Current Affairs 18th January 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Tata Motors has appointed Tata group chief designate N Chandrasekaran as its Chairman with immediate effect.  Popularly known as 'Chandra', the 54-year-old will take charge at the helm of $103-billion Tata Sons, the main holding company of the salt-to-software conglomerate from February 21. He will be the first non-Parsi chairman of the 150-year old Tata Group.  At Tata Motors, he will have to take the responsibility of turning around the struggling homegrown auto major which is trying to regain lost ground, specially in the passenger vehicles segment.  Mistry had alleged that the Nano product development called for a car below Rs 1 lakh but the cost was always above this.  This product has consistently lost money, peaking at Rs 1,000 crore," Mistry said in his letter written to Tata Sons board members a day after he was ousted as the Chairman of India's largest conglomerate.  He further stated, As there is no line of profitability for the Nano, any turnaround strategy for the company (Tata Motors) requires to shut it down. Emotional reasons alone have kept us away from this crucial decision.  

Karang, a small lake island in Manipur, has become the country’s first cashless island. The Union ministry of electronics and information technology under its Digital India programme announced Karang as the first cashless island in India.  Confirming it, deputy commissioner M Harekrishna of Bishnupur district stated that island fulfilled the Centre’s necessary criteria. The Karang island is located in the middle of Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. 

Union Railway Ministry has unveiled ‘Mission 41K’ to save Rs. 41,000 crore on the Indian Railways’ expenditure on energy consumption over the next 10 years.  The launch of this programme was announced at a Roundtable Discussion on Energy Initiatives of Indian Railways with external stakeholders headed by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. This target of ‘Mission 41K will be achieved by taking a slew of measures which include moving 90% of traffic to electric traction over diesel from present 50% of the total rail traffic. The railways will also procure more and more electricity at cheaper rates through open market instead of sourcing it through DISCOMs.  Thereby it hopes to save as much as 25% on its energy expenses. New technologies are also being explored to bring down electric consumption and change the energy mix of Indian Railways.  The Electrification Mission will help Indian Railways to reduce dependence on imported fuel, change energy mix, and rationalize the cost of energy for Railways. In the 2016-17 Budget, Indian Railways already had set a target of generating 1000 MW of solar power and 200 MW of wind energy. During 2014-2015 period, Indian Railways had consumed over 18.25 billion units of electrical energy for its traction and non-traction application for which it paid a total of Rs 12,635 crore. In the same period, for diesel traction it spent Rs 18,586 crore.

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has commissioned a very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model for generating operational weather forecasts.  The model has been on trial since September 2016. It has shown significant improvements in skill of daily weather forecasts. It was made operational from January 2017. This model replaces the earlier version which had a horizontal resolution of 25 km which was very helpful, in predicting track and intensity of recent Cyclonic Storm Vardah and cold wave over northern India. MoES’s operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) was upgraded to 12 km.  For this, High Performance Computing (HPC) system resources were augmented to 10 Peta Flops (PFs) from current 1.2 PFs.  The EPS was adopted to overcome problem of uncertainties in the forecasts. It involves the generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions.  The EPS also help generate probabilistic forecasts and quantify the uncertainties. The latest model replaces the earlier version that had a horizontal resolution of 25 km. MoES provides climate, weather and hydrological services to various users round the year and 24/7. Both operational and research aspects for these services are implemented through India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has approved a mission to explore 16 Psyche, an iron-rich asteroid. As part of the mission, NASA craft will be launched in 2023, and will arrive at Psyche in 2030.  The mineral contents on the asteroids are worth over 100-thousand times the value of the entire world economy. Psyche asteroid has diameter in excess of 125 miles and is almost entirely composed of iron and nickel. Scientists believe Psyche to be a protoplanet i.e. its entire body consisting of what one day could be the core of a new planet. The spacecraft will be running tests on 16 Psyche to learn more about the history and composition of the celestial body.  The information gathered will undoubtedly useful to astronomers to learn more about the formation and early life of planets.  The study of Psyche may also reveal more information about the centre of our planet, which cannot be studied directly due to the virtual impossibility of sending a probe deep underground. Astronomers also believe Psyche to contain water, making it a possible candidate for a stellar fuel station, as water can be used to sustain life and synthesize rocket fuel.

