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Government to set up 562 more Ekalavya schools
On February 16, 2018, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram stated that Central Government will set up 562 more Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS) in tribal areas across India.
More Information about Ekalavya Model Residential School (EMRS):
i. Setting up EMRSs is a part of Government’s commitment to provide best quality education to the tribal children in their own environment.
ii. EMRSs, to be set up by Central Government will be on par with the Navodaya Vidyalayas. Besides, these schools have special facilities for preserving local art and culture and also provide training in sports and skill development.
iii. Currently, 190 EMRSs are operational, where about 56000 tribal students have been enrolled at the rate of Rs 42000 per student per annum. During 2017-18, an amount of Rs 241.60 crore was provided for meeting recurring cost of these 190 functional EMRSs.
iv.It has been decided that by 2022, every block having more than 50 per cent Scheduled Tribes’ population and at least 20000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.
National Conference on “Agriculture 2022- Doubling Farmers’ Income” to be held in New Delhi
Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is organizing a National Conference under the title of “Agriculture 2022 – Doubling Farmers’ Income” in New Delhi on 19th and 20th February, 2018.
About National Conference on “Agriculture 2022- Doubling Farmers’ Income”:
i. The main objective of this conference is to build a consensus and arrive at actionable points on measures to be taken for shaping and sharpening Central Government’s vision on Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022.
ii. Seven broad themes have been identified for this conference. Some of these themes also have sub-themes.
iii. Discussions/deliberations on every theme will be held by a group of participants comprising farmers, farmers’ associations, economists, scientists, academics, professional associations, NGOs and policy makers.
iv. Every group will present their finalised recommendations at the concluding session on February 20, 2018, in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sex ratio at birth dips in 17 of 21 large States, Gujarat records 53 points fall
As per a report released by the NITI Aayog, sex ratio at birth (SRB) declined in 17 out of 21 large states of India.
Data on Sex ratio at birth across India:
i. In context of this news, number of female live births vis-a-vis number of male live births is referred to as Sex Ratio at Birth.
ii. Among 17 states where SRB has dropped; highest decline has been recorded from Gujarat. For the reference year, i.e. 2013-15, SRB in Gujarat fell to 854 females per 1000 males, marking a 53 points drop from 907 females per 1000 males in 2012-14 (base year).
iii. Gujarat is followed by Haryana (35 points drop) and Rajasthan (32 points drop).
iv. Large Indian states which have witnessed improvement in SRB are Punjab ( rise of 19 points) followed by Uttar Pradesh (rise of 10 points) and Bihar (rise of 9 points).
v. NITI Aayog has recommended that states should effectively implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 in order to check sex-selective abortion.
Botanical Survey of India Signs MoU with Natural History Museum, UK
On February 16, 2018, Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Natural History Museum (NHM), United Kingdom (UK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of genetic/taxonomic studies, research and training, conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments.
Details about BSI-NHM, UK MoU:
i. The MoU was signed in New Delhi by Dr Paramjit Singh – Director of BSI and Dr Sandra Knapp – Head of the Algae, Fungi and Plants Division, NHM, in presence of Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
ii. As per the terms of this MoU, BSI staff will work in Natural History Museum, London and vice-versa. Staffs of both these entities will equitably share the benefits that may arise from the combined collection, joint study and conservation efforts.
iii. Besides, NHM will help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.
Quick Facts about Botanical Survey of India:
♦ Formed in – 1890
♦ Headquarters – Kolkata, West Bengal
♦ Parent Organisation – Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
West Bengal Announces Sale of Govt Stock for Rs 2000 Crore to Meet Expenses of Developmental Projects
On February 15, 2018, West Bengal State Government notified sale of West Bengal Stock (Securities) for an aggregate amount of Rs 2000 crore.
Information about sale of West Bengal Stock (Securities):
i. Sale proceeds would be utilised on developmental projects of West Bengal state government.
ii. West Bengal State Government has already got consent of the central government for floating this stock sale. As per Article 293 (3) of the Constitution of India, Central Government’s consent is required for this purpose.
iii. The sale will take place through an auction conducted by the Reserve Bank of India on February 20, 2018.
iv. Stocks sold will be of a 10-year tenure, commencing on February 21, 2018.
Quick Facts about West Bengal:
♦ Capital – Kolkata
♦ Current Governor – Keshari Nath Tripathi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Mamata Banerjee
♦ Important National Park – Sundarbans National Park
Assam worst in MMR, spent just 13.58% of NHM fund in 2017-18
In terms of maternal mortality rate (MMR), Assam is at the bottom of the list among all Indian States.
MMR Data – Assam:
i. Annual number of female deaths per 100000 live births from any cause related to pregnancy is referred to as Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).
ii. MMR figure in Assam is 300 against the national average of 167. However, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Ashwini Kumar Choubey has stated that MMR in Assam has been declining. It was 383 fours ago and was 447 in 2002.
iii. In Assam, infant mortality rate (number of deaths per 1000 live births of children under one year of age) is also on higher side at 44 against the national figure of 37.
iv. In context of this news, it is important to note that fund spending under National Health Mission (NHM) in Assam is just 13.58 per cent for 2017-18.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Kaziranga National Park
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan inaugurates CPA Conference in Patna
On 17th February 2018, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan inaugurated the 6th Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) of India Region in Patna, Bihar.
Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) of India Region:
i. The conference of CPA of India Region is conducted for 2 days. Main subjects for discussion in the conference are ‘Parliament’s role in the development agenda’ and ‘Legislature and Judiciary’.
ii. Nearly 100 delegates from India and countries like Australia, Britain and Uganda are taking part in this conference. Also, Speakers of State Assemblies and Chairpersons of Legislative Councils are also participating.
iii. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi will present key note address.
iv. Emilia Lifaka, Chairperson of CPA Executive Committee, said that, we should work towards increasing women representatives in Parliament and Legislature.
About Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA):
♦ Founded – 1911
♦ Chairperson – Emilia Monjowa Lifaka
♦ Vice Chairperson – Alexandra Mendes
Tropical Cyclone Gita blasts tiny South Pacific island nation of Tonga
On 12th February 2018, tropical cyclone Gita devastated Tonga, a small South Pacific island country, with Category 4 intensity.
Tropical Cyclone Gita blasts Tonga:
i. Cyclone Gita hit the Tongatapu group of islands in southern Tonga. The speed of sustained winds was 145 mph.
ii. A state of emergency was declared in Tonga due to cyclone Gita. Authorities of Tonga had insisted every family to have an emergency kit and to stay indoors. They had urged people living in flood-prone areas to take shelter in evacuation centers.
iii. People had nailed wood over the windows, and had fitted iron roofing to their homes in an effort to minimize the damage that was anticipated to be caused by Cyclone Gita.
iv. As on 13th February 2018, three major injuries and 30 minor injuries were reported in Tongatapu.
♦ Monarch – Tupou VI
♦ Prime Minister – Akilisi Pohiva
Munich Security Conference begins in Germany
On 16th February 2018, the annual Munich Security Conference started off in Munich, Germany.
Munich Security Conference:
i. This is the 54th edition of the Munich Security Conference. It will be conducted till 18th February 2018.
ii. Nearly 30 heads of state and government and more than 100 cabinet ministers from all over the world are participating in this conference.
iii. Discussions are held on important international security issues like North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the Syrian civil war. The North Korean nuclear weapons development program issue is the most important topic to be discussed.
iv. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and French Defence Minister Florence Parly presented their statements on the first day of the conference.
About North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):
♦ Formed – 1949
♦ Members – 29 countries
BANKING & FINANCE
Government allows WhatsApp payments to roll-out to 1 mn beta users
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payments in India has given its consent to WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of 1 million and low per transaction limit.
Details about WhatsApp Payments – Beta Launch:
i. WhatsApp’s payment service with full-fledged features will be launched in India after the beta test of the service is successful.
ii. Whatsapp had received approval to use Unified Payments Interface (UPI), after a meeting between WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad in February 2017.
iii. UPI (launched by Indian Government) is a single-window mobile payment system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application.
iv. Whatsapp has been working with top Indian Banks such as State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank to integrate UPI into its payments solution.
City Union loses $2 million in cyberattack, retrieves half
Last week, about $2 million was stolen from City Union Bank accounts after a cyberattack compromised the SWIFT messaging system.
i. After gaining control of City Union Bank’s SWIFT messaging system, the cyber thieves sent payment instructions to other banks in multiple jurisdictions.
ii. These transactions were detected while reconciling accounts and since then, about half the money has been retrieved. The payments were sent to banks in Dubai, China and Turkey.
iii. Abbreviation SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It is a global messaging system through which trillions of dollars are transferred every day.
iv. City Union Bank Managing Director, N Kamakodi has stated that, they have alerted the Union Ministry of External Affairs and consulates in the respective countries and are hopeful of getting all the money back.
Quick Facts about City Union Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1904
♦ Headquarters – Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
♦ Current MD & CEO – Dr. N. Kamakodi
PNB arm, IFC tie up to raise $800 mn for affordable housing
PNB Housing Finance Ltd has tied up with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to raise $800 million for green and affordable housing in India.
Details about PNB Housing Finance-IFC tie-up:
i. PNB Housing Finance Ltd. is a subsidiary of Punjab National Bank (PNB), while IFC is a part of the World Bank Group.
ii. As per the tie-up, IFC will bring in $400 million. Out of which, $150 million will be its own money and the rest will be mobilized from other sources.
iii. PNB Housing Finance Ltd. will put up another $400 million on its own, taking the total amount to $800 million.
Quick Facts about PNB Housing Finance Ltd.:
♦ Founded in – 1988
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
ONGC plans to introduce Asia’s first large scale CO2 injection technique at Gandhar field
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is planning to introduce carbon dioxide injection in its Gandhar field to recover an extra 20 million barrels of crude oil.
i. Injected gas reduces viscosity of residual oil, making it easier to displace the oil from the rock pores. Besides, injecting CO2 swells oil, thereby pushing it towards the producing well for extraction.
ii. ONGC will be using this technology to recover an extra 15 per cent of residual oil currently valued at $1.36 billion.
iii. This technology has been successfully deployed in US and Canada. ONGC’s CO2 injection project would be first such large scale project in Asia.
iv .This project would be executed under enhanced oil recovery (EOR) programme, which is aimed at recovering up to 20 percent of residual oil from such ageing fields.
v. Depending on the results from Gandhar field, it would be replicated at other mature fields.
