May 17th Current Affairs

International Issues


Seven young scientists from India have been selected for the Intel world high school science research competition, which began in the US' Pittsburgh this week. Sources in Intel said, 1,549 young scientists from around the world were vying for the top award, that carries a 75,000 US Dollars grand prize from the Intel Foundation.

The scientists have been selected through 446 affiliate fairs in 68 countries, regions and territories. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), a programme of Society for Science & the Public (SSP), is sponsored by software company Intel.

The Indian contingent is a mix of students from Delhi, Chennai, Ujjain, Puttur and Kolkata with innovations in the field of chemistry, maths, bio-physics, bio-chemistry among others.





The global community is observing the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on May 17. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the change Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring in societies and economies. The day also marks the ways to bridge the digital divide.

The theme for this year is ‘Women and Girls in ICT. The chosen theme is aimed at extending digital opportunities to women by providing them avenues for advancement of their professional career . It also aims at encouraging young women to seek new careers within the sector.

In a message to mark the Day, Ban Ki-moon called for efforts to close both the digital divide and the gender gap, stressing that everyone must have the opportunity to make the best use of information and communications technology to shape their own future.

World Telecommunication Day which is organized by the UN International Telecommunication Union , is being celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865.

Following the request made in the World Summit on the Information Society called upon in November 2005,the General Assembly adopted a resolution in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.





Latest figures from Japan show that its economy is growing at an annual rate of 4.1 per cent.

The Cabinet Office said the economy has been boosted by strong consumer spending which helped fuel a gradual recovery from last year's earthquake and tsunami. However, analysts were still cautious about the future, as growth slowed in the United States, Europe and China.





The new Socialist French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has unveiled details of his new Government a day after Francois Hollande was inaugurated as President.

Former Minister for European Affairs, Piere Moscovici will be the Finance Minister while the veteran former Prime Minister, Laurent Fabius has been named the Foreign Minister.

In a major development, party leader, Marine Aubry has turned down the offer of heading a super ministry. Women make up half of the Cabinet for the first time but critics say few have been given top jobs.


National Issues


The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to permit GAIL India Limited to sign the Gas Sale & Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with TurrnenGas, Turkmenistan's national oil company, for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline Project.

The TAPI Gas Pipeline is envisaged to be 1680 Kms in length (144 Km in Turkmenistan, 735 Km in Afghanistan & 800 Kms in Pakistan) with a capacity of 90 (Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Definition) MMSCMD of gas, with 38 MMSCMD each for India and Pakistan and the remaining 14 MMSCMD for Afghanistan.

The Pipeline is expected to be operational in 2018 and supply gas over a 30 years period. The source of the gas is the South Yoiotan Osman field, recently renamed Galkynysh, which has been certified by a reputed international consultant to be holding proven recoverable gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic metres.

The provisions of the GSPA have been structured to protect India's commercial interests as India is at the tail end of the pipeline.





Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has inaugurated a 20-day transit camp in Delhi for pilgrims going to attend the 800th annual 'Urs' of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.

Pilgrims from all parts of the country reach Delhi to further travel to Ajmer to attend the annual 'Urs'. The city government has been organising transit camps for the pilgrims at Burari in North Delhi for last 12 years.

The Chief Minister described the Ajmer Sharif Dargah as a symbol of communal harmony and said teachings of Khwaja will remain relevant for all times to come. Various government agencies and departments including Delhi Transport Corporation, Delhi Police, Health department, DJB, MCD, NDPL have rendered their cooperation in providing facilities in the camp.





President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil released a special Postage Stamp to commemorate the Birth Centenary of Karmayogi M. B. Appasaheb Kadadi at a function. The function was organised at Rastrapati Bhawan.

On this occasion Power Minister Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde and Human Resource Development Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal was chief guests. Mr. Shinde gave some brief sketch about Appasaheb Kadadi. Appasaheb Kadadi was elected to Lok Sabha from Solapur in 1962.





The Information and Broadcasting Minister Mrs Ambika Soni justified the TRAI's recommendation to cap the duration of advertisements on television at 12 minutes per clock hour.





The government is in the process of amending the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Replying to supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik said the draft has been circulated among all the states. He said the ministry is awaiting the views of half a dozen states in this regard.

He said the Centre attaches utmost importance to protect the lives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes saying that it is the right of every citizen to live with dignity. Mr Wasnik said the financial assistance to the victims for their relief and rehabilitation has been increased to 150 per cent. 





In Madhya Pradesh, a consolidated scheme called "Sampoorna Swasthya Sabke liye" has been introduced to provide health services in all 52 thousand villages of the state.

These centre will be operated by an ad-hoc committee constituted by Gram Sabha. In next step a sector will be work for group of 10 kendras and a Doctor will be responsible for this sector. This sector will be accountable for block level. An officer on block level will be responsible for all the activities.

About six lakh representative of Health Committees will participate for the direct health services. These representative would imparted training also. An encouragment system will also set up under the scheme.





The Election Commission of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Washington based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) at New Delhi for developing and strengthening democratic institutions and processes. 

The focus of the MoU is making available the knowledge and experience of ECI to election managers and practitioners around the world through the Commission’s India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, IIIDEM. IFES has been involved in election assistance and democracy promotion in around 100 countries across the world.

The MoU was signed by Dr S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner and Mr William Sweeney, President and CEO, IFES. The Foundation is already working with IIIDEM for development of curriculum for international participants.

The MoU aims to promote working partnership between ECI and IFES for joint initiatives, exchange of information and experiences, training and research and assistance. It also aims at promoting exchanges, assignments and visits of practitioners and experts.





Shri Ajit Singh, the Minister of Civil Aviation informed that the Annual Plan outlay for 2012-13 of Air India Ltd is Rs 4928.00 crores including a budgetary support provision of Rs 4000.00 crores.

Plan expenditure to the tune of Rs 928.00 crores will be met by the company from its own Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources (I&EBR).

The Minister further informed that the amount of Rs 4000.00 crore would be released to Air India as equity as per the Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) of Air India approved by the Government.

The release of equity would be linked with achievement of milestones such as increase in on time performance, passenger load factor, yield, asset monetization, hiving off the Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul (MRO) and ground handling activities etc.





The Government has said that India has become the largest importer of arms, surpassing the Chinese share of five per cent of global arms imports during 2007-11.

Defence Minister A K Antony said, citing a report published in March 2012 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

India has become the largest importer of arms during 2007-11 and accounted for 10 per cent of global arms import.


Bilateral Issues


Memorandum of Understanding was signed between India and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to encourage and develop technical cooperation in the coconut sector.

The Coconut Development Board Chairman T K Jose and Chairman of St Patrick Coconut Growers Cooperative Society, Trinidad and Tobago, Pranesh Maharaj signed the agreement in Kochi.

The MOU envisages transfer of technologies in production, post harvest management, value added products and mechanised palm climbing for a period of two years. 

The Coconut Development Board will provide technical support to rehabilitate coconut plantation in 10,000 acres in Trinidad and Tobago, for which six lakh superior quality seedlings will be produced. Shipment of these seedlings will take place next year.

The MOU will also provide marketing opportunities for India in Trinidad and Tobago.





New Delhi has so far signed and operationalized bilateral Social Security Agreements with seven countries including Belgium and France.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said the bilateral Social Security Agreements which have been signed with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Norway will be operationalized in due course.

He said a comprehensive Social Security Agreement has been signed by New Delhi with Germany on the 12th of October 2011.

Earlier, another agreement on Social Insurance was signed with Germany on the 8th of October 2008 in respect of Posted Workers.





South Korean steel major, Posco has decided to set up an 8 million tonne per annum (mtpa) greenfield steel plant near Paradip in Odisha, downsizing its earlier plan of establishing a 12 mtpa steel plant.

This was decided at a meeting held at Bhubaneswar last night between Odisha Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and Posco-India Chairman-cum-Managing Director Mr YW Yoon.

Posco-India which had proposed to set up a 12 mtpa steel plant near Paradip at an investment of Rs52,000 crore, said to be the biggest FDI in the country, had failed to pick up due to various issues including stiff resistance from locals under Ersama block of Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha.

The Odisha Government and the company had signed an MoU on 22nd June 2005 to set up a plant near Paradip.





A six-member Chinese delegation, headed by Human Resources Minister of China, Yin Weimin met the Minister of Personal Public Grievances and Pension, V. Narayanasamy in New Delhi.

During the meeting, both sides discussed about exchange of best practices and understandings in terms of administrative and public delivery system.

Mr. Narayansamy said that under the Programme both the countries will send their officials to learn the administrative functioning of each other.


Economic Issues


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to set up a $2 billion swap facility for SAARC (South-Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) member-nations. This facility will be available in foreign currency and Indian rupee.

The swap will be offered in U.S. dollar, euro or Indian rupee against the domestic currency or domestic currency-denominated government securities of the requesting country.

The swap amount available to various member-central banks is arrived at broadly based on two months import cover, subject to a floor of $100 million and a maximum of $400 million per country.



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