Current Affairs February 2017 - National


News 1 - IIDM Kurnool to be declared as the Institute of National Importance

IIDM Kurnool

The Union Cabinet gave approval for introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The amendment Bill provides for inclusion of Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM), Kurnool. Subsequently, IITDM Kurnool will be declared as an institute of National Importance with the power to award degrees to students.

The emerging needs of the industry and the economy for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the Institute.

News 2 - Cabinet approved the extension of tenure of loans under CLSS


The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave ex-post facto approval for extension of tenure of loans under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme from 15 to 20 years and introduction of a new Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme for MIG. It has also been approved for allocation of Rs. 1000 crore in the budget for 2017-18 for CLSS.

The operational guidelines for CLSS for MIG will be issued with approval of the Minister-in-charge.

News 3 - Union Budget 2017-18 provided renewed impetus to manufacturing and Make in India

Union Budget

Union Budget 2017-18 provided renewed impetus to manufacturing and Make in India, export infrastructure and Government emarketplace. Several measures have been announced such as a proposal of special scheme for creating employment in leather and footwear industries, long standing demand of start-ups have been accepted and income tax for companies with annual turnover up to Rs. 50 crore is reduced to 25%.

A new and restructured Central scheme with a focus on export infrastructure, namely, Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) will be launched in 2017-18.

News 4 - “SWAYAM” Platform will be launched to leverage Information Technology


The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley while presenting the General Budget 2017-18 in Parliament announced that the Government proposes to leverage information technology and launch SWAYAM Platform with at least 350 online courses.

In his Budget Speech, the Finance Minister said this will enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty; access high quality reading resources, participate in discussion forums; take tests and earn academic grades.

News 5 - 100 India International Skills Centers to be set up under “SANKALP”


The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley while presenting the General Budget 2017-18 announced that that the Government proposes to extend the number of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra’s from current 60 to cover more than 600 districts across the country. These centres would offer advanced training and also courses in foreign languages.

A programme SANKALP (Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion Programme) will also be launched at a cost of Rs. 4,000 crores. SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth.

News 6 - Government announced a slew of pro-farmer measures in General Budget 2017-18

Arun Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley announced that adequate credit would be made available to the farmers in time and the target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of Rs. 10 lakh crores.

Under the pro-farmer measures, a Long-Term Irrigation Fund has already been set-up in NABARD and the Prime Minister has announced an addition of Rs. 20,000 crores to its corpus which will take the fund to Rs. 40,000 crores. The coverage of Fasal Bima Yojana will be increased to 40% in 2017-18 and 50% in 2018-19.

News 7 - Budget Allocation for Tribal Affairs Ministry goes up by more than 10%

Budget Allocation

The budget allocation for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has gone up from Rs. 4827 crores in the year 2016-17 to Rs. 5329 crores in the Union budget 2017-18. Allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes across all Ministries has also witnessed an increase of more than 30 per cent. The allocation which was Rs. 24,005 crores in the year 2016-17 has gone up to Rs. 31,920 crores.

The allocation for National fellowship and scholarship for higher education of ST students has been raised by 140 percent.

News 8 - Budget Allocation for Water Resources Ministry increased by more than 11%

Water Resources

The allocation for the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been raised by more than 11 percent. The allocation for the Ministry in the year 2016-17 was Rs. 6201 crore which has been increased to Rs. 6887 crore.

The allocation for Namami Gange programme has also been increased from Rs. 2150 crore to Rs. 2250 crore. The corpus of Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) instituted in NABARD as part of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) has been doubled from Rs. 20000 crores to 40000 crores.

News 9 - New Benefits announced for NPS Subscribers in Union Budget 2017-18


In a bid to provide further impetus to the National Pension System (NPS), certain provisions have been introduced in the Finance Bill 2017 laid down in the Parliament such as to provide exemption on partial withdrawal not exceeding 25% of the contribution made by an employee and contribution up to 20% of the Gross Income of the Self-employed individual.

