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Current Affairs – 15th May 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by May 16th, 2015

1- President Pranab Mukherjee confers Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

President Pranab Mukherjee confers Presidential Awards for Classical TamilPresident Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil for the years 2011-12 and 2012-13. It was bestowed on scholars who have made outstanding contribution to the development of Classical Tamil language and literature.

Tolkappiyar Award for lifetime achievement in Classical Tamil was given to SV Shanmugam for year 2011-12 and R Krishnamurthi for year 2012-13.

Kural Pitam Award was given to Eva Maria Wilden of Germany for 2011-12.

Young Scholar Awards was presented to E. Ezhilvasanthan, K. Jawahar and K. Iyyappan for 2011-12 while for the year 2012-13 was given to R. Venkatesan, A. Sathish, M.R. Devak, U. Alibava and B. Jaiganesh.

About the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

  • These awards have been instituted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD).
  • It gives recognition to distinguished scholars who have made outstanding contribution to the development of Classical Tamil language and literature.
  • The award carries citation and shawl apart from a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh for Tolkappiyar Award and Kural Peedam awardees. While, Rs. 1 lakh for young Scholar Awardees.

2- Gagan Narang wins bronze medal in ISSF World Cup in the 50m Rifle Prone Event

Gagan Narang wins bronze medal in ISSF World Cup in the 50m Rifle Prone Event

Gagan Narang

India’s ace shooter Gagan Narang won the bronze medal in the 50m Rifle Prone Event of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup.

With this win he qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics by earning himself a quota place.

In this world cup held at Fort Benning in US

  • Michael McPhail of US by shooting 208.8 points won gold medal
  • Ole Kristian Bryhn of Norway won silver medal by shooting 206.3 points.
  • Narang shot 185.8 points to secure third place.

Narang is third Indian shooter to make the 2016 Rio Olympics cut after Jitu Rai and Apurvi Chandela. He had won won the bronze medal in 10m Rifle at the 2012 London Olympics.

It should be noted for Olympics games, each participating country can win a maximum of 30 quota places from a total of 15 shooting disciplines (including shotgun events), two each from each discipline.

3- DD, CCTV sign an agreement for exchange of art, culture programmes

DD, CCTV sign an agreement for exchange of art, culture programmesDoordarshan and China Central Television (CCTV) have signed an agreement for exchange of art, culture and development television programmes.

The agreement was signed between both parties during the first leg of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three nation visit to China, Mongolia and South Korea.

On behalf of India Doordarshan, CEO of Prasar Bharathi signed the agreement in Beijing.

This agreement enables both Doordarshn and CCTV to share programmes on their networks free of cost.

Under the agreement Doordarshan will provide programmes pertaining to art, culture and tourism. While, CCTV in turn will exchange human interest, development programmes and success stories.

The exchange of programmes will begin by the end 2015 and both networks will also take up co-production works for this initiative. Thus by sharing of television programmes will enable people of both countries to come closer and understand each other’s culture deeply.

4- World’s first fully warm-blooded fish named Opah discovered

World’s first fully warm-blooded fish named Opah discoveredWorld’s first fully warm-blooded fish named Opah or moon fish was discovered recently. It was discovered by scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Opah or moonfish has ability to circulate heated blood throughout its body which makes it first fish known to be fully warm-blood.

Facts about Opah fish

  • Opah fish has rusty reddish color with white spots and bright red fins.
  • It weighs up to 90 kg and has an oval body shape.
  • It is deepwater denizen and usually found in oceans worldwide and generally found at depths of 50-400 m.
  • It is a vigorous predator in frigid ocean depths and preys on fish and squid.
  • Unique capability-It can internally generate heat through constant flapping of wing-like pectoral fins.
  • Its unique structure also help to prevent this heat from being lost to the environment as its gills lets warm blood to heat up cold blood returning from the gills’ respiratory surface.
  • This generated heat has an average muscle temperature about 4 to 50C above the surrounding water temperature.
  • Being a warm-blooded fish it has distinct advantages such as faster swimming speeds and reaction times, better brain and eye function and withstand the effects of cold on vital organs compared to cold-bodied fish

Quick facts

Warm-blooded animals: They generate their own heat and maintain a body temperature independent of the environment. They are also known as endotherms. It should be noted most of mammals and birds are warm-blooded animals.

Cold-blooded animals: Their body temperature depends on the temperature of their surroundings. Thus they are hot when their environment is hot and cold when their environment is cold. They are also known as ectotherms. Most of amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and most fish are cold-blooded animals.

5- India, China ink 24 key agreements to boost ties in trade, economy, education

India, China ink 24 key agreements to boost ties in trade, economy, educationIndia and China signed 24 key agreements to strengthen their bilateral relationship in several fields including trade and commerce, education, skill development, railways, human resource and other areas.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang after delegation level talks in Beijing.

