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National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs April 1st Week 2018
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National Current Affairs April 1st Week 2018

1. National Maritime Day is celebrated on 5th April.

April 5 is celebrated as the National Maritime Day in India every year. It was on this day 99 years ago in 1919 when the country`s navigation history set sail with SS Loyalty, the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd started for the United Kingdom from Mumbai (then British Bombay). It marked a red letter day in the maritime history of India, a country known for its seafaring abilities since ancient days.

The day is being observed since 1964.In 2018, the theme of the occasion is `Indian Shipping - An Ocean of opportunity`. On this day, awareness in supporting safe and environmentally sound commerce between continents across the world is stressed upon.

An award called Varuna is conferred to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Indian maritime sector on this day. Besides, those who have made distinguished achievements or made contributions to education and training in the sector are also awarded on the day.


2. Sahyog- Hyeoblyeog 2018: Indian, Korean Coast Guards Hold Joint Exercise.

hennai, Apr 5 (PTI) Korean Coast Guard ship BADARO took part in Indo-Korean joint anti-piracy, search and rescue exercise SAHYOG-HYEOBLYEOG 2018 off the Chennai coast today.

Along with the Korean ship, Indian Coast Guard ships and an aircraft took part in the exercise.

As part of the exercise, ships of the Indian Coast Guard and the Korean vessel undertook tactical manoeuvres and "drills" to counter piracy and carry out maritime law enforcement tasks off Chennai coast, an official release said.

It said, the exercise demonstrated a scenario in which RECAAP -- a focal point in Korea -- reported loss of communication with cargo vessel South Korean flag -- MV Hyun Tau and it was indicated that the vessel has been hijacked by pirates.

Subsequently Korean Coast Guard ship Badaro in Bay of Bengal were alerted.

Indian Coast Guard deployed a Dornier aircraft to carry out sea-air coordinated search along with ICG Shaurya, Rani Abbakka, C-423, C-431, the release said.

Director General of Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh and Commissioner of Korean Coast Guard General Park Kyung reviewed the exercise.

"With the conduct of the exercise, Coast Guard has reaffirmed its dependability for maritime security," the release said. PTI VIJ NSD NSD


3. Ninth India Japan US trilateral meeting held in New Delhi.
In a veiled message to China on Wednesday, India, Japan and the United States held trilateral talks in New Delhi and resolved to work towards a “free, open, prosperous, peaceful and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” as well as strengthen maritime security. The talks were held at the “Joint Secretary/Director General/Assistant Secretary level”.

In a  joint press statement, the two sides resolved to “enhance cooperation in the areas of connectivity and infrastructure development; counter-proliferation; counter-terrorism; maritime security, maritime domain awareness and Humanitarian Assistance-Disaster Relief (HA-DR)”. The three countries also agreed “to strengthen cooperation in support of a free, open, prosperous, peaceful and inclusive Indo-Pacific region through partnership with countries in the region”.

In a statement, the three countries said, “India, Japan and the United States held the 9th Trilateral Meeting at Joint Secretary/Director General/Assistant Secretary level in New Delhi on 4 April 2018 to hold consultations on regional and global issues of mutual interest. In accordance with the directions received from their Foreign Ministers, who met in New York on 18 September 2017 on the margins of UNGA, the officials explored practical steps to enhance cooperation ... .”

The joint press statement added, “The officials reviewed the outcomes of the Trilateral Infrastructure Working Group that met in Washington in February and agreed to continue to collaborate to promote increased connectivity in the Indo-Pacific.”

India, Japan, the US and Australia have already held consultations ahead of the proposed formation of a “quadrilateral” in the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen maritime cooperation. Observers have viewed the move as one that will counter Chinese military dominance in the region. Of the four countries, Japan and Australia are allies of the US while India and the US have considerably strengthened their strategic partnership in the past few years.

While the US and allies always used the term “Asia-Pacific” for the maritime region, this has been replaced now with the term “Indo-Pacific”, highlighting the importance given to India in the region. 


4. India and Azerbaijan signed two agreements.


The 2nd Session of the India – Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade (IGC), Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation was held in Baku, was co-chaired by Mr.Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, Government of India and Mr.Huseyngulu Baghirov, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Republic of Azerbaijan. Shri Scindia stressed necessity of establishing the International North-South transport corridor (INSTC) to improve the connectivity problems between the two nations and called for joint efforts towards identifying issues and impediments in the smooth functioning of the Corridor. The Minister added that the development would lead to saving in transportation costs and time. He also advocated early finalization of a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries to encourage investment flows and elevate investor’s confidence. A Protocol signed at the end of the meeting identified key areas of cooperation such as pharmaceuticals, energy, transport, agriculture and IT sectors and also suggested steps to overcome the existing barriers. It also recommended specific measures like finalisation and implementation of agreements to give a legal basis and provide comfort to the economic and financial relationship. 

