Current Affairs – 9th March 2017
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10th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance Held in New Delhi
The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, in collaboration with United Nations University and UNESCO, is organizing a three-day International Conference 10th ICEGOV 2017 in Delhi from 7th March to Thursday, 9th March, 2017.
Theme: Building Knowledge Societies: From Digital Government to Digital Empowerment
- The key objective of ICEGOV2017 is to explore how Digital Government can lead to Digital Empowerment by local knowledge. It is a recognition of India’s emerging role as a massive cyber power, accelerated by the Digital India push which has acquired international acknowledgment.
- ICEGOV 2017 is the 10th edition of ICEGOV, which will focus on the use of technology to transform relationships between government and citizens, businesses, civil society.
- It will try to inculcate an outlook to create new forms, paradigms, foundations for technology-enabled governance, collaboration, development.
Vasundhara Raje Presented Rs. 1,66,00 Crore Rajasthan Budget 2017-18
Chef Minister Vasundhara Raje on Wednesday tabled a Rajasthan budget of Rs. 1,66,000 crore in which many sectors infrastructure development, transport, agriculture, higher education and water resources gets the major allocation.
The budget projected an estimated fiscal deficit for 2017-18 at 24,753 crore, which is 2.99% of the GSDP and the estimated total revenue receipt for the financial year at 1,30,162 crore. The estimated own tax revenue for 2017-18 was 8.34% of GSDP.
Odisha govt launches 181 helpline for distressed women
- Chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated a 24X7 toll free helpline number 181 for distressed women on the occasion on International Women’s Day.
- The helpline will facilitate quick response of various services including lodging police complaint to provide medical, legal and counselling to women victims.
- Odisha government has instituted 50% reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions and government jobs to encourage their better participation. Women in Odisha got back their confidence to march ahead in society and overcome blind beliefs, illiteracy, disease and discrimination.
- Chief minister also felicitated women achievers in the field of academics and sports on the occasion.
- They include Manjulata Panda, a visually challenged woman who bagged her doctoral degree in economics from Utkal University, Jhilli Dalabehera and Jabamani Tudu, who have been successful in national and international field of weightlifting and football respectively.
- Naveen also awarded Rs 10,000 cash each to four Anganwadi workers for their best services for proper implementation of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Angul, Ganjam and Dhenkanal adjudged as the best performing districts in ICDS.
India and Belgium sign Protocol amending the India-Belgium Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Protocol
- India and Belgium have signed a Protocol amending the existing Agreement and Protocol between the two countries for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income today in New Delhi.
- This in turn will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.
- Fighting the menace of Black Money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority area for the Government.
- To further this goal, India has either signed or amended international agreements, declarations or conventions for the Avoidance of Double Taxation & Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and for the Exchange of Information with Switzerland, Mauritius, Cyprus, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Austria during the financial year 2016-17.
Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)
Chairman: Shri Sushil Chandra
Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami Launches Rs 1580 cr Housing Scheme
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Thursday launched a housing scheme estimated at Rs 1,580 crore. The scheme was being implemented by the state government with Central assistance for the economically poor.
- The project is estimated at Rs 1,580 crore and will be implemented by the state government with financial assistance from the Center.
- While launching the scheme, CM Palaniswami gave away work orders to five beneficiaries.
- For the current fiscal 2016-17, concrete houses will be constructed for 50,170 beneficiaries in town panchayat limits.
Lok Sabha Passes Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 today (9th March 2017). This bill was already passed by Rajya Sabha during the winter session on 11th August 2016. The bill was presented in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya. This amendment is expected to help around 1.8 million women workforce in the organized sector. The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her to a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care of her child. The number of weeks of maternity leave in Canada and Norway is 50 & 44 weeks respectively. India now stands just behind these 2 countries.
Salient Features of the Bill:
- Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
- Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
- Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as the biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
- Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.
- The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so.
- Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.
Mega Cultural Festival ‘India by the Nile’ Begins in Egypt
- In Egypt, the mega cultural festival ‘India by the Nile’ got off to a colourful start at the foot of the Pyramids in Cairo with a Crafts Mela, showcasing joint handicraft exhibition of India and Egypt.
- The IBN Festival is organized by India to showcase Indian culture, arts music, dance, theatre, food, cuisine and Yoga & wellbeing to build a long lasting relationship between the two ancient civilizations.
Hawaii Becomes First State to Sue Over Trump’s Revised Travel Ban
- Hawaii has become the first state to file a lawsuit against Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.
- Attorneys for the state filed the lawsuit against the US government in the federal court in Honolulu.
- The state had sued over Trump’s initial travel ban, but that lawsuit was put on hold while other cases played out across the country.
- The new order keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen but exempts Iraq. It replaces the previous order that was issued on 27 January and comes into effect on March 16, 2017.
Banking and Finance
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue new Rs 10 notes
The RBI on 9th March announced that new Rs 10 notes will be released with enhanced security features. RBI also clarified that existing notes will continue to remain valid.
Distinct Features of new Rs 10 notes:
- Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005
- Inset letter ‘L’ in both the number panels
- Bearing the signature of Urjit R. Patel
- The year of printing ‘2017’ printed on the reverse of the banknote
- The first three alphanumeric characters (prefix) will remain constant in size.
EPFO extends Digital Life Certificate submission through Jeevan Pramaan Patra by March 31
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, the retirement fund body of India, extended the last date for submission of digital life certificate through Jeevan Pramaan Patra (JPP) up to 31 March 2017 under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS).
Earlier the last date was 28th February 2017.
Members and pensioners of the EPS are required to furnish Aadhaar number by the end of March 2017.
