Current Affairs Today February 7 2018

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Commerce Ministry launches tools to rank states, UTs on startup ecosystem
On February 6, 2017, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu launched three tools – States and Union Territory Startup Ranking Framework, Compendium of Good Practices for Promoting Startups in India and the Startup India Kit – for ranking States and Union Territories (UTs) on startup ecosystem.
i. Main objective of this tool is to encourage States and UTs to take proactive steps for strengthening the Startup ecosystems at the local level.
ii. Startup India Kit: This kit will serve as a one-stop guide on all Startup India offerings.The kit contains vital information, statistics, advice and assistance through website links, tools, events, competitions, templates and a glossary of startup terms……………………………………..Click here to Read more

Government sets up mechanism in CSIR for transfer of technology
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology, has formulated a mechanism in CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) to facilitate regular interface with small-scale industry for transfer of technologies from CSIR laboratories.Government sets up mechanism in CSIR for transfer of technologyMechanism in CSIR for transfer of technology:
i. An announcement regarding this was made during a meeting with members of Laghu Udyog Bharati, an all-India organisation of small scale industries.
ii. Laghu Udyog Bharati has 450 branches and 25,000-member units in India. National Secretary of Laghu Udyog Bharati, Sampat Toshniwal said that, there is a disconnect between CSIR and small-scale industries.
iii. It was said that, a nodal officer in CSIR will coordinate with the small-scale industry and CSIR labs for required technology transfer.
About Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR):
♦ Prime Minister – Narendra Modi
♦ Vice President – Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Cabinet Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences
♦ Director General – Dr. Girish Sahni

GST rate on amusement parks and ballet etc, reduced from 28% to 18%.
At 25th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council held in New Delhi on January 18, 2018, it was recommended that GST rate on services by way of admission to Amusement Parks may be reduced from 28% to 18%.
GST on Amusement Parks:
i. The recommendation to reduce GST rate on entry to amusement parks was in response to requests received from several quarters that amusement parks promote social wellness and are avenues to attain fun and learning for children and their families in a real active entertainment.
ii. On January 25, 2018, a notification was issued giving effect to this recommendations of GST Council.
iii. Thus, admission to amusement parks including water parks, theme parks, joy rides, go-carting, merry-go-rounds and ballet is now taxable at the lower rate of 18%.
Quick Facts about Goods and Services Tax (GST):
♦ GST is a destination-based, single indirect tax that is levied on consumption of goods or use of services across India.
♦ It was rolled out in India from July 1, 2017.
♦ GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and comprising representatives of all states have finalised four tax brackets under GST viz. 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.

Arunachal Pradesh CM lays foundation stone of Rhodendron Park in Tawang
On 6th February 2018, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu laid foundation stone for Rhodendron Park in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh.Arunachal Pradesh CM lays foundation stone of Rhodendron Park in Tawang Foundation stone for Rhodendron Park in Tawang:
i. The Rhodendron Park will be built in an area of 1.15 hectares. It will be partly funded under Border Area Development Programme (BADP).
ii. Nearly 30 species of rhododendrons will be planted in the park and conserved. The park will also contain modern nursery, information center on rhododendron, resting sheds, vehicle parking facility, public toilet facility, signage and lightings and iron security gate.
iii. A plantation drive of various varieties of Rhodos was also initiated by Pema Khandu.
About Border Area Development Programme (BADP):
♦ Started – 1986-87
♦ Objective – to meet the special needs of people living in remote, and inaccessible areas situated near the border areas

Centre allocated Rs 5252 crore for railway infra development in Odisha
Under Union Budget 2018, Central Government has allocated Rs 5252 crore for different railway projects in Odisha.
Details about funds allocated for railway infra development in Odisha:
i. This year’s allocation is the highest ever budgetary allocation for railway infra development in Odisha till date.
ii. In Union Budget 2017, budgetary allocation for railway infra development in Odisha was Rs. 5102 crore, while for 2016 , it was Rs. 4682 crore.
iii. Despite of highest budgetary allocation this year, Odisha State Government is not pleased because it had demanded Rs 6500 crore for the development of railway sector in the state.
Quick Facts about Odisha
♦ Capital – Bhubaneswar
♦ Current Governor – S.C. Jamir
♦ Current Chief Minister – Naveen Patnaik
♦ Important National Park – Bhitarkanika National Park

