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Current Affairs Today February 20 2018

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Cabinet Approvals on February 20 2018
On February 20, 2018, Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved following initiatives and bilateral agreements.
i. Union Cabinet has given approval for creation of Rs. 60000 crore – National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) under Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC).
ii. Cabinet approves Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarkhand
iii. Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to set up tribunal for adjudication of dispute on Mahanadi River Waters.
iv. Cabinet approves Six Laning of Nidagatta – Mysuru Section of NH-275 in Karnataka
v. Cabinet approves setting up of bus bay near Indian Defence University land in Gurugram
vi. Cabinet approves India-Morocco Cooperation Agreement in Railway Sector
vii. Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Israel on Film Co-production………………………Click here to Read more

Telangana govt appoints task force on urban mobility
On February 19, 2018, Telangana State Government constituted a task force on urban mobility to study the feasibility of the monorail model and other modes of transport for the IT corridor in Hyderabad.
i. Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration is the Member Convenor of this task force.
ii. Other members of the task force include senior government officials and representatives from the corporate sector.
iii. The task force will suggest the corridors for phase II and phase III of the metro-rail project. It will suggest best and most economical ways of transport viz. monorail, tram and e-vehicles on various routes.
iv. Besides, the task force will recommend various options for funding such projects. The options may include public-private partnership (PPP), joint ventures and annuity funding.
Quick Facts about Telangana:
♦ Capital – Hyderabad
♦ Current Governor – E.S.L. Narasimhan
♦ Current Chief Minister – K. Chandrashekar Rao
♦ Important National Park – Mrugavani National Park

Delhi govt launches ‘Mission Buniyaad’ to improve learning skills of students
In April 2018, Delhi government will implement ‘Mission Buniyaad’ to improve learning levels of students attending primary classes in the state government and municipal schools.Delhi govt launches 'Mission Buniyaad' to improve learning skills of studentsDetails about Delhi Govt’s ‘Mission Buniyaad’:
i. Announcement in this regard was made by Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia.
ii. ’Mission Buniyaad’, which is to be implemented from next academic session will focus on students of Class 3 to Class 8.
iii. This programme has been planned in wake of results of National Achievement Survey (NAS) conducted by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), to find out the learning standards of schoolchildren.
iv. As per findings of NAS, majority of Class 3 to 5 students in government and aided schools of Delhi, performed poorly in science, mathematics and languages.
v. ’Mission Buniyaad’ will run for three months from April to June, during which, students will be assessed on reading abilities and basic mathematics.
vi. Based on the assessment, students will be divided into groups for focused teaching. Students who perform up to mark will be placed in ‘Ujjawal’ group, those who score medium-level marks will be placed in ‘Utkarsh’ group while those who are behind their peers will be placed in ‘Udyam’ group.

Parliament House to have crèche facility for children of employees
The parliament house will launch a crèche facility soon for women employees who prefer to bring their kids to the day care facility.
Parliament House to have creche facility for children of employees:
i. In March 2017, Minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi had notified Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan about the absence of crèche facility in the parliament house premises.
ii. In response, Sumitra Mahajan has stated that a crèche facility will be soon launched in the parliament house premises.
iii. As per ‘Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017’ a healthy workplace diversity needs to be maintained. This enforces the provision of crèche facility for women employees.
iv. The crèche facility will be launched in the 1500 square feet premises. It will be run by professionals. It will have separate feeding room for lactating mothers and will take care of the all-round development of children.
About Lok Sabha:
♦ Speaker – Sumitra Mahajan
♦ Leader of the House – Narendra Modi

