Railways to launch Operation Swarn to revamp Rajdhani, Shatabdi Trains
The Railway Ministry will launch “Operation Swarn” (swarn means gold in Hindi) to improve services in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains. The move has come as a response to repeated complaints of deteriorated services, low quality of food and poor sanitation in these trains.
i. ‘Operation Swarn’ will be conducted in a phased manner. Under the first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation, for which the work will start from September 2017.
ii. An amount of Rs 50 lakh will be allotted to each Rajdhani and Shatabdi train on various routes for the revamp.
EPFO signs MoU with HUDCO under new Housing Scheme of EPF & MP Act-1952
EPFO, a retirement fund body will sign a pact with the Housing and Urban Development Corp (HUDCO) on 23rd of July, 2017
i. Under the Pradhan Mantri AwasYojana it enables members of its housing scheme to avail subsidy and interest subvention.
ii. According to statement the MoU will be signed in the presence of Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
iii. The agreement is regarding coverage of EPFO subscribers under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
iv .It will provide them various benefits like cheap loans for buying homes.
v. Under the housing scheme, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) allows its subscribers from societies for withdrawing up to 90% of their EPF accumulations to buy homes.
vi. The HUDCO is a nodal agency for implementation of credit linked subsidy scheme for middle and lower-income groups and economically weaker section under the PMAY.
Kerala becomes 3rd state to be open defecation free
Kerala has become the third Open Defecation Free (ODF) state in the country announced on the state’s foundation day on 22nd of June 2017.
i. Earlier, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim had declared themselves Open Defecation Free.
ii. In Kerala over 1 lakh villages across the country have become ODF.
iii. Kerala becomes first high density populated state in the country to achieve Open Defecation Free status.
iv. A source said three more states–Gujarat, Haryana and Uttarakhand–will be announcing themselves as ODF soon.
♦ Capital: Thiruananthapuram
♦ CM: Pinarayi Vijayan
♦ Governor: P. Sathasivam
Mizoram launches scheme for better treatment of HIV-Hit people
The Mizoram Health Minister Lal Thanzara has launched the ‘Test and Treat Strategy’ of the Mizoram state AIDS Control Society (MSACS) to improve treatment for HIV affected people in the state.
i. Under the ‘Test and Treat Strategy’, the HIV affected people would be given free Anti Retrovira Therapy (ART) irrespective of the CD4 count.
ii. The Test and Treat Strategy is a new initiative of the Centre to combat the HIV/AIDS disease.
iii. Lal Thanzara appealed to the churches and NGOs in the state to cooperate with the state government in combating HIV/AIDS at a war-footing.
iv. Anti Retrovira Therapy (ART) has been found to be able to resist TB and other bacterial diseases.
♦ Capital: Aizawal
♦ CM: Pu Lal Thanhawla
♦ Governor: Lt General Nirbhay Sharma
UN report World Population Prospects – The 2017 Revision
According to ‘World Population Prospects – The 2017 Revision’ released by United Nations on Jun 21, 2017, world’s population will surpass the 8 billion mark in year 2023.
i. The population of India is expected to surpass that of China by year 2024.
ii. The report said, the current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.
iii. Currently China with 1.41 billion inhabitants and India with 1.34 billion remain the two most populous countries, comprising 19% and 18% of the total global population.
2017 BIO International Convention held in US
2017 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention was held in the San Diego Convention Centre, San Diego, US from 19th June to 22nd June, 2017.
i. Indian delegation taking part in 2017 BIO International Convention, was led by Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences.
ii. Y S Chowdary also released a 60-page India Biotech Handbook 2017, showcasing the strengths of India’s fast-growing $42 billion Bio-Economy.
Estonia to open the world’s first data embassy in Luxembourg
Prime Minister of Estonia Juri Ratas and Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel have signed an agreement on housing data and information systems between the two countries.
i. It will create the world’s first data embassy. The data embassy should start work at the beginning of 2018.
ii. It will serve in the field of transnational digital cooperation both in Europe and throughout the world.
iii. This will be the first data embassy in the world and its establishment is a part of the Estonian general strategy of data management and fundamentally a double guarantee to our data and services.
iv. Estonia is the world’s first country that uses this method to double secure its digital consistency in close cooperation with Luxembourg.
v. Prime Minister Ratas also invited his Luxembourg colleague to the digital-themed summit that will take place in Tallinn on 29 September.
