06 Jan, 2018
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1) The Union Cabinet on 4 January 2018 approved the construction of which tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir that will be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel? – Zojila Pass tunnel
Explanation: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the construction of Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel – the Zojila Pass tunnel, which will reduce the travel time on the Zojila pass patch between Srinagar and Leh to 15 minutes from the current 3.5 hours.
– The CCEA, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 January 2018, gave its approval to the construction, operation and maintenance of this 14.15 km long 2-lane bi-directional tunnel on Srinagar-Leh section that will connect NH-1A at Km 95 and at Km 118.
– The construction of the tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
– The construction period of the project is seven years which shall be reckoned from the date of commencement of construction. The civil construction cost of the project is Rs. 4,899.42 crore. The total capital cost of the project is Rs. 6,808.69 crore.
2) The Parliament on 2 January 2018 passed the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017. What are the main objectives of this Bill? – Increase the authorized capital of NABARD by Rs. 30,000 crore and enable exit of RBI from it
Explanation: National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the bill to increase authorised capital of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) by six times to Rs. 30,000 crore and enable exit of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was passed by Parliament on 2 January 2018.
– The bill was passed on this day by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha while it was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.
– At present the authorised capital of NABARD is Rs. 5,000 crore. With this bill RBI’s 0.4% equity in NABARD will be transferred to the centre and as a result, 100% equity will come to the government.
3) Which country became the first to implement a law that makes it illegal to women less than men? – Iceland
Explanation: on 1 January 2018 Iceland became the first country in the world to take the fight against the gender pay gap as in implemented a law that makes it illegal to women less than men. Under this law the employers in Iceland now have to prove that they pay men and women in the same jobs equally. If they fail to do so, they risk being fined.
– The law applies to all companies and organizations with at least 25 full-time employees. Firms with more than 250 employees will have to get the certification by the end of this year, while smaller companies will follow in the next few years, according to their size.
– It is worth mentioning that discrimination based on gender is already illegal in many countries – but research shows the legislation is far from effective. Women are paid less than men in every country in the world, according to research by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
4) According to Central Statistics Office’s (CSO’s) first advance estimate for India’s GDP growth rate in 2017-18, what will be the growth rate for Indian economy during 2017-18? – 6.5%
Explanation: The first advance estimate data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on 4 January 2018 disclosed that the Indian economy is expected to decelerate to 6.5% in 2017-18 from 7.1% in the previous year. This will be the slowest GDP growth rate in last 4 years.
– The CSO data showed that the agriculture sector is expected to grow at 2.1% in FY18, slower than 4.9% in the previous year, while manufacturing is likely to grow at 4.6%, compared with 7.9% a year ago. Electricity and trade, hotels sectors are the only sectors that will grow at a faster rate of 7.5% and 8.7% in FY18 than in FY17.
– The nominal GDP, or gross domestic product at market prices, is expected to grow at 9.5% against 11.75% assumed in the 2017-18 budget presented last year.
5) Who was appointed the new Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) of India on 2 January 2018? – Rajinder Khanna
Explanation: Rajinder Khanna, a former chief of the country’s external intelligence agency RAW, was appointed the Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) by the Union Government on 2 January 2018. The post was lying vacant since Arvind Gupta, a former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, completed his tenure in August last year. Gupta was appointed to the post in August 2014.
– Khanna headed the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) from December 2014 for a fixed two-year period. He is a 1978 batch Research and Analysis Wing Service (RAS) officer and has supervised several counter-terrorism operations and is considered an expert on Pakistan and Islamic terrorism.
– The National Security Council, headed by the Prime Minister, is the top body on all internal and external security-related matters. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is its secretary.
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