Today Current Affairs 17th November 2016

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Russia has officially withdrawn from International Criminal Court (ICC) after President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order in this regard.  The executive order mentioned that Russia is pulling out of the 2002 Rome Statute, which establishes the ICC’s status and powers. However, Russia had never ratified the statue meaning it was never member subject to its jurisdiction. Russia was against by ICC’s declaration that Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula was an armed conflict. Russia is also under international pressure over its campaign of air strikes in Syria over the issue of bombing civilians and civilian targets. Russia has denied those allegations. Besides, ICC is also examining allegations of war crimes committed by Russian and Georgian forces during a brief 2008 war. International Criminal Court (ICC) :  ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal. It has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It was established by the Rome Statute which was adopted in July 1998 end entered into force in July 2002. ICC is seen as a successor to Nuremburg trials after World War II and ad-hoc UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  The multilateral treaty of Rome Statute serves as the ICC’s foundational and governing document. Currently, there are 124 states which are party to Rome Statute and therefore members of the ICC (India and China are not its members).

Pakistan conducted Raad ul Barq (Strike of Thunder) military exercise in a strategically located area in Punjab province, bordering India. It was the comprehensive joint exercise carried out jointly by Pakistan Army and Air Force to reflect the preparedness of our armed forces to respond to any threat to its national security. The exercise showcased the combat readiness of the country’s defence line with live firepower demonstration using heavy artillery fighter jets and air defence weapons. During the military exercise, JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, helicopter gunships and Al-Khalid tanks hit designated targets on the groun. It also demonstrated Pakistan’s indigenously developed surface-to-air missiles, multi-barrel rocket launchers, sky radars for target detection and rocket propelled target system.

To contain the problems being faced by people following the demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupees currency notes, the Union Government on 17 November 2016 announced new measures to contain the problem. The measures were announced by Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das. Highlights of Measures :  Measure for Farmers : To ensure sowing in the Rabi season, farmers have been allowed to withdraw 25000 rupees a week against crop loan and Kisan credit card. Measures for Traders: Traders registered with Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets and mandis can draw 50 thousand rupees in cash per week to pay for sundry expenses like wages. For Marriage: a person can withdraw up to 2.5 lakh rupees from bank account for marriage during ongoing wedding season. The money can be withdrawn by one member of the family, may be father or mother, bride or bridegroom. Crop loan insurance premium: The time limit for payment of crop loan insurance premium will be extended by 15 days. Central Government Employees: Employees up to Group C can draw salary advance up to 10000 rupees in cash. This advance salary will be adjusted against their salaries of November. The existing limit of 4500 for exchange of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes has been reduced to 2 thousand rupees.  

Search Engine Google on 16 November 2016 launched the scanning app Google PhotoScan to scan and digitise physical photographs.The App is maintained by Google Photos.  Highlights of the App : It detects edges of the picture, straightens the image and rotates it to the correct orientation.  It ensures that the scanned old photos are clear and glare-free. It uses augmented reality to create four points near the frame and uses the four photos to create composite image without glare.  The setup of the app is that effortless as it gives directions on how to use the app properly.  Users can even adjust the corners and rotate the scanned picture to their satisfaction. Once the photos are scanned, they can be saved in one tap to Google Photos. Saved scanned photos can be organised, searched, shared and safely backed up at high quality. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.

The sixth India China joint training exercise Hand- in- Hand 2016 commenced on 16 November 2016 at the parade ground in Aundh Military Camp, Pune. The exercise will terminate on 27 November 2016. The joint exercise intends to acquaint both the Armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of counter terrorism environment. The Opening Day parade was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Li Guanghua, Commanding Officer of People’s Liberation Army. Highlights of the exercise : The primary aim of the exercise is enhancing confidence and trust between the two armies, which may be called upon to grapple with anti terrorism operations under the UN mandate. The conduct of joint military exercises is also an important step to uphold the values of Peace, Prosperity and Stability in the region. The Opening Ceremony was followed by both the contingents displaying their weapons, which included assault rifles, grenade launchers and other equipment. The Ceremony concluded with a display of India martial arts of Kalyaripattu, Khukri dance and Malkhamb by soldiers of Indian Army and a massed martial arts display by the Chinese contingent. The 13-day exercise is focused upon training on crossing of obstacles, special heliborne operations, firing of various weapons, handling and neutralization of improvised explosive devices and conduct of cordon and search operations in insurgency and terrorism environment.

