Current Affairs – 27th February 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

Indian Navy Concludes Theatre Level Exercise Tropex 2017 

  • The Indian Navy’s Annual Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX 17) was conducted on the Western Seaboard from     24 Jan 17 till 23 Feb 17.
  • The month long exercise saw participation of over 45 ships from both the Western and Eastern Naval Commands of the Indian Navy, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, 05 submarines including the nuclear powered Chakra, 50 Naval aircraft, 11 ships from the Coast Guard, troops from the Army and 20 aircraft from the Air Force including Su 30s, Jaguars and AWACS.
  • The exercise, in complete coordination with the Army and Air Force, was conducted in phases to test the various facets of war-fighting and joint combat capabilities of the armed forces to respond to given threat situations.
  • The Joint Work Up Phase witnessed various weapon firings by ships, submarines and aircraft from both the Indian Navy and Air Force. The 2017 edition of TROPEX included the conduct of large scale ‘Out of Area Contingency’ in island territory, which saw participation of all three services and their special forces.
  • TROPEX 2017 culminated with Tactical Phase conducted over 10 days, and saw intense action by both the opposing forces. The interaction of the forces helped validate operational war fighting concepts and provided valuable lessons to sharpen combat skills.
  • TROPEX 2017 assumes great significance in the backdrop of current security scenario. The exercise provided an apt-opportunity to test the combat capability of the Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard, and strengthened inter-operability and joint operations in complex conflict situation.

Source: PIB

Railways to roll out high speed indigenous rakes

Trial run by March 2018, the train will reduce travel time

The railways will soon manufacture its own train sets that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kilometre per hour, after its global bid in this regard failed to elicit positive response.
Aptly named ‘Train-2018’, the first train set — a rake without a separate locomotive — is expected to be ready by March next year and likely to be pressed into service in Delhi-Lucknow or Delhi-Chandigarh sector.
A train set, much like a Delhi Metro rake, comprises of many coaches that are individually powered by a propulsion system, eliminating the need for locomotive.
Aiming to offer both comfort and pace to passengers, the project will roll out semi-high speed, 16-coach train sets with quicker acceleration and world-class passenger amenities.
For the first time in Indian Railways, these train sets will have automatic plug type doors that will open and close at stations, wide windows for panoramic view, and ergonomically designed seating.
Aim:
To reduce travel time between cities and to achieve that, we have launched Train-2018 project to manufacture two train sets at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai on a pilot basis.
Source: The Hindu

A digital archive for Rashtriyapati Bavan

A digital archive for Rashtriyapati Bavan
A digital archive for Rashtriyapati Bavan

The architectural history and the heritage of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the 340-room official residence of the President of India, has been documented in a series of books, which will soon be available in an online series.
Concise web-based modules are set to bring to life the architectural and cultural grandeur of the iconic building, designed and constructed by legendary British architect Edwin Lutyens.
Features:
A multi-volume documentation project of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was commissioned three years ago by the President’s Secretariat in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
Sahapedia, an open online resource on the arts, cultures and heritage of India, which began the project in 2014, compiled 11 volumes of well-researched books written by top experts in various fields.
The compilation series comprises seven main volumes and four additional volumes of books, including two books for children, all detailing the historic building that was formerly known as Viceroy’s House.
Among the volumes is The Right of the Line: The Presidents Bodyguard , which presents an engaging picture of the President’s Bodyguard, the elite household cavalry unit, which is the most senior and oldest regiment of the Indian Army.

Another volume titled First Garden of the Republic captures the grounds and garden.

Suresh Prabhu  flagged off the first Antyodaya clan of trains 

  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday flagged off the first Antyodaya Express — a long distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service — between Kochi’s Ernakulam Junction and Howrah Junction through video conferencing from Rail Bhavan.
  • Antyodaya Express is a long distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes.
  • The new clan of trains will have facilities like cushioned luggage racks which can serve as seats, potable drinking water dispenser, mobile charging points, modular toilets of reinforced plastic, toilet occupation indication display board, LED lights among others for comfortable long distance travel.
  • The 22-coach train will cover a distance of 2,307 kilometres in 37 hours

Minister of Railways Flags off Sri Ganganagar – Tiruchirappalli Humsafar Express

  • Humsafar Express is an all-AC ‘affordable’ luxury train for the common man and was announced in the Railway Budget 2016. The train has air-conditioned 3-tier coaches
  • Indian Railways introduced a new Humsafar Express between Sriganganagar and Tiruchchirapalli viz. 14715/14716 Sriganganagar-Tiruchchirapalli Humsafar Express (Weekly). The train service inaugurated on 27.02.2017 by Minister of Railways.
  • Humsafar Express are fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals. Till date, 3 Humsafar Express trains have been introduced on Indian Railways.

