Current Affairs Current Affairs - 18 August 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 18 August 2015

General Affairs

PM Narendra Modi Holds Talk With UAE Crown Prince
  • PM Narendra Modi Holds Talk With UAE Crown PrinceABU DHABI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held talks with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on key issues of security and trade even as the two sides looked at elevating the ties to the strategic level.

    Apart from key bilateral issues, the two leaders also discussed situation in the region, particularly in wake of the increasing threat of terrorism and extremism from various sources including the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

    During the talks at the 'Emirates Palace' hotel where PM Modi is staying, the two sides emphasised on expanding engagement between the two countries, holding that there was a huge untapped opportunities to step up economic cooperation.

    After the meeting, the Crown Prince also hosted a lunch for Prime Minister Modi.

    PM Modi, who arrived in AbuDhabi yesterday in first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years, had made it clear that he wants UAE to be India's foremost partner in countering terrorism and trade.

    According to officials, the talks included "indepth discussion" on how cooperation could be increased in meeting the common challenge of terrorism. They also explored possible way to increase commercial ties as part of comprehensive strategic partnership.

    On trade front, India would like UAE to see the country as "long-time investment destination". With the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) having a whopping USD 800 billion sovereign funds and India is keen to attract investments from it in the infrastructure sector including real estate, port development and railways.

    Earlier in the day, addressing a group of investors at the Masdar city, PM Modi said India has an immediate investment opportunity of USD 1 trillion and that his government will take urgent steps to address concerns of the businessmen from UAE and erase "deficit of 34 years".

    The Prime Minister said all major global institutions such as IMF, World Bank and Moody's agree that India is the world's fastest growing economy and it has huge development potential.

    In the morning, PM Modi took a tour of the Masdar City, a hub of cleantech and science and technology innovation, on the second day of his two-day UAE visit.

    Given that late Indira Gandhi was the last Prime Minister to visit UAE in 1981, PM Modi's visit is seen as an opportunity to boost India-UAE ties in strategic areas of trade and security.

He's Done It Again, Says Congress, as PM Talks of Inherited Problems
  • He's Done It Again, Says Congress, as PM Talks of Inherited ProblemsNEW DELHI:  Offering immediate investment opportunities worth a trillion dollars to investors in the United Arab Emirates or UAE, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told them, "I inherited problems of indecision, lethargy from the previous government, but I am working to fix that". Predictably, the remonstration about the previous Congress-led government drew quick protest from its leaders.

    "The Prime Minister has inherited an India that he should be proud of," said Anand Sharma of the Congress. "The PM should be cautious of the dignity of his office," he advised, suggesting that it is poor form to take potshots at political rivals on foreign tours.  "He has done it again," the politician said, pointing out that the PM has in earlier trips been critical of the administration that preceded his.

    The PM is on a two-day visit to the UAE, the first trip by an Indian Prime Minister to the region in over 30 years. In response to complaints of slow clearances and red tape, the PM assured, "I will send my Commerce Minister to try and find solutions to the problems faced by some UAE investors."

    To a conference of industry leaders, Mr Modi said that India's potential in tourism remains untapped. "You have managed to persuade the world to come visit your desert," he said, "India wants the world at its doorstep as well."

    Tonight, the PM will address a cricket stadium packed with 50,000 Indians in Dubai. Thousands others will watch his speech on large screens installed outside.

CBSE Declares Pre-Medical Retest Results, Haryana Boy Tops Exam
  • CBSE Declares Pre-Medical Retest Results, Haryana Boy Tops ExamNEW DELHI:  The CBSE today declared the results of the All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Test (AIPMT), which was re-conducted on July 25 after allegations of large-scale irregularities in the first test.

    Vipul from Haryana's Jind district topped the exam while Khushi Tiwari from Rajasthan came second.

    Both the toppers are from the unreserved category, according to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which conducted the exam.

    The examination was conducted at 1,065 centres in 50 cities across the country and abroad and out of the 6,32,625 candidates registered for this examination, 4,22,859 candidates downloaded the admit card.

    The decision to re-conduct the examination came after the Supreme Court's direction to CBSE following allegations of large-scale irregularities in the examination held on May 3.

    A dress code was prescribed for the test and all the candidates were frisked prior to the examination.

    More than one lakh officials had ensured the successful and fair conduct of examination, CBSE had said.

Terrorist Naveed Identified Home in Pakistan on Google Earth: Sources
  • Terrorist Naveed Identified Home in Pakistan on Google Earth: SourcesNEW DELHI:  A Delhi court has allowed the National Investigation Agency or NIA to conduct tests to prove that Naveed, the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist captured earlier this month, is a Pakistani national.

    A polygraph or lie-detector test will be done tomorrow morning. The terrorist was captured on August 5 after he attacked a Border Security Force or BSF convoy in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir.

    Naveed has told his interrogators that he is from Faisalabad in Pakistan and has also allegedly identified on Google Earth, the locality where he lived. His father Yakub Mohammad had in an interview confirmed that the captured man was his son. But Islamabad has rejected that claim and wants "scientific evidence" that Naveed is a Pakistani citizen.

