Weekly Current Affairs January 2018 2nd Week

1. Iran bans English from being taught in primary schools

Iran has banned teaching the English language in primary schools, calling the subject a “cultural invasion”.

  • The education ministry “envisages strengthening Persian language skills and Iranian Islamic culture of pupils at the primary school stage”.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has previously expressed concern about the teaching of English.

2. Annual Meeting 2018 of World Economic Forum

The Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum shall be held from 23-26 January 2018 at Davos in Switzerland with the theme of ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.

  • Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will be participating in the Annual Meeting.
  • He will be the first Prime Minister to attend the Annual Meeting of the Forum since 1997.
  • The Annual Meeting will be attended by 350 political leaders (among them over 60 heads of state or government), the chairs and chief executive officers of the world’s most important companies and over 1,000 leaders from among other walks of life.

Points to Remember

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It was established in 1971. Klaus Schwab is the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

3. World’s largest solar thermal plant to be built in South Australia

The world’s largest solar-thermal power plant has been given development approval by the South Australian government.

  • Construction on the 150-megawatt Aurora plant, to be built by utility-scale solar power company Solar Reserve, will begin in 2018 at an estimated cost of $509 million.
  • It will have the capacity to power 90,000 homes with eight hours of full load storage.

4. India contributes $50,000 to UN Youth Envoy’s office

India has contributed $50,000 to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s Office of Envoy on Youth to help with its mission of involving young people in the world body’s goals.

  • Paulomi Tripathi, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, handed over the contribution to the Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake.
  • The Youth Envoy’s mission is to promote the engagement of youth across all the four pillars of the UN’s work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action.

5. WEF ranks India 30th on global manufacturing index

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at 30th position on a global manufacturing index — below China’s 5th place but above other BRICS peers, Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

  • Japan topped the Geneva-based WEF’s first ‘Readiness for the future of production report’ and is followed by South Korea, Germany, Switzerland and China.
  • India has been placed in the ‘Legacy’ group along with Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Turkey, among others.
  • China figures among ‘leading countries’, while Brazil and South Africa are in ‘nascent’ ones.

6. Annual Haj 2018 agreement between India and Saudi Arabia

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Saudi Arabia has given the green signal for India’s decision to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also.

  • Officials from both the countries will discuss on all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years.
  • A decision in this regard was taken, during the signing of bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement between India and Saudi Arabia by Shri Naqvi and Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Makkah.
  • Shri Naqvi said that sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses significantly.
  • The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.

7. India unveils Pratyush, its fastest supercomputer yet

India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches after it unveiled Pratyush, an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops.

  • One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system.
  • Pratyush is the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated for weather and climate research, and follows machines in Japan, USA and the United Kingdom.

8. PM attends Conference of DGsP and IGsP

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi arrived at the BSF Academy at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh, for the Conference of Director Generals of Police and Inspector Generals of Police.

  • Through the day, there were presentations and useful discussions on various subjects relating to security. A presentation was also made on the implementation status of decisions taken during the last three years.

9. Defence Innovation Centre to be set up at Coimbatore

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the release of ₹20 crore to the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association (Codissia) for setting up a defence innovation centre.

  • The proposed centre will help the micro, small and medium enterprises and start-ups engaged in the manufacture of components for the defence sector conduct tests and trials of the components, the Minister said.
  • She said India is the third biggest armaments procurement country in the world.

10. PM addresses inaugural session of PIO-Parliamentarian Conference

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, addressed the inaugural session of the PIO-Parliamentarian Conference in New Delhi.

  • The Prime Minister praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for continuously keeping an eye on issues being faced by Indian citizens abroad.
  • In this context, he mentioned the “MADAD” portal for real time monitoring and response of consular grievances.

11. ‘First Health Ministers Roundtable on Food Safety & Nutrition’

Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare presided over the ‘First Health Ministers Roundtable on Food Safety & Nutrition’ organized by FSSAI, in New Delhi.

  • Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (Health) along with the Health Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Puducherry, Jharkhand and Delhi were also present at the roundtable.

12. Gujarat tops logistics performance index chart

Gujarat has topped a perception-based index of mobility of goods and efficiency of logistics chain, closely followed by Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

  • Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu released the report at the third meeting of Council for Trade Development and Promotion.

13. Goa to host second bird festival from January 12

The second edition of the Goa Bird Festival will be held from January 12 to 14 at Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Canacona.

  • The State Forest department is organising the event with the support of Goa Tourism, the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) and Birderpics.com.
  • Goa is said to have over 440 species of birds out of over 1,200 in the country.
  • The festival will host some of the country’s top naturalists, photographers and artists as resource persons.

14. President inaugurate 4th International Conference on Dharma-Dhamma

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, will visit Bihar on January 11, 2018 to inaugurate the 4th International Conference on Dharma-Dhamma at Rajgir.

  • The Conference is being organised by Nalanda University in collaboration with the Centre for Study of Religion and Society, India Foundation, and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, with an aim to provide an opportunity to academics and policy makers from India and abroad to share ideas and build collaboration for a better world.

15. Cabinet approves fixed term for Chairperson and Members of the National Trust

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal to amend Section 4(1) and Section 5(1) of the National Trust for the Welfare of Person with Autism, Cerebral Plasy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999 to fix the term of the Chairperson and Members of the Board of National Trust for three years.

  • Section 4(1) of the National Trust   Act, 1999   provides that the Chairperson or a Member of the Board of National Trust would continue in office beyond the prescribed term of three years   until   his   successor   shall   have   been   duly   appointed. In case of resignation of the Chairperson, section 5(1) of the Act provides for him to continue in office until his successor is duly appointed by the Government.   The wording of the above provisions of the Act in its present form has resulted in continuation of a Chairman for an indefinite period as no suitable successor could be found eligible for appointment.
  • The proposed amendments in these provisions of the Act seek to avoid such a    situation and will thus eliminate any chance of prolonged continuation in the same post by any incumbent.

16. 5th Meeting on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine

The 5th Bilateral Technical Meeting on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine between Govt. of India and Malaysia was held at New Delhi which was a part of agreement signed between both countries in 2010.

  • The Meeting was presided by Sh. Pramod Kumar Pathak, Joint Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH from Indian side and Deputy Director General Health (Medical), Ministry of Health Malaysia.
  • The Meeting had discussed the following agenda:-
  • Establishment of Ayurveda Chair in University of  UTAR, Malaysia
  • Professional training in Panchakarma therapy for Malaysian experts  in India
  • The evaluation of safety and efficacy of combination Ayurvedic/ traditional products for clinical trials.
  • Safety evaluation of Ayurvedic products based on Good Laboratory Practices (GLP)
  • Bilateral MoU between National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH and Malaysia for Cooperation in the field of Medicinal Plants.
  • Registration of Homeopathic Practitioner and their capacity building module in Malaysia.

17. 5 Day National Youth Festival to begin from 12 January, 2018

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will inaugurate the events of the National Youth Festival(NYF) on 12 January 2018 through Video conferencing and will also address the gathering.

  • The Festival will commence on the occasion of birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the youth icon of India.
  • The inaugural function will be co-presided by Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri Yogi Adityanath, and Union Minister for State (Independent Charge) of Youth Affairs and Sports Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore.
  • Union Minister for Culture (Independent Charge) Shri Mahesh Sharma will be the guest of honour on the occasion.
  • The Festival is organised by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt. of India in collaboration with State Govt. of Uttar Pradesh at Gautam Buddha University, Gautam Budh nagar, Greater Noida from 12th to 16th January, 2018.
  • This is the first time that the National Youth Festival is being organized in NCR.
  • The objective of organizing NYF is to provide a platform to bring the youth of the country together in an attempt to provide them opportunity to showcase their talents in various activities.
  • National Youth Festival (NYF) is the biggest Youth Festival of its kind in the Country.
  • This is the 22nd National Youth Festival. The 1st National Youth Festival was held in 1995 in Bhopal.

