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- Current Affairs 2017 January
Supreme Court Directs Election Commission for Paper Audit Trail in EVMs
i. The Supreme Court is set to re-introduce the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for 100 % transparency in elections. The VVPAT in EVM would ensure free and fair polls besides sorting out disputes.
ii. Justice Gogoi has directed the Election Commission to determine and inform the approximate time within which the entire system of the VVPAT can be introduced, including grant of sanction and release of funds as and when required.
iii. A similar order was given in 2013 by the Supreme Court for implementing VVPAT in EVMs for the general elections in 2014.
About VVPAT System
♦ In VVPAT system, as the voter presses the button for desired candidate in the EVM, a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol is printed for the voter.
♦ The system would enable the voters to verify that their vote is casted correctly. It also would help in detecting any election fraud or malfunction and provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
Gujarat Government Launches Student Startup and Innovation Policy
i. The Gujarat government has introduced India’s first Student Startup and Innovation Policy to provide financial support to enable the students in developing their innovative ideas
ii. The Student Startup and Innovation Policy has been developed under the aegis of Education Department. The policy will support student-led startups & innovations and create an Innovation and Pre-incubation Ecosystem Support (IPIES) across all universities of the state.
iii. Under the pre-incubation support the policy would help the students to convert their ideas from proof of concept (PoC) to minimum viable proto-type (MVP), and also provide support for patent filing.
iv. The Gujarat government would provide Rs 200 crore as State Innovation Fund for the next five years, of which Rs 100 crore will be allocated by the state government and the remaining amount will be created by internal sources, like university funds and CSR funds.
Maharashtra Government Launches Country’s Largest WiFi Service
i. Maharashtra Government led by Chief Minister Devandra Fednavis launched India’s largest Public wifi service, “MumbaiWifi” on January 9, 2017 to digitally empower the residents of the state.
ii .MumbaiWifi is also considered as one of the largest wifi facility in the world. The wifi facility will be covered in a phased manner.
iii. Phase I: Initially 500 wifi hotspots have been launched for the service including office of the Commissioner of Police, Vidhan Bhawan, Kalanagar in Bandra, Bombay High Court among others.
iv. Phase II: From May 1, 2017, 1200 wifi hotspots will be active.
Railway Minister announces Non Fare Revenue Policy to boost Additional Revenue
i. Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on January 10, 2017 launched a Non Fare Revenue Policy to boost up additional revenue and reduce its dependence on traditional revenue system such as passenger and freight traffic.
ii. Under the policy Railway has decided to sell outdoor spaces at railway stations to media agencies for installing advertising hoardings and billboards, provide radio and video content through wifi on stations and trains, lease out spaces at platforms to set up over 2000 ATMs and sell branding of rights of trains and stations to FMCG and other companies.
iii. The railway expects that the policy would boost the railway non-fare revenues within a year by nearly six times from Rs. 300 crore to nearly Rs. 18000 crore.
PM Modi Inaugurates Nobel Prize exhibition in Gujarat
i. PM Modi inaugurated the Nobel Prize exhibition ‘Ideas Changing the World’ at Science City in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on January 9, 2017 as a part of the 8th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (VGGS). PM also met 9 Nobel laureates from across the globe.
ii. The Noble Prize Series 2017 is being conducted by Nobel Media for the first time in India and is coordinated by the Department of Biotechnology in Delhi.
iii .During the five-week long exhibition set up by the Nobel Foundation, the Nobel laureates will interact with students, scientists, industry leaders and policy makers through conference and meeting events, such as lectures, roundtables and other activities.
iv. Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for the redevelopment of the Gandhinagar railway station and inaugurated the International Stock Exchange at GIFT City.
20th National Conference for e-Governance Held in Andhra Pradesh
i. The 20th National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG) was held from January 9-10, 2017 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
ii. The theme for the conference was Internet of Things and e-Governance.
iii. The basic aim of NCeG was to use digital innovations for transforming India.
iv. The conference was organised by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in partnership with Information Technology, Electronics and Communication (ITE&C) Department, Andhra Pradesh Government.
v. The main areas discussed during the conference included cyber security policy for future, technology led-monetary transaction leading to financial inclusion and digital economy through last mile connectivity among others.
vi. During the occasion a film on e- governance “Transforming India” was also screened.
Income Tax Department receives Silver Award for e-filing of Income Tax Returns project
i. The Income Tax Department has won a Silver Award at the National Awards on e-Governance 2016-17 for its e-filing initiative.
ii .It has been conferred the National Awards on e-Governance for the e-filing of Income Tax returns and other forms project in the category Incremental Innovations
iii. The award is in recognition of the achievements of the Department in the area of e-Governance and for significant innovations in successful e-Governance programs.
BANKING & FINANCE
Axis Bank Becomes Third Lender to Use Block Chain Solution
i. Following ICICI and Yes bank, the private sector lender Axis Bank has also joined the group as the third bank to use block chain solutions in its operations.
ii. Third largest Private sector bank led by Shikha Sharma has tied up with fintech firm Ripple to offer the solution.
iii. Blockchain is a secured way of conducting online transactions. It is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions on thousands of computers globally in such a way that the registered transactions cannot be altered retrospectively. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset.
iv. The Block-Chain technology would be used for cross border remittances which is a key area of concern for the banks. Use of the new technology would enable instant transfer of money as against the current system that takes about a week for the same.
