INTERNATIONALZoe Konstantopoulou Elected As new President Of Greece Greece Parliament has elected Zoe Konstantopoulou, a member of the left wing party Syriza as its new President on 6 February. She was elected after receiving a record number of 235 of 300 deputies’ votes in the Parliament. With this win, she has the record of more votes a President of parliament received after the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974. This will be the second time that a woman is elected as the Greece Parliament President, with the first being Anna Psarouda-Benaki in 2004. However, Konstantopoulou also set another record, since the 38-year-old politician is the youngest Parliament President that has ever been elected in Greece. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott Survives Confidence Vote Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 9 February survived a vote of confidence motion on spilling the top leadership of Liberal Party. Tony Abbott was elected as the Prime Minister of Australia in September 2013. Russia – Ukraine Signed Ceasefire Agreement The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France signed a Ceasefiredeal on 12 February after marathon talks at Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko hosted these talks which were held in the background of new attacks in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions on 12 February. At the end of the talks, both Russia and Ukraine agreed to bring into effect a ceasefire in the warring zone of eastern Ukraine from 15 February 2015. Sri Lanka Parliament Enacts witness Protection Law Sri Lankan Parliament has passed the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill on 20 February. This bill aims at protecting the rights of criminal victims and witnesses especially in human rights accountability. INDIA & WORLDIndia and China Jointly Launched Visit India Year In China India and China on 2 February jointly launched the Visit India Year in China in Beijing. The initiative is aimed at enhancing the flow of tourists from China to India and to strengthen the people to people bond. China will support the promotion of Indian tourist resources in its country. India Ranked 29th On Intellectual Property Index India has been placed at 29th rank among the 30 countries in the international intellectual property (IP) index released by U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on 4 February. US has been placed at the top in the list and Thailand at last position. India Ranked 136 In World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) 2015 India was ranked 136 out of 180 nations worldwide in terms of press freedom in 2015, which marks an improvement from its rank of 140 in 2014, even though its absolute score declined from 40.34 to 40.49. In the top of the list were three Scandinavian countries: Finland on the 1st position followed by Norway and Denmark. India and Sri Lanka Signed 4 Agreements Including Civil Nuclear Cooperation Sri Lanka’s newly-elected President Maithripala Sirisena on 16 February held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.After the talks, India and Sri Lanka signed bilateral agreements on civil nuclear cooperation, cultural cooperation and cooperation in the field of Agriculture. Besides, an agreement was also signed for Sri Lanka’s participation in the Nalanda University Project.India and Sri Lanka also agreed to expand defence and strategic cooperation, including a trilateral format with the Maldives. US To Provide Work Permits For H-1B Spouses Visa Holders The United States on 24 February announced that it would allow work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders from 26 May 2015. Under existing US laws, spouses of H-1B visa holders are not eligible to work. This announcement is expected to benefit thousands of talented and professional spouses who have settled in US but are unable to work. NATIONAL31 Major Minerals To Be Notified As Minor Minerals The Union government has on 5 February decided to notify 31 major minerals as minor ones.This is being done to devolve more power to the states and, consequently, expedite the process of mineral development in the country. State governments are allowed to make rules to regulate the grant of quarry leases, mining leases or other mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals. Telecom Subscriber Base Reaches To 97 crore Telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 7 February released a report on subscriber base. India telecom subscriber base reaches all-time high at 970 million at the end of December 2014.The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 964.20 million at the end of November 2014 to 970.97 million at the end of December 2014. This surpasses the previous record of 965.5 million reached in June 2012. Teledensity in the country, which means connection per 100, reached 77.58. PM Constituted 3 Sub-groups Of Chief Ministers within NITI Aayog The first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog was held in New Delhi on 8 February. The meeting was presided by NITI Aayog’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.During the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constituted three sub-groups of Chief Ministers within