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Union Budget 2017
i.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union budget 2017-2018 in Lok Sabha today (01 February 2017). This is the fourth budget by the Narendra Modi government. It was broadly focused on 10 issues farming sector, rural population, youth, poor and health care for the underprivileged, infrastructure, financial sector for stronger institutions, speedy accountability, public services, prudent fiscal management and tax administration for the honest.

Basant Panchami is being celebrated today (01st February 2017)
i.Basant Panchami is being celebrated today (1 February 2017). The festival marks the beginning of the spring season. The festival is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the month of 'Magha'. Basant means spring and Panchami means "the fifth day". On this day, Hindus wearing yellow clothes visit temples and pray to Goddess Saraswati the goddess of knowledge, and celebrate the day as Saraswati Puja. Schools and educational institutes celebrate Saraswati Puja. Kite flying competitions will also be held. iii.The festival is mostly celebrated mostly in northern states of Punjab and Bihar.In Allahabad, Basant Panchami bathing is taking place at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna and other Ghats of holy rivers from this morning. Besides elaborate arrangements for the bathing, security has been tightened at the Sangam area. Police and paramilitary forces are keeping vigil and drones and CCTV cameras have been put into service in the area.

Fiscal deficit reaches 94% of the budget estimate
i.Fiscal deficit in the first nine months of 2016-17 touched 93(point)9 per cent of the Budget estimate. The fiscal deficit had stood at 87.9% in the corresponding nine months a year ago. The fiscal deficit is the gap between expenditure and revenue. According to data released by the Controller General of Accounts, tax revenue was 71.4% of the full-year budget estimate. Total expenditure, Plan and Non-Plan, was 74.3% of the government's full-year estimate. The revenue deficit during April-December 2016 stood at 100.1% of the budget estimate.

Rajasthan, Telangana bag eGov awards
i.This year (2017), under the State category, Rajasthan and Telangana emerged Winners of Excellence while the Award of Recognition went to Odisha and Nagaland.
ii.Instituted by the Computer Society of India’s (CSI) Special Interest Group with sponsorship from Nihilent Technologies, these awards help recognise the efforts of eGovernance practitioners from across central and state departments, projects and in district administrative units as well.

 Railway Ministry Requests Separate Fund for Rashtriya Rail Safety Fund
i.The Ministry of Railway has proposed the Finance Ministry to create a non-lapsable safety fund named ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ over five years with initial corpus of Rs. 20000 crore and contribute a portion to fund it in the Budget 2017 . The decision to set up the safety fund is based on the recommendation of a high-level safety review committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission.

SAARC programming committee meeting begins in Kathmandu
i.The programming committee meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has began at Kathmandu.Senior officials of all eight member countries are participating in the meeting.
ii.Indian delegation is lead by Shri Prashant Agarwal, Joint Secretary (SAARC).During the two day meeting number of issues including budget of SAARC secretariat and its 5 regional centres and regular activities of the Associtation will be discussed. This is the first senior level meeting of Association since postponement of 19th SAARC Summit in November last year. Nepal, the current chair of SAARC had postpone the summit after Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India had decided to boycott SAARC summit scheduled in Islamabad last year.

Ministry of Defence to Set up Rs 1500 cr Defence Unit in Madhya Pradesh
i.The Union Minister for Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Narendra Singh Tomar stated that the Ministry of Defence is set to open its Defence Unit in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. The unit would be set up in Kailaras and Sabalgarh tehsil areas and span over 969.735 hectare of land at a cost of Rs. 1500 crore.

E-Paathsala Launches Unique Technology-Backed Services for Educational Institutions in India
Bangalore based Start-up firm E-paathsala has launched an integrated accreditation and ERP technology solution for the colleges and universities to enable them better manage their multiple accreditation standards in an easy, efficient and fast manner and bridge the gap identified for specific accreditations.

Income Tax Department (ITD) launches Operation Clean Money 
 i.Income Tax Department (ITD) lead by Sushil Chandra has launched Operation Clean Money to verify the cash deposited in the banks during November 9th to December 30th 2016. An online Verification process will be carried out by comparing the demonetisation data CBDTwith information in ITD databases.This information will be available at the portal The PAN holder can view the information using the link ‘Cash Transactions 2016’ under ‘Compliance’ section of the portal.

Textile Ministry Inaugurates Meghalaya’s First Ever Apparel and Garment Centre at Ampati
i.Meghalaya’s  first ever Apparel and Garment Making Centre was inaugurated on January 30, 2017 jointly by Union Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani and Chief Minister of Meghalaya Dr. Mukul Sangma near Ampati in South West Garo Hills. The centre would enable to create job opportunity for both men and women of the region and make them economically empowered.The facility has been set up in an area of 45,000 sq feet at an approximate cost of Rs 14.26 crore. It has been set up under North East Region Textiles Promotion Scheme (NERTPS).

Lakshmi Vilas Bank Partners with Fisdom for Mission FINFIT
i.The private sector lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank in partnership with Bangalore based fin-tech startup firm Fisdom, has launched a mobile application Mission FINFIT to offer the customers of the bank financial planning and personal wealth management services based on Robo advisory. The mobile app would enable the customer of the bank to plan their finances in an effective manner using the online platform for wealth management thus encouraging them to invest smarter.

ICRA Estimates Banks Credit Growth to Remain Subdued at 5-6% in FY17
i.As per the report of the rating agency, ICRA, the bank credit growth rate is likely to float between 5-6% in the current fiscal year (2017). The reason cited includes weak loan demand as the rate of return offered by debt market is better in comparison to banks.Besides, the deposit rate was also projected to drop to 12% from the current 14.7% this fiscal ending March 2017 due to better cash flow in the system and cut in the deposit rate by the banks.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Presents 2016 National Entrepreneurship Awards
i.The First ever National Entrepreneurship Awards 2016 was presented by the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh at Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi on January 30, 2017. Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was the guest of honour on the occasion.The National Entrepreneurship Awards was instituted by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE) to recognize and honor the entrepreneurial spirit of India’s youth and encourage more and more young Indians to become entrepreneur. The awards were given in 11 different categories divided into two groups: Award Track and Recognition Track.

UNICEF launches 3.3 bln USD to aid millions of children
i.UN children's agency UNICEF has launched an appeal for 3.3 billion US Dollar to help 48 million children caught up in crises worldwide amid fears of a funding cut from top donor the United States. This year's appeal represents a 18% increase from the initial request for funding in 2016. Donors contribute to the appeals on a voluntary basis. The United States is by far the top donor to UNICEF, followed by Germany, Britain and the European Commission. According to UNICEF, Almost one in four of the world's children now lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster.

Alok Verma takes charge as new CBI Director
i.Former Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma today took charge as the new CBI Director. He will hold the charge of the premier investigating agency for a period of two years. A 1979-batch IPS officer, Mr Verma was selected by a three-member committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice J S?Khehar and Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. 

