Weekly Current Affairs February 2018 4th Week

1. India, Indonesia joint military drill begins

The Indian and Indonesian armies began the sixth edition of their annual military exercises in the West Java province of the archipelago country.

  • The opening ceremony of the two-week Garuda Shakti military drill

    between the Special Forces of the Indian Army and the Indonesian Army was held at Bandung.

  • Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Pradeep Kumar Rawat attended the opening ceremony along with Indonesian military officers.

2. Nadda addresses Global Digital Health Partnership Symposium at Australia

“Digital health has great potential towards reducing inequity in provisioning and distribution of healthcare resources and services and it can greatly facilitate proactive treatment for disabled patients, children with developmental delays and deformities and people suffering from mental health illnesses and for those suffering from stigmatic infections such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis.” This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare during his address at the Global Digital Health Partnership Symposium at Sydney, Australia.

  • The Union Health Minister spoke on the topic: The role of digital health in supporting improved health outcomes in India.
  • The Union Health Minister informed the participants that the National Health Policy (2017) of India clearly articulates the healthcare aspirations of people of India with three distinct goals.

3. India ranks 81 in global corruption perception index

The 2017 corruption perception index, released by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, has ranked India at 81 among 180 countries and territories.

  • India’s score in 2017 is 40 — the same as 2016, and an increase since 2015, when it was 38.
  • The index says New Zealand and Denmark are the least corrupt countries, while Syria, Sudan and Somalia figure are ranked the most corrupt.
  • Among BRICS nations, South Africa has been ranked the least corrupt (71), while Russia (135) is the most corrupt.

4. International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is a worldwide annual observance held on 21 February to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism.

  • First announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999, it was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

5. 8th Indo- Seychelles Army exercise starts

The eighth joint military exercise between the Indian Army and Seychelles People’s Defence Forces started on February 24 and will continue till March 4 at Mahe Island, Seychelles.

  • The exercise is named “Lamitye” which in the local dialect ‘Creole’, means friendship.
  • This exercise is the eighth in the series of bilateral exercises being conducted in the beautiful island nation.

6. India International Textiles Expo begins in Colombo

A three –day India International Textiles Expo (IITExpo) of India began in Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.

  • It is being organized by Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) with the support of Union Ministry of Textiles & Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

7. 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers held in Fiji

Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development; and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India led the Indian delegation to the 20th Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers (20CCEM) held in Nadi, Fiji during 19-23 February 2018.

  • The theme of the Conference was “Sustainability and Resilience: Can Education Deliver?”
  • Dr. Singh made  a `response statement` to the presentation “20CCEM Thematic Issues” made by Dr. Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor of University of South Pacific, Fiji on 21 February 2018.

8. India Ranks 47th on Inclusive Internet Index

India is ranked 47th out of 86 countries when it comes to inclusive Internet and connectivity for all, a Facebook report said.

  • Facebook, which commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to create a comprehensive “Inclusive Internet Index,” found India in the middle of Asian countries (12th out of 23) when it comes to connectivity.”
  • Sweden took the first place, followed by Singapore and the US.

9. Saudi Arabia allows women to join military

Saudi Arabia has for the very first time opened applications for women to enlist in the military as the kingdom continues to enact reforms granting females more access to a wide range of previously forbidden careers.

  • Interested candidates can apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina.
  • A list of requirements says applicants must be Saudi citizens and aged between 25 and 35 with a high school diploma.

10. Government sets up the “NITI Forum for Northeast”

The Union Government has issued order setting up the ‘Niti Forum for North-East’.

  • The forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER).
  • The forum will have its Secretariat in the Ministry of DoNER.
  • The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints.
  • It will also review the development status in the NER.

11. NER’s first regional Centre for Agriculture in Mizoram

Israeli Ambassador Mr Daniel Carmon informed that a Centre for Agriculture, with collaboration of Israeli expertise, is going to be inaugurated in Mizoram on 7th March this year.

  • This will be the first such centre in the North East region of India that is being established with Israeli collaboration, he added.
  • Set up with a cost of Rs 8-10 crore, this centre is exclusively for processing of citrus fruits.
  • The project has been set up with the tripartite collaboration of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, Government of Israel and State Government of Mizoram.

12. Kerala makes vaccination compulsory for school admissions

The CPI(M)-led Left Front government in Kerala has made vaccination compulsory for school admissions from next academic year onwards.