Key agreements signed are

  • MoU in the field of Railways which will enable India to seek Chinese cooperation to introduce high speed rails on Delhi-Nagpur Sector, and increase track speed on Chennai-Benguluru-Mysore route. As part of MoU, China will also extend assistance in establishment of Railway University in India.
  • Several other agreements were also signed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of trade and investment and other fields and for establishing relationship at the provincial, city and municipality level between India and China.
  • MoUs in this regard, will facilitate establishment of relationship between Chennai and Chongqing, Karnataka and Sichuan, Hyderabad and Qingdao and Aurangabad and Dunhuang as sister-state or province relations.
  • MoU to open consulate General offices in Chengdu and Chennai to facilitate trade and economic engagement and people-to-people exchanges.
  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and China’s Fudan University signed an agreement for establishment of Centre for Gandhian and Indian Studies at Fudan University and Yoga College in Kunming.
  • MoU to enhance increase cooperation in the field of vocational education. It will facilitate China to extend assistance in establishment of vocational training institutes in India.
  • An action plan on cooperation in setting up of the Mahatma Gandhi National Institute for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in Gujarat.
  • Both nations also signed Space Cooperation Outline for 5 years i.e. from 2015-2020.
  • MoU was also signed between Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and China’s Earthquake Administration for cooperation in earthquake science and earthquake engineering.

6- Tejaswini Sagar wins gold at Under-15 World School Chess Championship

Tejaswini Sagar wins gold at Under-15 World School Chess Championship

Tejaswini Sagar

Tejaswini Sagar from India won under-15 category of World School Chess Championships in her maiden attempt.

In the ninth and final round played at Pattaya, Thailand she defeated Kavinya Miyuni Rajapaksa of Sri Lank to win gold medal. In this championship, Tejaswini scored seven points out of nine by winning six, drawing two and losing one game.

Irina Barbayeva of Russia won the silver medal in this category. While, top seed Nur Abidah Shanti of Indonesia won the bronze medal.

Apart from Tejaswini, Anand Nadar bagged the silver medal in under-15 open category while Saloni Sapole also won the silver in under-17 girls’ section for India in this World School Chess Championship.

7- MHRD Gave Nod For Setting Up IIIT in Nagpur, Maharashtra

MHRD Gave Nod For Setting Up IIIT in Nagpur, MaharashtraUnion Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on 14 May 2015 gave an in-principle approval for setting up an IIIT (Indian Institute of Information Technology) in Nagpur, Maharashtra. It will be the first IIIT to be set up in the state. The IIIT will join a batch of national institutes which are set to come up in the city, namely the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM).

The setting up of these higher educational institutions in Nagpur is aimed at improving educational infrastructure in the backward Vidarbha region.

About Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs)

Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) are a group of specialized institutes providing higher education in Information Technology (IT).  The MHRD took a decision in 2008 to set up 20 such institutions during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) to serve the human resource and technical needs of the Indian IT Industry.

In December 2014, the Parliament has passed the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT) Bill, 2014 to grant four existing IIITs situated in Uttar Pradesh, Tami Nadu and Madhya Pradesh independent statutory status.  It proposes to declare them as institutes of national importance and enables them to grant degrees to their students.

8- Union Government approved Gujarat State Climate Change Action Plan 2015-2020

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on 14 May 2015 approved the Gujarat State Climate Change Action Plan 2015-2020. The plan was submitted in August 2014. In the action plan, the state government proposed to invest more than 21000 crore rupees to create environment-friendly water resource management, public health projects, forest and environment improvement projects and agriculture improvement projects by 2020.

The plan also suggests radical changes in the functioning of government in nine sectors including agriculture, water resource management, healthcare, forest and biodiversity, renewable energy, coastal infrastructure, urban development, vulnerable community and green jobs.  The plan was prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).


Gujarat was the first state to set up first climate change department, but was amongst the last states to get approval for its action plan from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The plan raised serious concerns about the socio-economic and environmental impact of climate change.

Moreover, it suggested huge investments in building new infrastructure to mitigate the impact of climate change and also stressed upon radical policy changes in governance, industries and other sectors.

9- RBI allowed Tap And Pay without PIN for transactions up to 2000 rupees

RBI allowed Tap And Pay without PIN for transactions up to 2000 rupeesReserve Bank of India (RBI) on 14 May 2015 allowed Tap And Pay without PIN for transactions up to 2000 rupees. For amounts higher than that, the customer must be given the option of contact payment and would require pin authentication. RBI decided to relax current guidelines on the needs for additional factor authentication (AFA) for small value card present transactions only using contact-less cards.

