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National Current Affairs
Bill to fix minimum wage for unorganized sector introduced in Lok Sabha
Code on Wages 2017 Bill that seeks to fix a national minimum wage was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 10, 2017. Introducing the Bill, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said, Code on Wages Bill will consolidate and amend the laws relating to wages and bonus.
- The Code offers for the government to determine the minimum wages every five years using factors like skills required for the job, arduousness of work, geographical location of work place and other aspects.
- The Bill seeks to unite four laws — the Payment of Wages Act 1936, the Minimum Wages Act 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act 1976.
- The Code stipulates that the wages are to be paid in coin or currency notes or by cheque or through digital or electronic mode or by crediting the wages in the bank account of the employee.
- The government may specify industrial or other establishment where the salary will be paid only through cheque or digital mode.
- The Bill will help 40 crore unorganised sector workers to avail the universal minimum wage.
Govt launches Indian National Anthem video in sign language
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has launched a new video of the National Anthem in sign language, featuring disabled and partially disabled children announced on 10th of August 2017.
- It is directed by veteran filmmaker Govind Nihalani. The 3-minute video features film star Amitabh Bachchan along with physically challenged children performing the anthem in sign language with the Red Fort in the background.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the physically challenged “divyang” and not “viklang” to ensure there was no distinction.
- The Minister also mentioned that we should create an environment where such persons are able to “earn a livelihood and live an independent life like any other citizen”.
- The government’s decision is to increase reservation in government vacancies from 3% to 4% for persons with benchmark disability.
- The video was also launched in Goa, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Kolhapur.
Telangana launches Smart Streets Lab
To improve road safety in Hyderabad with the use of technology, the Government of Telangana, along with World Resources Institute (WRI) India Ross Center, has announced the launch of Smart Streets Lab program.
About Smart Streets Lab Program:
- The Lab will pilot innovative road-safety and women safety solutions and leverage new developments in technology and IT to transform the streets of Hyderabad.
- As a part of the initiative, an online challenge seeking applications (till September 1, 2017) for projects designed to make Hyderabad’s streets ‘smart’ was announced.
- It seeks applications (from any organization, start-up etc) for innovations that are infrastructure independent and easy to integrate into the existing system.
- 10 projects will be selected, and will undergo a training programme with the Indian School of Business (ISB).
Economic Survey proposes Transparency of Rules Act
The Second volume of Economic Survey 2016-17 has proposed Transparency of Rules Act (TORA), a progressive legislation to end any asymmetry of information regarding rules and regulations faced by an average citizen.
- The objective of TORA is to help citizens overcome an opaque mesh of complicated rules that often leads to corruption and endless litigation.
- At present due to opaque mesh of regulations prevalent in India make life of ordinary citizens (as well as businesses) difficult as it is not easy for ordinary citizens for them to navigate the multitude of rules, regulations, forms, taxes and procedures imposed by various tiers of government. Moreover, these rules frequently change and sometimes contradict each other. Even government officials struggle to keep up with ‘the latest version’ of complicated rules. They also act as a magnet for corruption and endless litigation.
Key Features of TORA
- TORA will require all government departments to mandatorily place all citizen-friendly rules on their website. Government Officials will not be able to impose any rule not mentioned beforehand. It will make mandatory for updating all existing laws by the department.
- Government websites will also have to notify the date and time of each change made. TORA will normally be applicable after a specified time after the rule has been posted. “TORA compliant” departments will ensure that citizens get authentic and updated information.
- India will benefit enormously if the average citizen could easily access the latest rules and regulations in a comprehensible format. Transparency of Rules Act (TORA) will be a possible solution for this.
Economic Survey 2016-17 Volume II: Agriculture and Food Management Reforms Measures
The Economic Survey 2016-17 Volume II released recently has taken into consideration various challenges faced by the Agriculture sector in India. It has suggested multi-dimensional Agricultural and Food Management Reforms Measures.
- Small Operational Land Holdings: The average farm size in India is small and declining since 1970-71. It is a major limitation to reap the benefits of economies of scale in agriculture operations.
- Credit: The predominance of informal sources of credit for farmers is a concern. Moreover, there is regional disparity in the distribution of agricultural credit.
