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Current Affairs 2018

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Current Affairs - January 2018


International Current News

  • Ashgabat Agreement -The Ashgabat Agreement is a Multimodal transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. India has joined the Ashgabat agreement, which envisages setting up of an international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf to significantly ramp up trade and investment. According to official sources, India's accession to the agreement will come into force on Saturday(February 3, 2018) . After approval of the Cabinet, India had deposited the instrument of accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016.

  • Delhi Declaration -It is declaration made by the ASEAN member states to mark the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations. Leader of the states declared to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation, through further strengthening of relevant institutional mechanisms and broadening of the network between government institutions, parliamentarians, business circles, scientists, academicians, think-tanks, media, youth and other stakeholders, for the building of a peaceful, harmonious, caring and sharing community in our regions. Continue to exert efforts and cooperate towards the full, effective and timely implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2016-2020). Further enhance high-level engagement and cooperation within the existing framework of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership and ASEAN-led mechanisms, such as the ASEAN-India Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Post Ministerial Conference with India (PMC+1), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Plus, and other ASEAN-India ministerial/sectoral mechanisms.

  • Global Centre for Cyber Security -It is new organisation created to counter emerging cyber security threats and help connect leaders from business and government to collaborate on various security issues. The organisation was formed by World Economic Forum (WEF) will be fully operational in March 2018. The cyber agency will act as a sort of independent, multinational cyber threat information sharing platform for companies to improve digital security writ large. To begin with, it will reach out to key industry players and G-20 countries to make this platform a success for dialogue and real-time action on cyber threats. The Global Centre for Cybersecurity has already gained the support of multiple prominent businesses and law enforcement organizations, including British telecommunications giant BT Group, U.S. microchip maker Qualcomm, Russian financial institution Sberbank and international crime fighting agency Interpol.

  • NASA - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the US government. Scientists from NASA have shown interest about a new thermal spray coating technology used for gas turbine engine in spacecraft developed by a Rajasthan-based researcher named Dr Satish Tailor. Expressing his interest in the research, James L. Smialek, a scientist from NASA wrote to Dr Tailor after it was published in the journal Ceramics International and Thermal Spray Bulletin. Dr Tailor while working at MEC as a chief scientist, Research and Development had developed the controlled segmented Yttria-Stabilised Zirconia (YSZ)-Plasma sprayed coating technology, which according to him could reduce the thermal spray coating cost by almost 50%. Besides, vertical cracks (segmentation) in the coating are beneficial for gas turbine engine application used in spacecraft. Currently researchers are developing such cracks through very expensive processes (in several crore) and cracks are generated during the coating deposition process, and crack generation is not controllable.

  • Parker Solar Probe -it is the name of NASA's mission which is scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the Sun's outer atmosphere. NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions - and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
  • Perihelion -it is the name of the phenomenon when the Earth is the closet to the sun. At 11.05 am on January 3rd 2018, the earth was at the closest point to the sun in its annual elliptical orbit, at a distance of 14, 70, 97, 237 km approximately. Perihelion is an important event for research and educational purposes although the public cannot observe it. Commonly it is believed that the distance of the earth from the sun decides the season or temperature on the earth. But this is not true. The axial tilt (approx. 23.5 degrees) of the earth on its axis while revolving around the Sun regulates seasons on the earth with one of the hemispheres facing away or towards the Sun. So, while the earth is closest to Sun this time in January, it is winter in India and countries in Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. On July 6, the earth will be at 'Aphelion' at 15, 20, 95,571 km from the sun, i.e. it will be at the farthest point from the sun.
  • Bomb Cyclone -it is the name of the massive winter storm which is hammered the eastern coast of the US, bringing snow, ice, flooding, and strong winds. This term is being used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counter clockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.
  • GAVI -it is an international organisation - a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world's poorest countries. Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists. It was created in 2000.
  • Arabic, Chinese, English -these along with French, Russian and Spanish are the six official languages of the UN. These languages are used at meetings of various UN organs, particularly the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council. Each representative of a country may speak in any one of these six languages, or may speak in any language and provide interpretation into one of the six official languages. The UN provides simultaneous interpretation from the official language into the other five official languages, via the United Nations Interpretation Service. The six official languages are also used for the dissemination of official documents. Until a document is available in all six official languages, it is not published. Generally, the texts in each of the six languages are equally authoritative. The six official languages spoken at the UN are the first or second language of 2.8 billion people on the planet, less than half of the world population. The six languages are official languages in more than half the nations in the world. This was in the news as India is pushing forward its proposal to include Hindi as one of the official languages of the United Nations. The ministry of external affairs is currently reviewing a draft advocacy paper to present the Indian case with regard to introducing Hindi in the UN.

National Current News

  • Rotavac - Rotavac is the India's first indigenously developed vaccine against rotavirus, which is the major cause of diarrhea deaths among children. Rotavac vaccine is similar to the oral polio drop. It is administered under the age same regimen 6, 10 and 14 weeks. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has awarded pre-qualification to India's first indigenously developed rotavirus diarrhoea vaccine, Rotavac, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. The recognition will allow UN agencies and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to purchase the vaccine from Bharat Biotech at significantly lower prices than those sourced from global pharmaceutical majors and make it available in other developing regions including Africa where diarrhoea kills thousands of children every year.

  • Khelo India School Games - It is national programme for development of sports aiming to highlight the country's sporting talent and its potential to the world. Besides, giving the importance of how sports and fitness in one's life is invaluable. The Khelo India Games, will be open only to select students in the under-17 age group, who meet clearly specified criteria. There will be a specific number of players and teams in each discipline. There will be a total of 209 gold medals up for grabs, with the major share going to athletics (36), swimming (35), wrestling (30), boxing (26), gymnastics (20), judo (16) and weightlifting (16). The selection of athletes for each discipline has also been clarified. The top eight from the 63rd SGFI National School Games will be taken apart from four nominations from federation, one each from CBSE and host State apart from two wild card entries for the individual events. In team competition, the top four from the National School Games will be joined by two nominated by the federation apart from one each from the host State and the organising committee. For the three disciplines archery, badminton and shooting, the top 16 from the National School Games will be joined by eight nominated by the federation, one each from CBSE, host State and organising committee, apart from six wild cards. The best talent selected from the Khelo India Games will gain scholarship to the tune of about ₹5 lakh each per year.

  • HAL Light Combat Helicopter - HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is an Indian multirole combat helicopter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It has been ordered for both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has said that it was satisfied with test run of the HAL Light Combat Helicopter. According to an official release, pilots have successfully flown the home-made 5.8-tonne Light Combat Helicopter with its own automatic flight control system for the first time. The 20-minute maiden flight of the multirole copter was flawless with the engagement of the flight control system throughout. HAL Chairman T Suvarna Raju said the flight control system, whose development the company funded, would replace the imported one. HAL Chief Test Pilot Wing Commander Unni K Pillai (retired) and Test Pilot Group Captain Rajesh Verma (retired) flew the chopper after taking off from the defence airport in the city's eastern suburb.

  • New Wealth Report 2017 - New Wealth Report is an annual list developed by Capgemini, a global leader in technology, consulting and outsourcing. Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each country/city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities. The report, however, excludes government funds from its figures. According to the report, India has been ranked sixth in the list of wealthiest countries with total wealth of $8,230 billion, while the United States topped the chart. the US is the wealthiest country with total wealth of $64,584 billion, followed by China ($24,803 billion) and Japan ($19,522 billion). Others in the list include United Kingdom (4th, $9,919 billion), Germany (5th, $9,660 billion), France (7th, $6,649 billion), Canada (8th, $6,393 billion), Australia (9th, $6,142 billion) and Italy (10th, $4,276 billion).

  • Democracy Index -Democracy Index is list prepared by UK based The Economist Intelligence Unit. The EIU is the research and analysis division of the UK- based media behemoth The Economist Group. Created in 1946, the EIU describes itself as having over 70 years of experience 'in helping businesses, financial firms and governments to understand how the world is changing and how that creates opportunities to be seized and risks to be handled. Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime. India has slipped to 42nd place on an annual Global Democracy Index amid 'rise of conservative religious ideologies' and increase in vigilantism and violence against minorities as well as other dissenting voices. While Norway has again topped the list, followed by Iceland and Sweden, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), India has moved down from 32nd place last year and remains classified among 'flawed democracies'. The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. The list has been divided into four broad categories-full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime. The US (ranked 21), Japan, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong have also been named among 'flawed democracies'.

  • Ghodazari wildlife sanctuary - The sanctuary, is located in the North East of Tadoba, will include 159 sq km of Brahmapuri forest . The wildlife sanctuary located North East of Tadoba Tiger Reserve will be carved out in total of 159 sq km area covering Nagbhir, Talodhi and Chimur forest areas. The Maharashtra government has approved Ghodazari in Chandrapur district as a new wildlife sanctuary in the state. The decision was taken at the 13th meeting of the Maharashtra State Board for Wildlife, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. According to experts, the decision to setup a sanctuary will not only save the forest, but will also improve tourism in nearly 40 villages in the area. The board also discussed various proposals for development work within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and wildlife sanctuaries in the state. The proposal for road widening and strengthening of National Highway 8 outside SGNP was also approved at the meeting.

  • INS Karanj - INS Karanj is the third submarine of the first batch of six Kalvari Class submarines designed and developed for Indian Navy. It is diesel electric attack submarine based on Scorpene class submarine. Though it was designed by French company, it was manufactured in Mazagon Dock (Mumbai) in India under the Project 75 programme. The submarine was launched by Reena Lanba, wife of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba, here on Wednesday. The new submarine is named after the earlier Kalvari class INS Karanj, which was decommissioned in 2003. Six Scorpene class submarines are being built under Project 75 by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), Mumbai, under a $3.75 billion technology transfer signed in October 2005 with the Naval Group of France.

  • Budget 2018-19

  • Agriculture and Rural Economy- The government has decided to keep MSP for all unannounced kharif crops atleast one and half times of their production cost after declaring the same for the majority of rabi cops. The volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector from year-to-year increased from Rs.8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18 and proposed to raise this to Rs.11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19. After the establishment of Dairy Infrastructure Fund, Shri Jaitley announced setting up a Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector with a total corpus of Rs.10,000 crore for the two new funds. On the lines of 'Operation Flood' a new Scheme 'Operation Greens' was announced with an outlay of Rs 500 Crore to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato. Develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) to take care of the interests of more than 86% small and marginal farmers. Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore will be setup for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) and 585APMCs. Re-structured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs.1290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner.

  • Education, Health and Social Protection - Estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection for 2018-19 is Rs.1.38 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of Rs.1.22 lakh crore in 2017-18. Shri Jaitley announced setting up of Ekalavya Model Residential School on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas to provide the best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment by 2022 in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons with special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development. a major initiative named 'Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022' with a total investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore in next four years was announced . The Government also decided to allocate additional Rs.600 crore to provide nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs.500 per month for the duration of their treatment. Shri Jaitley said, the government will be setting up 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. A total of 187 projects have been sanctioned under the Namami Gange programme for infrastructure development, river surface cleaning, rural sanitation and other interventions at a cost of Rs.16,713 crore.

  • Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) - A sum of Rs. 3794 crore has been provided for giving credit support, capital and interest subsidy and for innovations. MUDRA Yojana launched in April, 2015 has led to sanction of Rs.4.6 lakh crore in credit from 10.38 crore MUDRA loans. 76% of loan accounts are of women and more than 50% belong to SCs, STs and OBCs. It is proposed to set a target of Rs.3 lakh crore for lending under MUDRA for 2018-19 after having successfully exceeded the targets in all previous years.

  • Employment - Reiterating that creating job opportunities is at the core of Government policies, Finance Minister cited an independent study as showing that 70 lakh formal jobs will be created this year. To carry forward the momentum created by the measures taken during the last 3 years to boost employment generation, Shri Jaitley announced that the Government will contribute 12% of the wages of the new employees in the EPF for all the sectors for next three years. He proposed to make amendments in the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to reduce women employees' contribution to 8% for first three years of their employment against existing rate of 12% or 10% with no change in employers' contribution.

  • Railways - Railways Capital Expenditure for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs.1,48,528 crore. A large part of the Capex is devoted to capacity creation. 4000 kilometers of electrified railway network is slated for commissioning during 2017-18. Work on Eastern and Western dedicated Freight Corridors is in full swing. Adequate number of rolling stock - 12000 wagons, 5160 coaches and approximately 700 locomotives are being procured during 2018-19. Over 3600 kms of track renewal is targeted during the current fiscal. Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up. Mumbai's local train network will have 90 kilometers of double line tracks at a cost of over Rs.11,000 crore. 150 kilometers of additional suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs.40,000 crore, including elevated corridors on some sections. A suburban network of approximately 160 kilometers at an estimated cost of Rs.17,000 crore is being planned to cater to the growth of the Bengaluru metropolis.

  • Air transport - The Budget proposes to expand the airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative - NABH Nirman. Under the Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the Government last year, 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads would be connected.

  • Relief to Senior Citizens - Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices are proposed to be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000. TDS shall not be required to be deducted under section 194A. Benefit will also be available for interest from all fixed deposit schemes and recurring deposit schemes. Hike in deduction limit for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 under section 80D. Increase in deduction limit for medical expenditure for certain critical illness from Rs. 60,000 (in case of senior citizens) and from Rs 80,000 (in case of very senior citizens) to Rs 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under section 80DDB. Concessions will give extra tax benefit of Rs. 4,000 crore to senior citizen. It is also proposed to extend the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana up to March, 2020. The current investment limit is also proposed to be increased to Rs. 15 lakh from the existing limit of Rs. 7.5 lakh per senior citizen.

  • Taxation - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed no new changes in income tax rates applicable to individual. The finance minister, however, introduced standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 for the salaried class. Standard deduction allows for a flat deduction from income of a salaried individual towards expenses that would incur in relation to his or her employment. The government has made many positive changes in individual tax rates in past three years

  • ISA -it stands for International Solar Alliance has become the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India after 19 countries ratified its framework agreement. This marks the culmination of India's efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA-an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The ISA now has become a treaty based inter-governmental international organisation and it will be recognized by UN legally to become fully functionable. The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. The ISA, headquartered in India, has its secretariat located in the campus of the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurgaon, Haryana.
  • NSG -it stands for Nuclear Suppliers Group is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
  • IBBI -it stands for The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India recently notified the regulations for handling of grievances and complaints against Insolvency-related service providers. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India was set up on 1st October 2016 under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code). It is a unique regulator: regulates a profession as well as transactions.
  • Trachoma -the eye disease from which India is now declared free as per The National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17) which was released recently. The survey findings indicate that the active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7%.
  • MSME Sambandh -it is a Public Procurement Portal launched recently by the government to monitor the implementation of the Public Procurement from MSEs by Central Public Sector Enterprises. With this app, the Micro and Small Enterprises would be able to access the information about the products being procured by CPSEs. Thus, it would help the MSEs in participating in the procurement process.
  • Benefits of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards are -OCI is essentially a lifetime visa status offered by India to an Indian person who has given up his citizenship, OCI cards give lifetime multiple entry visa to India, If one remains an OCI for 5 years, he/she can attain Indian citizenship and then live in India for a period of one year including short breaks, Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders in addition to that an OCI cards holder can open special bank accounts in India just like NRIs and make investments, OCI holders can also buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights, An OCI card allows to apply for a driver's license, PAN card or open a bank account in India, they get same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and can also adopt children. Restrictions for OCI card holders are-An OCI card holder cannot vote, hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land. The person can also not run for public office or travel to restricted areas without permission.
  • NARI -it is the name of online portal launched by the ministry of Women & Child Development. It is an online portal which will provide information to women on issues affecting their lives. The portal aims to provide women citizens with easy access to information on government schemes and initiatives for women. The portal contains information about schemes being run by both Central as well as the States Governments.
  • GAIL- the state run gas transmission utility company has commissioned the country's second-biggest rooftop solar power plant which is in Uttar Pradesh. Tata Power Solar has earlier commissioned India's largest solar rooftop project with 12 MW capacity in Amritsar.
  • NKN -it stands for National Knowledge Network is a multi-gigabit pan-India network which facilitates the development of India's communications infrastructure, stimulates research and creates next generation applications and services. With its multi-gigabit capability, NKN aims to connect all universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions across the country to address such paradigm shift.
  • State Bank of India -the bank which has been chosen to sell the new electoral bonds. In an attempt to ensure more transparent financing of political parties participating in elections, the government has announced the introduction of new electoral bonds that donors can buy from the State Bank of India (SBI). The bonds will be available at specified SBI branches for 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October. Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary. Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
  • PMSSY -it stands for Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsa Yojnaand it is the scheme under which the Union Cabinet recently approved setting up of an AIIMS in Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh with an outlay of Rs. 1,350 crore. The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was announced in 2003 with objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.
  • Swine Influenza (swine flu) -it is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. H1N1 is a flu virus. When it was first detected in 2009, it was called 'swine flu' because the virus was similar to those found in pigs. The H1N1 virus is currently a seasonal flu virus found in humans.
  • Typbar TCV -it is the Typhoid conjugate vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech Ltd (BBL).The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pre-qualified its typhoid conjugate vaccine. The new vaccine was found to have given a longer immunity from typhoid than older vaccines and it required fewer doses for childhood immunisation. The pre-qualification by WHO allows for the sale of the vaccines to UN agencies such as UNICEF and GAVI. Typbar TCV is reportedly the world's first typhoid vaccine clinically proven for use on recipients who can be as young as six months. A single dose offers 87% protective efficacy against typhoid.
  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017-Increase in capital of NABARD to Rs.30, 000 crore, Transfer of the RBI's share to the central government & Addition of Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) are some of the important points of The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which was recently passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.The Bill seeks to amend the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981. The Bill allows the central government to increase this capital to Rs 30,000 crore. . The Bill provides that the central government alone must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD. The Bill transfers the share capital held by the RBI and valued at Rs 20 crore to the central government. The central government will give an equal amount to the RBI. The Bill replaces the terms 'small-scale industry' and 'industry in the tiny and decentralised sector' with the terms 'micro enterprise', 'small enterprise' and 'medium enterprise' as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006.


Current Affairs - February 2018


International Current News

  • FATF - Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body to combat money laundering and terror financing among other financial crimes, expressing the hope that it will uphold its objectives. India has congratulated China for being elected Vice President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said 'Congratulations to China on its election as Vice President of Financial Action Task Force at the FATF plenary meeting on February 23. We remain hopeful that China would uphold and support the objectives and standards of FATF in a balanced, objective, impartial and holistic way. China's election to the FATF assumes significance as Pakistan is set to be put in the watchdog's grey list, which puts countries under the scanner for not implementing the body's objectives, in June this year.

  • Saudi Arabia -The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced entry of women to enlist in the military. According to authorities, interested female candidates have given time to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina. Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor's office said it would also begin recruiting women investigators for the first time. The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants. It should be noted that Saudi women last month were given permission to attend football matches and to open their own businesses without the consent of their male relatives.

  • India- Iran - India and Iran have signed nine pacts, the resultant of which will allow India to lease part of the strategic Chabahar port, near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman. A key focus of the discussions was infrastructure, particularly Iran's Chabahar port. India has committed to invest $500 million in developing the port. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2016 visit to Iran, the countries signed a commercial contract envisaging development and operation of the port's two terminals and five berths. India badly wants the port developed, believing it will help India gain access to war-torn Afghanistan, where India is involved in rebuilding efforts. India also needs a route for its companies to take into energy-rich Central Asia. Pakistan, India's hostile neighbor to the northwest, does not allow overland access. Among the nine agreements signed lease between Iran's Port and Maritime Organization and India Ports Global Limited. The deal allows the Indian company to take over and run a part of Chabahar port's multi-purpose and container terminal for 18 months. Besides giving India access to Central Asia, the port will also help India counter China's regional influence. China is currently developing Gwadar port, in Pakistan, which also gives China a way into Africa.

  • Saudi Arabia-In a surprising move, women in Saudi Arabia have been given the go-ahead to start businesses without the permission of a male guardian. Earlier in the past women needed a guardian's approval and had to visit a notary to document the founding of a company, from Sunday a new system will carry out all start-up procedures electronically, with no special permissions required. The move is part of a shift inside a strongly conservative kingdom to offer more freedom to women and more broadly, to reshape Saudi culture along more secular, modern lines. In keeping with the spirit of modernisation, the announcement was made via Twitter. Saudi women make up just a fraction of the labour force in the country, but their participation in the economy is rising fast. In July 2017, the country's Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that women accounted for 30 per cent of the private sector workforce - a rise of 130 per cent over the previous four years

  • UNICEF- A new study by UNICEF has revealed that nearly 600,000 newborn die within 28 days of their birth in India every year. The study also revealed that a quarter of global neonatal deaths take place in India each year, also showed that the country has remarkably reduced the under-five mortality rate. The first 28 days of life - the neonatal period - are the most vulnerable time for a child's survival. And children face the highest risk of dying in their first month of life, at a global rate of 19 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the report, India's neonatal mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) is 25.4 and is ranked at number 12 among 52 'low middle-income countries' in terms of risk for newborns. India's ranking, though, is better than that of Pakistan's, the country with the worst newborn mortality rate. The report covered 184 countries and India has been ranked 31, keeping the world's seventh largest economy below 153 countries who have better survival rates for their newborns. A year earlier, India was the 28th worst country among 184 nations in terms of neonatal mortality.

  • Global corruption perception index- The index developed by Transparency International, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In the 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the 'worst offenders' in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.

  • Petro -Venezuela become first sovereign country to officially launch its own crypto-currency called Petro. The currency is backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves to circumvent US-led financial sanctions. Aiming to combat most severe economic collapses of modern times, the beleaguered administration of President Nicolas Maduro announced it had begun a presale of virtual currency backed by the nation's vast petroleum reserves. The government, which had announced plans for the new digital currency late last year, said the initiative was a response to a financial crisis marked by a profound devaluation of the national currency, the bolivar, and quadruple-digit inflation.

  • UN Peacekeeping mission -It is a peacekeeping programme initiated by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations as "a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace. In an effort to support the programme India is sending around 2,300 Army personnel for South Sudan to join the UN peace keeping mission in the war-torn African country. The army personnel, joining the UN mission, are from Infantry battalion of Garhwal Rifles regiment. Indian unit will be in operational control of the sensitive Jonglei state. According to official figures, India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions. Last year, a total of 7,606 Indian peacekeepers were deployed in UN missions.

  • UN Development Partnership Fund -The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is a dedicated facility within the United Nations Fund for South-South Cooperation established in 2017. It is supported and led by the Government of the Republic of India, managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and implemented in collaboration with the United Nations system. India has pledged an additional $100 million towards the UN partnership fund, significantly scaling up its support to sustainable development projects across the developing world. The India-UN development partnership fund was set up earlier this year as a partnership between India and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). Anjani Kumar, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, announced the multi-year contribution at the 2017 UN Pledging Conference for Development Activities on Monday. This contribution would be in addition to $10.582 million India is contributing to various other UN programmes, Kumar said. 'I am happy to announce that India has now decided to significantly scale up the contribution to the fund through a multi-year contribution of $100 million,' Kumar said on behalf of India. 'India believes that the UN should have the necessary resources to finance its activities, in an appropriate and balanced manner,' he said.

  • Science and Technology

  • World's smallest satellite - Japan successfully launched on the world's smallest satellite-carrying rocket following a failed attempt in January last year. According to a release from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 'The rocket about the size of a utility pole, measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter, lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture and delivered its payload to its intended orbit'. The No. 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series carried a microsatellite weighing about 3 kilograms developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth's surface. The launch was aimed at verifying JAXA's technology used to launch small rockets made with commercially available components at lower cost amid growing global demand for microsatellites. The agency used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket. JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 last year, but terminated its flight shortly after liftoff due to a communications problem. The agency found that vibrations during liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to a loss of power in the data transmitter. For Saturday's launch, the agency made more than 40 improvements to prevent a recurrence.

National Current News

  • Rise Scheme - Revitalising of Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE). THE INDIAN Institutes of Technology (IITs) will corner the largest chunk of loans on offer under the new funding model - Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) - for all centrally-run institutes, announced in the Union Budget this month. Under RISE, all centrally-funded institutes (CFIs), including central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITs and IISERs, can borrow from a Rs 1,00,000 crore corpus over the next four years to expand and build new infrastructure. However, The Indian Express has learnt that a quarter of this amount - Rs 25,000 crore - will be set aside exclusively for the 23 IITs. The second largest share, Rs 20,000 crore, will be earmarked for central universities. While the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) can borrow up to Rs 11,300 crore, the new IIMs will get Rs 4,500 crore, and five IISERs Rs 5,000 crore. According to sources, in addition to loans for infrastructure development, about Rs 9,000 crore will be available for building robust research ecosystems, like world-class laboratories, in CFIs.

  • Amma Two wheeler scheme - It is subsidised two-wheeler scheme meant for working women, on the occasion of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's 70th birth anniversary. As part of the scheme, every beneficiary will be given 50% of the cost of a two- wheeler or a grant of ₹25,000. Each year, one lakh working women would be covered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launches Amma two-wheeler scheme. Addressing a function outside the Kalaivanar Arangam, Modi expressed happiness over his being able to inaugurate 'one of her [Jayalalithaa-s] dream projects.' Explaining how women's empowerment would help empower households, the Prime Minister pointed out those women accounted for 70% of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. This had demonstrated how the women 'are stepping out of the age old shackles and seeking self-employment', he said. He added that about 11 crore loans had been sanctioned totally under the scheme and ₹4.6 lakh crore provided without any bank guarantee.

  • Cabinet approves the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill- It is a bill which addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation. It includes Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc. Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.

  • Bal Aadhaar - Bal Aadhaar: Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has introduced a blue coloured 'Baal Aadhaar' card for children below the age of 5 years. UIDAI took to its official Twitter handle to tweet that a blue coloured Baal Aadhaar will be issued to children below 5 years and when the child does become 5, then he/she has to submit biometric authentication. Failing to do so within the next 7 years would result in suspension of the Aadhaar card. Though there is no compulsion to register for Aadhaar at such a young age, it will be required to be eligible for overseas education or to get government scholarships. As per the report, to register for Baal Aadhaar, visit your nearest enrolment centre and fill out the required forms. As mentioned earlier no biometric data will be collected from your child, however, you are needed to carry a photo of him/her. The Baal Aadhaar will be linked with his/her parent's UID. A biometric update is mandatory at age 5, at age 10 and again at age 15. If your child is above the age of 5, then you have to carry the child's birth certificate and valid school ID.

  • Viral Load Test - The viral load test measures the amount of HIV virus in your blood. It is the preferred way to monitor how HIV treatment is working. L Government has launched free Viral Load Tests, which measure the quantity of virus in the body. The move is likely to benefit 12 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in the country. Speaking on the launch, Health Minister said, 'the viral load test is a big step towards the treatment and monitoring of people living with HIV. This test is of immense importance to monitor the effectiveness of treatment of patients taking lifelong anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Ending the stigma towards the PLHIV was essential to enable them to access health services. To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed, which is a historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV,'. He added routine viral load testing will optimise the utilisation of first-line regimens, thus preventing drug resistance and ensuring the longevity of people living with HIV. As per WHO guidelines, India, in 2017, revised the anti-retroviral treatment protocols to initiate all PLHIV to ART. Currently about 12 lakh PLHIV are undergoing treatment in more than 530 ART centres.

  • Rustom 2 - UAV - Rustom 2 is being developed on the lines of predator drones of the US to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles for the armed forces. This unmanned Aerial Vehicle Rustom-2 was successfully test-flown by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). According an official statement from DRDO, 'This flight assumes significance because of the fact that this is the first flight in user configuration with a higher power engine. All parameters were normal'. The flight was conducted at the DRDO's Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga in Karnataka. Rustom-2 belongs to a family of UAVs under development, besides Rustom-1 and Rustom-H. It is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone (MALE). It can fly up to an altitude of 22,000 feet and has an endurance of over 20 hours. It is capable of carrying payloads for electronic and signal intelligence missions. Currently, the three services employ hundreds of Israeli drones and have projected a requirement of hundreds of more UAVs, including armed variants, in the near future. The DRDO is also developing other drones in different categories.

  • ATGM Nag - It is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile developed by India's ate-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army. India has successfully test-fired Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) Nag in desert conditions. The Nag ATGM has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Wednesday's flight tests have once again proved their capability.

  • Defence Acquisition council- DAC approves procurement proposals worth Rs 9,435 Cr. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved capital acquisition proposals of the defence services, valued at Rs 9,435 crore. These include the procurement of 41,000 Light Machine Guns (LMGs) and over 3.5 lakh Close Quarter Battle Carbines under Buy and Make (Indian) category.

  • Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) - It is a credit-linked subsidy programme aimed at generating self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in the non-farm sector by helping traditional artisans and unemployed youth. Any individual above 18 years of age is eligible. For setting up of projects costing above Rs.10 lakh in the manufacturing sector and above Rs. 5 lakh in the business /service sector, the beneficiaries should possess at least VIII standard pass educational qualification. General category beneficiaries can avail of margin money subsidy of 25 % of the project cost in rural areas and 15% in urban areas. For beneficiaries belonging to special categories such as scheduled caste/scheduled tribe/OBC /minorities/women, ex-serviceman, physically handicapped, NER, Hill and Border areas etc. the margin money subsidy is 35% in rural areas and 25% in urban areas. The Scheme was launched during 2008-09. A total of 4.23 lakh micro enterprises have been assisted with a margin money subsidy of Rs 8695.27 crore providing employment to an estimated 35.48 lakh persons since 2008-09 till 2016-17 across the country including the State of Maharashtra.

  • National Financial Reporting Authority - It is independent regulator created for the auditing profession which is one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013. The need for establishing NFRA has arisen on account of the need felt across various jurisdictions in the world, in the wake of accounting scams, to establish independent regulators, independent from those it regulates, for enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits to strengthen the independence of audit firms, quality of audits and, therefore, enhance investor and public confidence in financial disclosures of companies.

  • The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017 - The Bill aims to stop economic offenders who leave the country to avoid due process. Offences involving amounts of ₹100 crore or more fall under the purview of this law. Economic offences are those that are defined under the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the SEBI Act, the Customs Act, the Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnership Act, and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

  • Core sector growth-Growth in the country's core sector accelerated to 6.7% in January, 2018 from 3.4% a year ago thanks to a huge jump in the output of cement and petroleum refinery, and a robust performance by the electricity sector. The growth in eight core sectors, which comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), was 4.2% in December and 7.4% in November, 2017. Cement output surged to 20.7% in January against 13.3% contraction in the same month a year ago, while refinery products jumped 11% in January against a flat output in January 2017.

  • Action plan for champion sectors - The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Commerce to give focused attention to 12 identified Champion Services Sectors for promoting their development, and realizing their potential. These include Information Technology & Information Technology enabled Services (IT & ITeS), Tourism and Hospitality Services, Medical Value Travel, Transport and Logistics Services, Accounting and Finance Services, Audio Visual Services, Legal Services, Communication Services, Construction and Related Engineering Services, Environmental Services, Financial Services and Education Services.

  • Ombudsman scheme for NBFC -The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued an ombudsman scheme for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), offering a grievance redressal mechanism for their customers. The scheme will come into effect immediately, the regulator. According to an official release, exercising the powers conferred by Section 45L of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the RBI being satisfied that for the purpose of enabling it to promote conducive credit culture among the NBFCs and to regulate the credit system of the country to its advantage, it is necessary to provide for a system of ombudsman for redressal of complaints against deficiency in services concerning deposits, loans and advances and other specified matters, hereby directs that the NBFCs should comply with the provisions of the Ombudsman Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, 2018. An officer at the RBI not below the rank of general manager will be appointed by the regulator as the ombudsman with territorial jurisdiction being specified by the central bank. The tenure of each ombudsman cannot exceed three years and can be reduced by the regulator if needed.

  • Atal Bhoojal Yojana - It is a government scheme intended to conserve ground water. According to this scheme, the government has the plan to boost conservation of ground water with a fund of Rs.6,000 crores. By the implementation of this scheme ground water will recharge consequently increasing the level of ground water. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari informed that the fund for this project will be raised by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. Under this scheme, ground water will recharge and hence it will provide sufficient water for the use of agriculture purposes because in the past several years the ground water has decreased to a great extent. This scheme will also revive the water bodies like rivers so that the level of ground water can be increased especially in the rural areas.The water available in the Ganga River will be used under this scheme "Atal Bhoojal Yojana" to increase the ground. The Ministry of Water resource is eagerly working on it, once done the Ministry of finance will approve the funds for the scheme. The scheme will be implemented all over the India. . The cabinet committee has set a fund of Rs.6,000 crore for this scheme but yet to get the approval from the ministry of Finance. Government of India has not announced any official date for the launch of this scheme.

  • Parliament House to Have A Creche - The Parliament House will soon be setting an example of an inclusive and supportive work environment for its women employees by establishing creche facility on its premises. Under the direct supervision of Speaker, creche development work is in progress and a senior official has also been deputed to oversee the work. In a letter dated 29th March, 2017, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, apprised Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of Lok Sabha, about the absence of a creche facility at the Parliament House. In her letter, Gandhi pointed out that since over one-third of the total number of officials working in the Parliament were women, provision of creche facility was crucial. Swiftly responding to the letter, the office of the Speaker notified that a creche facility will soon be functional within the premises of Parliament House. The Ministry of Women and Child Development thanked the Speaker on twitter.

  • NITI Forum for North East - The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints. It will also review the development status in the NER. Members of the Forum will include Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, New & Renewable Energy, Health & Family Welfare, Human Resource Development, Environment, Forest & Climate Change. Chief Secretaries of Northeastern states of Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council (NEC), Shillong will be Member Secretary. Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, besides a number of experts from various fields will also be members of the Forum. The Forum may examine and address any other issues which are of importance but not specifically spelt out in its Terms of Reference. It may devise its own procedure to conduct its business/meetings/fields visits or constitution of Sub-Groups etc.

  • National Urban Housing Fund - It is a fund created by Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Primary function of the fund is to create houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojan (Urban). The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs 60,000 crore. There was a good response from the States/UTs and nearly 2 to 3 lakh houses are being sanctioned every month. About 5 lakh houses have been completed. Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), wherein housing for EWS/LIG/MIG beneficiaries is being sanctioned by the banks/HFCs to the eligible beneficiaries under the PMAY (Urban), the responses have grown significantly. Nearly 87,000 housing loans have been sanctioned in past eight months under the scheme and over 40,000 applications are under consideration for approval. The target is to cater to the demand of housing shortage of nearly 1.2 crore and make available housing to all by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th anniversary of Independence. NUHF will facilitate raising requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals that is Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership(AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) is sustained and construction of houses to address the gap in urban sector progresses smoothly.

  • Aadhar - Aadhaar was recognized as the world's largest biometric enabled identification programme, which provides access to service, bank accounts, social services benefits, income tax, passport services by providing 1.2 billion citizens unique identification card with fingerprint, eye-print and other vital data. The initiative is managed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The award for it recognized India's efforts of invention and innovation in field of technology and making the country completely digitalized.

  • Umang App - Umang stands for Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance. This app was named winner of the Best M-Government Service award in the Accessible Government category while Aadhar won the best emerging technology award at the recently concluded World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai.

  • National Deworming initiative - It is a major deworming programme was run by the government in the country for treatment of soil-transmitted helminths (STH), or parasitic worm infection. This provided the basis for a nationwide initiative. If untreated this disease can lead to anaemia and malnutrition as well as affecting mental development and has a negative impact on school attendance. In order to address the problem, India has instigated National Deworming Day with the support of the Deworm the World Initiative: the first was held in February 2015 and treated 140 million children in 12 states; the second was held a year later and treated 270 million children in 36 states and union territories nationwide. Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Deworming Day at a function at Gurugram, today. Speaking on the occasion he said, 'Government of India is committed to ensuring high quality healthcare, accessible to every child and upto the last mile. One of the interventions, the National Deworming Day, is one of the largest public health initiatives in the world. '. The Government is aiming to reach more than 32.2 crore children. Shri Nadda further stated that the Ministry had first launched National Deworming Day (NDD) in 2015 which was implemented in 11 States/UTs across all Government and Government-aided schools and Anganwadi centres targeting children aged 1 to 19 years. Since then the program has been scaled up throughout the country. Shri Nadda further informed that last year 25.6 crore children in the February 2016 round and 22.8 crore children in the August 2016 round were successfully reached and treated with deworming treatment on National Deworming Day. He also released the 'Deworming Factsheet' at the event.

  • National Women Entrepreneurship Council - It is an autonomous body setup to promote entrepreneurship as it would be the umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women in India. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering to establish National Women Entrepreneurship Council (NWEC). It will be umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women n India and to promote entrepreneurship among women. It will give advice to government on issues related to entrepreneurship in women as current business chambers are largely dominated by male. According to Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India ranked 49 among 54 economies globally with overall low score of 41.7 points. It shows that India presents lower opportunities for women to engage in entrepreneurial activities, assume leadership roles or participate in workforce. The main concern is lack of education, technological know-how and cultural bias coupled with stringent business and government regulations which undermine women's ability take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities in India. Economically empowered women are major catalysts for development. There is greater recognition of positive relationship between increased economic activity by women and improved social outcomes

  • New World Wealth Report - It is a report developed by New World Wealth is a global market research group, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. We specialize in ratings, surveys, country reports and wealth statistics. Mumbai, India's financial capital is the 12th richest city in the world with a total wealth of $950 billion, says a report by New World Wealth which ranks New York as the richest city in the world. Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities and business interests) less any liabilities. Government funds are excluded from the figures. According to the New World Wealth report, Mumbai is followed by Toronto with a total wealth of $944 billion, Frankfurt ($912 billion) and Paris ($860 billion). The report further said that Mumbai also features among the top 10 cities in terms of billionaire population as the city is home to 28 billionaires, individuals with $1 billion or more in net assets.

  • National Highway Authority of India - The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India. NHAI is going to launch a ranking system of the toll plazas. Every quarter, the three best toll plazas will be identified and their names will be published on the NHAI website. He said he was confident that the competitive atmosphere created by the ranking of toll plazas will improve the amenities and overall convenience for highway users.

  • Anti-Narcotics Scheme - It is a scheme created to assist state governments and Union Territories which are contributing in controlling the inter-state and cross border drug trafficking. Financial assistance will be provided to all the anti- narcotics agencies for strengthening their enforcement capabilities to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the notification said. Financial assistance is also proposed to be provided for all capacity building ctivities, including training of personnel. Taking into consideration the 40 lakh drug addicts in the country, the Centre has extended for three more years a scheme which combats illicit trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substance.

  • KUSUM - It is a government scheme to promote solar power production through solar farming. Titled as Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) government has announced a fund of Rs 1.4 lakh-crore for the scheme. The scheme will work towards promoting solar power production a.k.a. solar farming up to 28,250 MW to help farmers. The Union Budget 2018-2019 has allotted Rs 48,000 crore to lead the scheme for a period of ten years. Some of the important facts about the Kusum scheme are 1.75 million off-grid agricultural solar pumps, build 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands for solar farming and farmers will be given a chance to earn extra income if they help produce additional power by setting up solar power project on their barren land. The energy produced by the farmers on their barren land will be bought by the state electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS).The scheme is likely to decrease the consumption of diesel in the agriculture sector (used in pumps). KUSUM scheme also includes the distribution of 17.5 lakh solar pumps for which 60 per cent subsidy will be given to the farmers.

  • Green Good Deeds Campaign - It is programme launched by Government of India to sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. Speaking on the launch of the compaign Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan has appealed to the teaching community to join the 'Green Good Deeds' campaign, launched by the Ministry to sensitise the people and students, in particular, about climate change and global warming. Addressing about 700 principals of all government schools from North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the Minister said that environment is a matter of global concern, as never before..

    Further stressed that the whole world is concerned about the dangers of global warming and climate change. People in Delhi are already facing air pollution. Environment and its effects on the life of human beings are now on the agenda at every global forum. Everyone is looking up to India with expectationbecause they think that Indians have the DNA to protect the environment. Our ancestors had made protection of environment an integral part of their lifestyle. It was a 'part-n-parcel' of our culture - our ancestors worshipped the rivers, air, trees or forests and earth andexisted in harmony with the land.

  • Exam Warrior - Exam warrior is a book authored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for students facing exams. The book aims to get through to students across the country on the threshold of examinations, and hopes to help them thread the needle with ease.

    The book was launched on Saturday by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. The book will be translated in multiple languages and will be made available across the country. The book is 208 pages thick and is being published by Penguin Randon House India. In the book, the PM has penned down almost 25 mantras for students as well as their parents and teachers on how to tackle exams without stress and anxiety. The book highlights issues of importance to students such as coping with exam related stress, keeping calm during exams as well as what to do after the exams get over, a statement by the publishing house reads.

  • Solar City - Development of Solar Cities' programme is designed to support and encourage Urban Local Bodies to prepare a Road Map to guide their cities in becoming 'renewable energy cities' or 'solar cities'. The Solar City aims at minimum 10% reduction in projected demand of conventional energy at the end of five years, through a combination of enhancing supply from renewable energy sources in the city and energy efficiency measures. The basic aim is to motivate the local Governments for adopting renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures. In a Solar City all types of renewable energy based projects like solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, waste to energy etc. may be installed alongwith possible energy efficiency measures depending on the need and resource availability in the city. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has approved a proposed master plan to develop 50 solar cities, including three in the national capital region. Out of the proposed 60 solar cities, sanctions have been issued for 50 cities that include New Delhi, Agra, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Amritsar, New Town (Kolkata), Howrah, Madhyamgram, Kochi and Bhopal, as per the information available on the ministry's website.

  • Karnataka Flag -The Kannada flag is a bi-coloured flag identified with Karnataka, Kannadigas and Kannada language. The flag is divided into two equal horizontal strips, a yellow strip for the top half and a red strip below. The yellow and red colors in the flag represent Arrishna Turmeric and Kumkuma (Vermillion) which symbolize auspiciousness and well-being of the state. In general, the yellow and red colours signify positivity and courage respectively. A committee formed by the Karnataka government has recommended a separate flag for the state, discounting any constitutional or legal hurdles for it. The nine-member committee submitted its report on designing a separate flag for the state and providing a legal standing for it.

  • MSME Act - A single comprehensive act developed by the government of India for the growth and regulation of small enterprises. The act was conceived since there was a long outstanding demand of the sector so as to free it from a bundle of laws and regulations and visit of inspectors, which it had to face with limited awareness and resources. In order to remove the unnecessary hassles faced by the sector, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved change in the basis of classifying Micro, Small and Medium enterprises from 'investment in plant & machinery/equipment' to 'annual turnover'. This will encourage ease of doing business, make the norms of classification growth oriented and align them to the new tax regime revolving around GST (Goods & Services Tax). Section 7 of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 will accordingly be amended to define units producing goods and rendering services in terms of annual turnover as a micro enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover does not exceed Rs five crore; a small enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than Rs five crore but does not exceed Rs 75 crore and a medium enterprise will be defined as a unit where the annual turnover is more than Rs 75 crore but does not exceed Rs 250 crore.

  • Prime Minister Research Fellowship Scheme - It is a scheme which will enable 1000 best students who have completed or are in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs to get direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs/IISc. Under this fellowship scheme, selected students will be offered a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs.75,000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80,000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars. A maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in a three year period, beginning 2018-19. The scheme will go a long way in tapping the talent pool of the country for carrying out research indigenously in cutting edge science and technology domains. The research under the Scheme will address our national priorities at the one hand and shortage of quality faculty in the premier educational institutions of the country, on the other.

  • Google - It is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Recently, India's antitrust watchdog today imposed a Rs. 136 Crore fine on Google for 'search bias' and abuse of its dominant position, in the latest regulatory setback for the world's most popular internet search engine. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google, the core unit of US firm Alphabet Inc, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets. According to a release from CCI, 'Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users. Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services'.

  • Defense

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems and mechanical systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.

    Recognizing the importance of Artificial intelligence (AI), The Department of Defence Production under the Indian Defence Ministry has constituted a task force headed by Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran to study use of artificial intelligence, which it said has potential to provide military superiority apart from driving technology-driven economic growth. According to an official release from Department of Defense production, 'Experts believe that future progress of artificial intelligence (AI) has potential to have transformative impact on national security. It is also seen that AI is essentially a dual use technology. While it can fuel technology driven economic growth, it also has potential to provide military superiority. India has a strong talent pool of engineers which are advantages which need to be leveraged. To study the whole gamut of issues surrounding strategic implications of AI in national security perspective, in global context, it has been decided to constitute a multi-stakeholder task force'.

  • Agni 1- Agni-1 is an indigenously developed surface-to-surface, single-stage missile which was inducted into service in 2004. The state-of-the-art missile is propelled by a solid rocket propellant system. It was launched as part of a regular training exercise by the armed forces. Agni-I missile with nuclear weapon carrying capability flight-tested successfully. India has successfully flight-tested the indigenously developed Agni-I ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear payload as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range off the Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command of the Army conducted the user trial of the 700 km range missile from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island in Balasore. It was 18th version of Agni-I, which could achieve all parameters within the stipulated time period, said defense sources.

    The missile was inducted into service in 2004, the sources pointed out. The surface-to-surface, single stage missile, powered by solid propellants, was launched as part of a regular training exercise by the armed forces, said the sources. The trial reconfirmed the Army's readiness to fire it at short notice. The missile has a specialised navigation system, which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision. It has proved its excellent performance in terms of range and accuracy. The 15-metre-long Agni-I, weighing 12 tonnes, can carry payloads up to 1,000 kg. The last trial was successfully conducted on November 22, 2016 from the same base.

  • Prithvi 2 - It is a single-stage liquid-fueled missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 500 kg, but with an extended range of 250 km (160 mi). It was developed with the Indian Air Force which is being the primary user. India on Wednesday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range in Odisha. The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near Balasore at around 11.35 a.m., they said. Describing the trial as a complete success, they said all mission objectives were met during the test launch. The perfect test launch came after successful trial of Agni-5 on January 18 and Agni-1 missile conducted from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast on February 6.

  • Environment

  • Rhododendrons Park - It is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. It contains two patches of area - 0.28 ha and 0.83 ha. Patch one was planted with 16 different species of Rhododendrons in first phase including Arboreum, Nerifolium, Hodgsonii, Keysii species of Rhododendrons.

    Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has laid the foundation stone for Rhododendron Park in Tawang in presence of RWD Parliamentary Secretary Jambey Tashi, local MLA Tsering Tashi, PCCF Omkar Singh, Commander of 190 Mt Brigade Brigadier MP Singh and others. He also carried out plantation drive of different varieties of Rhodos. Tawang is home to 50+ different varieties of Rhodos.

  • ASH TRACK App - It is a web-based monitoring system and a fly-ash mobile application which would act as an interface between producers and consumers. These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as road contractors, cement plants etc. Proper management of fly ash is important not only for the environment but for us also as the ash produced by power plants occupies a lot of land space. Speaking at the launch of the app, R K Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, added that proper management of fly ash is 'important not only for the environment but for us also as the ash produced by the power plants occupies a lot of land space'. According to calculations by Ministry of Power, a 1000 MW thermal power plant require approximately 250 acres of land to dump its fly ash

  • Economy

  • Cryptocurrency - A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions, to control the creation of additional units, and to verify the transfer of assets.

    Aiming to ensure crypto currencies doesn't move in Indian financial system, India is planning steps to ensure cryptocurrencies are illegal within its payments system. According to a government official, the government is also appointing a regulator to oversee unregulated exchanges that trade in crypto assets .Besides, a panel set by the government to look into issues relating to cryptocurrencies is expected to submit its report in the current fiscal year, ending on 31 March, S.C. Garg, economic affairs secretary Speaking to an news channel, Mr Garg said, 'The government will take steps to make it illegal as a payment system,' he said at a post-budget event telecast by the news channel, adding the trading of 'crypto assets' at the unregulated exchanges would be regulated. We hope now within this financial year the committee will finalise its recommendations ... certainly there will be a regulator'.

Sports Updates

  • Sports Ministry -Aiming to include healthy competition between sports bodies Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is planning a ranking system for National Sports Federations. The implementation of the sports code - which, among other things, bars officials over 70 years old - will also be an important yardstick. 'This is the first time the sports ministry will attempt to put in place a system by which sports federations will be ranked or rated according to set parameters. The sports ministry will set up a committee for this purpose. The committee will comprise sports administrators, sportspersons and professionals from other fields, including chartered accountants and management experts,' said Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar. According to the plan, the NSFs will be ranked for the financial year 2017-18, and the list will be released by May. While the committee will conduct its own study, it will also ask NSFs to submit audited accounts, give details of how professional management practices have been implemented, and how effectively they have addressed players' grievances. However, no call has been taken on whether funds released to NSFs will be linked to the rankings. 'There is no plan to link rankings with funding at the moment. As of now, we want the ranking system to be an incentive for national sports federations to improve their internal systems of management, governance and talent promotion. Hopefully, these rankings will spur healthy competition between federations and will in turn help the athletes across disciplines,' said Bhatnagar.

  • Indian Cricket Team -Indian Cricket team took a fair lead over South Africa in the recent ODI series Indian Cricket team became the top-ranked team in ICC ODI Rankings. India after the 73-run win on Tuesday at Port Elizabeth, gave India an unassailable 4-1 lead in the six-match ODI series. Irrespective of how the final ODI in Centurion pans out, India will remain the top-ranked side in the world. Virat Kohli captained India are also the top-ranked Test side. India came into the six-match series in second spot on 119 points with South Africa leading by 121 runs. After taking a 2-0 lead in the series, India unofficially took the top-spot but now things will become official when the series concludes. After the 4-1 lead, India move to 122 points while South Africa drop to 118 points. A win for India on Friday and the Virat Kohli-led side would extend that gap with 123 points as against 117 points. However, should South Africa win, India will shed one point to become No. 1 with 121 points and South Africa will stand second on 119 points.

  • ICC World Cup (U-19) -The 2018 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup was an international limited overs cricket tournament that was held in New Zealand from 13 January to 3 February 2018.[1] It was the twelfth edition of the Under - 19 Circket World Cup, and the third to be held in New Zealand (after the 2002 and 2010 events). New Zealand was the first country to host the event three times. India beat Australia by 8 wickets, lift 4th Under-19 World Cup title. Manjot Kalra brings up his century off 101 balls. This is India's fourth Under-19 World Cup title. Chasing a modest 217 in the summit clash, India romped home in just 38.5 overs with eight wickets in hand. The 19-year-old Kalra slammed his century off 101 balls. Kalra became second Indian after Unmukt Chand to score a hundred in the U-19 World Cup final. Earlier, Jonathan Merlo made a solid 76 before the India's left-arm spin duo of Shiva Singh and Anukul Roy sprung into action, limiting the opposition to 216 all out. At 183 for four, Australia looked well on course to reach 250 in a high-pressure until the Indian spinners engineered the collapse with Jason Sangha-led side losing its last six wickets for 33 runs. Australia, who had little hesitation in batting first, were guilty of not converting starts into big partnerships. Merlo and Param Uppal (34) were involved in a 75-run stand for the fourth wicket before the innings' top-scorer shared 49-runs with Nathan McSweeney (23) to set the platform for a competitive total. However, the momentum shifted hugely into India's favour when Shiva (2/36) set up Sweeney to have the batsman caught and bowled, leaving Australia at 183 for five.



