world’s best city for overall quality of living for the eighth year running.
  13. West Bengal Government has given official language status to endangered tribal language Kurukh, mother tongue belonging to the Dravidian family.
  14. According to recent report tabled in the Lok Sabha, West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. State’s 83 blocks in eight districts have ground water affected by arsenic contamination.
  15. India’s longest surface tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district is complete. It will be open to traffic soon, following successful completion of trial runs for peak and off-peak hours.

The 9-km-long tunnel at Chenani passes through the lower Himalayan mountain range on Jammu- Srinagar National Highway.

  1. Union Finance Ministry has given permission to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to conduct field trials of plastic (polymer-based) currency notes of Rs 10 denominations.
  2. According to recent survey released by Transparency International (TI), India had highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed between July 2015 and January 2017.
  3. Union Government has launched Bharat QR code, a quick response (QR) code to enable digital payments without card swiping machines. It is world’s first interoperable payment acceptance solution launched by Indian Government to move towards less-cash economy. Key facts:
    1. Bharat QR code has been developed by jointly by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Visa, MasterCard and American Express under instructions from Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  4. Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched Cyber Swachhta Kendra in New Delhi for Botnet cleaning and Malware analysis. Some cyber security tools are:
    1. USB Pratirodh: It is a desktop security solution to protect from USB mass storage device threats.
    2. AppSamvid: It is a desktop solution to protect systems by allowing installation of genuine applications through white listing. It helps in preventing threats from malicious applications.
    3. M-Kavach: It is an indigenously developed mobile application to address the security threats in mobiles.
  5. Arunachal Pradesh became the first state in the northeast to implement e-Cabinet solution for the state cabinet members.
  6. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly launched India Innovation Index. Besides country’s first innovation index portal was also launched.

The index has been jointly developed by NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII in consultation with World Economic Forum (WEF), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University, UNIDO, ILO, OECD, UNESCO, ITU etc.

  1. Haryana became the first state in the country to launch Mahila Police Volunteer (MPV) initiative for safety of women.