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Current Affairs Power Capsule – February 2015

1. Arvind Kejriwal was sworn-in as Chief Minister of Delhi. The oath of office and secrecy was administered by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung at Ramlila Ground, Delhi.

2. JDU leader NItish Kumar was sworn in as the 34th Chief Minister of Bihar. He succeeded Jitan Ram Manjhi, who resigned from his office on 20 February 2015 before the trust vote.
3. Eminent scientist Tapan Misra was appointed as the Chief of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC) at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

4. Kshatrapati Shivaji was appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).

5. IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary took charge as the Director General of the force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

6. Reserve Bank of India reduced the Statutory Liquidity Ratio by 50 basis points to 21.50 per cent from 22 per cent with effect from February 7. This is likely to pump in around Rs.45,000 crore to the system. RBI kept the short-term policy rate (repo rate) unchanged at 7.75 per cent, which the central bank had reduced by 25 basis points from 8 percent on January 15. It also maintained status quo in the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 4 per cent. RBI said that inflation is likely to be around the target level of 6 per cent by January 2016.

7. Naveen Chopra was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone India.

8. Nickolay Mladenov of Bulgaria was appointed as new United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.

9. MO Garg was appointed as the Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).

10. Justice Amitava Roy was sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court. Prior to this, he served as the Chief Justice of Odisha High Court.

11. Union Government appointed LC Goyal as Union Home Secretary.

12. Sergio Mattarella was sworn-in as the President of Italy.

13. India's Ambassador to the US, Dr. S Jaishankar was appointed as the Foreign Secretary.

14. K Durga Prasad was appointed as the Special Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

15. Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Greece by President Karolos Papoulias at Maximos Mansion.

16. Wipro won seven awards at the third annual edition of the CIO Choice Honour and Recognition 2015.

17. Ratan Tata was honoured with an honorary Doctorate of Automotive Engineering by the Clemson University at the South Carolina Automotive Summit.

18. Kristen Stewart won the Best Supporting Actress Award at France's Cesar Awards.

19. Film Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kukunoor won two awards at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.

20. Women scientists Dr. Tessy Thomas and Geeta Varadan were jointly named for Dr. Y Nayudamma Memorial Award 2014.

21. The Brigade of The Guards and the Sikh Regiment were collectively awarded the Best Marching Contingents Trophy for Republic Day Parade 2015.

22. Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen won the newly established Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2015.

23. Eminent Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade on 6 February 2015 was chosen for the Jnanpith Award 2014 by the Jnanpith Selection Board.

24. Dr. Zakir A. Naik, the founder and President of the Islamic Research Foundation of India on 3 February 2015 won the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) for the year 2015. Naik, an international preacher on Islam was awarded for Service to Islam.

25. Madhya Pradesh won the 10th National Award for excellent work in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA).

26. Poetess Arundhathi Subramaniam won the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry at Jaipur Literature Festival. She was awarded for her work When God is a Traveller.

27. Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh were posthumously awarded with the highest peacetime military honour the Ashok Chakra.

28. Miss Colombia Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe 2014. She was crowned at the final of 63rd edition of Miss Universe held in Miami, US.

29. Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed was arrested in Male under anti-terrorism laws.

30. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was sworn in as the President of Croatia. She is Croatia’s first female President.

31. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s name was included in the LIMCA book of records. Her name was included for being the only woman of the country to represent the same Lok Sabha constituency on the same party ticket for eight times in a row.

32. President of Singapore Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam was on a State visit of India.

33. Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri stepped down as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

34. Eminent Cartoonist Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman passes away.

35. International Data Corporation released report highlighted that South Korean handset maker Samsung continued to retain its top position in the Indian Smartphone market. Samsung mopped up 22 percent of the market share followed by Micromax (18 percent0 and Intex (8 percent).

36. Telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released a report that India telecom subscriber base reaches all-time high at 970 million at the end of December 2014.

37. India successfully test-fired nuclear weapons capable, surface-to-surface 
Prithvi-II missile from Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore district, Odisha as part of a user trial by the army. The missile was tested for a shortened range of 250 km as against its full range of 350 km.

38. The first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, also called RE-Invest 2015, was held in New Delhi.

39. The 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit was held in New Delhi. The theme of the summit was Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change.

