Current Affairs February 25 2019

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Current Affairs February 25 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated 3rd Edition of VIVID 2019
3rd Edition ofVIVID-Vision Insight and Voices as India goes Digital”- the District Informatics Officer (DIO) meet, was organised by National Informatics Centre (NIC) from 21st to 22nd February, 2019, as an initiative to interact with the DIO’s and to share their experiences as well as contribution, as digital change-makers at the grass-root level in the States.

i. Union Minister of Electronics and IT, Law and Justice Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, inaugurated the event with conferring of NIC TechGov Awards and Swachhta Awards.
ii.He also released the Digital India Compendium and launched Digidhan Mitra Chatbot and Technology incubation and development of entrepreneurs (TIDE 2.0) scheme.
iii.The following Centres of Excellence were also launched by him:

  • IOT Open lab,Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) Bengaluru: It intends to support 100 start-ups per year with an overall target to support 500 start-ups over a period of 5 years.
  • Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) Incubation,STPI Bhubaneswar: to promote ESDM innovation, R&D and create Indian intellectual property is the first of its kind in the Eastern Region of the country. The incubator will be implemented by STPI in collaboration with Government of Odisha, International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bhubaneswar and India Electronics and Semiconductor Association(IESA)with an aim to leverage 40 start-ups over period of 5 years.
  • Emerging Technologies, NASSCOM, Gandhinagar: for IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) at IIT Gandhinagar to add momentum to the deep tech innovation ecosystem and has the major focus areas of manufacturing (Industry 4.0), Biotech, Pharma and healthcare.
  • Emerging Technologies, NASSCOM, Vishakapatnam: for IoT at Vizag in partnership with NASSCOM and Government of Andhra Pradesh to focus on technology intervention for bringing positive change in Agriculture, Healthcare and Industry 4.0.

CBIC Constituted 3 Working Groups to study and recommend measures to facilitate trade, promote exports and improve compliance
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) constituted 3 Working Groups to study and recommend measures to facilitate trade, promote exports and improve compliance.
i. They will focus on:

  • improving the legislative structure of customs tariff and update it to suit the emerging and future needs of the economy and industry with special focus to create a comprehensive export tariff structure to enhance India’s export competitiveness
  • export promotion and facilitation with emphasis on boosting exports through e-commerce, addressing the trade facilitation barriers faced in India’s export markets and improving the quality of logistics services for exporters
  • enhancing compliance, plugging loopholes to improve revenue collection on customs and curb IGST refund frauds

ii. The groups will consult the stakeholders extensively, including the Export Promotion Councils and relevant wings of the Ministry of Commerce and industry and submit their report within a period of 2 months.
iii. The recommendations will be taken-up for the implementation on priority and will further enhance the ease of doing business and export competitiveness.
iv. CBIC will be using advanced data analytics tools for augmenting revenue and curbing frauds.
About CBIC
♦ Chairman – Pranab Kumar Das
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

3 Day International Conference and Exhibition on Energy and Environment inaugurated by President of India in New Delhi
On 20th February 2019, International Conference and Exhibition on Energy and Environment was inaugurated in New Delhi by the President Ram Nath Kovind.

i. The conference has been organized by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and would go on for 3 days.
ii. The conference aims to identify the research and development needs of new innovations, technologies and applications for clean, safe, sustainable development of society, environment, energy and industries in years following 2020.
iii. The President stressed on the following:

  • India’s commitment in providing affordable power to all the citizens.
  • Providing impetus to the national economy through by Industrial revolution 4.0.
  • Need to ideate and brainstorm on environmental issues which are related to use of fossil fuels and renewable sources of energy.

An industrial exhibition was also organized in the Vigyan Bhawan and was inaugurated by Union Science & Technology Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

4th India-ASEAN Expo and Summit held in New Delhi
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, inaugurated the 4th India-ASEAN Expo and Summit, held from 21st to 23rd February, 2019, in New Delhi.

i. It flagship event of Department of Commerce, being organised with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to carry forward the momentum and to further strengthen India-ASEAN relations under the Act-East Policy.
ii. According to the recently published United Nations’ World Economic Situation and Prospects Report 2019, India and ASEAN are set to outpace the global growth.India continues to be the fastest growing major economy and is expected to grow at 7.2% in 2019 and ASEAN at 5.2%, with many economies within ASEAN with a growth of more than 6%.
iii. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) countries in ASEAN are also on a higher growth trajectory. This is indeed a manifestation of the new emerging world economic order, wherein India and ASEAN have a significant place.
About Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN)
♦ Comprises of Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia and Brunei.
♦ Headquarters – Jakarta, Indonesia
♦ Secretary-General – Lim Jock Hoi (Brunei)

