Current Affairs: 18 May 2017

Important Days

World AIDS Vaccine Day 2017: May 18

  • World AIDS Vaccine Day takes place on May 18, 2017. 
  • The day, also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, is observed annually. HIV vaccine advocates mark the day by promoting the continued urgent need for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. 
  • The first World AIDS Vaccine Day was observed on May 18, 1998, to commemorate the anniversary of Clinton’s speech, and the tradition continues today. 
  • Each year communities around the globe hold a variety of activities on World AIDS Vaccine Day to raise awareness for AIDS vaccines, educate communities about HIV prevention and research for an AIDS vaccine and bring attention to the ways in which ordinary people can be a part of the international effort to stem the pandemic.

National Events

Shri Bandaru Dattatreya launches EPFOs Citizens Charter 2017 & e-court management system Citizens Charter 2017 to bring transparency and accountability on the part of EPFO

  • The Minister of State for Labour & Employment(IC), Shri Bandaru Dattatreya launched EPFOs Citizens Charter 2017 and e-court management system in Bangalore
  • Citizens Charter 2017 is an attempt to bring transparency and accountability on the part of EPFO and make service delivery system and grievance redressal mechanism more efficient so that it delivers goods and services to its all stakeholders in a time bound manner with a reduced timeline from earlier timeline of 30 days. 
  • The timeline in case of claim settlements is 10 days and 15 days in case of grievance redressal management. 
  • The citizens charter has been launched with the vision of social security coverage to all employees as well as the implementation of policies for benefit of all stakeholders with an adequate support level of social security. 
  • The objective of the project is a transparent and electronic case management system which will cater to aspirations of all stakeholders the employers, the employees, litigants and CBT. It is a step towards paperless court system wherein court procedure of EPF & MP Act, 1952 and EPFAT will take place in a digital environment
  • Now the parties can file all their paper / evidence / documents online and all the details alongwith status can be accessed online.

CCEA gives nod to new coal linkage policy

  • A new coal linkage policy to ensure adequate supply of the fuel to power plants through reverse auction received approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
  • The new coal linkage policy for power plants will help producers ensure fuel supplies in an organised manner.
  • The government’s initiatives as well as international market conditions have helped bring down price of the dry fuel and boosted domestic production. 
  • But a mechanism is required for providing coal linkages to power plants at competitive rates.
  • According to sources, the new policy will address this concern and put in place a proper mechanism for sourcing of the dry fuel by the power plants as per their schedules.

AP amends Act to appoint PV Sindhu as Group-1 officer

  • The Andhra Pradesh Legislature  passed a Bill to appoint Olympics silver medal winning shuttler PV Sindhu as a Group-1 officer in the government, by amending the state public services Act.
  • Certain provisions in the Andhra Pradesh (Regulation of Appointments to Public Services and Rationalisation of Staff Pattern and Pay Structure) Act, 1994, prevented the appointment of the badminton player as any recruitment in public service should only be through the AP Public Service Commission, selection committee or employment exchange.
  • To give effect to the Cabinet resolution, the government decided to amend section 4 of the aforementioned law to enable appointment of Sindhu directly in the cadre of a revenue divisional officer.

Country's 1st ornamental fish park in Chennai by August

  • India's first Aquatic Rainbow Technology Park (ARTP) will be set up in Chennai within three months.
  • The park, an ultra-modern exclusive facility for ornamental fish equipped with multi-species hatchery and live feed culture units, will fulfil a major requirement of the industry for mass production of high value aquarium fish. Fisheries College and Research Institute, Ponneri, will develop the facility.
  • Tamil Nadu is the second largest exporter of ornamental fish after West Bengal. After completion, it will be handed over to ornamental fish breeders and farmers on lease for three years.

Railway station survey: Andhra’s Visakhapatnam cleanest, Bihar’s Darbhanga dirtiest

  • In a report released by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Visakhapatnam railway station in Andhra Pradesh was rated the cleanest station among the 75 busiest stations in the country, followed by Secunderabad, Jammu, Vijayawada and Anand Vihar railway stations. 
  • The survey, conducted by the Quality Council of India, was based on criteria such as toilets on platforms, management of tracks and dustbins
  • The Darbhanga station in Bihar was rated as the dirtiest. Varanasi railway station, situated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, was placed 14th. 
  • New Delhi station was ranked 39, while Nizamuddin and Old Delhi stations were placed at the 23th and 24th position respectively.
  • Railway stations are categorised — A1, A, B, C, D, E and F — based on their annual passenger revenue by the ministry. 
  • The stations that contribute over Rs 50 crore annually are in the ‘A1’ category, while those that contribute between Rs 6 crore and Rs 50 crore come under the ‘A’ category. 
  • All suburban stations are in C category, while all halts are in F category

Indian Army to receive first batch of modern artillery guns

  • Two of the 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers will arrive in India from the US on Friday. It will be the first induction of the howitzers after the Bofors scandal broke out nearly 30 years ago.
  • The scandal had badly hit the artillery modernisation of the Indian Army.
  • The first two guns will land in India ahead of the schedule over the weekend.
  • Two howitzers, which will come in a chartered aircraft from the UK, will be taken to the Pokhran ranges for testing and compilation of the firing tables for subsequent use.
  • The howitzers are being procured for the army and will be deployed along the India-China border.
  • India has struck a government-to-government deal for 145 howitzers with the US at a cost of around $700 million.
  • As per the deal, the first 25 guns will be bought directly from the US and the rest will be assembled in India.

International Events

Dattatreya to attend G20 Labour Ministers meet on May 18-19

  • Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya will lead the Indian delegation to the G20 Labour & Employment Ministers Meet scheduled to be held on May 18-19 in Germany.
  • Germany is the chair for the G20 Labour & Employment Ministers for the year 2017. 
  • The G20 Labour & Employment Track has been discussing topics like Shaping the Future of Work, Reducing Gender Gaps in Labour Force Participation, Labour Market Integration of Regular Migrants and Recognised Refugees, Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, and Boosting Youth Employment.
  • A G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration is likely to be adopted at the end of this meeting, which will be presented to the Leaders/ Head of the State summit scheduled on July 7-8, 2017 Hamburg, Germany.
  • Dattatreya is expected to advocate policy interventions aimed at promoting labour mobility for skilled youth, incentivizing MSMEs as well as responsibility of developed states in the Global Supply Chains for capacity building, skill development and technology transfer to promote more inclusive and fair globalization, at the forum of G20.

Banking & Finance

Kotak Mahindra Bank enables blockchain based trade financing operation

  • Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank has enabled end to end trade financing for one of its clients by utilising the blockchain technology thereby reducing the time taken for a letter of credit (LC) to few hours from 20 to 30 days. 
  • LC – a negotiable instrument, is a critical document in both domestic and international trade finance, and is also one of the most tedious documents to process in banking. 
  • The time involved in completing the process deprives exporters from from utilising their sale proceeds efficiently. 
  • In a first of its kind transaction in India, Kotak partnered with Deloitte and used the blockchain technology to complete LC transactions with JP Morgan Singapore as Partner bank - from issuing the LC for outbound transactions to transferring trade documentation for inbound LCs to facilitating the transaction funds using Swift.

Mukesh Ambani leads Forbes list of Global Game Changers

  • Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani leads a Forbes list of 'Global Game Changers' who are transforming their industries and changing the lives of billions of people around the globe.
  • Forbes' second annual Global Game Changers list includes 25 "intrepid business leaders" who are "unsatisfied with the status quo" and "transforming their industries and changing the lives of billions of people around the globe."
  • Ambani, 60 comes at the top of the list for his game-changing efforts to bring the internet to India's masses.
  • The 25 trailblazers on the list are re- imagining countless facets of everyday life, from health to sending money to relatives abroad.
  • Others in the Forbes list of global game changers included founder of home appliances company Dyson, James Dyson, American global investment management corporation BlackRock cofounder Larry Fink, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, social media company Snap cofounder Evan Spiegel, Chinese ride sharing giant Didi Chuxing founder Cheng Wei and African retail tycoon Christo Wiese.

Appointments & Achievements

Anshu Jamsenpa becomes first Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest four times

  • Anshu Jamsenpa has become the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest four times,
  • The Arunachal Pradesh mountaineer on Tuesday scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to conquer the 8,848 feet Mount Everest for a fourth time.
  • Jamsenpa, a mother of two, began scaling at 1.45 a.m. on Saturday and unfurled the national flag atop the Everest at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Former FBI chief Robert Mueller appointed to probe Donald Trump-Russia ties

  • The US Justice Department, in the face of rising pressure from Capitol Hill, named former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow. 
  • The move followed a week in which the White House was thrown into an uproar following Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
  • Democrats and some of the president's fellow Republicans had demanded an independent probe of whether Russia tried to sway the outcome of November's election in favor of Trump and against Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

Indian Scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni Wins Dan David Prize 

  • Indian scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni has won the prestigious Dan David prize for his contribution in the field of astronomy.
  • Mr Kulkarni is a professor of astrophysics and planetary science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
  • He is a pioneer and leading figure in time-domain astrophysics across the electromagnetic spectrum who built and conducted the Palomar Transient Factory, a large-area survey of the night sky in search of variable and transient phenomena.
  • The survey has turned up thousands of stellar explosions, transforming our knowledge of the transient sky.
  • The USD 1 million prize is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan David Foundation headquartered at Tel Aviv University.
  • Mr Kulkarni, with this honour, joins other prominent Indian laureates of the Dan David prize including author Amitav Ghosh, music conductor Zubin Mehta and renowned chemist CNR Rao.
  • Three Dan David prizes of USD 1 million each are given every year in the categories of "Past", "Present" and "Future" to people around the world who have made outstanding contributions to humanity in the sciences, humanities, or through their work in civil society.
  • The recipients in the "Past" category are generally drawn from the field of history, archaeology, palaeontology, biography, etc; the "Present" from arts, media, policy, economics, etc; and the "Future" from one of the exact or natural sciences.
  • The "Future" category this year is dedicated to astronomy and will be shared by Shrinivas Kulkarni, Andrej Udalski of the University of Warsaw and Neil Gehrels of NASA for their discoveries on time-domain astrophysics.

Yes Bank to appoint Debjani Ghosh as additional director

  • Mid-sized private sector lender Yes Bank today announced the appointment of computer hardware company Intel’s executive Debjani Ghosh as an additional director on its board.
  • Ghosh’s appointment as a non-executive director will be considered by the shareholders at the bank’s forthcoming annual general meeting on June 
  • She has been associated with Intel since 1996 and has held positions including country head and managing director for South Asia

Science & Technology

IIEST creates India's first smart grid project

  • The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) has successfully created the country's first smart grid project, which will generate power from renewable sources of energy. 
  • The project will soon be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee 
  • The smart grid will be synchronised to generate power from solar, wind and vegetable waste resources, depending on the weather conditions and availability of waste products. It is the first of its kind in the country, 

‘Earth-like’ planet may have water, potential to support alien life


  • An ‘Earth-like’ planet orbiting our closest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, about 4.2 light years away may have liquid water and the potential to support alien life, a new study has found.
  • The planet Proxima B was discovered in August last year, and is thought to be of similar size to Earth, creating the possibility that it could have an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.
  • Scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK have embarked on their first, tentative steps to explore the potential climate of the exoplanet.
  • Early studies have suggested that the planet is in the habitable zone of its star Proxima Centauri -- the region where, given an Earth-like atmosphere and suitable structure, it would receive the right amount of light to sustain liquid water on its surface.
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