    NIA sources said that the polygraph test will help it establish the conspiracy behind the Udhampur attack and how Naveed infiltrated into India. Also, say sources, Naveed's statements have been riddled with inconsistencies which has hampered the investigation.

    The NIA, which has Naveed's custody till August 24, will also collect the terrorist's DNA samples which will be shared with Pakistan to be matched with those of his parents in Faisalabad. On Monday, Naveed was produced at Delhi's Patiala House courts, where he consented to the tests.

    The NIA has been interrogating Naveed every day for about six to eight hours. He has allegedly told interrogators that he joined the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba because he was unemployed and also wanted to do something that would fetch him recognition.

    The terrorist has said that he was offered Rs. 50,000 for the Udhampur attack and also that his handlers in the Lashkar promised to look after him. But he now believes that they sent him to his death and has talked of seeking revenge, investigators said.

    Naveed, who is in his early 20s, seems to have been constantly drugged to keep his motivation high, the sources said.

Supreme Court Sends Notice to Lalu Prasad in Fodder Scam Case
  • Supreme Court Sends Notice to Lalu Prasad in Fodder Scam CaseThe Supreme Court has issued a notice to RJD leader Lalu Prasad regarding a corruption case, asking why the charges against him that have been dropped by the Jharkhand High Court cannot be revived.

    The notice came after the Central Bureau of Investigation, which had probed the scam, moved the top court challenging the high court order. The Jharkhand high court had dropped some charges against Mr Prasad in November 2014. 
    The verdict gave him relief under the relevant section of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act and Article 22 of the Constitution, which that states that a person once convicted or acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offence.

    The former chief minister of Bihar had been charged in several cases related to the scam, in which Rs. 900 crores were embezzled from the state exchequer for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle over a period of 20 years. The matter came to light in 1996.

    In October 2013, Mr Prasad was convicted in one of the cases- on charges of embezzling Rs.37 crore. But he received bail in December 2013 from the Supreme Court.

    The veteran leader - who was banned from contesting elections due to his conviction -- has four weeks to reply to the notice.

Business Affairs 

BSE Sensex closes below 28K-level on sliding exports, Nifty ends below 8500-mark
  • BSE Sensex closes below 28K on sliding exportsThe benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex tanked over 189 points to close below the 28,000-level on Monday as participants indulged in offloading positions amid exports contracted for the eighth straight month by 10.3 per cent in July to $23.13 billion.
    Besides, profit-booking by participants after recent gains and mixed trend at other Asian bourses, dampened sentiments.
    The 30-share barometer slipped below the 28,000-mark by plunging 189.04 points or 0.67 per cent to close at 27,878.27 on Monday.
    The gauge rose by 555.05 points in last two sessions.
    Also, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Nifty dipped below the 8,500-mark by losing 41.25 points or 0.48 per cent to close at 8,477.30.
    Brokers said apart from profit-taking in recent gainers and a mixed trend at other Asian markets, India's exports contracted for the eighth straight month by 10.3 per cent in July to $23.13 billion, pushing the trade deficit to $12.81 billion, dampened sentiments.
    Bucking the trend, stocks of SBI rose 3.95 per cent, Bank of Baroda gained 15.15 per cent after the government unveiled a seven-point plan encompassing Rs 20,000 crore immediate fund infusion, to revive the fortunes of public sector banks.

Oil prices fall near six-year lows as Japan contracts
  • Oil prices fall near six-year lows as Japan contractsOil prices fell to near six-year lows on Monday as Japan's economy contracted and producers in the US added drilling rigs for a fourth straight week despite a recent rout in prices.
    Japan's economy, the second biggest in Asia and No. 3 in the world, shrank in the second quarter from a year earlier, adding to fears that slowdowns in Asia's biggest economies will weigh on oil demand.
    US crude, or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), was trading 58 cents lower at $41.92 a barrel at 0423 GMT, close to more than six-year lows.
    Brent futures were down 54 cents at $48.65 a barrel, still some way from their 2015-low of $45.19.
    US energy firms added oil rigs for a fourth straight week to the highest number since early May, data from energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc showed.
    The increase likely reflected how a period of stable prices earlier this summer, when US oil traded above $60 a barrel, lulled some firms into stepping up spending.
    "The recent recovery in the oil rig count supports our expectation that US producers can and will ramp up activity with WTI prices near $60 a barrel, given improved returns with costs down 30 per cent," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients.
    Citigroup lowered its crude oil price outlook citing weak market fundamentals, including an increased supply from OPEC and challenging demand growth in China and emerging markets.
    The Wall Street bank lowered its base case Brent price forecasts to $54 per barrel for 2015 and $53 in 2016 from $58 and $63, respectively.
    It also lowered its 2015 and 2016 price forecast for US oil to $48 per barrel both this year and in 2016 from its prior view of $53 and $56, respectively.
    Oil producers in the United States will be granted an additional market outlet, after the Obama administration approved limited crude sales to Mexico for the first time.
    Despite limited volumes of about 100,000 barrels per day, the move toward freeing up trade will please US oil producers, which say the restrictions force them to sell oil at below global market rates as the shale oil boom created a glut of light crude.
    But analysts at Barclays don't expect the ruling to lead to the removal of a decade-old export ban. Rather, it may mark the last of a number of steps already taken as they expect the administration "to stress that its overarching position on a broad removal of the ban has not changed".
    "We believe that this ruling means that - absent Congressional action - this administration remains reticent to approve a change to the law," they said.

