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Current Affairs Today January 17 2018

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NITI Aayog initiates the first course on Sustainable Urban Planning in Noida
On January 15, 2018, Ratan P. Watal, Principal Adviser of NITI Aayog inaugurated the first Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN) course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur’s outreach centre at Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Information about GIAN course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and GIS:
i. This course is being conducted under the GIAN Program of Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and is actively supported by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and NITI Aayog.
ii. Under this course, participants will be given state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS skills which will be useful in managing the rapidly changing urban environment of Indian cities. Special emphasis will be laid on water resource management, strategic emplacements for water treatment facilities and water pollution.
iii. This course will be instrumental in developing trained manpower for Central Government’s Smart Cities Mission.
Quick Facts about NITI Aayog:
♦ Formed in – January 2015
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Ex-Officio Chairman – Prime Minister of India

Government ends Haj subsidy
On 16th January 2018, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union minister for minority affairs, announced that, the government has withdrawn the subsidy given for Haj pilgrims.Government ends Haj subsidyGovernment ends Haj subsidy:
i. This move has been made in line with the government’s idea to empower miniorities with dignity.
ii. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that for the first time in independent India, 1.75 lakh pilgrims will go to Haj without a subsidy.
iii .He said that, this would save the government Rs 700 crore. This amount would be used for education of minorities, especially girls.
iv. In May 2017, the central government had constituted a six-member committee to analyse the Haj subsidy matter.
v. In 2012, the Supreme Court insisted the central government to gradually reduce and stop the Haj subsidy by 2022.
About Haj Committee of India:
Chairman – Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser
Members – 23
Purpose – organises Islamic pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia

Government lowers additional borrowings to Rs 20,000 crore in FY18
On 17th January 2018, the government lowered the additional borrowing requirement for the current fiscal year to Rs 20,000 crore from the previously estimated Rs 50,000 crore.
Government lowers additional borrowings to Rs 20,000 crore in FY18:
i.The government has lowered additional borrowing requirements considering revenue receipts and expenditure pattern.
ii.The lesser borrowing will enable to constrict fiscal deficit within the target. No change will be seen in net borrowings as mentioned in the Budget for 2017-18.
iii.As per budget, gross and net market borrowings were set at Rs 5.8 lakh crore and Rs 4.23 lakh crore, respectively in 2017-18.
Headquarters of some public-sector banks:
Allahabad Bank – Kolkata
Andhra Bank – Hyderabad
Bank of Baroda – Vadodara
Bank of India – Mumbai

Supreme Court declares Khap Panchayat attacks over Inter-Caste Marriage as “Absolutely Illegal”
On 16th January 2018, the Supreme Court stated that, attacking any adult man or woman opting for inter-caste marriage, by khap panchayats is “absolutely illegal”.
Supreme Court declares Khap Panchayat attacks over Inter-Caste Marriage as “Absolutely Illegal”:
i. The bench consisted of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
ii. The Supreme Court also said that, no khap panchayat, individual or the society can interfere with any adult woman and man’s decision regarding their marriage.
iii. Khaps are caste or community based associations, mainly in the rural areas of north India that sometimes impose harsh punishments based on age-old traditions.
Chief Justices of some of the High Courts:
Rajasthan High Court – Pradeep Nandrajog
Sikkim High Court – Satish K. Agnihotri
Tripura High Court – Tinlianthang Vaiphei

Coast Guards of India, Japan organised joint naval exercise
8th edition of biennial ‘National Maritime Search and Rescue Workshop and Exercise’ between ships and aircraft from the Indian and Japanese Coast Guards commenced on January 16, 2018 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.Coast Guards of India, Japan organised joint naval exerciseHighlights of 8th edition of ‘National Maritime Search and Rescue Workshop and Exercise’:
i. During the course of this event, a workshop was held on January 16, 2018 and search and rescue operations was conducted on January 17, 2018 in Bay of Bengal.
ii. Ships and aircraft of Coast Guards from India and Japan, the Indian Navy and Air Force and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) participated in this event.
iii. Search and rescue operations were jointly reviewed by Indian Coast Guard Director General, Rajendra Singh and Japanese Commandant Admiral Satoshi Nakajima.
Quick Facts about Indian Coast Guard:
♦ Established in – 1978
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current Director General – Rajendra Singh

Centre sanctions Rs.10000 cr for network connectivity projects in North East
Central Government has sanctioned projects worth over Rs. 10000 crore in the North East for better network connectivity.
Information about network connectivity projects in North East:
i. Union Telecommunication Minister Manoj Sinha has stated that most of these projects will be completed during 2018.
ii. He also mentioned that 2 memorandum of understanding (MoUs) have been signed to cover the uncovered areas in the North East including areas in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
iii. Emphasis will be laid on upgrading the network connection in border areas.
iv. Central Government will also send two nodal officers to monitor the progress on these projects.

