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- Current Affairs 2017 February
Gujarat Technological University Sets Up Centre Of Excellence In Automation Technologies
i. India’s first Centre of Excellence in Automation Technology was inaugurated by the Gujarat Technological University at its campus at Vishwakarma Government Engineering College in Ahmedabad on February 3, 2017.
ii. The center has been funded by a German technology major, Bosch Rexroth. The excellence centre has four laboratories including Pneumatic Lab, Hydraulic Lab, PLC Lab, Robotic & Mechatronics Lab and Sensor Lab.
iii. The centre was inaugurated by Bosch Rexroth managing director, Hans Bangert jointly by the Gujarat government’s minister of state for higher and technical education, Jayadrathsinh Parmar.
iv. The centre aims to enhance the research and knowledge base of both students and faculties. It will work to improve the technical competence, entrepreneurship and employability of Under Graduate & Post Graduate students who are being trained at the centre.
v. It also seeks to encourage the students to pursue PG and doctoral programs. GTU has further planned to set up a few centers of excellence in Automation, Automobile, Mobile Hydraulic and Mobile Electronics Technologies with the help of BRIN.
President opens Rashtrapati Bhavan’s annual ‘Udyanotsav’
President Pranab Mukherjee opened the annual ‘Udyanotsav‘ of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 4, 2017.
♦ The Mughal Gardens will remain open for general public from February 4, 2017 to March 12, 2017
i. The two varieties of roses named ‘President Pranab‘ and ‘Suvra Mukherjee‘ were developed by Pranabir Kumar Maity and Ashok Kumar Maity of Pushpanjali Rose Nursery at Jakpur, West Bengal.
ii. Vertical Gardens and Air Purifying Plants which absorb toxins from polluted air.
iii. Exhibition Stalls set up near the Spiritual Garden displaying produce of fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the President’s Estate Organic Farm.
Kiren Rijiju Inaugurates Programme on ‘Inner Strength and D isaster Resilience’
i. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs inaugurated the programme on ‘Inner Strength and Disaster Resilience’ on February 3, 2017 in New Delhi. The programme was organised by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
ii. The Minister stressed NDRF force to focus on mental fitness along with physical fitness.
iii .NDRF is India’s professional emergency force to tackle disaster. It has become one of the dedicated forces in the country both in India and abroad.
iv .NDRF has so far saved more than 5 million lives. Besides, it also educates people on how to tackle disasters. Over 47 lakh people have been trained as of now.
Centre Forms Six-Member Committee to Look into Haj Subsidy Issue
i. A six-member committee has been formed by the government to look into the matter of how to improve the Haj Poilcy of India and also deal with the issue of reducing and abolishing the subsidy to the pilgrims.
ii. Former Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah, Afzal Amanullah will be the head of the committee. Besides, Ministry Joint Secretary J Alam will serve as member secretary.
iii. Other in the committee includes, Bombay High Court judge (retd) SS Parkar, ex-Haj Committee of India chairman Qaiser Shamim, former Air India CMD Michael Mascarenhas , Muslim scholar-chartered accountant Kamal Faruqui.
iv .In 2012, the Supreme Court had the Union government to gradually reduce and abolish Haj subsidy by 2022.
v. The apex court directed the government to invest the subsidy amount of approximately Rs 650 crore a year on educational and social development of the community.
vi. The committee will review the effectiveness of the management of pilgrims’ accommodation and air travel by the Haj Committee of India. Besides, the committee will figure out whether the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less in the absence of the subsidy.
Bihar Introduces Third Gender Category in Board Exams
i. The Bihar government has introduced the transgender as a third category to opt for and appear in the Board exams conducted by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB).
ii. It is for the first time that the Board will conduct the exams for the transgender category in 2017 after it was recognized by Supreme Court in 2014.
iii. According to the Board officials, total 18 students have been enrolled this year to appear in the exam. It includes 10 students of Class 12 students and 8 students Class 10.
iv. Prior to this, only two categories were recognized as valid, male and female, and the transgender were not allowed to appear in the examinations. However, from 2017 online examination forms have been introduced with provision for the third gender.The move aims to provide equal opportunity to all students.
SC asked the Centre to Prepare plan for eradication of leprosy
i. The Supreme Court bench consists of Chief Justice J S Khehar and justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud instruct the centre to prepare a policy for the eradication of leprosy within four weeks on February 3, 2017
ii. It has sought a direction to the governments that drugs be made available at primary health centres and health scheme should be formulated to bring people suffering from leprosy into the national mainstream.
iii. Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are leprosy endemic states and efforts are being made to eradicate the disease said by Standing counsel Bala Subramanium who is appearing for the Centre
iv. He also said an online programme is being launched to detect the patients and their treatment.
What is Leprosy ?
♦ Leprosy or Hansen’s disease (HD) is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs.
♦ It is is a long-term infection by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae or Mycobacterium lepromatosis
Iran Bans U.S. Wrestlers to Compete Freestyle World Cup
i. Iran government on February 3, 2017 banned the United States wrestlers from participating in the freestyle World Cup to be held in February 2017 as a counter-move against President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending visas for Iran.
ii. This decision is seen as the first step by Iranian government in response to Trump’s executive order banning visas for seven Muslim-majority countries.
iii. The World Cup competition is scheduled to be held from February 16-17 in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah, Iran.
iv. The U.S. freestyle wrestlers who were to participate in the championship includes, Kyle Snyder, the Woodbine, Md. Gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, and Jordan Burroughs, the three-time world champion and gold medalist from the 2012 Summer Games.
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani
United States Imposes New Sanctions on Iran
i. The United States President Donald Trump imposed a new sanction on February 3, 2017 on Iran in a move to punish Tehran for its latest ballistic missile test.
ii. US have imposed sanction on more than two dozen Iranian entities after Islamic republic dismissed President Donald Trump’s warnings over the missile test saying it as baseless and provocative.
iii .The missile test carried out by Iran violated the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which said that Tehran cannot test missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
iv. The US government has sanctioned all those individuals and entities that were directly or indirectly involved in procurement of technology and material that supported Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
v. It has also levied ban on banking transfers against 25 Iranians and companies that assisted in Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support of terrorist groups.
♦ Capital: Washington, D.C.
♦ President: Donald Trump
♦ Currency: United States Dollar
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI Directs Banks to Waive off Transactions Charges and Decrease Interest Rate for Credit Cards
i. The Reserve Bank of India has directed banks on February 3, 2017 to waive off transaction charges and lower interest rates on credit cards as a move to encourage digital transaction.
ii. RBI has decided that customers would not be levied any charges by banks and prepaid payment instrument issuers for transactions up to Rs. 1,000 settled on Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) till March 3, 2017.
iii. It has also directed banks to lower the interest on credit card dues. Interest rates are determined by banks with the approval of their respective Board of Directors subject to regulatory guidelines on the interest rate on advances issued by RBI from time to time.
iv. Transaction settled on IMPS and UPI above Rs. 1000 would not be levied any fee charge however the service tax will be charged at actual. For USSD transactions above Rs. 1,000 a further 50 paise discount is provided.
v. Credit card, debit card, charge card and other payment card services by banks have been exempted from payment of service tax for transactions of up to Rs. 2,000.
Reserve Bank of India
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Founded: April 1, 1935
♦ Governor: Urijit R Patel
HDFC Bank Hikes Cash Transaction Fees on Savings Accounts
i. India’s second largest private sector bank, HDFC, has planned to increase the fee for savings account holders doing cash transaction in order to encourage digital mode of payment.
ii. The bank on has reduced the third party transaction limit to Rs. 25000 a day. Earlier this limit was Rs. 50000. Besides, it has also reduced the number of free transactions at branches from 5 to 4.
iii. The fee for non free transaction has been increased to Rs. 150. For the free transaction, the bank has limited the cash transaction to Rs. 2 lakh, above which customers will have to pay a minimum of Rs. 150 or Rs. 5 per thousand.
iv. The free transaction for non-home branches is only Rs. 25,000 after which fees set in at the same level would be levied.The applicable restrictions would come into effect from March 1, 2017.
♦ Founded: 1994
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai India
♦ Managing Director: Aditya Puri
Tata Motors Launches new Sub-Brand TAMO as an Incubator to Develop Futuristic Vehicles
i. Automotive manufacturing company Tata Motors has come up with an innovative plan to strengthen its market share in the country. It is set to expand its passenger vehicle manufacturing segment by creating a new sub-brand under the name TAMO which will act as a start-up to develop new and innovative products.
ii. TAMO will involve partnership with global start-ups and technology companies to have access to trends, innovations for developing new technologies and business models to design exciting future products and services.
iii. A small team of specialists in TAMO will be appointed who can imagine the future and Tata Motors personnel would support them to develop new passenger vehicles.
iv. The company has also planned to launch its first vehicle manufactured under TAMO by March 2017 at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show.
v. It aims to be among the top three passenger vehicle companies in India by 2019.
vi. Besides, Tata Motors is also set to reduce its current six platforms to two vehicle platforms that will be used for manufacturing all the Tata cars using common design and components thus saving procurement cost and time and reduce complexities.
vii. The platforms would be based on AMP (advance modular platform) architecture. It will allow the firm to develop multiple body types like sport utility vehicles (SUVs), multi-purpose vehicles, compact cars and compact SUVs at lower costs and short notice.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
IDFC MD Vikram Limaye Named New CEO & MD of National Stock Exchange (NSE)
i. Managing Director of IDFC, Vikram Limaye has been named as the new Managing Director & CEO of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) on February 3, 2017.
ii. The position was lying vacant after Chitra Ramakrishna quit the exchange on December 2 citing personal reasons. Thus the stock exchange set up a four-member panel on December 5, to look for the next MD of the bourse.
iii. Limaye would be the first NSE CEO from outside the founding team that set up the exchange in the 1990s.
Gopinathan Re-Appointed To UN Joint Inspection Unit
i .Top Indian diplomat, Achamkulangare Gopinathan has been re-appointed by the UN General Assembly to the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2018.
ii. Along with him, Sukai Prom-Jackson of Gambia, Jean Wesley Cazeau of Haiti and Nikolay Lozinskiy of Russia have also been appointed members of the Joint Inspection Unit.
iii. The Joint Inspection Unit is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide. It aims to enhance the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations system.
iv. Earlier, Gopinathan was for the first time appointed to the UN body from January 2013 to December 2017.
Noted Economist Sanjeev Sanyal appointed Principal Economic Adviser
i. Noted economist Sanjeev Sanyal has been appointed as the Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on February 3, 2017.
ii. Sanjeev Sanyal, former Global Strategist and Managing Director of Deutsche Bank will serve as the Principal Economic Adviser in the Department of Economic Affairs.
iii. He will serve as the second in command in the economic division of the finance ministry currently led by the chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian.
iv. As per the notification, Sanyal has been appointed on contract for a three-year period from the date of assumption of charge of the post or until further orders.
Anand Kumar Gupta appointed as Director of NTPC
i. Anand Kumar Gupta(56) has been appointed as director of NTPC for commerical operation on February 3, 2017
ii. Gupta will be responsible for the activities relating to commercial, international and domestic business development and consultancy business of NTPC.
iii. He also headed business development department of NTPC and plant operations & maintenance at power stations.
♦ Founded : 1975
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi, India
♦ CEO: Gurdeep Singh
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
UIDAI Shuts Down 50 Fraud Sites Offering Aadhaar Services
i. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has dismissed 12 websites and 12 mobile applications available on Google Play store that were offering Aadhaar-related services illegally.
ii. Besides, the authorities have been directed to further shut down 26 websites and mobile applications.
iii. The decision comes after some websites and app were providing unauthorised Aadhaar related services such as downloading online Aadhaar card, providing status of Aadhaar generation, PVC Aadhaar Card etc., to residents.
iv. In this process they were illegally obtaining the Aadhaar number/enrolment details from the residents.
v. UIDAI responded that it did not authorize any of these mobile applications or websites to extend any Aadhaar related services on its behalf and seeks to take stringent action against them.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft completes fourth flyby of Jupiter
i. Juno spacecraft sent by US space agency NASA , orbiting the planet Jupiter has completed a close flyby of Jupiter for the fourth time on February 2, 2017
ii. Juno is currently in a 53-day orbit and its next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on March 27, 2017
iii. During this period, Juno is studying the gas giant’s auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Juno spacecraft :
♦ Juno is a NASA space probe which was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
♦ The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011 (UTC), as part of the New Frontiers program.
Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence & Surveillance System Launched in Mumbai
i. Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding- in-Chief, Western Naval Command inaugurated the Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) on February 3, 2017 in Mumbai.
ii. The system has been developed to strengthen Harbour Defence and Security at Mumbai. It will enhance the security of the valuable assets against surface and underwater threat.
iii. UUHDSS has been designed and developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) ELTA. It consists of integrated radars, electro-optic cameras and sonars.
iv .The sensors have been installed around Mumbai Harbour that would help to monitor and analyze the situational awareness
v. The system can detect both large as well as small targets like boats, divers and swimmers at adequate ranges.
Former CBI Director Joginder Singh passes away
i. Former CBI Director Joginder Singh passed away on February 3, 2017 after a prolonged illness in New Delhi. He was 77.
ii. The 1961 batch IPS officer of Karnataka cadre served as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief between 1996 and 1997.
iii. During his tenure as CBI officer, he dealt with various investigation cases like Bofors scam and Bihar’s fodder scam etc.
iv. Before joining the CBI, he served as Superintendent of Police in Bihar, Deputy Inspector General and Inspector General in Karnataka, Director of Youth Services in Karnataka, Special Home Secretary to the government of Karnataka among other things.
World Cancer Day – February 4, 2017
i. The World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.
ii. The theme of 2017 World Cancer Day is We Can, I Can.
iii. A special three year campaign has been designed from 2016-2018 to explore ways how everyone collectively or as individuals can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.
iv. The day was started by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.
v. The main aim of the day is to ensure that illness, sickness and deaths due to cancer are reduced significantly by 2020.