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Current Affairs Today – February 8 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

India hosts Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT)
i. The Ministry of External Affairs in coordination with the Department of Atomic Energy is hosting the Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) from February 8-10, 2017 at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi.
ii. Nearly 150 delegates from various member countries and international organisations will participate in the event.
iii. India is committed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technology and promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and global nuclear non-proliferation.
iv.The meeting was inaugurated by the Foreign Secretary of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar while the concluding part would be addressed by Dr. R. B. Grover, Member, Atomic Energy Commission of India.
v. GICNT was launched in 2006 jointly by the Russian Federation and the United States. Presently it has 86 partner nations and five official observer organizations.

Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das launches UJALA scheme
i. Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das launched energy efficient fans and LED tube lights under the ‘Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All’ (UJALA) scheme in the state.
ii. The UJALA scheme is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a JV under the administration of Ministry of Power, Government of India.
iii. In Jharkhand, EESL plans to distribute more than 25 lakh LED tube lights and one lakh energy efficient fans to people on upfront payment. It is estimated that over 5.5 lakh consumers will benefit from the scheme.

Gujarat Become India’s First State to Establishes Cashless System for PDS
i. Gujarat has become the first state in India to establish Cashless system for distribution of food grain to the beneficiaries under NFSA (National Food Security Act).
ii. The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on February 8, 2017 appreciated the efforts of the state government which has installed Aadhaar Enabled Payment System in 17,250 Fair Price Shops (FPS) much before the target of March 31 as decided by the state
iii .The beneficiaries would just need to carry their Aadhaar cards for getting their food grain in Gujarat. This will help in establishing their identity, stop the leakages of grain at shop level and eradicate corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS).
iv. Besides these, the consumers will also be able to get their rail, air and bus tickets reserved, pay mobile bills, deposit crop insurance premium, LIC premium and even get the GujaratSoil Health Card and registration for Centrally Sponsored Schemes at the FPS itself.
Gujarat
Capital: Gandhinagar
♦ Chief Minister: Shri Vijay Rupani
♦ Governor: OP Kohli
♦  Animal: Asiatic lion
♦ Bird: Greater flamingo

Lok Sabha Passes Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017
i. The Lok Sabha passed the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 on February 7, 2017 which allows for payment of wages digitally or through cheque directly into the account of workers. The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill is in line with the government’s cash-less economy.
ii. The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Payment of Wages Act 1936. Once the bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha, it will also replace the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 that was promulgated by the President on December 28, 2016.
iii. The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 will enable the employers to pay wages via cheque or bank transfer directly into worker’s account without the need for worker’s written consent for the same.
iv .Earlier, under the Payment of Wages Act 1936, employers were allowed to use cheque or bank transfers to pay wages only with written authorization from the employee.
v. The amended bill will also lead to formalization of workforce and provide them social security benefits like provident fund and health insurance. The data shows that nearly 90 percent of India’s over 472 million labour market is informal where workers are deprived of the benefits of formal employment.
vi. With the digital payment, the bill will take away the employers ability to cut the wage of workers.

Commerce Ministry approves Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops
i. The Union Ministry of Commerce under Nirmala Sitharaman has approved the pilot Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC) on February 8, 2017 to protect the growers of plantation crops from the twin risks.
ii. Firstly the risks of yield loss due to adverse weather parameters, pest attacks etc and secondly income loss caused by fall in international/domestic prices.
iii. The Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops (RISPC) is an improved version of Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) Scheme, 2003 which was closed on September 30, 2013.
iv .RISPC will be implemented on a pilot basis for two years covering tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and tobacco in eight districts in West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu by the commodity boards.
v. On the basis of performance of the pilot project the Ministry will consider for extension of the scheme to other districts.

Supreme Court Issues Contempt Notice to Calcutta HC judge CS Karnan
i. In a first of its kind move, the Supreme Court has issued a contempt notice on a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court, Justice CS Karnan for making allegations of corruptions CS Karanagainst the Supreme Court and Madras High Court judges.
ii. A seven judge bench of the apex court also took away all the administrative and judicial powers of Justice Karnan, directing him to return all judicial and administrative files in his possession to Registrar General of Calcutta HC.
iii .Justice Karnan had written letters to the Prime Minister, Law Minister, Chief Justice of India, judges of SC and others levelling allegations of corruption against the Supreme Court and Madras High Court judges.
iv. The show cause notice has been issued by the Supreme Court giving February 13 as the last date to Karnan to reply to the notice and asked him to remain present in person to defend charges against him.

Railway Ministry Launches First Phase of the Station Redevelopment Program
i. The Ministry of Railways launched the first phase of Station Redevelopment Programme on February 8, 2017 for commercial development of 23 stations across India. The total outlay of the project in the first phase is expected to be worth Rs 9,000 crore.
ii .The 23 stations in the first phase of redevelopment includes Chennai Central, Ranchi, Udaipur, Indore, Yesvantpur, Bangalore Cantonment, Visakhapatnam, Howrah, Kamakhya, Faridabad, Jammu Tawi, Secunderabad, Vijayawada, Kozhikode and Bhopal.
iii .Under the Station Redevelopment Programme, the Railway will take up 400 A1 and A stations for redevelopment through public private partnership (PPP) at an estimated cost of Rs 1 lakh crore.
iv. Besides, the Railway Ministry is also trying to partner with the Ministry of Urban Development to develop smart stations in identified smart cities.
v. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu informed that several pension funds, investors, international organisations like World Bank along with various state governments are also involved in the project.
vi. The redeveloped stations will provide amenities like digital signage, escalators, self-ticketing counters, executive lounges, restaurants, malls, theaters and Wi-Fi facility.

HRD Ministry Constitutes Sub-Panel of CABE to Boost Girls’ Education
i. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has constituted a sub-committee of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) under Chairmanship of Telangana’s Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari to look into issues related to girls education
ii. With the consultations of the Central/state governments and other stakeholders, the sub-committee will submit its report to the Union government within one year from the date of its constitution.
iii. The other members of the sub-committee include: Minister for Finance and Planning Assam, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Dr. Neera Yadav, Minister for Social Education and Literacy Development, Jharkhand. Besides, Rina Ray, Additional Secretary, School Education, MHRD, will be the member secretary.
iv .The sub-committee would be responsible to examine the reasons for low participation oz girls in education including the socio-economic factors and suggest ways to reduce gender disparity
v. It will assess the current status of girls’ enrolment across the country at primary, upper primary, secondary education and senior secondary levels in rural-urban areas.
vi .Besides, it will also examine the existing schemes, measures and incentives in use to enhance girls’ participation and ensure their retention in education and suggest improvements and modifications in the existing schemes.
vii. The committee will further look into the issues of safety of girl students in schools, particularly in residential schools and hostels and identify infrastructure gaps.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Dubai Gets first Women Commercial Pilot from Royal Family
i. Shaikha Mozah Al Maktoum, one of the female members of the ruling family of Dubai, Dubaihas become the first woman commercial pilot of Dubai.
ii. The announcement was made by her family members on Instagram saying that she was on her first assisted flight as a commercial pilot for Emirates.
iii. However it is not yet clear that for which airline the female pilot is currently working for but the pictures on the Instagram suggests that the uniform looks similar to the one worn by Emirates pilots.
iv .Sheikha Mozah received her wings certificate in April 2016, after completing the APP First Officer programme at the CAE Oxford Aviation Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.

BANKING & FINANCE

Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Review of RBI for 2016-17
i. The Reserve Bank of India announced its sixth bimonthly monetary policy review for 2016-17, on February 8, 2017 and has maintained its status quo with key policy rate unchanged.
ii. On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation in the country, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep the key rates unchanged.
iii. The RBI has projected GDP growth in the current fiscal at 6.9 percent. It expects the growth to recover sharply in 2017-18 and reach 7.4 percent.
iv. Reserve Bank of India on February 8, 2017 informed about its decision to set up a separate Enforcement Department to effectively monitor bank in case they violate regulations. The Enforcement Department will start operations from April 1, 2017. 
v. RBI has announced that from March 13, 2017, there would be no limit on cash withdrawal.

Federal Bank Inks Pact with Commodity Online for Loans Against Warehouse Receipts
i. Private sector lender Federal Bank Limited has partnered with Commodity Online, a leading online data and information portal for the distribution of loans against warehouse receipts and collateral management services across the country.
ii. Commodity Online will launch an agri-commodity financing platform through its portal www.commodityonline.com.
iii. The partnership will enable Federal Bank to digitally provide financing for agri-commodities with collateral management across India.
iv .The farmers and traders with the help of the portal can track commodity markets and warehouses online as per their convenience and eventually get financing for their commodities quickly.

HDFC & Kotak Mahindra Bank Goes Live on Bharat Bill Payment System
i. The Private sector lenders HDFC Bank started operating its Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) on February 7, 2017 to ease the bill payment service for the customers.
ii .Along with HDFC, Kotak Mahindra Bank also went live with the BBPS service.
iii. BBPS was introduced by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a centralized payment platform that offers speed and convenience to pay all types of bills.
iv .A customer can pay multiple bills from a single platform without the need of visiting multiple websites or issuing individual cheques, or also registering billers with her bank for standard instructions for debit.
v. The BBPS offers integrated and interoperable bill payment service with security, certainty and reliability of transactions.
vi. The service is available in multiple payment modes, online and through a network of agents. An instant confirmation is generated for the bill payments. The BBPS will transform the society from cash to electronic payment system, making it less dependent on cash.
National Payments Corporation of India
National Payments Corporation of India is the umbrella organisation for all retail payment Bharat Bill Payment Systemsystems in India, which aims to allow all Indian citizens to have unrestricted access to e-payment services.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 2008
♦ MD & CEO: A.P Hota
♦ Chairman: Balachandran.M

Bank of Baroda & IFFCO Signs Pact to Launch Co-Branded Debit Card
i. Fertiliser major IFFCO and Bank of Baroda have signed an MoU on February 7, 2017 to launch co-branded debit cards for farmers in a bid to promote cashless transactions in the rural area.
ii. The MoU was signed by Yogendra Kumar, General Manager (Marketing), IFFCO and GB Panda, General Manager (government relationships), Bank of Baroda.
iii .Under the MoU, Bank of Baroda will open Aadhaar-enabled accounts of farmers and issue co-branded debits card to the specified farmers with overdraft facility of Rs 2,500 per card.
iv. With the help of the card farmers can purchase agri-inputs from the IFFCO and its subsidiary on credit period of one month and at an attractive interest rate.
v. Besides, IFFCO would take the guarantee of the total outstanding amount of any of the farmers default due to various reasons.
vi. The MoU aims to issue 2 lakh co-branded debit cards to selected farmers on the basis of the recommendation of its authorised representative. Initially, the co-branded cards will be given to the farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh after which rest of the states would be covered.
vii. BOB will also provide 2500 PoS machines initially at the various locations across India recommended by IFFCO.
Bank of Baroda
♦ Headquarters: Vadodara
♦ CEO: P. S. Jayakumar
♦ ‎Founded: 20 July 1908

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Hyderabad Surgeon Raghu Ram Honored with B C Roy Award
i. Hyderabad based Dr P Raghu Ram, President of Association of Breast Surgeons of India (ABSI) has been honored with the prestigious Dr B C Roy National Award for ‘outstanding service in the field of socio medical relief’ for the year 2016.
ii. The award will be conferred upon Ram by President Pranab Mukherjee on July 1, 2017 which is also observed as National Doctors Day.
iii. Dr Ram was honored for his significant contribution towards improving the delivery of breast health care in India and creating the much needed awareness about importance of early detection of breast cancer in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh through a number of initiatives.
iv. He is the youngest surgeon ever from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to have been selected for the award.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

SoftBank’s COO quits boards of Ola, Snapdeal and Housing
Softbank's Group COO Jonathan Bullock quits Snapdeal, Ola Boardsi. SoftBank Group’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jonathan Bullock has resigned from the boards of Ola and Snapdeal due to “personal reasons and other obligations”.
ii. He also resigned from the board of Housing, citing a regulatory filing. SoftBank’s Managing Director David Thevenon is likely to replace Bullock and join the boards of Ola and Snapdeal. 

Kings XI Punjab appoint Satish Menon as CEO
Kings XI Punjab have appointed Satish Menon as Chief Executive Officer and Rajeev Khanna as the Chief Operating Officer of the franchise for the upcoming season of Indian Premiere League (IPL).

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO Indigenously Develops Telemetry and Telecommand Processor
i .The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) informed that the indigenous development of Telemetry & Telecommand Processor (TTCP) has been realised and now with the help of Indian industry its productionisation will be initiated.
ii. The indigenously developed Processor was successfully deployed in checkout of GSAT-19 which is scheduled to be launched shortly.
iii. The processor will replace the expensive imported equipment. Its indigenous development was taken up by ISRO as part of ‘Make in India’ campaign
iv. The TTCP processor will be used in Integrated Spacecraft Testing of Low Earth Orbit, Geostationary Orbit and Interplanetary Spacecraft.
v. This system has been designed to meet uplink and downlink requirements of both CCSDS (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems) and ISRO standards, and multiple clients can remotely access this system for data and monitoring.
The Indian Space Research Organisation
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru
♦ Founded: 15 August 1969
♦ Director: A. S. Kiran Kumar

Researchers Forms Stable Compound Na2He of Helium and Sodium
i. An international team of researchers from China, Russia, and the United States conducted computer modeling to create a thermodynamically stable compound of sodium and the noble gas helium, Na2He, which has a fluorite-type structure and is stable at high Heiumpressures.
ii. The result was published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
iii. Noble gasses got their name because they were thought not to mix with the other elements and forming no compounds. However, with this experiment, the study of chemistry gets a big change in noble gas theory.
iv .Prof. Boldyrev and his colleagues performed a large-scale computational search for possible stable compounds of helium with a variety of elements (H, O, F, Na, K, Mg, Li, Rb, Cs and so on).
v. They found that only sodium readily forms a stable compound with helium at pressures accessible to static experiments.

SPORTS

Delhi batsman Mohit Ahlawat becomes first to score 300 in T20s
i. 21-year-old Mohit Ahlawat became the first batsman in the world to score a 300 in a T20 match on February 7, 2017.
ii. While the match had no official status and was only a local match played in Delhi.