Current Affairs Update - 19-22 February, 2017 | Financial, Non-financial, Appointments and more

Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs Update from 19 to 22 February, 2017. These are very important for the upcoming SBI PO Mains and other insurance and bank exams.



Current Affairs at a Glance – 19-22 February, 2017
  1. BharatQR code, the world's first interoperable payment acceptance solution, was launched today as part of efforts to move towards less-cash economy at an "insignificant cost", according to industry members.
  2. In a move towards developing the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in India, IT industry's representative organisation Nasscom on Wednesday signed an MoU with the IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC)-Japan.
  3. Mobile solutions provider Mahindra Comviva on Wednesday launched 'payPLUS Aadhaar Pay' app that simplifies digital payments by using Aadhaar number and linked biometric credentials.
  4. The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with NOVA Integrated Systems Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Advanced Systems Limited to execute Indian Navy’s Surface Surveillance Radar project.
  5. Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), the retirement body of India, on 21 February 2017 introduced single page composite claim form. The form will allow its subscribers to withdraw money from their PF account at an ease.
  6. The Ministry of Defence on 21 February 2017 gave its in-principle approval to set up 38 radar stations to boost surveillance of the country’s 7,517 km long coastline. The project will be executed at a cost of Rs 800 crore by the Bengaluru-based Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
  7. The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) in the third week of February 2017 launched five new products to mark its 75th foundation day. Oriental Batuaa (mobile wallet) was one of the 5 products.
  8. India on 19 February 2017 sanctioned a soft loan of USD 340 million to Nepal. The loan will be used in developing various infrastructure development programmes.
  9. Equipped with cushioned seats, aluminium composite panels, and LED lights, the Antyodaya Express, a new fully unreserved train for the common man with specially designed colourful coaches was unveiled on Wednesday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
  10. The Union Health Ministry on 20 February 2017 launched the SAATHIYA Resource Kit and mobile app named ‘Saathiya Salah’ for adolescents. The kit and the app were launched as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program.
  11. India and Rwanda on 20 February 2017 signed three agreements including innovation and aviation. The agreements were inked in Kigali in the presence of Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi during a business forum meet.
  12. Barren Island, India's only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, recently started spewing smoke and lava again. The announcement was made by researchers at Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).
  13. Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS AYUSH was commissioned on 18 February 2017 in Kochi, Kerala
  14. The leader of Naga People’s Front (NPF), Shurhozelie Liezietsu, was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister of Nagaland on 22 February 2017 at Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
  15. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India, was appointed as the chairman of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on 21 February 2017. He was nominated for the post by the Chief Justice JS Khehar.
  16. The President of United States, Donald Trump appointed Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new National Security Advisor on 20 February 2017.
  17. Tata Sons Chairman-designate Natarajan Chandrasekaran will also hold the chairmanship of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) from 21 February 2017.
  18. India ranked a dismal 143rd in 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, which released in the third week of February 2017.
  19. India on 21 February 2017 defeated South Africa by one run to win the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 at the P. Sara Stadium, Sri Lanka.
  20. Milind Soman, the national level swimmer-turned-model successfully completed a 517.5 km race, an extremely high endurance event called Ultraman on 19 February 2017 in Florida.
  21. A group of scientists have claimed to discover a continent two-thirds the size of Australia “Zealandia” beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean.
  22. The South Asian Speakers’ Summit 2017 concluded on 20 February 2017 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
  23. The World Day of Social Justice was observed globally on 20 February 2017 with the theme "preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work”.
  24. Rajkummar Rao and Anjali Patil starrer Political satire “Newton on 19 February 2017 won the International Federation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) award in its Forum segment. The film had its world premiere at the 67th Berlin Film Festival.




Financial and Banking News:

BharatQR code, the world's first interoperable payment acceptance solution launched to push less-cash economy


  • BharatQR code, the world's first interoperable payment acceptance solution, was launched today as part of efforts to move towards less-cash economy at an "insignificant cost", according to industry members.
  • Over the past few months, the government has been aggressively pushing for higher usage of digital payment mechanisms, including launching BHIM app and increasing penetration of PoS machines.
  • Developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Mastercard, and Visa, BharatQR code would require merchants to only display one QR code instead of multiple ones.
  • Devised on the direction set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September last year, it will make payments seamless for buyers as they just have to "scan to pay" for transactions instead of swiping their credit/debit cards.
  • QR code or Quick Response code is a two-dimensional machine-readable code made up of black and white squares and are used for storing URLs or other information. These can be read by the camera of a smartphone.
  • Mastercard Country Corporate Officer (India) and Division President (South Asia) Porush Singh said the company has developed 'Masterpass QR', which was developed and created at its technology centre in Vadodara.
  • A number of leading banks are already operationally ready to deploy BharatQR, including SBI, Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Citi Union Bank, Development Credit Bank, Karur Vysya Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, RBL Bank, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Yes Bank.
  • Many other banks are at various stages of implementation.
  • Mobile wallet companies like Paytm have already been working with QR codes for some time.
  • The Alibaba-backed firm has said it plans to invest Rs 600 crore in the next 10 months to further enhance its QR code-based payments solution.


Nasscom collaborates with ITAC Japan to empower the Indian IoT ecosystem


  • In a move towards developing the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in India, IT industry's representative organisation Nasscom on Wednesday signed an MoU with the IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC)-Japan.
  • Under the MoU, Nasscom and ITAC-Japan will collaborate to address digital technology shifts and accelerate IoT adoption at a global level across the industry.
  • Both Nasscom and ITAC-Japan will share information on the ecosystem, new practices and technological developments.
  • The IoT market in India is expected to reach $15 billion by 2020 accounting for nearly five per cent of the total global market and the worldwide IoT market is poised to be a $328 billion market by 2020.


Mahindra Comviva launches 'payPLUS Aadhaar Pay' for rural India

  • Mobile solutions provider Mahindra Comviva on Wednesday launched 'payPLUS Aadhaar Pay' app that simplifies digital payments by using Aadhaar number and linked biometric credentials.
  • 'payPLUS Aadhaar Pay' provides a merchant acceptance solution designed for rural India, taking into account the specific challenges faced by consumers and merchants in such demographic segments, the company said in a statement.
  • "The success of the 'digital India' initiative would depend on the right ecosystem enablers being in place. payPLUS Aadhaar Pay has the potential to take the digital payments initiative to every village in India," said Srinivas Nidugondi, Senior Vice President and Head, Mobile Financial Solutions, Mahindra Comviva.
  • The app requires a biometric device to be linked to merchant's mobile phone for payment authentication.
  • The app leverages IndiaStack application programming interfaces (API) to allow paperless merchant on-boarding with Aadhaar.



Tata Advanced arm wins Navy's Surface Surveillance Radar project

  • The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with NOVA Integrated Systems Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Advanced Systems Limited to execute Indian Navy’s Surface Surveillance Radar project.
  • The SSR programme is the first procurement by MoD under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure.
  • The project involves delivery, installation and commissioning of the Radar Systems on Indian Navy vessels, as well as delivery of simulators, establishing depot level facilities, and integrated logistics support with deliveries spread over 10 years. The proposed radar is based on the latest solid state technology and also suited for coastal surveillance applications.


CCEA approved SJVN’s investment proposal in Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved an investment proposal of the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN) in Nepal’s Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project (HEP).
  • The approval was given by the CCEA at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 February 2017 in New Delhi.
  • The SVJN, a central public sector undertaking, will invest Rs 5723.72 crore in the 900 MW Arun-3 HEP.
  • Completion period of the project shall be 60 months from the date of financial closure of the project.
  • Ex-post facto approval was given for incorporation of the SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Company (P) Limited (SAPDC).
  • The SAPDC is the implementing agency of the Arun-3 HEP. It was already incorporated in Nepal as a 100 per cent subsidiary of the SJVN.


Revised Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects approved

  • The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved revised norms for the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.
  • The approval was given by the CCEA at its meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 February 2017 in New Delhi.
  • The production target under the scheme was enhanced to 40,000 MW from the present 20,000 MW.
  • The capacity of the solar park scheme has been enhanced after considering the demand for additional solar parks from the States.
  • The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country.
  • Smaller parks in the Himalayan and other hilly States, where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered under the scheme.


EPFO introduces single page composite claim form for withdrawing money


  • Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), the retirement body of India, on 21 February 2017 introduced single page composite claim form. The form will allow its subscribers to withdraw money from their PF account at an ease.
  • Earlier, employees/subscribers were supposed to fill and submit three different forms to EPFO for withdrawing provident fund for different purposes.
  • The form does not require employers’ attestation, but the facility will be applicable only for those subscribers whose Aadhaar number and bank account details are seeded with their Universal Account Number (UAN).
  • Subscribers who want to seed Aadhaar and bank details with their Universal Account Number will have to fill a new composite claim form, which replaces the existing Forms 19, 10C and 31 for filing claims. The new single-page form can be submitted with the attestation of employers.


