Today Current Affairs 19th January 2017

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Bharti AXA General Insurance has appointed Sanjeev Srinivasan as CEO and Managing Director. Srinivasan joined Bharti AXA General Insurance in August 2016 as Chief Commercial and Principal Officer and now takes over the role of CEO and MD. His main focus will be to drive Bharti AXA’s go- to-market strategy of creating a balanced portfolio, driving new distribution tie—ups and creating a customer centric brand to drive profitable growth. As the organisation enters the next phase of growth, we are delighted to have Sanjeev onboard. We have built a strong business with a seasoned and experienced team and I am confident that with his rich experience, Srinivasan will spearhead the growth of the company in this phase  

The Union Cabinet has approved package for augmentation of the Corpus of Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).  With this, the corpus of the Trust has been increased from Rs. 2,500 crore to Rs. 7,500 crore and it will be fully funded by the Union Government. Increase coverage of the loans covered under the credit guarantee scheme from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore; Increase coverage of the credit guarantee scheme for loans extended to MSEs by NBFCs also. This will enable the Trust to enhance the quantum. Augmentation of the corpus of the fund will facilitate larger flow of credit to MSEs. This in turn, will lead to increase output and employment and thereby promote equity and inclusiveness.  Start-ups will also be encouraged to set up enterprises based on innovation and new ideas as the scheme provides credit without collateral and third-party guarantee.

The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for cooperation in the field of outer space. The MoU was signed by both the sides on 11 November 2016 at Tokyo, Japan.’ Highlights of the MoU : It aims to pursue future cooperative activities in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable in each country. It provides scope for pursuing cooperation in diverse areas of space science technology and applications- earth observation, satellite communication, navigation; Research and development and Space industry promotion.ISRO and JAXA will bear the costs of their respective activities.  The funding procedures along with availability of appropriated funds will define the relevant Implementation Arrangement to fulfil the respective roles and activities of ISRO and JAXA. It will lead to joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity.  Mostly, all the sections and regions of the country will get benefited through this MoU.

Priyanka Chopra on 18 January 2017 won the Favourite Dramatic TV Actress at the 43rd People’s Choice Award. She won the honour for her role in the American drama TV series Quantico. This is the second People’s Choice Award for Chopra. She had won her first award in 2016 in the ‘Favourite Actress in a New TV series’ category for her role in Quantico. Major wins at the 43rd People’s Choice Award Award Winner Favourite Movie Finding Dory Favourite Action Movie Deadpool Favourite Comedic Movie Bad Moms Favourite Dramatic Movie Me Before You Favourite Movie Actor Ryan Reynolds Favourite Movie Actress Jennifer Lawrence Favourite Action Movie Actor Robert Downey Jr. Favourite Action Movie Actress Margot Robbie Favourite TV Show Outlander Favourite Network TV Comedy The Big Bang Theory Favourite Premium Series Actor Dwayne Johnson Favourite Premium Series Actress Sarah Jessica Parker Favourite Male Singer Justin Timberlake Favourite Female Singer Britney Spears People's Choice Awards : The People's Choice Awards is an American awards show. It recognizes the people and the work of popular culture, voted on by the general public. It has been held annually since 1975. The creator of the award show was Bob Stivers, who produced the first show in 1975.  

The West Bengal Fisheries Department in the third week of January 2017 proposed to give legal protection to Hilsa Fish to stabilize its declining population. With the introduction of the provisions, Hilsa or the Indian Shad will become the first fish variety in India to get legal protection. It is soon possible that anyone who buys or sells the fish weighing more than 500 grams can be arrested. The fish is on the brink of extinction because of migration barriers, population and over-fishing. Earlier, the state government had banned fishing between June-August and October-December in the five hilsa sanctuaries on the Hooghly River from Farakka to Sagar, which covers a stretch of 250 km. Hilsa Fish : Hilsa is also known as Ilish (Tenualosa ilisha).It is a species of fish in the herring family and a popular food fish in South Asia. It contributes about 12 per cent of the total fish production and about 1 per cent of GDP in Bangladesh. It is the national fish of Bangladesh. Hilsa mainly prospers in marine and freshwater. It can grow up to 60 cm in length and can weigh up to 3 kg. It is found in rivers and estuaries in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Burma and the Persian Gulf area. The fish filter feeds on plankton and by grubbing muddy bottoms. The most fertile month for breeding of hilsa is April.  

The Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir on 19 January 2017 passed a resolution on return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants back to Kashmir valley. The resolution was passed unanimously in the house. Various members of the assembly also rendered their full support to the motion. They said with the improvement in situation government should facilitate the return and rehabilitation of Kashmir migrants who have to shun their places due to militancy. The issue of return of Kashmiri Pandits was raised in the assembly by the leader of opposition Omar Abdullah. The former Chief Minister of the state said that the Assembly should pass a resolution that calls for the return of Kashmiri Pandits along with other migrants. Calling for the resolution, Abdullah also said that 27-years-ago, unfortunate circumstances in the state forced Kashmiri Pandit community, along with Sikh community and few Muslims to the migrant. After end of the question hour, Abdul Rehman Veeri, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs of the state approved the resolution for presentation in the House. Later, the motion was endorsed and moved by the speaker of the house Kavinder Gupta. However, the Independent legislator from Langate Er. Rashid opposed the move and dubbed it worthless and impractical. Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, which can be termed as an ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the state Jammu and Kashmir. Night of 19 January 1990 was one of the worst nightmares for Kashmiri Pandits of the valley. Announcements in form of message were made via loudspeakers for the Hindus and Sikhs in Kashmir. The message was convert to Islam, leave the land, or die (Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive).By the end of the night, several supporters of the announcement makers marched on the streets of the valley with a similar voice of death of kafirs and death of India. The most important fact is that it was a well planned and managed event including the timing of slogans in form of warning and the act of killing and much more. The event has been penned down by several authors but the common fact about this exodus is the description of the fear that gripped everyone on this night. As per records, at least one lakh Kashmiri Pandits fled from their houses in the 1990s. J&K government’s record suggest that between 1989 and 2014, at least 210 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in the region.

Scientists in January 2017 named three relatively-known diseases that can be the next global health emergency in near future. These three diseases are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), Lassa fever and Nipah virus. These three diseases were kept at the top of the list of 10 priority diseases that was identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as potentially causing the next major outbreak. To deal with the outbreak of these three diseases, MERS, Lassa fever and Nipah virus, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has aimed to develop two experimental vaccines ready within five years. Usually, new vaccines are developed in about a decade and the process takes the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars. Detail of finances for developing vaccines for these three diseases  a) To speed up vaccine development procedure for MERS, Lassa fever and Nipah virus, a coalition of government and charities have committed to provide a fund of USD 460 million. b) To deal with the problem, scientists are asking funders at the World Economic Forum Davos for another USD 500 million.  Reason for being serious to deal with the outbreak of these diseases The decision to come up with vaccines to deal with the outbreak of these diseases was taken in the light of outbreaks of diseases like Zika virus in Latin America, Ebola in West Africa in 2014. Outbreaks of these diseases exposed the fact that how unprepared the world is to handle new outbreaks. During the outbreaks of Zika and Ebola, the world had no vaccine or treatment for the same. Aftereffects of outbreak of Ebola and Zika virus About 11000 people died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea due to Ebola. In 2015, Brain of more than 1000 children was damaged in Brazil due to the outbreak of Zika virus. MERS-CoV It is the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). It is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses that causes the common cold and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). MERS is categorised as a zoonatic disease, that is, it passes into to human from animals. MERS-CoV can spread from person to person, usually through close contact. Major source of the disease: It is believed that Camels are the major source of the disease. It is caused due to activities like drinking raw camel milk or urine, eating undercooked camel meat and raising camels. Lassa virus : The virus that causes Lassa fever belongs to the Arenaviridae family. Lassa fever is also known as Lassa haemorrhagic fever (LHF). Lassa fever is a haemorrhagic illness and it occurs between one and three weeks after infection. Source for the disease: Similar to MERS-CoV, Lassa fever is also a zoonatic disease and natural host of this virus is rodent Mastomys natalensis, otherwise known as the Natal multimammate mouse or rat. It spreads among human after a person comes into contact with an item that is contaminated with the urine or faeces of rodent’s like by handling objects, eating or through open wounds. It can also be inhaled. Lassa virus can pass from person to person via bodily fluids, and can spread in healthcare settings if suitable precautions are not taken. Nipah virus (NiV) This virus belongs to the Paramyxoviridae family of viruses, genus Henipavirus, alongside Hendra virus. Similar to Lassa virus and MERS-CoV, Nipah is also a zoonotic disease. Source for the disease: The natural hosts for Nipah virus are fruit bats of the genus Pteropus. Fruit bats are also known as flying foxes.  Nipah virus can be spread to people from infected bats, infected pigs or infected people. Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) : CEPI is a new alliance (public-private coalition) to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to prevent and contain infectious disease epidemics. It aims to derail epidemics by speeding development of vaccines. Apart from MERS, Lassa fever and Nipah virus, other diseases that is targeted in CEPI’s plan includes Marburg fever, SARS, Rift Valley fever, chikungunya, and others. CEPI is being funded by the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the government of Norway and the Dept of Biotechnology and Union Ministry of Science and Technology.  