UP unveils new tourism policy, woos investors with sops
On 19th February 2018, Uttar Pradesh government announced a new tourism policy aimed to raise tourist count and investment in Uttar Pradesh.
UP unveils new tourism policy:
i. Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the UP government has aimed to encourage at least four to five persons from the 6.5 lakh Indian villages to participate in the Kumbh Mela 2019 at Allahabad.
ii. The Department of Tourism aims for 10 % annual increase in the number of foreign tourists and 15 % annual increase in the number of domestic tourists.
iii. Uttar Pradesh government has grant tourism the status of an industry. Benefits provided by the government under the new tourism policy, for investments within 20 km radius of tourist sites in the 10 tourist circuits of Uttar Pradesh has been announced.
iv. The 10 tourist circuits are the Ramayana circuit, the Braj circuit, the Buddhist circuit, wildlife and eco-tourism circuit, Bundelkhand circuit, Mahabharata circuit, Shakti Peeth circuit, Adhyatmik circuit, Sufi circuit and the Jain circuit.
v. Under the new tourism policy, a “Bed and Breakfast” scheme has been launched. This scheme includes Ashrams also.
vi. Uttar Pradesh government offers 10 % subsidy on sports and cruise, 20 % on tentage facilities, 20 % on small budget hotels, 15 % on new resorts and 15 % on wellness centres and 25 % on light and sound and laser shows.
vii. Rs 70 crore has been allocated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for this in the first phase. Also a total of Rs 1,000 crore has been assured in phased manner.
viii. A pathway would be constructed for tourists to reduce the distance between the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The number of tourist police has been increased from the current 150 to 650.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh:
♦ Mahavir Swami Sanctuary
♦ Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary
♦ Ranipur Wildlife Sanctuary

R.K. Singh inaugurates ‘International R&D Conclave’ in New Delhi
On 20th February 2018, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh inaugurated the ‘International R&D Conclave’ in New Delhi.R.K. Singh inaugurates ‘International R&D Conclave’ in New DelhiInternational R&D Conclave:
i. The International R&D Conclave is a two day conference. It is organised by Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
ii. It focuses on Emerging Opportunities and Challenges of R&D in Indian Power Sector. Sessions of the conference will be mainly related to R&D activities in Thermal Generation, Hydro Generation, Renewable Energy, Transmission, Grid Operation, Distribution, Trading, Marketing and Tariff.
iii. Nearly 100 entries for paper presentation were received. Out of this 45 papers have been selected to be presented in the Conference. Papers from Germany and Japan are also included in this list.
About Central Electricity Authority (CEA):
♦ Chairperson – Ravindra Kumar Verma
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

Centre constitutes committee to study Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam
The Central Government has formed a committee lead by Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, to study the Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam and nearby states.
Committee to study Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam:
i. Announcement regarding this was made by Assam Water Resource Minister Keshab Mahanta.
ii. He said that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced 100 crore rupees to figure out permanent solution for flood, during his visit to Guwahati in 2017.
iii. He said that the Assam government has submitted report on flood control measures to the committee. He added that, work to repair the damaged river embankment due to flood is done by the Water Resource department.
About NITI Aayog:
♦ Chairperson – Narendra Modi
♦ Vice Chairperson – Dr. Rajiv Kumar
♦ Chief Executive Officer – Amitabh Kant


Newborn mortality -India 12th worst among 52 low-income nations
According to a report by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India has ranked 12th among 52 lower middle-income countries in terms of neonatal mortality rate.
iNeonatal Mortality Rate in India is 25.4/1000 live births. With nearly 640000 newborn deaths each year, India accounts for a quarter of the global burden of neonatal deaths of 2.6 million babies.
ii. 57% of neonatal deaths in India occur in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. As these states account for 46% of all births, it can be inferred that States with the highest birth rates have higher newborn deaths……………………….Click here to Read more

