Current Affairs Current Affairs - 30 March 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 30 March 2018

General Affairs 

Chandrayaan-2 Among 10 Very High Profile Missions This Year, Says ISRO Chairman
  • ISRO has lined up a host of "very high profile missions," including Chandrayaan-2 and demonstration of human space programme this year, the space agency's chairman K Sivan said today.

    "Lot of work is in front of you (scientists). Definitely you will be doing it. I do not have any doubt on that... the missions we are planning this year, all 10 missions are very high profile missions," Mr Sivan said.

    Mr Sivan was addressing the scientists at the Mission Control Centre after the successful launch of the communication satellite GSAT-6A onboard Geosynchronous rocket GSLV-F08 from the spaceport.

    Listing the missions, he said "Chandrayaan-2 is going to land on Moon and rover will be roving on the Moon."

    "Then we are going to have (launch of) high power, high bandwidth communication satellite to provide high bandwidth connectivity to remote places of India.

    "We are going to have one demonstration of human space programme technology development also (this year)," he said.

    ISRO had said recently that the launch of India's second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, slated for next month, has been put off to October as some tests have been suggested by experts.

    Mr Sivan said ISRO would also launch a couple of remote sensing satellites including IRNSS-1I over the next few weeks.

    GSLV-FO8 Mission Director Mohan said today's successful launch was a very significant milestone in GSLV programme as the new technologies would lead to enhancement of payload to more than 2.5 tonnes in near future.

    "The thrust uprightment of the second stage and full utilisation of cryostage propellant are two significant technologies demonstrated today," he said.

Supreme Court Collegium Breaks Traditions, Interacts With To-Be High Court Judges
  • In an apparent effort to ward off criticism of opaqueness, the Supreme Court collegium has broken the tradition by interacting with as many as 12 lawyers and trial court judges who were recommended for appointment as permanent judges in the Calcutta and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.

    The top court collegium, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and two senior-most judges justices J Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi, created a history of sorts by conducting an informal interview of the persons who were shortlisted by the respective High Court collegiums.

    The Supreme Court collegium considered various materials, including the views of the state Chief Ministers as forwarded by their respective Governors and the Intelligence Bureau reports.

    "Apart from this, we invited all the recommendees with a view to have an interaction with them," the collegium noted in its decision.

    For the Calcutta High Court, the collegium has recommended the names of five advocates -- Biswajit Basu, Amrita Sinha, Dr Sutanu Kumar Patra, Abhijit Gangopadhyay and Jay Sengupta.

    It has recommended the names of advocate Sanjay Dwivedi, and four judicial officers -- Akhil Kumar Shrivastava, Brij Kishore Shrivastava, Rajendra Kumar Shrivastava and Mohd Fahim Anwar, for appointment as permanent judges in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

From 2022, High-Speed Bullet Train From Mumbai To Ahmedabad Every 20 Mins
  • The dream of India's first high-speed bullet train which would run between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is close to becoming a reality. The operations for this ambitious project will commence as soon as 2022, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has said. The train will have 10 coaches, a seating capacity of 750 passengers and will leave Mumbai for Ahmedabad every 20 minutes. 

    The announcement was made by the railway minister on Twitter today.

    India Gears Up For Bullet Train: The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed bullet train to commence operations from 2022. The train will leave every 20 minutes from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and have 10 coaches with the seating capacity of 750 passengers.

    — Piyush Goyal Office (@PiyushGoyalOffc) March 27, 2018

    The high-speed bullet train aims to reduce the travel time from Mumbai to Ahmedabad to just three hours. It currently takes seven hours to cover the 500 kilometre journey by train. 

    The bullet train will halt at 12 stations. 

    The land for the project, which was launched last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, has already been bought and the process of designing of bridges and tunnels has been initiated. 

    Though many are excited about the launch of this high-speed train, it has gathered a lot of criticism too, especially from opposition parties. 

    The biggest attack, though, from came from BJP ally Shiv Sena, following the stampede on the foot over-bridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations in Mumbai in September last year. 

