Union Ministry of Railways has constituted a Committee to review the existing Public Private Partnership (PPP) Cell in the Railway Board with former IAS officer Ajay Shankar as its head. The Committee will recommend measures needed to make the PPP Cell more customer friendly, effective and result oriented. The Infrastructure Directorate of Railway Board will be the Nodal Directorate for functioning of the Committee. While the Executive Director/Traffic (PPP) Railway Board will be the Secretary to the Committee. Ajay Shanka is former Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) under the aegis of Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
During the Rail budget speech in February 2015, Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu had promised to revamp the existing PPP cell in the Railways in order to make it more result oriented. Government also had unveiled its plan to invest Rs.8.5 trillion in the railways in next 5 years. By channelizing PPP, railways is seeking to improve its freight business and investment in its infrastructure.
Ruth Porat has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of world’s largest search engine giant Google. She will succeed Patrick Pichette who had announced his retirement on 10 March 2015 and assume charge on 26 May 2015. As CFO of Google she will directly report to Larry Page, CEO and Co-Founder of Google. Prior to this appointment Ruth was working as CFO at Morgan Stanley. She joined Morgan Stanley in 1987. Since then she had severed at various posts and had played several key roles at the company. She has served as Global Head of the Financial Institutions Group, co-Head of Technology Investment Banking and Vice Chairman of Investment Banking. Porat also was the lead banker on numerous technology financing rounds, including for Amazon, eBay, Netscape, Priceline and Verisign as well as for The Blackstone Group, General Electric (GE) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). She is also Vice Chair of the Stanford University Board of Trustees and a member of the US Treasury’s Borrowing Advisory Committee. She also serves as a Board Director at The Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Advisory Council of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Indian-American novelist Akhil Sharma’s novel Family Life has won the prestigious Folio Prize 2015. His novel was among the eight shortlisted books from 80 fictional works and was chosen as the best fiction novel published in the United Kingdom in 2014. Family Life is Sharma’s second novel and took him 13 years to write.
Sharma was born in Delhi and later in 1979 immigrated to US along with his family. His first novel was An Obedient Father published in 2000. It has won the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award in 2001. His stories also have been published in The New Yorker and in Atlantic Monthly. These stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories and also in O. Henry Prize Collections. In 2007, he was named as one of Granta magazine’s Best of Young American Novelists.
Established- 2014 Sponsored by the London-based The Folio Society. Awarded to an author from any country for his English-language book of fiction published in the UK. First recipient of the prize was American writer George Saunders for his short stories collection Tenth of December.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 March 2015 launched Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) platform. PRAGATI is a multi-purpose and multi-modal platform aimed at addressing grievances of common man. It also aims at simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important Union government programmes and projects as well as projects flagged by State Governments. It is an innovative project in e-governance and good governance and accountability with real-time presence and information exchange among the key stakeholders.
Designed in-house by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC). Uniquely bundles three latest technologies including Digital data management, geo-spatial technology and video-conferencing. Three-tier system that brings PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States at one stage. Thus, offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism. Prime Minister can directly discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation. The system will work on strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) along with Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. On a monthly basis, Prime Minister will interact with bureaucrats i.e. on fourth Wednesday of every month at 3.30 PM- called as PRAGATI Day. Issues to be flagged before the PM will be picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, pending Projects and on-going Programmes. These issues will uploaded seven days prior to the PRAGATI day.
Union Government has approved 10 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth 2857.83 crore rupees. These FDI proposals were approved by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
India’s first Polar Remotely Operated Vehicle (PROVe) was successfully operationalised for research in North Antarctica by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). PROVe was operationalised, after it had undergone series of trials in Antarctica in the past two months since its deployment by the NIOT researchers. It has been deployed in Priyadarshini Lake located on the Schirmacher Oasis which is a major source of water for Maitri, India’s second base in the Antarctica.
Indigenously built by NIOT under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences. Capable of probing the sea bed under normal temperature and capable of exploring up to 200 meters in inhospitable and tough regions like the ice clad Antarctica. Operated remotely by scientists on board the ship and has inbuilt thrusters allowing it for 360-degree movement. Will help researchers to study and find out details about dissolved oxygen in sea bottom, salinity and the quantity of sunlight hitting the bottom of the sea. The results and outcomes will help researchers in understanding the biological activities taking place inside the sea. Implications of its operationalisation in Antartica Its breakthrough is a great leap forward in forecasting with precision the ever elusive Monsoon, a climatic phenomenon which determines India’s economy. In case of forecasting Monsoon, PROVe will measure parameters like ocean currents, temperature and salinity in the Arctic. It will especially help scientist to move away from present Mathematical models for forecasting the Monsoon which many times vary from initial forecasts. Current operation will collect data for analysis in June 2015. This data will be used for analyzing hypothesis about the link between Antarctic Ocean currents and Indian monsoon system.
Two-year-old girl Cherukuli D0lly Shivani from Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh has created new record in Archery and has entered her name into the India Book of Records. She became the youngest Indian to score 200 points over five and seven-metre distances. At a show, she shot 36 arrows each from five metres and seven metres to score 388 points in the presence of senior sports personalities from Sports Authority of India (SAI) and India Book of Records officials. After achieving this stunning feat, Shivani was presented with a trophy, medal and a certificate from the chief editor India Book of Records Biswaroop Roy Choudary. Shivani is the kid sister of late Indian coach and international archer Cherukuri Lenin who had died in a road accident soon after 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. At a young age she is undergoing training at the Volga Archery Institute run by her father Cherukuri Satyanarayana.
The Union government has fetched about 1.10 lakh crore rupees after the auctioning of a telecom spectrum. The spectrum auction concluded on 25 March 2015 after 19 days and 115 rounds of rigorous bidding. However the 11 percent airwaves were not sold in this auction. The process of auction was conducted for 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz spectrum covering both mobile telephony and broadband, including 4th Generation (4G). A total of 380.75 MHz of spectrum was put on sale in the premium 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 800 MHz bands and 5 MHz of spectrum was put for bidding in the 2,100 MHz band which is used for 3G mobile services across 17 out of total 22 telecom circles. The spectrum auction included airwaves held by 9 licences of Idea Cellular, 6 permits of Bharti Airtel and 7 each of Reliance Telecom and Vodafone that were expiring in 2015-16. These auctioned airwaves mostly included frequencies in 900 MHz band and 1800 MHz band. The government also auctioned airwaves in 1800 MHz band that remained unsold in 2014, and 800 MHz i.e. CDMA band frequencies that were left after sale in 2013. The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) later will disclose details of the result and names of successful bidders after the Supreme Court’s permission as a case is pending in the court.
Australia has crushed India by 95 runs in their World Cup semi-final in Sydney. Steven Smith’s 105 powered Australia into the World Cup final after the hosts beat India by 95 runs at the SCG. From India, M S Dhoni Captain of Indian Cricket team was the highest scorer for 65 runs against the chase of 328 runs.
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