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Current Affairs Today February 23 2018

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Guwahati organises tribal festival ‘Aadi Mahotsava’
On 23rd February 2018, ‘Aadi Mahotsava’, a tribal festival organized by Assam, began at Gandhi Mandir Indoor stadium, in Guwahati, Assam.
Aadi Mahotsava:
i. The ‘Aadi Mahotsava’ is held for 10 days. It was inaugurated by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
ii. It is conducted by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India jointly with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
iii. ‘Aadi Mahotsava’ celebrates the art and culture of tribal communities. Local artisans from 20 cities like Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Manipur, Assam, etc. participate in this festival.
iv. The artisans display handcrafted artifacts and products. Ethnic tribal cuisines, handcrafted shawls and handlooms like Mekhelas, chador and Naga waistcoats are also displayed in the festival.
About Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED):
♦ Formed – 1987
♦ Head Office – New Delhi

India-German MOU on Sustainable Urban Development programme & Smart Cities
On 23rd February 2018, an Indo-German MoU was signed for “Implementation Agreement in Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities in India”.Indo-German MoU:
i. The MoU was signed between Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), India and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, India on behalf of Germany Government.
ii. The agreement was signed by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Ms. Annette Röckel, Deputy Country Director and Ms. Tanja Feldmann, Cluster Coordinator, Sustainable Urban and Industrial Development GIZ GmbH India.
iii. The ‘Sustainable Urban Development Programme – Smart Cities in India’ project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
iv. It will be jointly implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban AffairsIndia and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
v. The project will promote sustainable urban development under the national urban programmes like Smart Cities Mission, with the Sustainable Development Goal No. 11 ‘Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.
vi. Germany contributes up to 8 million EUR for the project.  The project will be carried out for 3 years: form 2018 to December 2020.
vii. The project’s main focus is integrated planning approaches for the three Smart Cities, development of local innovations and pilot approaches to provide affordable housing and basic services in the three cities.
About Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA):
♦ Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Urban Development – Hardeep Singh Puri
♦ Secretary (Housing and Urban Affairs) – Durga Shanker Mishra

Telangana government aims to double valuation of life sciences sector to $100 billion in 10 years
Telangana Industry Minister K. T. Rama Rao said that, the Telangana government aims to double the valuation of its life sciences ecosystem to $100 billion in 10 years.
Telangana government aims to double valuation of life sciences sector:
i. K. T. Rama Rao made this announcement after he inaugurated the 15th BioAsia Summit. He said that 4 lakh jobs will be created in the life sciences industry in the next 10 years.
ii. Current value of life sciences ecosystem in Telangana is $50 billion. It has more than 800 companies.
iii. K. T. Rama Rao also said that, Telangana contributes more than 35% to the national pharmaceutical production of India.
iv. Telangana is also considered the vaccine hub of India and the world. It produces nearly 33 % of global vaccines dosages.
v. He said that, the Genome Valley cluster is to be expanded. He said that, Genome Valley 2.0 will be initiated soon.
vi. Also an incubator focused on vaccine development has been planned in Genome Valley to develop at least one vaccine every year in Telangana.
vii. He said that, Hyderabad pharma City project will be launched in few months after obtaining environmental clearance.
viii. At the event, Genome Valley Excellence Award was presented to Professor Michael N. Hall from Biozentrum University of Basel, Switzerland for discovery of nutrient-activated TOR (Target of Rapamycin) proteins and their function in the metabolic control of cell growth.
Some dams in Telangana:
♦ Sriram Sagar Project – Godavari River
♦ Singur Dam – Godavari River
♦ Nizam Sagar – Godavari River

Khajuraho dance festival organised in Madhya Pradesh
On 20th February 2018, the Khajuraho dance festival started off in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.Khajuraho dance festival organised in Madhya PradeshKhajuraho dance festival:
i. Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel lit the traditional lamp and inaugurated the 44th Khajuraho dance festival. This festival will be held till 26th February 2018.
ii. This festival is organised by the culture department of the Madhya Pradesh government. It will fetaure classical dances like Kathak, Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Mohiniattam.
iii. The Art Mart will display paintings of international artists from Germany, France and China at the festival.
iv. Dance performances are conducted in an open-air auditorium, mostly in front of the Chitragupta Temple and the Vishwanatha Temple.
Some stadiums in Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Nehru Stadium – Indore
♦ Holkar Stadium – Indore
♦ Captain Roop Singh Stadium – Gwalior

Centre sets up committee on medicinal and aromatic plants for NE
Central Government has set up an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on medicinal and aromatic plants for the north-east (NE) to suggest actionable measures to generate more livelihood opportunities in the region.
Details about Committee on Medicinal and Aromatic plants for NE:
i. Representatives from various ministries, Government departments and several organisations related to medicinal and aromatic plants will be the members of this committee.
ii. Mandate of the committee is to identify gaps in the existing mechanism/institutional arrangements and suggest a policy intervention for optimally harnessing the medicinal and aromatic plants of the north-eastern region.
iii. The suggestions would include ways for accelerating the development of the sector and an action plan for synergising schemes and programmes of the ministries and departments concerned.
iv. First meeting of this committee is scheduled to be held on March 12, 2018. This meeting will be co-chaired by the secretaries of the Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).

Government Cancels Plan to Produce 114 Single-engine Fighters under ‘Make in India’ Programme
Central Government has cancelled plan to produce 114 Single-engine Fighters with foreign collaboration under the “Make in India” framework.
Cancellation of Plan to Produce 114 Single-engine Fighters:
i. The plan has been cancelled in wake of political conflict between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress over 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets.
ii. The point of contention in the original plan was the restriction on only single-engine fighters, which limited the competition to just two jets (American F-16 and Swedish Gripen-E).
iii. Thus, Union Defence Ministry has directed Indian Air Force to come up with a new proposal that will take both, single and twin-engine fighters into account.
iv. Defence Ministry believes that taking both, single and twin-engine fighters into account in the new plan will increase the contenders and avoid needless allegations.


First sale of electoral bonds via SBI to begin from March 1
On February 22, 2018, Union Finance Ministry announced that the first sale of electoral bonds will start from March 1, 2018 for a period of 10 days at select branches of State Bank of India (SBI).
i. The bonds will be available in multiples of Rs.1000, Rs. 10000, Rs. 10 lakh, Rs. 1 crore. These bonds would be valid for 15 days from the date of issue.
ii. Electoral Bonds can be purchased from four main branches of State Bank of India in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, starting from March 1, 2018 for a period of 10 days…………………………………….Click here to Read more

Paytm sets up life, general insurance units
On February 21, 2018, One 97 communications, the parent company of Paytm, created Paytm Life Insurance Corporation Ltd. and Paytm General Insurance Corporation Ltd. Paytm becomes India's first payments app to cross 100 million downloads on Google Play StoreInformation about 2 Insurance entities of Paytm:
i. Paytm Life Insurance Corporation Ltd and Paytm General Insurance Corporation Ltd, both have a share capital Rs 1000000 each.
ii. Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and One 97 Communications are holding majority shares in both the entities.
iii. In context of this news, it is important to note that Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India had granted a corporate agency license to One 97 Communications in September 2017.
Quick Facts about Paytm:
♦ Founded in – 2010
♦ Headquarters – Noida, Uttar Pradesh

Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank begins operations
Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Limited commenced operations as a payments bank with effect from February 22, 2018.
About Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank:
i. Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd. is a 51:49 joint venture (JV) between Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. (ABNL) and telecom operator Idea Cellular.
ii. In April 2017, it had received a final licence from Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for carrying out the business of payments bank in India.
iii. In November 2016, Airtel Payments Bank Ltd became the first entity to start operations as Payments Bank. Paytm and Fino Payments Bank are the other two entities that have already launched their operations. India Post Payments Bank is expected to start nationwide operations from April 2018.
Facts about Payments Bank:
♦ Objective – To further Financial Inclusion
♦ Concept of Payments Bank was recommended by Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households, set up by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This committee was headed by Nachiket Mor.
♦ Payments Bank is currently permitted to accept demand deposits up to Rs. 100000/- per customer. It is not allowed to give loans.