National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. * First sub-group - It will study the 66 centrally-sponsored schemes and recommend which schemes should continue, which should be transferred to states, and which to discontinue. * Second sub-group – It will focus on skill development and creation of skilled manpower within states. * Third sub-group – It will decide on the institutional mechanisms to be evolved for Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, so that cleanliness becomes a part of life in perpetuity. PM Narendra Modi Launched ‘Soil Health Card’ scheme Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the centrally sponsored nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card’ (SHC) scheme on 19 February in Suratgarh town of Sriganganagar district, Rajasthan. The nationwide scheme will help farmers to scientifically analyse the soil of farms in the country. The scheme aims at helping farmers in improving productivity by appropriate use of nutrients or fertilisers. STATESMaharashtra Govt Planning To Revamp Jeevan Amrut Yojana Maharashtra Government is planning to revamp the Jeevan Amrut Yojana (blood-on-call) scheme to make it more beneficial to people. State government is seeking to strengthen the network of blood storage units in rural areas instead of current mechanism of transporting blood through motorcycles. It is first of its kind scheme in the country, launched in 2014. It aimed at facilitating blood supply to patients scheduled to undergo surgeries and medical procedures in remote areas. Adani To Set Up Country’s Largest 10,000 MW solar Plant In Rajasthan Adani Enterprises Ltd on 9 February signed a pact with the Rajasthan government to develop the country’s largest solar park in the state with 10,000 MW capacity over the next 10 years at an estimated investment of about Rs 40,000 crore. The company will set up solar power project of 5000 MW on its own in the next five years. The Adani Group will also develop solar manufacturing units and power evacuation systems. Delhi Assembly Elections 2015 Results Declared The Election Commission of India (ECI) on 10 February declared the results of Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections 2015. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) headed by social activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal with 67 seats has emerged as the largest party in the house of 70 seats. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – Won record 67 seats with record vote share of 54.2% percent. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Won 3 seats with vote share of 32.3% percent. 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly elections were held on 7 February 2015 to elect 70 members of the Sixth Delhi Legislative Assembly. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Launched CCTNS Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on 11 February launched the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) project in the state. This 19 crore rupees project will be completely funded by the Union Government. It will help in connecting 177 sites and 114 police stations in the state besides 13 district headquarters, 26 sub-divisional police officers and three police ranges along with state crime records bureau. CONFERENCES15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit The 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit was held from 5-7 February 2015 in New Delhi.The theme of the summit was Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change.The summit was organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The summit witnessed a pool of distinguished speakers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Politicians, Diplomats, Corporates, Government Officials, media, NGOs and activists attended the summit.During the summit, two reports namely, Global Sustainable Development Report and Energy Security Outlook were also launched.Issues like the need for mitigation in Energy supply sector, generating finances for projects focusing on Sustainable Development, and educating the youth about sustainable development were discussed. Stress was laid on collective actions of both public and private sectors in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). AWARDS & HONOURSEminent Marathi Writer Bhalchandra Nemade Selected For Jnanpith Award 2014 Eminent Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade on 6 February was chosen for the Jnanpith Award 2014 by the Jnanpith Selection Board. He is the 4th Marathi writer to receive the honour and is the 50th recipient of Jnanpith award.His novel Kosala (Cocoon) published in 1963 was not only instrumental in changing the dimensions of the Marathi novel, but also the world of Marathi fiction was transformed with its advent. 