Current Affairs and General Knowledge January 4, 2017

Current Affairs and General Knowledge 04.01.2016

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1. Union Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters 

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing and ratifying an Agreement between India and Uruguay regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters. The Agreement will help in the availability of relevant information for the prevention and investigation of Customs offences. The Agreement is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between the countries. The draft Agreement takes care of Indian Customs' concerns and requirements, particularly in the area of exchange of information on the correctness of the Customs value declared, the authenticity of certificates of origin of goods and the description of the goods traded between the two countries.

Background: Uruguay is an important trading partner of India among members of the MERCOSUR, a trading block in Latin America. India signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with the MERCOSUR which came into effect from 1st June, 2009. Trade between India and the Uruguay has been expanding gradually. The Agreement would provide a legal framework for sharing of information and intelligence between the Customs authorities of the two countries and help in the proper application of Customs laws, prevention and investigation of Customs offences and the facilitation of legitimate trade. The draft text of the proposed Agreement has been finalized with the concurrence of the two Customs Administrations.

2. Air Marshal Sanjay Sharma takes over as Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance at Air Headquarters 

Air Marshal Sanjay Sharma assumed the responsibilities of Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance at Air Headquarters, New Delhi on 01 January 2017. The Air Marshal was commissioned in the Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics) branch of IAF on 12 July 1979. He is a graduate in Electronics Engineering from University of Indore and post graduate in Computer Science and Data Processing from IIT Kharagpur. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence College. He has rich and varied experience in the fields of High Power Radars, Real Time Data Processing Systems, Automation of Command & Control Systems and Communication & Information Technology.

3. Union Home Minister lays the foundation stone of the Demonstration Housing Project by BMTPC for Lucknow 

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of the Demonstration Housing Project by BMTPC (Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council) for Lucknow through video conferencing here today. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Rajnath Singh said this BMPTC project is a model housing project which will use ecofriendly materials and innovative technology to build houses for the poor. 

Background: Coming up at Aurangabad Jagir at Sarojini Nagar Tehsil in Lucknow on 0.38 hectare land provided by the State Urban Development Authority (SUDA) of the Uttar Pradesh state government, the BMTPC, an autonomous organization under Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, has undertaken construction of 40 dwelling units (Ground Floor+1). Each Unit having built up area of 380 sq. feet, will consist of one living room, one bedroom, kitchen, one separate bath and WC. The Demonstration Housing Project will include onsite infrastructure facilities like water supply, tube well, sewerage system, drainage, concrete roads, interlocking tiles, boundary wall and external electrification, etc. Aiming to popularize new and emerging disaster resistant sustainable technologies in the construction sector, the Demonstration Housing Project is expected to cost around Rs.3.6 crores.

4. LPG customers to now get a discount for on-line payment of LPG refill 

Oil Marketing Companies, viz IndianOil, BPCL & HPCL are now offering an upfront discount of Rs 5/- on every LPG refill to all LPG customers who will book and pay for their LPG cylinders online. Customers can make payment through existing online modes i.e net banking, credit & debit cards at the time of web-booking their refills. Customers will get the discounted amount displayed on their screens – i.e. net amount i.e refill RSP minus (-) incentive amount of Rs.5/- which they need to pay for their refill transactions. The net discounted amount will also be shown on the cash memo accompanying the home-delivery of the LPG cylinder. Under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, it the endeavour of all Oil Marketing Companies aim to encourage consumers to increasingly shift to such payment modes through digital platforms to achieve the objective of no-cash or less-cash based transactions. The incentive will encourage more and more LPG consumers to go for cashless mode transactions.

