Current Affairs Today May 7 2018

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 INDIAN AFFAIRS

CBDT approves amendment of India-Kuwait tax agreement
On 7th May 2018, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified the protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kuwait.
CBDT approves amendment of India-Kuwait tax agreementCBDT approves amendment of India-Kuwait tax agreement:
i. The protocol updates the provisions in the DTAA for exchange of information according to international standards.
ii. It also enables sharing of information received from Kuwait for tax purposes with other law enforcement agencies, subject to an authorisation of the competent authority of Kuwait and vice versa.
iii. According to the CBDT, the protocol to amend the existing agreement between India and Kuwait was signed in June 2006 for avoidance of double taxation.
iv. Another protocol was signed in January 2017 to prevent fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. This protocol came to effect on 26thMarch 2018.
About Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT):
♦ Chairman – Sushil Chandra
♦ Functions under – Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance

Gandhinagar team takes initial steps to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis
An important peptide that can be used to create a new preventive vaccine against leptospirosis has been found out by researchers from the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, Gandhinagar.
Initial steps to develop a vaccine for leptospirosis:
i. Leptospirosis is a tropical infectious disease. At present there is no preventive vaccine for Leptospirosis.
ii. The researchers used computer-based analysis to learn the whole protein set of the bacteria Leptospira interrogans. They narrowed down to one effective immunogenic protein.
iii. This protein was found in almost all the serovars (different types within a species) of the bacteria. It can be an effective vaccine candidate against most serovars.
iv. The proteome (entire protein set) of a serovar Copenhageni strain was studied using bioinformatics (computational biology analysis) approach.
v. The protein was chosen as the candidate immunogen after physicochemical and structural studies were performed.
Some National Parks in Gujarat:
♦ Gir Forest National Park
♦ Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar
♦ Vansda National Park

NITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in India
NITI Aayog and Google signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to enhance growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem in India.
NITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in IndiaNITI Aayog and Google sign SoI to help grow AI ecosystem in India:
i. The Statement of Intent (SoI) was signed by Ms. Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog and Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and South East Asia, Google.
ii. NITI Aayog will setup a national programme to perform research and development in advanced technologies like AI.
iii. NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Portal for wide deployment and use of AI.
iv. Under this program, Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program. These startups will be mentored and coached by Google and its affiliates so that AI can be utilized in a better way in their respective business models.
v. As a part of this program, Indian researchers, scholars and university faculty will be funded for AI-based research.
vi. Also, Google will launch online training courses on AI for students, graduates and engineers.
vi. NITI Aayog and Google will conduct a AI/ML hackathon for solving major challenges in agriculture, education, healthcare, financial inclusion, transportation, mobility etc.
vii. This hackathon might use Kaggle, a global platform, to engage international participation.
viii. Google along with NITI Aayog, will conduct hands-on training programs to familiarise policymakers and technical experts in governments on AI tools, and their usage in governance.
ix. Google and NITI Aayog will work on the following initiatives:

  • Organise trainings for relevant government functionaries to familiarize them with open source AI tools for bringing effective governance.
  • Offering grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting advanced research in AI/ML in India.
  • Conducting AI/ML study jams for students and developers based on Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) on basics of machine learning
  • Incubating Indian AI/ML startups in a program where they will be mentored by Google to better utilise AI in their respective business models.
  • Organise a Hackathon on using AI/ML and open data sets to solve challenges in agriculture, education, healthcare, etc. in India.

About NITI Aayog:
♦ CEO – Amitabh Kant
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Israel withdraws from race for UN Security Council seat
On 4th May 2018, Israel announced its withdrawal from the contest for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the 2019-2020 term.
Israel withdraws from race for UN Security Council seatIsrael withdraws from race for UN Security Council seat
i. Israel has been competing with Germany and Belgium for one out of the two seats assigned to the Western European and Others Group.
ii. The UNSC has five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members who are elected for a two-year term.
iii. Candidates for non-permanent seats on the council are selected by regional groups.

