Today Current Affairs 15th February 2017

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The Indian Airforce (IAG) has formally inducted the first indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) dubbed as NETRA. The AEW&C NETRA has been indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It was unveiled at the 2017 Aero India exhibition held in Bengaluru, Karnataka. AEW&C are airborne radar systems mounted on a carrier jet for airborne surveillance system i.e. to detect and track aircraft, missiles, ships and vehicles and provide command and control to direct friendly forces.  It consists of active electronically scanned radar, secondary surveillance radar, electronic and communication counter measures, LOS (Line of Sight) and beyond-LOS data link, voice communication system AEW&C NETRA system is based on Embraer aircraft (Emb-145 platform).  It has self-protection suite and also mid-air refueling capability to enhance surveillance time. This system gives 240-degree coverage of airspace.  DRDO has developed three NETRA systems and its three aircraft will be based at Bhatinda, facing the Western border. With this India, joins group of other countries such as United States, Russia and Israel which have developed the AEW&C system.

The ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd on 14 February 2017 announced that it sold a 10 per cent stake in the company to Japanese firm JERA for USD 200 million. While the ReNew Power Ventures is India’s leading renewable energy producer, JERA is a Japanese company. Following the company’s founding six years ago, this latest investment round now values ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd at USD 2 billion. ReNew Power Ventures : ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd is an independent power producer (IPP) company. It was founded in 2011 by Sumant Sinha. ReNew Power’s mission is to play a pivotal role in meeting India’s growing energy needs in an efficient, sustainable and socially responsible manner. The company creates value through reliable and efficient generation of non-conventional power through innovation in solar and wind power solutions. The company has over 3,000 MW of commissioned and under construction clean energy capacity across the States/UTs’ of Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Prior to this present deal with JERA, existing world-class investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Asian Development Bank and Global Environmental Fund and Goldman Sachs invested in the company.

India along with six other nations participated in a meet held in Moscow on 15 February 2017. The conference was conducted to discuss Afghanistan’s future. In a similar conference held two months earlier, Russia had invited only China and Pakistan, a move that was objected by both India and Afghanistan. India especially objected its exclusion from the previous conference on Afghanistan, as it has always believed in a close and constructive cooperation for peace and stability in the region. Following it, Moscow agreed to expand its circle and hold a six-nation conference including Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran. The one-day conclave was led by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov. While Gopal Baglay represented India at the meet, Pakistan was represented by Mansoor Ali Khan. India has always shared a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship with Russia and before that with the Soviet Union. However, over the past few months, both the nations have developed differences on the moves in Afghanistan. India was also increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s proposals to Pakistan on defence issues. Russia also did not join US, UK and France in passing a resolution to list Pakistan-based JeM leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist. The resolution was then blocked by China.  Apart from this, Russia has been seen harbouring a softer approach towards Taliban, in an effort to counter the spread of Islamic State in Afghanistan. Both Russia and China have also been in close coordination to demand delisting of senior Taliban leaders who were designated as terrorists by the UN sanctions committee.

Usain Bolt and Simone Biles, the 2016 Rio Olympic champions won top awards of ‘Sportsman of the Year’ and ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2017, held in Monaco. Bolt was conferred with the top honour for the fourth time, equalling the record set by tennis legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams and surfer Kelly Slater, who are all four-time Laureus winners. He received his award from one of the world’s greatest sprinters, Michael Johnson. Highlights : Many-times Olympic champion Michael Phelps received the award for ‘Comeback of the Year’ from Boris Becker, former world number one in Tennis. Phelps who had retired after 2012 London Olympics came back to win 5 gold medals at Rio Olympics. The Laureus award for ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ was conferred to Formula One World champion Nico Rosberg. Rosberg who was a runner-up in both 2014 and 2015, finally won the title in 2016, after which he announced his retirement from the sport. The only quadruple amputee in international wheelchair fencing, Beatrice Vio was honoured with “Sportsperson of the Year with a disability’ trophy.  In other categories, professional racing cyclist Rachel Laura Atherton won the ‘Action Sportsperson of the Year’ award, the American baseball team Chicago Cubs won the Laureus ‘Team of the Year’ award and the popular football club Leicester City was awarded ‘Spirit of Sport’ award. Further, while Waves for Change- a South African charity was recognised for their outstanding community work with the ‘Sport for Good’ award, the ‘Sport Inspiration’ award was given to Refugee Olympic Team. Also for the first time, sports fans were given a chance to voice their choice in a brand new category – ‘Best Sporting Moment of the Year’ award, which was conferred to Barcelona’s under -12 team.The ceremony was hosted by popular actor Hugh Grant.  Laureus Awards : The awards known as 'Oscar for Sports' are held annually to celebrate the most remarkable sportspersons and their achievements from the previous calendar year. The nominees for each award are selected by a nomination panel comprising some of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters who vote to create a shortlist of six nominations in five categories. The nomination shortlists for two categories – the Action Sportsperson of the Year and the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, is created by Specialist Panels. The final winners in all seven categories are decided on the basis of a secret ballot vote by the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