    The abstract schedule including timings, composition, stoppages etc. of the train service to be introduced is as under:

    14715/14716 Sriganganagar-Tiruchchirapalli Humsafar Express (Weekly)

     Days of run:  Ex-SGNR – Tuesday

      Ex-TPJ – Thursday

     One way distance: 3199 Kms.

  Stoppages: Hanumangarh, Suratgarh, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Marwar Jn., Abu Road, Palanpur, Mahesana, Ahmedabad, Nadiad, Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat,  Vasai Road, Kalyan, Lonavala, Pune, Satara, Sangli, Miraj, Belgaum, Dharwad, Hubballi, Harihar, Davangere,  Birur, Arsikere, Tumakuru, Banaswadi,  Krishnrajapuram, Bangerpet,  Salem, Namakkal,  Karur

  Composition of regular service: 3AC-16, Power Car-2, Pantry Car-1= 19 coaches

  Primary Maintenance: Sri Ganganagar (NWR)

  Nature of Service: Humsafar Express

Partnership in Parcel Business with Department of Post

1.      In order to provide end to end parcel services to the customers by effective   partnership between Indian Railways and Department of Post, certain sectors have been identified in which the parcel traffic offered by DOP can be transported by IR.

2.      Department of Post has identified following trains for allotment of parcel space  in the assistant guard compartment of  front  SLR  :

 ○     15959 Howrah-Guwahati- Dibrugarh Kamrup Express.(Howrah-Guwahati)

○       18646 Hyderabad-Howrah East Coast Express.(Hyderabad-Howrah)

○       12322 Mumbai-Howrah Mail.( Mumbai-Howrah)

○       12721 Hyderabad-Nizamuddin  Dakshin Express.( Hyderabad-Delhi)

○       17230 Hyderabad-Tiruvananthapuram- Sabari Express. (Hyderabad-Cochin).

3.      Out of the above 5 trains,  AGC space was made available for use of Department of Posts on RMS rates in  two trains (i) 15959  Howrah-Guwahati-Dibrugarh Kamrup Express between Howrah and Guwahati at Rs 7115 per trip and (ii) 12721   Hyderabad-Nizamuddin  Deccan Express between Hyderabad and Nizamuddin at Rs 10020 per trip on pilot basis for six months.

4.      The permission could not be granted in remaining trains due to reversal of engine enroute.

5.      DoP has commenced operations on the 12721 Hyderabad-Nizamuddin from 01.02.2017 and on 15959 Howrah-Guwahati from 20.02.2017.

6.      Now DOP has been permitted to use AGC of train 12322 from 27.02.2017 as   engine   reversal enroute is not involved anymore.  The per trip earning from the service will be Rs 12,954/- and the assured transit time from Mumbai to Howrah is 38 hrs.

Source-PIB

India & Ukraine to strengthen bilateral cooperation through Cinema 
India and Ukraine have agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the twocountries through the medium of Cinema. The cooperation would be worked out through a policy and institutional framework to showcase films through the medium of Film Festivals and utilizing the Film Facilitation Office platform established by India. The screening of films with subtitles was also discussed in order to reach out to people. These issues were discussed during the meeting between Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Ukrainian delegation led by Mr. Iurii Artemenko, Member of the Parliament of Ukraine and Chairman of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine today in New Delhi
Ukraine:

  • Capital: Kiev
  • Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia
  • President: Petro Poroshenko

Puducherry ranks third in having lesser infant mortality rate

  • While infant mortality rate in the country has been registered at 42 deaths of kids per 1000 births the Union Territory of Puducherry has established a record of having lesser rate of infant mortality.
  • Puducherry ranked third in the achievement next to Goa and Kerala.
  • Puducherry government hospitals here had necessary infrastructures to address the health issues of young children including cardiac surgeries.

Haryana Launches Online Sex Ratio Monitoring System For Panipat
As part of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme the Haryana government has set up an online system for Panipat to monitor the sex-ratio in the district.
The system, called the sex ratio monitoring dashboard, will have the data of child sex-ratio collected from all villages by the Health and Women and Child Welfare Departments every month.
It will also have the data on critical villages where more attention was required towards skewed child sex-ratio and steps needed to taken to set up the efforts accordingly, an official statement said.
The dashboard had been developed in association with National Informatics Centre (NIC) as a pilot project.
The dashboard is also proving to be an effective tool for enhancing ground-level coordination between the Health and Women and Child Welfare Departments.
Haryana:
Haryana is one of the 29 states in India, situated in North India. It was carved out of the former state of East Punjab on 1 November 1966 on a linguistic basis.
The city of Chandigarh is its capital while the NCR city of Faridabad is the most populous city of the state.

