Daily Current Affairs - 17th Apr 2017

31 new seismological observatories soon

  • Thirty-one seismological observatories are expected to come up in the country by the end of the year to boost information gathering capabilities. The National Centre of Seismology (NCS), a unit of the Union Ministry of Earth Science, will install five observatories in Uttar Pradesh; four each in Bihar and Haryana; three each in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi; two each in Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh; and one each in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Lakshadweep.
  • The NSC maintains a National Seismological Network (NSW) comprising 84 seismological laboratories across the country. These observatories record seismological activities after an earthquake and pass on the data to a control room, which generates relevant data on the quake. The plan is to increase the number of observatories to 150 by next year
  • Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences: Harsh Vardhan

70th Himachal Day celebrated across the state

  • Himachal Pradesh celebrated 70th Himachal Day function in Chamba. Himachal Pradesh came into existence by merging 30 odd princely states in 1948.
  • In 1948, state’s per capita income was Rs 240 and State’s GDP was Rs 26 crore. At present, the corresponding figures are Rs 1,47,277 and Rs 1,24,570 crore respectively.
  • Literacy rate has increased from 7% in 1948 to 82.80% (Census 2011).
  • Out of total 3226 panchayats, 3138 panchayats have been connected with motorable roads.
  • 70% of the population of the state depends on agriculture for their livelihood.
  • Himachal Pradesh Capital: Shimla
  • Chief Minister: Virbhadra singh

AI to crack down on unruly fliers

  • Air India plans to provide more autonomy to its managers at airports under a stricter framework being prepared to deal with unruly fliers. Since the incident of an MP assaulting an Air India staffer last month, the national carrier as well as the government have been exploring ways to bolster the existing mechanism to rein in unruly passengers.
  • Providing more autonomy for Air India managers, stronger mechanism to report incidents of untoward behaviour and possibility of seeking monetary compensation from the unruly flier are being looked at under the new framework.
  • Chairman & Managing Director of Air India: Ashwani Lohani

B Sai Praneeth lifts his maiden Super Series title in Singapore

  • Sai Praneeth has won the title match of Men's singles at Singapore Open Badminton beating his compatriot Kidambi Srikanth. Returning in the match after losing first game 17-21 Praneeth won last two games 21-17, 21-12 .
  • He thrashed three-time Korea Masters Grand Prix Gold winner Lee 21-6 21-8 in a lop-sided semifinal match.
  • T Y Tai has won the Womens Singles title beating Carolina Marin in straight sets 21-15, 21-15.

CBI goes after shell companies

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started filing cases for financial frauds involving such firms, especially for exchange of demonetised notes. Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate cracked down on shell companies nationwide.
  • The CBI filed a major case of deposits in “benami” accounts in Gujarat, where bank officials found that several account-holding companies were not doing any business, as shown on paper.
  • CBI Chief: Alok Kumar Verma; Enforcement Directorate Chief: Karnal Singh

Collegium clears 51 names for HC

  • The Supreme Court collegium has recommended 51 names for appointment as judges in 10 High Courts in the country. The collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S. Khehar cleared the names after finalising the memorandum of procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges.
  • The 51 names were cleared by trimming a list of 90 names received from the various High Court collegium. Of the 51, 20 are judicial officers and 31 are advocates.
  • The collegium has recommended the names for the High Courts of Bombay, Punjab and Haryana, Patna, Hyderabad (for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh), Delhi and Chhattisgarh.
  • Collegium system is a process through which decisions related to appointments and transfer of judges in supreme court and high court is taken by a collegium which consists of CJI, four senior most judges of supreme court and three members of concerned high court.

