1.   Panel lead by M Venkaiah Naidu to look into Jat reservation issue 

(i) With the view to address the escalating issue of Jat Reservation, a committee under Union Minister and senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu was set up to look into the issue of Jat  reservation and submit a report to the Centre. 

(ii) The decision followed after a meeting was held between the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with leaders of some Jat khap panchayats.

(iii) Mr. Singh added, “While the committee will prepare a comprehensive report on Jat reservation, the Haryana government will introduce a Bill in the State Assembly to provide for reservation for Jats in the State.”

2. US to carry out anti-dumping probe on tyres from India and Sri Lanka

(i) Recently, a US investigative body decided to carry out anti-dumping investigations into certain category of tyres imported from India and Sri Lanka that may damage US’ domestic industry. 

(ii) The decision followed after all the six commissioners of the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) agreed that there is enough indication that the US industry is materially injured by the imports of new pneumatic off-the-road tyres, which are available in market at less-than-fair rates and subsidised by Indian and Sri Lankan governments. 

3. India set to sign major power deal with Bangladesh 

(i) As per recent reports, India is set to finalise a major power deal with Bangladesh, making it the biggest project by an indian power firm — bigger than the plant already built in Rwanda or the one proposed in Sri Lanka. 

(ii) The state run Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL) will seal a contract to build a $1.6 billion power plant in Bangladesh. 

(iii) China and India, have recently been involved in commercial tussle, being the two dominant regional powers and this step will be seen as Indian victory over Beijing’s encroachment onto territory in India’s neighbourhood. 

4. Faustin Touadera wins Presidential elections in Central African Republic

(i) Recently, former Prime Minster Faustin Touadera was elected president of the Central African Republic (CAR) in a run-off contest. Touadera received close to 63% of the votes, defeating his opponent Anicet Dologuele who won just over 37%.

(ii) His campaign highlighted the need to restore security and throughout his campaign he presented himself as a peacemakers between the Christian-Muslim divide and improve nation’s economy.

(iii) CAR , has been through a period of violent sectarian unrest following the seizure of power by Muslim Seleka rebels in 2013.

(iv) An estimated fifth of the country’s population is either internally displaced or was forced to escape the country due to poverty, ethnic conflicts and lack of security.

5. EU to hold migration summit with Turkey in March 

(i) The European Union (EU) decided to hold a special summit with Turkey in March this year to deal with the migrant crisis. The summit will coordinate efforts to reduce the flow of migrants across the Aegean Sea in Greece. 

(ii) In a statement, the EU Council President Donald Tusk said, “The EU’s joint action plan with Turkey remains a priority and we must do all we can to succeed.” 

(iii) Presently, over 2 million refugees are in Turkey and a majority of them are from Syria. The EU has promised billions of euros, relaxation of visa restrictions and fast-track membership for Turkey in order to convince it to tighten border controls.

6. Prasar Bharati signs MoU with Brazil’s Empressa de Brazil Communicacao

(i) In a recent, Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcasting agency signed a Memorandum of          Understanding (MoU) with Brazil’s Empressa de Brazil Communicacao (EBC) with the view to exchange  TV and radio news, programs on football, culture, cuisine, carnivals and drama and co-produce shows between the two countries. 

(ii) The agreement to this effect was signed between Jawhar Sircar, the CEO of Prasar Bharati and EBC’s vice president Mario in Brazil. India has already signed such pacts with other countries. 

(iii) In December 2015, India signed pact with Russia to jointly produce and exchange TV programs and related services and in May 2015 India also tied with up with Doordarshan and the Chinese state run China Central Television (CCTV).

7.  Japan launches ASTRO- H satellite

(i) Japan recently launched the ASTRO H satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center in order to study X-rays emanating from black holes in space. 

(ii) The satellite has been developed in collaboration with NASA and other space agencies. It will be set to orbit at an altitude of about 360 miles and observe X-rays originating from black holes and galaxy clusters.