14th Agricultural Science Congress held at New Delhi
The 14th Agricultural Science Congress was organized by National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute at National Agricultural Science Complex (NASC) in New Delhi from 20th to 23rd February 2019.

i. The theme of the event was “Innovations for Agricultural Transformation” and it is central to the national complementary pledges of building a New India and Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022.
ii. The 4-day event included technical sessions, plenary sessions, public lectures, farmers sessions, poster presentations, inter-university student elocution contest, panel discussions and number of satellite meetings. ASC-AgriTech-2019 exhibition was the major highlight of the event.
iii. NAAS presented the “Dr. B.P.Pal Memorial Award for Excellence in Agricultural Sciences” to Prof. Ram Badan Sing for his outstanding contributions towards overall agricultural research and development for the Biennium 2017-18.
iv. Dr. A.B.Joshi Memorial Lecture Award” was given to Dr. R.A. Mashelkar,Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research(CSIR).”
v. Dr. K. Ramiah Award” was given to Dr. Kailash Chander Bansal, Former Director, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) and many such awards and accolades including Endowment award, Recognition award and Young scientist award in different sectors of agriculture sciences were presented on the occasion.

Bihar becomes the 1st state to deploy dog squad to check liquor smuggling
Bihar has become the first state to deploy specially-trained dogs to check smuggling of liquor which continues to take place inspite of total ban imposed in the state for the last 3 years. 20 liquor-tracker dogs were trained rigorously for nine months in Hyderabad, Telangana.
i. They were trained at Hyderabad-based Integrated Intelligence Training Academy. Patna will witness deployment of 4 such dogs.
ii. This action was taken after the seizure of more than three million litres of illegal alcohol since April 2016.

Uttarakhand CM launches helpline for quick redressal of public complaints
On 23rd February 2019, a helpline for quick redressal of public complaints was launched by  Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the IT Park in Dehradun.
i. The helpline number for lodging complaints is 1905. To deal with the redressal issues, call centres shall be open from 8am to 10pm.
ii. Citizens can contact any govt department as the step has been taken to ensure speedy functioning of the government departments and step up transparency in their work.
iii. Currently, 10 people have been deployed at the call centre.
iv. There’ll be a rating mechanism for the government departments which will enhance accountability in officials.

Odisha launches boat ambulance service for remote areas
A boat ambulance service has been launched by the Odisha government.

i. It would be used to transport patients to hospitals in remote areas.The cost of the project is Rs 5.40 crore.
ii. The ambulance service can be availed by dialling ‘108’.
iii. The first boat ambulance was introduced at Batighar in Kendrapara district.
iv. Six boat ambulances have been added to the project out of which two boat ambulances have been assigned to Malkangiri and Kendrapara districts and one for each of Koraput and Kalahandi.
Key points:
i. The project includes:

  • 6 boat ambulances
  • 60 jetties with walkway

ii. The operational cost of each ambulance would be about Rs 90 lakh yearly

44th Global Summit of International Advertising Association held in Kochi
The 44th IAA World Congress was organised in Kochi International Advertising Association (IAA),Kerala from 20th– 22nd February 2019.
i. The conference lasted for 3 days. It involved sessions from a wide variety of speakers-ranging from a spiritual guru, industrial leaders to technology experts and so on. The highlight of the event was a robot trying to answer theme-based question-“Brand Dharma, What’s coming next?”
ii. Brand Dharma incorporates concepts like environmental impacts of products, their source of raw materials, how many people are involved in the process etc.


Cobra Gold, one of world’s largest multinational military exercises, held in Thailand
Thailand and the United States hosted the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

i. Apart from the 2 countries, 7 countries who participated in the exercise were India,Singapore, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.
ii. The Indian Army participated in the military training exercise with a 14-member contingent.
iii. Thai Chief of Defense Forces,Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the U.S. Army First Corps, Lt. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, representing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command attended the opening ceremony.
About Cobra Gold

  • It is a military training exercise to improve the coordination between the armed forces of the United States and Thailand in both hostile and humanitarian efforts and has been held in Thailand annually since its inception in 1982.
  • India participated in this exercise for the first time in the ‘Observer Plus’ category in 2016 alongside China.

