Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 18th February, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016.
PM Modi released guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana at Kisan Mela in MP
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18 February 2016 launched the guidelines for operationalization of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). The guidelines were issued at a farmers’ convention in Sherpur village of Madhya Pradesh.
- The PMFBY is a path breaking scheme for crop insurance and was approved by the Union Cabinet on 13 January 2016.
- The Yojna will come into force from the 2016 Kharif season (from June to October in India).
- It aims at boosting the agricultural sector of India and envisages a uniform premium of only 2 percent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 percent for Rabi crops.
- The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 percent.
- On the occasion, the Prime Minister Modi also presented a trophy of Krishi Karman Award to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
- On the other hand, Modi was conferred with Kisan Mitra and Kisan Hiteshi Samman on behalf of Madhya Pradesh government for his historic decisions in the interest of farmers’ community.
Startup India and Viacom18 join hands to launch outreach programme for entrepreneurs
- Viacom18, the media house that owns and runs channels like Colors and MTV, has tied up with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)’s Startup India to launch a year-long outreach programme for entrepreneurs called MTV Kickstart.
- The initiative will include activities on-ground, digital communication and a television reality show.
- While the Viacom18 brand attached to the programme is MTV, the network’s youth brand, all the vehicles under the Viacom18 umbrella will be mobilised to rollout the outreach initiative.
- The multi-platform initiative will reach out to young aspiring entrepreneurs through multiple touch-points across 300 colleges in the country. Around 10 start-up festivals (2 day events) across tier 1 & 2 cities will be organised to allow youth to have a personal interaction with the top entrepreneurs and investors in the nation.
- MTV Kickstart will work towards educating the youth about the ecosystem of start-ups. The program will aim to educate through personal and informal interactions with established start-up entrepreneurs, investors, advisory and much more.
World's cheapest 'made in India' smartphone launched at Rs 251
- Taking the world by surprise with the world's cheapest smartphone, a little known Noida-based start-up on Wednesday launched a Rs.251 (less than $4) "Made in India" smartphone that - if works well - will be a game changer.
- In what could be termed as a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" and "Digital India" initiatives, "Freedom 251" from Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd will be available for pre-order on the company website from 6 a.m. on February 18 till 8 p.m. on February 21.
- The smartphone was unveiled at Nehru Park in New Delhi by veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi.
Apple to set up Technology Development Centre in Hyderabad
- Apple Inc. in the second week of February 2016 announced setting up of a Technology Development Centre (TDC) in Hyderabad, Telangana. For Apple, it will be the first TDC outside the USA.
- With this announcement, Apple joined other big technology firms like Microsoft, Google and Facebook that focused on Hyderabad to expand their operations in Asia.
- The centre will be set up at an estimated investment of 25 million US dollars and occupy 250000 square feet in Tishman Speyer's WaveRock facility.
- The proposed TDC is of strategic value as, at present, Apple Inc. is the world’s largest mobile technology company and India is the world's fastest-growing smart phone market.
NTPC arm ties up with German institutes for solar power research
- NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance (NETRA), the research and development arm of the public sector power generator, said on Thursday that it is collaborating with two German institutions for research in solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies.
- With DLR Cologne, the company is carrying out research in the field of solar thermal and Institute of Solar Energy Fraunhofer, the research is in the field of solar photovoltaic.
- NETRA plans to set up state of art evaluation facilities for Solar PV and conduct various programs for knowledge sharing, capacity building with German institutions in the area of solar energy.
Bain Capital, GIC, Advent invest $350 mn in QuEST Global
- QuEST Global, a pure-play engineering and R&D services provider on Thursday, said that few leading global investors including Bain Capital, GIC and Advent International have invested around $350 million (close to Rs 2,396 crore) for minority stake in the company.
- The deal values the company at over $1 billion. As part of this, these investors have bought out QuEST Global’s long-time investor Warburg Pincus, and few other shareholders who had invested in the company in the angel stage.
Denmark's Universal Robots launches collaborative robot line in India
- Danish robot manufacturer Universal Robots launched its operations in India on Thursday. Its collaborative robots (co-bots) range, the company said, had already seen application in the Indian auto and auto components sector.
- While Universal Robots has been selling its robotic products in the country for the past three years, it had set up its sales office in the country in October last year.
- The co-bots range is touted as lightweight, flexible, compact and versatile. According to the company, the system can be reprogrammed to perform a myriad of tasks and does not require extensive safety features while working in close proximity to human workers.
Thermal Powertech signs PPA with Telangana discoms
- Thermal Powertech Corporation India Ltd (TPCIL), which owns and operates a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power plant at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, has signed a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Telangana power distribution companies.
