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Current Affairs Power Capsule – April 2015 (The Hindu Review)

1. Senior IPS officer Surender Singh took over as Director General (DG) of central paramilitary force Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

2. Actor and producer Mukesh Khanna was appointed as the Chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India (CFSI). He was appointed by Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as successor of Amole Gupte.
3. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef as the new Crown Prince and as a Deputy Prime Minister.

4. India-born Raja Rajeswari was sworn-in as the criminal court judge of the New York City. With this, she became the first India-born woman judge of New York City.

5. Loretta Lynch was sworn-in as the United States' 83rd Attorney General, the first African American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

6. Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M) unanimously elected Sitaram Yechury as the general secretary of the party. He succeeded Prakash Karat.

7. Dr. Mohan Kumar was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to France. He will succeed Arun Kumar who was appointed Ambassador to the United States.

8. Meenakshi Madan Rai was sworn in as the first lady judge of the Sikkim High Court.

9. Arun Kumar Jha was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

10. Sumit Mazumder was elected as the President of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for the year 2015-16. He succeeded Ajay Shriram.

11. Dr. Nasim Zaidi appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner. Zaidi is the 20th CEC of India and will succeed Harishankar Brahma.

12. Keshari Nath Tripathi was sworn-in as the 16th Governor of Mizoram. He will discharge the functions of the Governor of Mizoram in addition to his own duties as Governor of West Bengal and Bihar.

13. Pedro Cateriano Bellido was appointed as the seventh Prime Minister of Peru.

14. Diplomat Vikas Swarup was appointed as an official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. Swarup is also author of bestseller debut novel Q&A, on which the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire was based.

15. Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani was appointed as the Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST). The post was vacant since the former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Finance Minister Abdul Rahim quit. GST is intended to be implemented from 01 April 2016 as announced by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his 2015-16 budget speech. The Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014 has been pending in the Lok Sabha since December 2014.

16. Ace tennis player Rafael Nadal received the Golden Medal for Merit in Work. Golden Medal is one of the top civilian honours of Spain which aims to highlight an exemplary performance in any job or profession.

17. Prannoy Roy, the Executive Co-chairman of NDTV, was on 30 April 2015 conferred with the Redink Lifetime Achievement Award 2015.

18. Two Indians namely Dr Ananda Kumar and Dr Pramod Patil won the prestigious Whitley
Awards (also known as Green Oscar) for their contribution to wildlife conservation.

19. Srinagar-born novelist Siddhartha Gigoo won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia region for his work Umbrella Man.

20. Margarita, with a Straw directed by Shonali Bose won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the Washington DC International Film festival.

21. Prime Minister Narendra Modi conferred the 50th Jnanpith Award on eminent Marathi litterateur Bhalchandra Nemade.

22. Former Union Finance Minister and veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha was conferred with the Officier de la Légion d’Honneur(Officer of the vLegion of Honour) in recognition of his valuable contribution to thought on international issues.

23. Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor was conferred with the prestigious Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar Award 2015.

24. The President Pranab Mukherjee conferred two Kirti Chakras and eleven Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty. Naib Subedar Kosh Bahadur and Subedar Ajay Vardhan got Kirti Chakras.

25. Bharatiya Mahila Bank won the Asian Banker Achievement Award 2015. It was awarded for Technology Implementation in the category of Best Outsourcing Project (New Bank). The award was received by Usha Ananthasubramanian, the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of BMB at a function held in Hong Kong during the Asian Banker Summit 2015.

26. Indian-origin diplomat Gopinath Pillai was awarded the Outstanding Service Award for his services in Singapore by the National University of Singapore.

27. Mustafa Kamal stepped down as the President of the International Cricket Council.

28. Chhurim Sherpa, first woman to climb the Mount Everest summit twice in a week was in news. Sherpa was in news as during her third ascent to Mount Everest she will take a cricket bat and two jerseys of deceased Australian cricketer Phil Hughes.

29. A well-being warrior, as described by the TIME magazine, Professor Vikram Patel appeared in 2015 Time 100 Most Influential People in the World List.

30. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory named Asteroid 316201 after Malala Yousafzai, the winner of 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

31. Three-year-old archer Dolly Shivani Cherukuri of Andhra Pradesh entered the India Book of Records.

32. Michael Rudenko, a committee member of the Minor Planet Center officially named a minor planet as 4538 Vishyanand, to honour India’s first chess grandmaster, Vishwanathan Anand.

33. Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to India after his three-nation visit to France, Germany and Canada. During his nine-day visit, which took place from 9 April to 17 April 2015, he met leaders of the three nations namely French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Some major agreements include purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets with France, agreement for supply of uranium with Canada for nuclear power plants in India and Airbus plan to come to India and be a part of Make in India initiative. MoUs and agreements signed with France and Germany covered areas like Defence and Nuclear Energy.

34. Ri Su Yong, the Foreign Minister of North Korea, visited India.

35. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited Mauritius as part of his three nation tour to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

36. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar completed his SAARC Yatra of four nations. During the Yatra, he visited four countries namely Afghanistan on 4 March 2015, Pakistan on 3 March 2015, Bangladesh on 2 March 2014 and Bhutan on 1 March 2015.

37. Former Governor of Assam and three-time Chief Minister of Odisha Janaki Ballabh Patnaik died.

38. Former Prime Minister of Nepal, Surya Bahadur Thapa died.

39. Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman and founding father of Singapore died.

40. 19th century Dharahara (Bhimsen) tower at the center of Sundhara in Kathmandu, Nepal was reduced to rubbles after an earthquake of magnitude 7.9 on the Richter scale struck the country. The nine-storey, 61.88-meter-tall (203- feet) tower was a part of the architecture of Kathmandu recognised by UNESCO.

41. Humber Bay Park in Toronto, Canada was in news as Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tributes to the victims of the Air India Flight 182 bombings at the Kanishka Air India Memorial site situated there.

42. The 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held at Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar.

43. India was designated to chair the ninth meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) council. The scheduled meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates.

44. Japanese bullet train Maglev created a new world speed record of 603 kilometer per hour
(kmph) in a test run near Mount Fuji. Central Japan Railway said that the train hit a top speed of 603 kilometer per hour (375 miles per hour) in a test run.

45. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the Vividh Bharati Service of Delhi on FM Mode.

46. India launched a relief and rescue Operation named Maitri in earthquake hit Nepal.

47. Green Bonds were in news recently as Union Government plans to push for it to meet its target to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power and 60000MW of wind power by 2022 for which it needs 200 billion US dollars.

48. Net neutrality also known as Internet neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. Till 14 April 2015, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India received over three lakh e-mails which were sent in response to a consultation paper released on 27 March 2015 on revamped regulatory framework for the Over-the-top (OTT) services. The paper proposed that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can impose differential charges on applications like Whatsapp and Skype which are providing voice, text services, etc by using the Internet infrastructure provided by them. On 14 April 2015, Indian e-commerce major Flipkart pulled out of discussions with Airtel for joining the Airtel Zero programme which allows users to access those internet based applications which are registered with Airtel without paying any data charges.

49. Operation Raahat was in news as India launched a massive air and sea operation to evacuate over 4000 Indian nationals from Yemen.

50. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted a miniature painting titled Guru Nanak Dev to Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

51. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented ancient Indian sculpture Parrot Lady to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

52. A painting titled Tree of Life was gifted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to French President Francois Hollande during his visit to France.

53. The President of India Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first ever Songs and Dances of Northeast event in New Delhi.

54. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi released a book titled Pre-Modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages transcribed and edited by Ashok B. Rajeshirke.

55. Vice President of India Hamid Ansari released a book titled Aatank Ke Saaye Men written by Garima Sanjay.

56. Food for All: International Organizations and the Transformation of Agriculture written by Uma Lele was in news.

57. Novel titled Family Life written by Akhil Sharma was in news recently because for this novel the author won the Folio Prize for fiction for the year 2015.

58. The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry formed an expert committee under the chairmanship of Ajay Shankar to suggest simplified compliance for establishing new industries.

