Current Affairs – 4th March 2017

Hello Readers, We bring you another issue of current affairs that covers the important news in Current Affairs Today Section.
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Indian Affairs

Final Draft Of Central GST & Integrated GST Approved By GST Council

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 4th March said that the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the new indirect tax regime, was on track and July 1 was going to be its likely date of implementation.
The Council approved the central cGST (cGST) and integrated GST (iGST) draft bills.
The Union Territory GST (UTGST) and state GST (sGST) draft bills will be taken up for discussion and approval at the Council’s next meeting on March 16.
Aadhaar Mandatory to Get Mid Day Meal and Booking Train Tickets Online

  • Cook-cum-helpers working under the Midday meal scheme as well as the student beneficiaries will now be required to have an Aadhaar card to avail the facility with the HRD ministry mandating the same.
  • Aim: Improving efficiency and transparency, comes following a push from the Central government to link the Aadhaar number with subsidy schemes related to school education.
  • The Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), under the Human Resource Development ministry, has decided to give a window till June 30 to those who do not have an Aadhaar card yet.
  • The use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services, benefits or subsidies simplifies the government delivery process and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly and in a seamless manner.

Train Ticket
The railways will soon move towards Aadhaar-based online ticketing system to prevent touts from blocking bulk tickets, end fraudulent bookings and curb cases of impersonation.
Aadhaar number has been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concessions in train tickets from April 1. A three-month trial run for this is going on.
As per the new business plan 2017-18, unveiled by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, besides the Aadhaar-based ticketing system, the railways will move towards cashless ticketing system by installing 6,000 point-of-sale machines and 1,000 automatic ticket vending machines across the country.

Assam Cabinet Declares Sanskrit as Compulsory Subject upto Class 8

  • The Assam government led by Sarbananda Sonowal decided to make Sanskrit along with computer education, a permanent subject in the state schools.
  • The government also decided to promote computer education in the state. The government would also appoint teachers for the two subject.
  • The decision to make Sanskrit mandatory was highly appreciated by the Assam Sanskrit Sahitya Sabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as it would prevent western impact on state’s culture.

Punjab, J&K seal fresh deal on Shahpur Kandi project

  • A fresh agreement between Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir was signed for the completion of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project, 11 km downstream Ranjit Sagar Dam, work on which was abandoned two years ago following a dispute.
  • The project is worth Rs 2,285 crore. About 206 MW of power is to be generated by this hydro-power project on the Ravi. Punjab has been insisting on its early completion to stop the Ravi waters from flowing into Pakistan via the Madhopur headworks in Pathankot.

West Bengal Clinical Establishment Bill 2017 Unanimously Passed in State Assembly

  • The West Bengal Clinical Establishments (registration regulations transparency) Bill, 2017 was passed in the state assembly with full support.
  • Certain amendments in the bill were demanded by the opposition.
  • The bill will have provisions to not only monitor private healthcare institutes but also to impose penalty in case of violations.
  • The 25-page bill has been drafted by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, also the state health minister.
  • There are also provisions in the bill which says that private healthcare institutes cannot refuse admission and treatment in emergency cases such as acid attack, rape and accident victims.
  • The hospital will have to admit these patients and begin treatment even if the patient could not afford the treatment immediately.
  • The bill comes in the wake of the deaths of a few patients in alleged cases of medical negligence against private hospitals in the state.

International Affairs

Syrian Army Backed by Russian Jets Recaptures Ancient City Palmyra

  • Syrian troops backed by Russian jets completed the recapture of the historic city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group on Thursday, the Kremlin and the army said, in another blow to the jihadists.
  • Bolstered by air strikes and ground troops from their ally Moscow, Syrian forces battled through the desert for weeks to reach Palmyra.
  • The jihadists first seized Palmyra in May 2015 and began to systematically destroy and loot the Unesco world heritage site’s monuments and temples.
  • They were driven out in March 2016 but recaptured the city in December when the government was focused on seizing rebel-held east Aleppo.
  • But many of the structures have been destroyed and much of the heritage looted for sale on the black market.
  • Moscow’s support has been key in the Syrian army’s Palmyra push, and its warplanes continued to bombard Islamic State positions inside and near the city today

Sweden introduces military draft for both men and women

Sweden’s left-leaning government introduced a military draft for both men and women because of what its defense minister called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.
Sweden abolished compulsory military service for men in 2010 because there were enough volunteers to meet its military needs. It has never had a military draft for women.
About 20,000 people now work for the Swedish armed forces, 84 percent of them men and 16 percent women, according to the force’s website. But the armed forces lack 1,000 active troops as well as 7,000 reservists, according to Sweden’s coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens.

Banking and Finance

SBI slaps charges on cash deposits, breaching balances

  • State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, has revised service charges on various transactions, including cash deposits and for failing to maintain monthly average balance in their savings accounts.
  • The charges will be applicable from April 1, 2017.
  • While three cash deposit transactions will be free in a month, beyond three transactions the bank will charge Rs 50 plus service tax for each transaction.
  • In the case of ATM transactions, after the permissible number of free transactions, SBI will charge Rs 20 (plus service tax) per transaction.
  • The bank has also imposed service charge for failure in maintaining monthly average balance (MAB) in metro, urban and rural centres.

Rs 10000 penalty for bank branches refusing to exchange soiled notes

  • The Reserve Bank of India has clarified that currency notes which have messages scribbled on it are legal tender.
  • The notes however, cease to be legal tender if message scribbled on it is political in nature.
  • RBI keeps sending instructions often that people should accept currency notes with scribblings, but at the same time they also ask people not to staple the notes, write on them or fold them.
  • The RBI had introduced the clean note policy in 1999 and since then there are stories doing round that soiled and mutilated notes will not be accepted by banks .
  • The restriction for exchanging soiled notes is that if one exchanges more than 20 notes or notes worth Rs 5,000 in a day then banks will levy service charge.

Appointments & Resigns

P K Purwar appointed MTNL CMD

  • P K Purwar was today appointed Chairman and Managing Director of state-run telecom major Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment to the post for five years, an official order said.
  • Purwar is currently working as Director (Finance) in MTNL, which has been without a full-time CMD since May 31, 2014.
  • A process has been underway for long time to find a new head of the loss-making telecom PSU and a search-cum-selection committee was earlier constituted under the chairman of Public Enterprises Selection Board for the appointment.

Acquisitions & Mergers

Airtel, Millicom ink pact to merge in Ghana

Bharti Airtel (BSE 1.74 %) and Millicom International Cellular have entered into an agreement to merge their respective units in Ghana to create the second-largest mobile carrier in the African country.
Airtel and Millicom will have equal ownership and governance rights in the combined entity.
he combined entity would serve nearly 10 million customers, of which 5.6 million are data customers. It would cover more than 80 per cent of Ghana’s population with high speed data and would have revenuesclose to $300 million.

Business

Google India inks MoU with Telangana government

Google India and Telangana government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at supporting the digitisation efforts of the state.
Google India will provide Google Cloud credits and access to all cloud platform products to eligible startups engaged with Telangana government’s T—Hub initiative and through its Developer Relations team provide technical mentorship and advisory support to various startups, a release issued by the government.
Other initiatives as a part of the agreement include, making all government websites mobile friendly and introduce programmes to help local small and medium businesses go online and stay safe online.
Google India will introduce Android Fundamentals courses for students pursuing engineering and MCA to skill them on mobile app development.

Government’s biotech innovation centre to be set up in Bengaluru’s C-CAMP

The government’s nodal funding agency for the biotech industry, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), will house its regional entrepreneurship centre at Bengaluru-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), a biotechnology innovation incubator.
BREC will be engaged in biotechnology entrepreneurship awareness programmes, creating a national biotechnology entrepreneurship challenge, business/strategy boot camps, workshops, investor meetings and seminars.
BREC will provide a direct interface between angel investors and early-stage VCs, among other things. BREC will play a facilitator’s role. It is directly funded by BIRAC and will have focussed resources to deliver the programme.

Environment

WCCB Conducts Operation Thunderbird & Operation Save Kurma to Combat Widlife Crime

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has successfully coordinated Operation Thunder Bird from January 30 to February 19, 2017 in its fight to end poaching of India’s wildlife animals. It also had convened Operation Save Kurma, a species specific operation on turtles between 15 December 2016 and 30 January 2017.

NGT Fixes Norms for Camping Activity Along The River Ganga

  • The National Green Tribunal on Thursday prohibited all camping activity on beaches along the Ganga which fall within 100 meters from the middle of the river during lean season flow from Shivpuri to Rishikesh, a hub for eco-tourism and river rafting.
  • It cannot be disputed that river rafting is one of the significant components of eco-tourism. It needs to be encouraged but with a clear mandate that it should not cause any environmental and biodiversity degradation particularly in relation to the flood plains and the forest areas adjacent to the sites identified for river rafting.
  • A Study by Uttarakhand and the Wildlife Institute of India notified that there are total 56 beaches along the River Ganga out of which 33 were recommended for camping while 23 were out of bounds.
  •  Out of the 33 sites recommended for beach camping, 3 fall outside the restriction of 100 meters, 8 sites are wholly within 100 meters while the remaining 22 sites are partially within 100 meters and partially outside 100 meters.

Science and Technology

President Pranab Mukherjee Confers Standard & Colours Award to 125 Helicopter Squadron and MIT

  • The Hon’ble President of India and Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces, Shri Pranab Mukherjee awarded the Prestigious President’s Standard and Colours to 125 Helicopter Squadron and Mechanical Training Institute (MTI) respectively, during a grand ceremonial parade.
  • The ceremonial parade was commanded by Group Captain A Arunachaleswaran. The President also released First Day Covers of 125 Helicopter Squadron and Mechanical Training Institute at the function.
  • There was a spectacular display of precision and daredevilry by the Air Warriors drill team. Fly past consisting of Mi-35 and Mi-17 Helicopters, Pilatus and Kiran trainer aircraft was synchronized with significant events of the parade.

Sports

Maria Sharapova handed wildcard to participate in the Italian Open

  • Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has been given a wildcard to play in the Italian Open in May.
  • The former world number one makes her return to the circuit in Stuttgart in April after completing a 15-month ban for doping
  • Sharapova hasn’t played on tour since testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. An initial two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation was reduced to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
  • The Rome tournament runs from May 15 to May 21.
  • She has also been handed a wildcard for the May 6-13 Madrid Open.

Obituary

Former IFS and MP Syed Shahabuddin dies

  • Former IFS and MP Syed Shahabuddin dies at the age of 82 after suffering from prolonged illness.
  • During his time, Shahabuddin had strongly opposed the demolition of the Babri Masjid and was the leader of the Babri Action Committee.

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