Current Affairs: 5 February 2017

President opens Rashtrapati Bhavan's annual 'Udyanotsav' 

  • President Pranab Mukherjee opened the annual 'Udyanotsav' of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The highlights of this year's 'Udyanotsav' include two new varieties of roses named after the President Pranab Mukherjee and his late wife Suvra Mukherjee; Vertical Gardens and Air Purifying Plants which absorb toxins from polluted air.
  • The two varieties of roses named 'President Pranab' and 'Suvra Mukherjee' were developed by Pranabir Kumar Maity and Ashok Kumar Maity of Pushpanjali Rose Nursery at Jakpur, West Bengal. 
  • The Indian Rose Federation issued a certificate after trials in January 2017 and the roses were subsequently planted in the Mughal Gardens.
  • About 14,000 Tulip bulbs in seven different colors such as red, orange, pink, and purple have been planted in the Mughal Gardens. Several beds of roses, including both new and heritage varieties are the main attraction of the Long garden. Flower Carpets in various designs will be on display in the Central Lawns of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The dominant color scheme of this year's ornamental flowers is various shades of yellow, red and orange.
  •  A small cactus corner, as in previous years, forms part of the display. Exhibition Stalls will be set up near the Spiritual Garden displaying produce of fresh vegetables and fruits grown in the President's Estate Organic Farm. 
  • The Spiritual Garden will also showcase a Lotus pond with a cascading waterfall.

Govt forms panel to improve India’s Haj policy

  • The Centre has formed a six-member committee to give a report on ways to improve India’s Haj policy and also look into issue of subsidy to the pilgrimage in light of 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing it by 2022.
  • Former Consul 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 the Capital
  • The panel will examine implications of various directions of the apex court with regard to the existing Haj policy, and suitable amendments in it.
  • The committee will also review the effectiveness of Haj Committee of India’s management of pilgrims’ accommodation and air travel.
  • It will also assess the aspects of transparency, consumer satisfaction and disclosure requirements for private tour operators to protect interest of the pilgrims with a view to make the policy of greater assistance to the pilgrims

Sanjeev Sanyal appointed principal economic adviser in Finance Ministry

  • Government appointed noted economist Sanjeev Sanyal as Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Sanjeev Sanyal, former Global Strategist and Managing Director, Deutsche Bank, to the post of Principal Economic Adviser in the Department of Economic Affairs," an official statement said.
  • He has been appointed in a pay scale of Rs 67,000-79,000 for a period of three years.
  • In 2007, Sanyal was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship for his work on urban issues and was also honoured by the Singapore government at the World Cities Summit 2014.
  • Sanyal has authored several books including 'Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India's Geography', 'The Indian Renaissance: India's Rise After a Thousand Year's of Decline' and 'The Incredible History of India's Geography'.

Bihar introduces third gender category in school exams

  • For the first time since the Supreme Court recognised transgender people as a third gender in 2014, as many as 18 students in Bihar have been allowed to appear for the Board exams conducted by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) under the third-gender category. 
  • The exams for Class 12 begin on February 14 and for Class 10 from March 1.
  • According to board officials, 10 third-gender students will be taking the Class 12 exams and eight would be writing the Class 10 exams. 
  • So far, the BSEB did not allow students to take Board exams under the ‘third gender’ category because the examination form specified only two categories, male and female.
  • Monika Das had to appear in the Board examination under the male category with the name of Gopal Kumar. 
  • She is a law graduate from Patna University and proudly claims to be the first third gender banker of the country.

Anand Kumar Gupta takes over as director commercial at NTPC 

  • Anand Kumar Gupta has taken over the charge as director commercial at NTPC 
  • As director commercial, he will be responsible for the activities relating to commercial, international and domestic business development and consultancy business of NTPC. 
  • He also headed business development department of NTPC and plant operations & maintenance at power stations. 

Iran bars US wrestlers from Freestyle World Cup event

  • Iran banned US wrestlers from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition this month in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians
  • The decision marks the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump’s executive order banning visas for seven Muslim countries. 
  • Earlier this week, Iran said it would take retaliatory action.

Tata Motors unveils TAMO, its startup and sub-brand to develop futuristic vehicles

  • Tata Motors has introduced TAMO, a sub-brand that will act as an incubator to develop new range of technology–heavy mobility solutions for the Indian and global markets, as part of its transformation journey
  • TAMO, a start up established under the Tata Motors umbrella, will act as an incubating centre of innovation for developing new technologies, business models and partnerships to define future mobility solutions, according to top officials of Tata Motors.
  • TAMO will help us to co–design India’s automotive footprint by taking new technologies and mobility concepts as a new ecosystem to market
  • TAMO will act as an open platform to network with global start-ups and leading technology companies to get access to trends, innovations and solutions for the design of exciting future products and services.
  • As the automotive environment changes rapidly with disruptive technologies and customer behaviour, TAMO will transform the experience of interfacing and interacting with customers and the wider community.
  • The new entity will provide a digital eco-system which will be leveraged by Tata Motors to support the mainstream business in the future. TAMO will have a small team of specialists who can imagine the future and they will be supported by personnel from Tata Motors to develop new passenger vehicles.
  • The first product developed by TAMO will be showcased at the upcoming 87th Geneva International Motor Show to be held in March.

IDFC MD Vikram Limaye the new CEO, MD of NSE

  • Leading stock exchange National Stock Exchange 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 appointment would also need capital market regulator Sebi' approval.
  • Incidentally, he was recently named in a four-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court for administering cricket body Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
  • Currently the Managing Director & CEO of IDFC, Limaye started his professional career with Arthur Andersen in Mumbai in 1987 and has also worked with Ernst & Young and Citibank.
  • He has worked at Wall Street for eight years with Credit Suisse First Boston before returning to Mumbai in 2004.
  • Limaye has contributed to various committees of government and industry associations on a range of topics surrounding infrastructure, economic policy, markets and trade.
  • The appointment comes at a time when the exchange is preparing to launch its IPO estimated to be worth over Rs 10,000 crore. Besides, the bourse is facing regulatory issues over alleged preferential access to a few for co-location and algo trade facilities.

Top Indian diplomat re-appointed to UN Joint Inspection Unit

  • Achamkulangare Gopinathan, a top Indian diplomat, has been re-appointed by the UN General Assembly to the Joint Inspection Unit, the only independent external oversight body of the UN system.
  • Gopinathan, along with Sukai Prom-Jackson of Gambia, Jean Wesley Cazeau of Haiti and Nikolay Lozinskiy of Russia were appointed members of the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2018.
  • The Joint Inspection Unit is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide.
  • Gopinath’s re-appointment follows his nomination by India and endorsement as the sole candidate of the Asia-Pacific Group.
  • Gopinathan was first appointed to the UN body for a term from January 2013 to December 2017. At that election, he had secured 106 votes out of 183 votes and had defeated Ambassador Zhang Yan of China. He was serving as Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit.
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