Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 31 May 2014 abolished all the Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs) and Groups of Ministers (GoMs) and told Ministries and departments to take decisions on pending matters

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2) In an important development India recently decided to enhance transparency of its nuclear infrastructure by ratifying an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The new government has decided to go ahead with the ratification process, clearing the decks for large imports of nuclear technology, boosting power generation and other civilian purposes. The Additional Protocol will cover only those facilities which are monitored by the IAEA, and will have no bearing on the non-safeguarded facilities which are used for building weapons. How many nuclear facilities would be covered under this agreement with the IAEA? – 20 (These 20 facilities would include the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad, Tarapur atomic power plant, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, both units at Kudankulam, and the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station)

3) Who was announced as the winner of the Jnanpith Award for 2013? – Kedarnath Singh, Hindi poet and writer (Kedarnath Singh thus becomes 10th Hindi writer to be bestowed this award, which is often reckoned as the most prestigious literary award of India. Kedarnath Singh is known for his very rich collection of Hindi poetry in collections such as ‘Abhi Bilkul Abhi’, ‘Zameen pak Rahi Hai’, ‘Yahan se Dekho’, ‘Akaal mein Saaras’, ‘Baagh’ and ‘Tolstoy aur cycle’. ‘Mere Samay ke Shabd’, ‘Kalpana aur chhayavad’ and ‘Kabristan mein Panchayat’ are some of his prominent prose collections. 2013’s Jnanpith Award is the 49th edition of this prestigious award and Kedarnath Singh would become 54th Jnanpith Award winner overall)

4) Who is heading the 4-member committee to conduct an introspection of the Congress debacle in the recent general elections by meeting key of the party from different states and UTs? –A.K. Antony (A.K. Antony Committee is an informal committee which is involved in ascertaining the reasons for very poor performance of Congress party in the Lok Sabha Elections of 2014 where the party could win just 44 seats. Congress had over 200 seats in the 15th Lok Sabha. Other 3 members of this committee are – Mukul Wasnik, Avinash Pande and R.C. Khuntia)

5) According to the recently released report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which embarrassing milestone has been achieved in global refugee count by the end of 2013? – 50 million (According to the UNHCR the number of people who have had to flee from violence and crises has climbed above 50 million for the first time since the Second World War. The total number of refugees and people displaced within their own countries reached 51.2 million by the end of 2013, an increase of 6 million compared to the previous year)

6) Who won the Austrian F1 Grand Prix title for 2014 on 22 June 2014? – Nico Rosberg of Mercedes Team (Rosberg of Germany continued his domination of this year’s F1 season with another emphatic win. His teammate Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) claimed second place and third place was taken by Finland’s Valteri Bottas for Williams team. This was the first-ever podium finish for Bottas. Force India’s Sergio Perez (Mexico) finished at 6th position and his teammate Nico Hulkenburg (Germany) was at 9th position)

June 24, 2014

1) Which body, that during June 2014 submitted its report to the Prime Minister, has recommended that the Planning Commission should be replaced by a reforms and solution body as it exceeds the scope of its authority by acting as a control commission? –Independent Evaluation Office – IEO (The IEO, which was set up by the government in November 2010, from February this year began independently assessing the effectiveness of government programmes and institutional policies. It submitted the assessment report on Planning Commission to Prime Minister during June 2014. IEO in its report stated that since the Planning Commission has defied attempts to reform it to bring it in line with the needs of a modern economy and the trend of empowering the States, it is proposed that the Planning Commission be replaced)

2) Which national park of India has been included in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th Session held at Doha? – The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area – GHNPCA (GHNPCA was included under criterion (x) of UNESCO Guidelines. Criterion (x) is “To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.” The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area is in Himachal Pradesh and major part of it comprises of the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in the Kullu District)

3) The first copy of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism was released by the President Pranab Mukherjee on 23 June 2014. The Encyclopedia, a compendium of thousands of years of history, science, art, architecture, polity, religion, philosophy and culture, took 25 years to complete. Which organisation published this book? – India Heritage Research Foundation – IHRF (Swami Chidanand Saraswati of the Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh is the founder-chairman of IHRF. This Encyclopedia is not limited to Hinduism as a religion, but provides an inclusive treatment of India’s spiritual culture, including coverage of Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism traditions)

4) Which south-east Asian country’s top court (The Federal Court) on 23 June 2014 upheld a government ban forbidding non-Muslims from using “Allah” to refer to God? – Malaysia (While upholding the govt. ban the court rejected an appeal by the Roman Catholic Church that argued that the law failed to consider the rights of minorities in the largely Muslim nation. Although the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the 4-3 decision by the Federal Court is expected to reinforce complaints from Christians, Buddhist and Hindu minorities that non-Muslims do not always get fair treatment from the government and courts accusations the government denies)

5) What is the name of the popular film director and producer, who directed a record-breaking 125 movies in nine Indian languages, and who passed away on 22 June 2014? – Ramanarayanan (The prolific filmmaker Ramanarayanan made a name for himself making small-budget films, predominantly on devotional themes or stories in which animals and animated characters played central roles. He was basically a Tamil producer and director but easily switched to other languages like Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Bengali)

June 25, 2014

1) In a major achievement for India’s national airline Air India, the airline on 24 June 2014 formally became the part of which global airlines’ grouping which would enable seamless travel to over 1,300 destinations for its passengers? – Star Alliance (Ending a seven-year-long wait, the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board (CEB), at its meeting in London gave an endorsement vote to induct Air India into the fold. With this, Air India becomes the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance. Star Alliance is one of the largest alliance of global airlines and it now has 27 member airlines in its fold. Star Alliance members include major airlines like US carrier United, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Air China, Air Canada, Swiss, Austrian, All Nippon Airways, Thai and Turkish Airlines)

