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National Current Affairs
NITI Aayog, International Road Federation ink SoI for Intelligent Transportation Systems
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog and International Road Federation (IRF), Geneva have signed Statement of Intent (SoI) to cooperate in field of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).
- The objective of SoI is to create National Platform, involving all relevant Union Government stakeholders, Indian and foreign companies active in sector. It will also create platform for relevant technical experts for developing National ITS Policy.
- The national platform will provide coherent and consistent National ITS Policy.
National ITS Policy
- ITS Policy will be covering Traffic Management, Parking Management, Electronic Enforcement of Traffic Rules and Regulations, Fleet Management and Monitoring, Innovation in the field of ITS and Education in field of ITS.
- Its objective will be to contribute to reduce urban traffic congestion, improving situation around parking of vehicles in cities, improving road safety, and improving security of passenger and goods traffic. It will be also covering domains such as traffic and parking management, enforcement, and security.
International Road federation (IRF)
- The IRF is global non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation with mission to encourage and promote development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads and road networks.
- It was founded in 1948. Its motto is Better Roads. Better World. It is headquartered in Washington, DC, United States.
INS Kalavari: India’s first home built submarine handed over to Indian Navy
India’s first ingenuously built INS Kalavari submarine was handed over to Indian Navy by state-owned Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai, Maharashtra. This is Indian Navy’s first new conventional submarine in two decades. Its induction will be landmark milestone in India’s bid to build its underwater warfare capabilities with an eye on China and Pakistan.
- INS Kalavari is first of six Scorpion class submarines built in India under Project-75 by Mazagon Docks Limited with technology transfer from France’s DCNS (Direction des Constructions Navales Services), a naval shipbuilder.
- It is diesel electric attack submarine named after tiger shark. It is stealth submarine difficult to be detected by the enemy and is designed to operate in all theatres including the tropics. It weighs 1,550 tonnes and is equipped with six 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for launching anti-ship torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and sea mines.
- It can undertake various operations including multifarious warfare, Anti-submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance etc. It can launch attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons and attack can be launched from underwater or on surface. It can launch attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons and attack can be launched from underwater or on surface.
West Bengal gets $300 million loan from ADB for fiscal reforms
On 21st September 2017, ADB announced that it has sanctioned a $ 300 million loan to West Bengal for carrying out fiscal reforms to make public services more accessible, affordable, and high quality.
Loan from ADB for fiscal reforms:
- The reforms would be implemented in a period of 2 years.
- The reforms include linking medium term expenditure plans to actual budgets, strengthening internal audit system and enhancements in the integrated financial management system (IFMS).
- The reforms also include improved tax monitoring and support for information technology systems in tax and land administration.
First National Conference on ‘Mission Mode to address Under-Nutrition’ held in New Delhi
On 19th September 2017, the first National Conference on ‘Mission Mode to address Under-Nutrition’ was held in New Delhi.
National Conference on ‘Mission Mode to address Under-Nutrition’:
- The conference was inaugurated by the Minster of Women & Child Development, Ms.Maneka Gandhi.
- The focus of the conference was ‘Mission Malnutrition Free India-2022’.
- Maneka Gandhi urged to improve the quality of supplementary nutrition and delivery system.
- She said that the focus should be on providing nutrition to people under the scheme instead of loading people with nutrition dense food.
- A separate protocol would be issued for severely and acutely malnourished (SAM) children.
- She also released the book “Forest Lanterns”. It was about improving nutrition for tribal children.
Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurates first ‘Pension Adalat’
Dr Jitendra Singh had inaugurated the first ‘Pension Adalat’ on 20th of Sept. 2017. He will award the Pensioners for their outstanding contribution towards ‘Anubhav’. It is a platform for retiring employees for sharing their experience of working with Government.
- The event is being organized by Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India.
- A workshop on Pre-Retirement Counseling (PRC) of 300 retiring Central Government employees is also scheduled to be held.
- The objective of this workshop is to create awareness about the post-retirement entitlements as well as an advance planning for life after retirement.
- The ANUBHAV AWARDS 2017 will be presented to 17 pensioners for their contribution towards creating institutional memory for the departments.
Indian Army organized Operation Sadbhavana for National Integration
The Indian Army has organized Operation Sadbhavana for National Integration. These operations are carried out by Indian Army in Jammu & Kashmir and North East states respectively. It has been organized on 21st of Sept. 2017.
