Weekly Current Affairs February 2018 1st Week

1. India slips to 42nd place on EIU Democracy Index

India has slipped to 42nd place on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Global Democracy Index amid the “rise of conservative religious ideologies” and increase in vigilantism and violence against minorities as well as other dissenting voices.

  • While Norway has again topped the list, followed by Iceland and Sweden, India has moved down from 32nd place last year and remains classified among “flawed democracies”.
  • The index ranks 165 independent states and two territories on the basis of five categories

2. India joins Ashgabat agreement

India has joined the Ashgabat agreement which envisages setting up of an international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf to significantly ramp up trade and investment.

  • Turkmenistan, as depository State of Ashgabat Agreement, informed on February 1 that all the four founding members have consented to the Accession of India.
  • Turkmenistan, Iran, Oman and Uzbekistan signed the agreement on April 25, 2011.
  • In October 2016, Pakistan had formally joined the project. Kazakhstan is also a part to this agreement.

3. World Cancer Day: 4 February

World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

  • World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.
  • The primary goal of the World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer by 2020.
  • The theme for the World Cancer Day 2016-2018 is ‘We can. I can.’

4. Maldives declares state of emergency

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen has declared a 15-day state of Emergency, his aide Azima Shukoor announced on state television.

  • The move gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects as Yameen refuses to comply with a Supreme Court order to release political prisoners.
  • The latest crisis was triggered when the Maldivian Supreme Court ordered the release of some opposition leaders, including former president Mohammed Nasheed, after overturning their “terrorism” convictions.

Points to Remember

  • The Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea.
  • Male is the capital of Maldives while Rufiyaa is its currency.

5. Dubai named the world’s busiest International Airport

Dubai International Airport says it has held on to its No 1 ranking as the world’s busiest airport for ‘international travel’, after seeing some 88.2 million passengers in 2017.

  • Dubai International Airport first surpassed London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for international traffic in 2014.
  • It has maintained the title ever since, with some 90 airlines flying into skyscraper-studded Dubai.
  • The airport is home to the long-haul carrier Emirates.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia remains the world’s busiest airport overall.

6. Third Scorpene submarine ‘Karanj’ Launched at Mazagon Docks

The third Scorpene class submarine constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited for the Indian Navy, was launched on 31 January 2018 by Mrs Reena Lanba, President Navy Wives Welfare Association after the recitation of Sanskrit shlokas from the Atharva Veda and traditional ceremonies associated with the launch of naval platforms.

  • She also named this submarine as ‘Karanj’ and wished her good fortune.
  • Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff was the chief guest on the occasion.
  • Karanj will now undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea before it is commissioned into the Navy.

7. Railways to Set up a Coach Factory in Marathwada, Maharashtra

A high level meeting was held between Union Minister for Railways and Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal and Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai, to discuss the setting up of a massive rail coach factory in Latur, Maharashtra by Indian Railways.

  • This plant would manufacture Electric Multiple Units for suburban trains and coaches for metros.
  • Work on this project will be done on high priority with fast track processing of all approvals.
  • Maharashtra Government has offered several concessions including in land, taxes and etc.

8. Uttar Pradesh India’s most polluted state: Greenpeace report

With 15 of its cities among 30 cities with highest levels of toxic air in the country, Uttar Pradesh is India’s most polluted state, says a Greenpeace India report.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi turned out to be the worst polluted city of UP.
  • New Delhi topped list while Lucknow was 18th among the 30 most polluted cities and towns of the country.
  • The report reveals that none of the 280 cities with 630 million people comply with the PM10 levels in the air as fixed by WHO at 20.
  • Hassan in Karnataka has the cleanest air in the country.

9. Axis Bank Deputy VP inaugurates 19th Samaya Bharati 2018

The 19th India International Watch and Clock Fair “Samaya Bharati 2018” was inaugurated by Amruta Devendra Fadnavis, Deputy Vice President of Axis Bank at the Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai.

  • The fair, a grand horological event, was organised by India’s leading watch and clock magazine “Trade Post” under the auspices of Watch Trade Federation.