BHIM' (Bharat Interface for Money) "Payment App" will create Equality 

The new indigenously developed payment app 'BHIM' (Bharat Interface for Money) has been named after the main architect of Indian constitution, Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Through this app, Bharat Ratna Bhim Rao Ambedkar's name will take the centre-stage in India's economy. The day is not far, when people will conduct their business through this app. This app will create financial equality in the Country, as envisaged by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar ’ said Ramesh Jigajinagi , Union Minister of State, Ministry of Drinking water and sanitation. 
  1. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been introducing many welfare Schemes for the Developments of Dalits, backward classes and financially backward class people. Indeed, BHIM will curb black money system and create equality in the society. It will support them, he said. 
  2. BHIM is a biometric payment system app using Aadhar platform, and is based on Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to facilitate e-payments directly through bank. It was launched to stress on the importance of technology and digital transactions. It can be used on all mobile devices, be it a smartphone or a feature phone with or without internet connection, he added. 
  3. The payments through the new system (BHIM App) can be made by just a thumb impression after the bank account is linked with Aadhaar gateway. Indeed, the technology through BHIM will empower poorest of the poor, small business and the marginalised section.
  4. Recalling that India, once described as golden bird (Sone ki Chidiya), became poor due to certain mistakes, Our PM’s visions to regain the Country’s potential and its past glory once again. The Prime Minister also appealed to the people to undertake at least five transactions daily through mobile phones and let the country lead the digital movement.
  5. The new app is expected to minimise the role of plastic cards and point of sale machines. The app will eliminate fee payments for service providers like MasterCard and Visa, which has been a stumbling block in people switching to digital payments.
  6. The app can be used to send and receive money through smartphones. Money can also be sent to non UPI supported banks. Bank balance can also be checked through the app. Currently Hindi and English are supported in the app, with more languages coming soon. Indicating that the e-wallet app will feature fingerprint verification in future, "Only thumb will be needed to make a payment. Thumb will be your bank now". People should utilize the app and support this to curb black money and to create financial equality, he appealed. 
Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP) to benefit pregnant and lactating mothers across the country 

Government of India is committed to ensure that every woman attains optimal nutritional status – especially from the most vulnerable communities as nutrition constitutes the foundation for human development. This is all the more important during the period of pregnancy and lactation coupled with wage loss. A woman’s nutritional status has important implications for her health as well as the health and development of her children. 

Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on 31.12.2016 has announced pan-India expansion of MBP in all the districts with effect from 01.01.2017. It is expected that annually about 51.70 lakh beneficiaries would avail of the benefit.

Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP) Scheme: An under-nourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle, particularly in women. Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right upto the last days of their pregnancy. Furthermore, they resume working soon after childbirth, even through their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impending their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months. It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% GoI share for UTs without legislatures. The total cost of the proposal for the balance period of 2016-17 and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 including Centre and State share is expected to be Rs. 12,661.00 crore. Out of this, Government of India’s share for the balance period of 2016-17 (Rs. 584 crore) and from 2017-18 to 2019-20 (Rs. 7348 crore) is expected to be Rs. 7932 crore.

New web tool to makes CRISPR-Methodology easier

Scientists, including those of Indian origin, have generated a web-based software which can facilitate use of CRISPR methodology, allowing researchers to gain insights in to the cause of diseases and give suggestions on how they can be treated. 

Backround: A human has about 100 times as many cells in its body as there are people on earth. Inside a vast majority of these cells are long chains of DNA which affect how different cells look and behave. CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a research method that can be used to rapidly study how different portions of the DNA directly affect cells. The new software called Green Listed, developed by researchers including Sudeepta Kumar Panda and Sanjay V Boddul from Karolinska Institute simplifies work with the CRISPR-methodology. The CRISPR method is based on a system that is found naturally in many bacteria and the method has received a lot of attention in the last few years. 

Green Listed: A very powerful way to use CRISPR is to study different parts of the DNA simultaneously. "Green Listed" is specifically used to facilitate this type of large-scale studies. "By implementing the CRISPR methodology in our research, we can now explain phenomena we have tried to understand for several years," said Wermeling. "This is primarily related to CRISPR screen experiments, where we in parallel modify a large number of selected parts of the DNA of isolated cells," said Wermeling. "The Green Listed software simplifies this process considerably and has been very important for our progress," he said. "With the CRISPR method, we can quickly make such changes in individual isolated cells and thereby learn about the diseases we study," said Wermeling.  
The study was published in the journal Bioinformatics.
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