Daily Current Affairs - 01st Jan 2018

Arunachal Pradesh declared Open Defecation Free

  • Arunachal Pradesh has emerged as the second state in the Northeast, after Sikkim, to be declared Open Defecation Free. Arunachal Pradesh has managed to do this before the deadline of October 2, 2019. The state government had cut short the national ODF target by one year and ten months ahead of the national target and set 31 December, 2017.
  • The project undertaken under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) SBM (G) saw the light of day only after the state government extended an incentive of Rs 8,000 per toilet. This is in addition to the Centres support of Rs 12,000, raising the grant for constructing a toilet to Rs 20,000.
  • Chief Minister: Pema Khandu

Assam gets Rs. 1,250 crore Central fund for inland water transport

  • Union Minister of Shipping and Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari announced that Rs. 1,250 crore has been sanctioned for overall development of inland water transport of Assam. It has asked the Assam State water resources department to involve a foreign consultant, if required, for preparing the Detailed Project Report (DPR) within three months.
  • The State government had been asked to take immediate steps to upgrade the entire network of embankments measuring around 4,474 kilometre and make them road-cum-dykes.

Chhattisgarh signs agreement to lay 32,000 km optical fiber network

  • Chhattisgarh government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Centre for the second phase of the Bharat Net project under which 5987 village panchayats will be connected through optical fiber network.
  • The MoU will pave the way for laying 32,466 kms of optical fiber cable in 5987 Gram Panchayats of the state at a cost of Rs 1624 crore.
  • The Centre had sanctioned Rs 1830 crore for the installation of 1028 mobile towers in the naxal-affected regions of Chhattisgarh.
  • Chief Minister: Raman Singh

China Shuts Down Its Legal Ivory Trade

  • China's licensed ivory carving factories and retailers will be shuttered in accordance with a landmark 2015 announcement from Chinese President Xi Jinping and then U.S. President Barack Obama. China and the U.S. both agreed to near-complete ivory bans, which prohibit the buying and selling of all but a limited number of antiques and a few other items. The U.S.’s ivory ban went into effect in June 2016. China’s goes into effect December 31, 2017.
  • China is widely believed to be the world’s largest consumer of ivory, both legal and illegal, and it plays a major role in the yearly slaughter of some 30,000 African elephants by poachers. Ivory is in demand for intricate carvings, trinkets, chopsticks, and other items.

FinMin asks PSBs to consider selling, swapping loan assets

  • The finance ministry has asked public sector banks (PSBs) to explore options for selling and swapping of loan assets with other lenders with a view to strengthen their balance sheets. Depending on their competencies, banks can look at opportunities to buy or swap loan assets.
  • Swapping and selling assets will help banks focus on their core competencies and trim their burden. The Finance Ministry has also asked PSBs to open micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) intensive branches. Banks were also advised to strengthen cluster-based lending. As many as 50 clusters have been identified for enhanced access to financing.

Golfer Shiv Kapur wins third Asian Tour title in Thailand

  • Shiv Kapur shot a stunning four-under-67 to claim his third Asian Tour title of the year, winning the Royal Cup in Pattaya, Thailand. This latest title marks Shiv Kapur’s fourth Asian Tour win and sixth international title as he won twice on the European Challenge Tour too.
  • It was a close battle between Kapur and Prom Meesawat of Thailand but the former came through a see-saw battle and shot four-under 67 to finish at 14-under.

Hiring in auto sector to fall

  • According to a study, the hiring growth rate in the Indian automobile industry is likely to slow down to 2-2.5% year-on-year against the historical 3-3.5% growth due to the advent of new technologies and increased automation.
  • The emergence of new generation technologies is demanding a new set of skills from the auto workforce. Repetitive jobs roles such as painting and welding are being threatened while job roles in robotics programming and maintenance will be more in demand.

Iran restricts access to social media

  • Iran cut access to social media in a bid to head off further protests after days of unrest that saw two people killed and dozens arrested.The spate of demonstrations began in second city Mashhad on over high living costs, but quickly spread throughout the country and turned against the Islamic system as a whole.
  • In an apparent attempt to stave off more unrest, the government authorities began blocking access to photo-sharing and online messaging services on mobile phones.

