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Current Affairs in Short: 22 February 2019

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the retirement fund manager under the Union Labour Ministry, raised the interest rate on Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accumulations to 8.65 percent for 2018-19.

Feb 22, 2019 17:50 IST
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EPF interest rate hiked to 8.65 percent

• The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the retirement fund manager under the Union Labour Ministry, raised the interest rate on Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) accumulations to 8.65 percent for 2018-19.
• This is a 10 basis point increase from the 8.55 percent EPF interest rate announced by the retirement fund for 2017-18.
• The Central Board of Trustees (CBT) ratified the amendment in EPF Scheme 1952, as approved in the 141st meeting of Financial Investment and Audit Committee (FIAC) held on February 12, 2019, to enable accounting of Investment in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) (Equity & Related Investment).
• The Central Board ratified the approval of Chairman of CBT for continuation of C-DAC as a consultant to carry out the second phase of Computerisation Project.
• The Central Board approved revised estimate for the year 2018-19 and budget estimates for the year 2019-20 and recommended it to the Central Government for approval.
• The Board gave consent to have performance review of the Portfolio Managers from a separate agency in addition to review by CRISIL Limited.

President approves amendments to Indian Stamp Act, 1899 for rationalisation of stamp duty

• President gave his assent to the Amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 which were introduced as part of the Finance Act, 2019.  The Finance Bill 2019 was passed by both the Houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, on February 12, 2019 and February 13, 2019 respectively.
• The amendments propose to create the legal and institutional mechanism to enable states to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency on one Instrument.
• The present system of collection of stamp duty on securities market transactions has led to multiple rates for the same instrument, resulting in jurisdictional disputes and multiple incidences of duty.
• In order to facilitate ease of doing business and to bring in uniformity and affordability of the stamp duty on securities across States, the Central Government decided to amend the Indian Stamp Act, 1899.
• Subsequent to the enactment of the Act, it is proposed to create a Coordination Council under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution. This Council will be tasked with the responsibility of making recommendations regarding revision of stamp duty rates.

UNSC urges international community to co-operate with India in dealing with terrorism

• The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) urged the international community to co-operate actively with India in bringing the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism to justice.
• The 15-nation body strongly condemned the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama that claimed the lives of over 40 CRPF personnel.
• The condemnation also named the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed which claimed responsibility for the attack.
• The UNSC reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
• In a major boost to India's efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar on the list of global terrorists, France is expected to soon move a proposal at the UN to ban him. The proposal, when moved, will be fourth such bid at the UN in last 10 years.

SC appoints Justice DK Jain as ombudsman for BCCI

• The Supreme Court appointed former apex court judge Justice DK Jain as the first court-appointed ombudsman for the BCCI under the terms of newly approved constitution of the cricket board.
• The role of the ombudsman would be to resolve the disputes relating to the players within the state cricket associations as also financial issues.
• The Committee of Administrators of BCCI had said there was a need for appointment of an ombudsman and an ethics officer at the earliest in BCCI.
• The Committee of Administrators was formed by Supreme Court to monitor the administrative issues of BCCI.

India decides to stop its share of river waters which flow into Pakistan

• Union Minister for Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari announced that the Government has decided to stop the share of river waters which flow into Pakistan.
• The Government will divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to the people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.
• According to the Indus Waters Treaty, subject to certain conditions, India has the right to use water flowing in eastern rivers, namely, the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej while Pakistan controls the right to use water in western rivers, namely, the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab.
• The construction of dam has started at Shahpur-Kandi on the Ravi river and the Ujh project will store India's share of water for use in Jammu and Kashmir and the balance water will flow from second Ravi-Beas Link.
• All these projects have been declared as National projects.

NITI Aayog organises ‘Conference on Future of Indian Banking’

• NITI Aayog organised the ‘Conference on Future of Indian Banking  and role of technology’ on February 22, 2019.
• The conference aims to increase and elevate the discourse on the banking sector in India, and help develop insights to inform the continued evolution of the Indian banking sector.   
• The panel discussions were held with policy and banking industry experts.  
• Two academic sessions were held followed by a valedictory session that included a presentation on the role of technology in Indian banking.
• The event hosted 200 domestic and international participants, including policy makers, academicians, researchers, professionals, and students from various banks, universities and institutes.

Jitendra Singh addresses launch of ‘Shisht Bharat Campaign’

• The  Union Minister of State of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh addressed the launch of ‘Shisht Bharat Abhiyan’ organised by an NGO.
• The theme of the event was to discuss the importance of moral science education in schools and colleges and to include Moral Science as a subject in the educational curriculum.
• During the event, prizes of the essay competition organised were also distributed and Panel discussion was also held on the importance of civic sense and moral values.

President unveils statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Chennai

• President Ram Nath Kovind on February 21, 2019 unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha in Chennai.
• The Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, completed 100 years. It has worked for the promotion of Hindi in the southern states.
• By putting up a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the Sabha paid respects to the Father of the Nation in his 150th year.

Vice President inaugurates Krishnapatnam port-Obulavaripalle rail line; initiates various railway projects

• Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu initiated a series of railway projects including the inauguration of the much-awaited new railway line between Venkatachalem -Vellikallu and Obulavaripalle - Cherlopalli (part of Krishnapatnam - Obulavaraipalle rail line project).
• He laid the foundation stones for redevelopment of Nellore railway station and passenger amenities at all railway stations from Krishnapatnam to Rapuru station.
• The other passenger oriented initiatives that were launched include Nellore-Chennai Central MEMU service and high speed Wi-Fi at Nellore, Guntur and Renigunta railway stations.
• Naidu also dedicated new booking office at Akkampet railway station, new foot over bridge, new booking office at Tiruvottiyur railway station and a new subway at Gummidipundi.
• The Vice President also inaugurated upgraded passenger amenities at Tirupati Railway Station.
• The host of railway projects would improve connectivity tremendously and establish higher benchmarks for passenger safety and comfort, thus improving the ‘ease of travelling’ considerably.

Vice President inaugurates Nellore FM Station

• Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated Nellore All India Radio FM Station in Andhra Pradesh and asserted that radio broadcasting has made a comeback in the era of continuous bombardment of visual content.
• Apart from broadcasting entertainment programmes in Telugu, the FM station would provide important information to farmers and other sections.
• The FM station would provide a platform to locals by broadcasting voice casts in local flavor.
• This will encourage the locals to showcase their talent in music and other areas, apart from enabling them to keep abreast of current affairs.

NABH revamps Entry-Level Certification process for Hospitals

• The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations (NABH) revamped Entry-Level Certification Process to make it simpler, digital, faster and user-friendly.
• The revised process is driven through a new portal called HOPE - Healthcare Organizations’ Platform for Entry-Level-Certification with a focus to promote quality by enrolling a wide range of hospitals across the country including Healthcare Organizations (HCOs) and Small Healthcare Organizations (SHCOs).
• The aim is to create a momentum for HCOs and SHCOs that want to avail benefits associated with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana by getting themselves NABH certified.
• The idea of cashless payment to patients under insurance coverage has been promoted by IRDAI to reduce financial burden on households.
• The IRDAI has mandated hospitals to ensure a quality healthcare ecosystem through NABH Entry-Level Certification Process.

BEL signs Teaming Agreement with Hughes India for Helicopter SATCOM Solutions

• The Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Hughes India entered into a Teaming Agreement for design, development, supply, installation, integration and commissioning of Satellite Communication solutions for helicopters under the Ministry of Defence at Aero India 2019, Bengaluru.
• The Teaming Agreement will enable MoD’s strategic users to get enabled with helicopter-based Satellite Communication links for real-time and assured communications using ISRO's Ku band satellites.
• Through this agreement, BEL and Hughes India are collaborating using their respective state-of-the-art technologies and capabilities in developing these integrated and sophisticated helicopter solutions.
• BEL is a Navratna defence PSU with expertise in the design, development, engineering and manufacture of Radar & Weapon Systems, Network Centric Systems and Communications systems, Electronic Warfare & Avionics, Naval Systems, Electro-optics products, etc.
• Hughes India is a majority owned subsidiary of Hughes Network Systems, LLC, USA (Hughes). Hughes is the world’s largest provider of broadband satellite networks and services.

Union Home Minister inaugurates “Waste to Wonder” Park in South Delhi

• The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the “Waste to Wonder” Park under the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
• The main attractions of the “Seven Wonders Park” are the different sized tall replicas of the Taj Mahal (20 ft.), the Great Pyramid of Giza (18 ft.), the Eiffel Tower (60 ft.), the Leaning Tower of Pisa (25ft.), Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue (25 ft.), Rome’s Colosseum (15 ft.), and New York’s Statute of Liberty (30 ft.).
• The seven replicas have been made with the scrap of automobile parts and other metal waste like fans, rods, iron sheets, nut- bolts, bicycle & bike parts, defunct sewer lines and age old appliances gathering dust in the 24 Municipal Stores.
• In all, 150 ton of scrap and waste have been used to build the park.

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