Some More Points:
♦ Estonia Capital: Tallinn
♦ Estonia Currency: Euro
♦ Luxembourg Capital:Luxumbourg City
♦ Luxembourg Currency: Euro
Beijing launches research project to compile data on disputed region
China has launched a research project to compile historical data obtained during expeditions by its teams to the disputed South China Sea since the late 1950s.
i. Researchers will collect and compile valuable data and materials obtained during China’s major ocean expeditions to the South China Sea. It is affiliated with islands and reefs.
ii. The project has the participation of 193 scholars from 10 domestic research institutions and universities.
iii. They all are specialise in fields such as marine life, ecology, fishery and geology.
iv. The project is one of the 14 resource investigation programmes approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
v. It will provide insight into the resources, environment and changes related to the South China Sea and its affiliated islands and reefs.
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI announces names of members of Overseeing Committee
On June 22, 2017, Reserve Bank of India announced names of the members of Overseeing Committee which was given an expanded mandate after the promulgation of the new NPA ordinance.
Composition of Overseeing Committee (OC):
i. OC earlier was a two-member committee consisting of former Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar and former State Bank of India chairman Janki Ballabh.
ii. Another three members have been added – former L&T Finance Holdings Chairman YM Deosthalee, former Canara Bank chairman MBN Rao and SEBI whole time member S Raman whose appointment will be effective from 7th September, 2017.
iii. Pradeep Kumar has been named as the chairman of this 5-member committee.
iv. In addition to reviewing cases being restructured under the Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A), the reconstituted OC will also review resolution of cases where aggregate exposure of the banking sector to the borrowing entity is greater than Rs 500 crore
Govt wants banks to deposit banned Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes at RBI by July 20
The government has permitted banks and post offices to deposit junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with the Reserve Bank by July 20, 2017
i. The earlier window was open till December 31, a day after the 50-day period of demonetisation of high value currency.
ii. This is the second window the government has provided to banks, post offices and cooperative banks for depositing the junked notes with RBI.
iii. RBI will accept deposits collected by any bank or post office by December 30, 2016 or by any District Central Cooperative Bank from November 10-14, 2016 should be deposited within 30 days.
iv. Old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were junked from November 8, 2016 to eliminate black money and curb infusion and circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICNs).
v. As on November 8, 2016, the total amount of currency in circulation was Rs 17.7 lakh crore, which included specified bank notes (SBNs) of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
World Bank sanctions 44 million dollars for ASPIRe
World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has sanctioned a loan assistance of 44 million dollars for the Assam State Public Finance Institutional Reforms (ASPIRe) Project.
i. The meeting which held on 15th June at Washington DC, USA under this the loan was sanction by World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).
ii. ASPIRe project is based on three important components:
1.Strengthening public finance institutional capacity
2.Strengthening expenditure and revenue information systems
3.On project management, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination.
iii. The project aims at improving predictability and transparency in budget execution and efficiency in tax administration in Assam.
iv. All government departments and functionaries – especially finance, taxation and excise departments – will benefit from this project.
v. From people view point transformative benefits accruing to them through efficient processes, better service delivery such as electronic payments and collections for services.
♦ Capital: Dispur
♦ CM: Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Governor: Banwarilal Purohit
Bengaluru firm 1st in India to deliver diesel at home
Bengaluru has become the country’s first city where one can have fuel delivered at one’s doorstep. It is similar like the delivery of milk and newspapers. It has been announced on 22nd June 2017.
i.For up to 100 litres, the one-time delivery charge is Rs.99.
ii. Above 100 litres, one needs to pay the diesel price plus one additional rupee per litre.
iii. The startup has got 20 odd customers, including 16 schools (which have 250-300 buses) and a few apartments.
iv. One can place orders online, through a phone call or by downloading the free app.
v. The vehicles used for delivery have been specially made by a firm approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation.
vi. On June 15, Mypetrolpump, a one-year-old startup, conducted a soft launch with three delivery vehicles -each with a capacity of 950 litres.
vii.It has already delivered more than 5,000 litres of diesel.
♦ Capital of Karnataka
♦ NP: Bannerghatta National Park
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Anti-hunger hero Ankit Kawatra to be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II
Anti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra has been selected for prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award with 60 others from all 53 Commonwealth countries.
i. He will be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony to be held in the Buckingham Palace, UK on June 29, 2017.
ii. The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
Sonam Kapoor’s fashion label Rheson wins PETA award
Actress SonamKapoor and her producer-sister Rhea Kapoor’s fashion label Rheson has won the Compassionate Business Award from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)on 22nd June 2017.
i. India for a line of bags made exclusively of vegan materials.
ii. Rheson is setting trends by providing optimum quality fashion wear and accessories made of vegan materials, harming no animals
iii. Sonam was crowned as PETA’s Hottest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2016.
