Today Current Affairs 4th February 2017

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Leading stock exchange National Stock Exchange (NSE) on 03rd February 2017 has selected IDFC chief Vikram Limaye as its new CEO and Managing Director, two months after the sudden exit of Chitra Ramkrishna from the top post. NSE's board approved Limaye's name for the top position but a formal announcement would be made later as some formalities need to be completed from his side. The approval of the board, chaired by Ashok Chawla, comes after a four-member search panel suggested Limaye's name from amongst the shortlisted candidates.

In a massive crackdown on unauthorised agencies offering Aadhaar-related services illegally and charging excessive money from the public, UIDAI has got shut down 12 such websites and 12 mobile apps available on the Google Play store. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has further directed authorities for a closure of another 26 such fraudulent and illegal websites and mobile applications.  “Some websites and mobile apps were luring citizens to share their basic information and Aadhaar number under the pretext of getting them Aadhaar card or offering other Aadhaar related services. We have taken strict action against them,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told.  

In a bid to discourage cash transactions, the country’s second-largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has decided to steeply increase the fees for savings account holders on a slew of activities involving cash.  HDFC Bank has decided to steeply raise the charges on certain transactions, capping cash component in others and also introducing charges on certain transactions from 01st March 2017. The bank has capped the third-party transactions at Rs. 25,000 a day, reduced the number of free cash transactions at branches to four from five earlier and also raised the fee for non-free transactions by a steep 50 per cent to Rs.150.  Earlier, it used to allow Rs. 50,000 cash transactions, both withdrawals and deposits per day, the official said, adding the review is only for salary and savings accounts.  

Scientists have discovered evidence of two billion years of volcanic activity on Mars. The discovery was made following an analysis of a meteorite from the planet, which was found in Africa in 2012. The finding confirms that some of the oldest volcanoes present in the solar system may be found on Mars. It also offers new evidence on the planet’s evolution and gives more insight into its history of volcanic activity. The study was published in a journal called Science Advances. Olympus Mons with a height of almost 27.3 kilometres is the largest volcano on Mars. It is nearly the triple the size of Earth tallest volcano, Mauna Kea which has a height of 10 kilometres. Most of the information researchers have regarding the composition of rocks from volcanoes on the red planet comes from the meteorites found on Earth. Analysis of different substances found on the meteorite revealed its age, its magma source, the length of time in space and the time it has spent on Earth’s surface.   Meteorite : Called Northwest Africa 7635, the meteorite was discovered in 2012 in Africa. It was found to be a type of volcanic rock called shergottite.Eleven of such rocks with similar chemical composition and ejection time have been found on Earth, indicating a similar origin. The meteorites are fragments of rocks that escaped into space and crossed Earth’s orbit after a massive collision on Mars surface hit a volcano or lava plain one million years ago. While the age of previously analysed meteorites ranges from 327 million to 600 million years, the age of Northwest Africa 7635 is over 2.4 billion years, indicating that it was ejected from one of the longest-lived volcanoes in the solar system.  

World Cancer Day (WCD) 2017 was observed across the world on 4 February 2017. The theme for the World Cancer Day 2016-2018 is ‘We can. I can.’ The theme throws light on how everyone, as a collective or as individuals, can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. It also aims at saving millions of preventable deaths each year. Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). World Cancer Day : World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which is a leading international non-governmental organisation. It was found to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration written in 2008. The primary goal of the day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer by 2020. It also aims at raising awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. Multiple initiatives run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by cancer.

The most expensive silk saree was made by Chennai Silks and was sold for around Rs.40 lakh in January 2008, according to Guinness World Records. The saree featured reproductions of 11 paintings by Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma and took about 4,760 man-hours to produce. The saree, studded with gold, diamond, emerald, and other precious stones, weighed around 8 kilograms.  1. Gold 59 gms 700 milli grams  2. Diamond 3 carats 913 cents  3. Platinum 120 milli grams  4. Silver – 5grams  5. Ruby 2 carat 985 cent  6. Emerald 55 cent  7. Yellow sapphire – 3 cent  8. Sapphire – 5 carat  9. Cat eye-14 cent  10. Topaz -10 cent  11. Pearl-2 gms  12. Coral-400 milligrams  

Anushka Sharma appointed as the new ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Campaign.  She will join Swach Bharat Abhiyaan along with Mr Amitabh Bachchan for the same. She is the female ambassador of this massive country wide campaign, and has been picked for her popularity with youth across rural and urban India, particularly women. In her new role as the female ambassador of the campaign, she will highlight the women-centric aspects of open defecation in rural and semi-rural area.   

Indian cueist Pankaj Advani clinched his 29th Indian National Snooker Championship title on February 2, 2017 at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana, Pune. The World Champion defeated Pandurangaiah of Railways 6-0 in a one-sided final. With this win, Advani has become the only Indian player to win all the national titles in both the long and short formats of snooker, 6-red Snooker and 15-red Snooker.

In the latest Global 500 rankings of most valuable and powerful brands across the globe,Sundar Pichai’s Google has surpassed Apple to achieve the top position. The Brand Finance Global 500 list published on February 2, 2017 had featured Apple as the top brand for continuous five years. However, for 2017, the ranking revealed that Google’s brand value rose by 24 percent to $109.5bn in 2016. The brand value of Apple on the other hand dropped 27 percent to $107bn. This is for the first time since 2011 that Google has been placed at the top spot. The third place has been occupied by Amazon. The ranking is based upon factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.  

