Current Affairs – February 19, 2018

PM Modi lays foundation stone for Navi Mumbai international airport   

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the Rs16,700 crore-Navi Mumbai international airport, which is expected to ease flight operations at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that Mumbai’s second airport would see its first flight next year, even as he acknowledged that aviation infrastructure in India is lagging growth. Modi inaugurated the much-delayed Rs 16,000-crore project, seen as an imperative alternative to the existing Mumbai airport, which is bursting at its seams. He mentioned the airport as one of the Rs 10 lakh crores of projects pending since before his government came to power. Mumbai International Airport Ltd runs the current airport and has the mandate to build the new one, touted as India’s largest greenfield airport projects. The consortium consists of GVK Industries, Airports Company South Africa and Bidvest. They together hold 74% of the existing Mumbai airport and the state-run Airports Authority of India holds the rest


Air Odisha takes wings, launches maiden flight under UDAN

Air Odisha on Saturday launched its maiden services under the regional connectivity scheme UDAN with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani inaugurating the first flight to Mundra from Gujarat. The Bhubaneswar-based carrier, mandated to fly on 50 regional routes, had received its scheduled commuter operator (SCO) permit from the aviation regulator DGCA last Tuesday. The permit allows a carrier to operate as a scheduled commuter airline. Significantly, Air Odisha, promoted by the Radhakant Pani family of Odisha, has offloaded 60 percent stake to the Ahmedabad-based firms GSEC Aviation and Monarch Network. Besides Mundra, the carrier also rolled out services on the Ahmedabad-Jamnagar route and plans to launch flights to Diu from Ahmedabad as well in the first phase of rollout, Air Deccan founder G R Gopinath said.


IFC, PNB Housing Fin to create $800m pool for affordable homes         

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of the World Bank Group, has finalized plans to provide fresh funding of close to $1 billion (over `6,400 crore) for affordable green homes, including creation of a joint pool of $800 million (over `5,100 crore) with PNB Housing Finance (PNBHFL). The pool, for which a part of the funds will be raised through Masala bond issue, will finance the construction of affordable homes. IFC is also in negotiations with two other housing finance companies to invest another $150 million (around `1,000 crore), as well as with property developers to aid the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, sources told TOI. This comes on top of the $800 million facilities IFC created with HDFC last year to fund construction of affordable homes.


PM Modi to address global IT event on February 19           

Prime Minister will deliver the inaugural address at the World Congress on Information Technology 2018 (WCIT), beginning here from February 19 at Hyderabad. Telangana Principal Secretary for IT and Industries Jayesh Ranjan has confirmed that Modi will be delivering the inaugural address through a video link, being organised by the software industry lobby Nasscom along with state government. This is for the first time that the WICT is being held in the country. The WCIT’s official page on the Nasscom website also indicates that Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, state Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Sophia the humanoid are expected to attend the 3-day event. Other key speakers include Navdeep Bains, Canadian minister, Hans-Paul Bürkner, BCG chairman, and chief national coach of the badminton team Pullela Gopichand, Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen, actress Deepika Padukone and Sadhguru of Isha Foundation, as per the information available on the website.


Odisha to sponsor Indian hockey teams for next five years         

In a first-of-its-kind association, Indian hockey got a new sponsor in state government of Odisha, which has decided to support the game for the next five years. The announcement was made by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a grand function recently, which was also attended by both the Indian men’s and women’s hockey team players, International Hockey Federation (FIH) and IOA President Narinder Batra, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta among other dignitaries. During the function, Odisha government also unveiled its logo that will don the new jerseys of both the teams.  Although it is not known how much money the state is going to pump into hockey, the association holds great significance for the development of the sport. “No wonder Odisha has produced India’s finest hockey talent. This is a first where a state government will not just be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will also support and nurture India hockey. This is Odisha’s gift to the nation.” Odisha is regarded as the cradle of hockey and has produced greats like Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and Lazarus Barla in the past. The newly designed logo on the Indian national hockey team jersey is a summation of Odisha – the Konark Wheel, the state’s famed coastline, endangered Olive Ridley turtles, Odissi dance form and hockey.


New World No.1 Federer wins Rotterdam for 97th title       

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings by winning the Rotterdam Open on Sunday, his 97th career title. The 36-year-old, the oldest No.1 in history, thrashed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in a one-sided final. In the Open era, only American Jimmy Connors has won more titles with 109. “What a fantastic week,” the top seed said. “The goal at the start of the week was to make it to the semi-finals. This is absolutely amazing, I’m really pleased.” Federer, the record 20-time Grand Slam winner, will reclaim the number one ranking he last held in October 2012 when the new ATP rankings are published on 19th February. He has played two tournaments this year and won both — the other being January’s Australian Open. He is three years older than American Andre Agassi was when previously holding the record for oldest No.1 back in 2003. This was his third title in Rotterdam following successes in 2005 and 2012 and he now stands 12-0 for the season. The iconic Swiss star needed just 55 minutes to dispatch Dimitrov who looked to be under-cooked in the quickfire final. Federer now stands a perfect 7-0 over the Bulgarian in their head-to-head series.


India’s Sakina Khatun wins silver in Para Powerlifting World Cup         

India’s Sakina Khatun made the country proud by winning a silver in the Para Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai in the upto 45 kg category with a lift of 80kg. Sakina made headlines last month when she had threatened to commit suicide over her non-inclusion in the 2018 Commonwealth Games squad. Para powerlifter Sakina, who has not been included in India’s CWG contingent at the upcoming Commonwealth Games slated to be held in the Gold Coast, Australia, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting his intervention in the same. The 28-year-old, who is the only Indian para-athlete to clinch a medal at the Commonwealth Games – bronze in lightweight category in Glasgow – till date, was ignored during the selection of the team for the prestigious games. Sakina’s axing from the Indian contingent for the Games came despite the athlete meeting the eligibility criteria as marked by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

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