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Current Affairs: 11 February 2017

Published on Saturday, February 11, 2017

Govt launches Braille atlas to let the visually impaired study maps

  • In a first, the Ministry of Science and Technology has come up with a comprehensive Braille atlas for nearly 50 lakh visually challenged people in the country, especially students.
  • The atlas has 20 maps on different themes like physical, socio-economic, river system, crops pattern, natural vegetation, cultural, metropolitan areas, roads and railways, and crops.
  • Developed in Hindi and English by the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), Kolkata, an institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Braille atlas has been made using indigenously developed silk-screen painting technology.
  • The maps are well embossed with simple lines and point symbols to facilitate its users realise the location. The area coverage is easily distinguishable in terms of shapes and textures.
  • Each atlas costs nearly Rs 600.
  • For its initiative, NATMO was awarded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this year’s Indian Science Congress held at Tirupati.
  • NATMO has also prepared Braille maps for West Bengal and Meghalaya in Bengali and English respectively. They have also been asked by the governments of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat to come up with state maps in English and their regional languages.
  • The concept of Braille maps took root in the country in 1900s and the first such map was made in 1997.
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Government Launches Mission XI Million To Promote Football Among School Children

  • As a step in the direction of fulfilling PM Narendra Modi's vision of making football the sport of choice in India, Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Vijay Goel launched the Mission XI Million.
  • Mission XI Million is an ambitious program which is touted as being the biggest school sport outreach programme in the country. Mission XI Milliion, a unique initiative, is launched to encourage school children to play football.
  • The game will help children inculcate healthy habits in their lives and pick important lessons in teamwork and sportsman spirit.
  • As part of the programme, Government will motivate and incentivize school principals and sports teachers to promote football games in school on a regular basis

Virat Kohli becomes first batsman to score four double-centuries in four straight series

  • Virat Kohli breaks another record as he becomes first to score four double tons in four consecutive Test series
  • Kohli scored his fourth double century for India against Bangladesh in Hyderabad on Friday. All of these have come after June last year. That is just seven months! Four double centuries in just seven months and Kohli has done that effortlessly.
  • He became the second captain to score four double centuries for his country. He also became the first player to score double tons in four consecutive Test series.

Official mascot of FIFA U-17 World Cup unveiled

  • With just 238 days remaining for the start of the tournament, the official mascot of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, 'Kheleao' was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
  • In a glittering ceremony attended by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, the chairman of the Local Organising Committee and AIFF president Praful Patel, the young and charismatic face of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, a clouded leopard called Kheleo, was introduced to hundreds of football fans.
  • 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 6 to 28 this year.

Nilambur teak to get geographical indication tag soon

  • Nilambur teak will soon become the first forest resource from India to get GI (geographical indication) tag of World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has initiated the steps for the registration of the Nilambur variety of Teak or Malabar Teak, which is known for log dimensions and desired wood figure.
  • A GI is a name or sign used on certain products, which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin. 
  • The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users are allowed to use the popular product name
  • At present 18 indigenous products from Kerala are in the GI list of India. They are Aranmula kannadi, Alleppey coir, Navara rice, Palakkadan matta Rice, Malabar pepper, Alleppey green cardamom, maddalam of Palakkad, Screw Pine craft, cocunut Shell crafts, Pokkali rice, Cannanore home furnishings, Kuthampully sari, Kasargod sari, Wayanadan rice, Vazhakkulam pineapple, Payyannur pavithra ring, Central Travancore jaggery and Chendamangalam dhoties.

Piyush Goyal launched TAMRA Portal and Mobile App

  • Power,Coal and mining minister Piyush Goyalwill launch TAMRA(Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation) portal and Mobile Application
  • The sole objective is to enhance transparency and accountability as a part of the Ease of Doing Business in the Mining sector. 
  • Ministers of mining and senior officers from 12 mineral rich States would also be connected through videoconferencing.
  • TAMRA will be an interactive platform for all the stakeholders to compress the timelines for statutory and other clearances as it would help minimize the gestation period for commencing production.
  • In case of delay in obtaining any clearances, TAMRA will send triggers to the concerned authority so that the remedial steps can be taken immediately by those responsible. 
  • The ministry of mines will also receive triggers generated by TAMRA and will facilitate in expediting clearances. This portal also enables successful bidder to give suggestions/inputs.

MRI pioneer and Nobel laureate Sir Peter Mansfield dies

  • A Nobel laureate who failed his school exams before going on to pioneer body scanning technology has died aged 83.
  • Sir Peter Mansfield led a team in the 1970s that developed Magnetic Resonance Imaging, one of the most important breakthroughs in modern medicine.
  • Sir Peter shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003 with the inventor of the technique, US chemist Professor Paul Lauterbur.
  • He is credited with further developing the technology, showing it can be mathematically analysed and interpreted, creating scans that take seconds rather than hours and generating much clearer images.

Nokia to acquire Finnish telecom software company Comptel for $371 million

  • Nokia is acquiring Finland-based telecommunications software company Comptel in a cash deal worth €347 million ($371 million).
  • Founded out of Helsinki in 1986, Comptel develops software for Operations Support Systems (OSS), which are basically systems used by telecom service providers to help manage and configure their networks, including managing faults.
  • Nokia plans to combine Comptel’s business with its own OSS offering, analytics, and cloud infrastructure to provide an “end-to-end orchestration of complex NFV and SDN deployments
  • Comptel is actually a public company, trading on the Helsinki Nasdaq OMX since 1999, and counts 800 employees in more than 30 countries.

