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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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Important Current Affairs 19th February 2019

AWARDS AND HONORS:

President Kovind presents Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony.

• President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said each region in the country has a distinct cultural identity but this does not divide but unites and harmonizes all of India.

• President made the statement after presenting the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony here on Monday. He remarked that the award is a celebration of Indian tradition of culture.

• Remembering Rabindranath Tagore, President Kovind said, "Gurudev was a remarkable genius, who became the first Indian Nobel laureate. Gurudev Tagore is remembered every day as a poet who gave India its national anthem. He belongs to the entire world as he was a nationalist as well as an internationalist."

Sudanese refugee wins major human rights award.

• Sudanese refugee, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, who spent 5 years in the Australian detention center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, was given the Martin Ennals Award 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, for exposing “the very cruel asylum seeker policy of the Australian Government”.

• It is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize for human rights”. Abdul Aziz Muhamat’s podcast “The Messenger”, created from more than 4,000 WhatsApp messages Muhamat sent from the detention center, had won best radio/audio feature at Australia’s Walkley Awards in 2017.

Sunil Chhetri receives 'Football Ratna' award.

•Talismanic Indian striker Sunil Chhetri was awarded the first-ever ‘Football Ratna’ by Football Delhi, the State Association governing the sport in Delhi. Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, President, Delhi Football presented the honor a function at the majestic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

• Chhetri, who was recently named as the 6th Indian Footballer in the elite Padma Shri list, said: “I am honored by the kind gesture of Football Delhi for recognizing me with the Football Ratna award.”

•“My support will always be there for the development of football in Delhi. I am sure the current management is working hard to develop football, and make Delhi a model football state in India. My best wishes to everyone associated with the sport in Delhi,” he added.

NATIONAL:

Infosys launches InfyTQ app for engineering students.

• Infosys has announced the launch of a digital platform offering learning and engagement experiences for engineering students.

•“InfyTQ is a free platform open to all engineering students in their third and fourth year. The platform encourages holistic development by imparting technical as well as professional skills and helps them become industry ready,” said a statement from Infosys.

• InfyTQ will be available on both mobile and desktop and is equipped with a plethora of content, courses and news to establish talent readiness at an industry level through online assessments and certification.

During his Jharkhand visit, PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate several development projects.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for hospitals in Hazaribagh, Dumka and Palamau in Jharkhand on Sunday and inaugurate a host of development schemes during his visit to the state, an official statement said.

• The prime minister will lay the foundation stone online for four 500-bedded hospitals in Hazaribagh, Dumka, Palamau and Jamshedpur.

• This apart, he will lay foundation stone for Hazaribagh urban line water supply scheme and rural drinking water supply - four schemes for Hazaribagh and two for Ramgarh.

Banned Punjabi Poem On Jallianwala Massacre To Be Published In English After 99 Years.

• A poem on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by acclaimed Punjabi writer Nanak Singh, which was banned by the British after its publication in 1920, has now been translated into English.

• Singh was present at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919. He was 22 years old at the time.

• The name of the poem is ‘Khooni Vaisakhi'

SPORTS:

Vidarbha won Irani Cup.

• Vidarbha defended its Irani Cup title on 16 Feb 2019 at the Jamtha Stadium in Nagpur.

• The Irani Cup tournament was conceived during the 1959-60 season to mark the completion of 25 years of the Ranji Trophy championship.

National Championship: Saina Nehwal beats PV Sindhu to clinch second successive title.

• Saina Nehwal defeated PV Sindhu for the second year running as she claimed the senior national title in women's singles once again with a 21-18, 21-15 win in Guwahati on Saturday.

• Saina had defeated Sindhu in the final in the previous edition of the nationals in November 2017 and the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist was at it again.

Qatar Open: Elise Mertens beats Simona Halep to win her biggest tour title.

• Elise Mertens has claimed the biggest title of her career by beating top seed Simona Halep to win the Qatar Open.

• Mertens, 23, recovered from a set and a break down - losing 18 points in a row at one stage in the second set - to beat the world number three 3-6 6-4 6-3.

