Daily Current Affairs for Competitive Exams: January 30, 2017

Hello Readers,
Here are the important headlines of the day with significant highlights essential for competitive exams like UPSC, SSC, IBPS PO, SBI PO, Bank Clerk and other competitive examinations. 

RBI issues payment bank licence to India Post

  • RBI has given its nod to India Post to rollout commercial banking operations within the permissible limit stated under the licence. 
  • Thus it makes India Post the third entity to receive payments bank permits after Paytm and Bharti Airtel.
  • India Post Payments Bank along with other payment banks can accept a deposit not amounting to more than Rs 1 lakh per individual and small businesses.
  • AP Singh has been appointed as the interim MD and CEO of the India Post Payment Bank.
Why Payments Banks:
The new model of banking allows mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to banking requirements of individuals and small businesses. It will be set up as a differentiated bank and will confine its activities to acceptance of demand deposits, remittance services, Internet banking and other specified services.
Other Payment Banks: Paytm, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Fino Paytech, National Securities Depository, Reliance Industries Ltd and Vodafone m-pesa.

Serena Williams wins Australian Open

Serena Williams has won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over her older sister Venus in Australian Open final.
  • It was Serena's seventh win in nine all-Williams Grand Slam finals, and the first since Wimbledon in 2009.
  • The victory at Rod Laver Arena also ensured Serena Williams will regain the top ranking, which she lost in September after 186 straight weeks when Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open.

India and Russia to develop PAK FA

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles are all set to be mounted on submarines' torpedo launchers and on Russia's fifth generation T-50 PAK FA Fighter jet.
  • The two countries are developing a Fifth Gen Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). However, the Indian version of the FGFA will have more than 40 improvements over the Russian version.
  • Last year, India and Russia had agreed ‘in principle’ to export BrahMos to the UAE, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile, as reported by TASS.
About BrahMos:
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is the product of Russia’s Machine-Building Research and Development Consortium and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, which set up BrahMos Aerospace joint venture in 1998.

Federer wins Australian Open

  • Swiss legend Roger Federer kept his nerves to fend off 14-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in a pulsating summit clash to clinch the men's singles title of the Australian Open.
  • The Swiss maestro defeated Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena in the final match that lasted for more than two-and-a-half hours.

New test to detect signs of life on alien planets

NASA scientists have developed a new chemical assay that could aid the search for life on exoplanets by identifying the presence of amino acids, the compounds that make up proteins and building blocks of life.
  • The method is 10,000 times more sensitive than current methods employed by spacecraft like NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover.
  • One of the key advantages of the new way of using capillary electrophoresis is that the process is relatively simple and easy to automate for liquid samples expected on ocean world missions.
  • It involves combining a liquid sample with a liquid reagent, followed by chemical analysis under conditions determined by the team.
  • By shining a laser across the mixture – a process known as laser-induced fluorescence detection – specific molecules can be observed moving at different speeds. They get separated based on how quickly they respond to electric fields. While capillary electrophoresis has been around since the early 1980s, this is the first time it has been tailored specifically to detect extraterrestrial life on an ocean world.
  • The researchers were able to simultaneously analyse 17 different amino acids, which they are calling “the Signature 17 standard.” These amino acids were chosen for study because they are the most commonly found on Earth or elsewhere.

Why January 30 is observed as Martyr’s Day in India?