59. The Ministry of Railways appointed Ajay Shankar committee to review the performance of the Public Private Partnership cell functioning under the Railway Board.

60. Indian Coast Guard held a security exercise, Theera Veeta, in the Arabian Sea.

61. The 14th edition of Indo-French Naval Exercise named VARUNA-15 commenced off the coast of Goa.

62. The First ship of Project-15B, a Guided Missile Destroyer Visakhapatnam was launched on 20 April 2015 at Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai.

63. The Surface-to-Surface Agni III ballistic missile was successfully test-fired from the Wheelar Isalnd off the Odisha coast in the Bay of Bengal. Although the missile has a strike range of more than 3000 km.

64. Surface-to-Surface nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile with a range of 350 Km was successfully test-fired from a naval ship off the Odisha coast.

65. Earth Hour 2015 was observed globally on 28 March 2015 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time. The tagline for the global campaign was Change Climate Change. This was the ninth edition of the Earth Hour that started in 2007.

66. A high-intensity earthquake of magnitude 7.9 on the Richter scale struck Nepal on 26 April 2015. The epicenter of the quake was 80km east of Pokhra near Kathmandu, Nepal at a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles).

67. Union Cabinet approved Smart Cities Mission for development of 100 smart cities and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) of 500 cities with outlays of Rs 48,000 crore and Rs 50,000 crore respectively. Each selected city under the ambitious scheme would get central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years. AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

68. Projecting a growth rate of 7.5 per cent for 2015-16, the World Bank suggested that India should step up economic reforms and encourage domestic companies to become globally competitive. The International Monetary Fund has projected a growth rate of 7.5 per cent for the current fiscal while Asian Development Bank (ADB) puts it at 7.8 per cent for 2015-16 and 8.2 per cent for 2016-17. However, the Finance Ministry expects GDP growth to be 8-8.5 per cent in 2015-16, and the Reserve Bank (RBI) has estimated it at 7.8 per cent.

69. Reliance Power said it has terminated the contract for Rs 36,000 crore Tilaiya ultra mega power project (UMPP) in Jharkhand over inordinate delays in land acquisition.

70. The proposed Bank Board Bureau (BBB) — with a mandate to select public sector bank
(PSB) chiefs, revamp PSB boards and devise consolidation strategies — would have a larger scope than envisaged and will now be Financial Services Sector Board Bureau (FSSBB). The proposed body’s work would start with the insurance sector and then extend to public sector financial institutions (FI) and, later, to the pension sector.

71. Indian Railways started AC double-decker train for Lucknow from New Delhi.

72. India has not fared well in a global ranking of the happiest nations, coming in at the 117th spot out of 158 countries on the index that took into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness. Switzerland has been named the most happiest country in the world.

73. Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from countries such as Mauritius and Singapore, with which India has double tax avoidance agreements (DTAAs), got a window of possible relief from the 18.5% minimum alternate tax (MAT) demands they are facing in India with the government clarifying that treaty benefits would be available to them.

74. China cemented its “all-weather ties” with Pakistan by agreeing to build a strategic USD 46-billion economic corridor through the PoK as part of 51 deals signed. Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled China’s biggest overseas investment – the ambitious 3,000 km-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – during his historic maiden state visit to Islamabad.

75. Terming India’s recently revised gross domestic product (GDP) growth data as “puzzling” and prima facie one with “discrepancies”, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it will send a team of its statistics experts to New Delhi this week to better understand the new methodology of calculation and ensure the data is error-free.

76. A day after notifying the new income tax return form with significant changes like reporting foreign travels and details of all bank accounts, a top finance ministry official said that the new form will be reviewed and revised.

77. India missed the FY15 export target of $340 billion by 8.7% due to a sluggish demand and appreciation of the rupee. Merchandise exports stood at $310.5 billion in FY15, even lower than the $314 billion achieved in the previous fiscal.

78. The National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish an international commodity and derivatives exchange within India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at GIFT City, Gandhinagar.

79. The petroleum ministry has started collecting the $195-million penalty it imposed on Reliance Industries Ltd for producing less natural gas from KG-D6 field.

80. Moving ahead with its strategy of ‘naming and shaming’ large tax defaulters, the Income Tax department came out with a list of 31 defaulters who owe over Rs 1,500 crore to the government.

81. India retained the tag of the world’s largest destination for remittances with a bounty of
$70.4 billion in 2014 World Bank said.

82. Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that a six-member panel headed by AK Bhargava will come out with its report on Net neutrality.

83. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus disclosed plans to raise its Indian outsourcing to $2 billion and its keenness to manufacture in India.

84. France will partner India in a study for upgrading the speed on Delhi-Chandigarh rail line to 200 km per hour and help in redevelopment of Ambala and Ludhiana railway stations.

85. India and France signed 17 agreements, including on the stalled nuclear project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with French President Francois Hollande.

86. The much-awaited Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, received Cabinet nod.

87. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (Mudra) aimed at providing a collateral-free soft loans of up to R10 lakh to small businesses. Mudra, which has a corpus of R20,000 crore, has been incorporated as a SIDBI subsidiary, but would later be converted to a bank.

88. The eight-member panel, headed by economist Bibek Debroy, has suggested constitution of a regulatory authority with quasi-judicial powers for turnaround in the railways.

89. In a bid to boost infrastructure investment, the Reserve Bank allowed banks to invest in long term infrastructure bonds issued by other banks.

90. From 1st April, a platform ticket will cost Rs 10, double than at present, and Indian Railways’ freight rates of various commodities, including pulses and urea, will go up by up to 10 per cent.

91. Aiming to eliminate direct discharge toilets from its entire fleet of passenger coaches by 2020-21, Railways has drawn up an action plan to replace them with environment-friendly bio-toilets.

92. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Manohar Parrikar cleared projects close to Rs 8,341 crore. The DAC gave its approval for buying two Airbus A330 planes for RS 113 crore for the Indian Air Force, the radar for which will come from the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

93. Dassault handed over two upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft to the Indian Air Force at a formal ceremony at the Dassault Aviation Flight Test Centre in France.

94. In a deal of particular significance for the large expatriate community, India and Qatar signed an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons.

95. Rajasthan’s first State-run human milk bank, “Jeevan Dhara”, was inaugurated.

96. Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has decided to increase its stake in State Bank of India’s general insurance arm to 49 per cent from 26 per cent. In January, U.K.’s Bupa Insurance had said that it would raise stake in its Indian health insurance venture, Max Bupa, to 49 per cent from the current 26 per cent.

97. Rajasthan became the first State in the country to fix a minimum educational qualification for contesting elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions. It makes Class VIII pass mandatory for the post of sarpanch — except in tribal reserved areas, where the minimum qualification is Class V — and Class X for Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti elections.

98. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been selected for the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2014 for its contribution to the country’s development through space technology and satellite-based services.

99. The Satish Dhawan Space Centre, located at Sriharikota in Andhra preadesh, launched Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C27). This launch saw injecting the 4th navigation constellation satellite of India into a precise geosynchronous orbit.

100. The Defence Acquisition Council approved the development of an indigenous Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

101. The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the ‘Maitri’ project for the co-development of a Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SR-SAM) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with MBDA of France.

102. Gujarat Assembly passed the landmark Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill 2015. The new Bill is a re-worked version of the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill (GUJCOC), 2003, which was earlier rejected twice by the President due to some of its contentious provisions.

103. The Cabinet approved a proposal to pool or average out prices of domestic natural gas and imported LNG used by fertilizer plants to make the cost of fuel uniform and affordable.

104. Videocon d2h has closed its initial public offer (IPO) process, and is getting listed on NASDAQ in the U.S.

104. Andhra Pradesh government decided to name its capital ‘Amaravati’.

105. The Modi government has set the yearly exports target at $900 billion by 2020..

106. Palestine formally joined the International Criminal Court.

107. The Indian Army is set to take the “Swachh Bharat” campaign to Mount Everest with a mountaineering team planning to clean up and bring down tonnes of garbage dumped there by mountaineers over the decades.

