Current Affairs Today May 9 2018

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 INDIAN AFFAIRS

India launches biggest city gas distribution auction
i. On May 8, 2018, India launched auction for 9th city gas distribution (CGD) licensing round offering permits for selling compressed and piped natural gas (CNG and PNG).
ii. This auction is being considered as the biggest so far as it will offer permits for CGD in 86 geographical areas.
iii. Awards from the 9th CGD licensing round would extend gas coverage to 174 districts in 22 states and Union Territories, covering 29 per cent of India’s area and 24 per cent of the population………………………………………………………………………………………… Click here to Read More

Govt to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts
Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) is planning to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across India.
Govt to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal DistrictsPlan to expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts:
i. Setting up Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is an important component of Central Government’s Van Dhan Schemeis geared towards socio economic development of tribals living in forests, for whom, collecting Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood.
ii. The scheme envisages making tribals competent to add value to the products they collect from the jungle, so that they get better prices for the same.
iii. Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is for providing skill upgradation and capacity building training and setting up of primary processing and value addition facility.
iv. As per the plan formulated during a meeting chaired by Secretary of Ministry of Tribal Affairs,  Ms. Leena Nair, Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)  will facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, a cluster of 10 self help groups (SHGs) comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each, in the tribal areas.
v. The first Van Dhan Vikas Kendra was launched at Bijapur, Chhattisgarh by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14, 2018.

President clears Delhi govt’s amendment in Minimum Wages Act
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to Delhi government’s proposed Bill to amend the Minimum Wages Act.
President clears Delhi govt's amendment in Minimum Wages ActDetails about Delhi govt’s amendment in Minimum Wages Act:
i. As per the amended act, employers violating labour rules in Delhi will now face fine ranging from Rs 20000-50000 and jail term between one to three years.
ii. In March 2017, Delhi’s Lt. Governor Anil Baijal had approved Delhi Government’s decision to hike the minimum wages of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers by 37 per cent.
iii. Minimum wages for an unskilled worker in Delhi is Rs 13350 per month, for semi-skilled, it is Rs 14698 and for skilled persons is Rs 16182.
iv. The amendment prescribes that the court before which the prosecution complaint is made, will dispose it off within a month from the date of filing.

Commission approves modern animal-free testing for drugs
In the 2018 edition of Indian Pharmacopoeia, that provides guidelines on tests for drugs manufactured and marketed in India, Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission has approved modern, animal-free tests for drug manufacturers.
Revised guidelines issued by Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission:
i. As per the new guidelines that will come into effect from July 1, 2018pyrogen test (carried out to check impurity or substance that can cause adverse side-effects) will be replaced by a bacterial endotoxin test or a monocyte activation test which can be carried out in test tubes.
ii. Under pyrogen test, the drug is injected into a rabbit and the animal is closely observed for feverish symptoms.
iii. As per the new guidelines, for the abnormal toxicity test, that is carried out to check potential hazardous biological contamination in vaccine formulations, vaccine manufacturers can apply for waiver by getting a compliance certificate from the National Control Laboratory.
iv. Under abnormal toxicity test, mice or guinea pigs are injected with the vaccine and then, scientists observe if there is death of any animal.

Fifteenth Finance Commission constitutes an Advisory Council
Fifteenth Finance Commission has constituted an Advisory Council to advise and assist the commission.
Fifteenth Finance Commission constitutes an Advisory CouncilRole and Members of Advisory Council:
i. One of the functions of advisory council will be to advise the Commission on any relevant issue or subject related to the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission.
ii. It will also assist in the preparation of any paper or research study which would enhance the Commission’s understanding on the issues listed out in ToR.
iii. In addition to these, the council will also be responsible for broadening the Commission’s ambit and understanding to seek best national and international practices on matters pertaining to fiscal devolution.
iv. Members of Advisory Council: Arvind Virmani – President of Forum for Strategic Initiatives, Surjit S. Bhalla – Part-time Member of Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister and Sr. Indian Analyst for the Observatory Group and Chairman of Oxus Research and Investments, Sanjeev Gupta – Ex-Deputy Director (Fiscal Affairs Department) of International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pinaki Chakraborty – Professor at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Sajjid Chinoy – Chief India Economist at JP Morgan and Neelkanth Mishra – Managing Director and the Credit Suisse India Economist and Strategist.