This benefit will be available on contribution made by the self-employed persons on or after 1st April 2017. This increased limit for tax benefit will help the self-employed individuals, to save taxes on higher contribution in NPS.

News 10 - India inked financing agreement with World Bank for US$ 201.50 Million

World Bank

A Financing Agreement for IDA credit of US$201.50 million (equivalent) for the “Third Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP III)” was signed between India and the World Bank.

The objective of the Program is to enhance quality and equity in participating Engineering Education Institutes and improve the efficiency of the Engineering Education System in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, 8 North Eastern States and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The World Bank loan will be disbursed on achievement of specific outcomes.

News 11 - India and Italy inked an MOU for Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

India and Italy

Ministry of Railways and Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group (FS Group) a Government Company of Italy managing the Italian railway sectors signed an MoU for technical cooperation in rail sector especially in the areas safety in train operations.

The cooperation areas identified in this MoU includes safety audit of Indian Railways and measures required for enhancing safety in train operation, assessment and certification of advanced technology based safety products and systems to Safety Integrity Level (SIL4), Training and competency development etc.

News 12 - 1500 crores defence project to be established in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh

Indian defence Ministry has planned to set up defence unit in Madhya Pradesh at Morena district’s Kailaras and Sabalgarh tehsil areas. Project costs Rs 1500 crore where Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has already allotted 334.584-hectare revenue land for the purpose to set up defence unit.

Out of proposed land, 34.745 hectare is private land and 600.406 hectare is forest land. Forest land is sent for proposal for the diversion of forest land to the Union Environment Ministry.

News 13 - Rs.4658 lakhs sanctioned for setting up of One Stop centers

One Stop Centers

The Ministry is implementing the scheme for setting up One Stop Centre since 1st April 2015 to support women-affected by violence. The scheme aims to facilitate access to an integrated range of services including medical aid, police assistance, legal aid/case management, psycho-social counselling, and temporary support services to women affected by violence.

Around 150 additional Centres are taken up in second phase during 2016-17. Funds of Rs. 1102.49 lakhs and Rs. 3555.87 lakhs have been sanctioned to States/UTs during 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively for the setting up One Stop Centres.

News 14 - India and Austria Sign a Protocol amending the India-Austria DTAC

India and Austria

India and Austria signed a Protocol amending the existing Convention between the two countries for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income here today.

The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.

News 15 - Around 1.05 Crore LPG consumers have voluntarily Given Up their LPG subsidy

LPG subsidy

As per the Petroleum Ministry, implementation of PAHAL has resulted in identification of 3.34 crore and 3.56 crore ghost/fake/duplicate accounts during Financial Year 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. The total subsidy/under recovery on domestic LPG during the financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16 was Rs. 40569 crores and Rs 16074 crores, respectively.

Government has also issued a circular stating that the benefit of the LPG subsidy will not be admissible for the LPG consumers, if the consumer or his wife/her spouse had taxable income of Rs. 10 lakhs and above.

News 16 - Around 11,931 Villages Electrified Under DDUGJY


Out of 18,452 un-electrified villages, 11,931 villages have been electrified as on 30.01.2017 under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and remaining villages are targeted to be electrified by May, 2018.

As on 15th January, 5,775 projects have been sanctioned under DDUGJY for various rural electrification works, including electrification of un-electrified villages. Around 4.27 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) households have also been sanctioned under the scheme. The project cost of DDUGJY is Rs.75,893 crore.

News 17 - CBDT issues Certificates of appreciation to nearly 3.74 lakh tax payers


In continuation of the initiative of the Government to acknowledge the contribution of tax payers by paying taxes towards nation building and promptness in filing of Income Tax Returns, CBDT has issued the third round of Certificates to nearly 3.74 Lakh tax payers. With this, the total number of certificates issued by CBDT now stands at approximately 23 Lakh.

The CBDT urged taxpayers to e-file their returns in time and verify their return by submitting the Electronic Verification Code online or sending their ITR-V within the 120-day period, so that they can be also acknowledged for their contribution.

