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Current Affairs for 17 March 2016
March 17, 2016
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ARMY CHIEF PRESENTS PRESIDENT’S STANDARD TO TWO REGIMENTS

Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Wednesday presented the President’s Standard to the 75 Armoured Regiment and 43 Armoured Regiment.

The ceremony took place at the Jaisalmer Military Station where both the regiments conducted a mounted parade with the indigenous Arjun tanks, Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said in a statement.

Besides presenting the ceremonial flag on behalf of the President, the Army Chief also released a ‘special cover’ to commemorate the event.

He also addressed and congratulated the officers and soldiers on the occasion.

Raised on March 12, 1972, the 75 Armoured Regiment has a unique distinction of being the only unit of the Indian Army to be raised on captured Pakistani Territory ‘Sakna’ (26 km inside Pakistan)


 

PUNJAB NOTIFIES SWINE FLU UNDER EPIDEMIC DISEASE ACT

The Punjab government on Wednesday notified swine flu (H1N1) under the Epidemic Disease Act, a senior Health department official said.

The notification issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department said all hospitals (government as well as private) will have to inform the Department of Health about a case of ILI (Influenza like Illness) having chronic diseases, so that such cases are treated at the earliest and proper guidelines of the government is followed, the official said.

All hospitals will have to keep a suspected as well as confirmed case of swine flu in isolation in order to contain the spread of the disease. All hospitals will have to inform the Health department in case a suspected or confirmed case of swine flu is reported, Health and Family Welfare department, principal secretary Vini Mahajan said.

The treatment of swine flu is provided free of cost to all the patients as recommended by the Government. All private and Government hospitals will have to abide to this notification, she said.

Ms Mahajan said the Health and Family Welfare department has constituted a State Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Dr D Behera, Prof and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh.


 

MORE WAYSIDE AMENITIES ALONG NATIONAL HIGHWAYS

Travellers along the National Highway (NH) corridors managed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can soon look forward to basic wayside amenities every 25 km and larger wayside amenities every 50 km. These are being launched to ensure safe and convenient journey for long-distance travellers.

Land will be acquired by the NHAI for the development of the facilities where no land is available now for setting up the amenities, a policy/concept paper on wayside amenities released by the NHAI has said.

The NHAI has come up with five modes for developing wayside amenities and augmentation of the existing facilities.

In development, operations and maintenance of wayside amenities in PPP mode, the long-term concession the private party will get will be 29 years with the concessionaire having the first right of refusal for another term of up to 29 years at an yearly concessional fee of Re.1.

The facilities will have a standard conceptual plan, façade design with flexibility to modify the interiors.


 

SHEHNAI EXPONENT USTAD ALI AHMAD HUSSAIN KHAN DIES

Eminent Shehnai exponent Ustad Ali Ahmad Hussain Khan, one of the best-known players of the instrument after the legendary Bismillah Khan, passed away in Kolkata on Wednesday following prolonged illness.

Suffering from kidney-related problems, he was hospitalised for the past few days and breathed his last on Wednesday morning, family members said.

He was 77 and is survived by his five sons, five daughters and a number of grandchildren.

Ustad Khan was felicitated with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to Hindustani instrumental music.

He hailed from a family of renowned Shehnai exponents from Benaras and was known for his innovative style and mastery over the classical and semi-classical and folk music repertoire.

The musician had also played at the inauguration ceremony of Doordarshan in 1973.


GOVT TO ALLOT 16 COAL MINES TO PSUS FOR COMMERCIAL MINING

Taking forward its decision to open up the coal sector for commercial mining, the government will allot 16 blocks to PSUs for carrying out production and sale of the dry fuel.

Of the 16 blocks “earmarked for State Public sector Undertakings for sale of coal”, five mines are in Madhya Pradesh, three in Telangana, two blocks each in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, and one each in Odisha and West Bengal, according to an order of Coal Ministry.

Of these blocks, eight have been identified for the host states, the remaining are for other than host state, according to the order.

For the first time in over 40 years, the government is throwing open the coal sector for commercial mining, which is being undertaken by the central PSU Coal India.

The Cabinet earlier gave its approval for allotting coal mines to central and state PSUs for sale of coal, especially to medium, small and cottage industries, under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

In January, Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had said that the coal ministry was working towards creating a platform for commercial mining “in the next 3-4 months”.


OBAMA CHOOSES MERRICK GARLAND FOR SUPREME COURT

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Merrick B. Garland to be the nation’s 113th Supreme Court justice, choosing a centrist appellate judge who could reshape the court for a generation and become the face of a bitter election-year confirmation struggle.

In selecting Judge Garland, 63, a well-known figure in Washington legal circles who has drawn praise from members of both parties, Mr. Obama dared Republican senators to ignore public pressure and make good on their promise to block consideration of any nominee until after the next president is chosen.

The nomination to fill the seat on the court created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia sets in motion a standoff that is likely to play out for many months, perhaps without resolution. Its outcome could tip the ideological balance of the nation’s highest court, and an array of well-financed interest groups on both sides has already assembled for the battle over the nomination.


 

OLA, UBER CABS INFORMATION ON GOOGLE MAPS

Google Maps users will now be able to check availability as well as book their cabs rides using the app itself. The technology giant on Wednesday in its official blogpost announced integration of cab hailing apps such as Uber and Ola into Google Maps application.

However, users would still need to install applications of these services providers on their phones.

“When you search for directions using the latest version of Google Maps on your mobile, we’ll show you a dedicated tab with information for cab services-in addition to the existing driving, public transport, or walking options,” Google said.

Google has a tie-up with Uber globally, and has added new providers across five countries, including Ola Cabs in India, Hailo in the U.K. and Spain, mytaxi in Germany and Spain, 99Taxis in Brazil, and Gett in the U.K.

If the user has cab service provider’s app installed, they will be able to see availability of car, fare estimate and pick up time using Google Maps.

While Uber users will be able to choose from uberGO and uberX services, Ola customers can choose from Ola Mini, Ola Micro and Ola Sedan options.


PARLIAMENT PASSES AADHAAR BILL AMID ACRIMONIOUS DEBATES

Even as the Opposition aired its concerns over the possibility of mass surveillance, Parliament passed the controversial Aadhaar Bill, 2016, after acrimonious debates in both Houses. In a day marked by high drama, hours after the Opposition succeeded in pushing through five amendments to the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, they were rejected in the Lok Sabha.

The amendments were moved by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, and were passed with a majority vote in favour.

Arguing that privacy was not a fundamental right, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha that the legislation’s primary objective was delivery of benefits, subsidies and services to the people. He sought to reassure the House that any gaps in the law could be improved with the passage of time, but the Opposition remained unconvinced. It argued that the privacy of a billion people could be compromised. The Opposition also objected to the presentation of the legislation as a Money Bill as this ensured that it was passed without the approval of the Rajya Sabha. “We reserve the right to take recourse to all available alternatives, including a court challenge… By no stretch of imagination, is the Aadhaar Bill a Money Bill,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi later told reporters.


 

MODI TO JOIN ‘DIGNITARIES’ AT MADAME TUSSAUDS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join the ranks of prominent global leaders at Madame Tussauds in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok next month, the world famous wax museum announced today.

Describing him as a “hugely important figure in world politics”, the museum said the Prime Minister had given the museum’s team of artists and experts a sitting at his residence in New Delhi earlier this year.

“Madame Tussauds has crafted figures of very distinguished dignitaries from around the world — how could I regard myself worthy of being alongside them? But when I was informed that your decision had emanated from public opinion and public sentiment, I was comforted,” Mr. Modi said in a statement to the museum.

“During my sitting, I observed the team carefully and was deeply impressed by its dedication, professionalism and skill. I have visited Madame Tussauds three or four times and had the pleasure of getting myself photographed standing next to the figures of various dignitaries,” he added.

The wax figures at each of the museum’s locations around Europe and Asia will be dressed in Modi’s signature kurta-pyjama along with a jacket and he will be featured in a traditional pose “making a namaste gesture”.

“Prime Minister Modi is a hugely important figure in world politics, a position supported by his place in the top 10 of Time magazine’s Person of the Year List 2015,” said museum spokesperson Kieran Lancini.