India, Uzbek region ink pharma pact
Andijan Region of Uzbekistan and Indian Government have inked an agreement for cooperation in the pharmaceutical industryIndia, Uzbek region ink pharma pactAbout India-Uzbek Pharma Pact:
i. This pact envisages cooperation in the implementation of a program for the production of pharmaceutical, bio-pharmaceutical products and medical equipment in the Andijan region of Uzbekistan.
ii. India and Uzbekistan will work together for attracting direct investments of Indian companies and Uzbek investors to create modern production facilities for the production of pharmaceutical products and medicines with high value.
iii. These efforts will be geared towards creating an Uzbek-Indian free pharmaceutical zone in the Andijan region.
Quick Facts about Uzbekistan:
♦ Capital – Tashkent
♦ Currency – Uzbekistani so’m
♦ Current President – Shavkat Mirziyoyev
♦ Neighbouring Countries – Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Mahindra Aerospace, Canada’s Viking Air sign MoU to manufacture small aircraft
Mahindra Aerospace and Canada’s Viking Air have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to form a strategic alliance for making smaller aircraft to support regional air connectivity in India.
Details about Mahindra Aerospace – Canada’s Viking Air MoU:
i. This MoU was signed during the ongoing India visit of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to India.
ii. As per the terms of this MoU, both the companies will work together to boost market penetration in identified territories and provide multiple options to prospective customers based on specific operational requirements.
iii. Viking Air produces the a 19-passenger, the Twin Otter Series 400 turboprop aircraft that is capable of operating from multiple surfaces (including water).
iv. Mahindra Aerospace currently produces Mahindra Airvan 8, the 8-seat utility piston aircraft and Mahindra Airvan 10, the 10-seat turboprop utility aircraft.
Quick Facts about Viking Air:
♦ Founded in – 1970
♦ Headquarters – British Columbia, Canada


Deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce resigns
On 23rd February 2018, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced that, he will resign as leader of the National party and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.Deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce resignsResignation of Barnaby Joyce:
i. Barnaby Joyce  has announced his resignation after facing weeks of pressure due to an allegation of extra-marital affair with his former media secretary Vikki Campion.
ii. On 26th February 2018, Barnaby Joyce will step down as leader of the National party and deputy Prime Minister of Australia. He will remain in the parliament, helping to maintain the one-seat majority of the ruling government.
iii. Barnaby Joyce has been married for 24 years. He has been alleged over an affair with his former media secretary, who is carrying his child.
iv. The National Party will elect a new leader, who will also be made the deputy prime minister of Australia.
About National Party of Australia:
♦ Federal President – Larry Anthony
♦ Federal Director – Ben Hindmarsh


Federal Bank acquires 26% stake in Equirus Capital
On February 22, 2018, Kochi-based Federal Bank announced its foray into investment banking by acquiring a minority 26 per cent stake in Equirus Capital. 
i. Equirus Capital was founded in 2007. It is an unlisted investment banking firm having presence in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
ii. This acquisition will enable Federal Bank to offer a range of products to wholesale clients. The additional products may include comprehensive financial solutions for debt and equity capital markets, capital market products, structured finance and advisory.
iii. It is to be noted that Federal Bank has a huge NRI customer base. Through Equirus Capital, Federal Bank will be able to offer wealth management services to its NRI customer base as well as other high networth individual (HNI) . 
iv. Through these offerings, Federal Bank will be able to increase its fee based earnings (non-interest earnings).
Quick Facts about Federal Bank:
♦ Founded in – 1931
♦ Headquarters – Kochi, Kerala
♦ Current MD & CEO – Shyam Srinivasan
♦ Tagline – ‘Your Perfect Banking Partner’


Indian Navy successfully test fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile ‘Dhanush’
On February 23, 2018, Indian Navy successfully test-fired nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile ‘Dhanush’ from a naval warship positioned in the Bay of Bengal.Nuclear-capable Dhanush missile successfully test firedImportant Information about ‘Dhanush’ Missile:
i. Dhanush is an indigenously developed naval version of the ‘Prithvi’ short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
ii. It has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under its ambitious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
iii. Dhanush Missile has strike range of up to 350 km and can hit land-based as well as sea-based targets.
iv. It can carry conventional or nuclear warhead up to 500 kg.
v. Dhanush Missile is about 8.53 metres in length and 0.9 metre in diameter. Its launch weight about 4.4 tonnes.
vi. Test conducted on February 23, 2018, met all the parameters as expected.

