National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs Aug 1 st Week 2018
Category : National Current Affairs
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1. E-Aksharayan, Desktop Software Launched By IT Ministry.

India is known for its rich cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity but this often plays a role in hampering communications throughout the country — a problem that can be easily resolved using the cutting-edge technology that we see around us today. Taking this idea forward, the Indian government has launched e-Aksharayan — a desktop software for converting any scanned or printed Indian language documents into fully editable text.

The application, which is available in seven Indian languages, was launched yesterday by Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

At the event, Sawhney commented upon how demand for regional content is growing and that we should take the idea of India stack ahead and create ‘India language stack’.

Sawhney also laid emphasis on the fact that barrier-free communication is critical for the country and that the goal is to have real-time translation capability in each of the Indic languages.


2. BEML And HEC Sign Pact To Manufacture Mining Equipment.

 Two public sector units -- BEML and Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd (HEC) -- signed a MoU to produce heavy mining equipment leveraging the capabilities of each other.

"The MoU will result into additional Rs 150-200 crore revenue for both PSUs. The collaboration will entail re-entering rope shovels and walking draglines manufacturing with higher indigenisation " BEML chairman and managing director D K Hota said after signing the pact.

BEML had not participated in tenders for the last 3-4 years in these two products, officials said.

HEC chairman and managing director Avijit Ghosh said the purpose is to leverage manufacturing capabilities of each other in order to bring down delivery time, reduce working capital and create the capability for high capacity equipment to meet the growing demand. He said the mining products could be co-branded.

At a time when around 78 percent of mining equipment is imported, such tie-up will push `Make in India` initiative, officials said.

Coal India is a major client for this mining equipment and its chairman and managing director A K Jha was present on the occasion.

Ramping up coal production to 1 billion tonne in 3-4 years is not possible without indegenous equipment. In FY`18, coal production was 567 million tonne.


3. India, Germany Sign Pact On Financial And Technical Cooperation.

German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney and Joint Secretary Sameer Kumar Khare (Department for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance) on Wednesday signed agreements on financial and technical cooperation within the framework of the Indo-German development cooperation.

As part of the agreement, Germany has pledged to spend 1,055 million euros (around Rs 8,500 crore) for development cooperation in India. According to the release issued by the German Embassy, the committed funds would focus on "sustainable urban development" like infrastructure, urban mobility and climate resilience that go along the "Smart Cities" initiative. "The cleaning of Ganga will be supported in the future also," the release said.

Along with the key aspects agreed between the two governments, the agreement also pledges significant additional resources for the energy sector. This will help the Indian government, in particular, to further expand solar energy and disseminate energy efficiency measures. Environmental and resource protection is also one of the funded areas of the Indo-German development cooperation. Vocational training and social protection as well as the promotion of Indian women entrepreneurs are other areas covered.

Germany and India, both being G20 members, are committed to the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreements (November 2015) and related global responsibilities.


4. Important Cabinet Approvals: 1st August 2018.

Cabinet approves extension of Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) 
The Union Cabinet approved the first extension of Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) to support Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad.Under the CFS, the government has been supporting Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad since 2015-16. As the objectives of the Scheme continue to be relevant, thereby, the government proposed to extend the Scheme for another five years from 2018 to 2023.Prior to the introduction of CFS, Indian entities were not able to bid for large projects abroad since the cost of financing was very high for them.

Cabinet approves re-structuring of Agricultural Scientists` Recruitment Board

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for restructuring of Agricultural Scientists `Recruitment Board (ASRB). The ASRB will now be a 4 member body instead of 3 members. It will have a Chairperson and 3 Members. SRB’s Chairperson would serve for a period of three years or till attainment of 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. For the purpose of autonomy, secrecy, accountability and efficient functioning, ASRB shall be delinked from ICAR and will be attached with Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE).


5. 2-Day Indo-US Military Cooperation Meeting Begins In New Delhi.

A two-day Indo-US Military Cooperation Meeting began today in New Delhi as a prelude to 2 plus 2 Dialogue between the two countries scheduled next month.

The meeting was co-chaired by Lt Gen Satish Dua, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) and Lt Gen Bryan Fenton, Deputy Commander, Indo-Pacific Command.

External Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would meet their US counterparts in 2 plus 2 meeting next month in New Delhi, a first such initiative between the two countries that will focus on strengthening defence and strategic ties. 

India and the US were also working to have a joint drill of all the three armed forces of the two countries.

6. IWAI Launches Dedicated Portal FOCAL For Cargo Owners And Shippers.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) yesterday launched a dedicated portal to connect cargo owners and shippers with real time data on availability of vessels. The landmark e-connect measure will enable direct interaction among the vessel operators, shippers and cargo owners as currently, there is no platform to know the availability of vessels in the market. It has been designed and developed by the in-house IT Department and the Traffic Wing of IWAI as part of its preparedness for optimal use of its ongoing capacity development on various National Waterways.
Named as the Forum of Cargo-Owners and Logistics-Operators (FOCAL), the link of the portal is available on the Homepage of IWAI website Launching the portal. IWAI chairperson Ms Nutan Guha Biswas said, the step is in line with IWAI’s commitment to promote Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India by way of critical interventions, both physical and in the form of creating intellectual property.
FOCAL will facilitate responses from the logistic operators against the requirement raised by cargo owners and vice-versa. The users can register on the portal to key in the availability and details of vessels or the available cargo, as the case may be. Cargo owners will be able to put details like the origin, destination, type of cargo etc.
7. NITI Aayog To Host Investors’ Conference For Development Of Islands.
In a bid to attract investments for the sustainable development of eco-tourism on a public private partnership (PPP) basis in the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands, NITI Aayog is all set to host an investors’ conference next week.
As many as 11 anchor tourism projects are proposed to be implemented with private sector participation under suitable risk-sharing model and through open-competitive bidding. The conference is scheduled to be held on August 10 in New Delhi.
Island Development Agency (IDA), an apex body, under the chairmanship of Home Minister was formed in June 2017, while NITI Aayog has been mandated to steer the holistic development of islands programme, along with the respective UT administration/ State Governments.
IDA has reviewed the 11 anchor tourism projects (six in Andaman & Nicobar and five in Lakshadweep) and several other infrastructure projects such as digital connectivity, and green energy, for implementation in the first phase.
“Out of these 11 projects, seven (four in Andaman & Nicobar and three in Lakshadweep) are in ‘Ready to Launch’ stage. Detailed land survey and demarcation of project sites, carrying capacity assessment of the project islands, CRZ application and pre-feasibility study have been undertaken,” an official statement said.
8. Rajasthan 1st State To Implement Biofuel Policy.
Rajasthan has become the first Indian state to implement the national policy on biofuels unveiled by the centre in May this year. High-power Biofuel Authority approved this implementation.
Soon, the State Government will release Biofuel Rules for 2018.
The State Government will be putting emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds. Further, the State Government is promoting research in the fields of alternative fuels and energy resources. Biodiesel plant with a capacity of eight tonnes per day has already been installed in the state. There would be further emphasis on biofuel advertisements by the state government to create awareness about the same.
Women`s self-help groups (SHGs) will be created by the State Rural Livelihood Development Council to encourage the use of biofuels.
If would also help farmers to dispose off their surplus stock in an economic manner and would also reduce the country`s dependence on oil imports.
9. NITI Aayog Launches Global Mobility Hackathon `Move Hack`.
NITI Aayog has launched Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon to crowdsource solutions aimed at the future of mobility in India. Envisaged to be one of the largest hackathons globally, Move Hack is focused on 10 themes and structured over three legs: online, followed by Singapore leg, and the finals in New Delhi.
Transportation and mobility are emerging as potential drivers of innovation and economic growth of the 21st century. Rapidly evolving technologies and business models for delivering mobility services have dramatic potential to transform the global transportation sector. Mobility that ranges from pedestrian and personal transport to public transit and freight movement is extremely critical and impacts rural and urban daily lives.
MoveHack aims to bring about innovative, dynamic and scalable solutions to problems pertaining to mobility. The hackathon has two-pronged campaign approach: (a) “Just Code It”: aimed at solutions through innovations in technology / product / software and data analysis, and (b) “Just Solve It”: innovative business ideas or sustainable solutions to transform mobility infrastructure through technology.
10. Logo And Tagline For Geographical Indications Launched.
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu today launched a logo and tagline for Geographical Indications (GI) to increase awareness about intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the country.
A Geographical Indication (GI) product is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicraft and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
Darjeeling Tea, Tirupathi Laddu, Kangra Paintings, Nagpur Orange and Kashmir Pashmina are among the registered GIs in India. Prabhu said the initiative would help promote awareness and importance of GI products.
The ministry has launched a contest for designing a logo and tagline for GIs.
He said the ministry is working on ways to promote these products.
It is engaging with e-commerce players for their online sale.
11. World`s 1st Hindi-Speaking Robot `Rashmi`.
