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Current Affairs 2018

The value of Current Affairs in Civil Service Examinations is enormous. This is the most critical part of both Prelims and Mains Exam. Aspirants should study in depth to understand the significance of current affairs for the Union Public Service Commission. In fact, all the questions in Civil Service Exams are framed around current affairs. Questions are not asked directly for current news and information in the exam. Questions are framed by combining current affairs with practical knowledge. The primary motive behind this type of strategy is to check the ability of correlation a candidate can make to the fact.

Why current affairs is more important in Civil Service Exam ?

Success in Prelims and Mains Exam is directly related to an aspirant’s awareness in current affairs. Preparation of current affairs for UPSC is the key to unlock the exam. It requires practice and revision in a well-connected manner.

In such a scenario the preparation of current affairs topics related to India and the world is an important part of your preparations. The students have to be aware of the happening in India and around the world as this portion is an integral part of the general studies paper.

In order to make you ready for the challenges of the Current Affairs preparation, we are covering the current affairs topics on a regular basis.

Our current topics are categorised in such a way that it includes; political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, government's scheme and policies and international affairs.

We provide you comprehensive topics of preparation that covers not only India's current scenario but also international events. We also cover Indian news headlines and other important international events under the current affairs segment.

For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is current news and views in India, we are covering the current affairs 2018 on a regular basis. Our hot topics are categorised such that they include political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, current government affairs and international affairs. Only studying India's current scenario or political affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and affairs along with the Indian news space, as well as important and current events in the field of science and sports.

Current Affairs


Current affairs books and magazine

IAS Academy Bangalore

Current Affairs February 12 to February 17, 2018

International Current News

  • 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.

National Current News

  • 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.

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.

Science and Technology

  • Eel

    Eel is any of more than 800 species of teleost fishes characterized by elongate wormlike bodies. Researchers have discovered three new kinds of species of eel along the northern Bay of Bengal. Describing the species, Anil Mohapatra, the scientist at Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) said, Dark brown with white dots on the dorsal side known as Gymnothorax pseudotile was discovered at the Digha coast of the Bay of Bengal. The other two species, Gymnothorax visakhaensis (uniformly brown) and Enchelycore propinqua (reddish brown body mottled with irregular creamy white spots), were discovered from the Visakhapatnam coast of the Bay of Bengal. While Gymnothorax pseudotile is about 1 feet to 1.5 feet long, Gymnothorax visakhaensis is about a foot long. Enchelycore propinqua is the smallest of them measuring less than a foot. A description of all the three new species was published in the journal Zootaxa.

Others

  • The Theatre Olympics - It is an initiative established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, on the initiative of the famous Greek theatre director, Theodoros Terzopoulos. TO is an international theatre festival, which is presenting some of the achievements of the greatest theatre practitioners from around the world. In an effort to put India firmly among the top nations in the world theatre map, the country will play host to the 8th Theatre Olympics, the greatest carnival of thespianism with the theme of 'Flag of Friendship'. The Theatre Olympics is being organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) under the aegis of Ministry of Culture. Making the announcement, Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday said,'It gives me immense pleasure to announce that India will be hosting the 8th edition of Theatre Olympics 2018 from February 17 to April 8, 2018.'

  • Small Savings Act - Finance Ministry had proposes merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873; All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. The Government gives highest priority to the interest of small savers, especially savings for the benefit of girl child, the senior citizens and the regular savers who form the backbone of our country’s savings architecture. In order to remove existing ambiguities due to multiple Acts and rules for Small Saving Schemes and further strengthen the objective of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”, Government of India has proposed merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873. With a single act, relevant provisions of the Government Savings Certificates (NSC) Act, 1959 and the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 would stand subsumed in the new amended Act without compromising on any of the functional provision of the existing Act. All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. No existing benefits to depositors are proposed to be taken away through this process. The main objective in proposing a common Act is to make implementation easier for the depositors as they need not go through different rules and Acts for understanding the provision of various small saving schemes, and also to introduce certain flexibilities for the investors.

  • Cigarette -Bihar health department has banned sale of loose cigarettes making Bihar the 12th state in the country to bring such a ban into effect after Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and others. A notification issued by the executive director of the State Health Society, Bihar, Lokesh Kumar Singh, on Friday stated that as per Section 7 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, pictorial warnings regarding the harmful effects of consumption of tobacco products should be mentioned on the packets of tobacco products.

