1-5 November 2017 Current Affairs

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05 Nov, 2017

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1) What is India’s rank in the latest ease of doing business ranking by the World Bank, in its Doing Business 2018 report, that was released on 31 October 2017? – 100 among 190 countries

Explanation: India climbed 30 positions in the latest ease of doing business ranking by the World Bank, in its Doing Business 2018 report. The report ranks India at 100 among 190 countries. Last year, India was ranked 130.

India’s upward jump in ranking is based on the underlying improvement in the distance to frontier (DTF) score – an absolute measure of progress towards the best practice – in the report. India recorded the fifth highest change in DTF score and found a place for the first time in the top ten economies improving the most in a given year, in the report which is into its 15th edition.

New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark retained their first, second and third spots. Russia, at 35 is the best among BRICS countries; while Brazil is now the last. India used to be the last among the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – countries in the ranking, but now it has overtaken Brazil in the list.  China maintained the same ranking it had last year, at 78.

The ease of doing business ranking compares economies with one another; the DTF score benchmarks economies with respect to regulatory best practice.

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2) In a bid to push consolidation among state run banks, the Union Government on 1 November 2017 announced constitution of an Alternative Mechanism that may also direct banks to examine proposals for amalgamation. Who is heading this mechanism? – Arun Jaitley

Explanation: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is heading the newly constituted Alternative Mechanism that was constituted by the Union Government on 1 November 2017 to push the process of consolidation of public sector banks. The other members of the panel include Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The proposals received from banks for in-principle approval to formulate schemes of amalgamation will be placed before the alternative mechanism. A Report on the proposals cleared by alternative mechanism will be sent to the cabinet every three months.

The alternative mechanism will also receive inputs from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) before according in-principle approval. In August, the cabinet had given its approval for an alternative mechanism, comprising a panel of ministers, for in-principle approvals to merger proposals.

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3) Who was chosen for the Jnanpith Award for 2017, as announced on 3 November 2017? – Krishna Sobti

Explanation: Renowned Hindi littérateur Krishna Sobti has been chosen for country’s most prestigious literary award – the Jnanpith Award (for 2017). This was announced by the Jnanpith Selection Board on 3 November 2017. The board is chaired by noted scholar, writer and critic Namwar Singh. It will be the 53rd edition of this prestigious prize.

92 year old Sobti is known for experimenting with new writing styles and creating “bold” and “daring” characters in her stories who were ready to accept all challenges. Her language is highly influenced by the intermingling of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi cultures.

Some of her celebrated works include ‘Daar Se Bichhudi’, ‘Mitro Marjani’, ‘Zindaginama’, ‘Dil-o-Danish’, ‘Badalom ke Ghere’, ‘Ai Ladki’ and ‘Gujarat Pakistan Se Gujarat Hindustan’.

The Jnanpith Award is presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their “outstanding contribution towards literature”. Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral. It carries a cash prize of Rs. 11 lakh and a statue of Saraswati.

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4) According to the findings of the first-ever gender vulnerability index (GVI) commissioned by the Women and Child Development Ministry, which state is the safest state to be a woman in India? – Goa

Explanation: The safest state to be a woman in India is Goa, followed by Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim and Manipur. This was disclosed in the first-ever Gender Vulnerability Index (GVI) that was prepared by Plan India and released by the women and child development ministry on 1 November 2017.

States where women and girls are the most vulnerable are Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and Delhi.

The index puts Goa on top with a GVI of 0.656, more than the national average of 0.5314. The index scores are on a scale of zero to one. The closer the score is to one, the better the performance. Goa also ranks first in protection, fifth in education, sixth in health and survival, and eighth in poverty.

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5) Who was nominated to chair the US Federal Reserve by President Donald Trump on 2 November 2017 to replace Janet L. Yellen? – Jerome H. Powell

Explanation: President Donald Trump on 2 November 2017 nominated Jerome H. Powell to chair the Federal Reserve, thus bypassing Janet L. Yellen for a second term. In replacing Yellen, the President is breaking with precedent. The previous three Fed chairs were reappointed, in each case by a president of the opposite political party.

Powell is a Republican with strong roots in the party’s establishment and in the financial industry, a lawyer by training and investment banker by trade. As Fed chair, he would be the voice of an institution that is charged with keeping the economy on track by adjusting interest rates that influence the decisions of millions of Americans.

According to a section of US media, Powell lacks the deep background in economics of some of his predecessors, and he has expressed skepticism in the past about the unconventional measures that the Fed took after the recession.

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6) The Union Government on 3 November 2017 made it mandatory for all new four-wheelers to have FASTag devices fixed on front windscreens by which date? – 1 December 2017

Explanation: In line with the promise of promoting digital India and enabling hassle-free transportation, the Centre has made it mandatory for all new four-wheelers to have FASTag devices fixed on front windscreens by automobile manufacturers or authorised dealers. This comes into force from 1 December 2017.

FASTag is a device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to it. It is affixed on the windscreen of a vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without stopping for payment. NHAI has also rolled out dedicated FASTag lanes at toll booths.

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