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

  • All Singapore citizens aged 21 and above will get a one-off “SG Bonus” of up to S$300 each as the 2017 budget came in with a surplus of almost S$9.61 billion (US $7.6 bn). Singapore Finance minister Heng Swee Keat made the announcement during his budget speech in Parliament, describing the bonus as a “hongbao”, the Mandarin word for a monetary gift given on special occasions. Singapore’s revised budget for fiscal 2017 showed a surplus of billion.

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 20 February has given its ex-post facto approval to the Cooperation Agreement between India and the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) to develop long-term cooperation and partnership in different areas of railway sector.  The Cooperation Agreement was signedon 14th December, 2017.

  • The Union Cabinet on February 20, has given its ex-post facto approval to an Agreement on Film Co-production between India and Israel signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu to India, in the presence of both the Prime Ministers in Hyderabad House in New Delhi on 15th January, 2018. The signing of the Film co-production agreement will lead to mutual exchange of art and culture, create goodwill and better understanding among the people of both the countries as well as various aspects of film making.

  • Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Shri R.K. Singh inaugurated the‘International R&D Conclave’- two-day conference on Emerging Opportunities and Challenges of R&D in Indian Power Sector, organised by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in New Delhi on 20 February. 

  • The Centre has constitued a committee headed by the Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog to study the Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam and neighbouring states.

  • A Peruvian court ordered former President Alberto Fujimori to stand trial for the 1992 killings of six farmers, arguing that he lacks immunity despite a recent pardon for a different crime.

  • Christian Coleman breaks world indoor record in 60 meters. The World silver medalist ran the distance in 6.34 seconds at the US indoor national championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico on 19 February. Fellow American Maurice Greene had held the record of 6.39 seconds for 20 years. The 21-year-old Coleman had won the 100-metres silver medal at last year’s world championships in London.


  • Australia’s most-capped female player and vice-captain Alex Blackwell was hailed as a “tremendous leader” in the women’s game after announcing her retirement from international and state cricket. Blackwell, 34, made her debut for Australia in an ODI against England in 2003, and went on to play 251 matches across all three formats for her country. She became just the fourth Australian woman to pass 5,000 runs when she batted in the Test, T20 and one-day arena, compiling 5,250 runs.

  • The French Riviera town of Menton is hosting the 85th edition of its Fete du Citron or Lemon festival till march 4. This year’s theme is Bollywood. An estimated 145 tonnes of citrous fruits were used to prepare the floats and displays.

  • Union Water Resources ministry held a regional conference of southern states in Hyderabad on February 20, to resolve the pending inter-state water issues. Issues such as the implementation of the latest orders of the Supreme Court on sharing of Cauvery waters, interlinking of rivers like Godavari-Cauvery, notification of jurisdiction of Krishna and Godavari Water Management Boards, Polavaram Project are among issues scheduled to came up for discussion during the meeting. Six southern states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana participated in the meeting.

  • Students who survived a mass shooting at their Florida school on 19 February announced plans to march on Washington in a bid to “shame” lawmakers into reforming laws that make powerful firearms readily available. The “March for our Lives” will take place on March 24, with sister marches planned across the US.

  • In order to encourage people who come under the Swachh Bharat Mission’s toilet construction scheme, Tamil Nadu’s Karaikal municipality has announced that those who complete toilet construction by March 15 would receive gold coins.
  • The residents of Neduvasal (Tamilnadu) and its surrounding villages in Pudukkottai district have unanimously adopted a resolution to go on another round of protests from April 12 if the Centre failed to scrap the hydrocarbon project at Neduvasal block.

  • Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on 18 February announced plans to set up the country’s first-ever ‘Integrated Industrial Development Area‘ in the Maharashtra over the next 10 years.

  • Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative. The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on 15 February, also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades. Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male guardian to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the Palace Queen Humsafar Express between Mysuru and Udaipur in Mysuru Railway Station on 19 February 2018. The train between both the stations will act  as a backbone of tourism, an employment generating industry.   Since both the Mysuru Palace and Udaipur palace are iconic tourist attractions,  this special train will create a new tourist circuit connecting North India and the South.

  • Noted French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood, a disciple of the late Stephane Grappelli, died of a heart attack. Lockwood, who performed at Paris jazz venue Bal Blomet on 18 February, had turned 62 on February 11.

  • Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung, which has been active since 2010, spewed volcanic ash as high as 5,000 metres into the air, as it erupted on 19  February. The 2,460 metre-high volcano sent a hot cloud of ash in the southern and southeastern direction. This was the biggest ever eruption of the volcano in 2018. Before an eruption in August 2010, Mount Sinabung had been inactive for four centuries. Indonesia straddles the so-called “pacific ring of fire” and is prone to seismic activities and occasional eruptions.


  • Nearly 500 Boko Haram suspects have been released by a Nigerian court citing a lack of evidence, with some detainees held for years without charge. The 475 suspects will be returned to their home states for proper rehabilitation before being sent back to their families.


  • Nawab Fazal Jah Bahadur, the last surviving son of the seventh Nizam, Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, and late Leela Begum Sahiba, passed away on 18 February.

  • According to the Election Commission the final voter turnout figure in Tripura Assembly elections stood at 89.8 per cent. The polling for the 59 assembly constituencies out of 60 was held on 18 February. In the previous Assembly elections, the polling percentage was 91.82 per cent and in the Lok Sabha poll, it was 84.32 per cent.

  • Rating agency Crisil has put the scam-ridden Punjab National Bank’s ratings on ‘watch’, following the Rs 11,400-crore fraud detected by the lender at one of its Mumbai branches. The fraudulent transactions were carried out by diamond jeweller Nirav Modi and his companies by acquiring fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from the lender’s Brady House branch at Horniman Circle branch in south Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other lenders.


  • Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings by winning the Rotterdam Open on 18 February, his 97th career title. The 36-year-old, the oldest No.1 in history, thrashed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in a one-sided final. In the Open era, only American Jimmy Connors has won more titles with 109.  He is now the oldest number one rank holder tennis player in history. He is three years older than American Andre Agassi was when previously holding the record for oldest No.1 back in 2003. This was his third title in Rotterdam following successes in 2005 and 2012 and he now stands 12-0 for the season.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 18, 2018, inaugurated the ”Magnetic Maharashtra Convergence 2018″ Global Investors Summit in Mumbai. Through the summit “Magnetic Maharashtra”, the state government is seeking to attract investors to explore business opportunities in the state of Maharashtra.

  • Prime Minister inaugurated the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Mumbai on 18 February 2018.  The Wadhwani Institute aims to develop Artificial Intelligence-based solutions across areas of societal significance. The research institute will have Artificial Intelligence and research experts from Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, and few other leading world universities to come and teach at Wadhwani.

  • India’s Yuki Bhambri has finished as runner-up in the Men’s Singles in the Chennai Open ATP Challenger Tennis Championships. In the final in Chennai on 18 February, he was beaten by top-seeded Australian Jordan Thompson in three sets 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Bhambri had beaten Thompson in 2015 in the Shanghai Chellengers quarterfinals.

  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, graced and addressed the diamond jubilee celebrations of PGDAV College, University of Delhi on February 18, 2018 in New Delhi.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18 February inaugurated new office building of Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi. The world’s largest political party- Bhartiya Janta Party got its new headquarters at 6-A, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg.


  • The Australian Victoria provincial government has announced more than $160,000 in funds for upgrading the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Victoria. The Cultural and Heritage Centre also known as Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple was consecrated in 1994. It is said to be the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere.

  • In Assam, three Terminal Marts will be set up to give a boost to agricultural market in the state. Steps are being taken to set up such marts at Silchar, Jorhat and Guwahati. An MoU has been signed to develop the largest banana market of Asia which is situated at Darangiri in Goalpara district of Assam.

  • India and Iran signed nine agreements on 17 February with Tehran agreeing to lease to New Delhi operational control of a part of the Chabahar port for 18 months.

