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Current Affairs Today February 19 2018

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22nd edition of World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) and 26th edition of Nasscom India Leadership Forum (ILF) held in Hyderabad
On 19th to 21st February 2018, 22nd edition of World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) and 26th edition of Nasscom India Leadership Forum (ILF) are held concurrently, at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, in Hyderabad.22nd edition of World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) and 26th edition of Nasscom India Leadership Forum (ILF) held in HyderabadWCIT & ILF:
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the summit through a video conference. The WCIT is held for the first time in India.
ii. Telangana is the partner state for both WCIT and ILF. Nasscom is the host of WCIT. The 26th edition of India Leadership Forum (ILF) is a limited edition.
iii. The WCIT has participation from nearly 2,500 visionaries, heads of industry, government leaders and academicians from over 80 countries.
iv. The ILF features speeches, networking, and provides a beneficial experience for delegates in business, technology and leadership.
v.NASSCOM Global Leadership Awards and Social Innovation Awards by NASSCOM will be announced as part of these events.
vi. Theme of the conference is “Amplify Digital – Disrupt The Core”. Sophia, the humanoid robot from Saudi Arabia, will also participate in the conference.
About Nasscom:
♦ President – R Chandrashekhar
♦ Senior Vice President – Sangeeta Gupta

Over 40 Indian languages, dialects heading to extinction
A Home Ministry official has stated that 42 languages or dialects in India, spoken by less than 10000 people are considered endangered and may be heading towards extinction.
Information about Indian Languages, Dialects heading towards extinction:
i. As per a report of the census directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in India that are spoken by a large number of people – one lakh or more.
ii. However, a list prepared by UNESCO has mentioned that out of these, about the 42 Indian languages, dialects may be heading towards extinction.
iii. Languages or dialects which were considered endangered, include 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, seven from Manipur and four from Himachal Pradesh.
iv. Some of the other languages in the endangered category are Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha), Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaba and Naiki (Andhra Pradesh).

Maharashtra, Virgin Group Sign Deal for Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune
On February 18, 2018, Virgin Hyperloop One signed the framework agreement with Maharashtra State Government to build a hyperloop between Pune and Mumbai.Maharashtra, Virgin Group Sign Deal for Hyperloop between Mumbai and PuneDetails about World’s First Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune:
i. Announcement about the framework agreement was made by Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One chairman Sir Richard Branson at Magnetic Maharashtra event in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
ii. A hyperloop comprises a sealed tube/system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at high speed. 
iii. As per a study, a person can travel from Mumbai to Pune (approximate distance – 150 km) in 14-25 minutes through Hybperloop. Besides, it will be an affordable transport solution as its price would be same as airfare or a cab transport.
iv. Mr. Branson has stated that test run on this route will be completed in next three years, it will be commercially opened within next six to seven year.
v. If things pan out as per Mr. Branson’s timeline, India may be the first market for Hyperloop One even before Middle East, Northern Europe or United States of America, where Hyperloop One is considering rolling out its service.
Quick Facts about Virgin Hyperloop One:
♦ Founded in – 2014
♦ Headquarters – Los Angeles, US
♦ Key Investors – Richard Branson, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem – CEO and Group Chairman of DP World and Ziyavudin Magomedov – Chairman of Summa Group.

Haryana opens four subsidised canteens under Antyodaya Aahaar Yojana
On February 17, 2018, Haryana State Government launched four canteens which will serve subsidised and healthy food to the poor.
i. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar  launched these canteens at Faridabad, Gurugram, Hisar, and Yamunanagar.
ii. These canteens have been set up under the ‘Antyodaya Aahaar Yojana’ aimed at providing healthy, nutritious and hygienic food to poor and needy people of the state.
iii. All poor and needy people in the state can buy a food packet from these canteens at just Rs. 10/-. The food packet weighs 730 gm and offers 1150 calories.
iv. Actual cost of each packet is Rs. 20/-, out of which, Rs 10 would be contributed by the Labour Department.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Important National Park – Sultanpur National Park

Haryana govt implements project to promote micro irrigation
Haryana State Government is implementing a special micro irrigation project in 36 over exploited and critical blocks in 13 districts of the state.
Project to promote micro irrigation in Haryana:
i. Micro irrigation (also referred to as Drip irrigation) is a method under which, water is directly placed at the root zone. This is done by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. This method helps in saving lot of water.
ii. Under this project, Haryana State Government has raised subsidies for mirco irrigation in these districts to 85 per cent and has also removed the cap of five hectares of land.
iii .Besides, a special campaign would be initiated to reach out small and marginal farmers in uncovered villages of these 36 blocks.
iv. This project is being implemented at a cost of Rs 435.23 crore.

