Current Affairs February 15, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of February 15, 2019 in Short Notes form for preparation of IBPS, Banking, CLAT, SSC, Railway, UPSC, IAS/PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, MPPSC, RPSC, TNPSC, MPSC, KPSC and all other competitive examinations of India.

1. Sushil Chandra, an IRS-IT officer of the 1980 batch, has assumed charge as the new Election Commissioner (EC) of India on 15th of February 2019. Prior to joining ECI, he was the Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).With his appointment, the Commission now has Sunil Arora as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Ashok Lavasa and Mr Chandra as the two commissioners. The Commission is expected to announce the date and the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls by the end of this month.

2. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind will present the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony to Rajkumar Singhajit Singh; Chhayanaut (a cultural organization of Bangladesh); and Ram Sutar Vanji for the years 2014, 2015 & 2016 respectively on 18th of February 2019 at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi. Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony was instituted by the Government of India from 2012 recognizing the contributions made by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore to humanity at large with his works and ideas, as part of the Commemoration of his 150thBirth Anniversary in 2012, for promoting values of Cultural Harmony. It is awarded annually and carries an amount of Rs. One Crore (convertible to foreign currency), a citation in a Scroll, a Plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft ( or handloom) item.

3. On 15th February, the Government of India (GoI), Government of Himachal Pradesh (GoHP) and the World Bank signed a $40 Million Loan Agreement to help bring clean and reliable drinking water to the citizens of the Greater Shimla area, who have been facing severe water shortages and water-borne epidemics over the last few years. The Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage Service Delivery Reform Programmatic Development Policy Loan 1 is expected to improve water supply and sanitation (WSS) services in and around the iconic hill city of Shimla. The $40 Million Loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 4-year grace period and a maturity of 15.5 years.

4. The World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) is The Energy and Resources Institute's (TERI) annual flagship event. The 2019 edition of WSDS was held in New Delhi with theme 'Attaining the 2030 Agenda: Delivering on Our Promise' on 11th-13th February. It was inaugurated by the Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu. The WSDS brings together Nobel laureates, political leaders, decision-makers from bilateral and multilateral institutions, business leaders, high-level functionaries from the diplomatic corps, scientists and researchers, media personnel, and members of civil society; on a common platform to deliberate on issues related to sustainable development.

5. Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, has been conferred with 'Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2019' at the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS-2019) in New Delhi. He won the award for his outstanding contributions towards sustainable development in Fiji. The summit reiterated India's vision for a greener tomorrow and to focus on energy transitions, clean oceans, mobilising development finance, environmental sustainability and sustainable mobility. Over 2000 delegates and speakers from over 40 countries participated in the summit. The summit was organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). At the event, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has collaborated with TERI to set up a Resource Efficiency Cell to help frame blueprint for national integrated resource efficiency policy. The cell will enable inter-ministerial and inter-departmental synergy in promoting material resource efficiency in India while helping frame the blueprint of the integrated resource efficiency policy for India.

6. On 13th Feb, Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik launched the e-AUSHADHI portal for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters at New Delhi. The portal is aimed at increasing transparency, and improving information management, data usability and accountability. The acronym for new e-portal is ‘Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Automated Drug Help Initiative’. The timelines would be fixed for processing of applications through the portal with text message and e-mail status updates at each step of the process. This portal will not only aid the licensing authority , manufactures and consumers, as it will provide real time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.

7. Pramod Chandra Mody, a 1982 batch Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax cadre), has been appointed as the new chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the top policy making body of income tax department,. He succeeded Sushil Chandra, who was named as an new Election Commissioner (EC) of India. The CBDT Chairperson is ex-officio special secretary and is under the direct charge of the revenue secretary of India. He is placed above the officers of the rank of Lieutenant-General, Vice-Admiral or Air Marshal, CBI Director and Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the Order of Precedence.

8. On 10th of February, the 72nd British Academy Film Awards 2019 were held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical black-and-white drama “Roma” claimed the top prize of best film, alongside director and cinematography honours. “Roma” also won the BAFTA for film not in the English language. “The Favourite” dominated the ceremony with seven wins, including for leading actress (Olivia Colman), supporting actress (Rachel Weisz) and outstanding British film. First-time nominee Rami Malek won the best actor award for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The highest honour ‘the BAFTA fellowship’ was given to film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, a three-time Oscar winner. The special BAFTA award for outstanding British contribution to cinema was presented to producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley of Number 9 Films.

9. India’s first engine-less Semi-High Speed Train (SHST), “Vande Bharat Express" has been flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on New Delhi-Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi route train from the New Delhi Railway Station on 15th February 2019. Vande Bharat Express can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like Shatabdi Train but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers. The Train will cover the distance between New Delhi and Varanasi in 8 hours and will run on all days except Mondays and Thursdays. All coaches are equipped with automatic doors, GPS based audio-visual passenger information system, on-board hotspot Wi-Fi for entertainment purposes, and very comfortable seating. All toilets are bio-vacuum type. The lighting is dual mode, viz. diffused for general illumination and personal for every seat. Every coach has a pantry with facility to serve hot meals, hot and cold beverages. The insulation is meant to keep heat and noise to very low levels for additional passenger comfort. The train has 16 air-conditioned coaches of which 2 are executive class coaches. The total seating capacity is 1,128 passengers.

10. India has recently signed a security protection agreement with Sweden that will enable both countries to share classified information with each other. The agreement was signed on during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to the Nordic country. Sweden has had similar agreements with over 30 countries around the world, as well as with the EU and NATO. The Nordic countries are generally considered to refer to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, including their associated territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands).

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