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Current Affairs - 18 December 2014

Government receives 4,896 queries on ‘Make in India’ portal

  • The programme has received very positive response. A total of 4,896 queries have been received on the ‘Make in India’ web portal. 9.3 percent of queries relate to food processing, 6.7 percent to IT, 6.1 percent to renewable energy, 5.7 percent to electronic system and designs, 4.7 percent to automobiles and 4.4 percent to textiles and garment sectors,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
    Government launched ‘Make in India’ programme to project India as an investment destination and develop, promote and market India as a leading manufacturing destination and as a hub for design and information.
    The programme also aims to radically improve the Ease of Doing Business, open the FDI regime, improve the quality of infrastructure and make India a globally competitive manufacturing destination.
    Replying to a separate question, she said said that up to November this year, 1,630 entrepreneur memoranda have been filed by the investors and 37 direct industrial licenses have been issued.

Advanced Heavy Water Reactor likely to be functional by 2020

  • Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said the nuclear reactor is being developed indigenously. It is expected to be functional by 2020 or one or two years more thereafter, he said during Question Hour.
    The reactor is being developed by Bhaba Atomic Research Centre.
    Singh also said the reactor would help in ensuring optimal use of thorium. India has one of the largest sources of thorium resources which is a matter of pride, he said.
    “Till October, 2014, AMD has established 2,14,158 tonnes in-situ U3O8 (1,81,606 tonnes uranium) resources and 11.93 million tonnes of in-situ resources of monazite resources, which contains about 1.07 million tonnes of Thorium Oxide (ThO2),” he said.
    Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) is part of Department of Atomic Energy.
    According to the Minister, four districts in Chattisgarh have been identified for possible exploration of uranium.
    Besides, the country also has rich sources of monazite.
    In the current Five Year Plan period (2012-17), the target is to explore 5,000 sq km for radioactive minerals and out of that, about 750 sq km have already been completed.

ISRO’s GSLV-Mark III rocket’s test flight countdown begins

  • The GSLV Mark-III flight is being seen as the next crucial step in India’s space programme history after the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission.
    “The 24 and a half hour countdown for the mission has commenced at 9 AM on December 17,” ISRO said.
    The Mission Readiness Review and the Launch Authorisation Board, which met yesterday, has cleared the launch for December 18 at 9.30 AM, it said.
    A senior ISRO official explained that the lesser duration of the countdown for the mission was due to the dummy cryogenic stage.
    The 630 ton rocket will be powered by liquid and solid fuel engines while the cryogenic stage/engine will be a passive one.
    As per the plan, soon after the lift-off at Sriharikota, ISRO would study the flight validation of the complex atmospheric flight regime of LVM 3 and would also test the ability of the CREW module to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere with thermal resistance, parachute deployment in cluster formation, aero braking system and apex cover separation procedures.

India criticises UN Security Council for disregarding members’ opinions

  • Speaking at the Council Tuesday on UN-African Union (AU) partnership in peacekeeping operations, India’s Acting Permanent Representative Bhagwant S Bishnoi regretted that “it may be infructuous for us to express our views” if the Council acts “before opening the floor to non-members”. He was referring to a statement adopted by the Council on cooperation between the UN and AU even before the nations that were deeply invested in peace-keeping in Africa got a chance to speak in the open debate on the issue.
    “While we greatly appreciate the tradition of organising open debates,” Bishnoi said, “we cannot but question the utility if this practise of hurriedly adopting outcomes is continued”.
    He noted that India is the largest overall contributor to UN peacekeeping operations having sent more than 170,000 Indian troops to 43 of the 69 of the UN peace-keeping operations so far.
    “We have considerable experience in this field,” he said. “We, therefore, feel we are well placed to comment on the subject at hand.”
    As of November, India had 8,141 personnel under the UN’s blue flag, 7,077 of them troops, 62 military experts and 1,002 police and most of them serve in African operations. Security Council decisions on peace-keeping in Africa would impact the Indian contingents serving there.

Supreme Court Decision on Italian Marines Could Impact Ties: European Union

  • “The decision to deny the plea of Massimiliano Latorre for an extension of his stay in Italy for medical treatment and to refuse Salvatore Girone permission to spend the Christmas period at home is disappointing, as a long awaited mutually agreed solution has not yet proved possible,” said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, in a statement on Tuesday.
    “The situation of these two European military personnel has been pending for almost three years now. The EU has consistently called for a mutually agreeable solution, in the interest of both Italy and India, based on international law. The issue has the potential to impact the overall European Union-India relations and has also a bearing on the global fight against piracy, to which the EU is strongly committed,” she stated.
    The EU will continue to follow closely the issue, is in touch with the Italian government and reiterates its call for a swift solution, added the statement.