IndiGo finalises $26.5-billion purchase of 250 new Airbus jets
  • IndiGo finalises $26.5-bn purchase of 250 new Airbus jetsBudget airline IndiGo has finalised the purchase of 250 A320neo aircraft, Airbus said on Monday, handing the European company its biggest-ever order by number of planes in a deal worth $26.55 billion at list prices.
    The agreement, which Airbus said was signed on Saturday, confirms an earlier provisional order by IndiGo for the 250 narrow-body planes announced in October.
    IndiGo, which has grown rapidly to become the country's biggest airline by market share, has now ordered 530 A320 family planes from Airbus, the planemaker said in a statement.
    The deal also makes IndiGo the largest airline customer for the Airbus A320-family of aircraft. Other large A320 customers include low-cost carriers such as Malaysia's AirAsia and Indonesia's Lion Air.
    It is also the second-largest order by value for Airbus.
    The A320neo is the re-engined and upgraded variant of the A320 family of planes and competes against Boeing's upgraded 737 Max in the narrowbody market segment.
    Boeing has projected that narrowbody aircraft, which are used on flights of up to around five hours, will account for 70 per cent of the planes required over the next 20 years.
    IndiGo's deal extends the Airbus lead against Boeing in the orders for the upgraded narrowbody aircraft.
    Boeing has secured 2,831 orders for its 737 Max plane, according to data on its website, while Airbus said that it has over 4,100 orders for the A320neo with this order.
    Founded in 2006 by travel entrepreneur Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal, a former chief executive of US Airways, IndiGo has placed a series of aggressive orders for Airbus jets as it tries to win a bigger share of the country's fast-growing aviation market.
    IndiGo flies one in three of the country's air travelers. Its owner, InterGlobe Aviation, filed in June a draft prospectus for an initial public offering. It had said in the prospectus that the terms of the 250 aircraft order had expired, raising concerns about the deal.

