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Current Affairs Today – February 28 2017

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February

INDIAN AFFAIRS

India’s First Integrated Heliport Inaugurated at Rohini in North Delhi
i. India’s first integrated Heliport was inaugurated by the Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on February 28, 2017 at Rohini in North Delhi.The Heliport is the first of its kind facility in South Asia for rotor wing aircraft including their landing and takeoff and has been built by state-owned Pawan Hans Ltd.
ii. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Pawan Hans CMD B P Sharma among others were present at the ceremony.
iii. The newly developed heliport has been built over an area of 25 acres with a total investment of Rs. 100 crore
iv. The heliport consists of a terminal building having a capacity of 150 passengers, 4 hangars with the parking capacity of 16 helicopters and 9 parking bays.

MEITY to promote digital transactions in place of NITI
i. The Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) has taken the the responsibility NITI Aayog to promote the digital transactions in India.
ii. MEITY is responsible for promotion of e-governance for empowering citizens as well as promoting inclusive and sustainable growth of electronics and IT in the country.
iii. It is also responsible for encouraging the growth of IT-enabled services industries.
iv. Now NITI Aayog will focus on monitoring and suggesting ways to improve various government schemes rather than getting involved with implementation.
Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) :
♦ Headquarters: Sanchar Bhawan, New Delhi.
♦ Cabinet minister: Ravi Shankar Prasad
♦ Minister of state: P. P. Choudhary

Bihar State Government Presents Rs 1.60 lakh crore Budget for 2017-18
i. The Bihar State finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui presented the Rs 1.60 lakh crore budget for 2017-18 with no proposals of any fresh tax on February 27, 2017.
ii. A Rs 14,555 crore revenue surplus budget of Rs 1,60,085.69 crore is Rs 15389.42 crore more than 2016-17 budget estimate of Rs 1,44,696.27 crore.
iii. The state’s fiscal deficit has been estimated at Rs 18,112 crore which is 2.87 percent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) estimated at Rs 6.32 lakh crore.
iv .Of an estimated revenue receipt of Rs 1,37,158.41 crore of the state government in 2017-18, state’s own tax revenue is estimated at Rs 32,001.12 crore which is Rs 2,270.85 crore more than Rs 29,730.27 crore in 2016-17.
v. The state plans to borrow Rs 23,862 crore in 2017-18 and expects a share of Rs 65,326.37 crore in central taxes and Rs 36,956 crore in the form of grants-in-aid.
Allocations under Different Sectors
♦ Education Sector (Highest Allocation): Rs 14,217 Crore
♦ Rural Development: Rs 9,725 CroreBihar State Government Presents Rs 1.60 lakh crore Budget for 2017-18
♦ Rural Works: Rs 8,516 Crore
♦ Energy: Rs 6,795 Crore
♦ Social Welfare: Rs 5,949 Crore
♦ Road Construction: Rs 5,703 Crore
♦ Health: 3,567 Crore
♦ Urban Development: Rs 2,734 Crore

Orissa Legislative Assembly Presents State Budget 2017-18
The state Finance Minister of Odisha Pradeep Kumar Amat presented the State Budget for 2017-18 fiscal in the session of Orissa Legislative Assembly on February 27, 2017.
♦ Total Budget Outlay: the state presented a total budgetary outlay of Rs. 1,06,911 crore while merging non-plan and plan expenditure.
♦ Merging planned and non-planned expenditures, the new allocations have been made for the schemes and programmes.
Important Allocations
i. Of the total outlay, the largest outlay of Rs. 18,404 crore was allocated for education and skill developments while an outlay of Rs. 14,930 crore for agriculture.
ii. Sectors such as agriculture, health, rural electrification, establishment of five new medical colleges, education and tribal development were the most prioritized in the Budget.
iii. The government has allocated Rs. 5000 crore for the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations.
iv. Besides, another Rs. 4000 crore has been allocated for the implementation of the scheme to convert kutcha houses to pucca.
v. Allocations have also been made for the completion of the ongoing projects and increase in social sector spending.
vi. The state announced revised pay structure for 4 lakh employees and nearly 3 lakh pensioners for which the State Government will have to depend on market borrowings to meet requirements in all the sectors.

