TNPSC Currrent Affairs and GK Today: 6-18, January 2017 (English)

“Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong” becomes role model for cleanliness

In Meghalaya, Mawlynnong village has become a role model for other states in maintaining cleanliness. Termed as Asia’s cleanest village, Mawlynnong has become tourists' hotspot.The Secretary of the village committee said, all 90 families of the village constructed toilets in 1989. Under Swachh Bharat Mission, three public toilets have been constructed in the village. Over 500 tourists from across the country and abroad visit the village daily, which is located 80 kilometers away from capital Shillong. To maintain its reputation as clean village, all 550 villagers carry cleanliness drive on every Saturday. Through cleanliness, the villagers have created opportunities to earn money as the village has become tourists' prime destination in North East. Recently, the village headman of Mawlynnong was invited to Vibrant Gujarat to explain its success story. The village authority said, several other states have expressed their willingness to adopt Mawlynnong village as role model in maintaining cleanliness.

58th India International Garment Fair to beginS in New Delhi

The 58th edition of India International Garment Fair, IIGF is begins (18.1.2017) in New Delhi. Organized by Apparel Export Promotion Council India, the event is one of the largest and most popular platforms in Asia, from which overseas garment buyers can source products and forge business relationships with India’s finest players in the apparel and fashion accessories domain. Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani will inaugurate the three day long fair.A total of 312 participants from 14 states are participating in the Fair. The major participating states are Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka. 

4th Conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations(COCSSO) at Nagpur 

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India, is organizing a two day Conference of Central and State Statistical Organizations (COCSSO) at Nagpur, Maharashtra during 19 -20th January, 2017. This Conference is being conducted in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics and Statistics(DES), Government of Maharashtra. The Conference will be inaugurated by Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare”. A number of papers by premier institutions such as NITI Aayog, NABARD, RBI, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, FAO, ISI, etc. will be presented and discussed in the Conference. The Conference will review the Action Taken on the Recommendations of 23rd COCSSO as well as the progress of the State Statistical Strengthening Project. 

Union Cabinet Approves MoU between "India and Serbia for cooperation in the field of IT & Electronics" 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Serbia for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics. The MoU aims to promote cooperation between India and Serbia in the field of IT and Electronics, and to foster active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, the Governments and other public and private organizations of the two countries in IT & Electronics.

Union Cabinet Approves "India’s Membership in the International Vaccine Institute" (IVI), South Korea 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council. The move involves payment of annual contribution of US $ 5,00,000 to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea. 

Background: International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea, established in 1997 on the initiatives of the UNDP, is an international organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases. In the year 2007, with the approval of Cabinet, India joined IVI. India is a long-term collaborator and stake-holder of IVI. In December, 2012 the Board of Trustees (BOT) of IVI approved the formation of its new governance structure. As per the new governance structure of IVI, a member State has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India is classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of US $ 50,000. 

India became an associate member of CERN

India formally became an associate member of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) with the government completing the internal approval procedures for the agreement it signed in November 2016. Prior to it, in September 2016, CERN Council had adopted a resolution upgrading India’s position as associate member from earlier ‘observer’ status (since 2004).

Union Cabinet approves MoU on cooperation on "Youth matters between India and Russia" 

Exchange programmes in the field of Youth Affairs between India and Russia will help in promoting exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth through establishment of people-to-people contacts and in consolidating friendly relations between the two countries. The selections for participation in exchange programmes shall be done in an objective and transparent manner and the outcomes of the programmes under the MoU shall be open for public scrutiny.Exchange programmes will help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs.

Union Cabinet apprised of the "MoU between the ISRO and the Japanese JAXA for cooperation in the field of outer space" 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on November 11, 2016 at Tokyo, Japan between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for cooperation in the field of outer space.