- Under the power purchase agreement, 570 MW of power will be sold to the southern and northern power distribution companies of Telangana for a period of eight years.
Odisha Government to introduce self-certifying scheme for industries to set up units
- Odisha government on 17 February 2016 decided to introduce a self-certifying scheme for non-hazardous industries.
- This scheme will ease the process of doing business in the state by shortening the inspection process at the initial levels required for non-hazardous industries to set up units.
- The decision in regard to the scheme was taken at a high-level meeting in Bhubaneswar, presided over by Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi.
Union Cabinet approved Trade Facilitation Agreement
- Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016 approved Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It approved the Notification of Commitments, its ratification and acceptance of the Instrument of Acceptance of Protocol of TFA to the WTO Secretariat.
- India is the 71st country to give nod to the agreement that seeks to ease customs procedures to boost commerce.
- As per the Trade Facilitation Agreement adopted by the WTO on 27 November 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, the TFA shall enter into force for the notified members (107 countries) upon acceptance by two-third WTO Members.
India, Nepal to sign 4 MoUs to boost cooperation in economic, energy and cultural fields
- Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's six-day India visit starts on Friday with the two sides working on at least four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to boost cooperation in economic, energy and cultural fields.
- The two MoUs - one on the $1 billion line of credit that India has already committed to extend to Nepal and another on $1 billion that India has pledged for Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction - will be signed during Oli's visit, officials here privy to the discussions on both sides said.
- The MoUs are considered the framework under which modality, projects and other aspects of the Indian aid and loan will be finalised during the visit.
- During his visit to Nepal in August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a $1 billion line of credit to Nepal for undertaking various infrastructure projects.
- The MoU on Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction effort envisages various projects to be undertaken through Indian assistance. India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had announced $1 billion loan and aid to Nepal during the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction last June.
- Besides, a MoU is to be signed between the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India and the Nepal Sangeet Tatha Natya Pragya Pratisthan for exchange of cultural programmes between the two entities.
- Radio Nepal and All India Radio will sign another MoU to cooperate in exchange of various programmes.
- Among those MoUs, one relates to Nepal's registration in the 'SAARC Satellite' proposed by Prime Minister Modi during the 18th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu.
- Another MoU is about cooperation and exchange of various activities and manpower between Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The ICCR provides scholarships to Nepali students in various Indian universities.
Northern Central Railway commissioned ultra modern computer-based signalling system at Khurja Jn
- North Central Railway in association with the Construction and open line Units of the Railway on 14 February 2016 commissioned an ultra modern computer-based signaling system at the Khurja junction.
- With this commissioning, the Khurja Yard this is a part of the Allahabad Railway Division will have a 256 possible movements leading to immense flexibility and faster clearance of trains.
- The system will also lead to better reliability, safer shunting operation, better handling of long goods train, enhanced line capacity and fully computerized operation.
- Overall, the newly installed system will improve traffic movement on important Ghaziabad Kanpur Section and lead to an ultra modern centralized traffic centre system.
Paani Foundation joined hand with Maharashtra Government for water conservation
- Paani Foundation, a not-for-profit company, started by Actor Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao was in news on 17 February 2016. The foundation came into news after Khan and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that it will work with the state government to solve the water crisis in the state.
- Paani Foundation is a not-for-profit company whose main objective is to bring about a change in outlook about water conservation. It will communicate, impart knowledge and bring a change in outlook at the grassroots level about water conservation and watershed management.
- Operation of the foundation is led by Satyajit Bhatkal who is its CEO, while Khan’s ex-wife Reena Dutta is COO.
Tamil Nadu announced Free Bus Pass Scheme for senior citizens
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on 18 February 2016 announced a free bus pass scheme for senior citizens in Chennai.
- The scheme would come into effect from 24 February 2016, the day that coincides with the birthday of Jayalalitha.
- People above 60 years of age can avail the free travel facility in non-AC buses being run by the state run Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Chennai.
Tata Motors, Bharat Forge tied up for $11 billion Indian Army’s FICV Programme
- The abbreviation FICV was in news in the second week of February 2016 as Tata Motors, Bharat Forge and the USA-based General Dynamics tied up for defense bid under Future Infantry Combat Vehicle programme.
- The FICV Programme involves development of compact combat vehicles for the Indian Army that will replace Russian-designed BMP (Sarath BMP-II) series armed vehicles that are in operation since 1980.
- The nearly 10 billion US dollar project is touted as India’s largest indigenous defense program.
Jayant Misra appointed Director General of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
- Senior IRS officer Jayant Misra was today appointed as Director General of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), ending eight months of vacancy of the post.
- The move comes two days after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) asked the DRI to verify if USD 505 billion was transacted out of the country between 2004-2013 as part of trade-based money laundering.
