1. Government Of India Approves Highway Contracts Worth Rs. 6000 Crore
i. GOI has approved eight highway projects worth Rs 6,000 crore for six states - Punjab, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.
ii. With this approval, the number of projects cleared by Road Transport and Highways Ministry this month so far has swelled to 37, entailing a total investment of about Rs 34,000 crore.
iii. The total length of the projects is around 350 km. Out of these eight, six will be implemented in EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode and two in hybrid annuity mode.
iv. These projects won't require cabinet clearance as their construction cost is less than Rs 1,000 crore, the limit up to which the road transport and highways ministry can approve projects on its own. Most of these projects are in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
v. The government has a target of awarding road contracts of 10,000 kms for this fiscal.
2. Prasar Bharati Signs Historical MoU With
i. Prasar Bharati has signed a MoU with Empressa de Brazil Communicacao (EBC) in connection with several broadcast related activities including exchange of news, programmes and co-production.
ii. The MoU was signed between Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Jawhar Sircar and EBC Vice President Mr Mario in Brasilia, Brazil.
iii. The MoU includes long list of Indian programmes to be broadcast on EBC network including documentaries, science programs, serials and Portuguese programs from Goa.
iv. Mr. Sunil Lal, the honorable ambassador of India in Brazil facilitated the negotiations between two public service broadcasters.
v. Prasar Bharati has already signed similar MoUs with Russia and China in that realizing of the importance of BRICS.
3. Cipla Acquires 2 US Generic Drug Companies
i. Indian Pharmaceutical giant Cipla Ltd, has acquired 2 US generic drug companies, InvaGen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Exelan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
ii. This step has been taken to increase its revenue and introduce new products for oncology and diabetes in the world’s largest pharmaceutical market.
iii. The combined revenue for the two US companies at the end of year 2015 was over 230 million dollars.
iv. The acquisitions will give scale to Cipla's US business currently 8% of total revenue.
v. This is the second large scale acquisition in Cipla’s 80 year history and the first was South Africa’s Cipla Medpro.
4. Amit Mitra Appointed As New Chairman Of GST Committee
i. West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been appointed as the Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
ii. He will succeed Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani who had to resign in November over corruption charges.
iii. He was elected at the meeting of State Finance Ministers that was also attended by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
iv. With this, he becomes second chairman of the committee which is tasked to frame rules for rolling out of the ambitious GST regime in the country.
v. Amit Mitra is an economist by profession, he had served as Secretary General of industry association FICCI before joining politics in 2011.
5. Uma Bharti to Inaugurate Jal Manthan 2016
i. Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Sushri Uma Bharti will inaugurate Jal Manthan -2″ on February 22, 2016 New Delhi.
ii. The main theme of two day event is Integrated Approach for Sustainable Water Management.
iii. The two day event will have consultations and discussions on River Basin Approach for Sustainable development, Ground water, Water security, Principles of allocation of water, innovation in water governance, Water management, Coordination between centre and states, Water conservation and need for a National Legislation on water.
iv. Union Ministers of related Ministries/Departments, Chief Ministers of some States/Union Territories, Irrigation/ Water Resources Ministers of States/UTs, eminent experts in water sector, representatives of NGOs and senior officers of the Central and State Governments will be attending the event.
v. The first Jal Manthan was organized in November 2014.
6. Kalikho Pul sworn in as Arunachal CM
i. Dissident Congress leader Kalikho Pul, 46, has sworn in as the ninth Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh with the support of 18 rebel Congress MLAs, and two Independents and 11 BJP MLAs who gave outside support.
ii. Pul’s swearing-in came a day after the Supreme Court vacated its interim order to maintain status quo in the Arunachal Pradesh assembly, paving the way for government formation.
iii. The Centre had revoked President’s Rule in the state before Governor J P Rajkhowa administered the oath of office to Pul.
iv. Pul, a five-time MLA and former finance minister, had led a delegation of 31 MLAs and met Rajkhowa in Itanagar to stake claim to form the government.
v. Pul has the support of only 18 of the 45 Congress MLAs in the assembly. But 13 opposition MLAs two Independents and 11 from the BJP — have given in writing to the Governor that they back him.
7. Renowned Novelist Harper Lee Passes Away
i. Harper Lee, the author of the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has died in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, US.
ii. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer was 89.
iii. Her famous novel about a young girl’s experience of racial tensions in a small Southern town has sold tens of millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages.
iv. The author receded from the spotlight, long resisting offers to write more novels. Her magnum opus was adapted to film in 1962. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Gregory Peck), Best Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote) and Best Art Direction.
v. It was nominated for five other awards, including Best Picture, which was ultimately won by Lawrence of Arabia. George Bush awarded her the presidential medal of freedom in 2007.
8. World Bank to support Rajasthan on energy reforms
i. The World Bank has decided to lend support to the Rajasthan government on energy reforms.
ii. The decision was taken at a meeting between World Banks country director in India, Onno Ruhl and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
iii. The Rajasthan CM underlined the importance of ongoing projects on rural development, including the Jal Swablamban Abhiyan, and other new technologies in Agriculture, Skill Development and Tourism, and urged the WB official to provide support to these schemes too.
9. Skype Launches Group Video Calls On iOS & Android Phones And Tablets
i. Microsoft has announced that they're going to begin rolling out an update to Skype for iOS and Android that will support group video calling.
ii. The feature is not new though, as many smartphone users are familiar with such apps and websites that offer group video chat.
iii. Skype began a preview program for the feature back in January.
iv. Tens of thousands of people registered, providing "invaluable feedback". They've also added a number of features, such as increasing the number of people that can be involved in the group call from five to 25 people. There's also a flexible interface.
v. The user can choose a grid or a focus view, which automatically focuses on the person that's speaking
10. Aditya Birla, Idea form JV for Payments Bank
1. Aditya Birla Nuvo, one of the eleven entities that have received in-principle approvals from the RBI to set up payments banks, said it has incorporated a new subsidiary for the same purpose.
ii. The new entity, Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank Ltd, is a 51:49 joint venture (JV) between it and Idea Cellular, its telecom subsidiary in which it owns 23.26%.
iii. As per the norms issued by RBI, a payments bank can accept deposits up to Rs 1 lakh from individual customers, issue ATM and debit cards, offer payments and remittance services, and act as a distributor of simple financial products such as mutual funds units and insurance products.
iv. The central bank, however, barred payments banks from undertaking lending activities.
11. Playing It My Way enters Limca Book of records
i. Cricket Legend and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography, Playing It My Way, has entered the Limca Book of Records in the category of best-selling books across both fiction and non-fiction categories with 1,50,289 copies sold on order subscriptions.
ii. The book has been published by Hachette India in the year 2014 with Boria Majumdar as the co-author of the book.
iii.The book’s orders, on day one, already saw it pulling ahead of both pre-order and lifetime sales of the world’s top adult hardbacks Dan Brown’s Inferno, Walter Issacson’s Steve Jobs and JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy.