Current Affairs: 17 February 2017

Norman Isaac becomes first Indian to be FIBA’s Technical Delegate

  • Norman Isaac has become the first Indian ever to be promoted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as Technical Delegate (TD).
  • The sport’s worldwide governing body recently confirmed the appointment after Isaac, along with a select few aspirants from across the globe, successfully cleared a battery of tests at Doha, Qatar.
  • As a TD, he will be assigned to any country except his own and will be responsible for conduct of an entire event, ranging from actual competition management to every related aspect from media arrangements to logistics.
  • As a FIBA Commissioner, conferred with the title at Muscat, Oman in 2006, his earliest assignments were in 2009 for the FIBA Asia girls under-16 years tournament in Pune and the FIBA Asia women’s championship at Chennai.
  • In 2001, he became a FIBA Referee and officiated in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2002 and the FIBA Asia championship at Singapore in 2004.
  • In 2015, the BFI appointed him as its Chairman, Technical Commission.
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Indian-origin Scotland Yard officer wins bravery award

  • A heroic Indian-origin Scotland Yard officer has been honoured with a top bravery award in the UK for risking his own life to save a family trapped in a burning house, winning the vote of thousands of Londoners.
  • Shand Panesar, along with colleague Craig Nicholson, won the Total Excellence in Policing Awards at the annual ceremony for rescuing a couple from a burning building.
  • In September 2016, PC Nicholson and PC Panesar, arrived before the London Fire Brigade to a raging house fire in Hillingdon and quickly learnt that two people were trapped inside.
  • Although the officers had no fire safety equipment or protective clothing they acted in the best traditions of the Met and charged into the flame engulfed house without any hesitation.

Tamil Nadu Governor appoints Edappadi K Palaniswami as chief minister

  • Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao appointed Edappadi K Palaniswami as chief minister. The Governor invited him to form the ministry at the earliest.
  • The governor requested the chief minister-designate to seek the vote confidence of the assembly within 15 days.
  • Palaniswami has claimed that he has the support of 124 legislators, while the O Pannerselvam camp had that of only 10.
  • Palaniswami, the strongman of Salem district, was chosen as the legislature party leader on Tuesday, hours after Supreme Court upheld the Bengaluru special court verdict convicting AIADMK interim general secretary+ V K Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case.

RBI allows regional rural banks to grant gold loans up to Rs2 lakh

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday said that regional rural banks (RRBs) can grant gold loans up to Rs2 lakh with bullet repayment option against the current limit of Rs1 lakh.
  • Under bullet repayment schedule, loan amount is paid at the end of maturity.
  • The loans with a bullet repayment will have a maximum maturity of 12 months and the loan-to-value ratio should be 75% of the gold pledged.
  • Crop loans sanctioned against the collateral security of gold or gold ornaments shall continue to be governed by the extant income recognition, asset classification and provisioning norms for such loans

RBI to reimburse banks MDR charges effective 1 January

  • The Reserve Bank will start reimbursing MDR charges to banks for payments made since January 1 through debit cards by citizens
  • In December 2016, the government had decided to absorb the merchant discount rate (MDR) charges in respect of debit card transactions for making payments to it. The move was aimed to encourage people to use digital payments post demonetisation.
  • In order to operationalise the (government's direction), the Reserve Bank will reimburse banks MDR on debit cards used for payment of tax and non-tax dues to the government of India with effect from January 1, 2017

Citi Bank launches instant chat service for customers 

  • Citi has launched instant chat services for customers logged in to Citibank Online (CBOL) in India. The real-time chat facility focuses on resolving queries instantly, in a safe environment, across cards, domestic and non-resident accounts, and loans, for clients as they transact online. 
  • The live chat functionality will transform the post login experience of our customers as they will be able to instantly connect with our service team while they bank on our secure site.
  •  The chat facility will address the customer’s need for help or clarification while logged into CBOL 
  • CBOL also features a regular chat facility for generic query resolutions. This was introduced to support non-account centric queries, such as requests for product features, branch locations and log-in assistance, amongst others. 
  • India is the first country in Asia Pacific within the Citi network, which spans 12 countries in the region, to launch the generic chat capabilities. 

International Conference on NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries-NxGnMiFu-2017 concluded

  • International Conference on "NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries" [NxGnMiFu-2017] concluded in New Delhi 
  • Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that this conference must look at the working conditions of the poorest of the poor/ the have-nots/ downtrodden and see how much scientific research can change and improve their lives. 
  • The conference focused mainly on issues related to Innovative Mining Technologies for Complex Geo-mining Conditions; Mine Safety, Monitoring and Risk Management; Clean Coal Initiatives; Coal to Liquid, Methanol and Urea; Harnessing Coal Bed Methane, Shale Gas and Underground Coal Gasification; Technological Developments in Oil and Gas Sectors and Alternate Clean Energy Initiatives.
  • It aimed to deliberate and identify the R&D needs to innovate new techniques, technologies and applications for clean, safe, symbiotic sustenance of society, environment and industries in post-2020 era.

Tata Motors and Microsoft India collaborate to redefine the connected experience for automobile users

  • Tata Motors and Microsoft India announced a strategic agreement to redefine connected and personalized driving experiences for Indian customers. 
  • Tata Motors will leverage Microsoft’s connected vehicle technologies that bring together artificial intelligence (AI), advanced machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities on the global hyper-scale Azure cloud, to traverse the digital and physical worlds and create a highly personalized, smart and safer driving experience across the digital life of a vehicle owner. 
  • The first vehicle showcasing the vision for these enhanced driving experiences will be unveiled at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show on 7th March 2017. This will be via Tata Motors’ unique user interface application and services suite utilizing Microsoft enabled functionality like advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, telematics and remote monitoring features.
  • Using Microsoft technology will empower Tata Motors to provide connectivity features on mainstream, mass-market vehicles at affordable prices.
  •  Tata Motors will continuously develop and launch new connected services and applications that make it easier for people to stay connected to work, entertainment and social networks, with greater safety & security as well as services to maximize better use of newly found in-car free time.

AIIMS wins first prize for sanitation & hygiene under Kayakalp awards

  • All India Institute of Medical Science, AIIMS of Delhi has won the first prize and a cash reward of 5 crore rupees for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene under the Government's Kayakalp awards.
  • AIIMS was followed by North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, which got a cash prize of 3 crore rupees. While Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, received the third prize of one crore rupees.
  • Health Minister J P Nadda yesterday gave away the awards to the winners under various categories in New Delhi.
  •  Speaking on the occasion, Nadda said, the thrust of Kayakalp is to inculcate culture of cleanliness for gaining the trust and confidence of community in these facilities. The Kayakalp award scheme was launched in 2015.

Vikas Swarup appointed India’s next envoy to Canada

  • Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Vikas Swarup, has been appointed as India’s next High Commissioner to Canada.
  • Swarup has been serving as the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs since April 2015. Prior to that, he was Joint Secretary incharge of the United Nation’s Division of the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • An officer of the 1986 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Swarup has previously served in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan.
  • He is best known as the author of the novel Q & A, adapted in film as Slumdog Millionaire, the winner of Best Film for the year 2009 at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards.

Kerala gives in-principle approval for new airport at Sabarimala

  • The Kerala cabinet gave in-principle approval for setting up a greenfield airport at pilgrim centre Sabarimala. The government-run Kerala State Industrial Development Corp. (KSIDC) will conduct a study on the proposed airport
  • In November, the union government had agreed to issue a no objection certificate (NOC) for an airstrip near Sabarimala. Part of the Western Ghats, Sabarimala is known for a hill-top Ayyappa temple which attracts a 50 million plus devotees, cutting across religious lines, every year during the annual pilgrimage season between November and January.
  • With this, the total count of airports in the state of just 33 million population will go up to five.
  • It already has three international airports, mainly catering to the 2.5 million emigrants to Persian Gulf countries, and another one is being developed Kannur district.

Indian Panaroma Film Festival Begins in Port Blair

  • The Indian Panorama Film Festival kicked off in Port Blair on February 15, 2017.
  • The five day film festival has been organized by the Directorate of Information, Publicity & Tourism, Andaman & Nicobar Administration in association with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Directorate of Film Festivals/IFFI, New Delhi, Govt of India.
  • The festival was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Administration, Shri Anindo Majumdar at DBRAIT Auditorium, Dollygunj, Port Blair.
  • The inauguration was followed by screening of the film Bahubali (Telegu) directed by SS. Rajamauli.
  • About 15 films of different languages and different genre will be screened at two different venues including PBMC Auditorium and ITF Ground during the festival.
  • The event will conclude on February 19, 2017.
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