The Union Government on 14 February 2017 signed agreement with the Republic of Croatia on economic cooperation in Zagreb, Croatia. The agreement was signed by Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister and Martina Dalic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Croatia. The Agreement will help both the countries in stepping up the ties in continuity as the last agreement expired in November 2009. Prior to this agreement, India and Croatia had earlier signed an agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in September 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations.  India’s bilateral trade with the Republic of Croatia during the financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 were USD 148.86 million, USD 205.04 million and USD 148.44 million respectively. The bilateral trade during the last three years has remained stable between both the countries despite global slowdown. Croatia, a small country in terms of area, offers India access to a wider market inside Europe because it is placed at the gateway of eastern and central Europe.  India needs support of countries like Croatia to achieve its goal of UN permanent membership and to improve its trade relations with eastern and central European countries. India established diplomatic relations with Croatia in July 1992. Both the countries developed their bilateral relations at the Ambassadorial level in January 1998.  One of the foremost high level visits by the Croatian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to India date back to April 1992 and April 1995 respectively. On the other hand, from the Indian side, the then Commerce Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited Croatia in 1994.

India on 14 February 2017 joined the United Nations Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health with an aim to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by half. On this occasion, eight other countries, including Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda joined the multilateral initiative along with India.  Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health  : It is a multinational network for improving quality of care for maternal, newborn and child health. The network will bring together officials from ministries of health, health care professionals and bilateral and multilateral development partners. The network has three goals. They are – i. Reduce maternal and newborn mortality in health facilities in the target country districts by 50 per cent over five years ii. Reduce avoidable morbidity due to severe post-partum haemorrhage by 50 per cent iii. Improve experience of healthcare Functions of the network: It empowers national leadership by strengthening national and district governance healthcare structures. It seeks to accelerate action by adapting and adopting WHO’s eight standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities. It helps the governments in creating national packages of quality improvement interventions. It provides the necessary policy inputs to the government in developing, strengthening and sustaining clinical and managerial capabilities to support quality of care improvement.

The Government of Haryana announced on 14 February 2017 that no person shall be allowed to consume alcohol at a place that has not been authorised under the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, with the exception of one’s home. The announcement was made by the Excise and Taxation Minister Captain Abhimanyu who further added that from here on consuming alcohol on the road, in a garden, park,  market, or along a riverside or in a car whether running or parked in the state will be taken as a punishable offence. In case of any violation, the offender, liquor and the vehicle if any will be detained by an Excise Officer above the rank of an Assistant Excise and Taxation Officer. The Excise Officer would then be expected to forward the case within 24 hours of detention to the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (Excise) who is also the Collector of the district.  The collector might either refer the case to the court of law for trial or dispose it off himself by imposing a fine of Rs 5000 per person for first-time offenders and Rs 10000 per person for second offence and every subsequent one following it. The minister however cleared that no penalty would be imposed without giving a chance to the offender including the owner of the place or vehicle where the offense was committed to speak on their defence. Previously, the state of Haryana had imposed a complete ban on alcohol consumption in July 1996.  However, the ban was lifted on 1 April 1998 by Haryana Vikas Party, led by Bansi Lal.

The Cobra Gold 2017 commenced on 14 February 2017 in Thailand. Cobra Gold is an annual multilateral military exercise co-sponsored by Thailand and the USA. Highlights of Cobra Gold 2017 : The Cobra Gold 2017 is the 36th edition of the multinational military exercise.  Around 30 nations will take part in the exercise that will continue till 24 February 2017. Cobra Gold includes a staff exercise with a senior leader seminar, a field training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance projects. Approximately 3,600 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the USA are involved in these activities. The exercise includes an amphibious assault demonstration, noncombatant evacuation operation and combined arms live fire exercise. The emphasis of the Cobra Gold 2017 is on coordination of civic actions such as humanitarian assistance. The exercise is a part of the USA’s efforts to expand regional cooperation and collaboration in vital areas such as disaster relief. Cobra Gold : It is considered as the largest military exercise in the Asia-Pacific region. Thailand hosts the exercise every year.It is also among the largest multinational military exercise in which the USA participates. Cobra Gold has three distinct activities - the Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX), Command Post Exercise (CPX) and activity related to assisting the local Thai population. It was first held in 1982 to improve coordination between the armed forces of the USA and Thailand in both hostile military and humanitarian efforts. Some of the key participants in the exercise are  Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.  China participated in the exercise for the first time in 2015. India participated in the exercise in 2016 .  The exercise has proven its effectiveness in improving coordinated military response to natural disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Tohoku tsunami.  

The Publications Division and Sasta Sahitya Mandal (SSM) on 14 February 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New Delhi. The MoU facilitates joint publication of books on heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, cultural leaders and other eminent personalities who worked towards nation development. Features of the MoU : The MoU is a joint initiative between the Publications Division and the SSM to sensitise the young generation about India’s rich and diverse culture and history. The agreement would promote availability of good literature for the people on diverse topics. The MoU includes joint publication of a set of 20 books out of which 10 books will be selected through each other’s catalogue. In addition, a set of 10 small new books would be finalized on topics such as the freedom struggle, Indian culture, ethics and values for joint publication. The agreement would also provide an opportunity for both the organizations to enhance their reach by displaying and offering on sale any of publications published by either of the organizations. Publications Division :  It is a media unit under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Publications Division is a repository of books and journals highlighting subjects of national importance and India’s rich cultural heritage. The mandate of the organisation is to preserve national heritage and disseminate the same through the production and sale of quality reading material at affordable prices. It publishes books in Hindi, English and other regional languages and market them through its nationwide sales network.  

France’s Jean-Pierre Lacroix has been appointed as the Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations’ Peacekeeping Operations. He has been appointed for the period of one year beginning 1 April 2017. The announcement was made by the United Nations' new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2017. Besides this, Guterres also announced the extension of the term of three other officials including Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support until 1 April 2018. Highlights : The two Under-Secretary-General positions are among the most high-profile posts at the United Nations. In his new position, Jean-Pierre Lacroix will be replacing Herve Ladsous, who will step down in March 2017after six years of service. Hervé Ladsous had informed UN chief that he would be unavailable for an extension at the end of his current term. Lacroix will be taking over the role at a time when UN peacekeeping is struggling to overcome a scandal over increasing number of sexual abuse cases by troops serving in peacekeeping missions.Apart from this, Guterres also announced that he will be setting up an internal review team to look into the international body’s peace and security strategy, functioning, and architecture. Jean-Pierre Lacroix : Born on 2 May 1960, Lacroix holds a bachelor’s degree in law and master’s degree in political science. He was a technical advisor to the French Prime Minister from 1993 to 1995. He is currently serving as the Director of United Nations and International Organizations (NUOI). In total, he has over 25 years of political and diplomatic experience.He has handled several multilateral organisations, UN activities and programmes.  