The World Philosophy Day was observed globally on 17 November 2016. This year, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organised the special events from 16 November to 18 November. The Day is celebrated on every third Thursday of November. This year, the Day was celebrated in line with the International Day for Tolerance (16 November). Here is the list of events conducted during 3-day celebrations:15th International Encounters on New Philosophical Practices (16-17 November) Roundtable Conference on Tolerance (17 November) Inauguration of UNESCO Chair on the Practice of Philosophy with Children (18 November) Roundtable Conference on Teaching Aristotle (18 November) A Night of Philosophy (18-19 November) The World Philosophy Day was introduced in 2002 by UNESCO to encourage the world to share their philosophical heritage and open their minds to new ideas.In 2005, the UNESCO General Conference decided to celebrate World Philosophy Day on every third Thursday of November.The day is organized by UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme.

Chhattisgarh became the first state of India to adopt a resolution that welcomes the demonetisation scheme of the union government. The resolution was moved in the state assembly by Chief Minister Raman Singh. The resolution on 16 November 2016 saw 41 votes in favour and 25 against in assembly. Earlier on 8 November 2016 at 8:00pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised the high-value currency notes of India. He announced 1000 and 500 rupees notes will cease to be legal tender from midnight 8-9 November 2016. Highlights : The decision will help in flushing out black money from the system. It would also usher the clean transaction and clean money system. It will also impact various contentious issues that plague the system. Besides, the Chief Minister also said that his government will take steps that encourage people in the small business to switch over to the e-payment system. He added that the places with swipe-machines will be exempted from the Value Added Tax (VAT). Apart from this, the state government has made all arrangements to make online payments to farmers for their paddy procured under support price system.

The State Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has permitted the use of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes for land registry fee payment until 24 November 2016. The announcement was made following Union Government’s decision to allow payment of certain utility services with the old currency and land registration is being considered as utility charge by the UP government. Land registry fee is decided depending on the size of the land or house being purchased. Presently, the highest payable amount is 20,000 Rupees. The Chief Secretary of Telangana State, Rajeev Sharma announced on 16 November 2016 that people can use old demonetized 500 and 1000 rupee notes to pay their dues to the government till 24 November 2016.  The exemption covers all kinds of fees, taxes and penalties payable to the government including commercial taxes, registration fee, water dues and power bills.  In Bengal, the state government has withdrawn agricultural tax levied on heavy vehicles carrying perishable goods like fish, egg and vegetables.  Many of these trucks/ vehicles were stuck at the state’s border, unable to enter due to shortage of currency notes.  Besides this, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) run by Trinamool Congress has decided to permit people to use old currency notes to pay property tax for now.   Vinod Tawde, Minister of Cultural Affairs in Maharashtra also announced his government’s decision of allowing the use of old notes in Marathi theatres.  The exemption however, only applies to the already scheduled Marathi plays at theatres run by urban development boards across the state. This is to minimize the possibility of black marketing of the tickets.  The Maharashtra government has also waived off toll fees on all of its state highways until 24 November 2016, making it easy for farmers who can now transport their produce on state transport buses for free.  Apart from this, the chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis ordered all private hospitals to take cheques from emergency case patients who are short on cash. Fadnavis assured the hospitals that the state would pay 10,000 rupees from the CM’s Relief Fund to the hospital for every patient whose cheque bounces. These decisions by the state governments are being taken at their own risk. To ease the plight of common people, the Union Government has also extended its deadline for the use of 500 and 1000 rupees notes in the payment of utility bills, fuel, taxes, fees and other purchases from consumer co-operative stores to 24 November 2016.  

The word Post Truth was named as word of the year 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries on 16 November 2016. The word was selected after research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries revealed a fact that the use of word post-truth saw an increase of about 2000 percent over its usage in 2015. The Word of the Year of Oxford Dictionary is an expression or word that is chosen to reflect the passing year in language. These words are chosen by the Oxford after reviewing and debating on the merits of the words, ethos, mood or preoccupations of that particular year.  word Post-truth  Post-truth (adjective): Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. It is also become associated with a particular noun, in the phrase ‘post-truth politics’. The word post-truth has been in existence for more than a decade but its usage saw a spike some events of recent past. The events that saw increase in frequency of usage of term post-truth like It was used maximum time in June 2016 in the United Kingdom during European Union referendum.  It also saw its usage during the United States Presidential election. It again saw the rise in usage in July 2016 when Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. As per Oxford Dictionaries, the word post-truth was first used in a 1992 essay of the Nation Magazine. The essay was written by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich. Reflecting on the Iran-Contra scandal and the Persian Gulf War, Tesich lamented that ‘we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world’. There is evidence of the phrase ‘post-truth’ being used before Tesich’s article, but apparently with the transparent meaning ‘after the truth was known’, and not with the new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant. Words shortlisted to be the Word of the Year : Certain words which were shortlisted to be the Word of the Year reflect the social, economic, political, cultural and technological trends and events that have been a part of 2016. These words were either coined in 2016 or are the older ones. The words were Adulting (noun): The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.  Alt-right (noun): An ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content. Bxrexiteer (noun): A person who is in favour of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union. Chatbot (noun): A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. Coulrophobia (noun): Extreme or irrational fear of clowns Glass cliff (noun): Used with reference to a situation in which a woman or member of a minority group ascends to a leadership position in challenging circumstances where the risk of failure is high. The word was coined in 2004 by psychologists Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam. Hygge (noun): A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). Latinx (noun): A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina).

