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February 19, 2016

19th February 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • U.S. President Barack Obama is going to make a historic visit to Cuba next month.
    • He will be the first sitting American president to go to the island nation in 80 years.
  • Indo-Nepal Combined Battalion level Military Training Exercise SURYA KIRAN is being conducted at Pithoragarh.
    • During the exercise, an Infantry battalion each from Indian Army and the Nepalese Army would be training together and sharing their experiences of Counter Terrorism operations and Jungle Warfare in mountain terrain.
    • Important Points to Note :
      • The Surya Kiran series of exercises is a bi-annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. 
      • Aim : To enhance inter-operability between the Indian and the Nepalese Army units in Jungle Warfare and Counter Terrorism operations in mountainous terrain. 
      • The training will also focus on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief including medical and aviation support. 
      • Both the Armies will stand to benefit mutually from shared experiences.
  • The United States slapped North Korea with more stringent sanctions for defying the world with its nuclear weapons program, weeks after it launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space and conducted its fourth underground nuclear test.
  • Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, contesting polls in a bid to extend his 30-year-long rule, has banned all social media on the day of the Presidential election to stop people from "telling lies". 
    • Police reportedly used tear gas to disperse voters after protests outside poll booths over the use of fake ballots.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are likely to meet next month in Washington, US. 
    • They are expected to attend a nuclear summit in Washington, which is going to be held on 31st March and 1st April 2016
    • Important Note : It is likely to be the first time that both PMs will be attending the summit since it began in 2010.

  • The Cabinet today gave ex-post facto approval for Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and 13 countries including Israel and Syria for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.
    • The approval has been given to MoUs signed with 13 countries- Netherlands, Nepal, Cyprus,Israel, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Tanzania, Surinam, Zambia, Syria, Bhutan, Chile
      and Mauritius.
    • These MoUs are signed for capacity building, knowledge exchange through visits of scientists and technicians, exchange of genetic resources, development of appropriate technologies and farm practices for enhancing agriculture productivity at farmers' field.

National Affairs
  • A day after the Supreme Court gave clearance for the formation of a new government, President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh was lifted today. 
    • The revocation of President's Rule will allow formation of a new state government. 
    • Note : Revolt by Congress rebels led to a political crisis in Arunachal, leading to the imposition of President's Rule on January 26.
  • Mobile phones have been banned for unmarried women in Suraj village of PM Narendra Modi's native district of Mehsana in Gujarat. 
    • A fine of ₹2,100 for using or possessing a mobile phone has been imposed. 
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in Urban areas, a total of 5.07 lakh houses have been sanctioned so far, out of which the three states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & West Bengal got 69%.
    • Important Note : The PMAY replaced the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana for building affordable housing to the urban poor after the NDA came to power.
  • The Centre today approved proposals for the construction of over 80,000 houses for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in urban areas in seven states. 
    • Entailing an estimated investment of ₹4,076 crore, with central assistance of ₹1,226 crore, the houses would be built across 163 cities in West Bengal, Telangana, Bihar, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.
  • According to National Crime Records Bureau data, out of 47 sedition cases invoked in 2014, Jharkhand recorded the highest number of Sedition cases with 18 such incidents. 
    • Bihar, the second closest saw 16 cases. 
    • Note : Jammu & Kashmir recorded no cases of sedition. 
  • The Make in India week concluded in Mumbai.
    • Important Points to Note :
      • It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 13, 2016. 
      • The week-long event has secured investment commitments worth 15.2 lakh crore rupees across the country. 
      • The host state Maharashtra alone accounted for 8 lakh crore rupees investment in diverse areas.
  • Nepal Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli is on a 6 day visit to India.
    • During this visit, India and Nepal will hold wide ranging discussions on issues of mutual concern, as well as on strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas including developmental assistance, energy and connectivity.
Business & Economy
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today announced that India’s second International Finance Centre (IFC) will be set up at the Bandra-Kurla Complex
    • The IFC will coexist with the proposed terminal for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
  • India's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today announced that it has raised ₹3,000 crore through tier-II bonds
    • SBI has priced its 10-year bonds at a yield of 8.45%. 
    • These bonds have a call option at the end of the fifth year under which the lender can call back its bonds from investors and repay them ahead of the tenure.

Science & Technology
  • ISRO is set to collaborate with the University of Toronto for a nano-satellite that will monitor the air pollution levels in some of the most polluted cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Amritsar. 
    • It will reportedly be placed 500 km above the Earth's surface, and will analyse the sunlight reflected from the earth's surface to determine the nature of suspended particles.
  • Swedish car maker Volvo is developing a keyless car technology to replace car keys with a smartphone app. 
    • The technology will allow drivers to unlock car doors and start engines through a Bluetooth connection. 
    • Users will also be able to share their digital car keys and access more than one car. 
    • This will be commercially available by 2017.

Awards & Honors
  • Fallout 4, the latest edition of the action role-playing video game, has won the 'Game of the Year' award at the 19th annual DICE Awards held in Las Vegas. 
    • Released in November 2015, the game is set in post-apocalyptic Boston, 200 years after a nuclear war.
New Appointments
  • Kalikho Pul was today sworn in as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, hours after President's Rule was lifted in the state. 
    • Pul was the State Finance Minister from 2003 to 2007. 
  • Vijay Rupani was unanimously elected president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gujarat unit.
  • Paytm today appointed Shinjini Kumar as its payments bank Chief Executive Officer.  
    • Currently serving as Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Kumar is also a former Reserve Bank of India executive. 
  • India's biggest online marketplace Flipkart today announced the appointment of Nitin Seth as its Chief People Officer.
  • Senior IRS officer Jayant Misra was today appointed as Director General of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), ending eight months of vacancy of the post.
  • West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been appointed as the Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
    • He will succeed Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani who had to resign in November 2015 over corruption charges.
  • American novelist Harper Lee (89), most known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1960), passed away today. 
    • Lee's second novel 'Go Set a Watchman', which was written in the mid-1950s, was published last year. 
    • Born in 1926 in Alabama, Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
  • The Polish film director and writer Andrzej Żuławski (75) passed away.
    • His films are considered cinema classics, some of them are "The Third Part of the Night" (1971) and "The Devil" (1972).
  • Former West Indies batsman Andy Ganteaume (95) passed away.
  • India women cricket team clean sweep three match ODI series against Sri Lanka today.
  • The 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season will feature Chhattisgarh as the 28th team after it was given a full member status by BCCI today.
    • Important Note : The Ranji Trophy has been a 27-team tournament since 1985/86 with Tripura being the last team that was added.
  • Indian wrestler Gaurav Sharma clinched the bronze in the 59kg Greco-Roman model, defeating Eun-Bin Kim of Korea at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Bangkok. 
    • Note : This is India’s fourth medal at the event inside the opening two days. 
  • India defeated China 3-2 in the men's category of the Badminton Asia Team Championships today.
    •  Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayaram, and HS Prannoy won their respective singles matches to give the hosts the victory. 

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