Today Current Affairs 14th February 2017

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Indian cricket icon and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar is now set to adopt Donja in Osmanabad (Maharashtra) under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna.  Tendulkar has sanctioned over Rs 4 crore from his MPLAD fund for development of Donja. The amount will be spent on development of a new school building, a water Supply scheme that would provide potable water to each household, concrete roads and a sewage line attached to the same . Five special village level meetings have been held since the village was adopted by Tendulkar, under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana with participation of women from the village.  The initial planning has already been completed and the issuing of tenders for the various works is expected to commence after the Zilla Parishad elections in the region.  Tendulkar had announced Donja as his second adopted village late last year after successfully completing the first phase of development in Puttamraju Kandriga in Nellore . Five special village level meetings have been held at Donja where women have also made suggestions to the district officials to plan the roadmap for the transformation.  Tendulkar has emphasised on addressing the issue of potable water since the entire region of Osmanabad has been facing a drought over the last couple of years.  The school building which is over 70 years old will also be replaced with a new one.  Anand Rayate (IAS), Chief Executive Officer of Osmanabad Zilha Parishad, has led the execution of various works in Donja.   

President Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia Mr Flynn is alleged to have discussed US sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before President Donald Trump took office.

Indian tabla player Sandeep Das on 13 February 2017 won the 59th annual Grammy Award for the Best Global Music category. He won the award for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble ‘Sing Me Home’. Yo-Yo Ma’s ‘Sing Me Home’ features tunes composed by different artists at global level. The album ‘Sing Me Home’ was released as a part of the documentary on Ma’s project titled ‘The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble’. Apart from Sandeep Das and Yo-Yo Ma, there were other musicians as well who contributed to the album including the New York-based Syrian clarinet player Kinan Azmeh.  Azmeh was recently stranded overseas when US President Donald Trump imposed a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Sandeep Das : Born and brought up in India, Das started playing at the age of 16.  He learned the intricacies of the instrument from Kishan Maharaj in Banaras and made his debut with Pandit Ravi Shankar.  In 1990, he moved to Delhi and played in the Indian Classical circuit with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Dr L Subramaniam. However, he earned fame when he returned to the United States in 1990s.

Al Jarreau, Grammy-winning pop and jazz musician passed away on 12 February 2017. He was 76. The notification of his death was given by his manager Joe Gordon who said that the late artist had been hospitalised for exhaustion two weeks ago and it was on the advice of the doctors that Jarreau had cancelled his latest tour dates. Al Jarreau : He was born into a musical household in Milwaukee on 12 March 1940. His mother was a piano teacher and father, a minister and singer. He completed his masters in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa and then moved to San Francisco in late 1960s.  He did not begin a full-time musical career until he was nearly 30. His first major music gig was when he was selected by Warner Bros. Records to sing in the 13th episode of NBC's new Saturday Night Live on the occasion of Valentine’s Day in 1976. In the same year, he released his debut album ‘We Got By’ that got him international recognition. He also won the Echo award for the album (the German equivalent of the Grammy's). He won his first Grammy award- Best Jazz Vocal Performance in 1978 for his album, ‘Look to the Rainbow’. His other major hits include ‘We’re in This Love Together’, ‘Breakin' Away’ and the theme song of a popular TV show, ‘Moonlighting’. He was also one of the musicians in the all-star lineup who sang ‘We Are the World’, in 1985. The song helped raise money for famine relief in Africa.Jarreau earned the nickname ‘Acrobat of Scat’ due to his innovative vocal styling. Overall, He has released more than 20 albums and won a total of seven Grammy Awards.He remained a performer right until the end, as he retired from touring only a week before his death. Jarreau in his last public statement, which was released through his twitter profile, stated that he was thankful for his 50 years of travelling the world through music and for everyone to share this with him including his loyal audience, dedicated musicians and all others who supported him throughout his journey. He is survived by his wife, Susan and son Ryan.  

The International Aero India 2017 begins at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru on 14 February 2017. The 5-day show will conclude on 18 February 2017. Features of International Aero India 2017It is the 11th edition of the biennial International Aero India show. It is considered as Asia’s premier air show. Aero India 2017 will act as a significant platform to bolster business opportunities in International aviation sector. Compared to the previous edition in 2015, the present event is expected to witness an exponential growth due to growing defense related ecosystem in India and the region. International Aero India :  Aero India has already carved a niche for itself globally as a premier aerospace exhibition. The exhibition provides a single platform to many manufacturers and service providers from the Indian aerospace and abroad to meet the potential buyers for their products. Since its inception in 1996, ten editions were successfully organised so far. The show is jointly organised by the Union Ministry of Defence, Indian Air Force, DRDO, Department of Space and the Union Civil Aviation Ministry. In the Aero India 2015, 644 companies from 33 countries participated. In the show, 46 overseas delegations were accommodated over a gross exhibition area of 1,08,250 square metres, which was nearly 44 per cent more than the previous edition held in 2013.

The Ministry of Railways on 13 February 2017 announced that the first portion of the Indian Railways Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) between Ateli and Phulera will become operational by March 2018. This will be a 190-km double track route with a total of 380 km track length which will be under the scrutiny of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL). The Ateli-Phulera section will take over the freight load from the Indian Railways. Additionally, around 500-600 km of additional track length will be operational by financial year 2018-19. Highlights :  DFCCIL, a special purpose vehicle of the railways, owns the responsibility to develop six Dedicated Freight Corridors across the country. These DFCs will transfer a minimum of 70  per cent of the freight carried by the Indian Railways on tracks parallel to DFCs.  One rack on the DFC will be able to carry 13000 tonnes of load compared with 5000 tonnes carried by racks on the existing railway tracks. Out of these six corridors, the Eastern DFC and the Western DFC were taken up on priority basis with funding assistance from World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA sanctioned Rs 38722 crore loan while World Bank committed to provide USD 2.725 billion for the project. Eastern DFC will connect Mughalsarai to Ludhiana, while the Western DFC will run between Dadri and Jawahar Lal Nehru Port. The capital expenditure of the project is expected to reach around Rs 10000 crore in the current financial year with the total investments till date reaching to Rs 29760 crore.The cost of operations on the DFCs is expected to go up by 40 per cent. The average speed in these tracks is also expected to rise threefold to 70-75 km per hour from the current 20-25 km per hour.  

The Supreme Court of India (SC) on 14 February 2017 overruled a Karnataka High Court’s judgment in a disproportionate assets case related to Sasikala. The ruling of the SC renders Sasikala ineligible to contest Assembly elections. The judgment was delivered by a bench of the apex court comprising Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy. The SC delivered the judgment on the basis of appeals filed by Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K. Anbazhagan. The bench restored the trial court conviction of the accused in September 2014. he trial court’s verdict was overruled by the Karanatak High Court in June 2015. The high court acquitted former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three co-accused, including Sasikala, in the disproportionate assets case.  

Engineering conglomerate Larsen and Turbo (L&T) on 13 February 2017 entered into a joint venture (JV) with European defence major MBDA to develop and produce new-generation tactical missiles. The JV named as L&T MBDA Missile Systems will be registered in India. Besides being registered in India, the L&T MBDA Missile Systems will conduct business as an Indian Company and in accordance with the subject of Indian laws. Joint Venture and Highlights : Initially, the two companies will develop and supply the fifth-generation, missiles for coastal defence batteries, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM5s) and high-speed target drones for the Indian forces.  It will focus on business opportunities in the Missiles and Missile System domain. The JV’s target prospects under the Buy (Indian – IDDM), Buy and Make (Indian) and Buy (Indian) categories of Defence Procurement The company will operate from a dedicated work centre that will include pyrotechnical integration and final checkout facilities. Shareholding in the Joint Venture : Keeping in mind the FDI norms in defence, L&T will own 51 per cent of the JV and the remaining 49 per cent will be held by the European company MBDA. Larsen & Toubro : Larsen & Toubro is an Indian multinational engaged in technology, construction, engineering, and manufacturing services with USD 16 billion in revenue. It also provides financial services. As of now, the company is functional in over 30 countries across the world. MBDA : MBDA is a defence major company with a significant presence in five European countries and within the USA. In 2015 MBDA achieved a turnover of 2.9 billion euros with an order book of 15.1 billion euros. With more than 90 armed forces in its customer base, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems. In addition to this, MBDA is the only European group that is capable of designing and producing missile and missile systems that match to the present and future operational needs of the three armed forces namely land, air and sea. MBDA is jointly held by AIRBUS Group (37.5 per cent), BAE SYSTEMS (37.5 per cent) and LEONARDO (25 per cent).

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning its maiden mission to Venus and its second one to the Red planet. The same is confirmed by the newly allotted budget to the department of space, which shows a 23% increase. The Budget also mentions some provisions under its space sciences section for ‘Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to Venus’. Mars Missions : The Mars mission is tentatively scheduled for 2021-22. The mission will mainly include launching an orbiter and building a Mars rover in collaboration with the French space agency, Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES). ISRO may also attempt to put a robot on the Red planet’s surface this time. Mangalyaan was ISRO’s first interplanetary mission, which made it the 4th agency to reach Mars after Soviet space program, NASA and the European space agency. The mission also made India the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit and the first one in the world to do so in the first attempt.  Mission to Venus : Though not much is known about India’s maiden mission to Venus, it is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission. As very little is known about Venus, the mission is definitely expected to be worthwhile. India might partner with NASA in this mission. Both space agencies have already initiated talks on trying to jointly undertake studies on using electrical propulsion for powering the mission. This report comes just ahead of ISRO’s mega launch of 104 satellites in one single go, the first-ever attempt of its kind.

Career diplomat Tehmina Janjua was today appointed as Pakistan's first woman foreign secretary.  Tehmina Janjua will assume the post of Foreign Secretary in the first week of March 2017 Earlier local media reports had named Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit as the front-runner for the coveted post.  She was presently serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.  She holds Master's degrees from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and Columbia University, New York.  She has rich experience of working in bilateral and multilateral domains both at Headquarters and Missions abroad She also served as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 2011.  Janjua served as Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy from December 2011 to October 2015.  At present she is serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva since October 2015.

India won the one-match Test series against Bangladesh 1-0. In the match played at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, India defeated Bangladesh by 208 runs. Chasing a target of 459, the visitors were bundled out for 250, just before a tea break on the final day of the match. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continued their magic with the ball as they bagged 4 wickets apiece in the second innings. Pacer Ishant Sharma took two. Earlier, Bangladesh had resumed their second innings at the overnight score of 103 for 3. Earlier on 12 February 2017, India had declared their second innings at 159 for 4, after bundling out Bangladesh for 388. In the first innings, the hosts had posted a mammoth 687 for 6 declared after opting to bat. The win is India's sixth successive series victory. With this victory in Test, Virat Kohli became the first Test batsman to hit double hundreds in four consecutive series. He also scored the most Test runs of 1206 in a home season. The sixth successive test victory helped Kohli to become the first Indian captain to win six successive Test series. In addition to this, Kohli’s tally of 19 Tests without a defeat as a captain also stands as a record for India. The previous record was held by Sunil Gavaskar. He had a record of winning 18 Tests between January 1976 and January 1980. Besides, Ashwin became the fastest bowler ever to take 250 Test wickets.  

The England and Wales Cricket Board named Joe Root as England’s Test captain on February 13, 2017 who will take over Alastair Cook.  Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes has been named as the vice-captain. Alastair Cook resigned on February 6, 2017 after captaining England for four and a half years in 59 Tests.  The 26-year-old Yorkshire batsman, Root, has scored 4,594 Test runs since he made his debut in 2012 and has been vice-captain since May 2015. Root will become England’s 80th Test skipper with his first game to be held against South Africa at Lord’s on July 6.

Nepal has recorded a new species of bird from upper Dolpa, the largest district of the mid-western development region. Discovery of a single individual of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush ( Monticola saxitilis ) was made public at a press recently, Xinhua news agency reported. Rock thrushes are medium-sized songbirds, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous and fall under the genus of chats. The bird was seen and photographed in May near the Shey monastery within the Shey-Phoksundo National Park of Dolpa. The Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush is considered an autumn passage migrant in Pakistan and India.

The world’s longest elevated cycle path has been opened in Xiamen, China which can handle about 2,023 cyclists with a speed limit of 15 miles per hour. The path is five miles long and 16 feet wide having 11 entrances and connects to 11 bus stops and two underground rail stations. Besides the private cyclists, the path also has facility of over 300 for-hire bikes available for sharing. In addition to the bike-share stations, the path also has plenty of space for bike parking, and some bike-centric service pavilions. Initially for a month trail, the path will be open to all kinds of bikes, including public and private bikes, from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm in a bid to promote green transport. The cycleway has been designed by Dissing + Weitling a Danish architectural firm, whoalso created the award-winning Cykelslangen or Cycle Snake which is an elevated orange bike lane in Copenhagen.

The Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya launched the National Career Service (NCS) for youths and Jeevan Praman facility to EPFO pensioners through Post Offices at DakSadan in Hyderabad on February 12, 2017. The Post Offices will serve as an Employment Registration Centres for Unemployed rural youth on behalf of the “National Career Service” Portal where youths can register themselves for employment in 1,55,000 post offices established across the country for over 3000 occupations offered under 52 sectors in NCS  It would build a bridge between the net connected urban areas and non connected rural areas and help the youth to avail facility to register for employment at their doorstep hassle-free and have access to a rich repository of career content. The centre aims to provide employment to five crore people over next five years. Besides, the EPFO pensioners can also submit their Digital Life Certificate (Jeevan Praman) through the Head Post Offices. This will also benefit the EPFO pensioners to avail the facility at their doorstep.

The Gujarat Narmada ValleyBSE 0.85 % Fertilizers and Chemicals (GNFC) township in Bharuch has become country's first ever "cashless township", as over 10,000 residents have embraced various digital mode of payments instead of cash.  Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today inaugurated the "cashless" GNFC township and expressed confidence that other townships in the country will follow the suit  GNFC township has become country's first cashless township. I congratulate all the residents of this township for taking this revolutionary step, which will surely encourage around 180 other such townships in the country to follow the suit and turn cashless . He further said around 10,000 residents of this township have become a role model for the entire nation by embracing digital mode of payments instead of doing transactions using cash inside the township.  On the occasion, Union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya congratulated the residents and urged others to embrace the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on digitalisation   

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has planned to develop large deposits of uranium found in Meghalaya to tap its potential to generate substantial nuclear fuel for atomic power plants in the country . It was announced by Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which looks after DAE, in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha. Uranium mineralization has been found over a large area around Domiasiat, Lostoin, Wahkyn etc in the northeastern state of DAE’s Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) already has made a plan to develop the uranium resources at Domiasiat under the name of Kylleng Phendengsohiong Mawthabah (KPM) Uranium Mining Project.  Earlier, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) also had approved the Detailed Project Report of the KPM Uranium Mining Project. It also had received environmental clearance from Environment Ministry in December 2007. Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL)  : UCIL is a centrally owned Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), under the Department of Atomic Energy for uranium mining and uranium processing. It was founded in 1967 and is responsible for the mining and milling of uranium ore in India.  At present, the UCIL has uranium mining projects are in Jadugora, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih and Banduhurang[  in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh respectively.