  •  The United States Department of Commerce has recommended that President Donald Trump impose steep tariffs on steel imports from India, China and other countries as they could “threaten to impair national security. The commerce department recommended a tariff of at least 53% on all steel products from India, which accounted for 2% of the US’ steel imports in 2017, according to the International Trade Administration of the US department of commerce. The department recommended global tariff of at least 24% on all steel products and 7% on all aluminium imports.

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved the renaming of several villages whose names were considered by the local population to be derogatory to a particular gender or community or simply having a negative connotation. The proposals for changing names of the village are first sent by local administration to the state government. Then the state government does a basic check on whether the proposal is backed by popular public sentiment and if it is, the same is forwarded to the (home) ministry.  the Haryana government proposed changing the name of Chamar Khera in Hisar district to Sundar Khera. The ministry approved the name of another Haryana village, Kinnar, to Gaiba Nagar.

  • In United States, thirteen Russians and three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 US Presidential election through social media propaganda. It was aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump and harming the prospects of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. 
  • Prem Watsa-owned Fairfax Holdings Ltd will buy 51% stake in Kerala based Catholic Syrian Bank. The deal, which sets the stage for the first ever takeover of a bank by a foreign institution, has been valued at ₹140 a share -which translates into a deal value of around ₹578 crore, according to Mint calculations.

  •  A Scotland-based company expects to supply two third generation deep search and rescue vehicles (DSRVs) to the Indian Navy by June following the successful completion of harbour acceptance trials. The two complete flyaway submarine rescue vehicles are to be delivered under a £193-million contract awarded to JFD, a leading underwater capability provider, in March 2016.

  • Scientists have, for the first time, directly observed the shower of electrons bouncing across Earth’s magnetic field, which causes the spectacular, colourful phenomenon commonly known as the Northern Lights. While the cause of these colourful auroras has long been hypothesized, researchers had never directly observed the underlying mechanism until now. The spectacle of these subatomic showers is legendary. Green, red, and purple waltz across the night sky, blending into one another for a fantastic show widely considered one of the great wonders of the world.

  • The Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, was formed in a colossal crash between two smaller star systems no more than three billion years ago when Earth already existed, researchers said. Calculating the birth date of the galaxy has been a major challenge for astrophysicists given the vast age gap between the different stars it is made up of.

  • The microscopic eggs of an endangered butterfly have been found in Scotland, suggesting the insect has returned to breed in the country for the first time in more than 130 years. Lepidopterists discovered white-letter hairstreak eggs on wych elm trees at Lennel, Berwickshire, this month after an adult butterfly was spotted last summer 10 miles away – the first sighting in Scotland since 1884.

  • Former Professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vinod Kumar Jain has been appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of the Tezpur University. He will serve as the vice-chancellor for a period of five years from the date he takes charge until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.. Prof Jain was conferred D Phil from the Sussex University, Brighton UK in 1982. Prof Jain served as a scientist, class I (1983-1985) in the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi before joining JNU’s School of Environmental Sciences as an associate professor in 1985.

  • A social organisation from Bhikangaon town in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district has got its name registered in the Golden Book of World Records by conducting blood tests on as many as 2,501 people within a period of six hours. The organisation, Lakshya Parivar, broke the previous record set at California in the USA, where blood tests were conducted on 1,460 people in six hours, Asia head of Golden Book of World Records.

  • The Centre has fixed a procurement target of 320-lakh tonnes for wheat during the current rabi marketing season 2018-19 which begins after the crop is harvested in mid-April. The central government has also set the paddy/rice procurement at 55 lakh tonnes for the rabi marketing season this year. Of the 320 lakh tonnes of wheat, Punjab (119 lkt), Haryana (75lkt), Madhya Pradesh (67lkt), Uttar Pradesh (40 lkt) and Rajasthan (16lkt) are expected to contribute the bulk quantity to the central pool for distribution under the Targetted Public Distribution System and for mid-day meals and other welfare progammes. 

  • Zaggle, a payments and group dining company, has inducted cricket sensation and all-rounder Hardik Pandya as its brand ambassador. As part of the engagement, Hardik will be endorsing Zaggle’s consumer and corporate offerings which include group dining deals, corporate cards and rewards & loyalty systems.

  • Sanjiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Finserv, on 15 February 2018, was named the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017. Bajaj Finserv emerged as the country’s leading name in financial services with solutions across lending, life and general insurance and wealth advisory.

  • A Japanese and an American astronaut floated outside the International Space Station on February 16, 2018 on a spacewalk to repair the orbiting outposts robotic arm and move some equipment into storage. The spacewalk is the first for Japanese Aerospace Agency (JAXA) astronaut Norishige Kanai, and the fourth for his US counterpart Mark Vande Hei. 

  • Mangalore University and the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, on 14 February signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore opportunities in areas of multi-disciplinary research.

  • Brazil has announced to declare a state of social emergency and boost troops on its border with Venezuela in response to an influx of people fleeing the crisis in that country. The declaration will free the authorities to allocate infrastructure funds and to put in place humanitarian measures on the Venezuelan border. The Brazilian government says that some 40,000 Venezuelans have now fled the economic breakdown and political unrest in their oil-rich country to take shelter in Boa Vista, capital of Brazil’s border state of Roraima.

  • The United States has publicly blamed Russia for carrying out the so-called NotPetya cyber attack last year that crippled government and business computers in Ukraine before spreading around the world. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the attack in June of 2017 spread worldwide, causing billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia and the Americas.

  • The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suspended Romania’s drug-testing laboratory for six months. As per the Agency it imposed the sanction on the lab in Bucharest due to a number of non-conformities with regulations. WADA has stepped up checks on laboratories around the world ever since uncovering evidence of wide-ranging doping and cover-ups at the Moscow laboratory. Various labs from around the world have had their accreditations temporarily suspended to fix problems with their testing procedures.

  • Indian boxers won 10 medals, including 5 gold, at the Asian Games Test event in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta on February 15.

  • World champions Germany remain top of the FIFA rankings published in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 16. Olympic champions Brazil are second in the football rankings with European title-holders Portugal third.




  • The Airport Operations Control Center, AOCC, was inaugurated at Goa airport in Dabolim on 16 February. Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra was present on the occasion.  With this, Goa airport became the 12th AAI-managed airport with AOCC facility. The AOCC would help provide real-time information on flights operating at the airport on flight information displays. 

  • Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has died aged 65.  In 1988, he was elected secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the overarching body of the country’s labour movement. In 1999, Tsvangirai founded the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change).

  • Ministry of Railways has directed Zonal Railways to discontinue pasting reservation charts on train coaches for 6 months starting from March 1, 2018. In an official release, the Ministry said, digital charts will continue to be displayed at the platform of the train. Earlier, pasting of reservation charts on the reserved coaches of all trains was discontinued at New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Chennai Central, Howrah and Sealdah Stations on experimental basis for a period of 3 months.

  • Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on February 16,  kicked off Swachhta Pakhwada in his Ministry by sweeping area outside Krishi Bhawan in New Delhi.  The fortnight-long cleanliness drive will continue till the 28th of this month (February). It aims at creating awareness on the need for sustained maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene. 

  • The Centre will set up 562 more Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in tribal areas of the country. As per Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, 271 such schools have already been sanctioned out of which, 190 are currently operational.  By the year 2022, every block with at least 20 thousand tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya School.

  • Iran President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Hyderabad on 15 February on a three-day India visit during which the two countries will discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest. Union minister of state for power RK Singh and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan received him at the Begumpet airport.

  • The diarrhoea outbreak reported from 10 wards in south Kolkata may have been triggered by a bacterial growth in the drinking water supplied by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. As per the State Director of Health Services, the preliminary report of tests conducted by the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine suggests a “bacterial growth”.

  • Prince Henrik, the husband of Denmark’s monarch Queen Margrethe II, died on  13 February at Fredensborg Palace. He was 83. In August 2017, Prince Henrik said that he did not wish to be buried next to the Queen at Roskilde Cathedral, where Danish royals have been buried since 1559.




  • President Ram Nath Kovind on February 14, 2018,  inaugurated the International conference on Agriculture – Agricon 2018 at the Chandra Shekher Azad university of Agriculture and Technology in Kanpur.

