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- Current Affairs 2017 April
‘Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana’ launched in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh
i. On 1st April 2017, Mr. Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment launched, first of its kind “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana” in Nellore; Andhra Pradesh aimed to make life comfortable for senior citizens of India.
ii. This scheme has been launched for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices to Senior Citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category who suffer from age related problems viz. hearing impairment, low vision, dental problems etc.
iii. This scheme was proposed in Union Budget 2015-16 and is fully funded by Central Government. Money required to run this scheme will be drawn from Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund.
Govt lowers interest rates on small saving schemes like PPF, KVP and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana by 0.1 per cent for April-June quarter
i. Finance Ministry has notified the reduction in interest rates on Small Saving Schemes for April-June 2017 quarter by 10 basis points (0.1%) as compared to Jan-Mar 2017 quarter
ii. This move is in line with the Govt.’s practice of recalibrating the rates on quarterly basis, which is being followed since April 2016.
iii. While announcing this revision in interest rates, Finance Ministry added that rates of small saving schemes would be aligned with government bond yields.
Recent approvals by Central government
i. Union Cabinet recently approved ratification of 2 fundamental conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO).
ii. Cabinet approves MoU between Forum of Regulators and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
iii. Cabinet Clears Revised Air Service Pacts With Malaysia, Serbia
iv. Cabinet approves signing of Agreement for CIRDAP establishment Centre in Hyderabad
v. Cabinet allows unrestricted export of all certified organic agricultural products
Government awards 128 air routes under Regional Connectivity Scheme
i. In a bid to make the ‘Regional Connectivity Scheme’ operational; Civil Aviation Ministry has selected 27 proposals from 5 airlines to operate 128 routes across the country, connecting 31 unconnected airports. It added that first regional flight under UDAN scheme will start operating from April 2017
ii. Bhatinda and Shimla will be the first towns to be connected, wherein the regional flight is expected to start operating from April 2017. Other small towns will be gradually connected by the end of September 2017.
Pawan Hans to start chopper rides to Dilli Darshan at Rs 2500
Pawan Hans, the National chopper operator is all set to launch its “Dilli Darshan” rides from April 1, 2017 with a 10 minute chopper ride costing Rs 2499 per person. In addition to that, the Chopper operator also offers a 20 minute helicopter ride for Rs 4999.
♦ The service is to be rolled out at its first heliport in North-Delhi’s Rohini area which is inaugurated by company’s Chairman and Managing Director, B P Sharma and Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
i. Rohini heliport is spread over an area of 25 acres and consists of a terminal building having capacity for 150 passengers.
ii. In addition to that it has four hangars with parking capacity for 16 helicopters and nine parking bays at a cost of Rs 100 crore
iii. It has maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility for the goodwill of the Pawan Hans fleet as well as for third-party maintenance work.
About Pawan Hans
♦ Pawan Hans Ltd is a helicopter service company founded in 1985.
♦ Headquarters: Noida, New Delhi.
♦ Chairman: B P Sharma.
Barmer Munawab and Pipad Road-Bilara rail routes – New Green Corridors in India
Indian railways has announced the 5 Green Corridors under which Barmer Munawab and Pipad Road-Bilara rail routes in Rajasthan have been declared by North Western Railways as Green Corridors. This initiative is taken under “Swachh Rail- Swachh Bharat” mission.
i. The five green corridors are
1.Manamadurai– Rameswaram corridor,
4.Barmer-Munawab corridor and
5.Pipad Road-Bilara corridor.
ii. Among these corridors Manamadurai – Rameswaram is India’s first green corridor.
iii. Green corridor
♦ Green corridor means the railway route on which there will be zero toilet discharge on railway tracks.
♦ Trains riding in these routes will have Bio-toilets.
These toilets are developed by Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)
♦ Human waste is discharged into bio digester tank, fitted under every coach.
♦ Anaerobic Bacteria stored in this tank convert the waste into water and other gases like methane.
♦ Due to this railway tracks remain clean and no threat of spreading diseases.
♦These Bio-toilets will replace toilets in all the existing trains by 2019.
New Urea Policy modifications approved by Cabinet
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved amendments to the New Urea Policy–2015 on March 31, 2017. The policy is effective from June 1, 2015 to March 31, 2019.
Amendments under New Urea Policy–2015
The ceiling rates imposed on production beyond RAC during 2016-17, has been raised so as to enable all urea units to produce additional production. This is implemented due to low import parity price.
The existing gas based units will be classified into three groups
i. Group I includes the units having pre-set energy norms between 0 G Cal/MT to 6.0 G Cal/MT.
♦ Under this category there are 13 units.
ii. Group I includes the units having pre-set energy norms between 0 G Cal/MT to 7.0 G Cal/MT.
♦ Under this category there are 4 units.
iii. Group I includes the units having pre-set energy norms more 0 G Cal/MT.
♦ Under this category there are 8 units.
About Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)
♦ Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) functions is to review economic trends on a continuous basis and also its problems and prospects.
♦ It also works with a view to evolving a consistent and integrated economic policy framework for the country.
