National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs Jan 2nd Week 2018
Category : National Current Affairs
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 1. Indian Railways Launches Transparent and Efficient New Online Vendor Registration System.

an 9 (UNI) In line with the government philosophy to make systems and procedures digital and transparent, Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of Ministry of Railways, has launched “New Online Vendor Registration System”.

The new system is simpler and user-friendly. There is no need for vendors to visit RDSO office for any activity related to his case for registration.

The system was evolved after Minister for Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal undertook comprehensive review of the functioning of the RDSO, according to an official statement issued on Tuesday. 

This new system provides major improvements and paradigm changes in the registration system over the earlier system. Public access to the information, expeditious process completion with defined timelines, simplification of procedures, round-the-year services and availability of all related information on RDSO Website.

Constant monitoring at all levels, reduction in cycle timelines, regular upgrade of online data and user-friendly interface are the hallmarks of the new system. 

All activities in vendor registration cycle have been tied to specific timelines and in case these activities exceed the allotted timelines, a system generated alert is flashed to all officials and higher ups concerned for immediate corrective action in the matter.

The process of documents scrutiny and physical verification of the Vendor’s facility has been made a parallel exercise. Earlier 8 to 11 months would elapse before physical verification activity used to start. It used to start only after completion of document scrutiny. Now both the activities ie document scrutiny and physical verification start simultaneously. This is a major improvement over earlier process and would help in reduction of cycle timelines.

Process has been made simpler and user friendly. With the new online system implemented by RDSO, the Vendor can now deposit registration fee, submit documents, download technical drawings and specifications and interact with RDSO online. At each stage the vendor would get a system generated alert / acknowledgment regarding status of his case with details.

Management dashboard has been provided for centralised monitoring of the whole procedure and the process work-flow with the objective of identifying bottlenecks, if any, and initiating corrective action.

The RDSO has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) for all the 600 plus items and has kept the window open with no timelines to enable wider participation and association of industries and interested vendors in developing products and new technologies for the Railways. Now vendors can register for any of the item throughout 365 days of the year. 

It will provide tremendous business opportunity for growth of new SMEs thus aiding job creation.


2. India misses 2017 deadline for Kala Azar elimination.

India has missed the 2017 deadline that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced for elimination of Kala Azar (black fever) in his Budget speech last year. In fact, endemic blocks have increased from 61 to 68 in 17 districts of Bihar and Jharkhand.

The matter was taken up at a meeting of the health ministry last month. Officials told health secretary Preeti Sudan that a request to the Ministry of Rural Development for expediting construction of concrete houses, pending since 2001-02, was the primary reason behind the failure to control the disease.

Elimination is defined as reducing the annual incidence of Kala Azar (KA) to less than 1 case per 10,000 people at the sub-district level.

Further, a little-known skin condition called Post Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) — a red flag for transmission of KA — has been growing steadily over the past few years.

KA is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a single-celled parasite of the Leishmania family.

The Empowered Programme Committee (EPC) of the National Health Mission discussed the issue in its December 22 meeting.

Dr P K Sen of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) told the committee that active case findings rather than an actual increase in the disease is the reason why the number of endemic blocks have increased.

Replying to Sudan’s query about why the target could not be achieved, an NVBDCP official told her that the list of KA endemic blocks had been shared with the rural development ministry with a request to construct concrete houses in these blocks in 2001-02. A reminder request was also sent recently to the rural development ministry.

“Dr Jagdish Prasad, DG, DGHS, further added that the KA vector needs to be eliminated to eliminate Kala Azar. As the endemic blocks have majority of houses made from wood, it is very difficult to eliminate the vector as it dwells in the wooden structure and escapes various measures to kill it. Hence, to stop the infection transmission, pucca houses need to be built. Secondly even after treatment of Kala Azar patients, it is the PKDL cases which become a source for future KA cases,” read the minutes of the meeting.

The meeting resolved to take up the issue of building concrete houses in KA endemic blocks with the rural development ministry on priority, and recommended that one-time incentive for PKDL patients should be doubled from Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000.


3. CABE sub-committee recommends free education for girls up to PG level.

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) has decided to recommend free and compulsory education for girls up to post-graduate level across the country, said Telangana Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Kadiam Srihari on Tuesday.

He was addressing a press conference here after a meeting of the committee in which Jharkhand Education Minister Neera Yadav, Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, Special Human Resources Development Department Special Secretary Rinarayi, Member Secretary Meenakshi Garg and other officials participated.

