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Current Affairs Today – February 19 2017

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami Wins Trust Vote In Assembly
i. The newly appointed Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edappadi Palaniswami won the trust vote in the Assembly on February 18, 2017 where 122 MLAs voted for him, while 11 voted for O Panneerselvam.
ii .To win, a majority of 68 votes were needed. With this Palaniswami will continue to remain at the position of CM.
iii .It was the first such floor test which Tamil Nadu witnessed in about 30 years.
iv .Earlier, on February 16, 2017, he was administered the oath of office as the Chief Minister by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao after he submitted a letter on February 14 claiming he was elected as the Leader of the AIADMK Legislature party in a meeting of its MLAs that day.

Maharashtra Approves Rs. 250 crore Cloud Seeding Programme
i. The state government of Maharashtra has approved a Rs. 250 crore Cloud Seeding Programme to experiment whether cloud seeding produces sufficient rain.
ii. Seeding is a technique which involves spraying chemicals into clouds.
iii. Under the programme, the weather scientists will fly airplanes loaded with silver iodide Maharashtra Approves Rs. 250 crore Cloud Seeding Programmeover clouds above Solapur, Maharashtra during the monsoon 2017 beginning with a three year initial investigation.
iv. The programme is coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and will deal to address the frequent drought in Vidarbha.
v. Scientists will fly two aircraft and spray dry ice and silver iodide on 100 clouds and compare them with 100 unseeded clouds. Ground radar will track the clouds and verify which ones contributed rain.
vi. The move is part of a larger experiment of the Earth Sciences Ministry to understand how clouds and aerosols interact and influence climate.
How Cloud Seeding Works
♦ Silver iodide is released into the atmosphere by a propane flame through jet, rocket or ground propellers.
♦ The iodide particles rise into the cloud and causes the moisture to freeze.
♦ The particle act as a base for the water vapour to settle on.
♦ The water vapour crystallizes and comes down as rain or ice.

Mil Banche Programme held in all Government Schools of Madhya Pradesh
i. An initiative by the government of Madhya Pradesh, Mil Banche MP” (Let MP read together) programme was held in all the primary and middle government schools of the Madhya Pradesh on February 18, 2017 to increase knowledge and the understanding about language among students..
ii. Under the programme, all the district administrators, government officials, public representatives, college students, retired officials, businessmen, media persons, doctors, engineers, sports persons and including common man will teach and interact with students of all government schools of the state.
iii .As a part of the programme, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan also visited the Sanjay Gandhi Middle School in Bhopal where he had studied during his childhood.
iv .He took classes to motivate the children to do best in their life. He also announced that he would teach in schools twice every month.
v. The programme has been launched by the Tribal Development Department and State School Education under the direction of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
vi. More than two lakh people of every walk of life taught in 1,12,073 primary and middle schools of the state under this statewide programme.
Wildlife Sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh
♦ Karera Wildlife Sanctuary, Ralamanda Wildlife Sanctuary, Son Ghariya Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, Panchmari Wildlife Sanctuary, Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kheoni Wildlife Sanctuary.

ICAI’s Accounting Research Foundation signs pact with Railways
i. The CA Institute’s Accounting Research Foundation (ARF) has signed an agreement with Indian Railways for the national rollout of accrual accounting in Railways on February 19, 2017. The agreement will be valid for 18 months.
ii. The agreement was signed by V. Sagar, Director, ICAI ARF and Secretary, ICAI and Sanjeev Sharma, Deputy Chief Project Manager (Accounting Reforms), Northern Railway in the presence of Shahzad Shah, Financial Commissioner, Indian Railways and Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey, Chairman, ICAI ARF and President, ICAI.
iii. According to the agreement accrual accounting will be introduced at 17 Railway zones and 8 production units across the country.
iv. The pilot project also for introduction of the Accrual based Financial Statement as an additional set of Accounts at North Western Railway at Jaipur and Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala by ICAI ARF.
v. It is the part of accounting reforms, accrual based financial statements will be rolled out in Railways by March 2019.
Advantages :
♦ Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending.
♦ It will also pave way for best financial management practices to be introduced in Indian Railways.


India Approves USD 340 million Loan to Nepal for Development Programmes
i. India has sanctioned a soft loan of US dollar 340 million to Nepal for various infrastructure development programmes on February 19, 2017.
ii. The approval paper was handed over by the Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae to Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister of Nepal Ramesh Lekhak in the presence of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
iii. Under this programme Mahalaki bridge and 15 roads will be constructed in various parts of Nepal.
iv. The move is a part of India’s commitment for strengthening infrastructure in Nepal. The completion of infrastructural projects will not only strengthen physical connectivity but 4-member EPG suggested by Nepal to review accords with Indiaalso emotional bonding between the people of both the countries.
♦ Capital: Kathmandu
♦ Currency: Nepalese rupee
♦ Prime minister: Pushpa Kamal Dahal
♦ President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari


Oriental Bank of Commerce Launches Mobile Wallet ‘Batuaa’
i. The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) launched a series of digital offerings for its customers on February 19, 2017 which also marks the 75th Foundation Day of the bank.
ii. The OBC bank introduced a new version of mobile banking in the form of mobile app under the name ‘Oriental Batuaa’ to provide banking services through app.
iii. Besides, OBC also launched two new RuPay cards, Oriental Premium card and Oriental Prepaid Card.
iv. Oriental Premium card is a RuPay based Platinum international debit card with airport lounge access. Oriental Prepaid Card is a RuPay card for individuals and corporates’.
v. The bank also launched two MSME schemes ‘Oriental Sanjeevani’ and ‘Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants’.
vi. Oriental Sanjeevani is a specialised scheme for doctors for setting up new hospitals and clinics. The Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants scheme is for individuals, proprietors, companies etc for setting up new hotels, restaurants, lodges, motels etc.
vii. The OBC bank aims to achieve atleast 75 percent of its total transactions through non-branch channels by March 2018.
Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC)
♦ Headquarters: Haryana
♦ CEO: Animesh Chauhan
♦ Founded: 19 February 1943

GST Council Approves Law to Compensate States for Revenue Loss
i .The GST Council approved a law to compensate states for any loss of revenue from the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) in the first five years,  on February 18, 2017 at the 10th GST Council Meet at Udaipur.
ii. The compensation bill will be taken to Parliament in 2nd half of Budget Session to be held from March 9, 2017.
iii. The next meeting of the council will be held on March 4-5, 2017 at New Delhi and will aim to approve the draft laws on Central GST, Inter State GST as well as State GST.
iv. After laws are approved, the Council will get down to fixing rates of taxes for different goods and services by fitting them into the four approved slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) 
♦ The GST will replace central and state taxes. Under it, C-GST will be levied by the Centre, S-GST by states and I-GST on inter-state supply of goods and services.
♦ Different indirect taxes of central excise duty, central sales tax and service tax will be merged with C-GST while S-GST will absorb state sales tax, VAT, luxury tax and entertainment tax.


Srinagar Airport Gets Its First Foreign Airline Service
i. AirAsia became the first foreign airline to begin its operations from Srinagar international airport in Jammu and Kashmir on February 19, 2017.
ii. Srinagar has The Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport since last five years, but no Air Asiaforeign airlines had yet operated services from there.
iii. The flight operation by AirAsia is expected to give a boost to tourism in the valley.
iv. The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti waved the flag to clear the landing for the AirAsia flight at Srinagar airport in presence of Tourism department officials and top management of AirAsia India operations.
v. A Malaysian low-cost airline, AirAsia will operate one flight daily between Delhi and Srinagar initially.
Airports in Jammu & Kashmir
♦ Jammu Airport, Kargil Airport, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Poonch Airport, Srinagar International Airport.


Indian Movie Newton Wins top Honour at Berlin Film Festival
i. Indian Cinema movie “Newton” directed by Amit Masurkar was honored with the Art Cinema Award in the Forum Segment at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival held from February 9-18, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
ii. Rajkummar Rao and Anjali Patel starrer political comedy Newton had its world premiere during the film festival. The film revolves around a clerk placed on election duty in a conflict-ridden area of Chhattisgarh.
iii. Over 43 films were screened in the Forum segment out of which 29 had their world premiere.
iv. The film is produced by Manish Mundra of Drishyam Films, company best known for bankrolling critically-acclaimed projects such as Masaan, Ankhon Dekhi and Umrika.
♦ Capital: Berlin
♦ Currency: Euro
♦ President: Joachim Gauck


Ranganathan, Mehta appointed Non-Official Director in IOB, PNB
i. T C A Ranganathan and Sunil Mehta were appointed as Non-Official Directors in Indian Overseas Bank and Punjab National Bank on February 19, 2017 by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet.
ii. Both appointed for a period of three years. It is announced by Personnel Ministry.
iii. Prior to this,  T C A Ranganathan has worked as the CMD of Exim Bank while Mehta is currently Chairman & Managing Director at SPM Capital Advisors Pvt Ltd.
IOB:                                                   PNB:
♦ Headquarters: Chennai                     ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ CEO: R. Koteeswaran                        ♦ CEO: Usha Ananthasubramanian
♦ Motto: Good people to grow with       ♦ The name you can bank upon.