  • Parents will have to show details of shots given to children at the time of enrolment in schools.
  • Earlier the government had constituted a 17-member experts panel headed by Dr E Ekbal to chalk out a comprehensive health policy.

13. Gandhi Nagar becomes the country’s first all-woman managed railway station

The Gandhi Nagar railway station in Jaipur, became the country’s first major railway station to be fully-managed by women.

  • Gandhi Nagar is important railway station in Jaipur situated on the Jaipur-Delhi rail route with more than 50 trains passing through the station out of which 25 halting at the station.
  • The station has footfall of more than 7,000 passengers every day.

14. Centre constitutes committee to study Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam

The Centre has constitued a committee headed by the Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar to study the Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam and neighbouring states.

  • Assam government has submitted required report on flood control measures to the committee.
  • Measures are being taken by the Water Resource department to repair the damaged river embankment due to flood.

15. Indian scientists develop next generation technology loop to generate clean energy

Indian scientists have developed a super critical carbon di oxide Brayton test loop facility that would help generate clean energy from future power plants including solar thermal.

  • This next generation technology loop was developed indigenously by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
  • This is India’s first test-bed for next generation, efficient, compact, waterless super critical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle test loop for power generation.
  • The technology is perhaps the first test loop coupled with solar heat source in the world.

16. Projects worth nearly Rs. 4,000 crore approved in 9th executive committee meeting of NMCG

In the 9th Executive Committee meeting of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), projects worth nearly Rs 4,000 crore were approved including a 20 MLD Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for tannery cluster at Jajmau in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

  • This 3-phased project at an estimated cost of Rs. 629 crore includes pre-treatment unit in 380 individual tannery units, a 20 CETP with physical, biological and tertiary treatment, installation of Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD)-based pilot plant of 200 KLD capacity among other components.
  • The central share of this project is Rs. 472 crore.
  • This is a major step forward in arresting the pollution in Ganga emanating from the crucial industrial town of Kanpur.
  • The project will be executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – Jajmau Tannery Effluent Treatment Association.

17. Mobile app e-saathi launched at UP Investors Summit

On the second and last day of the UP Investors Summit, a mobile application e-Saathi was launched.

  • Through the app, people will be able to avail public services sitting at home.
  • Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said the state government was working to double the capacity of seats in skill development from 500 to 1,000, adding that MoUs worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore had been signed in the sector at the summit so far.

18. India 7th Most Targeted Nation for Web Application Attacks

Nearly 40 percent of over 53,000 cyber-attacks in India occurred in the financial services sector during 2017, placing it at the seventh spot in the list of targeted countries for Web Application Attacks (WAA), a new report said.

  • Security incidents like phishing, website intrusions and defacements, virus and ransomware targeted the rapidly growing of the Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) sector in India.
  • The report, titled “Akamai State of the Internet Security Q4 2017,” also stated that the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack frequency in the BFSI sector increased by 50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

19. Parivartan scheme launched in Haryana

The Haryana government launched Parivartan, a scheme designed to address 10 issues, including cleanliness and pollution, in 46 developmental blocks of the state.

  • The 10 issues include facilitation of financing, making agriculture profitable and sustainable, improving health services, implementing Swachh Bharat, decongesting market areas, engaging the youth, checking air pollution, ensuring availability of identity-related services, effective policing, and ensuring road order and conduct.
  • The chief minister said that for each of the 10 fields, there are three to seven parameters on which the performance of the officers would be assessed.

20. Shri Anant Kumar Singh Inaugurates Five-Day Handicraft and Gifts Fair

Secretary Textiles, Shri Anant Kumar Singh inaugurated the 45th edition of IHGF-Delhi Fair at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida.

  • Speaking on the occasion, he said handicrafts sector plays a significant role in the country’s economy and provides employment to a vast segment of craft-persons in rural and semi-urban areas and generates substantial foreign exchange for the country while preserving its cultural heritage.
  • The Fair will remain open till 27th February, 2018.

21. The 2 day ‘RAS BANARAS SANSKRITI MAHOTSAV’- concludes in Varanasi

‘Ras Banaras – Swachhagrah – Bapu ko Kaaryaanjali’, a diversified cultural festival organized by the Ministry of Culture at Maan Mandir and Assi Ghat of Varanasi concluded successfully2.

