The Union Finance Ministry has agreed to contribute partially to a new dedicated railway safety fund named as ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ in the upcoming Union Budget 2017-18. The proposed safety fund will be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system and safety work at level crossing, among other things. Read more IT Ministry urges tax incentives for PC manufacturers too The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in its key recommendations for Union Budget 2017-18, has suggested differential excise duty regime and tax exemptions to be expanded to personal computers and servers. Ministry’s suggestions were as per the Phased Manufacturing Roadmap, it had worked out in consultation with the NITI Aayog. Read more Environment, Science and Technology Bombay Natural History Society launches climate change programme in Central Himalayas The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has launched climate change programme to conduct study to assess the status, distribution and conservation of Pheasants and Finches in Central Himalayas. It is long-term monitoring project funded by Oracle and facilitated by CAF-India. It will focus on their conservation in the context of climate change with the help of community participation. Read more Vampire star caught in the act by ASTROSAT India’s first dedicated space observatory, ASTROSAT has captured the rare phenomenon of a small six-billion-year-old vampire star preying on a bigger celestial body. The vampire star phenomenon is observed when smaller star sucks material (mass and energy) out of the bigger companion star, causing its eventual death. It is also called a blue straggler as small star becomes bigger, hotter and bluer, giving it the appearance of being young, while the ageing companion burns out and collapses to a stellar remnant. Read more Banking, Business and Economy Reliance Defence bags contract for patrol vessels Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd (RDEL) has signed Rs. 916 crore contract with the Union Defence Ministry for design and construction of 14 fast patrol vessels (FPVs) for Indian Coast Guard (ICG). This is the first time, a private sector shipyard has been awarded a contract to design and build ships for Indian Armed Forces. FPVs are primarily used for patrolling carrying out anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and search and rescue operations and for fisheries protection and monitoring. They also have a secondary role of escort coastal convoys and providing a communication link, in times of hostilities and war. RDEL is a wholly-owned arm of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (RInfra) led by Anil Ambani. India Post Payments Bank starts pilot services The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched operations of the India Post Payments Bank’s (IPPB) by rolling out pilot services in Raipur and Ranchi in Chhattisgarh. IPPB is the second payments bank to start operations after Airtel Payments Bank. It will offer an interest rate of 4.5% on deposits up to Rs. 25,000; 5% on deposits of Rs. 25,000 to 50,000 and 5.5% on Rs. 50,000 to 1,00,000. IPPB has been incorporated as a Public Sector Bank under the Department of Posts with 100% Central Government equity. RBI withdraws limits on cash withdrawals The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has lifted limits on cash withdrawals for holders of current accounts, cash credit accounts, and overdrafts with immediate effect. The limits were imposed in November 2016 following the withdrawal of high-value banknotes. The move is expected to ease fund availability for small businesses and traders. However, the weekly limits of 24 thousand rupees on Savings Bank accounts will continue. Earlier, the cash withdrawal limit from ATMs was capped at Rs. 10,000 per day. Highlights of Economic Survey 2016-17 Union finance Minister Arun Jaitley tabled the Economic Survey 2016-17 in Parliament budget session. The survey prepared by chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian. The survey projects the economy to grow in the range of 6.75% to 7.25% in fiscal year 2017-18 in the post-demonetisation year. It says that the adverse impact of demonetisation on GDP growth will be transitional. Read more Miscellaneous NDRF celebrates its 12th raising day The 12th Raising Day celebration of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was observed on 31 January 2017. On the occasion, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh presented the Jeevan Raksha Padak awards and Distinguished Service Medals to the NDRF personnel. NDRF is India’s elite disaster mitigation combat force established under The Disaster Management Act, 2005. It was raised on January, 2006. It is a specialised force capable of responding to any type of disaster (natural or man-made) in the country and abroad. Its main function is to undertake relief and rescue operations, mass evacuation and immediate relief in the case of an event of any disaster, accident or emergency. India’s Centre for Civil Society ranked among world’s top 100 think tanks The Centre for Civil Society (CCS), one of India’s premier think tank was ranked among the top 100 think tanks globally in the recently published 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. The report was published by the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania (TTCSP). The CCS was ranked 80 which is one lower than its last year’s rank. Besides, nine other Indian institutes also have figured among the top 175. UK’s Chatham House, was declared the top think tank while US’s Brookings Institution retained the position as the top think tank worldwide in US and Non-US category. Other Indian think tanks in the top 200 are Institute of Defence and Security Analysis (IDSA) at 105, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) at 110. Observer Research Foundation (ORF) was ranked within top 10 think tanks among key Asian countries Persons in news Veteran journalist Devdutt passes away Veteran journalist Devdutt passed away. He was 88. He was Gandhian since his early days and was present at Birla House in the lawn when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948. He was seasoned political commentator, who had brought out a journal of political opinion called Point of View. He was associated with many newspapers and periodicals such asPunjab-based Hind Samachar, Gujarat’s Sandesh and Odia newspaper Pragativadi. He was highly respected by leaders of all political shades and hues. Masaya Nakamura, Father of Pac-Man passes away Masaya Nakamura, the Father of Pac-Man video game passed away. He was 91. He had founded Japanese video game company Namco in 1955. Pac-Man was designed by Namco engineer and video game maker Toru Iwatani in 1980. It was started out as an arcade item. Since then it is estimated to have been played more than 10 billion times and Guinness World Record has named it the world’s most successful coin-operated arcade game. The idea for Pac-Man’s design came from the image of a pizza with a slice carved out. The game has been adapted for cellphones, PlayStation and Xbox formats. Sports Current Affairs India’s first multi-sports museum inaugurated in Kolkata India’s first multi-sports museum was inaugurated in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal. The museum entire project took shape under aegis of Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group. It is spread over 6700 square feet and has amazing collection of sports memorabilia ranging from the gloves that Sachin Tendulkar wore while scoring his 100th hundred, a boot owned by Lionel Messi to a chess board signed by Vishwanathan Anand. It also has an impressive collection painstakingly gathered by cricket historian Boria Majumdar for over 25 years. It also display’s books written by KS Ranjitsinhji such as ‘ The Jubilee Book of cricket’ and an anthology by PN Polishwalla. Government Constitutes Task Force to prepare Action Plan for Next three Olympic Games Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of eight members Task Force committee for preparing action plan for next three Olympic Games 2020, 2024 and 2028. It has been given three months’ time to submit its report regarding a comprehensive action plan including short, medium and long-term measures for effective participation of Indian sports-persons in the Olympic games
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