Current Affairs: 18 August 2017

National Events

Environment Minister Launches “Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali” Campaign

  • Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, launched the “Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali” campaign. Addressing a gathering of about 800 children from schools of Delhi and NCR, the Minister impressed upon the children the importance of their contribution towards reducing pollution by not bursting harmful fire crackers during Diwali. 
  • As a part of the campaign, the Environment Ministry will undertake various activities to create awareness among various stakeholders and encourage people to participate in combating air pollution.

PM addresses Young Entrepreneurs at the "Champions of Change" initiative organised by NITI Aayog

  • The Prime Minister interacted with Young Entrepreneurs at the "Champions of Change" initiative organised by NITI Aayog at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra.
  • Six groups of Young Entrepreneurs made presentations before the PM on themes such as - Soft Power: Incredible India 2.0; Education and Skill Development; Health and Nutrition; Energizing a sustainable tomorrow; and Digital India; New India by 2022.
  • The Prime Minister described the "Champions of Change" initiative as one effort to bring together diverse strengths for the benefit of the nation and society.
  • The Prime Minister said this initiative would be taken forward and institutionalised in the best possible way. One possibility could be to associate the groups that made presentations today, with the respective departments and Ministries in the Union Government.

Govt extends tax exemption for industry in North East, hilly states

  • As many as 4,284 industrial units in the North East and the Himalayan States will get GST relief in the form of a refund of Central share of CGST and iGST.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday gave its nod for a new scheme to refund the Central share of Central GST (CGST) and integrated GST (iGST) to these units in lieu of the excise exemption lost due to the onset of goods and services tax (GST) and scrapping of excise laws from July 1 this year.
  • The 4,284 eligible industrial units were granted excise duty exemption for the first 10 years after commencement of commercial production under the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion (NEIIPP) 2007 and package for special category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialisation.
  • Under the scheme, if the Centre collects, say, Rs.100 in the form of CGST and iGST, then the aggregate refund will only be Rs.58, that being the Centre’s share under the devolution formula approved by the Finance Commission

Cabinet clears stalled Bihar dam project

  • The Union Cabinet has decided to revive the North Koel Reservoir Project, stalled since 1993, and claims it will irrigate over 40,000 hectares in some of the most backward and drought-prone regions in Jharkhand and Bihar.
  • However, the centre piece of the project, the Mandal dam, will be made smaller than proposed and capacity reduced by up to 85%, to accede to environmental and forest norms.
  • The dam threatened to submerge portions of the Betla National Park and the Palamau Tiger Reserve and in its truncated avatar will cause only “minimal” submergence of the reserve
  • The National Wildlife Board cleared the project two months ago but imposed conditions.
  • A 24 MW power project that was to be part of the original design has also been scrapped.

International Events

Sohail Mahmood Takes Charge as Pak’s High Commissioner to India

  • Pakistan's High Commissioner-designate Sohail Mahmood arrived in India on Wednesday and took charge at the Indian High Commission.
  • He succeeds career diplomat Abdul Basit, who served as the country's envoy for four years.
  • He has wide experience in the diplomatic service having served in various Pakistan missions abroad including Washington and New York.
  • Mahmood served as the Ambassador of Pakistan to Thailand from 2009-2013.

Cabinet approves MoU between India, Sweden on IPR

  • The Union Cabinet cleared MoU signed between India and Sweden on intellectual property right (IPR) cooperation, aimed at benefiting entrepreneurs, investors and businesses.
  • This will enable India to exchange experiences in innovation and IP ecosystems.
  • The MoU establishes a wide-ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programmes and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights
  • As part of the MoU, a joint coordination committee with members from both sides will be established to exchange best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of India and Sweden.

Sports

Lakshya Sen wins Bulgaria Open International Series

  • Young Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen clinched the Bulgaria Open International Series title after notching up a hard-fought win over Croatia's Zvonimir Durkinjak in the men's singles final in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • The Uttarakhand shuttler, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Wednesday, defeated second seed Zvonimir 18-21, 21-12, 21-17 in a 57-minute match. He had beaten Sri Lanka's Dinuka Karunaratna 21-19, 21-14 in the semi-finals

Asensio stars as Real Madrid stroll past Barcelona in Spanish Super Cup win

  • Real Madrid beat Barcelona, 2-0, to complete a 5-1 victory on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup
  • European and Spanish Champions Real Madrid, playing without Cristiano Ronaldo, downed rivals Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate, after a 2-0 second-leg win, to win the Spanish Super Cup. 
  • This was the Los Blancos' 10th Super Cup, compared to Barcelona's 12. Over the two legs, Real youngster Marco Asensio scored two long-range goals while Messi scored Barcelona's only goal.

Banking & Finance

HDFC Bank, PNB & YES Bank cut savings bank rate

  • HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB) and YES Bank have taken a cue from the recent move by State Bank of India (SBI) and a couple of other lenders to lower their savings bank deposit rates.
  • Customers maintaining an SB account balance in HDFC banks of below ₹50 lakh will henceforth earn 3.5 per cent interest against 4 per cent earlier.
  • The new rate, which is applicable to both resident and non-resident customers, is effective from August 19 for both banks.
  • However, customers maintaining an SB account balance of ₹50 lakh and above will continue to earn 4 per cent.
  • YES Bank has slashed its SB rate on deposits below ₹1 lakh to 5 per cent from 6 per cent. On deposits in the Rs. 1 crore and above the slab, the rate has been pared to 6.25 per cent from 6.50 per cent. The new SB rates for resident and non-resident customers will be effective September 1.
  • Syndicate Bank launches 24X7 customer service
  • On the occasion of 71st Independence Day, Syndicate Bank MD and CEO Melwyn Rego launched the Inbound Contact Centre (Customer Service – 24*7) in six Indian languages.
  • Executive Director Ch S S Mallikarjuna Rao, H Bhaskar (GM), M Prasad (GM) and retired MD & CEO Arun Shrivastava were present. 