  • The festival witnessed folk dance and songs, food & shopping delights in full swing.
  • The event appealingly connected country’s youth to various facets of the country’s rich and vibrant culture alongside giving a message of cleanliness to the people of Varansi.

22. ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ under ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ begins in Madhya Pradesh

To celebrate the idea of unity in diversity, Ministry of Culture is organising a Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav under the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat matrix in Madhya Pradesh beginning February 24 for a duration of 7 days.

  • The States paired with Madhya Pradesh are Nagaland and Manipur.
  • The Mahotsav will cover a profusion of art forms from classical and folk music and dance, theatre to literature and the visual arts and would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity.

23. Guwahati organises tribal festival ‘Aadi Mahotsava’

Assam has organised a tribal festival called ‘Aadi Mahotsava’ at Gandhi Mandir Indoor stadium field in Guwahati to celebrate the ethnic tribal culture of the country.

  • The 10-day festival is being conducted by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India in collaboration with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in an attempt to celebrate the rare art and culture of the tribal communities.
  • The Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the event.

24. Assam to observe ‘Rhino Day’ on September 22

The Assam government will be observing September 22 as ‘Rhino Day’ to generate public awareness on protection of the one-horned pachyderm, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said.

  • A State Rhino Project in line with National Rhino Project will be launched in Assam soon for protecting the pachyderms from threats of poaching, he said.

25. PM launches various  projects worth Rs.1000 crores in Daman & Diu

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launched various development projects worth Rs.1000 crores in Daman & Diu.

  • He distributed certificates to beneficiaries of programs and addressed a public meeting at the Daman college ground.
  • The Prime Minister inaugurated Air Odisha’s flight connecting Ahmedabad with Diu under the UDAN scheme.
  • He flagged off Pawan Hans helicopter services from Daman to Diu through a video link.

26. International Conference on Sustainable Biofuels 2018

A two- day International Conference on Sustainable Biofuels is jointly being organized by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India on behalf of Mission Innovation and Biofuture Platform at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

  • The event will bring together experts from Biofuels sector to take stock of current knowledge, share information and best practices, and build consensus on the actions most needed to move forward.
  • Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Union to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation.

27. ‘Dhanush’ ballistic missile successfully test-fired

India has successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable ‘Dhanush’ ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 km from a naval ship off Odisha coast, defence officials said.

  • The surface-to-surface missile, a naval variant of the indigenously-developed ‘Prithvi’ missile, was test-fired from the ship positioned near Paradip in the Bay of Bengal.
  • ‘Dhanush’ missile is capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and hitting both land and sea-based targets.

28. India to host 1st International Solar Alliance on 11th March

India will host the first International Solar Alliance (ISA) summit on 11th March, which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

  • Efforts are underway to put together 121 projects, which can be signed in two phases – about 50 on March 11 and another 71 on April 20.
  • The summit will be held in Delhi.

29. PM Narendra Modi launches Amma scooter scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Tamil Nadu government’s Amma scooter scheme and a massive tree plantation drive to commemorate the 70th birth anniversary of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

  • Over one lakh working women will get scooters at subsidised rates.
  • The Prime Minister highlighted the programmes rolled out by his government in the last four years for the welfare of women.

30. Adityanath inaugurates 2-day ‘Rasotsav’ in Mathura

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated two-day Rasotsav, jointly organised by the state tourism department, the Brij Tirth Vikas Parishad and the Brajbhumi Vikas trust.

  • Local MP, actress-turned-politician Hema Malini has been instrumental in organising the event which is being held at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Veterinary Institute.
  • Adityanath earlier felicitated music maestros Pandit Jasraj and Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

31. CII partnership summit held in Visakhapatnam

The third Partnership Summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) begin in Visakhapatnam, with over 2,000 delegates attending the meet, 40 per cent of them being from abroad.

  • Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the three-day event.
  • This summit is being jointly organised by the Andhra Pradesh State Government, the CII, and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

32. Andaman & Nicobar Command to Host Milan 2018

The second week of March will witness Andaman & Nicobar Command hosting a multinational mega event MILAN 2018.

  • MILAN is a congregation of littoral navies conducted biennially by Indian Navy at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
  • Besides fostering co-operation through naval exercises and professional interactions, MILAN also provides an excellent opportunity to the participating navies to come together in a spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding to nurture stronger ties.

