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Current Affairs: 8 March 2017

Published on Wednesday, March 08, 2017

HDFC Life brings country's first life insurance Chatbot with Haptik 

  • HDFC Life, one of India's leading private life insurance companies, announced the launch of India's first life insurance chatbot in collaboration with Haptik, India's largest chatbot platform. 
  • The chatbot will act as a financial guide to help users choose the most suitable life insurance plans and solutions. 
  • This chatbot aims to assist the customers with insurance advice - ranging from Health to Tax Planning & Retirement, based on a simple 60-second quiz which enables it to compute their Insurance Quotient. 
  • Calculated using different parameters under each insurance category, the Insurance Quotient is an indicative score for each individual, based on which, HDFC Life can recommend the best-suited insurance plans for the user.
  •  The chatbot not only works as a personal financial advisor but also brings to the forefront the universal need for life insurance. 
  • The chatbot will be live for only two weeks from the date of its launch on the Haptik app, which is available on both iOS and Android. 

What is Chatbot?

  • A chatbot (also known as a talkbot, chatterbot, Bot, chatterbox, Artificial Conversational Entity) is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test. 
  • Chatterbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition. 
  • The term "ChatterBot" was originally coined by Michael Mauldin (creator of the first Verbot, Julia) in 1994 to describe these conversational programs.
  • There are two main types of chatbots, one functions based on a set of rules, and the other more advanced version uses artificial intelligence. 
  • The chatbots based on rules, tend to be limited in functionality, and are as smart as they are programmed to be. On the other end, a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence, understands language, not just commands, and continuously gets smarter as it learns from conversations it has with people.


Founded: 2000
Headquarters: Mumbai, India
MD & CEO:  Amitabh Chaudhry & 
ED & CFO: Vibha Padalkar,

Hyderabad airport ranks 1st in world in airport service quality

  • GMR’s Hyderabad International Airport has secured first position in the world in the prestigious Airports Council International (ACI)-Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey in the 5-15 million passengers per annum (MPPA) category for the year 2016.
  • The survey shows that Hyderabad Airport has steadily improved its score from 4.4 in 2009 to 4.9 in 2016 (measured on scale of 1 to 5)
  • Hyderabad Airport, running in to its 9th year of operations, is designed to cater to 12MPPA. It has witnessed a growth of more than 20% in the last year with a passenger throughput of close to 15MPPA in calendar year 2016.
  • As the industry’s most comprehensive passenger service benchmarking tool, the ACI ASQ survey has reliably captured passengers’ immediate appraisal from check-in through departure at the gate at more than 300 airports worldwide
  • The ASQ award ceremony will be held at the 27th ACI Africa/World Annual General Assembly, Conference & Exhibition in Port Louis, Mauritius from 16-18 October

What is ACI?

  • Airports Council International (ACI) is the only global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities. Established in 1991, ACI represents airports’ interests with governments and international organizations, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and it provides information and training opportunities to raise the standards around the world. 
  • It aims to provide the public a safe, secure, efficient and an environmentally responsible air transport system.
  • It is governed by the ACI Governing Board. ACI World is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ACI works on a daily basis with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and is a member of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

First smart tribal village inaugurated in Jammu & Kashmir

  • Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali inaugurated the first smart tribal model village 'Hubbi' in Rajouri district of the state. The Rural Development Department has introduced smart classes in schools, better roads, electricity, and water facility in the village.

Smart Tribal Village scheme

  • Launched in: November 2016
  • Launched by: Minister for CA&PD and Tribal Affairs Choudhary Zulfkar Ali 
  • In the first phase, Hubbi and Targain villages of district Rajouri would be taken up for holistic development under convergence plan.

National Conference on Jal Kranti held in Delhi 

  • Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti inaugurated a national conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan in New Delhi. About 700 participants representing various stakeholder groups such as farmers, panchayat members, NGOs and students will attend the day-long conference. 
  • Ministry of Water Resources and River Development had launched Jal Kranti Abhiyan on June, 2015 to consolidate water conservation and management in the country through a holistic and integrated approach involving all stakeholders.
  • One of the main objectives of the Abhiyan is strengthening grass root involvement of all stakeholders including panchayati raj institutions and local bodies for participatory irrigation management.

