Current Affairs on 18th March 2015

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Parliament passes Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders Amendment Bill, 2015
1. Parliament has passed Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders Amendment Bill, 2015.
2. The bill was first passed in Rajya Sabha on February 24, 2015 and later in Lok Sabha on March 17, 2015
3. The bill seeks to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in three states Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha and one Union Territory- Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
4. The Bill amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Dadra and Nagar Haveli) Scheduled Castes Order, 1962.
The following communities are added into the list of SC:-
1. Haryana - Kabirpanthi, Julaha.
2. Karnataka - Bhovi, od, odde, Vaddar, Waddar.
3. Odisha - Dhoba, Dhobi, Dom, Dombo, Duria Dom, Katia, Kela, Nalua Kela, Khadala and Turi.
4. Dadra and Nagar Haveli - Chamar.

Union Cabinet clears the black money bill
1. Union Cabinet has cleared the black money bill to curb the menace of black money in the country. Decision in this regard was taken at the cabinet meeting in New Delhi.
2. Union Government is seeking to introduce this bill the current budget session of Parliament.
Under Bill
1. The proposed bill gives powers to tax authorities to track and deal with illegal wealth stashed abroad.
2. Under the provisions of the new Bill, the offences related to black money will be non-compoundable and the offenders will not be permitted to approach the Settlement Commission.
3. The bill also has provision of punishment to deal with the black money cases. It proposes penalty at the rate of 300 per cent of taxes to be levied on the concealed income and assets, in addition to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
4. Union Cabinet also approved to release of 33,000 crore rupees in tranches to states and Union Territories (UTs). These tranches will provide compensation to states and UTs for revenue loss on account of phasing out of Centre Sales Tax, CST for the three financial years up to 2012-2013.

ISRO to collaborate with other space agencies for inter-planetary explorations

1. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to collaborate with other space agencies on inter-planetary explorations.
2. It was announced by Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha.
3. Presently ISRO is having talks with space agencies of the United States of America, Russia and France to collaborate for inter-planetary explorations.
4. From this collaboration, India will acquire the knowledge to minimize the cost of launching complex missions and enhance the technological capabilities in spacecraft design. 

Kavinder Gupta elected as J&K assembly Speaker

1. Kavinder Gupta on 18 March 2015 was unanimously elected as Speaker of the 12th Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
2. The motion to elect the speaker of assembly was moved by State Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Basharat Bukari and seconded by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh.
3. Gupta was elected with voice vote as there was no one from the Opposition going against the motion. 
4. He will replace the Protem Speaker Muhammad Shafi of National Conference.
5. Kavinder Gupta is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Gandhinagar constituency in Jammu district.  He is the first time MLA to state assembly.

France, Germany, Italy decides to join China-backed AIIB  

1. Three nations from European Union (EU) France, Germany and Italy have agreed to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after the United Kingdom (UK) decided to join the bank.
2. If these western nations join the bank, the total number of the bank’s member states including India will go up to 30.
3. UK was the first Western country to join the bank and also first nation to disregard the reservations expressed by the United States (US) which had raised concerns over banks transparency.
About Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank:-
1. AIIB is an international financial institution proposed by China which seeks to provide support to infrastructure projects in Asia.
2. It is expected to be operational by the end 2015 
3. Its headquarters will be located at Beijing.
4. The bank is also considered as China’s move to balance the power with the WB, IMF and ADB which are being controlled/dominated by the US, EU and Japan respectively.
5. The authorised capital of AIIB is US $100 bn and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around US $50 bn. The paid-in ratio will be 20%.
6. India along with other 20 member nations were founding member of AIIB and had signed agreement in this regard in October 2014.

Union Environment Ministry revokes suspension of Goa mines

1. Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has revoked 3 year-old suspension of environmental clearances (ECs) of mines in Goa. It was announced by Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.
2. This decision will pave the way for resumption of iron ore extraction in the state especially in 72 out of the total 89 approved mining leases.
3. MoEF decision to lift the ban on mining was taken as per the directives of the Supreme Court (SC).