National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs April 3rd Week 2018
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1. Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting Begins In London.

From this Monday 16 to 20 April 2018, the UK will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) with leaders from members countries gathering in London and Windsor. The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. This Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) brings together leaders from all the member countries in London and Windsor.

They will come together to reaffirm common values, address the shared global challenges faced and agree how to work to create a better future for all our citizens, particularly young people.

The summit’s theme is: ‘Towards a common future’. It will aim to build links between countries to offer young people access to knowledge and skills; and give them a voice on key issues such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Across the Commonwealth, member states face common challenges and threats to the shared values of democracy, good governance and inclusivity as set out in the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth’s various constituencies – the Commonwealth Secretariat, its members or its myriad of organizations and networks – mean it is uniquely placed to respond to these challenges.

At the summit, leaders will come together to focus on delivering:

a more sustainable future: the Commonwealth is well placed to take action, underlining our on-going commitment to tackling climate change, protecting the environment and increasing the resilience of our members.

a fairer future: by upholding and promoting the principles of the Commonwealth Charter, we can ensure a fairer future for all members of the Commonwealth, and provide the essential basis for sustainable development.

a more secure future: Commonwealth member states are ideally placed to partner, aid and learn from each other in tackling the threats of terrorism, serious organised crime, cyber crime, violent extremism and human trafficking.

a more prosperous future: by working together, we can promote trade and investment as a means to drive economic growth, create jobs, and ensure the prosperity of our citizens.


2. Himachal Pradesh celebrated 71st Foundation Day.

Himachal Pradesh celebrated its 71st foundation day with much fanfare and gaiety Sunday. Several cultural events were organized across the state.

It may be recalled that the hill state came into existence after the merger of 30 odd princely states in 1948.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet congratulated the people of the state.

On this occasion, various cultural programs were held across the state. The main event was held at Ridge Maidan in Shimla, where Chief Minister Jairam Thakur reviewed the ceremonial Parade presented by police, home guards and NCC cadets.

Thousands of people in their traditional colorful attire witnessed the ceremony with great enthusiasm and joy.

Addressing the large gathering at ridge in Shimla, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that after the formation of the state, Himachal Pradesh has achieved many milestones in the field of development.

This could be realized by the active participation and support of the people.

He further stated that after coming into power his government has fixed development goals for first 100 days out of which maximum targets have been achieved.


3. Indian Swimmer Double Crosses Bangla Channel Sets World Record.

Pune-based 17-year-old swimmer Sampanna Ramesh Shelar became the first person in the world to double cross Bangla Channel on Friday. Shelar created the world record by becoming the first person to swim to and fro from Saint Martin`s Island Jetty to Teknaf in Bangladesh also known as the Bangla Channel on Friday. 

After achieving the feat, Shelar is now planning to participate in the upcoming swimming competition. "I now eye the upcoming competition to be held in Bhagirathi River for 81 km," Shelar said.

He started swimming at about 5 am on Friday and completed the journey of 32.2 kilometers in 9 hours and 10 minutes. "It is my first international solo ocean event. I shall give the entire credit to my coach Jitendra Khasnin," he said.

Recalling the difficulties that he faced during the over 9-hour-long journey, he said: "the two main problems that I faced were the fishes and high tides. When I was close to ending my swim high tides started coming and they blocked my way for a long time."

Shelar`s coach Jitendra Khasnin, who has been training him since he was 13 years old,  was ecstatic at the achievement of his student. "He started with 40 km/hour speed at Gujarat where he had set a national record. He was supposed to participate in the Bangla competition but as he was abler than others thus we decided to make this record. It is easy to go into the sea but difficult to come back due to high tides," Jitendra said.

Shelar has been practising at Shark Aquatic Club situated at Pune and this is his maiden international record. 


4. Union Government Revises Target To Complete PMGSY From Year 2022 To 2019.

The Government has said that the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is well on its way to achieving the target by March 2019.

The scheme, since its inception in 2000, has been able to provide connectivity to more than One lakh 50 thousand habitations.

An official release said, sensing the importance and urgency of rural roads for national development, the target date for completion of PMGSY-I has been preponed from 2022 to 2019.

Working towards this accelerated target, sanctions have been given to more than one lakh 66 thousand habitations against the target of over 1.78 lakh eligible habitations. Under the program, over five lakh fifty thousand kilometres of road length has been constructed.

This centrally sponsored programme implemented in partnership with the state governments has seen the greater focus and consistent improvement in pace and quality in the last three years.

The release said the pace of construction under the PM Gram Sadak Yojana roads reached an 8 year high of 134 km per day in 2017-18 as against an average of 73 km during the period 2011 to 2014.


5. Bengaluru is the highest paying city for Talent: Report.

Bengaluru emerged as the highest paying city in India with the average annual cost to company (CTC) for all talents of Rs 10.8 lakh per annum, states a Randstad Insights report.

According to Randstad Insights, the research and analysis division of Randstad India report 2018, Pune stood second after Bengaluru with annual CTC of Rs 10.3 lakh. Next in the line were NCR and Mumbai at Rs 9.9 lakh and Rs 9.2 lakh respectively. Chennai (Rs 8 lakh), Hyderabad (Rs 7.9 lakh) and Kolkata (Rs 7.2 lakh) also featured on the list of Indian cities paying the highest average salaries for professionals.

Pharma and healthcare industry stood out as the most paying industry for Indians with an average annual CTC of 9.6 lakh across all levels, says the report. Professional services were the second highest paying across the country with Rs 9.4 lakh CTC, followed by Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) with avearge CTC of Rs 9.2 lakh. The IT sector (Rs 9.1 lakh) and infrastructure, real estate and construction (Rs 9.1 lakh) took the fourth and fifth position respectively, in the list of India’ most lucrative industries .

The report also mentions that people with 6-10 years of experience bracket are paid higher salaries. Doctors with specializations top this list with approximate annual CTC of Rs 18.4 lakh, followed by solution architects (Rs 15.1 lakh), product engineering specialists with Rs 14.8 lakh CTC and blockchain technology experts at Rs 14.6 lakh CTC.

“A strong salary structure that strikes a perfect balance between internal and external pay equity is an imperative today for the organisations as it’s often the key to bring top talent on board and keep them motivated,” Randstad India MD & CEO Paul Dupuis was quoted as saying. Randstad Insights examined 1,00,000 jobs in 20 industry verticals and 15 functions.


6. India And UK Sign 10 Agreements In Several Sectors.

India and the UK have signed 10 agreements in several sectors including cyber-relationship, rejuvenation of Ganga and skill development.

The two countries have agreed to an overarching cyber-relationship framework that among others enables the development of a common and shared understanding of the international cyber activity.

Under the agreement, the two sides will also discuss and share strategies to promote user confidence in the security of ICT products and services, promote cyber security product development and share information relating R&D.

On rejuvenation of River Ganga, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the UK-based Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Both the nations also signed the MoU on Skill Development, Vocational education and Training and seek to promote greater collaboration in domains such as strengthening skill delivery in high demand sectors where UK has technical and skilling expertise.

In the area of regulation of safe nuclear energy use for peaceful purposes, an arrangement has been arrived at between Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India (AERB) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation of Great Britain (ONR).

A Statement of Intent between NITI Aayog and UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has also been signed which will enable the two sides to explore the potential for regular engagement on technology co-operation in areas such as electric vehicles.

The two countries also inked the deal on cooperation in the field of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Sectors seeking to strengthen collaboration in livestock health and husbandry, breeding, dairying and fisheries.

Recognising the increased threat posed by international crimes because of its increasingly complex nature and the threat posed by organised crime, a MoU on Exchange of Information for the Purposes of Combating International Criminality and Tackling Serious Organised Crime has been signed.

An Addendum covering research in humanities and social sciences has been added to the 2004 Newton-Bhabha MoU, which supports research and innovation capacities of both sides for long-term sustainable growth. All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Ayush in collaboration with the College of Medicine will set up a Centre of Excellence in Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicine.


7. Odisha`s second longest River Bridge Opened.

Distance between Sambalpur and Brajarajnagar reduced by 50 km

The much-awaited bridge built over the Ib river in Sambalpur district was thrown open to the public by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday.

The 2.5-km-long bridge, which is the State’s second longest bridge, has been built in three years at a cost of Rs. 117.50 crore.

The bridge has helped establish direct road connectivity between Sambalpur and Brajarajnagar and the distance has now been reduced by 50 km. The Biju Expressway-IB Thermal-Coal Region link would improve transport and accelerate economic growth in the entire region, Mr. Patnaik said.

‘Emotional reconnect’

“By becoming a direct road connectivity for the cut-off areas, it will be an emotional reconnect for people of Jharsuguda and Sambalpur who were affected by the building of the Hirakud reservoir 50 years ago,” Mr. Patnaik had said in a message.

The Chief Minister also addressed the second convocation of IIM-Sambalpur during his one-day visit to the western Odisha district. “I am happy to note that IIM -Sambalpur is growing fast and positioning itself as a centre of excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship. It is heartening to know, that the institute has been aiming to prepare ethical leaders who along with their commitment to business, commerce and industry also strive for social consciousness while contributing to nation building,” he said.

Mr. Patnaik said the State government was willing to partner with IIM-Sambalpur in its journey of inclusive growth. “IIM-Sambalpur should become an active participant, a knowledge partner and a think tank for planning, strategising and reinforcing government schemes for social development,” he said.


8. FAO Designates 14 New Sites As GIAHS.

Since 2016, fourteen new sites have been designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), including the first ones in Europe. As with other designated sites, these systems highlight agricultural traditions that promote sustainability, safeguard biodiversity and protect the environment while supporting the social and economic development necessary for stable, decent livelihoods.  The 14 new sites range from oases to rice terraces, wasabi cultivation to raisin production. The 14 new sites are: 1.Siwa Oasis, Egypt 2016.  2.Chinampa Agriculture in the World Natural and Cultural Heritage Zone in Xochimilco, Tláhuac and Milpa Alta, Mexico 2017.  3.Zhagana Agriculture -Forest-Animal Husbandry Composite System, China 2017.  4.Huzhou Mulberry-dyke & Fish Pond System, China 2017.  5.Osaki Kodo`s Traditional Water Management System for Sustainable Paddy Agriculture, Japan 2017.  6.Nishi-Awa Steep Slope Land Agriculture System, Japan 2018.  7.Traditional Hadong Tea Agrosystem in Hwagae-myeon, Republic of Korea 2017.  8.The Agricultural System of Valle Salado de Añana, Spain 2017.  9.Malaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquía, Spain 2017.  10.The Cascaded Tank-Village System, Sri Lanka 2017.  11.Rice Terraces in Southern Mountainous and Hilly Areas, China 2018.   12.Xiajin Yellow River Old Course Ancient Mulberry Grove System, China 2018.  13.Traditional Wasabi Cultivation in Shizuoka, Japan 2018. 14.Barroso Agro-sylvo-pastoral System, Portugal 2018.


9. Government Launches ‘Study In India’ To Attract Foreign Students.

India has launched the Study in India programme to draw more foreign students in about 160 premier universities and institutions across the country, including IITs and IIMs, with 15,000 seats in the 2018-19 academic year.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday launched a portal to help prospective students get information about the institutions and also register and apply to the programmes of their choice through it.

“The quest for knowledge has always been fundamental to India’s culture and civilisation. We can rightly say that India is one of the very few places in the world where ancient traditions and modernity coexist in harmony,” Swaraj said stressing on the need to make India a knowledge hub once again.

‘India has been home to knowledge seekers from ancient times when scholars used to visit universities such as Nalanda and Takshila,” she added.

Minister of state for human resource development Satyapal Singh and diplomats from 30 countries were also present during the launch.

Study in India has a sanctioned budget of Rs 150 crore for two years and will promote India as a top destination for higher education and funnel demand in the direction of the supernumerary seats.

The government aims at attracting 2,00,000 international students through the programme from the current 45,000 or 1% of the global student mobility.

“We observed that the number of students coming to India for higher studies had become stagnant and more students were going to countries like Singapore and Australia. That is when we decided to make a single spot information gateway to attract more students, make our visa process hassle free and also offer fee waiver to students,” human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar said in a video message.

R Subrahmanyam, HRD ministry’s secretary (higher education), said the endeavour is a major step forward in freeing the Indian education market for foreign students.


10. India Forms Committee To Reform Higher Defence Planning.

The Union Government on April 18, 2018 formed a new integrated institutional mechanism, Defence Planning Committee (DPC) to reform the process of higher defence planning.

