Current Affairs: 29 June 2017

National Events

7th Pay Commission allowances finally get government nod

  • The 7th Pay Commission’s recommendations on Allowances was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday after making 34 modifications. 
  • The revised rates will take effect from 1 July 2017. The revised allowances will benefit at least 47 lakh employees. 
  • The increased allowance will impose an additional annual burden of Rs 30,748 crore on the exchequer. 
  • The modification, which is based on the recommendations of Committee on Allowances, will result in an additional burden of Rs 1,448 crore over and above suggestions made by 7th Central Pay Commission.
  • House Rent Allowance will be paid at 24, 16 and eight per cent for X, Y and Z categories of cities, respectively.
  • HRA will not be less than Rs 5,400, Rs 3,600 and Rs 1,800 for X, Y, and Z categories of cities, respectively, calculated at 30, 20 and 10 per cent of minimum pay of Rs 18,000.
  • The CPC recommended revision of HRA when DA reaches 50 per cent and 100 per cent. The government decided to revise rates when DA crosses 25 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively.
  • Siachen Hardship Allowance increased to Rs 42,500 per month.
  • For JCOs and Other Ranks, the hardship allowance for Siachen will be Rs 30,000 compared to the 7th Pay Commission's recommendation of Rs 21,000. The JCOs and ORs were getting Rs 14,000 per month as hardship allowance for Siachen at present.
  • For the defence personnel in peace areas, Ration Money Allowance will now be given in "cash" and it will be directly transferred to their bank accounts.
  • Allowances like washing, uniform, kit maintenance, outfit have been rationalised and subsumed in the newly-proposed dress allowance to be paid annually in four slabs Rs 5000, Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 per annum for various categories of employees.
  • Rate of Children Education Allowance has been increased from Rs 1,500 per month per child (maximum 2) to Rs 2,250. Hostel Subsidy will also go up from Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,750 per month.

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India switches to liberal regime for oil, gas exploration

  • India has joined a select league of nations that offer areas for exploration and production of oil and gas round the year on liberal fiscal terms including marketing and pricing freedom.
  • Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today inaugurated Indias maiden National Data Repository (NDR), which stocks information on hydrocarbons prospects of 3.14 million sq km of sedimentary basins.
  • With this, India has switched over to the Open Acreage Licensing (OAL) regime where companies can choose areas they want to explore, 
  • Under OAL, companies can visit NDR and look at vast seismic data of currently producing fields and explored areas as also those of unexplored areas.
  • From the areas that are not under any licensee, they can then carve out an area suitable to them and evince interest in doing exploration and production.
  • Once an area is selected, the government will put it up for bidding and any firm offering the maximum share of oil or gas produced from the area would be awarded the block, he said.
  • Till now, the government has been selecting and demarcating areas it feels can be offered for bidding in an exploration licensing round.

EC joins hands with Facebook for new voter registration

  • The Election Commission will launch a special drive to enrol new electors, and has collaborated with Facebook to launch a ‘voter registration reminder’ on July 1.
  • According to an official release, a notification of the ‘voter registration reminder’ will be sent on July 1 to people who are eligible to vote on Facebook.
  • The reminder will be sent out in 13 Indian languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.
  • By clicking on the ‘register now’ button, people will be directed to the national voters’ services portal (www.nvsp.in) which will guide them through the registration process.

NPPA announces ceiling price for 761 medicines

  • Country’s drug price regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Tuesday announced provisional ceiling prices for 761 medicines, including HIV, diabetes, anti-cancer and antibiotic. Prices for a majority of drug are being reduced as the GST regime is nearing its implementation deadline of July 1.
  • According to NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh, the actual increase or decrease in drug prices post-GST is expected to be in the range of 2-3% depending on states.
  • The ceiling price of HIV combination drug of Tenofovir (300mg), Lamivudine (300mg) and Efavirenz (600mg) has been fixed at Rs 89.69 per tablet, down from Rs 93.52 per tablet. 
  • Price of one tablet of HIV treatment drug Darunavir has been fixed at Rs 151.4, down from Rs 157.93. 
  • Besides, cost of one tablet of Lamivudine and Zidovudine combination has been reduced to Rs 18.20 from Rs 18.98 currently

‘War room’ set up to deal with GST crises

  • Equipped with multiple phone lines and computer systems and manned by tech-savvy youngsters, a “mini war room” has been set up in the finance ministry to deal with crises related to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • t the unit will act as a quick resource centre for Central and State government officials to address their queries on the historic tax reform scheduled to be implemented from July 1.