News 18 - Parliament passed Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017

Wages Bill

The Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha passed the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

The Bill amends the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. The Bill replaces the Payment of Wages Ordinance, 2016 which was promulgated on December 28, 2016. The Bill amends the 1936 Act to permit the employer to pay an employee’s wages in −

  • Coin or currency notes
  • By cheque
  • By crediting them into their bank account.

News 19 - India-UK Deal to Allow More Flights to Boost Tourism

Boost Tourism

India and the UK signed a MoU to ease restrictions on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries. Building new links with important trading partners is a key part of the government’s plans for a Global Britain, opening up new export markets and creating jobs and economic growth. The agreement also opened all destinations in the UK for Indian carriers for code share flights through domestic code share arrangements.

The agreement signed will allow airlines to develop new services and air routes.

News 20 - Aadhar made mandatory for beneficiaries under NFSA


The Ministry Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution issued a Notification under Aadhaar Act on 8-2-2017 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].

The State/UT Govt shall also advise beneficiaries to get themselves enrolled at the nearest enrolment centres available in their areas by 30th June, 2017 and a list of locally available enrolment centres shall be made available to them.

News 21 - 1000 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras inaugurated by Union Ministry

Janaushadhi Kendras

Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers Shri Ananthkumar inaugurated launching of 1000 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras 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.

Representatives from 24 States and 106 districts from across the country attended the programme to further help spread the scheme in their respective zones and bring momentum in opening of PMBJKs. Currently there are 777 PMBJKs and the target is to achieve 3000 kendras by March 2017.

News 22 - Mission XI Million sports outreach program launched in Delhi

Mission XI Million

With vision of making football the sport of choice in India, Mission XI Million, the biggest school sport outreach programme was launched by the Sports Ministry in New Delhi. A first of its kind, the programme will encourage children to play the beautiful game of football, gain healthy habits and learn important life lessons in teamwork and sportsman spirit.

Vying to reach out to over 37 cities and 12,000 schools across all 29 states of India, the initiative will focus on games that can be adapted to different field sizes.

News 23 - ‘India Pharma 2017’ & ‘India Medical Device 2017’ International Conference inaugurated

India Pharma and India Medical Device

Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananth Kumar inaugurated the 2nd edition of India Pharma & India Medical Device International Conference in Bengaluru. This three-day event, with the Vision - ‘For Responsible Healthcare’, was organized from 11th - 13th February, 2017.

The Minister said that the highlights of the 2nd edition of the conference would be the International Drug Regulators Meet and the interface between the regulators and the industry. This is the second time Karnataka is hosting this conference, to emerge as the desired destination for investments under pharma & medical devices sector.

News 24 - The 2nd Edition of “Hunar Haat” inaugurated

Hunar Haat

The Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs inaugurated the second edition of “Hunar Haat”, to encourage, promote and provide national and international market to master artisans/craftsmen belonging to the Minority communities from across the country. With the theme “Craft Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam”, the second “Hunar Haat” was organized from 11th to 26th February, 2017 at New Delhi.

A total of 100 artisans and 30 culinary experts from about 24 states and Union Territories participated at about 130 stalls in the second “Hunar Haat”, which also had “Bawarchikhana” where various cuisine from different parts of the country showcased.

News 25 - Cabinet approved 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan


The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan' (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate. The outlay for this project is Rs. 2,351.38 crores to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March, 2019.

Under this scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; another 275 lakhs in the FY 2017-18; and around 300 lakhs more in the FY 2018-19. Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers, send and receive emails, browse internet, etc.

News 26 - Government to open 56 Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) facilities


The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Posts (DOP) announced to utilize the Head Post Offices (HPO) in the various States as Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) for delivering passport related services to the citizens of our country. The objective of this partnership is to extend passport services on a larger scale and to ensure wider area coverage.

The Government has decided to open 56 such facilities across the country.

