Current Affairs Today May 4 2018

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 INDIAN AFFAIRS

Visit of First Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia to India
Mr. Ivica Dacic, first Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia was on an official visit to India from 1st to 4th May, 2018.
Visit of First Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia to IndiaHighlights of Mr. Ivica Dacic’s India visit:
i. On May 3, 2018,  Mr. Ivica Dacic  held a meeting with Union External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj. During the meeting, both the ministers discussed range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
ii. During the meeting, India-Serbia bilateral cooperation in various sectors including trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture and food processing, information technology, Defence, culture and tourism and health and pharmaceuticals was also discussed.
iii. Both the ministers also signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of culture, sports, youth and mass media.
iv. During the course of this visit, Mr. Ivica Dacic also called upon Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu, delivered a speech on ‘Serbia in the region, Europe and the World’ at the Indian Council of World Affairs and visited Agra.
Quick Facts about Serbia:
♦ Capital – Belgrade
♦ Current Prime Minister – Ana Brnabic
♦ Currency – Serbian dinar

MHA launches online security clearance for visas to attend conferences
In a bid to enhance ease of getting visas, Union Ministry of Home Affairs launched online “event clearance system” on May 2, 2018, aimed at granting security clearance to foreigners wanting to visit India to attend conferences, seminars or workshops.
MHA launches online security clearance for visas to attend conferencesDetails about “event clearance system”:
i. Under this system, Indian missions abroad would issue conference visa to foreign nationals or delegates intending to attend such events organized by central and state governments, central educational institutions, public sector undertakings, public funded universities, private institutions or NGOs.
ii. The salient feature of ‘event clearance system’ is that, the whole process is paperless and standardized as various officials involved in the process can access the online application and documents and take decisions accordingly.
iii. However, Indian mission abroad would be required to obtain prior consent from the Home Ministry before granting conference visas to participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan or foreigners of Pakistani origin or “stateless persons”.

27th GST council meeting discusses change in GST rate for digital transactions
27th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was held on May 4, 2018.
Issues discusses at 27th GST council meeting:
i. With a view to incentivise promotion of digital payments, a proposal of a concession of 2% in GST rate on B2C supplies (for which payment is made through cheque or digital mode, subject to a ceiling of Rs. 100 per transaction) was discussed.
ii. A Group of Ministers from State Governments will be setup to look into this proposal and make recommendations, before the next GST Council meeting.
iii. It was discussed to impose a sugar cess of maximum Rs 3 on each kg sold by sugar companies, over and above the 5% GST charged on sugar. This move is expected to raise Rs 1540 crore which can be paid to cane farmers on behalf of mills.
iv. A Group of Ministers from State Governments will be setup to look into this proposal as well and make recommendations within two weeks.

‘Go to Village’ mission launched in Manipur
On May 1, 2018, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh launched ‘Go to Village’ mission throughout the state.
'Go to Village' mission launched in ManipurInformation about ‘Go to Village’ mission, Manipur:
i. Manipur State Government’s ‘Go to Village’ mission is aimed at identifying the eligible and deserving beneficiaries in every corner of the state and delivering government services at their doorstep.
ii. The mission has been launched in 60 villages of all the 60 Assembly constituencies.
iii.A review meeting to assess the requirements and data collected from the mission activities will also be conducted.
Quick Facts about Manipur:
Capital – Imphal
Current Chief Minister – N. Biren Singh
Important National Park – Sirohi National Park

Pakyong airport in Sikkim to become the 100th functional airport in India
On May 3, 2018, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha stated that Pakyong airport in Sikkim, which is scheduled to be commissioned in June 2018, will be the 100th operational airport in the country.
About Pakyong airport in Sikkim:
i. Currently, Sikkim is the only state in India that does not have an airport.
ii. Post commissioning, low-cost airline SpiceJet will be operating flights to Pakyong in Sikkim from Kolkata under Civil Aviation Ministry’s regional connectivity scheme, UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik).
iii. Under UDAN, 25 airports have been added to the aviation network, 13 airports are being upgraded and 23 airports and helipads have been awarded to handle helicopter operations.
Quick facts about UDAN Scheme:
i. Civil Aviation Ministry launched Regional Connectivity Scheme ‘UDAN’ in October 2016.
ii. It is aimed towards making flying a reality for common people residing in Tier-II and Tier-III towns and thereby developing the regional aviation market.