Karnataka Government to Engage Blockchain for Governance
Karnataka State Government will hold a ‘Blockchain Hackathon for Governance’ from 19th – 21st January, 2018 at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium, Bengaluru.
Exploring Blockchain for Governance – Karnataka:
i.The Hackathon will be open to students, startups, and other IT professionals. Cloud-based blockchain technology providers will be invited to provide platforms for use in this hackathon.
ii.Karnataka is the third Indian State (After Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) that has announced plans to adopt blockchain for governance.
iii.If required, Karnataka State Government will bring out a ‘Whitepaper on blockchain use in governance’ as a prelude to a policy on blockchain.
iv.In order to deliberate on various related issues, a ‘Blockchain Conclave’ under the aegis of Bengaluru Tech Summit will also be organised at a later stage.
Quick Facts about Karnataka:
♦ Capital – Bengaluru
♦ Current Chief Minister – Siddaramaiah
♦ Current Governor – Vajubhai Vala
♦ Important National Park – Bandipur National Park

Haryana to set up NBFC for efficient management of funds
On January 16, 2018, Haryana State Government took a decision to form a non-banking financial company (NBFC), Haryana State Financial Services Limited.Haryana to set up NBFC for efficient management of fundsNBFC for Haryana State Government:
i. This NBFC will function as an in-house treasury manager for Haryana State Government and will be responsible for efficient management of surplus funds of State public enterprises and autonomous bodies.
ii. The NBFC will provide better rates on overnight/yearly deposits of State government entities and would enable quick and hassle-free lending.
iii.It will function under the overall control and supervision of State’s General Administration Department
iv. It will be established as a limited company under the Companies Act and will be registered as NBFC with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
v. Authorised capital of this NBFC will be Rs.10 crore while the paid up capital will be Rs. 2 crore.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Important National Park – Sultanpur National Park

Gujarat to get largest accelerator for start-ups – “DevX”
Dev Information Technology Ltd has announced the setting up of “DevX”, an Accelerator Center for startups in Gujarat.
i. Entrepreneurs can develop, test and commercially release their ideas at DevX. DevX will be Gujarat’s largest accelerator.
ii. It will have co-working space of nearly 15,000-18,000 square feet at a single location. The main focus of DevX will be on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) etc.
iii. The first phase of DevX will be completed in May 2018. The full commissioning will be completed by December 2018.
iv. A startup can hire 1 to 100 seats in DevX for a period ranging from one month to one year.
Some National parks of Gujarat:
Gir Forest National Park – Somnath
Blackbuck National Park – Bhavnagar
Marine National Park – DevBhoomi Dwarka
Vansda National Park – Navsari

Defence Acquisition Council clears procurement of assault rifles & carbines
On January 16, 2018, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Union Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, cleared procurement of 72400 assault rifles and 93895 carbines to meet their immediate requirement of Defence Forces deployed in border areas.
Details related to Procurement of Assault Rifles and Carbines:
i.This fast track procurement will be done at a cost of Rs 3547 crore.
ii.In a bid to give a boost to ‘Make in India’ programme and to encourage participation of private sector in defence design and production, DAC has simplified the ‘Make II’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure.
iii.As per the revised procedure, Ministry of Defence will now accept suo-motu proposals from the industry. Start-ups have also been allowed to develop equipment for Indian Armed Forces.
iv.Besides, qualification criteria to participate in ‘Make II’ projects has also been relaxed by reducing minimum financial net worth requirement and removing the conditions related to credit rating.


World Economic Forum (WEF) releases Global Risks Report
As per World Economic Forums’s (WEF’s) Global Risks Report 2018, published on January 17, 2018, extreme weather events and natural disasters have been identified as the likeliest global risks to occur in 2018.World Economic Forum (WEF) releases Global Risks ReportHighlights of Global Risks Report 2018:
i.The report is based on a survey, in which views of 1000 global experts and decision-makers were sought, on the most significant risks that face the world.
ii.In this context, risks pertain to diverse categories of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological nature. In the survey, the experts were asked to prioritize 30 global risks in terms of two dimensions viz. likelihood and impact
iii.On both the dimensions, five environmental risks viz. extreme weather; major natural disasters; biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; man-made environmental disasters; and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation were accorded highest weightage.
iv.The top-ranking global risk on dimension of impact was the use of weapons of mass destruction while on dimension of likelihood, extreme weather events ranked top.
Quick Facts about World Economic Forum (WEF):
♦ Formed in – 1971
♦ Headquarters – Cologny, Switzerland
♦ Current Executive Chairman – Klaus Schwab

China builds ‘world’s biggest air purifier’ in Xian
China has set up an experimental air purifying tower, considered the world’s biggest air purifier at a height of 100 meters (328 feet), in Xian, Shaanxi province.
China – world’s biggest air purifier:
i.The Xian smog tower is being tested by researchers of the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
ii.The tower produces 10 million cubic metres of clean air every day. The tower has reduced smog to moderate levels even when air quality was severe.
iii.Polluted air is sucked into the glasshouses of the Xian smog tower. It is heated by solar energy. The hot air passes through several cleaning filters and this reduces air pollution.
About Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS):
Headquarters – Beijing
President – Bai Chunli
Formed – 1949


All 14 types of Rs 10 coin valid, legal tender: RBI
On January 17, 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stated that all the 14 designs of Rs 10 coin are valid and legal tender for transactions.All 14 types of Rs 10 coin valid, legal tender: RBIClarification on Rs. 10 coins:
i.RBI had to issue this clarification as it was observed that some traders and members of public were reluctant to accept Rs. 10 coins owing to a doubt about it genuineness.
ii.RBI stated that till date, it has issued Rs 10 coin in 14 designs and these coins are legal tender and can be accepted for transactions.
iii.It further clarified that different designs, introduced from time to time have distinctive features to reflect various themes of economic, social and cultural values.


Microsoft tops Thomson Reuters top 100 global tech leaders list
On January 16, 2018, Thomson Reuters Corp published its debut “Top 100 Global Technology Leaders” list.This list identifies tech industry’s top financially successful and organizationally sound organizations……………………………………..Click here to Read more

RankCompany NameHeadquarters
1MicrosoftWashington, US
2Intel CorpCalifornia, US
3Cisco Systems IncCalifornia, US
4Apple IncCalifornia, US
5Alphabet IncCalifornia, US

Centre, CII ink MoU for development of logistics sector
On January 16, 2018, Department of Commerce (under Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to undertake integrated development of the India’s logistics sector.
Details about MoU signed with CII:
i.Central Government believes that improving logistics will not only improve ways of doing business but will also create numerous job opportunities.
ii.The MoU pertains to development of domestic logistics as well as export-import logistics.
iii.Union Commerce Ministry has prepared a roadmap for modernizing India’s logistics sector and to bring it at par with the best  the world.
iv.The target is to reduce the logistics cost from current 14 percent of GDP to less than 10 percent by 2022.
Quick Facts about CII:
♦ Formed in – 1985
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Current President – Shobana Kamineni

TCS signs $690 million deal with M&G Prudential
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has signed a $690 million contract for 10 years with M&G Prudential, to support more than 4 million customer policies.TCS signs $690 million deal with M&G PrudentialTCS signs $690 million deal with M&G Prudential:
i.This is the second insurance company deal TCS has signed in 2018. Recently TCS signed a deal with Transamerica, a US insurance firm.
ii. M&G Prudential is a UK and European savings and investments business unit of Prudential Plc.
iii. TCS will use its insurance platform BaNCS to process insurance policies. M&G Prudential and Transamerica’s existing platforms will be transformed to new digital platform by TCS.
About M&G Investments:
CEO – Anne Richards
Founded – 1931

RCom unveiled “cloud and fiber initiative” to lay 68K-km submarine data cable
On January 16, 2018, Reliance Communications (RCom) unveiled Eagle express submarine cable system to lay a 68000-km undersea cable for carrying data across Europe and Asia.
About RCom’s Eagle Express Submarine Cable:
i.Eagle express submarine cable is a “cloud and fiber initiative” which will be laid at a cost of $600 million.
ii.This submarine cable system will connect its base in India with Italy to the west and Hong Kong on the east. It envisages creating a NextGeneration IP and Cloud environment covering Middle East, Europe as well as the large economies of India, China and Indonesia.
iii.RCom officials are forecasting the revenue potential of this system to be $1 billion per year. It is expected to be operational by 2020.
iv.This project will be financed by several partners. Six partners, including Alibaba have already committed $300 million for this system.
Quick Facts about Reliance Communications:
♦ Founded in – 2002
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Chairman – Anil Ambani


UK appoints Tracey Crouch as ‘minister for loneliness’
On 17th January 2018, Tracey Crouch was appointed as UK’s first-ever minister in charge to tackle loneliness and combat social isolation.UK appoints Tracey Crouch as 'minister for loneliness'Tracey Crouch – ‘minister for loneliness’ in UK:
i. Tracey Crouch is at present the minister for sport and civil society in UK. She has been given the additional role of ‘minister for loneliness’.
ii. This role has been created in memory of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016. This role will implement recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
iii. The minister for loneliness will work with the Jo Cox Commission, businesses and charities to form a strategy to combat loneliness.
About Tracey Crouch:
Age – 42
Nationality – British
Political party – Conservative

S Selvakumar appointed CMD of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL)
On 16th January 2018, S Selvakumar was appointed as the Chairman and Manging Director (CMD) of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL).
S Selvakumar – CMD of SPMCIL:
i. S Selvakumar is a senior IAS officer. He is Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance.
ii. He has been given the additional charge of Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) in SPMCIL. He replaces Anurag Agarwal.
iii. SPMCIL produces bank notes, coins, postage stamps, non-judicial stamps, other official documents etc.
Paper Mills of SPMCIL:
Security Paper Mill – Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh
Bank note paper mill India private limited – Mysore, Karnataka


China inducts 26th type 054A Guided-Missile Stealth Frigate into service
On January 12, 2018, Chinese Navy inducted a new 4000-ton Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate into service.China inducts 26th type 054A Guided-Missile Stealth Frigate into serviceDetails about Chinese Navy’s new Guided-Missile Stealth Frigate:
i.This frigate has been christened Rizhao. It was commissioned at a naval shipyard in China’s Liaoning Province.
ii.Rizhao, which has been built at the Guangzhou Huangpu Shipyard in Guangdong Province is the 26th ship of the class to enter service.
iii.Estimated cost of each frigate in this series is around $348 million.
iv.Type 054A Jiangkai II-class frigates are multirole warships and can attain top speed of around 27 knots.
v.Frigates of these series have been used by Chinese Navy for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and for conducting patrols in the South China Sea.
Quick Facts about China:
♦ Capital – Beijing
♦ Currency – Renminbi
♦ Current President – Xi Jinping
♦ Important Rivers – Yangtze, Yellow River


World’s fifth largest diamond discovered in Lesotho
A 910-carat gem diamond, considered to be the fifth largest gem-quality diamond ever found has been discovered in a Lesotho mine.
Information related to discovery of World’s fifth largest diamond:
i.This diamond has been found from  Letseng diamond mine, owned by Gem Diamonds Ltd., a UK-based mining company.
ii.Gem Diamonds has stated that, this diamond is the largest one discovered from Letseng mine and belongs to a category that represents less than 1% of all mined diamonds in the world. It is more valuable as it is colourless.
iii.Mining analysts have speculated that this diamond could be worth as much as $40 million.
Quick Facts about Lesotho:
♦ Capital – Maseru
♦ Currency – Lesotho loti
♦ Current Prime Minister – Tom Thabane
♦ Important Rivers – Malibamat’so, Caledon


Brazil legend Ronaldinho retires from football
Ronaldinho, Brazilian World Cup winner has retired from football.Brazil legend Ronaldinho retires from footballRetirement of Ronaldinho:
i. Ronaldinho is 37 years old. He is a winner of the Champions League and Ballon d’Or awards.
ii. He was an attacking midfielder, winger and forward. His first performance was with team Gremio. He joined Barcelona team in 2003.
iii. Ronaldinho faced a downfall during his tenure at Barcelona. He was sold to Milan team. His last professional performance was for Brazil’s Fluminense in 2015.
About FC Barcelona:
President – Josep Maria Bartomeu
Coach – Ernesto Valverde


Renowned cinematographer W B Rao passes away
On 16th January 2018, W.B. Rao, Hindi film cinematographer passed away, after he was admitted in a serious condition to a hospital in Juhu, Mumbai.Renowned cinematographer W B Rao passes awayDeath of W B Rao:i. W B Rao started his career with Indian cinema in 1960s as an assistant cinematographer. He held a senior position at the Western Indian Cinematographer’s Association (WICA).
ii. His important works are ‘Hum’, ‘Khuda Gawah’, ‘Dhadkan’, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Judwaa’, ‘Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega’, ‘Afsana Pyar Ka’, ‘Barsaat Ki Raat’, ‘Insaaf’, and ‘Jurrat’.
About Western India Cinematographers Association (WICA):
Founded – 1955
Members – 3800
Key people – Anil Mehta