Current Affairs Update – 25-28 August, 2017


Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 25 to 28 August, 2017. These are very important for the upcoming IBPS PO, IBPS RRB, OICL AO, UIIC Assistant & NICL Assistant Exams.

Banking & Financial News

Sitharaman sets up Task Force on Artificial Intelligence for Economic Transformation


  • The Union Government on 25 August 2017 constituted a task force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the country's Economic Transformation. The 18-member panel, headed by Dr V. Kamakoti of IIT Madras, will comprise of experts, academics, researchers and industry leaders.
  • The panel has been asked to explore the possibilities to leverage Artificial Intelligence for development across various fields. The task force will submit concrete and implementable recommendations for government, industry and research institutions.
In addition to regular members, official participation from the following organizations shall also be requested:
1. NITI Aayog
2. Department of Science & Technology
3. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
4. DRDO
5. UIDAI

  • Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who constituted the task force on Artificial Intelligence said that with rapid development in the fields of information technology and hardware, the world is about to witness a fourth industrial revolution.
  • She said driven by the power of big data, high computing capacity, artificial intelligence and analytics, Industry 4.0 aims to digitise the manufacturing sector.

Union Government restricts import of gold, silver items from South Korea


  • The Union government on 25 August 2017 restricted gold and silver imports from South Korea.
  • The decision was formally announced by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in the Union Commerce Ministry through a notification, which read, “Imports from South Korea of articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal, articles of goldsmiths’ and silversmiths’ wares and parts thereof and coins are restricted.”
  • The move was made in a bid to check a sudden increase in inbound shipments of precious metals from the country. The importers will now have to obtain a license from the DGFT for importing gold and silver from South Korea.
  • India is the world's biggest gold consumer after China and it imposes a 10 percent import duty on gold and silver.
  • The customs duty does not apply to countries with which India has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), like South Korea.  India had signed a free trade agreement with the nation in January 2010.
  • To avoid duty-free imports from the countries it has signed FTAs with, the Indian government previously imposed a 12.5 percent excise duty, which was replaced along with other local taxes when the goods and services tax (GST) was introduced on 1 July 2017.
  • The imports now attract only 3 percent integrated GST. The imported gold and silver items mainly take care of the demand by the jewellery industry.
  • The collections from customs duty and Integrated-GST (IGST) from imports post implementation of GST almost doubled to Rs 30000 Cr in July. Gold imports contributed significantly to this increased collection.
  • Some trading houses also started importing gold from South Korea without paying the import tax.
  • Between 1 July and 3 August 2017 alone, gold imports from South Korea jumped to USD 338.6 million. The import in 2016-17 stood at USD 70.46 million.

Microsoft India to develop ‘farm price forecasting model’ for Karnataka farmers


  • The Agriculture Department of Karnataka has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with software giant Microsoft India to develop a unique ‘farm price forecasting model’.
  • The first-of-its-kind initiative will use the latest IT tools to aid farmers, administrators and other stakeholders to understand the market behaviour in advance. The move will enable the farmers of Karnataka, who struggle with the market’s unpredictability, to be more prepared.
  • The project is being supervised by the Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission (KAPC).
  • The initiative will be a “multi-variate” platform that will take into consideration various factors beyond conventional supply-demand equation while forecasting prices of crops.
  • It will examine a number of related factors including weather, rainfall and external factors, which impact market behaviour.
  • It would also provide real-time market data and help analyse its implications on the farm sector.
  • The main aim behind the project is to achieve a sense of predictability as well as stability in farm incomes.
  • Knowing the market situation in advance would help farmers, policy makers and industry make informed decisions.
  • It would also help the government be prepared for market intervention if there is any indication of price crash.

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Australian Trade Minister to lead 'Business Week' in India


  • Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo will lead a major mission named to India - the second Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) – to India. The mission scheduled to be held from 28 August to 1 September 2017 will aim at deepening the collaboration between the two nations in different fields.
  • Fields that will be covered during the visit include agri-business and food, higher education and research and smart cities and infrastructure, Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
  • According to a statement, 2nd ABWI arranged by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission will attract many business leaders. The statement says that over 50 business events and activities with Indian business and government, will take place across the six cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bhopal, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
  • Leonie Muldoon, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner - South Asia, said at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission that the ABWI is a significant platform which can be leveraged by Australian businesses to take a closer look at what India has to offer and to engage with potential partners and customers in specific areas of mutual business opportunity.

News related to India & States

PM Narendra Modi announces 'Cleanliness is Service' campaign


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 August 2017 announced the launching of 15-days 'Cleanliness is Service' campaign ahead of the 2 October 2017 (Gandhi Jayanti). The announcement was made during the radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
  • PM Modi asked people to undertake the 'Cleanliness is Service' or 'Swachchta Hi Seva' campaign to promote the creation of an environment of cleanliness while marking the third anniversary 'Swachch Bharat' programme that was launched on 2 October 2014.
  • The campaign shall be on the lines of 'Jal Seva, Yahi Prabhu Seva' (Service of water is the Service to God). The campaign can be undertaken utilising the festivals like Diwali, Navratra and Durga Puja.
  • The campaign will be promoted through social media in the form of essay competitions in any language, short film competitions and painting competitions.
  • Apart from this, PM Modi also announced that this year, Gandhi Jayanti will be celebrated as 'Swachch Do Aktoobar, Clean 2nd October'.
  • More than 230000 villages have been declared 'Open Defecation Free' till date and about 67 per cent population has toilets now.

