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Current Affairs Today – February 1 2017

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union budget 2017-2018
Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley presented the Union budget 2017-2018 in Lok Sabha on February 1, 2017. This is the fourth budget by the Narendra Modi government.It is the first budget after major changes in Indian economy like Goods and Services Tax and Demonetization in 2016.
The Budget for 2017-18 contains three major reforms.
1.Presented on Februray 1, 2017 instead of usual practice of being presented on last day of February.
2.Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget
3.Abolition of Planned & Non-Planned Expenditure
Agenda of Union Budget 2017-18
i. The agenda for the Union Budget 2017-18 is TEC India, where T stands for Transform, E stands for Energize and C for Clean.
ii. The agenda seeks to transform the quality of governance and life of people;  Energise various sections of society especially the youth and the vulnerable to bring out the best in them and Clean the country from the evils of corruption, black money and non-transparent political funding.
iii. The total Budget expenditure allocated for 2017-18 is Rs. 21.47 lakh crores.
10 Pillars of Budget 2017-18
The Budget 2017-18 is based on 10 distinct pillars to meet the TEC India agenda.
2.Rural PopulationBudget
4.Poor and the Underprivileged
6.Financial Sector
7.Digital Economy
8.Public Service
9.Prudent Fiscal Management
10.Tax Administration

Government Clears that Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has no provision for cash transfer component
i. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has clarified that there is no provision for individual cash transfer component in Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme.
ii. The Scheme simply focuses on generating awareness about girl child and changing the mindsets and deep rooted patriarchy of the society and improve the efficiency of welfare services for girls.
iii .The clarification came after the report that some unauthorised sites, organisations, NGOs and individuals were distributing forms in the name of cash incentive under the scheme.
iv. The centre said that there is no cash incentive associated in any form for B3P scheme and distribution of such forms was completely illegal.
v. The ministry has also adviced the people to report any such incidents to the nearest police station and the concerned District Collector and District Magistrate. 

Union Cabinet Gives Green Signal to Amend Bill to Modify Scheduled Castes list in Odisha
i. The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minster Narendra Modi on February 1, 2017 gave its approval to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 Bill to make changes the list of Scheduled Castes in Odisha.
ii. Besides, the cabinet also approved amending the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964 to change the name of the Union Territory Pondicherry to Puducherry.
iii. The amended Bill will be shortly introduced in the parliament under the name Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
iv. Additionally, Sualgiri/Swalgiri caste which is a part of already included Sabakhia caste has been made eligible to be included in the list of SC in Odisha.

High-Level Consultations on Counter-Terrorism Held Between India & Russia in New Delhi
i. A high-level consultation was held between India and Russia on January 31, 2017 in New Delhi to share views on threats posed by terrorism.
ii. Indian side was led by Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs while Russia was led by H.E. Oleg V. Syromolotov, Deputy Foreign Minister.
iii. Both sides shared views on issues related to terrorism including state-sponsored, cross border terrorism faced by India.”
iv. The two sides agreed to comply with the UNSC 1267 Sanctions List processes for blacklisting various terrorists and entities.
v. Besides discussing the threat on the issue, both the nation also shared experiences of successful measures taken to curb terrorism and countering radicalization.
vi. They shared concerns related to the existence of Af-Pak region as the main centre of terrorism.
vii. The two leaders emphasized the need to deepen the engagement on counter-terrorism under the UN, BRICS and SCO mechanisms
viii. A joint action plan has been agreed upon by the two countries to focus on enhancing capacity building, frequent expert-level meetings, sharing of insights, exchange of best practices in countering radicalisation and curbing terrorism.
♦ Capital: Moscow
♦ Currency: Russian ruble
♦ President: Vladimir Putin
♦ Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev

Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of loans under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) of PMAY from 15 to 20 years
i. The Union cabinet led by PM Modi has given its approval on February 1, 2017 to extend the tenure of loans under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Mission from the current 15 years to 20 years.
ii. Besides the scheme has been introduced for the middle income group (MIG) category and an initial allocation of Rs. 1000 crore has been made at Budgetary Estimate stage in 2017-18 for the proposed CLSS for MIG.
iii. For economically weaker sections of society/Lower Income Group (LIG), the scheme has been named as CLSS.
iv. The Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) that have signed an MoU with the Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs), under the CLSS of PMAY (Urban) have also been directed to extend the necessary conditions of their MoU to CLSS for MIG with appropriate changes as applicable.
v. The schemes aim to ensure greater participation amongst the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), LIG and MIG segment of the society to provide Housing for All by 2022.
vi. The interest subsidy would be disbursed to the home loan account of the beneficiaries by the PLIs.