18. Indian Air Force Conquers ‘Seven Summits’

An expert team of IAF mountaineers had successfully scaled highest peaks of six different continents earlier and had recently embarked upon its culminating expedition to Mt Vinson in Antarctica to complete Mission Seven Summits.

  • A five member team led by Gp Capt RC Tripathi VM(G) was flagged off by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa PVSM AVSM YSM VM ADC, Chief of Air Staff, on   08 Dec 17.
  • The team now has returned successfully after proudly flying the Tricolour and IAF flag on the highest peak of Antarctica on 25 Dec 2017 at 1845 hrs and thus created yet another glorious moment for the IAF.
  • With this, Indian Air Force becomes the first organisation in India to have completed ‘Seven Summits’, indeed a rare feat to achieve.

19. Ministry of Railway launches SFOORTI Application

In a major digital initiative to help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations, Ministry of Railways have launched Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) App.

  • This is an app for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard.

20. GAIL to Set Up India’s 1st Coal-to-gas Conversion Plant

India’s first plant to convert coal to synthetic gas is to be set up in Odisha under the supervision of state-run gas transmission utility GAIL, the Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.

  • This synthetic gas is expected to be cheaper than natural gas,” the Minister said.
  • According to sources here, GAIL has roped in other public sector undertakings like Coal India, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers and Fertilizer Corp of India for the project, which will generate ammonia synthesis gas from coal.

21. ISRO to launch 100th satellite on 12 January

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its 100th satellite at 9.29 am on January 12 from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40), on its 42nd mission, will carry ‘Cartosat-2’, a weather observation satellite and 30 other satellites.
  • With the countdown for lift-off already underway, this is ISRO’s first launch in 2018.
  • It is also the first after the unsuccessful mission of IRNSS-1H in August last year.

22. PSLV successfully launches 31 satellites in a single flight

ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty second flight, successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Remote Sensing Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

  • This flight is designated as PSLV-C40.
  • The lift-off of PSLV-C40 occurred at 0929 hrs (9:29 am) IST from the First Launch Pad.
  • After a flight lasting 16 minutes 37 seconds, the satellites achieved the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 503 km inclined at an angle of 97.55 degree to the equator.
  • In the succeeding seven minutes, Cartosat-2 series satellite, INS-1C and 28 customer satellites successfully separated from the PSLV in a predetermined sequence.
  • The fourth stage of PSLV-C40 fired twice for short durations to achieve a polar orbit of 365 km height in which India’s Microsat successfully separated.
  • After separation, the two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite deployed automatically and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru took over the control of the satellite.
  • The 11 kg INS-1C and the 100 kg class Microsat, the two Indian co-passenger satellites of Cartosat-2, are also being monitored and controlled from ISTRAC, Bengaluru.
  • The 28 international customer satellites belong to Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, UK and the USA.

23. ‘Short Film’ making competition on ‘SAUBHAGYA’ Scheme

Pradhan Mantri Har Ghar Sahaj Bijli Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) has been launched by Government of India with the objective of achieving universal household electrification by providing last mile connectivity to all household in rural and urban areas by March 2019.

  • Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), a Navratna Company functioning under the purview of the Ministry of Power, is organizing a ‘Short Film’ making contest to create awareness about the SAUBHAGYA scheme and to involve general public as ambassadors of the programme.
  • Categories of the Short Films/Videos should include
  • Role of Electrification in Nation Building
  • Real life stories of impact of Electrification on Women Empowerment
  • Real life stories of impact of Electrification on Entrepreneurship
  • Real life stories of impact of Electrification on Healthcare Improvement
  • Real life stories of impact of Electrification on Education Improvement
  • Real life stories of impact of Electrification on Agriculture

24. Mumbai to host first summit on Createch in India

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) will hold the India-UK Createch Summit in Mumbai on February 6.

  • This first-of-its-kind conference will celebrate and explore the convergence of creativity and technology – Createch – and the innovations produced by its application across a range of sectors
  • The conference will be followed by an evening reception marking the launch of the new VisitBritain marketing campaign in India titled ‘Find Your GREAT Britain’.

25. Delhi and Punjab richest states, Jain wealthiest community

Jains are the wealthiest religious community in India. Delhi and Punjab are the richest states. Bihar is the poorest.

  • These are the findings of the fourth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), recently released by the ministry of health and family welfare.
  • Conducted over 6 lakh Indian households in 2015-16, it also reveals poverty as a largely rural phenomenon.

26. Election Commission sets up panel to suggest new poll rules

The Election Commission has set up a 14-member panel to study how social media and other digital platforms are used ahead of polls and make suggestions on how to adapt the Model Code of Conduct to these changes.

  • The panel has three months to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, which currently prohibits all campaigning 48 hours before voting.
  • The Election Commission said Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha will head the committee.

27. 7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’ to be held in Karnataka

To celebrate the idea of unity in diversity, the Ministry of Culture is organising the 7th edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix in Karnataka beginning January 14, 2018.

  • The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananth Kumar and The Union Minister of State for Culture (I/C) and Environment, Dr. Mahesh Sharma will inaugurate the Mahotsav on 14th January 2018 at the Jnana Jyothi Auditorium, Palace Road, Gandhi Nagar, and Bengaluru.
  • The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was launched by the Prime Minister on 31st October, 2016 to promote engagement amongst the people of different states/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.
  • The State paired with Karnataka is Uttarakhand.

28. President of India Inaugurates Economic Democracy Conclave

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the ‘Economic Democracy Conclave’ organised by Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini at Thane, Maharashtra on January 14, 2018.

  • The President said that it is very important for our country and society to strengthen economic democracy through entrepreneurship.
  • He praised the Prabodhini team for its contribution to strengthening the political, economic and social dimensions of our democracy for the past 35 years.

29. Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk

As a symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel, India renamed the iconic Teen Murti Chowk, a war memorial, during the visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • The new name of the war memorial located in a roundabout near the Teen Murti Bhavan, the official residence of the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru will be, Teen Murti Haifa Chowk.
  • Teen Murti War Memorial has three life-size bronze statues representing the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who participated in the Battle of Haifa for the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.

30. Ministry of Petroleum launches Saksham 2018 Campaign

The Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has launched month long Saksham 2018 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav).

  • Saksham is annual flagship event of PCRA with active involvement of Oil & Gas PSUs along with other stakeholders like State Governments.
  • During this month long Saksham-2018, various interactive programs and activities are planned with the campaign on fuel conservation, getting a kick-start in a mega inaugural function to be held at Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi on 16th January, 2018.

31. Government plans to auction ‘enemy’ properties worth Rs 1 lakh crore

Over 9,400 ‘enemy’ properties, worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore, are set to be auctioned with the home ministry starting the process of identifying all such estates, officials said.

  • The properties were left behind by people who took citizenship of Pakistan and China.
  • The move came after the amendment of the 49-year-old Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Act which ensured that the heirs of those who migrated to Pakistan and China during Partition and afterwards will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.

32. Government to raise 15 new battalions for Pakistan, China borders

The government is planning to raise 15 new battalions in the country’s two important border guarding forces – the BSF and the ITBP – to fortify defence along the strategic frontiers with Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.

  • A senior official in the Union Home Ministry told PTI that it is “actively considering” raising six fresh battalions in the Border Security Force (BSF) and nine in the Indo- Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force.
  • Each battalion of these forces comprises about 1,000 operational jawans and officers.

33. 70th Army Day: 15 January 2018

The Indian Army is all set to celebrate 70th Army Day, with parades and shows at its major locations across the country.

  • The celebration marks the day Field Marshal KM Cariappa took over as the first Indian chief of the nation’s Army in 1949.
  • The parade will be reviewed by Army chief General Bipin Rawat. He will also present gallantry and other awards to army personnel.

34. List of MoUs signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel to India

MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation between India and Israel

  • MoU between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of Energy on Cooperation in oil and Gas Sector
  • Protocol between India and Israel on Amendments to the Air Transport Agreement
  • Agreement on Film-co-production between India and Israel
  • MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Cooperation in the field of Research in Homeopathic Medicine
  • MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for cooperation in the field ofspace
  • Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd for cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies

35. Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurates Gigabit Connectivity with Sri Lanka

Union Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and IT Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad is on an official visit to Sri Lanka.

  • On the first day of his visit, he inaugurated the gigabit connectivity between the National Knowledge Network of India and LEARN network of Sri Lanka.
  • This dedicated high speed internet connectivity will boost the collaboration among the academic institutions of India and Sri Lanka.

36. Union Home Minister inaugurates IWDRI 2018

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) in New Delhi.

  • The two-day workshop is being organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  • Underlining the importance of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Shri Rajnath Singh said that it creates opportunities for economic growth and is at the core of sustainable development.

37. UIDAI to add face verification option for Aadhaar authentication

The Unique Identification Authority of India, the Aadhaar-issuing authority, has decided to enable face recognition as another means of authentication from July 1, 2018.

  • The decision comes at a time when problems arising due to mismatch of biometrics are being reported about, including those faced by senior citizens with fading fingerprints.

38. PNB ties up with NSFDC for assisting SC families

Punjab National Bank (PNB) and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) have tied up to provide financial assistance for economic empowerment of persons belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) families living below Double Poverty Line (DPL).

  • Under this tie-up, PNB would act as a channelising agent for the loan schemes of NSFDC.
  • Concessional finance and skill training grants would be provided to unemployed SC persons living below Double Poverty Line.

39. World Bank projects 7.3% growth for India

India’s growth rate in 2018 is projected to hit 7.3% and 7.5% in the next two years, according to the World Bank, which said the country has “enormous growth potential” compared to other emerging economies.

  • India is estimated to have grown at 6.7% in 2017 despite initial setbacks from demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

40. IndusInd Bank to roll out battery-powered payment cards

IndusInd Bank and Dynamics Inc announced plans to introduce the first battery-powered, interactive payment cards in the Indian market in 2018.

  • The new IndusInd Bank card from Pennsylvania-based Dynamics has multiple buttons that let the consumer use a single card to pay in multiple ways.

41. India top borrower from China-sponsored AIIB in 2017

India has emerged as a top borrower from the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with USD 1.5 billion worth of loans last year and USD three billion more in the pipeline.

  • Next to India, Indonesia has emerged as the second largest borrower with about USD 600 million loans.

Points to Remember

  • India is the second largest share holder in the bank which has an authorised capital of USD 100 billion.
  • China is the largest shareholder with 26.06 per cent voting shares in the bank. India is the second largest shareholder with 7.5 per cent followed by Russia 5.93 per cent and Germany with 4.5 per cent.
  • Its headquarters is in Beijing. Jin Liqun is the president of AIIB.
  • AIIB has 61 members. It was established on 25 December 2015.

42. IDFC Bank, Capital First announce the merger

IDFC Bank has announced its merger with the Mumbai-based Capital First, which has more than 5 million customers in retail and small and medium enterprises.

  • Shareholders in Capital First will receive 139 shares of the bank for every 10 shares held, the lender said in a stock exchange filing.
  • The deal is conditional on central bank and other regulatory approvals.
  • Vaidyanathan, currently Chairman and MD of Capital First, will succeed Rajiv Lall as MD and CEO of the combined entity.

43. Italy to ‘partner’ in Bengal Global Business Summit

Italy will participate as a partner country in the upcoming Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) for the second year in a row.

  • A delegation of over 30 companies from Italy, mostly from transport, infrastructure, metals and leather sectors, will be present at the two-day annual investment summit to be held on January 16 and 17.
  • The delegation, headed by Italian Ambassador to India Lorenzo Angeloni, will open the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Points to Remember

  • Italy is a unitary parliamentary republic in Europe. With around 61 million inhabitants it is the fourth most populous EU member state.
  • Its Capital is Rome. Euro is the currency of Italy.
  • Sergio Mattarella is the president of Italy while Paolo Gentiloni is the Prime Minister.

44. Federal Bank ties up with Hedge Equities

Federal Bank has entered into a strategic partnership with Hedge Equities Ltd for providing Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) services to NRIs.

  • A formal agreement was executed in which Jose K Mathew (EVP & Head Retail Business, Federal Bank) and Alex Babu (MD, Hedge Equities Ltd) exchanged the MoU announcing the tie-up.
  • Federal Bank is authorised by the RBI to issue permission letter to NRIs on behalf of the RBI to transact in secondary market.

45. Dilip Asbe appointed MD & CEO of NPCI

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an umbrella organisation for retail payment systems in India, has appointed Dilip Asbe as Managing Director and CEO of the organisation.

  • Prior to this, Asbe was CEO-in-charge of NPCI.
  • Asbe was appointed CEO-in-charge in August last year.
  • He had come in place of AP Hota, whose term as MD and CEO had ended on August 10 last year.

46. 12-member panel to take a call on National Anthem in cinema halls

The Union Home Ministry has appointed a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, which would take a final call on the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls and public places.

  • The committee, led by Additional Secretary B.R. Sharma, will recommend changes.
  • The first meeting of the committee will be held on January 19 and It will submit its report within six months.

47. Indian-origin businessman appointed WBCSD Chairman

Singapore-based Indian-origin businessman Sunny Verghese has been appointed as the Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

  • Verghese, 57, Co-Founder and the CEO of Singapore’s agri-business group Olam International Limited, is the first World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Chair from the agri-sector.
  • He succeeded Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, on January 1 and will serve a two-year term.

Points to Remember

  • WBCSD is a global network of more than 200 CEOs who are responsible for a combined revenue of more than USD 8.5 trillion and 19 million employees.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

48. A R Rahman becomes Sikkim’s brand ambassador

Music composer A R Rahman has been appointed as the brand ambassador of Sikkim.

  • The declaration was made by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling who felicitated the legendary music composer during an inauguration of the 11-day Sikkim Red Panda Winter Carnival at Palzor Stadium in Gangtok.
  • Sikkim hopes that Rahman’s appointment as the brand ambassador would give a huge fillip to the tourism of the state.

49. ISRO names Sivan K as new chairman

The government has appointed renowned scientist Sivan K as the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to replace of A S Kiran Kumar.

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved his appointment as secretary, Department of Space and chairman of Space Commission for a tenure of three years.
  • Sivan, at present Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, will succeed Kumar, who was appointed on January 12, 2015.

50. Kajol named ambassador for Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat

Actress Kajol, an active supporter of eradicating preventable deaths from hygiene-related issues, has become an advocacy ambassador for a Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat initiative.

  • Kajol took to Twitter to urge people to become “swachhta doot” and contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

51. GJEPC announces Pramod Agarwal as its new chairman

The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) announced the appointment of the new chairman and vice-chairman after the results of the high-voltage counting for the election.

  • Pramod Agarwal has been appointed as the chairman of GJEPC, while Colin Shah has been appointed as the vice-chairman for the year 2017-19.
  • Agarwal will take over the reigns from the outgoing chairman Praveenshanker Pandya.

52. Indu Malhotra becomes 1st woman lawyer directly appointed for SC judgeship

The Supreme Court collegium has recommended the name of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as the first woman lawyer to be directly appointed as a judge of the apex court.

