Current Affairs 2017 - April

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Sagar Baheti: India’s first visually impaired athlete to complete Boston Marathon

Sagar Baheti has become the first visually impaired Indian runner to complete the historic Boston Marathon. Bengaluru-based 31 years old Baheti completed a distance of 42.16 km distance in just over four hours. Supported by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), Baheti finished the 121st Boston Marathon as one of 30,000 runners. The 2017 Boston Marathon has been recorded as the second hottest marathon in a decade.

Baheti, a businessman by profession was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, a type of macular degeneration that eventually leads to blindness, in 2013. With his participation in the marathon, Baheti expects to raise $10,000 for MABVI, an organization that supports visually impaired persons by providing advanced low-vision devices.

Boston Marathon

Historic Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest, most competitive and the hardest marathon to qualify for. It is an annual event hosted in several cities in greater Boston, United States. It is always held on the third Monday of April. It is one of the six Marathon Majors held throughout the world.

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President inaugurates Global Exhibition on Services (GES-2017)

President has inaugurated Global Exhibition on Services (GES-2017) that is set to highlight India’s potential to boost its services exports across sectors at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida. The event has been organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry together with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Services Export Promotion Council. This is the 3rd edition of GES and the earlier editions were held in 2015 and 2016. This edition is set to see the participation of over 70 countries and comes in the backdrop of increased focus on services trade and India’s submission to the World Trade Organisation on trade facilitation in services.

The main focus of the event will be on 20 services sectors, including information technology, tourism and hospitality, logistics, education and financial services.

This year, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will showcase its offering of application of space technology on a real-time basis for implementing and monitoring of public programmes. Besides, the Ministry of Tourism will host Incredible India Haat, a cuisine, culture and handicrafts show.

Objectives

  • Position India as a leader in the services sector
  • Tap potential for exports in the services sector
  • Draw investments into the country in the services sector

Service sector

India’s services exports stood at $146.5 billion in the first 11 months of 2016-17, growing at 3 per cent. It has witnessed a surplus of $59 billion in April-February 2016-17. In India, IT and software services accounted for over 48% of overall services exports. As per provisional estimates released by RBI, the service export touched US $ 80 billion as against US $ 77 billion in the time period from April to September 2016, a rise of almost 4%. A strong services sector backed by a manufacturing sector is expected to play a pivotal role in the growth of Indian economy.

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Australia abolishes 457 Visa Programme largely used by Indians

Australia has abolished the 457 Visa Programme used by thousands of temporary foreign workers, a majority of them Indians to address growing unemployment in that country. Instead, Australia wants to adopt ‘Australians first’ approach to skilled migration.

Since access to the skills is important for the growth and investment of that country’s businesses, it intends to replace the 457 visa programme by another visa programme, with new restrictions. The new temporary visa will be designed in such a way it will help in recruiting the best and brightest to fill critical skill gaps in the interest of that nation. The new visa will ensure that foreign workers are not brought into Australia just because it is easy for the employers to recruit a foreign worker than go to the trouble of hiring an Australian.

There are about 95,757 workers in Australia on primary 457 visa programme. Worryingly, the majority of the visa holders are from India followed by the UK and China. This announcement has come days after Prime Minister Turnbull visited India where a range of issues, including national security, counter-terrorism, education and energy, were discussed. Totally, six agreements were signed during his visit.

457 Visa

The 457 visa allows Australian employers to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there is a shortage of Australian workers. The visa holders are eligible to bring family members, who have unrestricted work and study rights in Australia. The visa was introduced during the tenure of Prime Minister John Howard in 1996.

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