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- Current Affairs 2017 January
Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa on Seven Day Visit to India
i. The Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa was on a seven-day long official visit to India from January 6 to January 12, 2017. Costa who traces roots from Goa was accompanied by several ministers
ii. India and Portugal signed 7 MoUs on January 7, 2017 in New Delhi to deepen bilateral ties between the two economies.
iii. MoUs signed included cooperation in areas of Defence, information technology and electronics, agricultural trade including market access for agricultural products, deeper engagement in renewable energy and marine research.
iv. Visiting PM Antonio Costa concluded his visit with a two day trip to Goa from January 11 to January 12, 2017 during which he visited his ancestral house in Margao City in South Goa and attended a host of events in the coastal state.
Uhuru Kenyatta , President of Kenya Three Day State Visit to India
i. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta paid a state visit to India from January 10-12, 2017 on an invitation extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since 1981, this is the first state visit from Kenya to India
ii. The two countries signed 2 MoU in the area including:
1.Cooperation in the agriculture and allied sector
2.Line of Credit for US$100 million for agricultural mechanization
iii. After delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyian President Uhuru Kenyatta in New Delhi on January 11, 2017, MoU was signed for cooperation in the agriculture sector and allied sector.
iv. India also signed an agreement with Kenya on January 11, 2017 announcing to contribute $100 million Line of Credit to Kenya for agricultural mechanization.
International conference on Disability Communication held in Mumbai
The 3 day international conference on Disability Communication ICDC-2017
held at Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini in Mumbai, Maharashtra from January 9-11, 2017 with curriculum outline of disability communication for the University of Mumbai
♦ Aim : To build a foundation for the master’s degree in Disability communication and the main area of interest is accessibility for those who want to deal with disability communication and explore in this field.
Highlights of the conference :
i. The conference was organized by the Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Mumbai, in collaboration with AYJNISHD (D) Mumbai and the research group Communication, Culture & Diversity (CCD) at Jonkoping University, Sweden.
ii. The need of developing an Indian Sign Language (ISL) akin to Muaritian Sign Language (MSL) should be developed to be recognised as a bonafide language.Governments of India and Mauritius are going to sign a memorandum of understanding in this regard
46 Constituencies in UP to have Urdu Electoral Rolls for the First Time
i. The State Election Commission (SEC) of Uttar Pradesh has decided to include, for the first time, voter’s list printed in Urdu which was so far only printed in Hindi and English.
ii. In Uttar Pradesh about 46 constituencies in 22 districts will have voters’ list printed in Urdu as well as Hindi & English, where Assembly elections will be held in February 2017. But in case of a dispute, the Hindi version of the rolls will be held as valid.
iii. The state has at least 30 percent of Muslim voters mostly in Western UP who will be benefitted from this move. Well versed staff in Urdu would also be deployed at voting centres so that they could guide the voters and help them get the required information.
Jitendra Singh Announces Rs. 9000 Minimum Pension for Central government Employees
i. The Union Minister of state for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh while addressing the 29th meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (Scova) in New Delhi on January 12, 2017 informed that the minimum pension for central government employees has been increased to Rs. 9,000 per person and ex-gratia amount has been increased from Rs. 10-15 lakh to Rs. 25-35 lakh.
ii. The Scova meeting was organised by the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoP&PW).
iii. There are about 50-55 lakh pensioners in the country and almost 88% of pension accounts have been seeded to Aadhaar.
Kerala Launched its First Solar Powered Boat Aditya
i. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the first solar-powered boat of the state water transport department, “Aditya” on January 12, 2017 at a function held in Vaikom boat Jetty in Kerala.
ii. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State with independent charge for New & Renewable Energy, was the chief guest.
iii. The 75 seating capacity boat has been built by Kochi-based NavAlt Pvt Ltd. The construction of the Rs 1.50-crore boat took nearly two years and will do service between Vaikom and Thavanakkadavu.
iv. Before the launch the boat went trial run for a week. The boat is 20 metre long and 7 metre wide. It can travel at a speed of 14 km per hour and is less expensive while do not cause pollution.
v. Compared to ordinary boats that takes 15 minutes to reach Thavanakkadavu from Vaikom the solar boat will take only half that time.
vi.The state government seeks the Central financial assistance to roll out 10 more such passenger boats to replace the existing fleet of diesel boats with solar-powered ones.