Odisha to set up blood bank for cattle

  • Odisha is all set to become the first state in the country to have a blood bank for the cattle.
  • First of its kind blood bank would be established on the premises of OUAT at an estimated cost of Rs. 3.25 crore.
  • The cattle farmers will provide blood voluntarily. The blood bank will also go and collect blood from centres. 
  • Blood transfusion facility for cattle blood will also be done at the proposed blood bank. This will prevent death of cattle during deliveries and other ailments

International Events

Unesco announces Sharjah as World Book Capital 2019

  • Signalling a groundbreaking achievement for the UAE and the Arab world, Sharjah has been crowned with the prestigious 'World Book Capital' title for 2019 by Unesco.
  • The honour is a recognition of the emirate's pioneering role in supporting and expanding the local and regional publishing industries, promoting reading to become an intrinsic cultural practice, as well as embracing intercultural, knowledge-based dialogue.
  • The accolade is an important addition to Sharjah's existing portfolio of milestones like, Capital of Arab Culture (1998), Capital of Islamic Culture (2014), and Capital of Arab Tourism (2015). More so, the emirate is the first in the GCC and third in the Arab world and Middle East to have received this recognition.
  • An international committee of Unesco experts reached the decision at a meeting held at the headquarters of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) at La Haye. Sharjah has been chosen for the quality of its literary and cultural activities, and for its unfailing efforts to make books accessible to the entire population of the nation.
  • Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital. It was preceded by Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Antwerp (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Yerevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Conakry (2017) and Athens (2018).

India, Netherlands sign 3 agreements

  • India and the Netherlands on Tuesday signed three agreements, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on water cooperation, following a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Dutch Premier Mark Rutte
  • Focusing on trade, technology and investment, Modi interacted with CEOs of major Dutch companies after holding bilateral talks with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.The two countries signed three MoUs in the fields of social security, water cooperation and cultural cooperation.

China launches new class of naval destroyer

  • China's military on Wednesday launched a new type of domestically-built destroyer,the latest addition to the country's rapidly expanding navy.
  • The 10,000-tonne warship was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, the official Xinhua news agency said, making it the first of the People's Liberation Army Navy's "new generation" destroyers.
  • The ship was believed to be the first Type 055 destroyer, which is considered to be a successor class to the smaller Type 052D guided missile destroyers.

Awards & Honours

Adi Godrej, Andrew Liveris bag USIBC Global Leadership Awards

  • Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveries have been awarded the Global Leadership Awards of the US-India Business Council for their role in integrating India in the global supply chain.
  • Liveris and Godrej were presented with the prestigious annual award yesterday at the USIBCs annual gala.
  • Both were honored for creating inclusive business environments, integrating India in the global supply chain and advancing core values such as manufacturing, innovation and scale in tough market conditions

Hyderabad-based TS Vineeth Bhatt conferred with the 'best astrologer of world' award

  • Hyderabad based astrologer and numerologist TS Vineeth Bhatt has been conferred with the 'Best astrologer of the world' award at the 'Russian-Indian economic dialogue' round-table meet held in Moscow 
  • Bhatt, 37, is from Kerala and lives in Bowenpally. Three generations of his family have been practising astrology. 
  • He is a personal astrologer to ministers, ambassadors, senators across the globe. 

