Current Affairs 03-Jan-2018

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Current Affairs 03-Jan-2018

Category : Current Affairs

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

  1. Cabinet Approvals on January 3, 2018

On January 3, 2018, Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modiapproved following bilateral agreements and initiatives:

Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing

This agreement envisages regulation of the existing free movement rights for people residing in the border areas of both countries.

  • Besides, it will also facilitate trans-border movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between Indian and Myanmar.
  • This agreement will not only strengthen people-to-people ties but will also provide a boost to the economy of the North Eastern India.

Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Italy on cooperation in the field of renewable energy

This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on October 30, 2017 in New Delhi.Approvals

  • Through this MoU, India and Italy will strive to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to facilitate technical bilateral cooperation in renewable energy sector.
  • A Joint Working Committee will be established to review, monitor and discuss matters relating to areas of cooperation enlisted in this MoU.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Israel on Cooperation in the Oil and Gas Sector

This MoU is expected to strengthen India – Israel ties in the energy sector.

  • The MoU envisages promotion of investments in each other’s countries, technology transfer and Research & Development in energy sector.
  • Joint studies, collaboration in the area of Start-ups and capacity building of human resources have also been covered under the scope of this MoU.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Belgium on Cooperation in the field of ICT&E

This MoU was signed on November 7, 2017 during the State Visit of King Philippe of the Belgium to India.

  • The MoU envisages cooperation between India and Belgium in sharing of best practices in the areas of Information Communication Technology and Electronics (ICT&E), e-Governance, e-Public Service Delivery, exchange of experts and cyber security.
  • In context of this news, it is important to note that Belgium has expertise in the Communication Technology sector especially in the field of e-Governance and Tax on web.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and ‘Transport for London’

Union Cabinet has approved signing and implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and ‘Transport for London’.

  • ‘Transport for London’ is a statutory body established under the Greater London Authority Act, 1999 (UK) to improve Public Transport in India.
  • This MoU will help to improve the overall public transport system in India. Besides it will also promote the use of high capacity buses in India.

Cabinet approves revised Model Concession Agreement for PPP Projects in Major Ports

Union Cabinet has approved the revised model concession agreement for public private partnership (PPP) projects in major ports.

  • The model concession agreement has been amended to make the port projects more investor-friendly and to make investment climate in the port sector more attractive.
  • The amendment has stipulated that a Society for Affordable Redressal of Disputes – Ports (SAROD-PORTS) will be constituted, that shall serve as a dispute resolution mechanism.
  • Developers will now be able to exit the project after completion of 2 years by way of divesting their equity up to 100 per cent.

Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS in Bilaspur

The new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) will be set up at cost of Rs.1351 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

  • The new AIIMS in Bilaspur will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds, trauma center facilities, Medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year and Nursing college with an intake of 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) students per year.
  • It will also have 20 Speciality/Super-Speciality Departments including 15 Operation theatres and AYUSH department with 30 beds.
  • Under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), AIIMS on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna.

Cabinet approves Rs 6809-cr Zojila tunnel project in J-K

The Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall.

  • Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway.
  • The project includes 14.15 km long 2-lane bi – directional tunnel with 14.2 km long Parallel Escape (Egress) Tunnel.
  • This project will be implemented by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) under Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

2. Parliament passes Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code Amendment Bill

On January 2, 2018, Indian Parliament passed Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017 as it was passed by Rajya Sabha. This amendment bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2017. It replaces the ordinance that was promulgated in November 2017.

Some of the Key Provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2017:
Insolvency Bankruptcy Code Amendment Bill.

  • Undischarged insolvent, wilful defaulters and those whose accounts have been classified as non-performing assets have been declared as ineligible for being a resolution applicant.
  • The provision not only restricts such persons to participate in the resolution or liquidation process, but also stipulates that Committee of Creditors (CoC) should ensure the viability and feasibility of the resolution plan before approving it.
  • During liquidation process, property of a defaulter cannot be sold to such person who is ineligible to be a resolution applicant as per above stated parameters.
  • Violations of the norms will attract fine ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 crore.

