Daily Current Affairs - 28th Dec 2017

Anushka Sharma named PETA’s Person of the Year 2017

  • Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma has been named the PETA 2017 Person of the Year for her wide-reaching work for animals. Anushka bagged the title for contributing her efforts towards protecting dogs from fireworks and advocating for horses who are forced to pull carriages in Mumbai.
  • Past recipients of PETA's Person of the Year Award include politician Dr Shashi Tharoor, former Supreme Court Judge K S Radhakrishnan Panicker and actors Kapil Sharma, Hema Malini, R Madhavan, and Jacqueline Fernandez.
  • PETA means People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Atal Innovation Mission selects additional 1500 schools for Atal Tinkering Labs

  • NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), the government's flagship programme to promote innovation and entrepreneurship nationwide in schools, universities and industry, has selected additional 1500 Schools for the establishment of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs).
  • AIM, has selected 2441 Schools across India to establish ATLs to date since it began its operations over a year ago.
  • ATLs are innovation play workspaces for students between Grade VI to Grade XII, stimulating innovations combining science & technology. These open-ended innovation workspaces equipped with state of the art technologies like 3D printers, Robotics, Sensor Technology Kits, Internet of Things, miniaturised Electronics etc enable the students to learn and solve local community problems using emerging Technologies.
  • Students are encouraged to explore and experience Design Thinking and Innovation, using a do-it-yourself approach, and develop innovative solutions to India’s social, community or economic problems.

Centre to borrow more; fiscal deficit may widen

  • The Centre has decided to borrow an additional Rs. 50,000 crore in the last three months of this financial year, a move that some economists said could result in the government missing its budgeted fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP.
  • It plans to raise additional Rs. 50,000 cr. via bond sales in the fourth quarter, by trimming T-Bills (treasury bills) from Rs. 86,203 crore to Rs. 25,006 crore.
  • In the Union Budget, the government had factored gross and net market borrowing at Rs. 5,80,000 crore and Rs. 4,23,226 crore respectively, with Rs. 3,48,226 crore proposed to be raised (net) from bonds and Rs. 2,002 crore from T-bills.

Global firms prefer Indian techies despite US visa issues: Nasscom President

  • IT industry apex body Nasscom President R. Chandrashekhar said that despite rising visa barriers, global firms prefer to hire Indian techies in the US due to shortage of skills in North America. As the global firms continue to find India suitable for talent and skilled workers in the US.
  • H-1B visa programme is popular among the Indian IT industry workforce. India accounts for nearly 70 percent of all the H-1B workers. The recent tax changes have also made it more expensive to offshore the work from US.

Indian Air Force Conquers 'Seven Summits'

  • A team comprising five IAF mountaineers, led by Gp Capt RC Tripathi, in the early hours of 26 Dec 17, has successfully scaled Mt Vinson in Antarctica, thus completing the assigned 'Mission Seven Summits' with an aim to fly the tricolour and the IAF flag on the highest peaks in every continent. The IAF become the first organisation in India to achieve this unique feat.
  • IAF has promoted adventure activities among its personnel. In 2011, a women's expedition scaled Mt Everest successfully and in 2017 a joint IAF-BSF women camel expedition covered 1386 Km distance along western border in 47 days.
  • Air Chief Marshal: BS Dhanoa

Indian Science Congress to be held in March in Manipur

  • The 2018-edition of the historic Indian Science Congress (ISC) will be held at the Manipur University, Imphal, in March. The ISC was scheduled at the Osmana University (OU), Hyderabad, in the first week of January but had to be moved out due to security problems.
  • This was the first time the 106-year-old ISC, the largest congregation of scientists in India had to be postponed at the last minute. The congress sees several students, Nobel Laureates and scientists from India’s science academies in attendance.

Innings win for South Africa

  • South Africa defeated Zimbabwe by an innings and 120 runs on the second day of the one-off day-night Test. Zimbabwe, following on after being bowled out for 68, could only manage 121 in its second innings. Keshav Maharaj picked up five for 59 in Zimbabwe’s second innings. Earlier, Morne Morkel was the main destroyer in Zimbabwe’s first innings, taking five for 21.

IPS officer Abhay appointed Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of senior IPS officer Abhay as Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) till November 18, 2019. The order has been issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
  • He is at present working in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Jairam Thakur sworn CM of Himachal

  • Jairam Thakur, a five-time Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Governor Acharya Dev Vrat administered the oath of office to Mr. Thakur and his ministerial team of 11.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, senior party leaders such as L.K. Advani, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and others and the Chief Ministers of many BJP-ruled States were present.

Parliament nod for cess hike on luxury cars

  • The Lok Sabha approved a bill to hike cess on luxury vehicles from 15% to 25% with a view to enhance funds to compensate States for revenue loss following the rollout of GST. The GST (Compensation to States) Amendment Bill, 2017, was passed by the Lower House.
  • The Bill seeks to replace the Ordinance which was promulgated in September to give effect to the decision of the GST Council. The Ordinance provided for a hike in the GST cess on a range of cars to 25%.

