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VAJRA faculty scheme – 260 applicants for government’s visiting researcher programme
Central Government has received 260 applications from foreign scientists for Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty scheme. Out of these 260 applications, 70 will be shortlisted for this year.
i. The department intends to select 1,000 scientists every year under this scheme.
ii. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary of Department of Science and Technology, has stated that screening of 260 applicants will start in October 2017 and the shortlisted scientists will begin work by December 2017…………………Click here to Read more
Gujarat becomes first state to slash VAT on petrol, diesel; cuts taxes by 4 per cent
On October 2017, Gujarat state government announced a 4 per cent reduction in VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel. It has thereby become the first state to cut VAT on fuel.More Details:
i. On account of this decision, petrol will get cheaper by Rs 2.93 and diesel by Rs 2.72 across Gujarat from the midnight of Tuesday and Wednesday.
ii. Recently, after cutting central excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 2, Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had asked the state governments to cut VAT on the fuel products by 5 per cent citing that they are the biggest beneficiaries of the revenues generated from petrol and diesel.
iii. Out of the total levy on fuel, state governments get all of the VAT collection along with 42 per cent of the central excise collections.
iv. The remaining portion of excise collections is used by Central Government in centrally sponsored schemes.
Government approved Rs 2,000 crore to set up Aadhaar units in post offices
With an aim to gradually phase out private contractors from the data collection process in Aadhaar enrolment, Central Government has approved Rs 2,000 crore for setting up Aadhaar centres in post offices.
Aadhaar Enrolment and Updation facilities in Post Offices:
i. This decision has been taken as Government received several complaints against private vendors such as petty corruption and attempted frauds. Moreover Supreme Court too had highlighted reports of alleged leakage of Aadhaar data.
ii. By March 31, 2017, Government will set up Aadhaar enrolment and updation facilities in around 15,000 post offices.
iii. The centres will have machines approved by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and trained personnel who will be responsible for the operations.
iv. Government believes that post offices will considerably extend the reach of UID, particularly in remote areas.
President of India inaugurates India water Week 2017
On 10th October 2017, the President of India, Mr.Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated India Water Week 2017, at Vigyan Bhavan, in New Delhi.India Water Week 2017:
i. Theme of India Water Week 2017 is ‘Water and Energy for Inclusive Growth’. It is held from 10thto 14thOctober, 2017.
ii. India Water Week 2017 is a platform to discuss ideas with global-level decision makers, politicians, researchers and entrepreneurs in the field of water resources for mutual benefit.
iii. A multi-disciplinary conference is held to discuss the following topics:
1.Water, Food and Energy Security-Essential Requirement for Sustainable Development
2.Water for Inclusive Growth
3.Sustainable Energy Development-Key for All Round Economic Growth
4.Water and Society
iv. Also exhibition showcasing the technologies, latest developments and solutions available for the areas in, water and energy is held.
About India Water Week 2017:
♦ Organised by – Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
♦ Date – 10th– 14th October 2017
House panel headed by Shashi Tharoor to look into China-India relations
On 10th October 2017, the Standing Committee on External Affairs headed by Shashi Tharoor, Congress member of the Lok Sabha, was formed to examine the India-China relations.
Standing Committee to examine India-China relations:
i. The Standing Committee on External Affairs will examine the issue of cooperation between India and China in international organisations.
ii. This move has been made after Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the resumed road-construction by the Chinese near the Doklam plateau.
iii. The standing committee would also look at India’s “Relations with Myanmar and the Rohingya situation”, the country’s “Act East Policy, including BIMSTEC”, the “Situation in the Far East: Japan and North Korea”, India’s engagement with SAARC countries, global terrorism and voting rights for NRIs.
♦ Country – claimed by both Bhutan and China
♦ Location – between Tibet’s Chumbi Valley and Bhutan’s Ha Valley
Himachal Pradesh implements Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS)
On 9th October 2017, Himachal Pradesh government implemented the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS), in Shimla.
Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS):
i. SCHIS has been introduced to provide easy access to curative old age related health care services through additional cover.
ii. The scheme would increase coverage of Rs.30,000 per senior citizen to all existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) smart card holders.This would be in addition to the basic coverage of Rs.30,000 in Trust and Society mode.
iii. The beneficiaries of this scheme would be RSBY enrolled people aged 60 years and above. But, senior citizens who are eligible for RSBY but not currently enrolled in this scheme, will not get the benefit of SCHIS.
Other recent schemes introduced by Himachal Pradesh:
1.Electronic Health Card Scheme Himachal Pradesh
2.Unemployment Allowance Scheme 2017 in Himachal Pradesh – Rs.1000 for Unemployed Intermediate
3.Rajiv Thali Yojana – Rs.25 Meal Scheme in Himachal Pradesh
Vice President inaugurated the 3rd International Conference on Yoga on the theme ‘Yoga for Wellness
On 10th October 2017, Vice President, Mr.M.Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the two day ‘International Conference on Yoga for Wellness’ at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
3rd International Conference on Yoga:
i. The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH, Mr.Shripad Yesso Naik presided over the inaugural function.Secretary (AYUSH), Mr.C.K.Mishra, Special Secretary, Mr.Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha also participated.
ii. This is the 3rdInternational Conference on Yoga organized by the Ministry of AYUSH. About 500 delegates, including 69 from overseas countries attended the conference.
iii. Theme for this International Conference on Yoga 2017 is ‘Yoga for Wellness’. Areas of discussions are Yoga research in non-communicable diseases and scope of Yoga in Integrated Medicine, Control of Cancer, Depression, Gynecological disorders and Pain Management.
iv. This conference has been organized with the technical and logistic support of Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy and Moraji Desai National Institute of Yoga.
About Ministry of AYUSH:
♦ AYUSH full form – Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy
♦ Minister of State (Independent Charge) – Mr.Shripad Yesso Naik
Bengaluru airport to be the first Aadhaar-enabled airport in the country by December 2018
The Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has planned to make Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) as India’s first airport to have complete Aadhaar-enabled entry and biometric boarding system.KIA to be the first Aadhaar-enabled airport:
i.Following the two-month trial period in February, , Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has decided to make KIA fully compliant with Aadhaaar-enabled entry and biometric boarding system.
ii. According to the Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by BIAL, the airport is expected to be completely Aadhaar-enabled by December 2018.
iii. BIAL would use Aadhaar-enabled entry and biometric e-boarding process to confirm personal identity for airport passenger processing and control other things.
iv. The process would verify a passenger within 5 seconds at every checkpoint, completing the screening process in 10 minutes compared to the average 25 minutes.
About Kempegowda International Airport (KIA):
♦ Location – Devanahalli, Karnataka
♦ Owner/Operator – Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL)
Andhra Chief Minister inaugurates Blockchain Business Conference in Visakhapatnam
On 9th October 2017, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr.N.Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated a two day International Blockchain Business Conference, at Fintech Valley Vizag, in Vishakapatnam.
International Blockchain Business Conference:
i. The International Blockchain Business Conference is hosted by Fintech Valley Vizag. It is hosted with the support from Ministry of Electronic and IT.
ii. This will connect government bodies, startups and corporates working on Blockchain technologies to create more business and investment opportunities. It will have sessions on Blockchain in banking, insurance and capital markets.
iii. Blockchain is the latest technology in the field of cyber space that is generating huge interest globally.
iv. Thomson Reuters signed a MoU with Andhra Pradesh government for setting up innovation app studio in Gitam University, Andhra Pradesh. MoU were signed with several other companies on this occasion.
About Fintech Valley Vizag:
♦ Purpose – to promote business infrastructure in the state, and attract investors and multinational corporations to set up offices
♦ Owner – Government of Andhra Pradesh
Maharashtra is top Indian tourist source market for Australia
Maharashtra has become the leading Indian tourist source market for Australia with over 59,000 tourists having visited Australia in the year ended in June 2017.