The Rupee Ventures Forth
  • The Rupee Ventures ForthSudhir Sethi, founder of IDG Ventures India, spent most of his childhood overseas as his father was in the Indian Foreign Service. Returning to India, he worked for two decades in computers - his employers included HCL and Wipro - before starting his investment career in 1998 with Walden International India, the first Silicon Valley-based venture capital (VC) firm to set up an Indian arm. Though Walden has funded numerous Indian start-ups, its investors, or limited partners (LPs) as they are called in VC jargon, remain predominantly people and companies based outside the country - especially endowment funds, pension funds and large banks. It is the same with IDG, which Sethi joined in 2006, as well as the other big players in the Indian VC sector - Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners, Accel Partners, Helion Advisors. All of them are dominated by foreign LPs.
    The latest India-focused fund IDG is raising, however, is different. Though unwilling to reveal the proposed fund size, Sethi confirms it will have a significant contribution from investors within India, spread across eight cities. These even include a Mumbai-based itar (traditional perfume) manufacturer! "I'm a desi guy now," says Sethi.
    IDG is not alone. In the past three years - and for the first time - a clear trend of Indian participation in venture funding of start-ups has become visible. No doubt this is still small - a mere three per cent of the total. It is also confined to family firms of high net worth individuals (HNIs), rather than financial institutions as in markets like the US. "Other than the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), most institutions in this country don't understand either venture capital or start-ups," says Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner at VC firm Blume Ventures.
    Still, a beginning has been made. Average assets under management (AUM) of HNI family firms are between Rs 200 crore and Rs 250 crore, though the highest is around Rs 5,000 crore.
    'One of the big reasons why some companies move out of india is that their investors are overseas and influence them into doing so', says Sudhir Sethi, Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, IDG Ventures India.
    Industry insiders maintain the Indian reluctance was not due to any shortage of investing funds in the country, but simply lack of awareness. The increasing media coverage of start-ups and their funding, however, has finally made investors aware that start-ups can be looked at in the same way as any other asset class, such as bonds, mutual funds or land. "Putting money in a VC fund is much like investing in mutual funds because these funds diversify your investment - and hence your risk - across several start-ups," says Sasha Mirchandani, co-founder of VC firm Kae Capital and the association of angel investors, Mumbai Angels Network. "It is much less risky than investing in a single start-up."
    Likely Impact
    Indian start-ups have already attracted billions of dollars from global funds. But substantial Indian investment is bound to boost local start-ups even further and make it still easier for them to get money. "Why should we go to the US if we can get enough capital in India," says Mirchandani. The kind of start-ups being promoted, however, is likely to stay the same, with the technology reliant ones enjoying a distinct advantage. "Only the sources of capital are changing," says Rehan yar Khan, a well-known angel investor who set up the Rs 300 crore VC firm Orios Venture Partners last year, with funds drawn entirely from Indian investors.
    The first fund in India which tapped only Indians was Blume Ventures Fund I, which raised $25 million in 2011. It was not an easy task. "We had to convince investors we are here to last at least 20 years as an institution," says Reddy. The money has been since deployed across 65 start-ups. Mirchandani's Kae Capital, which started around the same time, has no doubt drawn funds from Sequoia Capital and SAIF Partners, but also from the likes of Deep Kalra, founder of, Anupam Mittal of and Naveen Tewari of InMobi, in their individual capacities. So too India Quotient, begun in 2013 by Anand Lunia, former Managing Partner at VC firm Seedfund, has drawn investments from Times Internet, Ronnie Screwvala's Unilazer Ventures and SIDBI, as also from overseas funds such as Omidyar Network which operates an India arm.
    How successful have VCs using Indian funds been so far? It is still early days, but Blume Ventures has already had a few successful exits such as ZipDial and TaxiForSure. ZipDial was acquired by Twitter and TaxiForSure by Ola Cabs in the early months of this year. Again, around 25 per cent of the start-ups Blume invested in have managed to attract follow on funding. Blume is now raising a fresh $60 million fund, 40 per cent of which will come from Indian investors. So too India Quotient is raising $25 million in a new fund, much higher than its first fund of $5 million.
    What sets apart a number of the Indian VC funds from their overseas counterparts in India is also their willingness to invest in start-ups at the business-plan stage, even before these have begun earning revenue. Typical investments are around $200,000 to $250,000. Until now, while Series A and subsequent funding for successful start-ups had been growing, pre-revenue funding - which is obviously more risky - was hard to come by. Entrepreneurs had to largely use their own funds or turn to personal sources. With this gap starting to close, industry sources believe, the funding ecosystem for start-ups in India will be complete.
    Growth in the number of Indian LPs may also stem the trend of Indian start-ups shifting their headquarters overseas after a few years. "One of the big reasons why some companies move out of India is that their investors are overseas and influence them into doing so," says Sethi of IDG Ventures. Further, Indian LPs will help not only start-ups but Indian VC firms as well, increasing their deal flow. "With Indian investors coming in, the dollar investor will also be prompted to put in more," Sethi adds. It will also assist in finding the right start-ups to back, since Indian LPs would be people in close touch with premier educational institutions.
    'Other than the small industries development bank of india, most institutions in india don't understand VC or start-ups', says Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner, Blume Ventures. (Photo: Rachit Goswami)
    Indian investment in start-ups is set to further increase with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) having eased the norms for their shareholding and disclosure in early June, making it easier for them to list on the bourses. It has also set up an 18-member committee headed by Infosys Chairman Emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy to recommend a new regulatory framework for start-ups and alternative investments.
    Larger Funds Untouched
    The larger funds, however, remain untouched by this development. "Domestic LPs don't apply to us as our association with foreign LPs has been very strong over the past 15 years," says Mayank Khanduja, Vice President, SAIF Partners. But these funds too have been booming, with the dollars pouring in (see Fund Bonanza). The biggest among them, Sequoia Capital, which has been in India since 2006, launched its $530 million India-focused fund IV in May 2014. In April this year, it topped this with an additional $210 million, making it a $740 million fund. A month earlier, in March, SAIF Partners closed its India Fund V at $350 million. Again in March, Accel Partners India announced a $305 million Accel India Fund IV. Nexus Venture Partners is raising a $400 million fund called Nexus Opportunity Fund. "One of the reasons VC firms are raising more funds is because we want to stay longer in the companies where we have invested," says Sandeep Singhal, co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners.

Monsoon rainfall deficit widens to 10%: IMD
  • Monsoon rainfall deficit widens to 10%: IMDThe monsoon rainfall deficit has widened to 10 per cent as a strengthening El Nino weather pattern trimmed rainfall, theIndian Meterological Department (IMD) said, raising fears of the first drought in six years.
    The June-September monsoon rains determine farmers' earnings as more than half of farm land lacks irrigation. Though agriculture accounts for about 15 per cent of the country's $2 trillion economy, three-fifths of its 1.25 billion people depend on it for their livelihood.
    The rainfall is likely to remain subdued even this week over most parts of the country, a weather department official said, raising concerns over output from summer-sown crops such as cotton, oilseeds, paddy and pulses.

General Awareness

    • ❖ Lithuania adopted the Euro currency on January 1, 2015 and became the 19th member of the Eurozone.

      ❖ A.B. de Villiers of South Africa scored the fastest century in One Day International cricket history on January 18, 2015. He scored a hundred in just 31 deliveries against the West Indies. He broke
      the previous record of 100 off 36 balls set by Corey Anderson of New Zealand in 2014.