- Under this, army undertakes various civic action programmes which aimed at winning hearts of the people and integration of the people with the nation.
- The Sadbhavana tour was organised by the 109 Infantry Brigade of the Indian Army.
- Its main aim is to develop trust among and reignite the minds of youth towards national integration.
- Under operation Sadbhavana, recently army sponsored educational and national integration tour for Jammu and Kashmir youths.
India’s first electric bus service launched in Himachal Pradesh
India’s first electric bus service was launched at Rohtang Pass area in Himachal Pradesh. It is first of its kind electric bus service for tourist spot in India and first in world at an altitude of 13,000 feet.
The electric bus service will ply between Manali and Rohtang and there will be 10 electric buses in fleet. It was launched amid concern over environment degradation in Rohtang Pass area due to plying of diesel taxis. The initiative aims to curb carbon emission which is resulting in melting of glaciers in Himalayas.
- Himachal Pradesh Government was forced to introduce zero-emission transportation facility in ecologically fragile areas after National Green Tribunal (NGT) had taken stringent step of imposing restriction on entry of vehicles to Rohtang Pass.
- The entry of vehicles were restricted to 1,000 vehicles per day, including both diesel and petrol vehicles, however, electric and CNG vehicles are exempted.
- Rohtang Pass (elevation 3,978 m) is high mountain pass on eastern Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas around 51 km from Manali.
- It connects the Kullu Valley with Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh.
VASTRA 2017: An International Textile and Apparel Fair 2017 held in Jaipur
The 6th edition of VASTRA– An International Textile and Apparel Fair 2017 (VASTRA 2017) was recently held in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
It was jointly organised by Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation Ltd. (RIICO) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). More than 50 countries and 13 Indian States participated in VASTRA 2017.
- The expo was all-encompassing trade fair and conference on Textiles and Apparel that presented fusion of finest and latest in textile products – from fiber to fashion, services and technology. It aimed at revitalizing existing business ties and forging of new business relations for business opportunities.
- It served as an ideal platform to enter JVs, strategic alliances and partnerships worldwide, launch new products, as well as, harness new locations for setting up businesses in India. It also served as a platform for disseminating technology and interacting with R&D Labs and experts for solution in technology and latest trends.
India’s textiles sector
- India’s textiles sector is one of the oldest industries in Indian economy dating back several centuries.
- Even today, it is one of the largest contributors to India’s exports with approximately 11% of total exports (exports during FY 2015-16 stood at US$ 40 billion).
- It contributes approximately 5% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 14% to overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- It is also labour intensive and is the second largest employer after agriculture.
- Government has allowed 100% FDI in the Indian textiles sector under the automatic route.
International Current Affairs
Dr.Sekhar Basu attended 61st IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria
Dr.Sekhar Basu, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy attended the 61st IAEA General Conference held in Vienna, Austria.
61st IAEA General Conference:
- The 61st Annual IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) General Conference was conducted from 18th – 22nd September 2017 at the Vienna International Centre (VIC) in Vienna, Austria.
- Representatives of IAEA Member States discussed various issues in the Conference.
- Scientific Forums and Exhibitions were also conducted.
India & Sri Lanka sign MoU to upgrade Thondaman Vocational Training Centre in Srilanka
On 20th September 2017, India and Sri Lanka signed a MoU to upgrade Thondaman Vocational Training Centre in Sri Lanka.
MoU to upgrade Thondaman Vocational Training Centre:
- The MoU was signed by Taranjit Singh Sandhu, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and Mrs. R. Nadarasapillai, Secretary, Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development.
- The Thondaman Vocational Training Centre (TVTC) is located in Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka.
- Government of India would provide LKR 199 million to upgrade the training facility.
- The upgradation includes construction of new infrastructure facilities like class rooms, IT lab, auditorium, compound walls and renovation of old buildings.
- Also machinery, equipment and tools for new courses, furniture and vehicles would be provided.
Joint Sea-2017: China, Russia joint naval drills in Russian port city, Vladivostok
On 18th September 2017, China and Russia started the second stage of their “Joint Sea-2017” naval exercises in Vladivostok, Russia.
- The exercises took place in Sea of Japan and the Okhotsk Sea.
- For the first time Naval forces from both countries conducted joint submarine rescue exercises and joint anti-submarine exercises.
- The “Joint Sea” exercises by Chinese and Russian navies were carried out to maintain global peace and regional stability.