33. DRDO Successfully Test Flight Rustom 2

DRDO  successfully flew its Rustom 2  at its Aeronautical Test Range(ATR) at Chalakere at Chitradurga.

  • This flight assumes significance due to the fact that this is the first flight in user configuration with higher power engine.
  • Secretary Deptt. of Defence (R&D) & Chairman DRDO Dr. S. Christopher along with  senior scientists witnessed  the flight and congratulated Rustom team.

34. 21st National Conference on e-Governance to begin in Hyderabad    

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India, along with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India in association with Government of Telangana is organizing the 21stNational Conference on e-Governance on February 26- 27, 2018 in Hyderabad, Telangana.

  • Union Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S. Chowdary will preside over the inaugural session of the conference.
  • The theme of the Conference this year is, ‘Technology for accelerating Development’.
  • The Inaugural Session will be followed by 3 Plenary Sessions on Day1 based on themes: Building User Experience, Universalization and Replication and Governing e-Governance while on Day2 the two Plenary Sessions will be based on e-Governance Good/ Best Practices, Emerging Technologies.

35. Hyderabad hosted 15th edition of BioAsia 2018

The 15th edition of BioAsia, the annual flagship programme of Government of Telangana was held from 22-24th February 2018 at Hyderabad International Convention Center (HICC) in Hyderabad.

  • Theme of BioAsia 2018 was “RIGHT TIME, RIGHT NOW”.
  • For this year’s event, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa were international partners whereas the States of Gujarat, Assam and Rajasthan were the state partners.

36. UIDAI introduces special blue coloured ‘Baal Aadhaar’

Aadhaar is increasingly becoming mandatory to make use of most of the government schemes and other activities such as getting a new SIM card or opening a new bank account.

  • Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has now introduced a blue coloured ‘Baal Aadhaar’ card for children below the age of 5 years.
  • All children below the age of 5 don’t need to give biometric details for getting an Aadhaar card.

37. ‘SRIJAN’ has been launched at MyGov portal

Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) is taking up redevelopment of around 600 major Railway stations across the country.

  • In this mega exercise, assistance and involvement of all stakeholders i.e. railway passengers, urban planners, architects, engineers is important.
  • Towards this objective of stakeholders’ consultation, an idea competition for development of 635 stations on Indian Railways, ‘SRIJAN’ (Station Rejuvenation Initiative through Joint ActioN) has been launched at MyGov portal since 26.01.2018.
  • The last date for submission of entries in this competition is 26.03.2018. The winners will get certificates and worthy ideas will be incorporated in the designs.

38. Intermodal Stations to come up in 15 cities

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has conducted detailed pre-feasibility studies for setting up Intermodal Stations at Nagpur and Varanasi, and the development of DPRs for this is in final stages of completion.

  • Fifteen cities across the country have been prioritized for development of IMS of which Nagpur and Varanasi have been selected as pilot projects.
  • Intermodal Stations are terminal infrastructure which integrate various transportation modes like rail, road, mass rapid transit system, bus rapid transit, inland waterways, auto-rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles etc, so that people can move from one mode to another seamlessly, with minimum use of automobiles.

39. CSIR signs MoU with IORA: CSIR-CIMAP to host coordinating center on medicinal plants

 

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has entered into a MoU with the Regional Center for Science and Technology Transfer (RCSTT) of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for designating Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow (CSIR-CIMAP) as Coordinating Center on Medicinal Plants.

  • The MoU was signed by Prof. Anil Kumar Tripathi, Director CSIR-CIMAP and Dr. A. Sedrpousan, Director, IORA-RCSTT.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Girish Sahni, DG, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR.
  • The delegation also attended the 31st Khwarizmi International Award Ceremony which was addressed by H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • The IORA Center at CSIR-CIMAP will establish a database on the important medicinal plants, their value added products, related experts and industries of the IORA member states and organize meetings and training programmes to promote trade, commerce and scientific exchanges to complement the strength and limitation of the member states.

40. 7th meeting of EPG on Nepal-India relations concludes

The seventh meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Nepal-India relations has concluded in Kathmandu.

  • Various bilateral issues including 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty, trade, environment, border and hydropower were discussed during two-day meeting.