Parliament passes bill to raise NABARD’s capital to Rs 30000 crore

On January 2, 2018, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was passed in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote. This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.

  • The bill seeks to increase NABARD’s authorised capital to Rs 30000 crore from the current level of Rs. 5000 crore.
  • Besides, Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) 0.4 percent equity in NABARD will be transferred to Central Government. Consequentially, 100 percent equity of NABARD will now be with government.

Lok Sabha passes bill allowing construction within 100m radius of heritage monuments

On January 2, 2018, Lok Sabha passed the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill 2017 that permits government to take up infrastructure projects within the 100 metre prohibited area around protected monuments.

  • Minister of State for Culture, Mahesh Sharma justified the bill by stating that the current rule of banning construction in the prohibited areas was adversely affecting various public works and is hampering developmental projects of the central government.
  • In Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958,’prohibited area’ has been defined as land in the 100-metre radius around a protected monument.
  • It is to be note that there are over 3600 such protected monuments and sites across India.

3. Haryana to implement solar-based micro irrigation schemes in all districts
On January 2, 2018, Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar directed the state irrigation department to implement the integrated solar-based micro irrigation scheme in all districts of Haryana.
More information about Haryana Government’s integrated solar-based micro irrigation scheme:
i. Mr. Khattar has constituted a committee headed by Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) chairman to form a strategy to execute this scheme.
ii. Currently, solar-based micro irrigation scheme is being implemented on pilot basis across 13 districts of Haryana at a cost of Rs 24.65 crore.
iii. This scheme will save electricity and water and will thereby prove to be economical for farmers.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Important National Park – Sultanpur National Park

4. Uttar Pradesh theme state for Surajkund crafts mela
On 1st January 2018, Haryana tourism department announced that Uttar Pradesh is the theme state for the 32nd Surajkund International Crafts Mela, to be held at Surajkund, Faridabad, from 2nd to 15th February 2018.SurajkundSurajkund crafts mela theme state – Uttar Pradesh:
i. All Indian states and around 24 countries are expected to participate in the Surajkund International Crafts Mela.
ii. Haryana tourism minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that, the fair is organized by Haryana Tourism and Surajkund Fair Authority in collaboration with Union ministries of tourism, textiles, culture and external affairs.
iii. It projects Indian handicrafts, handloom, cultural heritage and prosperity of India at global level. The theme state for Surajkund International Crafts Mela 2018 is Uttar Pradesh.
iv. Also, eminent folk artists and cultural groups of national and international repute will conduct programmes at the fair.
Some festivals celebrated in Haryana:
♦ Haryana Day – commemorates the day on which Haryana Tourism Corporation was formed
♦ Pinjore Heritage Festival – held at Pinjore Gardens  to promote the rich cultural and historic tradition of Pinjore region

Tamil Nadu Government launches e-governance policy
On 2nd January 2018, Tamil Nadu Government launched an e-governance policy to help public, government and commercial establishments avail all services through digital medium.
e-governance policy:
i. The e-Governance policy 2017 booklet was released by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswamy. It was received by Tamil Nadu IT Minister M Manikandan.
ii. The e-Governance policy contains guidelines for developing IT infrastructure for the digital initiatives of the government.
iii. This policy lets the government allocate 0.5 % of the total funds in a financial year for digital initiatives and further increase it to 3 % in the next five years.
Recent schemes by Tamil Nadu government:
♦ Free Set Top Boxes Scheme by Arasu Cable TV Corporation
♦ 70,000 Houses for Urban Poor in TamilNadu under PMAY in 5 Years
♦ Tamil Nadu Tatkal Scheme for Free Power Connection for Farmers

Haryana makes Solar Photovoltaic Power plant mandatory for new buildings
The Haryana government has mandated installation of Solar Photovoltaic Power plant in new buildings as per specified norms.
Solar Photovoltaic Power plants in new buildings:
i. This has been done in a move to conserve electricity and use it efficiently. Haryana New and Renewable Energy Department notified that the sectors of Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation should follow the norms.
ii. The guidelines for solar plant installation are as follows:

