The international Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was observed on 29 May 2015 with the theme Together for Peace. To mark the occasion, various events were organised across the globe to commemorate all brave men and women who have contributed towards establishing peace and security in the war torn countries and ravaged societies across the world.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2003 and designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The day was established to honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace and pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.
On this day, the Dag Hammarskjold Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who lost the lives while serving in the cause of peace, during the preceding year.
Incidentally, India began its tryst with UN Peacekeeping by providing the Custodian Force in Korea in 1950. At present, Indian Army is among the top three contributors to UN Missions.
Theme for the year 2014 was A Force for the Future.
Incumbent FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter on 29 May 2015 was re-elected as President for the fifth term. He was chosen for the post by the 65th FIFA Congress held in Zurich. 79-year-old Blatter won another four-year term as FIFA President after he was able to secure 133 votes out of 206 valid votes in the 209-member FIFA.
Blatter defeated 39-year-old Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan who was able to secure 73 votes. Ali was a FIFA Vice President for the past four years.
The 66th and 67th editions of the FIFA Congress will take place in Mexico City in 2016 and Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 30 May 2015 inaugurated the new Bank Note Paper Line unit of 6000 metric tonne capacity at Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh. With opening of this, India will become self-reliant in producing Bank Note Paper for big denominations. Earlier, India was considerably dependent on import of bank note paper for currency of big denominations.
He also flagged off the first consignment of one thousand rupees bank note paper made indigenously to Currency Note Press Nashik. It is part of the indigenisation of the Bank Note paper under taken by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited. The project has been completed at a cost of 495 crore rupees within the time schedule.
The plant is capable of incorporating the advanced security features into the Bank Note paper. It is also capable of manufacturing all denominations of Bank Note paper including 1000 rupees. It is expected that the plant will help in generating both direct and indirect employment and overall will boost the economy of the state.
Another such unit will be soon operationalised in Mysore.
Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR): Situated near India-Bhutan border in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal. Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in West Bengal was in news as on 28 May 2015 West Bengal Minister for Forests Benoy Krishna Barman stated in the legislature that the dwindling population has been caused by the increasing number of hamlets along the reserve.
His reply came against the claims by some conservationists that the reserve lost all its tigers and no tiger was sighted in it since 2002. However, Status of Tigers in India 2014 report released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in January 2015 states that though there were no tigers sighted in 2010 as compared to 10 tigers spotted in 2006, their population increased to 3 in 2014.
Further, the report is optimistic that the BTR has potential for increasing tiger population.
State government of Andhra Pradesh on 29 May 2015 issued orders to bring 16 sectors under Schedule III of the AP Infrastructure Development Enabling Act (APIDEA), 2001 with an aim to develop infrastructure in public private partnership (PPP) mode. This order was issued by the Infrastructure and Investment Department to facilitate the government to extend Swiss Challenge method to award infrastructure project in these 16 sectors.
Swiss Challenge Approach means a Private Sector Participant (Original Project Proponent) submits an unsolicited or suo-motu proposal and draft contract principles for undertaking a project, not already initiated by the Government Agency or the Local Authority. The Government Agency or the Local Authority then invites competitive counter proposals in such manner as may be prescribed by the Government. Proprietary information contained in the original proposal shall remain confidential and will not be disclosed.
Veena Jain was on 29 May 2015 appointed as Director General (news) in Doordarshan. She succeeded senior Indian Information Service (IIS) officer Akshay Rout. Her appointment was approved by the Union Ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B). Jain will also hold the charge as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and will oversee the ministry’s new media wing and social media cell. She will report to the ministry for all purposes.
She is currently posted as Additional Director General in the News Services Division of All India Radio (AIR). Earlier, she has also served as director of Publications Division of AIR.
The book Super Economies: America, India, China & The Future Of The World written by Raghav Bahl published in May 2015. He is an Indian businessman best known for his ownership of several television channels, including TV18. The book explains the vastly changed nature of the world since the Cold War and predicts what will be the likely changes in the 21st centuary.
For this, the author took a cue from the emergence of super powers in the 20th century and the ongoing process of emergence of super economies in the 21st century. Further, the author defined super economy as one possessing innovation, vast swathes of territory, low unemployment, improving infrastructure, strong currency and a significant military or nuclear capability and explained in detail how each of the BRICS fare on this score – with China declared a super economy and categorizing India as a sleeper super economy.
At the end of the book, Raghav Bahl concludes that in future the US, India and China will come together against Islamic terrorism.
Raghav’s first book, Superpower? The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise, was published by Penguin Allen Lane in 2010
Super 30 founder and mathematician Anand Kumar on 29 May 2015 was honoured by Legislature of British Columbia in Canada at Toronto University for his pioneering work in the field of education. The Speaker Linda Reid honoured Kumar with a memento and also appreciated his endeavour at a proposal initiated by Marc Dalton, an MLA. The 42-year-old Kumar was honoured for his rare achievements for the students from India’s underprivileged sections.
Kumar was invited by the British Columbia Government in recognition of his work through globally acclaimed Super 30, which has mentors 30 students mostly from the underprivileged sections of the society for IITs free of cost for the last 14 years.
Pradeep Kumar Sinha was on 29 May 2015 appointed as the Cabinet Secretary to the Union Government with effect from 13 June 2015. He succeeded Ajit Seth. His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). The ACC also approved the appointment of Sinha as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD).
