Now, Delhi-Agra at 160 km/hr on Gatimaan Express
News:- Gatimaan Express, the country’s first semi-high speed train, was flagged off.
Inaugurated by:- Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Date:- 5th April
The Gatiman Express:- The new train – that can reach a maximum speed of 160 km per hour – will operate between Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin station and Agra Cantonment station. It will run six days a week, except on Fridays. The Gatiman Express train comprises two executive AC chair cars and eight AC chair car coaches. The new train also provides free on-board entertainment by a private provider, MyFreeTv.in. The express train also features new Linke-Hofmann-Busch coaches made by the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala.
Fare:- The fare for an AC chair car seat is set at Rs 750 and that for an executive AC chair car seat at Rs 1,500.The railway ministry said that catering on the new train will be carried out by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a railway undertaking.
Bihar imposes total alcohol ban, turns dry state
News:- The sale of absolutely any type of alcohol, including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) – not just country liquor – will now be completely banned in Bihar immediately. The decision on the ban on any type of alcohol was taken this afternoon by the Bihar cabinet, four days after a ban began on the production and sale of country liquor, or desi liquor.
Announced by:- The state government.
Date:- 5th April, 2016
Significance:- Bihar is now the fourth dry state after Gujarat, Kerala and Nagaland.
The Bihar government gets revenue of nearly Rs 2,000 crores from the sale of IMFL and revenue of around Rs 4,000 crores from country liquor sales in 2015-16. Kumar has repeatedly said his government would do everything to discourage the drinking habit as it severely hits the poorest of the poor. The poor consume liquor, leading to family problems including domestic violence, affecting their children’s education.
In a first for Bihar, all members of the Bihar assembly and the legislative council recently adopted a resolution that they would not consume liquor.
During assembly elections, Nitish had promised that he will start a people’s movement against liquor in the state and ensure that the ban on liquor is effectively implemented.
RBI lowers repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%
News:- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its policy interest rate by an expected 25 basis points, bringing it to 6.5%, the lowest since January 2011.
Date:- 5th April
Scenario:- The cut was broadly in line with expectations. However, the stock market reacted negatively and the BSE index, Sensex, was down nearly 300 points.
Given weak private investment in the face of low capacity utilisation, a reduction in the policy rate by 0.25 per cent will help strengthen growth, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said in the first bi-monthly monetary policy review for the 2016-17 fiscal, which began on April 1.
Rajan also took a host of measures on the liquidity front, starting with the narrowing of the policy rate corridor to 0.50 per cent from the earlier 1 percentage point, which resulted in the reverse repo rate – at which banks can park excess funds with the RBI – being reset at 6 per cent.
The policy said the average overnight borrowings by banks have increased to Rs 1,935 billion in march from Rs 1,345 billion in January.
Stating that the inflation objectives are closer to being realised and price-rise will hover around the 5 per cent mark for the remainder of the fiscal, Rajan reaffirmed that the monetary policy will continue to remain accommodative to address the growth concerns.
RBI also retained its GDP growth forecast at 7.6 per cent, on the assumption of a normal monsoon and a boost to consumption through the implementation of the Seventh Pay panel recommendations.
The central bank said it expects the implementation to hurt inflation by 1-1.5 per cent over a two year period, but added that the shock will not be as strong as that felt during the implementation of the sixth pay panel suggestions.
Rajan welcomed the government move to amend the RBI Act to create a monetary policy committee, saying it will further strengthen the policy s credibility.
The RBI retained the growth forecast of 7.6% in fiscal 2017.
Others decision:- It also increased the reverse repo rate by 25 basis points to 6% on account of new rate corridor and kept the cash reserve ratio unchanged at 4%.
With inflation easing to 5.18% in February and a central budget that kept both borrowing and spending in check, the RBI had room to make its first cut since September, thus resuming an easing cycle that was in full swing last year.
Background:- Last year, the RBI had reduced the repo rate by 125 basis points (bps) in total, but it had been frustrated by commercial banks’ failure to pass on the full benefits of the reduced rate to the wider economy. Banks only passed on about half of the RBI’s rate reductions to borrowers, by saying tight liquidity in the financial system had their hands tied.
In addition, despite the RBI easing the rate last year more aggressively than at any time since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, annual economic growth slowed to 7.3% in the October-December quarter from 7.7% in the previous quarter.
That slowdown meant the government’s 8% growth target wasn’t met; 8% was the rate needed to generate jobs for the millions of Indians joining the workforce every year.
World’s first sanctuary for white tigers opens in MP
News:- Politicians share space with white tigers on hoardings put up across Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, in preparation for the opening of the world’s first white tiger sanctuary.
Date:- 3rd April
Sanctuary:- The 25-hectare sanctuary at Mukundpur, 20km from Rewa.
Tiger name:- The sanctuary at present has only one white tiger, Vindhya. There are two others in an adjoining zoo. Locals in Rewa consider the white tiger — the colour of whose coat is the result of a genetic aberration — a part of the city’s legacy.
Background:- The first such big cat was spotted here by erstwhile king Martand Singh in 1951. The royal family named him Mohan, and he became “a pet, a family member”, says Pushpraj Singh, Martand’s son. Mohan’s cubs were thereafter distributed to zoos in India and abroad. They were reportedly inbred to create a white tiger progeny. But they disappeared completely from Rewa in 1976.
Controversies:- Wildlife experts, though, have been critical of white tiger breeding, and believe it’s a waste of money since it has no conservation value. Though the colour of the tiger’s coat is admired by many, its camouflaging ability is actually compromised, they point out.
“The rest of the world decided a decade ago not to breed white tigers. Creating a sanctuary is just entertainment and fun,” said Raghu Chundawat, a conservation biologist.
White tigers have been repeatedly inbred to preserve the colour of the coat, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums is strictly against breeding practices to increase the physical expression of rare traits “through intentional inbreeding”. “…For example intentional breeding to achieve rare color-morphs such as white tigers, deer, and alligators, has been clearly linked with various abnormal, debilitating, and, at times, lethal conditions,” it said in a paper.
Ecologists also complain that while such projects are showcased, conservation is compromised elsewhere.
Imtiaz Ali makes short film ‘India Tomorrow’
News:- Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, who is known for his out-of-the-box ideas for films, has come up with a short film.
Name:- ‘India Tomorrow
Significance:- He will take the digital route to promote it
About the film:- ‘India Tomorrow’ lasts five minutes, in which it showcases a sex worker having a conversation with her client about the stock market. It gives out a powerful message.
Vietnam seizes Chinese vessel for intruding in its waters
News:- Vietnam’s coast guard in a rare move has seized a Chinese vessel for allegedly intruding in its waters.
Reported by:- State media.
Date:- 4th April
Reported by:– The newspaper Thanh Nien
Report:- Acording to the newspaper, vessel has been towed to the northern port city of Hai Phong, and that the ship, its captain and two sailors, all Chinese, are under the supervision of Vietnamese authorities.
The vessel, disguised as a fishing boat, was carrying 100,000 liters of diesel oil and was intercepted by Vietnamese coast guard near Bach Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin on Thursday, it said.
The captain told authorities the fuel was to be sold to Chinese fishing boats operating in the area, it said.
Hai Phong coast guard officails declined to comment on Monday.
The newspaper said that in the last two weeks of March the coast guard had chased 110 Chinese fishing boats out of Vietnamese waters.
Background:- Vietnam’s coast guard often warns and chases Chinese fishing boats out of its waters but rarely seizes them. Vietnamese fishermen complain they are harassed, attacked and have had their catches confiscated by Chinese authorities while they fishing in the South China Sea. Vietnam is locked in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, which is rich in resources and occupies one of the world busiest sea lanes.
Vietnam, China and Taiwan have competing claims over the Paracel islands which are occupied by China, while the three along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have claimed parts or all of the Spratly islands. Chinese growing territorial assertiveness in the region including recent massive land reclamation of reefs and atolls in the Spratlys and its increased military actions in the two island chains have raised concerns among neighbors and the United States.
Cambodia adopts controversial draft union law
News:- Cambodia’s parliament approved a controversial draft law regulating trade unions, to the dismay of labour activists who fear it will curb their ability to protect garment workers — the backbone of the economy. The draft law still needs approval by the Senate but its passage is a near-forgone conclusion since the upper house is dominated by ruling party lawmakers.Two labour activists were injured on Monday morning during scuffles with authorities outside parliament.
Date:- 4th April
Announced by:- The government of strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen
Aim:- The law is aimed at regulating the country’s 3,400 trade unions.
But unionists and international human rights groups say it will dilute the power of labour groups in a sector still rife with abuse.
Around 700,000 factory workers form the bedrock of Cambodia’s $7 billion textile industry, which supplies brands including Gap, Nike and H&M.
Controversies:- Critics have expressed particular alarm at provisions forcing unions to report their finances to the government each year as well as granting authorities further powers to close down labour groups.
Judi Dench gets eighth Olivier Award
News:- Veteran actress Judi Dench has won a record-breaking eighth Olivier Award after picking up the Best Supporting Actress prize on its latest edition.
Awarded for:- The actress picked up the award for her role as Paulina in ‘The Winter’s Tale’.
Ceremony:- the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House. In celebration of the ceremony’s 40th anniversary, the finale saw 15 past Olivier winners, including Maria Friedman, Ruthie Henshall and Jill Halfpenny, perform “What I Did for Love”, which features in the first-ever Best New Musical winner, “A Chorus Line”.
Actor Michael Ball was the evening’s host.
Significance:- Her win means she has now been honoured more than anyone else since the awards, which recognise excellence in theatre, began 40 years ago. But the 81-year-old star joked she was “livid” to have won, as it meant she had lost a bet with her grandson.
Other winners:- ‘Gypsy’ was the big winner with four prizes, including best actress in a musical and best supporting actress in a musical for Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver respectively, as well as best musical revival and best lighting design.
Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber win big at iHeartRadio Awards
News:- 1989 ‘ beat Adele’s ’25’, ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ by The Weeknd, ‘In the Lonely Hour’ (Sam Smith) and ‘X’ (Ed Sheeran) to become the winner.
Swift’s other honours included artist of the year, best tour and most meme-able moment. Bieber, 22, became the artist of the year. He also bagged trophies for best dance song of the year (‘Where Are U Now?’) and best fan army.
Hello from ’25’ became song of the year, defeating Can’t Feel My Face (The Weeknd), Shut Up and Dance (Walk The Moon) and Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.
Fetty Wap as announced as the best new artist. Maroon 5 won the best duo/group award, while popular group Foo Fighters received the award for best rock artist of the year. In a new category, Luke Bryan won the award for country artist of the year. Swift’s boyfriend Calvin Harris bagged the dance artist of the year trophy. Hip hop artist of the year award went to Drake.
Pitbull received the Latin artist of the year honour.
Selena Gomez won the triple threat award as the singer has dabbled into dancing and acting besides a full fledged singing career.
Uptown Funk, by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, got the best collaboration. Lady Gaga’s Till It Happens To You won the best song in a movie award.