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Current Affairs Today – August 3 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Recent Approvals by Central government – August 3 2017
On August 2, 2017, Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved following bilateral agreements and initiatives:
i. Cabinet apprised of MOU between India and Spain on India-Spain cooperation in renewable energy
ii. Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among India and various BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China & South Africa) for establishment of the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform (BRICS-ARP).
iii. On August 2, 2017, the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Non –Resident Indians (NRIs).

Lok Sabha passes two key bills for implementation of GST in J&K
On August 2, 2017, Lok Sabha passed two bills, CGST (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017 and IGST (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017, extending Central Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (GST) to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 
i. The two Bills passed by the House by a voice vote are aimed at giving effect to the formal amendments required in Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) Acts by removing the exemption that was carved out for Jammu &Kashmir.
ii. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has mentioned that GST is in the larger interest of traders and consumers of Jammu and Kashmir and extending Central GST and Integrated GST to Jammu and Kashmir will ensure greater economic integration of the state with rest of the country.

Govt inks MoA to set up IRRI’s regional centre in Varanasi
On August 2, 2017, Union Agriculture Ministry  signed a memorandum of association (MoA) for setting up a regional centre of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to develop high- yielding rice varieties.
i. The MoA was signed between Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Patnaik and IRRI Director General Matthew Morell.
ii. IRRI’s South Asia Regional Centrewill be set up at the campus of National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) in Varanasi.

Aadi Perukku festival celebrated in Tamilnadu
Aadi Perukku is celebrated for the birth of the Tamil month of Aadi. This is the beginning of all the festivals during the festival seasons.
Key Points:
i. During the month of Thai and Aadi the sun changes directions so it is celebrated in that way.
ii. It is celebrated in a special way in temples like MangaduKamakshi Temple.
iii. In Aadi every friday is celebrated as “Aadivelli”.
iv. The new moon day of this month is celebrated as “AadiAmavasai” which is to remember our ancestors who have reached heavens.
v. The first day of this month is celebrated as Aadipandigai or Aadipirappu, which is an important festival to most tamils, especially newly-weds.
vi. Traditionally, the newly wedded couple is invited to the girl’s house and the couple is gifted with new clothes and other presents.
vii. The 18th day of Aadi is observed as ‘ Aadiperukku’, a day of offerings and prayers to the water bodies like rivers and lakes.
viii. The whole family members go to the river banks and offer pujas.
ix. Aadi is a month of zeal and observances in Amman temples, where prayers and pujas are offered to appease the powerful goddesses and seek their protection from the inauspicious aspects that are often associated with the month.
x. It is to be believed that young girls who do this pooja offering Kaadholai(earrings mad of palm leaf),Karugamani(black beads) and Kaapparisi ( a sweet made of rice and jaggery) will be blessed with good husbands.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

United States issues ban on tourist travel to North Korea
The United States has issued a ban prohibiting its citizens traveling to North Korea. The ban which comes into effect from 1st of September.
Key Points:
i.It is introduced after officials said the “serious risk” of arrest by Pyongyang officials during tourist travel presented an “imminent danger to the physical safety” of its citizens.
ii.The new ban will remain in effect for one year, unless it is revoked sooner by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
iii.Exemptions will be allowed in specific cases for humanitarian travel and journalists.
iv.Strict warnings against travel to the North were already in place before the ban was first announced last month following the death of American student Otto Warmbier.
v.Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, died in June after being held by Pyongyang for more than a year on charges of stealing a propaganda poster from a North Korean hotel.
vi.He had been sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in the North, but was sent home in a mysterious coma in June and died soon afterwards.
vii.All United States passports are declared invalid for travel to North Korea.
About North Korea
♦ Capital: Pyongyang
♦ Currency: North Korean Won
♦ Supreme Leader: Kim Jong-un

USISPF –Strategic partnership forum set up to deepen Indo – US ties
A new representative body US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is being set up to enhance business relations between India and US.
Key Points:
i. According to USISPF the non-profit corporation aims to promote bilateral trade and work on creating meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens.
ii. The body will work with businesses and government leaders to achieve its goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship.
iiiMukesh Aghi will serve as a USISPF President while GauravVerma will serve as Chief Operating officer.
iv. USISPFs board of directors will include:
1.Chairman John Chambers (Executive Chairman, Cisco)
2.Vice-Chairs PunitRenjen (Global CEO, Deloitte LLP)
3.Edward Monser (President, Emerson Electric)
4.Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo)
5.Ajay Banga(President and CEO, MasterCard)

BANKING & FINANCE

India, ASEAN-5 more fetching to FDI than other emerging markets
As per Japanese financial services firm Nomura, India along with ASEAN – 5 countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam) is more attractive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination as compared to other emerging markets.
i. Nomura has dubbed India and ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) as “Asia’s tiger cubs”and has said that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to these nations are expected to surge to around USD 240 billion by 2025.
ii. In India, FDI is expected to flow into sectors that need growth capital such as infrastructure, banks, e-commerce and hospitals and those with strong long-term growth prospects which include retail, automobiles, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

SBI to raise 2000 crore via BASEL- III bonds
State Bank of India plans to raise Rs 2,000 crore by allotting Basel-III compliant bonds to various investors.
Key Points:
i. The committee of directors for capital raising accorded its approval on 3rd of August 2017.
ii. It will allot 20,000 AT1 Basel-III compliant non-convertible, perpetual, subordinated bonds in the nature of debentures.
iii. The bonds will carry a coupon rate of 8.15% per annum with a call option after 5 years or the anniversary date thereafter.
iv. Shares of SBI were trading 1.67% lower at Rs 302.50 on the BSE.
Several Initiatives launched by SBI
♦ BOUTIQUE FINANCING SCHEME
♦ State Bank Freedom App
♦ Twitter Handle Account
♦ Instant Money Transfer App
♦ First home grown INDEX “COMPOSITE INDEX”

BUSINESS

Patanjali to teams up with Facebook , Google for online advertisement push
Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev-led Herbal products manufacturer Patanjali Ayurved plans to team up with social media site Facebook and search engine Google in a push to increase its digital presence for better online marketing.
Key Points:
i. Patanjali will be investing in the online advertising for the first time.
ii. The Indian fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant collected an enormous 15 crore views on You Tube by June while searches for Patanjali products on Google scaled up 11 times in the past four years and three fold over the past three years.
iii. The Patanjali Ayurved channel on You Tube, which started in July 2014, has more than 96,000 subscribers while its page on Facebook has 386,709 followers.
iv. The brand which has been campaigning to “Go Swadeshi” clocked a turnover of Rs 10,561 in the 2016-17 fiscal years.
v. Manufacturing units and headquarters of Patanjali are located in the industrial area of Haridwar.
About Patanjali
♦ The Patanjali Ayurved Limited is an Indian FMCG company.
♦ Founder: Ramdev and AcharyaBalkrishna.
♦ Headquarters: Haridwar, India.

MCX, Mahindra Agri sign MoU for agriculture related price information
Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) and Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide agriculture related price information.
Key Points:
i. This information would be available on their recently launched mobile application ‘MyAgriGuru’ which is available for free on Google play store.
ii. MahindraAgri Solutions Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra.
iii. This MoU would enhance the decision-making ability of the farmers.
iv .This partnership also strengthens the vision of the two leading organizations to empower farmers by offering knowledge based solutions.
v. It also fulfills another Government’s motive to digitize the agricultural sector.
vi. Through this partnership, it will enable farmers to manage prices and also provide them with solutions that boost both agricultural productivity and farm incomes substantially.
vii. The main objective is to educate farmers by delivering complete information on agricultural products.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Hassan Rouhani sworn in as Iran’s president for a second term
Hassan Rouhani was officially sworn in as the President of Iran for a second term.
Key Points:
i. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei gave his official approval for Rouhani’s appointment.
ii. Rouhani will administer the oath at the Iranian parliament on 5thAugust 2017.
iii. Before that, he has to present his cabinet before the parliament for a vote of confidence.
iv. As per Iran’s Election Law, a president-elect is required to get the Leader’s approval before being sworn-in before the Parliament.
v. Rouhani won the re-election in May 2017, after securing 57% of the votes. He defeated his main contender Ebrahim Raeisi.
Iran :
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani

InCred ropes in Rahul Dravid as brand ambassador
InCred, the Mumbai-based new age financial services group, has signed up Rahul Dravid, as its Brand Ambassador the former Captain of Indian Cricket Team.
Key Points:
i. The Mumbai-based start-up has raised $85 million, one of the largest rounds of funding of a start-up in the Indian financial services industry recently.
ii. The company said that it plans to work on its marketing strategy through various online and offline marketing platforms with Rahul.
iii. Bhupinder Singh, the Founder and CEO of InCred, was formerly the head of the Investment Banking division of Deutsche Bank for Asia-Pacific.
iv. Anshu Jain, the former Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, is the Chairman of InCred’s Advisory Board.
v. InCred, which began its lending operations in January this year, has already disbursed Rs 100-crore loans to about 1,000 customers as of March 2017 and is targeting a loan book of Rs 1,500 crore by March 2018.
vi. The company gives loans in four categories – affordable housing loans, consumer loans, education loans and SME loans.

Harmanpreet Kaur appointed as DSP by Punjab Government
The Punjab state government has appointed Harmanpreet Kaur to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in the state police.
Key Points:
i. Harmanpreet, the all-rounder cricketer had made 171 runs from 115 balls against Australia in the semi-finals and steered India into the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 final.
ii. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has directed the state Director General of Police (DGP)Suresh Arora to complete the necessary formalities for her appointment.
iii. After Kaur’s appointment to the force, they would be setting up a cricket team within the police department.
iv. Singh also mentioned that he wanted to keep the talented young Kaur, currently working in the Railways, in Punjab.
v. Singh also handed a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh cheque to Kaur.
vi. Kaur mentioned that she wanted more cricket academies to come up in Punjab, so that the problems she has faced are not faced by other budding players.
About Harmanpreet Kaur:
♦ 
Born on 8th of March 1989 at Moga, Punjab ,India.
♦ Batting style: Right-hand bat
♦ Bowling style: Right-arm medium fast
♦ Role: Batter
♦  She was signed by Sydney Scorchers in 2016 thus becoming first ever Indian cricketer to play for an overseas T20 franchise.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

NCLT approves Airtel-Telenor merger
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the proposed merger between Bharti Airtel and Telenor India announced on 3rd of August 2017.
Key Points:
i. Airtel would take over its spectrum in all seven circles — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam.
ii. It would also acquire its licences and operations, including its employees and customer base of 44 million.
iii. Through this merger, Airtel expand its overall customer base and network
iv. Airtel will pocket 43.4 units of 4G spectrum in 1800 MHz band once the Telenor deal is concluded.
v. Airtel will also take over Telenor India’s outstanding spectrum payments of some Rs1,650 crore and other operational contracts, including tower leases with Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers.
vi. In June, the merger received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
vii. The merger has also received nod from the Competition Commission of India. The merger is subject to other statutory approvals.
About Airtel
♦  Founded: 7 July 1995
♦  Founder: Sunil Bharti Mittal
♦ Headquarters: Bharti Crescent, 1, Nelson Mandela Road, New Delhi
♦  Chairman and MD: Sunil Bharti Mittal.
♦ CEO: Gopal Vittal

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Humraaz app : Indian Army developed for soldiers to track their details
The Indian Army has developed a mobile application app “Humraaz”through which serving soldiers can track their details like postings and promotions.
Key Points:
i. Through the ‘Humraaz’ app, soldiers can also view their monthly salary slips and the Form 16 and also download them.
ii. For security reasons, the installation of the application has been linked to verification of Aadhaar details.
iii. The Aadhaar details will be verified with the Army database over (National Information Centre) NIC cloud and he will get a one-time-password on his registered mobile number.
iv. To enable usage of this mobile application, the latest mobile number of individuals should be linked to his Aadhaar number.
v. The mobile app has been developed in-house by the Army and will be launched in the second week of August 2017.
vi. The app will allow for prompt communication of information to junior commissioner officers and other personnel.

Human embryos edited to stop disease
An international team of scientists have discovered a way to successfully freed embryos of a piece of faulty DNA that causes deadly heart disease in families.
Key Points:
i. The discovery published online on 3rd of August 2017 in the journal Nature potentially opens the door to prevent 10000 disorders that are passed down the generations.
ii. It includes the idea of wiping out genetic faults that cause diseases from cystic fibrosis to breast cancer.
iii. The process CRISPR was completed without introducing any harmful mutations, which was a problem in previous attempts.
ivCRISPR is a gene-editing technique which allows scientists to insert, remove and correct DNA within a cell with pinpoint precision.
v. US teams at Oregon Health and Science University and the Salk Institute along with the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea focused on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
vi. HCM is a common disorder that affects people of any age (men or women).
vii. According to the reports it affects one in every 500 people and it is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people, including young athletes.

ENVIRONMENT

Sun’s Core rotates four times faster than its surface
An international team of astronomers has found that the Sun’s core rotates nearly four times faster than its surface. 
i. The discovery was possible with European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, which helped the solar scientists find evidence of a type of seismic wave in Sun.
ii. These low-frequency waves, called g-modes, revealed that the solar core is rotating some four times faster than the solar surface.
iii. The idea that the solar core could be rotating more rapidly than the surface has been considered for more than 20 years, but was never measured till now.

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