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched a record 104 satellites including Cartosat-2 in a single mission on 15 February 2017. The heavy duty rocket PSLV C37 carrying will lift off at 9:28 am from Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The satellites will be injected in a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit at different slots at different angles and at different times. With this launch, ISRO successfully created a world record of inserting the highest number of satellites into space in a single launch. Its previous personal record was of sending 20 satellites in one go. The last count of the highest number of satellites launched in a single mission is 37 by Russia in 2014. This is the first time the count exceeds a hundred. Payloads of PSLV-C37 India’s Cartosat-2 Series satellite weighing 714 kilograms, which is meant for earth observation. It has a sharp resolution to provide quality earth images to its customers. Other 103 payloads of the launch included two other nano-satellites are from India and all the remaining 101 nano-satellites are from foreign customers including 96 from the US and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Nederland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. All these 103 payloads together weighed 664 kilograms. Apart from principal payload Cartosat-2 series satellite and two more nano-satellites weighing less than 10 kilograms, 101 other co-passengers are from foreign countries. They include one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE and 96 from the US. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) was launched after a 28-hour countdown for the launch that started at 5:28 AM on 14 February 2017. This was the 39th flight of PSLV into space.  

Australian cricketer Adam Voges has decided to retire from all formats of international cricket after playing his last match as captain of the team Prime Minister’s XI against Sri Lanka in Canberra on February 15, 2017. Voges has played only 20 Tests for Australia after debuting at the age of 35 in 2015 and became the oldest debut centurion when he scored an unbeaten 130 against West Indies in Dominica. During his career of test match period he scored 1485 runs with five centuries and four half-centuries. His batting average of 61.87 is second only to Donald Bradman among all batsmen with a minimum of 20 Tests. He played his last match in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania in November 2016.

Toshiba Corporation’s Chairman Shigenori Shiga announced his resignation from the multinational conglomerate with effect from February 15, 2017 as the company faced huge losses of multi-billion-dollars. Shiga is stepping down accepting his responsibility for his company’s financial challenges and operating losses. The company issued a report forecasting a net loss of 390 billion yen ($3.4 billion) in the current fiscal year ending March 2017. Besides, the company also faced a 712.5 billion yen (USD 6.3 billion) loss for its nuclear business related to the purchase of CB&I Stone & Webster by its US nuclear unit Westinghouse. Though Shiga would step down from the board, he would stay on as a Toshiba executive  

Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey was elected as the new President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for the year 2017-18 on February 12, 2017. The 40-member Central Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) also elected Naveen N D Gupta as the Vice-President for the year 2017-18. Prior to this, Vikamsey served as vice-president and has been the member of ICAI since 1985 while Gupta was Chartered Accountant of ICAI for more than 20 years. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) was established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 passed by the Parliament of India with the objective of regulating accountancy profession in India. The council has 32 elected members and eight are nominated by the Central government.

IDFC Asset Management Company launched an open-ended fixed income fund  named Credit Opportunities Fund on February 13 in Mumbai which is expected to raise the revenue of the company in the range of Rs 300 crore-500 crore within the NFO period itself. A new fund offer (NFO) is the first time subscription offer for a new scheme launched by the asset management companies (AMCs).  A new fund offer is launched in the market to raise capital from the public in order to buy securities like shares, govt. bonds etc. from the market. The Credit Opportunities Fund will open for subscription on February 14 and close on February 27. It will reopen for continuous sale and repurchase from March 6, 2017. The new fund scheme aims to optimise the higher risk associated with the credit fund category.

International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, has teamed up with Finance Industry Development Council (FIDC) to conduct training programmes for Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs). The training programmes will be on 'movable asset financing' and 'commercial credit reporting'. For this purpose, two engagement letters have been signed between IFC and FIDC, a representative body for NBFCs, especially those engaged in asset financing. Jun Zhang, IFC India Country Head and Raman Aggarwal, Chairman of FIDC were the signatories to the engagement letters at an event held at IFC's office in the capital. These training programmes would be conducted at various centres across the country under the guidance of leading consultants from the World Bank Group. Such programmes are expected to enhance the awareness, expertise and professionalism of NBFCs, especially the large number of small and medium sized NBFCs catering to the credit needs in rural and semi-urban areas.

