Daily Current Affairs - 20th Oct 2017

6,000 new distributors to boost LPG's rural reach

  • In an effort to extend the reach of cooking gas in rural areas, state-run oil marketing companies Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) are set to appoint 6,000 distributors through an online selection process by December.
  • This could see an investment of Rs 2,000 crore.

Assam govt rolls out new Tourism policy

  • Assam government rolled an ambitious Tourism policy by declaring the sector an industry with an aim to increase tourist inflow by at least two to three times within next five years.
  • The 'Tourism Policy of Assam 2017', effective from January next year till December 2022, gives special emphasis on making the state a destination of film making by offering a range of incentives to movie producers.
  • Cash grant of 25 per cent or Rs 1 crore, whichever is less, of expenditure in Assam will be offered as reimbursement to Hindi, English and foreign language cinema makers, who have produced a minimum of five feature films.
  • The Tourism policy also offered a range of financial benefits for constructing approach roads and installing renewable source of energy at the tourist units.

CBDT launches online chat to answer taxpayers' queries

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has launched an online chat service for income taxpayers to enable them to seek answers to their queries relating to direct tax issues.
  • A team of experts from the department and independent tax practitioners has been deputed to answer the general queries of a taxpayer. The first-time initiative is aimed to enhance taxpayer services in the country
  • Last year, the I-T department had set up a new dedicated directorate within its establishment to monitor and resolve grievances of tax payers.

Credit growth picks up to 14.6 % to September

  • Driven by commercial papers,as outstanding credit in the system till the end of September clipped at 14.6 per cent to Rs 80.09 lakh crore, against 13.6 per cent a year ago, according to Reserve Bank and Sebi data.
  • But this growth is not led by bank credit but by commercial papers.
  • Commercial paper is an unsecured, short-term debt instrument issued by a corporation, typically for the financing of accounts receivable, inventories and meeting short-term liabilities. Maturities on commercial paper rarely range any longer than 270 days.

Denmark Open badminton tournament at Odense

  • In the Denmark Open badminton tournament at Odense, ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal knocked out Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain in the opening round of women's singles competition.
  • In the men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy also made positive start to the tournament.
  • But PV Sindhu has made a shocking first round exit ,she lost to Chinese Chen Yufei.

EPFO launched an online facility to link their Aadhaar number with UAN

  • The Employees Provident Fund Organization, EPFO, has launched an online facility for its subscribers to link their Aadhaar number with their Universal Account Number, UAN. This will facilitate the members for a better and speedy EPFO services.
  • While using the facility, the member will have to provide his/her UAN. An OTP will be sent on his/her mobile linked with UAN. After OTP verification, members will have to provide their Aadhaar number.
  • EPFO has also introduced a new composite form called Form 11, which will replace Form 13 in all cases of auto transfer.

Faster, better passenger train connectivity between India and Bangladesh from November

  • Beginning November 3, the journey time on Maitree Express between Dhaka and Kolkata will be reduced from nine to six hours, with the doing away of two-phased immigration checks at the Indian border of Gede and the Bangladeshi border of Darshana.
  • The Railways has already announced plans to make Maitree Express fully air-conditioned.
  • India and Bangladesh will also start a second passenger train service between Kolkata and Khulna beginning November 16. The service was operational till 1965.
  • Unlike the Maitree Express that enters Bangladesh through the Gede-Darshana border, the Khulna-Kolkata service will run through the Petrapole-Benapole border. The rail-link, opened by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2001, remained grossly underutilised so far.

Google honours astrophysicist Chandrasekhar with Doodle

  • Google dedicated a special Doodle to mark the 107th birth anniversary of India-born US scientist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who became the first astrophysicist to win the Nobel Prize for his treatise on the evolution of stars, along with Willaim A Fowler, in 1983.
  • Chandrasekhar also contributed to the study of the theory of colliding gravitational waves. Later NASA honoured him by naming its top X-ray observatory as the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Govt imposes more gold import curbs on star houses to check round-tripping

  • In a move aimed at curing round-tripping, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) further tightened the norms for import of gold by four-star and five-star export houses with Nominated Agency Certificate and doing big business in the yellow metal.
  • DGFT effectively barred these export houses from importing for domestic consumption.
  • Now, only those export houses will be permitted to import gold which are bringing them as input for the manufacture and export by themselves during the remaining validity of their Nominated Agency certificate.

IISc & IIT Bombay among world’s top 200 for engineering

  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore and IIT Bombay are among the world’s top 200 institutions for engineering and computer science, the Times Higher Education subject-wise rankings have found.
  • While IISc occupied the 89th spot, IIT Bombay was pegged in the 126- 150 category, globally. IITs in Delhi, Kanpur and Kharagpur were placed in the 201-250 band, in that order, and IIT Madras and IIT Roorkee in the 251 – 300 category.

India among five countries responsible for 50% newborn deaths

  • India is among the five countries Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia being the others -- responsible for half of all new-born deaths in the world, according to a UN report.
  • The report, "Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017", revealed that 5.6 million children died before reaching the age of five in 2016.
  • While India was accountable for 24 per cent of these new-born deaths, Pakistan accounted for 10 per cent, Nigeria 9 per cent, the Democratic Republic of Congo 4 per cent and 3 per cent of the deaths occurred in Ethiopia.
  • Pneumonia and diarrhoea caused 16 per cent and 8 per cent of deaths respectively among children under five globally. Thirty per cent of newborns succumbed to preterm birth complications and complications during labour or child birth last year.

NASA's MAVEN mission finds mars has a twisted tail

  • Mars has an invisible magnetic "tail" that is twisted by interaction with the solar wind, according data from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.
  • NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft is in orbit around Mars gathering data on how the Red Planet lost much of its atmosphere and water, transforming from a world that could have supported life billions of years ago into a cold and inhospitable place today.

Nasscom to set up centres of excellence on AI

  • Software industry lobby Nasscom is setting up centres of excellence on artificial intelligence (AI) and data sciences, for a better understanding on the emerging technologies.
  • Nasscom setting up a centre of excellence on AI and data sciences in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
  • They will look at mapping the resources available in the country, promoting start-ups in that area and also best practices globally, including regulatory aspects

New norms may require British varsities to guarantee free speech

  • British universities will be required to “guarantee” free speech or face fines and potential deregistration in a controversial move by the Theresa May government.
  • The move has divided the nation’s academic community, with some fearful that the new rules would simply enable the airing of far-right voices that have gained momentum in the past couple of years.

Sawfish more threatened than tigers:scientists

  • The sawfish, included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 enacted to save them from exploitation, have been sighted off the Indian coast less than 10 times in over a decade and they appear to be more threatened than tigers and elephants .
  • There are only five species of the sawfish ever identified dwarf sawfish, knifetooth sawfish, smalltooth sawfish, largetooth sawfish and green sawfish.

South Africa displace India from top of ODI rankings

  • India lost their numero uno status in ICC ODI rankings to South Africa.
  • While India and South Africa have identical 120 points against their name, India are placed second on the basis of decimal points.
  • India had claimed the top spot in the ICC rankings following their 4-1 win over Australia at home recently.

Tri Services Joint Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces, INDRA-2017

  • The first-ever Tri Services Joint Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces, INDRA-2017 began near Vladivostok in Russia.
  • Two indigenously built Indian Naval ships INS Satpura and INS Kadmatt reached Vladivostok Port .
  • The Indian contingent for the Exercise is led by the Task Force Commander Major General ND Prasad.
  • The Exercise INDRA in its previous nine editions has been conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries. This year the Exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three Services Army, Navy and Air Force