International Dublin Literary Award goes to José Eduardo Agualusa
The International Dublin Literary Award has been awarded to the Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agualusa on 21nd of June for his 14th novel, A General Theory of Oblivion.
i. It is translated into English by Daniel Hahn.
ii. The Dublin Literary Award is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English.
iii. The prize ceremony held at the Mansion House on June 21, 2017
iv. The €100,000 prize is divided between author and translator, with Agualusa receiving €75,000 and Hahn €25,000.
v. A General Theory of Oblivion is about the story of a traumatised woman Luanda, who retreats from the world and history and stays in an apartment while Angola endures a civil war and a sequence of horrors. Her isolation is shared with an albino dog Phantom, whose spirit continues to sustain her after he dies.
vi. The Irish Literary Award is organized and sponsored by Dublin City Council and has been running for 22 years.
vii. A General Theory of Oblivion was chosen by an international panel of judges from a final shortlist of ten.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Major reshuffle in central bureaucracy, Gauba named new Home Secretary
In a high level reshuffle, the government has transferred 17 IAS officers on 22nd June 2017.The Urban Development Secretary Rajiv Gauba will be the next Home Secretary after incumbent Rajiv Mehrishi retires on August 30.
i. Yudhvir Singh Malik, a 1983-batch Haryana cadre officer, has been appointed as Secretary, Road Transport and Highways.
ii. Subhash C. Garg, a 1983-batch Rajsthan cadre officer serving as Executive Director at World Bank. He has been made Secretary of Economic Affairs.
iii. Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Aruna Sundarajan has been appointed as Telecommunications Secretary.
Kenneth I Juster set to become America’s new ambassador to India
Kenneth I Juster is set to be America’s new ambassador to India on 22nd of June 2017.
i. Kenneth I Juster is a 62-year-old who is the Deputy Assistant to the US president for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of his National Economic Council.
ii. Kenneth I Juster would replace Richard Vermaif.
iii. According to the Walters Ken has been selected for this post because Ken has a strong and positive relationship with everyone in the White House, including the president.
iv. The move has been welcomed by widely respected Ashley Telis, the top India expert in the US.
♦ Capital: Washington D.C. (D.C. means District of Columbia)
♦ Currency: US Dollar
♦ President: Donald trump
♦ VP: Mike Pence
Indian-origin doctor appointed honorary VP of UK medical body
Indian-origin doctor Kailash Chand in the UK has been appointed as honorary vice-president of the country’s prominent medical body. He is becoming the first professional from the community to be appointed to the post.
i. Kailash Chand is a general practitioner and has been associated with the British Medical Association (BMA), for nearly 25 years.
ii. Chand is a senior fellow of the BMA, which is a professional body and trade union representing over 160,000 doctors in the UK.
iii. He has been regularly named as being among one of Britain’s top 50 most influential GPs in the annual ‘National Pulse Power’ list.
iv. Chand is also a popular medical journalist and writes regular articles for various journals and newspapers.
v. He had awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the NHS in 2010.
vi. The Shimla-born former deputy chairman of the BMA has worked in the UK’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) for nearly 40 years.
Russian Diplomat Vladimir Voronkov as Chief of United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre
On June 21, 2017, United Nations (UN)’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed a veteran Russian diplomat, Vladimir Voronkov, as the first head of the UN’s newly established Counter terrorism Office.
About Vladimir Voronkov:
i. Voronkov has over 30 years of experience with the Russian Foreign Service, working primarily within the UN.
ii. He had served as Russia’s representative to UN organizations in Vienna, Austria, since 2011, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which deals with counterterrorism.
iii. Voronkov has also served as Russia’s deputy ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), from 2005 to 2008, and on the board of governors of the UN’s global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Luke Ronchi announces international retirement
Wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi, who played for New Zealand and having earlier also represented Australia, has announced his retirement from the international game on 22nd of June 2017.
i. It became his hallmark when he hit a one-day half century from 22 balls, the equal third-fastest 50 by an Australian in ODIs.
ii. Ronchi was born in New Zealand but raised in Australia.
iii. His most memorable one-day innings was his 170 from 99 balls against Sri Lanka in Dunedin in 2015.
iv. Ronchi played only one more Twenty20 international for Australia after that tour and returned to his birth nation in 2012.
v. He was the first player since Kepler Wessels 20 years earlier to represent two ICC member nations.
vi. Ronchi played 4 tests, 85 one-dayers and 32 Twenty20 internationals for New Zealand.