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Important Current Affairs of 19th & 20th May

NATIONAL

Govt plans introducing artificial intelligence system in MCA 21 portal

• The union governmentplans to introduce artificial intelligence system in the MCA 21 portal as it seeks to make the compliance process easier as well as ensure routine enforcement activities are done round-the-clock on autopilot basis.

MCA 21 is the electronic backbone for the dissemination of information to all stakeholders, including the regulator, corporates and investors.

• All filings under the companies law are submitted to the ministry through this portal.

• Ministry of Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas has said the ministry would like to introduce Artificial Intelligence in MCA 21 when version 3 of the portal is rolled out in about a year's time.

India sets Guinness World Records of largest laundry lesson with the participation of 400 young men

• India achieved a Guinness World Records of ‘largest laundry lesson’ with the participation of 400 young Indian men.

The event was a part of #sharetheload campaign.

• It was done to share the responsibility of cleaning clothes at home along with the female members of the family

The event was initiated by Ariel India.

• It was hosted by Mandira Bedi and Indian Actor Anil Kapoor also joined the function.Earlier, the largest laundry lesson was achieved by Lion NANOX Team (Japan) at Lion Hirai Research Laboratory in Edogawa, Tokyo, Japan on November 29, 2017. It had 318 people.

Kerala became first state to list Masala Bond in overseas market

• Kerala became the first state to tap into masala bond market by listing the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB)’s masala bond worth of USD 312 million (Rs 2,150 crore) in London Stock Exchange (LSE)’s International Securities Market (ISM).

• The masala bond has tenor of 5-year and a 9.723% coupon

Kerala’s state finance minister Thomas Issac executed this move.

• The main objective of this initiative was to tap masala bond market and to rebuild the infrastructure in Kerala from the proceeds of masala bond.

AGREEMENTS

BSNL partnered with Google for expanding WiFi footprint

• Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) partnered with Google on the occasion of World Telecom Day.

• The main objective is to expand BSNL Wifi footprint in the country.

Currently, there are around 38,000 BSNL Wifi hotspot locations working across the country and one can use these after buying the Wi-Fi vouchers worth of Rs 19 and more.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS

HDFC Capital Advisors launched an initiative termed as HDFC Affordable Real Estate and Technology Programme (HeART).

• HDFC Capital Advisors, (a wholly-owned subsidiary of HDFC Ltd) launched an initiative termed astHDFC Affordable Real Estate and Technology Programme (HeART), the objective of which is to mentor, partner and invest in real estate technology companies which produce innovative products that aim at lowering costs and creating efficiencies in every stage of the development cycle of the affordable housing system.

• Due to the upcoming technology disruptions, all processes like land approvals, planning and design, construction, project management, sales and facilities management would undergo a drastic change.

• HDFC Capital will also be collaborating with leading academic institutions, industry platforms and accelerators which would aid in creating an ecosystem that supports various components in the development of affordable housing.

Panel submits report on digital payments to RB

• A Reserve Bank of India-appointed committee on ‘suggestions on promoting digital payment’. It was headed by Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani has submitted its suggestions on promoting Payment and Settlement Systems in India: Vision 2019 - 2021, digital payments to Governor Shaktikanta Das.

• The five-member panel was encouraging digitisation of payments and enhance financial inclusion through digitisation.

RBI will examine the recommendations of the committee and will link the action points, wherever necessary, in its Payment Systems Vision 2021 for implementation.

• Panel Members: Besides Nandan Nilekani (Infosys co-founder), H R Khan (former RBI deputy governor), Kishore Sonsi (former MD and CEO of Vijaya Bank), Aruna Sharma (former secretary in ministries of IT and steel) and Sanjay Jain (chief innovation officer, Centre for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship (Cll E), 11M Ahmedabad).

RECOGNITION

Nancy Pelosi honoured with 2019 John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

• The USA's House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was honoured with 2019 John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She was recognized for putting national interest above her party's interest, for her efforts to pass former President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law(Obama Care) and also for helping Democrats reclaim control of U.S. House during 2018 elections.

• She has served in House of Representatives since 1987.

• Previous Honorees of the award includes former Presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford, and prominent lawmakers Rep. John Lewis and late Sen. John McCain.

About JFK Profile in Courage Award:

It is an annual award that was created in 1989 by members of President J.F. Kennedy’s family.

It seeks to honor J.F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage which he admired most. The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the local, federal or state level whose actions speaks of qualities of politically courageous leadership.

OBITUARIES

I M Pei The Master Architect Passes Away

• I M Pei, a dominant figure in American architecture for more than three decades who designed the Louvre’s crystal pyramid, has passed away.

• Pei’s more than 50 projects included the Musee d’Art Moderne in Luxembourg (2006) and the 72-story Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong (1989).

• He was honored with the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 1979; the Grande Medaille d’Or from the Academie d’Architecture de France; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the USA.

SPORTS

PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal to spearhead Indian challenge at Sudirman Cup in China

• Sudirman Cup tournament will begin at the Guangxi Sports Center Gymnasium in Nanning, China .

• The Top shuttlers PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will spearhead the Indian challenge at this prestigious tournament.

• The Indian team will begin their campaign tomorrow against Malaysia in Group 1-D.India reached the quarterfinals twice in the 2011 and 2017 editions but failed to cross the last eight stage.

Sudirman Cup is a mixed team Badminton Championship held every two years.

• There are 12 elite teams that will take part in the tournament. Each group comprises of three teams, with the top two qualifyings for the quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal claimed the Italian Open 2019 title

• Rafael Nadal has won a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 title by defeating Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final 2019. This is his ninth Rome title. 

• Nadal dominated in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win broke a tie with his longtime rival Djokovic. For his victory, Nadal received 1,000 ATP Ranking points and earned ₹7.5 crore. Djokovic produced an error-strewn performance in his 54th meeting with Nadal.

• After three semi-final defeats in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal has returned to his best form ahead of Roland Garros and clinched his first title of the season.

Result of Italian Open 2019:

Men's Singles:

Spain Rafael Nadal

Women's Singles:

Czech Republic Karolína Plíšková

Men's Doubles:

Colombia Juan Sebastián Cabal / Colombia Robert Farah

Women's Doubles:

Belarus Victoria Azarenka / Australia Ashleigh Barty.

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Important Current Affairs 27th April 2019

NATIONAL:

About 200 US companies seeking to move manufacturing base from China to India: Report.

• US companies are planning to set up an alternative to China by investing in India, said USISPF

• USISPF’s recommendation to the new government would be to accelerate the reforms and bring transparency

Uber is set to hit the road for the year’s biggest IPO.

• Over the past decade, Uber Technologies Inc. proved itself to be one of the most prolific young fundraisers ever. It pulled together more than $20 billion from private investors. After burning through more than half that amount in just the last three years, Uber will soon see whether it can recreate that magic on the stock market.

India hikes wheat import duty to 40% to support local farmers.

• The government on Friday said it has raised import duty on wheat to 40% from 30% in a bid to support local farmers. Indian flour millers imported 1.65 million tonnes of wheat in 2017-18 fiscal year, down from 5.7 million tonnes the year before. India's wheat production is estimated to rise by 2% in 2018-19 to record 99.12 million tonnes.

INTERNATIONAL:

Chinese brands take 66% of Indian smartphone market: Report.

• Chinese smartphone brands captured a record two-thirds of the Indian smartphone market in the first quarter of 2019, Counterpoint's Market Monitor research said. China's Xiaomi was on the top with a 29% share while South Korea's Samsung dropped to 23% from 26% last year. Indian brands reached their lowest-ever share owing to lack of innovation and slow growth, Counterpoint said.

Donald Trump to withdraw US from Arms Trade Treaty.

• US President Donald Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the international Arms Trade Treaty. The agreement, signed by former US President Barack Obama in 2013, aims to regulate the sale of weapons between countries. White House said the treaty "fails to truly address the problem of irresponsible arms transfers" because other top arms exporters haven't signed it.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

China smartphone maker Leagoo enters India, to invest $200mn.

• Chinese smartphone maker Leagoo has entered the Indian market with the launch of three of its smartphone models. The mobile maker said it plans to invest around $200 million (about ₹1,397 crore) to set up a manufacturing unit in India. The company targets to generate a turnover of ₹200 crore by the financial year ending 2019.

DAYS:

World Immunization Week is observed from 24 to 30 April.

• World Immunization Week 2019 is being observed from 24-30 April. The 2019 theme is Protected Together: Vaccines Work. World Immunization Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the worlds most successful and cost-effective health interventions.

World Immunisation Week 2019 celebrates Vaccine Heroes from around the world from parents and community members to health workers and innovators who help ensure that all are protected, at all ages, through the power of vaccines.

SPORTS:

Gaganjeet Bhullar wins 'Outstanding Achievement as a player' award.

• Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar won the 'Outstanding Achievement as a player' award at the fourth edition of the annual India Golf Industry Association (GIA) awards. Bhullar won the 2018 Fiji International, a European Tour event, and also became the youngest golfer on the Asian Tour to achieve nine career victories on tour.

Abhishek Verma won gold in 10m Air Pistol at ISSF World Cup.

• Abhishek Verma won the 10m air pistol gold medal at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)World Cup at Beijing, China. He clinched the top spot with a total score of 242.7. Russia’s Artem Chernousov took silver. His brilliant performance in the Shooting World Cup Final also secured a fifth Olympic quota for India.

OBITUARIES:

Terry Rawlings, the British film and sound editor has passed away.

• Terry Rawlings, a British film and sound editor has passed away. He was an Oscar nominee for his work on Best Picture winner “Chariots of Fire,”. He was born in 1933.  The 5-time BAFTA nominee also received a career achievement award from the American Cinema Editors society in 2006.

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Important Current Affairs of 26th April

NATIONAL:

Uber lowers valuation as rival Lyft shares fall after IPO: Reports.

• Uber is aiming for a valuation of $80-90 billion in its Initial Public Offering (IPO), less than its previous expectations of $90-100 billion, Bloomberg reported. This reportedly comes as Uber's US rival Lyft witnessed a "disappointing debut" and substantial fall in shares, the Wall Street Journal reported. Lyft was valued at $24.3 billion in first ride-hailing IPO in March.

India’s crude oil production falls for seventh straight year.

• India's domestic crude oil production plunged over 4% in 2018-19, registering its seventh consecutive yearly fall. India produced 34.2 million tonnes of crude oil in FY19, down from 35.7 million tonnes in the previous year, according to data released by the government. Fields of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India missed production targets.

Hero MotoCorp Q4 net dips over 24% to ₹730 crore.

• The company sold 78,20,745 units in 2018-19 as compared with 75,87,154 units in 2017-18

• The company's board recommended a final dividend of ₹32 per equity share of ₹2 each (1,600%) for 2018-19

INTERNATIONAL:

Amazon posts $1 billion profit for each of first 3 months of 2019.

• World's richest person Jeff Bezos-led Amazon made profits of over $1 billion a month for the first three months with profits totalling $3.6 billion, the company announced. First quarter sales reached $59.7 billion, while profits were more than double compared to last year. Amazon cloud, which hosts data for Netflix, Airbnb, among others, continued growth with a 41% sales increase.

Naspers to exit MakeMyTrip as China’s Ctrip deepens its shareholding.

• Following this, Ctrip’s stake in MakeMyTrip will be approximately 49% along with 4% of total voting rights

• Ctrip and Naspers invested $330 million into MakeMyTrip around two years ago

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

India may extend deadline for imposing retaliatory tariff on 29 US items by 14 days.

• The commerce ministry is expected to recommend to the revenue department, under the finance ministry, to extend the deadline for imposing higher tariffs

• If accepted by the finance ministry, the revenue department would issue a notification to that effect

India, China step on the gas on oil sourcing plan.

• The two are in talks to form a consumers’ collective for joint sourcing of oil

• The coming together of China and India may change global energy equations

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Yes Bank reports its first ever quarterly loss of ₹1507 crore.

• Provisions during the quarter increased more than 9 folds to ₹3661.7 crore as against ₹399.64 crore in the year-ago quarter.

• The bank posted a net loss of ₹1506.64 crore for the three months ended 31 March compared to a profit of ₹1179.44 crore in the year-ago period

Finance ministry approves EPF interest rate hike.

• The finance ministry has ratified the hike of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) interest rate to 8.65% as approved by retirement fundmanager EPFO. ... This was a 10 basis point increase from the 8.55% EPF interest rate announced by the retirement fund for 2017-18.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Sri Lanka police chief resigns over serial bomb blasts.

• Sri Lanka's Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara has resigned over failures that led to the serial bomb blasts that killed around 250, the country's President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday. "He has sent his resignation to the acting defence secretary. I'll nominate a new IGP soon," Sirisena added. Earlier, Sri Lanka's defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned over the blasts.

DAYS:

World Intellectual Property Day – April 26, 2019,Reach for 

• Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

• Faster, stronger, higher! The drive to test our abilities, the thrill of competition, and the awe we experience in watching ordinary people achieving extraordinary feats, have fueled our fascination with sports for thousands of years.

SPORTS:

Panghal wins India's 1st gold at Asian Boxing C'ships.