Union Government inaugurates production of Light Combat Helicopter at HAL


  • Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on 26 August 2017 launched the production of 5.8-tonne category Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), designed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • Earlier in November 2016, the Defence Ministry had cleared a Rs 2911 crore procurement of 15 LCHs as a Limited Series Production (LSP) order, with estimated cost of Rs 200 crore per helicopter. However, the final cost comes out to Rs 231 crore per LCH at 2017-18 prices.
  • HAL is responsible for the design, development and manufacture of these LCHs.

Kerala Government has launched E-waste disposal in state schools


  • Kerala government has begun e-waste disposal in its state schools with about 12500 kg being disposed state wide on a single day under a programme aimed at clearing the accumulated junk.
  • The programme is a joint initiative of Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), formerly IT@School project and Clean Kerala Company.
  • The initiative mainly aims to dispose e-waste such as desktop computers, CRT monitors, laptops, disk drives, printers, UPS, camera, speaker system, television, network components and generators from 10,000 odd schools and educational offices in the state.
  • The accumulated junk is reported to be over 1 Cr kg.
  • The first vehicle carrying the e-waste from a school was flagged off on 24 August.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik launches rooftop solar programme


  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched a grid-connected rooftop solar programme through a net-metering system at the State Secretariat in the capital city of Bhubaneswar on 23 August 2017.
  • The solar programme will be implemented by Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA). It mainly aims at harnessing renewable solar capacity through people’s participation to further strengthen the grid and reduce power losses in the state, benefiting the public. It also aims to help the state in addressing the climate change action plan.
  • Under the programme, consumers would be able to install small subsidised solar plants on their rooftops and consume the generated solar power during the day time.
  • Consumers would also be able to export excess power to the grid through their service cables.
  • The additional solar power generated could be exported through net-meter, a special type of meter that will be provided by the respective power distribution companies.
  • The difference between buying from the grid and selling to it will be billed to the consumer.
  • The Net-Metre will enable the consumer to reduce consumption of electricity by using solar power and simultaneously get a reduced bill on account of selling solar power to the grid.
  • A consumer would require an investment of about Rs 70,000 per kW for a rooftop solar system.
  • The investment on a rooftop solar system is about Rs 70,000 per kW.

Appointments

Dara Khosrowshahi appointed as CEO of Uber Technologies Inc


  • Dara Khosrowshahi was on 27 August 2017 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the  Uber Technologies Inc. His appointment was approved by the Uber Board.
  • Prior to this appointment, Khosrowshahi was serving as the Chief Executive Officer of travel company Expedia Inc.
  • Khosrowshahi will be responsible for improving Uber's image by fixing tussles among investors, rebuilding employee morale and creating a profitable business after seven years of losses.
  • He succeeds Travis Kalanick, Uber's co-founder who was expelled as CEO in June 2017 after shareholders representing about 40 per cent of the company's voting power signed a letter asking him to resign amid growing concern over his behaviour.


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Nandan Nilekani appointed as Chairman of Infosys Board


  • Nandan Nilekani was on 24 August 2017 appointed as the Non-Executive Chairman of Infosys Board, returning to the company ten years after he stepped down as its Chief Executive Officer.
  • The decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the Board of Directors of Infosys. Meanwhile, UB Pravin Rao will continue to serve as the interim CEO and MD at Infosys.
  • Nilekani's appointment came amid high-level exits from the company as CEO Vishal Sikka, Chairman of the board R Seshasayee and Co-Chair Ravi Venkatesan resigned from the Infosys board. Moreover, Directors Jeffery S Lehman and John Etchemendy also resigned with immediate effect.
  • The reconstituted board also signed a separation and mutual release agreement with Vishal Sikka, which includes a Non-Disparagement Obligation that bonds him not to defame the company as well as defend the company against any disparaging remarks made by a third party during his tenure.
  • The board has been tangled in a dispute for months as the company’s founders, led by former chairman Narayana Murthy, have accused the Directors of lapse in governance.

Awards & Honors

Nitasha Biswas crowned first Miss TransQueen India


  • Nitasha Biswas, a transwoman from Kolkata, on 27 August 2017 was crowned the first Miss TransQueen India. The competition was held in Gurugram, Haryana.
  • Biswas is currently pursuing Masters in Business Management in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • Miss Transsexual Australia 2017 Laeticia Phylliscia Raveena had crowned the first Miss TransQueen India.
  • On the other hand, Manipur’s Loiloi was crowned the first runner-up while Ragasiya.k from Chennai bagged the second runner-up position.
  • Biswas will now go to Thailand for Miss International Queen, while Loiloi will compete at Miss Transsexual Australia.

