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Current Affairs Today – January 12 2017

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CAT January


Election Commission Issues Notification for Assembly Election in Punjab and Goa
i. The Notifications regarding the single phased Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa  was issued by the Election Commission on January 11, 2017 to start the process of filing nomination papers in the state.
iiImportant Dates as per the notification
Last date of filing nominations by candidate: January 18, 2017
Scrutiny of the nomination paper: January 19, 2017
Last date to withdraw nominations from the election: January 21
Date of casting election vote in both the states: February 4, 2017
Counting of the votes: March 11, 2017
iii. There are 117-Assembly constituencies in Punjab while Goa has 40 assembly constituencies.
iv. Besides, the Election Commission has also instructed the Chief Electoral Officers of five poll bound states to remove any such hoarding or advertisements that projects any achievement or photos of political leaders
v. It has also directed not to display any such statements that are based on religion, or face stern action. Howver, the Commission has permitted to display general information about family planning and social welfare schemes.

Supreme Courts Directs Kerala Government to Compensate Victims of Endosulfan Poisioning
The state government of Kerala has been directed by the Supreme Court on January 10, 2017 to pay Rs.500 crore as compensation to 5,000 victims suffering various types of deformities, health issues and other complication due to the use of Endosulfan pesticides in the state.Endosulfan causes DNA damage in animals
 The apex court also instructed the state to set up such treatment centers that can provide long term treatment to those suffering from heath complications due to the poisoning. The victims mostly include newborns and their families.
i. Endosulfan pesticides were generally used in 1950 in agricultural sector. However after 2 decades many countries realised its hazardous impact on environment as well as health of the people and was gradually banned in about 80 countries.
ii. Since the mid-1970s, villages in Kasargod district of Kerala also used aerial spraying of Endosulfan on thousands of hectares of cashew nut plantations.
iii. A PIL was filed by the ‘Democratic Youth Federation of India’ in 2011 about the use of the pesticide by the farmers despite the ban.
iv. A high level committee was appointed by the Supreme Court to study health hazards posed by registered pesticides and found that 13.35% of them including endosulfan were seriously hazardous after which SC also directed ban on the use of Endosulfan pesticide in 2012.
v. However the Centre and Kerala State Government opposed the ban due to the low cost and effective on pests.

Center Drafts Rules to Regulate Dog Breeding Centres
i. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has proposed draft rules Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, 2017), to regulate dog breeding centres in the country.
ii. The proposed rule would prohibit dog breeding without registration. The rule prescribes the various requirements that should be met by the registered breeders for breeding or housing of dogs.
iii. It also contains conditions for medical care, age, pet shop licences, record keeping and sterilisation for sale of these dogs.
iv. The move is aimed to protect the thousands of dogs that are illegally bred under deplorable conditions without proper medical care. Besides, new born puppies often less than two months of age are sold to customers without any registration or records.

World’s first gender literature fest to be held in Patna 
i. The world’s first ‘Gender Literature Festival’ is scheduled to be held in Patna, Bihar in the second week of April, 2017
ii. Aim : To create a platform, to exchange ideas, and to share and learn experiences of renowned people in the field of gender literature.
iii. This festival will be organised by  Gender Resource Centre of Bihar’s Women Development Corporation.
iv. The festival will also act as a platform to increase visibility for gender equity and advocacy in the State of Bihar.

Jammu & Kashmir Government Presents Reform Focused Power Budget
i. The Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu presented the Power
on January 12, 2017 with strategy to focus on addressing the purchase liability and put reforms as the core agenda for the power sector.
ii. The first power budget was presented six months ago. This is the second power budget Jammu & Kashmirthat provides a transparent accounting system for the sector. In 2016-17, the government spent Rs 12,000 crore on power purchases and liquidating past liabilities.
iii .The investments were directed towards making systemic and capacity improvements in the Transmission and Distribution infrastructure in the state, with an aim to supply adequate quality power and make the State Power Development Corporation debt-free with financial restructuring.
iv. Despite this the power situation in Jammu hasn’t improved. Till date the government has liquidated more than Rs 4,000 crore of past liability. The government would soon launch an ambitious metering and enforcement framework to check power misuse

