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Current Affairs Today – February 23 2017

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Suresh Prabhu unveils Antyodaya rail coaches for unreserved passengers
i. Union  Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had unveiled  the new Antyodaya Express, a fully unreserved train for the common man with specially designed colourful coaches.
ii. The first Antyodaya Express will be plied between Mumbai and Tatanagar, and the second will be between Ernakulam and Howrah shortly.
iii. As stated in the Union budget these Antyodaya was meant for Aam Aadmi (common man) provided in Antyodaya coaches are similar in first class that will have cushioned seats with aluminium composite panels. The fare structure will be between 10 per cent and 15 per cent more than the regular fare.
iv. These modern coaches are provided with bio-toilets for zero discharge of effluents and also have toilet occupation indication lights provided at each end near the doorway with better visibility from compartments, a first in general class.
v. Along with cushioned luggage racks with coat hooks, the train will also have LED lights and enhanced capacity dustbins

Sikkim becomes 22nd State to join UDAY
i. India’s first fully organic state Sikkim has joined the union government’s Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) as 22 nd state , the so called UDAY will in turn hand it an overall benefit of Rs 356 crore.
ii. Upon this decision Sikkim has inked MoU with the union government under the Scheme Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) for operational improvement of the state’s Power Distribution Department.UDAY
iii. The MoU will help in improving operational efficiency of the power distribution and reduction in AT&C and transmission losses to 15 per cent and 3.50 per cent, respectively, is possibly to bring in added revenue of around Rs 328 crore.
♦ Capital: Gangtok
♦ Chief minister: Pawan Kumar Chamling
♦ Governor: Shriniwas Patil 

Maneka Gandhi Announces Compensation Fund For Children
i. Union Women and Child Development Minister Sanjay Maneka Gandhi has unveiled the setting up of a compensation fund under Nirbhaya scheme to make available financial help to children who are victims of sexual crimes.
ii. The money for this fund will be drawn from Nirbhaya Scheme and will be watched directly by the Women and Child Development Ministry and on the total amount of money to be set aside for this scheme is yet to be decided.
iii. In contrary Central Victim Compensation Fund was set up with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore in 2015 but has not been operating.
iv .POCSO Act or Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was formulated in 2012 to address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The POSCO victims are now included in the scheme.

International Ayurvedic Research Institute Planned At Kannur 
i. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to set up Ayurvedic research institute and Kerala Blood Bank society of International standards in Kerala during the 13th five year plan.
ii. Ayurvedic research institute will be set up at the cost of Rs 300 crore at Kannur.
iii. It will be set up jointly by Thiruvananthapuram Citizens India Charitable Trust, Health Department with technical assistance of WHO.

Kerala to launch sex offenders registry, first in the country
i. The Kerala government also plan to launch the country’s first sex offenders registry which will contain all identification details of sex offenders and would be kept in public domain
ii. A comprehensive victim relief fund will be set-up by the state government to provide interim relief for victims of sex crimes, both children and adults.
Kerala :
♦ Ernakulam is India’s first Bachat (Savings) district.
♦ Kochi (Cochin) the major port is also known as “Queen of Arabian Sea”.
♦ Kerala was promoted and called by tourism department as “God’s own Country“

Punjab bans manufacture, sale of gutkha, pan masala for one year
i. Punjab government lead by Parkash Singh Badal has imposed the one year ban on the manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of food products containing tobacco or nicotine like Punjabgutkha and pan masala
ii. The decision has been taken in view of the orders issued by Supreme Court
iii. The ban also applicable to processed, flavoured, scented, chewing tobacco.
Punjab :
♦ Assembly seats – 117 (Unicameral Legislature)
♦ Lok Sabha seats – 13
♦ Rajya sabha seats – 7

India and Japan ink pact on rail safety
Indian Railway Board Chairman A.K.Mittal and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan Vice-Minister Hiroshi Tabata has signed Memorandum of Cooperation on February 21, 2017
i. Aim of the MoU :
To enhance railway safety in the Indian Railways with focus on railway track and rolling stock safety, a press statement said on Tuesday.
ii. Areas of cooperation:
Rail inspection, rail wielding and providing automatic railway track safety inspection, maintenance of rolling stock.
iii. The Delhi – Mumbai and the Delhi – Howrah lines  are will be taken up first for the technology upgrade plan.
Japan :
♦ Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Japanese yen
♦ Prime minister: Shinzō Abe


BRICS summit’s 1st Sherpas Meeting held in China
i. China is hosting the first official BRICS Sherpas Meeting in Nanjing -Jiangsu Province on February 23 and 24 under its chairmanship.
ii. The meeting is focusing on the theme of “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” upon considering the current international situation.
iii. This event will see a participation of 100 people, including Sherpas, diplomatic envoys in China and the New Development Bank representatives.
iv. The Sherpas mechanism, as a main vehicle to coordinate and promote the BRICS cooperation, primarily serves to make political preparations for the BRICS Summit.
v. After the country assumed Sherpas group chairmanship this January, subsequently hostingBRICS this event which will discuss BRICS cooperation in 2017, particularly in the political, economic, and cultural sectors.
♦ BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa
♦ 9th BRICS summit is scheduled to be held in China in 2017


