1. The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry released the Core sector growth has hit six-month high in September 2017 according to the index of eight core industries. The core industries comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement, and electricity was up 5.2% in September 2017 compared with 4.4% in August 2017 and 5.3% in September 2016. Besides, August 2017 core sector growth was revised downwards from 4.9%.
2. The acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters (NUHs) worth Rs 21,738 crore for Indian Navy was accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It is first proposal under strategic partnership model to get approval which is considered as a major boost to defence manufacturing in country. AoN is first step of procurement of an defence equipment. After DAC gives AoN, request for proposal can be issued to firms, seeking their responses with technical and commercial bids. Before this step, Indian Navy had issued a request for information (RFI) for procurement of 111 NUHs.
3. India has jumped over 30 ranks to attain 100th spot from 130th position in 2017 Ease of Doing Business Index. World Bank has recently released Doing Business (DB) Report 2018 titled as ‘Doing Business 2018: Reforming to Create Jobs’, India leapfrogged to 100th among 190 countries. India is only country in South Asia and BRICS economies to feature among most improved economies of the DB Report this year. In South Asia region, India was top improver, but was ranked below Bhutan (75). Nepal (105), Sri Lanka (111), Maldives (136), Pakistan (147), Bangladesh (177) and Afghanistan (183) were ranked below India. The Ease of Doing Business Index assesses 190 economies and covers 10 indicators which span the lifecycle of a business. These 10 indicators are: Starting a business, Dealing with construction permits, Getting electricity, Registering property, Getting credit, Protecting minority investors, Paying taxes, Trading across borders, Enforcing contracts and Resolving insolvency. Each one of these indicators carries equal weight age. India’s score also increased from 56.05 in 2017 to 60.76 in Doing Business 2018.
4. Global Clubfoot Conference organised by CURE India in partnership with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi. It is one of the most common orthopedic birth defects where one or both feet are rotated inwards and downwards. They are unknown (idiopathic), but it may be combination of genetics and environment.It causes foot deformity, abnormality walking, callus, knock knees, or shortened legs. It can cause permanent disability if not treated early. Ponseti method is initially used which involves moving foot into an improved position followed by casting, which is repeated at weekly intervals. 500 doctors from20 countries and 29 Indian states are attended the conference.
5. SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) is planning to bring Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) under its existing legal framework. In recent times, popularity of crypto currencies has increased rapidly and number of entities looking at raising funds through ICO. ICO is an unregulated means of crowd funding for project via use of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, DASH, Litecoin, Z-cash etc. Unlike an IPO, which is governed by SEBI regulations, there is no regulator for this kind of crowd sourcing in India. China’s Central Bank recently had banned ICO as dubbed it as an illegal public finance mechanism used for issue of securities and money laundering. Crypto Currencies or Virtual Currencies are type of unregulated digital money. They are mainly peer-to-peer system, and transacted between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in public distributed ledger called blockchain. It is used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community. They are being transferred, stored or traded electronically. They are neither issued by central bank/public authority, nor is necessarily attached to fiat currency.
6. The introduction of National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament to amend National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act,1993 was approved by the Union Cabinet. The amendment seeks to grant retrospective recognition to Central/State/Universities who are found to be conducting teacher education courses without NCTE permission till academic year 2017-2018. Henceforth, all institutions running teacher education courses such as B.Ed and D.El.Ed have to obtain recognition from NCTE under section 14 of NCTE Act. Further, courses of such recognized institutions/universities must be permitted under section 15 of NCTE Act. The amendment will make students studying in these Institutions/Universities or those who have already passed out from here eligible for employment as teacher.
7. The implementation of Special Banking Arrangement (SBA) for Rs. 10,000 crore for payment of outstanding claims on account of fertilizer subsidy in year 2016-17. Government is making available fertilizers, namely 21 grades of P&K fertilizers and Urea to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers and importers. CCEA chaired by Prime Minster Narendra Modi also approved that in future, Department of Fertilizers will avail SBA with concurrence of Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
8. INDRA-2017(The Joint Indo-Russia Tri-Services Exercise) was successfully conducted from 19 to 29 October 2017 at Vladivostok, Russia. It was first time Russia has hosted Tri-Services Exercise on its soil. The theme of INDRA-2017 Exercise was ‘Preparation and Conduct of Operations by Joint Force for Suppression of International Terror Activity at the request of a host country under UN mandate’. It was India’s first joint tri-services exercise and also first between Russia and India. The army exercise tasks involved check point defence and humanitarian convoy escort in back drop of threat from armed groups. Naval tasks comprised Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations besides Joint Air Defence, Force Protection Measures and Anti-mining Operations. The bilateral INDRA exercise was annually conducted by India and Russia since 2003. The name of the exercise INDRA has been derived from INDia and RussiA. Since 2003, 17 such service specific exercises with Russian defence forces have been conducted.
9. A nationwide science talent search examination (Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan (VVM)) , unique initiative to give a boost to learning of science, technology and mathematics among youth-especially the school students is going to held on 26th Nov 2017. It will provide platform to India’s generation next to imbibe values of science and technology (S&T) for better future. The exam has been organized by eminent scientists and academicians associated with Vigyan Prasar (VP), an autonomous organisation under Department of Science and Technology and National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), Ministry of Human Resources and Development (HRD).
10. An earthquake-proof fibre-reinforced concrete that can dramatically enhance the earthquake resistance of seismically vulnerable structures was developed by the Researchers from University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada. The material is made of eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC) which combines cement with polymer-based fibres, flyash and other industrialadditives, making it highly sustainable.
11. The Union Cabinet approved signing and ratifying agreement between India and Armenia on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters. The Agreement will help in availability of relevant information for prevention and investigation of Customs offences. It is also expected to facilitate trade and ensure efficient clearance of goods traded between countries.
12. Rashtriya Krishi VikasYojana (RKVY) was launched during 2007-08 to achieve 4% annual growth in agricultural sector by ensuring holistic development. The scheme was under implementation from XI Five Year Plan. The CCEA has approved continuation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) as Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana- Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR) for three years i.e. 2017-18 to 2019-20. It aims to make farming remunerative economic activity by strengthening farmer’s effort, risk mitigation and promoting agribusiness entrepreneurship.
13. Integrated Quarter Master Package (IQMP) software application for automating various logistics related functions of an Army Unit was launched formally by the Indian Army. IQMP is web based software developed by Army Software Development Centre in association with TCS Ltd. It will replace numerous legacy applications such as ‘Vastra’ and ‘Quarter Master Package’. It will also play an important role in achieving automation of Indian Army and play important role towards ‘Digital Army’ in consonance with Government’s ‘Digital India Initiative’.14.The second edition of the joint military training exercise “PRABAL DOSTYK – 2017” between India and Kazakhstan began at Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh. ‘Prabal Dostyk’ means ‘Robust Friendship’. The first edition of exercise was held in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan in September 2016. The fourteen day joint training aims to build and promote bilateral army-to-army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Kazakhstan and the Indian Army. It also aims at enhancing military ties between two countries for achieving interoperability between two armies.