Current Affairs Current Affairs - 31 May 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 31 May 2015

Gandhi's photo missing from Rs 10 note
  • Gandhi's photo missing from Rs 10 note
    VIJAYAWADA: Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi has gone missing in the currency notes of Rs 10 denomination believed to have been printed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the recent past. The bank notes without Gandhi's image posted on the RBI's official website caused a flutter among the people.

    TOI has received several phone calls from netizens from as far-off places as Kurnool with the callers seeking to know the reasons for the RBI's striking departure from the Gandhian legacy in printing and circulation of the currency notes.

    The RBI has started printing and issuing bank notes in the Mahatma Gandhi series since 1996. The note in Rs 5 denomination was printed in 2001, Rs 10 in June 1996, Rs 20 in 2001, Rs 100 in June 1996, Rs 500 in October 1997 and Rs 1,000 in November 2000. All the bank notes of these series carry the Gandhi's portrait on the obverse (front) side in place of symbol of lion mark capital of Ashoka pillar which has also been retained and shifted to the left side next to the water mark window.

    Therefore, these bank notes contain Mahatma Gandhi water mark and Mahatma Gandhi portrait as well. The Rs 10 note carries Gandhi's image on the obverse side while that of fauna on the reverse side and it is one of the first notes introduced by the RBI in Mahatma Gandhi series in 1996.

    In the latest notes, there is only the lion mark capital of Ashoka pillar. Disputing the claims of the bankers in Vijayawada and Hyderabad that they have not received the particular bank notes from the issue department of the RBI, a businessman Venkateswara Rao from Kurnool told TOI that he had received one such currency note from a shopper in an exhibition in his native town. "I obviously grew suspicious upon seeing the note without Gandhi's image. When I showed it to the local State Bank of India officials, they said it was an original note only. The note bears the pin marks indicating that it came out from a pinned currency bundle issued by a nationalized bank", he said.

    R Govind Rao, general manager, RBI, Hyderabad, when contacted, feigned ignorance and advised that details could be sought from the central office. A senior official in RBI said that they were not aware of the new bank notes printed without Gandhi's portrait. "The Rs 10 note is under circulation since colonial times and is in continuous production since the RBI took over the functions of the controller of currency in 1923. The notes you are referring to could be belonging to the earlier period", said the RBI officer, not wishing to be named.

    However, a close look at the Rs 10 bank notes in the Gandhi's series printed from 1996 and those of the earlier period did not have identical features.

    Interestingly, the notes in the Gandhi's series and those without his image match each other in appearance and designing only to the exception of his portrait.

Don’t interfere in our activities, student groups tell IIT-Madras
  • CHENNAI: A group of 16 student groups came together on Saturday to condemn the ban on the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) at IIT Madras.

    They demanded that IIT Madras withdraw the ban on the APSC immediately.

    "IIT-M must withdraw the ban immediately and not interfere in the activities of student groups as it is a matter of freedom of expression," said U Thilagavathi, a coordinator of the yet to be named umbrella organization.

    The organization consist of groups like Campus Front of India, Tamil Nadu Education Forum and Federation of Tamil Youth and Students.

    Meanwhile, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) on Saturday staged a protest in front of IIT-M to condemn the ban. Police detained the protesters.

    The agitating members raised slogans against the Modi-led Union government and HRD minister Smriti Irani even as they were whisked away by the policemen.

    They also had a heated exchange of words with the police and raised slogans against the management of IIT-M and sought action against it for derecognizing Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle recently.

    On Friday, IIT Madras justified its decision to derecognize the group. It said that the body was temporarily derecognized as it violated the guidelines of the institute.

    The institute had derecognized the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle over an anonymous complaint to the central government that it was trying to spread hatred towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies by distributing provocative pamphlets and posters in the campus, igniting a massive controversy.

    Author Arundhati Roy sent an email to APSC - the banned student group, expressing her support. "You have my unhesitating support. You have touched a nerve — what you are saying and seeing ie: that casteism and corporate capitalism go hand in hand is the last thing the authorities and the government want to hear. Because they know that you are right. It is the most dangerous thing for them to hear right now," she wrote. 

