Current Affairs 2020: General Knowledge Section is the easiest and qualifying section in most competitive exams with the right focus. To bag a good score in these sections, one must follow the daily current affairs for at least a few minutes. Current affairs are vastly diversified with topics from politics, finance, sports, etc and getting lost in this vastness might be confusing sometimes. General Knowledge (GK) can be divided into static and dynamic. Static GK will involve topics from Indian History, Geography, Indian Polity, Indian Economy, etc and these topics can be grasped by various general knowledge-based books. Dynamic GK, on the other hand, will be based on daily happenings or current affairs around the world and following them regularly will aid in cracking the competitive exams. For dynamic GK, start by reading news from quality outlets. You can start right away by bookmarking this article.
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Current Affairs February 2020
Top Current Affairs for 28th February 2020
Artificial Intelligence Modules launched in Schools by NITI Aayog
India is doing everything to give its future generations the exposure of a lifetime to excel in life. The schools in India traditionally have been imparting knowledge through theoretical lectures, but now many schools have been seen introducing many new modules and teaching aids for their students.
- On February 27th the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission came together to introduce a new module opening the world of artificial intelligence for Indian schools.
- The AI module will be implemented in 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs in India, exposing 2.5 million students to the world of artificial intelligence, which commenced from February 27th.
- The module will be taught through videos, activities, and experiments, which will make learning fun for the children and entice their interest in this field. This will, in turn, prove to be fruitful for India overall. Artificial Intelligence (AI) set up module is the next level of this teaching.
- This is the first-ever educational initiative introduced in India on such a large scale to keep the children in the loop with the latest technologies. The reason for this is by 2030, the market for AI is set to rise by 15 Trillion – 15.5 Trillion USD globally, and India will be having a share of 1 Trillion in this.
- AI is slowing becoming a considerable part of a nation’s economic growth; the module will teach children various aspects of AI which will be important for them in the future to enter various fields relating to AI.
- Technologies from Microsoft, Adobe, SAP Labs, Wipro and NASSCOM are some of the partner companies of this initiative students will be taught technologies of these companies.
India – Myanmar sign 10 MoUs during Myanmar’s President’s India Visit
India is currently on a roll, it has been a host to the U.S President Donald Trump recently and is now hosting the President of Myanmar U Win Myint. This visit marked the signing of 10 Memorandums of Understanding, which aimed at developing Rakhine to facilitate the evacuation of refugees in Rohingya, which will commence from April 7th.
- President U Win Myint visited India along with the First Lady Daw Cho Cho and was hosted by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind and Union Minister of External Affairs Shri S. Jaishankar.
- The memorandum will also include the initiation of a bus service from Imphal in Manipur to Mandalay in Myanmar. This is done to increase connectivity and contact between the two nations.
- Four memos have been specifically drawn for the Rakhine state. They aim at the construction of seed storage houses, incinerators, water supply, and solar power systems, two roads, and preschools for the five townships in the state.
- The rest of the memos include dealing with new opportunities like cooperation in petroleum products and communication and also include the protection of animals, and it covers issues like conservation of tigers and other wildlife creatures, especially the endangered ones.
Sri Lanka withdraws from UNHRC Resolution
On February 26th, the Government of Sri Lanka submitted a formal notice to the United Nations expressing its desire to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The Council was dealing with Sri Lanka’s decades-old feud with the Tamil Separatists.
- Sri Lanka, along with 11 other countries, partnered with the UNHRC to sponsor a resolution to investigate the war crimes by Tamil Tiger rebels and the government forces. The Tamil Tigers demanded a separate homeland for themselves as they were Tamil minorities.
- Sri Lanka had been a part of the UNHRC to investigate the alleged war crimes committed by the separatists and the governmental forces. The UNHRC’s resolution 40/1 promoted accountability, reconciliation, and human rights, and Sri Lanka now has decided to withdraw from its partnership of this resolution.
- The Sri Lankan government now decided that it will not work along with the 2015 resolution, which demands accountability for alleged extreme operations carried out by the Sri Lankan forces against the victims.
