Weekly Current Affairs February 2018 2nd Week

1. THE rankings 2018: 42 Indian Universities in list, none in top 25

The Times Higher Education (THE) released the list of the best colleges in Asia in the Asia University Rankings 2018 on 6 February.

  • While the top 10 spots were secured by universities from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, India managed to improve its score on the index with a total of 42 finding a place among just over 350 Universities.
  • Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in Bengaluru was the topmost Indian University in the list coming in at rank 29.
  • At rank 44 was the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, followed by IIT-Kharagpur at 60 with 11,016 students.
  • IIT-Roorkee, rank 65, IIT-Kanpur, rank 81 and IIT-Delhi, rank 86. At rank 100, Tezpur University in Assam was the last Indian university in the top 100 list.

2. Sushma Swaraj inaugurates Saudi cultural festival

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has inaugurate Saudi Arabia’s annual ‘Janadriyah Festival’ where India has been invited as guest of honour this year, officials said.

  • Earlier, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had said that India’s participation in the festival will be multifaceted and would take relations of the two nations “to new heights”.
  • According to the minister, the Indian pavilion at the festival will project a number of Indian themes and projects.

3. Former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia sentenced to five years in prison

A Special Court in Dhaka has sentenced former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to jail for five years in a 10-year-old graft case.

  • The court also sentenced her son, Tarique Rahman, and four others to jail for 10 years. Rahman is a resident of London.
  • The Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case, accusing Ms. Zia and the five others of misappropriating over 2.1 crore Bangladeshi Taka that had come from a foreign bank as grants for orphans.

4. India ranks 44 out of 50 nations in global IP index

India has “increased substantially” its score in the latest international Intellectual Property (IP) index released by the US Chambers of Commerce, ranking 44th out of 50 countries.

  • India’s overall score has increased substantially from 25 per cent (8.75 out of 35) in the 5th edition of the Index to 30 per cent (12.03 out of 40) in the 6th edition.
  • The US tops the list with 37.98 points, followed by United Kingdom (37.97) and Sweden (37.03).

5. List of MoUs/Agreements signed during visit of Prime Minister to Palestine

MOU between India and Palestine for setting up of India-Palestine Super-specialty hospital at Beit Sahour in Bethelhem Governorate at a cost ofUS$ 30 million.

  • MOU between India and Palestine for construction of India Palestine Centre for Empowring women, “Turathi” at a cost ofUS$ 5 million
  • MOU between India and Palestine for setting up of new National Printing Press at Ramallah at a cost ofUS$ 5 million
  • MOU between India and Palestine Construction of school in Muthalth Al Shuhada Village at a cost ofUS$ 1 million
  • MOU between India and Palestine Construction of school in Tamoon village in Tubas Governorate in Palestine at a cost ofUS$ 1.1 million
  • MOU between India and Palestine Assistance of US$ US$ 0.25 million for construction of additional floor to Jawahar Lal Nehru for Boys at Abu Dees

6. PM Modi inaugurates Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone for a new temple for the Hindu community living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

  • The temple will be the first to be built in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE which is home to a huge Indian diaspora.
  • The PM laid the foundation stone for the temple from the Dubai Opera House via video conferencing.
  • This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015.
  • The UAE has two Hindu temples which are located in Dubai.

7. Mumbai 12th richest city globally; total wealth at USD 950 billion 

India’s financial capital Mumbai, with a total wealth of USD 950 billion, has been named among the top 15 wealthiest cities globally, while New York topped the list, says a report.

  • According to a report by New World Wealth, the economic hub of India is the 12th wealthiest city, followed by Toronto with a total wealth of USD 944 billion, Frankfurt (14th, USD 912 billion) and Paris (15th, USD 860 billion).
  • Mumbai, also features among the top 10 cities in terms of billionaire population. The city is home to 28 billionaires, individuals with USD 1 billion or more in net assets.

8. World Government Summit begins in Dubai

The World Government Summit 2018 is beng held in Dubai, UAE from February 11-13.

  • Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister, expresses his thanks to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit as guest of honour to the World Government Summit.
  • The three-day event, which was first held in Dubai in 2013, has been described as the largest annual government summit.