The Italian conservative Antonio Tajani  was elected as the President of the European Parliament. To be elected for the post, Tajani defeated another Italian Gianni Pitella with 71 votes. Tajani secured 351 votes, against 282 for Pittella, a socialist. The contest ran to the maximum four rounds. With this election, Tajani succeeds Germany's Martin Schulz. In November Schulz announced that he would return to German politics. Antonio Tajani : He is a former spokesman for Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and an ex-European commissioner. Tajani, 63, is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group of the Parliament. EPP is a party with 217 members from 27 nations. He was appointed to the European Parliament a decade ago and had served two terms there between 2008 and 2014.During his tenure at the parliament, he handled the portfolio of transport sector as well as the industry and entrepreneurship, Earlier, he had worked with the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. European Parliament : The European Parliament is the parliament of the European Union (EU) with three places of work namely Brussels (Belgium), the city of Luxembourg (Luxembourg) and Strasbourg (France). Earlier known as the European Parliamentary Assembly or Common Assembly, the parliament is the only directly elected body among the member countries of European Union. Members of the parliament are elected by EU citizens once every five years. Together with the Council of Ministers, it is the law-making branch of the institutions of the Union.

30 more countries have expressed interest in joining the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). An announcement in this regard was made by Foreign Ministry spokesperson of China Hua Chunying on 17 January 2017. Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank : The primary objective of the bank is to finance infrastructure building in Asia. The bank is expected to fill the infrastructure deficit by playing a complimentary role along with other multi-lateral financial institutions like Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The China-sponsored bank came into existence on 29 June 2015 with the signing of 60-article agreement. So far, the agreement was signed and ratified by 57 countries.The bank has an authorized capital of USD 100 billion. Asian countries will contribute up to 75 per cent of the total capital. The member countries will be allocated a share of the quota based on their economic size. China will contribute USD 29.78 billion to the bank’s total capital base. With this amount, it becomes the AIIB’s largest shareholder with a 30.34 per cent stake.  India is the second-largest shareholder. It has 8.4 per cent stake in the bank.In terms of shareholding, India is followed by Russia. It has a 6.5 per cent stake in the bank. Jin Liqun of China is the President of the bank. India’s nominee D J Pandian was appointed as the Vice-President of the bank in February 2016. Key member countries of AIIB are   : China, India, Russia, Britain, France, Australia, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, South Korea, Qatar, Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Holland, South Africa, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Cambodia, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Malta, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi has signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). The three MoUs have a cumulative net worth of Rs 7670 crore. The signing ceremony was presided over by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda and Union Minister for Urban Development, Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information and Broadcasting Venkaiah Naidu. On this occasion, both the ministers also presented All India Institute of Medical Sciences Leadership Excellence awards. All India Institute of Medical Sciences signed the Memorandums of Understanding with NBCC (India) Limited, HSCC (India) Limited and HITES HLL Life Care Ltd. The Memorandums of Understanding seek to expand infrastructure and other facilities in the AIIMS, New Delhi with an investment of Rs 7670 crore. This is the largest ever health sector investment commitments made by government in a public health project at one event. The MoU with NBCC is of worth Rs 4441 crore. The amount will be utilized for construction of 3060 residential apartments at Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus and 868 apartments at West Ansari Nagar campus. The total augmentation of 3928 units would take the total available residential units of AIIMS to 4505. The detailed proposal will be prepared after wide consultations and deliberations by a broad based committee of faculty. The agreement with HLL Infra Tech Services Limited (HITES) is of worth Rs 729 crore The amount will be utilised to procure all types of medical equipment and services including Medical Gas distribution System, CSSD, Modular Operation Theatres for National Cancer Institute. HSCC was also selected as a project management consultant for the design, tendering, supervision of engineering components and for equipment procurement and allied infrastructure works for the proposed National Cardiovascular Institute (NCVI) at the AIIMS second campus at Jhajjar.  

