National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs February 1st week 2016
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) India, Afghanistan ink pact for visa-free travel by envoys.

  •  India and Afghanistan have signed an agreement for visa-free travel for diplomatic passport holders of the two countries. 
  •  This agreement was signed after Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afghanistan Government Abdullah Abdullah met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
  •  Both leaders also shared views on further deepening the India-Afghanistan relationship both in the bilateral and regional context and also to reenergised the strategic partnership between the two countries.
  •  Afghanistan CEO also met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during which they discussed the Afghan peace process, internal political situation in the strife-ravaged country.
  •  They also discussed security situation in the bilateral and regional context. Indian side also assured that implementation of existing as many as 92 small developmental projects in Afghanistan will be expedited.
2) DIPP gives nod to set up India’s first Defence Industrial Park at Ottappalam.
  • The Union government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has agreed to set up India’s first defense industrial park at Ottappalam a proposal from the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation.
Key Highlights
  1. The project will be recognized as a part of the Make in India, Make in Kerala project.
  2. The proposed project aimed to attract the component manufacturers in the defense industry with modern infrastructure facilities.
  3. The project will be developed under the Modified Industrial Infrastructure up gradation Scheme (MIIUS) as per the Union government decision.
  4. It is expected that the park will be established in 231.25 crore, Union government and Kinfra will invest in the project.
  5. The park would be established in 60 acres of land.
  6. It also helps in providing opportunity in defense-related export of products from small- and medium-sized enterprises.
  7. Such sort of project attracts the foreign investors and help in the Make in India campaign.
  8. Ottappalam will be proved as the best location for the project in every manner.
  9. The park will have its own development and research center with 24*7 power and water supply.
3) Himachal Pradesh to spend 15 crore rupees on Swachh Bharat Mission in Kinnaur.
  • The Himachal Pradesh Government in the first week of February 2016 decided to spend 15 crore rupees on Swachh Bharat Mission in tribal district of Kinnaur.
  • The funds will be utilized on capacity building and organizing of workshops for awareness. Under the Mission, target has been also fixed to involve all the schools, government institutions and villages.
  • Under the Mission, the first instalment of four crore fifty lakh rupees has been received by the district authorities. Every single household will be given 12 thousand rupees for toilet construction for which survey was conducted in the year 2012.
  • A special cleanliness drive will be launched under Swachh Bharat Mission with the help of Youth and Mahila Mandals in all the 65 Panchayats. Five Panchayats have been selected under Solid Waste Management where organic fertilizers will be made from the waste 
4) Modi to open ayurveda meet at Kozhikode.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive at Kozhikode early this afternoon to open the `vision conclave’ of the Global Ayurveda Fest.
  • The ayurveda fest, is showcasing the ayurvedic tradition of healing, a major Kerala heritage, to the world. The show also aims to jack up export of ayurvedic products, especially to Europe.
  • This is the first time Modi is visiting Kozhikode after taking over as Prime Minister. More than 1,000 police personnel are being deployed in Kozhikode to give a security cover to Modi.
5) National Pension System has 1.15 crore subscribers now.
  • The National Pension System now has 1.15 crore subscribers, each with an average Rs. 95,000 of assets under management. ``The total assets under management are worth Rs. 1,09,140 crore while assets under management per subscriber is Rs. 95,000 on an average``, said the Finance Ministry on Tuesday, adding that the total corpus of the National Pension System (NPS) is Rs. 90, 327 crore.
  • The scheme has 16,11,020 Central government employees as subscribers, amounting to 14.1 per cent of its total member base. They have a total corpus of Rs. 34,754 crore.
  • Meanwhile, 28,59,094 State government employees are members of the NPS, amounting to quarter of it total subscribers and having a corpus of Rs. 45,486 crore. The NPS for private citizens has 5,76,993 subscribers 4,48,509 members from the corporate sector and 1,28,484 from the unorganised sector.
  • The largest chunk of subscribers to the retirement saving scheme comes from NPS Lite, which has 44,63,637, constituting 39 per cent of the total membership. It has now been discontinued and replaced with the Atal Pension Yojana that has 19,48,811, subscribers or 17 per cent of the total members.

