Current Affairs India - 31 August 2015

1. The housing ministry has identified 305 cities and towns across nine states for its -Housing for All- (Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna) scheme. With this it will start building houses for the poor in urban areas as per its target to provide houses to two crore families belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS) in urban areas by 2022.

The states that are likely to gain are Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, J&K, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana. Also six other states; Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Uttarakhand have agreed to implement six key reforms relating to clearances and approval for housing projects to accelerate their construction.

2. The Supreme Court stayed Rajasthan High Court's order declaring Santhara, a Jain ritual of voluntary and systematic fasting to death, as a criminal offence and issued a notice to Centre and the Rajasthan government. Earlier this month, the Rajasthan High Court had banned Santhara making it punishable under section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

3. The government has appointed the Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi as the new Home Secretary. Current he is working as the Economic Affairs Secretary and due to superannuate today. He will hold the post for 2 years. He succeeds L.C. Goyal, IAS who took voluntary retirement from government service due to personal reasons with immediate effect.

4. Senior IAS officer Raghav Chandra has taken over as the Chairman of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) today.He succeeds Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber who was given the additional charge of the key post in June this year for three months after former Chairman R P Singh completed his tenure.

Before this current appointment, Chandra was Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor for the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, ADF and Culture.

5. Indian economy grew by 7% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2015-16 which is much higher than the 6.7% growth recorded in the same quarter last fiscal year. However this growth is much lower compared to 7.5% growth witnessed in the previous quarter. The manufacturing sector grew by 7.2% in the same quarter compared to 8.4% in the year-ago period while growth in the output of electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services dropped sharply to 3.2% compared to 10.1% a year earlier.The farm and allied sectors grew at 1.9% compared to 2.6% in the same quarter last year.

RBI, which has cut interest rate by 0.75% since January this year, may cut interest rates during its next bi-monthly policy on 29th September.

6. India-s core sector growth slowed to 3-month low of 1.1% in July compared to 4.1% growth in the same month last year due to contraction in crude oil, natural gas and steel sector output. These eight core sectors have nearly 38% weight in overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

During the April to July period of the current financial year 2015-16, core sector output grew by 2.1% compared to 5.5% growth in the same period last financial year.