Current Affairs: 20 June 2017

Important Days

World Refugee Day: 20 June

  • On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. 
  • This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.
  • In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.
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National Events

Punjab to get mohalla clinics, health insurance for all citizens

  • Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has announced his government’s decision to establish wellness mohalla (ward) clinics across the state.
  • Government had initiated the process of providing health insurance to all the citizens so that they can get quality healthcare facilities at affordable cost
  • The School Health Programme has also been reinforced to ensure regular health check-up of all school children.
  • The government has given an incentive of 30% marks to PCMS doctors in the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for post-graduation.

Govt appointed Amitabh Bachchan to promote GST

  • The government has roped in Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan to promote Goods and Services Tax (GST), ahead of the sweeping tax reform’s implementation scheduled from July 1.
  • The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) will be making the 74-year-old Bachchan brand ambassador for GST. 
  • A 40-second video featuring him has already been shot and is being circulated. 
  • A four-rate structure that exempts or imposes a low rate of tax 5 per cent on essential items and top rate of 28 per cent on cars and consumer durables has been finalised. 
  • The other slabs of tax are 12 and 18 per cent.
  • GST also represents an unprecedented exercise in fiscal federalism. The GST Council, that brings together the central and state governments, has met 17 times to thrash out how the tax will work.

Vedanta to set up steel plant in Jharkhand in JV with JSMDC

  • A steel plant would soon come up at Manoharpur in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand 
  • The Vedanta group and Jharkhand Mineral Development Corporation (JSMDC) would jointly set up the plant. 
  • Claiming that investors were being attracted towards the mineral-rich state, the chief minister said that the state government had signed Rs 3 lakh crore worth of long-term and mid-term MoUs with the investors during the Momentum Jharkhand investors meet in February. 
  • Priority would be given to mid-term MoUs that could start production within three years of implementation and generate employment 

India ratifies United Nations TIR Convention

  • India became the 71st country to ratify the United Nations TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention, a move that will help boost trade through smoother movement of goods across territories.
  • The ratification is a part of India’s multi-modal transport strategy that aims to integrate the economy with global and regional production networks through better connectivity.
  • The TIR Convention will also facilitate India’s current national and multilateral connectivity-related initiatives to improve cross border road transport, facilitating overland trade integration with both eastern and western neighbours. 
  • It will also help India in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force this year.

Government launches new Energy Conservation Building Code

  • The government launched the Energy Conservation Building Code 2017 (ECBC) 
  • The updated version of code provides current as well as futuristic advancements in building technology to further reduce building energy consumption and promote low-carbon growth
  • The earlier Energy Conservation Building Code has been adopted by 10 states in the country. 
  • And states such as Haryana offer up to 25 per cent additional Floor Area Raito while Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation offers up to 50 per cent discount on premium amount of building permission charges.

Government Starts ‘Talent Hunt’ to Give Forgotten Artists a National Stage

  • Minister of culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma on Saturday launched the National Mission on Cultural Mapping of India in the city. 
  • Under the mission, the government will hold a “talent hunt” for artists of various genres and give them a platform to showcase their talent on the national stage.
  • Officials said that artists can register themselves on the cultural mapping portal, after which they will be given a unique ID. 
  • Their development as an artist and their work will then be tracked and promoted by the ministry. The government is targeting those artists whose genres are not very well known and they never got a stage for their work. 
  • Once the artists are identified, competitions will be held and the winners will be given cash prizes. The government will also provide them other security benefits like insurance. 

Anti-profiteering panel to levy penalty

  • A five-member anti-profiteering authority will be set up to decide on levying penalty if businesses do not pass on the benefit of price reduction to consumers under the goods and services tax regime.
  • The authority, to be headed by a retired secretary-level officer, can take suo motu action, besides acting on complaints of profiteering. 
  • The GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state finance ministers as members, today approved the anti-profiteering rules.
  • As per the norms, the authority will have a sunset date of two years and will decide on penalty to be levied. It would ask the businesses to refund the price reduction on a proportionate basis to consumers. 
  • Besides the chairman, the four other members of the authority will be joint secretary-level officers who have been commissioners in central excise and service tax either at the Centre or states. 
  • As per the structure, the complaints of profiteering would first come to the Standing Committee comprising tax officials from states and the Centre. 
  • It would forward the complaint to the Directorate of Safeguards (DGS) for investigation, which is likely to take about 2-3 months to complete the inquiry.

Centre Launches App For Sharing International Yoga Day Experience

  • Government today launched a mobile application via which people can share their experience about participating in yoga and related activities. 
  • Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the application, 'Celebrating Yoga'.
  • the mobile application will help in capturing big events organised at public places, and schools and offices across the country on International Yoga Day on June 21.
  • The application can be used even after International Yoga Day. The application is connected to Google Map, where shared information can be seen users
  • The information will subsequently be visible on the website of the Department of Science and Technology.
  • The department also runs a programme called 'Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation' under which research is being carried out by top institutes to scientifically validate the benefits of yoga.
  • The application will also give information to users about studies conducted on yoga under the department's programme.

114-year-old Taj Palace becomes first Indian building to get trademark

  • The iconic Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai has just got itself trademarked. This makes the 114-year-old building the first in the country to get such a registration. 
  • The hotel, which has been a defining structure of Mumbai's skyline, has joined the elite and small club of trademarked properties in the world which includes the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Sydney Opera House.
  • Usually, logos, brand names, combination of colours, numerals and even sounds are trademarked but the registration of an architectural design has never been attempted since the Trademark Act came into force in 1999.
  • The Taj Mahal Palace which was built in 1903 even before the Gateway of India, acted as a triangulation point for the Indian Navy to show way towards the harbour. 
  • With IHCL trademarking the building, nobody can now use Taj Mahal Palace's images for commercial purposes without paying the company a licensing fee. 

International Events

Australia Announces Online Visa Application Facility For Indians

  • The Australian government today announced that Indian nationals can apply for a visitor visa online starting July 1.
  • The online application option would make applying for the country's visitor visas easier and enhance the experience for Indians. There has been a significant increase in demand for Australian visas in India with the rising popularity of Australia as a holiday destination
  • It will offer benefits like 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online, all through the department's ImmiAccount portal

AIIB Approves Argentina, Madagascar and Tonga as New Members

  • The board of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved the applications of Argentina, Madagascar and Tonga to be members
  • The three prospective members will officially join once they complete the required domestic processes and deposit the first instalment of capital with the bank,

Sports

Sarfraz Ahmed Named Captain Of ICC Team of Champions Trophy

  • Virat Kohli along with three Indians were named in the ICC Team of the Champions Trophy 2017, with Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed named its captain
  • The ICC Team of the Champions Trophy 2017 includes seven players from the two finalists - India and Pakistan.
  • India opener Shikhar Dhawan and Pakistan's Hassan Ali had already won the Golden Bat and Gold Ball trophies for finishing as the most successful batsman and bowler, respectively
  • Bhuvneshwar Kumar also secured a position in the list. 

India win 6 medals in wushu

  • The Indian wushu team bagged six medals, including two gold, at the BRICS Games
  • They also won two silver and as many bronze medals.
  • Indian Wushu players gave tough competition to wushu strongholds China and Russia.
  • M Gyandas won gold medal in Taijiquan/Taijijian, M Bidheswari Devi won silver and L Sanatgombhi Chanu won bronze in Taijiquan/Taijijian event. 
  • Anjul Namdev clinched the gold medal in changquan overall event, Ng. Toshibala won silver in women's changquan event, and Sajan Lama settled for bronze medal in nanquan allround event.

Jinder Mahal beats Randy Orton to retain WWE Championship

  • Jinder Mahal made his first successful defence of the WWE Championship, getting the better of the hometown hero Randy Orton at St Louis, Missouri in the WWE SmackDown Live exclusive pay-per-view Money in the Bank.

Banking & Finance

Paytm Payments Bank set to join UPI platform by August

  • Electronic payment and e-commerce portal, Paytm, will soon launch its payments bank on the unified payment interface. The launch will enable an easier transaction process for its customers and is reported to happen by August this year.
  • The Paytm Payments bank was introduced last month. In the first year alone, it targets to open 31 branches and 3,000 customer service points in a bid to attract 500 million customers by 2020. 
  • Customers who open an account with Paytm Payments bank are allowed to deposit sums up to Rs 1 lakh. 

BankBazaar.com opens office in Malaysia

  • Online financial services marketplace BankBazaar today said it is beginning operations in Malaysia, strengthening its presence in South East Asia.
  • Further, to scale and steer its international operations, BankBazaar has appointed former Visa employee Vipin Kalra to lead the business growth internationally.
  • In line with this vision to expand its foothold across south east Asia, last month, BankBazaar announced an investment of Rs. 5 crore in the Malaysian market and an additional Rs. 10 crore in its Singapore business.
  • As part of its international expansion strategy, the company also plans to begin its operations across Australia, Hong Kong, UAE and the Philippines over the next couple of year

Awards & Achievements

Passport office, Cochin, awarded best passport office in the country

  • Regional Passport Office, Cochin, has won the award for the best passport office in India for the year 2016-17, amongst the big passport offices in the country that falls in category A.
  •  This is for the fourth consecutive year that RPO Cochin is selected for the Passport Seva Puraskar constituted by the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • This year, RPO Cochin had a score of 9.85 out of 10, which is highest among all passport offices in India, irrespective of the category. 
  • The second in this category is Jalandhar with 9.75 score and Ahmedabad at number three with 9.30 score.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs had constituted a working group cum assessment committee on Passport Seva Puraskar to deliberate upon and recommend the methodology of assessment for the award in 2016-17. 
  • The committee recommended the candidature for the award in various discipline that was approved by the ministry.

Rural Development Ministry gives away 144 awards

  • The Rural Development Ministry today gave away 144 awards under various categories to states and other organisations.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Bihar was awarded for constructing the highest number of rural roads while Madhya Pradesh got the award for use of non- conventional construction material in constructing roads.
  • Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka received a special prize for completing more than 95 per cent of their targets
  • Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) PMAY-G, Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee was awarded for providing technical vetting of housing typologies and the NIC team of the ministry for its technical support.

Science & Technology

NASA Finds 10 'Earth-Like' Worlds

  • Astronomers using the Kepler space telescope have detected 219 possible new exoplanets in our galaxy, including 10 relatively small, rocky and possibly habitable planets similar to our own
  • These are the last additions to the catalog of exoplanets compiled during the first phase of the Kepler mission, when the space telescope scanned some 200,000 stars in the Cygnus constellation in an effort to find worlds beyond our own. 
  • The official catalog now contains 4,034 total "candidates" - tiny blips in the data that are thought to signal the presence of a planet around a star.
  • The Kepler space telescope was launched into orbit around the sun in 2009.

Lockheed Martin Signs Pact With Tata to Make F-16 Fighter Jets in India

  • US-based aerospace and defense manufacturing firm Lockheed Martin announced on Monday that it will partner with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to manufacture and export the F-16 Block 70 aircraft from India.
  • .The F-16 Block 70 is ideally suited to meet the Indian Air Force's single-engine fighter needs and this unmatched U.S.-Indian industry partnership directly supports India's initiative to develop private aerospace and defense manufacturing capacity in India
  • India's air force needs hundreds of aircraft to replace its Soviet-era fleet, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has said foreign suppliers would have to make the planes in India with a local partner to help build a domestic industrial base and cut outright imports.

China plans to send mini-ecosystems to Moon

  • In a first, China is planning to send mini-ecosystems - containing potato seeds and silkworm eggs - to the Moon next year, in an attempt to study how the organisms develop on the lunar surface.
  • The 3-kilogramme mini-ecosystem, developed by research teams led by Chongqing University in China, will be sent to the Moon by the Chang'e 4 scheduled to launch in 2018, authorities announced at the Global Space Exploration Conference.
  • An 18-centimetre-tall cylinder will carry potato seeds and silkworm eggs to be incubated.
  • The silkworms will hatch and create carbon dioxide, while the potato plants will generate oxygen, 
  • Zhang Yuanxun, has designed the ecosystem

Obituary

Predhiman Krishan Kaw, father of India’s nuclear fusion, dies

  • The father of India's nuclear fusion reactor research programme, Padma Shri Prof Predhiman Krishan Kaw, died
  • He was the founder director of Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, an institute that catapulted India to being one among the seven member entities that is building the world's largest fusion experiment — the US $ 14 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Kaw was the first chairman of the ITER Council Science and Technology Advisory Committee and led the committee's deliberations from 2007 to 2009.
  • He was named the 2015 laureate of the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Prize for "outstanding contributions" in the field of plasma physics. 
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