 Shri Scindia emphasized the need to establish closer institutional linkages between investment promotion agencies in Azerbaijan and India in order to promote two way investment which is currently is at a modest level. He specifically enumerated the sectors, such as, Petroleum, Information Technology, Food Processing, Pharmaceuticals, as having the maximum potential. 


5. Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli accorded ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli who is on a three-day visit to India, received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today. The Nepal prime minister arrived in Delhi yesterday and was received at the airport by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He later met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official official residence. The two leaders today gave a joint press statement where they spoke about strengthening ties and implementation of all connectivity projects. This is Nepal PM Oli`s first visit to the country after he took charge as the prime minister for the second term in February. On the third day of his visit, which is tomorrow the Nepalese premier will visit the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.


6. Qatar allows women to join national service amidst intensified diplomatic blockade by Arab quartet.

Amidst intensified diplomatic blockade by Arab quartet, Qatar has taken a huge step of introducing women to join national service and also extended the time served in the military by conscripted men.

The Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Thursday signed a legislation that said, "Women aged over 18 will be able to volunteer for national service while men will now serve a year instead of three months." The new law came into effect on the immediate basis.

The state-run News Agency of Qatar said, "National service for females is voluntary," adding that every Qatari male between 18 and 35 is required to perform a compulsory military service. However, it is the first time in Qatar that women had been allowed to undertake national service, although some women already serve in the military in administrative roles.

Notably, the development comes after the economic and financial impact on Qatar put by Arab quartet including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt led blockade is fading slowly. Since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis, Qatar has signed several military contracts with countries including the United States, France, Italy and Britain. A few days earlier, Qatar decided to buy 12 more Rafale fighter jets with an aim to boost and strengthen its defence sector.

In the month of June last year, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and several other nations cut ties with Qatar and imposed stringent economic sanctions on it over supporting extremism. On the other side, Qatar denied all their allegations saying that they never supported Islamist militants and Shi`ite Iran.

 Later, Saudi and its allies issued a 13-point list of demands to end the rift on June 22 and gave Qatar 10 days to comply. However, earlier Qatar rejected to fulfill the demands. The controversial Qatar World Cup will take place Nov. 21-Dec. 18 in 2022.


7. India is Third Most Vulnerable Country To Cyber Threats.

India is the third-most vulnerable country in terms of cyber threat risks including malware, spam, ransomware and one of the most recent and difficult-to-detect ones - cryptominers, according to a report.

About 5.09% global threats were detected in India in 2017 as compared to 5.11% in 2016, according to ‘Internet Security Threat Report’ released on Wednesday by Symantec. The US was was most vulnerable to attacks at 26.61% followed by China at 10.95%.

These rankings are based on eight parameters – malware, spam, phishing, bots, network attacks, web attacks, ransomware and cryptominers.

India continues to be second-most impacted by spam and bots and third-most impacted by network attacks and fourth-most impacted by ransomware. With the threat landscape becoming more diverse, attackers are working harder to discover new avenues of attack and cover their tracks, according to the report.

“From the sudden spread of WannaCry and Petya/NotPetya, to the swift growth in coinminers, 2017 provided us with another reminder that digital security threats can come from new and unexpected sources,” the report said.

Cryptojacking has captured the top slot at the attacker toolkit, which signals a massive threat to cyber and personal security. Cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of a computing device to mine cryptocurrency.

The detection of coinminers on end-point computers has increased by a whopping 8,500% in 2017.  

In terms of cryptomining activities, India has ranked second in Asia-Pacific and Japan region (APJ), and ninth globally.

 “Cryptojacking is a rising threat to cyber and personal security. “The massive profit incentive puts people, devices and organisations at risk of unauthorised coinminers siphoning resources from their systems, further motivating criminals to infiltrate everything from home PCs to giant data centers,” Tarun Kaura, director, enterprise security product management, APJ at Symantec said.


8. Uttarakhand second Mega Food Park inaugurated at Udham Singh Nagar.


Union Food Processing Industries Minister Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal will inaugurate the second Mega Food Park in Uttarakhand at Mahuakhera Ganj in Kashipur in Udham Singh Nagar district on Sunday ie 8th April 2018.  The food park is being set up at a cost of Rs 99.96 crore and will benefit around 25,000 farmers in this as well as neighboring districts.

The mega food park– M/s Himalayan Mega Food Park Private Ltd, which is being set up in an area of 50.14 acres, would have a central processing center as well as well as three Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) at Ram Nagar, Ramgarh and Kaladungi. The park would also have facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms. The park would not only benefit farmers of Udham Singh Nagar but also those of nearby districts of Nainital, Garhwal, Almora and Champawat. The first Mega Food Park in the state located at Haridwar has already become operational.

The facilities being created at Central Processing Centre (CPC) of this Mega Food Park include Multi-Purpose Cold Storage of 1,250 MT, Aseptic Brick Filling Line of 7,500 pack per hour, Dry Warehouse of 6,000 MT, Fruit & Vegetable Processing Line [input capacity 7 MT/Hr for Tomato Paste, 8 MT/Hr for Apple, 10 MT/Hr. for Carrot, 5 MT/Hr. for fruit pulp, Quality Control & Food Testing Lab and other related food processing facilities.

The mega food park would leverage an additional investment of about Rs. 250 crores in 25-30 food processing units in the park and would eventually lead to a turnover of about Rs. 450-500 crore annually and also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.


9. Singapore and China Signed MoU Along Belt And Road Initiative.

On Sunday, April 8, Singapore and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Beijing to deepen their partnership on the Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative further strengthens Singapore’s participation in the infrastructure projects developed by Chinese companies. 

This is in stark contrast to the strained Singapore-Sino relationships when Terrex were detained in Hong Kong and Singapore opposed to the Chinese territorial claims in South China Sea two years ago.

Time heals all wounds

Based on the MOU, a governmental working group will be formed for the purpose of deeper collaboration from firms from Singapore and China for Belt and Road Initiative projects in other countries. The governments also plan on working together with financial institutions in both countries for aid with funding and consultation. 

On China’s side, National Development and Reform Commission vice chairman  Zhang Yong was the signatory for the MOU, while National Development Minister Lawrence Wong signed the memorandum for Singapore. The signing in Beijing was attended by the Premier of China, Li Keqiang, and the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.


10. Transgenders To Be Recognised As Independent Gender Category In PAN Form.


The government has amended Income Tax rules that will now allow transgenders to be recognised as an independent category of applicants for obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN).

As per a notification issued by the finance ministry on Monday, the Income Tax rules, 1962, have been amended to include ‘Transgender’ in the gender column of forms 49A and 49AA.

The new rules, called Income Tax (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2018, shall come into force on the date of their publication in the official gazette.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court had passed the landmark National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India judgment, which guaranteed equal social and legal status to the transgender community, and recognised the right of citizens to self-identify their gender. The apex court also directed the state and central governments to ensure that the transgender population has access to all schemes and entitlements to bring them at par with other citizens.

However, as the Hindustan Times reported on March 1, the Department of Revenue’s Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which looks after PAN card-related matters, including filing of Income Tax, had not introduced a transgender column in PAN application forms. As a result, several transgender persons were forced to choose either ‘male’ or ‘female’ — a gender they do not identify with.

The mismatch of gender identity on Aadhaar and PAN cards also made it difficult for transgender individuals to open bank accounts, transfer large sums of money and register companies.


11. Indian Consortium And Saudi Aramco Sign MoU For Refinery In Maharashtra.

Top executives of Aramco and India`s Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals signed a memorandum of understanding to take equal stakes in the project in Maharashtra.

Saudi Aramco on Wednesday signed an initial deal with a consortium of Indian refiners to build a $44 billion refinery and petrochemical project on India`s west coast, as the kingdom moves to secure buyers for its crude in a market awash with oil.

Top executives of Aramco and India`s Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals — a joint venture of Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp — signed a memorandum of understanding to take equal stakes in the project in Maharashtra.

The project includes a 1.2-million-barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery integrated with petrochemical facilities with a total capacity of 18 million tonnes per year, the officials said on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.

Aramco, the world`s biggest oil producer, is expanding its footprint globally by signing new downstream deals and boosting the capacity of its existing plants ahead of an initial public offering that is expected later this or next year.

Days earlier, state oil giant Aramco sealed refining and petrochemicals deals worth about $20 billion in France and the United States.


12. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Dr Ambedkar National Memorial.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate Dr Ambedkar National Memorial at Alipur Road in Delhi  on the eve of Babasaheb Ambedkar`s birth anniversary; The open constitution book shaped memorial built at a cost of 100 crore rupees is an amalgamation of Modern and Buddhist architecture.

A promise made, a promise kept. 26 Alipur Road the home where Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar breathed his last is also known as Mahaparinirvana Bhoomi. This building is an amalgamation of modern and Buddhist architecture.

In keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s vision, 5 landmarks related to various aspects of Babasaheb`s life are being developed as "Panchteerth". Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate this Memorial on Friday.

Designed to look like the Constitution, the memorial has been built at a cost of Rs 100 crores and is spread over nearly 2 acres.

Musical fountains, a replica of the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath and a 12 foot high bronze statue are some of the highlights of this complex.

The first floor houses high quality displays related to Babasaheb`s life. The lower level of the two-storied building has an exhibition gallery, where days spent by Ambedkar on the premises have been illustrated. His last days and journey have also been captured vividly.

There are also virtual reality displays of Babasaheb giving finishing touches to the Constitution of India.

And this unique interactive table is a delight for Constitution lovers. It is full of information on Baba Saheb and the Indian Constitution.

The Memorial also has a meditation hall with a Marble statue of Mahatma Buddha. The stone used is from Vietnam.

14th April Babasaheb`s birth anniversary is celebrated as Ambedkar Jayanti. And just a day ahead of it, Prime Minister Modi will be pay his tributes to this monumental leader in a truly unique way.



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