“The committee will also recommend establishing of exclusive residential degree colleges for SC and ST women besides provision of health and hygiene kits to girls. All these schemes are already being successfully implemented in Telangana,” said Srihari, who heads the CABE Sub-Committee on girl child education.

Earlier, Srihari informed the meeting about the reforms initiated by the education department in Telangana and the steps taken for the education of girls.

“At present, there is a special education center for women in Telangana, which has been established for degree courses for residential colleges, SCs and ST girls. The same shall be implemented in all states across the country. Also, women’s Universities should be set up in all states,” Srihari said.

While Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been functioning till Class VIII, the committee wants the Centre to expand wings of the KGBVs and offer quality and free education to girls till Class XII. It also wants to increase the intake of students in Model School hostels from 100 to 200.

The committee also wants schools to maintain an academic atmosphere, besides providing basic amenities like toilets, running water, maintenance, safety measures and power supply and also appoint a counsellor for adolescent girls.

The sub-committee is likely to submit an interim report to Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar during a meeting on January 15. (ANI)


4. Charlie-435: Indian Coast Guard commission patrol vessel.

he Indian Coast Guard has commissioned a new interceptor vessel, named ICGS C-422, to further strengthen its fleet.

Here are some key points you must know:

The Indian Coast Guard has introduced ICGS C-422 to its eastern fleet

The vessel will patrol the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, along the Bay of Bengal

The ICGS C-422 was commissioned at the Karaikal Port on November 28

Puducherry Assembly Speaker, V. Sabapathy commissioned the vessel in the presence of the Coast Guard Region (East) Commander and Inspector-General S. P. Sharma, Deputy Inspector-General S. C. Tyagi and Karaikal Station Commandant S. N. M. Patnaik

The vessel can undertake multiple operations such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and coordinated operations with the sea and air units

The Coast Guard has around 36 interceptor boats. The ICGS C-422 is the newest and most advanced vessel to join the fleet

M/s. Larsen and Toubro Ltd has developed the ICGS C-422, which is 27.8 metre long

The boat can run at a top speed of 45 nautical miles per hour (85 kilometre per hour)

The vessel has state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. It also has two engines that allows it to travel for 500 nautical miles

The vessel has a capacity to accommodate one on-board officer and 11 Coast Guard personnel

The boat will join two other interceptors ICGS C-428 and C-415, and two fast patrol boats ICGS Rani Durgavati and ICGS Ameya. All these vessels are based at the Karaikal port. 

5. Ministry of Railway Launches SFOORTI Application.

Jan 11 (KNN) In a move that would help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations, Ministry of Railways has launched Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) App for Freight Managers.

The app provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard.

SFOORTI Application will help track movement of freight trains on Geographic Information System (GIS).

Both passenger and freight trains can be tracked over Zones/Divisions/ Sections in single GIS View. Freight business can also be monitored along with Comparative Analysis of Zonal/Divisional Traffic.

The app will help in analysis of new traffic captured and traffic lost and provides a Bird’s eye view of all Freight Assets in a single window.

SFOORTI provides end to end Rake movement on Geospatial view and would also help evaluate daily performance of expected traffic at Interchange points.

Freight Operation Information System Map View–A Geographic Information System (GIS) based monitoring and management tool has been designed and developed in CRIS which provides layered views of freight trains on Indian Railways network which can help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations.

The FOIS Map View has been designed to cater to Divisional, Zonal and Board levels of management for improved freight operations.


6. IOA Appoints Harjinder Singh as `Chef de Mission` for Winter Olympics 2018

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Wednesday appointed Harjinder Singh as the Chef De Mission for the 23rd Winter Olympic Games to be held in Pyeongchang next month.

Singh currently holds the post of General Secretary in the Ice Hockey Association of India.

“On behalf of the IOA I am pleased to inform that Harjinder Singh has been appointed as a Chef de Mission of Indian Contingent participating in the Winter Olympics,” IOA President Narinder Dhruv Batra said in a release.

7. National Youth Day is observed on 12 January.

12 January 2018 Current Affairs: The National Youth Day celebrated every year on 12 January.

This is the day when Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest social reformers, thinkers, and philosophers of India, was born. The Indian government had declared back in 1984 that Swamiji’s birthday would be celebrated as the National Youth Day.

The main aim behind this is to make sure that the students across the country can be encouraged to learn about the life, the ideas and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and apply them in their lives.

He inaugurated the National Youth Festival in Greater Noida through Video conferencing.

The five-day event will provide a platform to bring the youth of the country together with an opportunity to showcase their talents in various activities.

The Theme of the Festival is `Sankalp Se Siddhi`.

Culture Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma will be the guest of honor on the occasion.

8. IndusInd Bank to Introduce Indias First Battery-Powered Interactive Payment Card.

IndusInd Bank and Dynamics at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (“CES”) announced plans to introduce the first battery-powered, interactive payment cards to the Indian market in 2018.

The new IndusInd Bank card from Dynamics has multiple buttons that let the consumers use a single card to pay in multiple ways. With a touch of a button consumers can select credit, points or monthly instalments as payment option. A different colour light will activate based on the selected payment option.

The solution requires no changes to the payment infrastructure or merchant systems. A consumer can pay using points or installment anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

“In our continued efforts in providing ‘responsive innovation’ as the core theme of IndusInd Bank, in the past we have launched a wide range of banking products and services which are unique, convenient and very relevant to the Indian consumer. Our penchant to delight our customers remains foremost and we reinforce our commitment yet again with this launch,” said Sumant Kathpalia, head- consumer Banking, IndusInd Bank.

“Consumers today believe in indulging themselves and purchasing to their heart’s content. And we believe in handing the consumer the power and the choice to make payment as per her convenience. We have always put our consumer first. And our responsive innovation in partnership with Dynamics is a step towards customer delight,” said Anil Ramachandran, EVP and head, Marketing and Corporate Communications and Retail Unsecured Assets at IndusInd Bank. “With the Dynamics technology on board with IndusInd Bank, we can deploy the revolutionary payment functionality throughout the Indian market while retaining the existing card form so consumer behavior does not need to change.”

As part of the relationship, Dynamics will establish a personalization and card fulfillment facility in India.

“The financial preferences of consumers in India can change very rapidly. Now, consumers in India can enjoy a product that can provide consumers with new ways to pay,” said Jeffrey Mullen, CEO of Dynamics. “We are humbled to work with IndusInd Bank on delivering such a revolutionary payment experience to the market.”

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) recognized IndusInd Bank and Dynamics with four CES Innovation awards including the Best of Innovation Award for Security and honoree awards for Computers, Embedded Technologies, and Technologies for a Better World. This marks the first time in history an Indian Bank has been awarded the consumer electronics industry’s most prestigious award.

9. Fifth Bilateral Meeting Between India and Malaysia Held in New Delhi.

New Delhi, Jan 10 (UNI) Setting up of an Ayurveda chair in University of UTAR in Malaysia and providing professional training in Panchakarma therapy for Malaysian experts in India were among the issues discussed at the 5th bilateral meeting on cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine between India and Malaysia held here on Wednesday.

The meeting also considered evaluation of safety and efficacy of combination Ayurvedic/traditional products for clinical trials, safety evaluation of Ayurvedic products based on Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) and registration of homeopathic practitioner and their capacity building module in Malaysia. 

Mr Pramod Kumar Pathak, Joint Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH presided over the meeting from the Indian side while Malaysia was represented by its Deputy Director General Health (Medical), Ministry of Health Malaysia.

Also on the agenda in Wednesday`s 5th Bilateral Technical Meeting was entering into a bilateral MoU between National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH and Malaysia for cooperation in the field of medicinal plants.

The Malaysian side briefed about recent development in the field of traditional medicine in their country. It was informed that Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Council has been constituted to overlook various activities related to T&CM Systems of Medicine. They evinced keen desire for capacity building programmes for their experts in India to understand analytical parameters with regard to Indian medicine and for Panchkarma courses being conducted in India. 

The AYUSH Ministry, which highlighted the issues of registration of AYUSH practitioners and products in Malaysia, was informed that there exists robust system of regulation in the country for AYUSH product, practices and providers in India which could be shared with the Malaysian side for reference purpose. Ministry intends to enhance cooperation for designing and developing the policies and strategies in the field of Traditional Medicine in Malaysia.

AYUSH Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha in his closing remarks welcomed any initiative from the Malaysian side for promotion and propagation of traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy and said the Ministry of AYUSH was ready to offer its full support, an official statement here said.

10. Karnataka smart city to have 250 poles to charge electric vehicles.

Citizens living the Hubballi-Dharwad Smart City project will soon be able to charge their electric vehicles from smart poles, which will also act as WiFi hotspots, a report in national daily stated.

Each smart pole will come at an expected price of Rs 10 lakh, special officer SH Naregal of the Hubballi-Dharwad Smart City Limited (HDSCL), was quoted as telling The Times of India.

“The smart poles will be installed on main roads and important places like Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) office, Nrupatunga Betta and other places. More places will be identified for installing the smart poles. The smart poles will be installed under design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) in public-private partnership (PPP),” he told TOI.

These smart towers will also be equipped with telecommunications infrastructure that will support 4G and 5G. Optical fibres will offer WiFi services on an enhanced bandwidth. The poles will be fitted with LED street lights, which can be remotely controlled, to ensure energy efficiency. Surveillance cameras may also be installed on these poles along with sensors, which will measure air quality, temperature and humidity, Naregal explained.

The poles will help HDMC generate revenue through advertisements on billboards and by renting out optical fibre networks to private entities, the report added.

The smart poles will further catalyse the electric vehicle market in India that saw increased participation by the government in 2017. Last year, Niti Aayog, the government’s think-tank, introduced a policy document on electric vehicles, which outlined a 15-year roadmap to achieve complete electrification, a report in The Economic Times stated.

The government has already placed its first order, worth Rs 2,000 crore, for 10,000 vehicles to electrify buses in 11 cities in the country, the report added.

Last year, ride-hailing app Uber had tied up with automaker Mahindra & Mahindra to pilot electric vehicles on its platform in India.

11. Saudi Arabia allows women to attend men football match for 1st time.

Saudi women have been allowed into a sports stadium for the first time to watch a football match between two local teams.

However, they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called "family section".

The move on Friday was the first of Saudi Arabia`s social reforms planned for this year to ease restrictions on women, spearheaded by the kingdom`s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

More than just an incremental step toward greater rights, the presence of women in the sports stadium underscored a wider effort to integrate women in society and grant them more public visibility in a country where gender segregation is widely enforced and where most women cover their faces and hair with black veils and don loose-flowing black robes, known as abayas.

The first stadium to open its doors to women was in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday.

At the Jiddah stadium on Friday, young Saudi women wearing bright orange vests over their abayas were deployed to help with the female crowds.

"Welcome to Saudi families," read a sign in Arabic erected across the section of the stadium reserved for women.

"It`s very festive and very well organised. A lot of people are just really happy to be here. I think there`s a lot of excitement when you walked in, especially among the children," said Sarah Swick of the match between Saudi football teams Al-Ahli and Al-Batin.

To prepare for the change, the kingdom designated so-called "family sections" in the stands for women, separated by barriers from the male-only crowds.

The stadiums were also fitted with female prayer areas and restrooms, as well as separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.

Local media said women would also have their own designated smoking areas.

"Family sections" are ubiquitous across the kingdom, allowing married couples, direct relatives and sometimes groups of friends to sit together, isolated from male-only tables at restaurants and in waiting areas at banks and hospitals.

The sections also include women out on their own or in groups with other women.

Although only 20 riyals ($6.73) a ticket, the family section for Friday`s match was still less than half full.

"A lot of people wanted to wait and see how it is. Some thought it wouldn`t be very safe or organised," said Ms Swick, who attended the game with her Saudi husband and son, and her American mother.

Ms Swick, who grew up in Maryland and has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past nine years, has attended football games in the US and football matches in France, but said she was impressed with how organised Friday night`s match was.

"I definitely think we will come back," she said.


12. India grants Rs. 288 crore to develop Sri Lankan Kankesanthurai Harbour into a commercial port.

India has extended a fresh financial assistance of $45.27 million for upgrading Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour in northern Sri Lanka into a commercial port and strengthening the country`s efforts to become a regional maritime hub.

Sri Lankas Ministry of Finance and Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) signed an agreement in this regard on January 10, the Indian High Commission said.

"An agreement for Indian financial assistance for $45.27 million (LKR 6.9 billion) for upgrading Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour was signed on January 10 in New Delhi by David Rasquinha, Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India and RHS Samaratunga, Secretary to Treasury of Sri Lanka," the statement said.

The upgradation project would make KKS Harbour a full-fledged commercial port, further strengthening Sri Lankas efforts to become a regional maritime hub, the statement said.

It would also assist in reconstruction efforts in northern Sri Lanka.

In terms of the MoU between India and Sri Lanka for rehabilitation of KKS Harbour, four out of the six phases of the rehabilitation have already been completed under Indias grant assistance.

This includes preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR), works related to Geo-technical studies, wreck removal and disposal, dredging and hydrographic survey.

The fresh assistance of $45.27 million would be used for the remaining two phases involving works relating to the rehabilitation of the breakwater and existing pier, construction of a new pier for commercial cargo handling, installation of port infrastructure facilities, etc.

"The signing of the MoU is a reflection of the continued commitment of Government of India to assist Sri Lanka in its development journey," the statement said.

The KKS port was rendered useless after the LTTE attacked it during the civil war. The port was key in connecting the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka and also India.