Quick Facts about ONGC:
♦ Founded in – 1956
♦ Headquarters – Dehradun, Uttarakhand
♦ Current Chairman – Shashi Shanker
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Sachin Tendulkar made T20 Mumbai League’s brand ambassador
On 16th February 2018, Sachin Tendulkar was named the brand ambassador of the upcoming T20 Mumbai League.
Sachin Tendulkar – Brand Ambassador of T20 Mumbai League:
i. The T20 Mumbai League will start on 11th March 2018. It is organised by Probability Sports India Private Limited as Lead Member and Wizcraft.
ii. It has been approved and sanctioned by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). Teams have been invited to participate in the league.
iii. Six teams would participate in the league. The teams would be from Mumbai North, Mumbai North-West, Mumbai North-East, Mumbai North- Central, Mumbai South-Central and Mumbai South.
About Probability Sports India Private Limited:
♦ Established – 1930
♦ President – Ashish Shelar
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
New type of antibiotic discovered in soil to fight against drug-resistant superbugs
While investigating thousands of soil samples, a team of US Scientists have discovered ‘malacidin’, a new class of antibiotics capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria.
Information about ‘malacidin’:
i. The ability of diseases to evolve and become immune to known treatments is referred to as antimicrobial resistance, which is one of the greatest threats to humanity.
ii. The newly discovered malacidin works by interfering with a major building block that the bacteria use to build and repair their outer membrane, and thereby restricts its growth.
iv. However, malacidin has been found to be effective only against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body.
India’s second lunar mission Chandrayan-2 to be launched in April
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned to launch Chandrayan-2 Mission around April 2018.
Launch of Chandrayan-2:
i. Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon. ISRO Chairman K Sivan said that the total cost of Chandrayaan-2 mission will be nearly Rs 8 billion.
ii. He said that, if Chandrayaan-2’s launch gets cancelled in April 2018 due to unsuitable weather, it will be rescheduled for launch in October 2018.
iii. He said that, Chandrayaan-2 Mission consists of:
- Orbiter – orbit the Moon from 100 km lunar polar orbit
- Lander – soft lands on a pre-determined site on lunar surface
- Rover – rolls out of the land after landing
iv. Chandrayaan-2’s payloads will be 6 on Orbiter; 3 on Lander and 2 on Rover.
About Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):
♦ Formed – 1969
♦ Headquarters – Bangalore
The Kepler Mission discovers nearly 100 new Exoplanets
The discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets (planets outside solar system) has been confirmed based on data from the second mission of NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Kepler Space Telescope or K2 released in 2014.
100 New Exoplanets:
i. The discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets has been confirmed by an international team of scientists.
ii. K2 finds exoplanets by studying reduction in light due to shadow of an exoplanet when it crosses its host star.
iii. The team of scientists have analysed 275 entities. Out of this 149 were confirmed as real exoplanets. 95 of these planets are new discoveries.
iv. This study has been published in the Astronomical Journal. Now, the total number of exoplanets discovered by K2 mission has increased to almost 300.
About K2 mission:
♦ Kepler spacecraft first launched – 2009
♦ K2 was formed when – Kepler spacecraft faced a mechanical failure in 2013 and was repurposed as K2 mission
Virat Kohli first batsman ever to score 500 runs in bilateral ODI series
Virat Kohli has created a world record by becoming the first batsman ever to score 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series.
Virat Kohli – 500 runs in bilateral ODI series:
i. Virat Kohli made this achievement at the sixth and final ODI of the series against South Africa at Centurion on 16th February 2018. He has scored 558 runs in total in this series.
ii. He has beat Rohit Sharma’s record of 491 runs against Australia in 2013-14 in bilateral ODI series.
iii. He scored 129 runs in the sixth ODI of the series and India won the series 5-1. He has also become the fastest batsman to score 17000 international runs.
About Virat Kohli:
♦ Age – 29
♦ Batting – Right-handed
♦ Bowling – Right-arm medium
♦ Role – Batsman
Roger Federer becomes oldest world No 1 in tennis history
Roger Federer has become the oldest player in the world to hold number 1 rank in the ATP world rankings.
Roger Federer becomes oldest world No 1 in tennis history:
i. Roger Federer achieved this feat by defeating Robin Haase 4-6 6-1 6-1 to reach semi-finals of the ABN AMRO tournament in Rotterdam on 16th February 2018.
ii. Roger Federer is 36 years old. He has returned to number 1 position in the world rankings for the first time since 2012.
iii. He reached number one position for the first time in 2004. He has surpassed America’s Andre Agassi, who was the previous oldest player to be world number one at 33 years in 2003.
About Roger Federer:
♦ Country – Switzerland
♦ Plays – Right-handed (one-handed backhand)