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Daily Current Affairs for Aug 4 -8, 2017 ( English )

1. Israel has launched its first environmental research satellite named as Venus (Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite). It is a joint venture between the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and its French counterpart CNES. It was launched on board of Arianespace Vega launcher from the Europe. Venus satellite will be used to survey and monitor large areas to study soil, vegetation, forests, agriculture, water and air quality and other aspects of the environment. It will help to obtain high-resolution photographs of specific sites to track environmental issues such as erosion, desertificaton, pollution, natural disasters, and other phenomena linked to climate change.
2.     The Lok Sabha has passed the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by voice vote. The Bill seeks to amend the NABARD is responsible for providing and regulating facilities like credit for agricultural and industrial development in the rural areas. The key features of the bill are Increase in capital of NABARD ,  Transfer of the RBI’s share to Union government, Adds Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) terms, Adds Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) terms.
3.       Maharashtra became first state in the country to launch two online portals MahaDBT and MahaVASTU to streamline the process of direct benefit transfer (DBT) and to bring in more transparency in construction sector. Maha DBT portal  is an Aadhaar-authenticated electronic mechanism that will enable direct transfer of benefits for over 40 schemes currently implemented by state’s various departments. Maha VASTU portal  is an online building permission management system, through which construction approvals will be sanctioned with full transparency.
4.       team of researchers have discovered solar seismic waves  using ‘Helioseismology’ revealed that Sun’s core is rotating four times faster than its surface. The discovery was made using 16 years of observations from GOLF (Global Oscillations at Low Frequency) instrument on Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft, a joint project of ESA and NASA.
5.       NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered in the final year of its epic voyage after studying Saturnits rings and moons for more than 12 years. In its epic voyage, the Cassini spacecraft will make the closest-ever observations of the planet. Cassini will be mapping the Saturn’s magnetic and gravity fields with exquisite precision. It will be returning ultra-close views of the Saturn’s atmosphere. The spacecraft was launched on 15 October 1997 aboard a Titan IVB/Centaur and it had entered orbit around Saturn on 1 July 2004. On 25 December 2004, Huygens lander had separated from orbiter and landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on 14 January 2005. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system
6.     Qatar becomes first Gulf Arab state to make permanent residency available to some non-citizens by approving a draft law making permanent residency available to some non-citizens. It marks a partial shift from Qatar’s heavy reliance on its longstanding visa-sponsorship system.
7.       The Union Government has proposed to establish an additional 14 new AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Science) under various phases of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) in different parts of the country. Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was announced in 2003.
8.       Parliament has passed the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 after the Rajya Sabha approved it. The Lok Sabha has already passed it. The Bill amends the IIIT Act, 2014.The key features of the bill are Appointment of Director, Appointment of Assistant Professor and other above posts, Incorporation of an institute.
9.       India’s first private sector missile sub-systems manufacturing facility Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) plant was inaugurated near Hyderabad, Telangana. It is 51:49 joint venture between India’s Kalyani Group and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. It has been established line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative and Government’s policy to encourage private sector participation in defence production.
10.   ISRO and NASA are jointly working on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to co-develop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite by 2021. The satellite will be the world’s most expensive earth-imaging satellite till date, costing around $1.5 billion. It aims to study global environmental change and natural disasters.
11.   high level committee constituted by the Union Government headed by Justice (retired) BN Srikrishna to review the Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India has submitted its report to the Union Law Ministry.The  Union Govt is committed for speedy resolution of commercial disputes and to make India an international hub of Arbitration. So government has decided to look into the recommendations and amended laws according to need. The Key recommendations are Setting up of  Arbitration Promotion Council of India (APCI), creation of Specialist Arbitration Bench, Changes in Arbitration and Conciliation Act and National Litigation Policy (NLP)
12.   The Union Government is going to launch AGRI-UDAAN Food and Agribusiness Accelerator 2.0 programme in an attempt to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture. The programme will help convert innovative ideas from India’s rural youth into viable businesses startups and help them connect with potential investors.
13.   India has signed a loan agreement with China led-Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for financing of $329 million for Gujarat Rural Roads Project (GRRP).  The objective of the GRRP is to improve the rural road connectivity and accessibility by providing all weather road connectivity to 1,060 villages in all the 33 districts of Gujarat, benefiting about 80 lakh people.
