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Current Affairs Today – May 13 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Rajnath Singh chairs Northern Zonal Council meeting in Chandigarh
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the 28th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council on 12th of May in Chandigarh.
Key Notes:
i. North Zonal Council comprises the Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Delhi.
ii. Five Zonal Councils – Central, Western, Northern, Southern and Eastern—have been established under the State Reorganisation Act, 1956.
iii. The 27th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council was held at New Delhi on April 25, 2015.
iv. Azonal council will be the matter of common interest in economic and social planning border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-state transport.
v.Chief ministers, ministers and chief secretaries of the states and the Union Government will attend the meeting.

Nagpur will be the first Indian city to get electric radio cabs
Nagpur will be the first Indian city to get electric radio cabs. It will be started from 26th of May. It will be launched by Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari.
Key Notes:
i. The Project will be undertaken by Nagpur Municipal Corporation.and is the first project of its kind in the country.Nagpur will be the first Indian city to get electric radio cabs
ii. It is a method to tackle increasing pollution in the country.
iii. The pilot project will see around 200 e-cabs in Nagpur with the local body to provide for the charging stations across the city.
iv. It will promote the usage of electric and hybrid vehicles in India as the country is moving towards its goal of going all electric by 2030. 
v. The road ministry for the last one year has been trying to work on pollution-reduction technologies for vehicles.
vi. Countries such as France, Netherland and Belgium have already started to adopt electric and hybrid vehicles.

Invisible’ laser walls to bolster security along border with Pakistan in J-K
Border Security Force (BSF) has set Invisible’ laser walls to bolster security along border Pakistan in J-K.
Key Notes:
i. The 198 km India-Pakistan international border will use a newly developed Invisible laser technology.
ii. It is developed by the Delhi-based defenceIoT firm, CRON Systems.
iii.It can detect intrusions and relay information immediately to the nearest post for action.
iv. It is made-in-India technology called Kavach (KVx) series laser walls and is a notch higher than the existing laser walls.
v. CRON Systems have intrusion detection system based on infrared array, which is invisible.
vi. Kavach walls are the latest in the series of developments undertaken by the force.
vii. These walls can immediately alert the nearest outpost about intrusion attempts and triggers action from a quick response tool (QRT), which is an internet of things (IoT) device.

Health Minister J P Nadda launches new Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine for pneumonia
On May 13, 2017, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr. J P Nadda launched new Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), for Pneumonia at Lal Bahadur Shastri Medical College Hospital in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh.
♦ Under Phase – I, this vaccine has been launched in entire state of Himachal Pradesh as well as 6 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 17 districts of Bihar.
About Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV):
i. It has been launched J P Nadda launches Rota virus vaccineunder Indian Government’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
ii. This vaccine will help health department to control pneumonia and child mortality rate.
iii. It will provide protection against 13 types of Pneumococcal bacteria.
iv. It is to be noted that, every year, around 1 lakh children in India die due to pneumonia.

In a first, UPSC to share competitive exams scores online
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has decided to disclose information like marks obtained and educational qualifications of candidates who appeared in the final stage of examination (interview) but were not recommended.
i. Scores of such candidates which will be available online through Integrated Information System for Public Recruitment Agencies — a dedicated website being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), will enable other employers to identify good, employable candidates.
ii. Candidates can opt in or opt out of this facility by indicating their preference while filling the application form.
David Syiemlieh is the current Chairman of UPSC.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM Narendra Modi’s two day visit to Sri Lanka
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka on 11th and 12th May 2017. During this visit, he participated in the International Vesak Day celebrations, the biggest festival of Buddhists and attended several other programmes.
i. The theme of this year’s celebration was “Buddhist Teachings for Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace”.
ii. On May 12, 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a multi-specialty hospital at Dickoya in Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka.

WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Congo
World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Key Points:
i. According to WHO report at least one person has died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east.

ii. More than 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
iii. The last outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people.
iv. The WHO described the outbreak as a public health crisis of international importance.
Republic of Congo :
♦ Capital: Brazzaville
♦ Currency: Central African CFA franc

US approves USD 75 million chemical protective gear for Indian soldiers
The United States (US) Govt. has approved the sale of $ 75 million worth high-tech chemical protective clothing for the Indian armed forces that will protect Indian soldiers against biological and chemical warfare.
i. Referred to as Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST), it consists of 38,034 suits, pairs of trousers, gloves, boots, aprons, protective filters and hoods. The sale deal also includes 38,034 M50 general purpose masks.
ii. India Government had made a request to US Govt. for these JSLIST as part of its military modernisation programme.