A file photo of funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi.
Today, January 30, is observed as National Martyr’s Day in India. This day is observed as a mark of respect for the leading figure of India’s freedom struggle, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fondly known as Bapu or the Mahatma. On Martyr’s Day, the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, and the three Service Chiefs gather at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and lay wreaths on the Samadhi decorated with multi-colour flowers. The armed forces personnel blow bugles sounding, ‘The Last Post’. The inter-services contingent reverse arms as a mark of respect to the martyrs.
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948 during a morning prayer meeting held at Birla Bhavan in Delhi. The place where Gandhi fell is called Rajghat.
Sailen Chatterjee, a veteran journalist, then working for the United Press of India (UPI) at its New Delhi office, was one of the first to report the incident. Chatterjee had accompanied Gandhi during the Noakhali riots of 1946 and had seen closely how Gandhi had managed to put an end to the violence. Chatterjee has lucidly described the events that took place on January 30 morning of 1948 as he was present at the prayer meeting. When he reported the news of Gandhi’s assassination, no one in UPI believed him. Chatterjee has described the assassination of Gandhi as a ‘dark night’ in history of India. In one of the later published stories, he narrated how Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru stood side by side weeping and consoling each other. About Gandhi’s cremation, Sailen observed, “A mass of humanity had crowded in Delhi on that occasion.”
The assassin
Nathuram Godse, the assassin, was influenced by the ideology of the Hindu Mahasabha (HMS), was an organisation which had a different and extremist outlook towards the freedom struggle. The main goal of HMS was to establish India as a one religion nation state, based on the European idea of a nation state. This was at loggerheads with the idea of India as a multi-religious nation-state which the freedom struggle stood for. Social psychologist Ashis Nandy has identified the extreme behaviour of Godse to his growing up years. Godse was brought up as a girl. Nandy believes that this confusion about his sexuality led Godse to act in a manner that would reinforce his identity as masculine.
Few countries in Africa and Asia, which gained freedom from their colonisers at the same time as India, have been able to maintain the momentum towards progress. Either ways, no one can deny the role of Gandhi in helping India achieve its dream of self-rule.

Daily Current Affairs for Competitive Exams: January 26, 27, 2017

Highlights of the 68th Republic Day of India

The Indian Constituent Assembly on on November 26, 1949, adopted by the Constitution, which came into effect on January 26, 1950. As we celebrate our 68th Republic Day on January 26, 2017.
  • The theme for the 68th Republic day of India was 'Skill India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao'.
  • Chief Guest - Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was the first guest from any middle-east country.
  • No. of states participating in the parade - 17
  • First Time in History - Debut show of Sherpa (a bullet-proof NSG vehicle).
  • This was the second time that a foreign military contingent marched down the Rajpath, with the French contingent being the first.
  • India became a Republic at 10:18 a.m. on January 26 in the year 1950.
  • Around six minutes later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as President of India at the Durbar Hall in President House.
  • The Constitution was neither typed nor printed but handwritten and calligraphed both in English and Hindi.
  • After inception of the Indian Constitution, around 101 amendments (alterations) have been done.
  • The members signed the handwritten document on January 24, 1950.
  • The original copies are kept safely in the Parliament's library in helium-filled cases.
  • The Indian Constitution is the longest in the world, comprising of 448 articles, 12 schedules and 101 amendments.
  • Satyamev Jayate (one of the biggest Indian mottos) is taken from the Mundaka Upanishad, Atharvaveda. It was first translated in the Hindi language by Muslim Abid Ali in 1911.
  • It was Madan Mohan Malviya who selected the Indian motto of Satyamev Jayate.
  • From 1950 and 1954, the venues of the Republic Day parade were the Red Fort, National Stadium, Kingsway Camp and the Ramlila ground. It was only in 1955 that Rajpath was chosen as the regular venue.
  • The first Republic Day parade was held in 1955 at Rajpath, five years after India became a Republic.
  • President Sukarno of Indonesia was the first chief guest at the first Republic Day celebrations held on January 26, 1950.
  • A Christian hymn 'Abide With Me' is played at the parade as it was one of Mahatma Gandhi's favourite songs.
  • Jana Gana Mana (National Anthem) was written first in Bengali language by the Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Jana Gana Mana (National Anthem) was first translated into Hindi language by the Abid Ali in 1911 which was later officially adopted as National Anthem of India in 1950 on January 24.
  • The National Anthem of India was first sung in the meeting of Indian National Congress, Calcutta on December 27, 1911.
  • The National Anthem of India takes 52 seconds to sing or play.
  • A 21 gun salute is given every Republic Day when the President of India unfurls the national flag.
  • Republic Day celebration of India lasts for three days and concludes with Mahatma Gandhi's favourite hymn 'Abide by Me' during the Beating Retreat.
  • Beating Retreat ceremony is held on January 29 at Vijay Chowk with the performance of Indian Army, Air Force and Navy bands. It marks the end of the Republic Day celebrations in India.
  • This day is one of three national holidays, the other two being Independence Day on August 15 and Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.