2) The prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site list crossed the 1,000 mark over the last few days as the 38th Session of World Heritage Committee at Doha (Qatar) concludes on 25 June 2014. Which entry became the 1,000th milestone entry into this list that was started in 1978? – The Okavango Delta in Botswana (This delta region has Africa’s largest elephant population and is considered a sanctuary for white and black rhinoceros. Along with this delta numerous other entries from the world over were included in World Heritage Site over the last few days)

3) Which major milestone was achieved by NASA’s Mars-rover Curiosity on 24 June 2014? – It completed one Mars year on this day which is equivalent to 687 Earth days (Curiosity arrived on Mars during August 2012 to conduct probe on the planet. The main goal for the probe was to determine whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favourable for microbial life. One of Curiosity’s first major findings was an ancient riverbed)

4) What is the name of Tata Group’s member company which entered into partnership with Europe’s Ruag Aviation to build new generation Dornier 228 aircrafts in India? – Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. – TASL (TASL opened the unit for Ruag Aviation at Hyderabad on 23 June 2014. The Ruag project is the fourth Aero structures unit to be set up by TASL since 2009 in Hyderabad and the products of all the units are 100% exported)

5) What is the name of the Delhi University Vice-Chancellor who tendered his resignation on 24 June 2014? – Prof. Dinesh Singh (He resigned from his post after the day-long confusion and chaos due to the ongoing tussle between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Delhi University (DU) over the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP). The resignation came shortly after the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the row. The SC dismissed a plea moved by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) seeking cancellation of the University Grants Commission (UGC) order asking the Delhi University (DU) to scrap its four-year undergraduate programme. The ambitious FYUP was the brain-child of Prof. Dinesh Singh)

June 26, 2014

1) Which new district in West Bengal was announced by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 25 June 2014, which becomes the 20th district of the state? – Alipurduar (Alipurduar was created in North Bengal’s Dooars region by bifurcating the Jalpaiguri district. Jalpaiguri was carved out as a district way back in 1869 and seven years later the Alipurduar sub-division was set up)

2) Which state will become the first one in India to implement 33% reservation for women in the police force as announced by the state govt. on 24 June 2014? – Gujarat (Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced 33% reservation for women in the police force. There are around 2,500 policewomen in the State at present. If the government manages to fill all 33% posts for women against the sanctioned strength, the state would have around 19,800 women in the force)

3) Which Rajdhani Express derailed at Golden Ganj station near Chapra (Bihar) on 25 June 2014 killing at least 4 people? – Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express (Twelve coaches of this premium were derailed in the incident at around 0200 hours on 25 June. Five coaches – B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4 and pantry car overturned in the derailment while seven other coaches – B-5 to B-10 and power car got derailed at the station)

4) What is the name of the former Solicitor General who withdrew his candidature for appointment as Supreme Court judge over lack of support from the Union Govt.? – Gopal Subramaniam (The development has put an end to the ongoing controversy over Subramaniam’s nomination by a Supreme Court collegium for the post of a judge in the apex court. The name of Subramanium, who served as the Solicitor-General during the UPA regime, was recommended by the collegium for elevation to the apex court bench along with some other names. But the government rejected his name and returned the file over his name while accepting the recommendation related to others. Though the government did not say anything officially on the rejection, there were reports that its decision was based on a CBI report that had questioned Subramanium’s role in arranging a meeting with the lawyer of the 2G accused even when he was the lawyer for CBI)

5) Which PSU general insurance company recently introduced “insurance on wheels” concept for faster renewal of policies? –National Insurance Company Ltd. (Under the scheme, a vehicle will be parked at appropriate locations in a city. People can renew their policies from there instead of going to the company office. Currently, the service has been introduced in 15-odd cities of the country)

6) The ancient city-states of Pyu, which were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List on 22 June 2014, are the first entry of which Asian country? – Myanmar (The trio of cities – Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra, are located in Myanmar’s central Dry Zone and feature the walled remains of sites built by the now-extinct Pyu people from the first to ninth centuries AD. The Pyu sites together formed one of 15 historical and natural sites in Myanmar on the tentative list for World Heritage status)

7) The delisting process of which pharma major came under market regulator SEBI’s lens for violation of its regulations on fraudulent and unfair trade practices and SEBI issued an order on 24 June 2014? –AstraZeneca (SEBI said that it started investigating the matter after coming across reports that the offer-for-sale (OFS) done by Astra Zeneca’s promoters in May 2013 was a deliberate attempt to subsequently get the share delisted at ease. On further examination, SEBI found that Astra Zeneca’s two earlier attempts at delisting (2004 and 2010) had been unsuccessful. In its order SEBI directed that the promoters of AstraZeneca shall finally purchase shares from public shareholders in the delisting offer only after seeking approval of the BSE and the NSE)

June 27, 2014

1) Goa has been formally declared as permanent venue for the prestigious annual International Film Festival of India (IFFI) by the Union Government recently. Goa, however, has been hosting the IFFI for a decade now. So what main advantage would be gained with this declaration? – Now there would be no more requirement of the annual Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) about the mega film festival to be signed between the state and the central governments as was the practice till now

2) How much minimum export price (MEP) on potatoes was slapped by the Union Govt. on 26 June 2014 with a view to ease prices in domestic market and ensure more availability in domestic markets? –$450 per tonne (The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in a notification announced that export of potatoes is permitted subject to MEP of US$ 450 per tonne. This was done with in view of continuous rise in price of potatoes which was selling in the range of Rs.25-30 per kg in major retail markets. Earlier the MEP on onion of US$ 300 per tonne was notified on 17 June 2014)

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