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Important Current Affairs 21th February 2019

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

Joint Statement between India and Namibia during President's visit to Namibia.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for a MoU between India and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

•  MoU contains standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including promotion of exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.

• The MOU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/ capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP). It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration and providing a leg-up to it in conducting elections in their respective countries. This would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

India-OECD pact approved.

• The Union Cabinet approved the agreement between India and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

• It has been done for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

• PISA will be conducted by the OECD in 2021. The agreement was signed on January 28, 2019.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM.

• The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022.

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector.

• While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar program would get Rs 11,814 crore.

NATIONAL:

Union Cabinet Approves Implementation Of New Rural Livelihood Scheme.

• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. on Tuesday approved the implementation of the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP).

• This project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be through loan assistance from the World Bank.

• The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion, access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

Dearness Allowance (DA) For Government Employees, Pensioners Increased By 3%.

• The cabinet on Tuesday announced that it had approved a 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance or DA, a move that will benefit more than one crore central government employees and pensioners from January 1, 2019.

• The decision will cost the exchequer over Rs. 9,000 crore.

• Dearness allowance is a component of salary paid to employees to counter the effect of inflation.

• The 3 per cent increase will take the DA and Dearness Rate (DR) for pensioners to 12 per cent.

PM visits BHU in Varanasi; inaugurates Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Hospital.

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited BHU in Varanasi today. 

• He inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

• Governor of UP Shri Ram Naik, CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Odisha CM Launches KALIA Scholarship for Farmers’ Children.

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today unveiled KALIA Scholarship (KALIA Chhatra Brutti) at the Secretariat here for the children of the KALIA Scheme beneficiaries, who are studying and aspiring for technical and professional education.

• After taking the historic step towards transforming the economic standards of the farmers of Odisha through Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the State Government has come up with KALIA Scholarship in order to ensure human resource development among the farming families across the State.

• KALIA Scheme is first of its kind assistance mechanism for farmers in India and has been followed by others as well for its noble means, ideation and inclusiveness.

OBITUARIES:

Acclaimed Hindi Author Namvar Singh Dies At 92.

• Celebrated Hindi author and literary critic Namvar Singh died in the national capital late on Tuesday night. He was 92.

• Mr. Singh breathed his last at 11.51 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Science's Trauma Centre, family sources said.

• Hindi writer, senior journalist, editor and critic Om Thanvi posted about the author's demise on Facebook and said the cremation ceremony of Namvar Singh would take place at the Lodi crematorium on Wednesday afternoon.

DAY AND EVENT:

World Day of Social Justice 20 February.

• Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

• We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

• For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labor Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

APPOINTMENTS:

Anupama elected Astronomical Society of India president, first.

• Dr.G C Anupama has been elected president of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI), becoming the first woman to head the prime association of professional astronomers in the country.

• She was elected to the post in the ASI Executive Council elections for triennium 2019-22 held last week, according to the Society website.

• Presently the Dean and Senior Professor at the Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Anupama is in the Indian core team which is part of the international team engaged in establishing the thirty meter telescope (TMT) at cost of over USD 1 billion in USA (Hawaii).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

NGO Yuwa won Laureus Sport.

• Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

• The NGO works for the girl empowerment.

• The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls.

EXTRAS:

• A.K. Sharma has been re-appointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.

• Saudi Arabia became the 73rd nation to sign the International Solar Alliance. ISA was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

• Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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President of India Launches ‘100 Million for 100 Million’ Campaign

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee marked his 81st birthday by launching a ‘100 Million for 100 Million’ Campaign organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation at Rashtrapati Bhavan today (December 11, 2016).
●    Speaking on the occasion, the President said that he was delighted to launch the campaign led by Nobel peace prize winner, Shri Kailash Satyarthi, from Rashtrapati Bhavan, an institution which symbolises our Republic’s commitment to democracy, pluralism and secularism.
●    The President said this global effort to mobilize 100 million youth for shaping a better future of 100 million children who are less privileged is the beginning of a change which was long overdue. It is only appropriate that this campaign begins from India, which has one of the largest populations of youth in the world. He expressed hope that the campaign, as it runs for five years, will have a path-breaking impact on the lives of children across the globe. He urged all children and young people from India and abroad to join this campaign and be the torchbearers for a vibrant, compassionate and happy world where every child is free from want, fear and exploitation.
●    The ‘100 Million for 100 Million’ Campaign aims to mobilise 100 million youth and children for 100 million underprivileged children across the world, to end child labour, child slavery, violence against children and promote the right of every child to be safe, free, and educated, over the next 5 years.
●    Earlier in the day, the President inaugurated twin tower apartments for staff of Rashtrapati Bhavan; Navachara-II, a hall for permanent exhibition of grassroots innovations at Rashtrapati Bhavan and a museum of vintage carpets & tapestries of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
 