Astronaut Eugene Cernan, who was the last man to set foot on the Moon, passed away on 16 January 2017. He was 82. Currently, there are only six people who have walked on the moon- Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Charles Duke, Harrison Schmitt, John Young and David Scott.   Eugene Cernan : Cernan began his career as a Naval Aviator flying FJ-4 Fury and A-4 Skyhawk jets.  His time at NASA started with the Gemini program, the precursor to Apollo. Gemini was geared toward working out how humans could survive in space.  Cernan was originally a backup pilot for Gemini 9, but the primary crew was tragically lost in a plane crash just four months before the launch.  Gemini missions successfully completed 47 orbits of the Earth and included a 2-hour spacewalk. He was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963 for the Apollo program that was created to send humans to the moon. His first Apollo mission was Apollo 10, which was the mission before the famous moon landing with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 10 was launched in May of 1969, just a few months before Apollo 11. It was basically a dress rehearsal for the actual moon landing that was to follow.   Cernan set the foot on the moon as commander of Apollo 17, the final manned mission to the lunar surface. The mission reached the moon’s surface on 19 December 1972.   In addition to being the last man to walk on the moon, Cernan has the distinction of being one of only three people to travel to the moon twice.

Twenty five children, 12 girls and 13 boys, have been selected for the national bravery awards 2016. Four of the awards will be given posthumously. Every winner of the award will receive their awards from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 January 2017. These winners of the national award will participate in the parade of republic day, that is, on 26 January 2017. Later, the President Pranab Mukherjee will host a reception in their honour. The coveted Bharat award will be conferred on 8-year-old late Kumari Tarh Peju of Arunachal Pradesh, who sacrificed her life while saving two of her friends from drowning. List of selected children for National Bravery Awards 2016 Geeta Chopra Award: It will be conferred on Tejasweeta Pradhan, (18-year-old) and Shivani Gond (17-year-old) both from West Bengal. They displayed immense courage in helping the police and the NGO in uncovering an International sex racket leading to the arrest of the mastermind in Delhi. Sanjay Chopra Award: It will be conferred on Master Sumit Mamgain (15-year-old) of Uttarakhand who displayed outstanding bravery in fighting a leopard to save his cousin. Bapu Gaidhani Award: The award will be conferred on Late Km. Roluahpuii, (13-year-old) of Mizoram, Master Tushar Verma (15-year-old) of Chhattisgarh and Late Km. H Lalhriatpuii (14-year-old) of Mizoram. Roluahpuii sacrificed her life in her bold and selfless act of saving two girls from drowning. Tushar Verma, risked his life and extinguished a fire in his neighbour’s shed and saved many cattle. Lalhriatpuii sacrificed her life in an effort to save her cousin in a car accident. Other recipients are Late Km. Payal Devi (Jammu & Kashmir) Master Praful Sharma (Himachal Pradesh) Master Akshit Sharma, Km. Akshita Sharma, Master Naman (all from Delhi) Master Sonu Mali (Rajasthan)  Km. Nisha Dilip Patil (Maharashtra)  Km. Anshika Pandey (Uttar Pradesh) Km. Siya Vamansa Khode (Karnataka) Master Adithyan M.P. Pillai, Master Binil Manjaly, Master Akhil K. Shibu and Km. Badarunnisa K.P. (all from Kerala) Master Tankeswar Pegu (Assam)  Km. Neelam Dhruv (Chhattisgarh) Master Moirangthem Sadananda Singh (Manipur) Master Thanghilmang Lunkim (Nagaland) Master Mohan Sethy (Odisha)  

India became an Associate Member State of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) after the Union Government completed its internal approval procedures for the membership. Earlier in November 2016, India signed an agreement with the organisation in this regard. The agreement was signed by Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Sekhar Basu and CERN Director General Fabiola Gianotti in Mumbai. As an Associate member of CERN, India will have full access to all data generated at CERN. Moreover, it can now participate in all the experiments conducted at CERN by paying additional charges. Indian industry will also be entitled to bid for CERN contracts. From now onwards, India will be required to pay around Rs 40 crore every year as an Associate member.  India-CERN relations : India-CERN relations date back to 1991 when both the sides signed a Cooperation Agreement setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation, followed by the signature of several Protocols.  However, India's Tata Institute of Fundamental Research had already been working with CERN since the 1960s. The physicists of the institute were actively participating in experiments at CERN. These physicists were later joined by scientists from the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology in the 1990s.  These institutes built components for the LEP accelerator and the L3, WA93 and WA89 detectors.  All these developments by Indian scientists paved the way for the Indian AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) to take part in the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and to contribute to the CMS and ALICE experiments in 1996.  In recognition of these contributions, India was granted the Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.  Indian scientists were also involved in ISOLDE, a high-tech particle detector and electronics research and n-TOF experiments of CERN.  

