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- Current Affairs 2017 February
Government Mandates Aadhaar for Receiving subsidised foodgrains from PDS Shops
i. The central government has made the Aadhaar mandatory for receiving the subsidised foodgrains from the ration shops in a bid to better achieve the target of Rs. 1.4 crore subsidy under the food security law.
ii. Those not having the biometric-based unique identification number can apply for the same by June 30.
iii. Under the National Food Security Law (NFSA), the government provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person every month at Rs.1-3/kg to over 80 crore people.
iv. The notification will be effective from February 8 in all States and Union Territories (UTs) except Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir. This will also be applicable to all the new beneficiaries.
v. Besides, the government will install digital payment system at ration shops by June to promote digital payment.
Andhra Pradesh Government constitutes 33 member committee for Sagarmala Project
i. A 33 member committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu for the speedy implementation of the Sagarmala Project in Andhra Pradesh. Sagarmala project aims to improve the state’s coastline and inland waterways.
ii. The committee will be responsible for overseeing the entire project and will bring together all the concerned departments and review their work on a daily basis for timely completion of the project. A nodal officer has also been appointed from every department who would represent the department.
iii. The first meeting of the committee took place on February 8, 2017. During the meeting, Naidu stressed on the opportunities that Andhra Pradesh has to develop a coast-led industrial economy. He also stressed on the need for an action plan and requested all the officials concerned to create one for their respective projects.
iv .The Andhra Pradesh Government and Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) have submitted proposals for 90 projects with an outlay of Rs.1,30,763 crore under the Sagarmala project.
Ananth Kumar Inaugurates Orientation Programme for Launching of 1000 PMBJKs
i. The Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar inaugurated the Orientation Programme for the district heads of National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) in New Delhi on February 10, 2017 to launch the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) in the country.
ii. The workshop was organized based upon the MoU signed earlier between Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) and NYCS for establishing 1000 PMBJKs in the country. The basic details regarding the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) were laid down during the workshop for the effectiveness of the scheme.
iii. Representatives from 24 States and 106 districts from across the country attended the programme to further help spread the scheme in their respective zones and bring momentum in opening of PMBJKs.
iv. The Minister stressed the need to open more and more PMBJKs based on 3As namely Authenticity, Availability and Affordability. Currently there are 777 PMBJKs and the government aims to achieve 3000 kendras by March 2017.
Government to Open 56 More Post Office Passport Seva Kendras across India
i. With the successful operationalization of the two pilot projects of utilizing Head Post Offices as the Passport Seva Kendra, the government has now decided to further launch the programmes in 56 more facilities across India.
ii. The Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Posts are working to start the operation of the new centers as early as possible in various states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
iii. The pilot projects were launched in Mysuru and Dahod (Gujarat), on January 25, 2017.
iv .The Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) would enable the applicants who apply for the passports online to schedule their appointments to complete the formalities.
India-UK sign MoU to allow more flights to boost tourism and trade
i. Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Lord Ahmad from U.K. have signed a MoU to ease restrictions on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries to trade and tourism.
ii. Limits on flights from Chennai and Kolkata have been scrapped, allowing for a greater range of flights for passengers while providing a boost to trade and tourism for the UK and India
iii. This will pave the way to new export markets and creating jobs and economic growth
iv. The agreement also opened all destinations in the UK for Indian carriers for code share flights, and reciprocally the UK carriers can also operate code share flights to any International Airport in India, through domestic code share arrangements.
♦ Capital: London
♦ Currency: Pound sterling
♦ Prime minister: Theresa May
India Proposes Global Services Accord Pact to WTO Chief Azevedo
i. India presented the proposed Trade Facilitation in
Services (TFS) Agreement to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc. on February 9, 2017 in an event organized by Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi.
ii. The WTO chief was on a two day visit to India from February 8-9, 2017.
iii. The global pact proposed by India to boost services trade at the WTO-level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers and professionals across borders for short-term work.
iv. The pact also aims to ensure portability of social security contributions, and make fees for immigration or visas are reasonable, transparent, and non-restrictive in nature.
v .It also aims to pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals. The proposal is about making market access effective and commercially meaningful.
vi. Besides, the proposal will also ensure cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism, publication of measures impacting services trade and timely availability of relevant information in all the WTO official languages as well as free flow of data or information for cross-border supply of services.
World Trade Organization
♦ The World Trade Organization is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade.
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founded: 1 January 1995
♦ Leader: Roberto Azevêdo
China releases theme for BRICS Summit 2017
i. 2017 BRICS association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to be held in Xiamen, China in September 2017
ii. The summit will be held under the theme “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future “
5 key priorities:
2.Strengthening global governance
3.Carrying out people-to-people exchanges
4.Making institutional improvements and
5.Building broader partnerships.
♦ BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” before the induction of South Africa in 2010
♦ BRICS contains a development bank which is headquartered in Shanghai,China. It is called as NDB BRICS or NDB. BRICS
♦ The 2016 BRICS summit was hosted by India in Goa.
BANKING & FINANCE
Government Sells 2% stake in ITC to Raise Rs. 6,690 Crore
i. As a part of its disinvestment plan for 2016-17, the central government sold 2 percent of its stake in ITC to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) on February 7, 2017 and earned Rs 6,690 crore.
ii. Held under the Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), the stake was sold at Rs 275.85 per share through block deals.
iii. This is the second SUUTI divestment of 2016-17. Earlier in November, Centre divested 1.63 percent stake in Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to raise Rs 2,100 crore.
iv. Presently the government holds Rs 53,445 crore shares through SUUTI in ITC, Axis Bank and L&T, which it plans to divest over three years.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
UNO ropes in Satinder Sartaaj for campaign against trafficking
i. Folk singer from Punjab Satinder Sartaaj (34) has been selected for the awareness project against human trafficking “Blue Heart Campaign” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
ii. Sartaaj will works with Indian musicians like AR Rahman and Sonu Nigam to spread awareness about the illegal practice through Music to Inspire album.
iii. The album also includes songs by famous artistes such as Ozark Henry, Karmin, Joss Stone, Jack Atlantis, Tisha Campbell, Steve London and Lee England.
♦ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program(UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Vienna.
♦ In 2016 – 2017 it has an estimated biannual budget of US$700 million.
Hemant Bhargava appointed as LIC’s Managing Director
i. Hemant Bhargava has been appointed as one of the three managing director of Mumbai based Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) of India till July 31, 2019 by the Cabinet Appointments Committee on February 10, 2017
ii. Prior to this, Bhargava was working as the zonal manager (I/C) Delhi
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founder: Government of India
♦ Founded: 1 September 1956
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Nokia to acquire Finnish telecom software company Comptel for $371 million
i. Finland multinational communications and information technology company Nokia announced to buy telecoms software firm Comptel for 347 million euros ($370 million) on February 9, 2017.
ii. The aim of the acquisition to help phone carriers manage their networks as mobile b more and more rely on software to improve their networks.
iii. It is part of Nokia’s strategy to build a standalone software business at scale by expanding and strengthening its software portfolio and go-to-market capabilities with additional sales capacity and a strategic partner network.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Piyush Goyal Launches TAMRA Portal and Mobile Application for Transparency in Statutory Clearances for Mining Operations
i. The Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the TAMRA (Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation) portal and Mobile Application in New Delhi on February 10, 2017.
ii. TAMRA Portal and Mobile Application aims to enhance the transparency and accountability in the mining sector as a part of the Ease of Doing Business.
iii. The initiative will speed up mining activity in India and enable all the stakeholders to track the status of the statutory clearances associated with mining blocks for getting mines to reach till operationalization for the same.
iv. TAMRA provides block-wise, state-wise and mineral-wise information of the blocks to be auctioned; monitors various statutory clearances and also highlights the additional resources generated through e-Auction.
v. Besides, TAMRA would send triggers to the concerned authority as well as the Ministry of Mines in case of delay in obtaining any clearances so that the remedial steps can be taken immediately. The portal also enables bidders to give useful suggestions or inputs.
Kerala’s Nilambur Teak set to be inducted in the List of Products with GI tag
i. The famous Nilambur teak which is internationally known for its superior quality and elegant appearance is soon to get added to the list of the Kerala produces that have Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
ii. Apart from having aesthetic appearance, the Nilambur teak has superior mechanical and physical properties. It was identified by the Britishers from Nilambur plantations and forests.
iii .As the Nilambur teak became famous worldwide, fake products with false tags started flooding the wood and furniture markets. So in order to protect the legal rights of the teak, it has been decided by the concerned authorities to register the unique product as a Geographical Indication under the GI Act.
iv .The effort to obtain the GI status for Nilambur teak variety was taken by the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Cell of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) with the support of the Nilambur Teak Heritage Society, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) and the Department of Forests.
v. The Pokkali rice was one of the first Kerala produces to get the GI tag. Other Kerala products with GI registration include Vazhakulam Pineapple, Wayanadan rice varieties Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala, Tirur Betel vine, Central Travancore Jaggery and Chengalikodan Nendran, a banana variety.
Official Mascot for FIFA Under 17 World Cup India 2017 Unveiled
i. The official Mascot for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup India tournament was revealed on February 10, 2017 in New Delhi at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The mascot was unveiled during the launch of Mission XI Million programme.
ii. A clouded leopard named Kheleo with young and charismatic face has been launched as the Mascot. it will participate in numerous activities during the first FIFA tournament to be hosted by India, from October 6 to 28, 2017.
iii. The clouded leopard is a rare and vulnerable wild cat which can be found in the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia.
iv. Kheleo will be going across the country to promote the tournament and to inspire kids and adults and motivate them to take up football.
Virat Kohli Breaks Record to Become First Indian Captain to score Four Double Centuries in 4 straight series
i.Virat Kohli became the first player to score double century in four consecutive Test series on February 10, 2017 while playing against Bangladesh in Hyderabad.
ii. He also became the second captain to score four double centuries for his country
iii. Kohli began the trend while playing against West Indies in June 2016 to score his first double century where he scored exactly 200. Second with New Zealand in November 2016. The third record came against England where he scored his third double century and the latest against Bangladesh.
iv. During the course of this innings, Kohli overtook Virender Sehwag as the top scorer in a single home season for India. Sehwag had scored 1105 runs in the 2004/05.
Sports Ministry Launches Mission XI Million in New Delhi
i. The Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Vijay Goyal launched the Mission XI Million, the biggest school sport outreach programme, in New Delhi on February 10, 2017 in the presence of President of AIFF Shri Praful Patel.
ii. The programme has been launched with an aim to make football a sport of choice in India and encourage children to play the football games on regular basis.
iii. It also involves school principals and sports teachers to encourage and incentivize students to opt for football and at the same time gain healthy habits and learn important life lessons in teamwork and sportsman spirit.
iv .The Mission XI Million has an objective to instill the passion for football in 11 million children from every part of the country. This also involves schools and parents. The programme will provide necessary equipments and the knowledge to the parents and schools about how to make regular play a reality for students.
v. The program will be rolled out in every state of the country ranging from Kashmir to Kanyakumari from Kutch to Imphal. The government aims to reach over 37 cities and 12,000 schools across all 29 states of India.
vi. The programme is divided into three phases: seminars for teacher and educators, in-school activities and football festivals that would take place up to September 2017.
MRI pioneer and Nobel laureate Sir Peter Mansfield passes away at 83
i. UK physicist and Nobel laureate Sir Peter Mansfield has died in UK on February 9, 2017 He was 83.
ii. Peter led a team of experts who revolutionised science and worked on MRI scans.
iii. He had won the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine for developing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 2003.
♦ Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body in both health and disease.
♦ MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, radio waves, and field gradients to generate images of the inside of the body
BOOKS & AUTHORS
World’s first Braille Atlas for visually impaired persons Launched by NATMO in New Delhi
i. The Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan released the world’s first comprehensive Braille atlas for nearly 50 lakh visually challenged people in India on February 10, 2017 in New Delhi.
ii. This is for the first time that such atlas has been prepared for physically challenged with such minute details. The Braille Atlas has been prepared by National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) under Department of Science & Technology.
iii. Aniruddha Bhattacharya, scientific officer with NATMO and Amitava Chakraborty and Devnath Sengupta, research officers, played a key role in preparing the atlas. Bhattarcharya passed away last month.
iv. The Braille atlas has 20 maps on different themes like physical, socio-economic, river system, crops pattern, natural vegetation, cultural, metropolitan areas, roads and railways, soil types and crops.