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NITI Aayog & Microsoft India partnered to bring in AI tools for agriculture and healthcare
On October 12, 2018, Microsoft India & NITI Aayog signed a MOU to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to address challenges in agriculture and healthcare.
i. Under this agreement, Microsoft would combine with the cloud, AI, research and its vertical expertise for new initiatives and solutions across several core areas.
ii. It will also accelerate the use of AI for:
- Development and adoption of local language computing by Natural Language Processing tools,
- Building capacity for AI among the workforce through education.
- For solutions with farm advisory services & healthcare screening models at Primary Health Centres.
iii. In the health sector, Microsoft will also support NITI Aayog in preparing a blueprint for AI-led Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programs.
iv. It would also promote STEM education in the areas of AI studies and data sciences for young women in institutes identified by NITI Aayog.
v. Additionally, a Microsoft – NITI Aayog Problem to Solution Incubation Test Bed will be set up within its premises in Bangalore to develop AI driven solutions for societal problems identified by NITI Aayog.
President: Anant Maheshwari.
About NITI Aayog:
♦ Chairperson: PM Narendra Modi.
♦ CEO: Amitabh Kant.
♦ Founded: 1 January 2015.
India and Sri Lanka sign two MoU for construstion of 1200 houses
On October 13, 2018, India and Sri Lanka signed 2 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) for construction of 1200 houses.
i. It will be done through 50 model villages, using Indian grant assistance of 60 crore Srilankan rupees.
ii. As per the new MoUs, 600 houses each will be constructed in the Southern and Northern Provinces.
iii. It will target low income landless and homeless beneficiaries with additional assistance of 5 lakh Sri Lankan rupees to each in installments, linked to the stages of construction of the house.
iv. Indian financial commitment, under grant, for housing in Sri Lanka currently stands at around 350 million US dollars.
v. And with this, India’s collaboration with Srilankan government under Model Villages Housing Program stands at 2400 houses in 100 model villages.
♦ Capital: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
♦ Currency: Sri Lankan rupee.
India-Azerbaijan signed protocol on trade and economic, science and technology cooperation
On October 11, 2018, the 5th meeting of India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Science and Technology Cooperation (IA-IGC) was held on for 2 days till 12 October, 2018 in New Delhi.
i. It was co-chaired by:
- Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu and
- Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Government of Republic of Azerbaijan, Mukhtar Babayev.
ii. During the meeting, they discussed on:
- Current economic situation,
- Reviewed the current status of bilateral trade, investment,
- Discussed on cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, science and technology,
iii. They also emphasised to further strengthen and expand their cooperation in:
Trade and investment, transportation, energy and hydro-carbons, SMEs, agriculture, food safety and environmental protection, tourism, culture, health and pharmaceuticals, space technology, education and scientific research, chemicals and petrochemicals and mining.
iv. To strengthen the ties they decided to expand the trade basket and conduct exchange of information about trade exhibitions, fairs, conferences and other business events between the 2 countries.
v. The next meeting of the India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Science and Technology co-operation will be held in Baku at mutually convenient dates.
Trade turnover between India and Azerbaijan in January-August 2018 was USD 657.9 million which is far below the potential.
♦ Capital: Baku.
♦ Currency: Azerbaijani manat.
India remains polio free, all vaccines used in Government immunization programme safe: UNICEF, WHO
On October 13, 2018, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced India’s status as a polio-free country.
i. The risk of children getting vaccine derived poliovirus was “minimal” in India which came up in the backdrop of oral polio vaccine vials being found contaminated with the type-2 polio virus.
ii. They also asserted that all vaccines provided under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) are safe.
iii. This was achieved by high routine immunization coverage being achieved in India under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
iv. The India Expert Advisory Group advises the country to conduct mass vaccination campaigns against polio, using bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), to maintain high immunity
Certified polio-free in March 2014, India continues to remain vigilant against all three types of polioviruses. The last polio case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13 January 2011.
♦ Full Form: United Nations Children’s Fund.
♦ Executive Director: Henrietta H. Fore.
♦ Headquarters: New York, USA.
