Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - December 21, 2017


DHANRAJ BHAGAT - 100th Birth Anniversary

  • An exhibition entitled ‘The 100th Birth Anniversary Exhibition and Celebration: DHANRAJ BHAGAT (1917-1988).’ has begun in National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi today.
  • The exhibition intends to acquaint the public with more than 400 works of Dhanraj Bhagat on the theme of ‘Journey from the Physical to the Spiritual’.
  • The exhibition will be on displayed till 20th February 2018
  • Eminent sculptor Padmashri Dhanraj Bhagat was born in 1917 in Lahore.
  • He is undoubtedly one of the major sculptors in the Indian modern art movement.
  • He studied at the National College of Arts (formerly known as Mayo School of Art), Lahore, securing a diploma in sculpture.
  • He started his career as a faculty at the College of Art, New Delhi in 1947 and rose to the position of the head of the Sculpture Department and from where he retired in 1977.
  • The unique style, which he perfected over the years, illustrates an amalgamation of national heritage and western artistic ideas and traditions.
  • This reflects in his use of geometric shapes and colours.
  • He experimented in several mediums such as wood, metal, terracotta, plaster of paris, paper pulp, stone, fiber glass etc.
  • During the last years of his life, when he was too weak to sculpting, Bhagat produced a portfolio of drawings that also reflects his distinctive artistic vocabulary and it forms a major repository of this exhibition, celebrating the artist’s 100 year birth centenary at the NGMA, New Delhi.


Indian Navy Conducts Exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr with Oman Navy

  • Indian Naval Ships Trikand and Teg are deployed to Oman for bilateral exercise ‘Naseem Al Bahr’ or ‘Sea Breeze’.
  • This exercise is the 11th edition and has been a biennial feature since 1993.
  • The Indian ships entered Muscat on 16 Dec 17 for the harbour phase.
  • Delegations from Royal Navy of Oman embarked Indian Naval Ship Teg on 18 Dec 17 for briefing on basic Anti-submarine warfare procedures.
  • The Indian Navy ships along with four Royal Navy of Oman ships Al Rasikh, Khassab, Al Mubashir and Al Bushra sailed for the sea phase of the exercise where, for the first time, an Indian Navy submarine as well as the versatile P8I, long range maritime aircraft are participating.
  • India has an ancient maritime tradition and maritime interaction with Oman dates back to over 4000 years B.C.
  • Bilateral relation between Indian and Oman were formally established with signing of a 1953 Indo-Oman Treaty of friendship, Navigation and Commerce, a first between India and an Arab country.
  • Since then, Naval exercises have contributed to strengthening of bilateral ties between India and Sultanate of Oman.
  • The first exercise Indian Navy with Royal Navy of Oman was conducted in 1993 and this year marks 24 years of Indian Navy -Royal Navy of Oman bilateral exercises.
  • The signing of an MoU on Defence Cooperation in Dec 2005 and subsequent establishment of the Joint Military Cooperation in Mar 2006 has set the foundation for increased defence cooperation.
  • The naval cooperation between the countries has gradually increased in scope and scale.

State Specific

SWest Bengal govt to use blockchain technology to protect online records
Blockchain technology to protect documents from cyber attacks

  • The West Bengal government is planning to introduce the blockchain technology to protect its documents from cyber attacks
  • Earlier this year, computers at some offices of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited were crippled by ‘WannaCry’ virus, a global ransomware

Wannacry Ransomware attack

  • It infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service
  • The WannaCry attack struck more than 150 nations in May, locking up digital documents, databases and other files and demanding a ransom for their release
  • The WannaCry ransomware exploited a vulnerability in mostly older versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system
  • Security experts traced the exploitation of that weakness back to the U.S. National Security Agency; it was part of a cache of stolen NSA cyberweapons publicly released by a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers


Losar Festival

  • The traditional festival of Losar was celebrated in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir to mark the beginning of New Year in this Himalayan region.
  • The 10 day long festival began with illumination of religious and residential places and by visiting monasteries for prayer.

Enlighten about Losar festival

  • The Losar festival marks the beginning of New year in Ladakh and Tibet region and falls in December.
  • Losar is Tibetan word for ‘new year’.
  • It is considered to be the most important festival of the region.
  • It is an important social and religious celebration in Ladakh.
  • Ladakhi Buddhists make religious offering before their deities in the domestic shrines or in the Gompas.
  • A medley of cultural events, ancient rituals and also traditional performances are performed during this festival.
  • There is blaring music events accompanied with dancing and celebration, dinner with relatives.
  • Houses are decorated with good luck signs. Prayer flags are hoisted in important religious places to welcome the new year.

International Bodies

India to host meeting of WTO member countries on food security and other issues

  • India is planning to host meeting of World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries in February 2018 to muster support for food security and other issues.
  • It was announced by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu while speaking at event organised by Apparel Export Promotion Council, AEPC in New Delhi.

Enlighten about the meeting –

  • The proposed meeting will be in backdrop of developed nations forming groupings to prepare ground for pushing new issues i.e. investment facilitation, preparing rules for e- commerce, promoting gender equality and reducing subsidy on fisheries with view to curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
  • India has been keenly pushing agriculture issues at WTO.
  • It has also been raising its voice against bringing new issues, especially those which are not directly linked to trade, on the negotiating table.
  • The meeting will help to multi-lateral process.


