Today Current Affairs 24th February 2017

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Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh's biography, 'The People's Maharaja', was released The authorised biography of the erstwhile scion of Patiala royalty, authored by Chandigarh-based writer Khushwant Singh, sheds a new light on the sequence of events that led to the 1984 army action at Golden temple in Amritsar.

Ms. Suman Saxena took charge as the Whole Time Member, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI).  She will look after Research and Regulation Wing comprising Corporate Insolvency, Corporate Liquidation, Individual Insolvency, Individual Bankruptcy, Research and Publications, Data Management and Dissemination and Advocacy.  She will also look after National Insolvency Programme, Continuing Professional Programme, and Knowledge Management and Partnership.  She served as a member of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service for over 35 years. Her last assignment was Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, where she oversaw three important sectors, namely, defence, communications and railways.  She has also been the Director of National Academy of Audit and Accounts. 

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) on 24 February 2017 celebrated the Central Excise Day across the country. To mark the occasion, the Central Excise officers all over the country organized seminars, workshops, trade interactions and cultural events. The Central Excise Day is celebrated every year to commemorate the Central Excise and Salt Act, which was enacted on 24 February 1944. Central Board of Excise and Customs : Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is a part of the Department of Revenue under the Union Ministry of Finance. The CBEC deals with policy formulation concerning levy and collection of Customs and central excise duties and service tax. The Board also deals with matters related to smuggling and administration of matters relating to Customs, central excise, service tax and narcotics to the extent under the CBEC's purview.  The Board is the administrative authority for its subordinate organizations, including Custom Houses, Central Excise and Service Tax Commissionerates and the Central Revenues Control Laboratory. The board primarily deals with the Customs Act, 1962, Customs Tarriff Act, 1975, Central Excise Act, 1944 and Service Tax Act. However, after the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1 July 2017, the activities of the board will be guided by the GST-related Acts.

Tata Group hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company Ltd stated N Chandrasekaran has been elected as the Chairman of its board of directors. N Chandrasekaran has been elected as the Chairman of the board of directors of the company with effect from February 22, 2017 vide a written resolution of the Board.He was initially appointed as a Member of the board on January 27, 2017, it added. Chandrasekaran had taken over as Chairman of Tata Sons on February 21, becoming the first non Parsi Chairman of the USD 103 billion Tata Group after heading its crown jewel TCS for years.

Tata Power Renewable Energy Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Power, has synchronised its 15 MW solar plant at Bellampally in Telangana, thereby taking the Tata Power's total installed operating capacity past 10, 500 MW mark. The company has won the project in the Phase 1 bidding process in Telangana, and its commissioning is in keeping with the conditions and timelines in the PPA. The solar plant has been built over 80 acres of land and includes an 18 km transmission line.

Cressida Dick(56) was appointed as the new commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police. With this, she become the first woman to lead Scotland Yard in 188 year UK history. Dick replace Bernard Hogan-Howe, who is stepping down from the position previous week. She left the police force in 2015 to work at the foreign office, led the security operation for the 2012 London Olympics and was highly regarded by many Scotland Yard peers.

The commerical banking company Karnataka Bank has won two ‘IBA-Banking Technology’ awards in Mumbai on February 21, 2017 IBA-Banking Technology awards: ‘Best financial inclusion initiatives (small bank)’ category – Winner ‘Best use of digital and channels technology (small bank)’ – Runner The award recognises and rewards individuals, professionals and banks who have recorded noteworthy technology and business benefits in 2016 Mahabaleshwara MS, Chief General Manager of the bank, and Raghavendra Bhat M, General Manager of the bank, received the awards from Viral V Acharya, Deputy Governor ofReserve Bank of India, and Raghunath Mashelkar, Jury Chairman for the awards, respectively.

The Public Sector Oriental Bank of Commerce has signed a corporate agency agreement with general insurance provider Cholamandalam General Insurance Company, for distribution of insurance products. Chola MS will offer a wide range of non-life insurance products to customers of Oriental Bank of Commerce through its branches. The insurance products include motor, health, home and travel. The partnership will greatly benefit our customers and through this alliance, both Oriental Bank and Chola MS seek to fulfil the non-life insurance needs of customers.  

China is hosting the first official BRICS Sherpas Meeting in Nanjing -Jiangsu Province on February 23 and 24 under its chairmanship. The meeting is focusing on the theme of “Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” upon considering the current international situation. This event will see a participation of 100 people, including Sherpas, diplomatic envoys in China and the New Development Bank representatives. The Sherpas mechanism, as a main vehicle to coordinate and promote the BRICS cooperation, primarily serves to make political preparations for the BRICS Summit. After the country assumed Sherpas group chairmanship this January, subsequently hosting this event which will discuss BRICS cooperation in 2017, particularly in the political, economic, and cultural sectors.

 The Kerala government also plan to launch the country’s first sex offenders registry which will contain all identification details of sex offenders and would be kept in public domain A comprehensive victim relief fund will be set-up by the state government to provide interim relief for victims of sex crimes, both children and adults.  

