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- Current Affairs 2017 February
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Presents Demonetisation Bill in Lok Sabha
i. The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 3, 2017 by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.The Bill provides for holding, transfer and receiving of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, which were demonetized after November 8, 2016, as a criminal offence and punishable with a minimum fine of Rs 10,000.
ii. It seeks to replace the ordinance on demonetization announced by the government in December 2016.
iii. The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill will end the liability of RBI and the government on the demonetized currency notes.
iv. The bill mentions that the demonetisation decision of the union government was based on the recommendations of the RBI’s central board as an effective measure to eliminate unaccounted money and fake currency notes from the financial system.
India together with Norway Develops Body to Accelerate Research for Epidemics
i. A Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has been set up by India and Norway to speed up the research and development for epidemics.
ii. The body was created after the World Health Organization published a document titled ‘An R&D blueprint for action to prevent epidemics- funding and coordination models for preparedness and response’ and asked all the member nations to develop research and development plan to deal with epidemics.
iii. The CEPI has been set up by the Governments of India and Norway. Besides, other involved in the foundation includes Welcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum in collaboration with industry, other governments, foundations regulatory bodies, civil society and the WHO.
iv. The body will make the list of the diseases against which vaccines are most feasible. This will overcome the barriers for development of vaccines.
19th Edition of Bharat Rang Mahotsav Begins in New Delhi
i. The 19th edition of Bharat Rang Mahotsav or International Drama Festival kicked off on February 1, 2017 in New Delhi.
ii. The 21 days annual theatre festival will conclude on February 21, 2017 and would take place at five different cities including New Delhi, Kurukshetra, Pune, Agartala, Hyderabad and Patna during the course of time.
iii. The festival would see 94 performances from 12 Countries & 16 Indian States.
iv. The 2017 Bharat Rang Mahotsav would also have Living Legend Series, Master Classes, Youth Forum and Director’s Meet. Besides, 3 Tributary Plays, 6 Diploma Productions, 7 Plays by Living Theatre Luminaries would be part of the International event.
v. Important Seminar, Workshops and Allied Programmes would play vital role in the festival.
vi. It is the Asia’s biggest International theatre festival conducted by the National School of Drama. The festival aims to develop theater across the country.
Centre of Integrative Oncology inaugurated in New Delhi
i. The Centre of Integrative Oncology (CIO) was inaugurated by Dr. Saumya Swaminathan, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare & Director General, Indian Council for Medical Research and Shri Ajit M. Sharan, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH at the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) at Noida on the 3rd February, 2017.
ii. Sharan also launched the fellowship programme, under this Senior Research Fellowships and 5 Post-doctoral fellowships will be released every year (in both modern medicine and Ayurveda) to facilitate quality research in the country in the area of cancer research.
iii. The aim of the CIO is to build collaborations in the areas of cancer prevention, research and care in an integrated approach involving both modern and traditional medicine.
iv. The Centre would be the clearing house for information for AYUSH projects on cancer research and management.
What is Oncology :
♦ Oncology is a branch of science that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist.
India and Italy Sign an MOU in Rail Sector for Technical Cooperation
i. The Union Ministry of Railways has signed an MoU with an Italian Firm Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group) for technical cooperation in rail sector on February 2, 2017 with focus on safety operations.
ii. The MoU was signed between Shri Vinod Kumar, Executive Director/Safet(coordination), Railway Board on behalf of Ministry of Railways and Shri Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of FS Group, Italy.
iii. The main aim of the MoU is cooperation in safety audit of Indian Railways, measures required for enhancing safety in train operation, Assessment and certification of advanced technology based safety products and systems to Safety Integrity Level (SIL4), Training and competency development with focus of safety, Modern trends in Maintenance and diagnostic etc.
iv. The FS Group is an Italian Government Company that manages the Italian railway sector. It has technical and managerial railway expertise due to which it is widely recognised at international level and is one of the most advanced worldwide players in design and realisation of High Speed and Conventional Lines, Safety Systems, Certification, Training and Operation and Maintenance.
♦ Capital: Rome
♦ Currency: Euro
♦ Prime minister: Paolo Gentiloni
India-Pakistan border to soon have smart fencing : Kiren Rijju
i. One of the India’s international border, 3,323-km-long India-Pakistan border runs through four states, Jammu and Kashmir , Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat .will have smart fencing soon said by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on February 3, 2017
ii. The fencing method will have a multi-tier security system in case of any infiltration bid or attempts to cut the fence, security personnel will get an alarm.
iii. Apart from this, Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) is also being worked out by the government where the security of Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders.