International Affairs

Iran and Russia Agrees Roadmap to Jointly Produce Nuclear Fuel

  • Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) has announced that Russia and Iran have reached an agreement to jointly produce nuclear fuel.
  • The preliminary agreement with Russia on the joint production of nuclear fuel was reached during the nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 nations (major world powers) in 2015.
  •  Iran has developed roadmap for the joint production, which will take two years to be implemented. Besides, it will buy 950 tonnes of uranium from Kazakhstan.
  • This purchase is part of Iran’s international nuclear deal known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and P5+1 nations.

2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) Begins in Barcelona
Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, organised by the GSMA and held in the Mobile World Capital Barcelona, 27 February – 2 March 2017.
MWC is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, organised by the GSMA.  The global tech industry gathers to get participate in new smartphone launches, VR and AR developments, chipsets and wearables.
Australia and Indonesia Restore Full Military Ties
Indonesia and Australia have restored full military relations, weeks after  Jakarta suspended cooperation because of “insulting” teaching material found at an Australian army centre.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement on Sunday alongside Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who arrived in Australia on 26 February 2017 for his first visit as president.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of an agreement on maritime cooperation that includes strengthening maritime security and border protection as well as combating crime and improving efficiency of shipping.

Banking and Finance

Government Issues Sovereign Gold Bonds 2016-17-Series IV

  • The government is set to issue series IV sovereign gold bond scheme on 17 March.
  • The tenure of the bond will be for a period of eight years with an exit option from the fifth year to be exercised on the interest payment dates. An individual can minimum invest one gram in the scheme per fiscal year while maximum limit according to the scheme is set at 500 grams for the same period.
  • The sovereign gold bond schemes will give an interest at the rate of 2.5% per annum paid twice a year on the initial value of the investment. Photo: Bloomberg
  • Investments in such bonds will be counted in the calculation of statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) purpose from bank point of view.
  • For distribution of the bonds, commission shall be paid at 1% of the total subscription received by the receiving offices. Receiving offices shall further share minimum 50% of the commission received with the agents or sub-agents for the business procured through them.
  • A little over Rs250 crore was received by the government as subscription in the first tranche. But the subscription rose in the second tranche to Rs726 crore because the price of the bond was set higher than the price of physical gold at that time.
  • Given that investments during March are largely driven by tax planning, the subscription at the third tranche that opened between 8 March and 14 March was lower at Rs329 crore.

What is Sovereign Gold Bond
Sovereign Gold Bond (SGBs) are government securities which are denominated in grams of gold. They are, in fact, issued as a substitute for holding physical gold. Here investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity. The bond is issued by the RBI on behalf of the Government of India.
SIDBI sanctions Rs.1,112 crore this Fiscal to Startups

  • An expert committee set up by SIDBI, Venture Capital Investment Committee (VCIC) has sanctionedRs 300 crore to fund managers who would invest in startups, thus taking the total sanctions in 2016-17 to over Rs 1,100 crore.Awards and Recognition.
  • During fiscal year 2014-15 and 2015-16 sanctions were made to 11 funds (Rs 314 crores) and 16 funds (Rs 607 crores) respectively while the number during the current financial year has already crossed Rs 1,112 crores to 30 funds.
  • In its 7th meeting on the February 11, VCIC examined requests from 11 fund managers and cleared sanction requests from 9 Funds aggregating Rs 300 crores.

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
Small Industries Development Bank of India is an independent financial institution aimed to aid the growth and development of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) in India.
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), set up on April 2, 1990 under an Act of Indian Parliament, acts as the Principal Financial Institution for the Promotion, Financing and Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector and for Co-ordination of the functions of the institutions engaged in similar activities.
Apollo Munich and Dena Bank Enters Into Bancassurance Tie-Up 
Standalone health insurer Apollo Munich Health Insurance today said it is expanding its footprint across the country with bancassurance tie-up with state-owned Dena Bank.
Under the tie-up the bank will distribute customised Apollo Munich Health insurance and personal accident policies to the bank’s 20 million customers nationwide.
The health insurance policies will be available in the form of individual, as well as family floater plans beginning with Rs. 2 lakh up to a limit of Rs. 10 lakhs.
Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company Ltd
Apollo Munich Health Insurance Company Ltd. is a private sector health insurance company in India. It is a joint venture between the Apollo Hospitals group and Munich Health.

