|71.||Sunil Arora appointed Election Commissioner|
The Union Government has appointed former Information and Broadcasting secretary Sunil Arora (61) as Election Commissioner.
He will have tenure of four years in the Election Commission. His appointment comes to fill the vacancy created by former CEC Nasim Zaidi’s retirement in July 2017.
Sunil Arora is 1980-batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre. He had retired in April 2016 as Information and Broadcasting secretary. Prior to this, he was skill development secretary. He has also worked in ministries and departments such as Finance, Textiles and Planning Commission and also has served as CMD of Indian Airlines for five years. In his home state, he had served as principal secretary of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje from 2005 to 2008.
Election commission is multi member body and currently has three members including Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). They all are appointed by the President for a term which is fixed by the President.
Tenure: The service conditions and tenure of office of CEC and Election Commissioners are determined by Act of parliament titled The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Act, 1991. This act has fixed their term for 6 years or till age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
Power/salary: The CEC and election commissioners have equal power and receive equal salary, allowances and other perquisites, which are similar to judge of Supreme Court. In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner, the matter is decided by the Commission by majority.
|72.||Eight core sectors growth slips to 2.4% in July 2017|
The growth of eight core sectors slowed to 2.4% in July 2017 due to contraction in output of crude oil, refinery products, fertiliser and cement. These eight sectors had witnessed 3.1% growth in July 2016.
Cumulatively, these eight core sectors recorded a growth of 2.5% in April-July 2017 period as against 6% in same period in 2016. In June, these eight sectors had recorded growth rate of 0.8%.
Slow growth in key core sectors will have implications on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these sectors account for about 40.27% to the total factory output.
Core sectors or industry can be defined as the main industry of the economy. In most countries, particular industry qualifying to be the core industry are said to be the backbone of all other industries. In India, there are eight core sectors comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.
The electricity has maximum weight of 10.32% followed by Steel (6.68%), Petroleum Refinery (5.94%), Crude Oil production (5.22 %), Coal production (4.38 %), Cement (2.41%), Natural Gas production (1.71 %) and Fertilizer production (1.25%). These eight Core Industries comprise nearly 40.27% of weight of items included in IIP, which measures factory output.
July 2017 Core Industries Stats
Steel production rose by 9.2% and electricity generation by 5.4%. Natural gas output rose by 6.6%. Coal output growth decelerated to 0.7% as against 4.1% in July 2016. Production of crude oil declined by 0.5%, refinery products by 2.7%, fertiliser by 0.3% and cement by 2%.
|73.||National Nutrition Week: 1 to 7th September|
The National Nutrition Week will be observed throughout the country from 1st to 7th September. The theme of for year 2017 is “Optimal Infant & Young Child Feeding Practices: Better Child Health“.
The objective of this event is to intensify awareness generation on importance of nutrition for health which has an overall impact on development, productivity, economic growth and ultimately National development.
During this week, Food and Nutrition Board of Ministry of Women & Child Development will coordinate with concerned Department of the State/UT Governments, NGOs, National Institutions and organize State/UT Level Workshops, Functionaries, Orientation Training of Fields Awareness Generation Camps, Community meetings.
Moreover, large numbers of awareness activities were organized at state, district and village levels. One day workshops to sensitize and for capacity building of State/Districts Level officers on importance of nutrition for better health will be also held.
Mini exhibition on nutrition displaying low cost nutritious diets and its importance for different age groups will also be organized at grassroots level. Besides, awareness generation on weight management and its importance through Body Mass Index (MBI) will also be held for adolescent boys and girls.
Importance of Nutrition
Nutrition is important survival, health and development issue for current and succeeding generations. All age groups represent National Economic Asset, so improving nutritional status of population is imperative for National Development.
