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Daily Current Affairs 20th Feb 2018

Agreement with Israel on film co-production
  • Cabinet has approved an agreement signed b/w India & Israel on co-production of films.
  • Co-production of an Indian film with an international party means that Indian producer can access international funds & collaborate on script, talent & distribution at international level.
  • It will also create a common pool of creative, artistic, technical, financial & marketing resources of the 2 countries
Tribunal to settle Mahanadi water dispute
  • Cabinet has approved setting up of a tribunal to resolve the dispute b/w Odisha & Chhattisgarh on sharing Mahanadi river water.
  • The tribunal would determine water sharing on the basis of availability of water in Mahanadi basin, present utilisation of water resource & potential for future development.
  • Decision comes after SC directive to form the tribunal to resolve the long-standing dispute.
Govt gives nod to Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill
  • Cabinet has given its nod to introduce Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill in the parliament.
  • Bill aims to amend Sec 85 (b) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982 to remove ceiling of Rs 100.
  • It also aims at hiking ceiling of foreman’s commission from a max of 5% to 7%.
  • Chit business will be required to use the word Fraternity Fund to signify its nature as well as to differentiate its working from Prize Chits
Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week
  • Saudi Arabia is set to host its first Arab Fashion Week next month as part of a push to support aspiring Saudi designers and drive growth in the sector.
  • The move is another example of the opening up of the country under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious transformation programme.
  • In the past, Arab Fashion Week has been hosted so far exclusively by Dubai.
Spiritual leader Aga Khan to arrive in India
  • Spiritual leader, Shah Karim Al Hussaini, the Aga Khan, will arrive in India on an 11-day visit.
  • Aga Khan is the founder & chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network and is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.
  • He is visiting India on an invitation of the vice president as this year marks the Diamond Jubilee of Aga Khan leadership.
RB Pandit takes over as Commandant of INA
  • Vice Admiral RB Pandit, Flag-Officer-Commanding, Western Fleet at Mumbai, took over as the Commandant of Indian Naval Academy.
  • He replaces Vice Admiral SV Bhokare who handed over responsibilities to Vice Admiral Pandit after a tenure of over 15 months.
  • He has also been the Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India at Islamabad, Pakistan.
Virgin group & Mah govt. to build Hyperloop
  • The Virgin Group has signed an ‘intent agreement’ with the Maharashtra State govt to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune.
  • The first hyperloop route will link central Pune with Mumbai and the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport.
  • The ​hyperloop is expected to reduce travel time between the cities to 20 minutes, from the present three hours.
Private companies to bid for coal mines
  • The cabinet has approved a plan to allow private companies to bid for coal mines for commercial production.
  • It is the most awaited reform in the coal sector that will bring updated foreign mining technologies, investments into the country while rising output and saving forex.
  • Coal accounts for 70% of India’s power generation, and the country has a target to produce 1 billion tonnes by 2022.
PNB’s Viability Rating On Negative Watch
  • Amid the ongoing million dollar fraud, credit rating body Fitch has placed Punjab National Bank’s viability rating in the negative watch category.
  • PNB’s viability rating of ‘bb’ was placed in the Rating Watch Negative, following the fraud reported recently.
  • Fitch would resolve the rating watch once more clarity emerges on the extent of control failures & impact on PNB’s financial position.
Pakistan riskiest place to be born
  • According to a UNICEF report, Pakistan is the riskiest country to be born in, with 1 in 22 babies born there dying before they turn 1 month old.
  • India’s neonatal mortality rate is 25.4, which ranks it at 12 among 52 “lower-middle-income countries” in terms of risk for newborns.
  • The safest nation for birth is Japan, where less than 1 in 1,000 babies die by the time they complete a month.
Kakkar takes charge as ONGC Offshore Director
  • Rajesh Kakkar has taken over charge of Director (Offshore) of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
  • He will look after oil & gas production from ONGC’s offshore fields that contribute 70% & 78% of ONGC’s domestic crude oil & gas production respectively.
  • Kakkar has more than 3 and a half decades of experience in the various aspects of operations and management in both offshore and onshore fields.
India test fires Agni-II missile
  • India has test-fired its medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of 2,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
  • Agni-II was developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory along with other DRDO labs & integrated by Bharat Dynamics.
  • The 20-m-long Agni-II ballistic missile has a launch weight of 17 tonne & can carry a payload of 1,000 kg over a distance of 2,000 kms.
UK, India launch joint research projects
  • UK- India Joint research projects on Water Quality Research & Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment were launched in New Delhi.
  • Water Quality Research programme has 8 projects & Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment programme has 4 projects.
  • Projects aims to deliver benefits & research solutions not only to UK & India but also to address global sustainable development goals.
Star India wins audio-visual production right
  • Star India has won the audio-visual production rights for not just IPL but also for BCCI’s domestic circuit for the 2018-19 season.
  • The service agreement and the contract term will cover one season of the IPL (2018) and one season of Domestic Cricket (2018-2019).
  • The Star India also holds the media rights of the Indian Premier League.
Mandarin approved as official language of Pak
  • Pakistani Senate has approved a motion to declare Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pak.
  • Relation b/w Islamabad & Beijing would deepen further & help people connected with CPEC communicate easily if Mandarin was made the official language.
  • Punjabi, which is widely spoken in Punjab province of Pakistan, Pashto & many other native languages have not been declared official languages.
India to be Global Host for Environment Day
  • India and United Nations have signed a document declaring India as the Global Host of World Environment Day, 2018.
  • This came despite the fact that India was one of three countries to reject concrete target in a UN agreement to reduce plastic waste in oceans in December 2017.
  • The theme of this year’s environment day observance is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.​​
Axis Bank opens offshore banking branch
  • Axis Bank has announced opening of off-shore banking unit at the International Financial Services Centre at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.
  • The Bank will now be able to provide a more comprehensive range of products to its customers with access to International financial markets.
  • Offshore Banking unit is capable to trade in foreign currency in overseas market & also with Indian Banks
Modi launches Nasscom’s ‘Future Skills’
  • PM Modi has launched Nasscom’s platform—Future Skills—for skill development in 8 varied technologies.
  • Modi launched the platform via video conference during the inaugural session of the World Congress on Information Technology 2018.
  • The platform offers skilling and up-skilling in Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, Internet of Things, big data analytics, 3D printing & cloud computing.
Govt extends transmission charge waiver
  • Govt has extended the waiver of inter-state power transmission charges & losses for solar & wind power projects commissioned till 31 March 2022.
  • Earlier waiver was available to solar & wind power projects commissioned till 31 Dec 2019 & 31 March 2019, respectively.
  • Order also provides that waiver would be available to only those projects which are awarded through competitive bidding process.
Govt appoints two new EDs in banks
  • Debashish Mukherjee & Murali Ramaswam have been appointed as the executive directors of Canara Bank & Vijaya Bank respectively.
  • Mukherjee is at present the general manager of United Bank of India & Ramaswami is the GM of Vijaya Bank.
  • Mukherjee’s appointment is initially for 3 yrs but it is extendable by 2 yrs after review of his performance while Ramaswami will have ​tenure till Dec 31, 2020
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