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Important Current Affairs 27th February 2019

National News

Government cuts airfare for Haj pilgrims after withdrawing subsidy

• The move is part of the Centre’s “empowerment without appeasement” policy Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas said.

• He said airfare reduction will end the exploitation caused under UPA regime.

Delhi gets streetlights with CCTV, Wi-Fi, pollution monitors

• The “smart poles” will be operational by the end of March.

• The NDMC is aiming to install a total of 55 such poles of which 32 have been installed.

India ranks 47th on inclusive Internet Index: Facebook

• India has been ranked 47th out of 86 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

• The scores on the index is based on the scores of Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness categories.

International News

Maldives decline India’s invite for naval exercise ‘Milan’.

• This comes amid the state of emergency in Maldives after the government refused a SC order to release political prisoners.

• India had said it is important that Maldives returns to the path of democracy.

China may overtake US as biggest producer of nuclear power

• China is expected to triple its nuclear capacity in the next 20 years.

• The International Energy Agency said that lesser investment in nuclear energy and no lifetime extension of the existing plants threatened the US’ position as the global leader in nuclear power.

Michelle Obama announces memoir

• Her memoir titled ‘Becoming’ will be published on November 13, 2018.

• The book will be published in 24 languages worldwide

Business News:

Goldman Sachs-backed start up buys crypto exchange Poloniex

• The start-up Circle acquired the crypto exchange Poloniex

• Poloniex, which was founded in 2014, is within the top 20 largest crypto exchanges by trading volume.

PNB reveals additional Rs.1, 300 cr fraud in Nirav Modi case

• PNB said that the fraudulent amount is Rs.1, 300 crore more than the current estimate of Rs.11, 400 cr.

• The amount of over Rs.12, 700 cr is nearly 10 times PNB’s 2016-17 net profit.

Iran plans its own crypto currency to beat US sanctions

• The crypto currency would help Iran evade the potential US sanctions.

• This comes after Venezuela, also hit by US sanctions, launched its own oil-backed crypto currency ‘Petro’.

Sports News:

Karnataka defeat Saurashtra to win Vijay Hazare Trophy

• Karnataka won the tournament for the 3rd time.

• Karnataka put up a total of 253/10 before Saurashtra were bowled out for 212 in 16.2 overs.

Usain Bolt to play charity football match at Man Utd’s home.

• Eight time Olympic gold medal winning sprinter Usain Bolt will lead the ‘World XI’ team against team ‘England’.

• The match will be held on June 10th.

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Important Current Affairs 26th February 2019

National News

PM Modi Inaugurated 40-Acre National War Memorial in New Delhi

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated a new National War Memorial, situated in the India Gate complex in New Delhi, to the nation.

• The National War Memorial, spread over 40 acres in the India Gate complex behind the canopy, is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions.

FAGMIL Signs MoU with Himachal Pradesh to Establish India's 4th White Cement Plant Project

• Under its diversification programme, FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals India Limited (FAGMIL) has taken up a project to establish a white cement plant near village Nohra Dhar in Himachal Pradesh, at a project cost of approximately Rs. 605 crores.

• It will be the 4th white cement plant in the country. The installed capacity of the plant would be 0.3 million tonnes per annum and it will generate the direct employment of approximately150 persons.

Madhya Pradesh Government Launched ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’

• Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath launched the State Government’s flagship scheme ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’ that guarantees 100 days of employment every year to urban youth from economically weaker sections.

• Under the scheme, Rs 4,000 stipend per month during 100 days period, would be given to the youth and they will also be given skill development training in order to become independent. (Only those youths, whose family’s annual income is less than Rs 2 lakh and who are in the age group of 21-30 years, are eligible for the scheme).

INTERNATIONAL

India strikes back: IAF jets destroy Jaish terror camps across LoC

• In retaliation to the deadly Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force fighter jets crossed the line of control in the early hours of February 26, 2019 and attacked Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

• The same was confirmed by the Indian Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale during a press conference in New Delhi on the same day. The Foreign Secretary revealed that India has struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot.

