Current Affairs in Short: 22 March 2018
‘We Are Sikhs’ campaign, a campaign to create awareness of Sikhism and its followers in the United States and fight prejudice has won a top US award for excellence in public relations programming to promote public causes.
1. India successfully flight tests supersonic cruise missile BrahMos
• India on March 22, 2018 successfully flight tested the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos from Pokhran test range in Rajasthan.
• The precision strike weapon with Indian-made seeker flew in its designated trajectory and hit the target with pinpoint accuracy.
• The successful test comes after the recent milestone for Brahmos, which was flight-tested for the first time in November from the Indian Air Force's (IAF) frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal.
• The air-launched variant of the BrahMos was test fired from a Sukhoi-30 combat jet to enhance the precision strike capability of the air force.
2. Government sets up task force to draft new Direct Tax Law
• The Union Government has constituted a task force to review the Income-tax Act, 1961 and to draft a new Direct Tax Law in consonance with the economic needs of the country.
• According to the Finance Ministry, in this endeavour of drafting the new tax law, it is imperative to engage with stakeholders and general public.
• The Ministry has sought suggestions and feedback from stakeholders and general public in the format provided on the departmental website.
• It said, the format can be downloaded from the website and suggestions may be sent through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, latest by April 2, 2018.
3. IRCTC introduces billing through Point of Sale in trains
• The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced billing through Point of Sale (POS) hand-held machines in trains to check overcharging by vendors.
• The move will not only help in making passengers aware of relevant information but also in improving the passenger satisfaction.
• The POS billing machines will be introduced in trains in a phased manner. The IRCTC has already introduced POS machines in New Delhi -Karnataka Express on a pilot basis.
• Further, in next phase, 100 POS machines will be commissioned on 26 trains. The corporation is also deploying its officials onboard on these trains for the purpose of monitoring the catering services.
• These Officials are also being provided with Tablets (Tab) which will be used for collection of passenger feedback.
4. UNHRC raises concerns on slow progress in Sri Lanka on post-war accountability issue
• UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has raised concerns on slow progress in Sri Lanka on the post-war accountability issue even as the government assured that it will implement all transitional justice mechanisms in accordance with the country's constitution.
• At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, several countries called on Sri Lanka to set a time-bound action plan to carry out its pledges on accountability issues.
• Kate Gilmore, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights told the council it seems doubtful that the transitional justice agenda committed to by the Government under resolution 30/1 could be fully implemented before the next report in March 2019.
• Sri Lanka had co-sponsored the resolution in 2015 after new government came into power but they seem to have backtracked on its implementation.
5. Committees on Journalist Welfare Scheme & Central Press Accreditation reconstituted
• The Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has reconstituted the composition of Committee on Journalist Welfare Scheme and Central Press Accreditation Committee.
• The Central Press Accreditation Committee will be chaired by Principal Director General, PIB with representatives from Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association as its members. The members of the committee would have a term of 2 years and shall meet once in a quarter or more frequently.
• Journalists have been made members of the Committee on Journalist Welfare Scheme for the first time.
• The Journalist Welfare scheme aims to provide one time ex-gratia relief on urgent basis to journalists and their families on the event of extreme hardship.
6. ‘We Are Sikhs’ campaign wins top US award
• ‘We Are Sikhs’ campaign, a campaign to create awareness of Sikhism and its followers in the United States and fight prejudice has won the top 2018 PRWeek US award in the category of Public Cause.
• The campaign was awarded for excellence in public relations programming to promote public causes.
• The campaign was launched last year on the occasion of Baisakhi by the National Sikh Campaign (NSC) and executed by FP1 Strategies.
• It won the award for effectively projecting the Sikhs as neighbours and everyday Americans who face discrimination due to ignorance of their faith.
• The PRWeek US awards are nicknamed as the “Oscars of the Public Relations Industry.”
7. NITI Aayog, Piramal Foundation sign agreement to transform Aspirational Districts
• The NITI Aayog and Piramal Foundation entered into a Statement of Intent (SoI) to work closely with the district collectors and key officers of 'Aspirational Districts' to support their transformation in terms of healthcare, education and nutrition.
• Earlier this year, NITI Aayog ranked 115 Aspirational Districts selected by the Government on six socio-economic parameters, pertaining to health and nutrition, education, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources and basic infrastructure.
• The think tank also highlighted multiple challenges across indicators that need to be disentangled, in order to transform these Aspirational Districts across India.
• Under the SoI with NITI Aayog, Piramal Foundation will work closely with the district administration, state government and concerned central ministries in improving the identified indicators by strengthening the existing public systems specifically in the health and nutrition and education sectors.
• The collaboration is for a duration of four years, with the option to continue, based on mutual agreement.