6) MGNREGA completes 10 years of implementation.

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 completes ten years of implementation. 
  • On this occasion, Union Ministry of Rural Development had organised MGNREGA SAMMELAN in New Delhi to highlight achievements MGNREGA. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was Chief Guest in the Sammelan.
About Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005:
  1. MGNREGA is a flagship rural job guarantee scheme that was announced by the then UPA government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February 2006.
  2. The scheme aims at providing 100 days wage employment to every household to ensure livelihood security in rural areas.
  3. It also aimed at sustainable development to address the cause of drought, deforestation and soil erosion.
  4. One third (33 per cent) proposed jobs in the scheme have been reserved for the women.
  5. Union Ministry of Rural Development is nodal agency for the implementation of the scheme.
  6. Since its implementation began the total expenditure on the scheme has amounted to over 3 lakh crore rupees. Out of this, 71% has been spent on wage payments to workers.
  7. The percentage of Scheduled Caste (SC) workers has consistently been about 20% and Scheduled Tribe (ST) workers has been about 17%. Women participation has rose to 57% well above the statutory requirement of 33%. 
7) India gets its first underwater restaurant.
  • India has got its first underwater restaurant in Ahmedabad, giving a new experience to food lovers. According to reports, the restaurant ‘The Real Poseidon’ has a dining area which has been created 20 feet below ground level. 
  • Run by Ahmedabad-based businessman, Bharat Bhatt, the 32-seater restaurant serves a range of cuisine, which includes Thai, Mexican and Indian Food. Though the restaurant will only cater to the vegetarian palate.
  • The unique restaurant will be 20-feet below the ground level and is covered with a huge aquarium which has 1,60,000 litres of water. The aquarium is filled with around 4000 different species of fishes in it.
About Poseidon:
  1. Poseidon was one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain was the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”.
  2. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”
8) Haryana, Ontario ink pact for cooperation.
  • Haryana and the Province of Ontario in Canada signed an MoU aimed at enhancing commercial and cultural ties.
  • The MoU was signed by the Managing Director of Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd, Sudhir Rajpal, and Deputy Minister of Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, Helen Angus, in the presence of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, and Premier of Prince Edward Island, Wade MacLauchlan.
  • The two sides decided to designate nodal agencies for timely and effective communication on matters of common interest, an official said.
  • Khattar said this was the first time that such nodal agencies have been designated. He said the Haryana government would organise ‘Happening Haryana Global Investors’ Summit-2016’ in Gurgaon on March 7 and 8 to attract investors to the State and extended an invitation to the Ontario Premier for the meet.
9) Maharashtra announces Babasaheb Ambedkar Special Group Incentives Scheme.
  • Maharashtra government has announced Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Special Collective Incentive Scheme for the economically backward Dalit entrepreneurs.
  • Decision in this regard was taken by state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai.
Key features of Scheme: 
  1. Under it, special facilities will be given to Dalit entrepreneurs besides the present Collective Incentive Scheme 2013.
  2. 20% plots for small and medium scale industries will be reserved for the Dalits within Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
  3. The plots in MIDC area will be made available at 30% concessional rate whereas plots in other areas will be available at 20% concessional rate.
  4. Businessmen in Service and Commodities sector would be able to avail the benefits of this scheme.
  5. It will be limited for only those industries where people from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have 100% investment. 
10) Joint Declaration between India and Germany.
  • The Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was apprised about signing of a Joint Declaration between the ministry of science & technology and the federal ministry of education and research of Germany on the extension of the tenure of the Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC).
  • The Declaration is for the extension of tenure of the bilateral IGSTC for a period of five years beyond 2017 till 2022 and it provides for enhancement of funding allocation from 2 million Euros per year to a maximum of 4 million Euros per year by each side.
  • This new declaration will enable IGSTC to further enhance, strengthen and improve research and technology cooperation of industrial relevance through cooperation between laboratories, academia and industry of both the countries.
About IGSTC:
  1. IGSTC will support and fund selected R&D projects linking research laboratories and industry (2+2 scheme) from India and Germany and assist in mobilizing resources to carry out collaborative industrial R&D projects. 
  2. The IGSTC was established under an agreement between the two Governments in October 2007 and started operation in 2011.
11) Finance Ministry gets a dedicated YouTube channel.
  • Finance Ministry now has an official YouTube Channel, which is expected to disseminate information about the official events.
  • The Channel will feature videos on the major schemes, events, meetings, press conferences and other exclusive videos relating to the Ministry. 
  • Although most of the activities are in public domain, yet to make it easier for the world outside to know about the same, this YouTube official channel of the Ministry would be a useful platform. 
  • The youtube channel is launched by Arun Jaitley.


