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Narendra Modi Cabinet reshuffle with 9 New Faces as Ministers
On September 3,2017, the cabinet got extended and reshuffled for the third time. Modi expanded his council of ministers twice–first on November 9, 2014 and then on July 5, 2016. Nine new Ministers of state were inducted into the Union Council of Ministers. Four Ministers of state were elevated to the cabinet rank.
Ministers of State who got into Cabinet Rank: –
The ministers promoted were Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman.
1) Nirmala Sitharaman
She is promoted to ministry of defence. She is the first full time independent women defence minister. Prior to her, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi held the defence portfolio as an additional charge on two occasions. Prior to her defence ministry was under Arun Jaitley now he sheds Defence and will retain the Finance Ministry. He will however attend an international meeting of Defence Ministers in Japan.
Commerce and Industries department which was held by Nirmala sitharaman is now transferred to Suresh Prabhu who exits as railway minister.
2) Piyush goyal
The railway department which was held by suresh prabhu is now transferred to Piyush Goyal. Apart from Railways, Piyush Goyal retains the ministry of coal.
3) Dharmendra Pradhan
Dharmendra Pradhan, now cabinet minister, will continue to have charge of Petroleum and Natural Gas and will also be minister for skill development and entrepreneurship, which Rajiv Pratap Rudy gave up two days ago.
4) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Minority Affairs Minister Muqtar Abbas Naqvi continues in his departments as a Cabinet minister.
New members to the Cabinet : –
1) Shiv Pratap Shukla
- Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla is a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh. He is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development.
- He served as a Cabinet Minister in the Uttar Pradesh government for 8 years, and is known for his work in Rural Development, Education and Prison reform during his tenure.
2) Ashwini Kumar Choubey
- Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey is a Lok Sabha MP from Buxar, Bihar. He is member of the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates and Standing Committee on Energy. He is also a Member of Central Silk Board.
- Ashwini Kumar Choubey has been elected for 5 consecutive terms to the Bihar Legislative Assembly. He has held important portfolios including Health, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering as a Cabinet Minister of the Government of Bihar for 8 years.
- Having faced the disastrous Kedarnath floods with his family in 2013, Ashwini Kumar Choubey has authored a book Kedarnath Trasadi on the tragedy.
3) Virendra Kumar
- Shri Virendra Kumar is a Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgah, Madhya Pradesh. He has had a distinguished career in Public Service as a 6 term Lok Sabha MP.
- Virendra Kumar is the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, and has been Chairman of the Joint Committee on Office of Profit and a Member of National Social Security Board.
4) Anantkumar Hegde
- Shri Anantkumar Hegde is a Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada, Karnataka. He is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and Human Resource Development.
- Having been elected as an MP for the first time at the young age of 28 years, Anantkumar Hedge is now a 5th term Lok Sabha MP.
- He has also been a member of the Spices Board of India for 4 terms.
5) Raj Kumar Singh
- Shri Raj Kumar Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Arrah, Bihar. He is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Health and Family Welfare, Personnel, Pensions and Public Grievances and Law & Justice.
6)Hardeep Singh Puri
- Shri Hardeep Puri is a decorated former IFS officer of the 1974 batch, known for his experience and expertise in foreign policy and national security.
- Hardeep Puri is the President and Chairman of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) think tank, and was the Vice President of International Peace Institute, New York.
7) Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
- Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is a Lok Sabha MP from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Chairperson of the Fellowship Committee.
8) Satya Pal Singh
- Shri Satya Pal Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. He is a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs and Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Offices of Profit.
9) Alphons Kannanthanam
- Shri Alphons Kannanthanam is a distinguished former IAS officer of the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre. He is also a practicing advocate…..click here to view complete detail
Environment Ministry to Launch ‘Prakriti Khoj’ – An Environment Quiz on Teachers’ Day
Environment Ministry will launch an environment awareness initiative. Under which an online environmental quiz competition named “Prakriti Khoj” an Environment Quiz to be conducted at the national level.
i.The quiz is being launched on 5th of September on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.
ii.It aims to motivate them towards effective participation in other major programmes related to conservation and protection of the Ministry.
iii.This quiz will provide a unique platform for students to measure their awareness level regarding environmental issues.
iv.The objective of the quiz is to generate interest among school children about the science related to environment, interactions within it and the problems therein.
v.A separate webportal – www.ngc.nic.in containing information on the quiz has been developed by Ministry.
vi.The mode of quiz will be online through multiple choice questions.
vii.Dates of the quiz will be updated on the Prakriti Khoj portal, as well as the Ministry’s website. The students from Eco-clubs specially registered on the portal will be able to participate in the qualification round from September 18, 2017 onwards.
