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WATER HARVESTING, CONSERVATION MOVEMENT LAUNCHED IN RAJASTHAN
1.Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan (MJSA), described as the country’s largest campaign of its kind towards water harvesting and conservation in rural areas, was launched by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Wednesday.
2.The campaign, inaugurated by Ms. Raje at Jhalwar, and at other places across the State by the Ministers, aims at benefitting 21,000 villages by 2020, with 3,000 villages benefitting this year and 6,000 villages per year for the next three years.
3.The programme focuses towards participation from the village locals, NGOs, non-resident villagers, religious communities, and corporate houses through their CSR initiatives in cash, kind and labour for water harvesting in Rajasthan’s rural areas.
NEW PARTY LAUNCHED IN DARJEELING
1.The former Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leader and Kalimpong MLA, Harka Bahadur Chettri, on Wednesday announced formation of a new party — the Jan Andolan Party.
2.Besides Mr. Chettri, other members of the party include former Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University Mahendra P. Lama, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling hills.
3.Former GJM central committee member Amar Lama and Anmol Prasad have also joined the party. The party’s name and flag were unveiled at a major rally on the Kalimpong Mela Grounds.
NITIN GADKARI LAYS FOUNDATION STONE OF 72-KM HIGHWAY
1.Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari today laid the foundation of Mahulia-Baharagora highway in the copper-township of Moubhandar, about 40 km from Jamshedpur, under Ghatsila sub-division.
2.The 72-km highway on NH 33 and NH 6 in East Singhbhum bordering West Bengal will be developed at a cost of Rs 900 crore.
3.Bids have been received and are under evaluation as the work on the project is likely to start by first week of April.
DENMARK THE LEAST CORRUPT COUNTRY, INDIA AT 76TH POSITION
1.India has climbed nine points to rank 76th in this year’s global corruption index launched here on Wednesday topped by Denmark, with watchdog Transparency International calling graft a global “blight”.
2.According to Transparency International’s International Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, India is placed at 76th position along with Thailand, Brazil, Tunisia, Zambia and Burkina Faso out of 168 countries.
3.India has improved its past year’s position of 85 and has a grade index score of 38 out of a possible 100 which indicates the least corrupt, said the report topped by Denmark.
4.The index was prepared by using data from institutions including the World Bank, the African Development Bank.
OBAMA CALLS FOR RAPID ZIKA RESEARCH AS VIRUS SEEN SPREADING
1.President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and could spread to the United States in warmer months.
2.U.S. health officials are stepping up efforts to study the link between Zika virus infections and birth defects, citing a recent study estimating the virus could reach regions where 60 percent of the U.S. population lives.
3.Obama was briefed on the potential spread of the virus by his top health and national security officials on Tuesday.
TRAI MOOTS RS. 11,500 CR RESERVE PRICE FOR 700MHZ SPECTRUM
1.The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday recommended auction of 700 MHz spectrum for the first time in the country at a pan-India reserve price of about Rs.11,500 crore per MHz. The 700 MHz spectrum is considered to be the most suitable for offering high speed broadband services. However, the operators had asked the sale to be held back till the device ecosystem is put in place. The cost of delivering mobile services in 700 MHz band is also approximately 70 per cent cheaper than 2100 MHz band (used for 3G services).
2.The regulator has recommended that entire available spectrum in the 700 MHz band and 2100 MHz band be put on sale in the upcoming auction.
CENTRE CLEARS NEW FINANCING MODEL FOR HIGHWAY PROJECTS
1.The union government on Wednesday approved the hybrid annuity model for building national highways, paving the way for construction of 28 projects worth Rs. 36,000 crore this fiscal year.
2.The move will speed up the construction of roads in the country by renewing interest of private developers in highway projects as the risk will be distributed between the government and the private players.
3.The government plans to build 28 national highway projects worth Rs.36,000 crore this fiscal year, a senior Road Ministry official told The Hindu.
4.Under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, the government will invest 40 per cent of the construction cost for building highways and the balance will come from the private developer. The government will invest money in five equal instalments based on the targeted completion of the road project.
CERT-IN SIGNS CYBER SECURITY PACTS WITH 3 NATIONS
1.The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has signed cooperation pacts with its counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan for cyber security.
2.CERT-In is the nodal agency responsible for dealing with cyber security threats. The Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) will promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of security-related incidents between India and the three countries, according to an official statement. The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was on Wednesday apprised of the three MoUs which were signed last November and December. An agreement between CERT-In and CyberSecurity, Malaysia, was signed on November 23, 2015, in Kuala Lumpur during Mr.Modi’s visit to Malaysia, while the MoU with Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCERT), Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of the Republic of Singapore was signed on November 24, 2015 during the Prime Minister’s visit to Singapore.
RAJASTHAN GOVT. SIGNS MOU TO JOIN UDAY
1.The Rajasthan Government and its power distribution companies or discoms signed a pact with the Centre on Wednesday under the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) aimed at relieving the debt burden of the most indebted discoms in the country.
2.Rajasthan’s discoms have a total debt of Rs.80,500 crore which is 18.7 per cent of the country’s total discom debt of Rs.4.3 lakh crore.
RATAN TATA’S LATEST CUPPA IS TEABOX
1.Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested an undisclosed amount in Teabox, a speciality tea start-up.
2.Teabox sources premium teas directly from plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiris and Nepal. It sells these products online and then ships them to customers all over the world. The company will use the funds to expand its operations globally.
3.The three-year-old firm has delivered 60,000 kg of tea, equal to over 30 million cups of tea, to customers in 93 countries. The Siliguri-based firm has attracted consumers from regions such as Ural Mountains in Russia and Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean.
4.Experts say that tea companies in India have continued to rely on a legacy supply chain that has existed since the estates were first set up by British and Scottish planters.
5.For instance, the traditional tea route takes between six to eight months for teas, once produced, to reach the consumer. By that time, it loses its freshness and also become expensive due to the intermediaries involved.
6.Teabox said it was disrupting the $40 billion (Rs.2.7 lakh crore) tea industry with its innovations in technology and supply chain. It has developed its own supply chain model where it controls the sourcing, distribution and marketing of tea. It protects the tea from moisture, light, heat and oxygen using technologies such as vacuum packaging and cold storage.
MICK SCHUMACHER IN MRF CHALLENGE
1.In a major coup for the MRF Challenge series, Mick Schumacher, son of the seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher will make his debut this weekend in the final round of the series here at the MMRT track in Irungattukottai.
2.This weekend will also see the likes of Pietro Fittipaldi (grandson of two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi), and Guiliano Alesi (son of former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi) in action.
TEAM INDIA RETURN TO NO.1 TEST SPOT
1.Following their 37-run triumph over Australia in the first match of the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) cricket series in Adelaide on Tuesday, India’s day got even better as they were named the new top ranked Test team after England completed a 2-1 series victory over former leaders South Africa.
2.South Africa’s whopping 280-run win over England in the final Test in Centurion was not enough to prevent their slide from the top of the standings to the third spot.
3.India returned the Test summit of the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings for the first time since August 2011. Australia are in the second spot.