Current Affairs Today – July 13 2017

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Current Affairs July 13 2017

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Shri J P Nadda launches the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination 2017-22
On July 12, 2017, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda, launched the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) at a function in New Delhi.
i. The Strategic Plan gives year wise elimination targets in various parts of the country depending upon the endemicity of malaria in the next 5 years.
ii. It is to be noted that National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) that was launched last year outlined India’s commitment for eliminating malaria by 2030.

Maharashtra first state to have law against social boycott
President of India has given assent to the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016. Maharashtra has thus become the first state in the country to bring a law making Maharashtra first state to have law against social boycottsocial boycott a crime.
i. In recent times, Maharashtra had witnessed an increased number of incidents of social boycott and violence at the orders of seniors in the caste panchayats, for not adhering to their rules.
ii. The movement, initiated by late Narendra Dabholkar, gained momentum after he was shot dead and the Maharashtra legislature passed the law unanimously in 2016.

Government empowers Army to procure weaponry for short intense wars
The Indian government has given Army vice-chief Sarath Chand full financial powers to procure weaponry for short intense wars following “critical voids” in capabilities of the Army.
Key Notes:
i. The procurement of critical ammunition will be done for most of 46 types of ammunition the Army uses. 
ii. Under the new scheme the procurement of spares will be for 10 different types of equipment.
iii. The Army faces severe shortage in ammunition, mainly for artillery guns, tanks, air defence and certain infantry weapons, which will make it very difficult to fight a short intense war that lasts for 10 to 15 days. 
iv. To make up for the voids, emergency powers were given to the Army vice-chief for three months.
v. The Army also intends to have enough ammunition to fight a 40-days intense war or a full-scale war.
vi. By giving full financial powers to the Army vice-chief, the procurement of such equipment will be done faster.
vii. This will ensure that the time taken in procuring such equipment will reduce tremendously.

DIPP to set up India’s first TISC in Punjab
On July 13, 2017, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, signed an Institutional agreement with the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology in New Delhi to establish India’s first Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC) at Patent Information Centre, Punjab, under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) TISC program.
About World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC) Program:
i. The objective of the TISC is to stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) system in India to foster creativity and innovation, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing social, economic and cultural development.
ii. WIPO’s TISC program provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
iii. Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information, training in database search, on-demand searches (novelty, state-of-the-art and infringement) and monitoring technology are some of the services offered by TISCs.

Training centre for high-speed rail to come up in Gujarat
India is set to get its first high-speed rail training centre at Gandhinagar Gujarat announced on 13th of July 2017.
Key Points:
i. According to Achal Khare, Managing Director, National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) the construction will begin shortly after the foundation-laying ceremony is held in September.
ii. The centre will provide advanced training modules.Training centre for high-speed rail to come up in Gujarat
iii. A maintenance depot for high speed rolling stock is also proposed to be set up at the existing railway facility at Sabarmati.
iv. The estimated cost is Rs 600 crore and the training centre will have a sample track fitted with the overhead electrical systems.
v. It will enable testing of bullet trains that will run on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route.
vi. The training centre is supposed to start operating by 2020 while India’s first bullet train is proposed to come up in 2023.
vii. The training of 4,000 rail engineers has been anticipated before 2020 and approximately 300 of these will be trained in Japan, while the rest will undergo courses at the Gandhinagar centre.
viii. Two third of the land required for the project comes within Gujarat territory, while one-third falls in Maharashtra.
ix. The Civil work on the project which has the NHRSC, the Japan International Consultants for Transportation (JIC), Nippon Koei Co and the Oriental Consultants Global Company Limited as general consultants is expected to start in 2018.
Gujarat GK Facts
♦ National Park: Blackbuck NP, Gir forest NP and Vansda NP
♦ Airport: Sardar Vallabhbhai Airport, Vadodara Airport

