Daily Current Affairs - 10th Feb 2017

'Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand' by K. Vijay Kumar, IPS

  • The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has released the book titled 'Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand', written by K. Vijay Kumar, Senior Security Adviser, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Vijay Kumar was the Chief of the Special Task Force (STF) that was behind the killing of Veerappan during “Operation Cocoon” in 2004.
  • The book is a source of valuable inspiration offering insight into the tactics that went into the wiping out of the dreaded forest brigand.
  • Vijay Kumar has also played a major role in the MHA with the success of the anti-Maoist Operations in recent years. He is a former 1975 batch IPS Officer from the Tamil Nadu cadre. He headed the prestigious Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad in 2008 and has also served as the Director General of Central Reserve Police Force.

Aadhaar number mandatory for subsidies: Centre

  • The Union Consumer Affairs and Food Ministry has issued a notification that proof of possession of ‘Aadhaar’ number will be mandatory to avail oneself of the subsidised food grains or cash transfer of food subsidy under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • This notification shall come into effect from 08-2-2017 in all States and Union territories, except the States of Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Beneficiaries under NFSA who do not possess the Aadhaar Number or are not yet enrolled for Aadhaar but are desirous of availing themselves of subsidies under NFSA are required to make application for Aadhaar enrolment by June 30, 2017.

AIIMS for Telangana announced

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced in Parliament the setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Telangana.
  • The State government had actively pursued with the Centre sanction of AIIMS but it was not announced in the budget speech of Mr. Jaitley in Lok Sabha recently. The same was sanctioned for Gujarat and Jharkhand.
  • The MPs from Telangana raised the demand for AIIMS in the Parliament which was immediately conceded by the Finance Minister.

Cabinet Approves India-Senegal MoU on Health

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Senegal in the field of health and medicine.
  • Among the main areas of cooperation are integrated disease surveillance, medical research, emergency relief, hospital management, drugs and pharmaceutical products/hospital equipment, traditional medicine and AIDS control.
  • A working group will be set up to elaborate on the cooperation and to oversee the implementation of the MoU.
  • Senegal Currency: West African CFA franc.
  • Capital: Dakar

Centre to raise EPFO’s equity investments to 15%

  • Union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has stated that the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) will increase its equity investments to 15% of its incremental corpus in the next fiscal year, from 10% at present.
  • Although the EPFO is permitted to invest up to 15% of its incremental corpus in equity and related instruments, it began by investing 5% in ETFs in August 2015 and increased it further to 10% last year.
  • The equity investment of EPFO’s corpus has shown returns in the range of 8-9% annually depending on the market situation.
  • EPFO assists in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.

First nuclear blast helps test Moon’s formation theory

  • US Scientists have used decades-old radioactive glass, found blanketing the ground after the first nuclear test bomb explosion, to examine theories about the Moon’s formation about 4.5 billion years ago.
  • They have examined the chemical composition of zinc and other volatile elements contained in the green-coloured glass, called trinitite, which were radioactive materials formed under the extreme temperatures that resulted from the 1945 plutonium bomb explosion.
  • Scientists have long suggested that similar chemical reactions took place when a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized planetary body produced debris that formed the Moon.
  • The analysis found similarities between the trinitite and lunar rocks.

Govt to open 56 Post Office Passport Seva Kendra facilities

  • Enthused by success of two pilot projects on utilising the head post offices as Passport Seva Kendra, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Posts have now decided to scale up this programme by opening 56 such facilities across the country.
  • Applicants who apply for their passports online through the Passport Portal will be able to schedule an appointment at these POPSK (Post Office Passport Seva Kendra) to complete the formalities.
  • The pilot project between the MEA and Department of Posts had started in Mysuru and Dahod (Gujarat), on January 25.

Gujarat establishes cashless system for PDS

  • Gujarat has become the first state in India for establishing 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.
  • Aadhaar enabled payment system has been installed in fair price shops for this purpose.
  • In January this year, Union Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had organized a meeting with state food ministers for establishing cashless system in the PDS across the country by March 31, 2017.

Himalayan Games in Assam in April

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will conduct the first ever Himalayan Region Games in Guwahati, Assam from April 21 to 30.
  • The countries which will participate in the event are Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Afghanistan along with hosts India.
  • The games will have various sports including Archery, Athletic, Boxing, Fencing, Football, Judo, Kho-Kho, Squash, Table Tennis and Weightlifting.
  • Guwahati has previously hosted the South Asian Games in 2016.

India formally requests U.K. to hand over Vijay Mallya

  • The Indian government reached out to the U.K. government days after the CBI advised extradition of the absconding United Breweries Group Chairman, Vijay Mallya, who is wanted by a number of banks for defaulting on loans amounting to Rs. 9,000 crore.
  • The development came two days after the Karnataka High Court ordered winding up of United Breweries (Holding) Ltd, the parent company of the UB Group.
  • The order followed UBL’s failure to pay back banks and individual creditors as per guarantees extended to the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (KFA). (Kingfisher Airlines belongs to the UB Group.)

India issues demarche to China on Azhar

  • India has issued a demarche to China on its blocking of a US-backed proposal to ban Pathankot attack mastermind and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, by the UN.
  • The proposal was moved by three permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., the U.K. and France.
  • JeM has already been proscribed by the UN 1267 Committee.
  • JeM is an extremist group based in Pakistan. It was founded by Masood Azhar in early 2000 upon his release from prison in India. The group’s aim is to unite Kashmir with Pakistan.
  • The 2016 Pathankot attack was a terrorist attack committed by a heavily armed group which attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, Punjab, India.

India ranks 43rd in IP environment

  • India was ranked 43rd out of 45 global economies, according to a report by the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).
  • The report states that India needs to address issues that impact Indian innovation, such as software patentability, life sciences patents, copyright protection and enforcement, and trade secrets protection.
  • It also states that the new National IP Policy does not address the challenges rights-holders face when it comes to protecting their patent rights (particularly in the biopharmaceutical sector), modernising existing copyright laws or introducing international best practices and new sector specific IP rights such as regulatory data protection.
  • Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

MRI inventor Sir Peter Mansfield

  • The Nobel prize winning British physicist and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) pioneer Sir Peter Mansfield passed away.
  • He received the award for Physiology or Medicine in 2003 for advances in using MRI for medical science.
  • Imaging of human internal organs with exact and non-invasive methods is very important for medical diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
  • MRI is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body, and can show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods (X-ray, Ultrasound and CT Scan).

Nilambur teak to get GI tag

  • Nilambur teak, internationally known for its superior quality and elegant appearance, will soon be added to the list of Kerala produces with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
  • It was the imperial Britishers who identified the superior quality of teak from Nilambur plantations and forests. As its fame crossed the seven seas, Nilambur was christened the Mecca of Teak. The timber has superior mechanical and physical properties.
  • The Nilambur Teak Heritage Society joined hands with the Kerala Agricultural University to register Nilambur teak as a GI product of India.
  • A geographical indication (GI) is a sign that identifies a product as originating from a particular location which gives that product a special quality or reputation or other characteristic.

Prabhu launches first phase of Station Redevelopment Program

  • In order to transform the face of the Indian Railways, Union Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, has launched the first Phase of the World's largest Station Redevelopment Program comprising 23 major Railway Stations on Indian Railways network.
  • The project of re-developing 400 A1 and A Category Stations in India is the biggest non-fare revenue generating programme which will be done on PPP model through a fair bidding system conducted by the respective Zonal Railways.
  • These redeveloped stations would support digital signage, have escalators and elevators, self-ticketing counters, executive lounges, luggage screening machines, walkways and holding areas for passengers, among other facilities.

Sasikala stakes claim to form government

  • AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala met Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the next government in Tamil Nadu, contending that she enjoyed the support of a majority of party legislators.
  • Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who separately met Mr. Rao at the Raj Bhavan earlier, is learnt to have submitted a memorandum seeking time to prove his majority in the Assembly.
  • Panneerselvam has also stressed the need to order a probe into the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

SEBI to form panel to facilitate crowdfunding

  • The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is forming an advisory committee on financial technology related issues, which would look at safeguards that can be put in place to facilitate crowdfunding of genuine ventures and prevent anonymous entities from raising funds.
  • The advisory committee will also examine ways to mobilise domestic household savings for the growth of the country by way of providing risk capital as well as debt investments.
  • SEBI has expressed severe dissatisfaction over the current low level of investment of household savings in capital markets.