NSIC inks MoU with MSME Ministry for FY 2018-19
On 8th May;2018, The National Small Industries Corporation Limited (NSIC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for the year 2018-19.
NSIC inks MoU with MSME Ministry for FY 2018-19NSIC inks MoU with MSME Ministry for FY 2018-19: 
i. The MOU envisages provision of enhanced services by NSIC under its marketing, financial, technology and other support services schemes, for MSMEs in the country.
ii. The corporation aimsto increase its total business by 21.30 percent from Rs.22,258crore in the year 2017-18 to Rs.27,000 crorein the year 2018-19.
iii, NSIC also plans to develop its activities in the areas by imparting entrepreneurship and skill development training by targeting 15 percent growth in the number of trainees.
Important points about MSME and NSIC:
♦ Dr A.K Panda is the secretary of MSME.
♦ RavindraNath is the CMD of NSIC.
♦ Current MSMEs Minister: Shri. Giriraj Singh
♦ NSIC: A Mini Ratna PSU company fall under the ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of India.
♦ H.Q of NSIC: New Delhi.

One Stop Centres’ for women in 100 more districts
On May 8th,2018; To help violence affected women, the centre has approved setting up of 100 additional One Stop Centres (OSC) in 9 states and these states areHaryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
One Stop Centres' for women in 100 more districtsOne Stop Centres’ for Women:
i. The sole purpose of these OSCs is to facilitate integrated services to those women’s by providing them services like police assistance, medical aid, psycho-social counselling and all these can now be available under one roof.
ii. The Ministry of Women & Child Development has already set up 182 Centres till date under this scheme for women affected by violence since April, 2015 and over 1.3 lakhs such women affected by violence have been assisted at these centres till date in 33 States/UT
iii. And as per the Cabinet Decision, it was also decided that in the years to come every single district will be covered by one such OSC and each will be strengthened with an additional annual grant of 50,000 for immediate assistance for first aid.
iv. Raipur, Chhattisgarh, where the first OSC was built has received the President’s award on March 8, which is celebrated as International Women’s Day.
v. The scheme of Universalization of Women’s Helpline (181) of the Ministry that was started in April, 2015 has now become operational in 30 States/UTs and every OSC is integrated to this Women Helpline which had already assisted over 16.5 lakh women so far.
Some Famous National Parks:
♦ Bandipur National Park- Karnataka
♦ Kanha National Park- Madhya Pradesh
♦ Tadoba National Park- Maharashtra

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Trump announces US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal
On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal of US from Iran Nuclear Deal.
Trump announces US withdrawal from Iran nuclear dealMore information related to US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal:
i. After years of tension over Iran’s alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, in 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal with the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
ii. As per the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities if the economic sanctions imposed on it were lifted.
iii. On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew from this deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, saying that it was a poorly negotiated deal by his predecessor Barack Obama-led administration and the agreement had not prevented Iran from its quest for nuclear weapons.
iv. However, Trump has also stated that he is ready, willing and able to renegotiate a nuclear deal that would definitively end Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Beijing to hold World Robot Conference 2018
On 8th May 2018, authorities said that, the 2018 World Robot Conference will be held in Beijing from 15th to 19th August 2018.
Beijing to hold World Robot Conference 2018Beijing to hold World Robot Conference 2018:
i. More than 12,000 teams and 50,000 participants from over 10 countries and regions will participate in the conference.
ii. A robot competition will be conducted during the conference. Participants will compete in five categories in this competition.
iii. This conference will enhance passion and innovation in the robot industry and help to improve research and development.