Background: India and Japan pursue space cooperation for more than 5 decades and carried out studies in the field of atmospheric study, observation of universe and scientific investigation in remote sensing. With the formation of JAXA in 2003, an "arrangement concerning the considerations of potential future cooperation in the field of outer space" was signed in October 2005 between ISRO/ Department of Space (DOS) and JAXA. Subsequently both agencies have signed cooperative documents addressing lunar exploration, satellite navigation, X-ray astronomy and Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF). During the ISRO-JAXA bilateral meeting held at New Delhi on April 05, 2016, both sides stressed the need for updating the contents of '2005 Arrangement' with enhanced scope of cooperation. Accordingly, both sides have arrived at the draft of new 'Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ISRO and JAXA concerning cooperation in the field of outer space’ and got it signed on November 11, 2016 at Tokyo during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Japan.

Timothy Gonsalves recommends for Girl Students in IITs

The sub-committee under chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in number of female students entering the prestigious institutes. The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from 2017 or from 2018. The committee has suggested creating up to 20% supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats. But only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered.

Union Cabinet approves "MoU between India and Vietnam In the field of cyber security" 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Vietnam in the field of Cyber Security. It was signed between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), India and the Cyber Security Department, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam on 3rd September 2016 at Hanoi. The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of cyber security-related incidents between India and Vietnam.Implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the cyber security sector, through institutional and capacity-building in the field of cyber security in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Union Cabinet approves "Trade Agreement negotiations with Peru" 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved holding negotiations for Trade Agreement with Peru on trade in goods, services and investment.A Joint Study Group (JSG) between India and Peru was constituted in order to explore the possibility for entering into trade agreement with Peru on 15th January, 2015. Both sides concluded the Joint Study Group Report on 20th October, 2016 and agreed to carry forward the discussions on trade in goods, trade in services and investment.

Background: Peru ranks 3rd amongst export destinations for India in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region during 2015-16. India's bilateral trade with Peru was US$ 107.32 million during 2005-06 which registered a growth of 1319.45% during 2015-16. During 2015-16, bilateral trade stood at US$ 1,523.35 million with exports at US$ 703.12 million and imports US$ 820.22 million respectively.India has friendly relations with Peru. Peru has been cooperating with India at the International fora and the trade agreement will enhance the trade and economic relations between the two countries. The trade agreement would be an important landmark in India-Peru relations and consolidate the traditional fraternal relation that have existed between India and LAC countries.

Union Cabinet approves the "Establishment of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Jharkhand" 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the 12th Plan Proposal of the DARE/ICAR Plan Scheme of the 'Establishment of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (lARI)-Jharkhand'. It will have an estimated outlay of Rs. 200.78 crores (100% ICAR share) on 1,000 acre land provided by the Government of Jharkhand at the Gauria Karma Village in Barhi Block of Hazaribag. 

Background: lARI-Jharkhand would be a unique Institution, which would possess all the hallmark identities as that of IARI at New Delhi including all sectors of agriculture like field crops, horticultural crops, agro-forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry, piggery, silk and lac rearing, honey production etc. IARI-Jharkhand would work on the agrarian challenges and complexities of eastern India with all existing Central and State Government R&D institutions and Private sector enterprises. It will undertake research, education, extension programmes in its mission towards developing quality human resource, generation of farmer friendly technologies to enhance productivity, quality and profitability. It will also promote agro-based industries and generate employment opportunities for holistic and sustainable development of the agriculture sector in the eastern region. It will be an off-campus of IARI, New Delhi and integrated multi-disciplinary research would be undertaken in School mode, i.e. Schools of Crop Sciences, Natural Resource Management, and Animal Sciences.

India ranked 92nd in Global Talent Index

India was ranked 92nd among 118 countries in the 2017 Global index of talent competitiveness (GTI) list. The index measures ability of countries to compete for talent i.e. how countries grow, attract and retain talent. The index is produced by global business school INSEAD in partnership with Adecco Group and Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) of Singapore.

MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways sector 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways Sector to be signed between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India and the Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime, U.A.E. The proposed MoU envisages increased cooperation, exchange and collaboration between India and the UAE, and will contribute to increased investment in infrastructure development and enhance logistics efficiency. This will help in promoting safe, economical, efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the country and will further help both the countries in creating an institutional mechanism for cooperation in the field. 