• World number 21 Mertens also overcame a lengthy medical time-out for a back issue in the first set.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS:

JP Morgan: first to create crypto currency.

• US investment bank, JP Morgan Chase became the first US bank to offer its own crypto currency.

• The crypto currency, called 'JPM Coin' will always have a value equivalent to one US dollar.

• It will be initially used internally between JPMorgan Chase's wholesale business clients.

RBI lifts cap on FPI investments.

• The Reserve Bank of India withdrew the 20% limit on investments by FPIs in corporate bonds of an entity

• It was stipulated in April 2018 that no FPI should have an exposure of more than 20% of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate.

•This has been done with a view to encourage more foreign investments.

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Important Current Affairs 18th February 2019

NATIONAL

National Banana Festival 2018 to be held in Kerala from 17 to 21 Feb.

•Thiruvananthapuram is going to host National Banana Festival 2018 on February 17. It will be a five-day event to be held at Vellayani Dei Temple grounds at Kalliyoor. This festival will be inaugurated by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

•The main draw of this fest will be the 100 varieties of banana, which will be on display. Around 200 stalls will be set up to showcase these banana varieties. And mainly for this fest, all varieties of banana have been sourced from Kerala and various parts of India. Also, special value-added items for consumption, especially prepared from this fruit, will be there in this exhibition.

•Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will be inaugurating this exhibition in National Banana Festival 2018 in Kerala, whereas MP Suresh Gopi will be presiding over the inaugural function.

Kerala Govt to geotag 10 lakh livestock farmer houses.

•Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (PTI) the Kerala government is gearing up to geotag the houses and farms of over 10 lakh livestock and poultry farmers in the state as part of its massive digitisation drive.

•The objective is to compile a comprehensive digital repository of the information of animal husbandry and dairying in the state and integrate the data using the Geographical Information System (GIS), official sources said. The state Animal Husbandry Department has a database of over eight lakh farmers and houses and farms of over 60,000 of them have already been geotagged under the ambitious initiative.

•It also plans to make the functioning of the Department paperless in the next 6-7 months as part of the digitisation drive, for which 23 mobile applications will be developed, official sources said. Besides the data of the houses and farms, the status of domestic animals and birds, the information of veterinary hospitals and related offices would also be linked through the GIS technology.

Iran President Lands in Delhi.

• Iran President Hassan Rouhani has entered the second day of his three day visit to India.

• Mr. Rouhani reached Hyderabad yesterday and is set to visit a number of tourist landmarks, including Hyderabad's Qutub Shahi tombs, the Salar Jung Museum, Golconda Fort as well as Mecca Masjid.

• He is also set to address a Muslim congregation at the Mecca Masjid, after he performs his Friday prayers. This is Mr. Rouhani's second visit to Hyderabad and his first after he assumed charge as Iran's president.

Assam govt to set up 3 Terminal Mart for agricultural products.

• Assam State Government will be setting up 3 Terminal Mart for agricultural products in the state in order to give a boost to agricultural market in the state.

• Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board is working towards setting up such marts at Silchar, Jorhat and Guwahati.

• Chairman of State Agricultural Marketing Board, Palit Kumar Bora has stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to develop Asia’s largest banana market at Darangiri in Goalpara district of Assam.

• Besides, 6 new Krishi Vigyan Kendras are being set up in Assam to help the farmers in various agro-based sectors

PM Modi lays foundation stone of Navi Mumbai airport, phase I to be ready in 4 years.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the long overdue airport project at Navi Mumbai on Sunday. PM Modi said, "Issue of Navi Mumbai airport has been pending for years. And, this is not the only project that is pending.

• Estimated cost for constructing this airport is Rs 16700 crore. It will have two parallel runways unlike Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which has only one runway.

Fiji signs Declaration of Partnership with TERI.

• Island nation Fiji today signed a declaration of partnership with India's The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for assistance in tackling climate change effects and achieving environmental sustainability.

• The declaration was made on sidelines of the ongoing World Sustainable Development Conference (WSDS 2018) here.

