January 16′ & 17′ 2017 – Current Affairs Quick Gyan


1.      China’s Baidu appoints former Microsoft exec Qi Lu as COO

China’s Baidu has appointed a former Microsoft executive as chief operating officer, part of a push into artificial intelligence as earnings from its core search engine business wane.

·         Baidu has been refocusing its business strategy after the introduction of new advertising regulations, aimed at medical advertising in particular, led to a 16% drop in ad customers during quarter ended in September.

·         Qi Lu, who was an executive vice president at Microsoft and headed its unit in charge of Office, Bing and Skype until last September, will help develop artificial intelligence as a key strategic focus for Baidu over the next decade.

2.     Antonio Tajani elected European Parliament’s new president

Antonio Tajani of the EPP Christian Democrat group has been elected president of the European Parliament in a day-long polling series during which he defeated his socialist opponent.

The largest group in the European Union’s legislature, and the ALDE liberals, the fourth-largest, announced a coalition that gave Tajani a big early lead over S&D socialist Gianni Pittella. He maintained the lead through four rounds of voting at the legislature in Strasbourg, France.


3.     Fred Ramsdell, Alexander Rudensky and Shimon Sakaguchi awarded 2017 Crafoord Prize

The Royal Science Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2017 Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis to Shimon Sakaguchi, Osaka University, Japan, Fred Ramsdell, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, San Francisco, CA, USA and Alexander Rudensky, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.

Three immunology researchers share 2017’s Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis, for which the prize money is 6 million Swedish krona. The research being rewarded deals with the discovery of regulatory T cells, cells that can be regarded as our immune system’s security guards. They put a brake on cells that are overzealous and attack the body’s own tissue. There are hopes that their discoveries will lead the way to new, highly effective treatment methods for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, MS and type 1 diabetes.

4.     BSF launches operation ‘Sard Hawa’ at Rajasthan border

Border Security Force (BSF) has launched operation ‘Sard Hawa’ at the western international border of Rajasthan, under which vigil will be beefed-up to check the instances of infiltration due to the dense fog in the area. The operation will continue till 28 January.

The purpose of the operation is to keep a hawk’s eye on the international border, where vigil has been beefed-up and officers have also been asked to be part of operation to motivate jawans.

5.     Tamil Nadu Government launches mobile app Pinakin for Tourism

Tamil Nadu government has launched a mobile application Pinakin. It will seek to provide information of famous tourist destinations in the state. The app will provide data on other major tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu.

Initially, it will cover world heritage tourist sites like Thanjavur Big Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Mamallapuram and Darasuram. The app will provide information in 2 languages Tamil and English, benefiting both domestic and global tourists. The app would provide information on other major tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu in a phased manner.

6.     India officially becomes Associate Member State of CERN

India became an Associate member of CERN with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016.

·         On November 21, 2016, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Fabiola Gianotti CERN Director General signed an Agreement to admit India to CERN as an Associate member.

·         The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.

7.      Petroleum Minister to inaugurate month long awareness programme Saksham – 2017

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum & natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan will inaugurate a month long awareness programme “Saksham – 2017” on 16th January, 2016 at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi.

·         Saksham – 2017 (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav) is aimed to create awareness amongst masses towards judicious utilization and conservation of petroleum products along with use of energy efficient appliances and switching to cleaner fuels.

·         The programme is being organized by PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association) and other Oil & Gas PSUs under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

8.     Government inks Financing Agreement with World Bank for Nagaland Health Project

The Government of India, the Government of Nagaland and the World Bank have signed a massive 48 million dollars credit agreement for the ‘Nagaland Health Project,’ which aims to improve health services across the state.

The agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; L. Watikala, Principal Director, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Nagaland; and Genevieve Connors, Program Leader and Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.

9.     India ranks 92nd in 2017 Global Talent Index

India ranked 92nd  on the global index of talent competitiveness that measures how countries grow, attract and retain talent, a list topped by Switzerland.

India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries. While China was ranked at the 54th place, Russian Federation was placed at 56th, followed by South Africa at 67th and Brazil 81st.

Switzerland topped the overall index, followed by Singapore and the United Kingdom in second and third places respectively, in the list released by INSEAD Produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI).

10. India ranks 60th in Inclusive Development Index

India has been ranked 60th among 79 developing economies, below neighbouring China and Pakistan, in the inclusive development index, according to a WEF report.

The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is based on 12 performance indicators. In order to provide a more complete measure of economic development than GDP growth alone, the index has three pillars — Growth and Development, Inclusion and Intergenerational Equity, and Sustainability.

Lithuania tops the list of 79 developing economies that also features Azerbaijan and Hungary at second and third positions, respectively.

11.   India ranks 78th on global passport-strength list: Survey

The Indian passport has been ranked 78 in a global ranking of the world’s most powerful passports. Germany stands at the top with a visa-free score of 157, while Singapore overtakes South Korea and becomes the highest ranked Asian passport with a visa-free score of 156.

India stands at 78th position with a visa-free score of 46. While Pakistan and China rank 94 and 66 respectively. Afghanistan’s is the least powerful passport with a visa-free score of just 23.

12.  EC allocates Samajwadi Party cycle symbol to Akhilesh Yadav faction

The Election Commission (EC) has  allotted the Samajwadi Party’s official electoral symbol of ‘CYCLE’ to the faction led by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The decision of the three-member Election Commission, headed by Nasim Zaidi, comes after two weeks of factional war between Akhilesh and his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav over the election symbol.

13.  Timothy Gonsalves committee recommends reservation for girl students in IITs

A panel has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in the number of female students entering the prestigious institutes. The committee is learnt to have suggested creating up to 20 per cent supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats.

The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the joint admission board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from this year or from 2018.

