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Important Current Affairs of 4 March

NATIONAL:

April 2019 to March 2020 declared as Construction Technology year

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared April 2019-March 2020 as Construction-Technology year at the Construction Technology India-2019 Expo-cum-conference in New Delhi.

• Construction-Technology year emphasizes the role of advanced technology to meet the increasing demand for housing in the country. The declaration of Construction year aims to gives the housing sector a new pace by using the latest technologies available in the world. India has even launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 1.2 crore houses by 2022.

Usha Thorat-led task force to ensure stability of external value of rupee

• The Reserve Bank of India constituted an eight-member task force on offshore rupee markets, headed by Usha Thorat former Deputy Governor, to look into issues related to the markets and recommend appropriate policy measures to ensure the stability of the external value of the rupee.

• The terms of reference of the task force include assessing the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market; study the effects of the offshore markets on the rupee exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market; and recommend measures to address concerns, if any, that may arise out of offshore rupee trading.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs National Security Council meet

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Sunday following heightened tensions with Pakistan

• He Official sources said the meeting was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

• The NSA is tasked with advising the prime minister on matters of national security.

• It was set up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998, with Brajesh Mishra as the first National Security Advisor (NSA).

Sushma Swaraj addresses OIC Foreign Ministers plenary session in Dubai

• External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the plenary session of the foreign ministers’ meet of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation states in Abu Dhabi.

• She presented a picture of the secular fabric of India and began the speech by saying that she stands as a representative of land that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world.

Centre, ADB sign 926 million loan agreement to operationalize two lines of Mumbai Metro

• The Union Government on March 1, 2019 signed a 926 million dollar loan agreement to operationalize two of the Mumbai Metro Rail System.

• The move will ease the distress of millions of commuters each day and help provide a cleaner and less congested city. The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, on the behalf of the Indian Government and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission on behalf of ADB.

• The carriages procured under this project will feature high-level safety features and automation, including surveillance systems, door closing, and train obstacle detectors.

Govt approves Adani Powers Rs 14,000 crore Jharkhand SEZ project.

• The government has approved a Rs 14,000-crore special economic zone (SEZ) project of Adani Power in Jharkhand, which will export the entire power generated in the Unit to Bangladesh.

• It will be ready by the end of 2022.

• The company had sought approval for setting up the project over an area of 425 hectares.

• Two supercritical units of 800 MW each would be set up with an investment of Rs 14,000 crore, which would include setting up of a water pipeline and a power evacuation system.

PM Modi flagged off Tejas Express, fastest train between Chennai and Madurai.

• This train will be the fastest in the Chennai-Madurai corridor and is India’s first semi-high speed fully AC luxury train.

• PM Modi also laid the foundation stone for two other projects which will boost rail infrastructure in Tamil Nadu.

• PM laid the foundation stone for the restoration of rail connectivity between Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi. The 17.20 Km railway line project is worth Rs 208 crore.

• Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for the construction of new bridge Pamban viaduct. This will be India's first ever vertical moving bridge. The cost of this project is Rs 250 crore.

India signed deal with Russian firm to produce 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles

• For the AK-203 Assault Rifles, the deal was signed between the OFB (Ordnance Factories Board) and the Russian company Concern Kalashnikov.

• The AK-203 rifles, the latest derivative of the AK-47 rifles, will be produced at the Indian Ordnance Factory at Amethi's Korwa.

• The new 7.5 lakh rifles will replace the indigenous INSAS rifles in the Army, Air Force and Navy.

• AK-47, officially known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova, is the most basic model followed by AK 74, 56, 100 series and 200 series.

INTERNATIONAL:

NASA created a deep ocean conditions in lab to study origins of life.

• Scientists from NASA, the U.S. space agency, have reproduced deep ocean conditions in the lab to re-create a life that could have formed on the sea floor four billion years ago.

• The study focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. It could offer clues to how life started on Earth. Hydrothermal vents are places on the seafloor where warm water from under the Earth’s crust mixes with near-freezing seawater. These vents form natural chimneys, which play host to all kinds of ocean life.

• The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California made their own miniature sea floors by filling beakers with mixtures that mimic Earth’s primordial ocean.

APPOINTMENTS AND RE-APPOINTMENTS:

Macky Sall has been re-elected as the President of Senegal

• Macky Sall has been re-elected as the President of Senegal. He won the re-election with58.27% of votes cast. Under the election system of Senegal if a candidate wins more than 50% votes there would be no second round voting and he would be announced the winner.

Sports:

Shashank Shekhar claimed 10 km Nepals (COAS) Marathon and Run for Fun.

• Shashank Shekhar won the 10-kilometre race of Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Open Marathon and Run for Fun which was held in Nepal’s Capital- Kathmandu.

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Important Current Affairs of 3 March

National:

7th Guinness Book of World Record Created By DEPwD in Bharuch, Gujarat.

• A National Conference on “Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot. Mr. Gehlot stated that the “7th Guinness Book of World Record” has been created by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).

Doordarshan launches Rock the Night, a programme for rock music.

• Doordarshan today launched Rock the Night, a brand new programme for rock music. This programme will air at DD National from 5th of March. DD has envisioned Rock the Night as a platform for indie rock bands to showcase their talent.

• The show is dedicated to the soldiers who keep the nation safe. He also expressed his love for artists like Cliff Richards, The Bee Gees, and Smokie.

• The crept in the Indian indie rock bands. Director General of Doordarshan, Supriya Sahu said, DD is the heartbeat of the nation.

India’s Food grain output in 2018-19 maybe 281.37 MT: Second Advance Estimate.

• The second advance estimates for the production of most of the crops for the agricultural year 2018-19 been released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

• Data on Production of Food Crops:

♦ Food grains  –  281.37 million tonnes.

♦ Rice – 115.60 million tonnes. (record)

♦ Nutri / Coarse Cereals – 42.64 million tonnes.

♦ Maize – 27.80 million tonnes.

♦ Pulses – 24.02 million tonnes.

♦ Tur – 3.68 million tonnes.

♦ Gram – 10.32 million tonnes.

Cabinet approves Rs 1,450 crore for share capital of RBI in NHB.

• The National Housing Bank (NHB) has been set up to operate as the principal agency to promote housing finance institutions in India.

• Up till now, the authorised capital of NHB stands at ₹2,000 crore of which ₹1,450 crore has been subscribed by RBl. Currently, the capital is fully subscribed by RBl.