Government has allocated an amount of Rs 500 crore to India Post Payments Bank for the financial year 2017-18 to help it in setting up 650 branches across country by September 2017. As per Output-Outcome Framework for Schemes 2017-18 for the Department of Posts released on February 13, 2017, out of the allocated amount, Rs. 125 crore has been allocated as “capital infusion into corporate entity for India Post Payments Bank” and Rs 375 crore as “grant in aid to India Post Payments Bank (IPPB)”. Besides, Rs 110.83 crore has been allocated for establishing e-commerce, parcel booking, international business centres, Rs 73.5 crore for estates management, Rs 32 crore for mail operations and Rs 17.7 crore for equipments and IT infrastructure in rural post offices. Apart from this, government has allocated Rs 3.8 crore for setting up 246 offices and 200 outlets for providing better access to communication and financial services.

France based UNESCO organised the two-day Nature Fest at the World Heritage Site Great Himalayan National Park (GNHP) at Sairopa in Kullu district from February 11, 2017. Highlights: The festival was organised in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and would be attended by prominent conservationists. A media workshop held on the sidelines and Discussion on nature conservation to discuss various aspects of environmental journalism. Great Himalayan National Park : The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), is one of India’s national parks, is located in Kullu region in the state of Himachal Pradesh. GHNP was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites on June 2014.

The International Coin Fair was inaugurated at Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on February 13, 2017 by the Kerala state Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran. The three day exhibition has been organized by the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) and will conclude on February 15, 2017. The exhibition has been organized to showcase more than 2,500 coins from around 500 regions including those from the time of empires and princely states. It would also feature the collection of Justin Gilbert Lopez who holds a Guinness world record for the largest coin collection of nearly 310 countries. Besides, the coin from the time of Alexander the Great, Mughals, Chera, Chola emperors, Kanishka, Romans, Islamic Dynasty, and the coin released by Subhash Chandra Bose during the British rule and Malian guitar-shaped coins, Princess Diana tribute coins, flower-inscribed coins among other rare pieces would be the major display.

According to a new study of global air pollution India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world. The report was issued jointly by Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health effects of air pollution, and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle based population health research centre. The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles PM2.5, has stabilised globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India. About 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year in India which has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015 period.  Global Scenario: The air pollution in recent times has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the United States and Europe.  US and Europe: Environmental regulations in US and actions taken by European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate matter (PM) pollution from industrialisation since 1990. US has experienced a reduction of about 27% in the average annual exposure to fine PM and there has been smaller declines in Europe. that reduced emissions from industrialisation Particulate Matters are fine particles, less than fraction of the width of a human hair. These particles are released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, industry, as well as from natural sources like dust.  They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure and worsening cardiac disease, in addition also causing severe respiratory problems, like pneumonia and asthma.

The Supreme Court has clarified that there is no need to stand inside a cinema hall when the national anthem is featured as a part of a film, documentary or a newsreel.  This is second clarification issued by SC on its November 2016 order, directing all persons to stand up when the national anthem is sung or played in a cinema theatre. The apex court’s clarification came after several applications were filed on the question, including from the Kodungallur Film Society and the Conference for Human Rights. Earlier in December 2016, SC had issued first modification to its order to exempt physically challenged or handicapped persons from standing up when national anthem is played before film screenings. In November 2016, Supreme Court had issued an order making mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before film screenings. It also had directed all those present there to stand up to show respect.  It also had ordered cinema halls to display the national flag on the screen when the anthem was played. The apex court had mentioned that this practice will instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism. The order was issued on a writ petition filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey in October 2016.

Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth.  These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart. Researchers found presence of extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.  These POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants. These banned pollutants are invulnerable to natural degradation and persist in the environment for decades.  They may have been released into the environment through industrial accidents. Researchers claim that these pollutants may have found their way to deep trenches through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to bottom of ocean, where they were consumed by amphipods and other fauna.  These sampled amphipods contained levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west Pacific. Thus, this research shows that the remote and pristine oceanic realm which was earlier considered safe from human impact is actually not.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has opened a first-of-its-kind South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Centre (SARTTAC) in New Delhi for economic capacity building in South Asia.  It will work to support local member countries of South Asia viz. India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to build human and institutional capacity and implement policies for growth and poverty reduction. SARTTAC  : SARTTAC is financed mainly by its six member South Asia countries (mentioned above) with additional support from Australia, South Korea, European Union and United Kingdom.  It strategic goal is to help its member countries strengthen their institutional and human capacity to design and implement macroeconomic and financial policies that promote growth and reduce poverty.  It will allow the IMF to meet more of the high demand for technical assistance and training from the region. It is expected to become the focal point for the delivery of IMF capacity development services to South Asia. In 2016, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a capacity development centre for South Asia. The opening of SARTTAC is part of the MoU and marks a major milestone in the partnership between the IMF and its member countries in the region.