- Post- harvest losses: The horticulture sector in India faces problems like post-harvest losses, availability of quality planting material and lack of market access for horticultural produce of small farmers.
- Price risks in agriculture and allied sectors: Strengthening and building marketing infrastructure along the entire value chain.
- Production risks: The share of irrigated area should be expanded by increasing the coverage of water saving irrigation systems like micro irrigation systems.
- Increase productivity of crops: Standards should be set and enforced for better quality, pest and disease resistant seeds.
- Trade and domestic policy changes: It should be announced well before sowing and should stay till arrivals and procurement is over.
- Enhance women’s involvement in the dairy projects: Funds should be earmarked through appropriate mechanisms.
- Formal and institutional credit: It should be provided in timely and affordable manner to the small and marginal farmers is the key to inclusive growth. Regime based on timely interventions needs to be adopted.
Odisha government and Facebook launches ‘SheMeansBusiness’ programme
Odisha government and social networking giant Facebook has launched ‘SheMeansBusiness’ programme to train women entrepreneurs in the state.
- It was launched in partnership between Odisha’s MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) department and Project Mission Shakti.
- Under this initiative, 25, 000 women entrepreneurs and self-help group (SHG) members from the state will be given training on digital marketing skills within by the end of 2018. Facebook will monitor the growth of the MSMEs in Odisha after imparting training to them in next one year.
- It will also prepare a data base of the MSMEs through registrations in which they will take the email ids and mobile numbers of entrepreneurs in all the workshops.
- The programme has been launched in 16 countries around the world including India. It is designed to reach out to aspiring and established women entrepreneurs to help them build and grow their business online.
MCX gets SEBI approval to launch India’s first gold options contract
Commodity derivatives bourse Multi Commodity Exchange Ltd (MCX) has received markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) approval to launch India’s first gold options contract.
- The gold futures contract will have bi-monthly duration. The option will also have the existing gold kilo futures contract as its underlier.
- The launch of gold options is one of the major reforms SEBI has taken for the commodity derivatives market. Earlier in June 2017, SEBI had allowed options trading in commodities to deepen the market but permitted each exchange to launch options on futures of only one commodity initially.
- SEBI is going to put strict eligibility criteria and options could be launched on futures contract of only those commodities that are among the top five in terms of total trading turnover value of previous 12 months. It also has stipulated necessary guidelines with regard to the product design and risk management framework to be adopted for trading in options on commodity futures.
About Multi Commodity Exchange Ltd (MCX)
- The MCX is the country’s largest metals and energy commodity bourse. It is country’s first listed commodity futures exchange that facilitates online trading, and clearing and settlement of commodity futures transactions, thereby providing a platform for risk management.
- It began functioning in November 2003 and operates within the regulatory framework of the Forward Contracts Regulation Act, 1952 (FCRA, 1952). It offers futures trading in bullion, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, energy, and a number of agricultural commodities (mentha oil, cardamom, potatoes, palm oil and others). Globally, MCX ranks no. 1 in silver, no. 2 in natural gas, no. 3 in crude oil and gold in futures trading.
Indian Coast Guard Ship Shaurya commissioned in Goa
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Shaurya was commission in Vasco, Goa. ICGS Shaurya is an offshore patrol vessel designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL).It will be based at Chennai under administrative and operational control of Commander Coast Guard Region (East).
About ICGS Shaurya
- ICGS Shaurya is fifth of a series of six OPVs designed in-house and built by GSL. It is 105-metre long and capable of cruising at a speed of 23 knots. It has a range of 6000 nautical miles.
- It is powered by twin diesel engines and carries four boats for boarding party operations. It is fitted with state-of-the-art advanced navigation and communication equipment. Its weaponry package has one 30 mm gun and two 12.7 mm guns associated with fire control system.
- The ship has capacity to carry twin engine light helicopter and five high speed boats including quick response interceptor boats for quick boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. It is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to combat oil spill contamination.
Pakistan’s ‘Mother Teresa’ Dr Ruth pfau dies
Dr Ruth Pfau, a German doctor popularly known as Pakistan’s ‘Mother Teresa’ for dedicating her life to eradicate leprosy in the country passed away on August 10, 2017 in Karachi.
Dr Ruth Pfau’s efforts in eradicating Leprosy from Pakistan:
- She was born in 1929 in Germany and lived through the horrors of the World War II.
- Pfau first visited Pakistan in 1960 and was so touched by the plight of leprosy victims that she decided to stay forever in the country to treat them.
- She founded the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi in 1962 and later set up its branches in all provinces of Pakistan, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and treated over 50,000 families.
- Due to her tireless efforts, the World Health Organisation in 1996 declared Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to be free of leprosy.
- She was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz — Pakistan’s second highest civilian award — in 1979, the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989.
Indian-American appointed to chair US energy commission
US President Donald Trump had appointed Indian-American Neil Chatterjee as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- Previously, Chatterjee had been an energy policy advisor to US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
- The Indian American Neil was last week confirmed as a member of the FERC.
BANKING & FINANCE
Canara Bank launches two new digital services
- On August 10, 2017, Canara Bank unveiled two new digital services for online payments. Bharat QR (Quick Response) for payment settlement at merchant locations and Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), an integrated bill payment system for net banking customers.
- Bharat QR (Quick Response): It is a mobile application, which enables a merchant to accept payments as settlement for sale of goods or services. The service product rides on VISA/MasterCard/RuPay cards and holders need not divulge card information to merchants.
- Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS): It is an initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and is managed by the National Payments Corp of India (NPCI). It offers bill payment services to the bank’s net banking customers with network of agents.
Quick Facts about Canara Bank:
- Founded in: 1906
- Headquarters: Bengaluru
- Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints and BhartiAirtel – Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most innovative companies.
- Three Indian firms namely Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints and BhartiAirtel are among Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 most innovative companies.
- com has replaced Tesla Motors on the top position. BhartiAirtel has entered the ranking at 78th position.
- HUL and Asian Paints have moved up in their ranks to 7th and 8threspectively (from 31st and 18th last year).
- HUL recorded an innovation premium of 68.59%; Asian Paints (68.28%) and BhartiAirtel (41.4%).
- Among others in the top 10 are — Amazon.com (3rd position), Shanghai RAAS Blood Products (4th), Netflix (5th), Incyte (6th), Naver (9th) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (10th).
- The annual ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ are the ones that investors expect to be innovative now and in the future.
- To be included in the list, firms need seven years of public financial data and USD 10 billion in market cap.
- According to Forbes, companies are ranked by their innovation premium. The difference between their market capitalisation and the net present value of cash flows from existing businesses.
- Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Sun Pharma and Larsen & Toubro were also on the 2016 list.
- This year these companies failed to make the cut this year, bringing down the total number of Indian firms from five to three.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Gerish Khemani and Akshat Nigam awarded “Hindu playwright Award 2017”
The Hindu Playwright Award 2017 is awarded to Gerish Khemani and Akshat Nigam for their play ‘In Search of DariyaSagar’.
- The playwriting awards was organized by the newspaper The Hindu in Chennai.
- The 2 lakh award was presented to the two playwrights at the 13th edition of The Hindu Theatre festival.
The jury comprised:
- Arshia Sattar who is a well-known author and translator.
- Keval Arora who teaches English Literature and drama at Kirorimal College, Delhi University; and
- Theatre director and documentary filmmaker Sunil Shanbag.
Veteran journalist T J S George bags first-ever Kesari Media Award
Veteran journalist T J S George has bagged for the first Kesari Media Award announced on 11th of August 2017.
- It is instituted by the Kesari Memorial Journalist Trust.
- The award would be given away at a function to be held on 13th August.
- The award comprises a purse of Rs 50,000, citation and a statuette designed by renowned artist Bhatathiri.
- A jury, comprising filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Asianet editor M G Radhakrishnan, Media Academy chairman R S Babu and Kesari Memorial Journalist Trust chairman C Rahim as members, selected the award winner.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
ISRO lines up 21 rockets, to launch 70 satellites in 5 years
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has lined up over 21 rocket launches and will be putting over 70 satellites in space over the next five years.
More Details about ISRO’s upcoming Rocket/Satellite Launches:
- ISRO’s plan to launch 21 rockets in coming years is a part of the Rs 8,658.74 crore sanctioned by the Indian Government to build and launch about 31 rockets, including 15 PSLVs, 13 GSLV’s and three GSLV MK-III.