Govt forms panel to look into Haj subsidy issue
i. The minority affairs ministry lead by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi formed a high-powered six-member committee on January 12, 2017 to look into whether giving subsidy has benefits to Hajj pilgrims.
ii. The decision has been taken in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022
iii. The committee will figure out whether the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less in the absence of such subsidy.
iv. Those who go through Hajj committee pay around 1.8 lakh and they go via Indian state carrier that charges around Rs 40-45,000 for ticket. Now those who go via private airlines pay around 3.5 lakh to begin with.
v. Minister Naqvi also announced setting up of five new minority educational institutions and the committee was supposed to finalise the modalities.
DEFCOM 2017 to be held in March 2017
i. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in association with Corps of Signals of Indian Army is organizing DEFCOM 2017 on March23-24, 2017.
ii. The theme of the 2017 DEFCOM is Digital Army Infrastructure and Skilled Human Resource.
iii. The objective of the conference is to harness planned aspect to develop a synergistic National Endeavour towards equipping Defence Forces for Net Centric Warfare.
iv .Many inspiring personalities from Indian Industry, Academia, R&D Organisations and Defence services will assemble to analyse critical aspects for development of Information, Communications, Technology, Electronics and Cyber (ICTEC) infrastructure to meet the requirements of India’s Digital Army.
Japan Pledges 1 Trillion Yen Aid Package to Philippines
i. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on January 13, 2017 signed a 1-trillion yen (8.7 billion dollars) aid package to the Philippines for the next five years to improve economic and political relations between the two island nations.
ii. The package is focused on infrastructure and energy. The move aims to utilize the Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines.
iii. The President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte also issued a statement claiming that Philippines and Japan would increase maritime and security cooperation.
iv. Abe’s was two-day visit to the Philipinnes which makes him the first foreign leader to visit since the election of the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016.
♦ Capital: Manila & Currency: Philippine peso
♦ Capital: Tokyo & Currency: Japanese yen
Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif Inaugurates Renovation of Katas Raj temple
i. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the renovation of the Katas Raj Hindu temple in Chakwal district in the Punjab Province of Pakistan on January 11, 2017 as a part of the policy to establish Pakistan’s identity as a minority-friendly country.
ii. The work includes installation of a water filtration plant in the Amrat Jal area.
iii. The Katas Raj temple is admired by Hindus across the globe as very sacred as it is believed that the foundation of the sacred site was laid by Lord Shiva.
iv. The temple was over 5,000 years old and had been the focal point of four civilisations. Al-Biruni, Persian scholar and polymath, had computed the earth’s circumference from here.
♦ Capital: Islamabad ♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee
♦ President: Mamnoon Hussain ♦ Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
Russia Amends Laws Permitting Long Term Spares Support to India
i. Russia has amended its laws permitting lot of their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to enter into long-term agreements for spares and support for military equipment supplied to India
ii. This will address long-standing concerns regarding import of equipment. Currently, procurement of spares is a long process as India cannot deal directly with the OEMs but with designated intermediaries like Rosoboronexport.
iii. The Russian Ministry is drawing up a list of the OEMs, which are related to the platforms which provides service to India. Once the ministry verifies OEMs supplying hardware to India are on the list, the two sides would enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
iv. India is also discussing the possibility of Russian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to allow licence-manufacture of spares locally by Indian vendors.
Russia Plans to Ban Cigarette Sale for Those Born After 2015
i. The Russian health ministry has announced plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2015 as a part of its effort to combat smoking from 2017 to 2022.
ii. With this move, Russia will become the first country in the world to completely phase out tobacco. The decision would go into effect in 2033, when the affected Russian citizens who are currently now babies, turn 18 years old.
iii. Russia’s legal smoking age is eighteen, so the law would ensure that those born in 2015 and later could never legally purchase cigarettes.
iv. The goal is to lower the country’s smoking rate to 25 percent by 2025, and to drive it down even further later.
