1. UN Chief demands immediate end to fighting in Eastern Ghouta in Syria
• UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has demanded an immediate end to fighting in the Eastern Ghouta in Syria.
• Guterres described the rebel-held region, as a hell on earth while speaking at the UN Security Council on February 21.
• The Eastern Ghouta has been under fierce bombardment from government forces backed by Russian airpower in recent days.
• The region is the last major rebel-held area near the Syrian capital Damascus.
• The Syrian military says it is trying to liberate the area from what it terms as terrorists but it has also been accused of targeting civilians.
2. Centre announces special fund to strengthen power transmission in Arunachal Pradesh
• The Union Government has announced a special fund worth Rs 925 crore to strengthen the power transmission and distribution system in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
• The announcement was made by the Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy, RK Singh while chairing a review meeting of the power sector with senior officers of the state government in Itanagar on February 21.
• Singh said that the fund would be used for re-conductoring of old 11 KV lines and conversion of selected long LT distribution lines with 11 KV High Voltage Distribution System.
• The Union minister also added that of the 900 unelectrified villages across the country, about 600 lie in Arunachal.
• He further directed the officials to expedite the work to electrify every village in the state by May 1, 2018.
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3. EPFO fixes interest rate at 8.55 % for 2017-18
• The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, EPFO has declared 8.55 per cent interest rate for 2017-18 for its about 5 crore members.
• This was decided during the meeting of Central Board of Trustees of EPFO in New Delhi.
• For 2016-17, the rate was 8.65 per cent and in 2015-16 the rate was 8.8 per cent.
• In order to maintain the interest this fiscal, the organisation had sold a portion of its investment in the Exchange Traded Funds.
4. Norway's Bjoergen becomes most successful Winter Olympian
• Norway's Marit Bjoergen on February 21, 2018 became the most successful athlete in Winter Olympics history by clinching the bronze medal in cross country skiing's women's team sprint free.
• Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins won the gold and the first Olympic cross country title for the United States.
• Bjoergen's bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla took her total tally to 14 Olympic medals, surpassing fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who has 13 in biathlon.
• The 37-year-old Bjoergen is also the second most successful woman at both Summer and Winter Games, trailing behind only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina who has won 18 medals.
5. Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Kenya notified
• In order to promote cross border flow of investments and technology, the revised DTAA provides for reduction in withholding tax rates from 15% to 10% on dividends, from 15% to 10% on interest, from 20% to 10% on royalties and from 17.5% to 10% on fees for management, professional and technical services.
• It provides for a new Article on Limitation of Benefits to allow treaty benefits to bonafide residents of both countries, to combat treaty abuse by third country residents.
• The Article on Exchange of Information has been updated to the latest international standard to provide for exchange of information, including banking information for tax purposes.
• A new Article on Assistance in Collection of Taxes has also been provided in the revised treaty which will enable assistance in collection of tax revenue claims between both countries.
6. Woman cricketer Harmanpreet to join Punjab police on March 1
• India's Twenty20 women's cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur is set to join Punjab police as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) on March 1, 2018.
• This became possible after Indian Railways relieved Harmanpreet following her request to join Punjab police.
• She had resigned from the Railways last year. Her medical test for the post of DSP had already been completed but she could not join as Indian Railway did not relieve her.
• Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had offered the DSP post to Harmanpreet in July 2017, following her scintillating performance in the Women's World Cup 2017.
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