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'Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat' Scheme Launched

The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated a Digital Exhibition – “Uniting India : Sardar Patel” organized by the Ministry of Culture on the occasion of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas  the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister  of India in National Science Centre, New Delhi today. 
●    He also launched a Web Portal on Sardar Patel and a Souvenir on “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’’ scheme. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed between some States and Union Territories were also exchanged on the occasion.  The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh and the Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma were also present.
●    Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Sardar Patel, for his great contributions to the nation, and said such great individuals can never be forgotten.  He spoke at length about Sardar Patel’s role in integrating the nation, by convincing princely states to join the Union. The Prime Minister gave several illustrations to explain how the “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” initiative can build bonds between the people of various States of India.
●    Shri Rajnath Singh in his address said that Sardar Patel was the architect of modern political India. He united 565 princely State to be part of India. He hailed Sardar Patel as the Chanakya who fulfilled the dream of Chanakya by uniting India. To maintain unity and integrity of our country will be our true tribute to Sardar Patel.
 

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'Yatri Mitra' in Aid of Assistance Seeking Rail Passengers to be Launched

In an initiative to improve the railway travel experience of elderly, differently-abled and ailing passengers, the Ministry of Railways has announced the launch of ‘Yatri Mitra Seva’ to simplify access to wheelchairs, battery operated cars and porter services. The scheme will be operational at all major railway stations.
•    ‘Yatri Mitra’ or ‘Passenger Friend’ can be an assistant or any other person nominated for the purpose. 
•    In a communication sent to all Zonal Railways, the Railway Board said the IRCTC may provide the service ‘free of cost’ through some NGO, charitable trust, PSUs, etc.
•    Once the service is booked, the IRCTC will ensure that the ‘Yatri Mitra’ is made available at the coach when the passenger arrives at the designated railway station.
•    The ‘Yatri Mitra’ would contact the passenger on the mobile number given at the time of booking and confirm the expected time of arrival.
•    In Chennai Central and Egmore railway stations, there are about 30 wheelchairs and five battery operated cars.

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Union Government Launches #Gas4India Campaign to Promote Use Natural Gas in the Country

The Union Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan today launched #Gas4India  campaign, aimed at promoting the use of gas in the country. 
•    Public and private sector companies working in the sector have joined hands to promote the natural gas sector.
•    #Gas4India  is a unified cross-country, multimedia, multi-event campaign to communicate the national, social, economic and ecological benefits of using natural gas as the fuel of choice to every citizen who uses, or will use in the near future, gas in any way- cook, travel, light their homes, and power their business.
•    The campaign includes social engagement via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and its official blogsite, as well as hyper local, offline events to directly connect with consumers through discussions, workshops and cultural events. 
•    Shri Pradhan launched the website, Twitter handle, facebook page and Theme song of the campaign.

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Union Government approves Rs 450 crore for five states under Swadesh Darshan scheme

The Union Government has approved 450 crore rupees for Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. 
•    It was approved by the Union Tourism Ministry for the development of Heritage circuit in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit of Tamil Nadu. 
•    The Heritage Circuit in Uttarakhand: It covers Jageshwar-Devidhura-Katarmal-Baijnath sites with total project cost of approximately 83 crores rupees. 
•    Coastal circuit in Tamil Nadu: It envisages development of Chennai-Mamamallapuram-Rameshwaram-Manpadu-Kanyakumari. 
•    The total project cost is of approximately 100 crores. 
•    Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh: It envisages development of two destinations, Chitrakoot and Shringverpur. 
•    North East circuit in Sikkim: It includes development of cultural centre, paragliding centre and craft bazaar for mountaineering and meditation hall at approximate project cost of 95 crores. 
•    The Heritage Circuit in Madhya Pradesh: It covers developing Tourism Infrastructure Gwalior-Orchha-Khajuraho-Chanderi-Bhimbetka-Mandu. 
•    The total project cost is of approximately 100 crore rupees.

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First Phase of ESICS Pilot Project of Telemedicine Services inaugurated

Shri Bandaru Dattatreya , the Minister of State for Labour and Employment inaugurated the first phase of Tele-medicine services of ESIC here today for providing specialist medical services at a distance to insured workers. 
•    With this Employees State Insurance Corporation’s(ESIC) Model Hospital Basaidarapur has been connected with three ESIS dispensaries at Katihar (Bihar), Unnao (UP) and Rudarpur (Uttrachal). 
•    As the three dispansaries came live on line , the Minister interacted with staff and patients at these centres. 
•    In all, three specialized ESIC Hospitals will be connected with eight ESI Dispensaries at remote locations of the country where there are no specialized ESI healthcare services available. 
•    These include hospital at Rajaji Nagar in Bengaluru to be connected to dispensaries at Korba and Khursipar Bhilai,in Chhattisgarh. 
•    The other hospital Joka in Kolkatta to be connected to dispensaries at Shillong, Agartala and Andaman & Nicobar. 
•    Secretary Labour, OSD Labour, Members, ESI Corporation, Director General, ESIC and other dignitaries’ also graced the occasion.


 

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Odisha Government launches Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana

The Odisha Government on 3 September 2016 launched the Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana (BKRY) in three districts of the state.
•    The scheme was launched for the development of girls.
•    The scheme will be implemented for three years in Ganjam, Dhenkanal and Angul districts on a pilot basis.
•    The objective of the Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana is to improve Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) and Child Sex Ratio (CSR) in the three districts.
•    The BKRY will ensure enrolment of girls in elementary education.
•    It will track dropout girls from schools and create a better environment for them.
•    The scheme will create awareness on gender discrimination against girls, their health, nutrition and education.
•    According to the provision of BKRY, the state government will spend 3.5 crore rupees for the three-year planned scheme, which is expected to be completed by 31 March 2019.

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Mobile access scheme for remote and border areas soon

The USOF, which is maintained by the government, was formed to help fund projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. 
•    The money for this fund comes through a ‘Universal Access Levy,’ charged from the telecom operators as a percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them.
•    Last month, Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak had said that about Rs.10,000 crore will be spent in the current financial year from the USO Fund to execute various digital infrastructure projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. In the last fiscal, about Rs.3,000 crore was spent from the USOF.
•    The official added that another scheme — funded by the USOF — to connect Left wing extremism (LWE)-affected areas in ten identified states in on the “verge of completion.” “Together, these will help take forward the Digital India drive.”
•    As on date, the total available fund in USOF is more than Rs.47,411.56 crore. 
•    The total collection since the scheme was started in 2002-03 stands at about Rs.78,587.31 crore, while total amount disbursed for various initiatives to boost rural connectivity is about Rs.31,175.75 crore, according to government data.
•    The Centre is also in middle of executing the Bharat Net project which aims to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband by 2017.

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Union Government notifies National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme

Government has notified National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. It is for the first time a scheme has been notified to offer financial incentives to employers. The Scheme has an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore with a target of 50 Lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.
Apprenticeship Training is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to develop skilled manpower for the country. 
•    It provides for an industry led, practice oriented, effective and efficient mode of formal training. The National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components for creating skilled manpower in India. The policy proposes to work pro-actively with the industry including MSME to facilitate tenfold increase opportunities in the country by 2020. 
•    25% of the prescribed stipend payable to an apprentice would be reimbursed to the employers directly by the Government of India. The scheme also supports basic training, which is an essential component of apprenticeship training by sharing of basic training cost with basic training providers in respect of apprentices who come directly to apprenticeship without any formal trade training (fresher apprentices). 
•    Online portal for ease of administering. All transactions including registration by employers, apprentices, registration of contract and payment to employers will be made as online mode. Eligible employers shall engage apprentices in a band of 2.5% to 10% of the total strength of the establishment. Employers need to register on the apprenticeship portal and must have TIN/TAN and any one of EPFO/ESIC/LIN. 
•    Brand Ambassadors will be appointed for states and for local industrial clusters to act as facilitators and promoters to promote apprenticeship training.
 

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