Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs Update of 14 and 15 February, 2017. These are very important for the upcoming SBI PO Mains and other insurance and bank exams.
Financial and Banking News:
Airbus signs MoU for setting up centre of excellence in Hyderabad
- Airbus today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for establishing a Centre of Excellence for aerospace skill development in Hyderabad, together with the Telangana government, National Skill Development Corporation India and AEROCAMPUS France.
- The Centre, which will come up at Begumpet Airport, will train candidates ranging from high school graduates to experienced aviation personnel on aircraft manufacturing, logistics, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), ground handling and special aviation processes.
- The Centre will offer short-term refresher modules as well as long-term certificate and diploma courses that will find acceptability within the industry, Airbus said in a release.
- It said the Centre is expected to roll out short-term courses this year, adding, it planned to upgrade into a university over the next five years.
- The Telangana government will provide space for setting up the Centre and would arrange the initial seed fund for the project.
- The National Skill Development Corporation will channelise the candidates to the Centre.
SIDBI, MCCIA sign MoU to finance MSMEs
- To make deeper inroads into MSME financing, the Small Industries and Development Bank of India (SIDBI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Mahratta Chambers of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) to facilitate loans of up to Rs 50 lakh to member MSMEs on a preferential basis.
- The MoU will target micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Pune region that are members of the MCCIA. The chambers said it has membership of about 1,600 MSMEs from Pune and its adjoining region.
- MSMEs typically struggle to get loans from financial institutions, despite being one of the biggest employment generators in the country. According to SIDBI's annual report, only about 7.3% of the over 5.1 crore MSMEs in the country avail loans.
- SIDBI said there will be no turnover restrictions on the MSMEs for these loans, but only those enterprises will qualify for loans, which have posted profit in the last two years continuously and have been in existence for at least three years.
ReNew Power Ventures sells 10% stake to JERA
- The ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd on 14 February 2017 announced that it sold a 10 per cent stake in the company to Japanese firm JERA for USD 200 million.
- While the ReNew Power Ventures is India’s leading renewable energy producer, JERA is a Japanese company.
- Following the company’s founding six years ago, this latest investment round now values ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd at USD 2 billion.
- ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd is an independent power producer (IPP) company. It was founded in 2011 by Sumant Sinha.
- ReNew Power’s mission is to play a pivotal role in meeting India’s growing energy needs in an efficient, sustainable and socially responsible manner.
- The company creates value through reliable and efficient generation of non-conventional power through innovation in solar and wind power solutions.
Union Government signs agreement with Croatia on economic cooperation
- The Union Government on 14 February 2017 signed agreement with the Republic of Croatia on economic cooperation in Zagreb, Croatia.
- The agreement was signed by Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister and Martina Dalic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Croatia.
- The Agreement will help both the countries in stepping up the ties in continuity as the last agreement expired in November 2009.
- Prior to this agreement, India and Croatia had earlier signed an agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in September 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations.
- India’s bilateral trade with the Republic of Croatia during the financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 were USD 148.86 million, USD 205.04 million and USD 148.44 million respectively. The bilateral trade during the last three years has remained stable between both the countries despite global slowdown.
L&T and MBDA establish Joint Venture for development of missile systems
- Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Turbo (L&T) on 13 February 2017 entered into a joint venture (JV) with European defence major MBDA to develop and produce new-generation tactical missiles. The JV named as L&T MBDA Missile Systems will be registered in India.
- Besides being registered in India, the L&T MBDA Missile Systems will conduct business as an Indian Company and in accordance with the subject of Indian laws.
- About the Joint Venture and Highlights
- Initially, the two companies will develop and supply the fifth-generation, missiles for coastal defence batteries, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM5s) and high-speed target drones for the Indian forces.
- It will focus on business opportunities in the Missiles and Missile System domain.
- The JV’s target prospects under the Buy (Indian – IDDM), Buy and Make (Indian) and Buy (Indian) categories of Defence Procurement
Sub-committee to frame blueprint on Integrated Dairy Complexes constituted in Haryana
- Haryana Cabinet on 14 February 2017 constituted a sub-committee of council of ministers. The committee will prepare a blueprint for developing Integrated Dairy Complexes in all cities of the State.
