Current Affairs: 25 May 2017

National Events

Union Cabinet approves abolition of 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board

  • The Union Cabinet approved winding up of the 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), which has been vetting FDI proposals requiring government approval.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech on February 1 had announced the scrapping of the inter- ministerial body, which comes under the ministry's Department of Economic Affairs.
  • The decision to abolish FIPB was taken by the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • FIPB will be replaced by a new mechanism under which the proposals will be approved by the ministries concerned as per the standard operating procedure approved by the Cabinet,
  • FIPB was constituted under the Prime Minister's Office following economic liberalisation in the early 1990s.
  • Currently, only 11 sectors, including defence and retail trading, require government approval for foreign direct investment (FDI).

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Rajnath Singh releases the book ‘India 2017 Yearbook’

  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has released the book ‘India 2017 Yearbook’ authored by the Union Home Secretary, Shri Rajiv Mehrishi
  • The book was published by the Mc Graw Hill Education India.
  • The chapters of the Book are divided into four broad groups covering Indian geography, history, polity, demography, economy, development schemes, environment, disaster management, media and communication, foreign policy, J&K and newsmakers in India. 
  • The Book also deals with general knowledge, viz., general information, culture, monuments and cultural institutions of India and miscellaneous general topics among many other subjects.
  • India 2017 YEARBOOK is published annually and provides information on current affairs of the Indian Union, including facts on Indian policy, political systems, the Indian Constitution and states, international relations and recent issues like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and demonetization.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma inaugurates ‘Return of the three stone Sculptures from Australia to India’ exhibition

  • Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism, Government of India (GoI), inaugurated an exhibition “Return of the Three Stone Sculptures from Australia to India” in National Museum, Janpath New Delhi. 
  • The exhibition was organised to mark the safe return of three stone sculptures (Seated Buddha, Worshippers of Buddha, Goddess Pratyangira) from Australia to India. These sculptures were purchased by National Gallery of Australia from the Nancy Wiener, New York in 2007 and Art of the Past, New York, 2005. 
  • Dr. Sharma attended a special event at National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra, Australia in which Senator Mitch Fifield formally handed over three ancient artefacts stolen and smuggled out of India and inadvertently acquired by National Gallery of Australia. 
  • The Minister released a book entitled ‘War Paintings of The Irresistible Jat King Surajmal’ by Dr Satya Vrata Tripathi and also launched an ‘App on Swachchta Abhiyan’.

In Maharashtra, 'Good Morning' Squads To Monitor And Prevent Open Defecation

  • The Maharashtra government has decided to form 'good morning' squads to monitor and prevent open defecation in villages and districts across the state.
  • These squads will comprise representatives of local bodies, self-help groups, NGOs, students and social workers working in the area of sanitation and cleanliness.
  • A government resolution issued on Friday said these squads have been asked to keep an eye on the areas where this practice is prevalent and to ensure that locals have access to toilets there.
  • They will inform the civic bodies about areas where people are being denied access to toilets. They also have the right to take up issues, such as the pending construction of toilets, with the local civic bodies and help speed up the work.

Swachh Bharat App Launched in National Museum

  • Swachh Bharat App" has been launched in National Museum under Ministry of Culture by the Minister of State (I/C) for Culture & Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma yesterday. The main focus of this Swachh Bharat App" is to basically involve people actively to become part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement). 
  • At present, this App is available for Android Mobile phones which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. In this App the concept of Physical web is implemented. 
  • When you are in the monument or Museum it will deliver you the message about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and ask you to report the garbage around you. All you need is to enable the Bluetooth of your mobile device
  • The App will be monitored by the Ministry of Culture and will play an important role in cultivating the significance of cleanliness to the citizens. 

Mobile app launched for monitoring coal movement

  • Coal Minister Piyush Goyal launched the Saral Eindhan Vitaran Application on Tuesday. The mobile app and the online dashboard monitor the movement of coal from mines allocated to the power sector. Speaking at the event, Goyal said, “Non-power sector mines would also be added in this app.”
  • An official statement said that this app will provide a summary of the quantity of coal dispatched along with grades for the given day, month, and the latest yearly updates. The app also provides information on rake movement including latest status of indents of rake, allotment and loading. 
  • This would help consumers making advance logistics planning.
  • Consumer-specific data would be password protected on the SEVA Dashboard.
  • The app tracks coal dispatch to 118 power plants through fuel supply agreement (FSA) of around 500 MT. 
  • In addition, the dispatch through Special Forward E-Auction and Bridge Linkage from more than 200 dispatch points spread over eight states of the country are also monitored. 
  • Daily quantity involved is to the tune of 1.25 million tonnes involving the daily movement of around 195 coal trains besides dispatch through other captive modes of transport like MGR, road, belt, and ropeways among others.

India’s first underwater rail tunnel completed

  • Engineers and employees of Afcons Transtonnelstroy and Kolkata Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd, the two entities implementing the East-West Metro have completed boring the country’s first tunnel under the Hooghly river for establishing metro link between Howrah and Kolkata.
  • Rachna, a giant tunnel-boring machine (TBM), was deployed to dig the underwater tunnel that runs a length of 502 metres under the river.
  • Afcons Transtonnelstroy is an Indo-Russian joint venture. The machine was brought from Herrenknecht AG plant in Schwanau in Germany.
  • The entire project is 16.6 km long, out of which 10.8 km runs under the ground. Of this 10.8 km, 502 metres is under the water. T
  • The project connects Howrah to the west and Salt lake to the east.

Inauguration of Integration of eSanad with Parinam Manjusha

  • External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Human Resource Development Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar jointly inaugurated the integration of eSanad with Parinam Manjusha
  • eSanad is aimed at online verification of the documents with an objective to extend contactless, cashless and paperless document attestation/ apostille service to applicants in India as well as abroad. 
  • The integration OF e-Sanad with Parinam Manjusha will help the applicants avoid long travels and precious resources of time and money for getting their documents attested by the concerned authorities in States.
  • It also allows filing the application online.
  • eSanad has been designed and developed by NIC and will be implemented in phases. 
  • As a pilot run, the first phase of eSanad has been started in five passport offices and presently it is in the process of being implemented in the Apostille/ Attestation Cell of the Ministry.

India becomes second largest steel producer in the world

  • India has emerged as the second largest stainless steel producer in the world after China. India overtook Japan as the second-biggest producer in 2016, according to data released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) at their annual conference held recently between May 14-19, 2017 at Tokyo, Japan. 
  • The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) is a non-profit research and development organisation which was founded in 1996 and which serves as the focal point for the international stainless steel industry.
  • India’s stainless steel production rose to 3.32 million tonne in 2016 showing an impressive growth of about 9% over 3 million tonne it produced in 2015. 
  • ISSDA is India’s apex stainless steel industry association and has been leading key industry initiatives and causes to enhance domestic demand especially in architecture, building and construction, automotive, railways and transport together with the process industry. 
  • Leading Indian stainless steel players include SAIL- Salem, Jindal Stainless, BRG, Viraj Profiles Ltd, Sunflag Iron & Steel and Panchmahal Steel 

International Events

World Economic Forum (WEF): UN Habitat Data

  • According to World Economic Forum's UN Habitat Data of 10 most densly populated cities, Dhaka, with 44500 people per square metre, is placed at first position. 
  • Mumbai, with 31700 people/sq.meter secured the second place while Kota is at number seven
  • Dhaka tops the list with 44500 people per sq km while Mumbai with 31700 ranks second in the list of 10 most densely populated cities in the world.
The 10 most densely populated cities are
1. Dhaka
2. Mumbai
3. Medellin
4. Manila
5. Casablanca
6. Lagos
7. Kota
8. Abuja
9. Singapore
10. Jakarta
Six of the most densely populated cities are in Asia, three in Africa and one in South America

3rd RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman led the Indian delegation to the 3rd RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting on 21-22 May 2017 in Hanoi in which Trade Ministers of 15 other RCEP countries participated. Trade Minister and Industry Minister of Philippines Mr Ramon Lopez, was the Chair of the Meeting as Philippines is currently holding the Presidency of ASEAN this year and Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Mr Tran Tuan Anh, as the host extended a warm welcome to the delegates. 
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a mega regional free trade agreement being negotiated amongst 16 countries, comprising 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) plus six ASEAN FTA partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. 
  • in line with the RCEP Guiding Principles that seek to build on ASEAN +1 FTAs in a manner consistent with GATS principles. 
  • On Mode 4, Movement of Natural Persons (MNP) and RCEP Travel Card India strongly emphasized its position, and the importance of these areas in facilitating temporary movement of professionals to achieve the full potential of the forward and modern looking regional integration that was being envisaged.

Japan to build war museum in Manipur

  • Japan is going to build a war museum at the hillock at Maiba Lokpa in Bishnupur district, Manipur, where a Japanese camp was located during World War II.
  • The Japanese ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, said about 70,000 Japanese soldiers had died in battles from March to June 1944 in Imphal and Kohima. 
  • He said that the mortal remains would be located for the last rites and sought the cooperation of the people. 
  • Twenty-five persons would be invited to Japan from Nagaland and Manipur. Besides, a seminar would be held in November to help students who want to study in Japan.
  • Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh welcomed the plan to build a museum and promised all assistances to the Japanese government.

India-OPEC Institutional Dialogue: Dharmendra Pradhan stresses for no 'Asian Premium'

  • Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan visited Vienna for co-chairing the 2nd India-Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Institutional Dialogue at the OPEC headquarters and strongly reiterated that as a large import destination there should be no 'Asian Premium' on the crude supplied to India and Asian buyers
  • Pradhan highlighted that India provided timely payments and honoured all its contractual commitments and demanded due acknowledgment through discount in prices for large volumes that India imports.
  • Pradhan also stressed that the OPEC should work towards "Responsible Pricing" which is important for India for socio-economic and developmental reasons. 

In a first for Asia, Taiwan moves to legalize same-sex marriage

  • Taiwan island’s highest court had just struck down Taiwan’s anti–gay marriage laws as unconstitutional, paving the way for the first system of legalized same-sex marriage anywhere in Asia.
  • The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were "in violation of both the people’s freedom of marriage .and the people’s right to equality", 
  • It gave two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage.

ISRO & NASA Collaborate to Build NISAR, the World’s Most Expensive Earth Monitoring Satellite

  • In a meeting in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K.Radhakrishnan, Chairman ISRO, signed two documents to launch the NASA-ISRO satellite mission. 
  • The purpose of the mission is to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions for Mars exploration
  • NISAR is the first big collaboration between NASA and ISRO . According to the team, it will this is two frequency RADAR, it is an L-band 24 centimetre RADAR and S-band 13 centimetre. 
  • S-band is being built by ISRO while NASA is taking the responsibility for the L-band by NASA.
  • The satellite will take weekly snapshots of earth, using the two radars, that will provide time lapse images of the motion of tectonic plates, ice sheets and changes in vegetation over land in agriculture and forests.

Banking & Finance

SBI launches national hackathon

  • State Bank of India(SBI) has launched a national hackathon for developers, start-ups and students to come up with innovative ideas and solutions for the banking sector.
  • The hackathon, named 'Code For Bank', will focus on the business value driven by technologies like predictive analytics, fin-tech/blockchain, digital payments, IOT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, BOTS and robotic process automation
  • In the phase 1, participants can register their ideas during May 20-29 followed by hackathon which will start from June 6, 2017 and ends on June 20, 2017.

Federal Bank launches new trading platform ‘Selfie’

  • Federal Bank, in association with Geojit, has launched a new trading platform called ‘Selfie’ for customers. 
  • Designed and managed by Geojit, the trading platform will give its users absolute control over their investments with timely research inputs to make sound investment decisions. 
  • The tablet edition of Selfie for Android and IOS users is available in app stores for download.
  • The features of the Selfie Trading Platform are a uniform experience across multiple platforms and devices and an advanced charting platform that enables users to trade directly from charts, among others.
  • The live portfolio of investments helps users to arrive at quick decisions.

Awards & Achievements

ASCI Wins Gold at Global EASA Best Practice Awards 2016

  • The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has bagged the Gold Award for their Mobile App "ASCIonline" to receive consumer complaints against false advertisement at the Global EASA Best Practice Awards 2016
  • The Indian self-regulatory body was awarded the prestigious prize for launching the best initiative globally providing "Prompt and efficient complaint handling at no cost to the consumer". 
  • In June 2015 ASCI launched its Consumer Complaint Mobile App - ASCIonline to provide easy and convenient access for lodging complaints, increasing ASCI's reach across India. With a catchy slogan 'Snap It and App It', 
  • The App lets consumers' flag complaints against offensive/misleading/vulgar advertisements. For every complaint, they get real-time auto updates within the App every time the status of the complaint is changed as per progress of the complaint. 
  • Keeping the design and interface uncomplicated, clean and user-friendly, ASCI has ensured to rightly "M(obile)-Power" consumers providing the utility to voice against misleading advertisements at their fingertips! 
  • This FREE App is available on android and iOS platforms, continues to contribute upto 10% in the total number of complaints received