Current Affairs - March 2018

Current Affairs March 05 to March 10, 2018

International Current News

  • India- Vietnam : India and Vietnam have agreed to intensify ties in defence and security, underlining that cooperation in the two key areas was an "important and effective pillar" of their strategic partnership. According to an India-Vietnam joint statement, the two sides also condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism. The document was released by the Ministry of External Affairs after the delegation-level talks yesterday between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, which covered an entire gamut of issues.

  • Marshall Islands: Marshall Islands creates its own cryptocurrency to pay bills, boost economy. The Pacific island nation said it became the first country in the world to recognize a cryptocurrency as its legal tender when it passed a law this past week to create the digital ?Sovereign? or SOV. In the nation of 60,000, the cryptocurrency will have equal status with the U.S. dollar as a form of payment.

  • India-France: Cabinet has approved four agreements with France. The Union Cabinet today approved a string of agreements, including ones on people-to-people contact and environment protection, to be signed with France during the visit of its President Emmanuel Macron to India from March 9. One of the agreements cleared today relates to migration and mobility partnership between India and France and will be initially valid for a period of seven years. It incorporates provision for automatic renewal and a monitoring mechanism through a joint working group. "The agreement represents a major milestone in enhancing people-to-people contacts, fostering mobility of students, academics, researchers and skilled professionals and strengthening cooperation on issues related to irregular migration and human trafficking between the two sides," an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting said. Another proposed agreement relates to facilitating mutual recognition of educational qualifications and periods of study undertaken by students in duly approved, recognised and accredited educational institutions in the two countries. The Cabinet also gave its nod to an agreement with France on the prevention of illicit consumption and reduction of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors.

National Current News

  • Assembly Election : NDA sweeps Nagaland and Tripura. BJP-led NDA swept through Nagaland and Tripura, retaining the former and ending the 25-year-old rule of the left in the latter, elections in Meghalaya resulted in a hung assembly with the BJP likely to take power despite its low numbers. It is in Meghalaya where the situation will be interesting over the next two days. The state is heading towards a hung Assembly with the Congress and its allies and the BJP and its partners poised to get 21 seats each. In Tripura, the Bharatiya Janata Party rose from 1.5 per cent vote share in the last Assembly election. The party has topped nearly 43 per cent vote share and snatched the state from the hands of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

  • Heli Taxi : Indias? first Helicopter shuttle (HeliTaxi) was launched in Bengaluru, with a group of passenger ferrying passengers from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) to Electronics City in 15 minutes. According to sources, the helitaxi made two trips, with the first one taking off at 6.30 a.m. The helitaxi, touted to be the first such service in the country, was announced in August 2017 The service is being offered by KIA in partnership with Thumby Aviation Pvt Ltd, in an effort to reduce the time taken to travel to the city from the international airport.

  • Child Marriage: United Nations Children?s Children Fund has declared that Child marriage number dropping in India. Speaking at a meet organized by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Javier Aguilar, UNICEF's chief of child protection, said, ?25 million child marriages were prevented worldwide in the last decade, with the largest reduction seen in South Asia ? where India was at the forefront. India constitutes more than 20% of the world's adolescent population and accounts for the highest number of child marriages in South Asia given its size and population. Elaborating further he said, ?In the current trend, 27% of girls, or nearly 1.5 million girls, get married before they turn 18 in India. ?This is a sharp decline from 47% a decade ago?. Campaigners and officials attributed the drop in child marriages to better access to education for women and increased public awareness on the negative impact of child marriage.

  • Sukhad Yatra: It is a mobile for the National Highway Commuters of India, who wish to cross through a National Toll road in a pre-informed manner. The App also prevents frauds by way of overcharging by a Toll Plaza as it informs the user about the fee applicable. While on move, users can know the places of interest & Route to these places if he/she wishes. The App tells real time waiting time at a plaza as at a particular time. Once the user crosses a plaza, he/she can also give feedback of his experience through the toll plaza.

  • IMPRINT: IMPRINT is the first of its kind MHRD supported Pan-IIT + IISc joint initiative to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance. This novel initiative with twofold mandate is aimed at, (a) Developing new engineering education policy, (b) Creating a road map to pursue engineering challenges. IMPRINT provides the overarching vision that guides research into areas that are predominantly socially relevant.

  • Silver copper telluride (AgCuTe): Researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have found Silver copper telluride exhibits poor thermal conductivity in the 25-425 degree C range but shows good electrical conductivity. Developed by a team of researchers led by Dr Kanishka Biswas from Bengaluru?s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), shows promise as a thermoelectric material for converting waste heat into electricity.

  • Rationalization of public sector banks: State-owned lenders have started rationalising the overseas operations by consolidating 35 operations and closing down non-viable branches as part of the clean and responsible banking initiative. Presently, public sector banks have about 165 overseas branches, besides subsidiaries, joint ventures and representative offices. State Bank of India has the largest number of overseas branches (52) followed by Bank of Baroda (50) and Bank of India (29). The State-owned banks have largest number of branches in United Kingdom (32) followed by Hong Kong and UAE (13 each) and Singapore (12).

  • Women entrepreneurship platform: NITI Aayog launched the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), on the occasion of International Women?s Day on Thursday. The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across India to realise their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, launched the WEP platform at NITI Aayog premises in the capital today in presence of UN Resident Coordinator in IndiaYuri Afanasiev, Kailash Kher, industry leaders and supporting partners. The WEP theme song ?Naari Shakti composed and sung by Shri Kailash Kher was released on this occasion.

  • European development Bank : European development bank has approved Indias membership after shareholders of the international financial institution gave their nod to the countrys candidature. The move follows the Indian government?s application to seek the EBRD membership back in December 2017 and sets the stage for an increase in joint investment with Indian companies in the Banks regions of operation. The formal membership process will now get underway, which includes the purchase of shares by India at an estimated cost of around 1 million. The EBRDs board of governors, which represents all the existing shareholders of the UK-based bank, voted in favour of Indias membership application last week. If all the paperwork is processed in time, India could be ready to take its seat at the table in time for the banks annual meeting in Jordan in May. The London-headquartered EBRD is a multilateral development bank set up in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin wall to promote private and entrepreneurial initiative in emerging Europe. It invests in 38 emerging economies across three continents, according to a set of criteria that aim to make its countries more competitive, better governed, greener, more inclusive, more resilient and more integrated.

Sports Updates

  • Navjot Kaur: Navjot Kaur scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win gold at the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships in Bishkek. Navjot thrashed Japan's Miya Imai 9-1 in the final to emerge champion in the women's 65kg category. Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik took bronze in the women's 62kg category with a hard fought 10-7 win in the play-off over Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazhakstan. India now have a tally of one gold, one silver and four bronze medals in the competition.

Others

  • Culture:This years Oscars were even more suspenseful and high-stakes than usual, with The shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro winning the Oscar for his film. While, Frances McDormand won the Oscar for Actress in a leading role in the film Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri?, the actor in a leading role when to Gary Oldman for his acting in Darkest Hour.

Current Affairs March 11 to March 16, 2018

National Current News

  • Passive Euthanasia : Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don't do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive. It is done, through switching off life-support machines, disconnect a feeding tube, don't carry out a life-extending operation or don't give life-extending drugs. In a historic decision, the Supreme Court on Friday declared passive euthanasia and the right of persons, including the terminally ill, to give advance directives to refuse medical treatment permissible. A Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in three concurring opinions, upheld that the fundamental right to life and dignity includes right to refuse treatment and die with dignity. The fundamental right to a "meaningful existence" includes a person's choice to die without suffering, it held.
  • DIU: It is a union territory in Western India. With an area of 112 km2, it is the smallest federal division of India on the mainland. The territory comprises two distinct regions Daman and Diu, geographically separated by the Gulf of Khambhat. The state of Gujarat and the Arabian Sea border. Diu becomes India's first fully solar-powered Union Territory. Diu becomes the first destination to be fully run by solar power. The Union Territory has made such significant progress in the last three years that now Diu produces more than 100 per cent solar power. Diu, which has a geographical area of 42 sq km, has installed solar power plants across 50 acres of its land.
  • National Academy of Coastal Policing (NACP): The Union home ministry recently sanctioned the launch of the National Academy of Coastal Policing (NACP) from a campus of Gujarat's Fisheries Research Centre located in coastal Okha in the newly created Devbhoomi Dwarka district. An official order, accessed by PTI, said the first-of-its-kind institution of the country will be created and run by a multi-agency team of paramilitary and defence forces and sharpen the response and skills of the marine forces of multiple states which have sea lines. As per the order, while the Union home ministry's policing think tank -- the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) -- will pilot the establishment and running of the academy, the Border Security Force (BSF), that guards the Indian frontier in Gujarat with Pakistan, the navy and the Coast Guard will form the core to run the academy. The BSF will also provide security to the campus which on the Arabian Sea coast and is at a flying distance from the Pakistan coast.
  • Aadhaar: Supreme Court extends Aadhaar deadline indefinitely the March 31 deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones. The Supreme Court said that its interim order on not insisting Aadhaar, except for giving subsidy, will remain in force till the five-judge bench gives its judgment on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. The government cannot insist for mandatory Aadhaar even for issuance of Tatkal passport," the Supreme Court said. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had on March 7 said it may not be possible to decide by March 31 the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.
  • Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR): The 2017 Kochon Prize was awarded to the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) for building a tradition of excellence in TB research and development. According to an official source, ?The $65,000 Prize is awarded annually by Stop TB Partnership to individuals and/or organizations that have made a significant contribution to combating TB. The ICMR emerged the winner from amongst 18 nominations. The 2017 Kochon Prize is specifically about contributions to TB research. Since ICMR and several of its research groups ? NIRT, JALMA and India TB Research Consortium ? are engaged in TB research, and some of them for a very long time, it made sense to nominate ICMR for this Prize this year.
  • Innovation Cell: Aiming to boost new ideas about promoting innovation in the country, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has announced the setting up of an ?Innovation Cell? in the Ministry of Human and Resource Development (HRD). Ministry of HRD also tweeted, ??Innovation Cell? to be set up in @HRDMinistry to promote #Innovation further - HRD Minister @PrakashJavdekar (1/3)#TransformingIndia #Research #NewIndia? .In a series of tweet, the ministry said, "There has been considerable improvement in India's ranking in Global Innovation Index 2017. Since the large part of Global Innovation Index relates to Education, the setting up of Innovation Cell in the Ministry will lead to more focused attention on innovation and research efforts."
  • Citizen Services App: It is a mobile app developed in-house by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) . It offers a bouquet of various essential police related services to the citizen. The mobile app can be used by citizen for various services such as Complaint Registration and Status Check, View FIR Detail, SOS ? Stay Safe, Locate Police Stations, Vahan-Samanvay, Emergency Contact List, Police Stations Telephone Directory etc. The app was released as a part of NCRB?s inception day celebration.

Economics:

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): India has attracted 209 billion dollars in FDI during April 2014- December 2017. Foreign direct investment has increased steadily in the country with total capital inflows reaching USD 208.99 billion during April 2014 to December 2017 period. The main sectors that received maximum foreign inflows include services, computer software and hardware, telecommunications, construction, trading and automobile.
  • International:
  • Finland: According to UN Report, Finland has been reported as happiest country in the world. As per the report, ?Finland has vaulted from fifth place to the top of the rankings this year,? said the report?s authors, although they noted that the other three Nordic countries (plus Switzerland) have almost interchangeable scores. The report, an annual publication from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network said all the Nordic countries scored highly on income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. The rankings are based on Gallup polls of self-reported wellbeing, as well as perceptions of corruption, generosity and freedom.
  • Saudi Arabia: Divorced Saudi mothers win new rights to child custody. In a significant move, divorced women in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to file a lawsuit to gain custody of their children, provided there are no disputes between the parents. Mothers may now simply submit a request to the relevant court, without the need for legal action. The new process was outlined in a circular to the courts from Sheikh Walid Al-Samaani, the minister of justice and president of the Higher Council of the Judiciary. The circular also gives the mother the right to carry out all formalities related to her children at government departments, embassies, education offices and schools, and to apply for and collect her children?s passports.

Current Affairs March 19 to March 23, 2018

International Current News

  • International Criminal Court : International Criminal Court is an inter-governmental organization and international tribunal that is located in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Philippines has informed the UN Secretary-General of its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Teodoro Locsin, the permanent representative of the Philippines to the UN, tweeted that he had submitted the letter to the Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and shared a photo of the document with a news agency. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had announced his country's withdrawal from the ICC, accusing the body of "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" against him and his administration, due to the ICC's attempts to investigate his anti-drugs campaign, which has led to over 12,000 deaths, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • Myanmar: India has handed over the 18 diesel-electric locomotives to Myanmar, thereby completing the first project under the current Indian line of credit (LoC) to the eastern neighbour. These 18 locos are fitted with the microprocessor control based system. 1350 HP AC/DC main line diesel locomotives with a maximum speed of 100 KM PH have been customised for the Myanmar Railways, built by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi. They are also extremely fuel-efficient and equipped with the latest features. Most of these supplies in the railway sector have been carried out under Indian Line of Credit.

National Current News

  • Indian Railways: Indian Railways has introduced an innovative analytical approach to optimize the deployment of electric and diesel locomotives run passenger trains. This involves use of a software based mathematical decision support system to increase the productivity of locomotives. Indian Railways has a fleet of about 3300 electric and diesel locomotive running passenger trains across the country. Locomotives are deployed to run passenger trains through cyclic schedules called locomotive links. Hitherto, locomotive links were being manually prepared by the respective sixteen zones to operate the trains allocated to the zones.
  • Plastic ban: The Maharashtra government has decided to ban the use of plastic from "Gudi Padva", the Maharashtrian New Year which falls on March 18. Making the announcement, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam on Friday said that the ban would cover the production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation of plastic, the minister informed the House. He said that those violating the ban would be fined Rs 25,000 and could also face a three-year jail term.
  • SATH-E : SATH-E has been envisaged as a programme which aims to transform elementary and secondary school education across these three states. SATH-E roadmap refers to a time-bound, goal-driven exercise that will reach its logical culmination by the end of the academic year 2020. Further, the foundations of other long term interventions,as is found necessary by each state, would be laid during this period. The roadmaps for the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E) Project of NITI Aayog, being undertaken in partnership with three participating States of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, were released on Saturday, March 17 by Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, in presence of Shri Sudhir Tripathi, Chief Secretary, Jharkhand, Shri Alok Kumar, Adviser (HRD), NITI Aayog, Principal Secretaries for education, State Project Directors (SPDs), knowledge partners and representatives operating in the field of education.
  • CISF: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was raised with modest three battalions to provide integrated security cover to Public Sector Undertakings. The CISF has launched a mobile application through which travellers can register complaints to recover items they lost or forgot at various airports. The app called 'Lost and Found' can be downloaded from the website of the Information and Technology Ministry. The 'Lost and Found' scheme was first launched by the force on its website in 2015 to trace and restore items and valuables left behind by the commuters at airports. CISF restored property worth 50.05 crore last year while valuables/items worth Rs 5.49 crore were restored to the passengers this year through the web portal, Singh said. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guards 59 civil airports across the country.
  • National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA): NCAA aims to identify and preserve the cultural heritage of India available in audiovisual form through a process of digitization and making it accessible to the people. Over 23,000 hours of unpublished audiovisual recordings have already been digitized. NCAA pilot digital repository was developed in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Digital Preservation by C-DAC, Pune. NCAA digital repository is established with and powered by DIGITĀLAYA which is developed by C-DAC Pune in compliance with Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model ISO 14721:2012. NCAA has been certified as the world?s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom.
  • Autonomy for Higher Educational Institutions: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted autonomy to sixty Higher Educational Institutions which have maintained high academic standards. Making the announcement Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Government is striving to introduce a liberalized regime in the education sector and emphasis is on linking autonomy with quality. The central universities which are given autonomy included Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Aligarh Muslim University , Aligarh and The English and Foreign Languages University, Telengana. The minister said that the sixty Higher Educational Institutions which have been granted autonomy includes 52 Universities i.e. 5 central universities, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities, and 2 private universities.
  • Tuberculosis: Government has made mandatory doctor, hospital authorities, chemists and druggists to report the cases to the health authorities. According to a notification, the Union Health Ministry said failure by clinical establishments to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer and local public health staff can be punished with a jail term of six months to two years under the provisions of Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). While Section 269 provides for a jail term of six months and/ or fine, Section 270 has provision for a jail term of two years and/ or fine.
  • Gratuity amendment bill: The legislation will enable the government to enhance the ceiling of tax-free gratuity to Rs. 20 lakh from the existing Rs. 10 lakh for employees falling under the Payment of Gratuity Act. Parliament on Thursday passed a key bill that will empower the government to fix the amount of tax-free gratuity and the period of maternity leave with an executive order. The Lok Sabha gave its approval to the important bill last week. After the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the ceiling of gratuity amount for Central government employees was doubled to Rs. 20 lakh. It also allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks. The amendment to the payment of gratuity law comes in the backdrop of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.
  • Surrogacy Bill 2016: Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby an intending couple commissions a surrogate mother to carry their child. The intending couple must be Indian citizens and married for at least five years with at least one of them being infertile. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for moving official amendments to the ?Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016?. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the Central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. The proposed legislation ensures effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian infertile couples

Economics:

  • Sand Mining Framework: framework addresses the issues of state objectives, demand-supply assessment, measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and monitoring mechanisms. Besides, it also includes suggestions for faster clearances /approvals and using its interventions in complete process chain of sand mining. The framework also lays emphasis on the possible alternatives of sand, including its import. Government approves Sand Mining Framework. The framework prepared after intensive consultations with all stakeholders was launched by Union Minister of Mines Narendra Singh Tomar at the third National Conclave on Mines & Minerals in New Delhi.

Environment:

    Water strider: Water striders are a group of insects adapted to life on the surface of water, using surface tension to their advantage. Researchers have found a new species of water strider in the river Intanki, Peren district of Nagaland. The species, named Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra, was found in the river Intanki, Peren district. The discovery was published in the science journal Zootaxa. Scientists working on the water striders say that their presence serves as an indicator water of water quality and they are found on water surface. There are nearly 100 species of water striders found in India across different water bodies such as open ocean, ponds, pools, lakes, rivers, streams etc

Current Affairs March 26 to March 30, 2018

International Current News

  • 100 Russian diplomats are expelled: Over 100 Russian diplomats will be expelled after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. Many governments including United States said it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Russia. British Prime Minister Theresa May, said 18 countries had announced plans to expel Russian officials. Those included 14 European Union countries. In total, 100 Russian diplomats were being removed, the biggest Western expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.

National Current News

  • E- Tribes (Tribes India): Tribes India is an initiative for digital commerce for marketing tribal products. The initiative includes launch of e-commerce porta www.tribesindia.com and M-commerce, android app 'Tribes India'. With this, more than 55,000 tribal artisans connected to TRIFED will get access to local as well as international markets. TRIBES India has now started marketing tribal handicrafts on e-commerce portals namely, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and GeM, which, he said, will prove to be a game changer for tribal artisans. The organisation has set up an ambitious retail sales target of Rs 100 crores to be achieved during 2018-19 with the help of e-commerce.
  • Host Country Agreement: It is judicial document signed between International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) . Under this agreement, ISA will enjoy such privileges, applicable tax concessions and immunities as are necessary for ISA?s Headquarter to independently discharge its function and programmes. With the signing of the agreement ISA has become a juridical personality and empowered to contract, to acquire and dispose off movable and immovable properties, to institute and defend legal proceedings. The main objective of ISA is to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology, mobilise more than US $ 1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of 121 countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics.
  • Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA): DTAA creates a clear tax environment for business activities carried out between two countries. It prevents international businesses from paying tax in the country where the income or profits are generated. Or, in some cases, it allows the country to deduct tax at source, and offers businesses a foreign tax credit to reflect that the tax has already been paid. India and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China signed a double tax avoidance agreement (DTAA) after agreeing to a framework in November, last year.
  • Study in India: It is a programme created by Ministry of Human Resource Development has to boost the number of inbound International students in India. Besides, the objective of the programme is to improve the soft power of India with focus on the neighbouring countries and use it as a tool in diplomacy. The plan aims to double India?s market share of global education exports from less than 1 percent to 2 percent. Increase in contribution of international student in the form of direct spends, indirect spends, spillover effects and also improvement in overall quality of higher education. Increase in global ranking of India as educational destination. To reduce the export ? Import imbalance in the number of International students. Growth of India?s global market share of International students
  • Surat: Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres in the country. There are a total of 52 PHCs in the district and all of them are now powered by solar system. This initiative will not only bring down the electricity bill by 40 percent but also help fight global warming. There are 572 gram panchayats in the Surat District, out of which 150 are solar powered gram panchayats and soon the other 422 panchayats will too be solar powered. 25 percent of the total expense of making the gram panchayat solar powered has been borne by the district panchayat.
  • National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS): It is joint survey conducted by National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18, which was conducted between mid-November 2017 and mid-March 2018 by the World Bank and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS). The survey covered 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across states and UTs of India. On an average, only 15 households have been covered per village, which, perhaps, is not enough to have a holistic view of sanitation status. Survey predicts over 93% of people who had access to a toilet use them. The share of rural households that had access to a toilet has grown to 77% from 40% in 2014. The annual survey confirmed that open defecation free (ODF) status of 95% of the villages that had earlier been declared and verified.
  • EPFO portal for pensioners: Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Wednesday launched a new portal through which EPFO pensioners will get the details of pension-related information. The portal will assist users with details like pension payment order number, payment order details, passbook information and other related information. Further, it will provide help to pensioners to know the status of their life certificate. It will also provide the details and the reason of stoppage of pension. The enhanced ?Track eKYC? facility for the convenience of members has also been launched to check the status of Aadhaar seeded against their Universal Account Number.

Environment:

  • Krem Puri: Longest sandstone cave in world was discovered in Meghalaya. The cave named Krem Puri discovered near the village of Laitsohum in Mawsynram area of East Khasi Hills district. With a length of 24,583 metres, Krem Puri was discovered back in 2016 but the actual length of the cave was obtained by the Meghalaya Adventurers? Association (MAA) during one of its recent expeditions. It is 6,000m longer than the current listed sandstone cave in the world, Cueva El Sam?n, (18,200m) in Venezuela. The cave system has fossils of dinosaurs, especially the Mosasaurus, a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
  • Brazzaville Declaration: It is a declaration jointly signed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia to conserve the largest tropical peat land Cuvette Centrale region in the Congo Basin from unregulated land use and prevent its drainage and degradation. The world?s largest tropical peat lands, , jointly signed the Brazzaville declaration that promotes better management and conservation of this globally important carbon store offers the equivalent of three years of global greenhouse gas emissions is stored in the Congo peat lands. To preserve the future of these valuable natural peat lands ? which are about the size of England, and were only mapped scientifically in their entirety for the first time last year ? the DRC and the Republic of Congo established a trans boundary collaboration agreement. The agreement noted the importance of good land use and infrastructure planning that takes the nature of peat lands into account.

Defence:

  • INS Ganga (F22) : INS Ganga, an indigenously built frigate of the Indian Navy, was decommissioned after over three decades of service. Commissioned on December 30, 1985, the ship represented a big step forward in the nation's warship building capability, an official statement issued here tonight said. The ceremony was attended by several officers and men, many now retired, who had served on board the ship. The poignant and impressive ceremony, which saw the naval ensign hauled down for the last time at sunset, was conducted by the last Commanding Officer of the ship Captain NP Pradeep. The chief guest for the ceremony was Vice Admiral A K Bhal, himself a former crew member of the ship from 1989 to 1991. The special guest of honour for the ceremony was Vice Admiral (Retd) K K Kohli, the first Commanding Officer of INS Ganga.
  • Draft policy on defence production: Govt release draft policy on defence production. The government identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production in India to achieve the aim of "self-reliance". One among the aim of the draft policy is to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms with active participation of public and private sectors. Besides, the policy lists as a major aim achieving export of Rs 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry. The policy says the goal is to achieve a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in defence goods and services by 2025 involving additional investment of nearly Rs 70,000 crore, creating employment for nearly 2 to 3 million people. It says the aim is to achieve export of Rs 35,000 crore in defence goods and services by 2025.


Current Affairs - April 2018


Current Affairs April 2 to April 6

International Current News

  • Turkey: Turkey has launched its first nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean Mersin region, which will be built at the cost of 20 billion dollar. The nuclear power plant Titled ?Akkuyu nuclear power plant project?, will come online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of modern Turkey's founding, and be completed entirely in 2026. Once complete the power station will provide 10 percent of the electricity needs of Turkey, which has few energy resources of its own. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the nuclear power plant.

National Current News

  • Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone which is involved in childbirth and breast-feeding. It is a neurotransmitter which is deeply associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building. The Union government of India has banned imports of the hormone oxytocin. The immediate ban comes after the severe misuse has been noted in the livestock industry, where activists say it causes hormonal imbalances and shortens the lives of animals. The government has also asked customs officials to step up vigilance against smuggling of oxytocin into the country.
  • UTTAM App: UTTAM app Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal (uttam.coalindia.in). It provides a platform for monitoring of sampling and coal dispatches. The App is designed with an aim to make the citizens a stakeholder in the coal ecosystem. UTTAM is an example of leveraging technology to facilitate a bidirectional channel between Coal India Limited and a common citizen. It ensures transparency and efficiency in the coal quality monitoring process and brings coal governance closer to people.
  • Election Commission of India (EC): It is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. Election Commission has voiced its stand on validity of the candidate?s contesting in more than one constituency. The Election Commission (EC) has told the Supreme Court that a candidate should not be allowed to contest election from more than one constituency. The commission noted that, there have been several cases where a person contests election from two constituencies and wins both. In such a situation he vacates the seat in one of two constituencies. The consequence is that a bye-election would be required for one constituency involving avoidable labour and expenditure on the conduct of that bye-election.
  • National Medical Commission Bill: It is a new bill approved by union cabinet and was introduced by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda in Lok Sabha on December 29, 2017. The Bill seeks to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and provide for a medical education system which ensures: (a) availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals, (b) adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals, (c) periodic assessment of medical institutions, and (d) an effective grievance redressal mechanism. The Bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC). Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils at the state level. The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government.
  • Baseline ranking and Real-time monitoring for Aspirational Districts : This programme is a policy priority of Government of India. NITI Aayog anchors the programme with support from Central Ministries and the State Governments. While NITI Aayog is steering the initiative in 30 districts, various central ministries oversee 50 districts besides the Ministry of Home Affairs, which focuses on 35 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts. Officers at the level of Joint Secretary / Additional Secretary have been nominated to become the ?Central Prabhari Officers? of each district. States have appointed state-nodal and Prabhari officers. An Empowered Committee under the Convenorship of the CEO, NITI Aayog will help in the convergence of various government schemes and streamlining of efforts.
  • Monument Mitra: Government has launched Monument Mitra to adopt heritage sites. It is an important project launched by Ministry of Tourism works in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It is a unique project which aims to focus on providing basic amenities that include cleanliness, public convenience, drinking water, and ease of access for tourists, signage etc. and advanced amenities like TFC, Souvenir shop, Cafeteria etc. The project envisages that selected public sector companies, private sector companies and individuals will develop tourist amenities at heritage sites. They would become ?Monument Mitra? and adopt the sites essentially under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. They would also look after the operations and maintenance of the adopted site initially for the 5 years subject to review at any time. The project began with 93 ASI ticketed monuments and has now been expanded to other natural and cultural heritage sites and other tourist sites across India. The project was launched by the Hon?ble President of India on 27th Sept, 2017 on the occasion of World Tourism Day.
  • OBC List: 120 castes and communities included in OBC list in the Central List of Other Backward Classes for different States/Union Territories. These inclusion were made on the basis of recommendation from by National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) under Section 9(1) of the NCBC Act, 1993. A total of 120 entries containing castes, their synonyms and sub-castes have been notified in the Central List of Other Backward Classes in the last three years.

Economics

  • Atal Pension Yojana: It is a pension scheme for unorganised sector workers such as personal maids, drivers, gardeners etc, was launched in June 2015 by the government. This social security scheme was introduced as a replacement to previous government's Swavalamban Yojana NPS Lite. The subscriber base under Atal Pension Yojana (APY) scheme has touched 97.05 lakh subscriber (2017-18). As per the Ministry of Finance, an additional 48.21 lakh subscribers were brought under the scheme, which is 98 percent more than last year's figure of 48.83 lakhs.
  • Import duty on Smart phones: Government has raises 10 percent import duty on smartphone handset. A notification from Union Government said that components like camera module and printed circuit board assembly, will invite 10 percent import duty. In another notification, the revenue department has increased the basic import duty on populated, loaded or stuffed printed circuit boards, related to telephones (including mobile phones) from nil to 10 percent. It should be noted that earlier in the Budget 2018-19, the government had hiked customs duty on mobile phones to 20 percent from 15 percent.
  • Startup India: Startup India is an initiative of the Government of India. It was announced by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during his 15 August 2015 address from the Red Fort in New Delhi. According to the data available with Startup India, a total of 8,625 Start-ups have been recognized as on 30 March, 2018. 2711 start-ups where incorporated in 2017-18.
  • Digital Initiative for Exports: Government has launched digital initiative by Export Inspection Council (EIC) to improve exports. EIC is the official export certification body of Government of India and has launched this flagship project of Digital India Initiative to keep pace with changing dynamics of the world. In order to continue the vision for credible inspection and certification and to strengthen the confidence on Indian produce, three portals have been developed to reduce transaction time and cost in a transparent manner. The portals not only provide an opportunity for ease of export but also plays an important role in the Go Green initiative by reducing paper usage and saving millions trees. To provide fast, efficient and transparent services for ease of doing business in all sectors the complete export food chain has been integrated in this digital platform. Primary production, chain catch, aquaculture pond, dairy farms and apiaries are all linked. Processing units, testing laboratories, official controls and exports have complete traceability.
  • Indian Accounting Standards: Ind AS is a set of accounting norms developed by Indian authorities, which converge with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). This procedures are adopted by companies in India and issued under the supervison of Accouting Standards Board (ASB) which was constituted as a body in the year 1977. ASB is a committee under Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) which consists of representatives from government department, academicians, other professional bodies viz. ICAI, representatives from ASSOCHAM, CII, FICCI, etc. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday deferred the implementation of the Indian accounting standards (Ind AS) by one year as many banks are not prepared to migrate to the new accounting system. The earlier deadline for banks to switch to the Ind AS was from 1 April 2018. ?Ind AS was to be implemented from this year. As part of this, we?ve also been requiring banks to submit half-yearly returns based in Ind AS format. But our assessment is that many banks are still not prepared to move to Ind AS."

Environment:

  • Fimbristylis agasthyamalaensis: A new plant species was found in Western Ghats by a team of researchers from the University College. Plant named after the locality from which it was found. The new plant species is classified as a sedge the grass-like plant has been named. It was found by researchers, including post-doctoral fellow A.R Viji and Assistant Professor T.S Preetha, came across the species during an expedition to the marshy grasslands in the Ponmudi hills within the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve. The survey was part of a project funded by the Women Scientists Division of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE). The finding has been published in Phytotaxa, an international journal of botanical systematics and biodiversity.

Science and Technology

  • GSAT-6A: It was the India's largest communications satellite and carrying a 6-metre antenna for enabling more efficient ground communication. The satellite itself was successfully placed into a geosynchronous orbit, but has lost communication. When the satellite was on course to normal operating configuration for the third and final firing, scheduled for April 1, 2018, communication from the satellite was lost. Efforts are underway to establish the link with the satellite. The second orbit raising operation of GSAT-6A satellite has been successfully carried out by LAM Engine firing for about 53 minutes on March 31, 2018, in the morning.
  • TRAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has mooted a concept of open architecture-based public Wi-Fi grid to bring down the cost of internet by 90 per cent. This will allow small entrepreneurs like tea stalls, grocery shops and vendors to set up and maintain access points. Device manufacturers, payment companies, ISPs/telcos and consumer internet companies can provide the remaining pieces to set up public data offices (PDOs). The regulator?s concept involves PDOs ? much like PCOs of yesteryears that galvanised connectivity. The PDOs will be companies, or even small merchants, interested in providing Wi-Fi hotspots to public either free or on payment model. According to the report submitted to telecom ministry, the products available for consumption should begin from ?sachet sized?, that is, low denomination, as low as ₹2. It said users should be able to easily discover the network, do one-click authentication and payment and connect their devices in Wi-Fi hotspots.

Current Affairs April 08 to April 14

International Current News

  • MoU between India and UK on Illegal Migrants: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to the MoU between India and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on the return of Illegal Migrants. The MoU will facilitate that the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as well as liberalization of UK Visa Regime for those who are travelling to the UK legally, after conclusion of the MoU. It will ensure the return of persons who have no lawful basis to be in the territory of the other Party after verification of nationality to its satisfaction. It will help in streamlining the procedure of return of nationals who are caught to be staying illegally, belonging to the other party in a specified time-frame.

National Current News

  • Walmiki and Malhar: Walmiki and Malhar are two new languages discovered in India. The discovery was made by Professor Panchanan Mohanty, a researcher from the University of Hyderabad who is also the former dean of the School of Humanities. Walmiki is spoken in Koraput of Odisha and on the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh, the second language Malhar is spoken in a remote and isolated hamlet about 165 km away from Bhubaneswar.
  • Tajmahal: Tajmahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Supreme Court demands documents to accept Taj Mahal as Walkf Board property. The country?s top court has asked Sunni Central Walkf Board to produce original title documents bearing emperor Shah Jahan?s signatures handing over Taj Mahal as Wakf property if the court had to accept the board?s claim over the world famous monument.
  • Ganga Hariteema Yojana : It is a state government scheme to allow plantation in one-kilometre areas from the banks of river by government of Uttar Pradesh. The state government will also encourage the common people for plantation on their private lands under ?One Person One Tree? slogan. The scheme aims to enhance the green cover in the catchment areas of the river Ganga and to control the land erosion. A high power committee under Chairmanship of Chief Minister has been set up to monitor the implementation of the scheme.The scheme Ganga Hariteema Yojana will be carried out by September 16 2018, the date that will be observed as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2018. Seven state government departments have been engaged for implementation of the Ganga Hariteema Yojana Scheme. A committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary Rajeev Kumar will check out the contribution of different.
  • Committee for Online media : Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry set up a 10-member committee to recommend policy formation to regulate online. The committee includes secretaries of Ministries of Home, and Information Technology, Departments of Legal Affairs, and Industrial Policy and Promotion. It also has a representatives from Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasters Federation. The committee will recommend appropriate policy formulation for online media/news portals and online content platforms, including digital broadcasting that encompasses entertainment, infotainment and news and media aggregators. It will do so keeping in mind the existing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms, programmes and advertising code for TV channels and norms circulated by the representative bodies of media organisations.
  • Steroids: Steroids are aerosols, creams, gels, lotions, and solutions that contain corticosteroids (often abbreviated to steroids) and are designed to be applied externally to the scalp or skin, depending on the condition being treated. Union Government of India has banned over 14 creams including alclometasone, beclomethasone, desonide, desoximetasone, flucinonide etc. These were banned under the Schedule H category by making amendments to certain Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. The immediate decision was taken following consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board which had recommended a ban on the sale of such creams without prescription and had also submitted their recommendations to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation.
  • Inland waterways: India has a large network of water bodies in the form of rivers, Lakes, Canals and backwaters. These long waterways are provides a good mode of transport across the cities as well as towns, like backwaters of Kerala, Canals in Gujarat and few waterways in Goa, West Bengal and Assam. In an effort boost the cooperation in the connectivity sector, India and Nepal has decided to develop inland waterways for cargo movements.
  • All electric high-speed locomotive in India: India's first all-electric high-speed locomotive developed in collaboration with French firm Alstom at Madhepura's Electric Locomotive Factory. The locomotive was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The powerful locomotive, each double section has a capacity to pull 6000 tonnes. These heavy haulage locomotives will be used to transport coal and iron ore. This high-speed all-electric rail engine will reduce the congestion faced by Indian railways with a speed of 120 km/hr. Since the locomotive is fully electric, it will lower the operating costs for the Railways and will cut down greenhouse gas emissions as well.
  • Project Dhoop: It is a nation-wide campaign which aims to spread awareness about availing Vitamin D through natural sunlight and consuming fortified food among school-going children. Project Dhoop urges schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time, mainly between 11am and 1pm to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D in students through natural sunlight. The project was implemented in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), North MCD and several private schools through a Joint Noon Assembly. Twenty-five schools from the National Capital Region were among the participants.
  • eAadhaar with digitally signed QR code with photo: The UIDAI has brought in secure digitally-signed QR Code on the e-Aadhaar which will now contain photograph of the Aadhaar holder too, in addition to demographic details. But in order to ensure that a person is a bonafide owner of the Aadhaar card, there will be a manual check of photo with the individual?s face or through use of agency specific authentication scheme. A QR code is a form of barcode label which contains machine-readable information, while e-Aadhaar is the electronic version of Aadhaar that can be downloaded from UIDAI website. The new feature, the digitally-signed QR code, will contain photo of the Aadhaar holder in addition to existing facility of demographic details, in turn allowing various user agencies like banks to verify authenticity of Aadhaar card offline. UIDAI?s e-Aadhaar QR Code reader software has been made available on the agency?s website from 27 March 2018.
  • Pay revision for Lieutenant Governors of UT: The Cabinet has approved the proposal for increasing the pay and allowances of Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories with effect from 1st January, 2016 from Rs.80,000/- per month plus dearness allowance, sumptuary allowance at the rate of Rs.4,000/- per month and local allowances to Rs. 2,25,000/- plus dearness allowance, sumptuary allowance at the rate of Rs.4,000/- per month and local allowances at the same rate as applicable to the officers of the rank of Secretary to the Govt. of India It will be subject to the condition that the total emoluments (excluding sumptuary allowance and local allowances) shall not exceed the total emoluments drawn by the Governor of a State. The pay and allowances of Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories remain at par with those of officers of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. The pay and allowances of Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories was last revised with the approval of the Cabinet with effect from 1stJanuary, 2006 from Rs. 26,000/- (fixed) per month to Rs.80,000/- (fixed) per month plus dearness allowance, sumptuary allowance at the rate of Rs.4,000/- per month and local allowances. The pay of officers of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India has been revised from Rs.80,000/- to Rs.2,25,000/- per month with effect from 01.01.2016 as per CCS (Revised) Pay Rules, 2016.

Economics

  • Panel to review CSR provisions under the company's law: A 12-member panel to review the enforcement of CSR provisions under the company?s law. The panel is headed by Regional Director (Western Region) Manmohan Juneja. Other members include Joint Director (Legal) Sanjay Shorey and Joint Director (Policy) N K Dua, while Deputy Director (CSR) Seema Rath will be the convener. Representatives from apex bodies of chartered accountants, cost accountants and company secretaries, among others will be part of the panel. Besides, there will be two sub-committees ? legal and technical ? that would go into various aspects in relation to compliance with CSR provisions. The panel would revisit the guidelines for enforcement of CSR provisions and basis, including structure of Centralised Scrutiny and Prosecution Mechanism (CSPM). It will also look at methodologies for monitoring of compliance by companies with CSR norms for having an effective CSPM.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): It is an investment made by a company or individual in one country in business interests in another country. India has bagged the top place in the list of foreign direct investment (FDI) from within the Commonwealth and is the second-most lucrative source of investment within the 53-member organisation after the UK, according to a new trade review. According to a trade review release, ?Commonwealth Trade Review 2018: Strengthening the Commonwealth Advantage?, compiled by the Commonwealth secretariat, also found that India has moved into the top five providers of intra-Commonwealth services trade, surpassing Canada, and alongside Australia, Singapore and the UK'.
  • Incentives for Startup: Government of India is creating an Inter-Ministerial Board (IMB) to consider applications of Startups for claim of following incentives of the Income Tax Act 1961(hereinafter referred as Act). A) exemption from levy of income tax on share premium received by eligible Startups under section 56 of the Act. B) 100% deduction of the profits and gains from income of Startups for three out of seven consecutive assessment years under 80 IAC of the Act. With the introduction of amendments through this notification, startups are likely to have easy access to funding which in turn will ensure ease in starting of new businesses, promote startup eco-system, encourage entrepreneurship leading to more job creation and economic growth in the country.
  • UAV: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a drone or an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between them. Government has decided to constitute a Task Force under the chairmanship of Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation for fast-tracking the roll-out of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology. The Task Force will develop a roadmap with implementable recommendations for Central as well as State Governments, Industry and Research Institutions. The Task Force will consist of representatives from the Government, PSUs, industry and sectoral experts and submit report within 6 months of its constitution. The Headquarters of the Task Force will be at Ministry of Civil Aviation, New Delhi.

Science and Technology

  • Odilorhabins: It is new class of antibiotics, discovered by a team of scientists from the University of Illinois, Chicago (US). Odilorhabdins are produced by a symbiotic bacterium found in soil-dwelling nematode worms. Called Xenorhabdus nematophila, the bacterial symbiont produces toxins and immuno-modulators, enabling the nematode to colonize and kill insects. The bacteria further benefit the host nematode by releasing antibiotics that prevent the invasion of the insect?s carcass by other competing bacteria and fungi.
  • IRNSS-1I: It is a navigation satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 12 April. IRNSS is launched to create India's own navigation system which would be quite similar to the US' GPS or Global Positioning System. IRNSS can also provide ?accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary?. IRNSS-1I also carries two types of payloads for navigation and ranging. The navigation payload will transmit navigation service signals to the users, while the ranging payload consists of a C-band transponder, which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.
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Current Affairs April 16 to April 22

International Current News

  • Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has opened its first public movie theatre, after over 35 years of prohibition for religious reasons. According to an official release from information ministry, AMC Entertainment has been granted the first licence to operate cinemas, and the company is expected to open 40 cinemas across 15 Saudi cities over the next five years. A special screening of Marvel superhero film ?Black Panther? was held in Riyadh, which was attended by Saudi Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad along with Saudi royalty, celebrities and guest filmmakers. The first public screening will be held on April 20, the tickets for which went on sale on April 19. The gulf nation would be opening more cinema theatres, roughly 350 cinemas and 2,500 screens, by 2030. The development follows passing of a resolution on December 11, 2017 that lifted the decades-old ban on providing licenses to commercial movie theatres.

National Current News

  • UIDAI introduces new QR code: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a government agency that serves as the issuing authority for Aadhaar unique identification numbers (UIDs) and cards. The agency has been mandated by the government to develop, identify and set up the necessary infrastructure for issuing Aadhaar cards. The authority has added another layer of security to the user data as it has introduced a QR Code, which will contain sensitive details like name, address, photos and the date of birth. The code could be used for offline user verification without revealing the 12-digit Aadhaar number.

Sports Updates

  • BCCI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the national governing body for cricket in India. The board was formed in December 1928 as a society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. Recently, the Law Commission has recommended bringing the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the ambit of the RTI Act. According to report submitted to the law ministry, it said that an analysis of the functioning of BCCI also shows that the government does exercise control over its activities and functioning. BCCI, falling in line with the foreign policy of India, did not recognise a player from South Africa due to their practice of apartheid; and that the cricket matches between India and Pakistan in view of tense international relations were made subject to government approval. The foregoing positions BCCI as a limb of the state. It said though the BCCI is continued to be regarded as a "private body", owing to its "monopolistic character coupled with the public nature of its functions, it can still be termed as a 'public authority' and be brought within the purview of the RTI Act. It has been pointed out that BCCI has enjoyed tax exemptions of thousands of crores.
  • Commonwealth Games 2018: The Commonwealth Games are an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and has taken place every four years. The current event was held in Australia from 4thApril to 15th April. It was the fifth times Australia had hosted the Commonwealth games and it is the first time a major multi-sport event achieved gender equality by having an equal number of events for males and female athletes. More than 4,400 athletes from 71 Commonwealth Games Associations took part including Gambia where were readmitted as a Commonwealth Games Federation on 31st March 2018.
  • India bags third position in CWG 2018: The Indian contingent once again retained its third best ever medal haul at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. With 66 medals, India finished third behind leaders Australia and second-placed England, surpassing their own tally 64 medals at the Glasgow Games in 2014. India has won the maximum number of medals at shooting (16). Here is a list of Indian medal winners:
  • Gold winners (26) in CWG 2018: Saina Nehwal (Badminton), Vikas Krishan (Boxing - 75kg category), Manika Batra (Table tennis women's singles), Vinesh Phogat (women?s wrestling freestyle 50 kg Nordic event), Neeraj Chopra (Javelin), Gaurav Solanki (Boxing - 52kg), Sumit Malik (Wrestling - Men?s freestyle 125 kg), Sanjeev Rajput (50m Rifle 3 Position shooting event), M.C. Mary Kom (Boxing - 45-48 kg category), Bajrang Punia (Wrestling - freestyle 65kg), Tejaswini Sawant (50m rifle position event), Anish Bhanwala (Men's 25m rapid fire pistol), Sushil Kumar ( Wrestling - Men's freestyle 74kg wrestling) Rahul Aware (Wrestling - Men's Freestyle 57kg), Shreyasi Singh (Double trap women shooting), Heena Sidhu (25m pistol event), Jitu Rai (10m men?s air pistol), Manu Bhaker (10m women's air pistol), Punam Yadav (Weightlifting - Women's 69 kg category), Venkat Rahul Ragala (Weightlifting - Men's 85 kg category), Satish Kumar Sivalingam (Weightlifting - men's 85 kg category), Sanjita Chanu (men?s 77kg category), Mirabai Chanu (women's 48 kg category). Besides, the Indian mixed team badminton claimed gold for the first time in the Games' history. In the women's table tennis event, the Indian team won its first ever Commonwealth gold medal.

Defence

  • New committee on defence management: Government of India has decided to create a new committee, titled as Defence Planning Committee (DPC) for better defence management. The committee will be headed by NSA Ajit Doval. The body will prepare a draft national security strategy, develop a capability development plan, work on defence diplomacy issues and improving defence manufacturing in India. The DPC will have the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, three service chiefs, secretaries of the ministries of defence, expenditure and foreign affairs as its members. The Chief of Integrated Staff in the MoD will be the member secretary of DPC, and his headquarters will be the secretariat for the committee. DPC will draft reports on national security strategy, international defence engagement strategy, roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem, strategy to boost defence exports, and priority capability development plans. The DPC will submit its reports to the Defence Minister.

Economics:

  • Rs 500 notes shortage: Cash shortage has been reported from Andhara Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka, northern Bihar and certain other parts of the country, apparently on apprehensions about safety of deposits due to recent spurt in banking frauds. In an effort to deal with cash shortage in certain parts of the country, Reserve Bank will increase five-fold the printing of Rs 500 notes. Government suspects that Rs 2,000 notes are being hoarded as they are not coming back into the circulation fast enough. According to a government official, steps have been taken to increase the supply of currency in case demand goes up. The currency printing (will increase) from Rs 500 crore to Rs 2,500 crore per day of Rs 500 note. So in a month, we will be printing about Rs 70,000-Rs 75,000 crore. This should give you assurance that we are geared up to meet the rising demand.
  • Sovereign gold bonds: These bonds are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold. Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity. The government launched the first tranche of sovereign gold bonds for the current fiscal offering a 2.5 per cent annual interest to investors. The latest issuance of bonds is part of the government?s efforts to garner as much as Rs 5,000 crore from all the three gold schemes this fiscal ? the same as 2017-18 (Revised Estimate). Applications for the bond will be accepted from April 16 to April 20, the finance ministry said in a statement. Bonds will be issued to eligible applicants on May 4. Investors will get the interest payable semi-annually on the nominal value of investment.
  • Digital platform for MSME Exporters: Government has launched the FIEO GlobalLinker- a digital platform for MSME exporters to digitise their businesses and join a global community of growing businesses. FIEO GlobalLinker is setup with a view to make the business growth of SMEs simpler, more profitable and enjoyable. It is a growing global network currently comprising over 140,000 SME firms, who are seeking business collaboration and growth opportunities through the use of their electronic business card and digital profiles created on the platform. FIEO is available free of cost and it offers exporters a range of features and benefits like, business Opportunities where exporters will be able to find clients, suppliers and advisors using the search and review facilities, creating a free e-commerce store for direct sales and improved chain management. Up-to-date Business Knowledge through business articles, industry news and common interest groups. It also offers services like company intranet, integrating email, a business calendar.
  • Gas Trading hub: Gas Trading Hub is a platform or exchange where natural gas can be traded, and supplied through a market-based mechanism instead of multiple formula driven prices. The union government of India is planning to launch a natural gas trading hub by October, creating an Indian gas benchmark which will spark a surge in consumption of the cleaner-burning fuel. According to a tender floated for hiring, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has sought bids to hire a consultant to help develop a regulatory framework for operationalising the gas trading/exchange hub. PNGRB would visit USA, UK, and Australia, where the gas trading hub is successfully operating, to decide if there is a need to amend existing regulations. The target for launch of the gas trading hub has been set for October. A hub is used as a central pricing point for a network that could aid better price discovery for domestic as well as imported gas.

Science and Technology

  • Plastic eating enzyme: A group of international scientists have accidently developed a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks. The accidental break through could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new bacterium was found eating plastic at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research said, ?What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic. It means we won?t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment?.

Current Affairs April 23 to April 29

International Current News

  • New immigrant law in France:
  • France's National Assembly passed a controversial immigration law that has exposed various provisions regarding turn down economic migrants. It passed largely with the support of Mr Macron?s Republic On The Move (LREM) party with the approval of a vote of 228 in favour, 139 against and 24 abstentions after 61 hours of debate. The government had defended the bill as balanced but it has been criticised by right-wingers for being too soft and by left-wingers who see it as repressive. Opposition to the measure was found across the political spectrum with politicians of the right and left parties voting against it, as well as the far-right National Front. The lower-house of the French parliament was supposed to vote on the bill Friday but the fractious debate stretched into the weekend due to more than 1,000 amendments proposed by deputies. More than 200 of the changes were suggested by LREM members as Mr Macron?s own politicians openly challenged his plans to double the maximum time migrants can be held in detention to 90 days. Interior minister Gerard Collomb said it aims for ?better controlled? immigration, halving the waiting time for asylum applications to six months while also making it easier to deport those turned down as ?economic? migrants.

