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May 19, 2016

17th May 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs

  • Today (17th May) is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
    • This day was proclaimed to be on 17 May by a United Nations General Assembly resolution, following the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis.
    • Theme of the year 2016 : ICT entrepreneurship for social impact
  • India and the US today held their first Maritime Security Dialogue in Delhi which focused on strategic maritime security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. 
    • According to a US Embassy statement, issues discussed included naval cooperation and multilateral engagement
    • This comes in the light of the US rebalancing its military assets and assigning higher security resources to the Asia-Pacific.
  • The US government has released a breakdown on Saudi Arabia's holdings of US debt for the first time since 1974, in response to a Freedom-of-Information request submitted by Bloomberg News. 
    • The stockpile of US debt with Saudi Arabia stood at $116.8 billion as of March, the data revealed. 
    • Note : In comparison, China holds the highest US debt at $1.3 trillion.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Iran for two days on May 22 and 23 this year. 
    • The PM is visiting the nation on the invitation of Iran President Dr Hassan Rouhani
    • The duo is likely to discuss issues like developing energy partnership, boosting bilateral trade, facilitating people-to-people interaction and promoting peace in the region.
  • According to the World Bank, 1.3 billion people and assets worth $158 trillion will be at risk by 2050 because of the lack of preparedness to deal with climate change. 
    • It warned that densely populated coastal regions are sinking and that the sea level is rising. 
    • The World Bank also urged for better planning of the fast-growing and overcrowded cities.
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi today announced that Egypt is willing to play a mediating role in the Israel-Palestine peace talks
    • He said Israel and Egypt would share "warmer" ties if Palestine's issues are solved.
National Affairs
  • As per Ministry of Home Affairs data, Punjab has been under President's rule for a total of 3,510 days, the most for any state. 
    • Further, Uttar Pradesh has come under President's rule 10 times, the maximum amongst all states
    • Notably, 27 of the 29 states in India have been under President's rule at least once since 1950.
  • Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh today issued guidelines directing all universities in the state to have a Tricolour on campus
    • The Governor further asked the universities to come up with their own anthems, to be called “Kul Geet”. 
    • He also directed universities to set up research chairs named after great personalities to promote research on them.
Business & Economy

  • UK-based Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) today announced that it will shut down its corporate, institutional and retail banking operations in India, following the announcement of the plan last year. 
    • RBS currently operates 10 retail branches in India employing 400 people. 
    • This is part of the bank's plan to reduce its international operations to 13 countries from the current 38.
  • State-owned power generating firm NTPC has signed a joint venture agreement with state-run Coal India to revive plants run by the Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCIL).  
  • The Goa government has reduced VAT on petrol from 22% to 20% to keep its promise of not allowing prices to exceed Rs. 60 per litre.  
  • The Income Tax department has launched 'e-nivaran' (electronic solution), a special grievance redressal system to fast-track grievances and ensure early resolution of taxpayers' complaints. 
    • It comes under the Income Tax Business Application, the new smart electronic platform for the operations of the department. 
    • The system tracks a complaint from its origin, till it reaches its final resolution.
  • The World Bank’s Board has approved 625 million dollars loan to support India’s grid connected rooftop solar programme to generate clean energy. 
    • The loan will be provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), lending arm of World Bank and has a maturity of 20 years and a 19.5 year grace period. 
Science & Technology

  • Indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, Ashwin was successfully test fired. 
    • The test was the twelfth test of interceptor missiles fired from a warship in the Bay of Bengal. 
    • Note : Of the 11 tests held earlier, 9 were successful.  
  • In a first, US-based researchers have genetically engineered a clone of the Zika virus strain, an advance that may aid the development of vaccine and therapies against the infection. 
    • Furthermore, they also engineered a luciferase reporter Zika virus which can be used to track the infection in mosquitoes. 
    • Note : Luciferase is the chemical that causes the signature glow in fireflies.
Books & Authors

  • India’s President Pranab Mukherjee received the first copies of books "Tagore’s Vision of the Contemporary World” and ‘Tagore and Russia” at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
    • Both books were published by Delhi based Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) .
    • These also contains papers presented at international conferences organized by ICCR in New Delhi and Moscow in 2011 as part of the 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Rabindra Nath Tagore.
New Appointments

  • Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei of the Gauhati High Court was sworn in as the acting Chief Justice of the High Court in Tripura
    • He is going to replace Justice Deepak Kumar Gupta, who was transferred to the Chhattisgarh High Court.  
  • In Assam, Prof Dilip Chandra Nath assumed office as the sixth vice-chancellor of Assam University, Silchar.
Awards & Honors

  • South Korean author Han Kang has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for her novel 'The Vegetarian'. 
    • She is the first South Korean to win the award.
    • She will share the prize money of £50,000 (around $72,000) equally with her 28-year-old British translator Deborah Smith. 
    • The international literary award was introduced in 2004 to complement the Man Booker Prize.
  • Nandini Bhandaru, a PhD student at IIT-Kharagpur has won the Young Scientist Award of the European Materials Research Society’s (E-MRS) for contribution to materials science. 
    • She had won the award for her outstanding contribution to materials science and nanotechnology, particularly nano-patterning of soft films and surfaces.  
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