Daily Current Affairs - 07th Mar 2017

Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)

  • Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).
  • The proposal seeks to provide technical support to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in strengthening capacities of governance institutions including Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) to better leverage opportunities created for gender equality through legislation, policies and programmes.
  • The proposed Mo U will facilitate the achievement of time-bound results in the implementation of specific activities identified jointly by MoPR and UN Women within the broader framework for cooperation under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework ((UNDAF). This MoU would thus facilitate operationalizing this important partnership.

Cabinet gives ex-post facto approval to the MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates in the field of providing Energy Efficiency Services

  • Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Productivity Council, an autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Al Etihad Energy Services UAE, to provide various services in the field of energy management and conservation.
  • The MoU will enable NPC avail high value opportunities such as energy building and develop institutional mechanism in area of energy efficiency in Dubai and other Gulf Cooperation Council, (GCC) member countries.

Cancer drug prices slashed up to 86% in a year: NPPA

  • Drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slashed the price of cancer drugs by up to 86% since March last year.
  • The drugs include Iressa of AstraZeneca Pharma India, whose price has been brought down from
  • ` 29,259 to `3,977, a reduction of 86%.
  • Apart from cancer, important medicines used in the treatment of diabetes, bacterial infections and blood pressure have been capped by the government, thereby reducing the cost by an average of around 25 to 50%.” Since March 2016, prices of around 800 drugs have been slashed by the government.

Donald Trump's new travel ban order lists 6 countries

  • USA President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order for a US travel ban , leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries.
  • The new order, which Trump had signed, will keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
  • Iraq was taken off the list in the original order, which was issued on January 27, because the Iraqi government has imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants.

Economy to grow 7.1% in FY17: Global rating agency Fitch

  • Global rating agency Fitch today said Indian economy will grow by 7.1% in the current fiscal before stepping up to 7.7% in the next two financial years.
  • The US-based agency, however, termed the 7% GDP growth for the October-December quarter as “surprising”, a tad lower than 7.4% in the previous quarter.
  • Fitch projection of growth for this fiscal is in line with the estimates of CSO and global think-tank OECD.
  • The rating agency said it expects the policy interest rate to stay at its current level of 6.25%.

Govt approves Rs 4,500 cr project to revive 50 airports, airstrips

  • The Union Government has approved a proposal to revive 50 unserved and under-served airports as well as airstrips at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore.
  • With the plan, the Government is looking to enhance air connectivity to small cities and towns while the revival of such airports and airstrips would be "demand driven".
  • The proposal was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Govt may unveil IIP, WPI with 2011-12 base year by April-end

  • The government may unveil two macroeconomic indicators — the index of industrial production and the wholesale price index — with a new base year 2011-12, by April end, to ensure compatibility with growth numbers.
  • The change in the baseline for IIP and WPI, currently at 2004-05, is expected to bring in more accuracy in mapping the level of economic activity and calculating other numbers like national accounts.
  • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has already changed the base for the countrys national accounts, including the gross domestic product (GDP) and the gross value addition (GVA).

Haryana govt flags nation-first pension scheme for widowers

  • The Haryana government was considering giving monthly cash handouts to men who lose their wives, a first for a country that traditionally only provides such payments to women.
  • Haryana pays a monthly pension of Rs1,600 to the state’s 650,000 widows every month. But men who lose their wives receive no such payout, prompting calls for the scheme to be revised.
  • Most states in India pay monthly cash payments to widows from poorer backgrounds due to concerns that some widows, especially in rural areas, may be abandoned by their families who consider them a financial burden.

IISc becomes first Indian university to be ranked among top 10 in world:Times Higher Education Ranking 2017

  • IISc (Indian Institute of Science) Bangalore has been ranked eighth in the Times Higher Education or THE Rankings for the year 2017.
  • The list of 'Best Small Universities in the World 2017' was released . Small universities are those with fewer than 5,000 students.
  • IISc now joins the elite list that includes California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from the US, Ecole Normale Superieure from France and Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea. Caltech continues to retain its leadership position, and France and Italy each take three places among the top 10.

