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Cabinet Approvals- January 24, 2017
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the Indian Institute of Management(IIM) Bill, 2017 on January 24, 2017 that aims to declare IIMs as Institutions of National Importance.
ii. Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval on for interest waiver for the two months of November and December, 2016 for farmers accessing short term crop loans from Cooperative Banks.
iii. As a part of government’s commitment for financial inclusion and social security the Union Cabinet has given its post-facto approval to launch Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017 (VPBY 2017) on January 24, 2017.
iv. Union Cabinet on January 24, 2017 approved a new scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country.
v. PM Modi gave approval for the ratification of the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) which was adopted in 2012. Till date, 65 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.
vi. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the proposal of India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) on January 24, 2017 for redevelopment of Pragati Maidan by setting up of a world class Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
Union Cabinet Transfers Disinvestment Advice to Economic Affairs Department
i. The Union Cabinet has decided to transfer the role of advising the government on how to utilize the proceeds from disinvestment from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) to the Department of Economic Affairs.
ii.The decision aims to make the process more efficient since the Department of Economic Affairs is in charge of budget-making, it will better decide the utilization of stake sales in public sector undertakings (PSUs).
iii. The National Investment Fund was created by the government in 2005 to deposit the proceeds from the disinvestment of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
iv. Therefore, the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry will now be in charge of financial policy in regard to the utilisation of the proceeds of disinvestment channelised into the National Investment Fund.
SC Directs Providing Daily Drug Dosage Regimen for TB Patients
i. The Supreme Court on January 23, 2017 directed the government to replace the current practice of giving three-times-a-week dosage norm of tuberculosis (TB) drugs with a daily dosage norm within a period of nine months to curb relapse and deaths during treatment.
ii. A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar directed the government to ensure that every TB patients across the country are administered the new dosage regimen recently approved by the World Health Organisation.
iii. The order was passed after a PIL was filed by doctor and TB specialist Raman Kakkar seeking change in the protocol for treatment of TB.
iv. According to Dr. Kakkar, current dosage practice is unscientific and improper and promotes relapses while producing a lethal drug-resistant strain in patients. Besides, the relapsed cases are even harder to treat than first-time infections.
Ministry of Steel proposes Draft National Steel Policy 2017 at an Investment of Rs.10 lakh crore
i. The Union Ministry of Steel, headed by Chaudhary Birendra Singh has come out with a Draft National Steel Policy 2017 to increase the supply of domestic coking coal and cut the dependence on imports.
ii. The Ministry has seeked feedback on the policy from all the stakeholders and the public till January 23, 2017.
iii. The draft policy aims to create a globally competitive steel industry for inter-sectoral growth and a self-sufficient steel industry that is technologically advanced, globally competitive and promotes inclusive growth.
iv. Under the policy, the ministry has set an ambitious production target of building a capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT) per annum by 2030-31 which is more than double from 2015-16. The total capacity of India in 2015-16 was 122 MT.
v. The ministry estimates that an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore would be required to achieve the 300 MT target. Besides it would also generate 11 lakh new job oppurtuinity. The steel sector presently employs about 25 lakh people.
vi. The draft policy recognises that due to shortage of domestic coking coal, pig iron producers in India have to significantly depend on import of coking coal. The policy aims to cut down dependence on expensive imports of coking coal by 50% by 2030-31. For this, it is set to introduce gas-based steel plants and technologies such as electric furnaces to bring down the use of coking coal in blast furnaces.
vii. As part of the new draft National Steel Policy of 2017, the Steel Ministry has proposed setting up Greenfield steel plants along India’s coastline to tap cheap imported raw materials such as coking coal and export the output in a more cost-effective manner.
viii. The draft policy aims at increasing the per capita steel consumption to 160 kg by 2030-31 and make the industry a world leader on energy and raw material efficient steel production, in a safe and sustainable manner.
China Develops World’s Biggest Solar Park
i. In an effort to become the super powerful occupier of green energy, China has built the world’s biggest solar park, Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, in the western province of Qinghai.
ii. The park spans over 27 square km of area and can produce 850 MW of power which is enough to supply up to 200,000 households.
iii. The construction of the solar park began in 2013 and total costs around $875 million (around Rs. 6,000 crore).
iv. China hopes to produce 110GW of solar power and 210GW of wind power as part of an ambitious plan to slash pollution and emissions by 2020. Besides, by 2030, China has pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of the total.
Trump Signs Order to Withdraws US from Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal
i. The new US president, Donald Trump signed a formal executive order on January 23, 2017 to withdraw the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, thus keeping his promise made during his presidential campaign.
ii. During his campaign for the presidency, Trump said that trade deals with other countries leads to job reduction for the citizens as the employers move to seek talent outside the United States to save on labor costs.
iii. The TPP accord was negotiated by former President Barack Obama’s administration and was the main economic pillar of the Obama administration to formulate the massive free trade deal that was set to reshape commerce throughout the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.
iv. Besides, Trump also signed an order to impose a federal hiring freeze with the exception of the military and ban US NGOs that perform abortions abroad from receiving federal funding.