    "How come the central government didn't have money to spend on a bridge used by poor commuters but gave Rs. 30,000 crores in one day" for the bullet trains," the Sena had said. 

    As a comeback to those opposing the project, Prime Minister Modi had said "those opposing the bullet train project should travel on bullock carts."

1.3 Lakh A Day? Devendra Fadnavis Must Explain "Chai Pe Kharcha": Congress
  • The Congress has alleged a 'chai scam' in Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's office after an RTI reply showed a surge in the money spent on serving tea. The RTI or Right To Information petition was filed by youth congress leader Nikhil Kamble. 

    "The Chief Minister is only doing chai pe charcha (a term coined by the BJP for its hugely successful voter outreach in 2014 inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tea-selling past) but no real work," said Mumbai Congress Chief Sanjay Nirupam.

    According to an RTI query, the amount spent on tea in the office of Devendra Fadnavis in 2016-17 was Rs. 1,20,92,972. That amount jumped to Rs. 3,34,64,905 the next year.

    The amount spent on tea every month was Rs. 27,88,742, which translates to Rs. 92,958 a day. 

    Mr Nirupam said: "If the cost of tea is Rs. 5 per cup, then 18,591 cups of tea was consumed - if we are to go by the figure."

    If there are 252 working days in a year, taking into account holidays and weekends, then Rs. 1,32,801 was spent on tea per day. And if the cost of tea is Rs. 5 per cup then 26,650 cups of tea were consumed, according to the RTI information, Mr Nirupam goes on to calculate.

    "It's a scam. How is it possible that so many cups of tea were consumed?" said the Mumbai Congress chief, demanding an investigation into the "chai pe kharcha". "Tea was not served but only bills were generated," he alleged. 

    The BJP retorted that the increased spending on tea was a measure of the Chief Minister's greater popularity compared to Congress ministers in the past.

    Besides, it's not just tea, added BJP leader Ram Kadam. "This amount includes the cost of tea, snacks, bouquets and mementoes for guests who visit the Chief Minister," he told reporters. 

    Mr Kadam offered another reason for the hike in tea bills for the Chief Minister's office.  "Earlier all departments used to pay for tea and snacks expenses for meetings. Now for all meetings held in the CM's office, the bills are paid by the CM's office," he told reporters. 

India's New Satellite To Boost Armed Forces, Help Moon Mission
  • India's very powerful, home-made communications satellite shot off into the blue sky today, leaving a smoky trail, on the back of the heavyweight GSLV rocket. The successful launch by the scientists of space agency ISRO drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 2066-ton satellite, built at a cost of Rs. 270 crore, will be able to send and receive signals from hand-held devices. It is expected to be particularly useful for security forces stationed in the remotest corners of the country. The rocket also has a special feature -- a new engine, which, if successful, will be crucial for India's second Moon mission.

    Here are the top 10 updates in the GSAT-6A launch:
    Congratulating the scientists, PM Narendra Modi tweeted, "GSAT-6A, a communication satellite, will provide new possibilities for mobile applications. Proud of @isro for taking the nation towards new heights and a brighter future".

    The GSAT-6A carries one of the largest antennas that has been built by ISRO, said its former chairman Kiran Kumar. The antenna, which has a diameter of 6 meters, will open up like an umbrella once the satellite is in orbit.

    The huge size of the antenna gives it more power, which ensures that a two-way exchange of data, voice or video, can be carried out through small hand-held devices from any corner of the country.

    The hand-held devices are still being fine-tuned by the defence development agency DRDO. The DRDO hopes to manufacture a number of such devices, which will be given to security personnel deployed in remote areas.
    Around 400 scientists and engineers were called in to help with the launch, which took place from Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Center, located on the coast near Chennai.

    The GSLV rocket, which will carry up the communications satellite, was dubbed the "Naughty Boy" by ISRO scientists. The 416-plus ton rocket has had a patchy record, with four of its 12 flights ending in failure.

    The Vikas engine, for which scientists have high hopes, was named after Vikram Sarabhai, who was considered the father of India's space programme. Vikas is an acronym for Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai.

    For this journey, the engine, which works on liquid propellants, was used in the second stage to give the rocket a higher thrust.

    This was the first time all three operational rockets of ISRO were on the launch pad in a state of readiness. In the middle of April, ISRO hopes to launch a PSLV with a navigation satellite.

    In future, the Vikas engine may become the mainstay of Indian rockets. Depending on its performance, it could even be deployed when India hoists the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Business Affairs

India to reap benefits of reforms in next two years: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
  • India will reap benefits of the structural and institutional reforms in the next couple of years and the clearance for amendments to the new Medical Council Bill will create a large number of jobs, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said today. The government has taken huge amount of structural reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Kant said at the India Economic Conclave hosted by Times Network here today. “We have pushed for a lot of institutional reforms like yesterday the Cabinet passed a new Medical Council Bill. I believe this is going to create a large number of jobs in education and health,” he said.

    The results of these institutional and structural reforms will be seen in the next couple of years, he said, adding that the government has an agenda for a big push for this kind of changes in the economy. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday approved amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, including removing of the contentious provision of bridge course, which would have allowed practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy.

    It also approved that the final MBBS examination will be held as a common exam throughout the country and will serve as an exit test to be called the National Exit Test (NEXT).

    Thus, students would not have to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to get licence to practise and ‘NEXT’ would serve as the screening test for doctors with foreign medical qualifications in order to practice in India. India has opened up its economy in a big way and it today attracts the highest foreign direct investment, Kant said.

Soon, ride a new Indian Railways toy train at Rewari loco shed
  • Tourists and locals would soon be able to enjoy a ride on a new toy train at the Rewari loco shed in Haryana, as part of the Railways’ efforts to develop it as a tourist hotspot, officials said today. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who visited the Rewari section, took the decision that that the visitors have to pay a nominal ticket charge to enjoy the ride on the toy train, which would be just like the one that runs at the National Rail Museum at Chanakyapuri, officials said.

    Lohani said that the electrification of the Rewari station will be completed by May 2018. Rewari is a significant section for railways as the national transporter is planning a first-of-its-kind railway heritage theme park there as part of the Bharat Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, officials said.

    Lohani also finalised the details of running a steam engine between Faruknagar and Garhi, which has been a long term demand of the locals there. Lohani also cautioned railways staff to keep their focus on work despite four back to back government holidays. Starting with Ram Navami today, government employees have off days for Good Friday tomorrow followed by the weekend. “It is essential that the focus on safety must not be lost.

    The consecutive four-day office holiday should not result in any laxity in safety measures. Every officer must discuss this aspect with his subordinates in his jurisdiction. We are a 24×7 organisation and must be alert all the times,” he said in a message to all railway staff. Lohani has been travelling extensively across the railway network inspecting and reviewing divisions almost every week. Today, Lohani met the Kerela Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here and then left for the inspection of the Rewari section.

Unemployment major challenge for India but reforms would create jobs, says IMF
  • Acknowledging that unemployment is a major challenge that India is facing currently, the IMF today exuded confidence that the reforms being carried out in India in the last few years would end up creating new jobs in the country. “Clearly India faces a challenge in terms of providing sufficient employment for a number of people looking for work and particularly young people. But yes, the measures and the reforms that India is undertaking will over medium term create jobs,” the International Monetary Fund spokesperson, Gerry Rice, told reporters at a news conference here. Noting that India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in recent times, he said this has led to improvement in reducing poverty and improvements in living standards. “Our view is that recent reforms, particularly the implementation of GST, national goods and services tax, should help boost efficiency and productivity and overtime will contribute to help them create jobs in the formal sector,” Rice said when asked if India is experiencing jobless growth.

