Daily Current Affairs - 15th Nov 2017

Centre gets 141 proposals in round two of UDAN

  • The union government has received 141 initial proposals covering 502 routes under the second round of regional air connectivity scheme UDAN. The government’s UDAN scheme aims to boost air connectivity to and from unserved and under-served airports. The 502 routes seek to connect about 116 airports and helipads, including 49 unserved and 15 under-served airports and 24 helipads.
  • Under the scheme, an operator is entitled to receive viability gap funding if a fixed number of seats on the flight are sold at a fare of up to Rs. 2,500.
  • Under the first round of bidding, the government had approved 27 proposals for 128 routes to connect about 70 airports.

Centre okays Rs 10,000 cr for 107 Maharashtra irrigation projects

  • The Centre has given an in-principle approval of 10,000 crore rupees assistance to 107 irrigation projects in drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of the state.
  • The state will receive the fund over a period of next two years for the projects that will ensure large-scale irrigation facilities in the districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, known for suicides by farmers, besides in North and Western Maharashtra.

China Launches World's First All-Electric Ship

  • China has launched world's first all-electric ship that can travel up to 80 km with 2000-tonnes cargo after a two-hour charge. The 70.5-metre-long ship, which weighs about 600 tonnes, was launched in Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province.
  • As the ship do not use fossil fuels, it has zero emission, including carbon, sulphur and PM2.5 and it could be used as a passenger liner or a working ship.
  • The vessel, manufactured by the Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd, is powered by a 26-tonne lithium battery. It can cruise at the top speed of 12.8 km per hour.

Crisil, Sidbi tie up to launch MSME sentiment index

  • Ratings firm Crisil and MSME lender SIDBI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch CriSidEx, a sentiment Index for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
  • The index will indicate the current state and expected outlook on the MSME sector every quarter.
  • The Sentiment Index is expected to provide crucial insights into employment, business environment and foreign trade.
  • As per the arrangement, the CriSidEx survey will cover over 1,000 MSMEs using a structured questionnaire to ensure consistency in methodology and capture information sans significant deviations.
  • The sample will have representation based on size, geography and nature of business and across different legal entities.
  • CriSidEx will provide intelligence and insights for regulators, trade bodies, lenders as well as economic & financial analysts.
  • Crisil MD and CEO: Ashu Suyash

Hit by GST, exports fall 1.1% in October

  • According to data released by the Commerce Ministry, India’s goods exports shrank by 1.12% in October to $23 billion, the worst performance since declining 6.86% in July 2016. The fall, the first after 14 consecutive months of positive growth, was ascribed by exporters’organisations as being a direct fallout of the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Twelve of the 30 major export groups registered a decline in October, including labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, readymade garments, carpets, handicrafts, manmade yarn/made-ups , and leather items. Also in the red were electronic goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals , mica, coal and other ores, fruits and vegetables, tobacco.
  • Imports rose by 7.6% in October to $37.1 billion. This widened the trade deficit to $14.01 billion, the highest level since $14.08 billion in May 2017.

Inaugural Indian Sports Honours award: Mithali Raj and Ashwin bags the top honors

  • Indian Women's Cricket team skipper Mithali Raj bagged the award for the SportsWoman of the Year as well as the prize for the Team of the Year. As skipper of the Indian Women's team who made it to the final of the 2017 ICC World Cup.
  • Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin won the Best Player in Teamsports award. Ashwin beat the likes of kabaddi player Pardeep Narwal, Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri and Indian hockey star Rupinder Pal Singh, as well as fellow teammates Cheteshwar Pujara and Hardik Pandya to bag the prestigious award.
  • The Indian Sports Honours was launched jointly by Indian skipper Virat Kohli and business tycoon Sanjeev Goenka with the idea of honouring sportsmen and women who brought glory to the nation.

India knocked out of U-19 Asia Cup

  • Defending champion India was knocked out of the Under-19 Asia Cup after suffering its second defeat in three days as the Rahul Dravid-coached side went down to Bangladesh by eight wickets.
  • The Indian team were once again at the receiving end as Bangladesh chased down a modest target of 188 with eight wickets and four overs to spare in a rain-curtailed match.
  • The defeat meant that Bangladesh and Nepal, from Group A, will join Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively, in the semifinals.

India, Russia chopper deal on right track

  • India and Russia are in the final stages of concluding the deal to build Kamov-226T utility helicopters in India. A Russian team is in India to hold discussions on the joint venture that will manufacture the helicopters.
  • India and Russia have concluded an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 200 helicopters estimated to cost over $1 billion.
  • As per the deal, 60 helicopters will be imported from Russia and at least another 140 built in India by the HAL with technology transfer.
  • The India-Russia JV is between the HAL and Russia’s Rostec-JSC Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters.
  • The Kamov-226T helicopters are meant to replace the ageing and obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the Indian armed forces.
  • India and Russia intend to export the Kamov-226T to third countries after meeting the domestic requirement.

Japan to relax visa regime for Indians from January 1

  • Japan will simplify its visa rules from January 1 next year for Indians and issue multiple-entry-visa for short-term stay, a move which is expected to benefit tourists and business persons as well as repeat visitors.
  • Under the simplification of visa application documents, the applicant's employment certificate and explanation letter stating the reason will be exempted in cases of applying for multiple-entry-visa. The changes will also have expansion of scope of eligible applicants.
  • Multiple entry visas with a validity of 5 years maximum and stay of 90 days maximum will be issued to applicants who have travel records to Japan twice or more in the last one year.