19th Session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation held in Rome
19th Session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation held in Rome.
Key Points:
i. The Joint Commission was co-chaired by the Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda and by the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.
ii. The 19th Session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation was held from 19th Session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation held in RomeMay 11 to May 12, 2017 in Rome.
iii. India’s bilateral trade with Italy during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 was US $9.32 billion, US $8.28 billion and US $8.80 billion respectively
About Italy:
♦ Capital: Rome
♦ Currency: Euro
♦ PM: Paolo Gentiloni

BANKING & FINANCE

Disha Microfin gets final nod from RBI for Small Finance Bank
Disha Microfin has received the final license from Reserve Bank on 12th of May to operate as a small finance bank.
Key Highlights:
i. The Bank will start operations from July this year. The bank will be called Fincare Small Finance Bank.
ii. Its main focus will be on the priority sector and retail segments, and will additionally offer products such as gold loans and affordable housing loans.

SBI revises service charges; to charge ATM withdrawals at Rs 25
State Bank of India the country’s largest public sector lender has announced that it will start levying charges of Rs 25 for every withdrawal done at its automated teller machine or ATM kiosks.
Key Points:
i. The bank has also mentioned that it will also charge the amount for exchange of “sullied” notes worth and above Rs 5,000.
ii. The recent move comes weeks after SBI made maintenance of mSBIonthly minimum balance compulsory in savings accounts under metro, urban, semi-urban and rural categories.
iii. All categories require Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs 1,000 minimum balance to be maintained to avoid suspension of the accounts.
About SBI:
♦  Chairman: Arundhati Bhattacharya
♦  MD: Dinesh Kumar Khara

BUSINESS

New IIP, WPI series introduced, show overall benign macronumbers
New-look Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) were unveiled on May 12, 2017. It has been built on the new series of data and is thereby reflecting a healthier picture of the Indian economy in 2016-17 as compared to the old series.
i. The new series of the IIP has 809 items as compared to 620 items in old series.Items such as cement clinkers, prefabricated concrete blocks, steroids and refined palm oilhave been added in the new series, whereas items like calculators, colour TV picture tubes, and gutka have been removed.
ii. The new series of the WPI has 697 items as compared to 676 items in old series.New vegetables and fruits such as radish, carrot, cucumber, bitter gourd, mosambi (sweet lime), pomegranate, jackfruit, and pear have been added to the list of primary articles.

Andhra Pradesh inks deal with HCL Tech to set up Rs 500 crore research facilities
Andhra Pradesh IT Minister Nara Lokesh on 12th May signed a deal with HCL Technologies. To set up of Rs 500-crore IT research facility in Vijayawada.
Key Notes:
i. The company will invest Rs 500 crore in ten years, for a development centre, training HCL to acquire US-based mortgage BPO provider for $30 mnfacility and other ancillary facilities.
ii. HCL will aim to hire, employ and train 5,000 local residents in the region in two phases.
iii. The company will develop its first centre at Kesarapalle village in Gannavarammandal of Krishna district.
iv. The second centre will be at Ainavulu village of Amaravati.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

R K Mahajan, Mahender Singh appointed CBEC members
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved appointment of senior bureaucrats R K Mahajan and Mahender Singh as members in the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
i. Mahajan is the director general of Central Excise Intelligence and Singh is the director general (audit). Both of them are Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) officers.
ii. Prior to these appointments, CBEC had only two members — Ananya Ray and S Ramesh — against the sanctioned strength of six. Vanaja N Sarna is the current Chairperson of CBEC.