News 27 - Observer Research Foundation organized a seminar on Indo-Pacific Region

Observer Research Foundation

The Minister of State for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju addressed the seminar on ‘Indo-Pacific Region: Converging India-Japan interests’, organised by Observer Research Foundation.

India and Japan signed a Declaration on security cooperation and took several steps to strengthen the cooperation in defence production and civil nuclear energy. He also highlighted Japan’s participation in the Malabar joint exercises for maritime security. ORF began its journey in 1990 and brought together leading Indian economists and policymakers to present the agenda for India’s economic reforms.

News 28 - I-T department issues refund of Rs. 1.42 lakh crores

Income Tax

The income tax department issued refunds of 1.42 lakh crore rupees which is 41.5% higher than 2015-16. The centralised processing centre of the tax department has already processed over 4.19 crore income tax returns and issued over 1.62 crore refunds. Of which 92% of the refunds issued are below 50 thousand rupees, due to the high priority given to expeditious issue of refunds to small taxpayers.

Around 92% of all I-T returns were processed within 60 days. CBDT has advised taxpayers to verify and update their e-mail address and mobile number on the e-filing portal.

News 29 - Government gave nod to the Electronics Development Fund

Electronics Development Fund

A fund of Rs. 6,800 crores as a corpus fund under the electronic development fund was approved by the Government of India, under which Rs. 681 crores were approved as seed capital for building a total corpus of Rs. 6,800 crores. This fund will be utilized to support entrepreneurship and innovation in electronics and IT such as creation of intellectual property rights in the field of electronics and IT.

Indian electronics production has increased by 65% from Rs. 2,172 crores in 2014-15 to Rs. 3,590 crores in 2015-16.

News 30 - MEA & Gateway House Co-Hosts the 2nd Gateway of India Geo-Economic Dialogue

India Geo-Economic Dialogue

The Ministry of External Affairs co-hosted the Second Gateway of India Geo-Economic Dialogue with Gateway House on 13-14 February 2017 in Mumbai. This is India’s premier geo-economics conference on the theme "Where Geopolitics meets Business" focussed on building synergies between business and foreign policy.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and former Prime Minister of Belgium Yves Leterme figured among the list of participants.

News 31 - International Conference on NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries-NxGnMiFu-2017 inaugurated


The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Science Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the International Conference on "NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries" [NxGnMiFu-2017] in New Delhi.

The conference focussed 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.

News 32 - India and Croatia inked an agreement to boost bilateral trade

India and Croatia

India and Croatia have signed an agreement to boost bilateral trade and enhance economic cooperation. The agreement was signed between Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Martina Dalic.

India’s bilateral trade with Croatia during 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 stood at $148.86 million, $205.04 million and $148.44 million respectively. India and Croatia had earlier signed an Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in September, 1994.

News 33 - India Joins UN Network to prevent Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths by 2030

India Joins UN Network

India along with Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda will work to improve the quality of care mothers and babies receive in their health facilities through a new Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, supported by WHO, UNICEF.

These countries have committed to halving preventable deaths of pregnant women and new-borns in their health facilities within the next 5 years. This Network aims to strengthen national efforts to end preventable deaths by 2030.

News 34 - Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II) flagged off


Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS II) was flagged off from Safdarjung Railway station in Delhi. The SECAS was open for public viewing at Delhi Cantonment Railway Station on February 18 and February 19.

The SECAS II will run from February 17 to September 8 2017, culminating its journey at Gandhinagar. During its journey, the Science Express will cover over 19,000 kms, and will be exhibited at 68 stations across 20 states of the country.

News 35 - Shri Radha Mohan Singh inaugurated Indian Seed Congress - 2017 in Kolkata

Indian Seed Congress

The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare inaugurated the Indian Seed Congress – 2017 in Kolkata. The theme of Seed Congress is “Seed of Joy”.

