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- Current Affairs 2017 February
Centre Sets up Inter-Departmental Task Force to Crack Down Benami Firms
i. In an effort to pull out black money from shell companies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constituted a task force comprising members of various regulatory Ministries and enforcement agencies.
ii. Shell companies are those which do not conduct any operations and indulge in large scale money laundering and tax evasion in India.
iii .The task force would work under the co-chairmanship of the Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and the Corporate Affairs Secretary Tapan Rayto monitor the actions taken by various agencies.
iv. The task force would review the functioning of shell companies to prevent their misuse for money laundering and tax-evasion.
v. The agencies involved in the task force would invoke the stringent Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act against the shell companies and further freeze their accounts and strike off the names of dormant companies.
vi. Besides, disciplinary action will also be taken against professionals supporting the shell companies and entry operators who are used to launder unaccounted-for incomes into the banking system for projecting them as white money.
vii. Benami is a South Asian word that means “without name” or “no name”. In this Act, the word is used to define a transaction in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property is purchased.
viii. The act “prohibits illegal benami transactions, and provides imprisonment up to seven years and fine for violation of the Act which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.
Government to set up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO) to simply Purchase Process
i. The Union Government has planned to up a Defence Procurement Organisation (DPO) in a move to integrate and streamline the long and complex process of defence acquisitions.
ii .The committee would be headed by former Director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow, Dr. Pritam Singh. DPO will function under the Defence Ministry.
iii. The organization would be set up on the recommendation of Dr. Pritam who submitted a report on the modalities of setting up the DPO to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on February 9, 2017 and would be established in about 2-3 years.
iv. The Defence Procurement Process will apply to all defence capital procurements and simplify and speed up the acquisition procedure.
Minority Affairs Minister Abbas Naqvi Inaugurates Second Edition of “Hunar Haat” in New Delhi
i. The second edition of the Hunar Haat was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on February 11, 2017 at State Emporia Complex, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place in New Delhi.
ii. The theme of the 2nd Hunar Haat is Craft Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam. The festival will take place from February 11-February 26, 2017.
iii. The exhibition is being organized by the Minority Affairs Ministry through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme.
iv. The exhibition would provide national and international market access to the artisans and craftsmen of Minority communities from across the country to encourage and promote them.
v. Hunar Haat is a unique platform that brings together crafts and traditional cuisines from different parts of the country. The show is being participated by 100 artisans and 30 culinary experts from about 24 states and Union Territories.
vi .Some of the very exquisite pieces of Handicraft & Handloom work that would be displayed for the first time includes Makrana Marble products, Bandhej from Sikar, Mojri from Rajasthan, Banjara Embroidery from Telangana, Handmade Locks & Door Handles along with Phool-Patti works from Aligarh among others.
Single Entrance Test for Engineering and Architecture across India from 2018
i. The Ministry of Human Resource Development on February 10, 2017 said that from 2018 there would be a single entrance examination for admission in all engineering and architecture colleges for undergraduate courses.
ii. The aim is to make the admission process more transparent and put a stop on heavy capitation fee levied on students. At present, many states conduct their own engineering examination or admissions are done on the basis of Class 12 marks.
iii. The government has also directed All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to issue suitable regulations under the AICTE Act for this.
iv. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has also requested all state governments and deemed universities to come under joint seat allocation to make seat allocation process more justified.
v. The test shall be conducted multiple times a year and is intended to bring uniformity in academic standards and reduce the influence of donations.
Multinational Naval Drill Aman-17 Begins in Karachi
i. The five days multinational Aman-17 naval exercise kicked off in Karachi on February 10, 2017 where 37 countries took part.
ii. The aim of this multi-national exercise is to display united resolve of the countries against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain. The exercise will also help in enhancing Pakistan Navy’s interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies.
iii. Aman-17 was inaugurated by Commander of the Pakistani naval fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini.This year theme is Together for peace
iv .Out of 37 countries participating in ‘Aman 17’, 9 countries are participating with naval assets including Australia, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, UK, USA, Japan and Russia.
v. The Aman-17 is the fifth such exercise hosted by Pakistan every alternate year since 2007.
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee
♦ President: Mamnoon Hussain
♦ Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
BANKING & FINANCE
BoB to Finance MSME in Diamond Sector at Concessional Rates
i. Bank of Baroda is planning to launch a supply chain financing product for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the diamond industry to boost their existence in the sector.
ii .The bank will begin the supply chain financing on pilot basis in Surat. Cutting and polishing units, which procure roughs from large companies and supply finished products back, will be provided finance at a competitive rate of interest.
iii. This move is expected to give a boost to MSMEs as well as the corporate segment within the diamond industry.
iv. Small units in the diamond industry cannot directly import the rough stones. Large corporate clients in the diamond sector will share the details of the cutting and polishing units with whom they are having business dealings with the banks.
Bank of Baroda
♦ Headquarters: Vadodara
♦ CEO: P. S. Jayakumar
♦ Founded: July 20, 1908
Hindustan Motors Sells iconic Ambassador car brand to French Company Peugeot
i .C K Birla Group-owned Hindustan Motors have signed a deal with French carmaker Peugeot SA Group on February 10, 2017 to sell its iconic Indian car brand “Ambassador” to Peugeot for Rs. 80 crore.
ii. The production of Hindustan Ambassador car was discontinued in 2014 as sales dropped continuously and it could not keep up with the new generation of cars in the Indian market.
iii. Kolkata based Hindustan Motors would sell the car brand as well as the trademarks and use the proceeds to clear the dues of the employees and lenders.
Post Demonetization Industrial Production Contracts 0.4% in December
i. As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office, the India’s Industrial Output contracted by 0.4 Percent in December 2016 as compared to previous year due to demonetization.
ii. In November 2016, the index of industrial production (IIP) grew 5.7% recording a 13-month high growth as against a contraction of 1.8% in the previous month.
iii. The data showed that mining and electricity output grew 5.2% and 6.3% respectively in December 2016 as compared to 4% and 9% respectively in the previous month while manufacturing contracted by 2% in December as compared to 5.5 percent in November.
iv. Capital goods also contracted by 3% in December. However, the impact of demonetisation was clearly visible from the 5% contraction in production of consumer non-durables and 10.3% fall in production of durables, signalling that consumption demand in both rural and urban demand has been impacted.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
GMR Hyderabad Airport Receives CAPA Order of Merit
i. GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), which operates Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, has been honored with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Chairman’s Order of Merit for its focus on environmental sustainability.
ii. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport was also awarded for becoming the first airport in Asia Pacific to become carbon neutral.
iii. GHIAL received the award during the CAPA 12 Annual India Aviation Summit held in Mumbai on February 8, 2017.
iv. Having the largest team of analysts, CAPA India is a leading specialist aviation consulting and research practice in South Asia with a portfolio of more than 125 advisory and research projects.
Sudarsan Pattnaik Creates Guinness Record by Making World’s Tallest Sand Castle
i. Famous Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a Guinness World Record on February 10, 2017 by building World’s tallest Sand Castle at the Puri beach in Puri.
ii. The castle is 48 feet and 8 inches (14.84 metre) in height. The sand sculpture was built with theme of World Peace.
iii. 39-year old Sudarsan broke the previous such record held by American sand artist Ted Siebert who had built a 13.97 metre high (45 feet and 10 inch) sand castle at Miami beach in USA in 2015.
iv. Padma Shri Award winner Sudarsan achieved the fete in just four days starting from February 7 whereas the previous record holder had completed his art in seven days.
v. Earlier, Pattnaik had created 23 world records that are registered in the Limca Book of Records.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Ajay Tyagi to Succeed UK Sinha as SEBI Chairman
i. According to a government notification on February 10, 2017, senior IAS officer Ajay Tyagi has been selected to take over as the next Chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI). He will replace incumbent Chief UK Sinha who retires on March 1, 2017.
ii. Tyagi, a 1984-batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre is currently serving as an additional secretary (investments) in the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance. Tyagi will be the 9th SEBI chairman.
iii. The 58-year-old Tyagi served as a Joint Secretary in Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change before joining Finance Ministry on November 1, 2014 as Additional Secretary.
iv. Tyagi has also worked in ministries of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Steel and Rural Development. He has held various posts in Himachal Pradesh government including in power, revenue, finance and information technology. Tyagi, for a short while, was also on the board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Subir Dutta appointed as Ambassador of India to the Republic of Madagascar
i. Subir Dutta has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Madagascar.
ii. Dutta is currenty working in the Embassy of India, Vientiane
♦ Capital: Antananarivo
♦ Currency: Malagasy ariary
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
India Successfully Test-Fires Home Grown Interceptor Missile in Odisha coast
i. India successfully test-fired its Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile from launching complex-IV of Dhamara Abdul Kalam defence base off Odisha coast on February 11, 2017 under its Ballistic Missile Defence Programme
ii. The successful testing leads India towards achieving a robust two layered Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system. It will strengthen India’s position in the exclusive club of US, Russia and Israel.
iii. The Advanced Air Defence interceptor named as Ashwin has the capability to destroy the incoming enemy missile in the endo-atmospheric region at a low altitude of less than 30 kilometres.
iv. The AAD interceptor is a 7.5-metre-long single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system and a high tech computer and electro-mechanical activator totally under command by the data uplinked from the ground-based radar.
Intech DMLS Launches India’s First Indigenously Developed Jet Engines Series
i. India’s first Metal 3D printing provider Intech DMLS Limited has launched the country’s first indigenously developed Jet Engine Series under the brand name Poeir Jets.
ii. Poeir Jets Pvt Ltd, an R&D subsidiary of Intech DMLS, has unveiled the first series of Jet engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) & Remote Controlled (R/C) Aircraft.
iii. The engine MJE 20 is indigenously designed & manufactured with a thrust of 20 Kgf. It is currently undergoing testing at the company’s Bangalore facility. Another Jet engine SJE-350 with a thrust of 350kgf, designed for strategic applications is currently being manufactured. In future, the company also plans to expand into the Turbo Shaft/Fan category.
iv. With this India has become the first country in Asia and the fourth country after the US, Europe and Israel to indigenously develop such an engine in the private space.
About INTECH DMLS Pvt. Ltd
♦ INTECH DMLS Pvt. Ltd is India’s first, largest and most experienced Metal 3D printing end-to-end service provider and metal additive manufacturing establishment in aviation sector.
♦ Founded: 2012
♦ Headquarter: Bangalore
♦ Managing Director: Sridhar Balaram
Assam to Raise a Wild Sanctuary to Grow Muga Cocoon
i .The state government of Assam has decided to set up a Wild Sanctuary to grow Muga cocoon in an effort to give more exposure to Muga, Eri and Silk Products.
ii .The programme have been launched under the Assam Silk Outreach Mission to promote products made of Muga, silk and Eri.
iii. The government would plant about 25 lakh trees to get the Eri and Muga cocoons.
iv. For this, Yarn Banks have been set up at nine districts and the remaining districts will be covered soon.
v. Famous Assam Silks include Golden Muga, white Pat and warm Eri silk.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science Observed on February 11, 2017
i. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was observed on February 11, 2017 to recognize the achievements of women in science and inspire and engage women and girls in science.
ii. The theme of 2017 International Day of Women and Girls in Science is “Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media”.
iii .The main idea is to stress the role that media plays in empowering women and achieving gender equality.
iv .The observation of the day was felt as women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science and to achieve the developmental goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it is must to take necessary steps.
v. Therefore, in 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to achieve full and equal access and participation in science for women and girls to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.