Current Affairs 18th February 2021

1. Brooks-LaSure: 1st Black woman to head CMS

President Joe Biden has picked Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She will be the 1st Black woman to head CMS, which has under its umbrella Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, and the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. CMS, the linchpin of the health care system, is the agency that oversees govt. health insurance programs.

2. India hosts workshop on COVID-19 Management

India hosted a workshop on “COVID-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward” on 18 Feb 2021. 10 countries – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka participated in it. Each country was invited to participate in one plus one format – Health Secretary and Head of their Technical Team in charge of COVID management.

3. 3-day training programme for onboarding PIAS

In J&K, Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Sheetal Nanda inaugurated a three-day training programme for onboarding of Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs) under HIMAYAT on the ‘Kaushal Bharat’ portal. It was inaugurated on 17 Feb 2021. The web-based application is a nationwide initiative where data from all states and UTs is collected for quality analytical reports.

4. Amazon to manufacture electronics products

Amazon India will start manufacturing electronics products in India. To begin with, it is going to start manufacturing Amazon Fire TV sticks from India. Amazon will commence its manufacturing efforts with contract manufacturer Cloud Network Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn in Chennai, and start production later in 2021.

5. Jal Jeevan Mission reaches new milestone

The Jal Jeevan Mission has reached a new milestone by providing 3 crores 53 lakh rural household tap water connections. The mission was announced by PM Narendra Modi in 2019 to provide a tap water connection to every rural household by 2024. As of 15th August 2019, out of 18.93 crore rural households, only 17 percent had tap water connections.

6. Govt approves proposals worth over Rs. 363cr

Food Processing Industries Ministry has approved proposals worth over 363 crore rupees to increase the level of processing and value addition of horticultural and agricultural produce. This will increase the income of the farmers and create employment at the local level. The approval was given in the two Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee meetings.

7. 3rd edition of ISL Dictionary released

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually released the third edition of the Indian Sign Language Dictionary, on 17 Feb 2021. The new dictionary contains 10 thousand terms of everyday use including academic, legal, administrative, medical, technical, and agricultural terms. The dictionary also contains regional signs used in different parts of the country.

8. Enhanced delegation of financial powers

The cabinet has approved the enhanced delegation of financial powers under capital procurement to levels below Vice-Chief of Armed Forces. Under Other Capital Procurement Procedure of Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020, financial powers up to Rs 100cr have been delegated to General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Indian Coast Guard.

9. PM to address Convocation of Visva Bharati

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Convocation of Visva-Bharati on 19 February 2021. A total of 2535 students will receive their degrees during the convocation ceremony. Visva-Bharati was founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. It is the oldest Central University in the country.

10. PM Modi to inaugurate projects in Kerala

PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of key projects of the power and urban sector in Kerala on 19 February 2021. He will inaugurate the 320 KV Pugalur – Thrissur Power Transmission Project. It is a voltage source convertor-based High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Project and has India’s first HVDC link featuring state-of-the-art VSC technology

11. India supplied corona vaccines to 25 countries

Made in India COVID vaccines were supplied to 25 nations and 49 countries across the world will be added soon. This was announced by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar while speaking at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Open Debate on Implementation of Resolution 2532. 2 lakh doses will be given as a gift to UN Peacekeepers as well.

12. 24 foreign diplomats visit Jammu

The delegation of foreign envoys from Europe and Africa is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from 17 Feb 2021. They were briefed by top officials of the Indian Army and J&K Police about the security situation in the Union Territory on 18 Feb 2021. Grassroot Democracy and decentralization remained the focus of envoys’ interactions in Srinagar yesterday

13. Ramakrishna’s birth anniversary: 18 February

18 February marks the birth anniversary of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Born on 18 February 1836, Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, who came to be known as Ramakrishna later in life, hailed from a poor Brahmin family from Kamarpukur village, in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. The saint was given the title of ‘Paramhansa’ by his Vedantic guru, Totapuri, a monk from Punjab.

14. Cabinet approves Rs. 12,195 crore PLI

The Union Cabinet has approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) of Rs. 12,195 cr to locally manufactured telecom and networking equipment. The scheme will reduce the country’s imports of telecom equipment worth over Rs. 50,000 crores. Currently, India imports 85% of its wireless telecom equipment even as it is preparing for a rollout of the 5G service, which needs robust network and infrastructure.

15. ADB to provide Rs 100 crore loan to Medanta

The Asian Development Bank will provide Rs 100 cr loan to hospital chain Medanta for healthcare services and medical equipment to fight the COVID pandemic. The project will support the purchase of personal protective equipment, basic hygiene products, and patient care equipment such as ventilators and beds. It will also support staff training programs on infection prevention and control.

16. Dhanasekaran: TN Information Commissioner

The Tamil Nadu govt has appointed P. Dhanasekaran and M. Sreedhar as State Information Commissioners in the Tamil Nadu Information Commission. Their appointment comes after R. Dhakshinamurthy and G. Murugan ceased to hold the post. They will hold office for a term of 3 years from the date on which they enter their office or the date on which they attain 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.