♦ Capital: Moscow ♦ Currency: Russian ruble
♦ President: Vladimir Putin ♦ Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev
Global unemployment to rise by 3.4 m in 2017 Says ILO report
According to the ILO report ‘World Employment Social Outlook: Trends 2017‘, Global unemployment is expected to rise by 3.4 million in 2017 and economic growth at 3.4 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent in 2018
Issue : Economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs and predicts both rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017
Highlights of the report :
i. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are most affected by vulnerable employment while
in India, majority of new employment was created in 2016.
ii. Average global social unrest increased between 2015 and 2016.
iii. It is projected unemployment levels to rise by 450,000 in 2017 due to deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries – particularly those in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, unemployment is expected to fall in developed countries in Northern, Southern, and Western Europe, the United States, and Canada.
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Formation: 1919
♦ Head: Guy Ryder
BANKING & FINANCE
Airtel’s Payments Bank Starts Operation with Initial Investment of Rs. 3000
i. Airtel Payments Bank started its nationwide operations on January 12, 2017 with an initial investment of Rs 3,000 crore and offering an interest rate of 7.25 per cent for savings accounts. The bank was launched by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
ii. This is the first payments bank which will be opened across 29 states in India to provide financial services to the millions who are outside the banking system.
iii. The account can be opened by visiting retail outlets authorised for Airtel Payments Bank (APB) service where an individual will need to just share his or her Aadhaar number.
iv. Customers will be able to operate their accounts with the help of a mobile application, and withdraw and deposit money at authorised retail outlets.
v. The Payments Bank will offer the phone number itself as the account number and the customers can deposit up to Rs 1 lakh in their accounts.
Industrial production grows 5.7% in November 2016
According to the latest factory output and inflation data Index of Industrial Production (IIP)
released by the statistics office showed industrial production at a one-year high of 5.7% in November 2016.
About Other Sectors :
i. Consumer inflation fell in December 2016 to 3.41% and CPI inflation was marginally higher at 3.63% in November 2016.
ii. Manufacturing PMI(Purchasing Managers’ Index) for December 2016 had shown a contraction for the first time in 2016. The numbers also got a lift from the weak base of November 2015 that had a 3.4% contraction.
iii. Electricity generation registered the fastest growth at 8.9%
iv. Manufacturing output is increased by 5.5%
v. Mining production is raised by 3.9%
vi. Capital goods grew by a robust 15%
vii. Basic goods increased by 4.7% and
viii. Output of intermediate is raised by 2.7%
NTPC Signs MoU To Takeover Rajasthan’s Chhabra Thermal Power Plant
i. NTPC Ltd signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding on January 12, 2017 with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd in the presence of chief minister Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur to takeover of Chhabra Thermal Power Plant under asset-for-equity deal.
ii. As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), NTPC would take four operational units of 250-MW capacity each and two other under-construction units of 660 MW capacity each at Chhabara Thermal Power Plant.
iii. After transfer of Chhabra thermal power plant to NTPC, the state government will receive equity as per latest valuation, and the losses being incurred from Chhabra will stop after transfer of the plant and debt liabilities of the state government shall also be reduced.
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
♦ NTPC Limited is an Indian PSU Public Sector Undertaking, engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities.
♦ Founded: 1975
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi, India
♦ CEO: Gurdeep Singh
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
President Obama awards Joe Biden with the highest US civilian honour
i. President Barack Obama on January 12, 2017 presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest US civilian honour) to the Vice President of US Joe Biden. The vice-president had no idea that he will be getting the award and the award came as a surprise to him.
ii. The medal was awarded with distinction. This is an additional honour that has been given to only 4 people, including Pope John Paul II (4 including Biden.)
iii. Both Obama and Biden will leave the Office together on 20 January 2017, when the new elected President Donald Trump will become the official President of The US.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Rajesh Gopinathan appointed as Chief Executive Officer of TCS
i. International multinational information technology service, consulting and business solutions company Tata Consultancy Services(TCS) has been appointed Rajesh Gopinathan as Chief Executive Officer. He will replace N Chandrasekaran.
ii. TCS also appointed NG Subramaniam as Chief Operating Officer.
iii. Prior to this , Gopinathan served as CFO of the firm while Subramaniam was President of TCS Financial Solutions.
iv. Gopinathan joined TCS in 2001 from Tata Industries taking charging of TCS’ newly established e-business unit in the USA.
