Today Current Affairs 4th January 2018

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The NABARD sanctioned Rs 372.51 crore loan assistance under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) to Odisha towards irrigation and rural bridge projects for the last quarter of this fiscal. NABARD has also sanctioned 14 Rural Bridge Projects under Biju Setu Yojana with RIDF loan assistance of Rs 242.34 crore.

The Andhra Pradesh Grameena Vikas Bank (APGVB) operationalized its first desktop ATM in Telangana. The mini-ATM within the branch premises will facilitate customers to withdraw small amounts. At the same time, regular bank account holders can withdraw money and do other banking activities. With these ATMs, there will be no need for separate ATM rooms, so there is no security issue. This initiative is the biggest under the SBI and among the best regional rural banks (RRBs).

Scientists have discovered four new balsam species from various locations in Eastern Himalayas in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. They are Impatiens haridasanii, Impatiens pseudocitrina, Impatiens nilalohitae and Impatiens roingensis. It was discovered in Pongchan. The species is characterized by small yellow flowers and hairy leaves.

The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) signed an agreement for the training of employees of the latter in the area of payment banking. Under the agreement, IICA has been entrusted with the key responsibility of capacity building of IPPB through training of its officials/employees besides providing research support by instituting Research Chairs in the emerging area of payment banking.

Rajinder Khanna was appointed the deputy National Security Adviser (NSA). He was the former chief of the country’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He headed the RAW for a fixed two-year period. Mr Khanna is at present officer on special duty (Neighbourhood Studies) in the National Security Council Secretariat.

The Union Cabinet approved the signing of MoU between India and Israel on cooperation in the Oil and Gas Sector. The cooperation envisaged under the agreement will facilitate promotion of investments in each other’s countries, technology transfer, R&D, conducting joint studies, capacity building of human resources and collaboration in the area of Start-ups.

The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The new AIIMS will be completed in a period of 48 months. It will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds and trauma center facilities. It will also have a Medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year. Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar (Odisha), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Rishikesh and Patna (Bihar) while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh) is in progress.

The Centre unveiled the contours of the ‘Electoral Bonds’ scheme, which seeks to ensure the flow of clean money to political parties, without revealing the donors’ names. As per the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the electoral bonds will be a bearer instrument in the nature of a Promissory Note and an interest-free banking instrument.  A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond from specified branches of the State Bank of India. The bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs1,000; Rs10,000; Rs1 lakh; Rs10 lakh; and Rs1 crore. The bonds will not carry the name of the payee and will be valid only for 15 days during which it can be used to make a donation only to certain political parties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to strengthen Indo-Russia strategic ties. During a telephone conversation yesterday, the two leaders discussed the intensification of the bilateral relations between India and Russia and their cooperation in the international forums.  A release from the Indian Embassy in Moscow both leaders agreed to further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia.  They positively reviewed the exchanges between the two countries in 2017. He also greeted the Russian leader on the occasion of the New Year.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left on a 5-day visit to three South East Asian countries – Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. On the first leg of the visit, Ms. Swaraj will reach Thailand and will hold an official meeting with Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai. During the visit to Indonesia, Ms. Swaraj will co-chair the 5th meeting of India-Indonesia Joint Commission. In Singapore, the External Affairs Minister will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas of ASEAN countries. She will have bilateral meetings with the leaders in Singapore.

The Union Cabinet approved the Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing. The Agreement will facilitate regulation and harmonization of already existing free movement rights for people of both countries. It will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries. The Agreement is an enabling arrangement for movement of people across India-Myanmar border.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism Minister Surendra Patwa that the government is likely to introduce a plan worth Rs 100 crore. The plan is aimed at providing better facilities for the people visiting the state and to avoid inconvenience for pilgrims coming from across the country. Religious tourism is increasing in the state and the chief minister has said that we will make a scheme worth almost Rs. 100 crore to ensure better facilities for visitors. In the coming time, we will be providing more and more facility to the pilgrims coming to Madhya Pradesh.

Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and the Netherlands formally joined the ranks of the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to make a difference. The UN Security Council has 15 members, including five with permanent seats who have the power to veto resolutions - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The six countries who left the UN Security Council recently are Egypt, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay.

State-owned gas utility GAIL India Limited commissioned the country's second-largest rooftop solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh. The firm has installed a 5.76 MWp (Mega Watt peak) solar plant at its petrochemical complex at Pata in Uttar Pradesh. The plant over the roofs of warehouses covers a total area of 65,000 square meters.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) sanctioned financial assistance of Rs 10,000 Crores to Odisha. Assistance has also been given by the NABARD for the creation of rural infrastructures such as roads and bridges, lift irrigation projects, rural piped drinking water project, warehousing, and irrigation structures. Under Long-Term Refinance scheme of the NABARD, banks in Odisha have availed credit support of Rs 624 Crores which have facilitated the creation of private sector farm assets. For infrastructure creation, the bank extended financial support to the tune of Rs 2118 Crores.