Kerala government has decided to set up a Rs 300 crore international Ayurvedic research institute at Kannur during the 13th five year plan.    The project will be implemented with central assistance.    The state cabinet, which met today in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, gave in principle sanction for the project.       Cabinet also decided to set up Kerala Blood Bank society of International standards. It will be set up jointly by Thiruvananthapuram Citizens India Charitable Trust, Health Department with technical assistance of WHO.     The government also decided to strengthen the Public Works Departments design, investigation and quality control wings.     The three design units presently in the department will be reconstituted into seven units

India’s first fully organic state Sikkim has joined the union government’s Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) as 22 nd state , the so called UDAY will in turn hand it an overall benefit of Rs 356 crore. Upon this decision Sikkim has inked MoU with the union government under the Scheme Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) for operational improvement of the state’s Power Distribution Department. The MoU will help in improving operational efficiency of the power distribution and reduction in AT&C and transmission losses to 15 per cent and 3.50 per cent, respectively, is possibly to bring in added revenue of around Rs 328 crore.

The country's largest telecom services provider, Bharti Airtel (Airtel) has officially announced that it will acquire Telenor India. Although both the companies did not disclose the deal size, internal sources from the companies said it ranges between Rs. 6,500 crore and Rs. 7,000 crore. As part of the agreement, Airtel will acquire Telenor India’s running operations in seven circles - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam. These circles represent a high population concentration and therefore offer a high potential for growth.

The chief executive officer of Jasper Infotech-owned digital payments platform FreeCharge, Govind Rajan has submitted his resigned. It was accepted by the company. Snapdeal’s chief strategy and investment officer, Jason Kothari will oversee the business operations of FreeCharge.  FreeCharge is an e-commerce website headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It provides online facility to recharge any prepaid mobile phone, postpaid mobile, DTH & Data Cards in India.  

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of an Agreement between India and Poland on cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.  The agreement covers various activities in the field of agriculture and allied sector including exchange of information on the current situation in agriculture.  It also includes exchange of information on the phytosanitary conditions of crops, threats posed by harmful organisms and animal infectious diseases.  It also covers participation in fairs, exhibitions, seminars and conferences related to agriculture and agri-food processing. It also includes undertaking and developing joint economic initiatives including the support or agrifood trade between the states of the Contracting Parties.  The Agreement provides for constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising of representatives of both countries. The JWG will prepare plans of cooperation and also provide solutions to the problems arising during the implementation of the Agreement.

Astronomers from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for the first time have discovered seven new Earth-sized exoplanets that may be able to sustain life. The planets were detected using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories including Trappist robotic telescope at La Silla, Chile.  These exoplanets are orbiting dwarf star named Trappist-1, which at 39 light years away. They could have some liquid water and maybe supporting life.  Of the seven planets, three are classified as TRAPPIST-1 e, f and g. These three planets orbit in the habitable (so-called Goldilocks zone) where temperatures are suited to surface oceans of liquid water. The star Trappist-1 is at least 500 million years old and has a temperature of 2550K.  It is marginally larger than Jupiter and shines with a feeble light about 2,000 times fainter than Earth’s sun.  The 6 inner planets lie in a temperate zone where surface temperatures range from zero to 100C. Their masses range from around 0.4 to 1.4 times the mass of the Earth. They are so close to each other that their gravitational fields interact with each other.  However, their atmospheres needs more study before determining whether they could support some type of life.  Exoplanet: It is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. It is also termed as extrasolar planet. Goldilocks Zone: It refers to a habitable zone in space where the temperature is neither too high nor too low. Such conditions could allow for the presence on the planet’s surface of liquid water – a key ingredient for life.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on 22 February 2017 asked hospitals to display revised price list of cardiac stents. In its notification, the authority said that the state drug controllers have been sensitized on this issue. The notification also said that it will inspect more hospitals in the coming days to check the compliance with its price cap order issued on 14 February 2017. Besides, the authority also warned the manufacturers and importers against shortage and said the companies were under legal obligation to maintain smooth production and supply of coronary stents.  The authority has said, if there is any non-availability or withdrawal of stents it should inform to NPPA immediately.  Earlier, the authority has slashed the prices of the life saving coronary stents by up to 85 per cent by capping them at Rs 7260 for Bare Metal Stents (BMS) and Rs 29600 for Drug Eluting Stents (DES). These prices are exclusive of VAT and other local taxes. The average MRP in the market for BMS was Rs 45 thousand and for DES Rs 1 lakh 21 thousand. The prices were slashed in line of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of affordable, quality healthcare for all.  As per the notification issued on 14 February 2017, NPPA is authorised to recover the overcharged amount along with 15 per cent interest. In For addressing the grievances of the common people, two mobile apps, Pharma Jan Samadhan and Pharma Sahi Daam, were launched on which aggrieved person register complaints and the Ministry can act swiftly to resolve it.