      ❖ Alexis Tsipras was sworn in on January 26, 2015 as the Prime Minister of Greece.

      ❖ S. Jaishankar was appointed as India's new Foreign Secretary on January 28, 2015. He replaced Sujatha Singh.

      ❖ NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India Aayog) replaced Planning Commission
      on January 1, 2015. Its Chairperson is the Prime Minister. Arvind Panagariya is the first Vice Chairman. Sindhushree Khullar is the Chief Executive officer. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO Chief V.K. Saraswat are the two full time members.

      ❖ A.S. Kiran Kumar was appointed the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on January 12, 2015. He succeeded K. Radhakrishnan.

      ❖ Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha was appointed the first Hindu Chief Justice of Bangladesh on January 12, 2015.

      ❖ Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as the President of Sri Lanka on January 9, 2015. He succeeded Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ranil Wikramasinghe is the new Prime Minister.

      ❖ Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe took over the post of African Union Chairman on January 30, 2015.

      ❖ Dineshwar Sharma is the new Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief and Krishna Chaudhary is the new
      Director General of the Indo- Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

      ❖ The first canister-based Agni V trial was successful. It was launched from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast on January 31, 2015. It has a strike range of 5,000 km.

      ❖ The first indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was handed over by Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar to the Indian Air Force on January 17, 2015.

      ❖ Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) entered the Guinness World Records for opening the highest number of bank accounts in the least time. 11.5 crore new bank accounts have been opened under PMJDY as on January 17, 2015. It was launched by the Prime Minister on August 28, 2014.

      ❖ ICICI Bank launched India's first contactless debit and credit cards on January 7, 2015 that use the near field communication (NFC) technology.

      ❖ The government announced the names of 104 recipients of Padma Awards on January 25, 2015. This year's list comprises 9 Padma Vibhushan, 20 Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shree awardees. L.K. Advani, Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar and Prakash Singh Badal are among the Padma Vibhushan winners.

      ❖ The President conferred Ashok Chakra on the occasion of the 66th Republic Day to Major Mukund
      Varadarajan (posthumous) and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh (posthumous). Ashok Chakra is the highest gallantry award given during peacetime.

      ❖ Eminent Hindi scholar Kamal Kishore Goenka has been selected for Vyas Samman for 2014 for his research work "Premchand Kee Kahaniyo aa Kaalkramanusar Adhyapan".

      ❖ Paulina Vega of Colombia was crowned 63rd Miss Universe on January 25, 2015 in Miami, USA.

      ❖ Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri won the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 for her book "The Lowland". This prize was announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival on January 23, 2015.

      ❖ Arundhathi Subramaniam won the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry for her work "When God is a Traveller" on January 24, 2015.

      ❖ Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala won the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial award on January 22, 2015.

      ❖ M.Y.S. Prasad, Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, was selected for the
      Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Award 2015.

      ❖ RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan won the Governor of the Year Award in the Central Banking Awards for 2015.

      ❖ Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" programme in Panipat, Haryana on January 22, 2015 in a bid to encourage birth and education of girls. Actress Madhuri Dixit is the brand ambassador. On the same day Sukanya Samriddhi Account was launched for the girls aged below 10.

      ❖ Saina Nehwal clinched the women's singles crown of the Syed Modi International Masters Badminton Tournament on January 25, 2015. She defeated Carolina Marin of Spain in the final in Lucknow. In the men's singles final Parupalli Kashyap of India beat compatriot K.Srikanth.

      ❖ Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2014 Award. It is his second year running and third overall award.

      ❖ Legendary cartoonist R.K. Laxman died on January 26, 2015. He created "Common Man" cartoon.

      ❖ Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first lady
      officer on January 25, 2015 to lead the Inter- Service Guard of Honor for the visiting US President Barack Obama at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Barack Obama is the first US President to be the Chief Guest for India's Republic Day.

      ❖ The French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo's Paris office was attacked by gunmen on January 7, 2015. In the attack 12 persons were killed.

      ❖ The 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) was celebrated between January 7-9, 2015 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. It marked the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India from South Africa. The Chief Guest was Guyana President Donald Ramotar. The theme of the 13th PBD was Bharat ko jano, Bharat ko mano. The Vice President Hamid Ansari presented the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards to 15 persons on January 9. The awardees include plant scientist Sanjay Rajaram and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

      ❖ The 102nd Indian Science Congress (ISC) was held from January 3 - 7, 2015 in Mumbai. The theme was Science and Technology for Human Development.

      ❖ The 60th Filmfare Awards were presented on February 1, 2015. "Queen" bagged highest number of awards i.e. 6. "Shahid Kapoor" is the best actor for the film "Haider" and "Kangana Ranaut" best actress for "Queen".

      ❖ Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic was sworn in as the first female President of Croatia on February 15, 2015.

      ❖ Sergio Mattarella took over as the President of Italy on February 3, 2015.

