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- Current Affairs 2017 January
14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas Convention Held in Bengaluru
The 14th edition of the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) Convention 2017 kick started at Jacaranda Hall, BIEC, in Bengaluru, Karnataka on January 7 and would conclude on January 9, 2017.
The theme of the three day PBD 2017 was “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora.”
The PBD began on January 7 with the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The theme of Youth PBD was ‘Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India’.
The event was chaired by Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel and co-chaired by Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr V.K. Singh.
Vice President of Suriname Michael Ashwin Adhin was the Special Guest at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD)
Tamil Nadu Becomes 21st State to Join UDAY
i. The Tamil Nadu Government signed an MoU with the Ministry of Power on January 9, 2017 to join the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme which aims at reviving the financial turnaround of debt stressed electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs). With the agreement Tamil Nadu has become the 21st state to join UDAY scheme.
ii. Tamil Nadu’s discom TANGEDCO, would save around Rs 11,000 crore by 2019 under UDAY by saving interest cost, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. About 90 percent of total utilities’ debt of around Rs 4 lakh crore would be covered. The state will take over 75 per cent of Rs 30,420 crore debt of TANGEDCO.
iii. Under the scheme the balance debt is also re-priced or issued as state guaranteed discom bonds, at coupon rates around 3-4 per cent less than the average existing interest rate.
iv. Tamil Nadu and TANGEDCO will bring about operational efficiency and reduction in power consumption by way of using energy efficient alternatives. UDAY would improve power infrastructure in Tamil Nadu and lower the cost of power.
Ministry of Power Dedicates World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme to the Nation
i. Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, dedicated the World’s Largest Street Light Replacement Programme in New Delhi to the nation on January 9, 2017.
ii. The Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) area is a joint venture between the Ministry of Power, Government of India and the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).
iii. Under the SLNP, over 2 lakh street lights have been replaced alone in SDMC area which is the largest amount till date in the world. This would save about 2.65 crore kWh energy annually and avoid capacity addition of 6.6 MW besides reducing 22,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases
iv. EESL has also signed a tripartite agreement with BSES and SDMC to install 75,000 more street lights which would focus more on installation in parks. EESL has also installed Centralized Control and Monitoring System (CCMS) to enable remote operation and monitoring of the street lights.
v. Similar SLNP programme is also running in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
vi. As a part of the occasion, Power Minister also launched a mobile App EESL SL Complaint App for SDMC to enable the users to file complains about any fault in the street light. It would be addressed within a period of 48 hours.
9th Jaipur International Film Festival begins in Jaipur
i. The 9th edition of the world’s fastest growing film festival, Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF) began on 7 January 2017 and will conclude on January 11, 2017 at the Golcha Cinema in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The two other venue were the festival would take place are the Manipal University, Jaipur and the Rajasthan Praudh Shikshan Samiti (Rajasthan Adult Education Association).
ii. The five-day event aims to promote emerging directors, as well as encourage the exchange of knowledge, information, ideas and culture between India and the participating nations.
iii. About 250 filmmakers and artists would participate in the festival from all over the country. Over 134 films from across the globe will be screened at the three venues along with a special screening for children.
iv. As many as 17 workshops and seminars would be held on different aspects of cinema on the theme Master Strokes between filmmakers and audiences for greater understanding of the art of filmmaking
v. A Committee headed by noted film director Shaji N Karun, has selected internationally acclaimed cine-visionary Ramesh Prasad for the Life Time Achievement award at the JIFF.
Andhra Pradesh organizes its First Digi Dhan Mela in Vijaywada
i. The first Digi Dhan Mela in the state of Andhra Pradesh was launched by the Urban Development and Information Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada on January 9, 2017 at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium.
ii. The two-day event to be concluded on January 10, 2107 emphasized on teaching the people about the digital payment system like Internet, Credit cards, Debit cards, E-Wallet and other modes to encourage the cashless transactions.
iii. The event also had lucky draw for selecting the 15,000 winners who made payments through digital modes along with cash rewards for daily winners. Digi Dhan Melas are being organized all over the country to encourage cashless transaction.
Rajnath Singh lays the Foundation stone for new (NDRF) campus
i. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone for the construction of a new campus of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) at Kondapavuluru village of Gannavaram mandal in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh on January 9, 2017 in presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu.
ii. The campus is being built on 50 acres of land that will accomodate the NDRF’s 10th battalion which is presently located at Mangalagiri in Guntur district.
iii. The campus would consist of world class training centre, administrative block, dormitories, residential area, helipad, play ground, swimming pool, quarters for officials, guest house, vehicle depot, training centre, school and other facilities.
iv. The government has allocated Rs. 200 Crore for the new campus. The construction works has been assigned to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
v. 10th Battalion NDRF is responsible for providing rescue operation during natural calamities, accidents, cyclones and floods in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
Assam govt comes up with e-Wallet
i. The Assam government will be shortly launching its indigenously-developed e-Wallet, Tokapoisa.in.
ii. Aim: To enable the people of the state for hassle-free online transactions in local language.
iii. The mobile application Tokapoisa.in has been developed by the Assam Electronics Development Corp. Ltd.Besides being an e-Wallet, it will be a virtual payment terminal.
BANKING & FINANCE
HDFC Bank Launches Humanoid Robot IRA
i. India’s second largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has launched a human shaped robot named IRA at its Mumbai branch to help the assist the customers in banking activities.
ii. Initially the role of the robot will be limited to that of receptionist that will greet the customers entering the bank and display the services and banking facilities like withdrawal, deposit, forex, fixed deposits and demat. The robot would also be installed with the map of the bank branch with a button “Take me there” to help the customers in easy service.
iii. IRA which stands for Intelligent Robotic Assistant aims to provide smoother customer service, marketing, employee assistance and automate the banking process. Depending on customer reaction the Bank would install more such robots across its branches in the country.
iv. The bank also launched the second edition of its Digital Innovation Summit on the occasion.
HDFC Bank is the second largest Private sector Indian banking and financial services company.
♦ Founded: 1994
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairman: Deepak S. Parekh
SBI waives MDR charges for small merchants for one year
i. SBI has waived Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on debit card transactions for all small merchants with annual turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh for one year.
ii. The bank has decided to waive completely, the MDR charges on debit card transactions for all small merchants for a period of one year upto December 31, 2017.
Jaipur to be next Destination for startups after Bengaluru
i.The state government of Rajasthan led by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has collaborated with the American MNC Cisco to develop the state capital Jaipur as the second startup destination after Bengaluru.
ii. The joint programme, Jaipur Lighthouse City programme, would comprise of series of initiatives for the digial transformation of the state.
iii. The main focus of the initiative would be the girls. The state government and Cisco will focus on training the girls in information and communication technology (ICT). For this purpose the networking giant would set up video-enabled digital classrooms in women colleges covering 10,000 women students in both rural and urban areas in one year.
iv. Under the Connected Learning initiative, Cisco has also collaborated with the State Institute of Education Management And Training (SIEMAT) to provide virtual classrooms across 12 institutes in the state to provide training through digital classrooms.
GAAR to be implemented from April 1, 2017
i. The General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) which was scheduled to be implemented from April 1, 2014, will now come into effect from April 1, 2017 (Assessment Year 2018-19).
ii. GAAR contains provision that allows the government to prospectively tax overseas deals involving local assets.
iii. In 2012-2013 budget speech, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee introduced the concept of GAAR to check tax evasion and avoidance. However, it could not be implemented because of the fear expressed by foreign investors that the government may use it to target P-Notes and tax it as indirect investment with tax rate up to 15 percent.
iv. Participatory Notes (P-Notes) are instruments issued by registered foreign institutional investors (FII) to overseas investors, who wish to invest in the Indian stock markets without registering themselves with the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
v. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had informed during the budget speech 2015 that the implementation of GAAR would be delayed by 2 years and investments made up to March 31, 2017 shall not be subjected to GAAR.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Parag Havaldar an IIT Kharagpur alumnus wins Technical Oscar
i. An IIT Kharagpur alumnus, Parag Havaldar, has won the prestigious Scientific & Technical Awards popularly called the `Technical Oscar’ by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences for the development of expression-based facial performance-capture technology at Sony Pictures Imageworks.
ii. He will be awarded a certificate from the Academy at Beverly Hills, California on February 11, 2017.
iii. Indian-American Havaldar graduated from IIT-Kharagpur in 1991 with a degree in computer science and engineering. He is currently a software supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks.
iv. The technology developed by him and his team has been widely used to create stylized character animations in a variety of movies including “Alice in Wonderland”, “Monster House”, “Hancock” and “Spiderman”.
v. The Scientific & Technical Awards was first presented at the 4th Academy Awards ceremony in November 1931. It is conferred in recognition of original developments that leads to significant improvements in motion picture production and exhibition.