Scientists have developed novel rubber like material nicknamed ‘thubber’ which has high thermal conductivity and elasticity.  It is an electrically insulating composite material that exhibits an unprecedented combination of metal-like thermal conductivity, elasticity similar to soft, biological tissue. Thubber consists of a soft elastomer with non-toxic, liquid metal microdroplets suspended within it. This semi-liquid state allows the metal to deform with the surrounding rubber at room temperature. When it is pre-stretched at room temperature, it stretches up to six times its initial length.  During this phase, liquid metal microdroplets form into elongated pathways through which heat can easily travel through.  At the same time, the material is electrically insulating. Potential applications: In developing wearable computing and soft robotics, industries like athletic wear and sports medicine and in advanced manufacturing, energy, and transportation etc.

Young Indian racer Jehan Daruvala created history by winning the New Zealand Grand Prix 2017 at the Chris Amon Circuit. With the win, Jehan became the first and only Indian to win a Grand Prix in motorsport and has joined the elite list of Grand Prix winners including Keke Rosberg, Bruce Mclaren, John Surtees and Sir Jackie Stewart. Highlights of the race : Jehan earned the pole position in the Race 1 of the Toyota Racing Series as well as in the New Zealand GP. The qualifying sessions were extremely close with 4 racers within two-tenths of a second from each other in each session. Jehan raced the 3 km circuit to bag the pole position in race 1 just seven-hundredths of a second ahead of former Brazilian World F1 Champion's son, Pedro Piquet.Marcus Armstrong, Ferrari Academy racer of New Zealand was further eight-hundredths of a second away. The New Zealand Grand Prix was the main feature race and the third race of the weekend. This GP is the only other Grand Prix aside from the Macau Grand Prix in motorsport outside Formula 1 and hence is a prestigious event for all racers. Jehan had a good start from pole and went on to lead the race. He was able to stay ahead for a good time until an incident brought out the red flag.Jehan was, however, able to maintain his lead again after the race re-started. Comprising 35 laps, the race was longest of the season. Though towards the end, Marcus Armstrong edged closer to Jehan, Jehan was able to maintain his cool and win the GP, less than a second ahead of Armstrong. Thomas Randle finished less than half a second later in the third position.

Haryana Cabinet on 14 February 2017 constituted a sub-committee of council of ministers. The committee will prepare a blueprint for developing Integrated Dairy Complexes in all cities of the State. The decision to constitute the committee was taken at a cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. It has been asked to submit its report within a month. Members of the committee are Agriculture Minister Om Parkash Dhankhar Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain Minister of State for Cooperation Munish Kumar Grover Besides, the state cabinet also directed the Town and Planning Department that in the development plans of towns some area is earmarked around the towns where dairy, fodder and vegetable market could be set up. As per reports, these units will be known as integrated dairying complex. In addition to this, to implement the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policy, the cabinet also approved a proposal of the Town and Country Department. The proposal seeks to amend the draft on the basis of suggestions received from public published on 15 July 2016. The TOD policy will be implemented in areas adjacent to six metros of Haryana. The amended policy will become applicable with immediate effect. In cases where an individual applies for a licence in an institutional area in the TOD zone will have to transfer an equal area of land in a residential zone in the same development plan to the government. This transfer will be done under the Transferable Development Rights (TDR) policy. This land will be used by the government to set up institutions like hospitals, colleges, fire stations, police stations and power stations. Under clause 7 of the Planning Parameter of Ground Coverage or FAR, the minimum area norm for the independent group housing colonies within the TOD zone (hyper/high potential zones) will be 4 acres instead of prevailing norm of 10 acres. On the other hand, this minimum area norm for another category of colonies will remain unaltered. This amendment will help the government in implement the policy for Innovative Financing of Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) projects.