1) Government Of India Makes Amendments In Small Savings Act
In order to remove existing ambiguities due to multiple Acts and rules for Small Saving Schemes, the Government of India has proposed merger of Government Savings Certificates Act, 1959 and Public Provident Fund Act, 1968 with the Government Savings Banks Act, 1873. With a single act, relevant provisions of the Government Savings Certificates (NSC) 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 main objective in proposing a common Act is to make implementation easier for the depositors as they need not go through different rules and Acts for understanding the provision of various small saving schemes, and also to introduce certain flexibilities for the investors.Apart from ensuring existing benefits, certain new benefits to the depositors have been proposed under the bill. These are:1. As per PPF Act, the PPF account can’t be closed prematurely before completion of five financial years. If the depositor wants to close PPF account before five years in exigencies, he can’t close the account.2. Investment in Small Savings Schemes can be made by Guardian on behalf of minor(s) under the provisions made in the proposed bill Guardian may also be given associated rights and responsibilities.3. There was no clear provision earlier regarding deposit by minors in the existing Acts. The provision has been made now to promote the culture of savings among children.4. There were no clear provisions in all the three Acts for the operation of accounts in the name of physically infirm and differently abled persons. Provisions in this regard have now been made.5. In the existing Acts, there is no provision for the nomination with regard to the account opened in the name of the minor. Further, existing Acts say that if account holder dies and there is no nomination and amount is more than prescribed limit, the amount shall be paid to legal heirs.
The above provisions which are proposed to be incorporated in the amended Act will add to the flexibility in the operation of the Account under Small Savings Schemes.
2) West Bengal Becomes First State To Opt Out Of ‘Modicare’
- On 13th February 2018, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that, West Bengal has opted out of National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) also known as ‘Modicare’.
- The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) also known as ‘Modicare’ was announced in the Union Budget 2018-19.
- The NHPS would cover 10 crore poor families. It provides insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per annum. It is said to be the world’s largest government healthcare scheme.
- Mamata Banerjee said that, the NHPS is similar to West Bengal’s existing ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme. The ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme has already covered 45 lakh families amounting to 2.5 crore people of West Bengal.
3) RBI Rolls Out New Stressed Assets Framework To Tackle Bad Loan Problem
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) scrapped numerous loan restructuring programmes, asking banks to immediately identify defaults and make disclosures every Friday to the RBI credit registry, starting from February 23. The apex bank has also warned banks of monetary penalties and higher provisions if they are found to have violated the stringent new norms.
- The central bank has withdrawn the existing resolution frameworks and the Joint Lenders’ Forum (JLF) with immediate effect. The extant instructions on resolution of stressed assets such as Framework for Revitalising Distressed Assets, Corporate Debt Restructuring Scheme, Flexible Structuring of Existing Long Term Project Loans, Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme (SDR), Change in Ownership outside SDR, and Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A) stand withdrawn with immediate effect.
Further, lenders shall identify incipient stress in loan accounts, immediately on default, by classifying stressed assets as Special Mention Accounts (SMA). Lenders shall report credit information, including classification of an account as SMA to Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) on all borrower entities having aggregate exposure of Rs 50 million (Rs 5 crore) and above with them. The CRILC-Main Report will be required to be submitted on a monthly basis, from April 1.
4) Indian, Chinese armies celebrate Chinese spring festival in Ladakh
- On 13th February 2018, on the occasion of Chinese spring festival, Indian and Chinese armies held a Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) in Chushul sector of Ladakh region.
- The Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) was held at Chinese BPM hut in Moldo garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Chushul sector of eastern Ladakh.
- Indian delegation was led by Colonel Deependra Jasrotia and Chinese delegation was led by Senior Lieutenant Colonel Bu Hong Dong.
- The national flag of China was saluted by both the delegations. The Indian and Chinese delegation leaders presented their ceremonial addresses.
5) Meghalaya Governor Inaugurates India, Bangladesh ‘Friendship Gate’
- On February 13, 2018, Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad inaugurated the ‘Friendship Gate’ for Indian and Bangladesh border guards.
- This “Friendship Gate” has been constructed with an aim to have a Wagah-like beating retreat ceremony for India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh.
- At Wagah Border (Amritsar, Punjab on Indian side), India’s Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers, jointly conduct beating retreat ceremony (lowering of flags) on daily basis in a synchronised manner. This venue has become a popular tourist destination.
- ‘Friendship Gate’ has been constructed near an Integrated Check post, 90 km South of Meghalaya’s capital Shillong on border with Bangladesh.
6) Radio Umang: India’s 1st Online Radio Station Launched
India’s 1st Online Radio Station ‘Radio Umang’ was launched recently in India. Listeners can tune in to this online radio station through web streaming or download the app.
- With 24 hours programming, it has found listeners in Hindi speaking regions of India and in over 60 countries worldwide.
7) Assam becomes fourth state to issue RoW guidelines for telcos
- Assam has become the fourth state in the country to issue the Right of Way (RoW) guidelines for telecom service providers.
A legal right, established by usage or grant is referred to as Right of Way (RoW).
- Assam State Cabinet had approved these RoW guidelines on January 28, 2018, and State Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia held a meeting with telecom service providers and other stakeholders on February 12, 2018 to review the current mobile and internet connectivity status.
- These guidelines will regulate the establishment of underground and overground telecom infrastructure in Assam.
8) Jacob Zuma Resigns As South Africa’s President
South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma has resigned. He announced the decision in a televised address to the nation after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party threatened to eject him from office via a parliamentary vote of no confidence today.
The 75-year-old, who was the country’s President for the last 9 years, has been under increasing pressure to give way to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC’s new leader. Mr Zuma’s resignation followed weeks of intense public pressure to step down amid long-standing corruption allegations.
9) Ashok Das appointed as Ambassador of India to Brazil
- On 13th February 2018, Ashok Das was named the next Ambassador of India to the Federative Republic of Brazil.
- Ashok Das is an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Officer of the 1987 batch. Currently he is Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
- He has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Federative Republic of Brazil. He will soon take charge as the Ambassador of India to the Federative Republic of Brazil.
10) Krishna Kumari to become first Hindu minority woman lawmaker from Pakistan
- Krishna Kumari is to become the first female Hindu lawmaker in Pakistan since 1947.
- Krishna Kumari is a 38 year old woman from Pakistan’s Hindu minority community. She is a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
- She has been nominated by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party for the upcoming Senate elections. The elections will be conducted on 3rdMarch 2018.
- She hails from a very poor family and was married at the age of sixteen. She is to become the first Hindu woman lawmaker in Pakistan since 1947.
11) India ranked among top 10 in the World in Terms of Forest Area
- At the time of releasing India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017 on February 12, 2018,Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhanstated that in terms of land area under forest and tree cover, India has ranked 10th in the world.
- As per ISFR 2017, Forest and tree cover in India is 802088 sq km i.e. 24.39 per cent of the total geographical area.
- In terms of land area under forest and tree cover, India is a stand out case as none of the other 9 countries in the Top 10 has a population density of more than 150 persons per sq km, compared to India.