Maharashtra – Australia’s top Indian tourist source market:
i. Maharashtra ranks as the leading Indian tourism source market for Australia. According to the data compiled by Tourism Australia, Maharashtra contributed to a growth of 18 % in tourist entries and 41 % in spend for the year ended in June 2017.
ii. In the year under review, a total of 2,77,100 Indian tourists visited Australia. A growth of nearly 15 % over the last year has made India the 9thlargest inbound market.
iii. Maharashtra was followed by Delhi with 32,000 travelers, then by Karnataka (30,000), Tamil Nadu (20,000), Punjab (18,000) and Gujarat (17,000).
Tourist Spots in Australia:
♦ Hervey Bay – popular tourist town with ample opportunities for whale watching
♦ Sydney Opera House – shopping and casinos
♦ Great Barrier Reef – camping and commercial marine tourism
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI panel headed by Janak Raj reveals ad hoc, arbitrary practices by banks to inflate interest rates
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) panel on an external benchmark rate for banks headed by Janak Raj, Principal adviser of Monetary Policy Department has submitted its report. As per the report, several disconcerting banking practices, including violation of the RBI guidelines, inflating of base rate and arbitrary adjustment of spreads are prevalent among major banks in India.
i. It has been observed that banks deviated in an ad hoc manner from the specified methodologies for calculating the base rate and MCLR.
ii. This was done either to inflate the base rate and MCLR or prevent it from falling in line with the actual cost of funds………………….Click here to view more detail
ICICI Bank commits Rs 10 cr for welfare of armed forces
As a part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, ICICI Bank has committed a financial assistance of Rs 10 crore to the Indian Armed Forces, which will be utilised for welfare activities and betterment of the families of ex-servicemen who have lost their lives on duty.More Information about ICICI Bank’s contribution for welfare of armed forces:
i. This contribution by ICICI Bank would be made in two equal tranches, out of which a cheque worth Rs 5 crore was handed over to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on October 9, 2017.
ii. This fund will be used for two programmes. The first will support post-graduation education of the widows of the soldiers and education for their wards. The second programme will provide financial assistance for marriages of the daughters of ex-servicemen.
iii. Both the programmes will be administered by Kendriya Sainik Board, the apex body that formulates policies for resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen and their dependents.
Quick Facts about ICICI Bank
♦ Founded in – 1994
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
♦ Current MD & CEO – Chanda Kochhar
Standard Chartered Bank opens new GBS centre in Bengaluru
On October 10, 2017, Standard Chartered Bank opened its Global Business Services (GBS) centre in Bengaluru which will complement its existing GBS centres in China, India and Malaysia.
More Details about Standard Chartered GBS centre in Bengaluru:
i. The GBS in Bengaluru will deliver support, client due diligence and advisory services for Standard Chartered’s corporate and institutional banking customers. Latest technologies in data, robotics and software development will be used at this centre.
ii. Kwan Chee Sun, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Business Services Private mentioned that centre in Bengaluru will also house the bank’s global centres of excellence in specialised areas including data analytics, anti-money laundering, financial crime surveillance and financial control.
iii. Over the next few years, Standard Chartered will double the current headcount at Bengaluru centre and is expecting to have 30% of GBS employees at this centre.
Quick Facts about Standard Chartered Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1969
♦ Headquarters – London, UK
Visa, Andhra Pradesh ties up for Digital Dhan Sankalp project
On October 10, 2017, Andhra Pradesh State Government and international digital payments company Visa announced a tie up for Visakahpatnam Digital Dhan Sankalp Project.
More Details about tie-up between Andhra Pradesh State Government and Visa:
i. Digital Dhan Sankalp project, is an initiative to develop Visakhapatnam into India’s first ‘less cash’ city.
ii. The range of digital payment services included under the project are payment of water and property tax at Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), bus services run by Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), iconic tourist locations at Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA), and utility services of Eastern Power Distribution Company of AP Ltd (EPDCL). These services are now accessible to 90% of population in Visakahpatnam.
iii. In collaboration with Visa, efforts will be made to enable digital payments to educational institutions, small and micro merchants and street market vendors.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Vinay Mohan Kwatra appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Principality of Monaco
On 9th October 2017, Vinay Mohan Kwatra was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Principality of Monaco.