Oriental Bank Ties Up With Chola MS To Sell Insurance Products
i. Haryana based Oriental Bank of Commerce has signed a corporate agency agreement with Chennai based general insurance provider Cholamandalam General Insurance Company for distribution of insurance products on February 22, 2017
ii.The partnership will benefit our customers and through this ties up
iii. The insurance products includes motor, health, home and travel
 Oriental Bank of Commerce :
♦ Headquarters: Haryana
♦ CEO: Animesh Chauhan
♦ Founded: 19 February 1943

India’s GDP projected to slow to 6.6% post-demonetisation, says IMF
i .International Monetary Fund come up with India’s growth projection which predicted slow 6.6 per cent in 2016-17 fiscal due to “temporary disruptions” caused by demonetisation.
ii. The IMF has noted that demonetisation would have only short term impact on the economy and it would bounce back to its expected growth of more than 8% in the next few IMF announces implementation of long due quota reformsyears.
iii. The IMF said in its annual country report on India mentioned that growth is projected to slow to 6.6 per cent in FY2016/17, then rebound to 7.2 per cent in FY2017/18, due to temporary disruptions, primarily to private consumption as a result of cash shortage
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
♦ CEO: Christine Lagarde


Visa-AP Sign MoU To Make Vishakhapatnam ‘Less-Cash’ City
i. The world’s second largest card payment organization Visa has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government to make Vishakhapatnam as India’s first ‘less-cash’ city
ii. Aim :  To provide 500 million underserved with a payment account by 2020
iii. This is the first step to design India’s ‘Fintech Valley’ that will act as a facilitator for information flow. It will provide support to FinTech start-ups by providing access to Visa’s APIs, providing subject matter expertise, and participating in boot camps and hackathons.
iv. It will increase increase customer adoption of electronic payments by 75 per cent to 100 per cent.
Visa :
♦ Visa Inc is an American multinational financial services corporation. It facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, most commonly through Visa-branded credit cards and debit cards
♦ Founder: Dee Hock
♦ Headquarters:California, United States

For the first time in the world, Microsoft to deploy Azure Stack in Andhra Pradesh
i. Technology giant Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu has signed agreement to utilise Microsoft Azure Stack for AP government state data centre at the ‘Microsoft Future Decoded’ held in Mumbai on February 22, 2017Microsoft Azure Stack
ii. For the first time in the world, Microsoft Azure Stack will be used to migrate 340 live applications of AP government from Hyderabad State Data Centre (SDC) to Vizag data centre.
Microsoft Azure Stack :
♦ It consists of three key components includes Data centre – application, server, and the storage – into one physical box and deliver to the client.
♦ It is a cloud software that is binding the entire stack together in one environment.
♦ Microsoft is doing proof of concept (POC) with Government of Andhra Pradesh to prove its capability for the first time.
Background :
According to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, AP has 10 years rights on the data centre but state is gradually planning to move all applications hosted in Hyderabad SDC to Vizag and Vijayawada data centres.

Government notifies protocol amending tax treaty with Israel
i. Centre has notified the protocol amending the India-Israel tax treaty to provide for exchange of information on tax matters including bank details with a view to check black money flows which will come into force effect in India from fiscal year beginning April 1.
ii. The amended treaty will pave provision for sharing information which received from Israel in respect of an Indian resident to other law enforcement agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and CBI with authorization of Competent Authority.
iii. The treaty enforces for levy of capital gains tax in India on sale of shares or interest in a partnership, trust or other entity if it derives more than 50 per cent of the value directly or indirectly from immovable property situated in the country at the time of the sale of any time during preceding 12 months.
Israel :
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel
♦ Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu


Karnataka Bank bags two awards at IBA Banking Technology Awards
i. The commerical banking company Karnataka Bank has won two ‘IBA-Banking Technology’ awards in Mumbai on February 21, 2017
ii. IBA-Banking Technology awards:
1.‘Best financial inclusion initiatives (small bank)’ category – Winner
2.‘Best use of digital and channels technology (small bank)’ – Runner
iii. The award recognises and rewards individuals, professionals and banks who have recorded noteworthy technology and business benefits in 2016
iv. Mahabaleshwara MS, Chief General Manager of the bank, and Raghavendra Bhat M,
General Manager of the bank, received the awards from Viral V Acharya, Deputy Governor of Karnataka Bank bags two awards at IBA Banking Technology AwardsReserve Bank of India, and Raghunath Mashelkar, Jury Chairman for the awards, respectively.
Karnataka Bank :
♦ Headquarters: Mangalore
♦ CEO: Polali Jayarama Bhat
♦ Founded: 1924
♦ Motto: Your family bank. Across India


Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre to head Cauvery Tribunal
i. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre has been appointed as the chairman of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) on February 22, 2017.
ii. Manohar is the succeedor of Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan. He was nominated by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar.
iii. Prior to this, he has served as chief justice of Gauhati High Court and the High Court of Manipur. He also served as judge at Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan High Courts.
iv. He was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court and assumed charge on August 13, 2014. He is due to retire on August 27, 2019.