Points to Remember

  • EPG is a joint mechanism consisting experts and intellectuals from India and Nepal.
  • It was set up in February 2016 to provide suggestions for updating all existing bilateral treaties and agreements between both the countries.
  • Next meeting of the group will be held in New Delhi.

41. Bihar is national topper in FY17 growth, with 10.3 pc

Bihar clocked a growth rate of 10.3 per cent in 2016-2017 as against 7.5 per cent in the corresponding fiscal a year ago, according to the latest Economic Survey tabled in the state Assembly.

  • Bihar’s growth rate is higher than that of the national average of 7.0 per cent, the 12th Economic Survey of Bihar said.
  • The state has consistently been revenue surplus, which increased from Rs 5,101 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 10,819 crore in 2016-17.

42. Govt sanctions Rs. 1200 cr to clear pollution in Delhi

In a move to provide Delhi residents relief from the burgeoning air pollution crisis in the city, the central government has sanctioned schemes worth Rs 1,200 crore to keep a check on alarming pollution levels in the capital.

  • According to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, on account of the air quality worsening in Delhi due to burning crop residue from October to December months, the schemes will help curb pollution.

43. Second India-Korea Business Summit Held

Second India-Korea Business Summit organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, in partnership with ChosunILbo, KOTRA, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Invest India, was held in New Delhi.

  • Aim of the summit is to strengthen the economic relationship, boost trade relations and increase investments between India and Republic of Korea.
  • The roundtable included delegates from both Governments and 25 CEOs from leading Korean companies with an estimated revenue of USD 575 billion.

44. Uma Bharti launches 2nd project of Swajal Yojana in Rajasthan

Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, launched the Swajal pilot project at Village Bhikampura, Karauli, Rajasthan.

  • Besides ensuring the availability of clean drinking water to every household round the year, the project would also generate employment.
  • She inaugurated the pilot Swajal Project at Bhikampura with a budget of more than 54.17 lakh rupees.

45. Shri J P Nadda chairs 5th meeting of Mission Steering Group of NHM

“The Health and Wellness Centers are expected to provide preventive, promotive, rehabilitative and curative care for a package of 12 services.”

  • This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare as he chaired the 5th meeting of the Mission Steering Group of the National Health Mission (NHM) in New Delhi.
  • Shri Hardeep S Puri, Union Minister of State (I/C) Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Smt. Anupriya Patel, Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare and Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog were also present at the meeting.

46. National Science Day: 28 February

National Science Day is celebrated in India on 28 February each year to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman on 28 February 1928.

  • For his discovery, Sir C.V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
  • The theme of the year 2018 is “Science and Technology for a sustainable future.”

47. British bank RBS hires “digital human” Cora on probation

A life-like avatar called Cora is being put through her paces by Royal Bank of Scotland, helping customers with basic queries and giving its digital banking drive a more human face.

  • RBS, which recently axed a quarter of its branches and has announced thousands of job cuts in the past year alone as it reduces costs, will only deploy Cora to NatWest customers if the bank’s female avatar passes her probation period.
  • Cora, which is undergoing advanced testing as part of a pilot programme at RBS, could even be used to train members of staff.

48. EPFO cuts interest rate to 8.55% for 2017-18

Retirement fund body Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has reduced interest rate on deposits to 8.55% for 2017-18 following a general decline in interest rates.

  • The decision was taken by EPFO’s central board of trustees at its 220th board meeting, labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said.
  • EPFO had announced an interest rate of 8.65% for 2016-17 and 8.8% in 2015-16.

49. India signs MoU with Canada’s International Development Research Centre

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of India and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), to usher the “programme based research support” in addressing current and future global and local developmental challenges, was signed on 22 February, 2018.

  • Since 1972, IDRC has funded 551 research activities worth CA$159 million in India through institutions, researchers and NGOs.
  • During the last five years (2012-17), 96 research projects worth CA$ 51 million were funded by the IDRC in India.

50. Telangana, Taiwan signs agreement for better technology partnership

The Telangana Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Taoyuan City of Taiwan for better technology partnership in the state.

  • The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2018, concluded earlier with Telangana, India handing over the baton to Armenia for the 2019 edition.

51. Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank begins operations

Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank today became the fourth such entity to begin operations since issuance of licenses to 11 firms by RBI in August 2015.