- The decision to constitute the committee was taken at a cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. It has been asked to submit its report within a month.
Members of the committee are
- Agriculture Minister Om Parkash Dhankhar
- Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain
- Minister of State for Cooperation Munish Kumar Grover
Indian Railways Dedicated Freight Corridor: First portion to be operational by 2018
- The Ministry of Railways on 13 February 2017 announced that the first portion of the Indian Railways Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) between Ateli and Phulera will become operational by March 2018.
- This will be a 190-km double track route with a total of 380 km track length which will be under the scrutiny of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL). The Ateli-Phulera section will take over the freight load from the Indian Railways.
- Additionally, around 500-600 km of additional track length will be operational by financial year 2018-19.
- DFCCIL, a special purpose vehicle of the railways, owns the responsibility to develop six Dedicated Freight Corridors across the country.
- These DFCs will transfer a minimum of 70 per cent of the freight carried by the Indian Railways on tracks parallel to DFCs.
- One rack on the DFC will be able to carry 13000 tonnes of load compared with 5000 tonnes carried by racks on the existing railway tracks.
- Out of these six corridors, the Eastern DFC and the Western DFC were taken up on priority basis with funding assistance from World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
- JICA sanctioned Rs 38722 crore loan while World Bank committed to provide USD 2.725 billion for the project.
Master Ship Repair Agreement signed between RDEL and US Navy
- Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd (RDEL) and the US Navy signed a Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) for undertaking service, maintenance and repair of the Seventh Fleet of the US Navy that is operational in the Indian Ocean. Information on the agreement between Anil Ambani-led firm and the US Navy was announced on 13 February 2017.
- The seventh fleet of the US Navy consists of front-line warships, patrol and supply vessels among others. Of these, about 100 vessels are operating in the Indian Ocean.
- As per the agreement, the works will be performed at the Reliance Shipyard at Pipavav in Gujarat. At present, these vessels visit shipyards in Japan or Singapore for repair and maintenance work.
- This is the first time, when an Indian company, may be a private or public, will be providing logistical support to the US military within Indian Territory.
Non-financial news – India and states:
ISRO sets world record by launching 104 satellites in a single mission including Cartosat-2
- Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 15 February 2017 successfully launched a record 104 satellites including Cartosat-2 in a single mission. The heavy duty rocket PSLV C37 carrying will lift off at 9:28 am from Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- The satellites will be injected in a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit at different slots at different angles and at different times.
- With this launch, ISRO successfully created a world record of inserting the highest number of satellites into space in a single launch. Its previous personal record was of sending 20 satellites in one go.
- The last count of the highest number of satellites launched in a single mission is 37 by Russia in 2014. This is the first time the count exceeds a hundred.
Payloads of PSLV-C37
- India’s Cartosat-2 Series satellite weighing 714 kilograms, which is meant for earth observation. It has a sharp resolution to provide quality earth images to its customers.
- Other 103 payloads of the launch included two other nano-satellites are from India and all the remaining 101 nano-satellites are from foreign customers including 96 from the US and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Nederland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. All these 103 payloads together weighed 664 kilograms.
FSSAI formed Scientific Panel on Food Fortification and Nutrition
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on 14 February 2017 formed a scientific panel on food fortification and nutrition.
- The scientific panel was mandated to identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general as well as in specific target groups based on diet surveys and credible scientific evidence.
- The panel includes 11 distinguished scientists and experts in the field of nutrition. Apart from these 11 experts, members of scientific panels dealing with fortification of food such as wheat flour, refined flour, rice, milk, edible oil and salt will also be a part of this panel.
In addition, following agencies will be working with this panel.
- Union Ministry of Women and Child Development
- Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
- Department of Biotechnology
- Indian Council of Medical Research
Terms of reference of the panel are -
- To define strategies to address the nutritional needs of the general population and vulnerable groups in India
- To review the standards for all suitable food fortifying vehicles
- To suggest healthy dietary intake of fat, sugar and salt for Indians
- To address regulatory and technological issues related to nutrition
- To review proposals from industry using modern risk assessment methods
- To prescribe standard sampling and test methods for effective monitoring, surveillance and enforcement of the relevant regulations
International Aero India 2017 begins in Bengaluru
- The International Aero India 2017 begins at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru on 14 February 2017. The 5-day show will conclude on 18 February 2017.