National Current News

  • Anudeep from Telangana is UPSC topper: Union Public Service Commission has released the final result of Civil Services Exam 2017. Hyderabad candidate Anudeep Durishetty topped the list. Anu Kumari secured the second rank, while Sachin Gupta occupied the third spot. Anudeep (Indian Revenue Services officer- 2013 batch), hailing from Metpally of Jagityal district, is the son of Durishetty Manohar, an additional assistant engineer, and Durishetty Jyothy, a homemaker. The family currently resides in Adarsh Nagar of Metpally. Anudeep is posted with the Customs and Central Excise. Anudeep was awarded the best officer trainee in the IRS batch during the weapons training programme at NISA Hyderabad. His interest lies in football and Artificial Intelligence. Haryana's Anu Kumari, a mother of a four-year-old, topped the coveted examination among women. Kumari had graduated with BSc (Hons) in Physics from the Delhi University, and then went on to complete an MBA (Finance and Marketing) degree from IMT, Nagpur.
  • Ordinance awarding death penalty for child rape: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Criminal Law Ordinance, 2018, which allows courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children below 12 years of age. The Ordinance was approved by the Cabinet .The Ordinance will now have to be ratified by both Houses of Parliament within six weeks, once they reconvene. The Ordinance recommends a minimum of 20 years? imprisonment or imprisonment for rest of life and the maximum of death for the rape of girls under 12. In case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, the minimum punishment will be imprisonment for the ?rest of life? and the maximum, death sentence. For the offence of rape, of those above 16, minimum punishment has been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, ?extendable to life imprisonment?. The proposed Ordinance also removes the provision for anticipatory bail for those of raping or gang raping a child under 16. It has also been provided that court has to give a notice of 15 days to the public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.
  • Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan: It is a scheme created for developing governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for restructured Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA). The Scheme will be implemented during the period from 01.04.2018 to 31.03.2022 at the total cost of Rs 7,255.50 crore with the Central Share of Rs 4,500 crore and that of State Share of Rs. 2755.50 crore as per details. This scheme will extend to all States and UTs of the country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist. The approved scheme of RGSA will help more than 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to develop governance capabilities to deliver on SDGs through inclusive local governance with focus on optimum utilisation of available resources.
  • e-Vidhan: It is a mission mode project to digitize and make the functioning of State Legislatures in India paperless. It is a part of the broader Digital India Programme of the Government and is likely to contribute to the cleanliness and environment by reducing the use of papers to a great extent. Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Statistics and Programme Implementation, Shri Vijay Goel inaugurated the new office of Central Project Monitoring Unit for the e-Vidhan project of the Government at the Parliament House Annexe. This was done as a part of Swachhata Pakhwada being observed by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs from 16thto 30th April, 2018. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is the Nodal Ministry for the project. It is taking all the necessary steps for rolling out the Project in all the States at an early date. One of the key component of the strategy devised for implementation of the project is to create Project Monitoring Units both at Central as well as State levels. Rejection of impeachment notice against CJI: Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu has rejected a notice by seven Opposition parties led by the Congress seeking the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. After consulting the legal experts, Venkaiah Naidu who is also the Rajya Sabha Chairman said the notice lacked ?substantial merit?. In his order, he said, ?I have considered each of the allegations individually as well as collectively in the light of annexures annexed to the notice to the motion but also in the light of cogent, relevant material available in the form of judicial orders passed by the apex court of the country. Based on all this, I have come to conclusion that this motion does not deserve to be admitted?.
  • AFSPA: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is a law that gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in ?disturbed areas?. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms. Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest. The Centre has announced that it revoked the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the state of Meghalaya from April 1.
  • New system for measuring air quality: India is joining hands with the United States and Finland to develop a pollution-forecast system that will help anticipate particulate matter (PM) levels at least two days in advance and at a greater resolution than what is possible now. According to Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the new system, to be jointly developed with expertise from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the U.S.? National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a different modelling approach as well as computational techniques from that employed in the SAFAR model. He added, SAFAR will continue to be the backbone [for pollution forecast] but this system, which will require our scientists to get special training, will use a different method of analysis. This could mean better resolution and more accurate forecasts.
  • Foreigners to be allowed to visit Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur: The Home Ministry has decided to relax the six-decade-old Protected Area Permit regime from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1. The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area. As per the new guidelines, a foreign national will be allowed to visit the states.
  • National Bamboo Mission: It is a centrally Sponsored Scheme under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture. The Mission would ensure holistic development of the bamboo sector by addressing complete value chain and establishing effective linkage of producers (farmers) with industry. The scheme will benefit directly and indirectly the farmers as well as local artisans and associated personnel engaged in bamboo sector including associated industries. Since it is proposed to bring about one lakh ha area under plantation, it is expected that about one lakh farmers would be directly benefitted in terms of plantation. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the scheme.
  • Atal New India Challenge : It is a programme under the Atal Innovation Mission to provide grants of up to Rs 1 crore to innovative products and solutions to address challenges in 17 different fields that have been named. The Atal New India Challenge will be run in collaboration with five Union Ministries, and will invite prospective innovators, MSMEs and start-ups to design market-ready products, using cutting edge technologies or prototypes across the 17 identified focus areas listed like, Climate-smart agriculture, Fog vision system for road and rail, Prevention of Rail failure using emerging technologies, Predictive maintenance of Rolling Stock, Alternate fuel based transportation, Smart Mobility, Electric Mobility, Safe transport, Instant Portable Water Quality Testing, Affordable Desalination / Recycling Technology, Waste management recycling / reuse, Garbage composition devices, Quality of compost, Decentralized composting, Mixing blades for composting, Waste in public spaces and Dissuading public littering. The grants will be awarded in up to 3 tranches within 12 - 18 months, contingent on achieving milestones. A total of 50 grants in fiscal year 2018 - 19 may be given out,

Art and Culture:

  • Geographical Indication (GI):
  • Geographical indication is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory. The iconic Adilabad Dokra, an ancient bell metal craft, and Warangal Dhurries, a popular cotton rug, have been accorded with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry of India.

Defence:

    India plans to gift obsolete weaponry: In an effort to boost defence cooperation, the union government has asked the armed forces to compile a list of obsolete military equipment that can be refurbished at minimal cost? and gifted to ?friendly countries. According to a government sources, in course of India?s engagement with many foreign countries, especially during various high-level visits, a number of friendly foreign countries have projected a requirement for second-hand military equipment for their armed forces on a gift basis. These requests have come from some countries of the Indian Ocean Region, some African countries, Central Asian Republics and the Asia-Pacific region.

Economics:

  • Remittance: A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to an individual in his or her home country. Money sent home by migrants competes with international aid as one of the largest financial inflows to developing countries. India has topped as the highest recipient of remittances globally in 2017, with its diaspora sending back $69 billion. According to an official statement from the World Bank, remittance inflows improved in all regions and the top remittance recipients were India with $69 billion, followed by China ($64 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico ($31 billion), Nigeria ($22 billion), and Egypt ($20 billion).
  • Chinese investment in India crossed USD 8 billion : Gao Feng, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said, By the end of 2017, Chinese investments into India added up to more than USD eight billion, as India has become an important market for infrastructure cooperation among Chinese companies and a major investment destination. Many experts have pointed out that India has been asking China to increase the investments to compensate for the huge trade deficit. While Chinese private firms like Alibaba and Xiaomi were stepping up investments to cash in on the vast Indian market, but the big investments from the state-owned firms were yet to flow into India, despite the high profile campaign by New Delhi. Last year, the bilateral trade between both the countries touched a historic high of USD 84.44 billion, and in the first quarter of this year, it witnessed a robust growth, netting USD 22.1 billion, up 15.4 per cent year-on-year.
  • LCU MK-IV ship: LCU MK-IV ship is an amphibious ship with a displacement of 830 Tons and is capable of transporting combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks Arjun, T72 and other Armoured Vehicles. The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and advanced systems such as the Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS). The indigenous CRN 91 Gun with Stabilised Optronic Pedestal provides the ship the requisite offensive capability for undertaking patrolling in addition. The ship was inducted into the Indian Navy at Port Blair.

Science and Technology

  • Smallest land fern discovered: A fern is a member of a group of vascular plants that reproduce via spores and have neither seeds nor flowers. They differ from mosses by being vascular, i.e., having specialized tissues that conduct water and nutrients, in having branched stems and in having life cycles in which the sporophyte is the dominant phase. A team of scientists from Surats Veer Narmad South Gujarat University has found worlds smallest land fern hiding in the Ahwa forests of the Western Ghats in Gujarat?s Dang district. The size of the new Malvi?s adder?s-tongue fern Ophioglossum malviae just one centimetre is probably the reason why it remained hidden all along, said researcher Mitesh Patel of the Department of Biosciences at Surat?s Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, who stumbled across the plant during a botanical expedition in 2016.
  • Giant mosquito discovered in China : A giant mosquito with a wingspan of more than 4 inches has been found in China. Zhao Li, curator of the Insect Museum of West China, discovered the insect last August in Qincheng Mountain, within the Sichuan province. The super-sized insect belongs to the Holorusa mikado species, the largest mosquito family in the world. With a 5 cm-long body (nearly 2 inches) and a wingspan of 11.15 cm (more than 4 inches), the mosquito is 10 times longer than an average mosquito. The insect is also a third longer than the average holorusia mikado species. But he wanted to take his time and confirm that it really was the largest mosquito in the world before revealing the staggering discovery. He said that these mosquitoes look horrendous, but do not feed on blood. The adults have a life span of only a few days and mainly feed on nectar.


Current Affairs - May 2018


Current Affairs April 30 to May 06, 2018

International Current News

  • India-Pakistan defense exercise: India and Pakistan will be taking part in first ever joint military exercise under Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It is the first time in the history India and Pakistan are set to take part in joint military drills. This will happen as part of the Peace Mission exercises to be held in Russia in September, along with a number of other partner countries. India's participation in the Peace Mission 2018 exercises was announced by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her speech to the 15th SCO Defence Ministers Meeting in Beijing. She however made no direct reference to Pakistan in her speech, either in regard to the exercises or to the continued support for terrorists. This will be the first time that the nuclear-armed South Asian nations will take part in exercises together. Both countries had become full members of the SCO last year. The drill will feature all SCO member states, including Russia and China.

National Current News

  • AIIMS: The All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are a group of autonomous public medical colleges of higher education. These institutes have been declared by an Act of Parliament as Institutes of National Importance. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a plan to set up 20 All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) across the country, six of which have already been established, and to upgrade 73 medical colleges.
  • Van Dhan Scheme : It is a scheme developed by government of India under the ministry of tribal affairs aimed at improving standard of life of tribals and increase their income through value addition. Under the scheme, 10 Self Help Groups of 30 Tribal gatherers is constituted. They are then trained and provided with working capital to add value to the products, which they collect from the jungle. Working under the leadership of Collector these groups can then market their products not only within the States but also outside the States. Training and technical support is provided by TRIFED. It is proposed to develop 30,000 such centres in the country. Besides, the establishment of ?Van Dhan Vikas Kendra? is done for offering skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility. This first model Van Dhan Vikas Kendra in Bijapur is being implemented for training of 300 training beneficiaries with a total outlay of Rs 43.38 lakhs for training, providing equipment and tool for primary level processing and infrastructure & building for housing the Kendra. This Kendra to start with will have processing facility for Tamarind brick making, Mahua flower storage facility and chironjee cleaning and packaging.
  • Gobar Dhan Yojana: It is a scheme that focuses on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, biogas and bio-CNG. The Gobar-Dhan Yojana will help in keeping the village clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders. The scheme also intends to provide a stable fuel supply in the market for oil companies and accessible credit in the market through government schemes and banks for entrepreneurs. Developing a pool of skilled manpower, the GOBAR-Dhan Yojana will effectively utilise agri-waste to produce clean fuel.
  • Pilot scheme for Procurement of Aggregate Power: It is a pilot scheme launched by government of India to procure aggregate Power of 2500 MW on competitive basis for 3 (three) years under medium term i.e. from generators with commissioned projects but without Power Purchase Agreement. The Ministry of Power had recently issued the model bid documents, model PAPP and PPSA on 6th April, 2018. The Guidelines for the said scheme were issued on 10th April, 2018. PFC Consulting Limited (A wholly owned subsidiary of PFC Ltd) has been appointed as Nodal Agency and PTC India Limited as the Aggregator. PTC India would sign three-year (mid-term) Agreement for Procurement of Power with successful bidders and Power Supply Agreement with the Discoms. Under the scheme a single entity can be allotted maximum capacity of 600 MW. The Scheme assures a minimum off-take of 55 per cent of contracted capacity. The Tariff will be fixed for three years without any escalation.
  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY): It is a Pension Scheme announced by the Government of India exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above. Scheme provides an assured return of 8% p.a. payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30% p.a. effective) for 10 years. Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase. The scheme is exempted from Service Tax/ GST. On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, Purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable. The Union Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the doubling of investment limit to Rs. 15 lakh, from the current level of Rs. 7.5 lakh. This will help senior citizens earn a pension of up to Rs. 10,000 per month
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) : It is an autonomous body that has emerged as the largest research and development organisation in India. It runs thirty-eight laboratories and thirty-nine field stations or extension centres throughout the nation. CSIR was awarded the National Intellectual Property (IP) Award 2018. The award was given under the category 'Top R&D Institution/Organisation for Patents and Commercialisation. CSIR Laboratories have been developing and providing technology focused at the unmet need and the cutting edge knowledge base and human resource on the other for socio-economic development in the country.
  • Saraswati Samman: It is an annual award for outstanding prose or poetry literary works in any 22 Indian language listed in Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India. Eminent Gujarati poet Sitanshu Yashaschandras?s poetry collection ?Vakhar? has been chosen for the Saraswati Samman for 2017. According to an official announcement from the K K Birla Foundation, the selection for the award is made by a high level Chayan Parishad (selection committee), presided over by former secretary general of Lok Sabha, Subhash C Kashyap.
  • National Digital Communications Policy (2018): It is a policy that seeks to unlock transformative power of digital communications networks to achieve the goal of digital empowerment and well-being of the people of India. It seeks to establish a ?National Broadband Mission ? Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan? to secure universal broadband access for implementation of broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and Public Private Partnerships -- BharatNet for providing 1Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps, GramNet for connecting all key rural development institutions with 10Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps, NagarNet for establishing one- million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas , JanWiFi for establishing two-million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas -- and implementing a ?Fibre First Initiative? to take fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters.
  • Green Revolution ? Krishonnati Yojana: It is an Umbrella scheme comprises of 11 Schemes/Missions. These schemes look to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic and scientific manner to increase the income of farmers by enhancing production, productivity and better returns on produce. The Schemes will be continued with an expenditure of Rs 33,269 crore for three financial years, i.e., 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20. These schemes include, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE), Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP), Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM) , Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ), Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics and Statistics (ISACES), Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC), Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) and National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A). The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Umbrella Scheme, Green Revolution ? Krishonnati Yojana in agriculture sector beyond 12th Five Year Plan for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 with the Central Share of Rs 33,269.

Current Affairs May 07 to May 12, 2018

International Current News

  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC): It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations charged with the maintenance of international peace and security around the world. India and Guatemala have agreed to support each other?s candidature for Non-Permanent Membership in the United Nations Security Council. While, Guatemala will support India?s candidature for UNSC membership for 2021-22 New Delhi will do so for 2031-32 for Guatemala. The final decision was taken after several rounds talks Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu held with the President, Vice President and Parliament Speaker of Guatemala in the capital Guatemala City on May 7, 2018. Kick starting India?s high level outreach to the Latin American countries.
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): It is an agreement between China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union (EU) and Iran. It was an interim deal, in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. United States President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States of America from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA deal with Iran. Iran accepted strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for an escape from the sanctions that grew up around its economy over a decade prior to the accord. Under the deal, Iran unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges, shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium and filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete.
  • Bangabandhu-1: It is the first Bangladeshi geostationary communications satellite. It was launched on May 11, 2018.The project is being implemented by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and was the first payload launched by a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. It is named after the founding father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is designed and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and its launch provider is SpaceX. The total cost of the satellite was projected to be 248 million US dollars.

National Current News

  • Digital India Internship Scheme: It is a scheme launched by Ministry of Electronics and IT. The scheme aims to provide youths an opportunity to secure first hand and practical work experience under the guidance of a mentor and students will be able to apply for the internship scheme online. The internship is likely to start from the next month and will be of two months? duration (extendable to three months). After completion of the internship and submission of report, students will be awarded with a certificate. Students with minimum 60 per cent marks in the last degree or certificate examination and students who are pursuing BE/ BTech (second/ third year) or integrated degree course/ dual degree (B.E/ B. Tech, M.E./ M. Tech) can apply for the programme.
  • Indian Pharmacopeia Commission (IPC): It is an Autonomous Institution of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. IPC is created to set standards of drugs in the country. Its basic function is to update regularly the standards of drugs commonly required for treatment of diseases prevailing in this region. Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) has approved modern, animal-free tests for drug manufacturers. It will spare animals from suffering due to drug experiments. Indian Pharmacopoeia provides guidelines on tests for drugs manufactured and marketed in India. It replaces Pyrogen test carried out on rabbits and abnormal toxicity test carried out on guinea pigs and mice with tests that can be done in test tubes. These guidelines will come into effect from July 1, 2018.
  • Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM): IBM was set up by the Government of India on 1st March, 1948 under the Ministry of Works, Mines and Power, primarily as an advisory body to help in formulation of policy and legal framework for mining sector and advising Central and State Governments on development and utilization of mineral resources. The role and responsibility of IBM have changed with emerging needs of the sector as facilitator and regulator of mining sector (other than coal, petroleum and atomic minerals). The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Restructuring of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) by upgradation, creation and abolition of certain posts of Joint Secretary-level and above. The total cadre strength of Indian Bureau of Mines has been maintained at the existing strength of 1477.
  • Adult couple can live together without marriage: In a historic judgement, Supreme Court said, that adult couple has a right to live together without marriage, the Supreme Court . The observations came while the apex court was hearing a plea filed by one Nandakumar against a Kerala High Court order annulling his marriage with Thushara on the ground that he had not attained the legal age of marriage. Thushara?s father moved court after the two got married in April 2017, accusing Nandakumar of kidnapping her. Under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 the groom has to be at least 21 years old and the bride 18. The High Court sent Thushara back to her father. But, the Supreme Court ruled that it was enough that the two were adults. ?Even if they were not competent to enter into wedlock, they have right to live together even outside wedlock,? Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said. ?It would not be out of place to mention that ?live-in relationship? is now recognised by the legislature itself which has found its place under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,? they added.
  • Indus Dolphins: The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is a subspecies of freshwater river dolphin currently only found in the Indus river of India and Pakistan. This dolphin was the first discovered side-swimming cetacean. The Punjab Government joined hands with the WWF and began the census of the Indus Dolphin found in the Indus River. The main objective of this census is to find out the exact population of this species of dolphins. After this, their protection program will be run. This is India's first organized Dolphin Census, which will be completed within a span of five years. Before that very few dolphins were marked. The Forest and Wildlife Conservation Department of Punjab Government and WWF-India will complete this work together. Under this, dolphin census will be made by creating two teams.
  • One Stop Centre (OSC): It is a centre created to facilitate integrated services for women affected with violence such as police assistance, medical aid, psycho-social counselling, legal aid/counselling, temporary stay for 5 days etc. such that aggrieved women can avail services under one roof and The OSCs are established in existing buildings and in new constructed buildings in a standard format. Ministry of Women and Child Development has approved 100 additional One Stop Centres have been approved in the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • National Nutrition Mission (Poshan Abhiyaan): It is programme established to achieve improvement in nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers in a time bound manner during the next three years beginning 2017-18. The government has signed a loan deal worth $200 million (Rs 1,344 crore) with the World Bank for the National Nutrition Mission (Poshan Abhiyaan). A large component of Poshan Abhiyaan involves gradual scaling-up of the interventions supported by the ongoing World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems.
  • Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL): Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students (Class 6th to Class 12th) learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, IoT and sensors etc. Aiming to encourage innovation among students, the NITI Aayog will set up 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by March 2019.

Science and Technology

  • Hidden reserves of water found in Moon: Scientists have found a mineral in a lunar meteorite pointing to the presence of abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the Moon. A team from the Tohoku University in Japan found the mineral, called moganite, in a lunar meteorite discovered in a desert in northwest Africa. Moganite, a crystal of silicon dioxide, is known to form on Earth in specific circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids. It has never before been detected in samples of lunar rock. Researchers believe the mineral formed on the surface of the Moon in the area called Procellarum Terrane, as water originally present in lunar dirt evaporated due to exposure to strong sunlight."For the first time, we can prove that there is water ice in the lunar material," said Masahiro Kayama from Tohoku University, who led the study.
  • Atomic clock: It is a clock device that uses an electron transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has developed an atomic clock to be used in navigation satellites to measure the precise location data. This clock is currently undergoing a series of qualification tests. Once it successfully clears all tests, the desi atomic clock will be used in an experimental navigation satellite to test its accuracy and durability in space.

Environment

  • Green licence plates: The government has approved green licence plates bearing numbers in white fonts for private e-vehicles and yellow for taxis. The purpose behind distinctive number plates is their easy identification for preferential treatment in parking, free entry in congested zones besides other proposed benefits like concessional toll. A notification in this regard will be out in a week?s time, said the Minister, who has been advocating electric mobility promotion.

Current Affairs May 14 to May 20, 2018

International Current News

  • World Health Organization (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first 'essential diagnostics list', a catalogue of tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases. The step was taken to address the problem of people's inability to access diagnostic services, thus failing to receive the correct treatment.

National Current News

  • Micro Irrigation Fund: It is a fund created to supplement the efforts of Per Drop More Crop Component (PDMC) of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana in an effective and timely manner. It helps facilitate states to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC toachieve the annual target of about 2 Million ha/year during the remaining period of 14thFinance Commission under Per Drop More Crop Component of PMKSY as recommended by the Group of Secretaries.
  • National Agriculture Market (eNAM) : It is an online trading platform developed for agricultural commodities in India. The market also facilitates farmers, traders and buyers with online trading in commodities. The market helps better price discovery and provide facilities for smooth marketing of their produce. Aiming to encourage inter-mandi transactions, the government will link additional 200 wholesale mandis to the online trading platform called eNAM (electronic National Agriculture Market) this fiscal year.
  • Green Skill Development Programme: It is an initiative for skill development in the environment and forest sector to enable youth to get gainful employment and/or self-employment. The programme endeavours to develop green skilled workers having technical knowledge and commitment to sustainable development. It will help in the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs), as well as Waste Management Rules (2016). GSDP aims to get 80,000 people imparted green skills and in filling the skill gaps in the environment sector. The number of people to be employed under GSDP will be increased to cover 2.25 lakh people next year and to about 5 lakh people by the year 2021.
  • Cabinet Reshuffle:
    The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed the following reallocation of portfolios amongst the members of the Union Council of Ministers:
    1. During the period of the indisposition of Arun Jaitley, the portfolios of Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs held by him, be temporarily assigned to Piyush Goyal, in addition to his existing portfolios.
    2. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is assigned the independent charge as Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in place of Smriti Zubin Irani, presently Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
    3. SS Ahluwalia, Minister of State be relieved of the charge of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and assigned the portfolio of Ministry of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
    4. Alphons Kannanthanam, Minister of State relieved of the charge of Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA): It is a legal body formed under the authority of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987. Its purpose is to provide free legal services to eligible candidates and to organize Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of cases. The prime objective of NALSA is speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in consultation with the Centre has drawn up a relief policy offering minimum amount of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively. NALSA?s comprehensive scheme sets out the minimum amount as relief for gang rape and rape cases. The compensation scheme for women victims/survivors of sexual assault/other crimes has been prepared on an order of the apex court that sought ?model rules? to provide succour to women victims and their family members, particularly the poor and residents of rural areas lacking resources to fight legal battles. As per the scheme, a minimum Rs 5 lakh is to be paid in case of loss of life or gang rape of a victim and maximum has been fixed at Rs 10 lakh. A minimum amount of Rs 4 lakh is to be paid in case of rape or unnatural sexual assault.
  • Woman can file complaint against former husband for cruelty even after divorce:
    Supreme Court has declared that a woman can lodge a complaint under the domestic violence law against the excesses committed by her ex-husband even after the dissolution of marriage. The Supreme court has refused to interfere with the order of the Rajasthan high court which held that the absence of subsisting domestic relationship in no manner prevents a court from granting relief to the aggrieved woman. The high court had passed the order while adjudicating a matrimonial dispute. A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi, R Banumathi and Navin Sinha dismissed the appeal against the high court verdict, saying it was not inclined to interfere with the order in the facts of the case. During the hearing, advocate Dushyant Parashar, appearing for the estranged husband, said that the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which came into force on October 26, 2006, could not be applied retrospectively. He submitted that if the provisions of the domestic violence law were allowed to be used retrospectively, then it would be subjected to gross misuse. Parashar contended that husband-wife relationship often ends on an acrimonious note and if the provisions of the act were allowed to be used retrospectively, then it would further increase the acrimony and rule out the possibility of any compromise. He said that legislature's purposive interpretation has to be kept in mind while interpreting any provisions of the law.

Science and Technology

  • New frog species: Scientists from Karnataka have found a new frog species in a small industrial region in coastal Karnataka. The new frog named as Microhyla kodial after the city of Mangaluru (called kodial in the Konkani language) from where they spotted it two years ago. The frog is found only in a small industrial region here ? a former timber dumping yard ? surrounded by seaport, petrochemical, chemical and refinery industries. The yard is bounded by the rail line of the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited on one side and the busy National Highway 66 on another.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have reported progress in the development of an environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft. The effort is to replace the conventional hydrazine rocket fuel, a highly toxic and carcinogenic chemical, with a greener propellant for future missions. Initial tests by a research team at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) have shown promising results in the formulation and associated tests of a propellant blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN).
  • National Wind Solar Hybrid Policy (2018): It is a new policy announced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to promote to promote new hybrid projects as well as hybridisation of existing wind/solar projects. The objective of the policy is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid system for efficient utilization of transmission infrastructure and land. It also aims at reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability. The Policy provides for procurement of power from a hybrid project on tariff based transparent bidding process for which Government entities may invite bids.
  • National Policy on Biofuels (2018): It is a new policy approved by Union Cabinet, which aims to seek farmers dispose of their surplus stock and reduce India?s oil-import dependence. The Policy categorises biofuels as ?Basic Biofuels?. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and ?Advanced Biofuels? - Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category. The policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation: It is a health created for the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) at Bhopal. The estimated cumulative cost of the project is Rs 179.54 crore in first three years. This includes non-recurring expenditure of Rs 128.54 crore and recurring expenditure of Rs 51 crore.

Economics:

  • India dedicated Investment Fund: A state-run Chinese bank has launched the country?s first India-dedicated publicly offered investment fund. It is China?s first publicly offered fund for investing in India. The fund named the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Credit Suisse India Market Fund, will invest in exchange-traded funds listed on more than 20 exchanges in Europe and the US that are based on the Indian market. The fund will invest in the future of the Indian economy and track the distribution of the industrial structure across the Indian market.

Current Affairs May 21 to May 27, 2018

International Current News

  • 10 year residency visa: It is a unique scheme announced by UAE to retain international investors and exceptional talents including professionals and students. The system will grant investors and talents up to 10-year residency visas for specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators. Five-year residency visas will be for students studying in the UAE, and 10-year visas for exceptional students. The new decision will also review the current residency system to extend the residency time for the dependent students after completing their university studies. This will give them the opportunity to study their practical options in the future.
  • Nepal: Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia located mainly in the Himalayas. Nepal has become the first country in south-east Asia to eliminate trachoma, world's leading cause of preventable blindness of infectious origin. The Nepal government, through the ministry of water supply and sanitation, provided incentives to local communities and districts to build and maintain latrines, measures that were crucial to improve sanitation and reduce the disease carrying flies. The national trachoma programme in that country also collaborated with the ministry of education to include a module on trachoma in the school curriculum.
  • Samagra Shiksha : It is a program that unifies learning from the pre-school to class 12 levels and encapsulates elements of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamk Shiksha Abhiyan and teacher education. The objectives of the scheme include, provision of quality education, enhancing learning outcomes of students, bridging social and gender gaps in school education, and promoting vocationalisation of education. It is also includes, strengthening teacher education institutions like SCERTs and Diets to improve quality of teachers. Annual grant of Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 per school for strengthening of libraries. The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan aims to treat education holistically as a continuum from pre-school to class 12. It is evidence of the govt's commitment to provide quality education to equip all children with varied skills and knowledge essential for their development.
  • United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF ): It is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. UNICEF today launched a data visualisation app to offer user-friendly visual representation of complex analytics of the education scenario in India. The app has been made with technical inputs from the UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA) and the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). It uses the UDISE (Unified District Information System for Education), the NAS (National Assessment survey) and demographic data and can be used as a visual tool by policy makers, senior government officials, academia, and researchers to address gaps and monitor programmes in the field of education.

National Current News

  • IP NANI: It is a mascot for intellectual property (IP). It is visual represented by a tech-savvy grandmother who helps the government and enforcement agencies in combating IP crimes with the help of her grandson Chhotu aka Aditya. The IP mascot will spread awareness about the importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) among people, especially children, in an interesting manner.
  • Zojila tunnel: It is the longest tunnel in Asia. The 14.2km long tunnel will be built at a cost of Rs 6,809 crore. The tunnel, which will come up at an altitude of 3,528 metres high Zojila pass, is expected to bring down the travel time from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. The tunnel will serve as a lifeline for the people of Kargil and Leh. The normal life in both the towns comes to a standstill during winters as all the necessary goods and medicines are flown in via aircrafts. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone to kick-start the work on Asia's longest bi-directional tunnel.
  • Model Code of Conduct Violation Reporting App: It is a new mobile application, which will be launched by Election Commission of India (ECI). The application, part of the steps taken by the Commission to prevent abuse of money and muscle power, allows for sharing of photos and short audio and video clips from the spot itself. The mobile application was already made available for the first time in Bengaluru in the run-up to the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly polls. As part of the implementation, the application will also be made operational in the coming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
  • Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2018: It is an act which aims to integrate farmers with bulk purchasers including exporters, agro- industries etc. for better price realization through mitigation of market and price risks to the farmers and ensuring smooth agro raw material supply to the agro industries. The Act lays special emphasis on protecting the interests of the farmers, considering them as weaker of the two parties entering into a contract. In addition to contract farming, services contracts all along the value chain including pre-production, production and post-production have been included. Registering and Agreement Recording Committee? or an ?Officer? for the purpose at district/block/ taluka level for online registration of sponsor and recording of agreement provided. Contracted produce is to be covered under crop / livestock insurance in operation.
  • Univesity Grants Commission (UGC): It is a statutory body created by Indian government under Ministry of Human Resource Development and is charged with co-ordination, determination and maintenance of standard of higher education. It has approved graduate, post graduate and diploma programmes online. Besides, the top educational body is set to approve draft regulations for the online delivery of such programmes offered by universities and higher educational institutions from this academic session.

Science and Technology

  • Akademik Lomonosov: It is the world's first floating nuclear power station. Constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom, the 144 by 30 metre (472 by 98 foot) ship holds two reactors with two 35 megawatt nuclear reactors that are similar to those used to power icebreaker ships. The 21,000-tonne barge will be towed in the summer of 2019 to the port of Pevek in the autonomous Chukotka region in Russia's extreme northeast, 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The barge can produce enough electricity to power a town of 2,00,000 residents, far more than the 5,000 who live in Pevek, Russia's northernmost town. It will be primarily used to power oil rigs as Russia pushes further north into the Arctic to drill for oil and gas and needs electricity in far-flung locations.
  • Nipah Virus: Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. This virus was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. At that time, it was primarily caused in pigs and through them got transferred to humans. Nipah Virus infected as many as 265 people then, out of which 40 per cent were taken under intensive care due to the infection having spread severely. As quoted by the WHO, the natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. Therefore, do not ignore any such signs.

Economics:

  • Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve: It is an emergency fuel store of total 5 MMT (million metric tons) or 36.92 MMbbl of strategic crude oil enough to provide 10 days of consumption which are maintained by the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited. India has received the first cargo of crude oil for filling up one of the two Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) caverns built by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) at Mangalore this week. According to an official sources, the Indian government under phase I of SPR programme has built crude oil storage facilities with total capacity of 5.33 million tonnes (around 39 million barrels) at three locations (Vishakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur). Vishakhapatnam storage has a capacity of 1.33 million tonnes (around 9.77 million barrels) of crude oil, Mangalore has a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes (around 11 million barrels) and Padur can stock 2.5 million tonnes (18.37 million barrels).

Defence:

  • BrahMos: It is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace. Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully fired from a test range along the Odisha coast to validate some new features including ?life extension? technologies developed for the first time by DRDO and team BrahMos.
  • Bastariya Battalion: It is a new battalion raised by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to fight Naxals in Bastar (Chattisgarh). The special unit has been numbered as 241 and has all the candidates are selected from four highly Naxal infested district in Chhattisgarh, i.e Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Sukma. It has decided to include local representation in a special unit. Comprising of 739 local tribal youths, the Bastariya Battalion, will be commissioned on May 21. One of the unique characters of this 241 Bastariya Battalion is that the representation of 33 percent female candidates has been maintaining as per policy of the government

Sports:

  • Sports University in Manipur: The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to set up the country's first national sports university in Manipur. Speaking on the development, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said a bill to set up the university in Imphal (west) is already pending in parliament. Things will start moving fast once the president signs the ordinance. The Manipur government has already allocated land for the proposed university. The ordinance will be on the lines of the bill introduced in Lok Sabha in August, 2017. The proposed university is expected to bridge the gap existing in the sports environment of the country in various areas such as sports science, sports technology, high performance training. The proposal to set up the national sports university in Manipur was initially announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Rs. 100 crore funds for it were allocated in the 2014-15 budget.

International Current News

  • Ireland removes abortion ban: Ireland voted to end the abortion ban. Voters voted to liberalise the highly restrictive abortion laws by two-to-one, thus, allowing the government to bring in the new legislation by the end of the year. In 1995, a public vote was conducted resulting in the legalization of divorce. Later Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote; and a year after Leo Varadkar, a gay politician and son of an Indian immigrant, became Prime Minister. Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union. Malta, a country that bans the abortion under all circumstances, is the only member of the union with tighter legislation.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948 and is currently headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. It has adopted a Digital health resolution initiated by India and was unanimously adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva. India received widespread praise for its leadership on this forward-looking agenda. The resolution paves the path for WHO to establish a global strategy on digital health identifying priority areas including where WHO should focus its efforts and engages member states to optimize their health systems in sync with the global digital health agenda.
  • India and Indonesia: India and Indonesia have signed 15 new agreements. The agreements include cooperation in the field of defence, space, science and technology, railways and health. Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Jakarta last night on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia. The two leaders discussed areas of strategic cooperation, ways towards ensuring better economic ties, closer cultural relations as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

National Current News

  • Patratu Super Thermal Power Project: It is one of the largest thermal power project setup in India. The project is a 74: 26 joint venture between Government of Jharkhand (GoJ) and Patratu Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd. (PVUN), which is a subsidiary company of NTPC. The NTPC's PVUNL is set to develop the project in two phases: 2,400 MW (3x800MW) in Phase-I and 1,600 MW (2x800 MW) in Phase-II, which will be developed later. This project will allocate 85 per cent of the power to Jharkhand that will benefit the state in the long run and help in the economic growth of the region. Under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) scheme, this project will ensure providing 24x7 power availability to households.
  • NASSCOM: The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is a trade association of Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. It was established in 1988, NASSCOM is a non-profit organisation. NASSCOM has established one more Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza (SIDCOP) platform in Dalian, China. The primary aim is to offer market access to Indian IT firms in the hugely potential Chinese market.
  • Cochin International Airport: It is an international airport serving the city of Kochi in Kerala. It is also the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international traffic and seventh busiest overall terms. In fiscal year 2017-18, the airport handled around 10.2 million passengers with a total of 68,898 aircraft movements. The United Nations Environment Programme has recognized Cochin International Airport (CIAL) as the world's first fully solar energy-powered airport. United Nations Environment chief Eirk Solheim said that a placard be kept at the airport showing the UNEP's endorsement of CIAL as the world's first solar-powered airport. Eastern Peripheral Expressway: It is known as Kundli-Ghaziabad- Palwal (KGP) Expressway (135 km). It is the country's first highway to be lit by solar power making it as the first smart and green highway. At every 500 metres, as there are eight solar power plants on this Expressway, with a capacity of 4000 KW (4 megawatt) for lighting of the underpasses and running solar pumps for watering plants and also having arrangement for rainwater harvesting on both sides at every 500 meters and there is drip irrigation for plants all along the expressway.
  • PRAAPTI app: It is an app launched by power ministry. It aims to bring transparency to power sector during invoicing of generators. It will also contain all details related to the payment. The app will enable the citizens to monitor the payments that are being made to power generation companies. The app will also allow its users to know the details related to the payments made by the discoms to the power generation company and when it was made. They will also be able to see the details related to delays, if any, and check the number of reminders that was sent by the generation company and its impact on generation companies. PRAAPTI will also enable the consumers to know the performance of their discoms in terms of payments that are being made to the generation companies. Later, the performance of the discoms will be ratified on the basis of payments that were made. The app will allow people to know the tariffs at which the power was procured by the discom.
  • IRCTC: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways. has now launched beta version of its new User Interface. The new link has more user friendly features for easier navigation. Some of the salient features of the New User Interface include, enquire / search trains and check availability of seats without login, Change font size throughout the website for comfortable viewing experience. The new look and feel will have enhanced class-wise, train-wise, destination-wise, departure/arrival time wise and quota-wise filters for facilitating customer while planning their journeys. Single screen information about the train including the train no, train name, originating and destination station and distances between them, arrival and departure time and journey time has now been arranged. In addition, more features such as new filters on ?My Transactions? where user can also view their booked tickets based on Journey Date, Booking Date, Upcoming Journey and completed journey.
  • Facebook: Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. It has partnered with National Commission for Women (NCW) to launch a digital literacy programme in collaboration with the Cyber Peace Foundation (CPF). The move was a part of the digital literacy programme pilot, awareness training will be conducted for 60,000 women in universities across major cities in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu over a one-year period.
  • Andhra Pradesh state symbols:
    State tree: Neem is the state tree.
    State animal: Black buck.
    State bird: Rose-ringed parakeet
    State flower: Jasmine

Science and Technology

  • Magnetic properties of Ruthenium: Researchers from the University of Minnesota have discovered the chemical element ruthenium (Ru). According to the reports from the researchers, the fourth single element to have unique magnetic properties at room temperature. The discovery could be used to improve sensors, devices in the computer memory and logic industry, or other devices using magnetic materials. The use of ferromagnetism, or the basic mechanism by which certain materials (such as iron) form permanent magnets or are attracted to magnets, reaches back as far as ancient times when lodestone was used for navigation. Since then only three elements on the periodic table have been found to be ferromagnetic at room temperature -- iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), and nickel (Ni). The rare earth element gadolinium (Gd) nearly misses by only 8 degrees Celsius.
  • Antarctica: It is the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole, is a virtually uninhabited, ice-covered landmass. Most cruises to the continent visit the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward South America. Researchers have discovered mountain ranges and three huge, deep subglacial valleys hidden beneath the Antarctica ice. These formations were found after extensive ice penetrating radar data collected in Antarctica as part of the European Space Agency PolarGAP project. The team, led by researchers from Northumbria University in the UK, has mapped for the first time three vast, subglacial valleys in West Antarctica. These valleys could be important in future as they help to channel the flow of ice from the centre of the continent towards the coast. The largest valley, known as the Foundation Trough, is more than 350 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide. Its length is equivalent to the distance from London to Manchester, while its width amounts to more than one and a half times the length of New York?s Manhattan Island. The two other troughs are equally vast. The Patuxent Trough is more than 300 kilometres long and over 15 kilometres wide, while the Offset Rift Basin is 150 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide.
  • Cornea: The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. Thecornea, with the anterior chamber and lens, refracts light, with the cornea accounting for approximately two-thirds of the eye's total optical power. Scientists at Newcastle University have created the new 3D printed human cornea. Using a simple low-cost 3D bio-printer, the bio-ink was successfully extruded in concentric circles to form the shape of a human cornea. It took less than 10 minutes to print. It means the technique could be used in the future to ensure an unlimited supply of corneas. As the outermost layer of the human eye, the cornea has an important role in focusing vision.


Current Affairs - June 2018


Current Affairs June 04 to June 10

International Current News

  • Burqa ban: Denmark has banned burqa and niqab and banned the wearing of face veils in public. Under the new law, police and other law enforcement authorities can demand women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen has said that officers would in practice fine them and ask them ?to go home?. Fines would range from 1,000 Danish crowns ($160) for a first offence to 10,000 crowns for a fourth violation. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.

National Current News

  • National Sports University Ordinance, 2018: It is a bill which seeks to establish National Sports University will be established with its headquarters at Manipur. It is a specialized University, first of its kind, to promote sports education in the areas of sports sciences, sports technology, sports management and sports coaching besides functioning as the national training centre for select sports disciplines by adopting the best international practices. Atal Bhujal Yojana: It is a central sector scheme of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The scheme is to be implemented over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23, with World Bank assistance. The scheme proposal has already been recommended by the Expenditure Finance Committee and the Ministry will be seeking Cabinet approval for the project shortly. Atal Bhujal Yojana has been formulated by the Ministry to address the criticality of ground water resources in a major part of the country. The scheme aims to improve ground water management in priority areas in the country through community participation. The priority areas identified under the scheme fall in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Election Commission of India (ECI): Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India. ECI has launched its online RTI portal. This helps applicants seeking information under Right to Information Act. The portal can be accessed by general public on the Home Page of the Commission?s website `eci.nic.in? by clicking on `Online RTI?. There is also online payment gateway for making payment of requisite fees under the RTI Act. The portal also facilitates online reply to applications and also for making first appeal and reply thereto. There will be timely notification alerts to RTI applicant via SMS and E-Mail. Applicants seeking information from the Commission under the RTI Act can make use of the online portal. The offline mode of applications will also simultaneously continue.
  • Bailout package for sugar industry: , the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared a ₹7,000 crore bailout package for the cash-starved sugar industry, which includes the creation of a 3-million-tonne sugar stockpile and subsidised loans for the enhancement of the country?s ethanol production capacity. The Committee also decided to fix the minimum selling price of white/refined sugar at ₹29 per kg and provide an interest subvention of ₹1,332 crore on loans availed by sugar mills to enhance ethanol production, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here. The soft loans, for which ₹4,440 crore has been set aside, would be for five years, with a moratorium of one year. The buffer stock of 3 mt sugar for a year would cost ₹1,175 crore to the exchequer. The government will reimburse this sum on a quarterly basis directly to farmers not to the mills to be adjusted against their cane dues, he said.
  • Auto disable syringe: It is a syringe that cannot be reused. They incorporate a mechanism to break or lock the plunger when the injection is given to make the syringe inoperable for being used for second time. Andhra Pradesh plans to use auto disable syringes for clinical purposes from World Hepatitis Day on July 28 to prevent infection. It also noted that Immunisation injections however account for only 10-15 per cent of all injections. Bulk of the injections are used for clinical therapeutic use.

Economics:

  • Public Credit Registry (PCR): It is a new repository of information regarding loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers, which will be setup by Reserve Bank of India. This decision was followed by a report by Yeshwant M Deosthalee headed High Level Task Force, RBI said it has considered the recommendations and decided to set up a PCR in a modular and phased manner. An Implementation Task Force (ITF) is being constituted to help design and undertake logistics for the next steps in setting up of the PCR, it said after the second bi-monthly monetary policy review of 2018-19.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. RBI decided to allow voluntary transition of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCB)s meeting the prescribed criteria into Small Finance Banks (SFB)s. UCBs had been facing financial trouble till a few years ago, prompting the RBI to stop issuing fresh licences. But their performance has improved recently while their numbers have come down due to mergers and closures. UCBs currently face regulation by both the RBI and the respective State governments. By turning into SFBs, they will be regulated only by the RBI

Defence

  • Agni 5 : It is an indigenously developed nuclear capable long range ballistic missile with a strike range of 5,000 km. The missile was launched from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. The surface-to-surface missile was launched with the help of a mobile launcher from launch pad number 4 of the Integrated Test Range at Dr Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island, in the Bay of Bengal at 9:48 am. This was the sixth trial of the state-of-the-art Agni-5 ballistic missile. Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) C-439: It is the new Coast Guard ship commissioned by Indian Coast Guard. The ICGS C-439 is 27.4 metres long with a displacement of 136 tonnes. It can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots. This boat has full aluminium-alloy hull for reduced weight and is powered by twin water-jet propulsion systems to enable quick response. It is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment and medium-range armament. The vessel's crew consists of one officer and eleven personnel, who are designed to perform coastal surveillance, search and rescue, anti-smuggling and anti-poaching operations in close coast low-intensity maritime operations.
  • Operation Nistar: It is a rescue mission carried out by Indian Navy, to bring back 38 Indian Fishermen stranded in the Scotra Island (Yemen). a severe cyclonic storm named ?Mekenu? crossed the Yemeni Island of Socotra, leaving 38 Indians stranded on the island with the limited food and water. Also, three Indian dhows at Socotra suffered damages/ sank alongside in the harbour and another Dhow, MSV Safina Al Khijar with 12 Indians onboard were reported to be missing. However, after receiving a distress call from the DG shipping and the Indian Sailing Vessels Association, the Indian Navy launched a high voltage rescue operation to rescue stranded Indians. Based on this information, the Indian Navy immediately deployed INS Sunayna in Western Arabian Sea for the humanitarian and disaster relief operation.
  • Queen Pineapple: Queen Pineapple has been declared as the state fruit of Tripura. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind declared Tripura's queen variety pineapple as state fruit. Speaking at a meeting, Kovind said, ?The state holds good potential in world trade. Export of the pineapple to foreign countries is a major step in connecting with world trade?.

Current Affairs June 11 to June 17

International Current News

  • India and Norway:
    India and Norway have signed MoU to extend health cooperation would extend from 2018 to 2020. This cooperation between India and Norway is aligned with the development goals of Government of India as outlined in its National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The cooperation shall also focus on global health issues of common interest. The deal will include maternal, new-born, child health. The cooperation will continue to focus on innovative, catalytic and strategic support, and stride in taking the Indian Government?s Intensification Plan for Accelerated Maternal and Child Survival in India.
  • US-Korea Historic Summit:
    US President Donald Trump and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un signed a "very comprehensive" document after their historic summit. The US president said that the process of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula will begin ?very soon? and the North Korean leader promised to leave the past behind. Speaking to the media persons, US President Donald Trump said, ?We're signing a very comprehensive document, and we've had a really great time together, a great relationship. We're starting that process (denuclearisation)... very quickly. We'll meet again, we'll meet many times. Kim is a very talented man who loves his country very much?.

National Current News

  • Swachh Bharat Mission: The Swachh Bharat Mission is the first sanitation programme in the country to measure outcomes (ODF) instead of output (toilets) alone. The SBM's emphasis on behavior change in rural sanitation at the grassroots also leads to rigorous verification and sustainability of the benefits accrued to rural communities under the progress made. A recent survey conducted by an Independent Verification Agency across 90,000 households in over 6000 villages has found the usage of toilets in rural India to be 93.4%. Two independent surveys conducted in the past by the Quality Council of India in 2017, and National Sample Survey Organization in 2016, have pegged the usage of these toilets at 91% and 95% respectively. This success has been achieved due to the difference in approach to sanitation adopted by the Swachh Bharat Mission in comparison to previous sanitation programmes in the country.
  • Swacch Iconic Places (SIP): SIP is a collaborative project with three other central Ministries, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Culture, and Ministry of Tourism. It also involves local administrations in the concerned States and Public Sector and Private Companies as sponsoring partners. It aims to improve the discipline and cleanliness in iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places. Government has launches ten new Swachh Iconic places under Swacch Bharat Mission. Ten new iconic sites under Phase III are RaghavendraSwamy Temple (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh); Hazardwari Palace (Murshidabad, West Bengal); Brahma Sarovar Temple (Kurukshetra, Haryana); VidurKuti (Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh); Mana village (Chamoli, Uttarakhand); Pangong Lake (Leh-Ladakh, J&K); Nagvasuki Temple (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh); ImaKeithal/market (Imphal, Manipur); Sabarimala Temple (Kerala); and Kanvashram (Uttarakhand).
  • Lithium ion battery : It is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI)and RAASI Solar Power Pvt Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Agreement for transfer of technology for India?s first Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Battery project. A group at CSIR-CECRI headed by Dr Gopu Kumar has developed an indigenous technology of Lithium-ion cells in partnership with CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) New Delhi, CSIR- Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CSIR-CGCRI) Kolkata and Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT) Hyderabad. CSIR-CECRI has set up a demo facility in Chennai to manufacture prototype Lithium-Ion cells. It has secured global IPRs with potential to enable cost reduction, coupled with appropriate supply chain and manufacturing technology for mass production. Currently, Indian manufacturers source Lithium Ion Battery from China, Japan and South Korea among some other countries. India is one of the largest importers and in 2017, it imported nearly 150 Million US Dollar worth Li-Ion batteries.
  • Police museum: The central government has decided to establish a police museum in Lutyens' Delhi. The museum - depicting the history, artefacts, uniforms and gear of central and state police forces - will come up as an underground facility in the premises of the national police memorial in Chanakyapuri area of the national capital. The museum is expected to be inaugurated on October 21 (Police Commemoration Day) at the hands of either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
  • WiFi Choupals: It is an ambitious initiative aimed at providing seamless Internet connectivity in rural panchayats. Department of Telecom under Ministry of Telecommunication, has launched 5,000 WiFi choupals in partnership with with CSC which will provide 60,000 WiFi hotspots in rural areas. Under the agreement signed between IRCTC and CSC e-Governance, all 2.9 lakh common service centres (CSC) will be able to book both reserved and unreserved train tickets. The move will help all 2.9 lakh CSCs will be connected with technology for railway ticket booking. Around 40,000 CSCs are providing this service, and IRCTC should accelerate and make sure that in the next 8-9 month every CSCs should have this facility.
  • Rail Madad App: It is a mobile app launched by Ministry of Railways. Salient features of Rail Madad application include, Rail MADAD (Mobile Application for Desired Assistance During travel) registers a complaint with minimum inputs from passenger(option of photo also available), issues unique ID instantly and relays the complaint online to relevant field officials for immediate action. The action taken on complaint is also relayed to passenger through SMS, thus fast tracking the entire process of redressal of complaints through digitisation. Rail MADAD also displays various helpline numbers (e.g., Security, Child helpline etc) and provides direct calling facility for immediate assistance in one easy step.
  • Atal Tinkering Lab : It is a dedicated work space where students (Class 6th to Class 12th) learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. The labs are powered to acquaint students with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, IoT & sensors etc. NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has selected 3,000 additional schools for the establishment of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) bringing the total number of ATL schools to 5,441.
  • Solar Charkha Mission: It is an initiative to promote employment to poverty-saddled citizens living in rural and semi-urban areas of this country. Solar Charkha Mission of the Ministry of Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) will be launched by the President, Ram Nath Kovind and will cover 50 clusters and every cluster will employ 400 to 2000 artisans. The Mission has been approved by the Government of India and will disburse subsidy of Rs. 550 crore to the artisans.
  • NITI Aayog: NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is a national institution established to replace the Planning Commission. The aim of NITI Aayog is to encourage involvement and participation in the economic policy-making process. NITI Aayog has come up with the Composite Water Management Index. The index can be utilised to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources. It has been finalized after an elaborate exercise including seeking feedback from the States and consultation with reputed experts. The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

Economics:

  • Credit Enhancement Fund: It is a new fund dedicated to raise investments in operational and stabilised infrastructure projects. The dedicated fund will be set up as a non-banking finance company (NBFC) with IIFCL as lead sponsor and financial institutions and public-sector banks as shareholders. The fund will be set up in July. The fund will help in raising credit rating of bonds issued by infrastructure companies and facilitate investment from long-term investors.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): The Reserve Bank of India is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released draft guidelines on loan system for delivery of bank credit to improve discipline among larger borrowers enjoying working capital facility from the banking system. The draft also stipulates a minimum level of ?loan component? in fund based working capital finance and a mandatory Credit Conversion Factor (CCF) for the undrawn portion of cash credit/overdraft limits availed by large borrowers.

