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Daily Current Affairs 08th Feb 2018

Separate Karnataka flag not against Constitution: Govt panel

  • A nine-member committee has concluded in its report to the Karnataka government that having a separate flag for the state is not against the Constitution, reports said.
  • The committee was formed in July 2017 following demands from Kannada activists for an independent state flag. An unofficial Karnataka flag, red and yellow in colour, is often seen hoisted at public places.

Haryana to set up ‘Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran’

  • In an attempt to increase farm productivity and farmers’ income, the Haryana government on Tuesday announced the setting up of ‘Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran’, an authority which will undertake measures to make agriculture remunerative.
  • The Chief Minister will be the chairperson of the Pradhikaran and the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister would be its ex-officio vice-chairman.
  • The Pradhikaran will undertake all possible measures to enhance farm productivity and mitigate the physical, financial and psychological distress of farm households and landless workers. It will also maintain close liaison with line departments for implementation and monitoring of schemes, programmes and projects thorough the Agriculture Advisory Council and issue necessary guidelines from time to time.

Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh to be part of India’s tiger census

  • India’s tiger census, which began late last year, will see coordination with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
  • This is the first time all countries are uniting in arriving at tiger numbers, particularly in regions with shared borders.
  • The once-in-four-years exercise calculated, in 2006, that India had only 1,411 tigers. This rose to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014.

Student’s Credit Card loan through govt body

  • Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Modi announced that the state government would set up a corporation to disburse loans for Student’s Credit Card scheme.
  • Banks will continue to disburse education loans as it has been doing along with the SCC scheme.
  • Bihar launched SCC scheme on October 3, 2016. Under the scheme, students are able to get education loan of upto Rs 4 lakh for pursuing higher education.

Assam and Ola Sign MoU For River Taxi Service

  • Cab-hailing startup Ola and the Government of Assam have signed an MoU to pilot an app-based river taxi service in Guwahati.
  • The river taxis will be machine-operated boats and users will be able to book the rides through Ola’s app.
  • It’ll bring commute time down to 2-5 minutes from 45 minutes by road. This MoU was signed during the Global Investors Summit: Advantage Assam.

Howrah Bridge celebrates 75th anniversary

  • On the night of February 3, 1943, the inauguration of the Howrah bridge took place without any fanfare when a lone tramcar rolled down from the Kolkata city end to the Howrah Railway station end.
  • This marvel turned 75 this year.
  • The Howrah Bridge is a suspension type balanced cantilever bridge with the central span between the two main towers of the bridge measuring about 1500 ft.

Ujjwala Yojana to benefit eight crore women now

  • The Union Cabinet took a slew of decisions across sectors.
  • The Cabinet also approved the increase in the target for the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, meant to provide LPG connections to rural women, to eight crore from the earlier five crore, adding that this has to be achieved by 2020.
  • It also approved an additional allocation for the scheme of ₹4,800 crore.

Govt plan to upgrade 24 hospitals to medical colleges gets cabinet nod

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for funds for increasing medical seats and setting up medical colleges in the country. The Cabinet’s nod to increase seats—10,000 undergraduate seats and 8,058 PG seats by 2020-21—and set up 24 new medical colleges, comes as a shot in the arm for a healthcare system which is facing severe shortages of doctors.
  • This will increase the under and post graduate medical seats by 18,058 and adding 248 nursing and midwifery schools.
  • This is to be done at a total estimated cost of ₹14,930.92 crore up to 2019-20.

Cabinet approves Implementation of ‘Prime Minister Research Fellows (PMRF)’

  • The Union Cabinet today approved implementation of ‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’ scheme at a total cost of Rs.1650 crore for a period of seven years beginning 2018-19.
  • Under this scheme, the best students who have completed or are in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs/IISc.
  • Such students, who fulfill the eligibility criteria, and shortlisted through a selection process, as laid down in the PMRF Guidelines, will be offered a fellowship of Rs.70,000/- per month for the first two years, Rs.75,000/- per month for the 3rd year, and Rs.80,000/- per month in the 4th and 5th years. Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars. A maximum of 3000 Fellows would be selected in a three year period, beginning 2018-19.

National Meet on Grassroot Informatics

  • National Informatics Centre (NIC) is organizing a three-day National Meet on Grassroot Informatics- VIVID 2018 in New Delhi.
  • The event will be inaugurated by Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad at India Habitat Centre. The theme for VIVID 2018 is – Cyber Security and Innovation.
  • The Meet is aimed at showcasing the various initiatives of NIC in creating and enhancing the security of Digital Infrastructure in the country.
  • VIVID would be an extensive platform for knowledge sharing which would empower 240 NIC district officials from across the country to interact and leverage on each other’s experience and best practices.

Sushma Swaraj meets Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh

  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh.
  • King Salman inaugurated the prestigious National Heritage and Culture Festival ‘Janadriyah’ in the presence of Mrs Swaraj, at which India is the guest of honour country.
  • It was for the first time that India was accorded the status of ‘Guest of Honour’ at the festival which exhibits Saudi Arabia’s rich tapestry of culture and heritage.
  • The India Pavilion mounted on the occasion is based on the theme ‘Saudi ka Dost Bharat’, showcasing the core values and traditions of India.

Israel to give Air India ₹6 crore for Delhi-Tel Aviv flight

  • Air India will get a one-time grant of €750,000 (approximately ₹6 crore) from Israel for launching direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday.
  • The flight is expected to operate on the shortest route and significantly reduce the cost of travel between the two countries.

Chile gets 5 national parks together the size of Switzerland

  • Chile has created five new national parks that are collectively the size of Switzerland. The new national parks, which aim to preserve vast tracts of Patagonia, comprise 9 million acres of federal land and over 1 million acres of land donated by American philanthropists. Interestingly, the latter marks the largest private land donation in the world.

Nepal’s ex-King visits India

  • Nepal’s last monarch Gyanendra Shah has arrived in Odisha to attend the International Gau Sambardhana Mahotsav as Chief Guest.
  • He will lay the foundation stone for a Gaumata Mandir.
  • Dubbing the event as the ‘Wow Cow Mission’, the event’s organisers said that it aims to raise the status of India’s ‘desi’ cow to boost the economy, agriculture and nutrition.

UK visa cost to increase as health surcharge doubled

  • The UK government has announced that it’ll double the health surcharge on visas to the country from £200 per person per year to £400, raising the travel document’s overall cost. The surcharge is paid by all visitors from outside the European Union, seeking to live in the UK for six months or more, for availing UK national healthcare system’s services.

India slams UN Sanctions Committees on secretive operations

  • India’s Ambassador to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin on Tuesday slammed the Sanctions Committees for taking decisions beyond “the gaze of public knowledge”. Calling for reforms to make their decision-making transparent, he said, “No rationale is provided for such anonymous vetoing of a submission.” This comes after China vetoed declaring Jaish-e-Mohammad chief a global terrorist, reports said.

Indian princess gets Royal Mail stamp honouring suffragettes

  • Indian princess Sophia Alexandra Duleep Singh has been honoured with a Royal Mail stamp of the UK to mark the centenary of the suffragette movement. Sophia, the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, is the only woman to have one of the eight stamps to herself. The image on the stamp shows her selling copies of a Suffragette newspaper in 1913.

₹5.7 crore GST evasion reported in first 5 months of FY18

  • The government has discovered Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion amounting to ₹5.7 crore in 16 cases in first five months of the ongoing fiscal. Further, it found service tax evasion of ₹9,660 crore in a total of 2,938 cases during April-December. Evasion of central excise amounting to ₹7,242 crore in 614 cases was found during the same period.

No angel tax on startups with up to ₹10 cr funding

  • Startups incorporated before 2016 with up to ₹10 crore in angel funding will be exempted from giving angel tax, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has reportedly said. It’ll benefit about 300 startups that received funding from the Angel Investors Network. A separate committee will be set up for the startups’ recognition, reports said, citing an official.

Forbes Releases First-Ever Crypto Rich List, A Compilation Of The 20 Wealthiest People In Crypto

  • Forbes releases the first-ever Crypto Rich List, a compilation of the 20 wealthiest people in crypto.
  • Chris Larsen, a longtime tech executive and Founder of Ripple, tops Forbes’ Crypto Rich List. Larsen’s net worth came close to $20 billion in early January 2018, as a result of owning 5.2 billion XRP, the token of Ripple.
  • He is followed by Ethereum Co-founder Joseph Lubin ($1-5 billion) & Founder of cryptocurrency exchange Binance Changpeng Zhao ($1.1-2 billion).