57th Annual Grammy Awards The 57th Annual Grammy Awards were held on 8 February at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. In all, 83 Grammy Awards were presented at the function. * Two Indians — Ricky Kej and Neela Vaswani — took home a Grammy Award each. Neela Vasvani won the trophy in the Best Children’s Album category for “I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai)”. She had narrated the audio version of the book. On the other hand Ricky Kej’s collaboration in the album “Winds Of Samsara” won the Best New Age Album trophy. He had teamed up with South African musician Wouter Kellerman for the album, which symbolises peace and harmony. * Beck Hansen’s album “Morning Phase” won the Best Album of the Year Award while the song “Stay With Me” featuring James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith won Best Song of the Year Award and Best Record of the Year Award. Amartya Sen Won John Maynard Keynes Prize Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has won the newly instituted Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2015 on 10 February.With this, Professor Sen will receive 7500 British pounds to commission a work of art and will give the annual Charleston-EFG Keynes Lecture at the Charleston Festival in the United Kingdom. This year’s lecture is scheduled for 23 May 2015 and it will be on The Economic Consequences of Austerity. 87th Annual Academy Oscar Awards 2015 The 87th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was held on 23 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.The Academy Awards (commonly referred as Oscars) were presented in twenty four categories. They are :- * Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). * Best Actress – Julianne Moore (Still Alice). * Best Supporting Actor – J. K. Simmons (Whiplash). * Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette (Boyhood). * Best Director – Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). * Best Original Screenplay – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). * Best Adapted Screenplay – The Imitation Game. * Best Original Song – Glory (Selma). * Best Original Score – The Grand Budapest Hotel. * Best Production Design - The Grand Budapest Hotel. * Best Editing – Whiplash. * Best Cinematography – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). * Best Sound Editing – American Sniper. * Best Sound Mixing – Whiplash. * Best Foreign Language Film – Ida (Poland). * Best Documentary Feature – CitizenFour. * Best Documentary Short Subject – Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. * Best Live Action Short Film – The Phone Call. * Best Visual Effects – Interstellar. * Best Animated Feature Film – Big Hero 6. * Best Animated Short Film – Feast. * Best Makeup and Hairstyling – The Grand Budapest Hotel. * Best Costume Design – The Grand Budapest Hotel. * Most awards – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (Both received 4 awards). * Most nominations in 87th Academy Awards – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (both 9 nominations) SPORTS & GAMES35th National Games The 35th National Games of India concluded on 14 February 2015 at Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala). In all the 35th National Games saw disbursal of 1334 medals comprising of 405 Gold, 406 Silver and 523 Bronze medals respectively. Services Sports Control Board emerged overall champion and winner of the Raja Bhalendra Singh Trophy for the third consecutive time. Services have won total 159 medals including 91 Gold Medals. It was followed by hosts Kerala with 54 golds and Haryana with 40 golds. Now the 36th edition of National Games would be held at Goa in 2017. The 2015 National Games of India, also known as the 35th National Games of India, were held in Kerala from 31 January 2015 to 14 February 2015.The mascot of the 35th National Games is”’Ammu”’, The Great Hornbill, or the Great Indian Hornbill, the State bird of Kerala. Anil Kumble and Betty Wilson Inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame Former India captain Anil Kumble and Australian legend Betty Wilson were inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame on 22 February at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia. Kumble and Wilson became the 77th and 78th inductees into the Hall of Fame. Kumble is the fourth Indian to be included in the elite group other three includes Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Bishan Bedi. Wilson is the second Australian woman in the Hall of Fame behind Belinda Clark. Wilson was given the honour posthumously. Anil Kumble had played 132 Tests for India and captured 619 wickets. Wilson played 11 tests between 1947 and 1958 and scored 862 runs and claimed 68 wickets. Wilson passed away on 22 January 2010, aged 88 Chris Gayle Becomes First Batsman To Hit Double Century In World Cup History West Indies’ opener Chris Gayle made his name into history books by becoming the first ever batsman to score a double-century in the ICC World Cup. He achieved this feat against Zimbabwe in a Pool B clash in Canberra on 24 February 2015. Gayle hit Tendai Chatara for a boundary in the 46th over of the West Indies innings to reach the double-century mark in 138 balls. Assisted by this double-century, West Indies reached mammoth total of 372 for 2 wickets. Gayle surpassed the previous World Cup best of 188 not out by South Africa’s Gary Kirsten against the United Arab Emirates at Rawalpindi in 1996. AB De Villiers Hits Fastest 150 In ODI History South Africa captain AB de Villiers has hit the fastest 150 in one-day internationals (ODI’s). He achieved this feat in 64 balls in World Cup Pool B match against West Indies held on 27 February at Sydney and also broke