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 INDIAN AFFAIRS

Government launches first tranche of Sovereign gold bonds for FY19
i. Government of India has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2018-19 – Series-I. These bonds will be issued by Reserve Bank India (RBI) on behalf of the Government of India.
ii. The Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme was first announced in Union Budget 2015-16. Consequentially, the first tranche was issued in November 2015……………………………………………………………………..Click here to Read More

FAO designates 14 new sites as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
i. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has designated 14 new sites as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) since 2016.
ii. These systems highlight agricultural traditions that promote sustainability, protect biodiversity and the environment and support the social and economic development required for stable, decent livelihoods
iii.  The 14 new sites are wide ranged from oases to rice terraces, wasabi cultivation to raisin production. These places have shaped landscapes into works of art. They have protected sustainable ways of living and producing food……………………………………………………..Click here to Read More

TRAI launches beta portal for comparing telcos’ tariffs
On April 16, 2018, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) unveiled the beta version of a website(http://tariff.trai.gov.in) that contains information about mobile tariffs of all operators for all service areas.
TRAI launches beta portal for comparing telcos’ tariffsMore Information about TRAI’s beta portal for comparing telcos’ tariffs:
i. Objective behind unveiling this portal is to allow users to compare tariffs of different telecom operators and thereby enhance transparency in the industry.
ii. The beta portal which has been unveiled provides information about regular tariffs, special tariff vouchers, value-added service packs and promotional tariffs.
iii. Currently, the beta portal has been launched for the Delhi circle. TRAI will seek feedback from users after 15 days. Users can offer their comments on parameters that have been considered for tariff comparison.
iv. Once it is rolled out across India, this portal would not only benefit the consumers but will also help telecom operators to do a comparative analysis.
Quick Facts about TRAI:
♦ Founded in – 1997
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Chairman – R S Sharma

Suresh Prabhu launches digital platform for MSME Exporters
On April 17, 2018, Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu launched Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO’s)  GlobalLinker, a digital platform for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Exporters.
Suresh Prabhu launches digital platform for MSME ExportersAbout FIEO’s GlobalLinker:
i. FIEO GlobalLinker is a growing global network, which currently comprises over 140000 SME firms. These firms use their electronic business card and digital profiles created on the platform to seek growth opportunities through business collaboration.
ii. Through this platform MSME exporters can digitise their businesses and thus join a global community of growing businesses
iii. By using FIEO GlobalLinker search and review facilities, exporters can find clients, suppliers and advisors. Through this platform, exporters can even creating a free e-commerce store for direct sales and improved chain management.
iv. In addition to above features, the platform also hosts business articles and industry news, through which, exporters can update their knowledge.
Quick Facts about FIEO:
♦ Set up in – 1965
♦ Set up by – Union Ministry of Commerce
♦ Significance – Has over 25000 members, who contribute more than 70 per cent of India’s exports

Odisha’s second longest river bridge opened
On April 15, 2018, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a 2.5-km-long bridge built over the Ib river in Sambalpur district.
Odisha’s second longest river bridge openedi. This is Odisha’s second longest bridge and has been built at a cost of Rs. 117.50 crore.
ii. The bridge has enabled direct road connectivity between Sambalpur and Brajarajnagar in Jharsuguda district.
iii. By Commuting through this bridge, distance between these two places is reduced by 50 km.
Quick Facts about Odisha:
♦ Capital – Bhubaneswar
♦ Current Governor – Satya Pal Malik
♦ Current Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik
♦ Important National Park – Bhitarkanika National Park 

Goa to be Developed as Cargo Hub- Suresh Prabhu
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said that, Central government along with state government and private partners is working to promote Goa as a tourism destination and a cargo hub.
Goa to be Developed as Cargo Hub- Suresh Prabhu:
i. Suresh Prabhu said this when he addressed media persons at Dabolim Airport, Goa, after inspection of the renovation work.
ii. He said that, Mopa airport will start operations by September 2020. Dabolim Airport will continue to operate along with Mopa Airport.
iii. At Dabolim airport, renovation work worth Rs 300 crore is being done. New multi-layer parking complex will start operation by July 2018.
iv. Also, at the Dabolim airport, one counter will be allocated to Goa Tourism Department to operate taxi services. Another counter will be allocated to the Goa state government for sale of local products, souvenirs, and vegetables.
v. He said that, transportation of cargo will help farmers to access international market. Also, when Goa gets two airports, passenger handling capacity will increase to 3 crores.
vi. He said that, under the Skill Development and Startup India initiative, Civil Aviation Ministry is in discussion with World Bank and other major institutions to promote Goa as a market destination.
Some Wildlife sanctuaries in Goa:
♦ Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

Signature of MoU between the GIFAS (France) and the SIDM (India)
A MoU was signed between the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), India, and the Groupement des Industries Françaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), France, to promote a sustainable framework for present and future partnerships and cooperative actions between the French aerospace industry and the Indian defence industry.
Signature of MoU between the GIFAS (France) and the SIDM (India)MoU between the GIFAS (France) and the SIDM (India):
i. The MoU was signed during a major industrial mission in India in the aerospace and defence sector, which was organised by GIFAS with the support of SIDM from 16th April to 19th April 2018.
ii. The MoU was signed by Pierre Bourlot, managing director of GIFAS and Lt Gen Subrata Saha, director general of SIDM.
iii. This agreement will work on expanding trade, through better economic and industrial cooperation between France and India and towards export customers.
iii. It will enable implementation of various measures to promote a mutually beneficial cooperation in aerospace and defence manufacturing, research and technology, human capital, engineering services, systems integration.
iv. The cooperation will focus on five axes of common interest. They are:

  • The development of business opportunities between members of GIFAS and SIDM
  • Training and human capital development
  • Research and technology
  • Aerospace Industry Policy and Business Environment
  • International Trade Issues

About Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM):
♦ Director General – Lt Gen Subrata Saha
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

World Bank to fund community-led landscapes management in Meghalaya
On 16th April 2018, a loan agreement worth USD 48 million for the “Meghalaya Community – Led Landscapes Management Project (MCLLMP)” was signed by India and the World Bank, in New Delhi.
World Bank to fund community-led landscapes management in MeghalayaMeghalaya Community – Led Landscapes Management Project (MCLLMP):
i. The objective of this project is to enhance community-led landscapes management in selected landscapes in Meghalaya.
ii. The project has three components:

  • strengthening knowledge and capacity for natural resource management
  • community-led landscape planning and implementation
  • project management and governance

iii. It will help in managing the depleting natural resources like land, water sources, and forests by strengthening the communities and traditional institutions.
iv. This will increase water for local communities and improve the soil productivity, resulting in increased incomes and lesser poverty.
v. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary (MI), Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of India. Hisham A Abdo Kahin, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India) signed it on behalf of the World Bank.
vi. Also, a project agreement was also signed by P. Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya and CEO, Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) and Hisham A Abdo Kahin, Acting Country Director, World Bank (India).
vi. The closing date for the above project is 30th June 2023.
Some National Parks in Meghalaya:
♦ Nokrek National Park
♦ Balphakram National Park

Union Environment Ministry notifies Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018. 
Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018:
i. The amended Rules state that, the phasing out of Multilayered Plastic (MLP) is now applicable to MLP that are non-recyclable, or non-energy recoverable, or with no alternate use.
ii. The amended Rules state that:

  • a central registration system for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner is prescribed
  • any mechanism for the registration should be automated and should take into account ease of doing business for producers, recyclers and manufacturers
  • the centralised registration system will be developed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner
  • a national registry is prescribed for producers with presence in more than two states
  • a state-level registration has been prescribed for smaller producers/brand owners operating within one or two states

iii.  Rule 15 of the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 on “explicit pricing of carry bags” has been omitted.
iv.The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had formed a committee to study the issues faced in implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 and Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
v. The committee had submitted its recommendations. The Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018, was notified by the ministry on 27th March 2018.
About Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change:
♦ Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change – Dr. Harsh Vardhan
♦ Minister of State – Mahesh Sharma