No combat role for women in armed forces: Manohar Parrikar
  • NEW DELHI: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has ruled out recruiting women for combat operations in armed forces due to apprehensions about their safety but said they would be encouraged to join other operational areas with their inclusion being stepped up in phases. 

    "No. Think of what can happen if a woman is taken as a prisoner in combat operation," he said, implying at possible atrocities they might suffer if held captive by enemy forces. 

    He, however, said except for combat role women will be encouraged to join other operational areas of the forces. 

    "This inclusion will be increased in phases," Parrikar said during a brief interaction with reporters on the sidelines of a passing out parade at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla near here. 

    On shortage of officers in the forces, he said the deficit is being reduced and the gap currently stood at 7,000 as against 11,000 earlier. 

    Parrikar said the admission capacity of the academy, the premier institute which trains future officers of the three wings of the Armed Forces, too will be enhanced from existing 1950 to 2400 in next two years. 

    On his arrival on the campus, Parrikar reviewed a smartly turned out parade of the passing out cadets on the sprawling premises and asked them to cultivate a "sound mind and sound body" to serve the country with an emphasis on moral and ethical values. 

    He awarded the President's gold medal to cadet A K Sinha. The silver and bronze medals were bagged by cadets Nishant Philip and R S Bisht.

3 hurt in blast at Gorkha Rifles HQ in Dehradun
  • NEW DELHI: At least three army personnel have been injured in a blast at the Gorkha Rifles headquarters in Garhi cantonment area of Dehradun. 

    The injured have been taken to an Army hospital. 

    A bomb disposal squad is at the spot to investigate the matter.

Govt committed to one-rank, one-pension: PM Modi
  • NEW DELHI: A day after the protest by war veterans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that his government is committed to the long-awaited one-rank, one-pension (OROP) policy for ex-servicemen.

    In a tweet, the PM said, "On OROP - the Govt is committed to OROP & there's no doubt about it."

    OROP scheme is aimed at ensuring that all retired soldiers, who have the same rank and the length of service receive the same amount of pension, irrespective of their date of retirement. Currently, all those soldiers who retired before 2006 receive less pension than their counterparts and even their juniors.

    On Friday, defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said that there is no timeframe that could be specified for its implementation as a couple of administrative steps were still pending.

    "There cannot be a date specified to implement OROP. This scheme was not understood by the previous government properly. There are many fine prints and aspects that need to be considered. After taking a lot of time, I have crystallised the department...There are two-three administrative steps that are still pending," Parrikar had said.

    Anger is rapidly mounting among ex-servicemen against the Modi government's continuing delay in implementing the much-promised one-rank, one-pension (OROP) for the 25 lakh-strong community around the country.

    Over the last several years, groups of ex-servicemen have been holding rallies and returning their medals to protest against the non-implementation of OROP, which has been promised by virtually all political parties during election campaigns.

    The Modi government, too, has repeatedly promised OROP over the last one year but deadlines have come and gone without it being actually implemented. A government official said on Thursday, "It's just a matter of time. The legal and implementation nitty-gritties are being sorted out between the defence and finance ministries since it involves an annual outgo of around Rs 8,300 crore, with arrears since April 2014."

Cabinet recommends re-promulgation of land ordinance
  • Cabinet recommends re-promulgation of land ordinanceNEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Saturday recommended re-promulgation of the controversial Land Acquisition Ordinance. 

    The land ordinance will be issued for the third time. The Ordinance was promulgated for the first time in December last year to amend the 2013 Act. Despite being passed in Lok Sabha, the government did not take it to Rajya Sabha as it lacked numbers there. 

    The Ordinance was re-promulgated in March this year and will lapse on June 3. The recommendation of the Union Cabinet will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for its approval. 

    The government, which had promulgated the ordinance twice on the bill since December after it faced continuous resistance especially in Rajya Sabha, where it does not have the numbers, had agreed to refer it to the committee, during the recently concluded Parliament session. 

    The first meeting of joint Committee of Parliament on the contentious land bill yesterday saw a number of Opposition members raising questions over the rationale of the government changing provisions of the 2013 land law. 

    Expressing dissatisfaction over the government's arguments in favour of the bill, the members had demanded a "composite" inter-ministerial reply on the issue. 

    At the meeting, the Rural Development Ministry and Legislative department in the Law Ministry had made a presentation to members on the amendments made to the The Right To Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. 

    As the officials of the two ministries explained the amendments, members from the Opposition parties including Congress, BJD, TMC and the Left had raised questions over the rationale of doing away with the consent clause while acquiring land. 

    While the 2013 law required that the consent of 80 per cent of land owners was obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70 per cent of land owners be obtained for PPP projects, the present bill exempts the five categories from this provision of the Act. 

    These categories include defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including public private partnership (PPP) projects where the government owns the land. 

    The 2013 Act also required that a social impact assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired. This provision has been done away with. 

Premium train tickets to not have dynamic fare
  • Premium train tickets to not have dynamic fareLUCKNOW: Due to high ticket pricing in premium trains, Indian Railways has decided to rationalize the dynamic fare system by starting a slab system. It will allow people to book premium train tickets from reservation counters and providing a window of 30 days for advance booking instead of 10 day at present. 

    Premium trains come with dynamic pricing where price of the ticket is linked with demand. 

    Premium trains were introduced to accommodate plans of last minute travellers. The trains were launched during the fag end of UPA regime by the then railway minister Malikarjun Kharge. 

    But it has been observed that prices sky rocketed with increase in demand and at times fare of 3AC was more than 2AC. Ministry, therefore, has decided to do away with the demand based pricing and have a slab system, whereby, fare will remain same for a particular number of seats despite increase in demand. The facility will be available from July 1. 

    Besides, premium trains will now be called Suvidha express.

What Google just announced is a bombshell
  • What Google just announced is a bombshellWhat Google just announced at its I/O developer conference is a bombshell for the future of the company. For years the search giant has witnessed the chipping away of its core product — search — due to the rise of mobile applications and their siloed-off experiences.

    Users are engaging more and more with programs that have no attachment and often no requirement for search on the broad web, and as a result Google's position as the owner of our habits, interests, and needs across the internet has looked increasingly at risk.
    But Google might have just changed its trajectory.

    The company demoed a new feature within its Android OS which allows the Now service (a dashboard of notifications focused on your life and interests) to plug in as a layer that essentially hovers above any app running on your phone or tablet. Activated by the home button, it's always there.

    This means that you can get contextual search information around almost anything you're doing, provided there is text and data that Google can pull from the app itself. And the best part is that developers won't have to make any changes to their existing software to allow the new service — dubbed Now on Tap — to bring search and context into the user's view.

    For instance, while listening to music in Spotify you can search for more info on an artist across the entire web, or if you're talking about a restaurant with a friend in WhatsApp, Google can pull up data on the place and even help you make reservations. And this is not a feature of the app itself, rather an assistant that lives as part of the entire operating system.

    This is a major move for two reasons. The first is that it really brings Google back to a place of dominance as the glue that holds your digital life together. The web has thrived and grown in no small part because of Google's ability to track, organize, and understand all of its disparate pieces. Now it's able to do the same thing with every app running on your phone. It allows Google to get back into the search game by speaking the common language of apps. It gives the company a second life with access to user behavior and needs.

    But secondly, it starts to show how Google can be an interconnecting layer between the apps themselves — a kind of neutral staging ground between one action and another. This is a sea-change for how we use our mobile devices and how mobile apps interact with one another. Currently, we use operating system-defined tools which let apps interact with each other (with rules set out by the OS-makers, not developers).

    But imagine if developers didn't have to think about how their work connects to the rest of your world? Imagine if Now on Tap is aware enough of the core functions of those apps that it can predict what you'd most likely want to do with them, and then execute on those needs? That's the ultimate promise of Now on Tap — and it's a game changing one.

    However, the technology has its limits. There's no chance a service like this will ever make its way to Apple's iOS given the closed nature of the operating system (and the fact that Apple will undoubtedly take a stab at the same concept). And Google also has to prove that this kind of natural language processing can work effectively enough to live up to the company's promise of a seamless experience.

    But if the service is as impressive as what Google just showed off on stage in San Francisco, there's a whole new world ahead of us for our devices. One that's more connected than ever.

American Express president dies suddenly after falling ill on flight
  • CaptureNEW YORK: American Express said company president Ed Gilligan died suddenly on Friday after falling ill while flying on a corporate plane to New York. 

    Gilligan, 55, was coming back from a business trip. The plane made an emergency landing in the US, an American Express spokeswoman said. She declined to say where Gilligan had been. 

    "This is deeply painful and frankly unimaginable for all of us who had the great fortune to work with Ed," said American Express CEO Ken Chenault, in a letter to employees Friday. 

    Gilligan began working at the New York credit card issuer and global payments company 35 years ago as an intern. He was named president of the company in 2013 and reported to Chenault. 

    American Express said he is survived by his wife and four children. 

    In his time at the company, Gilligan worked on just about every area of American Express' business, including commercial card, small business, merchant services, travel and, most recently, digital partnerships and payments. 

    As a result, Gilligan was viewed as a potential candidate to eventually succeed Chenault, said Jim Shanahan, financial services analyst at Edward Jones. 

    "In my mind, he would have probably been one of a few people on a very short list, at least of internal candidates, to replace him at some point," Shanahan said. He noted, however, that he doesn't believe Chenault, 63, is likely to retire any time soon. 

    American Express has a "very deep management team," and it's possible someone else could be promoted to a more senior role and groomed for leadership of the company, Shanahan added. 

    Gilligan's passing comes at a challenging time for American Express. 

    Earlier this year, the company lost its exclusive relationship with Costco and lost a US antitrust suit. A stronger US dollar also dampened its revenue in the first quarter. 

    At the same time, the company has benefited from growing spending by cardholders. 

    In April, the company announced it would increase the annual fee on some of its popular charge cards, while also noting it would be beefing up some of those cards' benefits as well. 

    The New York-based company's shares are down 14 percent this year.

US demands immediate halt to South China Sea reclamations
  • US demands immediate halt to South China Sea reclamationsSINGAPORE: The United States on Friday called for an "immediate and lasting halt" to reclamation works in disputed waters in the South China Sea, saying Beijing's behaviour in the area was "out of step" with international norms.

    "First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants," US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore.

    "We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features," he said, stressing that US forces would continue entering what he called international waters and airspace in the tense region.

    Carter, speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue involving defence ministers and top military officials from China, Europe and other Asia-Pacific countries, added that "with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both the international rules and norms".

    He acknowledged that other claimants have developed outposts of differing scope and degree, including Vietnam with 48, the Philippines with eight, Malaysia with five and Taiwan with one.

    "Yet, one country has gone much farther and much faster than any other.

    "And that's China. China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined and more than in the entire history of the region. And China did so in only the last 18 months," Carter said.

    "It is unclear how much farther China will go. That is why this stretch of water has become the source of tension in the region and front-page news around the world."

    Last week the Chinese military ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to leave an area above the heavily disputed Spratly Islands. But the American plane ignored the demand.

    "There should be no mistake: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as US forces do all around the world," Carter said in Singapore.

    "America, alongside its allies and partners in the regional architecture, will not be deterred from exercising these rights - the rights of all nations. After all, turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit."

US military orders review as anthrax mishap widens
  • US military orders review as anthrax mishap widens
    WASHINGTON: The US military said on Friday it discovered even more suspected shipments of live anthrax than previously thought, both in the United States and abroad, and ordered a sweeping review of practices meant to inactivate the bacteria. 

    The Pentagon said a total of 11 states, two more than it first acknowledged, received "suspect samples," as did Australia and South Korea. It had previously only identified a foreign shipment to a US air base south of Seoul. 

    "There is no known risk to the general public and an extremely low risk to lab workers," the Pentagon said in a statement. 

    Still, in a sign the Pentagon was still coming to grips with the extent of the problem, it advised all laboratories for now to stop working with any "inactive" samples sent from the Defense Department. 

    To date, the United States has acknowledged that four US civilians have begun taking preventive measures that usually include the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both. 

    Twenty-two people at the base in South Korea were also given precautionary medical measures although none of them has shown signs of exposure, officials said. 

    The sUSpected live samples identified so far all appear to trace back to a US Army base in Utah, the Dugway Proving Ground, one of the military labs responsible for inactivation and shipping of biological material. 

    The US military disclosed earlier this week that suspected live samples sourced to Dugway were traced going to nine US states and a US air base in South Korea. A US official said those shipments took place between March 2014 to April 2015 before being discovered this month. 

    On Friday, US officials said the suspect sample sent to Australia came from a 2008 batch from Dugway. 

    In all, a total of 24 laboratories received the suspect samples, the Pentagon said. 

    The discovery has raised alarms in Congress. 

    The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate homeland security committee wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, saying the incident "may have threatened countless human lives and caused millions of dollars in damage." 

    The Pentagon said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics, would lead the Pentagon's review, which included an examination of procedures for inactivating anthrax. 

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already begun an investigation. 

    The disclosure comes 11 months after the CDC, one of the government's top civilian labs, similarly mishandled anthrax. 

    Researchers at a lab designed to handle extremely dangerous pathogens sent what they believed were killed samples of anthrax to another CDC lab, one with fewer safeguards and therefore not authorized to work with live anthrax. 

    Scores of CDC employees could have been exposed to the live anthrax, but none became ill. 

    That incident and a similar one last spring, in which CDC scientists shipped what they thought was a benign form of bird flu but which was actually a highly virulent strain, led US lawmakers to fault a "dangerous pattern" of safety lapses at government labs.

List of Indian Missiles
  • Missile NameOrginTypeRangeSpeed
    Air-to-air missiles
    Astra MissileIndiaAir - to - Air Missiles60 – 80 kmMach 4 +
    K-100Russia & IndiaMedium Range air - to - air missile300–400 kmMach 3.3
    Surface-To-Air Missiles
    Akash MissileIndiaMedium - range surface - to - air missile30-35kmMach 2.5 to 3.5
    Barak 8Isreal / IndiaLong Range surface to air Missile100 kmMach 2
    Defence Missile
    Prithvi Air Defence (PAD)IndiaExo - atmospheric Anti - ballistic missileAltitude- 80kmMach 5+
    Advanced Air Defence (AAD)IndiaEndoatmospheric Anti - ballistic missileAltitude- 30kmMach 4.5
    Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV)IndiaExo - atmospheric Anti - ballistic missileAltitude- 120km
    Cruise Missiles
    NirbhayIndiaSubsonic cruise missile (Ship, submarine, aircraft and land)1,000 -1500 kmMach 0.8
    BrahMosRussia & IndiaSupersonic cruise missile (Ship, submarine, aircraft and land)290 kmMach 2.8 to 3 Mach
    BrahMos II IndiaHypersonic cruise missile (Ship, submarine, aircraft and land)300kmMach 7
    Surface-to-surface missiles
    Agni-IIndiaMedium - range ballistic missile (MRBM)700-1250 kmMach 7.5
    Agni-IIIndiaIntermediate - range ballistic missile (IRBM)2,000–3,000 kmMach 12
    Agni-IIIIndiaIntermediate - range ballistic missile (IRBM)3,500 km – 5,000 km5–6 km/s
    Agni-IVIndiaIntermediate - range ballistic missile (IRBM)3,000 – 4,000 kmMach 7
    Agni-VIndiaIntercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)5000 – 8000KmMach 24
    Prithvi IIndiaShort Range Ballistic Missile(Tactical)150 km
    Prithvi IIIndiaShort Range Ballistic Missile(Tactical)350 km
    DhanushIndiaShort Range Ballistic Missile(Tactical)350 – 600 km
    Prahaar(Pragati)IndiaShort Range Ballistic Missile (Tactical)150 kmMach 2.03
    ShauryaIndiaMedium - Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM)750 to 1,900 kmMach 7.5
    Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles
    Sagarika (K-15) IndiaBallistic Missile700 – 1900KmMach 7+
    K-4 IndiaBallistic Missile3,500–5,000 kmMach 7+
    K-5 IndiaBallistic Missile6,000 km
    Anti-Tank Missile
    NagIndiaAnti-Tank Guided Missile4km230 m/s
    Helina(HELIcopter launched NAg)IndiaAnti-Tank Guided Missile7-8km

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