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National Current Affairs
Defence Ministry clears proposal to procure 6 Apache attack helicopters for Army
The Union Defence Ministry has cleared a proposal to procure six AH-64-E Apache attack helicopters along with weapons systems from American aerospace giant Boeing for the Indian Army. Decision in this regard was taken at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi. DAC is Defence Ministry’s highest decision-making body on procurement.
Decision taken by DAC
AH-64-E Apache attack helicopters: The six will come along with associated equipment, spares and weapons system. It will be a follow on order to the deal India had signed in September 2015 with Boeing and the US government for 22 Apache helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers.
The AH-64-E Apache choppers are one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters which have advanced weapons systems and night-fighting features. Till now, Indian Army was not having its own fleet attack helicopter. Army was using the fleet of Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters with the help Indian Air Force.
Purchasing gas turbines: DAC also cleared another proposal for buying gas turbines from Ukraine for two Admiral Grigorovich class ships being made in Russia for India..
Navika Sagar Parikrama: Indian Navy’s all-woman team to circumnavigate globe
A six-member all-woman team of the Indian Navy will set sail to circumnavigate the globe on the sailing vessel INSV Tarini. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-woman crew.
The expedition has been aptly titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’ with an aim to promote women empowerment in the country and ocean sailing by the Indian Navy.
The voyage of Navika Sagar Parikrama will begin from Goa in the first week of September 2017 and culminate on their return in March 2018. The entire distance will be covered in five legs, with stop overs at four ports Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands) and Cape Town (South Africa) for replenishment of ration and repairs as necessary. The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Indian Navy while depicting Union Government’s thrust for ‘Nari Shakti’ i.e. empowering women.
INSV Tarini INSV Tarini is a 55 foot sailing vessel has been built indigenously by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa. It was inducted into the Indian Navy in February 2017. INSV Tarini is the sister vessel of INSV Mhadei. Its mast is 25 metres and has been custom-built by M/s Southern Spars, Cape Town (South Africa), for sailing in extreme conditions. It carries a suite of six sails, including a main sail, head sails (Genoa and stay sails), downwind sails and storm sail. It has Raymarine navigation suite and an array of satellite communication systems on board through which contact can be made from anywhere.
The first Indian solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Captain (Retd) Dilip Donde from August 2009 to May 2010 onboard the Indian built vessel, INSV Mhadei. The first Indian non-stop solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Cdr Abhilash Tomy from November 2012 to March 2013.
Central govt approves nearly Rs.32k crore plan for boosting Coast Guard capabilities
Central Government has approved a nearly Rs 32,000 crore “definitive five-year action programme” for the Indian Coast Guard to enhance its capability in maintaining vigil on coastal waters.
Salient Features of Action Plan for Indian Coast Guard:
- The action plan to give a boost to the Coast Guard in terms of infrastructure and equipment like offshore patrol vessels, interceptor boats, helicopters, aircraft and critical operational infrastructure was cleared at a meeting chaired by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra earlier this month.
- Coast Guard currently has 130 “surface units” in the shape of 60 ships (offshore patrol vessels, fast patrol vessels and pollution-control vessels), 18 hovercrafts, and 52 smaller interceptor boats/crafts. The “air units”, in turn, are limited to 39 Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft, 19 Chetak choppers and four Dhruv advanced light helicopters.
“Champions of Change” initiative organised by NITI Aayog
The Prime Minister has interacted with Young Entrepreneurs at the “Champions of Change” initiative organised by NITI Aayog at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra.
- The Prime Minister described the “Champions of Change”initiative as one effort to bring together diverse strengths for the benefit of the nation and society.
- Six groups of Young Entrepreneurs made presentations before the PM on themes such as – Soft Power: Incredible India 2.0; Education and Skill Development; Health and Nutrition; Energizing a sustainable tomorrow; and Digital India; New India by 2022.champions of change
- This initiative would be taken forward and institutionalized in the best possible way.
- The team of senior officers in Union Government is keen to explore new avenues and ways for the betterment of people.
- PM also encouraged the entrepreneurs to continue their ideation in their respective groups.
- Several Union Ministers, Vice Chairman NITI Aayog Shri Arvind Panagariya, and senior Union Government officers were present on the occasion.
- Theevent was coordinated by CEO NITI Aayog, Shri Amitabh Kant.
Government launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali Campaign
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Dr. Harsh Vardhan has launched the “Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali” campaign on 17th August 2017.
The campaign was launched with an aim to reduce adverse environmental conditions especially pollution in the country after post Diwali celebrations due to excessive bursting of crackers which contributes significantly to air and noise pollution. .
Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali Campaign.
The campaign aims at enlightening the children about harmful fire crackers. It will motivate children to not to buy fire crackers, instead buy a gift, food items, or sweets for poor and underprivileged children living in their locality. Under this campaign, the MoEFCC will undertake various activities for creating awareness among various stakeholders and encourage people to participate in combating air pollution.
Some of the activities will include promoting Green Diwali among school children include stickers/logo distribution, advertisement on public ransport systems, poster competition, public appeal using Radio. Social media campaign will be also undertaken uder it. Moreover an online video competition will be conducted, where any individual or organisation can make a video on the theme ‘Pollution Free Diwali’.
The weather after the post 2016 Diwali celebrations in Delhi and NCR saw extreme pollution due to excessive bursting of crackers. The adverse air pollution in Delhi and NCR had reached beyond permissable levels that led Government to declare emergency situation in the national capital, which led to closing down of schools, construction sites and power stations.
India’s first World Peace University inaugurated in MIT, Pune
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has inaugurated Dr.Vishwanath Karad MIT World Peace University (MITWPU).
- At the inauguration function he emphasized on the importance of values in education.
- MIT World Peace University is an entirely new concept and a model for moulding global citizens.
- The inauguration ceremony was held at the Swami Vivekananda Mandap at the MIT World Peace University’s Kothrud Campus.
- It is to be the first of its kind in India, was inaugurated by chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, on 12th August.
- It is a two-day ‘Global Summit Science and Spirituality for World Peace’ issues were discussed on national and international importance and how a different outlook towards education could solve many of them.
- On education as the solution, G Madhavan Nair, former ISRO chief has said that the responsibility lies with the academic community to solve the problems of the country.
- Education is the only solution for all the terrorist activities and the ill happenings around us.
- With this opportunity provided by the Maharashtra Universities Act, it has given a chance to universities from Pune to create a world class education complex.
Government bans Export of Gold Items Above 22-Carat Purity
The government has banned exports of gold jewellery, medallions and other articles above 22- carat purity in a bid to check round stumbling of the precious metal.
- India is the world’s second-biggest gold consumer after China. The imports mainly take care of demand by the jewellery industry.
- The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has mentioned certain provisions of the foreign trade policy (2015-20) are amended:
- To allow export of gold jewellery (plain or studded) and articles containing gold of 8 carats and above up to a maximum limit of 22 carats only from domestic tariff area and export-oriented units, electronics hardware technology parks, software technology parks and bio technology parks.
- According to an official of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), some exporters were availing of export incentives by claiming export of gold items of above 22 carat purity with some value addition.
- Export of gold jewellery, medallions and other articles of the precious metal above 22 carat purity is not permitted by any exporter, including from these parks, which are meant for sector-specific shipments.
- The DGFT also stated that only those exporters can avail of incentives who are shipping gold jewellery and other articles containing gold of 8 carats and up to a maximum limit of 22 carats and not beyond.
- This decision will not impact shipment of gold jewellery as there is significantly less demand for these items in the international market.
- The decision came at a time when Indian gold jewellery traders have raised concerns over a surge in gold imports from South Korea.
- Gold import from South Korea jumped to USD 338.6 million during 1st July and 3rd August in 2017. The import in 2016-17 stood at 470.46 million.
- Imports now attract only 3% integrated GST.
US, Japan vow to boost defence cooperation with India, S Korea, Australia
The US and Japan have agreed to advance their multilateral security and defence cooperation with countries like India, South Korea and Australia, amidst Chinas growing assertiveness in the Asia Pacific region.
Highlights of Defence Cooperation Meeting between US & Japan:
- On August 17, 2017, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,US Defence Secretary James Mattis, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera jointly addressed a news conference in Washington, US.
- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned that US and Japan will cooperate to advance trilateral and multilateral security and defence cooperation with other partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
- During the meeting the ministers underscored the importance of cooperating to promote a rules-based international order, taking note of the United States continued commitment to maintain a strong presence in the region and Japans initiatives demonstrated by its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
Saudi Arabia to open Salwa border point to Qatari pilgrims for Haj
Saudi Arabia is going to open up its border and airports for those attending the annual Haj pilgrimage announced on 17th of August 2017.
- Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced that the Salwa border point would be open for Qataris performing the Haj, which this year runs from late August to early September.