BANKING & FINANCE

India signs 200 million US Dollar Loan Deal with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) for 315 districts across all states/UTs
On 7th May 2018, Government of India signed a loan deal worth $ 200 million with the World Bank for the National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan).
India signs 200 million US Dollar Loan Deal with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan) for 315 districts across all states/UTsIndia signs 200 million US Dollar Loan Deal with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan):
i. This loan will help India to reach its goal of reducing stunting in children of the age 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
ii. The POSHAN (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan was launched by Prime Minister on 8th March 2018 at Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
iii. POSHAN Abhiyaan’s main objective is gradual increase of the interventions supported by the World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in India for a 3-year period.
iv. This loan will support the first phase scale up to 315 districts and union territories (UTs) in India.
v. The coverage and quality of ICDS nutrition services for pregnant and lactating women and children under 3 years of age will be improved.
vi. The project will comprise investments in improving the skills and capacities of ICDS staff and community nutrition workers, developing mechanisms of community mobilization and behavior change communication, improving systems of citizen engagement and grievance redress and setting up mobile technology based tools for better monitoring and management of services for enhanced reach to beneficiaries during the critical 1,000 day window for nutrition impact.
vii. The project will also ensure convergence of all nutrition related schemes and offer performance based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, with focus on results.
About World Bank:
♦ President – Jim Yong Kim
♦ Headquarters – Washington, D.C., U.S.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Fiji’s Mahendra Chaudhry chosen for Krishna Menon Award
Fiji’s Indian-origin former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has been selected for the V K Krishna Menon Award for his contribution to the Indian diaspora.
Fiji's Mahendra Chaudhry chosen for Krishna Menon AwardFiji’s Mahendra Chaudhry chosen for Krishna Menon Award:
i. The award was announced by the director of V K Krishna Menon Institute Cyriac Maprayil recently.
ii. Mahendra Chaudhry is the leader of the Fiji Labour Party. He became Fiji’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister on 19 May 1999. But he had to step down exactly one year later.
iii. Mahendra Chaudhry’s ancestors are from Rohtak, Haryana. His paternal grandfather went to Fiji in 1902. He worked in sugarcane plantations.
Some important wildlife sanctuaries in Haryana:
♦ Nahar Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Khaparwas Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Vladimir Putin is sworn in for fourth term in Kremlin ceremony
On May 7 2018 , Vladimir Putin became Russia’s president for a historic fourth term at a ceremony Kremlin. He will extend his power to another six years.
Vladimir Putin is sworn in for fourth term in Kremlin ceremonyQuick facts about Vladimir Putin
i. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born on 7 October 1952 in Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg). He studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975.
ii. The following things are Putin’s presidential terms

  • 2000–2004: First presidential term
  • 2004–2008: Second presidential term
  • 2008–2012: Second premiership
  • 2012–2018: Third presidential term

AQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Nokia acquires US Internet of Things start-up SpaceTime Insight
On 7th May 2018, Nokia said that, it has acquired SpaceTime Insight, a California-based startup, to expand its Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio and IoT analytics capabilities.

Nokia acquires US Internet of Things start-up SpaceTime InsightNokia acquires SpaceTime Insight:
i. SpaceTime Insight offers machine learning-powered analytics and IoT applications for several world’s largest transportation, energy and utilities organisations. It has offices in India, Canada, UK and Japan.
ii. Nokia did not reveal the terms of the deal. It said that the acquisition will enhance the development of the company’s IoT offerings.
iii. Rob Schilling, who had been CEO of SpaceTime, will become the head of Nokia’s IoT unit.
About Nokia:
♦ Headquarters – Espoo,Finland
♦ CEO – Rajeev Suri

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO develops atomic clock for the indigenous navigation satellites
On May 7 2018, Indian Space Research Organization has developed an atomic clock to be used in navigation satellites to measure clear-cut location data.Currently ISRO imports atomic clocks from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium for  navigation satellites.
ISRO develops atomic clock for the indigenous navigation satellitesi. The desi atomic clock is being developed by the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad.This clock is currently undergoing a series of qualification tests. Once it successfully clears all tests, the desi atomic clock will be used in an experimental navigation satellite to test its accuracy and durability in space.
ii. ISRO unable to get the imported atomic clock’s design and technology.But desi clock has been developed based on requirements and will compete imported atomic clock.
iii. All of the seven navigation satellites of India as part of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NaVIC have three imported Rubdium atomic clocks.
iv. The rubidium atomic clocks from Europe started failing on the first navigation satellite, IRNSS-1A, around 2016, soon after ISRO put the last and seventh satellite in orbit.
NAVIC
i. NAVIC was approved by the government nearly 12 years ago at a cost of Rs 1,420 crore to establish an indigenous satellite based navigation system to provide position, navigation and timing services over the Indian landmass and surrounding region extending up to 1,500 km.
ii. Though the indigenous navigation system is very much operational, it is not as popular as the American GPS in the country because the receiver and mobile chipset needed to access the desi system have not been commercialised.

Lunar rock points to hidden water reserves on Moon
Scientists have discovered a mineral named Moganite, in a lunar meteorite that points to abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the Moon, which can be used for future human exploration.
Moganite:
i. Researchers from Tohoku University in Japan discovered the mineral, named moganite, in a lunar meteorite in a desert in northwest Africa.
ii. Moganite is a crystal of silicon dioxide. It is known to form on Earth in certain circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids.
iii. Researchers say that the mineral formed on the surface of the Moon in the area called Procellarum Terrane, as water present in lunar dirt evaporated due to exposure to sunlight.
iv. Researchers estimate that water content in the lunar soil under the surface could be nearly 0.6 per cent.
Some important lakes in India:
♦ Longest lake in India – Vembanad Lake, Kerala
♦ Highest Lake in India – Cholamu Lake, Sikkim