• It was signed by Joshua Wycliff, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Environment of Fiji and Ajay Mathur, the Director General of TERI.

INTERNATIONAL:

Amazon overtakes Microsoft as the 3RD most valuable company in the world.

•Tech giant Amazon has overtaken Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable listed company. The online giant was valued at $810 billion as compared to Microsoft at $789 billion.

• It is the first time Amazon - founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 - has gained the top position in the listed market. The change happened on Monday as shares of the online retail giant rose by 3 percent, increasing its market value to $797 billion.

• Microsoft’s stock to rose but only by 2%, leaving the value at $789 billion by the end of the trade.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION:

Shoaib Akhtar named Pakistan Cricket Board's brand ambassador.

• Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has been appointed as the advisor to the chairman on cricket affairs and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) brand ambassador.

• Akhtar announced on Twitter that he “was honoured to be chosen by the PCB” and expressed confidence of taking Pakistan cricket to greater heights.

Former JNU Prof Vinod Kumar Jain appointed Tezpur university VC.

• Former Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vinod Kumar Jain has been appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of Tezpur University.

• Jain has been appointed by the President of India, in his capacity as the Visitor of the Tezpur University, according to an official release issued by the University on Friday.

• He will serve as the vice-chancellor for a period of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

TCS Recognized as One of the Top Three Employers.

• Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest IT services company, is recognized as one of world's best employers by the Top Employer Institute for the third year running.

• The Top Employer Institute, Amsterdam-based global certification company in employee conditions, selected TCS for its exceptional employee offerings from a pool of more than 1,300 companies in 113 countries.

SPORTS:

Thompson trumps Bhambri to win Chennai Open Challenger.

• Saturday's Chennai Open Challenger final had all the ingredients of a nerve-wracking title clash; the top two seeds in action, multiple breakpoints, a missed match point opportunity and hard-hitting end to end action.

• A closely-contested tie, top-seed Jordan Thompson roared past Yuki Bhambri 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in three gruelling sets to lift the Chennai Open Challenger trophy, his career's fifth Challenger title.

• Bhambri had a chance to get his hands on the winner's cheque but it was Thompson who proved to be the better player on the evening, albeit by a thin margin.

OBITUARIES:

Ex-Mathura MLA Ram Swarup Sharma passes away.

• Mathura (UP), Feb 17 (PTI) Former MLA and Padma Shri awardee Ram Swarup Sharma passed here this evening following brief illness, his family sources said.

• Sharma represented the Mathura-Vrindavan constituency twice in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

• He was also a popular exponent of the Rasa Lila, a popular form of folk theatre in the regions of Mathura and Vrindavan devoted to lord Krishna.

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Important Current Affairs 16th February 2019

Committees:

Rajasthan forms committees to review textbooks.

• The Rajasthan government has set up two committees of experts and educationists to review the syllabus of school textbooks from class 1 to 8 and from class 9 to 12.

• The committee to review the syllabus of class 1 to 8 will be coordinated by I V Trivedi.

• The coordinator for the four-member committee for class 9-12 is the former Chairman of Rajasthan State Public Service Commission BM Sharma.

Defense:

IAF gets its first woman flight engineer.

• Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal became the first woman flight engineer.

• She was commissioned in January 2015 to the IAF's engineering branch

• She created history when she was chosen as the first woman candidate to pursue the elite course.

• A flight engineer is a member of an aircraft’s flight crew and requires special skills for constantly monitoring and operating its complex systems.

Vice Admiral SN Ghormade: Takes over as COS.

• He was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal on 26 Jan 2017 and Nau Sena Medal in 2007 by the President of India.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY:

RBI imposed penalty on 3 PSU banks.

• The monetary penalty was imposed for non-compliance on monitoring of end-use of funds and on the restructuring of accounts.

• A penalty of Rs 1.5 crore was imposed on Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) and Rs 1 crore each on Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Bank of India.

INTERNATIONAL:

India withdraws MFN status from Pakistan.

• India has withdrawn the MFN (Most Favored Nation) status that it had granted to Pakistan.