  • CEO: Antony Jacob
  • Founded: 2007

Dena Bank
Dena Bank headquartered in Mumbai and its total branch network stands at 1,773. The bank was founded in 1938 and the Indian government nationalized it in 1969.

  • Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Chairman and Managing Director: Ashwani Kumar

Appointments & Resigns

Birender Singh Yadav concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Togo
Birender Singh Yadav has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Togo, with residence in Accra (Ghana).
Shri Birender Singh Yadav (IFS: 1997) presently High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Ghana.
Togo :
Capital: Lome
Official Languages: French
Currency: CFA franc
Kabir Bedi appointed honourary brand ambassador of Sightsavers

Kabir Bedi appointed honourary brand ambassador of Sightsavers

Noted film actor Kabir Bedi was today appointed as the honourary brand ambassador of Sightsavers, a global organisation working to prevent avoidable blindness, in a function held here.
Sight is fundamental to the functionality of life, Bedi said while extending his thanks to the organisation.
“Sightsavers with its presence in several nations across the world as well as 13 states in the country needs all the support in its endeavour to help eradicate blindness which is avoidable if treated in time,” he said.

Acquisitions & Mergers

Business

Telangana and UP may get cargo airports

The Centre is considering a proposal each from Telangana and Uttar Pradesh for setting up a ‘dedicated cargo airport.’
Telangana wants a dedicated cargo airport to be built in northern Hyderabad, while Uttar Pradesh is seeking the green signal to construct one such airport in the western part of the state.
The Centre has informed these two States that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had appointed a consultant to study and suggest name(s) of airport(s) or site(s) in the country that can be ‘developed’ or ‘converted’ as ‘dedicated cargo airport(s)’ – which may also be termed as ‘merchant airport(s).’
The AAI, subject to the Centre’s approval, would facilitate the construction of such dedicated cargo airports once the sites and plans are finalised, and after finding that the same would be geographically suitable for air transportation, the sources said. They added that the cargo airports may also act as ‘air cargo hubs’ in the country.
To ensure commercial viability for airlines, the other pre-requisites for a dedicated air cargo airport include that requiring the site to be a ‘consumption cluster’ — where there is a huge demand for consumer-based goods. The site should also be an ‘industrial cluster’ — where there are many goods manufacturing units and a huge industrial base.
Besides, the site should also have well-connected rail, road and airport network for multi-modal transport connectivity, the sources said. The site should also be able to handle large aircraft for transporting cargo in large volumes and for airlifting purposes.
Source: The Hindu

SEBI for overhaul of board governance

  • Markets regulator SEBI is in favour of a major overhaul of the way boards of listed firms discharge their duties, including for appointment and removal of directors, and also wants their audit committees to be empowered to identify future risks.
  • There is also a need for “greater tolerance” and transparency in discussions and decisions taken at the board level and by various board committees of listed companies, but the regulator would prefer them to adopt best global practices in this regard voluntarily rather than being dictated to do so with a new set of stringent rules.
  • The move assumes significance in the wake of the recent boardroom battle at the Tata group and the controversy surrounding the reported differences between some promoters and the top management at Infosys — both of which played out in a big way in full public glare and forced SEBI and the government to keep a close watch to safeguard the interests of minority investors and other stakeholders — as also the message going to the foreign investors.
  • “The prominent view within SEBI as of now is that the concept of board evaluation is very nascent in India and forcing the companies to follow a new set of rules in this regard may not be warranted at this stage,” a top official said, adding that the decision can be reviewed after taking into account response of the companies to the guidance note.

Paytm Unveils Online Shopping App Paytm Mall

Paytm E-commerce today announced the launch of its new Paytm Mall application on Android.

Paytm Mall aims to offer a combination of the mall and bazaar concepts to Indian consumers.

Only trusted sellers passing strict quality guidelines and qualification criteria will be allowed on the Mall.

All products listed on the mall will also go through Paytm certified warehouse and shipping channels ensuring guaranteed consumer trust.

The Bazaar is an unstructured shopping channel on Paytm that will also be featured on a new application.

Paytm Mall has over 17 fulfilment centres across the country to offer consumers an efficient online shopping experience.

The platform would also offer sellers the widest reach through its vast network of over 40 courier partners, it said.

The Paytm Mall would also launch an ungraded version of the Paytm Seller app, available in seven regional languages, allowing anyone with a smartphone to set up an online shop on Paytm Mall.

