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February 05, 2016

5th February 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • The United Nations Postal Administration has released 6 new postage stamps promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today left for 2 day Colombo visit.
    • During this visit, she is expected to discuss the fishermen’s issue and rights of minority Tamils with the top Sri Lankan leadership.
    • Ms. Swaraj along with her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera will co-chair the 9th Joint Commission meeting to discuss key bilateral and regional issues in Colombo later today.
    • Important Points to Note :
      • The joint commission was set up in 1992 as a mechanism to address issues of bilateral cooperation. 
      • The last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in New Delhi in January 2013.
  • Canadian blood agencies have announced a temporary restriction on blood donations aimed at keeping the Zika virus out of the nation’s blood supply.
  • Iraq has announced that it's security forces have started building a wall around the capital Baghdad in an effort to prevent attacks by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

  • India through the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology signed a Cooperation Agreement to acquire the status of the Associate Member State European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).  
    • This would strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in this field. 
    • After the signing of an agreement with Singapore by EMBC in July 2015, India will now become second such country outside the European region.

National Affairs
  • Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has today announced that in three years, the Indian Government will convert 50% of all Indians into digital literates
    • As of now, only 15% of Indians can be termed as digitally literate. 
    • Note
      • The government has already launched the ‘National Digital Literacy Mission’.
      • Under this mission, around 52 lakh Indians would be educated about digital, internet and technology.
  • Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Urban Development Ministry will launch a mobile app by April where citizens can complain about garbage pile-ups. 
    • Named 'Swachh City Solutions', the app will also allow citizens to view city-wise cleanliness rankings and up-vote other complaints to show support. 
    • Note : It will be developed along with Bengaluru-based NGO Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government hiked the Home Guards' stipend by around 33%, making it the largest increase in the stipend in UP till date
    • It has been increased to ₹300 from ₹225, benefiting around 1,00,000 guards in the state. 
    • The improved rates will come into effect from April 1. 
  • The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has introduced an SMS-based coach cleaning system in 35 pairs of trains, to provide better facilities to passengers. 
    • Passengers can get their coaches cleaned by on-board housekeeping staff by messaging CLEAN10 digit PNR number to 58888 or by entering the PNR number on the website cleanmycoach. The service will be available between 6 AM-10 PM.
  • India's Tourism Ministry has proposed that all international visitors using the electronic Tourist Visa facility get SIM cards on arrival. 
    • An inter-ministerial committee was formed to finalise details after the Home Ministry approved the plan. 

Business & Economy
  • In a move aimed at making the exit process easier under the National Pension System (NPS), regulator PFRDA has decided to allow subscribers to withdraw from the scheme via online mode from April 1 this year.
    • Note : At present, 16 banks are providing the facility and around 35 lenders are using the SBI payment gateway, which can facilitate the service to all citizens.
    • PFRDA - Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority  
    • PFRDA  Chairman - Hemant G Contractor
  • Online payments and m-commerce platform, Paytm today tied up with the Indian Oil to let its users pay for petrol through its mobile wallet.
  • Ratan Tata’s investment firm, RNT Associates has partnered with the University of California (UC Investments) to jointly fund startups over the next 10 years in India. 
  • WhatsApp's latest update on Android and iOS apps allows users to add up to 256 contacts in a group chat
    • Note : Earlier, the number of contacts that could be added to a group chat was limited to 100. 
  • The Commerce and Industry Ministry today announced that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India more than doubled to about $4.5 billion in December 2015 from $2.16 billion in the year-ago period. 
    • Important Points to Note
      • The major sectors that attracted foreign inflows include computer software and hardware, trading, services and automobile. 
      • India receives its maximum FDI from Singapore, Mauritius and the Netherlands.
  • According to a report by global aviation body International Air Transport Association (IATA), India’s domestic air passenger traffic grew by 20.2% in 2015 over the previous year, on higher economic growth and increase in the number of flights. 
    • Globally, international passenger traffic rose by 6.5% year-on-year in 2015, while capacity (addition of aircraft in the network) increased by 5.9%.

  • Maurice White (74), vocalist and co-founder of the American band, 'Earth, Wind & Fire', passed away. . 
    • Note : The nine-piece band is best remembered for funk, jazz, R&B and Latin music elements and hits including 'Shining Star' and 'September'.

Awards & Honors
  • Kerala's all-women taxi cab service 'She-Taxi', touted as the country's first 24x7 taxi network by women for women, has bagged the prestigious Chief Minister's Award for Innovation in Public Policy 2014.
  • Actor Ben Stiller made a Guinness World Record for using the world's longest selfie stick to take a picture
    • The feat was achieved at the London premiere of Zoolander 2, where the 50-year-old actor used the eight-and-a-half metre device to take a selfie. 
    • The selfie featured numerous Hollywood stars including Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig.

Science & Technology
  • The Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education (SAICE), Puducherry has become India's first fully solar-powered educational institute
    • Note
    • The institute generates thrice the electricity it consumes through solar power plants installed on the roofs of the dining room, primary school, library and high school in the campus. 
    • SAICE has been self-reliant in energy since September 2014.
  • Arjun S, a 15-year-old Chennai boy, has developed a mobile app which helps parents track the position of their children’s school buses whenever they want. 
    • Called LOCATERA, it is a tri-app solution, meaning, three apps work together. 
    • These include the attendant (bus driver), the admin (school), and parent apps. 
    • Arjun used Massachusetts Institute of Technology's programming tool to develop LOCATERA.
  • The Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan erupted today sending lava rolling down the mountain. 
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today launched the official YouTube channel of the Ministry of Finance in an effort to strengthen the online presence of the ministry. 
    • The channel will disseminate information of the finance ministry through videos. 
    • It will feature videos on the major schemes, events, meetings, press conferences and other exclusive information related to the ministry.
  • A team of researchers have found that a wearable device, called 'OFF! Clip-On', could help against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary carrier of Zika, dengue and chikungunya. 
    • The device releases vapour of an insecticide using a battery-powered fan to repel mosquitoes. 
    • The wearable was tested in Florida, which showed that it can repel mosquitoes up to 0.3 metres.

New Appointments
  • Army Lieutenant General John Nicholson was appointed as the Commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan
    • Note : He will succeed outgoing commander US General John Campbell.

  • 12th South Asian Games began at Guwahati today.
    • Eight countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, besides India — will be vying for the top honours in the Games to be co-hosted by Shillong.
    • There will be 228 gold, 228 silver and 308 bronze medals on offer this time.
    • India, who had topped the medal tally in all the editions so far, have the largest number of participants with 521 athletes (245 women).
    • Important Points to Note :
      • Host cities : Guwahati and Shillong
      • Starting Date : 5th February 
      • Last Date : 16th February 
      • Motto : "Play for Peace, Progress and Prosperity"
      • Total Number of Participating Nations : 8
      • Total Number of Events : 228 (in 23 sports)
      • Logo : Tikhor the baby Rhino
  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) today appointed Rahul Dravid as member of newly constituted Anti-Corruption Unit Oversight Group.
    • Apart from Rahul Dravid as a member,the group will consist of a Chairman, two members and two ex-officio members
  • BCCI Secretary Anurag Thakur today announced the Indian squad for the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC World T20. 
    • MS Dhoni (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Pawan Negi and Mohammad Shami constituted the roster for both the tournaments.

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