  • The British warship HMS Sutherland, an anti-submarine frigate, will sail from Australia through the disputed South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation rights, a move likely to irk Beijing. China claims nearly all of the resource-rich waterway and has been turning reefs and islets into islands and installing military facilities such as runways and equipment on them.

  • According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) over 22,000 people fled Congo to Uganda in the first week of February 2018 following a surge of ethnic violence in the northeast, raising the total number of arrivals to about 34,000 since the start of the year. At least 30 people have been killed in fighting between Hema herders and Lendu farmers in the province of Ituri , echoing clashes that killed thousands of Hema and Lendu during a civil war that ended in 2003.


  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh flagged off “Jal Mitti Rath Yatra” from India Gate on February 14, 2018. The yatra is the launchpad for a mega yagna in March called the ‘Rashtra Raksha Mahayagya’.

  • The Defence Ministry approved capital acquisition proposals worth Rs.15,935 crore which included purchase of 7.40 lakh assault rifles, 5,719 sniper rifles and light machine guns to bolster the strength of the armed forces.

  • Venezuela and Libya have been suspended from voting in the UN General Assembly for the third time in three years because of millions of dollars in unpaid dues to the world body. According to a letter from Guterres to the Assembly President, Venezuela must pay a minimum of 25,200,296 US dollar to restore its voting rights and Libya must pay at least 6,594,842 US dollar. Venezuela is mired in an economic and political crisis and Libya has two rival governments, each backed by an array of militias.

  • Delhi Government health department under the cigarette and other tobacco products act 2003, issued notice to Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan for appearing in a pan masala advertisement. 

  • Government has proposed to allow premature closure of Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts and permit opening of small savings accounts in the name of minor. It will make amendments in Small Savings Act in this regard. 

  • Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra will have to pay more from April 1 as the government has decided to introduce a 200 charge for those wishing to see the main mausoleum of the heritage site. As of now, there is no separate fee for entry to the main mausoleum, where the graves of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal lie. The entry fee has also been raised from existing 40 rupees to 50 rupees.




  • National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the Karnataka government over reports that three people have died and 35 others have been hospitalised due to gastroenteritis after allegedly consuming contaminated water at Maidolalu village of Shivamogga district. 

  • Russian authorities have demanded over $20 million (Rs 125 crore) for rectifying the damage suffered by nuclear submarine INS Chakra which was damaged while the submarine was entering the harbour in Visakhapatnam. 

  • Oxfam’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned on 12 February, saying she took “full responsibility” for failing to act immediately in the sexual misconduct scandal involving the charity’s workers in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

  • Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain has promulgated an ordinance to amend the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act to list groups sanctioned by the UN Security Council — including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — as terror organisations.

  • Xiaomi has replaced Samsung to emerge as the No. 1 smartphone vendor in India in the December quarter, according to IDC’s quarterly mobile phone tracker. The Chinese firm’s share of the market was 26.8% in the quarter. Samsung’s market share rose to 24.2% from 23.5% in the previous quarter.

  • Parbati Ghose, Odisha’s first female filmmaker, passed away following a prolonged illness on 11 February at 85. She was born in Cuttack district in 1933. Parbati started working as child artist in All India Radio and soon transcended to silver screen as a child artiste (Nila Madhava) in the movie ‘Shri Jagannath’ in 1949.

  • India needs to create regular, salaried jobs with growing earnings rather than self-employed ones in order to join the ranks of the global middle class by 2047—the centenary of its Independence, the World Bank said in a draft Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for India. The bank said in a society with wide inequalities, the most urgent priority is to create productive, regular jobs. 

  • The Bank of Baroda, which became embroiled with the Guptas, scandal-ridden businessmen friends of President Jacob Zuma, has announced plans to exit South Africa. 

  • Kannada littérateur and Jnanpith recipient Chandrashekar Kambar was elected president of the Sahitya Akademi on 12 February. Hindi poet Madhav Koushik was elected vice-president. Dr. Kambar is the third Kannada writer to head the country’s premier literary institution after two decades.

  • The Central Government will set up at least one sanitary pad unit in each block of the country for better health and hygiene of women. These units will be set up through Common Services Centers network and will create employment for around 60 thousand women. This was announced by Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at the end of state IT Ministers Conference in New Delhi on 13 February. 

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on 12 February elected Naveen N D Gupta as president and Prafulla P Chhajed as vice president for the year 2018-19. 

  • Former chief minister Neiphiu Rio became the first winner in the Nagaland assembly polls after his lone opponent, ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate Chupfuo Angami, withdrew his nomination papers from the Northern Angami-II seat on 12 February.

  • India’s longest drive-in beach, which extends close to six kilometres, is all set to get a Rs 50 crore fund for renovation. The Muzhappilangad beach in Kerala will also get a state-of-the-art facility centre and new rooms.


  • Third edition of the ‘Difficult Dialogues forum’s’ annual conference was held in Goa in the second week of February 2018. Leading experts, policy makers and renowned personalities gathered in Goa for the return of the an annual conference. The forum, which held from February 9 to 11 at  at the International Centre Goa (ICG), mainly focused on gender issues. 


  • Government has increased the Green India mission budget by 48 per cent and 1000 crore sapling plantation will be done between 2021 to 2030. The allocations include 20 crore for Green India Fund,350 crore for project tiger and 170 crore rupees for development of wildlife habitat. According to the Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, 80 thousand students will be trained under Green Skill Development programme in 2019-2020. In three years, 5.6 lakh students will be trained under Green Skill Development programme.




  • The government will plant 1,000 crore saplings from 2021 to 2030, in the hopes of meeting carbon sink targets. It is to intensify India’s efforts to meet the Nationally Determined Contributions target.

  • Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, Shri R.K. Singh inaugurated the ‘Indian Power Stations 2018’ – three-day International Conference on Operations and Maintenance, in New Delhi on 13 February. The Minister exhorted the NTPC to become India’s power sector multinational by setting up power plants in other Nations and become world’s largest power producer.

  • The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh on 13 February, laid the foundation stone for the first dairy plant in Motihari of East Champaran District. According to the Agriculture Minister, milk production, which was around 17 – 22 million tonnes in the 1960s, has increased to 165.4 million tonnes in 2016-17.  During the year 2016-17 milk production increased by 20.12% as compared to 2013-14.  The Per Capita availability of milk grew by 15.6% during the year 2016-17 taking it to 355 grams from 307 grams in 2013-14

  • Five people were killed and 7 injured on 13 February 2018,  in an unfortunate fire incident onboard Sagar Bhushan , an oil rig of ONGC, undergoing repairs at Cochin Shipyard. The Ship Sagar Bhushan arrived at Cochin Shipyard on  07 Dec 2017 for drydock repairs. It was drydocked on 12 January 2018    and it was to be undocked on 28th Feb 2018. The work completion was scheduled by 07thApril 2018.

  • US President Donald Trump on February 12, 2018,  unveiled a massive USD 1.5 trillion plan to modernise America’s infrastructure including USD 200 billion in federal funding. According to the US president, the reforms set forth in the plan will strengthen the economy, make the US more competitive, reduce the costs of goods and services for American families and enable Americans to build their lives on top of the best infrastructure in the world.

  • Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades won a second five-year term as voters gave a thumbs-up to his record in containing an economic meltdown in 2013. Cyprus emerged from a bailout programme from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

  • Westminster Council Of London has decided to write to nearly 15,000 of its wealthiest homeowners asking them to make a voluntary donation over and above the compulsory council tax. Media has dubbed it a “Guilt tax”.  The Westminster Community Contribution initiative is aimed at properties worth about 10 million pounds and above. Through this tax, it wants to raise additional funds for services in the area.




  • In a bid to cut the population of disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, health officials in Miami (US) are releasing millions of their brethren treated with a bacteria that makes them sterile. Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which are not native to the region, transmit dengue, Zika and chikungunya diseases. Produced by the US company MosquitoMate, the mosquitoes are not genetically modified but instead infected with Wolbachia, a bacteria that only affects the insects and renders the males sterile.