Donald Trump signs SPD-4 to create US Space Force
US President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4), ordering the Pentagon to establish the Space Force as the 6th branch of the United States military, to go along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard,in order to secure and extend American dominance of the space domain.

SPD-4, as the name suggests, is Mr Trump’s 4th space policy directive. The initial 3 were:

  • SPD-1- directed NASA to get humans back to the Moon as a stepping-stone to Mars.
  • SPD-2 – streamlined regulations for the commercial space sector.
  • SPD-3 – dealt with space traffic management.

About USA
♦ Capital – Washington D. C.
♦ Currency – US Dollar
♦ President – Donald Trump

150 Sri Lankan students awarded Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship
150 (Advanced Level) AL students from all 25 districts of Sri Lanka were awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship for Study in India by Sri Lankan Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu at a special ceremony in Colombo.
i. This was the 12th year in continuum that India has provided the scholarship to Sri Lankan students.
ii.This year’s awardees received Rs. 30,000 annually during their two years of Advanced Level studies.
Related Point
India recently launched a new Portal titled “Study in India” and more than 25,000 seats are earmarked in Indian Institutions for foreign students.
About Sri Lanka
♦ Capital – Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
♦ Currency – Sri Lankan Rupee
♦ President – Maithripala Sirisena

Month-long ‘Festival of India’ begins in Nepal
A month-long ‘Festival of India’ began was inaugurated in Kathmandu, Nepal on 19th February 2019 by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri. It is being organised by the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Embassy of India.

i. The festival aims at making the youth aware about the similarities between Nepal and India.
ii. The festival started with a musical drama on the life of Lord Buddha. Sanskrit conference, dance, food festival and other cultural programmes will also be held during the festival.


RBI formalised USD 75-billion swap pact with Bank of Japan
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)and the Bank of Japan formalised the USD 75- billion swap agreement, which would act as a cushion against any sharp swings in the local currency whenever the international financial markets turn volatile.
i. It will enable the availability of USD 75-billion in foreign capital for use as and when the need arises, bringing greater stability to the foreign exchange and capital markets in India and serve as a second line of defence as India has about USD 398 billion foreign exchange reserves to cushion sudden dollar outflows.
ii. The proposal for entering into an agreement for the bilateral swap arrangement was approved by the Union Cabinet in January 2019.
iii.This BSA provides for India to access 75 billion in US dollars whereas the earlier BSA had provided for USD 50 billion. The agreement for the BSA will be effective from February 28, 2019.
iv. With this, India can access the agreed amount of USD 75 billion for its domestic currency, for the purpose of maintaining an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.
About Japan
♦ Capital – Tokyo
♦ Currency – Japanese Yen
♦ Prime Minister – Shinzo Abe
About RBI
♦ Governor – Shaktikanta Das
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai

Rs 300 crore Women’s Livelihood Bond launched by World Bank, UN and SIDBI
World Bank, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women(UN Women), and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) launched new social impact bonds exclusively for women, called Women’s Livelihood Bonds (WLBs), with an initial corpus of Rs 300 crore.

i. It will enable individual women entrepreneurs in sectors like food processing, agriculture, services and small units to borrow around Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakhat an annual interest rate of around 13% to 14% or less and have a tenure of 5 years.
ii. They will be unsecured, unlisted bonds and offer fixed coupon rate of 3% per annum to bond investors.
About World Bank
♦ Interim President – Kristalina Georgieva
♦ Headquarters – Washington D. C.
About UN Women
♦ Executive Director – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
♦ Headquarters – New York
♦ Chairman & Managing Director – Mohammad Mustafa
♦ Headquarters – Lucknow


Jio Saavn only Indian company to make it to ‘50 Most Innovative Companies’ list
On 23rd February 2019, Jio Saavn– an India-based global audio and music that it scored the 1st rank among Indian companies and 28th rank globally in the 2019 list of “50 Most Innovative Companies”.

i. Jio Saavn is the only Indian company to have made into the list.
ii. The other domestic companies that ranked top on the India list of “Most Innovative Companies” are OYO rooms, biodegradable sanitary pad manufacturers Sathi and app based can service Ola.
iii.In accordance with the list published by US-based business publication Fast Company.