• Amit Panghal claimed India's first gold medal at the ongoing Asian Boxing Championships on Friday after defeating South Korea's Kim Inkyu in a unanimous decision in the 52kg category. Deepak Singh and Kavinder Singh Bisht had to settle for silver medals after losing their finals in the 49kg and 56kg categories respectively.

Wrestlers Divya Kakran, Manju win bronze at Asian C'ships.

• Indian wrestlers Divya Kakran and Manju Kumari won bronze medals at Asian Wrestling Championships on Thursday. The 21-year-old Divya defeated Mongolian wrestler Battsetseg Soronzonbold in 68-kg category while Manju secured bronze by beating Vietnam’s Thi Huong Dao in 59-kg category. Bajrang Punia on Tuesday won India's maiden gold medal at the tournament.

17-yr-old wins WC silver, secures Olympic quota for India.

• Seventeen-year-old Divyansh Singh Panwar secured an Olympic quota after he added to India's medal tally by finishing second in the men's 10m air rifle event at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Beijing, China. The 17-year-old shooter had earlier won India a gold medal in the mixed team event along with Anjum Moudgil.

OBITURIES:

Lt Commander dies while fighting fire on board INS Vikramaditya.

• Lieutenant Commander DS Chauhan died after leading the firefighting efforts on board INS Vikramaditya near Karwar, Karnataka. The aircraft carrier caught fire while entering the harbour this morning, however, it was brought under control without affecting the ship's combat capability. The officer suffered loss of consciousness and was taken to the Naval hospital at Karwar but couldn't be revived.

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Important Current Affairs of 23th March

NATIONAL:

Uttarakhand plans to introduce caravans in major spots to boost tourism.

• The government of Uttarakhand in a bid to promote tourism will be introducing mobile caravans or motor homes equipped with every facility you can expect to find in a regular house. The portable homes will enable you to access remote locations. The plan also includes the development of parks for the caravans to be stationed.

• These complexes will provide water, electricity and waste disposal facilities. This way, coupled with the government’s endeavour to build homestays in and around popular tourist spots, soon most Himalaya vistas will be enjoyable from your windowsill. We are working on a plan to introduce fleets of mobile caravans equipped with all facilities available in homes, which will be introduced soon.

Corporate Affairs Ministry releases national guidelines on responsible business conduct

• Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs released the National Guidelines on responsible business conduct and revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on social, environmental and economic responsibilities of business, 2011.

• These guidelines on responsible business conduct aim to urge businesses to actualise the following principles in letter and spirit:

•  Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is ethical, transparent and accountable.

• Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe.

•   Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains.

•  Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders.

•  Businesses should respect and promote human rights.

•  Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.

CSK to donate IPL opener proceeds to families of Pulwama attack.

• The cricket extravaganza Indian Premier League begins on Saturday with its 12th edition. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will take on Royal Challengers, Bangalore at Chennai in the opening game.  According to the CSK director, the entire ticket proceeds of this match will be given to the families of CRPF personnel killed in the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama. Another IPL team, Kings XI Punjab, recently donated five lakh rupees each to families of five CRPF soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack.

India Post released stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh.

• India Post released a special stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh at an event in the presence of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh founder Sonam Wangchuk who spearheaded the Ice Stupa initiative.  Ice Stupas refer to artificial glaciers. The water from these artificial glaciers melt in the springtime, just when the fields need Leh lies in the cold desert region and most villages in the region face acute water shortage in the streams whereas in June there is an excess of water and even flash flooding due to the fast melting of the snow and glaciers in the mountains. By September all farming activities end and yet a smaller stream flow throughout the winter steadily but wastefully going into the Indus river without being of use to anybody.

• Ice Stupas are aimed at reducing water crisis in the region and also to convey a message to the world that how the Mountain people are forced to do such innovative ideas to solve the water crises, Ice Stupas also sends a message to all the people who live in big cities to not use resources in such a way that it creates problem for mountain people.

INTERNATIONAL:

New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons.

• New Zealand imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again. About New Zealand Capital: Wellington Currency: New Zealand dollar.

SPORTS:

BWF badminton rankings 2019: Lakshya, Riya break into top 100.

• Young Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen and Riya Mookerjee broke into the top-100 among Men’s and Women’s singles players in the latest World Badminton Rankings. Making a massive jump of 28 places, Lakshya Sen is placed 76th. Riya Mookerjee climbed up 19 spots to be placed 94th. In the women's singles rankings, P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are static with Sindhu at sixth and Saina at ninth position.

• Japan's Kento Momota is leading the men's chart while Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying is topping the women's singles list. Among men, B Sai Praneeth also moved up three places to 19th. Kidambi Srikanth remains static and is the best placed Indian in the men's rankings at seventh. He is followed by Sameer Verma (14th), H S Prannoy (24th), Subhankar Dey (43rd), Parupalli Kashyap (48th), Ajay Jayram (52nd) and Sourav Verma (53rd).

India to face Nepal for title clash at SAFF Women's Championship.

• In football, India clinched the SAFF Women's Championship for the fifth time in a row, defeating hosts Nepal 3-1 in the final at Biratnagar. In the first half, Dalmia Chhibber of India scored the first goal of the match which was equalled by Nepal's Sabitra Bhandari at the 33rd minute. In the second half, Grace Dengmei scored the second goal at 63rd minute and Anju Tamang scored third and decisive goal in the 76th minute.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

Fitch Cuts India GDP Growth Forecast For FY20 To 6.8%.

• Fitch Ratings cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8% from its previous estimate of 7%, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy. The rating agency also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7% from 7.3% and 7.1% from 7.3%, respectively.

Defence Ministry clears proposal to buy 10 lakh 'Made in India' hand grenades for Army.

• The Rs 500 crore proposal comes shortly after the Defence Ministry cleared the acquisition of assault rifles and signed a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 rifles for the infantry units of the Indian Army. The new hand grenades will replace the existing inventory, HE-36 grenades manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board.

• The multi-mode grenades have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Recently, the government also signed a contract worth Rs 700 crore for procurement of 70,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles with a US manufacturer.

RBI denies IDBI Banks proposal to name change.

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has turned down IDBI Bank’s proposal to change its name following the transfer of a controlling 51% stake to LIC, insurance behemoth, from the government of India.  The board of IDBI Bank had, last month, sought the RBI’s approval for a change in the name of the lender to either LIC IDBI Bank or LIC Bank following the takeover by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). However, RBI did not elaborate on the reasons for denial by the regulator for changing the name.

PFC to buy 52.63 percent govt shares in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by March-end.

• State-owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will acquire the entire 52.63 per cent shares of the government in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by the month-end, a move that will help the centre to meet its disinvestment target.