  • India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 -India’s tree and forest cover has registered an increase of 1% or 8,021 sq. km in two years since 2015, according to the latest assessment by the government. The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 was released by Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and his Deputy Mahesh Sharma in New Delhi. India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover as against the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade. According to the report, the total forest cover is 7,08,273 sq. km, which is 21.54% of the total geographical area of the country. Forest and tree cover combined is 8,02,088 sq. km or 24.39% of the total geographical area. The Environment Ministry said in the latest assessment that very dense forest in India has also increased by 1.36% as compared to 2015. ISFR is released every two years. "There is an increase of 8,021 sq. km [about 80.20 million hectare] in the total forest and tree cover of the country, compared to the previous assessment in 2015. “The increase in the forest cover has been observed as 6,778 sq. km and that of tree cover as 1,243 sq. km,'

  • Current Affairs February 2 to February 9, 2018

    International Current News

    • 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.

    National Current News

    • 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'.

    Sports Updates

    • 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.

    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.

    Others

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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'.

    Current Affairs January 29 to February 2, 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.

    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

Current Affairs January 01 to January 07, 2018

International Current News

  • 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

  • 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 October 23 to October 29, 2017

International Current News

  • 24th October -this day is observed globally as United Nations Day. 24 October has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948.

National Current News

  • 5.35 lakh crore -the amount approved by government to build 34,800 km of roads nationwide, including in border and coastal areas. The Centre had announced road construction, called Bharat Mala Pariyojana, in a bid to encourage the economy as private investment remains moribund. It is a government’s new umbrella programme to further optimise the efficiency of movement of goods and people across the country. Bharatmala is a name given to road and highways project of Government of India. The total investment for the Bharatmala plan is estimated at Rs10 trillion, which is the largest ever outlay for a government road construction scheme. The BharatMala project will include economic corridors (9,000 km), inter-corridor and feeder route (6,000 km), national corridors efficiency improvement (5,000 km), border roads and international connectivity (2,000 km), coastal roads and port connectivity (2,000 km) and Greenfield expressways (800 km).
  • SAATHI -it stands for Sustainable and Accelerated Adoption of efficient Textile technologies to help small Industries is the new initiative of the Ministry of Power along with the Ministry of Textiles. Under the initiative, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector entity under the administrative control of Ministry of Power, would procure energy efficient powerlooms, motors and repair kits in bulk and provide them to the small and medium powerloom units at no upfront cost. The SAATHI initiative of the Government will be jointly implemented by EESL and the office of the Textile Commissioner on a pan-India basis.
  • 2.11 lakh crore -the amount for which the Centre recently unveiled an ambitious plan to infuse over the next two years into public sector banks (PSBs). PSBs are burdened with high, non-performing assets. Govt plans to fund through budgetary provisions of 18,139 crore and the sale of recapitalisation bonds worth 1.35 lakh crore. The balance would be raised by the banks themselves by diluting the government’s equity share.
  • Twin-Balance Sheet Problem –it is the problem in which the balance sheets of both public sector banks (PSBs) and some corporate houses are in terrible shape and it has been seen as a major obstacle to investment and reviving growth. The problems faced by the Public Sector Banks are linked directly to that of the corporate sector. Companies borrowed a lot of money from banks to invest in infrastructure and commodity- related businesses, such as steel, power, infrastructure etc. But now, due to slump in both these sectors, the corporate profits have hit new lows. With low profits, the corporates are not able to repay their loans and their debts are rising and in turn cut down on investments.
  • CORPAT -it is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Indonesia. Both countries have been carrying out maritime exercise twice a year since 2002. The CORPAT exercise between the two navies aims to enhance mutual understanding and inter-operability between the navies, carries search and rescue operations, institutes measures for vessels indulged in unlawful activities as well as control pollution. It demonstrates India’s commitment to its ties with Indonesia and to the maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. As part of the Indian Government's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), Indian Navy has also been involved in assisting countries in the Indian Ocean Region with EEZ surveillance, Search and Rescue and other capability enhancement activities
  • Thumri -it is a common genre of semi-classical Indian music. The term ‘thumri’ is derived from the Hindi verb thumakna which means “to walk with dancing steps so as to make the ankle-bells tinkle. “The form is, thus, connected with dance, dramatic gestures, mild eroticism, evocative love poetry and folk songs of Uttar Pradesh, though there are regional variations. The text is romantic or devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl’s love for Krishna. Thumri is characterized by its sensuality, and by a greater flexibility with the raag.
  • INSV Tarini –it is the Indian ship making maiden voyage to circumnavigate the globe. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew. INSV Tarini is a 56 foot sailing vessel built in India by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa. It was inducted into the Indian Navy recently in February 2017. It has Raymarine navigation suite and an array of satellite communication systems for perfect navigation anywhere in the world. It showcases the ‘Make in India’ initiative on the International forum. The voyage of Navika Sagar Parikrama began from Goa coast in September 2017 and will be finishing around March 2018. The expedition will be covered in five legs, with stop-overs at 4 ports: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa).
  • RRSK -it stands for Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh is a dedicated fund for critical safety-related works. In Budget 2017-18, Ministry had announced the setting up a special safety fund with a corpus of more than Rs. 1 lakh crore over a period of five years. Finance Ministry would contribute Rs. 15,000 crore annually towards the fund, the Ministry of Railways would fund the balance Rs. 5,000 crore every year. Finance Ministry advised the Ministry of Railways to prioritise deploying RRSK funds on areas that reduce chances of human error and ensure training of safety staff.
  • RBI -it stands for The Reserve Bank of India has constituted a 10-member ‘High Level Task Force on Public Credit Registry (PCR) for India’, which will suggest a roadmap for developing a transparent, comprehensive and near-real-time PCR for India. The committee will be headed by YM Deosthalee, ex-CMD, L&T Finance Holdings. The terms of reference of the task force include reviewing the current availability of information on credit in India and assessing the gaps in India.