- With the approval of competent authority, Jayant Misra has been transferred to DG DRI, Delhi, a government order said.
- Misra is currently DG (Systems) at the Directorate General of Systems and Data Management here.
Alok Kumar Verma Will Be New Delhi Police Chief
- Senior IPS officer Alok Kumar Verma will be the new Police Commissioner of Delhi, succeeding B S Bassi who retires on February 29.
- Lt Governor Najeeb Jung today issued an order appointing 58-year-old Verma, a 1979-batch Union Territory cadre officer, as the top police officer of the national capital. Verma is currently serving as DG of Tihar prison.
- An official said that the order was issued by the Delhi Home Department in the name of the Lt Governor in pursuance of the order of the Union Home Ministry dated February 17.
MRF chief K M Mammen selected as Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers' Association (ATMA)
- K M Mammen, Chairman & Managing Director, MRF Ltd has been elected as Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers' Association (ATMA), national industry body for automotive tyre sector in India. Meanwhile, Satish Sharma, President (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa) Apollo Tyres Ltd has been elected as Vice Chairman of ATMA.
- Mammen is the eldest son of the late Founder Chairman of MRF and he has held various executive positions in business associations in the country including as President of the Indo Australian Chamber of Commerce. He is currently an executive member on the board of FICCI and a member on the Board of the Madras Christian College.
- Sharma joined Apollo Tyres in 1997 and took over as Chief India Operations in 2006 before being re-designated as President for Asia Pacific, Middle East& Africa region in early 2014.
Union Cabinet approved nomination of NITI Aayog CEO as part-time member of Telecom Commission
- Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016 approved nomination of the Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog as a part-time member of the telecom commission. With this decision, Amitabh Kant will assume the role by virtue of his position as the NITI Aayog CEO.
- The new role for the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog CEO was envisioned as the institution replaced the Planning Commission the Secretary of which was a part-time member in the telecom commission.
- The NITI Aayog CEO will lend value to the deliberations of the commission as the NITI Aayog was mandated to serve as a think tank of the government.
Awards & Honors –
David Shulman won Israel Prize for Religious Studies for Research on India
- Renowned Indologist Professor David Shulman on 14 February 2016 was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Religious Studies for his breakthrough research into the literature and culture of southern India.
- Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett approved the recommendation of the prize committee, headed by Professor Shaul Shaked.
- David Dean Shulman is an Indologist and regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the languages of India.
Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography "Playing It My Way" enters Limca Book of Records
- Sachin Tendulkar continues to make records with the his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ entering the Limca Book of Records for being the best-selling adult hardback across both fiction and non-fiction categories.
- The book, published by Hachette India, was released on November 6, 2014 and has broken all records for an adult hardback across both fiction and non-fiction categories with 1,50,289 copies confirmed on order subscriptions.
- The book’s orders, on day one, already saw it pulling ahead of both pre-order and lifetime sales of the world’s top adult hardbacks Dan Brown’s Inferno, Walter Issacson’s Steve Jobs and JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy.
- Boria Majumdar was the co-author of Tendulkar’s autobiography. It also holds the record in retail value terms having logged up Rs. 13.51 crore with its cover price being Rs. 899.
WHO issues $56 million plan to combat Zika virus
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zika virus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.
- The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas.
- The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.
Apple launches payments service 'Apple Pay' in China
- Apple today launched its mobile payments service Apple Pay in China, the company said, pitting the US technology giant against strong domestic players in an already crowded field.
- The world's second-largest economy is a crucial market for the California-based firm, and Apple Pay is available in only a handful of other countries including the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia.
- But unlike most other countries, mobile payment systems are already well-established in China and Apple does not have a first-mover advantage.
- Mobile transactions were valued at 9.31 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) last year, one industry estimate showed, and according to the state-backed China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the country had 359 million online payment users in mid-2015, up almost 18% in six months.
United Nations and Colombian Government launched trust fund for peacebuilding needs
- The United Nations (UN) and the Government of Colombia on 17 February 2016 announced the launch of a new multi-partner trust fund in Bogota to respond to stabilization and peacebuilding needs.
- The Fund will be managed by the Government and the UN, in close cooperation with interested donors. The Fund will especially support conflict areas in the lead-up to and aftermath of possible peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).
- Norway, Sweden and the UN’s own Peacebuilding Fund are the first contributors, helping the new fund kick off with an initial 8 million US dollars.
Eminent vocalist Abdul Rashid Khan passes away
- Eminent Hindustani classical vocalist Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan passed away at a private hospital here today following old-age related ailments, family members said. He was 107.
- A recipient of Padma Bhushan in 2013 and Sangeet Natak Akademi award, he was a resident guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in the city for the past 20 years.