  • Asia’s largest annual Christian religious congregation, ‘Maramon Convention‘ begines  at Maramon near Kozhencherry in Kerala. The century-old meet is organised by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association (MTEA), missionary wing of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, on the riverbed of the Pampa at Maramon, its traditional venue.

  • According to a report by New World Wealth, the economic hub of India, Mumbai with a total wealth of $950 billion, is the 12th wealthiest city, followed by Toronto with a total wealth of $944 billion, Frankfurt (14th, $912 billion) and Paris (15th, $860 billion). The list of 15 wealthiest cities was topped by New York with a total wealth of $3 trillion.

  • According to the Union Ministry of Power’s new direction, new thermal power plant, except extension units, shall be set up only within 500 km of coal field. This decision was taken to tide over the coal supply availability vis-a-vis transportation in the power plants in future. 

  • The country’s largest lender SBI wrote off bad loans worth Rs 20,339 crore in 2016-17, the highest among all the public sector banks, which had a collective write off of Rs 81,683 crore for the fiscal. The data pertains to the period when the associate banks of State Bank of India (SBI) were not merged with it.

  • Indian Corporates have spent Rs.70.5 bn, an increase of 8% compared to the previous year on CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives. This puts the CSR spend at 98% of the prescribed spend – based on the Act.

  • Over 200 monkeys were killed in the Rio state of Brazil amid Yellow fever scare. Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes in tropical regions and is still a major killer in Africa.

  • The Union home ministry and the Issak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) have discussed creating a special auxiliary regiment, or an armed police force on the lines of the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) to induct the armed cadres of the Naga insurgent group. The proposal is part of the Centre’s deliberations with the NSCN-IM.

  • To remove the “doubts being planted in the minds of the common people” about the theory of evolution, and demonstrate with evidence how humans evolved from apes, scientists from across the country are celebrating ‘Darwin Week’  between February 12 to 18. ‘Darwin Week’ is being organised by The India March for Science Organising Committee and the Breakthrough Science Society.

  • Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on 12 February, 2018, announced one time loan waiver of upto Rs. 50,000 for small and marginal farmers in the state.

  •  The lifeline of Madhya Pradesh, the 1,312-km long Narmada is choking due to rotting vegetation and alleged mismanagement of dam water. The river’s showpiece, the Maheshwar Ghat (which impressed the audience in the film PadMan) in Khargone district is filled with rotting vegetation on the banks, making it difficult for hundreds of devotees to take a dip or swim.




  • The University of Oxford’s famous Botanic Garden is to produce its own brand of gin. The official Oxford gin has been Distilled from barley grains grown by medieval farmers.  Perhaps this is first time a university has gone into the commercial spirits business. 

  • According to the Union Minister of State for Power and New and Renewable Energy, the government was committed to providing electricity to un-electrified households by 2019.  Out of the 18,450 villages without electricity, more than 16,800 has been given power supply till now. The “Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana” also called “Saubhagya”, launched in September 2017, was a move towards this goal and that about 4 crore households would benefit from it.

  • An environmental group, ‘the Center for Biological Diversity’ wants couples to think of wild animals before acting like them this Valentine’s Day. It is handing out endangered species condoms at the Carnegie Science Center’s adults-only Valentine’s event in Pittsburgh. The wrappers feature colorful artwork and slogans like “Before it gets any hotter…remember the sea otter,” and “Can’t refrain? Think of the whooping crane.”

  • A Russian passenger plane ‘Antonov An-148’ carrying 71 people crashed on 11 February 2018, in the outskirts of Moscow after taking off from the capital’s Domodedovo airport, killing everyone on board.


  •  A Supreme Court bench comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud on 12 February 2018, refused to grant an interim stay on Karnataka’s buffalo race, Kambala. The Kambala race, held between November and March, involves a pair of buffaloes tied to a plough and anchored by one person.They are made to run in parallel muddy tracks in a competition in which the fastest team wins.


  • Vikas Sathaye, an Indian-born engineer, and three others bagged the scientific and engineering Oscar award 2018. Part of a four-member team, their contributions were recognised for the ‘concept, design, engineering and implementation of the ‘Shotover K1 Camera system’. The camera system as a ‘six-axis stabilised aerial camera mount’ that has an ‘enhanced ability to frame shots while looking straight down.

