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CURRENT AFFAIRS 29 JUNE 2017

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

War room’ set up to deal with GST crises
A“mini war room” has been set up in the finance ministry to deal with crises related to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 28th of June 2017.
Key Points:
i. Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) chief Vanaja N. Sarna said that the unit will act as a quick resource centre for Central and State government officials.
ii. It will address their queries on the historic tax reform scheduled to be implemented from1st of July .
iii. The action room, which will function from 8 am to 10 pm, will provide prompt response to queries raised by States and Central government officials.
iv. The Finance Ministry has set up a GST feedback and action room specifically for government officials to approach it with any urgent queries related to problems of GST in any area.
v. The room, equipped with computers and phone lines, will act as a single-window for anything and everything related to the GST.
vi. A team of tech-savvy young officers will be manning the “war room” to assist officials in resolving their GST-related queries.

India’s first blood bank for Cattle to come up in Odisha
Odisha is all set to become the first state in the country to have a blood bank for the cattle.
Key Notes:
i. The first of its kind blood bank would be established on the premises of OUAT at an estimated cost of Rs 3.25 crore.
ii. The Vice-chancellor of the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) is Surendra Nath Pasupalak.
iii.A proposal in this regard was earlier submitted to the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP).
iv. After approval from the NADP, the OUAT is now awaiting approval from the state government.
v. The project will have a 60:40 sharing between the Centre and the state government, the OUAT Vice-Chancellor said.
vi. The storage facility would come in handy for the veterinarians to save lives of the domesticated animals.
vii. The blood bank will also go and collect blood from centres and the cattle farmers will provide blood voluntarily.
viii. Blood transfusion facility for cattle blood will also be done at the proposed blood bank.
ix .It will prevent death of cattle during deliveries and other ailments.
About Odisha
♦ 
Capital: Bhubaneswar
♦ Governor: S.C. Jamir
♦ CM: Naveen Patnaik

Election Commission joins hands with Facebook to Launch First Time Nationwide “Voter Registration Reminder”
The Election Commission of India has collaborated with Facebook to launch a ‘voter registration reminder’ on July 1, 2017.
More Detail about ‘voter registration reminder’ on Facebook:
i. A notification of the ‘voter registration reminder’ will be sent on Facebook on July 1 to people who are eligible to vote.
ii. The reminder will be sent out in 13 languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.
iii. By clicking on the ‘register now’ button, people will be directed to the national voters’ services portal (www.nvsp.in) which will guide them through the registration
iv. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said, this is a step towards fulfilment of the motto of Election Commission ‘No Voter to be Left Behind’.
v. This is the first time Facebook has been used for enrolling new voters across India.





INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM Narendra Modi’s foreign visits to Portugal, Netherlands, US – Overview
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on an official visit to Portugal, US and the Netherlands from 24th to 27th June 2017.
i. During PM Modis’ visit to Portugal, India and Portugal signed 11 pacts for cooperation in various areas including cooperation in outer space, double taxation avoidance, nano technology, improving cultural ties, youth and sports, higher education, scientific research, and setting up of a Portugal-India Business Hub and an Indian Chamber of Commerce in Portugal.
ii. India and Portugal announced a four million Euros joint fund to bolster research in science and technology.
iii. On June 26, 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump agreed to continue strengthening coordination for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistanas they expressed concern over rising instability in the war-torn country caused by terrorism.
iv. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Netherlands on June 27, 2017, India and Netherlands signed following three agreements : MoU on water cooperation, MoU on Cultural Cooperation and Agreement on Amending Social Security Arrangement

India ranks 93rd out of 128 in Social Progress Index 2017
India has ranked 93rd among 128 countries on 2017 Social Progress Index report launched on June 21, 2017 by Social progress Imperative (SPI) with support from Deloitte and its strategic partners.
Top 5 Countries on Social Progress Index – 2017:

RankCountry
1Denmark
2Finland
3Iceland
4Norway
5Switzerland

UNESCO names Sharjah as World Book Capital 2019
Sharjah has been crowned with the prestigious ‘the World Book Capital’ for 2019 byUNESCO.
Key Points:
.It has been given for the quality of its literary and cultural activities and for its efforts to make books accessible to the entire population of the nation.
ii. It has been selected because of its innovative and inclusive application, with a community-focused activity programme.
iii. Sharjah has been chosen for the quality of its literary and cultural activities, and for its unfailing efforts to make books accessible to the entire population of the nation.
iv. Sharjah is the 19th city to become World Book Capital.
v.The recognition is an important addition to Sharjah’s existing portfolio of milestones.
vi.It includes Capital of Arab Culture (1998), Capital of Islamic Culture (2014), and Capital of Arab Tourism (2015).
vii. The Sharjah is the first in the GCC and third in the Arab world and Middle East, to have received this recognition. 
viii. The GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
ix. It hosts more than 1,500 publishers from across the world at SIBF and another premier cultural event is the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).
UNESCO :
♦ Headquarters‎: ‎ Paris, France
♦ Formation‎: ‎16 November 1945
♦ Head‎: ‎Irina Bokova