4th Regional Conference on ‘Futuristic, Resilient and Digital Infrastructure’ concludes
4th Regional Conference on ‘Futuristic, Resilient and Digital Infrastructure’ concluded in Bengaluru on May 4, 2018.
Highlights of 4th Regional Conference on ‘Futuristic, Resilient and Digital Infrastructure’:
i. The conference was organized by Union Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).
ii. This two-day conference was attended by experts from various fields, representatives of civil society organizations and academia.
iii. Discussions at the conference focused on existing challenges as well as opportunities in the context of need for Futuristic, Resilient and Digital Infrastructure, Resource Mobilisation and Emerging Challenges.
iv. Digital Infrastructure has been recognised as the ‘infrastructure for infrastructure’.
v. This conference was a lead-up event to the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), scheduled to be held on 25th and 26th June 2018 in Mumbai. 3rd Annual Meeting of AIIB will be hosted by the Government of India.

EAM’s (External Affairs Ministry) Interactive Session with the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States on Act East Policy
On 4th May 2018, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj chaired an Interactive Session on the Act East Policy with the Chief Ministers of northeastern states in New Delhi.
EAM’s (External Affairs Ministry) Interactive Session with the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States on Act East PolicyEAM’s Interactive Session with the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern States on Act East Policy:
i. Chief Ministers Sarbanand Sonowal (Assam), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), N Biren Singh (Manipur), Biplab Deb (Tripura) and Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya) etc. took part in the meeting.
ii. The interactive session was organized as part of government’s initiative to keep northeastern part of India at the “heart” of India’s Act East Policy.
iii. Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (retd) V K Singh, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (East) Preeti Saran etc. also participated in the meeting.
iv. Following the successful ASEAN India Commemorative Summit that was held on 25 January 2018, this meeting will further enhance India’s engagement with ASEAN and India’s extended neighbourhood.
About ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations):
♦ Secretary General – Lim Jock Hoi
♦ Secretariat – Jakarta

HRD Ministry notifies 75 National Resource Centres (NRCs) for online refresher programmes for Higher Education faculty through SWAYAM
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched an initiative of online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty using the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) platform SWAYAM.
HRD Ministry notifies 75 National Resource Centres (NRCs) for online refresher programmes for Higher Education faculty through SWAYAMProfessional development of higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM:
i.In the first phase, 75 discipline-specific National Resource Centres have been chosen to prepare online training material.
ii.The training material will be focused on latest developments and new & emerging trends.
iii.A wide range of institutions like IISc, IITs, NITs, State Universities, IIITs, Open Universities etc. have been identified as NRCs.
iv.These NRCs cover disciplines like: Social Sciences, Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Design & Manufacturing, Humanities, Language Teaching, Commerce, Management, Education Planning and Administration, Public Policy, Leadership & Governance, Library & Information Science, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Assessment and Evaluation, Pedagogy and research methods , cutting edge areas of Nano-sciences, Internet of  Things, etc.
v.This initiative enables all in-service teachers to access the online refresher course. The NRCs will develop the Refresher Module by 15th June each year.
vi.The training materials will be uploaded and will be available through SWAYAM to all the teachers from 1st October each year.
vii.Based on the response, the course could be repeated in the following January. NRC will announce the list of the faculty who have been certified by 31st December. Regulations will be issued by UGC for Career Progression.
About University Grants Commission (UGC):
Chairman – D.P. Singh
Headquarters – New Delhi

NWIC setup as a single window source of updated data on water resources
National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) has been recently set up by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation at New Delhi, after approval of the Cabinet.
NWIC setup as a single window source of updated data on water resources:
i. NWIC will be a repository of nation-wide water resources data and will function as a Subordinate Office under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
ii. It will be headed by a Joint Secretary level officer. A “Water Resources Information System” (WRIS) will be developed and updated in public domain for effective integrated water resources management.
iii. This will also ensure scientific assessment, monitoring, modelling and Decision Support System (DSS) and Integrated water resource Management.
iv. NWIC would offer a ‘Single Window’ source of updated data on water resources and related themes. Also, it would offer value added products and services to stake holders for its management and sustainable development.
v. Upto date water data will be provided on web based India Water Resources Information System (India-WRIS) on a GIS platform in Public Domain.
vi. Also, the centre will collaborate with top research institutes in India and other countries to offer technical support to other central and state organizations related to water, emergency response for hydrological extremes.
Some important lakes in India:
♦ Chapanala Lake – Assam
♦ Haflong Lake – Assam
♦ Son Beel Lake – Assam

GIS technology to strengthen Namami Gange Programme
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has involved Survey of India to strengthen the Ganga rejuvenation task by using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.
GIS technology to strengthen Namami Gange Programme GIS technology to strengthen Namami Gange Programme:
i. Survey of India is the oldest scientific department in India. It was established in 1767. Four new projects worth Rs. 531.24 crore were approved recently in the 11th Executive Committee meeting of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) chaired by Rajeev Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG.
ii. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) works to strengthen planning and implementation at national/state/local level through the project that has been approved at a cost of Rs. 86.84 crore.
iii. The project involves use of Digital Elevation Model (DEM) technology for accurate data collection. DEM technology also helps to identify Critical hotspots.
iv. GIS technology will ensure decentralization for Namami Gange programme. The collected data and actions taken by government can be shared with public through geo portals and mobile apps.
v. It will also enable people to send feedback. Outlet of sewerage and other discharges from all units – industrial, commercial and other institutions will be mapped from the source outlet to the public drainage network for effective discharge management.
vi. The high resolution GIS enabled data will help to regulate the protected and regulatory zones along the banks of river.
vii. National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved a project to strengthen State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) of 5 main stem Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
viii.The laboratories identified for this project will be equipped with advanced instruments and equipments and scientific personnel. This project has been approved at a cost of Rs. 85.97 for five years.
ix.Two projects worth Rs. 358.43 crore have been approved to develop sewerage infrastructure in Hooghly-Chinsurah and Maheshtala municipalities of West Bengal.
x. These projects will curb around 56 MLD sewage water from directly merging into river Ganga.
xi. As a part of this project, construction of interception and diversion sewer network (27 km), one STP (26 MLD), rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and operation and maintenance for 15 years, will be carried out in Maheshtala of Greater Kolkata at a cost of Rs. 198.43 crore.
xii. Construction of one STP (29.3 MLD), developing of 20 km of sewer line, construction of 2 pumping stations, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and operation and maintenance for 15 years in Hooghly-Chinsurah will be performed at a cost of Rs. 160 crore.
xiii.Both the projects have been approved to be done under Hybrid Annuity based PPP model.
About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):
♦ Director General – Rajiv Ranjan Mishra
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

POWERGRID sets Capex Target of 25,000 Crore for 2018-19
POWERGRID has set Capex target for the year 2018-19 as Rs. 25,000 crore.
POWERGRID sets Capex Target of 25,000 Crore for 2018-19:
i. Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) has signed a MoU for the year 2018-19 with Ministry of Power.
ii. The MoU was signed by Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of Power and I. S. Jha, Chairman and Managing Director, POWERGRID.
iii. The MoU specifies several targets for POWERGRID  to be achieved by during FY 2018-19. Capex target for 2018-19 has been fixed at Rs. 25,000 crore.
iv. Other targets mentioned in the MoU are parameters related to human resources, project management, R&D and innovation and other efficiency and operational performance parameters.
About POWERGRID:
♦ Chairman and Managing Director – I. S. Jha
♦ Corporate Office – Gurgaon, Haryana

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India among top 5 defence spenders: SIPRI Report
i. As per a report released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is among top 5 defence spenders in the world for the year 2017.
ii. In 2017, India’s Defence expenditure stood at $63.9 billion, marking a 5.5 per cent increment over the previous year. India has replaced France at the No. 5 spot.
iii. With $610 billion defence expenditure in 2017, United State (US) retained its position as world’s largest spender. US accounted for 35 percent of global military expenditures……………………………………….. Click here to Read More

RankCountryDefence Spending
1United States$610 billion
2China$228 billion
3Saudi Arabia$69.4 billion
4Russia$66.3 billion
5India$63.9 billion
6France$57.8 billion
7United Kingdom$47.2 billion
8Japan$45.4 billion
9Germany$44.3 billion
10South Korea$39.2 billion

FDI Confidence Index 2018: India ranks 11th
India has ranked 11th on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index 2018 released by global consultancy firm A T Kearney.