The committee is expected to drive the country’s military and national security strategy, draft capability development plans and guide and accelerate defence equipment acquisitions.

Composition of the committee

The permanent body would be chaired by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

It will comprise the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), three service chiefs and the Defence, Expenditure and Foreign Secretaries.

The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman of the Chief of the Staff Committee (CISC) will be the member secretary of the committee.

Functions of the Committee

1. The committee will be required to undertake external security risk assessment and define national defence and security priorities.

2. It will also have to prepare draft reports on national military strategy, national security strategy and international defence engagement strategy.

3. It will also have to prepare a roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem and a strategy to boost defence exports and priority capability development plans.

4. It will have to submit all its draft reports to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

5. Besides, four sub-committees could be created under the DPC across four broad areas:

- Policy and strategy

- Plans and capability development

- Defence diplomacy

- Defence manufacturing eco-system

6. The membership and the terms of reference of the sub-committees will be finalised separately.


11. Commonwealth Innovation Index 2018: India ranked as 10th.

As per the 2018 Commonwealth Innovation Index, India fetched 10th position in the index topped by the United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada.

The index was launched on the sidelines of the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will conclude on April 20, 2018.

Commonwealth Innovation Index

1. The Commonwealth Innovation Index has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII). 

2. It will act as a tool through which member states, organisations and citizens will benchmark themselves against 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

3. The index is a part of the Commonwealth Innovation Hub that offers a dedicated online space for Commonwealth countries to showcase what they have to offer and share with other members.


12. Vice-President Inaugurates Civil Services Day Event In New Delhi.

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday inaugurated the two-day Civil Services Day event in New Delhi.

Vice President also inaugurated an exhibition put up by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances on identified priority programmes and innovations.

The Vice President also released a book Emulating Excellence- Takeaways for Replication`.

The day is celebrated for the civil servants to rededicate themselves to the cause of citizen and renew their commitments to public service and excellence in work.

Addressing the function, Vice President said that it is our collective responsibility to work together to realise the dream of a New India.

Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh, also addressed the inaugural session of Civil Services Day function.


13. Cabinet Approves Promulgation Of Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.

The Union Cabinet on Saturday approved to promulgate an ordinance to crack down on corporate defaulters who refuse to return to India to avoid investigation by Indian authorities.

The Union Cabinet on Saturday approved to promulgate an ordinance to crack down on corporate defaulters who refuse to return to India to avoid investigation by Indian authorities.

The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet on March 1, 2018.

The Bill was intended to lay down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

The cases where the total value involved in such offences is Rs 100 crore or more, will come under the purview of this Bill, the Cabinet had said earlier.


14. Taipei Opens WTC In Delhi To Boost Ties With India.

With an aim to strengthen trade ties with India, Taipei World Trade Centre (TWTC) launched its office in Delhi on Tuesday, ahead of Taiwan’s first ever expo that will showcase cutting-edge technology and smart city solutions in Delhi on 17 May.

James C.F Huang, chairman, TWTC said their presence in Delhi will further help strengthen business ties with India.

“PM Narendra Modi’s initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, smart cities project are the ones in which Taiwan can be a good partner. We have not paid much attention to India in past but things have changed in last two years. We are where to strengthen our ties, I know we are late but it’s never too late,” he said.

Over the last couple of years, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) has been focusing on strengthening trade ties with India. TAITRA is the official body of the Taiwan government for trade promotion.

Bilateral trade between India and Taiwan has increased to $6.3 billion in December 2017. “We are on the right track in establishing ties,” he added. Currently, smart solutions in terms of developing cities, street lighting, hardware, software, and IT and electric vehicles are some of the key offerings driving bilateral trade and investment.

Huang highlighted that Taiwan’s electric vehicle industry can help India in its initiative to switch to electric vehicles.

“Our major responsibility is to work closely with trade promoters and business community in India. With the opening of new office we are going to focus on areas like promoting electric vehicles. Our priority is to work closely with private organisations in India to introduce more Taiwanese investments and we should serve Indian business community to promote their products in Taiwan,” he said.

However, Huang said petrochemicals solar energy, food processing are areas that can enhance cross-border business. During their expo, Taiwan is expected to showcase its latest technologies in the field of electric vehicles, smart solutions for smart cities.