14.   The ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) and CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have signed MoU to make indigenous regional positioning system-NavIC independent from the US clock system. Until now, the satellites on NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) managed by the ISRO relied on the US GPS to ensure that the clocks aboard were working at the high-precision required in satellite-based communication.
15.   The Union Finance Ministry has launched second exchange-traded fund (ETF), named Bharat 22. It will help to speed up Government’s disinvestment programme budgeted to raise a record Rs 72,500 crore in the FY 2018. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds in a certain manner but are more liquid as they can be sold quickly on stock exchanges like shares.
16.   The Indian Railways has signed its first EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contract with Larsen and Turbo (L&T) for electrification of railway lines.
17.   The Union Government has appointed economist Rajiv Kumar as the new vice-chairman of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. He will hold cabinet minister rank.Government also appointed Vinod Paul, head of the Pediatrics department at AIIMS as a member of the NITI Aayog
18.   Former union minister Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu (68) was elected as 13th Vice President of India. He will succeed Hamid Ansari, M. Venkaiah Naidu emerged victorious by winning 516 votes, whereas opposition nominee Gopalkrishna Gandhi has secured 244 votes. Over 98% voting was recorded in the 2017 vice-presidential election. 98.21% polling was registered for the election with 771 out of 785 MPs casting their vote, 11 votes were found to be invalid. 381 votes was the quota set to win the polls.
19.   The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed S. Aparna (senior IAS officer from Gujarat ) as Executive Director of the World Bank. She will represent the constituency of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for three years. She will replace Subhash Garg, who was recently appointed Economic Affairs Secretary, Union Ministry of Finance.
20.   August 7 - National Handloom Day celebrated every year since 2015 to highlight the contribution of handloom to the socioeconomic development of the country and promote handlooms to increase income of weavers and also enhance their pride. The date August 7 was chosen to commemorate the Swadeshi Movement which was launched on this date in 1905 in the Calcutta Town hall to protest against partition of Bengal by the British Government.
21.   Astronomer’s have found that exoplanet WASP-121b which provides strongest evidence about existence of a stratosphere using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The WASP-121b exoplanet is gas giant commonly referred to as a ‘hot Jupiter’.
22.   An all-women team of researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed a new drug delivery platform using nanoparticles which has the ability to boost the efficacy of antibiotics at the cellular level and improve chances of recovery from cancer-related bacterial infections.
23.   Research conducted on Cycas pschannae, a lone tree found in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic GardenWest Bengal has revealed two new species of Cycas to the world. This discovery takes the total number of Cycas species found in India to 14. The  two species were Cycas pschannae and  Cycas dharmrajii.
24.   Researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru have developed a highly sensitive, low cost nanometre-scale carbon monoxide (CO) sensor using novel fabrication technique with potential applications in environmental pollution monitoring..The nanometer-sized sensor was made using zinc-oxide (ZnO) nanostructure on a silicon wafer substrate. Tiny polystyrene beads were also used on the wafer. The nanometre-scale CO sensor is able to detect a difference in CO level as low as 500 parts per billion (ppb).
25.   India has called for expanding the areas of cooperation among the member countries of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) bloc at 8th Mekong Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting held in Manila, Philippines. India and member states agreed to look forward to sustain this progress in the years to come and in further deepening our mutually beneficial partners. MGC countries have proposed to add newer areas of cooperation to the traditional areas on tourism, culture, education, transport and communication to further deepen mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.
26.   The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the second phase of measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign  in 8 states and union territories namely Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years to reduce measles morbidity and mortality.
27.   India and Iran have expressed commitment for early completion and operationalisation of Chabahar Port besides strengthening bilateral ties. The Chabahar port, intended to provide an alternative route for trade between India and Afghanistan, by bypassing Pakistan. It will also ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan which will lead to better economic ties between them.
28.   The Union Home Ministry has declared entire Assam state as a disturbed area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for one more month, citing various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others. The Home Ministry also declared 20 km belt along Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) as disturbed under the AFSPA for two more months.
29.   Justice Dipak Misra (63), senior-most judge of the Supreme Court has appointed as the next Chief Justice of India by the President  of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind He will be  45th CJI and succeeds Justice JS Khehar. He will have tenure of over 13 months till October 2018.

30.The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG) has decided to help the Maharashtra Government to raise $270 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The amount raised will be invested in state government’s integrated watershed programmes such as Jalyukt Shivar Yojana .

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