Government signs MoU with Maruti Suzuki to support Skill India in automobile industry –

  • The Union Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Maruti Suzuki India Limited have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support Skill India Mission in automobile industry.
  • The Flexi MoU aims to provide high employment potential trades related to automobile and manufacturing industry to youth under Skill India Mission.

Enlighten about the MoU

  • As per MoU, Maruti Suzuki in consultation with Director General of Training (DGT), under Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship will develop specific training modules as per need of the automobile industry.
  • The company will conduct courses at pan-India locations leveraging facilities and services available at ITIs, training centers of training partners, regional training centers, vendors and dealers associated with Maruti Suzuki.
  • The courses offered will include Manufacturing, Automotive Body Repair, Automotive Service & Repair and Automotive Paint Repair. Maruti Suzuki will also identify new courses as per needs of automobile value chain.
  • All these courses will be approved by NCVT (National Council for Vocational Training) and it will award certificates to all candidates after completion of the course.

BBIN motor pact

  • Pending ratification from Bhutan, India plans to operationalise BBIN motor vehicle agreement (MVA) with Bangladesh and Nepal for seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles.

Enlighten about BBIN

  • India in June 2015 had signed the major sub-regional transport project, Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), for the seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles among them.
  • However, Bhutan could not get public and parliamentary support for it. However, Bhutan has suggested that Bangladesh, India and Nepal may consider the implementation of the MVA.
  • The four SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries had in June 2015 signed the Motor Vehicle Agreement.
  • The pact aims at allowing motor vehicles of all categories registered in three countries to move freely in the region.
  • The pact aims to realise the ultimate objective of free movement of people and goods in the region and said that this would be supplemented through the building and upgrading roads, railways and waterways infrastructure.


The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017, has been introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Bill will allow it to notify a higher period of maternity leave and raise gratuity limit for employees.

Enlighten about Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017

  • According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill, the amendment would allow the central government to notify the maternity leave period for “female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of existing twelve weeks”.
  • It has also been proposed to empower the central government to notify the ceiling proposed, instead of amending the said Act, so that the limit can be revised from time to time keeping in view the increase in wage and inflation, and future Pay Commissions.

The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972

  • It applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons.
  • The main purpose for enacting this Act is to provide social security to workmen after retirement, whether retirement is a result of the rules of superannuation, or physical disablement or impairment of vital part of the body.
  • Therefore, the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is an important social security legislation to wage earning population in industries, factories and establishments.


  • The Uttar Pradesh government has approved the draft of a bill to enact the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Act (UPCOCA) on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) to combat land mafia, mining mafia and organised crime in the state.
  • The Bill seeks to check to check organised and white-collar crime.

Enlighten about the bill –

  • Organised crime has been defined in detail in the (draft) bill.
  • Kidnapping for ransom, illegal mining, manufacturing illicit liquor and its sale, acquiring contracts on the basis of muscle power, organised exploitation of forest produce, trade in wildlife, fake medicines, grabbing of government and private properties, and ‘rangdari’ (extortion) will come under the ambit of the new law.
  • Arrangements have also been made to check the misuse of the bill and that cases under it will be filed only on the recommendations of the committee of divisional commissioner and range deputy inspector general of police.
  • The permission of the zonal inspector general of police will be required before filing of charge sheet after thorough inquiry.
  • It has also been proposed that properties amassed through organised crime would be taken over by the government with the permission of the court during the course of investigation to check criminal elements from taking advantage of it.
  • The property will be confiscated by the state government after conviction.
  • Special courts will be constituted for hearing of cases lodged under the provisions of this bill and a “state-level organised crime control authority” has been proposed to monitor gangs involved in organised crime.
  • The state level authority will be headed by the principal secretary for Home.
  • This authority will either take cognisance on its own or on a complaint.
  • It will probe the activities of organised gangs and will be entitled to examine any government file related to the case.
  • There is also a provision to form district level organised crime control authorities, which will be led by district magistrates.
  • They can recommend cases to the state level authority after thorough probe.
  • The draft bill also proposes a tribunal led by a retired high court judge for appealing against it, and will have a principal secretary and an official of DGP rank as its members.
  • Anyone can appeal against the decision of the authority in this tribunal.
  • Those found involved in organised crime and having security will no longer be extended government protection and all white-collar criminals will be treated as such.

IIM Bill - bill granted by IIM

  • IIM Bill, 2017 passed
  • Parliament has unanimously passed a Bill to grant the Indian Institutes of Management the power to grant degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas
  • The Bill also allows students to acquire doctoral degrees from the IIMs

Doctoral degrees

  • Earlier, fellowships of the IIMs were not regarded as Ph.D.s, which led students to complete their diplomas and go abroad if they wanted to earn a doctoral degree
  • The passage of this Bill will pave the way for more research at these prestigious institutions

Administrative changes

  • The Bill also confers on the 20 IIMs the status of institutions of national importance, granting them greater functional autonomy by restricting the role of the government in them
  • As per the IIM Bill, 2017, a Board of Governors will appoint the Director of each IIM
  • A search-cum-selection-committee will recommend the names and the director will be eligible for variable pay as determined by the Board