National - 2018 MAY

May 1

New weekly Antyodaya train launched on Durg-Ferozpur route
Antyodaya Express began its service from Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
It is a fully unreserved, well-equipped weekly train between Durg and Firozpur Cantt.
The train features modern coaches, RO drinking water, mobile charging facilities, bio-toilets, LED lights etc.

Army's 'Vijay Prahar' exercise underway in Rajasthan
Objective of this exercise is to fine-tune jointmanship between troops of Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) and maximising the impact of the joint operations
The exercise emphasises on testing fighting capabilities by launching mock offensives with fighting equipment and armed helicopters.
In context of this news, it is important to note that in April 2018, Indian Air Force conducted ‘Gagan Shakti 2018, the biggest ever war combat game exercise along Indo-Pakistan and Indo-China borders.

ISA to create ecosystems for startups in solar innovations
The task force is being chaired by SoftBank Group Corp Chairman & CEO Masayoshi Son.
At the meeting of this task force, convened by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), it was decided to identify six star centres of global excellence.
This task force will also develop an overarching innovation strategy to promote innovation in the areas such as solar finance, technologies and applications.

Maharashtra to get new airport at Sindhudurg
This airport is being constructed under the aegis of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) by IRB Sindhudurg Airport Pvt. Ltd. on a design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) basis.
Estimated cost for constructing this airport is Rs. 520 crore.
Sindhudurg airport will have a 2500-meter runway and in terms of passenger handling capacity, it will be able to handle 200 departing and 200 passengers arriving during peak hours.
Post completion, this airport will provide better connectivity to the Konkan region of Maharashtra, parts of Goa, North Karnataka and Western Maharashtra.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in Varanasi
15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth.
It will be organised by Union Ministry of External Affairs in association with the Uttar Pradesh State Government.
Theme of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be “Role of Indian Diaspora in building a New India”.
Arrangements are being made in such a way that visiting Indian Diaspora will get an option to first participate in the Kumbh Snan (in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh) and then travel to New Delhi to be part of the Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2019.

'Go to Village' mission launched in Manipur
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh launched 'Go to Village' mission throughout the state from Konuma ground.
The mission was launched in 60 villages of all the 60 Assembly constituencies.
The Chief Minister informed that the mission is aimed at identifying the eligible and deserving beneficiaries in every corner of the state and delivering government services at their doorstep.

NDMA conducts workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction database
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is conducting a two-day National Workshop on Data Requirements for Disaster Risk Reduction Database beginning. The workshop is being held in collaboration with United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
India often refers to global databases and snapshots of disaster events for reporting disaster losses. However, these databases work under various limitations and are not able to produce accurate analyses.

May 2

Cabinet Approval On May 2, 2018
Cabinet approves Doubling of Investment Limit for Senior Citizens under Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandan Yojana (PMVVY)
Union Cabinet has given its approval for doubling the investment limit under the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandan Yojana (PMVVY) from Rs 7.5 lakhs to Rs 15 lakhs.
Subscription period for this scheme has also been extended from 4th May 2018 to 31st March, 2020.
Enhancement of investment limit will now enable Senior Citizens to get up to Rs. 10000 Pension per month.
Cabinet approves Mutual Recognition Agreement between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).
Cabinet approves Restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
Union Cabinet has approved the restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) by upgradation, creation and abolition of certain Joint Secretary-level posts and above.
Cabinet approves Cadre review and formation of Group ‘A’ service of the technical cadre of Petroleum & Safety Organization (PESO)
The new service has been named Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS).
This measure will enhance the capacity and efficiency of PESO and it will also enhance career progression of its Group ‘A’ officers.
Cabinet approves construction and operationalisation of 100 bedded General Hospital at Najafgarh, New Delhi
The Project envisages setting up of the 100 bedded General Hospital at Rural Health Training Centre (RHTC), Najafgarh, New Delhi for the local population of 13.65 Lakh spread across 73 villages.
Cabinet approves accession to the Protocol under WHO Framework Convention on tobacco control to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products
The protocol will be applicable to both – smoking and chewing or smokeless tobacco (SLT) forms – adopted under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

Task Force presents its report to Shri Rajnath Singh on Establishment of CDRI
The Task Force constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) presented its report on “Establishing a Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)” to the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. The Task Force was constituted by the MHA with approval of Union Home Minister in August, 2017, headed by Ms. Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs.
The report provides a step-by-step implementation plan and analysis in order to build and operationalise a Coalition. The study includes:
Business case for the coalition
Analysis of best practices of international partnerships in disaster risk and other thematic areas lead by India
Preliminary design of the coalition
Roll – out plan

National Digital Communications Policy 2018: DoT releases draft Telecom policy
The draft of National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2018 aka National Digital Communications Policy 2018 has been uploaded for public consultations on the Department of Telecom's (DoT).
One of the key strategies in the draft talks of recognising spectrum as a key natural resource for public benefit to achieve India’s socio-economic goals, optimise availability and utilisation by making adequate spectrum available to be equipped for the new broadband era.
On spectrum pricing, it there should be optimal pricing of spectrum to ensure sustainable and affordable access to digital communications and simplifying the process of obtaining permissions from various agencies such as Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) and Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation (SACFA) in order to promote efficiency.

