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Current Affairs Today – February 24 2017

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Ministry of Urban Development Approves Development of 6 km long Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat at a cost of Rs.16.27 cr under HRIDAY
i. As a part of the Central Scheme ‘Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)’, the Ministry of Urban Development has approved development of 6 km long Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat at a cost of Rs.16.27 crore.
ii. The circuit was approved by the HRIDAY National Empowered Committee chaired by Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (UD) Government of India.
iii. The Circuit will connect the famous Dwarkadish Haveli and Hanuman Dandi, the only temple housing Hanumanji and his son Makardhwaj, in Dwarka district of Gujarat.
iv. There are two important water bodies along the circuit including Ranchod Talav and Shankhudhar Lake.
v. The important work under the Darshan Circuit would include development of streets and pedestrian pathways, laying of cycle tracks along beach side, plantation, provision of benches, resting spaces, changing rooms, drinking water and toilet facilities, craft and food bazar, signages, LED lighting, plazas for vending spaces etc.

National Folk Festival of Kerala 2017 Begins in Thiruvananthapuram
i. The first of its type festival, the National Folk Festival of Kerala (NFFK 2017) has been organized in Kerala starting from February 24, 2017 to be held for three days in three different locations in the capital city Thiruvananthapuram.
ii .The NFFK 2017 has been organised by the state Youth Welfare Board, in association with Bharat Bhavan and the Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan.
iii .The event will see over 500 artists showcasing the centuries old folklore culture and tradition of the country through different art forms.
iv. Some of the major performances may feature artists from Kashmir to showcase dance and music programmes, performance by noted Bengal folk music band ‘Sahajiya.National Folk Festival of Kerala 2017
v. Performance from Punjab to show dances like Bhangra, Giddha and Jago while those from Rajasthan would showcase ‘Kalbelia’.
vi. The performances of artists from Jaisalmer as well as artists of Kerala would showcase the state’s traditional art forms including ‘Theyyam’.
♦ Governor: P. Sathasivam
♦ Chief Minister: Pinarayi Vijayan
Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in Kerala
♦ Periyar Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, and Silent Valley National Park

Gujarat Assembly Passes COTP Amendment Bill to Ban Hookah Bars
i. The Gujarat Assembly passed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution)(Gujarat Amendment), Bill, 2017 on February 23, 2017 to put a total ban on all the hookah bars in the state.
ii. The bill seeks to amend the present ‘Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003’ (COTP) and has replaced the Ordinance passed by Gujarat Government in December 2016 for the same.
iii .All the hookah bars in the state have been asked to shut their shops with immediate effect.
iv. Despite restriction, if any hookah bar is found to be operational would be considered as an offence and subjected to punishment ranging from maximum of Rs. 50,000 fine to jail term of up to three years.

AYUSH Minister Inaugurates the World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicine in New Delhi
i. The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated the World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicinal Products: National and Global strategies in New Delhi on February 23, 2017.
ii. The two day event that concluded on February 24, 2017 was organized by Ministry of AYUSH and Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) and supported by Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homeopathy (PCIMH) & Central Drugs AYUSH Minister Inaugurates the World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicine in New DelhiStandard Control Organization (CDSCO).
iii. The first-of-its-kind forum is expected to increase the perception of the international world towards India as a key player in the progress of the homeopathy drug industry.
iv .Drug lawmakers, regulators, manufacturers and pharmacopeial experts from various regulatory authorities, eminent scientific organisations and pharmaceutical industries from 25 countries participated in the event.
v. Besides, an MoU was also signed between Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS) and Indian bodies including Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) and Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) on cooperation in the field of Homeopathic Medicine.
vi. During the event the major points of discussion included issues like current regulatory status in different countries, practices and possible trade opportunities in key countries worldwide, possible solutions to regulatory challenges among others.


Vice President Hamid Ansari’s 5-day Visit to Rwanda & Uganda
i. Vice President of India, Mohammed Hamid Ansari was on a five-day visit to Rwanda and Uganda from February 19 to February 23, 2017 to enhance bilateral engagement among the nations.
ii. During the visit, India and Rwanda signed three MoUs on February 21, 2017 in the field of innovation, aviation and visa requirements.
iii. He also launched the India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme to strengthen ties in Science, Technology and Innovation between the two nations.
iv. Vice President Ansari was in Uganda from February 21-23, 2017. During the visit India and Uganda approved to expand cooperation in the field of energy sector and training of personnel for space programme and peaceful use of atomic energy.