  • She will be the seventh woman judge since independence to make it to the Supreme Court.
  • At present, Justice R Banumathi is the lone woman judge in the apex court.
  • The first woman to be appointed as a judge of the apex court was Justice M Fathima Beevi in 1989.

53. Anil Khanna to head IOA Finance Commission

Senior sports administrator Anil Khanna was named Chairman of the Finance Commission of the Indian Olympic Association, which also formed a four- member advisory committee.

  • The IOA also formed a Medical Commission and Games Technical Conduct Committee and nominated office bearers of IOA and National Sports Federations (NSFs) to the Committees.
  • The advisory committee comprises Tarlochan Singh, GS Mander, S Regunathan and BS Landge.

54. Sebi approves Vijay Kumar’s appointment as NCDEX MD & CEO

Market regulator Sebi has approved appointment of Vijay Kumar as Managing Director and CEO of the country’s largest agri-commodity bourse NCDEX.

  • Kumar, a former chief business officer at NCDEX, is likely to assume the office next week.
  • He will replace Samir Shah, whose more than four years tenure comes to end this month.

55. Nitish conferred with 1st Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Award

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has been selected for the 1st Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Award for Probity in Public Life.

  • He was conferred the award at an official function of Jammu & Kashmir government held at Jammu.
  • The award was constituted recently by the Jammu and Kashmir government to commemorate the death anniversary of PDP founder and two-time J&K chief minister Sayeed.
  • Sayeed was father of J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti.

56. The full list of winners of the Golden Globes 2018

  • Best actress in a limited series or television movie: Nicole Kidman
  • Best supporting actor in a motion picture (drama): Sam Rockwell
  • Best supporting actor in a series, limited series or TV film: Alexander Skarsgård
  • Best actor (comedy/musical): James Franco
  • Best animated film: Coco
  • Best foreign film: In the Fade
  • Best film director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Best actress in a film (comedy/musical): Saoirse Ronan
  • Best film (comedy/musical): Lady Bird
  • Best actor (drama): Gary Oldman
  • Best actress (drama): Frances McDormand
  • Best film (drama): Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

57. Shahrukh Khan to get Crystal Award at WEF Davos Summit

Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan will get the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, along with Hollywood star Cate Blanchett and legendary musician Sir Elton John.

  • Khan will get the award for “his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) said.
  • The past awardees from India include Amitabh Bachchan, Mallika Sarabhai, A R Rahman, Shabana Azmi, Ravi Shankar and Amjad Ali Khan.

58. India’s first all-women railway station in Mumbai enters Limca records

The first all-women station in India, Matunga on Central Railway (CR), manned by a staff of 41 women, has entered the Limca Book of Records.

  • The unique initiative was taken by CR General Manager D.K. Sharma in July 2017 with the aim of empowering women.

59. Kozhikode railway station cleanest, Nizamuddin gets lowest

The Kozhikode railway station in Kerala was ranked the best by travellers while the Hazrat Nizamuddin here was given the lowest ratings in terms of cleanliness, a survey by an app-based travel portal  ixigo said.

  • It also found that around 40 per cent stations, found cleanest by users, were in the south followed by 20 per cent in central India and the same in the west.
  • Swarna Jayanti Rajdhani has been rated the cleanest train, while the Karnataka Express got the lowest ratings for the same.

60. Actor Sudhir Dalvi gets Janakavi P Sawlaram award

Actor Sudhir Dalvi was honoured with the Janakavi P Sawlaram award at a function in Thane, Maharashtra.

  • The award is jointly given by the Thane Municipal Corporation and the Janakavi P Savlaram Kala Samiti.
  • Well-known dancer Jaishree T was bestowed with the Ganga Jamuna award, which is instituted in memory of a popular song written by Sawlaram.

61. Simon beats Anderson to win inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra

Gilles Simon defeated second seed Kevin Anderson in straight sets to lift the inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra trophy.