• REC Limited is a public Infrastructure Finance Company in India’s power sector. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking and finances and promotes rural electrification projects across India. The government proposes to raise Rs 80,000 crore from disinvestment during the fiscal ending March 19 and has so far raised Rs 56,473.32 crore. With completion of PFC-REC deal, the amount will increase to over Rs 70,000 crore.

AWARDS:

Brazilian astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wins 2019 Templeton Prize.

• Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser (60) was awarded 2019 Templeton Prize worth $1.4 million for his work on blending science and spirituality. It makes him first Latin American to win this award. Templeton Prize is awarded annually on person for outstanding his/her contributions in affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Mother Teresa was the first winner in 1973. Some of its other recipients include Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1975), Dalai Lama (2012) etc. In 2018, it was awarded to King Abdullah II of Jordan.

OBITUARIES:

India-Pakistan war hero, Captain M.N. Samant died aged 89 years.

• Captain Mohan Narayan Rao Samant of the Indian Navy, a 1971 India-Pakistan war hero, who was honoured by Bangladesh as a ‘Friend of Liberation War’, has passed away at the age of 89. The Maha Vir Chakra awardee was instrumental in India waging a covert maritime war against shipping in the then East Pakistan. He had trained over 400 Bengali college students as maritime commandos for carrying out mass raids and inflicting damages to Pakistani shipping vessels in the run up to the 1971 war.

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Important Current Affairs 17th March 2019

NATIONAL:

India sets aspirational target for engineering exports at USD 200 bn by 2025.

• India can achieve a three-fold "aspirational" increase in its engineering exports to reach $200 billion by 2025, if concerted efforts are made by the government and industry to develop a conducive ecosystem, and ensuring inputs at competitive prices, according to an EEPC India-Deloitte strategy paper. India's engineering exports, which contribute 25 per cent to the overall merchandise shipments, are projected to touch about $80-82 billion in the current financial year ending March 31.

West Bengal has maximum first-time voters in Lok Sabha polls.

• According to Election Commission, West Bengal has the maximum number of first-time voters, around 20.1 lakh, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. WB is followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with around 16.7 lakh and 13.6 lakh first-time voters, respectively. The number of people eligible to vote has reportedly increased by 8.4 crore as compared to 2014 General Elections. Over 1.5 crore voters are in the age group of 18-19 years. These "young voters" constitute 1.66 per cent of the total electors.

AFINDEX 2019 held at Pune.

• Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian Army and 16 African nations will be conducted in Pune from March 18 to 27. The joint exercise would be held at Pune's Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering in Kirkee. 

Features of AFINDEX-19:

♦ 10 personnel, each from the participating nations from the African continent and personnel of Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army will participate in the joint exercise

♦ The exercise aims to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter through practical

♦ Contingents from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Niger & Zambia are part of the joint exercise together with officers from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar as Observers

Erode Turmeric received GI tag.

• Erode Turmeric has finally received GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry. Erode is the city in the state of Tamil Nadu. The product to acquire GI tag has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics, which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

The uniqueness of the Erode Turmeric:

♦ Erode Turmeric is golden yellow in colour with resistance to pests after boiling

♦ Erode turmeric contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content

♦ Erode Turmeric is grown in hot moist conditions prevalent in the area with temperature ranging from 20 degrees to 37.9 degrees Celsius with an average of 600 to 800 mm rainfall in a year Geographical Indication defines the goods as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, provided a given quality reputation or other characteristics of the product are attributable to its geographical origin.

Income Tax dept cracks down on terror funding in Kashmir valley.

• Income Tax Department conducted search actions at 5 locations in the Kashmir Valley. Few places in Jammu were also searched. In a release, the CBDT said, these actions are part of the Department’s continued drive against use of black money by disruptive elements in the State.

• It said, the operations also send a message of deterrence and obviation to those intending to vitiate the democratic process of free and fair elections.  The preliminary results are extremely encouraging. In the aggregate, undisclosed cash of one crore 44 lakh and unaccounted jewellery of 2.48 crore rupees has been seized.

NITI Aayog and USAID organised IEMF.

• Niti Ayog in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the first workshop on the development of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF). The workshop was organized under the Sustainable Growth Pillar of the India-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership.

•  IEMF aims to improve cooperation and coordination between modelling teams, the Government of India, knowledge partners and think-tanks, build the capacity of Indian institutions, and identify issues for joint modelling activities and future areas of research. The workshop featured eight expert sessions which saw discussions around the various aspects of setting up an India-centric energy modelling platform and was attended by various central government ministries and agencies.

SPORTS:

South Africas Duminy announces retirement from ODIs after 2019 World Cup.

• The 2019 World Cup will be Duminy's third appearance in the tournament, having featured for South Africa in 2011 in the subcontinent and in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand. Allrounder Jean-Paul Duminy had already retired from Test cricket in September 2017 after featuring in 46 matches. Duminy has played 193 ODIs so far - scoring 5047 runs at an average of 37.39 - in addition to bagging 68 wickets.

Argentina, Colombia set to co-host Copa America in 2020.

• Argentina and Colombia have been chosen in principle to co-host the 2020 Copa America. The 2020 Copa América will be the 47th edition of the Copa América. 2019 Copa América will be  staged in Brazil between June 14 and July 7. The Copa América is the world's oldest international football tournament. The event was first held in 1916 in honour of the 100th anniversary of Argentina's independence—with Uruguay winning the inaugural title.

Sourav Ganguly appointed as advisor of Delhi Capitals for IPL 2019.

• Former India captain Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the advisor of Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Delhi Daredevils) for the upcoming edition of Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL), where he will work closely with the team’s head coach Ricky Ponting. With Captain Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals will be facing Mumbai Indians on 24th March 2019 at the Wankhede Stadium.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

State Bank of India launched YONO Cash for cardless withdrawal of cash.

• State Bank of India launched ‘YONO Cash’ for cardless withdrawal of cash at over 16,500 SBI ATMs across the country. With this facility, customers can initiate the cash withdrawal process on the YONO app and set a six-digit YONO Cash PIN for the transaction.  They will also get a six-digit reference number for the transaction on their registered mobile number via SMS. The withdrawal has to be completed in the next 30 minutes at the nearest ATM. The initiative will also address their concern of using debit card at the ATMs for cash withdrawals by eliminating possible risk associated with it.

AWARDS:

Manmohan Singh presented the Business Line Changemaker of the Year award to Arun Jaitley.

• Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley received the award over successful implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The award was also presented to the petitioners against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised homosexuality.

Indian Embassy in Nepal awarded 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students.

• The Indian Embassy in Nepal has announced 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students for continuing various undergraduate courses at colleges and universities. The scholarships were granted under the Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme.

• Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme was initiated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal to mark the completion of 50 years of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation. This year the scholarship programme covered 36 undergraduate courses including MBBS, BDS, BE, BSc and BBA The recipients of the scholarships represent 50 districts of Nepal. Under the scheme, an MBBS/BDS student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for five years, a BE student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for four years and a student studying in other undergraduate courses receives NRs. 3,000/- per month for three years. Those provided scholarship included 45% of girls and 8% differently-abled students.

INTERNATIONAL:

India welcomes France's decision to sanction Masood Azhar.

• India welcomed the decision taken by France to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar.  In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, Azhar who is a Pakistan-based and his outfit is UN proscribed terrorist organisation who is responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack. Earlier, France has decided to freeze all assets of Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, JeM chief Masood Azhar, in the application of the country's Monetary and Financial Code.

• The French government's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France always been and always will be by India's side in the fight against terrorism.  France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in the application of the Monetary and Financial Code.                                  

OBITUARIES:

Goa CM Manohar Parrikar Passes Away Aged 63 After Battle with Pancreatic Cancer.

• Manohar Parrikar, Goa Chief Minister and former defence minister, has passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and had been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since.

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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 21th February 2019

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

Joint Statement between India and Namibia during President's visit to Namibia.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for a MoU between India and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

•  MoU contains standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including promotion of exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.

• The MOU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/ capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP). It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration and providing a leg-up to it in conducting elections in their respective countries. This would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

India-OECD pact approved.

• The Union Cabinet approved the agreement between India and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

• It has been done for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

• PISA will be conducted by the OECD in 2021. The agreement was signed on January 28, 2019.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM.

• The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022.

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector.

• While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar program would get Rs 11,814 crore.

NATIONAL:

Union Cabinet Approves Implementation Of New Rural Livelihood Scheme.

• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. on Tuesday approved the implementation of the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP).

• This project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be through loan assistance from the World Bank.

• The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion, access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

Dearness Allowance (DA) For Government Employees, Pensioners Increased By 3%.

• The cabinet on Tuesday announced that it had approved a 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance or DA, a move that will benefit more than one crore central government employees and pensioners from January 1, 2019.

• The decision will cost the exchequer over Rs. 9,000 crore.

• Dearness allowance is a component of salary paid to employees to counter the effect of inflation.

• The 3 per cent increase will take the DA and Dearness Rate (DR) for pensioners to 12 per cent.

PM visits BHU in Varanasi; inaugurates Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Hospital.

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited BHU in Varanasi today. 

• He inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

• Governor of UP Shri Ram Naik, CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Odisha CM Launches KALIA Scholarship for Farmers’ Children.

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today unveiled KALIA Scholarship (KALIA Chhatra Brutti) at the Secretariat here for the children of the KALIA Scheme beneficiaries, who are studying and aspiring for technical and professional education.

• After taking the historic step towards transforming the economic standards of the farmers of Odisha through Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the State Government has come up with KALIA Scholarship in order to ensure human resource development among the farming families across the State.

• KALIA Scheme is first of its kind assistance mechanism for farmers in India and has been followed by others as well for its noble means, ideation and inclusiveness.

OBITUARIES:

Acclaimed Hindi Author Namvar Singh Dies At 92.

• Celebrated Hindi author and literary critic Namvar Singh died in the national capital late on Tuesday night. He was 92.

• Mr. Singh breathed his last at 11.51 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Science's Trauma Centre, family sources said.

• Hindi writer, senior journalist, editor and critic Om Thanvi posted about the author's demise on Facebook and said the cremation ceremony of Namvar Singh would take place at the Lodi crematorium on Wednesday afternoon.

DAY AND EVENT:

World Day of Social Justice 20 February.

• Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

• We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

• For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labor Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

APPOINTMENTS:

Anupama elected Astronomical Society of India president, first.

• Dr.G C Anupama has been elected president of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI), becoming the first woman to head the prime association of professional astronomers in the country.

• She was elected to the post in the ASI Executive Council elections for triennium 2019-22 held last week, according to the Society website.

• Presently the Dean and Senior Professor at the Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Anupama is in the Indian core team which is part of the international team engaged in establishing the thirty meter telescope (TMT) at cost of over USD 1 billion in USA (Hawaii).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

NGO Yuwa won Laureus Sport.

• Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

• The NGO works for the girl empowerment.

• The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls.

EXTRAS:

• A.K. Sharma has been re-appointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.

• Saudi Arabia became the 73rd nation to sign the International Solar Alliance. ISA was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

• Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Important Current Affairs 18th February 2019

NATIONAL

National Banana Festival 2018 to be held in Kerala from 17 to 21 Feb.

•Thiruvananthapuram is going to host National Banana Festival 2018 on February 17. It will be a five-day event to be held at Vellayani Dei Temple grounds at Kalliyoor. This festival will be inaugurated by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

•The main draw of this fest will be the 100 varieties of banana, which will be on display. Around 200 stalls will be set up to showcase these banana varieties. And mainly for this fest, all varieties of banana have been sourced from Kerala and various parts of India. Also, special value-added items for consumption, especially prepared from this fruit, will be there in this exhibition.

•Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will be inaugurating this exhibition in National Banana Festival 2018 in Kerala, whereas MP Suresh Gopi will be presiding over the inaugural function.

Kerala Govt to geotag 10 lakh livestock farmer houses.

•Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (PTI) the Kerala government is gearing up to geotag the houses and farms of over 10 lakh livestock and poultry farmers in the state as part of its massive digitisation drive.

•The objective is to compile a comprehensive digital repository of the information of animal husbandry and dairying in the state and integrate the data using the Geographical Information System (GIS), official sources said. The state Animal Husbandry Department has a database of over eight lakh farmers and houses and farms of over 60,000 of them have already been geotagged under the ambitious initiative.

•It also plans to make the functioning of the Department paperless in the next 6-7 months as part of the digitisation drive, for which 23 mobile applications will be developed, official sources said. Besides the data of the houses and farms, the status of domestic animals and birds, the information of veterinary hospitals and related offices would also be linked through the GIS technology.

Iran President Lands in Delhi.

• Iran President Hassan Rouhani has entered the second day of his three day visit to India.

• Mr. Rouhani reached Hyderabad yesterday and is set to visit a number of tourist landmarks, including Hyderabad's Qutub Shahi tombs, the Salar Jung Museum, Golconda Fort as well as Mecca Masjid.

• He is also set to address a Muslim congregation at the Mecca Masjid, after he performs his Friday prayers. This is Mr. Rouhani's second visit to Hyderabad and his first after he assumed charge as Iran's president.

Assam govt to set up 3 Terminal Mart for agricultural products.

• Assam State Government will be setting up 3 Terminal Mart for agricultural products in the state in order to give a boost to agricultural market in the state.

• Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board is working towards setting up such marts at Silchar, Jorhat and Guwahati.

• Chairman of State Agricultural Marketing Board, Palit Kumar Bora has stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to develop Asia’s largest banana market at Darangiri in Goalpara district of Assam.

• Besides, 6 new Krishi Vigyan Kendras are being set up in Assam to help the farmers in various agro-based sectors

PM Modi lays foundation stone of Navi Mumbai airport, phase I to be ready in 4 years.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the long overdue airport project at Navi Mumbai on Sunday. PM Modi said, "Issue of Navi Mumbai airport has been pending for years. And, this is not the only project that is pending.

• Estimated cost for constructing this airport is Rs 16700 crore. It will have two parallel runways unlike Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which has only one runway.

Fiji signs Declaration of Partnership with TERI.

• Island nation Fiji today signed a declaration of partnership with India's The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for assistance in tackling climate change effects and achieving environmental sustainability.

• The declaration was made on sidelines of the ongoing World Sustainable Development Conference (WSDS 2018) here.

• It was signed by Joshua Wycliff, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Environment of Fiji and Ajay Mathur, the Director General of TERI.

INTERNATIONAL:

Amazon overtakes Microsoft as the 3RD most valuable company in the world.

•Tech giant Amazon has overtaken Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable listed company. The online giant was valued at $810 billion as compared to Microsoft at $789 billion.

• It is the first time Amazon - founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 - has gained the top position in the listed market. The change happened on Monday as shares of the online retail giant rose by 3 percent, increasing its market value to $797 billion.

• Microsoft’s stock to rose but only by 2%, leaving the value at $789 billion by the end of the trade.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION:

Shoaib Akhtar named Pakistan Cricket Board's brand ambassador.

• Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has been appointed as the advisor to the chairman on cricket affairs and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) brand ambassador.

• Akhtar announced on Twitter that he “was honoured to be chosen by the PCB” and expressed confidence of taking Pakistan cricket to greater heights.

Former JNU Prof Vinod Kumar Jain appointed Tezpur university VC.

• Former Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vinod Kumar Jain has been appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of Tezpur University.

• Jain has been appointed by the President of India, in his capacity as the Visitor of the Tezpur University, according to an official release issued by the University on Friday.

• He will serve as the vice-chancellor for a period of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

TCS Recognized as One of the Top Three Employers.

• Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest IT services company, is recognized as one of world's best employers by the Top Employer Institute for the third year running.

• The Top Employer Institute, Amsterdam-based global certification company in employee conditions, selected TCS for its exceptional employee offerings from a pool of more than 1,300 companies in 113 countries.

SPORTS:

Thompson trumps Bhambri to win Chennai Open Challenger.

• Saturday's Chennai Open Challenger final had all the ingredients of a nerve-wracking title clash; the top two seeds in action, multiple breakpoints, a missed match point opportunity and hard-hitting end to end action.

• A closely-contested tie, top-seed Jordan Thompson roared past Yuki Bhambri 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in three gruelling sets to lift the Chennai Open Challenger trophy, his career's fifth Challenger title.

• Bhambri had a chance to get his hands on the winner's cheque but it was Thompson who proved to be the better player on the evening, albeit by a thin margin.

OBITUARIES:

Ex-Mathura MLA Ram Swarup Sharma passes away.

• Mathura (UP), Feb 17 (PTI) Former MLA and Padma Shri awardee Ram Swarup Sharma passed here this evening following brief illness, his family sources said.

• Sharma represented the Mathura-Vrindavan constituency twice in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

• He was also a popular exponent of the Rasa Lila, a popular form of folk theatre in the regions of Mathura and Vrindavan devoted to lord Krishna.

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Important Current Affairs 11th February 2019

NATIONAL


Rajnath Singh inaugurates first of its kind spoken Sanskrit center.
•    Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has launched the Centre for learning Sanskrit language in Gujarat University, Ahmedabad. 
•    The center will offer a six-month course for people on how to speak the language. The coordinator of the course, Atul Unagar stated it was possibly the first such course launched in India.

Nitin Gadkari Releases India’s 1st Ever Highway Capacity Manual.
•    The Minister of Road Transport & Highways Mr Nitin Gadkari released India’s first ever Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) in New Delhi.
•    The manual is also known as Indo-HCM and it has been developed by CSIR – CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads like a single lane, two-lane, multi-lane urban roads, and the associated intersections on these roads.
 

INTERNATIONAL


Mumbai 12th Richest City Globally, New York Tops: New World Wealth Report.
•    Mumbai, India's financial capital is the 12th richest city in the world with a total wealth of $950 billion, according to a report by New World Wealth. The list was topped by New York as the richest city in the world.
•    Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities and business interests) less any liabilities. The top 2 richest cities in the list are- 
1. New York ($3 trillion).
2. London ($2.7 trillion).


PM Modi 3 Nation Visit- India and Palestine sign 6 MoUs.
•    India and Palestine have signed six Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) s worth USD 40 million.  This was welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 
•    During the term of this Government, the President of India made the first ever visit to Palestine in 2015.


PM Modi 3 Nation Visit- India, Oman Sign 8 MoUs.
•     India and Oman have signed eight MoUs in different areas during PM Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the Gulf nation. The fields in which the agreements were inked include defense, health and tourism.

•    A MoU on legal and judicial co-operation in civil and commercial matters was also signed. The agreements were inked after Mr Modi held delegation-level talks with the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said al Said in Muscat.

PM Modi 3 Nation Visit- India-UAE Ink 5 Agreements.
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan held bilateral talks at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the UAE.
•    PM Modi also laid the foundation stone of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. The two sides inked 5 agreements related to energy & railway sectors, manpower and financial services.

•    The 5 MoUs signed between the two nation are as follows-
•    1. MoU between a consortium led by ONGC and Abu Dhabi national oil company for acquisition of 10% stake in offshore concession was inked.

•    2. MoU aiming to institutionalize employment of Indian workers in UAE to safeguard their interests was also signed.
•    3. MoU aiming at technical cooperation in rail sector between Ministry of railways and Federal transport authority and maritime of UAE signed.

