Daily Current Affairs - 30th Jan 2018

11 parties in Nagaland not to contest Assembly polls

  • In a major development in Nagaland, 11 parties, including the ruling Naga People’s Front, decided not to contest the February 27 elections, agreeing to the demand of tribal bodies and civil society groups to resolve the protracted Naga political problem first.
  • The decision came at a meeting called by the Core Committee of the Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations that was attended by representatives of 11 parties. The Naga Hoho, an apex Naga tribal body, had earlier this month sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help in postponing the elections, saying the vexed issue should be resolved first.
  • The Naga issue: The insurgent groups National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Khaplang (NSCN-K) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM), which claim to represent the Nagas, demand that a territory known as Nagalim (or Greater Nagaland) – which would include the present state of Nagaland along with roughly four districts of Manipur and parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh where Nagas live – be carved out to address the Naga issue.
  • The proposed region of Nagalim would also include a not insignificant chunk of Myanmar, making this an international issue.
  • Nagaland:
  • Governor: Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya
  • Chief Minister: T. R. Zeliang
  • Capital: Kohima

3-day international bird festival at Dudhwa

  • A three-day international bird festival will be held at the Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh here from February 9 with nearly 200 leading ornithologists expected to attend. During the three-day event, the bird experts would visit various parts of Dudhwa to gather information about the 450 bird species existing there. Photo exhibitions, bird paintings and competitions would also be held.
  • Eminent documentary maker Mike Pandey would act as the brand ambassador of the festival
  • The purpose behind the international bird festival is to promote eco-tourism in Dudhwa and to give it a distinct international identity besides highlighting its traditional Tharu arts, culture and heritage.

Aadhaar is Oxford’s first Hindi word of the year

  • The Hindi Word of the Year for 2017 is 'AADHAAR'. This was announced by Oxford Dictionaries at the Jaipur Literature Festival . 'Aadhaar' also becomes the first Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year.
  • The 'Hindi Word of the Year' is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of attention and reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past year.
  • The accompanying shortlisted words include Notebandi, Swachh, Vikaas, Yoga and Bahubali, reflect the social, cultural, political and economic trends and events that have been part of 2017.

AAI allocates Rs 3400 crore for airports in North East region

  • The Airports Authority of India, AAI, has allocated nearly 3400 crore rupees for the upgradation of airports in the North East region. Of the total an amount of Rs 1720 crore for Assam, Rs 525 crore for Tripura, Rs 800 crore for Manipur, Rs 42 crore for Nagaland, Rs 211 crore for Arunachal Pradesh and Rs 60 crore for Mizoram has been allocated.
  • Projects worth Rs 934 crore had already been completed and work on the rest would be over in the next two or three years.
  • The NE region recorded a total passenger movement of 68.04 lakh in 2016-17 and registered a growth of 27.02 per cent over the previous year.
  • AAI chairman: Guruprasad Mahapatra

Centre To Set Up Social Media Hub To Check Trending News

  • The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has planned to set up a social media communication hub that would help it keep a tab on trending news in districts and gather feedback on the centre's flagship schemes.
  • Under the project, journalists would be employed on contractual basis in each district to be the eyes and ears of the government and provide real-time updates from the ground.
  • It would also take the people's feedback on the government's policies and follow the news trending in their areas. Experts would also be employed at the central level to analyse the feedback.
  • The platform is expected to provide automated reports, tactical insights and comprehensive workflows to initiate engagement across digital channels.
  • The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL), a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the ministry, had floated a tender to supply a software for the project.

China ready to hold talks with India to resolve differences over CPEC

  • China is ready to hold talks with India to resolve differences over the 50 billion US Dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India has objected to the CPEC - which is the biggest project of the Belt and Road Initiative - as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and has become a contentious issue in India-China relations.
  • China in the past also evinced interest to resolve it through talks and even its envoy in New Delhi has said it is willing to change the project's name to make it more acceptable to India. CPEC passes through Indian-claimed territory and hence violates their territorial integrity
  • Indian Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale

CRISIL upgrades outlook on 18 PSBs from negative to stable

  • Rating agency CRISIL has revised its outlook on 18 public sector banks (PSBs) from negative to stable after the government announced bank-wise capital infusion and reform plans. The revision in outlook is primarily driven by the government’s PSB recapitalisation programme for this fiscal (2017-18). This will improve the financial risk profile of these banks and help them meet Basel-III regulatory capital norms. It also provides a cushion against an expected rise in provisioning for non-performing assets (NPAs).
  • On October 24, 2017, the central government announced its Rs 2.11 trillion (Rs 2.11 lakh crore) recapitalisation plan. On Wednesday, the government announced details of bank-wise infusion of Rs 880 billion (Rs 88,000 crore) capital this fiscal.