Former AIIMS director awarded Royal College fellowship

    
  • Former AIIMS director M C Misra has been awarded the honorary fellowship of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a first for an Indian doctor in the last five years.
  • Set up in 1505, the Royal College is one of the worlds oldest and largest surgical establishments.
  • The institute has an international network with a membership of around 20,000 in almost 100 countries.
  • Misra, a renowned surgeon, retired on January 31 this year after serving as the director of AIIMS for over three years.
  • He also served as the chief of AIIMS Trauma from June 2008.
  • In his 39-month tenure, Mishra contributed to the Apex Medical Sciences University of India. He also led AIIMS delegations to the EAS Round Table Conference on Trauma Care, the World Trauma Congress and the 2 AIIMS-FAM conferences in New Delhi and Paris.
  • He is credited with the creation of the new departments of Rheumatology and Burns and Plastic Surgery. He also played a significant role in the Digital AIIMS project.


Ashwin wins International Cricketer of the Year award

  • India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin  won the coveted International Cricketer of the Year award at the CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) International awards 2017.
  • Ashwin was the wrecker-in-chief during the home season, where India won 10 of their 13 Tests played against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
  • Ashwin has taken 99 wickets in the past 12 months.
  • Meanwhile, young batsman Shubhman Gill won the Young player of the year award for his superb performance during the India-England U-19 ODI series, played in Mumbai.

Egyptian becomes first amputee to swim across Red Sea Gulf

  • An Egyptian adventurer has become the first amputee to swim from Egypt to Jordan, crossing a 20-kilometre (12.4 miles) stretch of the Red Sea's Gulf of Aqaba last month in under nine hours.
  • Omar Hegazy, a 26-year-old banker, lost his left leg two years ago in a motorcycle accident
  • Hegazy raised funds for the swim through local sponsors and audiences tracked his progress across the coral-rich gulf through a Twitter hashtag he created to raise awareness about people enduring mental and physical disabilities.

World's Largest Aircraft Completes Successful Test Flight

  • A massive airship dubbed the Airlander 10 recently completed a successful test flight, bringing the helium-filled behemoth one step closer to commercial use.
  • Though it looks like a massive blimp, the Airlander 10 combines technology from airplanes, helicopters and airships. It is designed to stay aloft at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) for up to five days when manned, according to Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company that built the aircraft. And at a mammoth 302 feet (92 m) long, it is the largest aircraft currently flying. 
  • It first debuted as HAV-304, and successfully flew in 2012 as part of the U.S. Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle program. The reimagined and modified Airlander 10 made its maiden voyage in August 2016, kicking off a flight test program to assess the aircraft's performance and attempting to fly the airship farther away from its base in Cardington, England.
  • This latest flight had two main objectives, beyond safely completing a takeoff, flight and landing. The first was to determine how the Airlander handles, including the aircraft's new, additional "landing feet" that make up the Auxiliary Landing System (ALS). The second was to collect data on the flight's performance, such as airspeed, according to Hybrid Air Vehicles.

Young Indian cartoonist wins top conservation award

  • Chakravarty, a wildlife and environment cartoonist from India, has won this year’s International President’s Award for his efforts to change attitudes towards nature.
  • The award is the top accolade given by WWF to recognise leadership in young conservationists who are under the age of 30 from around the world. The award ceremony was held recently in Manado, Indonesia.
  • Hailing from Nagpur (also known as the tiger capital of India), Chakravarty has been an enthusiastic bird watcher since childhood. He was on his way to becoming a dentist when the sighting of a magnificent tigress at a waterhole at Nagzira Tiger Reserve threw his planned career off gear.
  • With over 400 cartoons, Chakravarty probably has one of the largest online cartoon repositories — under the banner of Green Humour — that centres around environmental issues.
  • Green Humour, which is also the country’s first comic strip to be distributed internationally, showcases how artistic skills can become an effective communication tool to highlight green issues. And for those who like quirky collectibles, there are cartoon mugs and T-shirts available on the website.

World Health Assembly elects Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as new WHO Director-General

  • The Member States of WHO elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of WHO.
  • Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was nominated by the Government of Ethiopia, and will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017.
  • Prior to his election as WHO’s next Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia from 2012–2016 and as Minister of Health, Ethiopia from 2005–2012. 
  • He has also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership Board; and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
  • As Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus led a comprehensive reform effort of the country's health system, including the expansion of the country’s health infrastructure, creating 3500 health centres and 16 000 health posts; expanded the health workforce by 38 000 health extension workers

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