Vinay Mohan Kwatra – next ambassador of India to the Principality of Monaco:
i. Vinay Mohan Kwatra is an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Officer of the batch 1988.He is presently Ambassador of India to France.
ii. He has been concurrently (at the same time) appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Principality of Monaco. His residence is in Paris.He is expected to take up the assignment shortly.
About the Principality of Monaco:
♦ Capital – Monaco
♦ Currency – Euro
♦ Official language – French
PepsiCo Chairman D Shivakumar quits
On 10th October 2017, PepsiCo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) D Shivakumar resigned from the company after serving for nearly four years.PepsiCo chairman D Shivakumar resigned:
i. Sivakumar will join the Aditya Birla Group as the group executive president in January 2018 and will report directly to Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla.
ii. Shivakumar has been replaced by Ahmed El Sheikh, Senior Vice President and General Manager for PepsiCo Egypt and Jordan.
iii. Ahmed will take charge as PepsiCo Chairman on 1st November, 2017. Shivakumar will stay with PepsiCo till 31stDecember 2017 as part of the transition process.
iv. Ahmed, who held leadership roles in both foods and beverages businesses, led the Egypt business previously.
♦ Headquarters – Purchase, New York, U.S.
♦ Chairperson and CEO – Indra Nooyi
Vinit Kumar takes over as Kolkata Port Trust chairman
On 9th October 2017, Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE) officer, Vinit Kumar, took over as full-time Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust.
Vinit Kumar as full-time Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust:
i. For almost 18 months, Vizag Port Trust chairman M T Krishna Babu was in charge of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) in an interim arrangement.
ii. Kumar is an IRSEE officer of 1993 batch.Before taking up his new role, Kumar was Chief Electrical Engineer in Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd and was looking after the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project.
iii. Kumar encouraged Kolkata Dock System and Haldia Dock Complex to accept the challenges and opportunities arising in the port and shipping world.
About Kolkata Port Trust:
♦ Owned by – Kolkata Port Trust, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India
♦ Type of harbor – Coastal breakwater, riverine, large seaport
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
NABARD buys additional 7% stake in SIDBI from IDBI Bank for Rs 900 crore
Rural financial institution National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has bought an additional 7% stake in Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for Rs900 crore from IDBI Bank Ltd.
Details about NABARD’s Stake Purchase in SIDBI from IDBI Bank:
i. This is the largest investment made by NABARD so far. Consequential to this move, NABARD’s stake in SIDBI has now gone up to 10%.
ii. Earlier, RBI had invoked prompt corrective action against IDBI Bank due to worsening of financial ratios. Following that, it has been trying to sell its non-core assets, and thereby wanted to sell its entire 16.25% stake in SIDBI since August 2017.
iii. So far it has managed to sell 10% stake which has been picked up by existing shareholder in SIDBI such as NABARD, LIC, Vjaya Bank and Canara Bank.
Quick Facts about NABARD:
♦ Established in – 1982
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
SpaceX launches 10 satellites for Iridium mobile network
On October 9, 2017, 10 more satellites for the Iridium Satellite Constellation were launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US.More details about 10 satellites launched by SpaceX for Iridium mobile network:
i. These 10 satellites are part of Iridium satellite constellation which provides voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over the Earth’s entire surface. The Iridium constellation is spread around the globe in six orbital planes, and thereby provides worldwide coverage.
ii. The 10 French-designed, U.S.- built satellites were launched by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. All the satellites were successfully deployed in the destined orbit after one hour from the launch.
iii. This was SpaceX’s 14th consecutive successful launch since January 2017.
iv. SpaceX and Iridium have entered into agreements for eight launches on Falcon 9 rockets until the constellation is completed in mid-2018.
Quick Facts about SpaceX:
♦ Founded in – 2002
♦ Headquarters – California, US
♦ Current CEO – Elon Musk
China launches remote sensing satellite for Venezuela
On October 9, 2017, China launched a remote sensing VRSS-2 satellite for Venezuela from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gobi desert.
i. VRSS -2 Satellite was launched by China’s Long March-2D carrier rocket.
ii. Venezuela will use this satellite for environmental protection and disaster monitoring, as well as land resources inspection, crop yield estimation and city planning.
iii. This is the third satellite launched by China for Venezuela. Earlier in 2008 Venesat -1 was launched followed by VRSS – 1 in 2012.