108. Pakistan is set to acquire eight submarines from China for nearly $5 billion.

109. Gujarat stands tops the list of States in the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission, while Odisha has excelled in the construction of community toilets, according to an assessment by the Union Urban Development Ministry for 2014-15.

110. The Centre has given another six months to the States for rolling out the National Food Security Act. Only 11 States and Union Territories have so far implemented the Act which was passed by Parliament in September 2013.

111. Canara Bank is likely to get fund infusion of up to Rs.1,500 crore from the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) next month.

112. The foreign exchange reserves continued their upward momentum, and scaled a new life time high at $341.378 billion.

113. After successful moves to form the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China, along with experts from the Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, is holding talks to form a BRICS rating agency.

114. Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu said that the joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices had decided to complete criminal trials in five years.

115. Government launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) that will put out real time data about the level of pollutants in the air and inform people about the possible impacts on health. New index will initially cover 10 cities — Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

116. Rajeev Shukla was re-appointed chairman of the Indian Premier League Governing Council, a post he held in 2013 before quitting following the spot fixing scandal.

117. Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed six agreements including one on nuclear cooperation.

118. Dena Bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India under the Prime Minister’s Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana scheme.

119. The National Green Tribunal banned all diesel vehicles over ten years old from plying in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

120. The Maharashtra government will set up a memorial to cartoonist R.K. Laxman.

121. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended use of a single number ‘112’ for all emergency services in the country.

122. The U.S. State Department may soon be transferring 1,000 Hellfire missiles to Pakistan.

123. Taking to task the companies without a woman director, SEBI announced a minimum Rs.50,000 fine on them and warned of further action.

124. Moody’s, a global ratings agency, raised India’s rating outlook to “positive” from “stable”, but retained the Baa3 rating.

125. An 11-member international jury has declared Thane the National Earth Hour Capital with the city emerging the winner from India in the Earth Hour City Challenge this year.

126. Citing various grounds for the suspension of registration of Greenpeace India under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and the freezing of its accounts.

127. The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has suspended the Rs. 1,000 minimum monthly pension scheme. the EPFO said it has decided to suspend the scheme in the absence of any direction from the government to continue this benefit beyond March 31.

128. China plans to build a 540-km strategic high-speed rail link between Tibet and Nepal passing through a tunnel under Mt. Everest.

129. IndusInd Bank has agreed to buy Royal Bank of Scotland’s diamond and jewellery financing business in India.

130. After the government’s green light to NRIs to cast their votes from abroad, the Election
Commission has set up a committee of senior officers to consider whether electoral laws can be changed to empower voters who have migrated to other States within the country.

131. The “Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorisation (TVoA-ETA)” scheme, which was launched last year to facilitate short-duration visits by travellers from as many as 44 countries, has now been renamed “e-Tourist Visa” to make it clear that it is not an on-arrival scheme.

132. India and many influential western nations are among the 57 founder members of the $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while the U.S. and Japan stayed away from the China-backed multilateral lender.

133. The Chinese government has issued a white paper on Tibet, which rejected the “middle way” path advocated by the Dalai Lama.

134. After more than four years of orbiting Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft will crash into the solar system’s innermost planet in two weeks when it runs out of propellant.

135. India is the fifth biggest producer of e-waste in the world, discarding 1.7 million tonnes (Mt) of electronic and electrical equipment in 2014, a UN report has warned.

136. India has added 15 more species to the “Red List” of threatened species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014.

137. The government has kept the rate of interest on General Provident Fund contributions unchanged at 8.7 per cent for 2015-16. The rates are effective from April 1. The government recently maintained the rates for the PPF at 8.7 per cent for 2015-16. Interest rates for senior citizens in small savings schemes will now be 9.3 per cent and for the Sukanya Samriddhi Account for the girl child, 9.2 per cent.

138. The Union Cabinet cleared amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act that would allow juvenile aged between 16 and 18 to be tried as adults for heinous crimes such as murder and rape.

139. In a rare action, a private member’s Bill protecting and providing rights for transgenders was passed by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill also guarantees reservation in education and jobs, financial aid and social inclusion. This is the first time in 45 years that a private members' Bill has been passed by the House.