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01 September 2017 - Current Affairs

01 September 2017 - Current Affairs

Eight core sectors growth slips to 2.4% in July 2017

  • The growth of eight core sectors slowed to 2.4% in July 2017 due to contraction in output of crude oil, refinery products, fertiliser and cement.
  • These eight sectors had witnessed 3.1% growth in July 2016. Cumulatively, these eight core sectors recorded a growth of 2.5% in April-July 2017 period as against 6% in same period in 2016.
  • In June, these eight sectors had recorded growth rate of 0.8%.
  • It will have implications on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these sectors account for about 40.27% to the total factory output. 
  • In India, there are eight core sectors comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.

India, Switzerland ink two MoUs in the field of Railways

  • India and Switzerland have signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) for exchanging technical cooperation in the field of Railways.
  • They were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard in New Delhi.
  • They also issued Joint press statement.
  • MoU between Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
  • MoU between Ministry of Railways and Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of the Swiss Federation on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector.

Govt plans to create FarmerZone

  • The Union Ministry of Science and Technology is planning to create FarmerZone, a collective open-source data platform for smart agriculture by using biological research and data to improve lives of small and marginal farmers. 
  • It was announced by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at recently convened Smart Agriculture Conclave in New Delhi.
  • The objective of conclave was to set stage for “FarmerZone”.
  • It was organised by DBT in partnership with UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) India. 
  • FarmerZone envisioned by the DBT aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for effective decision-making in agriculture by integrating science, technology, innovation and farm ecosystem. 
  • This platform aims to cater all needs of farmer from dealing with climate change, weather predictions and soil, water and seed requirements.

Mahindra Comviva to acquire Emagine International

  • Mahindra Comviva, a mobility solutions provider, has signed an agreement to acquire Emagine International for an undisclosed sum. 
  • The acquisition adds a number of customers such as Optus, 9 Mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria), Virgin Mobile, Vodacom and Vodafone Australia to Comviva’s portfolio.
  • The combined business intends to achieve a 25 per cent year-on-year growth of revenue by fiscal 2021.
  • It will help to capitalise on the exploding demand for consumer analytics solutions.
  • Comviva has also appointed David Peters as Chief Executive Officer of Emagine International, and Amit Sanyal, business head, customer value management practice, Comviva, as the Executive Head of the combined business.

Trade-distorting farm subsidies must go: India-China

  • India and China have jointly submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) calling for the develelimination of the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies by developed countries.
  • The most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies is known in WTO parlance as Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or ‘Amber Box’ support.
  • It assumes importance in view for consideration of other reforms in domestic support negotiations in view of ongoing negotiations for upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference (MC) of WTO to be held in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in December 2017. 
  • The MC is the WTO’s highest decision making body.

EU, India agrees to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation

  • India and European Union (EU) have agreed to strengthen cooperation between their security and intelligence agencies to combat threat of terrorism and check terror financing.
  • Both sides deliberated extensively on combating terror financing and challenges posed by violent extremism and radicalisation during 10th India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue held in New Delhi. 
  • FATF is an inter-governmental body which monitors the progress of member countries in implementing necessary measures to check money laundering and terrorist financing.

World’s biggest and powerful X-ray laser gun unveilded

  • The world’s largest and powerful X-ray laser- European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) was unveiled in Hamburg, Germany.
  • The first beams from XFEL were accelerated in April 2017 and first x-ray beams were produced in May 2017.
  • It will help scientists penetrate the inner workings of atoms, viruses and chemical reactions. 
  • The XFEL is lodged in series of 3.4-kilometer tunnels up to 38 metres underground near city of Hamburg.
  • It took 8 years to build 1.5-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) facility with funding from 11 countries.
  • It has been hailed as one of largest and most ambitious European research projects ever.
  • XFEL is like a camera and a microscope that will make it possible to observe tiny details and processes in the nano-world than ever before.

Rajiv Kumar takes charge as NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman

  • Noted economist Rajiv Kumar took over as the Vice-Chairman of government National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.
  • He succeeds Indian-American economist Arvind Panagariya who had resigned to return to academia. 
  • As a Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, he will hold Union Cabinet Minister rank.
  • Prime Minister is ex-officio Chairperson of the Aayog.
  • NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs. 

Rajiv Mehrishi appointed as Comptroller and Auditor General of India

  • Senior IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi was appointed as the next Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
  • He will succeed Shashi Kant Sharma who is is going to demit office on September 25, 2017.

Sunil Arora appointed Election Commissioner

  • The Union Government has appointed former Information and Broadcasting secretary Sunil Arora as Election Commissioner. 
  • He will have tenure of four years in the Election Commission.
  • His appointment comes to fill the vacancy created by former CEC Nasim Zaidi’s retirement in July 2017.

Rajiv Kumar assumes charge as DFS Secretary

  • Rajiv Kumar assumed charge as Secretary in the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the Finance Ministry. 
  • He has come in the place of Anjuly Chib Duggal, who superannuated on Aug 31. 

ISRO’s IRNSS-1H satellite launch unsuccessful

  • The launch of IRSO’s eight navigation satellite IRNSS-1H onbaord of PSLV-C39 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh was unsuccessful.
  • The heat shield did not separate as a result of which satellite did not complete the 4th stage.  
  • The IRNSS-1H was being sent to space to back up and replace the functions of India’s first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A (launched in July 2013) as its three rubidium atomic clocks on board had stopped functioning.
  • The rubidium atomic clocks on board of IRNSS-1A that stopped working were imported from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium.
  • The atomic clocks are used to find satellite’s position with an accuracy of 0.5 metre. 
  • IRNSS-1H was India’s first satellite actively built by consortium of private firms led by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies.
  • The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent regional system developed by India on par with the US-based GPS, Russia’s Glonass and Galileo developed by Europe. 
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