- Currently, ISRO’s launch vehicles are being used for launching national satellites towards meeting the earth observation, communication, navigation and scientific needs of the country and the excess capacity is being used to launch satellites of other countries.
- India currently uses the Ariane 5 rocket, of Arianespace, the European Space Agency to launch its heavier communication satellites into space.
US scientists develop micropropulsion system based on liquid water
Engineers at Purdue University in the US have designed and tested a micropropulsion system. It is used liquid water as the propellant for orbital maneuvering of tiny satellites called CubeSats.
- CubeSats are miniature satellites that weigh about 2 kilograms.
- In future they are capable to carry out tasks like imaging and remote-sensing.
- Currently they are performed by heavier satellites which are expensive to build and launch.
- CubeSats cannot totally replace their larger counterparts as they are incapable of changing orbit or performing complex manoeuvres.
- CubeSats are usually made up of several units, each unit measuring 10 centimetres on a side.
- In the Purdue research, a single unit CubeSat prototype — integrated with four FEMTA thrusters.
- It is called a “Film-Evaporation MEMS Tunable Array”, or FEMTA thruster, it uses capillaries thinner than human hair through which the propellant water can flow.
- Small heaters located near the ends of the capillaries turn the water into vapor, which, on escape from these tiny tubes, provides the thrust.
- Theminuscule capillaries act like valves that can be turned on and off by activating the heaters.
- The technology is said to be similar to the inkjet printer, which uses heaters that fire dots of ink at the paper.
CSIR-IGIB and NCDC Researchers develop DNA sensor for quick pathogen detection
Researchers form CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have developed an ultra sensitive DNA chip based sensor for quick pathogen detection.
- The senor can detect S. pyogenes, a bacterium which causes a wide range of diseases in about 30 minutes. The conventional method takes 18-24 hours identification of the S. pyogenes.
- The DNA chip based sensor consists of a carbon electrode embedded with gold nanoparticles. By means of a bioinformatics study, researchers were able to design probes which are specific for S. pyogenes. The working electrode surface of the sensor is attached with several small-sized, single-stranded DNA probe specific to the pathogen.
- When patients’ DNA, isolated from throat swabs are placed on the surface of the sensor, they bind to the complementary single-stranded DNA on the device leading to electrochemical change. This is measured using a differential pulse voltammetry.
- Significance: The sensor is highly sensitive and could detect even 60-65 bacteria in a 6 microlitre sample. It could identify the pathogen even at very low concentrations of DNA.The sensor was found to be stable for 12 months with only 10% loss in initial current peak on storage at 4 degree C.
S.pyogenes cause diseases ranging from mild skin and throat infections to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome. If not treated during early stages of the infection, it can even lead to rheumatic heart disease (heart valves damage). It affects 700 million people every year.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Prasoon Joshi appointed as Chairperson of CBFC
- The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry has appointed Prasoon Joshi as the new Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). He will replace Pahlaj Nihalani and shall have tenure of three years.
- Besides, the ministry by exercising its powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 also reconstituted the existing CBFC Board for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier. The new board will be headed by Prasoon Joshi.
- Prasoon Joshi is renowned songwriter-poet known for his contribution to various films and for designing successful ad campaigns. He has been honoured with Padma Shri. He has penned the theme song for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and other campaigns.
About Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
- The CBFC also known as “Censor Board” is a statutory body under Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It grants certificate to regulate the public exhibition of films in India under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.
- The mandate of CBFC is to promote recreation, education, good and healthy entertainment to public according to the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they are certified by the CBFC.
- The CBFC board is headed by central government appointed chairperson and 12-45 non-official members. The members are eminent persons from social science, education, law, arts or films background appointed. Its headquarters are in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected
Kenya’s President President Uhuru Kenyatta has won a second and final five-year term as president.
- Kenyatta, who has been in office since 2013, took 54.3% of the vote, and opposition leader Raila Odinga took 44.7%.
- According to election commission figures nearly 80% of the 19 million registered voters cast their ballots.
- The opposition rejected the results even before they were declared, calling the process a charade.
- A72-year-old former political prisoner Odinga, who has campaigned for the presidency four times, is refusing to accept the results, claiming the vote was hacked.