2019 Climate Summit to be held in New York: UN
On 8th May 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that a climate summit will be held in September 2019 in New York to review the Paris Agreement commitments.
2019 Climate Summit to be held in New York:
i. Antonio Guterres made this announcement at the opening ceremony of the 37th session of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
ii. In March 2018, he appointed former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as his Special Envoy for Climate Action.
iii. He announced that Michael Bloomberg will support the UN in its climate strategy and to organise the 2019 summit.
Some important UNESCO cultural Heritage Sites in India:
♦ Agra Fort – Uttar Pradesh
♦ Ajanta Caves – Maharashtra
♦ Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi – Madhya Pradesh

Nepal grants power generation licence to Indian company
Investment Board Nepal (IBN) has granted licence to Satluj Jala Vodyut Nigam Power Development Company, a subsidiary of Indian government-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, to generate power from the Arun-3 Hydropower Project that is located in Nepal.
Nepal grants power generation licence to Indian company:
i. The licence was granted in accordance with the decision taken at the 30th meeting of IBN’s board of directors chaired by Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on 28th April 2018.
ii. The company has paid Nepali Rupees 5 million as licence fee to the board. Indian government has approved investment of Rs 57.24 billion proposed by SJVN in Arun-3 Hydropower Project.
iii. Arun-3 Hydropower Project is an export-oriented project. It will sell the electricity to India.
About SJVN Limited:
♦ Chairman cum Managing Director – Nand Lal Sharma
♦ Corporate Office – Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

BANKING & FINANCE

India fastest growing economy at 7.4 per cent in 2018: IMF
As per International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook report released on May 8, 2018, India will be the fastest growing major economy in 2018, clocking a growth rate of 7.4 per cent.
India fastest growing economy at 7.4 per cent in 2018: IMFOutlook of Indian Economy, IMF:
i. As per IMF, Indian economy is recovering from after effects of demonetisation in November 2016 and roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017.
ii. IMF reiterated that medium-term prospects for Indian economy remains positive and growth rate is expected to rise to 7.8 per cent in 2019.
iii. Consumer Price Indexinflation is projected to be five per cent in 2018 and 2019.
iv. On account of increased inflation pressure, IMF is of the view that monetary policy should maintain a tightening bias
Quick Facts about International Monetary Fund (IMF):
♦ 
Founded in – 1945
♦ Headquarters – Washington D.C., US
♦ Current Managing Director – Christine Lagarde

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

TRAI releases draft of telecom interconnection regulations
On 8th May 2018, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released the draft amendment of telecommunication interconnection regulations.
TRAI releases draft of telecom interconnection regulationsTRAI releases draft of telecom interconnection regulations:
i. As per the draft, TRAI has set time-frame for provisioning of ports for initial interconnection and augmentation to be increased to a maximum 42 working days.
ii. The draft said a service provider may request the other service provider for additional ports at a Point of Interconection (POI), if the projected utilisation of the capacity of such POI at the end of 60 days from the date of placing the request, would be more than 85 %.
iii. Such projected utilisation of the capacity of POI will be determined based on daily traffic for the preceding 60 days at the POI during busy hour.
iv. TRAI said that, each service provider can offer its forecast of busy hour outgoing traffic for each POI, once in every six months, to the interconnecting service provider.
v. The first such forecast can be provided within 60 days of the release of “The Telecom Interconnection (Amendment) Regulations, 2018” and after that on 1st April and 1st October every year.
vi. Port charges and infrastructure charges for all ports offered before 1st February 2018 shall remain to be payable as per the terms and conditions which were applicable to them before 1st February 2018.
About Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI):
♦ Chairman – R S Sharma
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

