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Current Affairs Today – February 16 2017

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CAT February


Cabinet Approvals on February 15, 2017
i. The Union Government chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on February 15, 2017 approved setting up of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha, Sehore in Madhya Pradesh for meeting the emerging food security challenges.
ii. The Cabinet approved the signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Rwanda which will enable the airlines of the two countries to operate services in each others’ territory.
iii. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to award contract in 31 contract areas under Discovered Small Fields Policy 2016 undertaken last year
iv. The Union Cabinet approved the merger of the State Bank of India with its 5 subsidiary banks namely State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur; State Bank of Hyderabad; State Bank of Mysore; State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.

Indian Panaroma Film Festival Begins in Port Blair
i. The Indian Panorama Film Festival kicked off in Port Blair on February 15, 2017.
ii. The five day film festival has been organized by the Directorate of Information, Publicity Indian Panaroma Film Festival Begins in Port Blair& Tourism, Andaman & Nicobar Administration in association with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Directorate of Film Festivals/IFFI, New Delhi, Govt of India.
iii .The festival was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Administration, Shri Anindo Majumdar at DBRAIT Auditorium, Dollygunj, Port Blair.
iv. The inauguration was followed by screening of the film Bahubali (Telegu) directed by SS. Rajamauli.
v. About 15 films of different languages and different genre will be screened at two different venues including PBMC Auditorium and ITF Ground during the festival.
vi. The event will conclude on February 19, 2017.

Himachal Pradesh Governor Inaugurates Campaign against Drug Addiction
i. The Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat inaugurated a Campaign against Drug Addiction on February 15, 2017 organized by Shimla Press Club in Shimla.
ii. The campaign aims to make the state drug free.
iii .The Governor has announced to grant Rs 1 lakh to the Press Club Shimla for organising the campaign against drugs
iv. Through the campaign, the state will make effort to eradicate drugs that not only affect the physical and mental health of the addict but also lead them towards increase in crime.
Hill stations in Himachal Pradesh
Manali, Shimla, Kufri & Chail, Kasauli, Kaso

Kerala cabinet Gives In-Principle Approval for Greenfield Airport at Sabarimala
i. The Kerala cabinet gave its in-principle approval on February 15, 2017 for setting up a Greenfield Airport at pilgrim centre Sabarimala located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Kerala.
ii. The state government has also directed Kerala State Industrial Development Corp (KSIDC) to conduct a study on the proposed airport.
iii. Lakhs of devotees visits the Sabarimala hill shrine each year and in recent years the number of pilgrims visiting the temple had gone up especially during November-January Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrim festival season.
iv. Thus the airport will cater to the needs of lakhs of devotees who visit the famous Lord Ayyappa hill shrine every year by reducing the traffic congestion. Currently, only road ways medium is available to reach the hill shrine.
Airports in Kerala
♦ Cochin International Airport, Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, Calicut International Airport, Kannur Airport, Kollam Airport.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh Inaugurated 2017 Indian Seed Congress in Kolkata
i. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh inaugurated the Indian Seed Congress 2017 in Kolkata on February 12, 2017.
ii. The theme of Seed Congress is “Seed of Joy”.
2017 Indian Seed Congress in Kolkataiii. The theme is in line with vision of PM Modi government to bring happiness and prosperity in the lives of farmers by doubling their farm income by 2022.
iv. The minister emphasized that to enhance the productivity of good quality seeds the centre has directed the state governments to prepare variety wise seed rolling plants to meet year wise, season wise requirements of quality seeds.
v. These rolling plants would help in improving the Seed replacement rate along with Variety replacement rate so that sustainable agricultural production and productivity could be ensured.
vi. Besides vegetable seeds, the conclave also stressed on the production of hybrid seeds of maize, paddy, pearl millet and cotton for export to African countries.
vii. Indian seed industry has the potential to become a major industry to supply quality seeds in global markets.