About Axis Bank
♦ CEO: Shikha Sharma
♦ Founded: 1993
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
Lufthansa becomes first carrier to launch commercial operations with Airbus A350 to India
i. German airline company Lufthansa has become the first carrier to launch commercial operations with Airbus A350 to India after it announced that the first flight to Delhi from Munich on this aircraft will be operated on February 11, 2017.
ii. The first flight will be launching Airbus A350 between Delhi and Munich on February 11, 2017.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Cristiano Ronaldo Named FIFA Best Player of the Year 2016
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named the world’s best player at the inaugural Best FIFA Football Awards 2016 on January 9, 2017 in Zurich, Switzerland.The Real Madrid player beat great rival Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Argentina’s Antoine Griezmann to win the top award of FIFA.
List of Winners
|The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award||Cristiano Ronaldo.|
|The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award||Carli Lloyd.|
|The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award||Claudio Ranieri.|
|The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award||Silvia Neid.|
|The FIFA Puskás Award 2016||Mohd Faiz Subri.|
|The FIFA Fair Play Award||Atletico National.|
|The FIFA Fan Award||Dortmund fans and Liverpool fans.|
|The FIFA lifetime achievement award||Falcao.|
|The FIFA FIFPro World11||Neuer, Dani Alves, Pique, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo.|
US President Obama Selects 4 Indian-American Scientists for Presidential Awards
i. Four Indian–American scientists have been selected by the US President Barack Obama on January 10, 2017 for the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
ii. Established by President Clinton in 1996, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.
iii. Of the total 102 recipient of the PECASE, the four Indian origin scientists are Pankaj Lal from Montclair State University, Kaushik Chowdhury from Northeastern University, Manish Arora from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Aradhna Tripati from University of California, Los Angeles.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Kalyan Krishnamurthy appointed as Flipkart’s new CEO
i. Kalyan Krishnamurthy has been named the new Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Flipkart on January 9, 2017. He will replace Sachin Bansal who will retain his position and work closely with Binny Bansal to drive businesses in areas such as fintech, private brands, business-to-business services, and logistics
ii. Krishnamurthy joined Flipkart in June 2016 as head of the core ecommerce business and led the charge to consolidate the company’s lead over arch rival Amazon in the toughly contested season of festival sales.
iii. He will be responsible for Flipkart’s profit and losses, marking a first for the Indian startup sector.
♦ Founded: September 5, 2007
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
PropTiger, Housing merge, to raise $55 mn
i. The largest online residential real estate brokerage firm PropTiger.Com and Housing.Com announced a merger on January 10, 2017 to create India’s largest online real estate services company .
ii. REA Group Ltd will invest USD 50 million with an affiliate of SoftBank Group Corp will invest USD 5 million for this merging operation.
iii. After merging also, News Corps remains the largest shareholder of PropTiger with 61.6% of REA Group.
iv. Representatives of REA and SoftBank will join the board of the new entity and co-founder and CEO of PropTiger, Dhruv Agarwala will serve as CEO of the new entity.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Indian Army conducted trials of Indigenous Artillery Gun System Dhanush in the Himalayas
i. The Indian Army is successfully conducted the user-validation trials of indigenous artillery gun Dhanush in the Himalayas so that they are ready to be inducted into the Army.
ii. The exercise is being conducted under the aegis of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and the Leh-based 14 Corps. The 15 Corps is tasked to face Pakistan while the 14 Corps is tasked to face Pakistan as well as China.
iii. A total of six guns are being tested-fired in snow and in conditions where temperatures are at minus 10 degrees. With the successful test-firing the Ordnance Factory Board will start its bulk production
ISRO and CNES ink pact for satellite launch technology
i. ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed a partnership agreement in satellite launch technology in the presence of visiting French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault in Bengaluru.
ii. Space cooperation between France and India spans over 50 years, this partnership will enable France to benefit from the Indian model of streamlining the costs of space programmes.
iii. Ayrault, accompanied by the French delegation, was given a guided tour of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network) which monitors Indian space missions, including the two Indo-French satellites currently in orbit for collecting data to track climate change.
Space Agencies :
♦ NASA – USA ♦ CNES – France
♦ CNSA – China ♦ JAXA – Japan
Chinese Kuaizhou-1A Rocket Successfully Launches First Commercial Mission
i. A Chinese rocket Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) successfully launched three satellites into space in its first commercial mission on January 9, 2017 from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu.
ii. The KZ-1A is an advanced version of the Kuaizhou-1 rocket with improvements in adaptability. It is a low-cost solid-fuelled carrier rocket with high reliability and short preparation period and was designed to launch low-orbit satellites weighing less than 300 kg.
iii. The three satellites launched by KZ-1A included JL-1, CubeSats XY-S1 and Caton-1.
iv .The JL-1 is a multifunctional remote-sensing satellite to provide high-definition video images mainly for land resource and forestry surveying, environmental protection, transport and disaster prevention and relief purposes.
