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Daily Current Affairs 25th Jan 2018

Centre releases Rs 734.7 cr for water projects under PM Sinchai Yojna

  • The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has announced release of central assistance to the tune of Rs 734.7 crore for Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) and for Command Area Development (CAD) works in 17 projects.
  • During 2017-18, so far, central assistance amounting to Rs 1152.52 crore has been released for 26 priority projects under the AIBP. In addition, Rs 3318.85 crore had been released as the share of states from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for 24 priority projects under AIBP.

UP Cabinet approves ‘one district, one product’ scheme

  • The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has approved ‘one district, one product’ scheme to promote products indigenous to every district.
  • Under this, one product indigenous to every district would be showcased at the three-day UP Diwas event.
  • The decision was taken at the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adiatyanth.The Cabinet also gave its assent to setting up a Vedic Science Centre (Vaidik Vigyan Kendra) on the premises of Kashi Hindu University.

WCD Ministry launches MIS portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme

  • The Management Information System (MIS) portal for Anganwadi Services Training Programme was launched by Rakesh Srivastava, Women and Child Development Secretary in New Delhi on January 24, 2018.
  • The portal has been developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for the submission of applications and estimates by NGOs for carrying out Anganwadi Services (ICDS) Training through Anganwadi Workers Training Centres (AWTC) and Middle-Level Training Centres (MLTC).
  • The first phase of the portal will enable NGOs to submit proposals to the respective states and Union Territories.
  • The states and UTs, in turn, will process the proposals and recommend the requirement of funds for running the programme.
  • The Central government would further examine the proposal and release the funds. It will ensure that the funds are released timely and reach the beneficiaries for training purpose.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways signs MoU with IL&FS for construction of Zojila tunnel

  • An MoU has been signed between National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, and M/S IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd for construction of the 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir .
  • This would be India’s longest road tunnel and the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
  • The main objective of the project is to provide all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in Jammu & Kashmir which at the moment is limited to at best 6 months in a year because of snow on the passes and threat of avalanches. This project, along with other ongoing projects like 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel at Gagangir would ensure safe, fast and cheap connectivity between the two regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.

India, Vietnam sign MoU for cooperation in I&B sector and space

  • India and Vietnam on January 24, 2018 exchanged Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in the field of Information and Broadcasting and space.
  • The two nations agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of Information and Broadcasting based on principles of equality and reciprocity pursuant to their national laws and regulations.
  • The countries even agreed on the implementation of the arrangement between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Vietnam’s National Remote Sensing.
  • The agreements were exchanged in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Vietnam counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
  • The agreements exchanged between the two nations for space cooperation would define the framework and conditions of cooperation for the establishment of a facility to provide Indian remote sensing satellite data over ASEAN region.
  • This would enable remote sensing applications, which include natural resources management, ocean development and disaster management by the ASEAN member states.

Union Government to increase number of AMRIT pharmacy stores 4 times

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced to increase the number of AMRIT pharmacy stores by four times by end of 2018 from the existing 111 outlets in a bid to make low-cost medicines more accessible. So far, 52 lakh patients have been benefited by buying discounted drugs (60 to 90% less than market price) from AMRIT (Affordable medicine and reliable implants for treatment) stores and have saved over Rs. 267 crores.
  • The AMRIT (Affordable medicine and reliable implants for treatment) scheme aims to reduce expenditure incurred by patients on the treatment of cancer. Under it, retail outlets in the name of AMRIT pharmacy are opened to sell drugs for cancer and heart diseases at highly discounted rates on market rates.

Union Government announces four new schemes for young scientists, researchers

  • The government has announced four schemes for bright young scientists, including one that allows them to spend up to one year in a research lab abroad to hone their skills.
  • Announcing the programmes, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said this was an attempt to reward talented young scientists so that they sustain their interest in science. Researchers aged up to 45 years are eligible.

Empowering the young

  • “Most of the current fellowship schemes are for senior scientists. We feel that young scientists need to be empowered. With the new schemes, we are trying to do that,” he said.
    The schemes, instituted by the Science Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), are expected to come into force on February 1.
  • Among them is overseas doctoral fellowship programme which would help doctoral students registered in Indian universities to spend six to 12 months in foreign universities and other institutions of repute with whom there is research collaboration. Each selected doctoral student would be given a fellowship of $2,000 a month for the period spent in the foreign lab, apart from travel expenses. The maximum number of students supported under the scheme is 100 a year.

Teacher associateship

  • Another scheme, called Teacher Associateship for Research Excellence (TARE), is aimed at young faculty members working in a regular capacity in State universities and colleges and in private academic institutions, who have an orientation for research. They will get a chance to carry out research in public-funded institutions such as IITs, IISERs, and other national research laboratories in their free time for a maximum period of three years.
  • The selected scholars will be given an annual research fellowship of ₹60,000. Besides, there is a research grant of ₹5 lakh a year, which will be shared equally by the host and parent institutions of the scholar. The plan is to offer 500 such fellowships every year.

Distinguished award

  • The most prestigious one among the new schemes is a distinguished investigator award for a maximum of 35 brilliant young scientists who have excelled as principal investigators in research projects funded by SERB or DST. Those recognised under the scheme will get an additional sum of ₹15,000 as monthly fellowship and an optional research grant for a period of three years.
  • The fourth one is meant for augmenting writing skills of Indian research scholars. Ph D students and post-doctoral fellows will be encouraged to write at least one popular science article based on their research work and the best 100 entries by doctoral students and 20 by post-doctoral fellows will be rewarded with a cash prize of ₹10,000 and ₹20,000 respectively. The best three articles by doctoral students and one by a post-doctoral fellow will be given further cash prizes up to ₹1 lakh, the minister said.

Japan commits loan of 45 bn yen for Bengaluru water project

  • Japan has committed JICA Official Development Assistance loan for an amount of 45 billion yen (about Rs 2,587 crore) for Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Project (Phase 3).
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) provides various forms of aid for promoting economic and social development in developing countries.
  • The notes in this regard were exchanged between Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance S Selvakumar and Ambassador of Japan to India Kenji Hiramatsu.

India ranks 177 out of 180 in Environmental Performance Index

  • India is among the bottom five countries on the Environmental Performance Index 2018, plummeting 36 points from 141 in 2016, according to a biennial report by Yale and Columbia Universities along with the World Economic Forum.
  • While India is at the bottom of the list in the environmental health category, it ranks 178 out of 180 as far as air quality is concerned.
  • Its overall low ranking — 177 among 180 countries — was linked to poor performance in the environment health policy and deaths due to air pollution categories.

PM Modi Holds Bilateral Talks With 3 ASEAN Leaders

  • On the eve of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to celebrate 25 years of India-ASEAN partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had separate bilateral meetings with leaders of three ASEAN nations – Myanmar, Vietnam and Philippines in New Delhi.
  • The PM first met his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc and held talks with on issues of mutual interest. Next, he met the Philipino President Rodrigo Duterte and covered a wide range of subjects. Myanmar’s State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi also met the PM later in the evening.

Sri Lanka bans import of non-airbag equipped vehicles from July 1

  • In a commendable move, Sri Lanka restricted the import of the vehicles which do not carry Air bags for driver and front seat passenger, Anti-Locking Breaking System standards (ABS) and three-point seat belts for driver and passengers travelling front and rear seats.
  • Sri Lanakan Ministry of Finance has decided to postpone the implementation of the budget proposal on introduction of emission standards and safety measures from 1st July, 2018, the Government Information Department said.

SME Corp Malaysia inks pact with NSIC to foster international trade

  • SME Corporation Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding with GA Software Technologies in association with National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) to foster International Trade and the industry growth in India.
  • The proposition is to bring the reform in the Small and Medium Enterprises with this collaboration.
    GA Software Technologies (Georgia Technologies) is a next-generation software technology company, which provide products and services for the learning needs, mobility solutions, application development and IT infrastructure and IoT needs.

Union Government To Infuse Over Rs88 Thousand Crore In 20 PSB

  • The Union Government announced 88,139 crore rupees capital infusion in 20 public sector banks, PSBs, during the current fiscal ending 31st March to boost lending and revive growth.
  • IDBI Bank will get the most- Rs10,610 crore followed by State Bank of India 8,800 crore rupees.
  • The 20 banks that will receive the capital infusion during this phase include Bank of India, UCO Bank, and Punjab National Bank.
  • In October last year, the government had announced over two lakh crore rupees bank recapitalization plan spread over spread over two financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Vodafone, Flipkart tie up to offer entry-level 4G smartphones

  • Vodafone India has partnered with e-commerce marketplace Flipkart to provide a range of entry-level smartphones at an effective price of ₹999. As part of the tie-up, Vodafone has rolled out cash-back offers on select range of entry-level 4G smartphone models available under Flipkart’s #MyFirst4GSmartphone campaign.

Prodigee Finance granted NBFC-ND license from RBI

  • Bhopal-based Prodigee Finance Limited has received Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC-ND) license from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). ‘ND’ indicates NonDeposit accepting NBFC.
  • Prodigee Finance Limited thanked Enterslice for their valuable help during the entire process. Both financial companies are enthusiastic about the news.
  • According to the Bhopal-based company, the goal at Prodigee Finance Limited is to provide SMEs loans that they likely otherwise would not have had available, energising the local economy. By making access to small business loans more simple, and going above and beyond best industry practices when processing loan requests, the non-deposit taking NBFC could have a very powerful positive impact in the extended Bhopal area and beyond.

ONGC Borrows Rs 4,000 Crore From ICICI Bank to Fund HPCL Acquisition

  • State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has borrowed Rs 4,000 crore from ICICI Bank on top of over Rs 18,000 crore it has taken from three other banks to part finance its Rs 36,915 crore acquisition of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).
  • Sources said ICICI Bank has extended one-year loan to ONGC to fund the acquisition of government’s 51.11% stake in HPCL.

Rajesh Agarwal appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Niger

  • Shri Rajesh Agarwal, presently Counsellor, High Commission of India, Port Moresby has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Niger.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Best-Selling Science Fiction Author Passes Away

  • Ursula K. Le Guin, the award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who explored feminist themes and was best known for her Earthsea books passed away at the age of 88. Le Guin won an honorary National Book Award in 2014.
  • Le Guin’s first novel was Roncannon’s World in 1966. Her book, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ won the Hugo and Nebula awards top science fiction prizes.



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