Top 15 Current Affairs 6th January 2017

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6 January 2017

The 16th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held in New Delhi. It was chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.  It was attended by heads of all financial sector regulators as its members. It reviewed the major issues and challenges facing the economy. Indian Economy: India appears to be much better placed because of improvement in its macroeconomic fundamental despite fragile world economy. It reviewed the major issues and challenges facing the economy. Banking: The status of NPAs of public sector banks and measures taken by the government and the RBI for tackling the stressed assets were reviewed. It also discussed about further action to be taken in this regard. Financial inclusion/ financial literacy: Discussed about the various initiatives taken by the government and regulators for promoting financial inclusion/ literacy. It also discussed further measures for promoting the same. Technology: Discussed issues pertaining to Fintech, digital innovations and cyber security. It also discussed on further steps to be taken. Demonetisation: It will help in eliminating the shadow economy and tax evasion. It will have a positive impact on GDP and fiscal consolidation in the long run. Besides, a brief report on the activities undertaken by the FSDC sub-committee chaired by RBI Governor Urjit Patel was placed before the FSDC meeting. Financial Stability and Development Council  : The Central Government had established Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) in December 2010 with the Finance Minister as it Chairman. The idea to create it was first mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms in 2008.  It is a super regulatory body for regulating financial sector which is a vital for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy. The FSDC envisages to strengthen and institutionalise mechanism of (i) maintaining financial stability, (ii) Financial sector development, (iii) inter-regulatory coordination along with monitoring macro-prudential regulation of economy.

6 January 2017

India and Kazakhstan have signed a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries in New Delhi. The DTAC between both countries was earlier signed in December 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. Features : Provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. Further, allows tax authorities to share information with other law enforcement agencies with prior authorisation.  Limitation of Benefits Article has been inserted to provide a main purpose test to prevent misuse of the DTAC and to allow application of domestic law and measures against tax evasion or avoidance. Specific provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases also have been inserted.  It is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitment under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet standards of Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases. Service PE (PE provisions) provisions also have been inserted with a threshold and the profits to be attributed to PE will be determined on the basis of apportionment of total profits of the enterprise.  It replaces existing Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes with a new Article in order to align it with international standards.

6 January 2017

The Union Government has approved a grant of about Rs 1782 crore to drought-hit Karnataka under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). The assistance came after the Karnataka Government had asked a central relief of Rs 4702 crore for loss of 2016 Kharif crops due to severe drought in the state. The government also approved assistance of Rs 209 crore to Uttarakhand, which had been hit by floods in 2013. The decision was taken during a meeting of the High Level Committee (HLC) presided by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The Committee examined the proposal based on the reports of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team that visited the states. Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Rajiv Mehrishi, Home Secretary, and senior officers of the Union Ministries of Home Affairs, Finance and Agriculture were present in the meeting. Karnataka has been facing severe drought from the last six years. The state was hit by the worst drought ever in 40 years in 2016-2017. National Disaster Relief Fund : The National Disaster Response Fund is defined in Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act). It is described as a fund managed by the Union Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster. It is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF). The DM Act defines ‘disaster’ as ‘a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.'

6 January 2017

Indian officials and representatives of the World Bank on 5 January 2017 discussed the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). The discussion was aimed at resolving the deadlock between India and Pakistan over construction of Kishenganga and Ratle hydel power projects in Jammu and Kashmir. The sharing of water from the Indus between India and Pakistan is governed by the Indus Water Treaty.  India planned to construct Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants on the Indus River System in Jammu Kashmir. The power plants are being built on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers respectively. Pakistan raised objections against these projects claiming that they would alter the river flows and affect the Pakistan adversely. To resolve the differences, India and Pakistan asked the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert and a Court of Arbitration respectively under the IWT. As a response, the World Bank decided to put in place the necessary processes by 12 December 2016. However, the Bank withdrew its decision on 13 December 2016 by stating that the concurrent process would make the treaty unworkable over time. Indus Water Treaty :  It is a water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan.The treaty was brokered by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which is at present, is a part of the World Bank Group. The treaty was signed on 19 September 1960 by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.As per the treaty, the control over the three western flowering rivers of the Indus River System – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were vested in Pakistan, while the control over the eastern flowing rivers – Ravi, Beas and Sutlej is in India’s hands. The treaty provides for dispute resolution mechanism at three levels viz., Questions, Differences and Disputes. The Questions will be resolved in the Permanent Indus Commission which will be represented by India and Pakistan. The unresolved Questions i.e. Differences will be resolved through the appointment of a neutral expert.The Disputes will be resolved through a Permanent Court of Arbitration. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced stopping the meetings of Permanent Indus Commission in September 2016.The decision was taken against the backdrop of Pathankot and Uri terrorist attacks that killed scores of Indian armed forces personnel.  

