Daily Current Affairs - 25th Apr 2018

Abhishek advances in World Cup

  • Abhishek Verma finished third in qualification, scoring 710, to progress to the round-of-32 in the first stage of the archery World Cup. He will now meet Romeo Alejandro Trevinon of Mexico. Rajat Chauhan was the next best-ranked Indian in the qualification stage, bagging the 26th spot

Centre relaxes Protected Area Permit regime from Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur

  • The Union Home Ministry has decided to relax the six-decade-old Protected Area Permit regime from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur for five years with effect from April 1. With this, foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, would now be allowed to visit some of the most pristine locations of the country which, so far, were out of bounds for them without the special permit.
  • Citizens from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, however, continue to be banned from all PAP areas, including Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.
  • The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir

China signals shift in stance on border row

  • China said the upcoming summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan was a trust-building exercise, that would gradually help resolve the border row, and enable the two countries to address major global problems jointly. As both countries attach great importance to each other on external strategy.
  • China is gradually shifting its position from managing and shelving the border issue, to a fledgling stance of resolving the border dispute. Such a stance would align well with Mr. Modi’s approach of seeking a final resolution of the boundary dispute.

CRPF to replace 12,000 ageing troops

  • The CRPF has decided to replace about 12,000 of its aged troops with young and freshly inducted recruits to bring agility and renewed strength in its anti-Naxal operations in the LWE-hit areas of Chhattisgarh.
  • The first-time measure is part of the forces’ strategy to bring renewed vigour in its operations by posting young and motivated personnel and having the least amount of causalities and injuries on its side
  • About 12,000 freshly trained young recruits, in the age group of 18-21 years, will be deployed in Chhattisgarh soon by replacing their older colleagues who are in the age-group of 45-50 years.
  • An analysis of casualities in the force, both fatal and non-fatal, in the past encounters reflect that a number of aged troops were victims.

Defaulters owe SEBI Rs. 2,620 crore

  • More than 1,800 entities have defaulted on the payment of penalties to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The defaulters' list includes individuals and companies who have been penalised for various other stock market violations such as failing to address investor grievances, irregularities in initial public offerings (IPOs) and non-compliance with listing regulations.
  • While the maximum number of cases pertain to violations in the shares of various listed entities.
  • SEBI now has powers to recover penalties by attaching and selling assets of defaulters. Earlier, there were no such powers and SEBI could only go to the courts for prosecution or pass further orders for non-compliance.

Diu Smart City 1st in India to run on 100% renewable energy during day

  • The Diu Smart City has become the first city in India that runs on 100 per cent renewable energy during the daytime, setting a bench-mark for other cities to follow. The city has developed a 9-MW solar park spread over 50 hectares rocky barren land, besides installing solar panels on the rooftops on 79 government buildings, generating 1.3 MW annually.
  • The city is saving about 13,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year and due to low-cost solar energy, power tariffs have been cut in residential category by 10 per cent last year and 15 per cent this year,
  • Diu is a town in the district by the same name in the Union Territory of Daman and Diu, had been importing 73 percent of its power from Gujarat until 2017.

Google introduces new feature for jobseekers

  • Google introduced a new search experience aimed at making it easier and quicker for jobseekers to find relevant employment opportunities. For this it has tied up with popular job listing websites and online classifieds such as QuikrJobs, Shine.com, Aasaanjobs, Freshersworld, Headhonchos, IBM Talent Management Solutions, LinkedIn, Quezx, T-Jobs, TimesJobs and Wisdomjobs.
  • Clicking on any job in this listing opens an at-a-glance view that gives information such as job title, location and whether it is full-time or part-time. From here, users can proceed to the job listing page on the partner website and apply.

Government planning to gift obsolete weaponry to friendly countries

  • The union government has asked the armed forces to compile a list of obsolete military equipment that can be refurbished at minimal cost and gifted to friendly countries. Apart from the strategic significance, the government hopes to create a base to expand export of newer defence platforms, which have been made in India, to these countries.
  • Specific military platforms being looked at such as artillery guns, armoured vehicles, helicopters, naval patrol vehicles and radar systems that are obsolete or nearing obsolescence.
  • So far, India has only gifted used Mi25 helicopters to Afghanistan, although it has provided indigenous smaller equipment such as patrol boats to some countries in the neighbourhood.

H-1B comes under immigration scanner

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had announced that it was planning to make changes in the rules that allowed a certain category of H-4 visa holders ie spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain Employment Authorisation Documents (EAD). The Barack Obama administration allowed EAD for them in 2015 after several years of debate.
  • According to USCIS data, 1,04,750 H-4 visa holders have been issued EAD until 2017. Most of them are Indians and most of them are women.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has further tightened the documentation requirements for H-1B employees working at third-party work sites, a business model that several Indian software companies depend on.

ICICI Bank scraps plans to sell home finance subsidiary

  • ICICI Bank has scrapped plans to sell its home loan subsidiary ICICI Home Finance, and is now working on a plan to boost its business by focusing on small loans in semi-urban and rural centres.
  • ICICI Home Finance, present in 400 locations has a capital of Rs. 1,600 crore and a loan book of Rs. 10,000 crore.
  • It targets loans with an average size of Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 12 lakh as compared with large banks and mortgage players where the average ticket size is about Rs. 30 lakh.

India co-hosts Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop to combat Desertification

  • India is co-hosting the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop, which is the fourth in a series of UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)Workshops held around the world, with Turkey, Ethiopia and Brazil hosting the first two Workshops for their respective regions. This four-day Workshop (April 24-27, 2018) will have participation of representatives from nearly 40 Asia-Pacific nations. The Workshop will also train delegates from 12 land degradation prone states in India.
  • In India, the total land area under land degradation is 96.40 million hectares, which is 29.32 percent of the country’s total geographical area. India has around 70 percent of its total geographical area under drylands and about 30 percent of its land affected by land degradation and about 25 percent of the land affected by desertification.

India to introduce new system to measure air quality with the help of United States and Finland

  • India is tying up with the United States and Finland to develop a pollution-forecast system that will help anticipate particulate matter (PM) levels at least two days in advance and at a greater resolution than what is possible now.
  • The new system, to be jointly developed with expertise from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a different modelling approach as well as computational techniques from that employed in the SAFAR model.
  • A key focus would be to develop forecasts around the “stubble-burning season” that adds to Delhi’s pollution woes in the winter. This refers to the partially-burnt straw and chaff from fields in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, when farmers are preparing their fields for the sowing season.
  • Currently, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), works out of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, serves as the apex forecaster of pollution trends in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad. It generates a likely air quality profile, a day in advance, for these cities. IITM is an organisation under the MoES.

Indian Army set to break a glass ceiling

  • The Indian Army is holding consultations for preparing a plan to grant permanent commission to women in its ranks as it becomes the last military arm to give up resistance to women serving until their age of retirement.
  • The union government had to submit an affidavit on the policy changes within two weeks to the Supreme Court, and a final policy would be ready in six months.
  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that it was considering granting permanent commission to women officers who are in service now as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers. Those under the SSC get to serve a maximum of 14 years with multiple extensions, and have to leave service without pension in their 30s.
  • The Air Force and the Navy shed their opposition to granting permanent commission to women in 2010. As of now, 350 women serve both the forces as permanent commissioned officers, besides doctors and nurses who have historically served alongside male counterparts.

ISRO to Launch Military Satellites to Boost Surveillance

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch a number of important satellites in the coming months with some of these satellites will have strategic importance as they will be used by the military to keep an eye on the movements of India’s hostile neighbours.
  • ISRO will launch a dedicated satellite, Gsat-7A, for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in September and an advanced remote sensing satellite, Risat-2A, for surveillance purpose by the end of the year.
  • Risat-2A will be launched by the end of this year by a PSLV rocket, is an advanced remote sensing satellite that will boost the country’s surveillance capabilities.
  • It will also launch its “heaviest satellite ever” Gsat-11 weighing 5.7 tonnes from French Guiana by June.

Jailed Egyptian journalist to be awarded UNESCO press freedom prize

  • Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid won the 2018 Press Freedom Prize awarded by the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO. The prize, the Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, will be awarded on May 2 to mark World Press Freedom Day. The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.
  • The Egyptian government arrested in 2013 as he photographed security forces dispersing an anti-government sit-in, during which hundreds of protesters and several security forces members were killed.

Mohamed Salah and Fran Kirby named PFA players of the year

  • Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been named as the Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year for the 2017-18 season. With this he become the second African player to win the award after Riyad Mahrez of Leicester in 2016. Manchester City’s winger Sané voted as young player of the year.
  • Chelsea’s Fran Kirby won the women’s player of the year award. Bristol City’s Lauren Hemp was named young player of the year.

Petrol price touches Rs 74.40, diesel at record high of Rs 65.65

  • Petrol price has hit 74 rupees 40 paise a litre, while diesel rates touched a record high of 65 rupees 65 paise. State-owned oil firms, which have been since June last year revising auto fuel prices daily. India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations

Remove references to leprosy as disability from law books: SC

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre and all States to remove references to leprosy as a disability from statute books, saying leprosy is curable and patients should not be victims of social stigma. The Centre, said the government was taking steps to delete the erring provisions from the enactments.
  • The Supreme Court observed that the age-old beliefs about leprosy destroy minds and bring upon untold sufferings into the lives of leprosy patients,
  • The petition has urged the court to intervene and pave the way for recognising the fundamental right to equality, dignity and equal opportunity of persons affected by leprosy.
  • Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a long-term infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis. It is a slowly developing, progressive disease that damages the skin and nervous system.

Shahzar Rizvi's silver opens India's account at ISSF World Cup

  • Shahzar Rizvi claimed India's first medal at the ongoing World Cup organised by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) at Changwon, South Korea. He won the silver in the 10 meter air pistol event as he missed the gold by 0.2 points to Russia's Artem Chernousov. Samuil Donkov of Bulgaria won the Bronze.

Sushma Swaraj to attend meeting of India-Mongolia Joint Committee for Consultations on Trade and Economic Cooperation

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the 6th round of India-Mongolia Joint Consultative Committee meeting with her Mongolian counterpart. The meeting will discuss trade, economic, cultural and scientific co-operation. She became the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit the nation in 42 years.
  • Mongolia
  • President: Battulga Khaltmaa
  • Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh
  • Capital: Ulaanbaatar
  • Currency: Mongolian tögrög

Three Indians make Youth Olympics

  • Three Indians advanced to the medal rounds of the Asian Youth boxing championships and qualified for the Youth Olympics. Ankit Khatana (60kg), Bhavesh Kattimani Kumar (52kg) and Aman (+91kg) entered the semifinals and booked spots in the Youth Olympics to be held at Buenos Aires later this year.

US, France call for 'new nuclear deal' with Iran

  • US and France have called for a new nuclear deal with Iran. While the US President Donald Trump is skeptical of a nuclear accord that was struck between the world powers and Iran in 2015 and discussed the issue with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Washington.
  • He spoke about doing a much bigger deal, adding that any new agreement must be built on solid foundations. Trump has been threatening to reject an extension of the Obama-era nuclear pact. Iran has warned of severe consequences if the US withdrew from the deal.
  • The 2015 deal provides for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.