GENERAL AWARENESS -- 99th AMENDMENT --NOBEL PRIZE ETC.
· Which Constitutional Amendment was struck down by the Supreme Court?
The 99th Constitutional Amendment
The five-judge Constitution Bench chaired by Justice J. S. Khehar on October 16, 2015 declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment as unconstitutional and void, restoring the collegiums system in which the Chief Justice of India will have ‘the last word in the appointments of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Apex Court and High Courts. The Apex Court with 4:1 majority verdict said that the NJAC was against the independence of the judiciary and the basic structure of the Constitution. But despite the rejection of the 99th Amendment, the Bench also admitted that the Collegium System for appointments of judges in the higher judiciary needs some improvements to make it more transparent and fairer.
· Who is the new Chairman of AEC? Sekhar Basu
Noted nuclear scientists Sekhar Basu assumed charge as Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) on October 23, succeeding R. K. Sinha on this post. Mr. Basu will also hold the post of Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Prior to his new assignments, he was the Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Trombay. Mr. Basu, a mechanical engineer from Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, University of Mumbai, played a key role in building the reactor for India’s nuclear powered Submarine Arihant.
· Who has been appointed as first male member of NCW? Alok Rawat
Former Cabinet Secretary and a 1977 batch IAS officer of Sikkim Cadre Alok Rawat has been appointed as the fourth member of the National Commission for Women (NCW), becoming the first man to be part of the Commission meant only for women related issues and matters. Mr. Rawat has served in numerous ministries and on various posts including secretary of UPSC, Director/Joint Secretary in Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Secretary in Ministry of Water Resources.
· Who has been appointed AIFF advisor? Bhaichung Bhutia
Former Indian football team skipper Bhaichung Bhutia has been appointed the All India Football Federation advisor for ‘overall issues of the game and the federation’, announced by AIFF President Praful Patel on twitter on October 18, 2015. Bhutia currently is the Chairman of the AIFF Technical Committee. Bhutia, the founding member of Football Players Association in India has been assigned to help prepare the team at a basic level.
· Who has been selected for the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration?
Eminent Gandhian social worker Rajagopal P.V. has been selected for the 29th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration for the year 2013 and 2014 for his services in promoting and preserving national integration, mutual trust and harmony in the country. The award carries a citation and a cash prize worth
10 lakh. Smt. Aruna
Asaf Ali, Mr. P. N. Haksar, Smit. M. S. Subbulakshmi, Paramdham Ashram, Paunar
(Wardha), Shri Syam Bengal, Smt. Mahasweta Devi are some former recipients of
this award which is given on October 31, the martyradom day of Stmt. Indira
Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India.
· Indian Navy recently commissioned its first indigenously-built torpedo launch vessel named
Vice Admiral, Eastern Naval Command Satish Soni on October 6 commissioned India’s first indigenously designed and built torpedo launch and recovery vessel INS Astradharini at an impressive ceremony at the Naval Base, Vishapatnam. The design of the Astradharini is a collaborative effort of NSTL, M/s Shoft Shipyard and IIT Kharagpur. Having a length of 50 metres, the vessel can achieve the speed upto 15 knots. It has a unique design of a catamaran hull form that significantly reduces its power requirement. It is also capable of operating high sea states.
· Name the winner of Dutch Open Grand Prix Men’s Singles Crown-2015 Ajay Jayaram
India’s Ajay Jayaram retained his Dutch Open Grand Prix Men’s Singles Crown on October 11, 2015, beating Estonia’s Raul Must 21-12, 21-18 in the final at Almere, the Netherlands. It is the second title of Jayaram’s international career and his first also came here at the Dutch Open last year.
· Who has been elected the new PM of Canada? Justin Trudeau
Canada’s Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau was elected the new Prime Minister of Canada in the general election on October 19, 2015, ending nine-year reign of Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party. The Liberal Party won 184 seats in the 338-member House of Commons with 39.5 per cent vote in support followed by the Conservatives who were reduced to 102 seats from 159 in the last government. Harper’s Conservative Party could gain only 32% votes. Justin is the son of the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who swept to office in 1968.
· Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been elected the first woman President of Nepal
Former Defence Minister and veteran leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected the new President of Nepal, becoming the first woman to hold this top, but ceremonial post of Nepal on October 28, 2015. She succeeds Ram Baran Yadav on this post. She secured 327 votes to beat her opponent Kul Bahadur Gurung who secured only 214 votes in the election. She served as the Defence Minister of Nepal from 2009 to 2011. After becoming the President of Nepal, she is now the Supreme Commander of the Nepal Army.
· Which countries have recently been elected to serve on the UNSC?
Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly on October 15, 2015 elected Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay as non-permanent members on the UN Security Council for a two-year term starting on January 1, 2016. The five overall seats available for election in 2015, distributed regionally were : two seats for the African group (currently held by Chad and Nigeria); one seat for the Asia-Pacific group (presently held by Jordan); one seat for the Latin America and Caribbean States group (currently held by Chile) and one seat for the Eastern European Group (held by Lithuania). The other five non-permanent members that will remain on the council until the end of 2016 are Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela.
· Hand-in-Hand-2015 was a joint military exercise between India and China
The fifth joint military exercise between India and China was organized at Kumming Military Academy in Yunnan province of China from October 12 to 23, 2015 with emphasis on joint tackling of terror attacks and ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief’. The Hand-in-Hand 2015 was aimed at boosting military ties and mutual trust between the two Asian giants.