17. Andhra CM conferred Skoch CM of the Year award

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has been conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year award. The award was presented to him by the Chairman, Skoch Group, Sameer Kochhar, at the CM’s camp office on 16 Feb 2021. The award selection was based on a study of project-level outcomes in various states.

18. Mahender Singh Kanyal: Ambassador to Syria

Senior diplomat Mahender Singh Kanyal has been appointed as the next Indian Ambassador to Syria. Kanyal, who is presently Ambassador of India to Suriname, is expected to take up the assignment shortly. India is also gifting 2,000 metric tonnes of rice to Syria following a request from the Arab republic.

19. Women Excellence Award 2021

Four young women fellows of the Indian National Science Academy have been awarded the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) Women Excellence Award 2021. The four women scientists include Shobhna Kapoor, Antara Banerjee, Sonu Gandhi, and Ritu Gupta. All four women received a grant of Rs. 15 lakh for a period of three years to pursue their research ideas.

20. Rajasthan govt amends prison rules

The Rajasthan government has amended Rajasthan Prison Rules to do away with a caste-based assignment of labor. The state government has made three amendments to these rules. Earlier, Rule 67 on “Cooking of Food” under Section 2 had said, “any Brahmin or sufficiently high caste Hindu prisoner from this class is eligible for appointment as a cook”. Now, this line is among those removed.

21. GE Power Conversion, GRSE ink pact

GE Power Conversion and Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers signed a pact on 16 Feb 21 to collaborate on propulsion system design. GE Power Conversion is a pioneer in the field of integrated, full electric, and hybrid propulsion systems for commercial and military naval sectors globally. GRSE is a shipbuilding company in India under the administrative control of the defense ministry.

22. Karnataka govt. mandates RT-PCR test.

The Karnataka govt made it mandatory for passengers arriving from South Africa and Brazil to the state to undergo RT-PCR tests and 14 days quarantine in view of two more variants of COVID-19 being identified in these countries. The RT-PCR test should be done by passengers on arrival at Bengaluru Airport. Earlier govt had made it mandatory for all passengers coming from the U.K.

23. 3rd India-Australia-Japan-USA ministers Meet

The 3rd India-Australia-Japan-USA Ministerial Meeting will be held with the participation of the respective Foreign Ministers on 18 Feb 21. The Ministers will exchange views on regional and global issues especially practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The previous meeting was held in October 2020.

24. PM to launch several projects in Assam

PM Modi will launch the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative, lay the foundation stone of Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge and perform Bhoomi Poojan for the construction of Majuli Bridge in Assam on 18 Feb 21. The launch of Mahabahu-Brahmaputra will be marked by the inauguration of the Ro-Pax vessel operations. These projects will boost tourism, local employment, and business, better connectivity in Assam.

25. Argentina receives 5,80,000 doses of vaccine

Argentina received 5,80,000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from India’s Serum Institute on 17 Feb 2021. The delivery of the shot will raise the country’s total vaccine count to nearly 1.8 million. The vaccine was developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University but produced by the Serum Institute, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines,

26. Govt’s new instant messaging platform: Sandes

The National Informatics Centre has launched an instant messaging platform called Sandes on the lines of WhatsApp. Like WhatsApp, the new NIC platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone with a mobile number or email id. Further, as an additional safety feature, it allows a user to mark a message as confidential.

27. INS Karanj delivered to Indian Navy

The Indian Navy is all set to get its third Scorpene-class submarine in March 2021, with the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) handing over the sub to the force in Feb 2021. The submarine has been handed over to the Navy three years after sea trials began in January 2018. INS Kalavari was the first such submarine that was commissioned into the Indian Navy in October 2017.

28. Tata Electronics signs MoU with Tamil Nadu

Tata Electronics has signed an MoU with the Tamil Nadu government to set up a facility for manufacturing mobile components. Tata Electronics Rs. 4684 crore project in Krishnagiri is for manufacturing mechanical enclosures for mobile phones. The state also signed an MoU with Grasim Industries to establish a paint manufacturing unit at Cheyyar with an investment of Rs. 750 crore.

29. Theodore Baskaran wins an award

Writer, historian, naturalist, and activist, S Theodore Baskaran has won the Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award 2020. He was awarded for his dedication to wildlife conservation and his writing prowess in English and Tamil that contribute to the conservation discourse. Theodore is prolific in Tamil and some of his Tamil works include Vaanil Parakkum Pullelam and Kal Mel Nadandha Kaalam.

30. Kochi Water Metro’s first route inaugurated

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has inaugurated the first route and terminal buildings of Kochi Water Metro. The project aims to connect the islands around the city using state-of-the-art boats. The route from Vyttila, one of the busiest traffic hubs in the city, to Kakkanad, the IT hub, was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 16 Feb 2021.

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