Moussa Faki Mahamat appointed as new African Union AU head 
Chadian foreign affairs minister Moussa Faki Mahamat has been elected as the head of  AU Headthe African Union Commission. He will replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

US House of Representatives Introduces H-1B Visa Reform Bill
The US House of Representatives has introduced a legislation on January 30, 2017 making it mandatory to raise the minimum salary of the H-1B visa holders to more than double at USD 1,30,000 from the previous USD 60,000. If the legislation is passed, it would highly impact American companies as they may face difficulty in replacing the American employees with foreign workers including IT professionals from India. The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren prioritises 

Ireland became the world’s first country to stop investing in fossil fuels
Ireland has become the first country in the world to divest coal, oil and gas investments from Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.The bill was passed in the Irish parliament by gaining 53 votes out of 90. It was introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle.

Former Minister E Ahamed Dies After Suffering Cardiac Arrest
Former Union Minister E Ahamed, who collapsed in parliament, has died. He was 78. Mr Ahamed was admitted at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest while both houses of parliament were being jointly addressed by President Pranab Mukherjee


Govt to launch TIES to fund export infrastructure
 A new scheme will be introduced by Govt of India to create infrastructure for exports, a move aimed at reducing transaction costs for traders. A new and restructured central scheme with a focus on export infrastructure namely Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) will be launched in 2017-18. Indian exporters face huge challenges in terms of infrastructure, particularly in states.Inadequate infrastructure pushes their transactions costs, impacting competitiveness of Indian goods in the global markets.Exporters body Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said the scheme will help create modern infrastructure like last mile connectivity to ports, testing labs and certification centres.

Agri credit raised to record Rs 10 lakh crore in Financial Year 2018
 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a whopping Rs 1 lakh crore hike in the credit target for the next financial year to Rs 10 lakh crore as part of the government's efforts to double farm incomes in the next five years. The target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of Rs 10 lakh crore, Jaitley stated in his Budget speech.The government provides short-term crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh at subsidised interest rate of 7% per annum. An additional incentive of 3% is provided to farmers for prompt repayment of loans within due date, making an effective interest rate for them at 4%. The Finance Minister noted that the agriculture sector is expected to grow at 4.1% during the current financial year on good monsoon. Sowing of both kharif and rabi crops has been higher. Jaitley said the allocation for new crop insurance scheme 'Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana', which was launched in 2016, has been increased to Rs 13,240 crore this financial year from budgeted Rs 5,500 crore. The allocation for the next financial year has been earmarked at Rs 9,000 crore.

Govt to set up dairy development fund with corpus of Rs 8,000 cr
To augment income of farmers budget has proposed setting-up of a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crores over three years. Dairy is an important source of additional income for the farmers. A Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund would be set-up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crores over 3 years stated Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his budget speech, 2017.

Rs. 10,000 cr allocated for PSB recapitalisation
The Union Budget has allocated Rs. 10,000 crore towards recapitalisation of public sector banks in FY2017-18. Under Indradhanush roadmap announced in 2015, the government stated to infuse Rs. 70,000 crore in state banks over four years while they will have to raise a further Rs. 1.1 lakh crore from the markets to meet their capital requirement in line with global risk norms, known as Basel III. In line with the blueprint, public sector banks has been given Rs. 25,000 crore in each fiscal, 2015-16 and 2016-17. Besides, Rs. 10,000 crore each would be infused in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Govt proposes Payments Regulatory Board in RBI
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed creation of a six-member Payments Regulatory Board in the RBI, headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel as part of bringing about structural reforms in the payment eco-system. For the purpose, necessary amendments are proposed in the Finance Bill 2017 to create a Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India by replacing the existing Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems. In his Budget Speech, Jaitley stated a Committee on Digital Payments constituted by Department of Economic Affairs has recommended structural reforms in the payment eco system, including amendments to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.

Air India to get Rs. 1,800 cr from govt in 2017-2018
National carrier Air India will receive Rs 1,800 crore as equity infusion in 2017-18 under the government’s ongoing financial assistance and the amount is slightly higher than the allocation for 2016-2017. The allocation has been made in the Union Budget for 2017-18, which was presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.For 2016-17, the government had allocated Rs 1,713 crore to the airline against a demand of Rs 3,911 crore.The government-owned airline has been allocated Rs 1,800 crore as part of the Rs 30,0231 crore financial bailout package.

Budget 2017 pushes Nifty above 8,700 for 1st time since October 25, 2016
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced in his Budget 2017 speech with Nifty50 reclaiming its crucial 8,700 mark for the first time since October 25, 2016, while S&P BSE Sensex ended comfortably above its key 28,000 level. To the relief of investors, Jaitley made no reference to long-term capital gains tax on equities and also set a comfortable fiscal deficit target of 3.2% for the fiscal year 2017-18. The Sensex closed the day at 28,141 up 486 points while Nifty50 settled at 8,716 up 155 points. 

Arun jaitley unveils education reforms, to set up National Testing Agency
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unleashed measures to revamp the country's education system, including setting up of a National Testing Agency to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. Unveiling the budgetary proposals for 2017-18 in Parliament, Jaitley stated that government proposes to establish a National Testing Agency as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This would free CBSE, AICTE and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics.The government proposes to leverage information technology and launch the SWAYAM platform with at least 350 online courses.

Surajkund International Crafts Mela Kicked off in Faridabad, 20 countries to participate
The 31st edition of Surajkund International Crafts Mela started with amid tight security.To be inaugurated by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the carnival is a 15-day affair in faridabad, Haryana. Over 20 countries are participating in the event with Egypt as a partner country this year, 2017 and Jharkhand as the theme state. Every year, one country becomes the partner country ands an Indian state is selected to set the theme of the mela.

British PM Theresa May receives UK Parliament's approval to begin Brexit process
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has received Parliament's first stage approval to begin the process of Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) after winning a crucial vote in the House of Commons last night. British MPs voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.498 MPs voted in favour of Brexit Bill, while 114 voted against it. 

Researchers Discover Oldest Human Ancestor
Researchers have discovered microscopic sea animal Saccorhytus, the earliest known ancestor of humans along with a vast range of other species. The exquisitely well preserved fossilised traces of this 540-million-year-old creature were discovered. This balloon-like sea is the earliest known step on the evolutionary path that led to fish and eventually to humans



Rs 10,000 penalty for late filing of income tax returns

As with the presentation of the Union Budget 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it easier for the small tax-payers, the budget has however proposed a fee for delayed filing of income tax return. If the income tax return is furnished after the due date but on or before the December 31 of the assessment year, there will be a fine of Rs 5,000 imposed. In other cases, there will be an imposition of a fine of Rs 10,000. However, in a case where the total income does not exceed Rs 5 lakh, the Budget proposed that the fee amount shall not exceed Rs 1,000.