Rishi Kapoor’s autobiography, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored was in news in the second week of January 2016.  The book is authored by Rishi Kapoor and Meena Iyer. Released on 20 January 2017, the book came in news because it reveals certain facts about Rishi Kapoor’s life, like meeting with Dawood Ibrahim, one of India’s most-wanted men, on two occasions in Dubai. For the first time, they met in 1998 when Rishi Kapoor was invited to Dawood’s house in Dubai for tea. Defending his meet with the gangster, the actor says that he met him before 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts took place. At that time, Dawood was not an enemy of the state. They, Rishi and Dawood, once again met in 1989, when he was shopping with his wife Neetu Singh in Dubai.  Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored : The book, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored covers the story of Rishi Kapoor, who is a son of a famous father and father of a famous son. The book says that the actor is a hyphen between his father and son.  It narrates how he grew in the shadow of a legendary father and how he skipped school to act in Mera Naam Joker. It also speaks about his encounter with his heroines, his approach to his craft, Dawood Ibrahim, and his tryst with clinical depression among others. Memoir Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored is published by Harper Collins.  

The first ever Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Dance festival concluded on 15 January 2017. The festival was inaugurated by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu at the Shilpakala Vedika in Hyderabad. It was aimed at introducing the unique diversities of the Asia Pacific region and sharing the joys that varied communities across this region feel while they dance. The objective was to create a “bridge” between young people from different parts of the world through dance as an international language. Countries including the Maldives, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Philippines, Fiji, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and India took part in the festival. Each country was encouraged to make their selection in a manner that would help them generate local programming and an enthusiasm for the young to channelize their energy in the arts. It was hosted by the Prasar Bharati, India’s Public Service Broadcaster. Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Dance Festival : The Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a professional association of broadcasters in the Asia Pacific region. The ABU was established in 1964 to assist the development of broadcasting in the region. The association promotes the collective interests of television and radio broadcasters and encourages regional and international co-operation between broadcasters.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into a Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (BAPA) with an Indian subsidiary of a Japanese trading company. With the signing of this agreement, the total number of bilateral APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached eight. Recently, the CBDT modified an existing Bilateral APA with another Indian subsidiary of a Japanese company. All these bilateral APAs were signed as part of the Advance Pricing Agreement Scheme of the Union Ministry of Finance. The Union Government has introduced the Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) Scheme as part of the Finance Act, 2012 and Income Tax (Tenth Amendment) Rules, 2012. The scheme came into force on 30 August, 2012. The APA Scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the field of transfer pricing through an agreement in advance.  Such an agreement is entered into by the CBDT with the tax payers on the transfer price of international transactions between associated entities. Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) : Transfer pricing is the setting of the price for goods and services sold between related legal entities within an enterprise. For instance, if a subsidiary company sells goods to a parent company, the cost of those goods paid by the parent to the subsidiary is known as the transfer price.  An APA is an agreement between a taxpayer and the tax authority determining the transfer pricing methodology for pricing the tax payer’s international transactions for future years. An APA can be unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral. A Unilateral APA is an APA that involves only the taxpayer and the tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located. Bilateral APA (BAPA) is an APA that involves the tax payer, associated enterprise (AE) of the taxpayer in the foreign country, tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located and the foreign tax authority. Multilateral APA (MAPA) is an APA that involves the taxpayer, two or more AEs of the tax payer in different foreign countries, tax authority of the country where the taxpayer is located and the tax authorities of AEs. By agreeing in advance the arm’s length pricing to be applied to the tax payer’s international transactions, an APA provides certainty with respect to the tax outcome of the tax payer’s international transactions.  

Tamil Nadu government celebrate the birth centenary of Former CM of Tamil Nadu, M G Ramachandran on January 17, 2017 AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala and CM O Panneerselvam were organised the birth centenary celebrations in Chennai.Sasikala gave away welfare assistance to many persons. T Murthy, Director General of Postal Services, India Post released the special postage stamp as a part of this celebration MGR : MGR is a legendary hero in Tamil cinema. He is well Known for his flamboyant acting and songs preaching values and virtues. He was the AIADMK founder and he has served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu between 1977 and 1987.

