National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs July 3rd Week 2018
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 1. PM Lays Foundation Stone For Various Development Projects In Varanasi.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today inaugurated, or laid  the foundation stone of important projects, cumulatively worth over Rs. 900 crore, in Varanasi. Among the projects inaugurated are the Varanasi City Gas Distribution Project, and the Varanasi-Ballia MEMU train. The foundation stone was laid for the PanchkoshiParikrama Marg, and several projects under the Smart City Mission and NamaamiGange. The Prime Minister also laid the Foundation Stone for an International Convention Centre in Varanasi.

Addressing a public meeting on the occasion, the Prime Minister began by congratulating the young athleteHima Das for winning the gold medal in the 400 meters event in the Under 20 World Athletics Championship. The Prime Minister said that for the last four years, efforts are being made to develop the city of Kashi in accordance with the requirements of the 21st century, keeping its ancient identity intact. He said a New Banaras - a blend of spirituality and modernity - is being developed, for a New India.

He said a glimpse of this new Banaras is now visible all around. He said significant investment has been made in Varanasi over the last four years. He said that the projects worth nearly 1000 crore that were either inaugurated, or for which the Foundation Stone was laid today, is a part of this ongoing exercise.

The Prime Minister elaborated upon his vision of Transfornation through Transportation, and said the Foundation Stone of the Poorvanchal Expressway at Azamgarh today was part of the same exercise. The Prime Minister said that Varanasi is emerging as a centre for medical science in the region. He said BHU will work with AIIMS to develop a world class health institute.


2. MCA Constitutes 10-Member Committee To Review Offences Under Companies Act, 2013.

he Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on Saturday set up a 10 Member Committee, headed by the Secretary of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, for review of the penal provisions in the Companies Act, 2013 may be to examine de-criminalisation of certain offences.

The MCA seeks to review offences under the Companies Act, 2013. The committee may propose decriminalisation and suggest ways to replace it with in-house mechanism, where a penalty could be levied in instances of default.

Government believes this would also reduce the pressure on trial courts where prosecution cases land up and allow the trial courts to pay more attention on offences of serious nature.

In a major signal to the companies and businesses, it has been decided that the existing compoundable offences in the Companies Act - 2013 which are punishable with fine only or punishable with fine or imprisonment or both, may be examined.

Based on the recommendations of the committee, a decision may be taken as to whether any of such offences may be considered as civil wrongs or defaults where a penalty by an adjudicating officer may be imposed in the first place and only consequent to further non-compliance of the order of such authority will it be categorised as an offence triable by a special court.


3. India Becomes Vice Chair Of Asia Pacific Region Of World Customs Organisation.

India has become the vice-chair (regional head) of the Asia Pacific region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for a period of two years to June, 2020, the finance ministry said today. The organisation has divided its membership into six regions. Each of the regions is represented by an elected vice-chairperson to the WCO council.

"India is a wealth of experience in promoting security and facilitation of cross border trade," it said. To mark the assumption of vice chair, an event is being organised tomorrow here by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in partnership with industry body CII.

It will witness participation of customs delegates from 33 countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, customs officers from different ports in India. WCO represents 182 customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 per cent of world trade.


4. India, Bangladesh Sign Revised Travel Agreement.

To ease visa restrictions for citizens, India and Bangladesh signed a revised travel agreement today.

The agreement was signed between the two countries in Dhaka in presence of visiting Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan. Mr Singh is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh.

Under the Revised Travel Arrangement (RTA)-2018, freedom fighters and elderly Bangladeshi nationals will get five year multiple visa from India, Daily Star reported.Rajnath Singh and Asaduzzaman Khan also held the 6th Home Minister Level Talks between India and Bangladesh. Mr Singh offered prayers at Dhakeshwari Temple in Bangladesh.

He also visited Bangabandhu Museum where paid tributes to the father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."Deeply moved to see the site where he and his family members were martyred. His contribution to Bangladesh and South Asia will always be remembered," Mr Singh tweeted.


5. PM Modi Dedicates Bansagar Canal Project To Nation In Mirzapur.

On the 2nd day of his two-day Uttar Pradesh visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Bansagar canal project to the ation in Mirzapur; also laid foundation stone of Mirzapur Medical College and inaugurated 100 PM Jan Aushadi Kendras and a bridge over river Ganga.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Bansagar Canal Project to the Nation in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. This project will provide a big boost to irrigation in the region, and will be greatly beneficial for the farmers of Mirzapur and Allahabad districts of Uttar Pradesh. Bansagar Dam project is a joint venture of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The total canal network under it is 171 kms long. Canals will bring waters from Shahdol distrct in Madhya Pradesh for Adwa Barrage, Meza Dam and Jirgo reservoir. This project will benefit 1 lakh 70 thousand farmers of Mirzapur and Allahabad districts.

The Prime Minister also laid the Foundation Stone of the Mirzapur Medical College, besides inaugurating 100 Jan Aushadhi Kendras in the State.

He also dedicated a bridge over the River Ganga at Balughat, Chunar, which will facilitate connectivity between Mirzapur and Varanasi.  These gifts will transform the backward areas of Poorvanchal.


6. Ravi Shankar Prasad Unveils Goa IT Policy 2018.

Union minister for electronics and IT and law and justice Ravi Shankar Prasad unveiled the Goa IT Policy 2018 at the Inox complex in Panaji on Sunday afternoon on the final day of Goa IT Day celebrations. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar was also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Prasad called the Goa IT policy extraordinary and well thought-of. Stressing on digital skilling and assuring central support, Mr Prasad announced that Goa will soon have a National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology centre.

 Talking about Digital India, he said the programme is designed to empower all Indians and break the digital divide through developmental, low-cost and transformative technology. Mr Prasad said, the programme has created a new ecosystem of e-scholarships, digital lockers, e-Visas and most importantly, digital delivery of services. He also mentioned the contribution of various apps and schemes launched by the central government in bringing people and services to a digital platform. 

Mr Prasad added that India will become a huge centre for data analysis, which will significantly benefit the agriculture and education sectors, besides governance. Mr Prasad also inaugurated the Goa centre of Software Technology Parks of India at the event. AIR correspondent reports that speaking after the launch of the Goa IT Policy, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision of Digital India and has said that Goa can lead the IT sector in India. Mr Parrikar said Goa will achieve 100% online transactions by the end of this year. Goa IT minister Rohan Khaunte also spoke on the occasion. The Goa IT Policy focuses on infrastructure development, fiscal incentives, governance and human resource development. The policy offers special incentives for solar power-based units, internet subsidy and assistance for campus recruitment. There is a special provision for capital investment subsidy for Goan diaspora. MoUs between the Goa government and IT companies were also signed on the second day of Goa IT Day celebrations today.


7. University Of Houston Signs MoU With Indian Institute Of Petroleum And Energy.

The University of Houston has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) to build scientific and technical knowledge through joint research.  

The agreement was signed at Houston by IIPE founding director VSRK Prasad and UH vice provost for global strategies and studies, Jaime Ortiz. 

It covers key areas of possible collaboration in faculty exchanges, offshore and onshore petroleum engineering, process control systems and process safety in all chemical engineering fields and non-conventional energy areas. The MoU also covers possible student exchanges for short-term visits and learning.  

Mr. Prasad thanked his UH counterparts and urged them to "groom" the young institute. 

IIPE was established in 2016 in Andhra Pradesh initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It offers undergraduate degrees in petroleum and chemical engineering and is planning to offer various graduate programmes in energy-related fields.


8. Haryana Governor Gets Additional Charge Of Himachal Pradesh.

Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki on Friday was given the additional charge of Himachal Pradesh by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Solanki would discharge "the functions of the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, in addition to his own duties" during the absence of Himachal Governor Acharya Devvrat, who is on leave, an official communique said.


9. 8th India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting Begins In Muscat.

The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, today co-chaired 8th session of India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) along with Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy of Oman, Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy. Addressing the Joint Commission Suresh Prabhu invited Omani companies to build on their success in India and make investments to benefit from ‘Make in India’ and ‘Invest India’ programmes which are aimed to encourage manufacturing.

The Commerce Minister said that the Government of India has launched several investment friendly programmes like‘Make in India’ with a trillion dollar business opportunity in the country. He said that both countries are keen to expand collaborations to their mutual benefit in the fields of energy, health, business, finance and investments, infrastructure, travel and tourism. Suresh Prabhu added that apart from official interactions, people-to-people contacts and initiatives by private sector will energise cooperation in various sectors.

Areas of discussion in the JCM include cooperation in space, renewable energy, start-up, SMEs, food security, including durable foods and packaging, services sector,tourism sector, exchange of ideas and visit of young entrepreneurs.


10. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar Launches `Paudhagiri` Campaign.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today launched the `Paudhagiri` campaign, aimed at increasing the green cover in the state. Under this campaign, 22 lakh students from class 6 to 12 of all government and private schools in Haryana will plant a sapling each during three months of monsoon -- July, August and September, said the chief minister.

Mr Khattar launched the `Paudhagiri` campaign by planting a `maulsari` sapling in the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex premises of Gurgaon, according to an official release. He talked about the positive effects of plantation on the environment and said that every student will get a sapling from the Forest department and they can plant it either in the courtyard of their house, field or park or school or at any open space available in their proximity.

They can name the plant according to their likes, maybe after the name of great personalities of the country, freedom fighters or after the name of any of their family members or their ancestors. Every student planting a sapling will have to take care of it for the next three years.

The chief minister said in every six months, the student is required to upload his selfie with his or her plant on the App and he or she will be given an incentive of Rs. 50 in every six months from the government. Thus, the student will get Rs. 300 in the next three years for looking after a sapling planted by him or her.

He said in three years the sapling comes in a position to survive on its own and in 10 years it will start giving flowers, fruits, shade and also help in checking global warming. The chief minister also distributed plants to the students and flagged off the tractor trolleys carrying plants to various schools of the district.

Today 3,100 students from various schools of the district participated in the launch of the plantation drive.


11. Prakash Javedkar Inaugurates Conference Of Heads Of AYUSH National Institutes.

With an aim of upgrading quality of education, research, hospital care facilities in the national AYUSH institutions throughout the country and develop them as light house institutions, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) under Ministry of AYUSH is organizing two days Conference of Heads of AYUSH National Institutes on 17th and 18th July 2018 at India International Centre, New Delhi.

Inaugural session of the conference will be graced by Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH Shri Shripad Yesso Naik.  Secretary AYUSH Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha will also be present on this occasion.

During the deliberations, Vice Chancellors of various Health Universities, Directors of reputed research organizations and around 100 accomplished senior professionals from various national institutes including IIT, DST, DBT, UGC etc are expected to take part in  the event. It is also planned to join hands together and sign MoUs with Sports Authority of India, Indian Institute of Technology for collaborative ventures.  


12. T-Hub To Host Country’s 1st Defence Incubator.

T-Hub, a startup incubator by the Telangana government, along with United Technologies Corporation - Hyderabad Research and Design Centre (HRDC), today announced the launch of advanced emerging technologies laboratory here. According to an official release, driven by the growing Smart Cities Mission, India has emerged as a prominent market for Smart Intelligent Building Technology Systems which are aimed to become a launch pad for UTC-HRDC engineers to design and develop innovative solutions leveraging the start-up ecosystem.

It will also serve as a showcase to enhance awareness about UTCs Smart Building products and platforms for start-ups and develop collaborative solutions, it added. Speaking at the inaugural session Jay Krishnan, CEO, T-Hub said, "We are delighted to host the emerging technology lab within the T-Hub premises for UTC-HRDC and have no doubt that the facility will greatly boost the technological capabilities of start-ups working in this arena.

"This is a great initiative and I would like to thank UTC-HRDC for making us their long term strategic partners." Commenting on the launch of the emerging technology lab, John Galbraith, vice president of Global Engineering; Climate, Controls and Security, UTC said, "The launch of this laboratory reiterates our commitment to India and our continued focus on innovation. This initiative marks our contribution to the fast growing open innovation and start-up research explosion happening in India, specifically Hyderabad."

UTC has its largest Research and Design centre for Commercial Businesses at Hyderabad (HRDC) and this launch will enable us to rapidly leverage innovative solutions for the benefit of its customers, Galbraith added.


13. UK Tops Global Ranking Of Nations` Soft Power.

New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) The UK has topped an annual global ranking of nations` soft power, with France placed second on the list of 30 countries which does not feature India. The 2018 `Soft Power 30` index, published last week by UK-based strategic communications consultancy firm Portland and the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, ranked Germany as third followed by the US.