Science and Technology:

  • EPIC Planet: EPIC is the name of the new planet discovered by Scientists at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. The discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet. EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team led by PRL's Abhijit Chakraborty. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236. Planet seems to be revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away. Both the planet and the star have been named EPIC. The scientists observed the target over a time 420 days or about 1.5 years. They measured the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search or PARAS spectrograph integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL?s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

Current Affairs June 18 to June 24

International Current News

  • Video games: A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen. World Health Organization has classified ?gaming disorder? as a mental disorder. It has announced what started as a hobby has now turned into an addiction for some. It further said that its decision to classify it as a disease will alert more doctors of the problem that exists all over the world. The new disease classification won?t go into effect until 2022.
  • SAARC Development Fund (SDF): It is a regional funding institution operational since 2010. SDF has been established to promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region, to improve their quality of life and to accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region. SAARC Development Fund (SDF) will be launching a social enterprise development programme to fund 80 entities annually across eight-member states, including India. SDF was established by the heads of the eight SAARC member states in April 2010 and its governing council comprises finance ministers of these eight countries. SDF is in the process of launching the SEDP as part of its social window.
  • US plan to forms Space force: US President Donald Trump has called for a creation of Space Force. Speaking at a white house event on space policy, Trump said, ?Space force should be added to the U.S. military as an armed service separate from the Pentagon?s five traditional uniformed branches. When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.? Trump has been considering creation of a Space Force for months over resistance from the Air Force, which currently oversees military space programs. He announced his support for the idea at a White House meeting of the National Space Council as the administration presented a directive for setting a goal for a new moon landing within 10 years.
  • United Nations Human Rights Council: It is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The US has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, said it was a "hypocritical" body that "makes a mockery of human rights". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, denounced the council as "a protector of human rights abusers".
  • Marijuana: It is the name for the cannabis plant and more specifically a drug preparation from it. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal psycho active substance in the world. Canada's parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide. Canada is only the second country in the world to make cannabis legal nationwide. Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said would shift the market for the drug away from organised crime and protects the nation?s youth.

National Current News

  • Utsonmobile: It is a mobile application developed by Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS). It enables booking and cancellation of unreserved tickets, issue and renewal of season and platform tickets, check and load R-wallet balance and helps maintain user profile management and booking history. The 'utsonmobile' application is very handy, free and is available for both Android and Windows smart phone. Users can download this app from Google Play Store or Windows store free of cost.
  • Dam Safety Bill 2018: It is a new bill approved by The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The bill will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property. The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning. It also provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose. It provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country. It also allows formation of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government. The draft Bill has been finalised after wide consultation with leading Indian experts and international experts. It will also look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in that State, for proper solution.
  • Flood Forecasting: It is a method used for deducing future flooding with the use of forecasted precipitation and stream flow data in rainfall-runoff and stream flow routing models to forecast flow rates and water levels for periods ranging from a few hours to days ahead, depending on the size of the watershed or river basin. Central Water Commission (CWC), India?s apex technical organization in the field of Water Resources, joined hands with Google. CWC would use state-of-the-art advances made by Google in the in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and geo spatial mapping for effective management of water resources particularly in the field of flood forecasting and dissemination of flood related information to the masses widely using the dissemination platforms developed by Google. This initiative is likely to help crisis management agencies to deal extreme hydrological events in a better manner.
  • National Digital Library of India: It is a project of the Ministry of Human Resource Development under the aegis of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). The objective of NDL is to make digital educational resources available to all citizens of the country to empower, inspire and encourage learning. National Digital Library of India is developed by IIT Kharagpur. NDL is the Single Window Platform that collects and collates metadata from premier learning institutions in India and abroad, as well as other relevant sources. It is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audio books, lectures, simulations, fiction and all other kinds of learning media. National Digital Library is a 24x7 ubiquitous knowledge resource that is accessible to anyone with internet access and it is built to enable the rise of Digital India. NDLI is a digital library that makes quality learning resources available to all learners and has 1.7 Crore content from more than 160 sources, in over 200 languages, everywhere and 30 lakh users are registered on NDL as on date and our target is to increase the users 10 times in a year. He said that NDLI platform is collaborative in nature and extended his regards to contributing institutions which have made available their digital repositories for integration with NDLI.
  • International Centre for Humanitarian Forensics: It is will facilitate better management of bodies during emergencies such as disasters. The ICHF is a joint venture of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Delegation for India, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives, and GFSU. World's first international centre for humanitarian forensics will be setup in Gujarat.
  • Nationwide Healthcare Establishment Census: It is the country?s first ever national healthcare facility registry of authentic, standardized and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare establishments. The vision of the NHRR Project is to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizen and provider-centric services by creating a robust, standardized and secured IT-enabled repository of India?s healthcare resources. NHRR will be the ultimate platform for comprehensive information of both, Private and Public healthcare establishments including Railways, ESIC, Defense and Petroleum healthcare establishments. Under the Collection of Statistics Act 2008, over 20 lakh healthcare establishments like hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and nursing homes would be enumerated under this census capturing data on over 1,400 variables.
  • Sikkim: Sikkim government has appointed AR Rahman as Brand Ambassador of the state. Confirming the move, Sikkim Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Commerce and Industries Ugen T Gyatso that they have appointed Rahman as the state government's brand ambassador for a year. As the government's brand ambassador, Rahman would keep coming to the Himalayan state from time to time and promote it?. In an official notification, Chief Secretary A K Srivastava said Rahman will promote and project the state's achievements nationally and globally. Rahman is a widely awarded music personality and has worked in an array of international projects. He was conferred the country's third highest civilian honour Padma Bhushan in 2010.

Economics:

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. Reserve Bank of India has eased investment norms for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in debt, especially into individual large corporates. According to an official notification, FPIs are permitted to invest in government securities (G-secs), including treasury bills and SDLs without any minimum residual maturity requirement, subject to the condition that short-term investments by an FPI under either category shall not exceed 20% of the total investment of that FPI in that category. Short-term investments are defined as those with residual maturity of up to one year.
  • Housing loan: It is a sum of money borrowed from a financial institution or bank to purchase a house. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has enhanced the housing loan limits under priority sector lending (PSL) to Rs 35 lakh in metropolitan cities. In a notification, it said that the housing loan limits for eligibility under priority sector lending will be revised to Rs 35 lakh in metropolitan centres (with population of ten lakh and above), and Rs 25 lakh in other centres, provided the overall cost of the dwelling unit in the metropolitan centre and at other centres does not exceed Rs 45 lakh and Rs 30 lakh, respectively.

Current Affairs June 25 to June 30

International Current News

  • Mongolia: Mongolia is a landlocked unitary sovereign state in East Asia. Mongolia has launched the construction of its first oil refinery funded by India. In an official statement, the refinery which is located in southern Dornogovi province will be capable of processing 1.5 million tonnes of crude oil each year. That is about 30,000 barrels per day (bpd). The refinery will be small by international standards, with most Chinese facilities each processing hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude per day, and India's Reliance Industries running one refinery at a record 1.2 million bpd. Still, Mongolia's new refinery, planned for completion in late 2022, will meet all of the nation's demand for gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The project is expected to boost Mongolia's gross domestic product by 10 per cent. It should be noted that Mongolia importing almost 1.5 million tonnes of oil products last year, virtually all from Russia. That amounted to 18 per cent of all of Mongolia's imports.
  • Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is a desert country encompassing most of the Arabian Peninsula, with Red Sea and Persian (Arabian) Gulf coastlines. Known as the birthplace of Islam, it?s home to the religion?s 2 most sacred mosques: Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, destination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, and Medina?s Masjid an-Nabawi, burial site of the prophet Muhammad. In a historic move, Saudi Arabia lifted its widely criticized ban on female drivers. Previously, women in Saudi Arabia had to depend on male relatives and chauffeurs to travel anywhere via car, even to run simple errands. The lifting of the ban is just one of many changes planned by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who assumed power one year ago this month. The 32-year-old prince is regarded as a risk-taker, and has begun a sweeping campaign of liberalization in the kingdom, which has been ruled by the House of Saud since 1932.
  • World Food Prize: It is the most prominent global award that was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986. It recognizes important individuals and scientists that make breakthroughs in alleviating hunger and promoting global food security and this year, the prize money was $250,000 that will be divided equally between the two recipients. Lawrence Haddad, a food policy researcher along with Dr David Nabaroo have been named as the winners of the 2018 World Food Prize.

National Current News

  • Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (ISPR): It is an emergency fuel store of total 5 MMT (million metric tons) or 36.92 MMbbl of strategic crude oil enough to provide 10 days of consumption which are maintained by the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited. Cabinet has approved establishment of additional 6.5MMT Strategic Petroleum Reserves at Chandikhol in Odisha and at Padur, Karnataka. The decision was taken after the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approvedestablishment of additional 6.5 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facilities at two locations, i.e. Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, including construction of dedicated SPMs (Single Point Mooring) for the two SPRs. The SPR facilities at Chandikhol and Padur will be underground rockcaverns and will have capacities of 4 MMT and 2.5 MMT respectively.
  • Aadhaar: It is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has asserted that use of Aadhaar biometric data for criminal investigation is not allowed under the Aadhaar Act. In a statement, the use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data for criminal investigation is not permissible under Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016. The ?very limited? exception to this, said UIDAI, is allowed under Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act, which permits use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security only after pre-authorisation by an oversight committee headed by the cabinet secretary. This is also the consistent stand taken by Union of India in the ongoing Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court.
  • Govt bans two offshoots of Al Qaeda: The Indian government has banned the Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). AQIS, an affiliate of the Al Qaeda and ISKP, the Afghanistan wing of the Islamic State are ?terrorist organisations.? AQ and IS are already banned under the UAPA. The AQIS is a terrorist organisation, which has committed acts of terrorism in the neighbouring countries, has been promoting and encouraging terrorist acts on the Indian interests in the Indian sub-continent and has been attempting radicalisation and recruitment of youth from India. ISKP ?promotes and encourages terrorism in the Indian sub-continent and has been committing terrorist acts to consolidate its position by recruiting youth for ?global jihad? and to achieve the objective of establishing its own ?caliphate? by overthrowing democratically elected governments and considers India and the Indian interests as its targets and is engaged in radicalising and recruiting Indian youth for terrorist activities.?
  • Air conditioner: Air conditioning is the process of removing heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space, to improve the comfort of occupants. The Indian government is planning to will consider making 24 degrees celsius as mandatory default setting for air conditioners within a few months. In a statement, Power Minister R K Singh in a meeting addressed the AC markers to label indicating the optimum temperature setting for the benefits of consumers both from financial and their health points of view, in a statement. The temperatures settings in ACs will be in the range of 24 to 26 degrees Celsius.
  • Van Dhan : It is an initiative launched by Government of India for targeting livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing non-timber forest produces, the true wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan with an estimated value: Rs.2 Lakh Cr. per year. It shall promote and leverage the collective strength of tribals (through SHGs) to achieve scale. It also aims at build upon the traditional knowledge & skill sets of tribals by adding technology & IT for value addition. Further it is to set-up tribal community owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (the Kendra) in predominantly forested tribal districts. A Kendra shall constitute of 10 tribal SHGs, each comprising of upto 30 tribal NTFP gatherers or artisans i.e. about 300 beneficiaries per Kendra. The Government has proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country under the Van Dhan Scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana): It is an initiative by Government of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has approved 3,18,900 houses from 6 States/UTs were approved. With this, the PMAY (U) has approved more than 51 Lakhs dwelling units against the estimated demand of 1 crore. The scheme which is completing its 3rd year of implementation, a significant milestone of more than 51 lakh houses approved has been achieved.
  • FSSAI: Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for regulating food safety and standards in India. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed face life imprisonment and penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh. FSSAI decision comes after Supreme Court order.
  • UGC: The University Grants Commission of India (UGC) is a statutory body set up by the Indian government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education. Govt is planning to replace the apex higher education regulator body University Grants Commission (UGC) with Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) by repealing the UGC Act, 1951. Announcing the decision, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted, ?In a landmark decision, a draft Act for repeal of #UGC & setting up #HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) has been prepared?. Oxytocin: It is a hormone that plays an important role in the female reproductive system, particularly with childbirth and breast-feeding. India has banned imports of the hormone oxytocin to stop its misuse in the livestock industry. Often called as love hormone, oxytocin is released naturally in human bonding activities such as sex, childbirth and breastfeeding. The government has also asked customs officials to step up vigilance against those likely to try and smuggle oxytocin into India, the customs agency. The government has decided to rely on domestic production to satisfy requirements of the hormone.
  • Home Ministers Special operation medal for police: It is the new medals category created by Home Ministry in the special operations for meritorious officers in police, security and intelligence services. The medals are meant for special operations, Intelligence category and will be awarded on Independence Day and Republic Day annually. The Union Home Minister has also instituted three more Medals, ? the Antarik Suraksha Medal, Asadharan Aashuchan Padak, and Utkrisht & Ati-Utkrisht Seva Medal. The Medals will be awarded annually; while the HM?s Special Operation Medal and Asadharan Aashuchan Padak will be awarded on 15th August coinciding with the Independence Day, the Antarik Suraksha Medal and Utkrisht & Ati-Utkrisht Seva Medal will be announced on 26th January to mark the Republic Day?. The Asadharan Aashuchan Padak will be given to officials of Intelligence organization of Central and State Governments, Assam Riffles and NSG. The Antarik Suraksha Medal will be bestowed upon Police personnel of States and central police forces engaged in the operation duty rendered by them for a tenure of every two years in Internal Security in Jammu & Kashmir State, Maoist affected areas North Eastern States.

Economics:

  • RBI: The Reserve Bank of India is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. Reserve Bank of India has proposed that all Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) having deposits of over Rs 100 crore will have to set up a Board of Management. In a draft, RBI also said that the activity must be done within one year to promote professional management in the banks. Since UCBs are accepting public deposits, it is imperative that a separate mechanism be put in place to protect the interests of depositors.

Science and Technology

  • RemoveDEBRIS: It is space satellite built by Britian. It is one of the world's first attempts to tackle the build-up of dangerous space debris orbiting the Earth. Weighing 100-kg RemoveDebris spacecraft will attempt to capture simulated space debris using a net and a harpoon while also testing advanced cameras and radar systems. The experiment is important as there are thousands of pieces of space debris circulating the planet, many travelling faster than a speeding bullet, posing a risk to valuable satellites and even the International Space Station itself. Once the experiments are complete, it will unfurl a drag sail to bring itself and the debris out of orbit, where it will burn up as it enters the earth's atmosphere. The RemoveDEBRIS mission is led by the varsity and built by the world's leading small satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), with technology on board designed by Airbus.
  • Nuclear reactor: It is a system that contains and controls sustained nuclear chain reactions. Reactors are used for generating electricity, moving aircraft carriers and submarines, producing medical isotopes for imaging and cancer treatment, and for conducting research. Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has signed an agreement with French state-run power utility EDF and American conglomerate General Electric (GE) for construction of 6 nuclear reactors at Maharashtra.


Current Affairs - July 2018


Current Affairs July 01 to July 07

National Current News

  • Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya: Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore, who ascended the throne of the erstwhile Tripura Princely State in 1923, was an enlightened and benevolent ruler. Agartala Airport was constructed in 1942 on the land donated by Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore. As a visionary ruler, who had travelled extensively across the globe, he took several steps for the all-round development of Tripura. Due to his initiative, an aerodrome at Agartalawas constructed that has evolved as the second busiest airport in the North East and provides crucial air connectivity to Tripura. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved to rename the Agartala Airport in Tripura as �Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore Airport, Agartala. The decision comes in the wake of the long pending demand of people of Tripura as well as the Tripura Government for paying tribute to Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Kishore.
  • World Heritage Site: It is an area or landmark which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. Mumbai�s rich cluster of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the Fort precinct and Marine Drive has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • NITI Aayog: The NITI Aayog (Hindi for Policy Commission), also National Institution for Transforming India, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. The NITI Aayog has launched the first Delta ranking (incremental progress) for the Aspirational Districts. Based on self-reported data of districts between March 31, 2018 to May 31, 2018, across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure Aspirational Districts were ranked.
  • Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh is the largest state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal, and the largest city is Indore, with Jabalpur, Gwalior, and Ujjain being the other major cities. Madhya Pradesh has been registered an unprecedented 48-digit decline in maternal deaths as per the report of the Registrar General of India from 2014 to 2016. The maternal mortality rate was 221 in the year 2011-13, which has now dropped down further to just 173. There has been a significant decline of 22% in the last three years in the state. For this feat, the state has been chosen to be awarded.
  • Uttarakhand: Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. In a unique ruling, the Uttarakhand High Court accorded the status of �legal person or entity� to animals in the State. Delivering a judgement , the top court of the state said �they have a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.� A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lokpal Singh bestowed the unique status on animal kingdom while issuing a series of directions to prevent cruelty against animals. �...to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person,� the Bench said.
  • Numaligarh Refinery Limited : It is refinery located at Morangi, Golaghat district, Assam in India. It is a joint venture between Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and Govt of Assam. It has become the has become the first oil public sector undertaking (PSU) to adopt an online legal compliance system by introducing �Legatrix�. �Legatrix� is a onestop solution for effectively managing the organisations legal and regulatory compliances through monitoring control at different levels.
  • cVigil app: It is a mobile app developed by Election Commission of India (ECI) to collect malpractices by political parties, when the Model Code of Conduct is in place in the run-up to polls. The mobile application also facilitates sharing of geo-tagged photographic and video evidence without disclosing the sender�s identity. The uploaded information will be transmitted to the control room from where the field units or flying squads mapped on a Geographic Information System will be immediately alerted for further action. In case the complainant does not opt for anonymity, the person will also get an action-taken report within about 100 minutes. The application, whose Beta version has now been released, will be made available for use during the coming four State Assembly elections later this year.
  • NITI Aayog : It is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India. NITI Aayog is planning to organise India�s First Global Mobility Summit. The event which be inaugurated by the Prime Minister will feature global political leaders & CXOs from the Mobility Space. NITI Aayog, in collaboration with various ministries and industry partners. the event will be organized in New Delhi on 7th and 8th September, 2018. This Summit will help drive Government�s goals for vehicle electrification, renewable energy integration and job growth and also speed up India�s transition to a clean energy economy. Being the first Global Mobility Summit of its kind, with over 1,200 expected participants from across the world including Government leadership, Industry leaders, Research Organizations, Academia ,Think Tanks and Civil Society Organisations.
  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission: It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to - plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched its, in-house developed, single-umbrella e-marketing system named Khadi Institution Management and Information System (KIMIS) in New Delhi. The system can be accessed from anywhere in the country for the sale and purchase of Khadi and Village Industries products.
  • DNA Technology Regulation Bill 2018: It is a new bill seeks for expanding the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country. Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens. Besides, speedier justice delivery and Increased conviction rate. Bill's provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
  • Khan Prahari app: It is a mobile app which acts as a tool for reporting any activity taking place related to illegal coal mining like rat hole mining, pilferage etc. One can upload geo-tagged photographs of the incident along with textual information directly to the system. Hence, both satellite data and human information will be used to capture information on the unauthorised mining activities. Once reported, the information will be automatically directed to the nodal officers to take suitable action on those activities. The complainant can also track his complaint through the system. The identity of the complainant shall not be revealed. This app can easily be downloaded in Android and IOS.
  • Law commission of India: Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government. The Law Commission has recommended that gambling and betting on sports, including cricket, be allowed as regulated activities taxable under the direct and indirect tax regimes and used as a source for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • Hindi: Hindi is India�s most spoken language. It is one of two languages used by the Union government (the other being English). Hindi is found mainly in North India and Central India, although there are significant urban pockets of Hindi speakers in most states of the Union. A report released from language Census (2011) mentions that, nearly 44 per cent of India speaks Hindi. Between 2001 and 2011, Hindi grew at a rate of 25 per cent to add close to 100 million new speakers. Among the 10 largest languages in the country, Hindi is the only one that saw the proportion of its speakers rise.

Defence

  • Battle firing range: It is a specialized facility designed for firearms practice. Baffle firing ranges are covered shooting practice areas which prevent possible accidents due to stray bullet injuries. Ministry of Defence has given a go ahead sanction for construction of 17 new baffle firing ranges in at an approximate cost of Rs 238 crores. This will add seven ranges to the Southern Command, Three to the Eastern Command, Two to the Northern Command, one each to the South Western and Central Commands. The one at Central Command is proposed for the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. These 17 will be in addition to the 60 similar firing ranges existing all over the country. The proposed baffle shooting ranges can facilitate firing from 300 to 500 meters.

Sports Updates

  • Cricket Hall of Fame: It is a recognition given to the achievements of the legends of the game from cricket history by ICC. Former India captain Rahul Dravid and Australian legend Ricky Ponting have been inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame for their stupendous achievements in international cricket.Along with Dravid and Ponting, retired England woman wicketkeeper-batter Claire Taylor was also named in the �Hall of Fame� during a ceremony in Dublin. Dravid became only the fifth player from India to be named in the elite list. The other four Indians are former skippers Bishan Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble. Ponting is the 25th from Australia to receive the honour.

Economics

  • ePAN : It is new facility offered only for resident individuals and not for Hindu Undivided Family, firms, trusts and companies. Once the PAN is allotted to an applicant through his electronic Aadhaar-based verification system in a few seconds, the applicant will be sent the PAN card by post. The new PAN will have the same name, date of birth, gender, mobile number and address as in the Aadhaar.

Science and Technology

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India. Its vision is to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO has a test of the Crew Escape System that provides an escape mechanism for astronauts if the launch operation is aborted. Test was the first in a series of tests to ascertain the trustworthiness and efficiency of the Crew Escape System. The system is an emergency measure designed to quickly pull away the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle if the mission gets aborted. The first 'Pad Abort Test' demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.

Current Affairs July 08 to July 14

International Current News

  • United Nations Peacekeeping : It is a role held by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations as "a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace. The United Nations member states have approved a USD 6.69 billion dollar budget for 13 peacekeeping operations for the year 2018-19. Notably, the United States continues to remain the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the USD 5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the USD 7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. However, China is the other top contributor with 10.3 percent and Japan with 9.7 percent.
  • Remote Sensing Satellite : It is a satellite, which acquires information about the earth's surface (land and ocean) and atmosphere using sensors onboard airborne (aircraft, balloons) or spaceborne (satellites, space shuttles) platforms. China has successfully launched two remote sensing satellites for Pakistan, marking the first international commercial launch for the Long March-2C rocket in about 19 years. The satellites -- PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A --- were launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China at 11:56 am.
  • Rwanda: It is a landlocked East African country with a green, mountainous landscape. Its renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The Rajya Sabha signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its counterpart in a foreign country, Rwanda, for promoting inter-parliamentary dialogue. The MoU, with six articles of cooperation, seeks to promote inter-parliamentary dialogue, capacity building of the parliamentary staff, organisation of conferences, forums, seminars, staff-attachment programmes, workshops and exchanges. The two sides also agreed to collaborate in regional and international multilateral parliamentary bodies in furtherance of the relations between the two countries. Naidu and Makuza discussed issues of bilateral interest and opportunities for cooperation for mutual benefit. Naidu complimented the people and Parliament of Rwanda for having 60 per cent women legislators.
  • South Korea: South Korea is an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world�s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea. India and South Korea have signed five MoUs in the field of Science & Technology. Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan and his South Korean counterpart, You Young Min signed three MoUs for Programme of Cooperation 2018-21, Establishment of Future Strategy Group, Cooperation in Biotechnology and Bio economy. The MoU on Establishment of Future Strategy Group was signed by Indian Science & Technology and Commerce Ministers, while on the Korean side, it was signed by Science and ICT and Trade Ministers.
  • European Bank of Reconstruction: It is an international financial institution founded in 1991. As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies. India has inducted as the 69th shareholder in European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

National Current News

  • Bridge Management System: It is a web-enabled IT application developed and launched by Indian Railways to store data on its 1.5 lakh bridges. The web-based platform will show the bridge master data, works data, information regarding inspection/monitoring and maintenance of the bridges and other essentials.
  • Jews: Jews or Jewish people are an ethno-religious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Government of Gujarat has granted minority status to followers of Judaism in the state, thus becoming the third state in India to do so. The notification was issued by the state�s Department of Social Justice and Empowerment. The community had earlier made a representation for minority status. Gujarat has a very small Jewish community with approximately 170 members, mostly located in Ahmedabad. The city is home to the only synagogue in the state, the Magen Abraham Synagogue that was built in 1934.
  • Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge: It is an initiative launched by Ministry of Housing identifies best technologies which are suitable for mass housing. Through this challenge, all entrepreneurs, technology providers, institutions, academia and other stakeholders across the globe are proposed to be invited to contribute to the future of India's Housing Development. The Ministry also proposes to conduct Region/ State wide demonstration of technologies to explore and identify appropriate technologies as a way forward.
  • Sambalpur railway division: It is one of the three railway divisions under East Coast Railway zone of Indian Railway. It has become first division in India, to eliminate all unmanned railway crossing gates.
  • Civil Aviation Research Organisation (CARO): It is new research developed by Ministry of civil aviation. It focuses on pursuing inter-disciplinary solutions to improve the civil aviation sector. The Government is keen to further accelerate the growth of the aviation sector, which has immense potential and make it accessible to the common man. This would require creation of fresh capacity and infrastructure to keep pace with the growing demand. Safety, convenience of passengers is a prime concern while keeping pace with the growth. The new research centre is expected to play a role in developing solutions and addressing problems airports currently face,
  • Institutions of Eminence (IoE): It is a status accorded by UGC to setup world-class teaching and research institutions. The regulatory architecture was provided in the form of UGC (Declaration of Government Institutions as Institutions of Eminence). Under this scheme, 114 applications (74 from public sector and 40 from private sector) were received in the Ministry for selection of IoEs. The government granted institution of eminence status to IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IISc Bangalore in the public sector while Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pillani and Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation were granted institution of eminence tag in the private sector.
  • Dwarf Containers: It is a small size container whichs 6 ft 4 inches in height and can run on electrified tracks. Despite being smaller in size, the dwarf containers can hold a capacity of 30,500 kgs. In comparison with regular containers, these containers are 662 mm short but 162 mm wider. The dwarf containers can hold a volume of approximately 67% more when compared to traditional containers. Presently, due to its height, the regular double stack ISO containers can run only on few chosen routes on Indian Railways but these short-heighted Double Containers can run on most tracks very easily. These containers in double stack formation can run under 25kV overhead lines.
  • Indian Railways has launched first double dwarf containers. The first freight train was flagged off on 7th July, 2018 from Western Railway�s Rajkot railway station on its maiden commercial run. This train was booked from the Reliance Rail Siding at Kanalus to Rewari in the state of Haryana; it was loaded with 82 containers Polypropylene Granules. Due to this Double Stacked Dwarf Container service, Indian Railways has received increased revenue of Rs. 18.50 lakhs.
  • Eat Right Movement: It is a new strategy launched by FSSAI to promote production of healthier FMCG food products in the industry. This is an attempt to getting the food industry on board for implementation of draft food labelling regulation in attempt to protect and promote public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety. 15 packaged food companies, 10-15 retail companies, 10 quick service restaurants, 8 to 10 edible oil companies will make voluntary commitments and be part of FSSAI�s movement launch Mandated to consolidate statute related to food safety and regulation in India, FSSAI has a moved a step further to advocate for low sugar and salt consumption.
  • Jal Bachao, Video Banao, Puruskar Pao : It is a video contest launched by Ministry of water resources through MyGov yesterday, will continue till 4th of November 2018. Three winners will be selected every fortnight in the contest. Any Indian citizen can upload their video entries on YouTube and enter the publicly accessible link on the Video link section of MyGov contest page www.mygov.in. The participants will be judged on the basis of elements of creativity, originality, composition, technical excellence, artistic merit, quality of video, content and visual impact. The amount for the first prize will be 25 thousand rupees, for second 15 thousand and for the third it will be ten thousand.
  • Genetically modified crops: These are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. India has the world�s fifth largest cultivated area under genetically modified (GM) crops, at 11.4 million hectares (mh) in 2017. The country with the highest area under transgenic crops, at 75 mh, is the United States. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the 75 mh GM acreage comprised 34.05 mh soyabean, 33.84 mh maize (corn), 4.58 mh cotton, 1.22 mh alfalfa, 0.876 mh canola, 0.458 mh sugar-beet, 3,000 hectares potato and around 1,000 hectares each of apples, squash and papaya.

Science and Technology

  • 3D colour x ray � It is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. A team of scientists have performed the first ever 3D colour X-ray on humans, with the support of CERN physics lab. Medical experts have suggested that the newly developed technique will help improve the medical field diagnosis. CERN's physics lab helped with the imaging technology while Universities of Otago and Canterbury helped with developing the X-ray. According to a report, the new device is based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray technology, which incorporates CERN's particle-tracking technology. The new colour X-ray imaging technique is able to produce clearer and more accurate images which would help doctors in getting a more accurate diagnosis to the patients. The technology "dubbed Medipix", works like a camera. While its shutter is open, it detects and counts individual sub-atomic particles as and when they collide with pixels. This, in turn, allows getting high-resolution and high-contrast pictures. According to reports, the difference between the bone, muscle and cartilage are very clearly seen in the images.

Economics

  • Global Innovation Index (GII) : It is a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policymakers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. The ranking is constantly being used to evaluate progress on a continual basis. India was ranked 57th in the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings released in New York. India was ranked 60th in the year 2017 which shows that it has been constantly climbing up its GII rankings since 2015. According to reports, India has maintained its top place in the central and South Asia region and has consistently moved up the global ranking from 81st in 2015 to 57th in the year 2018. The country has climbed for the third year in a row, as it was ranked 66th in the year 2016. On the global front, Switzerland maintained its number one position in the Global Innovation Index rankings. Other countries that fell in the top 10 list were Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, the US, Finland, Denmark, and Germany. China, scored the rank 17th rank this year, which is an upgrade from the previous 44th rank in 2017.

Current Affairs July 15 to July 21

International Current News

  • UNSC:
    United Nation Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its United Nations Charter. The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan in addition to current sanctions ( till May 31, 2019). The resolution expresses deep concern at the failures of South Sudanese leaders to bring an end to the hostilities and condemns the continued and flagrant violations of peace agreements. two individuals to the blacklist for travel ban and asset freeze. They are Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, the former deputy chief of staff of South Sudan's army, and Paul Malong Awan, former chief of staff of South Sudan's army who rebelled last year.
  • Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration:
    It is a new draft proposed by United Nations for Global safety and better manages international migration. The draft addresses its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development. This is for first time UN Member countries came together to negotiate agreement covering all dimensions of international migration. The compact is the first intergovernmental agreement to cover wide-ranging dimensions of international migration in holistic and comprehensive manner, agreed upon by all the UN member states minus the United States. It is not legally binding. It sets out 23 objectives to deal issues ranging from factors that compel people to move, legal channels for migration, combating trafficking and smuggling, harnessing the economic benefits of migration and return of the migrants. Currently, over 250 million migrants worldwide account for 3% of the world�s entire population, but contribute 10% of the global gross domestic production (GDP).
  • World Bank :
    It is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. India for the first time became the world�s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017. India�s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France. The economy rebounded strongly from July 2017, after several quarters of slowdown blamed on economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s government. India, with around 1.34 billion inhabitants, is poised to become the world�s most populous nation, whereas the French population stands at 67 million.

National Current News

  • State Banks Repeal and Amendment Bill 2017: It is new bill which seeks to repeal the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, the State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956 and further to amend the State Bank of India Act, 1955. Under it, the five associates banks that were merged are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore. The merger of these banks have already been effective from 1st April, 2017. The main aim of the bill is merger of these banks and enhance the profitability of SBI and provide better customer service . The merger will bring about increased capital base and increased ability to give loans. He said the decision of merger have been taken after approval of board of directors of these five banks and RBI.
  • Special Remission to Prisoners: The Union Cabinet has given its approval to grant Special Remission to Prisoners as part of Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Women and Transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period will be released under this special remission. Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period will also be released. Physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70 per cent disability and more who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period, terminally ill convicts and convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds of their actual sentence period will also get this remission. The prisoners will be released in three phases. In Phase-l, the prisoners will be released on 2nd October this year, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In Phase-ll, prisoners will be released on 10th April on anniversary of Champaran Satyagrah and in Phase-Ill, prisoners will be released on 2nd October 2019.
  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018: It is an initiative from Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The objective of SSG 2018 is to undertake a ranking of states and districts on the basis of their performance attained on key quantitative and qualitative SBM-G parameters. In the process, through a countrywide communication campaign, rural communities will be engaged in the improvement of the sanitation and cleanliness of their surrounding areas. An independent survey agency will conduct the survey in all districts from 1st to 31st August 2018, and the results will be announced in the form of a ranking of all districts and states on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation (Swachhata) parameters. The top performing states and districts are expected to be awarded on 2nd October 2018.
  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR): It is national body which emphasizes the principle of universality and inviolability of child rights and recognizes the tone of urgency in all the child related policies of the country. For the Commission, protection of all children in the 0 to 18 years age group is of equal importance. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has drafted new fee regulations for uniform fee framework. It proposes 10% yearly cap on the fee hike permissible by private, unaided schools. It suggests setting up district fee regulatory authority in states to monitor school fee increases. It suggests formula for determining fees, based on school�s location, costs incurred, revenue earned, student strength and other parameters. It proposes fines on schools if they violates uniform fee framework. These schools will be fined 1% of revenue it generates for first instance of violation of these rules and it will increase to 2 % and 5% for second and third violation.
  • Net neutrality: It is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. The Telecom Commission (TC), the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecom approved the recommendation made eight months ago by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the subject. Besides, a separate committee has been set up under the Department of Telecom (DoT) to examine what these critical services will be. These may include autonomous vehicles, digital healthcare services or disaster management.
  • Taj Mahal : It is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Aiming to sort out the pollution and its effects on Taj Mahal, the government has announced the formation of a committee. The decision was taken after a high level Inter ministerial meeting was today held in New Delhi today to deliberate on various issues and actions to be taken on war footing to conserve The Taj Mahal. The Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping & Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari announced that the formation of a committee under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, M/o Environment, Forest and Climate Change, C. K. Mishra including experts from NEERI, IITs and experts from various organizations to look into the issue of industrial pollution. The committee will study on case to case basis and take a tough stand on hazardous industries in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal.
  • Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015: It is a bill which aims to eliminating the superstition from the society, imposes a punishment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh. As the President of India has approved the bill, it would turn into an Act, which would be imposed, along with Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), if someone is killed after being branded as witch. The punishment for leading a person to commit suicide after intimidating, stigmatising, defaming a person may be extended to life imprisonment, along with Rs. 5 lakh fine. The Act also talks about various measures that the administration and police should initiate, along with NGOs and civil society, to educate people about witch-hunting. It also entails that the fine realised as punishment for an offence shall be paid to the victim or his/her next of kin as compensation. National Database of Arms Licenses system: It is a new system proposed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It will include names of all arms licence holders, new or old and they will be issued a unique identification number (UIN). The move is aimed at keeping tab on authorised private gun holders, many of whom are often found involved in crimes and celebratory firing leading to loss of lives. It will also eliminate possibilities of issuing arms licence to persons whose antecedents are not bona fide.
  • Central Motor Vehicles Act , 1988: It is a parliament act which regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles. The Act provides in detail the legislative provisions regarding licensing of drivers/conductors, registration of motor vehicles, control of motor vehicles through permits, special provisions relating to state transport undertakings, traffic regulation, insurance, liability, offences and penalties, etc .The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on July 17, 2018 notified draft amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. There are several amendments including making FASTags and Vehicle Tracking System device mandatory for all commercial vehicles obtaining national permit.
  • Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill:is a bill which seeks to amend the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 and was adopted by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the parliament. It seeks to amend the regulations governing the compensation payable for acquisition of immovable property by the Centre for defence and security purposes. It seeks to amend a provision to allow the Centre to re-issue the notice of acquisition to ensure that the property owner gets an opportunity to be heard. The bill will help bring justice to those whose land was taken without proper notice. This is the 12th amendment that is being introduced to the bill. The bill has been amended 11 times before. The amendment has been introduced solely for defence and national security purpose.

Sports Updates

  • France wins 2018 FIFA World Cup Final
    France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final by beating Croatia 4-2. France which entered the tournament as a favorite, was backed top players such as Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. The win has caused celebrations to erupt all over France, with jubilant fans waving French fans and cheering. Croatia's Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball for the tournament, given to the competition's best player. The Golden Boot, awarded to the leading scorer, went to England's Harry Kane. Belgium's Thibaut Courtois won the Golden Glove, given to the best goalkeeper, and Mbappe received the Young Player Award. Spain's disciplinary record was honored with the tournament's Fair Play Trophy.

Science and Technology

  • Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP) : It is a high-performance microscope that can provide a precise atom by atom view of a material. The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras has launched a Rs 40 crore remotely operable microscope, Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP). . This is the first time eight top research institutions in the country have collaborated to establish such a platform at a cost of nearly Rs. 40 crore, spearheaded by IIT Madras. Special terminals to access the device have been set up in all the eight partner institutions. IITs of Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Ropar along with International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) are the partner institutions who contributed Rs. 2 crore each for the project.
  • Low orbit satellite: It is a satellite systems used in telecommunication, which orbit between 400 and 1,000 miles above the earth's surface. They are used mainly for data communication such as email, video conferencing and paging. They move at extremely high speeds and are not fixed in space in relation to the earth. In an effort to offer worldwide communication services, China plans to launch 300 low-orbit satellites, the first in the series to be launched later this year. The first in the 300-satellite array -- known as the Hongyan constellation -- is set to be launched by the end of this year. The announcement was made at the Hunan Commercial Aviation Space and Marine Equipment Forum held in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province.

Current Affairs July 22 to July 28

International Current News

  • Pakistan Election 2018:
    Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan�s party was declared victory in a divisive general election in Pakistan. Speaking in a televised speeh, Imran Khan said God has given me a chance to come to power to implement that ideology which I started 22 years ago. He was ready to lead the nuclear-armed nation despite a long delay in ballot counting and allegations of vote-rigging from his main opponents. Throughout the speech Khan who was a fierce critic of US policy in the region, called for "mutually beneficial" ties with Pakistan�s on-off ally the United States, and offered an olive branch to arch-foe India, saying the two nations should resolve their long-simmering dispute over Kashmir.
  • Ebola : It is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses. A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11 000 across West Africa. Though the findings are not yet confirmed, that the new Bombali species of the virus - which researchers say could be transmitted to humans - can develop into the deadly Ebola disease.

National Current News

  • Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018: It is new bill passed by the Lok Sabha. The bill seeks lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances or hormones are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS. The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of ₹ 10 crore. It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.
  • Prime Minister�s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme : It is a national scheme aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D.) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities. It was announced in the Budget Speech 2018-19. It will be implemented for period of seven years beginning 2018-19 at total cost of Rs. 1650 crore. Under it, best students who have completed or are in final year of B. Tech/Integrated M.Tech/M.Sc courses in Science and Technology streams will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in IITs/IISc. Maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in three year period, beginning 2018-19.Monthly fellowship: Selected students through selection process laid down in PMRF Guidelines will be offered monthly fellowship of Rs.70,000 for first two years, Rs.75,000 for 3rd year and Rs.80,000 in 4th and 5th years. Each selected fellow students will be also provided research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh for period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.
  • Kerala : Kerala, a state on India's tropical Malabar Coast, has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. Kerala topped the list of best governed states in the country. According to an index released by Public Affairs Centre, Kerala topped the index, for the third time, for being the best governed large State in the country and Tamil Nadu and Telangana stood second and third respectively. The index was based on 10 themes, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators. The states were divided into two categories -- large and small -- on the basis of their population. States with more than two crore population were considered large. A total of 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators were measured to derive the PAI, relying solely upon government data. Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar ranked the lowest on the PAI, indicating higher social and economic inequalities in the states. Among smaller states (with population less than two crore), Himachal Pradesh topped the list, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura which figured among the top five states with good governance. Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were ranked at the bottom of the index among small states.
  • Bangla: It is the new name proposed for the state of West Bengal. West Bengal assembly has passed a resolution to rename the state as �Bangla�. Though the process for final approval will be long drawn requiring an amendment to the constitution, the move is aimed at climbing the alphabetical sequence of state names in which West Bengal appears last in the list now. The resolution said the state will be called Bangla in three languages � Bengali, English and Hindi.
  • TreadWill: It is a is a website designed to help people deal with stress, low mood, lethargy and other depressive symptoms through different online exercises, questionnaires and games. People suffering from depressive symptoms such as feeling low and lack of pleasure in usual activities may find the contents of the site helpful. The website was developed by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. It will help in overcoming depressive symptoms and becoming more resilient against stressful events in the future. The online tool has been developed by a team with collaborative support from the Computer Science and Engineering and HSS (Psychology) departments, and Dr Alok Bajpai, a psychiatrist, the professor said. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that helps people with depressive symptoms, Gupta said. The effectiveness of CBT is well established for many mental illnesses, including mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Student Police Cadet (SPC) programme : It is a new initiative launched by government of India, to SPC programme will provide a healthy interface between schools and police peace and inculcate in the students aspects of public safety, discipline, patience, tolerance, empathy, respect of senior citizens, social harmony, traffic sense and a corruption-free environment. The youth of tomorrow who emerge out of such programme would bear ethical values of social commitment and be aware of social evils such as drugs, alcohol abuse, intolerance and vandalism. The SPC project will also help the police assess their image in the public eye and strive for improving confidence and winning trust of the people. SPC initially will be launched as pilot programme in all States and Union Territories.
  • Negotiable Instruments Act: It is a new act, which seeks to penalize violation of negotiable instruments like Promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques. The Lok Sabha has passed Negotiable Instruments Act. The new bill seeks to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The Act defines promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques. It also specifies penalties for bouncing of cheques, and other violations with respect to such negotiable instruments. The Bill inserts a provision allowing a court trying an offence related to cheque bouncing, to direct the drawer (person who writes the cheque) to pay interim compensation to the complainant. This interim compensation may be paid under certain circumstances, including where the drawer pleads not guilty of the accusation. The interim compensation will not exceed 20% of the cheque amount, and will have to be paid by the drawer within 60 days of the trial court�s order to pay such a compensation.
  • Deposit in case of appeal: The Bill inserts a provision specifying that if a drawer convicted in a cheque bouncing case files an appeal, the appellate court may direct him to deposit a minimum of 20% of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial court during conviction. This amount will be in addition to any interim compensation paid by the drawer during the earlier trial proceedings. In case the drawer is acquitted (during trial or by the appellate court), the court will direct the complainant to return the interim compensation (or deposit in case of an appeal case), along with an interest. This amount will be repaid within 60 days of the court�s order
  • Khelo India Talent Identification Development scheme: It is a scheme launched by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for atheletes to get training at government-accredited residential academies. An annual stipend of Rs 1.2 lakh will be given to each player on a quarterly basis to meet their out of pocket expenses, treatment of injuries and other expenses. The athletes will be put up at various Khelo India accredited academies which will take care of the training, boarding and tournament expenses of the athletes. Sports authority of India has cleared 734 athletes for a scholarship programme.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Account: It is saving scheme targeted at the parents of girl children. The scheme encourages parents to build a fund for the future education and marriage expenses for their female child. government has reduced the minimum annual deposit requirement for accounts under Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana to Rs. 250 from Rs. 1,000 earlier. The government has amended the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Rules, 2016 for the purpose.
  • QR code (quick response code): It is a type of 2D bar code that is used to provide easy access to information through a smartphone. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has initiated the process of introducing QR code in their textbooks, a move aimed at helping students understand chapters better by watching a film or reading additional content on laptops and digital boards.
  • Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill: It is a new bill which seeks jail terms of three to seven years, besides fine, to those convicted of taking or giving bribes to public officials. The Bill also extends the ambit of public servants who will be protected by the provision of a prior government sanction for prosecution. There is also a provision now to get prior permission for starting an investigation and that has prompted many to say that the law has been �diluted� from its original draft.
  • National Council For Teacher Education Bill: It is bill seeks to grant retrospective recognition to Central/State institutions that are conducting teacher education courses without NCTE approval. This has been done as a one-time measure to ensure that the future of students studying in these institutions is not jeopardised. All institutions running teacher education courses, such as B.Ed and D.El.Ed have to obtain recognition from the NCTE under section 14 of the NCTE Act. Innovate India Platform: It is a common developed for presenting all the innovation happening across the nation. It was created by NITI Aayog & MyGov. It aims to create the much-needed innovations platform for registering both grassroots and deep-tech innovators at a national level. Those searching for a critical innovation can leverage the portal advantageously for the benefit of the economy as well as national social needs.
  • Fixed Drug Combination (FDC) : It means a combination of two or more drugs in a fixed dosage ratio. An expert panel of the health ministry has recommended that 343 of them should be �prohibited� According to a senior government official, the expert sub-committee has clearly stated in its report that �for most FDCs, their use would lead to unnecessary overuse and the patients would be exposed to the risk of multiple ingredients when one would suffice".
  • Shale oil: Shale oil is an unconventional oil produced from oil shale rock fragments by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. These processes convert the organic matter within the rock (kerogen) into synthetic oil and gas. The government has amended the Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules 1959 to include shale in the definition of petroleum, a change that would allow private companies to explore and produce the resource in the blocks they already operate. According to a government notification, "Petroleum means naturally occurring hydrocarbons, whether in the form of natural gas or in a liquid, viscous or solid form, or a mixture thereof, but does not include coal, lignite, and helium occurring in association with petroleum or coal or shale.

Sports Updates

  • 2020 Olympic mascots: Japanese organisers have formally introduced their doe-eyed 2020 Olympic mascots Miraitowa and Someity to the world. Miraitowa has a "strong sense of justice and is very athletic". It also possesses magical powers that enable it "to move anywhere instantaneously". Someity is said to be �usually calm" but "gets very powerful when needed.

Science and Technology

  • Fastest spinning object: Scientists have developed the fastest man-made rotor in the world. The significant development which they believe will help them study quantum mechanics. At more than 60 billion revolutions per minute, this machine is more than 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dental drill. According to Tongcang Li, an assistant professor at Purdue University , this study has many applications, including material science. We can study the extreme conditions different materials can survive in. The team synthesised a tiny dumbbell from silica and levitated it in high vacuum using a laser. The laser can work in a straight line or in a circle � when it is linear, the dumbbell vibrates, and when it is circular, the dumbbell spins. A spinning dumbbell functions as a rotor, and a vibrating dumbbell functions like an instrument for measuring tiny forces and torques, known as a torsion balance. These devices were used to discover things like the gravitational constant and density of Earth, but Li hopes that as they become more advanced, they will be able to study things like quantum mechanics and the properties of vacuum.

Economics:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): It is an indirect tax (or consumption tax) levied in India on the supply of goods and services. The GST Council has cut tax rates on 88 items, including footwear, refrigerator, washing machine and small screen TV, while the widely demanded sanitary napkins have been exempted from the levy. The highest tax bracket of 28 per cent has been rationalised further with rates on daily-use items like perfumes, cosmetics, toiletries, hair dryers, shavers, mixer grinder, vacuum cleaners, lithium ion batteries, being lowered to 18 per cent. The revised tax rates will come into effect from July 27. Inter-creditor agreement: It is a framework under which consortium of lenders would take up NPA cases. The framework will authorise the lead bank to implement a resolution plan in 180 days and the leader would then prepare a resolution plan including empanelling turnaround specialists and other industry experts for operation turnaround of the assets within RBI's stipulated time-frame of 180 days.


Current Affairs - August 2018


Current Affairs July 29 to August 04

National Current News

  • National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme: It is a programme which aims to prevent and treat hepatitis which is among leading causes of liver cancer, cirrhosis of liver and acute liver failure. With this initiative, Government is strongly committed to work towards elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030.� This was stated by J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he launched the National Viral Hepatitis Control Program to mark the World Hepatitis Day, 2018.
  • Mission Satyanishtha : It is a programme launched by Indian Railways to improve Ethics in Public Governance. The objectives of the Mission are: 1) To train every employee to understand the need and value of ethics in Personal and Public life. 2) To deal with ethical dilemmas in life and Public Governance. 3) To help understand the policies of Indian Railways on ethics and integrity and the employee�s role in upholding the same. 4) To develop inner governance through tapping inner resources.
  • Ethanol: Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from various plant materials collectively known as "biomass. Union Food Ministry has notified decision to allow sugar mills to produced ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or an intermediate product called B-molasses. In this regard, Sugarcane Control Order, 1966 has been amended. The move would help mills divert cane juice for ethanol manufacturing during surplus years. Now in case of production of ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or B-molasses, the recovery rate of sugarcane factory will be determined by considering every 600 liters so produced as equivalent to one tonne of production of sugar. Earlier, sugar mills were allowed to manufacture ethanol from by-product called C-molasses, after sugar was taken out while processing raw sugarcane juice. Molasses is also used for manufacturing spirit and alcohol among other products.
  • Mobile Open Exchange: It is a focused mobile ecosystem that enables reduced operational costs and enhances profitability through an efficient supply chain system. Strategic location coupled with the predicted growth in the Indian telecommunication market, MOX is a significant hub for socio-economic development, thereby becoming the future of mobility. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of India's first Mobile Open Exchange Zone (MOX) at World Trade Centre, Noida, at a ground breaking ceremony in Lucknow which saw the launch of 81 investment projects worth over Rs. 60,000 crore in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2018: It is a new bill passed by Lok Sabha which seeks to replace the Homeopathy Central Council (amendment) ordinance that allowed a Board of Governors to run the council for one year till a new body is formed. The AYUSH ministry had introduced the bill in Lok Sabha for its consideration and passage on July 23. During a discussion on the bill, Opposition members criticised the government over promulgation of an Ordinance to dissolve the Homeopathy Council.