Computer and internet pioneer Robert Taylor dies at 85

  • Robert Taylor, a computer scientist who was instrumental in the creation of the internet and modern computer, has died. He was 85.
  • As a researcher for the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1966, Taylor was instrumental in creating a single computer network to link ARPA-sponsored researchers at companies and institutions. That shared network, ARPANET has evolved into the internet.
  • Taylor's team also developed the networking technology Ethernet and a word processing program called Bravo that would become the basis for Microsoft Word.
  • Taylor also played a key role in the creation of the computer mouse. While serving as a project manager for NASA in 1961, Taylor learned of research into interaction between humans and computers being conducted by computer scientist Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research.
  • In 1999, Taylor was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation "for visionary leadership in the development of modern computing technology, including computer networks, the personal computer and the graphical user interface."

Four Indians get invite from NBL

  • Senior India basketball players Amjyot Singh Gill, Amritpal Singh, Yadwinder Singh, and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi have been invited by the National Basketball League (NBL) — the professional basketball league of Australia — for the NBL Draft Combine for the upcoming season 2017-18.
  • The Combine will be held on April 17 and 18 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
  • Under the new rules of the NBL, players belonging to countries of the FIBA Asia zone would be given a separate spot that will not take up any of the three spots reserved for the foreign players.

French voters disappointed with candidates, undecided

  • Just a week before the French cast their first votes for the next President, 40% of electorate still not sure about who to vote for. Many undecided voters view this year’s cast of candidates with abject disappointment owing to their volatility and conservative nature.
  • French people view far-right leader Marine Le Pen is too extreme, centrist Emmanuel Macron is too young. Conservative Francois Fillon cannot be trusted, Socialist Benoit Hamon is the establishment, and Communist-backed radical Jean-Luc Melenchon too risky.
  • Nearly 40% of voters who have yet to decide which way they’ll vote — or even if they’ll show up at on election day next Sunday.
  • Voters’ indecision has reinforced the uncertainty of this year's two-round presidential election, in which five candidates — Ms. Le Pen, Mr. Macron, Mr. Melenchon and Mr. Fillon — are neck-and-neck for the first round of voting on April 23.

Gayatri Pullela wins twin crown at Pembangunan Jaya Raya Junior Grand Prix

  • Gayatri Pullela, daughter of National Badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has bagged both the singles and doubles crown at the Pembangunan Jaya Raya Junior Grand Prix in Jakarta. Gayatri eked out a hard-fought 21-11, 18-21, 21-16 win over her doubles partner Samiya Farooqui to win the girls U-15 singles title.
  • She teamed up with Samiya to clinch the U-15 doubles title with a straight game 21-17, 21-15 win over Indonesian pair.
  • Both Gayatri and Samiya train together at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.

IITs to introduce 4% more seats for girl students

  • The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will add more seats to be filled by girl students for four years starting 2018 to increase the representation of women in the prestigious institutions.
  • While there are just eight-per cent women in the IITs right now, the idea is to increase the proportion to 20 per cent and then discontinue the practice of additional seats for women.
  • Four per cent seats will be added each year for the next four years in order to bring the representation of women in the IITs from the present eight per cent to 20per cent. This quota will be filled from among the girl students who have cleared the JEE (Advanced) exam.
  • As of now there are 23 IITs operating in India.

Last known survivor of 19th century dies at 117

  • Emma Morano, an Italian woman believed to have been the oldest person alive and the last survivor of the 19th century, died at the age of 117. Morano, born on November 29, 1899, died at her home in Verbania, in northern Italy.
  • Morano’s death, at the age of 117 years and 137 days, means there is no one living known to have been born before 1900. Morano passed the crown of the world’s oldest human being to Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900.

Nepal braces for ‘traffic jam’ at Mount Everest

  • Nepalese officials are bracing for a “traffic jam” at Mount Everest this season due to a surge in the number of climbers eyeing to conquer the world’s tallest peak.
  • This time, there would be around 400 climbers, who will embark on the journey to scale the 8,848 metre-high Mount Everest from mid-May.
  • As climbers are accompanied by high-altitude workers, whose number is usually more than that of climbers, there could be around 1,000 individuals on their way to the summit, creating a queue whose snail-paced movement will be punctuated by frequent halts.