♦ Member: 190 countries.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey releases analytical report of the National Health Profile-2018
On 13th October 2018, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, released an Analytical Report of the National Health Profile-2018.
i. The report was prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), under the administration of the Directorate General of Health Services at Patna.
ii. It covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.
iii. CBHI publishes National Health Profile annually since 2005. This is the 12th edition.
iv. The Analytical Report of National Health Profile – 2018 indicates the progress made in India in various health related sectors.
v. The significance of National Health Resource Repository (NHRR), India’s first ever national healthcare facility registry, was also discussed at the event.
About Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI):
♦ Director & Head – Dr Madhu Raikwar
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
Online portal for facilitating filling of online applications for IEM and IL: DIPP
On October 12, 2018, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) developed a new online portal for Industrial Entrepreneurs’ Memorandum (IEM) and Industrial Licence (IL).
i. The portal is at https://services.dipp.gov.in.
ii. It will help facilitate filing of online applications for IEM and IL and under Arms Act as well as Industries (Development & Regulation)[I(D&R)] Act, 1951.
iii. It will be available, with effect from 16th October 2018, for public for filing application and no applications.
Applications for IEM and IL under I(D&R) Act, 1951 are currently accepted through E-biz portal whereas applications for manufacture of defence items under Arms Act are received physically.
Ministry of Commerce:
♦ Union Minister: Shri. Suresh Prabhu.
♦ Minister of State: Shri. C R Chaudhary.
♦ Secretary: Mr. Ramesh Abhishek.
National Autism Intervention Research Centre: Haryana’s first autism research centre opens in Gurugram
On October 13, 2018, Haryana launched first-of-its-kind National Autism Intervention Research Centre at Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram.
i. This has been started in association with Behaviour Momentum India.
ii. It will help people suffering from autism who need behavioural and medical experts to get educated, learn play and social skills and improve their quality of life.
About The Behavior Momentum India:
- It is the brainchild of Dr Smita Awasthi.
- It is one of the leading providers of educational interventions, based on the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis, for children and adults affected by autism.
♦ Capital: Chandigarh.
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar.
♦ Governor: Shri Satyadeo Narain Arya.
♦ National Parks: Sultanpur National Park, Kalesar National Park.
Rs 210 Cr given as compensation to hailstorm affected farmers: West Bengal govt
On October 12, 2018, the West Bengal Government announced to give a compensation of 210 crore rupees to farmers who had incurred loss due to hailstorm this year.
i. More than 3.25 lakh farmers of North and South Bengal will be receiving compensation.
ii. Farmers from 10 districts including Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, South Dinajpur, Malda, Birbhum, Nadia, North 24-Parganas and West Midnapore had incurred heavy loss due to the hailstorm.
♦ Chief Minister: Mamata Banerjee.
♦ Governor: Kesari Nath Tripathi.
♦ National Parks: Jaldapara National Park, Sunderbans National Park, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Singalila National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary.
♦ Airports: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Cooch Behar Airport, Bagdogra Airport, Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport.
SRiX Agri-Business Academy: India’s first portal for agri biz learning launched in Warangal
On October 13, 2018, India’s first agri and food business online learning platform was launched at the SR Innovation Exchange (SRiX) Campus, Warangal in Telangana.
i. It was inaugurated by British Deputy High Commissioner Hyderabad Andrew Fleming.
ii. Additionally, Sarras Academies Ltd, a UK-based company, and SR Innovation Exchange have joined hands to launch the Academy.
iii. The name of the platform is: SRiX Agri-Business Academy.
iv. It is an Indo-UK collaborative initiative and a technology business incubator under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
v. It will focus on start-ups of agriculture, cleantech and IoT.
♦ Capital: Hyderabad.
♦ Chief Minister: K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
♦ Governor: E.S.L. Narasimhan.
♦ National Park: Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park, Kasu Brahmananda National Park, Mrugavani National Park, Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary.