Type Sanctioned electricity load Solar Photovoltaic Power plant capacity
New residential buildings of minimum 500 square yards (within the limit of municipalities, including Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) sector) 20 KW minimum 1 KW
New residential buildings of minimum 500 square yards (within the limit of municipalities, including Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) sector) Above 20 KW 5 % of the sanctioned electricity load
New private educational institutes, schools, colleges, hostels, technical or vocational educations institutes, universities 30 KW 5 KW peak or 5 % of sanctioned load, whichever is higher
New private hospitals and nursing homes, industrial and commercial establishments, malls, hotels, motels, banquet halls and tourism complexes 50 KW – 1000 KW 10 KW peak or 5 % of sanctioned load
New private hospitals and nursing homes, industrial and commercial establishments, malls, hotels, motels, banquet halls and tourism complexes more than 1000 KW 50 KW peak or 3 % of sanctioned load

Recent schemes of Haryana government:
♦ Bank Loans for Cobblers in Haryana – Differential Rate of Interest (DRI) Scheme
♦ Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana for Farmers in Haryana to Fix Vegetables Base Price
♦ 100 Dial Scheme and Mitra Kaksh in Haryana to Provide Justice on Time

Assam Launches ‘Chah Bagichar Dhan Puraskar Mela 2017-18’ Scheme For Tea Garden Workers
On 2nd January 2018, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched ‘Chah Bagichar Dhan Puraskar Mela 2017-18’ at a function held at Sarbananda Singha auditorium in Tinsukia, Assam.AssamChah Bagichar Dhan Puraskar Mela 2017-18:
i. During the launch Sarbananda Sonowal distributed cheques to beneficiaries. Under this scheme people belonging to tea community who opened bank accounts during demonetisation will be credited Rs 2500 in their accounts.
iii .In the demonetisation period, 6,58,250 tea community members opened bank accounts. Assam government will spend Rs. 182 crore for giving financial incentives to all the account holders.
ii. In the next phase, another 2500 rupees will be credited to accounts which are continuously operated for 6 months from now.
Recent schemes of Assam government:
♦ Tractor Distribution Scheme to Double Farmers Income by 2022
♦ Assam Deen Dayal Divyangjan Sahajya Scheme – Rs 5000 for Person with Disabilities
♦ Sarothi Start Up fund Assam

Famous Dhanu Yatra festival concludes in Odisha
On 2nd January 2018, the Dhanu Yatra festival held in Bargarh district of Odishacame to an end.
Dhanu Yatra:
i. The Dhanu Yatra festival was held for 11 days. It began on 23 December 2017. This festival is based on Krishna Leela and Mathura Vijay.
ii. Bargarh was made to look like Mathura, which is the birthplace and homeland of Lord Krishna. River Jeera was made to resemble river Yamuna. Amapali region was transformed into Gopapura. Various artists from different parts of India performed in the festival.
iii. Sureswar Satpathy is the Chairman of Dhanu Jatra organising committee. He said that, this festival started in 1947-48 to celebrate India’s Independence and to mark the victory of good over evil.
Some classical dance forms of India:
♦ Bharatanatyam – Tamil Nadu
♦ Kathakali – Kerala
♦ Odissi – Odisha
♦ Sattriya – Assam

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Six countries enter United Nations Security Council
On 3rd January 2018, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and the Netherlands joined the United Nations Security Council as non-permanent members.UNSC6 countries joined United Nations Security Council:
i. Ambassadors of the 6 countries placed their flag among flags of the UN Security Council’s 9 other members. The council has 15 members in total.
ii. Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States have permanent seats in the council.
iii. On 31st December 2017, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay left the United Nations Security Council.
About United Nations Security Council (UNSC):
♦ Formation – 1945
♦ Council President – Kairat Umarov
♦ Purpose – maintenance of international peace and security

Pakistan Replaces Dollar with Yuan for Bilateral Trade with China
On 2nd January 2018, the central bank of Pakistan approved the usage of Chinese currency, Yuan, for bilateral trade with China.
Dollar replaced with Yuan for Bilateral Trade with China:
i. This decision has been taken one day after US President Donald Trump announced stopping of all aid to Islamabad. This also indicates the growing bond between Pakistan and China.
ii. Now Pakistan and China might replace US dollar for transactions in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Pakistan clarified that the Pakistani rupee will be continued for domestic usage.
About China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):
♦ Products – Roadways, railways, Special Economic Zones, energy production, mass transit
♦ Established – 2013

