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Important Current Affairs 8th April 2019

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

NTPC signs with Canara Bank to raise Rs.2000 crore.

• National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the State-run power giant, has signed a term-loan agreement with Canara Bank to raise Rs 2,000 crore. The agreement would be used to part finance its capital expenditure. The loan has a door to door tenure of 15 years and will be utilised to part finance the capital expenditure of the NTPC.

SEBI agrees to crore Airport Specific Fund worth Rs. 10,000 crore.

• SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) approved an ‘airport’ specific fund. The name of the fund is ‘Taking Off To the Future Airport Fund’.

• It can raise a capital amounting to 1.5$bn (Rs. 10,000 crores). The ‘Sponsor and Investment Manager’ of the fund is based in Chennai and is termed as ‘Taking Off To The Future Investment Management LLP’.

• Gigi George leads the management and operation of ‘Sponsor and Investment Manager’ A minimum capital contribution of Rs. 3500 crore and a maximum of Rs. 7000 crore is targeted by the fund. On SEBI: The regulator for the securities market in India is the Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI)(established in 1988).

• On 12th May 1992, it became it became an autonomous body by the Government of India. Through the SEBI Act, 1992, SEBI was given statutory powers on 30 January 1992. On 10th January 2017, Ajay Tyagi was appointed as the chairman of SEBI by replacing U.K. Sinha.

MOUS:

Indian Navy signs MoU with CSIR for advanced technologies.

• The Indian Navy signed MoU with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to undertake joint research and development of advanced technologies for the Indian Navy.

• This will be a collaborative arrangement between labs of CSIR, the Indian Navy and Indian industry. The MoU provides a formal framework for interaction between the Indian Navy and CSIR.

DAYS:

National Handloom Week observed from 7th April to 14th April.

• It is a celebration of the country’s 5,000-year old tradition of hand weaving cloths.

• On this occasion, a book named ‘The Indian textile Sourcebook’ authored by Avalon Fotheringham and published by Thames and Hudson will be launched on 9th April.

• In 2018, the National Handloom Week was observed during December month. The National Handloom Day is observed on 7th August every year across India. It was on this day that the Swadeshi Movement was launched in 1905.

• The First National handloom day was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on August 7, 2015 in Chennai.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Algerias Parliament to meet to name an interim successor.

• Algeria’s Parliament is set to meet on 9th April to name an interim successor to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after mass protests pushed the ailing leader from power.

•  Algeria’s Constitution stipulates that the Speaker of the upper house of Parliament, currently Abdelkader Bensalah, 77, should take the presidential reins.

• He is to serve for up to 90 days, during which a presidential election must be organized.

Praful Patel becomes 1st Indian to be elected as member of FIFA Executive Council

• Praful Patel is the current president of All India Football Federation (AIFF). He got 38 out of 46 votes. His membership in the council will be for four years, from 2019 to 2023.

• Patel was accompanied by AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and senior vice-president Subrata Datta. FIFA Council member election was held during the 29th Asian Football Confederations (AFC) Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

INTERNATIONAL:

USD 1.7 trillion needed per year to build disaster-resilient infrastructure in Asia: ADB report

• As per a recent ADB report titled 'Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience’, Developing economies across Asia are among the most vulnerable to natural disasters and have suffered damages estimated at 644 billion dollars since 2000.

• Of these, weather-related hazards caused the greatest share at 507 billion dollars (or 79 per cent) while geophysical hazards accounted for the remaining 137 billion dollars (or 21 per cent).

• To build disaster-resilient infrastructure, investment needs in developing Asia are estimated at 26 trillion dollars from 2016 to 2030, or 1.7 trillion dollars per year, including necessary investments in climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

NATIONAL:

L&Ts Proposal to Acquire Majority Stake in Mindtree approved by Competition Commission of India.

• Larsen and Toubro (L&T) received the approval to acquire up to 66.15 per cent stake in the Bangalore-based IT services firm Mindtree from Competition Commission of India (CCI). Around Rs 10,800 crore was the estimated total deal value.

A new seller-funding programme named Amazon Wings was launched by Amazon India.

• A new seller-funding programme named ‘Amazon Wings’  launched by Amazon India to help the small businesses and entrepreneurs to raise funds through the crowd funding platform.

• Amazon India sellers can use the Ketto’s platform for a subsidized fee which is around 50 percent to initiate fundraisers. With this initiative, the small businesses and entrepreneurs of this platform can raise the funds for their business expansion, product development, and foster innovation or community development.