- Features of International Aero India 2017
- It is the 11th edition of the biennial International Aero India show. It is considered as Asia’s premier air show.
- Aero India 2017 will act as a significant platform to bolster business opportunities in International aviation sector.
- Compared to the previous edition in 2015, the present event is expected to witness an exponential growth due to growing defense related ecosystem in India and the region.
Publications Division, Sasta Sahitya Mandal signed MoU for joint publication of books
- The Publications Division and Sasta Sahitya Mandal (SSM) on 14 February 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi.
- The MoU facilitates joint publication of books on heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, cultural leaders and other eminent personalities who worked towards nation development.
- The MoU is a joint initiative between the Publications Division and the SSM to sensitise the young generation about India’s rich and diverse culture and history.
- The agreement would promote availability of good literature for the people on diverse topics.
- The MoU includes joint publication of a set of 20 books out of which 10 books will be selected through each other’s catalogue.
- In addition, a set of 10 small new books would be finalized on topics such as the freedom struggle, Indian culture, ethics and values for joint publication.
India joins UN’s Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
- India on 14 February 2017 joined the United Nations Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health with an aim to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by half.
- On this occasion, eight other countries, including Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda joined the multilateral initiative along with India.
- About Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
- It is a multinational network for improving quality of care for maternal, newborn and child health.
- The network will bring together officials from ministries of health, health care professionals and bilateral and multilateral development partners.
The network has three goals. They are –
i. Reduce maternal and newborn mortality in health facilities in the target country districts by 50 per cent over five years
ii. Reduce avoidable morbidity due to severe post-partum haemorrhage by 50 per cent
iii. Improve experience of healthcare
India’s first floating elementary school inaugurated on Manipur’s Loktak Lake
- India’s first floating elementary school named Loktak Elementary Floating School was on 13 February 2017 inaugurated at Langolsabi Leikai of Champu Khangpok floating village on Loktak Lake in Manipur.
- This first of its kind school was set up with an aim to provide education to drop outs students as well as illiterate adults.
- It will provide education to around 40 children from Class I-III by engaging two local teachers.
- It was built under the initiative undertaken by All Loktak Lake Fisherman’s Union with the support of an NGO People Resources Development Association (PRDA).
ISRO plans Venus mission, wants to revisit Red planet
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning its maiden mission to Venus and its second one to the Red planet.
- The same is confirmed by the newly allotted budget to the department of space, which shows a 23% increase. The Budget also mentions some provisions under its space sciences section for ‘Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to Venus’.
About the Mars Missions
- The Mars mission is tentatively scheduled for 2021-22.
- The mission will mainly include launching an orbiter and building a Mars rover in collaboration with the French space agency, Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES).
- ISRO may also attempt to put a robot on the Red planet’s surface this time.
Maiden Mission to Venus
- Though not much is known about India’s maiden mission to Venus, it is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission.
- As very little is known about Venus, the mission is definitely expected to be worthwhile.
- India might partner with NASA in this mission.
Awards & Honors:
Adele sweeps top prizes at 2017 Grammy Awards
- The queen of pop, Adele dominated the 59th annual Grammy Awards by picking up all the top awards including Album of the year, Record of the year, Song of the year, Best Pop Solo performance and Best Pop Vocal album.
- The legendary singer similarly took away the album, record and song of the year categories in 2012. However, her victory was even more special this year, as she was up against phenomenal pieces of work including Beyonce’s album 'Lemonade'.
- Adele is the first singer to take all the top three awards twice.
- Adele broke her Grammy for 'Album of the Year' in half stating that it belonged to Beyonce for her monumental album- Lemonade.
- Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ won the award for Best Urban Contemporary album and her song ‘Formation’ won the Best Music video award.
- Another legendary star who swept up key awards was the late singer, David Bowie.
Indian tabla player Sandeep Das wins 2017 Grammy Award for Best Global Music
- Indian tabla player Sandeep Das on 13 February 2017 won the 59th annual Grammy Award for the Best Global Music category. He won the award for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble ‘Sing Me Home’. Yo-Yo Ma’s ‘Sing Me Home’ features tunes composed by different artists at global level.