Introduction of Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament Approved by Cabinet
i. The Union Cabinet approved introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament on February 1, 2017.
ii. The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014, which defines the status of Institutions of National Importance on the IIITs and also provides for matters connected with administering these IIITs.
iii. The amended Bill aims to include Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM), Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh in the Act and declare it as an institute of National Importance with the power to award degrees to students
iv. With this IIITDM, Kurnool will become the fifth Member of IIIT to be funded by government. IITDM, Kurnool runs on the Plan funds of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
v. The Institute will be open to all persons irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, domicile, ethnicity, social or economic background.

Venkaiah Naidu Inaugurates Digital Radio Round Table Conference
i. Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu was inaugurated the Digital Radio or All Round Table Conference in New Delhi on January 31, 2017
ii. Organiser:  Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) and Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL)
iii. Aim: To stimulate the interests of the key Indian stakeholders in the public phase launch of the project to digitise radio in India, following the successful installation of DRM digital radio transmitters by All India Radio (AIR).
iv. What is DRM ?
The Digital Radio Mondiale(DRM) broadcasting system is specifically designed to allow the new digital transmission system to co-exist with the current analogue broadcasts.


USD 3.3 billion assistance Launched by UNICEF
i. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched an appeal for the year 2017 on January 31, 2017 for USD 3.3 billion to help over 48 million children across the globe who are driven Nepal designated to UNICEF's executive board memberfrom their homes due to conflict, disasters and climate change.
ii. The appeal was made with regards to the fear that US may cut down its funding which is the top donor contributing about 40 percent to the international organizations.
iii. Among the UNICEF appeal for 2017, nearly 42 percent, USD 1.4 billion, would be used to support children from Syria living as refugees across the borders in neighboring states. Besides, the assistance would also focus on countries like Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria which heavily affected children due to wars.
iv. The appeal for 2017 is 18 percent more than the previous year. The Top donor countries include s United States, Germany, Britain and European Commission.
v. UNICEF is continuously trying to ensure that children have access to school to avoid lost of generation of youth in future.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States
♦ CEO: Anthony Lake
♦ Founded: 11 December 1946

World’s Largest Battery Storage Plant Unveiled in California
i. Tesla Motor Inc. and Southern California Edison have jointly launched World’s largest energy storage facilities on January 30, 2017 at the utility’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California.
ii. The facility was unveiled as part of the massive deployment of grid-connected batteries agreement made between the two companies in September 2016.
iii. The facility would reduce dependence on fossil fuels for generating energy and take advantage of wind and sun to deliver clean energy to power homes, businesses among other things.
iv. It is the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world consisting of 396 stacks of Tesla Powerpack units spread across 1.5 acres. Each unit is fitted with 16,000 lithium-ion battery cells. The battery can store upto 80 megawatt hours to power 2,500 homes for a day or 15,000 homes for four hours.
v. The batteries charge up when there is more renewable energy than demand, ultimately allowing customers to use clean energy during peak hours.
vi. The new facility would reduce the reliance on gas speaker plants, prevent electricity shortages, provide energy security and reduce greenhouse gases.

Israel sanctions to build 3000 new settlements  
i. Israel Government decided to build 3000 units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem.
ii. An Israeli official stated that Israel will be constructing the buildings in settlements located in the West Bank, and in occupied East Jerusalem.
iii. The official added that the decision was made “in response to the Palestinian bid at the UN General Assembly” in which the Palestinians were voted in as a non-member state after Israel138 countries voted for the bid, while only 9 countries voted against and 41 countries abstained.
About Israel:
Capital: Jerusalem
Currency: Israeli new shekel
President: Reuven Rivlin
Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu

India to be Guest Country at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
i. India is invited as the Guest country for the upcoming 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which was scheduled to be held from June 1 to 3, 2017
ii. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). India & Russia are working on the “bilateral aspect” during Modi’s visit o Russia
iii. The SPIEF is an international economics and business event held annually with the participation of the President of the Russian Federation
Russia :
♦ Capital: Moscow
♦ Currency: Russian ruble
♦ President: Vladimir Putin


India’s fiscal deficit reaches 94% of the budget estimate in December 
i. Fiscal deficit in the first nine months of 2016-17 touched 93.9 per cent of the Budget target against 87.9 per cent for the same period a year ago.
ii.In value terms, the April-December fiscal deficit stood at Rs 5.01 lakh crore, or 93.9 per cent, of 2016-17 Budget estimates (BE).
iii. The fiscal deficit stood at 87.9 per cent in the corresponding nine months a year ago, as per 2015-16 Budget estimates.


Arnab Goswami’s Republic changes its name to Republic TV
i. Arnab Goswami, managing director and editor-in-chief of ARG Outlier Media has changed the name of his proposed news channel Republic into Republic TV.
ii. This changes after BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy raised issue against usage of the word ‘Republic’
iii. Subramanian mentioned that letting a private venture use the word ‘Republic’ will be illegal under Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.


