Daily Current Affairs - 02nd May 2017

21 middle-level officials get new portfolios

  • In a bureaucratic reshuffle at the middle level, the Modi administration has appointed 21 officers of the rank of joint secretary in various Ministries and departments. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared the appointments and, subsequently, orders were issued by the Personnel Department.
  • A prominent posting is that of the Gujarat-cadre IAS officer K. Srinivas, who has been appointed Joint Secretary in the Department of Personnel and Training.
  • Jatindra Nath Swain and K. Rajaraman, both of the Tamil Nadu cadre, have been appointed Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Department of Expenditure, respectively. The list also includes Anil Srivastava, who has been posted as Adviser to NITI Aayog, Upma Srivastav as Joint Secretary, Civil Aviation Ministry, P.K. Borthaumar as Joint Secretary, Agriculture.
  • Of the 21 appointed joint secretaries, only nine are from the Indian Administrative Service, while the remaining are from other services, which are getting prominence under the current government that has been posting non-IAS officials in key departments.

3D-printed cartilage may help treat osteoarthritis

  • Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, have successfully generated cartilage tissue using a 3D bioprinter, an advance that could lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis. The advance represents a giant step forward in the ability to generate new, endogenous cartilage tissue.
  • In future, it should be possible to use 3D bioprinting to generate cartilage based on a patient’s own, backed-up stem cells.
  • This bioprinted tissue can be used to repair cartilage damage, or to treat osteoarthritis, in which joint cartilage degenerates and breaks down.
  • The team used cartilage cells harvested from patients who underwent knee surgery, and these cells were then manipulated in a laboratory, causing them to rejuvenate and revert into pluripotent stem cells — cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells.

Aizawl FC become First Northeastern Club to Win I-League

  • Aizawl FC has won its maiden I-League title against Shillong Lajong in their final game of the league season to become the first ever club from the northeast to win the I-League title. This was the 10th edition of the I-League held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong.
  • The Hero I-League is an Indian professional league for men’s association football clubs. The I-League was formed in 2007 as the ONGC I-League with an aim to professionalize the game of football in India. It is a successor of the National Football League and is considered as the primary competition in the field of Indian football.

Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu selected for USIBC Award

  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has been selected for the ‘Transformative Chief Minister Award’ in recognition for his role in advancing the US-India partnership at the state level.The award by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) would be presented to Naidu during the USIBC West Coast Summit in the Silicon Valley on May 8.
  • In addition, the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT Aruna Sundararajan will also be honoured with the ‘Transformative Leadership Award’ for excellence in public service and for her role in advancing US-India cooperation and Digital India.
  • Last year’s recipient for this award was Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog.
  • USIBC was established in 1975 as a business advocacy organization for encouraging the private sectors in the US and India to enhance investments. It acts a direct link between business and government leaders to enhance the trade and investment ties between the two nations.

ASEAN wants stronger ties with China

  • The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Manila summit has focussed on a regional trade pact and shoring up economies of some of the lesser developed countries in the grouping.
  • The document welcomed the operationalisation of the Guidelines for Hotline Communications among senior officials of the ministries of foreign affairs of ASEAN countries and China in response to maritime emergencies.
  • The leaders focused on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, pointing out that the giant free trade pact will boost global trade.
  • The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN and six other states — Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
  • The document highlighted a commitment to assist Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to enable them to bolster regional integration.
  • The ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

BharatMatrimony revives IPO plans, to go public in Q2

  • India’s biggest online matchmaker BharatMatrimony has revived its IPO plans and is most likely to be listed in the second quarter of the current fiscal.The recently-launched matrimony photography business is expected to boost revenue.
  • The Chennai-based firm was to have been listed on the Indian bourses last December but the initial public offering was postponed due to certain unforeseen circumstances.
  • According to the sources, the matrimony photography is a $3-billion opportunity in India.
  • Chief Executive Officer and Founder: Murugavel Janakiraman.

Blood group may predict heart attack risk: study

  • People having a non-O blood group such as A, B or AB may be at an increased risk of a heart attack, a new research has found. Non-O groups carry more of a blood-clotting protein.
  • Having a non-O blood group is associated with a 9% increased risk of coronary events and a 9% increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction (heart attack).
  • Researchers found that the odds ratio (OR) for all coronary events was significantly higher in carriers of a non-O blood group.
  • The analysis of fatal coronary events did not show a significant difference between people with O and non-O blood groups.
  • The higher risk for cardiovascular events in non-O blood group carriers may be due to having greater concentrations of von Willebrand factor — a blood clotting protein. Non-O blood group carriers, specifically those with an A blood group, are known to have higher cholesterol.
  • Galectin-3 protein, which is linked to inflammation and worse outcomes in heart failure patients, is also higher in those with a non-O blood group

Centre allows beacon use for emergencies

  • The Union government issued a notification allowing officials on emergency and disaster management-related duties to use beacons on top of their vehicles. The notification allows use of multi-coloured — red, blue and white light — beacons on top of official vehicles related to control of fire, police duty, defence forces or paramilitary forces for maintenance of law and order.
  • Officials on disaster management duties related to “natural disasters, including earthquake, flood, land slide, cyclone, tsunami, and man-made disasters such as nuclear disaster, chemical disaster and biological disaster” can use vehicles with multi-coloured beacons.
  • The Transport Department of each State will need to issue a notice enlisting the list of authorities to whom the permission to use vehicles with multi-coloured lights.