The date of submission of the Aadhaar–authenticated Jeevan Pramaan as life certificate was extended as several pensioners failed to submit their life certificates for the continuation of drawal of their pension.
In case a member has not been allotted Aadhaar number, a copy of Aadhaar enrolment ID slip is sufficient for settlement of the claim under EPS.
Aadhaar number is not required in case a member of pension scheme having less than 10 years of service chooses to withdraw by making an application.
Jeevan Pramaan- an Aadhar based Digital Life Certificate for pensioners.
Aim: To help crore of pensioners in getting the benefits of pension by producing life certificates each year in a digital instead of the physical life certificate.
SBI says minimum balance penalty needed to offset Jan Dhan account costs
- SBI recently announced that penalty for non-maintenance of Minimum Average Balance (MAB) from April 1, 2017. Government asked SBI to reconsider charges.
- The SBI has made it mandatory for savings accounts in metropolitan areas to maintain a minimum balance of Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 in urban areas, Rs 2,000 in semi-urban areas and Rs 1,000 in rural areas, from April 1.
Awards and Recognition
Konkani Writer Mahabaleshwar Sail Receives Saraswati Samman 2016
- Eminent Konkani writer Mahabaleshwar Sail has been honoured with the Saraswati Samman 2016 for his novel Hawthan.
- The award comprises a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh and a citation.
- Best known for his work, ‘Paltadcho Munis’, which inspired a film by the same name, Sail is a renowned bi-lingual writer based in Goa.
- He has four Marathi dramas and seven Konkani novels to his credit. He has also written short stories and a novel in Marathi.
- The 74-year-old writer’s novel was shortlisted from 22 regional language books.
Acquisitions & Mergers
Google acquires Kaggle for undisclosed amount to boost data play
- Technology giant Google has announced the acquisition of Kaggle, a start-up that hosts a number of data scientists, for an undisclosed amount at the Cloud Next 2017 conference.
- Kaggle is going to maintain independent brand for a while.
- More than 8 lakh data experts use Kaggle to explore, analyse and understand the latest updates in machine learning and data analytics.
- Kaggle and Google Cloud will continue to support machine learning training and deployment services while offering the community the ability to store and query large datasets.
NTPC commissions 45 MW of Bhadla solar plant
- India’s largest power generator NTPC Ltd has commissioned another 45 MW of its Bhadla solar power plant in Rajasthan and with this the company’s total installed capacity has become 48,188 MW.
- Last month, the company had commissioned 115 MW of the solar power plant.
- NTPC, which contributes nearly 24 per cent of the country’s total power generation, has plans to set up 10,000 MW renewable projects by 2022.
- The company now has 19 coal based, seven gas based, 10 solar PV, one hydro and nine subsidiaries or joint venture power stations. NTPC currently has capacity of over 23,000 MW under implementation at 23 locations across the country including 4,300 MW being undertaken by joint venture and subsidiary companies.
Cyclone Enawo kills at least 3 in Madagascar and 500 homeless
- A cyclone that hit northeast Madagascar killed at least three people and left nearly 500 people homeless.
- Officials and aid workers warned Wednesday that the full extent of the devastation was not yet clear because some access and communications were severed.
Science and Technology
INS Tillanchang commissioned into the Indian Navy at Karwar
The INS Tillanchang is a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC). INS Tillanchang is the third ship of four follow-on WJFAC built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata. The first two ships of the class, IN ships Tarmugli and Tihayu were commissioned in 2016 and are based at Visakhapatnam. The ship has been indigenously designed and built and is an upgrade from the Chetlat class of Fast Attack Craft that the Indian Navy possesses.
- INS Tillanchang is about 50 m long
- INS powered by three waterjet propulsion system, which give it speeds of over 35 knot
- The ship is armed with a 30 mm main gun and a number of light, medium and heavy machine guns
- It is manned by 50 personnel.
- INS Tillanchang will be based at Karwar under the operational control of the Flag Officer Commanding, Karnataka Naval Area.
Himachal launches mobile app Mera Hunar HP for job-seekers
- Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh launched a mobile app to help skilled and semi-skilled workers find jobs.
- The mobile app and website titled ‘Mera Hunar HP’ or ‘My Talent’ will directly connect prospective employers with job aspirants as the latter’s resume will contain addresses and contact numbers, state Information Technology.
IBM Researchers Creates World’s Smallest Magnet to Store Single Bit Data
- IBM Research scientists have stored a single bit of data on the world’s smallest magnet, which consists of a single atom.
- Currently, hard disk drives use about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit.
- The ability to read and write one bit on one atom creates new possibilities for developing significantly smaller and denser storage devices that could someday, for example, enable storing the entire iTunes library of 35 million songs on a device the size of a credit card.
- The world’s smallest magnet, similar to a magnet on a refrigerator, also has a north and south magnetic pole, but it consists of just a single atom of the element holmium.
- The scientists at IBM Research used a scanning tunneling microscope, an IBM invention that won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Physics, to build and measure isolated single-atom bits using the holmium atoms.
Scientists claim that Potatoes can grow on Mars
The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions. The experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California.
The CubeSat mimics Mars air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. The CubeSat houses a container holding soil and the tuber. CubeSat delivers nutrient rich water, controls the temperature for Mars day and night conditions.
- The International Potato Center, known by its Spanish acronym CIP, was founded in 1971 as a root and tuber research-for-development institution.
- CIP seeks to achieve food security, improved nutrition, and gender equity for poor people in the developing world.
- CIP furthers its mission through rigorous research, innovation in science and technology, and capacity strengthening regarding root and tuber farming and food systems.
- CIP is part of the CGIAR, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. Funders include individual countries, major foundations, and international entities.