Assam bill on retrenching up to 300 employees sans govt approval gets presidential assent
On October 14, 2018, President gave assent to Assam’s The Industrial Disputes (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2017.
i. According to this bill, companies are allowed to retrench up to 300 employees without seeking prior approval of the government.
ii. It will replace the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
iii. Under the new legislation, the compensation to a retrenched labourer will be 60 days’ salary instead of the present 15 days’ and no government permission will be required for the retrenchment.
iv. Earlier, companies were allowed to bring down the number by 100 without seeking prior approval of the government.
v. This will help in achieving ‘ease of doing business’ for the companies.
i. President has also given assent to the Motor Vehicles (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018 that authorises the state transport undertaking to operate any vehicle on any route as stage carriage under any permit.
ii. This will help reduce the interest charged under the Haryana Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 2016 from 1.5 per cent per month to 1 per cent per month that is 12 per cent per annum.
♦ Capital: Dispur.
♦ Chief Minister: Sarbananda Sonowal.
♦ Governor: Jagdish Mukhi.
♦ National Parks: Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park (UNESCO Natural World Herigate Site), Orang National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
♦ Airports: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Dibrugarh Airport, Jorhat Airport, Tezpur Airport, Silchar Airport.
Overview of EAM Swaraj’s 2-day Visit to Tajikistan
i. On October 11, 2018, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj commenced her 2-day visit to Tajikistan to attend the 2-day 17th Council of Heads of Government meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Dushanbe.
ii.This was the second CHG meeting since India became a full member of SCO in June 2017.
iii. On behalf of India, the EAM announced the following:
- Re-iterating India’s pledge to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022
- As per PM’s announcement, India would host the SCO exhibition on ‘Shared Buddhist Heritage’ in 2019,
- Acknowledging the successful completion of ‘SCO Peace Mission 2018’.
- India’s support to SCO Qingdao Summit Leaders’ “Appeal to Youth” against radicalization of youth……………………….Click here to Read more
International conference on the future of the Indian Ocean held in Colombo on (11-12th Oct)
On October 11, 2018, “The Indian Ocean: Defining our Future” Conference was held for 2 days till October 12, 2018 held at Temple Trees, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
It is aimed to explore strongest challenges in the Indian Ocean region.
i. It was organized by the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in collaboration with the Global Maritime Crime Programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
ii. The inaugural address of the Conference was delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered the keynote address.
iii. Also, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson addressed the inaugural session.
iv. Discussions were focused on four thematic areas, namely:
- The Indian Ocean Economy: The New Global Growth Pole;
- Life below Water: Reframing the Oceans as Development Spaces;
- An End to Uncertainty: Safety and Security at Sea; and
- Reinforcing International Law in the Indian Ocean: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Emerging Issues.
v. This would lead toa multilateral diplomatic Conference to be held early 2019 in Sri Lanka to work on the conference that would contribute towards greater peace, security and prosperity in the Indian Ocean.
v.India was represented by Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Pankaj Saran, in the Inaugural Panel titled “Navigating Challenges and Prospects in the Indian Ocean: Towards a Shared Understanding”.
This Conference is held at a time when the Indian Ocean has emerged as one of the world’s busiest and most critical trade corridors, carrying two thirds of global oil shipments and a third of bulk cargo and hosting the most critical Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs), directly impacting global trade and economy.
♦ Capital: Colombo, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
♦ Currency: Sri Lankan rupee.
India& China launch first joint programme to train Afghanistan diplomats
On October 14, 2018, India and China launched their first joint programme for Afghanistan to train its diplomats.
i. For this, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar hosted 10 Afghan Diplomats who will be travelling to India for the 1st India-China joint training programme.
ii. This will be under the Trilateral Cooperation between India, China and Afghanistan.
iii. This is in line with the MOU to launch a joint programme in Afghanistan that was reached during an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held inApril 2018 at China’s Wuhan city.
♦ Capital: Beijing.
♦ Currency: Renminbi.
World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 bn in loans
On October 14, 2018, the World Bank announced funding of up to $1 billion to the Government of Indonesia for relief and reconstruction efforts in the disaster-affected areas of Lombok and Sulawesi.
i. It would be guided by a US$5 million grant for technical assistance for resilient and community-led reconstruction detailed planning.
ii. The Package will include the following:
- Cash transfers to the poorest 150,000 affected families for a period between 6 months to one year,
- Finance rebuilding of critical public facilities and infrastructure assets: hospitals, schools, bridges, roads, highways, water supply infrastructure,
- Strengthening monitoring and early warning systems,
- Reconstruction of housing settlements and neighborhood level infrastructure and services.
i. According to a survey by the World Bank, The estimated physical loss is around $531 million (IDR 8.07 trillion). It is detailed as follows:
- Residential housing – approximately US$181 million (IDR 2.75 trillion)
- Non-residential sector – approximately US$185 million (IDR 2.82 trillion)
- Infrastructure – approximately US$165M (IDR 2.5 trillion).
ii. This report does not account for loss of life, lost land or the disruption to the economy through lost jobs, livelihoods and business.
♦ Capital: Jakarta.
♦ Currency: Indonesian rupiah.
♦ President: Joko Widodo.
Stanford University named World’s Most Innovative University: Reuters
Stanford University has been named the World’s Most Innovative University for the fourth consecutive year in Reuters’ ranking of World’s Most Innovative Universities.
i. This list ranks educational institutions based on new technologies they have invented and new markets and industries they have powered.
ii. Other universities in the top 5 of the list are:
- 2 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 3 – Harvard University
- 4 – University of Pennsylvania
- 5 – University of Washington
BANKING & FINANCE
9-member group headed by Zaware to study issues at IL&FS: ICAI
On October 14, 2018, a 9-member high power group has been constituted by Naveen Gupta, President, ICA Institute, to study the systemic issues at debt-laden IL&FS Group.
i. Shivaji B Zaware will be its convener and other members include: two past presidents of the CA Institute – Ved Jain and Nilesh S Vikamsey.
ii. Furthermore, it has also written to the Reserve Bank of India and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office seeking details about IL&FS issue.
iii. The group will suggest remedial measures and improvement in the system.
Following the Rs.13,000-crore Nirav Modi-scam at Punjab National Bank, the CA Institute had set up a High Power Group which was also convened by Shivaji B Zaware.
♦ Full form: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
OYO partners with payments platform PhonePe
On 11th October 2018, OYO announced its partnership with payments platform PhonePe.
i. With this tie up, OYO users can easily book a room through the PhonePe app. Through PhonePe app users can book more than 125,000 exclusive rooms that are part of OYO’s chain of hotels in India.
ii. PhonePe users can book a room at any OYO hotel in India by paying a token amount of Rs 99, and the remaining amount can be paid later at the hotel.
iii. Also, OYO will be able to access nearly 100 million PhonePe users.
♦ CEO – Sameer Nigam
♦ Registered Address – New Delhi
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Sikkim’s 100% organic farming wins FAO’s Future Policy Gold Award
On 12th October 2018, Sikkim won the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy GoldAward for its achievement in becoming the world’s first totally organic agriculture state.
i. The award is nicknamed the “Oscar for best policies”. It is co-organised by FAO, the World Future Council (WFC) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM – Organics International).
ii. Brazil, Denmark, Quito and Ecuador received the Silver award.
iii. Sikkim has completely banned the sale and use of chemical pesticides. With this transition to organic farming, the tourism sector has benefited with the number of visitors increasing by more than 50 % between 2014 and 2017.
About UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO):
♦ Director-General – José Graziano da Silva
♦ Headquarters – Rome, Italy
Maryse Conde wins New Academy Prize in Literature
Novelist Maryse Condé has been announced as the winner of the New Academy prize in literature.
i. This award was created after the Swedish Academy postponed this year’s Nobel prize for literature following a rape scandal.
ii. Maryse Condé will receive £87,000 cash prize that was raised from crowdfunding and donations, at the award ceremony on 9 December 2018, a day before the Nobel award ceremony.
iii. Maryse Condé is from Guadeloupe, France. She is 81 years old. She has written around 20 novels.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Suchitra Durai appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Thailand
On 11th October 2018, Suchitra Durai was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Thailand.
