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Daily Current Affairs for 26th & 27th April 2018 ( English)

1.       The increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Raw Jute for 2018-19 season was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The increased MSP was based on recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) which had taken into account cost of production, overall demand-supply, domestic and international prices before recommending MSP for Raw Jute. MSP is form of agricultural market intervention undertaken by Central Government in order to insure agricultural producers are protected against any sharp fall in farm prices. It is announced for certain crops by Central Government prior to sowing season. The MSP for Fair Average Quality (FAQ) of Raw Jute was increased to Rs.3700 per quintal for 2018-19 season from Rs. 3500 per quintal in 2017-18 season.
2.       A MoU was signed between National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on technical knowledge sharing for establishing nationwide Time Stamping and Time Synchronization network (TSTSN) and traceability of Time signal to UTC NPL Time. The establishment and implementation of pan India TSTSN across Indian Telecom Network will eliminate problem of Time Synchronization among TSP/ISPs. This will lead to better efficiency of Telecom Network and reduce Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) call drop, improve Quality of Service of network, Voice, Video. It will help to curb cybercrimes and also help to identify and correlate various digital financial transactions.
3.       Under National Biopharma Mission, the Union Government has entered into agreement with World Bank for flexible financing arrangement to accelerate research towards early development for biopharmaceuticals. It aims to make India hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products such as vaccines, biologics and medical devices for combating public health concerns. The mission was launched by Ministry of Science & Technology in 2017 at total cost of US $250 million for five years with 50% funding through World Bank Loan.
4.       The Union Cabinet has given approval inclusion of certain areas in Rajasthan under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. he areas to be included comprises three complete districts Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh, nine tehsils, one block and 46 complete gram panchayats covering 227 villages in Udaipur, Rajsamand, Chittorgarh, Pali and Sirohi districts of Rajasthan.
5.       A MoU signed between India and Sao Tome and Principe for Cooperation in field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy was approved by the Union Cabinet. The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation between two countries in areas of Traditional Systems of Medicine.
6.       The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved restructured National Bamboo Mission (NBM), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) during remaining period of 14th Finance Commission (2018-20) with an outlay of Rs. 1290 crore. The restructured mission will ensure holistic development of bamboo sector by addressing complete value chain and establish effective linkage of producers (farmers) with industry.
7.       The renewal of long-term agreements (LTAs) for export of iron ore (lumps and fines) of grade +64% Fe content to Japan and South Korea for another five years (2018 to 2023) through state-owned trading firm MMTC has approved by Union Cabinet. Export of iron ore under LTAs will help India to strengthen its bilateral ties with long-standing partner countries, Japan and South Korea by securing export market and result in inflow of foreign exchange.
8.       The Union Human Resource Development Ministry launched the second edition of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan in New Delhi. Under the program, students from 750 higher educational institutions from across the country will adopt nearby villages and visit them to get acquainted with the regular lifestyle of village people and the problems faced by them in their day to day life. The main objective of the program is to enable higher education institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable development in rural areas.
9.       Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has granted First Licence to Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for Liquid Chlorine on all India basis as per Indian Standard (IS) 646:1986. This is the First Licence granted on All India basis. The licence has been made operative with effect from April 2018 for a period of one year. Liquid Chlorine is in liquid form and stored in metal containers. It is usually used as gas obtained by evaporating liquid from metal container.
10.  The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi launched the Van Dhan Scheme of Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED during the celebrations of Ambedkar Jayanti at Bijapur, Chattisgarh. While speaking at the launch, the Prime Minister said that the Van Dhan scheme along with others like Jan Dhan and Gobar-Dhan schemes had the potential to change the tribal-rural economic system. Hence, he stated that all the three schemes need to be promoted by the state governments.
11.   The state government of Meghalaya on April 26, 2018 installed a software at Shillong district jail to integrate information about its inmates, as a part of its initiative to modernise correctional homes in the state. The e-prisons software, developed by the Union government, aims to keep a tab on prisoners of all states. It is a significant step towards digitization and modernization of prisons.It will digitize the jail records and ensure transparency and accountability in the system. It will be implemented in all the correctional facilities across the state.