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on February 2, 2017 permitted the NRIs to have access to the exchange traded currency derivatives (ETCD) market. This will enable the NRIs to hedge the currency risk due to making investment in India. Till date NRIs were allowed to hedge their currency risk through Over-The-Counter (OTC) transaction with the Authorized Dealer (AD) banks. Access to ETCD market will provide them an additional hedging option though subjected to certain conditions. Firstly NRIs would have to nominate a bank that will monitor and report the position of the NRI concerned in the OTC and ETCD segments. Besides, NRIs may hedge currency risk on balances held in NRE account, market value of their permissible limit of Rupee investment in debt and equity as allowed under FEMA 1999 and any dividend due. The NRIs would be liable to maintain the permissible limit of investment. If the magnitude of exposure will exceed the limit, NRIs would be liable for penal action by RBI.  

Right to Information (RTI) Act has come into effect in Sri Lanka from February 3, 2017. RTI was one of the major announcements made by the present Sri Lankan government ahead of the 2015 election. RTI Commission which comprises of 5 persons namely Mahinda Gammanpila, KishaliPinto-Jayawardena, S. G Punchihewa, Judge A. W. A. Salam and Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran , is vested with a variety of powers and is responsible for ensuring people can utilize the Right to Information effectively. The public authorities under which the RTI request falls are liable to respond to these requests within the specified timelines, subject to a maximum of 28 days. Sankhitha Gunaratne, RTI Manager of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) informed that public can now start filing RTI request. This RTI law overrides all other written laws in this respect and all information can be revealed if the greater public interest is served by disclosing the information.  

One of the India’s international border, 3,323-km-long India-Pakistan border runs through four states, Jammu and Kashmir , Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat .will have smart fencing soon said by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on February 3, 2017 The fencing method will have a multi-tier security system in case of any infiltration bid or attempts to cut the fence, security personnel will get an alarm. Apart from this, Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) is also being worked out by the government where the security of Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders.  

The Union Ministry of Railways has signed an MoU with an Italian Firm Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group) for technical cooperation in rail sector on February 2, 2017 with focus on safety operations. The MoU was signed between Shri Vinod Kumar, Executive Director/Safet(coordination), Railway Board on behalf of Ministry of Railways and Shri Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of FS Group, Italy. The main aim of the MoU is cooperation in safety audit of Indian Railways, measures required for enhancing safety in train operation, Assessment and certification of advanced technology based safety products and systems to Safety Integrity Level (SIL4), Training and competency development with focus of safety, Modern trends in Maintenance and diagnostic etc. The FS Group is an Italian Government Company that manages the Italian railway sector.  It has technical and managerial railway expertise due to which it is widely recognised at international level and is one of the most advanced worldwide players in design andrealisation of High Speedand Conventional Lines, Safety Systems, Certification, Training and Operation and Maintenance.    

The Union Government has inaugurated Centre of Integrative Oncology, an institute dedicated to building collaboration in the areas of cancer prevention, research and care in New Delhi.  The Centre will pave the way to carry forward the ongoing bilateral dialogue and facilitate collaboration with stakeholders, both national and international.  It will also be the clearing house for information for AYUSH projects on cancer research and management.  Besides, a fellowship programme was also launched as part of which 5 post-doctoral and 5 senior research fellowships given out each year to facilitate quality research on cancer.

India and Norway have founded a Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate life-saving research and development for epidemics. Accordingly, CEPI has been founded by governments of India (Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Health) and Norway, the Welcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum in collaboration with industry, other governments, foundations regulatory bodies, civil society and the WHO.  The CEPI will prioritise list of diseases against which vaccines are most feasible to overcome barriers for development of vaccines. With an objective to tackle disease outbreaks due to epidemic-prone diseases, the government has launched Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme which is implemented in all states and UTs.  Besides a network of viral research and diagnostic laboratories has been set up across the country to deal with epidemic of diseases of viral origin.  

The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 3, 2017 by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.The Bill provides for holding, transfer and receiving of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, which were demonetized after November 8, 2016, as a criminal offence and punishable with a minimum fine of Rs 10,000. It seeks to replace the ordinance on demonetization announced by the government in December 2016. The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill will end the liability of RBI and the government on the demonetized currency notes. The bill mentions that the demonetisation decision of the union government was based on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board as an effective measure to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system.  

The 40-year-old Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has been an outstanding example of conflict resolution but scarcity of water in the basin states since the early 1990s has brought the agreement under strain and its “survival appears weak”, according to a UN report.  “The treaty fails to address two issues: the division of shortages in dry years between India and Pakistan, when flows are almost half as compared to wet years, and the cumulative impact of storages on the flows of the River Chenab into Pakistan,” said the UNDP report titled ‘Development Advocate Pakistan’.  

The working and ways of North Block might not be new for Sanjeev Sanyal, the newly appointed principal economic adviser in department of Economic affairs.  A Rhodes Scholar with a degree in Economics from Oxford and an alumnus of Delhi’s Sriram College, Sanyal is son of a former bureaucrat.  Sanyal, a bestselling author, has made his mark in diverse areas such as environment and sustainable development, urban issues, microfinance as well as foreign investment, making him eminently suitable for this public policy role.  The appointments committee of cabinet has approved Sanyal’s appointment for three years on contract basis.  Sanyal, in his mid-forties, is known for his out of the box thinking. At a time when micro-lending was a non-profit initiative and had not reached any scale, Sanyal was among the few to visualise its potential and proposed the need for promoters bringing in equity in the business to make them more accountable.