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- Current Affairs 2017 January
Kiren Rijiju Lays Foundation stone of Integrated Check Post near Indo-Bangla border
i. The Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju laid the foundation stone for an Integrated Check-Post (ICP) on January 24, 2017 at the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.
ii. The main aim of the ICP is to boost employment opportunity besides boosting bilateral ties with the neighboring countries.
iii. Land Ports Authority of India is the nodal agency while RITES Limited is the project management consultant. Work for constructing the checkpost has been awarded to M/s T.K. Engineering Consortium Private Limited. The project is targeted to be completed by August 2018.
iv. The project worth Rs. 92.34 crore spans over an area of 22 acres. The ICP project includes a two-floor cargo terminal building of 2,456 square metres, two-floor passenger terminal building of 4,625 sq metres, warehouse 1,420 sq m and parking 60,000 sq metres.
v. The passenger terminal which will have lounge, prayer room, child care room, retail areas, medical facility and foreign exchange bureau besides other things. The cargo terminal will have bank and ATM, computerised cargo clearance, quarantine and weigh bridges.
vi. The project is likely to open up borders for trade and commerce with neighbouring countries in order to bring in prosperity and economic development to the region.
Russia, Turkey and Iran to Jointly Monitor Syria Truce
i. Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to jointly monitor the fragile cease-fire between the Syrian regime and rebels to find a political solution of ending the six-year conflict.
ii. The accord was signed by Moscow and Ankara and Tehran on January 24, 2017 in Kazakhstan on behalf of the Syrian government and armed rebel groups.
iii. A trilateral mechanism would be established by the group to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire and prevent any provocations.
iv. However the arrangements for monitoring the cease-fire and enforcing it would be decided at next meeting in February 2017 in Geneva.
India and France Signs Pact on Maritime Information Sharing in Indian Ocean Region
i. India and France signed White Shipping Agreement on January 19, 2017 in New Delhi to enable information sharing on maritime traffic and maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
ii. The agreement was signed at the second dialogue on maritime cooperation for the Indian Ocean Region between India and France. The agreement aims to enhance the Indo-French maritime security cooperation in the region.
iii. The Indo-French dialogue also emphasized on freedom of navigation in IOR and Pacific.
President: François Hollande
Prime minister: Bernard Cazeneuve
Currencies: Euro, CFP franc
BANKING & FINANCE
Cabinet Permits NABARD to Raise Rs. 20,000 crore for on-lending to Co-Op Banks
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its post-facto approval on January 24, 2017 allowing National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) to raise approx. Rs. 20,000 crore from the market for on-lending to Cooperative Banks.
ii. It permitted the bank to make the short term borrowing at the prevailing market rate and lend to Co-op Banks at 4.5 Percent rate of interest. The move will support the famers by providing them loans to boost agricultural production.
iii. Government also announced to provide an additional capital of Rs. 2,000 crore to NABARD for this purpose through the Union Budget. Initially Rs. 500 crore may be released to NABARD during 2016-17.
iv. Besides, as per the scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), an interest subvention of 1.8 percent and NABARD’s administrative cost of 0.2 percent would also be provided. The extent of interest subvention would depend on the rate at which NABARD raises funds.
v. NABARD will also coordinate the conversion of operative/live KCCs into RuPay/ATM-enabled Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) by Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) in a mission mode.
France Issues First ‘Green Bonds’ With Record Sale of 7 Billion Euro
i. France on January 24, 2017 issued its first “Green Bonds” with a record sale of worth seven billion euro (USD 7.5 billion) thus leading a significant way towards establishment of a genuine market in renewable energy bonds.
ii. The proceeds from the bonds will be used by France to finance projects to address climate change.
iii. The 22-year bonds’ coupon has been set at 1.75 percent which is same as the interest rate on conventional borrowing for the same time frame. This will enable France to finance expenditure on green projects at the same price as traditional borrowing.
iv. The initiative was first announced in April 2016 by President Francois Hollande
v. Poland was the first country to enter the green bond market with a sale of 750 million euro in December. Previously such bonds were issued only by companies or finance institutions such as the World Bank.
vi. A green bond is like any other regular bond but with one key difference: the money raised by the issuer are used towards financing `green’ projects, i.e. assets or business activities that are environment-friendly. Such projects could be in the areas of renewable energy, clean transportation and sustainable water management.
