In Brief

On 4 March 2015, the Reserve Bank of India reduced the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility by 25 basis points from 7.75% to 7.5% with immediate effect.

Vienna, Austria’s elegant capital on the Danube river, has again been commended as offering the best quality of life of any city in the world; Baghdad, once more, was deemed the worst to live in. The consulting firm Mercer said German and Swiss cities also performed well in its annual quality of living rankings. Zurich, Munich, Duesseldorf and Frankfurt remained in the top 10.

India, the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, will represent the troop-contributing country category on the UN Organisational Committee of the Peace building Commission for the period from 1 January 2015, to 31 December 2016, along with Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan. From the group of leading financial contributors, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands would serve two-year terms on the committee. India has contributed more than 170,000 troops to 43 of the 68 UN peacekeeping missions since the inception of UN peacekeeping more than 60 years ago.

According to the Global Assessment Report on disaster risk (GAR 2015), produced by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), India’s average annual economic loss due to disasters is estimated to be $9.8 billion. This includes more than $7 billion loss on account of floods. The report has urged countries, particularly in Asia, to treat this as a wake-up call and make adequate investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR) or it will hinder their development.  Subsequent to the release of the report, UN member countries met in Sendai, Japan in mid-March 2015 to sign a new DRR protocol that replaces the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). The new framework, like the HFA which came in 2005 after the Indian Ocean tsunami, has a commitment plan for a 10-year period.

Bharat Biotech India Limited has unveiled its indigenously developed and manufactured Rotavirus vaccine—Rotavac—claimed to be the world’s cheapest at the rate of around ₹60 per dose, and aimed at boosting efforts to deal with diarrhea that kills upto 80,000 children under 5 every year. It is the third such vaccine available globally against Rotavirus.

India is building Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs) at three locations that together can hold more than 36 million barrels of crude to help protect the energy import-reliant economy from supply disruptions and price volatility. While the first underground storage cavern at Vizag on the east coast, with space for 9.75 million barrels of oil, is ready to be filled, the other two SPR facilities will be ready by October 2015. India provided about $388 million (₹24 billion) to buy crude for the reserve in 2014-15.

India has yet again emerged as the world’s largest buyer of weapons and military equipment, accounting for some 15 per cent of all such international imports, while Russia, despite losing monopoly over the Indian defence market, continues to hold a dominant position as the largest supplier for New Delhi.

Union government has approved the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), an injectable form of polio vaccine, starting October 2015, as part of the WHO’s Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategy.

A historic bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled on 14 March 2015, at the Parliament Square in London, standing adjacent to iconic leaders like Britain’’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The Union government has merged the National Mission for a Green India, which aims afforestation at 10 million hectares of land over the next decade, with MGNREGA to increase and improve the country’s forest cover.

Olympic medal-winning boxer M.C. Mary Kom has been appointed as the brand ambassador of the northeast to showcase the potential of the region which offers ₹2.4 trillion business opportunities across various sectors.

In the biggest ever funding for the Indian Railways, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has committed ₹1.5 lakh crore for development of various railway projects over the next five years.

According to archival documents at the National Archives of India (NAI), it was on 31 December 1926 that King George V officially named the new capital as ‘New Delhi’. When British monarch King George V and his consort Queen Mary held one of the grandest darbars on 12 December 1911, where he assumed the crown of India and announced the shifting of the imperial capital from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Delhi, the new Capital had remained unchristened. It was only 15 years after his coronation as the “King-Emperor of India” that King George V named the city ‘New Delhi’. Until then, the city had in common parlance been referred to just as the “new capital” or “new imperial capital” or “imperial city”.

The National Air Quality Index, launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, is a simple, composite, and easy to understand measure of air quality of an area or city. The index will measure the eight major pollutants that impact health—particulate matter (PM 10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead—and disseminate information on associated health risks through a colour-coded easy to identify format. Each colour will indicate a level of the index—there will be six levels: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe. The launch of the index would be an important step towards creating greater awareness among people about the true nature of thier area/city’s air quality.

Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG consumer (DBTL) scheme is called PAHAL.

 “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story” is autobiography of Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore.

K.M. Mani, Finance Minister of Kerala, has been selected as the chairman of the empowered committee of State finance ministers. He will have the crucial task of achieving consensus among States on the design of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). He will also have to devote a substantial amount of time to oversee the implementation of GST, which the Union government aims to implement from 1 April 2016.

PRAGATI, or Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation, is a unique integrative and interactive platform, which is aimed at addressing the common man’s grievances and monitoring important programmes and projects. Prime Minister Modi, while inaugurating the platform said the step is to ensure that governance in India becomes more efficient and responsive. The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology. It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.

Rajasthan has become first State to implement a provision related to minimum educational qualification for contesting panchayat polls in the State. As per the provision, for contesting the Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti polls, a contestant should have the minimum qualification of secondary education (Class 10) from the State board or any approved institution or board. To contest the Sarpanch elections, a candidate should be Class 8 pass from any school (general category). However, in the scheduled area of panchayat, the contestant should have passed Class 5 from a school to become a Sarpanch.

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