IIT (BHU) scientist discovered tadpole-like jets on Sun

• Scientists led by IIT (BHU) researcher Abhishek Srivastava have discovered tadpole-shaped jets coming out of regions with intense magnetic fields on the Sun.

• Formally called pseudo-shocks, the "tadpoles" are made entirely of plasma, which accounts for an estimated 99% of the observable universe.

• It could help understand why corona (Sun's upper atmosphere) is over 200 times hotter than its surface.

Swine Flu cases has increased in Gujarat

• Swine Flu in Gujarat has become an epidemic as almost 100 new cases are reported from across the state per day. So far, 3000 cases and 99 deaths in two months has been reported.

• Since January 1st, 2164 people have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospitals while 853 people are under treatment for H1N1 influenza, which has already claimed 99 lives in this year since January 1st. On average, 80-100 cases and 2-3 deaths are being reported per day for the last two weeks.

Delhi Cabinet approved the reimbursement cost of fitting hydraulic lifts in CNG buses

• The Delhi Cabinet approved the reimbursement cost of fitting hydraulic lifts in 1,000 standard-floor Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses that are going to be procured. In a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Transport Department’s proposal was approved to provide efficient and environmental friendly modes of public transport to Delhiites.

• The hydraulic lifts are to be fitted in 1,000 standard-floor buses, enabling them to be used by differently abled people as directed by both Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. The government has made a commitment before the Supreme Court that it will bear the cost of installation of lifts in 1,000 standard-floor buses.

Cabinet approved the Ordinance for arbitration centre

• The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance for establishing the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) in an effort to make India a hub of institutionalized arbitration. The establishment of institutionalized arbitration will be to the advantage of the public and public institutions in terms of quality of expertise and costs incurred.

• The NDIAC will be headed by a chairperson who will be appointed by the Centre in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. There will also be two full-time or part-time members. They will be eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration.

• The NDIAC Bill, 2019, could not be taken up for consideration and passing by the Rajya Sabha in the recently concluded session. Therefore, the government, in view of the urgency to make India a hub of institutionalized arbitration and promote ‘ease of doing business’, has decided to promulgate an Ordinance: ‘The NDIAC, 2019’.

SPORTS:

Chris Gayle Becomes First Player To Smash 500 Sixes In International Cricket

• West Indies opener Chris Gayle become the first batsman ever to smash 500 or more sixes in international cricket. In the 4th ODI against England in Grenada, Gayle scored 162 runs.

• His innings contained a staggering 14 sixes and powered the Windiest to their highest-ever ODI score of 389.

Sanath Jayasuriya banned for 2 years after ICC anti-corruption probe

• The former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya has been banned for two years from all cricket-related activity by the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

• He was punished for refusing to co-operate with investigations concerning corruption in the country.

• Jayasuriya played 110 Tests, 445 one-day internationals and 31 Twenty20s for Sri Lanka and was also a former captain during his illustrious career between 1989-2011.

• He is also a former member of Sri Lanka's parliament and a former deputy minister

BOOKS:

Arun Jaitley to release book titled Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio in New Delhi

• A book titled, 'Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio' was released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.

• The book is a compendium encompassing 50 editions of the 'Mann Ki Baat' programme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on All India Radio.

• The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi used to communicate in very simple language with people and his Salt Satyagraha had an electrifying effect.

• Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled, he used to carry a small transistor along to listen to Radio News.

APPOINTMENTS:

Ravneet Gill is appointed as MD and CEO of Yes Bank

• Ravneet Gill, Former India chief of Deutsche Bank, took charge as the Managing Director (MD) and chief executive officer of private sector lender Yes Bank. He will have a three-year term.

• Mr. Gill succeeds Rana Kapoor, the co-founder of the bank, whose term ended on January 31, 2019. Mr.Ajai Kumar, one of the board members, was appointed as the interim CEO after Mr. Kapoor’s term ended. Yes Bank decided to search for a new chief executive after the RBI declined to extend Mr. Kapoor’s tenure beyond January 31, 2019, though the board had endorsed a three-year extension.

Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar takes over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command

• Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, who played a prominent role in the Kargil Operations has taken over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force.

• The Air Marshal is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the Flying Branch of the Air Force as a Fighter Pilot in June 1981.

• The Air Marshal reviewed a ceremonial Guard of Honour yesterday and outlined his vision for the Western Air Command. He exhorted all personnel to work with zeal and enthusiasm so as to enable Western Air Command to fulfil the objectives of the IAF and the nation at large.

• The Air Marshal is an Experimental Test Pilot and has flown about 42 types of aircraft.

INTERNATIONAL:

South Korea to help U.S. and North Korea reach a deal

• South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in announced that South Korea will work with the U.S. and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearisation, a day after talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.

• A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.

• South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Mr. Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

OBITURIES:

Sitting Judge of Delhi HC Justice Valmiki J Mehta passed away

• Mehta, who was 59 years old, had assumed office as an Additional Judge of Delhi high court on April 15, 2009.

• Mehta got enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1982 and began his career in law by practising in the Delhi High Court, district courts and various tribunals in civil matters.

• He was appointed a Senior Advocate at the age of 42, on September 22, 2001.

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Important Current Affairs of 2 March

NATIONAL:

Union Bank of India reduced the MCLR by 10 basis points

• Union Bank of India, the State-run lender, said it had reduced the Marginal Cost of funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points across all tenors.

• The lender has reduced its one-year MCLR or the minimum lending rate, against which most of the consumer loans are benchmarked, to 8.60% from 8.70% earlier. The bank has set the new six-month MCLR at 8.50% and two-year at 8.70%.

RBI has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market. It will be headed by former Deputy Governor Usha Thorat and will recommend steps for ensuring the stability of the currency.

• The task force shall examine the issues relating to the offshore rupee markets in depth and recommend appropriate policy measures that also factor in the requirement of ensuring the stability of the external value of the rupee. The committee would submit its report by the end of June 2019.

• The task force will assess the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market, and study the effects on the exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market. It would also recommend measures to address concerns arising out of offshore rupee trading.

Growth Rate in the Core Sector witnessed decline

• The data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries reported that the growth rate eight core sectors which include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement, and electricity witnessed a decline. The core sector which had witnessed a 6.2% growth in January 2018 witnessed a growth rate of 1.8% in January.