TCS CEO N. Chandrasekaran appointed Tata Sons chairman
i. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran as new chairman of Tata Son. He will take charge from February 21,2017.
ii. He is succeeded by Ratan Tata who was appointed as interim chairman of the company after removal of Cyrus Mistry from the board of director.
iii. Chandrasekaran, who joined TCS in 1987 and he had taken over as the CEO of TCS on October 6, 2009, before which he was chief operating officer and executive director at the company.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Guided Pinaka Rocket Successfully Test-Fired by India
i. India successfully test-fired the Guided Pinaka Rocket from Launch Complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) launch pad at Chandipur off coast Odisha.
ii. With the test-firing all the mission objectives were successfully met. All the radars, electro optical and telemetry systems at Chandipur tracked and monitored the weapon all through the flight path.
iii. The Guided Pinaka is a modified version of the Pinaka rocket mark-II which has evolved from Pinaka Mark-I. Pinaka rocket mark-II is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit. The modified version has considerably enhanced the strike range and accuracy of Pinaka.
iv. The Guided Pinaka is developed jointly by Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).
v. The rocket was fired from a Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL). The rocket launcher can fire 12 rockets with 1.2 tonne of high explosives within 44 seconds and destroy a target area of four sq km at a time.
Hope Island becomes graveyard for Olive Ridleys Turtles
i. Hope Island become graveyard for Olive Ridleys turtles after the wildlife wing of the Forest department have spotted 54 carcasses on the shores of Hope Island in just one month. So far 152 carcasses are spotted in Hope Island.
ii. This indicates that the breeding cycle of the endangered species has been dealt a severe blow this year by mechanised fishing boats.
iii. The Fisheries Department tried to encouage the mechanised boat owners to fit a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to their trawl nets to allow the animals to pass.
iv. The turtles, which are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, commence their journey from the Indian Ocean during their mating season in October and November.
v. When they reach the Bay of Bengal, the females lay eggs on the beaches.A female lays 100 to 150 eggs in a pit dug by it carefully and leaves the shore after covering the hollow with sand
♦ Hope Island is a small tadpole shaped Island situated off the coast of Kakinada, in Bay of Bengal.
♦ Hope Island protects the city of Kakinada from the strong storm surges coming from the Bay of Bengal. Hope Island acts as a sort of natural break water and provides tranquility to the ships anchored in Kakinada bay which makes Kakinada Port one of the safest natural ports in the Eastern Coast of India.
Delhi declared free from bird flu
i. Delhi has been declared free from H5N8 avian influenza commonly known as Bird Flu by the Animal Husbandry Department of the Delhi government on January 13, 2017
ii. This is declared after 2 consecutive samples collected at 15 days intervals as per the guidelines issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
iii. After this, The Delhi zoo opened for the public after 3 months.
Bird Flu :
♦ Bird flu or avian influenza( H5N1) is a viral infection that can also infect humans and other animals
♦ It occurs naturally in wild waterfowl and can spread into domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.
Indian Boxer Sarita to become Country’s First Female Professional Boxer
i. Asian games Bronze-Medallist boxer, Sarita Devi is set to become the first ever female boxer from India to step into the world of professional boxing.
ii .Former world champion Laishram Sarita Devi will make her professional debut against Zsofia Bedo of Hungary on January 29, 2017 fight night organized by the Indian Boxing Council at Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal.
iii. Sarita will become the first ever woman boxer from India to step into the world of professional boxing.
iv. The 31-year-old Sarita is training her skills under the guidance of American coach Joe Clough. The 73-year-old Clough has coached Evander Holyfield besides being a member of the Mohammad Ali’s coaching team.
Basketball player Satnam Singh trains with WWE
i. The Indian 7’2” basketball player Satnam Singh Bhamara has shown interest in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He visited one of the WWE’s Performance Centre facility at Orlando, Florida and participated in a training session alongside various other new recruits of WWE.
ii. Sunny Gill, the manager of Satnam Singh Bhamara said that Satnam was offered a role by WWE as they wanted a Hindi speaking contestant and also wanted to capture the Indian market.
iii. However Satnam Singh has declined the offer as he wants to play in the NBA. In 2015 Satnam Singh became the first Indian to get drafted by an NBA franchise.
iv. But there is still a possibility of developing a professional wrestling career once Satnam is done with playing NBA-level basketball.