Hemant Bhargava appointed LIC MD

  • Hemant Bhargava was today appointed 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, i.e., July 31, 2019, an order issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
  • The top LIC management consists of the Chairman and three Managing Directors.
  • UNO ropes in Satinder Sartaaj for campaign against trafficking
  • Folk singer Satinder Sartaaj has been roped in by the United Nations Office on Drugs under its project against human trafficking called "Blue Heart Campaign".
  • The 34-year-old artist has collaborated with other celebrated Indian musicians like AR Rahman and Sonu Nigam in this drive to spread awareness about the illegal practice through 'Music to Inspire' album.
  • The album also includes songs by world famous artistes such as Ozark Henry, Karmin, Joss Stone, Jack Atlantis, Tisha Campbell, Steve London and Lee England.
  • Talking about the initiative, Sartaaj explains the Blue Heart reflects upon the sad state of those who are trafficked and cold-hearted nature of the ones carrying out this trade.

China releases theme of BRICS Summit

  • China has released the theme and the cooperation priorities of the 2017 BRICS Summit which is scheduled to begin in September,
  • The summit will be held under the theme “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future
  • It will also feature five key priorities such as deepening cooperation, strengthening global governance, carrying out people-to-people exchanges, making institutional improvements and building broader partnerships.
  • The BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The summit will take place in Xiamen which is located in east China’s Fujian Province

India to pitch global services accord to WTO chief Azevedo

  • India made a presentation to World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo and India Inc. on New Delhi’s proposal for a global pact to boost services trade.
  • The proposed Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement at the WTO-level aims to ease norms including those relating to movement of foreign skilled workers/professionals across borders for short-term work.
  • Among the objectives of the proposed pact, official sources said, is ensuring portability of social security contributions, as well as making sure fees or charges for immigration or visas are reasonable, transparent, and non-restrictive (or impairing the supply of services) in nature.
  • It also aims to pave the way for a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals.

India, UK sign MoU to allow more flights to boost tourism, trade

  • India and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ease restrictions on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries
  • Limits on flights from Indian cities, including Chennai and Kolkata, have been scrapped, allowing for a greater range of flights for passengers while providing a boost to trade and tourism for the UK and India
  • The agreement also opened all destinations in the UK for Indian carriers for code share flights, and reciprocally the UK carriers can also operate code share flights to any international airport in India, through domestic code share arrangements.
  • The agreement was formally signed by Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, on behalf of India and Lord Ahmad, Aviation Minister of UK, during a visit to India where he led a delegation of British companies for the 2017 CAPA India Aviation Summit.

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 government has now decided to scale up this programme by opening 56 such facilities across the country.
  • 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
  • The pilot project between the MEA and Department of Posts had started in Mysuru and Dahod (Gujarat), on January 25.

Shri Ananthkumar inaugurates Orientation Programme for launching of 1000 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs)

  • Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar inaugurated and presided over the orientation programme for the district conveners of National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) here today, for launching of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) in the country. 
  • The workshop was targeted to educate and channelize youth to synergize their efforts for taking ahead the mission to open 3000 PMBJKs by March 2017.
  • Authenticity, Availability and Affordability (3As) must be emphasized while opening PMBJKs across the country
  • PMBJKs will provide affordable quality medicine to all citizens, under PMBJP which is an initiative of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. Currently there are 777 PMBJKs and the target is to achieve 3000 kendras by March 2017

AP identifies 90 projects under Sagarmala

  • The Andhra Pradesh Government is drawing up plans to make the most of Sagarmala project, identifying 90 projects entailing investment of Rs 1,30,762 crores
  • Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has constituted a 33-member committee to monitor the implementation of these projects. He himself will be the chairman of the committee which will conduct periodical reviews.
  • Visakhapatnam Port Trust will be the nodal agency for the implementation of inland waterways projects. Two industrial corridors and five SEZs will be part of the project.
  • The Chief Minister has instructed the officials to prepare action plans, port-wise as well as cluster-wise, for all these projects and submit them to the Union Government.

Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from PDS

  • After cooking gas LPG, the government made Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from the ration shops with a view to better target Rs.1.4 lakh crore subsidy under the food security law.
  • The government has given time to those not having the biometric-based unique identification number to apply for Aadhaar by June 30.
  • The government issued a notification to this effect, but did stop short of saying that subsidised foodgrains will not be sold to anyone not having Aadhaar after June 30.
  • The Department of Food and Consumer Affairs has issued a Notification under Aadhaar Act on February 8 which requires individual beneficiaries having ration cards under NFSA to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication to receive subsidies under NFSA (i.e. subsidised food grains or cash Transfer of Food Subsidy under NFSA)
  • Beneficiaries under NFSA who do not possess the Aadhaar number or are not yet enrolled for Aadhaar, but are desirous of availing subsidies under NFSA are required to make application for Aadhaar enrolment by June 30, 2017 and may visit any Aadhaar enrolment centre to get enrolled for Aadhaar,

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