India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the third week of January 2017 announced that 2016 was India’s warmest year ever recorded since the documenting of meteorological records began in 1901. The announcement was made in IMD’s Statement on Climate of India during 2016. Highlights of the statement : During 2016, the average annual mean surface temperature in India was +0.91 degree Celsius above the average recorded between 1961 and 1990. During the year, the weather conditions in India were in line with warmer than normal climate observed globally. Before 2016, the warmest year on record was recorded in 2009 when annual mean temperature was +0.77 degree Celsius above average.2016 was warmer than 2015 by 0.240 Celsius.India averaged seasonal mean temperatures during the winter season (January and February) and the pre-monsoon season (March to May) mainly accounted for the above normal annual temperature for 2016. The 2016 annual rainfall over the country as a whole was 91 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA) value for the period 1951-2000. The annual rainfall deficiency was mainly due to the significantly below average rainfall during the winter and northeast monsoon seasons. India Meteorological Department : The India Meteorological Department is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Indian Government. It is the main agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica.It is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It forecasts, named and distributes warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that the AAI received 45 proposals under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) till 16 January 2017, the deadline for submitting proposals. The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which is implementing the RCS, received these 45 proposals from 11 bidders covering 65 airports and more than 200 routes. Out of the 65 airports, 52 airports are un-served and 13 are under-served airports as per the provisions of the scheme. After scrutinising the proposals, the routes and networks will be awarded to the bidders who quoted the lowest requirement of Viability Gap Funding (VGF).  Features of Regional Connectivity Scheme : The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) is also called as Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN). It seeks to achieve twin objectives of promoting balanced regional growth and making flying affordable for masses.RCS is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016. It was unveiled by the government on 15 June 2016. The UDAN will be in operation for a period of 10 years. It envisages connectivity to un-served and under-served regions of the country through revival of existing airstrips and airports.This would be achieved through a financial stimulus in the form of Central and State government concessions as well as Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports. The fare for a one hour journey of approximately 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would be capped at Rs 2500 under the scheme. The State Governments are also partners in the scheme. About 80 per cent of the subsidy will be collected by charging a levy of up to Rs 8500 on each departing flight of domestic airlines. The rest 20 per cent will come from the respective State governments.  

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 18 January 2017 gave its in-principle approval for listing five government-owned General Insurance Companies in stock exchanges. The approval was given at a cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The companies are National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company, United India Insurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India. The listing will open a way for the companies to raise resources from the capital market to meet their fund requirements. Shareholding of these PSGICs (Public Sector General Insurance Companies) will be divested from 100 per cent to 75 per cent. This disinvestment process will be carried on as per the existing rules and regulations of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will be followed. It will necessitate compliance to disclosures and accounting requirements of SEBI. These disclosures will act as an additional oversight mechanism and bring equity and transparency in the companies functioning. It will lead to improved corporate governance and risk management practices in the companies, which will lead to improved efficiency. It will also help in focusing on earnings and growth. It is expected that this listing will also help the companies in raising resources from the capital market and meet the requirements of funds when they think of expanding their businesses. At present, they depend on government for capital infusion. Listing of the government-owned general insurance companies on the stock exchange was announced by the union finance minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget Speech for 2016-17. He said that public shareholding in these companies will help in creating higher levels of transparency and accountability.

The Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on 18 January 2017 launched a dedicated web portal ‘ShaGun’ for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) at New Delhi. ShaGun was coined from the words ‘Shala’ that means schools and Gun, which is Gunvatta meaning Quality. It was developed with a twin track approach. ShaGun was created with an aim to capture and showcase innovations and progress in Elementary Education sector of India by continuous monitoring of the flagship scheme - Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). ShaGun will help in monitoring progress in the implementation of SSA by assessing the performance of Union Territories and the states on key parameters. This monitoring will allow the government to plan and deliver its promise of quality education to all. The SSA ShaGun web portal can be accessed at In addition to the launch of ShaGun, the minister also unveiled a ‘Toolkit for Master Trainers in Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs’. This toolkit was prepared by the World Bank in collaboration with Ministry of Human Resource Development. The toolkit is the series of five training modules and will provide the teachers with practical information on the effective inclusion of CWSN. It will help in building those pedagogical practices that would address the needs of all children with special needs. Highlights of speech of Prakash Javadekar at the launching ceremony : He reiterated union government’s commitment to improving the quality of education. For this purpose of improving the quality of education, his ministry will codify the learning outcome to set assessment standards for abilities with regards to mathematics, comprehension and language among others. He also said that his ministry will ensure that “all children acquire at least the minimum levels of learning” under Right to Education Act, 2009, that is, from Class I to VIII.  

Former Indian skipper Kapil Dev on 17 January 2017 was inducted into Legends Club 'Hall of Fame' in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Dev was inducted in presence of former captains Sunil Gavaskar, Nari Contractor and Ajit Wadekar at the Cricket Club of India. Madhav Apte, President of the Legends Club and the former Indian cricketer, presented the honour to Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev : Kapil Dev captained the Indian cricket team that won the Cricket World Cup in 1983. He is considered as one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.In 2002, Wisden named him as the Indian Cricketer of the Century. Between October 1999 and August 2000, he served as India's national cricket coach. During the 1980s, he developed a fine inswinging yorker, which he used against tail-enders.He was nicknamed as The Haryana Hurricane. He held the world record for the most number of wickets taken in Test cricket. The record was broken by Courtney Walsh in 2000. He is the only player in the history of cricket to have taken 434 wickets. He is the only player to have scored more than 5000 runs in Tests. He was also India's highest wicket taker in Tests and ODIs.He retired in 1994. After retirement from cricket, he took up golf. He was the only Asian founding member of Laureus Foundation in 2000. He was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame on 8 March 2010.In 1979-80, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award. In 1982, he was awarded the Padma Shri. In 1991, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan.

India’s IT Hub, Bengaluru has been ranked at the top position in the 2017 CityMomentum Index released by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting being held in Davos. The index identifies the most dynamic cities of the world. From India six cities have find place in top 30 most dynamic cities. Besides Bengaluru other Indian cities in the list includes Hyderabad (5), Pune (13), Chennai (17), Delhi (23) and Mumbai (25). The rankings are based on parameters such as population, technology and R&D, connectivity, output and corporate activity, education, and real estate investment. Top 5 cities  :  Bangalore (India)  Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) Silicon Valley (USA) Shanghai (China) Hyderabad (India)

A baby girl was born in Ukraine on January 5, 2017 using the new technique of three-person IVF called ‘pronuclear transfer’. The infant is being considered as the world’s second baby to be developed using three-person IVF technique.  The world’s first baby was born Mexico in September 2016. Three-person IVF was legalised in the UK in 2015.  The objective of three-person IVF is to create a child free of mitochondrial disease in cases where parents had one such disease.

Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya has become a role model for other states in maintaining cleanliness and also tourists’ hotspot.  It is also claimed as Asia’s cleanest village. Over 500 tourists from across the country and abroad visit the village daily.  Through cleanliness, the villagers have created opportunities to earn money as the village has become tourists’ prime destination in North East.  Several other states have expressed their willingness to adopt Mawlynnong village as role model in maintaining cleanliness.

Madhya Pradesh government lead by Shivraj Singh Chouhan has launched Aanandam programme of the newly-formed Aanand Department.To help the poor and the needed person.  Aanandam scheme will help the poor people to get the daily needs like like jackets, sarees, blankets, utensils, school bags from the wealthy people. For this particular place is alloacted in each district to collect this items. The people who wishes to help others can visit website to become Anandak under Anandam Scheme. Non Government organisations, Government employees, cultural and business organisations can participate in this programe. Madhya Pradesh Samman: The Kalidas Samman is a prestigious arts award presented annually for literature by the government of Madhya Pradesh The Tulsi Samman is a prestigious folk arts award presented annually by the government of Madhya Pradesh  

India ranked low at 78th position on the recently released global Passport Index 2017 with a visa-free score of 46.  The index which ranks countries based on the number of nations their citizens can visit without a visa or on arrival was released by financial advisory firm Arton Capital.  Germany ranked first in 2017 Passport Index with a visa-free score of 157 followed by Singapore with a visa-free score of 156.  Afghanistan’s is the least powerful passport with rank of 95th and visa-free score of just 23. China and Pakistan were ranked 58th and 94th on the list respectively.

The Karnataka government allowed to the sale of white kerosene in open market.  State Food and Civil Supplies Minister UT Khader stated that the government has issued an order this effect. Those interested in selling white kerosene in open market can approach the office of the Food and Civil Supplies in their districts.   

The Union Cabinet has approved holding negotiations for Trade Agreement with Peru on trade in goods, services and investment.  The trade agreement will be an important landmark in India-Peru relations and consolidate the traditional fraternal relations that have existed between India and LAC countries. The trade agreement will enhance the trade and economic relations between the two countries. India and Peru had agreed to carry forward the discussions on trade in goods, trade in services and investment after they concluded Joint Study Group (JSG) Report in October, 2016.  A JSG between India and Peru was constituted in order to explore the possibility for entering into trade agreement in January, 2015. India has friendly relations with Peru. During 2015-16, Peru ranked third amongst export destinations for India in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.  India’s bilateral trade with Peru was $107.32 million during 2005-06 and registered a growth of 1319.45% during 2015-16. During 2015-16, bilateral trade stood at $1,523.35 million with India’s exports at $703.12 million and imports $820.22 million respectively.

The second edition of Ministry of External Affairs’ annual Raisina Dialogue was held in New Delhi with the theme “The New Normal: Multilateralism in a multipolar world”. The flagship geo-political conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was attended by delegates from 65 countries. Outlined government’s foreign policy from May 2014 and also referred to differences with China, and India’s close partnerships with the US, Russia and Japan. Pakistan and Terrorism: Pakistan must walk away from terror for dialogue with India as India alone cannot walk the path of peace. Peaceful South Asia: India remained committed to vision for a “peaceful and harmonious” South Asia, and neighbourhood first. Globalisation: Growing sentiment against trade and migration and rising parochial and protectionist attitudes are putting globalisation’s gains at a risk. China: It has unprecedented business and commercial opportunities for India. However, rising ambition and festering rivalries (in Asia) are generating visible stress points such as freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. CPEC: The ambitious $45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connectivity project cannot override sovereignty as it runs through disputed parts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). United States: US administration led by Donald Trump and India will further focus on building bilateral relationship. Raisina Dialogue Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference held in New Delhi. It is envisioned to be India’s flagship conference of geopolitics and geo-economics. The conference is held jointly by Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank based in India. The name of conference comes from Raisina Hill which is the elevation in New Delhi where presidential palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan is located. The first edition of the conference was held in March 2016 with the theme “Asia: Regional and Global Connectivity”. It is organized on the lines of the Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore. It is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectorial conclave, involving policy and decision makers, including cabinet ministers from various Governments, high-level Government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry etc.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18 January 2017 gave its approval for an amendment in the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS). The proposed amendment seeks to further incentivize investments in the electronic sector and will help India in achieving the goal of Net Zero Imports in Electronics by 2020. Features of the amendment are  : The applications will be received under the scheme up to 31 December 2018 or till such time that an incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, whichever is earlier. In case the incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, a review will be held to decide further financial commitments. For new approvals, the incentive under the scheme will be available from the date of approval of a project and not from the date of receipt of application. The incentives will be available for investments made within 5 years from the date of approval of the project. Approvals will normally be given to eligible applicants within 120 days of submission of the complete application.A unit receiving incentives under the scheme, must give an undertaking expressing its commitment to remain in commercial production for a period of at least 3 years. The Appraisal Committee recommending approval of a project will be chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT.A separate committee will be formed under the Cabinet Secretary to give approve mega projects. The proposed committee will have the CEO, NITI Aayog, Secretary Expenditure and Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as its members. The scheme covers all States and districts and provides them an opportunity to attract investments in electronics manufacturing. So far, 243 applications have been received under the scheme. Out of them, 75 applications have been approved involving investment proposals of Rs 17,997 crore.  

The Union Cabinet on 18 January 2017 gave its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet in New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. International Vaccine Institute : The Internatioanl Vaccine Institute (IVI) is located in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Its vision is to make vaccines available and accessible for vulnerable populations in developing countries. Its mission is to discover, develop and deliver safe, effective and affordable vaccines for global public health. The IVI was established in 1997 on the initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP is a specialized agency of the United Nations. The agency is devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases. South Korea, Sweden and the World Health Organization (WHO) are among the 36 countries and agencies that signed the IVI Treaty. IVI’s approach is based on three components. They are research, partnership and capacity building. India’s membership in IVI : India is a long-term collaborator and stakeholder of IVI. In 2007, India joined the International Vaccine Institute with the approval of the Cabinet.  In December 2012, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of IVI approved the formation of its new governance structure.As per the new governance structure of IVI, a member State has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India is classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of USD 50,000. India’s membership in the IVI helps in strengthening the Mission Indradhanush. The Mission Indradhanush is a nationwide immunization programme. It was launched by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in December 2014.

Professor CV Vishveshwara who did pioneering work on black holes, passed away on 16 January 2017 in Bengaluru following a brief illness. He was 77. He is survived by wife and two daughters. Popularly called Vishu, he was celebrated as the 'Black Hole Man of India'. CV Vishveshwara : In the 1970s at the University of Maryland, he was among the first to study black holes even before they were named.  His calculations gave a graphic form to the signals emitted by two merging black holes. This was the waveform detected in 2015 by the LIGO collaboration. This waveform also contained the quasi normal modes, a ringdown stage that sounds like a fading out ringing bell.  In February 2016, he was invited to the synchronised announcement of the first discovery of gravitational waves at IUCAA. Vishveshwara also drew cartoons, many of which were published in physics conference proceedings. Spektrum der Wissenschaft, a German magazine, had published many of his cartoons depicting Einstein.He was also the founding director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru. He had written several books including Einstein’s Enigma and Black Holes in My Bubble Bath.