6 January 2017

The ninth edition of Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF) is scheduled to begin on 7 January 2017. It is considered to be one of the world’s fastest growing festivals. The five-day event will be inaugurated by prominent South Indian celebrities such as singer Hariharan, multi-skilled veteran director Singeetam Srinivasa Rao and actress Rachana, who will also be the event’s Guests of Honour. Highlights : The festival will witness participation from about 250 filmmakers and artists. It aims to promote new and emerging directors and also encourage the exchange of dialogue, knowledge, ideas, information and culture between India and other participating nations.  It will host the screening of around 134 films, belonging to countries from across the world.  Along with two screens in Golcha, the films will be screened at the Rajasthan Adult Education Association (RAEA) and the Manipal University Jaipur.  A special screening will also be conducted for children at the same venue during the morning hours.  The festival will also host 17 workshops and seminars on different aspects of cinema, in order to encourage interaction of filmmakers with the audience and in turn help build a greater understanding of filmmaking.  The event will also see ‘co-production meets’ where leading directors and producers from across the globe will come together and discuss their next ventures and explore the possibility of co-production and sharing costs. Internationally acclaimed film producer, Ramesh Prasad has been chosen for the Life Time Achievement Award. He is the founder of Prasad Film Laboratory, which has specialised facilities and advanced equipment. Prasad was selected for the award by a committee headed by National-award winning Indian filmmaker Shaji N Karun. The event will conclude on 11 January 2017.  

6 January 2017

Eminent British economist Tony Atkinson died in January 2017 in Oxford, the United Kingdom. Atkinson was Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Fellow of Nuffield College at Oxford. His research in the field of income distribution influenced studies of poverty and inequality in India. Tony Atkinson : He was a Fellow of the British Academy and a past president of the Econometric Society, the European Economic Association, the International Economic Association and the Royal Economic Society. Although his contributions to economics are wide-ranging, his main field was Public Economics. He was an editor of the Journal of Public Economics for 25 years.His textbook Lectures on Public Economics, co-authored with Joe Stiglitz in 1980, remains a key reference for graduate students to this day. He was the chairman of the Commission on Global Poverty of the World Bank.The commission was convened in 2015 by Kaushik Basu, then World Bank Chief Economist. The commission was mandated to advise the Bank on how better to monitor the world’s progress towards ending extreme poverty. The Atkinson index is named after him as a useful measure in determining which end of the distribution contributed most to the observed inequality. The Index is prepared by the Oxford University. He was knighted in 2000 by the Queen of the United Kingdom.He was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 2001 by the France government.  

6 January 2017

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the assignment of veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel and first-flight astronaut Jeanette Epps to missions aboard the International Space Station in 2018. With this, Epps will become the first African-American space station crew member when she launches on her first spaceflight in May 2018. Feustel will launch in March 2018 for his first long-duration mission. He will serve as a flight engineer on Expedition 55. Later, he will be assigned as commander on Expedition 56. On the other hand, Epps will join Feustel as a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and remain on board for Expedition 57. Jeanette Epps : Jeanette Epps was selected by NASA in 2009 as an astronaut. In 1992, she earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from LeMoyne College. In 1994, she obtained a master’s of science. In 2000, she earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. After completing graduate school, she worked in a research laboratory for more than two years. She co-authored several patents and was later recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. She served as a CIA technical intelligence officer for seven years before being selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