President: François Hollande
Prime minister: Bernard Cazeneuve
Currencies: Euro, CFP franc
Boeing India Engineering & Technology Centre Launched in Bengaluru
i. American aerospace major Boeing Corporation launched the “Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center” (BIETC) on January 24, 2017 in Bengaluru in a bid to enhance its aerospace innovation in global emerging market like India.
ii. The engineering and technology centre will employ hundreds of talent of pool employees from within the nation to support its information technology & data analytics, engineering, research and technology and tests to increase productivity and long-term competitiveness in Indian Market.
iii. BIETC will undertake high quality technology-driven work for the development of advanced environment friendly coatings, and data analytics for next generation Airplane Health Management tools.
iv. Besides, BIETC is expected to be engaged in the development of software tools for airlines and airports to improve their operations and reduce costs, automate next-generation manufacturing systems, infrastructure and analytics.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Complete list of Padma Awards 2017
The Government on January 25, 2017 announced Padma Awards in New Delhi to citizens of the country in recognition of their distinguished contribution in various spheres.
This year the President of India has approved Padma Awards to 89 persons. Out of these 19 are women, 5 awardees are from the category of foreigners, NRIs, PIOs while 6 are posthumous awardees.
The Award includes 7 Padma Vibhushan, 7 Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shri Awardees.
About Padma Awards:
Padma Awards is one of the highest civilian Awards of India instituted in the year 1954. It is given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
Padma Vibhushan: is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service.
Padma Bhushan: is awarded for distinguished service of a high order.
Padma Shri: is awarded for distinguished service in any field.
Nita Ambani’s Philanthropic Work Honored by Metropolitan Museum of Art
i. The Reliance Foundation Founder and Chairperson Nita Ambani has been honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York on January 24, 2017 for her philanthropic work in the areas of education, sports, healthcare, rural transformation, urban renewal, disaster response, women empowerment and promotion of the arts.
ii. Nita Ambani has become the first South Asian to receive the honour for the impressive diversity and scale of the work carried out by Reliance Foundation.
iii. Earlier Nita Ambani’s work in developing sports in India was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which elected her as its first Indian woman member. She is currently the only member from India in the IOC.
About Reliance Foundation:
i.Reliance Foundation led by Mrs Ambani is the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited. The foundation supports Indian art and aims to take it across the globe. It has benefited over 10 million Indians, touching the lives of individuals across more than 10,500 urban areas and villages.
ii.The Foundation focuses on sustainable urban and rural transformation as well as healthcare, education, grassroots development through sport and women empowerment.
About Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met):
i.The Met is recognised as one of the most iconic museums in the world located in New York City.
ii.It is currently located at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. The museum showcases over 5,000 years of art from around the world.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Japan Launches First Military Communications Satellite, Kirameki-2
Japan successfully launched its first military communications satellite on January 24, 2017 from Tanegashima Space Centre, Japan on an H-2A rocket, to boost the broadband capacity of its Self Defence Forces.
The Kirameki-2 is an X-band communications satellite with a 15-year lifespan built by DSN Corporation for the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
It is the first of three satellites that will replace three civilian satellites currently used by Japan’s military. The new satellites will allow military units to communicate on a high-speed and high-capacity network.
Pakistan Successfully Conducts First Flight Test of N- Capable Ababeel Missile
i. Pakistan successfully conducted the first test flight of the surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSM), ‘Ababeel’ on January 24, 2017.
ii. The radar-evading Ababeel has the capablility of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 2,200 kms and deliver multiple warheads using Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology.
iii. The test flight aimed at validating the various design and technical parameters of the weapon system. It can defeat hostile radars with high precision.
iv. The development of the Ababeel weapon system is a huge step from Pakistan to ensure survivability in the growing regional Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) environment.
Pune Police Launches Beat Marshall Monitoring Mobile App for Mapping Patrolling Teams
i. The Police Department of Pune has launched a Mobile App “Beat Marshall Monitoring Mobile App” to trace the location of the patrolling teams from police stations.
ii. The App has been developed by Pune based IT firm “Sapience” and is being used by Pune City Police on experimental basis.
iii. The mobile phone based app will record the time, route and number of stoppages during the course of patrolling. The application will be installed on the cell phones of Beat Marshals or patrolling cops so that their movements can be mapped on real-time by the control room staffers.
iv. The locations can be seen on the city map and the data collected through the app would be used for effective response during the emergencies by dispatching the nearest patrolling party for the first response.
v. It will also help to know which routes are being frequently covered under patrolling and which ones are being left out so that effective plan can be made deployments in those areas.
US Researchers Develops First Semi Synthetic Organism
i. U.S. scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the development of the first stable semi synthetic organism, “Escherichia coli bacteria” on January 23, 2017 that has DNA made up of both natural and artificial bases.
ii. The study was published in the Journal-Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
iii. In general, the DNA of every living being is composed of 4 natural bases, Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G) and Thymine (T). Theses bases are paired up to form two base pairs, AC and GT.
iv. But in 2014, the scientists expanded life’s genetic code from four letters to six by adding two synthetic bases called X and Y to the DNA of Escherichia coli bacteria.
v. However the single celled semisynthetic organism grew slowly that time and cannot keep the synthetic base pair in their code as they divided.
vi. In the new study, the researchers optimized a tool called a nucleotide transporter, making it much easier for the semisynthetic organism to grow and divide while holding on to X and Y and then they improved over the chemical composition of the bases X and Y so that they better paired with each other.
vii.Finally the scientists used gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to eliminate any E. Coli DNA that lacked the X and Y while dividing. The study is a first step towards new genetics and may lead to development of new types of useful bacteria that may be used in discovering new drugs.
Scientists Warns Cooking Starchy Food to Brown May Lead to Cancer
i. According to the Experts from Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) based in United Kingdom, Bread, chips and potatoes should be cooked to a golden yellow colour, rather than brown, to reduce our intake of a chemical called Acrylamide which could cause cancer.
ii. For this the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) has started a new campaign under the theme “Go for Gold” on January 23, 2017 to raise awareness among the people that starchy food when cooked at high temperature for long time leads to generation of Acrylamide.
iii. Acrylamide is a chemical which forms in some foods when they are cooked in temperatures hotter than 120°C. It is formed due to chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid in the food when fried, roasted, baked, grilled or toasted, rather than boiling, steaming or microwaving.
iv. The experts stated that people should avoid over-browning roast potatoes, chips, root vegetables as well as cereal-based foods to lower the risk of cancer.
v. However, the report is based on experiments on mice, rather than humans to prove that acrylamide causes cancer in people too.
vi. Besides, the FSA also instructed people not to keep bread in the toaster beyond a golden colour, as this also increases acrylamide and potatoes must also not be stored in the fridge as this too raises levels of the chemical when cooked.
Scientists Unveils Sunspot with Centre Twice the Size of Earth
i. The scientists from European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered a sunspot with dark and contorted centre which is about twice the diameter of the Earth.
ii. The discovery leads to the expansion of the range of observations made till now and can be used to further investigate the physics of our nearest star. The sunspot was spotted using Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) antennas.
iii. The team observed an enormous sunspot at wavelengths of 1.25 mm and 3 mm using two of ALMA’s receiver bands. The images reveal differences in temperature between parts of the Sun’s chromosphere. The difference in appearance between the two images is due to the different wavelengths of emitted light being observed.
iv. ALMA has been carefully designed to image the Sun without being damaged by the intense heat of the focused light. They can study the solar activity at longer wavelengths of light including the millimetre and submillimetre portion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum of the Sun.
v. ALMA is designed to image the Sun in exquisite detail using the technique of radio interferometry which prevents it from being damaged by the intense heat.
vi. Sunspots are short term features that occur in regions where the Sun’s magnetic field is extremely concentrated and powerful. They are lower in temperature than the surrounding regions, which is why they appear relatively dark.
AIFF Launches Professional League for Women Footballers
i. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) launched its first ever Indian Women’s League (IWL) on January 24, 2017 in order to make football a professional sport for women in the country.
ii. The first edition of the league will be played from January 28 to February 14 at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. The match would be contested between 6 teams in a round robin format. The top 4 teams would enter the semi-finals.
iii. The six participating teams include FC Alakhpura (Haryana), Jeppiaar Institute of Technology FC (Puducherry), Aizawl FC (Mizoram), FC Pune City (Maharashtra), Rising Student Club (Odisha) and Eastern Sporting Union (Manipur).
iv. The qualifying round for the league was held in October 2016 at Cuttack in which 20 teams from 9 states of the country participated, out of which 9 teams qualified the prelims.
v. Indian women’s team is ranked 54 in the world which is higher than the men’s ranking of 129.
All India Football Federation (AIFF):
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is the organisation which manages the game of association football in India.
Founded: 23 June 1937
Headquarters: Dwarka, Delhi, India
President: Praful Patel
ICC Inducts 4 Women Umpires in Panel for Women’s WC Qualifier
i. The International Cricket Council (ICC) on January 25, 2017 named four women to be inducted in the strong group of B to conduct the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 in February 2017 in Colombo.
ii. The four women umpires include, Kathleen Cross of New Zealand who would also be the head of the women umpires, Sue Redfern of England, Claire Polosak of Australia and Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies.
iii. The five men umpires include Anil Chaudhary, Leslie Reifer, Raveendra Wimalasari (all from the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires), Ian Ramage and Mark Hawthorne (both from the ICC Associate and Affiliate International Umpires).
iv. Besides, Graeme Labrooy will be the match referee, while Peter Manuel will be the umpires coach.
v. The ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 will be held in England and Wales from 24 June to 23 July 2017.