12) International Fleet Review 2016 kick starts in Visakhapatnam.

  • The International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016, an international military exercise hosted and conducted by Indian Navy was inaugurated in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Theme of this edition on IFR is “United through Oceans” and its objective is to enhance mutual trust and confidence with neighbouring navies by inviting their ships to participate in the event.
  • Total 11,000 guests are expected to attend the mega naval exercise including members of foreign delegations. It is perceived to be the biggest exercise conducted in India so far.
  • Naval ships from 50 countries and various dignitaries will also participate in the event and close to 4000 sailors have participated in the fleet review.
  • The 4 day review aims at assuring the country of the Indian Navy’s preparedness, high morale and discipline.
  • For the first time Chinese navy called as People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) is also participating in the event.
Back Ground:
  1. The last IFR conducted by the Indian Navy in 2001 in Mumbai, Maharashtra in which navies of 29 countries from across the globe had participated. 
13) India becomes Associate Member of European Molecular Biology Organisation.
  • India officially became the Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).
  • In this regard, Union Ministry of Science and Technology has signed an agreement to acquire the status of Associate Member of EMBO.
  • India is second country outside the European region to be an Associate Member State of EMBO. First one being Singapore which had signed such agreement with European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) in 2015.
About Membership:
  1. This move will strengthen interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in the field of molecular biology.
  2. Indian Researchers will now be eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities taking place across the world.
About European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO):
  • EMBO is a professional organization of life scientists in Europe. Presently, it has more than 1700 leading researchers.
  • Headquarters: Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Functions: It promotes research in life science and enables international exchange of scientific information between scientists.
14) India ratifies Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
  • India has ratified Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), 1997 which sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability.
  • In this regard, India has submitted the Instrument of Ratification of the CSC to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and shall come into force after 90 days May 2016.
  • Facilitate and boost India’s nuclear commerce with international partners.
  • Contribute to strengthen an international convention and global nuclear liability regime.
About Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC):
  1. It was adopted on 12 September 1997. It can enter into force after ratification by at least 5 countries having minimum of 400,000 units of installed nuclear capacity.
  2. It has been framed in consistent with the principles of Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (1963) and the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy (1960).
  3. It provides a uniform framework for channelling liability and providing speedy compensation after the nuclear accident.
  4. All states are free to participate in it regardless of their presence of nuclear installations on their territories or involvement in existing nuclear liability conventions.
15) Centre to contribute Rs. 1 Lakh Crore for Karnataka Road.
  • Central government will spend Rs. 1 lakh crore for development of road infrastructure in Karnataka. In addition to this, Rs. 200 crore will be spent on developing four light houses in the state in PPP mode.
  • This was disclosed by Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari in Bengaluru. 
  • Road projects worth 60 thousand crore rupees will be started in Karnataka before December this year and projects worth another 40 thousand crore will be taken up next year.