India-Israel Celebrates 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations in New Delhi
i. India and Israel celebrated 25 years of establishment of their diplomatic relations on February 28, 2017.
ii. Marking the occasion, a logo was unveiled jointly by Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relation) and Daniel Carmon, lsraeli Ambassador to India, at the lndira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi.
iii. A series of events took place on a variety of subjects to celebrate the silver jubilee of their diplomatic relations. These include exchange of high-level political visits and visits by business delegations.
iv. The two nations established the diplomatic relations in 1992. India and Israel have been cooperating in many areas like defence, agriculture, science and technology, education, India-Israel Celebrates 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations in New Delhidairy, innovation among others.
v. Israel is also a major contributor of defence technology to India. India imports Israeli defence equipment, including missiles, drones, radars and other critical military components.
Israel
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel
♦ President: Reuven Rivlin
♦ Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Georgia Granted Visa-Free Travel to EU by Member State
i. The European Union member states have approved the visa-free travel for Georgia on February 28, 2017 to facilitate cooperation of Georgia with the European Union.
ii. The approval was granted after agreeing safeguards to prevent any upsurge in illegal arrivals from the Georgians.
iii. Under the accord, Georgian citizens will be able to travel visa-free for 90 days in the EU during any 180-day period.
iv. The accord does not apply to the United Kingdom or Ireland.
v. However, the accord now requires formal signature by the 28 member states and the European Parliament.
European Union
♦ The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
♦ Its members are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
Georgia
♦ Capital: Tbilisi
♦ Currency: Georgian lari

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI Establishes Committee To Review Cyber Threats
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up an 11 member Inter-disciplinary Standing Committee on Cyber Security on February 28, 2017.
ii. The committee will be chaired by RBI Executive Director Meena Hemchandra.
iii .The panel has the freedom to co-opt more experts in future and also operate through a framework of sub-committees to examine specific issues.
iv. The committee will be responsible to review the threats emerging from the use of technology, study adoption of new technology standards and suggest appropriate policy Meena Hemchandra.interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Established: 1 April 1935
♦ Governor: Urjit Patel

SIDBI, CSFB pact to help MSMEs avail loans at cheaper rate
i. Lucknow based Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and India’s first small finance bank Capital Small Finance Bank (CSFB) signed Memorandum of Understandingto enable it to provide loans at a concessional rate to MSMEs.
ii. Aim: To promote and strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
iii. Th MoU will envisages joint financing/co-financing of MSMEs for capital expenditure under ‘SIDBI Make in India Soft Loan Fund for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises’, popularly known as SMILE at a concessional rate of 9.60 per cent by SIDBI
iv. It will also envisages that the promotional and developmental activities of SIDBI in the areas of skill development, technology and financial linkages, human resources development, energy saving, etc.
Capital Small Finance Bank (CSFB):
♦ The Jalandhar-headquartered Capital Small Finance Bank is India’s first small finance bank, was launched in August 2016.
♦ CSFB had been operating as Capital Local Area Bank since January 2000 with 47 branches in five districts of Punjab.

Lakshmi Vilas Bank Signs MoU with Centrum for its HNI Clients
i. Chennai-based private sector lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) has tied up with Centrum Group on February 27, 2017 in which the bank will refer its High Net Worth Individuals (HNI) to Centrum for wealth management and family office services.
ii. Centrum will conduct the business through its wealth management arm, Centrum Wealth Management and will offer its existing portfolio of wealth management services to the bank’s HNI clients.
iii. The agreement was signed between Parthasarathi Mukherjee, managing director & CEO, LVB and Jaspal Bindra, executive chairman, Centrum Group.
iv. This is the first time in the country that a private bank has given the charge to an independent professional wealth management firm for such services.
Centrum Wealth Management
♦ Centrum Wealth Management is a five-year-old firm engaged in investment advisory across all asset classes. It has a Rs 500-crore private equity fund, named ‘Kalpavriksh’.
Lakshmi Vilas Bank 
♦ Founded: 1926
♦ Headquarters: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
♦ MD & CEO: Parthasarathi Mukherjee

