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Important Current Affairs of 22th May

INTERNATIONAL:

Nepal banned popular Chinese digital wallets Alipay and WeChat.

• Nepal banned popular Chinese digital wallets Alipay and WeChat to prevent the loss of foreign currency earnings from tens of thousands of Chinese tourists. The reason cited is Nepal was losing out since the actual transactions took place in China.

• Over 1,50,000 Chinese holidaymakers visited Nepal in 2018, many using digital wallets to pay in hotels, restaurants, and shops in tourist areas, especially in Chinese-run businesses.

• Nepal:

President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari

Prime Minister: KP Sharma Oli

Capital: Kathmandu

Currency: Nepalese rupee

Bangladesh stopped visas for Pakistani nationals.

• The Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has stopped issuing visas to Pakistani nationals for one week over a fresh diplomatic row amid strained bilateral ties since 2013 when Dhaka decided to hang several of the 1971 war criminals.

The Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis for the last one week as a mark of protest as a Bangladeshi diplomat's visa-extension application has not been cleared by the Pakistan government for last four months.

No official announcement yet made:

In 2018, Dhaka denied a visa to the Pakistan High Commissioner. The Foreign Office in Dhaka, however, is yet to make any formal confirmation and no official notification has been issued on the halting of visas to the Pakistani nationals.

Bangladesh refusal for Pak. new high commissioner:

Bangladesh has reportedly refused to accept the 'agreement' from Islamabad for the appointment of a new high commissioner.

Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs named Saqlain Syedah as its new High Commissioner to Bangladesh, but Dhaka refused to accept the "agreement", a diplomatic requirement under which a host country has to confirm the appointment of an incoming envoy.

Reason:

Bangladesh, which seceded from Pakistan in 1971, has accused Pakistan of financing terrorism on its soil. Bilateral ties have become so strained. Now it has halted granting visas to all Pakistanis.

AGREEMENTS AND MOU’s:

Tech Mahindra signed a defence contract worth Rs.300 crore with Indian Navy.

• IT major, Tech Mahindra has signed a defence contract worth Rs.300 crore with Indian Navy. This contract is its biggest agreement to date. The IT major will implement RFID-based access control system across all naval bases and ships as part of 'Armed Forces Secure Access Card (AFSAC)' Project. AFSAC  will replace the existing paper-based identity card for all Navy personnel, including dependents and ex-servicemen. As part of the AFSAC Project, Tech Mahindra will implement RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) based access control system across all naval bases and ships.

AFSAC Project:

•  The Mumbai-based company will develop a secure application to manage the access control devices, network devices, and the AFSAC card through a data centre.

•  The security of Indian Naval establishments against unauthorized access is a thrust area and the AFSAC Project will be an important step towards achieving this aim.

• Scheduled to be implemented over the next two years, the project will ensure smooth issuance, handling, administration, management and life-cycle support of AFSAC Cards on turnkey basis.

• This project further cements the company's role as one of the leading system integrators globally. Tech Mahindra is already working with entities like Coal India, India Ports Association, Kanpur Smart City and others.

Tech Mahindra:

Type: Public

Founded on: 24 October 1986

Chairman: Anand Mahindra

MD & CEO: C.P. Gurnani

Services: Outsourcing, Consulting, Managed services

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

TikTok parent hires former Google executive Sameer Singh as VP.

• TikTok owner ByteDance has appointed media agency GroupM's South Asia CEO Sameer Singh in the role of VP, monetisation, for India. The IIM Calcutta alumnus, who has earlier worked as Director Agencies Business at Google India will join new role in August. In his new role, Sameer will lead the advertising, sales and marketing strategies across ByteDance’s products in India.

About TikTok:

• TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is an iOS and Android media app for creating and sharing short videos. The application allows users to create short music videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds.

• Initial release date: September 2016

• Stable release: 11.2.3 / 12 May 2019

• Developed by: ByteDance

• Size: 308.3 MB (iOS); 80.19 MB (Android)

• Operating system: iOS, Android

• Available in: 33 languages

Bimal Dayal to lead merged entity of Indus Towers, Bharti Infratel.

• Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group have announced Bimal Dayal, who is currently CEO of Indus Towers, will be appointed CEO of the merged entity of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel. Dayal, who joined Indus Towers as its Chief Operating Officer in 2010, previously worked with Ericsson. The tower companies further named Indus CFO Hemant Ruia as the combined entity's CFO.

• About Merged entity of indus Towers,Bharti Infratel.

• The merged company will be listed on the stock exchanges as Bharti Infratel is a publicly traded company. ... Bharti Infratel and Vodafone Group own 42% each inIndus Towers, while Vodafone Idea, the merged entity of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, holds 11.15%.

DAYS:

World Biodiversity Day is observed on 22 May.

• The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations-sanctioned international day to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The day is observed on May 22 every year. The theme for 2019 is 2019 - Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health.

Biological Diversity falls within the scope of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda's Sustainable Development Goals. Agrobiodiversity and its potential to support human nutrition and good health is a critical component of the global sustainability agenda. The critical role of biodiversity in sustainable development was recognized in a Rio+20 outcome document, The World We Want: A Future for All.

Theme 2019: Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health:

• This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity focuses on biodiversity as the foundation for our food and health and as a key catalyst to transforming food systems and improving human well-being.

• The theme aims to leverage knowledge and spread awareness of the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The theme also celebrates the diversity provided by our natural systems for human existence and well-being on Earth, while contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystems restoration, cleaner water, and zero hunger, among others.

• To conserve and sustainably use biodiversity for the well-being, every individual need to:

• Reduce meat consumption

• Eat and purchase seasonal foods

• Buy local foods

• Reduce food waste

• Compost food scraps

• Reduce food packaging by using reusable bags or reusing glass jars or containers

• Avoid single-use plastics like plastic straws, coffee cups, plastic cutlery, take out containers or plastic water bottles

• Promote local and indigenous biodiversity for food and nutrition

AWARDS:

Oman author Jokha Al Harthi wins Booker International Prize.

• Oman Author Jokha Al Harthi won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for "Celestial Bodies", the story of three sisters of a desert country confronting its slave-owning past and a complex modern world.

• Jokha Alharthi, the first Arabic-language writer to take the prize, will split the 50,000 pounds or 64,000 US dollar purse with her UK-based translator, Marilyn Booth.

About Man Booker International Prize

Country: United Kingdom

Awarded for: Best book in English translation

Presented: by Man Group

Reward(s):£50,000

First awarded: 2005.

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Important Current Affairs of 12th April

NATIONAL:

India's population grew at 1.2 percent between 2010-19: UN report.

• According to United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFP) State of World Population 2019 report, India’s population grew at an average annual rate of 1.2% between 2010 and 2019 to 1.36 billion, more than double the annual growth rate of China.

• India’s population in 2019 stood at 1.36 billion, growing from 942.2 million in 1994 and 541.5 million in 1969. China’s population grew at an average annual rate of 0.5% between 2010 and 2019.

• In comparison, China’s population stood at 1.42 billion in 2019, growing from 1.23 billion in 1994 and 803.6 million in 1969. In India, total fertility rate per woman was 5.6 in 1969, dropping to 2.3 in 2019. India also recorded an improvement in life expectancy at birth.

INTERNATIONAL:

Google unveiled new Cloud Platform, Anthos to manage apps from anywhere.

• Google has introduced a new open platform called Anthos to run and manage apps from anywhere.

• Based on the Cloud Services Platform that Google announced in 2018, Anthos lets users run applications on existing on-premise hardware investments or in the Public Cloud. Anthos will also let users manage workloads running on third-party clouds like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

• Anthos is a Kubernetes-powered technology to build and manage hybrid applications, for on-premises or cloud deployments. Google also announced Anthos Migrate in beta, which auto-migrates virtual machines (VMs) from on-premises, or other clouds, directly into containers in Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) with minimal effort.

Pakistan country issues 2,200 visas for Sikh pilgrims.

• India-Pakistan Protocol visit to religious shrines of 1974.  In this perspective, Pakistan granted 2,200 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in Baisakhi celebrations from April 12 to 21.

• The Sikh pilgrims would be visiting shrines like Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, and Kartarpur Sahib. 

• The protocol between India and Pakistan enables a large number of pilgrims to visit the other country to observe various religious festivals or occasions every year. 

AGREEMENTS:

India, Sweden inked pact to collaborate on solutions for smart cities, clean tech.

• The India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research and Development Programme will work towards addressing a range of challenges around smart cities and clean technologies among others. The programme was co-funded by Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Swedish agency Vinnova. Vinnova will provide funding to Swedish participants up to 2,500,000 Swedish Krona (around Rs 1.87 crore) as grant.

• On the Indian side, conditional grant of up to 50 per cent (with a limit of Rs 1.5 crore) per project will be provided to the Indian partners. This Programme is technically and administratively managed by the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (GITA) on behalf of DST in India and Vinnova in Sweden.

• Government, Academia, and Industry or the ‘triple helix’ - is key to the Sweden-India partnership. About Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India: It was established in May 1971, with the objective of promoting new areas of science & technology (S&T) and to play the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T activities in the country.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

India and Netherlands vow to strengthen bilateral political & economic ties.

• India and the Netherlands have discussed ways to strengthen bilateral political and economic ties including boosting cooperation at the United Nations and other international fora. The two countries held Foreign Office Consultations in New Delhi, with the Indian side led by A Gitesh Sarma, Secretary, West, Ministry of External Affairs, and Johanna Brandt, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leading the Dutch delegation. Both countries used this opportunity to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including political, economic, commercial, scientific and cultural cooperation.

PAISALO Digital Limited signed the first co-origination loan agreement SBI

• PAISALO Digital Limited signed the first co-origination loan agreement with State Bank of India (SBI). This is the first agreement of its kind in the country that State Bank of India has signed. The agreement was signed with a vision of empowering the AGRI, MSME segment and small businesses.  The loan ticket is designed at Rs.10,000 to 2 lakh. The company expects to disburse 200,000 loan applications in FY20.  PAISALO Digital Limited is a leading systemically important non-deposit taking NBFC. It is registered with the Reserve Bank of India, in operations since 1992.

• Co-origination loan agreement:

♦ This new framework seeks to bring the strengths of two sectors, that is, banks and micro-finance institutions (MFIs)/non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) together

♦ Under this framework, both a bank and an MFI/NBFC will join at each underwriting and loan level and share the loan amount at an agreed percentage with all other structures put in place

♦ It is expected that such a blending would not only increase the flow of credit to MSMEs but also bring down the cost of credit for the sector substantially.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Shiv Das Meena to be designated as the Chairman cum Managing Director (CMD) of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC).

• He is appointed as the Chairman cum Managing Director (CMD) of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC). He assumed office as Chairman-cum-Managing Director, NBCC.

Cairn India’s CEO and CFO resign.

• Cairn India CEO Sudhir Mathur and CFO Pankaj Kalra have resigned from the firm. Ajay Dixit, who was CEO of the Aluminum and Power divisions of Vedanta, will take over from Mr.Mathur in the interim, after his exit. Mr.Mathur is the fourth CEO to quit the firm after it was acquired by Vedanta in 2011.

AWARDS:

Varanasi ranked third on the WHOs list of 15 most polluted cities.

• According to the 'Political Leaders Position and Action on Air Quality in India 2014-2019' report, released by Climate Trends, the air quality in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2014 Lok Sabha constituency, is ranked third on the WHO's (World Health Organisation) list of 15 most polluted cities in the world.

• Fourteen of the 15 most polluted cities in the world, listed by World Health Organisation (WHO) are in India, of which four are in Uttar Pradesh. Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh is the most polluted city in the world and is ranked one on the list. Faridabad in Haryana has been ranked second.

•  Delhi is ranked sixth on the list. Gaya and Patna in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, Cities of Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurugram, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur are also on the WHO list of most polluted cities. The air quality index (AQI) in Varanasi reached an alarming 490 in 2017 and 384 (very poor category)  in December 2018.