Defence

  • NASAM 2 : NASAM 2 (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) is a distributed and networked medium to long range air defence system. NASAMS was the first surface-based application for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. India is planning to buy advanced air defence system from US to defend the National Capital Region (NCR) from aerial attacks.
  • V-46-6 and V92S2: These are the two engines developed by for T-72 Ajeya tank and the T-90 Bhishma tank. It was produced by the Engine Factory Avadi (EFA), a unit of Ordnance Factory Board. The effort has resulted in savings for the exchequer to the tune of ₹33 lakh for the T-90 engine and ₹9.75 lakh for the T-72 engine. The engines were handed over to Indian Army.

Environment

  • Flash Flood Guidance System: It is a new system, developed by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) under Ministry of Earth Sciences. India has been designated as a nodal centre for preparing flash-flood forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). According to an official release, means India will have to develop a customised model that can issue advance warning of floods in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

Current Affairs August 05 to August 11

International Current News

  • India-Germany: India and Germany sign agreement on economic and tech cooperation. The agreement was signed between German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney and Joint Secretary Sameer Kumar Khare (Department for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance) on financial and technical cooperation within the framework of the Indo-German development cooperation. As part of the agreement, Germany has pledged to spend 1,055 million euros (around Rs 8,500 crore) for development cooperation in India. According to the release issued by the German Embassy, the committed funds would focus on "sustainable urban development" like infrastructure, urban mobility and climate resilience that go along the "Smart Cities" initiative. "The cleaning of Ganga will be supported in the future also," the release said.
  • Pakistan- Russia: Pakistan army to receive training at Russian military institutes. Pakistan and Russia have signed an agreement to allow Pakistani troops to receive training at Russian military training institutes, a move aimed at boosting their bilateral defence ties. The agreement was signed at the conclusion of the first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), according to Pakistan�s defence ministry. The Russian side was led by Deputy Defence Minister Col Gen. Alexander V. Fomin who visited Pakistan from August 6-7 to attend the first session of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC). Lt. Gen (retd.) Zamir ul Hassan Shah, Secretary Defence, led the Pakistani delegation during the JMCC meeting. Prior to the inaugural meeting, held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Defence in Rawalpindi, the visiting dignitary called on the defence secretary and the defence minister.

National Current News

  • Fugitive Offenders Economic Bill : It is a bill which allows for a person to be declared as a fugitive economic offender (FEO) if: (i) an arrest warrant has been issued against him for any specified offences where the value involved is over Rs 100 crore, and (ii) he has left the country and refuses to return to face prosecution. To declare a person an FEO, an application will be filed in a Special Court (designated under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002) containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person�s whereabouts. The Special Court will require the person to appear at a specified place at least six weeks from issue of notice. Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears. The Bill allows authorities to provisionally attach properties of an accused, while the application is pending before the Special Court. Upon declaration as an FEO, properties of a person may be confiscated and vested in the central government, free of encumbrances (rights and claims in the property). Further, the FEO or any company associated with him may be barred from filing or defending civil claims.
  • Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill (Triple Talaq Bill): The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce. Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word �talaq� thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce. Union Cabinet has introduced three amendments to the bill. As per the new amendment, a crime of triple talaq (FIR) will be cognizable only if the victim or her blood relatives or someone associated with the marriage files the complaint. A complaint filed by an agency or outside entity will not be cognizable. In the earlier version, any person could have initiated criminal proceedings against a Muslim man, who pronounces instant triple talaq on his wife. As per the second amendment, the crime remains non-bailable but a magistrate can grant bail after hearing the victim. Provision of bail was one of the demands of the opposition parties. The third amendment makes the crime compoundable. If friends seek reconciliation, the magistrate can compound offence.
  • SC and ST Amendment Bill, 2018: It is a new amendment passed by Rajya Sabha. The Bill states that the investigating officer will not require the approval of any authority for the arrest of an accused. A preliminary enquiry will not be required for the registration of a First Information Report against a person accused under the Act. The SC/ST Act 1989 states that persons accused of committing an offence under the Act cannot apply for anticipatory bail. The Bill seeks to clarify that this provision will apply despite any judgements or orders of a court that provide otherwise.
  • IMPRINT: It is the first of its kind government supported initiative to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance. The proposals were approved on Saturday at the IMPRINT 2 Apex Committee meeting held in New Delhi. Government has approved 122 new research projects of 112 crore rupees under its Impacting Research Innovation and Technology �IMPRINT-2� scheme. Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a statement that out of over two thousand proposals, 122 best proposals were selected for funding under IMPRINT-2. Of the selected projects, 81 are sponsored by industry.
  • Social Media Communications Hub: It is a platform proposed by government of India for digital medium. According to an official source, it is a technology platform is needed to collect digital media chatter from all core social media platforms as well as digital platforms such as news, blogs. In a single system providing real-time insights, metrics and other valuable data. Under the project, media persons would be employed on contractual basis in each district to be the �eyes and ears� of the government and provide real-time updates from the ground. According to the tender document, the platform is expected to provide automated reports, tactical insights and comprehensive work-flows to initiate engagement across digital channels. The platform maybe used to disseminate content and hence, should support publishing features. Amid bowing to the pressure to the Supreme Court which termed the government�s proposal to monitor online data akin to �creating a surveillance state�, government has withdrawn the proposal to set up, ��Social Media Communication Hub�.
  • Facebook: Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company. Facebook has announced the launching of a �Digital Literacy Library� to help young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy online technology. The library is a collection of lessons to help young people think critically and share thoughtfully online There are 830 million young people online around the world, and this library is a resource for educators looking to address digital literacy and help these young people build the skills they need to safely enjoy digital technology�. The interactive lessons and videos, developed in partnership with the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University for educators of youth aged 11 to 18, can be downloaded for free.
  • The National Sports University Bill, 2018 : It is a new bill passed by Lok Sabha. The Bill establishes a National Sports University located in Manipur. It will promote sports education in the areas of: (i) sports sciences, (ii) sports technology, (iii) sports management, and (iv) sports coaching. It will function as a national training centre for select sports disciplines. It may also establish campuses and study centres in other parts of the country. The University will be empowered to grant degrees, diplomas and certificates. The key objectives of the University are: (i) research, development and dissemination of knowledge in physical education and sports sciences, (ii) strengthening physical education and sports training programmes, (iii) generating knowledge capabilities, skills and competence at various levels, and (iv) training talented athletes to help them to evolve into international level athletes.
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands: The Andaman Islands are an Indian archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. These roughly 300 islands are known for their palm-lined, white-sand beaches, mangroves and tropical rainforests. Coral reefs supporting marine life such as sharks and rays make for popular diving and snorkeling sites. The Union home ministry has excluded 29 inhabited islands in Andaman and Nicobar from Restricted Area Permit (RAP) with an aim to boost tourism. Foreigners are not allowed to enter most of the hundreds of Andaman &Nicobar islands and they are required to obtain a RAP to visit the islands.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana: It is a nationwide plan in India to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan period. "It will help in connecting 38,412 habitations at an estimated cost of Rs. 84,934 crore (Central Share is 54,900 crore and State share is 30,034 crore). Habitation (population 250+) would be covered by March, 2019. PMGSY-II and habitations under identified LWE blocks (100-249 population) would be covered by March 2020. Initially the targets of PMGSY were to be achieved by March 2022, however, the sunset date of achievement of PMGSY-I was pre-poned to March, 2019, with enhanced fund allocation and changed funding pattern i.e. in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and State for all States except for 8 North Eastern and 3 Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10. The Task of connecting 1,78,184 eligible unconnected habitations under PMGSY on its way towards completion by March, 2019. So far, 95% habitations (1,69,415) have been sanctioned, of which 91% habitations (1,54,257) have been connected including 16,380 habitations connected by the States from their own resources. Against the sanctioned length of 6,58,143 km, 5,50,601 km road length has been completed. Under, PMGSY-II, against the target length of 50,000 km works of upgradation almost 32,100 km road length have been sanctioned in 13 States, which have transited to PMGSY-II. Against the sanctions issued, 12,000 km road length has been completed up to March, 2018.

Sports Updates

  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and commonly known as Tokyo 2020, is a forthcoming international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020. Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympics to deploy facial recognition technology to increase security around all venues. According to an official report, Olympics organizers are partnering with NEC, a Japanese telecommunications and information technology firm, to develop the first system of this kind to be implemented at the global sporting event. The technology was demonstrated for the media at an event this week in Tokyo and will use IC chips within identification cards to automatically verify the identity of those entering over 40 venues, according to the wire service. In order to facilitate the technology, more than 300,000 athletes and Games staff will need to submit photographs to a database before the Olympics start in July 2020.
  • Sports period: Sports period to be made mandatory in School. In a bid to promote sports in the country, government said that a games period will be made mandatory in schools after reducing the syllabus by 50 per cent by next year. Making the announcement, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore said that "We have come to a stage where sports is not a part of education, it is education. The ministry of education is ensuring that the syllabus in schools by 2019 is reduced by 50 per cent and there will be a sports period on a regular basis. Besides, the ministry is planning several things to make sports more relevant. We are also ensuring that the SAI (now SI) reduces its man power by 50 per cent by 2022 so that they can cater to sports and it has a lean body and money is spent on sports. This year we will have 20 specialised sports schools and the government of India will pump about Rs 7-10 crore each. The idea is to have a very pointed approach so each school will have only two or three main sports. They will be very focussed�.

Science and Technology

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) : It is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A group of computer scientists and students from IIT-Madras have development first of a family of six industry-standard microprocessors. The initial batch of 300 chips, named RISECREEK and produced under Project Shakti, have been fabricated free at Intel�s facility at Oregon, U.S., to run the Linux operating system. According to an official source, its microprocessors can be adapted by others, as the design is open source. They optimise power use and compete with international units such as the Cortex A5 from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM).
  • ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. The launch of India�s second lunar mission �Chandrayaan-2�, has been postponed to October. Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister�s Office, in-charge of the Department of Space, Jitendra Singh had on 16 February last said the lunar mission under which the Isro will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon�s south pole, will be launched in April. Sivan had earlier said the window to launch the Rs 800 crore mission was between April and November 2018. While the �targeted date� was April, Isro would launch the mission in October or November, he had said. According to Isro, Chandrayaan-2 is a �totally indigenous mission comprising an orbiter, lander and rover".

Economics

  • Import duties: Import duty is a tax collected on imports and some exports by a country's customs authorities. It is usually based on the imported good's value. Depending on the context, import duty may also be referred to as customs duty, tariff, import tax orimport tariff. India has doubled import duties on 328 textile products to 20 per cent, the second such hike in a month. The move comes after soaring imports from China and focus more on local value addition in the labour-intensive sector. The move comes amid mounting concerns that a trade war between the US and China would further aggravate dumping of cheaper products from the world�s second-biggest economy despite a weak rupee.

Defence:

  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) : It is a specialised force constituted "for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster" under the Disaster Management Act, 2005NDRF is a specialized force, which has been created in the year 2006 for the purpose of specialist response during the natural and man-made disaster or threatening situation. At present there are 12 battalions in NDRF which are deployed strategically across the country to provide immediate response. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the approval for raising of four (4) additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to strengthen the India's disaster response set up at an estimated cost of Rs 637 crore. The objective of raising four additional battalions is to reduce the response time keeping in view the vast geographic area of the country. These four battalions will initially be raised as two battalions in Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and one battalion each in Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles (ARs).

Current Affairs August 12 to August 18

International Current News

  • Vienna : It is the capital city of Austria. For the first time, Vienna has topped the rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey. The worldwide league table ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare. In the survey, Manchester saw the biggest improvement of any European city, rising by 16 places to rank 35th. Manchester's rise puts it ahead of London in the rankings by 13 places, the widest gap between the two cities since the survey began two decades ago. The EIU said Manchester's jump in the rankings was due to an improved security score. But the survey was criticised last year for demoting Manchester after the Manchester Arena attack which killed 22 victims.

National Current News

  • Pitch to MOVE: It is a new initiative launched by NITI Aayog that aims to provide budding entrepreneurs of India a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a distinguished jury. Startups working in the various fields of mobility can pitch their ideas to industry leaders and Venture Capitalists for raising investments. Winners of the event will be felicitated by the Prime Minister of India during the Global Mobility Summit. Besides, it aims to identify and incentivise the startups, which will help the Government realize its vision of Shared, Connected, Intermodal and Environment Friendly Mobility for India. The objective is to harness the latest disruption for generating employment and growth in our country. We look forward to working together with these startups.
  • Arbitration and Conciliation Bill (Amendment) 2018: It is a new bill which was passed by the Lok Sabha to help India become a hub for domestic and global arbitration for settling commercial disputes. The legislation provides for time-bound settlement of disputes as well as accountability of the arbitrator. The amendments will facilitate achieving the goal of improving institutional arbitration by establishing an independent body to lay down standards, make arbitration process more friendly, cost-effective and ensure timely disposal of arbitration cases. It provides for setting up of an independent body -- Arbitration Council of India (ACI) which will trade arbitral institution and accredit arbitrators by laying down norms. "The ACI shall frame proper rules as to how instutitions would be graded, norms to be followed, monitoring of quality and performance, and encourage training of arbitrators. The norms and accountability for the arbitrators framed by ACI would have to be "strictly followed". The bill, which amends the 1996 Act, is part of the government's efforts to encourage institutional arbitration for settlement of disputes and make India a centre of robust Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism.
  • Operation Madad and Operation Sahyog: These are the two disaster relief operation undertaken by the Indian Armed Forces in the aftermath of the floods in Kerala. Indian Army and Navy will be assisting the state administration and undertaking disaster relief operations due to unprecedented flooding in many parts of Kerala following incessant rainfall and release of excess water from Idukki and other dams.
  • Digital North East Vision 2022: The document provides a roadmap for bringing about a digital transformation of the North Eastern Region through an accelerated implementation of the various initiatives under the Digital India programme of the Government. It aims to consolidate all the disparate digital initiatives with a view to restructure, refocus and fast-track implementation in a synchronized manner under the overarching Digital India programme. It was released by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice in presence of the Chief Ministers and IT Ministers of North Eastern states in Guwahati.
  • Delhi Police: It is the Law enforcement agency for the National Capital Territory of Delhi. It does not have jurisdiction over the adjoining areas of the National Capital Region. The Delhi Police inducted India�s first all-woman Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for anti-terrorist operations. After rigorous training of around 15 months from specialists all across India and abroad, 36 women commandos from the northeastern states have been inducted into this squad. While 13 members are from Assam, rest of them hail from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Manipur.
  • Water Aerodrome: It is an area of open water used regularly by seaplanes or amphibious aircraft for landing and taking off. The Civil Aviation Ministry has approved a proposal for setting up of water aerodromes in the country, with Chilika Lake in Odisha, Sardar Sarovar Dam and Sabarmati River Front in Gujarat being identified in the first phase for development of such facilities. According to an official source, the proposal was cleared by Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued regulations in June this year, prescribing procedures and requirement for licencing of water aerodromes. Since there is no historical data on the market and demand from any airlines, the project will be done as a pilot project.
  • RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil): It is an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The initiative has been launched nearly a month after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil. FSSAI may also look at introducing regulations to ensure that companies that use large quantities of cooking oil hand it over to registered collecting agencies to convert it into biofuel. Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil. For instance: McDonald�s has already started converting used cooking oil to biodiesel from 100 outlets in Mumbai and Pune. The regulator believes India has the potential to recover 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for the production of biodiesel by 2022 through a co-ordinated action. In a statement, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said, �While biodiesel produced from used cooking oil is currently very small, but a robust ecosystem for conversion and collection is rapidly growing in India and will soon reach a sizable scale.�
  • Postal Highway Project: The highway project is being constructed in Sothern Plains of Nepal. India has issued an additional Rs. 470 million to Nepal for the Phase I of Postal Highway Project. This was given by the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Manjeev Singh where he went on presented the cheque to the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Secretary Madhusudan Adhikari at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu. The amount released will aid in maintaining a fund liquidity for the existing construction of 14 road packages that are there under the Postal Highway Project. The postal highway is also called as Hulaki Rajmarg. It basically runs across Terai region of Nepal that comes from Bhadrapur in the east to Dodhara in the west side, which cuts across the entire width of the country. This is considered as one of the oldest highways of Nepal that was constructed by Padma Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana and Juddha Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana that helped in aiding transportation and also facilitate postal services that covered the entire Himalayan nation.

Economics:

  • Axis Bank: Axis Bank is the third largest of the private-sector banks in India offering a comprehensive suite of financial products. Axis Bank has become the first bank in the country to introduce Iris Scan Authentication feature for Aadhaar based transactions through its micro ATM tablets. This service, which requires a customer to scan their iris on a tablet, will boost the bank's financial inclusion efforts by making Aadhaar authentication process hassle-free and offering easier access to digital banking for consumers especially in the rural parts of the country. Micro ATMs completely eliminate the requirement of debit cards, passwords, PINs, and user IDs, and empower consumers to avail banking services using only their Aadhaar numbers and biometrics (iris scan/fingerprint scan). The bank has deployed highly secure iris powered micro ATM tablets which are STQC certified and UIDAI compliant registered devices with completely integrated iris sensors.

Science and Technology

  • Laboratory of Conservation of Endangered Species: It is a first of its kind genetic resource bank, which could have far reaching implications in conservation and revival of extinct and endangered species in the near future. It was inaugurated at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology�s (CCMB) Laboratory of Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) facility. It is dubbed as National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank and inaugurated by Union Minister for Science and Technology and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the genetic bank will cryopreserve living cell lines, gametes and embryos of endangered wild animal species in India. Such a genetic bank will be a priceless resource material for conservation, taking up artificial reproduction, conducting studies in evolution biology and wildlife medicine. This is the first-of-its-kind facility in India where genetic material will be stored for posterity and will be a ready reckoner for future generations. Biotechnology research in basic Biology is developing at a very fast pace and in coming years, there will be a definite need for such resources. The CCMB-LaCONES is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing blackbuck, spotted deer and pigeons. The operating costs for maintaining such a genetic resource bank at CCMB-LaCONES will be around Rs 1 crore a year.
  • Aerogel : It is a new transparent heat-resistant gel developed using beer waste. The material which features the look like a flattened plastic contact lens, could also be used on buildings on Mars, Earth to help make huge savings on energy costs. The gel is so resistant to heat that you could put a strip of it on the hand and a fire on top without feeling a thing, researchers said. However, unlike similar products on the market, the material is mostly see-through.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. India will send a human to space by 2022, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day speech. The project would cost about Rs 100 billion. If India succeeds, it will be the fourth country to achieve this landmark. Modi said, �I want to give the country some good news: We have resolved that by 2022, before we celebrate 75 years of Independence, India will place an Indian in space. India is proud of our scientists, who are excelling in their research and are at the forefront of innovation. In 2022, or if possible before, India will unfurl the tricolour in space�. K VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was well on track to do this. Technologies being used and developed will have many benefits to society

Current Affairs August 19 to August 25

International Current News

  • Iran : Iran is an Islamic republic on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire. Iran has unveiled its first domestically manufactured fighter jet named �Kowsar�. The Kowsar can be used for "short aerial support missions" and is equipped with systems that "promote precision targeting. Iran is currently under economic and diplomatic pressure from a raft of sanctions re-imposed by the United States earlier this month, and the unveiling could be seen as a bid to show self-sufficiency and military might in the face of that pressure.
  • World Bank: World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital project. The World Bank has priced the world�s first public bond created and managed using only blockchain in a A$100 million ($73.16 million) deal designed to test how the technology might improve decades-old bond sales practices. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is the sole manager of the deal. The two-year bonds had priced to yield 2.251% and would settle 28 August. The prototype deal, dubbed a �Bondi� bond - standing for Blockchain Operated New Debt Instrument as well as a reference to Australia�s most famous beach � is being viewed as an initial step in moving bond sales away from manual processes towards faster and cheaper automation.
  • Sweden: It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains. Its principal cities, eastern capital Stockholm and southwestern Gothenburg and Malm�, are all coastal. Sweden has released a handbook of its "feminist foreign policy" for rights groups and foreign governments, showcasing lessons from the nation's flagship approach to promote women's rights globally. The manual was published on the Swedish government's website. It is derived from four years of work to place gender equality at the heart of the country's international agenda. It has been led by Sweden�s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom since its inception in 2014. Sweden began its feminist foreign policy in response to the discrimination and systematic subordination that still marks the daily lives of countless women and girls around the world. The manual stated that while gender equality was "an object in itself," it was "essential" in achieving more general government objectives, like peace, security and sustainable development.

National Current News

  • Telengana: It is a state in the south of India. It is situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. Government of Telangana launched for the first time Disaster Response Force (DRF) vehicles in the Hyderabad city. According to government sources, the vehicles will be parked at 24 locations with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) DRF staff and they will reach the emergency spots in no time. Director of Vigilance, Enforcement and Disaster Management, GHMC, Viswajeet Kampati said, �The main aim to start this DRF is that a state should have its own Disaster force. Basically they have been trained in tackling of flooding, tree falls, structural collapses and any other site of normal emergencies. DRF has been first brought on to the ground with 120 personal with 8 specialised vehicles and other equipment�s which are required. Soon we are going to increase the number of vehicles, equipments and all the other special apparatuses that are required. They can continuously work in flooding. The Force also after starting has carried out rescue operations and saved couple of lives. The Disaster personal will be available on the field for 24/7."
  • NITI Aayog: The NITI Aayog, also National Institution for Transforming India, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. It has launched 5 Thematic Reports on Indian Himalayan Region. NITI Aayog had already set up these 5 Working Groups (WGs) in June 2017 to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas. The themes include: Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security, Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region, Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation, Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas and Data/Information for Informed Decision Making. While these thematic areas are quite significant for the Himalayas. Mountain specificities require specific solutions for resilience building that address socio-economic and environmental challenges in the mountain setting. The reports from the five working groups discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap.
  • Panini: He was a Sanskrit grammarian who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Sanskrit was the classical literary language of the Indian Hindus and Panini is considered the founder of the language and literature. It is a was an ancient Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and a revered scholar in Hinduism. External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj has inaugurated 'Panini Language Laboratory' at Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI) in Mauritius. The lab, gifted by the Indian government, will help MGI in teaching Indian languages in Mauritius. Swaraj said that similar laboratories equipped with all modern technologies and similar facilities need to be build up in India also to promote Hindi and regional languages. Education Minister of Mauritius Leela Devi Dookun and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion. Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh also paid floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi statue at the institute.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs): It is a new initiative launched by Home Ministry which enforces ATM Cash filling. In a notification, the Home Ministry said the new Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) would come into effect from February 8, 2019 in view of the spurt in incidents of attacks on cash vans, cash vaults, ATM frauds and other internal frauds leading to increased sense of insecurity. There are over 8,000 privately owned cash vans plying across the country, operated by non-bank private agencies, and they handle over Rs 15,000 crore daily on behalf of banks. Some times, the private agencies keep currency overnight at their cash vaults. No cash loading of the ATMs or cash transportation activities shall be done after 9 pm in urban areas, after 6 pm in rural areas and before 9 am or after 4 pm in the districts notified by the central government as Left Wing Extremism affected areas. The agencies shall provide private security for the cash transportation with the requisite number of trained staff, every cash van shall have one driver, two armed security guards, two ATM officers or custodians. One armed guard must sit in the front along with the driver and another in the rear portion of the van while in transit. During loading or unloading, nature's call, tea or lunch break, at least one armed security guard shall remain present with the cash van all the time.
  • IIT Kharagpur: It is the first public engineering institution established by the government of India in 1951. IIT Kharagpur will set up a Re-Water Research Center, seed-funded by two alumni members to replenish and rejuvenate water resources. The centre will aim to tackle the challenge of resolving two burning issues faced by urban India sewage disposal and access to clean potable water. The institute is setting up an on-campus plant which will convert 1.35 million litre of sewage water from the hostels to 1.2 million litre of potable water, on a daily basis. The pilot plant is expected to be ready by March 2019.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: It is a ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. It has notified a new set of specified health warnings for all tobacco products � manufactured or imported or packaged on or after September 1 � to be displayed on the packets. The new set of specified health warning for all tobacco product packs has been brought in by making an amendment in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008 vide GSR 331(E) dated April 3, 2018, �Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products [Packaging and Labelling] Second Amendment Rules, 2018�. The amended rules will be applicable with effect from September 1, 2018.
  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) : It is a nodal agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code. Centre has directed NCRB as the designated nodal agency for monitoring the complaints received on a government portal that records child pornography and sexual violence videos. The decision was taken after a high-level meeting was convened to discuss recommendations on ways to curb �sexual violence� videos involving women and children. The NCRB would coordinate with service providers such as Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp and ask them to block malicious videos and contents.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) : It is a government body is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety FSSAI has notifies standards for honey and its products to curb adulteration. The move comes in the wake of government promoting farmers to venture into the beekeeping business to increase their income. The standards will help fetch farmers better prices for their products. At present, there are no separate quality standards for honey and its products. Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said, �We have notified the standards for honey and its products recently. This will help address adulteration. Both domestic manufacturers and importers will have to comply with the new norms�. As per the FSSAI notification, honey should comply with 18 parameters like that of sucrose content, glucose ratio, pollen count, foreign oligosaccharides among others. The FSSAI has fixed maximum 5 per cent limit for sucrose content in the honey, while 10 per cent for carviacallosa and Honeydew honey. The moisture percentage should be maximum 20 per cent and pollen count should be 25,000 per gram. With regard to by-products, the FSSAI has fixed standards for 'Bees wax' and 'royal jelly' also.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC): It is a government body created for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in university education. University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a notice to Vice Chancellors of all universities requesting them to ensure strict adherence to the advisory issued in November 2016, which calls for banning junk food in colleges. A similar move was made earlier by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which had directed all affiliated schools to take junk food off their canteen menu. At the time, schools were also asked to inspect lunch boxes of students, create awareness about nutritious food and regularly monitor students� health.
  • National Logistics Portal: It is new portal being developed to ensure ease of trading in the international and domestic markets, as India eyes lowering logistics cost from14 per cent of GDP to less than 10 per cent by 2022. The portal will link all the stakeholders of export-import, domestic trade and all trade activities on a single platform. The portal will be implemented in phases and will fulfil the commitment of the government of India to enhance trade competitiveness, create jobs, boost India's performance in global rankings and pave the way for India to become a logistics hub. It will act as a single window online market place for trade. It will connect business, create opportunities and bring together various ministries, departments and the private sector. Stakeholders like traders, manufacturers, logistics service providers, infrastructure providers, financial services, government departments and groups and associations will all be on one platform.It also involves12 million employment base, 200 shipping agencies, 36logisticsservices, 50 IT ecosystems and banks and insurance agencies. Further,81 authorities and 500certificatesare required for EXIM.

Current Affairs August 26 to Sep 01

International Current News

  • World Bank: World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. World Bank and state-owned EESL inked a $220 million loan agreement and $80 million guarantee pact to push energy efficiency programme in India. To be implemented by EESL, the programme will help scale up the deployment of energy saving measures in residential and public sectors, strengthen EESL's institutional capacity, and enhance its access to commercial financing. The $220 million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years. The Government of India, the EESL, and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a $220 million Loan Agreement and a $80 million Guarantee Agreement for the India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program.

National Current News

  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA): It is a series of Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms "disturbed areas". The Assam Government has issued a notification declaring the entire State as �a disturbed area� and extending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for six more months as a precautionary measure to maintain order during the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process. The final NRC is likely to be published by the end of the year.
  • PM-STIAC: It is a new advisory committee formed to advise the Prime Minister of India relating to policy matters related to science, technology and innovation. It will be chaired by K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government. Among the key 9 permanent members are VK Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog and former DG of DRDO; A S Kiran Kumar, ex-Chairman, ISRO; Baba Kalyani, MD of Bharat Forge, Sangamitra Bandopadhyay, Director, Indian Statistical Institute, Manjul Bhargava, Princeton University, US & Field Medal winner in Mathematics; Madhuri Kanitkar of Armed Forces Medical College; Ajay Sood, IISc; and Subhash Kak, Oklahoma University, US.
  • Wind power: It is the use of air flow through wind turbines to provide the mechanical power to turn Induction generators for producing electricity. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that 126 MW wind power capacity, part of country's first inter-state transmission system (ISTS) auction, is commissioned in Bhuj. State run Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd (SECI) had conducted India's first auction of wind power projects in February 2017 in which tariff of Rs 3.46 was discovered, which was much lower than feed in tariffs in vogue those days. This was a 1,000 MW bid for projects to be connected on ISTS (inter-state transmission system) wherein power generated from one state (renewable resource rich state) could be transmitted to other renewable deficient states. Mytrah, Inox, Ostro, Green Infa and Adani were winners under this auction.
  • Drones: It is an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system; which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced the Drone Regulations 1.0 at a press conference here today. These regulations will enable the safe, commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018. Drone Regulations 1.0 are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).
  • Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE): They are those companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more. Steel CPSE have unveiled the corporate sports policy for Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs). The policy will provide a framework for promotion of sports by Steel Ministry CPSEs. It will strive to groom medal aspirants for the Olympic Games. CPSEs will discharge their responsibility through infrastructural and institutional support for talent spotting, scholarships, training and coaching.
  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): It is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India. The board will help Kerala students get their education certificates back in case they might have lost them in the floods through its digital repository. CBSE has 1,300 schools in Kerala affiliated to it. The students of these schools can retrieve their mark-sheets, migration certificate, and pass certificate from CBSE''s digital academic repository called ''Parinam Manjusha''. This academic repository has been integrated with DigiLocker, a government storehouse of documents. The CBSE will re-send login-id and password of Parinam Manjusha/DigiLocker pertaining to students of the year 2016-2018 on their mobile numbers provided with Class X or XII data.

Defence

  • INS Vikramaditya: It is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier which entered into service with the Indian Navy in 2013. She has been renamed in honour of Vikramaditya, a legendary emperor of Ujjain, India. India's only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will be fitted with a marine hydraulic system to boost the air operations of the ship. Hydraulics technology uses fluid pressure to power machines. Technodinamika, a subsidiary of Russia's Rostec State Corporation, will install the system in the Indian Navy Ship by May 2019. The marine hydraulic systems, whose technical terms go by "GS-1MF" and "GS-3", are used for refuelling, cleaning and pressurisation of hydraulic systems of aircraft and helicopters on board the INS Vikramaditya. The GS-1MF hydraulic system is used in helicopters, while GS-3 is used in aircraft.
  • Utility helicopter: It is a multi-purpose helicopter. A utility military helicopter can fill roles such as ground attack, air assault, military logistics, medical evacuation, command and control, and troop transport. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved procurement proposals worth about Rs 46,000 crore, including that of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. The DAC, in a landmark decision today, approved procurement of 111 Utility Helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore. This is the first project under the MoD's prestigious Strategic Partnership model that aims at providing significant fillip to the government's 'Make in India' programme.

Science and Technology

  • Innovation Cell: Innovation cell is Ministry of Human Resource and Development�s initiative and has been established at AICTE premises with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country. The primary mandate of Innovation Cell is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years fostered through Network of Innovation clubs in Higher Educational Institutions. In yet another game changing initiative, the Union Minister for HRD, Shri Prakash Javadekar and Union Minister of State for HRD, Dr. Satya Pal Singh launched the Innovation Cell at AICTE, New Delhi.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. ) ISRO has unveiled India's Gaganyaan programme for manned space flight before 2022 as announced by the Prime Minister on the Independence Day. The manned mission to space having 3 crew members will be in space for 5-7 days. After the takeoff, the manned flight will reach the orbit in 16 minutes. The crew, while coming back to the Earth, could land in the Arabian Sea off the Gujarat coast or in the Bay of Bengal or even on land, he added. He said the mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day with the help of GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle. The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km and the total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crores.
  • European Space Agency (ESA): It is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. ESA has successfully launched wind-sensing satellite named Aeolus into orbit on board of Vega rocket from French Guyana. It is world�s first wind-sensing satellite dedicated to map Earth�s wind on global scale in particular tropical winds which are very poorly mapped because of almost complete absence of direct observations. The satellite is Aeolus named after guardian of wind in Greek mythology. It will be placed at altitude of 320km above the Earth. It is part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations.
  • Jatropha: Jatropha is a genus of flowering plants in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. The name is derived from the Greek words meaning "physician", hence the common name physic nut. A blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel propelled the country�s first ever bio jet fuel-powered flight on Monday between Dehradun and Delhi. The 43 minute flight was operated by SpiceJet�s Bombardier Q-400 aircraft with 20 officials and five crew members on board. A blend of 25% of bio jet fuel and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was carried in one of the two engines of the plane, while the other engine carried only ATF. International standards permit a blend rate of upto 50% biofuel with ATF.
  • E-Cigaratte: It is a handheld electronic device that simulates the feeling of tobacco smoking. Union Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction. Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, E-Shisha and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs, and have prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory for the other States to follow suit. �ENDS products are a great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age. States and Union Territories are advised in larger public health interest, and in order to prevent the initiation of ENDS by non-smokers and youth, with special attention to vulnerable groups, to ensure that ENDS are not sold...,� it said. Thirty countries including Australia, Singapore and Sri Lanka have already brought in such bans.
  • Influenza: It is a commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. The Indian government and the European Union (EU) has joined hands for Rs. 240 crore research programme to develop a Next Generation Influenza Vaccine to protect citizens worldwide. Both the EU and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) ), Government of India, have also committed EUR 15 million each to fund this joint call for the program named "Horizon 2020".


Current Affairs - September 2018


Current Affairs September 02 to September 08

International Current News

  • Bulgaria: It is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, a mountainous interior and rivers, including the Danube. India and Bulgaria have signed four MoUs in fields of Civil Nuclear cooperation, investment, Tourism and establishment of Hindi chair at Sofia University. The deals were signed after President Ramnath Kovind and his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev held talks in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Both countries also signed program of Cooperation on science and Technology. These agreements were signed after President Ram Nath Kovind visited Bulgaria on the second leg of his three-nation visit which includes Cyprus, Czech Republic to Europe to continue India high-level engagements with the European countries. It should be noted that President Kovind was fifth Indian President to visit Bulgaria and first in 15 years.
  • Indus Water Treaty (IWT): It is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan (1960). India and Pakistan have agreed to undertake the Indus Waters Treaty mandated tours by their Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides to resolve issues on the various hydroelectric projects, including the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai in Jammu and Kashmir. After the conclusion of the two-day high-level bilateral talks on the Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore, the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Imran Khan became Prime Minister on August 18, the External Affairs Ministry said deliberations were held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) for matters under the 1960 Treaty.
  • Cyprus: It is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean. India and Cyprus have signed two agreements on combating money laundering and cooperation in the field of environment. According to an official release, the two agreements were signed after wide-ranging talks between President Ram Nath Kovind and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia (capital of Cyprus). President Kovind is visiting the Cyprus on the first leg of his three-nation visit to Europe including Bulgaria and Czech Republic to continue India's high-level engagements with European countries. The MoU on combating money laundering was signed between Financial Intelligence Unit, India, and Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus. This agreement will further strengthen institutional framework to facilitate investment cross-flows. Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between both the countries was revised in 2016.

National Current News

  • Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project: It is a new tourism project sanctioned by Union Ministry for Tourism to improve tourism cruises in the state of Kerala. The project will be launched under Swadesh Darshan Scheme for development of a rural circuit in Kerala through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The ministry will be developing three cruises with a budget of Rs 80.37 crores. The project will be focusing on the development of water-based thematic cruise experiences in and around Valapattanam and Kuppam Rivers of Kannur District. Three thematic cruises being developed under this project will be on Valapattanam and Kuppam River.
  • National Mission on Government e Marketplace (GeM): It is a mission launched by Government of India to accelerate the adoption and use of GeM by major central Ministries, State Governments and their agencies. It aims to promote inclusiveness, transparency and efficiency in public procurement and achieve cashless, contactless and paperless transaction. This will increase overall efficiency and lead to cost saving on government expenditure in procurement. Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: It is a ministry which deals with the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India. Ministry has approved a proposal by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to increase the wages of artisans by over 36 percent. According to the proposal, the wages will be increased from Rs 5.50 per hank previously to Rs 7.50 per hank. Wage increase will be along with payment of government subsidy Modified Market Development Assistance (MMDA), will be implemented (with effect from August 15, 2018).
  • Homosexuality: It is a romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. The Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, unanimously held that criminalisation of private consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was clearly unconstitutional. Besides, the bench also prayed to the LGBTQ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) to forgive history for subjecting them to brutal suppression. The court, however, held that the Section would apply to unnatural sexual acts like bestiality. Sexual act without consent continues to be a crime under Section 377. In four concurring opinions, the Constitution Bench declared the 156-year-old tyranny of Section 377 irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary. Section 377 thus far punished homosexuality with 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Law Commission of India: It is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government. Law commission has released a consultation paper on family law reforms which discusses a range of provisions within all family laws, secular or personal, and suggests a number of changes to in the form of potential amendments and fresh enactments. As general suggestions to reforming family law, the paper discusses the introduction of new grounds for no fault divorce accompanied by corresponding changes to provisions on alimony and maintenance, rights of differently-abled individuals within marriage, the thirty-day period for registration of marriages under Special Marriage Act; uncertainty and inequality in age of consent for marriage, compulsory registration of marriage, bigamy upon conversion etc.
  • Other Backward Class (OBC) : It is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are socially or educationally or economically disadvantaged. The OBCs were found to comprise 52% of the country's population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, a figure which had shrunk to 41% by 2006 when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place. In a move considered politically sensitive ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, government has decided to collect data on Other Backwards Castes (OBCs) in Census 2021. The ruling government is expected to highlight the decision to collect OBC data in the 2021 census in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as several OBC groups have been demanding for it for long.
  • Krishna Kutir : It is a special home for 1000 widows set up by the Ministry of Women & Child Development under Swadhar Greh scheme of the Ministry and is the largest ever facility of its kind created by a government organization. The Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, alongwith Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath Yogi inaugurated the widows home Krishna Kutir at a function at Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The home will offer shelter and protection to the large number of helpless widows of Vrindavan. An area of 4 acres has now been allocated near the home by the district administration which will be developed into a park and which can be used by the widows of the home, she disclosed. The WCD Minister further added that widows will be a part of various committees which will be formed to manage the widows home.
  • Coffee Connect : It is a new mobile app launched by Ministry for Commerce and Industry to ease the work of field functionaries and improve work efficiency. This application provides solution by harnessing the power of mobility comprising the latest technology in easing the whole process of the field activities like digitization of Coffee Growers & Estates with Geo Tagging, collecting the Plantation details. It will also help in transparency in the activities of the extension officers and officials, transparency in subsidy disbursement and real time report generation.
  • Coffee KrishiTharanga : It is a digital mobile extension services for coffee stakeholders launched by Ministry for Commerce and Industry. It aims to offer customized information and services to increase productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability. The customised services are two ways, 24 X 7 service supports. The Coffee KrishiTharanga is pilot tested in the Chikmagalur and Hassan districts of Karnataka State covering 30,000 farmers during the first year and will be extended to remaining growers in a phased manner.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: It is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the draft of patients rights. The draft, prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has been put up on the Health Ministry's website for comments and suggestions. According to a notice issued by Joint Secretary Sudhir Kumar, the Ministry plans to implement the Charter of Patients Rights through State governments for provision of proper health care by clinical establishments. According to a government official, Although some States have adopted the national Clinical Establishments Act 2010 and certain others have enacted their own State-level legislations to regulate hospitals, there is no consolidated document on patients rights that can be followed by all States uniformly.
  • NITI Aayog : National Institution for Transforming India, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has urged the government to set up a dedicated mission to save the spring water systems in the Himalayan states. The group noted in its report titled Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security that almost half of the perennial springs have already dried up or have become seasonal and tens of thousands of villages are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes. Almost 60% of low-discharge springs that provided water to small habitations in the Himalayan region have reported clear decline during the last couple of decades.

Sports Updates

  • Asian Games: India brought a total of 69 medals 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze from the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia. This medal tally was bigger than the medal count from 2010 Games in Guangzhou, China. The 2018 Asian Games is the 18th edition of the continental Games. It is the first time that the sporting extravaganza is being co-hosted by two cities. Jakarta and Palembang are the two Indonesian cities that are hosting the Games. This edition will be held from 18th August to 2nd September 2018 and will see around 10,000 athletes from 45 countries competing in 58 disciplines. Indonesia is hosting the Asian Games for the second time after the Jakarta Asian Games in 1962. Apart from this, it was also India's best ever overall medal tally, equalling country's joint-best effort at the Asian Games since the inaugural edition in 1951. The total of 24 silver medals is also the highest ever in Asiad history for India.

Science and Technology

  • Gaganyaan Mission: It is India's maiden human spaceflight programme. The mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 72nd Independence Day speech. It is India's first manned space mission that will be launched by ISRO by 2022. The mission will send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days. The crew will do microgravity experiment during the mission. The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years. GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, having the necessary payload capability for this mission, will be used to launch Gaganyaan. The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission. So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions. India and France have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to constitute a working group for Gaganyaan Mission, India's first manned space mission. The French space agency CNES and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be combining their expertise in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems. The ambit of the cooperation includes ISRO's access to space hospital facilities in France. Both the sides have decided that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations or the MEDES space clinic will be used for training of future Indian astronauts. French-Indian space cooperation includes climate monitoring, with a fleet of joint satellites devoted to research and operational applications. The two countries also have plans to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.
  • Space Elevator: It is a proposed type of planet-to-space transportation system. The main component would be a cable anchored to the surface and extending into space. Researchers from Shizuoka University, Japan are planning to conduct world's first experiment to test small prototype of space elevator in space by using two mini satellites. According to official sources, two ultra-small cubic satellites developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering will be used for demonstration of space elevator technology. Each satellite measures 10 centimeters each side. Roughly 10-meter-long steel cable will be employed to connect twin satellites. The pair of satellites will be released from International Space Station (ISS) and container acting like elevator car will be moved on cable connecting satellites using motor. The movement of motorised elevator box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.
  • Google: It is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google has announces new AI technology to combat online child sexual abuse. Google said its cutting-edge AI technology uses deep neural networks for image processing to help discover and detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The new tool based on the deep neural networks will be made available for free to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other "industry partners," including other technology companies, via a new Content Safety API service that could be offered upon request.

Economics:

  • Vodafone Idea Ltd: It is a new entity created after the government has approved the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. It will be country's largest mobile phone operator worth more than $23 billion with a 35 per cent market share. The Department of Telecommunication has given its stamp of approval for the amalgamation after the two firms provided for Rs. 7,248.78 crore as one-time spectrum charge (OTSC). The combined entity, Vodafone Idea Ltd, with nearly 430 million customers would overtake Bharti Airtel, which currently has 344 million users. The deal also comes at a time of raging price war, triggered by new entrant Reliance Jio, in the world's second-largest telecom market.
  • India Post Payment Bank : It is a Payments bank headquartered in New delhi. It is a goverment owned Public limited company which was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. Department of Posts that will take banking to the doorstep of every citizen through an unmatched network of post offices and almost 3 lakh postmen and Grameen Dak Sewaks.
  • E Pharmacy: It is a pharmacy that operates over the Internet and sends the orders to customers through the mail or shipping companies. Health Ministry has released a new draft rules for online pharmacies. According to the rules, e-pharmacies will need to register with the government of India to sell medicines through the internet. The new draft rules require online pharmacies to be registered with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and obtain a trade licence applicable across India from any state government. As per the estimates, the total e-pharma industry is less than 0.5% of the retail pharmacy landscape currently, but is growing at more than 100% rate.
  • Asia Index : It is a joint venture between S&P Dow Jones Indices and BSE Ltd. The company has announced the launch of an index designed to measure the performance of private banks. The S&P BSE Private Banks Index is drawn from the constituents of the S&P BSE Finance Index, the Asia's oldest exchange. Only common stocks classified as Banks by the BSE Sector Classification model and that are not classified under the BSE scrip category as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) are eligible. The index is calculated in Indian Rupees and US Dollar and is calculated real-time by BSE, said the exchange.

Defence

  • F 16: It is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. In a major boost to the Make in India initiative, American security and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin announced that the wings of its F-16 fighter jets will be produced in India. According to official sources, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin has entered into an agreement with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) for the project. Lockheed officials insisted that the planned F-16 wing production to India was not contingent on India selecting the F-16 for the Indian Air Force. Lockheed has offered to move its entire F-16 manufacturing base to India. India is yet to make a decision on it.

Current Affairs September 09 to September 15

International Current News

  • Pakistan: It is a country in South Asia and on crossroads of East Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. Pakistan currently has around 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by next decade, according to a latest report by authors keeping a track of the country's nukes. Hans M Kristensen, Robert S Norris and Julia Diamond said in the report 'Pakistani nuclear forces 2018' said, the current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020. Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems.
  • Bangladesh: It is a South Asian country marked by lush greenery and many waterways. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have jointly inaugurated multiple projects in Bangladesh. The projects which were announced through video conferencing include supply of 500 MW additional power supply from India to Bangladesh through Baharampur - Bheramara interconnection was unveiled by Prime Minister Modi, Bangladeshi counterpart Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The second project -- construction work of the Bangladesh part of Akhaura-Agartala railway link was inaugurated by Indian and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers, and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb. The third project on the rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railways was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister of both the countries.
  • BIMSTEC: Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting contiguous regional unity. It was established on 6 June 1997 through Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Its member countries are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar, Thailand from South East Asia. They are collectively home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of global population. BIMSTEC's main objective is to promote technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and south-east Asian countries along coast of the Bay of Bengal. The grouping is sector-driven cooperative organization, started in 2006 with six sector including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries. In 2008, it was expanded to embrace eight more sectors including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.
  • Milex 18: It is a theme of the exercise is counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain. Its main aim is to promote strategic alignment among member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism. The exercise will include training in operations like search-and-cordon operations, search and destroy and handling and neutralisation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among other things. Each participating member country will be represented by platoon sized contingents including around 30 soldiers (including five officers, 25 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and personnel of other ranks). As part of this exercise, conclave of Army chiefs of all seven member-states is also being planned. In it, army chiefs will debate challenge of terrorism and transnational crime, which is major concern among all states and discuss ways to promote collective cooperation. Through this exercise India is trying to achieve in cooperative defense diplomacy. It is also looking forward to initiate process of sharing counter-terrorism strategies among armies of member nations in the region. India also wants to start a dialogue, sharing of procedures, thoughts, processes and certainly strategies to deal with terrorism collectively in region. BIMSTEC countries had held disaster management exercise in 2017 in New Delhi, but this will be first military exercise of the grouping.

National Current News

  • National Institute of Design: It is an autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. NID is recognised by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research under Ministry of Science and Technology, government of India, as a scientific and industrial design research organisation. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of Bill in Parliament for amendment of NID Act, 2014 to include the four new National Institutes of Design (NID) viz. National Institute of Design, Amaravati/Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh; National Institute of Design, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh; National Institute of Design, Jorhat, Assam and National Institute of Design, Kurukshetra, Haryana within the ambit of the National Institute of Design Act, 2014 and to declare them as Institutions of National Importance (INIs) at par with the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Some minor amendments to the Act including consequential amendments considered necessary namely, to re-name NID Vijayawada as NID Amaravati and nomenclature of Principal Designer as equivalent to Professor are also proposed in the Bill.
  • Fixed-dose combination drugs: These are combination drugs produced when two or more active drugs combine in a fixed ratio into a single dosage. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution of 328 fixed dose combinations (FDCs) for human use with immediate effect. It has also restricted the manufacture, sale or distribution of six FDCs, subject to certain conditions. Earlier, the Central Government had, through its notifications published on the March 10, 2016 in the Gazette of India, prohibited 344 FDCs under Section 26 A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Subsequently, the Government had prohibited five more FDCs under the same provisions.
  • Kempegowda International Airport: It is an international airport serving Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Spread over 4,000 acres, it is located about 40 kilometres north of the city near the village of Devanahalli. is set to become the first airport in Asia next year to use face recognition as the boarding procedure for passengers. According to an agreement signed by Hari Marar, CEO of Bengaluru International Airport Ltd. (BIAL), which operates KIA, and Miguel Leitmann, CEO of Vision Box, a Portuguese software firm, signed an agreement to this effect in Lisbon on September 5 to introduce face recognition technology at the airport from 2019. The agreement was signed in the presence of Indian-origin Portuguese Prime Minister Antnio Costa and India's Ambassador to Portugal Nandini Singla.
  • Odisha : It is an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, is known for its tribal cultures and its many ancient Hindu temples. Odisha Assembly has passed a resolution for setting up a Legislative Council in the state. Speaking on the resolution, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, Odisha has picked up growth momentum and to further accelerate growth, wider consultations are necessary. In this context legislative council will be of great help. The resolution was passed as it got support of 104 of the 147 members of the Assembly while opposition Congress and BJP stayed away from the House.
  • Accredited social health activists (ASHA): They are community health workers instituted by the government of India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as a part of the National Rural Health Mission. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a landmark increase in remuneration for ASHA and Anganwadi workers. The announcement which will be effective from next month was made during a video bridge interaction with lakhs of ASHA, Anganwadi and ANM workers. The Prime Minister announced the doubling of routine incentives given by the government to ASHA workers. In addition, all ASHA workers and their helpers would be provided free insurance cover under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Prime Minister Suraksha Bima Yojana. Prime Minister also announced a significant increase in the honorarium given to Anganwadi workers. Those receiving 3000 rupees so far, would now receive 4500 rupees. Those receiving 2200, would now get 3500 rupees. The honorarium for Anganwadi helpers has also been increased from 1500 to 2250 rupees.

Environment

  • Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) : It is an Indian multinational oil and gas company earlier headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has made oil and gas discoveries in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal that may potentially open up two new sedimentary basins in the country. ONGC had previously opened six out of India's seven producing basins for commercial production. It is in the process of adding the eighth by putting Kutch offshore on the oil and gas map of India. ONGC has drilled four wells after the discovery and will now hydro-frack it by the end of the year to test commerciality of the finds. Similarly, an oil and gas discovery has been made in a well in Ashok Nagar of 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. One lakh cubic meters per day of gas flowed from one object that was tested. Now, the firm would go for appraisal of the find, only after which commercially exploitable reserves could be established. The company is on the way to putting the Kutch offshore discovery to production. This would make Kutch India's eighth sedimentary basin. Cauvery was the last Category-I producing basin which was discovered in 1985.
  • Snow leopard: It is a large cat native to mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia's remote Altai mountains. It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations. It mostly feed on wild animals, but also prey on livestock. It usually hunts at dawn and dusk and is able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. In India, it is found in states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. Snow leopard was spotted at height of about 4,000 metres in Lippa-Asra wildlife sanctuary in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The animal's picture was captured by camera-trap installed by State Wildlife Department. These findings have ascertained that snow leopards inhabit new areas. The sanctuary is part of district Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh and also is part of Moorang town.

Economy

  • Debt Recovery Tribunals(DRTs): These are institutions established to facilitate the debt recovery involving banks and other financial institutions with their customers. DRTs were set up after the passing of Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDBBFI), 1993. Appeals against orders passed by DRTs lie before Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT). Aiming to reduce the pendency of cases in the 39 Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRT) in the country, the Centre on Thursday doubled the limit for filing loan recovery applications by banks and financial institutions from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. A Finance Ministry notification, The pecuniary limit from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for filing application for recovery of debts in the Debts Recovery Tribunals by such banks and financial institutions.
  • Block Chain: It is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. The Cabinet has approved an agreement on collaborative research on distributed ledger and blockchain in context of the development of digital economy by Exim Bank with the participating member banks under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism. According to an official release, the MoU intends to enhance understanding of Distributed Ledger/Block Chain technology, through the joint research efforts to identify areas within respective business operations where it may have the potential for applications aimed at enhancing the operational efficiencies. The ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was given by the Cabinet chaired Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Distributed Ledger/Blockchain technology holds potential for solutions to various challenges being faced in the financial sector space of the BRICS nations.

Defence

  • BH205-E: It is the country's first 205T Electric Drive Rear Dump Truck. The vehicle was the developed by BEML Limited, a defence public sector company, with an objective of strengthening the 'Make in India' initiative. This new rear dump truck is expected to address the growing demand for higher capacity equipment in the mining industry. BH205E, electric drive rear dump truck for large scale mining operations, is powered by Tier -II emission compliant Modular Common Rail Electronic Engine with 2300 HP. The AC drive system has been engineered to provide exceptional haul road performance with reduced maintenance. The Dump Truck is environmental friendly in relation to mechanical drive due to its superior efficiency. State of the art AC drive system has been engineered for best in class efficiency and reliability. Consumption of transmission oil, final drive and brake cooling oil are eliminated reducing the environmental impact over its life cycle. The dump truck weighs 335 tons when fully loaded but is easily maneuverable with power-steering and short turning radius. Emphasis has been accorded to operators comfort while designing the machine and it has an ergonomically designed dash board and tiltable telescopic steering wheel. Other salient features of the truck include good visibility in addition to safety features with provisions for emergency steering, breaking and proximity warning.

Current Affairs September 16 to September 22

International Current News

  • Bangladesh: It is a South Asian country marked by lush greenery and many waterways. The Indian government's efforts to enhance connectivity between the North-Eastern region and rest of the country has received a shot in the arm after the Bangladeshi cabinet approved a proposed agreement with India enabling India to use the Chattogram and Mongla ports for goods movement to the North-East. Bangladesh Cabinet has approved use of its Chattogram & Mongla ports for Indian shipments to north-eastern states of India. Priority will be given according to the capacity of the ports. Bangladesh will also collect customs duties & transport costs according to the GATT principles.
  • India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project: It is a pipeline project jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. The Pipeline Project will connect Siliguri in West Bengal in India and Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh. The Rs 346 crore project will be completed in 30 months and the capacity of the pipeline will be one million metric tonnes per annum. Both countries had entered into an agreement for the pipeline construction in April this year during Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale's visit to Dhaka. The project will boost the friendship between India and Bangladesh and the pipeline will help fulfill energy needs of Bangladesh at cheaper rates.

National Current News

  • Chiller: It is a machine that removes heat from a liquid via a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. They are used extensively for space conditioning of buildings and for industrial process cooling applications. The size of Indian chiller market which stood at 1 Million Tonne per year at 2017, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.6 per cent fuelled by a growth in the retail, hospitality and infrastructure projects. Chillers, being energy intensive system, contribute more than 40 per cent of the total energy consumption in commercial buildings. Therefore, it is important to optimize energy performance of chillers and create awareness amongst the end users to adopt transition towards energy efficient chillers. Ministry of Power under the Government of India launched an ambitious program to encourage the deployment of Energy Efficient chiller systems in the country here today. The Chiller Star Labelling Program has been formulated by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The program envisages providing star rating in terms of its energy performance. Initially, the program is launched on voluntary basis and will be valid upto 31st December 2020.
  • Smart fence pilot project : It is an unique project launched by Government of India along the India-Pakistan international border in Jammu and Kashmir. The pilot project was inaugurated by the Home Minister during his one-day visit to the state. The BSF had taken up the initiative as part of the comprehensive integrated border management system. The smart fencing at the border was initially slated to be in place by March 2018. Speaking about the same in August 2017, BSF Director General KK Sharma had said that the smart fencing at India-Pakistan border was priority as anything happening there has grave consequences. Earlier this year, the BSF had operationalised the first smart fence on a riverine stretch with Bangladesh in Assam. The riverine stretch where the first fence was put up was previously patrolled by BSF speedboats. Due to its geographical features, no outpost could be erected in the area which often led to incidents like illegal migrations going unchecked. The introduction of the fence was done to bring down such instances.
  • Saridon: It is an analgesic combination indicated for the management of headache. It contains the analgesics propyphenazone and paracetamol and the stimulant caffeine. The Supreme Court has allowed the sale of painkiller Saridon and two other drugs that were mentioned in the list of combination medicines banned by the health ministry. Decision comes after the Supreme Court's order came on a petition filed by the makers of these medicines. A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra lifted the ban on Piramal Healthcare's Saridon, GlaxoSmithKline's Piriton, Juggat Pharma's Dart and another drug, the details of which could not be immediately known. The companies approached the top court after the government banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of 328 fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) drugs for human use with immediate effect to stop their "illegal use".
  • e-Sahaj: It is a portal launched to facilitate individuals and private companies in seeking security clearance for setting up businesses in certain sensitive sectors. The online e-Sahaj portal, launched by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, will strike a healthy balance between meeting the imperatives of national security and facilitating ease of doing business and promoting investment in the country. The portal will facilitate an applicant to submit application online and also to view the status of his application from time to time. The Union home secretary said with the introduction of online portal, the process has become standardised. It will be faster, transparent and easy to monitor.
  • Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna : It is a new initiative launched by ESI Corporation. This scheme is a relief payable in cash directly to their Bank Account in case of unemployment and while they search for new engagement. Detailed instructions including eligibility conditions, application format, etc. will be issued separately. The initiative was launched after considering the change in employment pattern and the current scenario of employment in India which has transformed from a long term employment to fixed short term engagement in the form of contract and temping. ESI Corporation has approved the proposal for reimbursement of Rs. 10/- per person to the employers to encourage the seeding of Aadhar (UID) in ESIC database of their workers and their family members. It will curtail the multiple registrations of same Insured Persons and thus enable them to avail the benefits requiring longer contributory conditions.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): It is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. India has decided to place four more reactors under the IAEA safeguards. Accordingly, two Russian-designed Pressurised Light Water Reactors and two Pressurised Heavy Reactors being built with Indian technology will be covered. Making the announcement, Sekhar Basu, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, said a total of 26 Indian nuclear facilities will be under the international nuclear energy watchdog IAEA. This was stated at the 62nd General Conference of IAEA Vienna, Austria.
  • Sputum: It is a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract, typically as a result of infection or other disease and often examined microscopically to aid medical diagnosis. Health Ministry has launches sputum sample transportation Through Department of Post. A significant proportion of patients are not tested becausethe specimen does not reach the laboratory due to non-availability ofspecimen transport mechanisms.Transport of collected specimen also spares the patient's from travelling to the reference laboratory. Prompt transport of specimen followed by efficacious testing will enable appropriate management of the TB patients and reduced disease transmission. The learning from Delhi Pilot experience will be useful for adaptation of specimen transport mechanism throughthe Postal Department across the country.
  • Cybercrime.gov.in : It is a new portal launched by government of India, which will receive complaints from citizens on objectionable online content related to child pornography, child sexual abuse material, sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape. Portal will enable complainants in reporting cases without disclosing their identity. This will not only aid the victims/complainants but also help the civil society organizations and responsible citizens to anonymously report complaints pertaining to child pornography, child sexual abuse material or sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape. Complainants can also upload the objectionable content and URL to assist in the investigation by the State Police. The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs. There are other features such as a victim or complainant can track his/her report by opting for report and track option using his/her mobile number.
  • National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO): It is a central database of sexual offenders in the country which will be maintained by the NCRB for regular monitoring and tracking by the State Police. The database is accessible only to the law enforcement agencies for investigation and monitoring purpose. The database will include offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, POCSO and eve teasing. At present the database contains 4.4 lakh entries. The State Police have been requested to regularly update the database from 2005 onwards. The database includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details for each entry. However, the database will not compromise any individual's privacy. This will be accessible only to law enforcement agencies, will assist in effectively tracking and investigating cases of sexual offences.
  • Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Ordinance 2018: It is a new ordinance which was approved by President of India. According to the ordinance, giving instant Triple Talaq has been made illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. Seeking to allay fears that the law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial. These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on 29 August. The Ordinance states that even though the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 is pending in the Rajya Sabha and despite the Supreme Court has observed that the practice of Triple Talaq is unconstitutional, the practice still carries on.

Sports Current News

  • National Sports Awards 2018
    National Sports Awards are given every year to recognize and reward excellence in sports. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four year, Arjuna Award is given for consistency outstanding performance for four years, Dronacharya Award for coaches for producing medal winners at prestigious International sports events, Dhyan Chand Award for life time contribution to sports development and Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar is given to the corporate entities (both in private and public sector) and individuals who have played a visible role in the area of sports promotion and development. Overall top performing university in inter-university tournaments is given Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy. The awardees will receive their awards from President Ram Nath Kovind at special function organized at Rashtrapati Bhawan on 25th September, 2018.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna 2018
    Recipients : S. Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting) and Virat Kohli (Cricket).
  • Dronacharya Awards 2018
    Recipients: Chenanda Achaiah Kuttappa (Boxing), Vijay Sharma (Weightlifting), A. Srinivasa Rao (Table Tennis), Sukhdev Singh Pannu (Athletics), Clarence Lobo (Hockey-Life Time), Tarak Sinha (Cricket-Life Time), Jiwan Kumar Sharma (Judo-Life Time), V.R. Beedu (Athletics -Life Time).
  • Arjuna Award 2018
    Recipients: Neeraj Chopra (Athletics), Jinson Johnson (Athletics), Hima Das (Athletics), Nelakurthi Sikki Reddy (Badminton), Satish Kumar (Boxing), Smriti Mandhana (Cricket), Shubhankar Sharma (Golf), Manpreet Singh (Hockey), Savita (Hockey), Ravi Rathore (Polo), Rahi Sarnobat (Shooting), Ankur Mittal (Shooting), Shreyasi Singh (Shooting), Manika Batra (Table Tennis), G. Sathiyan (Table Tennis), Rohan Bopanna (Tennis), Sumit (Wrestling), Pooja Kadian (Wushu), Ankur Dhama (Para-Athletics) and Manoj Sarkar (Para-Badminton).
  • Dhyan Chand Award 2018
    Recipients :Satyadev Prasad (Archery), Bharat Kumar Chetri (Hockey), Bobby Aloysius (Athletics), Chougale Dadu Dattatray (Wrestling).
  • Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2018
    Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent: Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited Encouragement to Sports through Corporate Social Responsibility: JSW Sports Sports for Development: Isha Outreach.
  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2017-18
    Recipient: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Science & Technology Current News

  • Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS): It is a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Located in New Delhi, it is involved in Nuclear medicine research and responding to nuclear accidents and explosions. The scientists at a INMAS claim to have developed India's first indigenous medical kit that may ensure protection from serious injuries and faster healing of wounds resulting from nuclear warfare or radioactive leakage. The kit, developed after two decades of work by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) here, has over 25 items, including radio-protectors that provide 80-90 per cent protection against radiation and nerve gas agents, bandages that absorb radiation as well as tablets and ointments. Developed in India for the first time, it's a potent alternative to similar kits that were till now being procured from strategically advanced nations such as the US and Russia at much higher prices. The contents include an advanced form of Prussian blue tablets, highly effective in incorporating Radio Cesium (Cs-137) and Radio Thallium, among the most feared radioisotopes in nuclear bombs that destroy human body cells. The tablet provides 100 per cent absorption from the gut and other portals of entry to the human body, according to documents inside the medical kit accessed.
  • Eyerovtuna: It is the country's first underwater robotic drone developed at Maker Village, which can send real-time videos of ships and other underwater structures to help with their repair and maintenance, was launched and handed over to the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) of DRDO on Friday. The drone will be used by NPOL for research and development activities which in turn would result in a commercial product for defence purposes. The first commercial Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)/ underwater drone, Eyerovtuna was developed by EyeROV Technologies. NPOL, a laboratory of Delhi-headquartered Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), made the first order of the product. The development of the product of EyeROV was largely supported by Kerala Start up Mission (KSUM) through various schemes.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) : It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO has launched two satellites from the United Kingdom NovaSAR and S1-4 from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The lightest version of the PSLV, flying in its core-alone version without the six strap-on motors, the PSLV-C-42 rose into the skies at 10.08 p.m. Almost 18 minutes later, the two satellites were placed in the desired orbit by ISRO. This was the 12th such launch of a core-alone version of the PSLV by ISRO. The two satellites, owned by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) were placed in a circular orbit around the poles, 583 km from Earth. The commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation earned more than ₹220 crore on this launch. The NovaSAR is a technology demonstration mission designed to test the capabilities of a new low cost S-band SAR platform. It will be used for ship detection and maritime monitoring and also flood monitoring, besides agricultural and forestry applications. The S1-4 will be used for environment monitoring, urban management, and tackling disasters. Among the slew of launches scheduled over the next few months, the much-awaited and delayed, India's second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 finally has a launch window. Chandrayaan-2 is planned for a window from January 3 to February 16, 2019 that we are targeting. It can happen anytime during that window. But we are aiming for the beginning of the window, January 3. Right now with the status of the rocket, the GSLV Mk-3 M1, and the present status of the satellite, we are not expecting any more delay. At the same time tests are going on. If unexpected things happen, that may have some impact. But right now, we are not anticipating any delay. The other launches include the GSAT series that will provide bandwidth speeds of up to 100 Gbps per second, as part of the government,s Digital India efforts.
  • SBand Polarimetry Doppler Weather : It is newly inaugurated facility at Sriharikota spaceport near Chennai. The radar has been developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bengaluru under ToT (Training of Trainers) from ISRO. The Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) provides advanced information, enhances the lead-time essential for saving lives and property in the event of a natural disaster associated with severe weather. While conventional radars are able to track and predict cyclones, the DWR provides detailed information on a storm's internal wind flow and structure. The severity of the weather systems can be quantitatively estimated and more precise advanced warnings can be generated for saving human lives and property. The polarimetric capability of the radar will significantly improve the accuracy of rainfall estimation leading to accurate and timely flash flood warnings, according to ISRO's earlier release.
  • India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): It is a system planned by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce cooling demand. Its thrust is to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits. ICAPs overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). It makes India first country in world to develop such document. The draft was prepared by Ozone Cell of MoEFC. It aims to provide sustainable cooling while keeping in mind, at the same time, the need to protect the ozone layer from substances that can deplete it. It provides a 20-year perspective, with projections for cooling needs in 2037-38. Hydrogen powered train: The new train will carry a hydrogen tank and fuel cells on the roof, and produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. Germany has rolled out the world's first hydrogen-powered train. The landmark move, signals to push the challenge that might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology. Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French company Alstom, began running a 100km route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.
  • Cyclotron: It is an apparatus in which charged atomic and subatomic particles are accelerated by an alternating electric field while following an outward spiral or circular path in a magnetic field. India's largest Cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator that produces radioisotopes, for medical applications became operational last week in Kolkata. According to the Department of Atomic Energy, the facility called Cyclone-30 at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) in Kolkata will provide affordable radioisotopes and related radiopharmaceuticals. Cyclone-30 is in the first phase of production generating Flourodeocyglucose (FDG), a radioisotope used for date imaging and oncological tissue imaging. The machine is soon expected to produce Germanium 68 and Gallium 68 radioisotopes both imported and expensive. Cyclone-30 will become the first and only facility in the country to produce Germanium 68 isotopes, which is used in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Simultaneously, we will be able to produce Palladium 103 isotopes which is used for the treatment of prostate cancer. The machine at VECC was likely to bring down costs of radioisotopes for the pharmaceutical industry such as Germanium 68 by almost half.

Current Affairs September 23 to September 29

International Current News

  • United Nations: It is an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international co-operation and to create and maintain international order. India has contributed a whopping USD 1 million for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the imposing UN building at the world body's headquarters here. The contribution will help reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said in a tweet. He said that India is the first responder to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres call for climate action. India funds solar project @UN Hqrs to reduce carbon footprint & promote sustainable energy, Akbaruddin said, referring to India's contribution of USD 1 million to the UN Headquarters Solar Project, in which solar panels will be installed on the roof of the imposing UN headquarters.

National Current News

  • Champions of the Earth: It is the highest environmental honour of the United Nations. The award celebrates outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a transformative, positive impact on the environment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded with the UN's highest environmental honour, bestowed upon five other individuals and organisations, for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022. Six of the world's most outstanding environmental changemakers have been recognised with the Champions of the Earth Award. "This years' laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times," the UN Environment Programme said. French President Emmanuel Macron and Modi have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron's work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi's unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.
  • National Digital Communications Policy 2018: It is a new proposal approved by government of India to connect, propel and secure India Universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas Attract investments of USD 100 Billion in the Digital Communications Sector. It is re-designation of the Telecom Commission as the "Digital Communications Commission. The NDCP-2018 envisions supporting India's transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises by the establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services. The key objectives of the policy are: Broadband for all, Creating four million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector, Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India's GDP from 6% in 2017; Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017; Enhancing India's contribution to Global Value Chains and Ensuring Digital Sovereignty.
  • Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM): It is an umbrella scheme decided to meet special development needs of people living in those areas. The projects are being implemented in 17 states having the international borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It containing 60 projects and with an outlay of Rs 8,606 crore has been approved. The projects are implemented in 111 border districts to meet special development needs of border population with focus on people living within 50 kms of the international border. The schemes include construction of roads, schools, primary health centres, promotion of rural tourism, border tourism, promotion of sports activities, cleanliness mission, protection of heritage sites, supply of drinking water, community centres, connectivity, drainage, to enable sustainable living in border areas. Construction of helipads in remote and inaccessible hilly areas which do not have road connectivity, skill development training to farmers for the use of modern and scientific technique in farming, organic farming are some of the other areas where the projects are being implemented. India shares borders with Pakistan (3,323 km), China (3,488 km), Nepal (1,751 km), Bhutan (699 km), Myanmar (1,643 km) and Bangladesh (4,096 km).
  • Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) : It is a Section 8 (under new companies Act, not for profit companies are governed under section 8), non-Government, private limited company. It was incorporated on March 28, 2013. The Government of India holds 24.5% equity in GSTN and all States of the Indian Union, including NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers (EC), together hold another 24.5%. Balance 51% equity is with non-Government financial institutions. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the increasing of government ownership in Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) and change in the existing structure with transitional plan.
  • AGMARK: It is a certification mark employed on agricultural products in India, assuring that they conform to a set of standards approved by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection, an agency of the Government of India. The government has launched an online platform for processing applications related to quality certification mark Agmark for agricultural products. Through the Agmark online system, certificate of authorisation, permission of printing press, permission of laboratories and services related to laboratory information management system will be provided. The use of modern technologies by the National Informatics Center has made these processes easy, reliable and cost effective by providing online electronic mode. In the new online application system, there are provisions for online receipt of fees from the applicants. Payment will be received in digital mode through the website bharatkosh.gov.in.
  • Indian Culinary Institute: It is a new institute which was dedicated to nation by Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu in Tirupati. Developed at an outlay of Rs. 99 crore, it is touted to become one of the top ranking institutes in the country in training aspirants in culinary and hospitality services. The imposing building is developed by NBCC (India) at the 14.21 acre site provided by the State government near the airport in Renigunta. Classes have already begun from the academic year 2016, which are conducted in a temporary campus developed on the premises of State Institute of Hotel Management (SIHM) in Alipiri.
  • Odisha: It is an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, is known for its tribal cultures and its many ancient Hindu temples. Government of India is seriously considering the revival of coal gasification based urea production facility in Odisha. The fertilizer project at Talcher at Odisha developed by Talcher Fertilizers Limited (TFL) shall be India's first coal gasification based urea production facility of 1.27 MMTPA installed capacity at an estimated investment of Rs. 11,600 crore. TFL is a joint venture of GAIL, CIL, RCF and FCIL. Environment clearance and selection of coal gasification technology are some of the key milestones achieved. TFL has been allotted captive coal mine in the Talcher region. Mine development activity has commenced and shall ensure steady supply of the feedstock for maintaining continuous operations of the plant. Full-fledged project activities are expected to commence at Talcher site within a month and is targeted for commissioning by 2022.
  • Supreme Court of India: It is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court. It has said that the legislators could not be banned from practising as lawyers in courts. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking ban on the legal practice of MPs, MLAs and MLCs who are legal professionals. The Supreme Court said that no law debars the MPs, MLAs and MLCs from practising in court. The petition had been filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay. He contended that allowing MPs, MLAs and MLCs to practise in a court of law amounts to violation of the fundamental right to equality before law as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana: It is a new health scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is claimed to be the world's biggest health security scheme covering 10 crore families. Some important points about Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana are: It provides cashless and paperless access to health care services in public and private empanelled hospitals across the country. The scheme will provide a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to 50 crore poor people. The scheme will cover 10.74 crore rural and urban families as identified in SECC 2011. The scheme will not cover primary care. It is to cover the cost of hospitalization. The states are going to decide on the mode of implementation with 7 states plan to adopt the insurance mode, 18 states will follow the trust route while the remaining 9 will follow the mixed model. Over 8,735 hospitals, both public and private, have been empanelled for the scheme, and as many as 31 states and union territories have signed MoUs with the Centre to implement the programme.
  • Sikkim: It is a state in northeast India. It borders Tibet in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday inaugurated Sikkim's first own airport at Pakyong. The airport, perched between the Himalayan ranges at a height of 4,500 ft, is India's 100th functional airport. Modi arrived in Gangtok on Sunday evening after rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) the largest government health insurance scheme in the world in Jharkhand. The airport whose foundation stone was laid, around 33 km from Gangtok, in 2009 will ensure easier connectivity of the state with the rest of the country.

Sports Updates

  • Asia Cup: Team India has lifted the Asia Cup for a record-extending seventh time. In the Final played at Dubai last night, the Men in Blue defeated Bangladesh by 3 wickets on the final ball of the match to successfully defend the title. Put in to bat, Bangladesh got off to a flying start, but they lost way after the wicket of Mehidy Hasan. They slid from 120 for no loss to 222 all out in 48.3 overs. Opener Liton Das scored 121, his maiden ODI ton. Kuldeep Yadav bagged 3 wickets. The power of the Indian attack, was so immense that after the opening partnership, except for Soumya Sarkar (32) none of the other batsmen were allowed to cross the single digit In reply, India overhauled the target on the last ball after they needed 6 runs from the final over. Skipper Rohit Sharma top scored with 48, but it was the 54-run fourth-wicket stand between Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni and a 45-run seventh-wicket stand between Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuneshwar Kumar that got India through. Liton Das was named man of the match.

Defence:

  • Prithvi Missile: It is a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). India successfully conducted an interceptor missile test off the Odisha coast on Sunday night, achieving a major milestone in developing a two-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system, defence sources said. The interceptor was launched from Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island of the Integrated Test Range (ITR), at about 8.05pm, the sources said.
  • Prahaar Missile: It is a surface-to-surface short-range tactical ballistic missile. India has successfully test-fired missile from a defence facility off Odisha coast. According to a defence source, a mobile launcher the indigenously developed missile was flight tested from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 1.35 pm. The missile blasted off from a canister travelled the desired range before zeroing on the target. All systems functioned normally. The mission achieved a copybook success. Equipped with state of the art navigation, guidance and electromechanical actuation systems with the latest onboard computer, the missile achieved the terminal accuracy of fewer than 10 meters. It went up vertically and then manoeuvred as coordinated. The missile was launched from a road-mobile launcher, which can carry six missiles at a time and can be fired in salvo mode in all directions covering the entire azimuth plane. There was not a single degree deviation during the entire flight path. Having a strike range of 150 km, Prahaar has no parallel in the world in its range category. It fills the vital gap between multi-barrel rocket Pinaka and medium-range ballistic missile Prithvi. Unlike Prithvi, it can engage multiple targets in different directions. The missile capable of carrying different types of warheads will operate as battlefield support system to the Indian Army. It has a greater manoeuvring capability, acceleration and can be deployed in different kinds of terrain making it more effective against strategic targets.
  • T-72 tanks: It is a family of Soviet main battle tanks that first entered production in 1971. About 20,000 T-72 tanks were built, making it one of the most widely produced post-World War II tanks, second only to the T-54/55 family. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has allowed the proposal for the procurement of 1000 engines for fitment in T-72 tanks of the Army under 'Buy and Make' category at an approximate cost of Rs 2300 crore. Post the transfer of technology, most of these engines will be manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB). The engines will enhance mobility, agility, and acceleration of T-72 tanks making them more versatile and effective in the battlefield.

Environment

  • Tiger: The tiger is the largest cat species, most recognizable for its pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. The species is classified in the genus Panthera with the lion, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard. Nepal has become the first country to double tiger population. Though the number of tigers in many countries is witnessing a decline, a recent survey led by the Government of Nepal has shown that the population of tigers has almost doubled in under a decade in the country. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an organisation dealing with wildlife conservation and endangered species, this news can help Nepal become the first country to double its national tiger population since the ambitious TX2, a goal to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022, was set in 2010.

Economics:

  • MSME: The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has launched a portal to enable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to get in-principle approval of loans within an hour without the need for a branch visit. The portal is for securing loan approvals only from Small Industries Development Bank of India, and five public sector banks (PSB) State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Vijaya Bank, and Indian Bank. The web portal, www.psbloansin59minutes.com, will enable in-principle nod for loans up to Rs 10 million within 59 minutes for MSMEs. The turnaround time of loan processing will reduce from 20-25 days to 59 minutes. Subsequent to this in principle approval, the loan will be disbursed in 7-8 working days.
  • Financial Inclusion Index: It is single composite index gives a snap shot of level of financial inclusion that would guide Macro Policy perspective. The various components of the index will also help to measure financial services for use of internal policy making. Financial Inclusion Index can be used directly as a composite measure in development indicators. It enables fulfilment of G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators requirements. It will also facilitate researchers to study the impact of financial inclusion and other macro-economic variables. This will be released on January, 2019. The Union Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs has launched the Financial Inclusion Index.
    Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance will release an Annual Financial Inclusion Index (FII) which will be a measure of access and usage of a basket of formal financial products and services that includes savings, remittances, credit, insurance and pension products. The index will have three measurement dimensions; (i) Access to financial services (ii) Usage of financial services and (3) Quality.

Arts and Culture

  • Village Superstar: It is an Assamese film directed by Rima Das which has been selected as Indian's official entry to Oscar 2019. Films like Raazi, October, Love Sonia, Padmaavat and many more were submitted as nominations. However, Village Rockstars has emerged as the clear winner. Village Rockstars narrates the story of a girl, Dhunu (beautiful in Assamese), from a village in Assam, who dreams to own a guitar and forms a rock band. Rima Das niece Bhanita played the lead in the movie. The film won hearts and was praised at various film festivals across the world. It was shot, edited and produced by Rima. The lady made her debut with Man with Binoculars in 2016.


Current Affairs - October 2018


Current Affairs October 17th to October 23rd 2016

International Current News

  • JiaJia - the name of the world's oldest giant panda which died at Hong Kong theme park recently at the age of 38, the equivalent of 114 human years. JiaJia whose name meant 'good' was a gift from the Chinese government to Hong Kong in 1999, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the former British colony handover to the mainland.

National Current News

  • 1989 - the year in which the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was formed. The FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 the purpose expanded to act on terrorism financing. It was in the news recently after the BRICS Goa declaration reaffirmed commitment to the Financial Action Task Force international standards on combating money laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation.It also called for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF on combating terrorist financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan.
  • Rosneft - it is the Russia's state-controlled oil giant who recently took over major stake in India's second biggest private oil firm Essar Oil in an all-cash deal valued at about $13 billion (Rs 88,000 crore). Rosneft bought a 49 per cent stake in Essar Oil's refinery port and petrol pumps, while Netherlands-based Trafigura Group Pte, one of the world's biggest commodity trading companies, and Russian investment fund United Capital Partners split another 49 per cent equity equally. The remaining 2 per cent is held by minority shareholders after delisting of Essar Oil. The deal has an enterprise value of close to $13 billion, which includes Essar Oil's debt of $4.5 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) and about $2 billion (Rs13,342 crore) debt with the port company and power plant. Also, the near $3 billion dues to Iran for past oil purchases will continue to be on Essar Oil books. Essar Oil, part of a steel-to-ports conglomerate controlled by the billionaire Ruia brothers, operates a 405,000-barrels-a-day refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat. The refining complex also has a captive power plant as well as a port and terminal facilities.The deal would help the Essar Group, one of India's largest and most indebted conglomerates, trim its about Rs 88,000 crore (over $13 billion) debt and ward off creditor pressure.The deal was announced as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting of the leaders of the BRICS countries in Goa.The deal is the single largest foreign investment in the Indian refining sector and will strengthen the ties between the world's largest oil producer and the world's fastest growing fuel consumer.The acquisition is the biggest foreign acquisition ever in India and Russia's largest outbound deal.
  • Post Offices - it will be the new outlets for the sale of subsidised pulses by the government. In the absence of government outlets in states, the Centre will utilise huge network of post offices across the country to sell subsidised pulses, mainly tur, urad and chana, to ensure availability in the ongoing festival season.An inter-ministerial committee, headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande, took the decision at its meeting in New Delhi recently. There are 1.54 lakh post offices in the country, of which 1.39 lakh are in rural areas. The government has been releasing tur and urad from its buffer stocks for last many months to state governments as well as government agencies like Nafed and Mother Dairy for retail distribution at a subsidised rate in order to protect consumers from high prices.The government has targeted to create a buffer stock of 20 lakh tonnes this year and pulses are being procured directly from farmers in the domestic market and through imports.
  • PRJA - which stands for People's Resurgence Justice Alliance is the name of new party launched by rights activist Irom Sharmila recently in Imphal. Recently she broke her 16-year-old hunger strike demanding repeal of the AFSPA and announced that she would take her battle to the next level by floating her party as she wants to become the chief minister of Manipur to "press' for the demands.
  • INS Arihant - this is the country's first armed nuclear submarine capable of delivering atomic weapons from land, sea and air which was commissioned into service recently after extensive sea-trials. The 6,000-ton, 110-metre-long INS Arihant (the Sanskrit name meaning 'Slayer of Enemies') is powered by a 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor. The vessel has been built under the Advanced Technology Vessel Project at the Ship Building Centre Visakhapatnam. With this induction, India has also completed its nuclear triad, which has a 'no first-strike' policy regarding the use of its nuclear weapons. Only five countries in the world -- US, UK, France, Russia and China have so far developed nuclear-armed submarines.
  • Cairn India Ltd - the company whose plea to export its share of crude oil from Barmer oil field in Rajasthan was rejected by the Delhi high court recently. This was rejected on the ground that domestic crude cannot be exported till India attained "self-sufficiency". It was said that in the instant case, as no notice of India attaining self-sufficiency was given to Cairn, it can only claim compensation from the government for not picking up its share of crude from the oil field. Under the production sharing contract (PSC) between Cairn and the Centre, the company gets 70 per cent of the crude produced from Barmer, with the rest going to the government.
  • Four - the slab GST tax structure of 6, 12, 18 and 26 per cent with lower rates for essential items and the highest for luxury goods that will also be levied with an additional cess was mooted recently at the GST Council meet recently.With a view to keep inflation under check, the proposal sponsored by the Centre proposed to continue exempting food items from tax as well as keep 50 per cent of the common use goods in either exempt category or lower band.Also, 70 per cent of the items is proposed to be governed by 18 per cent of lower GST rate. But ultra-luxury items like high-end cars and demerit goods like tobacco, cigarettes, aerated drinks, luxury car and polluting items would attract an additional cess on top of the 26 per cent GST rate.The panel that also includes representatives of all states, agreed on keeping base year for calculating the revenue of a state at 2015-16 and considering a secular growth rate of 14 per cent for calculating the likely revenue of each state in the first five years of implementation of GST.
  • Brahmos - these missiles are the one whose new generation series is going to be developed jointly by New Delhi and Moscow. The new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range will have the ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy. This range enables these missiles to strike anywhere within Pakistan. That Russia can work with India to produce these missiles has been possible due to New Delhi joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016. Brahmos' current range is 300 km, which makes it difficult to hit targets deep inside Pakistan. India has ballistic missiles with longer range than the next generation Brahmos. But Brahmos' ability to take down specific targets, even well-protected ones, makes it a potential game changer in any conflict with Pakistan. Ballistic missiles are powered for the initial half of their flight path and they use gravity to complete their trajectory. But cruise missiles are powered throughout.
  • NBCC - the company in which the government recently initiated steps for its 15 per cent stake sale. The government holds 90 per cent in the company, which has a market capitalisation of Rs 15,180 crore.The Union Cabinet had in July this year cleared disinvestment in the project management consultancy and Real Estate Development Company.The stake sale is part of the government's Rs 56,600 crore disinvestment programme for the current fiscal. So far this fiscal, the government has raised Rs 6,414 crore through OFS and buyback of equity.NBCC is the third disinvestment through offer for sale (OFS) route by the government in the current fiscal. It had sold 7 per cent stake in Hindustan Copper to raise Rs 400 crore in September and 11.36 per cent in NHPC in April to garner Rs 2,716 crore.
  • INS Tihayu - the high tech water jet fast attack craft which was commissioned by the Indian Navy recently. Vice-Admiral H C S Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-In-Chief of the ENC, commissioned the ship, built by Garden Reach Shipbuilder and Engineers, at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam.INS Tihayu, specifically built for meeting needs of extended coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol, has a length of 49.9 metres and maximum breadth of 7.5 meters. Named after an island in Nicobar, the vessel has an endurance of 2,000 nautical miles at 12 to 14 knots of economical speed.
  • April 2017 - the period from which no manufacturer will be allowed to produce vehicles that don't meet BS-IV emission norms as per the road transport ministry's notification. However it doesn't mention that already manufactured vehicles cannot be sold. The Supreme Court-appointed pollution control watchdog Environment Protection Control Authority (EPCA) recently threw a surprise suggesting that vehicle manufacturers should stop selling vehicles that are BS-III compliant from April 2017.
  • UDAN - which stands for Udey Desh Ka AamNagrik is the ambitious program of government set to give wings to its ambitious regional air connectivity scheme. The government had on July1,2016 unveiled the draft scheme which fixed all-inclusive fares at Rs.2500 for one-hour flight in its attempt to make flying affordable for common man.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development -this department recently signed a MoU with Ministry with Ministry of Railways under which railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on smart city lines for enhancing passenger amenities, providing easy access to stations and enabling optimal utilization of land at railway stations.
  • CIPAM which stands for Cell for IPR Promotion and management has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of National IPR Policy that was approved by the government in May 2016.

Sports Updates

  • Kane Williamson - the captain of New Zealand led from the front with a superb century to help New Zealand edge past India by six runs in the second One-Day International in New Delhi recently. The Black Caps levelled the five-match series 1-1 and in the process also won their first game of the tour. Williamson hit a fluent 118 off 128 balls, laced with 14 boundaries and a six.
  • Luis Suarez - the football player of FC Barcelona is the famous football player who won the Golden Boot Trophy recently. He received a second European Golden Shoe of his career after becoming the leading scorer in Europe's top domestic leagues last season.
  • Swapnil Gugale - the Maharashtra skipper who partnered with Ankit Bawne to post an unbeaten 594-run stand for the third wicket to record the highest partnership in the history of Ranji Trophy and highest in first class cricket. The broke the 70-year-old Indian mark of 577 between Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohammad for Baroda vs. Holkar in the final of 1946-47. It is the second highest partnership in first class cricket, behind only the 624 runs that Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene added in a Test against South Africa.
  • MS Dhoni - the skipper of One Day Internationals of India entered into the record books recently for the second most number of wins by an ODI skipper in the history of the games. This victory was Dhoni's 108th in 195 matches. The top spot still belongs to Ricky Ponting (Australia) with 165 out of 230. Dhoni went past Sri Lanka's Arjuna Ranatunga and is now the most successful Indian ODI skipper in the sub-continent, in fact in all of Asia.
  • Sourabh Varma - he recently clinched the men's singles badminton title at the Chinese Taipei Open after defeating Malaysia's Daren Liew in the summit clash of the $ 55,000 Grand Prix tournament in Taipei City.The 23-year-old from Madhya Pradesh rallied to grab the first two games and emerged victorious after his opponent Liew retired in the third game due to a shoulder injury with the score line reading 12-10, 12-10, 3-3 in the Indian's favour.
  • Hardik Pandya - the bowler who had a dream debut for India when he picked three crucial wickets in the first ODI against New Zealand in Dharamsala. The 23-year old all-rounder, who received the India cap from legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev ahead of the game, also bagged the Man-of-the-Match award for his bowling effort.
  • Saina Nehwal - the Indian shuttler who has been appointed a member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Athletes' Commission in a rare honour for an Indian sportsperson. The Athletes' Commission is chaired by Angela Ruggiero and it comprises nine vice presidents and 10 other members.
  • Bengaluru FC - this club led by Indian captain Sunil Chhetri made it to a historic AFC Cup final by scripting an inspiring 3-1 win over defending champions Johor DarulTa'zim at Bangalore recently. It was a historic day for Indian football as no club from the country has ever made it to the summit clash of the prestigious second-tier continental tournament. The significance of this achievement could be gauged by the fact that only two Indian football clubs -- Dempo Sports Club of Goa and Kolkata giants East Bengal -- had made it to the semifinals of the tournament since its inception.
  • India - this country has decided to use the Decision Review System (DRS) on a trial basis in the upcoming five-test series against England to assess improvements made to the technology. The influential Indian board (BCCI) has long been a staunch opponent of the DRS system, which aims at reducing umpiring howlers by detecting edges and predicting the ball trajectory to ensure correct catch and leg-before decisions. India played in the first series that used DRS against Sri Lanka in 2008 but the BCCI have since refused to allow its use in any bilateral series involving its team.
  • 137th - the rank achieved by Indian football team in their best FIFA ranking in over six years when the side leaped 11 places to be 137th in the list released recently. India, who defeated 114th ranked Puerto Rico in an international friendly in Mumbai in September, garnered 230 points for the month. In August 2010, India were ranked 13 - their best ever stand in FIFA ranking since then.

Current Affairs October 24th to October 30th 2016

International Current News

  • Astroturfing - the new method developed by scientists for spotting people who post false reviews, comments or tweets from multiple social media accounts to espouse opinions. Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in the US, describe a statistical method that analyses multiple writing samples - a practice known as 'astroturfing'. They found that it is challenging for authors to completely conceal their writing style in their text. Based on word choice, punctuation and context, the method is able to detect whether one person or multiple people are responsible for the samples.
  • Carbon Monoxide - one of the 100 toxic gases released by 'lithium-ion' battery commonly used in smartphones and tablets as per the new study by researchers from the institute of NBC Defence in the US and the Tsinghua University in China. It was also found that a fully charged battery will release more toxic gases than a battery with 50% charge.
  • Wade - the new species of titanosaur, a long necked behemoth recently confirmed, that roamed in Australia about 95 million years ago. The fossil remains of the dinosaur, dubbed Savannasaurus Elliottorum, commonly called wade was discovered in Queensland in 2005. It is believed that these massive animals migrated from present day South America into present day Australia and Antartica, back at the time when the three were connected as a part of the landmass Gondwana. The results were recently published in a journal Scientific Reports.
  • Haima - the name of typhoon which recently hit many parts of Hong Kong and Philippines effecting normal life and damaging properties and some life were also due to the wrath of this typhoon.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - the gas for which the scientists have developed a way of reverse combustion process in which CO2 can be turned back into a fuel. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US recently used complex nanotechnology techniques to turn the dissolved pollutant gas into ethanol.
  • Lettuce - the leafy green plant which has been planted by NASA on the International Space Station to learn how to grow fresh food in space-which may help astronauts on manned mission to Mars.

National Current News

  • Rs.2500 - the cap on fares for 1-hour flights by the government in its recently introduced UDAN scheme. From January 2017 the government will roll out its ambitious plan to introduce budget regional flying by connecting small towns by flights whose fares will be capped at Rs.2,500 for a one-hour flight. Termed "Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik" or UDAN, this regional connectivity scheme+ (RCS) will be funded by levying a fee on aircraft landing at bigger airports.
  • DGCA - it stands for Directorate General of Civil Aviation has been allowed to penalise pilots and airlines found violating aviation safety norms by imposing fines and going beyond just suspension or cancellation of permissions, in a move that will give more power to aviation regulator. Presently, the DGCA only debars, suspends and sometimes cancels permission to fly for airlines, individual pilots or engineers who err on the wrong side but is not allowed to impose any monetary penalty.
  • Sophia - the name of dog which along with horse 'Thunderbolt'-- the four-legged soldiers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police created history by becoming the first animals which were decorated with special service medals during the celebrations of the 55th Raising day of ITBP recently. While seven-year-old Thunderbolt is part of the Animal Transport unit of the force, 'lifeline' of the force at high-altitude forward posts, three-year-old Sophia undertakes special sniffing operations to detect IEDs with her handler in Left Wing extremism hit areas of Chhattisgarh. The 80,000-personnel strong ITBP was raised in 1962 in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression and the force, apart from rendering border guarding duties, is tasked to carry out various activities in the internal security domain in the country.
  • Air India - they recently earned the record of operating the longest non-stop flight in the world with its October 16, 2016 Delhi-San Francisco flight over the Pacific covering the 15,204 km journey in 14.5 hours, two hours less than the 13,900km Atlantic route. Despite the route being longer, the flight took almost two hours less due to the winds blowing in the same direction and thus making it go faster.
  • TPC - it stands for Total Polar Compounds is the measure which can be used to continually monitor the changes in oil quality during frying. This was in the news recently after India's top food regulatory body, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) initiated a process that sets a maximum limit beyond which the edible oils become unsafe and must not be reused.
  • Carbon Monoxide - it is one of the 100 toxic gases released by 'lithium-ion' battery commonly used in smartphones and tablets as per the new study by researchers from the institute of NBC Defence in the US and the Tsinghua University in China. It was also found that a fully charged battery will release more toxic gases than a battery with 50% charge.
  • Vaibhavi - the name christened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the new born daughter of a couple, Bharat Singh and Vibha Singh from Mirzapur. PM granted the wish of the Mirzapur couple after the infant's mother wrote to him.
  • GEAC - it stands for Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is the central biotech regulator of India. It was in the news recently after the sub-committee submitted its report to the GEAC saying that GM mustard was safe for consumption and cultivation.
  • 130 - it is the rank of India among 190 countries that had been surveyed for the annual rankings in the Ease of Doing Business list 2017 released by World Bank recently. The top 10 positions went to -New Zealand which was followed by Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and Macedonia.
  • Rs.1.50 lakh per month - it is the monthly salary of President of India while it is Rs.1.25 lakhs for Vice-President of India. It was in the news recently after the Union Ministry prepared a proposal raising the emoluments of the two top functionaries. The move comes after the implementation of the 7th Pay recommendations which has created an anomalous situation in which the salary of President is Rs.1.00 lakhs less than the country top bureaucrat, the Cabinet Secretary.
  • INS Viraat - it is the aircraft carrier which recently made its last voyage, sailing under tow from Kochi to Mumbai. It is the oldest aircraft carrier and the 28,000-tonne warship was inducted into the Indian Navy in May 1987. It was commissioned in the UK's Royal Navy in 1959. The British operated it for 27 years. The aircraft carrier will fly the Indian flag and the naval ensign till it is decommissioned.
  • ePOS - it stands for electronic Point of Sales is the new system for monitoring transactions at fair price shops which has curtailed the scope of manipulation of purchase records and diversion of PDS grains to the open market. In India there are 5, 27,947 Fair Price Shops (FPS) in the country out of ePOS has been introduced in 1,54,628 shops. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan are the states where all fair price shops are ePOS enabled.
  • Great Indian Bustard - this bird along with vulture are two of the prominent birds among the 7% birds which are nearing extinction in India as per the biennial WWF study-the Living Planet report which takes stock of the global environment.

Sports Updates

  • MS Dhoni - the Indian captain made a record of highest number of sixes in One day International by an Indian. He recently registered his 196th six in ODIs bettering the 195 by Sachin Tendulkar.
  • Virat Kohli - he recently hit his 26th century in One day International cricket. Only three batsmen have managed more centuries in ODIs - Sachin Tendulkar (49), Ricky Ponting (30) and Sanath Jayasuriya (28). Virat has taken 166 innings for his 26 hundreds - the quickest among the players with 26 centuries or more in ODIs.
  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni - he is the third wicketkeeper of world to complete 9000 runs in ODIs - his tally being 9058 (ave.51.17) in 281 matches - the first two being Adam Gilchrist (9410) and Kumar Sangakkara (13341). Dhoni's feat of reaching the milestone in 244 innings is the quickest by a wicketkeeper - the next two being Sangakkara (252) and Gilchrist (262).
  • Abhijeet Gupta - the chess Grandmaster and Commonwealth champion who created history at the Hoogeveen International chess tournament by becoming the first player ever to win the title twice in a row in the FIDE Open that concluded in the Dutch hamlet. Defending champion Abhijeet lived up to his top billing, and scored 7.5 points out of a possible nine to win the title solely ahead of second placed Grandmaster Sandipan Chanda. It was an Indian sweep as the third and fourth places were bagged by GM M R Lalith Babu and GM M Shyam Sundar respectively.
  • India - they won the 2016 World Cup kabaddi, it's third in a row. They defeated Iran in the finals which was played at Ahmedabad. India defeated Iran 38-29, riding on Ajay Thakur's brilliant performance.
  • India - this country will stage the Under-17 football World Cup from October 6 to 28 next year, the sport's world governing body FIFA announced recently. Kochi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Delhi, Margao and Kolkata have been ratified as venues following inspections by the FIFA delegation.
  • Abhinav Bindra - the Olympic Champion of India who recently set up a High Performance Training centre in India at Mohali. The 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist has helped setting up systems and structures in place which will help athletes assess as well as train, a first in India. The athletes after blocking their slots can train free of cost.

Current Affairs September 30 to October 06

International Current News

  • Uzbekistan: It is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. The sovereign state is a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city. India and Uzbekistan inked 17 agreements including in the areas of defence, space, health and agriculture. The two countries signed pacts for collaboration in the field of military education and for cooperation between the Office of the Security Council under the President of Uzbekistan and the National Security Council Secretariat of India. They also signed an agreement on cooperation in combating illicit drug trafficking. A pact for cooperation in outer space exploration for peaceful purposes was also signed. Agreements were signed for visa-free travel of diplomatic passport holders for programme of cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs of Uzbekistan and India in 2019-2020. Two agreements in the sectors of innovation, and health and medical science were also signed. Business relationships between the two countries will be promoted through the India-Uzbekistan Business Council, for which a pact was inked. The two countries also entered into a pact on cooperation in the pharma sector. An MoU was inked between Khokimiat of Samarkand City and the Municipal Corporation of Agra. Another pact was signed between the Khokimiyat of Andijan Region and the Gujarat government.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has launched the first global guidelines on sanitation and health even as it pitched for higher investments and policy shifts to achieve the goal of universal sanitation coverage by 2032. According to an official statement from the WHO, 'By adopting WHO�s new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce the 829, 000 annual diarrhoeal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, WHO estimates a nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths'.
  • Operation Samudra Maitri: It is rescue operation launched by India to assist the survivors earthquake and consequent tsunami in Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia. According to an External Affairs Ministry statement, two IAF aircraft � a C-130J and a C-17 � carrying medical personnel and relief material flew for humanitarian assistance. The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team on board along with tents and equipment to set up a field hospital. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance. Indian naval ships INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul have also been mobilised for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These ships are likely to reach Central Sulawesi on 6 October. The operation was launched after a telephonic conversation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on 1 October, and following Indonesia's acceptance of international aid'. At least 1,347 people were killed in the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island. The number of dead was expected to climb, officials said.

National Current News

  • Odisha: It is an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, is known for its tribal cultures and its many ancient Hindu temples. The capital, Bhubaneswar, is home to hundreds of temples, notably the intricately-carved Mukteshvara. The state government of Odisha has launched its own food security scheme on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, benefiting 25 lakh people who were left out of the National Food Security Act. Making the annoucement over the tweet, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik mentioned,�On Gandhi Jayanti, launched Odisha�s own food security scheme to benefit 25 lakh vulnerable populace that were excluded from coverage; sufficient and nutritious food is a basic need and prerequisite for a healthy Odisha, as a part of our resolve to eradicate hunger in Odisha,�. The beneficiaries will get 5 kg of rice per person per month at the rate of Rs 1 per kg, said the Chief Minister while launching the scheme at four different districts through videoconferencing from the State Secretariat here. The State government will spend Rs 443.5 crore per annum to support the scheme and Rs 221.75 crore in the current financial year, Mr. Patnaik added. The State government had decided to launch its own food security scheme after the Centre did not respond to its request to add additional beneficiaries under the NFSA.
  • Digi Yatra: It is new policy draft released by Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation. The initiative aims to develop standards for digital processing of passengers at airport to ensure uniform implementation and passenger experience across Indian airports through a connected ecosystem. A technical working committee having members from airport operators, airlines and industry has been formed for development of standards. DigiYatra Central Platform will be operational by end of February, 2019. Bangalore & Hyderabad International Airports will be ready with pilot implementation by end of February, 2019. Airport Authority of India (AAI) intends to roll out the programme initially at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada by April, 2019. DigiYatra will provide a pan-India powerful platform for future, adding that Airports will have the possibility of providing innovative services and consent based targeted services in future. Any service provider involved in facilitating travel of passenger from door to door will be able to use these platform in future through innovative solutions. The Minister asserted that the ultimate beneficiary will be the passengers, who will have all the travel related options available to them.
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  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA): It is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean. 21 countries in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) adopted the Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in the Indian Ocean Region. The Delhi Declaration on Renewable Energy in the Indian Ocean Region calls for collaboration among IORA member states in meeting the growing demand for renewable energy in the Indian Ocean littorals, development of a common renewable energy agenda for the Indian Ocean region and promote regional capacity building. The declaration also calls for promotion of technology development and transfer, strengthening of public private partnerships in renewable energy and collaboration among IORA member states and the member nations of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). IORA member countries also resolved to collaborate with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen Awards 2018: These are the awards given to states and districts for their sanitation status in public places. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave awards to top Ranked State, District and State with maximum citizen participation based on the National Swachh SurvekshanGrameen 2018 commissioned by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Haryana was ranked as the best State while Satara District of Maharashtra was ranked as the best district as per the ranking undertaken by Swachh SurvekshanGrameen 2018. Uttar Pradesh was rewarded for maximum citizens� participation. Overall Ranking: Top 3 States-1) Haryana, 2) Gujarat 3) Maharashtra. Top 3 Districts 1) Satara, Maharashtra 2) Rewari, Haryana 3) Pedapalli, Telangana. States with maximum citizen participation 1) Uttar Pradesh 2) Gujarat 3) Maharashtra. Districts with maximum citizens� participation 1) Nashik, Maharashtra 2) Solapur, Maharashtra 3) Chittorgarh, Rajasthan
  • Loo Review campaign: It is a campaign launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, under the aegis of Swachh Bharat Mission � Urban (SBM � U), has partnered with Google to to encourage all local guides in India to rate and review public toilets on Google Maps. This campaign is part of a feature which allows all citizens to locate public toilets in their cities on Google Maps, Search and the Assistant and also provide feedback on the same. 500+ cities in India with more than 30,000 toilets with the name of �SBM Toilet� are currently live on Google Maps. One of the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission � Urban (SBM - U) is to provide sanitation coverage through public toilet facilities across cities in India for achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. With around 3400cities already having achieved ODF status, and other cities gearing up towards the same, there is now a need to ensure that the ODF status is sustained through continuous usage and proper maintenance of public toilets. The joint campaign to be run throughout October and November 2018 is an effort to increase the awareness and ease of locating public toilets across India. The campaign will involve and engage Local Guides in India to rate and review public toilets on Google Maps, and use the hashtag #LooReview for the chance to be featured on Google Local Guides� social channels. Local Guides are people who share reviews, photos, and knowledge on Google Maps to help people explore the world.
  • NITI Aayog: It is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. NITI Aayog has joined hands with Cloud major Oracle, Apollo Hospitals and global pharmaceutical manufacturer Strides Pharma Sciences to pilot a real drug supply chain, using Blockchain decentralised ledger and Internet of Things (IoT) software. The collaboration is aimed to bring transparency, accountability and efficiency in tracing and tracking drugs manufactured in the country. The agreement was signed by Anna Roy, Advisor (Industry), NITI Aayog and Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India, in the presence of Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals.
  • Bullet train: It is a high-speed rail is a type of rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialized rolling stock and dedicated tracks. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed two agreements with the Government of India to provide Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) and the Kolkata East-West Metro Project. The objective of the project is to develop a high-frequency mass transportation system by constructing the High-Speed Rail between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, using Japan's Shinkansen technology (also known as the "Bullet Train"), thereby enhancing mobility in India and contributing to regional economic development.
  • SATAT: It is a new initiative aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs. It was launched by Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship with PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs ,i.e. IOC, BPCL and HPCL) inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels. This significant move has the potential to boost availability of more affordable transport fuels, better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste, as well as to provide an additional revenue source to farmers.
  • Tobacco package warning messages : These are warning messages that appear on the packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products concerning their health effects. They have been implemented in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. India has slipped to the fifth position among 206 countries in terms of the largest pictorial warning on cigarette packs with 85 per cent of both sides of the packets covered, according to a report released by the Canadian Cancer Society. India secured the fifth rank, jointly with Hong Kong and Thailand, in the Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report 2018. While India has maintained the size of the pictorial warning on tobacco packaging, it slipped two places as other countries have improved on the parameter. The report released Monday highlighted that 118 countries worldwide have made pictorial warnings mandatory, representing a global public health achievement, and 58 per cent of the world's population is covered by this regulation. Timor-Leste has the largest warnings on cigarette packages in the world with 92.5 per cent on front and back, followed by Nepal and Vanuatu with 90 per cent and New Zealand at fourth with 87.5 per cent. This is the sixth Canadian Cancer Society international report on cigarette package health warnings. Previous reports were published in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
  • Dome: It is a rounded vault forming the roof of a building or structure, typically with a circular base. Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has inaugurated the world largest dome in MIT World Peace University in Pune. VP Venkaiah Naidu and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis appreciated the efforts of MIT in bringing together such a facility in the country. All the statues in the dome are made by 93 year old famous sculpture Ram V Sutir. The dome can house over a thousand people together and has spititual symbols of all religions in the world. With 160ft diameter and 263 feet height, this would be one of the largest dome in the world. Earlier the largest dome was at Vatican city with 136 ft diameter and 448 ft height. Vice president Venkaiah Naidu on this prestigious occasion dedicated the World Peace Monument to mankind. World Parliament with 110 speakers and thousands of delegates from around the world are expected to participate and speak on a wide spectrum spanning the spiritual and scientific realms over different sessions.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Nobel Prize: The Nobel Prize is a set of six annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895.
  • 2018 Nobel Physics Prize : Arthur Ashkin of the United States won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros) prize, while Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada shared the other half.
  • 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize: Two immunologists, James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won this year's Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer.
  • 2018 Nobel Chemistry Prize: US scientists Frances Arnold and George Smith and British researcher Gregory Winter won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for applying the principles of evolution to develop enzymes used to make everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Arnold, just the fifth woman to win the Nobel Chemistry Prize, won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros) award, while Smith and Winter shared the other half.
  • 2018 Nobel Peace Prize: Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. The prize is worth nine million Swedish kronor (USD 1.01 million).The winners have been chosen from among 331 nominations (216 individuals and 115 organisations) which the second highest number of nominees ever, next only to the 376 nominated in 2016.

Defence:

  • Astra: It is an all-weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully test fired the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Astra from a Su-30 aircraft, the Defence Ministry said. The missile, tested at Kalaikunda Air Force Station, "successfully engaged a manoeuvring target with high precision meeting the mission objectives". In the series of trials held till date, Astra has been launched in the complete Su-30 flight envelope. The flight test assumes significance as it was part of the series of final pre-induction trials. Astra, deemed to be the best in class weapon system, has undergone more than 20 developmental trials.

Economics:

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI): It is a development financial institution in India, headquartered at Lucknow and having its offices all over the country. Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), had launched a National Level Entrepreneurship Awareness Campaign. SIDBI will join to contribute to �the transformation mission� unleashed for these districts. The campaign would be running parallelly from 3rd October to 8thOctober, 2018 across India. The campaign would create and strengthen cadre of more than 800 trainers to provide entrepreneurship training to the aspiring youths across these districts thus encouraging them to enter the admired segment of entrepreneurs.


Current Affairs - November 2018


Current Affairs October 28 to November 03

International Current News

  • Seychelles: It is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It's home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. The Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond — a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects. The initiative was launched at supporting the expansion of marine protected areas‚ improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy. Making the annoucement, Vincent Meriton‚ vice-president of Seychelles said, 'We are honoured to be the first nation to pioneer such a novel financing instrument. The blue bond‚ which is part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses‚ will greatly assist Seychelles in achieving a transition to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding our oceans while we sustainably develop our blue economy. Marine resources are critical to the Seychelles’ economic growth. After tourism‚ the fisheries sector is the country’s most important industry‚ contributing significantly to annual GDP and employing 17% of the population. Fish products make up around 95% of domestic exports.

National Current News

  • Indian Railways: It is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It manages the fourth-largest railway network in the world by size, with 121,407 kilometres of total track over a 67,368-kilometre route. India is currently building the world’s highest railway line.The proposed 465km-long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh route will include 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges—reducing the travel time from Delhi to Leh from 40 hours to 20 hours. According to an official source, the project will cost of Rs 83,360 crore, the railway line will pass through the Shivaliks, the Himalayas and the Zanskar range along with four mountain passes: Rohtang La, Barlacha La, Lachung La and Tangla La. Enroute, it will connect important locations between Bilaspur and Leh, such as Sundernagar, Mandi, Manali, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu, plus cater to the other towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Its contender, China’s Qinghai-Tibet line, connects Xining in Qinghai to the Tibetian capital of Lhasa. In Bilaspur, the line will commence at an elevation of 500 metres and culminate in Leh at 3,215 metres. The highest point on the route will be Tanglangla Pass at 5,360 metres. More than half of the line will be underground. Close to the Sino-India border, the line will feature a 27-km long tunnel with Keylong station inside—the first station in a tunnel on the Indian Railway network.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act:It is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been generated 92 % wage payments within 15 days. According to an official release, wage payment was 26.85% in 2014-15, indicating the remarkable improvement towards making timely payments. The allocation of MGNREGA was also increased to a record Rs. 55,000 crore in 2018-19. So far, the Central Government has released over Rs. 45,070 crore to the States. Including State shares, over Rs. 50,000 crore is available for work so far. On receipt of audited accounts from the State Governments, additional funds are being released this week to ensure sufficient availability in all the States. The thrust on completion of incomplete works is showing with a record Rs. 1.70 crore assets completed in the last 30 months. These assets have been for Natural Resource Management (NRM), Water Conservation works, durable assets, and a very large number of Individual Beneficiary Schemes including a 90/95 days’ work availability for poor households in the construction of their own houses under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). Independent evaluation studies have indicated the success of Natural Resource Management in improving incomes, acreage, productivity, fodder availability, and water table. Similarly, independent assessment of Individual Beneficiary Schemes especially for animal resources has acknowledged their contribution in livelihood diversification and poverty reduction.
  • Statue of Unity : It is the name of the tallest statue in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest statue at 182 metres -built in honour of freedom fighter and India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Built at a cost of Rs 2,989 crores, the project took 42 months to complete. Apart from the statue itself, there are five other related sites that are constructed along with the world’s tallest statue. These include the walkway, the ticket counter, the food court, the four-lane approach highway, and the ‘Shrestha Bharat Bhavan’- a 52-room three-star lodging facility for the visitors coming to see the monument. The statue stands on Sadhu island on the Narmada in Gujarat and is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US.
  • Nextgen Shatabdi Express:It is a new and the country’s first engine-less semi-high speed train - "Train 18" - was rolled out by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF). This train will eventually replace the Shatabdi Express for inter-city travel. The 16-coach semi-high speed 'trainset' built at a cost of Rs 100 crore per rake with 80 per cent Indian component has been designed for a maximum operating speed of 160 kmph. Fitted with CCTV cameras, Train-18 would have two executive compartments in the middle with 52 seats each, whereas trailer coaches would have 78 seats each.
  • International Solar Alliance : It is an alliance of more than 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The Union Cabinet gave its approval for moving a resolution in the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to amend the framework agreement of the alliance to open up its membership to all UN countries. The decision was taken to put solar energy on the global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy. The Cabinet also apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Russia on October 5. The MoUs/ MoCs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. They will also facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/ workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.
  • Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) : It is a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Union Government’s Support and Outreach Initiative for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Besides Delhi, similar launch programmes will be held at 100 locations across the country, where Union Ministers, and Ministers from State Governments will be present. All these locations will also connect with Delhi, for the main event, which will include a special address by the Prime Minister. He is expected to touch upon several matters of vital interest to the MSME sector.
  • Veer Surendra Sai Airport : It is a new name given for Jharsuguda Airport, Odisha. It should be noted that Veer Surendra Sai is a well-known freedom fighter of Odisha. Renaming of the Jharsuguda airport in his name will fulfill long-pending demand of the Odisha Government, which reflects the sentiments of the local public of the respective area. It will also be a befitting tribute to the contribution of the revered personality associated with the State.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Technology Facility Center (TFC): It is a new centre established in the premises of the CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST) in Jorhat, Assam. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) will bear the cost of setting up of this new Science Centre and has, to begin with, allocated Rs.40 crore for its construction. Present on this historic occasion were, among others, Member of Lok Sabha from Jorhat, Kamkhya Prasad Tasa, Director CSIR-NEIST Dr S. Chattopadhyaya, Chairman Research Council Dr G.N. Qazi, Secretary NEC (North-Eastern Council) Shri Ram Muivah, Vice-Chancellor and National University, Dr Pardeshi Lal. TFC will prove to be a boon for young aspiring youth and will emerge as a Center of Excellence for all the eight States of Northeast as well as the rest of India.
  • Social media : These are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks US scientists have developed a web-based tool to help monitor the prevalence of fake news on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Developed by researchers at the University of Michigan in the US, the tool uses a Platform Health Metric called the Iffy Quotient, which draws data from two external entities: NewsWhip and Media Bias/Fact Checker. NewsWhip, a social media engagement tracking firm, collects URLs on hundreds of thousands of sites every day and then gathers information on which of those sites have engagements on Facebook and Twitter. Iffy Quotient queries NewsWhip for the top 5,000 most popular URLs on the two social media platforms. Then the tool checks to see if those domain names have been flagged by Media Bias/Fact Check, an independent site that classifies various sources based on their reliability and bias. The first report issued by the researchers confirms what was suspected about the 2016 US presidential election: the Iffy Quotient increased dramatically on both Facebook and Twitter during the election.

Defence:

  • Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star Admiral, commands the navy. The Indian defense ministry has awarded Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Limited a contract to design, construct and supply four survey vessels for the Indian Navy. A request for proposals was issued to GRSE, Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and two private shipyards by the Indian Navy in April 2016, with GRSE emerging as the lowest & successful bidder. The order value for these four vessels is Rs. 2435.15 crore (approx. USD 330 million). The first ship is to be delivered within 36 months and remaining within an interval of six months for each vessel. The project completion time is 54 months from date of signing the contract. According to the defense ministry, the 110-meter long ships will displace 3,300 tonnes and have a complement of 231. They will perform full-scale coastal and deep-water hydrographic survey of ports and harbors, approaches and determination of navigational channels/routes.
  • Agni I missile:Agni-I is a short-range ballistic missile developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. It is a single-stage missile developed after the Kargil War to fill the gap between 250 km range of Prithvi-II and 2,500 km range of Agni-II. A night trial of India's indigenously developed nuclear-capable Agni-1 ballistic missile with a strike range of 700 km was successfully conducted today from a test range off Odisha coast as part of a user trial by the Army. The launch of the surface-to-surface missile was undertaken as a part of periodic training activity by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) from Dr Abdul Kalam Island to consolidate operational readiness. Describing the trial as successful, they said all mission objectives were met during the test.
  • Kepler Telescope : It is a retired space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars. Named after astronomer Johannes Kepler, the spacecraft was launched on March 7, 2009, into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit. US has decided to retire the Kepler space telescope as it has run out of fuel. The telescope will be retired after a 9-1/2-year mission in which it detected thousands of planets beyond our solar system and boosted the search for worlds that might harbour alien life. Currently orbiting the sun 156 million km from the earth, the spacecraft will drift further from our planet when mission engineers turn off its radio transmitters. The telescope laid bare the diversity of planets that reside in our Milky Way galaxy, with findings indicating that distant star systems are populated with billions of planets, and even helped pinpoint the first moon known outside our solar system. The Kepler telescope discovered more than 2,600 of the roughly 3,800 exoplanets — the term for planets outside our solar system — that have been documented in the past two decades. The telescope has now run out of the fuel needed for further operations.

Economics:

  • International Air Transport Association (IATA) : It is a trade association of the world’s airlines. It consist of 290 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA's member airlines account for carrying approximately 82 % of total Available Seat Miles air traffic. India is said to become the third largest aviation market in 2024. Releasing the latest update to IATA’s 20-year Air Passenger Forecast, the grouping also cautioned that growth prospects for air transport and the economic benefits driven by aviation could be curtailed if protectionist measures are implemented by governments. The present trends in air transport suggest passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion in 2037. The Asia-Pacific region is projected to drive the biggest growth with more than half the total number of new passengers over the next 20 years coming from these markets. The growth is being driven by a combination of continued robust economic growth, improvements in household incomes and favourable population and demographic profiles. According to the IATA, China would displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market in the mid-2020s. Aviation market is defined in terms of traffic to, from and within a country, as per the grouping.
  • State Bank of India (SBI): It is a public sector banking and financial services company. It is a government-owned corporation headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The company is ranked 216th on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world's biggest corporations (2017). State Bank of India was authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds with effect from October 1 to 10. These could be done at 29 of the bank’s authorised branches. According to the provisions of the Electoral Bond scheme notified in January this year, these bonds could be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or an entity incorporated or established in India. An individual can buy electoral bonds either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the previous Lok Sabha or Assembly election are eligible to receive the electoral bonds.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. It commenced its operations on 1 April 1935 in accordance with the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The Reserve Bank has annouced that it will inject Rs 40,000 crore into the system in November through the purchase of government securities as it looks to meet festive season demand for funds. The central bank had already injected Rs 36,000 crore into the system in October through open market operation (OMO). According to a release, ‘Based on an assessment of the durable liquidity needs going forward, RBI has decided to conduct purchase of Government securities under OMOs for an aggregate amount of Rs 40,000 crore in the month of November 2018. The auction dates and the government securities to be purchased in respective auctions would be communicated in due course, it added. “The OMO amount stated ... is indicative and RBI retains the flexibility to change it, depending on the evolving liquidity and market conditions.” The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had earlier stated that the system liquidity would move into deficit in the second half of 2018-19 and evolving liquidity conditions would determine its choice of instruments for both transient and durable liquidity management.
  • World Bank: It is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association. India improved its ranking for the second straight year on the back of reforms related to insolvency, taxation and other areas according World Bank business ranking. India was ranked 100th in the World Bank's Doing Business report last year. The ranking comes as a shot in the arm for the Narendra Modi government which faces strong dissenting voices from opposition parties ahead of the general elections next year. In its annual 'Doing Business' 2019 report, World Bank said India improved its rank on six out of the 10 parameters relating to starting and doing business in a country.

Environment:

  • Green crackers: These are crackers that do not contain harmful chemicals” that would cause air pollution. Components in firecrackers are replaced with others that are “less dangerous” and “less harmful” to the atmosphere. The Supreme Court has permitted the sale and manufacture of low emission "green" firecrackers countrywide and fixed a two-hour time period from 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting them on Diwali and other festivals. The order was delivere by a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan also restrained e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon from selling firecrackers which were beyond the permissible limit. The apex court's order came on a plea seeking a ban on manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution. The bench also said that e-commerce websites will be hauled up for contempt of court if they don't adhere to the court's direction.
  • Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) : It has been recognized as the premier institution for research and development in electrochemical science and technology. CECRI has developed new firecrackers that promise to be less polluting without compromising on the sound or light effect. Making the announcement, Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan has announced development of a set of new firecrackers that promise to be less polluting without compromising on the sound or light effect. The new crackers have been developed by scientists of two national labs - Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) based in Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur. The researchers at CECRI have developed green crackers by modifying the chemical formulations for flower pots, `jil jil’ and so-called atom bombs. Crackers essentially comprise of alkali nitrates, aluminum powder of different grain sizes and in some cases a binder to enhance luminescence. Aluminum is used as a primary heat source and to produce the flash. The researchers at NEERI have developed greener version of what are called `bijli’ crackers. Three prototypes have been developed and named SWAS (safe water releaser), SAFAL (safe minimum aluminum) and STAR (safe thermite cracker). The particulate matter was reduced by 30-35 per cent in SWAS and 35 to 40 per cent in SAFAL and STAR.

Current Affairs November 04 to November 10

International Current News

  • The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) :It is the postal agency of the United Nations. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for the United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for the offices in Geneva and in euros (formerly schillings) for the offices in Vienna. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation. The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event sheet on October 19 to commemorate the festival of Diwali. India on Wednesday thanked the UN Postal Administration for issuing special postal stamps to commemorate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. “The struggle between Good & Evil happens everyday @UN. Thank you @UNStamps for portraying our common quest for the triumph of Good over Evil in your 1st set of Diwali stamps on the occasion of the auspicious Festival of Lights,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. The sheet in the denomination of USD 1.15 contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and the symbolic lamps known as diyas. The background of the sheet features the United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with the message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival. “Diwali, also known as Deepawali is the joyous and popular festival of lights, which is celebrated in India and by followers of many faiths across the world,” the UN agency had said in its description accompanying information about the stamps.
  • Korea: It is a country located in a region in East Asia; since 1948 it has been divided between two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and neighbours Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan. The Ministry of Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Government for the Republic of Korea for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism in New Delhi today. K J Alphons, Union Tourism Minister and Do Jong-hwan Korean, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sports, Republic of Korea signed the MoU and officials from the Ministry and their counterparts from the Korean side were also present during the signing ceremony. The MoU was signed by two parties desiring to strengthen and further develop the established relationship for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism. The main objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding are, to expand bilateral cooperation in tourism sector, increase Exchange of information and data related to tourism, encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders including Hotels and Tour Operators, establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resources Development, encourage Investment in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors, exchange visits of Tour Operators, Media, Opinion Makers for promotion of two way tourism, exchange experience in the areas of promotion, marketing destination development and management, encourage participation in travel fairs/exhibitions in each other’s country, promote safe, honorable and sustainable tourism.

National Current News

  • Turga Pumped Storage Project : It is a project designed to envisages utilization of rainfall in the catchment of the Turga Nala in Ayodhya hills for peak power generation for a Pumped Storage type project development. The project envisages construction of Upper Dam (C.A. 8.29 Sq. Km) across Turga Nala, a tributary of Subarnarekha river and a water conductor system with an underground Power House on the downstream of Upper Dam and a Lower Dam (augmenting the existing Turga Dam of I&W Dte., Govt. of West Bengal) having intermediate catchment of 4.37 sq. km (total C.A. 12.66 sq. km). India and Japan have signed a loan agreement of Rs 18.17 bn for the construction of the Turga Pumped Storage in West Bengal. The deal was signed by the Additional Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), C.S. Mohapatra, and Katsuo Matsumoto, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The objective of the project is to strengthen the capability to respond to fluctuation in supply and demand of power and to improve the stability of the power supply by constructing pumped storage facilities, thereby contributing to industrial development and improvement of living standards in the state of West Bengal.
  • Railways' UTS mobile app: It is a new mobile application which will enable booking and cancellation of unreserved tickets among other facilities. The Railways issued a statement saying that the app will also enable issue and renewal of season and platform tickets, check and load R-wallet balance and help maintain user profile management and booking history. The application which is called ‘utsonmobile’ has been developed by Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) and it can be used by both Android and Windows phones. To download the app from one can go to Google Play Store or Windows store free of cost. First the passenger will get registered by providing his/her mobile number, name, city, default booking train type, class, ticket type, number of passengers and frequently traveling routes. Upon successful registration, Railway Wallet (R-Wallet) will be created automatically with zero balance to the passenger. There will be no extra cost for creating R-Wallet. The R-Wallet can be recharged either at any of the UTS counter or through recharge option available in the https://www.utsonmobile.indianrail.gov.in website.
  • Bharat Ratan Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Cricket Stadium: It is the new name of the Ekana International Cricket Stadium located in Uttar Pradesh. The move comes ahead of the first-ever international cricket match that is set to take place in the state capital – the second T20 International of the three-match series between India and West Indies. UP Governor Ram Naik was the one who approved the government proposal to this effect. Orders for the same were issued by Principal Secretary (Housing) Nitin Ramesh Gokaran. Officials of the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) informed that the clause 17.5.1 of the agreement between Ekana Sports City Private Ltd, GC Constructions and Development Industries Pvt Ltd and the LDA says that the stadium will be named after the project is completed. The state government used the powers vested in it as per this clause, on the eve of the high-decibel match, and changed its name in the memory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away in August this year. Meanwhile, both cricket teams arrived in the city to a rousing welcome. The cricket mania has completely overtaken the Diwali festivities in the city and everyone seems to be scurrying for passes as the online tickets have been sold out. From ministers to bureaucrat sons, police officials, everyone worth their name on Monday evening was hunting for possibilities to see the match at the stadium which was built under the watch of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav during his tenure.
  • Operation Greens: It is a new scheme announced by Budget speech of 2018-19 with an outlay of Rs 500 crores to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion and Potato(TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility. Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI) under Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has approved the operationalisation strategy for Operation Greens. The strategy will comprise of a series of measures as decided by the Ministry which include, short term Price Stabilisation Measures. NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilisation measures. MoFPI will provide 50 % of the subsidy on the following two components, Transportation of Tomato Onion Potato(TOP) Crops from production to storage, hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops, Long Term Integrated value chain development projects, Capacity Building of FPOs & their consortium, Quality production, Post-harvest processing facilities, Agri-Logistics, Marketing / Consumption Points, Creation and Management of e-platform for demand and supply management of TOP Crops. The pattern of assistance will comprise of grants-in-aid at the rate of 50% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs 50 crores per project. However, in case where PIA is/are FPO(s), the grant-in-aid will be at the rate of 70 % of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs 50 crores per project.

Defence

  • IN Viraat: It was a Centaur-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The ship was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes, and decommissioned in 1984. It was sold to India in 1987. The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday approved the conversion of decommissioned carrier INS Viraat into a floating museum. As per primary estimates, the project worth 852 crore rupees will be implemented through public-private-partnership (PPP).A state Government press release said the decision has been taken to elicit interest among the school and college students in the marine sector. Besides, it will make the new generation familiar with the glorious history of INS Viraat. As per the proposal sent by the Maharashtra Government to the Union Defence Ministry, the carrier will be housed on a concrete foundation near Nivati Rocks in Sindhudurg in Konkan region of the state.

Economics

  • The Companies Act 2013: It is an Act of the Parliament of India on Indian company law which regulates incorporation of a company, responsibilities of a company, directors, dissolution of a company. The government has promulgated an ordinance to amend the company’s law. The proposal to issue an ordinance to amend the Companies Act, 2013, was cleared by the Cabinet Thursday. The official said the ordinance had received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind and has been promulgated. Details about the proposed amendments could not be immediately ascertained. The Corporate Affairs Ministry, which is implementing the Act, has been looking at ways to promote ease of doing business as well as ensure better compliance levels. Few months ago, government-appointed panel suggested various changes to the Act, including restructuring of corporate offences under the company’s law and an in-house adjudication mechanism to ensure that courts get more time to deal with serious violations.<
  • Public Credit Registry: It is a scheme created by Reserve Bank of India to offer a single-point and real-time source for financial liabilities of a person or entity. The RBI has initiated steps to promote Public Credit Registry. The decision is based on the report of the task force it had appointed last October, which pointed out that credit information is spread over multiple systems in bits and pieces, making it difficult to get a comprehensive view of the financial liabilities of a person or entity.The setting up of the PCR is significant as the financial information about borrowers exists at present in silos and often impacts the time taken to get a loan as well as the quantum of loan sanctioned. Within the RBI, CRILC is a borrower-level supervisory dataset with a threshold in aggregate exposure of ₹50 million, whereas the BSR-1 is a loan-level statistical dataset without any threshold in amount outstanding and focusses on the distribution aspects of credit disbursal. Also, there are four privately-owned credit information companies in the country.

Current Affairs November 11 to November 17

International Current News

  • World War I: A Statue commemorating role of Indian soldiers in World War I unveiled in France. For the first time in France A new statue commemorating the role of Indian soldiers in World War One was unveiled. The occasion was done to mark Armistice Day when the war ended in 1918. The seven-foot bronze statue in the town of Laventie commemorates over 4,700 soldiers and labourers from British India who lost their lives on the Western Front during World War I and have no known graves. The site in Laventie was chosen after the remains of two soldiers were identified as belonging to the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles and reburied with military honours last year. Col (retd) Deepak Dahiya, who served for 23 years in the Indian Army and is now based in Paris, said this marks the commencement of a project to establish 57 such statues near all cemeteries where Indian soldiers lie buried in France.
  • United Kingdom: It is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture. India and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaboration in cancer research, the Ministry of Science and Technology. The pact between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for the India-UK Cancer Research Initiative was signed here for collaboration for the next five years. Both CRUK and DBT will invest five million pounds each in this five-year pilot project, and seek further investment from other potential funding partners. The India-UK Cancer Research Initiative will identify a core set of research challenges that address issues of affordability, prevention and care of cancer patients by bringing together leading Indian and UK experts in clinical research, demographic research, new technologies and physical sciences, the statement said. "The initiative will provide funding to develop new research alliances and undertake impactful research to enable significant progress against cancer outcomes," the statement added.

National Current News

  • National Data Repository: It is a data storage initiative which collects reliable exploration and production data for India with provisions for seamless access and on-line data management. The aim of the repository is to validate, store, maintain and reproduce high quality and reliable geoscientific data. Facilitate efficient data reporting, data exchange, and data trading among existing players including all geoscientific agencies. National Data Repository is equipped with cutting edge technology and provides ready access to interested companies. The Government has also brought out various others policy reforms including such as Coal Bed Methane policy, incentivize Enhanced Recovery for augmenting production of oil and gas from matured fields, exploration and exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbon from all fields.
  • Supreme Court: The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of judicial review. Consisting of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 30 other judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions. The Supreme Court has upheld the “presumption” that a couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and the woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. A Bench of Justices R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee observed that it is “fairly well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a number of years”. Citing past judgments of the apex court, the Bench quoted that “where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her”.
  • Artillery Gun: It is a heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach fortifications, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has inducted three major artillery gun systems,including the M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers and the K-9 Vajra, into the Army. The third gun system inducted is the 'Composite Gun Towing Vehicle' for towing some of the existing guns in service with the country, while K-9 Vajra is a self-propelled artillery gun. The induction ceremony comes ahead of establishing the first regiment- each comprising of about 18 guns- of the M777s and the Vajra by around mid next year, an official said. For procuring 145 M777s, India in November 2016 had entered into a contract with the United States under the Foreign Military Sales programme for Rs. 5,070 crore. The M777s, which have been used in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be easily transported to high altitude areas by helicopters.
  • Whatsapp: WhatsApp is a freeware and cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook. The application allows the sending of text messages and voice calls, as well as video calls, images and other media, documents, and user location. WhatsApp has announced that it has selected 20 research teams to curb fake news. The teams include experts from India and those of Indian origin - who will work towards how misinformation spreads and what additional steps the mobile messaging platform could take to curb fake news. Each of the 20 research teams will receive up to $50,000 (roughly Rs. 36,30,300) for their project (for a total of $1 million).

Sports Current News

  • Bajrang Punia: He is a Indian Wrestler who becames World No 1 in 65 Kg category. The 24-year-old Bajrang was placed atop the ranking table with 96 points in the United World Wrestling (UWW) list. Bajrang has won five medals this season, including Common Wealth Games and the Asian Games gold and a silver at the World Championship in Budapest. Bajrang was also the only Indian grappler to be given a seeding at the Budapest World Championship. Cuba's Alejandro Enrique Vlades Tobier is a distant second with 66 points. Russia's Akhmed Chakaev is in third place. Interestingly, Bajrang is the lone male Indian to figure in top-10 but the country has five female wrestlers who are in top-10 bracket in their respective categories. They are Pooja Dhanda, Ritu Phogat, Sarita Mor, Navjot Kaur and Kiran.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) : It is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. As one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, it is recognised as an Institute of National Importance. has developed a portable solar-powered cold storage device with a 500 kg capacity for storing vegetables, and fruits, among other items. The device will help farmers store their produce for sufficient time so that it does not get spoilt before it is sold, thereby preventing wastage of agricultural produce. The first unit of the device, which provides storage facility with temperature ranging between four and 10 degree celsius, was deployed at a farm in Madurantakam in Kancheepuram district, around 80 km from Chennai.
  • SpiNNaker: It is the world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time. The Spiking Neural Network Architecture machine is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors. SpiNNaker, built at the University of Manchester in the U.K., can model more biological neurons. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy. It is unique as it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations. SpiNNaker completely re-thinks the way conventional computers work.
  • GSAT 29: It is the newest communication satellite launched Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is was launched into orbit on the GSLV-MkIII D2's second developmental flight from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. At exactly 5.08 pm, the GSLV-Mk III rocket began fly from the second launchpad in Sriharikota. The MkIII, in its second developmental test launch before its carries Indian astronauts to space, launched the GSAT-29 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite will then be positioned in Earth's Geostationary Orbit (GEO) using thrusters, at an altitude of 207 kilometres above ground

Environment

  • UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme: It is an award, which recognizes the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. Restoration of an aristocratic house from a state of partial ruin in Ladakh has won a UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for conservation. While the Ladakh project won in the category of Award of Distinction under the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, rejuvenation of a university clock tower and a fountain in Mumbai have jointly received Honourable Mention, along with a project in China. The LAMO Center in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region was chosen for its systematic restoration project that used salvaged and local building materials, and indigenous construction techniques while adroitly introducing modern amenities to assure its ongoing use, UNESCO Bangkok said in a statement. "The recovery of the aristocratic house from a state of partial ruin establishes an important precedent for conserving the non-monumental urban fabric of Leh Old Town," it said. In its citation for the award for the Ladakh project, the jury said, "A dynamic programme of arts activities enlivens its space for the benefit of both local residents and visitors."
  • Global Cooling Prize: It is a prize launched by Union Environment Ministry. Prize which is set in international standards, aims to encourage the development of a residential cooling technology which impacts the environment five times lesser than the standard Room Air Conditioning (RAC). Besides, it encourages participants from worldwide to innovate technology to rapidly lessen the harmful impact of cooling technology on climate. The key objective of the competition is to develop climate-friendly residential cooling solutions which would provide an access to cooling without increasing to global warming. The desired technology could prevent up to 100 gigatons (GT) of CO2- equivalent emissions by 2050.
  • Annual Refresher Programme In Teaching (ARPIT):It is a new scheme launched by Human Resource Development. It aims to empowering the teaching faculty. Committed teachers will develop confidence and competence and must become effective communicators so that they can spread knowledge like the rays of the sun. Combining the qualities of a good teacher and an effective leader is still more daunting task but not an impossible task.
  • Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) : It is a new scheme launched by Ministry of Human Resource Development. It is aimed to transform quality of teaching and improve leaders, thereby enhancing the quality of higher education institutions. LEAP will help in creating better higher education leaders of tomorrow. He appealed to all faculties in higher education to take benefit of these two initiatives.
  • Multi-modal terminal Project: It is first of the four multi-modal terminals being constructed on the National Waterway-1 (river Ganga) as part of the World Bank-aided Jal Marg Vikas project of the Inland Waterways Authority of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated India's first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in his parliamentary constituency and received the country's first container cargo transported on inland waterways from Kolkata. The objective of the project is to promote inland waterways as a cheap and environment-friendly means of transportation, especially for cargo movement. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project implementing agency. The project entails construction of three multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia), two inter-modal terminals, five roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs, new navigation lock at Farakka in West Bengal, assured depth dredging, integrated vessel repair and maintenance facility, differential global positioning system (DGPS), river information system (RIS), river training. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,369.18 crore, which will be equally shared between the Government of India and the World Bank. Earlier, upon his arrival here, the prime minister was given a detailed presentation of the waterways and watched a short film on the viability of the waterways between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Haldia in West Bengal.
  • Yuva Sahakar-Cooperative Enterprise Support and Innovation Scheme: It is a new scheme launched National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for young men to cooperative business ventures. NCDC has created a dedicated fund with liberal features enabling youth to avail the scheme. The newly launched scheme would encourage cooperatives to venture into new and innovative areas. The scheme will be linked to Rs 1000 crore ‘Cooperative Start-up and Innovation Fund (CSIF)’ created by the NCDC. It would have more incentives for cooperatives of North Eastern region, Aspirational Districts and cooperatives with women or SC or ST or PwD members. The funding for the project will be up to 80% of the project cost for these special categories as against 70% for others. The scheme envisages 2% less than the applicable rate of interest on term loan for the project cost up to Rs 3 crore including 2 years moratorium on payment of principal. All types of cooperatives in operation for at least one year are eligible.

Economics

  • Dredging Corporation of India Limited(DCI): It is a Indian public sector unit engaged in the business of dredging. DCI does dredging for Indian seaports exclusively. It occasionally dredges at foreign seaports in countries such as Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Dubai. It is mainly involved in maintenance dredging. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given ‘in principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of 100 per cent, Government of India's shares in DCIL to consortium of four ports namely, Vishakhapatnam Port Trust, Paradeep Port Trust, Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust. Presently the Government of India holds 73.44 % shares in Dredging Corporation of India Limited. The approval will further facilitate the linkage of dredging activities with the ports, keeping in view the role of the DCIL in expansion of dredging activity in the country as well as potential scope for diversification of ports into third party dredging. The co-sharing of facilities between the company as well as ports shall lead to savings for ports. This would further provide opportunities for larger investment in DCIL as integration with ports shall help ineffective vertical linkage in the value chain.
  • IndusInd Bank: It is a Mumbai based Indian new generation bank, established in 1994. The bank offers commercial, transactional and electronic banking products and services. IndusInd Bank has announced the launch of IndusInd Bank Nexxt Credit Card, which empowers customers with a choice of payment options such as EMI, Reward Points or Credit at the push of a button, on the card, at the point of sale (POS). The bank claims it to be the nation’s first interactive credit card with buttons. According to the bank, this card provides customers with the flexibility of 3 payment options at a POS terminal — Credit, Converting Transactions into EMIs with 4 tenure options (6, 12, 18 & 24 months) or using accumulated Reward Points, by simply pushing a button on the card. The card has been created in partnership with Dynamics Inc, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh USA, and designs and manufactures intelligent, battery powered payment cards.

Current Affairs November 18 to November 24

International Current News

  • Australia: It is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland. The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert wilderness called the Outback, and unique animal species like kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses. has refused to sign UN Migration pact. Australia will not be joining the United Nations-backed global pact on migration. Annoucement was made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison citing concerns that the deal would be used to "undermine Australia's strong border protection laws and practices." The Morrison government's decision comes as countries from around the world move to formally adopt the "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration" pact next month. The UN made the decision to come up with a global compact on migration in 2016, in the wake of the crisis in the Mediterranean, which has seen thousands of migrants die while attempting to cross into Europe. A draft of the agreement, which is not legally binding, was finalized in July after more than a year of work.
  • World Trade Organisation: It is an intergovernmental organization that regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 124 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which commenced in 1948. World Trade Organization has decided to setup a panel to solve the US tariff disputes. The decision comes after United States and China clashed at a World Trade Organization meeting with a U.S. envoy accusing Beijing of using the WTO to pursue “non-market” policies and a Chinese official saying it was Washington that was flouting the rulebook. U.S. President Donald Trump has outraged U.S. trading partners by erecting a tariff wall against imports of steel and aluminum - justified by U.S. national security concerns - and has hit Chinese goods with huge tariffs over accusations of stealing U.S. intellectual property.

National Current News

  • Kartarpur Corridor : It is a proposed border-corridor (border gate) between India and Pakistan connecting the Sikh Holy shrine of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib to the holy shrine of Kartarpur Sahib (also referred to as Kartarpur Gurdwara )states of Punjab in India and Pakistan. The main goal of this proposed corridor is to facilitate the crossing of religious devotees to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, located in Narowal District, Pakistan, 120 km from Lahore but only three kilometres from the Indian side of the border. Government has approved the construction and development of the Kartarpur Corridor from the Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the India-Pakistan border. The decision was made at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in view of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019. The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur shrine in Narowal in Pakistan's Punjab province is of religious importance to Sikhs as it is the site where Guru Nanak Dev settled down after his travels as a missionary. He lived there for 18 years until his death.
  • Allied and Healthcare Council of India: It is a newly planned statutory body. It was approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Mod. The establishment of an Allied and Healthcare Council of India and corresponding State Allied and Healthcare Councils which will play the role of standard-setters and facilitators for professions of Allied and Healthcare. It is considered a landmark legislation which will provide employment opportunities to millions of youth in the country and will help standardize allied healthcare. The Central and State Allied and Healthcare Councils will include 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams. He further added that Professional Advisory Bodies under Central and State Councils will examine issues in detail and provide recommendations relating to specific recognized categories.
  • Supreme Court of India: It is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of judicial review. The Supreme Court has said that it would direct all the states to implement the draft witness protection scheme framed by the Centre in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench of justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer that the draft scheme, which has now been finalised, would be made into a law "in due course", but till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it. "We will pass an order. We will give directions to all the states to start implementing it (scheme)," the bench told Venugopal. The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu.
  • Hookah lounge (Hookah Bar) : It is a place where people share is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco. Punjab government has permanently banned Hookah bars in the state. President of India Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to a Bill from the state to check use of tobacco. Punjab is the third state in the country after Gujarat and Maharashtra where hookah bars or lounges were banned through law. There were complaints of use of drugs in these bars in Punjab. As per available data, an hour’s average of hookah smoking contains 20-200 puffs, which can deliver 50 litres of smoke, containing harmful and carcinogenic chemicals. Smoking of hookah increases health risks includes exposure to toxic chemicals that are not filtered out by the water, and also the risk of infectious disease like tuberculosis resulting from sharing a hookah.
  • Institution Innovation Council (IIC) Program: It is a new initiative launched by Union Human Resources Ministry. Ministry of Human Resource Development has established an “Innovation cell” at AICTE with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country. The purpose of formation of network of Institution’s Innovation Councils (IICs) is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years. More than 1000 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have already formed IICs in their campuses and enrolled for the IIC network managed by MHRD’s Innovation cell to promote innovation through multitudinous modes leading to an innovation promotion eco-system in their campuses. Universities are the main research centers of developed countries and because of their research they are at the top in global innovation ranking. Indian universities are also settingup research centers through ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) program and we are expecting good rank in global innovation ranking in next 2-3 years through this initiative.
  • Hospital for elephants : India's first specialized hospital for elephants was opened in Mathura (UP). The hospital was formally opened by Agra Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar at Farah block's Churmura village. The unique medical centre offers wireless digital X-ray, laser treatment, dental X-ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, hydrotherapy and quarantine facilities. Located close to the elephant conservation and care centre, the hospital is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants and is equipped with a medical hoist for lifting elephants, as also an elephant restraining device with a dedicated indoor treatment enclosure for long duration medical procedures. An observation deck will allow veterinary students and interns to observe and learn about elephant's behaviour and treatment from a safe distance. The Wildlife SOS established the first elephant conservation and care centre in 2010 and is currently looking after 20 elephants requiring specialised treatment.
  • Nirbhaya Fund: It is fund scheme announced in 2013 to support state governments and NGOs working for women's safety. TheThe government has approved three new proposals - fast-track special courts, procurement of forensic kits in sexual assault cases and setting up video surveillance system at 50 railway stations under the Nirbhaya Fund. The new proposals have come from three ministries - Law, Home and Railways. Under the fund, the Ministry of Law and Justice has proposed to set up 1,023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) to dispose of pending cases of rape and those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act across the country. With a total financial implication of Rs 767.25 crore, the project in the first phase may be set up in nine states with 777 FTSCs while in second phase 246 FTSCs will come up. The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed procurement of forensic kits for sexual assault cases to kickstart usage of such kits in states/UTs through TOTs (Training of Trainers), capacity building/training for forensics in sexual assault cases and strengthening of State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSLs) under Nirbhaya Fund with a total financial implication of Rs 107.19 crore. Under the Railway Ministry, the proposal has come from Konkan Railway Corporation Limited for setting up video surveillance system at 50 railway stations with a total project cost of Rs 17.64 crore that will be utilised for surveillance hardware and accessories. Local connectivity equipment and power supply devices have also been approved. Also, in-principle approval was given to the proposal, from Ministry of Road Transport and highways, of C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) for customisation, deployment and management of state wise vehicle tracking platform for safety and enforcement with AIS (Advanced Info Service) 140 specifications.
  • Maternal leave : It is a period of absence from work granted to a mother before and after the birth of her child. The government will give employers the salaries for seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for women earning more than Rs 15,000 a month. According to an announcement from the Women and Child Development ministry, the scheme covers the government as well as the private sector, comes in the wake of complaints that many companies were reluctant hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks and some were even firing women employees.
  • AirSewa portal : It is a newly launched interactive web portal as well as through a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms. It will offer passengers a convenient and hassle-free air travel experience. The web portal and application will help to capture air travellers’ feedback for policy interventions. It is an upgraded version of earlier version of AirSewa portal, it provides superior user experience with enhanced functionalities. Major improvements include features such as secure sign-up and log-in with social media, chatbot for travellers support,improved grievance management including social media grievances, real-time flight status and details flight schedule. Air passengers face issues like flight delays, problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage.
  • Doing Business Grand Challenge: It is competition launched by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi at an event in Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi. The objective of this challenge is to invite innovative ideas based on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain and other cutting edge technology to reform Government processes. The platform for the Grand Challenge is the Startup India Portal. Addressing the gathering on this occasion, the Prime Minister complimented industry representatives and all others present, for their efforts in improving India’s ranking in “Ease of Doing Business (EoDB).”He recalled that when he had first articulated his vision for India to break into the Top 50 in EoDB rankings in the years to come, it was greeted with skepticism. He added, however, that a great improvement is now visible in just four years. He said the EoDB rank has improved by 65 spots in this period. He said India now ranks first in South Asia, and is just some steps away from the Top 50 target. He said that the Union and State Governments have both worked together towards improving EoDB, in the spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism.
  • Himalayan State Regional Council: It is a council constituted by NITI Aayog. It aims to ensure sustainable development of the Indian Himalayan region. Besides, it is constituted to review and implement identified action points based on the Reports of five Working Groups, which were established along thematic areas to prepare a roadmap for action. Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, Five Working Groups were constituted by NITI Aayog on June 2, 2017. These Working Groups were tasked with preparing a roadmap for action across five thematic areas namely, Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security, Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region, Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformation Approach, Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship (E&S) Landscape in Himalayas, and Data/Information for Informed Decision Making. The five thematic reports were released by the NITI Aayog in August, 2018 and framed the action points for the Terms of Reference of the Council constituted. The Himalayan State Regional Council will be chaired by the Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog and will consist of the Chief Secretaries of the Himalayan States as well as the Secretaries of key Central Ministries, senior officers of NITI Aayog as well as special invitees.
  • Industrial Park Rating System: It is a reported released by the Union Ministry for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation. Report was prepared to ensure that India moves into the top 50 countries in Ease of Doing Business. The Ministry has undertaken this exercise in studying infrastructure across states and in 3354 industrial clusters in order to assess quality of infrastructure in industrial parks. The system will be a useful tool for policy makers and investors at the click of a button. 3000 parks are on the database and the industrial parks have been rated on 4 points: internal infrastructure, external infrastructure, business services and facilities and environment, safety management.
  • IIT Hyderabad: The Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad is a public engineering and research institution located in Sangareddy district, Telangana, India. IITH is known for its academic strength, research, publications and proximity to IT and industrial hubs. Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, have develop smartphone-based system to detect adulteration in milk. The detector system measures acidity in milk using an indicator paper that changes colour according to acidity. They have also developed algorithms that can be incorporated on to a smartphone to accurately detect the colour change. IIT Professor Shiv Govind Singh, heading the research team, said, "While techniques such as chromatography and spectroscopy can be used to detect adulteration, such techniques generally require expensive set up and are not amenable to miniaturisation into low-cost easy-to-use devices. Hence, they do not appeal to the vast majority of milk consumers in the developing world." "We need to develop simple devices that the consumer can use to detect milk contamination. It should be possible to make milk adulteration detection fail safe by monitoring all of these parameters at the same time, without the need for expensive equipment," he said.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR): It is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines to advise hospitals in setting up Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes (AMSP) for the purpose. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health challenge, and with very few new antibiotics in the pipeline, it is important to use the existing drugs judiciously. Since inappropriate use of antibiotics is rampant in India, there is an urgent need to improve antibiotic use in hospitals, which can be achieved through implementation of good AMS programmes, Director General of the ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava said. These guidelines provide guidance for setting up structure and processes of Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes in healthcare institutions. It will help discuss essential elements of antimicrobial stewardship, diagnostic stewardship besides providing information on tools that can be used to measure progress.
  • The International Film Festival of India (IFFI): It is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. IT is annually, currently began in the state of Goa. The 49th International Film Festival of India began in Goa. It showcases New India through a variety of genres of cinema, including history, action, romance and sports. The state of focus is Jharkhand, with Jharkhand Day being celebrated on the 24th November as part of the festival. The Country of Focus is Israel. Ten films from Israel will be screened at the festival. Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha, Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore graced the occasion. The theme of this grand event is New India through a variety of genres of cinema. Themes of history, action and romance ran through the colourful opening ceremony. Sonu Sood with his action packed set, and Shilpa Rao in a romantic number as well as dancers opening the ceremony with a mesmerising act left the audiences spell bound. The audience caught glimpses of the festival opening film "The Aspern Papers", which tells a story of obsession, grandeur lost and dreams of Byronic adventures.

Defence

  • Igla-S : It is a man-portable air defence missile system (MANPADS) is designed to engage all types of visually observable aircraft and helicopters. Indian Army is planning to induct Ingla-S Missile system from Russia. According to an official source, the Russian Igla-S system is expected to replace the IGLA M systems of Russia that is being used since the 1980s. Despite several complaints by the competitors, Russia’s Rosoboronexport has come out victorious and will soon be supplying $ 1.3 bn very short range air defense or VSHORAD program missile system to the Indian Army. The Russian Igla-S system is expected to replace the IGLA M systems of Russia that is being used since the 1980s. The deal is expected to be inked when Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical cooperation meeting will take place in Moscow in December.

