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Current Affairs Today – February 9 2017

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February

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approvals-February 8, 2017
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) on February 8, 2017 to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate by March 2019.The outlay for PMGDISHA is Rs.2,351.38 crore.
ii. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Framework Agreement between India and Vietnam on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.
iii. The Union Cabinet was also informed about the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of Cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation between India and France to ensure exchange of best practices and technology.
iv. The Union government on February 8, 2017 approved signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Senegal in the field of Health and Medicine.

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar Introduces IIM Bill In Lok Sabha
i. The Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar introduced the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha on February 9, 2017 to provide 20 prestigious Management Institutes powers to grant degrees.
ii. As per the Bill, IIMs would be declared “institutions of national importance” and the Board of Governors will be the principal executive body of each IIM. Till now IIM had been registered as societies and were unable to grant degrees, including PhD, to their students.
iii. As per the Bill, the Director of each institute will be appointed by the Board of Governors out of a panel of names recommended by a search-cum-selection committee, which too would be constituted by the Board.
iv .The Board of each institute shall consist of a chairperson, one nominee each of the Centre and the state government, four eminent persons (including a woman) distinguished in the field of education, industry, commerce, social service or public administration.
v. Two faculty members, one member from SC or ST sections and up to five persons co-opted from the alumni or who are members of the society of the existing institute would also be members of the Board. There would be at least three women members in the Board.
vi. The Governing Board of IIMs will evaluate and review the performance of the institute within first three years of establishment and thereafter at least once in every three years.
vii. These institutes will maintain proper accounts and records which would be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). A Coordination Forum would also be set up with an eminent person as its chairman to discuss issues of common interest to all the IIMs.

2017 Desert Festival Begins in Jaisalmer
i .The three day long International Desert Festival 2017 started with great enthusiasm on 8 February 2017 in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
ii .The festival was inaugurated by Jaisalmer MLA Chhotu Singh Bhati and district collector 2017 Desert Festival Begins in JaisalmerMatadin Sharma by flagging-off the shobha yatra. The procession traveled from Gadisar Lake to Shaheed Poonam Singh Stadium.
iii. Famous folk artists coming from different parts of the country performed as the procession moved further. A cavalcade of 48 camels of Border Security Force (BSF) was the major attraction on first day of the festival.
iv .Thousands of Indian and foreign nationals gather to witness the festival. The major attraction of 2017 is the women wrestling which has been introduced for the first time.
v. Other interesting events include kite flying competition, camel polo race, camel tattoo competition and the panihari matka race, camel decoration competition, shan-e-marudhara competition, tug of war, air warrior drill show by the Indian Air Force among others.

Water Resource Ministry Forms Committe to Expedite Namami Gange programme
i. A committee has been formed by the government to accelerate the process of the implementation of Namami Gange programme under which it plans to make the River Ganga free from waste by 2018.
ii .The announcement regarding the committee was made by the Union Minister of Water Resources Uma Bharti on February 8, 2017 in New Delhi while chairing the first meeting of the empowered task force on Ganga.
iii. The committee would comprise of Ministers of Water Resources, Environment and Forest, and Drinking Water and Sanitation as its members and will be responsible to meet at least once every fortnight.

India and United States Agree to Sustain Defence Partnership
i. India and the United States have agreed to maintain the pace of their partnership especially in  the area of the defence ties.
ii. The Defence Secretary James Mattis held a telephonic conversation with the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with the commitment to further strengthen the bilateral defence cooperation made in recent years.
iii .This was the first bilateral talk between the two ministers after Mattis was swron in as Defence Secretary in January 2017.
iv. With emphasis on the strategic importance of the US-India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security, the two defence ministers also affirmed their commitment to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defense efforts to include the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.
United States
♦ Capital: Washington, D.C.
♦ President: Donald Trump
♦ Currency: United States Dollar

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Ranks 43 Among 45 Nations in International Intellectual Property Index
i. In the 5th Annual International Intellectual Property Index released by US Chambers of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on February 8, 2017, India has been ranked very poor at 43rd position out of 45 countries.
ii. The 2017 International Intellectual Property Index titled ‘The Roots of Innovation’ revealed that though India showed slight improvement its performance, still it continued to lag behind the rest of the world in IP protections.
iii. Out of a total of 35 points, India could score only 8.75, even below the average score of 15.39.The Index has been topped by United States with a score of 32.6.
Top 5 Countries in International IP Index