6 January 2017

Japan has decided to associate itself with the development of Chennai, Varanasi and Ahmedabad as smart cities. This decision was announced on 5 January 2017 when the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu met the Union Urban Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu. Kenji said that Japan was interested in the urban development initiatives of the Indian government and had decided to be its partner. He further added, replying to Naidu’s observation about the need for a speedy action that Japan would like to match the action-oriented approach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Japan is however not the only country to express interest in being associated with India’s initiative of developing over 100 smart cities. Recently, Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner also met Naidu and discussed the implementation of the MoU signed between the two nations on cooperation in the urban development sector. The MoU was signed during the British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s recent visit to India. Other countries who have already pledged their support to India include the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) for the cities of Visakhapatnam, Ajmer and Allahabad, the United Kingdom for Pune, Amaravati and Indore, France for Puducherry, Chandigarh and Nagpur and Germany for Coimbatore, Kochi and Bhubaneswar.  Smart Cities Project : The project was launched in 2014 by NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right after coming to power. It aims to develop 100 smart cities in the country by 2020.  The union government has set aside a budget of Rs 48000 Cr for the project.  Each smart city would get an assistance of about Rs 100 Cr every year for the period of next five years. The selection process was conducted through an intra-city competition, where cities were evaluated on the basis of service levels, financial and institutional capacity, reforms and past track record.

6 January 2017

Google India has launched new tools, My Business Website and Digital Unlocked, for the Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) in India. The tools were launched by Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Google, in New Delhi. He announced that they have been launched first in India and would be taken to other countries gradually. My Business Website : My Business Website will help small and medium businesses create a free and mobile optimised website. It will offer simple, templated, editable websites for small businesses. These websites will be created from the data and photos on Google Maps and will be available in 9 Indic languages. Digital Unlocked : Digital Unlocked is a training programme. It has been built "across online, offline, and mobile."  It offers offline training that will be spaced over the next three years. The training will be conducted in partnership with FICCI. It will be conducted at 5000 workshops located in 40 Indian cities. In addition, Google has released 90 self-paced video tutorials that have been curated specifically for India. They will be available at g.co/digitalunlocked.The trainings will be certified by Google, Indian School of Business and FICCI. The Internet giant also launched a free mobile app, named Primer. It is designed to teach digital marketing skills in a quick, easy and interactive way. The app also works offline and is currently available in English and Hindi languages. It will shortly be launched in Tamil, Telugu and Marathi versions.

6 January 2017

Veteran actor Om Puri passed away following massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He was 66. His acting credits include appearances in commercial Indian, British, and Hollywood, independent films and art films. He was credited for being part of parallel, new-wave cinema along with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil that brought change in the film industry back in the 1980s. Om Puri  : He was born on October 18, 1950 in Ambala, Haryana. He was one of the prominent names of parallel cinema that changed Indian cinema in the 1980s.  He made his debut in films in a marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal in 1972.  He had studied acting in India’s two of the most prestigious acting schools of the country- National School of Drama (NSD) and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). He is remembered for his strong performances in films like Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981),  Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992). His last appearance was in a Pakistani comedy film, Actor in Law, which had released in September 2016. He also had lent his voice for the character of Bagheera in The Jungle Book.  He had won two time National Award winner for his roles in Arohan and Ardh Sathya. He was honoured with Padmashri, the fourth highest civilian award of India in 1990.

6 January 2017

Connaught Place, the commercial hub of New Delhi is soon going to become a vehicle-free zone, as all vehicles will be banned from entering the area for three months. The decision was taken on 5 January 2017 in order to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in the area. Highlights : The vehicular ban will apply in the inner and middle circle roads of Connaught Place.The area will be turned into a completely pedestrian friendly place.  The ban will be effective starting from February 2017. The decision was approved at a review meeting held to discuss the progress of the smart city project of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area.  The review meeting headed by the Minister for Urban Development, M Venkaiah Naidu saw in attendance several senior officials of the Ministry, NDMC and the Delhi Police. Easing traffic congestion in Connaught Place was one of the main points of discussion in the meeting.  Another main point of discussion was to make Connaught place a completely congestion-free, accident-free and crime-free zone.  Apart from the vehicular ban, the NDMC also plans to develop water bodies in the area, which will act as a humidifier.Also part of the plan is to hold light and sound shows and organise street festivals in the hub. According to a spokesperson of the Urban Development Ministry, the three-month trial will test issues related to traffic circulation, experience of shop owners and pedestrians, management of reclaimed parking lots and traffic on the outer circle. To enable the smooth implementation of the same, NDMC plans to provide ‘park and ride’ services to the visitors from major nearby parking lots like Shivaji Stadium, Palika and Baba Kharak Singh Marg. This facility would also lead to full utilisation of these three locations, as currently the parking lots, which have a total capacity of 3172 vehicles, see only about 1088 cars parked daily. Besides this, the NDMC also plans to deploy cycle hiring kiosks and battery operated vehicles near the area for the benefit of those parking their vehicles slightly away and also for those using public transport to reach the business district. The deployment of such transport options will also enable senior citizens, women and children to access the area without much hassle. However, the decision hasn’t gone down well with the traders, who feel that their business will take a hit. They are of the opinion that CP is a commercial centre and not a tourist destination and hence, the moment inner circle will be made vehicle-free it will lead to the chocking of the outer circle.  

6 January 2017

A book on the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was released on January 4, 2017 in New Delhi by the Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari in the presence of the UnionMinister for Finance and Corporate, Arun Jaitley. The book titled, ‘The People’s President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’ has been written by Shri S.M. Khan who served as the Press Secretary to President Kalam. Through this book, the author has made an attempt to make people aware about the lesser known facts and stories responsible to make Dr. Kalam as the People’s President. The book also mentions the various National and International tours made by the great President during his tenure, with the first one being to Gujarat in 2002 where he was received by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi.

6 January 2017

The Union Sports Ministry has constituted a nine-member committee to make recommendations for bringing out a comprehensive National Sports Development Code. The committee will be chaired by Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas. The members of the committee include: Abhinav Bindra: He is an Indian professional shooter. He won the gold in the 10 m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He was the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. Prakash Padukone: He is a former Indian badminton player. He won numerous laurels for India in the field of badminton. In 1972, he was awarded the Arjuna award. He was honoured with the Padma Shri. Anju Bobby George: She is an athlete. She won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. Narinder Batra: President of International Hockey Federation (FIH). Bishweshwar Nandi: Coach of gymnast Dipa Karmakar. Nandan Kamath: Lawyer. Vijay Lokpally: Sports journalist. Onkar Kedia: Joint Secretary Sports (MYAS) Highlights : The terms of reference of the committee are to identify basic universal principles of ethics and good governance based on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter international best practices, draft National Sports Development Bill, National Sports Development Code of 2011, Supreme Court and High Court judgments. The committee will study and identify the existing sports governance frame work. It will also look over the issues pertaining to good governance in administration of sports in India.It will make detailed recommendations for bringing out a comprehensive Sports Code to address the issues of governance pertaining to the National Olympic Committee and National Sports Federations (NSF).  

6 January 2017

Solar power producer Azure Power today announced commissioning of a 150 MW solar power project in Punjab last month which is its largest in North India.  For this project, Azure Power had signed a solar power implementation agreement with Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) under its Solar Policy Phase III. According to the statement, the 150 MW solar power plant represents a portfolio of three projects of 50 MW each. The weighted average tariff on these projects is Rs 5.63 per kWh or unit and the company will supply power to Punjab State Power Corp for 25 years.  Spread across 713 acres, the project was commissioned ahead of the contracted scheduled date. By leasing project land, Azure Power has created discretionary long-term cash flow for the local community.  The solar power plant will help in electrifying the nearby areas and create an estimated 1,000 jobs in the locality.  Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Azure Power, Inderpreet Wadhwa said, "We are pleased to have started 2017 with the early commissioning of our largest project. Starting with the 2 MW project in 2009, Azure Power now has a total solar portfolio of 225 MW in the state, currently making it the largest owner and operator of solar power plants in Punjab.

6 January 2017

Tata Power Co has appointed S Padmanabhan as its chairman, in place of Cyrus Mistry who resigned last month.  Tata Power brought back S Padmanabhan, who was executive director of operations at the company until 2014, as an additional director on the board. He is also the executive chairman of the Tata Business Excellence Group and has recently been appointed as Tata Sons’ group head for human resources.  Tata Power had called for an extra ordinary general meeting of shareholders to take up the removal of Mistry as the chairman on December 26, but he rendered his resignation before that on December 19.  Padmanabhan has been with the Tata Group for 34 years, of which 26 were with Tata Consultancy Services . The company had said during his stint with Tata Power between 2008 and 2014, he was “responsible for the profitable and sustainable operations of all thermal and hydro generation plants across India and transmission and distribution systems in Mumbai .   