• The Indian Air Force used Mirage-2000 jets to drop 1000 kg of laser-guided bombs causing an estimated casualty of 200-300. In the intelligence led operation, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

Awards

President Conferred 'Gandhi Peace Prize'

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015, 16, 17 and 18 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

• The award comprises a cash award of one crore rupees, a citation in a scroll, a plaque and a traditional handicraft item.

• Here are the awardees that were facilitated at the occasion:

1. For 2015: Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari was given the award for its contribution in Rural Development, Education and Development of natural resources.

2. For 2016: Jointly to Akshaya Patra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.

3. For 2017: Ekal Abhiyan Trust for its contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender, and Social Equality.

4. For 2018: Japan's Yohei Sasakawa for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.

Lifetime Achievement Award For G.R. Karthikeyan

•  G.R. Karthikeyan, father of India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award at the FMSCI annual awards function.

•  FIA president Jean Todt was the chief guest and handed over the awards.

Appointments

 Indra Nooyi Joins Amazon’s Board of Directors

• PepsiCo’s India-born former CEO Indra Nooyi has joined Amazon’s board of directors, the online retail giant. Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer has also joined the Amazon Board.

• She was Pepsico CEO from October 2006 to October 2018, where she also served as the Chairman of its board of directors from May 2007 to February 2019.

Sports News

Afghanistan Scores Highest Ever T20 International Score

• Afghanistan scored 278 for the loss of three wickets from their allotted 20 overs, to register the highest-ever total in T20s at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

• Hazratullah Zazai scored 162 runs from just 62 balls. Zazai became the first player from Afghanistan to score 150 or more runs, and his 236-run opening stand with Usman Ghani became the highest partnership in T20Is.  

Sri Lanka Becomes 1st Ever Asian Team To Win Test Series In South Africa

• Sri Lanka cricket team became the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa after winning the series by 2-0.

• Kusal Perera was given the Man of the Series award. Before Sri Lanka, only Australia and England have defeated South Africa in a Test series at home.

Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta Wins Cannes International Open Trophy

• Indian Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta lifted the Cannes International Open trophy. He took an easy draw with Pier Luigi Basso of Italy in the ninth and final round.

• Abhijeet won the tournament with 7.5 points. It is his first solo International tournament victory.

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Important Current Affairs 25th February 2019

NATIONAL:

GST Council reduces GST Rate on Real Estate projects

• The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council met on February 24, 2019 for its 33rd meeting and slashed GST rate on under-construction residential properties and the affordable housing projects.

• In case of non-affordable houses, the GST rate for under-construction flats and houses has been brought to 5 percent without Input Tax Credit (ITC), down from the present 12 percent. In case of affordable houses, the GST rate has been reduced to 1 percent without ITC from 8 percent.

Aero India 2019 culminates; Drone Olympics held

• The 12th biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, Aero India 2019 culminated on February 24, 2019 at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru.

• For the first time, the 2019 edition of Aero India combined the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the co-involvement of the defence and civil aviation ministries. The 12th edition of Aero India intended to be a “Runway to a billion opportunities” and put India on the Global map.

PM-KISAN: PM Modi launches ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana’ from Gorakhpur, UP

• The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24, 2019 launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

• On the launch day itself, the first instalment of Rs 2,000 was directly credited to the bank accounts of selected beneficiary farmers. Around 12 crore farmers are expected to benefit from PM-KISAN. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana was announced in the Union Interim Budget 2019 by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

PM Modi dedicates National War Memorial to the nation

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019 dedicated the National War Memorial to the nation in a solemn ceremonial function in New Delhi.

• The National War Memorial, located near the India Gate in New Delhi, is a fitting tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence. The Memorial commemorates the soldiers who participated and made the supreme sacrifice in Peace Keeping Missions, and Counter Insurgency Operations.

Government launches Rail Drishti Dashboard to keep people informed about ongoing Railway works

• Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched Rail Drishti Dashboard in New Delhi to keep people informed about the work going on in the Railways across the country. The Ministry of Railways will get suggestions and comments through the platform and will plan on future actions.

• The information gathered by technology and other means can benefit if there is proper data analysis.  People will get useful information from Rail Drishti through Railway WiFi facilities that are continuously expanding in the country.

INTERNATIONAL:

Oscars 2019: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ wins most Oscars

• The 91st Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar Awards, were conferred on February 24, 2019 (February 25 as per Indian time). 'Bohemian Rhapsody', nominated for five Oscars, won the most Oscars at the award show.

• The ‘Period. End of Sentence’, a film on menstruation set in rural India, won the Oscar in the Documentary - Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards. The film has been directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment.

Afghanistan begins export to India via Chabahar port

• Afghanistan has begun exports to India through Iran’s Chabahar port. At the inauguration of the new export route in Zaranj city in western Nimroz province, President Ashraf Ghani said Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan.

• Afghanistan’s exports will increase to two billion dollar from the current one billion dollar in the next year.

• Indian ambassador Vinay Kumar said Afghanistan’s exports to India have increased by 40 percent after the launch of air corridor between Kabul and New Delhi.

 23 trucks carrying 57 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from Zaranj to Chabahar port to be shipped to Mumbai.

Cobra Gold, one of world’s largest multinational military exercises, held in Thailand

• Thailand and the United States hosted the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, the biggest activity of its type in the Asia-Pacific region with 29 nations taking part as participants or observers.

• Apart from the 2 countries, 7 countries who participated in the exercise were India, Singapore, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

• The Indian Army participated in the military training exercise with a 14-member contingent.

• Thai Chief of Defense Forces,Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri and the commander of the U.S. Army.

BANKING & FINANCE

RBI formalised USD 75-billion swap pacts with Bank of Japan

• This arrangement would bring in greater stability to the foreign exchange and capital markets in India since it will enable the availability of $75-billion in foreign capital for use as and when the need arises. 

• In February, the rupee had shown signs of a rebound and it remained one of the best performing among the emerging market currencies. 

• The rupee closed at 71.14 on Friday. The local unit fell about 2% so far this year, after an 8.5% drop in 2018 amid sharp swings in global crude oil prices.

SPORTS

India suspended by IOC from Hosting International Sporting Events after Pakistan Shooters were Denied Visa

• The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all Indian applications to host future events and urged international sports federations not to stage competitions in the country after two Pakistanis were denied visas to compete in New Delhi.

• It was after India denied of entry visas for two shooters from Pakistan who were due to take part in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup event held in New Delhi following the attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Pulwama, which killed at least 40 CRPF paramilitary police.

• The IOC Executive Board decided to suspend all discussions with the Indian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and Government regarding the potential applications for hosting future sports and Olympic–related events in India, until clear written guarantees are obtained from the Indian government to ensure the entry of all participants in such events in full compliance with the rules of the Olympic Charter.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

ONGC Rajahmundry wins environmental excellence award

• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)’s Rajahmundry unit won the Energy and Environment Foundation Global Clean Awards-2019 for sustained efforts in pursuit of Swachh Bharat Mission as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a function in New Delhi.

•  It has also received Platinum Award under Apex India Environment Excellence Award 2018from Apex India Foundation for excellence in environmental management in Petroleum Sector.

Manpreet Singh named as Player of the Year and Lalremsiami as Rising Player of The Year by the Asian Hockey Federation

• Harmanpreet Singh was awarded the 2018 Player of the Year award while women’s team striker Lalremsiami as the Rising Player of The Year, by the Asian Hockey Federation.

• Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan and also contributed to the team’s silver medal win at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda. 18-year-old Lalremsiami, has shown remarkable progress in the women’s team with her impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup and the Asian Games where the team won Silver medal and was also a part of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires where theunder-18 team won a silver.

• The Indian men’s team was awarded the Best Performance of The Year for being the only Asian side to have reached the top eight at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

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Important Current Affairs 24th February 2019

NATIONAL NEWS:

Global Business Summit held in New Delhi

• The Global Business Summit can be the Davos of the East, said Vineet Jain, Managing Director of the Times group in the welcome address for the Economic Times Global Business Summit 2019 in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Global Business summit in New Delhi.

• Top Indian policy makers including, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, railways minister Piyush Goyal, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

PM Modi unveils Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme in Gorakhpur

•  Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in Gorakhpur. PM-KISAN scheme, announced in the interim Budget, released earlier this month will provide Rs 6,000 per year to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding/ownership of upto 2 hectares. The amount will be given in 3 installments of Rs 2,000 each.

• The amount will be transferred directly to the bank account of the beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer. After launching the scheme, the Prime Minister also handed over certificates to select beneficiaries of the scheme.

GST on affordable housing properties reduced to 1 pc

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) on affordable housing properties without input tax credit (ITC) has been reduced to one per cent, while effective GST of 5 per cent shall be applicable without ITC on residential properties outside affordable segment, as was decided by the GST Council at its 33rd meeting. The new rate will be effective from April 1, 2019.

• In metros, a flat of 60 square meter carpet area and costing Rs 45 lakh in the apartment will fall in the affordable housing category. In non-metros, the size will be 90 square meter carpet area and costing Rs 45 lakh.

Odisha launches boat ambulance

• The Odisha government launched the boat ambulance service to help patients reach hospitals in remote areas cut off by rivers, at a cost of Rs 5.40 crore. The first boat ambulance was launched at Batighar in the Kendrapara district.

• Six boat ambulances will add to the road fleet and will be part of the 108 ambulance service. Patients from the areas cut off by rivers need to wait long for transportation to the nearest hospital. They would use boats to cross water bodies to the be picked up by 108 or 102 ambulance.

TN becomes first state in mainland to get 2 Coast Guard dists

• Necessitated by frequent issues pertaining to fishermen, Tamil Nadu became the first state in the country to get a second Coast Guard district headquarters – Thoothukudi.

• The first district headquarters is Chennai. Inaugurated by state Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Thoothukudi district headquarters has been set up with an aim to augment security mechanism on the eastern coast and the state in particular.

Chennai to host ‘Science at Sabha’

• The fourth edition of ‘Science at the Sabha’ organized by The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, will be held in Chennai. The programme is part of the institute’s outreach programme to the common man. ‘Science at Sabha’ will be held at The Music Academy in Chennai.

• The event-like feature talks on topics like “Traffic rules in neurons” by Sandhya Koushika, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; “Untwisting the twisted matter” by Vijay Shenoy and “The whole is more than the sum of its parts” by Sitabhra Sinha, The Indian Institute of Mathematical Science, Chennai.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

•  Zimbabwe’s central bank began trading a sharply discounted replacement currency, attempting to ease a cash crunch that has hobbled the economy and plunged millions deep into poverty. Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but, as a chronic hard currency shortage worsened, introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the U.S. currency.

• Effectively reintroducing a national currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said it would carry out a “managed float” of the surrogate, which fetches far less than a dollar on the black market. The bond notes and electronic dollars, locked in individuals’ accounts for months due to a lack of cash, will be merged into a separate currency called RTGS or real-time gross settlement dollars.

SPORTS:

Saurabh wins gold at shooting World Cup

• Indian shooter Saurabh Chaudhary won gold in the men’s 10 meter air pistol category at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. In the final, the shooter created a new world record with a score of 245. This is the second gold for India in this tournament.

• Apurvi Chandela had taken the first gold for India when she won the title in the women’s 10m air rifle category.