    In addition, the government recently took steps towards labor market flexibility by modifying labor rules. “We think that these reforms will help to increase employment, perhaps not overnight but over the medium term,” he said. And the continuation of micro economic policies, structural forms including reforms in the labor market, will not only boosts India’s long-term growth but create jobs as well, Rice said. “So we think, all of this will help to spur India’s continuing catch up with advanced economies and create many jobs that are needed to employ people who are going to labor force,” Rice said.

Deadline for claiming transitional credit extended, Apr-June GSTR-1 dates notified
  • The government has extended the date for filling up a form for claiming transitional credit by three months till June 30. Also, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has notified the deadline for businesses to fill up final sales return form GSTR-1 from April to June. The CBEC has notified the extension of date till June 30 for submitting Form GST Tran-2. It is a transitional form in which businesses have to disclose the deemed credits claimed by them on stock as on the date of implementation of GST.

    “This extension is expected to bring substantial relief to traders who were struggling with system issues for filing the said form,” EY Partner Abhishek Jain said. PwC’s Partner and Leader Indirect Tax Pratik Jain said, this extension is a major relief for the industry, “specifically for those who have to claim deemed credit of opening stock as on July 1, 2017, which have been sold till December 31, 2017.”

    Besides, giving effect to the decision by the GST Council earlier this month, the CBEC has notified the dates for filing GSTR-1. The Council had decided to continue with the present system of return filing till June. Accordingly the GSTR-1 for April will have to be filed by May 31, while that for the month of May by June 10.

    For the month of June, it has to be filed by July 10. “The due dates for filing of GSTR-1 for the months of April, May and June have been significantly curtailed from earlier 40 days to 31 days for April and 10 days for May and June. The businesses now would need to be quite proactive in collation of data and filing of returns within the curtailed timelines,” Jain said.

    He said the dates for filing of GSTR-1 indicates that the monthly return cycle shall soon be back in track. “It may be noted that for these two months, GSTR-3B (summary return) needs to be filed by 20th of the succeeding month, i.e. post filing of Form GSTR-1, which was happening other way round till date. The industry now needs to gear up with monthly compliances and undertaking the reconciliation exercise beforehand,” Jain said.

Another good news after 7th Pay Commission! Modi govt notifies doubling of limit of tax-free gratuity to Rs 20 lakh in private sector
  • The government today notified doubling of the limit of tax-free gratuity to Rs 20 lakh in private sector. The notification follows changes in the Payment of Gratuity Act which had empowered the government to fix the ceiling of the retirement benefit through an executive order.

    The amendment bill approved by Parliament earlier in the month had also empowered the government to fix the period of maternity leave.

    Accordingly, the central government has fixed the total period of maternity leave in the case of a female employee to 26 weeks.

    After implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission, the ceiling of tax-free gratuity amount for the central government employees was increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. The unions have been demanding for inclusion of the change in the Payment of Gratuity Act.

    So far, formal sector workers with five or more years of service are eligible for Rs 10 lakh tax-free gratuity after leaving job or at time of superannuation.

    The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, was enacted to provide for gratuity payment to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments.

    The law is applicable to employees, who have completed at least five years of continuous service in an establishment that has 10 or more persons.

    The change with respect to maternity leaves comes against the backdrop of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.

General Awareness

National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)
  • Context: The Union Cabinet has given its approval for restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.

    The approval would lead to restructuring of composition of Board of NSDF and the NSDC to strengthen governance, implementation and monitoring framework.

    About NSDC:

    National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC), established in 2009, is a not- for- profit company set up by the Ministry of Finance.

    The present equity base of NSDC is Rs.10 crore, of which the Government of India through Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) holds 49%, while the private sector has the balance 51%.


    NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions.
    It also provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives.
    Its mandate is also to enable support system which focuses on quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.
    It also develops appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives.

    About National Skill Development Fund:

    The National Skill Development Fund was set up in 2009 by the Government of India for raising funds both from Government and Non Government sectors for skill development in the country.

    A public Trust set up by the Government of India is the custodian of the Fund. The Trust accepts donation, contribution in cash or kind from the Contributors for furtherance of objectives of the Fund.
    The Fund meets its objectives through National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

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