Arunachal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands get exemption from SC highway liquor ban
Supreme Court has allowed Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands to get exemption from the court’s ban on sale of liquor within 500 metres of National and State Highways.
Justification for Exemption:
i. Arunachal argued that it had lost 50% of its revenue following the December 15, 2016 ban, earmarking 500 metres alongside highways as liquor-free zones. The State said 80% of its roads are national highways.
ii. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar took note of the geographical quirks of Arunachal Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and concluded that they deserved parity with Sikkim and Meghalaya.
iii. It is to be noted that On March 31, 2017, the north-eastern States of Sikkim and Meghalaya got a full exemption from the 500-m no-liquor zone ban after the court took into consideration their hilly terrain and also the fact that 82% of its area was forest land and over 90% of its liquor shops would be closed if the ban was imposed strictly in its original form.
iv. The ban was ordered to prevent drunk driving, one of the major killers plaguing Indian roads.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

22nd World Petroleum Congress (WPC) International Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey
Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan visited Istanbul in Turkey from 9th to 12th July, 2017 to represent India at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress (WPC) International Conference.
i. Theme for 22nd World Petroleum Congress was ‘Bridges To Our energy Future’.
ii. Mr. Pradhan chaired a ministerial session on the subject ‘Current Economic Strategies in Indian Oil and Gas Sector’ and a plenary session on ‘Supply and Demand Challenges for Oil, Gas and Products’.

To fight ISIS, India grants Rs 3.2 crore aid to Philippines
India has granted USD 500000 to the Philippines to fight ISIS. It has been given for the rehabilitation and relief efforts in war-torn Marawi City.
Key Points:
i. It is the first time that India is sending financial aid to another country affected To fight ISIS, India grants Rs 3.2 crore aid to Philippinesby terrorism.
ii. The Philippines is the only Southeast Asian nation where ISIS has established its presence.
iii. India announced the “immediate assistance” on 11 July 2017 of its embassy in Manila.
iv. Sushma Swaraj offered the assistance to the Philippines during her conversation with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on 6 July 2017.
About Marawi Crisis
The Marawi crisis is an armed conflict in Marawi that started on 23 May 2017.The militants’ main objective is to raise an ISIL flag at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol.
♦ It is the conflict between Philippine government security forces and affiliated militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups.
♦ The Armed Forces of the Philippines on 26 May 2017,  stated that some of the terrorists are foreigners and offer support to the Maute group in Marawi.
♦ Maute group militants attacked Camp Ranao and occupied several buildings in the city, including Marawi City Hall, Mindanao State University, a hospital and the city jail.

Malta becomes world’s 24th country to legalize Gay Marriage
Malta parliament voted to allow same-sex couples to marry on 12th of July 2017.
Key Points:
iMalta, the EU’s smallest nation, becomes the bloc’s 15th member to legalise same-sex unions.
ii. The vote was one of prime minister Joseph Muscat’s first actions following his ele ction victory last month.
iii. The Catholic church has opposed to the bill but gay rights activists hailed the result, rallying outside the premier’s office in downtown Valetta.
iv. A couple hug each other after parliament voted in favour of same-sex marriage in Valletta.
v. Lawmakers gave near-unanimous approval to the bill, which represents a major step for LGBT rights on the island.
viGay marriage has also been approved in Canada and the United States, and in four South American countries, though it remains illegal in most of Africa and Asia.
vii. The Netherlands was the first European country to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001.
About Malta
♦ Capital: Valletta
♦ Currency: Euro

Model United Nations Regional Conference begins in Kathmandu, Nepal
A Model United Nations (MUN) Regional Conference is being held from July 10, 2017 at Kathmandu, Nepal. The conference will conclude on July 14, 2017. Model United Nations, is an educational simulation activity in which students can learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations.
More Details About Model United Nations (MUN) Regional Conference:
i. The event is organised by the US Embassy in partnership with the Youth Thinker’s Society.
ii. Youths from 12 South and Central Asian countries including India are participating in 5 day conference. The basic aim of the MUN is to provide a platform to young minds to channelise energy and resources for a more prosperous and peaceful world.
iii. The delegates are discussing a wide range of issues including environment and water security, promoting human rights of migrant workers, finance security, nuclear non-proliferation and countering youth radicalisation. The event is also providing an opportunity to youths to get familiar with the operations of UN conference and other agencies.
iv. The conference simulate four UN committees-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN), United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
v. Participants are playing the role as delegates representing different countries on specific UN committees and deliberating on various important issues.