Current Affairs October 01 to October 22, 2017

International Current News

  • IBSA -it is the name of organization that is a coordinating mechanism amongst India, Brazil and South Africa - three emerging countries, three multi ethnic and multicultural democracies. This was in the news as these three countries signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement that seeks to fight poverty in developing countries. The agreement was signed at the 8th IBSA trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in Durban recently. The IBSA Trust Fund brings together the three emerging economies of India, Brazil and South Africa to combat poverty in other developing countries. Each country contributes USD 1 million annually to this fund which is managed by the UN Development Programmes (UNDP) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. The establishment of IBSA was formalised by the Brasilia Declaration of 6 June 2003, which mentions India, Brazil and South Africa's democratic credentials, their condition as developing nations and their capacity of acting on a global scale as the main reasons for the three countries to come together.
  • Ceres -it is the name of the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter for which NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015. A priority of the second Ceres mission extension is collecting data with Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, which measures the number and energy of gamma rays and neutrons. The extended mission at Ceres additionally allows Dawn to be in orbit while the dwarf planet goes through perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, which will occur in April 2018. At closer proximity to the Sun, more ice on Ceres’ surface may turn to water vapor, which may in turn contribute to the weak transient atmosphere detected by the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory before Dawn’s arrival. NASA’s Dawn mission will study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system. The mission will characterize the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation. Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.
  • ADIA -it stands for The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Ltd, NIIF’s investment management company. NIIF was set up in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector. NIIF will invest in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India. The corpus of the fund is proposed to be around Rs40,000 crore, with the government investing 49% and the rest to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments etc.
  • 16th October -this day was recently celebrated as World Food Day which is celebrated every year to raise awareness on the issues of poverty and hunger. World Food Day was established by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in November 1979 and since then the day is celebrated worldwide by many organisations that are concerned with food security. World Food Day is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
  • 20th October –this day is celebrated as World Statistics Day. At its 41st Session in February 2010, the United Nations Statistical Commission proposed celebrating 20th October 2010 as World Statistics Day. Acknowledging that the production of reliable, timely statistics and indicators of countries’ progress is indispensable for informed policy decisions and monitoring implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the General Assembly adopted on 03rd June 2010, which officially designated 20 October 2010 as the first-ever World Statistics Day.
  • 17th October –this day is observed globally as International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP). The theme of this year's IDEP was ‘Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies'. This year’s celebration also marked the 25th anniversary of the declaration of the day by the UN General Assembly, which had adopted the resolution on 22 December 1992.

National Current News

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) –it is the subject for which the Union ministry of electronics and information technology has set up an internal committee to advise the government on it. The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most apt technologies for India. The government’s main focus is to reduce cyberattacks with AI. The main policy will be drawn up once the committee gives its report. The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022. However, AI is widely seen as a major challenge in generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources. The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI. The strategy includes developing methods for human machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.
  • Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) –it is the body which does the management of Integrated Check Posts (ICPs). This was in the news after a recent cabinet proposal to set up 13 new Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) is being mooted by the Union Home Ministry to encourage India’s engagement with its neighbours belonging to SAARC region. Among the 13 ICPs, seven will be along the India-Bangladesh border, apart from the three already operational there. The ICPs planned along the Bangladesh border will be at Hili, Changrabandha, Ghojadanga, Mahadipur, Fulbari in West Bengal, Kawripuichhuah in Mizoram and Sutarkandi in Assam. Among the new ICPs, only one will be on the India-Pakistan border while four will be on the India-Nepal border and one on the India-Myanmar border. Some of the other ICPs are at Dawki (Meghalaya), Akaura, (Tripura) Kawarpuchiah (Mizoram), Jobgani (Bihar), Sunauli (UP) and Rupaidiha/Nepalganj (UP). An ICP not only provides various services under one roof but is also equipped with cargo process building, cargo inspection sheds, warehouse, cold storage, currency exchange counters, Internet hubs, clearing agents, banks, vehicle scanners, isolation bay and parking.
  • MoWCD –it is the department which recently launched an online campaign #IamThatWoman in an attempt to end Gender bias in women against women. Through the campaign, the Ministry seeks to highlight the various aspects of women standing ‘by’ and ‘for’ women. Ministry of WCD has urged people to shun stereotypes associated with women harming other women. Twitter and Facebook users have been encouraged to tag and share stories of women helping women with a photograph and post online with the hashtag #IamThatWoman.
  • Izzat Ghar –it would be the new name of every toilet constructed across the country under the Swachh Bharat Mission, or something equivalent in a local language that means house of dignity, following a directive from the Centre to the states. The Centre has written to all states in this regard, advising Hindi-speaking states to call a toilet an ‘Izzat Ghar’ while urging other states to come up with other terms in the regional languages with the same meaning. This move aims to instill a sense of dignity and pride in the entire family for their toilet, and will also have a positive impact on usage. Swachh Bharat Mission was officially launched on 2 October 2014 and is India's biggest ever cleanliness drive. It aims to eliminate open defecation by 2019.
  • March 2018 –it is the deadline to complete the ambitious project of developing the horticulture sector using remote sensing technology and geo-informatics as announced by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh recently. In a bid to develop India’s horticulture sector and help states identify suitable areas and crop types, the agriculture ministry is already working on a project which uses satellites and remote sensing technology. The project is known as CHAMAN.CHAMAN, or Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoinformatics, is being implemented by the Delhi-based Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre.
  • NeSL –it stands for National e-Governance Services Ltd has become India’s first information utility (IU) for bankruptcy cases under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016. NeSL is owned by State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation Ltd., among others. Recently, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) eased ownership norms for setting up such utilities. Information utility is an information network which would store financial data like borrowings, default and security interests among others of firms. The utility would specialise in procuring, maintaining and providing/supplying financial information to businesses, financial institutions, adjudicating authority, insolvency professionals and other relevant stake holders. Information utilities are governed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code 2016 and IBBI (Information Utilities) Regulations 2017. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) oversees aspects such as registration and cancellation of these entities, their shareholding and governance among others. Recently, IBBI eased norms for information utilities, allowing Indian firms listed on stock exchanges to hold 100% in such firms. It also allowed individuals to hold 51% in the utility for a period of three years.
  • SBG –it stands for Sampoorna Bima Gram, is the name of the scheme launched recently in a bid to provide affordable life insurance services to people, particularly those living in rural areas of the country. The government has also expanded the coverage of Postal Life Insurance (PLI).With this, apart from government employees, PLI will now cover professionals also. The decision has been taken to enlarge the cover of social security and bring the maximum number of people under the protection of Postal Life Insurance (PLI).Under the Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana, at least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavour will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each. Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village is the primary objective of this scheme. Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995 on the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee, provides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas.
  • 21st October –this day is celebrated as the National Police Commemoration Day to remember the brave policemen who sacrificed their lives while discharging their duties. On October 21st, 1959, twenty Indian soldiers were attacked by the Chinese troops in Ladakh. This altercation between the troops led to the death of ten policemen. Seven of the others who were also imprisoned managed to escape from the Chinese troops.
  • Mahindra & Mahindra -the company which has launched a program, Prerna, to empower women working in the agriculture sector by promoting efficient and ergonomic farm tools and equipment. The project will be initially launched in the state of Odisha, with the intention to positively impact the lives of over 1,500 families across 30-plus villages. The first project under Prerna is a collaboration between Mahindra & Mahindra, the Central Institution for Women in Agriculture (CIWA), a department of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Sports Updates

  • India –they won the Asia Cup hockey title after a ten-year hiatus, beating Malaysia 2-1 in the final in Dhaka. They last won the Asia Cup in 2003 and 2007. Pakistan won the bronze medal, beating Korea 6-3 in the third-fourth place play-off match earlier in the day.