Current Affairs Update – 18th February, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 18th February, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016.

Current Affairs at a Glance – 18th February, 2016

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on
    18 February 2016 launched the guidelines for operationalization of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
    The guidelines were issued at a farmers’ convention in Sherpur village of
    Madhya Pradesh.  The Yojna will come into force
    from the 2016 Kharif season (from June to October in India)
    .
  2. Viacom18, has tied up with
    the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)’s Startup India
    to
    launch a year-long outreach programme
    for entrepreneurs
    called MTV
    Kickstart
    .
  3. World’s cheapest ‘made in India’ smartphone “Freedom 251” launched at
    Rs 251 by Ringing Bells.
  4. Apple Inc. in the second
    week of February 2016 announced setting up of a Technology Development Centre (TDC) in Hyderabad, Telangana.
    For Apple, it will be the first TDC
    outside the USA
    .
  5. NTPC arm NETRA ties up with German institutes for solar power research.
  6. Denmark’s Universal Robots
    launches collaborative robot line in India
  7. Odisha government on 17 February 2016 decided to introduce a
    self-certifying scheme for non-hazardous industries.
  8. North Central Railway in
    association with the Construction and open line Units of the Railway on 14
    February 2016 commissioned an ultra-modern computer-based signaling system at
    the Khurja junction.
  9. Paani Foundation of Aamir Khan joined hand with Maharashtra Government
    for water conservation.
  10. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J
    Jayalalithaa on 18 February 2016 announced a free bus pass scheme for senior citizens in Chennai.
  11. Tata Motors, Bharat Forge tied up for $11 billion Indian
    Army’s FICV (Future Infantry Combat Vehicle) programme
    .
  12. Senior IRS officer Jayant Misra was today appointed as
    Director General of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
    , ending eight
    months of vacancy of the post.
  13. Senior IPS officer Alok Kumar Verma will be the new Police Commissioner of Delhi,
    succeeding B S Bassi who retires on February 29.
  14. K M Mammen, Chairman & Managing Director, MRF Ltd has been elected
    as Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’
    Association (ATMA)
    .
  15. Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016
    approved nomination of the Chief
    Executive Officer of NITI Aayog as a part-time member of the telecom commission
    .
    With this decision, Amitabh Kant will assume the role by virtue of his position
    as the NITI Aayog CEO.
  16. Renowned Indologist Professor David Shulman on 14 February 2016 was
    awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Religious Studies for his breakthrough
    research into the literature and culture of southern India.
  17. Sachin Tendulkar
    continues to make records with his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ entering the Limca Book of Records for being the
    best-selling adult hardback across both fiction and non-fiction categories.
  18. WHO issues $56 million plan to combat Zika virus
  19. Apple launches payments service ‘Apple Pay’ in China
  20. The United Nations (UN) and the
    Government of Colombia on 17 February 2016 announced the launch of a new
    multi-partner trust fund in Bogota
    to respond to stabilization and peacebuilding needs.
  21. Eminent Hindustani classical
    vocalist Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan passed away.

Finance/Economy/Industry –
PM Modi released guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana at
Kisan Mela in MP

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on
    18 February 2016 launched the guidelines for operationalization of the Pradhan
    Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). The guidelines were issued at a farmers’
    convention in Sherpur village of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The PMFBY is a path breaking
    scheme for crop insurance and was approved by the Union Cabinet on 13 January
    2016.
  • The Yojna will come into force
    from the 2016 Kharif season (from June to October in India).
  • It aims at boosting the
    agricultural sector of India and envisages a uniform premium of only 2 percent
    to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 percent for Rabi crops.
  • The premium for annual commercial
    and horticultural crops will be 5 percent.
  • On the occasion, the Prime
    Minister Modi also presented a trophy of Krishi Karman Award to Chief Minister
    Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
  • On the other hand, Modi was
    conferred with Kisan Mitra and Kisan Hiteshi Samman on behalf of Madhya Pradesh
    government for his historic decisions in the interest of farmers’ community.