President Ram Nath Kovind to preside over PM - headed panel on Gandhi 150th birth anniversary
President Ram Nath Kovind will preside over the first meeting of the national committee for commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi next year.
The Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has on board 114 members including former Prime Minister atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Maharashtra became the first state to provide digitally-signed land record receipts
Maharashtra became the first state to provide digitally-signed land record receipts (also known as 7/12 receipts), which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed would check irregularities and bring in transparency.
The 7/12 receipt is the most important document which establishes the ownership of the land, and is primarily used by farmers while applying for loans. It is also used by the government during crop surveys and to extend various facilities.

Cabinet approves new terminal buildings at Guwahati, Chennai and Lucknow airports
The Union Cabinet approved a sum of Rs. 5,082 crore for the purpose of up gradation and expansion of the airport infrastructure at Lucknow, Chennai, and Guwahati airports.
The Lucknow airport will have an area of 88,000 square meters along with the existing terminal building extending up to 16.292 square meters. The expanded portion will be able to accommodate 2.6 million international and 11 million domestic passengers, as per a press release issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Further, the terminal building is expected to cater to the requirements of passenger growth 2030-31.

Cabinet approves continuation of PMSSY beyond 12th Five Year Plan to 2019-20
In a major boost to expansion of health care infrastructure in the country, the Union Cabinet approved the continuation of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan to 2019-20.
The PMSSY, which is a central sector scheme, aims at correcting the imbalances in the availability of affordable tertiary health care facilities in different parts of the country in general, and augmenting facilities for quality medical education in the under-served states in particular.

May 3

MHA launches online security clearance for visas to attend conferences
Union home ministry took another step towards ease of getting visas by launching online "event clearance system" for grant of security clearance to foreigners wanting to visit India to attend conferences, seminars or workshops.
This will enable the Indian missions abroad to issue conference visa to foreign nationals or delegates intending to attend such events organized by central and state governments, public sector undertakings, central educational institutions, public funded universities, private institutions or NGOs.

Serbia Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic visits Taj Mahal
First Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic is on an official visit to India at the invitation of External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj. He is accompanied by senior officials of his Ministry. The visit of Minister Ivica Dacic is taking place as a part of regular high level exchanges between the two countries, following the visit of the Serbian Prime Minister to India in January 2017.
During the visit, Minister Ivica Dacic had a meeting with EAM Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. The two Ministers discussed a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest. They took stock of progress made in bilateral cooperation in key areas, particularly trade & investment, agriculture & food processing, science & technology, information technology, defence, health & pharmaceuticals, culture and tourism. An Agreement on cooperation in the field of culture, sports, youth and mass media was signed by the two Ministers.

Now pensioners can view passbook using Umang app
Pensioners would now be able to view their pension passbook on mobile phones with the help of Umang app.
Retirement fund body EPFO announced the launch of a facility to extend the special service to pensioners.
Umang app was launched by the government last year and provides access to various government services at one place. It is a common platform for services such as gas booking, Aadhaar, crop insurance, EPF and National Pension System.

Environment ministry bans party poppers
The Union environment ministry has banned party poppers, a popular object which explodes when a string is pulled, stating that the devices pose a serious threat to human health and environment.
Poppers, which are commonly used in parties and other celebrations, are usually charged with an explosive which is activated by pulling a string. The charge blows out some confetti or other materials by emitting a popping sounds.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the plastic glittering material and the other charged chemicals are low intensity explosive and often composed of red-phosphorous, potassium chlorate and potassium perchlorate. “These are harmful to human health and environment. They get mixed with food items and may also cause severe eye trauma or other facial injuries,” the ministry stated.

New Delhi host workshop on Data Requirements for Disaster Risk Reduction Database
The 2-day national workshop on Data Requirements for Disaster Risk Reduction Database successfully concluded in New Delhi. It has set the stage for the creation of a national-level disaster database.
Developing the integrated database with locally obtained and validated data is crucial for tracking the risks and progress towards resilience without which India will not be able to meet its developmental goals. It will also play a vital role in implementing the Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda to address disaster risks.
The workshop was organised by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP and UNISDR. The discussions held at the workshop will lead to the formation of a Steering Group to oversee the setting up of the database, and guiding trainings and capacity building for operating, maintaining, updating and using the database. The group will also identify pilot States and draw a roadmap for implementation of the project.