14. Karang in Manipur becomes first cashless island in India

Karang, a small lake island in Manipur, has become the country’s first cashless island. The Union ministry of electronics and information technology under its Digital India programme announced Karang as the first cashless island in India. Confirming it, deputy commissioner M Harekrishna of Bishnupur district said the island fulfilled the Centre’s necessary criteria.

The Karang island is located in the middle of Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. Akodara, a village in Gujarat, had attained the unique status to be India’s first digital village in 2015.

15.  BHEL commissions 500 MW thermal unit in West Bengal

State-run power equipment maker BHEL has said it has commissioned another 500 MW unit of Sagardighi Thermal Power Station Phase II in West Bengal. “The unit was the second 500 MW set to be commissioned at Sagardighi Thermal Power Station (TPS) Phase II project in Murshidabad district of West Bengal.

The first unit of the 1,000-MW project was commissioned in December, 2015. The project has been set up by West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL).


16. SBI-Omanese fund SGRF launches second India-focused Private Equity

The Oman-India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a mid-market India-focused private equity fund, announced the first closure of its second fund, OIJIF Fund II with an initial corpus of USD 220 million. The two investors in the fund State Bank of India and State General Reserve Fund of Oman (SGRF) which have backed the first fund continue to be investors in OIJIF Fund II. The size of the first fund was USD 100 million and closed in 2011.


17.  Japan and Indonesia agree to deepen defence ties

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to cooperate on maritime security and deepen defence ties, even as both countries continue to have tense relations with China over the South and East China sea territory dispute. Widodo and Abe also discussed the opportunities for large infrastructure projects including a medium-speed rail line and a key port.

18. South Korea named world’s most innovative economy

South Korea is still the world’s most innovative economy, according to the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index.

Bloomberg’s proprietary index ranks countries according to research and development spending, value-added manufacturing, patent activity, high-tech density, higher education, productivity, research concentration and other factors.

19. China hands over two ships to Pakistan Navy for Gwadar Port security

China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a move likely to raise alarm in India.

China handed over the two ships to the Pakistan Navy for joint security along the sea route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Gwadar port in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province has been developed under CPEC linking western China through Pakistan with the Middle East, Africa and Europe.


20.  Massive gravity wave spotted in atmosphere of Venus

A massive bow-shaped ‘bulge’ has been spotted in the upper atmosphere of Venus, and astronomers are trying to explain how it could withstand the gush of sulphuric acid clouds that are spinning faster than the planet itself.

Their best guess is that the strange, 10,000-km (6,214-mile) structure is the result of what could be the largest gravity wave ever witnessed in the solar system, but there’s one problem – scientists didn’t think gravity waves could form this high up in the atmosphere.

21.  World’s lightest watch created using grapheme

Scientists have developed the world’s lightest high-performance mechanical watch made using the ‘wonder material’ graphene and weighing just 40 grammes. The RM 50-03 watch was made using a unique composite incorporating graphene to manufacture a strong but lightweight new case to house the delicate watch. Graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material at just one-atom thick.

22. Silicon identified as ‘missing element’ in Earth’s core

Silicon likely makes up a significant proportion of the Earth’s core after iron and nickel, say scientists who claim to have identified the ‘missing element’ in the deep interiors of our planet that has eluded us for decades. The discovery could help us to better understand how our world formed. The innermost part of Earth is thought to be a solid ball with a radius of about 1,200 kilometres.


23. Alphonce Simbu and Bornes Kitur win 2017 Mumbai Marathon

Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu won the men’s elite full marathon event while Kenya’s Bornes Kitur bagged the women’s title at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

Simbu clocked two hours, nine minutes and 32 seconds to clinch the gold medal. Kenya’s Joshua Kirkorir took the second spot with a time of 2:09:50 in a tough competition.

24.Diploma course for sports training to be launched by Unoin Sports Ministry

Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has decided to launch diploma course for sports training in Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre of Rohtak on the pattern of Patiala. Minister of State of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel announced this at the closing ceremony of the 21st National Youth Festival-2017.

Urging the youth to utilise their energy for the development of the country and society, Goel said that they should participate in sports and recreational activities along with focusing on work and career-building.

25. Farrukh Amonatov wins Delhi International Chess meet

Grandmaster Farrukh Amonatov of Tajikistan won the 15th edition of the Delhi International Chess tournament after settling for a draw with Grandmaster Diptayan Ghosh in the 10th and final round. Arpita Mukherjee, who ended up with a Women’s International Master norm for her performance here, played a draw with R.A. Harikrishna in her final round game.


26.Veteran film actress Geeta Sen passes away

Veteran film and stage actor Gita Sen, wife of film maker Mrinal Sen, died at her South Kolkata residence. Sen had acted in several films including ‘Kolkata 71’ (1971) and ‘Akaler Sandhane’ (1980). She had also been part of the theatre movement.  Her last rites were performed this evening at a city crematorium.

27. Eugene Cernan, last man to walk on Moon passes away

Eugene A. Cernan, the last astronaut to leave his footprints on the surface of the moon, has died.

The retired United States Navy captain was 82. Cernan earned several distinctions in his 13 years with NASA. He was the second American to walk in space and one of three men to have flown twice to the moon. But he’s best remembered as commander of Apollo 17, the last mission to the moon in December of 1972.

28.Zhou Youguang, father of Pinyin writing system passes away

Chinese linguist Zhou Youguang, who created the writing system that turns Chinese characters into words using letters from the Roman alphabet, has died aged 111. Mr Zhou and a Communist party committee spent three years developing the Pinyin system in the 1950s. It changed the way the language was taught and helped raise literacy rates. Mr Zhou, who was born in 1906 during the Qing Dynasty, later became a fierce critic of China’s communist rulers.