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Current Affairs Today – February 15 2017

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Haryana Government Imposes Penalty on Liquor Consumption in Public
i. According to a notification by the Haryana government  on February 14, 2017, no person shall be allowed to consume liquor at a place which has not been licensed or authorised under the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, except at one’s own dwelling.
ii. The state Excise and Taxation Minister Captain Abhimanyu informed that consumption of liquor on or along the road, in a park/garden/market, along a river side as well as in a vehicle, whether running or parked, shall now be an offence.
iii .Any person violating the rule will be subjected to punishment. The Excise Officer above Assistant Excise and Taxation Officer (Excise) rank would detain the offender, liquor and the vehicle.
iv. Further the officer will forward the case within 24 hours to the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (Excise)-cum-Collector of the district.
v. The Collector then might either refer the case to the court of law for trial or dispose the case himself by imposing a penalty of Rs 5,000 per person for the first offence, Rs 10,000 per person for the second and every subsequent offence.
vi .However no penalty would be imposed prior to listening the defensive statement of the offender, including the owner or occupier of the premise and owner of the vehicle.
♦ Capital: Chandigarh
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Governor: Kaptan Singh Solanki

IMF Launches South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Center in New Delhi
i. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) launched its first fully integrated capacity development centre, South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC) in New Delhi on February 13, 2017.
ii. The SARTTAC was inaugurated by Shaktikanta Das, Secretary of India’s Ministry of IMF's SARTTACFinance.
iii. SARTTAC will help to assist the local member countries of South Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
iv. It has been financed jointly by the IMF, the member countries, and development partners (Australia, South Korea the EU and the UK).
iv .The main objective of SARTTAC is to help its member countries strengthen their institutional and human capacity to design and implement macroeconomic and financial policies that promote growth and reduce poverty.
v. Besides, SARTTAC will enable IMF to meet the growing demand for technical assistance and training from the South Asian region.
vi. Earlier, the Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 to establish a capacity development center for South Asia.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
♦ The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization of 189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
♦ CEO: Christine Lagarde
♦ Founded: 27 December 1945

Jammu & Kashmir Government Launches e-Prison Project
i. The Jammu & Kashmir government launched an E-Prison project on February 13, 2017 at NIC Centre Civil Secretariat Jammu to digitalize the record about the jail inmates.
ii. The project was inaugurated the state Minister for Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Service & Sports, Molvi Imran Raza Ansari. The projected is being implemented by J&K e-Governance Agency.
iii .Currently the data about the jail inmates are maintained manually which is a time consuming process. The e-prison project will enable to provide a centralized platform to avoid any data redundancy, avoid delay in processing the information and manage all the jails efficiently and thus reduce the time and cost of the process.
iv .Data about 500 jail inmates have already been digitized and is made available on the National Prison Information Portal of Government of India.
v. The e-Prison Project will digitize 25 district jailstwo central jails and one sub-Jail across the State. Besides this, the jail will be equipped with Router, Switch, Laser Printer, Scanner, Desktops, UPS, Finger Print scanner and Web camera.
vi .In the Second Phase of the Project, the department will focus on video conferencing between Jails and Prison Headquarters, e-Court, Tele-medication in Jails to digitalize the data and to enhance connectivity between Jails and other Headquarters of the state.
Jammu & Kashmir
♦ Bird: Black-necked crane
♦ Flower: Lotus
♦ Tree: Chinar tree

Madhya Pradesh government to set up Tourism Board
Shivraj Singh Chouhan lead by Madhya Pradesh government has decided to constitute Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board for expansion of facilities at tourist spots and draw investment in the sector.
About the Board :
i. MP Tourism Board would be a non-profit company and will be  registered under the Companies Act
ii. The board will take all responsibilities mentioned under Tourism Policy-2016.
iii. The board would work to frame, execute and monitor new policies for inviting investors, increase land bank
iv. The board will also develop a work plan for all tourism-related archaeological sites, wildlife places, caves with natural beauty, amusement and other parks, water reservoirs
Board Members :
♦ Chairman : Shivraj Singh Chouhan   & Deputy chairman: Tourism minister of the state
♦ Directors: Chief Secretary and principal secretaries of finance, forests, urban development, environment and culture departments