India Vetiver Network (INVN) launched in Tamil Nadu 
IVINi. India Vetiver Network (INVN) has been launched at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore .
ii. Aim: To protect the environment using vetiver
iii. INVN is a not-for-profit scientific network to promote vetiver in India. Vetiver has worldwide application to tackle many environmental issues like soil erosion, mitigation of soil and water pollution.
iv. Promotion of research in vetiver — identification of varieties, improved production technologies and distillation techniques.

NASA to create Space Technology Research Institutes for Deep Space Exploration
i. In order to focus on deep space missions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has proposed to set up of two multi-disciplinary, university-led research institutes that will work to develop technologies having potential to extend human presence deeper into the solar system.
ii. The Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) will be created in the two institutes namely Centre for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space (CUBES) and Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP) with expected outcome within 5 years.
iii. The new STRIs created under the proposals will bring together researchers from various disciplines and organizations to collaborate on the advancement of cutting-edge technologies in bio-manufacturing and space infrastructure.
iv. Through the new institutes NASA aims to shift the focus from low-earth orbit to deep space missions by way of developing technologies that will allow long-duration mission crews to manufacture the products they need rather than relying on the current practice of resupply missions from Earth.
v. The technological advancement will meet their goal of creating Earth-independent, self-sustaining exploration mission capabilities.
vi .Each STRI will receive up to $15 million over the five-year period of performance.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
♦ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
♦ Formed: July 29, 1958
♦ Headquarter: Washington DC
♦ Administrator: Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr.


Scientists Discovers Lost Continent Zealandia Hidden Submerged in Pacific Ocean
i. A Lost Continent that sunk about 100 million years ago has been discovered underneath New Zealand by the scientists. Zealandia, a lost continent submerged in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is large enough to be recognized as a separate continent.
ii. The report was published “GSA Today”, the journal of the Geological Society of America.
iii. Zealandia covers nearly 5 million sq. km (1.9 million sq miles) out of which 94 percent is under water and surrounds New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Lord Howe Island group and Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

India’s only Volcano in Andaman & Nicobar Island Active Again
i. A team of scientists led by Abhay Mudholkar, from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO) in Goa on February 17, 2017 informed that India’s only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has started erupting smoke and lava again.
ii. The volcano of Barren Island last erupted in 1991 after lying dormant for 150 years. Again the volcano has started showing sporadic activity in small intervals of 5-10 minutes.
iii. As per the scientists, during the day only ash clouds were observed, but after sunset red lava foundations were erupting from the crater into the atmosphere and hot lava streamed down the slopes.
iv. Researchers from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and NIO have sampled sediments and water nearby and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material representing proximal volcanic ejecta.
v. These samples will help in interpret the nature of present and past volcanic activity in the region.


India to Host Next Davis Cup tie in Bangalore in April
i. Bangalore has been chosen to host the next Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone group-1 tie against Uzbekistan from April 7 to 9, 2017.
ii. As per the announcement made by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on February 16, 2017, the tie clash will be held on the hard courts of Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) in Bangalore.
iii. Earlier, India outplayed New Zealand 4-1 in the first round in Pune while Uzbekistan beat Korea 3-1 in the away first round tie early this month. India and Uzbekistan are locked 2-2 in Head-to-Head record.
iv. The last time two teams clashed against each other was in April 2012 when Uzbekistan emerged 3-2 winners in tie.
v. The last time India played in Bangalore was in September 2014 where it lost 2-3 to Serbia in a World Group Play off tie.
vi. The winner of the tie will make way to the World Group Play-offs to be held in September, 2017.

