NITI Aayog unveils Health Index for states, Kerala, Meghalaya top the list
Niti Aayog on February 9, 2019 released a comprehensive 'Healthy States, Progressive India' report in New Delhi. The health index ranks the states on the basis of their performance on measurable indicators such as infant mortality rate, sex ratio at birth and functional 24x7 public health centres.
The healthy state progressive report ranked Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu at the top among the larger states in terms of overall performance. The report was released by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in New Delhi.
In terms of annual incremental performance, the states that were ranked at the top three positions in the larger states category included Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.
Among the Union territories, Lakshadweep showed the best overall performance as well as the highest annual incremental performance.
SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket carrying car into space
US space flight company SpaceX on February 6, 2018 launched the world's most powerful operational rocket 'Falcon Heavy' into the space. The Falcon Heavy blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.
Falcon Heavy's smooth takeoff wasn't the only surprising thing about this launch, but also SpaceX managed to guide two of the Falcon Heavy's first-stage rocket boosters to land straight back on Earth. They landed in unison at a Kennedy Space Centre landing pad.
Falcon Heavy carried a red Tesla Roadster car belonging to SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk into space. The car was outfitted with a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, a high-data storage unit containing Isaac Asimov's science fiction book series, the Foundation Trilogy, and a plaque bearing the names of 6000 SpaceX employees.
Earlier, the only rocket that delivered more payload into the space was Saturn V moon rocket, which was last flown in 1973.
Indra Nooyi appointed as first independent female Director of ICC
PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi was on February 9, 2018 appointed as the Independent Director of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
With this, Nooyi became the first independent female Director of the ICC. Nooyi will join the ICC Board in June 2018 to align with the term of the ICC Independent Chairman.
The appointment came following the introduction of the appointment of an Independent Director of ICC, who must be female. The same was approved by the ICC Full Council in June 2017 as part of wide ranging constitutional change to improve the global governance of the sport.
Indra Nooyi is a global business leader and has been consistently ranked by Fortune Magazine among the World's Most Powerful Women.
Competition Commission of India fines Google Rs 136 crore for 'search bias'
The Competition Commission of India on February 7, 2018 imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on internet search giant Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.
The regulatory body took the decision after a detailed probe on the complaints filed in 2012. It said through a majority order that the penalty is being imposed on Google for ‘infringing anti-trust conduct’.
The ruling has come on complaints filed by Matrimony.com and Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) back in 2012 against Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd and Google Ireland Ltd.
In the complaints filed, it was alleged that Google is indulging in abuse of dominant position in the market for online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation.
Union Cabinet approves implementation of Prime Minister Research Fellows Scheme
The Union Cabinet on February 7, 2018 approved implementation of the 'Prime Minister's Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme' with a total outlay of Rs 1650 crore for a period of seven years beginning from Financial Year 2018-19.
Under this scheme, the best students who have completed or are in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc, IITs, NITs, IISERs and IIITs, will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs/IISc.
Students, who fulfil the eligibility criteria and get shortlisted through a selection process laid down in the PMRF Guidelines, will be offered a fellowship of Rs 70000 per month for the first two years, Rs 75000 per month for the 3rd year, and Rs 80000 per month in the 4th and 5th years.
A maximum of 3000 Fellows will be selected in a three year period beginning 2018-19.
Jerome H Powell sworn in as 16th Chairman of Federal Reserve
Jerome H Powell was on February 5, 2018 sworn in as the 16th Chairman of the Federal Reserve for a four-year term. Powell took the oath of office from Randal Quarles, the Fed's Vice-Chairman for supervision.
He pledged to support continued economic growth and a healthy job market while remaining cautious towards emerging economic risks.
His appointment as the Fed Chairman was approved by the US Senate in January 2018. Powell was nominated for the post in November 2017 by President Donald Trump.
Powell succeeds Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the US central bank in its 100-year history.
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation observed
The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation was observed on February 6, 2018. The day is observed every year to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The practice reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. It also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death.
None of the cities in India meet air quality standards of WHO: Greenpeace
According to a report, Airpocalypse, released by Greenpeace India, people living in eight of every 10 Indian cities breathe toxic dust particles, PM 10, at levels exceeding national safety limits.
The report mainly brings together data on the quality of air and presence of particulate matter in the atmosphere in over 280 cities across the country. In many of the cities, the air quality has reportedly gone down from bad to worse with the National Capital Territory of Delhi recording the worst air quality in the country.
Around 228 cities, which is more than 80% of the cities/town where Air Quality Monitoring data was available, have not been complying with the annual permissible concentration of 60µg/m⊃3; that is prescribed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
India contributes $1 mn to UN Development Partnership Fund
India on February 1, 2018 contributed an additional $1 million to the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, earmarked for South-South cooperation.
According to the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the contribution aims to intensify India’s partnerships with other developing countries.
India had pledged a multi-year contribution of $100 million to the fund established in June 2017 and has already provided $6 million within seven months of its launch. The fund focuses on the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Managed by the UNOSSC, the fund has developed an impressive portfolio of projects including in climate resilience, improving maternal health, youth employment, agricultural development, and infrastructure.
Union Government to launch KUSUM Scheme to encourage farmers for solar farming
The Union Government on February 2, 2018 announced to launch 1.4 lakh crore Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme to encourage farmers for solar farming. The Union Government will spend Rs 48000 crore on the scheme in ten year time span.
KUSUM Scheme aims for decentralized solar power production of up to 28250 megawatt (MW) over a period of five years. It will provide additional income to farmers by giving them option to sell additional power to the power grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands.
It will support the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the burden of subsidy to the agriculture sector and will support the States in meeting the Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs) targets.