Jal Kranti Abhiyan 

  • It was launched on 5th June, 2015 across the country
  • Jal Kranti Abhiyan is being celebrated during the year 2015-16 to consolidate water conservation and management in the country through a holistic and integrated approach involving all stakeholders, making it a mass movement. 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wins best actress award for Sarbjit at international film festival

  • Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s film Sarbjit has given her yet another reason to celebrate. The actor who played the character of Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur, has won the Best Actress award at the International Film Festival and Awards of Australia (IFFAA). 
  • Sarbjit The Film, directed by Omung Kumar, was the biopic on Sarabjit Singh, an Indian farmer who was convicted of terrorism and spying in Pakistan and was sentenced to death. He was attacked by inmates at a prison in Lahore in April 2013 and died a few days later. 

IISc makes it to top 10 global universities ranking

  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore has become the first Indian educational institution to make it to the top 10 of a global ranking for universities.
  • IISc has been ranked eighth in the Times Higher Education or THE Rankings, 2017 in the “best small universities” category, joining the elite list that includes California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from the US, Ecole Normale Superieure from France and Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea.
  • Small universities are those with a student strength of less than 5,000.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings

  • It was founded in 2004 by the UK-based Times Higher Education (THE) magazine.
  •  It provides the definitive list of the world’s best universities, evaluated across teaching, research, international outlook, reputation and more.


  • It is a public university for scientific research and higher education, was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata and Sir Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore.
  • In 2015-16, it became the first Indian institute to be ranked among the top 100 in THE World University Rankings for engineering and technology at 99th position.

Indo-Nepal joint Military exercise 'Surya Kiran-X' begins

  • A joint military exercise 'Surya Kiran-Xi' between India and Nepal began in Pithoragarh area of Uttarakhand.
  • This is a battalion level joint exercise between the two armies.
  • The two-week long exercise is aimed at training of both the troops in the area of various counter insurgency operations over a prolonged period.
  • It will also focus on other important aspects such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and environmental conservation.
  • Both the armies will mutually benefit from the varied experiences gained during the exercise.
  • The Surya Kiran series of exercises are being conducted biannually, alternatively in India and Nepal.

PM Modi releases postage stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi released a commemorative postage stamp on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India. 
  • Hesaid India's spirituality is its strength, and it is unfortunate that some people link even spirituality with religion, whereas the two are very different.

 Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS)

  • It was founded in 1917 by Paramahansa Yogananda, whose Autobiography of a Yogi has introduced millions of truth seekers all over the world to yoga and meditation, and whose universal Kriya Yoga teachings provide methods for achieving spiritually harmonious lives and enable us to contribute to a more compassionate and peaceful world. 

Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)

  • The Union cabinet on Monday approved India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention).
  • The convention is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to facilitate seamless movement of goods within and among the parties to the Convention.
  • The move will remove the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders and physical escorts en route shall be eliminated due to reciprocal recognition of customs controls.
  • The movement of goods under the TIR can be allowed by checking only the seals and the external conditions of the container, reducing border delays, transport and transaction costs. This will result in increased competitiveness and growth for the trade and transport sectors.

What is UN Women?

  • In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women 
  • It supports inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
  • To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
  • It leads and coordinates the UN system’s work on gender equality as well as promote accountability, including through regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

Trademark Rules, 2017 Notified: Forms Reduced From 74 To 8, Fee Increased

  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on Monday notified the Trademark Rules, 2017. The Rules bring about two major developments- they slash the number of trademark application forms from 74 to 8, and hike the fee for trademark application

Features of the revamped Rules are as follows:

  • Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced from 74 to 8.
  • Based on stakeholders feedback, the fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced from that proposed in the draft Rules – i.e. only Rs 4,500 as against Rs 8,000 for e-filing of TM applications proposed at the draft stage.
  • Number of adjournments in opposition proceedings has been restricted to a maximum of two by each party, which will help dispose off matters in time.
  • To promote e-filing of TM applications, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing.
  • The provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right upto registration stage (hitherto, it was only upto examination stage).
  • Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.
  • Modalities for service of documents from applicants to the Registry and vice-versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process; e-mail has been made an essential part of address for service to be provided by the applicant or any party to the proceedings so that the office communication may be sent through email.
  • Hearing through video conferencing has been introduced.
  • Procedures relating to registration as Registered User of trademarks have also been simplified.
  • Modalities for determination of well-known trademarks have been laid out for the first time.

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