China launches world’s fastest bullet train running between Beijing and Shanghai
China has launched world’s fastest bullet train on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway line to 350 kilometres per hour.
- The speed was reduced to 300 kilometres per hour after a major accident in July 2011 that killed 40 people.
- The train called Fuxing, or rejuvenation in Chinese, offers features such as power outlets, USB ports, and free WiFi.
- The new train completes the 1,200-kilometer journey in just under four-and-a-half hours.
- The trains are entirely designed and manufactured in China, led by the China Railway Corporation.
- China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network of over 22,000 kilometers, about 60% of the world’s total.
- China has sold its high-speed trains to Indonesia, Russia, Iran, and India.
Banking & Finance
MSE launches Member Activation Drive, provides infrastructural support, incentives to members
On 20th September 2017, Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSE) launched a Member Activation Drive for its members.
Member Activation Drive:
- MSE introduced a Business Loyalty Program called MY MSE.
- This scheme will provide infrastructural support, incentive schemes and lowest transaction charges on all product contracts to its members.
- The members should satisfy several business and risk mitigating parameters to be eligible for the incentive.
- MSE will reimburse the Clearing Fee paid by its trading members to their clearing members. This will reduce transaction cost for brokers.
- User Id activation fee will be reimbursed for all brokers.
- MSE will focus on expanding the market by identifying the gaps.
About Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSE):
- Headquarters – Mumabai
- Chairperson – Ashima Goyal
- MD & CEO – Udai Kumar
SBI Card to offer pre-approved cards to SBI customers
SBI card is all set to offer pre-approved cards to customers of its parent State Bank of India.
- It has entered into a tripartite agreement with SBI and India’s first credit bureau TransUnion CIBIL to offer pre-approved cards to eligible customers.
- The agreement will allow the credit bureau to check the credentials of SBI customers and SBI Card to leverage the data.
- SBI Card is a joint venture between the SBI and GE Capital, which is set to exit as part of the American giant’s global business revamp.
- SBI Card has co-branded cards with seven banks including Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bank of Maharashtra and private sector South Indian Bank.
- It also has co-branded cards with India’s railway ticketing portal IRCTC. It issues two lakh new cards every month.
- SBI Card has two entities — SBI Cards and Payment Services Private Ltd.
- It mainly focuses on customer acquisition, marketing and risk management and GE Capital Business Processes Management Services Ltd taking care of the technology and processing needs.
State-run PSUs sign MoU to form Khanij Bidesh India Ltd
On 19th September 2017, 3 state run PSUs National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL), signed a MoU to form a joint venture named Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (Kabil).
MoU to form Khanij Bidesh India Ltd:
- Tapan Kumar Chand, CMD of NALCO, Mr.Santosh Sharma, CMD of HCL and Mr.Gopal Dhawan, CMD of MECL signed the MoU in Bhubaneswar.
- Khanij Bidesh India Ltd will identify, explore, acquire, develop and process minerals overseas for commercial use and to meet domestic supply needs.
- It will deal with 12 strategic minerals that are not available in India or available in a very low quantity.
About National Aluminium Company (NALCO):
- Headquarters – Bhubaneswar, Odisha
- Chairman & MD – Dr.T.K.Chand
About Hindustan Copper (HCL):
- Headquarters – Kolkata
- Chairman & MD – Mr.Santosh Sharma
About Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL):
- Headquarters – Nagpur
- Chairman & MD – Mr.Gopal Dhawan
TRAI cuts Mobile Termination Charges by 57% to 6 paise per minute
On 19th September 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) cut mobile termination charges (MTC) by 57% to 6 paise per minute with effect from October 1, 2017.
Mobile Termination Charges (MTC):
- Mobile Termination Charges (MTC) would be completely cut by January 1, 2020.
- MTC is currently 14 paise per minute.
- It is paid by the operator whose subscriber makes a call to the operator whose subscriber receives the call.
- This directly affects the tariff.
- Hence reduction in MTC would lead to reduction in call rates.
- This decision has originated from a dispute between Reliance Jio and other top telecom operators.
- Airtel, Vodafone and Idea insisted on doubling the MTC. Airtel and Vodafone have opposed the decision by saying that any reduction in MTC will destabilize the sector.
India gets its first High Horse Power Locomotive from France
India gets its first High Power Locomotive from France soon. The first bodyshell of 12000 HP loco from Alstom France arrived at Kolkata port on 20th of Sept. 2017.
