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Current Affairs Today – January 21 2017

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Centre Approves Ordinance to Allow Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu
i. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, O. Paneerselvam has send a draft ordinance to the centre seeking an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and removal of “bull” from the list of “performing” animals. This will ensure that provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will not apply to the bull.
ii. Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 19, 2017 to seek help over the Jallikattu issue.
iii. Further, the Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao approved the ordinance by the state government on January 21, 2017 with the first Jallikattu game post the protest to be conducted in Alanganallur, Madurai on January 22, 2017.

AYUSH, ASCI sign MoU to co-regulate advertisements in AYUSH sector
i. Ministry of AYUSH has signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to curtail malpractices in the advertisement of AYUSH drugs in New Delhi on January 20, 2017
ii. The agreement was signed by Dr.Dinesh Chan Katoch ,  Advisor (Ayurveda), Ministry of AYUSH and  Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman of ASCI .
iii. According to the MoU,  ASCI will report to the Ministry of AYUSH, all advertisements in potential violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and Rules under as well as non-compliance of ASCI’s CCC recommendations for the Ministry of AYUSH to take further action.

First Strategic Dialogue Between India UAE held in New Delhi
i. India and UAE held the first meeting of their strategic dialogue on January 20, 2017 in New Delhi in an attempt to finalise the cooperation agreement.
ii. It was the first meeting since the decision taken by the two countries to elevate their relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the exchange of the visits at the highest level between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August 2015 and February 2016 respectively.

iii. The meeting was co-chaired by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar and MoS in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of UAE Anwar Gargash.
iv. The main area of discussion during the meeting included cooperation in the areas of trade and investments, expanding the bilateral cooperation to new areas under the strategic India & UAEpartnership, energy security and renewable energy, defence and security, electronics and information technology and space.
♦ Capital: Abu Dhabi
♦ Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham
♦ President: Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Bihar Government Launches ‘Nasha Mukt’ State Campaign
i. The state Government of Bihar led by Nitish Kumar launched a ‘Nasha Mukt’ (Addidction-Free) State Campaign on January 21, 2017 with the formation of world’s largest human chain across the state.
ii. The move aims towards making the state free from intoxicating substance and tobacco products.
iii. Over two crore people participated in human chain including teachers and students of schools and colleges. The human chain that lasted for 45 minutes and was 11,292 km in length covering all panchyats and blocks of the state.
iv. Satellite, drones and low flying aircraft were deployed for taking images of the human chain.
v. Earlier, Bangladesh made the record of creating 1050 km of human chain for similar act.

India Innovation Index will Measure Innovation Performance of Indian States
i. Government of India Think Tank NITI Aayog together with International bodies World Economic Forum, World Intellectual Property Organization and the Cornell University will develop an India Innovation Index to rank the Indian states so as to develop an innovative spirit among them.
ii. The index will measure and rank the innovation performance of all Indian states and hence drive India towards an innovation-driven economy.
iii. The Index would encourage the states to compete with each other and in turn lead to better policies for inclusive growth. The first ranking is expected to be released at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi on October 4-6, 2017.
iv. For the development of the Index, each partnering organisation will nominate a working group member to work on the index.
v. The index will be based on key pillars of innovation such as strength of institutions, capacity of human capital and research, supporting infrastructure and the level of business sophistication among others and sub-indices that together will assist in framing policies to promote inclusive growth.

Govt. of Jharkhand Signs Joint Venture Agreement with the Ministry of Railways
i. The Indian Railways signed a joint venture agreement with the state government of Jharkhand on January 20, 2017 for the development of railway infrastructure in the State.
ii. Aim: The JV agreement would enable to provide active representation to States in the Indian Railways on the way to Digitalization Launched 3 IT enabled projectsPlanning and Implementation of Railway Infrastructure Projects, take up railway project on state’s priority basis and generate more financial resources through participation of State & other stakeholders in the project specific subsidiaries.
iii. Initially the Jharkhand government would take up 3 projects including Namkum-Kandra, Giridih-Parasnath-Madhuban, Tori-Chatra Rail Line covering a length of 222 km at a cost of Rs. 2150 Crore.
iv. The Jharkhand government will hold 51% equity in the JV agreement. It is the 9th State to form a Joint Venture Company with the Ministry of Railways. Earlier Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have already signed JV agreement with Ministry of Railways.

Indian Railways Set to Raise $5 billion Railway Development Fund
i. The Indian Railways has decided to set up a $5 billion Railways of India Development Fund (RIDF) so as to support commercially viable projects in railway sector in India.
ii. The World Bank would fund 80% RIDF while 20% fund would be raised by the Indian railways itself and managed independently by a non-government entity.
iii. Projects which can give early returns such as freight lines and electrification projects would be funded by the RIDF.
iv. The national transporter hopes to set up this fund by the end of the first quarter of the 2018.


