Current Affairs – February 15, 2018

Small Savings Act amended to allow flexibility to investors

In order to remove existing ambiguities due to multiple acts and rules for small saving schemes and further strengthen the objective of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance“, the Finance Ministry recently proposed a merger of the Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and the Public Provident Fund (PPF) Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873.
With a single act, relevant provisions of the Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 would stand subsumed in the new amended act without compromising on any of the functional provision of the existing act. All existing protections have been retained while consolidating PPF Act under the proposed Government Savings Promotion Act. No existing benefits to depositors are proposed to be taken away through this process, the ministry said.

West Bengal becomes first to opt out of ‘Modicare’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opted out of the Centre’s National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS). The scheme, which was announced in Union Budget 2018-19, clashes with a similar scheme called ‘Swasthya Sathi’ of the state. It has already enrolled 45 lakh families covering 2.5 crore population and won’t contribute to the programme, Banerjee said. With this, the state becomes the first in the country to withdraw from the ambitious scheme.
“The Centre has drawn up a health plan in which 40 percent of the fund has to come from states. But why should the state spend on another programme when it already has its own? A state will have its own scheme if it has the resources,” she said. Under NHPS, the Centre will bear 60 % of the cost by setting aside Rs 2,000 crore in the Budget and wants states to fund the balance, the cost of which is pegged at around Rs 10,000 crore a year.
Governor of West Bengal is Keshari Nath Tripathi.

Tamil Nadu win maiden Senior Women’s National Football championship

Tamil Nadu beat Manipur 2-1 to lift their maiden title in the 23rd edition of the Senior Women’s National Football Championship on 14, February. Tamil Nadu created history by becoming champions in their first-ever final with Indumathi scoring the opener in the 3rd minute while Indrani made it 2-0 in the 40th minute. Ratanbala scored the lone goal for Manipur in the 57th minute. Indumathi has also adjudged the Player of the Final as well as the Tournament for her superlative performances. AIFF vice-president, Subrata Dutta, who was the chief guest at the final congratulated the team on its success. “I congratulate the Tamil Nadu team on winning the Senior Women’s Championship. Their first final and they created history. They were excellent on the field and certainly deserved to win.”
Tamil Nadu governor is Banwarilal Purohit.
Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu is Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Meghalaya Governor Inaugurates India, Bangladesh ‘Friendship Gate’

Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad inaugurated the “Friendship Gate” constructed with an aim to have a Wagah-like beating retreat ceremony for the Indian and Bangladesh border guards. The Friendship Gate has been constructed between India and Bangladesh near the Integrated check post, Dawki 90 Km south of Shillong. During the inauguration, the governor spoke about how tourism would be promoted in the area.
The Governor during his visit also met the Border Guard of Bangladesh’s Additional Director, Zahid Hasan. Sweets were distributed to both troops present there. BSF Meghalaya frontier IG P.K. Dubey said that soon there would people from both sides of the border who would enjoy the beating retreat ceremony at the check post. The ceremony will be performed by the BSF and BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh). During his visit, the governor also inaugurated the new BDF border outpost Umsyiem.

PM Modi’s Oman visit: Indian Navy can now access Duqm port

The Indian Navy will now be able to use the facilities at Duqm port in Oman following the signing of a pact between the two countries, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, that will give India a foothold in its extended neighborhood. The port will act as India’s entry point for wider West Asia and Eastern Africa, a welcome development at a time when China has deployed strategic assets in the Indian Ocean Region, experts said. India’s interest in Duqm port, which is merely at a 40-minute flight distance from Mumbai, has been necessitated by the fact that the Chinese navy has increased its activities in the western part of the Indian Ocean Region besides setting up a military base in Djibouti.
Oman is strategically situated mid-way between India’s western coast and Africa’s eastern coast and has been an old maritime power in the region whose reach stretched from modern-day Pakistan to the eastern part of Africa. India is eyeing partnership with Oman as well as France for its strategic outreach in the western part of the Indian Ocean Region.
Capital: Muscat
Currency: Omani Rial

President hosts LPG Panchayat at Rashtrapati Bhavan

President Ram Nath Kovind on 13, February hosted the LPG Panchayat at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The LPG Panchayat was organized by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with an aim to provide a platform for LPG consumers to interact with each other, promote mutual learning and share experiences, read an official note. Each LPG Panchayat has about 100 LPG customers coming together, near their living areas, to discuss safe and sustainable usage of LPG, its benefits and the link between clean fuel for cooking and women’s empowerment, it added. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is expected to conduct at least 1 lakh Panchayats across the country before March 31, 2019.
Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas: Dharmendra Pradhan

Ashok Das appointed Indian envoy to Brazil

Ashok Das, a 1987 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, was named India’s new Ambassador to Brazil. Das, presently additional secretary in the external affairs ministry, is expected to take up his assignment shortly, according to a ministry statement. Das earlier served as India’s Ambassador to Iceland. He has also served in the Indian diplomatic missions in Portugal, Cambodia, US, Canada and Bangladesh.
Both India and Brazil are members of the BRICS economic grouping that also includes China, Russia, and South Africa. Both are also, along with Germany and Japan, in the G4, which is seeking permanent membership for its participants in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council. India and Brazil, along with South Africa, are part of the IBSA Dialogue Forum that is aimed at promoting South-South cooperation and greater understanding between African, Asian and South American countries.

Equitas Small Finance Bank launches selfeSavings

Equitas Small Finance Bank, the first private sector bank from Tamil Nadu post-Independence, has launched ‘selfeSavings’, an interactive digital savings account. the selfesavings account can be opened with a web-based interactive video form hosted on www.equitasbank.com by using the Aadhaar number, PAN and other basic details, all in under five minutes. selfeSavings, with no minimum balance requirement, pay interest at 6% per annum for balance below Rs 10 lakh and 6.5% interest rate on balance above Rs 10 lakh.
“It allows customers to make online money transfers for free (IMPS, NEFT and RTGS) and comes with a Virtual Visa Debit Card which you can use to shop online,” the bank said. “Customers can deposit money into their selfeSavings account via a payment gateway using any form factor such as debit card or net banking or wallets,” it said. With effect from February 16, 2017, Equitas SFB became a scheduled bank.
Headquarters: Chennai
Established: 2007

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