Gaitri Issar Kumar accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Grand Duchy Luxembourg
Gaitri Issar Kumar an IFS, 1986 presently Ambassador of India to Belgium. She has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Grand Duchy Luxembourg, with residence in Brussels. She is expected to take up the assignment shortly.
- Capital: Luxembourg City
- Prime Minister: Xavier Bettel
- Deputy Prime Minister: Etienne Schneider
- Currency: Euro
Jet Airways appoints Vinay Dube as CEO
Vinay Dube has joined as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jet Airways. Jet Airways has been without a full-time CEO since Cramer Ball quit in February 2016.
- Since the exit of Ball last year, there have been two acting CEOs — Gaurang Shetty and Amit Agarwal.
- Vinay Dube is an Indian American. His appointment was approved by the Jet Airways’ board of directors on May 30, 2017.
- Dube has served in various roles at Delta Airlines, Sabre Inc and American Airlines in the USA, Europe and Asia.
David Rasquinha appointed as Exim Bank MD
David Rasquinha has been appointed as Managing Director of Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) on August 11, 2017.
- Rasquinha is at present Deputy Managing Director of the Exim Bank.
- The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment to the post for three years.
Quick Facts about Exim Bank:
- Founded in: 1982
- Headquarters: Mumbai
Veteran sports journalist Ted Corbett passed away
Ted Corbett passed away on 9th of August in Huntingdon, the UK. He was 82.
- He was born in Birmingham in 1935. Corbett retired from the travelling side of journalism in 2008.
- He also worked as the most envied job in newspapers as cricket correspondent of a national paper.
- The veteran journalist continued to write his weekly columns for The Hindu and the magazine Sportstar well beyond his 80th birthday.
South African Bodybuilder SifisoThabete passed away
South African body builder Sifiso Lungelo Thabete passed away on 12th of August 2017.
- Bodybuilder breaks his neck and died in a freak accident while doing back-flip to show off to crowds during his warm-up.
- Sifiso Lungelo Thabete broke his neck after landing on his head in front of horrified crowd.
- His body failed to gain enough momentum to rotate. Thabethe landed on the back of his head.
- His body then rolled over and he was laid motionless on the mat.
- According to Body Building South Africa, ‘Sifiso had a signature back flip’ he liked to perform on stage.
- He was a former IFBB junior world champion in the up to 75kg category.
World’s oldest man Yisrael Kristal dies at 113
Israeli Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal died at the age of 113 on 11th of August of 2017. Israel Kristal passed away in his hometown of Haifa.
- He was certified in 2016 by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man.
- He was survived by two children, 9 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.
International Youth Day
The International Youth Day was observed on 12 August 2017 across the world.
- The 2017 International Youth day Theme is ‘Youth Building Peace’.
- The International Youth Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 17 December 1999 through its resolution 54/120.
- In 1985, the UN celebrated the first International Year of Youth.
- The Day came into existence through the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in August 1998 that 12 August should be declared International Youth Day.
- The Day is aimed at celebrating young people’s contributions in preventing conflicts and to bring about transformations along with incorporation, social justice and sustainable peace.
- It encourages promoting the active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security.
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies.
- Goal 16 aims to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
Government launches ‘Gaj Yatra’ to mark World Elephant Day
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has launched a nationwide campaign Gaj Yatra to protect elephants. It was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day observed on August 12.
- The ministry also released the All India Census 2017 Report on elephants and Agreed Points of Action on Trans-Boundary Conservation of Elephants by India and Bangladesh.
Gaj Yatra Campaign
- The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states across the country. It is 15 months campaign the will be led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The ‘Gaju’ mascot, which was released by the Ministry in 2012, will be helm of the campaign.
- The campaign aims create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat. During the period of the campaign, artists and craftsmen will create life-size works on the theme of elephants in places along the route of the roadshow using local art and craft. Specially fabricated vehicles will be also deployed to display these on pre-determined routes with campaigners.
World Elephant Day
- The World Elephant Day is observed every year on August 12 to support various stakeholders involved in supporting various conservation policies to protect elephants. It also seeks to support stakeholders involved in improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing captive elephants into sanctuaries.
- The World Elephant Day was conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand. Now it is supported by over 65 wildlife organisations and many individuals in several countries across the globe.
- As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants across the globe. Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” and African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.