• It followed the attack in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulwama that left 37 CRPF personnel dead.

• The decision was taken during the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting held in New Delhi.

• India had granted the status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after WTO’s formation.

PM Modi on 2-day visit to South Korea.

• PM Narendra Modi will pay a 2-day visit to South Korea from February 21 2019.

• He will be conferred with the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on February 22, in recognition of his national and international contributions.

• He will also hold talks with President Moon Jae-in on a host of issues to strengthen strategic ties.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

App launched PMAY (U).

• Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs launched the PMAY (U) Mobile App on 14 Feb 2019.

• The app will allow beneficiaries to capture and upload high-resolution photographs of completed houses along with their families.

• The PMAY (U) mission was launched on 25th June 2015 with an aim to provide houses to every eligible urban household in India by the year 2022.

PM-SYM scheme implemented.

• Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM).

• Scheme was implemented by the Ministry of Labor and Employment on 15 Feb 2019.

• The features of the scheme are family pension and minimum assured pension.

• The unorganized workers whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme.

• Each subscriber under the PM-SYM shall receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years.

• During the receipt of pension, if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension. Family pension is applicable only to spouse.

POLITY:

16th Lok Sabha session concluded.

• The last session of 16th Lok Sabha concluded on 14 Feb 2019

• There were a total number of 331 sittings for Lok Sabha. 205 bills were passed and the productivity was 85%.

• For Rajya Sabha, 154 bills were passed and the productivity was 68%

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:

Bradley Cooper won the best director from PETA.

• Bradley Cooper was awarded the ‘Oscar’ by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

• The animal rights organization awarded the best director award to Cooper for his enlightened decision to cast his own canine companion in ‘A Star Is Born’.

APPOINTMENTS:

B P Sharma: CMD Pawan Hans.

• B P Sharma was re-employed as the CMD of the state-run helicopter manufacturer Pawan Hans.

• He was the CMD of Pawan Hans earlier in March 2015.

• He will be serving for a period of 5 months.

• Pawan Hans has a fleet of more than 50 helicopters.

Sushil Chandra became Election Commissioner.

• President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra as an Election Commissioner.

• The post had fallen vacant after the appointment of the then Election Commissioner Sunil Arora as Chief Election Commissioner.

• Ashok Lavasa is the senior-most Election Commissioner.

Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has appointed senior IRS officer Pramod Chandra Mody as chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes.

• He will succeed Sushil Chandra, who was recently appointed Election Commissioner.

• The Government of India, Government of Himachal Pradesh (GoHP) and the World Bank signed a $40 Million Loan Agreement to help bring clean and reliable drinking water to the citizens of the Greater Shimla area.

• William Barr was sworn for second time as the Attorney General of US.

• Derrick Pereira is set to become the coach of the Indian Under-23 football team for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifiers, to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 22nd March.

• Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) has notified that its CEO Harshil Mehta has resigned from his position with immediate effect on 13th February, 2019.

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Important Current Affairs 15th February 2019

NATIONAL:

Pulwama Attack: MIB issues advisory to all private satellite TV Channels

• The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued an advisory to all private satellite TV Channels in view of the terrorist attack in Pulwama District.

• The Ministry in its advisory said that all channels are advised to be particularly cautious with regard to any content which is likely to incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitude or contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation.

• The Ministry asked them to ensure that no such content is telecast which is violative of programme and advertising code as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

Chandigarh woman becomes IAF's 1st female Flight Engineer

• The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted flight lieutenant Hina Jaiswal as its first woman Flight Engineer on Friday. Jaiswal, who hails from Chandigarh, studied engineering at Punjab University.

• As a Flight Engineer, Hina will be posted to operational helicopter units of the IAF and routinely called to operate in demanding and stressful conditions.

Train 18 launch despite attack befitting reply to terrorists: Goyal

• Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has said that going ahead with the inauguration of India's fastest train, Vande Bharat Express (Train 18), was a befitting reply to the terrorists who perpetrated the Pulwama attacks.