      ❖ Ashton Carter replaced Chuck Hagel as the Defense Secretary of the United States.

      ❖ Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party became the Chief Minister of Delhi on February 14, 2015.
      Manish Sisodia is the Deputy Chief Minister.

      ❖ Nitish Kumar of Janata Dal (United) took oath as the Chief Minister of Bihar on February 22,
      2015. He succeeded Jitan Ram Manjhi.

      ❖ L.C. Goyal replaced Anil Goswami as the Union Home Secretary.

      ❖ Dr.Y. Nayudamma Memorial Award 2014 was conferred on two women scientists- Tessy Thomas (DRDO) and Geeta Varadan (ISRO).

      ❖ Eminent Marathi writer Bhalachandra Nemade was chosen for the Jnanpith Award 2014. He is the 50th recipient of Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary honor.

      ❖ Nobel Economics laureate Amartya Sen has been awarded the inaugural Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2015.

      ❖ Ricky Kej of India won the Grammy award for his album "Winds of Samsara" in the Best New Age Album category.

      ❖ ICICI Bank launched first digital bank in India "Pockets" on a mobile phone.

      ❖ Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Serena Williams of USA won the men's and women's singles titles respectively, in the 2015 Australian Open tennis championship. Indo-Swiss pair Leander Paes and Martina Hingis won the Mixed Doubles title.

      ❖ Virat Kohli became the first Indian batsman to score a century in a World Cup game against Pakistan on February 15, 2015.

      ❖ Kerala hosted the 35th National Games from January 31 to February 14, 2015. Sachin Tendulkar was the brand ambassador. Ammu, the Great Hornbill, was the mascot. Services Sports Control Board (SSCB)
      won 159 medals with 91 gold, 33 silver and 35 bronze and topped the medals tally.

      ❖ Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented Railway budget on February 26, 2015 that did not announce any passenger fare hike.

      ❖ Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Economic Survey 2014- 15 on February 27, 2015. He presented the Union Budget for 2015- 16 on February 28, 2015.

      ❖ The 87th Academy Awards ceremony was held on February 22, 2015. The Best Picture Award was given to "Birdman". Its director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won the Best Director Award. Eddie Redmayne was given the Best Actor Award for "The Theory of Everything" and the Best Actress Award was given to Julianne Moore for "Still Alice".

      ❖ Nobel laureate Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was named as the President of Britain's prestigious Royal Society. He will take up the post on December 1, 2015. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009.

      ❖ IFS officer Vikas Swarup was appointed as the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on March 25, 2015. He is the author of the novel "Q & A" on which the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire was based.

      ❖ Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani was appointed as the Chairman of the Empowered Committee
      of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST) on March 24, 2015.

      ❖ Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir on March 1, 2015. Nirmal Singh of BJP is the Deputy Chief Minister.

      ❖ Aditi Arya of Chandigarh was crowned Miss India 2015. She will represent
      India at the Miss World pageant.

      ❖ The 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) took place in Sendai, Japan from March 14 to 18, 2015.

      ❖ According to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 16, 2015, India is the world’s largest importer of weapons and military equipment.

      ❖ Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar undertook SAARC Yatra and visited four SAARC nations Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from March 1 to 4, 2015.

      ❖ India banned dreaded terror group The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

      ❖ The Supreme Court struck down the centre's controversial decision to grant reservation to the Jat community in jobs and educational institutions.

      ❖ The government has launched a new National Action Plan for Skill Training of Persons with Disabilities on March 21, 2015. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) will be the implementing agency for this Plan.

      ❖ Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar launched a scheme for girl child "Aap ki Beti Humari Beti" with an aim to combat the problem of declining child sex ratio in the state on March 8, 2015. March 8 is International Women’s Day.

      ❖ Maharashtra government launched "Bhagyashree" scheme for girls on March 8, 2015. Bollywood actress
      Bhagyashree is the brand ambassador.

      ❖ The indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile, Astra, was launched from
      Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft on March 18, 2015.

      ❖ The 8th edition of India-Nepal combined exercise Surya Kiran VIII was held at Salijhandi in Nepal.

      ❖ India launched its fourth navigation satellite on March 28, 2015. The PSLV-C27 ejected the 1,425 kg IRNSS-1D.

      ❖ Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook a five-day tour of three Indian Ocean countries Seychelles,
      Mauritius and Sri Lanka from March 10 to 14, 2015.

      ❖ As per the IntelCenter's "Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries" list released in March 2015, Pakistan is the eight most dangerous country. The list is topped by Iraq.

      ❖ The President Pranab Mukherjee conferred country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on March 27, 2015. Educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya was honored with Bharat Ratna posthumously on March 30, 2015.

      ❖ Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been selected for the Gandhi Peace Prize for the
      year 2014.

      ❖ Veteran actor and film producer Shashi Kapoor has been named
      for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2014. He is the 46th film
      personality to receive India's highest award in cinema.

      ❖ Former Union Minister Veerappa Moily was selected for the Saraswati Samman for 2014 for his
      Kannada book "Ramayana Mahanveshanam".

      ❖ John Nash and Louis Nirenberg of USA shared the 2015 Abel Prize for Mathematics. The prize was announced by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters.

      ❖ Rajendra Singh of India won the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize. He is popularly known as
      "Waterman of India". He is an eminent water conservationist from Rajasthan.

      ❖ Indian ecologist Madhav Gadgil has won the Tyler Prize 2015 for environmental achievement. He shared the prize with American marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco.

      ❖ National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has linked 15 crore Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)
      accounts with the Aadhaar numbers.

      ❖ Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth won women's and men's singles titles in the Indian Open Badminton
      Championship in New Delhi on March 29, 2015.

      ❖ K. Srikanth of India won the Swiss Grand Prix Gold Badminton Championship title in Basel on
      March 15, 2015. He beat Viktor Axelson of Denmark in the final.

      ❖ Carolina Marin of Spain won the All England Badminton Championship women's singles title by defeating Saina Nehwal in the final on March 8, 2015. Saina is the first Indian woman to reach the final.
      Men's singles title was won by Chen Long of China.

      ❖ Services beat Punjab to win the Santosh Trophy football championship in Ludhiana on March 15, 2015.

      ❖ Karnataka clinched their eighth Ranji Trophy cricket title by defeating Tamil Nadu in the final in
      Mumbai on March 12, 2015. Karnataka retained the Irani Cup also by beating Rest of India on March 20, 2015.

      ❖ Former Sri Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka was conferred the highest military rank of Field
      Marshal by the Government of Sri Lanka.

      ❖ Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister, passed away on March 23, 2015.

      ❖ India launched a massive air and sea operation-"Operation Raahat"- to evacuate over 4,000 Indian
      nationals from Yemen in April 2015.

      ❖ Tennis star Novak Djokovic and athlete Genzebe Dibaba were named Laureus Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year on April 15, 2015. The German football team was named "World Team of the Year".

      ❖ Sachin Tendulkar was inducted as a Laureus World Sports Academy member.

      ❖ Former Chief Minister of Odisha J.B. Patnaik died on April 21, 2015. He was also the former Governor
      of Assam.

      ❖ Former Nepal Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa passed away on April 15, 2015.

      ❖ German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass died on April 13, 2015. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. His most famous book is "The Tin Drum".

      ❖ Former Australia Cricket captain and renowned commentator Richie Benaud died on April 10, 2015.

      ❖ Ace Indian mountaineer Malli Mastan Babu who went missing in the Andes Mountains on March 24 was
      found dead on April 4, 2015.

      ❖ Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA Bank) on April 8, 2015. It is set up with a corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore.

      ❖ RBI approved the merger deal between Kotak Mahindra Bank and ING Vysya Bank.

      ❖ Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy was won by Gujarat on April 7, 2015. It beat Punjab in the final.

      ❖ New Zealand lifted the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey tournament after defeating Australia in the final in Malaysia.

      ❖ Chris Gayle of West Indies became the first batsman to make double century in ICC World Cup history on February 24, 2015. He scored 215 runs against Zimbabwe. New Zealand's Martin Guptill hit the highest score of 237 in ICC World Cup. He achieved this feat against the West Indies on March 21, 2015.

      ❖ Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka became the first batsman to score four consecutive One Day International centuries. He created this record in the 11th ICC World Cup.

      ❖ Viswanathan Anand was granted the honor of having a minor planet named after him on April 1, 2015.
      It is called 4538 Vishyanand.

      ❖ Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai won the Man Booker International Prize for 2015. This prize is given every two years. Indian author Amitav Ghosh is one of the ten short listed authors.

      ❖ David Cameron became the Prime Minister of United Kingdom for the second term on May 8, 2015. David Cameron-led Conservative Party won 331 seats out of total 650 seats in House of Commons.

      ❖ J. Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time on May 23, 2015.

      ❖ Actor Mukesh Khanna was appointed as the Chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India (CFSI).
      He is known for his iconic role as Shaktimaan on Television.

      ❖ Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev won his fifth successive term in the Presidential election. Karim Masimov is the Prime Minister.

      ❖ Indian-American Vivek Murthy was sworn in as the US Surgeon General. He is the youngest ever in-charge of America's public health.

      ❖ Neel Mukherjee's "The Lives of Others" won the UK's Encore Award for the best second novel on May 12, 2015.

      ❖ UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for 2015 was awarded to Mazen Darwish, a Syrian journalist.

      ❖ Two Indians Ananda Kumar and Pramod Patil were awarded the Whitley Awards, dubbed "Green Oscar", for their contribution to wildlife conservation.

      ❖ Siddhartha Gigoo won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asian region for "Umbrella Man".

      ❖ Aruna Shanbaug, a former hospital nurse, brutally raped in 1973, died on May 18, 2015. She was at the centre of euthanasia or mercy killing issue.

      ❖ The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia Ebolafree on May 9, 2015.

