Current Affairs Daily Digest: March 7, 2017

The Current Affairs Daily Digest for March 7, 2017 with important tid-bits on current affairs.

National Current Affairs

CCEA approves Revised Cost Estimate of Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Revised Cost Estimate-I of 400 MW Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project (HEP) in Uttarakhand at an estimated completion cost of Rs. 2,717.35 crore.  The project is being implemented by Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) India Limited. It has been already commissioned fully in March, 2012. However, only balance works are remaining which are not linked with operation of the plant but are essential for safety and completion of the project. The project will regulate releases from Tehri Reservoir for irrigation and drinking water supply. It will also act as lower reservoir for under construction Tehri PSP (1000 MW).

Union Cabinet approves MoU on between India and Portugal in field of IT&E

The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Portugal on cooperation in the field of IT&E. It will help in developing a long term and sustainable cooperation in the areas of IT&E on the basis of equality and mutual interest in line with each country’s laws and regulations.

Special Commemorative Postage Stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math released

Special Commemorative Postage Stamp marking 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a function in New Delhi. Yogoda Satsang Society of India was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1917. It is a non-profit religious organization. Outside the India, it is known as the Self-Realization Fellowship. The word Yogoda was coined by Paramahansa Yogananda. It is fusion of Yoga, union, harmony, equilibrium and da meaning “that which imparts”.

Cabinet approves MoU on Renewable Energy between India and Portugal

The Union Cabinet approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Portugal on Renewable Energy. The MoU was signed in January, 2017 in New Delhi. Under it, both countries aim to establish cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable issues on the basis of mutual benefit equality and reciprocity. It also envisages constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) which can co-opt other members from Scientific Institutions, Universities, Research Centres, or any other entity, as and when considered essential.

13th Executive Committee Meeting of International Smart Grid Action Network

The 13th Executive Committee (ExCo) Meeting of the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) was held at POWERGRID Corporate Centre, Gurugram. This was the first ever meeting of ISGAN held in India. It was hosted by the Union Ministry of Power. A total of 36 representatives from 18 countries participated in this event. ISGAN is an agreement under International Energy Agency (IEA). It consists of representatives from 25 countries across the globe including India which is one of its founding member. ISGAN provides mechanism for multilateral government-to-government (G2G) collaboration to advance the development and deployment of smarter electric grid technologies, practices and systems.

International Current affairs

China hikes defence budget to $152 billion

China has hiked its military spending by seven per cent to $152 billion (1.04 trillion yuan). It is three times higher than that of India’s defence budget of $53.5 billion. With this for the first time, China’s military spending crossed a trillion yuan. In 2016, China’s military spending was 954.35 billion yuan.

Banking, Business and Economy

Facebook launches SheLeadsTech to mentor women entrepreneurs

Social networking giant Facebook launched SheLeadsTech programme to nurture and mentor start-ups founded or co-founded by women. This programme will give start-ups founded/cofounded by women access to a year-long program that provides tools, mentorship and resources. Facebook is also running another programme She Means Business, which was launched on Women’s Day in 2016. It is running in six states since its launch and now Facebook plans to take it to eight more states, including Jammu and Kashmir for 2017. India is among the largest user base for Facebook and its affiliate WhatsApp. It contributes 168 million users to Facebook’s 1.86 billion global users, and 200 million to WhatsApp’s 1.2 billion monthly active users.

Finance Ministry gives in-principle nod to ESOPs by PSU banks

The Union Finance Ministry has given its in-principle approvals to public sector banks (PSBs) to offer Employee Stock Option plans (ESOPs) to their employees from FY 2017-18. This move aims at retaining experienced hands with better incentives. It will help PSBs to motivate employees to work towards strengthening the financial status of their banks so that their share value rises. This decision was based on the suggestion of Banks Board Bureau (BBB) headed by Former CAG Vinod Rai. Apart from ESOPs, BBB also had suggested bonuses and other performance-linked packages. ESOPs are common in the private sector, where companies offer stocks to reward and retain key and top-performing employees. It also help in aligning the interests of the employees with those of shareholders.

HDFC Bank launches India’s first Artificial Intelligence driven chatbot EVA

HDFC Bank launched electronic virtual assistant (EVA), India’s first artificial intelligence-driven banking chatbot, for customer services. It can answer millions of customer queries across multiple channels instantly. It can assimilate knowledge from thousands of sources and provide answers in simple language in less than 0.4 seconds. Since its launch Eva has answered over 1 lakh queries from thousands of customers from 17 countries across the world.  The system becomes smarter as it learns through its customer interactions.

Environment Current Affairs

45% of country’s bird species found in Himachal Pradesh: Great Backyard Bird Count

According to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2017, 45% of country’s bird species are found in Himachal Pradesh. As per data total 564 bird species are found in Himachal Pradesh of the 1,263 species found in whole country. GBBC 2017 had engaged bird watchers from the general public in counting birds. It was coordinated by the Bird Count India Partnership, a coming-together of number of Indian groups and organization that are interested in birds, nature and conservation.

Persons in News

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray passes away

Noted socialist leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Rabi Ray passed away. He was 91. He had served as the Union minister of health and family welfare in the Morarji Desai led Government from January 1979 to January 1980. He was the speaker of ninth Lok Sabha from 1989-1991. In 1991, he was re-elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from Kendrapada in Odisha. He was also a former chairman of Common Wealth Speakers Forum. He was born on November 26, 1926 at Bhanragarh village in Khurda district of Odisha.

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