•  They launched a dedicated microsite to feature fundraisers initiated by sellers by which they can raise small ticket funds starting from as little as Rs 50,000 by means of crowd-funding through multiple individuals.

Chennai Central has been renamed as Puratchi Thalaivar Dr M G Ramachandran Chennai Central after Dr. MG Ramachandran.

• Chennai Central railway station renamed by the Tamil Nadu State Government as Puratchi Thalaivar Dr MG Ramachandran Central Railway Station after late Chief Minister Dr. MG Ramachandran.

• Neeraj Sharma, Railway Executive Board Director notified that the change of name would be possible provided there should not be any inaugural event as a result of the election code of conduct. About Dr. MG Ramachandran Dr. Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (17 Jan 1917-24 Dec 1987) as MG Ramachandran or ‘Makkal Thilagam’ (since he was a popular figure) was a veteran filmmaker, actor and politician. 

• He served for 10 years as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (1977-1987). MG Ramachandran’s autobiography was posthumously published in 2003 (in two volunes) under the title ‘Naan Yaen Piranthaen (Why I was Born)’. His policies focused on economic growth and social welfare.

•  He brought in many educational reforms, banned liquor, upgraded the mid-day meal scheme and worked for the preservation for the state’s cultural heritage. For his immense contribution to public service, M G Ramachandran was posthumously honoured with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, by the Government of India in 1988.

AWARDS:

Tata Steel won 'Global Slag Company of the Year' award.

• The award has been presented to Tata Steel for its innovative practices in development of new applications for Steel by-products (Slag). The award was given at the 14th Global Slag Conference and Exhibition 2019, held recently in Aachen, Germany. The conference is one of the largest global annual slag event, attended by major steelmakers, steel mill service providers & associated companies.

AWARDS:

ESPN India Multi-Sport Awards 2018 announced, PV Sindhu and Neeraj conferred with Sportsperson of year award

• Olympic silver medallist P.V. Sindhu and star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra were named as female and male sportsperson of the year in the ESPN India Multi-Sport Awards for their achievements in 2018. 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist shuttler Saina Nehwal won the award for the ‘Comeback of the Year’ after bagging the bronze at the 2018 Asian Games.

• ESPN Multi-Sport awards 2018 recognised achievements across 11 categories. Other Winners of the Award are:

♦ Coach of the Year - Jaspal Rana (shooting)

♦ Emerging Sportsperson of the Year - Saurabh Chaudhary (shooting)

♦ Team of the Year - Women’s team (table tennis)

♦ Match of the Year - Amit Panghal vs Hasanboy Dusmatov (boxing)

♦ Differently-abled athlete of the Year - Ekta Bhyan (para-athletics)

♦ Moment of the Year - Women’s 4x400m relay

♦ Lifetime Achievement Award - Pradip Kumar Banerjee (football).

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Important Current Affairs 21th February 2019

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

Joint Statement between India and Namibia during President's visit to Namibia.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for a MoU between India and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

•  MoU contains standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including promotion of exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.

• The MOU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/ capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP). It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration and providing a leg-up to it in conducting elections in their respective countries. This would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

India-OECD pact approved.

• The Union Cabinet approved the agreement between India and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

• It has been done for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

• PISA will be conducted by the OECD in 2021. The agreement was signed on January 28, 2019.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM.

• The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022.

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector.

• While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar program would get Rs 11,814 crore.

NATIONAL:

Union Cabinet Approves Implementation Of New Rural Livelihood Scheme.

• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. on Tuesday approved the implementation of the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP).

• This project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be through loan assistance from the World Bank.

• The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion, access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

Dearness Allowance (DA) For Government Employees, Pensioners Increased By 3%.

• The cabinet on Tuesday announced that it had approved a 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance or DA, a move that will benefit more than one crore central government employees and pensioners from January 1, 2019.

• The decision will cost the exchequer over Rs. 9,000 crore.

• Dearness allowance is a component of salary paid to employees to counter the effect of inflation.

• The 3 per cent increase will take the DA and Dearness Rate (DR) for pensioners to 12 per cent.

PM visits BHU in Varanasi; inaugurates Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Hospital.

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited BHU in Varanasi today. 

• He inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

• Governor of UP Shri Ram Naik, CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Odisha CM Launches KALIA Scholarship for Farmers’ Children.

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today unveiled KALIA Scholarship (KALIA Chhatra Brutti) at the Secretariat here for the children of the KALIA Scheme beneficiaries, who are studying and aspiring for technical and professional education.

• After taking the historic step towards transforming the economic standards of the farmers of Odisha through Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the State Government has come up with KALIA Scholarship in order to ensure human resource development among the farming families across the State.

• KALIA Scheme is first of its kind assistance mechanism for farmers in India and has been followed by others as well for its noble means, ideation and inclusiveness.

OBITUARIES:

Acclaimed Hindi Author Namvar Singh Dies At 92.

• Celebrated Hindi author and literary critic Namvar Singh died in the national capital late on Tuesday night. He was 92.

• Mr. Singh breathed his last at 11.51 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Science's Trauma Centre, family sources said.

• Hindi writer, senior journalist, editor and critic Om Thanvi posted about the author's demise on Facebook and said the cremation ceremony of Namvar Singh would take place at the Lodi crematorium on Wednesday afternoon.

DAY AND EVENT:

World Day of Social Justice 20 February.

• Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

• We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

• For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labor Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

APPOINTMENTS:

Anupama elected Astronomical Society of India president, first.

• Dr.G C Anupama has been elected president of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI), becoming the first woman to head the prime association of professional astronomers in the country.

• She was elected to the post in the ASI Executive Council elections for triennium 2019-22 held last week, according to the Society website.

• Presently the Dean and Senior Professor at the Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Anupama is in the Indian core team which is part of the international team engaged in establishing the thirty meter telescope (TMT) at cost of over USD 1 billion in USA (Hawaii).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

NGO Yuwa won Laureus Sport.

• Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

• The NGO works for the girl empowerment.

• The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls.

EXTRAS:

• A.K. Sharma has been re-appointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.

• Saudi Arabia became the 73rd nation to sign the International Solar Alliance. ISA was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

• Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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India hosts World Robot Olympiad for the first time

The 13th edition of the World Robot Olympiad, which is being held in India for the first time, aims to find innovative solutions using robotics technology to reduce, manage and recycle waste. 
●    Organised by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in collaboration with the India STEM Foundation (ISF), the three-day international championship that begins today, will see participation by over 2000 students from 54 countries.
●    Students in the age group of 9 to 25 years, will be participating in four categories – regular category, WRO football, open category and advanced robotics challenge.
●    According to organisers, the theme ‘Rap the Scrap’ is in line with Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.
●    A science, technology, and education event, the Olympiad brings together young minds from across the world to develop their creativity and problem solving skills through challenging and educational robotics competition.
●    About 245 teams from India qualified for the National Championship held at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata and 27 teams qualified for WRO International Championship in different categories.
 

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First ICANN meet after transition of control from the US at Hyderabad

As India prepares to host a meeting of 3,000 internet stakeholders, the top gun of the organisation managing it all says his job would be "to make sure that the train leaves the station on time." 
●    Göran Marby, chief of ICANN, said the meeting will be "historic".
●    It will give way to a new method of doing things as multiple stakeholders decide issues of accountability, and new processes are put in place. 
●    Given the large number of internet users in India, the country is very important.
●    ICANN, which matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers, is hosting its 57th meeting in Hyderabad from November 3-7. 
●    The meeting is important because this is the first time the global community will come together post the US Department of Commerce giving up oversight of the internet. 
●    The internet will now operate in a multi-stakeholder model, which India also agreed to support last year. 

 
 

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New Delhi Declaration of AMCDRR 2016

The three-day Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016 came to an end with the adoption of the ‘New Delhi Declaration’ and the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’. 
●    The Closing ceremony was presided over by Union Home Minister ShriRajnath Singh.
●    This was the first Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) after the advent of the Sendai Framework for DRR (SFDRR).
●    The SFDRR (2015-2030) was adopted by at the Third World Conference on DRR at Sendai in Japan in March, 2015. 
●    The ‘New Delhi Declaration’ is a political statement spelling out the commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk, and strengthening the resilience of communities, nations and the Asian region. 
●    Recognising the need to accelerate the implementation of global frameworks, it commits to a people-centred and whole-of-society approach towards DRR. 


 

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Asia's Largest Oil & Gas Event Petrotech begins


Stage is set for showcasing India's hydrocarbon strength and opportunities in this low oil price regime. 
●    The event will be organized under the aegis of Ministry of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. 
●    The biennial event is being supported by the Indian Oil and Gas industry.
●    The theme for this year is "Hydrocarbons to fuel the future: Choices and Challenges"
●    It aims to explore areas of growth in petroleum technology, exploration, drilling, production and processing, refining and other related issues.
●    The conference would be a platform for national and international experts from oil and gas industry to exchange views, share knowledge, expertise and experience across various segments.
 

