Daily Current Affairs February 19 and 20 2018

1) Newborn Mortality -India 12th Worst Among 52 Low-Income Nations

  • According to a report by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India has ranked 12thamong 52 lower middle-income countries in terms of neonatal mortality rate.
  • Neonatal Mortality Rate in India is 25.4/1000 live births. With nearly 640000 newborn deaths each year, India accounts for a quarter of the global burden of neonatal deaths of 2.6 million babies.
  • With Neonatal Mortality Rate of less than 1, Japan is the safest nation for birth, while India’s neighbour Pakistan, with Neonatal Mortality Rate of 45.6 is the riskiest country to be born in.
  • Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF representative in India has stated that India is currently lagging in its commitment to lower neonatal mortality to 12/1000 live births by 2030.
  • 80% of newborn deaths are occurring due to premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Top 5 Safest Nations for newborns:
    Country Neonatal Mortality Rate
    Japan 0.9
    Iceland 1.0
    Singapore 1.1
    Finland 1.2
    Slovenia 1.3


2) Union Cabinet Approves Creation Of National Urban Housing Fund

  • The Union Cabinet has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs.60,000 crores. This fund will be situated in Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • NUHF will facilitate raising requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals i.e. Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership(AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).

3) Delhi govt launches ‘Mission Buniyaad’ to improve learning skills of students

  • In April 2018, Delhi government will implement ‘Mission Buniyaad’ to improve learning levels of students attending primary classes in the state government and municipal schools.
  •  Announcement in this regard was made by Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia.
  • ’Mission Buniyaad’, which is to be implemented from next academic session will focus on students of Class 3 to Class 8.
  • This programme has been planned in wake of results of National Achievement Survey (NAS) conducted by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), to find out the learning standards of schoolchildren.

4) Parliament House to have crèche facility for children of employees

  • The parliament house will launch a crèche facility soon for women employees who prefer to bring their kids to the day care facility.
  • In March 2017, Minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi had notified Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan about the absence of crèche facility in the parliament house premises. In response, Sumitra Mahajan has stated that a crèche facility will be soon launched in the parliament house premises.
  • As per ‘Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017’ a healthy workplace diversity needs to be maintained. This enforces the provision of crèche facility for women employees.

5) Cabinet Approves New Bill To Ban Unregulated Deposit Schemes And Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill

  • In a major policy initiative to protect the savings of the investors, the Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce the following bills in the Parliament:-
  • 1. The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018
    The bill is aimed at tackling the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities in the country. Companies/ institutions running such schemes exploit existing regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard-earned savings.
  • 2. The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018
    The Union Cabinet has given its approval to introduce the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in Parliament. In order to facilitate orderly growth of the Chit Funds sector and remove bottlenecks being faced by the Chit Funds industry, thereby enabling greater financial access of people to other financial products, the following amendments to the Chit Funds Act, 1982 have been proposed:
  • Use of the words “Fraternity Fund” for chit business under Sections 2(b) and 11(1) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982, to signify its inherent nature, and distinguish its working from “Prize Chits” which are banned under a separate legislation;
  • Increasing the ceiling of foreman’s commission from a maximum of 5% to 7%, as the rate has remained static since the commencement of the Act while overheads and other costs have increased manifold;
  • Allowing the foreman a right to lien for the dues from subscribers, so that set-off is allowed by the Chit company for subscribers who have already drawn funds, so as to discourage default by them; and
  • Amending Section 85 (b) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982 to remove the ceiling of one hundred rupees set in 1982 at the time of framing the Chit Funds Act, which has lost its relevance.

6) India Successfully Test-Fires Agni-II Missile

  • India successfully test-fired Agni II medium-range nuclear-capable missile from APJ Abdul Kalam island off the Odisha coast. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) fired Agni-II from a mobile launcher at launch complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range.
  • Agni-II, which has a length of 20 metres, weighs 17 tonnes and can carry a payload of 1000 kgs over a distance of 2000 kms. It is a part of the Agni series of missiles developed by the DRDO.

7) Centre constitutes committee to study Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam

  • The Central Government has formed a committee lead by Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, to study the Brahmaputra and flood control measures in Assam and nearby states.
  • Announcement regarding this was made by Assam Water Resource Minister Keshab Mahanta.
  • He said that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced 100 crore rupees to figure out permanent solution for flood, during his visit to Guwahati in 2017.

8) India, Indonesia joint military drill “Garuda Shakti” begins in Bandung

  • On February 19, 2018, Indian and Indonesian armies began the sixth edition of ‘Garuda Shakti’ military drill in Bandung, the capital of West Java province of Indonesia.
  • This joint exercise between Indian and Indonesian Special Forces will continue till March 4, 2018. Objective of Garuda Shakti exercise is to strengthen relations between the two Armies of India and Indonesia and to enhance their ability to undertake joint tactical level operations.
  • During the course of this exercise, Indian and Indonesian Special Forces will engage in counter-terrorism operations, close quarter combat, experience sharing and other areas of special operations.

9) Aga Khan’s 11-Day Visit To India Begins

  • Spiritual leader Aga Khan is on the 11-day visit to India. Sunder Nursery, a 90-acre park near Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi, will be inaugurated by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of the Aga Khan.
  • In addition to these engagements, he will be visiting the cities of Ahmadabad, Hyderabad and Mumbai, where Aga Khan Development Network is involved in various development projects. During his previous visit in 2015, the Aga Khan was conferred Padma Vibhushan for his contributions to social development in India.

10)  UK, India Launched Joint Research Projects On Clean Water & Energy

  • The UK- India Joint research projects on Water Quality Research and Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment were launched in New Delhi.
  • The Water Quality Research programme has eight projects and Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment programme has four projects, with a total joint investment of up to 15 million British Pound.

11) Fitch Places PNB On ‘Rating Watch Negative’ With Downgrade Possibility

  • Fitch placed Punjab National Bank on Rating Watch Negative (RWN), reflecting a possibility of downgrade following the USD 1.77 billion fraud. The fraud is the biggest ever in the banking history.
  • The Viability Rating measures credit worthiness of a financial institution and reflects the likelihood of the entity to fail, as per Fitch. The RWN reflects the possibility of a downgrade of PNB’s Viability Rating.

12) Christian Coleman smashes 20-year-old 60m sprint indoor world record

  • On 18th February 2018, Christian Coleman of US broke the 20 year old world record in 60 metre sprint with 6.34 seconds timing, at the US Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque.
  • Christian Coleman has broken American Maurice Greene’s record of 6.39 seconds, made in Madrid in 1998. Christian Coleman is 21 years old.
  • Now, Christian Coleman will lead the American team to IAAF world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, that will be conducted next month.

13) India to host World Environment Day 2018 celebrations with ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ theme

  • On February 19, 2018, Union Minister of Environment, Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced that this year’s World Environment Day celebrations (on June 5, 2018) will be hosted by India
  • On February 19, 2018, Union Environment Secretary C K Mishra signed a ‘Letter of Intent’ to host the WED in India in presence of Erik Solheim, the head of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 
  • This year’s theme of WED will be ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ aimed at discouraging use of hazardous plastic.

14) World Day of Social Justice – February 20

  • On 20th February 2018, World Day of Social Justice was observed all over the world.
  • On 26th November 2007, the UN General Assembly declared 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. The World Day of Social Justice is an annual observance.
  • This day is celebrated to improve efforts to manage issues like poverty, exclusion and unemployment.
  • The theme for World Day of Social Justice 2018 is: Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice.

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