Indian state-owned telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched mobile TV service ‘Ditto TV‘ and ‘Limited Fixed Mobile Telephony’ in New Delhi on January 16, 2017. Ditto TV is a mobile TV service wherein subscriber can view live TV for 80 plus channels with 7 days back-up facility . The service also comes with various additional features i.e. single sign-in across multiple devices, persistent play back, interactive search, electronic program guide, easy channel switching for Live TV, intuitive user interface consistent across all devices, social login. Limited Fixed Mobile Telephone is facility of fixed telephone number with O/G and I/C calls on smart mobile devices such as smart phones with Wi-Fi facility.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has registered Sitalpati or cool mat from the Cooch Behar district, West Bengal as an “intangible cultural heritage”. The Sitalpati are the mats that are used for siting or hanging on the doors or windows during summer season. They are made up of weaved green cane slips of murta plants widely found in the region. The traditional weaving culture of the reagion was facing gradual decline, as a result it was placed in a project by UNESCO “Rural Craft Hub project”. The project envisages setting up of training, marketing centres and museums in 10 locations across nine districts of the state to help in promoting and marketing crafts famous in the regions to national and international tourists.  

YES Bank has launched a first of its kind unique Customizable Savings Account to enable the customers to design an account as per their convenience. Mumbai based bank has become the first bank in India to launch such type of account that enables the customer to choose various features of a savings accounts that suits one’s own lifestyle. The Customizable Savings Account will also protect the customer from unwarranted charges by eliminating unnecessary account features. Customers can choose options like debit cards, alternatives to minimum balance requirements, and banking benefits such as ATM usage, digital banking products, branch banking and family grouping.

YES Bank has launched YES FINTECH, an exclusive accelerator programme for fintech start-ups. The bank has called for applications for the 15-week maiden programme. About 12 start-ups will be hand picked for the programme. The bank has tied up with start-up incubator T-Hub, Anthill Ventures and LetsTalkPayments to start the programme. They (start-ups) are supposed to come once a month; the rest of the days, they can connect with the mentors online,” said Prasad Vanga, founder and Chief Accelerator, Anthill. The bank, along with its partners, held an event at the T-Hub on Tuesday to discuss the programme, and the pain points, challenges and opportunities in running a start-up.  The dual-location programme (based in Mumbai and Hyderabad) will support and nurture start-ups that can provide disruptive solutions in financial services delivery. It will also offer access to funding. Taking part in a session, investor Sateesh Andra urged start-ups to make themselves desirable for investments. “You need to spend some time in understanding some basic things such as term sheets, legalities and regulations before going to an investor.  

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOP & NG) inaugurated one month long oil and gas conservation campaign “Saksham-2017” at a function in Unity College, Dimapur in Nagaland on January 16, 2017. The mass awareness campaign was inaugurated by chief guest Ramongo Lotha, secretary Food and Civil Supplies. The campaign would be conducted from January 16 to February 15, 2017. The main aim of such campaign is to spread the awareness on fuel conservation so as to minimize the wastage of petroleum products as the demand for it remains high. The Oil Companies in the State would organize a number of events such as cycle rally, seminars and workshops for drivers and workers in motor workshops, quiz for students, motor rally etc. to spread awareness about the need to conserve fuel. India is the Third largest global consumer of petroleum and imports 80 percent of the crude oil to meet the demand. The mass awareness campaign on oil and gas conservation is conducted every year by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOP & NG across the country on January 16.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel said Khelo India National-level competitions for various sports for Under-14 and Under-17 children which aims to create sports infrastructure in the country. The competitions in Delhi have been organized by Sports Authority of India(SAI) under aegis of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in swimming, cycling and wrestling. The Minister said a national portal for sports talent search will be launched in this month by his Ministry. Approximately 1,000 participants from more than 25 states/Union territories are taking part in the national competitions for which entry for spectators to watch the events is free at all venues. Goel said that Khelo India Competitions are being conducted not only to promote sports at grass-root level but also to help create sports infrastructure in the country. "It will provide a platform to the budding talents to compete at national level. Talent identification would also be done in the process for grooming them to achieve excellence at international level," he said. He said a National portal for Sports Talent Search will be launched in this month itself by his Ministry. Khelo India National level Competitions will be conducted in different disciplines in January and Febuary, 2017.