Economic Survey 2017-18 highlights

  • The Union government has tabled the Economic Survey of India report which projected India’s GDP to grow at 7-7.5 per cent in FY 2018-19, but calls for policy vigilance in the coming year if high oil prices persist or stock prices correct sharply.
  • GDP to expand by 6.75 per cent in 2017-18, re-instating India as world’s fastest growing major economy. Retail inflation averaged 3.3 pc in 2017-18, lowest in last 6 fiscals.
  • The Survey 2017-18 is released in pink colour to highlight gender issues against the backdrop of Development programmes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao; Sukanya Samridhi Yojana and Mandatory Maternity Leave are all Steps in Right Direction.
  • Priority to social infrastructure like education, health to promote inclusive growth.
  • Economy accelerated in second half of current fiscal due to GST, bank recapitalisation, liberalisation of FDI and higher exports. India’s external sector to remain strong on likely improvement in global trade.
  • FDI in services sector rises 15% in 2017-18 on reforms.
  • Rs 20,339cr approved for interest subvention for farmers in current fiscal
  • Policy agenda for next year — support agriculture, privatise Air India, finish bank recapitalisation
  • Textile package boosted exports of key man-made ready-made garments by 16 percent.
  • Preliminary analysis of the Goods and Services Tax data reveals 50 per cent increase in the number of indirect taxpayers.
  • Swachh Bharat initiative improved sanitation coverage in rural areas from 39% in 2014 to 76% in January 2018.
  • India will require investments of about $4.5 trillion by 2040 to develop infrastructure to improve economic growth and community well-being.
  • First time in India’s history that five states, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana account for 70 per cent of India’s exports. India’s internal trade in Goods & Services (excludes non-GST Goods & Services) is actually even higher and is about 60 per cent of GDP.
  • The Economic Survey of India is drafted by the government’s Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Government to set up apex cyber crime coordination centre

  • The Union Home Ministry is planning to set up an apex coordination centre to deal with cyber crimes such as financial frauds, circulation of communal and pornographic contents and has also asked states to establish a similar mechanism in every district.
  • The apex centre,Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) would be set up in Delhi.
  • It has also released Rs 83 crore for setting up of a cyber forensic training laboratory-cum-training centre for police officials in each state. The funds were given under the Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children Scheme.
  • It would coordinate with state governments and union territories, and closely monitor the cyber space and social media with due emphasis on vernacular content.
  • The centre would also block those websites which flout India's laws and circulate child porn, and communally and racially sensitive content.
  • The ministry has already created a new wing -- Cyber and Information Security Division -- to deal with the new-age challenge.
  • The move came in the wake of 1,44,496 cyber security attacks observed in the country during 2014-16.

India cheapest country to live in after South Africa: Survey

  • According to a recent survey of 112 countries by GoBankingRates, India is ranked second only to South Africa as the cheapest country to live or retire. South Africa has topped the survey as the cheapest country to live or retire. South Africa is the worlds largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium.
  • The survey is based on the metrics such as: local purchasing power index, rent index, groceries index, and consumer price index.
  • India also has some of the lowest prices for consumer goods and groceries, with typical monthly expenses for these priced around USD 285 for a single person living in Kolkata. India's local purchasing power is 20.9 per cent lower, rent is 95.2 per cent cheaper, groceries are 74.4 per cent cheaper, local goods and services are 74.9 per cent cheaper.
  • The local purchasing power index measures the relative purchasing power of a typical salary in that country, compared to New York City.
  • Among the most expensive countries in the survey are Bermuda (ranked 112), Bahamas (111), Hong Kong (110), Switzerland (109) and Ghana (108).

India to engage new Nepal govt.

  • India's External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will pay a two-day official visit to Nepal from Thursday in an effort to reach out to Nepal’s political leadership ahead of the formation of a new government by a Communist alliance.
  • The visit by Ms. Swaraj will be the first big diplomatic engagement by the newly elected rulers of Kathmandu. The upcoming visit will provide an opportunity to hold discussions with political leaders of Nepal on issues of mutual interest, and to advance age-old, special ties of friendship between India and Nepal.
  • Nepal:
  • President Bidhya Devi Bhandrai
  • Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
  • Capital:Kathmandu
  • Currency: Nepalese rupee

India's crude steel production rises 6.2% to 101.4 MT in 2017

  • India has overtaken the US to become the world's third-largest steel producer and the country is now looking to bag the second spot from Japan. Country's crude steel production grew by 6.2 per cent to 101.4 million tonnes, MT, in 2017 compared to 95.5 MT in the previous year.
  • China remained the world leader by producing 831.7 MT in 2017, up 5.7 per cent from 786.9 MT in the year-ago period.
  • Japan, the second largest global steel producer, witnessed a negative growth as steel output declined by 0.1 per cent to 104.7 MT in 2017 from 104.8 MT in 2016.
  • Global steel production reached 1,691.2 MT for the year 2017, up by 5.3 per cent compared to 2016 when the output was 1,606.3 MT.

Ireland to hold referendum in May on easing abortion ban

  • Ireland's voters will decide in late May on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions. Voters will be asked whether they want to retain the amendment, or repeal it and hand responsibility for legislating on abortion to parliament.
  • The 1983 amendment commits authorities to defend equally the right to life of a mother and an unborn child, giving this largely Roman Catholic nation the strictest abortion restrictions in Europe.
  • Abortion is legal only in rare cases when a woman's life is in danger. Several thousand Irish women travel each year for abortions in neighbouring Britain.
  • Ireland or Republic of Ireland:
  • President: Michael Daniel Higgins
  • Prime Minister: Leo Varadkar
  • Capital: Dublin
  • Currency: Euro

Mary Kom advances to quarter-finals of India Open

  • MC Mary Kom (48kg) advanced to the quarter-final of the India Open boxing tournament in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Pooja was through straight to the welterweight (69kg) semifinals due to the small size of her draw, opening India’s account on the first day itself.
  • Former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen got the better of last year’s Nation’s Cup gold-medallist Neeraj in her opening clash of the 51kg category.

Opposition seeks to oust Maldives leader

  • Opposition leaders in the Maldives, including two former heads of state, have asked the Supreme Court to remove the President and investigate corruption allegations against him. The Opposition leaders had signed a petition asking the top court to suspend President Abdulla Yameen.
  • It was filed on Sunday after attempts to topple Mr. Yameen through a vote in Parliament failed when the President deployed the military, before unleashing a fresh crackdown against dissidents.
  • Almost all key Opposition leaders and a number of ruling party dissidents have either been jailed or gone into exile in the Maldives.
  • They accuse Mr. Yameen of unprecedented corruption, including unjust enrichment from appropriation of state properties and funds for personal benefit, for the benefit of his family and political associate.
  • Maldives:
  • Capital: Male
  • Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa

Ready for trade war, EU responds to Trump threat

  • The European Union (EU) said that it stands ready to hit back swiftly and appropriately if U.S. President Donald Trump takes unfair trade measures against the 28-nation bloc. The EU’s warning comes less than 24 hours after Mr. Trump expressed his annoyance with EU trade policy.
  • Mr.Trump talked about protecting American jobs and going against multilateral trade deals that he portrayed as detrimental to his America First policies.
  • Mr. Trump last week approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines in a bid to help U.S. manufacturers, particularly against competition from China and South Korea.
  • The stand-off contrasts sharply with relations during the administration of Barack Obama, when both sides sought to create a massive free trade zone between the EU and United States.
  • In 2016, the EU imported €246 billion ($304 billion) in goods from the U.S. while exporting some €362 billion ($448 billion) to the country. In services, the U.S. deficit is much smaller, of only about €13 billion ($16 billion).

Russia suspended from Paralympics

  • The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has announced that the Russian team will be suspended from the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, but individual athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
  • The agreement is similar to that put in place to allow able-bodied Russian competitors to take part in next month’s Winter Olympics that precede the Paralympics.
  • Russia was suspended by the IPC in August 2016 following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping.