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For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is Current Affairs In India, we are covering the 2018 February current affairs including politics current affair, current affair news, science current affairs, general knowledge current affair, current government affair and international current affairs. Only studying India's current affairs or political current affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and current affairs along with the Indian current affairs, as well as those in the field of science and sports.

Current Affairs - February 2019


Current Affairs February 03 to February 09

International Current News

  • Iran: It is also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Iran has announced the successful flight test of its new Hoveizeh long-range cruise missile. The announcement has coincided with celebrations for the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. According to an official, 'The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 km and accurately hit the set target. The Hoveizeh, part of the Soumar family of cruise missiles unveiled in 2015, has a range of over 1,350 km (840 miles) and is designed to be used against ground targets. Cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 km are classified as long range. The Hoveizeh missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at a low altitude. An undated video released by the defense ministry showed the Hoveizeh being test-fired from a mobile launcher. Hoveizeh is manufactured by the Aerospace Industries Organization and will be used by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force. Iran began ten days of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution which deposed the monarch Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • Macedonia: It is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.Macedonia has signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. At a formal signing of the NATO accession protocol, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hailed the moment as showing that the country will never walk alone once in the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance. However, Moscow has continually rejected NATO's position, saying that by taking in Balkan members, the alliance is undermining security in the region. The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.
  • Thailand: It is a Southeast Asian country. It's known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha.Siamese fighting fish has been named Thailand’s national aquatic animal. Known in the Western World as a betta fish, the underwater brawler is popular in home aquariums for its iridescent body and many-hued tail. According to an official statement, cabinet of Thailand greenlighted a proposal for the fighting fish to be the national fish, citing its historical and cultural significance. It brings up feelings of nostalgia for older generations in Thailand – which changed its name from Siam in 1939. They remember a time when the fish were traded and sparred in childhood games. Children looking for the fish today will mostly see it in pet shops.

National Current News

  • Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2019: It is a new amendment which makes film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fines that may extend to 10 lakh or both. The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Cinematograph Act for imposing strict penalties to combat the menace of film piracy. To check piracy, particularly the release of pirated versions of films on the internet which causes huge losses to the film industry and the exchequer, the government has proposed to make film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fines that may extend to Rs. 10 lakh or both. The proposed amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.
  • Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018: It is a new Bill which makes a deposit-taking scheme will be considered unregulated if it is not registered with regulators such as Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), RBI, SEBI, among others. Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to amend Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018. According to an official statement, 'The Bill contains a substantive banning clause which bans deposit takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme. The principle is that the Bill would ban unregulated deposit taking activities altogether, by making them an offence ex-ante rather than the existing legislative-cum-regulatory framework which only comes into effect ex-post with considerable time lags'. According to the Bill, there will be three different types of offences -running of unregulated deposit schemes, fraudulent default in regulated deposit schemes, and wrongful inducement in relation to unregulated deposit schemes..
  • Aadhaar: It is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. Supreme Court has made linkage of PAN with Aadhaar is mandatory for filing of Income Tax returns. The order was delivered by a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer said the top court has decided the matter and upheld the section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. The court's direction came on an appeal filed by the Centre against a Delhi High Court order allowing two people, Shreya Sen and Jayshree Satpute, to file Income Tax returns for 2018-19 without linking their Aadhaar and PAN numbers. The bench said, 'The aforesaid order was passed by the High Court having regard to the fact that the matter was pending consideration in this Court. Thereafter, this Court has decided the matter and upheld the vires of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act. In view thereof, linkage of PAN with Aadhaar is mandatory. We therefore make it clear that for the assessment year 2019-20, the income tax return shall be filed in terms of the judgment passed by this court. The special leave petition is disposed of in the above terms'.
  • National Virtual Library of India: It is a comprehensive database on digital resources of India on information about India in an open access environment. A fund of Rs 72.34 crore had been entrusted to IIT Bombay (in collaboration with C-DAC, Pune and IGNOU, Delhi).The objective of National Virtual Library of India (NVLI) is to facilitate creation of a comprehensive database on digital resources of India on information about India in an open access environment. Salient features of NVLI are, federated searching through multilingual user interfaces, virtual learning environment, E-Governance platform facilitating data analytics, multilingual searching and retrieval on ontology/thesaurus based. The project of creation of National Virtual Library of India costing Rs 72.34 crore had been entrusted to IIT Bombay (in collaboration with C-DAC, Pune and IGNOU, Delhi). An amount of Rs 71.78 crore has been released by Government to IIT Bombay till date. The core software application and cloud infrastructure for NVLI has been developed. Soft launch of NVLI has been done on 15th February, 2018.
  • AIIMS: It is the acronym for All India Institutes of Medical Sciences are a group of autonomous public medical colleges of higher education. These institutes have been declared by an Act of Parliament as Institutes of National Importance. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stones for two All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Vijaypur and Awantipora Jammu and Kashmir. According to an official source, the state government has also constituted a high-level panel, headed by chief secretary, to address all issues relating to establishment of these institutes. Nearly, Rs 2,000 crore each has been sanctioned for establishment of AIIMS at Vijaypur and Awantipora under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan.
  • Shehri Samridhi Utsav: It is a scheme launched to boost SHG groups by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The initiative aims to extend the outreach of Deendayal Antyodaya Mission – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), to the most vulnerable, showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of Self-Help Group (SHG) members to the other government schemes.This was launched across the country earlier this week. Shehri Samriddhi Utsav began with a series of rallies led by women’s’ SHGs, across the length and breadth of the country. These rallies spread awareness about DAY-NULM in urban poor communities. Job melas and fairs to market the products made by women microentrepreneurs were also organized by many states, and will continue over the next two weeks. Through Shehri Samridhi Utsav, SHG members across cities are being linked to national government schemes viz. Swachchh Bharat Mission (U), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (U), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana and National Nutrition Mission.
  • NMDFC: It is an acronym for National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC). The objective of the body is to promote economic activities amongst the backward sections of notified minorities. The schemes of National Minority Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) are being implemented for the socio-economic development of the ‘backward sections’ amongst the notified minorities through the State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by the respective State Governments/UT Administration. For availing assistance under NMDFC schemes, the annual family income eligibility criterion under Credit Line-1 is Rs.98,000 for rural areas & Rs.1.20 lacs for urban areas. Higher annual family income eligibility criterion of upto Rs.6.00 lacs has also been introduced as Credit Line-2, for increasing coverage of beneficiaries under NMDFC schemes.
  • Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog: It is a new scheme approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny. The setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will lead to conservation, protection and development of cattle population in the country including development and conservation of indigenous breeds. It will result in increased growth of livestock sector which is more inclusive, benefitting women, and small and marginal farmers. The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will work in collaboration with Veterinary, Animal Sciences or Agriculture University or departments or organizations of the Central/State Government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cow, organic manure, biogas etc. The creation of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog for the conservation, protection and development of cows and their progeny will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows. It is in pursuance of the announcement of setting up of the Aayog in the Union Budget 2019-20.
  • NIFEM Bill 2019: It is an acronym for National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the introduction of National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019. The objective of the bill is to confer the status of Institutions of National Importance to National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) at Kundli, Haryana, and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The legislation would provide for functional autonomy to the institutes to design and develop courses, undertake research activities and leverage enhanced status in their academic pursuits, so that they become world class institutes. The institutes would implement the reservation policy of the Government and would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefits of concerned stakeholders. It would enable the institutes to provide world class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.

Science and Technology Current News

  • ISRO: It is an acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the space agency of the Government of India. India will launch its latest communication satellite onboard European launch services provider Arianespaces launch vehicle on February 6 from French Guiana. Weighing about 2,535 kg, the Indian satellite, GSAT-31, will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites. The satellite derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series, the space agency said, adding that it provides Indian mainland and island coverage. GSAT-31 is the country's 40th communication satellite which is configured on ISRO's enhanced 'I-2K Bus', utilising the maximum bus capabilities of this type. This satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit. With a mission life of around 15 years, GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications. It also provides wide beam coverage to facilitate communication over large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, using a wide band transponder.

Economics

  • Cement Industry – India 2018: It is a compendium on the Indian Cement Industry released Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu. The compendium has been prepared by National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM), in association with cement section of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). It contains key information about technology development, challenges and opportunities for Indian cement industry along with an exhaustive directory of cement plants in India. The Indian cement industry is the second largest in the world with an installed capacity of 509 million tonnes per annum in 2018 and cement production of 298 million tonnes in 2018 with 143 integrated cement plants, 102 grinding units, 5 clinkerisation units and 62 mini cement plants in the country.
  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI): It is India's central banking institution, which controls the issuance and supply of the Indian rupee fines three banks for non-compliance of norms. RBI has announced that it has imposed a total penalty of Rs 2.2 crore on private sector lender Axis Bank in two separate cases. A penalty of Rs 2 crore has also been imposed on UCO Bank and Rs 1 crore on Syndicate Bank for violation of norms. The RBI said penalty of Rs 2 crore has been imposed each on Axis Bank and UCO Bank for non-compliance of norms related to payment through cheques. In another case, a penalty of Rs 20 lakh has been imposed on Axis Bank for contravention of the directions related to detection and impounding of counterfeit notes. The penalty on Syndicate Bank has been imposed for violation of guidelines related to checking fraud and managing risk. The RBI, however, said the action on banks is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

Current Affairs February 10 to February 16

International Current News

  • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) : It is a status accorded to an international trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between all partner countries of the WTO. A country which provides MFN status to another country has to provide concessions, privileges, and immunity in trade agreements. It is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Indian government has withdrawn 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan. Making the annoucement, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the Ministry of External Affairs will initiate all possible steps to ensure complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan, which is expected to have a hand in the attack carried out by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Hungary: It is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Its capital, Budapest, is bisected by the Danube River. Hungary is planning to offer life tax exemption for women with 4 or more kids. Aiming to encourage women to have more children and resolve the declining population, Hungary’s government has announced a series of benefits for women. Making the announcement Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, highlighted a series of benefits. The benefits include a lifetime personal income-tax exemption for women who give birth and raise at least four children; a subsidy of 2.5 million forints (USD 8,825) toward the purchase a seven-seat vehicle for families with three or more children; and a low-interest loan of 10 million forints (USD 35,300) for women under age 40 who are marrying for the first time. Orban, who has made zero tolerance for immigration his main theme in the past four years and was elected to a third consecutive term in April, said the initiative is meant to ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation.
  • Abu Dhabi: It is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, sits off the mainland on an island in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has added Hindi as the third official language to be spoken in the city's courts, alongside Arabic and English. According to a release from ADJD, this step was aimed at helping foreigners to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier, in addition to facilitating registration procedures via unified forms available through the Department's website. Making the annoucement, Yousef Saeed Al Abri, undersecretary of the ADJD said, 'The adoption of multilingual interactive forms for claim sheets, grievances and requests, aims to promote judicial services and increase the transparency of litigation procedures. This is in addition to facilitating registration procedures to the public through simplified and easy forms and raising litigants' legal awareness via interactive forms of the statements of claims, to ensure access to the legal materials related to the subject of the dispute. The adoption of new languages comes as part of the bilingual litigation system, the first phase of which was launched in November 2018, through the adoption of procedures requiring the plaintiffs to translate case documents in civil and commercial lawsuits into English, if the defendant is a foreigner. One must note that United Arab Emirates' population of over 9 million people, 88.5 per cent are expatriate workers. Indians account for 38 per cent of the UAE population.
  • Norway: It is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change today signed a letter of Intent establishing the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative together with the Norwegian ministry of Foreign Affairs. In January, 2019, the Indian and Norwegian governments agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a MoU and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue during the Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India in January. A joint Task Force on Blue Economy with government officials, researchers and experts as well as private sector was established to develop sustainable solutions within strategic areas of the blue economy, such as maritime and marine sector in addition to energy sector. In partnership, Norway and India will share experiences and competence, and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy. Both the governments launched the first Joint initiative under this new partnership. The India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.