- The bodyshell for the fleet of the twin-section electric locomotives which Alstom is to supply to Indian Railways.
- It was unloaded at Haldia and ready for delivery to the factory at Madhepura where it will be assembled.
- It is the first high-power electric locomotive will be used to haul freight trains at twice the existing speed by 2018.
- This is the first major FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) project in the rail sector.
- Its estimated cost is about Rs 30 crore and will be assembled with components which were brought in from Alstom’s factories in France.
- It will set have its trial run by February 2018. The total contract is worth above three billion euro. The locomotive will run at a speed up to 120 km/h.
- This project includes the set-up of a plant at Madhepura (Bihar state) and two maintenance depots at Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh state) and Nagpur (Maharashtra state).
- As per schedule, 35 locomotives would be rolled out from the factory by 2020, 60 in 2021, followed by 100 every year till the target of 800 is completed.
- The contract allows for the first five locomotives to be imported, but the remaining 795 are to be manufactured locally in support of the government’s Make in India campaign.
Appointments & Resigns
B Sambamurthy appointed as NPCI interim Board chairman
The Board of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has appointed of B Sambamurthy as interim Chairman of the Board announced on 21st Sept. 2017.
- NPCI is an umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in the country. Sambamurthy has replaced Balachandran M.
- Prior to that Sambamurthy was formerly Director and CEO of Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) and Chairman and Managing Director of Corporation Bank.
Vani Sarraju Rao declared as Ambassador of India to the Republic of Estonia
Ms. Vani Sarraju Rao presently Ambassador of India to Finland, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Estonia.
Awards & Recognition
Nigerian lawyer Zannah Mustapha gets top UN peace prize
A Nigerian lawyer Zannah Mustapha was awarded with UNHCR top UN peace prize on 19th Sept. 2017.
- He worked for the rights of displaced children growing up amid violence in north-eastern Nigeria.
- He helped in the release of more than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
- Zannah Mustapha awarded for his contributing role as well as his work helping children affected by the long-running conflict.
- He founded a school in 2007 in Maiduguri the capital of Borno State and the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Acquisitions & Mergers
Google buys engineers from HTC in $1.1-billion deal
Google has acquired a part of electronics company HTC Corporation’s engineering and design teams for $1.1 billion announced on 21st Sept. 2017.
- The deal, which includes employees that have worked on the Pixel smartphone, also comes with a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property.
- This comes ahead of the release of Google’s second generation of Pixel devices, expected to be released next month.
- About 2,000 engineers will be transferred to Google. The staff are primarily focused on research and development.
Science & Technology
Scientists create world’s first molecular robot
Scientists from University of Manchester have created world’s first ‘molecular robot’ — millionth of a millimetre in size. It can be used to build molecules and may help discover novel drugs.
- The molecular robot is millionth of millimetre in size. It is made up of just 150 carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen atoms which are basic building blocks required to form molecules. It can be programmed to move and build molecular cargo using a tiny robotic arm.
- The molecular robot operates by carrying out chemical reactions in special solutions which can then be controlled and programmed by scientists to perform the basic tasks. It responds to series of simple commands that are programmed with chemical inputs.
- Each individual robot is capable of manipulating single molecule. In terms of size context, billion of these molecular robots piled on top of each other will be only same size as a single grain of salt.
- The molecular robot is so small, that it massively reduces demand for materials, dramatically reduce power requirements and can accelerate and improve drug discovery and rapidly increase the miniaturisation of other products.
- Potential applications: Such molecular robots can be used for medical purposes, advanced manufacturing processes and even building molecular factories and assembly lines.
2006 VW139/288P: Astronomers spot strange binary asteroid with comet-like features
International team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have spotted an unusual object called 2006 VW139/288P having two asteroids orbiting each other with comet-like features. These include bright halo of material, called a coma, and long tail of dust. The odd object is first known binary asteroid that is also classified as a main-belt comet.
Asteroids and comets
Asteroids and comets are believed to be ancient remnants of earliest years of formation of our solar system more than four billion years ago. Asteroids are known as inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comets are bodies of ice, rock and organic compounds that can be several miles in diametre and they can be at times active. Ice of comets can vaporise in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
- Hubble was used to image asteroid in September 2016 just before it made its closest approach to Sun. The images revealed that it was actually not one, but two asteroids of almost the same mass and size, orbiting each other at a distance of 96 km.
