Current Affairs News in Brief (21-28 February 2018)

  • Saudi King Salman  sacked his military chief and a number of other top commanders in a series of royal decrees issued on 26 February. The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) informed about the termination of the services of General Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, Chief of Staff, adding that Fayyad al-Ruwaili had been appointed as his replacement. No reasons have been assigned for the present shake-up.

  • Second India-Korea Business Summit organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, in partnership with ChosunILbo, KOTRA, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Invest India, was held on 27 February in New Delhi. Aim of the summit is to strengthen the economic relationship, boost trade relations and increase investments between India and Republic of Korea.

  • A first-of-its-kind Aviation Multi Skill Development Centre (MSDC), a CSR initiative of Airports Authority of India (AAI) was inaugurated in Chandigarh on 27 February by the Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, in the presence of Member of Parliament Chandigarh, Smt. Kirron Kher. The Centre has been set up in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and is supported by the Aerospace and Aviation Sector Skill Council (AASSC) of India.

  • Culling of chicken has begun and sale of poultry has been banned in this port town following the detection of H5NI avaian influenza.  

  • Eminent Odia writer Kanakalata Mohanty died on 26 February. She was 82.

  • Veteran footballer Bhaichung Bhutia has resigned from the Trinamool Congress. Bhutia, who joined TMC in 2013, contested from Darjeeling in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He had lost to BJP’s SS Ahluwalia by a margin of nearly 2 lakh votes.

  • The two day international conference on Sustainable Biofuels that is jointly being organized by Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India and Biofuture platform begins at New Delhi on 26 February 2018.

  • Michael McCormack has been elected new Deputy Prime Minister of Australia after being selected as the leader of the country’s National Party, the junior partner in the country’s coalition government. McCormack replaces former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce who was forced to resign last week amid public anger over an extramarital affair with his former press secretary.

  • Reigning Asian Champion Gopi Thonakal retained his title at the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon in New Delhi. In the women’s event also, Monika Athare retained her title. 

  • According to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the priority sector lending target of 11 lakh crore rupees is achievable next fiscal and it will help farmers double their income by 2022.

  • In Indonesia, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 hit 194 kms northwest of Ambon on 26 February. As per the United States Geological Survey, the quake was recorded at a depth of about 39 kms.

  • Scientists have identified a new function for a receptor called dectin-1, which is expressed in the lungs of humans that helps limit allergic reactions to dust mites, shrimp and other invertebrates. 

  • Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on 24 February cleared the appointment of senior journalist Rahul Mahajan as the editor-in-chief of Rajya Sabha Television. Mr. Mahajan, 46 was selected by a five-member search-cum-selection committee headed by Prasar Bharati chairman Surya Prakash.

  •  Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi have for the first time developed a 3D scar-tissue model through tissue engineering. Creating scar tissue in the lab has great implications for the pharmaceutical industry. The cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, which are developing anti-fibrosis or anti-scar medicines, need not have to test them on animals. They can use this tissue-engineered model instead.

  • An eighth century A.D. linear drawing, depicting a fish chiselled on a sheetrock, was found at Srinivasapuram, a hamlet near Pondugula village in Dachepalli mandal of Guntur district, on 24 February. The vintage artefact was found during explorations taken up by the Centre for Culture of and Amaravati (CCVA) under the scheme ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’. The fish drawing, measuring 90×10 cm, belonged to the 8th century A.D. based on an inscription found on a pillar of the Jalapeswara temple, built during the Eastern Chalukyan times.

  • Arabidopsis thaliana plants opened their stomata in a co-ordinated manner aross the canopy. Ensuring that all the pores were not open at the same time helps prevent dessication, and perhaps deal better with light stress.  

  • India has imposed anti-dumping duty on import of ceramic tableware and kitchenware from China in a bid to protect domestic producers. Ceramic tableware and kitchenware shipped in from China will attract an anti-dumping duty of 1.04 US Dollar per kg, making the imports expensive.

  • Distribution of plant species on mountains tend to move uphill due to global warming. A study of the European Alps shows that the abundance of plants from lower regions increases as they shift uphill as compared to their higher-elevation counterparts, showing the latter could eventually lose out.

  • Analysis of data from India’s Chandrayaan-I and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows water is widely distributed across the Moon, contradicting earlier studies. This could help as it could be used as drinking water by astronauts or converted into hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel.

  • In Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Run for New India Marathon in Surat on 25 February. Marathon was flagged off from Lalbhai Contractor Stadium of the city. The Marathon was only to create awareness about social causes. 