the previous record of Australia’s Shane Watson by 19 balls. AB De Villiers in the innings scored 162 runs from 66 balls and it comprised of 8 sixes and 17 fours. In this match, South Africa scored 408 runs which is the second-highest total in World Cup history. ECONOMYRBI 6th Bi-monthly Monetary Review 2014-15 The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has on 3 February announced sixth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2014-15. In its bi-monthly monetary policy statement, RBI has not changed its main lending rate i.e.Repo Rate and cash reserve ratio (CRR). But changed statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) of scheduled commercial banks.The RBI reduced the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) of scheduled commercial banks by 50 basis points from 22.0% to 21.5% of their net demand and time liabilities. ICICI Bank Launches India’s First Digital Bank Pockets The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) Bank, has on 10 February launched India’s first digital Bank on mobile phones, Pockets. This service will enable users to instantly send money to any e-mail id, mobile number, friends on Facebook and bank account. Railway Budget 2015-16 Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 26 February 2015 presented the Railway Budget 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha. In his first Railway Budget, Prabhu outlined a plan to invest over 8 lakh crore rupees over 5 years. The size of the Plan Budget has gone up by 52 percent from 65789 crore rupees in 2014-15 to 100011 crore rupees in 2015-16. 2015-16 Railway Budget at a Glance (Rs in crore) :- * Gross Traffic Receipts – 1,83,578.00 * Total Work Expenditure – 1,62,210.00 * Net Railway Revenue – 25,076.45 * Total Passenger Earnings – 50,175.00 * Good Earnings – 1,21,423.00 * Divindend Payable To General Revenues – 10,810,74 * Operation Ratio – 88.5% Highlights of the Railway Budget 2015-16 :-New Trains :- Announcement of no new trains (This will be done after doing a comprehensive analysis and feasibility studies) Passenger Fare :- No increase in Passenger fares Freight :- Freight increase up to 10% on select items: 10% for urea, 2.7% for cement and 6.3% for coal, 0.8% for iron and steel Railway Operations :- Railway’s Operating Ratio to improve to 88.5% in 2015-16 compared with targetted 91.8% in 2014-15 Railway Finances :- a) Five-year outlay at Rs 8.5 lakh crore b) Plan expenditure in Railways to he hiked 52% to Rs 1.11 lakh crore for 2015-16 c) 77 projects totalling Rs 96,182 crore on cards to expand capacity Railway Safety :- a) Rs 6,581 cr earmarked on level crossing safety b) Train protection warning system to prevent fires c) Collision avoiding system d) 917 safety work projects to eliminate over 3,000 unmanned crossings in all states e) Audio visual warning and radio based signals design for unmanned level crossing with technical assistance from IIT-Kanpur on cards to enhance safety f) Five years safety plan will be ready by June 2015 g) Surveillance camera on cards for women’s safety, financing from Nirbhaya fund Improving Train Speed :- Speed of 9 railway corridors to be increased from existing 110 and 130 kmph to 160 and 200 kmph respectively. Average speed of freight trains in empty and loaded conditions will be enhanced to 100 kmph for empty freight trains and 75 kmph for loaded trains. Network Expansion :- Fast-track sanctioned works on 7000 kms of double/third/fourth lines Commission of 1200 km of network in 2015-16 at an investment of 8686 crore rupees. Railway Modernisation :- a) 6,000 km of route km to be electrified in 2015-16, up from 462 route km in 2014-15 b) 800 km of gauge conversion on cards Railway Convenience :- a) Proposes to move towards paperless ticketing b) Now, book your tickets 120 days in advance c) Rs 120 crore provided for lifts and escalators at Railway stations d) Phone charging facilities will be provided in all trains including general compartments e) Online booking of wheelchairs for seniors, physically challenged passengers f) Food can be ordered through IRCTC website while booking tickets g) Wifi availability at 400 railway stations across the country including B class stations too h) To introduce “Operation 5 minutes” to allow unreserved passengers to book tickets in 5 minutes Railway Cleanliness :- a) 17,000 toilets to be replaced and modernized b) Vacuum-based toilets on cards c) New toilets in 650 railway stations d) Railways will set up waste management plants to dispose off waste e) Will work on Swacch Rail in lines with Swacch Bharat Bullet Train :- Feasibility study for High Speed Rail between Mumbai-Ahmadabad is in advanced stage. Station Redevelopment :- Zonal and Divisional offices to be empowered for quicker decision making Development of 10 Satellite Railway terminals in major cities with twin purpose of decongesting the city and providing service to suburban passengers Infrastructure :- * Track capacity will be increased by 10% to 1.38 lakh km. * 10 satellite railway terminals will be developed in major cities in 2015-15. * Connectivity to North-East India will be improved. In J&K rail connectivity will be on focus. Tourism :- * Railways will promote Gandhi circuit in order to mark centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return from South Africa. Special travel scheme Kisan Yatra for farmers for farming and marketing technique centres. Under Incredible India, Incredible Rail will be launched. Union Budget 2015-16 Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley on 28 February 2015 presented Union Budget 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha. It was the first full year Budget of the NDA government under leadership of Prime Minister of Narendra Modi and the second budget of Arun Jaitley as Finance Minister. 2015-16 Budget Estimates (Rs in Crore ) * Revenue Receipts – 1,141.6 * Capital Receipts - 635.9 * Total Receipts – 1,777.5 * Non-Plan Expenditure – 1,312.2 * Plan Expenditure – 465.3 * Total Expenditure – 1,777.5 * Revenue Deficit – 394.5 * Effective Revenue Deficit – 283.9 * Fiscal Deficit – 555.6 * Primary Deficit – 99.5 Highlights of the Union Budget 2015-16 :-Taxation:- * No change in the Tax slab on personal income. * Wealth tax abolished. * Additional 2% surcharge for the super-rich with income more than Rs. 1 crore. * For next 4 years, corporate tax has been reduced to 25 percent from present 30 percent. * Service tax increased to14 per cent. * Apart from CSR, 100% tax exemption for contribution to Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. New projects:- * New projects 5 more AIIMSs in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Assam. * IIT in Karnataka. While, the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad, Jharkhand will be converted into IIT. * 2 more IIMs in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. * Post-Graduation institutes of Horticulture in Amritsar, Punjab. * University of Disability Studies will be established in Kerala. * In Arunachal Pradesh, Centre of film production, animation and gaming will come up. * For Infrastructure sector Rs. 70,000 crores allocated. * Projects in rail road and irrigation bonds will be tax free. * Infrastructure development through PPP model will be revitalised and government will bear majority of the risk. * Atal Innovation Mission will be established to draw on expertise of researchers and entrepreneurs to foster scientific innovations. For this mission Rs. 150 crore allocated. * 5 ultra-mega power projects each of 4000MW proposed by Government Defence:- * 2,46,726 crore allocated for Defence. It is 9.87 per cent greater than last year. * Make in India campaign will take into consideration for speedy manufacturing of Defence equipment. Welfare Schemes and new Programmes :- * Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, six crore toilets across the country will be built. * By 2020, housing for all. * Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA) will get MGNREGA of Rs. 5,000 crore. It is highest allocation to this scheme. * To improve quality of life of common man, GST and JAM trinity (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile) will be launched. To encourage first generation SC/ST entrepreneurs, MUDRA bank will provide finance. * Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) will be further be expanded to 10.3 crore from 1 crore. * Government will contribute 50% of the premium limited to Rs. 1,000 a year for the Atal Pension Yojana. * 9,000 crore unclaimed funds in PPF/EPF will be used for Senior Citizens Fund. * For all Indian, government will create universal social security system. * For electric cars production Rs. 75 crore allocated. * Renewable energy target for 2022 – 60K MW in wind; 10K MW in biomass, 100K MW in solar and 5K MW in small hydro plants. * Under the new tourism scheme, development of churches and convents in old Goa; Hampi, Elephanta caves, , Jallianwala Bagh, Forests of Rajasthan, Leh palace, Varanasi Qutb Shahi tombs at Hyderabad. * Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility to be increased for 150 countries from present 43 countries. * As an alternative to purchasing gold, Sovereign Gold Bond will be launched. * In order to facilitate depositors of gold to earn interest and jewellers to obtain loans on their metal accounts new scheme will be launched. * Forward Markets Commission (FMC) will be merged with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). * Under SARFAESI Act 2002, NBFCs registered with the RBI having asset size of Rs 500 crore and above to be considered as financial institution for mid-corporate businesses and fund SME. * For Rural Infrastructure Development Bank, Rs. 25,000 crore allocated. * To support Micro Irrigation Programme, Rs. 5,300 crore allocated. Economic Survey 2014-15 Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Economic Survey for 2014-15 in the Parliament on 27 February 2015.The Economic Survey forms the basis for the Union Budget for the fiscal year starting 1 April. This Economic Survey has been prepared by the Finance Ministry’s Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian. Following are the important highlights of Economic Survey:- Economic Growth :- * Economic growth at market prices is expected between 8.1 to 8.5% during 2015-16 (based on the new GDP calculation formula) * Growth rate in 2014-15 is estimated at 7.5% * The total stock of stalled projects stands at Rs. 8.8 lakh crore or 7% of GDP and are mostly in private sector Fiscal Deficit and Current Account Deficit :- * Union Govt. will stick to fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP in 2014-15 * Country needs to meet its medium-term fiscal deficit target of 3% of GDP * Current Account Deficit (CAD) estimated to fall 1% of GDP in 2015-16 Inflation:- * Consumer inflation in 2015-16 likely to range between 5 to 5.5% * Inflation likely to be below RBI’s target by 0.5 to 1% point * Inflation shows declining trend in 2014-15 * Decline in inflation by over 6% points since late 2013 Foodgrain Production:- * Foodgrains production for 2014-15 estimated at 257.07 million tonnes * The production will exceed last 5 years by 8.5 million tonnes Subsidy :- * Food subsidy at Rs. 1,07,823.75 crore during 2014-15 (up to January 2015), an increase of 20% over previous year SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGYPakistan Successfully Test Fires Cruise Missile Ra’ad Pakistan on 2 February conducted a successful flight test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) named ‘Ra’ad’. The Ra’ad Missile, with a range of over 350 km, has been developed exclusively for launch from Aerial Platforms.This missile system has enabled Pakistan to achieve a greater strategic standoff capability on land and at sea. Iran’s Safir Rocket successfully Launches Fajr Satellite into Orbit Iran has launched its Fajr (Dawn) observation satellite on 2 February, using a Safir-2 rocket, its first launch since 2012 and declared that it has safely entered orbit. The launch marks the 35th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and comes one day ahead of the country’s Space Technology Day. US Names Russian Nuclear Power Plants For India and Iran Best Projects of 2014 Iranian nuclear power station Bushehr and the Indian Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant topped the “Nuclear energy” category as the modern technologies they use produce cleaner and more effective sources of energy. The Russian-backed Iranian nuclear power station Bushehr and the Kudankulam Indian nuclear power plant projects were named projects of the year 2014 by the US Power Engineering magazine in the “Nuclear energy” category on 13 February 2015. India Successfully Test Fired BrahMos Missile From INS Kolkata India on 14 February successfully test-fired its 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from Indian Navy’s latest destroyer INS Kolkata. BrahMos is a missile with a range of 290 kilometers and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kilograms. It has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. This speed makes BrahMos one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft and land. INS Kolkata the country’s largest indigenously built warship was commissioned in Indian Navy on 16 August 2014. India Successfully Test Fired N-capable Prithvi-II Missile Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile was test-fired on 19 February at Chandipur, Odisha. The test-fired was part of a regular training exercise of Strategic Force Command of Defence (SFC) and monitored by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). Prithvi-II was developed indigenously which is nuclear-capable and has a strike range of 350 km. It is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads. PERSONS IN NEWSA) APPOINTMENTSArvind Kejriwal Sworn In As 8th Delhi Chief Minister Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal sworn in as 8th Chief Minister of Delhi on 14 February at a function in Ramlila Maidan, Delhi. Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung administered the oath of office and secrecy to Kejriwal. In 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, AAP staged a historic victory by sweeping 67 of the 70 seats. This will be Arvind Kejriwal‘s second term as Delhi Chief Minister. Earlier in February 2014, he had resigned after running a 49-day government with the support of Congress. Nitish Kumar Sworn In As Bihar Chief Minister For 4th time Senior Janata Dal United leader Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the 24th Chief Minister of Bihar on 22 February. He succeeded Jitan Ram Manjhi, who resigned from his office on 20 February 2015 before the trust vote wherein he was supposed to prove majority in the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly. With this, Nitish Kumar took oath as the state’s chief minister for the fourth time. In 2000, for first time he was made CM of Bihar but had resigned within 7 days. In 2005, he was sworn in as the CM of Bihar for second time and in 2010 for third time. In May 2014 he had resigned from the CM post taking the responsibility of his party’s (JDU) dismal performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. B)RESIGNSIPCC Chairman RK Pachauri Resigned Dr Rajendra K Pachauri has stepped down as Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with effect from 24 February. Pachauri is suspected to be involved in a sexual harassment case with a woman employee of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the environmental-think tank that he heads as its Director General. C)DEATHSIndian Sculptor and Artist Mrinalini Mukherjee Died Acclaimed sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee was died on 2 February in New Delhi. She was 65. She was the