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Current Affairs: 27th March 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by Mar 28th, 2015

1- President confers Bharat Ratna on Atal Bihari Vajpayee

President confers Bharat Ratna on Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Bharat-Ratna-Award

President Pranab Mukherjee on 27 March 2015 conferred country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna on former Prime Minister (PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee. President Pranab Mukherjee by departing from protocol presented the Atal Bihari Vajpayee the prestigious award at his home in New Delhi. In December 2014, Union Government had chosen Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with late educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya (posthumously) for the prestigious award.

About Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on 25 December 1924. He is three time Prime Minister of India. For first time he had served as PM for just 13 days in 1996 and second time for 13 months in 1998-1999. In his third term as PM he completed his full five-year term and became first PM from outside the Congress party to serve a full term. Vajpayee was amongst the founder members of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh which later became known as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was parliamentarian for over 4 decades and was elected to the Lok Sabha for 9 times, and 2 times to the Rajya Sabha. He was also the Minister of External Affairs in the cabinet of Janta Government headed by Morarji Desai i.e. from 1977-79. In 2009, he retired from active politics due to health concerns. Some of his pet projects launched by him as PM were the National Highway Development Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Union government led by Narendra Modi has declared his birthday as Good Governance Day.

2- First goods train from Lumding to Silchar in Assam flagged off

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Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

First goods train from Lumding to Silchar in the northeastern state of Assam was flagged off by the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu through video conferencing at a function in New Delhi. Railway Minister also announced a cash award for those involved in the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project for completing this challenging project within the deadline.

Key facts

The train was launched on 210 km Lumding-Silchar section rail line after the gauge conversion was completed at a cost of 3500 crore rupees. This line will provide connectivity to Barak valley of Assam with the rest of the country. 210 km rail line consist of 28 stations, 4 halt stations, 79 major bridges and 340 minor bridges and 21 tunnels. After completion of this phase of project, Government is aiming to complete phase 2 project by March 2016 that includes gauge conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat rail line of 118 km. Arunachal-Jiribam rail line 50 km. Baraigram-Dullabchera rail of 29 km. Karimganj-Mahishana rail line of 13.50 km that also includes Karimganj bypass.

Background

Phase 1 and 2 of gauge conversion of rail line with total length 400 km in this region were sanctioned in 1996-97. In 2004, these strategically crucial projects were declared National Projects in order to provide them uninterrupted funding in general budget.

3- Delhi Government launches India’s first E-ration card service

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India’s first E-ration card service

Delhi government has launched First E-ration card service in India. It was launched Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 27 March 2015. In this service, E-ration card will be linked with Aadhaar cards in order to curb corruption and increase transparency in the system. Delhi government has brought the entire ration process online after they had received many complaints of corruption in the process of distribution of ration cards in Delhi.

Key facts

Anyone having an Aadhaar card can apply online for this service. Even those who are waiting for an Aadhaar card can also apply for a ration card with the Aadhaar card number on the online slip. The print of ration card taken by applicant will be also valid like e-ticket. Those who do not have access to the Internet can apply at the office of their respective MLAs. Along with the E-ration card service, Delhi government is also starting issuing temporary Fair Price Shop (FPS)-licences.  These licenses will be issued to around 25,000 FPS in Delhi. FPS are operated by private players to provide subsided foodgrains.

4- Saudi Arabia along with GCC launches military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen

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Houthi rebels in Yemen

Saudi Arabia along with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and several other countries have started military operations against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The operations were stated after Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had requested to counter radical Houthi movement in the country and to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen. The military operation included series of airstrikes which targeted Presidential Palace in Yemen’s capital Sanaa. The countries included in the operation led by Saudi Arabia are Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan along with GCC member countries. GCC members involved are United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. United States also has announced authorised logistical and intelligence support to Saudi Arabia led military operations, but has clearly mentioned that its forces will not participate in operations directly. Indian Government also has issued advisory asking Indian nationals in Yemen to leave the country in view of the continuing fragile situation there.

Background

The security situation in Yemen deteriorated after the Shia Houthis rebels had seized power by dissolving Yemen’s government and parliament in January 2015. Since then rebels had taken control of key government buildings in capital Sanaa including Presidential Palace. They also had taken control and seized city of Taiz, third largest city of Yemen.

5- India and Qatar ink six pacts to boost trade and investment

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India and Qatar ink six pacts

India and Qatar have signed six pacts including agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) to increase commercial and economic exchanges between both nations. These pacts were signed after Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani had held extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

List of Agreements /MoUs signed between both nations

  • Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons- Under this agreement sentenced prisoners will be transferred to home country. Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar will be brought to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly citizens of Qatar convicted in India will be sent to their home country to serve their sentence.
  • MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – It will provide enhanced business opportunities for Indian ITC industry in Qatar. With this MoU India will play pivotal role in Qatar’s ambitious programme of Qatar 2030 vision for overall development. In this regard Qatar has created a dedicated Ministry of Information and Communication Technology for capacity building in ICT.
  • MoU between Union Ministry of Earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation- For scientific collaboration between India and Qatar to improve atmospheric & Oceanic capacity in both the countries. In this regard Qatar’s Meteorological Department will be tie up with Indian Meteorological Department.
  • MoU between Diplomatic Institute of Foreign Service Institute, MEA and MOFA, Qatar- Help in exchange of students, trainees, faculty members and experts between both nations to enhance their skills and improve the training programme.
  • MoU for cooperation in the field of Television and Radio- Encourage regular exchange of TV and radio programmes and material between India’s Prasar Bharati and Qatar Media Cooperation.
  • Agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News- To enhance and develop bilateral cooperation in the field of exchange of English-language news on daily basis and free of charge between two nations. In this regard Qatari News Agency and United News of India are the signatories.

6- NASA’s Curiosity rover discovers useful Nitrogen on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover for first time has found evidence of nitrogen in the form of nitrate in aeolian deposits and in two mudstone deposits on Mars. It was detected by using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite mounted on Curiosity rover by the team of Scientists. Scientists believe that the detected nitrogen in the form of nitric oxide could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating of sediments from Mars. These nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form used by living organisms. Thus this discovery adds evidence to the hypothesis that ancient Mars was habitable for life. However, there is no evidence suggesting that the discovered nitrogen molecules found by the rover was created by life on the red planet. Scientists also believe that the discovered molecules are ancient and might have been deposited from non-biological processes like meteorite impacts and lightning on Mars’ in past.

It should be noted that Nitrogen is essential part for all known forms of life as it used in the building basic blocks of larger molecules like DNA and RNA that encode the genetic instructions for life. It is also essential in proteins that is used to build structures like hair and nails in living organisms.

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