Pakistan Army Launches Military Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad to Eliminate Terrorism
i. A nationwide military operation ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’ was launched by Pakistan Army on February 22, 2017 to eliminate terrorists and ensure security of Pakistan’s borders.
ii. As per the Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing of the Pakistan Army, the operation aims to eliminate threat of terrorism, consolidate gains of operations made so far and ensure strengthened security of Pakistan’s borders.
iii. To eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country, the Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Armed Forces as well as other security and law enforcement agencies will work actively to support the efforts of the Pakistan Army.
iv .Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad will include Broad Spectrum Security and counter-terrorism operations by Rangers in Punjab, continuation of ongoing operations across the country and focus on more effective border security management.
v .The operation will also include a countrywide de-weaponisation and explosive control programme.
vi. Besides, pursuance of the National Action Plan will be the hallmark of the operation.
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee
♦ President: Mamnoon Hussain
♦ Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif


India Signs $375 Mn Loan Pact with ADB for Industrial Corridor
i. The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a 375-million-dollar loans and grants on February 23, 2017 in New Delhi to develop 800-km Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor.
ii. The project is the first phase of a planned 2,500–kilometer long East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) having total cost of 846 million dollars.
iii. The MoU was signed between LB Sondjaja, Deputy Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission on behalf of ADB and Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), in the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of Government of India.
iv. The Corridor will enhance development in eastern coast in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy to boost manufacturing by attracting foreign investment and facilitating the establishment of manufacturing hubs
v. The project involves creation of efficient transport and reliable water and power supplies in the industrial clusters, skilled workforce with industry-friendly policies to improve ease of doing business for integration of local economy with global production networks.
vi. Besides, an agreement was also signed for a five million dollars grant from the multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund that is managed by ADB to build climate change resilient infrastructure.ADB
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
♦ The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank to promote social and economic development in Asia.
♦ ADB has 67 members of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
♦ Headquarters: Mandaluyong, Philippines
♦ President: Takehiko Nakao
♦ Founded: 19 December 1966


India Approves Rs 17,000crore Missile Deal with Israel
i. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 22, 2017 approved Rs. 17,000 crore missile deal with Israel to protect India’s airspace from enemy aircraft and drones.
ii. Under the deal, India and Israel will jointly develop a Medium Range Surface-To-Air Missile (MR-SAM) system for the Indian army.
iii. The project will be implemented by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Israeli Aircraft Industry (IAI). 
iv. The MR-SAM is a land-based version of the long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) for the navy. It will have a strike range of up to 50km to 70km.
v. The Army will induct over five regiments of the MR-SAM missile which will have around 40 firing units and over 200 missiles of the system.
vi. India and Israel are jointly developing similar systems for the Air Force and the Navy.
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel
♦ President: Reuven Rivlin
♦ Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu

Trade Facilitation Agreement of WHO Comes into Effect
i. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) came into force on February 22, 2017 which required two-third of the member nation to ratify the agreement to be into effect.
ii. Ratified by 112 nations including India out of 164 member countries, the agreement is expected to give a boost to global trade with easier trade movement.
iii. The agreement seeks to enhance the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders.
iv .It also includes faster clearance procedures, enhanced conditions for freedom of transit for goods improvements, improved appeal rights for traders as well as reduced fees and formalities connected with the import and export of goods.
v. The agreement will ease trade processes, bring down barriers to trade and enhance the capacity of the developing nations to better work with the global trading network.
vi. Besides, the TFA will also give a boost to the global trade in India which has been Trade Facilitation Agreement of WHO Comes into Effectimpacted due to slowdown in the world economy after demonetization period.
World Trade Organization(WTO)
♦ The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade.
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founded: 1 January 1995
♦ Head: Roberto Azevêdo

Rajasthan Becomes 2nd Largest Crude Oil Producer in India
i. Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh announced on February 23, 2017 that Rajasthan has become the second largest crude oil producer in India.
ii .The oilfields in the state were producing nearly 90 lakh tones oil annually which accounted for 24 percent of the total domestic crude oil production.
iii. On the other hand, the Bombay High, an offshore oilfield of Mumbai is the largest producer of crude oil in India which accounts for half of the domestic oil production.
Bombay High
♦ Bombay High is an offshore oilfield 176 kilometres (109 mi) off the coast of Mumbai. The oil operations are run by India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).