♦ The CCEA is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Amendments under Mega Power Policy 2009 approved by CCEA
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the amendments in the Mega Power Policy 2009 on March 31, 2017. Total of 25 projects comes under this policy.
♦ States under these projects are Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
The Mega Power Policy was unveiled in 2009 with an objective to increase power availability, to boost overall growth of the country and also to ensure that consumers are reasonably charged for electricity supplied.
Amendments under Mega Power Policy 2009
i. Time period for the provisional Mega projects (25 projects); for furnishing the final mega certificates to the tax authorities are extended to 120 months instead of 60 months from the date of import.
ii. Developers would be required to keep their fixed deposit receipt (FDR) or bank guarantee alive.
Rollout of Projects
i. The total stranded capacity of 25 projects will be around 31GW which is entailing investment of over Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
ii. Relaxation in time frame with various benefits of over Rs 10000 crore with incentives ranging from Rs 30-40 lakh per MW.
iii. The 31 GW projects include around 3300 MW of gas-based power generation capacities.
Israel approves settlement within West Bank for first time in 2 decades
i. Israel government approved the establishment of a new settlement within West Bank for the first time in more than two decades on March 31, 2017. In addition, the government also laid the groundwork for further expansion and the law is intended to prevent future evacuations.
ii. In other moves, 220 acres of land in the center of the West Bank had been declared State land making it eligible for more settlers housing by allowing the marketing of some 2000 housing units out of the 5700 approved.
iii. The information was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel refrained from establishing new settlements, under pressure from previous American administration by Barack Obama and in deference to peace efforts with the Palestinians. But it has continued to expand existing ones.
West Bank Palestine
♦ Capital: Ariel. ♦ Capital: Jerusalem (East) and Ramallah
♦ Currency: Shekel. ♦ Currency: Egyptian pound and Jordanian dinar.
Myanmar becomes the 7th formal member of SASEC
South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program of Asian Development Bank (ADB) accepts Myanmar as its 7th member in 2017.
i. The SASEC program of ADB was formed in response to the request made by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to assist their economic co-operations.
ii. Sri Lanka and Maldives joined the sub-regional group in 2014.
Views of Shaktikanta Das
As per the details said by Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs
♦ Development of multi-modal connectivity between North Eastern region of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar has the potential of unleashing tremendous economic energy in the sub-region.
♦ Myanmar is the key to realising greater connectivity and stronger trade and economic relations between SASEC sub-region and the countries of East and Southeast Asia.
About South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program
i. The SASEC program was formed in 2001 to enhance project-based partnership and to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity between the member countries.
ii. The member countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
iii. Headquartered in Manila, Philippines, Asian Development Bank (ADB) serves as the Secretariat for the SASEC member countries.
♦ Capital: Naypyidaw.
♦ Currency: Kyat.
♦ President: Htin Kyaw.
♦ State Counselor: Aung San Suu Kyi.
BANKING & FINANCE
82nd Establishment Day of RBI, 1st April 2017
i. Having commenced operations from 1st April 1935, India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) celebrated 82nd Establishment Day on 1st April 2017.
ii. Establishment of RBI was recommended by Hilton Young Commission to the then British Government.RBI functions in accordance with provisions laid out in Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
Infrastructure projects in India – Japan commits 371 billion Yen assistance
On March 31, 2017, Japan made a commitment with India for providing Official Development Assistance (ODA) for Infrastructure projects in India. Japan is providing India with 371.345 billion yen (about Rs 21,590 crore) under the financial year 2016-17.
♦ The information was given by S Selvakumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs and Kenji Hamamatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India.
Japan International Cooperation Agency-Official Development Assistance (JICA-ODA) has committed a total of 761.40 billion yen for two financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17. Out of this commitment, India is receiving it remaining 371.345 billion yen for 2016-17.
Projects to be carried out
i. Mumbai Trans Harbor Link Project of 144.795 billion Japanese Yen (JPY),
ii. Dedicated Freight Corridor Project (Procurement of Electric Locomotives) of 108.456 billion JPY and
iii. Easter Peripheral Expressway-Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Installation Project of 6.87 billion
About Official Development Assistance (ODA)
Official Development Assistance (ODA) is a measure to find out the financial assistance required by any nation which was first used in the year 1969. It was the term coined by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Co-branded Credit Card launched by Karnataka Bank and SBI Card
i. Private sector Karnataka Bank in collaboration with SBI Card launched co-branded credit cards for Karnataka Bank customers on March 31, 2017. Two types of credit cards are launched namely
1.Karnataka Bank Platinum SBI card and
2.Karnataka Bank Simply SAVE SBI
ii. The co-branded credit cards were launched by P Jayarama Bhat, MD and CEO of the Karnataka Bank and Vijay Jasuja, CEO, SBI Card.
Eligibilities for Karnataka Bank Platinum SBI card are
♦ Savings Bank account holders with monthly average balance of Rs 1 lakh and above for last three months.
♦ Fixed Deposit account holders with minimum deposit amount of Rs 180000 and housing loan account holder with loan amountof Rs 20 lakh and above.