Lucideus Wins Best IT Startup At National Entrepreneurship Awards 2016
An IT Risk Assessment and Digital Security Services Providing Firm, Lucideus, was awarded the best IT Startup under the IT (Information Technology) and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) category on January 30, 2017 during the National Entrepreneurship Awards 2016.
♦ The award function was organized at the DRDO auditorium in New Delhi by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
About Lucideus 
i. Lucideus is an Indian company which provides Digital Security, Consulting & Operational Services to Businesses, Governments and Institutions across the globe. It offers services in cyber security consultancy and risk management.
ii. Lucideus started as a startup firm in IIT, Bombay and is now headquartered in New Delhi. However its research and innovation lab is located at the computer science department of IIT Bombay.
iii .Lucideus has done the security assessment for the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app built by National Payments Corporation of India.

Rajasthan, Telangana bag eGov awards
Rajasthan, Telangana bag eGov awardsi. Rajasthan and Telangana are bagged the eGovernance awards for Excellence under the state category at the CSI -Nihilent eGovernance Awards held in Coimbatore on January 31, 2017.
ii. Odisha and Nagaland bagged the Award of Recognition for the year 2016
iii. eGovernance Awards are  Instituted by the Computer Society of India’s (CSI) Special Interest Group with sponsorship from Nihilent Technologies


Anushka appointed ambassador of Swachh Bharat campaign 
i. Bollywood actress  Anushka Sharma was appointed the first female ambassador of the campaign ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
ii. Anushka will works with bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan for a nationwide health and sanitation campaign


World’s First Heat-Driven Transistor created by researchers at Linköping University
i. Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden have created the world’s first heat-driven transistor. The transistor is first in the world that changes its state by a heat signal rather than conventional electrical signal.
ii. The transistor is made up an electrolyte-gated transistor and an ionic thermoelectric super capacitor.  The heat is first converted into electricity and then stored in the super capacitor. Even a fractional change in temperature is sufficient to cause a detectable current modulation in the transistor.
iii. The results have now been published in the journal “Nature Communications”.
iv. This heat driven transistor can have wide applications like detecting small temperature differences, to produce circuits controlled by infrared light for use in heat cameras and using functional medical dressings in which the healing process can be monitored.


Researchers Discovers Bag-like Fossil with Indications of Early Human Ancestors
i. A team of researchers has discovered a fossil in the Shaanxi Province of China, which they believe is the prehistoric ancestor of humans that existed about 540 million years ago.
ii. The team included those from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Northwest Researchers Discovers Bag-like Fossil with Indications of Early Human AncestorsUniversity in Xi’an China, with support from other colleagues at institutions in China and Germany.
iii .The little creature has been named as Saccorhytus due to its small and sack-like feature. The research was published in the Journal Nature on January 30, 2017.
iv. The Saccorhytus is a very old example of biological class “Deuterostome” which existed about 510-520 million years ago. These groups were ancestors to many species of animals including humans. Scientis say that this class of species has begun to diversify into different species in present day.
v. Researchers studied the microscopic fossil using an electron microscope and CT scanner and developed a picture to know what the creature may have looked like.
vi. The finding showed that creature may have had an elliptical body and a thin flexible skin, large mouth capable to intake food particles and large prey. It had evidence of eight cone-like structures around the body as primitive gills to remove excess water.


West Indies All rounder Andre Russell gets one-year ban for doping breach
i. Jamaican cricketer Andre Russell(28) has been banned from all cricket for a year over a doping code violation by the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission on February 1, 2017.
ii. Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines, elite athletes must file his/her details of whereabouts.
iii. Russell did not file his whereabouts on three occasions in 2015 as required, which constitutes a failed drugs test under WADA’s whereabouts rules.


Former Union Minister E Ahmad passes away
i. Former Union minister and Indian Union Muslim League leader E Ahamed has passed away in New Delhi on February 1, 2017.He was 78.
ii. Ahamed was first elected as MLA in 1967 and was member of the house in 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1987.
iii. He was sent to GCC countries as an Emissary of the then Prime Minister late Indira E AhamedGandhi in 1984
iv. In 1991, he shifted his political arena to Delhi and became Lok Sabha member from Manjeri in Malappuram district and went on to win from the same constituency in 1996, 1998, and 1999.
v. In 2004 polls, Ahamed’s victory was the saving grace for Congress-led UDF as all other 19 seats were won by CPI(M) led LDF.
vi. In the 2014 elections, Ahamed had won by the largest margin of over one lakh votes, in Lok sabha he represents Malappuram constituency in Kerala.
vii. He is widely considered as India’s ‘unofficial ambassador‘ to Gulf countries and he had represented India in United Nations 10 times.
viii. He was also an active member of the Union government’s Haj Committee and also co-chairman for the high-level monitoring mechanism of India and Qatar in 2011.