Current Affairs 17th February 2018 (17/02/2018)

National Current Affairs:

  • Union cabinet  approved the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) scheme with a cost of Rs 1650 crore for a period of seven years starting from 2018-19. According to the Government statement, the best students who have completed or are in the final year of B.Tech or integrated M.Tech from IISC/IITs/ NI Ts/ IISERs/ IllTs will be offered direct admission in PhD programmes in IITs and IISC. Each fellow will get a fellowship of Rs 70000 per month for the first two years, Rs 75000 per month for the third year and Rs 80000 per month for the fourth and fifth years.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought constructive suggestions from all parties for the government’s health care programme Ayushman Bharat which was announced recently in the Union Budget. Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Mr Modi said, the Centre is always looking for suggestions, feedback and input on its schemes. He said that the Ayushm an Bharat scheme should not be compared with such similar schemes in Britain and US as every nation has its own context, challenges and nature of working. Mr Modi also requested the opposition parties to form a task force within their parties to give suggestions on the health scheme.
  • The Government has said the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France is strictly in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure in all aspects. In a statement, the Defence Ministry said, unfounded allegations are being made regarding the Rafale deal. It strongly reiterated that the deal secured by the government is better in terms of capability, price, equipment, delivery, maintenance, and training. It further said that the demand that the government disclose the details and value of the contract for the aircraft is unrealistic.
  • An indigenously developed short-range nuclear capable ballistic Agni-1 was successfully test-fired from a mobile launcher at Pad 4 of the Integrated Test Range at Odisha’s Dr Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island. Agni-1 missile was launched as a part of a periodic training activity by the Strategic Farces Command or SFC of the Indian Army to consolidate operational readiness.
  • India has successfully test-fired it’s indigenously developed surface-to-surface nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile off Odisha coast. Defence sources said, the missile which weighs about 4,600 kilogram, is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads and is trusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. They said, all parameters were achieved within the stipulated time period.
  • Senior IPS officer Sudeep Lakhtakia has been appointed as the new Director General (DG) of the ‘black cats’ commando force NSG. An order appointing the 1984-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Telangana cadre was issued by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Google and NCERT have signed a pact to integrate a course on ‘Digital Citizenship and Safety’ in information and communication technology curriculum. Union School Education Secretary Anil Swarup said on the occasion, “Internet can be used be phenomenally in helping us, it has a potential of damaging the social structure and damaging an individual. It is extremely important for us to understand how can we keep ourselves safe. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has curriculum on IT and communication technologies embedded in teachers training programme.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused his attention on the “importance of stress-free examinations” and has called on the young students to “pursue knowledge over marks”. In a new book, “Exam Warriors”, he authored, Mr. Modi has set out to provide “a handy guide” for students in India and across the world.

International Current Affairs:

  • The Palestinian Presidency has described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the city of Ramallah, the first of an Indian premier to Palestine, as historic and important. According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, the Presidency said, Mr Modi and President Mahmoud Abbas will hold talks on the latest developments in the political process in the region as also other international issues of common concern.
  • India has contributed an additional $1 million to the India-UN Development Partnership Fund earmarked for South-South cooperation. The contribution aims to intensify its partnerships with other developing countries, the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) said. India has pledged a mufti-year contribution of $100 million to the fund established in June 2017, according to the UNOSSC, and has already provided $6 million within the seven months since its launch.
  • In Syria, at least 23 civilians are reported to have been killed in a new wave of Syrian government air strikes on a besieged rebel enclave near Damascus. Rescuers and a monitoring group said warplanes bombed several towns in the Eastern Ghouta, causing buildings to collapse on residents. Many people living in nearby government controlled districts of Damascus have also been killed by shells fired by rebels based in the Eastern Ghouta.
  • The President of the Maldives said, he ordered a state of emergency to investigate the plot involving a Supreme Court ruling last week that ordered the release of imprisoned opposition leaders, including many of his political rivals. President Abdulla Yameen in a televised address said, this is not a state of war, epidemic or natural disaster, this is something more dangerous. The island country lies south-west of India and Sri Lanka.

Business & Economy Current Affairs:

  • Reserve Bank of India, RBI, kept key policy rates unchanged for the third time in a row. It said that higher government spending would accelerate inflation, and warned of risks from wider fiscal deficit. The six-member Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel, retained the repo rate at 6 per cent and reverse repo rate at 5.75 per cent. The repo rate is the rate at which the central bank lends short-term money. The reverse repo rate is the rate at which it borrows from banks and absorbs excess liquidity.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved signing of a protocol to amend the double taxation avoidance agreement between India and China. The protocol updates the existing provisions for exchange of information to the latest international standards and will incorporate changes required to implement treaty related minimum standards under the action reports of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project
  • Government has launched three new tools for States and Union Territories for ranking of startups in the country. The tools are: the State and Union Territory Startup Ranking Framework, the Compendium of Good Practices for Promoting Startups in India and the Startup India Kit. These will act as catalysts to help the Startup India initiative to drive India’s economic growth.

Sports Current Affairs:

  • India’s veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami has become the first female cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets. Goswami achieved the feat during the second ODI between India and South Africa in Kimberley. The 35-year-old, playing her 166th ODI, dismissed opener Laura Wolvaardt for her 200th scalp.
  • In Women’s cricket, India have won the 3 match ODI ICC Women’s Championship series against South Africa. In the second ODI at Kimberley, India crushed the hosts by 178 runs. Chasing a victory target of 303 runs, South Africa were bundled out for 124 runs in 30.5 avers. In the first ODI, India had pulled off a crushing 88-run win over South Africa in the series-opener. The three-match series, also a first-round fixture of the ICC Women’s Championship, gives both the teams a chance to directly qualify for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup.

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