India has highest bribery rate among 16 Asia Pacific countries: Transparency International

  • India had the highest bribery rate among the 16 Asia Pacific countries surveyed by Transparency International. The Global Corruption Barometer for the Asia Pacific Region was released by Transparency International (TI) - an anti-corruption global civil society organisation.
  • Nearly seven in 10 Indians who had accessed public services had paid a bribe. Contrast this with the least corrupt country - Japan, where only 0.2% of the respondents reported paying a bribe.
  • India was followed closely by Vietnam where around two thirds (65%) had paid a bribe when accessing public services.

Indian women’s hockey team triumph over Belarus in fourth Test

  • Indian women defeated Belarus 2-1 to register their fourth consecutive victory in the five-match hockey Test series.
  • Earlier, India won the first three Tests by 3-1, 5-1 and 2-1 respectively.
  • The series is part of India's preparations ahead of the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament in Canada in April.

Indo-Oman joint army exercise begins in Himachal Pradesh

  • Troops of Indian and Oman armies commenced their 14-day joint exercise “Al-Nagah-II 2017” in Bakloh belt of Himachal Pradesh to strengthen the military ties between the two countries.
  • The joint training exercise of the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman began with the opening ceremony at Bakloh.
  • This is the second edition of the exercise which is in continuation of a series of joint exercises between the armies of the two countries.
  • The first edition of the exercise was held at Muscat, Oman in 2015.

Law to regulate use of air conditioners

  • To coax establishments to use electricity more efficiently, the Union Environment Ministry is mulling laws that will require buildings — commercial spaces, airports, offices — to ensure that air conditioners function at pre-set temperatures.
  • At a conference to discuss India’s roadmap to phase out particular gases used in refrigerants and air-conditioners because they contribute to global warming, M.K. Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests said the government could bring in a notification, after due public consultation, and have rules that define operating parametres for ACs.
  • The panel was part of conference to announce updates on India’s ongoing plans to phase out hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), chemicals widely used in refrigerants and air conditioners.

Netflix partners with Airtel, Vodafone, and Videocon d2h in India

  • Netflix, one of the major players in video streaming across the world, has announced strategic partnerships in India with Airtel, Videocon and Vodafone.
  • The company will also open an office in Mumbai soon. Both Airtel and Videocon d2h will integrate the Netflix app into their direct-to-home television services, thus ensuring a wider audience for the streaming service.

New trademark rules cut number of forms from 74 to 8

  • The new Trade Mark Rules 2017, which came into effect from March 6, 2017, have reduced the number of trade mark (TM) forms from 74 to 8.
  • The rules, which replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002, are aimed at simplifying the process of trade mark applications, an official release said.To promote e-filing of TM applications, the new rules have kept the fee for online filing 10 per cent lower than that for physical filing.
  • Also, based on stakeholder feedback, the fee for individuals, start-ups and small enterprises has been reduced to `4,500 against `8,000 proposed by the draft rules.

Uttarakhand: Indo-Nepal joint Military exercise 'Surya Kiran-X' begins

  • A joint military exercise SURYA KIRAN-XI between India and Nepal was started in Pithoragarh area of Uttarakhand. This is a battalion level joint exercise between the two armies.
  • The two week long exercise is aimed at training of both the troops in the area of various counter insurgency operations over a prolonged period. It will also focus on other important aspects such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and environmental conservation.

World’s longest-serving warship INS Viraat retairs

  • Indian Navy's oldest warship INS Viraat retired today after nearly six decades in service.
  • The INS Viraat, the former HMC Hermes of the Royal British Navy, was built during World War II and joined the Indian Navy in 1986.
  • INS Viraat played a major role in 1989 in the Sri Lankan peace keeping operation and was also used during the Operation Parakram after the 2001 parliament attack.
  • Sea Harrier fighters, Sea King and Kamov helicopters took off from the ship, which has sailed nearly 11 lakh km, enough to cover the globe 27 times.