viii.Quiz will be organized in school premises under the supervision of Principals/Eco-club Coordinators.
ix.There will be cash prizes for the winners. All participants will receive an E-certificate of participation, duly signed by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
x.This will help in sensitizing the children and youth to issues related to environment and development and motivate children towards environment conservation-oriented lifestyles.
xi.The quiz is planned in two phases. For the first phase, it is anticipated that maximum number of children of schools under the National Green Corps (NGC) programme of the Ministry should get an opportunity to participate in this environmental quiz.
xii.NGC was initiated by Ministry in 2001-02 for creating environmental awareness among children by formulating “Eco-clubs” in schools across the country.
xiii.Three age groups is planned to be covered in Phase-I which will be open only to Eco-clubs i.e. in the age-groups 8-12 years, 13-15 years and 16-18 years.
xiv.The second phase of the quiz will be open to students from all schools across the country in the year 2018.
North Korea’s 6th nuke test 9.8 times powerful than 5th: S Korea
The “artificial quake” in North Korea thought to be its sixth nuclear test was five to six times more powerful than the fifth nuclear test.
i.As per the South’s Yonhap news agency reported it was 9.8 times more powerful than the tremor from Pyongyang’s fifth test.
ii.Japan said the explosion was ten times the strength of Pyongyang’s test last September, while reports in South Korea said it was up to five times more powerful than the Nagasaki bomb in 1945.
About North Korea
Supreme leader: Kim-Jong-un
Currency: North Korean Won
Tajikistan bans women from wearing veils
The Tajikistan government has banned its women from wearing veils and Tajikistan government has introduced a legislation, wherein it has asked the women to “stick to traditional national clothes and culture”.
i.The new legislation does not introduce a penalty for breaking the rule, but some have claimed that fines could be introduced at a later date.
ii.Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already banned from entering the country’s government offices.
iii.In the beginning of August, officials approached more than 8,000 women wearing hijabs in the capital of Dushanbe and ordered them to wear their scarves in the Tajik style.
President: Emomali Rahmon
PM: Kokhir Rasulzoda
NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson to return home after 288 days in space
According to the US space agency NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to depart the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth after completing a 288-day long mission.
i.Whitson is completing a 288-day mission that began in November 2016, spanning 122.2 million miles and 4,623 orbits of Earth – her third long-duration stay on the outpost.
ii.Whitson set multiple other records while in orbit such as:
(a) World’s oldest spacewoman, at age 57, and most experienced female spacewalker.
(b) She also became the first woman to command the space station twice following her launch last November.
iii.She had gone up to the station on 17 November 2016, already having an accumulated space time of 377 days.
iv.At the time of their landing, she will have accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career (3 space missions), which is more than any American astronaut till date.
v.The feat would place her at the 8th position on the all-time space endurance list.
vi.Whitson’s expedition crew members, Yurchikhin and Fischer, who were launched in April 2017, would be completing 136 days in space on their return.
vii.Russia’s Yurchikhin will return to Earth with a total accumulated space time of 673 days over the course of 5 missions.
viii.This feat would put him in the 7th place on the all-time endurance list.
ix.The three new astronauts who would be joining the existing ones at the station include NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos.
x.They are scheduled to launch on 12 September from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Five banks of Brics nations sign pact for credit lines
On September 2,2017, five banks of the BRICS Bank Cooperation Mechanism have agreed to establish credit lines in the national currencies and cooperate on credit ratings.
i.The agreement was signed ahead of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in China’s Xiamen city on September 3rd in which leaders of the five countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part.
ii.“Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Vnesheconombank, Export-Import Bank of India, China Development Bank and Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) have signed an agreement to establish credit lines in the national currencies, as well as a memorandum of cooperation on credit ratings,” Russian news agency TASS reported.
iii.The New Development Bank (NDB) of the five nations has approved $1.4 billion loans for sustainable development projects in China, India and Russia. For India, the bank has approved $470 million loan for Madhya Pradesh’s Multi-Village Rural Drinking Water Supply Scheme Project.
India-ETFA to hold FTA talks
India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) will meet this month in order to conclude their long pending negotiations on FTA (Free Trade Agreement). Nirmala Sitharaman said that India would look into “every concern” of foreign investors on intellectual property rights (IPR) and investment protection.
The proposed FTA agreement covers trade in goods and services, investments, trade facilitation, customs cooperation, IRPR protection and public procurement. The talks started in 2008 and so far, 16 rounds of negotiations have taken place. The two sides resumed talks on the agreement here in January 2017 in Malbun, Liechtenstein after a gap of three years. The India-EFTA bilateral trade was worth $19 billion in 2016-17, which was lower than the trade value of $21.5 billion in 2015-16.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA): –
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
- The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an intergovernmental organisation set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its four Member States Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
- EFTA was founded by the Stockholm Convention in 1960.It was established as an economic counterbalance to the more politically driven European Economic Community (EEC) (EEC was formed by treaty of Rome. It is one of the parent organisations of European Union).