Akhil and Jitender Kumar Signs Deal to Turn Professional Boxers
i. Following the path of Indian boxing sensation Vijender Singh, Olympic quarterfinalists boxers Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar are also stepping up to enter professional boxing.
Akhil and Jitender Kumar Signs Dealii. The former Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medalist boxer Akhil Kumar and Asian medallist Jitender Kumar signed a multi-year deal with IOS Boxing Promotions on February 18, 2017 confirming
turning professional boxers.
iii. IOS Boxing Promotions also manages Vijendra Singh’s pro boxing career.
iv. Both the boxers will make their pro debut on the same day when Vijender will take on China’s WBO Oriental Super Middleweight Champion Zulpikar Maimaitiali in Mumbai on April 1, 2017.
v. Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar will compete in six bouts in 2017 starting with four-round fights on their debut on April 1.
vi. Akhil would be competing in the super lightweight category while Jitender would be seen fighting in the super featherweight division.
vii. Both Akhil and Jitender are former Asian Championships bronze-medallists and serving DSPs in the Haryana Police. They turned professional after getting permission from their department.
viii .Both the boxers will be trained at an academy being developed by IOS in Gurgaon by a trainer from Manchester by the end of February, 2017.

Haryana’s Sandeep Kumar Breaks his Own Record to Win Gold in 50km Race Walk
i. Athelete Sandeep Kumar of Haryana won the gold medal in the Men’s 50km event of the National Race Walking Championships held in New Delhi on February 18, 2017.
ii. Sandeep finished the race in 3:55:59.05 seconds to break his own earlier record at 3:56:22 which he made at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup at Taicang, China in May 2014.
iii .With this achievement, Sandeep has now qualified for the London World Championships to be held on August 4-13, 2017.
iv. Besides, services athletes Jitender Singh (4:02:11.58) and Chandan Singh (4:04:18.41) won the silver and bronze respectively.
v. Both these sprinters have also booked their berths for the London Championship for which the entry standard for the men’s 50km race walk is 4:06:00.
vi. Sandeep was given a cash prize of Rs 50,000, while Jitender and Chandan got Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively as prize money. A total of Rs 4 lakh was kept as prize money by the sponsors Max Bupa. 


Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir Dies at the age of 68
i. Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir passed away on February 19, 2017 in Kolkata at Apollo Hospital after suffering from kidney ailment. He was 68.
ii. He was the 39th Chief Justice of India who held office from September 29, 2012 to July 18, 2013.
iii. During his tenure as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Kabir delivered several important judgments, particularly relating to human rights and election laws.
iv. Kabir had also been part of the bench hearing the case of the two Italian Marines who allegedly shot dead two Kerala fishermen, taking them to be pirates.
v. He had also decided the important issue of whether an MP suspended from a political party can continue as MP.

Dick Bruna Creator of the Cartoon Rabbit Miffy Dies at 89
i. The Dutch author, artist, illustrator and graphic designer Dick Bruna died on February 16, 2017 in the Dutch city of Utrecht. He was 89.
Dick Bruna Creator of the Cartoon Rabbit Miffy Dies at 89ii. Bruna was best known for his more than 200 children’s books which he authored and illustrated. The most notable creation was Miffy, known as Nijntje in Dutch, the cartoon rabbit drawn with heavy graphic lines, simple shapes and primary colors.
iii. He created the much loved Miffy character in 1955 as a story to entertain his young son. More than 80 million Miffy books have been sold globally.
iv. Bruna was born in 1929 into a family of publishers. He began his career as an illustrator of covers for books including Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and the Inspector Maigret thrillers of Georges Simenon.

Bengali singer Banasree Sengupta passes away
i. Noted Bengali singer Banasree Sengupta was passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal on February 19, 2017. She was 71.
ii. She is well known for some of the most popular modern songs likes Aaj Bikeler Daake Tomar Chithi Pelam, Amar Ange Jawle Rangmashal and Chhi Chhi Chhi Eki Kando Korech


Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl penned by Ram Kamal Mukherjee
i. An actor turned politician Hema Malini’s journey from an actor and filmmaker to a politician Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl penned by Ram Kamal Mukherjeeis being chronicled as an authorised biography titled ‘Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl‘ .
ii. The biography is written by author-columnist Ram Kamal Mukherjee.
iii. The book will be published on her birthday on October 16 by the publisher HarperCollins India
About Hema Malini :
♦ Hema Malini has been a filmmaker and producer, directing films and television serials
♦ She is the Member of Parliament from Mathura and she also performed the classical dance ballets Draupadi, Radha Krishna and Durga.