Current Affairs: February 2016

Current Affairs: Rajras 

NATIONAL


  • Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) of Union Government has given its final approval to Kerala Government’s approval to set up India’s first Defence Industrial Park at
  • The 30th edition of Surajkund International Crafts Mela was held at at Faridabad in Haryana.
  • Union Government has appointed senior IPS officer K Durga Prasad has Director General (DG) of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
  • Senior IPS officer Archana Ramasundram (58) was appointed as the Director General of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • Principal Adviser (Cost) Mrs. Aruna Sethi was appointed as head of Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICoAS). With this, she becomes first lady ICoAS officer this topmost post.
  • February 4: World Cancer Day
    • 2016 Theme: We can, I can
  • February 10: National Deworming Day
    • Every year on 10 February is observed as National Deworming Day to combat parasitic worm infections among preschool and school-age children across India.
  • February 21: International Mother Language Day
  • 28 February: National Science Day
    • 2016 Theme: Scientific Issues for Development of the Nation
    • Why 28 Feb? Discovery of Raman Effect by Indian physicist Chandra Sekhara Venkata Raman (CV Raman) on February 28, 1928.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL) at Lepetkata, Assam. It shall be the first ever petro-chemical plant located in the entire North-Eastern region of Indian.
  • Prime Minister also dedicated wax producing unit in Numaligarh Refinery Limited to the nation. It is India’s highest wax producing unit and shall be using indigenous technology.
  • Sarangi maestro Pandit Ram Narayan was chosen for the prestigious Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Classical Music Award for 2015-2016.
  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda has launched Project Sunrise on for prevention of AIDS specially among people injecting drugs in the 8 North-Eastern states.
  • Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has decided to set up the National Organic Farming Research Institute (NOFRI) in Sikkim.
  • Micro blogging site Twitter in partnership with FICCI for first time has launched #Positionofstrength campaign in India to empower women to raise voices against any form of discrimination.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first phase Kerala Tourism’s Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) at Trissur in Kerala to reinstate the historical and cultural significance Muziris.
    • Muziris was an ancient seaport and urban centre which dates from at least the 1st century BC and located at the mouth of the Periyar River in Kerala.
  • Former CAG Vinod Rai has been appointed as the first Chairman of Banks Board Bureau (BBB).
  • Appointed Members of Banks Board Bureau are:
    • Vinod Rai (Chairman): He is former CAG.
    • Sinor (Member): Former Joint Managing Director of ICICI Bank.
    • Anil K Khandelwal (Member): Former CMD of Bank of Baroda
    • Rupa Kudwa (Member): Former chief of CRISIL.
    • The tenure of Mr Rai and other members of the board will be of two years.
    • About Banks Board Bureau (BBB) :
    • BBB will be a super authority (Autonomous Body) of eminent professionals and officials for public sector banks (PSBs).
    • It will replace the Appointments Board of Government.
    • The bureau was announced by the Union Government in August 2015 as part of seven point Indradhanush Mission to revamp the PSBs.
  • Functions:
    • Give recommendations for appointment of full-time Directors as well as non-Executive Chairman of PSBs.
    • Give advice to PSBs in developing differentiated strategies for raising funds through innovative financial methods and instruments and to deal with issues of stressed assets.
    • Guide banks on mergers and consolidations and also ways to address the bad loans problem among other issues.
    • Currently, there are 22 state-owned banks or PSBs in India including State Bank of India (SBI), IDBI Bank and Bhartiya Mahila Bank etc.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee has formally declared Kerala as the country’s first digital state. 
  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated India’s first Gender Park at Kozhikode district of Kerala. It is also the first of its kind gender equality convergence centre in Asia.
  • Union Cabinet has approved proposal of raising of 17 Indian Reserve Battalions (IRBs) in Jammu & Kashmir and 4 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states.
  • Committee to examine the Possibility of Replacing Multiple Prior Permissions with Pre-Existing Regulatory Mechanism headed by Ajay Shankar, submitted recommendation.
  • Multiple permissions including environmental, inspection etc.
  • Recommendations included:
    • Adopt global practices.
    • Establish mechanism for independent regulatory impact assessment.
    • Introduction of credible third-party certification to cut down on multiple permissions needed by investors.
  • The 13th edition of World Spice Congress (WSC) was held at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The theme of the three-day biennial event was ‘Target 2020: Clean, Safe and Sustainable Supply Chain’.
  • Lok Sabha has passed Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to grant voting rights to people who became citizens of India following the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.
