Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2014 - Page 7

Bimal Jalan appointed as head of Expenditure Management Commission

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Bimal Jalan has been appointed as head of the Expenditure Management Commission, which will study various aspects of expenditure reforms to be undertaken by the government. The panel will submit its interim report before the 2015-16 Budget and its final report before the 2016-17 Budget.

The formation of EMC follows the announcement of the same made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2014-15.  With the setting up of EMC, the government intends to review the allocative and operational efficiencies of the government expenditure to achieve maximum output.

Previous ERCs

Atal Bihari Vajpayee government initiated Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC) headed by former finance secretary K P Geethakrishnan during the year 1999-2000. This commission suggested moderating the central government machinery and winding up of some government departments. A few recommendations of the panel were implemented during the term of then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. 

In 2002, UPA government appointed former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar as the head of the Committee for fiscal consolidation plan which included cutting down the subsidies. The Committee recommended increasing diesel and cooking gas prices gradually. The panel’s suggestions are being followed.

WHO approves use of experimental drug ZMapp against Ebola Virus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the use of drug ZMapp to combat Ebola spread as the death count surged.

The WHO decision comes after a US firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical supplied ZMapp to treat two US health workers who contracted the Ebola virus while treating Ebola affected patients in Liberia. The drug has shown some positive effects in saving the lives of Ebola-infected people.

The WHO has decided that the experimental drugs should be used with all transparency including aspects of care, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person and preservation of dignity. Doctors would not administer ZMapp without consent of the patients.

ZMapp

The current outbreak of Ebola is seen as the most terrible since the discovery of Ebola Virus. At present, there is no cure for Ebola. Recently, Mapp Biopharmaceutical offered the drug ZMapp to two US doctors who got affected with the Ebola disease.

The drug uses a novel method of passive immunization to treat Ebola disease by inserting genetically altered Ebola protein into tobacco leaves. However, it has been tested only on monkeys so far and it was to be tested on human volunteers in 2015. The abrupt outbreak of Ebola hastened the development.

‘Burra katha’ exponent Daroji Eramma passed away

The renowned and one of the last exponents of ‘Burra Katha’ Daroji Eramma (84) passed away.

Ms. Eramma, belonged to the ‘Budaga Janagama’ community, a nomadic tribe (SC), had perfected the folk art form of storytelling based on mythological and social themes. She was a famous personality across the country. Ms. Eramma could render as many as 12 epics by-heart, as per the records of the Department of Tribal Studies, Kannada University in Hampi. In recognition to her contribution to this art, the Kannada University honored her with the Nadoja Award. She was also conferred the Rajyotsava and Janapada Shri awards.

What is ‘Burra katha’?

“Burra” means ‘tambura’, a musical string instrument with a hollow shell. “Katha” is Sanskrit equivalent of ‘story’. Burra means a skull in Telugu. The shell resembles a human skull. It is made of baked clay or dried pumpkin, or of brass and copper.

Burra katha, is a oral storytelling practice in the Katha tradition, performed in villages of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Burrakatha tellers are called as “budagajangalu”The ensemble consists of one main performer and two co-performers. It is a narrative entertainment that consists of prayers, solo drama, dance, songs, poems and jokes. The theme will be either a Hindu mythological story or a contemporary social issue.

The art is also known by other local names like Jangam Kataha in the coastal region of Andhra, in Rayalaseema is known as Tandana katha or suddulu and in Telangana it is Tamboora katha or sarada katha.

Popular performers of Burra Katha include Pendyala Venkateswarrao, Paruchuri Ramakotayya, Kosuri Punnayya, Kakumanu Subbarao, Mahankali Lakshmi and Moturi Udayam

The art is now on the verge of extinction with people turning to TV and internet for entertainment. 

Significance

Burra katha a pastime event in villages can be seen even today especially during Dussehra or Sankranti festivals. It is used to narrate narrate events in epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat, etc. Burra Katha played an impressive role in delivering message to people and awakening people throughout the Indian Independence Movement.Since Burra Katha it was a medium to educate the people of the political situation, the British Government had banned Burra katha in Madras and the Nizam Government banned it in Hyderabad kingdom.

Outstanding Parliamentarian Award to Arun Jaitley, Karan Singh and Sharad Yadav

President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee presented the Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards to Arun Jaitley, Dr Karan Singh and Sharad Yadav for the year 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. The awards were conferred upon them for their priceless contribution in discharge of their parliamentary duties.

President while presenting the awards urged all Parliamentarians to maintain the prestige and dignity of Parliament, as it’s a duty of every Parliamentarian.

Background of Outstanding Parliamentarian Award

The Outstanding Parliamentarian Award was established in 1992 by Shivraj Patil who was then the Speaker of Lok Sabha. The Indian Parliamentary Group selects an outstanding sitting Member of the Indian Parliament after considering his/her overall contribution in Parliament.

PM Modi inaugurates 44MW Chutak hydropower station at Kargil

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the Chutak Hydroelectric Plant at Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir. The power station is a run-of-the-river power project on the Suru River (a tributary of Indus). The barrage of the project is at Sarze village and the powerhouse has been built on the right bank of the Suru near Chutak Village.

The project envisages utilizing a gross head of 63.4 m (208 ft) to generate 216.41 GWh in a 90% dependable year with an installed capacity of 44 MW. The project will be connected to the Northern Grid by the 220 kV Leh-Srinagar transmission line, which is to be scheduled for commissioning along with project’s commissioning. The project is being executed by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd.

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