Current Affairs Current Affairs - 15 January 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 15 January 2015

Harishankar Brahma (H.S. Brahma) as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India on 14 January 2015.
  • H.S. Brahma will be 19thCEC and will take over from V.S. Sampath who retires on 15 January 2015 after almost two and half years as CEC. Brahma was one of the two Election Commissioners (ECs) in the Election Commission of India (ECI) till now. 60-year old Brahma, who hails from Assam, is a 1975 IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre. After J M Lyndogh, Brahma will become the second officer from the northeast to be appointed to this post. The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners are appointed by the President for a tenure of six years or up to the age of 65. The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.

Avinash Chander the Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), who was sacked from his post on 13 January 2015 by the Union Govt.
  • Avinash Chander was Secretary-cum-Director General, DRDO and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. He had retired on 30 November 2014 on attaining 64 years and was given a contract for 18 months till 31 May next year (2016). Thus his removal after being given a contract raised many doubts about government’s decision. Opposition parties criticized this decision. It is worth mentioning that Avinash Chander was one of the chief architects of the Agni series of the ballistic missile systems.

Cipla Limited Indian drug company engaged in production of generic drugs was recently barred by the Delhi High Court from making or selling a cheaper copy of Novartis AG’s respiratory drug Onbrez domestically.
  • Cipla Limited, India’s fourth-largest generic drugmaker by revenue, had launched its copy of Onbrez in New Delhi during October 2014 at a fifth of the original drug’s price, citing urgent unmet need in India. But in December 2014 Novartis challenged the Cipla move in the Delhi High Court. Onbrez, chemically called indacaterol, is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults, and patents covering the drug expire only in 2020. The Delhi court, in its order passed on 9 January 2015 observed Cipla did not provide any figures about the inadequacy or shortfall in the supply of the drug, while Novartis claimed it had enough stocks to meet demand and could supply more if needed.

Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was sentenced to one year imprisonment along with 19 others by a Rampur court on 14 January 2015.
  • Naqvi along with 19 other people were booked in Patwai police station in Rampur for allegedly breaching prohibitory orders and barging in a police station in Patwai area while campaigning during 2009 Lok Sabha polls. They were charged for unlawful assembly and not adhering to the Model Code of Conduct under sections of the IPC and Criminal Law Amendment Act. He, however, got bail from a higher court and was released.

Tizen the Samsung Electronics Co.’s own smartphone operating system, first smartphone based on which was launched by the company in India on 14 January 2015.
  • Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd launched the first smartphone (Z1) powered by its Tizen operating system in India on 14 January. The development of this operating system is being seen a major development in Samsung’s aim to build a software ecosystem to rival Google’s Android. The launch is a key step in the company’s strategy to break free from the Android platform, which powers Samsung’s flagship Galaxy devices and most other smartphones on the market. The Z1 smartphone based on this new operating system has been made available in India only, targeting first-time smartphone buyers.

Giorgio Napolitano the Italian President who handed in his resignation as head of state on 14 January 2015.
  • 89-year old Giorgio Napolitano resigned before the end of his second term in office because of his advanced age. He was widely respected outside Italy as a guarantor of stability during the euro zone crisis. His resignation left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with the politically delicate task of finding a successor. Italy is struggling to emerge from years of recession and the government faces a series of hurdles to its economic and constitutional reform agenda.

Pope Francis gave Sri Lanka its first saint on 14 January 2015 at a huge Mass held in capital Colombo.
  • Joseph Vaz was born in 1651 in India’s Goa, then a Portuguese colony. He travelled south at the age of 36 to Sri Lanka, a country then divided into kingdoms after hearing about the persecution of Catholics by the Dutch, and worked for years under the protection of a Buddhist king, King Vimaladharmasuriya II. The canonisation of Joseph Vaz was seen as an example of Pope Francis’s no-nonsense approach to creating saints to meet the demands of the flock for new holy figures, particular in parts of the world where the Church is still growing.

