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February 18, 2016

18th February 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • A 12-member team of the Indian Army is participating in the “Cobra Gold” multilateral exercises, which is being hosted by Thailand, along with its counterparts from China and Pakistan
    • India has been invited to the exercises as an “observer plus” country. 
    • This is in keeping with the recent trend of India’s increasing regional interoperability with a series of multi-lateral exercises on land and sea.

National Affairs
  • After holding a meeting with Vice-Chancellors of all central universities, the HRD Ministry
    today announced to make the installation of the national flag compulsory in all central universities on a 207 feet high mast on their campuses to signify "strong and united India.” 
    • Note : The first flag under the decision will be unfurled at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today announced Free bus travel for senior citizens in the Chennai metropolitan area from her 68th birthday on February 24. 
  • PM Narendra Modi today released the guidelines of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana at the Kisan Kalyan Mela in Madhya Pradesh. 
    • The scheme envisages payment of uniform premiums for crops by farmers. 
    • Further, Modi said that farmers will get claims against the full sum insured and there is no upper limit on the government's subsidy for the scheme.
  • NatGeo India has launched 'Stand With A Girl' initiative, in association with online fund-raising platform Milaap to support girl-child education. 
    • Endorsed by celebrities including Sushmita Sen and Shabana Azmi, the effort is aimed at providing education to the 3 million girls. 
    • The crowdfunding campaign will culminate with airing 'He Named Me Malala', a documentary on Malala Yousafzai on March 8.
  • India has launched the lightest gun ever which weighs as less as 250 grams, and it has been named 'Nidar'.
    • Manufactured by Rifle Factory Ishapore in West Bengal, which comes under the Ministry of Defence, Nidar is now on available at their website to those with "valid Arms/Trade license".
    • The gun comes with a cylinder capacity of eight bullets, a 40-mm barrel, a range 7 meters, and is only 140mm in length.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Agreement for collaboration in Traditional Medicine between Ministry of AYUSH and the World Health Organisation.
  • The Union Cabinet has also approved a proposal to notify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • The proposal regarding ratification and acceptance of the instrument of acceptance of protocol of TFA to WTO Secretariat was also approved by the Union Cabinet.

People in News
  • Bollywood actor Aamir Khan today announced to join Maharashtra government's 'Drought Free Village Scheme'. 
    • He and his wife Kiran Rao's NGO 'Paani Foundation' will also work with the state government for the same along with their TV show 'Satyamev Jayate'. 

Awards & Honors
  • A picture captured by Australian photographer Warren Richardson was today named the
    'World Press Photo of the Year 2015' at the 59th annual World Press Photo Contest. 
    • The picture titled 'Hope for a New Life', was captured at the Serbia-Hungary border on August 28. It depicts a refugee passing a baby under a barbed wire fence.
  • A Christian group has awarded an Indian-origin couple, Jeram Ravji and Ganga Ravji, married for almost 81 years, for being the longest married couple in New Zealand. 
    • both of whom turn 100 this year, were married at the age of 19. 
  • Robin Chaurasiya, an Indian teacher who teaches girls in the red light areas of Mumbai has been nominated for the Global Teacher Prize among the world's top 10 educators. 
    • The prize money for the title is US $1 million. 
    • The winner will be announced on March 13, 2016.
  • The 88th Academy Awards, to be held on February 28, will feature revamped Oscar statuettes, which will look like the original 1929 statue given out for the first time at the third-ever Oscars. 
    • The new statuette, to be created by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry, will be hand-cast in bronze before receiving its 24-karat gold finish.
  • Renowned Indologist Professor David Shulman has been selected for the prestigious Israel Prize for his breakthrough studies in fields like philosophy and religion. 
    • He was chosen for this award for his studies on the religion, literature and culture of southern India and has command over Indian languages like Sanskrit, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. 