International Conference on NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries-NxGnMiFu-2017 inaugurated in New Delhi
i. Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Science Dr. Harsh Vardhan has inaugurated the three day International Conference on “NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries” (NxGnMiFu-2017) in New Delhi on February 15, 2017
ii. Aim : To innovate new techniques, technologies and applications for clean, safe, symbiotic sustenance of society, environment and industries in post-2020 era.
iii. The conference was organised by CSIR-Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad as a part of CSIR-Platinum Jubilee Celebration to commemorate 75th year of its foundation.
iv. An industrial exhibition is also being organised in the Vigyan Bhawan lawns and will run in parallel with the technical sessions.
v. Eight distinguished luminaries from the mining, fuel sectors, 800 delegates from India and 50 delegates from countries like, UK, Australia, China, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria etc. have expected to  participante in the event.


India Ranked 143 in the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom Index
i. India has been ranked 143 out of 186 economies in the annual Index of Economic Freedom 2017 released by top US based Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation.The Index measures the degree of economic freedom in the countries of the world.
ii. Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand are the top three nations in the Index respectively.
iii. India has been placed in the category of “Mostly Unfree” Economies in which the points ranges from 50.0-59.9.
iv. Among South Asian countries, only Afghanistan (163) and Maldives (157) were ranked below India. Nepal (125), Sri Lanka (112), Pakistan (141), Bhutan (107), and Bangladesh (128) surpassed India in economic freedom

UNICEF Makes $110 Million Appeal for Sudan Children
i. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a $110 million appeal on February 15, 2017 to help two million acutely malnourished children across Sudan including hundreds of thousands living in conflict areas
ii. Sudan is home to around 13 percent of all children suffering from acute malnutrition across Africa. Two million children under five in Sudan are acutely malnourished.
iii .They have been displaced due to violence in Darfur, Regions of South and North Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei while many separated from their relatives and affected by grave violations.
iv. UNICEF has spent about $500 million in Sudan over the past five years and increasingly aims to tap funds from inside Sudan.
United Nations International Children’s Fund Nepal designated to UNICEF's executive board member

♦ The United Nations International Children’s Fund is a United Nations programme that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.
♦ Headquarters: New York City, United States
♦ CEO: Anthony Lake
♦ Founded: 11 December 1946


RBI will Reimburse Banks MDR Charges Effective January 1, 2017
i. The Reserve Bank of India has decided to reimburse banks Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charges on debit cards used by citizens for payment with effect from January 1, 2017.
ii .In December 2016, the government had decided to absorb the merchant discount rate (MDR) charges in respect of debit card transactions for making payments to it to encourage people to use digital payments post demonetisation.
iii. RBI has directed the banks to forward their claim for reimbursement of MDR along with statutory auditor’s certificate to RBI’s Nagpur office on a quarterly basis.
iv .For the quarter ending March 2017, the banks have been asked to file claim by April 30.
v. Also, the banks will have to certify that MDR charges for transaction amounts up to Rs 1 lakh have not been collected from the payer.
Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) 
♦ MDR is a charge to a merchant by a bank for accepting payment from their customers in credit and debit cards every time a card is used for payments (like swiping) in their stores.

Citi Bank launches instant chat service for customers
i. Mumbai based Citi Bank has launched instant chat services for customers named Citibank Online (CBOL) on February 16, 2017. With this India become the first country in Asia Pacific within the Citi network to have this kind of service.
ii. CBOL will focuses on resolving queries instantly regarding cards,loans, domestic and non-resident accounts, and online transactions.
Citi Bankiii. It will features a regular chat facility for generic query resolutions. It  does not require additional verification for the customer once logged in and authenticated.
Citi Bank :
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 1902
♦ CEO: Pramit Jhaveri

RBI Doubles Gold Loan Limit for Regional Rural Banks to Rs. 2 lakhs
i. The Reserve Bank of India increased the gold loan limit for RRBs (Regional Rural Banks) to Rs 2 lakh from the current Rs 1 lakh on February 16, 2017 to help the farmers and artisans have access to credit who are willing to pledge gold as collateral.
ii. The limit has been doubled for the loans not exceeding 12 months from the date of sanction.
iii. Besides, the facility will be available with bullet repayment scheme. Under the scheme, while interest will be charged on a monthly basis on the total outstanding, it will become due for payment along with principal only at the end of 12 months from the date of sanction.
iv. However, RBI has also directed that the gold loans should not exceed 75% of the value of the gold pledged for taking the loan.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Founded: April 1935
♦ Governor: Urjit Patel

Name and Shame Campaign of Catholic Syrian Bank Starts Paying Dividends
i. The Name and Shame Campaign initiated by Catholic Syrian Bank Employees and Retirees against willful Defaulters in Kerala have started paying dividends.
ii. As per the bank, of the 30 defaulters identified with dues of more than Rs. 50 lakh each, about 10 borrowers have approached the bank with settlement proposals and the bank has also received firm assurance for payments worth Rs. 25 crore from defaulters.
iii. The bank is now looking at getting these accounts closed before March. However, non-availability of adequate cash with the borrowers post demonetization is posing a challenge.
iv. Through the campaign, the bank is succeeding in spreading the message to defaulters not to avoid loan repayments.
Catholic Syrian Bank Limited
The Catholic Syrian Bank Limited is an Indian private sector bank and one of the oldest banks in India. The bank has a network of over 430 branches and more than 240 ATMs across India.
♦ Headquarters: Thrissur          ♦ Founded: 26 November 1920
♦ CEO: Anand Krishnamurthy    ♦ Motto: Support all the way


Tata Motors Signs Strategic Technological Agreement with Microsoft
i. Tata Motors Ltd and Microsoft India entered into strategic agreement on February 16, 2017 to collaborate on the technology front for making driving a more personalized experiences for the customers.
ii. As per the agreement, Microsoft will make use of its IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technologies to develop a highly personalized, smart vehicle for the customers.
iii. The first vehicle showcasing such technological advancements will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor show on March 7, 2017.
iv. The tie-up will act as a new revenue opportunity for the company as car buyers increasingly look for value-added services.Tata Motors Signs Strategic Technological Agreement with Microsoft
Tata Motors Ltd.
♦ Tata Motors Limited is an Indian multinational automotive manufacturing company in India and a member of the Tata Group.
♦ CEO: Guenter Butschek
♦ Founded: 1945
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai

MCX signs MoU with Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange
i. Mumbai based Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore areas of cooperation on February 16, 2017.
ii. The agreement will to facilitate cooperation between the two exchanges in areas such as knowledge sharing and research, standardisation of the product for Indian markets
iii. It will enhancing transparency in pricing, besides exploring further areas of collaboration.
Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange
♦ Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX), headquartered in Singapore, is the world’s first commodity exchange in physically settled diamonds.
♦ This is the first of its kind globally, will utilize proven exchange technology to create a new marketplace for the global diamond trade.


AIIMS, New Delhi Wins First Prize for Sanitation & Hygiene under Kayakalp Awards
i. India’s premier health institute the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi was awarded the first prize of the Government’s Kayakalp Award under the Central Government Hospitals category on February 15, 2017 in New Delhi for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene.
ii .The award was presented by the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda and the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi received a cash prize of Rs. 5 crore.
iii. The second prize was received by North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Shillong, which got a cash prize of Rs 3 crore.
iv. Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, received the third prize of Rs 1 crore.
v. Besides, commendation awards of Rs 50 lakh each were given to AIIMS, Raipur, AIIMS, Jodhpur and National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD), Delhi.
vi. The health minister also felicitated the District Hospitals, PHCs and CHCs for winning the awards in their respective states and union territory.
vii. The Kayakalp award scheme was launched in 2015 so as to improve the culture of sanitation and cleanliness in India’s health care facilities.

Indian-origin Shand Panesar Wins UK’s Bravery Award
i. An Indian-origin Scotland Yard officer Shand Panesar along with his colleague Craig Nicholson was honored with the 2017 Outstanding Bravery of the Year Award on February 10, 2017 in central London during a special award ceremony of the Total Excellence in Policing Awards.
ii. The duo were honored the top bravery award in the United Kingdom for risking their own life to save a family trapped in a burning house in Hillingdon in September 2016
iii. Although the officers had no fire safety equipment or protective clothing they still acted in the best traditions of the Metropolitan Police.
Indian-origin Shand Panesar Wins UK’s Bravery Awardiv. The coveted Total Excellence in Policing Awards recognizes a host of dedicated police work across 14 separate categories including Outstanding Bravery, Best Detective, Thief Taker of the Year, and Excellence in Victim Care among others.
United Kingdom
♦ Currency: Pound sterling
♦ Capital: London
♦ Prime minister: Theresa May


Edappadi K Palaniswami Appointed as the New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
i. The Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao appointed Edappadi K Palaniswami as 13th chief minister of the state on February 16, 2017. His appointment is in acceptance of the letter submitted by Palaniswami on February 14, 2017 that he was elected as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party at a meeting of the party MLAs.
ii. The Governor has invited him to form the ministry at the earliest as well as requested him to seek the vote confidence of the assembly within 15 days.
iii. O Panneerselvam was appointed as the Chief Minister within hours of death of AIDMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016. Later on February 5, 2017 Panneerselvam stepped down paving the way for Sasikala to be elected its legislature party leader who was already chosen AIADMK general secretary.