Startup India and Viacom18 join hands to launch outreach programme for
entrepreneurs

  • Viacom18, the media house that
    owns and runs channels like Colors and MTV, has tied up with the Department of
    Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)’s Startup India to launch a year-long
    outreach programme for entrepreneurs called MTV Kickstart.
  • The initiative will include
    activities on-ground, digital communication and a television reality show.
  • While the Viacom18 brand attached
    to the programme is MTV, the network’s youth brand, all the vehicles under the
    Viacom18 umbrella will be mobilised to rollout the outreach initiative.
  • The multi-platform initiative
    will reach out to young aspiring entrepreneurs through multiple touch-points
    across 300 colleges in the country. Around 10 start-up festivals (2 day events)
    across tier 1 & 2 cities will be organised to allow youth to have a
    personal interaction with the top entrepreneurs and investors in the nation.
  • MTV Kickstart will work towards
    educating the youth about the ecosystem of start-ups. The program will aim to
    educate through personal and informal interactions with established start-up
    entrepreneurs, investors, advisory and much more.

World’s cheapest ‘made in India’ smartphone launched at Rs 251

  • Taking the world by surprise with
    the world’s cheapest smartphone, a little known Noida-based start-up on
    Wednesday launched a Rs.251 (less than $4) “Made in India” smartphone
    that – if works well – will be a game changer.
  • In what could be termed as a fillip
    to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” and “Digital
    India” initiatives, “Freedom 251” from Ringing Bells Pvt Ltd
    will be available for pre-order on the company website from 6 a.m. on February
    18 till 8 p.m. on February 21.
  • The smartphone was unveiled at
    Nehru Park in New Delhi by veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar
    Joshi.

Apple to set up Technology Development Centre in Hyderabad

  • Apple Inc. in the second week of
    February 2016 announced setting up of a Technology Development Centre (TDC) in
    Hyderabad, Telangana. For Apple, it will be the first TDC outside the USA.
  • With this announcement, Apple
    joined other big technology firms like Microsoft, Google and Facebook that
    focused on Hyderabad to expand their operations in Asia.
  • The centre will be set up at an
    estimated investment of 25 million US dollars and occupy 250000 square feet in
    Tishman Speyer’s WaveRock facility.
  • The proposed TDC is of strategic
    value as, at present, Apple Inc. is the world’s largest mobile technology
    company and India is the world’s fastest-growing smart phone market.

NTPC arm ties up with German institutes for solar power research

  • NTPC Energy Technology Research
    Alliance (NETRA), the research and development arm of the public sector power
    generator, said on Thursday that it is collaborating with two German
    institutions for research in solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies.
  • With DLR Cologne, the company is
    carrying out research in the field of solar thermal and Institute of Solar
    Energy Fraunhofer, the research is in the field of solar photovoltaic.
  • NETRA plans to set up state of
    art evaluation facilities for Solar PV and conduct various programs for
    knowledge sharing, capacity building with German institutions in the area of
    solar energy.

Bain Capital, GIC, Advent invest $350 mn in QuEST Global
  • QuEST Global, a pure-play
    engineering and R&D services provider on Thursday, said that few leading
    global investors including Bain Capital, GIC and Advent International have
    invested around $350 million (close to Rs 2,396 crore) for minority stake in
    the company.
  • The deal values the company at
    over $1 billion. As part of this, these investors have bought out QuEST
    Global’s long-time investor Warburg Pincus, and few other shareholders who had
    invested in the company in the angel stage.

Denmark’s Universal Robots launches collaborative robot line in India
  • Danish robot manufacturer
    Universal Robots launched its operations in India on Thursday. Its
    collaborative robots (co-bots) range, the company said, had already seen
    application in the Indian auto and auto components sector.
  • While Universal Robots has been
    selling its robotic products in the country for the past three years, it had
    set up its sales office in the country in October last year.
  • The co-bots range is touted as
    lightweight, flexible, compact and versatile. According to the company, the
    system can be reprogrammed to perform a myriad of tasks and does not require
    extensive safety features while working in close proximity to human workers.

Thermal Powertech signs PPA with Telangana discoms
  • Thermal Powertech Corporation
    India Ltd (TPCIL), which owns and operates a 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power
    plant at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, has signed a long-term power purchase
    agreement (PPA) with the Telangana power distribution companies.
  • Under the power purchase
    agreement, 570 MW of power will be sold to the southern and northern power
    distribution companies of Telangana for a period of eight years.

Odisha Government to introduce self-certifying scheme for industries to
set up units
  • Odisha government on 17 February
    2016 decided to introduce a self-certifying scheme for non-hazardous
    industries.
  • This scheme will ease the process
    of doing business in the state by shortening the inspection process at the
    initial levels required for non-hazardous industries to set up units.
  • The decision in regard to the
    scheme was taken at a high-level meeting in Bhubaneswar, presided over by Chief
    Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi.

Union Cabinet approved Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016
    approved Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization
    (WTO). It approved the Notification of Commitments, its ratification and
    acceptance of the Instrument of Acceptance of Protocol of TFA to the WTO Secretariat.
  • India is the 71st country to give
    nod to the agreement that seeks to ease customs procedures to boost commerce.
  • As per the Trade Facilitation
    Agreement adopted by the WTO on 27 November 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, the
    TFA shall enter into force for the notified members (107 countries) upon
    acceptance by two-third WTO Members.

India –
India, Nepal to sign 4 MoUs to boost cooperation in economic, energy
and cultural fields

  • Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma
    Oli’s six-day India visit starts on Friday with the two sides working on at
    least four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to boost cooperation in economic,
    energy and cultural fields.
  • The two MoUs – one on the $1
    billion line of credit that India has already committed to extend to Nepal and
    another on $1 billion that India has pledged for Nepal’s post-earthquake
    reconstruction – will be signed during Oli’s visit, officials here privy to the
    discussions on both sides said.
  • The MoUs are considered the
    framework under which modality, projects and other aspects of the Indian aid
    and loan will be finalised during the visit.
  • During his visit to Nepal in
    August 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a $1 billion line of
    credit to Nepal for undertaking various infrastructure projects.
  • The MoU on Nepal’s
    post-earthquake reconstruction effort envisages various projects to be
    undertaken through Indian assistance. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma
    Swaraj had announced $1 billion loan and aid to Nepal during the International
    Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction last June.
  • Besides, a MoU is to be signed
    between the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India and the Nepal Sangeet Tatha Natya
    Pragya Pratisthan for exchange of cultural programmes between the two entities.
  • Radio Nepal and All India Radio
    will sign another MoU to cooperate in exchange of various programmes.
  • Among those MoUs, one relates to
    Nepal’s registration in the ‘SAARC Satellite’ proposed by Prime Minister Modi
    during the 18th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional
    Cooperation (SAARC) in Kathmandu.
  • Another MoU is about cooperation
    and exchange of various activities and manpower between Tribhuvan University in
    Kathmandu and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The ICCR
    provides scholarships to Nepali students in various Indian universities.

Northern Central Railway commissioned ultra modern computer-based
signalling system at Khurja Jn

  • North Central Railway in
    association with the Construction and open line Units of the Railway on 14
    February 2016 commissioned an ultra modern computer-based signaling system at
    the Khurja junction.
  • With this commissioning, the
    Khurja Yard this is a part of the Allahabad Railway Division will have a 256
    possible movements leading to immense flexibility and faster clearance of
    trains.
  • The system will also lead to
    better reliability, safer shunting operation, better handling of long goods
    train, enhanced line capacity and fully computerized operation.
  • Overall, the newly installed
    system will improve traffic movement on important Ghaziabad Kanpur Section and
    lead to an ultra modern centralized traffic centre system.

Paani Foundation joined hand with Maharashtra Government for water
conservation

  • Paani Foundation, a
    not-for-profit company, started by Actor Aamir Khan and his wife Kiran Rao was
    in news on 17 February 2016. The foundation came into news after Khan and
    Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that it will work with
    the state government to solve the water crisis in the state.
  • Paani Foundation is a
    not-for-profit company whose main objective is to bring about a change in
    outlook about water conservation. It will communicate, impart knowledge and
    bring a change in outlook at the grassroots level about water conservation and
    watershed management.
  • Operation of the foundation is
    led by Satyajit Bhatkal who is its CEO, while Khan’s ex-wife Reena Dutta is
    COO.

Tamil Nadu announced Free Bus Pass Scheme for senior citizens
  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J
    Jayalalithaa on 18 February 2016 announced a free bus pass scheme for senior
    citizens in Chennai.
  • The scheme would come into effect
    from 24 February 2016, the day that coincides with the birthday of Jayalalitha.
  • People above 60 years of age can
    avail the free travel facility in non-AC buses being run by the state run
    Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Chennai.

Tata Motors, Bharat Forge tied up for $11 billion Indian Army’s FICV
Programme

  • The abbreviation FICV was in news
    in the second week of February 2016 as Tata Motors, Bharat Forge and the
    USA-based General Dynamics tied up for defense bid under Future Infantry Combat
    Vehicle programme.
  • The FICV Programme involves
    development of compact combat vehicles for the Indian Army that will replace
    Russian-designed BMP (Sarath BMP-II) series armed vehicles that are in
    operation since 1980.
  • The nearly 10 billion US dollar
    project is touted as India’s largest indigenous defense program.

Appointments –
Jayant Misra appointed Director General of Directorate of Revenue
Intelligence (DRI)

  • Senior IRS officer Jayant Misra
    was today appointed as Director General of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
    (DRI), ending eight months of vacancy of the post.
  • The move comes two days after a
    Special Investigation Team (SIT) asked the DRI to verify if USD 505 billion was
    transacted out of the country between 2004-2013 as part of trade-based money
    laundering.
  • With the approval of competent
    authority, Jayant Misra has been transferred to DG DRI, Delhi, a government order
    said.
  • Misra is currently DG (Systems)
    at the Directorate General of Systems and Data Management here.

Alok Kumar Verma Will Be New Delhi Police Chief

  • Senior IPS officer Alok Kumar
    Verma will be the new Police Commissioner of Delhi, succeeding B S Bassi who
    retires on February 29.
  • Lt Governor Najeeb Jung today
    issued an order appointing 58-year-old Verma, a 1979-batch Union Territory
    cadre officer, as the top police officer of the national capital. Verma is
    currently serving as DG of Tihar prison.
  • An official said that the order
    was issued by the Delhi Home Department in the name of the Lt Governor in
    pursuance of the order of the Union Home Ministry dated February 17.

MRF chief K M Mammen selected as Chairman of Automotive Tyre
Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA)

  • K M Mammen, Chairman &
    Managing Director, MRF Ltd has been elected as Chairman of Automotive Tyre
    Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA), national industry body for automotive tyre
    sector in India. Meanwhile, Satish Sharma, President (Asia Pacific, Middle East
    and Africa) Apollo Tyres Ltd has been elected as Vice Chairman of ATMA.
  • Mammen is the eldest son of the
    late Founder Chairman of MRF and he has held various executive positions in
    business associations in the country including as President of the Indo
    Australian Chamber of Commerce. He is currently an executive member on the
    board of FICCI and a member on the Board of the Madras Christian College.
  • Sharma joined Apollo Tyres in
    1997 and took over as Chief India Operations in 2006 before being re-designated
    as President for Asia Pacific, Middle East& Africa region in early 2014.

Union Cabinet approved nomination of NITI Aayog CEO as part-time member
of Telecom Commission

  • Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016
    approved nomination of the Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog as a part-time
    member of the telecom commission. With this decision, Amitabh Kant will assume
    the role by virtue of his position as the NITI Aayog CEO.
  • The new role for the National
    Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog CEO was envisioned as the
    institution replaced the Planning Commission the Secretary of which was a
    part-time member in the telecom commission.
  • The NITI Aayog CEO will lend
    value to the deliberations of the commission as the NITI Aayog was mandated to
    serve as a think tank of the government.

Awards & Honors –
David Shulman won Israel Prize for Religious Studies for Research on
India

  • Renowned Indologist Professor
    David Shulman on 14 February 2016 was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for
    Religious Studies for his breakthrough research into the literature and culture
    of southern India.
  • Israel’s Education Minister
    Naftali Bennett approved the recommendation of the prize committee, headed by
    Professor Shaul Shaked.
  • David Dean Shulman is an
    Indologist and regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the
    languages of India.

Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography “Playing It My Way” enters
Limca Book of Records

  • Sachin Tendulkar continues to
    make records with the his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ entering the Limca
    Book of Records for being the best-selling adult hardback across both fiction
    and non-fiction categories.
  • The book, published by Hachette
    India, was released on November 6, 2014 and has broken all records for an adult
    hardback across both fiction and non-fiction categories with 1,50,289 copies confirmed
    on order subscriptions.
  • The book’s orders, on day one,
    already saw it pulling ahead of both pre-order and lifetime sales of the
    world’s top adult hardbacks Dan Brown’s Inferno, Walter Issacson’s Steve Jobs and
    JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy.
  • Boria Majumdar was the co-author
    of Tendulkar’s autobiography. It also holds the record in retail value terms
    having logged up Rs. 13.51 crore with its cover price being Rs. 899.

World –
WHO issues $56 million plan to combat Zika virus
  • The World Health Organization
    (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zika virus
    until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research
    studies into how it spreads.
  • The funds, including $25 million
    for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the
    mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the
    Americas.
  • The WHO expects the funds to come
    from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped
    a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.

Apple launches payments service ‘Apple Pay’ in China

  • Apple today launched its mobile
    payments service Apple Pay in China, the company said, pitting the US
    technology giant against strong domestic players in an already crowded field.
  • The world’s second-largest
    economy is a crucial market for the California-based firm, and Apple Pay is
    available in only a handful of other countries including the United States,
    Britain, Canada and Australia.
  • But unlike most other countries,
    mobile payment systems are already well-established in China and Apple does not
    have a first-mover advantage.
  • Mobile transactions were valued
    at 9.31 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) last year, one industry estimate showed,
    and according to the state-backed China Internet Network Information Center
    (CNNIC), the country had 359 million online payment users in mid-2015, up
    almost 18% in six months.

United Nations and Colombian Government launched trust fund for
peacebuilding needs
  • The United Nations (UN) and the
    Government of Colombia on 17 February 2016 announced the launch of a new
    multi-partner trust fund in Bogota to respond to stabilization and
    peacebuilding needs.
  • The Fund will be managed by the
    Government and the UN, in close cooperation with interested donors. The Fund
    will especially support conflict areas in the lead-up to and aftermath of
    possible peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
    Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).
  • Norway, Sweden and the UN’s own
    Peacebuilding Fund are the first contributors, helping the new fund kick off
    with an initial 8 million US dollars.

Obituaries –
Eminent vocalist Abdul Rashid Khan passes away

  • Eminent Hindustani classical
    vocalist Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan passed away at a private hospital here today
    following old-age related ailments, family members said. He was 107.
  • A recipient of Padma Bhushan in
    2013 and Sangeet Natak Akademi award, he was a resident guru at the ITC Sangeet
    Research Academy in the city for the past 20 years.

Regards

Team ExamPundit

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