News Digest : 05 March to 11 March 2016

Thursday, 10 March 2016

• The Lok Sabha has passed a bill to
amend electoral laws to allow a limited
delimitation exercise in West Bengal for
granting voting rights to people who
became Indian citizens following the
exchange of enclaves with
Bangladesh. The Election Laws
(Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to
amend the Delimitation Act, 2002 and
the Representation of the Peoples Act,
1950. It enables the Election
Commission to carry out a limited
delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Cooch Behar  district of West Bengal following the
exchange of 51 Bangladeshi and 111
Indian enclaves in July last year. The
enclaves were exchanged pursuant to
the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement
and 2011 Protocol and Instruments of
Ratification during Prime Minister Mr
Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh
last year.
• Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi,
launched the National Rurban Mission
from Kurubhat, in Rajnandgaon district
of Chhattisgarh. Prime Minister
described the Rurban Mission as one
that would enable cluster-based development - with a “rural soul and urban amenities.” He said this scheme would
complement the Smart Cities initiative
by creating Smart Villages. The Prime
Minister described Rurban clusters as
centres of economic activity, which
would spur growth, and improve the
quality of life in nearby villages.
• Union Cabinet has given its approval
for introduction of steps for promotion
of payments through cards and digital
means. The move is aimed at reducing
cash transactions. Promotion of payments through cards and digital means
will be instrumental in reducing tax
avoidance and migration of
Government payments and collections
to cashless mode. The essential features of the proposals include steps for
withdrawal of surcharge, service
charge, convenience fee on card or
digital payments currently imposed by
various Government organizations and
introduction of appropriate acceptance
infrastructure in Government organizations.
• The Cabinet has given its nod for
establishment of Atal Innovation
Mission and Self Employment and
Talent Utilisation in NITI Aayog with
appropriate manpower. Establishment
of AIM and AIM Directorate will result in
the implementation of Mission activities
in a focused manner. NITI Aayog will
hire the mission director and other
appropriate manpower. The headquarters of the mission will be in New Delhi.
• The Cabinet has also approved for
signing of an agreement between India
and Maldives for the avoidance of double taxation of income from international air transport. Under the agreement,
profits from the operation of aircraft in
international traffic will be taxed in one
country alone. Cabinet has also given
its nod for the proposal of the Ministry
of Shipping for provision and operationalisation of credit of 150 million dollars from EXIM Bank for development
of Chabahar Port in Iran. The Port will
help in expanding maritime commerce
in the region.
• In Assam, for the first time, Voter
Verifiable Paper Trial, VVPT will be
introduced in 10 constituencies in
upcoming assembly polls. State's Chief
Electoral Officer Assam Vijendra said,
that Dispur and Jalukbari assembly
constituencies in Kamrup Metro district
will be included in the VVPT trial. He
said VVPT system will enable voters to
see a printout of their ballot by displaying the name and symbol of the candidate among others. Around 2,400
polling booths in 10 assemblies will be
covered by VVPT.
• India has extended one million dollars
as immediate assistance to Fiji, which
was hit by a severe cyclone. The island
nation was hit by the cyclone Winston
which brought with it wind gusts of 325
kilometres per hour and waves up to 12
metres high, flattening crops and decimating villages completely.
• Aiming to enhance economic cooperation and strengthen financial stability,
RBI has extended the USD 2 billion
currency swap arrangement to SAARC
nations till mid-November 2017. In a
notification issued, the Reserve Bank
said that it has decided to extend the
SAARC Currency Swap Arrangement
till November 14, 2017. Under the
arrangement, RBI will be offering swap
arrangement up to an overall amount of
USD 2 billion both in foreign currency
and Indian rupee. RBI offered the
SAARC Swap Arrangement to SAARC
nations on November 15, 2012.
• Chemical scientist and well-known
researcher Goverdhan Mehta has been
conferred with Germany’s prestigious
Cross of the Order of Merit
(Bundesverdienstkreuz) Award. The
award was bestowed upon him by
Achim Fabig, German Consul General
in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Goverdhan
Mehta is former Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Hyderabad (UoH) from
1994 to 1998. He has authored more
than 400 research papers.
• International Monetary Fund has said
the global economy has weakened further and warned it is highly vulnerable
to adverse shocks. It said the weakening has come amid increasing financial
turbulence and falling asset prices. It
said, China's slowdown is adding to
global economic growth concerns.
China's economy, the second biggest
in the world, is growing at the slowest
rate in 25 years. IMF downgraded its
forecast for global economic growth. It
now expects economic activity to
increase 3.4 per cent this year followed
by 3.6 per cent in 2017.
• In Syria, bomb blasts in the cities of
Homs and Damascus have left at least
140 people dead. Monitors and state
media say, at least four blasts struck
the southern Damascus suburb of
Sayyida Zeinab, killing at least 83 people. Earlier in Homs, 57 people, mainly
civilians, were reportedly killed in a
double car bombing. Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility
for the attacks in both cities.
• United Nations says it has carried out
its first air drop of aid in Syria to help
civilians in an eastern city besieged by
Islamic State militants. UN aid chief
Stephen O'Brien told the Security
Council that the plane dropped 21
tonnes of humanitarian items on a government-held part of Deir al-Zour. Initial reports indicated that the aid had successfully reached the target area. The
UN says 2 lakh civilians are living
under siege in Deir al-Zour. Earlier,
more than 100 lorries carrying food and
other basic goods reached 80 thousand people in five other besieged
areas of Syria.
• As tensions escalate in the South
China Sea, the US plans to increase its
freedom of navigation (FON) opera￾tions through Chinese waters. Last
October, the Pentagon conducted its
first FON in the South China Sea,
sending the USS Lassen within the 12-
mile territorial limit of Beijing’s artificial
islands in the Spratly archipelago. The
move elicited outrage from Chinese
officials. In response to Beijing’s
deployment of missile systems into the
region, the US Navy has stressed that
it plans to increase its FON operations.

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