  • New Initiatives under Railway Budget 2106-17:
  • Theme of this Budget: ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’ for overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Rejuvenate, Restructure Indian Railways
  • Three pillars strategy: Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures. Railway Fares No new hike in passenger fares and Freight fares.
  • For the unreserved passenger:
    • Antyodaya Express: superfast unreserved service.
    • Deen Dayalu: unreserved coaches with potable water facility and higher number of mobile charging points.
  • For the reserved passenger:
  • Tejas: Will operate at speeds of 130 kmph and above and shall showcase the future of train travel in India. It will offer onboard services such as local cuisine, entertainment, WiFi, etc.
  • Humsafar: Fully air-conditioned service with an optional service for meals.
  • UDAY (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri) Express: Overnight double-decker express on the busiest routes.
  • SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) Coaches: Higher carrying capacity and new amenities including automatic doors, bio-vacuum toilets, bar-code readers, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, vending machines, improved aesthetics, LED lit boards for advertising, entertainment screens, PA system.
  • High Speed Rail: From Mumbai to Ahmedabad will be undertaken with the assistance of the Government of Japan.
  • State Bank of India (SBI) has launched SBI e-Smart SME to provide a working capital loan for sellers on ecommerce platforms.
  • Union Cabinet approved establishment of Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Self Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) in NITI Aayog.
    • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
    • Includes setup of Atal tinkering Laboratories & Atal Incubation centers, along with scale-up support to established incubation centers.
  • India’s – Yes Bank has been awarded inaugural Green Bond Pioneer Award in London, United Kingdom.
    • Green Bond: are bonds that receive capital from the investors only if the investment (capital) is being raised to fund green projects relating to renewable energy or emission reductions etc.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has hiked Minimum Support Price (MSP) of raw jute from 2,700 to 3,200 rupees per quintal.
    • Note: CCEA looks after MSP of Jute.
  • Union Government has selected former Chief Justice of India (CJI) H L Dattu as new Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
  • Selection Committee:
    • Prime Minister
    • Lok Sabha Speaker
    • Union Home Minister
    • Deputy Chairman Rajya Sabha
    • Leader of Opposition Rajya Sabha
  • NHRC: Apex Statutory body to look after human rights preservation in India.
  • Union Government has launched ‘Swachh Parayatan’ mobile application to keep tourist places clean.
  • Haryana is set become the first state in the country to complete aquifer mapping for its groundwater resources by May 2016.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Rurban Mission (NRM) from Kurubhat in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh.
  • West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was appointed as the Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Union Cabinet has approved acceptance of protocol of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
    • TFA is the WTO’s first-ever multilateral accord that aims to simplify customs regulations for the cross-border movement of goods.
    • Outcome of WTO’s 9th Bali (Indonesia) ministerial package of 2013
  • State Bank of India (SBI) launched ‘Japan Desk’, a single window for inbound Japanese investments in India and vice-versa.
  • Mysuru city from Karnataka has been ranked first in terms of cleanliness for second time in row among the 73 surveyed cities in Swachh Sarvekshan 2016.
  • India’s first indigenously developed lightest revolver (gun) Nidar weighing merely 250 grams was successfully launched.
    • Nidar is much lighter than ‘Nirbheek’ (500 grams) revolver which was exclusively designed for women.
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has declared Wild Pig (sus scrofa) as vermin in Uttarakhand for a year.
  • So what? This will allow hunting of Wild Pig outside Reserve Forest.
  • Karnataka’s flagship mobile-one governance application has won gold medal at the fourth World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE in the m-governance awards category.
  • The UAE’s national oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil (ADNOC) Company has agreed to store crude oil in India’s maiden Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs) storage.
    • India is building underground SPR storages at Visakhapatnam (1.33 million tonnes capacity), Mangalore (1.5 million tonnes) and Padur (2.5 million tonnes) to store about 5.33 million tonnes of crude oil.
  • Union Government has sanctioned about 580 crore rupees for Agartala-Akhaura railway link Project to connect Kolkata (West Bengal) with Tripura via Bangladesh.
  • As per recently released Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States (IIRIS) report, Maharashtra has topped in terms of the overall Internet readiness index.
  • Gujarat state government has decided to set up India’s first aviation park near Bagodara village in Ahmedabad district to strengthen the aviation sector.

SCIENCE


  • World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
    • Carrier: Aedes Aegypti – Msoquito.
    • Other disease transferred by Aedes Aegypti mosquito: Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever.
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) launched the country’s first anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug named BGR-34 for type two Diabetes mellitus.
    • BGR-34 stands for Blood Glucost Regulator and offers effective, safe, patient-friendly solution for managing type two Diabetes.
  • ISRO is working to establishment of a Satellite Tracking & Data Reception Station and Data Processing Facility for ASEAN Member countries in Vietnam.
  • ISRO is set to launch the country’s first solar mission called Aditya-L1.
    • Aditya-L1 satellite will be placed in an orbit about 15 lakh kilometres from the earth in a halo orbit around the L1 Lagranian point.
    • Launch Vehicle: PSLV XL.
    • Langranian point: Locations in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other, hence, net gravitational is near zero. In Sun-Earth system ther are 5 such points: L1, L2, L3, L4 L5.
    • Halo Orbit: Periodic three-dimensional (3D) orbit near the Lagrangian points L1, L2 or L3
  • World’s first fast-acting anti-rabies drug “Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody “ (RMAb) will be launched in India.
  • Birdwatchers for first time have sighted Falcated Duck in Goa, which is considered as rare vagrant migrant bird species to the south of India.
    • IUCN Status: (NT) Near Threatened
  • Google’s Project Loon began its operations in Sri Lanka after first helium-filled balloon landed in Pupuressa area in Gampola town.
    • Project Loon is a pet project of Google for providing Internet access to rural and remote areas using high-altitude helium-filled balloons.
  • Astrophysicists at NASA have found a super-Earth exoplanet dubbed as 55 Cancri e with an atmosphere for the first time.
  • A team of scientist in US led by an Indian-origin Ashutosh Tiwari has discovered Tin Monoxide (SnO) conductor to replace silicon.
    • SnO is a new kind of 2D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that consumes less power.
  • Union Cabinet has approved the LIGO-India project (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in India) proposal for research on gravitational waves.
    • LIGO-India project shall be piloted by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST)
  • Japan has launched ASTRO-H space observation satellite to probe mysterious black holes.
  • Scientist for the first time have discovered Gravitational Waves (GW) that were hypothesised by Albert Einstein in 1916.
    • These waves were detected by the scientists working at two LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) facilities in United States.
  • Banaras Hindu University (BHU) founded by Freedom fighter Pt Madan Mohan Malviya has turned 100 years on 13th February 2016.
  • Neem extract may help treat Pancreatic Cancer: Study
    • Neem oil contains fatty acid and vitamin E
  • A For the first time, scientists from National University of Singapore (NUS) have successfully converted paper waste into green nontoxic cellulose aerogels.
  • Applications:
    • It is ideal for applications such as oil spill cleaning.
    • It can serve as heat insulation materials for buildings.
    • In Biomedical applications, it can be potentially be used as coating materials for drug delivery and as smart materials.
    • It can be also used in packaging industry as it is biodegradable and environmentally-friendly material.
  • The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has ordered Chennai based Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) to issue ‘Geographical Indication’ tag for basmati rice.
    • This GI tag will be issued to basmati rice variety grown in 7 states that includes Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. 

DEFENCE


  • The International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016, an international military exercise hosted and conducted by Indian Navy was inaugurated in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
    • Naval ships from 50 countries and various dignitaries will also participate in the event and close to 4000 sailors have participated in the fleet review.
  • Akash missile successfully test fired at Chandipuri in Odisha
    • Type: Surface to Air
    • Speed: 2.8 – 3.5 Mach
    • Powered by Ramjet-rocket propulsion system (RRPS)
    • Range: 25Kms
    • Warhead: Conventional 60 Kgs
  • Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has signed cyber-security agreement with its counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.
  • Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)
    • Nodal department under Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that deals with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing in India.
    • HQ: New Delhi
  • Fifth edition of IBSAMAR 2016 trilateral naval exercise between Brazil, India and South Africa kicked off in Goa.
  • India’s first indigenously built nuclear armed submarine INS Arihant has successfully passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests
  • India continues to remain the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 14% of the global arms imports in the 2011-2015 timeframe.
  • For the first time, India has participated in the Cobra Gold 2016 multilateral amphibious exercise hosted by Thailand after 12 member Indian Army delegation joined it.
  • The 7th edition of India, Seychelles joint military exercise LAMITYE 2016 has begun in Victoria, Seychelles.
  • The 9th edition of India-Nepal Combined Military Exercise Surya Kiran IX has commenced at Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
  • The Union textile Ministry has bestowed the Indian Handloom Brand tag on Chettinad cotton saris for its unique designs and identity.
    • Chettinad cotton saree is also known as “kandaangi”. It is the traditional sari of the Chettinad region in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu.
  • Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Muzzafarpur (Bihar) were on the top in National Air Quality Indices for 24 cities released by CPCB.

