Seven new ministers join Assam Cabinet
• Seven ministers, four of cabinet rank and three Ministers of State with Independent charge, were sworn in on April 26, 2018 as a part of the first expansion of Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal’s ministry.
• Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi administered the oath of office and secrecy to the Ministers at a function at Raj Bhawan in Guwahati.
• It was the first Cabinet expansion since the BJP-led coalition government came to power in the state nearly two years ago.
• The Cabinet Ministers include Siddhartha Bhattacharya and Sum Ronghang from BJP, Phani Bhushan Choudhury from Asom Gana Parishad and Chandan Brahma from Bodoland Peoples Front.
• The three Ministers of State include BJP legislators - Tapan Gogoi, Bhabesh Kalita and Piyush Hazarika.
• With the expansion, only one seat remains vacant in the Ministry.
France won't leave Iran nuclear deal: Macron
• French President Emanuel Macron has announced that the nation will not leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and pushed for a comprehensive agreement with Tehran to address US concerns.
• In his joint address to the US Congress, Macron said that there is an existing framework called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to control the nuclear activity of Iran and both US and France have signed the plan.
• Macron further said that though the 2015 agreement may not address all and important concerns, it should not be abandoned without having something substantial instead.
• He said that the objective on Iran is clear that it shall never possess any nuclear weapons.
• The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also stated that the Iranian nuclear deal is very important and it should be maintained.
• The landmark 2015 nuclear deal calls for curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Pakistani court disqualifies Foreign Minister
• The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on April 26, 2018 disqualified Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif from Parliament for holding a work permit of the United Arab Emirates.
• The court announced its verdict on a petition stating that Asif did not mention his foreign employment in his nomination papers.
• A three-member special bench ruled that Asif was not "honest" and "truthful" as per the Constitution.
• It also stated that he was not even qualified to contest the 2013 general elections.
• The disqualification petition was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Usman Dar, who contested from the NA-110 constituency against Asif.
International donors pledge 4.4 billion dollars in aid for civilians caught up in Syrian civil war
• International donors on April 25, 2018 pledged 4.4 billion dollars in aid for 2018 for civilians caught up in the Syrian civil war.
• The fund, committed at a two-day conference in Brussels, is reportedly less than half of USD 9 billion that the United Nations said is needed this year to help those in need inside Syria and living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
• The head of the UN aid agency UNOCHA called the USD 4.4 billion a good start but Oxfam slammed the international response as tragically inadequate.
• The EU's aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said later that pledges of a further USD 3.4 billion for 2019 and after were made at the conference, attended by more than 80 countries, aid groups and agencies.
UGC releases a list of 24 fake universities
• In the interest of students and public at large, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has released a list comprising 24 fake Universities.
• The UGC said that these 24 self-styled, unrecognized institutions functioning in contravention of the UGC Act have been declared as fake and are not entitled to confer any degrees.
• The state-wise list of the universities includes Maithili University in Bihar; Commercial University, United Nations University, Vocational University, ADR-Centric Juridical University, Indian Institute of Science and Engineering, Viswakarma Open University for Self-Employment and Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya in Delhi.
• It also includes Badaganvi Sarkar World Open University Education Society in Karnataka, St. John’s University in Kerala, Raja Arabic University in Maharashtra, Indian Institute of Alternative Medicine and Institute of Alternative Medicine and Research in West Bengal.
• The institutes deemed fake in Uttar Pradesh include Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Mahila Gram Vidyapith, Gandhi Hindi Vidyapith, National University of Electro Complex Homeopathy, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose University (Open University), Uttar Pradesh Vishwavidyalaya, Maharana Pratap Shiksha Niketan Vishwavidyalaya and Indraprastha Shiksha Parishad.
• Further, the list includes Nababharat Shiksha Parishad and North Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology in Orissa and Sree Bodhi Academy of Higher Education in Puducherry.
The US urges Taliban to return from foreign safe havens
• The United States has urged Taliban to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens.
• Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan stated that it is time for the Taliban to participate in the country's electoral process.
• He said, more violence will not bring peace and security to Afghanistan.
• He further stated that the US supports the Afghan security forces who are standing against the Taliban and terrorist groups that seek to destroy the Afghan society.
Commissioning of Third Ship of Landing Craft Utility Mk-IV
• The third ship of the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV project was inducted into the Indian Navy on April 25, 2018 at Port Blair.
• The ship was commissioned as INLCU L53 by Vice Admiral Bimal Verma.
• Designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata, the ship showcases the immense potential of the country’s indigenous shipbuilding capability and is in line with India’s ‘Make in India’ goal.
• LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with a displacement of 830 Tons and is capable of transporting combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other Armoured Vehicles.
• The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems such as the Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).
• The indigenous CRN 91 Gun with Stabilised Optronic Pedestal provides the ship the requisite offensive capability for undertaking patrolling in addition.
Bureau of Indian Standards grants first license for Liquid Chlorine on All India Basis
• Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) granted the first licence to M/s Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for Liquid Chlorine on All India basis.
• Liquid Chlorine is usually used as a gas obtained by evaporating the liquid from the metal container.
• It is used mainly in paper, pulp, textile bleaching, water sterilization and manufacture of chemicals.