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Current Affairs Today – January 15 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Expert Group on SECC submits report to Ministry of Rural Development
i. An Expert Group Committee under the Chairmanship of former Finance Secretary Shri Sumit Bose presented its report on the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) to the Minister of Rural Development, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar on January 13, 2017 for better planning and identification of beneficiaries and for generating priority list of beneficiaries under its programmes.
ii. The Expert Group report would help the Ministry to make inter –state allocation based on SECC data to cover households under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAG) and Deendayal Antyodaya YojanaNational Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).
iii. The committee was formed by the ministry to study the objective criteria for allocation of resources to States and identification and prioritization of beneficiaries under various programme using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data.
iv. However, the Expert Group observed that regular updation and verification of SECC data is prerequisite for better decision of allocation in the long run

Annual Two day Camel Festival Held in Bikaner
i. The annual camel festival was held in Bikaner, Rajasthan from January 14-January 15, Camel Festival2017 in the presence of domestic as well as foreign tourists.
ii. The two-day festival was organised by the Rajasthan Tourism Department and the Bikaner district administration. The District Collector, Ved Prakash flagged off a procession from Junagarh which ended at Karni Singh Stadium in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
iii. The inaugural ceremony was marked by the performance of the Army band. The festival saw many fun activities including camel safaris, camel dance, milking and fur cutting design competitions and camel races.

Madhya Pradesh Launches Digital Dakiya Scheme For Digital Literacy
i. Madhya Pradesh government inaugurated a first of its kind scheme of the country, “Digital Dakiya” in Indore on January 14, 2017 to encourage cashless transaction in the state.
ii .Under the scheme, a Digital Postman referred as Digital Dakiya would visit door to door in both urban and rural areas to train households specially women and elderly people about digitized transactions.
iii. The scheme was inaugurated by the State Finance Minister Jayant Malliya. State government will provide Identity cards to the volunteers deployed in this programme.

BSF launches operation ‘Sard Hawa’ at Rajasthan border
i. Border Security Force (BSF) has launched its 14 day operation Sard Hawa at the western international border of Rajasthan on January 15, 2017 to check the instances of infilteration due to the dense fog in the area.
ii. Aim: To keep a hawks eye on the international border, where vigil has been beefed-up and officers have also been asked to be part of operation to motivate jawans.
iii. The operation will end on January 28, 2017.
Border Security Force (BSF) :
♦ The Border Security Force (BSF)  is the primary Border guarding force of India. It is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India.
♦ Headquarters New Delhi
♦ Minister responsible : Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs
♦ Formed 1 December, 1965

2017 National conference “Jal Manthan-III” held in New Delhi
i. The third National conference  Jal Manthan-III”  was inaugurated by Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti in New Delhi.
ii. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
Discussions :
♦ Discussions on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, River Basin Management, River Rejuvenation and Ecology, Flood management, Water use efficiency and Participatory irrigation management held as a part of the conference.
♦ 700 participants comprising Union Ministers of related Ministries/Departments, Chief Ministers of some States/Union Territories, Irrigation/ Water Resources Ministers of States/UTs, eminent experts in water sector, representatives of NGOs and senior officers of the Central and State Governments  attended the event.

First Edition of ABU International Television Dance Festival Held in Hyderabad
i. The first edition of the ABU International Television Dance Festival (AIDF) organized by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) was held in Hyderabad from January 13 to January 15, 2017.
ii. Objective: To create a bridge between young people from different parts of the world First Edition of ABU International Television Dance Festivalthrough dance.
iii. The event showcased the traditional and contemporary dance performances by artistes from over 10 counties across the Asia-Pacific region.
iv. The festival was inaugurated by the Union Information & Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu while the Chief Minister of Telangana, K. Chandrashekar Rao was the guest of honour.
v. The first edition of the mega event was hosted by the Indian Public Service Broadcaster, Prasar Bharti.
vi. Dancers between the age group of 18-25 years from various countries like Maldives, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Fiji, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, India and Indonesia performed in the event.
About Asia- Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)
♦ Asia- Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) was established in 1964 as a non-profit, non-government, professional association to assist the development of broadcasting in the region.
♦ ABU International Television Dance Festival is conceptualized so as to bring the cultural diversities from across the world into limelight, by breaking cultural barriers.

Rabi Crop Sown Across 616 Lakh Hectare of Land Past One Year
i. As per the data released by the Ministry of agriculture, as on January 13, 2017, the total area under which Rabi crop was sown 2017 was calculated to be 616.21 lakh hectares as compared to 581.95 lakh hectare in January 2016.
ii. The 616.21 lakh hectare of area sown with Rabi crop includes

Crop Area in 2017 in Lakh Hectare Area in 2016 in Lakh  Hectare
Wheat 309.60 289.07
Rice 14.92 19.48
Pulses 155.35 139.93
Coarse cereals 54.87 58.40
Oilseeds 81.47 75.06
Total 616.21 581.95

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

US Ends Two-Decade Economic Sanction on Sudan
i. The US President Barack Obama on January 13, 2017 announced to end of a 20-year economic embargo on Sudan by lifting trade and financial sanctions to build up ties with the Sudanese government.
ii. The announcement was made based on the efforts by the Government of Sudan to improve the security in the region. However the lifting of the sanctions will be delayed by 180 days to encourage Sudan to take further actions on improving human rights, resolving political divisions and military conflicts.
iii. This will enable Sudan to receive imported goods and services from the US as well as also Sudanrelease frozen Sudanese property and assets held in the US besides permitting the trade with the oil and gas industry in Sudan.
Sudan
♦ Capital: Khartoum
♦ Currency: Sudanese pound
♦ President: Omar al-Bashir

BANKING & FINANCE

SEBI Lowers Broker Fees by 25 Percent to Rs 15 Per Transaction
i. The SEBI Board on January 14, 2017 announced its decision to reduce the fees payable by broker by 25 percent as a part of calibration of various other fees collected by the regulator from different market intermediaries.
ii. It has decided to lower the fees from Rs 20 per crore of turnover to Rs 15 per crore of turnover to reduce the overall cost of transaction.
iii. The SEBI Board has also decided to give an option to all market intermediaries and companies to make their regulatory payments in digital mode to help in speedy and easy transactions and reduce failures due to payment gateway issues.
iv. Besides, the board has also approved a proposal to levy certain new charges, including filing fee for draft scheme of arrangements and processing fee on application for relaxation in certain regulations.
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
♦ The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India.
♦ Formed: 12 April 1992
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairman: U K Sinha

NPCI declares Rs 54.90 crore prize money for NITI Aayog’s lucky draw schemes
i. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has declared Rs 54.90 crore prize money to over 3.42 lakh winners for NITI Aayog’s lucky draw schemes Lucky Grahak Yojna (LGY) and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojna (DVY).
ii. There are 15,000 daily winners qualifying for total prize money of Rs. 1.5 crore and over 14,000 weekly winners qualifying for total prize money of over Rs. 8.3 crore every week. It will run till April 14, 2017
iii. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka emerged as the top five states with maximum number of winners under the age group of 21 to 30 years.
NPCI:
♦ National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
♦ Chairman: Balachandran M
♦ Headquarters‎: ‎Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Founded‎: ‎2008

BSNL Launches Aadhar Based e-KYC Project
i .BSNL has launched its Customer Acquisition and Customer Communication Management (CACMS) project that aims to digitalize business process to ensure faster service, accurate customer responses and customer satisfaction.
ii. The project provides an Aadhar based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) service for immediate activation of new mobile connections across the country.
iii. The state-run telecom has selected Intense Technologies to deliver the CACMS project on a Pan India basis for all lines of business of BSNL as per the terms and conditions of the tender.
iv. Under the project the customers will have the convenience of Aadhar based fast and efficient utilization of services by BSNL. Foreign national with e-visa  can also use the facility very quickly. The new service will enable greater efficiency in complying with TRAI regulations, enhanced customer experience and reduce costs.
v. The scope of the CACMS project includes the launch of pan India rollout of trans-promotional communications, loyalty management and contextual digital marketing to ensure seamless customer experience.
vi. CACMS project will help BSNL build competitive advantage by delivering superior customer experience to win customer loyalty.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)
♦ Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is an Indian state-owned telecommunications company. BSNL is one of the largest & leading public sector units providing comprehensive range of telecom services in India.
♦ CEO: Shri Anupam Shrivastava
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Founded: 15 September 2000

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

62nd Filmfare Award 2017 Winner list
i. The 62nd Filmfare Awards ceremony was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra on January 14, 2017. The show was co-hosted by Kapil Sharma, Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan.
ii. This year Shatrughan Sinha received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award presented by his daughter and actress Sonakshi Sinha. Shatrughan Sinha completed close to five decades in the film industry.
2017 List of Winners

Award Winner
Best Film Dangal
Best Director Nitesh Tiwari for Dangal
Best Actor (Male) Aamir Khan for Dangal
Best Actor (Female) Alia Bhatt for Udta Punjab

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Vehicle launches 10 satellites into Orbit
i. The American rocket manufacturing company SpaceX launched 10 satellites into orbit on a two stage Falcon 9 Rocket on January 14, 2017 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast. The satellites were a part of the NEXT Mission of the communications company Iridium.
ii. The rocket took off at 9:54 AM local time and after few minutes the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on a platform in the Pacific Ocean while 75 minutes after launch the mission was complete with the Iridium payload safely in orbit.
iii .This was SpaceX’s first flight after four months, when one of its one of its Falcon 9 vehicles exploded on a Florida launchpad in Cape Canaveral in September 2016 destroying $ 200 million Amos-6 communications satellite.
iv. Before the flight, SpaceX conducted a static fire test of the Falcon 9 vehicle on January 5, 2017 and the company finally received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch and land its Falcon 9 vehicle for the upcoming mission.
v. The FAA launch license gives SpaceX permission to launch the next seven rockets for the Iridium NEXT mission which aims to put 70 satellites into orbit for Iridium.

App named ‘SEZ India’ launched by Commerce Ministry 
i. The Commerce Secretary has launched a  mobile app named ‘SEZ India‘ for Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
ii. SEZ India app will be used for SEZ Developers & Units transactions and track the status.
iii. The app is available on Android Platform and it has 4 sections.
1.SEZ Information: This section will contain the information about the SEZ Act, 2005, SEZ SEZ India'Rules, 2006, MOCI Circulars, details of SEZs and Units etc
 2.Trade Information: This section will gives access to important information / tools such as Foreign Trade Policy, Hand Book of procedure , Duty Calculator , Customs & Excise Notification and MEIS Rates.
3.Contact Details: This section will contain the contact details of all Development Commissioners Office, DGFT, DG System, DGCI & S and SEZ online.
4.SEZ Online Transaction: This is a dynamic submenu that tracks the Bill of Entry / Shipping Bill processing status and also does verification. The app also helps the Importers / Exporters to track the status of ‘Bill of Entry / Shipping Bill” integration and processing in the EDI system of the ICEGATE.
Keys:
♦ First Minister of Commerce and Industry : Syama Prasad Mukherjee.
♦ Current Minister of Commerce and Industry : Nirmala Sitharaman

Tamil Nadu Gov launched mobile app ‘pinakin’ for Tourism
i. Tamil Nadu government lead by O.Panneerselvam has launched a mobile application ‘Pinakin‘ to provide information of famous destinations in Tamil Nadu.
ii. The app will provide information on world heritage tourist spots like Mammalapuram, the Big Temple in, Thanjavur and Gangai Konda Cholapuram and soon it will include other places in the state.
iii. The application compatible for both Android and iOS devices.
Heritage sites in Tamil Nadu :
♦ Airavateshwarar Temple at Darasuram, Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur and Mahabalipuram