12.  Vistara has become the third Indian carrier to be a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of more than 280 airlines. The move will help the airlines to provide a seamless travel experience through an extended global network of travelers to and from India. The two other Indian carriers that are IATA members include Air India and Jet Airways. The IATA advocates for the interests of airlines across the globe, establishes standards to simplify process and increase passenger convenience, and helps airlines to operate safely, efficiently and economically.
13.   The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched seed import-export portal to facilitate export-import of seeds and planting material. It has been developed for making trade process easy. With the launch of this portal, all organisations importing-exporting seeds will not be required to submit their applications in 20 copies. The import export of seeds and planting material is controlled under Import Export Policy 2002-2007.
14.   India was placed at 138th rank out of 180 nations surveyed worldwide in terms of press freedom in 2018in recently released World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) 2018 by Reporters Without Borders. It was ranked at the 135th in WPFI 2017.
15.   The 23rd meeting of Western Zonal Council was held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat under the chairmanship of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. The meeting was attended by chief ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat, ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, administrator of UTs of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and senior officers from Central and state governments

1.     The United States has urged Taliban to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens. Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan stated that it is time for the Taliban to participate in the country's electoral process. He said, more violence will not bring peace and security to Afghanistan. He further stated that the US supports the Afghan security forces who are standing against the Taliban and terrorist groups that seek to destroy the Afghan society.
2.     The first-ever informal meet between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping began on April 27, 2018 at Hubei Provincial Museum, in the city of Wuhan in China. The two-day meet is expected to see the two leaders exchange a series of one-on-one conversations on various issues including bilateral, global and regional issues. The leaders are expected to review the developments in their bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.
3.     In a historic first, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27, 2018 crossed the border that separates the two Koreas at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to enter South Korea, becoming the first North Korean leader to step into South Korean territory since 1953.The highest-level encounter is only the third of its kind since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. It took place as a part of the historic Inter Korean summit that began in the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone.
4.     The Central Bank of Myanmar announced on April 27, 2018 will introduce quarter tical gold coins with new design to meet high demand. The portrait of late national hero and Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar General Aung San is engraved on the new coin. He was the father of Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. The Central Bank of Myanmar has been issuing quality tical, half tical and quarter tical gold coins since 1991 with images of a ploughing farmer and an elephant hauling a log being depicted on them.
5.     The Trump administration announced on April 27,2018 that it would be terminating the temporary protection status (TPS) that was earlier granted to the Nepalese people. The decision is expected to affect over 8,950 people, 85 percent of whom live in New York. All of these people from Nepal would either have to go back to Nepal or face deportation. However, to allow for an orderly transition, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M Nielsen has determined to delay the termination for 12 months. The designation will now terminate on June 24, 2019. The TPS is a designation afforded to nationals of countries experiencing humanitarian crisis such as violent conflict, environmental disasters, earthquake or epidemics that would prevent nationals from returning safely.
6.     Atal New India Challenge under Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was launched by NITI Aayog with aim to bring-in innovations and technologies relevant to the people. For this initiative, AIM has partnered with Ministries of Housing and Urban Affairs, Road Transport and Highways, Agriculture and Family Welfare, Drinking Water & Sanitation and Railway Board. This initiative will focus on efforts towards solving problems in core areas, which would have direct impact on improving lives of citizens and also generate employment.
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Science & Technology/ Defence:
1.       HARIMAU SHAKTI 2018- a Bilateral joint training exercise between India and Malaysia will be conducted as part of ongoing defence cooperation between both the dense forests of Sengai Perdik, Hulu Langat, Malaysia from 30 April 18 to 13 May 2018. This is the first instance wherein a joint training exercise of this magnitude involving Indian and Malaysian soldiers is being organized on Malaysian. Soil. In this bilateral military exercise, Indian contingent is being represented by 4 GRENADIERS, one of the oldest infantry battalions having rich operational experience in conventional as well as counter insurgency warfare. Malaysian contingent is being represented by soldiers from 1 Royal Ranjer Regiment and Royal Malay Regiment, known for their experience in Jungle Warfare. The exercise aims at bolstering cooperation and coordination between armed forces of both nations. It also seeks to share expertise of both contingents in conduct of counter insurgency operations in jungle terrain.