Core industries output grows 5% in March

  • As per government data, the eight core industries grew by 5% in March, the fastest in three months, on the back of higher coal and steel production. The growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity — was, however, lower than 9.3% recorded in March 2016.
  • Coal production increased 10% in March as against 2.5% in the previous year. Steel (alloy and non-alloy) production rose 11% while it had expanded by 7.8% in March 2016.
  • Electricity generation was up by 5.9%. Crude oil and natural gas production was 0.9% and 8.3%. Meanwhile, cement production declined 6.8% as also fertilizer output (-0.8%). There was also a decline in production of refinery products (-0.3%)
  • The core industries, which contribute 38% to the total industrial production, had expanded by 1% in February and 3.4% in January.
  • Infrastructure industries grew 4.5% in FY17, up from 4% in the previous fiscal.

Domestic sales of auto majors zoom

  • Automobile majors Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Toyota and Honda began the new fiscal on a strong note, posting high double-digit growth in their domestic passenger vehicle sales in April.
  • Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) posted a 19.5% jump in total sales to 1,51,215 units in April, against 1,26,569 units in the same month last year as sales of its compact and sports utility vehicles rose.
  • Its domestic sales rose 23.4% during the month to 1,44,492 units compared to 1,17,045 units in April 2016.
  • Tata Motors reported a 23% growth in sales of its passenger vehicles in the domestic market at 12,827 units last month.
  • Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) reported a 38.1% increase in domestic sales at 14,480 units in April. It had sold 10,486 units in the same period last year.
  • Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) reported a 3.57% increase in total sales at 56,368 units in April this year, driven by an increasing demand for its sedans. The company had sold 54,420 units in April 2016
  • Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) reported a 47.85% jump in total sales at 14,057 units in April, driven by its newly unveiled SUV Fortuner.
  • Japanese automobile major Nissan said its sales rose 39.26% to 4,217 units in April.

Dubai becomes First City in World to gets its Own Microsoft Font

  • Dubai has become the first city in the world to have its own Microsoft-designed font. The font will have typeface both in Latin and Arabic script. The font will be used by UAE’s government bodies and also by 100 million Office 365 users around the world.
  • UAE has launched the ‘Dubai Font’ in line with its vision of becoming a regional and global leader in innovation. The country views the launch as a part of its continuous efforts to be ranked first in the digital world.
  • The country expects the new font and its unique specifications to become popular online and in smart technologies across the world.

Employment under PMEGP falls 9.5%

  • According to industry body Assocham, job opportunities under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) fell over 9.5% year-on-year to 3.2 lakh in FY16 from more than 3.5 lakh in FY15. The number of projects set up under the PMEGP also reduced from over 48,100 in FY15 to about 44,300.
  • Uttar Pradesh topped with over 43,000 jobs generated under the PMEGP in FY16.
  • PMEGP is an effective scheme aimed at reducing unemployment and generating sustainable employment opportunities in rural and urban India.

Excess liquidity prompts banks to cut deposit rates

  • Public sector lenders like State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Baroda have reduced interest on fixed deposits on various maturities from the end of April as the banking system is flush with liquidity.
  • SBI, the country’s largest lender, reduced the retail term deposit rate by 25-50 basis points (bps) on various maturities. For deposits maturing from two years to less than three years, SBI customers will earn 6.25% as compared with 6.75% earlier. For three years to 10-year deposits, the interest rate will be 6.25% as compared with 6.5%.
  • Bank of Baroda, reduced the deposit rate by 10-25 bps on various maturities. The one-year deposit rate will now be 6.9% as compared with 7% earlier.
  • Because of the presence of abundant liquidity in the system, which has prompted banks to cut the rates.
  • According to Reserve Bank of India, the surplus liquidity in the banking system was Rs. 4.8 lakh crore in March, though it has come down from its peak of Rs. 8 lakh crore in January.

Former Britain PM Blair announces return to politics

  • Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was plunging back into domestic politics in order to fight against Brexit. Mr. Blair, who led the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007, will not be standing in the June 8 general election.
  • He wanted to build a political movement to shape the policy debate as Britain starts its negotiations to leave the European Union.

IIT scientists create low-cost solar cells using Jamun

  • Scientists at IIT Roorkee have used the juicy Indian summer fruit Jamun to create inexpensive and more efficient solar cells. They used naturally occurring pigment found in jamun as an inexpensive photosensitiser for Dye Sensitised Solar Cells (DSSCs) or Gratzel cells.
  • Gratzel cells are thin film solar cells composed of a porous layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) coated photo anode, a layer of dye molecules that absorbs sunlight, an electrolyte for regenerating the dye, and a cathode.
  • These components form a sandwich-like structure with the dye molecule or photosensitizer playing a pivotal role through its ability to absorb visible light.
  • Researchers extracted dyes from jamun using ethanol. They also used fresh plums and black currant, along with mixed berry juices which contain pigments that give characteristic colour to jamun.

