Today Current Affairs 18th May 2017

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Robert Mueller, former Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was appointed as a special prosecutor to oversee the Russian interference in 2016 United States Elections. The appointment was announced by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

Indian scientist and astronomer Shrinivas Kulkarni has won the prestigious Dan David prize for his work in the field of astronomy. Shrinivas Kulkarni, a professor of astrophysics and planetary science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Kulkarni would share the award with Andrej Udalski of the University of Warsaw and Neil Gehrels of NASA for their discoveries on time-domain astrophysics in the “Future” category of the prize. The Dan David Foundation was established in 2000 by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist. Three Dan David prizes of $1 million awarded each year in the categories of Past, Present and Future to people who have made exemplary contributions to humanity in the field of sciences, humanities, or for their work in civil society.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a programme for the development of bio pharmaceuticals through industry-academia collaboration, entailing an investment of Rs 1,500 crore by it over a period of five years. The programme will focus on the development of specific products such as vaccines, biotherapeutics, medical devices. The mission will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) – a public sector undertaking of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Digital payment and commerce company Paytm has received the final nod from the Reserve Bank of India and is set to launch Paytm Payments Bank on May 23, 2017. Renu Satti, vice-president of business at Paytm, will take over as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Paytm Payments Bank. Paytm is the third company from the 11 other applicants to launch payments bank after Airtel and IndiaPost.

Indian Army will get its first artillery guns called M777 from British Aerospace Systems (BAE). Swedish Bofors guns were inducted in late1980 after which Army has not inducted any modern artillery guns. The two M777 howitzers guns will be used for compilation of firing tables. The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers have been bought to increase the army’s capabilities in high altitude. Indian Army has a plan to use 3503 guns by 2020.

The Jammu and Kashmir government is hosting the 14th Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council meeting in the capital Srinagar. The meeting of the GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The State General Administration Department has appointed 69 Kashmir Administrative Service officers (KAS) as liaison officers for the meeting. The GST is a value added tax and is proposed to be an indirect tax levied on the manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods as well as services by the Central and State Government.

According to Brand Finance, a global brand valuation and strategy consultancy firm Tata Group is the most valuable brand in India. Tata Group topped the list despite its brand value declining 4% from $13.7 billion in 2016. Telecom operator Airtel at an estimated valuation of $7.7 billion ranked second in the list followed by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) ranked third with $6.8 billion. IT firm Infosys and State Bank of India ranked fourth and fifth in the list with an estimated value of $6.2 billion and $5.5 billion respectively.

The Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) has successfully created the country's first smart grid project, which will generate power from renewable sources of energy. The project will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee. Depending on the weather conditions and availability of waste products the smart grid will be synchronised to generate power from solar, wind and vegetable waste resources.

India's first Aquatic Rainbow Technology Park, an ultra modern exclusive facility for ornamental fish and live feed culture units, will become started at Chennai within coming three months. This facility was developed by Fisheries College and Research Institute (FCRI), Ponneri in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is the second largest exporter of ornamental fish after West Bengal. 

Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave has passed away. He was 60. He was born in Barnagar in Madhya Pradesh. Last year, he was sworn in as a minister with independent charge of environment, forest and climate change.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) signed the agreements with Facebook and MobiKwik in order to popularise the internet and its value added services among its customers. BSNL has also signed a third Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Disney Land India to offer premium online gaming services to its mobile customers. As per the terms of the agreement signed with Facebook, BSNL will facilitate connectivity for Facebook’s "Express Wi-Fi Program".

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for signing and ratifying, an Agreement between India and Tajikistan. The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs law. The Cabinet also gave its approval for the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.

Amnesty International (AI) launched 'Brave' to fight against a growing wave of attacks against those defending human rights. The new Brave campaign calls on states to recognise their dignity and equal rights of all people and to ensure their freedom and safety under the United Nations declaration adopted in 1998. According to the report of Front Line Defenders, Last year 281 people were killed globally for defending human rights from 156 in 2015.

The Union Cabinet cleared a proposal allowing for the construction of 10 indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). The reactors will have a capacity of 700 Mega Watt. India’s first PHWR was constructed at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan in technical cooperation with the Atomic Energy Canada Ltd (AECL).

David Letterman will receive the 2017 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the award granted annually by the John F Kennedy Center in Washington. He is the longest running host of late night TV shows. He is the 20th performer to receive the prize. The Mark Twain Prize is one of the two highest profile awards handed out by the Kennedy Center each year, along with the Kennedy Center Honors.