National Current News

  • Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Bill: It is also known as The Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The bill was passed in Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Culture, Mr. Mahesh Sharma, on December 28, 2018. It amends the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951. The Act provides for the erection of a National Memorial in memory of those killed or wounded on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. In addition, it creates a Trust to manage the National Memorial. Composition of Trust: Under the 1951 Act, the Trustees of the Memorial include: (i) the Prime Minister, as Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Indian National Congress, (iii) the Minister in-charge of Culture, (iv) the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, (v) the Governor of Punjab, (vi) the Chief Minister of Punjab, and (vii) three eminent persons nominated by the central government. The Bill amends this provision to remove the President of the Indian National Congress as a Trustee. Further, it clarifies that when there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha will be the Trustee.
  • Gujjar: The Gurjars are classified as Other Backward Class (OBC) in some of India's States and UTs; in Jammu and Kashmir and some parts of Himachal Pradesh they are categorised as a Scheduled Tribe.Rajasthan Assembly has passed a bill giving a five per cent quota in government jobs and educational institutes to the Gujjars and four other communities agitating for it. The Gujjar protests led by community leader Kirori Singh Bainsla continued in the state for the sixth day even after the bill was passed. Gujjar protesters have blocked the Delhi-Mumbai railway track in Sawai Madhopur district and several highways for few days. Traffic is also held up on several roads in the state. Bainsla said the community will wait for more clarity on the bill before calling off the stir. The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced by the new Congress government earlier in the day. The bill sought to increase the backward classes' reservation from the present 21 per cent to 26 per cent with a five per cent quota for Gujjars, Banjaras, Gadia Lohars, Raikas and Gadaria communities. The statement on the objective and reasons for the bill said the five castes are the most backward and required separate reservation in government jobs and educational institutes.
  • District Cooling System: It is a system which distributes thermal energy in the form of chilled water from a central source to multiple buildings through a network of underground pipes for use in space cooling. India's first district cooling system will be installed in Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh). According to an official release, UAE-based cooling solutions utility, National Central Cooling Company PJSC (Tabreed) has entered into a 30-year concession with Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) to build, own, operate and transfer India's first district cooling system in Amaravati. The agreement is for a contracted cooling capacity of 20,000 refrigeration tons (RTs). Tabreed's district cooling system will cater to the state's assembly, high court, secretariat and other government buildings currently being constructed, for which cooling services will start in early 2021.
  • Union Public Service Commission (UPSC ) : UPSC has recommended government of India to recruit people who failed in interview round. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) chairman Arvind Saxena has recently recommended the central government and ministries to recruit people who fail in the interview round in Civil Services and other examinations. If implemented, the new rule will help UPSC aspirants in getting government job even if they fail to clear the interview round. In the conference, Arvind Saxena said nearly 11 lakh candidates apply for the Civil Services Examination each year but only half of them appear for the preliminary examination. Further, number candidates decreases through examination stages and in the end only 600 candidates remain. In order to reduce the tension and suffering, the government should consider recruiting from the list of students passing through these difficult selection procedures to other ministries. In 2018, about 8 lakh candidates had applied for the CSE prelims, out of which only about 10,500 candidates have qualified for the main exams, all competing for a mere 780 vacancies.
  • Maithili: It is an Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian subcontinent, mainly spoken in India and Nepal. In India, it is spoken in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Government of India is planning to take immediate steps to protect Maithili language. Decision has taken after report submitted by a committee constituted by Ministry of Human Resource Development constituted a Committee in 2018 for making a report for the Promotion and Protection of Maithili Language and its scripts. The report was examined in the Ministry and it has been decided to take immediate action on some of the recommendations of the committee as follows: To establish a Script and Manuscript Centre at Darbhanga in any one of the Universities viz. Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University or Lalit Narayan Mithila Unviersity. Early completion of the work pertaining to Unicode Scripts of Mithilakshar by Technology Development of Indian Languages (TDIL) and to prepare audio-visual teaching materials for teaching the Mithilakshar scripts.
  • Dikkibandi Stadium: It is the stadium in Meghalaya. The Meghalaya government has decided to rename the Dikkibandi stadium in Tura town after former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma. The decision was taken after the state Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma approved the recommendations received from the state naming authority tasked with the job to name roads, and institutions after personalities. The Home minister said the Dikkibandi Stadium (formerly known as MP stadium) and a junction leading to AMPT road in Tura have been renamed after P A Sangma. Purno A Sangma is also a former chief minister of Meghalaya. He was elected from the Tura Lok Sabha seat a number of times.
  • DD Arunprabha: It is the newly launched satellite exclusively for Arunachal Pradesh. It is the 24th satellite channel operated by Doordarshan. It is equipped with state of the art facilities, including a Digital Satellite News Gathering unit to provide live coverage from remote locations, for 24x7 telecast. The playout facility and the earth stations established at DDK Itanagar will ensure seamless transmission of DD Arunprabha.
  • Health Ministry: It is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. Government has notifies eight medical equipments as drugs. It includes all implantable devices, as 'drugs' under Section 3 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, with effect from April 1, 2020. The medical equipment include all implantable medical devices, CT scan, MRI equipment, defibrillators, dialysis machine, PET equipment, X-ray machine and bone marrow cell separator. According to a notification,'In pursuant of sub-clause (IV) of clause (b) of section 3 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, the central government after consultation with the drugs technical advisory board hereby specifies the following devices intended for use in human beings as drugs with effect from the first day of April 2020 namely -- all implantable medical devices, CT scan equipment, MRI equipment, defibrillators, dialysis machine, PET equipment, xray machine and bone marrow cell separator'. A majority of medical devices are unregulated in India. This move is important for patient's safety as with this notification, all implantable and diagnostic devices will come under the regulatory framework.
  • Lighthouse project: It is a new initiative launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. According to the scheme the ministry has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under GHTC-India. The ministry encourages all States/ UTs to participate in this challenge proactively. The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects. The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects as per PMAY (U) guidelines. In addition to this, a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) for the States/ UTs is provisioned to offset the impact of any additional cost implication due to the use of new technology and to absorb the issues related to economies of scale and other related factors. The selected sites for lighthouse projects will be used as an ‘open laboratory’ for live demonstration and will receive due attention from academia (Civil Engineering, Planning, Architecture), practitioners (Public/ Private), policy makers (Central/ State) and media apart from felicitation/ recognition in Grand Expo-cum-Conference.
  • National Cancer Institute: It is new hospital facility inaugurated in Badhsa in Jhajjar district, Haryana at the cost of Rs 2,035 crore. The state-of-the-art tertiary cancer care-cum-research institute, constructed on the AIIMS Jhajjar campus, will have facilities such as 700 beds, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, anaesthesia, palliative care and nuclear medicine, besides hostel rooms for doctors and attendants of cancer patients.

Defence

  • Naval Utility Helicopter: It is a helicopter that is either specifically built or converted for use by Naval forces. The Defence Ministry has issued Expression of Interest to shortlist potential Indian strategic partners and foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for the Indian Navy at an estimated cost of over Rs 21,000 crore. These Naval Utility Helicopters will replace Chetak Helicopters and will be utilised for albeit SAR, CASEVAC (Casualty evacuation), Low Intensity Maritime Operations (LIMO), passenger roles and torpedo drops. The procurement of the helicopters was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on August 25, 2018. According to official release, the project will provide impetus to ‘Make in India’ initiative and manufacturing capability for helicopters in India. Of 111, 95 helicopters will be manufactured in India itself by the selected Indian Strategic Partner through the Strategic Partnership model. Under the Strategic Partnership model, private Indian firms will be roped in to build select military platforms in partnership with foreign defence manufacturers.
  • Defence Innovation Hubs: It is a framework established for managing independent Defence Innovation Hubs (DIHs). These DIHs will serve as platforms where innovators can get information about needs and feedback from the Services directly and create solutions for India’s major defence platforms. This structure is also geared towards attracting more innovators to work for the defence sector in India. The Defence Innovation Organisation set up under iDEX has announced setting up of two DIHs in Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore) and Maharashtra (Nashik). The Framework to Fund Defence Innovation Hubs under iDEX, approved by the Board of Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) prescribes the following minimum criterion for setting up Defence Innovation Hubs: Any Central Government recognized Incubator including but not limited to, Department of Science and Technology (DST) recognized Incubators. Atal Innovation Mission, NITIAayog created Atal Incubation Centers (AICs) and Established Incubation Centers (EICs).
  • Ramjet propelled Missile: It is a form of air breathing jet engine that uses the engine's forward motion to compress incoming air without an axial compressor or a centrifugal compressor.Defence Ministry has successfully launched its indigenously developed Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) a propulsion-based missile system was successfully. According to an official release, 'Flight tested in Odisha by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The success of SFDR propulsion technology is a significant milestone and will pave the way for development of long-range air-to-air missiles in the country. The ground booster, separation of ground booster and nozzle-less-booster performance were found satisfactory during the trial conducted in the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore district. The missile system was guided to high-altitude to simulate aircraft release conditions and subsequently nozzle-less-booster was ignited. The SFDR-based missile accelerated to achieve the ramjet Mach number successfully. The trajectory was tracked by telemetry and radar stations till touchdown and all the mission objectives have been met. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the DRDO and associated team members for this 'stupendous mission'.
  • Chinook Helicopters: Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that will provide the Indian armed forces with unmatched strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions. India has received the first batch of Chinook helicopters, out of the 15 procured from US. According to a release, the multi-mission, heavy-lift transport helicopter was delivered at the Mudra port in Gujarat after it was initially handed over to the Indian authorities in the United States earlier this week. They will be formally inducted into the Indian Air Force later this year. The company had delivered the helicopter in the presence of Indian ambassador to the US Harsh Shringla during the ‘India-Chinook Transfer Ceremony’. The helicopter will be used by the Air Force to move and transport troops, cargo, artillery, ammunition supplies and equipments across the length and breadth of the country. The procurement of the machine is in line with modernisation push of its helicopter fleet by the Indian Air Force.

Current Affairs February 17 to February 23

International Current News

  • Sweden: It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains. India and Sweden have signed a security protection agreement that will enable the two countries to share classified information with each other. According to an official statement, the agreement was signed during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to the Nordic country. Sitharaman also met Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and her Swedish counterpart Peter Hultqvist. The purpose of the visit was to sign a security protection agreement between Sweden and India. The signing of the security protection agreement between Sweden and India will enable both countries to share classified information with each other. Sweden has had similar agreements with over 30 countries around the world, as well as with the EU and NATO.
  • 'Fateh' Submarine: It is a locally-made submarine capable of firing cruise missiles developed by Iran. Named the Fateh (Farsi for 'Conqueror'), the new submarine is Iran's first in the semi-heavy category, filling a gap between the light Ghadir class and the heavy Kilo class submarines that the country possesses. 600-tonne underwater vessel is equipped with torpedoes and naval mines in addition to cruise missiles, and can operate more than 200 metres below sea level for up to 35 days.It should be noted that Iran's Revolutionary Guards on February 7 unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles). The surface-to-surface missile -- called Dezful -- is an upgrade on the older Zolfaghar model that had a range of 700 kilometres.
  • Argentina: It is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. India and Argentina inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost cooperation in the sector of nuclear energy. Argentina minister for foreign affairs Jorge Faurie said his country has expertise in building small-capacity reactors and was looking to work with India in some third country in tripartite projects. According to a joint statment, PM Narendra and Argentine President Mauricio Macri have signed the MoU signed on the occasion between the Department of Atomic Energy, India, and National Atomic Energy Commission, Argentina, for cooperation within the framework of Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership would bolster institutional linkages in civil nuclear research, development and capacity building. The two countries also wished to enhance and explore cooperative ventures in the area of nuclear power and its societal uses in the fields of health, agriculture, industrial application, training and capacity building. India and Argentina had signed an agreement in 2010 for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Argentine company INVAP is working on the Fission Molly Project to build a molybdenum plant in Mumbai. Faurie said the plant focuses on creating isotopes. Argentina also manufactures some components used in Indian power reactors.
  • US Space Force: It is a new defence force proposed by US President Donald Trump. United States has decided to created a US Space Force, a new branch of the military dedicated to handling threats in space. US President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 4, which puts in place the foundation for a legislative initiative that could establish a Space Force as a new military service comparable to the US Marines. The memo directs the Department of Defense to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space through the establishment of Space Force that would be part of the Air Force. Establishing the Space Force will require Congressional approval. Space Force would be an armed branch of the military and include both combat and combat support functions to enable prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations. Experts feel that the establishment of Space Force was still a long way off, including intricate details of how we move forward in establishing this service within the Department of the Air Force. From a war-fighting perspective the most important step that we take going forward, and the one that we need to do the quickest, is to establish a US Space Command as a combatant commander. The Air Force is the US military branch that currently has responsibility for space.