La La Land Wins Record 7 Awards at Golden Globes
i. La La Land, an American romantic musical comedy-drama film, broke the record at the 74th Golden Globe Awards on January 8, 2017 by winning in every category of award it was nominated.
ii. The movie won all seven awards it was nominated in including best musical or comedy film, best director, screenplay, score and song along with the actors of the film.
iii. The actors of the film Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were honored as best actor and actress while Damien Chazelle was awarded best director and City of star was given the best original song.
Amitabh Bachchan Awarded by US Embassy for TB Awareness
i. The Bollywood Actor Amitabh Bachchan was honoured by the US Embassy on January 8, 2017 for his immense contribution to the India-US partnership on tuberculosis (TB).
ii. The award was presented by US Ambassador to India Richard R Verma to the 74-year-old actor, who himself was diagnosed TB in 2000. After which he stood in support to combat the disease and became the brand ambassador for the cause.
iii. The US and Indian government has been working for over 20 years on tuberculosis.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Kumar Sharadindu appointed as the new MD & CEO of SBI Pension Funds
i. SBI Pension Funds Pvt Ltd.(SBIPFPL), a subsidiary of State Bank of India, has appointed Kumar Sharadindu as its Managing Director and Chief Executive. Before this, Sharadindu was a general manager at SBI Corporate Centre, Mumbai.
ii. SBI Pension Funds had an Asset under Management (AUM) of Rs 46,019 crore on March 2016, representing a growth of 47 per cent over the previous fiscal, and is the seventh largest pension fund manager in terms of market share and 35 per cent its AUM comes from the government sector.
iii. SBIPFPL is one of the 3 Pension Fund Managers appointed by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) in India to manage the pension corpus of employees enrolled under the National Pension System for Government Employees.
Gionee signs up Virat Kohli as brand ambassador
i. Smartphone brand Gionee has named Virat Kohli, captain of the Indian cricket team, as their new brand ambassador.
ii. Earlier Gionee had roped in actor Alia Bhatt as its brand ambassador
iii. Kohli will be joining her in helping the brand to amplify its presence in India.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Pakistan Successfully Test-Fires Submarine-Launched Nuclear-Capable Missile’
i. Pakistan successfully test-fired its first Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM), Babur-3, on January 9, 2017 from Indian Ocean.
ii. The missile Babur-3 which was fired from an underwater, mobile platform, hit the target with precise accuracy. It is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 450km
iii. Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) Babur-2, which was successfully tested earlier in December 2016.
iv. The Babur-3 SLCM is installed with state-of-the-art technologies including underwater controlled propulsion. It has advanced guidance and navigation features and is incorporated with Global Navigation, Terrain and Scene Matching Systems.
v. The missile is capable of hugging terrain and sea skimming to evade radar and air defenses and certain stealth technologies.
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee
♦ President: Mamnoon Hussain
♦ Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
Chennai Open: Bopanna and Jeevan bag doubles title
i. Indian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan captured men’s doubles title defeating India’s Divij Sharan and Purav Raja in Chennai Open.
ii. They defeated compatriots Purav Raja and Divij Sharan 6-3, 6-4 in the summit clash.
iii. It was the first time in the ATP event’s 22-year existence that four Indians featured in the finals.
Kane Williamson climbs to fourth in ICC T20 rankings
i. Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli are the only two batsmen to feature in the top 5 of the ICC rankings in all three formats of the game.
ii. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has become the second batsman after Indian skipper Virat Kohli to feature in the top-five of the ICC rankings for all three formats by climbing to fourth in the latest Twenty20 list issued in Dubai
iii. Kohli is the number-one ranked batsman in T20Is, second-ranked in ODIs and Tests.
Iran’s ex-President Rafsanjani dies at 82
i. Iran’s ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a dominant figure in the country’s politics since the 1980s, has died at the age of 82.
ii. Mr Rafsanjani, president from 1989 to 1997, suffered a heart attack.
iii. He played a pivotal role in the 1979 revolution but later in life became a counterpoint to hardline conservatives.