Policy to promote tourism through rail connectivity

  • The Railways is formulating a policy to promote tourism by connecting tourist spots across the country through trains. The first-of-its-kind exercise by the railways aims at hassle-free and seamless movement of people across tourist places.
  • Since tourist trains have special fares, the Railways can position itself to generate substantial revenue focusing on international and domestic tourists by launching more such services.
  • The Railways will offer luxury tourist trains, semi-luxury tourist trains, Buddhist special train, Bharat darshan trains and Astha circuit trains to attract domestic and international tourists.
  • It will also offer State tirth trains, flexi-package tourist trains, ordinary tourist trains, hill tourist trains, steam tourist trains, value-added tour package and a foreign tourist quota.
  • IRCTC, the tourism arm of the Railways, will position itself as a one-stop shop for all the requirements of both domestic and international tourists.
  • Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways.
  • Union Railway Minister: Suresh Prabhu

Prakash Javadekar to launch RUSA Portal, Mobile App

  • Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), which runs under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, will soon launch its own portal and mobile app.
  • The portal is a one-stop for States’ Higher Education Plans, decision of the States’ Higher Education Councils and details of the resources under this scheme. The mobile application will ensure that all projects under RUSA are tracked 24x7.
  • RUSA is the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of the Department of Higher Education, MHRD which aims to provide strategic central funding to State Higher Education Departments and Institutions and achieve the broad objectives of access, equity and excellence.
  • The State Higher Education Departments and Institutions undertake certain governance, academic and administrative reforms as a pre-requisite to be entitled for RUSA grants. The implementation of RUSA in its right earnest began after May 2014.
  • Union HRD Minister: Prakash Javadekar

Scientists find second Great Spot on Jupiter

  • Scientists have found second Great Spot on Jupiter which is cold and high up. The Great Spot was found to be 24,000 km across and 12,000 km wide. It is found to be in the upper atmosphere and is much cooler than the hot surroundings.
  • The Great Spot was discovered by a British-led team using a telescope in the Southern Observatory in northern Chile.
  • Unlike the Great Red Spot which was identified in 1830, this newly discovered Great Spot is continuously changing its shape and size.
  • The Great Cold Spot is believed to be caused by magnetic forces responsible for Jupiter’s polar auroras. This phenomenon drives energy into the atmosphere and creates a region of cooling in the boundary layer between the underlying atmosphere and the vacuum of space.

Smart glasses that mimic eye's lens

  • Scientists have developed ‘smart glasses’ with liquid-based lenses that flex to refocus on whatever the wearer is viewing. The glasses, developed by researchers at the University of Utah, are designed to mimic the behaviour of the eye’s natural lens — flexing to focus on wherever an individual is looking: near, far or in-between.
  • The central technology of the glasses created by the research team are lenses made of glycerin, a clear thick liquid sandwiched between flexible membranes.
  • The lenses are mounted into frames that have an electromechanical system that causes the membranes to bend to adjust their focus. The ability of the lens to flex and bend allows the single lens to act like multiple lenses.

Turkey referendum: Erdogan appears poised to win

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared on course to score a narrow victory in a referendum designed to assign him sweeping new powers.
  • With 95.73% of the ballots counted, the “yes” vote was narrowly ahead. Results show 51.94% of Turks are in favor of giving Erdogan more power and 48.06% are against.
  • Voters were asked to endorse an 18-article reform package put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party that would replace the current system of parliamentary democracy with a powerful executive presidency.
  • A ‘Yes’ vote would replace Turkey’s parliamentary democracy with an all-powerful presidency and may see Mr. Erdogan in office until at least 2029, in the most radical change to the country's political system in its modern history.
  • The outcome will also shape Turkey’s strained relations with the European Union. Relations between Turkey and Europe hit a low during the referendum campaign when EU countries barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies in support of the changes.