Maharashtra to launch cheap sanitary pad scheme, “Asmita Yojana” for rural women
On March 8, 2018 (International Women’s Day), Maharashtra State Government will launch “Asmita Yojana” aimed at providing subsidised sanitary pads to girl student and women in rural areas.Maharashtra to launch cheap sanitary pad scheme, “Asmita Yojana” for rural womenDetails about Maharashtra Government’s “Asmita Yojana”:
i. Under this yojana, girls in Zilla Parishad schools will get a sanitary napkin packet at Rs 5 while rural women can avail it at a subsidised rate of Rs 24 and Rs 29.
ii. “Umed’- the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission will be the nodal agency for implementation of this scheme.
iii. Task of procurement and sale of sanitary pads and counselling the girls and women has been entrusted to Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) while beneficiary girls will be given “Asmita Cards”, for availing subsidised sanitary pads.
Quick Facts about Maharashtra:
♦ Capital – Mumbai
♦ Current Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Current Governor – Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Important National Park – Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Rajasthan to get international educational institution for minorities
Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has stated that an international educational institution for minorities will be built in Rajasthan’s Alwar city.
Details about International Educational Institution for Minorities – Alwar, Rajasthan:
i. The institute in Alwar, will be one of the five such institutes, which the Central Government is planning to set up across India.
ii. The plan for building international educational institution for minorities  was initially prepared in 2016 and an 11-member committee was formed under former bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah to oversee it.
iii. The institute in Alwar will be setup on 100 acres of land. Government is also considering having 40 per cent reservation for girls at these institutes.
Quick Facts about Rajasthan:
♦ Capital – Jaipur
♦ Current Governor – Kalyan Singh
♦ Current Chief Minister – Vasundhra Raje
♦ Important National Park – Ranthambore National Park


J P Nadda addresses Global Digital Health Partnership Summit at Australia
On February 19, 2018, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda addressed Global Digital Health Partnership Summit at Australia.J P Nadda launches Rota virus vaccineGlobal Digital Health Partnership Summit, Australia:
i. The summit was attended by Mr. Greg Hunt – Minister of Health, Australia and delegates from World Health Organisation (WHO) and delegates from several countries including Canada, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom and United States of America
ii. At the Summit, Mr. Nadda spoke on the topic: Making Digital Health Services a Priority in Healthcare Reform.
iii .During his address at the Summit, Mr. Nadda informed that Indian Government has implemented Digital Technology in healthcare in four major areas viz. improving health service delivery, improving compliance of people towards healthcare, improving governance and engaging citizens in partnering with government for planning and management of health services delivery.

Saudi Arabia allows women to start business without male permission
On 5th February 2018, Saudi Arabia government announced that, Saudi Arabian women can start their own businesses without their guardian’s consent; generally the guardian is a male relative.
Saudi Arabia allows women to start business without male permission:
i. This policy change by Saudi Arabia government is seen as a move towards expansion of private sector and women employment.
ii. The ministry of commerce and investment has stated that, women can start their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without getting consent from a guardian.
iii. Generally, the guardian is a male relative – husband, father or brother of the woman. This move is a great deviation from the guardianship system of Saudi Arabia.
About Saudi Arabia:
♦ King – Salman
♦ Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman

Singapore to impose carbon tax from 2019
On February 19, 2018, Singapore Government announced that it would impose a carbon tax from 2019 to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.Singapore to impose carbon tax from 2019Carbon Tax in Singapore:
i. All facilities in all business sectors producing 25000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions a year will be subjected to Carbon Tax.
ii. For the period 2019 – 2023, Carbon Tax will be levied at the rate of  5 Singapore Dollar per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. Post 2023, the tax is likely to be raised and will possibly be in the range of 10 – 15 Singapore Dollar per tonne by 2030.
iii. Levy of Carbon Tax would primarily affect about 30-40 companies, mainly from the petroleum refining, chemicals and semiconductor sectors.
Quick Facts about Singapore:
♦ Capital – Singapore (city-state)
♦ Currency – Singapore Dollar
♦ Current Prime Minister – Lee Hsien Loong