Mamata Banerjee declares Kalimpong as separate district
i. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee declared Kalimpong as 21st district of West Bengal Kalimpong as separate district of WBon February 14, 2017. The new district is from Darjeeling.
ii. On the same day Banerjee announced two projects for the development of newly created Kalimpong
1.Rs 220 crore road link project to connect Kalimpong with Sikkim via the old Silk Route
2.Rs 50 crore water supply project to address Kalimpong’s water scarcity problem.
West Bengal National Park:
Buxa Tiger Reserve , Gorumara National Park, Jaldapara National Park , Neora Valley National Park, Singalila National Park  and Sundarbans National Park


India Joins UN Network to Prevent Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths by 2030.
i. India has become one of the nine members of the new ‘Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’ that aims to improve the quality of care for new mothers and babies.
ii. The global health network is supported by World Health Organisation (WHO), UN International Children’s Fund (Unicef) and other partners.
iii. Besides India the other member nations of the network includes, Bangladesh, A Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
iv. The main aim of the network is to strengthen national efforts to improve the quality of care for new mothers and babies so that countries can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030.

India Participates in Moscow Meet on Afghanistan’s Future
i. India on February 15, 2017 participated in a conference organized to discuss Afghanistan’s future in Moscow along with 5 other nations.
ii. The six nations in the conference included Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
iii. The conference was led by Russian President Putin’s special envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov while India was represented by Gopal Baglay.
iv .Earlier, Russia organized similar conference two months ago but only with China and Pakistan.
v. This was objected by India and Afghanistan as India has always believed in close and constructive cooperation for peace, stability, security and development in Afghanistan.
vi .Therefore Moscow agreed to expand its scope of conclave and announced a six-nation conference including India.
vii. The conference held detailed discussion on the promotion of the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan and shared understanding of the need to step up the relevant efforts for a settlement in Afghanistan.
♦ Capital: Kabul
♦ Currency: Afghan afghani
♦ President: Ashraf Ghani

2017 Cobra Gold Exercise Begins in Thailand
i. The 2017 Cobra Gold Military Exercise kicked off at the Sattahip Royal Thai Marine Corps Base in Chonburi Province, Thailand on February 14, 2017.
ii .Cobra Gold 2017 is the 36th edition of the multinational drill and is co-organized by Cobra GoldUnited States and Thailand. It will expand regional cooperation and collaboration for disaster relief.
iii .The ten day exercise would continue till February 24, 2017 and the closing ceremony of the event will take place in Phu Lamyai Training area in Nakhon Ratchasima Province.
iv. As many as 30 nations are participating in the drill including China, India, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, who are either involved in or are observing the exercises.
v. The exercise would comprise of three primary events: a staff exercise which has a senior leader seminar, a field training exercise that will have variety of events to strengthen regional relationships and enhance interoperability and humanitarian civic assistance projects in Thai communities
vi. Nearly 3600 personnel from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force directly participating in the various events.
About Cobra Gold Exercise
♦ Cobra Gold is an Asia-Pacific military exercise held in Thailand every year. It is the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise held each year.
♦ The exercise began as a bilateral drill between the United States and Thailand and has now grown into one of the world’s largest multinational exercises, involving some 30 countries.
♦ It is the largest multinational military exercise in which the United States participates. 

India, Croatia signs agreement to boost bilateral trade & enhance economic cooperation
i. Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Martina Dalic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy,Republic of Croatia have signed an agreement to boost bilateral trade and enhance economic cooperation on February 14, 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia
ii. Aim : To promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations.
iii. This Agreement would be a step in continuity of the previous agreemebt which expired in November, 2009.
iv. India’s bilateral trade with Croatia during 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 stood at USD 148.86 millionUSD 205.04 million and USD 148.44 million respectively.
Croatia :
♦ Capital: Zagreb                   ♦ Prime minister: Andrej Plenković
♦ Currency: Croatian kuna     ♦  President: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović


HDFC Life Launches ‘Pragati’ Plan For Low Income Group
i. Life insurance firm, HDFC life launched a traditional life insurance plan, Pragati, on February 15, 2017 for low income group people.
ii. The plan has been designed especially to empower low income families by making the plan available at affordable rate to every person who has the desire to secure his family.
iii. Pragati will offer dual benefit. Firstly a systematic savings with guaranteed premium returns and secondly a wholesome life protection making it an ideal financial product for every Indian household.
♦ HDFC Life (HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company) is a long-term life insurance provider offering individual and group insurance.
♦ It is a joint venture between Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC), one of India’s leading housing finance institution and Standard Life plc, a financial savings & investments services in the United Kingdom.
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 2000


Airbus signs MoU for setting up centre of excellence in Hyderabad
The multinational Airbus Group division Airbus joined hand with Telangana government, National Skill Development Corporation Airbus signs MoU for setting up centre of excellence in HyderabadIndia and AEROCAMPUS France for establishing a Centre of Excellence at at Begumpet Airport for aerospace skill development in Hyderabad
Objective:  To enhance the employability of young aspirants by imparting the required skills to them
Highlights of the Centre 
i. To train candidates ranging from high school graduates to experienced aviation personnel on aircraft manufacturing, logistics, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), ground handling and special aviation processes
ii. To offer short-term refresher modules as well as long-term certificate and diploma courses that will find acceptability within the industry
iii. To provide training on aerospace manufacturing and assembling

First Ever Indian Genomics Beacon Launched in UK
i. The Global Gene Corp and Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) launched an Indian Beacon on February 14, 2017 for Indian genomics data to enable the scientists in developing more effective drug delivery systems.
ii .It was launched by the Indian deputy high commissioner to the UK, Dinesh Patnaik
at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire.
iii. A beacon is an online web service that allows researchers to determine whether an institution has particular genomic data in its data set. Genomics is the science that will define healthcare in our lifetime.
iv. The Indian beacon aims to bridge the gap in lack of shared Indian genomics data and help the scientists to better understand disease to develop more effective drug delivery systems and therapeutics.
v. The Indian beacon has now joined the beacons already available on the Wellcome Genome Campus supplied by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
United Kingdom
♦ Capital: London
♦ Prime minister: Theresa May
♦ Currency: Pound sterling


Usain Bolt honored with ‘Sportsman of the Year’
i. Jamaica’s sprinter Usain Bolt won the ‘Sportsman of the Year’ award at the Laureus World Awards or the ‘Oscar of Sports’ held in Monaco on February 14, 2017. Usain BoltBolt received his award from legendary Michael Johnson.
ii. This is the fourth time that the world’s greatest sprinter has won the honor. Earlier in 2009, 2010 and 2013 too he won the award.
iii. Now he has joined the group of sports personalities like tennis legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams, and surfer Kelly Slater, all of whom has also won the award four times.
iv. In women’s category, Simone Biles won the ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ trophy for her outstanding performance in Rio Olympics 2016 winning 4 gold and 1 bronze medal.
v. Other winners
1.Michael Phelps: ‘Comeback of the Year’ award
2.Nico Roseberg: ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ award
3.American Baseball side Chicago Cubs: Laureus Team of the Year award
4.English Premier League champions Leicester City: Special Laureus Spirit of Sport award
5.Italy’s Beatrice Vio: Disability award

Sandeep Singh Indian International Hockey Player Receives Honorary Doctorate
i .Indian professional hockey player Sandeep Singh has been honored with an Honorary Doctorate Degree by Desh Bhagat University, a private educational institution in Amloh, Fatehgarh Sahib District of Punjab on February 14, 2017.
ii. He is the second Indian hockey player to receive this award. The only first player was Dileep Tirkey, former captain and sitting Member of Parliament, to receive an honorary degree for sporting excellence from Sambalpur University in 2010.
iii. Sandeep Singh was a former captain of the Indian National Hockey Team and was regarded as the most dreaded drag-flicker.
iv .Singh currently holds a DSP rank in the Haryana Police.


France’s Jean-Pierre Lacroix named new UN peacekeeping chief
i. Jean-Pierre Lacroix from France has been appointed as the head of UN peacekeeping for a year pending a review of the world body’s functions and structure by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on February 14, 2017.
ii. Lacroix will replace Herve Ladsous. He is currently working as the director for the United Nations at the French foreign ministry.UN Peace chief
iii. The United States is the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, is considering cuts to its contribution, currently at 29 per cent of the USD 7.9 billion budget for 2017.
♦ Headquarters: New York, United States
♦ Head: Antonio Guterre


ISRO Successfully Launches Record 104 Satellites in One Go from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
i. Setting a new record in the space mission, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched 104 satellites in one go from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on February 15, 2017.
ii. The satellites were launched on Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 which marked its 39th flight.
iii. The 104 satellite included a 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series satellite for earth observation, two Indian nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B and 101 international nano satellites. Of the 101 satellites, 96 of these belong to USA and one each belongs to Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.
iv. The two Indian nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B were developed as co-passenger satellites to accompany bigger satellites on PSLV.
v. The 101 international customer nano-satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO and the international customers.

Scientists Develops Stretchable Rubber Material “Thubber” for Stretchable Machines 
i .Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a thermally conductive rubber material which is an innovative discovery for creating soft, stretchable machines and electronics.
Thubberii .The findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
iii. As per the report, the material named as ‘thubber’ is an electrically insulating composite which represents a combination of metal-like thermal conductivity and elasticity. It can stretch over six times its initial length.
iv .It can be used in applications such as wearable computing and soft robotics, which require mechanical compliance and stretchable functionality.
v. The major ingredient in thubber is a suspension of non-toxic liquid metal microdroplets. The liquid state allows the metal to deform with the surrounding rubber at room temperature.
vi. When the rubber is pre-stretched, the droplets form elongated pathways that are efficient for heat travel. Despite the amount of metal, the material is also electrically insulating.


Scientists Finds Toxic Chemicals Banned in 1970s, Deep Inside Ocean Fauna
i. Scientists from United Kingdom have discovered high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s in the tissues of the marine creature that lives deep inside the Pacific Oceans.
ii. In the study, the scientist sampled amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana trench as well as from Kermadec trench. To their surprise, the researchers found extremely high level of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.
iii. These chemical includes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants. They are unable to degrade naturally.
iv. As per the study, the pollutants may have found their way to the trench through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to the bottom of the ocean, where they are then consumed by amphipods and other fauna.
v. The study has revealed the first evidence that human-made pollutants have now reached the extreme corners of the Earth.
vi. The research was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Study Reveals India’s Air May Surpass China as Deadliest in the World
i. India is on its way to catch up with China in terms air pollution related deaths and even can surpass China if necessary steps are not taken.
ii. This was concluded by the 2017 State of Global Air report released on February 14, 2017 by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington and University of British Columbia.
iii .As per the report, almost 1.1 million people died in India in 2015 because of air pollution. That was slightly below China’s record but could surpass the neighbour.
iv. The report suggests that the fine airborne particles known as PM2.5 are rising in India, but it appears to have stabilised in China.
v. The primary killer PM2.5 are micro dust particles that stick to people’s lungs and air passage, causing serious health problems and even death.
vi . The report found that India has recorded a nearly 50% increase in premature deaths linked to PM2.5 between 1990 and 2015.
vii. As per the report, together, the two Asian giants accounted for more than half of all global deaths related to PM2.5 exposure.
viii. Experts blamed lack of proactive policies in India for the rising air pollution. The report suggests a much more concerted effort needs to be done to address the adverse impacts of air pollution in India.
ix. Pollution in New Delhi in November 2016 reached crisis levels, with crop burning, car exhaust, dust and coal plants blamed for the record smog.


Pakistani Batsman Jamshed Suspended from all forms of Cricket
i .The Left-handed opening batsman of Pakistan Nasir Jamshed on February 13 has been provisionally suspended from all forms of cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for violating its anti-corruption code.
ii. PCB is investigating into the corruption scandal that hit the Pakistan Super League.
Jamshediii. Earlier PCB had suspended Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, the two Islamabad United players for being involved in the PSL corruption scandal.
iv. According to the sources, the suspended Pakistan players Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif had claimed during their questioning by anti-corruption officials that Jamshed had asked them to meet with the person suspected to be part of an international match fixing.
v .But the exact nature of his involvement has not been made clear. The 27-year-old has played in two Tests, 48 one-day internationals and 18 Twenty20 matches for Pakistan.