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Evening News Digest: 17 January 2018

Centre suspends Haj subsidy from this year

  • Central government announced that it will scrap the Haj subsidy for pilgrims and the fund will instead be used for the empowerment of minorities and education for girls from this year onwards.
  • It is part of the Modi government’s efforts to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement. A new Haj policy, formulated by a committee headed by former bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah had also suggested that women Hajis be allowed to perform the pilgrimage without male escort, or mehram.
  • A bilateral agreement was signed in connection with Haj 2018 during the meeting between Naqvi and Saudi Arabia's Haj and Umrah Minister Muhammad Benten.

Industrial development scheme in J&K announced

  • Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu announced an exclusive industrial development scheme that will help to expand and promote business activities in the state.
  • Under the scheme, central capital investment subsidy of 30 per cent would be provided for plant and machinery and buildings for hotels. It is or the first time that such benefits are being extended to the services sector. Further three per cent interest subsidy for five years and 100 per cent insurance subsidy under the scheme.
  • Under the new scheme, the government has already increased allowance for legislators from Rs 2000 to Rs 3000 per sitting. To bring more beneficiaries under the ambit of various social security schemes, additional funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore each would be added to the existing corpus for Old Age and Widow Pension schemes.
  • A provision of Rs 5 crore for interest subvention for business start-up ventures by SC and ST entrepreneurs would be there. Moreover, Members not availing the car loan facility can utilise the amount for availing home loan up to Rs 20 lakh.

DAC nod to procurement of assault rifles, carbines worth Rs 3,547 cr

  • Defence Acquisition Council has cleared procurement of more than 72 thousand assault rifles and nearly 94 thousand carbines on a fast track basis to meet the immediate requirement of the troops deployed along the borders.
  • The procurement is expected to address the shortage of small arms for the armed forces. The procurement involves expenditure of more than three thousand crore rupees. The DAC also simplified the procedure to make it industry friendly, with minimal government control.
  • The revised procedure will now allow Ministry of Defence to accept suo moto proposals from the industry and also allow start-ups to develop equipment for armed forces.

3rd edition of geo-political conference, Raisina Dialogue inaugurated

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated the third edition of the geo-political conference – Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi on 16 January 2018.  The event is being jointly organised by the External Affairs Ministry and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
  • Theme: The theme of the Raisina Dialogue for this year is Managing Disruptive Transitions - Ideas, Institutions and Idioms.
  • This is the first time when any foreign head of state has participated in this dialogue. The three day conference will brainstorm on several challenges and various strategic issues including that of cyber security. The Summit is seeing the participation of over 150 speakers and 550 representatives from 90 countries.

PM Modi launches work commencement of Rajasthan refinery

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the commencement of work of an oil refinery in Rajasthan's Barmer district.
  • The Rajasthan refinery will be the first in the state, which is blessed with immense oil and gas reserves. This refinery will benefit Rajasthan, especially the industrious youth of the state. .T
  • The project will strengthen the economic foundations of the state. It is Rajasthan's only refinery and involves an investment of over Rs 43,000 crore.

Healthurium unveils block chain based technology to improve medical care

  • Estonia-based Healthureum has announced a Blockchain-based 360-degree ecosystem for administering medical care in a reliable manner.
  • Aim: It is aimed to reduce inefficiencies in operations, resources, data, drug sourcing and technology. Healthureum will also be operational in India.
  • Healthureum: Healthureum combines blockchain and healthcare -- designed on the Ethereum-based blockchain using smart contract technology to improve efficiency and interoperability of healthcare services.
  • With the help of Blockchain, it will be easier to track the transaction nodes between the key participants like drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists, medical representatives, thus securing the product information.
  • Similar to Bitcoin and Ethreum, Healthureum is offering its own token “HHEM” for consumers, institutions and businesses to pay for the Healthureum services. Healthureum will have its first Token generation event on Feburary 10.

President to confer Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for 2016

  • The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind will confer the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for 2016 to an eminent group of musicians, dancers, and theatre artists at a ceremony to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on 17 January 2018.
  • Four eminent artists and scholars in the performing arts will be conferred Fellowships of the Akademi and 43 artists will receive the Akademis Awards. The ultimate aim of the activity is to create benchmarks in the practice of the performing arts.
  • Nature of the Award: The Four eminent artists will receive a purse of three lakh rupees, an angavastram, and a tamrapatra. The artists to be honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for 2016 receive one lakh rupees, an angavastram, and a tamrapatra.
  • Pappu Venugopal Rao and Avinash Pasricha received the Akademis Award for their overall contribution in the performing Arts.

Centre launches Operation Digital Board

  • The Union human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar, announced that the Centre, along with all the states in the country has passed a resolution to launch “Operation digital or white board” in the schools across India.
  • The resolution was passed in the 65th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education, the apex advisory body on education.  Further, the recommendations provided including, Aadhaar cards to all out of school children and introduce pre-primary education in government schools.
  • Among the draft recommendations, the committee suggested a residential, English medium, CBSE school for girls on lines of Navodaya Vidyalayas in each district; extension of mid-day meal support upto Class XII; free education upto PG level; residential degree colleges and polytechnics for women in district headquarters; and an exclusive women university in each state.

World’s fifth largest diamond unveiled in Lesotho

  • A 910-carat diamond, which is believed to be the world’s fifth largest diamond, has been unearthed in Lesotho. The stone was discovered in Letseng mine by Gem Diamonds.
  • The diamond is estimated to be worth at much as $40 million. The company described the diamond, which is the size of two golf balls, as being of 'exceptional quality'.
  • Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letseng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world’s most remarkable diamonds, including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise.

India to host Afghanistan's maiden Test in June 2018

  • India will host Afghanistan in their debut Test from June 14-18 in Bengaluru. BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said that several factors had been taken into consideration before deciding the venue for the historic match.
  • Considering all factors, Bengaluru was the best choice. India and Afghanistan have been traditional friends for ages. It was only in the fitness of things that Afghanistan opened their international innings in India.
  • Named the Indo-Afghanistan Friendship Series, the one-off Test will be held within three weeks of this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) final and ahead of India's tour of England.
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