•    4. In the area of financial services, MoU between BSE and Abu Dhabi Securities exchange was also inked.
•    5. MoU between Government of Jammu and Kashmir and DP World was also signed to establish multi-modal logistics park and hub in Jammu comprising warehouses and specialized storage solutions.
 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY


PM Modi 3 Nation Visit- ONGC Videsh, Partners Acquire 10% Stake in Abu Dhabi Oilfield
•    ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) Videsh Ltd and its partners have acquired a 10% in a large offshore oilfield Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s (ADNOC) in Abu Dhabi for $600 million. It is the first time any Indian company has set foot in oil-rich Emirate.
•    The current production of this field is about 400,000 barrels of oil per day (20 million tonnes per annum) and Indian consortium’s annual share shall be about 2 million tonnes. The contract for the concession was signed in Abu Dhabi in presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


SBI Wrote off Bad Loans worth over Rs 20,000 crore Last Fiscal.
•    The country’s largest lender SBI wrote off bad loans worth Rs 20,339 crore in 2016-17, the highest among all the public sector banks, which had a collective, write off of Rs 81,683 crore for the fiscal. The data pertains to the period when the associate banks of SBI were not merged with it.
•    Besides SBI, Punjab National Bank had a write-off of Rs 9,205 crore in 2016-17, followed by Bank of India (Rs 7,346 crore), Canara Bank (Rs 5,545 crore) and Bank of Baroda (Rs 4,348 crore).


Direct tax collections rise 19.3% in April- January.
•    Direct tax collections grew by nearly 20% between April and January this year with strong growth in both corporate and personal income tax receipts. According to official data released, net direct tax collections grew by 19.3% up to January 2018 to Rs 6.95-lakh crore.
•    While net corporate income tax grew by 19.2%, personal income tax receipts rose by 18.6% in January this year. Gross tax collections also grew at a robust 13.3% to Rs 8.21-lakh crore between April 2017 and January 2018.
 

SPORTS


Sharmila Nicollet, 1st Indian Golfer to Qualify for China LPGA Tour.
•    Sharmila Nicollet has become the first Indian golfer to qualify for the China Ladies PGA Tour. The 26-year-old Bengaluru golfer fought her way back into the tournament in the last two rounds to earn a card for the Tour.
•    Sharmila had played on the Ladies European Tour before losing her full card, played her three rounds in the CLPGA Tour Qualifying School.


Rohan More Becomes 1st Asian to Swim Across Ocean Seven.
•    Pune-based swimmer, Rohan More became the first Asian as well as the first Indian to swim across the Ocean Seven. He is the youngest to complete it. He swam across the Cook Strait between North and South Islands of New Zealand in 8 hours and 37 minutes.
•    With this, more becomes only the ninth person in the world to complete it. He has received the Tenzing Norgay Award from the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The award was presented by President Ram Nath Kovind.
 

OBITUARIES


Pakistani Activist Asma Jahangir Passes Away.
•    Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s renowned human rights lawyer, social activist and an outspoken critic of the country’s powerful military establishment, passed away of cardiac arrest. She was 66.
•    She was the first woman to serve as the president of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.


Golden Globe Award Winner Musician Johann Johannsson Passes Away.
•    Acclaimed Icelandic musician and Oscar-nominated composer Johann Johannsson has passed away aged 48
•    In 2014, he was nominated for BAFTA, Grammy and Oscar awards for his score for ‘Theory of Everything,’ and won the Golden Globe award, making him one of the most well-known composers Iceland has produced
 

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Important Current Affairs 10th February 2019

NATIONAL


Great Indian Bustard (GIB) announced as the new mascot for the 13th UN Convention on the CMS COP-13.
•    Union Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, on Friday announced the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) as the mascot for the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) to be held in Gujarat in 2020.The Government also launched a website for the COP-13.
•    CMS-COP 13 is a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory species and their habitats. It has over 120 participating countries. So far, 12 COPs (Conference of Parties) have been convened.
•     COP-13 will be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 15 – 22 February, 2020

Union Minister Suresh Prabhu launches two schemes in Mumbai.
•    On February 9, 2019, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu launched two schemes, the Hirkani Maharashtra chi and District Business Plan Competition in Mumbai.
•    OVER VIEW OF SCHEMES:
    Under Hirkani Maharashtra chi, women’s SHGs will display their business plan at taluka level. Ten groups will be selected from each taluka and Rs. 50,000 will be given to each SHG to implement their idea. Five SHGs at district level will be selected and Rs. 2 lakh will be given to each SHG to take the idea forward.
    Under District Business Plan Competition, competitors at district level will display ideas, out of which five ideas will be selected from agriculture, social service, education and Work order worth Rs. 5 lakh will be given to the 5 selected ideas to implement the same.

Health Ministry conducts 8th round of National Deworming Day campaign.
•    On February 8,2019,The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) conducted its eighth round of National Deworming Day (NDD) with an objective to reduce the prevalence of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or parasitic intestinal worms so that there will be no longer be public health problem.
•    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) envisioned an open-defecation-free India which holds the capacity to reduce the overall worm burden in a community.


 Voter verification and Information Programme was launched by Election Commission.
•    On 8th February 2019, Election Commission of India (ECI) launched a Voter Verification and Information Programme (VVIP) for citizens to verify their details, change the details, new registration and corrections. The programme focus on 2019 General Election.
•    The ECI has set up helpline centres in all districts in India. The voter helpline number is 1950 and they are well equipped with to help callers with latest information.
•     VVIP technology was launched during 2day training cum workshop on the use of Information and Communication Technology which was held in New Delhi.
•    ECI also launched a ‘PwD app’ to enable Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to request to change in address, change in particulars and new registration by using mobile application.
•     Voter Helpline app was also launched which will help voters to check their names in electoral roll, submit online forms, application status checking and complaints filing.

Two day Bengal Global Summit held in Kolkata.
•    On February 7, 2019, the fifth edition of West Bengal Global Business Summit was inaugurated by state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. It is a two day summit held in Rajarhat, Kolkata.
•    West Bengal bagged over Rs. 40,000 crore worth of investment proposals from Reliance, Group, ITC and others multinational companies on the first day of the business summit.
•     The summit came to an end with West Bengal government signing 86 agreements entailing business proposals worth 2.84 lakh crore.
•    West Bengal with a Gross State Domestic Product of USD 155.32 billion is the 4th largest contributor to India’s GDP and 6th contributor to India’s manufacturing GDP.

Assam’s Finance Minister presented 1,193 crore Deficit Budget.
•    Assam’s Finance Minister, Himanta Biswas has presented the fourth Deficit Budget of the state for the fiscal year 2019-20 in the legislative assembly which amounts to 1,193 crore.
•    This budget is the 2nd digital budget of the state
•    The total revenue of the budget in comparison with previous has increased by 20% and the total expenditure has crossed 70,000 crore.
•    The budget mainly focuses on dimensions of social security and capital expenditure.
•    Brides will be given one tola gold belonging to families having income of less than Rs. 5 lakh per annum.
•    Students who passes in 12th class examination with first division will be given e-bike
•    Widows below 45 years will be given immediate support of Rs. 25,000.
•    Rice would be sold at Rs.1 per kg to benefit poor families.
 