APPOINTMENTS:

Brij Bhushan Sharan elected as WFI President for third time

• Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has been elected third time unopposed as the President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Election of the Office Bearers and Executive Committee Members of WFI for the next year’s term (2019-2023) was held in New Delhi at the Constitution Club of India.

• Along with Brij Bhushan, I.D. Nanavati has been elected as the Senior Vice President, V.N. Prasood as the Secretary General and Satyapal Singh Deshwal as the Treasurer.

AWARDS:

Manpreet Singh honored with AHF’s Player of the Year Award

• The Asian Hockey Federation has honored Indian skipper Manpreet Singh with the 2018 Player of the Year award. Women team’s striker Lalremsiami has bagged the Rising Player of The Year prize.

• Manpreet led the Indian team to an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where the team was declared joint winners with Pakistan while Lalremsiami put up an impressive performance as a striker at the 2018 World Cup.

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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 22th February 2019

National News

Civil services marks cannot be disclosed under RTI: SC

• The SC ruled that Civil Services examination marks cannot be revealed under the Right to Information Act.

• The court added that revelation of marks would compromise on the integrity of the exams.

IAF Officer becomes 1st Indian woman to fly fighter jet solo

• Avani Chaturvedi has become the 1st Indian woman to fly a fighter jet solo as she operated the Russian made MiG21 aircraft.

• She is one of the 3 women inducted into IAF fighter stream in 2016.

SC allows withdrawal of cops send during Gorkhaland protests

• Central forces were deployed in the region during violent protests demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.

• The Calcutta High Court had earlier barred the Centre from withdrawing the forces stating that normalcy had not been established.

International News

Trump suggests arming teachers to prevent school shootings

• Trump made the comment while meeting the students who survived the recent Florida school shooting which claimed 17 lives.

• Trump also called for the implementation of strict background checks for gun purchases in the country.

250 civilians killed in Syrian shelling in 2 days

• Continuous shelling by Syrian govt forces in eastern Ghouta has killed around 250 civilians.

• Nearly 5 lakh people have been killed in the Syrian war.

N Korea envoys’ visit cost more than athletes’ training

• The International Olympic Committee paid around $50,000 for the training of 22 N Korea athletes who participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

• S Korea spent around 346% more than the amount spent on the athletes’ training.

Business News

Vijay Mallya’s Rs.300 cr Mumbai house to be auctioned

• Mallya entered into an agreement allowing him to acquire up to 13 domestic properties from USL within a limited time frame after his resignation.

• The company has decided to sell after Mallya failed to buy them back last year.

Gitanjali shares drop 58%

• The company has lost Rs.435.41 cr from its market capitalisation in the last seven days.

• This comes after PNB accused Choksi and jeweller Nirav Modi of defrauding the bank of $1.77 bn.

Brace for difficult times ahead : Aircel CEO

• Aircel CEO Kaizad Heerjee has warned 5k employees to brace for difficult times.

• Aircel, which has 85 mn customers, recently stopped services in six circles to focus on the better performing ones.

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Important Current Affairs 21th February 2019

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

Joint Statement between India and Namibia during President's visit to Namibia.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for a MoU between India and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

•  MoU contains standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including promotion of exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.

• The MOU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/ capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP). It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration and providing a leg-up to it in conducting elections in their respective countries. This would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

India-OECD pact approved.

• The Union Cabinet approved the agreement between India and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

• It has been done for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

• PISA will be conducted by the OECD in 2021. The agreement was signed on January 28, 2019.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM.

• The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022.

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector.

• While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar program would get Rs 11,814 crore.

NATIONAL:

Union Cabinet Approves Implementation Of New Rural Livelihood Scheme.

• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. on Tuesday approved the implementation of the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP).

• This project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be through loan assistance from the World Bank.

• The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion, access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

Dearness Allowance (DA) For Government Employees, Pensioners Increased By 3%.

• The cabinet on Tuesday announced that it had approved a 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance or DA, a move that will benefit more than one crore central government employees and pensioners from January 1, 2019.