ENVIRONMENT

Study Finds Indian Spice Long Pepper Useful in Fighting Cancer
According to a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers have discovered that the widely used Indian spice named Long Pepper has the potential to be used as a cancer treatment drug.
ii.The Indian long pepper contains a chemical called Piperlongumine (PL) that could stop the body from producing an enzyme that is commonly found in tumors in large numbers.
iii. It can be used for curing many cancers including prostate, breast, lung, colon, lymphoma, leukemia, primary brain tumors and gastric cancer.
iv .The scientists from the UT Southwestern Medical Center used x-ray crystallography to create molecular structures and study how the chemical is transformed after being ingested.
v. The study showed that PL converts to hPL which is an active drug that silences a gene called GSTP1 which produces a detoxification enzyme that is found abundantly in tumors

SPORTS

Tanzania’s Simbu & Kenya’s Kitur wins Mumbai Marathon 2017
Mumbai Marathon 2017i. The 14th Standard Chartered  Mumbai Marathon took place on January 15, 2017. The full marathon was flagged off from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in South Mumbai at 7.20 AM by a host of dignitaries.
ii. Alphonce Simbu of Tanzania took 02:09:32 time to clinch first position in men’s elite category while Kenya’s Bornes Kitur won the women’s title by completing the distance in 02:29:02.

Men’s elite category

Name Timing Country
Alphonce Simbu 02:09:32 Tanzania
Joshua Kirkorir 02:09:50 Kenya
Eliud Barbgetuny 02:10:39 Kenya

Women’s Elite Category

Name Timing Country
Bornes Kitur 02:29:02 Kenya
Chaltu Tafa 2:33:03 Ethiopia
Tigist Girma 02:33:19 Ethiopia


iii .Among the Indian Men, Kheta Ram stood first by finishing the race in 2:19:51. Bahadur Singh came second with a time of 2:19:57 while T H Sanjith Luwang was third in 2:21:19.
iv. Among Indian women, Maharashtra’s Jyoti Gawte finished at first place with a timing of 02:50:53 while Shyamli Singh from West Bengal was second with a timing of 3:08:41 while Jigmet Dolma from Leh-Ladakh was third finishing in 3:14:38.

OBITUARY

Renowned Author and Director of “The Exorcist” William Peter Blatty dies aged 89
i. American author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty best known for writing The Exorcist, died on January 12, 2017. He was 89.
ii. Blatty died of multiple myeloma at a hospital in Bethesda, five days after his 89th birthday.
iii. Born in New York City, he worked as a door to door salesman in the 1950s before entering into writing just before 1960. Blatty won Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Exorcist and thereafter he wrote and directed the second sequel The Exorcist III.
iv .Some of his other notable works are the novels: Elsewhere (2009), Dimiter (2010) and Crazy (2010).

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Autobiography of Veteren actor Rishi Kapoor Released
i. The autobiography of the veteran Indian actor Rishi Kapoor titled “Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored” was released on January 15, 2017.
ii. The title of the autobiography has been borrowed from one of his famous songs “Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge Hum Dono”.
iii .Rishi Kapoor has written this ‘uncensored’ book along with Meena Iyer and the title is Autobiographypublished under Harper Collins. The 64 year old actor who is known for his utmost honesty in the real as well as virtual world said that the book features everything straight from his heart.
iv. The book incredibly sketches his life and career. The book features everything that a true fan would want to know. From being a child actor in Mera Naam Joker (1970) to a naughty old man in Kapoor & Sons (2016), Rishi Kapoor has played numerous versatile characters on screen.

IMPORTANT DAYS

69th Army Day Celebrated on January 15, 2017
i. The Indian Army celebrated its 69th Army Day on January 15, 2017. The day is celebrated every year on January 15 to respect the Lieutenant General of India, K. M. Cariappa (Kodandera Madappa Cariappa) who was the first Indian Army’s Commander-in-Chief.
ii. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 15th  saluted the courage and invaluable service of the soldiers and officers. Large number of serving, veteran and civil dignitaries paid homage to martyrs at the Vijay Smarak
iii. The great soldier Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad’s wife Mahadevi Ashok Bilebal received the medal from Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat at Army Day parade in New Delhi.