NATIONAL AFFAIRS

National Biodiversity Congress 2017 held in Kerala:

Third National Biodiversity Congress (NBC) 2017 held Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This year event is comprises of programmes including conference, exhibition, capacity building workshops and Children’s Biodiversity Congress.

Theme: “Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” with four sub-themes.


Cabinet approves 8,100-cr investment to set up solar parks:

The Cabinet has approved an investment of 8,100 crore for setting up at least 50 solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects. The investment would double the solar power production target to 40,000 MW. Notably, the government has laid down a plan to achieve 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022.


Govt doubles maternity leave for women workers in industries:

The government doubled the maternity leave for women working in industries from the existing three months to six months. However, the benefit will be restricted to women who make a monthly contribution to the employees’ state insurance corpus from their salaries. About 29 lakh women working across various industries will be benefitted by the move.


Punjab bans gutkha, pan masala, food products having tobacco:

The Punjab government has prohibited the manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of food products containing tobacco or nicotine like gutkha and pan masala in the state for one year. The ban also applies on processed, flavoured, scented, and chewing tobacco, whether they are packaged or unpackaged or sold as one or separate products.


Kashmir government turns public libraries to E-learning centers:

Jammu and Kashmir government launched an e-learning program by installing computers in the state’s public libraries, thus assisting students to prepare for competitive exams like JEE and CET. The students can avail the facility by filling a form in the nearest libraries where resources like tabs, computers, and the expert-designed study materials are also available.


Goa to host See Sharp Fest:

The See Sharp Fest, a green living and learning festival, will be hosted by Goa for the first time at Ashwem beach. The festival will hold classes on composting, connecting solar panels, rain water harvesting, generating cooking gas from waste food, converting waste oil into detergent, and even starting one’s own organic farm.


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Openly gay minister of Indian origin could be Ireland’s next PM:

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s openly gay social protection minister, is being seen as a frontrunner in the race to replace Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Leo Varadkar, an openly gay Irish minister of Indian-origin, to become Ireland’s next prime minister.


Mexico will not accept Trump’s immigration plans, says foreign minister:

Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, was responding to Donald Trump’s plans to enforce immigration rules more vigorously against undocumented migrants, which could lead to mass deportations to Mexico, not just of Mexicans but also citizens of other Latin American countries.


Uganda to stop car imports:

Vice-President Hamid Ansari held bilateral talks with Ugandan President Y.K. Museveni on the first official day of his visit to the country, agreeing broadly on cooperation in the fields of vocational training, space technology and peaceful uses of atomic energy. Museveni asks Indian automobile manufacturers to “make in Uganda”. He wants manufacturers to set up assembly units in that country and create jobs.


BANKING & BUSINESS

IMF sees India growth rebounding to 7.2%:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) foresees India’s economic growth rebounding to 7.2 per cent next fiscal, up from the projected 6.6 per cent in 2016-17 after demonetisation.


Microsoft’s Nadella launches Sangam, LinkedIn Lite and Skype Lite with Aadhaar:

Redmond-based Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella launched light versions of LinkedIn and Skype with Aadhaar Praman services along with two new products called Placements and Project Sangam at the Future Decoded 2017 event in Mumbai. He also announced that cloud computing was gathering pace in India and all sectors including auto, finance and the public sector was adopting the new platform.


Bharti Airtel to acquire Telenor’s India operations:

Sunil Bharti Mittal-led India’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel announced it is buying Norwegian telecom company Telenor’s India operations. In a transaction expected to close in a year, Telenor India’s spectrum, licenses, operations, including its employees, will become a part of Airtel. The announcement comes amid a potential Vodafone-Idea merger and competition from Reliance Jio.


Bharat Financial begins Aadhaar-based cashless loan disbursal:

Microfinance institution Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd launched an initiative for instant loan approval and disbursed them to three women in a village near Bassi in Jaipur district. The initiative is expected to help rural areas embrace cashless transactions. The loans are cashless since they are deposited directly to the loanee’s bank account.


Reap Chemist gets backing from FreeCharge founders:

Reap Chemist, which is running a Business-to-Business (B2B) supply chain management mobile application for pharmacies, has received an undisclosed amount of funding in its seed round. The funding comes from a clutch of angel investors including FreeCharge founders Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon, Thinklabs founder Gagan Goyal and Chayos co-founder Nitin Saluja.


Google’s new tech turns VR headsets invisible:

Google’s Research arm and Daydream Labs have developed technology to let spectators see VR headset users full faces. The aim is to allow for less awkward demonstrations of VR technology and experiences on video. The technology first constructs a 3D model of the user’s face, which lines up with the visible portion of the face to replace the headset’s view.


Queensland varsity, IIT Madras to undertake joint applied research:

A top Australian university Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has signed an agreement with IIT Madras to undertake joint applied research in information security, combustion and health technologies. 

Both institutions recognise that, globally, there is a paradigm shift in research focus and this initiative is a significant step towards meeting the new research challenges.


AWARDS

Sahitya Akademi awards presented to 24 authors at Festival of Letters: