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2000 year old burial site discovered in Tamil Nadu

Students on a college trip in Anaikaraipatti, Tamil Nadu have discovered a 2,000-year-old burial site, reports The Better India. 

•    The students discovered four Dolmens, which are the burial sites of leaders and war heroes. Notably, Dolmens are typically megalithic tombs with flat stones laid upon upright ones.
•    The Sangam literature (300 BCE to 400 CE) shows a vibrant Tamil life with well laid out towns which are organically related to a colorful village life. 
•    Some songs give detailed descriptions of port cities and various settlements. 
•    However, there have not been enough archaeological substantiation attempted for the historical data embedded in Sangam literature. Coins have been obtained with the names of some of the rulers. 
•    The news of Keeladi, a village in Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu, having thrown up large scale urban settlements more than 2000 years old, coinciding with the Sangam age, is good encouragement for Indian archaeology. 

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UP Government, Netherlands ink MoU for setting up skill development Center for farmers

The Netherlands and Uttar Pradesh on 14 July 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a skill development centre to help farmers.

•    The MoU would ensure that farmers get information on food processing as well as along with use of modern techniques to boost production of sugarcane, potato, dairy development and flowers.
•    Besides, the Dutch government would also help in cleaning the Yamuna in Agra and in sewage treatment. 
•    Under this agreement, it would assist the state in solid waste management, urban development and infrastructure. 
•    It will also assist the state in water management, water supply, and cleanliness of water resources, sewage treatment, transport management and revival of water bodies.
•    Other than this, the Netherlands would also help in land reclamation of 1500 acres in the Ganga basin in Kanpur and development of cultural heritage.
•    As per official release, the MoU will remain operational for the next three years.

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Free bus pass scheme launched in Tamil Nadu

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa launched the free bus pass scheme for school and college students for 2016-17. 

•    She gave away smart cards to five students while launching the scheme, a press release said. Under the scheme, 31.11 lakh  school and college students will get free bus passes. 
•    The scheme would cost the State Rs. 504 crore for the year. 
•    In 2015-16, the government spent Rs. 480 crore to provide nearly 28 lakh students with free bus passes.
•    Jayaraman Jayalalithaa commonly referred to as Amma by members in her party and is an Indian politician and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in office since 2015. 
•    Previously she served as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2014. 
•    She was an actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films which includes Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada films. 
•    As a leading actress in films from 1961 to 1980, she was considered as one of the most prolific and most versatile actress having appeared in films of different genres and for performing wide variety of characters. 

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Swachh Bal Senas for Garbage free Puducherry

To ensure a garbage-free Puducherry, the government will form 'Swachh Bal Senas' to make children the watchdogs of cleanliness and prevent elders from littering. 

•    Children will be given yellow colored whistles, which they will blow whenever they see elder throwing garbage, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi said. 
•    Beat constables in respective areas would help children carry out the work, she added.
•    Puducherry will be the first Union Territory to have such senas and children will be given yellow colored whistles. 
•    The young children will also gain knowledge of healthy style of living.
•    She was addressing police personnel after handing over cash awards and commendation certificates to beat constables and inspectors in recognition of their successful detection of crimes at a function.
•    Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is a Union Territory of India. 
•    It was formed out of four exclaves of former French India, namely Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahe. 
•    It is named after the largest district Puducherry.

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Sports University in Delhi announced by Chief Minister

Delhi government will start a sports university in the Capital where students who want to focus on sports will be given a degree to enable them to earn a livelihood.

•    Delhi Education and Sports Minister Manish Sisodia made the announcement at an award ceremony of Delhi Assembly Sports Tournament at a sports complex in East Delhi.
•    He cited the case of a boy who started focusing on athletics in class XII but then, due to that, could not clear his exams and eventually did not land a job.
•    He said that a sports university would address the requirement of such people.
•    The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi is the governing authority of the Indian national capital territory of Delhi and its 11 districts. 
•    It consists of an executive, led by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, a judiciary and a legislative. 
•    The present Legislative Assembly of Delhi is unicameral, consisting of 70 Members of the Legislative Assembly

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Madhya Pradesh becomes first state to approve setting up of Happiness Department

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet on 15 July 2016 gave its nod to set up Happiness Department in the state. The department will work as knowledge resource centre on the subject of happiness.
With this approval, Madhya Pradesh became the first state of the country to set up such a Department.
Apart from the department, the cabinet also decided to establish a state Happiness Institute under the Happiness Department. Initially it will have a budget of three crore 60 lakh rupees.
Functions of the Happiness Department
•    It will prepare guidelines for coordination between different departments for propagating happiness in the state.
•    It will identify and define the parameters of happiness and efficiency.
•    It would also prescribe action plan and activities for experiencing happiness.
•    The department will assess mind-set of state's people from time to time.
•    It would compile and publish survey reports pertaining to status of happiness.
•    It will undertake constant researches regarding means of expanding happiness and improve norms to assess them.
The Happiness Department will include a Chairman, a CEO, a director each for Research and Coordination and an accounts officer, four posts of Research Assistant, six Junior Assistant and five peons.