CBI examines Chidambaram in Aircel-Maxis case

  • CBI sources said Chidambaram was recently examined in connection with the case on the charge that the Finance Minister was competent for giving sanction only upto Rs 600 crore and the Aircel-Maxis deal was way above that limit.
    The sources said the matter should have been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) as foreign investments above Rs 600 crore can only be cleared by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by the Prime Minister.
    The agency had informed the Special CBI court that how this clearance was given is still under investigation. “We have not concluded the probe on this aspect yet,” CBI prosecutor K K Goel had told the court.
    When contacted, Chidambaram told PTI “they (CBI) took a brief statement from me on the FIPB approval. I repeated what I said in my press statement earlier. Nothing more than that”.
    Chidambaram had said in September that the file regarding the case was put up before him by officials and he approved it “in the normal course”.
    “In the Aircel-Maxis case, the FIPB sought the approval of the Finance Minister in accordance with the rules. The case was submitted through the Additional Secretary and Secretary, DEA. Both of them recommended the case for approval. Approval was granted by me, as Finance Minister, in the normal course”, Chidambaram had said in the statement.

Centre says no exams for third Indian language in KVs this year, SC accepts proposal

  • The apex court, in its ruling, also agreed to Centre’s proposal that students will take exam on Sanskrit or any third modern Indian language from the next academic session, the PTI reported.
    Based on the Centre’s recommendations, the apex court further ordered that KV students can take exams for German language as an optional subject in the present academic year.
    The SC further added that it would be the choice of students to learn German or any other language as optional subjects.
    The Centre wanted to replace German language with Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas but conceded before the Supreme Court that no exam would be conducted for the subject in the current session.
    The Centre’s decision not to conduct exam for Sanskrit, introduced in the mid of the ongoing session, came after the apex court, in the last hearing, expressed concerns that students would be burdened and suffer because of government’s decision.
    Meanwhile, the students, who had been studying German as third language, can continue to study the foreign language as an additional subject in the present session, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said appearing before a bench headed by Justice AR Dave.

“Unspeakable Brutality”: PM Modi on Pakistan School Attack

  • “It is a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings – young children in their school. My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain and offer our deepest condolences,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.
    Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar exposed the “real face of terrorism”.
    Witnesses described how gunmen went from classroom to classroom, shooting children, after a huge blast shook the Army Public School.
    The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack as retaliation for a major military offensive in the region, saying militants had been ordered to shoot older students.
    India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to rein in militant groups operating on its soil.

Coalgate: BJP backs court order on recording Manmohan’s statement, Congress reacts cautiously

  • “We had maintained back then also that the buck stops at the Prime Minister’s Office because he was the Coal Minister then and today that is what the law has reiteratred,” BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
    Terming it as “due process”, another BJP leader Nalin Kohli said, “The legal probe says something that applies equally to every citizen and there are no merits or demerits from that perspective. If the court does something within the legal process, that has to be followed”.
    The Congress said it would react only after “perusing” the court order.
    “If at all the court has said something we should wait for the formal court order to come out. Only after perusing the court order will it be appropriate to comment on it,” Congress leader Manish Tewari said.
    The CBI was directed by a special court to record statements of Singh, who was holding charge as Coal Minister in 2005, and others in a coal blocks allocation scam case allegedly involving top industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.

Indians use mobiles, PCs more for education, professional work

  • According to Juniper’s Global Bandwidth Index Report, 45 percent of respondents from India said connectivity has fundamentally changed how they access textbooks, complete coursework or use teaching tools compared with just seven percent in Japan.
    Among the nine nations surveyed, India ranks second behind South Africa in the use of connected devices for professional and personal usage.
    The report surveyed 5,500 adults in developed markets like Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US as well as emerging markets like Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
    The study, commissioned to Wakefield Research, said access to the Internet plays a crucial role in the professional environment of an individual in India.
    “…69 percent of the respondents indicated poor and/or lack of connectivity had an impact on their professional opportunities. The study also reveals that 55 percent of respondents have experienced a significant improvement in their earning power due to connectivity in India,” it said.

Indian Nobel Winners

  • Kailash Satyarthi
    Work:For struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of
    all children to education.
    V. Ramakrishnan
    Work:For studies of the structure and function of the ribosome
    Amartya Sen
    Work:for his contributions to welfare economics.
    Subramanyan Chandrasekhar
    Work:He developed a theory on white dwarf stars which posts a limit of mass of
    dwarf stars known also as Chandrashekhar Limit. His theory explains the final stages
    of stellar evolution.
    Mother Teresa
    Work:Concern for the poor and the sick prompted her to found a new congregation,
    Missionaries of Charity. Having become an Indian citizen, Mother Teresa served the
    cause of dying destitutes, lepers and drug addicts, through Nirmal Hriday
    (meaning Pure Heart), the main centre of her activity. Her selfless service
    and unique devotion, not only to helpless fellow-Indians but also to the
    cause of world peace, earned her and India the first Nobel Peace Prize.
    Har Govind Khorana
    Work:His major breakthrough in the field of Medicine —interpreting the genetic code
    and analysing its function in protein synthesis.
    C. V. Raman
    Work:Sir C.V. Raman received the Nobel Prize for an important optics research,
    in which he discovered that diffused light contained rays of other wavelengths—
    what is now popularly known as Raman Effect. His theory discovered in 1928
    explains the change in the frequency of light passing through a transparent medium.

    Rabindra Nath Tagore

    Work:He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his work Geetanjali, a collection of poems.

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