- About 120 Qatari pilgrims had entered Saudi territory through Salwa, which was opened for the first time since the four-nation boycott of Qatar began.saudi
- Qatari pilgrims can cross the frontier without the permits usually needed to be obtained in advance for the haj.
- The Saudi king has ordered the dispatch of a Saudi Airlines plane to fly Qatari pilgrims to Jeddah at his own expense.
- Qatari pilgrims would also be able to pass through two of the kingdom’s airports.
About Saudi Arabia
- Capital: Riyadh
- Currency: Saudi Riyal
Qatar launches new direct sea route to Pakistan
Qatar has launched a new direct route between the country’s Hamad Port and Pakistan’s port of Karachi.
- The new route was launched on 12th of August 2017. It will boost trade between the two countries.
- It will also offer “fast and secure” corridor for importers and exporters, with transit time of six days from Qatar to Karachi and eight days back.
- It will cover new important ports from around the world and will play an important role in supporting trade between Qatar and its partners of the world.
- The new shipping line provides more options for customers, exporters and importers from both countries.
- Capital: Doha
- Currency: Riyal
- Official Language: Arabic
Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to study at Oxford
Pakistani Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai will study at Oxford University.
- The 20-year-old will study philosophy, politics and economics. In April, she became the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace.
- Malala was nearly killed by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for girls’ rights to education in 2012.
- She became internationally known after the incident and relocated with her family to Birmingham for further rehabilitation.
- In 2014, at the age of 17 Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and has since become a symbol for the fight for human rights and education.
- Notable Oxford alumni include Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Myanmar’s pro-democracy campaigner Aung San SuuKyi as well as former British Prime Minister David Cameron and his one-time Labour opponent Ed Miliband.
About Oxford University
- The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiateresearch university located in Oxford, England.
- Chancellor: Chris Patten
- Vice-Chancellor: Louise Richardson
Banking & Finance
Axis Bank to waive 12 EMIs on home loans under Shubh Aarambh scheme
Under the new scheme Shubh Aarambh Home Loans Axis Bank will waive 12 equated monthly installments (EMIs) on regular repayments of loans of up to Rs 30 lakh.
- The lender has introduced Shubh Aarambh Home Loans, in which 12 EMIs are waived 4 EMIs each after the fourth, eighth and 12th year from the date of the first disbursement.
- The waiver will be in the form of reduction in tenure.
- The loans can be used to purchase an under-construction, ready, resale house, self-construction, and a plot plus construction.
- Customers also have the option to transfer existing home loans to Axis Bank without additional cost.
- Earlier, the bank had introducedAsha home loan for low-income groups. 35,000 families have availed of the scheme.
About Axis Bank
- Axis Bank Ltd is the third largest of the private-sector banks in India offering a comprehensive suite of financial products. The bank has its head office in Mumbai and Registered office in Ahmedabad.
- Founded: 1993
- MD & CEO: Shikha Sharma
- Chairman: Sanjiv Misra
Awards & Recognition
Dr Nanda Kumar Jairam bags FICCI’s Healthcare Personality award
- Dr Nanda Kumar Jairam, CEO, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia Hospitals, India, has been awarded the ‘Healthcare Personality of the Year’ award.
- The Healthcare Excellence Awards by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is an attempt to recognise the contributions of those who have set benchmarks of excellence in the healthcare space.
- Dr Jairam was given the award at the ninth Healthcare Excellence Awards instituted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The programme is supported by the Quality Council of India.
5 Indian-origin persons in Fortune’s annual ‘ 40 Under 40’ list
Five Indian-origin persons, including Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, have featured in Fortunes annual list of 40 young and influential people in the field of business inspiring others with their work.
- Fortunes 2017 40 Under 40 list is an annual ranking of the most influential young people who are under 40 in business.
- The magazine calls these people as “disruptors, innovators, rebels and artists.
- The list has been topped by French President Emmanuel Macron. He is 39 years old.
- The Indian-origin persons on the list including Leo Varadkar are 26-year-old Divya Nag, Rishi Shah (31) and ShradhaAgarwal (32) and CEO and founder of non-profit Samasource 31-year-old Leila Janah.
- The list also includes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on the second spot.
Appointments & Resigns
Vishal Sikka resigns as MD & CEO of Infosys; U B PravinRao takes over as Interim
Vishal Sikka has resigned from his post as Managing Director and CEO of Infosys on 18th of August 2017.
- His resignation was accepted during a board meeting on 18th August.
