Current Affairs of 9 September 2015

1. Agriculture expert Ramesh Chand appointed as a full time member Niti Aayog
Professor Ramesh Chand, a renowned farm expert, was  appointed as a full-time member of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog. His appointment was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
He is also a member of a task force on agriculture development under 
Niti Aayog which is formulating strategies to give a boost to the agriculture sector.
Chand was working as Director of National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP) in New Delhi since 2010. Earlier, he headed a government panel on Minimum Support Price (MSP). 
Besides Chand, Arvind Panagriya (Vice Chairman of Aayog), economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief VK Saraswat are other the full-time members of the Aayog, which was formed in March 2015 in place of Planning Commission. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chairman of the Aayog. 
The Aayog is mandated to recommend strategies for re-invigorating agriculture in all its aspects and to formulate strategies for reforms, innovation and technology diffusion.

2. Haryana Government sets minimum qualification for candidates in Panchayati Raj polls
Haryana Assembly has passed Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2015 that seeks to fix matriculation as minimum educational qualification for elections to Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs). With this Haryana became second state in India after Rajasthan to fix educational and other qualifications for the candidates contesting Panchayat elections.

3. Pakistan SC ordered adoption of Urdu as official language'
Supreme Court of Pakistan  ordered immediate adoption of Urdu as official language of the country. With this order, Urdu will be used as an official language at the government offices of Pakistan.
The order was passed by a three member bench headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja while delivering judgment in a case. The petitioner Advocate Kokab Iqbal through his petition wanted promotion and implementation of the national language. 
The Court also ruled that under the 1973 Constitution it is must to adopt Urdu as official language. 
It also ordered that there should be no delay in implementation of Article 251 in line with Article 5 of the Constitution. It also issued nine guidelines for making Urdu the official language.

4. Union Cabinet approved Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme to reduce dependence on physical gold
The Union Cabinet on 9 September 2015 gave its approval for the Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme.
The purpose of the scheme is to reduce the demand for physical gold and to shift part of the estimated 300 tons of physical bars and coins purchased every year for investment into Demat (Dematerialised) gold bonds.
Features of Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme
• Bonds will be issued on payment of money and would be linked to the price of gold.
• The sell would be restricted to resident Indian entities and each entity cannot buy more than 500 grams per person per year.
• The bonds will be issued in denominations of 2, 5 and 10 grams of gold or other denominations.
• The cap on bonds that may be bought by an entity would be at a suitable level, not more than 500 grams per person per year.
• The bonds will be issued with a nominal rate of interest (which will be linked to international rate for gold borrowing) as decided by the government.
• The rate of interest on the bonds will be payable in terms of grams of gold. The interest will be calculated on 10000 at a certain per cent say 2 or 3 percent.
• On maturity, the investor receives the equivalent of the face value of gold in rupee terms.
• Bonds will be issued on behalf of the Government of India by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

5. Muziris Heritage Project bags PATA gold award
Muziris Heritage Project of Kerala Tourism has bagged the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) gold award for 2015 under the heritage category.
PATA awards bring into limelight the extraordinary works of travel and tourism stakeholders in the Asia Pacific region. This year’s awards were given away at the 38th edition of PATA Travel Mart
Other India organisations which got recognitions at the PATA awards were: The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) under heritage culture category. This company has made nomadic mobile super luxury camps that introduce travellers to different adventures in carefully selected locations in mountains, deserts, jungles and unexplored countrysides. TUTC also bagged marketing media award for its consumer travel brochure.
Under education and training category, Thomas Cook Travel Quest bagged the award for pioneering a platform in India to hold national level travel quiz conceptualised by Thomas Cook’s innovation team.
This was done to penetrate and engage with india’s high potential but proetected student market and gain acceptance with key stakeholders such as educators, parents, and students.