10. Union Budget 2018: Key takeaways and sector-wise highlights

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered the current government’s fifth and last full financial budget (Budget 2018 for the fiscal year 2018-19) amid subdued economic growth, challenging fiscal situation and farm distress.

Here are the key highlights from the Union Budget 2018:

Economic Health

  • Economy firmly on course to achieve high growth of 8%
  • GDP growth at 6.3% in the second quarter of 2017-18 signals turnaround of the economy
  • Growth in the second half likely to remain between 7.2% to 7.5%

Agriculture and Rural Economy

  • MSP for all unannounced Kharif crops increased to 150%
  • Institutional credit for agri-sector increased to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18
  • Fisheries, aquaculture and animal husbandry corpus at Rs.10,000 crore
  • New scheme Operation Greens with an outlay of Rs 500 Crore
  • Govt to develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats
  • Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore
  • Allocation for Ministry of Food Processing doubled to Rs.1400 crore
  • Loans to Self Help Groups (SHG) of women to increase to Rs.75,000 crore by March 2019.
  • Increased allocation of National Rural Livelihood Mission to Rs 5750 crore
  • Under Ujjwala Scheme distribution of free LPG connections will be given to 8 crore poor women
  • Housing for All by 2022 – more than one crore houses to be built by 2019 in rural areas

Education, Health, and Social Protection

  • Estimated budgetary expenditure on health, education and social protection at Rs.1.38 lakh crore
  • Ekalavya Model Residential School to be set up for tribal children
  • Investments for research & infra in premier educational institutions at Rs.1 lakh crore in next 4 years
  • Allocation on National Social Assistance Programme at Rs. 9975 crore
  • NHPS to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries)
  • NHPS to provide coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for hospitalisation
  • Rs 1200 crore for the National Health Policy, 2017 – additional Rs.600 crore for TB patients
  • 24 new Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals

Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) and Employment

  • Major thrust for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) – allocation at Rs. 3794 crore
  • Target of Rs.3 lakh crore for lending under MUDRA Yojana
  • 70 lakh formal jobs to be created this year
  • Govt to make 12% contribution of new employees in the EPF for all the sectors for 3 years
  • Outlay of Rs.7148 crore for the textile sector
  • Increase budgetary allocation on infrastructure for at Rs.5.97 lakh crore
  • To develop 10 prominent tourist sites into Iconic Tourism destinations
  • 35000 kms road construction in Phase-I at an estimated cost of Rs.5,35,000 crore

Railways

  • Railways Capital Expenditure pegged at Rs.1,48,528 crore
  • 4000 kilometers of electrified railway network slated for commissioning
  • Work on Eastern and Western, dedicated freight corridors
  • Over 3600 km of track renewal targeted in current fiscal
  • Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations
  • Mumbai’s local train network to have 90 kilometers of double line tracks at Rs.11,000 crore cost
  • 150 km of additional suburban network planned for Mumbai
  • Suburban network of 160 km at for Bengaluru metropolis

Air Transport

  • To expand airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year
  • Regional connectivity – 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads to be connected
  • To establish unified authority for regulating all financial services

Digital Economy

  • NITI Aayog to initiate a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence
  • Department of Science & Technology to launch Mission on Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Allocation doubled on Digital India programme to Rs 3073 crore
  • To set up 5 lakh wifi hotspots to provide net-connectivity to five crore rural citizens
  • Rs. 10000 crore for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure

Defence

  • Development of two defence industrial production corridors.
  • Allocation of Rs 2.95 lakh crore to defence sector.

Emoluments

  • To revise emoluments to Rs.5 lakh for the President
  • Rs 4 lakhs for the Vice President
  • Rs.3.5 lakh per month to Governor
  • Pay for Members of Parliament – law for automatic revision of emoluments every 5 years
  • 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi- Rs.150 crore for commemoration programme

Fiscal Management

  • Budget Revised Estimates for Expenditure at Rs.21.57 lakh crore
  • Revised Fiscal Deficit estimates at 3.5% of GDP
  • To bring down Central Government’s Debt to GDP ratio to 40%

11. Jaitley announces ‘world’s largest healthcare programme’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced two new initiatives under the Ayushman Bharat Programme in the Union Budget 2018.

