1. Union Government announces reduction in Haj airfare
• The Union Government has announced a significant reduction in airfares for devotees travelling to Saudi Arabia. The prices of the round tickets have been slashed by a minimum of Rs 20,000 to Rs 97,000.
• The move seeks to address concerns about airfares going up after the Haj subsidy was abolished last month by the government.
• The government made available details of the 2014 airfares to highlight the price difference.
• Around 18 to 49 per cent reduction in rates will be available on tickets for Jeddah and Medina on national carrier Air India, Saudia and Flynas, an air carrier based in Saudi Arabia.
• The maximum difference of about Rs. 97,000 is on the Srinagar fare, which has almost been halved. While a round ticket from the city cost Rs 1,98,350 in 2014, it will now come down to Rs 1,01,400.
• The minimum cut of around Rs 20,000 will be on a ticket from Varanasi, which is down from Rs 1,12,300 to Rs 92,004.
2. Union Government sanctions funds worth more than Rs 700 crore for Arunachal Pradesh
• The Union Rural Development Ministry has sanctioned funds worth more than Rs 700 crore for the construction of 43 roads and 15 bridges under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in Arunachal Pradesh.
• In total, 685 km of roads and 577 metres of bridges will be constructed out of the sanctioned amount.
• The state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the grant and said his concern for Arunachal Pradesh in terms of connectivity is evident from the positive gesture.
3. Railways to allow visually impaired candidates in its recruitment exam
• The Union Ministry of Railways has informed the Delhi High Court that it will allow visually impaired candidates to appear in its recruitment examinations.
• The ministry informed a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar that it will allow such candidates against its 90,000 vacancies.
• The response came on a plea by National Federation of the Blind challenging two recent notifications according to which visually impaired persons were barred from appearing for the recruitment exams.
• The ministry also said that it will issue a fresh notification in this regard.
• The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on March 1.
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4. German village votes to keep ‘Hitler bell’ as memorial
• The local authority in a small south-western German village voted on February 26, 2018 to decide the fate of Nazi-era bell with the inscription "Everything for the Fatherland - Adolf Hitler".
• The votes, 10 to 3, determined that the bell should continue to hang in the village’s local church.
• The local council rejected calls by some residents for the bell to be dismantled, and turned down an offer by the local Protestant church to bear the cost of installing a new one.
• It felt that the bell, which also bears a swastika, should serve as a force for reconciliation and a memorial against violence and injustice.
• The contentious bronze bell has been in the church since 1934, where it was used until recently.
• Its existence only became known when a former church organist, Sigrid Peters, complained about the inscription.
5. Roger Federer wins Sportsman & Comeback of the Year awards at Laureus
• Twenty-times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer has won the 2017 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year and Comeback of the Year awards.
• The 36-year old Swiss star bagged the honour at the 18th edition of the awards ceremony, held in Monaco on February 27, 2018.
• Federer, who recently became the oldest world number one, had clinched the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles in 2017 after the seven-year break of winning any major.
• He also won this year's Australian Open.
• In the women’s category, Serena Williams won the World Sportswoman of the Year award after winning her 23rd grand slam in 2017.
• The Brazilian football club, Chapecoense, were given the Best Sporting Moment of the Year for their response in adversity following a plane crash in 2016 in which they lost the majority of their team.
6. Finance Ministry releases list of 9500 high-risk finance companies
• The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) on February 26, 2018 released a list of around 9,500 Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), which have been categorised as high-risk financial institutions by the Finance Ministry.
• As per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), all NBFCs have to appoint a principal officer in the financial institutions and report all suspicious and cash transactions of over Rs 10 lakh to the FIU.
• But, these companies were found to be violating these rules as on January 31, 2018.
• The FIU released the list on its website showing the names of NBFCs which have been found non-compliant to the PMLA rules.
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