Anil Ambani group led Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited (RDEL) has signed a Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) with the US Navy to provide repair and alteration services for ships of the Seventh Fleet.  With this, RDEL became first Indian company (either public or private) to provide logistical support to the US military within Indian territory. Under this agreement, RDEL will maintain the vessels of US Seventh Fleet involving 100 vessels operating in the Indian Ocean. The signing of a MSRA agreement is a follow-up to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) signed between India and US in August 2016. These vessels will be serviced and repaired from the RDEL owned private shipyard in Pipavav in Gujarat.  This deal is likely to generate Rs. 10,000 crore in revenues for RDEL in the next five years. The Pipavav shipyard was qualified and approved by US government to perform complex repair and alteration services for the US Navy after a detailed site survey conducted in October 2016. The US Seventh Fleet looks after the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. Currently, these vessels visit Singapore or Japan for such works. RDIL is the first private sector company in India to obtain the licence and contract to build Naval Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for Indian Navy. Its Pipavav shipyard is only modular shipbuilding facility in India having capacity to build fully fabricated and outfitted blocks.  It is a tweaked India-specific version of the logistics support agreement (LSA), which US has close military to military co-operation with several countries.  LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment. It should be noted that it does not create any obligations on either Party to carry out any joint activity. It does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements.

The 70th British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards ceremony was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This year the BAFTA awards were conferred for the outstanding performances in films and documentaries screened at British Cinemas in 2016. La La Land won the most awards at the event, winning five and  was also most nominated in 11 categories. Best Film: La La Land  Best Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)  Best Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)  Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)  Best Supporting Actor: Dev Patel (Lion)  Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)  Best Original Music: La La Land  Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea  Best Adapted Screenplay: Lion  Best Cinematography: La La Land  Best Editing: Hacksaw Ridge  Best British Short Film: Home  Best British Film: I, Daniel Blake  Best Film Not in the English Language: Son of Saul  Best Documentary: 13th  Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings  Best Costume Design: Jackie  Best Make Up & Hair: Florence Foster Jenkins  Best Sound: Arrival  Best Special Visual Effects: The Jungle Book  Best British Short Animation: A Love Story EE Rising Star Award: Tom Holland BAFTA Fellowship: Mel Brooks Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Curzon Cinemas  Best Production Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  Best Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Babak Anvari (Writer/Director), Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill, Lucan Toh (Producers) for Under the Shadow British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards :  The British Academy Film Awards are annual award presented by British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) to honour the best British and international contributions to film . The award was founded in 1947 by the British Film Academy. In 1958, the academy merged with The Guild of Television Producers and Directors to form The Society of Film and Television and later BAFTA in 1976. The award presented consists of a theatrical mask designed by American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards were announced by the Recording Academy announced at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The ceremony recognized the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. In this edition of awards, British singer Adele won the most awards in 5 different categories. She also created history by becoming first artist to win the top three categories twice (for first time in 2012). Album of the year: 25 – Adele  Record of the year: Hello – Adele  Song of the year: Hello – Adele  Best rap album: Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book  Best urban contemporary album: Beyonce – Lemonade  Best country solo performance: My Church – Maren Morris Best rock song: Blackstar – David Bowie  Best pop duo/group performance: Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots  Best new artist: Chance the Rapper  Best pop vocal album: Adele – 25  Best pop solo performance: Hello – Adele  Best R&B performance: Solange – Cranes In the Sky.  Best R&B song: Maxwell – Lake By the Ocean  Best rap performance: Chance The Rapper featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz – No Problem.  Best rap/sung performance: Drake – Hotline Bling.  Best R&B album: Lalah Hathaway – Lalah Hathaway Live  Best rap song: Drake – Hotline Bling  Best metal performance: Megadeth – Dystopia  Best rock performance: David Bowie – Blackstar  Best dance recording: The Chainsmokers – Don’t Let Me Down Note: This year Indian-American tabla player Sandeep Das won Grammy Awards won  Best World Music Album with Yo-Yo Ma. Grammy Awards :  Grammy Awards are the recording industry’s most prestigious award presented annually by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States. The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on 4 May 1959 and originally was called Gramophone Awards. They are awarded to artists and technical professionals for their outstanding achievements in the English-language music industry at the annual presentation ceremony. The four main categories of award are Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.