•  Air Quality Index (AQI) in India: As per pollution control authorities, An AQI between

♦ 0 and 50 is considered "good",

♦ 51 and 100 "satisfactory",

♦ 101 and 200 "moderate",

♦ 201 and 300 "poor",

♦ 301 and 400 "very poor", and

♦ 401 and 500 "severe".

Namami Gange got Public Water Agency of the Year award at Global Water Summit

• India's flagship programme, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) or Namami Gange  was felicitated with ‘Public Water Agency of the Year’ award by Global Water Intelligence at the Global Water Summit in London. Namami Gange Mission:

♦ The Namami Gange programme is an integrated mission for Ganga rejuvenation, and approved by the Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore.

SPORTS:

Eni Nuraeni named as Best athletic coach in Asia 2019 by AAA.

• Indonesian Eni Nuraeni was named by Asian Athletic Association (AAA) as the best athletic coach in Asia for the short-haul run category in 2019. It was announced by the Indonesian athletic sports association (PB PASI). Eni coaches young sprinter Lalu Muhammad Zohri to win the 100m gold medal in 10.20 seconds in the 2019 Grand Prix Malaysia Open athletics championships. Earlier, Zohri won the 100m in 10.18 in the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland in 2018.

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Important Current Affairs of 2 March

NATIONAL:

Union Bank of India reduced the MCLR by 10 basis points

• Union Bank of India, the State-run lender, said it had reduced the Marginal Cost of funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points across all tenors.

• The lender has reduced its one-year MCLR or the minimum lending rate, against which most of the consumer loans are benchmarked, to 8.60% from 8.70% earlier. The bank has set the new six-month MCLR at 8.50% and two-year at 8.70%.

RBI has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market. It will be headed by former Deputy Governor Usha Thorat and will recommend steps for ensuring the stability of the currency.

• The task force shall examine the issues relating to the offshore rupee markets in depth and recommend appropriate policy measures that also factor in the requirement of ensuring the stability of the external value of the rupee. The committee would submit its report by the end of June 2019.

• The task force will assess the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market, and study the effects on the exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market. It would also recommend measures to address concerns arising out of offshore rupee trading.

Growth Rate in the Core Sector witnessed decline

• The data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries reported that the growth rate eight core sectors which include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement, and electricity witnessed a decline. The core sector which had witnessed a 6.2% growth in January 2018 witnessed a growth rate of 1.8% in January.

• The decline in the output of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity pulled down the growth of eight core sectors to 1.8%. Production of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity contracted 4.3%, 2.6%, and 0.4%, respectively. Coal and cement output slowed to 1.7% and 11% in January as against 3.8% and 19.6% in January 2018, respectively. Natural gas, fertilizers and steel output grew 6.2%, 10.5%, and 8.2 % respectively. The core sector growth would impact the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these segments account for about 41 percent of the total industry output.

Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World’s Most Ethical Companies

• Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for 2019. Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. For the eighth time, Tata Steel has got the recognition in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' category. Tata Steel is one of the only two honourees in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' industry.

• 128 companies are recognized for exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity in the year 2019. The honourees are from 21 countries and 50 industries.

• The companies are listed World's Most Ethical Companies based on 5 factors:

♦ Leadership and Reputation

♦ Ethics Compliance Programme

♦ Culture of Ethics

♦ Corporate Citizenship

♦ Responsibility Governance

DCB Bank launches Open Banking Platform for next generation banking solutions.

•  Creating a collaborative ecosystem with enterprises, fintech and app developers, and enhancing customer-service delivery, DCB Bank announced the launch of its Open Banking Platform.

• More than 20 start-ups, fintech, merchants, enterprises and developers are set to partner with DCB Bank for access to its Open Banking Platform APIs (Application programming interface) and collaborate on innovation and customer centric products.

Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 held between BSF and BGB.

• Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) concluded a three-day Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 as a part of confidence-building measures between the two border guards. The exercise was held in Comilla district of Bangladesh.

• The objective of Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 was to plan and conduct anti-smuggling and anti-criminal activity related operations with an aim to achieve better joint operational efficiency and border management in the area. The exercise involved joint patrolling, anti-smuggling drills, and simulated raids on suspected places in both the countries and checking of goods and identity at international check posts.

PNB bank ranks highest in implementation of Reforms Agenda

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) secured top spot among all public sector banks in the implementation of ‘Reforms agenda’.

• PNB topped the list with a score of 78.4 out of 100 in the EASE-index which is followed by BoB (77.8), SBI (74.6), and Oriental Bank of Commerce (69).

• The EASE (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) report shown significant enhancement in PSB performance on the back of Government’s 4 R's strategy- recognition, recovery, recapitalisation and reforms.

Cabinet approves setting up of 22nd AIIMS at Manethi, Haryana

• The new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Manethi, District Rewari, and Haryana will be established at a cost of Rs 1,299 crore.

• Like other AIIMS in the country, the AIIMS Rewari will also be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

• The new AIIMS will add 100 Undergraduate (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc (Nursing) seats.

IRCTC launched its own digital payment gateway 'IRCTC iPay'.

• With a view to promote Government’s Digital India initiative,  the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) has launched its much awaited own payment aggregator system called "IRCTC iPay”.

• The new system will provide payment options like Credit Card, Debit card, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and International card.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONAS:

Ajay Narayan Jha became Member of the 15th Finance Commission.

• Shri Ajay Narayan Jha joined the 15th Finance Commission as its Member in place of Shri Shaktikanta Das resigned as a Member of the Commission after being appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

• A 1982 batch IAS officer of Manipur cadre, he was the Finance Secretary to the Government of India and served as Secretary to the 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor, Shri Y.V. Reddy.

• The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by a Presidential Order in November 2017 under the Chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh to decide the formula for devolution of revenue between Centre and States.

Naresh Goyal agreed to step down as Jet Airways chairman

• This comes weeks after reports suggested that the cash-strapped Jet airline has agreed to most of the conditions set by its second-largest shareholder Etihad for its revival.

• Etihad had agreed to invest in Jet Airways if Goyal stepped down from the board.

• Etihad Airways owns a 24% stake in Jet Airways

• Jet  airline had a gross debt of ₹8,411 crore as of September-end, including aircraft debt of ₹1,851 crore

AGREEMENTS:

RBI have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan. The Swap agreement will provide India access to 75 billion US dollars against the 50 billion dollars under earlier BSA.

• The bilateral swap agreement will provide India to access the reserves if at any point of time when the need arises. The currency swap makes it easier to improve liquidity conditions. Currency swap agreements help when the economic crisis arises.

• The swap agreements also contribute towards stabilizing the country's balance of payments (BOP) position. The agreement aids in improving confidence in the Indian market.

POLICY:

India’s first policy to protect bank locker launched by IFFCO Tokio General Insurance.

•  IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched ‘bank locker protector policy’, the first stand-alone bank locker cover offered by any insurance company with a plan to protect the contents of a bank locker such as jewellery, title documents, and other valuables.

• The policy offers a cover against various risks including fire, earthquake, burglary, and holdup, infidelity by a bank staff or any act of terrorism.

• Important documents kept in a locker can also be insured under the policy as an add-on cover.

• The policy can be sold both as a retail and a group policy for banks

SPORTS:

Deepak Singh Wins Gold At Makran Cup In Boxing

•  National Boxing champion Deepak Singh (49kg) is the only Indian boxer who won gold medal at Makran Cup in Boxing held at Chabahar, Iran.

The five others claimed silver medals in the Makran Cup in Chabahar, Iran P. Lalitha Prasad (52kg), Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (60kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) claimed silver medals.

INTERNATIONAL:

Russia, China blocked a US resolution on Venezuela in the UN

• Russia and China vetoed a US resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on addressing the crisis in Venezuela.

• Russia's draft resolution -- which urged a settlement "through peaceful means" and insisted that all humanitarian aid be agreed by Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

• Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.

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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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