Current Affairs of 8 October 2015

1. Svetlana Alexievich wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich today won the 2015 Nobel Literature Prize. 
It honoured the 67-year-old “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
Alexievich has drawn international acclaim with her emotional accounts of the Chernobyl disaster and World War II based on witness accounts.
Chronicling such horrors in the first person through the words of witnesses, Alexievich has seen her works translated into numerous languages and scooped international awards.
But her books, controversially written in Russian, are not published in her home country, long ruled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, amid what the author has described as “a creeping censorship”.
Alexievich, only the 14th woman to be awarded the Nobel literature prize, takes home the sum of eight million Swedish kronor (around $950,000 or €855,000).

2. IMF lowers India's growth rate due to external environment
India’s growth rate has been marginally lowered from the previous 7.5 per cent to 7.3 per cent this year due to a difficult external environment.
“India remains one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We have, a more difficult external environment in general, with a slowdown in growth relative to last year.
.“Even though India is not as open as China, it is still an open economy. Hence, when external demand weakens, Indian exports tend to suffer. That is the negative force that pushes down our growth forecast for India.
The IMF official, however, noted that some external factors such as decline in commodity prices have been favourable for commodity-importing countries like India.
“So, the domestic demand component of growth in India looks resilient and strong, but because of the decline in external demand, the export outlook is a bit less rosy than we would have liked and that we were forecasting a few minutes ago. 

3. Hoesung Lee elected as the Head of Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change
Hoesung Lee, a Korean professor of economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development, was on 6 October 2015 elected as the Head of the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) at its 42nd session in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Lee was elected by 78-56 votes in a run-off with Jean-Pascale van Ypersele of Belgium. A total of six candidates had been nominated for the post. 
He succeeded RK Pachauri of India, who stepped down in February 2015 after a female researcher accused him of sexual harassment.
Lee has served various roles including his role as an executive member of the Korean Academy of Environmental Sciences; as a member of the Asia Development Bank President’s advisory board; as a council member of the Global Green Growth Institute and as an editorial board member of the UK based Climate Policy.

4. Indian firm Nualgi won Popular Choice Award at Climate CoLab of MIT
Nualgi, an Indian company with entirely Indian technology in the field of nano biotechnology, on 7 October 2015 won the Popular Choice Awards at the Climate CoLab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge.
With this, Nualgi became the first Indian company to win the annual MIT contest.
The Indian company had submitted two proposals to reduce power and fuel consumption for sewage treatment and reuse of water built around their nano-scale product called Nualgi for the 2015 edition of the contest.
A panel of judges selected both of their proposals in the Top 10 category. Subsequently, both the proposals won the Popular Choice Awards in voting by general public internationally.

5. 83rd Air Force Day observed across India
The Air Force Day 2015 was on 8 October 2015 observed across India. This is the 83rd celebration of the Day that began in 1932.
This prestigious occasion was marked with celebrations at the Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad. The event began with a fly past of three Mi-17 V5 helicopters with ensign of the Air Force in a V-shaped formation at the air base in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
The parade saw Hercules formation comprising three C-130J aircraft in the same formation.

6. Union Cabinet gives nod to amendments to tax avoidance pacts with Israel, Vietnam
nion Cabinet has approved the Protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) India-Israel and Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India-Vietnam and. Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. These agreements seek for the avoidance of double taxation and for prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. 
The Protocol provides International standards for effective bilateral exchange of information on tax matters including bank information and information without domestic tax interest. Sharing of Information received from Vietnam and Israel in respect of a resident of India with other law enforcement agencies with authorisation respective agencies. In case Protocol amending of DTAC with Israel further provides for Limitation of Benefits (LOB) Article. It is an anti-abuse provision which aims at preventing misuse of the Convention.

7. CCEA approves National Watershed Management Project Neeranchal
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved World Bank assisted National Watershed Management Project- Neeranchal. The project will ensure access to irrigation to every farmland (Har Khet Ko Pani) and help to achieve objectives of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) for efficient use of water (Per Drop More Crop). The project has been formed to cater to water-short areas with an outlay of 2142 crore rupees. Of the total project amount Union Government’s share will be 1071.15 crore rupees (50 percent) and rest will be loan amount from the World Bank. It will be implemented at the National level as well as in the 9 States. These states are Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.

8. Union Cabinet gives for formation of Indian Skill Development Service
The Union Cabinet has given its nod for formation of Indian Skill Development Service (ISDS). ISDS will be a Group A Service of the technical cadre of the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSD&E). Earlier ISDS was called as the Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET) which functioned under the aegis of Union Ministry of Labour Employment. This decision will help to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organisation. The new cadre will also encourage the officers to push the mandate of job creation which has been one of the key thrust areas of Union Government. Union Cabinet also approved introduction of Non-functional Selection Grade (NFSG). It will be to the extent of 15 per cent of SDPs at the STS (Senior time Scale) level as applicable in Group ‘A’ Engineering Service.

9. SC refuses to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar card for welfare schemes
Supreme Court has refused to allow some states and statutory bodies like RBI, SEBI to voluntary use of Aadhaar card for welfare schemes other than PDS and LPG schemes. Ruling in this regard was given by SC bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar and made it clear modification in this matter will be heard by a larger constitution bench of SC. This order was given by SC on applications of Union Government, RBI, IRDA, SEBI, TRAI, Pension Fund Regulatory Authority and states like Gujarat and Jharkhand. They have pitched strongly for voluntary use of Aadhaar cards for providing benefits of various schemes, other than PDS and LPG for the aged and the weaker sections. The applications in this case are being transferred to a constitution bench in order to decide on issues like right to privacy. Earlier in August 2015, SC had ruled that Aadhaar card will remain optional for availing welfare schemes of the government. It had clearly mentioned that authorities will not use Aadhaar card for the purposes other than PDS and LPG distribution system.

10. TS Genco commissions unit-2 of Lower Jurala Hydel Project at Revulapally
The Telangana State Power Generation Corporation Limited has announced the commissioning of the 40 mw Unit-2 of the Lower Jurala Hydro Electric Project on the river Krishna.
This is part of the 6x40 MW hydel project being implemented by TS Genco at Revulapally village in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana.
With the commissioning of the second unit the TS Genco is now in a position to supply additional power during peak hours and when water is available. This unit is part of the Lower Jurala Hydro Electric Project now under development, aimed at utilising the units during the monsoon season and when there is good water flow into the project.


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