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- Current Affairs 2017 February
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal Launches Chief Minister Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana (CMSGUY) in Assam
i. Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, launched Chief Minister Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana (CMSGUY) in a function held at Sri Sri Madhavdev International Auditorium of Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati on February 5, 2017 with an aim to develop all the villages to Assam in the next five years.
ii. Aim: The CMSGUY scheme aims to bring a revolutionary change in the state by doubling the farm income by 2022 which also marks the 75 anniversary of India’s Independence.
iii. The total financial outlay of the CMSGUY scheme is Rs. 30,000 crore. It will be implemented in phased manner in the villages of Assam till 2021-22.
iv. For the propoer implementation of the scheme a Mega Mission Society has been constituted under the chairmanship of Sarbananda Sonowal.
HRD Ministry to set up NTA to Conduct Exams for Higher & Secondary Education
i. The Union Human Resource Development Ministry led by under Prakash Javadekar is set to constitute a National Testing Agency (NTA) which will be responsible for conducting examinations for higher and secondary education.
ii .The announcement was made in the Union Budget 2017-18 by the Finance Minister who proposed to
set up NTA as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing agency to conduct all entrance exams to higher education.
iii. The main aim of setting NTA is to ease the work of the bodies like CBSE, AICTE, from the responsibilities of conducting exams, and eventually enable them to focus more on academics.
iv. Initially NTA would conduct examinations for IIT, NIT and even university exams and later on it will also get the responsibility of conducting secondary school exams.
v .Similarly, initially, CBSE staff will be deployed in NTA and later on the specialized people will be hired in the NTA.
vi. The Agency will have its own independent experts, preparing their own question papers, and conducting exams.
vii. The National Testing aims to bring professionalism, competence and transparency in the field of conducting tests for higher educational institutions and benefit students as well.
Andhra Pradesh Gets its First Smart Police Station
i. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurates the State’s first Smart Police Station at Nagarampalem in Guntur city in Amaravati on February 6, 2017.
ii. The Smart station has been built within two months at a cost of Rs 91 lakh as a pilot project. The Andhra Police administration has formulated plans to build another 100 Smart Police Stations across the state.
iii. The main motive behind such smart police station is to bring a sense of pride among the officers and satisfaction among the public.
iv. The smart police stations are fully air-conditioned with a staff room, dormitory, mini control room, a reception chamber and individual enclosures for the Station House Officer and three Sub-Inspectors.
v. Besides, the daily uniform of the staff has been changed from the usual khaki uniform to a navy blue trouser and a light blue shirt for men and a light blue sarifor women constables with additional blue blazer for lady receptionist
vi. Instead of lock-up for detainees, a custody room with a double bed has been deployed.
vii .Above all, a closed circuit television cameras have been installed in and around the station for closer surveillance of staff behaviour and movement of visitors.
♦ Capitals: Amaravati, Hyderabad
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
Railways Approves Rail Project in Andaman and Nicobar
i. The Railway Ministry is set to develop the first ever railway line in Andaman and Nicobar Island that currently has no rail network.
ii .The Ministry of Railway is set to approve the project that will construct 240-km broad gauge railway line connecting Port Blair with Diglipur, the largest town on Andaman Island. It will connect the two islands with bridges and stations along the coast.
iii .Currently the Island are connected to each other through a 350-km bus service taking above 14 hours and ship taking over 24 hours. Besides, the island do not have air connectivity.
iv. According to the ministry, the cost of laying the line would be nearly Rs 2,413.68 crore.
Tripartite MoU signed among M/o of Tourism, M/s NPCC & NBCC and Govt of J&K for Implementation of Tourism Projects In J&K
i. A Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed among the Ministry of Tourism, M/s NPCC & NBCC and Government of J&K on February 6, 2017 for the implementation of Tourism projects in Jammu and Kashmir.
ii. As a part of the new initiative, Development of Tourism in the State– New Projects, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned two projects, one each to NPCC and NBCC in the J&K which will be implemented by September 2017.
iii. The first project sanctioned to M/s NBCC includes Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Gulmarg – Baramulla – Kupwara – Leh. The total outlay of the project is Rs. 96.62 Crore.
iv. The project under M/s NPCC includes Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Mantalai – Sudhmahadev – Patnitop in Jammu & Kashmir. The total outlay of the project is Rs. 97.82 Crore.
v. The main focus of these projects includes developments of Yoga centre, wellness SPA, Log Huts, heliports, Open air theatre, walking trail, landscaping, solar lighting, solid waste management & public amenities etc.
Supreme Court Directs Centre to Link Mobile Numbers to Aadhaar within a Year
i. The Supreme Court has directed the central government on February 6, 2017 to link the phone numbers of the entire mobile users, with their Aadhaar Number within a period of one year.
ii. The verification decision by bench of Judges including Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice NV Ramana was needed as mobile phones are being used for banking purposes.
iii. The court has proposed the government to frame rules and regulations so that SIM cards, including pre-paid, are not misused.
iv .Central government has been asked to make necessary arrangements wherein a pre-paid user while recharging phone, needs to fill and deposit a form with their Aadhaar Number.
UN Agency Calls for International Collaboration on Wheat Rust to Curb Threat to Global Supplies
i. According to a new study conducted by scientists in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), two new groups of wheat rust have been identified that posed threat to wheat produced in Africa, Asia and Europe in 2016.
ii. As per the data, the two new groups have been identified as yellow rust and stem rust. The finding calls for the need for early detection and rapid action to keep the fungus under control.
iii. The study was published in the Journal Nature. It said that wheat rusts spread rapidly over long distances by wind.
iv. If they are not detected and treated on time, they can turn healthy crops into a tangle of yellow leaves, black stems and shriveled grains.
v. The United Nation urged that specialists from international institutions and wheat producing countries must come together to stop these diseases from spreading further.
vi. The work needed to be put in place includes continuous surveillance, sharing data and building emergency response plans to protect the farmers and neighbouring countries.
About Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
♦ Headquarters: Rome, Italy
♦ Head: José Graziano da Silva
♦ Founded: 16 October 1945
Indian Coast Guard to have Joint Exercise with UAE Coast Guard
i. In an effort to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and UAE, the Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samudra Pavak made a goodwill visit at the Mina Al Rashid (Dubai Port) from February 4 to 7, 2017.
ii. The Indian Ambassador in UAE Navdeep Suri visited the Indian Navy ship on February 5, 2017. During the stay at port Rashid, a series of activities is scheduled to take place between Indian and UAE coast guard.
iii. As a part of the visit, a joint exercise is scheduled to take place between Indian coast guard and UAE coast guard to enhance co-operation and exchange of operational expertise.
iv. Besides, training and sporting events between the coast guards of both the countries will also take place.
v .Samudra Pavak or “Purifier of the Seas” is the third ship of the Pollution Control Vessel series of the Indian Coast Guard that was indigenously designed and commissioned in January 2016.
vi. The ship is equipped with state of the art technology including integrated platform managements system to monitor and control machinery parameters dynamic positioning system for precise maneuvering and positioning and power management systems for automatic control of generators.
BANKING & FINANCE
Bank of Maharashtra ties up with Cigna TTK
i. Public sector lender Bank of Maharashtra has partnered with insurance company Cigna TTK Health to market the insurer’s products in the bank’s branches across the entire country
ii. Under the agreement, the bank will offer the all of Cigna TTK’s superior health insurance products to its 2 crore customers through its network of over 1,896 branches, its 14,000 bank employees across the country as well as through its digital platforms.
Bank of Maharashtra
♦ Chairman & MD: Ravindra Prabhakar Marathe
♦ Headquarters: Pune
♦ Motto: One Family One Bank
Axis Bank ties up with Earthport
i. India’s third largest private bank, Axis Bank has tied up with Earthport Plc, a cross-border payment network, to enable faster outbound cross-border payments for its customers through Earthport’s state-of-the-art global payments network.
ii. Axis Bank has become the first bank in India to connect with Earthport’s global payments network, which spans over 60 countries.
iii. The Bank joins a growing number of major banks across the globe that can, through a single connection with Earthport, send payments seamlessly to almost any bank account in the world on behalf of their clients, while delivering a faster, more efficient and cost-effective service.
Axis Bank :
♦ CEO: Shikha Sharma
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Starts Pilot Operation in Bengaluru
i. The Ujjivan Small Finance Bank officially started its operation on February 6, 2017 with 5 pilot branches in Bengaluru. Samit Ghosh is the MD and CEO of the Ujjivan Small Finance Bank.
ii. The five pilot branches of the Ujjivan SFB would offer full services to its customers. The Small Finance Bank will test its technology, channels, people and processes for a period of one month as a part of its pilot launch.
iii. The Bank aims to launch about 14 branches by March 2017 and extend services across 457 branches in 24 states in a planned and phased manner over the next few months.
iv .The Ujjivan SFB will work to become the leading retail bank in the next five years to cater to the needs of the un-served and under-served customers.
v. Ujjivan SFB would offer an attractive rate of interest in the range of 5.5 percent to 8 percent on Fixed Deposit and Recurring Deposits. The bank will offer an interest rate of 4 percent on savings account.
vi. The Ujjivan SFB will provide unlimited access to ATM transactions on Ujjivan’s ATM network and a total of six free transactions on other bank’s ATM networks. Benefits like Biometric ATMs, RuPay Debit Card, Phone, Internet & Mobile Banking would be provided on saving account.
vii. The Non-banking financial company, Ujjivan Financial Services is the holding company of the small finance bank. It was among the 10 entities to get license from the Reserve Bank in 2016 to commence small finance banking operations.
Uber Launches Taxi Hiring Service UberHIRE
i. San Francisco-based taxi-hailing platform Uber has launched a new service under the name UberHIRE on February 6, 2017 that will enable the customers to hire the taxi for the day on hourly basis.
ii. The pilot service was launched in Kochi after which it was made available in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vizag and Nagpur.
iii. Users can make use of the service for a maximum of 12 hours a day between 6 am and 10 pm. Initially the service will accept only cash payment.
iv. UberHIRE is a time-bound facility by Uber, available on-demand, for variety of activities like exploring a new city, business travellers etc. The service would help all sections of people ranging from senior citizens, business travellers and tourists.
v. With this new service, Uber aims to expand its market base over local taxi and other ride providing firms.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Indian-Origin British Sculptor Anish Kapoor Wins $ 1 Million Israeli Prize
i. Renowned Indian-origin British sculptor Anish Kapoor was honored with the prestigious $1 million 2017 Genesis Prize on February 6, 2017 by Israel for his utmost contribution for Jewish community.
ii. However, the money received by the innovative artist would be contributed by him to help the Syrian refugees and expand Jewish engagement in the global effort to reduce the refugee crisis.
iii. The 62-year-old Anish was chosen by the prize committee headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
Qatar Suffers Lowest Ever Temperature of 1.5 Degree Celsius
i. Qatar recorded the lowest ever temperature in the history of the country on February 5, 2017 with a temperature of 1.5 degree Celsius (35 degree Fahrenheit).
ii. The Qatar Meteorology Department informed that the Gulf state was facing low temperature for the past several days due to an area of high pressure.
iii. The lowest temperature was recorded at the weather station in Abu Samra in the southwest of the country.
iv. Prior to this, the desert state recorded the lowest temperature in January 1964 at 3.8 degrees.
♦ Capital: Doha
♦ Currency: Qatari riyal
♦ Prime minister: Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Scientists Discovers Neurocalyx Calycinus Plant to Possess High Medicinal Values
i. Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) confirmed through clinical testing that Neurocalyx calycinus, a medicinal plant has multiple curative properties.
ii. Based on the knowledge of the tribal group, Cholanaickan tribe, in Kerala, who used the plant to treat inflammations and wounds, scientists discovered the healing properties of the plant.
iii. The Neurocalyx calycinus are generally found in the southern parts of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.
iv. The herbal plant helps in burn-healing, wound-healing, anti-cancer, analgesic, immuno-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, platelet-augmentation and anti-oxidant effects.
v .The test was conducted on animals which proved that the medicinal property possessed by the plant was comparable to the standard drugs for wound healing. It contains high Vitamin E content and potent cytoprotective activity in its cell.
vi. The scientists are therefore trying to develop an anti-cancer drug using the plant. It also has immuno-enhancing, platelet augmentation, and anti-oxidant potential.
Alastair Cook steps down as England Test captain
i. Alastair Cook has resigned as England Test captain after a record 59 matches in the role, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on 05-02-2017.
ii. Cook, England’s leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became the captain in August 2012 and led his country to Ashes glory on home soil in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa.
Iran Lifts Ban on American Wrestling Team
i .On February 5, 2017, Iran lifted up the ban it had imposed on United States Wrestlers, thus allowing them to participate in the Freestyle World Cup to be held in Iran in February 2017.
ii. Iran had banned the American team on February 3, 2017 after the decision of US President Donald Trump to temporarily suspend Visas to seven Muslim majority countries including Iran.
iii. However, the United States Federal Judge suspended the ban imposed by US Government on Iranian Nationals travelling to the U.S. But the Trump administration is again appealing to reinstate the travel ban.
iv. The Freestyle World Cup is to be held in the Iranian city of Kermanshah from February 16 to February 17, 2017.
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani
India Set to Host World Billiards Championship For Next Four Years
i. The Billiards and Snoooker Federation of India (BSFI) on February 6, 2017 informed that India will host the World Billiards Championship for the next four years.
ii. In 2016, the World Billiards Championship was held in Bengaluru.
iii .In the prestigious tournament, Pankaj Advani won in the 150-UP format beating Peter Gilchrist of Singapore.
iv. The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) is the central authority that deals with the growth and development of cue sports in India.