  • Under the programme, Mr. Jaitley announced a new flagship National Health Protection Scheme, providing a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakh a family per annum.
  • The scheme will cover 10 crore vulnerable families, with approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.
  • Mr. Jaitley also announced the creation of health and wellness centres, which will “bring healthcare closer to home”.
  • These centres, 1.5 lakh in number, will provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. A sum of Rs. 1200 crore had been allocated for this.

12. Wi-Fi hotspots for rural areas proposed

The government has proposed to set up five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens.

  • Allocation of Rs 10,000 crore has been provided in 2018-19 for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure.

13. Rs 2.04 lakh crore to be allocated for 99 cities under Smart City programme

The Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Union Budget 2018-19,  said that as many as 99 cities were selected under the ambitious Smart City Mission at an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore.

  • In the Smart City Mission that aims at 100 cities, 99 smart cities have been selected and will be allocated Rs 2.04 lakh crore, Jaitley informed Parliament.
  • The Ministry has so far launched 99 smart cities in two years.

14. 7th India Energy Congress begins

7th India Energy Congress has been kicked off in New Delhi on February 1, 2018.

  • More than 400 experts will meet on February 1 and 2 to discuss and debate the energy transition being witnessed.
  • The theme of the 7th edition of India Energy Congress is ‘Energy 4.0: Energy Transition Towards 2030’.
  • The India Energy Congress is the flagship event of World Energy Council India (WEC India) and joint event of ministries of power, coal, new & renewable energy, petroleum & natural gas, external affairs and Department of Atomic Energy.

15. PM to address the inaugural session of Advantage Assam – Global Investors Summit

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, will address the inaugural session of Advantage Assam – Global Investors Summit 2018, in Guwahati on February 3, 2018.

  • The two-day Summit will be the largest ever investment promotion and facilitation initiative by the Government of Assam.
  • The Summit aims at highlighting the geo-strategic advantages offered to investors by Assam.

16. Yogi Adityanath inaugurates Surajkund Mela in Haryana

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the Surajkund Mela on 2 February, in the presence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

  • The 17-day-long event, which is in its 32nd edition, showcases India’s rich cultural diversity, crafts and handiworks.
  • The Mela this year has the culture of Uttar Pradesh as its theme and focuses upon child rights violations across India.
  • All of India’s states and 20 countries are participating in the festival.
  • Surajkund is located in Faridabad in Haryana.

17. Centre sanctions Rs 1,500 cr for organic farming in Uttarakhand

The Centre has sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore for three years to promote organic farming in Uttarakhand.

  • The amount was sanctioned by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh when Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat met him in New Delhi.
  • The Union minister also cleared a proposal worth Rs 2,600 crore for the co-operative sector in the state. Of which, Rs 200 crore is meant for the reorganisation of sugar mills.

18. International Conference on ‘Demetrios Galanos and His Legacy’

The International Conference on ‘Demetrios Galanos and His Legacy’ was inaugurated at IGNCA in New Delhi.

  • Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) is organizing the 8-days International Conference.
  • The 8-day long convention is being held in Delhi and Varanasi, in addition to organizing the exhibition and folk music of Greece.

19. Venkaiah Naidu to Inaugurate First International Kala Mela

The Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu will inaugurate the First International Kala Mela in New Delhi on February 4.

  • The Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma will also grace the occasion.
  • Lalit Kala Akademi, the premier institution for the promotion of Art and Culture is organizing it at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi (IGNCA).

20. Environment Ministry launches ‘Green Good Deeds’ campaign

Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has appealed to the teaching community to join the “Green Good Deeds” campaign, launched by his Ministry to sensitise the people about climate change and global warming.

  • The Minister reminded the teachers of their “Green Social Responsibility similar to corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

21. Maharashtra to become first state to have Transgender Welfare Board

The long pending Transgender Welfare Board (TWB) will finally see light of the day with the Maharashtra government making a provision of Rs 5 crore for welfare of the community.

  • Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble told that the Board will be set up in a month’s time.
  • It will look after education, employment, housing, and health schemes for transgenders and protect their Constitutional and human rights.
  • Maharashtra will be the first such state to have such a Board, the minister said.

