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National – Across the India:
1. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its post-facto approval for launching of Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017 (VPBY 2017).
It is a part of Government’s commitment for financial inclusion and social security.
The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
The scheme will provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly / quarterly / half-yearly and annual basis.
2. The Union Cabinet has given its approval to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs).
The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012 and is set to expire in 2020. So far, 75 countries have ratified the second commitment period.
This decision is considered as token measure to put pressure on developed countries to deliver on climate change commitments.
3. Election Commission of India (ECI) hosted an International Seminar on ‘Strategies for Empowering Young and Future Voters’ on 24th January 2017, in partnership with UNDP India.
ECI signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the following Election Management Bodies at the Seminar:
Australian Electoral Commission
Central Election Commission of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Fijian Elections Office
Election Commission of Nepal
4.The government cleared swapping of land between Bihar government and Airports Authority of India for the expansion and development of Patna airport, which handles traffic more than three times of its existing capacity.
Union Cabinet, which met here under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved transfer of 11.35 acres of (Bihar government) land to AAI by way of exchanging equivalent area of AAI’s land at Anisabad.
The proposed land at Patna Airport will be used for expansion of the airport and construction of new terminal building along-with other associated infrastructures.
5. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a new scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country. The Government would provide interest subsidy under the scheme.
Interest subsidy would be available to every rural household who is not covered under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Grameen), PMAY(G).
The scheme would enable people in rural areas to construct new houses or add to their existing pucca houses to improve their dwelling units. The beneficiary who takes a loan under the scheme would be provided interest subsidy for loan amount upto Rs. 2 Lakhs.
6. The Nissan GT-R is on its way into the Limca Book of World Records after it made an outline of India’s map in the ground spanning an area of three sq. km on the dry lake bed of Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. In their attempt, Nissan India carved out the largest ever outline of a country map.
The car was piloted by professional rally driver Rahul Kanthraj and to ensure accuracy, the map was created by plotting the co-ordinates on a GPS device and multiple laps were done to approximate the actual map.
The exciting results were captured on video with drones and onboard cameras.
7. The Union Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) has released National Action Plan for Children (NPAC), 2016 on the occasion of National Girl Child Day (24th January).
It was released by Union Minister of Women & Child Development Meneka Sanjay Gandhi in New Delhi. The NPAC has been developed by the Ministry of WCD.
The Action Plan has four key priority areas. They are: survival, health and nutrition; education and development; participation and protection.
International – Across the Globe:
1. Japan launched a satellite Kirameki-2 to modernize its military communications and reportedly to better monitor North Korean missile launches.
The satellite lifted off from Japan’s Tanegashima space port aboard an H-IIA rocket at 0744 GMT and successfully entered orbit.
The satellite is one of three planned so-called X-band satellites, that will quadruple broadband capacity, unify a fractured and overburdened communications network and allow communications across more territory.
2. Dubai International Airport expects to receive 89 million passengers in 2017 after last year retaining its status as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.
About 83.6 million people passed through the airport last year, up by 7.2 per cent on 2015.
Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports’ chief executive said that the airport is closing the gap on Atlanta and Beijing for the top spot in overall traffic.
Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport, with last year’s figure expected to be 100 million passengers.
Appointments & Resignations:
1. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed a senior Dutch official as head of the World Body Information Centre in New Delhi, covering India and Bhutan.
Derk Segaar of the Netherlands has been appointed Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in New Delhi, covering India and the Kingdom of Bhutan.
2. The Senate has confirmed controversial candidate Mike Pompeo to head the CIA in President Donald Trump’s new administration.
His appointment was confirmed despite opposition from some Democrats, who highlighted the Kansas Republican’s varying viewpoints on key issues such as surveillance, torture and Russia’s “influence campaign” in the 2016 Presidential election.
Pompeo will lead the major agency as the intelligence community has been thrust into the spotlight and become an increasingly partisan issue.
Economics & Banking GK:
1. In a move that would help the micro enterprises get access to credit, two Small Finance Banks – Utkarsh Small Finance Bank Limited and Suryoday Small Finance Bank Limited – have commenced its operations from 23rd January, 2017.
Utkarsh Micro Finance Private Limited, Varanasi and Suryoday Micro Finance Private Limited, Navi Mumbai were amongst the 10 applicants which were issued in-principle approval for setting up a small finance bank.
2. In a bid to encourage banks to provide loans for education, the Reserve Bank of India RBI has declared that rescheduling the period of payment of education loans due to the inability of the borrower because of unemployment will not be treated as restructured accounts for computing NPAs.
Banks can allow three rounds of extension periods, each not more than 6 months, during the entire lifecycle of the education loan, to be applicable only on unemployment/underemployment borrowers.
Bills – New & Amendments:
1. The Union Cabinet has approved the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017, under which the IIMs will be declared as Institutions of National Importance.
It will also enable IIMs to grant degrees rather than diplomas to their students. At present IIMs are not authorized to award degrees as they registered as societies. Hence, they are awarding Post Graduate Diploma and Fellow Programme in Management.
Some salient features of the bill are: Allow IIMs to grant degrees to their students, Grant complete autonomy to IIMs, combined with adequate accountability, Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body will be established, Board of an IIM will drive the management of the institution. It will select Chairperson and Director of IIM.
Science & Technology:
1. Improved Pinaka rockets, with a guidance system and an enhanced range were successfully test-fired for the second time from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.
The guided version dubbed as Pinaka mark-II, has been evolved version of Pinaka mark-I. Its first successful test flight was conducted from the same venue on 12th January, 2017.
The conversion into improved guided Pinaka rockets has helped in enhancing the range and accuracy of Pinaka. The earlier range was 40 km, but now it is more than 70 km.
1. Election commission of India will celebrate 7th National Voters Day on 25th January 2017.
Then President, Pratibha Patil inaugurated the day on the occasion of 61st foundation day of Election Commission of India on 25th January 2011. ECI was established on 25th January 1950.
There were two themes for organizing the day,’Inclusive and Qualitative Participation’ and ‘No Voter to be left behind’.
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