Union Cabinet approves Excluding States /Union Terrotries from Investments of National Small Savings Fund
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval on January 18, 2017 to exclude States/Union-Territories (with Legislature) except Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments effective from April 1, 2016.
ii. Besides, it also approved to provide a one-time loan of Rs. 45,000 crore to Food Corporation of India (FCI) from NSSF to meet its food subsidy requirements.
iii. After the states are excluded from NSSF investments the availability of the investible funds of NSSF with the Government will increase. This will ultimately reduce Government’s market borrowing.
iv. The reduction of FCI’s borrowing cost will lead to an increase in Government’s savings on the Food Subsidy Bill.

Kerala Gramin Bank to propagate financial literacy among school children
i. Kerala Gramin Bank has launched a novel programme called FI@School at Assisi Vidyanikethan Public School, Kakkanad to propagate financial literacy among school children on January 20, 2017
ii. Every branch of the bank has to tie up with nearest school to organise various programmes to literate school students
iii. The bank has appointed magician Gopinath Muthukad as the brand ambassador for Kerala Gramin BankFI@School.
Kerala Gramin Bank
♦ Kerala Gramin Bank is India’s largest Regional Rural Bank (RRB).The bank is jointly owned by Central and State Governments & sponsored by Canara Bank
♦ Chairman: Shaji K.V
♦ Headquarters: Malappuram, Kerala

GST Decides Tax Evasion Upto rs. 2 Cr Bailable Offence
i. The Centre and State Government has in a meeting decided to reduce some of the penal provisions of the GST regime in order to make it less burdensome.
ii. The GST Council has decided that tax evasion of upto than Rs. 2 crore would be bailable offense to ensure that the trader gets immediate bail while the non-bailable offenses would be limited to ‘forgery and non- deposit of collected taxes with the exchequer within the stipulated time frame.
iii. Current tax evasion upto Rs 1 crore used to be bailable offense. Besides, under IPC 1860, forgery and cheating are non-bailable offense and bail can only be granted by the Court.
iv. Provisions against some minor offences has also been relaxed like availing of wrong input tax credit or refund and failure to furnish documents will not lead to arrest but may attract only financial penalty.
v. In case of service tax there is a provision of arrest for non-deposit of the tax beyond Rs 50 lakh with the government.

Cooperative Banks Barred From Accepting Deposits under PMGKDS
i. The Cooperative banks have been barred by the Government on January 20, 2017 from accepting deposits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme (PMGKDS) to stop any misuse of the deposited amount.
ii. The decision comes after the income tax department revealed that a large number of cooperative banks were manipulating and laundering undisclosed money after the government scrapped the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes on November 8, 2016.
iii. Now such deposits would be accepted by any banking company other than Co-operative Banks registered under Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
iv. Besides, the authorised banks will have to electronically furnish the details of deposit to the Revenue Department on the next working day for the information verification of the deposit before accepting the declaration under the PMGKY.


Flipkart Ranked Top E-Commerce Firm in Indian E-tailing Leadership Index
The Electronic commerce company Flipkart has been ranked at the top position in the Flipkart to sell cars and bikes onlinenationwide consumer study titled ‘The Indian E-tailing Leadership Index’ conducted by research firm Red Seer Consulting.
♦ This is the fourth consecutive year that Filpkart has retained its position as the most trusted e-commerce brand. It scored highest among all e-commerce platforms in India in areas like product selection, customer support, ease of return, refund and reverse pick up speed and speed of delivery.
About E-tailing Leadership Index (ELI)
i. The E-tailing Leadership Index (ELI) conducts a survey to assess how consumers in India view and interact with e-tailing brands.
ii.The study findings were based on 7500 consumer interviews across 30 Indian cities on several parameters including brand recall and trust, value, product variety and availability, ease of return, web and app experience, price competitiveness, delivery, overall NPS etc.
♦ CEO: Binny Bansal
♦ Founders: Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru

FreeCharge Launches Mutual Funds Platform in Partnership with Reliance
i. Digital Payment Platform, FreeCharge has launched a Mutual Funds investment facility on its platform in partnership with Reliance Mutual Fund on January 20, 2017.
ii. Under the facility users can invest in a “Money Market Mutual Fund” that seeks to provide higher returns than those available on savings bank accounts.
iii. Investment in FreeCharge’s Mutual Fund would entirely be paperless. The customer simply needs to register with his PAN or Adhaar card number. The facility would also provide the benefit of zero transaction charges and zero charges at redemption.


Himachali film ‘Saanjh’ awarded at US film festival
i. A film directed by Ajay Saklani in a Himachali dialect “Saanjh” has won the best feature film award at international Borrego Springs Film Festival held in California, US on January 16,Saanjh 2017.
ii.  The award was received by film’s co-producer Anil Chandel.The film also received award of merit at the Accolade Global Film Competition.
iii. Saanjh is the first Himachali film has gets international recognition in 100 years of the Indian cinema.The film focuses on an unforgettable Saanjh (evening) in which the characters are caught between light and darkness


AIFF president Praful Patel becomes a member of FIFA finance committee
i. All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel has been appointed a member of world governing body FIFA’s finance committee which will work from 2017 to 2021
ii. Patel was appointed as senior vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in December, 2016.
FIFA finance committee:
♦ The FIFA Finance Committee monitors the financial management and advises the FIFA Executive Committee on financial matters and asset management.
♦ It also analyses the FIFA budgets and the financial statements prepared by the FIFA General Secretary and submits them to the FIFA Executive Committee for approval.
♦ President: Gianni Infantino
♦ Headquarters: Zürich, Switzerland


Microsoft acquires Simplygon to accelerate 3D innovation
American multinational technology company Microsoft has acquired Sweden-based company Simplygon to accelerate innovation in enabling 3D for everyone.
About Simplygon:
i. Developer of automatic 3D data-optimisation solutions, Simplygon was developed by Donya Labs AB, a privately-held company based in Sweden.
ii. Simplygon is a leader in 3D game optimisation, dedicated to helping creators and users of 3D data across industries optimise content pipelines and streamline workflows.


INS Vikramaditya Becomes India’s First Warship to Have ATM Onboard
i. INS Vikramaditya, India’s biggest aircraft carrier ship has become the country’s first warship to have an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) onboard the vessel.
ii. The ATM has been installed by the State Bank of India (SBI) and will become INS Vikramaditya Becomes India’s First Warship to Have ATM Onboardoperational from January 21, 2017. It will be operated through satellite link.
iii. It would enable the naval personnel onboard the ship to meet their cash requirement without the need to locate ATMs during the long deployment period of the warship.
iv. INS Vikramaditya is an enhanced Kiev-class aircraft carrier that was commissioned on 16 November 2013 at a ceremony held at Severodvinsk, Russia. It carries around 1500 naval personnel onboard at a time which is often increased to 2000 when the ship sets sail.
v. The ship is 285 metres long and 60 metres wide with 23 decks. The ship represents 19.82 acres of sovereign Indian territory and projects, promotes and protects the country’s maritime interests at sea.

Scientists Explores Wolf 1061c To Be Next Habitable Planet After Earth
i. Scientists have discovered an exoplanet named Wolf 1061 located around 14 light years away from Earth that could be the habitable planet in the future after Earth.
ii. In an effort to find out if life thrives in any planet other than our Earth, the scientists carried out a research with focus on searching “habitable zones” regions where water could exist in a liquid state on the surface of the planet in the presence of sufficient atmospheric pressure.
iii. They discovered that one of the three planets in the Wolf 1061 system named Wolf 1061c, a rocky planet is entirely within the habitable zone, the area where liquid water could exist on the surface of the celestial body.
iv. For being a habitable region, the planet can’t be too close or too far from its parent star. A planet that’s too close would be too hot like Earth’s twin Venus. If it’s too far, it may be too cold and any water would freeze like on Mars.
v. However, the researchers also noticed that like Earth experiences climatic changes such as an ice age because of slow variations in its orbit around the sun, Wolf 1061c’s orbit changes at a much faster rate, leading to a very chaotic climate.

Scientists Develop Robotic Sleeve to Pump Blood in Weak Heart
i. Researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a customizable soft robotic sleeve to encase a diseased heart and help it beat.
ii. The newly developed device is designed to help people who are experiencing heart failure. The soft, cup-shaped robotic device fits around the heart like a sleeve to give it gentle squeezes to help pump blood in patients with weakened hearts.
iii. The researchers have programmed the robotic sleeve to move in the same pattern as the weakened heart muscle to which it surrounds. It will work towards strengthening and optimizing each heartbeat.
iv. However the device will never come in contact with the blood thus reducing the number of complications it might pose. It is made of elastic silicone that mimics the flexibility of natural heart muscle.


Indian Footballer Jayesh Raimalani Joins Spanish Football Team
i. Indian footballer Jayesh Raimalani has signed a deal through Indo-Spanish football venture called Spaindia to join the Spanish Football Team, Club Esportiu JUPITER Jayesh Raimalani(CE JUPITER) based in Barcelona.
ii. The Rajasthan born footballer will join the Club’s U-19 team that plays in the National League. Besides, Jayesh will also play in its B Team that currently plays the Second Division of U-19 league system in Spain.
iii. Barcelona based venture aims to provide opportunities for Indian footballers to have a taste of European football.
iv. Prior to joining the Spanish side, he was training with a residential academy in France for two years.
v. CE Jupiter is a club founded in 1909 in Barcelona and has a glorious history in Catalonian Leagues and Lower National Leagues

Russia’s St. Petersburg unveils logo for 2020 Euro Cup
i. The official emblem of St. Petersburg for the 2020 Euro Cup football tournament was unveiled in St. Petersbur.The logo depicts the Palace Bridge which has established itself as one of the most iconic sites in the city.
ii. The ceremony was attended by European football’s governing body UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko.
iii. Four cities in different European countries St. Petersburg (Russia), Rome (Italy), Munich (Germany) and Baku (Azerbaijan) will be hosting each three group stage matches and one quarter-final match of the 2020 Euro Cup.
iv. Copenhagen (Denmark), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium) and Glasgow (Scotland) will each host three group stage matches and one match of the Last 16 round.
v. The semi-finals and the final of the 2020 Euro Cup will be held at the Wembley Stadium in London, England.