  • The unseeded French player, ranked 89, tamed big-serving Anderson, ranked 14 in the world, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the summit clash.

62. Yusuf Pathan Suspended by BCCI After Dope Violation

In a shocking revelation, all-rounder Yusuf Pathan had failed a dope test during a domestic match last season.

  • The member of the 2011 World Cup winning side has been suspended for the violation.
  • Pathan had provided a urine sample as part of the BCCI’s anti-doping testing program during a domestic T-20 competition on 16th March 2017 in New Delhi.
  • His sample was subsequently tested and found to contain Terbutaline.
  • Terbutaline, a specified substance, is prohibited both In & Out of Competition in the WADA Prohibited List of Substances.

63. Aditya wins Kolkata Open Snooker meet

Veteran cueist Aditya Mehta won the Kolkata Open 2018 International Invitation Snooker Championship at the Hindustan Club in Kolkata.

  • He edged out Englishman Alfie Burden 5-4 in a thrilling final.
  • In other semi-final, Aditya Mehta beat Brijesh Damani 5-4 to meet Alfie in the final.

64. Aanchal Thakur gives India its 1st international medal in skiing

Manali resident Aanchal Thakur made history by winning India’s first-ever international medal in skiing.

  • The 21-year-old clinched bronze in the coveted Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organised by the Federation Internationale de Ski in Turkey.
  • She won the medal in the slalom race category.

65. Sarjubala Devi claims gold in National Women’s Boxing Championship

Former world silver-medallist Sarjubala Devi (48kg), representing Manipur, claimed the gold as well as the best boxer trophy in the National Women’s Boxing Championships.

  • Sarjubala edged past Haryana’s Ritu 3-2 to clinch Manipur’s lone gold medal and her second successive national title.
  • Railways Sports Promotion Board emerged overall champions.

66. Hyderabad Hunters claim maiden title in PBL 3

Hyderabad Hunters overcame a fighting Bengaluru Blasters 4-3 in a thrilling summit clash to claim their maiden title at the third Premier Badminton League (PBL) in Hyderabad.

  • Mixed Doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Pia Bernadet put up a dominant display in the last match of the encounter to clinch the the title and the winners’ prize purse for the Hunters.

67. Assam wins 8th Sub-junior National Hockey C’ship

Hosts Assam Hockey rallied back from a 0-2 setback in the first half to beat Hockey Rajasthan 3-2 in the final of the 8th Hockey India Sub Junior Men National Championship 2018 (B Division).

  • In the third and fourth placing match, Hockey Himachal beat Hockey Him 1-0 in a closely-fought encounter.

68. Veteran Hindi writer Doodhnath Singh passes away

Eminent Hindi writer Doodhnath Singh passed away on 12 January 2018. He was 81.

  • His literary journey had many milestones. He is known for his works like “Sapaat Chehre Wala Aadmi”, “Aakhri Kalaam”, “Nishkaasan”, “Bhai Ka Shok Geet”, “Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra” and “Surang se Lautate Huye”.
  • Awarded the Bharat Bharti award, Singh was very active in political commentaries.

69. Former Union Minister Raghunath Jha passes away in Delhi

Senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Union Minister Raghunath Jha passed away at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

  • Raghunath Jha, 78, was Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise in the UPA government led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
  • He was elected Member of Parliament twice from Gopalgunj and Bettiah Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar and was also six-time legislator from Sheohar Assembly constituency of the State.

70. Sarod maestro Pt Buddhadev Dasgupta passes away

Sarod maestro Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta was died of cardiac arrest at his residence in south Kolkata. He was 84.

  • The Padma Bhushan awardee had been suffering from respiratory problems for the past few days.
  • He was conferred Sangeet Mahasamman and Bangabibhusan in 2015.
  • The musician, born in 1933 at his maternal home in Bhagalpur, Bihar, learnt sarod under the tutelage of Pt Radhikamohan Moitra.

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