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Important Current Affairs of 15th March

NATIONAL:

Brookfield acquires RILs East West Pipeline

• India Infrastructure Trust, an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT), sponsored by Brookfield, will acquire the East West Pipeline for Rs. 3,000 crore.

• The pipeline is owned by Reliance Industries Ltd’s promoters’ family.  As a part of the transaction, the InvIT would acquire 100% equity interest in Pipeline Infrastructure Private Ltd. which currently owns and operates the pipeline.

• Following this acquisition by Brookfield, the existing pipeline usage agreement has been reworked.  Now, reserved capacity will be cut to 33 Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day (MMSCMD) against 56 MMSCMD and any unutilised capacity payment by RIL will be the difference between Rs.500 crore a quarter and actual revenue earned by PIPL.

DRDO successfully test fired Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile

• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) in the desert ranges of Rajasthan.

• The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) comes loaded with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead. It has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers. The indigenously developed missile has features like a state-of-the-art imaging infrared radar seeker with integrated avionics.

Arecanut Gets Its First GI Tag For Sirsi Supari

• Registrar of Geographical Indications, Government of India, accorded a GI tag, ‘Sirsi Supari’, to arecanut grown in Sirsi, Siddpaur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. The Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd, a Sirsi-based agri cooperative, is the registered proprietor of the GI ‘Sirsi Supari’.

NTPC partners with Indian Railways for fly ash transportation

• State-run National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) has teamed up with the Indian Railways for fly ash transportation. The partnership is to help enhance ash utilisation at Rihand and Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power plants.  NTPC had signed a memorandum of understanding with Hazipur-based East Central Railway Zone for transportation of fly ash under Indian Railways’ Special Freight Train Operator scheme.

IFFM to be from 29th March at Malappuram, Kerala

• The 77th International Film Festival of Malappuram (IFFM) organised by the Rasmi Film Society will be held at Malappuram, Kerala on March 29, 30 and 31. Actor Indrans will inaugurate the festival at the Municipal bus-stand auditorium, named after filmmaker Mrinal. Sen.V.C. Abhilash’s Aalorukkam will be the inaugural film. There will be 11 films in the World, Indian and Malayalam categories.

RInfra to sell Delhi-Agra Toll Road in Rs 3,600 crore deal

• Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has signed a "definitive binding agreement" with Singapore-based Cube Highways and Infrastructure for sale of its 100 per cent stake in Delhi-Agra (DA) Toll Road Pvt Ltd. The deal is valued over Rs 3,600 crore.

• In addition, NHAI claims of Rs 1,200 crore to be filed by DA Toll Road will flow directly to Reliance Infrastructure. DA Toll Road Pvt Ltd is the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of RInfra, which operates the 180 kilometre long six-lane road that connects the national capital with Agra on National Highway-2.

ECI to launch Observer App

• The Election Commission of India (ECI) is to launch the Observer App, a mobile application, that will help poll observers to submit reports.

•  The poll observers will get all the important notifications and alerts through the ‘Observer App’. It will also help them get their deployment status and download the ID card. As the observers will be involved in real-time disposal of cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure received through another mobile application ‘cVIGIL’, those details will also be available on the ‘Observer App’.

BANK AND ECONOMICS:

Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea.

• A new coin that features the Crimea or Kerch Strait Bridge released by Russia’s central bank, to mark Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Two million new five ruble (about $0.08, €0.07) coins were pressed which depict an outline of the peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

RBI categorises IDBI Bank as private sector lender

• IDBI Bank has been categorised as a private sector bank for regulatory purposes with effect from January 21, 2019.

• This follows  Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) acquiring 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank. In April 2005, IDBI Bank was categorised under a new sub-group, ‘other public sector banks,’ by the RBI.

• The Bank has a high proportion of bad loans. In another release, the RBI announced that the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will continue to be identified as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). D-SIB means that a bank is 'too big to fail'.

DAY:

World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March

• The consumer movement marks 15th March with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2019 is ‘Trusted Smart Products’.

• The day demands that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on 15th March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so.

• This World Consumers Rights Day highlights what consumers want and need from a connected world. This year over 100 members in over 90 countries are coming together to mark World Consumer Rights Day.

AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

M.R.Kumar takes charge as Chairman of LIC

• M.R.Kumar, the newly-appointed chairman of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), has taken charge on 14th March. Mr.Kumar took over from Hemant Bhargava who had been the acting chairman since January 2019. Mr.Kumar had joined LIC as a direct recruit officer in 1983.  The government had also named two MDs for LIC, Vipin Anand and T.C. Suseel Kumar.

Sweden's 16-year-old Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

• Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student and activist has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in climate activism and fighting global warming. She began her weekly protest in August 2018 by riding her bicycle to the Swedish Parliament with ''School strike for climate'' sign.

• The #FridaysForFuture movement went viral and spread over 80 countries. If she were to win, she would be the youngest recipient since Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region

• Social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, Padmanaban Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste named the winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region worth 3,000 Pounds at a ceremony at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He was given the honour for his work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger with his innovative system of recovering excess food to distribute to those in need. 

Army Chief Bipin Rawat conferred PVSM by President Kovind

• Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was conferred with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), the highest military medal award in recognition of peace-time service not accounting to gallantry, by President Ram Nath Kovind. President also awarded three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to armed forces personnel for displaying gallantry.

• Two Kirti Chakras were posthumously awarded to Sepoy Vramha Pal Singh of the Rajput Regiment and Rajendra Kumar Nain, a constable with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). A Shaurya Chakra was also posthumously awarded to Ravindra Dhanawade by the President, who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

Three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras awarded by the President to Army Personnel

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred 3 Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.  2 Kirti Chakras and 1 Shaurya Chakra were given posthumously. 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal and 25 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals were also conferred on senior officers of the Armed Forces for their distinguished service by the President.

INTERNATIONAL:

Special olympics World Game began in UAE

• Special Olympics World Games 2019 is held at Abu Dhabi, from March 14 to 21. The Games were declared open by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. There are 7,500 athletes from 190 countries taking part at the Games this year. Team India is the second largest contingent after the host UAE with 387 players, along with coaches and other staff. The Special Olympics takes place every two years and alternates between summer and winter.

UK removes cap on PhD level work visas

• U.K. announced in a Budget update, referred to as the annual Spring Statement, that from later this year all PhD-level highly-qualified roles will be exempt from any cap on the numbers that can apply and come to work in Britain.

• Indians are among the largest group of professionals set to benefit from a new U.K. government plan to remove any limit on the number of PhD-level work visas to be granted.  A key pillar of the plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming the economy. In Order to support that ambition, the country completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps.

Vienna topped the Most Liveable Cities index for the 10th year

• The Austrian capital Vienna has topped Mercer's index of most liveable cities for the 10th year in a row. Zurich in Switzerland, is placed second in the index, while Auckland, Munich and Vancouver came joint third. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu is ranked at 105 in Mercer's Quality Of Living Index and is the number one city from India.

• Luxembourg was named the safest city in a separate personal safety league table. Global consulting firm Mercer surveyed in 231 cities across the globe and were ranked them based on factors such as healthcare, education, public services, recreation, crime, housing and personal freedom. The ranking was based on data analysed between September and November 2018.

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Important Current Affairs of 10th March

NATIONAL:

Google launches 'Bolo' app to help children read in Hindi, English

• Google has launched a new app called Bolo, which aims to help students with their reading and comprehension skills and will help them read out aloud in English and in Hindi.

• The app features an animated character 'Diya', who encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word.

• Bolo will also be a free app and relies on Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.

Southern Railway gets a boost; Kerala to get a new coaching terminal in Nemom

• Minister of Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal laid the foundation stone for New Coaching Terminal at Nemom and unveiled WAP-7HS passenger locomotive through video conferencing here today. Shri Ghanshyam Singh, Member (Traction), Railway Board, Shri Rajesh Agarwal, Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board, Shri Vishwesh Chaubey, Member (Engineering), Railway Board and other Senior Railway Officers were present on this occasion.

• Shri Piyush Goyal said that the present Government has consistently focused on development for all areas in the country

• The main focus has been on large scale infrastructure creation both physical and social.

Telangana govt forms SIT to probe data theft case

• The Telangana government formed a Special Investments in-depth probe into the alleged electoral rolls data theft.

• The Telangana government formed a Special Investments in-depth probe into the alleged electoral rolls data theft.

• The SIT will have three IPS officers, two DSPs and a few instants A YSR Congress leader had lodged a complaint with the Cyberattack.

• YSRCP president YS Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that the TDP president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

Centre to launch work from home jobs in the IT sector

• The government is working on a scheme to push work-from-home jobs in the IT sector by offering financial incentives to both employees and employers. Incentivising work-from-home jobs through policy-level initiatives can help in creating jobs in the ITES domain while increasing the available talent pool for the sector.

• This will create employment opportunities in the IT/ITES industry, especially for women and differently-abled persons. Currently, the scheme is proposed for a three-year period till March 31, 2022, with an outlay of about Rs.270 crore to create about 50,000 work-from-home jobs.

• The initiative is likely to be launched as phase II of the IT Ministry’s India BPO Promotion Scheme that incentivises firms to set up operations in tier-2 and tier-3 cities in the country. The scheme, launched in 2016, had an outlay of about Rs. 500 crore with an objective to create about 1.45 lakh jobs.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

DBS plans to triple balance sheet size in 5 years as a WoS

• Singapore’s DBS Bank plans to grow its balance sheet size threefold in five years. DBS recently started operations in India as a wholly owned subsidiary (WoS). The bank is expected to close the financial year with a balance sheet size of Rs.50,000 crore.

• In 2018, the bank infused Rs.1,800 crore capital while transforming itself into a WoS. The total capital of the bank now stands at Rs.7,700 crore, with a capital adequacy ratio of more than 19%. The loan book, which is about Rs. 20,000 crore, is predominantly made up of corporate loans while the share of retail is less than 10%. The deposit base of the bank is about Rs. 30,000 crore.

• DBS aims to grow the retail so that it contributes 30% of the income and profitability over the next few years.

AWARDS AND PRIZES:

Arata Isozaki won Pritzker Architecture Prize

• Arata Isozaki, a prominent Japanese architect renowned for his versatility and transnational approach to design, has won his field's highest accolade, the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

• He is the 46th person and eighth Japanese architect to receive the Pritzker Prize.

President Ram Nath Kovind to give Nari Shakti awards on International Womens Day

• International Women’s Day is being observed on 08th March. Governments, NGOs and other organisations across the world observe the day on the 8th of March every year to highlight the achievements of women.

• The theme for this year’s women’s day is ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’.

• The purpose of the theme is to achieve gender equality by putting innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts.

RESIGNATION:

Kummanam Rajasekharan Resigns as Mizoram Governor

• Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan stepped down from his post. Governor of Assam, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, has been given temporary charge of the Aizawl Raj Bhavan.

• Mr. Rajasekharan, who was former State president of the BJP in Kerala, sworn in as Governor of Mizoram in May 2018.

INTERNATIONAL:

China hikes defence budget to USD 177.61 billion, turns second highest spender

• China has increased its defence budget by 7.5 per cent for this year, hiking it to USD 177.61 billion from last year's USD 175 billion.

• It is over three times India's defence budget.

• With this increase, China becomes the highest defence spender on defence after the United States.

• India's defence budget this year was increased by 6.87 per cent to Rs 3.18 lakh crore against last year's allocation of Rs 2.98 lakh crore.

France reiterates support for India’s permanent seat in reformed UNSC

• France, which assumed the March Presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), has reiterated its support for India as the permanent member of the powerful UN organ. It said that the UNSC’s enlargement is the first crucial part towards its reform.

• India has been calling for the reform of the UN Security Council along with Brazil, Germany, and Japan for long, emphasizing that it rightly deserves a place at the UN high table as a permanent member.

• It also stressed that the UN cannot be recognised as a centre of gravity for multilateralism throughout the world unless it can step up partnerships and focus should also be made on openness to civil society, business world, NGOs and trade unions, which are all stakeholders that breathe life into the UN.

SPORTS:

Yomif Kejelcha sets world indoor mile record with a time of 3min 47.01sec

• Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha smashed the world indoor mile record with a time of 3min 47.01sec at the Bruce Lehane Invitational in Boston. The 21-year-old broke a record of a mark of 3:48.45 set by Morocco's Hicham El Gerrouj on February 12, 1997.

• It was third time lucky for Kejelcha, who narrowly missed out on breaking world indoor records in his two previous races. He finished just 0.01 outside the world indoor mile record at the Millrose Games with a time of 3:48.46, and was then beaten to the world indoor 1,500m record in Birmingham one week later when compatriot Samuel Tefera won in 3:31.04.

EXTRAS:

HIV remission achieved via stem cell transplantation

• In a significant development, a person with HIV infection has been reported to be experiencing remission for the last 18 months after antiretroviral therapy (ART) was stopped following stem-cell transplantation in London. Remission is when HIV RNA (ribonucleic acid) is undetectable in blood. ART is used for treating HIV.

• The person with HIV was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, in 2012. To treat cancer, stem cells which give rise to blood cells were transplanted from a donor who had two mutant copies of a co-receptor for HIV infection. This exercise was carried out in London.  The co-receptor (CCR5) is used by the HIV virus to gain entry into host cells in humans. But a mutant does not allow the virus to enter the host cells and hence makes the person resistant to HIV infection.

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Important Current Affairs of 1st March

INTERNATIONAL:

India and Sweden intend to increase cooperation on AMR

• Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, who was on a visit to India from 22nd to 25th February 2019, met with Union Health Minister J P Nadda and discussed about Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) which poses a dangerous challenge globally.

• Anti-microbial drugs, when overused, AMR develops as microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungi that become resistant to drugs.

• India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health, in February 2009.

NITI Aayog partnered with Adobe to enhance digital literacy

• NITI Aayog's Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and software major Adobe has signed a Statement of Intent to collaboration enhancing digital literacy and creativity skills.

• Under the agreement, Adobe would implement the Adobe Digital Disha Programme across 100 schools under Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative. Teachers and Children across these 100 schools would benefit from the creative learning resources via free access to Adobe Spark premium.

Tamil Nadu is the first State in the country to introduce TAVI

• Tamil Nadu is the first State in the country to introduce Tran’s catheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) in the government sector. The TAVI was launched at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital (TNGMSSH), Omandurar Estate, in November 2018.

• Tamil Nadu State government entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Heart Team India to perform the procedure for patients at the TNGMSSH. The procedure costs Rs.20 lakh to Rs.25 lakh in the private sector, while it is done free in the government sector.

• Conventionally, open heart surgery is performed for replacing the aortic valve for treating aortic stenosis. But not all patients such as the elderly are fit to undergo open heart surgery. This is where TAVI helps as in this procedure the valve is replaced through a keyhole procedure from the groin.

Government may offer up to Rs 2.5 lakh subsidy for 60,000 e-cars

• To promote green fuel in India via a Rs 10,000-crore package, government has reportedly proposed a subsidy of up to 2.5 lakh on around 60,000 electric cars in India, whereas hybrid cars may get 20,000 over the next three years.

• For electric buses, the subsidy would be up to Rs 60 lakh.

• This subsidy will come into effect in April.

Punjab Govt seeks Rs 412 crore for dam to stop water to Pakistan

• Punjab government has urged the central government to release Rs 412 crore for the construction of a dam at Makora Pattan on the confluence of Ravi and Ujh rivers in Gurdarpur district by considering it as a national project for stopping India’s river water flow into Pakistan.

• The construction of the dam at Makora Pattan would stop about 600 cusecs of river water flowing into Pakistan and Punjab could use this water for irrigation purposes.

• With this project, Punjab government would also be able to provide clean drinking water to 100 villages and six townships.

New railway zone, named Southern Coast Railway to be headquartered in Visakhapatnam

• Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh.

• Railway, which will be headquartered in Visakhapatnam, will be the 18th zone in the country.

• The new zone will comprise the existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions that currently fall under the South Central Railway.

POLICY:

Cabinet approved the National Mineral Policy 2019 on 28th February

• The Union Cabinet approved the National Mineral Policy 2019 on 28th February 2019. The policy is aimed at bringing about more effective regulation to the sector as well as a more sustainable approach while addressing the issues of those affected by mining.

• The policy will also provide a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation, and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.

• It also aims to increase the share of Indian software products in global market by tenfold, pitches for nurturing of 10,000 technology start-ups in software product industry, including 1,000 such startups in tier-II and tier-III towns.

Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Software Products

• The Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Software Products 2019 that aims to help the industry grow at CAGR of 40% to reach $70-80 billion by 2025 while creating employment opportunities for 3.5 million people.

• The policy aims to adopt a shift in strategy so that IT products also contribute equitably and significantly to the industry along with IT services. The government’s initial outlay of Rs.1, 500 crore is being planned for various schemes under in policy in the next seven years.

• Further, the policy proposes to create a Rs.5, 000 crore fund with industry participation to promote emerging technology such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Block chain, Big Data, and robotics. Of this, government contribution will be Rs.1, 000 crore.

SCHEME:

HRD launched STARS scheme on 28th February

• The Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar launched the STARS scheme on National Science Day that is 28th February. STARS are abbreviated as Scheme for Translational and Advanced Research in Science.

• The Ministry has allocated Rs.250 crores for the implementation of the scheme. Under the scheme 500 science projects will be funded whose selection will be made based on competition. Indian Institute of Science (IISC) will be the coordinator of the scheme.

HRD Ministry Launches SHREYAS Scheme

• Union Human Resources Development Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar, launched the “Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS)”.

• Main aim to provide industry apprenticeship opportunities to the general graduates exiting in April 2019 through the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) in New Delhi.

• The program will enhance the employability of Indian youth by providing ‘on the job work exposure’ and earning of stipend.

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

India and Brunei signed an agreement to exchange information on tax and banking matters

• India and Brunei signed a pact for exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection with respect to taxes in order to curb tax evasion and tax avoidance in New Delhi.

• This agreement will facilitate both the countries to exchange information, including banking and ownership information for tax purposes and will also avail mutual assistance in collection of tax revenue claims.

AWARDS:

Mahesh Elkunchwar is to receive META Lifetime Achievement Award.

• Mahesh Elkunchwar, an eminent Indian playwright, has been chosen for Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.

• The award would be conferred on March 12 during the Mahindra Theater Festival.

• Mahesh Elkunchwar is regarded as one of the progressive playwrights of the country and is critically-acclaimed and widely-known for having experimented with a wide range of drama and is considered a powerful force in both Indian and Marathi theatre scene. He has over 30 plays and essays to his credit including works like 'Sultan', 'Holi', 'Garbo', Yatanaghar', and 'Atmakatha'.

CZPDC Bhopal And WZPDC Indore Honoured With Saubhagya Award

• The Central Zone Power Distribution Company (CZPDC), Bhopal and West Zone Power Distribution Company (WZPDC),

• Indore was conferred with the “Saubhagya Award” under Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana at the National Conference of Energy Ministers by the Union Minister of State for Energy, R.K. Singh.

INTERNATIONAL:

India and Sweden intend to increase cooperation on AMR.

• Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, who was on a visit to India from 22nd to 25th February 2019, met with Union Health Minister J P Nadda and discussed about Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) which poses a dangerous challenge globally.

• Anti-microbial drugs, when overused, AMR develops as microorganisms such as bacteria, virus and fungi that become resistant to drugs.

• India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health, in February 2009.

International Digital Health Symposium inaugurated by Anupriya Patel in New Delhi

• Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Smt. Anupriya Patel inaugurated the International Digital Health Symposium and an exhibition on Digital Health as a part of the Symposium at New Delhi.

SUMMITS:

The 4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit held at New Delhi.

• The 4th Global Digital Health Partnership Summit being held at New Delhi was inaugurated by the Union Health Minister J P Nadda in the presence of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad Union Minister of Information Technology. The summit provides an opportunity to support governments and health system reformers in improving the health and well-being of their citizens through digital technologies.

• The Global Digital Health Partnership Summit is being hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP).

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Important Current Affairs 28th February 2019

National :        

Piyush Goyal launched 'Rail Drishti Dashboard' To Track Train Information.

• Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal has launched Rail Drishti dashboard, to promote transparency and accountability of Indian Railways.

• Rail Drishti Dashboard is an online portal containing information related to passenger and freight trains and links to live feeds of IRCTC kitchens.

First Indian made Centaur rocket was successfully launched at Thumb, Kerala.

• The first Indian-made Centaur rocket was successfully launched from the Thumba equatorial rocket station, Kerala on 26th February 2019 to the great jubilation of a large number of scientists.

• Dr.Vikram Sarabhai, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Indian National Committee for Space Research, described that the flight of the two-stage sounding rocket as very satisfactory

• It was a hailed as a momentous event. India is now on the path to long-range development of superior rockets, which will take us to the goal of satellite launching in five years.

Centre brought 42 nonscheduled cancer drugs under price control.

• Centre announced that it had brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30%,which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85%.

• The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, (DPCO) 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control through trade margin rationalization. Department of Pharmaceuticals (DOP) directed manufacturers to fix their retail price based on the price at first point of sale of a product of the non-scheduled formulations containing any of the 42 drugs.

• The NPPA currently fixes prices of drugs placed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under Schedule-I of the DPCO. So far, around 1,000 drugs have been brought under price control under the initiative. Non-scheduled drugs are allowed an increase of up to 10% in prices every year, which is monitored by the NPPA.

Union Textile Minister inaugurated Titanwala Museum in Rajasthan.

• Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani inaugurated the ‘Titanwala Museum’ that showcases the hand block printing of the Chhipa community in Bagru.

• Bagru printing is one of the traditional techniques of printing with natural color followed by the chippas of Rajasthan.

• Suraj Narayan Titanwala took the initiative of setting up the museum.

India has successfully tested fired 2 indigenously developed QRSAM.

•  India has successfully test-fired two indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles (QRSAM) from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha's Balasore district.

• The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars. QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant.

•  The missile is an all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic countermeasures against jamming by aircraft radars

• QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km

• QRSAM has been developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in association with Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited as a replacement to Osa-AK and Kvadrat missile systems.

Mukesh Ambani becomes world's 8th richest with USD 54 bn wealth.

• As per Hurun Global Rich List 2019, Reliance Industries' 61-year-old Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the world's eighth-richest person with a net worth of $54 billion.

• He is the only Asian among the top 10.

• Amazon's Jeff Bezos topped the list for the second consecutive year with a net worth of USD 147 billion.

• With a wealth of USD 96 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranks second, followed by Warren Buffett with net worth of USD 88 billion.

Govt detects Rs 20,000 crore GST evasions in April-Feb FY19.

• The government detected Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion of around Rs 20,000 crore between April 2018 and February 2019.

• Out of this, 10,000 crore has been recovered.

• Currently, GST has 4-tier slab of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent, while essential items are zero rated.

DAC approved purchase of defense equipment worth Rs 2,700 crore

• Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) granted approval for procurement of three cadet training ships for the Indian Navy, which would be utilized to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including women officer under trainees.

• DAC meeting was chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

• DAC is the highest decision-making body for defense purchases.

 LAUNCHES:

Assam Launches PRANAM Commission To Protect Parents Of State Government Employees

•  28 February 2019 Current Affairs: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the PRANAM Commission, which is a panel set up to look after the issues concerning a Bill brought in for the protection of parents of state government employees.

Dr. H Chaturvedi’s Book On Quality, Accreditation & Ranking Launched In New Delhi

• 8 February 2019 Current Affairs: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu launched the book titled ‘Quality, Accreditation, and Ranking – A Silent Revolution in the Offing in Indian Higher Education’

• The book is edited by Education Promotion Society for India’s (EPSI) Alternate President Dr. H Chaturvedi in New Delhi.

• On this occasion, the UGC Chairman, Dr. DP Singh, and Management Guru Padma Shri Dr. Pritam Singh were present as the guest of honor.

ISRO to launch defense satellite 'Emisat' in March for DRDO.

• In the special mission, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will also launch 28 third-party satellites and will demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of 'Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle' (PSLV) rocket in March, 2019.

• Electronic intelligence satellite 'Emisat' of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) weighs about 420 kg.

• After launching Emisat at an altitude of 763 km, the PSLV rocket will be brought down to put the remaining 28 satellites into orbit at an altitude of 504 km.

SCHEMES:

Karnataka launched a major water conservation scheme Jalamrutha.

• Karnataka State government launched a major water conservation scheme titled‘Jalamrutha’, which focuses on drought-proofing measures, including protection and rejuvenation of water bodies. The scheme was initiated by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and was cleared by the State Cabinet. Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy launched the scheme in Bengaluru.

• Jalamrutha will deploy scientific approaches to water budgeting, water harvesting, and water conservation through the use of geospatial data, satellite imagery, topographical and geological data.

• The scheme will be implemented by key line departments of the government, Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private sector institutions. It will operate on a four-tier institutional structure with planning and execution committees being set up at village, taluk, district and State levels.

MCCs budget includes Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme

• The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) presented the budget with an outlay of Rs.775 crore for the year 2019-20. MCC introduced new schemes that included Rs.25, 000 for each girl child born in government hospitals in the City, pink toilets for the benefit of women, besides placing dust bins in buses and autorickshaws

• Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Taxation, Finance and Appeals, Shobha presented the MCC Budget 2019-20. She announced the Mysuru Yogalakshmi scheme for the benefit of girl children born to residents of the city in government hospitals. The scheme will come into force from April 1, 2019.

• Under the scheme, Rs.25, 000 will be deposited in the form of a bond in a nationalized bank in the name of each girl child born in a government facility. Rs.2.5 crore has been set aside in the Budget for the scheme. The scheme aimed at helping the girls pursue higher education and become financially independent.

 APPOINTMENTS:

Govind Prasad Sharma is appointed as the Chairman of NBT

• Educationist and Author Govind Prasad Sharma has been appointed as the Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT). Govind Prasad Sharma has served as the Principal of Government P.G. College in Madhya Pradesh and in other Educational sectors previously.

• National Book Trust National Book Trust (NBT) is an apex body established by the Government of India in the Year 1957 under the Department Of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

AWARDS:

Telanganas 4 ULBs bagged Swachh Survekshan 2019 awards.

• Telangana’s four Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) bagged Swachh Survekshan-2019 awards. Siddipet, Sircilla, Boduppal, and Peerzadiguda are the four Urban Local Bodies. The awards would be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind and others at a ceremony to be held in Delhi on March 6.

• Every year, cities and towns across India are awarded the title of 'Swachh Cities' on the basis of their cleanliness and sanitation drive as a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that was launched in 2014. 

• The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation, ensure sustainability of initiatives taken towards garbage free and open defecation free cities, provide credible outcomes which would be validated by third-party certification, institutionalize existing systems through online processes and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in.

INTERNATIONAL:

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un held second summit in Vietnam

• US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un have begun their high-profile second summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.

• The main focus of the summit is to discuss denuclearization amid claims from Michael Cohen ahead of public hearing.

• US may announce a formal end to the Korean War during the summit.

Muhammadu Buhari re-elected as Nigerian President.

• Buhari, of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, secured 56 percent, or 15.2 million votes, in the February 23 polls.

• His main opponent, former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), received 41 percent or 11.3 million votes.

• Muhammadu Buhari, 76-year-old, has been re-elected for a second four-year term.

• He was first elected president in 2015, becoming the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent and win the presidency.

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Important Current Affairs 23th February 2019

APPOINTMENTS:

Uma Nath Singh: 1st Lokayukta of Nagaland.

• Justice Uma Nath Singh took oath as the First Lokayukta of Nagaland on February 22, 2019.

• Governor PB Acharya administered the oath of office to Justice Singh at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Kohima.

Lt Gen Ravi: 3rd member of CoA.

• The Supreme Court appointed Lieutenant General Ravi Thodge as the 3rd member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) for BCCI.

• In 2017, the apex court had appointed a 4-member CoA, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai.

• The other 3 members of the CoA were -- former Indian women cricket captain Diana Edulji, Ramachandra Guha and Vikram Limaye.

D.K. Jain appointed as BCCI Ombudsman.

• The Supreme Court appointed retired judge of the court Justice D.K. Jain as the first BCCI ombudsman.

• He was appointed under the new BCCI Constitution approved on August 9, 2018.

AWARDS AND HONORS:

PM Modi received Seoul Peace Prize 2018.

• PM Narendra Modi received the prestigious Seoul Peace Prize for 2018 for his contribution to international cooperation and fostering global economic growth.

• The award was presented to him by the Seoul Peace Prize Foundation at a grand ceremony.

• A short film on the life and achievements of Prime Minister Modi was also screened at the event.

POLITY:

President promulgated 4 Ordinances.

• President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated 4 Ordinances on 21 Feb 2019.

a.         Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance

b.         Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Second Ordinance

c.         Companies (Amendment) Second Ordinance

d.         Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance, 2019

NATIONAL:

Waste to Wonder' Park inaugurated.

• The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the “Waste to Wonder” Park under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in New Delhi on 21 Feb, 19.

• He also lauded SDMC for improving its rank from 202 to 32 in Swachh Sarvekshan, 2018 ranking.

• Some of the main attractions of the “Seven Wonders Park” are the different sized tall replicas of Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid of Giza, etc.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Scheme for adolescent girls launched in UP.

• UP CM, Yogi Adityanath launched a scheme for girls on 21 February 2019.

• It will focus on girls aged between 11 to 14 years who have left studies and will take steps for proper nutrition and special care for them.

• The state will also observe girls day on 8th of every month at Anganwadi centers across the state.

SPORTS:

ISSF Shooting World Cup held.

• The ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation) World Cup 2019 began in New Delhi on February 21, 2019.

• Various events in the World cup will start from February 23rd and end on 27th at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

• Around 503 shooters from 58 countries will be competing for top honours with 8 of the 10 events offering Olympic quota places.

India Korea start up hub launched.

• PM Narendra Modi launched India Korea start up hub in Seoul on Feb 21, 2019.

• India is one of the most open countries for FDI today and more than 90% of its sectors are now on automatic route for approval.

• India has become the 6th largest producer of renewable energy in the world, as said by PM Modi during the launch.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:

China unveiled first female AI news anchor.

• China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, unveiled the world's first female AI news anchor (Xin Xiaomeng ) to read alongside its male AI news presenters on Feb 21, 2019.

• Earlier, Xinhua also developed Qiu Hao, the world’s first male AI news anchor at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen held in November 2018.

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Important Current Affairs 13th February 2019

NATIONAL NEWS

2019 Asia LPG Summit held in New Delhi

Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for petroleum and natural gas, inaugurated the 2019 Asia LPG summit in New Delhi. The summit has been organized jointly by the major Indian oil marketing companies (OMCs) Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleumtogether with the World LPG Association (WLPGA) at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi.

  • This two-day event will focus on ‘LPG – Energy for Life.’ India is the 2nd largest consumer of liquified natural gas (LPG) in the world.

Cabinet approves establishment of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a proposal seeking the establishment of ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ to conserve, protect and develop India’s cattle population. The proposal was first made by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal while presenting the interim Budget on February 1.

  • The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog will work in collaboration with veterinary, animal sciences or agriculture universities, departments or organisations of the central/state government engaged in the task of research in the field of breeding and rearing of cows, organic manure, and biogas.
  • The creation of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog for the conservation, protection, and development of cows and their progeny will provide the policy framework and direction to the cow conservation and development programmes in the country and for ensuring proper implementation of laws with respect to the welfare of cows.

Government approves setting up of 12,000 MW solar power projects

The government approved a proposal for setting up of 12,000 MW of solar power projects by state-run producers. The producers will be provided with a viability gap funding support of Rs 8,580 crore for self-use or use by both central and state government entities.

  • The CCEA decided that 12,000 MW or more of grid connected solar PV power projects would be set up by government producers in 4 years i.e. 2019-20 to 2022-23, thereby creating investment of about Rs 48,000 crores.

Smriti Irani launches India Size project in Mumbai

Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani launched the India Size project in Mumbai. A first-of-its-kind project in the history of the country, India Size aims to arrive at a standard Indian Size for the ready-to-wear clothing industry, on the lines of the standardized sizes available in countries such as the USA and the UK.

  • India size project will benefit manufacturers, consumers and generate data which will help tap into the potential of the sector. The Minister also launched a Study of Apparel Consumption in India. The report of this study would be ready for release by July 2019.

Maharashtra govt sets up panel to review welfare schemes for tribals

The Maharashtra government has set up a committee to review various schemes being implemented for the welfare of tribals in the state. The 17-member committee, headed by former MLA and Shramjeevi Sanghatna president Vivek Pandit, will undertake study of various works done for providing employment opportunities, minimum wages and proper livelihood to tribals, as per a recent government order.

  • It will suggest measures to ensure that children in tribal regions were not deprived of education.

♦ Industrial production grows at 2.4% in December 2018

  • Industrial output growth remained subdued at 2.4% in December 2018 on account of contraction in the mining segment and poor show by the manufacturing sector.
  • Factory output as measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had grown by 7.3% in December 2017, according to the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on February 12.
  • The industrial growth for November 2018 was revised downwards to 0.3% from the provisional estimate of 0.5% released in January 2019.
  • During April-December 2018, industrial output grew at 4.6% against 3.7% in the same period of the previous fiscal.

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♦ Kusum Scheme to Promote Use of Solar Energy Among Farmers Under Considration

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has formulated a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’. The Scheme is currently under the process of seeking approval.
  • The proposal on KUSUM Scheme provides for :-

(i)   installation of grid-connected solar power plants each of Capacity up to 2 MW in the rural areas;

(ii)   installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid; and

(iii)   solarisation of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM and get extra income.

♦ PM to address CREDAI YouthCon-19 Today

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, will address the CREDAI YouthCon -19, on 13 February 2019, at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. The event is organized by the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI).
  • The Prime Minister will also visit the exhibition organized by CREDAI.
  • YouthCon is the annual Youth Conclave of CREDAI, held to bring together the future of the real estate Industry in India.
  • Established in 1999, CREDAI is the apex body representing real-estate developers from over 200 cities in India.

♦ NITI Aayog signs SOI with MSDF to document Systemic Transformation in Education

  • The NITI Aayog and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) today signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) to codify, document and share best practices to improve learning outcomes in public school education through systemic reforms, based on their collective experiences of working with various state governments in India.
  • The SOI was signed in the presence of Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, by Mr. Alok Kumar, Adviser (HRD), NITI Aayog and Mr. BarunMohanty, Managing Director (International), MSDF.
  • The NITI Aayog was established with the core mandate of promoting cooperative and competitive federalism through evidence-based policy reform and knowledge inputs. Since its inception, NITI Aayog has placed learning outcomes as a key focus area for establishing sustainable education systems.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NATO’s 70th anniversary meeting to be held in UK in December

NATO’s next meeting of Heads of State and Government will take place in London this December, marking the 70th anniversary of the military pact. Stoltenberg also highlighted that London was home to NATO’s first headquarters, adding that the UK is one of the alliance’s 12 founding members.

  • Extra info.:
    NATO Members: 29
    Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium

Macedonia signs accord to join NATO

Macedonia signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance.

  • The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia’s name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.
  • Extra info.:
    Macedonia Capital: Skopje
    Currency: Macedonian denar

♦ Fifth International Dam Safety Conference to be Held on 13-14 February at Bhubaneswar

  • The 5th International Dam Safety Conference–2019 is being held during 13 and 14 February 2019 in Bhubaneswar as a joint initiative of the Government of India, Government of Odisha and the World Bank under aegis of the ongoing World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) as a part of institutional strengthening.
  • Dam Safety Conferences are being organized as an annual event in different DRIP States in collaboration with the Implementing Agencies and leading academic institutes to provide a common platform for all stakeholders including non-DRIP States. Dam professionals, academicians, scientists, as well as industries both from within the country and from around the world to deliberate on all aspects related to dam safety and the solutions that worked best in addressing dam safety concerns.

♦ UAE introduces Hindi as third official language

  • While praising the decision of the UAE court, External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj in a tweet said, “We thank Abu Dhabi for declaring Hindi as one of the official languages in their judicial system. This will make the justice delivery system simpler and more accessible to our people.”

Indians, reportedly form the largest immigrant community in the UAE, with more than three million living in Dubai. The landmark decision undertaken by the judicial department will benefit a major chunk of workers, who mostly come from Hindi speaking regions of central and north India, Gulf News reported

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

RBI Policy full text: MPC cuts repo rate by 25 bps to 6.25%

On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 6.5 per cent to 6.25 per cent with immediate effect.

  • Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.5 per cent. The MPC also decided to change the monetary policy stance from calibrated tightening to neutral.

Awards and Honors

  • Pat Cummins won the coveted Allan Border Medal at the Australian Cricket Awards on 11 Feb 2019.
  • Glenn Maxwell took the T20I award and Matthew Wade bagged the Domestic Player of the Year award
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Important Current Affairs 12th February 2019

NATIONAL NEWS

PM Modi Inaugurates Visakhapatnam Strategic Petroleum Reserve Facility.


•     Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the 13.3 million metric ton capacity Visakhapatnam Strategic Petroleum Reserve facility at Guntur in Andhra Pradesh
•    He also inaugurated Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited’s Vashishta and S1 development project located in the Krishna-Godavari Offshore Basin.
•    Mr. Modi also laid the foundation stone for setting up of a new terminal of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) at Krishnapatnam.


Centre allocates Rs 59 crore for Asiatic Lion conservation in Gujarat's Gir.


•    The Ministry of Environment launched a three-year Asiatic Lion Conservation Project in collaboration with the state of Gujarat. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) allocated Rs 59 crores, which will focus on better management of the lion habitat, disease control and veterinary care for them.
•    Gujarat government also implemented Rs 80 crore that will be spent on specialised veterinary hospitals and full-fledged ambulances for lions.


Himalayan Cloud Observatory Set Up In Tehri.
•    A Himalayan Cloud Observatory is set up in Tehri district of Uttarakhand with a motive to forecast and monitor cloudburst incidents in the Himalayan region and help to minimize the damage.
•    The Observatory is established in the SRT campus, in Tehri and is in the testing period. This is the second observatory in the country to monitor cloud activities by the Indian Science and Technology Department and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur that can function in high-altitudes.

 Great Indian Bustard Announced As The New Mascot For COP-13.
•    Union Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, announced the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) as the mascot for the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) to be held in Gujarat in 2020. He also revealed that the bird has been fondly named by the ministry as 'Gibi'.
•    CMS-COP 13 is a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory species and their habitats. It has over 120 participating countries.

 Dharmendra Pradhan Inaugurated 13th PETROTECH 2019 In Greater Noida.
•    The 13th International Oil and Gas Conference – PETROTECH – 2019 got underway at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida. Over 95 Energy Ministers from partner countries are expected to participate in the three day Conference.
•    The theme of the conference is 'Collaborating For Sustainable and Secure Energy Access for all'. 

 Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Lays Foundation Stone of Mega Food Park in Mathura.
•    Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal laid the foundation stone of a Mega Food Park at Chhata-Barsana road in Mathura. The Park will provide direct and indirect employment to five thousand persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers.
•    The Mega Food Park is being set up in over 57 acre of land at a cost of around 121 crore rupees. The Centre has also approved financial assistance of 50 crore rupees to the project. 

MOU Signed Between EIL and Mongolia for Project Management Consultancy for Oil refinery.
•    A MoU was signed between Engineers India Limited (EIL) and Mongolia for Project Management Consultancy for oil refinery. EIL is a PSU under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. 
•    The agreement was signed on the sidelines of PETROTECH-2019 event at Greater Noida, UP. The MoU is for Project Management Consultancy services for construction of an oil refinery plant in Mongolia by EIL. 

INTERNATIONAL

ADB Debuts in Offshore Philippine Peso Bond Market.
•     The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised 5.2204 billion Philippine pesos ($100 million) from a new issue of local currency bonds in the international market. Currency-linked bonds are denominated in the local currency but settled in US dollars. 
•    The bonds pay a fixed interest rate of 5.25% and have a final maturity of 4 years. ADB issued bonds in the Philippine domestic capital market in 2005 and 2007 but this issue is the first time it has mobilized Philippine peso funding from international investors through a currency-linked structure.

INS Trikand Participates In Exercise ‘Cut class Express 2019’.
•    INS Trikand, the frontline warship of the Indian Navy, participated in a multi-national training exercise ‘CUTCLASS EXPRESS 2019’. The annual Exercise Cutlass Express is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and conducted by Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF).
•    It is the eighth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise and was held in the vicinity of Djibouti, Mozambique and Seychelles.

Hindi Included As 3rd Official Court Language in Abu Dhabi.
•    Abu Dhabi has decided to include Hindi as the third official languageused in its courts, alongside Arabic and English, as part of a move designed to improve access to justice.
•    The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) announced that it has extended the adoption of interactive forms of statement of claims filed before courts by including Hindi.


Multinational Maritime Exercise ‘Aman 19’ Commenced In Karachi.
•    The 5-day multinational maritime exercise ‘AMAN-19’ in which 46nations participated from all over the world was formally commenced at Pakistan Navy Dockyard, with a colorful flag hoisting ceremony.
•    Principal aim to conduct this exercise is to facilitate a forum of understanding of each other’s maritime concepts and operation cultures and to produce ways and means to confront common threat at sea.


AWARDS

Yes Bank Wins The Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018.
•    Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 announced Yes Bank as the winner in ‘Innovation in Data Science’ category for their industry-first project ‘Yes EEE (Engage Enrich Excel)’ at Panaji, Goa.
•    It was hosted by the Government of Goa. Aegis Graham Bell Awards (AGBA) Promotes innovations and entrepreneurship in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) domain.

BAFTA Awards 2019 Announced: Complete List Of Winners.
•    Netflix drama 'Roma' won the top prize at the 72nd edition of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts or BAFTA awards. 
•    However, with seven BAFTAs in its kitty, director Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite emerged the top winner in 2019.

Deepa Mehta to Be Feted With Lifetime Achievement Award.
•     Acclaimed Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Mehta is best known for her Elements Trilogy - 'Fire', 'Earth' and 'Water'.
•    The Canadian Screen Awards are awards given annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television recognizing excellence in Canadian film, English-language television, and digital media productions.

Grammy Awards 2019 Announced: Complete List of Winners.
•    The 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held at Staples Center in Los Angeles. 
•     The show was hosted by Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys.

Appointments:


Ruchira Kamboj Appointed India's Ambassador to Bhutan.
•    Ruchira Kamboj was appointed as the Ambassador of India to Bhutan. She is serving as the High Commissioner of India to South Africa since 2017.
•    Kamboj has previously served as the Ambassador/PR to Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO, Paris.


Egypt’s President El-Sissi Elected as Chairman of African Union.
•    Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been elected as the chairman of the African Union at the continental body’s summit in Ethiopia.
•    El-Sisi’s election brings an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.


BANKING

RBI Doubles The Limit Of Bulk Deposits From Rs. 1 Crore To Rs 2 Crore.
•     Reserve Bank of India decided to treat deposits to over Rs.2 crore as ‘bulk’ as they doubled the limit for the same from the earlier Rs.1crore.This move will enhance the operational freedom of Banks.
•    According to current RBI rules, last reviewed in January 2013, banks have the option of not permitting premature withdrawals of ‘large rupee term deposits’ of INR 1 crore and above. National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies Limited (NAFCUB)has suggested this proposal.

SPORTS

Corentin Moutet Clinched Chennai Open ATP Challenger Title.
•     In Tennis, France’s Corentin Moutet has clinched the Chennai Open ATP Challenger tournament title after beating Andrew Harris of Australia in the singles final.
•    It was the second Challenger title for Moutet, who received 80 ATP points, while Andrew got 48 ATP points.

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Important Current Affairs 10th February 2019

NATIONAL


Great Indian Bustard (GIB) announced as the new mascot for the 13th UN Convention on the CMS COP-13.
•    Union Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, on Friday announced the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) as the mascot for the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) to be held in Gujarat in 2020.The Government also launched a website for the COP-13.
•    CMS-COP 13 is a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory species and their habitats. It has over 120 participating countries. So far, 12 COPs (Conference of Parties) have been convened.
•     COP-13 will be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 15 – 22 February, 2020

Union Minister Suresh Prabhu launches two schemes in Mumbai.
•    On February 9, 2019, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu launched two schemes, the Hirkani Maharashtra chi and District Business Plan Competition in Mumbai.
•    OVER VIEW OF SCHEMES:
    Under Hirkani Maharashtra chi, women’s SHGs will display their business plan at taluka level. Ten groups will be selected from each taluka and Rs. 50,000 will be given to each SHG to implement their idea. Five SHGs at district level will be selected and Rs. 2 lakh will be given to each SHG to take the idea forward.
    Under District Business Plan Competition, competitors at district level will display ideas, out of which five ideas will be selected from agriculture, social service, education and Work order worth Rs. 5 lakh will be given to the 5 selected ideas to implement the same.

Health Ministry conducts 8th round of National Deworming Day campaign.
•    On February 8,2019,The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) conducted its eighth round of National Deworming Day (NDD) with an objective to reduce the prevalence of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or parasitic intestinal worms so that there will be no longer be public health problem.
•    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) envisioned an open-defecation-free India which holds the capacity to reduce the overall worm burden in a community.


