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Lok Sabha passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Lok Sabha on 25 April 2016 passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The bill – already passed by the Rajya Sabha on 16 March 2016– seeks to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 with effect from 8 October 2003.
It proposes removal of an exception made for Sahajdharis in 1944 that allowed them to vote in elections for the Board and committees instituted under the Act.
The 1925 Act provided that every Sikh who is above 21 years of age and is registered as a voter will be entitled to vote in the elections to the SGPC and management committees. However, no person who trims or shaves his beard or hair will be entitled to vote in these elections.  

In 1944, the Act created an exception for Sehjdhari Sikhs who trim or shave their beard or hair, and allows them to vote.  The Bill removes this exception, disentitling Sehjdhari Sikhs from voting if they carry out these activities.
• It proposed to remove the exception given to Sehajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections for selecting members of the board and the committees constituted under the Act.
• This amendment will debar Sahjdhari Sikhs voting rights. As Sehajdhari Sikhs are continuously exercising their voting rights in the Shiromani GurdwaraParbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections since 1949.
• However, the notification was quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 20 December 2011, leaving it to the appropriate and competent legislature to decide as to whether or not to amend the Act to that effect.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet on 10 March 2016 approved the proposal of Home Ministry to amend the Sikh Gurudwaras Act, 1925, with effect from 8 October 2003.
As per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, only Sikhs who follow all the fundamental tenets of being a Sikh can contest the election. But as per a 1944 rule, the electorate included Sahajdhari Sikhs as voters as well — a tradition decried by the Sikh community.
A Sehajdhari is a person who has chosen the path of Sikhism, but is not baptized. He believes in all tenets of Sikhism and teachings of the Sikh Gurus, but may or may not adorn the five symbols of the Sikh faith.
Under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, Sehjdhari Sikhs are those persons who: (i) perform ceremonies according to Sikh rites, (ii) do not consume tobacco or halal meat, (iii) have not been expelled from the religion for committing a religious transgression, and (iv) can recite the Mul Mantra (a Sikh prayer).

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Indo-Mongolia Joint Military Exercise, Nomadic Elephant – 2016, commenced

The 11th Indo-Mongolia joint training Exercise, titled ‘Nomadic Elephant - 2016’ commenced on 25 April 2016 in Mongolia. The exercise aims at promoting military associations between India and Mongolia will culminate on 8 May 2016.
The aim of this exercise is to develop synergy and inter operability between the two armies to fight in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment under the United Nation mandate.
• A platoon of the Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army along with a team of two observers will be taking part in the event.
• From the Mongolian Armed Forces, a total of 60 personnel will take part in the exercise.
• The event will culminate in a 48 hours joint outdoor exercise covering specialized operations in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism environment.
• The Indian contingent will share their practical experiences of Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism operations through a series of classroom lectures and outdoor demonstrations.
• Besides, during the military training both the contingents will also share their techniques of unarmed combat, specialized rappelling and participate in various sports events during the two weeks exchange.

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India to host 2018 Commonwealth Judo Championships

The Judo Federation of India (JFI) on 25 April 2016 announced that India has been allotted the Commonwealth Judo Championships 2018.
The Commonwealth Judo Championships was allotted to India, by the Commonwealth Judo Congress held on 23 April 2016 at Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
This will be the first time that Commonwealth Judo Championships will be held in India. The Championships will be held in Jaipur. However, the dates are yet to be finalized.
Besides, India will also play host to the 10th Asian Cadet Judo Championships & 17th Asian Juniors Judo Championships from 6 September to 12 September 2016 at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Kadvanthaa, Kerala.
• The Commonwealth Judo Championships are an international judo competition, open to countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.
• It is the official event of the Commonwealth Judo Associations and is organised every 2 years for Cadets, Junior, Seniors, Masters and visually impaired Judo Players.
• The Commonwealth Judo Championships 2016 will be held in South Africa.
A widely played sport in India, the first written record about Judo in India was found in Kodokan. Kodokan is about demonstrations and coaching of Judo by Shinzo Tagaki arranged at Shantiniketan in 1929 by Rabindranath Tagore.
To govern the sport, the Judo Federation of India was formed in 1965.

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Government approves 8.7% interest on EPF for 2015-16

The finance ministry has approved 8.7 per cent interest on PF deposits for over 5 crore subscribers of retirement body EPFO, lower than 8.8 per cent decided by the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).

•    "The (EPFO's apex decision-making body) CBT, at its meeting held in February 2016, has proposed an interim rate of interest at 8.8 per cent to be credited to the accounts of Employees' Provident Fund subscribers for 2015-16. 
•    The ministry of finance has, however, ratified an interest rate of 8.7 per cent," labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Monday.
•    This is probably the first time that the finance ministry has not given concurrence to the rate of interest on EPF as decided by CBT, which is headed by the labour minister.
•    Despite the employees’ representatives' demand for 9 per cent rate of interest for the fiscal, the CBT at its meeting held on February 16 decided to provide an interim interest rate of 8.8 per cent for 2015-16.

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Union Government launched Sahapedia,first online interactive portal of India.

The Union Government on 23 April 2016 launched Sahapedia.org, India's first online interactive portal on the cultural heritage of the country.
Sahapedia is a collection of resources on the diverse heritage of India. It is non-profit society, led by former TCS chairman S. Ramadorai, who is the head of the National Skill Development Agency.
The online portal aims at educating the people of India about its various traditions, visual arts, performing arts, literature and languages. The portal is accessible to all and is a strong initiative towards the digitisation and research on the traditional art forms of India and their importance in the modern era.
• Sahapedia is an open online resource on the arts, cultures and heritage of India.
• Saha, Sanskrit for together with, is an invitation to explore together the richness of India’s cultural landscapes.
• The portal consists of information ranging from visual arts, music, literature, cinema, dance, architecture, ecological systems, cuisine, percussion and oral histories among others.
• The portal gives users access to various articles, videos, interviews and image galleries.
• Most of the articles on the portal are curated in the form of multimedia modules, articles, interviews, photographs, videos of performances, timelines, walkthroughs and bibliographies.

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National Panchayati Raj Diwas

Every year April 24 is being observed as National Panchayati Raj (PR) Diwas across India. 
•    Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24 April 1993. 
•    It had led a defining moment in the history of India which helped in decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. 
•    In turn it had led to institutionalization of Panchayati Raj (PR) through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats. 
•    Every year on this day Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj organises National Conference to commemorate the National Panchayati Raj Diwas. 
•    Best performing Gram Panchayats are conferred with Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purskar by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj. 
•    The Panchayati Raj in India generally refers to the system introduced by constitutional amendment in 1992, although it is based upon the traditional panchayat system of South Asia. 
•    The modern panchayati raj and its gram panchayats are not to be confused with the extra-constitutional khap panchayats (or caste panchayats) found in northern India. 
•    While the panchayati raj system was formalized in 1992, leading up to that change, a number of Indian committees studied various ways of implementing more decentralized administration.

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