  • Asma Jehangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent right activists and lawyers, died on February 11 in Lahore aged 66. Born on January 27 in 1952, Jehangir had a prominent career both as a lawyer and rights activist. She has served as chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Jehangir also served as president of the Supreme Court’s bar association and was a UN rapporteur on human right and extrajudicial killings. She was on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential women.

  • According to the Australian researchers, they have developed the first virtual platform (Virtual Biobank ) of its kind for storing 3D copies of human cancer tissues, providing what they say is a novel way for accessing information to help treat the disease.

  • National champion and top seed Saurav Ghosal clinched the Vedanta Indian Open Squash tournament 2018 on February 11. 

  • Assam chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal on 11 Fberuary inaugurated Sishu Ashray Sthal, a home for children suffering from cancer near Guwahati. 

  • A consortium led by Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has become the first group to win a stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co’s (ADNOC) 40-year offshore oil concession, a deal set to help the UAE expand its foothold in Asia.

  • Over 200 gurdwaras across the United Kingdom will be considered a part of British heritage following the completion of a major doctoral project by the University of Leicester that explored their structures, growth and use since the first Sikh place of worship was set up in 1908.

  •  The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games got off to a historic start on 10 Februuary. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won the first gold of the games and Norwegian crosscountry skier Marit Bjoergen took silver in the women’s 15km skiathlon to become the most decorated female Winter Olympian ever.

  • The Bihar government has banned the sale of loose cigarettes in the state. Bihar is the 12th state in the country to enforce such a ban. District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of concerned districts have been instructed to act as per the Tobacco Control Act under which anyone selling loose cigarettes would be liable for fine.  According to a survey, eighty percent people use loose cigarettes. The Survey says, 54 percent adults in Bihar use tobacco products and 9 percent of them are smokers. Around 12 lakh tobacco-related deaths occur in the country every year.

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was conferred ‘the Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’, which is the highest Palestinian honour for a foreign dignitary.

  • In Bolivia, at least six people were killed and 28 others injured when a street vendor’s gas canister exploded near the route of the Carnival in the city of Orura. Orura’s Carnival draws tourists from Bolivia and around the world, and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.

  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Centre for learning Sanskrit language in Gujarat University in Ahmedabad on 10 February 2018. The centre will offer a six-month course for people on how to speak the language. As per the coordinator of the course it was possibly the first such course launched in India. No prior knowledge of Sanskrit is required and the first batch will hopefully begin in 10 days. The fees have been fixed at 500 rupees.

  • India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) Expansion Programme continues to make brisk progress and a nation-wide roll-out is scheduled beginning April 2018. Once the proposed expansion is completed, IPPB will be providing the largest financial inclusion network in the country, covering both urban as well as rural hinterland with ability to provide digital payment services at the doorstep with the help of Postmen and GraminDakSewaks (GDS).




  • Nepal’s last King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev on February 10, said it may not be possible for his country to supply musk (Kasturi) to the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri due to legal hurdles. The last King, who was attending the silver jubilee of the ‘Pattabhisheka’ of Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, said Kasturi was procured from the gland of the endangered musk deer and the law had prohibited the killing of the animal. For this legal bar, Nepal may not be in a position to supply ‘Kasturi’.

  • The president of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind on 11 February 2018 addressed the first convocation ceremony of the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management or NIFTEM at Sonepat, Haryana. National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) was conceptualized by Government of India on persistent demand of the food industry to have an apex body as a “One Stop Solution Provider” for the various problems of the sector. Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India has set up this institute in 2006 with an initial investment of Rs. 500 crore (US $100 million).

  • Boko Haram extremists have freed three university lecturers and 10 women of Nigeria, who it had kidnapped in separate raids last year. As per the Nigeria government  the academics were abducted by the Nigeria-based Islamic militants while conducting oil prospect evaluations in the Lake Chad area in 2017.

Current News in Brief (1-10 February, 2018)



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