- U B Pravin Rao has been appointed as the interim MD and CEO of the company.
- U B Pravin Rao, is currently the chairperson of Infosys BPO and have an experience of 30 years.
- He oversees the key functions of global sales, global delivery and business enabling functions.
- Rao is also the chairperson of Infosys BPO and he joined Infosys in 1986 and has held a number of senior leadership roles.
- He is also a member of the national council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the executive council of National Association of Software and Services Companies or Nasscom.
- Infosys Limited (formerly Infosys Technologies Limited) is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services. It has its headquarters in Bengaluru, India.
- Founded: 7 July 1981.
Neymar named goodwill ambassador for Handicap International
Neymar, after his first win with Paris St. Germain and his world-record signing for the club became a goodwill ambassador for Handicap International on 15th of August 2017.
- He pledged to work for millions who are “less visible” but deserve equality.
- Neymar Jr from Brazil is the world’s most expensive footballer.
- The first action of Neymar Jr. as an ambassador of Handicap International was to send a message of support to people with disabilities across the world.
- He went on the top of the 39-foot Broken Chair monument and called for more inclusion of people with disabilities in society.
- Broken Chair is the work of the Swiss artist Daniel Berset. It was erected 20 years ago by
- Handicap International in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to call for a ban on antipersonnel landmines.
- Neymar is Handicap International’s first International Ambassador.
Science & Technology
Scientists develops artificial womb to save premature babies
Scientists have developed an artificial womb that can be used in future to save the lives of extremely premature human babies. It was successfully used to incubate healthy baby lambs for a week.
The research showed that preterm lambs were successfully maintained in a healthy, infection-free condition with significant growth, for a period of one week using ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) therapy.
The artificial womb is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. To mimic a womb, researchers had created a temperature-controlled bag filled with electrolyte solution as a substitute for amniotic fluid that lambs swallow and take into their lungs. They had attached the umbilical cord of preterm lamb to the device that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen. In early-stage animal testing, the lamb appeared to grow normally inside the system.
The artificial wombs can facilitate development of premature babies in a uterus-like environment. Further development, EVE therapy can prevent the severe morbidity suffered by extremely premature infants. It can potentially offer a medical technology that does not currently exist
BSNL launches digital wallet powered by MobiKwik
State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) went digital by launching a bespoke mobile wallet (mobile payment App) on 17th of August 2017.
- This digital wallet was launched at an event by Manoj Sinha, Minister for Telecommunications in the capital.
- The wallet has been developed and issued by MobiKwik on behalf of BSNL.
- It would enable its existing 100 million customers to make Bill payments and transact on e-commerce platforms.
- MobiKwik is an Indian company founded in 2009 that provides a mobile phone based payment system and digital wallet.
- Customers add money to an online wallet that can be used for payments.
- In 2013 the Reserve Bank of India authorized the company’s use of the MobiKwik wallet
- In May 2016 the company began providing small loans to consumers as part of its service.
- Founded on April 2009
- Founder: Bipin Preet Singh, UpasanaTaku
- Headquarters: Gurgaon, India
NHAI launches MyFASTag and FASTag Partner mobile apps
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) launched two mobile Apps – MyFASTag and FASTag Partner in to facilitate the availability of FASTags for Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) project.
The mobile apps will ease the process, making it possible to buy or recharge FASTags easier using mobile button.
MyFASTag: It is a consumer application that will facilitate consumer to purchase or recharge FASTags on it. It also helps to keep track of transactions and provides for online grievance redressal.
FASTag Partner: It is a merchant application. It will allow agencies like Common Services Centre (CSC), banking partners and vehicle dealers to sell and enroll FASTag . In addition, it can be also used to activate dormant RFID tags built in 74 lakh cars in the country following the 2013 Gazette Notification in this regard. This application will aid to convert these RFID tags into FASTag (ETC Tag).
NHAI has announced complete rollout of FASTags for ETC on all 371 NHAI toll plazas from 1 September 2017. One lane in every toll plaza will be a dedicated FASTag lane where no other form of payment will be accepted. In order to enable the availability of FASTags for ETC, NHAI has taken two steps in consultation with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). They are online and offline sale of sale of FASTags through Common Services Centre (CSC) near toll plazas. Even FASTags can now be purchased online from Issuer Banks websites, NHAI website and will be delivered by courier at the door step of the purchaser.
Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)
It is electronic payment system on highway tolls that does not have human involvement. ETC systems use vehicle-to-roadside communication technologies to perform an electronic monetary transaction between vehicle and toll collection agency. It aims to make travel more convenient, faster and environment friendly for people.
FASTag is a radio frequency identification device that enables cashless transaction at toll plazas without stopping the vehicle at the toll plazas. It employs RFID technology for making toll payments directly from the pre-paid account linked to it. This system aims to remove logistic inefficiencies at toll plazas and has the potential of saving Rs 60,000 crore in terms of time and fuel bills.
About MyFASTag Partner:
‘FASTag Partner’ is for those who vend/sell the tag. Banks, including mobile wallets, provide FASTags.
Climate change costs India $10 billion every year: Government
Union Agriculture Ministry in its recent report to a parliamentary committee has revealed that extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually and climate change is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century.
Climate Change & Its Impact on Agriculture in Future:
- The agriculture ministry said productivity decrease of major crops would be marginal in the next few years but could rise to as much as 10-40% by 2100 unless farming adapts to climate change-induced changes in weather.
- Wheat, rice, oilseeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables will see reduced yields over the years, forcing farmers to either adapt to challenges of climate change or face the risk of getting poorer. Adaptation will need different cropping patterns and suitable inputs to compensate yield fluctuations.
- The possibility of a further dip due to climate change will be particularly worrying as it could turn India into a major importer of oilseeds, pulses and even milk.
- Extreme weather events are not always linked to climate change but research shows that their frequency and severity is increasing and this is being increasingly read as fallout of climate change.
Asteroid Florence to pass safely by Earth on September 1: NASA
As per National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a large near-Earth sized asteroid named ‘Asteroid Florence’ will pass safely by our planet on September 1, 2017 at a distance of about seven million kilometres.
About ‘Asteroid Florence’:
- Asteroid Florence – named in honour of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing – is about 4 kilometres in size, according to measurements from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the asteroids and comets hunting NEOWISE mission.
- Asteroid Florence was discovered by Schelte “Bobby” Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in March 1981.
- Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA programme to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.
- Florence will brighten to ninth magnitude in late August and early September, when it will be visible in small telescopes for several nights as it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus.
- The 2017 encounter is the closest by this asteroid since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500.
Indian athletes bag record 37 medals at World Dwarf Games
On the 7th World Dwarf Games the 21-member Indian contingent hold a record of 37 medals. It was held in Toronto, Canada.
- India had won 15 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals in the World Dwarf Games.
- All the 21 members of the team were dressed in the blue national kit on Independence Day.
- There was total participation of nearly 400 athletes from 24 countries.
- The 7th edition of the World Dwarf Games was held over a week at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
- Joby Matthew is one of the Indian athletes at the World Dwarf Games, where he won six medals, including two golds three silvers and a bronze.
- Arunachalam Nalini, who won five medals, including one gold.
- CV Rajanna won the gold in the 200 metre sprint event.
- Devappa More won the 100 metre race and becoming the fastest man at the event.
Indian Shuttler Lakhsyasen wins Bulgaria Open International Series
Young Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen has won the Bulgaria Open International Series title on 16th of August 2017.
- He has defeated Croatia’s Zvonimir Durkinjak in the Men’s singles final in Sofia, Bulgaria.
- He has won over Zvonimir by 18-21 21-12 21-17 points in a 57-minute match.
- He had beaten Sri Lanka’s Dinuka Karunaratna by 21-19 21-14 points in the semi-finals.
- In 2016, the Indian had won the India International Series and clinched a bronze at the CPB Badminton and Sports Science Training Center in Thailand.
- In next month time, he will be playing Vietnam Grand Prix and then it would be junior World championship.
About Bulgaria Open International Series:
The Bulgarian International in badminton is an international open held in Bulgaria since 1985. The tournament belongs to the EBU Circuit
Veteran photographer S Paul passed away
Veteran photographer S Paul passed away in New Delhi. He was 88.
About S Paul
- Paul was born on 19 August, 1929 in Jhang, Pakistan. He had moved to India after Partition after his family shifted to Shimla. His younger brother, Raghu Rai is also a renowned photographer.
- He received recognition and fame as a professional photographer after his pictures were selected for publication in three renowned British publications Miniature Camera, Amateur Photographer and Miniature Camera World.
Paul was the first Indian to be profiled by The British Journal of Photography in 1967. He was the first Indian to win the Nikon International Photo Contest in 1971. Famous B &W Magazine of US had described him as ‘The Henry Cartier-Bresson of India’