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Current affairs : January 7, 2017 for all competitive exams

GDP growth likely to be slower this year
India’s gross domestic output is expected to grow at a slower pace of 7.1 per cent in 2016-17 compared to the 7.6 per cent clocked in the previous year.
The gross value added (GVA) is estimated to grow 7 per cent in 2016-17 compared with a growth rate of 7.2 per cent in 2015-16. 
  • The agriculture sector saw significant growth with its GVA estimated to grow 4.1 per cent in 2016-17 up from 1.2 per cent in the previous year. 
  • The service sector in aggregate is expected to grow 7.9 per cent in 2016-17, slower than the 8.1 per cent seen in the previous year.
  • Manufacturing, on the other hand, is expected to witness a slowdown, with the sector’s GVA to grow 7.4 per cent in 2016-17 down from 9.3 per cent in 2015-16.

14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas convention begins in Bengaluru
The 14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) convention has begins in Bengaluru. The three-day event will kick start with the Youth PBD.
  • The theme of which is 'Role of Diaspora Youth in the Transformation of India'. 
  • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas has been held traditionally on 9th January every year to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi as a Pravasi from South Africa to India.

India and Kazakhstan sign Protocol to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC)
India and Kazakhstan have signed a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries which was earlier signed on 9th December, 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
  • The Protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters. Further, the information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa.

Steep hike in vehicle registration fee
The Union government has increased steeply the fee for registration of all class of motor vehicles, driving licence and other services provided to motorists, under the guise of rolling out automation.

  • A 10-fold increase has been effected in the fee levied for registration of new vehicles. For registration of driving schools, the fee has gone up from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 10,000.
  • Issue of learner’s licence in Form 3 for each class of vehicle, learner’s licence test fee and repeat test fee have all been increased from Rs. 30 to Rs. 150. Fee for the renewal of driving licence has been increased from Rs. 50 to Rs. 200 and that of international driving licence from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000.

Aadhaar now mandatory for EPF pension scheme
The Centre has made obtaining an Aadhaar number mandatory for 2.5 crore members of the Employees’ Pension Scheme of 1995, one of the benefits available to Employees’ Provident Fund subscribers.
  • The Labour Ministry said in a notification that those without an Aadhaar number will have to make an application to get enrolled by January 31, 2017.
  • The subsidy, equivalent to 1.16 per cent of the employee’s salary upto ₹6,500, paid by the Centre towards the EPS, will no longer be credited till the Aadhaar number is shared with the authorities.

Centre plans to amend Plantation Labour Act
The Centre is planning to amend the Plantation Labour Act (PLA), 1951 in a major way to exclude ‘in –kind’ components being regarded as wages.
  • It may be mentioned here that under the PLA 1951, plantation workers get various benefits either subsidised or free. These include rations, housing, education, firewood and medical facilities.
  • The Central and State governments rolled out a clutch of social sector schemes which can be implemented in the tea estates. This, they felt, would obviate the need for the industry to extend these benefits. The Centre now wants the plantation industry to share this cost with the government under the amended PLA.

m-Parivahan is a citizen centric app that will facilitate access to various transport related services.
  • The app provides for virtual driving license and registration certificate through back end connection to Transport National Register.

North Eastern Tourism Development Council:
The government has announced the formation of exclusive “North-Eastern Tourism Development Council” (NETDC) on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode under the auspices of Union Ministry of DoNER.
  • This is for the first time that the Government has decided to set up a separate tourism development agency, devoted to a particular region of the country.

New Delhi World Book Fair to Celebrate 60 Years of National Book Trust:
New Delhi World Book Fair has begun. The Fair is being organized in collaboration with India Trade Promotion Organisation.
  • New Delhi World Book Fair will have ‘Manushi’ as the Theme of this year, which will focus on writings on and by women; and will exhibit the rich tradition of women writings from ancient times till present.
  • National Book Trust is celebrating 60 years of its foundation and it will showcase its journey in promoting books and reading at a special exhibit ‘This is no looking back!

Bill targeting H1B visas reintroduced in US Congress
A bill to curb the use of H-1B visas, on which the Indian IT sector is particularly dependent, has been introduced in US congress.
  • The H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa given by the United States to employ skilled workers from other countries for various specialised fields of occupation for a certain period of time.

US designates election infrastructure as ‘critical’
Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that’s “vital to national interests,” US government has designated US election systems as critical infrastructure. 
  • This move aims to provide more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering.

U.S. puts Osama’s son on terror blacklist
The U.S. added Hamza bin Laden, son and heir of Osama bin Laden, to its terrorist blacklist on Thursday. Hamza, who is in his mid-twenties, has become active as an al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death in 2011.
  • The State Department order lists Hamza bin Laden as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”, meaning that U.S. citizens are forbidden from dealing with Hamza. This also freezes any of his assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

RBI to provide 1 billion to Nepal:
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has agreed to provide Rs 1 billion to the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) after its request that the country was facing a shortage of INR 100 denomination banknotes.

Hindustan Zinc gets green nod for Zawar mines
Vedanta Group firm Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) has got environment clearance for its Rs. 1,200 crore Zawar Mines expansion project in Rajasthan.
  • The world’s second largest zinc producer wants to expand the production capacity of lead-zinc and ore beneficiation at its Zawar Group of underground mines located in Sarada district.

IRCTC to unveil new app for booking tickets faster
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Limited will soon introduce a new ticketing app, which will have several features added on the existing one for faster booking of tickets. 
  • IRCTC Connect will now become IRCTC Rail Connect to facilitate booking of train tickets in a faster and easier way. 
  • IRCTC, which handles online train ticket bookings, will formally unveil the IRCTC Rail Connect app next week to cater to the growing demand to make the ticketing app more user-friendly. The new ticketing app will be based on next generation e-ticketing system.

My best years were in RBI, says Y V Reddy

Yaga Venugopal Reddy biography in Telugu, ‘My Reflections’ or ‘Naa Gnapakalu’ in association with Aruna Pappu (Emesco Publications) was released.
  • In the 350-page book, Dr. Reddy traces his beginnings from Paturi village in Kadapa district, his education in Telugu medium, college in Chennai, onward to Hyderabad where he was a part-time lecturer in Osmania University, to getting selected to IAS to fulfil the wish of his father, also a civil servant. 

Eminent jurist Weeramantry dead
Eminent jurist C.G. Weeramantry, who was the first Sri Lankan to be appointed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, and acclaimed for his dissenting judgment on nuclear weapons, passed away .
  • He set up the Colombo-based Weeramantry Centre for International Peace and also served as president of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, a non-governmental organisation headquartered in The Hague.

Veteran actor Om Puri passes away
Veteran actor Om Puri, who delivered riveting performances in Hindi films and shone in character roles, passed away.
  • He has also acted in English and Pakistani movies, and is a Padma Shri awardee in 1990.
  • In 2009, Nandita wrote a biography of Om Puri titled Unlikely Hero: The Story Of Om Puri.

30 Indian-Origin Men & Women Inducted into 2017 Forbes’ Super Achievers List
Over 30 Indian-origin innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders have been featured in the 2017 edition of Forbes' list of super achievers under the age of 30 who seek to break the status quo and transform the world.
  • The Forbes list has 30 game changers in 20 industries including healthcare, manufacturing, sports and finance.

Riyad Mahrez: Leicester winger is named Africa's best player
Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez has won the Confederation of African Football's player of the year award.
  • The 25-year-old Algerian, who helped Leicester to the Premier League title, is also the PFA Player of the Year and  African Football's player of the year.

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