Current Affairs India - 31 October 2013

1. India has slipped by five places to 106th spot in the World Prosperity Index, largely due to poor 'safety and security' environment.  In the 'Prosperity Index' ranking of 142 countries compiled by London-based Legatum Institute, India dropped from 101st position last year, while Norway continues to remain at the top. India's position has dropped below neighbouring China (51), Sri lanka (60), Nepal (102) and Bangladesh (103).

2. India has developed a new tactical surface-to-surface missile 'Pragati' with a range between 60-170 km and will offer it to friendly countries. The new missile, now on display at a defence exhibition in South Korea, is based on the Prahaar missile developed by the DRDO for the Army and can be termed as its export variant with minor differences.

3. Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on 29 October 2013 launched the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRC), a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL). The main objective of the HSRC is to develop High Speed Rail (HSR) Corridors in India to run passenger trains at speeds up to 350 Kilo Meter per hour.

4. The Union Cabinet of India gave its approval to declare the Bhubaneswar and Imphal airports as international airports to fulfill the long pending demand of people as well as the State Governments of Odisha and Manipur. Declaration of these airports as international airports will offer improved connectivity, wider choice of services at competitive cost to the air travelers resulting in boosting international tourism and economic development of the region and the country.

5. Utpal Bhadra, senior scientist and group leader, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), has been selected for the Radhakrishnan Gold Medal for the year 2013 by the Global Economic Progress & Research Association (GEPRA), a Chennai-based research organisation engaged in academic research in economics and finance. His group has pioneered the Gene silencing and RNA interference technology. It was also the first group to identify RNAi (ribonucleac acid interface) and Gene silencing in animals, which have profound implications in understanding the development of characteristics and diseases in humans and animals.

6. S. Masood Ahmed, chief scientist at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), won the K.K. Menon Award for 2013. The award instituted by the Geological Society of India recognised his contributions in sedimentary geology. Ahmed has carried out extensive studies on marine sediment cores from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea to understand and interpret the paleoclimatic evolution of these basins. Earlier, He also won the National Geoscience Award for the year 2009.

7. Subhas Goswami, Director of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, has been appointed as the Director General (DG) of Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) yesterday. He will succeed Ajay Chadha, IPS.

8. Bharat Joshi is the new British Deputy High Commissioner to be based in Chennai, replacing Mike Nithavrianakis. Born in Croydon in the UK in 1969, Joshi joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1995 and has had diplomatic postings to Gambia, Dhaka, Qatar and Cameroon.

9. Microsoft appointed Indian origin Gurdeep Singh Pall as the corporate vice president of Skype, a popular and free international voiceover and messaging service and Lync communications product. He will replace the Mark Gillett. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011. According to the Microsoft website, Pall has more than 20 patents (in process or approved) in networking, VoIP and collaboration areas.

10. Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor was honoured in the House of Commons, London for her contribution to the global entertainment industry. The 33-year old actress was presented a framed golden coloured plaque by NRI MP Keith Vaz, Chairman of Britain-s Home Affairs Committee. She is the only Bollywood artist to be honoured at British Parliament after Amitabh Bachchan and she is the first Bollywood actress to be honoured by UK Parliament.

11. The second-round exit from French Open Super Series proved costly for Saina Nehwal as she slipped one more spot to be placed at world number seven in the latest BWF ranking released today. The Olympic bronze medallist had slipped to world number six last week.

12. All India Football Federation (AIFF) has signed an agreement under Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP) with Football Federation of Australia (FFA) to support former-s Grassroots Programme. The ASOP India is an Australian government initiative implemented by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) with a commitment of AUD 5 million over five years (2009-14). The agreement includes financial, administrative and technical support (from FFA) in the form of capacity building within the State Associations currently involved in the Grassroots Programme, Grassroots Courses and Grassroots Festivals, among many such activities.