Axis Bank opens offshore banking branch at GIFT City
Axis Bank has announced opening of off-shore banking unit at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), Gandhinagar, Gujarat.axis bankDetails about Axis Bank’s offshore banking branch at GIFT City:
i. Axis Bank’s off-shore banking branch at IFSC was inaugurated by Union Commerce Secretary, Rita Teaotia in presence of Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO, Axis Bank.
ii. Through this offshore banking branch, Axis Bank will be able to offer more products to its clients including trading in foreign currency in overseas markets, raising funds in foreign currency and deposits & borrowings from non-residential sources.
iii. In context of this news, it is important to note that State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, YES Bank, Federal Bank and IndusInd Bank already have their International Business Units (IBUs) at IFSC.
Quick Facts about Axis Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1993
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Current MD & CEO – Shikha Sharma
♦ Tagline – ‘Badhti ka naam zindagi’


Amazon becomes first foreign ecommerce firm to enter food retail venture in India
Amazon has started its own food retailing business in India with a pilot in Pune and has thus become the first foreign ecommerce company to stock and sell food items directly to consumers.Amazoni. Amazon’s food retail business in India will be carried out under the name Amazon Retail India Pvt. Ltd. 
ii. From June 2016, Indian Government allowed 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in food retailing, permitting foreign firms to sell locally sourced and packaged food items directly to consumers.
iii. Post this decision, Amazon secured government’s permission to invest $500 million in this business. However, Amazon has been asked to maintain separate management and offices for food retailing business and keep them distinct from its marketplace business.
Quick Facts about Amazon:
♦ Founded in – 1994
♦ Headquarters – Washington, US
♦ Current Chairman, President and CEO – Jeff Bezos


Vice-Admiral R B Pandit takes over as Commandant of INA
On 19th February 2018, Vice Admiral R B Pandit, Flag-Officer-Commanding, Western Fleet at Mumbai, took charge as the Commandant of Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala in Kannur district, Kerala.Vice-Admiral R B Pandit takes over as Commandant of INAVice-Admiral R B Pandit – Commandant of INA:
i. Vice Admiral R B Pandit succeeds Vice Admiral S V Bhokare. Vice-Admiral Pandit is the sixth Commandant of INA.
ii. He has specialised in Anti Submarine Warfare. He has commanded INS Nirghat, INS Vindhyagiri, INS Jalashwa and the 22nd Missile Vessel Squadron at Mumbai.
iii. Earlier he was the Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India at Islamabad, Pakistan.
iv. He has held positions like ACNS (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) at IHQ MoD (Navy) – Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Navy) and Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command.
About Indian Navy:
♦ Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) – Admiral Sunil Lanba
♦ Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS) – Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar P


Kerala will soon replace humans by deploying robots to clean manholes
Kerala government will soon employ robots to clean sewer holes, instead of involving humans.
Kerala – robots to clean manholes:
i. This robot has been developed by Genrobotics, a startup. The trial runs of this robot was recently conducted in Thiruvananthapuram and it ended up successfully.
ii. Kerala Water Authority (KWA) Managing Director, A Shainamol said that, these robots will be launched next week.
iii. This robot has Wi-Fi, Blue Tooth and control panels. It consists of four limbs and a bucket system connected with an extension that looks like a spider web. This extension scoops out waste from the sewers.
iv. This project is supported by Kerala Water Authority (KWA). This robot service is named ‘Bandicoot’. This service will be launched first in Thiruvananthapuram, which has more than 5,000 manholes.
v. The robot is powered by pneumatics (gas or pressurised air). Commands in the user interface is in English currently. This can be translated to local languages for the scavengers to understand.
vi.Kerala Water Innovation Zone under the KWA has signed an MoU with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) for transfer of technology.
vii. ‘Bandicoot’ will be employed in the ‘Attukal Pongala’ festival that commences on 2nd March 2018 to clean sewer holes.
About GenRobotics:
♦ Founded – 2015
♦ CEO & Chief Product architect – Vimal Govind

