Today’s News Updates – 5.January 2018

Iceland becomes first country to legalise equal pay

iceland legalises equal pay
A new law making it illegal to pay men more than women has taken effect in Iceland. The legislation makes Iceland the first country in the world to legalise equal pay between men and women.
Key facts:
Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Those that fail to prove pay parity will face fines.
The move is part of a bid to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022 in the Nordic nation where 38% of parliamentarians are female – above the global average – including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to approximately 323,000 people, has a strong economy, based on tourism and fisheries. For the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the world’s most gender-equal country.

Facts for Prelims:
The WEF Global Gender Gap Report uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health and survival to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.

According to the latest WEF report, the top five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden. Yemen, on the other hand, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report. India is ranked 108.
Fifty-two countries fell below the global average in 2017, including China, Liberia and the United Arab Emirates, while 60 saw their overall gender gap decrease. Hungary was the only European country to be ranked lower than the global average, having scored poorly on political empowerment.

Council for Trade Development and Promotion

Shri Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry recently chaired the 3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion.

About the Council for Trade Development and Promotion:

The Council for Trade Development and Promotion was constituted in July 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, in pursuance to the provisions of Foreign Trade Policy statement 2015-20.

Objective: The objective was to ensure a continuous dialogue with the governments of states and Union Territories on measures for providing an international trade enabling environment in the states and to create a framework for making the states active partners in boosting India’s exports.

Composition: The State Ministers of Commerce and Industry, Secretaries of concerned central departments/Ministries and heads of other export related organizations/trade bodies are Members of the Council.


H5 Avian Influenza

An outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza has been reported from Dasarahalli village from Bengaluru Urban District in Karnataka. On the directions of the Centre, the Karnataka Government has notified the outbreak and initiated the control and containment operations.

A central team of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries comprising of two experts has been deputed to Bengaluru for overseeing the operation and to assist the State Government.

Avian influenza or Bird flu:

Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds with a tendency of causing large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Although most influenza viruses do not infect humans, A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) have caused serious infections in people.

Symptoms: Fever, cough, sore throat, muscle, body aches, nausea can lead to severe breathing problems, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Treatment: Human infections with bird flu viruses usually can be treated with the same prescription drugs that are used to treat human seasonal flu viruses.

Risk factors involved: According to WHO, a few A(H5N1) human cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood. However, slaughter, handling carcasses of the infected poultry, and preparing poultry for daily consumption in households are likely to be risk factors.

ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya

The annual ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is being celebrated at Singapore. The conference, which will be attended by top leaders and businessmen from Singapore and India, will discuss the contribution of the Indian diaspora community in Southeast Asia.

Aim of the event: To highlight the “ancient human, maritime, cultural, commercial and religious links between India and Southeast Asia” and to promote greater economic, cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two regions.

Theme: “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic Asean-India Partnership.”

Significance of the event:

The event coincides with the 25th anniversary of India-Asean dialogue partnership, which will be marked by a summit on Jan. 25 in New Delhi. Asean leaders have been invited by India to be chief guests at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26.

About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.
These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and Indian communities in India for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.


Ethereum has hit $1,000 for the first time, while investors eye at alternative currencies such as ripple, ethereum and litecoin besides bitcoin. Earlier Ethereum was the second-most valued currency after bitcoin, but now ripple has outpaced it lately. The market capitalization of ripple is $121 billion while ethereum’s market cap is little less than $100 billion on Saturday. Bitcoin, the big daddy of cryptocurrency, still rules the world of digital currencies with a whopping market cap of $280 billion.

What is Ethereum?

It, like most cryptocurrencies, shares the same basic traits as bitcoin. It has underlying blockchain technology with a tethered token, which in this case is known as “Ether.” Ether is the token investors are purchasing.

How is it different from other cryptocurrencies?

Unlike most blockchains, Ethereum’s has an added component that’s particularly attractive to enterprise clients: smart contracts. These protocols help to verify, facilitate, or enforce the negotiation of a contract in an efficient and secure manner.

About Blockchain technology:

Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records transactions without the need for a financial intermediary, which in most cases is a bank.

The advantages of blockchain technology are aplenty. First, is the potential for smaller transaction fees as a result of having no third-party involved. Secondly, the decentralization of blockchain ensures that there’s no central hub cybercriminals could attack.

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