22. India’s biggest floating island released in Neknampur lake

On the occasion of World Wetland Day, city-based NGO Dhruvansh has introduced biggest floating island of India at Neknampur Lake, Hyderabad.

  • The duo of Dhruvansh NGO, Madhulika and Neeraj Singh started Neknampur restoration programme in June 2016 adopting various cost effective methodologies to clean the lake.
  • After successful introduction of 10×10 feet floating islands last year, the NGO introduced 2,500 square feet floating island with 3,500 wetland plants floating on this platform.

23. First defence industrial corridor between Chennai, Bengaluru

The first of the two defence industrial production corridors, as announced in the Union Budget, will link Chennai and Bengaluru.

  • In his budget address, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government will develop two defence industrial production corridors.
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the first corridor will link Chennai and Bengaluru and will pass through Coimbatore and several other industrial clusters.

24. India’s Super Computer Could Aid In Doubling Farmers’ Income

The Union Budget saw much emphasis on doubling of farmers’ income and accurate weather forecasts will play a major part in it.

  • What could contribute to the doubling of farmers’ income is India’s most powerful Cray Super Computer – MIHIR – that will give more accurate weather forecasts.
  • Built at a cost of Rs. 450 crore, MIHIR is housed in a badminton court-sized room at India’s weather office near Delhi, and is capable of performing jobs equivalent to more than 2,500 high-end laptops, all working in tandem.
  • Dr Harsh Vardhan, Science Minister, says “MIHIR, named after the Sun God, will help in our weather forecasting capability and strength will increase tremendously and it will now become about eight petaflops.”
  • Dr Vardhan said India will now also be ranked 4th, after Japan, UK and the US for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.

25. Mukesh Khanna Quits as Chief of Children’s Film Society

Actor Mukesh Khanna said he has resigned as the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society two months prior to the end of his term, alleging lack of support to take children’s films to theatres and inadequate funding for the institution.

  • His three-year term was scheduled to end in April.
  • The actor is known for his portrayal in popular TV serial Shaktimaan.
  • He made his debut on the small screen as Bhisham Pitamah in B R Chopra’s Mahabharat.

26. Rs 51,600 crore released to states under MGNREGA in 2017-18: Government

The Centre has released more than Rs 51,600 crore to states under rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA till January 31 in financial year 2017-18, Rajya Sabha was informed.

  • In written reply to a question, Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav said that the release of funds to states for the implementation of various projects under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was a continuous process.
  • The ministry has released Rs 51,616.99 crore as on January 31, 2018.

27. Centre clears Rs 62crore for cleaning Sal river

The central government has approved a project to abate pollution of river Sal at Navelim in Goa at an estimated cost of Rs 61.7 crore.

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had in 2015 identified the river stretch at Navelim as one of the 302 polluted river stretches across the country based on bio-chemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels
  • The project was approved by the Union environment ministry last week under its National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) which covers 31 rivers (other than Ganga and its tributaries) in 14 states.

28. UP government in association with UNICEF launches DASTAK campaign

In Uttar Pradesh, State government in association with UNICEF has launched massive door to door campaign DASTAK to eradicate deadly Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Japanise Encephalitis disease in the state.

  • In DASTAK campaign, whole state machinery with the help of UNICEF will now literally go door to door in 38 JES and AE affected districts.

29. Maharashtra govt approves new wildlife sanctuary at Ghodazari

The Maharashtra government has approved Ghodazari in Chandrapur district as a new wildlife sanctuary in the state.

  • The decision was taken at the 13th meeting of the Maharashtra State Board for Wildlife, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
  • The sanctuary, in the North East of Tadoba, will include 159 sq km of Brahmapuri forest.

30. President to inaugurate the Mahamastakabhisheka Mahotsav 2018

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, will be in Karnataka to inaugurate the Mahamastakabhisheka Mahotsav 2018 of Gommateshwara Bhagwan Sri Bahubali Swami at Shravanabelagola February 7, 2018.

  • The Mahamastakabhisheka Mahotsav is celebrated once every 12 years.
  • It has been celebrated for about a 1,000  years.

31. 60 Solar Cities to be developed across country

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy under its scheme “Development of Solar Cities” has approved/sanctioned 60 Cities including 13 Pilot and 5 Model Cities up to 12th Five-year Plan period.

  • In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State (IC) for Power & New and Renewable Energy, Shri R K Singh informed that the master plans of 49 Solar Cities have been prepared.
  • The Stake-holders Committees have been constituted in 21 Cities and Solar City Cells have been created in 37 Solar Cities.
  • Solar PV projects with aggregate capacity of 8069.16 kWP and Solar Water Heating System with aggregate capacity of 7894 meter square collector area have been sanctioned under the programme.
  • While Rs. 101.64 crore has been sanctioned, Rs. 25.92 crore has been released under scheme “Development of Solar Cities” so far.

32. India-UAE to ink 12 pacts during PM Modi’s visit

As many as 12 agreements will be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE later this week as India and the oil-rich Gulf nation look to intensify economic cooperation.

  • The agreements will include areas like finance and skills development.
  • Modi will start his visit to three West Asian countries – Palestine, the UAE and Oman – on February 9 with focus on cooperation in key areas of defence, security and counter- terrorism.
  • The Prime Minister will participate in the 6th World Government Summit in Dubai on February 10-11 in which India is a partner country.
  • This will be PM Modi’s second visit to the UAE. He first visited the country in August 2015.

33. Haryana launches ‘Gobardhan Yojana’ to support farmers

The Haryana government has launched the ‘Gobardhan Yojana’ to provide for the sale of organic manure and cow urine with an aim to benefit farmers.

  • A provision of Rs 11 crore has been made to provide benefits of various projects under this scheme, Khattar said while addressing villagers at a ‘Kisan Samman Samaroh’ in Nizampur village of Sonipat district.

34. Mumbai airport becomes world’s busiest single-runway airport

On January 20, Mumbai airport created a new world record for single-runway operations by handling 980 arrivals and take-offs in 24 hours.

  • With this, the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport bettered its own feat of 974 flights in 24 hours, recorded on December 6, 2017.
  • Gatwick, the U.K.’s second largest airport, remains the most efficient single-runway airport in the world.

35. Ireda and Rumsl Signs Agreement for Large-Scale Solar Parks in MP

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) and Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL) signed an agreement for financing the shared infrastructure of two large Solar Parks in Madhya Pradesh.

  • Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), World Bank & IREDA have been able to work out a proposal to channelize US$ 100 Million for creating common infrastructure for ultra-mega solar parks in India to achieve the 100 GW solar capacity addition target by 2022, set by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
  • Under the World Bank Line of Credit, IREDA has sanctioned its first loan of Rs. 210.62 Cr. to RUMSL to finance two such solar parks in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

36. India becomes third largest producer of crude steel

India’s crude steel production grew by 6.2 per cent to 101.4 million tonnes (MT) in 2017 compared to 95.5 MT in the previous year, a report by World Steel Association said.

  • India has overtaken the US to become the world’s third largest steel producer and the country is now looking to bag the second spot from Japan.
  • China remained the world leader by producing 831.7 MT in 2017.
  • Japan, the second largest global steel producer, witnessed a negative growth as steel output declined by 0.1 per cent.

37. Axis Bank launches 4th edition of “Evolve”

Private sector Axis Bank launched the fourth edition of ‘Evolve’, an annual multi-city knowledge series for Bank’s SME customers in Coimbatore.

  • This edition will span across 30 cities including Nagpur, Surat, Rajkot, Pune, Vishakhapatnam, Trichy, Kanpur, Ludhiana and Jamshedpur.
  • The series aims to equip the participating SMEs with new-age strategies, live case studies, operational know-how, regulatory and Government related knowledge skills.

38. Govt to merge three general insurance companies

As part of divestment of public sector entities, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government will merge three general insurance firms into one and subsequently list the entity on stock exchanges.

  • Three public sector general insurance companies – National Insurance Co Ltd, United India Assurance Co Ltd and Oriental India Insurance Company – will be merged into a single insurance.
  • The minister said the government has begun strategic disinvestment in 24 public sector units (PSUs), including national carrier Air India.

39. Inland Waterways Authority of India signs agreement with World Bank

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) signed a project agreement with the World Bank, even as the latter entered into a US $ 375 million loan agreement with the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance for Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).