HPE Ties with Tata Communications to Roll-Out its LoRa Network

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) said that it is partnering with Tata Communications to support the roll-out of the latter’s Internet of Things platform, the LoRa network.

The association between Tata Communications and HPE paves the way for a new era in enabling devices with embedded connectivity for enterprise customer solutions throughout the country.
The project involves connecting devices, applications and other IoT solutions over the LoRa network in smart buildings, campus, utilities, fleet management, security and healthcare services in nearly 2,000 communities, covering over 400 million people, making it the first-of-its-kind initiative in India.

The project involves connecting devices, applications and other IoT solutions over the LoRa network in smart buildings, campus, utilities, fleet management, security and healthcare services in nearly 2,000 communities, covering over 400 million people, making it the first-of-its-kind initiative in India.

Environment

Pests Destroys 35% of India’s Total Crop Yield: ICAR scientist

  • As per the data by Indian Council of Agricultural Research scientists, over 30-35 percent of theannual crop yield in India is destroyed because of pests.
  •  Among these pests, the major threat to the crops in India is posed by nematodes which have caused loss to about 60 million tonnes of crops annually or 10-12 percent of crop yield each year.
  • The researcher cited that Potato Cyst Nematode, a particular kind of nematode had affected plants such as potatoes and tomatoes. It was first discovered in the Nilgiris and had now spread to various parts of the country.

Science and Technology

ZTE launches world’s first 5G IT baseband unit (BBU) in partnership with Intel

  •  Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment company ZTE made an announcement that it has launched a next generation 5G IT baseband unit (BBU). The announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on 26 February 2017.
  •  ZTE has partnered with Intel Corporation for this technology. The architecture of this technology has been provided by Intel. This is the world’s first software-defined network (SDN) or network function virtualisation (NFV) 5G radio access network (RAN) solution.
  •  This IT BBU is compatible with all 2G, 3G and 4G platform. It also supports cloud-radio access networks (C-RAN) and distributed-RAN (D-RAN). These technologically advance feature makes a space for future development. Due to the highly advanced algorithms and mechanisms used in the system, the energy consumption will also be reduced.
  •  The Chinese smartphone giant ZTE also unveiled first Gigabit phone at MWC which is capable of achieving download speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

Sports

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Outclasses Frenchman Lucas Pouille to win 2017 Open 13

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Outclasses Frenchman Lucas Pouille to win 2017 Open 13

 

  • Second-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won a second title in as many weeks by defeating fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-4 Sunday in the Open 13 final.
  • The 11th-ranked Tsonga put on a nearly flawless performance on his serve to win his 14th career title at the indoor event. Tsonga hit seven aces, dropped only three points on his first serve and did not face a single break point.
  • Tsonga, who defeated defending champion Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals, captured the Rotterdam title last week to end a two-year trophy drought.
  • Fourth-seeded Pouille was chasing a second title after his victory at the Moselle Open last September but never looked capable of threatening Tsonga’s dominance.

Kalinga Lancers beat Dabang Mumbai to Clinch Maiden Hockey India League

Kalinga Lancers beat Dabang Mumbai to Clinch Maiden Hockey India League

Last year’s finalists Kalinga Lancers made amends to lift their maiden Hockey India League title, defeating Dabang Mumbai 4-1 in the final on Sunday.
Dabang Mumbai, who were leaders at the end of the league stage, could not find their best as Kalinga Lancers emerged victorious to claim the purse of Rs 2.5 crore. The runners-up received Rs 1.25 crore.
Fuerste Moritz was awarded as the ‘Man of the Match’. Last year Kalinga Lancers lost in finals to Jaypee Punjab Warriors.

Obituary

Former Union Minister P Shivshankar Passes Away

Former Union Minister P Shivshankar Passes Away

Former Union Minister P. Shiv Shankar passed away in Hyderabad on February 27, 2017 at the age of 89.
About P.Shivshankar :
P. Shiv Shankar was born on 10 August 1929 in Mamidipalli, District Hyderabad, Telangana.
P. Shiv Shankar was judge in Andhra Pradesh High Court during 1974 and 1975. He was elected to 6th Lok Sabha from Secunderabad in 1979.
He was in Indian National Congress political party. He was re-elected from same constituency in 1980. He was made Ministry of Law and Justice in Third Indira Gandhi Ministry in 1980.
In 1985, P. Shiv Shankar was elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and remained in Rajya Sabha till 1993 for two terms. He was Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Human Resource Development during these terms.

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