BUSINESS

Andhra, Telangana and Gujarat top ease of doing business, says NITI CEO Amitabh Kant
According to the NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat are the three best-performing states in “ease of doing business”.
Key Points:
iTamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam are included worst in the rankings.
ii. The rankings is based on key development and social indicators across states and union territories during a national conference of Chief Secretaries.
iii. Based on availability of electricity in rural households the best-performing states are Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, which have achieved 100% penetration.
iv. The bottom three are Bihar with 46% Nagaland with 45% and Jharkhand with 40%.
v. In nutrition, Kerala, Goa and Tripura are the best-performing states while Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Bihar are the worst.
vi. In terms of reading comprehension Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Kerala come out on top while Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh and Bihar are at the bottom.

BRPL, TERI in MoU to explore opportunities in solar rooftops, e-vehicles
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) have signed an MoU to explore collaboration opportunities for solar rooftop, electric vehicles, energy storage systems, energy efficiency and smart grid technologies on 13th of July 2017.BRPL, TERI in MoU to explore opportunities in solar rooftops, e-vehicles
Key Points:
i. The MoU has been signed for two years.
ii. BRPL has implemented 8 mw solar rooftop in its licenses area and estimates addition of another 20 mw during 2017-18.
iii. The collaboration will help in research and explore newer collaboration opportunities in the domain of emerging technologies.
iv. It will also provide encouragement in rooftop PV sector in NCT of Delhi by mitigating challenges faced by discoms.
v. The two organisations will also identify and finalize different areas of carrying out the studies related to rooftop solar PV development.
vi. It is used for assessment of various issues, including technical and commercial issues, with higher penetration of PV into distribution grid.
vii. This collaboration will help all the stakeholders, including BRPL, TERI and consumers.
viii. It will also help in improving the quality and reliability of power supply.
ix. BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) is a joint venture between Reliance Infrastructure Limited and Government of NCT of Delhi.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Vijaya Bank MD Kishore Sansi gets Skoch award
Kishore Sansi, Managing Director and CEO of Vijaya Bank, has been conferred the ‘Personality of the Year’ award by Skoch Consultancy Services on 13th of July 2017.
Key Points:
i. The award is part of the ‘Skoch Banking and Financial Leadership’ series.
ii. Past recipients of the award include C Rangarajan, Dilip Parekh and Nandan Nilekanion 13th of July 2017.
About Vijaya Bank
♦ MD & CEO: Kishore Sansi
♦ HQ: Bengaluru
♦ Founded on: 1931

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Sandeep Patil named Brand ambassador of Indoor Cricket Team
Former Indian batsman Sandeep Patil has named as the brand ambassador of the Indian Indoor Cricket Team on 12th July 2017.
Key Points:
i. The tournament will be held in partnership with Cricket Australia (CA) and Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
ii. Patil, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning squad, will lead-up to the 10th edition of the World Indoor Cricket Federation (WICF) World Cup.
iii. It will be held from September 16-23 at the Insportz Club in Dubai.
iv. The Indian team is managed and operated by the XLR8 India, an indoor arena in Bengaluru.
v. The 10th edition of the World Cup will include approximately 400 players and officials from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia.
vi. The tournament will also involve players competing in the Open Men’s, Open Women’s, 21 and Under Men’s, and 21 and Under Women’s divisions, with Australia, the reigning world champions, in each of the four divisions.

Iran Air appoints first female CEO to lead airline
Iran has appointed a female CEO to lead its national airline for the first time since it was established in the 1940s.
Key Points:
i. The state-owned Iran has announced on 12th of July 2017 that Farzaneh Sharafbani appointed CEO to lead airline.
ii. Sharafbafi, who is a professor of Aeronautical engineering at the Amir Kabir University of Technology and Shahid Sattari University of Aeronautical Engineering.
iii. She is also the first woman to get a PhD in aerospace  and previously served on the board of Iran Air.
iv. The administration of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was re-elected earlier this year, has appointed women to a number of management posts, breaking with tradition in the Islamic republic.
About Iran:
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani

Justice Vikramajit Sen appointed new BCCC chairperson
The Board of Directors of Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has appointed former Supreme Court judge, Justice Vikramajit Sen, as the new chairperson of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC). Justice Vikramajit Sen will hold the position for the next three years.
Overview of Justice Vikramjit Sen’s Career:
i. Justice Vikramajit Sen, an alumnus of St Xavier’s School (Delhi) and St Stephen’s College (Delhi), earned his degree in Law from Faculty of Law, Delhi University.
ii. After a long tenure as a Judge of the Delhi high court, he was appointed chief justice of Karnataka High Court and elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India in 2012, an office he served till December 2015.
About Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC):
BCCC is an independent self-regulatory body set up by the Board of Directors of Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) in June 2011 to examine content-related complaints relating to all non-news general entertainment channels in India.
♦ Former Chief Justice of Madras and Delhi high courts and former Chairperson of Law Commission of India, Justice A P Shah, was the founding chairperson of BCCC.
♦  BCCC, a 13-member body, has handled more than 40,000 content-related complaints in the six years since its formation.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Google acquires Bangalore-based artificial intelligence firm Halli Labs
Google has acquired Bangalore-based artificial intelligence firm Halli Labs. It focuses on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Key Points:
i. Its primarily focused on mobile and aims to address issues such as low bandwidth and intermittent connectivity, conserving data usage, reducing battery consumption and many more.
ii. The firm which was co-founded by former chief technology officer Stayzilla, Pankaj Gupta, announced the acquisition in a blogpost on 11th of July 2017.
iii. Halli Labs will develop multi-device content, supporting more digital payments systems, and creating localised content among others.
About Google
♦ Google is an American multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products.
♦ These include online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, software, and hardware.
♦ Founded in 1998
♦ Founders: Larry Page Sergey Brin & CEO: Sundar Pichai
♦ Headquarters :California, U.S.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

U.S. Successfully shoots down IRBM target with THAAD
The U.S. military conducted a successful test of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system on 11th of July 2017.
Key Points:
i. The U.S. successfully shoots down a simulated intermediate-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.
ii. The test was carried out in Kodiak, Alaska, and shot down a ballistic missile target U.S. Successfully shoots down IRBM target with THAADfrom an aircraft flying north of Hawaii.
iii. THAAD has proven more successful than the nation’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, which is designed to target an ICBM.
iv. North Korea is widely believed to be developing an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
v. The THAAD system is designed to counter short, medium, and intermediate range missile threats.
vi. In June, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced plans to deliver an additional 52 THAAD interceptors to the U.S. Army between October 2017 and September 2018.
vii. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency released a statement claiming that the latest test bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe.