v. The XY-S1 is used to test technologies of low-orbit narrow-band communication and Caton-1for testing VHF Data Exchange System
Health Ministry to Introduce Measles-Rubella vaccine in its Universal Immunization Programme
i. The Union Health Minister J P Nadda is all set to introduce the measles-rubella vaccine (MR) from February 2017 in five states and Union territories in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) to provide preventive medications to every child born in India.
ii. Beside, an additional vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate (pneumococcal pneumonia) will also become a part of the UIP basket from March 2017 in three other states.
iii .The UIP basket already has ten vaccines including measles and once MR is introduced, monovalent measles will be discontinued.
iv. The MR vaccine will be introduced in Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu between February 3 and 4 while the pneumonia vaccine will be introduced in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from March 17.
v. Rubella, commonly known as German Measles is an infection that is believed to affect approximately 25,000 children born in India every year. Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.
Chilika lake encounters 176 species of migratory birds this year
i. As per the annual census conducted by the Wildlife wing of the Forest Department the number of migratory birds in the Chilika lake, Odisha has substantially gone up this year.
ii. According to Chilika Wildlife DFO, 88,264 more birds have visited the brackish water lake this year than the last year. Last year, 8,58,855 birds were sighted in the lake while the number has gone up to 9,47,119 this year.
iii. A total of 176 species of migratory birds were seen in the largest brackish water lake in Asia this year.
iv .About 20 teams were engaged in the bird census in the 11,000 sq km area of the lake.
Scientists finds New Ginger species with medicinal properties in Andamans
Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered a new species of ginger in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The new species named as Zingiber pseudosquarrosum belongs to genus Zingiber.
♦ It was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.
Features of the new Species of Ginger
i. Zingiber pseudosquarrosum is red in color with lotus shaped flowers and saffron colored fruit.
ii. It has tuberous roots with inflorescent buds and can be consumed similar to other edible gingers.
iii .The fresh juice from its roots can be used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles.
Roberto Bautista Wins 2017 Chennai Open Single Title
i. Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain clinched the men’s singles title of the 2017 Chennai Open on January 8, 2017 defeating Daniil Medvedev 6-3 and 6-4 to claim the first ATP tournament of the season.
ii. The 20-year-old has won five ATP singles titles till date and has achieved a career-high singles ranking of world No. 13 in October 2016.
iii .This is the second time Bautista played a final at the Chennai Open. Earlier in 2013, he was the runner-up to Janko Tipsarevic.
Eight-year old Kashmiri boy Abbu Ammaz becomes national boxing champion
i. Abbu Ammaz (8), a class 2 student from Jammu and Kashmir has bagged the gold medal in Thai Boxing Championship at the national level.
ii. He was felicitated by the civil administration, district authorities and police.
Indian Boxers :
♦ Mary Kom, Vijender Singh Bhiwani, Akhil Kumar, Hawa Singh Umarwas, Jitender Kumar, Varghese Johnson and Mohammed Ali Qamar
India’s Shreyas Wins Scottish Junior Open title
i. Mumbai youngster, Shreyas Mehta, won the Scottish Junior Open Squash championship at Edinburgh on January 9, 2017.
ii. The Indian U-13 top squash player Shreyas Mehta defeated Colombia’s Juan Jose Torres Lara 9/12. Earlier he has won US Junior open.
Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman dies in UK at age 91
i. The most prominent and prolific European sociologists, Zygmunt Bauman has died at the age of 91.He was a strong moral voice for the poor and dispossessed in a world upended by globalisation.
ii. Bauman’s works explored the fluidity of identity in the modern world, the Holocaust, consumerism and globalisation.
iii. He wrote more than 50 books, notably “Modernity and the Holocaust,” a 1989 release in which he differed with many other thinkers who saw the barbarism of the Holocaust as a breakdown in modernity.
iv. He has coined the term “liquid modernity” to describe a contemporary world in such flux that individuals are left rootless and bereft of any predictable frames of reference.
Former German President Roman Herzog Dies Aged 82
i. Former German president Roman Herzog passed away in Berlin, Germany on January 10, 2017. He was 82.
ii. Roman was a former conservative regional politician and chief judge of Germany’s constitutional court, served as head of state from 1994-99.
iii. He was well known for the phrase “Germany needs a jolt” from his 1997 Berlin speech “Moving into the 21st century” in which he warned that a country scared of change would go under in a globalised world.
♦ Capital: Berlin
♦ Currency : Euro
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Akhada : The Authorized Biography of Mahavir Singh Released
i. Akhada is the authorized biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler and a coach.
ii. The book is written by sports journalist Sourabh Duggal and was released on 21 December 2016 at the Chandigarh Press Club.
iii. This book tells the story of a man of tremendous fortitude, of a father who fought against all odds to give his daughters Olympians Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari
World Hindi Day – Jan 10, 2017
i. The 12th World Hindi Day was celebrated on 10 January 2017 across the world to honour our Indo-Aryan language.
ii. World Hindi Day was first observed on 10 January 2006 while Hindi Divas (Hindi Day ) is being observed every year on September 14
iii. According to the recent report, Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world.