  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) has initiated the process for securing an Interpol Red Corner notice against Pakistani diplomat Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was chargesheeted  for conspiring to launch terror strikes on the US and Israeli consulates in South India.

  • Security forces gunned down GNLA Commander in Chief, Sohan D Shira in an encounter in Dobu, Sadugre in East Garo Hills in Meghalaya on 24 February. The self-proclaimed commander-in-chief of the Garo National Liberation Army was active in the Garo Hills where the election is due on February 27. He was involved in several attacks on security forces and civilians as well.

  • Senior journalist and editor-in-chief of National Herald, Neelabh Mishra, passed away on 24 February at a Chennai Hospital at 57. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 February  inaugurated various developmental projects worth 1000 crore rupees in Union territory of Daman and Diu. He launched the helicopter service between Daman and Diu.

  • An Indo-German MOU has been signed for an “Implementation Agreement in Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities in India” on 23 February.  The objective of the programme is to develop and apply concepts for sustainable urban development about the provision of urban basic services and housing in selected cities and Smart Cities in India.

  • The Government of India and The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $84 million loan on 23 February for improvement and expansion of water supply in Bhagalpur and Gaya towns in Bihar. The tranche 2 loan is part of the $200 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Bihar Urban Development Investment Program that was approved by ADB in 2012 to provide sustainable urban infrastructure and services in four towns in Bihar – Bhagalpur, Gaya, Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur.

  • Heavy Water Board, a constituent industrial unit of DAE, signed a collaborative agreement with M/s Clearsynth, Mumbai on 22 February for sale of 20 tonnes of Heavy Water in a year for development of deuterium labeled compounds, NMR Solvents, d-labeled Active Pharma Ingredients (APIs). This marks the beginning of an important era in the annals of Indian Nuclear industry leading to societal benefits for the masses. It is worth noting that during the previous years Indian industries have imported deuterated compounds and Heavy Water to the tune of 9 Million USD. This Agreement will initiate import substitution for the deuterated compounds and Heavy Water.

  • The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has been adjudged as the best marching contingent among paramilitary and other auxiliary forces marched at Republic Day Parade 2018 at Rajpath.

  • For the first time, DNA barcoding of orchids will be done to check its thriving illegal trade in the country. Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has undertaken a research project to correlate orchid trafficking with forensic science. Orchids having high medicinal value are widely spread across the northeastern states and in northern Himalayan ranges in the country. Nearly 1,600 medicinal species including that of Orchids are found in Uttarakhand which is widely used in Ayurvedic and Allopathic medicines. A 2012 report of CITES has listed over 500 species which are exported from India across countries like Denmark, Germany, USA, Japan, UK, Switzerland, France and others.


  • Swachch Bharat brand ambassador 106-year-old Kunwar Bai died at Raipur in Chhattisgarh on 23 February. A resident of Kotabharri village in Dhamtari district, Kunwar Bai was in the national news as a mascot for Swachch Bharat campaign, she sold all her goats to construct a toilet at her home. Not only was she applauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the PM also touched her feet and felicitated her during a public meeting in Rajnandgaon in February 2016. 

  • Meghalaya State Election Commission is organising a mega-event ‘Rock The Boat With Your Vote’. The purpose of the cultural program is to remind people of their responsibility to vote for a strong democracy. 

  • Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said there was sufficient evidence to charge at least 41 senior officers and officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity. South Sudan’s four-year-old civil war has been characterised by extreme brutality and attacks on civilians. But, no high-ranking officials have been held to account, despite African Union promises to establish a special court to try alleged crimes. 

  • Textiles Secretary, Anant Kumar Singh on 23 February 2018 inaugurated 45th addition of IHGF Delhi Fair – Spring 2018 organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts at Knowledge Park – ll, Greater Noida. Handicrafts sector plays a significant and important role in the country’s economy and is a key creator of employment to a vast segment of craft persons in rural and semi-urban areas. The sector generates substantial foreign exchange for the country while preserving its cultural heritage. Handicrafts exports during the year 2016-17 was Rs.24,392.39 crores with overall 13.15% increase in comparison to last year and the exports of handicrafts during 10 months of the current financial year 2017-18 is Rs. 19,862.19 crores.

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, the three-day ‘Festival of Arunachal’ which started with the celebration of the 32nd Statehood Day of the state, concluded on 22 February. The festival was declared open by the State Governor Dr BD Mishra. During the festival various tribes of the state and from outside showcased their cultural and traditional identity. ‘Festival of Arunachal’ was aimed at showcasing the symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony and propagating the spirit of national integration.

  • Australian Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader, Barnaby Joyce has announced to step down. He decided to quit after an allegation of sexual harassment and denied any wrongdoing. Joyce has been in news for two weeks since it emerged that he had left his wife of 24 years for his younger former media adviser, who is now expecting their baby boy.


  • The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on 22 February went public by listing its municipal bonds worth Rs 200 crore through Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). Chief Secretary of the Telangana government S K Joshi unveiled the listing of municipal bonds on BSE by formally ringing a metal disc at a programme held at the GHM.


  • Paramilitary commandos may soon be deployed to guard the Indian embassy and diplomatic staff in war-ravaged Iraq, following threats from the Islamic State (IS). The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been tasked to provide its best combat personnel for the job.


  • Gopalganj district of Bihar has set a new record by constructing more than 10,000 toilets in only 100 hours. As per the district administration, the target was fixed for constructing 10,000 toilets in 100 hours but not only the target was achieved but the district crossed the target by constructing 11244 toilets within the stipulated time frame.

  • India will host the first International Solar Alliance (ISA) summit on 11th March, which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Efforts are underway to put together 121 projects, which can be signed in two phases – about 50 on March 11 and another 71 on April 20. The summit will be held in Delhi.


  • Ace striker Rani Rampal was named the captain of a 20-strong Indian women’s hockey team for March 2018 series against Korea. As per the chief coach Harendra Singh, Korea Tour will help to analyse the areas that require improvement ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.


  • The first sale of Electoral Bonds will commence from March 1 for a period of ten days. Electoral Bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue and no payment shall be made to any payee Political Party if the Bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period. The Bond deposited by any eligible political party to its account shall be credited on the same day. 

  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, EPFO has declared 8.55 per cent interest rate for 2017-18 for its about 5 crore members. This was decided during the meeting of Central Board of Trustees of EPFO in New Delhi. For 2016-17 the rate was 8.65 per cent and in 2015-16 the rate was 8.8 per cent.

  • A three –day (21-23 February) India International Textiles Expo (IITExpo) of India concludes in Sri Lankan capital of Colombo on February 23. It was organized by Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) with the support of Union Ministry of Textiles & Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

  • Germany  has suspended preferential visas for private travel by members of Cambodia’s government, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, following a government crackdown on the opposition. The visa suspension is the latest action taken against Hun Sen’s government following the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), by the Supreme Court last year.  CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government with U.S. help last year.

  • The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it will start the supply of Euro-VI petrol and diesel in all the retail outlets of Delhi from 1st of April this year, considering the serious pollution levels in National Capital region and adjoining areas. Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standard was scheduled to come into force from April 1, 2020 across the country. 

  • The Centre has announced a special package of 925 crore rupees for strengthening the power transmission and distribution system in Arunachal Pradesh. The fund would be used for re-conductoring of old 11 KV lines and conversion of selected long LT distribution lines with 11 KV High Voltage Distribution System.

  • At a special ceremony in Delhi on 21 February, at Royal Bhutanese Embassy India and Bhutan marked 50 year of diplomatic ties. Ties that have blossomed with each passing day.

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI on February 21, questioned the owner of Rotomac pens, Vikram Kothari, and his son Rahul at the agency’s headquarters in New Delhi in connection with an alleged loan default of nearly 3700 crore rupees to a consortium of seven nationalised banks.

  • The CPI(M)-led Left Front government in Kerala has made vaccination compulsory for school admissions from next academic year onwards. Parents will have to show details of shots given to children at the time of enrolment. Releasing the new health policy draft on 20 February, health minister KK Shailaja said the state government is committed to achieving total immunisation.


  • The Supreme Cour on 21 February allowed the Centre to withdraw the remaining four companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) from West Bengal’s violence-hit Darjeeling area after March 8. A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, considered Attorney General K K Venugopal’s submission that the deployment of the central armed forces fell under the Central government’s administrative domain. The apex court set aside the Calcutta High Court order that had restrained the Centre from withdrawing CAPF from the state’s hill regions on the ground that normalcy had not returned.

  • The government plans to give children born in India unique numbers which will be used to track the holistic development of children in education, health and jobs. Each child will just have a unique number, with no biometric data capture involved (as it is in Aadhaar), and that issues related to privacy and security will, as a result, not arise.

  • The cabinet on 20 February approved creation of a fund of ₹60,000 crore to finance the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), a move  would add momentum to the pace of the implementation of the government scheme. The National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) will have provisioning of ₹60,000 crore funds over next four years.

  • Goa’s beaches have the highest concentration of plastic debris in India, says a study by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi. Every metre of beach sand in Goa has an average 25.47g of plastic. The total litter, including nylon fishing nets, glass, e-waste, Styrofoam and thermocol, is 205.75g/m2 — the highest in the country. After Goa, the 33 beaches in Karnataka are contaminated the most with plastic, with a concentration of 21.91g/m2 followed by 12 beaches in Gujarat at an average 12.62g/m2. The quantum of litter on Karnataka’s beaches was 178.44 g/m2 and 90.56g/m2 in Gujarat.

  • Eleven Chinese warships sailed into the eastern Indian Ocean against the backdrop of a political crisis in the Maldives, where New Delhi and Beijing are competing for influence, though Indian officials said there were no indications the vessels were headed towards the island nation. It was reported that about 10 days ago, the ‘Navy Blue 2018A’ far-sea training formation of the Chinese navy crossed the Strait of Indonesia and five main warships entered the east Indian Ocean.

  • N R Manikandan, 14, from Kerala has been selected for a month ­long ‘high performance’ training with Real Madrid in July 2018.

  • The UK’s three largest cities – London, Manchester and Birmingham – have formed an alliance to jointly promote English tourism in three of the world’s fastest growing markets: India, China, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The partnership will focus on increasing visitors arriving in one city and then travelling across different regions.

  • New Zealand’s national carrier on 20 February cancelled all flights in and out of the capital Wellington, and the southern city of Christchurch declared a state of emergency as the remnants of tropical cyclone Gita pummelled the country.

  • Nepal’s two major communist forces – the CPNUML and CPN-Maoist Center – announced on 20 February, they would merge and form a new party, a political development that could cause unease in New Delhi.

  • The Malaysian artist Fahmi Reza was jailed for a month on 20 February for publishing a caricature of scandal­plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak looking like a clown. The picture of the premier was widely used in demonstrations against Razak. 

  • President Abdulla Yameen’s regime rammed a 30-day extension of the controversial emergency in the Maldives through parliament on 20 February, ignoring the concerns of the world community and calls for democracy to be restored in the honeymoon islands.

  •  Bangladesh has agreed to sell a large stake in its stock exchange to a Chinese consortium rebuffing a rival bid from India. The Dhaka Stock Exchange on February 10 approved the Chinese offer to buy a quarter of the bourse’s 1.8 billion shares, but the regulator asked it to “further scrutinise” the decision.

  • University Grants Commission on 20 February 2018 constituted a four-member Empowered Expert Committee, which is being entrusted to conduct the appraisal of applications for shortlisting 20 Institutions of Eminence. N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner of India is the Chairperson of the committee. The government is likely to announce the names of the selected institutions by April 2018.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 20 February 2018, proposed a four-pronged strategy to achieve his government’s key agrarian agenda of doubling farmers’ income: reducing cultivation costs, ensuring profitable prices, processing farm waste and creating non-farm sources of income. The PM was addressing 300 policy planners, farmers, economists and bankers who gathered for a two-day conference (19-20 February in New Delhi) organised by the agriculture ministry to suggest ways to increase farm income. Modi called for “hackathons” in Indian Institutes of Technology for out-of-the-box ideas in agriculture. “These really work, believe me. Their solutions have worked in other areas of governance.”

  • Saudi Arabia will debut with its first ever Arab Fashion Week in in Riyadh in March this year. The move is another example of the opening up of the country under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious transformation programme. As per the Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council, the fashion week will be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October. 

  • India captain Virat Kohli became only the second batsman after South Africa’s AB de Villiers, in the history of the game to cross the 900-point mark concurrently in Tests and ODIs in the latest ICC ODI player rankings released on 20 February. 

  • The way the TMC Government in West Bengal has used the 100 Days’ Work Scheme (NREGA) in the service of garbage disposal by the panchayats has become a role model for the country. Union Rural Development Ministry has sent instructions to the state and union territory governments to study and implement the Bengal model. 

  • The Defence Acquisition Council, DAC, on 20 February 2018 cleared capital acquisition proposals of the Services valued at over 1850 crore rupees.  These include procurement of essential quantity of Infantry Combat Vehicle for Mechanised Infantry and other Arms and Services at an estimated cost of over 1125 crore rupees from the Ordnance Factory Board. The DAC also accorded approval for procurement of one Survey Training Vessel for meeting the Navy’s growing ‘Hydrographic Survey’ needs in ports, harbours and Exclusive Economic Zone.

  • Uttar Pradesh government has signed 900 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with different industrial groups for investment in the state ahead of a two day UP investment summit.

Current News in Brief (11-20 February, 2018)



 

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