2.       The Indian Navy has inducted Landing Craft Utility (LCU) INLCU L53 at Port Blair. LCU L53 MK-IV ship is amphibious ship with displacement of 830 Tons and can sail through sea at speed of 15kt. It is capable of carrying 160 troops and transporting 145 tons of military equipment including combat equipment such as Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Arjun, T72 and other Armoured Vehicles. LCU L53 is the third ship in series of eight Mark IV LCU vessels built and designed by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata for Navy. The first ship of the series was commissioned in 2016. The ship will based in Andaman and Nicobar Command and will help Indian Navy in carrying out multi-role activities, such as beaching operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), search and rescue and supply and replenishment of distant islands.
3.       Fejervarya goemchi - a new species of frog have identified in the highland plateaus of the Western Ghats parts of Goa. It has been named after state of Goa where the species is discovered.
4.       Bhabha Kavach, a next-generation bulletproof jacket that is cheaper, lightweight has developed by the Bhabha Atomic Reseach Centre (BARC), The jacket was developed at BARC’s Trombay centre in Mumbai in response to request from Ministry of Home Affairs and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). It has been named after Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, father of Indian nuclear programme. Bhabha Kavach is made of boron carbide and carbon nanotube polymer composite and weighs just 6.6 kg. The materials used in it reduce weight by nearly 50% as compared to presently used heavy steel-armoured jackets that weigh between 10kg to 17kg. It has passed over 30 tests carried out by certified agencies. These materials have been indigenously developed at BARC and are spin-off from nuclear technology.
1.     Government has collected Rs 7 lakh 41 thousand crore from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) during 2017-18. The tax system was rolled from July 1, 2017. According to an official statement from the Finance Ministry, the total revenue collected under GST in the period between August 2017 and March 2018 has been Rs 7 lakh 19 thousand crore.The amount included Rs 1 lakh 19 thousand crore of CGST, Rs 1 lakh 72 thousand crore of SGST, Rs 3 lakh 66 thousand crore of IGST and over Rs 62 thousand crore of cess. According to the ministry, the average monthly collection for the past eight months was over Rs 89 thousand crore. 
1.     The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has recommended former Indian skipper Rahul Dravid’s name for the prestigious Dronacharya award and Virat Kohli’s for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna honour. The board has also recommended veteran cricketer Sunil Gavaskar's name for the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award. The contribution of all the three nominees to cricket has been phenomenal. While Virat Kohli has led the Indian men’s cricket team from the front for quite some time now, Gavaskar's contribution to the sport has been tremendous and almost unmatchable and Dravid, besides being popularly known as ‘the Wall’, coached India’s U-19 team to World Cup victory in early 2018.
2.     The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was on April 26, 2018 awarded the National Intellectual Property Award, 2018 for being the top research and development organisation for patents and commercialization. The award was conferred by Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, at a function organised by the Indian Intellectual Property Office and Confederation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (CII) in New Delhi, to celebrate the World Intellectual Property Day. The Director-General of CSIR, Girish Sahni, received the award on behalf of CSIR.
Appointments/ Resignations:
1.       Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra was sworn in as Judge of Supreme Court of India. She became first woman Judge to be elevated directly from the Bar. Her appointment raises total tally of SC judges to 25 from sanctioned strengthened of 31 (including CJI). She was administered oath to the office by Chief Justice (CJI) Dipak Misra. Indu Malhotra is reputed senior advocate practising in SC for the past 30 years. Overall, she will be seventh woman judge in SC, since it was established 67 years ago. In 1989, Justice M. Fathima Beevi became first woman judge in Supreme Court.
2.     United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Christine Schraner Burgener, a Swiss diplomat with conflict resolution experience in Southeast Asia, as his special envoy for Myanmar. The position had been vacant ever since Indian diplomat Vijay Nambiar vacated it at the end of 2016 when Ban ki-Moon completed his term as UN head.
3.Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo was sworn in as America's 70th Secretary of State, after the US Senate confirmed his nomination by 57-42 votes on April 26, 2018.

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