Awards & Honours

Music icon Bappi Lahiri awarded 7th Dr. Ambedkar award

  • Bappi Lahiri, 1st music director who composed songs for Bharat Ratna Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee & Bharat Ratna Dr. Ambedkar gifted the CDs to Honorable President of India Mr. Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh
  • Bappi Lahiri was awarded 7th Bharat Ratna Dr. Ambedkar Award for his legendary 48 years of musical work in both Bollywood and Hollywood

Reliance Power’s Sasan Mine awarded National Safety Award

  • Reliance Power's Sasan captive coal mine has been awarded the National Safety Award (Mines) for 2013 and 2014.
  • According to the company, its Sasan Mine was awarded for its “commendable safe work environment and safety practices”.
  • The award was given on Thursday at an event held here by President Ram Nath Kovind.
  • The Sasan Mine — Moher and Moher Amlohri Extension coal mines — is a captive fuel source for Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) developed by Sasan Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Power.

Appointments & Resigns

Vishal Sikka resigns as MD and CEO of Infosys

  • Vishal Sikka has resigned as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys. Pravin Rao has been appointed as the interim CEO. 
  • U B Pravin Rao  has been appointed as the Interim CEO of the company
  • Rao is currently the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the entire portfolio of the company’s offerings.Rao oversees the key functions of global sales, global delivery and business enabling functions. 
  • He drives and oversees the continuous renewal of key processes, systems and policies across the company in client relationship management, sales effectiveness, delivery excellence, quality, talent management and leadership development. Pravin is also Chairperson of Infosys BPO.

Adnan Sami, Yesudas appointed Bharat Bhavan trustees

  • Pakistan-origin singer Adnan Sami, who got Indian citizenship last year, and eminent Carnatic musician and playback singer K J Yesudas have been nominated as trustees of the city-based Bharat Bhavan of Madhya Pradesh government 
  • The Bharat Bhavan complex, designed by eminent architect Charles Correa, is located on the banks of picturesque Upper Lake 
  • Indira Gandhi, who was the prime minister, had inaugurated the complex in 1982.
  • The Bharat Bhavan, run by an autonomous trust, is a multi-art centre set up to create an interactive proximity in the verbal, visual and performing arts, according to its website.

Index & Ranking

Serena Williams is the highest-paid female athlete of 2017

  • Forbes recently released its list of the highest-paid female athletes, and to no-one’s surprise, Serena Williams is right at the top and leads by a significant margin.
  • Between June 2016 and June 2017, Williams earned $27 million (R361,19 million), Forbes reports. This is more than double any other female athlete in the world this year. While she’s earned a lot from prize money, much of Williams’ revenue comes from her multitude of endorsements.
  • These include deals with Nike, Intel, Beats by Dre and JPMorgan Chase
Here’s the top 5 list of the highest-paid female athletes in the world:
  • Serena Williams (tennis) – $27 million (R361,19 million)
  • Angelique Kerber (tennis) – $12,6 million (R168,55 million)
  • Danica Patrick (motor racing) – $12,2 million (R163,2 million)
  • Ronda Rousey (UFC) – $11 million (R147,15 million)
  • Venus Williams (tennis ) – $10,5 million (R140,46 million)

Emma Stone named 2017's highest-paid female actor with $26m

  • Emma Stone has been named Hollywood’s best-paid female actor in Forbes’ annual list of top earners.
  • The 28-year-old made $26m in the last 12 months, the majority of which was earned from her Oscar-winning performance in the musical romance La La Land. The film made over $445m worldwide.'
  • Jennifer Aniston comes in a close second, earning $25.5m in the last 12 months. 
  • Former top-ranked Jennifer Lawrence comes in at No. 3

Science & Technology

Low-cost, highly sensitive blood test for cancer detection developed

  • Stanford scientists have developed a low-cost and highly sensitive blood test that may quickly detect cancer growth and spread.
  • The test, called single-colour digital PCR, can detect genetic mutations in minute amounts of DNA released from cancer cells into the blood.
  • The highly sensitive test requires only a fraction of a tube of blood and can detect as few as three mutation-bearing molecules in a single reaction, researchers said.
  • It has the potential to be personalised to recognise mutations unique to any individual cancer,
  • In contrast, molecular tests like the one we have developed will enable patients to be monitored at every visit, and thus have the potential for quickly tracking cancer growth and spread

Tata Power introduces QR code for bill payment

  • Tata Power has introduced a QR code service for bill payments in the megapolis,
  • The QR code linked to Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will be printed on the electricity bills and customers can scan the code with Bhim app or any other UPI-linked bank apps and pay their bills without any hassle,
  • The bill details will be displayed on the app, after which the customer can authorise the payment within a few seconds and his bill will be paid instantaneously with a real time update of the payment in his consumer account.

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