Haryana to establish farmers’ welfare department
On February 6, 2018, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar stated that the State Government will establish ‘Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran’, a farmers’ welfare department which will be entrusted with the responsibility to make agriculture remunerative by enhancing productivity and thereby mitigate the distress of farm households and landless workers.
Details about ‘Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran’:
i. This announcement was made by Mr. Khattar while interacting with farmers during the ‘Ek Aur Sudhar’ programme in Chandigarh.
ii. Chief Minister of Haryana would be the ex-officio chairperson of the Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran, while State’s Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister would be the ex-officio vice- chairman.
iii. Besides handling its primary responsibility of making agriculture remunerative, Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran will also synergise with various departments for implementation and monitoring of schemes, programmes and projects thorough the Agriculture Advisory Council.
Quick Facts about Haryana:
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Current Governor – Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Current Chief Minister – Manohar Lal Khattar
♦ Important National Park – Sultanpur National Park

South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference held in New Delhi
5th South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference is being held in New Delhi from 5th – 7th February, 2018.South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference held in New DelhiMore Information about 5th South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference:
i. The Conference was inaugurated by Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. It is being hosted by government of India through the Public Procurement Division (PPD) of the Ministry of Finance and All India Management Association (AIMA).
ii. It is being held under the auspices of the South Asia Region Public Procurement Network (SARPPN).
iii. SARPPN is sponsored and facilitated by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
iv. Objective of this conference is to serve as a platform for Heads of Public Procurement and other key stakeholders in the eight South Asian countries to meet and learn from one another and interact with experts in the field of public procurement.
v. Theme of 5th South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference is “Public Procurement and Service Delivery”.
vi. 100 participants, including senior government officials responsible for public procurement will be participating in this conference.

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI releases sixth bi- monthly Monetary Policy, Repo rate unchanged at 6%
On February 7, 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced Sixth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement for financial year 2017-18. This time too, the Policy Repo Rate has been kept unchanged……………………………….Click here to Read more
Post the Sixth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement announcement, the policy rates and reserve ratios are as follows:

Policy Repo Rate6.00%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
Reverse Repo Rate5.75%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
Marginal Standing Facility Rate6.25%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
Bank Rate6.25%Unchanged – since 2nd August 2017
Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)4.00%Unchanged – since 9th February 2013
Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)19.50%With Effect from 14th October 2017

RBI to set up ombudsman for non-banking finance companies
On February 7, 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced setting up ombudsman for addressing customer grievances in the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). 
Ombudsman for NBFCs:
i. Detailed rules will be notified  by the end of February 2018.
ii. Initially, only deposit taking NBFCs will come under the purview of Ombudsman.
iii. Gradually its scope will be widened and will also cover NBFCs with asset size of Rs 100 crore.
iv. For Indian Banking system, Ombudsman scheme is already in place and has become a preferred mode of customer grievance redressal by public at large.
v. An aggrieved customer can approach banking ombudsman in case if his/her complaint has not been attended by the bank within one month or if his/her complaint has been rejected by the bank. Banking Ombudsman can be approached even if the complainant is not satisfied with the reply given by the bank.
Quick Facts about Banking Ombudsman Scheme:
♦ Operational since – 1995
♦ Authority type – Quasi Judicial
♦ Number of Banking Ombudsman at present – 20, having offices mostly in state capitals