Union Cabinet Cabinet approves the repealing of the obsolete and redundant laws 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017 to repeal 105 Acts. 

Background: The two Member Committee constituted by the PMO, the Law Commission of India and the Legislative Department identified 1824 redundant and obsolete Central Acts for repeal. After careful examination and consultation with various Ministries/Departments in the Government of India, four Acts have been enacted to repeal 1175 Central Acts (during the period May, 2014 to August, 2016) by Parliament which are:

The Repealing and Amending Act, 2015 (17 of 2015) repealing 35 Acts; The Repealing and Amending (Second) Act, 2015 (19 of 2015) repealing 90 Acts;

  1. The Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Act, 2016 (22 of 2016) repealing 756;
  2. Appropriation Acts including Appropriation (Railways) Acts;
  3. The Repealing and Amending Act, 2016 (23 of 2016) repealing 294 Acts.
Out of the aforesaid 1824 Acts, 227 Acts (including Appropriation Acts enacted by Parliament for the States under President's Rule) are identified to be repealed by State Governments have been requested to take necessary action to repeal them. A list of remaining 422 Central Acts was circulated among all the Ministries/ Departments for their comments on repeal of Acts pertaining to their respective Ministries/Departments. Till date, 73 Ministries/Departments including Legislative Department have given their comments whereby they have agreed to repeal 105 Acts and disagreed to repeal about 139 Acts. On the basis of the comments/concurrence received from the Ministries/Departments, 105 Acts have been identified for repeal by this Department.

Union Cabinet approves "MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency"

Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency as per the provisions of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW, 78) and amendments thereof . 

Background: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency. The proposed MoU will pave way for recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by the Government of the other country in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 1/10 of the Convention, and cooperation between the two countries in training and management of seafarers. The MoU will ensure that the education, training and assessment of seafarers, as required by the STCW Convention, are administered and monitored in accordance with of the STCW Code for each type and level of training assessment involved.

Union Cabinet approves "the exclusion of States from the investments of National Small Savings Fund" from 1.4.2016 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to exclude State Governments States/UTs (with Legislature) except Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments from 01.04.2016. It also approved providing a one-time loan of Rs. 45,000 crore from NSSF to Food Corporation of India (FCI) to meet its food subsidy requirements.

Union Cabinet gives approval to the package for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) - CGTMSE

Cabinet gives approval to the package for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) – Augmentation of Corpus of Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE). The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the package for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) – Augmentation of the Corpus of Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).

Cabinet approves Listing of Government owned General Insurance Companies at the stock exchanges 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ‘in principle’ approval for listing the following five Government owned General Insurance Companies in the stock exchanges. These are:
  1. The New India Assurance Company Ltd.
  2. United India Insurance Company Ltd.,
  3. Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.,
  4. National Insurance Company Ltd. and
  5. General Insurance Corporation of India.
The shareholding of these Public Sector General Insurance Companies (PSGICs) will be divested from 100 percent to 75 percent in one or more tranches over a period of time. During the process of disinvestment, existing rules and regulations of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will be followed.

Background: The Finance Minister in his Budget Speech for 2016-17 had announced that public shareholding in Government-owned companies is a means of ensuring higher levels of transparency and accountability; and to promote this objective, the general insurance companies owned by the Government will be listed on the stock exchanges.

Encouraging Response to Civil Aviation Ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) 

Airports Authority of India (AAI), the implementing agency for the Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN) has received 45 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering more than 200 RCS routes as the deadline for submitting initial proposals came to an end on 16th Jan 2017. These initial proposals cover as many as 65 airports, of which there are 52 un-served and 13 under-served airports as per the provisions of the scheme. Counter-bids have now been invited against these initial proposals, the last date of submission for which is 1st Feb. 2017. The routes or networks will be awarded to the bidders who quote the lowest requirement of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) against such routes. To ensure that operations on ground start with minimum time-gap after the bidding is completed, parallel action has also been initiated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with AAI, State Governments, DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

TN Government launches mobile app "Pinakin" for Tourism 

Tamil Nadu government has launched a mobile application Pinakin to provide information of famous tourist destinations in the state. The app will provide information on other major tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu. Initially, it will cover world heritage tourist sites like Thanjavur Big Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Mamallapuram and Darasuram and soon include other places in the state. The app will provide information in two languages Tamil and English, benefiting both domestic and international tourists.