• The decline in the output of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity pulled down the growth of eight core sectors to 1.8%. Production of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity contracted 4.3%, 2.6%, and 0.4%, respectively. Coal and cement output slowed to 1.7% and 11% in January as against 3.8% and 19.6% in January 2018, respectively. Natural gas, fertilizers and steel output grew 6.2%, 10.5%, and 8.2 % respectively. The core sector growth would impact the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these segments account for about 41 percent of the total industry output.

Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World’s Most Ethical Companies

• Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for 2019. Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. For the eighth time, Tata Steel has got the recognition in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' category. Tata Steel is one of the only two honourees in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' industry.

• 128 companies are recognized for exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity in the year 2019. The honourees are from 21 countries and 50 industries.

• The companies are listed World's Most Ethical Companies based on 5 factors:

♦ Leadership and Reputation

♦ Ethics Compliance Programme

♦ Culture of Ethics

♦ Corporate Citizenship

♦ Responsibility Governance

DCB Bank launches Open Banking Platform for next generation banking solutions.

•  Creating a collaborative ecosystem with enterprises, fintech and app developers, and enhancing customer-service delivery, DCB Bank announced the launch of its Open Banking Platform.

• More than 20 start-ups, fintech, merchants, enterprises and developers are set to partner with DCB Bank for access to its Open Banking Platform APIs (Application programming interface) and collaborate on innovation and customer centric products.

Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 held between BSF and BGB.

• Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) concluded a three-day Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 as a part of confidence-building measures between the two border guards. The exercise was held in Comilla district of Bangladesh.

• The objective of Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 was to plan and conduct anti-smuggling and anti-criminal activity related operations with an aim to achieve better joint operational efficiency and border management in the area. The exercise involved joint patrolling, anti-smuggling drills, and simulated raids on suspected places in both the countries and checking of goods and identity at international check posts.

PNB bank ranks highest in implementation of Reforms Agenda

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) secured top spot among all public sector banks in the implementation of ‘Reforms agenda’.

• PNB topped the list with a score of 78.4 out of 100 in the EASE-index which is followed by BoB (77.8), SBI (74.6), and Oriental Bank of Commerce (69).

• The EASE (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) report shown significant enhancement in PSB performance on the back of Government’s 4 R's strategy- recognition, recovery, recapitalisation and reforms.

Cabinet approves setting up of 22nd AIIMS at Manethi, Haryana

• The new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Manethi, District Rewari, and Haryana will be established at a cost of Rs 1,299 crore.

• Like other AIIMS in the country, the AIIMS Rewari will also be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

• The new AIIMS will add 100 Undergraduate (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc (Nursing) seats.

IRCTC launched its own digital payment gateway 'IRCTC iPay'.

• With a view to promote Government’s Digital India initiative,  the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) has launched its much awaited own payment aggregator system called "IRCTC iPay”.

• The new system will provide payment options like Credit Card, Debit card, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and International card.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONAS:

Ajay Narayan Jha became Member of the 15th Finance Commission.

• Shri Ajay Narayan Jha joined the 15th Finance Commission as its Member in place of Shri Shaktikanta Das resigned as a Member of the Commission after being appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

• A 1982 batch IAS officer of Manipur cadre, he was the Finance Secretary to the Government of India and served as Secretary to the 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor, Shri Y.V. Reddy.

• The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by a Presidential Order in November 2017 under the Chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh to decide the formula for devolution of revenue between Centre and States.

Naresh Goyal agreed to step down as Jet Airways chairman

• This comes weeks after reports suggested that the cash-strapped Jet airline has agreed to most of the conditions set by its second-largest shareholder Etihad for its revival.

• Etihad had agreed to invest in Jet Airways if Goyal stepped down from the board.

• Etihad Airways owns a 24% stake in Jet Airways

• Jet  airline had a gross debt of ₹8,411 crore as of September-end, including aircraft debt of ₹1,851 crore

AGREEMENTS:

RBI have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan. The Swap agreement will provide India access to 75 billion US dollars against the 50 billion dollars under earlier BSA.

• The bilateral swap agreement will provide India to access the reserves if at any point of time when the need arises. The currency swap makes it easier to improve liquidity conditions. Currency swap agreements help when the economic crisis arises.

• The swap agreements also contribute towards stabilizing the country's balance of payments (BOP) position. The agreement aids in improving confidence in the Indian market.

POLICY:

India’s first policy to protect bank locker launched by IFFCO Tokio General Insurance.

•  IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched ‘bank locker protector policy’, the first stand-alone bank locker cover offered by any insurance company with a plan to protect the contents of a bank locker such as jewellery, title documents, and other valuables.

• The policy offers a cover against various risks including fire, earthquake, burglary, and holdup, infidelity by a bank staff or any act of terrorism.

• Important documents kept in a locker can also be insured under the policy as an add-on cover.

• The policy can be sold both as a retail and a group policy for banks

SPORTS:

Deepak Singh Wins Gold At Makran Cup In Boxing

•  National Boxing champion Deepak Singh (49kg) is the only Indian boxer who won gold medal at Makran Cup in Boxing held at Chabahar, Iran.

The five others claimed silver medals in the Makran Cup in Chabahar, Iran P. Lalitha Prasad (52kg), Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (60kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) claimed silver medals.

INTERNATIONAL:

Russia, China blocked a US resolution on Venezuela in the UN

• Russia and China vetoed a US resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on addressing the crisis in Venezuela.

• Russia's draft resolution -- which urged a settlement "through peaceful means" and insisted that all humanitarian aid be agreed by Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

• Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.

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Important Current Affairs of 1st March

INTERNATIONAL:

India and Sweden intend to increase cooperation on AMR

• Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, who was on a visit to India from 22nd to 25th February 2019, met with Union Health Minister J P Nadda and discussed about Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) which poses a dangerous challenge globally.

• Anti-microbial drugs, when overused, AMR develops as microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungi that become resistant to drugs.

• India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health, in February 2009.

NITI Aayog partnered with Adobe to enhance digital literacy

• NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and software major Adobe has signed a Statement of Intent to collaboration enhancing digital literacy and creativity skills.

• Under the agreement, Adobe would implement the Adobe Digital Disha Programme across 100 schools under Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative. Teachers and Children across these 100 schools would benefit from the creative learning resources via free access to Adobe Spark premium.

Tamil Nadu is the first State in the country to introduce TAVI

• Tamil Nadu is the first State in the country to introduce Tran’s catheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) in the government sector. The TAVI was launched at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital (TNGMSSH), Omandurar Estate, in November 2018.

• Tamil Nadu State government entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Heart Team India to perform the procedure for patients at the TNGMSSH. The procedure costs Rs.20 lakh to Rs.25 lakh in the private sector, while it is done free in the government sector.

• Conventionally, open heart surgery is performed for replacing the aortic valve for treating aortic stenosis. But not all patients such as the elderly are fit to undergo open heart surgery. This is where TAVI helps as in this procedure the valve is replaced through a keyhole procedure from the groin.

Government may offer up to Rs 2.5 lakh subsidy for 60,000 e-cars

• To promote green fuel in India via a Rs 10,000-crore package, government has reportedly proposed a subsidy of up to 2.5 lakh on around 60,000 electric cars in India, whereas hybrid cars may get 20,000 over the next three years.

• For electric buses, the subsidy would be up to Rs 60 lakh.

• This subsidy will come into effect in April.

Punjab Govt seeks Rs 412 crore for dam to stop water to Pakistan

• Punjab government has urged the central government to release Rs 412 crore for the construction of a dam at Makora Pattan on the confluence of Ravi and Ujh rivers in Gurdarpur district by considering it as a national project for stopping India’s river water flow into Pakistan.

• The construction of the dam at Makora Pattan would stop about 600 cusecs of river water flowing into Pakistan and Punjab could use this water for irrigation purposes.

• With this project, Punjab government would also be able to provide clean drinking water to 100 villages and six townships.

New railway zone, named Southern Coast Railway to be headquartered in Visakhapatnam

• Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh.

• Railway, which will be headquartered in Visakhapatnam, will be the 18th zone in the country.

• The new zone will comprise the existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions that currently fall under the South Central Railway.

POLICY:

Cabinet approved the National Mineral Policy 2019 on 28th February

• The Union Cabinet approved the National Mineral Policy 2019 on 28th February 2019. The policy is aimed at bringing about more effective regulation to the sector as well as a more sustainable approach while addressing the issues of those affected by mining.

• The policy will also provide a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation, and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.

• It also aims to increase the share of Indian software products in global market by tenfold, pitches for nurturing of 10,000 technology start-ups in software product industry, including 1,000 such startups in tier-II and tier-III towns.

Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Software Products

• The Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Software Products 2019 that aims to help the industry grow at CAGR of 40% to reach $70-80 billion by 2025 while creating employment opportunities for 3.5 million people.

• The policy aims to adopt a shift in strategy so that IT products also contribute equitably and significantly to the industry along with IT services. The government’s initial outlay of Rs.1, 500 crore is being planned for various schemes under in policy in the next seven years.

• Further, the policy proposes to create a Rs.5, 000 crore fund with industry participation to promote emerging technology such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Block chain, Big Data, and robotics. Of this, government contribution will be Rs.1, 000 crore.

SCHEME:

HRD launched STARS scheme on 28th February

• The Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar launched the STARS scheme on National Science Day that is 28th February. STARS are abbreviated as Scheme for Translational and Advanced Research in Science.

• The Ministry has allocated Rs.250 crores for the implementation of the scheme. Under the scheme 500 science projects will be funded whose selection will be made based on competition. Indian Institute of Science (IISC) will be the coordinator of the scheme.

HRD Ministry Launches SHREYAS Scheme

• Union Human Resources Development Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar, launched the “Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)”.

• Main aim to provide industry apprenticeship opportunities to the general graduates exiting in April 2019 through the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) in New Delhi.

• The program will enhance the employability of Indian youth by providing ‘on the job work exposure’ and earning of stipend.

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

India and Brunei signed an agreement to exchange information on tax and banking matters

• India and Brunei signed a pact for exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection with respect to taxes in order to curb tax evasion and tax avoidance in New Delhi.

• This agreement will facilitate both the countries to exchange information, including banking and ownership information for tax purposes and will also avail mutual assistance in collection of tax revenue claims.

AWARDS:

Mahesh Elkunchwar is to receive META Lifetime Achievement Award.

• Mahesh Elkunchwar, an eminent Indian playwright, has been chosen for Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.

• The award would be conferred on March 12 during the Mahindra Theater Festival.

• Mahesh Elkunchwar is regarded as one of the progressive playwrights of the country and is critically-acclaimed and widely-known for having experimented with a wide range of drama and is considered a powerful force in both Indian and Marathi theatre scene. He has over 30 plays and essays to his credit including works like 'Sultan', 'Holi', 'Garbo', Yatanaghar', and 'Atmakatha'.

CZPDC Bhopal And WZPDC Indore Honoured With Saubhagya Award

• The Central Zone Power Distribution Company (CZPDC), Bhopal and West Zone Power Distribution Company (WZPDC),

• Indore was conferred with the “Saubhagya Award” under Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana at the National Conference of Energy Ministers by the Union Minister of State for Energy, R.K. Singh.

INTERNATIONAL:

India and Sweden intend to increase cooperation on AMR.

• Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, who was on a visit to India from 22nd to 25th February 2019, met with Union Health Minister J P Nadda and discussed about Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) which poses a dangerous challenge globally.

• Anti-microbial drugs, when overused, AMR develops as microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungi that become resistant to drugs.

• India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health, in February 2009.

International Digital Health Symposium inaugurated by Anupriya Patel in New Delhi

• Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Smt. Anupriya Patel inaugurated the International Digital Health Symposium and an exhibition on Digital Health as a part of the Symposium at New Delhi.

SUMMITS:

The 4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit held at New Delhi.

• The 4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit being held at New Delhi was inaugurated by the Union Health Minister J P Nadda in the presence of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad Union Minister of Information Technology. The summit provides an opportunity to support governments and health system reformers in improving the health and well-being of their citizens through digital technologies.

• The Global Digital Health Partnership Summit is being hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP).

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Important Current Affairs 28th February 2019

National :        

Piyush Goyal launched 'Rail Drishti Dashboard' To Track Train Information.

• Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal has launched Rail Drishti dashboard, to promote transparency and accountability of Indian Railways.

• Rail Drishti Dashboard is an online portal containing information related to passenger and freight trains and links to live feeds of IRCTC kitchens.

First Indian made Centaur rocket was successfully launched at Thumb, Kerala.

• The first Indian-made Centaur rocket was successfully launched from the Thumba equatorial rocket station, Kerala on 26th February 2019 to the great jubilation of a large number of scientists.

• Dr.Vikram Sarabhai, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Indian National Committee for Space Research, described that the flight of the two-stage sounding rocket as very satisfactory

• It was a hailed as a momentous event. India is now on the path to long-range development of superior rockets, which will take us to the goal of satellite launching in five years.

Centre brought 42 nonscheduled cancer drugs under price control.

• Centre announced that it had brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30%,which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85%.

• The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, (DPCO) 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control through trade margin rationalization. Department of Pharmaceuticals (DOP) directed manufacturers to fix their retail price based on the price at first point of sale of a product of the non-scheduled formulations containing any of the 42 drugs.

• The NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO. So far, around 1,000 drugs have been brought under price control under the initiative. Non-scheduled drugs are allowed an increase of up to 10% in prices every year, which is monitored by the NPPA.

Union Textile Minister inaugurated Titanwala Museum in Rajasthan.

• Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated the ‘Titanwala Museum’ that showcases the hand block printing of the Chhipa community in Bagru.

• Bagru printing is one of the traditional techniques of printing with natural color followed by the chippas of Rajasthan.

• Suraj Narayan Titanwala took the initiative of setting up the museum.

India has successfully tested fired 2 indigenously developed QRSAM.

•  India has successfully test-fired two indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM) from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha's Balasore district.

• The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars. QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant.

•  The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars

• QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km

• QRSAM has been developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in association with Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited as a replacement to Osa-AK and Kvadrat missile systems.

Mukesh Ambani becomes world's 8th richest with USD 54 bn wealth.

• As per Hurun Global Rich List 2019, Reliance Industries' 61-year-old Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the world's eighth-richest person with a net worth of $54 billion.

• He is the only Asian among the top 10.

• Amazon's Jeff Bezos topped the list for the second consecutive year with a net worth of USD 147 billion.

• With a wealth of USD 96 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranks second, followed by Warren Buffett with net worth of USD 88 billion.

Govt detects Rs 20,000 crore GST evasions in April-Feb FY19.

• The government detected Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion of around Rs 20,000 crore between April 2018 and February 2019.

• Out of this, 10,000 crore has been recovered.

• Currently, GST has 4-tier slab of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, while essential items are zero rated.

DAC approved purchase of defense equipment worth Rs 2,700 crore

• Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) granted approval for procurement of three cadet training ships for the Indian Navy, which would be utilized to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including women officer under trainees.

• DAC meeting was chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

• DAC is the highest decision-making body for defense purchases.

 LAUNCHES:

Assam Launches PRANAM Commission To Protect Parents Of State Government Employees

•  28 February 2019 Current Affairs: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the PRANAM Commission, which is a panel set up to look after the issues concerning a Bill brought in for the protection of parents of state government employees.

Dr. H Chaturvedi’s Book On Quality, Accreditation & Ranking Launched In New Delhi

• 8 February 2019 Current Affairs: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu launched the book titled ‘Quality, Accreditation, and Ranking – A Silent Revolution in the Offing in Indian Higher Education’

• The book is edited by Education Promotion Society for India’s (EPSI) Alternate President Dr. H Chaturvedi in New Delhi.

• On this occasion, the UGC Chairman, Dr. DP Singh, and Management Guru Padma Shri Dr. Pritam Singh were present as the guest of honor.

ISRO to launch defense satellite 'Emisat' in March for DRDO.

• In the special mission, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will also launch 28 third-party satellites and will demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of 'Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle' (PSLV) rocket in March, 2019.

• Electronic intelligence satellite 'Emisat' of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) weighs about 420 kg.

• After launching Emisat at an altitude of 763 km, the PSLV rocket will be brought down to put the remaining 28 satellites into orbit at an altitude of 504 km.

SCHEMES:

Karnataka launched a major water conservation scheme Jalamrutha.

• Karnataka State government launched a major water conservation scheme titled‘Jalamrutha’, which focuses on drought-proofing measures, including protection and rejuvenation of water bodies. The scheme was initiated by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and was cleared by the State Cabinet. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy launched the scheme in Bengaluru.

• Jalamrutha will deploy scientific approaches to water budgeting, water harvesting, and water conservation through the use of geospatial data, satellite imagery, topographical and geological data.

• The scheme will be implemented by key line departments of the government, Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector institutions. It will operate on a four-tier institutional structure with planning and execution committees being set up at village, taluk, district and State levels.

MCCs budget includes Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme

• The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) presented the budget with an outlay of Rs.775 crore for the year 2019-20. MCC introduced new schemes that included Rs.25, 000 for each girl child born in government hospitals in the City, pink toilets for the benefit of women, besides placing dust bins in buses and autorickshaws

• Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Taxation, Finance and Appeals, Shobha presented the MCC Budget 2019-20. She announced the Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme for the benefit of girl children born to residents of the city in government hospitals. The scheme will come into force from April 1, 2019.

• Under the scheme, Rs.25, 000 will be deposited in the form of a bond in a nationalized bank in the name of each girl child born in a government facility. Rs.2.5 crore has been set aside in the Budget for the scheme. The scheme aimed at helping the girls pursue higher education and become financially independent.

 APPOINTMENTS:

Govind Prasad Sharma is appointed as the Chairman of NBT

• Educationist and Author Govind Prasad Sharma has been appointed as the Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT). Govind Prasad Sharma has served as the Principal of Government P.G. College in Madhya Pradesh and in other Educational sectors previously.

• National Book Trust National Book Trust (NBT) is an apex body established by the Government of India in the Year 1957 under the Department Of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

AWARDS:

Telanganas 4 ULBs bagged Swachh Survekshan 2019 awards.

• Telangana’s four Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) bagged Swachh Survekshan-2019 awards. Siddipet, Sircilla, Boduppal, and Peerzadiguda are the four Urban Local Bodies. The awards would be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind and others at a ceremony to be held in Delhi on March 6.

• Every year, cities and towns across India are awarded the title of 'Swachh Cities' on the basis of their cleanliness and sanitation drive as a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was launched in 2014. 

• The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities, provide credible outcomes which would be validated by third-party certification, institutionalize existing systems through online processes and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.

INTERNATIONAL:

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un held second summit in Vietnam

• US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un have begun their high-profile second summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.

• The main focus of the summit is to discuss denuclearization amid claims from Michael Cohen ahead of public hearing.