BUSINESS

Maharashtra becomes first state to adopt a comprehensive fintech policy
On February 6, 2018, Maharashtra State cabinet approved Maharashtra FinTech Policy 2018 and thereby became the first State in India to adopt a comprehensive fintech (Financial Technology) policy for fostering an environment for fintech startups.Assam to set up dedicated agency for business, investmentsSalient Features of Maharashtra FinTech Policy 2018:
i. Vision of this policy is to position Maharashtra among the five best global fintech hubs in the coming years.
ii. Under this policy, Maharashtra State Government will provide the infrastructure and financial support to facilitate 300 startups over next three years.
iii. Maharashtra State Government has provided Rs 200 crore for this purpose.
iv. Along with Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune too would be turned into fintech hubs.
v. Daily operations related to the implementation of this policy will be overseen by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself along with a dedicated fintech team.
Quick Facts about Maharashtra:
♦ Capital – Mumbai
♦ Current Chief Minister – Devendra Fadnavis
♦ Current Governor – Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao
♦ Important National Park – Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Assam to set up dedicated agency for business, investments
Assam State Government would soon set up ‘Invest Assam’ a new dedicated agency to look into all aspects of business and investment in the state.
i. This decision was taken post conclusion of the two-day ‘Global Investors Summit-Advantage Assam’.
ii. During the course of this summit, around 200 memorandum of understanding (MoUs) worth Rs one lakh crore were signed.
iii. Senior officials of Industries and Commerce Department of Assam State Government have been directed to work out the future course of action for speedy execution of these MoUs.
Quick Facts about Assam:
♦ Capital – Dispur
♦ Current Governor – Jagdish Mukhi
♦ Current Chief Minister – Sarbananda Sonowal
♦ Important National Park – Kaziranga National Park

Google, NCERT partner for internet safety training in schools
On 6th February 2018, Google and NCERT signed an agreement to integrate ‘Digital Citizenship and Safety’ course in information and communication technology curriculum.Google launches #SecurityCheckKiya campaign to protect data, devicesDigital Citizenship and Safety:
i. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) contains a curriculum on IT and communication technologies in its teachers training programme.
ii. Students from class I to XII will be trained using the curriculum developed jointly by NCERT and Google.  Students from nearly 1.4 million schools in India will be trained.
iii. This curriculum has four themes – being smart, being safe, being a digital citizen and being future ready. No fee is charged by Google for this training.
About National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT):
♦ Formed – 1961
♦ Director – Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty

Google, Tata Trusts to promote IT adoption among TN rural women
On 7th February 2018, Google India and Tata Trusts extended their Internet Saathi programme to 4,000 villages in six districts of Tamil Nadu.
‘Internet Saathi’ programme in vilages of Tamil Nadu:
i. Google India and Tamil Nadu government also announced that, they have planned to provide Google Cloud credits and access through its affiliate for eligible startups coming under the Tamil Nadu government’s startup initiative.
ii. Google India will also provide technical mentorship and support to various startups. The announcement was made by Tamil Nadu Information Technology Minister M Manikandan.
iii. It was also announced that Google and Tamil Nadu government will work together to make government sites mobile friendly, help local small and medium businesses to use online facilities, and Internet safety education for children.
iv. The ‘Internet Saathi’ programme was started as a pilot programme in Rajasthan in July 2015.
About Google:
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.
♦ CEO – Sundar Pichai

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Dubai retains rank as world’s busiest international airport
Dubai International Airport has retained its position as world’s busiest international airport in terms of passenger traffic.Dubai retains rank as world’s busiest international airporti. During 2017, Dubai International Airport served 88.2 million passengers, which marks 5.5% per cent increase as compared to 83.6 million passengers in 2016.
ii. In 2014, Dubai International Airport surpassed London Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport for the first time. Thus, it has retained its No. 1 position for the fourth consecutive year.
iii. Increase in international passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport can be attributed to several factors including expansion of routes from Emirates and easing of visa regulations for Chinese and Russian visitors.
iv. Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Dubai Airports expects that passenger traffic will reach 90.3 million in 2018. Several process improvements by adopting new technology are underway to expand airport’s annual capacity to 118 million passengers.
Quick Facts about Dubai International Airport:
♦ Operated by – Dubai Airports Company
♦ International Air Transport Association  (IATA) Code – DXB
♦ Hub for – Emirates, FedEx Express

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

First ever chat based job search app ‘Empzilla’ launched
‘Empzilla’, a chat based job search mobile app, first of its kind in India has been launched.First ever chat based job search app ‘Empzilla’ launchedEmpzilla:
i. Using Empzilla, employers and job searchers can easily carry out a conversation.  This also spares the Human Resource department’s strenuous job of going through so many mails.
ii. Empzilla has a geo location feature. This lets the users find out the exact distance between the hiring venue and the candidate’s location.
iii .At every stage, candidate gets notifications like ‘application viewed’, ‘application in review’, ‘shortlisted’, ‘interview invite’. This is said to be a quick and cost effective method.
About Empzilla:
♦ Chairman – Akash Attray
♦ Purpose – chat based job search mobile app

MP government launches “pollution metre” app to spread awareness against pollution
On 6th February 2018, Madhya Pradesh government introduced ‘Pollution Metre’, a mobile application to spread awareness against pollution in the western part of Madhya Pradesh.
Pollution metre:
i. The mobile application ‘Pollution Metre’ is available on Google Play Store. This app has been developed jointly by a private firm and Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
ii. Using the ‘Pollution Metre’ app, users can check the status of air, water and noise pollution in their areas.
iii. Using this app people from 8 districts in western Madhya Pradesh can notify their concerns regarding pollution and environment. This would help the government to have a check on pollution.
About Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):
♦ Formed – 1974
♦ Chairman – S.P. Singh Parihar

HAL develops first Hawk-i flight
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has developed the first flight of Hawk-i with indigenous Real Time Operating System (RTOS).HAL develops first Hawk-i flightHawk-i:
i. Hawk-i is the first indigenous RTOS developed from scratch in India. It has been certified by Center for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC).
ii. RTOS is the system software that provides a standard run-time environment for safe and reliable real-time applications.
iii. This HAL-RTOS supports Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture. Its important features are address, space and time partitioning, priority pre-emptive process scheduling and health monitoring.
iv .The HAL-RTOS can be made as standard Real Time Operating System for future avionics systems made in India.
About Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL):
♦ Headquarters – Bangalore
♦ Chairman – T. Suvarna Raju

India successfully test-fires nuclear capable Prithvi-11 from Odisha coast
On 7th February 2018, India successfully test-fired Prithvi-II, an indigenously developed nuclear capable missile from a test range in Odisha.Prithvi II missilePrithvi-11:
i. Prithvi-11 is a surface-to-surface missile. It can strike through a range of 350 km. Its trial was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur.
ii. All mission objectives were satisfied during the test launch and it was declared a successful launch.
iii. Prithvi-II has the capability to carry 500-1,000 kg of warheads. It has liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system.
iv. The launch was carried out by Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the Army. It was monitored by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists.
v. Prithvi-II was inducted by the Armed forces in 2003.  It is the first missile developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):
♦ Chairman – Dr S Christopher
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi

SpaceX launches ‘Falcon Heavy’ – world’s most powerful rocket towards Mars
On 6th February 2018, SpaceX’s launched its ‘Falcon Heavy’ rocket towards Mars from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
Falcon Heavy:
i. Falcon Heavy is said to be the world’s most powerful rocket. It carried a Tesla roadster as a mock payload.
ii. Three minutes after the launch, the Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters separated from the central rocket.
iii. The two boosters flew back to earth eight minutes after launch. This is the first time a privately financed rocket has attempted to send a payload out of Earth’s orbit.
About SpaceX:
♦ CEO – Elon Musk
♦ Headquarters – California, U.S.

OBITUARY

Pioneer of Children’s Theatre, Sudha Karmarkar passes away
On 5th February 2018, Sudha Karmarkar, Pioneer of Children’s Theatre, passed away due to age related ailments, in Mumbai.
Death of Sudha Karmarkar:
i. Sudha Karmarkar was 83 years old. She founded the children’s theatre in Mumbai named as ‘Bal Rangbhumi- Little Theatre’. She has directed several plays for children.
ii. She has also acted in those plays. She started the Little Theatre movement in 1959 with the first children’s drama ‘Madhu Manjiri’.
About wildlife sanctuaries in Maharashtra:
♦ Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary
♦ Karnala Bird Sanctuary
♦ Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary

Actor John Mahoney passes away
On 4th February 2018, actor John Mahoney passed away after brief illness in Chicago.Actor John Mahoney passes awayDeath of John Mahoney:
i. John Mahoney was 77 years old. He was well-known for playing the title character in the “Frasier” show.
ii. John Mahoney worked in films for nearly 35 years. His important works are “The American President,” “Moonstruck,” “In the Line of Fire,” and “Say Anything”.
About John Mahoney:
♦ Born in – Blackpool, England
♦ Occupation – actor