ENVIRONMENT

NGT declares ‘No-Development Zone’ near river Ganga
On July 13, 2017, the National Green Tribunal declared the area of 100 metres from the edge of the river Ganga as a ‘no-development zone’ in the stretch between Haridwar to Unnao.
List of directions given by National Green Tribunal (NGT) to rejuvenate the Ganga:
i. NGT has prohibited the dumping of waste within 500 metres from the river.
ii. NGT has also declared that an environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 will be imposed on anyone who dumps waste in the Ganga River.
iii. Giving its verdict on a 1985 PIL of noted environment activist M. C. Mehta, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar noted that all authorities concerned should complete various projects including setting up of a sewage treatment plant and cleaning drains within two years.
iv. The NGT directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga or its tributaries.
v. NGT has said the Uttar Pradesh government should be duty-bound to shift tanneries within six weeks, from Jajmau in Kanpur to leather parks in Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate.
vi. The tribunal also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the secretary of the water resources ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials from UP government to oversee implementation of the directions passed in its 543- page verdict.

SPORTS

Mithali Raj creates history, becomes leading run-getter in Women’s ODIs
On July 12, 2017, India Women’ Cricket Team Captain Mithali Raj scripted history as she became the all-time leading run-getter in women’s one-day internationals (ODI).
Accomplishments of Mithali Raj:
i. Mithali, who is leading India at the ICC Women’s World Cupin England, overtook Charlotte Edwards (5992 runs) after scoring her 34th run against Australia in Bristol.
ii. She reached the landmark in her 183rd ODI, taking 164 innings – 16 less than Charlotte.
iii. Mithali broke another record when she became the first player in the women’s game to reach 6000 ODI runs when she hit a six off Kristen Beams.
iv. Mithali made her ODI debut against Ireland in June 1999. So far, Mithali has scored 6028 runs with the help of five centuries and 49 half-centuries.
v. Mithali is only the second player in women’s cricket history to average over 50 in ODIs.

India to host next edition of Theatre Olympics
Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism has announced that 8th edition of the greatest carnival of Theatre in the World will take place in India for the first time ever from February 17 – April 08, 2018.
Key Points:
i. The Minister said that there will be 500 plays & 700 ambience performances from across the world.
ii. The Theatre Olympics, being held in India for the first time and is being organised by National School of Drama, under the Ministry of Culture.
iii. The allied activities like exhibitions, seminars, symposia, interactive discussions and workshops with well-known academicians, authors, actors, designers and directors will be held.
iv. India firmly among the top nations in the world theatre map, the country is all set to host the next edition of the prestigious Theatre Olympics.
v. The Theatre Olympics is the foremost international theatre festival, presenting the finest productions of well-known theatre practitioners from around the world.
vi. The biggest celebration of theatre in the world will take place from February 17 till April 08, 2018 and will be held in 15 cities across India.
vii. The Theatre Olympics 2018 will feature maximum number of Indian & International theatre groups, invitee eminent theatre personalities along with their performances.
viii. The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, as the first international theatre festival.
ix. Japan hosted the second edition in Shizuoka in 1999, followed by Russia in 2001.
x. In 2006 the Olympics were held in Istanbul, Turkey and four years later, in 2010 in Seoul, South Korea.
xi. China hosted them in Beijing in 2014 and in 2016 the 7th Theatre Olympics were held in Wroclaw, Poland.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Coffee-table book on Dalhousie hill station launched
A coffee-table book on Dalhousie has released on 13th of July 2017 by Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy.
Key Points:
i. The book ‘Dalhousie…Through My Eyes’, authored by retired civil servant Kiran Chadha.
ii. Endowed with historical information and lavish images, , who hoped the publication would help enhance tourism in the scenic hill station.
iii. According to Roy there is a Dalhousie Square, which was named after Lord Dalhousie, who hatched his plans while being in the seat of the British empire in India.
iv. He shared interesting tales about the hill station on the occasion, is filled with historical information and lavish images of the town.
v. He said that it will also help in increasing tourism in Dalhousie and Himachal.
vi. The book will serve as a guide and a knowledge storehouse for the next generations to learn more about Dalhousie and its history and see the beautiful images of it and inspire them to travel to the hill town. 
vii. A senior Tourism Ministry official said, more such book should be brought out to popularise our travel destinations.
viii. Dalhousie is a hill station in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh and is situated on five hills.

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