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Current Affairs - 01 March 2018

General Affairs 

Rajasthan farmers bar CM Raje, her ministers from entering villages in protest
  • After being stopped from entering Jaipur to register their protests against the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP regime, Rajasthan Kisan Sabha has decided to give the government a taste of its own medicine.

    The farmers, who had decided to lay siege around the Vidhan Sabha on February 22, have now threatened Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje that she and her ministers will not be allowed to enter villages in the state.

    Rajasthan government, fearing widespread unrest due to farmers' agitation, had put some key leaders of the Kisan Sabha, including the National President of All India Kisan Sabha and former MLA of the CPI-M Amraram, under arrest. The leaders were, however, released later.


    "Gram, wheat, mustard are being sold below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) across Rajasthan. In addition, the price that we are being paid for milk has come down by Rs 5 or even by Rs 15 at some places, while the consumer is still paying the same price," said Amraram.

    Kisan Sabha leaders intended to reach out to farmers in different villages and plan their future strategy.

    "We will campaign in every village for two months, hold sabhas and tell the people about the anti-farmer character of the government. If the government does not pay heed to our demands by May 1, we will seize all district collectorates in Rajasthan. These two month are also the season of harvest," Amraram added.

Muslims hail PM Modi's foreign policy following Jordan King Abdullah's India visit
  • Following the arrival of the King Abdullah of Jordan on a three-day visit to India on Tuesday, the Muslims have welcomed Modi government's "Look West" policy and said that mutual cooperation between India and the Gulf countries will go a long way towards eradicating terrorism based on radical Islam that is being exported by countries like Syria and Pakistan.

    Talking to India Today, Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad Chairman Sami Aghai said that Modi governments policies to involve the Gulf countries into a dialogue over radical Islam based terrorism is a major achievement for the country's foreign policy.

    He said that the way the King of Jordan facilitated PM Modis Palestine visit and is now in India to continue the dialogue, it was clear that Jordan was interested in cooperating with India's government over ending the menace of international terrorism.

    Aghai added that despite the apparent failure of a lot of economic policies, PM Modi excels in building relations with other nations and he has proved that during his recent Gulf visit, where he was welcomed in Jordan, Palestine, and Dubai.

    Although the Muslims of India were not happy with Modi's Israel visit, he assuaged their grievances by visiting Palestine as well, Aghai added.

    The King of Jordan has arrived in India where he will talk with Islamic scholars over improving understanding between religions and exercising moderation in dealing with matters of other religions, which is a major diplomatic win for the PM.

    Commenting on the King of Jordan's visit, Syed Irfan Salim, Chairman of Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee said that it was a welcome move by the King of Jordan to visit India to further the discussion over the spread of radical terrorism as Jordan is a country that is already in a tough position, trying to prevent the spread of these terror groups into its borders.

    Also read - King Abdullah in India: Jordan announces visa on arrival for Indians

    He said that Jordan shares its borders with several troubled countries of the Gulf region, including Syria and Iraq, and without international cooperation over curbing the menace of terrorism, it will be difficult for Jordan to control the terror groups like Al-Queda and ISIS on its own.

    He demanded that while he's here, the King of Jordan should also raise the issue of Israeli oppression of Palestine during his meeting with PM Modi and request India's mediation in resolving this political and humanitarian crisis in the region permanently.

    Salim claimed that taking into view the excellent relations of India with both Palestine and Israel, it will not be a difficult feat for PM Modi to provide a neutral ground to the leaders of both countries to hold peace talks in India.

    Hindustani Biradari Vice-Chairman Vishal Sharma said that the King of Jordan has already said in a recent meeting with Islamic scholars in Amman, which is popularly called the Amman Message, that true Islam forbids wanton aggression and terrorism, enjoins freedom of religion, peace, justice, and goodwill to non-Muslims.

    It is also a message of good news, friendship and hope to the whole world. He said that if the Amman Message is truly practiced in its letter and spirit, it will put an end to the pernicious spread of violent extremism.

When Gujarat fell to rioters after Sabarmati Express was set on fire in Godhra
  • Till 16 years ago, Godhra was a non-descript municipal town in Panchmahal district of Gujarat which was known as the land of cows and for Garba. Some religious people belonging to Vaishnava sect paid pilgrimage to this town which boasts of having literacy rate above the national average.

    But on February 27 in 2002, Godhra attained a new identity, for outsiders. Now, it is remembered for a train fire tragedy that killed 59 people and led to communal riots across Gujarat.

    At quarter-to-eight in the morning on that early spring day in 2002, the Sabarmati Express train made its scheduled arrival at Godhra railway station. Sabarmati Express then connected Muzaffarpur in Bihar with Ahmedabad in Gujarat and passed through several towns including Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

    Hundreds of karsevaks (volunteers) had gone to Ayodhya to take part in Purnahuti Yajna organised by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) that had led Ram Temple movement during 1980s and early 1990s which resulted in demolition of Mughal era Babri Mosque in December 1992. On February 25, around 1,700 people - including pilgrims and karsevaks - boarded Ahmedabad-bound Sabarmati Express, which arrived at Godhra on the morning of February 27.


    As the train started to leave Godhra railway station, the driver said in his statement, emergency chains were pulled a few times forcing a stop at the outer signal. According to police, a mob of around 2,000 attacked the train, pelted stones on the bogies and set four coaches on fire.

    Fifty-nine people including 27 women and 10 children died while 48 others were injured. Coach number S-6 bore the brunt of the attack.

    Following Godhra fire tragedy, riots broke out across Gujarat the next day, February 28. Though state government claimed to bring situation under control in three days, the rioting continued for two-three months in the state.

    As for the number of deaths in post-Godhra riots, the government told the Rajya Sabha in 2005 that 1044 people - 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus - lost their in Gujarat. Another 223 people were reported missing. Twenty-four Muslims and 13 Hindus were killed in police firings.

    Civil rights activists and NGOs, however, put the figure of those killed in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat at over 2,000.


    The state government constituted a commission of enquiry headed by Justice GT Nanavati with Justice KG Shah as member. The commission submitted its report saying that most of those killed were karsevaks and pilgrims returning from Ayodhya.

    Meanwhile, another report by the Forensic Studies Laboratory (FSL) at Gandhinagar, Gujarat prepared by of Mohinder Singh Dahiya, the then assistant director at the FSL, concluded that coach-6 was set on fire from within. The FSL report concluded that someone standing at the seat number 72 opened a container with big mouth to pour liquid fuel to set the coach on fire. The report argued that it could be an insider's handiwork.

    With the change of government at the Centre in 2004, another commission of enquiry was set up under Justice UC Banerjee. The commission termed the Godhra train burning "an accident" in its report, submitted in 2006. But the Supreme Court found the commission as unconstitutional and report invalid.

    The Supreme Court set up a special investigation team to probe the cases of Godhra train burning and Gujarat riots. In between, Justice Shah died in March 2008 and was replaced in the Nanavati Commission by Justice Akshay Mehta. Justices Nanavati and Mehta concluded in 2008 report that Godhra train burning was a conspiracy.


    Trial began in June 2009 - seven years after the Godhra train burning incident. Two years later, a fast track court in Ahmedabad convicted 31 persons while acquitting 63 other accused in the case. The trial court came to the same conclusion arrived at by Nanavati Commission that Godhra train burning was not an unplanned mob outrage rather it was a conspiracy.

    Of those convicted for Godhra train burning, 11 were sentenced to death while 20 others were handed life imprisonment. In October last year, the Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentences of 11 convicts to life term while upheld others' quantum of sentence and acquittal in the case. So, now all 31 convicts of Godhra train burning incident are sentenced for life.

    A number of cases relating to Gujarat riots are in various stages of judicial proceedings. Some of the most talked about cases relate to killings at the Gulberg Society, Ode, Sardarpura, Naroda Patya, Machipith, Tarsali, Pandarwada and Raghavapura.

    In 2016, a special court hearing the Gulberg society riots case - in which 68 people including former Lok Sabha MP Ehsan Jafri were killed - convicted 24 persons. Earlier in 2012, former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi were convicted in Naroda Patiya massacre case.

Karti Chidambaram, arrested in INX Media case, was destroying evidence: CBI sources
  • Karti Chidambaram, who was arrested in the INX Media case today morning, was destroying evidence while in the United Kingdom (UK), sources from within the Central Bureau of Investigation claim.

    Karti, a Congress leader and the son of former Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, was arrested because this belief - that he has destroyed evidence in UK - within the CBI, the sources added.

    A special team of officers from the CBI's Chennai unit was waiting for him at the city's airport where Karti Chidamabaram landed today.

    The CBI questioned him on his UK visit, but Karti did not respond to the agency's questions, the sources added.

    Karti Chidambaram will also be produced in a court in Delhi.

    With Karti Chidamabaram's arrest, the CBI finds itself at the centre of a raging political controversy. The Congress has said that the arrest is proof of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's 'vendetta' politics.

    "This is the classic diversionary tactic of the Modi government to hide their own corrupt governance model that is being exposed on a daily basis -- be it Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi or Dwarka Das Seth Jewellers," Congress's Priyanka Chaturvedi said.

    CBI sources, however, defended the agnecy, saying that they have enough documentary evidence against Karti Chidambaram.

    Commenting on the arrest, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "If corrupt are being jailed and law is taking its own course, I see no reason why any political party should cry vendetta. This is law, not vendetta."


    INX Media, which was once owned by Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukerjea, the prime suspects in the money laundering case had shown a transaction of Rs 10 lakh named against Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd, a firm which is indirectly owned by Karti Chidambaram, as management consultancy charges towards a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) notification and clarification.

    CBI has allegedly said that Karti Chidambaram took money from INX Media and used his influence and power to manipulate a tax probe against the company regarding a case of violation of FIPB conditions to get an investment from Mauritius.

    In 2010, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had registered a case under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for diverting foreign direct investment by three Mauritius based companies in INX Media to its step down subsidiaries without prior approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

    New Vernon Private Equity Limited, New Silk Route (NSR) PE Mauritius, and Dunearn Investment (Mauritius) were the three companies in INX Media involved.

    After an investigation by Central Board of Direct Taxes which came up with the tax history of the INX group, it suggested that Mukerjeas were involved in laundering Rs 305 crore through Mauritius into 8 different INX subsidiary companies.

    A case was filed against Karti seeking probe by CBI and Enforcement Directorate.

Here's why Maldives declined India's invitation for Milan 2018 naval exercise
  • Maldives has declined India's invitation to participate in a naval exercise, in an apparent snub to New Delhi, even as the Maldivian envoy here said his country cannot participate in the event due to the emergency situation back home.

    Maldives Ambassador Ahmed Mohamed also asserted that the two nations enjoy a history of excellent defence and military cooperation, a tradition which they are confident will endure and continue indefinitely, remarks which are seen as an attempt to assuage feelings here.

    "Maldives was invited to join the Milan exercise but they have declined," Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba told reporters on the sidelines of an event today, and indicated that the country may have taken the decision possibly due to the current situation there.

    India will host navies from at least 15 countries for the eight-day mega naval exercise 'Milan' that is set to begin on March 6 at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    Maldives has been regularly participating in the biennial exercise, which was started in 1995.

    Reacting to the development, Mohamed told PTI, "I would like to clarify that the Maldives is unable to participate in the naval exercise during this time due to the current circumstances of a State of Emergency being in effect for those under investigation for serious crimes. During such a time especially, security personnel are expected to be at a heightened stance of readiness."

    He also noted that the participation of Maldives naval officers would have been as "observers" only.

    "When situations warrant that officers be at their post, back at home, we have held back on deploying them to participate in exercises and training programs held overseas, and as such, not being able to participate in the naval exercise at this time is not extraordinary," he said.

    However, he asserted that Maldives and India enjoy a "long history of excellent defence and military cooperation and it is a tradition that we are confident that will endure and continue indefinitely".

    Ties between India and Maldives nose-dived after Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared emergency on February 5 following an order by the country's Supreme Court to release a group of opposition leaders, who had been convicted in widely criticised trials.

    India has issued a number of statements, reacting strongly over the imposition of emergency on February 5 and subsequent extension by a month.

    The exercise is taking place in the backdrop of China's growing military posturing in the Indo-Pacific region and officials indicated that the issue is likely to figure during deliberations at the event. Significantly, there are reports of growing proximity between Male and Beijing.

Business Affairs

GDP growth at 7.2% in December quarter; India regains world's fastest growing major economy tag
  • India has regained the world's fastest growing major economy tag with the GDP at 7.2 per cent for October-December quarter, compared to China's 6.8 per cent. The GDP figure for the December quarter has beaten estimates in the range of 6.5 to 6.9 percent.

    The third quarter GDP upturn comes on the back of a strong performance of the manufacturing sector, which has seen GVA growth at 8.1 percent as against 6.9 percent in the preceding quarter. The higher-than-predicted GDP growth number brings the much-needed relief for the economy which was reeling under the aftershocks of big policy decisions like GST and demonetisation.

    The GDP data released by Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation gives a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially at a time when public sector banks have been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    The agricultural gross value added (GVA) growth increased by 4.1 percent against 2.7 percent in the previous quarter and 7.5 percent in year ago quarter. Construction has seen a 6.8 percent growth compared with 2.8 percent growth in preceding and year-ago quarter.

    The economy is expected to grow at 6.6 per cent in the current fiscal ending March 31, as per the second advanced estimates of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), compared to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17. The earlier estimate was 6.5 per cent.

    The growth for the second quarter (July-September) has been revised upwards to 6.5 per cent, from 6.3 per cent estimated earlier by the CSO. The previous high was recorded at 7.5 per cent in the July-September quarter of 2016-17.

    The CSO said that the real GDP or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant (2011-12) prices in 2017-18 is likely to be Rs 130.04 lakh crore, as against the first revised estimate for 2016-17 of Rs 121.96 lakh crore, released on January 31.

    The growth in GDP during 2017-18 is estimated at 6.6 per cent as compared to the growth rate of 7.1 percent in 2016-17, it added. The gross valued added (GVA) for manufacturing in the quarter under review grew at 8.9 per cent higher than 6.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

    Similarly, the farm sector GVA grew at 4.1 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent in the previous quarter. The construction sector recorded a growth of 6.8 per cent, higher than 2.8 per cent in previous quarter.

    The services segment including financial services grew at rate of 6.7 per cent up from 6.4 per cent in previous quarter.

CBI books Kolkata-based RP Infosystem for defrauding 17 banks of Rs 515 crore
  • Soon after the Nirav Modi scam, more bank frauds are coming to the light. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now booked Kolkata-based computer company RP Infosystem Ltd and its directors for defrauding a consortium of Canara Bank and 16 other lender of more than Rs 500 crore.

    "The leader of the consortium had filed a case with CBI in May 2015. The account had been treated as fraud by our bank during October 2015 and reported to RBI. Consequent upon the leader bank relinquishing its role as the leader of the consortium and as directed by CBI (BS&FC), Kolkata, we were authorised by the remaining member banksto file revised complaint with CBI," Canara Bank said in a statement.

    Under the consortium of 17 banks, Canara Bank financed a working capital limit of Rs 40 crores (4.69 per cent), the private sector lender mentioned in the statement, adding that that it was not the leader of the consortium.

    Based on the complaint received from Canara Bank Deputy Manager DV Prasad Rao, the central investigative agency filed an FIR against company's directors Shivaji Panja, Kaustuv Ray, Vinay Bafna, vice-president (Finance) Debnath Paul along with unidentified bank officials. They have been accused of defrauding the 17-bank consortium of Rs 515 crore. The directors named in the case had allegedly acquired the loan on the basis of forged stocks and debtors' statements, and then wilfully defaulted on it.

    The other banks in the consortium included State Bank of India, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Union Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Central Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala, Federal Bank, and Punjab National Bank, among others.

    The case has been registered under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 468 and 471 (both related to forgery) of the IPC and the criminal misconduct by a public servant, according to an ANI report.  

    The FIR says the accused were availing bank funds on the basis of 'false and fabricated stock/receivables/ debtors statements, forged drawing power letter, etc.'

    The Letters of Credit (LC) opened by different banks on application of RP Infosystem began devolving from non-maintenance of funds. "The said borrower company dishonestly and fraudulently did not route the sale proceeds through the loan account and siphoned off the entire amount," the FIR said.

    RP Infosystem had also inflated its receivables, Canara bank mentioned in the FIR, as supposed debtors like Gail India, Vincent Electronics and CEAT informed that they had no dealings with the company. Following this, Canara Bank filed the FIR with CBI with consent from other member banks of the consortium.

    Panja, one of the directors of RP Infosystem has been involved in financial offences since long. In 2015, he was arresed dramatically while returning from Dhaka with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He was detained by the state police on the basis of a lookout notice by economic offences wing of Delhi police.

    The CBI had booked Panja along with other directors of RP Infosystem in June 2015 for defrauding IDBI Bank of Rs 180 crore.

IndiGo boosts regional connectivity with 7 ATR-operated routes
  • Budget carrier IndiGo today announced expansion of its regional operations, adding seven new ATR-operated flights from next month, connecting Nagpur and Mangalore with Hyderabad and Chennai.

    It will operate two direct daily flights on the Hyderabad-Nagpur-Hyderabad sector, and thrice daily on the Hyderabad-Mangalore-Hyderabad sector from March 25, the airline said, adding it will also operate two direct daily flights on the Chennai-Mangalore-Chennai sector from May 1.

    IndiGo's current fleet comprise 155 aircraft -- 151 Airbus A320s and four ATRs.

    "We are continuously striving to expand deeper into the heartland with our new ATR fleet. We are hopeful that these flights will provide more choices to customers," IndiGo spokesperson Wolfgang Prock-Schauer was quoted as saying in the release.

    The Gurugram-based no-frills airline operates over 1,000 daily flights connecting 50 destinations.

Sensex closes 99 points lower to 33,346, Nifty at 10,554 level; PNB ends at 20-month low
  • The Sensex and Nifty closed lower on Tuesday dragged by financial sector stocks after public sector lender PNB said the amount of fraudulent transactions could be as much as Rs 12,700 crore.

    Banking stocks took a plunge with bank Nifty falling 304 points or 1.18% to 25,383 level led by the PNB stock.

    On the BSE, bankex was the top loser falling 1.43% or 414 points to 28,587 level.

    The sector is the biggest loser of the day.

    IT sector stocks bucked the trend with the BSE IT index rising 0.26% or 32.01 points to 12,399 level.

    While the Sensex fell 99 points to 34,346 level, the Nifty fell 28 points to 10,554 level.

    The market opened in the green but erased its gains on selling in realty, banks, finance and power counters despite higher Asian cues. Market sentiment was bolstered in the morning hours after a Morgan Stanley report said India's economic recovery is expected to have gathered momentum and GDP growth for the December quarter is likely to have accelerated to 7%, brokers said.

    PNB, which has taken the maximum hit on the banking fraud, closed 12.11 percent lower at a 20- month low of 98.35 level. Gitanjali Gems, too, cracked nearly 5%.

    On the Sensex, Axis Bank (2.68%), SBI (2.53%) and Sun Pharma (2.02%) were the top losers.

    Market breadth was negative with 1029 stocks rising against 1705 falling on BSE. 151 stocks were unchanged.

    Investors are eyeing October-December GDP data, to be released on Tuesday.

    On a net basis, DIIs bought shares worth Rs 1,409.45 crore, while foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth Rs 1,119.51 crore on Monday, provisional data released by stock exchanges showed.

    Global stocks

    Global stock markets were mixed Tuesday ahead of the Federal Reserve chair's testimony in the U.S. Congress later in the day, his first public appearance as head of the Fed.

    Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 7,298.20 and France's CAC 40 inched up 0.1 percent to 5,350.35. Germany's DAX was flat at 12,525.16. Futures augured a lukewarm start on Wall Street. S&P futures dipped 0.2 percent and Dow futures also fell 0.2 percent.

    Japan outperformed the region, with its benchmark Nikkei 225 jumping 1.1 percent to 22,389.86. South Korea's Kospi finished 0.1 percent lower at 2,456.14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.7 percent to 31,268.66, while China's Shanghai Composite Index slumped 1.1 percent to 3,292.07. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 6,056.90. Stocks in Taiwan and Singapore turned lower while other Southeast Asian countries were higher.

EPFO makes online claims must for PF withdrawals above Rs 10 lakh
  • Retirement fund body EPFO has made it mandatory to file online claims for provident fund withdrawals above Rs 10 lakh, taking another step towards becoming a paperless organisation.

    The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has also made it mandatory to file online claims for withdrawals of above Rs 5 lakh under the Employees Pension Scheme 1995.

    Under the pension scheme, there is a provision of part withdrawal of pension, commonly known as commutation of pension money. At present, EPFO subscribers have the option of filing online as well as manual claims for provident fund withdrawal as also for pension.

    The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Central Provident Fund Commissioner on January 17, 2018, an official said.

    The official said the field offices have been directed that the claims must be accepted online in case the amount of provident fund withdrawal is above Rs 10 lakh.

    Similarly, the claims must be online in case the amount is above Rs 5 lakh under employees' pension scheme, the official added.

    The bank account of the subscriber has to be seeded and verified in the system before the online claims can be settled. Moreover, the subscriber should have been issued a universal account number and same must be activated.

    The official said that all claims exceeding the said limits would not be accepted in the physical form now onwards.

    The EPFO has over six crore subscribers and manages a corpus of Rs 10 lakh crore.

General Awareness

e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
National e-Governance Awards

  • Context: National e-governance Awards were presented on the occasion of 21st National Conference on e-Governance. The National e-Governance Awards recognise and promote excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives taken by various government departments and also initiatives of public sector units and Non- Government Institutions.

    About the conference:

    The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India, along with the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India in association with Government of Telangana have organized the 21stNational Conference on e-Governance in Hyderabad, Telangana.

    The Conference serves as a forum in which the Secretaries, Administrative Reforms and Secretaries, Information Technology of State Governments, IT Managers of the Central Governments, Software Solution providers, industry, etc. participate and interact, exchange opinions, views, discuss issues, problems and also analyze various solution frameworks.

    Theme: Technology for Accelerating Development.

    Sub themes:

    Building User experience.
    Universalization and Replication.
    Governing e – Governance.
    Emerging technologies.
    e-Governance good/best practices.

    What is e governance?

    e-Governance is generally understood as the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all the level of the Government in order to provide services to the citizens, interaction with business enterprises and communication and exchange of information between different agencies of the Government in a speedy, convenient efficient and transparent manner.

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