Maoist incidents fewer in 2017, govt. data

  • According to Home Ministry data, for the first time in more than a decade, in 2017 the incidents in left-wing extremism (LWE) affected States remained below the 1,000 mark.
  • A total of 851 incidents were reported till December 15 in 2017, compared to 1016 incidents during the corresponding period last year. The total number of incidents in 2016 was 1048.
  • The violent incidents in the 10 LWE-affected States have always been above the 1,000 mark, with 2,258 the maximum number of incidents reported in 2009.
  • The most incidents were reported from Chhattisgarh (353) and Jharkhand (240).

NASA's Flying Observatory To Explore Saturn's Moon

  • NASA's flying observatory Sofia is preparing its 2018 observing campaign, which will include observations of celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets and Saturn's giant moon Titan.
  • The observatory's newest instrument, the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus, called HAWC+, will continue research with its polarimeter, a device that measures the alignment of incoming light waves.
  • According to scientists, these investigations will help them understand how magnetic fields affect the rate at which interstellar clouds condense to form new stars.

Pakistan announces hydropower project worth $1.5bn in PoK

  • A new hydro power project with an estimated cost of $1.51 billion is being set up by the Pakistan government on the banks of river Jhelum in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The project is expected to be complete by 2022 with the help of foreign funds.
  • The project which is called Azad Pattan Hydropower Project is an initiative undertaken by the government under the Policy for Power Generation 2002. Pakistan has 28% hydropower in its energy mix.

Renowned educationist M V Pylee passes away

  • Renowned educationist and the pioneer of management education in India M V Pylee died due to brief age-related ailment. Pylee had served as Vice Chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) from 1977 to 1981. Pylee was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2006.

Rs 14,500 crore generated through BHARAT 22 Exchange Traded Fund

  • The Central Government revealed that an amount of Rs 14,500 crore has been raised through its BHARAT 22 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), which was created to benefit long-term and retail investors by providing an opportunity to purchase equity stocks of government-run companies and earn stable returns.
  • The fund comprises of 22 stocks of listed Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Strategic Holdings of Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) and Public Sector Banks (PSBs).
  • The objective of BHARAT 22 ETF is to invest in constituents (22 companies) of S&P BSE Bharat 22 Index and endeavor to provide returns before expenses, which closely correspond to the total returns of the index.
  • Since its inception, the fund has been received positively and gained subscription of approximately Rs 32,000 crore from 3,35,000 applications, thus registering the highest ever New Fund Offer (NFO) collection in the history of mutual funds in India.

Sue Grafton, Best-Selling Author Of Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries, Dies At 77

  • Sue Grafton, the mystery writer who penned best-selling novels with alphabet-based titles, starting with "A Is for Alibi" and ending with "Y Is for Yesterday," has died. Grafton published her first book about the likable, savvy gumshoe in 1982.

Telangana govt rolls out 24-hour free-electricity supply for farming sector

  • Telangana government rolled out 24-hour free-electricity supply for farming sector from January 1. About 23 lakh agricultural pumpsets across 31 districts of the state began getting uninterrupted electricity supply from zero hours.The state Government has kept 7500 MW electricity ready to meet the demand. Now the agricultural pumpsets will operate at the press of the button and also without any interruptions.
  • This initiative of the state government has provided an assured source of irrigation to the agriculture land, out of which 84 per cent depend on tube wells and bore wells.

Venezuela raises minimum wage 40 %, stoking world's fastest inflation

  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a 40 percent increase to the minimum wage as of January, a move that will add fire to an already considered hyperinflation in the oil-rich nation.
  • Venezuelans will now earn some 797,510 bolivars a month, factoring in food tickets, or just over $7 on the widely used black market index.
  • Prices went up 1,369 percent between January and November, according to figures released earlier this month.
  • Opposition politicians say Maduro’s refusal to overhaul Venezuela’s state-led economic model and stop excessive money printing will only create more misery in 2018. The Venezuelan government no longer publishes inflation data on a regular basis.