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Insights Daily Current Events, 15 August 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 15 August 2015

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Ajit Kumar Seth appointed PESB chairman

Former Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth was recently appointed as the chairman of the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB).

  • He has been appointed for a period of three years or till he attains 65 years of age.

About the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB):

  • The Public Enterprises Selection Board is a high powered body constituted by Government of India through a resolution in 1987.
  • It has been set up with the objective of evolving a sound managerial policy for the Central Public Sector Enterprises and, in particular, to advise Government on appointments to their top management posts.
  • It is entrusted with the selection and placement of chairman, managing director or chairman-cum-managing director and functional director in Central public sector enterprises, among others.
  • The board consists of a part-time or full-time Chairperson and three full-time Members. The Chairperson and Members are the persons who have had a long and distinguished career in management of public or private corporations or public administration and have a proven record of achievements, preferably, in the field of personnel, finance, production or marketing.
  • The Chairperson/Members of the board hold the office for a term of three years or until the age of 65 years whichever is earlier. They are eligible for consideration of reappointment for a second term subject to the age-limit of 65 years.

Sources: The Hindu, PESB.

Gallantry medal for three Punjab police officials

Three Punjab Police officials, including slain Superintendent of Police Baljit Singh, who were killed in the Gurdaspur encounter on July 27, have been awarded President’s Police Medal for Gallantry (PPMG) posthumously on Independence Day.

  • A total of 824 Central and State forces police personnel were awarded gallantry and other service medals on the eve of Independence Day.

About the President’s Police Medal:

  • The President’s Police Medal is a decoration awarded to members of law enforcement in India.
  • It was established in March 1951.
  • The medal was originally called the President’s Police and Fire Service Medal.
  • The medal is awarded for either gallantry or distinguished service, with the gallantry version of the medal being accorded a higher precedence.
  • The medal is awarded annually on Republic Day and Independence Day.

The President’s Police Medal for Gallantry is awarded for, “gallantry in saving life and property, or in preventing crime or arresting criminals.” The medal can be awarded to any member of a police service in India, and is awarded without regard to rank or time in service. Recipients of the medal are granted a monthly stipend that is paid to them even in retirement, and upon the recipient’s death it continues to be paid to their surviving spouse.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Microsoft ties up with A.P. for low-cost net connectivity

Technology giant Microsoft has agreed to work with the Andhra Pradesh government on White Spaces, technology that uses unused television spectrum to deliver low-cost Internet connectivity.

Details:

  • This project is being implemented for the first time in the country.
  • It would be taken up at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh on a pilot basis.
  • The Microsoft, DEITY, ERNET and DOT are working with the State government, in a first of its kind pilot, to bring low-cost broadband internet connectivity to four educational institutions in Srikakulam district.
  • The TV White Spaces technology would utilise the unused space in the terrestrial TV spectrum to provide cheap Internet connectivity to remote areas. The technology would dynamically allocate unused bands for broadband transmission without affecting the TV transmissions.
  • It would provide wide coverage and cheap licence-free access. While the Wi-Fi network covers a range of up to 100 metres, coverage under the 200-300 Mhz spectrum available in white space could reach up to 10 km.
  • The technology could be the affordable answer to the last mile connectivity challenges and it could be utilised in times of emergencies like natural disasters.
  • Microsoft has already tested the pilot projects in Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Singapore.

Sources: The Hindu.

A.P. Wildlife Board gives nod for resizing Kolleru lake

The Andhra Pradesh State Wildlife Board recently adopted a resolution to ‘resize’ Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary from counter level +5 feet down to +3 ft. This move, if ratified by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) will bring some 25,000 acres under the plough or other such development activity.

  • The board’s resolution will now go to the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL).
  • However, environmentalists have opposed this move.

Quick facts:

  • Kolleru lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the country. It is located between Krishna and Godavari delta.
  • It was declared as a wildlife sanctury in 1999.
  • It is a Ramsar site.
  • It is also listed as an Important Bird Area.
  • Important avifauna of the lake include a variety of water fowls, ducks, teals, storks, egrets, herons, ibises, bitterns, cormorants and a number of waders. As many as 224 species of birds have been from in and around the lake A large number of Lesser Whistling teals were recorded in 1997.
  • The lake is known to amateur birdwatchers and professional ornithologists as a Pelicanery — a location were the Grey Pelicans, a large magnificent bird, nest and breed.
  • Grey pelicans had vanished from the lake in 1973 for nearly 35 years and returned to it to nest again in December 2006. The Grey Pelican also called the Spot Billed Pelican is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act and in the Red Data Book. It is also considered a “globally threatened species” under the “vulnerable” category.
  • The Grey Pelican returned to the lake only after Operation Kolleru, in which the fish tanks were destroyed implementing a Supreme Court order.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Prakash Rawat takes charge as EC

Om Prakash Rawat, a former Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer, recently assumed charge as the new election commissioner.

  • With Mr. Rawat’s appointment, the sole vacancy in the three-member poll body has been filled.

Quick facts:

  • Election Commissioner of India is a member of Election Commission of India, a body constitutionally empowered to conduct free and fair elections to the national and state legislatures.
  • He is usually a member of the Indian Civil Service and mostly from the Indian Administrative Service.
  • He has a tenure of six years in office or till he or she attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • The President of India based on a recommendation from the Government of India appoints the Election Commissioners.
  • Election Commissioners can be removed by the President on recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Government to transfer ownership in PSU banks to a new holding company

The government has announced a seven-point action plan, Indradhanush to infuse professionalism and fresh capital in to public sector banks.

  • As part of the plan, the government has announced the setting up of Bank Board Bureau (BBB) that will give way to holding company to which the Centre will transfer it ownership of all these banks.

Details:

  • The BBB will be headed by a Chairman and will comprise six other members — three government officials and three experts, two of which will be from the private sector.
  • It will make recommendations for senior appointments and also advise banks on strategies for consolidation among them including mergers and acquisitions.
  • The BBB will also be a link between the government and banks and will be engaged with banks to evolve strategies for them.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Assam Assembly passes Bill to end witch-hunting

The Assam Assembly recently unanimously passed the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015 making any offence under the Act as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable to eliminate the superstition from society.

  • The Act was prepared to rein in the rising incidents of witch-hunting cases across the State, following demand from cross-section of society.

Details:

  • The Bill contains provisions for imprisonment up to seven years along with a fine up to Rs 5 lakh for identifying and calling a person witch. This will come with Section 302 of the IPC if someone is killed after branding as witch.
  • The punishment for leading a person to commit suicide after intimidating, stigmatising, defaming and accusing as witch may be extended to life imprisonment and fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
  • The Bill also contains provisions about various measures that the administration and police need to initiate along with NGOs and civil society to educate people about witch hunting.
  • According to the bill, the fine realised as punishment for an offence shall be paid to the victim or his/her next of kin as compensation by following the procedures.

Sources: The Hindu.

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