INTERNATIONAL


Multinational Maritime Exercise ‘Aman 19’ commenced in Karachi.
•    The 5-day multinational maritime exercise ‘AMAN-19’ in which 46 nations participated from all over the world was formally commenced at Pakistan Navy Dockyard, with a colourful flag hosting ceremony.
•    Pakistan’s Naval Chief, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi welcomed the participations of Exercise AMAN-19, the 6th episode of the AMAN initiative.
•    Principal aim to conduct this exercise is to facilitate a forum of understanding of each other’s maritime concepts and operation cultures and to produce ways and means to confront common threat at sea.
•    Commander Pakistan fleet, Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi genially welcomed the eminent participating nations for a mutual resolve with motto “Together for Peace”.
•    The exercise will have 2 phases- Harbour phase and sea phase.
 

BANKING AND FINANCE


Asian Development Bank raised $100 million in international market.
•    On 8th February 2019, The Asian Development Bank raised $100 million from peso-linked bonds in the international market. It was their maiden issue of Philippine peso.
•    The move will help to reduce foreign exchange risk for ADB’s borrowers and support its growing local currency lending operations in Philippines.
•    J P Morgan was the sole lead manager and bonds were fully placed with institutional investors in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
•    Earlier in 2005 and 2007 ADB issued bond in the Philippine domestic capital market but it was the first time to mobilize Philippine peso funding from international investors through a currency linked structure.
•    ADB is an international development finance institution and a regional development bank with a motto to fighting poverty in Asia and the Pacific.


RBI Doubles the limit of bulk deposits from Rs. 1 crore to Rs 2 Crore.
•    On 7th February 2019, Reserve Bank of India decided to treat deposits to over Rs.2 crore as ‘bulk’ as they doubled the limit for the same from the earlier Rs.1crore. This move will enhance operational freedom of Banks.
•     RBI also proposed banks would maintain their bulk deposits interest rate cards in the core banking system for supervisory review.
•    The right to offer differential rate of interest in bulk deposits as per their requirements and Asset Liability Management (ALM) projections is vested with banks.
•     For a similar maturity period interest rate on bulk deposits are marginally higher than smaller amount fixed deposits.
•    National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies Limited (NAFCUB) has suggested this proposal.
•    The decision in proposal for setting up an Umbrella Organization (UO) for urban cooperative banks in pending with RBI.


RBI fines Allahabad Bank Rs 1.5 crore for not monitoring fund use, fraud reporting delay.
•    On Feb. 8 2019, Allahabad Bank said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1.5 crore on them for not monitoring end use of funds, delay in classification and reporting of fraud and non-adherence with RBI guidelines during restructuring of accounts in respect of one of its borrowers.
 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY


Himachal’s growth rate projected at 7.3% in current financial year.
•    Economic Survey Report for 2018-19 has projected the growth rate in Himachal Pradesh to be around 7.3% for the current financial year, 2018-19, while the per capita income is estimated at Rs 1, 76,968. Economic growth was 6.5% in the last fiscal, highest in last 3 years.
•    Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in current fiscal has increased to Rs 1, 36,542 crore and estimated to be about Rs 1, 51,835 crore in 2018-19.
 

AWARDS AND RECOGNIZATION


Yes Bank wins the Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 for ‘Innovation in Data Science’.
•    On Feb. 1 2019, Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 announced Yes Bank as winner in ‘Innovation in Data Science’ category for their industry-first project ‘Yes EEE (Engage Enrich Excel)’ at Panaji, Goa. It was hosted by the Government of Goa.

Sena Medals awarded to 92 army men, including Lance Naik Wani.
•    Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, GOC-in-C (General Officer Commanding), Northern Command, presented Gallantry and Distinguished Service Awards to army officers, other ranks and next of kin (for posthumous awards).
•    The army commander presented 1 Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), 76 Sena Medals (Gallantry), 7 Sena Medals (Distinguished) and 8 Vishist Seva Medals.
•    Lance Naik Wani was conferred with the Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), received by his wife on his behalf. The brave soldier had sacrificed his life while combating terrorists at Batagund Village in Jammu & Kashmir in November 2018.
•    20 units were also awarded for their overall outstanding performance in the Command Theatre in the year 2018.
 

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION


Radheyshyam Julaniya to replace Rahul Bhatnagar as Union Sports Secretary.
•    IAS officer (Madhya Pradesh cadre), Radheyshyam Julaniya will replace Rahul Bhatnagar as the Union Sports Secretary.
•    Bhatnagar has been released by the Sports Ministry and is set to join the Ministry on Panchayati Raj.
•    Notable achievements of the Sports Ministry during the tenure of Mr. Rahul Bhatnagar include opening of the National Sports University, Khelo India Youth Games, hosting international tournaments like Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar and World Women’s Boxing Championship in New Delhi.
 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


Helicopter-launched anti-tank missile ‘Helina’ test-fired in Balasore, Odisha.
•    India test-fired Helina, a helicopter-launched version of the Nag anti-tank guided missile, with a hit range of 7-8 km, from the Odisha Coast on Friday.
•    Helina was launched from an Army chopper and the weapon system was tested for its full range at 12:55 PM near the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur in the Balasore District of Odisha.
•    Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Helina is said to be one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world. It is guided by an Infrared Imaging Seeker (IIR) operating in the lock-on-before-launch mode.
 

SPORTS


Rohit Sharma becomes 1st Indian to smash 100 sixes in T20 Cricket.
•    Indian opener Rohit Sharma became the first man from his country to smash a century of sixes in T20I cricket in the second T20 between India and New Zealand held in Eden Park in New Zealand.
•    He made his T20I debut against England but played his first innings against South Africa in 2007 T20I.
•    Rohit Sharma surpassed Martin Guptill to become the highest scorer in T20 Internationals with 102 sixes.


Ricky Ponting has been appointed the assistant coach of Australia for 2019 World Cup.
•    On 8th February 2019, Cricket Australia appointed Ricky Ponting as assistant coach for Australia’s cricket team for 2019 World Cup. He had won world cup for three times.
•    The main coach for Australian Cricket team is Justin Langer. Ponting was appointed after David Saker’s resignation from the post.
•    Ricky Ponting worked as assistant for Australia’s T20 in 2017 and 2018. The current batting coach for the team is Graeme Hicks.
•    ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales from 30th May to 14th July 2019.
•    Ponting play 375 ODI’s and 168 tests for Australia. He won the World Cup for the 1st time in 1999 before captaining and in 2003 and in 2003 and 2007.
 

OBITUARY


British actor Albert Finney, five time Oscar nominee died at age of 82.
•    On February 9, 2019, five time Oscar nominated actor Albert Finney died at the age of 82 due to chest infection in London.
•    The veteran actor was best known for his roles in Tom Jones, Erin Brockovich and Annie.
 

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