NASA, Uber team up to make flying cars a reality
On 8th May 2018, Uber and NASA announced that they are tying up to simulate flying taxis in urban areas.
NASA, Uber team up to make flying cars a reality:
i. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Uber have signed an agreement to explore the implementation of flying taxis in US cities.
ii. NASA said that it will start simulations for the “urban air mobility” vehicles. The urban air mobility vehicles also include delivery drones.
iii. This announcement was made at the Uber Elevate summit in Los Angeles. NASA has said that, the aim is to develop a rideshare network using which residents can hail a small aircraft like how Uber users now hire a car using the app.
iv. NASA said that, the simulations have been planned at its research facility at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
About National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
♦ Administrator – Jim Bridenstine
♦ Headquarters – Washington, D.C., U.S.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Narendra Modi Among Top 10 Most Powerful People In The World: Forbes
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured a place among the 10 most powerful people in the world in Forbes’ 2018 list of the world’s most powerful people that was released on 8th May 2018.
Narendra Modi Among Top 10 Most Powerful People In The World: ForbesForbes’ 2018 list of the world’s most powerful people:
i. The list is topped by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the only Indian businessman who has appeared in the list. He has obtained 32nd rank.
ii. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured ninth rank on Forbes’ 2018 list of the world’s most powerful people.
iii. Russian President Vladimir Putin is in 2nd positionUS President Donald Trump has secured third rank.
iv. The list features a total of 75 people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been ranked 13. British Prime Minister Theresa May occupies 14thrank.
v. Apple CEO Tim Cook is in 24th rank. Indian-origin Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is in 40th place.
vi. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud has been ranked 8th. US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is in 11th rank.
About Forbes:
♦ Category – Business magazine
♦ Based in – New York City, United States

Nisha Bhalla conferred with WEF 2018 award
Nisha Bhalla, a holistic coach and consultant from Mumbai was felicitated at the recently concluded Annual Women Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 Awards.
Nisha Bhalla conferred with WEF 2018 awardMore information about Nisha Bhalla:
i. At Annual WEF 2018 Awards, held in New Delhi from 26th April to 1st May 2018, Nisha Bhalla was presented the ‘Excellent Woman of Excellence’ award for her spiritual service. 
ii. Nisha conducts holistic courses at her institute ‘Sai Institute of Kosmic Sciences’ in Mumbai. In past, she has received several national level awards in this field.
iii. Women Economic Forum is the largest global gathering of women entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide.
iv. Annual WEF Awards recognises the most successful women across all fields.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Carlos Alvarado is sworn in as Costa Rica’s 48th president
On May 8, 2018, Journalist Carlos Alvarado was sworn in as Costa Rica’s 48th President.
Carlos Alvarado is sworn in as Costa Rica’s 48th presidentAbout Carlos Alvarado:
i. First round of Presidential election in Costa Rica was held in February 2018, followed by a runoff election.
ii. In the runoff election, Carlos Alvarado of the ruling Citizens’ Action Party got 60.8 per cent of the votes while his opponent, Fabricio Alvarado of the National Restoration party managed to secure only 39.2 percent votes.
iii. During the inauguration ceremony in Costa Rica capital, San Jose, Alvarado accepted the sash of office from his predecessor and ally, Luis Guillermo Solis.
iv. During election campaign, Carlos Alvarado, the former labour minister spoke in favour of same-sex marriage. In his first speech post being sworn-in, he stated that he intends to improve employment, education and health and fight poverty.
Quick facts about Costa Rica:
♦ Capital – San Jose
♦ Currency – Costa Rican colon
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador

Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha gets extension till 2019
On 7th May 2018, government gave one year extension to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha till June 2019.
Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha gets extension till 2019Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha gets extension till 2019:
i. P.K. Sinha will be the Cabinet Secretary till the next Lok Sabha elections. He was appointed as Cabinet Secretary in May 2015 for a two-year term.
ii. He took charge as Cabinet Secretary in 13 June 2015. He had been given one-year extension in 2017.
iii. He had replaced Ajit Seth. Pradeep Kumar Sinha is a 1977-batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre.
iv. Earlier he was Power Secretary. He had also worked in various ministries like Shipping and Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Some important lakes in India:
♦ Sursagar Lake – Gujarat
♦ Thol Lake – Gujarat
♦ Vastrapur Lake – Gujarat

AQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Walmart acquires Flipkart for $16 billion, world’s largest ecommerce deal
Walmart Inc will acquire a 77 percent holding in Flipkart Group for $16 billion.
Walmart acquires Flipkart for $16 billion, world's largest ecommerce dealWalmart acquires Flipkart for $16 billion:
i. Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and other shareholders will hold the remaining shares.
ii. Japan’s Softbank will exit Flipkart by selling entire 20 per cent stake to Walmart. Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal will exit Flipkart by selling his 5.5 % stake to Walmart.
iii. This is said to be the largest-ever deal in e-commerce. It is said that, Flipkart will maintain a separate brand and operating structure.
About Walmart:
♦ President & CEO – Doug McMillon
♦ Based in – United States

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Google officially launches Things, its IoT platform
Google has announced the launch of Android Things, Google’s IoT platform.
Google officially launches Things, its IoT platformAndroid Things:
i. Android Things is for developers who want to build connected devices. Android Things offers hardware and software developers all the necessary SDKs (software development kit) to build all types of IoT devices.
ii. Google has partnered with various hardware manufacturers to provide developer kits.
iii. It also offers a developer console that enables managing devices and pushing over-the-air updates to both prototype and production devices.
iv. The main aim is to provide give hardware manufacturers a managed operating system and certified hardware.
v. Google has said that it will provide stability fixes and security patches for three years, and will also offer extended support.
vi. Google also announced support for new System-on-Modules for Things based on the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624 and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms.
About Google:
♦ CEO – Sundar Pichai
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.

China launches new satellite Gaofen-5 to monitor air pollution
On8thMay,2018; China successfully launched Gaofen-5, a hyper-spectral imaging satellite, as part of the country’s high- resolution Earth observation project.
China launches new satellite Gaofen-5 to monitor air pollutionChina launches new satellite to monitor Air Pollution:
i. The Gaofen-5 satellite was launched off the back of a Long March 4C rocketfrom the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in northern Shanxi Province.
ii. The satellite, launched as part of its high-resolution Earth observation project, was developed and produced by China Aerospace Science andTechnology Corporationcan be used for comprehensive environmental monitoring.
iii. It can dynamically reflect the state of air pollution in China through the monitoring of air pollutants, greenhouse gases, and aerosols and it can detect inland water, land surface environment and altered minerals, providing reliable data for China’s environmental monitoring, resource exploration and disaster prevention and mitigation.
iv. It is the 274th flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket and has a designed life of eight years.
v. It is the world’s first full-spectrum hyperspectralsatellite for comprehensive observation of the atmosphere and the land.
Quick Facts about China:
♦ Capital city: Beijing
♦ Currency/monetary unit: Renminbi/Yuan
♦ President: Xi Jinping

Rajasthan institute comes up with new sheep insemination technique
Scientists at the Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI), Rajasthan, have come up with a new laparascope-assisted insemination technique for sheep.
New insemination technique for sheep:
i. This new technique has resolved the difficulties involved in freezing of semen and inability to transit the complex reproductive tract of the ruminant mammals.
ii. The technique involves passing a rigid fibre-optic laparoscope into the abdomen through a small incision. The reproductive tract is located through camera and the frozen semen is deposited into the uterus.
iii. Scientists at CSWRI have claimed that new technique would help achieve up to 60% survival in the birth of lambs and would enable to inseminate as many as 40 females from a single ejaculate.
Quick facts about Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI):
♦ Established in – 1962
♦ Located in – Avikanagar, Tonk District, Rajasthan

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Athletics Day 2018
ON May 7th, “The World Athletics Day” was observed all over the world.
World Athletics Day 2018:
i. World Athletics Day is celebrated every year to popularize sports among the youth, to promote athletics as the primary sport in schools and institutions and to encourage and introduce new talents and youngsters in the field of athletics.
ii.  The International Association of Athletics federation is the international governing body for the sports of athletics with headquarter at Monaco.
Some Famous Athletes of the world:
♦ Anju bobby George (India)
♦ P.T Usha (India)
♦ Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
♦ Mo Farah (U.S)