Lt Gen Ranbir Singh appointed Northern Army Commander
• Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, who was the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) when India carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, has been appointed Northern Army commander.
• Lt Gen Singh succeeds Lt Gen Anbu who will take charge as Vice Chief of the Indian Army on June 1. At present, Lt Gen Singh is Deputy Chief of the Army Staff.
• Singh was the DGMO when India had carried out surgical strikes across the LoC on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 in 2016.
• The Udhampur-based Northern Command is considered very crucial as it looks after Army's operations in Jammu and Kashmir besides guarding the LoC.
Maharashtra agriculture minister passes away
• Maharashtra Agriculture Minister, Pandurang Fundkar passed away on May 31, 2018 in Mumbai, after a brief illness. He was 67.
• The senior BJP leader was a three-term MP and a former president of the Maharashtra party unit. The legislator first became an MLA in 1978.
• Fundkar was a farmers' leader and did justice to the portfolio he held, after being inducted in the Devendra Fadnavis ministry in July 2016.
Indian singer Zubeen Garg to receive PETA award
• India singer Zubeen Garg would be honoured with the 'Hero to Animals Award' from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India for his recent appeal to end animal sacrifice at the Kamakhya Temple in Assam.
• Zubeen had expressed his anguish over the ritual of animal sacrifice and appealed for putting an end to the practice while performing at a Bihu function near the temple recently.
• The priests of the Kamakhya Temple had subsequently criticised Zubeen for his statement and demanded an apology from him at the earliest.
• Last year, following various efforts by PETA India and People for Animals, the Municipal Council of Kullu had issued an executive order refusing to grant permission for animal sacrifices that were scheduled to take place on the last day of the Kullu Dussehra festival.
Defence Minister inaugurates IAF Commanders’ Conference
• Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 31, 2018 inaugurated the first biannual IAF Commanders' Conference of 2018 at Air Headquarters.
• During the inauguration, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa briefed the Defence Minister regarding the current status of the IAF and on Exercise ‘Gagan Shakti', which was conducted in April 2018.
• The two-day conference will involve discussions over operational, maintenance and administrative takeaways identified during the exercise and the way ahead.
1.5 lakh affordable houses sanctioned for urban poor under PMAY (urban)
• The Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has approved the construction of another 1.5 lakh affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs.7,227cr with central assistance of Rs.2,209 cr.
• The approval was given in the 34th meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee, held in Delhi on May 30, 2018.
• While Andhra Pradesh has been sanctioned 56,512 houses in 22 cities and towns with an investment of Rs 3184cr with central assistance of Rs 848 cr, Uttar Pradesh got 23,060 houses in 110 cities and towns with an investment of Rs 870cr and central assistance of Rs 346 cr.
Indian Railways revises passenger reservation form
• The Union Ministry of Railways has revised its passenger reservation form to benefit the passengers booking tickets through reservation windows across the nation.
• Now, the VIKALP scheme option will also be available on booking made through reservation windows and not just through online bookings.
• If the option of VIKALP is availed by passengers, he/she would have to mark his/her choice of alternate train departing within 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours.
• The passenger would also be given an optional choice to mention their Aadhar number in the reservation form.
Tourism Minister to launch first ever guidelines by government on Adventure Tourism
• The Union Government would soon be issuing first-ever guidelines for Adventure Tourism in India.
• The guidelines on Safety and Quality Norms for Adventure Tourism in India have been formulated along with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI).
• In an effort to make adventure sports safer, the set of guidelines list out the basic minimum standards required for adventure tourism activities in India.
CRY receives USD 100,000 grant from Oracle
• The non-governmental child rights organisation, Child Rights and You (CRY) announced on May 30, 2018 that it has received a USD 100,000 grant from global technology major Oracle for a digitally enhanced monitoring system that would potentially improve lives of underprivileged children across 19 states.
• The USD 100,000 grant aims to harness the power of state-of-the-art digital technology in reaching out to underprivileged children of India.
• This system will potentially improve lives spanning across 19 states of India and covers 2,060 villages, 2 lakh households and 4.13 lakh children.