Union Government clears Coastal Surveillance Project

  • The Ministry of Defence on 21 February 2017 gave its in-principle approval to set up 38 radar stations to boost surveillance of the country’s 7,517 km long coastline.
  • The approval for the project was given at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by the Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi.
  • The project will be executed at a cost of Rs 800 crore by the Bengaluru-based Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
  • Apart from the 38 static radar stations, 4 mobile surveillance stations will also be set up under the project.
  • These surveillance stations will be integrated with the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) in the Gulf of Kutch and Khambatt.
  • These stations are in addition to 46 radar stations, which have already been set up under the Phase I of the Static Sensor Chain Project. The project seeks to set up gap-less electronic surveillance along India’s coastline.


Oriental Bank of Commerce launched five new products to mark 75th Foundation Day


  • The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) in the third week of February 2017 launched five new products to mark its 75th foundation day.

The newly launched products are –
    • i. Oriental Batuaa (mobile wallet)
    • ii. Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants
    • iii. Oriental Sanjeevani
    • iv. Oriental Prepaid Card
    • v. Oriental Premium Card.
  • While the Oriental Prepaid Card is a RuPay card for individuals as well as the corporate, the Oriental Premium card is a RuPay based platinum international debit card with airport lounge access.
  • While Oriental Budget Hotels and Restaurants helps individuals, proprietors, companies in setting up new hotels, restaurants, lodges and motels, Oriental Sanjeevani is a specialised scheme for doctors for setting up new hospitals and clinics.


India sanctioned USD 340 million to Nepal for development programmes


  • India on 19 February 2017 sanctioned a soft loan of USD 340 million to Nepal. The loan will be used in developing various infrastructure development programmes.
  • Ranjit Rae, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, handed over the approval papers to Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister of Nepal Ramesh Lekhak. The documents were handed to Lekhak in presence of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
  • Suresh Prabhu was in Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017. While delivering the keynote address at the summit, Prabhu said Infrastructure is a pre-requisite for development.
  • Under this programme, Mahalaki bridge and 15 roads will be constructed in various parts of Nepal.
  • On the occasion of this handing over ceremony, Suresh Prabhu expressed India’s commitment to strengthen infrastructure in Nepal. He said that it is just a beginning and lots more will come in power, railway and other sectors. He said we want that Nepal houses a world class infrastructure so that members of Indian Parliament can say why India can’t also do like Nepal.


Tripartite MoU to help Scheduled Caste artisans signed


  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 20 February 2017 to help scheduled caste (SC) artisans in New Delhi.
  • The MoU signed among the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles.
  • The MoU was signed in the presence of the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot and the Union Minister of Textiles Zubin Irani.
  • Senior officers of both the ministries, DC (Handicrafts) and NSFDC were also present on the occasion.



Non-financial News Related India and states:

Suresh Prabhu unveils Antyodaya rail coaches for common man


  • Equipped with cushioned seats, aluminium composite panels, and LED lights, the Antyodaya Express, a new fully unreserved train for the common man with specially designed colourful coaches was unveiled on Wednesday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
  • Ready to be pressed into service on busy routes, the first Antyodaya Express will be launched between Mumbai and Tatanagar, and the second will be between Ernakulam and Howrah shortly.
  • "Antyodaya was meant for Aam Aadmi (common man). The facilities provided in Antyodaya coaches are similar in first class. Our government's focus is on Aam Aadmi so we launched the product with many facilities for them," he said.
  • Asked about the fare structure for Antyodaya Express, Prabhu said "It will be decided shortly."
  • However, it is reliably learnt that the fare of the new unreserved train is likely to be higher than the Mail/Express fares.
  • The Antyodaya fare structure will be between 10 per cent to 15 per cent more than the regular fare, sources said.
  • Railways have maintained that manufacturing cost of these coaches with modern facilities is high, so there have to be special fares for these services which will be higher than that of regular trains.
  • Provided with bio-toilets for zero discharge of effluents, Antyodaya coaches will have toilet occupation indication lights provided at each end near the doorway with better visibility from compartments, a first in general class.