9. List of MoUs signed on the occasion of the visit of PM to Oman

Agreement on Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial matter

  • Agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, Special, service and official passports
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of health
  • MoU on Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
  • MoU on Cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of External Affairs, India and Oman Diplomatic Institute.
  • MoU on Academic and Scholarly cooperation sectors between National Defence College Sultanate of Oman and the Institute for Defence Studies and the Analyses.
  • MoU in the field of Tourism cooperation between India and Oman.
  • Annexure to the MoU on Military Cooperation.

10. World Radio Day: 13 February

World Radio Day is an observance day held annually on 13 February.

  • It was proclaimed on 3 November 2011 by UNESCO’s 36th General Conference after originally being proposed by the Kingdom of Spain.
  • The theme of World Radio day 2018 is “Radio and Sports”.

11. First-ever Pelican Festival held at Atapaka Bird Sanctuary

Andhra Pradesh government has held the first-of-its kind, one-day Pelican Festival at the Atapaka Bird Sanctuary on Kolleru lake.

  • Koleru is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country.
  • Officials made elaborate arrangements to attract tourists for the ‘Pakshula Panduga’ at Atapaka village, located on the borders of the Krishna and the West Godavari districts.

12. Centre to link driving licence with Aadhaar

The Centre is in the process of linking driving licences with Aadhaar number to weed out fake licences and a software for this covering all states on a real time basis is under preparation, the Supreme Court was told.

  • A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was informed about it by a court-appointed committee on road safety headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan.
  • This assumes significance as a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is currently hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the enabling 2016 law.

13. ISRO sets up 473 Village Resource Centres for rural development

To demonstrate the potential of satellite technology for development of rural areas, ISRO established Village Resource Centres (VRCs) on a pilot scale, in association with selected NGOs, Trusts and State Government Departments.

  • VRCs have provided various space technology enabled services such as tele-healthcare, tele-education, natural resources information, advisories related to agriculture, career guidance to rural students, skill development and vocational training etc.
  • About Rs 18 crores was spent for establishing 473 VRCs.

14. Gadkari Inaugurates 5 Highways Projects Around Allahabad

Shri Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation inaugurated / laid foundation stone for 137 km of highways projects worth Rs 5632 crore around  Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Besides widening of national highways, this includes construction of a new, six-lane  bridge  over Ganga at Fafamau, Allahabad.
  • Gadkari said that his Ministry plans to build highways worth Rs 2 lakh crore in Uttar Pradesh before the government’s five year term ends next year.

15. 11 states are now open defecation free: Government

The government informed the Lok Sabha that till date 11 states and union territories (UTs) have been declared open defecation free (ODF) under Swachh Bharat Mission.

  • The government is taking various steps under the SBM to make all states in the country ODF, the minister of state in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi, said in a written reply.

16. Pon. Radhakrishnan inaugurates the Third Global Procurement Summit

The Minister of State for Finance and Shipping, Government of India, Shri Pon. Radhakrishnan said that the Government of India attaches great importance to fairness, transparency and accountability in public procurement and it has raised the citizen’s expectation in terms of efficiency and outcomes of public spending.

  • He said that the present Central Government has a clear vision of transforming the procurement and public service delivery.
  • The Minister for State for Finance Shri Pon. Radhakrishnan was delivering the Inaugural Address after inaugurating theThird Global Procurement Summit in New Delhi.
  • The two day Summit is being organized by All India Management Association(AIMA), World Bank and the Government of India.

17. Inter-Ministerial Committee to tackle menace of trafficking

An Inter- ministerial Committee (IMC) with concerned stake holders, Ministries/ departments of Government of India along with representatives of some State/UT Governments and CSOs under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, Women and Child Development has been constituted to tackle the menace of trafficking.

  • As per Ministry of Home Affairs, National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) the total number of cases of ‘Procuration of minor girls’ has risen from 231 in the year 2006 to 2465 in the year 2016.

18. Two-day Conference on Jobs and Livelihood opportunities with CII

NITI Aayog has organized a two-day Conference on Jobs and Livelihood opportunities in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industries, CII at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in the capital.

  • The Conference will provide a platform for dialogue between various stakeholders to share their views on the potential of job creation and livelihood opportunities.

9. 1,86,777 Affordable Houses Sanctioned for Urban Poor Under Pmay(Urban)

Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has approved the construction of 1,86,777more affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs.11,169crwith central assistance of Rs. 2,797 cr.

  • The approval was given in the 30th meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee in its meeting.
  • With the above proposed houses, cumulative houses under PMAY(U) would become 37,83,392 after final approval from CSMC.
  • Further after subsuming projects of RAY scheme the total number of houses being funded under PMAY(Urban) would be 39,25,240 houses.

20. International Conference on Unani Medicine inaugurated 

The Minister of State (IC) for Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, MoS PMO, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Space Dr. Jitendra Singh has inaugurate the two-day International conference on Unani Medicine on 10th February, 2018 at New Delhi.

  • This year is special for Unani fraternity as it is the 150th Birth Anniversary of  Hakim Ajmal Khan.
  • To mark this day, the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), under the Ministry of AYUSH is organizing a two-day International Conference on Unani Medicine as part of celebration of  Unani Day.
  • The theme of the conference is Integration of Unani System of Medicine in main stream healthcare.

21. “Swachh Bharat Sanitation Park” inaugurated in Delhi

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in collaboration with the Environmental Sanitation Institute and Tata Trusts, has developed a Sanitation Park which was inaugurated in the Capital by Union Minister, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, and Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri ParameswaranIyer.

  • The Sanitation Park was developed at CGO Complex in New Delhi with an objective to create awareness on various safe technological options.
  • The Park demonstrates various options pertaining to toilet technologies and solid and liquid waste management technologies, with a brief description of these technologies.

22. Shri RK Singh launches ASH TRACK Mobile App

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Shri R.K Singh, launched a Web based monitoring System and a Fly Ash mobile application named ASH TRACK.

  • These platforms will enable better management of the ash produced by thermal power plants by providing an interface between fly ash producers (Thermal Power Plants) and potential ash users such as – road contractors, cement plants etc.

23. WCD Ministry to set up National Women Entrepreneurship Council

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering to establish National Women Entrepreneurship Council (NWEC).

  • NWEC will promote entrepreneurship as it would be the umbrella organization for socio-economic gender parity, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women in India.
  • This information was given by Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Dr. Virendra Kumar in reply to a question in Lok Sabha.

24. NITI Aayog releases “Healthy States, Progressive India” Report

NITI Aayog released a comprehensive Health Index report titled, “Healthy States, Progressive India” at a function in the capital.

  • The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other.
  • The report was released jointly by the CEO, NITI Aayog; Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Preeti Sudan and World Bank India Country Director, Junaid Ahmad.
  • States and UTs have been ranked in three categories namely, Larger States, Smaller States, and Union Territories (UTs), to ensure comparison among similar entities.
  • Among the Larger States, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance.
  • Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Manipur followed by Goa were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance.
  • Among UTs, Lakshadweep showed both the best overall performance as well as the highest annual incremental performance.

25. Government to set up a Cyber Crime Reporting Portal 

The Union Home Minister has said the Government has decided to establish a Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to report Cyber Crimes Against Women.

  • We will also establish a dedicated Cyber Crime Laboratory to stop Crimes Against Women and Children, he added.
  • Shri Rajnath Singh was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the 24th All-India Forensic Science Conference in Ahmedabad.

26. Government releases Rs 9,940 crore to states for Smart Cities Mission

The Centre has released nearly Rs 9,940 crore to the states so far for the Smart Cities Mission, with Maharashtra accounting for the highest amount of Rs 1,378 crore, followed by Madhya Pradesh getting Rs 984 crore.

  • The Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has announced 99 cities for central assistance under the BJP government’s flagship programme.
  • The total proposed investment in these cities was Rs 2.03 lakh crore.

27. Rajnath Singh inaugurates first spoken Sanskrit centre

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Centre for learning Sanskrit language in Gujarat University in Ahmedabad.

  • The centre will offer a six-month course for people on how to speak the language.
  • The coordinator of the course, Atul Unagar, said it was possibly the first such course launched in India.

28. National Productivity Day and Week

The National Productivity Council is observing National Productivity Day on February 12, and National Productivity Week till 18th February.

  • It is the 60th Anniversary of the National Productivity Council and is being celebrated as Diamond Jubilee Year.
  • “Industry 4.0 Leapfrog Opportunity for India ” has been selected as the theme for the National Productivity Week -2018.

29. India Among Top Ten Nations in the World in Terms of Forest Area

Strongly emphasising the increasingly green credentials of the country, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr.  Harsh Vardhan has said that India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover, in comparison to the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade.