Ranchi man Ranjit Srivastava,38, has developed Indian version of ‘Sophia,’ a social humanoid robot developed by a Hong Kong based company, named Rashmi which can speak Hindi, Bhojpuri and Marathi along with English.
The developer claimed it as world’s first Hindi speaking realistic humanoid robot and India’s first lip-synching robot. Rashmi uses linguistic interpretation (LI), artificial intelligence (AI), visual data and facial recognition systems.
“Rashmi functions under a specially designed software and linguistic interpretation system developed by me. The LI programme analyses the feeling of the conversation while AI program analyses the conversation to extract the response from the device,” Srivastava said.
Experts termed it an incredible achievement. “I have not heard of any Hindi speaking robot in India. Though I have not seen the robot, it is incredible if it was developed,” said Dr Somnath Chattopadhyaya, associate professor of IIT-Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, who is also the dean of innovation and incubation.
12. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Achieves 5 Core Mark.
Loksabha Speaker Smt Sumitra Mahajan here today handed over 5 croreth LPG connection under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to Smt Takrdiran of Delhi in the Parliament House.  Speaker Smt. Sumitra Mahajan while acknowledging the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and leadership of Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan appreciated the collective efforts of the officials of Ministry and the Oil Marketing Companies in achieving the target of 5 crores. Further, shared advantages of using LPG in terms of health benefits, time saved and ensuring safety of women.
Modi Government launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) on 1st May, 2016 and it is implemented by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas through its Oil Marketing Companies i.e., IOC, BPCL and HPCL through their network of distributors across the country. Through PMUY, initially, 5 crore BPL households were targeted for providing deposit free LPG connections to BPL households by 31st March,2019. In a record time of 28 months for its launch, PMUY achieved the initial target of providing 5 crores LPG connection to BPL households. In the current year, considering the huge success of the Scheme, target was revised to 8 crores with budgetary allocation of Rs 12,800 crore.
13. India Elected President Of Asia-Pacific Institute For Broadcasting Development.
New Delhi, Aug 3 (PTI) India was today elected as the president of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, a regional inter-governmental organisation established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO, officials said.
India got the presidency of the organisation, servicing countries of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development, for the first time by defeating Iran in the election that took place in Sri Lanka, Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials said.
Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO. It is hosted by Malaysia and its secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.
The AIBD is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.
The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a founding organisation of the institute and is a non-voting member of the general conference, the officials said.
AIBD currently has 26 member countries, represented by 34 organisations, and 67 affiliate member organisations with a total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions and over 50 partners, the officials said.
India`s presidency is for two years and will help it in leveraging itself as the broadcasting and media hub in Asia Pacific region, they said. PTI ASK SMN SMN
14. NHAI Signs MoU With SBI For Long Term Unsecured Loan Of Rs 25000 Crore.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with States Bank of India to receive Rs 25,000 crore as a long-term, unsecured loan for 10 years.
"It`s a historic day as the country`s largest state-run bank has invested it`s largest amount in a government body," said Nitin Gadkari, union minister for road transport and highways.
He said that bankers should be considered as an individual stakeholder whose opinion must be considered.
The unsecured loan has been extended for a decade with a three year moratorium period. The loan will be lent at the rate of one month MCLR.
Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, SBI, said that it requires "courage" to lend such a huge amount.
The amount sanctioned is an unprecedented disbursal amount by India`s largest public sector bank to any entity.
"This is the largest amount of loan to have been sanctioned to NHAI in one stroke by any institution... The authority had invited an Expression of Interest from Scheduled Commercial Banks to fund Rs 25,000 crore... In response to this EOI, SBI offered to fund the entire requirement of Rs 25000 Crore based on one month MCLR," a statement released by the ministry said.
Kumar said that NHAI has been doing tremendous work and thus there is "no risk" in lending the funds.
"Growth of a country depends on the way it had connectivity," he said.
15. Supreme Court To Get 3 Serving Women Judges For 1st Time.
With the elevation of Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee as the Supreme Court judge, the apex court has created a new record in the Indian judicial history. For the first time, the top court will have three sitting woman judges, that includes Justices R Bhanumathi and Indu Malhotra — the most woman judges the apex court has had.
On Friday, the President of India appointed Justice Indira Banerjee, Orissa HC CJ Vineet Saran and Uttarakhand HC CJ K M Joseph as judges of the Supreme Court.
Justice Banerjee would become the eighth woman judge in the history of the Supreme Court. She succeeds the likes of Fathima Beevi, Sujata V. Manohar, Ruma Pal and Gyan Sudha Misra and Ranjana Prakash Desai.