- EFTA is not a customs union and member states have full rights to enter into bilateral agreements with a third-country, it does have a co-ordinated trade policy. As a result, its member states have jointly concluded free trade agreements with the EU and a number of other countries
Appointments & Resigns
Nirmala Sitharaman becomes India’s first women new Defence Minister
Nirmala Sitharaman was named the first independent woman Defence Minister of India announced on 3rd of Sept 2017.
i.The post of the defence minister fell vacant after Manohar Parrikar joined Goa state politics to become the chief minister of the state. Following this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took over.
ii.Sitharaman, who earlier held the independent charge of the commerce and industry ministry will now be part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
iii.Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first woman to hold the portfolio as the additional charge till 1982.
Kenneth I. Juster named U.S ambassador to India
The United States has announced on 3rd of Sept. the name of economic policy maker and expert on India, Kenneth I Juster, as the next US ambassador to India.
i.The position of ambassador to India, has been lying vacant since January 20, when Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
ii.Juster has previously served as Under Secretary of Commerce from 2001-2005, Counselor (acting) of the State Department from 1992-1993, and deputy and senior adviser to the Deputy Secretary of State from 1989-1992.
iii. Juster holds a law degree from the Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard College.
iv.He has also served as Chairman of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and as Vice Chairman of The Asia Foundation.
v. In the private sector, he has been a partner at the investment firm Warburg Pincus LLC, Executive Vice President at com, and senior partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was appointed the new sports minister
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has appointed as the country’s Youth Affairs and Sports Minister announced on 3rd of sept. 2017.
i.He has succeeded Vijay Goyal as the Sports Minister and is the first sportsperson to become the head of the Sports Ministry.
ii.Rathore joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2013 and was sworn in as minister of state for information & broadcasting when the Modi government came to power in May, 2014.
iii.He is the first Indian shooter to win an Olympic medal after his silver at the 2004 Athens Games.
iv.He also has three gold medals from the Commonwealth Games to his name from 2002 and 2006, along with a silver.
v.In 2004 and 2006, he won two World Championship golds as well in Sydney and Cairo respectively.
Hockey India sacks chief coach Oltmans
Hockey India fired national coach Roelant Oltmans after a string of unimpressive outings at the international level on 2nd of Sept 2017.
i.Currently, Director David John will be taken charge in the interim, including the upcoming Asia Cup next month.
ii.The decision was taken during the three-day meeting of the Hockey India High Performance and Development Committee.
iii.The committee included over 24 members that included former players, current team members Sardar Singh, P.R. Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh and several other members.
iv.Oltmans had first taken charge of the Indian team temporarily just before the 2013 Asia Cup after Australian Michael Nobbs had been removed.
Ancient Buddhist site from 1st century discovered in Andhra Pradesh
On august 28,2017 , Archaeologists in Andhra Pradesh have discovered an ancient Buddhist site that dates back to 1st century AD , in Guntur district, in Putlagudem village of Achampet mandal.
i. Dr E Sivanagi Reddy , CEO of Culture Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA) found the site. The site had six limestone pillars with half lotus medallions and depicted animals and patterns. He informed that these structures dates back to satavahana rule.
ii. Just last week, one of the prime Buddhist tourist spots in the state in Ghantasala village in Krishna district, was all set to receive a boost, with a Rs 1,500 crore project.
iii. “The new facility will be themed on the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha. A two-storied structure in Buddhist architecture resembling a pedestal with a 100-ft wide and 70-ft high Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana posture will be a major highlight,” Executive Director of the AP Tourism Development Corporation Mallikarjuna Rao.
iv. There are also plans for a ‘Buddhist circuit’ being drafted by the AP Tourism and Culture Department Under Swadesh Darshan scheme.
Science & Technology
Goa CM Manohar Parrikar launches grievance redressal portal
On September 1,2017 Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar launched an online portal for redressal of public grievances — aimed at addressing complaints within 30 days. The portal www.goaonline.gov.in can be accessed after providing basic information like name, address, mobile number, Aadhaar number, date of birth, email id, etc.
i.After registration, the citizens can login using their credentials and enter the details of their grievance and mentiNorth Koreaon the concerned department towards whom it is addressed. Those with registered grievances will be informed of the status of their complaints via SMS and emails.