Arunachal signs MoU with NDDB to promote dairy development
i. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Shakuntala D Gamlin and NDDB Chairman Dilip Rath are signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Chief Minister Pema Khandu to kick-start a ‘white revolution’ in Arunachal Pradesh.
ii. According to the MoU, NDDB will conduct a survey related to milk production and consumption and identify areas of intervention in Arunachal Pradesh
iii. Based on the survey, NDDB would prepare a 5 year dairy development plan and provide technical support to the state to set up a milk procurement system.
iv. NDDB would also provide technical support in terms of establishment of dairy infrastructure, cattle feed and mineral mixture plant besides providing training and capacity building of farmers, dairy technicians and others.
Arunachal Pradesh :
♦ Arunachal Pradesh is also known as Land of Rising sun. It is surrounded by Assam and Nagaland.
♦  State Festival : Losar, Dree, Solung and Reh


Saudi Arabia Increases Annual Haj Quota for India by 34500
i. Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten inked an agreement on January 11, 2017 in Jeddah to hike the India’s annual Haj quota by 34,500.
ii. With this the India’s Haj quota has been increased from 1,36,020 to 1,70,520. Last year, 1,35,903 devotees from India performed Haj. The increase will be eefective from January 1, 2017.
iii. It is the biggest increase in quota for Haj pilgrims after 1988. Five years ago, the Saudi authorities slashed quotas for foreign pilgrims from each country by 20 per cent considering the devotees’ safety as they undertook expansion of the Grand Mosque.
Saudi Arabia
♦ Capital: Riyadh
♦ Currency: Saudi riyal
♦ King of Saudi Arabia: Salman bin Abdulaziz

Europe’s first underwater museum opens in Lanzarote
i. The first and only underwater sculpture museum of Europe, Museo Atlantico, has been inaugurated on January 10, 2017 off the Canary Island coast of Lanzarote.
ii. The museum has been created at a depth of between 12 and 15 meters on the ocean floor and will be accessible to scuba divers and visible to glass-bottom boats.
iii. It features over 300 life-sized sculptures and has 12 sprawling underwater installations by artist Jason deCaires Taylor who took almost three years to complete the project.
iv. The sculptures are created with pH neutral materials and have been designed to last for hundreds of years as an artificial reef for marine life to thrive on.
v. They have also been created to raise awareness of the need for environmental conservation and to highlight marine ecology issues.
vi. British sculptor deCaires Taylor had installed its first similar underwater sculpture park in Grenada, the West Indies which was named as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World in National Geographic magazine.


TN temples to go digital by HDFC Bank
i. HDFC Bank introduced digital wallets to install point of sale (PoS) terminals at counters in temples of Tamil Nadu.
ii. Five temples in Kanyakumari district in southern Tamil Nadu have introduced digital wallets and PoS to enable their devotees pay donations
iii. The temples that have introduced digital mode include Arulmighu Thanumalaya Swamy Temple, Suchindrum; Arulmighu Bhagavathi Amman Temple, Kanyakumari; Arulmighu Nagaraja Temple,Nagercoil; Arulmighu Bhagavathi Amman Temple, Mondaikadu; and Arulmighu Kumaraswamy Temple, Velimalai.
iv. HDFC Bank has opened five new government accounts for collecting donations from the devotees using their debit or credit cards.
About HDFC Bank
♦ HDFC Bank is the first largest private bank in India as measured by assets.
♦ CEO: Aditya Puri
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

Citibank Launches Voice Biometrics Authentication for Phone Banking
i. Citibank India has launched a Voice Biometrics Authentication for its phone banking customers on January 10, 2017 that would allow clients to use their voiceprints for authentication rather than remember multiple PINs or respond to questions through current practice of interactive voice response (IVR) used for verifying their identities.
ii. The voice biometrics authentication uses unique voiceprint which is similar to fingerprint for each person.
iii. This new solution is fast, secure and convenient as verification would take only 15 seconds in comparison to the current system that takes about 45 seconds for a customer to verify his/her details.
iv. The authentication would automatically complete while the customer speak to the bank official when they call CitiPhone Banking.
♦ Headquarters:  New York, United States
♦ CEO: Barbara J. Desoer
♦ Motto: Citi never sleeps
♦ Founded: 16 June 1812