BANKING & FINANCE

India Signs Loan Agreement with the World Bank for USD 35 Million for “Assam State Public Financial Institutional Reforms Project”
India has signed aLoan Agreement with the World Bank for USD 35 Million for Assam State Public Financial Institutional Reforms Project.
Key Points:
i. An agreement for IBRD Credit of USD 35 Million from World Bank for Assam State Public Financial Institutional Reforms Project was signed on 28th of June at New Delhi.
ii. The programme size is USD 44 million, of which USD 35 million will be financed by the Bank, and the remaining amount will be funded out of State Budget.
iii. The programme duration is 5 years.
iv. The agreement was signed by Shri Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (MI), Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. John Blomquist acting Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.
v. The objective of the project is to improve predictability and transparency in budget execution and efficiency in tax administration in Assam.
vi. The project will benefit the citizens of Assam through efficient processes, enhanced transparency and better service delivery provided by public institutions.
vii. The services include electronic payments and collections for services, better public procurement, and enhanced taxpayer services.
World Bank
♦ Formed on: July 1945
♦ HQ: Washington D.C. USA
♦ President: Jim Yong Kim

World’s first ATM machine turns to gold on 50th birthday
The first ATM was presented by Barclays at their Enfield branch in north London on Jun 27, 1967.The first ATM machine turns to gold on 50th birthday on 28th of June.
Key Notes:
i. The first person to use the inaugural ATM was actor Reg Varney, the star of a popular British TV comedy called “On The Buses”, brought in to show how easy it was to use.
ii. The original cash machine was the brainchild of John Shepherd-Barron, who was commissioned by the bank to create six cash dispensers. They were based on vending machines.
iii. A black-and-white picture of Varney using the ATM stands above it, while a commemorative gold plaque has been placed on the bank wall.
iv. There now are an estimated 3 million plus cash machines in the world.
v. The world’s most southerly ATM is at the McMurdo Station research base on Antarctica.
vi. The highest ATM is at 4,693 metres in Pakistan’s Khunjerab Pass near the Chinese border.





BUSINESS

FSSAI issues draft regulations for organic food products
In a bid to ensure authenticity of organic food, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come out with a draft regulation for organic food products.
i. Organic foods will have to comply with the provisions under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) administered by the government or the Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India) run by the Agriculture Ministry or any other standards notified by the food authority.
ii. The draft regulation mandates that labelling of organic foods should convey full and accurate information on the organic status of the product.
iii. Organic food products should also carry a certification mark or a quality assurance mark given by any of the notified certification bodies.

NPPA announces provisional ceiling prices of 761 medicines including anti-cancer, HIV
On June 26, 2017, India’s drug price regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) announced provisional ceiling prices for 761 medicines, including HIV, diabetes, anti-cancer and antibiotic.
i. Prices for a majority of drug are being reduced as the GST regime is nearing its implementation deadline of July 1, 2017.
ii. According to NPPA Chairman Bhupendra Singh, the actual increase or decrease in drug prices post-GST is expected to be in the range of 2-3% depending on states.
iii. NPPA has asked pharma companies to intimate corrections by June 29, 2017.
iv. Prices of drugs for treatment of HIV, diabetes, cancerand Hepatitis B have come down owing to the new ceiling prices.


AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

U’khand gets award of excellence at international meet
Uttarakhand has been conferred the award of excellence at the 2nd Global Skill Development Summit held in Paris on June 23, 2017.
Initiatives taken by Uttarakhand Government:
i. Uttarakhand has been awarded for innovations and extensive use of IT for skilling the state’s youth.
ii. Project Director of Uttarakhand Skill Development Committee Pankaj Kumar Pandeyreceived the honour on behalf of the state.
iii. In Uttarakhand, a new initiative is being taken to impart high quality job oriented training to the state’s youth so that they could avail of employment opportunities in the tourism, beauty and wellness, agriculture, health and security sectors.
iv. Training programmes are being designed in accordance with the requirements of the industries and are being carried out in both rural and urban areas of the state.
v. Uttarakhand Skill Development Committee was also running international language training programmes for the state’s youth to strengthen the prospects of their employability by foreign companies.





APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Kaushik Basu is new International Economic Association president
The International Economic Association (IEA) has chosen eminent economist Kaushik Basu as its president.
Key Points:
i. The organisation consists of key economists which significantly help in determining global economic policy and research.
ii. Nobel Laureates like Robert Solow, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz have been among the past presidents of International Economic Association (IEA).
iii. Kaushik Basu, is an Indian economist and academic. He will serve a three-year term as the President.
iv. He is the author of several books on economics and a play called Crossings at Benaras Junction.
v. He has also served as senior vice-president and chief economist at the World Bank from 2012 to 2016.
vi. He has served as India’s chief economic adviser from 2009 to 2012.
vii. At present, Basu is the C. Marks Professor of International Studies and Economics at Cornell University.
IEA Function: 
♦ IEA produces a large number of research papers and books and they also organise roundtables on topics of present-day interest.
♦ Its principal activities include International Congress organised every 3 years.
♦ The occasion serves as one of the major assemblies of economists from around the world.