FDI Confidence Index 2018: India ranks 11thHighlights of FDI Confidence Index 2018:
i. India’s 11th rank on FDI Confidence Index 2018 marks a drop of three places as compared to 8th rank in 2017.
ii. The report outlined that Indian Government’s demonetisation move in November 2016 and roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017 may have deterred foreign investors for short term.
iii. However, investors based in the Americas and those engaged in industry sector consider India as their preferred destination on account of Indian Government’s inclination to have closer ties with US and its Make in India initiative aimed at boosting investment in manufacturing sector.
iv. Besides, the report has acknowledged that decision to abolish Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) had a positive impact on India’s attractiveness.
v. During April-December 2017 period, FDI in India grew by a marginal 0.27 per cent to USD 35.95 billion.
vi. US has topped the FDI Confidence Index 2018.
FDI Confidence Index 2018 – Top 5:

1United States
2Canada
3Germany
4United Kingdom
5China

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Kotak Securities launches Free Intraday Trading facility
Kotak Securities Limited, the stock broking and distribution arm of the Kotak Mahindra Group has launched ‘Free Intraday Trading’, a facility that allows financial market traders to do intra-day trading without paying any brokerage per trade.
Kotak Securities launches Free Intraday Trading facilitySalient features of Kotak Securities’ ‘Free Intraday Trading’ facility:
i. In financial parlance, intraday trading refers to the activity of buying and selling a security (equity, currency, commodity) on the same day.
ii. Under Kotak Securities’ ‘Free Intraday Trading’ facility, traders can do intra-day trades across cash, future and options segments at an annual subscription of Rs.999.
iii. As a value added service, individuals availing ‘Free Intraday Trading’ facility will get free access to Kotak Securities research and technology platform for the execution of their transactions.
Quick Facts about Kotak Securities:
♦ Founded in – 1994
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Subsidiary of – Kotak Mahindra Bank

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Nobel Literature Prize Will Not Be Awarded This Year
On 4th May 2018, Swedish Academy said that, the Nobel Prize in literature will not be awarded this year due to sex-abuse allegations and other issues.
Nobel Literature Prize Will Not Be Awarded This YearNobel Literature Prize Will Not Be Awarded This Year:
i. The Swedish Academy said that, the Nobel Literature Prize 2018 will be given in 2019. The Nobel Literature Prize is postponed for the first time in 70 years.
ii. The Swedish Academy has previously reserved the prize on seven occasions in: 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1936 and 1949.
iii. The Swedish Academy has been in stress due to the #MeToo campaign since November 2017.
iv. The Academy has been alleged of sexual misconduct by the husband of one of its members.
About Swedish Academy:
♦ Location – Stockholm
♦ Established – 1786

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Jagdish Mukhi sworn-in as acting Manipur Governor
On May 2, 2018, Jagdish Mukhi was sworn in as the acting governor of Manipur.
Jagdish Mukhi sworn-in as acting Manipur GovernorJagdish Mukhi – Acting Governor of Manipur:
i. Mr. Mukhi, currently holds the office of Governor of Assam 
ii. He will hold office as acting Governor of Manipur in the absence of incumbent Governor Najma Heptullah.
iii. Diginitaries who attended Mr. Mukhi’s swearing-in ceremony include Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar Singh, Manipur Assembly Speaker Y Khemchand Singh and Rajya Sabha MP from Manipur Ksh Bhabananda Singh.