India in Red Zone in Transparency List

A major international index of corruption and transparency has placed India on the watch list for its inability to curb mega corruption scandals and petty bribery.
The annual index of Transparency International issued on January 25, 2017 for 2016 placed India with Brazil and China in the 40th position. India’s condition showed growth with inequality.
  • India’s ongoing poor performance with a score of 40 reiterates the state’s inability to effectively deal with petty corruption and large-scale corruption scandals, said Transparency International.
  • The impact of corruption on poverty, illiteracy and policy brutality showed that not only was the economy growing but so was inequality.
  • India’s current ranking, putting it in the high corruption zone, has drawn critical observations from transparency campaigners.
  • South Asia had performed poorly. Bangladesh at 27th and Nepal at 29th positions were slotted in the highly corrupt section.
  • Pakistan, at 32, also came in the red zone. Afghanistan ranked 15th was in the “highly corrupt” list with South Sudan, North Korea and Libya.
  • The organisation recognised China’s recent anti-corruption campaign under President Xi Jinping which had been targeting ‘tigers and flies’ and slotted it alongside India.
  • China’s latest score was an improvement of three points. India, though it improved two ranks, remained in the same red-zone of corruption.

GSLV’s cryogenic upper stage tested successfully

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Propulsion Research Complex at Mahendragiri, successfully conducted the stage level test of GSLV MK III’s cryogenic upper stage C-25 on January 25, 2017.
  • Accompanied by his colleagues at IPRC, ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar witnessed the test that lasted about 50 seconds.
  • The 50-second long test of C-25 of the country’s most powerful launch vehicle that can carry satellites weighing 4,000 kg was successful.
  • The cryogenic upper stage of the GSLV is the large C-25, the most difficult component of the launch vehicle to be developed.
  • It will be powered by the indigenously developed CE-20 engine.

Daily Current Affairs for Competitive Exams: January 25, 2016

PADMA Awardees 2017
Shri K J YesudasArt-MusicKerala
Sadhguru Jaggi VasudevOthers-SpiritualismTamil Nadu
Shri Sharad PawarPublic AffairsMaharashtra
Shri Murli Manohar JoshiPublic AffairsUttar Pradesh
Prof. Udipi Ramachandra RaoScience & EngineeringKarnataka
Late Shri Sunder Lal Patwa (Posthumous)Public AffairsMadhya Pradesh
Late Shri PA Sangma (Posthumous)Public AffairsMeghalaya

Varishtha pension Bima Yojana

The Union Cabinet gave its post-facto approval for the launch of the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017.
The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme is meant to provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly/quarterly/half-yearly or annual basis. 
  • The difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis. 
  • VPBY-2017 is proposed to be open for subscription for a period of one year from the date of launch.

Japan launches first military communications satellite

Japan launched its first military communications satellite to boost the broadband capacity of its Self Defence Forces as they reinforce an island chain stretching along the southern edge of the East China Sea.
Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the military is operating further from Japan’s home islands as it takes on a bigger role to counter growing Chinese military activity in the region.
  • The satellite lifted off from Japan’s Tanegashima space port aboard an H-IIA rocket and successfully entered orbit.
  • The satellite is one of three planned so-called X-band satellites, that will quadruple broadband capacity, unify a fractured and overburdened communications network and allow communications across more territory.
  • Japan and China are locked in a territorial dispute in the East China Sea over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The two countries are also at odds over the exploitation of gas fields that straddle exclusive economic zones claimed by both.
  • Japan, the main US ally in Asia, is concerned that a recent increase in Chinese military activity in the area is a sign it is looking to extend its military influence from the neighboring South China Sea as a challenge to US maritime dominance.
  • In December, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, sailed through the passage between the Japanese Southwestern islands of Mikado and Okinawa and into the Pacific for what China described as routine exercises.
  • This launch marks the successful resumption of a programme that was halted last year by an embarrassing mishap.
  • The first of the three satellites, which was meant to go into space from Europe’s Space port in French Guiana, was crushed during a flight from Japan after a blue tarpaulin covering its transport box blocked valves meant to equalize the internal air pressure as the cargo aircraft descended.

