Daily Current Affairs - 04th Jan 2018

Cabinet approves Indo-Myanmar agreement on land border crossing

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing. The agreement will facilitate regulation and harmonization of already existing free movement rights for people ordinarily residing in the border areas of both countries.
  • It will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries. The Agreement is an enabling arrangement for movement of people across India-Myanmar border.
  • The cabinet had also approved the signing of an MoU with Israel in the field of oil and gas, and was also apprised of another MoU signed with Italy on renewable energy

Centre approves Rs. 5,369 cr. for waterway project

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved more than Rs. 5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas Project for development of fairway on National Waterway-1 with the technical and investment support of the World Bank. The project, which is expected to be completed by March 2023, will provide alternative mode of transport that will be environment friendly and cost effective. The project would contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country while providing a boost to infrastructure development.
  • The project will extend over Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The project will include construction of multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj, Haldia, Kalughat, Ghazipur and Farakka, five pairs of roll-on roll-off terminals, integrated ship repair and maintenance complexes, bank protection works, and provision of navigation aids.

Centre approves setting up of new AIIMS in Bilaspur

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for establishment of new AIIMS in Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The cost of the project is Rs.1351 crore.
  • The Institution will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds and trauma center facilities. It will have a Medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year.

Centre nod for revised PPP port concessions

  • The central government had approved a revised model concession pact for projects based on public private partnership (PPP) design at major ports to make the investment climate more investor friendly.
  • The revised Model Concession Agreement (MCA) includes providing an exit route to developers by way of divesting their equity up to 100% after completion of two years from the Commercial Operation Date (COD).
  • The government said this would help to resolve the long-pending grievances of public private participation (PPP) operators that revenue share was payable on ceiling tariff and price discounts are ignored.

IICA, IPPB sign MoU to provide training on payment banking

  • Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and India Post Payments Bank signed an agreement for the training of employees of the latter in the area of payment banking. Under the agreement, IICA has been entrusted with the key responsibility of capacity building of IPPB through training of its officials/employees besides providing research support by instituting Research Chairs in the emerging area of payment banking.
  • IPPB is a flagship financial inclusion initiative of the government to cover major portion of the country's population that is outside the ambit of formal banking.
  • IPPB Chairman: Suresh Sethi

India Calls Off Deal For Israeli Spike Anti-tank Guided Missiles

  • India has called off an order to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel's state-owned defence contractor Rafael. The deal was worth about $500 million and the announcement of its termination came a couple of weeks before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit India.
  • India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation was developing a domestic anti-tank missile and the Indian government was keen to support.
  • However, India's Defence Ministry said separately it had cleared a plan to buy 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles built by Rafael.

New Zealand beat West Indies by 119 runs in final T20, sweep series

  • New Zealand crushed the West Indies by 119 runs in the final Twenty20 to sweep the 3 match series. Colin Munro made 104 off 53 deliveries, became the first player to hit three centuries in international Twenty20 cricket as New Zealand posted an imposing 243 for five which was their highest Twenty20 total.
  • West Indies innings folded at 124 for nine in 16.3 overs.

North Korea reopens cross-border hotline with South Korea

  • North Korea reopened a border hotline with South Korea restoring a channel of direct dialogue and signaling a possible thaw in relations between the two rivals after months of acrimony and fears of war.
  • The return of the telephone hotline at the village came two days after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, made a rare overture to the South. The village falls in the Demilitarized Zone which is the world’s most heavily guarded border.

Pakistan Replaces Dollar With Yuan for Bilateral Trade With China

  • The central bank of Pakistan will start using the Chinese currency, Yuan, for bilateral trade with China. The decision to do business transactions in yuan comes just a day after US President Donald Trump vowed to stop all aid to Islamabad.
  • Adoption of the Yuan would mean that Pakistan and China would be able to replace the US dollar for transactions in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
  • Pakistan would now be able to pay for imports from China in Yuan and Chinese firms investing in CPEC projects in Pakistan would bring in funds and remit back their profits also in Yuan.
  • Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at around $14 billion in 2015-2016. Moreover, China has committed to investing around $60 billion in the country by 2030 under a long-term plan of development cooperation with Islamabad.

Parliament passes bill to raise Nabard’s capital to Rs30,000 crore

  • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was passed on by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.
  • The passed bill will enable to increase the authorized capital of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) from Rs 5000 crore to Rs30,000 crore and enable exit of shareholding of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The RBI's 0.4% equity in Nabard will be transferred to the centre and as a result, 100% equity will come to the government. Even after reducing it's stake in the bank, the central bank will be the regulator of the Nabard.

Rajinder Khanna appointed deputy NSA

  • Rajinder Khanna, a former chief of the country’s external intelligence agency RAW, was appointed the deputy National Security Adviser (NSA). He headed the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) from December 2014 for a fixed two-year period.
  • Rajinder Khanna is at present officer on special duty (Neighbourhood Studies) in the National Security Council Secretariat.
  • The National Security Council, headed by the prime minister, is the apex body on all internal and external security-related matters.
  • National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is its secretary.

RIL commissions world's largest refinery off-gas cracker at Jamnagar

  • Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd had commissioned and achieved design throughput of the world’s largest refinery off the gas cracker at Jamnagar. The refinery would have a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) along with downstream plants and utilities.
  • The complex has a unique configuration as it uses off-gases from RIL’s two refineries at Jamnagar as feedstock, an integration approach that provides a sustainable cost advantage.

SBI, Nabard tie up to promote joint liability groups in Bengal

  • State Bank of India and Nabard have signed an agreement with five NGOs in Bengal for the promotion of 2,500 joint liability groups (JLGs) in select districts of the State. JLGs are informal groups of 4-10 members engaged in similar economic activities and willing to jointly undertake the responsibility to repay loans taken by the group from a bank. They are typically credit groups of small or marginal tenant farmers who do not have a proper title of their farmland.
  • Through these JLGs, SBI plans to extend assistance to the financially excluded sections of the society, especially landless farmers. Nabard has fixed a target of credit linking 80,000 JLGs in West Bengal in 2017-18.

Six countries enter UN Security Council

  • Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and the Netherlands formally joined the ranks of the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The six countries who left the UN Security Council on December 31 are Egypt, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay.
  • The UN Security Council has 15 members, including five with permanent seats who have the power to veto resolutions - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

WCD Ministry launches NARI, E-Samvad portals

  • The Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi launched a web portal called NARI that will provide information regarding all the Government schemes offered for women.NARI will list out the schemes in seven different categories – education, employment, housing, shelter, health, addressing violence, decision making and social support.
  • Users can log on to www.nari.nic.in and access schemes provided for women by the Centre and different State Governments. NARI has information on 350 different schemes offered to women and will be updated.
  • She also unveiled a website called e-SAMVAD for NGOs. The website allows NGOs to contact the Ministry for feedback, grievances, suggestions and their best practices.