40. The First World Ocean Science Congress (WOSC) was held in Kochi, Kerala.

41. 18th National Conference on e-Governance was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The main Theme of the Conference was Digital Governance – New Frontiers.

42. Vanaj 2015 is a weeklong National Tribal Festival was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram at the the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, New Delhi.

43. The National Stock Exchange signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gujarat International Finance Tec international exchange in Gujarat.

44. Union Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a three-member Special Investigation Team for reinvestigation of the 1984 anti will be headed by Pramod Asthana.

45. The Union Government constituted a High Level Panel headed by former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal to suggest a framework to assess Corporate Social Responsibility activities undertaken by companies under the Companies Act, 2013.

46. The Union Cabinet reconstituted the Empowered Committee headed by NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat on setting up of Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication manufacturing facilities in the country.

47. The book Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks was written by SK Rath.

48. India and China jointly launched the Visit India Year in China in Beijing during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to China.

49. The Eighth India-Nepal Battalion level Combined Military Training named Exercise Surya Kiran-VIII, commenced at Integrated Army Training Centre, Saljhandi, Nepal.

50. The Indian Army and State Bank of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Defence Salary Package.

51. 10th Aero India show concluded at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

52. India successfully test-fired a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from Indian Navy's latest destroyer INS Kolkata. The launch off the Goa coast was flawless as the missile met all its designed parameters. BrahMos is a missile with a range of 290 kilometers and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kilograms.

53. Indian Navy conducted a large scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise in the Lakshadweep Islands (Karavati, Aggatti, Kalpeni and Androth).

54. The government is working on an ambitious plan to build one smart city each at the country’s 12 major ports, at an estimated total investment of Rs 50,000 crore. The 12 major ports in the country — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Managlore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) — handle approximately 61 per cent of cargo traffic.

55. The Income Tax department is set to launch over 100 fresh prosecution complaints for “wilful” evasion of taxes against those entities and individuals whose names have figured in the HSBC, Geneva black money bank accounts list.

56. Foreign direct investment in India almost doubled to USD 2.16 billion in December 2014, compared to USD 1.10 billion in the same month of 2013. During the April-December period of current fiscal, FDI rose by 27 per cent to USD 21.04 billion as against USD 16.56 billion in the same period last fiscal. Amongst the top 10 sectors, telecom received the maximum FDI of USD 2.67 billion in the nine-month period. India received maximum FDI from Mauritius at USD 5.89 billion, followed by Singapore.

57. Environmental damage in the climate change-hit islands of Sundarbans is costing India Rs 1,290 crore each year, estimates a latest World Bank report.

58. India’s high air pollution, ranked by the World Health Organisation among the worst in the world, is adversely impacting the lifespans of its citizens, reducing Indian lives by over three years, a new study has said.

59. Government-owned power companies are guilty of operating the most polluting coal-based power plants in the country, as a substantial number of such units are old and operate on outdated technologies, a report on environment rating of thermal power plants released by Center for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

60. India’s foreign exchange reserves rose for the fifth straight week to hit a new record high of $333 billion as of February 13, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed.

61. The Tax Administration Reforms Commission led by Parthasarathi Shome has asked the government to drop 23 pending tax disputes involving capital transactions similar to the controversial Shell and Vodafone tax cases, which the government has decided not to pursue beyond the high court.

62. Government has notified the rules for Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS), which will be mandatory for companies from April 1, 2016. Ind AS norms, which are converged with global standards IFRS (International Financial reporting standards), can be followed by corporates on a voluntary basis from April 1 this year. For companies having net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, the new norms would be mandatory from April 1, 2016.

63. India’s first-ever renewable energy summit—RE-Invest 2015—has secured $200 billion worth of investment commitments from foreign firms such as Sun Edison and First Solar and Indian companies such as Suzlon, Reliance Power and NTPC. If those commitments are realised, they will be sufficient to meet ambitious targets set by the NDA government to ramp up solar energy generation capacity to 100,000 MW and wind energy to 60,000 MW by 2022.

