Current Affairs Questions & Answers - Sep 13, 2017

1)   Who has won the Balzan Prizes for 2017?

a. Bina Agarwal
b. James Allison
c. Robert Schreiber
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: All of the above

Two US scientists whose work has contributed to creating immunological treatments for cancer are among the winners of this year’s Balzan Prizes, recognising scholarly and scientific achievements.

Another winner is economist Bina Agarwal, a professor at the University of Manchester, who was recognised in the gender studies category for her “heroic” work studying women’s contributions to agriculture in India.

James Allison of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Robert Schreiber of the Washington University School of Medicine were cited for their work on antibody treatments that has increased the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.

The Balzan Foundation awards two prizes in the sciences and two in the humanities each year, rotating specialities to highlight new or emerging areas of research and sustain fields that might be overlooked elsewhere.

Recipients receive 750,000 Swiss francs (₹5 crore), half of which must be used for research, preferably by young scholars or scientists.

Nobel Prize-winner Jules Hoffman, a presenter of the awards, said the work focusing on using the immune system to fight cancer, expanding from the traditional treatments of removal, radiation and chemotherapy, has already had success in 25 to 30% of melanoma patients.

2)   Turkey signed a deal with Russia to initiate its first major weapons purchase from Moscow for which defence system?

a. S-400 missile defence systems
b. S-500 missile defence systems
c. S-600 missile defence systems
d. S-700 missile defence systems
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: S-400 missile defence systems

Turkey has signed a deal with Russia to buy S-400 missile defence systems, its first major weapons purchase from Moscow, in an accord that could trouble Ankara's NATO allies.

The purchase of the surface-to-air missile defence batteries, Ankara's most significant deal with a non-NATO supplier, comes with Turkey in the throes of a crisis in relations with several Western states
Moscow also confirmed the accord, with Vladimir Kozhin, Mr. Putin's adviser for military and technical cooperation, saying the contract has been signed and is being prepared for implementation

The purchase of the missile systems from a non-NATO supplier is likely to raise concerns in the West over their technical compatibility with the alliance's equipment.

Turkey - which has the second largest standing Army in NATO after the United States - was free to make military acquisitions based on its defence needs.

Moscow would extend a credit to Turkey for the purchase of the weapons.

However signing the deal does not mean that delivery is imminent, with Russia facing a high demand for the S-400s from its own armed forces and key clients like China and India.

Some analysts have suggested the message sent to the West by the military cooperation between Moscow and Ankara is as important as the delivery itself.

In 2015, Turkey scrapped a $3.4 billion deal with China to build its first anti-missile system.

Russia's relations with NATO have been in crisis over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and for backing pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has currently troubled ties with the United States over a number of issues including Washington's support for the People's Protection Units (YPG) Syrian Kurd militia which Ankara considers a terror group.

3)   ECB had initiated Ogden rate changes which _____ the earnings of UK insurers.

a. Slashed
b. Lowered
c. Raised
d. a and b are the same
e. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: a and b are the same

Plans by the government to backtrack on the controversial Ogden rate changes, which have slashed the earnings of UK insurers, lifted heavily-exposed Direct Line on the FTSE 100.

The government said yesterday that if the rate, which concerns personal injury claims, were set today it would “fall within the range of 0pc to 1pc”.

This means smaller compensation claims for insurers to pay and higher earnings.

Insurers’ shares tumbled when the Government announced in February that the Ogden rate would drop to -0.75pc from 2.5pc with the fall forcing Direct Line to report significantly smaller profits and halve its dividend.

A broad-based rebound helped the wider FTSE 100 finish in positive territory for the first time this week, closing 42.85 points higher at 7396.98.

On the currency markets the pound’s stumble towards parity with the euro took further impetus after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi revealed that the Governing Council will make the “bulk” of its decisions on tapering its €60bn-a-month quantitative easing programme in October.

Despite Mr Draghi calling the euro's recent volatility and strength a "source of uncertainty", the currency pushed past $1.20 against the dollar.

The pound, meanwhile, retreated to back below €1.09, as it took another knock on its drift towards parity with the euro.

Elsewhere, the FTSE 100 snapped its losing streak and rose higher for the first time this week.

4)   How many districts grew pulses in 2016-2017 as against 2012-2013 according to the 4th Estimates?

a. 638 districts of 29 states
b. 538 districts of 29 states
c. 438 districts of 29 states
d. 338 districts of 29 states
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 638 districts of 29 states

The fourth Estimates has revealed record food grain production at 275.68 million tonnes comprising of 110.15 mn tonnes paddy, 98.38 mn tonnes wheat, 22.95 mn tonnes pulses and 44.19 mn tonnes coarse cereal.

Activities of NFSM, which are as follows, were also covered:

  • In 2016-17, 638 districts of 29 states grew pulses against 468 districts of 16 states in 2012-13.
  • Coarse cereals were included in 12th scheme. NFSM-coarse cereal is being implemented in 265 districts of 28 states since 2014-15
The council took following decisions at the NFSM meeting:
  • Allocation of additional funds to target pulse cultivation in the rice fallow areas of Eastern States; and allocate additional funds for the pulses & oilseeds cultivation to tackle wheat blast disease in the West Bengal.
  • Allocation of funds by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes for Frontline Demonstration of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals by various Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
  • Distribution of seeds mini kits and assistance to the central agencies for the production of certified seeds of pulses.
  • Experiment of TL seeds developed by the ICAR, under seed hub program during 2016-17 and their implementation during Frontline Demonstration in 2017-18.
  • Under NFSM pulse program, promotion of beekeeping with arhar dal during Frontline Demonstration.
  • Approval for extension of all the projects approved under NFSM till 2016-17.
  • Additional fund allocation for production of breeder seeds of pulses and creation of seed hubs.
  • Funds approved for the year 2015-16 agricultural awards.
  • Presentations by states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
    Increased expenditure has led to increase in production of the food grains.

5)   Where is India's first state of the art homeopathic virology lab located?

a. Kolkata
b. Pune
c. Chennai
d. Bengaluru
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Kolkata

The Union Minister of State for AYUSH (Independent Charge) Shri Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated India’s first State of art virology laboratory at Dr. Anjali Chatterjee Regional Research Institute for Homoeopathy in Kolkata today.

This laboratory has been established to develop new drugs and technologies in Homoeopathy to combat emerging challenges of viral diseases.

The laboratory, established at a cost of INR 8 crore is the only one in India for conducting basic and fundamental research in Homoeopathy for viral diseases like influenza, Japanese encephalitis, dengue, chickunguniya and swine flu.

New drugs and technologies would also be developed here to combat emerging challenges of viral diseases.

National Institute of Homeopathy (NIH), Kolkata is imparting higher education and training in homeopathy under the Ministry of AYUSH.

Additionally, there is a Centre of Excellence in Fundamental Research in Homoeopathy at IIEST, Howrah to undertake fundamental research studies in homoeopathy with an interdisciplinary approach.

This institute has undertaken several clinical research studies like autism, psoriasis, vitiligo, breast cancer, hypertension, migraine etc along with proving of new drugs in homoeopathy with their clinical validations.

About 400 patients are being treated daily through OPD services and AYUSH outreach services being provided in villages too.

6)   Which of the following MoUs was signed between India and Belarus in Sept 2017?

a. MoU for cooperation in agricultural research and education
b. Agreement on scientific cooperation between INSA and National Academy of Sciences of Belarus
c. Agreement on anti terrorist and anti trafficking measures
d. Only a and b
e. All the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Only a and b

List of MoUs/Agreements signed during State visit of President of Belarus to India

S.No.Name of the MOU/Agreement/Treaty
1Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus
2Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of the Government of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Education of the Government of the Republic of Belarus for Cooperation in the Field of Vocational Education and Training
3Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus
4MoU between Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India and Belarusian State Agricultural Academy, Gorki, Belarus for Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Education
5Protocol amending the Agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Belarus signed on April 16, 2007
6Programme of cooperation between the Government of Republic of India and the Government of Republic of Belarus in the field of culture for 2018-2020
7MoU between M/o Petroleum & Natural Gas of the Republic of India and Belarusian State Concern of Oil and Chemistry in the Oil and Gas Sector
8Memorandum of Understanding between JSV "Belzarubezhstroy” and National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd.
9Memorandum of Understanding between JSC Belarusian Potash Company (BPC) and Indian Potash Ltd (IPL)
10Agreement on the implementation of MoU signed between OJSC Minsk Tractor Works and Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd. India in Pune
Source: PIB

7)    What is #OpenGovDataHack?

a. Hacks for cybertechnology
b. Nationwide hackathon
c. Open source hackathon
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Nationwide hackathon

Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad launched a nation-wide hackathon #OpenGovDataHack.

As part of the Startup Eco-system Development program, NIC and IAMAI have collaborated to conduct Nation Wide Hackathon #OpenGovDataHack across seven states of India.

It aims to Support & Showcase potentially great Ideas/Talent from Inner India by reaching out in their own State/City (7 Cities).

It is to enable them making their ideas developed into Apps/Infographics primarily by use of Open Government Data around the themes of Drinking Water& Sanitation, Transport, Education, Crime and Health to a stage.