· What was the name of Indo-Japan-USA trilateral naval exercise? Malabar-2015
The Indo-Japan-US trilateral naval exercise—Malabar 2015 was organized from October 14 to 19, 2015 at the Eastern Coast of India in the Bay of Bengal. Originally, India and USA started a bilateral naval exercise in 1992 under the name of Malabar to boost naval cooperation and strategic ties between the two countries. Japan joined the Malabar as its third permanent participant only in its 19th edition this year. Japan has taken part in Malabar in some previous exercises as non-permanent participant which drew strong opposition from China. Malabar is the name of coastline of Kerala and some other parts of western coast of India.
· Who emerged the 2015 Formula One Champion in the US Grand Prix?
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton
Reigning Formula One Champion Lewis Hamilton retained his crown on October 6, 2015 by winning the US Grand Prix – 2015 in Austin (Texas). Hamilton took the chequered flag in 1 hour, 50 minutes and 52.703 second, 2.850 seconds clear of his teammate and pole position holder Nico Rosberg who finished second. Winning his third F1 Championship, Hamilton became the first Briton to win back-to-back championships and second Briton after Jackie Stewart to win it three times. The win at US Grand Prix extended his points lead to unbeatable 327 points total and he was declared winner despite a few races remaining this season.
· Who has been elected the new Chief of IPCC? Hoesung Lee
South Korean climate change expert, Hoesung Lee was on October 6, 2015 elected the new chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), succeeding India’s R. K. Pachauri who resigned from this UN body in February 2015 amid allegations of sexual harassment. Lee is a professor of the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development at Korea University, Seoul. Lee secured 78 votes while his nearest rival Jean Pascal of Belgium obtained only 56 votes.
· Name the winner of Nobel Peace Prize – 2015 Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 on October 9 for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. The Quartet comprises four organizations : The Tunisian General Labour Union; The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; The Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian order of Lawyers. Due to the National Dialogue Quartet’s efforts, Tunisia which faced a huge political and social turmoil and instability in January 2011, now has a new Constitution, free elections and a coalition with secular and Islamist parties.
NOBEL PRIZE – 2015
Nobel Prizes one of the most prestigious honours of the world were announced for the year 2015 in six traditional categories – Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace and Economics in October 2015. The list of the Nobel prize winners this year is as follows-
Physiology or Medicine – Irish-born William Campbell, Satoshi Omura of Japan and Tu Youyou of China were declared the joint winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for discovering drugs against malaria and other parasitic diseases. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden announced the Nobel winners in medicine on October 5, 2015. Tu Youyou, the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel and also the first Chinese to win it in the field of Medicine was honoured with the award for discovering ‘Artemisinin’, a drug that has effectively reduced the mortality rates from Malaria. Born in 1930, Tu was associated with China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine as the Chief Professor of the Pharmacy department.
William C. Campbell, currently a Research fellow Emeritus at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey and Satoshi Omura, currently Professor Emeritus at Kitasato University won the coveted honour for discovering a new drug ‘Avermectin’. A derivative of that drug ‘Ivermectin’ has nearly eradicated river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, two diseases caused by parasitic worms.
Physics – Takaaki Kajita of Japan and Arthur McDonald of Canada were declared the joint winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm on October 6 for discovering that elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass, opening a new window onto the fundamental nature of the universe. Neutrinos, the second most bountiful particles after photons are capable of carrying light with trillions of them streaming through our bodies every second. Kajita and Arthur’s work was the discovery of a phenomenon called neutrino oscillation which forced scientists of the world to think in a new direction about the nature of universe.
Kajita, Director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and Professor at University of Tokyo, successfully showed that neutrinos captured at the detector underwent a Metamorphosis in the atmosphere. McDonald, the Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University in Canada later proved that neutrinos coming from the Sun to the Earth did not disappear, but changed their identities. Their discovery has helped cosmologists understand how the universe has evolved.
Chemistry – Swedish Scientist Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich of USA and US-Turkish national Aziz Sancar shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on October 7 for their pioneering “mechanistic studies of DNA repair”, a work which may be very useful to develop new cancer treatments.
Tomas Lindahl is a Professor of Medical and Physiological Chemistry at University of Gothenburg and Emeritus Group Leader at Francis Crick Institute, U. K. Paul Modrich is associated with Duke University School of Medicine, U. K. Aziz Sancar, the second Turk to win a Nobel after novelist Orhan Pamuk in 2006, is a Professor of Bio-chemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina, USA. The three scientists got the honour for successfully mapping how cells safeguard genetic information after repairing damaged DNA-a constant phenomenon inside the human body.
Literature-Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and novelist was declared the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for documenting and mapping over three decades of the world post the collapse of the Soviet Union. She is the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Alexievch’s work is a unique blend of literature and journalism in which she gae a nice portrayal of the lives of men and women after the World War II, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. War’s Unwomanly Face (1985) her first book, Zinky Boys : Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (1989), Enchanted with Death (1993) and Voices from Chernobyl are her notable literary works.
Peace-The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet a coalition of labour unions, businesses, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize, this year announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo on October 9 “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy I Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011”. The Tunisian Dialogue Quartet consists of four organizations-the Tunisia General Labour Union, The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League; and he Tunisian Orders of Lawyers. It was the effort of the Quartet that Peace and order came back in Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Orders of Lawyers. It was the effort of the Quartet that Peace and order came back in Tunisia with a new Constitution, free elections and a coalition of secular and Islamist Parties after the tumultuous days of January, 2011.
Economics-British economist Angus Deaton was declared the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science “for his analysis, of Consumption, Poverty and Welfare.” Deaton holds both US and British Citizenships. Professor Deaton is associated with the Princeton University, USA. He is best known for his insight that economic averages such as national income may be incorrect in some way because they don’t point out important variations among individuals.
The Nobel Prizes will be conferred on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896 at the traditional award ceremonies in Stockholm (Sweden) and Oslo (Norway). Each category of the Award will carry 8 million Swedish Kronor (about $ 975,000) as prize money.
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