India and China hold first strategic dialogue in Beijing

  • India and China on 22 February 2017 held their first upgraded strategy dialogue in Beijing to sustain their bilateral ties.
  • The talk happened amidst rising tensions between the two countries over Beijing’s reluctance to support India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and blocking UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar.
  • The dialogue was opened by the remarks of the Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who said that the relations between the two countries have really acquired a steady momentum over the years.
  • He further said that not only have both the countries been engaging in leadership level meetings regularly but their economic engagement is also growing steadily. He also acknowledged how the border areas of both the countries have managed to maintain peace and tranquillity
  • Referring to the differences shared by both the countries, Jaishankar said there are natural issues which neighbours have and it is the responsibility of both the countries to address them.


Health Secretary launched ‘SAATHIYA’ Resource Kit and ‘SAATHIYA SALAH’ Mobile App for Adolescents


  • The Union Health Ministry on 20 February 2017 launched the SAATHIYA Resource Kit and mobile app named ‘Saathiya Salah’ for adolescents. The kit and the app were launched as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program.
  • The key intervention of the programme is an introduction of Saathiyas (the Peer Educators), who will act as a catalyst for generating demand for the adolescent health services. The kit and app will also impart age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups. 
  • The Resource Kit comprises of
    • i) Activity Book
    • ii) Bhranti-Kranti Game
    • iii) Question-Answer Book
    • iv) Peer Educator Diary
Mobile app ‘Saathiya Salah’
  • The app ‘Saathiya Salah’ is downloadable from the Google play store.
  • It will act as a ready information source for adolescents when they will not be able to interact with the peer educators.
  • Besides, the mobile app is also linked to a cost-effective information platform of a toll-free Saathiya Helpline (1800-233-1250). This helpline will act as an e-counselor for the caller.


India, Rwanda signed MoUs in innovation aviation and visa requirements


  • India and Rwanda on 20 February 2017 signed three agreements including innovation and aviation. The agreements were inked in Kigali in the presence of Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi during a business forum meet.
  • Vice President Ansari was in Rwanda on the first leg of his 2-nation visit to East Africa. He was in Rwanda from 19 February to 21 February 2017.
  • The three agreements signed between the two nations, that is, India and Rwanda includes
  • Establishment of a bilateral air service agreement between the two nations.
  • An agreement for exemption of visa requirements for diplomatic and service passports.
  • Establishment of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Rwanda duly financed by Union Government.


ISRO successfully tests its Cryogenic Stage for GSLV MkIII for the Flight Duration


  • Within two days of creating a history of launching 104 satellites in a single mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 17 February 2017 successfully tested its indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) for GSLV MkIII rocket.
  • The cryogenic upper stage, designated as C25, was tested at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. It was tested for flight duration of 640 seconds. To validate all the systems, the C25 Stage was also successfully tested for 50 seconds on 25 January 2017.
  • The C25 stage is the most powerful upper stage developed by ISRO.
  • The Test and its process
  • As per ISRO, the Cryogenic Stage developments tests were carried in two phases and they are
  • 1st stage - the stage was subjected to fluid mock-up, wherein the stage preparation and servicing at the launch complex in SDSC, the SHAR, Sriharikota was completed to prove all the ground facilities established for servicing the cryogenic stage.
  • 2nd stage- the first stage was followed by testing of the Stage at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri.


Barren Island, India’s only live volcano, active again

  • Barren Island, India's only live volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, recently started spewing smoke and lava again. The announcement was made by researchers at Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).
  • The volcano is erupting in small episodes of five to 10 minutes. The researchers observed only ash clouds during the day. However after sundown, red lava foundations spew from the crater into the atmosphere.
  • Researchers from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and NIO have sampled sediments and water in the vicinity and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material representing proximal volcanic ejecta. With the help of these samples, researchers can decipher the nature of present and past volcanic activity in the region.


Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS AYUSH commissioned in Kochi

  • Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS AYUSH was commissioned on 18 February 2017 in Kochi, Kerala. The ship was commissioned by Vice Admiral AR Karwe, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command.
  • The fast patrol vessel (FPV) is fitted with state-of- the-art navigational and communication equipment including Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Machinery Control System (MCS).
  • The ship is capable of undertaking multifarious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation.
  • Post commissioning, the ship will be based at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.


INSV Tarini inducted into Indian Navy

  • The Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat Tarini was inducted on 18 February 2017 at a ceremony held at the INS Mandovi Boat Pool. 
  • INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.
  • Tarini is slated to be the platform for First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe expedition of the Indian Navy.


Appointments:

Abhijit Sarkar appointed Vice Chairman of Asian Hockey Federation

  • The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) on 21 February 2017 confirmed the appointment of Abhijit Sarkar as its new Vice Chairman.
  • Sarkar was also appointed the Chairman of the AHF Commercial and TV Committee with immediate effect.
  • The decision to appoint Sarkar was taken after an Executive Board Meeting held on 7 February 2017.
  • Sarkar has been associated with the Sahara India Pariwar since 2004. He has also served as the Head of Corporate Communications, Corporate Affairs and Relations, and the Sports Division at Sahara India Pariwar.


Shurhozelie Liezitsu sworn in as new CM of Nagaland


  • The leader of Naga People’s Front (NPF), Shurhozelie Liezietsu, was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister of Nagaland on 22 February 2017 at Raj Bhavan, Kohima.
  • The 81-year-old is the oldest to take oath as the Chief Minister of the state. He has been a member of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) eight times. However, since he did not contest the 2013 election, he is not a sitting member of NLA and will have to get elected within six months of taking office.
  • He was invited by the Governor of the state, P B Acharya to form the new government on 20 February after a vote that saw him emerge as the unanimous choice for the post. He had earlier met the Governor to stake his claim for the position.


Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre appointed chairman of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal


  • Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India, was appointed as the chairman of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on 21 February 2017. He was nominated for the post by the Chief Justice JS Khehar.
  • The post was vacant since Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan resigned from the post. Justice Chauhan, who retired from the apex court in July 2014, was heading the Cauvery Water Disputes tribunal as its Chairperson.
  • In addition to this, Justice Sapre’s appointment as Chairman of the tribunal turns up to be a significant one as the Supreme Court will start hearing the Cauvery case on a regular basis from 21 March 2017.


US President names Lt Gen HR McMaster as new National Security Advisor


  • The President of United States, Donald Trump appointed Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new National Security Advisor on 20 February 2017.
  • The announcement was made by Trump himself at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida. He described McMaster as a man of tremendous talent and experience, who is highly respected by those in the military and added that the US government is honoured to have him in its service.
  • McMaster will be succeeding Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign on 13 February after reports emerged about him misleading the US Vice President Mike Pence about the discussions he had held with the Russian ambassador to US about US sanctions on Moscow before the presidential transition. Since the national security adviser is an independent aide to the president, McMaster’s appointment does not require confirmation by the US Senate.


Tata Sons Chairman-designate N Chandrasekaran to act as TCS Chairman too    

  • Tata Sons Chairman-designate Natarajan Chandrasekaran will also hold the chairmanship of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) from 21 February 2017.
  • Chandrasekaran, who is currently serving as the Chief Executive and Managing Director of TCS, will now take charge as the Non-Executive Chairman of the board of directors of TCS.
  • In addition, V Ramakrishnan is named as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the TCS. He will succeed Rajesh Gopinathan, who will take over as the CEO and MD of the Tata Group company.
  • TCS also announced that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) N Ganapathy Subramaniam will be on the board of the company as Executive Director.


Indexes & Lists:

India ranks 143rd in 2017 Index of Economic Freedom

  • India ranked a dismal 143rd in 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, which released in the third week of February 2017.
  • The index was released by a top US based Think Tank, The Heritage Foundation. The Think Tank in its Index of Economic Freedom report stated that despite India sustaining an average annual growth of about 7% over the last five years, growth is not deeply rooted in policies that preserve economic freedom.
  • In its 23rd edition, the Index analyzed economic policy developments in 186 countries. Countries are graded and ranked on 12 measures of economic freedom that evaluate the rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and the openness of markets.


Sports News:

India defeats South Africa to win ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017


  • India on 21 February 2017 defeated South Africa by one run to win the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 at the P. Sara Stadium, Sri Lanka.
  • Set to chase 245, India had all but lost its way after a flurry of wickets. However, stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur kept her cool to score the nine runs required off the last over from pace bowler Marcia Letsoala.
  • South Africa’s Sune Luus is named as the Player of the Series, while India’s Deepti Sharma is the Player of the Match.


Milind Soman completes 517.5-km-long Ultraman race barefoot


  • Milind Soman, the national level swimmer-turned-model successfully completed a 517.5 km race, an extremely high endurance event called Ultraman on 19 February 2017 in Florida.
  • The race that was divided into three days included swimming, cycling and running. The 51-year-old completed the whole event barefoot, gaining the title Ultraman.
  • The first part of the event that began on 17 February opened with a 10 km swim followed by 147.2 km bike ride, which Soman sailed through smoothly.
  • The day two involved a timed 171 km bike ride that Soman completed with just 5 seconds to spare.