The Union Minister highlighted about National Farmer Policy of the Union Government. The objective of this policy is to accelerate agricultural output, develop infrastructural facilities in the villages, promote value addition, expedite the growth of agrobusiness, create employment in the rural areas, ensuring better livelihood status of the farmers and agriculture workers and their families.

News 36 - NALCO inked MoU with TERI for sustainable rehabilitation


An MoU was signed between Nalco and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for various scientific, technological and educational activities in mining rehabilitation especially bauxite mining and sustainable development.

The activities under the MoU will cover mining rehabilitation methods and technologies, sustainable rehabilitation on red mud areas, capacity building, workshops & preparation knowledge documents on mining rehabilitation.

News 37 - Cabinet approved establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP)


The Union Cabinet has approved the Establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha, Sehore, Madhya Pradesh with Satellite Hubs in West Bengal (for pulses) and Rajasthan (for Natural Resource Management) by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA).

The establishment of FLRP in India will enable India to harness the best of international science in meeting the emerging food security challenges. The research output would benefit farmers of all regions.

News 38 - Cabinet approved signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Rwanda

India and Rwanda

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Rwanda.

The Agreement has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between India and Rwanda, bringing it in tune with developments in the civil aviation sector. It will provide enabling environment for enhanced and seamless connectivity while providing commercial opportunities to the carriers of both the sides ensuring greater safety and security.

News 39 - Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan inaugurated the South Asian Speakers Summit

Sumitra Mahajan

The two-day South Asian Speakers Summit was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. President of Inter-Parliamentary Union Saber Chowdhury, Speakers of National Assemblies of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lankan, and Nepal participated in the summit.

The Lok Sabha Speaker stressed on the need of cooperation between the South Asian Countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The speakers discussed achieving sustainable goals, including poverty, development, environment and gender concerns in South Asia, the home to over 25 percent of the world population.

News 40 - NRAI got highest WHO ratings for vaccine regulations


National Regulatory Authority of India (NRAI) has been given the maximum ratings by the World Health Organisation for vaccine regulations. WHO completed the assessment of the status of the Indian vaccine regulatory system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool and measured the maturity of the system in India.

The assessment has been done in respect of 9 different functionalities by a WHO team. India, as a large vaccine producing country, is currently supplying several vaccines to the UN agencies (UNICEF, WHO and PAHO).

News 41 - Supreme Court of India introduced the Middle-Income Group Scheme

Supreme Court

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has introduced the Middle-Income Group Scheme. It is a self-supporting scheme which provides legal services to the middle-income group citizens i.e. citizens whose gross income is not exceeding Rs. 60,000 per month or Rs. 7,50,000 per annum.

It will make easier for the middle and relatively lower income group to avail and enjoy the legal services of the country. A sum of Rs. 500/- shall be payable to the Supreme Court Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society (SCMIGLAS) as service charges.

News 42 - Union Government launches the TAMRA Portal and Mobile App


The Union Government launched the Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation (TAMRA) Portal and Mobile Application, developed by the Ministry of Mines. It was simultaneously launched across 12 mineral rich States.

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. It would help enhance transparency and accountability in Mining.

News 43 - ICAI’s Accounting Research Foundation signed agreement with Railways


The Accounting Research Foundation (ARF) of the ICAI has signed an agreement with the Indian Railways for moving its accounting system to the accrual format as an additional set of accounts to existing cash-based government accounts. The foundation is the research arm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

The agreement will be valid for 18 months. Accrual based financial statement will support Indian Railways in better utilisation of available resources, estimation of future liabilities and prioritisation of spending.

News 44 - Apollo Hospitals Foundation inked agreement with WWF-India

Apollo Hospitals Foundation

Apollo Hospitals Foundation and WWF-India have entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU). As a part of the MoU, Apollo Hospitals Foundation will provide medical support to forest department employees and local communities in the areas where WWF-India operates for conservation.

The Medicare will be available to over 27,000 staff and people in about 17 states of WWFIndia operations. They will be provided with medical treatment, including air ambulance services in critical and emergency conditions.