India, Indonesia joint military drill “Garuda Shakti” begins in Bandung
On February 19, 2018, Indian and Indonesian armies began the sixth edition of ‘Garuda Shakti’ military drill in Bandung, the capital of West Java province of Indonesia.India, Indonesia joint military drill Garuda Shakti begins in BandungDetails about sixth edition of ‘Garuda Shakti’:
i. This joint exercise between Indian and Indonesian Special Forces will continue till March 4, 2018.
ii. Objective of Garuda Shakti exercise is to strengthen relations between the two Armies of India and Indonesia and to enhance their ability to undertake joint tactical level operations.
iii. During the course of this exercise, Indian and Indonesian Special Forces will engage in counter-terrorism operations, close quarter combat, experience sharing and other areas of special operations.
Quick Facts about Indonesia:
♦ Capital – Jakarta
♦ Currency – Indonesian rupiah
♦ Current President – Joko Widodo
♦ Important Rivers – Citarum, Mahakam

UK, India launch joint research projects on clean water & energy
On 19th February 2018, UK-India joint research projects on ‘Water Quality Research’ and ‘Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment’ were launched.
UK, India launch joint research projects:
i. The projects were launched by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Saraswat, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma and Research Councils UK- India Director Daniel Shah.
ii. The Water Quality Research programme consists of 8 projects and Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment programme consists of 4 projects. The total joint investment for these projects is up to £15 million.
iii. These projects provide benefits and research solutions to both UK and India. They also work towards shared global sustainable development goals of clean water and clean energy.
iv. Also, dossier stating India’s efforts in Building Energy Efficiency with details on 30 projects was released.
About Natural Environment Research Council (NERC):
♦ Formed – 1965
♦ Chief Executive – Professor Duncan Wingham

USIBC forms India Advisory Council to enhance bilateral ties
US India Business Council (USIBC), a business advocacy organisation has announced the formation of an India Advisory Council to enhance bilateral strategic and economic partnership between India and US.USIBC forms India Advisory Council to enhance bilateral tiesMore Information about India Advisory Council formed by USIBC:
i. India Advisory Council has 11 members including Arun Kumar – Chairman and CEO of KPMG India, Pramath Raj Sinha –  Founder and Managing Director of 9.9 media, Krish Iyer from Walmart India, Manoj Adlakha from American Express banking Corporation, Vanitha Narayan from IBM India, Nishith Desai from Nishith Desai and Associates and Prabal Chakraborty from Boston Scientific.
ii. Udayant Malhotra from Dynamatic Technologies Limited, Rekha Menon from Accenture and Nivruti Rai – Head of Intel India are other members of the India Advisory Council.
Quick Facts about USIBC:
♦ Formed in – 1975
♦ Headquarters – Washington D.C, US
♦ Current Chairman – Nisha Desai Biswal

“Cobra Gold 2018” Military Exercise held in Thailand
On 13th to 23rd February 2018, Cobra Gold 2018 an international military exercise, is held in Thailand.
Cobra Gold 2018:
i. The opening ceremony of the “Cobra Gold 2018” was presided over by Royal Thai Armed Forces, Gen. Thanchaiyan Srisuwan, Mr. Glyn T. Davies, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, and Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander, III Marine Expeditionary Force, at the Royal Thai Naval Aviation Division, U-Tapao International Airport, in Chonburi province.
ii. This is the 37th edition of the Cobra Gold exercise. It is co-sponsored by the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces.
iii. Cobra Gold 2018 has full participation from: Thailand, United States of America, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
iv. Cobra Gold 2018 will focus on: a Command Post Exercise (CPX), Field Training Exercise (FTX), and Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) exercise.
v. Its objective is to improve regional security, maritime security and interoperability between participating countries.
About Ministry of Defence, India:
♦ Minister of Defence – Nirmala Sitharaman
♦ Minister of State for Defence – Dr. Subhash Ramrao Bhamre

Pakistan approves Mandarin as one of its three official languages
On 19th February 2018, the Pakistani Senate declared Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan.
Pakistan approves Mandarin as one of its three official languages:
i. This move has been made to improve ties between Pakistan and China. It is said that, the people related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor could communicate easily by making Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan.
ii. In recent times, Pakistanis are showing more interest in learning Mandarin, expecting to grab job opportunities easily in Pakistan and China.
About Pakistan:
♦ President – Mamnoon Hussain
♦ Prime Minister – Shahid Khaqan Abbasi