India does not figure on the list, but this year`s report also features a chapter dedicated solely to Asia, listing 10 countries in the region, ranking India`s soft power as eighth.

In the fourth edition of the annual Soft Power 30 Index, the UK narrowly beats France to regain the top spot in the 2018 -- a position it last held in 2015. The political and economic turmoil brought on by Brexit is yet to negatively impact the UK`s soft power assets, which are underpinned by world-class universities, the global reach of British culture, and a thriving technology sector, a statement from Portland said.

Meanwhile, Asian countries are translating economic development into soft power gains over the medium term, with improved aggregate rankings for China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore from 2015 to 2018.

The 2018 Soft Power 30 report dedicates a section to the rising soft power in Asia. The chapter opens with an analysis of India`s soft power assets by Dhruva Jaishankar of the Brookings Institute India.

America`s relative soft power decline continues into 2018, with the US falling from third to fourth place. Last year, a very sharp decline in global perceptions of the US was reported in the polling data, whereas this year`s objective metrics have also registered the erosion of American soft power, the statement said.

Japan remains one of the most globally engaged states diplomatically, and a major contributor to international development, it said. PTI ASK ASK KJ KJ


14. President Gives Nod To Assam`s Anti-Witch Hunting Bill.

President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015, converting it to an Act, almost three years after it was passed by the state Assembly. The Act, aimed at eliminating the superstition from the society, imposes a punishment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh.

President Kovind gave his assent to the Bill on June 13, making any offence under the Act as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable, according to information available on the official website of the president`s secretariat.

Branding people, mostly women, as witches and killing them is an old practice in Assam

Between 2001 and 2017, 193 people -- 114 women and 79 men -- have been branded as witche and killed. 202 cases have been registered by the police during this period, Additional Director General of Police (CID) Anil Kumar Jha said.

To tackle this menace, the Assam Assembly on August 13, 2015, had unanimously passed a Bill, which imposes imprisonment of up to seven years, along with a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh, for branding someone as a witch. This Bill has now become an Act.

"This is a positive step for the society to tackle the witch-hunting menace. If all stakeholders work together, we will be able control the problem, based on superstition, to a large extent," he said.

The Act would be imposed, along with Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), if someone is killed after being branded as witch. The punishment for leading a person to commit suicide after intimidating, stigmatising, defaming a person may be extended to life imprisonment, along with Rs. 5 lakh fine.

The Act also talks about various measures that the administration and police should initiate, along with NGOs and civil society, to educate people about witch-hunting. It also entails that the fine realised as punishment for an offence shall be paid to the victim or his/her next of kin as compensation.


15. Odisha To Get Country’s 1st Skill Training Centre.

Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday said that the Centre is planning to set up one National Skill Training Institute (NSTI) in every State to meet the rising demand for skilled manpower in the country.Laying the foundation stone of country’s first such skill training institute at Barang near Bhubaneswar, Pradhan said the Centre’s endeavour is yet another step to empower the youth of the State and make them job ready for industries. This will also help in addressing the issue of migration.

The Centre has introduced an array of national and State level projects like Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, Clean India, Urja Ganga gas pipeline project and Sagarmala port project which needs skilled workforce.“NSTI, Barang will play a pivotal role in churning out meritorious and skilled workforce. This will also help youth to be self reliant and live a life with dignity,” Pradhan said.

This modern state-of-the-art institute will also impart training to trainers who are teaching in various ITIs and other skill-based education institutes. “NSTIs are being envisioned as a one stop shop to supplement training activities in the country. We aim to have one NSTI in each State very soon,” he added.To ensure that the courses begin at the earliest, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) for starting a temporary campus of NSTI on its premises at Mancheswar.


16. Steel CPSE Employees Pension Scheme Announced.

Ministry of Steel has agreed to the proposal received from various CPSEs under its control to introduce the pension scheme with effect from 1stJanuary 2007 in case of executives and 1stJanuary 2012 in case of non-executives or from a subsequent date as decided by the company. The agreement was reached after detailed consultation with representatives of employees unions and officers associations belonging to SAIL, RINL, MSTC, FSNL, MECON and KIOCL.This was announced by the Union Minister of Steel, Chaudhary Birender Singh in New Delhi today.

During the meeting with the Minister, the representatives of employees unions and officers associations discussed various issues concerning them, including the introduction of pension scheme as part of the superannuation benefits, provident fund, gratuity andmedical benefit. The Minister informed that medical benefits have already been extended to employees of CPSEs under the Ministry of Steel. NMDC and MOIL have also introduced the pension scheme to its employees as per the Second Pay Revision Committee recommendations. He said that there has been a long standing demand from the employees of other CPSEs for introduction of pension scheme.


17. Committee Set Up To Synergise NCC And NSS.

Government has decided to set up a committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Anil Swarup, former Secretary, School Education, with suitable representations from NCC, M/o Youth Affairs and Ministry of HRD to suggest measures to strengthen National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS).

The Committee will deal with on issues like expansion, strengthening training infrastructure, rationalizing resources, reducing manpower deficiency affecting NCC and NSS.  The Committee will also submit recommend for building synergies between these two institutions viz. NCC and NSS and further strengthen them for empowering the youth.

At present, there are 13.5 lakh cadets in NCC in the age group of 12 to 26 years with pan India presence in about 703 out of 716 districts.  There are a large number of educational institutions in the country including as much as 8600 on waitlist in which NCC is yet to be extended.  There is also an existing shortage in the NCC manpower across the categories ranging from 5% to 36%.

The NCC has an annual budget allocation of about Rs.2200 crore with Central Government share of about Rs.1600 crore.  NCC, with this meagre resources, is not able to expand itself and to cover all the districts of the country and cater to the needs of waitlisted educational institutions.


18. AIIA & IIT Delhi Sign MoU To Give Scientific Validation To Ayurveda.

An agreement was signed on Tuesday, i.e., July 17 between IIT Delhi and the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) under which projects would be launched that would aim to give `scientific validation` to the ancient medical science and integrate it with technology.

Ayush Ministry would be funding the projects.


Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the faculties of IIT Delhi and AIIA will work together in the projects to look at ways to integrate technology with Ayurveda, reported PTI. The agreement was signed at a conference of the heads of National Ayush Institutes which would brainstorm on ways to induce modernity in Ayurveda.

The MoU is an attempt to give scientific validation to Ayurveda, said IIT Delhi Director V R Rao, who signed the agreement along with AIIA Director Tanuja Nesari.


19. India And Japan Hold 4th Round Of Maritime Affairs Dialogue.

The 4th Round of the India-Japan Maritime Affairs Dialogue was held in New Delhi on 18 July 2018. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Joint Secretary (Disarmament and International Security Affairs), in the Ministry of External Affairs while the Japanese delegation was led by Ambassador Kansuke Nagaoka, Policy Planning and International Security Policy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two sides exchanged views on various topics of mutual interest including the Indo-Pacific Region, maritime security, cooperation in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Search and Rescue (SAR) and discussed ways and means of further strengthening the bilateral cooperation in these areas.

This Dialogue was followed by the 7th Round of the India-Japan Bilateral Consultations on Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Export Control, held in New Delhi on 19 July 2018. The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Joint Secretary (Disarmament and International Security Affairs), in the Ministry of External Affairs while the Japanese delegation was led by Ambassador Tomoyuki Yoshida, Director-General, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Science Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the Consultations, the two sides exchanged views on a range of contemporary disarmament & non-proliferation related issues. 

Both sides reiterated the importance of these Dialogues as important mechanisms between the two countries for consultations on strategic issues.

Both sides agreed to hold the next round of the Dialogues on a mutually convenient date in Japan.


20. Myanmar Joins International Solar Alliance.

Myanmar on July 19, 2018 joined the India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA), thus, becoming the 68th signatory to the Framework Agreement of the ISA that aims for optimum utilisation of solar energy.

Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation, Kyaw Tin handed over the ISA Framework Agreement to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a bilateral meeting on this year`s Delhi Dialogue.

Other projects discussed between India and Myanmar during the meeting

• India is implementing a number of infrastructure projects in Myanmar such as the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project connecting Mizoram with Sittwe port in Myanmar, the Trilateral Highway Project connecting India with Myanmar and Thailand and the Rhi-Tiddim road.

• India is also offering economic and humanitarian aid to its eastern neighbour`s Rakhine State in the wake of the Rohingya refugee crisis.