Eligibilities for Karnataka Bank Simply SAVE Credit Card are
♦ Savings Bank account holders with monthly average balance of Rs 20000 and above for last three months
♦ Fixed Deposit account holders with minimum deposit amount of Rs 50000 and housing loan account holders with loan amount of Rs 8 lakh and above.
About Karnataka Bank
♦ Karnataka Bank is a Private sector commercial bank founded in 1924 and Headquartered at Mangalore, Karnataka.
♦ P Jayarama Bhat, MD and CEO of Karnataka Bank.
♦ Tag line: Your Family Bank. Across India
About SBI Cards & Payments Services Private Ltd (SBICPSL)
♦ SBI Cards & Payments Services Private Ltd is a payment solutions provider in India founded in 1998.
♦ SBICPSL is headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana and have branches in over 50 cities in India.
Operation of Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant 2nd unit started successfully
On March 31, 2017, 1,000 MW Atomic Power Reactor has begun its 1 year period of warranty operation at Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu. This was the 2nd unit to be successfully launched for commercial operation out of 4 units. The information was announced by the Russian builders.
♦ As per the statement given by state-run nuclear energy corporation ASE Group, the Unit 2 of the KNPP is under the warranty of its general designer and the suppliers of equipment from Russia.
i. The unit 2 started its nuclear fission, on July 10, 2016, and was connected to the southern grid on August 29, 2016.
ii. After operating for 2 days, the unit was disconnected for testing the parameters. Thereafter, power generation was gradually increased at several stages.
iii. Unit 1 was synchronized with the southern power grid on October 22, 2013 and is generating electricity to its warranted limit of 1000 MW.
About Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP)
♦ Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is the single largest nuclear power station in India, situated in Kundankulam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
♦ The construction began on March 31, 2002 and commissioned on October 22, 2013.
NTPC Power Generation crosses 50 GigaWatt Capacity mark
National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) successfully crossed the 50 GW power generation capacity on April 1, 2017. The information was announced by Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy.
♦ The milestone was achieved after NTPC commissioned the 500 MW units at Unchahar in Uttar Pradesh. By this, total installed capacity of NTPC has increased to 50498 MW.
i. In the financial year 2017, NTPC annual generation reached 250 billion units along with
commencement coal mining at Pakri Barwadih, Jharkhand.
ii. The company also commissioned the first high efficiency 800 MW unit at Kudgi, Karnataka and has steadied its renewable energy portfolio.
Achievements of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC)
1.Ranks 3rd in coal based power generation capacity,
2.Ranks 2nd in plant load factor,
3.Ranks 3rd in machine availability and
4.Ranks 7th in terms of electricity generation.
About National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC)
♦ National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) is an Indian Public Sector Undertaking, engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities.
♦ It was founded on November 7, 1975 and headquartered in NTPC Bhawan, New Delhi.
♦ Chairman: Gurdeep Singh
Stent prices increased by around 2% – NPPA
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), the drug price regulator increased price of stents by around 2 percent effective after taking into account the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) on April 1, 2017.
i. In February 2017, the NPPA brought stents under price control and capped ceiling price of coronary stents at Rs 7260 for bare metal stent and Rs 29,600 for drug eluting stents.
ii. The corresponding average MRP’s before the price control stood at Rs 45100 and Rs 1.21 lakh, respectively.
The increase in price was due to the following reasons
1.Price of bare metal stents increased to Rs 7400 from Rs 7260.
2.Price of drug-eluting stent has increased to Rs 30,180 from Rs 29,600.
About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
♦ Formed: 29 August 1997.
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
♦ Agency executive: Bhupendra Singh.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Andhra Pradesh CM selected for US India Business Council Award
i. N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has been selected for the US India Business Council (USIBC) award. The award is to be presented at the 2nd Annual West Coast Summit to be held in Menlo Park, California on May 8, 2017.
ii. The award is to be presented under the category, ‘Transformative Chief Minister’ of India by USIBC. Aruna Sundararajan would also receive ‘Transformative Leadership’ Award at the Summit.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Threat of Antibiotic Resistance – Superbug Drug Launched to fight against it
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have found a drug to fight against drug resistant superbugs on April 1, 2017. The process was clearly explained by Tony De Soyza, Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University.
♦ This is an unusual approach of removing antibodies from the blood stream that could reduce chronic infections.
The researchers have identified two patients with Bronchiectasis who suffered with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections that were resistant to many antibiotics.
i. Bronchiectasis is a disease that leads to permanent enlargement of the airways in the lung.
ii. The symptoms are debilitating for patients and typically include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, coughing up blood and chest pain.
iii. Bronchiectasis often affects patients beyond the age at which lung transplantation is possible
Methods of curing
♦ Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infections commonly occur in patients suffering from bronchiectasis.
♦ A process known as plasmapheresis is used which involves the removal, treatment and return of blood plasma from circulation
♦ This was done 5 times in a week in order to remove antibody from the patients.
♦ Then the affected antibodies are replaced with antibodies from donor’s blood.