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Daily Current Affairs from Aug 9-14, 2018 (English)

Important Days:
1.     Aug 8 - 76th anniversary of Quit India movement was observed this year. On this day in 1942, Mahatma Gandhi (father of the nation) had gave clarion call of Do or Die to all Indians to drive away Britishers from the country.
2.     Aug 10 – World Bio Fuel day is observed every year to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels i.e. Green Fuels or Bio-fuels an alternative to conventional fossil fuels. On this day in 1893, Sir Rudalph Diesel (inventor of the diesel engine) for the first time successfully ran mechanical engine with Peanut Oil.
3.     Aug 12- International Youth Day is observed every across the world  to draw attention to give set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The theme for this year is ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’. 
4.     Aug 12 - The World Elephant Day is observed every year to create awareness of urgent plight of African and Asian elephants. In India, cultural event Gaj Mahotsav was organised by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on this occasion of this day. The first International Elephant Day was held on August 12, 2012.
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1.     To boost research in traditional medicine and streamline hospital care facilities in the country a MoU with IIT Delhi has been signed by All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), a premier institute of Ayurveda under the AYUSH Ministry. Under this partnership, projects developed will be given scientific validation to ancient medical science and integrate it with technology. Under it, the faculties of IIT Delhi and AIIA will work together in projects to look at ways to integrate technology with Ayurveda.
2.     Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve in Himalayan state of Sikkim becomes the 11th Biosphere Reserve from India. It was included in UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). It is one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1, 220 metres above sea-level. It includes range of ecolines, varying from sub-tropic to Arctic (tundra), as well as natural forests in different biomes, that support an immensely rich diversity of forest types and habitats.
3.     Delhi High Court has declared 25 sections of Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 which have been extended to Delhi, as “unconstitutional”. The court’s order came on PILs which had sought decriminalisation of begging in capital and beggar by challenging provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act.
4.     Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has passed by Parliament to replace Ordinance promulgated by President in May 2018. The Bill amends 1973 Act to provide for supersession of Central Council with effect from May 18, 2018. The Council will be reconstituted within 1 year.
5.     Union Cabinet has approved the extension of term of Commission till November 2018 to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central List. The five member Commission headed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice (Retd) G. Rohini was constituted under article 340 of Constitution in October, 2017 with approval of President.  
6.     Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017 has passed by Lok Sabha by voice vote to extend the facility of ‘proxy voting’ to overseas Indians, on the lines of service voters. The Bill seeks to amend Representation of People Act (RPA), 1950 and Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951 to allow for proxy voting and make certain provisions of these Acts gender-neutral. The Bill replaces the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in both Acts. It replaces wife with spouse of a person holding service qualification to vote. It amends RPA, 1951 to permit overseas voter to cast their vote in person or by proxy in constituency where elections are being conducted.
7.     Union Cabinet has given approval for raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The objective of raising four additional battalions is to reduce response time keeping in view vast geographic area of the country. These four battalions will initially be raised as two battalions in Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and one battalion each in Assam Rifles (ARs) and Border Security Force (BSF). Later these four battalions will be converted into NDRF battalions.
8.     Under Price Support Schemes (PSS), the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved release of pulses to States/UTs at discounted rate to be utilized for various Welfare Schemes. Under this approved Scheme, States/UT Governments will be offered to lift 34.88 lakh MT of pulses at discounted rate over prevailing wholesale market price of sourcing state on first come first serve basis. Government will spend Rs. 5,237 crore for implementation of this Scheme.
9.     The continuation and revision of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Post Matric Scholarship for Other Backward Classes Students for studying in India (PMS-OBC) has approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). The revision in PMS-OBC scheme aims to ensure effective implementation and better monitoring of the schemes. Under revised PMS-OBC, annual parental income ceiling has been increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh. Now onwards, 30% of funds will be earmarked for girl students and 5% for students with disabilities. Disbursement of scholarships will be now through Aadhaar seeded bank accounts.
10.             The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to bring relief to home buyers and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has passed by Parliament. The Bill recognises home buyers as financial creditors in the real estate project and giving them due representation in the Committee of Creditors (CoC), thus providing significant relief to home buyers. 
11.             The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to help India become hub for domestic and global arbitration for settling commercial disputes has passed by the Lok Sabha. The Bill establishes ACI as an independent body for promotion of arbitration, mediation, conciliation and other alternative dispute redressal mechanisms. It seeks to amend e Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which contains provisions to deal with domestic and international arbitration and defines law for conducting conciliation proceedings.
12.            Operation Madad, - a major rescue and relief operation in flood-hit Kerala has launched by Indian Navy. Indian Army also has launched Operation Sahyog to rescue people in flood-hit Kerala. Both operations will support rescue and relief efforts of civil administration and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF). The Operation  Madad was launched to assist state administration and undertake disaster relief operations due to unprecedented flooding in many parts of Kerala following incessant rainfall and release of excess water from Idukki and other dams. Operation Sahyog - Indian Army has deployed its men and machinery into disaster relief and rescue operations at Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Idukki after incessant rain and landslides hit various northern districts of the state. Karnataka and Kerala Sub area Headquartered at Bangalore was controlling the “Operation Sahyog” in Kerala.
13.            Union Government aims to create more employment opportunities for women and announced 50% reservation for women in upcoming recruitment of 9500-10000 jawans for the Railway Protection Force (RPF). It was announced by Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal in Patna, Bihar. He also announced 13,00,00 jobs are also coming up in Indian Railways in which there will be computer-based test and no interviews.
14.             Under Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas in Sri Lanka, India has handed over its first lot of houses (404 houses)  built for Indian-origin people in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas at Dunsinane Estate in Nuwara Eliya city. Under this project close to 47,000 houses so far have been completed out of total 60,000. With grant of over US $350 million, it is India’s largest assistance project in any country.
15.            Union Civil Aviation Ministry has given in-principle approval to set up water aerodromes in the country. To start with it has identified five states: Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Assam for development of water aerodromes. In the first phase of the project, Chilka Lake (Odisha), Sabarmati River Front and Sardar Sarovar Dam (Gujarat) have been identified for the development of such facilities.
16.             Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified rules for utilisation of more than Rs 66,000 crore afforestation funds by states/UTs and for setting up authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation. The fund is accumulated amount which user agencies have been depositing as compensation for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes such as setting up industries or creating infrastructure, over the past 10 years.
17.             Pune (Maharashtra) ranked first among 116 cities (with population of 1 million plus) in Ease of Living Index released by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA). Besides, two more Maharashtra cities — Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — figure in the second and third spots respectively. Chennai ranked 14th rank, Ahmedabad 23rd, Hyderabad 27th, Varanasi 33rd, Bengaluru 58th and Delhi 65th.Top 10 cities are (rank order) are Pune, Navi Mumbai, Greater Mumbai, Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijaywada and Bhopal. Rampur in Uttar Pradesh was ranked worst on the scale and also Kohima and Patna on bottom two and three ranks while. Kolkata was excluded from index, as West Bengal Government had refused to participate in rankings.
18.            Third Party Survey Report on Station Cleanliness was released by the Union Railway Ministry. It ranked 407 railway stations including 75 A1 category stations, 332 A category stations on basis of cleanliness performance. Jodhpur (Rajasthan) was ranked first in survey A1 category stations, Marwar (Rajasthan) first in A category stations and North Western Railway first among all Zonal Railways. This was third such audit cum cleanliness survey conducted by Indian Railways to increase level of cleanliness under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by identifying unclean spots, improve cleanliness standards and propel healthy competition among railway stations.

