Current Affairs Update – 26th Feb, 2015

In today’s Current Affairs, we have news on:

Budget 2015-16
Railway Budget 2015 –

  • The key themes of the Budget were in line with Prime
    Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives – Swachch Bharat Mission, Make in India
    and Digital India.

Key Highlights:
  • The most-expected part about this year’s railway Budget –
    there is no increase in rail fares.
  • Rs.8.5 lakh crore will be invested in Railways in next 5
  • ‘Operation 5 mins’, wherein passengers travellling
    unreserved can purchase a ticket in 5 minutes.
  • Bio toilets and airplane-type vaccum toilets in trains.
  • Surveillance cameras in select coaches and ladies
    compartments for women’s safety without compromising on privacy.
  • Rail tickets can now be booked 120 days in advance.
  • Speed on nine railway corridors to go up to 200 km per hour.
  • Wi-Fi in more stations, mobile phone charging facilities in
    all train compartments.
  • Facility of online booking of wheelchair for senior
  • Satellite railway terminals in major cities.
  • Centrally managed Rail Display Network is expected to be
    introduced in over 2K stations over the next 2 years.
  • All india 24/7 helpline – 138 from March 2015 ; Toll free
    No.182 for security.
  • 917 road under-bridges and over-bridges to be constructed to
    replace 3,438 railway crossings; at a cost of Rs. 6,581 crore.
  • Four Railway Research Centres to start in four universities.
  • No new trains announced in 2015 Railway Budget.
  • Kisan Yatra — a special travel scheme for farmers finds
    mention in Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu’s speech

Mumbai University signed
MoU with Indian Railways to set up Rail Innovation and Technology Centre
  • Mumbai University on 23 February 2015 signed a memorandum of
    understanding (MoU) with the Indian Railways to set up a Rail Innovation and
    Technology Centre to train students for expertise in Railway Engineering.
  • Highlights of the MoU
  • Indian Railways will allocate 142.89 crore rupees budget for
    the centre over the next five academic years.
  • Mumbai University will provide education, distribution of
    facilities for higher education, effective administration and financial
  • The university will impart practical training to candidates
    at university’s Kalina, Ratnagiri and Kalyan sub campus.
  • The university will also start specialized courses at the
    Post Graduate level related to rail technology.
  • This institute will help the Indian Railways in developing
    cutting-edge indigenous technologies and turn as a net exporter of such

IRDA releases India
Insurance Vision 2025

  • Additional tax incentives and simple products are key to
    insurance industry, according to a survey of the Confederation of Indian
    Industry (CII).
  • The study, India Insurance Vision 2025, done by McKinsey for
    CII, was formally released by TS Vijayan, Chairman of Insurance Regulatory and
    Development Authority of India (IRDA), here on Thursday.
  • The industry has a potential to reach $250 billion mark by
    2025, it said.
  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India
    (IRDA) today said insurance companies can appoint individual agents on their
    own without license from the regulator from April 1.
  • IRDA chairman T S Vijayan said the regulator also plans to
    make health insurance, so far considered as part of non-life sector, a
    standalone entity.

Forbes released Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen 2015 list
  • Forbes on 26 February 2015 released Asia’s 50 Power
    Businesswomen 2015 list. The list features six Indian women CEO and Managing
    Director (MD).
  • The Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen list showcases a year of
    accomplishments by the region’s female entrepreneurs and executives.

The list includes
following Women from India
  1. Arundhati Bhattacharya, CMD, State Bank of India
  2. Chanda Kochchar, CEO, ICICI Bank,
  3. Akhila Srinivasan, MD/Non-Executive Director, Shriram Life
    Insurance/Shriram Capital
  4. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Founder, Chairman and MD, Biocon
  5. Shikha Sharma, CEO and MD, Axis Bank
  6. Usha Sangwan, MD, Life Insurance Corp. of India

  • The first time entrants to the list include Maggie Wu and
    Lucy Peng, Alibaba’s top female decision-makers.
  • For the first time, two women Garamjav Tseden and Win Win
    Tint are included from developing nations Mongolia and Myanmar.

Union Cabinet
approved creation of two additional benches of the Authority for Advance
  • Union Cabinet on 25 February 2015 approved the creation of
    two additional benches of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR). Two
    additional benches of the AAR will be established in New Delhi and Mumbai.
  • For these two benches, there will be a creation of two posts
    of Vice-Chairmen in the Apex scale and four posts of Members (two posts of
    Revenue Members and two posts of Law Members) in the Higher Administrative
    Grade (HAG+).
  • Moreover, two posts of Secretary at the level of
    Commissioner of Income Tax or Joint Secretary will also be created.

Significance of
two additional benches of the AAR
  • The creation of two additional benches of the Authority will
    dispose of increased number of cases and pendency of cases will be reduced
    benefitting the tax payer and the Government. 
  • This will operationalise the facility of advance ruling for
    resident tax payers. The benches will facilitate the cause of the resident tax
    payers in obtaining tax clarity in certain situations.

About Authority
for Advance Rulings (AAR)
  • In order to provide the facility of ascertaining the
    Income-tax liability of a non-resident, a scheme of Advance Rulings was
    introduced in the Chapter XIX-B of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 and the Authority
    for Advance Rulings (AAR) was constituted in 1996.

Zoomcar tied-up with
Tata Motors Limited to expand its fleet
  • Self-drive car rental service Zoomcar on 25 February 2015
    tied-up with automaker Tata Motors Limited to add 50 more new Nano cars to its
    fleet. These new cars will be split between Pune and Bengaluru.
  • Zoomcar currently offers cars like the Ford Ecosport, Tata
    Safari, Mercedes GLA and Honda City among others which lets customers rent them
    across Bangalore, Pune and the Delhi-NCR region.

About Zoomcar
  • Founded by Greg Morgan and David Back in 2013, Zoomcar is a
    Self-Drive car rental service which allows you to rent cars by the hour, day,
    week or month.

Andhra Pradesh signed
MoU with Wipro for building and implementing APSEA
  • Andhra Pradesh (AP) Government on 23 February 2015 signed
    Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wipro for building and implementing the
    AP State Enterprise Architecture (APSEA).
  • The APSEA is aimed at bringing transformational change in
    the way government services are conceived, designed, delivered and consumed.

features of APSEA

  • It intends to make the state government future-ready by
    changing from departmental stovepipes to a citizen-centred approach to
    government services achieved through transformation of the front, middle and
    back office operation.
  • It would prove to be an essential tool for the development
    of Andhra Pradesh. The vision of the state of Andhra Pradesh is to use
    e-governance as a tool to provide integrated services to its citizens through a
    free flow of information.

Union Ministry of
Chemicals & Fertilizers declared 2015 as Year of Active Pharmaceutical
  • Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers on 25 February
    2015 declared the year 2015 as the Year of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
    (API). It was declared by the Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers
    Ananth Kumar.
  • The aim is to bring about self-sufficiency in the field of
    Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) which is also consistent with the
    avowed objective of the Union Government Make in India initiative.

In this regard,
the Department of Pharmaceuticals will
  • take measures to facilitate the growth of the sector;
  • interact with the industry on a more regular basis to
    improve G2B interactions;
  • promote better and more coordinated efforts to achieve the
    objective of Make in India for the API sector

India bans ISIS under
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

  • Dreaded terror group ISIS and all its affiliate
    organisations, responsible for series of savage attacks and killings in Iraq
    and Syria, have been banned in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention)
  • Recruitment of youths to the outfit from India and their
    radicalisation is a matter of serious concern for the country especially with
    regard to its likely impact on national security when such youth return to
    India, the Home Ministry said while banning the terrorist group.
  • The Islamic State/Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/ Islamic
    State of Iraq and Syria/Daish and all its manifestations have been declared as
    outlawed in India under UAPA, a notification issued by the Ministry said.
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said in Parliament on
    December 16, 2014 that the West Asian group had already been declared banned in
    India under a United Nations Schedule.

In its 20th year, The
Hindu website wins major award

  • The Hindu’s website has won the Website of the Year (WOTY)
    India award for 2014 in the News and Information category.
  • The selection of the Website of the Year India is done in an
    online public process that seeks to identify the best and most popular websites
    in 21 categories. It is organised by MetrixLab, a global provider of consumer
    insights and marketing analytics.
  • The WOTY awards have been organised for a decade in the
    United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and China.
  • The Hindu has won this award out of 252 websites that were
    nominated in 21 categories. More than 344,000 votes were cast between October
    27 and December 5, 2014. A maximum of 12 nominations were made for each
  • As the winner, The Hindu has been given a trophy and gets to
    display the WOTY winner logo on the website throughout 2015.

Government to give
digital boost to MGNREGA scheme

  • Government will roll out a pilot project to give a digital
    boost to the flagship rural job scheme MNREGA in gram panchayats to ensure its
    better implementation through mobile monitoring system.
  • Under the scheme expected to be functional from April this
    year, a total of 35,000 gram panchayats will be covered which would be given a
    mobile/tablet, Minister of State for Rural Development Sudarshan Bhagat said in
    a written reply in Lok Sabha.
  • An amount of Rs 35 crore have been sanctioned as each
    mobile/tablet would be costing Rs 10,000.

Union Cabinet
approved the implementation of 15000 MW Grid-connected SPV Projects under NSM
  • The Union Cabinet on 25 February 2015 approved the
    implementation of the scheme for setting up of 15000 Mega Watt (MW) Grid-connected
    Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) Power projects under the National Solar Mission
  • The scheme will be implemented through National Thermal
    Power Corporation (NTPC) and NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited (VVNL) in three

The three tranches are:
  • Tranche 1: 3000 MW of SPV plants will be completed under
    mechanism of Bundling of solar power (3000 MW) with Unallocated Coal based
    Thermal Power (1500 MW) in the ration of 2:1.
  • Tranche 2: 5000 MW will be completed with some support from
    Government to be decided after getting some experience while implementing
  • Tranche 3: remaining 7000 MW will be completed without any
    financial support from the Government.

TRAI issued 6th
Amendment to Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulation, 2009
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 25
    February 2015 issued 6th Amendment to the Telecommunication Mobile Number
    Portability Regulation, 2009. This amendment will facilitate full MNP
    (Pan-India Portability) across India with effect from 3 May 2015.
  • With this, subscribers will be able to retain the same
    mobile number on relocating to anywhere in India although they can change their
    service provider.
  • At present, number portability within a telecom circle is
    only possible and the subscriber has to pay roaming charges plus applicable STD
    call rates when he carries the number outside the home circle.

Russia and Cyprus
signed an agreement to allow Russian navy ships to use Cypriot ports
  • Russia and on 25 February 2015 signed an agreement to give
    Russian navy ships access to Cypriot ports in the Mediterranean Sea. Russian
    ships that will dock at Cypriot ports would mostly be used in counter-terrorism
    and anti-piracy efforts.
  • The agreement was signed in Moscow after talks between
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
  • The military deal also included the possibility of Russia
    using an air base on Cyprus for humanitarian relief missions.

Scientists discovered
quasar SDSS J0 100+2802 with central black hole mass of 12 billion solar mass

  • The international team of scientists led by astronomers from
    Peking University in China and from the University of Arizona discovered the
    brightest quasar SDSS J0 100+2802 with the most massive black hole of 12
    billion solar-mass.
  • The findings were published in the journal Nature on 26
    February 2015 and Prof. Xue-Bing Wu at Peking University is the lead author of
    the study.

The world’s first
3D-printed jet engine unveiled

  • Australian researchers unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed
    jet engine on Thursday, a manufacturing breakthrough that could lead to
    cheaper, lighter and more fuel-efficient jets.
  • Engineers at Monash University and its commercial arm are
    making top-secret prototypes for Boeing Co, Airbus Group NV, Raytheon Co and
    Safran SA in a development that could be the saviour of Australia’s struggling
    manufacturing sector.
  • 3D printing makes products by layering material until a three-dimensional
    object is created. Automotive and aerospace companies use it for producing
    prototypes as well as creating specialized tools, moldings and some end-use

Indian Consulate at
Houston to Partner with HISD for Hindi Language School
  • One of the largest public school system in the US is
    planning to introduce Texas’s first Hindi dual language school, a move that
    could benefit the country’s significant Indian-American population.
  • With over 200,000 students and 276 schools, Houston Independent
    School District (HISD) will partner with the Consulate General of India (CGI)
    here for the Hindi Dual Language Immersion Programme.
  • Consul General Harish Parvathaneni expressed his readiness
    to assist HISD with teaching and curricular materials and with an ongoing
    partnership to provide appropriate cultural milieu to the students of the
    proposed programme.


Clemson University
honoured Ratan Tata with Doctorate of Automotive Engineering
  • Ratan Tata was honoured on 26 February 2015 with an honorary
    Doctorate of Automotive Engineering by the Clemson University at the South
    Carolina Automotive Summit.
  • He was awarded for his contributions to the global
    automotive industry. 
  • Ratan Tata is the ex-chairman of the Tata Group. He was
    named Chairman of Tata Industries In 1981, where he was responsible for
    transforming it into a group strategy think tank and a promoter of new ventures
    in high technology businesses.

Irom Sharmila gets
Sthree Shakti award

  • Activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on an indefinite fast
    since November 4, 2000, demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special
    Powers) Act, has been conferred with the Sthree Shakti award.
  • The award is in recognition of her extraordinary courage and
    determination, M.L. George, managing trustee of Smaraks Sthree Trust, Kochi,
    told reporters here on Tuesday.
  • She is also known as Iron Lady of Manipur.

Former Haryana CM
Hukam Singh Dead
  • Former Haryana Chief Minister Hukam Singh today passed away
    after a brief illness at a private hospital in Gurgaon. He was 89.
  • Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has expressed
    grief over the death of the leader. The state government has declared a holiday
    tomorrow to condole the death.
  • Singh was chief minister of the state in 1990-91. He had
    been elected MLA thrice from Charkhi Dadri before 1990.
  • The state government has declared three-day mourning
    starting today.

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February 26 Current Affairs
Railway Budget-2015

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