ENVIRONMENT

Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall
Researchers have said that, the dense vegetation in the Western Ghats determines the amount of rainfall that Tamil Nadu gets during the summer monsoon.
Western Ghats forest cover vital for Tamil Nadu’s South-West monsoon rainfall:
i. A team of researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has discovered that dense forests of the Western Ghats contribute to nearly 40% of moisture to the southwest monsoon rainfall in Tamil Nadu in the normal monsoon years.
ii. The average contribution is 25-30%. In monsoon deficit years, the contribution increases to 50%.
iii. The study says that, the forests of Western Ghats contribute to 3 mm rainfall per day in August and September on many regions in Tamil Nadu and 1 mm per day in June and July.
iv. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. It also said that deforestation of the Western Ghats led to 0.25 degree C increase in surface temperature across Tamil Nadu.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu:
♦ Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary

 SPORTS

Indian shooters Gagan Narang, Pooja Ghatkar bags silver medal in mixed event at Czech shooting meet
On May 6 2018, Olympic medalist Gagan Narang and Pooja Ghatkar bagged the silver medal in the mixed event at Grand Prix of Liberation international shooting competition held in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Indian shooters Gagan Narang, Pooja Ghatkar bags silver medal in mixed event at Czech shooting meeti. Having topped the qualification with 833.2 points, with Pooja shooting 413.5 and Gagan 419.7, the Indian pair came close to overtaking Jurate Cesynaite and Karolis Girulis for the gold, before missing the target by 1.3 point.
ii. P. Shri Nivetha and Amanpreet Singh claimed the mixed air pistol silver.

India finish on top with 20 gold medals at 3rd South Asian Junior Athletics Championships
On 6th May 2018, India finished on top with 20 gold, 22 silver and 8 bronze medals, at the 3rd South Asian Junior Athletics Championships (SAJAC) at Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
India finish on top with 20 gold medals at 3rd South Asian Junior Athletics ChampionshipsIndia finish on top with 20 gold medals:
i. Host Sri Lanka won 12 gold medals 10 silver and 19 bronze medals and occupied 2nd placePakistan won 1 silver and 1 bronze medal and secured the third place.
ii. The Indian junior athletes also created five new meet records (NMR) on the final day of the championships.
iii. In girls triple jump, Priyadarshini Suresh won the gold medal with new meet records (NMR) of 12.90m.
iv. In girls javelin throw event Sanjana Choudhary came first with 48.08 (NMR). Among girls, Arpandeep Kaur won gold medal with a new meet record throw of 48.06m in the discus throw event.
v. In boy’s shot put, Ashish Bhalothia created a new record and won the gold medal with a 18.53m effort.
vi. Triple jumper Kamalraj Kanagaraj won gold medal with a record jump of 15.96m.
vii. Indian boy’s 4x400m relay team won silver medal with 3:09.33 timing. Girl’s 4x400m relay team won silver medal with 3:46.08 timing.
List of other medalists from India is as follows:
Girls:

  • Punitha Ramasamy (gold, long jump, 5.95m)
  • Ajay (gold, discus throw, 50.11m)
  • Ashish Bhalothia (bronze, discus throw, 46.52m)
  • Pragyan Sahu (silver, 100m hurdles, 14.98s)
  • Chaitrali Gujar (silver, 100m, 12.24s)
  • Subha Venkatesan (silver, 400m, 55.18s)
  • Rachna Gujar (bronze, 400m, 55.70s)
  • Poonam Sonune (silver, 1500m, 4:36.65)

Boys:

  • Gurjeet Singh (silver, high jump, 2.00m)
  • Rishabh Rishiwar (silver, long jump, 7.43m)
  • Kunal Choudhary (gold, 110m hurdles, 14.50s)
  • Mohammed Fias (silver, 110m hurdles, 14.55s)
  • Prajwal Ravi (gold, 100m, 10.81s)
  • Akash Kumar (bronze, 100m, 10.89s)
  • Ankit (gold, 1500m, 3:51.52)
  • Ajit Kumar (3:53.45)

Some important stadiums in India:
♦ Chennai Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium – Tamil Nadu
♦ A. Chidambaram Stadium – Tamil Nadu
♦ MGR Race Course Stadium – Tamil Nadu

IMPORTANT DAYS

The Border Roads Organisation to celebrate its 58th Raising Day on May 7
Border Roads Organisation (BRO) will celebrate its Raising Day on May 7 every year. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) will celebrate completing 58 years of glorious service to the nation.
The Border Roads Organisation to celebrate its 58th Raising Day on May 7i. A leader in the arena of infrastructural development will celebrate in the border areas of the country.
ii. BRO’s ideology ‘Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam’ has been implemented in friendly neighbouring countries through different project.
iii. BRO also deeds to investigate new frontiers while it undertakes systematic modernisation of its construction techniques, with its focus remaining on enhancing productivity and quality construction.
Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
It develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries. It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
♦ Director General :  Lt. Gen.Harpal Singh
♦ Headquarters :  New Delhi
♦ Motto : Creates, Connects and Cares ‘Shramena Sarvam Sadhyam’
♦ Founder : Jawaharlal Nehru