RBI to link base rate with MCLR from 1 April

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday said it will link the base rate for loans with the marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) from 1 April to improve monetary policy transmission.
  • This is likely to narrow the gap between the base rate and MCLR, and benefit borrowers who are still using the base rate.

Reserve Bank of India projects inflation for Financial Year 2019 at around 4.5%

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projected a higher inflation of 5.1-5.6 per cent in the first half of fiscal 2019 before moderating to 4.5-4.6 per cent in the second half with upside risks.
  • Unveiling the bi-monthly monetary policy, the central bank also lowered economic growth projection to 6.6 per cent for 2017-18, from 6.7 per cent.
  • However, the RBI expects a stronger growth of 7.2 per cent in FY19 (7.3-7.4 per cent in first half and 7.1-7.2 per cent in second half) with balanced risks.

HDFC Bank hikes MCLR-based lending rate by 10 basis points

  • HDFC Bank has hiked its marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points across the six month, one-, twoand three-year buckets, in yet another sign that bank lending rates are on the way up.
  • HDFC Bank follows its private sector peers Axis, Kotak Mahindra, IndusInd and Yes Bank which had all hiked their MCLR rates by 5 to 10 basis points effective from January. HDFC Bank’s six-month rate is now 8 per cent, one-year at 8.20 per cent, two- year at 8.20 per cent and three-year at 8.50 per cent after the hike, effective from February 7.

RBI to set up ombudsman to further regulate NBFCs

  • The Reserve Bank of India wants to further tighten the regulations around the Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) by setting up an ombudsman for these entities.
  • The ombudsman scheme, which will be operationalised by end of this month, will be addressing the customer grievances in the NBFC segment.
  • Till now, for consumer complaints, the RBI had made it mandatory for all the the NBFCs to have a grievance redressal officer, whose name and address has to be put up in the offices of the NBFCs.
  • However, with an ombudsman in place, the customers can directly file a complaint, as per the RBI guidelines announced during the monetary policy. According to RBI, the scheme will cover all deposit-taking NBFCs and those with customer interface having asset size of one million and above initially.

YES Bank raises $600 mn from LSE

  • YES Bank has raised $600 million through its first US dollar denominated bond offering and listed the bonds on London Stock Exchange’s International Securities Market (ISM).
  • This private lender will use the proceeds to fund the bank’s IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) in GIFT City and expand IBU’s growing business opportunities. YES Bank is the first lender based out of GIFT City to launch a Medium Term Note (MTN) programme.
  • YES Bank’s bond issuance comes on the heels of Export-Import Bank of India’s $1 billion bond on London Stock Exchange’s international securities market.

Karnataka Bank hikes deposit rates

  • Karnataka Bank has increased interest rates on domestic term deposits on two slabs with effect from January 30.
  • According to a press release by the bank, interest rate on domestic term deposits for a period of one year to 449 days and for 451 days to two years has been increased to 7.10 per cent from 6.90 per cent (for deposits up to ₹10 crore).
  • A new slab of 450 days has been introduced with a rate of interest of 7.25 per cent (for deposits up to ₹10 crore), it said.

Digital transactions rise to 1.11 billion in January

  • Digital transactions reached a new peak in January in terms of volume after crossing the 1 billion mark last month.
  • They rose 4.73% to 1.11 billion in January from 1.06 billion in December, according to provisional data released late on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The overall value of these transactions was also the second highest in a month in the past year. Transactions worth about Rs131.95 trillion were carried out in January through credit and debit cards, the unified payments interface (UPI), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) and internet banking. The highest so far was in March, at Rs149.59 trillion.

TVS Motor, Intel tie up for green scooter

  • TVS Motor Company Ltd., unveiled ‘futuristic’ scooter and motorcycles to transform future mobility using alternative fuel.
  • It included electric scooter, ethanol-powered Apache motorbike and cruiser motorcycle.
  • To reduce the carbon footprint, TVS showcased ethanol-powered TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi Ethanol. The use of ethanol will reduce the dependence on import of petroleum products.

India successfully test-fires nuclear capable Prithvi-II

  • India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a test range in Odisha.
  • The trial of the surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur.
  • The perfect test launch came after successful trial of Agni-5 on January 18 and Agni-1 missile conducted from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
  • Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines.
  • The state-of-the-art missile uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.

India successfully test-fires nuclear capable Agni-1

  • India on Tuesday successfully test-fired its short-range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-1 with a strike range of over 700 km from a test range off the Odisha coast.
  • The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile was launched as a part of a periodic training activity by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army to consolidate operational readiness.

IIT team develops material 100,000 times thinner than paper

  • IIT Gandhinagar researchers claim to have created the world’s thinnest material, measuring one nanometre, about 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. The 2D material was made using Magnesium diboride for the first time with boron atoms in a honeycomb structure. Scientists have earlier made single-atom-thick graphene, a 2D form of carbon, whose discovery won the 2010 Physics Nobel.

‘Superionic water ice’: Scientists create strange new form of matter that may be found inside Uranus and Neptune

  • Scientists have created a “strange” new form of water that behaves like a cross between a liquid and a solid.
  • The substance, known as “superionic water ice”, is thought to be a key component in the structure of distant planets in our solar system.
  • Researchers had predicted the existence of such a substance as far back as 1988, and while numerical simulations appeared to prove its existence, these are the first experiments to confirm those findings.

100 Million-Year-Old Spider With A Tail Found Trapped In Amber

  • Two teams of scientists on Monday unveiled a “missing-link” species of spider with a scorpion-like tail found perfectly preserved in amber in Southeast Asia’s forests after at least 100 million years.
  • In studies published side-by-side in Nature Ecology and Evolution, one team argued that male sex organs and silk thread-producing teats link the creature to living spiders.
  • The other team pointed to the long tail and a segmented body to argue that Chimerarachne yingi belongs instead to a far more ancient and extinct lineage at least 380 million years old.

Akshay Kumar to be ambassador for road safety

  • Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said he has requested actor Akshay Kumar to become the brand ambassador for the government’s road safety awareness campaign.
  • Adding that the actor promised full cooperation, Gadkari said celebrity ambassadors “will have a positive impact on the new generation”.
  • Earlier, Kumar was appointed ambassador for UP government’s cleanliness campaign.

India ranks 44 out of 50 nations in global IP index

  • India has “increased substantially” its score in the latest international Intellectual Property (IP) index released by the US Chambers of Commerce, ranking 44th out of 50 countries.
  • India’s overall score has increased substantially from 25 per cent (8.75 out of 35) in the 5th edition of the Index to 30 per cent (12.03 out of 40) in the 6th edition, according to the annual report prepared by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the US Chambers of Commerce.
  • India now ranks 44 out of 50 countries. Last year, India ranked 43rd out of 45 countries in the index, with an overall score if 8.4 points.
  • The US tops the list with 37.98 points, followed by United Kingdom (37.97) and Sweden (37.03).
  • The annual report notes that India in July 2017 issued ‘Guidelines on the Examination of Computer-Related Inventions’ which significantly improved the patentability environment for technological innovations.

Mandhana 1st Indian woman to hit ODI tons in 3 away nations

  • Opener Smriti Mandhana slammed a 129-ball 135 against South Africa at Kimberley on Wednesday to become the first Indian woman cricketer to smash ODI hundreds in three away countries. Mandhana had earlier slammed a ton each in Australia and England. The century was also the first by an Indian woman against South Africa in South Africa.

MS Dhoni first India wicketkeeper to reach 400 dismissals in ODIs

  • India wicketkeeper and former captain MS Dhoni achieved another milestone when he stumped out South Africa stand-in skipper Aiden Markram off Kuldeep Yadav as the right-hand batsman became Dhoni’s 400th victim in ODI cricket.
  • Dhoni became the first Indian to effect 400 dismissals in ODIs. He took 315 matches to get to the mark and is behind Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher to be at number four spot in international list.
  • Sri Lanka’s Sangakkara who tops this list had 482 dismissals from 404 matches while Gilchrist (Australia) and Boucher (South Africa) were involved in 472 and 424 dismissals respectively.

IPL’s highest wicket-taker Malinga named Mumbai Indian’s bowling mentor

  • Mumbai Indians have appointed IPL history’s leading wicket-taker and their former player Lasith Malinga as the bowling mentor ahead of the 2018 season.
  • Malinga represented Mumbai Indians as a player in 110 matches and took 154 wickets.
  • Malinga will join Mumbai Indians’ support staff, which is headed by Mahela Jayawardene and also includes Shane Bond and Robin Singh.
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