Govt launches cleanliness survey under Swachh Bharat Mission
- The Centre on Thursday announced the launch of cleanliness survey ‘Swachh Survekshan 2018’ as a part of the Swachh Bharat Mission. The survey, third of its kind, will rank 500 cities on the national level, while 3,541 cities will have state and regional ranking. The progress will be recorded on six parameters, including sanitation related progress and innovation.
India excludes Pakistan from a Saarc initiative
- India has excluded Pakistan from the list of Saarc member countries with which it will be connecting its state-of-theartNational Knowledge Network (NKN) for sharing scientific databases and remote access to advanced research facilities.
- The government has kicked off the process of appointing a telecom company that will connect and extend the NKN to research and education networks in six South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation member states — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Pakistan is the only Saarc nation that has been left out of this initiative.
Goa to host third edition of Science Film Festival
- Goa will be hosting the third edition of the Science Film Festival of India between January.
The festival, titled SCI-FFI Goa, is being organised by the state-based Vidnyan Parishad, Goa’s Department of Science and Technology.
- The competition aims to boost the culture of science films, all the films submitted should be related to science and technology.
India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education up by 0.7%
- The country’s Gross Enrolment Ratio or GER in higher education has registered an increase from 24.5% in 2015-16 to 25.2% in 2016-17, according to the latest edition of the All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) launched by Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar.
- Although India aims to attain a GER of 30% by 2020, it’s still much behind countries like China, which, currently, boasts an enrolment ratio of 43.39%. USA’s GER is 85.8% and Pakistan’s is 9.93%.
CCEA approves extension of norms for mandatory packaging in Jute Materials
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved extension of mandatory packaging norms of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for Jute Year 2017-18 (i.e. July 2017 to June 2018).
- The mandatory extension was approved under the Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987.
- The approval mandates that 90% of food grains and 20% of sugar products shall be mandatorily packed in jute bags.
The provision of mandatory packaging will benefit jute farmers and workers in jute industry located in Eastern and North Eastern regions of country particularly in West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.
Lok Sabha passes Bill to hike salaries of judges
- The Lok Sabha has passed High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 to hike the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court (SC) and High Courts (HCs).
- The Bill will amend HC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 and SC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.
- It proposes to hike the salary of Chief Justice of India (CJI) to Rs.2.80 lakh a month and that of judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts to Rs. 2.5 lakh a month.
- It increases salary of Judges of High Courts to Rs.2.25 lakh a month.
Railways, HRD and S&T Ministry ink MoU
- Three Ministries of India viz. Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and Ministry of Science & Technology have signed an MoU for joint funding of Technology Mission for Indian Railways (TMIR).
- The MoU aims to facilitate co-financing of (TMIR) by investment sharing for identified railway projects for applied research.
- The percentage division of the funding between the three ministries for Technology Mission for Indian Railways’ is Ministry of Railways: 30% , Ministry of HRD: 25% and Department of Science & Technology: 25%.
- Under the MoU, Ministry of HRD and Ministry of S&T have agreed to fund TMIR projects to the tune of Rs 75 cr each while Railways and Industries would also be contributing to their respective shares.
India’s GDP growth seen decelerating to 6.5% in 2017-18 from 7.1% in 2016-17
- The Indian economy is expected to decelerate to 6.5% in 2017-18 from 7.1% in the previous year, marred by the twin policy blow of demonetisation and hasty implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
- In the first half (April-September) of the financial year ending 31 March, the economy grew at 6%, indicating that it will accelerate in the second half (October-March) of the financial year.
UP education board to help Nepal conduct school exams
- Nepal has approached Uttar Pradesh education board seeking support and guidance for its newly established National Examination Board of Nepal in conducting high school and intermediate exams.
- The UP board has shared details of evaluation processes and question paper moderation, among others. We also provided them with copies of some exam-related instructions for reference, UP officials said.
China to build AI development park worth over ₹13,400 crore
- China has released a plan to build a technology park for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) at a cost over ₹13,400 crore (￥13.8 billion).
- It is aimed at attracting enterprises that work on big-data, biometric identification and cloud computing. Estimates claim that the park will generate an annual output value of about ₹48,800 crore (￥50 billion).
SBI may cut minimum balance limit in savings a/cs to ₹1,000
- India’s largest lender SBI is planning to bring down the minimum balance limit for savings accounts to ₹1,000 from the current ₹3,000 balance in metros, according to reports. This comes after a Finance Ministry report showed that SBI collected ₹1,771 crore during April-November 2017 as charges from customers who didn’t maintain their minimum monthly average balance in their accounts.
RBI unveils new ₹10 banknotes, old notes to remain valid
- The RBI will shortly issue new ₹10 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series bearing signature of Governor Urjit Patel.
- The base colour of the note will be chocolate brown, and all ₹10 notes issued by RBI earlier will remain valid. The new note will have a motif of Konark’s Sun Temple depicting India’s cultural heritage on one side.
NASA to launch two missions to explore Earth-space boundary
- NASA is launching two new missions this year to explore the starting point of space, nearly 100 km above Earth’s surface. While Earth’s weather depends on winds and precipitation, space weather depends on electromagnetic fields and charged particles.
- However, the near-Earth space experiences both. The missions GOLD and ICON would make complementary observations from different points, said NASA.
Government launches online cancer detection course
- The Union Health Ministry on Thursday launched an online cancer detection course to help non-cancer specialists detect early signs of the disease, especially in villages and smaller cities.
- The course, designed by Tata Memorial Hospital, has modules based on various sites and sub-sites of cancer and comprises 14 hours of e-learning through more than 40 video lectures and case studies.
North Korea, South Korea to hold 1st official talks in 2 yrs
- North Korea has accepted South Korea’s proposal to hold official talks next week to discuss inter-Korean relations and its possible participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.
- These will be the first high-level talks between the two after a communication gap of more than two years. North Korea recently reopened a border hotline with South Korea.