The move is expected to hasten acceptance of tap and pay electronic payments at retail outlets, in transport services and for toll payments. Tap and pay refers to the use of near field communication technology in payment cards where instead of the traditional swiping of the card and punching in payment details, all the customer needs to do is wave a card in front of an acceptance device for the bill to be settled.

One of the preconditions set out by RBI is that the contactless card should also incorporate the latest EMV Chip technology for enabling payment beyond 2000 rupees. Also, Banks must give customers the option to choose to pay using the regular swipe method without using NFC irrespective of the amount involved. In most countries where payment technology has advanced NFC cards are used for payment of metro or bus fares or in electronic toll collection.

10- Union Ministry of Minority Affairs launched USTAAD Scheme for Traditional Artisans

Union Ministry of Minority Affairs launched USTAAD Scheme for Traditional ArtisansUnion Ministry of Minority Affairs launched USTAAD Scheme for Traditional Artisans


The Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on 14 May 2015 launched USTAAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) Scheme in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Features of USTAAD Scheme

  • The objective of the scheme is to preserve rich heritage of traditional arts and crafts of minorities and build capacity of traditional artisans and craftsmen.
  • Its purpose is to establish linkages of traditional arts and crafts with the national and international market and ensure dignity of labour to artisans and provide employment opportunities and a better future to the youths belonging to the minority community.
  • It will be funded by the Central Government and will prepare skilled and unskilled artisans and craftsmen to compete with major companies in terms of quality of products.
  • It will be administered by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs across the country.

The scheme was launched in Varanasi to improve sordid conditions of weavers of world famous Banaras Saree, belonging to minority communities.

11- SBI launched contact-less card called sbiINTOUCH

SBI launched contact-less card called sbiINTOUCHsbiINTOUCHState Bank of India (SBI) on 14 May 2015 launched contact-less credit and debit cards called sbiINTOUCH. These cards are based upon the latest near-field technology (NFC). With these cards, a customer can transact by just tapping or waving it against the reader of the point-of-sale machine. These cards are more secure and hassle-free. These cards come with a fraud liability cover of 1 lakh rupees. SBI has issued 1.08 lakh new cards to its customers in the eight largest metros and the remaining customers will get the cards in the following months.

Private lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have already launched such NFC cards.

The move could boost the acceptance of SBI’s tap and pay cards. These cards are especially targeted towards fast-food outlets, coffee shops and supermarkets where customers make quick transactions.

12- Indian-American boy Karan Menon won 2015 National Geographic Bee Championship

Indian-American boy Karan Menon won 2015 National Geographic Bee Championship

Karan Menon

Karan Menon, a 14-year-old Indian-American student, on 13 May 2015 won the 2015 National Geographic Bee championship. Menon answered all questions correctly related to places like Tashkent, Telangana and the Oresund Strait. In addition to winning the title of National Geographic Bee champion, Menon received a 50000 US dollars college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an expedition for two to the Galapagos Islands aboard the Lindblad ship National Geographic Endeavour.

Menon competed against 10 finalists from across the US to win the championship. Out of the 10 finalists, seven were of Indian-origin.

The first-runner up and recipient of a 25000 US dollars college scholarship was 11-year-old Shriya Yarlagadda of Michigan. The third place and a 10000 US dollars college scholarship went to Sojas Wagle of Arkansas, a 13-year-old eighth grader.  Seven other finalists who won 500 US dollars were Kapil Nathan; Nicholas Monahan; Patrick Taylor; Abhinav Karthikeyan; Lucy Chae; Shreyas Varathan and Tejas Badgujar.

13- Indian Scientists found a rare plant with anti-cancer properties in Western Ghats

Indian Scientists found a rare plant with anti-cancer properties in Western GhatsIndian Scientists on 14 May 2015 found a rare plant named Miquelia dentate Bedd with anti-cancer properties in Western Ghats. The plant could open up possibilities for cancer treatment. The plant is a small climbing shrub producing anti-cancer alkaloid Camptothecine (CPT). It occurs sparsely in Madikeri Forests in Kodagu in Karnataka.

The team of scientists from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bengaluru and University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru and Dharwad has found the plant.

Camptothecine is an important anti-cancer compound extracted from several plant species belonging to Asterid clade. It is a potent inhibitor of the intra-nuclear enzyme topoisomerase-I, which is required in DNA replication and transcription. Several semi-synthetic drugs such as Hycamtin (topotecan) and Camptostar (irinotecan or CPT 11) are derived from CPT and are currently in clinical use against ovarian, small lung and refractory ovarian cancer.