Following this, it can be evaluated by jury and be selected for Prizes and future support/funding

The big data analytics should focus on poor & under privileged and facilitate inclusive growth.

While aiming at taking lead in data analytics it must be ensured that technology is inclusive, affordable, transformative & developmental.

#OpenGovDataHack being taken up in seven states would catalyse further start up movement.

Hackathon: Know More

  • The #OpenGovDataHack will being with the onsite City Challenge, a 24 hours Hackathon event will be held at 7 centres/ institutes/ organizations across Hackathon cities on different weekends.
  • The participating teams will be required to submit Apps prototypes and Info-graphics.
  • Selected Apps prototypes from all seven onsite city Centre and online submissions will be taken forward for App development.
  • Each team will be given 2 months of mentorship/incubation to develop the App, post which the teams will submit the final Apps for evaluation.
  • The apps will be evaluated by a panel of jury comprised of the members from the Community, Government, Academia and Industry etc., and the shortlisted teams will be invited for a presentation on the App.
  • The Hackathon process will conclude with an International conference on Open Data, wherein the winners of the Apps Challenge will be awarded.
About Open Government Data Platform:

The Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India has been set up by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in compliance with National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) 2012.

The objective of the policy is to provide proactive access to government owned sharable data along with its usage information.

OGD Main Features Include:
  • Single point access to open datasets
  • Workflow based web access to the departments to publish their datasets through a predefined metadata
  • Enhanced visualization tool
  • Better user experience and efficient discoverability of resources
  • Cataloging of similar resources
  • Consumable Open APIs
  • Catalogue embedding
  • Catalogue sharing widgets, catalogue subscription
  • Mobile and Web Apps
  • Community participation through blogs, infographics, visualizations and much more…
A number of Hackathons, Data Meets and Open App Challenges have been conducted to bring out innovative applications, info-graphics and visualizations using the government data.

The Platform also acts as a knowledge - sharing platform through online communities.

8)   Which UN body has imposed the strongest sanctions ever on North Korea in Sept 2017?

d. IMF
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques


The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a US-drafted resolution that imposes strongest sanctions ever on North Korea, including restricting its oil imports and banning textile exports, to curb the reclusive nation’s nuclear programme.

The move comes in response to the sixth and largest nuclear test by North Korea on September 3.

International community was hitting North Korea’s ability to fund its weapons programme.

The US had originally proposed harsher sanctions, including a total ban on oil imports by North Korea.

But the vote was passed only after Pyongyang allies Russia and China agreed to the reduced measures.

Oil “is the lifeblood” of North Korea’s effort to build and deliver a nuclear weapon.

The resolution reduces almost 30 per cent of oil provided to the North by cutting off over 55 per cent of its gas, diesel, and heavy fuel oil.

Today’s resolution completely bans natural gas and other oil byproducts that could be used as substitutes for the reduced petroleum. This will cut deep.

When these new stronger sanctions are added to those passed last month, over 90 per cent of North Korea’s publicly reported exports are now fully banned.

Moreover, this resolution also puts an end to the regime making money from the 93,000 North Korean citizens it sends overseas to work and heavily tax.

This ban will eventually starve the regime of an additional USD 500 million or more in annual revenues.

Beyond the USD 1.3 billion in annual revenues we will cut from North Korea, new maritime authorities will help us stop them from obtaining funds by smuggling coal and other prohibited materials around the world by ship, said the body.

The resolution bans all North Korean textile exports. Textile exports - North Korea’s largest economic sector that the Security Council had not previously restricted - earned North Korea an average of USD 760 million in the past three years.

The resolution requires the end of all joint ventures with North Korea.

9)   What is the period when hardly a ripple is seen on the earth's surface?

a. Solar maximum
b. Solar minimum
c. Solar medium
d. Solar density
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Solar minimum

OUR Sun has sent forth seven flares in seven days. One is headed our way.

One, unleashed last week, was the solar equivalent of Hurricane Irma - a monster X9.3 storm.

Even though it only struck Earth a glancing blow, this was enough to disrupt some radio communications.

Since then, the same cauldron of magnetic activity on the Sun’s surface has erupted with flare after flare.

Another big one, at magnitude X8.2, was blasted outwards overnight. It’s arriving soon.

An X8.2 class solar flare flashes in the edge of the Sun on September 10, 2017.

This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 335 angstrom wavelengths.

An X8.2 class solar flare flashes in the edge of the Sun on September 10, 2017.

What makes these flares so significant is that the explosions have been strong enough to tear pieces of the Sun away from itself, and fling it into space.