NITI Aayog Estimates the GDP Growth of 8 Percent for 2016-17
i. NITI Aayog has projected the GDP growth rate of 8 Percent for 2016-17 based on the appraisal document for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.
ii. The estimate does not take into account the impact of demonetization.
iii. The policy think tank laid that overcoming the lack of reforms in land acquisition, labour, skill development and simplification of regulatory cum administrative procedures can lead to growth prospect of above 8 percent.
iv. NITI Aayog laid that India is lagging behind in electronics, food processing, leather, and textiles and garments sectors that are the reasons for hindering growth.
About NITI Aayog
♦ NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is a Government of India policy think-tank established by the Narendra Modi government to replace the Planning Commission.
♦ Formed: 1 January 2015
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Chairman: Narendra Modi
♦ Vice Chairman: Arvind Panagariya


Mahindra Asset Management launches Mahindra Mutual Fund Dhan Sanchay Yojna scheme
i. Mahindra Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd (MAMCPL) launched  an open ended scheme Mahindra Mutual Fund Dhan Sanchay Yojna scheme to generate long-term returns through investment in equity and debt.
ii. The scheme will close on January 24, 2017 and will open again for continuous sale and repurchase from February 8, 2017
iii. The scheme is for investors who seek to take a calculated exposure in both equity and debt wit a long term investment outlook


Housing’s ex-CEO Jason Kothari to join Snapdeal 
i. After the announcement of a merger of Housing with PropTiger, CEO of,Jason Kothari will be the chief strategy and investment officer of Snapdeal.
ii. Kothari will take his responsibility from January 16, 2017
iii. He is a strong business leader and an entrepreneur who has already been the CEO of two successful companies
Snapdeal :
♦ Snapdeal is an Indian e-commerce company based in New Delhi, India.
♦ CEO: Kunal Bahl
♦ Founded: 2010
♦ Founders: Rohit Bansal, Kunal Bahl

Manish Tewari appointed senior fellow of US think tank
i. Congress leader and former Union Minister Manish Tewari was appointed  as the senior fellow of US-based think tank Atlantic Council on January 11, 2017
ii. Tewari will focus on programming aimed at strengthening US-India relations.
iii. He has served as a Member of Parliament from Ludhiana and is currently the national Manish Tewari appointed senior fellow of US think tankspokesperson of the Congress party.
Atlantic Council :
♦ The Atlantic Council is a think tank in the field of international affairs. Founded in 1961, it provides a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders
♦ Headquartered : Washington, D.C.
♦ President & CEO: Frederick Kempe


INS Khanderi, Second Scorpene Class Submarine Launched in Mumbai
i. INS Khanderi, India’s second French-designed Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarine was launched in Mumbai on January 12, 2017 at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).
ii. The Submarine was launched by Bina Bhamre, wife of the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Defence, Subhash Bhamre in the presence of Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba.
iii. Khanderi is the second among the six submarines being built at MDL in collaboration with M/s DCNS of France, as part of Project 75 of Indian Navy. Under Project 75 would acquire 6 next generation diesel submarines with Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP) technology for the Indian Navy by 2022.

Chinese Navy Commissions Sophisticated Ship CNS Kaiyangxing into its Fleet
i. The China’s Navy commissioned a sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar to North Sea Fleet in Qingdao, Shandong province on January 10, 2017.
ii. The new ship with hull code 856 is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock observation on multiple targets. The ship is so sophisticated that only a few countries, such as the US and Russia, are capable of developing it.
iii. The Kaiyangxing is a Type 815A electronic reconnaissance ship, with displacement of 6,000 metric tons and a maximum speed of 20 knots or 37 kilometers per hour.
iv. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now has six electronic reconnaissance vessels including Beijixing (Polaris), Tianwangxing (Uranus), Tianlangxing (Sirius), Haiwangxing (Neptune), Kaiyangxing (Mizar) and another whose name has not been revealed and is only known by its hull code of 855.
♦ Capital: Beijing
♦ Currency: Renminbi
♦ President: Xi Jinping