India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018 takes place on April 16-17 in New Delhi
On 16th and 17th April 2018, the India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018 was held at the Federation House, Tansen Marg, New Delhi.
India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018:
i. Hosts: The India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018 was hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs, India, along with the Government of Germany and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA).
ii. Industry Partner: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was the industry partner for the event.
iii. Title of the Conference: The Title of the Conference is ‘Securing Global Supply Chains through Government-Industry Partnerships towards Effective Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540’.
iv. Participation: The Conference saw participation from representatives of Government and Industry of 39 countries, and experts from the UNSC 1540 Committee and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in New York.
v. The Conference offered an opportunity to share experiences on export control systems for the participants and to identify legal and technical assistance, action plans and challenges in national level implementation of UNSC 1540.
vi. The UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) establishes legally binding obligations on all States to adopt and implement measures to prevent the proliferation to non-State actors of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their delivery systems.
About UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA):
♦ Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs – Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu
♦ Headquarters – New York, US

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Bisket Jatra being celebrated in Nepal
Bisket Jatra celebration began in Bhaktapur, Nepal on April 14, 2018.
Bisket Jatra being celebrated in NepalAbout Bisket Jatra:
i. Bisket Jatra is a nine-day festival, celebrated annually to welcome the spring and the Nepalese New Year.
ii. The Jatra begins four days before the start of new year.
iii. It is believed that the festival started during Malla dynasty, that ruled Kathmandu from 1201–1769 AD.
iv. As a part of celebration, people of upper and lower part of Bhaktpur engage in a tug of war to pull a three-storey chariot of Lord Bhairavanath on their side. This is the main attraction of Bisket Jatra.
Quick Facts about Nepal:
♦ Capital – Kathmandu
♦ Currency – Nepalese Rupee
♦ Current Prime Minister – Khadga Prasad Oli
♦ Neighbouring Countries – India and China

BANKING & FINANCE

ICICI Bank on-boards 250+ corporate entities on its blockchain platform
On April 17, 2018, India’s largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank announced that it has on-boarded over 250 corporates on its blockchain platform for domestic and international trade finance.
ICICI Bank on-boards 250+ corporate entities on its blockchain platformMore information about ICICI Bank’s blockchain platform for domestic and international trade finance:
i. In August 2016, ICICI Bank became the first bank in India to successfully undertake pilot transactions on its blockchain platform for international trade finance.
ii. Since then, more than 250 Indian corporate, including  the leading ones are now undertaking domestic/international trade finance transactions on this platform.
iii. ICICI Bank’s blockchain platform digitises the paper-intensive international trade finance process as an electronic, distributed and unalterable ledger, which is accessible to all the participating entities including banks.
iv. This is not just more time and cost efficient but also a secure way of undertaking domestic and international trade transactions.
Quick Facts about ICICI Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1994
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current MD & CEO – Chanda Kochhar
♦ Tagline – ‘hum hai na’, ‘khayaal aapka’

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Commonwealth Games 2018 – Overview
i. The 2018 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXI Commonwealth Games or Gold Coast 2018,which is held in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, between 4 and 15 April 2018. It was the fifth time Australia had hosted the Commonwealth Games. Officially Opened by Charles,Prince of Wales.There were 71 nations competing at 2018 Commonwealth Games and 275 events were conducted in 19 sports.
ii. The next Commonwealth Games are to be held in Birmingham, England from 27 July to 7 August 2022, This is the third time England has hosted the Games.The Previous Commonwealth Games took place in GlasgowScotland, from 23 July to 3 August 2014……………………………………………………Click here to Read More

Winners of 2018 Pulitzer Prize 
i. The prestigious Pulitzer Prizes for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition were announced on April 16, 2018. This was the 102nd edition of Pulitzer Prizes.
ii. Coming as a positive surprise, a comic novel, ‘Less’, written by Andrew Sean Greer has won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
iii. On April 16, 2018, 30-year old Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for music. Lamar has won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album ‘DAMN’.…………………………………………………………………Click here to Read More
Winners of 2018 Pulitzer Prize – Letters, Drama & Music:

Category Winners
Fiction Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
Drama Cost of Living, by Martyna Majok
Poetry Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart
History The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. Davis
General Nonfiction Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr.
Biography Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Frase
Music DAMN, by Kendrick Lamar

Winners of 2018 Pulitzer Prize – Journalism:

Category Winners
Public Service The New York Times, for reporting led by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and The New Yorker, for reporting by Ronan Farrow
Breaking News Reporting Staff of The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California
Investigative Reporting Staff of The Washington Post
Explanatory Reporting Staffs of The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network
Local Reporting The Cincinnati Enquirer Staff
National Reporting Staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post
International Reporting Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Manuel Mogato of Reuters
Feature Writing Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, freelance reporter, GQ
Commentary John Archibald of Alabama Media Group, Birmingham, Alabama
Criticism Jerry Saltz of New York magazine
Editorial Writing Andie Dominick of The Des Moines Register
Editorial Cartooning Jake Halpern, freelance writer, and Michael Sloan, freelance cartoonist, The New York Times
Breaking News Photography Ryan Kelly of The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia
Feature Photography Photography Staff of Reuters

Aditi Rao Hydari to receive Dadasaheb Phalke Award for ‘Bhoomi’
Aditi Rao Hydari will be awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke excellence award 2018 for the Best Leading Lady (Critics Award) for her performance in the Bollywood movie ‘Bhoomi’.
Aditi Rao Hydari to receive Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 'Bhoomi'Aditi Rao Hydari – Dada Saheb Phalke excellence award 2018 for the Best Leading Lady (Critics Award):
i. The film ‘Bhoomi’ also featured actor Sanjay Dutt. The story revolved around a protective father who saved his daughter from all evils surrounding her.
ii. The award ceremony will be held on 21st April 2018, at St. Andrews Auditorium in Mumbai. The event will see participation from producers, directors, distributors, exhibitors etc.
Some UNESCO cultural heritage sites in India:
♦ Agra Fort – Uttar Pradesh
♦ Ajanta Caves – Maharashtra
♦ Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi – Madhya Pradesh

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Scientists develop plastic-eating enzyme
Scientists in Britain and the United States have discovered “PETase” an enzyme that can digest some commonly polluting plastics.
PETase:
i. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is a strong plastic that is commonly used in bottles. It takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment.
ii. The discovery was made by researchers from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
iii. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
iv. The discovery was made in Japan. Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 is a bacterium that uses the plastic as its major energy source.
v. PETase is secreted by Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 to digest plastic. The enzyme is able to digest PET (polyethylene terephthalate).
Some important museums in India:
♦ Kirti Mandir – Porbandar, Gujarat
♦ Kutch Museum – Bhuj, Gujarat
♦ Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum – Vadodara, Gujarat

SPORTS

Tennis rankings: Yuki Bhambri back in top-100 after more than 2 years
On 16th April 2018, Yuki Bhambri entered into the top-100 ATP men’s singles ranking with a rank of rank 83, for the first time since February 2016.

Tennis rankings: Yuki Bhambri back in top-100 after more than 2 yearsYuki Bhambri back in top-100:
i. Yuki Bhambri has improved 22 places and has reached rank 83, which is considered his career best.
ii. This is the best rank an Indian has obtained in ATP singles ranking, after Somdev Devvarman reached rank 62 in 2011.
Other Indian rank holders:
iii. Ramkumar Ramanathan has reached his career-best rank of 116. He was Yuki Bhambri’s Davis cup teammate.
iv. Sumit Nagal has been ranked 215. He is followed by Prajnesh Gunneswaran at 266 and Arjun Kadhe at 394.
Doubles ranking:
v. Divij Sharan has improved to rank 41. Leander Paes has secured 49th position. Rohan Bopanna is at rank 19.
Women’s Ranking:
vi. Ankita Raina has secured 194th rank. Karman Kaur Thandi is at 268th rank.
vii. Sania Mirza remains at 24th rank in the women’s ranking.
About Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP):
♦ Executive Chairman & President – Chris Kermode
♦ Purpose – governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Haemophilia Day – April 17
On 17th April 2018, World Haemophilia Day was observed all over the world.
World Haemophilia Day – April 17World Haemophilia Day:
i. When and Why: Every year 17th April is observed as World Haemophilia Day throughout the world to create awareness about haemophilia and other inherited bleeding disorders.
ii. In 1989, World Haemophilia Day was started by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH). This day was chosen to honour WFH founder Frank Schnabel’s birthday.
iii. Theme: The theme for World Haemophilia Day 2018 is: Sharing Knowledge Makes Us Stronger. 17th April 2018 is the 28th World Hemophilia Day.
iv. Various monuments across the world, changed its lighting to red on 17th April 2018 to offer its support to World Haemophilia Day. World Heritage Site Qutub Minar in Delhi, India was also lit up with red lights.
World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH):
♦ President – Alain Weill
♦ Headquarters – Montreal, Quebec, Canada