National Current News

  • Indian Stamp Act, 1899: It is an in-force Act of the Government of India for the charging of stamp duty on instruments recording transactions. Aiming to curb tax evation and harmonise stamp duty President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to changes in the Indian Stamp Act, 1899. The Amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899, were introduced as part of the Finance Act 2019, and was approved by Parliament. The amendments propose to create the legal and institutional mechanism to enable States to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency (through the Stock Exchanges or Clearing Corporations authorised by the stock exchange or by the Depositories), the Finance Ministry. A mechanism for appropriately sharing the stamp duty with relevant State governments based on state of domicile of the buying client is also proposed. Subsequent to the enactment of the Act, it is proposed to create a Coordination Council under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution by a separate order/notification of the President.
  • All India Citizens Survey of Police Services: It is a pan-India survey commissioned by Bureau of Police Research and Development. The survey will be conducted through the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. The survey is aimed to understand public perceptions about Police, gauge the level of non-reporting of crimes or incidents to Police, the position on ground relating to crime reporting and recording, timeliness and quality of police response and action, and to assess citizens' perception and experience about women and children’s safety. The survey will commence in March, 2019 and cover a representative sample of 1.2 lakh households spread over 173 districts across the country, based on the National Sample Survey framework. All States and UTs would be included in this survey. The survey will be completed in 9 months. The outcome of the survey is expected to bring out useful suggestions for stakeholders in formulating and implementing appropriate policy responses and changes in the functioning of police at the cutting edge and for improving crime prevention and investigation, transformation in community policing, improvement in the access to the justice and increased/ appropriate resource allocation for police in a systematic manner.
  • Operation Digital Board: It is a new initiative launched to leverage technology in order to boost quality education in the country. As per the scheme, a digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9th onwards as well as in higher education institutions. The process will begin from the coming session of 2019 itself. He further said that ODB aims at converting a class room into a digital class room and in addition to availability of e-resources at any time and at any place to students, it will also help in provisioning of personalised adaptive learning as well as Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics. An expert committee has worked out optimum configuration of the Digital Class Rooms under ODB.
  • National Cyber Forensic Lab: It is a new facility which was inaugurated in New Delhi. It was launched to offer new digital platform against cyber crime and research. MHA has constituted an Expert Group for a detailed study and initiated creation of the Cyber Crime Coordination Centre which will deal with cyber forensics, cyber investigation, cyber research and innovation, threat analytics and cyber training. The setting up of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (i-4C) is a step towards its implementation. Under the i-4C, the National Cyber Forensics Lab has been inaugurated.
  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI): It is a government body created for development and regulation of Inland Waterways for shipping and navigation. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System. LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminated for ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way. An assured depth of waterway is required for seamless movement of vessels. If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement. The portal being hosted on IWAI’s website www.iwai.nic.in has been developed in-house. Initially LAD information will be available for NW-1, NW-2, Indo-Bagladesh Protocol route and NW-3, along with the date of survey. The facility will be expanded to other NWs also.
  • The Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) : It is a pan-India single number (112) based response system for persons in distress. Citizens can access emergency services by using the following methods. Dial 112: A person in distress can dial a pan-India number: 112.
  • The Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO): It is an online module available to law enforcement agencies at all levels- national, state, district and police station that allows states to undertake real-time monitoring and management for completion of investigation in rape cases in two months.
  • Safe City Implementation Monitoring (SCIM) portal: It is a portal created to instill a sense of security in women in metro cities. The Government has identified eight cities for implementation of Safe City projects in the first phase at a cost of Rs 2,919 crore.
  • KUSUM: It is the acronym for Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan. It is a new scheme launched by government of India for farmer. The scheme aims to provide financial and water security to farmers. The proposed scheme consists of three components -- 10,000 megawatt (MW) of decentralised ground mounted grid connected renewable power plants (Component-A); installation of 17.50 lakh standalone solar powered agriculture pumps (Component-B); and solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected solar powered agriculture pumps (Component-C), according to the statement. All three components combined, the scheme aims to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. The total central financial support provided under the scheme would be Rs 34,422 crore. Component-A and Component-C will be implemented on pilot mode for 1,000 MW capacity and one lakh grid-connected agriculture pumps, respectively, and thereafter, will be scaled up on success of the pilot run. Component-B will be implemented in full-fledged manner.
  • Diesel to electric locomotive: The world’s first diesel to electric locomotive was flagged off in Varanasi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the train in his constituency, Varanasi. According to an official release, the project was completed by the Diesel Locomotives Works in record time. PM Modi took keen interest and went around the factory and inspected the engine from inside. The conversion of the diesel locomotive into an electronic one was a landmark achievement of the Indian Railways, as part of its efforts to completely electrify the broad gauge network in the country. The high profile project of the Railways was part of its Mission 100 per cent electrification and de-carbonization agenda. The work on the project began in December 2017 and from conceptualizing to building the electric locomotive was carried out in just 69 days.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Water Generator : It is a water generator, which generate water straight from the humidity present in the atmosphere. It was developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) in collaboration with CSIR-IICT and MAITHRI, a start-up company based in Hyderabad. This water Generator employs a novel technology to extract water from the humidity present in the atmosphere and purify it. It uses heat exchange for condensing the atmospheric moisture to produce pure, safe and clean potable water. The AWG comes with a Mineralisation Unit, which is used to add minerals which are required to make the water potable. The AWG is configurable in static and mobile (vehicular) versions and is available in 30 litres/day, 100 litres/day, 500 litres/day and 1,000 litres/day capacities. The Atmospheric Water Generator can be used to provide drinking water in community centres and public places like health care centres, schools, colleges, offices, railway stations, bus stands, airports, sea ports, off-shore oil rigs, military establishments, remote field areas and remote establishments and residential complexes. The Atmospheric Water Generator is being manufactured by BEL in collaboration with CSIR-IICT and MAITHRI, a start-up company based in Hyderabad. It is on display at the BEL stall at Hall-E at Aero India 2019. BEL has, as part of the Government of India's Start-up India Initiative, extending its support to start-up Companies.

Sports Current News

  • Indian Premier League (IPL): It is a professional Twenty20 cricket league established by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. 12th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) schedule was released. IPL has announced the schedule for the first two weeks, where 17 matches will be played. Under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will face Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the opening match of IPL 2019 on March 23.

Economics

  • Startups: It is small business enterprise started by individual founders or entrepreneurs to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. More specifically, a startup is a newly emerged business venture that aims to develop a viable business model to meet a marketplace need or problem. The government has relaxed the definition of startups, and allowed them to avail full angel tax concession on investments worth up to Rs 25 crore. Earlier, a startup was allowed to avail tax concession only if total investment, including funding from angel investors, did not exceed Rs 10 crore.
  • Public Sector Banks (PSBs): They are a major type of bank in India, where a majority stake (i.e. more than 50%) is held by a government. The shares of these banks are listed on stock exchanges. Finance Ministry has announced to pump in Rs. 48,239 crore in 12 public sector banks this fiscal year. According to an official release, the total amount of capital infusion would increase to Rs. 1,00,958 crore of the planned recapitalisation of Rs. 1.06 lakh crore for PSU banks for the current fiscal year including this funding. The remaining Rs. 5,000 crore capital infusion would be used as buffer for any contingency or growth capital for Bank of Baroda which is in the process of merging Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with itself. It (pending Rs. 5000 crore) may be used for any contingency or for growth capital wherever it is necessary including amalgamated entity of Bank of Baroda. Corporation Bank is the biggest beneficiary of this round of capital infusion with Rs. 9,086 crore of funding, followed by Allahabad Bank with Rs. 6,896 crore. Rs. 4,638 crore and Rs. 205 crore will be provided to Bank of India and Bank of Maharashtra respectively. These banks have recently come out of the regulatory supervisory framework PCA of the RBI. Punjab National Bank will get Rs. 5,908 crore, Union Bank of India Rs. 4,112 crore, Andhra Bank Rs. 3,256 crore and Syndicate Bank Rs. 1,603 crore. The government will pump in Rs. 12,535 crore in four other banks under PCA -- Central Bank of India, United Bank, UCO Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. The government in December had increased the outlay by Rs. 41,000 crore for infusion in public sector banks. As a result, the total recapitalisation in the current fiscal year from Rs. 65,000 crore to Rs. 1.06 lakh crore. Subsequently, the government infused Rs. 28,615 crore into seven public sector banks (PSBs) through recapitalisation bonds.

Defence

  • Dhanush artillery guns : It is a kind of howitzer used by the Indian Army. The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) under the Ministry of Defence has received a bulk production clearance from the Indian Army and the Defence Ministry for production of 114 'Dhanush' artillery guns. In a statement defence ministry said, 'Dhanush' is the first long-range artillery gun to be produced in India and it is a major success story of the 'Make in India' initiative. The OFB has received a bulk production clearance from the Army and the defence ministry for production of 114 first-ever indigenous artillery gun 'Dhanush', it said, adding, the clearance was received. The gun is equipped with inertial navigation-based sighting system, auto-laying facility, on-board ballistic computation and an advanced day and night direct firing system. The self-propulsion unit allows the gun to negotiate and deploy itself in mountainous terrains with ease'.
  • Thales Rocket Launcher: It is a rocket launcher used by Indian Armed Forces’ multi-role attack helicopters. Thales's 2.75-inch (70-mm) rocket launchers are produced using composite material, making them an average of 50 per cent lighter than metal launchers, and eliminating corrosion issues. They offer best in class precision and reliability, providing crews with optimum support during missions. The solution to be supplied by Thales includes four 2.75-inch (70-mm) 12-tube rocket launchers, plus fire control capability and the T100 sighting system, as supplied under previous orders (more than 80 Advanced Light Helicopters have already been equipped with the solution). The huge range of 2.75-inch (70-mm) munitions available for use with the launchers, from conventional rockets to Thales's laser-guided variant, encompasses a broad spectrum of the missions facing today's armed forces. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has awarded French aerospace and defence company Thales a contract to supply 135 2.75-inch (70-mm) rocket launchers.

Current Affairs February 24 to March 02

International Current News

  • South Korea:It is an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea.India and South Korea signed seven agreements to enhance cooperation in key areas, including infrastructure development, media, start-ups and combating trans-border and international crime. The agreements were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi two-day visit to South Korea to strengthen India's strategic ties with the country, was accorded an official reception at the Blue House, the executive office and official residence of the South Korean President Moon Jae-in here. He also met First lady Kim Jung-sook. The memorandum of understandings (MoUs) were signed after the two leaders held constructive talks on enhancing bilateral cooperation in a number of areas including trade, investment, defence and security.