U.K. named Cressida Dick as first woman to lead Scotland Yard
i. Cressida Dick(56) was appointed as the new commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police. With this, she become the first woman to lead Scotland Yard in 188 year UK history.
ii. Dick replace Bernard Hogan-Howe, who is stepping down from the position previous week.U.K. named Cressida Dick as first woman to lead Scotland Yard
iii. She left the police force in 2015 to work at the foreign office, led the security operation for the 2012 London Olympics and was highly regarded by many Scotland Yard peers.
United Kingdom :
♦ Capital: London
♦ Currency: Pound sterling
♦ Prime minister: Theresa May


Bharti Airtel To Acquire Telenor India
i. India’s largest domestic telecom operator Bharti Airtel has signed an agreement with Telenor South Asia Investments to acquire Telenor India Communications.
ii. The amount of the deal is not yet finalised. Telenor’s operations and services will continue as normal, until the transaction is completed. The transaction is expected to complete within a year.
iii. According to the agreement, Airtel will take over Telenor India’s spectrum, licences and operations, including its employees and customer base of 44 million.
iv. It will give it an access to 7 circles including Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP East and UP West
♦ Telenor India, formerly known as Uninor, was an Indian mobile network operator based in Gurgaon, Haryana
♦ CEO: Sharad Mehrotra
♦ Headquarters: Gurgaon


CBEC launches mobile app for GST
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has launched a mobile application for Goods and Services Tax (GST) to inform the taxpayers of the latest updates on GST among others
♦ Taxpayers can also provide feedback and contact CBEC’s 24×7 helpdesk “CBEC Mitra” through a toll-free number or email, at the touch of a button
GST app will provide the information like
i. Migration to GST-Approach and guidelines for migration
ii. Draft Law-Model GST Law, IGST Law and GST Compensation Law
iii. Draft Rules-Rules related to Registration, Returns, Payment, Refund and Invoice
iv. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on GST
v. Various resources on GST such a videos, articles etc.
vi. Related Website Links and Helpdesk/Email Contact

Nasa finds 60000-year-old living microbes in Mexico’s Naica mine
i. The NASA scientists have accidently made finding of living microorganisms stuck inside crystals for as long as 60,000 years in a Naica mine, a working lead, zinc and silver mine in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
ii. These microbes about 100 different kinds of microorganisms — most of them bacteria — have been found locked in Naica crystals for periods ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 years have apparently evolved so they can survive on a diet of sulfite, manganese and copper oxide.
iii. This findings will throw some light on effects on how we try to understand the evolutionary history of microbial life on this planet.


Astronomers discover 7 new Earth-sized exoplanets that may sustain life
i. Astronomers have spotted at least seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the same star 40 light-years away from the sun with similar size to earth.
Astronomers discover 7 new Earth-sized exoplanets that may sustain lifeii. This discovery of our solar system have low temperate, meaning they could have water on their surfaces and potentially support life.
iii. The seven exoplanets were spotted around dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. The findings helps that their mass also indicate that they are rocky planets, rather than being gaseous like Jupiter.
iv. Of these seven planets, three of them are in the fit for human habitation of the star, known as TRAPPIST-1e, f and g, and may even have oceans on the surface.


South African High Court Rejects ICC Withdrawal
i. In a blow to South African Communist Party led by Jacob Zuma administration South Africa’s High Court obstructed the government’s attempt to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
ii. The country high court judge ruled the government to withdraw its notice of withdrawal from the ICC based in The Hague, Netherlands.
iii. Though the country signaled for withdrawal from Hague-based tribunal last October also it informed UN Chief about it intend, UN rebutted to reconsider the decision.
iv. The South Africa is court observed that the government has not passed the process through its parliament, this likely to hold the process for some time now.
South Africa :
♦ Capitals: Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein
♦ Currency: South African rand
♦ President: Jacob Zuma

Mithali, Harmanpreet in top-10 of ICC rankings
i. After nail biting World Cup qualifier match Indian Women Captain added another feather by claiming no 2 position in the ICC batswomen’s rankings. The top batter Harmanpreet Kaur was placed in the tenth spot after clinical performance in the recent past.
ii. The rankings is topped by Meg Lanning of Australia with with 804 points while Raj with 733 points and Harmanpreet is 574 in the list.
iii. In the Bowling chart Jhulan Goswami, placed at the third behind Marizanne Kapp of South Africa and Stefanie Taylor of West Indies. The all-rounder’s list featured with only in top 10 as Jhulan is at seventh spot.


Nobel-Winning Economist Kenneth J. Arrow Dies At 95
i. Nobel-winning economist, mathematician Kenneth J Arrow has died in USA on February 23, 2017 . He was 95.
Kenneth J. Arrowii. Kenneth  received the Nobel memorial prize in economic science for their pioneering mathematical work on general equilibrium theory in 1972 
iii. He spent most of his career at Stanford University and Harvard University. He also was known as a mentor. Five of his former students went on to become Nobel winners.
iv. Arrow came to prominence in 1951 with a book, “Social Choice and Individual Values,” which used mathematical logic to discuss collective decision-making.