Current Affairs: 1 April 2017

India becomes associate member of International Energy Agency

  • India has joined the International Energy Agency as an associate member, a development that the IEA said makes the prestigious Paris-based body more relevant and reflects the country's move to the centre stage of the global energy dialogue. 
  • With India as a member, International Energy Agency now formally covers 70% of the world's energy consumption. This increases the relevance of the IEA 
  • India will now have a greater say in global energy issues. 
The International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974
  • The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia. The Agency's mandate has broadened to focus on the "3Es" of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection

President Pranab Mukherjee to inaugurate Namami Brahmaputra in Assam

  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated Namami Brahmaputra, India's largest river festival. 
  • The festival will be celebrated in 21 districts of Assam and the festival will be kicked off on the banks of the river.
  • Brahmaputra is considered to be the country's only male river and the five-day festival will include cultural programmes, traditional sports, Brahmaputra Aarti, exhibition, film shows, seminars and competitions.
  • The festival is expected to be a boon for Assam's tourism industry. Security has been beefed up in and around Guwahati ahead of the visit of the President and Dalai Lama.

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu releases Book Titled “Indian Railway- The weaving of a National Tapestry” 

  • Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu released the book titled “Indian Railway- The weaving of a National Tapestry”jointly authored by Shri Bibek Debroy (Member, NITI Aayog) Shri Sanjay Chadha (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce) & Ms. Vidya Krishnamurthi.
  • In addition, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu also launched Hi-speed free Wi-Fi services for the visitors at National Rail Museum. 
  • This book by Shri Bibek Debroy is a great contribution for Indian Railways.
  • The theme of this book is the historical development of railways in India, organized into chapters dealing with different periods of development in chronological order. It builds its foundations from periods prior to 1853, when the first commercial passenger Railway was inaugurated. like the Red Hill Railways in the south, which were primarily captive freight systems
  • True to its reader-friendly style the book is light reading and a valuable collection to the most well documented organisation, perhaps in the World – which is our Indian Railways

Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh launched a scheme allowing distribution of LED tubelights 

  • Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh launched a scheme allowing distribution of LED tubelights and energy-efficient fans as part of an initiative to promote energy saving.
  • The LED tubelights and fans would be distributed under 'Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All' (UJALA) scheme, which is an extension of old domestic efficient lighting programme.
  • The cost per tube light would be Rs 230 along-with three years free replacement warrantee.
  • The BEE 5-star 50-watt fan will replace the conventional 75-watt ceiling fan. It will cost Rs 1,150, along with two-years free replacement warranty, thus saving 33 per cent electricity.
  • The government had earlier launched a scheme to distribute subsidised CLF bulbs and LED lights, which helped in saving energy worth about Rs 200 crore and the present initiative is an extension of that scheme.
  • UJALA was an integral part of energy conservation initiative of the state government and had been very successfully adopted by the people of the state

Maninder Singh Juneja appointed as MD & CEO of NBHC

  • National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC), India’s leading provider of integrated commodity and collateral management services of agri-commodities announced appointment of Maninder Singh Juneja as the managing director and CEO.
  • Juneja joined True North (erstwhile India Value Fund Associates) in December 2016 as the managing director which owns 100 per cent of NBHC
  • Juneja takes reins from Anil Choudhary, founder MD & CEO, NBHC, who will continue to associate with NBHC as an executive vice-chairman in the company.
  • Juneja was previously associated with ICICI Bank as senior general manager.
  • National Bulk Handling Corporation is an Indian commodity and collateral management company based in Mumbai. 
  • NBHC is a venture of the Financial Technologies Group
  • It was founded in 2003.

S.V Sunil named Asian Hockey Player of Year

  • Indian forward S.V Sunil and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh were named as the Asian Player of the Year 2016 and Asian Promising Player of the Year respectively by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
  • Sunil played a vital role in India's successful outing at the FIH Champions Trophy in London where the team earned a historic silver medal. 
  • Considered to be one of the fastest men on the pitch in the world, Sunil has also served as the team's vice-captain and is entrusted with the duty of leading by example.
  • The nominations for these awards were made by coaches across the national teams in Asia and the criteria of nomination was based on the performance for the year 2016
  • Harmanpreet had a stupendous 2016 with India winning the Junior World Cup where he led the team's defence and was instrumental in converting penalty corners. 
  • He was also part of the Indian men's team at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the FIH Champions Trophy in London.

El Salvador becomes first country to ban metals mining nationwide

  • The smallest country in Central America – El Salvador – has approved a law prohibiting all metal mining in an attempt to protect the environment and natural resources. 
  • It is the first country in the world to do so
  • The new law, supported by 70 lawmakers, bans all exploration, extraction, and processing of metals both in open pits and mines.
  • The level of environmental pollution in El Salvador is one of the highest in the region, second only to Haiti, and the availability of drinking water is the lowest, according to UN data.
  • The legislation was passed despite interest from international gold and silver mining companies.
  • In October, El Salvador won a lawsuit at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Australian-Canadian miner OceanaGold Corp.

Indian magnate appointed head of SA’s BRICS Business Council

  • Indian-origin South African billionaire Iqbal Surve has been appointed as chairperson of the country’s BRICS Business Council and has underlined the need for strengthening trade ties with countries like India and China. 
  • Straight after his appointment by the South African government, Surve, headed to New Delhi for the mid-term meeting of the Brics Councils from other countries in the bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • He hightlighted importance to strengthen ties with China and India.
  • Surve, the chairperson of Sekunjalo Group and Independent Media, has interests in media, technology and healthcare.
  • Surve is a founding member of the BRICS Business Council and the Clinton Global Initiative; he serves on a number of multi-lateral institutions and global organisations.
  • Surve served as the first chairperson of the World Economic Forum Global Growth Companies Advisory Board and vice chairperson of the Global Agenda Council for Emerging Multinationals. 
  • He is a participant member of the G20 meeting and serves on B20 Task Teams as well as the Unga private sector forum, amongst others.

Vanaja N Sarna appointed Central Board of Excise and Customs chief

  • Senior bureaucrat Vanaja N Sarna was appointed as chairperson of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). 
  • Sarna, a 1980 batch officer of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), is at present member in the CBEC, an apex policy making body for indirect taxes. 
  • She will take over charge from incumbent Najib Shah who completes his term this month-end. 
  • The CBEC will be responsible for ensuring successful roll out and subsequent implementation of the GST, with the help of VAT officers of state governments and others. The board will also be rechristened as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) after necessary legislative approval in the GST regime. 
  • The CBEC - which works under Finance Ministry - comprises of a chairperson and a maximum of six members.

Rajiv Kumar Chander appointed India’s Permanent Representative to Geneva UN offices

  • Rajiv Kumar Chander, a 1983 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, was appointed the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the UN offices in Geneva.
  • Chander, who at present is the Consul General in Vancouver, Canada, is expected to take up his new assignment shortly
  • He will succeed Ajit Kumar at the Geneva office.
  • Chander earlier served as Deputy Permanent Representative in the Geneva office from 2006 to 2009.
  • He was in-charge in New Delhi of political work relating to Gulf countries as well as Haj related matters.
  • Chander served as India’s Ambassador to Ukraine from July 2011 to July 2015.

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