May 4

Sushma Swaraj meets Northeast CMs on 'Act East Policy'
Ahead of her two-day visit to Myanmar, the gateway to ASEAN and closest to northeastern region that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as the heart of India’s Act East policy, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj interacted with the chief ministers of the eight states of the region.
At the meeting state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put development of Northeast region at the heart of the Act East Policy which has greatly increased people to people contact, trade and other relations with the ASEAN countries.
He elaborated on the positional advantage of the region to become the new growth hub of trade, tourism and cultural exchange taking advantage of over 4500 km of international boundary it shares with neighbouring countries.

HRD Ministry notifies 75 National Resource Centres (NRCs) for online refresher programmes for Higher Education faculty through SWAYAM
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM.
In the first phase, 75 discipline-specific National Resource Centres(NRC) have been identified which are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
A varied set of institutions such as, Centres under the Ministry’s Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) located in Central Universities, IISc, IUCAA, IITs, IISERs, NITs, State Universities.

NWIC setup as a single window source of updated data on water resources
Consequent upon approval of the Cabinet, National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) has recently been created by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation at New Delhi wide notification in 2018.
NWIC would be a repository of nation-wide water resources data and would work as a Subordinate Office under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The centre would be headed by a Joint Secretary level officer.
The management of water resources is a highly complex and tedious task that involves expertise of multidisciplinary domains and depend on historical and real time reliable data and information. For this, the first requirement is to develop, maintain and update regularly a comprehensive “Water Resources Information System” (WRIS) in public domain for awareness and involvement of all concerned for effective integrated water resources management.

GIS technology to strengthen Namami Gange Programme
National Mission for Clean Ganga has brought on board Survey of India, the oldest scientific department in the country set up in 1767, to facilitate the Ganga rejuvenation task by using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Through the project which has been approved in the EC meeting at an estimated cost of Rs. 86.84 crore, NMCG aims to strengthen planning and implementation at national/ state/ local levels.
National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved a project to strengthen State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) of five main stem Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal so that they can frequently verify the quality of water in river Ganga and in case of any discrepancy appropriate action could be taken.

PowerGrid sets Rs. 25,000 crore capex target for 2018-19
Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PowerGrid) has set a capital expenditure target of Rs. 25,000 crore for the financial year 2018-2019. This target was specified in the memorandum of understanding signed by PowerGrid with the Ministry of Power for targets during 2018-2019.
An official statement other targets in the MoU include parameters related to human resources, project management, R&D and innovation and other efficiency and operational performance parameters.
The company owns and operates over 148,800 circuit kilometres of transmission lines, 236 extra high voltage sub-stations with a transformation capacity of more than 322,000 mega volt amp. Availability of this gigantic transmission network has been consistently maintained over 99.5 per cent.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma to inaugurate an extensive exhibition on Indian Civilisation at National Museum, New Delhi.
The Minister of State for Culture (I/c) and Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma will inaugurate in New Delhi the Exhibition ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ - an extensively collaborative effort of the British Museum, London; National Museum, New Delhi; and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai with the active support of the Culture Ministry.
The exhibition chronologically encapsulates the evolution of Indian civilization since antiquity and its interconnectedness with the outside world through a raft of exquisite artefacts from India and abroad. ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ offers insights into two million years of history. It was planned as part of commemoration of 70 years of India’s independence and a year of major cultural exchange between India and the UK (UK/India 2017).

May 5

The First organized census of Indus Dolphins begins in Punjab
The Punjab government along with WWF-India would be conducting the first organized census of Indus Dolphins, one of the world's rarest mammals.
The move is aimed at conservation of the species. The dolphins are found only in India and Pakistan, confined to the 185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike Barrage in India's Beas River in Punjab.
The main aim behind the exercise is to establish the accurate population of the dolphins, in order to plan the conservation of the species accordingly.
It is the first organised census and would be conducted over a period of five days. Previously, the researchers had merely spotted the dolphins.
Niti Ayog inks pact with IBM to develop crop yield prediction model using artificial intelligence (AI)
Niti Aayog and IBM signed a pact to develop a crop yield prediction model using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real time advisory to farmers in Aspirational Districts.
According to the statement, the partnership aims to work towards use of technology to provide insights to farmers to improve crop productivity, soil yield and control agricultural inputs with the overarching goal of improving farmers' incomes.
First phase of the project will focus on developing the model for 10 Aspirational Districts across Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

NITI Aayog seeks World Bank’s help to prevent fraud in AB-NHPM
The NITI Aayog has sought World Bank’s assistance to provide it with information and expertise on fraud detection and prevention to ensure no embezzlement of funds takes place in the Centre’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM).
The World Bank assistance is being taken as it has expertise from its international experience. According to a source in the NITI Aayog, the World Bank by May 15 is likely to submit a report on how other countries where such health insurance mechanism is in place ensures that there there is no fraud or corruption under the scheme.