- It was discovered by Spacewatch in November 2006 and its possible cometary activity was seen in November 2011 by Pan-STARRS after that it was given comet designation of 288P. The more recent Hubble observations revealed ongoing activity in binary system.
- The combined features of binary asteroid are wide separation, near-equal component size, high eccentricity orbit, and comet-like activity. These make it unique among few known binary asteroids that have a wide separation.
Understanding of 2006 VW139/288P’s origin and evolution may provide new insights into early days of solar system. The main-belt comets may help to answer how water came to a bone-dry Earth billions of years ago. As it is different from all other known binary asteroids, it will also help to answer some questions about how common such systems are in the asteroid belt.
Fino Payments Bank launches mobile banking app – BPay
On 20th September 2017, Fino Payments Bank launched its mobile banking app called BPay in India.
- BPay is an extension of its already existing wallet in the same name that was launched in December 2016. The upgraded BPay app is available on Android currently.
- This app enables simple, paperless and convenient banking that allows customers to make bill payments, recharges, fund transfers and buy insurance.
- It also allows customers to access wallet as well as savings account, with a single login. Also, people can open Fino bank account from BPay mobile app.
Bandhan Tod: App to fight child marriage launched in Bihar
The “Bandhan Tod” app is launched by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on 18th of Sept. 2017. It is a unique initiative, Gender Alliance Bihar, a collective effort of over 270 civil society organisations.
- Bandhan Tod is part of Gender Alliance’s strategy to support the state government’s efforts to end child marriage and dowry.
- A mobile app has come up to fight the rampant social evil of child marriage in the state.
- The Gender Alliance is an initiative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
- It is started to bring together civil societies, activists, academicians, researchers, media, and others on a common platform to advocate gender equality.
- It will create awareness on resisting child marriage and will also help adolescent girls saying no to the practice in the form of an SOS button.
- If the SOS button is pressed, the registered mobile number and other details of the user will be sent to the Gender Alliance monitoring cell and civil society organisations.
- The Gender Alliance monitoring cell and civil society organisations will contact the user to get details and then alert the local authorities for action.
- The app offers innovative features that will give girls the confidence to stand up against marriage before they are 18.
- It will be available on Google Play store and anyone can register on it with their details — name, age, block, district and mobile number.
- Mobikwik, a digital payment gateway, will provide incentive to users who download it.
- Gender Alliance has announced the Bandhan Tod award for journalism for mainstreaming gender in media.
- It awarded adolescent girls with Bandhan Tod champion title to recognise their brave role in the fight against child marriage.
Denmark launches global alliance for action on climate change
On 20th September 2017, Denmark launched a US based global alliance to manage Climate change, in Copenhagen.
Global alliance for climate change:
- Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) is supported by the following members –China, Indonesia and C40.
- C40 is a group of more than 90 large cities of the world. It represents 25% of the global economy. They work together for climate change.
- 12 of the C40 cities are in the US.
- This initiative aims to create a forum for sharing knowledge and technology within governments, businesses and community leaders.
- Denmark is the host country of the initiative.
- P4G’s international base will be formed in Washington, in January 2018.
- Its first summit will take place in Copenhagen, in November 2018.
Khalid Latif banned for five years for role in PSL spot-fixing
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has imposed a five-year ban and a fine of one million rupees on batsman Khalid Latif for his involvement in spot-fixing during the PSL.
- The three-member Tribunal of PCB headed by a former High Court judge Asghar Haider found Khalid guilty on all six breaches of the Cricket Board’s anti-corruption code.
- He played five one-day internationals and 13 T20Is, the last of which was against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September 2016.
Official emblem and slogan for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 unveiled
The official emblem and slogan for FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 were unveiled in Paris, France.
- The slogan of the tournament “Dare To Shine” reflects the development of football, especially women’s football.
- The emblem features the competition trophy wrapped in blue and white, with eight shards of light around football at the top of the trophy.
- It symbolizing the eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- FIFA President Gianni Infantino and French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel le Graet attended the event.
- The 2019 edition of FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place from June 7 to July 7, 2019.
International Day of Peace-September 21 2017
The International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
- The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”
- The theme defines the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes and those leaving in search of a better life.
- It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.
- The International Day of Peace focuses on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants.
- It is about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity.
- The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly.
- Later in 2001, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.