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Current Affairs: 17th January 2015

Category : All, Current Affairs · by Jan 18th, 2015

1- Tribal Food Festival-2015 begins in New Delhi

Tribal Food Festival-2015 begins in New Delhi

Tribal Food Festival

Tribal Food Festival-2015 has begun in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram. It is 3 day event organized by Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) on behalf of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

The main objective of Tribal Food Festival-2015 is to introduce and create awareness on the varieties of ethnic Tribal Foods to the people of Delhi. It also seeks to provide additional source of income to the tribals. In this unique event, tribals from various States including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Odisha have participated.

2- Sania Mirza, Bethanie Mattek-Sands wins Sydney doubles title

Sania Mirza, Bethanie Mattek-Sands wins Sydney doubles title

Sania Mirza, Bethanie Mattek-Sands

India’s Sania Mirza along with her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands has won doubles title at the Sydney International Tennis Tournament 2015. Indo-American in the finals defeated top-seeded Americans Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones by score of 6-3, 6-3. It should be noted that it was fifth WTA title won by Sania and Bethanie together as partner. While, this win is Sania’s first title of the season and 23rd of her career.

Sydney International Tennis Tournament

It is one of the oldest professional tennis tournaments in the world, dating to 1885. It is currently noted as an ATP 250 point event on the men’s tour and a WTA Premier event on the women’s tour. It is played annually at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Homebush, New South Wales, Australia.

3- Missing Mars probe Beagle 2 found on Mars after 11 years

A British-built space probe Beagle 2 has been found on the surface of Mars, 11 years after it was thought that it was lost on Mars. It was discovered in the high-resolution images taken by HiRISE camera mounted on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Thus, its discovery has ended the decade long mystery of what happened to the mission since 2003. After the discovery, the Royal Society has announced an award in commemoration of Prof Colin Pillinger (died in 2014) who was Principal Investigator of Beagle2 probe.

About Beagle2

Beagle2 was released to its landing trajectory from its mother craft- European Space Agency’s Mars Express (MEx) orbiter on 19 December 2003. After its release, it was due to land six days later on Mars surface using parachutes and airbags. But nothing was heard from probe’s radio contact after its scheduled touchdown. It was assumed by many scientists that it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact during landing.

4- New travel and trade rules between US and Cuba come into effect

New travel and trade rules between the United States (US) and Cuba have come into effect on 16 January 2015. It is considered as biggest policy shift between the two countries in more than 50 years after restrictions were imposed on travel and trade .

New travel and trade rules between the US and Cuba

It allows US citizens to use credit cards in Cuba and US businesses to export some technologies. Earlier this facility was not available to US citizens. It also allowed US citizens to take home up to 100 dollar in alcohol and tobacco from Cuba.

Background

These new travel and trade rules are implemented after US and Cuba agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties between the two countries in December 2014. Enmity between US government and Cuba’s communist government started in 1959 after the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro had overthrown then Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. In 1961, Cuba had broken all its diplomatic relations with US and had joined hands with US cold war rival Soviet Union. During this time, US had imposed travel and trade ban on Cuba. Enmity between both nations had attained its peak in 1962 after Cuban missile crisis that brought whole world to the brink of nuclear war. But after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba was left alone without any strong international support.

5- Union Government launches schemes to support entrepreneurs from Scheduled Castes

Union Government has launched Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes Scheme to encourage budding and existing entrepreneurs from Scheduled Castes (SCs). It was launched by Union Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot in Delhi. Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes Scheme Objectives: To promote entrepreneurship amongst the SCs who are oriented towards innovation and technological growth by providing concessional finance to them. It also seeks to enhance direct and indirect employment generation for SC population. It consists of an initial capital of Rs. 200 crore. Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) Limited will be the Sponsor this scheme. While, Settler and Asset Management Company (AMC) will be nodal agency to operate the scheme. Under this scheme, Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will provide assistance of Rs. 15 crore to each 30 persons a year, in the form of loan.

6- Union Cabinet gives nod to FM Phase 3 auction

Union Cabinet has given its nod for conducting FM Phase-III auction and renewal of Private FM Radio licenses from Phase-II to Phase-III in 69 existing cities for 135 channels. It  was decided in Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Key facts of FM Phase-III auction

The Phase III will e-auction around 839 FM channels in 294 cities. It is expected to commence before the end of the present fiscal year. However, it will continue over the next three years. It will be done according to recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on payment of migration fee. Union Government already had appointed an e-auctioneer to monitor the e-auction. Successful auctions of all proposed channels in Phase-III seeks to add an estimated revenue of over 550 crore to the National Exchequer.

Background

Earlier, the decision relating to Phase-III was taken by then Union Cabinet of UPA Government on 7 July 2011. But it was delayed as channel auction was proposed on e-auction basis. In March 2014, the Empowered Committee had decided to charge a fee for migration to existing operators who wanted to move to Phase-III. In India, as of now two phases of Private FM Radio have been implemented. They are Phase-I (1999-2000) and Phase-II (2005-06). While, there are 243 private FM channels operating in 86 cities of the country, spanning 26 States and three Union Territories. Thus, cabinet’s decision for auction is critical for the private radio industry since some of the licenses of the channels are expiring on 31 March, 2015.

7- IAF gets first indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas

IAF gets first indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft TejasFirst indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at ceremony held at Bengaluru, Karanataka. It was handed over after it was granted Initial Operational Clearance (IOC)-II, which signifies that aircraft is airworthy to fly in different conditions.

About Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas

Tejas is outcome of India’s LCA programme, which began in the 1983 to replace country’s aging MiG-21 fighters. It is a lightweight multi-role jet fighter indigenously-built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is a tailless and having compound delta wing design. It is powered by a single engine. It is mounted with inbuilt MultiMode Radar (MMR), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) systems. As part of LCA programme, 20 aircraft will be built by 2017-2018, to make the first squadron of the aircraft. IOC-I was granted to the aircraft in January 2011 after it was built by HAL. While, IOC- II was granted in September 2014, after the aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight. It is yet to receive the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) and excepted to receive it by the year-end which includes testing mid-air refuelling and its long-range missiles capabilities.

8- President launches pulse polio immunization programme

President launches pulse polio immunization programmePresident Pranab Mukherjee has launched the Pulse Polio Immunization(PPI) Programme by administering polio drops to children at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was launched by President ahead of the National Immunization Day which is observed on 18 January. PPI Programme is a Government drive to sustain polio eradication from the country. As part of it children less than 5 years of age are given polio vaccine drops.

Background

Since 1995, India has been implementing the Pulse Polio Immunization Programme. On 27 March 2014, India and 7 other Asian countries were declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

7 other Asian countries are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives and Myanmar. It should be noted that WHO declares any country polio free if no case is reported for three consecutive years.

Key facts about Polio 

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children below age of 5. Transmission: The virus is transmitted from person-to-person. It mainly spreads through the faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food). After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis. Symptoms:  Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In some cases, it causes permanent paralysis. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

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