CM Manohar Lal conferred Haryana’s highest sports award to 42 sportspersons


  • The Haryana government on 19 February 2017 conferred the Bhim awards to 42 sportspersons of the state, recognising them for their outstanding performance at the national and international level between the years 2013 and 2017.
  • The awards were given by the state’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki at a function held at Haryana Raj Bhawan.
  • The state’s highest sports award carries a cash prize of 5 lakh, an idol of Bhim, a blazer, a scroll of honour and a scarf or a tie.
  • In total, the cash conferred to Bhim awardees during the function amounted to about 2.10 Cr.
  • The awards acknowledged the exceptional performance of 42 sportspersons at both national and international level during the years, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga wins 2017 Rotterdam Open

  • France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on 19 February 2017 defeated David Goffin 4-6 6-4 6-1 to win the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament final in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • With the title came an end to Tsonga’s two-year title drought. He had last won a title in the year 2015.


World News:

Scientists discover drowned Pacific Ocean continent Zealandia


  • A group of scientists have claimed to discover a continent two-thirds the size of Australia beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean.
  • The discovery was recently reported in a paper titled Zealandia: Earth's Hidden Continent in the journal of the Geological Society of America.
  • This newly proposed continent is about 1.74 million square miles in size and 94 percent submerged. However, the continent protrudes above the ocean surface in the form of New Zealand and New Caledonia.
  • Zealandia, also known as Tasmantis, is a nearly submerged continental fragment that sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago.
  • The continent had separated from Antarctica between 85 and 130 million years ago.
  • It may have been completely submerged about 23 million years ago, and 93 per cent of it remains submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. However, it is still unknown how strongly Bollons Seamount remains connected to the continent.


South Asian Speakers’ Summit 2017 concluded in Indore


  • The South Asian Speakers’ Summit 2017 concluded on 20 February 2017 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The summit was organised for three days by the Parliament of India in association with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
  • The summit was held as a follow up to the conclusions of the South Asian Speakers’ Summit. The summit was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2016.
  • The focus of the summit was to evolve appropriate strategies to achieve goals set by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA) of the United Nations.
  • The summit deliberated on opportunities and challenges that parliaments in South Asia face in making their contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Days:

World Day of Social Justice observed with theme preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work

  • The World Day of Social Justice was observed globally on 20 February 2017 with the theme "preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work”. The day is observed with an aim to recognise the need to promote efforts to tackle several issues like exclusion, unemployment and poverty.
  • On the occasion, several organisations including the United Nations and the International Labour Office make statements on importance of social justice for people. According to United Nations, social justice is an underlying principle for prosperous and peaceful coexistence within and among nations. Social justice means removal of barriers that people face in the name of gender, ethnicity, age, religion, disability and culture.
  • United Nations General Assembly created the day in 2007 in accordance with the goals and objectives of the World Summit for Social Development and the 24th session of the General Assembly. It was created to devote a day, i.e. 20 February, as a day to promote national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit.


Awards & Honors:

Rajkummar Rao's 'Newton' wins Art Cinema honour at Berlinale


  • Rajkummar Rao and Anjali Patil starrer Political satire “Newton” on 19 February 2017 won the International Federation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) award in its Forum segment. The film had its world premiere at the 67th Berlin Film Festival.
  • Newton was chosen for the award from the total 43 films which were screened in the segment at the festival. On behalf of the director, the award was received by curator Meenakshi Shedde.
  • Directed by Amit Masurkar, the film received a standing ovation at the festival, with a long and engaging Q and A post the screening.
  • The film Newton was labelled as a wonderful and exceptional film by the jury, consisting of Spanish film composer Pedro Barbadillo, French producer Rainer Wothe and the Croatian director and Pula Film Festival producer Tanja Milicic.


Books & Authors:

Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl authored by Ram Kamal Mukherjee


  • The HarperCollins Publishers India in the second week of February 2017 announced that the biography of Hema Malini, titled Hema Malini: Beyond the Dream Girl, will hit bookstores in October 2017.
  • The book will be released on the 69th birthday of the dream girl.
  • The authorised biography is penned by Ram Kamal Mukherjee, a senior journalist and author.
  • The book discusses Hema Malini’s life and achievement, since she has been extremely active as a stage performer, actor and a politician.


Obituaries:

Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir dies


  • Altamas Kabir, former Chief Justice of India (CJI), passed away on 19 February 2017 after prolonged illness in Kolkata, West Bengal. He was 68.
  • Kabir served as the 39th Chief Justice of India from September 2012 to July 2013.






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