Union Government appoints Rajesh V. Shah as NIFT Chairperson
Rajesh V. Shah has been named the chairperson of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) up to March 31, 2019.He will replace Chetan Chauhan 
Key Points:
i. The names for the post of chairman are sent by the ministry of textile.
ii. The chairman is also part of the reviewing authority for a number of senior academic and administrative positions at the institute.
iii. The appointment of the chairman and non-official members of the Board of Governors of the NIFT is a statutory body under the Ministry of Textiles.
iv. It is proposed by the Union textiles minister and approved by the President.

Vidya named ambassador of Indian Film Festival of Melbourne
Actress Vidya Balan has named an ambassador of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). It will be held in August 10-22, 2017, which showcase over 60 films.
Key Points:
i. In 2017, IFFM has diversity as its central theme.
ii. It will showcase over 60 films indie and short included in 20 different languages.
iii. The films from India will include 30 Australian premieres.
iv. These films were created to entertain, inspire, enrage, engage and challenge viewers. We look forward to welcoming a fantastic line up of guests and audiences to our screenings and special events.
v. The IFFM will present films that explore diversity and the endless potential of humanity.
vi. The audience will immerse themselves in thirteen days of film, including Bollywood blockbusters, India films and documentaries from India and the subcontinent.





SPORTS

Roger Federer demolishes Alexander Zverev to win ninth Halle Open title
On June 25, 2017, Roger Federer won ninth Halle Open title by defeating Alexander Zverev in the final match played at Halle, Germany.
i. Roger Federer clearly outplayed Alexander Zverev, who beat him in last year’s semi-final.
ii. On account of this victory against Alexander Zvere, Roger Federer became the first player to beat both Zverev brothers at the same event, having defeated older sibling Mischa in the round of 16.
iii. Halle open, played on the grass court, is part of the ATP World Tour 500 series on the ATP Tour 

FIFA set to shift India’s U-17 World Cup games to Delhi
FIFA is set to shift India’s Under-17 World Cup matches from Mumbai to the Delhi on 28th of June 2017.
Key Points:
i. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) initially wanted Mumbai to host India’s home matches.
ii. It has been later asked FIFA to shift them to Delhi due to pressure from the sports ministry as it felt it was appropriate that the capital hosts the home team’s games.
iiiIndia would normally be placed in Group A and will be the number one team A1 in the four-team group.
iv. Navi Mumbai was originally scheduled to host Group A. The AIFF’s request means Delhi could now host those while Navi Mumbai will have to settle for Group B games.
v. The first FIFA event in India will be held across six Indian cities from October 6 to 28.
About FIFA
♦ HQ: Zurich Switzerland
♦ Formation: 21 May 1904
♦ President: Gianni Infantino

BCCI forms Committee to oversee Lodha Panel Reforms
On June 27, 2017, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the formation of a special seven-member committee to analyse the few contentious Lodha panel reforms which are being opposed by the Board’s state units.
Background Information:
In a landmark judgment on July 18, 2016, the Supreme Court accepted major recommendations of Justice R.M. Lodha-led panel on structural reforms in the BCCI and had given six months deadline to the board for implementing the recommendations.
More Details about BCCI’s Committee to oversee Lodha Panel Reforms:
i. The committee will be headed by Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla, with BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudharyas its convener.
ii. Other members include former India captain and member of BCCI Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), Sourav Ganguly, Naba Bhattacharjee, TC Mathew, Jay Shah and Anirudh Chaudhary.
iii. BCCI has asked the recently-formed committee to treat their task with utmost urgency and circulate a written report by July 10, 2017.
iv. The Committee has also been asked to keep updating CK Khanna, the BCCI acting president, over the progress.





NECROLOGY

Former Bureaucrat O N Dhar passes away
O N Dhar, a former bureaucrat who served as an adviser to Sheikh Abdullah and other former prime ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, passed away on 28th of June at the age of 91.
Key Points:
i. O N Dhar had worked with Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and Mir Sadiq when they were prime ministers of Jammu and Kashmir till 1965.
ii. Dhar had also held key secretarial-level posts in the state subsequently.
iii. Till 1967, the elected head of government in Jammu and Kashmir was called prime minister before the nomenclature was changed to chief minister.

Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist dies at 56
Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist has died at the age of 56. He was suffering from lung cancer.
Key Points:
i. Nyqvist is a Stockholm-born actor and was best known for his role as Mikael Blomkvist.
ii. He worked for Swedish Dragon Tattoo trilogy, which included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
iii. He later appeared in Hollywood action thrillers such as John Wick and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
iv. He also completed roles in thriller Hunter Killer with Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman and submarine disaster Kursk with Colin Firth and Matthias Schoenaerts.