  • Telecom major Bharti Airtel was the first to begin the payments bank operations in November 2016 and the Aditya Birla group-promoted firm is the latest to join the bandwagon.
  • The Department of Posts, which also got a license for a payment bank is yet to start its services formally, but it is running some operations on a pilot basis.

52. ADB and India Sign $ 84 Million Loan for Bihar

The Government of India and The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $84 million loan for improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in Bihar.

  • The tranche 2 loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Program that was approved by ADB in 2012 to provide sustainable urban infrastructure and services in four towns in Bihar – Bhagalpur, Gaya, Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur.
  • The loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15% per year.

53. Indo-German MOU on technical cooperation under Urban Development

An Indo-German MOU has been signed for an “Implementation Agreement in Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities in India”.

  • The objective of the programme is to develop and apply concepts for sustainable urban development about the provision of urban basic services and housing in selected cities and Smart Cities in India.
  • The ‘Sustainable Urban Development Programme – Smart Cities in India’ project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and jointly implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

54. RBI launches Ombudsman Scheme for NBFCs

The RBI has launched ‘Ombudsman Scheme’ for non-banking financial companies (NBFC) for redressal of complaints against them.

  • The scheme will provide a cost-free and expeditious complaint redressal mechanism relating to deficiency in the services by NBFCs covered under the Scheme.
  • The offices of the NBFC ombudsmen will function at four metro centres — Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

55. Paytm launches two more firms to enter insurance sector

On a rapid expansion mode mobile fintech major Paytm has launched two more firms with an aim to enter the insurance sector in the country.

  • This move has taken its total count of companies to six.
  • The Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led firm has started Paytm Life Insurance Corporation Limited as well as Paytm General Insurance Corporation Limited. Both the companies have Sharma as one of the directors.

56. EESL signs MoUs of Rs. 3,730 crore with Andhra govt

The government-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has signed MoUs with Andhra Pradesh government to invest Rs 3,730 crore in the state.

  • The MoUs, spanning across e-mobility, energy efficiency and renewable energy and aimed to create 15,000 jobs, were signed at CII Partnership Summit.
  • Through the MoUs, EESL, a joint venture of PSUs under the Union Power Ministry, hopes to save Rs 3,185 crore.

57. E-way bill for interstate goods movement from April 1

The e-way bill, to be generated under the GST for all inter-state movement of goods valued at over Rs 50,000, will become mandatory from April 1.

  • The recommendation of the Group of Ministers on Information Technology would be considered by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council during its March 10 meeting.
  • However, the implementation date for intra-state movement of goods is not yet decided and it would be implemented in a phase-wise manner.

58. Centre names 9,500 ‘high risk’ NBFCs

The government has categorised about 9,500 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in the country as “high risk” prone as they had not complied with a stipulated provision of the anti-money laundering law.

  • A list of 9,491 “high risk financial institutions” has been published by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that functions under the Union Finance Ministry.

59. Google ties up with SBI for mobile payments app Tez

Internet giant Google has tied up with State Bank of India (SBI) for its mobile payments app Tez.

  • Through this partnership, Google Tez will allow users to create an SBI UPI Id – @oksbi and get access to exclusive offers for SBI customers.
  • The partnership will focus on building unique propositions for users and merchants, including specially curated offers.

60. KYC norms for e-wallets made mandatory from March 1

Users of prepaid payment instruments (PPI) such as mobile wallets will have to complete the KYC requirements by February 28 as the Reserve Bank of India has refused to extend the deadline any further.

  • Those who do not comply with the KYC norms will not be allowed to load money into their respective wallet accounts or carry out remittance-based transactions.
  • They will also not be allowed to transfer the cash in the wallet account to their bank accounts.

61. Govt ropes in Nandan Nilekani for developing IT infrastructure for healthcare scheme

Tech billionaire Nandan Nilekani will assist the government in developing IT infrastructure for the mega National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), which seeks to cover 10-crore families.

  • The IT infrastructure for the healthcare scheme will be of a huge scale as was required for Aadhar and will have to be scaled up gradually in view of the massive range of the programme.
  • Former UIDAI chairman Nilekani – the brain behind the Aadhaar – is also a member of the GST return simplification committee.

62. Rahul Mahajan is Rajya Sabha TV Editor-in-Chief

Senior journalist Rahul Mahajan has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of Rajya Sabha TV, owned and operated by the Upper House of Parliament.