Justice A K Mittal Appointed Acting Chief Justice Of Punjab And Haryana HC
Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal has been appointed as the acting chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Justice A K Mittal Appointed Acting Chief Justice Of Punjab And Haryana HCJustice A K Mittal Appointed Acting Chief Justice Of Punjab And Haryana HC:
i. Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal replaces chief justice Shivax Jal Vazifdar who retired recently.
ii. The Law Ministry issued a notification appointing Justice Mittal as the acting chief justice with effect from 4 May 2018.
iii. Supreme Court collegium had recommended Justice Krishna Murari to head the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
iv. If government agrees with this recommendation, Justice Krishna Murari will head the Punjab and Haryana HC soon.
Chief justices of some high courts in India:
♦ Kerala High Court – Antony Dominic (Acting)
♦ Calcutta High Court – Jyotirmay Bhattacharya (Acting)
♦ Karnataka High Court – H. G. Ramesh (Acting)

Indian-American Deepa Ambekar Appointed Interim Court Judge In New York
Indian-American Deepa Ambekar has been appointed as interim judge to the civil court of New York City, United States.
Indian-American Deepa Ambekar Appointed Interim Court Judge In New York:
i. Deepa Ambekar has become the second Indian-American woman judge in New York after Raja Rajeswari.
ii. Deepa Ambekar is 41 years old. She has been appointed to Civil Court and will serve in Criminal Court.
iii. She has worked with the New York City Council for three years as Senior Legislative Attorney and Counsel to the Committee on Public Safety.
iv.She was a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division, and a litigation associate at a private firm.
Some important stadiums in India:
♦ Dhyan Chand National Stadium – Delhi
♦ Ambedkar Stadium – Delhi
♦ Chhatrasal Stadium – Delhi

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

China launches “APSTAR-6C” satellite to provide transmission across Asia-Pacific region
On 3rd May 2018, China launched a new communication satellite named “APSTAR-6C” at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China.
APSTAR-6C:
i. APSTAR-6C was sent into orbit by the Long March-3B carrier rocket. This was the 273rd mission of the Long March rocket series.
ii. APSTAR-6C satellite and Long March-3B carrier rocket were developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
iii. The user of the satellite is APT Satellite Co. Ltd based in Hong Kong. The satellite will offer TV transmission, communication, Internet and multimedia services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region.
iv. The APSTAR-6C is based on China’s DFH-4 satellite platform. It will replace APT Satellite’s sin-orbit APSTAR-6 satellite.
Some important international airports in India:
♦ Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport – Patna, Bihar
♦ Indira Gandhi International Airport –New Delhi, Delhi
♦ Dholera International Airport – Dholera, Gujarat

OBITUARY

Freedom Fighter, Writer Keyur Bhushan Passes Away
On 3rd May 2018, freedom fighter and writer Keyur Bhushan died at a private hospital, in Chhattisgarh.
Freedom Fighter, Writer Keyur Bhushan Passes AwayDeath of Keyur Bhushan:
i. Keyur Bhushan was 90 years old. He participated in the 1942 Quit India movement. In the 1980s, he made a footmarch to promote peace in Punjab.
ii. He wrote novels, collections of short stories and poems. He also edited ‘Sapthahik Chhattisgarh’ and ‘Antyoday’. He represented Raipur constituency in the Lok Sabha in the 1990s.
Some National Parks in Chhattisgarh:
♦ Kanger Ghati National Park
♦ Indravati National Park

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Firefighters’ Day – May 4
On 4th May 2018, International Firefighters’ Day was observed all over the world.
International Firefighters’ Day – May 4International Firefighters’ Day:
i. International Firefighters’ Day (IFFD) is observed to honour the sacrifices made by firefighters to safeguard their communities and environment. It is observed every year on 4th May.
ii. One of the most important symbols of International Fire Fighters Day is the red and blue ribbon.
iii. The IFFD ribbons are made of colours that represent main elements that firefighters work with – red for fire and blue for water.
iv. On the first Sunday of May at noon local time every year, fire sirens sound for 30 seconds followed by a minute’s silence in memory of all firefighters who have sacrificed their life during duty. This is called the “Sound Off“.
Some important international boundary lines:
♦ 26 Parallel North – Western Sahara & Mauritania
♦ 31 Parallel North – Iraq & Iran
♦ 35 Parallel North – US it serves as border b/w Tennessee/Mississippi, Tennnessee/Alabama, Tennesse/Georgia, North Carolina/Georgia