Israel successfully tests Arrow-3 advanced missile defence system
On 19th February 2018, Israel announced that is has successfully tested Arrow-3 advanced missile defence system.Israel successfully tests Arrow-3 advanced missile defence systemArrow-3:
i. Arrow-3 is an advanced missile defence system having the ability to defend against ballistic missile threats outside the atmosphere.
ii. Arrow-3 is a part of Israel’s multi-layered system that is being developed to defend against short and mid-range rockets fired from Gaza Strip, Lebanon and long-range missiles from Iran. Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow-2 systems are a part of it.
iii. It has been developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing. It started operations in January 2017.
About Boeing:
♦ Headquarters – Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
♦ CEO – Dennis Muilenburg

India successfully test fires medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile
On 20th February 2018, India successfully test-fired medium range nuclear capable Agni-II Missile from Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha.
Agni-II missile:
i. Agni-II missile has a strike range of 2,000km. It is an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).
ii. Trial of Agni-II missile was conducted from a mobile launcher at the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
iii. The tests were conducted by Army’s strategic forces command (SFC). Logistic support was provided by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
iv. Agni-II missile is 20 metre long. It has a launch weight of 17 tonnes. It is capable of carrying a payload of 1,000kg up to a distance of 2,000km.
v. Agni-II has already been inducted into the services. It was launched as a training exercise.
vi. Agni-II is a two-stage missile. It features an advanced high accuracy navigation system. It is guided by a unique command and control system. It is propelled by solid rocket propellant system.
vii. The complete trajectory of its launch was tracked by radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and two naval ships in the Bay of Bengal.
viii. Agni-II was developed by the advanced systems laboratory jointly with other DRDO laboratories. It was integrated by the Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.
About Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL):
♦ CMD – V. Udaya Bhaskar
♦ Headquarters – Hyderabad


Christian Coleman smashes 20-year-old 60m sprint indoor world record
On 18th February 2018, Christian Coleman of US broke the 20 year old world record in 60 metre sprint with 6.34 seconds timing, at the US Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque.Christian Coleman smashes 20-year-old 60m sprint indoor world recordChristian Coleman – new world record:
i. Christian Coleman has broken American Maurice Greene’s record of 6.39 seconds, made in Madrid in 1998. Christian Coleman is 21 years old.
ii. Now, Christian Coleman will lead the American team to IAAF world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, that will be conducted next month.
About International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF):
♦ Headquarters – Monaco
♦ President – Sebastian Coe


India to host World Environment Day 2018 celebrations with ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ theme
On February 19, 2018, Union Minister of Environment, Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced that this year’s World Environment Day celebrations (on June 5, 2018) will be hosted by India.India to host World Environment Day (WED), 2018: 
i. On February 19, 2018, Union Environment Secretary C K Mishra signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ to host the WED in India in presence of Erik Solheim, the head of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
ii. This year’s theme of WED will be ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ aimed at discouraging use of hazardous plastic.
iii. As a run up to the event, environmental awareness campaign and pollution mitigation activities are being planned in Delhi and other parts of India from 1st – 5th June 2018.
iv. Every year, a different country hosts the global celebration of the WED. India previously hosted WED global celebration in 2011.

World Day of Social Justice – February 20
On 20th February 2018, World Day of Social Justice was observed all over the world.World Day of Social Justice - February 20World Day of Social Justice:
i. On 26th November 2007, the UN General Assembly declared 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. The World Day of Social Justice is an annual observance.
ii. This day is celebrated to improve efforts to manage issues like poverty, exclusion and unemployment.
iii. The theme for World Day of Social Justice 2018 is: Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice.
About International Labour Organization (ILO):
♦ Formed – 1919
♦ Director-General – Mr. Guy Ryders