BANKING & FINANCE
BCSBI Launches ‘Know Your Rights’ Programme
i. The Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) has announced an initiative as per which it would organise “Know Your Rights” programme in select urban and rural areas of the country to enhance awareness on Banking Codes at the grassroot level among the people.
ii. The move aims to create awareness among the people about the commitment of the banks towards their customers.
iii. The programme would be conducted at three levels including Tier II cities, metros and other backward areas.
iv. The CEO of BCSBI, Anand Aras informed that the first such programme was organized by BCSBI in Kochi on January 23, 2017 in association with Kudumbashree for less privileged women in Kerala.
v. The programme, ‘interalia’ involved skit and a puppet show to describe the banking codes to over 100 participating women in simple language. It also addressed about 300 educated section of the society to increase their awareness about bank’s commitment towards them.
Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI)
♦ The Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) is an independent banking industry watchdog that protects consumers of banking services in India.
♦ Formed: February 18, 2006
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairman: A C Mahajan
T-Hub Collaborates with Esri India for GIS Innovation Hub
i. Telangana based India’s largest incubator for start-ups, T-Hub has launched a ‘GIS Innovation Hub’ (GIH) in collaboration with Esri India on January 23, 2017 for the start-ups belonging to the capital Hyderabad.
ii. Esri India is country’s leading Geographic Information System (GIS) software and solutions provider. The facility was inaugurated by Jack Dangermond, co-founder, president and CEO of Esri Inc.
iii. GIH aims to provide a platform to start-ups within T-Hub to make use of GIS technology by Esri India for better efficiency in work.
iv. Under the collaboration, the start-ups would have to undergo a three year ‘Start-up’ program training under Esri India where they would get free access to Esri’s ArcGIS, a cloud-based mapping platform, software development tools and ready-to-use content.
v. Esri India will also provide training and technical support to make the adoption of GIS technology easy for the start-ups.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Assam Launches ‘Chief Minister’s Award’ For Performing Districts in Cashless Transaction
i. In a bid to promote digital transaction in Assam, the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal on January 22, 2017 announced the launch of ‘Chief Minister’s Award’ while inaugurating the Digi Dhan Mela in the state.
ii. The Chief Minister’s Award would be given to the best performing district of the state that adopts digital payment methods and also educate larger section of the society about the cashless transaction.
iii. The winning district’s Deputy Commissioner would be presented a prize of Rs 50,000 at the end of financial year 2016-2017 after March 31, 2017.
Vladimir Putin Awarded with the First Hugo Chavez Peace Prize by Venezuela
i. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was awarded the first ever Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty by the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 18, 2017 at the Presidential Palace in Miraflores, Caracas, Venezuela.
ii. The Peace Prize has been named in honor of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez who served as the 64th President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.
iii .Putin was chosen by the award committee set up in October 2016 for being a fighter of peace. He has been recognized as a great leader of peace, a great ruler of the multi-centric and multi-polar world.
iv. The Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty aims to recognize global and national personalities who have stood out in the struggle for peace, for sovereignty and the independence of peoples. The prize consists of a statuette of Hugo Chavez.
♦ Capital: Caracas
♦ Currency: Venezuelan bolívar
♦ President: Nicolás Maduro
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
US Senate committee approves Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State
i. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 to approve longtime Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.
ii. A final confirmation vote by the full Senate is expected next week
♦ President – Donald Trump
♦ Vice President – Mike Pence
♦ Speaker of the House – Paul Ryan
♦ Chief Justice – John Roberts
UN appoints Director of UNIC in New Delhi
i. Derk Segaar has been appointed Director of the New Delhi based United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) covering India and the Kingdom of Bhutan by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
ii. Segaar had served as the Chief of the United Nations Resident Coordinators Office and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudans (UNMISS) Relief, Reintegration and Protection Section from 2013
iii. Earlier he was the Head of Communications of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in New York.
Virender Sehwag Named Kings XI Punjab Brand Ambassador
i. Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag, the mentor of Kings XI Punjab, will also be the team’s head of Cricket Operations and Strategy in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League.
ii. Sehwag will not only be the head of Cricket , but also be the brand ambassador for the Punjab franchise.
iii. Sehwag has been with Kings XI Punjab since IPL 8. This will be his third year of association with the franchise
Siddhartha Murarka is now ICSI Chairman
i. Siddhartha Murarka has been appointed as the Chairman of the Eastern India Regional Council of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
ii. His term began from January 19.
iii. Murarka is also a “regular faculty” at ICAI and other professional bodies and chambers of commerce like the Merchant Chamber of Commerce and the BCCI.
Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo Appointed CIA Director
i. A conservative Republican from Kansas, Mike Pompeo was sworn in as the new director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on January 23, 2017 by the United States Vice President Mike Pence.
ii. Pompeo won with a vote of 66-32. This makes him the third official cabinet member of US Senate.
iii. The previous CIA director, John Brennan, resigned when Trump was sworn in as president on January 20, 2017.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Rubber Soil Information System (RubSIS) launched by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry for Rubber Growers
i. The Minister of Commerce & Industry, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman launched Rubber Soil Information System (RubSIS) on January 23, 2017 in New Delhi to provide the detail about the soil quality to the rubber growers to enhance productivity besides reducing the cost of production.
ii. RubSIS is an online platform developed to recommend application of appropriate mix of fertilizers to the specific plantations of rubber growers depending upon their soil nature.
iii. The system would enable to bring the data about the soil quality to the rubber growers and also recommend the optimum mix and quantities of chemical fertilizers required for the growth of specific rubber plant.
iii. The system has been developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) under the Rubber Board in collaboration with Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala; National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, ICAR and National Remote Sensing Center, ISRO.
Guided Pinaka test fired successfully again
i. The Guided Pinaka was successfully test fired from the Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur for a further enhanced range.
ii. The Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, equipped with Navigation, guidance and control kit, was transformed into a guided Pinaka.
iii. The conversion has facilitated to enhance the range and improve the accuracy of Pinaka.
PVR Launches Theater on Demand Service VKAAO
i. The Multiplex chain operator PVR has launched a theatre on demand service ‘VKAAO’ on January 20, 2017.
ii. Vkaao is an online platform that will enable consumers to watch any movie of their choice at a theatre of their choice. It would empower the viewers to choose what they want to watch, when and where.
iii. Initially 500 films titles would be listed for selection in different languages and genres and minimum 50 seats would be required to confirm a show.
iv. PVR aims to offer 1000 titles in 3 months time and increase it to 2,500 film titles by end of 2017.
v. Besides, PVR also plans to add 100 screens by end of next fiscal across the country including 30 screens by the end of current fiscal and 70-80 by next fiscal. In this half of the screens would be installed in the existing cities with PVR service and half in new cities. The PVR Joint Managing Director Sanjeev Kumar Bijli informed that at present PVR operates 562 screens in 122 properties in 48 cities in India.
India UK Join Hands to Launch Project to Tackle Delhi Air Pollution Risks
i. Indian has partnered with the British experts over a project that aims to study the air pollution level in Delhi and health problems associated it.
ii. The project ‘ASAP-Delhi: An Integrated Study of Air Pollutant Sources in the Delhi National Capital Region’ would be led by University of Birmingham and would also involve experts from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, the Indian National Physical Laboratory and the University of Surrey.
iii. The project has been granted a support of 1.4 million pound from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Air Pollution and Human Health programme.
iv. The project will run for a period of four years and involve a series of field studies and follow-on analyses to determine the sources and processes responsible for airborne particulate matter in Delhi.
v. Delhi was declared as the most polluted city in the world in 2014 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with air pollution level 30 times more than that of UK.
Ronnie O’Sullivan beats Joe Perry to win record seventh Masters title
i. Ronnie O’Sullivan won a record seventh Masters title against Joe Perry 10-7 in the final at London’s Alexandra Palace.
ii. Perry, in his first Triple Crown final at the age of 42, led 4-1 but missed a straightforward red for a 5-1 lead.
iii. O’Sullivan won seven frames in a row to move 8-4 ahead before Perry, helped by breaks of 117 and 92, fought back.
iv. But O’Sullivan, 41, sealed victory to defend his title and move ahead of Stephen Hendry’s six Masters wins.
National Girl Child Day Celebrated on January 24, 2017
i. The National Girl Child Day was celebrated on January 24, 2017 at a special function organized by the Ministry of Women & Child Development in New Delhi with focus on celebrating the achievements by nation’s daughters during 2016.
ii. The commendable performance of the female players at the Olympics and Paralympics and a historic induction of the first female fighter pilots into the Indian Air Force made 2016 proud year for India.
iii. The Day has been celebrated on January 24 every year since 2008 to raise awareness among people about all the inequalities faced by the girl child and spread the importance of girl child in the society.
iv. The event was marked by release of National Plan of Action for Children 2016. Ten districts under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme were felicitated for their worthy efforts.
v. Besides, the winners of regional level quiz competition on the theme of “Empowerment of Girl Child”, organized for girl students across various Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in Delhi were also awarded at the function.
vi. The event was also marked by regional performance by professional troupes of Song and Drama Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.