News 45 - India & Rwanda signed MoUs in innovation, aviation and visa requirements

India and Rwanda signed MoUs

India and Rwanda have inked agreements in the fields of innovation, aviation and visa requirements. The agreements were signed in the presence of Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi during a business forum meet.

The three important agreements have signed by India and Rwanda are bilateral air service agreement between two countries, an establishment of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Rwanda duly financed by Government of India and an agreement for exemption of visa requirements for diplomatic and service passports.

News 46 - MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans belonging to Scheduled Castes

Handicraft Artisans

An MoU was signed between Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC), a Central PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with the objective of working together to improve the earnings of artisans across the country, belonging to Scheduled Castes categories.

The MoU aims at: Assessing and gap identification through popularising various schemes by holding awareness camps. Enhanced participation of Scheduled Caste artisans and their producer groups in domestic and international marketing events. Working capital credit for Scheduled Caste artisans at concessional rates.

News 47 - India's first heliport built in New Delhi

Heliport Built

India’s first heliport will become functional by Feb 28. The heliport is built by state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) at a cost of Rs. 100 Crores and set up at Rohini area of North Delhi.

The heliport has a capacity of 150 passengers, four hangars with parking space of 16 helicopters and nine parking bays. It also has a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility. The heliport will also promote regional air connectivity through helicopters in the northern region.

News 48 - GCGSC to go for a JV with GAIL to supply natural gas through pipelines


The Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation Limited (GCGSC) has decided to go for a joint venture with Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to supply natural gas through pipelines in households and small industries in cities and towns.

GCGSC will be having 26 percent equity with it and the rest 74 percent will be with GAIL. The initial cost of the project is 3,000 crore rupees.

News 49 - Cabinet approved signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Greece

India and Greece

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Greece.

The key essential features of the ASA are – Both countries shall be entitled to designate one or more airline. The designated airlines of either country shall have the right to establish offices in the territory of the other country for the promotion end sale of air services. The Indian carriers can operate to Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion and any 3 points to be specified later in Greece from points in India, whereas the carriers of Hellenic Republic can establish direct operation to 6 metros - New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.

News 50 - Cabinet approved MoU between India and Australia for promotion and development of cooperation in civil aviation security

India and Australia

The Union Cabinet approved for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Australia for promotion and development of cooperation in civil aviation security.

The MoU will provide an opportunity to Indian aviation security authorities to share the expertise of their Australian counterparts and enhance the overall aviation security environment in India. The MoU will provide compliance of international obligation as well as enhance promotion in the area of security cooperation between the two countries.

News 51 - Cabinet approved agreement between India and Poland on cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors

India and Poland

The Union Cabinet approved for signing of an Agreement between India and Poland on cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors.

The agreement covers various activities in the field of agriculture and allied sector including exchange of information on the current situation in agriculture, the phytosanitary conditions of crops, threats posed by animal infectious diseases. It also covers the participation in fairs, exhibitions, seminars and conferences related to agriculture and agri-food processing; constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising of representatives from both countries.

News 52 - Cabinet approved the investment proposal for generation component of Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project in Nepal

Hydro Electric Project

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved an investment proposal for generation component of Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project (900 MW) in Nepal by public sector undertaking Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited for an estimated cost of Rs. 5723.72 crore at May 2015 Price Level.

The Completion period of the project shall be 60 months from the date of financial closure which is planned for September this year. SJVN limited bagged the project through International Competitive Bidding.

News 53 - Cabinet approved Rs. 8,100 crores to double solar parks capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW

Solar Parks

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects. The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country.

The parks will be set up by 2019-20 with a budget of Rs.8100 crore. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year.

News 54 - Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology launched Cyber Swachhta Kendra

Cyber Swachhta Kendra

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra–Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre for analysis of malware and botnets that affect networks and systems.