World News

NASA's WINDY Mission to create white artificial clouds that glow in night


  • A NASA rocket mission named 'WINDY' will form night-time white artificial clouds visible by residents of the Republic of the Marshall Islands during two rocket flights between 29 August 2017 and 9 September 2017. This was announced by NASA on 23 August 2017.
  • The Waves and Instabilities from a Neutral Dynamo (WINDY) Mission will study a phenomenon that occurs in the Ionosphere, a layer of charged particles in the upper atmosphere.
  • The mission consists of two NASA suborbital sounding rockets.
  • This mission aims to study disturbances in the upper atmosphere that interfere with communication and technology systems.
  • Known as Equatorial Spread F (ESF), these disturbances occur after sunset at latitudes near the equator in part of the ionosphere known as the F region. 
  • These disturbances obstruct radio communication, navigation and imaging systems and pose a hazard to technology.
  • The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands is near the magnetic equator, where post-sunset ionosphere storms are more intense, making the site an ideal location for these studies.

Microsoft launches Project Brainwave for real-time artificial intelligence


  • Software giant Microsoft in August 2017 launched its Project Brainwave, which is deep learning acceleration platform for real-time artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Microsoft has launched the project during the time when real-time artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important as cloud infrastructures process live data streams, whether they be search queries, videos, sensor streams, or interactions with users.
  • The Project Brainwave uses the massive Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) infrastructure that Microsoft has been deploying over the past few years.
  • By attaching high-performance FPGAs directly to the data centre network, DNNs can be served as hardware microservices, where a DNN can be mapped to a pool of remote FPGAs and called by a server with no software in the loop.

Canada to allow gender-neutral passports to promote equality


  • The Canadian government announced on 24 August 2017 that citizens, who do not identify with a particular gender, whether male or female, would soon be able to obtain gender neutral passports.
  • The citizens would be able to mark "X" in space of gender on their passports and other identity documents. The decision would be effective starting 31 August 2017.
  • According to the government’s statement, from 31 August, citizens will be able to add an "observation" to their passports stating their sex should be "identified as 'X', indicating it is unspecified.
  • These interim measures will be in force until authorities are able to print an "X" on passports and other documents.
  • The move is aimed to help Canadians to have documents that reflect their gender identity better.

Sports News

Nozomi Okuhara wins World Badminton Championship; PV Sindhu settles for silver


  • Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on 27 August 2017 defeated PV Sindhu 19-21, 22-20, 20-22 to claim the 2017 BWF World Championships.
  • The final match was held at Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • It was Sindhu's first final appearance in the World Championship and also her best performance ever. This was a third medal for the Rio Olympics silver-medallist at Worlds, having won bronze twice in 2013 and 2014 after losing at the semifinal stage in both the editions.

India wins South Asian Football Federation Under-15 Championship


  • The India football team on 27 August 2017 defeated Nepal 2-1 to win the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under-15 Championship at the ANFA Complex, Satdobato in Nepal.
  • Bangladesh and Bhutan captured third and fourth place in the tournament, respectively.
  • Bangladesh’s Foysal Ahmed (6 goals) was declared the top scorer of the tournament while India’s Vikram Pratap Singh was chosen as the Best Player of the tournament. Bangladesh was bestowed with the Fair Play Award.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award


  • Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo in August 2017 was named the 2016-17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award.
  • Ronaldo surpassed Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon to win the prestigious award.
  • Ronaldo picked up the trophy for the second consecutive season and third time in total, having also received the accolade in 2013-14.
  • On the other hand, Lieke Martens was named the 2016-17 UEFA Women's Player of the Year.
Other Awards:

  • Best Goalkeeper of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League season: Gianluigi Buffon
  • Best Defender of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League season: Sergio Ramos
  • Best Midfielder of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League season: Luka Modrić
  • Best Forward of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League season: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • UEFA President's Award: Francesco Totti

England to host 2018 International Table Tennis Federation Team World Cup


  • The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) on 24 August 2017 awarded hosting rights for the 2018 Team World Cup to England.
  • The Team World Cup is ITTF’s second most prestigious tournament after the World Championships.
  • The 2018 Team World Cup will be staged at the iconic Copper Box Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 22 February to 25 February 2018.
  • The Team World Cup comprises 12 men's and 12 women's teams, which include the host team, Continental Champions and the other top finishers at the World Team Table Tennis Championships.
  • The Team World Cup was last held in Dubai in 2015.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu launches ‘National Sports Talent Search Portal’

  • Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu officially launched the Sports Ministry’s much-awaited ‘National Sports Talent Search Portal’ on 28 August 2017 at a function in the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.
  • Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel was also present at the occasion among other ministers.
  • The sports talent search portal mainly aims to ensure that the grassroot population in India also gets an opportunity to contribute their share in sports.


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