daughter of acclaimed artists Benode Behari and Leela Mukherjee. She was best known for her sculptures crafted using knotted hemp ropes and cast bronzes. Mrinalini Mukherjee was the first Indian artist whose work was displayed at the Sydney Biennale in 1986. In 1994, her art sculptures were displayed in the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and later she travelled all over United Kingdom. D)VISITORSSingapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam Visited India Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited India from 8 – 11 February 2015. During his four day visit, Tony Tan Keng Yam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.The two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on enhancing bilateral relations, as well as broadening cooperation in fighting terrorism, among other issues.In their talks, the two leaders deliberated on strengthening of cooperation on regional and international issues to raise the partnership to a higher level.They agreed on sharing of experiences in science and technology, space and other areas to enhance productivity and efficiency as well as broadening cooperation in fighting terrorism. E)MISCELLANEOUSLok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan Named In LIMCA Book of Records Indore MP and Loksabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s name was included in the LIMCA book of records in the month of February 2015. Her name was included for being the only woman of the country to represent the same Lok Sabha constituency on the same party ticket for eight times in a row. As a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she represents the Indore constituency of Lok Sabha in Madhya Pradesh. For the first time she was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989. Since then she has been re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and finally to the 16th Lok Sabha on 18 May 2014.She was unanimously elected as Speaker of 16th Lok Sabha on 6 June 2014. PLACES IN NEWSFour New Fish Species Discovered In Kerala Four new fish species named Puntius nelsoni, Puntius nigronotus, Systomus chryseus and Systomus rufus have been discovered in Kerala. They were discovered by Mathews Plamoottil, a zoology professor at Baby John Memorial Government College in Kollam. ABBREVIATIONS 1) ICICI – Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India 2) SWIFT – Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication 3) TRAI – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India 4) ILO – International Labour Organization 5) UNDP – United Nations Development Programme 6) OECD – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development BOOKS IN NEWSKiran Bedi Released Comic Book Titled ‘ Kiran Bedi — Kaise Bani Top Cop ‘ Kiran Bedi on 9 February 2015 released a comic book titled Kiran Bedi — Kaise Bani Top Cop at a thanksgiving event organised in her Vidhan Sabha constituency Krishna Nagar, Delhi. The book is penned down by her sisters, Reeta Peshawaria Menon and Anu Peshawaria.The 32-page comic book with Hindi text and illustrations narrates the story of the first woman IPS officer of the country.The comic talks about Bedi’s childhood life in Amritsar, how she met her husband Brij Bedi while playing tennis and how she became the first woman IPS officer on 16 July 1972. COMMITTEESUsha Thorat Committee For Evaluating Applications Of Small Finance Banks and Payments Banks The Reserve Bank of India on 3 February 2015 constituted a committee to evaluate applications received for the proposed small finance banks. The committee was headed by Usha Thorat, former Deputy Governor of RBI. The purpose of the small banks will be to provide a whole suite of basic banking products such as deposits and supply of credit, but in a limited area of operation. The objective for these Small Banks is to increase financial inclusion by provision of savings vehicles to under-served and unserved sections of the population, supply of credit to small farmers, micro and small industries, and other unorganised sector entities through high technology-low cost operations. IMPORTANT DAYS AND DATESInternational Mother Language Day Celebrated On February 21 The International Mother Language Day 2015 was celebrated all over the world on February 21, 2015. The objective of this day is to promote linguistic and cultural goodwill among diversity. It aims to fosters unity among various nations. As it promotes the preservation and protection of all languages used by people all over the world.The year 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day. International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. The day, February 21, represents the date in 1952 when students from Bangladesh demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh. World Cancer Day was Observed Across The World World Cancer Day (WCD) 2015 was observed across the world on 4 February 2015.The tagline for the WCD 2015 was Not beyond Us. The tagline signified that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and that they are within our reach.The WCD 2015 explored how we can implement what we already know in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and care so as to impact the global cancer burden for the better.