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Daily Current affairs - September 21st, 2017 for all competitive exams

Cabinet approves Extension of time period of Udaan
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for extension of time period of the Scheme “Special Industry Initiative for J&K” (Sll J&K)- Udaan till 31st December, 2018 without any modification and cost escalation. Initially the time period of Udaan was upto 2016-17.
  • Udaan provides exposure to the youth of J&K to the best of corporate India and corporate India to the rich talent pool available in the State. 
  • So far, 109 leading Corporate have partnered with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under UDAAN with a commitment to train youth from the State covering Organized Retail, Banking, Financial Services, IT, ITES, Infrastructure, Hospitality etc.

‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’
The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency from October 10-13, 2017 in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). This Exercise will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries.
  • The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response.
  • It will help create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation among the member countries.
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy.

Cabinet approves Revamped Khelo India Programme
The Union Cabinet has approved the revamped Khelo India programme at a cost of Rs.1,756 crore for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. 
  • This marks a watershed moment in the history of Indian sports, as the Programme aims at mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual development, community development, economic development and national development.
  • The revamped Khelo India Programme would impact the entire sports ecosystem, including infrastructure, community sports, talent identification, coaching for excellence, competition structure and sports economy.

Cabinet approves Rationalization/Merger of the Government of India Press (GIPs) and their modernization 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its for rationalization/merger and modernization of 17 Government of India Presses (GIPs)/Units into 5 Government of India Presses (GIPs) at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Minto Road and Mayapuri, New Delhi; Nashik, Maharashtra and Temple Street, Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • These 5 Presses will be redeveloped and modernised by monetisation of their surplus land. Land measuring 468.08 acres of the other merged Presses will be given to Land & Development Office, Ministry of Urban Development.

Swachhta Pakhwada observed in Ministry of Coal from 16th August 2017 to 31st August 2017 
Ministry of Coal, along with its attached offices and PSUs under the administrative control of Ministry observed the Swachhta Pakwada during the fortnight from 16th August 2017 to 31st August 2017.
  • The Pakhwada was formally launched on Independence Day, 15th August 2017 by carrying out special activities to mark the beginning of Swachhta Pakhwada.
  • The highlight of the Pakhwada was large scale tree plantation program that included fruit bearing, timber, medicinal plants with the provision for maintenance and watering of plants for one year. More than 5 lakh samplings were planted in the fortnight.

New rule on out-of-turn hearings
On September 20, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra barred senior advocates from make any such urgent mention before his Bench.
  • The constitutional courts designate a lawyer as senior advocate in recognition of his or her superior professional abilities.
  • At present, Every morning, the Supreme Court Bench led by the Chief Justice of India gives leeway to lawyers who appear in cases that require an urgent hearing. Lawyers must convince the top judge, very briefly, that without an urgent hearing, the rights, even the fundamental rights, of their clients may suffer a grievous harm.
  • So, in keeping with the Supreme Court’s long tradition as a people’s court, the Chief Justices have allowed lawyers to “mention” cases for an early or out-of-turn hearing. The court uses its discretion to allow or dismiss the plea.

A ‘Boat Lab’ to study Brahmaputra
The Centre plans to safeguard the fast-eroding Majuli island — Asia’s largest riverine island — using research carried out on floating ‘B4’ boat labs along the Brahmaputra river.
  • ‘B4’ – the ‘Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat’, work on which will commence by December, will initially cover the region from Pasighat, Dibrigargh, Neemati, Tejpur and Guwahati in the state of Assam, said officials at the Department of Biotechnology. The department has set aside Rs. 50 crore as an initial investment on the project.

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) reconstituted by West Bengal government
West Bengal govt. reconstituted the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and appointed rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ( GJM) leader Binoy Tamang as its chairperson.
  • It is a significant move that may impact the ongoing agitation in the Darjeeling hills.
  • The GTA is a regional autonomous body set up after a tripartite agreement among the Centre, the State and the GJM in 2011.
  • GJM president Bimal Gurung was elected its chief executive in 2012, but he and other office-bearers resigned on June 23, 2017 when the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland State gained momentum in the hills.

Punjab okays crop loan waiver scheme
The Punjab government has given its nod to notify the crop loan waiver scheme announced by Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh in the State Assembly earlier in June this year. The state Cabinet in its meeting has decided that besides taking over the entire eligible loan amount of the farmers covered by the debt waiver scheme, the government would also take over the outstanding interest from April 1, 2017, till the date of notification.
  • The notification envisages that in case of marginal farmer (less than 2.5 acres) the entire eligible amount of those farmers who have total outstanding crop loan liability up to Rs. 2 lakh shall be provided as debt relief and in case of eligible amount of more than Rs. 2 lakh, only Rs. 2 lakh shall be provided as debt relief.
  • In case of small farmers (from 2.5 acres to less than 5 acres), the entire eligible amount of those farmers who have total outstanding crop loan liability up to Rs. 2 lakh, shall be provided as debt relief. The scheme will directly benefit nearly 10.25 lakh farmers across the State.

India’s stand on Paris deal
India reaffirmed its commitment to the landmark Paris climate change agreement, saying it was willing to “work above and beyond” the pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • During a UN ‘Leadership Summit on Environment Pact’, India had been at the forefront of the debate on environment and development.
  • Her remarks came amid uncertainty over the U.S. role in the deal after President Donald Trump in June announced that America was withdrawing from the Paris deal, arguing that it gave undue advantage to countries like India and China.

ONGC discovers oil in Arabian sea
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) has made a significant oil discovery to the west of its prime Mumbai High fields in the Arabian sea.
  • The discovery in the well WO-24-3 is estimated to hold an in-place reserve of about 20 million tones.
  • Mumbai High, India’s biggest oil field, currently produces 205,000 barrels of oil per day (just over 10 million tonnes per annum) and the new find would add to that production in less than two years time.
  • ONGC is carrying out a further appraisal of the discovery and has intimated upstream regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

India joins quantum computing race
Keen to tap into the next big advance in computing technology, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to fund a project to develop quantum computers.
  • First proposed in the 1970s, quantum computing relies on quantum physics by taking advantage of certain quantum physics properties of atoms or nuclei that allow them to work together as quantum bits, or qubits, to be the computer’s processor and memory. By interacting with each other while being isolated from the external environment, qubits can perform certain calculations exponentially faster than conventional computers.
  • A quantum computer, still largely a theoretical entity, employs the principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ instead of the typical ‘bits’ of 1 and 0.
  • Qubits work faster because of the way such circuits are designed, and their promise is that they can do intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers.

$700-billion defence bill passed by Senate
The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved the nearly $700-billion defence spending bill for 2018.
  • It seeks to develop a strategy for Indo-U.S. defence cooperation and asks Pakistan to take action against terror outfits like the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Hasina proposes ‘safe zones’ for Rohingya
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon members states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take a united stand to resolve the Rohingya issue “before it is too late” and placed a set of proposals.
  • The proposals, placed at the OIC Contact Group at the United Nations headquarters, included a call for an immediate end to atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, the creation of ‘safe zones’ in Myanmar for the protection of civilians and an immediate and unconditional implementation of the recommendations put forward by the Kofi Annan Commission.

50 nations ink UN nuclear ban treaty opposed by big powers
Fifty countries recently signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a pact that the world’s nuclear powers spurned but supporters hailed as a historic agreement nonetheless.
  • In July 2017, the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans and makes it illegal to possess, use, produce, transfer, acquire, stockpile or deploy nuclear weapons. This was the culmination of 10 years of preparation by many national and international organizations.
  • The treaty prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

Underwater ‘city’ built by octopuses
Scientists have discovered Octlantis — an underwater site built entirely by octopuses, where they communicate with each other by posturing, chasing or colour changes.
  • Researchers from the University of Illinois in the U.S. found the site in the waters off the east coast of Australia, that is the home of up to 15 gloomy octopuses. It is the second gloomy octopus settlement found in the area, and the discovery lends credence to the idea that octopuses are not necessarily loners.
  • The first gloomy octopus site was found in Jervis Bay off the east coast of Australia in 2009. The new site is located just a few hundred meters away from the first site, and has been dubbed Octlantis.

Peer-to-peer lending platforms to be treated as NBFCs
After a year or more of due-diligence, the RBI has notified that peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms need to be regulated and treated on par with non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). In a notification, the RBI has pressed the need for regulation of this segment, which is fairly nascent in India with only 10-12 small players.
  • While the final guidelines are still awaited, P2P lending platforms such as LenDen Club, Faircent, Qbera, Lendbox, Rupaiya Exchange and Monexo are a relieved lot. The players, had themselves, been asking the apex bank for regulations that would help bring credibility and trust into the business.
  • P2P lending is a form of crowd-funding used to raise loans which are paid back with interest. It can be defined as the use of an online platform that matches lenders with borrowers in order to provide unsecured loans. The borrower can either be an individual or a legal person requiring a loan.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma releases the book “Bhartiya Kala Mein Salil Kridayen Evam Sadyahsnata Nayika” 
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Culture released the book entitled “Bhartiya Kala Mein Salil Kridayen Evam Sadyahsnata Nayika” authored by Dr. Kshetrapal Gangwar and Shri Sanjib Kumar Singh at a function in National Museum. 
  • This is an Art Book based on original research, written in Hindi and published by National Museum after few decades. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Labour and Employment presided over the function.

DiCaprio declares $20 mn deal for green grants
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio has awarded $20 million in grants through his environmental foundation.
  • The actor, who founded The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, announced that the sum is to be spread across over 100 organisations committed to environmental sustainability.

BCCI recommends Padma Bhushan to Dhoni
M.S. Dhoni has been recommended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third highest civilian honour. 
  • Apart from the Padma Shri, Dhoni has received the Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.

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