IN BRIEF

India has been elected to four key subsidiary bodies of the United Nations’ agency on economic and social issues, continuing its impressive record of winning elections at the world body. India was elected by acclamation, a form of election that does not use a ballot, to the subsidiary bodies of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was also elected, along with 13 other nations, to the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for a three-year term beginning January 2016, and re-elected to the Executive Board of the World Food Programme for the 2016-2018 term along with five other nations. It was also among the 20 nations to be elected to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) for a three-year term, beginning January 2016. India also got re-elected to the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for the term 2016-2019.

India has a low rank of 101 among the 133 countries measured for their social progress, even below some immediate neighbours such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, indicating the level of meeting basic human needs and well-being, among other factors. Conducted by Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit organisation set up in 2012, the index is seen as a measure of relationship between income inequality and social progress by using the commonly deployed Gini coefficient on income inequality. Norway is on the first rank, while the US is placed at rank 16th.

“Operation Rahat” was launched by India to evacuate its nationals from Yemen. India pulled out 5,600 people from the worn-torn country.

The Houthis are followers of the Shia Zaidi sect, the faith of around a third of Yemen’s population. Officially known as Ansarallah (the partisans of God), the group began as a movement preaching tolerance and peace in the Zaidi stronghold of North Yemen in the early 1990s. After some protests pitted it against the government, the group launched an insurgency in 2004 against the then ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh that lasted till 2010. Their opponents view them as a proxy of Shia Iran. The group is hostile to the United States but has also vowed to eradicate al-Qaeda. They participated in the 2011 Arab Spring inspired revolution in Yemen that replaced Saleh with Abdrahbu Mansour Hadi.

World Autism Awareness day is observed on April 2.

A Minor planet, which was one among 6,50,000 such astral bodies in space has named after India’s chess cahampion Viswanathan Anand, as ‘4538 Vishyanand.’ It all began when Michael Rudenko, a committee member of Minor Planet Center, was invited to name this planet. Rudenko, being Chess enthusiast, named it after the five-time world chess champion.

The World Health Day (WHD) 2015 was observed on 7 April 7 with the World Health Organization setting this year’s theme as “From farm to plate, make food safe”, in a bid to bring focus on growing global burden of food borne diseases while also underscoring the need for coordinated cross-border action across the entire food supply chain.

Mission Indradhanush is the flagship programme of the Union government to ensure immunisation of children and pregnant women. It will cover diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.

Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA)) Yojna, launched under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, will provide much-needed financial access to MSMEs, promote growth of small businesses, help boost the country’s GDP and create jobs. In due course, after the Parliament passes the law, it will be converted into a bank. MUDRA will focus on the 5.75 crore self-employed who use funds of ₹11 lakh crore and provide jobs to 12 crore people. The roles envisaged for the proposed MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Bank include laying down policy guidelines for micro enterprise financing business as well as registration of MFIs, their accreditation and rating.

The Art in Island in the Philippines’s capital Manila uses three dimensional replicas of paintings and is rightly dubbed the planet’s “first-ever selfie museum”. The museum not only encourages its visitors in selfie-taking in the premises, they are also invited to touch, play with, and climb on the paintings and sculptures.

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), as India’s first smart city coming up at Gandhinagar is called, will double up as a financial hub, with tax and other breaks to lure banks, brokerages and other businesses. Developed in partnership with IL&FS Engineering and Construction, it aims to compete with India’s own financial capital of Mumbai as well as overseas rivals like Dubai and Singapore.

Internet.org is a partnership between social networking service company Facebook and seven mobile phone companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Microsoft, Opera Software, Reliance and Qualcomm) that aims to bring affordable Internet access to everybody by increasing affordability, increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development of new business models around the provision of Internet access. It aims to provide internet access to a limited portion of the internet for free, included a total of 37 websites or apps other than Facebook. However, according to many critics, the initiative violates net neutrality. Following large-scale protests against breach of net neutrality, several partners of the Indian internet.org program bailed out of the program.

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, according to the ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2014’, compiled by UN think tank United Nations University (UNU). USA and China produced the most e-waste overall in 2014. Japan and Germany were third and fourth, respectively, in the list. Most e-waste in the world in 2014 was generated in Asia, at 16 Mt or 3.7kg per inhabitant. The top three Asian nations with the highest e-waste generation in absolute quantities are China (6.0Mt), Japan (2.2Mt) and India (1.7Mt).

A Japanese maglev that is the fastest passenger train in the world has broken its own speed record. Operator JR Central said the train reached 603 kmph in a test run, surpassing its previous record of 581 kmph set in 2003. The train travelled for about 2 km at a speed exceeding 600 kmph. The Maglev Test Line, near Mount Fuji about 80 km west of Tokyo, is developing technology for use on a future link between Tokyo and Osaka. The magnetic levitation trains hover above rails, suspended by powerful magnets.

World Malaria Day is observed on April 25. World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the 2007 World Health Assembly and is celebrated on 25 April each year. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria control and elimination. The theme for the 2013-2015 campaign is “Invest in the Future. Defeat malaria”.

India has set-up a dedicated mission in Jakarta for dealing with the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

National Panchayati Raj day is observed on April 24.

‘Operation Maitri’ was rescue and relief operation in Nepal by Indian Armed Forces in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

International Dance Day is observed on April 29. Initiated in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute, International Dance Day commemorates the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, a distinguished choreographer that brought about significant reforms in ballet production.

Punjab National Bank has become the first bank to start Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme accounts. Sukanya scheme is only open to girls below 10 years. For 2015, the government allowed a grace period of one year so even girls up to 11 were eligible. The scheme also has a longer tenure and partial withdrawals are allowed only after the child turns 18 or gets married. A parent or legal guardian can open a Sukanya account in the name of a girl. To open an account, one needs to submit a copy of the birth certificate of the child, address proof and identity proof.

Vishwanathan Anand is not the first Indian to have a planet named after him—‘Vishyanand’. Indians are no strangers to having planetary bodies named after them and these whiz kids have had their own planets for a while now: At 16, Hamsa Padmanabhan had a minor planet 21575 named ‘Hamsa’ after her; NASA named a minor planet (5178 No CD4) after Kerala zoology professor Sainudeen Pattazhy for his environmental research and campaigns, including red rain and health hazard of mobile phone towers; In 2010, Vishnu Jayaprakash, then a Chennai Class XII student of Chettinad Vidyashram demonstrated a microbial fuel cell that runs on cow dung and inexpensive graphite electrodes. The minor planet named after him is called 25620 Jayaprakash; When Anish Mukherjee and Debarghya Sarkar were only 16 years old, they noticed the large scale bottle tampering rampant in India. They took the idea of auto-disposable syringes—which, once used, cannot be used again—and implemented that for one-time use bottle cap. Their design enabled customers to know if the the bottle had been tampered with. For this, planet 2000 AH52 was renamed 25629 Mukherjee; for his contribution to electrical and mechanical engineering, 25630 Sarkar (previously 2000 AT53) is named after Debarghya Sarkar; Planet 25636 Vaishnav was named after Hetal Vaishnav for her contribution to the environment; After Akshat Singhal found how annoying it was to index documents in a computer, he developed a system to automatically categorise documents, and also find relations between them, using artificial intelligence. The planet named after him, 12599 Singhal, is in the same region of planets that has 8749 Beatles, 2001 Einstein and 7000 Curie; Madhav Pathak has changed the conventional Braille slate, making writing easier for the visually impaired. For this, he has 12509 Pathak named after him.

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