FDA approves First gene-altering leukemia treatment
The Food and Drug Administration has approved its first gene therapy drug in the United States that will treat childhood leukemia.
i.Novartis drug Kymriah works by genetically modifying pediatric and young adult patients’ blood cells to attack cancer cells in blood and bone marrow.
ii. It will be used in patients under the age of 25 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were unresponsive to initial treatment.
iii.Kymriah is a cell-based gene therapy. The therapy is a genetically-modified autologous T-cell immunotherapy.
iv.According to the National Cancer Institute approximately 3,100 patients aged 20 or younger are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer in the United States, each year.
v.Each dose of Kymriah contains a patient’s own immune cells, which are sent to a lab to be genetically modified using a virus.
vi.This therapy, known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T), gives the cells the ability to recognize and kill the source of the cancer.
vii.The patient’s T-cells are collected and sent to a manufacturing centre where they are genetically modified to include a new gene that contains a specific protein that directs the T-cells to target and kill leukaemia cells that have a specific antigen (CD19) on the surface.
viii.Once the cells are modified, they are infused back into the patient to kill the cancer cells.
ix.The safety and efficacy of Kymriah were demonstrated in one multicenter clinical trial of 63 pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed B-cell precursor ALL.
“Government issues alert on spread of ‘Locky Ransomware’
The government has issued an alert on spread of new malware ‘Locky Ransomware’ that can lock computers and demand ransom for unlocking them.
i.Ransomware is a malicious software and the Locky Ransomware is learnt to be demanding ransom of half bitcoin, which at present rate is equivalent to over Rs 1.5 lakh.
ii.A new wave of spam mails is circulating with common subject lines to spread variants of Locky Ransomware.
iii.According to the reports that over 23 million messages have been sent in this campaign.
iv.The system infected by Locky Ransomware is getting locked or encrypted with random numbers with “extension [dot] lukitus or [dot] diablo6.
v.To target users, spams showing links to fake dropbox websites is being used to spread Locky variants.
vi.Users are advised to exercise caution while opening e-mails and organisations are advised to deploy anti-spam solutions and update spam block lists.
Intel unveils AI-focused ‘Movidius Myriad X’ processing unit
Intel has introduced a new vision processing unit (VPU) called Movidius Myriad X. The new Intel VPU is aimed at providing end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to a wide range of product categories such as smart cameras, virtual reality (VR) devices, robotics and even drones.
i.Myriad X is the world’s first system-on-chip (SOC) shipping with a dedicated neural compute engine for accelerating deep learning inferences at the edge.
ii.The Myriad X architecture is capable of 1 Trillion operations per second (TOPS) of compute performance on deep neural network inferences.
iii.It is capable of delivering more than 4 TOPS of total performance, its tiny form factor and on-board processing are ideal for autonomous device solutions.
iv.Myriad X uniquely combines imaging, visual processing and deep learning inference in real time with:
v.Programmable 128-bit VLIW Vector Processors: Run multiple imaging and vision application pipelines simultaneously with the flexibility of 16 vector processors optimized for computer vision workloads.
vi.Increased Configurable MIPI Lanes: Connect up to 8 HD resolution RGB cameras directly to Myriad X with its 16 MIPI lanes included in its rich set of interfaces, to support up to 700 million pixels per second of image signal processing throughput.
vii.Enhanced Vision Accelerators: Utilize over 20 hardware accelerators to perform tasks such as optical flow and stereo depth without introducing additional compute overhead.
vii.2.5 MB of Homogenous On-Chip Memory: The centralized on-chip memory architecture allows for up to 450 GB per second of internal bandwidth, minimizing latency and reducing power consumption by minimizing off-chip data transfer.
Bharadwaj finishes runners-up at India Junior GP
Young Indian shuttler Rahul Bharadwaj is defeated by top seed Thai Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the men’s singles. He finish runners-up at the India Junior International Grand Prix on 3rd Sept 2017.
i.In a 33 minute contest Bharadwaj blew a 6-2 lead in the first game to eventually go down 16-21 11-21 to the Thailand shuttler.
MS Dhoni has become the first wicketkeeper to effect 100 stumpings in ODI cricket
MS Dhoni reached a record of 100 stumpings in One-Day Internationals during his 301st match, as India played Sri Lanka in the fifth ODI of the five-match series at Colombo.
i.Dhoni surpassed former Sri Lankan wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara, who had 99 stumpings in 404 matches.
ii.Dhoni, recently, became the sixth Indian player to play 300 matches in the 50-over format.
iii.He joined the elite club comprising of Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh.
iv.Dhoni has also played 90 Tests and 77 T20 Internationals.
v.In 90 Tests, Dhoni has taken 256 catches and effected 38 stumpings while his T20 Internationals’ catches/stumping record stands at 43/23.