NIOT to build India’s first offshore desalination plant near Chennai coast

  • National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will build the country's first offshore desalination plant about 40km from the Chennai coast with a capacity of about 10 million litres of water per day.
  • The plant will operate on the indigenously developed low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD), a lowcost and environment friendly technology to get potable water. The technology is based on the temperature difference in seawater at different depths.
  • A detailed project report for the plant, which is estimated to cost Rs 2,000 crore, has been submitted to the Centre for approval and the plant will come up off the shores of Ennore.
  • At present, Chennai has two desal plants each in Nemmili and Minjur with a combined capacity of 210 MLD and two more are planned with a total capacity of 550 MLD.
  • National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) , Director: Satheesh C Shenoi

Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal retires from all cricket

  • Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, two years after losing his wicket-taking bite with a remodelled bowling action that was twice deemed illegal.
  • During a successful but controversial career, Ajmal was once celebrated as the world's number one bowler in one-day internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 cricket, and was almost as successful in Tests.
  • Ajmal took 178 wickets in 35 Tests, finished with 184 wickets in 113 ODIs, and 85 in 64 Twenty20 internationals.

SC seeks centre's response on plea to regulate Bitcoin

  • A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud issued notice to the ministries of Finance, Law and Justice, market regulator SEBI and the RBI, on the plea which also sought setting up of a panel to frame a mechanism to regulate the flow of Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin is a digital currency that allows people to buy goods and services and exchange money without involving banks, credit card issuers or other third parties.
  • It was introduced in 2008 by an unidentified group of programmers as a crypto currency as well as an electronic payment system. It is reportedly the first decentralized digital currency where peer-to-peer transactions take place without any intermediary.
  • The prevailing rate of exchange of one Bitcoin in India is almost ?4.3 lakh, as per information available on the internet today.

Sebastian Vettel wins Brazilian Grand Prix

  • Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian Grand Prix while Lewis Hamilton fought from the back of the field to finish fourth for champions Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas, who had started on pole position for Mercedes finished second. Fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen held off Hamilton to take third for Ferrari.

Slovenia’s President Wins Second Term in Runoff Election

  • Slovenia’s incumbent President Borut Pahor was re-elected to a second term after winning a runoff election against a former comedian Marjan Sarec who currently serves as the mayor of a northern town.
  • Pahor, 54, a veteran politician has won 53 percent of the vote to challenger Marjan Sarec’s 47 percent.
  • Pahor is only the second Slovenian president to win a second term in office since the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
  • Slovenia is a country of 2 million people in Central Europe known for its Alpine mountains and lakes.
  • Capital: Ljubljana
  • Currency: Euro

Vijay Prasad Dimri appointed president of 36th International Geological Congress

  • Scientist Vijay Prasad Dimri has been appointed as the president of the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC), a global platform for advancement of earth science, to be held here in 2020.
  • India, along with its co-host neighbouring countries -- Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan -- won the bid to host the 36th IGC in the National Capital Region from March 2 -8, 2020.
  • India had earlier organized the 22nd session of IGC at New Delhi in 1964.
  • International Geological Congress: Founded as a non-profit scientific and educational organisation in 1878, the IGC came under the aegis of International Union of Geological Sciences in 1961.
  • The first session of IGC assembled in 1878 in France with an aim of providing the global geological community with an opportunity to create an organizational framework for meeting at regular intervals.

West Bengal gets GI Tag for ‘Rosogolla’

  • West Bengal’s bitter struggle with Odisha ended on a sweet note with the State getting GI (Geographical Indication) tag for rosogolla. The sweet, dipped in sugary syrup, which is a favourite across the country, has for long been at the centre of a bitter tussle between the two States, with each claiming it as their invention.
  • The GI authorities said that rosogolla originated in West Bengal.
  • While Bengal claimed that the delicacy was invented in Kolkata by confectioner Nobin Chandra Das in the 1860s, Odisha government said it was invented in Puri in the 13th century.
  • Of the 267 odd products that have received GI tags so far, around 12 are from Bengal, which includes Darjeeling tea, Santiniketan leather goods, mango varieties such as Laxman Bhog, himsagar and fazli, Santipore saree, Baluchari saree, Dhaniakhali saree, Joynagarer moa and the more recent entrants —Bardhman Sitabhog and Bardhman Mihidana (both sweets).
  • The GI tag was primarily developed with the purpose of recognizing the unique identity connecting different products and places.
  • For a product to get GI tag, it has to have a unique quality, reputation or characteristic which is attributable to its geographic origin.

Wholesale Price Index rises to six month high of 3.59 % in October

  • Wholesale inflation rose to a 6-month high of 3.59 per cent in October this year, as prices of food articles, led by onions and vegetables, climbed. Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index had stood at 2.6 per cent in September this year, and 1.27 percent in October last year.
  • Inflation in food articles more than doubled, to 4.3 per cent in October. Wholesale inflation in vegetables jumped to 36.61 per cent in October, from 15.48 per cent in September. Inflation in onions surged to 127 percent.
  • But pulses continued to see deflation, or a fall in prices, of minus 31.05 per cent.