The sub-committee under chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in number of female students entering the prestigious institutes.  The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from 2017 or from 2018. The committee has suggested creating up to 20% supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats. But only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered.  The reservation for girl students will not affect the number of seats for male candidates. It will help IITs achieve the one lakh target by 2020. In 2016, there was a 2% dip in the number of girls who cleared the JEE-Advanced, as compared to the previous one.  Over 1,000 girls had cracked the examination (roughly 10% of total 10,000 seats) in 2015, only 840 female students (coming up to 8%) made it to institutes in 2016-17. None of the selected girls made it to top 100.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified the Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR Delhi region. In this regard, MoEFCC amended laws and formally tasked a Supreme Court-appointed panel with implementing a graded action plan for pollution control. Graded Response Action Plan defines the measures to taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the Based on the air quality the grades have been classified as Emergency, Severe, Very Poor and Moderate poor. It will be enforced by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). Under this plan eemergency measures will be automatically enforced in NCR if level of PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm/m3) and PM10 levels stay above 500 (µgm/m3)for two consecutive days.  The plan recommends measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities to combat air pollution. During ‘very poor’ air quality, it recommends banning diesel generators and parking fee increased by three to four times.  It also lists a number of other measures such as closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and intensifying public transport services and increasing the frequency of mechanised cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads. The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and was submitted to the Supreme Court in December 2016. The court had accepted the plan and asked the Union Government to notify it. Particulate Matter (PM): They are tiny particles of dust which can cause very serious respiratory disorders and even damage the lungs.

India ranked 60th among the 79 developing countries in 2017 Inclusive Development Index (IDI) released in World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Inclusive Growth and Development Report’. The index is based on 12 performance indicators and countries are ranked on IDI scores based on a scale of 1-7. It has three pillars Growth and Development, Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity, and Sustainability in order to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone. Top 10 developing economies in 2017 IDI: Lithuania (1st), Azerbaijan (2nd), Hungary (3rd), Poland (4th), Romania (5th), Uruguay (6th), Latvia (7th), Panama (8th), Costa Rica (9th) and Chile (10th). Top 10 advance economies in 2017 IDI: Norway (1st), Luxembourg (2nd), Switzerland (3th), Iceland (4th) and Denmark (5th), (6th), Netherlands (7th), Australia (8th), New Zealand (9th) and Austria (10th). BRIC’s countries: Russia (13th), China (30th) and Brazil (30th). India’s neighbours: India’s many of the neighbouring nations are ahead in the rankings. China (15th), Nepal (27th), Bangladesh (36th) and Pakistan (52nd). India, with a score of only 3.38, ranks low among 79 developing economies, despite its growth in GDP per capita is among the top 10 and labour productivity growth has been strong. India scores well in terms of access to finance for business development and real economy investment. Reasons for India’s lower rank: India’s debt-to-GDP ratio is high, that raises some questions about the sustainability of government spending. India’s labour force participation rate is low, informal economy is large and many workers are vulnerable to employment situations with little room for social mobility. India needs more progressive tax system to raise capital for expenditures in infrastructure, health care, basic services and education,

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have claimed that Silicon (Si) is the ‘missing element’ in the Earth’s core.  This discovery could help us to better understand how our world formed. According to them silicon likely makes up a significant proportion of Earth’s core after its major constituents iron and nickel. It was missing element in the deep interiors of our planet that has eluded us for decades. It was found that silicon is a major element and constitutes about 5% of the Earth’s inner core by weight. It could be dissolved into the iron-nickel alloys. For the study, scientists recreated the high temperatures and pressures found in the deep interior of the Earth’s core.  They recreated alloys of iron and nickel and mixed them with silicon. They then subjected these alloys to the immense pressures and temperatures that exist in the inner core. Scientists discovered that this mixture matched what was seen in the Earth’s interior with seismic data. The innermost part of Earth i.e. core is thought to be a solid ball with a radius of about 1,200 kilometres. It is far too deep to investigate directly,  so scientists study this region’s make-up using seismic wave. Earth’s core is mainly composed of iron (makes up about 85% of its weight) and nickel (accounts for about 10% of the core).

