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- The 42nd session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held in Manama, Bahrain on June 30, 2018, has inscribed four cultural sites on the World Heritage List. These four cultural sites are Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai (India), Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars region (Iran), Hidden Christian Sites in Nagasaki Region (Japan) and Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (South Korea). The World Heritage Sites are sites selected by UNESCO, having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance and are legally protected by international treaties. The list is maintained by international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The committee comprises of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by UN General Assembly.
- The World Heritage Committee declared the Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai as the World Heritage Property, thus, inscribing the site on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list under Criteria (ii) and (iv) as defined in the UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines. This inscription makes Mumbai the second city in India after Ahmedabad to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. The decision was taken during the meeting of World Heritage Committee in Manama under the chair of Shaikha Haya Bint Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain. India accepted the renaming of the ensemble as “Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai”, as recommended by the World Heritage Committee. The Ensemble comprises of two architectural styles – the 19th century collection of Victorian structures and the 20th century Art Deco buildings along the sea, conjoined by the historical open space of the Oval Maidan. This architectural ensemble represents the most remarkable collection of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the world which form the unique character of this urban setting, unparalleled in the world. With this inscription, India now has become second largest in number after China in terms of number of World Heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall sixth in the world with overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed sites. In the past 5 years, India has managed to get seven of its sites inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
- The Banks Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended 15 executive directors to be elevated as managing directors (MD) at various public sector banks (PSBs). It was headed by former Department of Personnel and Training Secretary B P Sharma. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister will take the final decision in this regard. BBB is advisory authority (autonomous and self-governing body) of Central Government comprising eminent professionals and officials to improve governance of PSBs. Union Government in August 2015 announced it as part of seven point Indradhanush Mission to revamp PSBs and based on recommendations of RBI-appointed Nayak Committee. It is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The first BBB was set up in February 2016 under chairmanship of former CAG Vinod Rai.
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated the 9th Heads of Mission Conference that was held in New Delhi from June 30-July 2, 2018 with the theme of “Unprecedented Outreach: Unparalleled Outcomes”. The conference comes at the time when India is monitoring several important global developments including sanctions imposed by United States on Russia and Iran, and Chinas new assertiveness in Indo-Pacific region. It saw participation of all Indian ambassadors and high commissioners and deliberated on Indias key foreign policy issues and goals.
- India’s longest-range ballistic missile, Agni-V, will be inducted into the nuclear arsenal very soon. Agni-V is an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) with a range of over 5,000 km and can reach most parts of China. The missile features the latest technologies for navigation and improved accuracy. The Agni series of missiles constitute the backbone of Indias nuclear weapons delivery, which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft. The submarine-based nuclear arsenal, which assures second strike capability in the face of the proclaimed No-First-Use policy, is taking shape.
- The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind will interact with the Centre and State governments and the local administration to find solutions to incidents of communal violence in the country. It will also disseminate literature on Islam among non-Muslims in English, Hindi and other Indian languages to convey the peaceful and ethical teachings of Islam in the interest of social reconciliation and harmony. For this purpose, Jamiat will publish and disseminate Islamic literature in Hindi, English and other regional languages.
- Madhya Pradesh Government has conferred prestigious National Kalidas Samman on noted artist Anjolie Ela Menon (78) for her contribution to visual arts. The award was conferred in recognition of her insightful and sensitive portrayal of the identity and spirit of women through her meaningful paintings in a variety of media. She is a well-known muralist and one of Indias leading contemporary artists. She is recipient of numerous national and international awards including the Padma Shri. She recently received a doctorate from Rabindra Bharati University. Kalidas Samman is prestigious arts award presented annually by Government of Madhya Pradesh. It was first awarded in 1980. It was initially conferred in alternate years in fields of Classical Music, Classical Dance, Theatre and Plastic Arts. From 1986-87 onwards, it was presented in all four fields every year.
- More than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, according to the latest analysis of a census data released this week. There are 121 languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people in India, which has a population of 121 crore. However, 96.71 per cent population in the country have one of the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue.
- The Income Tax Department has launched an “instant” Aadhaar-based PAN allotment service for individuals seeking the unique identity for the first time. This facility is free of cost and instant allotment of e-PAN is available for a limited period on a first-come, first-served basis for valid Aadhaar holders. The new PAN will have the same name, date of birth, gender, mobile number and address as in the Aadhaar.
- IAS officer Alka Tiwari has been appointed as secretary in anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission as part of a major senior-level bureaucratic reshuffle affected by the central government. Tiwari, a 1988-batch IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, is at present joint secretary in the Department of Fertilizers. Twenty officials have been appointed as Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries in various departments.