It’s called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and - depending on its strength - if one was to hit Earth the effects could range from an annoyance to catastrophic.

The latest warning from the Space Weather Prediction Center is that the latest flare could cause a moderate disruption radio communications over North and South America for up to an hour tonight.

While the Earth’s atmosphere protects those of us on the surface from the most harmful rays, things get different the higher up you go.

The Sun is supposed to be approaching solar minimum - a period where hardly a ripple marks its surface.

But observations over the centuries have shown that when a solar ‘hot spot’ does emerge at this time, it tends to be very hot. It’s times like these that have produced some of the biggest solar flares recorded.

The X9.3 flare was the largest flare so far in the current solar cycle, the approximately 11-year-cycle during which the sun’s activity waxes and wanes.

The current solar cycle began in December 2008, and is now decreasing in intensity and heading toward solar minimum. This is a phase when such eruptions on the sun are increasingly rare, but history has shown that they can nonetheless be intense.

Solar Flare: Know More

  • The first impact from a solar flare comes from charged particles travelling at 150,000,000km/h.
    These arrive at Earth about an hour after an eruption.
  • But the bulk of the material spewed forth by a CME can take a couple of days to reach our planet - giving us time to prepare.
  • Solar flares can be a serious threat.
  • The biggest blobs of energy - if they were to strike Earth full-on - charge the ionosphere, causing it to absorb radio waves. This could cut communications with everything from airliners to satellites - including GPS signals.
  • Radiation levels in space would also spike, posing a health risk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station and even airline passengers.
  • The most severe geomagnetic storms could pump unwanted electrical current into power lines, and even electrical devices. These have been known to fry electrical networks, blacking out entire cities and states.
Blackouts From Solar Flares
  • In 1989, the entire Canadian state of Quebec was blacked out for nine hours after a direct hit from a coronal mass ejection.
  • Another 200 power grids in the United States experienced surges.
  • The worst was in 1859, when electricity was only beginning to be used in telegraph wires. These failed worldwide.
  • A similar hit, now, could be an electronics apocalypse - taking out power networks and destroying electronic systems such as banking transactions.
  • It would be a worldwide disaster, with transportation and food production networks crippled.
  • The current solar hotspot, dubbed Active Region 2673, was first spotted on August 29.
  • This flare is likely to be the last to have any impact on Earth as the region is rotating towards the Sun’s far side.

10)   When was the Mobile World Congress inaugurated?

a. 1967
b. 1977
c. 1987
d. 1997
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1987

Taking place originally in Barcelona, Spain - Mobile World Congress (MWC) brings the latest and greatest in the mobile industry from September 12-14. Currently, it is the largest exhibition in the world for mobile technologies.

Set for the first time in San Francisco since its inauguration in 1987, the event is foreseen to gather the biggest names in innovation from the world and California’s own Silicon Valley.

Mobile World Congress Americas is held in partnership with CTIA, a trade association that represents the wireless communication industry in the US.

While topics to be discussed cover the expected array of the latest technological advancement, (i.e IoT, Machine Learning, AI, the works) – some of the biggest tech corporations are putting stakeholders at the edge of their seats for their next announcements.

Kicking it off is KT Corporation, a South Korean-based communications company that will be unveiling its latest 5G -connectivity technologies - a technology that relies on Li-Fi which is set to revolutionize connectivity speeds.

AT&T is also set to make its presence sound alongside its business CEO, Thaddeus Arroyo.

The company is expected to portray its latest innovation in vehicle connectivity, healthcare, consumer electronics, and smart cities, among others.

Lastly, Mastercard will showcase Masterpass, a digital wallet platform that is meant to speed up checkout experiences in stores for consumers, tackling 340,000 merchants internationally that support Tap and Pay capabilities.

Besides the announcements, the event is set to witness keynote speeches from some of the most prominent personnel in the industry.

However, the most exciting part of the conference is the exhibition floor, which is a 2-day home for 1,000 exhibitors from around the world.

GSMA World Congress: Know More

  • The GSMA Mobile World Congress is a combination of the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry and a conference featuring prominent executives representing mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world.
  • The event, initially named as GSM World Congress and later renamed as the 3GSM World Congress, is still often referred to as 3GSM or 3GSM World.
  • In 2014, the GSMA announced that their annual summer event in China would be rebranded under the Mobile World Congress banner as "Mobile World Congress Shanghai".
  • In 2016, the GSMA announced the creation of Mobile World Congress Americas an event created in partnership with CTIA to bring an extension of the event to North America in 2017.
  • In 2011, it was announced that Barcelona, Spain had been chosen as the GSMA Mobile World Capital