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Evening News Digest: 24 May 2018 (Including PDF)

Cabinet approves provision of mobile connectivity in Left Wing Extremism Areas

  • The Cabinet Committee has approved the Home Ministry’s proposal of setting up 4,072 mobile towers, to improve the telecom network in 96 districts of the 10 Naxal affected States at a total cost of Rs 7,330 crore.
  • It will give impetus to the e-Governance activities in the backward and LWE affected area with the availability of digital mobile connectivity.
  • This is second phase of the mobile device connectivity in which there is upgradation from 2G to 4G network.
  • These mobile towers in Left Wing Extremism-affected areas will be set up by using the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund: The New Telecom Policy - 1999 (NTP'99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a 'Universal Access Levy (UAL)', which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses.
  • Red Corridor: The Red Corridor is the region in the eastern, central and the southern parts of India that experience considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency. It spread across 10 states.

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Cabinet approves USOF scheme for provision of mobile services in Meghalaya

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved Implementation of a Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for the North Eastern Region (NER) in Meghalaya at a total estimated project cost of Rs. 3911 crore.
  • This will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and approval of the enhanced cost of CTDP Project for NER for an amount of Rs. 8120.81 crore
  • Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP): the CTDP entails (i) Provision of 2G+4G mobile coverage in identified uncovered areas of Meghalaya; and (ii) Provision of 2G+4G seamless mobile coverage along the National Highways in Meghalaya.

Indo-Dutch Startup Initiative: #StartUpLink to be Launched

  • In an endeavor to further the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, Invest India and the Dutch Government are jointly launching the Indo-Dutch #StartUpLink initiative.
  • Invest India is the host to the Govt. of India’s initiative, ‘Startup India’ under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The official launch will take place on 25th May, 2018 at Taj West End Hotel, Bengaluru.
  • With the upcoming visit of the Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte to India, Indo-Dutch ties across sectors are all set to get a major boost.
  • The focus area of the initiative will be on creating a Clean air India ring, which is an important link of Indo-Dutch startup.

India launches an international incubator for clean energy innovators in Mission Innovation (MI3)

  • High level delegates from 23 economies, including India, and the European Commission converged at Malmo, Sweden for the 3rd Mission Innovation Ministerial from 22-23 May, 2018. 
  • Indian delegation was led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences.
  • During the meeting, India announced setting up of First International Incubator for clean energy in public-private partnership at a total investment of around US $ 5 million in Delhi. 
  • Mission Innovation: On November 30, 2015, Leader of 20 countries came together to launch Mission Innovation (MI), a landmark 5-year commitment to accelerate the pace of innovation and make clean energy widely affordable and accessible worldwide. MI now comprises 23 economies and the European Commission.

India lodges complaint against US Steel & Aluminium tariffs with WTO

  • India has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the US’ tariffs on steel and aluminium imports citing inconsistency with global trade norms.
  • The US duties of 25% and 10% on imports of steel and aluminium products respectively, are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and of the Agreement on Safeguards in the request for dispute consultations.
  • The Donald Trump administration imposed 25% and 10% of additional import duty on certain steel products and aluminum products respectively from all countries except Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, South Korea, Brazil and the European Union, which took effect from March 23, 2018. 
  • The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.

NITI Aayog, ABB India sign pact to benefit India from AI, robotics

  • ABB India and Niti Aayog on May 23, 2018 inked a pact to help the country reap the benefits of latest technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • The initiative also covers the fast-growing segment of electric mobility. Niti Aayog and ABB will work with government ministries, solicit feedback for areas critical to them.
  • ABB is a Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, operating mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipments, and automation technology areas.

India ranked 44th rank in IMD's competitiveness rankings

  • India has moved one notch higher, to the 44th place in terms of competitiveness, in the 30th edition of annual rankings compiled by International Institute for Management Development (IMD) which placed the US in the top slot 
  • The US became the most competitive economy globally driven by its strength in economic performance and infrastructure, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore in the second and third place, respectively. 
  • China (13th) continued with its steady rise in rankings over the past five years, climbing 10 spots since 2014, fuelled by a strong economic performance of its domestic market and workforce employment.
  • The IMD World Competitiveness Center, a research group at IMD business school in Switzerland, has published the rankings every year since 1989. This year 63 countries are ranked with Cyprus and Saudi Arabia making their first appearance. 

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US disinvites China from RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) exercise over South China Sea

  • The United States (US) has disinvited China from an international military exercise over its militarization of islands in the South China Sea.
  • The biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, is set to occur in June 2018 and involves more than two-dozen nations. It is the largest naval drill in the world
  • China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea. China's landing of [H-6K] bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions.

AB de Villiers announces retirement from all forms of cricket

  • AB de Villiers announced that he has decided to retire from all forms of international cricket with immediate effect.
  • De Villiers has played 114 Tests, 228 ODIs and 78 T20 Internationals for South Africa.
  • The 34-year-old ends his international career with 9,577 ODI runs, 8,765 Test runs – averaging over 50 in both – and with 1672 runs in T20 Internationals.
  • He is known as Mr 360 degrees for his amazing ability to improvise and play shots to all corners of the park.
  • He holds the record for the fastest 50 (16-ball), 100 (31-ball) and 150 in ODI history. He is the only batsman to average 50-plus in ODIs in seven straight calendar years from 2009 to 2015.
  • He is one of only two batsmen to score 5,000-plus runs at 50-plus average in both Tests and ODIs — the other being Virat Kohli.

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