1.     Pakistan and Russia have signed contract on admission of service members of Pakistan in Russia’s Military Training Institutes at the conclusion of first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) held in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This agreement is considered as sign of further strengthening defence ties between Russia and Paksitan. This will be for first time, Pakistani soldiers will undergo training at Russian military institutes.
Science and Technology:
1.     The Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has released the Digital North East Vision 2022 in Guwahati, Assam. First electronics manufacturing cluster in northeastern region was also inaugurated in Guwahati, Assam. The vision document emphasizes on leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of north east and enhance ease of living. It identifies eight digital thrust areas namely, Digital Infrastructure, Digital services, Promotion of Electronics Manufacturing, Digital empowerment, Promotion of IT and ITes including BPOs, Digital Payments, Innovation & Startups and Cyber security.
1.     Fateh Mobin (Bright Conqueror) –the next generation short-range ballistic missile capable of striking targets on land and sea has unveiled by Iran. Fateh-110 missile is 100% domestically made in Iran. It was unveiled as part of Iran’s thrust to further boost its defence capabilities at time of rising tensions with United States.
2.     Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved procurement of six indigenously designed and manufactured Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPVs) for Indian Navy. NGOPVs will be built in indigenous shipyards at approximate cost of Rs. 4941 crore. They will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensor suite with increased endurance. These platforms will strengthen maritime security by undertaking a multitude of operational roles both in blue water and littorals.