Sanjeev Sanyal appointed Principal Economic Adviser

Sanjeev Sanyal, former global strategist and Managing Director of Deutshe Bank, was today appointed as Principal Economic Adviser. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved Sanyal’s appointment for three years on contract basis, an order issued by Personnel Minister said. Sanyal will work under the Department of Economic Affairs.

Lakshya Sen becomes World No.1 Junior Badminton player

India's Lakshya Sen has become the World No 1 Junior Badminton player. He achieved the distinction in the latest rankings of the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Fifteen-year-old is the first shuttler from Uttarakhand to attain the numero uno spot at the international level. 
Lakshya, who is considered as the shining future star of Indian badminton, moved ahead of Chia Hao Lee of the Chinese Taipei, to attain the top spot. According to BWF current rankings, Lakshya has 16,903 points in eight tournaments he has played in the season. Chia Hao, who is at the second spot, has 16,091 points.

Apple to start manufacturing in India

Tech giant Apple has reached an agreement with the Karnataka government to set up a manufacturing plant in Bengaluru, Karnataka. "Apple’s decision on initial manufacturing in Bengaluru has further enhanced the reputation of Bengaluru as the most preferred destination for foreign investment," the Karnataka government said. Apple is reportedly expected to start production for the Indian market in April.

Tata Motors launches TAMO; to unveil first sportscar on March 7

As a core element of its transformation journey 'FutuReady', Tata Motors presented on 02nd February 2017 its new Passenger Vehicle strategy and introduced its new sub-brand - TAMO. TAMO will act as an incubating centre of innovation towards new technologies, business models and partnerships in order to define future mobility solutions. The first product developed by TAMO will premiere at the upcoming 87th Geneva International Motor Show on March 7, 2017.

GDP growth likely at 7.1% in 2017-18: HSBC

India is expected to clock GDP growth of 7.1 per cent in 2017—18 as the country gets sufficiently remonetised and the schemes in the Budget play a supportive role, says an HSBC report. The uptick in the growth numbers would be largely driven by the remonetisation process, which is expected by April-end, as this in turn would boost the consumption levels in the country. HSBC expect GDP to grow at 7.1 per cent year-on-year in 2017-18, up from 6.3 percent in 2016-17, as the country gets sufficiently remonetised (by April-end), and consumption moves back to pre-demonetisation levels.

Budget 2017-18 allocation to WCD hiked by nearly 26 pc 

The Women and Child Development Ministry has received a nearly 26 per cent increase in budget allocation this year with the total money set aside climbing to Rs 22,095 crore from Rs 17,640 crore last year. The amount budgeted for 'Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana' saw a four times jump with Rs 2,700 crore being set aside this year as compared to Rs 634 crore in 2016-17. As per this scheme Rs 6,000 will be provided for mothers who seek institutionalised delivery and vaccination. 

Sula Fest begins in Maharashtra

The tenth edition of Sula Fest has began on 03rd February at the Sula Vineyards in Nashik, Maharashtra. The line-up for the three-day festival, which will also feature professional wine tastings and grape stomping, includes artists Infected Mushroom and Nucleya. Tickets for Sula Fest, which is offering a camping stay facility, range from RS. 1500 to Rs. 4900.

India recorded highest domestic air passenger growth in 2016

Emerging as a stand-out performer, India witnessed the highest growth of 23.3 per cent in domestic air travel demand worldwide in 2016 twice that of neighbouring China, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA). The global airlines’ grouping has stated that domestic India market topped the growth chart for the second year in a row with passenger volumes surging twice as that of China. “Domestic air travel rose 5.7 per cent in 2016. Capacity rose 5.1 per cent and load factor was 82.2 per cent, up 0.5 percentage points over 2015.

Survival of India-Pakistan Indus water treaty appears ‘weak’: UN report

The 40-year-old Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has been an outstanding example of conflict resolution but scarcity of water in the basin states since the early 1990s has brought the agreement under strain and its “survival appears weak”, according to a UN report. “The treaty fails to address two issues: the division of shortages in dry years between India and Pakistan, when flows are almost half as compared to wet years, and the cumulative impact of storages on the flows of the River Chenab into Pakistan,” said the UNDP report titled ‘Development Advocate Pakistan’. Wular Barrage and Kishenganga project on the Jhelum and Neelum rivers present a similar problem whereby water storage during the Rabi season is critical as flows are almost one-fifth of the Kharif season, according the report, which was released on 01st February 2017.

World's most expensive saree was sold for Rs 40 lakh

The most expensive silk saree was made by Chennai Silks and was sold for around Rs.40 lakh in January 2008, according to Guinness World Records. The saree featured reproductions of 11 paintings by Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma and took about 4,760 man-hours to produce. The saree, studded with gold, diamond, emerald, and other precious stones, weighed around 8 kilograms. 

Sports Ministry budget hiked by Rs 350 crore

The Sports Ministry budget got a substantial hike of Rs 350 crore in the union budget for 2017-18, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Parliament. Jaitley allocated a total of Rs 1943 crore, compared to Rs 1592 crore earmarked last year. The steep increase in the budgetary allocation comes at a time when Indian athletes are preparing for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018. The hike also comes in the wake of India’s dismal showing at the Rio Olympics where it won just two medals – a silver and bronze.


04th February: The World Cancer Day 2017

A truly global event taking place every year on 4 February, World Cancer Day unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer. Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2016-2018 will explore how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. 

HDFC Bank increases cash transaction fees on savings a/cs

In a bid to discourage cash transactions, the country’s second-largest private sector lender HDFC Bank has decided to steeply increase the fees for savings account holders on a slew of activities involving cash. HDFC Bank has decided to steeply raise the charges on certain transactions, capping cash component in others and also introducing charges on certain transactions from 01st March 2017.The bank has capped the third-party transactions at Rs. 25,000 a day, reduced the number of free cash transactions at branches to four from five earlier and also raised the fee for non-free transactions by a steep 50 per cent to Rs.150.
Earlier, it used to allow Rs. 50,000 cash transactions, both withdrawals and deposits per day, the official said, adding the review is only for salary and savings accounts.

Rail Museum celebrates 40th anniversary

The National Rail Museum in New Delhi celebrated its 40th anniversary on 01st February 2017. The museum, which houses a large collection of life-size rail exhibits, allows visitors to take a tour on a toy train. Its attractions include the saloons of the Maharajas of Indore and Mysore and Fairy Queen, the oldest working steam locomotive still in operation.

Former CBI chief Joginder Singh passes away

Former CBI chief Joginder Singh, who oversaw investigation of several high-profile cases including Bofors scam and Bihar's fodder scam, has passed away at aged 77 years. Family sources said he breathed his last on 04th February 2017 after the prolonged illness.The 1961 batch IPS officer of Karnataka cadre was chosen to head the premier investigative agency when H D Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister.

IDFC MD Vikram Limaye the new CEO, MD of NSE

Leading stock exchange National Stock Exchange (NSE) on 03rd February 2017 has selected IDFC chief Vikram Limaye as its new CEO and Managing Director, two months after the sudden exit of Chitra Ramkrishna from the top post. NSE's board approved Limaye's name for the top position but a formal announcement would be made later as some formalities need to be completed from his side. The approval of the board, chaired by Ashok Chawla, comes after a four-member search panel suggested Limaye's name from amongst the shortlisted candidates.

Pankaj Advani pockets the National Snooker Championship title

Champion cueist Pankaj Advani has won the Indian National Snooker Championship with a 6-0 win over Pandurangaiah of Railways in a one-sided final on 03rd February 2017. Apart from clinching his 29th national title overall, Advani broke several other records. He became the only Indian men’s cueist to be the holder of all national billiards and snooker titles at the same time – Billiards, 6-red Snooker and 15-red Snooker. After marching into the finals of the snooker nationals with a 5-2 victory over Sundeep Gulati of New Delhi, Advani put on a flawless show of precision in the summit clash, leaving the spectators at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana mesmerised.

UIDAI clamps down on 50 fraud sites offering Aadhaar services

In a massive crackdown on unauthorised agencies offering Aadhaar-related services illegally and charging excessive money from the public, UIDAI has got shut down 12 such websites and 12 mobile apps available on the Google Playstore.The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has further directed authorities for closure of another 26 such fraudulent and illegal websites and mobile applications. “Some websites and mobile apps were luring citizens to share their basic information and Aadhaar number under the pretext of getting them Aadhaar card or offering other Aadhaar related services. We have taken strict action against them,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told.


Govt forms panel to improve Haj policy, look into subsidy issue

The Centre has formed a six-member committee to give a report on ways to improve India's Haj policy and also look into the issue of subsidy to the pilgrimage in light of 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing it by 2022. Former Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah, Afzal Amanullah has been appointed as convener of the high-level panel, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi that the committee will submit its report in a month or two on how India's Haj policy can be improved and how the pilgrims can get maximum concessions.

‘President Pranab’ to bloom at Delhi’s Mughal Gardens by March first week

As the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan has reopened on 05th February 2017, visitors will for the first time see roses named after the Indian President and his wife, growing next to ‘ Abraham Lincoln’, ‘Christian Dior’ and ‘Queen Elizabeth’ . ‘President Pranab’, a crossbred variety of rose which was planted last month along with another variety of rose named ‘Suvra Mukherjee’, will blossom in spring. The President’s wife passed away in August 2015.
The entire complex comprising spiritual garden, herbal garden, bonsai garden and musical garden will remain open from February 5-March 12 (except on Mondays which are maintenance days) between 9.30am to 4.00pm.

BCCI opposes ICC's proposals on financial model, governance structure

Despite the change of guard at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Indian board continued to oppose the International Cricket Council's (ICC) new changes to the financial model and governance structure on 04th February 2017.The changes that the BCCI, represented by Vikram Limaye, a member of the new Committee of Administrators, is currently opposing are amongst the same changes that were recommended in 2014 with respect to a larger share of ICC's revenue to be given to India. 

Startup acquires Google's satellite imaging business

American startup Planet Labs, that launches small satellites into orbit and sells the imagery, has announced its acquisition of Google's 'Terra Bella' satellite business. As part of the agreement, 60 Google employees will join the startup founded by ex-NASA scientists. Terra Bella, formerly Skybox, was acquired by Google in 2014 for $500 million.

Alastair Cook awarded Order of the British Empire

England Test captain AlastairCook has been honoured with Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was awarded the CBE at the Buckingham Palace by Prince Charles. Cook is the only England player to have scored over 10,000 runs in Tests and has also led England in the most number of Tests. Cook said, receiving the CBE was a very proud moment for him, his family and friends.

Alibaba-made app helps find 611 missing Chinese children

A mobile app developed by Alibaba helped Chinese authorities recover 611 missing children last year. The 'Tuanyuan' app, which means 'reunion' in Chinese, sends push notifications with photos and descriptions to users who are close to the location of a child's disappearance. The notifications are sent to users farther from the location of the disappearance till the child is found.

Arun Kumar succeeds Richard Rekhy as KPMG India chairman
KPMG India board has elected Arun M Kumar as chairman and CEO to lead the India operations of the consulting and accounting major. He succeeds Richard Rekhy, who stepped down in November last year following a large-scale exodus of key people from the advisory team.Earlier in January 2016, Rekhy had been re-elected for a four-year term. Kumar, who spent the majority of his career with KPMG in the US, will take charge from 05th February 2017 for a five-year term.


Health Ministry launches Measles Rubella vaccination campaign
Health Ministry launched Measles Rubella vaccination campaign in the country at a function in Bengaluru.The campaign against these two diseases Measles and Rubella will start from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep, covering nearly 3.6 crore children. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Faggan Singh Kulaste launched this initiative at a function in Bengaluru, Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kulaste stated that the centre is committed to eradicating Measles and Rubella from the country. 

Vijay Goel lays foundation stone of 1st centre of excellence for differently abled sportsmen
The Union Minister for Sports Vijay Goel laid the foundation stone of the country's first centre of excellence for differently abled sportsmen at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.The centre is proposed with an estimate of 50 crores rupees and will provide World class facilities such as indoor halls, dedicated tracks and 100 bedded hostel where para athletes will be trained for various internationalcompetitions including Paralympics.The Minister also inaugurated a sports training centre at Sports Authority of India campus in Gandhinagar. Around 50 differently abled sportspersons between age group 8-12 will be imparted training in Athletics, Swimming and power lifting at the training centre.

Sasikala Natarajan to take over as Tamil Nadu's next CM
AIADMK chief Sasikala Natarajan will take over as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from O Panneerselvam, the party announced. The AIADMK MLAs also elected Sasikala Natarajan as the Legislative party leader. Notably, the party said in a tweet that current Chief Minister Panneerselvam had himself proposed Sasikala's name as the leader of AIADMK Legislature Party.

Nagaland cabinet to submit memorandum to PM to exempt it from Part IX A of Constitution
Nagaland cabinet has decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister to issue an ordinance to exempt the state from the provision of Part IX A of the Constitution which deals with the municipalities. According to a communique issued by the media cell of Chief Minister's Office, the decision was taken in an emergency meeting of the state Cabinet, was attended by special invitees comprising legislators from all tribes. 

Sarbananda Sonowal launches CMSGUY in Guwahati
In a move to bring about paradigm shift towards holistic development of villages, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the Chief Minister Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana, CMSGUY in Guwahati this evening. This scheme is a mega mission with a financial outlay of 30,000 crore rupees and it will be implemented in all the villages of the state. It will culminate in 2021-22. 