Quick Facts about Venezuela:
♦ Capital – Caracas
♦ Currency – Venezuelan bolivar
♦ Current President –Nicolas Maduro
Indian pair win gold at World Archery Youth Championship 2017
On 9th October 2017, mixed pair of Jemson Ningthoujam and Ankita Bhakat from India, won the recurve team gold medal, in the World Archery Youth Championship 2017, in Rosario, Argentina.Indian pair wins gold at World Archery Youth Championship 2017:
i. India bagged one gold, one silver and one bronze at the World Archery Youth Championship 2017.
ii. Ningthoujam and Bhakat, defeated their Russian opponents by 6-2 in the finals. Jemson Ningthoujam and Ankita Bhakat pair won the recurve team gold medal.
iii. This mixed team gold is India’s fourth World Archery Champion title across all disciplines. Ningthoujam also won a silver medal along with Shukmani Gajanan Babrekar and Atul Verma at the recurve junior men’s team event.
iv. Khushbu Dhayal, Sanchita Tiwari and Divya Dhawalof India, won a bronze medal in the compound cadet women’s event.
About World Archery Youth Championship 2017:
♦ Organised by – World Archery
♦ Events – Junior events for under 20 & Cadet for under 17
Iceland became smallest country to qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup
On 9th October 2017, Iceland became the smallest country ever to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Iceland – Smallest country to qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup:
i. Iceland has qualified to participate in FIFA World Cup 2018 by defeating Kosovo by 2-0 in the finals. Iceland finished the group with 22 points from their 10 games.
ii. Iceland would participate in its first finals of FIFA World Cup 2018, in Russia. It was a remarkable achievement for a country which has a population of about 3,50,000.
iii. Iceland team is coached by part-time dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson. Iceland’s seven wins in the group included all five of their home matches. It has defeated previous World Cup semi-finalists Croatia and Turkey.
About FIFA World Cup 2018:
♦ Host country – Russia
♦ Teams – 32
♦ Dates – 14th June – 15th July 2018
BCCI makes yo-yo tests compulsory criterion for Team India selection
In a bid to make India Cricket team one of the fittest sides in world cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has made it mandatory for cricketers to pass the ‘yo-yo’ endurance test.
About Yo-Yo Endurance Test:
i. In a yo-yo test, players have to pace themselves to and fro between two rows of cones kept 20 metres apart. For every round the player has to sync his sprint with the beeps that are played. Duration between beeps progressively shorten as the test proceeds.
ii. This test is widely used by selection bodies in various sports including hockey, football and cricket. For every sport the performance benchmark in the test may vary.
iii. BCCI CEO Rahul Johri has mentioned that Indian cricketers will have to compulsorily pass the Yo-Yo test for all formats. He stated that this rule will be stringent and non-negotiable.
World Day against the Death Penalty – October 10
On 10th October 2017, the World Day against the Death Penalty is observed all over the world.
World Day against the Death Penalty:
i. The theme for World Day against the Death Penalty 2017 is ‘the death penalty and poverty’.
ii. The World Day against the Death Penalty aims at raising awareness about the reasons why people living in poverty are at a greater risk of being sentenced to death and executed.
iii. The World Coalition against the Death Penalty is an alliance of NGOs, bar associations, local bodies and unions whose aim is to strengthen the international anti-death penalty movement.
iv. It established 10 October as the date of the annual World Day Against the Death Penalty in 2003. This is the 15th World Day against the Death Penalty.
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty:
♦ Members – 158 member organisations
♦ Formed on – 13 May 2002
World Mental Health Day – October 10
On 10th October 2017, World Mental Health Day is observed all over the world.World Mental Health Day:
i. ‘Mental health in the workplace’ is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017. Its objective is to raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of better mental health.
ii. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992. It is observed on 10 October every year.
iii. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both.
Some of the common mental health disorders:
♦ Bipolar disorder – brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels etc.
♦ Schizophrenia – chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves