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Current Affairs : 31st January 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by Feb 1st, 2015

1- Sergio Mattarella elected as President of Italy

Italy’s parliament has elected constitutional court judge Sergio Mattarella as the country’s president.

He will Italy’s 12th president and succeed Giorgio Napolitano who had resigned earlier in January 2015 citing reason of poor health before his 2020 expiry term.

President of Italy: His role is mainly ceremonial but can declare legislation unconstitutional. He also has the power to dissolve parliament, nominate prime ministers and call early elections. He has tenure of 7 years.

2- Union Government releases Commemorative Postage Stamps on Swachh Bharat Mission

Union Government has released set of three Commemorative Postage Stamps on Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission).

This set of 3 stamps was released by Union Ministry for Communications & Information Technology and issued by Department of Posts.

These stamps were released to in order to achieve the vision of Clean and Healthy India.

Department of Posts has selected the design for the stamps through a competition among the children on the theme of Swachh Bharat Mission.

Swachh Bharat Mission

  • It was launched by the Prime Minister on the 2nd October, 2014 on the occasion of Birth Anniversary of Father of the Nation- Mahatma Gandhi.
  • This mission seeks to achieve Clean India and aims to provide access to toilets to all households in the country.
  • It also seeks to provide adequate arrangements for Solid and Liquid Waste Management.

3- Serena Williams wins Australian Open 2015 Women’s Singles title

Serena Williams of United States has won Australian Open 2015 Women’s Singles title.

In the finals she defeated Russia’s Maria Sharapova by score of 6-3, 7-6, 7-5.

With this win Serena Williams has won 6th Australian Open title and 19th Grand Slam title.

Serena Williams

  • Currently she is ranked No. 1 in women’s singles tennis.
  • She also has won 4 Olympic gold medals, 1 in women’s singles and 3 in women’s doubles.

Her 19 singles title includes:

  • 6 Australian Open Titles-2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015.
  • 2 French Open Titles-2002, 2013.
  • 5 Wimbledon Titles-2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012.
  • 6 US Open Titles-1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014.

4- RBI constitutes high level panel on urban cooperative banks (UCB)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a high-powered panel on urban cooperative banks (UCB).

It will be headed by RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi and comprise of eight member who will be experienced bankers. They will submit its report within three months from the date of its first meeting.

This high-powered panel will re-examine and recommend appropriate set of businesses, size, conversion and licensing terms for the UCB sector.

The Terms of Reference of the high level panel are:

  • Businesses: Examine the line of businesses that UCBs may be permitted to undertake and their benchmark in terms of size of business, capital requirement, regulatory regime etc.
  • Size of UCB:Suggest the appropriate size up to which a UCB may be able to grow without undue risk to the system.
  • Conversion Criteria & licensing terms :Suggest the criteria for allowing voluntary conversion by a UCB and examine whether the time is opportune to give license to new UCBs.
  • Determine the modalities of implementing the suggestion of the Malegam Committee. Especially, whether the 50 per cent in value of deposits should be held by voting members. Thus, propose a feasible structure that puts majority voting in the hands of contributors of funds in UCB.

5- Maharashtra government gives nod for GM food trials

Maharashtra government has given nod to confined genetically modified (GM) food trails in state.

In this regard, state government has granted no-objection certificates (NOC) for open field trials of 5 genetically modified (GM) crops. They are rice, chana (chickpeas), maize, brinjal and cotton.

NOC was granted by state government after state-level Committee, headed by Anil Kakodkar had given clearance for field test of these five GM crops.

Based upon the results of these trials, government take further steps.

With this decision, Maharashtra has become the fourth state after Punjab, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh to approve open field trials in GM crops.

Confined trials: It is typically carried out in small plots of one hectare or less. It is primarily meant to collect data on the potential bio-safety impact of the GM crop lines.

Why state governments NOC are required for GM food trails?

  • Earlier, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the previous UPA Environment Ministry had permitted field trials of GM food in India.
  • But GEAC had inserted mandatory condition of separate NOCs from states for such trials.
  • So, states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have banned such research activities.

6- First Canister-based Agni-V missile successfully test-fired

For the first time, a canisterised version of Agni-V missile was successfully test-fired on 31 January 2015 from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.

This was the third successful flight test of the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and the first canister trial.

Test: The missile was launched from sealed canister, mounted on a TATRA truck. It was carrying dummy payload. Test showed that dummy payload withstand temperatures more than 3,0000 C and hit the target at pre-designated point in the Indian Ocean.

Implication: A canister-launch system of Agni-V missile will give the forces the requisite operational flexibility. With this system, ballistic missile can be transported and can launched from any place.

Agni-V missile

  • Agni-V ICBM is indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • It is Part of the Agni series of missiles, one of the missile systems under the original Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • Range: 5,500–5,800 km. It will allow India to strike targets across Asia and into Europe
  • It is a 3 stage solid fuelled missile with composite motor casing in the second and third stage.
  • It carries Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV) payloads. A single MIRV equipped missile, that can deliver multiple warheads at different targets.
  • Incorporate advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.
  • First successfully test-fired by DRDO from Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa on April 19, 2012. With this, India joined an “elite nuclear club” that also included China, Russia, France, the US, the UK and possibly Israel.

7- Scientist V K Saraswat joins as full-time member of NITI Aayog

Former DRDO chief Vijay Kumar Saraswat has taken charge as full time-member of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.

V K Saraswat

  • He had played a very significant role in the development of the country’s first Liquid Propulsion Engine, DEVIL.
  • He was Project Director of Prithvi and had steered the design, development, production and induction of the first indigenous Surface-to-Surface missile system into the armed forces.
  • He was Secretary of Defence (Research & Development) and Director General of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Awards:He was conferred the Padma Shri (1998) and Padma Bhusan (2013).

Background

Earlier on 1 January 2015, Union Government had announced the replacement of 6 decade year old Planning Commission with new age NITI Aayog to function as both a think-tank and a policy forum for government.

On 5 January 2015, Prime Minister NarendraModi as Chairman of NITI Aayog had appointed V K Saraswat along with eminent economist BibekDebroy as its full time members and ArvindPanagariya as its first Vice-Chairman.

8- Senior IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary appointed as new ITBP DG

Senior IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary has been appointed the new Director General (DG) of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

His name was announced by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will be in office till June 2017.

Krishna Chaudhary is 1979-batch Bihar cadre officer. Before this appointment he was working as the Director General of the Railway Protection Force.

Background

  • The post of ITBP DG has been vacant since 1 January 2015 after the retirement of SubhasGoswami on 31 December 2014.
  • Till the vacant time, CRPF DG Prakash Mishra was holding the additional charge of the ITBP chief.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

  • It is one of the eight statutory Central Armed Police Forces of India and was established on 24 October 1962, under the CRPF Act, in the wake of India- China War of 1962.
  • Later Parliament enacted the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, 1992 to provide full autonomy to ITBP.
  • At present ITBP has about 50,000 personnel strong force, to secure the 3,488 km border with China along Tibet Autonomous Region and operates under Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • ITBP force also render in a variety of internal security tasks in the country  including civil Medical Camp, disaster management, nuclear, biological and chemical disasters and UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

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