• He added the decision to continue with the flagging off programme was inspired by the way Mumbai reacted by showing their resilience following the 26/11 attacks.

Security forces given full freedom to take action: PM on J&K attack

• In light of the terror attack on CRPF jawans in J&K's Pulwama on Thursday, PM Narendra Modi said, "Our security forces have been given full freedom.

• We have full faith in their bravery." Thanking all the nations who condemned the attack and showed support to India, PM Modi said, "A strong reply will be given to this attack.

SC asks EC to be flexible in applying 3 years domicile for defence personnel

• The Supreme Court of India has asked the Election Commission to be flexible in applying three-year domicile for defence personnel.

• The apex court noted that though people in services are posted at peace place for three years, there is occasion when they are transferred in two-and-half years.

• A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it will be open for the Election Commission to prescribe further flexible eligibility criteria to ensure that defence personnel are able to vote.

• The bench said, there was no need to pass any further order. It noted that the Election Commission has taken a decision to allow armed forces personnel to vote at their place of posting which excludes Jammu and Kashmir and Northeastern states.

INTERNATIONAL:

Trump to sign spending bill averting government shutdown

• President Donald Trump has decided to sign a spending bill averting a government shutdown but will also issue an emergency declaration to fund his controversial border wall.

• Declaring an emergency, a rare step, would free Trump to seek to redirect federal funds from elsewhere to help pay for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

• US House of Representative Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi expressed disdain for the President's upcoming emergency declaration. She stated that the happening at the border is not an emergency.

William Barr sworn in as US Attorney General

• William Barr was sworn in for second time as the new Attorney General of United States, taking the helm of the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

• Earlier, the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm his appointment. Barr, who also served as the Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 during President George HW Bush’s administration, succeeds Jeff Sessions.

• As the country’s chief law enforcement officer, Barr will oversee the remaining work in Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and decide how much Congress and the public know about its conclusion.

NASA declares Mars rover Opportunity officially dead

• NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity was officially declared dead on February 13, 2019, after having contributed almost 15 years of grand services.

• The declaration came after the long wait of eight months after the robot stopped responding to engineers back on earth after the dust storm hit the red planet.

• Setting off for Mars on the night of July 7, 2003, the golf-cart-sized robot has covered the distance of 28 miles since it has landed on the surface on January 25, 2004.

• After landing the rover, towards its journey to Endurance Crater, started searching intensively for bedrock and sand dunes.

• In an attempt to get a clue of water in its distant past, the rover studied the Victoria crater between the period of two years (2006 to 2008) and discovered how water had entered and left the region billions of years ago.

SPORTS:

Steyn overtakes Kapil, becomes joint 7th highest Test wicket-taker

• South African pacer Dale Steyn went past former Indian captain Kapil Dev in the list of highest wicket-takers in Test cricket after registering figures of 4/48 against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

• Steyn with 437 wickets to his name in the longest format is now at the joint seventh position in the all-time list of highest wicket-takers in Test cricket.

Saina, Kashyap, Verma enter semifinals of Senior Nationals

• Former champions Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap and Sourabh Verma advanced to the semifinals of the 83rd Yonex-Sunrise Senior Badminton Nationals in Guwahati on Friday.

• Saina will face 22-year-old Nagpur qualifier Vaishnavi Bhale, while Kashyap will face Lakshya Sen. The 26-year-old Sourabh Verma will meet qualifier Kaushal Dharmamer of Mumbai.

• Shane Warne named brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals

• Australia spin legend Shane Warne has been named as the new brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals for the upcoming Indian Premier League.

• Warne, who led Rajasthan Royals to its first and only IPL title in 2008, was the mentor of the side last season.

BUSINESS:

IndiGo to curtail 30 daily flights in February

• The country's largest airline IndiGo announced curtailing around 30 flights daily for the rest of February as it looks to stabilize operations and adjust crew rosters.

• IndiGo, which has more than 41 per cent of domestic market share, said the cancellations represent 2 per cent of its flights and that operation would be normalised completely by March 31, 2019.

• The budget carrier cancelled 49 flights on February 13 and the same has been informed to aviation regulator DGCA. The cancellations were reportedly caused by several factors like anticipated weather conditions and NOTAMS at various airports.

• This resulted in extended duty times which then made it necessary to re-roster the crew and optimise the operations. Therefore, the airlines has decided to curtail its schedule for the remaining period of this month by approximately 30 flights a day.

Appointments

 Ashwani Lohani, a retired bureaucrat, was appointed the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of National carrier Air India, on 13 Feb 2019.

• This will be his second tenure.

• In August 2017, he was named the Chairman to the Railway Board and retired on December 31, 2018.

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Important Current Affairs 14th February 2019

National:

AYUSH Minister launches e-AUSHADHI portal
• Minister of State for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik on February 13, 2019 launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters at New Delhi. 
• The portal aims to increase transparency, improve information management facility, improve data usability and increase accountability. 
• Timelines will be fixed for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step of the process.
• e-AUSHADHI is an acronym for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Automated Drug Help Initiative. 

CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra appointed as Election Commissioner
•    Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra has been appointed the third Election Commissioner, completing the team that will oversee 2019 Lok Sabha polls due in April-May. 
•    The three-member body now comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Chandra.
•     An IIT graduate, Chandra is a 1980 batch officer of the Indian Revenue Service

Bihar Government announces universal old age pension scheme-Mukhyamantri Vridhajan Pension Yojna
• The state government of Bihar has announced a universal old age pension scheme called Mukhyamantri Vridhajan Pension Yojna (MVPY) for all people above 60 years of age. 
• The scheme will come into force from April 1, 2019. Except those senior citizens who have retired from government service, all will be eligible for 400 rupees monthly pension irrespective of caste, religion or community. 
• The currently old age pension scheme is applicable to only the BPL category. 
• Besides this, the state’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced a pension of Rs 6,000 for journalists above 60 years of age. 

International:

Airbus to stop producing world's largest passenger jet A380
•    European planemaker Airbus has announced it will make its last deliveries of its A380 jet, the world's largest commercial passenger plane, in 2021. 
•    The decision comes after Emirates, the largest customer of the A380, reduced an outstanding order for 53 planes to only 14. The cancellation will affect the jobs of as many as 3,500 Airbus staff

Google to invest $13 billion in US in 2019: CEO Pichai
•    Google aims to invest $13 billion in offices and data centres in the US in 2019, CEO Sundar Pichai revealed. 
•    This will enable Google to hire "tens of thousands of employees" alongside creation of over 10,000 construction jobs, Pichai said. "2019 marks the second year in a row we’ll grow faster outside of Bay Area than in it", he added

Egypt's Parliament to vote on extending president's term
• Egypt's Parliament has begun deliberations over constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office till 2034. 
• The amendments will provide Sissi with 12 more years after his current, second term expires in 2022.
• The 596-seat Egyptian assembly has already given its preliminary approval to the changes last week. 
• The amendments are near certain to be overwhelmingly approved by the legislature, packed with el-Sissi's supporters, but will also need to be put to a national referendum to become law.

Cuba warns of possible US military intervention in Venezuela
• Cuba has warned of possible US military intervention in Venezuela under the humanitarian pretext and called for international efforts to avoid the scenario. 
• A Cuba government statement issued on February 13, 2019 stated that the US intends to create a humanitarian pretext to initiate military aggression against Venezuela. 
• The statement read that US military aircraft had transported troops between February 6 and 10, involving US military bases in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands without the consent of local governments. 

ICJ rules that it has jurisdiction to hear Iranian claim against US over frozen assets
• The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear part of a case brought by Iran against the US, to unfreeze Iranian assets of nearly 2 billion dollars held in the US. 
• The ruling opens the way for the court to hear Iran's case on its merits. Iran filed the case in 2016, based on the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the two nations, from which the US unilaterally withdrew last year.
• The case revolves around assets seized from the Iranian national bank, Bank Markazi, which were taken by the US to compensate victims of a 1983 suicide bombing of a Marine Corps base in Beirut, Lebanon.
• Iran denies involvement in the attack which killed more than 300 and injured many more, most of whom being US military personnel. 

Australia government loses bill blocking sick asylum seekers
• Australian legislators have passed a landmark bill making it easier for asylum seekers, being held on remote Pacific islands, to get medical treatment in the country. 
• This is the first time in decades the government has lost a vote on its own legislation in the lower house as the bill was passed with an opposition amendment. 
• The bill is expected to sail through the upper Senate later this week after which it will become a law. 
• Prime Minister Scott Morrison had strongly opposed the legislation. He said there is no form of the bill that does not weaken Australia's border protection. 
• Under Australia’s offshore detention policy, asylum seekers arriving by boat are sent to detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Sports:


Prajnesh Gunneswaran breaks into men's singles top 100
• India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran has made it to the top-100 of Men's Singles Tennis rankings with a jump of six places that took him to 97. 
• With the feat, Gunneswaran has become the third Indian player to break into the top-100 barrier in the past decade after Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri. 
• He reached the semifinals of the ATP Chennai Challenger last week to ensure his entry into the coveted bracket. If he is able to maintain his rank inside top-100, it will secure him entry into Grand Slam singles main draws. 
• In the doubles, Rohan Bopanna stayed put at 37 and was followed by his partner Divij Sharan at 39. 


Business:

Govt may relax FDI norms for single-brand retailers: Report
•    The Cabinet is reportedly considering a proposal to relax mandatory 30% local sourcing norms for foreign single-brand retailers.
•     As per existing FDI norms, 100% foreign investment is permitted but with 30% of the value of the goods sourced from the country. 
•    The proposal also suggests that retailers may sell online before opening a physical store if they invest $200 million

Town with Google, FB billionaires US richest with 3.2cr avg income
•    Silicon Valley suburb Atherton, home to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, is America's richest community for the third year in a row, according to Bloomberg Richest Places annual index. 
•    Atherton's household income averaged $450,696 (₹3.2 crore as of now) in 2017. Stanford University and Google and Facebook headquarters are a short drive away from Atherton.

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Important Current Affairs 13th December 2018

Economic news

RBI slaps 1 crore fine on Indian Bank for violating cyber security norms
The contravention is with regard to RBI’s directions on Frauds- Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks.
This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers
About Indian Bank
Indian Bank is an Indian state-owned financial services company established in 1907 and headquartered in Chennai, India.

Defence news


Indian Navy inducts its first Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle
The Indian Navy on Wednesday inducted its first Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) System at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
DSRV is used to rescue crew members stranded in submarines that get disabled. The Indian Navy joins a select group of naval forces in the world that boasts of this niche capability.
The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650 meters and can hold around 15 people. The Indian Navy in March 2016 had commissioned two DSRVs, the second will deployed at the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.

Sports news


ITTF award for Manika
India’s star paddler Manika Batra was bestowed with the International Table Tennis Fedreation’s (ITTF) Breakthrough star award 2018. 
In 2018, Manika won 4 medals in commonwealth games. These are women’s singles gold,women’s doubles silver and mixed doubles bronze.
She also begged bronze in mixed doubles in the Asian Games 2018.

National news


Zoramthanga as the new CM of Mizoram
Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan on Wednesday afternoon invited Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga to form the government.
Outgoing Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had submitted his resignation an hour before Mr Zoramthanga had staked the claim. The current term of the Assembly expires on Friday.


Shri Nitin Gadkari flags off first container mainline vessel at Tuticorin
Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Shipping and Road Transport & Highways and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation flagged off the first container mainline vessel from VoC Port (Tuticorin Port).
At present containers from Tuticorin to Far East countries viz Malaysia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong are transited by the feeder vessels to Colombo where they are further connected to the mother vessel .
In the last four years, Tuticorin Port has made investments to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore towards improvement of infrastructure.

SWIFT India
SWIFT India has appointed ex-SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya as the new chairman of its board.
SWIFT India is a joint venture of top Indian public and private sector banks and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). 

International News


Vice-Chair of the UN Panel of Auditors
Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi has become the Vice-Chair of the UN Panel of Auditors. The United Nations Panel of Auditors consists of External Auditors of the United Nations and its agencies.
The United Nations General Assembly in 1959 established the Panel of External Auditors. Presently, the panel consists of 11 countries.


Adoption of global compact on migration in Marrakech hailed a victory
UN members states adopted the Global Compact on Migration in Marrakech.
The adoption is a victory for a progressive new framework of how the world views migrants and agrees to protect their basic human rights.
The GCM creates a non-legally binding and co-operative framework that builds on the commitments agreed upon by member states in the New York Declaration for refugees and migrants of December 2016. 

UAE's Federal National Council to be 50 per cent women
President Sheikh Khalifa has called for Emirati women to occupy 50 per cent of the country's Federal National Council after next year's elections.
 Currently, there are eight women members — representing 20 per cent of the 40 available seats. Dr Al Qubaisi was also the first woman elected to the FNC in 2006.

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni first Indian to hit 200 ODI sixes

Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first Indian batsman to hit 200 sixes in one-day internationals.
●    Dhoni, who relinquished the limited-overs captaincy earlier this month, also slammed his 10th ODI century in the second match of the ongoing series against England in Cuttack.
●    Dhoni was on 93 when he pulled Chris Woakes towards deep square leg on the second ball of the 43rd over. 
●    But the umpire signaled a dead ball as the ball dropped down after hitting the spider cam.
●    However, the 35-year-old wicketkeeper batsman was unfazed as he launched the next ball miles over long on to move to 99 and complete the milestone.
●    Dhoni finally perished on 134, blasting 6 sixes and 10 fours. 
●    Dhoni is now the -fourth leading batsman in the world with most sixes in ODI cricket after Shahid Afridi (351), Sanath Jayasuriya (270), Chris Gayle (238).
 

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Mona Meshram drafted in Indian women’s team

Mona Meshram will replace injured Smriti Mandhana in the Indian team for the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers to be played next month in Colombo, the BCCI said on Saturday.
●    Smriti sustained an injury while playing in the Big Bash League in Australia and Mona will replace her in the 14-member Indian squad to be led by Mithali Raj.
●    “BCCI medical team confirms that Smriti Mandhana is ruled out of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers to be played in Colombo from February 7, 2017. 
●    She sustained an injury during the Big Bash League in Australia,” the BCCI said in a release.
●    “Mona Meshram will replace Smriti in the 14 member squad,” it said.
●    India have been placed in Group A alongside Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand in the February 3-21 event. Group B comprises South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and PNG.
●    India will play a warm-up match against South Africa before their opening Qualifier against Sri Lanka on February 7.
 

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Punjab Royals wins Pro Wrestling League Season 2

NCR Punjab Royals on 19 January 2017 were crowned the champions of the Pro Wrestling League Season 2.
●    The Punjab Royals triumphed over Haryana Hammers 5-4 at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.
●    The winners were presented with the Champions trophy along with a prize money of Rs. 1 crore and 90 lacs. The runners up were awarded the prize money of Rs. 1 crore and 10 lacs.
●    About Pro Wrestling League
●    The Pro Wrestling League (PWL) is the initiative of ProSportify and Wrestling Federation of India.
●    The first season of this league was among 6 city-based teams. Around 66 wrestlers from different countries of the world took part in the Season One.
●    There are six teams who compete in the League. Each team consists of a total of 1 Icon and 8 other players. Among them, there are 5 Indians and 4 foreign players. They consist of 5 men and 4 women.
●    The six teams for the Season 2 were: Haryana Hammers, NCR Punjab Royals, Mumbai Maharathi, Jaipur Ninjas, Colors Delhi Sultans, UP Dangal.
●    There are 5 weight categories (57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg, 97 kg, 125 kg) for men, and 4 weight categories (49 kg, 53 kg, 58 kg, 69 kg) for women.
●    Revanta Mumbai Garuda was the winner of the Pro Wrestling League Season 1.
 

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