  • A five-member selection panel, chaired by Prasar Bharti Chairman A. Surya Prakash, recommended Mahajan’s appointment and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu approved it.
  • Mahajan, who hails from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, has 26 years of media experience, including 23 years in various news channels.

63. Subbarayudu appointed the Ambassador of Bolivia

M. Subbarayudu has been appointed the next Ambassador of India to Plurinational State of Bolivia.

  • He is currently the Ambassador of India to Lima.
  • He has been concurrently appointed the next Ambassador of India to Bolivia. He will soon take up this new assignment.

64. Michael McCormack becomes Australia deputy PM

A former regional newspaper editor, Michael McCormack, has been chosen as Australia’s new deputy prime minister.

  • He replaces Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals, the governing coalition’s junior partner.
  • Mr Joyce resigned over his affair with a former staffer, after holding the post for two years.

65. PyeongChang Winter Olympics concludes

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics concluded with a spectacular closing ceremony here on February 25.

  • The grand event ran through 17 days and saw 2,920 athletes competing from 92 nations.

Points to Remember

  • Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, while Beijing will welcome the countries for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
  • Norway won a record 39 medals overall to finish on top while Germany finish second with 31 medals.

66. Parupalli Kashyap lifts first title in three years

Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap clinched his first international title in over three years as he overcame Malaysia’s June Wei Cheam to emerge men’s singles champion at the Austrian Open International Challenge.

  • Kashyap, a former National champion and second seed, saw off Cheam 23-21 21-14 in a 37-minute clash.
  • His last title came at the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships in 2015.

67. Sameer Verma lifts Swiss Open title

Indian shuttler Sameer Verma dished out a clinical performance to outwit former world no 2 Jan O Jorgensen and clinch the men’s singles title at the $150,000 Swiss Open Super 300 tournament.

  • The 23-year-old Sameer showed great anticipation and technique to bamboozle Jorgensen 21-15, 21-13 in a lop-sided contest.

68. Aruna wins bronze at Gymnastics World Cup

Aruna Budda Reddy became the first Indian gymnast to clinch an individual medal at the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne by securing bronze in the women’s vault.

  • Reddy, 22, scored 13.649 to finish behind gold medallist Tjasa Kysslef of Slovania and Emily Whitehead of Australia who took silver.
  • The other Indian woman in contention, Pranati Nayak finished sixth with a score of 13.416.

69. Karnataka beat Saurashtra to win Vijay Hazare Trophy

Sensible batting from opener Mayank Agarwal (90) helped Karnataka outplay Saurashtra by 41 runs in the final match of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50-overs cricket tournament.

  • Following the win, Karnataka pacer Sreenath Arvind also announced his retirement from first-class and list A cricket.
  • This is the third title for Karnataka.

Points to Remember

  • The Vijay Hazare Trophy was started in 2002–03 as a limited-overs cricket domestic competition involving state teams from the Ranji Trophy plates.
  • It is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Haza

70. Violinist M S Anantharaman dies aged 94

Noted violinist M S Anantharaman, a prominent figure in the Parur school of music founded by Sundaram Iyer, died due to age-related illness. He was 94.

  • He had popularised the Parur bani with his brother and veteran violinist MSG on the musical map of the world.

71. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ambassador Kunwar Bai passes away

106 year-old Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Ambassador Kunwar Bai, who was felicitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her unique move to build toilets in her village in Chhattisgarh, died following a prolonged illness.

  • On February 21, 2016, while launching the National Rurban Mission Project at a public rally at Dungargarh in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district, the Prime Minister had touched her feet and felicitated her after he came to know that the woman had sold off about one dozen of her goats to build a toilet in her house and motivated others to make the village open defecation free.

72. Bollywood actor Sridevi passes away

Bollywood actor Sridevi passed away in Dubai after a cardiac arrest. She was 54.

  • Sridevi worked in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films before entering Hindi films.
  • Her most remarkable films include Sadma, Chandni, Himmatwala, ChaalBaaz, Mr India, Nagina, Mawali, Tohfa and Gumrah among others.
  • The government of India awarded her Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour, in 2013.

73. Former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian Dies At 79

Former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian has passed away aged 79, officials said.

  • Mr Subramanian was the cabinet secretary from August 1, 1996, to March 31, 1998.
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (MoS) for Personnel Jitendra Singh and other senior IAS officers have condoled his death.
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