• The decision will cost the exchequer over Rs. 9,000 crore.

• Dearness allowance is a component of salary paid to employees to counter the effect of inflation.

• The 3 per cent increase will take the DA and Dearness Rate (DR) for pensioners to 12 per cent.

PM visits BHU in Varanasi; inaugurates Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Hospital.

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited BHU in Varanasi today. 

• He inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

• Governor of UP Shri Ram Naik, CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Odisha CM Launches KALIA Scholarship for Farmers’ Children.

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today unveiled KALIA Scholarship (KALIA Chhatra Brutti) at the Secretariat here for the children of the KALIA Scheme beneficiaries, who are studying and aspiring for technical and professional education.

• After taking the historic step towards transforming the economic standards of the farmers of Odisha through Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the State Government has come up with KALIA Scholarship in order to ensure human resource development among the farming families across the State.

• KALIA Scheme is first of its kind assistance mechanism for farmers in India and has been followed by others as well for its noble means, ideation and inclusiveness.

OBITUARIES:

Acclaimed Hindi Author Namvar Singh Dies At 92.

• Celebrated Hindi author and literary critic Namvar Singh died in the national capital late on Tuesday night. He was 92.

• Mr. Singh breathed his last at 11.51 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Science's Trauma Centre, family sources said.

• Hindi writer, senior journalist, editor and critic Om Thanvi posted about the author's demise on Facebook and said the cremation ceremony of Namvar Singh would take place at the Lodi crematorium on Wednesday afternoon.

DAY AND EVENT:

World Day of Social Justice 20 February.

• Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

• We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

• For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labor Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

APPOINTMENTS:

Anupama elected Astronomical Society of India president, first.

• Dr.G C Anupama has been elected president of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI), becoming the first woman to head the prime association of professional astronomers in the country.

• She was elected to the post in the ASI Executive Council elections for triennium 2019-22 held last week, according to the Society website.

• Presently the Dean and Senior Professor at the Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Anupama is in the Indian core team which is part of the international team engaged in establishing the thirty meter telescope (TMT) at cost of over USD 1 billion in USA (Hawaii).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

NGO Yuwa won Laureus Sport.

• Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

• The NGO works for the girl empowerment.

• The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls.

EXTRAS:

• A.K. Sharma has been re-appointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.

• Saudi Arabia became the 73rd nation to sign the International Solar Alliance. ISA was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

• Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Important Current Affairs 20th February 2019

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Number 112 launched for women safety.

• Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Emergency Response Support System, ERSS, for women's safety in 16 states and Union territories.

• Persons in distress can dial a pan-India number: 112.

• The Home Minister also launched 2 portals - Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences and Safe City Implementation Monitoring Portal.

Nitin Gadkari launched a portal.

• Shri Nitin Gadkari launched PCS1x at the Regional Maritime Safety Conference in Mumbai on 19 Feb 2019.

• It has been developed in record time by the Indian Ports Association.

• The platform allows improvement in payment cycle, transparency of transaction cycles, detailed tracking of vessels and berthing schedules

NATIONAL NEWS:

Steel Minister dedicates SPU to nation.

• Union Minister of Steel, Chaudhary Birender Singh dedicated SAIL’s Steel Processing Unit (SPU) at Bettiah in West Champaran, Bihar to the nation on 18 Feb 2019.

• This unit will produce high-quality steel tubes and pipes.

• With an installed capacity of 50,000 tons per year, this Unit will play an important role in the development of the predominantly agriculture intensive area.

Drainage-cleaning robot introduced in Chennai.

• A drainage-cleaning robot has been introduced for the first time in Chennai as part of efforts to get rid of manual scavenging.

• The robot named Bandicoot was introduced at a cost of 18 lakh rupees and was inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Minister Kadambur Raju.

• Drainage cleaning can be detected by viewing the blockages on the screen.

SUMMITS AND CONFERENCE:

Conference on Pharmacy inaugurated.

• The 4th edition of India’s biggest Global Conference on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices was inaugurated in Bengaluru on 18 Feb 2019.

• The theme of ‘India Pharma 2019’ is ‘Enabling Quality Affordable Healthcare & that of ‘India Medical Device 2019’ is ‘Accelerating Growth to Achieve Universal Healthcare’.

• The event was organized by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) and FICCI.

POLITY:

Himachal Pradesh assembly passed Bill.

• The Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed a Bill to make Sanskrit the second official language of the state.

• The Himachal Pradesh Official Language Bill, 2019 (Amendment) was introduced by Irrigation and Public Health Minister Mahender Singh Thakur.

• It was passed without any discussion.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY:

RBI to inject Rs 12,500 crores.

• The RBI would inject Rs 12,500 crore into the system through purchase of government securities on Feb 21, 2019, to increase liquidity.

• The purchase will be made through open market operations (OMOs).

• The eligible participants should submit their offers in electronic format on the RBI core banking solution (EKuber) system on February 21.

RBI to pay Rs 28,000 cr as interim dividend.

• The Reserve Bank will pay an interim dividend of Rs 28,000 crore to the government

• This is the second successive year when the RBI will be transferring an interim surplus.

• RBI had given Rs 30,663 crore as dividend to the government in 2017-18.

• The central bank transfers its surplus amount to the government, under Section 47 of the RBI Act, 1934.

RBI released a warning.

• RBI has released a warning regarding an app called Any Desk

• You should not download this app through social media or any other channel, doing so might empty your bank account within minutes.

• RBI alerted banks about potential fraudulent transactions on the unified payments interface (UPI) platform.

SPORTS:

Jitendra Singh won 50km event.

• Jitendra Singh Rathore claimed the top honours in the men ’ s 50km race walk competition at the 6th National Open Race Walking Championships that concluded in Chennai.

• Suraj Panwar of Uttarakhand won the boys 10km race.

• The gold medal in the girls 10km race was clinched by Roji Patel of Uttarakhand.

INTERNATIONAL:

Iran launched a submarine.

• Iran launched a new locally-made submarine capable of firing cruise missiles on 17 Feb 2019.

• Named the Fateh, the new submarine is Iran's first in the semi-heavy category.

• The near 600-tonne underwater vessel is equipped with torpedoes and naval mines in addition to cruise missiles.

• It can operate more than 200 metres below sea level for up to 35 days.

AGREEMENT :

India and Morocco signed 4 MoUs.

• India and Morocco signed four MoUs in Rabat on 18 Feb 2019.

• The MoUs include setting up of Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Cooperation in Housing and Human Settlement.

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Important Current Affairs 19th February 2019

AWARDS AND HONORS:

President Kovind presents Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony.

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

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

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

Sudanese refugee wins major human rights award.

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

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

Sunil Chhetri receives 'Football Ratna' award.

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

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

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

NATIONAL:

Infosys launches InfyTQ app for engineering students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• The name of the poem is ‘Khooni Vaisakhi'

SPORTS:

Vidarbha won Irani Cup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS:

JP Morgan: first to create crypto currency.

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

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

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

RBI lifts cap on FPI investments.

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

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

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

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Important Current Affairs 18th February 2019

NATIONAL

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

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

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

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

Kerala Govt to geotag 10 lakh livestock farmer houses.

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

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

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

Iran President Lands in Delhi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiji signs Declaration of Partnership with TERI.

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

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

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

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

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

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATION:

Shoaib Akhtar named Pakistan Cricket Board's brand ambassador.

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

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

Former JNU Prof Vinod Kumar Jain appointed Tezpur university VC.

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

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

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

TCS Recognized as One of the Top Three Employers.

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

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

SPORTS:

Thompson trumps Bhambri to win Chennai Open Challenger.

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

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

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

OBITUARIES:

Ex-Mathura MLA Ram Swarup Sharma passes away.

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

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

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

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