Pakistan has ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers and their family members to leave the country by November 20, in a apparent move to ‘please’ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who starts his two-day visit to Islamabad on 17 Nov 2016 According to the interior ministry, the teachers of Pak-Turk schools have been asked to leave the country along with their family members within three days. Some 108 Turkish teachers have been serving in the Pak-Turk Schools in the country. They along with their family members have been denied extension to their visas on the request of the Erdogan administration as these schools were run by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Erdogan blamed for July’s failed military coup. The Pak-Turk Schools administration has expressed shock over the government’s decision which it believes has been taken under pressure. In August, Pakistan had promised Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that it would investigate the network of schools Ankara wanted shut for its alleged links with Gulen. The network of Pak-Turk schools and colleges was launched in 1995 under the international NGO registered with the Turkish government. The chain of 28 schools and colleges is functioning in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. Some 11,000 students from pre-school to ‘A’ levels are studying there.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for the first time has deployed a team of women commandos in anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand.  The 135 women commandos belonging to the 232 battalion’s Delta company have started carrying out anti-Naxal operations. The women commandos are currently undertaking operations under the close supervision of CRPF’s 133 battalion in Naxal-infested forests on the outskirts of Ranchi near Khoonti area. They will be equally capable of neutralising Naxals in par with men commandos.  They are experts in carrying out all types of anti-Naxal operations and shall play important role in tackling women Naxals. They have been trained in several case studies and carry out their operation in a perfect manner. They are also equipped with modern weapons and software to assist them in executing their plan. Central Reserve Police Force (CRFP)  : CRPF is the largest central armed police force or paramilitary force in India. It functions under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).  Its primary role is to assist States/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency. It was established in 1939, under Crown Representative’s Police but after independence it was made statutory after enactment of the CRPF Act, 1949. At present, CRPF is the world’s largest paramilitary force with 228 battalions and over three lakh personnel.

Japanese carmaker, Suzuki Motor Corporation is planning to set up an industrial training institute in Gujarat state, India to cooperate on the human resource development in the manufacturing sector in India by “Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Programme” agreed between the governments of India and Japan on November 11, 2016. The industrial training institute will be established as “Japan-India Institute for Manufacturing” (JIM), and the new term of the institute to be cooperated by Suzuki will begin in August 2017 at Mehsana district in Gujarat state. The JIM will offer seven technical courses: Fitter, Electrician, Mechanic Diesel, Motor Mechanic Vehicle, Mechanic Auto Body Repair, Mechanic Auto Body Paint Repair and Welder, and the students of each course will be trained for one to two years. The institute pursues the total graduates from this institute after 2018 of approximately 300 persons. The JIM will be established and run by Maruti Suzuki India Limited, an Indian subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Drug major Sun Pharma has announced signing of tri-party agreement between Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of Madhya Pradesh and Foundation for Disease Elimination and Control of India (FDEC- India) to launch the malaria-free India demonstration project in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh.  FDEC-India has been established by Sun Pharma as part of its corporate social responsibility initiative.  Commenting on the pact, Sun Pharma MD Dilip Shanghvi The Public-Private-Partnership agreement signed today is an important step towards elimination of malaria from India by 2030.  As per the pact, ICMR's National Institute for Research in Tribal Health, MP Government and FDEC-India will accomplish the goals of malaria elimination from Mandla district and prevent re-introduction by use of vector control and case management as per national and/or WHO norms of malaria elimination . The lessons learned from this demonstration project will be useful for scaling up malaria elimination programme in the rest of the state and the country .

UAE’s first Unesco World Heritage site Al Ain Oasis was opened by Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region. Al Ain Oasis has tools like the ‘Eco-Centre’ to better understand the oasis’ ecosystem, its historic evolution, and its significance for Abu Dhabi’s heritage and civilisation. The centre also showcases the environmental standards followed to preserve the oasis’ ecosystem.This site will feature restaurants, cafes and shops selling products and produce derived from the oasis. Al Ain Oasis : It is located north of the Al Mutawa'a district and east of the Al Jhali district. The main central district of Al-`Ain is to the north, with the border between Al-`Ain City and the `Omani Town of Al Buraimi to the northwest.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today formally launched the World Bank funded mega US $250 million Jhelum-Tawi Flood Recovery project which would give a massive push to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure post 2014 floods in the State. The project was conceptualised and pursued by former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in the aftermath of devastating floods of 2014 and was formally launched today after completion of all formalities. Mehbooba reminded the jam packed audience of stakeholders that when Sayeed, her father, took over in 2002 as the Chief Minister he rolled out his political and developmental agenda and started working for its implementation and during the same tenure he persuaded and got Asian Development Bank assistance for funding the urban development projects in the State and after taking over in 2015 convinced the World Bank to fund reconstruction of critical developmental infrastructure in the State. While many countries specialise in one or the other sector she would like investment and expertise flow to the State in critical developmental sectors for achieving this unparallelled feat, she said adding todays launch of the World Bank project is a step in this direction. 

Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar after a meeting with the Rajasthan Education Minister, on November 14, 2016 informed about the decision of the Government to reintroduce compulsory class X board examination for Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE) schools from the 2017-18 academic year which was scrapped 6 years ago.  However, the State Governments will be given the authority to reintroduce class V and VIII board examinations, a proposal for which will be tabled in the Cabinet and then in Parliament. The main focus of HRD Ministry is on improving the quality of school education, specifically of Government schools.

Rustom-II, India's indigenously developed long-endurance combat-capable drone, successfully completed its maiden-flight, giving a boost to India's development programme for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).  The DRDO successfully carried out the maiden-flight of TAPAS 201 (RUSTOM-II), a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV. It has an endurance of 24 hours and can conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the country's armed forces.  The UAV can also be used as an unmanned armed combat vehicle on the lines of the US's Predator drone.  The test flight took place from Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, 250 km from Bangalore, which is a newly developed flight test range for the testing of UAVs and manned aircraft.  The flight accomplished the main objectives of proving the flying platform, such as take-off, bank, level flight and landing among others . TAPAS 201 has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), the Bangalore-based lab of DRDO with HAL-BEL as the production partners.  TAPAS 201, a multi-mission UAV is being developed to carry out Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles for the three armed forces with an endurance of 24 hours.  It is capable to carry different combinations of payloads like Medium Range Electro Optic (MREO), Long Range Electro Optic (LREO), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and Situational Awareness Payloads (SAP) to perform missions during day and night.  Rustom-II will undergo further trials for validating the design parameters, before going for User Validation Trials. 

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched a revamped version of its toll-free helpline number 1947. The number is revamped to handle more incoming calls. The helpline number was launched to help residents get quick access to information about Aadhaar. Highlights of the toll-free helpline number : The free of cost helpline 1947 will be available 24x7 throughout the year on IVRS mode. On the other hand, call-centre agents will be available from 7 am to 11 pm from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, the agents will answer calls from 8 am to 5 pm. On an average, the helpline number handles about 1.5 lakh calls per day. It can be accessed through mobile or landline. It will be especially beneficial in these times when the Aadhaar number is being increasingly used in the banking sector to identify individuals. It will also enable residents to locate an Aadhaar Enrolment Centre, know generation status of an Aadhaar number and help retrieve Aadhaar details of any person who has lost his/her Aadhaar or has not received it through post.  

The Union Government has inaugurated Hunar Haat (Skill Haat) exhibition at India International Trade Fair (2016) at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on 15 November 2016. The exhibition aims at supporting and promoting artisans from minority communities and providing them domestic as well as international market to display and sell their products. National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) has organised the exhibition Hunar Haat under scheme USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) of Ministry of Minority Affairs. India International Trade Fair (IITF) that began on 14 November will conclude on 27 November 2016. It saw the participation of about 184 master artisans from 26 states and Union Territories of the country.The participants are displaying their traditional art and skills at about 100 stalls.It is a platform where Indian artisans can display the traditional Indian art and handicrafts at an ease. The artefacts put on display at the exhibition Hunar Haat include  North Eastern states: Cane and bamboo work Uttar Pradesh: Cloth work and embroidery (chikan) work, Jardoji clothes work and brass artefacts Southern states: Collection of pottery work Bihar-Jharkhand: Handicrafts  Bengal-Odisha: Indigenous goods for domestic use Rajasthan: Arts/crafts like marble work Gujarat:  Beautiful handicrafts Kashmir: Pashmina and bronze work Others artefacts at display at Hunar Haat include sandalwood and other wooden artefacts as well as herbal products made from aloe vera, neem, tulsi and many more. Besides, centuries old Ayurvedic and Unani health care products, Indian silk-cotton work and glass artefacts are a part of the exhibition. USTTAD scheme :  The scheme was launched on 14 May 2015 in Varanasi. It was launched with an aim to preserve rich heritage of traditional arts and crafts of the Minority communities.It seeks to build a capacity of traditional artisans and craftsmen.