Current Affairs Update- 25 April 2017 

1. India celebrated 8th National Panchayati Raj Diwas on 24th April 2017. 

This date marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level

On this date in 1993, the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force which institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats.

The first Panchayati Raj Diwas was celebrated in 2010.

2. Government of India has selected  the renowned film maker and actor Kasinathuni Vishwanath for prestigious Dadasaheb Falke Award 2016. 

Dadasaheb Falke Award, the highest for the Indian Cinema,  is conferred by the government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema.

The award consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a shawl.

3. Social activist Prafulla Samantra was announced one of six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize. 

Mr. Samantra was one of the key leaders responsible for rallying tribes, indigenous to Odisha’s Niyamgiri region, and using legal provisions to thwart mining-to-metals conglomerate, Vedanta. The company has been forced to suspend plans to mine bauxite.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize awarded annually to grassroots environmental activists, one from each of the world’s six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.
Since 1990 when the awards were first instituted, five Indians — Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal — have won the prize.

4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the meeting of the governing Council of NITI Aayog,  to have the financial year changed to January-to-December in place of the existing April-to-March and urged the states to take the initiative in this regard.

5.The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is planning to develop a 175 kg satellite to study Venus, the second planet from the Sun.

Venus is often described as the twin sister of the Earth because of the similarities in size, mass, density, bulk composition and gravity.

However, Venus is around 30 per cent closer to the sun as compared to Earth, resulting in much higher solar flux.

Exploration of Venus began in the early 1960s. Venus has been explored by flyby, orbiter, a few lander missions and atmospheric probes.

6. State-owned State Bank of India and realtors’ body CREDAI have signed an agreement to provide loans at a concessional rate to builders as well as customers for affordable housing projects.

The duration of the agreement is for a period of three years.

7. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has extended Rs 9,241 crore as refinance support to cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs) in Gujarat for providing crop loans to farmers during 2016-17. 

Nabard has provided Rs 2,274 crore to the state government for irrigation projects under rural infrastructure development fund (RIDF). The fund was given for Saurashtra-Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana (SAUNI) link 2 and 4, lift Irrigation project from Kadanna reservoir and Sardar Sarovar canal based drinking water supply project.

8. Bihar becomes the second state after Telangana to pass GST bill.

The Bihar Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, 2017, was passed by the bicameral state legislature on 24th April 2017.

Bihar was also the second state in the country, after Assam, to rectify the constitutional amendment Bill.

9. Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha was given a one-year extension, till June 12 2018. 

Sinha was in May 2015 named as cabinet secretary for a fixed two-year term. He took over the job from June 13.

Sinha, a 1977-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, had succeeded Ajit Seth who held the position for four years.

What is the role of Cabinet Secretary? 

The Cabinet Secretariat is under the direct charge of the prime minister.

The administrative head of the secretariat is the cabinet secretary who is also the ex-officio chairman of the civil services board.

The Cabinet Secretariat assists in decision-making in government by ensuring inter-ministerial coordination, ironing out differences among ministries or departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing or adhoc committees of secretaries.

10. Union government has issued a new model for Agriculture produces, the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitating) Act or APLM. 

The new model will replace the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act 2003.

Under the new model-

  • Buyers might not have to pay more than 1 per cent of the transacted value as mandi fee in case of fruit and vegetables and two per cent in case of other items.
  • The mandi tax won’t be under any condition charged from the farmer or seller.
  • Agents would to be allowed a commission of more that two per cent by value for non-perishable items; for perishables like fruit and vegetables, not more than four per cent.
  • the state director of agricultural marketing will be the sole authority for granting trading licences to traders or commission agents, taking this over from existing APMCs.
  • any agricultural processing company, retail chains like Walmart or Big Bazaar, farmers’ cooperative with linkages to retail chains and farmer-producer companies can purchase farm goods directly from cultivators, outside the limits of any mandi or private market yard, after getting a licence for doing so.

The new model would open the door for multiple modes for sale and purchase of produce — private wholesale market (‘mandis‘), market yards operated by groups of individuals, licences to private entities for temporary bulk purchase directly from farmers.

Agriculture is a state subject; the Centre can recommend what it wishes to see.

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