Rank Country Score
1 United States 32.6
2 United Kingdom 32.4
3 Germany 31.9

Shawna Pandya set to Become Third Indian-Origin Women to Fly to Space
i. Shawna Pandya an Indian-origin woman will become the third woman after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams to go into space in 2018.
Shawna Pandyaii. A neurosurgeon by profession, 32-year-old Shawna Pandya is one of the only two candidates selected from 3200 brilliant people to fly into space through the Citizen Science Astronaut programme in Canada. She will fly with eight other astronauts in space missions slated to take off by 2018.
iii. Dr Shawna Pandya is a neurosurgeon working as a general physician at the Alberta University Hospital in Canada.
iv. She is preparing for two space missions. Pandya will conduct experiments in bio-medicine and medical science. She will also work on Physiological, Health, and Environmental Observations in Microgravity.

BANKING & FINANCE

Bank of America opens Automated Branches in Select Markets
iBank of America Corp has opened three completely automated branches over the past month with no working employee wherein customers can use ATMs and have video conferences with employees at other branches.
ii. Many US banks are making efforts to reduce its overall branches number to cut costs even as it opens new branches in select markets.
iii. New branches are typically smaller, employ more technology with less labour work and are aimed at selling mortgages, credit cards and auto loans rather than simple transactions such as cashing checks.
iv. The bank has opened one completely automated branch in Minneapolis and one in Denver. They are about a quarter of the size of a typical branch. Bank of America aims to open 50 to 60 such new branches over the next year.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Arundhati Bhattacharya Becomes the Ambassador for its SBI PO recruitment ad
i. State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman, Arundhati Bhattacharya has been selected as the ambassador for the advertisement seeking probationary officers for SBI bank.
ii. Half the advertisement has a smiling picture of Arundhati Bhattacharya, who herself was part of the 1977 batch of probationary officers.
iii. For 2017, SBI, India’s largest bank has planned to recruit 2,200 probationary officers.Sbi The forms for the exam are already out and will be available till March 6, 2017. Probationary Officers recruitment is a direct entry point into the bank’s management cadre.
State Bank of India
♦ Founded: 2 June 1806
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairperson: Arundhati Bhattacharya

Government Appoints 3 Non-Official Directors On RBI Central Board
i. The central government appointed three part-time Non-Official Directors on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India for a four-year term on February 9, 2017 after an approval from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
ii. The Cabinet has appointed economist Ashok Gulati, Manish Sabharwal, chairman of services provider Teamlease  and Rajiv Kumar, economist and former FICCI secretary general  as part-time Non-Official Directors on the Central Board.
iii. Earlier, government had appointed former Gujarat chief secretary Sudhir Mankad, current Tata chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran and Mahindra & Mahindra non executive chairman Bharat Doshi as non official directors in March 2016.
iv. Further, the ACC has also approved the proposal of Department of Financial Services for appointment of three Members on the Local Board of RBI.
v. Therefore Prasanna Kumar Mohanty (Southern Local Board), Vallabh Roopchand Bhanshali (Western Local Board) and Sunil Mitra (Eastern Local Board) have been appointed for four years on the local board of RBI.

Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo Elected New President of Somalia
i .Former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was declared the new President of Somalia on February 8, 2017.
ii. He won the seat after two rounds of voting and quickly took the oath of office.
iii. The dual Somali-US citizenship holder Farmaajo defeated the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud with 184 to 97 vote in the second round.
iv. Earlier, he had been appointed the country’s Prime Minister in 2010 and stayed on the job Somalia Presidentfor eight months. During his tenure, he reduced the size of the government, paid the military regularly and campaigned against corruption.
Somalia
♦ Capital: Mogadishu
♦ President: Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
♦ Currencies: United States Dollar, Somali shilling

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO Collaborates with Drishti Lifesaving to Study Killer Rip Tides
i. A team of scientist at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) along with a private lifeguard agency appointed by the Goa government is conducting a new study to understand the phenomenon of ‘killer rip tides’ to safeguard beaches in Goa.
ii. ISRO Scientists have collaborated with Drishti Lifesaving, a private agency appointed by the state tourism ministry to conduct a study titled Ripex 2017 at Space Applications Centre, ISRO Ahmedabad.
iii. A Rip Tide is a strong sea current which pulls the water away from the shore often catching unawares swimmers and people too along with it.
iv .It is one of the most common causes for drowning in the shallow waters off Goa’s popular coastline with a higher rate of incidents especially recorded at Calangute, Baga, Anjuna and Colva beaches.
v. The team tested the presence of active rips along some beaches using a specially developed device and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System and a navigation receiver.

