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Daily current affairs for 22nd & 23rd Feb 2018 ( English)

1.     The Union Minister of State for Power and New and Renewable Energy, RK Singh  have announced a special package of Rs 925 crore for strengthening the power transmission and distribution system in Arunachal Pradesh. The fund would be used for re-conductoring of old 11 KV lines and conversion of selected long LT distribution lines with 11 KV High Voltage Distribution System. He directed the officials to expedite the work to electrify every village in the state by May 1, 2018.
2.     The Gandhi Nagar railway station of Jaipur, Rajasthan became the country’s first major non-suburban railway station to be fully-managed by women. It is the second station in the country to be managed solely by women – the first being Matunga in Mumbai. 
3.     India has contributed USD 1 million aid  to Tonga for rehabilitation efforts after island was hit by Tropical Cyclone Gita which had caused massive destruction across the pacific ocean archipelago.  US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had reported it Category 4 cyclone and was the worst on record to hit Tonga. Cyclone Gita had destroyed nation’s parliament and affected about 70% island’s population. Tongatapu, where country’s capital NukuEalofa is situated was among the worst hit areas.  India will provide USD 500000 for immediate relief assistance and remaining USD 500000 from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (UNDP) for the rehabilitation efforts.
4.     8th edition of Indo-Seychelles joint counter insurgency/counter terrorism exercisenamed ‘Lamitye’ began on February 24, 2018 in Seychelles. ’Lamiye’ means friendship in Creole (local dialect). It is conducted biennially with an aim of enhancing cooperation and interoperability between Indian Army and Seychelles People’s Defence Forces.
5.     Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the 4th Global Business Summit in New Delhi with the  theme ‘New Economy, New Rules’. Global Business Summit is a flagship initiative of the Times Group. This year’s Summit was presented by Yes Bank and Economic Times. During the address, PM Modi outlined that Indian government is taking stringent action against financial irregularities and will not accept unlawful acquisition of public money The first edition was held in January 2015.
6.     7th edition of Youth Festival began at Central Park, New Delhi with the theme ‘Let Love Live’. This year’s Youth Festival celebrates the freedom to love. It will be conducted till 27th February 2018. The festival features dance, music and special acts conveying a message of love and harmony. It was organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad and the Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Delhi Government.
7.     A NITI Aayog official has announced that, Nandan Nilekani will assist the government in developing IT infrastructure for National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS). It aims to offer medical cover for up to Rs 5 lakh to more than 10 crore poor families. This will cover up to 40 % of India’s population. In 2018-2019 union budget, an initial corpus of Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated for NHPS. The premium on insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh under NHPS has been decided at Rs 900-1,000 per family annually. The Central government will contribute 60 % fund, and the remaining will be provided by the corresponding states.
8.     15th edition of Vodafone Odeon Theatre Festival started off in Kolkata, West Bengal. This festival is conducted to provide a platform for theatre artists to display their talent. Leading dramatists from all over India are taking part in this theatre festival.

9.     Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav celebrations organized by the Ministry of Culture under the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat matrix. began in various locations of  Madhya Pradesh on 24th Feb 2018. It is being celebrated to highlight the idea of unity in diversity. It is conducted for 7 days. Nagaland and Manipur are the states paired with Madhya Pradesh. The event will feature a variety of art forms such as classical music, folk music, dance, theatre, literature, visual arts, etc. A literary meet named ‘Samvaad’, will be held with participation from writers and poets from Manipur, Nagaland and other North Eastern States. A handloom and handicrafts-utsav is conducted as a part of the seven-day event. A food festival is also conducted to exhibit the food culture of Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and other partnering states.
10.   ‘Aadi Mahotsava’, a tribal festival organized by Assam, began at Gandhi Mandir Indoor stadium, in Guwahati, Assam. It is conducted by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India jointly with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
11.  44th Khajuraho dance festival started off in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.  This festival is organised by the culture department of the Madhya Pradesh government. It will fetaure classical dances like Kathak, Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Mohiniattam.
12.  Central Government has cancelled plan to produce 114 Single-engine Fighters with foreign collaboration under the “Make in India” framework in wake of political conflict between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress over 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets.
13.  The first meeting of Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) for North East Region (NER) co-chaired by Secretaries of Ministry of Development of North-East Region (MDoNER) and AYUSH is scheduled to be held in March 2018. IMC will suggest actionable measures for enhancing the livelihood and economic transformation based on cultivation and sustainable management of MAPs resource in North East Region. MDoNER will be coordinator for IMC of MAPs.
14.  With the launch of ‘Nivesh Mitra’, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has become the first state in India where business and investment projects can now be cleared digitally, without any human interface. ‘Nivesh Mitra’, a digital platform which will serve as a single-window clearance system. UP State Government has brought 20 departments under the ambit of ‘Nivesh Mitra’ and application for 70 clearances can be made through this platform. It replaces Udyog Bandhu. Under Udyog Bandhu processes were eased significantly but one would still need to go through at least one government officer.