6 January 2017

IBM has appointed Karan Bajwa as Managing Director of IBM India Pvt Ltd, succeeding Vanitha Narayanan who has been appointed as chairman of the Indian subsidiary. Bajwa joined IBM in 2016 as Executive for Strategy and Transformation in the Asia Pacific region. He was earlier Managing Director, Microsoft India where, besides leading the India business for the company, he also the led the cloud transition and the ecosystem engagement. Bajwa had worked with IBM for five years leading the company’s networking business and based in Singapore from 2001-05. “I see great opportunity ahead for IBM in this market. By constantly reinventing itself and investing in innovation, IBM today is in a sweet spot to help businesses and governments with their digital transformation journey. I look forward to partnering with the industry, our ecosystem and the IBM team to further strengthen our business in the region. In his new role, Bajwa will be responsible for all strategic and operational matters related to IBM’s sales, marketing, services and delivery operations in the India/SA region, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He will lead IBM’s partnership with clients for a cloud and cognitive led digital transformation of their businesses. In his new role, Bajwa will be responsible for all strategic and operational matters related to IBM’s sales, marketing, services and delivery operations in the India/SA region, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He will lead IBM’s partnership with clients for a cloud and cognitive led digital transformation of their businesses.

6 January 2017

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has tied up with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for augmenting capital support to enterprises in the country. The idea behind tying up with the state-run insurance behemoth is to give a boost to the venture capital ecosystem for MSMEs. Under fund of funds operations, SIDBI handles various schemes, namely India Aspiration Fund (corpus of Rs 2,000 crore, ASPIRE Fund (Rs 60 crore) and Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) (Rs 10,000 crore). In April 2016, SIDBI and LIC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to supplement funds under India Aspiration Fund. Under the MoU, the insurance major had earmarked an amount of Rs 200 crore for investment. Under the MOU, as part of first phase, LIC and SIDBI signed Contribution Agreements on January 03 in New Delhi with 7 Venture Capital Funds (VCFs), with an aggregate commitment of Rs 99.50 crore from LIC. This is over and above commitment of Rs 162.75 crore already given to these funds by SIDBI. In order to bring more professional outlook, SIDBI constituted a Venture Capital Investment Committee (VCIC). The panel comprises experts such as H K Mittal (head, National Science & Tech Entrepreneurship Development Board), Kiran Karnik (former Nasscom chief), Sanjeev Bikhchandani (founder, naukri.Com), Saurabh Srivastava (co-founder Nasscom and Indian Angel Network), Prof R Vaidyanathan (from IIM, Bangalore) and T V Mohandas Pai (former CFO, Infosys). Commitments made by SIDBI in financial years 2015 and 2016 were Rs 314.40 (11 funds) and Rs 606.75 crore (19 funds), respectively. In the current fiscal, SIDBI has so far accorded formal sanction to 20 Alternative Investment Funds with aggregate commitments of Rs 714 crore. In addition, there are cases cleared by VCIC which are under detailed appraisal and due diligence, said the company, a dedicated financial agency catering to the needs of MSMEs. After constitution of VCIC in July 2015, out of 40 cases recommended by the panel, 32 funds have already been given final sanction by SIDBI for an aggregate commitment of Rs 1,006.75 crore out of which 19 funds had announced first closing and have commenced investments.

6 January 2017

Karnataka Bank has launched has launched a group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme for all its Saving Bank(SB) Account holders. The insurance scheme is named “KBL Suraksha” and provides insurance cover for accidental death. All the SB Account holders within the age group of 18-70 years can register themselves for the insurance scheme. The KBL Suraskha Scheme comes in two variants. Plan A– provides an accidental insurance of Rs 5 lakh on payment of Annual premium of Rs 50(plus service charge). Plan B – provides an accidental insurance of Rs 10 lakh on payment of Annual premium of Rs 100(plus service charge). The maximum renewal age for the policy will be 75 years. Karnataka Bank has launched the insurance scheme in association with Universal Sompo General Insurance. The bank has launched a month-long campaign to promote its “KBL Suraksha” scheme.  

6 January 2017

The Minister of State for AYUSH (Independent Charge), Shri Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated the International Conference on “Yoga for Diabetes” which began in New Delhi on January 4, 2017. The three days conference aims to generate discussions on the role of Yoga in the prevention and management of Diabetes and draw up a roadmap to be adopted for the control of Diabetes through Yoga. The Conference consists of main and parallel sessions on different aspects of Yoga & Diabetes including research, policy making and panel discussion. It provides a common platform for the Allopathy and AYUSH practitioners, Researchers, Academicians, Policy makers and students to come together in the fight against diabetes  Approximately 400 delegates and 50 eminent experts from India and abroad are expected to participate in the Conference. The conference would conclude on January 6, 2017.

6 January 2017

The two-day Assam Biotech Conclave 2017 began in Guwahati, Assam on January 5, 2017 at a city hotel. The Conclave will have the closing ceremony on January 6, 2017. Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal was the chief guest who inaugurated the Conclave in the presence of various guests of honours including State Science and Technology Minister Keshab Mahanta among others. The Conclave has been organized by the Guwahati Biotech Park (GBP), in association with Federation of Industry & Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER), as an Industry partner. The main objective of the conclave is to bring together the policy makers, industry professionals, investment bankers, Angel Investors and academicians to deliberate the latest trends in this sector which will create business and partnering opportunities for its stakeholders and to showcase the facilities and opportunities offered by Guwahati Biotech Park. This conclave will revolve around a various sessions including technical, business tea research & biotechnology, sericulture biotechnology, entrepreneurship development, innovation & incubation, an MoU signing ceremony with various organizations, unveiling of draft state biotechnology policy for Assam and unveiling of master plan for Guwahati Biotech Park. Guwahati Biotech Park is also organizing a contest entitled ‘Talent Search Contest on Innovative Biotechnology Entrepreneurial Ideas’. The shortlisted participants will present their proposals and the best proposals will be awarded.  

6 January 2017

The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. Decision in this regard was taken at the Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The MoU covers various activities in the field of agriculture and allied sectors which include agricultural research, animal husbandry and dairy, livestock and fisheries horticulture and natural resource management.  It also includes post-harvest management and marketing, irrigation farming systems development, soil and conservation, water management and integrated watershed development integrated pest management, agricultural plant, machinery and implements, sanitary and phytosanitary issues.  It provides for constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising of representatives from both countries to develop detailed cooperation programmes and monitor implementation of this MoU.

6 January 2017

Eminent historian Prof Gangmumei Kamei died on 5 January 2017 in Imphal, Manipur. Kamei was better known for his research work related to the history of northeast India. At the time of death, he was a member of the North Eastern Council (NEC).  Prof Gangmumei Kamei : He wrote extensively on history, culture and contemporary issues of the north east region. He was the president of the Northeast India History Association (NEIHA) at its Kohima session of 1986. He was the Coordinator of the Centre for Manipuri Studies and Tribal Research of Manipur University.He had published a large number of research papers and books. His major publications are - A history of Modern Manipur (1826-2000), A history of Manipur: pre-colonial period, History of Zeliangrong Nagas: From Makhel to Rani Gaidinliu, Ethnicity and Social change (An anthology of essays) and Lectures on History of Manipur. He was also associated with several social and cultural bodies at the State and national level. He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Anthropological Survey of India (1984-87).He was a member of the ICSSR panel on Tribal Studies. In 2010, he was awarded the Platinum Jubilee Samman by the Manipuri Sahitya Parishad.He was awarded a National Fellowship by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.  

6 January 2017

India is celebrating the 350th Prakash Parv or birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. In 2017, Patna, the birthplace of the 10th Sikh Guru, is hosting the anniversary celebrations. The main function of the celebrations was held on 5 January 2017 at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna. The celebrations in the city saw the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and several other Sikh dignitaries from India and abroad. The Patna Government had also announced a three-day holiday during the Prakash Parv at Takht Harmandir Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh. Takht Sri Patna Sahib : Takht Sri Patna Sahib is a Gurudwara in the neighborhood of Patna Sahib, Bihar. The Gurudwara was built in remembrance of the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh on 22 December 1666.It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. The present shrine of Takht Sri Harmandirji Sahib was built in the 1950s. Gobind Singh: The 10th Sikh Guru : Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th Guru of Sikh religion.He was born as Gobind Rai on 22 December 1666. After the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Sikh Guru, who was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, nine years old Guru Gobind Singh was formally made the leader of the Sikhs. In 1699, he founded the Sikh warrior community called as Khalsa. He also introduced the Five Ks, the five articles of faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear all the times.