ENVIRONMENT

Large Uranium Reserves found in Meghalaya
i.Reserves of Uranium have been found in Meghalaya  over a large area around Domiasiat, Wahkyn, Lostoin among others.
ii. The information was provided by Dr Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space on February 8, 2017.
iii. The Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) under Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has already made a plan to develop the mineral resources at Domiasiat under the name of “Kylleng Phendengsohiong Mawthabah (KPM) Uranium Mining Project”.
iv .The project has the potential to generate huge amount of nuclear fuel for the atomic power plants of the country.

SPORTS

Genzebe Dibaba Breaks World Record to Win Women’s 2000 Metres
i. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba created the world’s record by becoming the fastest athlete to Genzebe Dibaba Breaks World Record to Win Women's 2000 Metrescomplete the women’s indoor 2,000 metres at the indoor Miting Internacional de Catalunya meeting in Sabadell, Spain on February 7, 2017.
ii. The 25-year-old Dibaba completed the race in 5:23:75 seconds. With this she not only broke the previous indoor world record of 5:30.53 set by Romania’s Gabriela Szabo in 1998 but also surpassed the outdoor record of 5:25.36 set by Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan in 1994.
iii. This is the fourth consecutive year that Dibaba has set a world record indoors. She broke the indoor 1500 and 3000 records in 2014, the indoor 5000 record in 2015 and the indoor 2 mile record in 2016. Now she also owns 2000m.

Cheteshwar Pujara Breaks Record for Most Runs in an Indian first-class season
i. Cheteshwar Pujara broke the long-standing record on the first day of the Hyderabad Test match against Bangladesh on February 9, 2017 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, by taking his season tally to 1,605 in just 21 innings.
ii. Earlier the record was made by Chandu Borde in 1964-65 by scoring 1604 in 28 innings.
iii. Besides, Pujara also features twice in the top three on the list for most runs in an Indian season. He had made 1585 runs in 23 innings in 2012-13.
iv .He also has had a terrific average of 89.16 this season, and has scored 6 hundreds.

OBITUARY

Script-Writer Alan Simpson dies at 87
i. Veteran screenwriter Alan Simpson, who co-wrote the landmark British comedy series “Hancock’s Half Hour” and “Steptoe and Son”, with writing partner Ray has died at the age of 87.
ii. He was famous for his writing partnership with Ray Galton. The duo has written several scripts for TV, films and stage stars such as Peter Sellers, Leonard Rossiter and Frankie Howerd.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Rajnath Singh releases the book ‘Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand’ by Shri Vijay Kumar
i. The book titled “Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand”, authored by Shri K. Vijay Kumar, Senior Security Adviser, Ministry of Home Affairs, was released by the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Veerappan bookSingh in New Delhi on February 8, 2017.
ii. The book is a source of inspiration to understand the tactics used for wiping out the most dreaded forest brigand Veerappan on whom a prize money of Rupees 5 crores had been declared.
iii. Shri Vijay Kumar, a former 1975 batch IPS Officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre, was the Chief of the Special Task Force (STF) that was behind the killing of Veerappan during “Operation Cocoon” in 2004 resulting in the killing of Veerappan.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Deworming Day Observed on February 10, 2017
i. The Natonal Deworming Day (NDD), a School and Anganwadi based Mass Deworming Programme was observed in all the states and Union Territories of India on February 10, 2017.
ii .The day is celebrated annually on February 10 since 2015 in all the schools across India to stop the infections due to Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or worms infections among the children.
iii. NDD is implemented through combined efforts of Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
iv. Children between the age of 1 to 19 are given the safe Albendazole 400 mg chewable tablets in schools and Anganwadis as a part of the drive.
v. Infections due to Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or worms cause morbidity by adversely affecting nutritional status, impairing cognitive processes and causing complications that may require surgical intervention.
vi. The National Deworming Day 2017 aimed to cover 7.8 crore children in private schools under the one-day programme. Besides, the overall target for 2017 is to cover 34 crore children. About 4.3 crore out-of-school children will be covered through Anganwadi workers and ASHAs.
vii. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has also developed a National Deworming Day app for quick and easier data collection and reduce the probability of reporting errors.
viii. The Union Health Ministry has also established over 210 Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Centres (AMCs) across the country to manage cases of adverse drug reactions that may be caused by deworming tablets administered to kids on National Deworming Day.