15.  Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar launched ‘Parivartan’, a scheme designed to address 10 issues in 46 developmental blocks of the state. 10 issues to be addresses under ‘Partivartan’ Scheme are  facilitation of financing, improving health services, making agriculture profitable and sustainable, implementing Swachh Bharat, engaging the youth, decongesting market areas, checking air pollution, effective policing, ensuring availability of identity-related services and ensuring road order and conduct. 46 top officials of the state, including those from the IAS, IFS and IPS cadres, have been allotted one block each, wherein they will undertake work related to the above stated 10 issues.
16.  Telangana State Government signed an MOU with Taoyuan City of Taiwan for better technology partnership in the state during World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2018, in Hyderabad. As per the terms of the MoU, Taoyuan City  and Telangana Sate Government will engage in an economic exchange of technology companies.
17.  The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that, the Central Government has sanctioned a special package to strengthen security in 3 eastern districts of Arunachal PradeshTirap, Changlang and Longding . It is to handle the prevailing insurgency problem in Arunachal Pradesh. He ensured that funds from the government will be dispensed at the earliest for the construction of 20 police stations in the three districts. He also ensured that a forensic science laboratory will be sanctioned for Arunachal Pradesh.
18.    Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that a defence industrial production corridor worth Rs 200 billion will be established in Bundelkhand during the ‘Investors Meet’ at the Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow. This corridor will connect Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi and Chitrakoot. The first out of the two defence industrial production corridors is built between Chennai and Bengaluru. It will link Kattupalli port, Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore and Hosur. He said that, this project will bring an investment of Rs 200 billion. It will generate employment opportunities for 2,50,000 people
19.   NER’s first regional Centre for Agriculture with Israeli collaboration to be inaugurated in Mizoram on March 7, 2018.
20.   Power loom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) with the support of Union Ministry of Textiles & Ministry of Commerce & Industry have organized a three –day India International Textiles Expo (IITExpo)  in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 21st to 23rd February, 2018.  At the Expo, 45 exhibitors from various textile clusters of India displayed variety of fabrics, home textiles and traditional items suitable for apparel, industrial and general consumers.
21.   UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has demanded an immediate end to fighting in the Eastern Ghouta in Syria. Guterres described the rebel-held region, as a hell on earth while speaking at the UN Security Council on February 21. The Eastern Ghouta has been under fierce bombardment from government forces backed by Russian airpower in recent days. The region is the last major rebel-held area near the Syrian capital Damascus. The Syrian military says it is trying to liberate the area from what it terms as terrorists but it has also been accused of targeting civilians.
22.   An MoU was signed between  Mahindra Aerospace and Canada’s Viking Air to form a strategic alliance for making smaller aircraft to support regional air connectivity in India during the ongoing India visit of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to India. Both the companies will work together to boost market penetration in identified territories and provide multiple options to prospective customers based on specific operational requirements.
23.   Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of the Naval Staff inaugurated country’s first-of-its-kind Medium-Voltage (MV) training lab at INS Valsura, Gujarat, for the Indian Navy commissioned by Siemens India. This lab will be utilized for first stage training of naval personnel on Medium Voltage Power Generation, Protection & Distribution and MV Drives & Motors. This lab consists of equipment manufactured in India and is in line with the Make in India initiative. This MV lab facilitates Indian Navy officials to train, manage and operate modern equipment of Indian Navy without going to the field.
24.   India’s first locally developed 4G/LTE( Long Term Evolution) telecom system was launched by the Union Telecom minister Manoj Sinha. This system has been designed and developed by India’s leading telecom equipment manufacturer VNL Ltd. by taking into consideration, the requirement for high speed connectivity, particularly in rural areas of India.  LTE is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile devices and data terminals.
25.   Country’s first super critical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton Test Loop facility have indigenously developed by scientists from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. It is first test loop technology coupled with solar heat source in world that will generate clean energy from power plants, including solar thermal. This facility uses supercritical CO2 (SCO2) instead of steam to generate more power. Supercritical refers to state of CO2 above its critical temperature of 31 C and critical pressure of 73 atmospheres, which makes it twice as dense as steam.
26.   Dhanush ballistic missile was successfully test-fired from naval ship off Odisha near Paradip in the Bay of Bengal. Dhanush missile is also known as Prithvi-III.  It is naval variant of indigenously-developed Prithvi-II missile.It is nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile of short range capable of carrying nuclear as well as conventional warheads. It has length of 8.53 meters and 0.9 metre wide is capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and is capable of hitting both land and sea-based targets. It can be used for both ship-to-ship and ship-to-surface strikes. It has declared strike range of 350 km. The Dhanush/Prithvi-III is part of five missile platforms that have been indigenously developed by DRDO. The other families of missiles developed under IGMPD(Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme are Agni, Trishul, Akash and Nag..
27.   A new shark species named “Atlantic sixgill shark” was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean. This new species is named Hexanchus vitulus.
28.   Venezuela become first sovereign country to officially launch its own cryptocurrency called Petro backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed that the pre-mined cryptocurrency Petro has raised USD 735 million on the first day of its pre-sale.
29.   The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, EPFO has declared 8.55 per cent interest rate for 2017-18 for its about 5 crore members during the meeting of Central Board of Trustees of EPFO in New Delhi. For 2016-17, the rate was 8.65 per cent and in 2015-16 the rate was 8.8 per cent.
30.   In order to promote cross border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services  was signed between India and Kenya.
31.   Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Limited commenced operations as a payments bank with effect from February 22, 2018.It is a 51:49 joint venture (JV) between Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. (ABNL) and telecom operator Idea Cellular. In November 2016, Airtel Payments Bank Ltd became the first entity to start operations as Payments Bank. Paytm and Fino Payments Bank are the other two entities that have already launched their operations. India Post Payments Bank is expected to start nationwide operations from April 2018.
32.   One 97 communications, the parent company of Paytm, createdPaytm Life Insurance Corporation Ltd. and Paytm General Insurance Corporation Ltd with share capital Rs 1000000 each. It is important to note that Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India had granted a corporate agency license to One 97 Communications in September 2017.
33.   The Union Finance Ministry announced that the first sale of electoral bonds will start from March 1, 2018 for a period of 10 days at select branches of State Bank of India (SBI). The bonds will be available in multiples of Rs.1000, Rs. 10000, Rs. 10 lakh, Rs. 1 crore. These bonds would be valid for 15 days from the date of issue. The bonds will not carry his/her/entity’s name. Thus it will be a bearer instrument. Besides, it will be an interest-free banking instrument.
34.   Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted an expert committee under the chairmanship of YH Malegam to look into a range of issues relating to classification of bad loans, rising incidents of frauds and effectiveness of audits. Besides, the committee will examine the role and effectiveness of various types of audits conducted in banks in mitigating such divergence and frauds.
35.   Odisha State Cabinet approved long-term bauxite linkage policy that would help Vedanta’s Lanjigarh alumina refinery to source bauxite from government-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
36.   Justin Forsyth resigned as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF on February 22, 2018 following accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff while serving as the Chief Executive of Save the Children.
37.   M. Subbarayudu(IFS officer of 1994 batch) was appointed the next Ambassador of India to Plurinational State of Bolivia. He is currently the Ambassador of India to Lima.
38.   Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman by flying a MiG-21 “Bison” fighter aircraft solo.. She took off the MiG-21 “Bison” from the Jamnagar base of Indian Air Force (IAF). She already has the credit of being one of the first three women to undergo fighter pilot training in the Indian Air Force. The other two women are Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
39.   India was ranked 81st among 180 countries in Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2017 released by NGO Transparency International. India has dropped by two ranks from 79th slot in CPI 2016. It scored 40 on the scale. New Zealand and Denmark were ranked as cleanest countries in 2017 CPI list as in 2016, with scores of 89 and 88, respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia were ranked as most corrupt countries with scores of 14, 12 and 9, respectively. CPI ranks countries on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) based on their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector. Countries with poorest protection for press and (NGOs were placed at the lowest ranks on the index.
40.   India's Twenty20 women's cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur is set to join Punjab police as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) on March 1, 2018 after Indian Railways relieved Harmanpreet following her request to join Punjab police. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had offered the DSP post to Harmanpreet in July 2017, following her scintillating performance in the Women's World Cup 2017. She had resigned from the Railways last year. Her medical test for the post of DSP had already been completed but she could not join as Indian Railway did not relieve her.
41.   Norway's Marit Bjoergen became the most successful athlete in Winter Olympics history by clinching the bronze medal in cross country skiing's women's team sprint free. Bjoergen's bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla took her total tally to 14 Olympic medals, surpassing fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who has 13 in biathlon. The 37-year-old Bjoergen is also the second most successful woman at both Summer and Winter Games, trailing behind only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina who has won 18 medals. Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins won the gold and the first Olympic cross country title for the United States.
42.   Canada’s own first franchise-based Twenty20 league “Global T20 Canada”, was announced in New Delhi. It will begin functioning from July 2018 at three venues in Toronto.Global T20 Canada League is conceptualised, designed, developed and managed by Mercuri Group with Cricket Canada. Cricket Canada is the official governing body for cricket in Canada. Cricket Canada has become the first Associate member of the ICC to start a Twenty20 franchise league in the North America market.
43.   India bag gold medal at 5th Commonwealth Nations Bridge Championship held in Gold Coast, Australiabetween 14 and 18 February 2018. The Indian “A” team defeated the Australian team with a score of 103-65. The Indian “A” team was headed by Kiran Nadar. The team members were Keyzad Anklesari, B. Satyanarayana, Rajeshwar Tewari, Jaggy Shivdasani and Sunit Chokshi.
44.    Nanette Fabray, an award-winning actress, passed away due to natural causes, at her residence in Palos Verdes, California, US on 22nd Feb 2018. She had won three Emmy awards. She had also received the SAG Life Achievement Award in 1987. She had overcome hearing loss and later became an advocate for the rights of the deaf. She was awarded with the President’s Distinguished Service Award and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award for the same.
45.   Suresh Seth, senior Congress leader and former Indore Mayor, died after suffering from age-related health issues, at a hospital in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
46. M S Anantharaman, a popular violinist, passed away due to age-related ailments, at his residence in Mylapore, Chennai.
Prepared By
Sarala Dhavamanoharan
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