Business & Economy
  • Indian economy will grow at 7.5% in 2016 and 2017 as it is relatively less exposed to external headwinds, like China slowdown, and will benefit from lower commodity prices, Moody's Investors Service announced today. 
  • Yahoo today announced that it will shut down seven digital magazines including Yahoo Food, Health and Travel
    • The company also mentioned that it has designed a plan to focus on the successful areas– News, Sports, Finance and Lifestyle. 
  • The ongoing 'Make in India' week in Mumbai has so far attracted investment commitments worth ₹15.2 lakh crore, the government reported today. 
    • Around 2,400 MoUs worth around ₹8 lakh crore were signed by the Maharashtra government, while the Jharkhand government attracted MoUs worth ₹62,000 crore. 
    • Note : The six-day event, which started on February 13, concluded today.
  • To ensure ease of doing business in the state, the Odisha government will introduce a self certifying scheme which will shorten the inspection process at the initial levels required for non-hazardous industries to set up units.
  • The government has banned the sale of entry-level one-star air-conditioners in the Indian market and introduced improved energy efficiency guidelines for frost-free refrigerators. 
    • It also made it compulsory for companies to adhere to energy rating rules for hi-end inverter ACs from 2018. 
  • India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has launched ‘Japan Desk’, a single window for inbound Japanese investments in India and vice-versa. 
    • Note : This is a first-of-its-kind initiative that seeks to facilitate Japanese corporates looking to invest in India with banking and advisory services. 

Books & Authors
  • Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography 'Playing It My Way’ has entered the Limca Book of Records for being the 'Bestselling Adult Hardback on Release' across non-fiction and fiction categories. 
    • Released in November 2014, the book registered 1,50,289 confirmed copies on order subscriptions. 
    • Note : It also holds the record in retail value terms after logging up ₹13.51 crore, at a cover price of ₹899.

Science & Technology
  • American space agency NASA has invited the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) among other space agencies for a meeting in the US to discuss a possible international collaboration on a Mars mission. 
  • TAL Manufacturing Solutions, a Tata Group company, has designed the first ever India-made robot called ‘Tata Brabo’
    • Showcased at the 'Make in India' week in Mumbai, the robot will help micro, small and medium enterprises in building cost-effective robotic solutions for manufacturing purposes.
  • US-based Caterpillar has developed 'Cat S60', the world’s first smartphone with a thermal camera
    • The device is waterproof to a depth of up to 5 metre, takes live thermal images and measures surface temperatures. 
  • Researchers from the Queen’s University have developed the world’s first flexible display smartphone named ReFlex
    • The phone senses the force with which a user bends the screen, allowing them to experience physical tactile feedback when interacting with apps through bend gestures. 
    • For example, users can play Angry Birds on the smartphone by bending the screen to stretch the slingshot.
  • Google’s online language translation tool now covers 103 languages after it added 13 new ones including Sindhi, Hawaiian and Kurdish.
  • Japan has successfully launched ASTRO-H space observation satellite to probe mysterious black holes. 
    • The satellite was launched by H2A rocket after it had successfully lifted off at the Tanegashima Space Centre.
  • India's oldest performing musician, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan (107), passed away. 
    • Trained in the Gwalior Gharana of Hindustani classical music, he represented the 16th generation of Tansen's lineage. 
    • He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2013, becoming the oldest Padma awardee
  • Renowned Malayalam writer Akbar Kakkattil (62) passed away. 
    • A two-time Sahitya Akademi award winner, Akbar was famous for his short story collections include 'Shameela Fahmi', 'Adhyapaka Kathakal', 'Medhaswam', 'Ee vazhi vannavar' and 'Nadapuram'. 
    • He also authored a novel titled 'Mruthyuyogam' and a novelite 'Randum Randu'.  
    • His works 'School Diary' and 'Vadakku ninnoru kudumbavruthantham' won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi awards.
  • British Formula One racing team Manor Racing has signed Indonesia’s Rio Haryanto, making him the first Indonesian Formula One driver
    • The 23-year-old, who finished fourth in last year's GP2 series, will start for Manor Racing at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 20.

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