- The album ‘Sing Me Home’ was released as a part of the documentary on Ma’s project titled ‘The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble’.
- Apart from Sandeep Das and Yo-Yo Ma, there were other musicians as well who contributed to the album including the New York-based Syrian clarinet player Kinan Azmeh.
- Azmeh was recently stranded overseas when US President Donald Trump imposed a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Military Exercise Cobra Gold 2017 begins in Thailand
- The Cobra Gold 2017 commenced on 14 February 2017 in Thailand. Cobra Gold is an annual multilateral military exercise co-sponsored by Thailand and the USA.
- The Cobra Gold 2017 is the 36th edition of the multinational military exercise.
- Around 30 nations will take part in the exercise that will continue till 24 February 2017.
- Cobra Gold includes a staff exercise with a senior leader seminar, a field training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance projects.
- Approximately 3,600 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the USA are involved in these activities.
- The exercise includes an amphibious assault demonstration, noncombatant evacuation operation and combined arms live fire exercise.
- The emphasis of the Cobra Gold 2017 is on coordination of civic actions such as humanitarian assistance.
- The exercise is a part of the USA’s efforts to expand regional cooperation and collaboration in vital areas such as disaster relief.
India joins Moscow meet, despite exclusion in first round
- India along with six other nations participated in a meet held in Moscow on 15 February 2017. The conference was conducted to discuss Afghanistan’s future.
- In a similar conference held two months earlier, Russia had invited only China and Pakistan, a move that was objected by both India and Afghanistan. India especially objected its exclusion from the previous conference on Afghanistan, as it has always believed in a close and constructive cooperation for peace and stability in the region.
- Following it, Moscow agreed to expand its circle and hold a six-nation conference including Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran. The one-day conclave was led by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov. While Gopal Baglay represented India at the meet, Pakistan was represented by Mansoor Ali Khan.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix appointed as new UN peacekeeping Chief
- France’s Jean-Pierre Lacroix has been appointed as the Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations’ Peacekeeping Operations. He has been appointed for the period of one year beginning 1 April 2017.
- The announcement was made by the United Nations' new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2017.
- Besides this, Guterres also announced the extension of the term of three other officials including Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support until 1 April 2018.
Tehmina Janjua appointed as Pakistan's first woman Foreign Secretary to UN
- Tehmina Janjua was on 13 February 2017 appointed as the first woman Foreign Secretary of Pakistan to the United Nations (UN). She will be the Permanent Representative to the UN.
- She will replace the outgoing Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who will now be the Ambassador to the United States (US). Janjua will join the office in the first week of March 2017.
- She is the first woman of Pakistan to hold this key post at the United Nations.
Olympic Champion Bolt wins Laureus 'Sportsman of the Year' award
- Usain Bolt and Simone Biles, the 2016 Rio Olympic champions won top awards of ‘Sportsman of the Year’ and ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2017, held in Monaco.
- Bolt was conferred with the top honour for the fourth time, equalling the record set by tennis legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams and surfer Kelly Slater, who are all four-time Laureus winners. He received his award from one of the world’s greatest sprinters, Michael Johnson.
Indian racer Jehan Daruvala wins New Zealand GP
- Young Indian racer Jehan Daruvala created history by winning the New Zealand Grand Prix 2017 at the Chris Amon Circuit.
- With the win, Jehan became the first and only Indian to win a Grand Prix in motorsport and has joined the elite list of Grand Prix winners including Keke Rosberg, Bruce Mclaren, John Surtees and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Adam Voges retired from international Cricket
- Australian Cricketer Adam Voges on 14 February 2017 announced his retirement from international cricket. Voges, who will lead the Prime Minister’s XI against the visiting Sri Lankans in Canberra, said that this will be his last game against the international team.
- He will continue to play for Middle sex. He had not played a single Test match since November 2016, when he suffered a concussion during Western Australia's Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania.
- The 37-year-old will end his cricket career with the second highest Test average (61.87 from 31 innings) of all time behind Australian great Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman's career average is 99.94 from 52 Tests.