Paytm becomes India's first payments app to cross 100 mn downloads on Play Store

  • India's largest mobile-first financial services platform, Paytm announced that its app has crossed the 100 million milestone on Google Play Store in the second week of December 2017. This makes Paytm the country's first payments app to cross the 100 million downloads mark. Paytm is also into becoming a mobile-first financial services company, which offers banking, lending, insurance, and payments.
  • Paytm has become the most preferred payments app in the country today, allowing users to scan its QR and pay at large merchants, grocery and kirana stores, milk-booths, local taxi/autos fares, petrol pumps, multiplexes, restaurants and more.
  • Paytm Founder: Vijay Shekhar Sharma

President inaugurates Indian Economic Association summit in Andhra Pradesh

  • President Ramnath Kovind has inaugurated the 100th Annual Conference of the Indian Economic Association at Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur of Andhra Pradesh. The event will be held for four days.
  • Indian Economic Association is a registered body of Indian economic professionals, established way back in 1917, with the objective of providing a forum for debate and discussion of policy-oriented issues. The Association currently has 5000 plus members, both individual and institutional.

Russia launches telecoms satellite for Angola

  • Russia launched a rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, from its Baikonur space pad. The Angosat project was agreed by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes the satellite, its launch, and on-ground infrastructure in a suburb of the capital Luanda.
  • The approximately $280-million project has been financed with a credit from Russia's state banks. The satellite is designed for a 15-year mission to boost satellite communications, Internet access, radio and TV service.

SBI gets board nod to raise Rs. 8,000 crore

  • Country’s largest lender SBI said its board had approved raising Rs. 8,000 crore through various sources, including masala bonds, to meet Basel III capital norms. State Bank of India (SBI) said it had time till March 2018 to raise the funds.
  • Banks in India have to comply with the global capital norms under Basel III by March 2019, three months later than the internationally-agreed time frame, by January 2019.
  • Masala bonds are rupee-denominated specialized debt instruments that can be floated in overseas markets only to raise capital.
  • SBI Head: Rajnish Kumar

Small savings interest rate cut by 20 bps

  • The Union government has slashed interest rates on small savings schemes, including National Savings Certificate(NSC) and Public Provident Fund (PPF), by 0.2 percentage point for the January-March period from the rates applicable in the previous quarter, a move that will prompt banks to lower deposit rates.
  • At the same time, investments in the five-year Senior Citizens Savings Scheme has been retained at 8.3%. The interest rate on the senior citizens’ scheme is paid quarterly.
  • The finance ministry also retained the savings deposit rate at 4%.

The creator of Bugs Bunny, Bob Givens, passes away at 99

  • Bob Givens, the animator famous for bringing Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd to life has died at the age of 99.
  • During his illustrious career spanning over 60 years, Bob Givens joined hands with companies like Disney, Warner Bros and Hanna-Barbera as an exceptional animator. Givens also sketched cartoon favourites such as Tom & Jerry, Daffy Duck, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Popeye.
  • Givens started his career in 1937 at Disney where he used to draw Donald Duck and Snow White cartoons. He then joined Warner Bros in 1940 and eventually became world famous for his brilliant work on the Bugs Bunny character.
  • He also brought his skills to TV advertising, animating cartoon insects for Raid bug-killer commercials.

UNESCO recognizes Panama's hats

  • Cultural authorities at UNESCO have recognized the artisans of Panama for their distinctive woven hats. Pintao, or painted hat, handmade from five different plants and a dose of swamp mud.
  • Production of the circular-brimmed hats is still a family affair carried out on a household scale. Each artisan in his own home makes the hats maintaining the techniques taught by his ancestors. Authorities estimate that 4,000 of La Pintada’s 25,000 residents work creating or selling the hats.
  • The other widely known “Panama hat” is a brimmed hat traditionally made in Ecuador from the straw of the South American toquilla palm plant. The hats are thought to have earned their misleading name because many were sold in nearby Panama to prospectors traveling through that country to California.

United Nations cuts budget by $286 million

  • The United Nations has approved a $286 million cut in its annual budget for the next year, a 5% ‘historic reduction in spending’ that the US said it had negotiated. The General Assembly had approved the regular budget of $5.397 billion for 2018-2019.
  • The amount sets the budget level around $286 million (or 5%) below the final approved level for 2016- 2017, and $193 million below the initially proposed budget level for 2018-2019.
  • Taking credit for the budget cut, US’s Indian-origin ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that she negotiated a reduction of over $285 million off the 2016-2017 final budget.

Veteran sports administrator Ashok Mattoo no more

  • Veteran sports administrator Ashok Kumar Mattoo, who headed the national boxing and hockey federations at different times, passed away. Mattoo also served as the first President of Hockey India, when it came into existence in 2009.
  • Highly respected in the Indian sports fraternity, Mattoo served as IABF president for 16 years, the first stint being 1980 to 1989.
  • Mattoo was also the Treasurer of the IOA at that time and served in the same position in the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

World Bank to provide $318 mn loan for Tamil Nadu irrigation projects

  • The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), part of World Bank, will provide a $318 million loan for the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation Project to promote climate resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers.
  • About 500,000 farmers, of which a majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernised tank irrigation systems.
  • The project will rehabilitate and modernise about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems. The loan has a five year grace period and a maturity of 19 years.