Cabinet approves ‘PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ for digital education
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural households digitally literate. The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March 2019. This is in line with the announcement made by Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17.
ii. PMGDISHA is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world. Under the scheme, 25 lakh candidates will be trained in the FY 2016-17; 275 lakh in the FY 2017-18; and 300 lakh in the FY 2018-19. To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the 250,000 Gram Panchayats would be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
India & US agree to sustain momentum on defence efforts
i. India and US have agreed to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defence efforts. US Defence Secretary James Mattis telephoned Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and expressed commitment to building upon the tremendous progress made in bilateral defence cooperation.
US Senate votes to confirm Jeff Sessions as next US Attorney General
i. In the US, Senate voted to confirm Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States. The Alabama senator is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement and his early support of President Donald Trump who nominated him for the job. The session was confirmed by a 52-47 vote.
Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Presents Rs 2,350 crore Deficit Budget 2017-18
i. The Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma presented the state Budget for the session 2017-18 on February 7, 2017 in the state assembly. The budget was based on the theme “Resurgent Assam”.
ii. As per the Minister the state Budget, 2017-18 was Rs. 2,349.79 crore deficit Budget. The budget presented merged Plan and Non-Plan expenditures.The Government has redefined the role of Planning & Development Department. The department has been rechristened to the Department for Development and Transformation of Assam (DDTA).
India & Austria Signs Protocol to Amend Bilateral Taxation Treaty
i. India and Austria signed a protocol to amend the existing bilateral taxation treaty for Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion.The protocol was signed between Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra on behalf of India and Embassy of Austria Charge d’ Affaires Georg Zehetner behalf of Austria.
ii. The protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of the exchange of tax related information. This will help to curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two nations as well as enable mutual assistance in relation to collecting taxes.
RBI to set up panel on strengthening cyber security
i. In a bid to strengthen cyber security system, the Reserve Bank (RBI) decided to set up an inter-disciplinary panel on cyber security to examine various threats and suggest measures to deal with it. The panel will review the threats inherent in the existing or emerging technology on an ongoing basis. Besides, it will also study the adoption of various security standards/protocols and also act as the interface with stakeholders.
ii. The committee will suggest appropriate policy interventions strengthen cyber security and resilience.The decision has been taken based on the recommendations of the expert panel on information technology examination and cyber security headed by Meena Hemachandra.
Arunachal Becomes First NE State to Implement e-Cabinet Solution
i. Arunachal Pradesh has become the first state in the northeast to implement e-cabinet solution for the state cabinet members.Using this system, the cabinet members can access the cabinet notes before the meeting. The entire business of the Cabinet can be conducted using the e-Cabinet solution. e-Cabinet is a powerful tool that the Arunachal Pradesh government plans to use to streamline its decision-making process.
04th BIMSTEC Summit to be Held in Nepal in 2017
i. The 17th session of the senior officials’ meeting of the BIMSTEC in Kathmandu. The Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal informed during the 17th BIMSTEC-SOM meeting in Kathmandu that the 4th BIMSTEC Summit would be hosted by Nepal in 2017. Earlier in 2016, the 4th Summit was scheduled to be held in Nepal, but due to some political reasons, Kathmandu was unable to host the event last year.
ii. Besides, being the head of the group, its Nepal turn to host the summit .As per the statement by the PM’s Secretariat, the agenda for the summit would include connectivity, energy and economic development.Presently, the BIMSTEC is chaired by Nepal. It was founded in 1997 to bring together Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
China becomes world’s largest producer of solar power
i. China has surpassed Germany to become the world’s largest producer of solar energy after nearly doubling its installed photovoltaic capacity in 2016.
ii. With the increased capacity, China generated 66.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy last year, which however accounted for only 1% of its electrical output. The country further plans to double its current solar energy capacity by 2020.
PNB Housing Finance limited & CREDAI-West Bengal Signs MoU to train construction workers in West Bengal
i. Addressing the need of pacing up constructions with skilled labour that would result in quicker delivery and hand over, PNB Housing Finance Limited (PNBHFL) has signed an MOU with CREDAI West Bengal to train 1000 construction workers in Kolkata and nearby villages.
ii. CREDAI-Bengal would also be setting up permanent (off-site) skill development centres in Medinipur and Murshidabad – places with the huge concentration of construction labour.
IDFC Bank, IndiaLends tie-up for loan services to 1st timers
i. Private sector lender IDFC Bank has collaborated with fintech startup IndiaLends to enable first-time borrowers who do not have a credit history to take loans. Loan requests by salaried applicants without credit history will now be processed on a real time basis. The unique solution is being offered through a tie-up with IndiaLends, a financial technology startup.
CBDT signs four more Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)
i. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) on 08th February 2017. The four APAs signed pertain to the Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Contract Manufacturing, IT Enabled Services and Software Development Services.
ii. With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. This includes 8 bilateral APAs and 122 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed before the end of the current fiscal.
IAAF Bans Russia From 2017 London World Athletics Championships
i. Russia will miss August’s World Athletics Championships in London after their doping ban was extended, the world governing body president Sebastien Coe said.
ii. Russia has been barred from international competition since November 2015 following a damaging report alleging that state-sponsored doping was rife in the country. The ban had already been extended in March and then June 2016, preventing Russia’s athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics.
Freedom fighter Racharla Samrajyam Dies at 98
i. Racharla Samrajyam, a veteran freedom fighter, passed away following age-related illness at Vishakhapatnam. She was 98.
She was inspired by the Quit India Movement at the time when she was undergoing Hindi Pracharak training at Anantapur in 1942. It was at this point of time, she had quit the training programme and joined the Quit India Movement.
Col Nizamuddin who drove around Netaji has passed away
i. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s driver and INA veteran ‘Colonel’ Nizamuddin has passed away in his native village of Dhakwa in Azamgarh after a prolonged illness.
ii. Born in 1901, Nizamuddin was over 116 years old. He is survived by his wife Ajbul Nisha, three sons and two daughters. His youngest son Sheikh Akram. ‘Colonel’ Nizamuddin, who had served in the Indian National Army from 1943-45, had proclaimed himself as one of the most trusted lieutenants of Netaji.
Govt sells 2% stake in ITC, raises Rs 6.7k cr
i. The government has sold two per cent stake in ITC to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and earned Rs 6,690 crore (around $1 billion) as part of its divestment plan for 2016-17. The stake, held under the so-called Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), was sold at Rs 275.85 per share through block deals. According to stock exchange data, the stake was picked up by LIC, LIC (Scheme 5) and LIC Allocation Contra Fund.
ii. This is the second SUUTI divestment this financial year. In November 2016, the Centre had divested 1.63 per cent stake in engineering major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to raise Rs 2,100 crore. State Bank of India (SBI) had picked up shares worth Rs 800 crore in the share sale.
Govt appoints 3 directors on RBI Central Board
i. The Government has appointed three part-time Non-Official Directors on the all-powerful Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India for a four-year term. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has appointed Ashok Gulati, Manish Sabharwal and Rajiv Kumar as part-time Non-Official Directors on the Central Board.
ii. Stating this, the Department of Personnel and Training said the appointments are for a period of four years. Further, the ACC has also approved the proposal of Department of Financial Services for the appointment of three Members of the Local Board of RBI. Prasanna Kumar Mohanty (Southern Local Board), Vallabh Roopchand Bhanshali (Western Local Board) and Sunil Mitra (Eastern Local Board) have been appointed for four years. The RBI’s affairs are governed by the Central Board of Directors. The board is appointed by the government.