Scheme on Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian capital goods sector
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, approved the "Scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness of the Capital Goods Sector" to boost the Indian economy. This scheme, on its implementation, would attempt to make the Indian capital goods sector globally competitive. The sub sectors of Capital Goods covered under the scheme are mainly for Machine Tools, Textile Machinery, Construction and Mining Machinery, and Process Plant Machinery. The proposed scheme addresses the issue of technological depth creation in the capital goods sector, besides creating common industrial facility centres. 

    The Scheme on Enhancement of Competitiveness in the Indian Capital Goods Sector will be implemented in the 12th Plan period and spill over to the 13th Plan period with an estimated outlay of Rs. 930.96 crore. The Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) from the government for the scheme would be Rs. 581.22 crore and the balance Rs. 349.74 crore would be contributed by the stakeholder industries. 

    The scheme has five components to achieve the desired result in pilot mode - 

    (i) Creation of "Advanced Centres of Excellence" for R & D and Technology Development with National Centres of Excellence in Education and Technology such as the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), Bangalore. 

    (ii) Establishment of "Integrated Industrial Infrastructure Facilities" popularly known as Machine Tool Parks with a basic objective of making the machine tool sector more competitive by providing an ecosystem for production. Establishment of Machine Tool Parks will cut down logistic cost substantially and would be a step forward in making the sector cost effective, having enhanced export capability and favourable for attracting more investment. The park would be established by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed by local industries, industry associations, financial institutions, Central / State Governments, R & D Institutions, etc. 

    (iii) Common Engineering Facility Centre" for Textile Machinery is to be set up with active participation of the local industry and the industry association, which in turn would improve facilitation to the users along with visibility. The Common Engineering Facility that can be provided within such set ups are common foundry, common heat treatment, testing laboratories, design center, common prototyping, general and specific machinery, etc. The facility would enable textile machinery and other capital goods manufacturers to develop capital goods to meet the large requirements and improve capacity utilization, thereby reducing the variable cost of operation. This would also be established by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed by local industries, industry associations, financial institutions, Central/State Governments, R&D Institutions, etc. 

    (iv) Testing and Certification Centre" for earth moving machineries in view of the fact that it is soon going to be made a mandatory requirement and at present there is no test facility to test earthmoving machinery like that in the automobile industry. By setting up of the test centre, the import of second hand and outdated machinery could be restricted through mandatory testing and certification, In addition, the centre would facilitate evaluating the performance, statutory and regulatory requirements of construction and mining machinery and equipment. The setting up of Test and Certification Centre for Earthmoving Machinery will be done by the SPV specifically created by the Department of Heavy Industry with the approval of the Cabinet. After approval of the Scheme, a separate proposal for information of SPV for implementation of this particular scheme component will be sent to the Cabinet for approval. 

    (v) The creation of a "Technology Acquisition Fund" under the Technology `Acquisition Fund Programme (TAFP) in order to help the Capital Goods Industry to acquire and assimilate specific technologies, for achieving global standards and competitiveness within a short period of time. The TAFP will provide financial assistance to Indian capital goods industry to facilitate acquisition of strategic and relevant technologies, and also development of technologies through contract route, in-house route or through joint route of contract and in-house. The Fund can extend partial support to industry to enhance their technology level, for achieving superior product quality / functionality, production capacity, safety and sustainability performance. This programme would bridge the technology gaps identified in the 12th Plan Working Group Report on "Capital Goods and Engineering Sector". 


    The Capital Goods value added contributes a fairly constant proportion of 9-12 percent of the total manufacturing value added. This establishes that manufacturing is the key end-user sector of Capital Goods and drives the performance of the latter. Another key determinant of the demand for Capital Goods is the gross investment undertaken in the economy. The apparent consumption of Capital Goods constitutes a constant share of 17-21 percent of the total Gross Domestic investment in the country. The investments in the Capital Goods sector have declined with the decline in the relative profitability of the Capital Goods sector with respect to other sectors. The capital goods sector determines global competitiveness of the manufacturing sector by being a vehicle of technology. 

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