India third in ICC ODI rankings

  • India gained five points to move up to third place with South Africa maintaining its top position in the latest ICC ODI team rankings. Australia remained second while India has swapped places with New Zealand. India has 117 points and New Zealand 115.
  • The latest ICC ODI rankings: 1. South Africa 123 (+4); 2. Australia 118; 3. India 117 (+5); 4. New Zealand 115 (+2); 5. England 109 (+1). 6. Sri Lanka 93 (-5); 7. Bangladesh 91 (-1); 8. Pakistan 88 (-2); 9. West Indies 79 (-4); 10. Afghanistan 52; 11. Zimbabwe 46 (-2); 12. Ireland 43 (+1).

NITI Aayog for abolishing 2% duty on mobile phone circuits

  • Mobile phones could become cheaper if the government accepts a proposal by the NITI Aayog to drop the 2% import duty imposed on a critical component for handsets in the Union Budget for 2017-18. The Aayog, in its draft three-year action plan, has said the duty will hurt mobile phone makers in the country and the government must ensure that industries are not built behind a wall of protection.
  • The Budget had imposed a 2% special additional duty on imports of populated printed circuit boards (PCBs) used for mobile phones, to push the Make in India campaign. The duty is aimed at providing adequate protection to domestic industry.
  • According to NITI Aayog, India has the potential to become a large electronics manufacturer and exporter due to its large labour force, a growing domestic market and proximity to other economies on the electronics value chain.
  • The mobile sector accounted for just 3% of India’s merchandise exports in 2015. As the world market in electronics products is $2 trillion compared with only $65 billion in the domestic market.

Pakistan extends Hafiz Saeed’s detention

  • Pakistani government has extended the detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed and his close aides for three more months. Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, has been under house arrest since January 30. The JuD and its charity arm, Falah-i-Insaaniyat, had also been put on a terrorist watch list.
  • The crackdown on the militant leader came in late January after Pakistani newspapers reported that the U.S. had threatened to impose sanctions on the country if it did not ban the JuD.

Pujara, Harmanpreet Kaur nominated for Arjuna Award

  • The BCCI has nominated prolific run scorer Cheteshwar Pujara for the prestigious Arjuna award, acknowledging his stupendous show during the last Test season for India.
  • Along with Pujara, Indian women’s cricket team member Harmanpreet Kaur has also been nominated by the Board for the award.

Robotic drill does faster skull surgery

  • A new computer-driven robotic drill that can make a type of complex cranial surgery 50 times faster than standard procedures has been developed by scientists. The automated drill, similar to those used in machine auto parts, produces fast, clean and safe cuts, reducing the time the wound is open and the patient is anaesthetised. As this can decrease the incidence of infection, human error, and surgical cost.
  • To perform complex surgeries, especially cranial surgeries, surgeons use hand drills to make intricate openings, adding hours to a procedure.
  • The automated drill reduces the time for bone removal from two hours using a hand drill to 2.5 minutes.

Sardar recommended for Khel Ratna

  • Hockey India (HI) has recommended former National captain Sardar Singh for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting honour. He was the youngest player to captain India when he led the side at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. He has also received the Arjuna Award in 2012 and Padma Shri in 2015.

SpaceX makes first U.S. military launch

  • SpaceX, the U. S.based aerospace company headed by billionaire tycoon Elon Musk, launched a secretive U.S. government satellite, known only as NROL-76, marking the first military launch for the company.
  • The payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which makes and operates spy satellites for the United States, soared into the sky atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Mr. Musk is leading an effort in the rocket industry to re-use costly parts.
  • SpaceX has already made multiple successful landings — some on land and others on floating ocean platforms, known as drone ships.
  • Elon Musk is also the founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors.

Turkey supports India’s UNSC bid

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, even as he called for a major reforms in the exclusive body. He criticized the current structure of the Council as arbitrary and suggested a thorough restructuring to address the current geo-political reality of the world.
  • Only five permanent members (the US, Russia, France, China and the UK) have veto power in the UNSC. The non- permanent members' vote does not count.

US urges Macedonia to end political crisis, form new govt

  • The United States has urged Macedonian leaders to end a political stalemate and allow the parliamentary majority made up of Social Democrats and parties representing ethnic Albanians to form a new government.
  • Nearly five months after a December 11 parliamentary election, Macedonian nationalists were unhappy about the inclusion of ethnic Albanians and are blocking the formation of a new government.
  • More than 100 people were injured last week in clashes inside and outside parliament over the election of an ethnic Albanian as speaker of the assembly.
  • Many of Macedonia’s political issues stem from the conflict within the country’s biggest ethnic groups. About two-thirds of the country identify as Macedonians, or ethnic Slavs, and are largely Orthodox. About a fourth of the population identifies as Albanian, who are almost all Muslim.
  • Capital:Skopje
  • Currency: Macedonian denar