American Express Launches ‘Buyer Initiated Payments’ to Avoid Cheque, Draft Payments
i. American Express, a global leader in payment solutions has launched an electronic payment platform linked to corporate card, Buyer Initiated Payments (BIP) on February 27, 2017 to eliminate payment through cheques or drafts.
ii. The BIP card will help organizations and their vendors by reducing the processing cost and offer extended payment terms compared to traditional invoice payments.
iii. BIP enables companies to increase the Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) while still paying vendors on time.
iv. Through the BIP process, vendors will receive the payment as a direct deposit into their bank account along with an electronic notification of the deposit.
v. Presently, the exchange of goods and services between organizations and vendors, involved a tedious task of completing financial enquiries and a period of minimum 60 days to clear payments.
American Express
♦ The American Express Company is an American multinational financial services corporation best known for its credit card, charge card, and traveler’s cheque businesses.
♦ Through its Global Commercial Payments division, American Express offers payment and lending products that help businesses and organisations gain financial savings, control and efficiency.
♦ Headquarters: New York City, United States
♦ Founded: 1850

OECD Predicts India’s GDP Growth at 7% for 2016-17
i. The Economic Survey Report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated the India’s GDP growth at 7 percent for 2016-17 on February 28, 2017.
OECDii. Besides, the global think tank has also estimated the growth rate of 7.3 percent for the 2017-18 and 7.7 percent for 2018-19.
iii. As per the report, though demonetisation may have impacted short term growth in 2016-17, but the long term effects would see gains going upward.
iv. The forum emphasized the need to increase the revenue from income taxes to provide quality public services for all, to reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
♦ OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
♦ The Paris-based OECD has 35 member nations. India is not a member nation but one of its five key partners along with Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa. 

Canara, HSBC and OBC Banks launched iSelect Term Plan
i. Canara, HSBC and Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance launched iSelect term plan to expand its online product suit
ii. iSelect term plan provides enhanced protection cover for the family at an affordable premium.
iii. It will cover insured person’s spouse as well as family’s future income with an option to automatically increase insurance coverage as per changing life stage needs
iv. It is a pure protection online term plan that provides life insurance cover along with the option to cover against accidental death/ disability.

BUSINESS

GIFT-City partners with Dubai International Financial Centre
GIFT City has signed a pact with Dubai International Financial Centre for exchanging views and expertise in the fields of banking and financial services as well as regulatory practices on February 28, 2017
Highlights :
i. The partnership will enable both organisations to share exchange of information on banking, financial service and securities, legislation and regulation, cooperation in the area of training, assistance in organising seminars and conferences on selected issues enhancing mutual development of the centres.
ii. It will help in exchange of information on trends in relevant international financial services activities and products, in particular within the FinTech field.
iii. It will also help to establish a programme of International Exchange for entities based in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and GIFT enabling them to set up entities in Gujarat/Dubai on mutually agreed terms.
GIFT-City :
Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or GIFT is an under-construction central business district between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Cisco, Reliance Jio to build largest all-IP services platform
i. LTE mobile network operator Reliance Jio has announced a collaboration with the networking giant Cisco to expand Jio’s existing multi-terabit capacity with the first All-IP CISCO & JIOconverged network in India.
ii. With this Jio can offer a combination of high-speed data, mobile video, VoLTE, digital commerce, media, cloud and payment services.
All-IP converged network :
♦ Cisco is building the simplified, automated and virtualised network platform of the future on industry-leading software, systems, silicon and services.
♦ This enables service providers, media and web companies worldwide to reduce costs, speed time-to-market, secure their networks and sustain profitable growth.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Rangaswamy Becomes First Woman to Be Honored BCCI Lifetime Achievement Award
i. As a part of delivering recognition to Women’s in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has for the first time introduced a separate category of Lifetime Achievement Awards for Women in the upcoming BCCI Annual Awards 2016-17.
ii For the award, BCCI has chosen former Indian skipper Shanta Rangaswamy on February 28, 2017 who has become the first receiver of the award under the category.
iii. Besides, BCCI has nominated Mr. Rajinder Goel and Mr. Padmakar Shivalkar for the Col CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016 to be given at the BCCI Annual Awards.
iv. The two non test cricketers were nominated by the Col. C.K. Nayudu Awards Committee of BCCI consisting of Mr. N. Ram, Mr. Ramachandra Guha and Ms. Diana Edulji.
v. All the three winners would be felicitated during the BCCI Annual Awards ceremony to be held in Bengaluru on March 8, 2017 which also marks the International Women’s Day.