SPORTS


  • Ace Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth won the 2016 Syed Modi International Grand prix Gold Championship Title of Badminton in men’s singles category.
  • World Number One tennis player Novak Djokovic from Serbia won the 2016 Australian Open Title in the men’s singles category.
  • The 12th edition of South Asian Games (SAG) was held in Guwahati, Assam
  • Mumbai won Ranji 2016
  • India’s Kumaravel Prem Kumar has won a silver medal in long jump event on the final day of Asian Indoor Athletics Championships held in Doha.
  • West Indies for the first time has won the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup by defeating three time champions India by five wickets played at Mirpur (Bangladesh).

 INTERNATIONAL


  • India and Afghanistan signed an agreement for visa-free travel for diplomatic passport holders of the two countries.
  • Japan’s ShinMaywa Industries is planning to set up manufacturing plant of US-2 amphibious aircraft in India under ‘Make in India’ initiative to cater to international demands.
    • Amphibious Aircraft: An aircraft that can land on Water.
  • Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google has overtaken Apple as s most valuable company in the world.
  • India and Brunei have signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the fields of defence, health and youth affairs & sports.
  • Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India was appointed as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
  • 12 nations sign historic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
    • 12 Pacific Rim countries have signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in Auckland, New Zealand.
    • 12 countries are: Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Canada, United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
    • TPP is Free Trade Area and these member countries across the Pacific Rim are home to 800 million people and account for 40% of global trade.
  • India has ratified Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), 1997 which sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability.
  • Benefits:
    • Facilitate and boost India’s nuclear commerce with international partners. Contribute to strengthen an international convention and global nuclear liability regime.
  • Oscars: Best Picture – Spotlight
  • IMF Reforms: India, China, Brazil, Russia get more voting rights
    • IMF’s long-pending 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms finally become effective in Feb, 2016.
    • These reforms shifted more than 6% of the quota shares to emerging and developing countries from the US and European countries.
    • India’s voting rights increased by 0.3% from the current 2.3% to 2.6%. China’s voting rights increased from current 3.8% to 6 %.
    • China will have the 3rd largest IMF quota and voting share after the US and Japan. While, India, Russia and Brazil will also be among the top 10 members of the IMF.
  • The Union Government has extended e-Tourist Visa Scheme to 37 more countries. With this, the total count of countries under the scheme will become 150.
  • Pakistan’s Parliament building located in national capital Islamabad became the first in the world to completely run on solar power.
  • Christine Lagarde (60) from France was re-appointed as the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund for a second five-year term.
  • United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has decided to initiate anti-dumping investigations into a certain category of tyres imported from India and Sri Lanka.
  • Anti-Dumping Duty:
    • Duty imposed by government on imported products which have prices less than their normal values or domestic price.
  • Prasar Bharati has signed a MoU with Empressa de Brazil Communicacao (EBC) in connection with several broadcast related activities including exchange of news, programmes and co-production.
  • The first long distance cargo train connecting Iran and China arrived in the Iranian capital city Tehran after starting its journey from China.
    • Passes through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
    • It marks the revival the ancient Silk Road and gives impetus to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative part of revived Silk Road diplomacy.
  • The first phase of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant was launched in the Souss-Massa-Drâa area in Morocco.
    • Concentrated Solar Power Plant: In this plant, sun light is focused or concentrated using mirrors to heat up a liquid mixed with water at around 4000C to produce steam which drives a turbine and generates electrical power.

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  • Ashish Singh

    Why is India lacking behind in Solar Energy field especially the Concentrated Thermal Solar Power. We see no such plants coming up in India. CSP tech has been lacking behind in India in comparison to Solar PV technology which has taken up pace after coming up of new models such as Zero Investment Solar Power. Ref: http://www.yellowhaze.in/zero-investment-solar