Guided PINAKA successfully test fired

DRDO successfully test fired the Guided PINAKA from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur for further enhanced range. PINAKA Rocket Mark-II, equipped with navigation, guidance and control kit, is transformed to a Guided PINAKA.
The conversion has facilitated to enhance the range and improve the accuracy of PINAKA.
  • The Mission met all the objectives. The Radars, Electro Optical and Telemetry Systems at ITR Chandipur tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight path.
  • The guided PINAKA is developed combinedly by ARDE Pune, RCI and DRDL, Hyderabad. ITR, Chandipur provided the range and launch support.
  • SA to RM and DG (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Guided PINAKA has reinforced the technological strength of the country in converting unguided systems into weapons of high precision.

Daily Current Affairs: January 24, 2017

National Steel Policy, 2017 unveiled

  • The draft National Steel Policy of 2017 has been  envisaging to double India’s domestic steel production capacity to 300 million tonnes by 2030-31.
  • Two vision (i) Create a globally competitive steel industry that promotes inter-sectoral growth (ii) Create a self-sufficient steel industry that is technologically advanced, globally competitive and promotes inclusive growth.
  • Gas-based steel plants have been proposed toreduce use of coking coal in blast furnaces. This will help in cutting down reliance on expensive imports of coking coal.
  • Under Sagarmala project, greenfield steel plants along India’s coastline will be set up. These plants will tap cheap imported raw materials such as coking coal and export the output in a more cost-effective manner.
  • Cluster-based approach will be pursued, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to ensure easy availability of raw materials, optimum land use and economies of scale. 

Jallikattu bill passed in Tamil Nadu Assembly 

  • A special session of Tamil Nadu Assembly passed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment), Act, 2017 to lift Supreme Court imposed ban on the traditional sport of Jallikattu.
  • The bill will now replace the ordinance promulgated in this regard by the Governor on the recommendation of state government. Key Facts The bill amends section 2 of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (PCA) Act, 1960.
  • Jallikattu is a traditional sport played in parts of Tamil Nadu. It involves taming a bull in an open arena. Objections raised about the sport had led to Supreme Court banning the sport in 2014. However, mass protest by people and representation by TN Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam to Centre resulted in this bill being passed. An ordinance was introduced in TN Assembly under article 213.

India rejects dispute reddressal mechanism under WTO

  • India rejected a proposal called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism suggested by European Union and Canada under aegis of World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • The ISDS mechanism would have allowed companies to drag governments to international arbitration without exhausting the local remedies. It also allows them to claim huge amounts as compensation citing losses they suffered due to reasons, including policy changes. 
  • India emphasized its position of going to international arbitration only after local reddressal mechanisms were exhausted.

US pulls out of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

  •   President Donald Trump has pulled US out of the TPP calling it harmful to American workers and manufacturing.
  • TPP is a trade agreement which was under negotiation between 12 Pacific Rim nations which constitute 40 % of world economy.
  • Obama's idea of encouraging TPP was to counter growing economic might of China.
  • 12 members of TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, US and Vietnam. India was not part of TPP.

2 arrested for fraud in postal department recruitment

LUCKNOW: Two members of a gang fleecing job aspirants were nabbed by sleuths of STF on Saturday. Those arrested were identified as Ram Praveen and Dharamraj Kumar, both of Nalanda, Bihar. The police also seized their two mobile handsets. 

SSP STF Amit Pathak said the gang leaked results of exam for selection of multi-tasking staff and postman conducted by Indian Postal services on a fake website ahead of official results. Preliminary investigations revealed the kingpin Dharamraj used to make calls and ask for money promising selection and charged Rs 30,000 from each candidate for the post of multi-tasking staff and postman.

They had duped around 300 students giving them different bank account numbers to deposit cash and had amassed Rs 90 lakh. "We are probing their bank details and also of others associated with the gang," police told TOI. 

The gang used to call up applicants who had scored less than qualifying marks and assured to increase their marks against payment of cash. The gang had leaked data of applicants and results from third party which conducted the examinations. 

They had created a fake website of Indian Postal Department Examination Results and duped thousands of applicants and eventually the exam had to be cancelled. The exam was conducted by Indian PostalServices in December 2015, at Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly and Lucknow. 

To win the confidence of aspirants, the miscreants formed a base in Nalanda, one of the most revered seats of learning in Bihar. STF inspector Abhinav Singh said the probe began when V K Gupta, vigilance officer of postal department lodged an FIR in 2016 regarding the fraud. 

General Awareness for Competitive Exams: January 23, 2017

Themes for 68th Republic Day

A tribute to Lokmanya Tilak on his 160th birth anniversary, art and lifestyle of Kutch, model government schools of Delhi, Skill India and Beti bachao beti padhao are among the themes for the Republic Day tableaux this year.
  • A total of 23 tableaux would be on display at the ceremonial parade with 17 of them belonging to various states and Union Territories.
  • Six tableaux from Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Skill Development, Central Board of Excise and Customs, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) will find their place at the 68th Republic Day on Rajpath.
  • States registering their presence this year include Goa, Odisha, Delhi, Tripura, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam.
  • The tableau by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is based on the theme of 'Transforming India through Skill development', while that of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises will be based on Khadi and Village Industries Commission.
  • Arunachal's Yak danceKarnataka's folk dancesTamil Nadu's dance 'Karakattam' and Tripura's tribal dance 'Hojagiri' will be represented in the tableau of the respective states, while Punjab will showcase "Jago Aiya".
  • Jago is a festive dance which would take place the night before a Punjabi wedding.
  • Delhi's tableau, which will be part of the parade after three years, has been set up as a model government school to portray the transformation in state-run schools and the recent initiatives taken by the government in the education sector.
  • Lakshadweep, which is participating in the parade after 23 years, will portray itself as an unexplored destination for "adventure sport-nature tourism" with premier diving spots, rich eco-system, marine wealth, coral reefs, silver sandy beaches and pristine waters.
  • The theme of Haryana's tableau is based on the popular "Beti bachao beti padhao" campaign, while that of Goa will focus on the state's musical heritage.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna will be the theme of the tableau of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's tableau will showcase 38 national laboratories.
  • 'Green India-Clean India' will be the theme of CPWD's tableau.

China commissions 31st stealth warship

China has commissioned its 31st stealth warship as it got its battle group under its first aircraft carrier ready amid tensions with the US and other nations over its assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
The People's Liberation Army Navy has commissioned its 31st Type-056 class corvette, marking a new addition to the world's largest fleet of modern corvettes.
  • With a maximum speed of 52 km/h, the ship features good manoeuvrability, a high-level of automation and stealth capability, and is capable of hitting aircraft, ships and submarines.
  • The CNS Ezhou with a hull number of 513 was delivered to the East Sea Fleet in a naval base in East China's Fujian province.
  • The ship will perform coastal patrol, fishery escort, anti-submarine and anti-ship operations.
  • It is the second ship that has been commissioned to the PLA Navy since the start of 2017, following the CNS Kaiyangxing, a Type-815A class electronic reconnaissance ship, which now belongs to the North Sea Fleet.
  • Russia has the world's largest corvette group that consists of about 80 vessels, but most of them were built in the 1980s and 1990s and cannot compete with the Type-056 in terms of technology and equipment, the report quoted defence observers as saying, adding that China's fleet is now the biggest force of modern corvettes of all navies.

Delhi airport bags CSR award

GMR Group-led consortium Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL) has bagged the prestigious Golden Peacock Award for Corporate Social Responsibility in the aviation transport sector for 2016.
  • The award was presented at a special presentation ceremony during the 11th International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • The award reaffirms our commitment towards achieving exemplary results for our society while following the best practises.
  • The Golden Peacock Awards were founded by the Institute of Directors, India, in 1991 and are globally regarded as a benchmark of corporate excellence.
  • The National Quality Award Scheme was instituted to encourage total quality improvements in both manufacturing and service organisations in India.
  • Over 325 responses were received for the annual awards this year, of which 191 shortlisted applications were subjected to a three-tier assessment process for final selection.
  • Earlier, DIAL also won the 6th EPC World Awards for its contribution in the infrastructure and construction sector.
  • The Delhi airport has been adjudged as the world's no. 1 airport in ACI ASQ survey in the 25-40 million passengers per anum category for two consecutive years from 2014.