Radhanagar beach in Andaman Islands Features in Top 10 Beaches of the World
i. The Radhanagar beach on the Havelock Island in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands has featured among the top 10 in the ‘World’s Travellers’ Choice Award-Winning Beaches’ by TripAdvisor. 
ii .The Radhanagar beach has secured 8th position in the world and 1st spot in Asia.
iii. TripAdvisor honoured a total of 343 beaches. Winners were determined based on the quantity and quality of travelers reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor, gathered over a 12-month period.
iv. The first spot was gained by Baia do Sancho Fernando de Noronha in Brazil  followed by Grace Bay Providenciales in Turks and Caicos at second, while Eagle Beach in Aruba was placed at third position.
v. White Beach, Boracay, Aklan Province was ranked second in Asia while Ngapali Beach, Ngapali, Myanmar was ranked third.
TripAdvisor
♦ TripAdvisor, Inc. is an American travel website company providing reviews of travel-related content. It also includes interactive travel forums.
Top Beaches in Andamans and Nicobar Islands
♦ Radhanagar Beach-Havelock Island, Ross and Smith Island Beach, Laxmanpur Beach, Neil Island, Lalaji Bay Beach, Long Island, Guitar Island Beach. 

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Author Neil Gaiman Named U.N. Goodwill Ambassador
i. The author Neil Gaiman has been appointed as a global Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Refugee Agency,UNHCR by Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
ii. Aim: To raise awareness about the plight of forcibly displaced people and to generate much needed funds.Author Neil Gaiman Named U.N. Goodwill Ambassador
iii. Neil will play an important role in creating better public understanding and support for refugees
iv. He had been working closely with UNHCR since 2013 and he has supported several fundraising initiatives and UNHCR campaigns and events, including #WithRefugees, the #IBelong campaign to end statelessness, World Refugee Day and the Nansen Refugee Award.
UNHCR :
♦ The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a United Nations programme mandated to protect and support refugees .
♦ Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
♦ The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NASA Plans to Send Robotic Spacecraft to Sun in 2018
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has planned to send its first robotic spacecraft to the Sun in 2018 which will get as close as within six million kilometers to investigate its atmosphere
With this mission, NASA aims to answer three important questions.
i. First, the mission will unveil why the surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is not as hot as its atmosphere, called the corona.
ii. How solar wind gets its speed
iii. Why the Sun occasionally emits high-energy particles that are a danger to unprotected astronauts and spacecraft.
iii. For the mission, NASA has designed a 11.4 centimeter carbon-composite shield which can withstand temperatures of 1,370 degrees Celsius outside the spacecraft.
iv. The unmanned probe will have special heat tubes called thermal radiators that will radiate heat that permeates the heat shield to open space.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
♦ The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
♦ Formed: July 29, 1958
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
♦ Administrator: Robert M. Lightfoot

ENVIRONMENT

ICFRE Approval to Release 20 High-Yielding Varieties of Plant Species
i. 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species have been developed by three different institutes under the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) Dehradun.
ii. The Variety Releasing Committee (VRC) of ICFRE under the chairmanship of Director General, Forest and Special Secretary, Dr SS Negi, granted approval for the release of these UP’s Plantation Drive marked its name in Guinness Book of World Recordsvarieties of plant species at a meeting held in Dehradun on February 27, 2017.
iii. The three institutes that have developed the varieties are Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun; Institute of Forest Genetic and Tree Breeding Coimbatore and Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur.
iv. The Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, has developed ten improved varieties of Melia dubia or Malabar Neem and three clones of Eucalyptus, which are in high demand in the plywood and timber industry.
v. The Institute of Forest Genetic and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore, has developed five inter-specific hybrids of Casuarina equisetifolia X Casuarina junghuhniana, a type of pine tree, also to be used as timber.
vi. Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, developed two varieties of medicinal plant Rauvolfia serpentine.
vii. The developed varieties have to go through stringent long field trials and testing before release.
Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)
♦ The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India headquartered in Dehradun.
♦ Function: Conduct forestry research; transfer the technologies developed to the states of India and other user agencies; and to impart forestry education.
♦ The council has 9 research institutes and 4 advanced centres to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions.