LPG penetration in Odisha reaches 58.55%: Dharmendra Pradhan
LPG (cooking) Penetration in Odisha has reached to 58.55 per cent, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
"LPG penetration in Odisha has reached to 58.55 per cent by May this year against 20% in June 2014. The Government of India has set a target of providing gas connections to 80 lakh household by the end of December 2018'', the Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat at Mangalajodi in Khurda district organized by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation LtdNSE 1.64% (HPCL).

DEPwD to organise ‘Cochlear Implant Awareness Programme’ in Faridabad
A ‘Cochlear Implant Awareness Programme’ is being organized by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in association with Indian Red Cross Society and Sarvodaya Hospital & Research Centre at Huda Convention Centre, Sector-12, Faridabad (Haryana).
Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment will be the Chief Guest in the programme. The event named Swar Swagtam is of great importance for creating awareness among the public about the Cochlear Implant Programme under ADIP Scheme of the Department.

May 6

PCI rejects World Press Freedom Index citing ‘lack of clarity’
The Press Council of India has rubbished the recently released Press Freedom Index, in which India slipped two places to rank 138th among 180 countries, there was a “lack of clarity” on the inputs that weighed in the rankings which were based on “opinion or perception”.
Published annually by Reporters without Borders (RWB), the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.
The parameters that are evaluated include the level of pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legal framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

Skill India organizes an Ajeevika and Kaushal Vikas Mela in Bhubaneswar
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), together joined hands to amplify the “Gram Swaraj Abhiyaan” of the current incumbent government which is promoting social harmony and awareness around the pro-poor initiatives of the government.
The government has been able to complete 4 successful years of governance, with all the due support from the people of this country. Vision of ''SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas'' is now gradually seeing its impact started this campaign to bring back the focus on our ''Graam'', our villages.
This New India of our dreams can only be a reality if strengthen our villages and our panchayats, the roots of our democracy. And as the Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, it is our endeavor to provide access to quality skill training at the local levels, thorugh both short term courses and long term training as well''.

Gandhinagar team takes initial steps to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis
A key peptide that can be used to develop a new preventive vaccine against leptospirosis has been successfully identified by researchers from the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, Gandhinagar.
Leptospirosis is an emerging tropical infectious disease, and currently there is no preventive vaccine for humans that are available in the market. The researchers used computer-based analysis to study the whole protein set of the bacteria Leptospira interrogans and narrowed the search down to one effective immunogenic protein. This protein was found to be present in almost all the serovars (different types within a species) of the bacteria and can be an effective vaccine candidate against most serovars.

Cultural Festival in Egypt to Commemorate 157th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore
India is organizing a five-day cultural festival in Egypt to commemorate the 157th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. An exhibition on the paintings of Tagore titled ‘Rabindranath Tagore: Rhythm in Colours’ will be held in Giza.
Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore were displayed in an exhibition to commemorate the 157th birth anniversary of the Nobel laureate.
The festival is being organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, the cultural wing of the Indian Embassy in Cairo.

May 7

NITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in India
NITI Aayog and Google signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to work on a range of initiatives to help build the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) ecosystem across the country.
The SoI was signed by Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog and Rajan Anandan, Vice President of Google India and South East Asia.
Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program. These startups will be mentored and coached by Google and its affiliates.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants to have own logo
After three decades of its existence, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has finally decided to have an official logo and called for a national competition for the designing of one and also creating a motto that defines it.
A notice issued by the DGCA its intended to create a logo and motto reflecting its role and functions which could be easily comprehended by the common man. Its vision is to endeavour and promote safe and efficient air transportation through regulation and proactive safety oversight system.
This is not the first time the DGCA has sought to do this. In November 2009, it had considered coining a slogan and creating a logo. But the idea never took off.

Child sexual abuse survivors may lodge complaint till age 25
The Union Women and Child Development Ministry has proposed allowing victims of child sexual abuse to file police complaints till the age of 25. Stating that sometimes authorities don't file complaints of survivors after they turn adults, an, "It is to ensure that no survivor is turned away from lodging a complaint till he/she is 25''.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country
After the launch of the Van Dhan Vikas Kendra at Bijapur by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in April, 2018 and his call to converge Jan Dhan, Van Dhan and Govardhan Schemes, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), Government of India proposes to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country.
Facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, a cluster of 10 SHGs comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each, in the tribal areas. This initiative is aimed at mainstreaming the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.

May 8

Maharashtra government to give Rs. 3-per-litre subsidy to milk producers
The Maharashtra cabinet decided to provide Rs. 3 subsidy for every litre of milk to the co-operative and private producers to manufacture milk powder.
An official in the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) gave this information and the decision was taken to encourage production of milk powder from surplus milk.
The decision will help balance the demand-and-supply of milk and producers can get Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 27 per litre.

First integrated smart cities control centre launched in Madhya Pradesh
In a major step towards realizing the Centre's smart city mission (SCM), the Madhya Pradesh government launched the country's first Integrated Control and Command Centre (ICCC) for all seven smart cities of the state in Bhopal.
The ICCC, installed in a building in Barkheda area of the state capital, would enable the authorities to monitor the status of various smart civic amenities in real-time through the sensors connected to it.
Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna, and Sagar are the seven smart cities under SCM in Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri inaugurated the integrated command centre of the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL).

Third edition of UNPCAP inaugurated in New Delhi
The third edition of the United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP) was inaugurated in New Delhi.
The course, which will be held from May 7 - 25, is being conducted by the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India (CUNPK) in partnership with the United States. The first and second editions of the course were held in New Delhi in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The main aim of the course is to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries.

Delhi Jal Board approves Rs. 5,137 crore budget
A budget of Rs. 5,137 crore for 2018-19 was approved by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the DJB chairperson.
The budget passed by the board includes Rs. 2,350 crore for plan expenses and Rs. 2,787.63 crore for non-plan expenditures, a government statement read. The budget for this financial year was an increase from last year’s Rs. 4,629.12 crore, which was split into Rs. 1,755 crore for plan and Rs. 2,874.12 crore for non-plan expenses.
In addition, the board passed a proposal to lay both feeder mains and distribution mains for Brijwasan and Rajokri underground reservoirs and booster pumping stations, which would “bring about overall improvement in the water distribution system”.

Railways to use AI system to ensure hygienic food on trains
The food served by the Indian Railways "unfit for human consumption", the national transporter has decided to use an Artificial Intelligence system to ensure that hygienic food is served.
As many as 16 kitchens have been equipped with eight CCTV cameras each to track anomalies during the preparation and packaging of meals.

The center approved 'One Stop Centres' for women in 100 more districts
As many as 100 additional districts would have One Stop Centres (OSC) aimed at supporting women affected by violence, as part of plans to cover all districts of the country in due course.
In the Programme Approval Board (PAB) meeting of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 100 additional One Stop Centres have been approved in the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

May 9

NSIC inks MoU with MSME Ministry for FY 2018-19
The National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for the year 2018-19.
The MoU envisages provision of enhanced services by NSIC under its marketing, financial, technology and other support services schemes, for MSMEs in the country. The corporation projects to increase its total business by 21.30 percent from Rs. 22,258 crore in the year 2017-18 to Rs. 27,000 crore in the year 2018-19.
The corporation also projects growth of 15 percent in 'Revenue from Operation' and 22 percent in 'Profitability' during the year 2018-19. NSIC also plans to enhance its activities in the areas of imparting entrepreneurship and skill development training by targeting 15 percent growth in the number of trainees.

Commission approves modern animal-free testing for drugs
In a step that would spare animals from suffering due to drug experiments, the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission has approved modern, animal-free tests for drug manufacturers.
In the 2018 edition of Indian Pharmacopoeia, that provides guidelines on tests for drugs manufactured and marketed in India, the IPC has replaced the pyrogen test carried out on rabbits and the abnormal toxicity test carried out on guinea pigs and mice with tests that can be done in test tubes.

President clears Delhi govt's amendment in Minimum Wages Act
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Delhi government's proposed Bill to amend the Minimum Wages Act under which employers violating labour rules in the city will now face fine ranging from Rs 20,000-50,000 and jail term between one to three years.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal informed that the amended law will act as a "strong deterrent" against the employers who do not pay full minimum wages.
The Department of Law, Justice and Legislative Affairs of the Delhi government has issued a notification, making it mandatory for employers to pay remuneration either electronically or through cheques, except in some special circumstances.

India launches biggest city gas distribution auction
In a major step towards ushering in a clean gas-based economy, India launched its biggest auction of city gas distribution (CGD) networks, offering permits for selling compressed and piped natural gas (CNG and PNG) in 86 geographical areas.
Awards from the 9th CGD licensing round would help bring gas coverage to 174 districts in 22 states and Union Territories, covering 29 per cent of the country's area and 24 per cent of the population, the Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launching the bidding round.
According to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), which organised a roadshow to promote the auction, the ninth bid round is expected to attract investment of Rs 70,000 crore.

Fifteenth Finance Commission constitutes an Advisory Council
The Fifteenth Finance Commission has constituted an Advisory Council to advise and assist the Commission. The role and functions of the Advisory Council will be:
To advise the Commission on any issue or subject related to the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission, which may be of relevance;
To assist in the preparation of any paper or research study which would enhance the Commission's understanding on the issues containing in its ToR; and
To help in broadening the Commission's ambit and understanding to seek best national and international practices on matters pertaining to fiscal devolution and improving the quality and reach and enforcement of its recommendations.

Rs. 1 lakh incentive to SC, ST students in Bihar
The Bihar Cabinet announced a Rs. 1 lakh encouragement incentive for Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe students who clear the UPSC preliminary test.
The Cabinet also decided to provide Rs. 1,000 to each SC/ST student as hostel incentive and free supply of 15 kg foodgrain to the hostels.
The Cabinet approved the decision to give Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 50,000 as encouragement incentive to those SC/ST students who clear the UPSC and the BPSC tests”. The Cabinet also approved 16 decisions of different departments.

SC slams Centre for showing “sheer contempt of court” by not framing Cauvery scheme
The Supreme Court rapped the Central government for showing “sheer contempt of court” by not framing a Cauvery draft scheme but adjourned the case to May, after the Karnataka Assembly elections on May and before the counting of votes.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal asked a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra for 10 days time to add the “finishing touch” to its draft scheme and get the nod of the Union Cabinet.

May 10

Gujarat-Poland sign MoU on organising independence centenary
The department of youth and cultural affairs of the Gujarat government will be co-organisers for the centenary celebrations to mark independence of Poland in Delhi and other parts of the world.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard between the Gujarat government and the Poland government the Polish ambassador to India Adam Burakowski and principal secretary of youth and cultural affairs department V.P. Patel in presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Burakowski had requested the Gujarat government to become the co-organisers of the celebrations under "generations to generations" programme, recalling that during the World War II, King of Jamnagar Digvijaysinh Jadeja had provided shelter to over 600 women and children of the European country.

CM Pema Khandu inaugurates Arunachal's biggest solar plant
Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu inaugurated the state's biggest solar power plant at Energy Awareness Park in the presence of Power Minister Tamiyo Taga.
The plant, with a capacity of 1 MW, was commissioned in April at an estimated investment of Rs 8.50 crore.
The officials of Arunachal Pradesh Energy Development Agency (APEDA), who successfully implemented the project, received accolades from Khandu on this occasion.
The state government has stepped up efforts to fulfill the rural electrification target, set by the Centre, by the end of this year under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).

India's clean energy capacity touches 70 GW: MNRE
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy released data India's installed clean energy capacity has already touched 70 GW and 38 GW is under implementation as per the data compiled till March.
The 70 GW installed renewable energy capacity in the country is double of the capacity four year back. The MNRE also announced that around 56,000 solar power pumps were installed in the last financial year, which is highest ever in a single year.
Commenting on the achievement of renewable energy in the country, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh announced that the "India is progressing fast in the areas of renewable energy and government is committed to meeting target of having 175 GW by 2022".

Union Government Approves green licence plates for e-vehicles
To promote electric vehicles in India, the government has approved green licence plates bearing numbers in white fonts for private e-vehicles and yellow for taxis.
The government also plans to allow youth in the age bracket of 16-18 years to drive electric scooters, besides mandating taxi aggregators to have a certain percentage of e-vehicle fleet.
A notification in this regard will be out in a week’s time, Mr. Gadkari, who has been advocating electric mobility promotion.
The purpose behind distinctive number plates is their easy identification for preferential treatment in parking, free entry in congested zones besides other proposed benefits like concessional toll.

NITI Aayog to announce top 30 innovations of Atal Tinkering Marathon
In an effort to identify India’s best student innovators, Atal Tinkering Labs of the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of NITI Aayog, organized an Atal Tinkering Marathon, a six month long nationwide challenge across six different thematic areas, namely, clean energy, water resources, waste management, healthcare, smart mobility and agri-tech.
From over 650 innovations received, Top 100 were shortlisted based on novelty and prototype functionality. There 100 teams were then given a month to further refine their prototypes and rework their presentations. Following this, their innovations were judged by an esteemed panel of judges including industry and academia experts to select the Top 30 innovations. These top 30 innovations have been identified from 20 different States and Union territories from across India.
5,000 Atal Tinkering labs to be set up by March 2019
To promote innovation among students, the NITI Aayog will set up 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by March 2019 covering all districts in the country.
NITI Aayog had in December selected an additional 1,500 schools for setting up ATLs under the government's flagship programme Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) taking the total number of such labs to 2,441.

Kerala Govt announces a home, Rs 5 lakh for surrendering Maoists
The Kerala government announced a package deal, including a house and lump sum payment of up to Rs 5 lakh, for all those Maoists, who are willing to surrender and reintegrate themselves into the mainstream.
This decision was taken at the cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the main reason for coming out with this package is to help all those who fell into the trap of the Maoists and joined them.

Himachal Pradesh University to be 'disabled friendly'
Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) will soon become the first 'disabled friendly' varsity in the northern region.
Member of Executive Council and Nodal Officer (Disability Affairs), Ajay Srivastava, announced that the university was spending Rs 40 lakh on various facilities for the disabled students.
This will include a separate section of library for the disabled with 13 computers, equipped with talking software and fully accessible web portal. The university community is also sensitized on the issues pertaining to disability.

Haryana to start 31 government colleges for girls
Haryana government has decided to start 31 government colleges for girls from July.
All the 31 colleges, till the time their construction is complete, would function from “vacant buildings of government schools or other organisations” starting July 2018.
Till the construction of college buildings gets completed, these colleges would run in vacant buildings of government schools or other organisations so that girls would not have to travel far places for education.

May 11

Stanford University to partner with UP to combat chronic diseases
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh informed that the United States Stanford University will come in a partnership with the state to combat disease like Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
Sidharth Nath Singh, who headed the high-powered delegation of top state officials to the United States.
He further informed that companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin also want to come to India and build a plant for their air craft’s.

Kerala government to provide free internet to 20 lakh poor families
Moving ahead with its ambitious programme to provide free internet to over 20 lakh poor families, the Kerala government decided to set up a Joint Venture company to launch its new optic fibre pathway.
A cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, accorded sanction to set up the Kerala Fibre Optic Network Limited, the Joint Venture, to implement the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON) project.
The K-FON initiative is being implemented to provide speedy internet connectivity to government offices and educational institutions and also quality internet service to the public at an affordable rate.

Parliamentary panel to look into black money recovery, performance of public sector banks
A parliamentary panel headed by veteran BJP leader Murali Manohar Joshi decided to study the recovery of black money and performance of public sector banks among a host of subjects.
The 30-member Estimates Committee, in a meeting, decided to study a host of subjects related to various ministries in the year 2018-19. As per the memorandum of the committee, the panel will look into the import of uranium for nuclear plants, mining activities and environment, upgrading of India Post offices and the drought situation in the country among other matters.
The panel on estimates, which is also called the continuous economy committee, suggests changes in policy or administrative framework to bring efficiency in expenditure. It has also decided to look into the functioning of the Enforcement Directorate and the recovery of black money, performance of public sector banks, debt recovery tribunals and rural housing fund and review the imports, exports and balance of payments.

India's longest road-rail bridge to be inaugurated by PM Modi this year
In a major boost to defence logistics along the border with China, India's longest road and Railway Bridge connecting Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh is likely to be inaugurated later this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While all the civil work would be completed by July this year, two more months would be needed to finish the electrical and signalling work on the 4.94 km bridge.
The Bogibeel Bridge is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the end of this year.
The bridge, which is the second longest in Asia, has three lane roads on top and double line rail below.

New committee to be formed to review conduct of everyday business in Rajya Sabha
The Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, D.D. Verma, revealed that the Vice President of India and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha- Venkaiah Naidu has directed the formation of a two-member committee to review the rules of the procedures and conduct of business in the House.
The committee will be headed by former Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, Dr. V.K. Agnihotri, with retired Joint Secretary and Legislative Counsel, Ministry of Law and Justice to be the other member.
The Chairman of Rajya Sabha has constituted a 2-member committee to review rules of procedure and conduct of business in the House, particularly those provisions which seem to be inadequate and are not as specific as compared to the rules in Lok Sabha and suggest suitable amendments.

Government issues orders for extending assistance to sugarcane farmers
Due to higher sugar production against the estimated consumption during the current sugar season 2017-18, the domestic sugar prices have remained depressed since the commencement of the season. As a result, accumulated dues of farmers have reached to over Rs. 20,000 crores.
In order to stabilize sugar prices at reasonable level and to improve liquidity position of mills thereby enabling them to clear cane price dues of farmers, Government has taken following steps in past three months:
Increased customs duty on import of sugar from 50% to 100%.
Imposed reverse stock holding limits on producers of sugar for the months of February and March, 2018 to stabilise sugar price.
Government has also fully withdrawn the customs duty on export of sugar to encourage sugar industry to start exploring possibility of export of sugar.

New Projects on priority for developing tourism in NE states
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra singh held a meeting with Tourism and Electronics and Information Technology minister KJ Alphons and discussed proposals for identifying new projects on priority for development of tourism in the North Eastern states.
The Dr. Jitendra Singh announced that the Ministry of DoNER has recommended to the Finance Ministry for higher fund allocation and special package for such projects in the NE region.
The ‘North East Special Infrastructure Scheme (NESIDS), the DoNER Ministry is providing financial assistance for projects of physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity for promoting tourism in the region.

Israel invited to set up units at Hisar aviation hub in Haryana
Haryana has invited the Israeli aerospace industry to set up ancillary units at an aviation hub, which is being set up at Hisar.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, leading a high-level delegation to Israel, met members of Israel Aerospace Industries, who evinced keen interest in the aviation hub and agreed to visit Hisar next month.
The Chief Minister pointed out that the proposed Hisar aviation hub could be made into a manufacturing base for the Israeli aviation industry from where the entire south-eastern market could be served as it enjoyed a strategic geographical location.