• US may announce a formal end to the Korean War during the summit.

Muhammadu Buhari re-elected as Nigerian President.

• Buhari, of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, secured 56 percent, or 15.2 million votes, in the February 23 polls.

• His main opponent, former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), received 41 percent or 11.3 million votes.

• Muhammadu Buhari, 76-year-old, has been re-elected for a second four-year term.

• He was first elected president in 2015, becoming the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent and win the presidency.

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Important Current Affairs 27th February 2019

National News

Government cuts airfare for Haj pilgrims after withdrawing subsidy

• The move is part of the Centre’s “empowerment without appeasement” policy Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas said.

• He said airfare reduction will end the exploitation caused under UPA regime.

Delhi gets streetlights with CCTV, Wi-Fi, pollution monitors

• The “smart poles” will be operational by the end of March.

• The NDMC is aiming to install a total of 55 such poles of which 32 have been installed.

India ranks 47th on inclusive Internet Index: Facebook

• India has been ranked 47th out of 86 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

• The scores on the index is based on the scores of Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness categories.

International News

Maldives decline India’s invite for naval exercise ‘Milan’.

• This comes amid the state of emergency in Maldives after the government refused a SC order to release political prisoners.

• India had said it is important that Maldives returns to the path of democracy.

China may overtake US as biggest producer of nuclear power

• China is expected to triple its nuclear capacity in the next 20 years.

• The International Energy Agency said that lesser investment in nuclear energy and no lifetime extension of the existing plants threatened the US’ position as the global leader in nuclear power.

Michelle Obama announces memoir

• Her memoir titled ‘Becoming’ will be published on November 13, 2018.

• The book will be published in 24 languages worldwide

Business News:

Goldman Sachs-backed start up buys crypto exchange Poloniex

• The start-up Circle acquired the crypto exchange Poloniex

• Poloniex, which was founded in 2014, is within the top 20 largest crypto exchanges by trading volume.

PNB reveals additional Rs.1, 300 cr fraud in Nirav Modi case

• PNB said that the fraudulent amount is Rs.1, 300 crore more than the current estimate of Rs.11, 400 cr.

• The amount of over Rs.12, 700 cr is nearly 10 times PNB’s 2016-17 net profit.

Iran plans its own crypto currency to beat US sanctions

• The crypto currency would help Iran evade the potential US sanctions.

• This comes after Venezuela, also hit by US sanctions, launched its own oil-backed crypto currency ‘Petro’.

Sports News:

Karnataka defeat Saurashtra to win Vijay Hazare Trophy

• Karnataka won the tournament for the 3rd time.

• Karnataka put up a total of 253/10 before Saurashtra were bowled out for 212 in 16.2 overs.

Usain Bolt to play charity football match at Man Utd’s home.

• Eight time Olympic gold medal winning sprinter Usain Bolt will lead the ‘World XI’ team against team ‘England’.

• The match will be held on June 10th.

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Important Current Affairs 26th February 2019

National News

PM Modi Inaugurated 40-Acre National War Memorial in New Delhi

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated a new National War Memorial, situated in the India Gate complex in New Delhi, to the nation.

• The National War Memorial, spread over 40 acres in the India Gate complex behind the canopy, is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions.

FAGMIL Signs MoU with Himachal Pradesh to Establish India's 4th White Cement Plant Project

• Under its diversification programme, FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals India Limited (FAGMIL) has taken up a project to establish a white cement plant near village Nohra Dhar in Himachal Pradesh, at a project cost of approximately Rs. 605 crores.

• It will be the 4th white cement plant in the country. The installed capacity of the plant would be 0.3 million tonnes per annum and it will generate the direct employment of approximately150 persons.

Madhya Pradesh Government Launched ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’

• Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath launched the State Government’s flagship scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’ that guarantees 100 days of employment every year to urban youth from economically weaker sections.

• Under the scheme, Rs 4,000 stipend per month during 100 days period, would be given to the youth and they will also be given skill development training in order to become independent. (Only those youths, whose family’s annual income is less than Rs 2 lakh and who are in the age group of 21-30 years, are eligible for the scheme).

INTERNATIONAL

India strikes back: IAF jets destroy Jaish terror camps across LoC

• In retaliation to the deadly Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force fighter jets crossed the line of control in the early hours of February 26, 2019 and attacked Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

• The same was confirmed by the Indian Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale during a press conference in New Delhi on the same day. The Foreign Secretary revealed that India has struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot.

• The Indian Air Force used Mirage-2000 jets to drop 1000 kg of laser-guided bombs causing an estimated casualty of 200-300. In the intelligence led operation, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

Awards

President Conferred 'Gandhi Peace Prize'

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015, 16, 17 and 18 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

• The award comprises a cash award of one crore rupees, a citation in a scroll, a plaque and a traditional handicraft item.

• Here are the awardees that were facilitated at the occasion:

1. For 2015: Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari was given the award for its contribution in Rural Development, Education and Development of natural resources.

2. For 2016: Jointly to Akshaya Patra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.

3. For 2017: Ekal Abhiyan Trust for its contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender, and Social Equality.

4. For 2018: Japan's Yohei Sasakawa for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.

Lifetime Achievement Award For G.R. Karthikeyan

•  G.R. Karthikeyan, father of India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award at the FMSCI annual awards function.

•  FIA president Jean Todt was the chief guest and handed over the awards.

Appointments

 Indra Nooyi Joins Amazon’s Board of Directors

• PepsiCo’s India-born former CEO Indra Nooyi has joined Amazon’s board of directors, the online retail giant. Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer has also joined the Amazon Board.

• She was Pepsico CEO from October 2006 to October 2018, where she also served as the Chairman of its board of directors from May 2007 to February 2019.

Sports News

Afghanistan Scores Highest Ever T20 International Score

• Afghanistan scored 278 for the loss of three wickets from their allotted 20 overs, to register the highest-ever total in T20s at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

• Hazratullah Zazai scored 162 runs from just 62 balls. Zazai became the first player from Afghanistan to score 150 or more runs, and his 236-run opening stand with Usman Ghani became the highest partnership in T20Is.  

Sri Lanka Becomes 1st Ever Asian Team To Win Test Series In South Africa

• Sri Lanka cricket team became the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa after winning the series by 2-0.

• Kusal Perera was given the Man of the Series award. Before Sri Lanka, only Australia and England have defeated South Africa in a Test series at home.

Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta Wins Cannes International Open Trophy

• Indian Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta lifted the Cannes International Open trophy. He took an easy draw with Pier Luigi Basso of Italy in the ninth and final round.

• Abhijeet won the tournament with 7.5 points. It is his first solo International tournament victory.

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Important Current Affairs 25th February 2019

NATIONAL:

GST Council reduces GST Rate on Real Estate projects

• The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council met on February 24, 2019 for its 33rd meeting and slashed GST rate on under-construction residential properties and the affordable housing projects.

• In case of non-affordable houses, the GST rate for under-construction flats and houses has been brought to 5 percent without Input Tax Credit (ITC), down from the present 12 percent. In case of affordable houses, the GST rate has been reduced to 1 percent without ITC from 8 percent.

Aero India 2019 culminates; Drone Olympics held

• The 12th biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, Aero India 2019 culminated on February 24, 2019 at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru.

• For the first time, the 2019 edition of Aero India combined the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the co-involvement of the defence and civil aviation ministries. The 12th edition of Aero India intended to be a “Runway to a billion opportunities” and put India on the Global map.

PM-KISAN: PM Modi launches ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana’ from Gorakhpur, UP

• The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, 2019 launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

• On the launch day itself, the first instalment of Rs 2,000 was directly credited to the bank accounts of selected beneficiary farmers. Around 12 crore farmers are expected to benefit from PM-KISAN. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana was announced in the Union Interim Budget 2019 by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

PM Modi dedicates National War Memorial to the nation

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019 dedicated the National War Memorial to the nation in a solemn ceremonial function in New Delhi.

• The National War Memorial, located near the India Gate in New Delhi, is a fitting tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence. The Memorial commemorates the soldiers who participated and made the supreme sacrifice in Peace Keeping Missions, and Counter Insurgency Operations.

Government launches Rail Drishti Dashboard to keep people informed about ongoing Railway works

• Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched Rail Drishti Dashboard in New Delhi to keep people informed about the work going on in the Railways across the country. The Ministry of Railways will get suggestions and comments through the platform and will plan on future actions.

• The information gathered by technology and other means can benefit if there is proper data analysis.  People will get useful information from Rail Drishti through Railway WiFi facilities that are continuously expanding in the country.

INTERNATIONAL:

Oscars 2019: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ wins most Oscars

• The 91st Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar Awards, were conferred on February 24, 2019 (February 25 as per Indian time). 'Bohemian Rhapsody', nominated for five Oscars, won the most Oscars at the award show.

• The ‘Period. End of Sentence’, a film on menstruation set in rural India, won the Oscar in the Documentary - Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards. The film has been directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment.

Afghanistan begins export to India via Chabahar port

• Afghanistan has begun exports to India through Iran’s Chabahar port. At the inauguration of the new export route in Zaranj city in western Nimroz province, President Ashraf Ghani said Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

• Afghanistan’s exports will increase to two billion dollar from the current one billion dollar in the next year.

• Indian ambassador Vinay Kumar said Afghanistan’s exports to India have increased by 40 percent after the launch of air corridor between Kabul and New Delhi.

 23 trucks carrying 57 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from Zaranj to Chabahar port to be shipped to Mumbai.

Cobra Gold, one of world’s largest multinational military exercises, held in Thailand

• Thailand and the United States hosted the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

• Apart from the 2 countries, 7 countries who participated in the exercise were India, Singapore, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

• The Indian Army participated in the military training exercise with a 14-member contingent.

• Thai Chief of Defense Forces,Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the U.S. Army.

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI formalised USD 75-billion swap pacts with Bank of Japan

• This arrangement would bring in greater stability to the foreign exchange and capital markets in India since it will enable the availability of $75-billion in foreign capital for use as and when the need arises. 

• In February, the rupee had shown signs of a rebound and it remained one of the best performing among the emerging market currencies. 

• The rupee closed at 71.14 on Friday. The local unit fell about 2% so far this year, after an 8.5% drop in 2018 amid sharp swings in global crude oil prices.

SPORTS

India suspended by IOC from Hosting International Sporting Events after Pakistan Shooters were Denied Visa

• The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.

• It was after India denied of entry visas for two shooters from Pakistan who were due to take part in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup event held in New Delhi following the attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Pulwama, which killed at least 40 CRPF paramilitary police.

• The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic–related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

ONGC Rajahmundry wins environmental excellence award

• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)’s Rajahmundry unit won the Energy and Environment Foundation Global Clean Awards-2019 for sustained efforts in pursuit of Swachh Bharat Mission as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a function in New Delhi.

•  It has also received Platinum Award under Apex India Environment Excellence Award 2018from Apex India Foundation for excellence in environmental management in Petroleum Sector.

Manpreet Singh named as Player of the Year and Lalremsiami as Rising Player of The Year by the Asian Hockey Federation

• Harmanpreet Singh was awarded the 2018 Player of the Year award while women’s team striker Lalremsiami as the Rising Player of The Year, by the Asian Hockey Federation.

• Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan and also contributed to the team’s silver medal win at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda. 18-year-old Lalremsiami, has shown remarkable progress in the women’s team with her impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup and the Asian Games where the team won Silver medal and was also a part of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires where theunder-18 team won a silver.

• The Indian men’s team was awarded the Best Performance of The Year for being the only Asian side to have reached the top eight at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

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Important Current Affairs 24th February 2019

NATIONAL NEWS:

Global Business Summit held in New Delhi

• The Global Business Summit can be the Davos of the East, said Vineet Jain, Managing Director of the Times group in the welcome address for the Economic Times Global Business Summit 2019 in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Global Business summit in New Delhi.

• Top Indian policy makers including, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, railways minister Piyush Goyal, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

PM Modi unveils Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme in Gorakhpur

•  Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in Gorakhpur. PM-KISAN scheme, announced in the interim Budget, released earlier this month will provide Rs 6,000 per year to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding/ownership of upto 2 hectares. The amount will be given in 3 installments of Rs 2,000 each.

• The amount will be transferred directly to the bank account of the beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer. After launching the scheme, the Prime Minister also handed over certificates to select beneficiaries of the scheme.

GST on affordable housing properties reduced to 1 pc

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) on affordable housing properties without input tax credit (ITC) has been reduced to one per cent, while effective GST of 5 per cent shall be applicable without ITC on residential properties outside affordable segment, as was decided by the GST Council at its 33rd meeting. The new rate will be effective from April 1, 2019.

• In metros, a flat of 60 square meter carpet area and costing Rs 45 lakh in the apartment will fall in the affordable housing category. In non-metros, the size will be 90 square meter carpet area and costing Rs 45 lakh.

Odisha launches boat ambulance

• The Odisha government launched the boat ambulance service to help patients reach hospitals in remote areas cut off by rivers, at a cost of Rs 5.40 crore. The first boat ambulance was launched at Batighar in the Kendrapara district.

• Six boat ambulances will add to the road fleet and will be part of the 108 ambulance service. Patients from the areas cut off by rivers need to wait long for transportation to the nearest hospital. They would use boats to cross water bodies to the be picked up by 108 or 102 ambulance.

TN becomes first state in mainland to get 2 Coast Guard dists

• Necessitated by frequent issues pertaining to fishermen, Tamil Nadu became the first state in the country to get a second Coast Guard district headquarters – Thoothukudi.

• The first district headquarters is Chennai. Inaugurated by state Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Thoothukudi district headquarters has been set up with an aim to augment security mechanism on the eastern coast and the state in particular.

Chennai to host ‘Science at Sabha’

• The fourth edition of ‘Science at the Sabha’ organized by The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, will be held in Chennai. The programme is part of the institute’s outreach programme to the common man. ‘Science at Sabha’ will be held at The Music Academy in Chennai.

• The event-like feature talks on topics like “Traffic rules in neurons” by Sandhya Koushika, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; “Untwisting the twisted matter” by Vijay Shenoy and “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” by Sitabhra Sinha, The Indian Institute of Mathematical Science, Chennai.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

•  Zimbabwe’s central bank began trading a sharply discounted replacement currency, attempting to ease a cash crunch that has hobbled the economy and plunged millions deep into poverty. Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but, as a chronic hard currency shortage worsened, introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the U.S. currency.

• Effectively reintroducing a national currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said it would carry out a “managed float” of the surrogate, which fetches far less than a dollar on the black market. The bond notes and electronic dollars, locked in individuals’ accounts for months due to a lack of cash, will be merged into a separate currency called RTGS or real-time gross settlement dollars.

SPORTS:

Saurabh wins gold at shooting World Cup

• Indian shooter Saurabh Chaudhary won gold in the men’s 10 meter air pistol category at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. In the final, the shooter created a new world record with a score of 245. This is the second gold for India in this tournament.

• Apurvi Chandela had taken the first gold for India when she won the title in the women’s 10m air rifle category.

APPOINTMENTS:

Brij Bhushan Sharan elected as WFI President for third time

• Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been elected third time unopposed as the President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Election of the Office Bearers and Executive Committee Members of WFI for the next year’s term (2019-2023) was held in New Delhi at the Constitution Club of India.

• Along with Brij Bhushan, I.D. Nanavati has been elected as the Senior Vice President, V.N. Prasood as the Secretary General and Satyapal Singh Deshwal as the Treasurer.

AWARDS:

Manpreet Singh honored with AHF’s Player of the Year Award

• The Asian Hockey Federation has honored Indian skipper Manpreet Singh with the 2018 Player of the Year award. Women team’s striker Lalremsiami has bagged the Rising Player of The Year prize.

• Manpreet led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan while Lalremsiami put up an impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup.

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Important Current Affairs 23th February 2019

APPOINTMENTS:

Uma Nath Singh: 1st Lokayukta of Nagaland.

• Justice Uma Nath Singh took oath as the First Lokayukta of Nagaland on February 22, 2019.

• Governor PB Acharya administered the oath of office to Justice Singh at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Kohima.

Lt Gen Ravi: 3rd member of CoA.

• The Supreme Court appointed Lieutenant General Ravi Thodge as the 3rd member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) for BCCI.

• In 2017, the apex court had appointed a 4-member CoA, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai.

• The other 3 members of the CoA were -- former Indian women cricket captain Diana Edulji, Ramachandra Guha and Vikram Limaye.

D.K. Jain appointed as BCCI Ombudsman.

• The Supreme Court appointed retired judge of the court Justice D.K. Jain as the first BCCI ombudsman.

• He was appointed under the new BCCI Constitution approved on August 9, 2018.

AWARDS AND HONORS:

PM Modi received Seoul Peace Prize 2018.

• PM Narendra Modi received the prestigious Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 for his contribution to international cooperation and fostering global economic growth.

• The award was presented to him by the Seoul Peace Prize Foundation at a grand ceremony.

• A short film on the life and achievements of Prime Minister Modi was also screened at the event.

POLITY:

President promulgated 4 Ordinances.

• President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated 4 Ordinances on 21 Feb 2019.

a.         Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance

b.         Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Second Ordinance

c.         Companies (Amendment) Second Ordinance

d.         Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance, 2019

NATIONAL:

Waste to Wonder' Park inaugurated.

• The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the “Waste to Wonder” Park under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in New Delhi on 21 Feb, 19.

• He also lauded SDMC for improving its rank from 202 to 32 in Swachh Sarvekshan, 2018 ranking.

• Some of the main attractions of the “Seven Wonders Park” are the different sized tall replicas of Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid of Giza, etc.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Scheme for adolescent girls launched in UP.

• UP CM, Yogi Adityanath launched a scheme for girls on 21 February 2019.

• It will focus on girls aged between 11 to 14 years who have left studies and will take steps for proper nutrition and special care for them.

• The state will also observe girls day on 8th of every month at Anganwadi centers across the state.

SPORTS:

ISSF Shooting World Cup held.

• The ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation) World Cup 2019 began in New Delhi on February 21, 2019.

• Various events in the World cup will start from February 23rd and end on 27th at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

• Around 503 shooters from 58 countries will be competing for top honours with 8 of the 10 events offering Olympic quota places.

India Korea start up hub launched.

• PM Narendra Modi launched India Korea start up hub in Seoul on Feb 21, 2019.

• India is one of the most open countries for FDI today and more than 90% of its sectors are now on automatic route for approval.

• India has become the 6th largest producer of renewable energy in the world, as said by PM Modi during the launch.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:

China unveiled first female AI news anchor.

• China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, unveiled the world's first female AI news anchor (Xin Xiaomeng ) to read alongside its male AI news presenters on Feb 21, 2019.

• Earlier, Xinhua also developed Qiu Hao, the world’s first male AI news anchor at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen held in November 2018.

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