 Voter verification and Information Programme was launched by Election Commission.
•    On 8th February 2019, Election Commission of India (ECI) launched a Voter Verification and Information Programme (VVIP) for citizens to verify their details, change the details, new registration and corrections. The programme focus on 2019 General Election.
•    The ECI has set up helpline centres in all districts in India. The voter helpline number is 1950 and they are well equipped with to help callers with latest information.
•     VVIP technology was launched during 2day training cum workshop on the use of Information and Communication Technology which was held in New Delhi.
•    ECI also launched a ‘PwD app’ to enable Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to request to change in address, change in particulars and new registration by using mobile application.
•     Voter Helpline app was also launched which will help voters to check their names in electoral roll, submit online forms, application status checking and complaints filing.

Two day Bengal Global Summit held in Kolkata.
•    On February 7, 2019, the fifth edition of West Bengal Global Business Summit was inaugurated by state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. It is a two day summit held in Rajarhat, Kolkata.
•    West Bengal bagged over Rs. 40,000 crore worth of investment proposals from Reliance, Group, ITC and others multinational companies on the first day of the business summit.
•     The summit came to an end with West Bengal government signing 86 agreements entailing business proposals worth 2.84 lakh crore.
•    West Bengal with a Gross State Domestic Product of USD 155.32 billion is the 4th largest contributor to India’s GDP and 6th contributor to India’s manufacturing GDP.

Assam’s Finance Minister presented 1,193 crore Deficit Budget.
•    Assam’s Finance Minister, Himanta Biswas has presented the fourth Deficit Budget of the state for the fiscal year 2019-20 in the legislative assembly which amounts to 1,193 crore.
•    This budget is the 2nd digital budget of the state
•    The total revenue of the budget in comparison with previous has increased by 20% and the total expenditure has crossed 70,000 crore.
•    The budget mainly focuses on dimensions of social security and capital expenditure.
•    Brides will be given one tola gold belonging to families having income of less than Rs. 5 lakh per annum.
•    Students who passes in 12th class examination with first division will be given e-bike
•    Widows below 45 years will be given immediate support of Rs. 25,000.
•    Rice would be sold at Rs.1 per kg to benefit poor families.
 

INTERNATIONAL


Multinational Maritime Exercise ‘Aman 19’ commenced in Karachi.
•    The 5-day multinational maritime exercise ‘AMAN-19’ in which 46 nations participated from all over the world was formally commenced at Pakistan Navy Dockyard, with a colourful flag hosting ceremony.
•    Pakistan’s Naval Chief, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi welcomed the participations of Exercise AMAN-19, the 6th episode of the AMAN initiative.
•    Principal aim to conduct this exercise is to facilitate a forum of understanding of each other’s maritime concepts and operation cultures and to produce ways and means to confront common threat at sea.
•    Commander Pakistan fleet, Vice Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi genially welcomed the eminent participating nations for a mutual resolve with motto “Together for Peace”.
•    The exercise will have 2 phases- Harbour phase and sea phase.
 

BANKING AND FINANCE


Asian Development Bank raised $100 million in international market.
•    On 8th February 2019, The Asian Development Bank raised $100 million from peso-linked bonds in the international market. It was their maiden issue of Philippine peso.
•    The move will help to reduce foreign exchange risk for ADB’s borrowers and support its growing local currency lending operations in Philippines.
•    J P Morgan was the sole lead manager and bonds were fully placed with institutional investors in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
•    Earlier in 2005 and 2007 ADB issued bond in the Philippine domestic capital market but it was the first time to mobilize Philippine peso funding from international investors through a currency linked structure.
•    ADB is an international development finance institution and a regional development bank with a motto to fighting poverty in Asia and the Pacific.


RBI Doubles the limit of bulk deposits from Rs. 1 crore to Rs 2 Crore.
•    On 7th February 2019, Reserve Bank of India decided to treat deposits to over Rs.2 crore as ‘bulk’ as they doubled the limit for the same from the earlier Rs.1crore. This move will enhance operational freedom of Banks.
•     RBI also proposed banks would maintain their bulk deposits interest rate cards in the core banking system for supervisory review.
•    The right to offer differential rate of interest in bulk deposits as per their requirements and Asset Liability Management (ALM) projections is vested with banks.
•     For a similar maturity period interest rate on bulk deposits are marginally higher than smaller amount fixed deposits.
•    National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies Limited (NAFCUB) has suggested this proposal.
•    The decision in proposal for setting up an Umbrella Organization (UO) for urban cooperative banks in pending with RBI.


RBI fines Allahabad Bank Rs 1.5 crore for not monitoring fund use, fraud reporting delay.
•    On Feb. 8 2019, Allahabad Bank said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1.5 crore on them for not monitoring end use of funds, delay in classification and reporting of fraud and non-adherence with RBI guidelines during restructuring of accounts in respect of one of its borrowers.
 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY


Himachal’s growth rate projected at 7.3% in current financial year.
•    Economic Survey Report for 2018-19 has projected the growth rate in Himachal Pradesh to be around 7.3% for the current financial year, 2018-19, while the per capita income is estimated at Rs 1, 76,968. Economic growth was 6.5% in the last fiscal, highest in last 3 years.
•    Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in current fiscal has increased to Rs 1, 36,542 crore and estimated to be about Rs 1, 51,835 crore in 2018-19.
 

AWARDS AND RECOGNIZATION


Yes Bank wins the Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 for ‘Innovation in Data Science’.
•    On Feb. 1 2019, Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 announced Yes Bank as winner in ‘Innovation in Data Science’ category for their industry-first project ‘Yes EEE (Engage Enrich Excel)’ at Panaji, Goa. It was hosted by the Government of Goa.

Sena Medals awarded to 92 army men, including Lance Naik Wani.
•    Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, GOC-in-C (General Officer Commanding), Northern Command, presented Gallantry and Distinguished Service Awards to army officers, other ranks and next of kin (for posthumous awards).
•    The army commander presented 1 Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), 76 Sena Medals (Gallantry), 7 Sena Medals (Distinguished) and 8 Vishist Seva Medals.
•    Lance Naik Wani was conferred with the Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), received by his wife on his behalf. The brave soldier had sacrificed his life while combating terrorists at Batagund Village in Jammu & Kashmir in November 2018.
•    20 units were also awarded for their overall outstanding performance in the Command Theatre in the year 2018.
 

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION


Radheyshyam Julaniya to replace Rahul Bhatnagar as Union Sports Secretary.
•    IAS officer (Madhya Pradesh cadre), Radheyshyam Julaniya will replace Rahul Bhatnagar as the Union Sports Secretary.
•    Bhatnagar has been released by the Sports Ministry and is set to join the Ministry on Panchayati Raj.
•    Notable achievements of the Sports Ministry during the tenure of Mr. Rahul Bhatnagar include opening of the National Sports University, Khelo India Youth Games, hosting international tournaments like Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar and World Women’s Boxing Championship in New Delhi.
 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


Helicopter-launched anti-tank missile ‘Helina’ test-fired in Balasore, Odisha.
•    India test-fired Helina, a helicopter-launched version of the Nag anti-tank guided missile, with a hit range of 7-8 km, from the Odisha Coast on Friday.
•    Helina was launched from an Army chopper and the weapon system was tested for its full range at 12:55 PM near the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur in the Balasore District of Odisha.
•    Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Helina is said to be one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world. It is guided by an Infrared Imaging Seeker (IIR) operating in the lock-on-before-launch mode.
 

SPORTS


Rohit Sharma becomes 1st Indian to smash 100 sixes in T20 Cricket.
•    Indian opener Rohit Sharma became the first man from his country to smash a century of sixes in T20I cricket in the second T20 between India and New Zealand held in Eden Park in New Zealand.
•    He made his T20I debut against England but played his first innings against South Africa in 2007 T20I.
•    Rohit Sharma surpassed Martin Guptill to become the highest scorer in T20 Internationals with 102 sixes.


Ricky Ponting has been appointed the assistant coach of Australia for 2019 World Cup.
•    On 8th February 2019, Cricket Australia appointed Ricky Ponting as assistant coach for Australia’s cricket team for 2019 World Cup. He had won world cup for three times.
•    The main coach for Australian Cricket team is Justin Langer. Ponting was appointed after David Saker’s resignation from the post.
•    Ricky Ponting worked as assistant for Australia’s T20 in 2017 and 2018. The current batting coach for the team is Graeme Hicks.
•    ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales from 30th May to 14th July 2019.
•    Ponting play 375 ODI’s and 168 tests for Australia. He won the World Cup for the 1st time in 1999 before captaining and in 2003 and in 2003 and 2007.
 

OBITUARY


British actor Albert Finney, five time Oscar nominee died at age of 82.
•    On February 9, 2019, five time Oscar nominated actor Albert Finney died at the age of 82 due to chest infection in London.
•    The veteran actor was best known for his roles in Tom Jones, Erin Brockovich and Annie.
 

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Important Current Affairs 9th February 2019

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


NASA: 2018 4th warmest year on record.
•    The global surface temperatures on the Earth in 2018 were the 4th warmest since 1880.
•    This was found in an independent analysis by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
•    The global temperatures in 2018 were 0.83 degree Celsius
2018’s temperatures rank behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015.
 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY


IRDAI imposes fine on United India Insurance.
•    Imposed a fine of Rs 9 lakh on state-owned United India Insurance Co Ltd for violating certain procedures.
•    3 violations were found during the inspection, of which 2 attracted the fine.
•    UIIC is headquartered in Chennai, while IRDAI is in Hyderabad.

SBI fined by RBI.
•    RBI slapped Rs 1 crore penalty on SBI, country's largest lender on 7th Feb 2019 for violating norms.
•    RBI levied the penalty in the exercise of powers conferred under Section 47 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
•    SBI was charged for not monitoring the end use of funds in respect of one of its borrowers.


RBI Monetary Policy of February.
•    RBI cuts key lending rate (repo) by 0.25 pc to 6.25 pc
•    Reverse repo rate cut to 6pcs, bank rate to 6.5pc, CRR unchanged at 4pc
•    Headline inflation estimates revised down to 2.8 pc in Q1, 3.2-3.4 pc in first half of next fiscal
•    Projects GDP growth to accelerate to 7.4 pc next fiscal, from 7.2 pc in 2018-19
 

Suresh Prabhu addresses interactive session.
•    An interactive session on the Indo-Africa Strategic Economic Co-operation was held in New Delhi on 6th Feb 2019.
•    It was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
•    The bilateral trade between Africa and India has increased from $7 billion in 2001 to $78 billion in 2014 and then $60 billion in 2017.
•    Suresh Prabhu is the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation.
 

AWARDS AND HONORS


Yes Bank wins Data Science Innovation Award.
•    Yes, Bank was announced as the winner of the 9th edition of Aegis Graham Bell Award 2018 for its ‘Yes Engage Enrich Excel (EEE)’ project in data science.
•    Its EEE program is an industry-first analytics tool that aids the Bank’s relationship managers with top 3 talking points to engage with their customers.
•    Aegis Graham Bell Award promotes innovations and entrepreneurship in the ICT domain.

Sanjiv Chadha awarded in UK.
•    The State Bank of India’s UK Chief Mr Sanjiv Chadha has been honoured with the ‘Freedom of the City Of London’.
•    The award was given by the city of London Corporation in recognition of his contribution to promoting bilateral relations
•    The previous Indian recipient of the honour is Jawaharlal Nehru, the first PM of India. Other recipients include author J K Rowling and actor Dame Judi Dench.
 

APPOINTMENTS


Pradeep Singh became Civil Aviation Secretary.
•    The government appointed Air India Chief Managing Director and Chairperson Pradeep Singh Kharola as the secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
•    Kharola will take over from Rajiv Nayan Choubey.
•    He is an IAS officer of Karnataka cadre from the 1985 batch, who was named chairperson of Air India in November 2017.

NATIONAL


Nitin Gadkari laid foundation of NH project.
•    Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, laid the foundation for 5 National Highway projects of length 632 km in Ayodhya on 8 Feb 2019
•    The estimated cost is Rs. 7195 crore and the project will establish direct connectivity from Ayodhya to Ambedkar Nagar and Chitrakoot.
•    He will also visit Prayagraj to inaugurate Phase 2 of River Information System on National Waterway-1.

Ujjwala Utsav observed by Oil industry.
•    Ujjwala Utsav was observed by the Oil industry in New Delhi on 7th Feb 2019
•    It was observed to celebrate the stellar role played by all stakeholders in making PMUY scheme a success.
•    PMUY anthem - 'Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala' composed by Kailash Kher was also launched on the occasion.
 

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Important Current Affairs 3rd February 2019

National News

22nd AIIMS to come up in Haryana
The 22nd AIIMS would come up in Haryana. The announcement was made regarding this at the Interim Budget 2019. The AIIMS would be established at Manethi village in Haryana’s Rewari district.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is the autonomous institutions set up under the act of parliament. The All India Institute Of Medical Sciences Act, 1956 provides for the establishment of AIIMS  as Institute of National Importance.

India’s Mithali Raj Becomes First Woman Cricketer to Play 200 ODIs 
India’s One-day International (ODI) captain Mithali Raj has become the first woman to play 200 ODI matches with her appearance in the match against New Zealand. The record for largest number of games played by a Woman Cricketer was already in the name of Mithali Raj. Mithali Raj had achieved the milestone when she played her 192 ODI of the career, going past Charlotte Edwards’ record of 191 appearances.
The 36-year-old Mithali Raj is playing the game at the international circuit for almost twenty years and she is also the fourth-highest among the cricketers as a whole, as Mithali is just behind Sachin Tendulkar (463), Sanath Jayasuriya (445) and Javed Miandad (233).


Bharathi appointed as the MD and CEO of Corporation Bank
The government has appointed P.V.Bharathi as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Corporation Bank. Earlier she has served as the Executive Director of Canara Bank. Corporation Bank is public-sector banking The company headquartered in Mangaluru, India. She took charge on February 1, 2019. The bank has a pan-Indian presence.  The bank has a network of 2,600 fully automated CBS branches, 3,040 ATMs, and 4,724 branchless banking units across the country.

International News

5 countries elected as non-permanent members of UNSC
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elected South Africa, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Germany and Belgium as non-permanent members of UN Security Council (UNSC). They will have two-year term beginning January 1, 2019.
These five non-permanent members were elected according to the following pattern
•    Two seats for Group of African states and Group of Asia-Pacific states,
•    One for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean states
•    Two seats for Western European and other states.


International World Cancer Day celebrated on 4th February 
The world celebrates the World Cancer Day on 4th February. World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. The aim is to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. The main goal is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.

Obituary

Padma Shri R.B.Patil passed away
Padma Shri R.B. Patil, 93-year-old, passed away in Hubballi. He established North Karnataka’s first comprehensive centre for cancer in 1977 from voluntary donations.  Dr.Patil completed his education in England and continued to see patients until recently before his health deteriorated. The mortal remains of the surgeon were kept at his nursing home in Vidyanagar, Hubballi, for people to pay tributes.

Award


P.S.Krishnan is to receive K.Veeramani Award
K.Veeramani Award for Social Justice 2018 will be conferred on P.S. Krishnan, former Secretary, Government of India. Dravidar Kazhagam leader Veeramani will felicitate the awardee at a function in New Delhi. About the award: Periyar International Inc., (USA) gives an annual award for outstanding contributions to Social Justice, which is named his honor.  Mr.V.P.Singh, former Prime Minister of India, was the first recipient of the award. K.Veeramani is an Honorary Associate of Rationalist International.
 

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