BANKING & FINANCE

Govt finalizes Electoral Bonds scheme aimed at cleaning political funding
On January 2, 2018, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley outlined the basic contours of the electoral bonds scheme including their denominations, eligibility and validity.
Details about Electoral Bonds:
i. The electoral bonds scheme was announced during the 2017-18 Union Budget speech of Mr. Jaitley.
ii. This scheme will serve as an alternative to cash donations and is thereby an attempt to make political funding more transparent.
iii. Rather than giving cash donations, donors can buy electoral bonds from specified branches of State Bank of India (SBI) for 10 days each in months of January, April, July and October.
iv. The bonds will be available in Rs.1000, Rs. 10000, Rs. 10 lakh, Rs. 1 crore denominations. These bonds would be valid for 15 days.
v. Political parties that receive these bonds can encash it only through a designated bank account with Election Commission.
vi .At the time of purchasing the bonds, the donor will have to fulfil Know Your Customer (KYC) norms at the bank. However, the bonds will not carry his/her name.

SBI, NABARD tie up to promote joint liability groups in Bengal
State Bank of India (SBI) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) have signed an agreement with five NGOs for the promotion of 2500 joint liability groups (JLGs) in select districts of West Bengal.SBI NABARDi. Informal groups comprising 4-10 members, undertaking similar economic activities, who are willing to jointly bear responsibility to repay loans taken by the group from a bank are referred to as joint liability groups.
ii. SBI has taken this initiative to extend financial assistance to excluded sections of the society, especially small or marginal tenant farmers who do not have a proper title of their farmland.
iii. Through this agreement, financial assistance will be extended to nearly 12500 tenant farmers in Purulia, Paschim Medinipur, Purba Medinipur, Burdwan and North 24 Parganas.
Quick Facts about State Bank of India (SBI):
♦ Renamed in – 1955
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Chairman – Rajnish Kumar

IICA, IPPB sign MoU to provide training on payment banking
On January 2, 2018, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) signed an agreement for the training of IPPB employees in the area of payment banking.
Details about IICA-IPPB MoU:
i. Under this agreement, IICA will not only impart training to IIPB officials/employees but will also provide research support in the area of payment banking.
ii. IPPB is Government of India’s attempt to further “financial inclusion” by providing basic banking services to population that has till date remained outside the ambit of formal banking.
iii. IPPB is well positioned to fulfil this responsibility by leveraging the massive network of post offices across India.
Quick Facts about IPPB:
♦ Incorporated in – August 2016
♦ Commenced Operations in – January 2017
♦ Parent Entity – Department of Posts, Govt. of India

Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank introduces Desktop ATMs in rural India
On January 2, 2018, Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank (APGVB) operationalised its first desktop ATM at Kasibugga in Mandi Bazar in Warangal, Telangana.APGVBDetails about APGVB’s Desktop ATMs:
i. The mini-ATM has been installed within the branch premises and will facilitate customers to withdraw small amounts. The regular bank account holders too can withdraw money from this desktop ATM and conduct other banking activities.
ii. The desktop ATM has low power requirements and is designed to work in harsh climatic conditions. It is specifically meant for rural customer who typically have small cash needs.
iii. APGVB has laid out plans to install 100 such desktop ATMs in different busy branches. 60 of them will be in Telangana State and 40 in AP branches.
Quick Facts about Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank:
♦ Founded in – 2006
♦ Headquarters – Warangal
♦ Sponsor Bank – State Bank of India (SBI)
♦ Current Chairman – V. Narasi Reddy
♦ Tagline – ‘We are with you!’

NABARD sanctioned Rs 372.51 crore to Odisha
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs 372.51 crore loan assistance to Odisha for irrigation and rural bridge projects, that are to be undertaken during Jan- March 2017 period.
i. This loan has been sanctioned under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
ii. Out of this amount, Rs 130.17 crore will be used for carrying out work on 17322 lift irrigation projects including bore wells, shallow tube wells, digging wells and micro river lifts.
iii. These projects will provide assured irrigation to about 36440 hectares of agricultural land and will directly benefit about 40000 farmers across Odisha.
iv. Rs. 242.34 will be spent on 14 Rural Bridge Projects under Biju Setu Yojana. These bridges would add 6222.89 metres of bridge length, benefiting about 4.56 lakh population in 322 villages of the state.
Quick Facts about NABARD:
♦ Established in – 1982
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current Chairman – Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala

BUSINESS

RIL commissions world’s largest refinery off-gas cracker at Jamnagar
On 2nd January 2018, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) announced that, it has commissioned and achieved design throughput of the world’s largest refinery off the gas cracker atJamnagar.RILRIL commissions world’s largest refinery off-gas cracker:
i. Reliance Industries Ltd stated that, this refinery will have a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum along with downstream plants and utilities.
ii. It said that, the facility uses off-gases from  two refineries of RIL at Jamnagar as feedstock. This will enable sustainable cost reduction.
About Reliance Industries Limited (RIL):
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairman & MD – Mukesh Ambani

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

JNPT wins “Samudra Manthan – Caring Organisation of the Year” award
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has won “Samudra Manthan-Caring Organisation of the Year” award.JNPTSamudra Manthan:
i. “Samudra Manthan-Caring Organisation of the Year” award was organised by Bhandarkar Shipping.  Bhandarkar Shipping is an important publication of the maritime industry.
ii. The objective of this award is to create healthy competition in the maritime sector. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) is India’s number one container port in terms of volume and efficiency.
iii. The Shipping corporation of India, MSC Crewing and DP world were among the finalists for the award.
About Jawaharlal Nehru Port:
♦ Location – east of Mumbai
♦ Operated by – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna appointed as Deputy NSA
On 3rd January 2018, Rajinder Khanna was appointed the Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA).
Rajinder Khanna – Deputy NSA:
i. Rajinder Khanna is a former chief of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). He has been appointed as the Deputy NSA on re-employment and contractual basis.
ii. He is currently Officer on Special Duty (Neighbourhood Studies) in the National Security Council Secretariat. The purpose of Neighbourhood Studies is to prepare policy papers of neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
About RAW (Research and Analysis Wing):
♦ Secretary (Research) – Anil Dhasmana
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

Salman Khan appointed as brand ambassador of Emami’s edible oil brands
On 2nd January 2018, Emami Group announced actor Salman Khan as the brand ambassador for its edible oil brands.SalmanSalman Khan – Brand ambassador of Emami’s edible oil brands:
i. Salman Khan will work with Amitabh Bachchan in promoting Emami’s edible oil brands. Emami Healthy & Tasty, Himani Best Choice and Rasoi are Emami’s edible oil brands.
ii. Other actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Shahid Kapoor and Sania Mirza promote Emami products.
About Emami Group:
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ Founders – R S Agarwal, R S Goenka

AB Mathur appointed Government interlocutor for talks with ULFA
On 2nd January 2018, the central government appointed AB Mathur as interlocutor on its behalf to hold talks with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
AB Mathur – Government interlocutor for talks with ULFA:
i. AB Mathur is an IPS officer of the 1975 batch. He is the former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
ii. Earlier he worked with the Intelligence Bureau (IB). ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) functions in Assam. It fights for sovereign Assam.AB MathurAbout Intelligence Bureau (IB):
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Director – Rajiv Jain

OBITUARY

R Margabandu, the noted politician passed away
On 28th December 2017, R Margabandu, former Rajya Sabha member passed away.
Death of R Margabandu:
i. R Margabandu was 83 years old. He was an advocate by profession.
ii. He represented Tamil Nadu in Rajya Sabha from July 1995 to July 2001. He lead AIADMK party in Rajya Sabha.
About Rajya Sabha:
♦ Chairman – Venkaiah Naidu
♦ Leader of the House – Arun Jaitley
♦ Leader of the Opposition – Ghulam Nabi Azad

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