General Knowledge – Awards – June-August 2016

Current General Knowledge for General Awareness Paper of competitive exams

Arjuna Award 2016
Rajat Chauhan (archery), Lalita Babar (athletics), Sourav Kothari (billiards and snooker), Shiva Thapa (boxing), Ajinkya Rahane (cricket), Subrata Paul (football), Rani (hockey), VR Raghunath (hockey), Gurpreet Singh (shooting), Apurvi Chandela (shooting), Soumyajit Ghosh (table tennis), Vinesh (wrestling), Amit Kumar (wrestling), Sandeep Singh Mann (para-athletics), Virender Singh (wrestling, deaf).

Ashok Chakra 2016
Havildar Hangpan Dada, 36, who died in Kupwara on 27 May 2016, after killing three terrorists, has been awarded Ashok Chakra 2016. He hailed from Boduria village in Arunachal Pradesh.

Dhyan Chand Award 2016
Satti Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Prahlad Shelke (rowing).

Dronacharya Award 2016
Dipa Karmakar’s coach, Bishweshwar Nandi, Nagapuri Ramesh (athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (boxing), Raj Kumar Sharma (cricket), S. Pradeep Kumar (swimming-lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (wrestling-lifetime).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2015-16
Punjabi University of Patiala has been awarded the trophy.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2016
Olympic medallists P.V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik; ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who lost a medal by a whisker; and shooter Jitu Rai. This was for the first time the nation’s highest sporting award was conferred on four athletes.

Ramon Magsaysay Award 2016
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers for “building a world of genuine solidarity”; Bezwada Wilson (India) for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity”. He was born to a dalit family in Kolar Gold Fields township in Karnataka. Although his family had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, he was spared the labour to be the first in his family to pursue higher education. Treated as an outcast in school and acutely aware of his family’s lot, he was filled with great anger, but he channelled this anger to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging; Dompet Dhuafa (Indonesia), for “redefining the landscape of zakat-based philanthropy in Indonesia, unleashing the potential of the Islamic faith to uplift, irrespective of their creed, the lives of millions”. Zakat (“charity”) is the obligatory tax on an adult Muslim’s wealth, that is dedicated every year to helping the poor and needy. DD’s (short for “Dompet Dhuafa”) economic projects have included building public facilities, support for small and medium enterprises, farm production and marketing assistance, a bank providing preferential loans to the poor, and a training-and-support program that has upgraded the capacities of hundreds of microfinance groups in Indonesia;  Conchita Carpio-Morales (Philippines), for “her moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines, promoting by her example of incorruptibility, diligence, vision and leadership, the highest ethical standards in public service”; Vientiane Rescue (Laos), for “its heroic work in saving Laotian lives in a time and place of great need, under the most deprived of circumstances, inspiring by their passionate humanitarianism a similar generosity of spirit in many others”; T.M. Krishna (India), for his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all”.

 

Current Affairs – Miscellaneous Information – July-August 2016

Current Affairs – Miscellaneous Information – useful for general awareness paper preparations

India has been ranked 141 on the 2016 Global Peace Index, falling behind countries like Burundi, and Serbia on the 163-country list. Prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the list names Syria as the least peaceful country. Iceland was named the world’s most peaceful country.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced the names proposed for the new elements, whose discovery helped complete the seventh row of the Periodic Table in December 2015. The names with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 are: Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts) and Oganesson (Og), respectively.

Cargo Express is India’s first time-tabled freight train. It runs between Delhi to Bengaluru.

Rajasva Gyan Sangam was the first joint annual conference of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). While CBDT is responsible for collecting direct taxes, CBEC recovers the indirect taxes.

A new Chinese computer system, called Sunway TaihuLight that can make 93 quadrillion calculations per second is now the world’s most powerful supercomputer.  Developed by the National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC) it has been built entirely using processors designed and made in China. It is intended for use in engineering and research including climate, weather, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and data analytics. It displaced Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that had claimed the top spot on the past six TOP-500 lists. Titan, a Cray X40 system installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is now at the third position.

China has declared that it now has the world’s largest spherical radio telescope at 500 meters. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) has been completed at a cost of approximately 180 million dollars and took about five years to complete. It is expected to be used to search for extra-terrestrial life, as also will focus on detecting pulsars, gravitational waves and eventually amino acids, which would confirm life on other planets. The 300-meter wide Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico was previously the world’s largest in terms of diameter.

UNESCO has listed the Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh, Sikkim’s national park, which is home to the world’s third highest peak Mount Khangchendzonga, and site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) in Bihar among its World Heritage Sites, at the 40th session of The World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul.  A World Heritage Site is a place (such as a building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of ‘special cultural or physical significance’.

China has unveiled AG600, the world’s largest aircraft which can land on both water and land. The aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737, is meant for fighting forest fires and performing marine rescue missions. It can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds, and has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km.

A 114-km stretch between Rameswaram and Manamadurai in Tamil Nadu is India’s first ‘green train corridor’. A green corridor or zero toilet discharge section envisages that all trains on that route will have bio-toilets, thereby eliminating open discharge of waste on the tracks.

Rail Geet is a three-minute song with moving trains visuals, as an ode to employees of Indian Railways and an effort to establish a connect with the public. The song has been composed by Shravan and sung by Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamurti. Titled Indian Railways, we love Indian Railways, the song will be played at every railway function’s beginning.

South India’s first Doppler weather radar, which can provide advance information about storms, cyclones, and other severe weather conditions, has been set-up at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This is India’s second C-Band Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radar (C-DWR).  The first was set-up in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, in May 2015.

India’s first tiger cell is being set up in Dehradun to aid the tiger conservation efforts. A collaboration between the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the cell will have a database of tigers with DNA samples from 50 Indian tiger reserves. It will also keep track of poaching incidents and regularly update tiger numbers.

Akashvani Maitree is All India Radio’s first cross-border radio service channel. It was launched in Kolkata by President Pranab Mukherjee. The channel, dedicated to Bengali listeners will air content for 16 hours daily for listeners across India and Bangladesh. The participatory content creation platform will be shared with “Bangladesh Betar”.

India has decided to grant Permanent Residency Status (PRS) to foreign investors who meet the minimum investment and employment generation criteria. The scheme which will allow foreign investors who qualify for PRS status and his/her family multiple entry into the country for 10 years without any stay stipulation, exemption from registration requirement and the right to purchase one residential property for dwelling purposes. The foreign investor will have to invest a minimum of ₹10 crore within 18 months or ₹25 crores within 36 months. Further, the foreign investment should result in generating employment to at least 20 resident Indians every financial year. The spouse and dependents of the PRS holder will be allowed to take up employment in private sector (in relaxation to salary stipulations for employment visa) and undertake studies in India. While the PRS will be granted for ten years, it can be reviewed for another ten years if the PRS holder does not come to adverse notice.

India’s Foreign Relations – June-August 2016

INDIA-AFGHANISTAN: Marking the completion of a landmark Afghan development project, , built on river Chist-e-Sharif in western Herat, during his visit to Afghanistan in June 2016. The Dam will irrigate 75,000 hectares of farmland in arid parts of western Afghanistan, besides generating 42-MW electricity. Originally constructed in 1976, the reservoir was damaged in the Afghanistan civil war. The Afghanistan government in 2015 changed the name of the project from Salma dam to Afghan-India Friendship Dam.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour.

INDIA-BANGLADESH: On 31 July 2016, Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mazibul Hoque jointly laid the foundation stone for the 15 km Agartala (India) – Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project. The Agartala-Akhaura railway project was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina met then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi. The project, which was sanctioned in the 2012-13 railway budget, would be a part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and would provide a much shorter connectivity from north-eastern States of India to Kolkata, via Bangladesh.

INDIA-GHANA:  In June 2016, Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian President to visit Ghana. He addressed a joint business forum meeting in the country, and also held delegation-level talks on agreements on visa waiver. The tour came as a part of India’s ‘Outreach to Africa’ initiative.

INDIA-IVORY COST: President Pranab Mukherjee, during his official visit to Ivory Coast in June 2016, was accorded honorary citizenship of Abidjan when he was given a key to Ivory Coast’s economic capital. The honour is bestowed upon visiting Heads of States. He was also given a traditional tribal name ‘Asito’ which means ‘example’ that should be followed by younger generations.

INDIA-KENYA: During the visit to Kenya, in July 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta which led to the two sides deciding to deepen and expand cooperation in a wide range of areas as they signed seven pacts, including in the field of defence and security and avoidance of double taxation.

INDIA-MEXICO: During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mexico, in June 2016, bilateral investments were a major focus during the talks. Both countries agreed to elevate their ‘Privileged Partnership’ into a strategic one and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto extended support for India’s NSG bid. Mexico also extended support to India’s International Solar Alliance initiative, which was launched at the Paris climate talks in 2015. Two-way trade between India and Mexico stands at around $6 billion. Within Asia, India is the largest importer of crude oil from Mexico.