Environment

  • New India frog species : Four new Indian species namely Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys himalayana); the Garo white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys oreocrypta); the Yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys flavipunctata); and the Giant Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys periosa) were discovered the Himalayan regions of Northeast India. The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Delhi University, University College Dublin (Ireland) and the National Museum (UK). The scientists said the frogs vary in size — yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog measures about 5.7-7.5 cm and is the smallest, while the Giant Himalayan horned frog measures about 7.1 to 11.2 cm, making it the “largest of the 15 horned frog species now known to occur in Northeast India”.
  • ACROSS: It is an abbreviation for Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services which is new scheme approved Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The committee has approved continuation of the nine sub-schemes of the umbrella scheme "Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)" during 2017-2020 at an estimated cost of Rs. 1450 crore. It will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its institutes namely India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service(INCOIS). The CCEA also approved establishment of National Facility for Airborne Research (NFAR) with a financial commitment of Rs 130 crore during 2020-21 and beyond. The scheme will provide improved weather, climate and ocean forecast and services, thereby ensuring transfer of commensurate benefits to the various services like Public weather service, disaster management, Agro-meteorological Services, Aviation services, Environmental monitoring services, Hydro-meteorological services, climate services, tourism, pilgrimage, power generation, water management, Sports & adventure etc.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB): It is a division which works under Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The United Nation Environment has awarded Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India with Asia Environment Enforcement Awards, 2018 for excellent work done by the Bureau in combating transboundary environmental crime. WCCB has been conferred this award in Innovation category. WCCB has adopted innovative enforcement techniques that have dramatically increased enforcement of transboundary environmental crimes in India. Notably it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to get real time data in order to help analyze trends in crime and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crimes across India. This system has been successfully used to analyse trends, helping put in preventive measures as well as for successfully carrying out operations such as Operation SAVE KURMA, THUNDERBIRD, WILDNET, LESKNOW, BIRBIL, THUNDERSTORM, LESKNOW-II along with other enforcement agencies resulting in the arrest of 350 wildlife criminals and huge seizures of Tiger/Leopard Skin/bones and other trophies, Rhino Horn, Elephant Ivory, turtles/tortoises, Mongoose raw hairs as well as Mangoose hair bruses, protected birds, Marine products, live Pangolin as well as its scales, deer antlers etc. across all the states.

Economics

  • Gold council of India:It is a domestic gold council which is proposed to be setup by government of India. Making the annoucement, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said the government has decided to set up a domestic gold council and an integrated gold policy to address all issues in a holistic way. Various stakeholders are being consulted on formulation of the policy and setting up of the council. It was in February earlier this year that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced formulation of a comprehensive gold policy to develop gold as an asset class. The policy aims to promote gold industry in the country and exports of gems and jewellery and also generate jobs in the sector.


Current Affairs - December 2018


Current Affairs November 25 to December 01

International Current News

  • China: It is the most populous and biggest economy in the world. It has avast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and more than 14,000km of coastline. India and China have agreed and signed protocol regarding fish meal and fish oil. According to an official release, the Vice Minister, General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), Hu Wei, led a six-member delegation to India to discuss various issues of market access for different products like milk and milk products, agricultural products like soy meal, fruits and vegetables, tobacco and pharmaceutical products for which India has been seeking market access from China. Departments of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare and Health and Family Welfare and associated agencies participated in the meetingheld today in New Delhi. The meeting was coordinated by the Department of Commerce. Both the Indian and Chinese sides appreciated each other’s concerns and agreed to resolve the market access issues expeditiously to achieve the vision of the leaders of both the countries by promoting a more balanced trade. A protocol on Hygiene and Inspection requirements for the export of Fish Meal and Fish Oil from India to China was signed today. The signing of Protocol formalises the consensus reached by both sides on hygiene and inspection requirements of fish meal and fish oil to be exported from India to China, and will enable India to commence export of fish meal and fish oil to China.

National Current News

  • Logix India 2019 : It is a national event focus on the importance of logistics. Logix India 2019 is scheduled to take place in New Delhi from 31stJanuary to 2ndFebruary 2019.The mega logisticsevent is being organized by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) as a major initiative to improvelogistics cost effectiveness and operational efficiencies for India’s global trade. Over 20 countries are sending delegations to explore logistics partnerships with India and FIEO is focusing on logistical solutions for difficult to reach markets.Over 100 international delegates are expected to attend Logix India 2019.FIEOwill also focus on investment opportunities in infrastructure development, warehouse consolidation, technology integration and IT enablement andskilling of manpower at the three-day meet.
  • 112: It is a single emergency system launch by Himachal Pradesh government. The system will connect to police, fire, health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre (ERC) in the state. According to an official source, under the project, one ERC has been established in Shimla along with 12 District Command Centres covering the entire state. The ERC has been integrated with police (100), fire (101), health (108) and women helpline (1090) services to provide emergency services via single emergency number 112. The service is part of the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) which includes a '112 India' mobile app integrated with panic button of smartphones and ERSS state website for ease of citizen in availing immediate assistance. Ensuring safety of women, a 'SHOUT' feature has been introduced in '112 India' mobile app to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from the immediate assistance from ERC. The SHOUT feature is exclusively available to women. To increase the effectiveness of emergency response, the ERC has also been integrated with location-based services provided by telecom service providers. It said the '112 India' mobile app will be subsequently rolled out in all states and Union Territories to help people across the country access the unified emergency services.
  • 70-feet tall statue of Lord Buddha: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has unveiled a 70-feet tall statue of Lord Buddha at Rajgir in Nalanda district. Mr Kumar unveiled the statue of Lord Buddha, the second tallest statue of Buddha in the country, in the presence of Mahabodhi temple's chief monk Bhante Chalinda amid the chanting of hymns. The statue has been installed above a 16 metre radius pedestal in the middle of the lake Ghora Katora and has been made from 45,000 cubic foot pink sand stone. Ghora Katora lake is a historical place. It is a natural lake surrounded by five hills where Lord Buddha's statue has been installed. People will visit the lake where they can also have the privilege of offering their prayers to Lord Buddha."

Sports Current News

  • 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup: It is the 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup field hockey tournament. The tournament is being held from 28 November to 16 December 2018, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India. A total of 16 countries will be participating in the tournament, namely hosts India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, England, Spain, Pakistan, New Zealand, France, China, South Africa, Malaysia, Canada and Ireland. A total of 36 matches will be played during the 19 day event.
  • Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI): It is the national governing body for cricket in India. The BCCI has announced that a cricketer guilty of age fraud will be barred from all its recognised tournaments for two years. “The BCCI has a zero-tolerance policy for age fraud in sport and has taken strict action against cricketers found guilty of manipulating their date of birth certificates while registering for BCCI tournaments,” said the BCCI in a statement. “As conveyed to state associations at the start of the season, BCCI wishes to reiterate that from the 2018-19 season, any cricketer who is found guilty of tampering his/her date of birth will be disqualified and barred from participating in any BCCI tournament for a period of 2 years i.e. 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons,” it added. Earlier, a cricketer faced a ban for one year.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Silent airplane with no propellers: It is a new airplane built by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is was inspired from the movie and television series "Star Trek", have, in a breakthrough, built and flown the first-ever silent airplane with no moving propellers. The aircraft is powered by an "ionic wind" -- a silent but mighty flow of ions that is produced aboard the plane, that generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight. And unlike propeller-driven drones, the new design is completely silent. "This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system," said Steven Barrett, Associate Professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the MIT.
  • Indian Meterological Department: It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It has been developed technology called the 'Impact Based Forecasting Approach' to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall. It shows "pre-event scenario" can help authorities in taking real-time decisions.
  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP): It is a segment of Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) which was launched by Ministry of Health in seven states. It is a path-breaking initiative will provide near-real-time data to policy makers for detecting outbreaks, reducing the morbidity and mortality and lessening disease burden in the populations and better health systems. The first one-of-its-kind initiative by the Government of India, IHIP uses the latest technologies and digital health initiatives. The success of this platform will depend primarily on the quality of data shared by the states. The effective implementation of the platform, 32,000 people at the block level, 13,000 at the district level and 900 at the state level have been trained.
  • NASA Insight lander: It is a new explorer which made its successful landing in planet Mars. The satellite landed on November 26, 2018, after an almost seven-month journey through deep space. This is the eighth time in human history that NASA has executed a successful landing on the red planet and the first in six years. The landing kicks off a two-year mission for the InSight lander to study Mars' deep interior. Operated by NASA, the explorer is built by scientists in the United States, France and Germany. It is designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. InSight was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, 2018. It touched down November 26 near Mars' equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia. It will carry out mission objectives on the surface of Mars for a period of two years (one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days) till November 24, 2020. The landing signal was relayed to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, through one of NASA's two small experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, which launched on the same rocket as InSight and followed the lander to Mars. They are the first CubeSats sent into deep space. After successfully carrying out a number of communications and in-flight navigation experiments, the twin MarCOs were set in position to receive transmissions during InSight's entry, descent and landing.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO has launched hyperspectral imaging satellite (HySIS), an earth observation satellite, from the Sriharikota. Over 30 foreign commercial satellites will be launched along with primary payload HySIS by the PSLV C43 rocket. The satellite, which can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above the ground, will be used for a range of applications like agriculture, forestry and assessment of coastal zones, inland waters, soil and other geological environments. Being an earth observation satellite, HySIS will also be used by the military for surveillance purpose. The optical imaging detector array chip in the HySIS satellite has been designed by Isro's Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre and manufactured by its electronic arm, Semi-Conductor Laboratory, Chandigarh. The hyspex technology is still an evolving science and has become a new global trend. Hyperspectral imaging combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyspex imaging enables distinct identification of objects, material or processes on the Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space. Soon after the HySIS launch on November 29, Isro will shift its eye to the European spaceport as its heaviest commercial satellite Gsat-11 weighing 5.7 tonnes will be launched from French Guiana on December 5 (December 4 evening according to Indian standard time). The high-throughput satellite, which carries 40 transponders in the Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies, is capable of "providing high bandwidth connectivity" with up to 14 gigabit per second (GBPS) data transfer speed. Gsat-11, which will help increase internet speed in the country, was earlier this year recalled from French Guiana in order to check for possible glitches. Isro felt the need to take the unusual step of recalling the satellite in April as a precaution especially after the failure of the Gsat-6A satellite mission around the same time.
  • eDrishti: It is a new software launched by Indian Railways. The software has been developed by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS). The software was connected with the base kitchens of the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC) following complaints regarding the quality of food served on trains. This software helps Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to keep a track of punctuality of trains as well as freight and passenger earnings – and much more – from anywhere in the country. The minister will reportedly be able to keep a track of all information related to Indian Railways. The Minister can track any information with just a click of the mouse — whether from his office or while on the move. The Minister will also be able to know at any given point of time the day’s freight and passenger earnings, freight loading and unloading, punctuality, progress of major projects, and public grievances. Further, the movement of trains across the country, and details of railway stations and many more informations will be in the reach of Railway minister.
  • Sashastra Seema Bal: It is one of India's Central Armed Police Forces. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Sashastra Seema Bal have joined hands to provide security to Dudhwa forests and its rich wildlife. “A consensus was reached among all security agencies including SSB on the border and the Dudhwa field staff to strengthen the patrolling in and around Dudhwa to check forest and wildlife crimes,” DTR Field Director Ramesh Kumar Pandey said.

Economics:

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) : It is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had relaxed rules for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to sell or securitise their loan books, in a bid to ease persistent stress in the sector. NBFCs can now securitise loans of more than five-year maturity after holding those for six months on their books, the Reserve Bank of India said. Earlier, they had to hold these assets for at least one year, a banker said. However, the relaxation on the minimum holding period will be allowed when the NBFC retains 20 per cent of the book value of these loans, the RBI said.
  • PAiSA: It is a new centralized electronic platform for processing interest subvention on bank loans to beneficiaries under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) named "PAiSA - Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access". This new web platform has been designed and developed by Allahabad Bank which is the Nodal bank. Launching the portal, Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs said , "PAiSA is yet another effort by the government to connect directly with the beneficiaries, ensuring that there is greater transparency and efficiency in delivery of services. DBT of subvention on monthly basis under DAY-NULM will give the necessary financial support to small entrepreneurs in a timely manner".
  • Miniratna: It is a category conferred to public limited companies that have made profits continuously for the last three years or earned a net profit of Rs. 30 crore or more in one of the three years. These miniratnas granted certain autonomy like incurring capital expenditure without government approval up to Rs. 500 crore or equal to their net worth, whichever is lower. National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC) has been conferred with the status of Miniratna : Category –I by the Government of India. The empowerment of Miniratna Status to NPCC will help the company in taking speedy decisions by enhancing the delegation of powers to the Board. NPCC, a schedule ‘B’ CPSE under the administrative control of Ministry of Water Resources RD & GR, has also been awarded ISO 9001:2015 Certification. The Corporation, incorporated in 1957, is a premier construction company having mandate with creation of infrastructure to provide impetus for economic development of the country. The Corporation is making continuous profit since 2009-10, having positive networth for the last six years and has ambitious business plan with enhanced order book position of Rs. 11833 c.

Current Affairs December 02 to December 08

International Current News

  • G20 Summit : It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. India will be hosting G20 Summit in 2022. India will host the G20 Summit In 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the ongoing meet of the international grouping in Argentina.

National Current News

  • Heart attack rewind campaign: It is a new mass media initiative launched by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for the elimination of industrially-produced transfat in the food supply. It is a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) - the first mass media campaign of its kind – will support FSSAI’s global target of eliminating trans fat in India by the year 2022, a year ahead of the global target by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the complete elimination of trans fat. According to an official, ‘FSSAI is committed to reducing the industrially-produced trans fatty acids to less than two per cent by the year 2022 in a phased manner. This is in line with our objective to get Freedom from Trans Fat: India@75. I am hopeful that this media campaign will educate consumers about the harmful effects and its link to cardiovascular diseases.’ Heart Attack Rewind warns citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fat and offers strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives. The campaign was developed by experts at Vital Strategies.
  • Bhasha Sangam : It is a new initiative launched the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for class 10 and 12 students where it aims to offer to explore the various languages under the Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India. It is an initiative under “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat" ushers in a programme for schools and educational institutions to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian languages listed in Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India. This initiative is just the beginning of a journey meant to create interest in these languages and a curiosity to learn more. It will be followed by other activities subsequently. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has suggested all the heads of the CBSE schools to follow Bhasha Sangam Initiative. All the students of class 10 and 12 who are studying under CBSE board will get the opportunity to explore the various languages under the Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
  • United Nations: It is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. United Nations has decided to launch a new framework to combat the scourge of international terrorism and coordinate efforts across the peace and security, humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development sectors. Termed the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, the framework is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organizational entities, the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organisation, to better serve the needs of Member States when it comes to tackling the scourge of international terrorism.
  • Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) : It is a new emergency response system launched for the State of Nagaland at Kohima. According to an official release, residents in Nagaland do not require to remember multiple helpline numbers now. They can dial 112 or use Panic Button on their phones or 112 India mobile App to connect to a single number based 112 emergency services which will connect to Police, Fire, Health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre in the State. Central Government has allocated Rs. 321.69 Crore under Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of ERSS project across the country. Nagaland has been allocated Rs.4.88 crore for the project. Nagaland is the first amongst the North-Eastern States and the second State in India to launch Pan-India single emergency number ‘112’ under ERSS. Under this project, one Emergency Response Centre (ERC) has been established in Kohima along with 3 District Command Centers (DCCs), namely Kohima, Dimapur and Mokokchung. The Emergency Response Centre is capable of receiving emergency calls through voice call to 112, email, panic buttons activated calls and 112 India mobile App.
  • Patent: It is a government authority or licence conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention. The patents granted by India improved from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 in 2017, thus retaining up pattern of good increase. In accordance to Entire world Mental Assets Indicators 2018 report introduced by United Nation’s World Mental Property Organisation (WIPO), amount of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017. Patents granted in 2017 in India had been extra than double 6,022 patents granted in 2015. Of the patents granted in 2017, 1,712 went to entities and people today dependent in India, and 10,675 to foreigners. The steep boost in variety was pushed by patents granted to foreigners, which accounted for 85% of total raise. The quantity of patents presented to domestic entities also has revealed increasing pattern.
  • Kandhamal turmeric: It is an organic and is cultivated since ages. Currently, more than 60,000 families, about half the population of Kandhamal, is engaged in its cultivation. It is environmentally resilient and grows in adverse climatic conditions. According to an official release, Kandhamal haladi known as the golden yellow spice, named after the district where it is produced, has been cultivated since time immemorial and is known for its medicinal value. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. A team of experts, scientists and members of Kandhamal Apex Spices Association for Marketing (KASAM) have carried out research work for over two years on the origin and properties of the turmeric variety with technical guidance from the CTTC and the district administration. More than 60,000 families (nearly 50% of Kandhamal population) are engaged in growing the variety. The crop is sustainable in adverse climatic conditions.
  • Sahitya Akademi: It is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of literature in the languages of India. Founded on 12 March 1954, it is supported by, though independent of, the Indian government. Sahitya Akademi has announced winners for 2018. The winners include Anees Saleem in English, Rama Kant Shukla in Sanskrit, Rajesh Kumar Vyas in Rajasthani, Rahman Abbas in Urdu, Lok Nath Upadhyay in Nepali, Chitra Mughal in Hindi and S. Ramakrishnan in Tamil.
  • Freight village : It is a designated area where facilities for various modes of transportation, distribution of goods and other logistics are available in a synchronized manner on a large scale. The Ministry of Shipping has approved the development of Rs 156 crore freight village in Varanasi adjoining the Inland Waterways Terminal on River Ganga. The Varanasi freight village will be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India . It will serve as a cargo hub, and a centre for aggregation and value addition. It will also provide support to stimulate development of a professional logistics industry in Varanasi.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Exoplanets: These are planets beyond our own solar system. Thousands have been discovered in the past two decades, mostly with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. Scientists have discovered a cache over 100 new exoplanets using data from NASA’s Kepler Space telescope as well as ground-based observatories. The diverse planets are expected to play a large role in developing the research field of exoplanets and life in the Universe. Exoplanets, which revolve around stars other than the Sun, have been actively researched in recent years.
  • Digital Sky : It is registration process initiated by the government for operations of remotely piloted aircraft, to come into effect from December 1. Under these norms, drone users will be required to do one-time registration of their drones. They will also need to register the pilots of drones as well as their owners. For drones of micro size and above categories, operators are required to register on the Digital Sky portal. This digital platform has begun accepting registrations of users, and payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh portal (bharatkosh.gov.in). According to the ministry, to get the permission to fly, RPAS (remotely piloted aerial system) or drone operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan. Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app. Permissions will be required for flying in ‘yellow zones’ and flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’. The location of these zones will be announced soon. Permission will be made available digitally on the portal.
  • Train 18: It is the first locomotive less train in India. The train has breached the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run recently. According to an official release, train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over, with just some more remaining. Based on the reports, fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now no major technical problem has cropped up. Train 18 will be planning to commence its commercial run from January 2019. Normally the trials take three months. But now it is happening faster than expected. If all things go well, Train 18 will replace the current Shatabdi Express - a day train. Train 18 is capable of touching 200 kmph provided the rest of Indian Railways' system such as tracks and signals permit. The ICF will roll out one more Train 18 this fiscal and four by the next fiscal.
  • ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO launches its heaviest satellite from French Guyana. GSAT-11, the heaviest satellite built by Isro (Indian Space Research Organization), was launched successfully. The satellite was onboard Ariane-5 VA246, which blasted off from Kourou Launch Zone in French Guiana at 20:37 GMT. The 5,854-kg satellite, almost double the biggest one built or launched by Isro till date, was launched aboard the European launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA. The heavy-duty Ariane-5 vehicle was also carrying GEO-KOMPSAT-2A for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). GSAT-11 would play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and provide a platform to demonstrate new generation applications, Isro said.

Economics:

  • Gold dore : It is a semi-pure alloy which is refined for further purification. Refined gold bars are manufactured from gold dore bar. Govt puts curbs on gold dore imports, places it under restricted category. According to an official release, an importer needs a license to import this commodity. Gold dore is a semi-pure alloy which is refined for further purification. Refined gold bars are manufactured from gold dore bar. India, the world's second-biggest gold consumer after China, imports about 900 tonnes of gold a year. In value terms, gold imports fell by about 43 per cent to $1.68 billion in October. The imports mainly take care of demand of the jewellery industry.
  • RBI: The Reserve Bank of India is India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. The Reserve Bank will introduce an 'ombudsman scheme' to provide cost-free mechanism to redress grievances of customers related to digital transactions. With the digital mode for financial transactions gaining traction in the country, there is an emerging need for a dedicated, cost-free and expeditious grievance redressal mechanism for strengthening consumer confidence in this channel. It has therefore been decided to implement an 'Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions' covering services provided by entities falling under Reserve Bank's regulatory jurisdiction. The scheme will be notified by the end of January next year.
  • Currency Swap: It is a financial transaction involves the exchange of interest and sometimes of principal in one currency for the same in another currency. India and the UAE has signed two agreements, including one on currency swap. Deal was signed after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held exhaustive discussions with her counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to step up cooperation in areas like trade, security and defence.
  • Rural Electrification Corporation: It is a public Infrastructure Finance Company in India’s power sector. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking and finances and promotes rural electrification projects across India. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ‘In Principle’approval for strategic sale of the Government of India’s existing 52.63% of total paid up equity shareholding in Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to Power Finance Corporation (PFC) along with transfer of management control. The acquisition intends to achieve integration across the Power Chain, obtain better synergies, create economies of scale and have enhanced capability to support energy access and energy efficiency by improved capability to finance power sector. It may also allow for cheaper fund raising with increase in bargaining power for the combined entity. Both REC and PFC are Central Public Sector Enterprises under the Ministry of Power.

Current Affairs December 09 to December 15

International Current News

  • Ukraine: It is a large country in Eastern Europe known for its Orthodox churches, Black Sea coastline and forested mountains. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the legislation on ending the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia. The treaty, which has been in place for about two decades, will be terminated on April 1, 2019 amid rising tensions between the two countries. The Ukrainian leader said that the non-extension of the deal is "a part of the Ukrainian strategy of reorientation towards Europe. The bill was approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday, supported by 277 votes, far more than the 226 minimum required.

National Current News

  • Indian Railways: It is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It manages the fourth-largest railway network in the world by size, with 121,407 kilometres of total track over a 67,368-kilometre route. Ministry of Railways has planned to provide CCTV based surveillance System at Stations and in passenger carrying trains to enhance safety and security of the passengers. The project of installing CCTV cameras at 8,244 Railway Stations (Including halt stations) and in 58,276 passenger coaches of trains has been sanctioned at the cost of Rs 3,771 Crore. These include provision of CCTV cameras at 983 stations costing approximately Rs 500 Crore being funded through Nirbhaya Fund.
  • Commonly used devices: Medical devices such as nebulizers, blood pressure monitors, digital thermometers and glucometers have been notified as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The move was made to ensure and enable the government to ensure their quality and performance. The Drug Controller-General of India (DCGI) would regulate the import, manufacture and sale of these devices from January 1, 2020. All these devices will have to be registered under the quality parameters prescribed under Medical Devices Rules 2017 and other standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) certification. The Drug Technical Advisory Body (DTAB), the country’s highest drug advisory body, had approved the proposal to include nebulizers, blood pressure monitoring devices, digital thermometers and glucometers under the purview of the Drug Law. Currently, only 23 medical devices are monitored for quality by the country’s drug regulator. With four new devices being notified, 27 medical devices now fall under the definition of drugs under the Act. The other medical equipments are sold without any quality checks or clinical trials.
  • Online travel aggregators: They are an intermediary / agent selling travel products and services such as the airlines, car rental, cruise lines, Hotels / Accommodation, railways and vacation packages on behalf of suppliers using internet as a medium. They establish an online market place and earn profits on the discounts commonly referred to as commission offered by the suppliers. In doing so, they may list the travel related service providers/agents or other service providers like hotels, homestays on its platform under its brand, connect the buyers with potential travel, hospitality and related service providers/ sellers on its platform under its brand, prescribe amenities and/or quality standards and influence the service providers to match the potential customer’s needs, enter into agreements with such service providers laying down benchmarks, standards, commission rates and other services required from such service providers. Tourism Ministry formulates Guidelines for approval of Online Travel Aggregators and the guidelines to be rolled out by December end this year.
  • Supreme Court of India: It is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of judicial review. SC has directed the print and electronic media not to reveal the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault even in a remote manner. The SC bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stated that it was not necessary to disclose the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault to "arouse public opinion and sentiment" as these issues need to be dealt with sensitively.
  • Shahpurkandi Dam: It is an upcoming dam project on the river Ravi in Punjab. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved implementation of Shahpurkandi Dam Project, Punjab on river Ravi. For this, Central Assistance of Rs. 485.38 cr (for irrigation component) would be provided over five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23. Implementation of this project would help minimising some of the water of the River Ravi which at present is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan.
  • NMICPS: It is an acronym for National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). It is a new initiative launched by government of India to address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and takes into account the international trends and road maps of leading countries for the next generation technologies. The mission implementation would develop and bring Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and associated technologies within reach in the country, adoption of CPS technologies to address India specific National / Regional issues. The project will be implemented by Department of Science &Technology at a total outlay of Rs. 3660 crore for a period of five years.
  • Global Nutrition Report 2018: It is a data update released by World Health Organisation. It shines a light on where there has been progress – and where major problems still lie in health sector. It highlights new innovations in data and the status of financing. It places actions that have been taken under the spotlight. Throughout it highlights data that can help us better understand the nature of the burden of malnutrition. For if we are to end malnutrition in all its forms, we must understand the nature of the problem we are dealing with. India has the highest number of ‘stunted’ children in the world and nearly a third of all stunted children worldwide are to be found in India. About 46.6 million children in India suffer from stunting due to poor nutrition intake in the long term and repeated infections. India is also the country with the highest number of children who are ‘wasted’. This is an even more severe indicator of acute malnutrition. India has 25.5 million children who are wasted. Among the 50.5 million children who are wasted globally, India has half of the global wasting burden.
  • ENSURE portal: It is a new portal launched by Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare for EDEG National Livestock Mission scheme. It is developed by NABARD and operated under the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries. The portal helps to offer sustainable development of the livestock sector. Under the Mission’s component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG), subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs etc. through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) goes directly to the beneficiary’s account. In order to make it better, simpler and transparent, the NABARD has developed an online portal “ENSURE” (https://ensure.nabard.org) so that the information related to beneficiary and processing of application can be made readily available. Under the new process, controlling officer/branch manager of the bank, after scrutinizing & sanctioning of proposal, uploads the subsidy claims in the portal.
  • PCS 1x: It is a cloud based new generation technology, with user-friendly interface and launched by Indian Ports Association to Increase Ease of Doing Businessfor . This system seamlessly integrates 8 new stakeholders besides the 19 existing stakeholders from the maritime trade on a single platform. The platform offers value added services such as notification engine, workflow, mobile application, track and trace, better user interface, better security features, improved inclusion by offering dashboard for those with no IT capability. A unique feature of ‘PCS1x’ is that it can latch on to third party software which provides services to the maritime industry thereby enabling the stakeholders to access wide network of services. The system enables single sign on facility to provide one stop interface to all the functionalities across all stakeholders. Another major feature is the deployment of a world class state of the art payment aggregator solution which removes dependency on bank specific payment eco system.
  • @CyberDost: It is the Twitter account launched by union Ministry of House Affairs. It is aimed at maximizing people’s essential knowledge about cybercrimes and safeguards to be taken for avoidance. This twitter manage will educate individuals about different channels by way of which complaints about cyber-crimes can be submitted and will make individuals informed of their responsibilities relating to misuse of cyber place by some people today in the region. It will also support to mitigate options of disruption in normal company things to do or losses due to cyber-crimes by developing ecosystem to avoid and control cyber-crimes. The data shared on this take care of will greatly enhance simple expertise of followers about cyber-crimes and precautionary actions to be taken to prevent such criminal offense.
  • National Pension System (NPS) : It is a voluntary defined contribution pension system in India Aiming to make retirement income scheme more attractive for central government employees, the government has agreed to chip in a higher 14 per cent of the basic salary of an individual as its contribution to the National Pension System (NPS). According to an official source, the move would benefit over 36 lakh central government employees. Individual contributions, which will continue to be capped at a maximum of 10 per cent of the basic salary, will be exempt from taxable income. National Pension System (NPS) is a government-sponsored pension scheme that was launched in January 2004 for government employees. However, in 2009, it was opened to all sections. The scheme allows subscribers to contribute regularly in a pension account during their working life.
  • Dam Safety Bill 2018: It is a new bill which aims to provide a robust legal and institutional framework under Central and state governments for the safety of dams. The Bill provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters, was introduced by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal. The Bill also provides for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning. Once enacted, the Bill will apply to specified dams across all states.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) : It is an autonomous body responsible for co-coordinating agricultural education and research in India. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has approved registration of record 15 new breeds of livestock and poultry this year taking the total to 40. The 15 newly registered breeds include two cattle breeds - Ladakhi (J&K) and Konkan Kapila (Maharashtra and Goa); three buffalo breeds - Luit (Assam & Manipur), Bargur (Tamil Nadu), Chhattisgarhi (Chhattisgarh); one sheep breed – Panchali (Gujarat); six goat breeds – Kahmi (Gujarat), Rohilkhandi (UP), Assam Hill (Assam and Meghalaya), Bidri (Karnataka), Nandidurga (Karnataka), Bhakarwali (J&K); one pig breed – Ghurrah (UP); one donkey breed – Halari (Gujarat) and one chicken breed – Uttara (Uttarakhand).

Defence:

  • Agni-5: It is a three stage missile, 17 metres tall, two metres wide and capable of carrying 1.5 tonne of nuclear warheads. Unlike other missiles of the series, Agni-5 is the most-advanced in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, according to officials. The missile was launched with the help of a mobile launcher from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal. The missile has been designed to hit the designated target point accurately, guided by the on-board computer with the support of a Ring Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System, the Micro Inertial Navigation System, fully-digital control system and advanced compact avionics.
  • Deep Sea Submarine Rescue System: It is a new Indian Navy’s first flyaway Deep Sea Submarine Rescue System was formally inducted at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. Acquisition of this capability is a significant and pioneering jump in the Indian Navy's capability in deep submarine rescue. The Indian Navy currently operates submarines of the Sindhughosh, Shishumar, Kalvari Classes as well as nuclear powered submarines. The operating medium and the nature of operations undertaken by submarines expose them to high degree of inherent risk. In such an eventuality, traditional methods of search and rescue at sea are ineffective for a disabled submarine. To overcome this capability gap the Navy has acquired a third generation, advanced Submarine Rescue System considering of a Non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) and its associated equipment. The Indian Navy now joins a select league of Nations worldwide with the sovereign capability, in fly away configuration, to search, locate and rescue crew from a disabled Submarine. The Deep Sea rescue system would have a global footprint and can be mobilised from the Naval base at Mumbai to the nearest mobilisation port by air/land or sea to provide rapid rescue to the Submarines in distress. The newly acquired capability would be operated and deployed by the crew of Indian Navy's newly formed Submarine Rescue Unit (West) from its base in Mumbai. The Indian Navy's Deep Sea Submarine Rescue System considered to be the most advanced system currently in operation globally, is capable of undertaking rescue from a disabled Submarine upto 650 m depth. The DSRV, which is operated by a crew of three, can rescue 14 personnel from a disabled Submarine at one time and can operate in extreme sea conditions (upto Sea State 6).

Current Affairs December 16 to December 22

National Current News

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) : It is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and other Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2018, in the Gazette of India . As per these regulations, Ph.D. Degree shall be a mandatory qualification for direct recruitment to the post of Assistant Professor in Universities with effect from 01.07.2021. Also, these regulations provide that a person with Ph.D. degree from a foreign university/ institution with a ranking among top 500 in the World University Ranking (at any time) by any one of the following: (i) Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) (ii) the Times Higher Education (THE) or (iii) the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai) is eligible for direct recruitment as Assistant Professor in universities and colleges. The said Regulations is intended to attract and retain the best quality teachers and to encourage research in Universities and Colleges. The aforesaid regulations are available on UGC website.
  • Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018: It is a new notification launched by the government of India which allows passengers of air travel and sea voyage to use internet and make calls with their mobile phones in Indian air space. Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies operating in the country can provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services in partnership with a valid Indian telecom licence holder. The services will be activated once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks, the rules state. The IFMC licences will be granted against an annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder will have to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing services. However, airlines, shipping companies and service providers will decide how much they want to charge the customer. It is also up to them whether they want to offer both internet and calling services or limit themselves to Wi-Fi services only. Most airlines globally offer only Wi-Fi on board as allowing mobile calls could be too much of a nuisance for fellow travellers.
  • Punjab: The Punjab Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to enact Women's Reservation Bill to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in both Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies by voice vote after the resolution was moved by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. While moving the resolution during the winter session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Singh pointed to the previous Congress government's decision to reserve 50 per cent seats for women in Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj Institutions and urged the Centre to hasten the enactment of this bill. Once passed, the Bill would ensure reservation of 181 seats out of the total 543 Lok Sabha seats, besides earmarking 1370 assembly seats out of the total 4109 assembly seats across the nation.
  • Ujjwala Yojana: It is a scheme launched in 2016, originally targeted giving LPG connections to mostly rural women members of below the poverty line (BPL) households. The list was later expanded to include all SC/ST households and forest dwellers among others. The scheme is now being extended to all poor households. Under the scheme, the government provides a subsidy of Rs 1,600 to state-owned fuel retailers for every free LPG gas connection that they give to poor households. This subsidy is intended to cover the security fee for the cylinder and the fitting charges.
  • Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016: It is a bill which seeks to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under law through a voice vote. The Bill defines a transgender person as one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male. In addition, the person’s gender must not match the gender assigned at birth, and includes trans-men, trans-women, persons with intersex variations and gender-queers. A transgender person must obtain a certificate of identity as proof of recognition of identity as a transgender person and to invoke rights under the Bill. Such a certificate would be granted by the District Magistrate on the recommendation of a Screening Committee. The Committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person. The Bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare. It directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes in these areas. Offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc. would attract up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine.
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) : It is a medical college and medical research public university based in New Delhi, India. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today has approved establishment of two new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Madurai, Tamil Nadu at a cost of Rs 1,264 crore and Bibinagar, Telangana at a cost of Rs 1,028 crore. Some of the benefits include, new AIIMS will add 100 UG (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) seats. Each new AIIMS will have 15-20 Super Specialty Departments. Each new AIIMS will add around 750 hospital beds. As per data of current functional AIIMS, it is expected that each new AIIMS would cater to around 1500 Outdoor patients per day and around 1000 Indoor patients per month. Establishment of new AIIMS involves creation of Hospital, Teaching Block for medical & nursing courses, residential complex and allied facilities/services, broadly on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi and other six new AIIMS taken up under Phase-I of PMSSY.
  • National Cancer Institute: It is the new medical institute opened by the government of India in Haryana. It is termed as India's largest cancer hospital, opened for public service. The NCI, which is a project under Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will be headed by Dr G.K. Rath who is also the chief of Institute Rotary Cancer hospital at AIIMS. According to AIIMS sources, the new cancer centre will take off some load from AIIMS which receives more than 1000 patients daily. While the doctors have already started the OPDs, the proper functioning of all departments at the NCI will start from January 2019. This has been divided into three phases with the first phase likely to have 250 beds available for the public. Built at a cost of Rs 2,035 crore, the NCI has 710 beds in which 200 beds have been dedicated for the treatment of those cancers which are based on research protocols. Indoor admissions will also be opened to the public in a phased manner by mid January.
  • Eklavya model residential schools: It is a Government of India scheme for model residential school for Indian tribals (Scheduled Tribes, ST) across India. Government has launched 462 new Eklavya Model Residential Schools. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its in-principle approval for setting up of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons. To begin with, the CCEA has approved a financial cost of Rs 2242.03 crore during 2018-19 and 2019-20 for rolling out the revamped scheme.
  • Consumer Protection Bill 2018: It is new bill passed by Lok Sabha has passed The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 that would replace the 1986 Act. The bill enforces consumer rights and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding deficiencies in goods and services. The bill was introduced in the Lower House January this year. Here are the major takeaways of the legislation: The amended law aims to set up the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate disputes. The bill will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority to promote, protect and enforce consumer rights as a class. It can issue safety notices for goods and services, order refunds, recall goods and rule against misleading advertisements. The Bill empowers the central government to appoint, remove and prescribe conditions of service for members of the District, State and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions. A consumer who suffers an injury from a defect in a good or a deficiency in service will have the power to file a claim of product liability against the manufacturer, the seller, or the service provider.
  • NITI Aayog: National Institution for Transforming India, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance. Aiming to offer a single measurable Index to map progress of States & UTs towards 2030 SDGs, the NITI Aayog has released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index. According to official sources, the source offers documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets. The SDG India Index, which was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India, was launched by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, NITI Aayog Members Dr Ramesh Chand, Dr VK Paul and Dr VK Saraswat, CEO Shri Amitabh Kant, UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Yuri Afanasiev and MoSPI Secretary & CSI Shri Pravin Srivastava.
  • Prime Minister Shram Awards : These are awards conferred to personnel who are employed in the Departmental Undertakings and Public Sector Undertakings of the Central and State Governments and Private Sector Units employing 500 or more workers in recognition of their distinguished performances, innovative abilities, outstanding contribution in the field of productivity and exhibition of exceptional courage and presence of mind. The Government of India has decided to confer the Prime Minister’s Shram Awards for the year 2017 to be awarded to 40 workers.

Sports Current News

  • Hockey World Cup 2018 Title: Belgium has defeated former champions the Netherlands in a thrilling summit clash to win their maiden men's hockey World Cup title at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Belgium created history by eking out a 3-2 win in the penalty shoot-out after the final match of the game. It was a great day for Belgium hockey as the country registered its second biggest international title after the Olympics silver in Rio in 2016. In the last edition of the World Cup at The Hague in Netherlands, Belgium had finished fifth. Losing the final, the Netherlands had failed to match Pakistan's record of a fourth world title for the second consecutive edition. It should be noted that they had finished runners-up to Australia four years ago in front of their home crowd. They won a World Cup title way back in 1998 in Utrecht. Incidentally, it was the Netherlands' second consecutive match that went to shoot-out in the tournament after their victory over Australia in the semi-finals.

Science and Technology Current News

  • GSAT-7A : It is new satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was meant for the exclusive use of the Indian Air Force. Dubbed as the "Indian Angry Bird", the satellite will connect all IAF assets like planes, air-borne early warning control platforms and drones with each other and ground stations, and work towards a network-centric warfare capability. It will also reduce the possibility of snooping and leakage of information that's possible while using satellites launched by foreign operators. The 2,250-kg satellite is piggybacking on the GSLV MK II (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine. This is the seventh flight of the rocket with Indian-made cryogenic engine.

Environment

  • Asiatic Lion Conservation Project: It is a new project launched by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem. The project will strengthen the ongoing measures for conservation and recovery of Asiatic Lion with the help of state-of-the –art techniques/ instruments, regular scientific research studies, disease management, Modern surveillance/ patrolling techniques. The Union minister further stated that the total budget of the project for 3 years that amounts to nearly Rs. 9784 lakh will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share. Asiatic lions that once ranged from Persia (Iran) to Palamau in Eastern India were almost driven to extinction by indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss. A single population of less than 50 lions persisted in the Gir forests of Gujarat by late 1890's. With timely and stringent protection offered by the State Government and the Center Government, Asiatic lions have increased to the current population of over 500 numbers. The last census in the year 2015 showed the population of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km. that includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and Unclassed Forests.

Economics

  • IDFC First Bank: It is a new entity created after the merger of IDFC Bank and Capital First. The merge will create a combined loan asset book of Rs 1.03 lakh crore for the merged entity IDFC First Bank. The board of IDFC Bank approved the appointment of V Vaidyanathan, founder and chairman of Capital First Ltd, as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the merged entity. His appointment awaits shareholders' approval. IDFC First Bank has on-book loan assets of Rs 1,02,683 crore. The retail loan book will now contribute 32.46 per cent to the overall loan book.

Current Affairs December 23 to December 29

International Current News

  • Hongyun project: It is project developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), is designed to build a space-based communications network that would eventually provide broadband internet connectivity to users around the world. As part of the project, CASIC announced on Saturday that it had launched its first communication satellite on a Long March 11 carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. China has touted the project as its effort to rival Google and other international firms that have set up their own space-based communications network to provide fast internet connectivity to users in the world's most remote regions. Several top players in the industry, including Google, SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat among others, are currently operating such low-cost, high-performance satellite networks to provide space-based communications and internet services.
  • China: It is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and more than 14,000km of coastline. After the suspicion of melamine in some milk consigments from China, the Indian government has further extended the ban on import of milk and its products, including chocolates, from China for four months till April 23 next year. According to an official notification, prohibition on import of milk, milk products (including chocolates, chocolate products, candies, confectionary food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient) from China is extended for a further period of four months, i.e. till April 23, 2019, or until further orders," the DGFT said in a statement. The ban was first imposed in September 2008 and later extended from time to time. The last ban extension ended.
  • Palestine: It is a sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. Palestine is planning to initiate an application to gain full state membership at the United Nations" in January 2019. According to an official annoucement, the country would file the application to upgrade Palestine's status from an observer state to a full-member state to the UN Security Council (UNSC) during his upcoming visit to New York next month, upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' instructions.

National Current News

  • Bogibeel Bridge: It is the country’s longest rail cum road bridge in in Bogibeel over the Brahmaputra river in Assam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge. The inauguration of the bridge coincided with the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, under whose government the work for the bridge started in 2002. Addressing a public gathering in Assam’s Dhemaji district, The Bogibeel project was a part of the 1985 Assam Accord and was sanctioned in 1997-98. The foundation stone was laid by then prime minister HD Deve Gouda on January 22, 1997, but the commencement of work on the project was done by Vajpayee on April 21, 2002. Bogibeel is a double-decker bridge, the fourth across the Brahmaputra, has two railway lines on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the upper, strong enough to withstand movement of heavy military tanks. It have a serviceable period of around 120 years, is India’s only fully welded bridge for which European welding standards were adhered to for the first time in the country.
  • GST Council : It is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax. The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States. Aiming to push demand and boost the economy, the council reduced tax rates on goods and services including movie tickets, TV and monitor screens and power banks, and exempted frozen and preserved vegetables from the levy. The reduced rates are likely to come into effect from January 1, 2019, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the 31st meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council. Those under slashed under 18 per cent include, pulley, transmission shafts, cranks, gear boxes, Monitors, TVs (upto 32 inches), Power banks (lithium ion). Items under 5 per cent include accessories for disabled persons. The GST Council approved the proposal to form a 7-member Group of Minister (GoM) to study revenue trends and analyse the reasons for structural patterns affecting the revenue collection in some of the states.
  • Aadhaar: It is a 12-digit unique identity number that in 2016 could be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that no children should be denied admission and other facilities due to want of Aadhaar. This comes after instances of children not being admitted to schools due to lack of Aadhaar have come to light. In a circular titled, “No denial of admission in schools for want of Aadhaar and Organising Special Aadhaar Enrolment/update camps at schools”, issued on Wednesday, it is mentioned that for students who are yet get an Aadhaar number or whose biometrics in Aadhaar database is not updated, it shall be the responsibility of the schools under Regulation 12A of Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations to arrange for Aadhaar enrolments and biometric update. “It is the responsibility of the schools to organise special camps in their premises in coordination with local banks, post offices, state education department and district administration,” said Ajay Bhushan, CEO, UIDAI.
  • Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee International School: It is the new schooling scheme launched by Maharashtra government. Marking the 94th birth anniversary celebrations of the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis launched the 'Bharat Ratna Atal Bihar Vajpayee International Schools' for students in mofussil areas. The school is affiliated to the Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB), in which 13 Zilla Parishad Schools will join initially with the curriculum in the students' mother tongue. The MIEB has been set up by the state government to achieve higher education standards of global standards in the state.
  • IT Act 2018: The ministry of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines [Amendment] Rule 2018. The critical provisions of these draft rules are: Social media platforms are required to end the full encryption procedure and get rid of any “unlawful content” for the sake of the country’s protection. The draft guidelines outline intermediary as any platform that has more than 50 lakh people in India or is in the list of middleman as notified by the government. Social media platforms this sort of as Whatsapp, Fb, Instagram and some others tumble below the definition of intermediary. Anytime the government problems an get, inside “72 hrs of communication”, facts or help concerning “security or cybersecurity” ought to be supplied. The social media platforms are also needed to trace out the originator of info on its platform as may well be demanded by the federal government agencies if the authorised functionaries demand so. The authorities can request the information about “unlawful acts” from the intermediaries by “court order” or by being notified by the government itself and the parameter to judge illegal functions would be Posting 19(2) of the Constitution, which place restrictions on freedom of speech and expression. The intermediaries are also needed to deploy technological innovation based automatic equipment or proper mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying or taking away or disabling access to illegal information or content material.
  • NITI Aayog: NITI Aayog also National Institution for Transforming India, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Niti Ayog has released the second Delta Ranking of the Aspirational Districts Programme. Virudhunagar (Tamil Nadu), Naupada (Odisha) and Sidharthnagar (Uttar Pradesh) have emerged as the top three districts in the ranking of aspirational districts by Niti Aayog. Pakur (Jharkhand), Hailakandi (Assam) and Chatra (Jharkhand) are three least improved aspirational districts, according to the second delta ranking released by the Aayog. The delta rankings measures the incremental progress made by 111 aspirational districts between June 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018, across six developmental areas. The development areas include health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.
  • Triple Talaq Bill: It is known as The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018. The Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September. Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. The fresh bill is proposed to supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Pamban Bridge: It is a railway bridge which connects the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to mainland India. Opened on 24 February 1914, it was India's first sea bridge, and was the longest sea bridge in India until the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in 2010. Indian Railways is planning to build the country's first vertical-lift bridge connecting Rameswaram in Arabian Sea to mainland India that will allow ships and steamers to pass through without any hinderance, replacing the existing 104-year-old Pamban bridge. According to a senior official in the ministry, the bridge, over two-kilometre-long, which is likely to cost Rs. 250 crore, will have a 63-metre stretch which will lift up while remaining parallel to the deck to allow access to the ships. It will be ready in the next four years, and along with the new railway link between Rameswaram in Pamban Island and Dhanuskodi, which is considered the starting point of Ram Setu, will help ferry thousands of pilgrims from the Hindu religious site to the mainland. A cyclone had destroyed the rail link between the two sites in 1964 and since then, this is the first effort to restore the link.
  • Indian Railways: It is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It manages the fourth-largest railway network in the world by size, with 121,407 kilometres of total track over a 67,368-kilometre route. Indian Railways has decided to grant 40 per cent concession in passenger fares to transgender senior citizens. The concession for a person of the third gender, aged 60 years or above, will be available from January 1, 2019. Till now, such a concession was admissible for men who are 60 years and above, and for women aged 58 years and above. The rate of concession is 40 per cent for men and 50 per cent for women. Though a column for transgender (T) was introduced in the reservation form, the concession was not admissible to them.
  • NCIM Bill 2018: It is acronym for National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill 2018. The Cabinet has approved the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) with a new body to ensure transparency. Salient features include, the draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Ayurveda, under Board of Ayurveda and Unani, Siddha & Sowarigpa under Board of Unaini, Siddha and Sowarigpa. There are two common Boards namely, Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Indian systems of Medicine and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Indian systems of medicine to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice under the National Commission for Indian Medicine. It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam, which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed in the Bill to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions. The draft bill is aimed at bringing reforms in the medical education of Indian medicine sector in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine.
  • NCH Bill 2018: It is the acronym for National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2018. Cabinet approves setting up of the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2018. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the existing regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) with a new body to ensure transparency. The draft bill provides for the constitution of a National Commission with three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of Homoeopathy by Homoeopathy Education Board. The Board of assessment and rating to assess and grant permission to educational institutions of Homoeopathy and Board of ethics and registration of practitioners of Homoeopathy to maintain National Register and ethical issues relating to practice are under the National Commission forHomoeopathy. It also proposes a common entrance exam and an exit exam which all graduates will have to clear to get practicing licenses. Further, a teacher's eligibility test has been proposed to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions. It further aims at bringing reforms in the medical education of Homoeopathy in lines with the National Medical Commission proposed for setting up for Allopathy system of medicine. The CCH had been earlier superseded by Board of Governors through an Ordinance and subsequent amendment of Act.

Defence

  • Agni IV: It is a Indian Missile which has 4,000 km strike range is a two-stage missile. It is 20 meter long with a weight of 17 tonnes. The state-of-the-art missile is equipped with modern and compact avionics to provide high level of reliability and precision. Agni-IV missile is equipped with advanced Avionics, 5th generation On Board Computer and distributed architecture. It has the latest features to correct and guide itself for in -flight disturbances. The accurate Ring Laser Gyro-based Inertial Navigation System (RINS), supported by highly reliable redundant Micro Navigation System (MINGS), ensures the vehicle reaches the target with accuracy. India has successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missile Agni-IV, with a strike range of 4,000 km. The test was conducted as part of a user trial by the Army. The strategic surface-to-surface missile was flight tested from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Dr Abdul Kalam Island, earlier known as Wheeler Island, at about 8.35 am.
  • Indian Navy Information Fusion Centre (IFC): It is a centre which collaborates with partner countries and multinational agencies to develop maritime awareness and share information, especially on commercial cargo vessels. The objective of having an IFC- Indian Ocean Region is more for partners to work towards keeping the global commons safe. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is vital to world trade and economic prosperity of many countries as more than 75 per cent of the world's maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil consumption passes through it.
  • INHS Sandhani : It is the newly inaugurated Naval Hospital at the Naval station Karanja in Uran near Mumbai. According to an official release, Preeti Luthra, President of NWWA (Navy Wives Welfare Association), Western Region, unveiled the commissioning plaque of the hospital. The Commissioning Warrant was read by the first Commanding Officer of the hospital Surgeon Captain HBS Chaudhry. With the steady expansion of Naval Station Karanja, over the last few decades, a need for a dedicated multi-speciality hospital was felt, in order to provide quality healthcare to more than 8,000 naval personnel and their dependents, who reside here. The release also said, 'The commissioning of this 30-bedded hospital, with a team of specialists in the fields of medicine, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics, anaesthesia and dental sciences, will not only improve the quality and speed of healthcare delivery, but also obviate the need for patients, including those with critical ailments and emergency cases, to travel by sea to Mumbai'.

Economics

  • MSME: It is the acronym for the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for the formulation and administration of rules, regulations and laws relating to micro, small and medium enterprises in India. Aiming to ensure efficient delivery of all export-related interventions as part of its action plan to boost shipments from micro, small and medium enterprises, MSME Ministry has decided to setting up governing council to boost exports. The ministry has recommended a detailed analysis of various trade agreements, including FTAs and bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, to identify areas of concern for MSMEs in the strategic action plan titled 'Unlocking the Potential of MSME Exports'. It said a study will be conducted of special economic zones and export promotion zones in the country to reassess their role and objectives as these are an essential constituent of Foreign Trade Policy and it is important to harness their potential.

Arts and Culture

  • Thiruvaiyaru: It is a panchayat town in Thanjavur District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, 11 km from Thanjavur. Thiruvaaiyaru has an old Siva temple dedicated to Panchanatheeswar. The country’s first music museum will be set up with assistance from the Central Government in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamilnadu, the birth place of Saint Tyagaraja, one of the Trinity of Carnatic music. The other two of the Trinity are Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri. This was announced by the State Minister for Culture and Tamil Development Shri K Pandiarajan in Madurai. The decision was made to honour and bring back Carnatic music, which is sort of fading away in today’s age.