Low-Cost Hand Powered Blood Centrifuge Developed by Stanford Bioengineers
i. The Stanford Bioengineers including Indian Origin among them have created a ultra-low-cost, human-powered centrifuge device that is capable to separate blood into its individual components in only 1.5 minutes.
ii. Centrifuge is a machine with a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents, typically to separate fluids of different densities or liquids from solids. It is critical for detecting diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis.
iii. The Bioengineers have developed a prototype of this Centrifuge using 20 cents of paper, twine and plastic. This “paperfuge” can spin at speeds of 125,000 rpm and exert centrifugal forces of 30,000 Gs.
iv. A typical centrifuge spins fluid samples inside an electric-powered rotating drum. However,this low-cost version will be hand-powered and enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent.

NGT Directs Centre to Test Use of Microbeads in Cosmetics
i. The National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to test cosmetic products containing microbeads and submit a report in four weeks.
ii. A Bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim said it is the duty of the government to ensure that no dangerous product is allowed to be manufactured or sold to public and has scheduled the next hearing for the matter on February 15, 2017.
iii. The direction came after a petition was filed by Delhi-based lawyer Ashwini Kumar seeking a ban on their use as they are extremely dangerous for aquatic life and environment.
iv. Microbeads are tiny plastic substances measuring less than five millimetres that act as exfoliators, agents which remove dead cells on skin and teeth when used in soap, toothpaste and other products. Many brands manufacturing beauty products use microbeads.


Star Wars gibbon is new primate species discovered in China 
i. Scientists have concluded a gibbon living in the tropical forests of south west China is a new species of primate.
ii. It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon, means “Heaven’s movement”.
iii. The researchers estimate that there are about 200 of the Skywalker gibbons living in China.


PR Sreejesh Becomes Member of FIH Athletes’ Committee
i. The Captain of Indian men’s Hockey Team, PR Sreejesh was selected as a member of International Hockey Federation (FIH) Athletes’ Committee on January 11, 2017 by the FIH Executive Board.
ii. FIH Athletes’ Committee comprises a total of eight current and former hockey players. They are responsible to act as a liaison between the FIH and the athletes to make sure the players have voice in the FIH decision making process.
iii. The Committee will also have to deal with areas such as develop, collaborate, provide and promote resources for athletes including athlete health and welfare, career preparation and management, anti-doping, betting and match-fixing.
iv. Under Indian Goalkeeper, Sreejesh the Indian Hockey Team won silver medal at the 2016 FIH Champions Trophy in London.
International Hockey Federation (FIH)PR Sreejesh
International Hockey Federation (FIH) is the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey. FIH is responsible for field hockey’s major international tournaments, notably the World Cup.
♦ Headquarter: Lausanne, Switzerland
♦ President: Narinder Batra
♦ Founded: January 1924

Cue Champion Pankaj Advani wins Kolkata Open snooker Championship
i. Cue sports Ace Pankaj Advani clinched the 3rd Kolkata Open National Invitation Snooker Championship 2017 on January 8, 2017 organised by the West Bengal Billiards Association at the Bengal Rowing Club.
ii. The 16 times World Champion outclassed Aditya Mehta 5-1 who has won the last two editions of the Championship


Former MRF director KM Philip passes away
i. KM Philip, 104, former whole-time director on the board of MRF, passed away.
ii. Mr. Philip was a Padma Shri Awardee and a noted philanthropist.
iii. He has served on the Rubber Board of India for more than 15 years.


National Youth Day- January 12, 2017
i. National Youth Day also known as Yuva Diwas is celebrated every year with the great joy and enthusiasm in India on January 12 since 1985 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the maker of the modern India.
ii. This year January 12, 2017 marks the 154th birth anniversary of most respected spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda.
iii. This year also the Department has organized the 21st National Youth Festival at Rohtak, Haryana from January 12-16, 2017.
iv. The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Youth for Digital India’ and the Mascot of the festival is Lado.