First in state/India/International:
1.     Iris Scan Authentication feature for Aadhaar-based transactions through its micro ATM tablets has been introduced in the country by Axis Bank. Thus it becomes the first bank in the country to introduce this facility. Axis Bank is presently running pilot program of iris-based Aadhaar authentication for its customers at eight branches in rural segment largely covering areas of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
2.     India’s first all-woman Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for anti-terrorist operations has inducted by Delhi Police. The all-woman SWAT team is the brainchild of Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. It comprises 36 women commandos from northeastern states (13 members from Assam, 5 from Arunachal Pradesh, 5 from Sikkim, 5 from Manipur, 4 from Meghalaya, 2 from Nagaland and 1 from Mizoram and Tripura each). The all-woman SWAT team was inducted after rigorous training of around 15 months from specialists all across India and abroad. They have undergone training to handle urban situations as well as jungle operations.
3.     India’s first genetic resource bank - National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank was inaugurated at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology’s (CCMB) Laboratory of Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) facility in Hyderabad, Telanagana. The genetic material will be stored here for posterity which will further the cause of conservation of endangered and protected animals.
1.     To decide on 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, a four-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu has constituted by Union Government. It was constituted to advise Prime Minister on whether to continue with or withdraw from RCEP negotiations.
2.     Multi Option Payment Acceptance Device (MOPAD) for digital payments convenience of merchants and consumers has launched by SBI on all SBI PoS terminals in a phased manner. It will allow customers to make payments through cards, Bharat QR, UPI and SBI Buddy (e-wallet) on single Point–of–Sale (PoS) terminal. It will help merchants to integrate different kinds of transaction through one PoS machine, which will help in eliminate their operational inconvenience and streamline cash flow. This multipurpose initiative will also enhance digital ecosystem and help bank in driving economy towards a less-cash society.
3.     A MoU on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was signed during Government and Business Partnership Conclave held in New Delhi by NITI Aayog and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). This partnership focuses on specific activities that seek to develop vision and action agenda for businesses and industries to contribute to SDGs, annual status reports and sector-specific best practise documents.
4.     Niryat Mitra mobile application for exporters and importers of the country has launched by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The app provides wide range of information required to undertake international trade right from policy provisions for export and import, applicable GST rate, available export incentives, tariff, preferential tariff, market access requirements – SPS and TBT measures. The app developed by Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the largest exporters organisation of the country. Presently, app has data of 87 countries. It is available both on Android and on IOS platforms.
5.     The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has transferred surplus (dividend) of Rs. 50,000 crore to Government for year ended in June 2018, over 63% more than Rs 30,659 crore which it transferred in 2017. Earlier in 2017, RBI had slashed surplus in the wake of demonetisation as its expenditure shot up largely because of sharp rise in provisions and cost of printing currency notes.
6.     The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its report has projected India’s GDP growth 7.3% in the 2018-19 fiscal and 7.5% in 2019-2020. Current account deficit (CAD) is projected to widen further to 2.6% of GDP on rising oil prices and strong demand for imports.
7.     The factory output measured in terms of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had 7% in June 2018 ie. five month high according to the data released by Central Statistics Office (CSO). This was on account of higher output in mining, manufacturing and power generation segments. 
1.     Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to be continued beyond 12th Five Year Plan period ((2012–2017)). For this, fund sharing pattern between centre and states will be same (Thus, central government share will be Rs 54,900 crore and states’ share is Rs 30,034 crore. Initially targets of PMGSY were to be achieved by March 2022, however, sunset date of achievement of PMGSY-I was pre-poned to March, 2019, with enhanced fund allocation and changed funding pattern.

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Appointments/ Resignations:
1.     Chartered Accountant Swaminathan Gurumurthy and businessman Satish Kashinath Marathe have been appointed as another non-official director on Central Board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for a period of 4 years. It has been approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). RBI’s business is overseen by Central Board of Directors. It comprises RBI Governor, Deputy Governors (maximum 4), four non-official Directors which are nominated by Central Government (each Non-official director represents the local Boards located in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai representing 4 regions of India). 10 Non-official Directors nominated by RBI itself (These are persons having expertise in various segments of Indian Economy). Besides, there is one representative (usually Financial Services Secretary) of Central Government nominated under Section 8 (1) (d) of the RBI Act. 
2.     Rekha Sharma (54) was appointed as chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW). It is apex national level organization of India the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women.
3.     Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet (66) was appointed as next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was nominated by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and her appointment was approved by UN General Assembly.
4.     Justice Manjula Chellur took oath as Chairperson of Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE), Ministry of Power. She has been appointed for a period of 3 years or until further orders, whichever is earlier. 
5.     Senior bureaucrat Ashish Kumar Bhutani was appointed as  the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) by the Government of India. PMFBY  is farmers’ welfare scheme launched in 2016 to ensure faster insurance services or reliefs to farmers. It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) by incorporating their best features and removing their inherent drawbacks (shortcomings).

1.      Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee (89) passed away following multi-organ failure in Kolkata, West Bengal. He was Speaker of Lok Sabha (House of the People) in first five-year term (2004-2009) of United Progressive Alliance Government. He was born in 1929 in Tezpur, Assam.

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