ISRO plans to launch India’s 2nd space observatory “AstroSat-2”
In a bid to further the study of astronomy (the study of celestial bodies) and astrophysics, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch India’s second space observatory, AstroSat-2.Isro plans to launch India's 2nd space observatory AstroSat-2i. India’s first space observatory, AstroSat-1 was launched on September 28, 2015. It has been placed at an orbit of 650 km altitude and has a life span of five years.
ii. Having such observatory in outer space helps to observe distant planets, galaxies and other astronomical objects more clearly than from the Earth. Space observatories are not affected by problems of light pollution and distortion of electromagnetic radiation which affects ground-based observatories.
iii. Currently, only US, Japan, Russia, Europe and India have their own space observatories.
iv. ISRO has already invited proposals from specialised institutions for the development of scientific instruments for astronomy payload and mission, so that AstroSat-2 is ready by the time the life span of AstroSat-1 comes to an end.
Quick Facts about ISRO:
♦ Established in – 1969
♦ Headquarters – Bengaluru, Karnataka
♦ Current Chairman – K. Sivan


Roger Federer beats Grigor Dimitrov to win Rotterdam Open title
On 18th February 2018, Roger Federer won his third Rotterdam Open title by defeating Grigor Dimitrov, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Roger Federer wins Rotterdam Open title:
i. Switzerland’s Rogerer Federer defeated Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the finals of the ABN AMRO tournament in Rotterdam and won the Rotterdam Open title for the third time.
ii. This this the 97th title in his overall career. In this count, he is only behind America’s Jimmy Connors who has won 109 titles.
About 2018 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament:
♦ Date – 12 – 18 February 2018
♦ Edition – 45th
♦ Category – ATP World Tour 500
♦ Surface – Hard / indoor
♦ Location – Rotterdam, Netherlands

Bhuvneshwar Kumar first Indian to take a 5-wicket haul in all three formats in international cricket
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a fast bowler, has become the first Indian bowler to take a five-wicket haul in all three formats in international cricket.Bhuvneshwar first Indian to take a 5-wkt haul in all formatsBhuvneshwar Kumar – first Indian to take a 5-wicket haul in all 3 formats:
i. Bhuvneshwar Kumar made this record by taking his first T20I five-wicket haul at the first T20I against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, on 18th February 2018.
ii. India won the match by 28 runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was awarded the man-of-the-match award.
iii. He has also become the second Indian to take a five-wicket haul in T20Is after Yuzvendra Chahal.
About Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI):
♦ President – C K Khanna
♦ CEO – Rahul Johri


French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood passes away
On 18th February 2018, Didier Lockwood, a jazz violinist from France, died due to heart attack, in Paris, France.French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood passes awayDeath of Didier Lockwood:
i. Didier Lockwood was 62 years old. He was a disciple of the late Stephane Grappelli.
ii. He joined a famous French rock band called Magma when he was 17 years old. Later he did a lot of collaborations and experimentations with jazz style.
iii. He was very interested in music education. He founded the Didier Lockwood Music Centre in Paris in 2001, to teach improvisation as per a jazz violin method he had developed.
About Didier Lockwood:
♦ Born – 11 February 1956
♦ Genres – Jazz
♦ Occupation – Musician
♦ Instrument – Violin

Former MLA Jayant Sasane passes away
On 19th February 2018, Jayant Sasane, former MLA, passed away following an illness, in Shrirampur, Maharashtra.
Death of Jayant Sasane:
i. Jayant Sasane was 60 years old. He was former chairman of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST).
ii. He has served as president of the Shrirampur Municipal Council. He was also the sitting president of the Ahmednagar district Congress. He had represented Shrirampur in Maharashtra Assembly on behalf of Congress Party.
About dams in Maharashtra:
♦ Dhom Dam – Krishna River
♦ Gangapur Dam – Godavari River
♦ Hatnur Dam – Tapti River

Telugu actor Gundu Hanumantha Rao passes away
On 19th February 2018, Telugu actor Gundu Hanumantha Rao passed away after suffering from kidney ailments at his residence, in Hyderabad.Telugu actor Gundu Hanumantha Rao passes awayDeath of Gundu Hanumantha Rao:
i. Gundu Hanumantha Rao was 61 years old. He is survived by his son.
ii. He was born on 10th October 1956 in Vijayawada. He has acted in over 400 films.
iii .He started his career with a theatre play called Ravana Brahma. He gained fame through the TV series Amrutam. He has won three Nandi awards.
iv. His important works are Pellaniki Premalekha Priyuraliki Subhalekha, Rajendradu Gajendradu, Mayaloodu, Nenu Seetamahalakshmi, Kedi No 1, Apparao Driving School, Kalyanam and Original.
Some National Parks in Telangana:
♦ Mrugavani National Park
♦ Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park
♦ Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park