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‘Ramayana month’ begins in Kerala

Kerala on 16 July 2016 started observing Ramayana month in the temples. In Malayalam it is termed as the Ramayana Masam. The Ramayana Month starts with the commencement of Malayalam month ‘Karkidakam’.
•    During this month the temples and homes of the state recites Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu written by medieval devotional poet Thunjath Ezhuthachan for the 30 days. Ezhuthachan is regarded as the father of Malayalam literature.
•    The reading of epic Ramayana begins on the first day of the month and is completed on the last day of the month Karkkidakom. The Ramayana is recited by the elder members’ everyday in the evenings after lighting traditional lamp Nilavilakku.
•    During this observation of the Ramayana month in the state, several competitions and cultural activities based on Ramayana is organised across the state. This unique custom has been preserved across the state over the centuries.
•    Karkkidakam (July - August) is the last month of Malayalam calendar and is considered as month of rain and scarcity (Panjamaasom). As per belief, the month brings good luck and prosperity to the families as well as spiritual strength to go through different difficulties that comes during monsson.
•    Karkkidakam month comes ahead of Chingam that brings colourful festival of Onam for the Malayalis.

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National Banana Research centre to be set up in Bihar

The National Research Centre for Banana would be set up at Goraul in Bihar’s Vaishali district. Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh announced this, who was accompanied by Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, while inaugurating a two-day ‘Horti-Sangam’ 2016organised by National Horticulture Board at Hajipur, the district headquarters of Vaishali. Farmers from more than a dozen states put fruits, vegetables, flowers and processed items on display and for sale at the event.

•    The process of taking over Rajendra Agriculture University in Bihar, which got Central University status recently, will be completed within a month or two.
•    The state’s atmosphere and land are fit for horticulture development.
•    As per reports, the centre will be set up soon as the land for setting up banana research centre was  allotted when Jitan Ram Manjhi was the Chief Minister.
•    Bihar is a state in East India, bordering Nepal. It is divided by the River Ganges, which floods its fertile plains
•    The Buddhist pilgrimage sites include the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi Temple, under which the Buddha allegedly meditated.
•    In the state capital Patna, Mahavir Mandir temple is revered by Hindus, while Sikhs worship at the domed, riverside Gurdwara of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji.
•    It is the 12th-largest state of India, with an area of 94,163 km. and The third-largest state of India by population.
•    Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km.which is 7.2% of its geographical area.
•    It is also contiguous with Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, the northern part of West Bengal to the east, with Jharkhand to the south

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World Bank to lends 290mn dollar for Bihar's JEEVIKA II

The Centre and the Bihar government have signed a $290 million credit agreement with the World Bank under the state's rural development project 'JEEVIKA-II'. The project covers 300 new blocks in 32 districts not covered by earlier schemes.
•    It will organise rural poor into self-help groups, enabling them to access markets and financial services, the lender added
•    The Bihar government has been implementing the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (JEEViKA), a World Bank supported programme for poverty alleviation, across six districts and 42 blocks of Bihar since 2007.
•    The credit agreement for the project was signed by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Raj Kumar on behalf of government of India, Rural Development Department Secretary Arvind Kumar Chaudhary on behalf of government of Bihar, and World Bank’s Program Leader and Acting Country Director John Blomquist.
•    The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.

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Kerala Government has proposed a “Fat Tax” on fast food items

Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac has proposed 14.5 percent tax on pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos sold through branded outlets.
•    ‘Fat tax’ was proposed in the maiden State Budget of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Government that came into power in May 2016.
•    The tax is aimed at dissuading children from eating a lot of energy dense foods. 
•    Its imposition has become necessary as Kerala is the second most obese State in the country.
•    Kerala is the first Indian state to propose Fat Tax on fast food
•    Over 10 per cent of adolescent girls in Kerala experiencing various effects of obesity like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
•    Kerala Government’s decision to impose fat tax on junk fund is in tune with the WHO advocacy of using fiscal tools to promote healthy eating.
•    In its 2015 report titled Using price policies to promote healthier diets, the WHO suggested the policy makers to impose taxes on junk foods as they are the leading cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

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