Indian-Origin British MP Receives Stya Paul Memorial Award
i. Virendra Sharma, an Indian-origin British MP was conferred with the first Dr Stya Paul Memorial Award on February 22, 2017 for his outstanding contribution to India-UK ties.
ii. The Labour party MP from Ealing Southall received the award at the third annual Indo-UK Thought Leadership Awards in London  from NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul, the younger brother of Indian educationist Dr Stya Paul.
iii .Besides, Rajesh Agrawal, an Indian-origin Deputy Mayor for Business in London received the Global Icon Award for 2017.
iv. The event was organised by Great Place to Study (GPTS) Research Institute which is an international auditing firm for Indian colleges jointly with UK-based consultancy Sterling Media.Indian-Origin British MP Receives Stya Paul Memorial Award
v. The event is held annually to celebrate achievements in the field of education and economic development.
United Kingdom
♦ Capital: London
♦ Prime minister: Theresa May
♦ Currency: Pound sterling


Abhijit Sarkar appointed Vice President of Asian Hockey Federation
i. Malaysia headquartered Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) has appointed Abhijit Sarkaras as vice chairman and also the chief of AHF commercial and TV committee on February 21, 2017
ii. He had led the group in promoting various sports in India by sponsoring both the Indian National Cricket Team as well as the Indian National Hockey Team.
iii. Sarkar has served as the Head of Corporate Communications, Corporate Affairs and Relations, and the Sports Division at Sahara India Pariwar since 2004.
Asian Hockey Federation:
♦ The Asian Hockey Federation is the governing body for the sport of field hockey in Asia. It now has 30 member associations.
♦ It is affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH)
♦ President: Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah
♦ Headquarters:Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Somali president names Hassan Ali Khaire prime minister
i. Somali-born Norwegian national Hassan Ali Khaire has been appointed as prime minister of Somalia by Mohamed Abdullahi, President of Somalia on February 23, 2017
ii. Hassan was a former executive of British energy explorer Soma Oil & Gas.
iii. He has the Horn of Africa regional chief for the Norwegian Refugee Council aid group from 2011-2014.
iv. He is a member of the Hawiye clan, as is former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Somalia :
♦ Capital: Mogadishu
♦ Currency: Somali shilling

Govt Ropes In Shilpa Shetty As Swachh Bharat Brand Ambassador
i. Indian film actress, producer, former model Shilpa Shetty was roped as the Brand Ambassador for cleanliness initiative Swachh Bharat Mission by the central government.
Govt Ropes In Shilpa Shetty As Swachh Bharat Brand Ambassadorii. It was announced by Urban Development Ministry Joint Secretary and director of Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) Praveen Prakash.
iii. Aim : Swachh Bharat Mission is to make India open defecation free by 2019.
iv. Shilpa will feature in TV and radio campaigns aimed at discouraging people from littering on roads.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan :
♦ Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a campaign by the Government of India to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country’s 4,041 statutory cities and towns.
♦ The campaign was officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is India’s largest ever cleanliness drive with 3 million


Gujarat Assembly Passes COTP Amendment Bill to Ban Hookah Bars
i. The Gujarat Assembly passed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution)(Gujarat Amendment), Bill, 2017 on February 23, 2017 to put a total ban on all the hookah bars in the state.
ii. The bill seeks to amend the present ‘Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003’ (COTP) and has replaced the Ordinance passed by Gujarat Government in December 2016 for the same.
iii .All the hookah bars in the state have been asked to shut their shops with immediate effect.
iv. Despite restriction, if any hookah bar is found to be operational would be considered as an offence and subjected to punishment ranging from maximum of Rs. 50,000 fine to jail term of up to three years.