6. Cabinet hikes DA by 6% for government employees
Dearness Allowance (DA) was today hiked to 119 per cent, up 6 percentage points, a move which will benefit over 1 crore government employees and pensioners.
The DA hike will take effect from July 1. As per the agreed formula, the DA rate increase is an average of 12-month consumer price index-industrial workers from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.
In April, the government had hiked DA by 6 per cent to 113 per cent of their basic pay with effect from January. DA is paid as proportion of the basic pay.
The DA hike is in accordance with the accepted formula based on the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission, which will benefit 48 lakh government employees and 55 lakh pensioners.

7. Australia’s Brad Haddin retires from Test cricket
Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin announced his retirement from first class cricket on Wednesday, following Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers in stepping down from tests in the wake of the Ashes series defeat.
The pugnacious 37-year-old, who retired from one day cricket after Australia's World Cup triumph earlier this year, kept wickets in 66 tests, scoring 3,266 runs at an average of 32.98 and taking 262 catches with eight stumpings.

8. Queen Elizabeth becomes UK's longest-reigning monarch
Queen Elizabeth, who ascended the throne aged just 25 as her exhausted country struggled to recover from the ravages of World War II, makes history on Wednesday when she becomes Britain's longest-reigning monarch.
At about 5.30 p.m. (1630 GMT), Elizabeth, who now aged 89 is also the nation's oldest ever monarch, will surpass the 63 years, 7 months, 2 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes that her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria spent on the throne.

9. India’s growth recovery to remain modest at 7.5% in FY’16: Citigroup
India’s economic growth recovery is likely to stay modest at 7.5 per cent, while the average consumer price index (CPI) would be around 5 per cent in the current fiscal, a Citigroup report says.
According to the global financial services major, the country’s ability to withstand sub-par monsoon has been improving steadily on better irrigation, rising yield and pro-active food management policies.
It said that though the rising yield per hectare is likely to support agri growth, the downside risks to growth could come from poor reservoir storage and its impact on rabi crops and weak rural demand.

10. India, Belarus set trade target of 1 billion dollar by 2018
India and Belarus have set the bilateral trade target of one billion dollar by 2018. The decision was taken at the Seventh Session of the India-Belarus Intergovernmental Commission held in Minsk, Belarus. The meeting was co-chaired by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman co-chaired and her Belarusian counterpart Minister for Industry Vitali Mikhailovich Vovk. 
Key highlights 
Both countries noted the potential to step up cooperation in pharmaceuticals, machinery, energy, fertilizer, mining and tourism. They also agreed to facilitate business to business contacts to promote investment flows in the two countries. Both sides also expressed satisfaction in successful supply of equipment by state owned BHEL for the reconstruction of Grodno Power Plant-2 in Belarus. They hoped for further boost the participation of Indian companies in projects for the reconstruction of power facilities in Belarus. Belarus is eager to boost investment and technology to India to supports its flagship Make in India programme.

11. Anirban Lahiri becomes 1st Indian golfer to qualify for President’s Cup
Ace Indian Golfer Anirban Lahiri has become the first Indian to qualify for the prestigious President’s Cup of Golf. World No.40, Lahiri qualified to this prestigious cup through automatic qualifications as team member of the International Team. The International team is set to take on United States team in the biennial Presidents Cup 2015 to be held at Incheon, South Korea. In season 2015, he has won 2 European Tour, 7 Asian Tour including the Hero Indian Open in 2015 and Malaysian Open. So far, he has won 11 National titles in India including Ahmedabad Masters and Haryana Open. Union Government has bestowed Arjuna Award on him in 2014.

12. Haryana Government bans gutka, pan masala
Haryana government has completely banned the gutka, pan masala and other similar products containing tobacco in the state for one year from September 3, 2015. In this regard State Food and Drugs Administration has issued notification in the interest of public health. The ban includes manufacturing, distribution, storage and sale of gutka, pan masala, flavoured or scented tobacco, kharra and other similar products containing tobacco. The ban also includes mix of other ingredients such as heavy metals and anti-caking agents. These substances were banned due to presence of Nicotine which already has been added by state government in the list of poisons substances notified under Haryana Poison Possession and Sales Rules, 1966. 

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