(iii) Till date, back holes have never been directly observed, however, the announcement of the detection of gravitational waves earlier in February 2016 added to the evidence of black holes’ existence. 

8. Indologist David Schulman wins Israel Prize for religious studies

(i) Renowned Indologist Professor David Dean Shulman was recently awarded the Israel Prize for Religious Studies. 

(ii) Shulman, a professor of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is widely known for his groundbreaking research in on the religion, literature, and culture of south India. He is also recognised for his command over several Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. 

(iii) Israel Prize is the nation’s highest honour and is presented annually on Independence Day to those who have shown excellence in their fields, or have contributed immensely to Israeli culture.

9. Arunachal Pradesh celebrates 30th Statehood Day on February 20th 

(i) On February 20, 2016, Arunachal Pradesh celebrated its 30th Statehood Day. Statehood was conferred on Arunachal Pradesh on this day in 1987. 

(ii) The event was declared open by the Governor JP Rajkhowa in the presence of the newly sworn-in Chief Minister Kalikho Pul. 

(iii) In his first address to the state, CM Pul stated that he would restructure all the developmental activities of the state. He assured people of a need-based and balanced development during his regime. 

(iv) With the maxim and the theme “My city, My pride! I’ll Clean It”, the ‘Clean Arunachal Fortnight’ was observed from February 1 to 13 as a curtain raiser to the celebrations.

10. Andhra Pradesh saves 421 million units of power in 2015 using LED bulbs

(i) An independent survey conducted by Andhra University and Engineering Staff College of India – has revealed that the state saved about 421 mn unit of power, in 2015 given the state government’s push to use of LED bulbs in four of the 13 districts. 

(ii) As per reports, the state government distributed 57.03 lakh LED bulbs in Anantapuram, Guntur, West Godavari and Srikakulam districts, with a total 1.75 crore bulbs being distributed in all the 13 districts as against the target of 1.87 crore. The study covered 57,667 households in the four districts and revealed that 421 million unit of power was saved. 

(iii) The study will be formally released by Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal at a function in Nellore on February 27 in the presence of Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. 

11. Axis Bank partners with Suvidhaa to offer loans to urban poor

(i) The private sector lender Axis Bank recently, tied up with domestic remittance company Suvidhaa in order to lend to the urban poor. This will be a boon for taxi drivers, rickshaw pullers, tailors, etc., who struggle to get loans as bank consider them to be mere workers and not entrepreneurs. 

(ii) As per the new partnership, people with no formal credit score or requisite collateral will also be granted loans.

(iii) Rajiv Anand, head of retail banking at Axis Bank said, “Suvidhaa has been our business correspondent for a long time and we have been doing payments, remittances for their customers, so credit was the only next logical step.”

12. Aditya Birla nuvo ltd. in joint venture with idea cellular to set up a payments bank

(i) Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd announced a joint venture with Idea Cellular to set up a payments bank. 

(ii) In August 2015, RBI had given in-principle approval to the company to set up a payments bank. For the same, Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. has incorporated a new subsidiary under the name Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd. 

(iii) As per a company statement, “ABNL will hold 51 per cent shares and the rest 49 per cent by Idea Cellular.”

13. Bollywood lyricist Sameer Anjan enters Guinness book of records

(i) Recently, Bollywood lyricist Sameer Anjan was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for penning the highest number of Bollywood song lyrics ever. 

(ii) Till December 2015, he had written 3524 songs for 650 films in a career spanning 33 years. 

(iii) Anjan, whose real name is Shitala Pandey, began his career in 1983. His first song appeared in the movie ‘Bekhabar.’ 

14. World Social Justice Day observed on February 20

(i) Every year February 20th is observed as the World Social Justice Day. 

(ii) The theme for this year is, A Just Transition – environmentally sustainable economies and societies. 

(iii) The United Nation General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, and urged the member nations to promote national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

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