The Oxfam has released a report entitled An economy for the 99 percent. The report was released Oxfam to mark the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. Highlights of the report :  The world’s eight richest people own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The report describes that the big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. Oxfam’s report shows how our broken economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite at the expense of the poorest in society. The world’s 8 richest people are - Bill Gates: Founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion) Amancio Ortega: Founder of Inditex, which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion) Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion) Carlos Slim Helu: Owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion) Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion) Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion)  Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle  (net worth $43.6 billion) Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion)  

The Government of Telangana has announced a series of welfare measures for army personnel and their families living in the State. The welfare measures were announced by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao in the State Legislative Assembly in Hyderabad. A Special Army Welfare Fund will be constituted. The State Government will provide Rs 80 crore annually for the welfare of the Army personnel and their families. All the ministers of the State, including the Chief Minister, will contribute 25 thousand rupees per annum.Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from the state will contribute 10 thousand rupees each per annum. The employees of the State Government will also contribute a day's salary to the Special Army Welfare Fund. The Chief Minister also announced cash rewards to those who receive gallantry awards.As per the announcement, the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees will get Rs 2.25 crore cash reward. The Mahavir Chakra and Kirti Chakra awardees will get Rs 1.25 crore. Cash incentives were also announced for other gallantry award winners. The Chief Minister further announced that uniform rule will be applied in paying compensation to the army personnel who lay their lives in the war front and those who lost lives for other reasons such as accidents and illness. The Sainik Welfare Boards will be strengthened at the State and district level.Reservation for the children of army personnel will be provided in the government run residential schools. The army personnel will also be exempted from paying house tax on immobile property. Army personnel will also be exempted from paying life-tax on vehicles if they have paid once.The monthly pension of the army personnel who served in World War-II was increased to Rs 6000. Previously, the State government provided Rs 3000 as the compensation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 16 January 2017 released the World Economic Outlook Update 2016 in Washington DC, the USA. The update estimated the global growth at 3.1 percent in 2016. The growth forecast is in line with the October 2016 forecast. With regard to India, the update projected India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate at 6.6% in 2016-17 against its earlier estimate of 7.6%. For 2017-18, the growth rate is trimmed by 0.4 percentage points. The slash in growth rates was due to the temporary negative consumption shock induced by cash shortages and payment disruptions associated with the recent currency note withdrawal. Highlights of World Economic Outlook Update 2016 : After a lackluster growth in 2016, economic activity is projected to pick up pace in 2017. This forecast is based on the assumption of a changing policy mix under a new administration in the United States and its global spill overs. This projection is consistent with the rise in equity prices and the sizable appreciation of the U.S. dollar since the November 2016 presidential election. Global activity could accelerate more strongly if policy stimulus turns out to be larger than currently projected in the United States or China. Among advanced economies, activity rebounded strongly in the United States after a weak first half of 2016. Consequently, the economy is approaching full employment in the USA. Output remains below potential in a number of other advanced economies, notably in the euro area.The growth scenario in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) remains much more diverse. Supported by continued policy stimulus, the growth rate in China was a bit stronger than expected in the second half of 2016. Reflecting an agreement among major producers to trim supply, oil prices have increased in recent weeks.

Chennai Smashers  emerged victorious over Mumbai Rockets by 4-3 in the summit clash to clinch the 2017 Premier Badminton League (PBL) title. Chennai Smashers’ T Saensomboonsuk produced a come-from-behind win against Mumbai Rockets’ Ajay Jayaram in the deciding fifth rubber as the former edged out the latter in the final to grab the PBL season 2 title. The match was played at Siri Fort Complex in New Delhi. Awadhe Warriors, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters and Mumbai Rockets had entered the semi-finals after topping the league table.  Premier Badminton League : Premier Badminton League is a franchise league.It is managed and commercially owned by the Badminton Association of India. It was founded in 2013. It was earlier named as Indian Badminton League (IBL). Later, it was rechristened to Premier Badminton League before the start of the second season in 2016. The tournament aims at bringing top Indian players along with International players on the same platform. The tournament consists of 15 league ties, where in each tie comprises 5 matches. The top four teams then progress to the knock out stages. The inaugural Indian Badminton League title was won by Hyderabad Hotshots.The 2016 season was won by Delhi Acers. Sachin Tendulkar became a co-owner of Bengaluru Topguns before the 2017 season. The team was then renamed as Bengaluru Blasters.

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