ONGC Rajahmundry wins environmental excellence award
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC)’s Rajahmundry unit won the Energy and Environment Foundation Global Clean Awards-2019 for sustained efforts in pursuit of Swachh Bharat Mission as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a function in New Delhi.
i. It has also received Platinum Award under Apex India Environment Excellence Award 2018 from Apex India Foundation for excellence in environmental management in Petroleum Sector.
About ONGC
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) – Shashi Shankar

Harmanpreet Singh named as Player of the Year and Lalremsiami as Rising Player of The Yearby the Asian Hockey Federation
Harmanpreet Singh was awarded the 2018 Player of the Year award while women’s team striker Lalremsiami as the Rising Player of The Year,by the Asian Hockey Federation.

i. Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan and also contributed to the team’s silver medal win at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda.
ii. 18-year-old Lalremsiami, has shown remarkable progress in the women’s team with her impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup and the Asian Games where the team won Silver medal and was also a part of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires where the under-18 team won a silver.
iii. The Indian men’s team was awarded the Best Performance of The Year for being the only Asian side to have reached the top eight at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.


Brij Bhushan Sharan elected as WFI President for the third time
Brijbhushan Sharan Singh was elected as the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for a third time.
i. Along with him, other office bearers were also elected and they will serve WFI for a 3-year term.
Elected office bearers of WFI:

  • President: Brijbhushan Sharan Singh
  • Senior Vice President: I.D. Nanavati
  • Secretary General: V.N. Prasood
  • Treasurer: Satyapal Singh Deshwal
  • Vice President: Asit Kumar Saha, Hamza Bin Omer, N. Phoni, N. Khalo, R.K. Hooda, Bhola Nath Singh, Karan Bhushan Singh, B.S. Langde.

ii. Returning Officer, Justice R. B.Misra, a retired judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court conducted the elections.

State Governor of Sudan Ayala Appointed Sudan’s Prime Minister
On 23rd February 2019, the governor of Gezira state, Mohamed Tahir Ayala was appointed as Sudan’s Prime Minister.

i. Sudan’s Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf was appointed as first vice president while remaining in his defence post.
ii. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a one-year nationwide state of emergency on Friday and set up a caretaker administration but retained his defence, foreign and justice ministers.


Iran launched cruise missile from submarine for the first time during war drills
Iran launched a cruise missile from a submarine for the first time during ongoing annual military drill named “Velayat-97” in the Strait of Hormuz.The “anti-ship cruise missile” was launched from a Ghadir-class submarine.”
i. An image showing a green submarine on the surface of the water launching an orange missile was released by Fars news agency and the other submarines are said to have the same capability.
About Iran
♦ Capital – Tehran
♦ Currency – Iranian Rial
♦ President – Hassan Rouhani


India suspended by IOC From Hosting International Sporting Events after Pakistan Shooters were Denied Visa
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.

i. It was after India denied visa requests of two shooters from Pakistan who were due to take part in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Competition during International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup event held in New Delhi following the attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Pulwama, which killed at least 40 CRPF paramilitary police.
ii. The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympicrelated events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.
iii. The Indian Olympic Association last year laid out an ambitious road-map to host the Youth Olympics in 2026, the Asian Games in 2030 and the Summer Olympics for the first time in 2032.

Chennai Spartans won Pro Volleyball League title
Chennai Spartans won the inaugural edition of the Pro Volleyball League(PVL) by defeating Calicut Heroes by 3-0 in Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai
i. League’s top scorer and best spiker Rudy Verhoeff, scored 13 points (11 spikes and 2 blocks) for the Chennai Spartans while Ajith Lal was the highest scorer with nine points (9 spikes) for the Calicut Heroes.
ii. With this win, Chennai Spartans have qualified for this year’s Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, where they will represent India.


Central Excise day observed on 24th February,2019
On 24th February 2019, Central Excise day is observed annually on 24th February in India.

i. Various programs and seminars were organized New Delhi and other states.
ii. Numerous programs were conducted to spread awareness among the buyers and the sellers regarding the new excise rules and regulations for easy implementation and maximum benefit.
iii. The day commemorates the establishment of the Central Excise and Salt Act on 24 February 1944.

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