National Current News

  • Kanpur Metro Rail Project : It is a new rail project approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kanpur Metro Rail Project has two corridors, which will connect major public nodes and city cluster areas of Kanpur. Implementation of Metro Rail System will result in less vehicular traffic and better movement on the roads leading to reduction in congestion, travel time, cost of journey and pollution. The Metro Rail System will also promote transit oriented development which will lead to development of more residential and commercial complexes along the corridors. Highlights of Kanpur Metro Rail Project include- The length of ITT to Naubasta corridor is 23.785 km, which is partly elevated and partly underground and comprises of 22 Stations (14-Elevated and 8-Underground). The length of Agriculture University to Barra-8 corridor is 8.60 km comprising of 4 Elevated & 4 Underground stations. Estimated cost of the project is Rs 11,076.48 Cr. and project will be completed in 5 years. Connectivity Highlights are IJT Kanpur to Naubasta corridor will pass through heart of the city covering several prominent educational institutions, Railway & Bus Stations, including IIT Kanpur, CSJM University, GSYM Medical College, Jhakarkati Bus Station and Kanpur Central Railway Station etc.
  • STARS scheme: It is the acronym for Scheme for Translational and Advanced Research in Science to fund science projects. The Union Human Resource Development ministry has approved funds worth Rs 250 crore for the scheme. These funds will be utilised to sponsor about 500 science projects. The selection of these projects would be done on the basis of competitions. The project will be coordinated by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Interested candidates will have to submit applications to take part in the competition. The applications will release on the first week of April 2019.
  • Southern Coast Railway : It is the new railway zone launched for Andhra Pradesh. It will be headquartered in Visakhapatnam and it will be the 18th zone in the country. As per item 8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, the Indian Railways was required to examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh. The matter has been examined in detail in consultation with the stakeholders and it has been decided to go ahead with the creation of a new zone with its headquarter in Visakhapatnam. The new zone will comprise the existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions that currently fall under the South Central Railway.
  • Shreyas scheme : It is a new scheme launched by Ministry of Human Resource Develpment to enhance the skill of non-technical students. SHREYAS is the acronym for Scheme for Higher Education Youth for Apprenticeship and Skills. The scheme is inviting applications from students from non-technical courses such as BA, BSc. BCom. Students and alumni can register themselves at the portal which will connect them with apprenticeship programmes and recruiters. The purpose of education is not just to bring out a good human from the system but to bring out a good human with skills.
  • National Policy on Software Products – 2019: It is a new project approved by The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi aimed to develop India as a Software Product Nation. The Software product ecosystem is characterized by innovations, Intellectual Property (IP) creation and large value addition increase in productivity, which has the potential to significantly boost revenues and exports in the sector, create substantive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging technologies and leverage opportunities available under the Digital India Programme, thus, leading to a boost in inclusive and sustainable growth. Initially, an outlay of Rs.1500 Crore is involved to implement the programmes/ schemes envisaged under this policy over the period of 7 years. Rs 1500 Crore is divided into Software Product Development Fund (SPDF) and Research & Innovation fund.
  • PRANAM commission: It is a new panel setup for the protection of parents of state government employees was launched by Assam government.The Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring (PRANAM) Bill, stated to be the first-of its-kind Bill in the country, is an effort to protect elderly parents of government employees in their times of need. PRANAM Bill, which was approved by the state cabinet last year, makes it mandatory for state government employees to look after their parents and unmarried differently abled siblings who do not have their own sources of income. As per the Bill, if the PRANAM Commission gets a complaint that parents of a state government employee is being ignored, then 10 or 15 per cent of the employee's salary will be deducted by the government and paid to the parents or differently abled siblings. The Bill would benefit 8 lakh parents of 4 lakh state government employees. Employees of private companies and the central government working in the state would also be covered by the Bill at a later stage.
  • National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF): It is a new fund to be created for large scale housing projects. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs.60,000 crores. This fund will be situated in Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The Ministry has so far sanctioned 39.4 lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). There is a very good response from the States / UTs and nearly 2 - 3 lakh houses are being sanctioned every month. More than 17 lakh houses have been grounded and about 5 lakh houses have been completed. Under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), wherein housing for EWS / LIG / MIG beneficiaries is being sanctioned by the Banks / HFCs to the eligible beneficiaries under the PMAY(Urban), the responses have grown significantly. Nearly 87,000 Housing Loans have been sanctioned in last 8 months under the Scheme and over 40,000 applications are under consideration for approval. The target is to cater to the demand of housing shortage of nearly 1.2 crore and make available housing to all by 2022, when the Country celebrates its 75th Anniversary of Independence.
  • ESIC: It is an acronym for Employees State Insurance Corporation which is a self-financing social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers. Nearly 2 crore jobs were created in 16 months to December 2018, according to the payroll data of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The ESIC data is one of payroll numbers released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in its reports based on people joining various social security schemes run by Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA). The ESIC provides health insurance and medical services to its insured person covering all those establishments which have 20 or more workers and all those employees whose monthly wages are up to Rs 21,000. During September 2017 and December 2018, as many as 1.96 crore new subscribers joined the scheme.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN): It is a new scheme launched by government of India to offer financial help to farmers. With the launch, the first instalment of Rs 2,000 will be directly credited to the bank accounts of selected beneficiary farmers. The scheme is claimed to be the biggest scheme for farmers since independence. Through this scheme, Rs. 75,000 crore will be transferred to farmers’ accounts every year. Centre has urged State Governments to send the lists of beneficiary farmers to the Union Government at the earliest, so that farmers can receive the benefit of this scheme in time. While the loan waivers announced periodically by earlier Governments, did not provide long term or comprehensive relief to the farmers, PM-KISAN will not only provide them relief, but will also mark a massive investment in the rural economy. PM-KISAN depends on direct transfer, and therefore the entire amount will reach the beneficiary.
  • Rail Drishti Dashboard : It is a new initiative launched to promote transparency and accountability. It encompasses all the digitisation efforts in Indian Railways and promoting transparency and accountability. It brings information from various sources on a single platform and gives access to key statistics and parameters to every citizen of the country. This dashboard can be accessed using a desktop/laptop or a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. The application is mobile optimized for ease of use of public. The url of the dashboard is raildrishti.cris.org.in.
  • GST council: It is the key decision-making body that will take all important decisions regarding the GST.The GST Council dictates tax rate, tax exemption, the due date of forms, tax laws, and tax deadlines, keeping in mind special rates and provisions for some states. The GST council has reduced the GST rate for under construction from the present 12 per cent to 5 per cent. The GST rate for affordable housing category is now 1 per cent compared to the present 8 per cent. The new rates will be applicable from April 2019. For both under construction and affordable housing category the builders would not be able to claim the input tax credit (ITC) which they used to get when the tax slabs of 8 per cent and 12 per cent were applicable.
  • Electronic Voting Machine: It is a voting system that uses electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes.Electronic Voting Machine is an 'information' under the Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commission has held. Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava held thus in an appeal filed by Razaak K Haidar, who had filed an RTI application before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Election Commission of India (ECI), New Delhi, seeking an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Also Read - Appointment Of Information Commissioners: Why Only 'Babus' Shortlisted, SC Asks Govt According to him, as per Section 2(f) and 2(i) of the RTI Act, the definition of 'information' and 'record' includes model or any sample. Hence, an EVM qualifies as 'information' and should be provided to him under Section 6(1) of the RTI Act. Defending the rejection of said application, the CPIO contended that the model/samples of the EVM available with the ECI, are only kept for training purpose by the ECI, and not saleable to the general public.