Mahindra Agri launches digital platform MyAgriGuru for farmers
Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd (MASL), a part of Mahindra & Mahindra has launched a mobile app ‘MyAgriGuru‘ for farmers on February 24, 2017
♦ It is launched as a part of Government’s target to double the farmer income by the year 2022.
Features of ‘MyAgriGuru’ :
i. ‘MyAgriGuru’ is  24×7 advisory platform for farmers.
ii. This app will provide information about crop, agri-buzz, market price and weather  in English and Hindi.
iii. Mahindra is working with Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) to provide weather forecast for a five-day period.
iv. It has also associated with Commodity Exchange – NCDEX in order to share real-time prices of various mandis across the country.


World’s First International Zip Line Created to Connect Spain And Portugal
i. In a first of its kind development of a cross-border zip line in the world, a an international zip line named as Limite Zero has been created to connect Spain and Portugal.
ii. The 2,362-foot-long zipline will connect Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Andalucia, Spain, to Alcoutim, in Algarve, Portugal whose time zone is an hour behind than that of Spain.
iii. The zipline crosses Guadiana River at 50 feet above sea level to connect the villages in two countries which are separated by the 150 metres wide river.
iv .The project undertaken by Englishman David Jarman will enable the thrill seekers to reach the place in less than a minute with a speed of about 50kmph by flying through the air plus without the need for a passport.
Spain                                            Portugal
♦ Capital: Madrid                            ♦ Capital: Lisbon
♦ Currency: Euro                             ♦ Currency: Euro
♦ Prime minister: Mariano Rajoy      ♦ Prime minister: António Costa


Former Sri Lankan Batsman Kumar Sangakkara becomes 2nd Asian to Play 1000 Matches
i. Former Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara created record on February 23, 2017 to become the 16th player worldwide and 2nd Asian Batsman to play 1000 matches across Kumar Sangakkaraall forms of Cricket.
ii .The only Asian to become the first to achieve the feat was former Sri Lankan player Mahela Jayawardene.
iii. Currently Sangakkara is leading the Karachi Kings in the ongoing second edition of the Pakistan Super League. The player made the record while playing against the Quetta Gladiators.
iv .Though Kumar Sangakkara retired from the international cricket over a year ago, he continues to play his trade in different T20 leagues around the world.
v. Of the 1,000 matches played by Sangakkara, 587 has been played for the Sri Lankan team.

Sports Ministry to Organize 1st Gramin Khel Mahotsav in New Delhi
i. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on February 22, 2017 Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel announced that the first Gramin Khel Mahotsav will be held from March 25-31, 2017 in New Delhi.
ii. The Khel Mahotsav will have 5 sports discipline comprising of Athletics, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Volley Ball and Wrestling.
iii .The festival provide a platform to promote sports in rural areas across the country and encourage rural youths to participate in sports and achieve excellence and adopt healthy life style.
iv. Renowned wrestlers Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Geeta Phogat are being invited to participate in demonstration matches to encourage the youths to take keen interest in the sports.


PM releases the book “Judicial Reforms – Recent Global Trends” 
i. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was released the book titled  “Judicial Reforms – Recent Global Trends” published by EBC in association with IIFL at Rashtrapati Bhawan on February 22, 2017
ii. President Pranab Mukherjee received first copy of book from PM modi
iii. The book is compilation of essays written by eminent persons on Judicial Reforms. These were delivered at a conference on Judicial Reforms, which was inaugurated by the President of India.
iv. This is compiled and edited under the stewardship of Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Judge of the International Court of Justice and the President of the Indian International Law Foundation (IIFL).


Central Excise Day – February 24, 2017
i. 74th Central Excise Day is observed on 24th February, 2017 to mark the enactment of the Central Excise and Salt Act in 1944.
ii. This day is dedicated to the Central Board of Excise and Custom(CBEC) to honor it’s Central Excise Daycontribution to the country’s economy and to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of its employees.
♦ The Central Board of Excise and Custom is one of the oldest government agencies in India, it was established in 1855 as the Customs and General Excise department.
♦ CBEC operates under the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
♦ It is responsible for collecting excise duty, service tax, customs duty and narcotics duty, preventing smuggling and drug trafficking.