Supercritical CO2-Brayton Cycle facility opened at IISc
On 22nd February 2018, a supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle test loop facility was inaugurated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
Supercritical CO2-Brayton Cycle facility opened at IISc:
i. The facility was inaugurated by Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan.
ii. It is claimed to be India’s first supercritical-CO2 Brayton cycle test bed and also the first ever to be coupled with a solar heat source.
iii. Supercritical carbon dioxide-based power generation provides an efficient alternative to the existing steam-based power plants.
iv. This laboratory scale test loop was developed by a group of researchers at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research, IISc.
v. This project is a part of Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States. It was funded by the Department of Science and Technology, India.
About Indian Institute of Science (IISc):
♦ Director – Anurag Kumar
♦ Location – Bengaluru, Karnataka


Cricket Canada announces ICC-approved T20 league “Global T20 Canada”
On 22nd February 2018, Canada’s own first franchise-based Twenty20 league “Global T20 Canada”, was announced in New Delhi.
Global T20 Canada League:
i. The Global T20 Canada League will begin functioning from July 2018 at three venues in Toronto.
ii. Global T20 Canada League is conceptualised, designed, developed and managed by Mercuri Group with Cricket Canada. Cricket Canada is the official governing body for cricket in Canada.
iii. Global T20 Canada League has received official sanction of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
iv. Cricket Canada has become the first Associate member of the ICC to start a Twenty20 franchise league in the North America market.
About Cricket Canada:
♦ President – Mr Ranjit Saini
♦ Established – 1892


Former Indore mayor and Senior Congress leader Suresh Seth passes away
On 22nd February 2018, Suresh Seth, senior Congress leader and former Indore Mayor, died after suffering from age-related health issues, at a hospital in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Death of Suresh Seth:
i. Suresh Seth was 87 years old. He was also called as the ‘Lion of Indore’ or ‘Sher-e-Indore’.
ii. He fought for people’s issues aggressively and worked for the benefits of common man. He had also served as minister for urban administration in Madhya Pradesh.
iii. When he was mayor of Indore, he played a key role in changing street lanterns to tube lights. He had to face a lot of quarrels with his party to implement this.
Some National Parks in Madhya Pradesh:
♦ Madhav National Park
♦ Ghughua Fossil Park
♦ Bandhavgarh National Park

106-year-old Swachch Bharat brand ambassador Kunwar Bai passes away
On 23rd February 2018, Kunwar Bai, Chattisgarh’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mascot, passed away after suffering from a long time illness, at Ambedkar Hospital, Raipur.
Death of Kunwar Bai:
i. Kunwar Bai was 106 years old. She was felicitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her work to make her village open defecation free in 2016.
ii. Kunwarbai had sold her goats for Rs 22,000 and built a toilet at her home with that money, after she was inspired by Swachch Bharat mission.
iii .Kunwarbai was made Swachhta Doot by Chattisgarh state government. She had been spreading awareness on the importance of toilet among the village people.
Some wildlife sanctuaries in Chattisgarh:
♦ Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary


Assam to observe ‘Rhino Day’ on September 22
Assam government has announced that 22 September will be celebrated as “Rhino Day” to create awareness on protection of the one-horned rhinoceros of Assam.Assam to observe 'Rhino Day' on September 22Rhino Day – September 22:
i. This announcement was made by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the 10th meeting of State Board for Wildlife on 22ndFebruary 2018.
ii. The Rhino Day will be a tribute to nearly 2500 rhinoceros in Assam.  Also, a State Rhino Project in line with the National Rhino Project will be introduced soon in Assam.
iii. The State Rhino Project’s aim is to safeguard the rhinoceros from poaching. Sarbananda Sonowal also asked the wildlife board to form a quick response team to reach the sites where animals have died unnaturally.
iv. It was also decided to set up a Special Battalion to safeguard wild animals in Manas National Park.
Some National Parks in Assam:
♦ Kaziranga National Park
♦ Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
♦ Manas National Park