Science and Technology Current News

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru.ISRO will be launching an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the DRDO. The satellite weighs about 420 kg. The 28 satellites belonging to our customers would cumulatively weigh about 250 kg. The DRDO's Emisat is an electronic intelligence satellite. The ISRO will also be launching two more defence satellites sometime in July/August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). After launching Emisat at an altitude of 763 km, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.
  • Mission to Moon: Israel's non-profit SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida's Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon. According to an official release, the unmanned craft, weighing 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

Sports Current News

  • International Olympic Committee : It is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland.The International Olympic Committee has decided to suspend all discussions with India regarding hosting of global sporting events. Decision was taken after Pakistani shooters were not issued visas for the World Cup in New Delhi. The Olympic committee also revoked the Olympic qualification status for the men's 25m rapid fire event from the New Delhi World Cup due to denial of visas to the Pakistani shooters in the wake of last week's Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. The IOC said it will not allow India to organise Olympic-related events in the future, unless written assurances are obtained from the government. The two Pakistani shooters' participation in the tournament had become doubtful after the terrorist attack had been reported.

Arts

  • Titanwala Museum : It is a new museum which showcases Chhipa community's hand-block printing. The museum was inaugurated in Bagru in Rajasthan. The museum is an example that art and culture are not dependent on the government for being nurtured or preserved. It will go a long way in taking the name of Bagru on the world map'. The museum is an effort towards preserving the art of traditional Bagru block printing. The museum will be open from Monday to Sunday between 9 am and 6 pm.
  • OSCAR 2019: 91st Academy Awards was held at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where Mexican film Roma has received a number of accolades, among them 10 nominations at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Aparicio) and Best Supporting Actress (de Tavira); it won for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director.
    • Best picture - Green Book
    • Best actress - Olivia Colman - The Favourite
    • Best actor - Rami Malek - Bohemian Rhapsody
    • Best supporting actress - Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk
    • Best supporting actor - Mahershala Ali - Green Book
    • Best director - Alfonso Cuaron - Roma
    • Best original screenplay - Green Book - Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
    • Best adapted screenplay - BlacK Klansman - Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee
    • Best animated feature - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    • Best foreign language film - Roma - Mexico
    • Best original song - Shallow (A Star Is Born) - Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
    • Best original score - Black Panther - Ludwig Goransson
    • Best production design - Black Panther - Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart
    • Best costume design - Black Panther - Ruth E Carter
    • Best cinematography - Roma - Alfonso Cuaron
    • Best visual effects - First Man - Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and JD Schwalm
    • Best make-up and hairstyling - Vice - Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney
    • Best sound editing - Bohemian Rhapsody - John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone
    • Best sound mixing - Bohemian Rhapsody - Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali
    • Best film editing - Bohemian Rhapsody - John Ottman
    • Best animated short - Bao
    • Best documentary short - Period. End of Sentence.
    • Best live action short - Skin
  • Period End of Sentence: It is a short documentary film, which won the Academy Award in the Documentary Short Subject category. Period. End of Sentence starring the real Pad Man Arunachalam Murgunantham has won the Academy Award in the Documentary Short Subject category. The film was directed by Iranian-American filmmaker. Rayka Zehtabchi Producer Guneet Monga was glad that she got a ticket to the Oscars with her film Period. End of Sentence and wasn't fretting over the final show. She needn't have - because the film, set in India and dealing with menstruation taboo, took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Period. End of Sentence, featuring the real Pad Man Arunachalam Murgunantham, beat Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat and A Night At The Garden. Period. End of Sentence is about women in India fighting against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation and delving upon the work of real life Pad Man Arunachalam Muruganantham. It is executive-produced by Guneet Monga and is co-produced by Ms Monga's Sikhya Entertainment, which has backed films like The Lunchbox and Masaan. Mr Muruganantham inspired the Bollywood film PadMan last year.

Defence

  • National War Memorial: It is a new war memorial for soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence. The memorial is a tribute to the supreme sacrifice of the soldiers who gave it their all in 4 wars versus Pakistan and one against China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National War Memorial to the nation in a solemn ceremonial function in the National Capital. Prime Minister also met three living Param Vir Chakra awardees Retired Subedar Major And Honorary Captain Bana Singh, Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav and Subedar Sanjay Kumar. Their Busts are part of the the 'Param Yodha Sthal' where the 21 winners of the Param Vir Chakra have been honoured with individual bronze busts, with details of their bravery engraved below. With the lighting of the eternal flame, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National War Memorial to the nation. This flame is a little to the east of Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, in honour of martyred soldiers at the country's first National War Memorial.
  • Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missile: It is a new missile successfully test-fired at Chandipur (Odisha). The missiles, equipped with radars with search on move capability, were test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR). Describing the launch as 'fully successful', a DRDO official said all the mission objectives were met during the trial. The two missiles were tested for different altitude and conditions. The test flights successfully demonstrated the robust control, aerodynamics, propulsion, structural performance and high manoeuvring capabilities thus proving the design configuration. A statment from defence ministry said, 'Radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry and other stations have tracked the Missiles and monitored through the entire flights. All the mission objectives have been met'.

Environment

  • Vermin: They are pests or nuisance animals that spread diseases or destroy crops or livestocks.Monkeys have again been declared vermin for the next one year in 11 districts' 91 tehsils and sub-tehsils of Himachal Pradesh. The Centre has issued a notification on February 14, 2019, and declared monkeys as a vermin in 91 tehsils and sub-tehsils, which was published in the Gazette of India on February 21, the minister said adding this notification would be applicable for a period of one year. In 2016, monkeys were declared as vermin in 38 tehsils and sub-tehsils of 10 districts in Himachal Pradesh.

Economics

  • E-commerce: It refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. The government has released the draft national e-commerce policy, proposing to set up a legal and technological framework for restrictions on cross-border data flow, and also laid out conditions for businesses regarding collection or processing of sensitive data locally and storing it abroad. The draft policy said the framework would be created to provide the basis for imposing restrictions on cross-border data flow from specified sources, including data collected by IoT devices installed in public space, and data generated by users in India by various sources, including e-commerce platforms, social media and search engines. The 42-page draft addresses six broad issues of the e-commerce ecosystem — data, infrastructure development, e-commerce marketplaces, regulatory issues, stimulating domestic digital economy and export promotion through e-commerce.


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