May 12

Punjab signs MoU with UK for setting up bio-gas, bio CNG plants
Parties to the MoU are Punjab Bureau of Industrial Promotion (PBIP), Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) and Rika Biofuels Development Ltd UK, while Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) will facilitate the regulatory clearances.
Objective of this MoU is to find viable and sustainable solutions to paddy straw burning, which has become a major environmental concern in Punjab and surrounding region.
As per the terms of the MoU, Rika will build more than 10 bio-CNG plants with a total investment of USD 100-150 million. Intake capacity of each plant will be around 100 MT per day.
As these plants will be based on a new patented anerobic digester concept and straw extruding technology, it would not only promote sustainable agriculture practices by stopping burning which severely damages the soil but will also promote long-term soil health and improve agricultural yield as digestate/ bio manure is rich in organic and inorganic matter.
In addition to this, these projects would create 1000 jobs across the whole operation and supply chain.

Chhattisgarh CM to launch Vikas Yatra
During the course of this Vikas Yatra, Mr. Raman Singh will distribute free pesticides to 5.5 lakh labourers.
He will also give smartphones to 50 lakh families under Sanchar Kranti Yojna.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will also be attending the yatra.
In context of this news, it is important to note BJP leader Raman Singh came to power by defeating Congress in 2013 Chhattisgarh state assembly polls.

Maharashtra signs MoU with Centre's GRIHA council for green buildings
Maharashtra has thus become the first Indian state to sign such MoU with GRIHA.
As per the terms of the agreement, GRIHA Council, would train Maharashtra’s PWD’s civil and electrical engineers and architects to rate government buildings on basis of set parameters
Objective behind this rating exercise is to encourage environment friendly/ green buildings, that are designed, constructed, maintained and demolished using environmentally responsible processes and materials.
GRIHA Council was founded by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi) with support from Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Frozen Semen Station being set up in Maranga,Purnea under the RashtriyaGokul Mission with 100% contribution from the Central Government
Frozen semen station in Maranga, Purnea is being set up at a cost of Rs 64 crore (100% contribution from the Central Government) under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
Launched in 2014, Rashtriya Gokul Mission is geared towards conserving and developing indigenous breeds to increase milk productivity.
Frozen semen station in Purnea will be the first state-of-the-art semen production centre in India.
The station will have a highly modern bull shade, semen processing lab, feed and godown, agricultural equipment, and other facilities.
300 high genetic merit bulls will be kept at the station and 50 lakh semen dose will be produced per year.
This semen station will play an instrumental role in rapidly increasing milk productivity of cows and buffaloes in the state.

Kerala and NTPC sign MoU for increasing solar power generation
The MoU includes an agreement to set up a 15 MW solar power unit at the NTPC
complex in Kayamkulam.
In addition to this, scope for setting up solar plants at reservoirs, open space and top of buildings would also be explored.
Power generated through these projects would be given to KSEB at a rate fixed by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The MoU was signed by KSEB and NTPC officials in presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Kerala Power Minister M M Mani.

J-K government approves scheme for placement of JKPS officers in higher scale
This scheme seeks placement of Jammu and Kashmir Police Service (JKPS) officers in higher scales.
As per the scheme, a junior scale JKPS officer, in the pay band of Rs 9300-34800 with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs. 4800 with 10 years in the junior scale will be eligible for placement in the time scale (non-functional) of Rs. 15600-39100 with GP of Rs 6600 after assessment by the selection committee.
Similarly, a time scale JKPS officer with four years service will be eligible for placement in the selection grade-II (non-functional) of Rs 15600-39100 with a grade pay of Rs 7600 after assessment.

Supreme Court approves scheme to grant compensation to rape & acid attack victims
Under the scheme, a compensation fund will be set up and it would be managed by State Legal Services Authority (SLSA).
Compensation for gangrape victim will be in the range of Rs 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh, minimum compensation of Rs. 4 lakh is to be paid in case of rape or unnatural sexual assault while for acid attack victims minimum compensation will be Rs 7 lakh for total disfigurement and Rs 5 lakh in case of 50% burns.
Most important feature of the scheme is that, grant of monetary relief is not linked with the trial in such cases and the victim can approach the State or District Legal Services Authority for compensation immediately after the incident.

Government departments earmark Rs 16,500 crore for Swachh Bharat Mission in 2018-19
This amount is over and above the budget of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
The Swachhata Action Plan (SAP) 2018-19 was released by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha at a meeting of Union secretaries and senior officials on 11th May 2018 in New Delhi.

Pink booths to third generation EVMs, several firsts in Karnataka elections
From all-women managed ‘Pink Booths’ to the use of third generation Electronic Voting Machines, the assembly elections in Karnataka are marked by several firsts. In a womenoriented step, 450 “pink booths” called ‘Sakhi’ have been set up.
Adding a riot of colours, the EC has set up ethnic polling booths in Mysuru, Chamarajnagar and Uttar Kannada districts where polling booths match the lifestyle of tribal masses living.