Vikas Swarup appointed India’s next envoy to Canada
i. The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Vikas Swarup was appointed as India’s High Commissioner to Canada on February 16, 2017. He will replace Syed Akabarudddin who is who is moved as serving as India’s Permanent representative in the United Nations
ii. Vikas is currently working as the spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).He had served the country’s in several embassies including US and Turkey.Vikas Swarup
iii. He has penned few books is best known for his novel ‘Q&A’ which was later adopted into a movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Canada :
♦ Capital: Ottawa
♦ Currency: Canadian dollar
♦ Prime minister: Justin Trudeau

Government appoints 5 new judges to Supreme Court
Five new judges are appointed to the Supreme Court by the President Pranab Mukherjee. Now the total number of  judges in the Supreme Court raised to 28 from 23
New Judges are :
1.Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
2.Rajasthan HC Chief Justice Naveen Sinha
3.Kerala HC Chief Justice Mohan M Shantanagouder
4.Chhattisgarh HC Chief Justice Dipak Gupta
5.Karnataka HC judge S Abdul Nazeer.
Supreme Court :
♦ The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review. SC consisting of the Chief Justice of India and 30 other judges
♦ SC judge is appointed to the Supreme Court by the President
♦ Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65
♦ Article 125 of the Indian Constitution leaves it to the Indian Parliament to determine the salary, other allowances, leave of absence, pension, etc. of the Supreme Court judges.

FIBA Appoints Norman Isaac as its First Indian Technical Delegate
i. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has promoted Norman Isaac as the Technical Delegate (TD) of the sport’s worldwide governing body.
ii. He has become the first Indian to be ever appointed to the post. In 2006, FIBA appointed him as the FIBA Commissioner at Muscat, Oman.
FIBAiii .Isaac has been appointed as the Technical Delegate (TD) after he along with a select few aspirants from across the globe successfully cleared a series of tests in Doha, Qatar.
iv. He will be responsible to prepare the preliminary rounds of matches in the qualifiers to kick off in November 2017 and then the first ever FIBA World Cup in China in 2019.
v. He will be assigned to any country except his own during his tenure as TD and will be responsible for conduct of an entire event, ranging from actual competition management to every related aspect, from media arrangements to logistics.
International Basketball Federation
♦ The International Basketball Federation commonly known as FIBA is an association of national organizations which governs international competition in basketball.
♦ Founded: 18 June 1932
♦ Headquarter: Mies, Switzerland
♦ President: Horacio Muratore


Scientists ‘Unmask’ Protein Shielding Superbug Against Antibiotics
i. The Scientists from University of Western Australian have mapped the molecular structure of a protein that protects the superbugs from all the antibiotics including Colistin, which is an antibiotic used when all other treatments fail.
ii. The scientist found that the protein EptA provides resistance to the bacteria even against last resort antibiotic Colistin.
iii. Using a technique called X-ray Crystallography scientists mapped the three-dimensional structure of EptA.
iv. The research may help to develop new drugs for antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains and lead to all new method of treatment.
v. The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and involved several other universities and organisations.


NASA Scientists Record January 2017 as Third Warmest January in 137 years
i. According to the Monthly Analysis of Global Temperatures report published by the NASA scientists at Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, January 2017 has been recorded as the third warmest January in 137 years of modern record-keeping.
ii. As per the report, January 2016 was the hottest month with a temperature of 1.12 degree Celsius warmer than the mean January temperature from 1951-1980.
iii. This was followed by January 2007 at 0.96 degree Celsius and finally January 2017 with a temperature of 0.92 degree Celsius warmer than mean January temperature.
iv .The monthly analysis by the GISS team is based on the data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.Nasa
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
♦ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
♦ Founded: July 29, 1958
♦ Headquarter: Washington, D.C.