Under nutrition in young children continues to be a major public health problem in India. Child born underweight has impaired immune function and increased risk of diseases in their later life. Malnourished children tend to have lower IQ and impaired cognitive ability, which affects their school performance and productivity in later life. According to the NFHS4, there is no improvement in the nutritional status, especially among women and children even though level of underweight has decreased by 6.8%, stunting by 9.6%, anaemia by 11% as compared to NNHS-3 figures.
|74.||Launch of navigation satellite IRNSS-1H unsuccessful: ISRO|
The launch of IRSO’s eight navigation satellite IRNSS-1H onbaord of PSLV-C39 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh was unsuccessful. The heat shield did not separate as a result of which satellite did not complete the 4th stage.
The IRNSS-1H was being sent to space to back up and replace the functions of India’s first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A (launched in July 2013) as its three rubidium atomic clocks on board had stopped functioning.
The rubidium atomic clocks on board of IRNSS-1A that stopped working were imported from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium. The atomic clocks are used to find satellite’s position with an accuracy of 0.5 metre.
IRNSS-1H was India’s first satellite actively built by consortium of private firms led by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies. The consortium had completed 25% development work of IRNSS-1H, under the guidance of ISRO scientists. Prior to development of this satellite, private sector’s role was only limited to supplying components to ISRO.
The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent regional system developed by India on par with the US-based GPS, Russia’s Glonass and Galileo developed by Europe. The navigation system offers wide services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management visual and voice navigation for drivers. It was named “Navic” (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
|75.||India, Switzerland ink two MoUs in the field of Railways|
India and Switzerland have signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) for exchanging technical cooperation in the field of Railways.
They were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard in New Delhi. They also issued Joint press statement.
Key Takeaways of Joint press statement
FDI is a big part of the Indo-Swiss cooperation. Both countries agreed to enhance the business to business cooperation. Both countries are working on new bilateral investment treaty. India thanked Switzerland for supporting for its bid for MTCR and Nuclear Suppliers Group membership.
Switzerland agreed that reforms taken by India will serve good base for expanding cooperation in several areas. Switzerland has accepted automatic exchange of information for transparency in financial transactions with India to effectively combat black money and tax evasion and its parliament is going to pass legislation supporting it by year end. India committed to clean energy and green future and termed climate change as a global challenge.
India and Switzerland have long standing relationship and enjoy robust economic ties. Switzerland is being seventh largest trading partner and eleventh largest foreign investor for India. Both countries share common views on many major global issues.
|76.||EU, India agrees to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation|
India and European Union (EU) have agreed to strengthen cooperation between their security and intelligence agencies to combat threat of terrorism and check terror financing.
Both sides deliberated extensively on combating terror financing and challenges posed by violent extremism and radicalisation during 10th India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue held in New Delhi.
Key Highlights 10th Dialogue
Both sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and underscored need for deepening cooperation to combat terrorism in long term, sustained and comprehensive manner. They also exchanged views and assessments on prevailing terrorist threats in their respective regions including state-sponsored, cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
The also held discussions regarding current challenges posed by various terrorist entities, radicalisation and violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters and combating financing of terrorism. They agreed to strengthen institutional linkages by establishing point of contact between Indian agencies and their EU counterparts including Europol for closer interaction and cooperation in field of counter-terrorism.
Both sides also agreed to identify relevant training programmes for capacity building of individuals on both sides working in sphere of countering terrorism and violent extremism. They also emphasised prospects for deepening counter-terrorism cooperation under the UN and Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The next India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue will take place in Brussels in 2018.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
FATF is an inter-governmental body which monitors the progress of member countries in implementing necessary measures to check money laundering and terrorist financing.
|77.||US approves first gene therapy for cancer|
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved first gene therapy, a treatment that uses patient’s own immune cells to fight acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The approval will usher new approach to treatment of cancer and other serious and life-threatening diseases. Studies have shown that 83% of patients responded to this treatment, achieving remission within three months.
The gene therapy treatment was originally developed by researchers at University of Pennsylvania and licensed to pharma giant Novartis. It was previously identified as CAR-T cell therapy (CTL019) or tisagenlecleucel and now is called Kymriah.
The treatment is completely different compared to present popular immunotherapy drugs called “checkpoint inhibitors” used to harness immune system that treat variety of cancers by helping the body’s natural T cells better spot tumors.
The CAR-T treatment is not a pill or form of chemotherapy. It uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes (cells) but to turbocharge T cells, immune system cells that cancer can evade. These cells removed from patient’s blood along with white blood cells are encoded with viral vector, reprogrammed in lab. They are reprogrammed to harbor chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that specifically targets cancer cells. The revived and reprogrammed cells after returned to the patient continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years.
|78.||CCS approves first phase of Army reforms|
The Union Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved implementation of first phase of reforms pertaining to the Indian Army based on recommendations of Lt Gen Shekatkar Committee.
The purpose of reforms is to enhance combat capability and also optimize and rebalance defence expenditure of Indian Army in phased manner by December 2019. It is first ever reform exercise to be undertaken in Indian Army since independence.
The first phase of reforms involves
The Union Ministry of Defence had constituted a Committee of Experts under Chairmanship of Lt Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar for recommending measures to enhance combat capability & rebalancing defence expenditure of Armed Forces with an aim to increase “teeth to tail ratio”.
The committee had submitted around 99 recommendations. So far, Defence Ministry has approved 65 of these recommendations pertaining to Indian Army for implementation. Remaining 34 recommendations pertaining to Indian Navy, Air Force and Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) are likely to be taken up soon.
These reforms will be completed in all respects by December 2019. The committee had suggested that, if these recommendations are implemented over the next five years, it can result in savings of up to Rs. 25,000 crore in defence expenditure.
|79.||Konkani writer Mahabaleshwar Sail receives 2016 Saraswati Samman|
Eminent Konkani writer Mahabaleshwar Sail (74) was bestowed with prestigious Saraswati Samman 2016. He was awarded for his novel “Hawthan (?????)” that captures cultural lives of traditional potter community in Goa.
He was presented the award, comprising plaque and a cash purse of Rs.15 lakh by Union minister for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman at event held in New Delhi.
Mahabaleshwar Sail is bilingual writer based in Goa. He has written four Marathi dramas and seven Konkani novels. He has also written five short stories and novel in Marathi. He is best known for his work ‘Paltadcho Munis’, which had inspired film by same name. Most of his short stories and novels are translated into English and Hindi. His work ‘Hawtham’ was published in 2009. He has received Sahitya Akadami Award in Konkani language for his short story collection ‘Taranga’ in 1993.
Mahabaleshwar Sail was born on 4 August 1943 in Shejebag in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. He had served in Indian Army and had participated in 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. He also had served as UN peacekeeper in 1964-1965 at Israel and Egypt border. He also had worked as supervisor in Forest Department, Goa, Daman and Diu Police and India Post till his retirement.
Saraswati Samman is an annual award bestowed upon Indian citizen for his outstanding literary work written in any 22 Indian language mentioned in Schedule VIII of Constitution and published during last 10 years. The award has been named after Indian goddess of learning Saraswati.
It is considered one of the highest literary awards in India. It was established in 1991 by the KK Birla Foundation. It carries cash prize of 15 lakh rupees, a citation and a plaque of goddess Saraswati. Harivansh Rai Bachchan was first recipient of this award for his autobiography published in four volumes.
|80.||India-Myanmar to sign MoU for conservation of quake-damaged Pagodas at Bagan|
The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Myanmar for conservation of earthquake-damaged pagodas at Bagan, Myanmar.
The MoU will be signed during official state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Myanmar during 6-7 September 2017.
Pagodas are Buddhist temple, typically in the form of a many-tiered tower, built in traditions originating as stupa in historic South Asia. Pagodas at Bagan are one of the premier tourist attractions of Myanmar.
Significance of Project
Implementation of conservation project will strengthen India’s enduring ties in cultural and religious sphere with Myanmar. It will also generate immense goodwill for India among people of Myanmar due to religious significance as well as touristic significance of project. It will also contribute to India’s development partnership with Myanmar. It will provided opportunity to showcase India’s expertise in conservation and restoration of monuments.