  • The signing of the Agreement follows the approval of  the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, for the implementation of the US $ 800 million JMVP for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1(River Ganga) from Varanasi to Haldia.
  • Out of the remaining amount, US $ 380 million is to be sourced through the Government of India counterpart funds from budgetary allocation and proceeds from the bond issue.
  • Another US $ 45 million will come from private sector participation under the PPP mode.
  • The JMVP, which is expected to be completed by March, 2023, is being implemented with the financial and technical support of the World Bank.
  • The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with the capacity of 1500-2,000 tons on NW-I.

40. Cochin Shipyard Limited signs MoU with Russian firm

Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and  Joint Stock Company United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Russia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate and engage in Design, Development and Execution of contemporary, State-of-Art vessels for Inland and Coastal Waterways.

  • CSL and USC will collaborate for development of High-Speed Vessels, River-Sea Cargo Vessels, Passenger Vessels, Dredgers, and other watercrafts for inland waterways and coastal shipping.
  • The MoU will give a push to the Government’s Make-in-India programme, as also  its plans to develop eco-friendly and economic transportation along India’s inland waterways and coastal shipping routes under SAGARMALA.

41. Government nominates two directors to RBI central board

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that the Centre has nominated two directors to its central board.

  • The central government has nominated Prasanna Kumar Mohanty and Dilip S. Shanghvi as directors to the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India for a period upto February 8, 2021 and March 10, 2021 respectively.

42. Nepal gets a high Rs. 650 crore outlay

India’s annual financial allocation to Nepal for 2018-19 has nearly doubled under the Union Budget presented on February 1.

  • The External Affairs Ministry has been allocated a total Rs. 15,011 crore, which indicates a marginal increase of Rs. 1,321 crore over the previous year’s grant.
  • For India’s development and diplomatic engagement under the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, the Budget has allocated Rs. 5545 crore.
  • Bhutan is traditionally the largest recipient of Ministry’s allocation.

43. CRISIL, SIDBI Launch India’s First MSE Sentiment Index

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arun Jaitley launched CriSidEx , India’s first sentiment index for micro and small enterprises ( MSEs) developed jointly by CRISIL & SIDBI.

  • CriSidEx is a composite index based on a diffusion index of 8 parameters and measures MSE business sentiment on a scale of 0 (extremely negative ) to 200 ( extremely positive) .
  • The parametric feedback was captured through a survey of 1100 MSEs in November –December.
  • CriSidEx will have 2 indices , one for the ‘survey quarter’ and another for the ‘next quarter’ once a trend emerges after few rounds of the survey , providing independent time series data.
  • The crucial benefit of CriSidEx is that its readings will flag potential headwinds and changes in production cycles and thus help improve market efficiencies.
  • And by capturing the sentiment of exporters and importers , it will also offer actionable indicators on foreign trade.

44. Advantage Assam Summit: Investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore committed

Assam’s investment scouting exposition “Advantage Assam” attracted series of investment proposal.

  • In the two day event as many 200 MOUs were inked and investment proposal to the tune of Rs 1,00,000 crore is committed.
  • The event was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 3.
  • Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Group of Industries announced that his company will be investing close to Rs 2500 crore in next three years.
  • Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Rs 1500 crore investment is coming in tourism sector. Mahindra will invest in tourism infrastructure in Assam.

45. Uber, transport ministry partner to push road safety awareness

As part of its ongoing efforts to encourage road safety awareness, ride-sharing company Uber has joined hands with union ministry of road transport and highways to push for the cause in the country which witnesses around five lakh accidents every year.

  • Uber will jointly promote road safety messaging on its mobile application and the social media through co-branded materials and mediums.
  • The ministry and Uber will jointly be preparing the learning materials which will be shared and utilised by over 200 driving schools.

46. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank approve JFC Finance’s bid to acquire Palogix Infrastructure

ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have approved JFC Finance (India) Ltd’s bid to acquire the insolvent Palogix Infrastructure, a 20-year old firm in railways logistics.

  • JFC Finance, the Delhi-based non banking firm, has proposed to acquire close to 80% in Palogix for Rs 100-crore.
  • The logistics firm owes Rs 150 crore to creditors.