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4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meet at Jaipur

India will host the 8th BRICS Summit, in Goa on 15-16 October 2016 during its Chairmanship of BRICS, which it assumed on 15 February 2016.
●    As the precursor the same, the 4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting was convened on 8 October, 2016 at Jaipur to further strengthen the collaboration amongst the BRICS countries in the areas of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
●    The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The Vice Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil, Mr. Álvaro Toubes Prata; Deputy Minister of Federation of Russia, Mr. Alexey Lopatia; Vice Minister of S&T of Peoples Republic of China, H.E.Mr. Jiang Hua; Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa H.E. Madam Naledi Pandor led their respective country delegations.
●    While welcoming the BRICS country Ministerial delegates, Dr Harshvardhan elucidated; “During our Chairmanship we are adopting a five-pronged approach, viz. Institution Building, Implementation, Integration, Innovation and Continuity. Our emphasis is on institution building, implementation of previous commitments, tapping synergies of the existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms, exploring some new areas of cooperation and maintaining continuity in the existing areas.”
●    In alignment with the theme of India’s Chairmanship - Building, Responsive Inclusive and Collective Solutions, the Jaipur Declaration was unanimously adopted by all the BRICS countries. The member countries resolved to intensify, diversify and institutionalize STI cooperation through the BRICS research & innovation initiative.
●    During India’s Chairmanship, significant progress have been achieved in joint knowledge creation in the areas of Photonics; Material Science & Nanotechnology; Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences; Energy; Geospatial Technology; Astronomy; Prevention & Mitigation of Natural Disaster, Water and Solid State Lighting.
●    In fulfillment of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s special attention on engagement of youth, who comprises 65% of workforce of BRICS countries together, India hosted the 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave at Bengaluru and Hampi last week. More than 40 young scientists from BRICS countries participated in the event and discussed some exciting ideas in the field of affordable healthcare, energy solutions and computational intelligence. In order to stimulate and encourage young minds, BRICS Innovative Idea Prize for Young Scientists has been instituted.
●    In order to harness the innovativeness of the youth, India’s proposal to establish a BRICS Science and Technology driven Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnership Programme was agreed by all the member countries.


 

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Islamabad SAARC Meet Virtually Off : India Plus 3 more Nations Pull Out


After India said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Islamabad for the regional SAARC summit in November, three other members - Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan - have also pulled out of the meet, isolating host Pakistan.
•    The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws. 
•    PM Modi has also reviewed the crucial Indus Waters Treaty, which divides resources from six rivers between India and Pakistan, saying "blood and water can't flow together."
•    Officials said India will now utilise much more of its share of water, which will eat into the surplus that Pakistan had been availing.
•    On Thursday, PM Modi has called for a deliberation on whether to downgrade Pakistan's status as a trading partner.
•    Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has led India's campaign against Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly, calling for the isolation of nations that export terror.
 

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27 September : World Tourism Day

 
World Tourism Day 2016 was observed across the world on 27 September 2016. The theme of the World Tourism Day 2016 is Tourism for All - promoting universal accessibility.
•    The official World Tourism Day 2016 celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand.
•    International tourist arrivals grew by 4.6 % in 2015 to 1184 million.
•    In 2015, international tourism generated 1.5 trillion US dollar in export earnings.
•    UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2016. 
•    By 2030, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion (UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030).
•    World Tourism Day is held annually on 27 September with purpose to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
 

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India to host 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave

The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the BRICS framework, is hosting a five day event where a group of about 50 young scientists/ researchers from BRICS countries are meeting in Bengaluru from 26-30th September, 2016. It would be organized and coordinated by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru. 
•    This BRICS Young Scientists Conclave assumes importance as it is taking place during India’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2016 under a focal theme of ‘Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’. The event shall be inaugurated by Prof K. Kasturirangan, former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and former Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 
•    The BRICS Young Scientist Forum (BRICS-YSF), under which the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave is being organised, was initiated at the 2nd BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March, 2015. The respective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministries of BRICS countries are the lead coordinating organisations for this Forum on co-investment and co-ownership principles.
•    The Conclave aims at building a BRICS Innovation Corps – who individually or collectively have specialized capability to work on their novel scientific ideas and technological solutions which transform and accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizen of this region. It will pave way for creation of strong generation of S&T leadership that can accelerate change collectively.
•    Some of the lead speakers in the Conclave, among others from India and abroad, include Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Dr. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, Dr. K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Ayog, and Dr. Baldev Raj, Director, NIAS.  Besides, the above the Conclave is hosting more than 20 distinguished persons from BRICS nations with extraordinary achievements through scientific research, innovation and techno-entrepreneurship.

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