Madras HC orders TN Govt to Enact Law to Eradicate Seemai Karuvelam Trees
i. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justices A.Selvam and P.Kalaiarasan directed the Tamil Nadu government on February 27, 2017 to enact a Law with prohibitory and penal clauses within two months to remove prosopis juliflora (Seemai Karuvelam) trees in the state.
ii. The bench also directed the State government to release perennial funds to all the district collectors for removing of the seemai karuvelam trees.
iii. The Judges would make surprise inspection throughout the State and if any lapse is found on removing these trees, stringent actions would be undertaken.
iv. The next hearing of the case will be taken up on March 20.
v. The interim orders were passed on a public interest litigation petition filed by Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko in 2015 along with a batch of similar petitions for removal of seemai karuvelam trees.
Prosopis Juliflora (Seemai Karuvelam)
♦ Seemai karuvelam trees are an invasive species considered harmful to the environment. They cause environment damage. Its roots are able to grow to a great depth in search of water and lead to depletion of ground water which ultimately affects agricultural activities.

SPORTS

Indian Badminton Duo Tarun Kona and Alwin Francis Wins Uganda International Series Doubles Title
i. Top seeded Indian shuttler duo Tarun Kona and Alwin Francis won the Men’s Double title at the 2017 Uganda International Series by defeating Aatish Lubah and Georges Julien Paul of Mauritius, 21-8, 21-14 on February 26, 2017 at MTN Arena Lugogo, Kampala.
ii. The Uganda International Badminton Tournament 2017, sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation, was held from 23rd to 26th of February 2017.
iii. The duo teamed up at the end of 2015 and since then have won three International Series events in Guatemala, Peru and Botswana.
Other Winners

Title Winner Runner
Men’s Single George Julien Paul (Mauritius) Edwin Ekiring (Uganda)
Women’s Single Shamim Bangi (Uganda) Domou Amro (Jordan)
Women’s Double Doha Hany/Hadia Hosny (Egypt) Evelyn Siamupangila/Ogar Siamupangila (Zambia)
Mixed Doubles Bahaedeen Ahmad Alshannik/ Domou Amro (Jordan) Ahmed Salah/ Menna Eltanany (EGYPT)

IMPORTANT DAYS

Chandra Shekhar Azad’s 86th Martyrdom Day observed
Chandra Shekhar Azad‘s 86th death anniversary or  Martyrdom Day was observed on 27th February, 2017
About Chandra Shekhar Azad:
i. Azad was an Indian revolutionary who reorganised the Hindustan Republican Association under its new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) after the death of its founder, Ram Prasad Bismil.
ii. He played a key role in Kakori Rail Dacoity in 1925, the train carried cash that belonged to the British treasury. He was also involved in the killing of assistant superintendent of police John Poyantz Saunders in 1928.
iii. He was fondly called as ‘Quick-silver’ by his mentor Ram Prasad Bismil for his alertness and restless attitude.
iv. Azad died on February 27, 1931 at Alfred Park in Allahabad. The park has been renamed as Chandrashekhar Azad Park.

National Science Day – February 28, 2017
i. National Science Day is celebrated every year on 28th February to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman on 28 February 1928.
ii. Objective:  To widely spread a message about the most Importance of science used in the daily life of the people.
iii. 2017 Theme: “Science and Technology for Specially Abled Persons”
iv. National Science Day was designated by government of India by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) in 1986.
Raman Effect :
Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of a photon by molecules which are excited to higher vibrational or rotational energy levels