The centre is operated by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERTIn). Some of the tools released for citizens are: USB Pratirodh – A desktop security solution, which protects from USB mass storage device threats. AppSamvid – A desktop solution which protects systems by allowing installation of genuine applications through white listing. This helps in preventing threats from malicious applications. M-Kavach – An indigenously developed solution to address the security threats in mobiles.

News 55 - Railway Ministry unveiled Antyodaya Express for common man

Suresh Prabhu

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu unveiled Antyodaya Express a new fully unreserved train for the common man with specially designed colourful first class coaches, cushioned seats, LED lights, facilities like water purifiers, mobile phone charging points and fire extinguishers. Antyodaya is part of four new passenger services launched in Rail budget, one of which is already launched called as ‘Humsafar’.

“Antyodaya is meant for Aam Aadmi (common man). The Antyodaya Express will be launched between Mumbai and Tatanagar, and between Ernakulam and Howrah.

News 56 - India signed MoC with Japan on Rail Safety

India and Japan

India signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Japan on enhancing railway safety in the Indian Railways with focus on railway track and rolling stock safety.

The areas of cooperation include rail inspection, rail wielding and providing automatic railway track safety inspection, maintenance of rolling stock and “any other relevant railway safety matters jointly determined by both sides” with the aim to prevent major rail accidents.

News 57 - India inked a $375 million loan agreement with ADB


To build the Visakhapatnam — Chennai Industrial Corridor, India and ADB signed a USD 375 million pact for loans and grants for the first phase of the 2,500 kms East Coast Economic Corridor. Prior to this, in September 2016, ADB had approved USD 631 million in loans and grants for the industrial corridor.

ADB had approved USD 500 million multitranche facility to build key infrastructure in the four main centres i.e. Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Amaravati, and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh. Tranche-1 loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years.

News 58 - India and Bangladesh signed an MoU for the upliftment of Sylhet city

India and Bangladesh

To develop the Sylhet city of Bangladesh, Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Additional Secretary of the Economic Relations Division Shah Md. Aminul Haque and Sylhet City Corporation CEO Enamul Habib signed the tripartite agreement where, India will provide financial aid.

The MoU has been signed for 3 projects i.e. construction of Kindergarten & High School Building, a six-storeyed Cleaner Colony Building and Development of Dhupa Dighipar area. The signing was the follow-up of an earlier MoU which was signed by the two governments in April 2013.

News 59 - World Integrated Medicine Forum inaugurated by AYUSH Minister


The Ayush Ministry inaugurated World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicinal Products: National and Global strategies in New Delhi. This is the first-of-its-kind forum considering the increased perception of the international world towards India as a key player in the progress of the homoeopathy drug industry.

This event is organised by Ministry of AYUSH where manufacturers and pharmacopeia experts from 25 countries participated in the two days’ forum to strategize the actionable aspects in the homoeopathic drug industry.

News 60 - Centre frames infrastructure policy to check challenges of urbanisation


Centre has formulated an infrastructure policy to promote living close to mass public transport corridors like metro, monorail and bus rapid transit. The move is aimed at addressing the challenges of urbanisation.

The National Transit Oriented Development Policy seeks to promote Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), a type of infrastructure development which enables people to live within walking or cycling distance from transit corridors. The TOD is considered a viable solution to urban challenges including haphazard growth, mobility problems, congestion on roads and pollution.

News 61 - India, ADB ink a $375 million assistance for the East Coast Economic Corridor

Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed $375 million in loans and grants to develop the 800-kilometer Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor, which is the first phase of a planned 2,500kilometer long East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC).

Earlier in September 2016, ADB had approved $631 million in loans and grants for the industrial corridor. The assistance includes a $500 million multi-tranche facility to build key infrastructure in the four main centres along the corridor — Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Amaravati, and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

News 62 - ICFRE gave approval for release of 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species


Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, ICFRE, Dehradun, an autonomous body under the Environment Ministry has given its approval for the release of 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species developed by three forest research institutes.

The three institutes under ICFRE that developed the varieties are Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding in Coimbatore and Tropical Forest Research Institute in Jabalpur.