i. Suchitra Durai is an Indian Foreign Service Officer (IFS) of 1988 batch. She is at present, the High Commissioner of India to Kenya.
ii. She has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Thailand. She will take up this assignment soon.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Scientists have developed what may be the world’s fastest camera: T-CUP
Scientists have developed a new camera called the T-CUP, which might be the world’s fastest camera.
i. T-CUP can capture 10 trillion frames per second. It can freeze time to see light in extremely slow motion.
ii. It was developed by researchers at INRS (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique) led by Lihong Wang of California Institute of Technology, US.
iii. The researchers integrated Compressed ultrafast photography (CUP) which was at 100 billion frames per second with femtosecond lasers to form T-CUP system.
Japan all set to host 2019 World Relays
On October 14, 2018, the Japan Association of Athletics Federations announced to be the host of the 2019 edition of 4th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays, beginning May 11, 2019.
i. The 2019 meet will take place May 11 and 12 at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
ii. This will serve as a qualifier for the world championships taking place in Doha in September and October.
iii. Athletes from various countries including Jamaica, Britain and the United States would participate.
iv. The first three editions of the IAAF World Relays, in 2014, 2015 and 2017, were held in the Bahamian capital of Nassau.
♦ Capital: Tokyo.
♦ Currency: Japanese yen.
Sandesh Jhingan appointed as India captain for India-China friendly football match
Sandesh Jhingan was appointed as the captain of Indian football team for the international friendly match against Chinaheld in Suzhou, China, on 13th October 2018.
i. This is the first time in 21 years, India and China played football after the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.
ii. Indian team was coached by head coach Stephen Constantine. India and China finished the match in a 0-0 draw.
Prithvi Shaw youngest Indian to hit a century on Test debut
On 4th October 2018, 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a hundred on Test debut against West Indies in Rajkot, Gujarat.
i. Overall, he is the 15th Indian batsman to score a hundred in his first Test. He is also the second youngest Indian to score a Test century. The youngest Indian to score a Test century is Sachin Tendulkar.
ii. Prithvi Shaw is the 7th youngest player in Test cricket history to score a hundred on debut.
iii. He also scored the third quickest century on debut. He had become the youngest player to score a century on Duleep Trophy debut in 2017.
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick Schumacher wins 2018 F3 European title
On 13th October 2018, Mick Schumacher, son of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, won the 2018 Formula Three (F3) European title in Hockenheim, Germany.
i. Mick Schumacher finished at second position in the second race of the day and won his first junior championship with 347 points.
ii. He is 19 years old. With his first F3 title he has qualified for a FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) ‘super licence’, which is a prerequisite to participate in Formula One races.
2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters (tennis)
From 6th to 14th October 2018, the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters (tennis) was held at Shanghai Qizhong Tennis Center, Shanghai, China.
i. It was a professional men’s tennis tournament. It was played on outdoor hard courts. It was the 10th edition of Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 event.
|Men’s singles||Novak Djokovic (Serbia)||Borna Ćorić (Croatia)|
|Men’s Doubles||Łukasz Kubot (Poland), Marcelo Melo (Brazil)||Jamie Murray (United Kingdom), Bruno Soares (Brazil)|
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Bihar Deputy CM releases book ‘Lalu-Leela’ on scams by Lalu Prasad
On 11th October 2018, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi released a book named ‘Lalu-Leela’, at an event in Patna.
i. The book has nearly 200 pages. It is about alleged illegal dealings of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family members.
ii. This is Sushil Modi’s second book. His first book ‘Beech Samar Mein’ (In the Middle of War) was released two years back.
International Day of Rural Women – 15 October
On 15th October 2018, International Day of Rural Women was celebrated all over the world.
International Day of Rural Women:
i. When: In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly, declared October 15 as International Day of Rural Women. It was first observed in 2008.
ii. Why: This day recognizes the role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in agriculture, rural development, food security and eradicating rural poverty.
iii. Theme: for International Day of Rural Women 2018 is “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.