  • Releasing the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017, Dr. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that India ranks among the top ten countries of the world in terms of forest area, despite the fact that none of the other 9 countries has a population density of more than 150 persons per sq km, compared to India, which has a population density of 382 persons per sq km.
  • “India is ranked 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land area under forest and tree cover, even though it accounts for 2.4 % of the world surface area and sustains the needs of 17 % of human and 18 % livestock population”, the Minister said.
  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan added that as per the latest FAO report, India is placed 8th in the list of Top Ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area.

30. 4th Meeting of economic advisory council to the Prime Minister

The 4th meeting of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) was held on 12th February 2018 under the chairmanship of Dr Bibek Debroy, Chairman, EAC-PM & Member, NITI Aayog.

  • Keeping in view the National Health Scheme announced by the Government in the Budget for the year 2018-19 presented in the Parliament on 1st February 2018, EAC-PM discussed the possible modalities of implementing the scheme.
  • Dr Shamika Ravi, Part-Time Member of the EAC-PM made a presentation on “Health Reforms”.
  • Another Part-Time Member of the EAC-PM, Dr Ashima Goyal made presentation on the draft “The Indian Fiscal – Monetary Framework: Dominance or Coordination?”. Ms Poonam Gupta, Lead Economist – India, World Bank made a presentation on “World Bank Report on Indian Economy”.

31. All villages to be linked by roads by 2019

The Centre is making efforts to connect all villages through a road network by next year as part of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna’, said Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav.

  • Earlier, the target to compete these works was 2022 but it has been advanced to 2019.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched by the Central government to provide connectivity to unconnected habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy.

32. Radio Umang: India’s first online radio station launched

Radio Umang, India’s first online radio station that allows the listener to just download and tune in, has been launched.

  • Listeners can tune in to this online radio station through web streaming or download the app.
  • With 24 hours programming, it has found listeners in Hindi speaking regions of India and in over 60 countries worldwide.

33. President of India hosts ‘LPG Panchayat’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, hosted an‘LPG Panchayat on February 13, 2018 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

  • The LPG Panchayat was organised by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with an aim to provide a platform for LPG consumers to interact with each other, promote mutual learning and share experiences.
  • Each LPG Panchayat has about 100 LPG customers coming together, near their living areas,to discuss safe and sustainable usage of LPG, its benefits and the link between clean fuel for cooking and women’s empowerment.
  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas intends to conduct 1 lakh such Panchayats across India before March 31, 2019.

34. India-Russia Agriculture Business Summit held in New Delhi

As a part of the country-wide year-long celebration of India-Russia Diplomatic Relations, since April 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare organised two major events, an India-Russia Agriculture Business Summit held in New Delhi and celebration of 70 years of Agricultural Relationship to be held  in Suratgarh, Rajasthan on 14th February 2018.

  • Shri Gajender Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Mr Sergey Beletskiy, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Russia addressed the India-Russia Agriculture Business Summit 2018, held at PUSA, New Delhi.
  • Several business houses and leaders of business associations of both countries, working in agriculture sector attended the event.
  • This will strengthen exchange of expertise to further business ties between the two countries.

35. Venkaiah Naidu to inaugurate the Global Theatre Olympics

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu will inaugurate the 8th Global Theatre Olympics on 17th February, 2018 at the majestic Red Fort in New Delhi.

  • This Global Theatre Festival is being held in India for the first time.
  • The 51 days long event will travel to 17 Indian cities with 450 shows, 600 ambience performances and 250 power packed youth forum shows.

36. R.K. Singh inaugurates ‘Indian Power Stations 2018’ – International Conference

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, Shri R.K. Singh inaugurated the ‘Indian Power Stations 2018’ – three-day International Conference on Operations and Maintenance in New Delhi.

  • The Minister exhorted the NTPC to become India’s power sector multinational by setting up power plants in other Nations and become world’s largest power producer.
  • Shri Singh also added that there was huge opportunity to export cheap power to neighbouring countries which will be beneficial for the entire region.

37. India’s biggest Global Conference on Pharma Industry and Medical Devices

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, along with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), is organizing ‘India Pharma & India Medical Device 2018’, with the theme – ‘Affordable and Quality Healthcare’.

  • This is the 3rd International exhibition and conference on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device sector and to be held from 15th-17th February, 2018 in Bengaluru.

38. RBI keeps repo, reverse repo rates unchanged

On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.0 per cent.

  • Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.
  • The central bank has upped the inflation forecast for Q4 of this fiscal year to 5.1 percent from 4.3 percent to 4.7 percent earlier and to 5.1-5.6 percent in the first half of next year.
  • The GVA forecast for FY18 has been revised down to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent earlier.

Current Monetary Policy Rates:

  • Repo Rate: 6%
  • Revrese Repo Rate: 5.75%
  • Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) Rate: 6.25%
  • Bank Rate: 6.25%
  • Cash Reserve Ratio: 4%
  • Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): 19.5%

39. Mumbai Dabbawalas partner with Paytm Payments Bank

Paytm Payments Bank , a digital bank which provides zero balance accounts and zero charges on digital transactions, partnered with the Mumbai Dabbawala Association, the pioneers of home-cooked food delivery.

  • As part of this association, around 5000 dabbawalas will now be able to collect instant payments for their Dabba service through Paytm QR.
  • Additionally, they will also avail an easy access to banking and other financial services by opening their bank accounts with Paytm.

40. RBI to set up ombudsman to further regulate NBFCs

The Reserve Bank of India wants to further tighten the regulations around the Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) by setting up an ombudsman for these entities.

  • Till now, for consumer complaints, the RBI had made it mandatory for all the the NBFCs to have a grievance redressal officer, whose name and address has to be put up in the offices of the NBFCs.
  • However, with an ombudsman in place, the customers can directly file a complaint, as per the RBI guidelines announced during the monetary policy.
  • According to RBI, the scheme will cover all deposit-taking NBFCs and those with customer interface having asset size of one million and above initially.

41. RBI to link base rate with MCLR from 1 April

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said it will link the base rate for loans with the marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) from 1 April to improve monetary policy transmission.

  • This is likely to narrow the gap between the base rate and MCLR, and benefit borrowers who are still using the base rate, said some analysts.

Points to Remember

  • Base rate is the minimum rate set by the Reserve Bank of India below which banks are not allowed to lend to its customers. The Base Rate was introduced by RBI in year 2010.
  • MCLR stands for Marginal Cost of fund based lending rate, as per RBI notification to be used from 1st April 2016. MCLR is the minimum rate below with a Bank cannot fund any loan.
  • MCLR it is set by the Banks or the particular lender while Base Rate was set by the RBI.

42. Forbes releases first-ever crypto-rich list

Forbes has released its first ever list of richest people in cryptocurrency, which is topped by Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, with an estimated crypto net worth of USD 7.5-8 billion.

  • According to Forbes, the average 2017 price change of Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP, three of the most common cryptocurrencies, is a whopping 14,409 per cent.
  • As per the publication, there are now nearly 1,500 cryptoassets in existence, valued at an aggregate USD 550 billion.

43. CCI imposes Rs 135.86 crore penalty on Google for search bias

Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Google to have violated in online general web search and web search advertising services in India, and imposed a penalty of Rs 135.86 crore against the company.

  • The order was passed in response to informations filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) in 2012.

44. OVL, partners acquire 10% stake in Abu Dhabi oilfield 

ONGC Videsh Ltd and its partners have acquired a 10 per cent in a large offshore oilfield in Abu Dhabi for USD 600 million.

  • This is the first time that Indian oil companies have taken part in an Abu Dhabi oil and gas concession.
  • OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and a unit of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), paid a signing amount of USD 600 million for a 10 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co’s 40-year Lower Zakum Concession, Offshore Abu Dhabi.

45. IPPB to enable Digital Payments in Post Offices by April 2018

India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) Expansion Programme continues to make brisk progress and a nation-wide roll-out is scheduled beginning April 2018.

  • Once the proposed expansion is completed, IPPB will be providing the largest financial inclusion network in the country, covering both urban as well as rural hinterland with ability to provide digital payment services at the doorstep with the help of Postmen and Gramin Dak Sewaks (GDS).
  • IPPB will also enable more than 17 crore active account-holders of Post Office Savings Bank to make interoperable digital payments including the benefit of NEFT, RTGS, UPI and bill payment services.
  • Additionally, the IPPB will enable acceptance of digital payments across post offices in the country in line with the digital payments initiative of the government.

46. PNB signs pact with National e-Gov Services

Punjab National Bank has signed an agreement for information utility with National e-Governance Services Limited.

  • The objective of the agreement is to augment the information infrastructure in India.
  • The agreement will enable storing of financial information that will help substantiate defaults and verify claims expeditiously.
  • This will in turn facilitate resolution in the National Company Law Tribunal in a time bound manner.

47. WhatsApp releases payment-enabled beta version in partnership with NPCI

WhatsApp has released a payment-enabled beta version of its messaging app in India.

  • The exercise is being undertaken in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India, the umbrella body for digital payments.
  • WhatsApp allows peer-to-peer payments through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) infrastructure.

48.  BoB to shut down its operations in South Africa

Bank of Baroda will shut down its operation in South Africa- a development that comes within months of the South African Reserve Bank imposing a fine of R11 mn for lapses in compliance.

  • Bank of Baroda notified South African Reserve Bank about its plan to exit the country.
  • The Registrar, which is part of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), is in discussions with the Bank of Baroda to ensure its orderly withdrawal from South Africa so that no depositor is disadvantaged.

49. KVGB tops in code compliance rating

The Dharwad-headquartered regional rural bank (RRB) Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank (KVGB) has been awarded an overall rating of ‘above average’ on code compliance by the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI).

  • The bank has been ranked first among 28 RRBs at an all-India survey during 2017-18 by BCSBI.
  • BCSBI is an independent body set up by Reserve Bank of India.

50. Zoho ties up with ICICI Bank for integrated platform

Software Company Zoho has tied up with private lender ICICI Bank to provide accounting and banking on an integrated platform.

  • The partnership will deliver a streamlined digital banking experience to customers using Zoho’s cloud accounting software, ‘Zoho Books’.
  • This will also help businesses eliminate data entry, automate reconciliation, provide multiple payment options to their customers, request working capital loans, and pay suppliers directly from their accounting platform.

51. Amitabh Bachchan to be brand ambassador for The Muthoot Group 

The Muthoot Group has roped in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador to represent them in their national campaigns.

  • The Muthoot Group is known for its uncompromising values and trust earned over 131 years of excellence in business.

52. HDFC Bank appoints Rakesh Singh as private banking head

Private sector lender HDFC Bank has announced appointment of Rakesh Singh as private banking head.

  • He will continue to head the bank’s investment banking, capital markets and financial institutions businesses.
  • Private banking is wealth management service of the bank catering to High Net Worth and ultra-HNW individuals, families and establishments, who aim to successfully manage and grow their wealth.

53. NPCI appoints Biswamohan Mahapatra as chairman

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said it has appointed Biswamohan Mahapatra as non-executive chairman of the board for a period of two years, with effect from February 8, 2018.

  • Mahapatra succeeds B Sambamurthy, who has been the interim chairman.

Points to Remember

  • National Payments Corporation of India is the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in India.
  • Founded in 2008, NPCI is a not-for-profit organisation registered under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.

54. Hamid elected Bangladesh president for second term

Abdul Hamid has been elected president of Bangladesh for a second consecutive term.

  • Hamid has been elected president as no one else is running in the upcoming presidential election.
  • Hamid took office on April 24, 2013, and his five-year term expires on April 23.
  • According to article 123 of the constitution, presidential election should be held between 90 and 60 days before the five-year term expires.

55. Reliance Industries wins Golden Peacock Award 2017 for CSR 

Reliance Industries (RIL) said it has been awarded the Golden Peacock Award 2017 for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

  • The award was a recognition of the work done by its CSR arm Reliance Foundation under Founder and Chairman Nita Ambani.
  • Golden Peacock Awards, instituted by the Institute Of Directors (IOD) in 1991 in India, are regarded as a benchmark of Corporate Excellence.

56. Hindi writer Krishna Sobti gets Jnanpith Award

Renowned Hindi writer Krishna Sobti has been conferred upon the Jnanpith Award for her contribution to Hindi Literature.

  • Noted Poet Ashok Bajpai received the award from Jananpith Award Committee Chairman Justice Bijendra Jain on behalf of Krishna Sobti.

57. Modi conferred ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred the ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’ by President Mahmoud Abbas.

  • President Abbas conferred the honour on Mr. Modi after the conclusion of the bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
  • Mr. Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to make an official visit to Palestine.

58. Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wins Mo Ibrahim leadership prize

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says it has awarded the $5 million African Leadership prize to former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

  • The Ibrahim Prize, which honours role models on a continent where many leaders have stayed in power for decades, has been awarded just four times before since it was established in 2006.
  • Ms. Sirleaf is the fifth person and first woman to receive it.
  • Ms. Sirleaf, who was President from 2006 to 2017, stepped down in January, handing power to President George Weah.

59. Ramesh Sippy to get inaugural Raj Kapoor Award

Veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, who directed the classic blockbuster Sholay and tele-serial Buniyaad, will be conferred the first Raj Kapoor Award for Excellence in Cinema.

  • Instituted by the Asian Centre for Entertainment Education (ACEE), along with various international organisations like World Bank, UNICEF, USC Annenberg Normal Lear Centre, Hollywood Health and Society, Cinepolis Foundation and CMS, the Raj Kapoor Trophy will be unveiled in Mumbai.

60. Steve Smith wins second Allan Border medal

Steve Smith and Ellyse Perry stole the show at the Australian cricket’s Allan Border Medal night.

  • While Smith claimed his second Allan Border Medal and was voted as the Test Player of the Year at the annual awards night, Perry was conferred with the Belinda Clark Medal.
  • Incidentally, Smith had also won the coveted medal in 2015 and thus became only the fifth player to win it on more than one occasion.
  • Along with Smith, teammate David Warner was voted as one-day player of the year while Aaron Finch was named as T20 International Player of the Year.
  • Meanwhile, young Jhye Richardson was announced as the Bradman young cricketer of the Year.

61. Tata Steel bags ‘most ethical company’ award

Tata Steel has been recognized by Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as the World’s Most Ethical Company for the year 2018.

  • The company has received the award for the sixth time in the ‘Metals, Minerals and Mining’ category.
  • IT company WIPRO has also won the award in a separate category.

62. Jhulan Goswami first female cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets

India’s veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami has added another feather to her illustrious cap by becoming the first female cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets.

  • Goswami achieved the feat during the second ODI between India and South Africa.
  • The 35-year-old, playing her 166th ODI, dismissed opener Laura Wolvaardt for her 200th scalp.
  • She was adjudged ICC Women Cricketer of the Year in 2007.

63. 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea on February 9, 2018.

  • The site of the opening ceremony Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium was built specifically for the games.
  • These Games will feature 102 events in fifteen sports disciplines.
  • ‘Peace will be the central theme of the games.

64. Haryana crowned champions of Khelo India School Games

Sports powerhouse Haryana topped the overall medal tally after claiming 38 gold medals in the inaugural edition of the Khelo India School Games that concluded in New Delhi.

  • Overall, Haryana won 102 medals, with 26 silver and 38 bronze. Maharashtra (110) finished second overall while Delhi (94) came third.

65. Noted litterateur Chandrasekhar Rath passes away

Eminent litterateur Chandrasekhar Rath has passed away at the age of 89.

  • He was recently nominated for Padma Shri by the Union government this year for his contribution towards Odia literature.
  • Rath, a prolific writer, has written several novels, short stories, essays and poems during his illustrious career.

66. Pakistan’s iron lady Asma Jehangir passes away

Pakistan’s top lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jehangir passed away due to a cardiac arrest in Lahore. She was 66.

  • Known for her bold stance, Asma was the country’s symbol of resistance and a human rights activist who spoke against military dictators and abusers of law for the past five decades.
  • She headed the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and remained the Supreme Court Bar Association chairperson.
  • She was also appointed as UN Rapporteur in the region during the 1990s.

67. Rajnath Singh Release Book Titled “Mere Sapnon ka Bharat”

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh released a book titled “Mere Sapnon ka Bharat”. It is a compilation of interviews of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by Tarun Vijay, an ex-MP, at a function in New Delhi.

  • The Home Minister described Mr Vajpayee as a distinguished personality who stands alone because of his stature. He is respected by all cutting across the political parties divides.

68. Sachin Tendulkar launches book on child health care

Legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has launched a book on child health care titled ‘Even When There Is A Doctor’.

  • Penned down by Dr Yashwant Amdekar along with Dr Rajesh Chokhani and Krishnan Sivaramakrishnan, the book describes the role of an individual or parents in improving their child’s health.

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