47. Neelam Kapur appointed as Sports Authority of India DG

Senior-most Indian Information Service officer Neelam Kapur, who had served as UPA government’s spokesperson, was appointed director general (DG) of Sports Authority of India (SAI).

  • The 1982 batch IIS officer is at present the Principal Director General of the Directorate of Field Publicity (DFP).
  • Kapur was appointed the Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) by the then UPA government in 2009.

48. Thanglura Darlong appointed Ambassador of India to the Romania

Shri Thanglura Darlong (IFS: 1988) has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Romania.

  • He is expected to take up his assignment shortly. He is presently CLO, South Asian University, New Delhi.

49. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades re-elected

Cyprus’ conservative incumbent Nicos Anastasiades was re-elected to another five-year term, defeating left-wing rival Stavros Malas.

  • With almost all of the votes counted, Anastasiades held a 12-point lead over Malas.
  • Anastasiades defeated Malas in the 2013 presidential election too.

Points to Remember

  • Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean.
  • Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus while Euro is its currency.

50. Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant gets extension till June 30, 2019

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant was given an extension till June 30 next year, according to an official order.

  • He was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the government think tank on February 17, 2016 for a two-year term.
  • Kant is a 1980 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre.

51. A.K Prasad Assumes Charge as Financial Commissioner, Railway Board

Shri A.K.Prasad has been appointed as new Financial Commissioner (Railways), Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to Government of India vice Shri B.N.Mohapatra, who superannuated on 31st January, 2018.

  • Shri A.K.Prasad has since assumed charge as the new Financial Commissioner (Railways), with effect from 1st February 2018.
  • Shri Prasad is an officer of Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) of 1981 batch. He has done his Masters in Economics from Delhi School of Economics in the year 1980.

52. Atul Anand takes Over as the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff – FCI

Rear Admiral Atul Anand, VSM has been appointed as the Assistant Chief of  Naval Staff – Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence {ACNS (FCI)} at IHQ MoD (Navy), New Delhi.

  • He was commissioned in 1988, in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy.
  • An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, the Defence     Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, Bangladesh and the National Defence College, New Delhi, the Admiral is a specialist in Navigation and Direction.
  • He has also attended the prestigious Advance Security Cooperation Course at the Asia Pacific   Centre for Security Studies, Hawaii, USA.

53. Hardayal Prasad appointed as SBI Card MD & CEO

SBI Card, the country’s second largest credit card issuer, has a new Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer in Hardayal Prasad.

  • Prasad has taken over from Vijay Jasuja, who superannuated on January 31.
  • Prior to this appointment, Prasad was with State Bank of India, holding multiple leadership positions in the bank.
  • He had joined SBI as a probationary officer in 1983.

54. Magadhi writer Madhukar awarded Sahitya Akademi’s Bhasha Samman

Magadhi writer Shesh Anand Madhukar, who has been working extensively for the development of the language, was honoured with this year’s Sahitya Akademi Bhasha Samman award.

  • The second writer of Magadhi language to be given the award, Madhurkar was conferred the award, comprising a Rs 1 lakh cheque and a memento, by Sahitya Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari.

55. Shabnam Asthana wins Times Power Woman 2017 award

The Times Group recently celebrated the invaluable contribution of women by introducing The Times Power Woman 2017 (Pune) awards.

  • Shabnam Asthana was awarded the ‘Times Power Women of the Year 2017’- for Global PR.
  • The award was conferred on her by Dilip Kamble, Minister of State for Social Justice and Special Assistance in the Government of Maharashtra.

56. Shyam Benegal Named For V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal has been selected for the prestigious ‘V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2018).

  • The award, carrying a trophy, a citation, shawl and cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, will be conferred on Benegal by Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao at the MIFF 2018.
  • During his career, he has made 28 feature films including classics like Ankur, Nishant, Mandi, Bhumika, Manthan and Junoon and 41 documentaries.

57. Table Tennis: Sharath Kamal lifts National Men’s singles title for the eighth time

Sharath Kamal has lifted the National men’s singles title for the eighth time, equalling the feat of Kamlesh Mehta.

  • In the final at the Senior Table Tennis Nationals in Ranchi, he defeated top-seed Anthony Amalraj 4-1.
  • Suthirta Mukherjee from West Bengal emerged the new women champion, beating Hyderabad Nationals winner Manika Batra 4-3.

58. India Open Boxing: Mary Kom Clinches Gold

M C Mary Kom claimed a gold but the Indian men’s juggernaut was denied a complete sweep by traditional powerhouses Cuba and Uzbekistan on an exciting final day of the India Open boxing tournament in New Delhi.

  • Mary Kom won against Filipino Josie Gabuco 4-1 en route to her gold in the 48kg class among women.
  • She had also claimed a gold medal at the 2015 Nation’s Cup in Serbia.

59. Vidarbha claims U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy

Vidarbha Under-19 cricket team once again proved their excellence as they clinched their maiden Cooch Behar trophy after claiming the maiden Ranji Trophy title earlier this season.

  • The U-19 team defeated Madhya Pradesh on the basis of first innings lead in the final held at Nagpur.
  • Captain and opener Atharva Taide led from the front as he struck 320 runs to power Vidarbha to a massive 614 for the loss of ten wickets.
  • Earlier Madhya Pradesh scored 289 in their first innings.

60. Under-19 World Cup: India lifts their fourth World Cup

India thump Australia by 8 wickets to be crowned Under-19 World Cup Champions.

  • Chasing 217, India wrapped up the win inside 39 overs.
  • Manjot Kalra scored a sensational unbeaten century and was named Man of the Match.
  • Shubman Gill was declared man of the series.
  • The final match was played at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, New Zealand.

61. PV Sindhu finishes runner-up in India Open

Defending champion P V Sindhu suffered a narrow defeat in a pulsating final against American Beiwen Zhang to finish runner-up at the India Open Super 300 badminton tournament.

  • Playing her second tournament of the new season, Sindhu came agonisingly close to clinching the title before losing 18-21 21-11 20-22 to Zhang in the women’s singles final.
  • All England Championships finalist and fourth seed Shi Yuqi of China walked away with the men’s crown after beating world no 7 and third seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien Chen 21-18 21-14.

62. Shubhankar Sharma becomes highest ranked Indian golfer

In-form young golfer Shubhankar Sharma was elevated from 193 to 72, a gain of 121 spots, in the world rankings making him the highest-ranked Indian in the world.

  • Sharma has enjoyed a golden run over the past few months on the international stage.
  • When Shubhankar entered the event in South Africa he was ranked 462 in the world.

63. Veteran Telugu actor Lakshmi Devi passes away

Veteran Telugu actor Lakshmi Devi Kanakala passed away on February 3 at the age of 78.

  • Lakshmi used to be a popular actor in the 1980s. She is known for films such as Prema Bandham and Police Lockup.

64. BJP MP Hukum Singh passes away

BJP MP Hukum Singh (79) died, almost a month after he was admitted to the J P Hospital in Noida with severe breathing problems.

  • He was an MLA in Uttar Pradesh for seven terms and a minister in the state before entering the Lok Sabha in the 2014 polls.

65. Kathakali maestro Madavoor Vasudevan Nair passes away

Kathakali maestro Madavoor Vasudevan Nair collapsed on stage and died while performing at Agasthyacodu Mahadeva Temple, Anchal. He was 89.

  • A recipient of several awards, including Padma Bhushan, he was the follower of the Kaplingattu School, the particular style of south Kerala.

66. PM Narendra Modi writes a book titled ‘Exam Warriors’ for students

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a book for students who battle stress and anxiety during examinations.

  • The book, slated to be released on February 3, talks about the ways in which students can tackle the stress.
  • The book has been titled ‘Exam Warriors’ and mentions various means such as practicing yoga.

67. “A Century is Not Enough”: Autobiography of Sourav Ganguly

Former Team India captain Sourav Ganguly’s autobiography is soon-to-be-published and it is named “A Century is Not Enough”.

  • The book is co-authored by Gautam Bhattacharya and published by Juggernaut Books.
  • The book covers the ups and downs in more than a decade long career of the former Indian captain fondly called ‘Dada’.

 

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