Corp Bank pact with Religare
Corporation Bank has signed an agreement with Religare Health Insurance Co Ltd to market its products and services through the distribution network of the bank across India. A press release said that Corporation Bank holds around 5 per cent stake in Religare Health Insurance. The Executive Directors of the bank Sunil Mehta and Gopal Murli Bhagat, and Managing Director & CEO of Religare Health Anuj Gulati were present at an event to sign the agreement in Mangaluru

Telangana launches India's first social innovation hub in Nizamabad
The Telangana government has launched India's first social innovation centre The ‘Kakatiya Hub For Social Innovation’ in Nizamabad, Telangana.Telangana IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan made this announcement at the one-day Development Dialogue, an international social entrepreneurship ecosystem conference hosted by Kakatiya Sandbox. Jayesh Ranjan said the ‘Kakatiya Hub For Social Innovation’ funded by the Telangana government and implemented through Kakatiya Sandbox will function like a rural incubator to encourage entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.

2% reservation to sports persons in govt jobs: CM Raghubar Das
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das stated that state will give two per cent reservation to sports persons in government jobs and nutritious food to them. He said efforts were also being taken to give nutritious food to the sports persons, an official release in Ranchi.

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security suspends IndiGo's security training centre licence
Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, BCAS has suspended the licence of budget carrier IndiGo's aviation security training facility.The regulatory authority took the decision after several lapses were detected in the examination procedure that it was following. PTI quoting sources stated, the orders issued by the apex aviation security agency BCAS the Gurgaon-based airline from conducting security training programme for its employees any further.
The training academy is run by IndiGo's parent company, InterGlobe Aviation. 

Uber launches taxi hiring service UberHIRE
Global taxi-hailing platform Uber announced it has launched a new category UberHIRE that allows customers to hire a taxi for the day, to cover several destinations, and is targetting senior citizens, business travellers and tourists.Currently, UberHIRE works only on cash payments.After a pilot run in Kochi,UberHIRE will go live in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vizag and Nagpur, with more cities slated for launch in the weeks to come, it added.

CESC wins Bikaner power distribution franchise
CESC Ltd, a part of the Rs. 19,000-crore RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, has received a letter of intent for appointment as a power distribution franchisee to supply electricity in Bikaner, Rajasthan.This is the group’s third distribution operation in Rajasthan, the other two being in Kota and Bharatpur

World’s longest flight lands in New Zealand
The world’s longest commercial flight landed in New Zealand on 6 February 2017 with the arrival of Qatar Airways’s 14,535km (9,032-mile) Doha-Auckland service.The long-range Boeing 777-200LR crossed 10 time zones on its marathon flight. There were four pilots on board as well as 15 cabin crew who served 1,100 cups of tea and coffee, 2,000 cold drinks and 1,036 meals during the flight.

Renowned Urdu author Bano Qudsia passes away
Renowned Pakistani Urdu novelist and playwright Bano Qudsia has passed away here. She was 88. She was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2003 and Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010. 

India to host FIBA Women's Asia Cup basketball tournament
India to host FIBA Women's Asia Cup basketball tournament at Bengaluru in July, 2017. Basketball Federation of India (BFI) President KGovindaraj stated that continental flagship tournament for women will be hled from July 23 to 29, 2017.India has also been given another continental level tournament-the FIBA U-16 Women's Asian Championship - which will be held from October 22 to 28, 2017 in Hyderabad.This will be the first time since 2009 that India will host a major FIBA (International Basketball Federation) event.

Virat Kohli features in latest cover star of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who led his side to victory against England in all three formats of the game recently, has featured in the latest cover star of the bible of cricket - Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. Kohli becomes only the third Asian origin player after Tendulkar and England all-rounder Moeen Ali to be featured on the cover of the magazine.


HRD Ministry to set up NTA to Conduct Exams for Higher & Secondary Education
The Union Human Resource Development Ministry led by ‎under Prakash Javadekar is set to constitute a National Testing Agency (NTA) which will be responsible for conducting examinations for higher and secondary education. The announcement was made in the Union Budget 2017-18  by the Finance Minister who proposed to set up NTA as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing agency to conduct all entrance exams to higher education. 
The main aim of setting NTA is to ease the work of the bodies like CBSE, AICTE, from the responsibilities of conducting exams, and eventually enable them to focus more on academics.

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits Uttarakhand, tremors also felt in Delhi-NCR
 A moderate intensity earthquake measuring 5.8 on Richter scale hit Uttarakhand last night (06 February 2017), with tremors also felt in Delhi and other parts of northern India.Operations head at National Seismological Bureau JL Gautam said, the epicentre of the quake was Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand.

Andhra Pradesh: First Smart Police Station inaugurated
In Andhra Pradesh, the first Smart Police Station, having look and feel of a corporate-style office, started functioning. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the first model police station at Nagarampalem in the capital region Amaravati.He also inaugurated the second model police station in old Guntur town. 

Railways Approves Rail Project in Andaman and Nicobar
The Railway Ministry is set to develop the first ever railway line in Andaman and Nicobar Island that currently has no rail network. The Ministry of Railway is set to approve the project that will construct 240-km broad gauge railway line connecting Port Blair with Diglipur, the largest town on Andaman Island. It will connect the two islands with bridges and stations along the coast.

Tripartite MoU signed among M/o of Tourism, M/s NPCC & NBCC and Govt of J&K for Implementation of Tourism Projects In J&K
A Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed among the Ministry of Tourism, M/s NPCC & NBCC and Government of J&K on  for the implementation of Tourism projects in Jammu and Kashmir. As a part of the new initiative, Development of Tourism in the State New Projects, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned two projects, one each to NPCC and NBCC in the J&K which will be implemented by September 2017. The first project sanctioned to M/s NBCC includes Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Gulmarg Baramulla  Kupwara Leh. The total outlay of the project is Rs. 96.62 Crore. The project under M/s NPCC includes Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Mantalai Sudhmahadev  Patnitop in Jammu & Kashmir. The total outlay of the project is Rs. 97.82 Crore.

Bank of Maharashtra ties up with Cigna TTK
Public sector lender Bank of Maharashtra has partnered with insurance company Cigna TTK Health to market the insurer’s products in the bank’s branches across the entire country.
Under the agreement, the bank will offer the all of Cigna TTK’s superior health insurance products to its 2 crore customers through its network of over 1,896 branches, its 14,000 bank employees across the country as well as through its digital platforms.

Axis Bank ties up with Earthport 
India’s third largest private bank, Axis Bank has tied up with Earthport Plc, a cross-border payment network, to enable faster outbound cross-border payments for its customers through Earthport’s state-of-the-art global payments network.  Axis Bank has become the first bank in India to connect with Earthport’s global payments network, which spans over 60 countries.

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Starts Pilot Operation in Bengaluru
The Ujjivan Small Finance Bank officially started its operation with 5 pilot branches in Bengaluru. Samit Ghosh is the MD and CEO of the Ujjivan Small Finance Bank.The five pilot branches of the Ujjivan SFB would offer full services to its customers. The  Ujjivan Small Finance BankSmall Finance Bank will test its technology, channels, people and processes for a period of one month as a part of its pilot launch.The Bank aims to launch about 14 branches by March 2017 and extend services across 457 branches in 24 states in a planned and phased manner over the next few months.

Indian Coast Guard to have Joint Exercise with UAE Coast Guard
In an effort to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and UAE, the Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samudra Pavak made a goodwill visit at the Mina Al Rashid (Dubai Port) from February 4 to 7, 2017. The Indian Ambassador in UAE Navdeep Suri visited the Indian Navy ship on February 5, 2017. During the stay at port Rashid, a series of activities is scheduled to take place between Indian and UAE coast guard. As a part of the visit, a joint exercise is scheduled to take place between Indian coast guard and UAE coast guard to enhance co-operation and exchange of operational expertise.

Indian-Origin British Sculptor Anish Kapoor Wins $ 1 Million Israeli Prize
Renowned Indian-origin British sculptor Anish Kapoor was honored with the prestigious $1 million 2017 Genesis Prize by Israel for his utmost contribution for Jewish community. However, the money received by the innovative artist would be contributed by him to help the Syrian refugees and expand Jewish engagement in the global effort to reduce the refugee crisis. The 62-year-old Anish was chosen by the prize committee headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Queen Elizabeth II marks Sapphire Jubilee
Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest reigning sovereign, has became the first British monarch to reach her Sapphire Jubilee, with 65 years on the throne. The 90-year-old monarch is marking the landmark as a day of private contemplation at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk as it also coincides with the day her father, George V who has died

UN Agency Calls for International Collaboration on Wheat Rust to Curb Threat to Global Supplies 
According to a new study conducted by scientists in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), two new groups of wheat rust have been identified that posed threat to wheat produced in Africa, Asia and Europe in 2016. As per the data, the two new groups have been identified as yellow rust and stem rust. The finding calls for the need for early detection and rapid action to keep the fungus under control.

India to host World Billiards Championship for next four years
 The Billiards and Snoooker Federation of India (BSFI)informed that India will host the World Billiards Championship for the next four years. In 2016, the World Billiards Championship was held in Bengaluru.In the prestigious tournament, Pankaj Advani won in the 150-UP format beating Peter Gilchrist of Singapore. The Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) is the central authority that deals with the growth and development of cue sports in India.

Alastair Cook resigns as England Test captain
Alastair Cook has resigned as England Test captain after a record 59 matches in the role. Cook tendered his resignation to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves, but intends to continue playing Test cricket.  Cook, England's leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became captain in August 2012.He has led England in a record 69 one-day internationals between 2010 and 2014. He has been the country's most capped Test skipper and has scored more Test centuries than any previous captain.

Iran Lifts Ban on American Wrestling Team
Iran lifted up the ban it had imposed on United States Wrestlers, thus allowing them to participate in the Freestyle World Cup to be held in Iran in February 2017.
Iran had banned the American team on February 3, 2017 after the decision of US President Donald Trump to temporarily suspend Visas to seven Muslim majority countries including Iran. However, the United States Federal Judge suspended the ban imposed by US Government on Iranian Nationals travelling to the U.S. But the Trump administration is again appealing to reinstate the travel ban.The Freestyle World Cup is to be held in the Iranian city of Kermanshah from February 16 to February 17, 2017.

08th February, 2017

RBI's Monetory Policy February 2017 : Keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25%
RBI governor Urjit Patel led Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept the key repo rate unchanged at 6.25% in the first monetary policy review of 2017 and after Budget 2017.  Limit on cash withdrawal from savings banks accounts to be relaxed in 2 stages. From 20 February, 2017 limit to be increased from Rs 24k to Rs 50K. From 13 March, 2017 there will be no limit on cash withdrawal from savings bank accounts. 9.92 lakh crore new notes infused into market as on January 27, 2017.Inflation seen at 4-4.5% for April-September,2017. For January-March, 2017 CPI stay below 5%

Policy rates:
Repo Rate- 6.25%
Reverse Repo Rate- 5.75%
Marginal Standing Facility Rate- 6.75%
Bank Rate-  6.75%

Reserve Ratio:
CRR- 4%
SLR- 20.50%

3-day global conference on Nuclear Terrorism to begin in New Delhi
The Implementation and Assessment Group Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism begins in New Delhi. Nearly 150 delegates from various partner countries and international organisations will take take part in the three-day event. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will inaugurate the meet organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Atomic Energy.The meeting highlights India’s commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 

SC clears plan to verify mobile phone users through Aadhaar
The Supreme Court has approved the government‘s plan to record the identification details of mobile subscribers through an e-KYC (Know Your Customer) mechanism linked to Aadhaar in a bid to enhance national security and prevent fake users.A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar asked the government, represented by Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, to put in place the mechanism within a year. The mechanism would cover at least 100 crore mobile phone subscribers, 90% of whom use pre-paid cards.

International Conference & Exhibition on Terrestrial & Satellite Broadcasting held in New Delhi
The 23rd edition of International Conference and Exhibition on Terrestrial & Satellite Broadcasting was held in New Delhi. The 3-day conference was organized by the Broadcast Engineering Society (India). The theme of the conference is 'Hybrid Technologies in Broadcasting New Opportunities'. In this EXPO, nearly 300 companies from 25 countries displayed their products directly or through their dealers and distributors in India. 

Over 13,000 Divyangs have been given jobs by Centre
Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh stated that 13 thousand Divyangs have been given jobs in various central government departments. Talking to media in New Delhi yesterday,Dr Singh said efforts are on to fill all the 15,694 vacancies in the central government. He said till now nearly 84% of vacant posts meant for Divyangs have been filled.

No cash withdrawal limit from March 13,2017:RBI
The Reserve Bank of India announced that the cash withdrawal limit on savings accounts will be scrapped from March 13, 2017 . Further, the current limit of withdrawal fixed at ₹24,000 per week will be raised to ₹50,000 per week from February 20,2017 the RBI added. The limits on bank withdrawals were placed after demonetization

Federal Bank ties up with data portal for loans against warehouse receipts
Federal Bank has partnered with leading online data and information portal Commodity Online for the distribution of loans against warehouse receipts and collateral management services across the country.Commodity Online will roll out an agri commodity financing platform through its flagship portal where farmers and traders can track commodity markets and warehouses online and get financing for their commodities quickly.According to Mohan K, Deputy General Manager (SME & Agri), Federal Bank, the bank’s partnership with Commodity Online enables it to aggressively get into the online space to provide financing for agri commodities with collateral management across India.

Bank of Baroda, IFFCO launch co-branded debit card for farmers
In a novel initiative that would push digitalisation and cashless economy, Bank of Baroda (BOB) has tied up with IFFCO, a cooperative, to provide co-branded debit cards with inbuilt overdraft facilities to the farmers. In this regard, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between G.B.Panda, General Manager (government relationship) BOB and Yogendra Kumar, General Manager (Marketing) IFFCO. Under this MOU, two lakh co-branded debit cards will be issued to the farmers beginning with the state of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Subsequently more cards will be issued across rest of India.These co-branded debit cards will be exclusively used for the purchase of IFFCO products only. BOB has agreed to issue the co-branded debit cards to the farmers with an overdraft limit of Rs. 2,500 per cardholder.BOB will also provide 2500 PoS machines initially at the various locations across India recommended by IFFCO at mutually agreed terms and conditions.

ICICI Securities partners with Saxo Bank
ICICI Securities, a subsidiary of ICICI Bank, has entered into a strategic partnership with Saxo Bank, an online multi-asset trading and investment specialist. This partnership will offer Saxo's trading and investment capabilities via a digital platform to Indian investors. It will enable ICICI Securities' 4 million clients of to diversify their investments outside of the domestic Indian market and access multi-asset investment opportunities on 36 stock exchanges across 24 countries, through SaxoTraderGo. Clients opting for these services to invest outside India will gain access to third party research with

HDFC Bank, KMB go live with Bharat Bill Payment System
Private sector lenders HDFC Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are live with the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) that is aimed at easing utility and other repetitive bill payments for consumers. The BBPS is a centralised system created by the National Payments Corporation, involving banks and non-banks and allows agents to access bill payments services in an interoperable manner, HDFC Bank stated. A customer can pay multiple bills from a single platform without the hassle of visiting multiple websites or issuing individual cheques, or also registering billers with her bank for standard instructions for debit.

Adani appoints Purdie as CEO for renewable energy unit in Australia
The Adani Group has appointed Jennifer Purdie as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for its renewable energy business unit in Australia in a bid to drive its plans to become the largest renewable energy player in the country. Adani’s aim is to become the largest renewable energy industry participant in Australia with a total capacity of 1,500 MW in the near term.

HDIL to launch budget homes in Mumbai Metropolitan Region
Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd will soon launching its new budget homes brand in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Through this brand, HDIL aims at making quality housing at affordable prices accessible to a wider section of people. Under this brand, HDIL will provide affordable homes within Rs. 50 lakh inclusive of stamp duty and registration in Mumbai’s suburbs and within Rs. 20 lakh, including stamp duty and registration charges, in the Vasai–Virar region.

Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos wins Senate confirmation vote
In United States, Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's controversial nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, by the slenderest possible margin. US Vice-President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to secure her cabinet role, splitting the chamber 50-50.

Foreign direct investment zooms 60 pc to USD 4.68 bn in Nov 2016
With the government taking steps to improve ease of doing business and relax regulations, foreign direct investment into the country surged by 60% to USD 4.68 billion in November 2016. The FDI stood at USD 2.93 billion in November 2015.During the period, India received maximum FDI from Singapore, Mauritius, the UK, the US, the Netherlands and Japan, an official stated.

National Badminton Championship: Sourabh Verma clinches Men’s Singles title
Sourabh Verma clinched the Men’s Singles title defeating Lakshya Sen in the 81 st Senior National Badminton Championships tournament played in Patna. Sourabh beat Lakshya Sen 21-13, 21-12.  Rituparna Das claimed the Women's Singles title defeating Reshma Karthik in the tournament. Second seed Rituparna defeated 9th seed Reshma 21-12, 21-14. In Women's doubles event, the pair of Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant clinched the title defeating the pair of Shikha Gautam and Sanyogita Ghorpade 21-9, 21-11. In the mixed doubles, the duo of Satwik Sai Raj and Maneesha K defeated Venkat Gaurav Prasad and Juhi Dewangan 21-14, 21-18 to claim the title.In Men's doubles event, the duo of Satwik Sai Raj and Chirag Shetty clinched the title defeating Nand Gopal K and Sanyam Shukla 21-17, 16-21 and 21-16.


Cabinet approves 'PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' for digital education

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate. The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March 2019. This is in line with the announcement made by Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17.  PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19. To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates. 

India & US agree to sustain momentum on defence efforts

India and US have agreed to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defence efforts. US Defence Secretary James Mattis telephoned Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and expressed commitment to building upon the tremendous progress made in bilateral defence cooperation.

US Senate votes to confirm Jeff Sessions as next US Attorney General

 In the US, Senate voted to confirm Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States. The Alabama senator is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement and his early support of President Donald Trump who nominated him for the job. The session was confirmed by a 52-47 vote.

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Presents Rs 2,350 crore Deficit Budget 2017-18

The Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma presented the state Budget for the session 2017-18 on February 7, 2017 in the state assembly. The budget was based on the theme “Resurgent Assam”.  As per the Minister the state Budget, 2017-18 was Rs. 2,349.79 crore deficit Budget. The budget presented merged Plan and Non-Plan expenditures.The Government has redefined the role of Planning & Development Department. The department has been rechristened to the Department for Development and  Transformation of Assam (DDTA).

India & Austria Signs Protocol to Amend Bilateral Taxation Treaty

 India and Austria signed a protocol to amend the existing bilateral taxation treaty for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion.The protocol was signed between Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra on behalf of India and Embassy of Austria Charge d’ Affaires Georg Zehetner behalf of Austria.
The protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of the exchange of tax related information. This will help to curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two nations as well as enable mutual assistance in relation to collecting taxes.

RBI to set up panel on strengthening cyber security

 In a bid to strengthen cyber security system, the Reserve Bank (RBI) decided to set up an inter-disciplinary panel on cyber security to examine various threats and suggest measures to deal with it. The panel will review the threats inherent in the existing or emerging technology on an ongoing basis. Besides, it will also study the adoption of various security standards/protocols and also act as the interface with stakeholders. The committee will suggest appropriate policy interventions strengthen cyber security and resilience.The decision has been taken based on the recommendations of the expert panel on information technology examination and cyber security headed by Meena Hemachandra.

Arunachal Becomes First NE State to Implement e-Cabinet Solution

Arunachal Pradesh has become the first state in the northeast to implement e-cabinet solution for the state cabinet members.Using this system, the cabinet members can access the cabinet notes before the meeting. The entire business of the Cabinet can be conducted using the e-Cabinet solution. e-Cabinet is a powerful tool that the Arunachal Pradesh government plans to use to streamline its decision-making process.

04th BIMSTEC Summit to be Held in Nepal in 2017

 The 17th session of the senior officials’ meeting of the BIMSTEC in Kathmandu. The Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal informed during the 17th BIMSTEC-SOM meeting in Kathmandu that the 4th BIMSTEC Summit would be hosted by Nepal in 2017. Earlier in 2016, the 4th Summit was scheduled to be held in Nepal, but due to some political reasons, Kathmandu was unable to host the event last year.Besides, being the head of the group, its Nepal turn to host the summit .As per the statement by the PM’s Secretariat, the agenda for the summit would include connectivity, energy and economic development.Presently, the BIMSTEC is chaired by Nepal. It was founded in 1997 to bring together Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

China becomes world’s largest producer of solar power

China has surpassed Germany to become the world’s largest producer of solar energy after nearly doubling its installed photovoltaic capacity in 2016. With the increased capacity, China generated 66.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy last year, which however accounted for only 1% of its electrical output. The country further plans to double its current solar energy capacity by 2020.

PNB Housing Finance limited & CREDAI-West Bengal Signs MoU to train construction workers in West Bengal

Addressing the need of pacing up constructions with skilled labour that would result in quicker delivery and hand over, PNB Housing Finance Limited (PNBHFL) has signed an MOU with CREDAI West Bengal to train 1000 construction workers in Kolkata and nearby villages. CREDAI-Bengal would also be setting up permanent (off-site) skill development centres in Medinipur and Murshidabad - places with the huge concentration of construction labour. 

IDFC Bank, IndiaLends tie-up for loan services to 1st timers 

Private sector lender IDFC Bank has collaborated with fintech startup IndiaLends to enable first-time borrowers who do not have a credit history to take loans. Loan requests by salaried applicants without credit history will now be processed on a real time basis. The unique solution is being offered through a tie-up with IndiaLends, a financial technology startup.

CBDT signs four more Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) on 08th February 2017. The four APAs signed pertain to the Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Contract Manufacturing, IT Enabled Services and Software Development Services. With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes 8 bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed before the end of the current fiscal. 

IAAF Bans Russia From 2017 London World Athletics Championships 

Russia will miss August's World Athletics Championships in London after their doping ban was extended, the world governing body president Sebastien Coe said. Russia has been barred from international competition since November 2015 following a damaging report alleging that state-sponsored doping was rife in the country. The ban had already been extended in March and then June 2016, preventing Russia's athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics.

Freedom fighter Racharla Samrajyam Dies at 98

 Racharla Samrajyam, a veteran freedom fighter, passed away following age-related illness at Vishakhapatnam. She was 98. 
She was inspired by the Quit India Movement at the time when she was undergoing Hindi Pracharak training at Anantapur in 1942. It was at this point of time, she had quit the training programme and joined the Quit India Movement.

Col Nizamuddin who drove around Netaji has passed away

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s driver and INA veteran ‘Colonel’ Nizamuddin has passed away in his native village of Dhakwa in Azamgarh after a prolonged illness.Born in 1901, Nizamuddin was over 116 years old. He is survived by his wife Ajbul Nisha, three sons and two daughters. His youngest son Sheikh Akram. ‘Colonel’ Nizamuddin, who had served in the Indian National Army from 1943-45, had proclaimed himself as one of the most trusted lieutenants of Netaji.

Govt sells 2% stake in ITC, raises Rs 6.7k cr

 The government has sold two per cent stake in ITC to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and earned Rs 6,690 crore (around $1 billion) as part of its divestment plan for 2016-17. The stake, held under the so-called Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), was sold at Rs 275.85 per share through block deals. According to stock exchange data, the stake was picked up by LIC, LIC (Scheme 5) and LIC Allocation Contra Fund.This is the second SUUTI divestment this financial year. In November 2016, the Centre had divested 1.63 per cent stake in engineering major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to raise Rs 2,100 crore. State Bank of India (SBI) had picked up shares worth Rs 800 crore in the share sale.

Govt appoints 3 directors on RBI Central Board

The Government has appointed three part-time Non-Official Directors on the all-powerful Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India for a four-year term. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed Ashok Gulati, Manish Sabharwal and Rajiv Kumar as part-time Non-Official Directors on the Central Board. Stating this, the Department of Personnel and Training said the appointments are for a period of four years. Further, the ACC has also approved the proposal of Department of Financial Services for the appointment of three Members of the Local Board of RBI. Prasanna Kumar Mohanty (Southern Local Board), Vallabh Roopchand Bhanshali (Western Local Board) and Sunil Mitra (Eastern Local Board) have been appointed for four years. The RBI’s affairs are governed by the Central Board of Directors. The board is appointed by the government.


Gujarat establishes cashless system for PDS 

Gujarat has become the first state in the country for establishing the cashless system in its public distribution system (PDS) of food grains. The beneficiaries who are eligible for subsidised food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) will now need to carry only Aadhaar cards for getting their food grains in Gujarat. According to the Food ministry, there are over 81 crore beneficiaries under NSAI in the country. 

Govt to open 56 Post Office Passport Seva Kendra facilities

Enthused by the success of two pilot projects on utilising the head post offices as Passport Seva Kendra, the government has now decided to scale up this programme by opening 56 such facilities across the country. The ministry of external affairs and the department of posts had earlier decided to join hands to deliver passport- related services to the citizens.MEA and department of posts are working closely for the early commencement of passport-related services at such Kendras located in various states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Hemant Bhargava appointed as LIC's MD

Hemant Bhargava has appointed as Managing Director of state-owned Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. He is at present LIC's zonal manager, Delhi.The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved Bhargava's appointment to the post till his superannuation, ie, July 31, 2019, an order issued by Personnel Ministry said. The top LIC management consists of the chairman and three managing directors.

BoB to finance small units in diamond sector at concessional rates
To give a leg up to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the diamond industry, Bank of Baroda is planning to launch a supply chain financing product for the industry on a pilot basis in Surat. Cutting and polishing units, which procure roughs from large companies and supply finished products back, will be provided finance at a competitive rate of interest.
This move is expected to give a boost to MSMEs as well as the corporate segment within the diamond industry, said Rajneesh Sharma, General Manager, Bank of Baroda. The product will be launched in the next 10-20 days.

Official mascot of FIFA U-17 World Cup 'Kheleao' unveiled

With just 238 days remaining for the start of FIFA Under-17 World Cup India 2017, the official mascot of the tournament 'Kheleao' was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on 10th February 2017. A clouded leopard called Kheleao was introduced to hundreds of football fans in a ceremony attended by Sports Minister Vijay Goel and All India Football Federation President Praful Patel. The clouded leopard is an endangered wild cat whose habitat extends from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia. Kheleo will participate in numerous activities in the run-up to the first-ever FIFA tournament to be hosted by India, which will be played from October 06th to 28th this year.

Kohli record for most Test 150s by an Indian captain

Virat Kohli recorded his sixth Test 150, against Bangladesh at Hyderabad on 10th February 2017, to set the record for most 150-plus scores by an Indian captain in Tests. Kohli went past Sunil Gavaskar and Mohammad Azharuddin, who both have five 150-plus Test scores each as captain. Notably, all of Kohli's last five Test centuries have been of 150+ runs.

Hyderabad Test: Cheteshwar Pujara breaks 52-year-old record on Day 1

India’s top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara added another feather to his cap on the first day of the Hyderabad Test at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium against Bangladesh. During his knock of 83 runs, Pujara surpassed the 52-year long-standing record of former Indian cricketer Chandu Borde of highest first-class runs in a single cricketing season.Borde had scored 1604 runs in the 1964-65 season that included runs in Tests as well as first-class matches. When Pujara scored his 83rd run, he eventually surpassed Borde’s record by a run and now has 1605 runs in the season with India still to play 4 more Test matches to play against Australia at home.

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