Amitabh Bachchan appointed WHO goodwill ambassador for Hepatitis
The World Health Organisation (WHO) appointed Amitabh Bachchan as its goodwill ambassador for hepatitis in South-East Asia region.
Key Notes:
i. It aims to boost awareness and intensify action to arrest the epidemic.
ii. This is the first formal association between WHO and Mr.Bachchan.
iii. He had also served as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Polio in India.
iv. Viral hepatitis kills 4, 10,000 people in the region, which also includes India, annually.
v. Bachchan’s voice is one that is listened to by people across the countryand it can make real change possible.
vi
. According to the WHO estimates nearly 90 million people suffer from chronic liver diseases, which aAmitabh Bachchan appointed WHO goodwill ambassador for Hepatitisre driving rates of liver cancer and cirrhosis in the region.
vii. With Bachchan’s support WHO’s efforts to end hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
About WHO:
♦ Formation: 7 April 1948
♦ Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Head: Margaret Chan, Director General

V K Saraswat appointed new JNU Chancellor
On May 11, 2017, V K Saraswat, Scientist and former Director General of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was appointed as Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University for a five-year term. V K Saraswat succeeds former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman, K Kasturirangan, who completed his term on March 30, 2017.
Accomplishments of V K Saraswat:
i. V K Saraswat has a PhD in combustion engineering and played a very significant role in the development of the country’s first liquid propulsion engine.
ii. He is credited with the development of other rocket engines such as Prithvi,Dhanush and Prahaar.
iii. Saraswat was awarded the Padmashri in year 1998 and Padmabhushan in year 2013.
iv. Currently, he is also serving as member of the NITI Aayog.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

LCA Tejas successfully test fires beyond visual range missile
On May 11, 2017, indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, successfully test fired Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile. The success of this test asserts that LCA Tejas can now be loaded with missiles having BVR capabilities.
i. LCA Tejas fired the missile to strike a manoeuvrable aerial target. The test was conducted to assess the integration of the Derby BVR missile with avionics, fire-control radar, launchers and missile weapon delivery system of Tejas.
ii. The missile fired by Tejas directly hit the target, testifying that all on-board systems performing satisfactorily.

China tests ‘Lunar Palace’ as it eyes moon mission
China is testing the ability of four future astronauts to remain on the moon for longer periods. China is planning to ramp up its ambitious space program.
Key Notes:
i. Four postgraduate students entered a 160-square meter simulated space cabin, called the “Yuegong-1” or “Lunar Palace,” on 10th of May, 2017
ii. The group of four students will live in the cabin for 200 days.
iii. The “Lunar Palace” has two plant cultivation modules.
iv. It includes 42-square meter living cabin including four bed cubicles, a common room, a China tests 'Lunar Palace' as it eyes moon missionbathroom, a waste-treatment room, and a room to raise live stocks.
v. It is the first bioregenerative life-support base in China and the third in the world.
vi. This experiment will help scientists to understand what humans will need to stay on the moon in the medium and long terms.
vii. The volunteers will be sealed in a lab with no input from the outside world.
viii. Their waste will be treated with a bio-fermentation process.
ix. Experimental crops and vegetables will be grown with the help of food and waste byproducts.

OBITUARY

Former Finnish President Mauno Koivisto Dies At 93
Finland’s first leftist president, Mauno Koivisto who oversaw Finland’s entry into European Union, passed away on May 12, 2017, at the age of 93.
Brief Biography of Mauno Koivisto:
i. Koivisto was born in year 1923. His father was a ship carpenter.
ii. He became Finland’s ninth president in 1982, and remained in office for two terms till 1994.
iii. He led Finland through the recession which was triggered by collapse of Soviet Union.
iv. He was the President when Finland applied for membership of the European Union (EU) in 1992. Finland eventually joined the EU in 1995.

Himachal minister Karan Singh passes away
Himachal Pradesh Cabinet Minister Karan Singh has passed away on 12 May 2017. He was 59.Himachal minister Karan Singh passes away
Key Notes:
i. He was suffering from cancer. He represented the Banjar assembly constituency in Himachal Pradesh Assembly.
ii. He was a three-time MLA and had served as a minister twice.
iii. He was elected from the Banjar Assembly constituency thrice in 1990, 1998 and 2012.
iv. He was sworn as a minister in the Virbhadra Singh cabinet in August 2015, as the Ayurveda Minister.

IMPORTANT DAYS

No bag day to be observed in UP govt schools
Saturday will be no school bag day in UP government schools.
Key Notes:
i. The Uttar Pradesh government is planning to declare “no school bag day” on Saturdays in all the state-run schools.
ii. The proposal for the same was submitted at a meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma on 12 May 2017 in Lucknow.
iii. It will help establish a good rapport between students and teachers and help in their personality development.
iv. The move aims to encourage more involvement of children in creative activities on those days.
v. Government school students will be seen wearing a new uniform comprising pink-and-white check shirt with brown collar and brown trousers for boys

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