64. The government has cleared a $8 billion plan to build India’s most advanced warships, defence sources said, just months after ordering new submarines to close the gap with the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.
65. The Reserve Bank of India lifted the ban on imports of gold coins and medallions by banks and trading houses. The RBI in a notification also said banks are permitted to import gold on consignment basis.

66. The Delhi government decided to bid for coal blocks with an aim to set up new power plants and increase its own electricity generation from current 1,000 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts.

67. India sealed a nuclear energy deal with Sri Lanka, its first breakthrough with the new government of the tiny Indian Ocean Island where China has been building ports and highways in a diplomatic push in recent years. Under the deal, India will help Sri Lanka build its nuclear energy infrastructure, including training of personnel, the Indian foreign ministry said. Later, India could also sell light small-scale nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka which wants to establish 600 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030.

68. The risk of hunger and malnutrition could increase by 20 per cent due to climate change by 2050, endangering the lives of millions of people, a UN agency has warned.

69. After being ranked last for consecutive two years, India has now moved up 1 position to 29th on protection and enforcement of intellectual property practices, a US Chamber of Commerce report said. While the US tops the list of 30 countries, only Thailand is behind India.

70. Economic Survey called for improving business environment by making regulation and taxes less onerous to help push growth to 8.1-8.5 per cent next fiscal.

71. Railway Budget proposed freight hike for cement, coal, iron and steel, grains & pulses, groundnut oil, LPG and kerosene is 2.7 per cent, 6.3 per cent, 0.8 per cent, 10 per cent, 2.1 per cent, 0.8 per cent and 0.8per cent respectively.

72. The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government has slashed power tariff by half and ordered supply of free water, in prompt fulfillment of two of the party’s key election promises.

73. Cabinet granted its approval for the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB). The NDB will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Bank will have an initial authorised capital of $100 billion. The initial subscri bed capital will be of $50 billion, equally shared among founding members, it said, adding that the first President of the bank is to be from India, while the headquarters will be located in Shanghai.

74. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been made a member of the Governing Council of newly- formed NITI Aayog. Kejriwal has come in place of national capital territory’s Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.

75. The 14th Finance Commission recommended a fiscal deficit target of 3.6% of gross domestic product or GDP in 2015-16 and 3% in the subsequent years on the back of a likely pick-up in economic growth.

76. The 14th Finance Commission has recommended a record increase of 10 per cent in the devolution of the divisible pool of resources to states. The each state share will now be 42 per cent of the entire kitty as compared to 32 per cent previously.

77. India and the U.S. have made swift progress on their agreement to develop Ajmer, Allahabad and Visakhapatnam as smart cities by setting up task forces for each city, chosen for its significance to tourism and trade.

78. After launching the “Make in India” initiative aimed at the manufacturing industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to initiate a big push for the services sector in April.

79. Dubai has soared ahead of London’s Heathrow, riding a boom in long-haul flights between Asia and the West to become the world’s top international travel hub.

80. The Reserve Bank of India said that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on “Supervisory Cooperation and Exchange of Supervisory Information” with Banco Central do Brasil on December 26, 2014.

81. Government has appointed S. Jaishankar as the new Foreign Secretary, replacing Sujatha Singh.

82. The Maharashtra government has dispatched a letter of intent to the Indian High Commission in U.K., formally setting in motion the process to purchase the London house where Babasaheb Ambedkar lived when he was studying at the London School of Economics.

83. Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bharti Airtel said it planned to apply for a payments bank licence that are to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

84. The Modi Government sharply revised India’s 2013-14 GDP growth estimate to 6.9 per cent from 4.7 per cent. The 2012-13 growth estimate was revised to 5.1 per cent from 4.5 per cent. Base year of GDP also changed to 2011-12 from 2004-05.

85. The flight-trial of the country’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Agni-V, from a canister was a grand success from Wheeler Island, off the Odisha coast, and traversed its full range of more than 5,000 km before plunging into the Indian Ocean.

86. The U.N. weather agency says 2014 was the warmest year on record.

87. Foreign ministers of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping issued a communiqué recommended India’s inclusion in an expanded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a 21-nation grouping of Pacific Rim countries. The Ministers also endorsed India’s impending membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

88. Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan warned against compromising India’s interest for the sake of attracting foreign investment, and said the priority should be framing transparent policies as well as resolving contractual tax disputes quickly.

89. The central bank doubled the amount of foreign exchange that an individual can remit in a year under a scheme that allows asset purchase outside India. An individual can now remit up to $250,000 a year under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme.

90. Britain became the first country in the world to allow the creation of babies with DNA from three people after MPs voted for the controversial procedure.

91. Supreme Court ruled that the election of a returned candidate will be held as null and void if he fails to disclose complete and full details of his criminal antecedents at the time of his nomination.

92. Bhalchandra Nemade, whose Kosala (Cocoon) published in 1963 transformed the Marathi novel, has been selected for the 50th Jnanpith Award for 2014.

93. Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare started protest against Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

94. The BRICS grouping, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is discussing a green fund under the New Development Bank to undertake green projects and develop green technologies for sustainable development.

95. LCA-NP2, the fighter version of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas being made for the Navy, flew for the first time.

96. U.S. suppliers of nuclear reactors and parts will not be directly liable in case of a nuclear accident, nor can they be sued by Indian nuclear operators unless the contract they sign clearly states it, the government said. Government has assured the U.S. and other suppliers that their liability would be paid out of an “insurance pool” of approximately $250 million (Rs.1,500 crore), to be funded equally by the government and the government-owned insurance companies.

97. The Rajasthan Government and Adani Enterprises Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding for developing solar parks with a capacity of 10,000 MW in the next ten years.

98. Facebook announced a tie-up with Reliance Communications to launch in India, bringing to the land of a billion-plus people a service that the social media giant says helps affordable Internet access but whose critics disapprove its restrictiveness.

99. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party swept to power with 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, leaving only 03 to the BJP. The Congress tally was nil.

100. The Union government freed the sale of market- priced kerosene from regulatory control to ease its availability and check black-marketing of the fuel sold through the public distribution system.

101. ICICI Bank launched the first digital bank in the country, ‘Pockets’, on a mobile phone. Anyone, including those who are not ICICI Bank customers, can easily download the e-wallet from Google Playstore, fund it from any bank account, and start transacting immediately.

102. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who became the first Minister of the Narendra Modi government to visit Pakistan, has called for early finalisation of the consortium leader for expeditious implementation of the 1,800-km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project in limbo for almost a decade.

103. Haryana Assembly will soon go paperless. A delegation of legislators would visit Himachal Pradesh to see how a similar plan for reducing use of paper.

104. Reserve Bank of India said that it will soon put in circulation currency notes in one-rupee denomination.

105. India was ranked 136 out of 180 nations worldwide in terms of press freedom in 2015.

106. The Election Commission will conduct an electoral roll purification and authentication drive (ERPAD) by linking electoral rolls with Aadhaar numbers from March 1 to August 15, Chief Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma said.

107. A four-decade-old aircraft, Dakota-3, used during the Bangladesh Liberation War was handed over to Bangladesh.

108. China has taken a firm step to implement its vision of the Silk Road Economic Belt — an initiative to integrate the economies of Asia and Europe along the Eurasian corridor — by putting into operation its $40 billion infrastructure fund for this purpose.

109. Swiss authorities raided the offices of British banking giant HSBC’s Swiss unit as part of a money laundering probe into the bank that has been accused of helping clients to dodge millions of dollars in taxes.

110. China expressed its “diametrical opposition” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

111. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen ruled out reconsidering his decision not to seek a second term as Chancellor of Nalanda University.

112. Pakistan may now be on the fast track to weaponising spent nuclear fuel through its plutonium reprocessing plant in Chashma in Punjab, according to recent satellite imagery.

113. Stock markets will be open on the Budget Day (February 28), and trading will be conducted during normal hours from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., despite it being a Saturday.

114. The much-awaited unveiling of a Mahatma Gandhi bronze at the historic Parliament Square will take place on March 14, Prime Minister David Cameron announced.

115. Public sector bank unions withdrew their call for a four-day strike, with the management agreeing to a 15 per cent increase in wages and acceding to the demand for holidays on second and fourth Saturdays.

116. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will begin his “SAARC Yatra” with a visit to Dhaka on March 2, followed by a visit to Islamabad, where he will resume India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary-level talks cancelled last year, sources told.