Oxford poet honoured by Indian President for Hindi works

  • AN Oxford poet has been honoured with a national award by the Indian Government for promoting Hindi literature abroad.
  • Dr Padmesh Gupta, who is also the director of Oxford Business College, was given the Padmabhushan Moturi Satyanarayana award from the President of India last month.
  • It recognises his commitment to promoting and propagating his native Hindi with poetry he has published.
  • He was given the award at a special ceremony at the Sevi Samman Awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official home of the President of India in New Delhi, on May 30.

U'khand gets award of excellence at international meet

  • Uttarakhand was conferred with the award of excellence at the 2nd Global Skill Development Summit held in Paris recently for innovations and extensive use of IT for skilling the state's youth. 
  • Project Director of Uttarakhand Skill Development Committee Pankaj Kumar Pandey received the honour 
  • A new initiative is being taken to impart high quality job oriented training to the state's youth so that they could avail of employment opportunities in the tourism, beauty and wellness, agriculture, health and security sectors,

Appointments

Trump appoints Indian-American as US Ambassador to Peru

  • U.S. President Donald Trump has appointed Indian-American Krishna R Urs as the new US Ambassador to Peru.
  • A career service American diplomat since 1986, Mr. Urs is currently Charge d’ Affaires of the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain, where he was also the Deputy Chief of Mission.
  • During his three decades of State Department service, Mr. Urs has specialised in economic issues and developed extensive policy experience in the Andean region of South America.
  • He has served at seven US embassies as well in senior leadership positions in Washington, DC, a media release said.
  • Mr. Urs earned a MS from the University of Texas and a BS from Georgetown University. He speaks fluent Spanish as well as some Hindi and Telugu.

Dr. Manoj Soni takes Oath as Member, UPSC

  • Dr. Manoj Soni, former Vice Chancellor of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, took the Oath of Office and Secrecy as Member, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) here today. The Oath was administered by the UPSC Chairman Prof. David R. Syiemlieh.
  • Born on 17th February, 1965, Dr. Soni, a scholar of Political Science with specialization in International Relation Studies, earned his doctorate in "Post-Cold War International Systemic Transition and Indo-US Relations" from Sardar Patel University. 
  • Dr. Manoj Soni has been the youngest-ever Vice Chancellor in independent (India).

Vidya Balan On Being Ambassador Of The Indian Film Festival Of Melbourne

  • The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), which is supported by the Victorian Government, will run from August 10 to August 22 this year. This year the theme is diversity. Over 60 films from India, indie films and short films in 20 different languages will be screened - these films will be from India and the subcontinent.
  • This year, Vidya Balan returns as the ambassador of the festival. 

Vijay Keshav Gokhale appointed economic relations secy in MEA

  • Senior diplomat Vijay Keshav Gokhale was tonight appointed as the economic relations secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). 
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
  • Gokhale, a 1981-batch officer of Indian Foreign Service (IFS), is at present India's envoy to China.
  • He was the High Commissioner of India to Malaysia from January 2010 to October 2013. 
  • From October 2013 to January 2016, Gokhale was the Ambassador of India to Germany.

Union Government appoints NIFT Chairperson

  • The Union Government has appointed Shri Rajesh V. Shah as Chairperson on the Board of Governors of the National Institute of Fashion Technology up to 31.03.2019 in place of Shri Chetan Chauhan as per the provisions of the National Institute of Fashion Technology Act, 2006.

Science & Technology

ISRO’s GSAT-17 launched successfully from French Guiana

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s latest communication satellite GSAT-17 was Thursday successfully launched around 2.00 am by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana. Configured around I-3K extended bus, the 3,477 kg GSAT-17 carries payloads in Normal C-band, Extended C-band and S-band to provide various communication services. 
  • The satellite also carries equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.
  • The launch of GSAT-17 will be the third satellite launch by ISRO this month, the other two being the first developmental flight of GSLV MkIII and PSLV C-38 missions, both from Sriharikota spaceport. 
  • The recent launches by the space agency were GSAT-19 satellite on June 5 and the PSLV-C38 that orbited Cartosat-2 Series satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites on June 23 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

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