Right to Information(RTI) Act of Sri Lanka comes into effect.
i. Right to Information (RTI) Act has come into effect in Sri Lanka from February 3, 2017. RTI was one of the major announcements made by the present Sri Lankan government ahead of the 2015 election.
ii. RTI Commission which comprises of 5 persons namely Mahinda Gammanpila, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, S. G Punchihewa, Judge A. W. A. Salam and Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran , is vested with a variety of powers and is responsible for ensuring people can utilize the Right to Information effectively.
iii. The public authorities under which the RTI request falls are liable to respond to these requests within the specified timelines, subject to a maximum of 28 days.
iv. Sankhitha Gunaratne, RTI Manager of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) informed that public can now start filing RTI request. This RTI law overrides all other written laws in this respect and all information can be revealed if the greater public interest is served by disclosing the information.
♦Capitals: Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Colombo ♦ President: Maithripala Sirisena
♦Currency: Sri Lankan rupee ♦ Prime minister: Ranil Wickremesinghe
BANKING & FINANCE
Gross NPA of PSBs Strikes 9.83% in FY16 and 11.82% by September 2016
i. As per the data released by the Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar in the Lok Sabha on February 3, 2017, Public Sector Banks (PSBs) witnessed a bad loan at 9.83 percent of the gross advances in the financial year (FY) 2015-16, while the bad loans for Private sector banks were capped at 2.70 percent of the advances.
ii. For the FY16, PSBs had gross advances of Rs. 51,04,915 crore. Out of this Rs 5,02,068 crore was categorized as gross non-performing assets (GNPA) which accounts for 9.83 percent
iii. In case of the Private sector bank of the total Rs 17,91,681 crore gross advances made in FY16, only Rs 48,380 crore were gross NPA means only 2.70 percent.
iv. Further, till September 2016, PSBs gross NPA hiked to Rs 5,89,502 crore which is 11.82 percent of the total advances made till date. Besides, when the gross NPAs were combined with the restructured advances, they rose to 15.88 percent as on September 30, 2016.
Reserve Bank of India Allows NRIs access to ETCD market
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on February 2, 2017 permitted the NRIs to have access to the exchange traded currency derivatives (ETCD) market. This will enable the NRIs to hedge the currency risk due to making investment in India.
ii. Till date NRIs were allowed to hedge their currency risk through Over-The-Counter (OTC) transaction with the Authorized Dealer (AD) banks.
iii. Access to ETCD market will provide them an additional hedging option though subjected to certain conditions.
iv .Firstly NRIs would have to nominate a bank that will monitor and report the position of the NRI concerned in the OTC and ETCD segments.
v. Besides, NRIs may hedge currency risk on balances held in NRE account, market value of their permissible limit of Rupee investment in debt and equity as allowed under FEMA 1999 and any dividend due.
vi. The NRIs would be liable to maintain the permissible limit of investment. If the magnitude of exposure will exceed the limit, NRIs would be liable for penal action by RBI.
Health Ministry Notifies Medical Devices Rules to Ease Manufacturing
i. The Union Health Minister, JP Nadda, notified the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 on February 2, 2017 to ease the norms related to manufacturing medical devices in India and promote domestic industry.
ii. The new rules will separate the norms for manufacturing medical devices from those applicable on drugs. It will do away with the clinical trials that the medical devices need to undergo to four phases as do the drugs.
iii. The new rules aims to ease the norms for obtaining license and conducting clinical trials as well as reduce manufacturer-regulator interface by promoting digital platform.
iv. The framed rules are in line with the Global Harmonisation Task Force (GHTF) framework and follow best international practices. It would help to standardise and regulate medical devices manufacturing industry.
v. Besides, the rule also provides to boost government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign by providing opportunity to domestic manufacturers leading to greater long-term investments.
vi. The Medical devices in India are divided into four categories based on their risk type. They are Class A, B, C and D. A&B is low risk devices such as x-ray, CT, MRI while C&D have higher risk such as stents and other implantable devices.
vii. In case of C&D category of devices, government approval would be involved for licensing.
viii. Under the rules a compensation up to Rs. 8 lakh would be given to people who are impacted by
trials adversely. The rules will come into effect from January 1, 2018.
ix .It is a first of its type rule in the world and includes audit of the manufacturing units by accredited outside agency.
Google Ranked top Brand among Global 500 Brands
i. In the latest Global 500 rankings of most valuable and powerful brands across the globe, Sundar Pichai’s Google has surpassed Apple to achieve the top position.
ii. The Brand Finance Global 500 list published on February 2, 2017 had featured Apple as the top brand for continuous five years.
iii. However, for 2017, the ranking revealed that Google’s brand value rose by 24 percent to $109.5bn in 2016. The brand value of Apple on the other hand dropped 27 percent to $107bn.
iv. This is for the first time since 2011 that Google has been placed at the top spot. The third place has been occupied by Amazon.
v. The ranking is based upon factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.
LIQVD ASIA launches online exhibition portal-ExFirst.com
i. A premium digital marketing agency LIQVD ASIA collaborate with iKarmik.com, has launched India’s First Ever Online Exhibition gateway – ExFirst.com
ii. Aim: To provide designers and retailers an opportunity to reach out to consumers across the country
iii. It will be an open platform where an exhibition from any industry can be conducted by any organization.
iv. The first exhibition will feature select designers and brands from the Fashion, Lifestyle and Luxury industry.
v. The collections will range from Rs. 5000 onwards to few lakhs.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Rex Tillerson sworn-in as US secretary of state
i. Former Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson(64) has taken the oath of office as US secretary of state by Vice President Mike Pence in the presence of President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office.
ii. Rex’s appointment is confirmed by the Senate after he secured 43 votes out of 56
iii. He is supported by Republican party but opposed by Democratic lawmakers in the Senate, who raked up his ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
♦ Capital: Washington, D.C.
♦ Currency: United States Dollar
♦ President: Donald Trump
CAG Suman Saxena and two others appointed as whole-time members in IBBI
Former Deputy CAG Suman Saxena, Mukulita Vijaywargiya and Navrang Saini have been appointed as whole-time members for 5 years or or till completion of 65 years in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) on February 3, 2017
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) :
i. IBBI is mandated to regulate the functioning of insolvency professionals, insolvency professional agencies and information utilities under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
ii. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Litchis Contains Toxins that May kill Children
i. A team of Scientists from the United States and India in a study found that consuming litchi and then skipping the dinner can cause a very low blood glucose level, lower than 70 mg/dL, which may eventually lead to death especially in children.
ii. The study was published in the Journal Lancet Global Health. The group of scientist made the study after over 100 children from the northern India’s Muzaffarpur, Bihar died mysteriously after eating litchi’s and skipping the evening meal.
iii. As per the study, Litchi’s contain toxic materials known as Hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG). It blocks the enzymes in the normal glucose metabolism.
iv. This creates inability to synthesize glucose leading to low glucose level and thus acute encephalopathy, seizures and coma, and in many cases may cause death.
v. Sugar level already becomes low if not eating dinner and with eating litchis the case worsens.
Scientists Finds Evidence of Lost-Continent Mauritia Submerged Under Indian Ocean
i. Scientists from University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa have found a small continent submerged deep under the Indian Ocean that was once located between India and Madagascar.
ii. The team of scientist lead by Lewis Ashwal noticed strong gravitational fields in some parts of the Indian Ocean than others due to thicker crusts in some areas of the ocean especially in Mauritius.
iii. On researching the piece of rocky crust on the island of Mauritius created by volcanic eruption, scientists discovered a material Zircon that is known to be nearly 2 billion years old. However, Mauritius is only 8 million years old.
iv. Scientists believe that these crystals were ‘transported’ to the surface by volcanic activity, carried by lava.
v. Thus they confirmed that the lost continent lies below the island of Mauritius and named it as Mauritia. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
vi .Until 85 million years ago, Mauritia was itself a small continent. It was due to zircon colourful gemstone which proved that there was land much older than Mauritius beneath it.
India Defeats Pakistan to win Pool in Asian Junior Squash Championship
i. Indian Squash Team outclassed Rival Pakistan 2-0 in the lost in the second round match of Pool A at the 18th Asian Junior Team Squash Championship 2017 in Hong-Kong on February 2, 2017.
ii. Earlier in the Day India beat Iran 3-0 while Pakistan beat Korea 3-0.
iii. In the first match Indian Senthilkumar Velaven beat Pakistan’s Mehran Javed 3-1 and I the second round Abhay Singh outclassed Abbas Zeb 3-0 to clinch the tournament.
Pankaj Advani Wins 29th the National Snooker Championship title
i. Indian cueist Pankaj Advani clinched his 29th Indian National Snooker Championship title on February 2, 2017 at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana, Pune.
ii. The World Champion defeated Pandurangaiah of Railways 6-0 in a one-sided final.
iii. With this win, Advani has become the only Indian player to win all the national titles in both the long and short formats of snooker, 6-red Snooker and 15-red Snooker.
Virat Kohli Tops T20 batsman list in the Latest ICC rankings
i. As per the latest ICC Ranking of the Men’s batting, Virat Kohli is still on the top spot with 799 points. He is followed by Aaron Finch of Australia at second position with 771 points and Glenn Maxwell of Australia is third.
ii. Virat is ranked Second in Tests and Third in ODIs. This makes him the only Indian batsman to be raked in top five among all formats.
iii. Among the T20 Team Ranking, India stood at second spot with a rating of 124. New Zealand was first and West Indies at third.
iv. Imran Tahir from South Africa was placed first in the T20 Bowlers ranking while Jasprit Bumrah was second and Samuel Badree of West Indies third.
Veteran theatre personality Asim Basu passes away
i. Eminent stage craft director, theatre personality, actor, director, artist, painter and writer Asim Basu passed away in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
ii. Basu is well known for his beautiful and graphic stage craft direction and he has received the state Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998.
iii. He had acted in some Odia films and directed a few plays.