MP Government launches "Digital Dakiya scheme" 

Madhya Pradesh Government launched Digital Dakiya (or Digital Postman) scheme to encourage cashless transactions. It is first of its kind scheme in the country. It was launched by State Finance Minister Jayant Malliya in Indore. Under it, Digital Dakiya or Digital Postman will visit door to door and train households specially women and elderly people about digitized transactions. The scheme aimed at urban as well as rural areas and state government will provide Identity cards to the volunteers deployed in this programme.

69th Indian Army Day observed - 15.01.2017

69th Army Day observed The 69th Indian Army Day was observed on 15 January 2017. On this day in 1949, Lt. General (later Field Marshal) Kodandera Madappa Cariappa became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army (of the independent India). He had succeeded British Army General Roy Butcher (last British Commander-in-Chief of India). The day is also celebrated to pay homage and salute to the courageous and brave Indian soldiers who have been sacrificing their lives for protecting the country.

BSF launches "Operation Sard Hawa" at Rajasthan border 

The Border Security Force (BSF) has launched operation Sard Hawa at the western international border of Rajasthan to check the instances of infilteration due to the dense fog in the area. The purpose of this 14 days operation (from 15 to 28 January, 2017) is to keep hawk’s eye on the international border and to motivate patrolling jawans. Under it jawans will patrol the border with advanced weapons in the police station areas near to the border. BSF is the sentinels of Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Currently it is deployed on Indo-Pakistan International Border, Indo-Bangladesh International Border, Line of Control (LoC) along with Indian Army and also in Anti-Naxal Operations.

Gujarat wins "First Ranji Trophy title" 

Gujarat won its maiden Ranji Trophy title by defeating defending champion Mumbai by five wickets in the final match held at the Holkar stadium in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat’s Parthiv Patel’s (Captain) 143 and Munprit Juneja’s 54 runs helped team to chase down the highest successful chase in the final. With this win Gujarat became the 17th side in the history of domestic cricket to win the tournament. Mumbai has won the Ranji title for record 41 times in the past. In this season it ended up as the runner-up in for the fifth time. Earlier Mumbai had stood second in after losing to Haryana in the final match by 2 runs in 1990-91 season.

NASA approves mission to explore iron-rich asteroid "16 Psyche"

NASA has approved a mission to explore 16 Psyche, an iron-rich asteroid whose contents are said to be worth over 100-thousand times the value of the entire world economy. The mission, proposed in 2014, would send a NASA spacecraft to Psyche, running tests to learn more about the history and composition of the celestial body. That information will undoubtedly be interesting to space fans and useful to astronomers, but the financial implications of a mission to Psyche are what appear to be most compelling.Psyche is an asteroid with a diameter in excess of 125 miles, about the same size of the state of Massachusetts, and is almost entirely composed of iron and nickel.

Gene Cernan, last astronaut to walk on the moon, dies at 82

Former astronaut Gene Cernan, who as the last person to walk on the moon returned to Earth with a message of "peace and hope for all mankind," has died, his family said. He was 82. Cernan was with his relatives when he died yesterday at a Houston hospital following ongoing heath issues, family spokeswoman Melissa Wren told The Associated Press. His family said his devotion to lunar exploration never waned. "Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation's leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon," his family said in a statement released by NASA. Cernan was commander of NASA's Apollo 17 mission and on his third space flight when he set foot on the lunar surface. On December 14, 1972, he became the last of only a dozen men to walk on the moon and he traced his only child's initials in the dust before climbing the ladder of the lunar module the last time. 

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