      ❖ Francois Hollande visited Havana on May 10, 2015, the first French President to visit Cuba in more than a century.

      ❖ Seychelles became the 161st member of World Trade Organization (WTO) on April 26, 2015.

      ❖ India ranked at a low 100th position on global Human Capital Index 2015. Finland topped the 124 nation list.

      ❖ Switzerland topped the World Happiness Index 2015 and India ranked 117 out of 158 countries.

      ❖ India signed an agreement with Iran for the development of Chabahar Port on May 6, 2015. It will give India sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

      ❖ Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani visited India from April 27 to April 29, 2015.

      ❖ India assumed Presidency of the 68th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the top decision making body of the World Health Organization (WHO).

      ❖ The Union Cabinet cleared the "Namami Gange" integrated conservation mission to clean river Ganga on May 13, 2015. Budget allocated is Rs. 20,000 crore for the next 5 years.

      ❖ The Lok Sabha passed the Goods and Services Tax Constitutional (122nd Amendment) Bill on May 6, 2015. GST is proposed to be implemented from April 1, 2016. It will subsume excise, service tax, state
      VAT, entry tax, octroi, etc.

      ❖ Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda launched "Kayakalp" –an initiative for awards to public health facilities.

      ❖ Nadia in West Bengal became the first Open Defecation Free (ODF) district in India. Nadia has more than 3.47 lakh toilets.

      ❖ Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) won the Asian Banker Achievement Award 2015 for Technology Implementation in the category of Best Outsourcing Project (New Bank). The award was received by Usha Ananthasubramanian, CMD of BMB in Hong Kong.

      ❖ Bilateral naval exercise SIMBEX- 15 between India and Singapore was held from May 23 to 26, 2015 in Singapore.

      ❖ The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was presented with the 2015 Freedom of Expression Courage Award of the PEN American Centre at the American Museum of Natural History.

      ❖ Four Indians have been named in Forbes magazine's 12th annual list of World's 100 Most Powerful
      Women. They are- Arundhati Bhattacharya (SBI Chairperson), Chanda Kochchar (MD and CEO of ICICI
      Bank), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (MD of Biocon) and Shobhana Bhartia (Chairperson of Hindustan Times
      Group). The list is topped by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.

      ❖ China defeated Japan in the final of the Sudirman Cup badminton tournament in Dongguan, China on May 17, 2015.

      ❖ Mohun Bagan won the I-League football title on May 31, 2015. Bengaluru FC ended as runners-up.

      ❖ The trial of Pinaka Mark-II missile cum multi barrel rocket launcher system was successfully conducted at Pokhran on May 30, 2015.

      ❖ The Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three Asian nations i.e. China, Mongolia and South Korea
      from May 14 to 19, 2015.

      ❖ Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the New Bank Note Paper Line unit of 6,000 metric tonne capacity at Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.

      ❖ India topped in World Hunger List with around 194 million people according to a UN report.

      ❖ Maharashtra Government has launched Swachhata Saptapadi Scheme on the lines of Union Government's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

      ❖ Former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo succeeded Amartya Sen as the Chancellor of Nalanda University in Bihar.

      ❖ S. Christopher is the new Director General of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). G. Sateesh Reddy is the new Scientific Advisor to the Defense Minister.

      ❖ Veteran actor Michael Douglas received the Genesis Prize on June 18, 2015. This prize is nicknamed "Jewish Nobel Prize".

      ❖ Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar of Aam Aadmi Party was arrested for possessing fake academic documents on June 9, 2015. Later he resigned.

      ❖ Sepp Blatter resigned as the President of FIFA on June 2, 2015, four days after being elected to a fifth term.

      ❖ Sister Nirmal Joshi, who succeeded Mother Teresa as the head of the Missionaries of Charity, died on June 23, 2015.

      ❖ K.V. Chowdary, former Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), was appointed the
      new Central Vigilance Commissioner on June 8, 2015. He is the first
      non IAS to head the Central Vigilance Commission. Indian Bank CMD T.M. Bhasin was appointed the Vigilance Commissioner.

      ❖ Repo Rate: 7.25% Reverse Repo Rate: 6.25% Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): 4% Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): 21.5%

      ❖ Britain celebrated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta accord on June15, 2015.

      ❖ China unveiled the world's first facial recognition ATM on June 1, 2015.

      ❖ The first International Yoga Day was celebrated on June 21, 2015. 192 countries celebrated.

      ❖ The 41st G7 Summit was held in June 2015 in Krun city in Germany.

      ❖ Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland beat Novak Djokovic of Serbia to win his first French Open singles title. Serena Williams of USA defeated Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic to win the women's singles title of French open.

      ❖ Australia won the ICC World Cup for the fifth time beating New Zealand by seven wickets in the final in Melbourne on March 29, 2015. James Faulkner of Australia was declared the Man of the Final and Mitchell Starc of Australia the Player of the Tournament.

      ❖ IPL 8 Mumbai Indians clinched their second Indian Premier League (IPL) title defeating ChennaiSuper Kings by 41 runs in the final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24, 2015.

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