Several plant species producing CPT have been found in India. But the demand for CPT has resulted in extensive felling of the woody trees and plants like Nothapodytes nimmoniana, which is now on the verge of extinction and declared vulnerable.

14- Riley B. King, the King of Blues, passed away

Riley B. King, the King of Blues, passed away

Riley B. King

Riley B. King, the king of blues, passed away on 14 May 2015 in his sleep in Las Vegas. He was 89. He was known by his stage name B B King. He was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was known for his hits Lucille, Sweet Little Angel and Rock Me Baby. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname The King of Blues.

King began performing in the 1940s, going on to influence a generation of musicians, and working with Eric Clapton and U2. He was ranked as the third greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 and at no. 6 in 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. He was also ranked No. 17 in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

He was born in Mississippi. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was also inducted into 2014 class of the R&B Music Hall of Fame.

15- Union Government launched kayakalp Award Scheme to improve cleanliness in Public Health Facilities

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda, Union Government launched kayakalp Award Scheme to improve cleanliness in Public Health Facilities

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda on 15 May 2015 launched kayakalp Award Scheme. The scheme is intended to encourage and incentivize Public Health Facilities (PHFs) in the country for maintaining the facilities clean and hygienic.

Features of Kayakalp Award Scheme

The objectives of the award scheme are

  • To promote cleanliness, hygiene and infection control practices in public health care facilities
  • To incentivize and recognize such public healthcare facilities that show exemplary performance in adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness and infection control
  • To inculcate a culture of ongoing assessment and peer review of performance related to hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation
  • To create and share sustainable practices related to improved cleanliness in public health facilities linked to positive health outcomes

Cleanliness does not apply only to physical cleanliness, but to develop and put in place systems and procedures for activities such as bio-waste disposal or protocols etc.

Five awards will be given under this scheme viz., best two District Hospitals (DH) in each state (only one best district hospital in small states), best two Community Health Centres (CHC) or Sub District Hospitals (SDH) (limited to one in small states) and one Primary Health Centre (PHC) in every district. Award winners will receive a cash award with a citation. First rank and second rank awardees at DHs will get 50 lakh rupees and 20 lakh rupees respectively. While 15 lakh rupees and 10 lakh rupees are proposed for CHC or SDH, the winner in the PHC category will get 2 lakh rupees under this scheme.

Certificate of Commendation plus cash award would also be given to such facilities that score over 70 percent but do not make it to the list of top two or one in a particular year, which is proposed as 3 lakh rupees for DH, 1 lakh rupees for CHC or SDH and 50000 for PHC.  The awards would be distributed based on the performance parameters including sanitation and hygiene, infection control, hospital upkeep, waste management, community participation.

Assessment of the performance would be done sequentially through a three tier system – internal assessment followed by peer assessment and then external assessment.

16- Islamic clothing company East Essence tied up with Snapdeal

Islamic clothing company East Essence tied up with SnapdealIslamic clothing company East Essence on 14 May 2015 tied up with Snapdeal.  The partnership aimed to set up store on their portal. The company will make its debut in June 2015 by launching an online store at e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal. East Essence is the world’s largest Islamic clothing company. The company plans to turn India into a global centre of Islamic fashion. The US firm has presence in 68 countries and has annual sales of about 256 crore rupees.

India is the world’s second largest Muslim-majority country, with the community representing 14.2% of total population. That’s nearly 170 million potential consumers, completely catered by unorganised players at present. East Essence has also opened a manufacturing facility in Noida, which will cater to the Indian market and also become a hub to meet global demand

17- Japanese Scientists discovered new state of matter called Jahn-Teller-metal

Japanese Scientists discovered new state of matter called Jahn-Teller-metal


Japanese Scientists on 14 May 2015 discovered a new state of matter called the Jahn-Teller-metal. The matter resembles an insulator, superconductor, metal and magnet all rolled into one. The study led by Kosmas Prassides, Scientist at Tokohu University made the discovery by studying a superconductor made from carbon-60 molecules or buckyballs.

The research was described in Science Advances. It involves caesium fulleride (Cs3C60) in a face-centred-cubic lattice with a Cs3C60 molecule at each lattice site. The research could help develop new molecular materials that are superconductors at even higher temperatures.

The study shows that the material has a rich combination of insulating, magnetic, metallic and superconducting phases – including the otherwise unknown state, dubbed as Jahn-Teller metal. The research provides important clues about how the interplay between the electronic structure of the molecules and their spacing within the lattice can strengthen interactions between electrons that cause superconductivity.

Superconductors are a large and diverse group of materials that offer zero resistance to electrical currents when cooled below a critical temperature (TC). Superconducting lattices of fullerides – C60 plus three alkali-metal atoms – have been studied for more than two decades, and provide an interesting test bed.

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