INDIA-MOROCCO: During the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Morocco, the two countries signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for improving bilateral relations in different areas, including cultural exchange, water and information technology.

INDIA-MOZAMBIQUE:  During the visit to Mozambique in July 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with President Filipe Nyusi. The two countries signed three pacts, including a significant “long-term agreement” under which India will buy pulses from this African nation to meet its recurring shortfall and contain prices of this commodity.

INDIA-MYANMAR: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Myanmar in August 2016 as part of the “Act East” policy of engaging with countries in Southeast Asia to drive an agenda of cooperative development. She held talks with Myanmar’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, the first high-level contact between the two countries since the National League for Democracy came to power in 2015. Swaraj also met President Htin Kyaw. Talks between the two sides focussed on bilateral relations, the forthcoming BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit in India, and security cooperation aimed at countering the activities of Myanmar-based militant groups from north-eastern States such as Nagaland, Manipur and Assam.

Security and connectivity issues dominated talks during the visit of President Htin Kyaw of Myanmar. Among the deals signed were two pacts to speed up construction of the Asian Trilateral Highway and agreeing to cooperate in efforts to fight insurgency. India also offered full support and backing to the new government in Myanmar, installed in March 2016, for its efforts to improve infrastructure.

INDIA-QATAR: During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Qatar, in June 2016, India and Qatar signed seven agreements and agreed to share intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions (illegal money movement) and terror financing. The two countries also agreed to move beyond “trading relationship” and get into “strategic investments”.

INDIA-SOUTH AFRICA:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his official visit to South Africa in July 2016, signed four pacts with South African President Jacob Zuma, which are linked to the fields of information and communications technology, tourism, arts and culture, and science and technology. He also sought deeper collaboration with South Africa in the defence sector. Mr Modi also relived Mahatma Gandhi’s 1893 train journey between Pentrich and Pietermaritzburg. Business leaders from India and South Africa also signed eight MoUs at a CEO forum on the side-lines of Prime Minister Modi’s visit—in sectors including mining, railways, defence and education.

INDIA-SWITZERLAND: Prime Minister Narendra Modi scored a big win for India’s bid to be admitted to the Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG, a 48-member club of nuclear trading nations, during his visit to Switzerland in June 2016. After a meeting with Mr Modi in Geneva, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, said, “We have promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG.” India has remained shut out for decades from the NSG because of its refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while it developed its nuclear technology. Switzerland also promised to work with Indian authorities to tackle tax dodgers who stash money in Swiss bank accounts to avoid Indian taxes.

INDIA-TANZANIA:  India and Tanzania signed five bilateral agreements during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the African country in July 2016. These included the extension of a $92 million line of credit by India for the rehabilitation of the water supply system in Tanzania’s Zanzibar region, an MoUs on water resource management and visa waiver for diplomatic passport holders.

INDIA-TUNISIA: During the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Tunisia, in June 2016, both countries signed two MoUs on promotion of handicrafts and IT and communication and digital economy and discussed a range of issues of mutual and regional interests, including issue of spreading tide of extremism and terrorism which is a threat faced by both the nations.

INDIA-USA:  During the three-day visit to USA in June 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President Barack Obama, who reiterated America’s support for India’s entry to the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group), which currently has 48 countries who trade in sophisticated nuclear technology and material while ensuring it is not used for weapons. Prime Minister Modi also became the fifth Indian leader since 1985 to address a joint session of the US Congress, and the first foreign leader to be invited to do so in 2016.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker visited Delhi in August 2016 to chair the annual strategic and commercial dialogue that was co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj and Commerce and Industry Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman. The dialogue reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relationship. India made a strong push for greater US support in getting a membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Business ties, defence cooperation and clean energy initiatives were also focussed. The two sides also explored means for greater US participation in the Make in India flagship in the defence sector. Progress in the establishment of the Working Groups on Aircraft Carrier Technology and Jet Engine was reviewed.

In August 2016, India signed the bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) that will give the militaries of both countries access to each other’s facilities for supplies and repairs. The agreement will allow the Indian and US navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance. While it is an enabling agreement, LEMOA does not make logistical support automatic or obligatory for either party. LEMOA is one of the four ‘foundational agreements’ that the USA enters into with its defence partners. With LEMOA, India has signed two of the four. The first one was signed in 2002—the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).