Before this appointment, Sinha was serving as Secretary, in Union Ministry of Power since July 2013. He had earlier been Secretary in the Union Ministry of Shipping and has held several other important positions in the Union Government and in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The Cabinet Secretariat is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary is the administrative head of the secretariat. The Cabinet secretariat assists in decision-making in government by ensuring inter-ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst ministries or departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing or adhoc committees of secretaries.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) on 29 May 2015 released the provisional estimates (PE) of national income for the financial year (FY) 2014-15 both at constant (2011-12) and current prices. As per it, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant prices in the FY 2014-15 will grow at 7.3 percent while at current prices it is expected to grow at 10.5 percent. Besides, CSO also released the quarterly estimates (QE) for the fourth quarter (January – March) of 2014-15. At constant prices, in Q4 GDP is estimated to grow at 7.5 percent while at current prices it is estimated to grow at 7.7 percent.
The provisional estimates of GDP for the FY 2014-15 vindicate the growth projection for Indian economy by various world bodies like IMF, World Bank amongst others. According to these bodies, India is set to become the world’s fastest growing major economy in the world, overtaking China’s 7.3 percent growth.
Further, at 125.4 lakh crore rupees (2.02 trillion US dollars as on March 2015) India’s GDP at current prices has officially crossed the 2 trillion US dollars mark making it the world’s 10th largest economy.
However, despite the current slowdown, at 10.3 trillion US dollars China’s economy is five times bigger than India, while the USA remains the world’s largest economy at 17.4 trillion US dollars. Further, experts have pointed out that there were anomalies in the data as manufacturing shows an estimated growth of 7.1 percent for 2014-15, which under the index of industrial production (IIP) data for factory output was 2.3 percent.
Book Ahmedabad: A City in the World authored by Amrita Shah was released 28 May 2015. The book is a biography of India’s seventh-largest city Ahmedabad and its all too frequent complicity in communal violence. The author in the book has described the six-hundred year old former textile town in Kaka-style development and sketches Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle against British rule.
The book is the story of roadmaps and rivers, kings and kingmakers, merchants and savants; of Dalit labourers and women bootleggers, displaced Muslims and a euphoric middle class. It is also the incredible story of hope and vulnerability at the heart of a metropolis.
Amrita Shah has been a columnist and contributing editor with the Indian Express and was the founding editor of Elle India. She has also written Biography of Vikram Sarabhai in 2007. She received fellowships from the New India Foundation, the Homi Bhabha Fellowships Council and Fulbright to write Ahmedabad: A City in the World. At present, she is a visiting faculty at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
The Sambisa Forest was in news in April and May 2015 as the Nigerian Army has been conducting special operations to rescue abducted women by the group. The forest is located in the Northeastern Nigeria along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. It was captured by the group in February 2013 and made it has their primary base in March 2015.
Since its capture, the militant group mined the mountainous forest region and used as the shelter especially during Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping incident in April 2014 in which 276 female students were kidnapped.
Recently, on 28 April 2015, the Nigerian Army freed nearly 300 girls and women from its captivity and destroyed 13 militant camps. However, none of the Chibok girls had been found among them.
The application was launched by SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.
The OCAS was launched with an aim to empower customer and reduce the processing time of their loan. Besides, SBI will soon launch a similar application for the mobile platform.
Distinguished Scientist G Satheesh Reddy was on 29 May 2015 appointed as Scientific Advisor to Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for a period of two years from the date of taking over charge. Reddy is Director at Research Centre Imarat (RCI) & Programme Director of MRSAM, DRDO.
Reddy joined DRDO in 1986 and led the Conceptualization, Design, Development and productionisation of Inertial Sensors, Navigation schemes, Algorithms & Systems, Calibration methodologies, Sensor Models and Simulation. As a Project Director, Reddy led the design and development of Ring Laser Gyro based INS System, MEMS based INS System, Sea-Guard Reference System and Ship Navigation system and also successfully developed a 1000 kg class guided bomb. As a Director of RCI, he led the development of Avionics technologies in critical areas of Inertial Systems, Embedded Computers, Control, Real Time Software and Simulation, Power Supplies, Flight Instrumentation for various Defence programmes- Agni A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, Prithvi, Dhanush, Akash, etc. He has also been honoured with various awards including the Indian Science Congress Association Homi J. Bhabha Memorial Award, DRDO Young Scientist Award, Agni Award for Excellence in Self Reliance, DRDO Scientist of the Year Award etc.
Reddy is a graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering from JNTU, Anantapur and received his Doctorate from JNTU, Hyderabad.
Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience by Christrophe Jaffrelot was published by Vintage Books on 15 April 2015. Christrophe Jaffrelot is Research Director at CNRS and teaches South Asian Politics and History at Sciences Po (Paris). The 688-pages book is an overview of the contemporary Pakistan which was born as the creation of elite Urdu-speaking Muslims who sought to govern a state that would maintain their dominance.
In order to maintain the dominance of this class, Jinnah imposed a unitary definition of Pakistan state that obliterated linguistic diversity. The centralization of power in Pakistan was justified by the Indian threat which fostered centrifugal forces that resulted in Bengali secessionism in 1971 and Baloch, as well as Mohajir, separatisms today. Concentration of power remained the norm, and while authoritarianism peaked under military rule, democracy failed to usher in reform, and the rule of law remained fragile at best under Zulfikar Bhutto and later Nawaz Sharif.
Today, Pakistan faces existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to Islamism, two sources of instability which hark back to elite domination. But the resilience of the country and its people, the resolve of the judiciary and hints of reform in the army may open a new and more stable chapter in its history.
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