- Earlier the U.S. Government had imposed a travel ban on the Sri Lankan Army Commander Shavendra Silva and his family because it was found in investigations that he shelled a hospital and a unit of the United Nations to free Puthumathalan.
- All this matter boiled up after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 when many right groups accused the forces of killing thousands of Tamil citizens.
The 6th Coast Guard OPV – 6: VAJRA launched in Chennai
On February 27th, the 6th Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vehicle (OPV) ‘VAJRA” was launched in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The VAJRA was launched by the Union Minister of State for Shipping and Chemicals & Fertilizers Shri Mansukh Mandviya.
- The 6th OPV VAJRA has the capacity to secure 7,500 km of vast coastline, making it a valuable asset of the Indian Coast Guard.
- It is an advanced vehicle containing two Navigation Radars developed with ultra-modern technology, which will enhance its navigation and communication.
- The job of VAJRA is to guard the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) spread across 20 lakh sq. Km. This is where more than one lakh merchant ships transit every year to operate global trade.
- The VAJRA will also be tasked with certain specific operations of the coast guard, and will work as a surveillance vessel and also conduct rescue missions if needed. It will guard the waters of the EEZ against terrorism and smuggling.
- This OPV is one of the most significant contributions of the Make in India initiative and was developed by M/s L&T Shipbuilding.
The Union Cabinet approves occupying rights to Scheduled Tribes of Lakshadweep
On February 26th, the Union Cabinet approved the amendments made to the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulations 1965. The amendments will provide occupancy rights to the Scheduled Tribes of the Lakshadweep Island.
- Lakshadweep being an Archipelago, consists of 12 atolls, five submerged banks, three reefs, and 17 uninhabited regions. It has a population of 64,429 (Census, 2011).
- The Lakshadweep Island is mostly occupied with the Scheduled Tribe population (93% of the population), and ironically they don’t have any occupancy rights.
- The decision is a part of the Good Governance Initiatives of the Prime Minister of India and was made after much consideration and repeated reviews.
Finance Minister launched Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE 3.0)
The Finance Minister of India Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE 3.0) reform agenda on February 26th 2020.
- Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE 3.0) reform agenda aim at providing smart, technologically advanced public sector banking in India. The EASE 3.0 will be much more user-friendly and will make Public Sector Banking much easier and approachable.
- The Reforms Agenda FY21 and EASE 3.0 details all the changes and upgrades that are aimed at improving the Public Sector Banks in India.
- The important reason for the introduction of the agenda is to retain bad loans effectively and prevent such dealing in the future.
- Another important aspect is to gather as much customer information in order to make effective credit decisions. Also to have information regarding various government schemes to be conveyed to the customers.
- Data Analytics will be introduced in the banking sector, Palm Banking for end to end digital delivery of financial services, ‘Banking on Go’ outlets at malls, stations, complexes etc. and digital banking are some of the other features of the EASE 3.0.
- The goal behind introducing such a measure is to impart digitalization in the banking sector through Udyami Mitra, customer responsiveness, credit take-off and deep financial inclusions.
Top Current Affairs for 27th February 2020
M.M. Wildlife Sanctuary to be Tiger Reserve Soon
The Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary has been proposed to become a Tiger Reserve. The proposal was made earlier this month to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and a formal announcement will be made by the State Government as soon as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) gives its permission.
- Once the approval comes through the Chamarajanagar will then have three Tiger Reserves, it already has the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple Tiger Reserve.
- This will in turn give Karnataka a total of six Tiger Reserves, apart from the above mentioned reserves it has the Nagarahole, Bhadra and the Anshi – Dandeli Tiger Reserve.
- The sanctuary will be renamed as the Malai Mahadeshwara Hill Tiger Reserve and will be spread across Malai Mahadeshwara Reserve Forest, Hanur Reserve Forest and the Yediyarahalli Reserve Forest. Its core area is 670.95 sq. km and the buffer will be spread over 235.19 sq. km.
- The proposal was first sent it May 2019 but was returned due to some clarifications needed with the boundary level, existing settlements, tourism and the religious zones surrounding the areas. When all the glitches were corrected the proposal was resent in January 2020.
- The Reserve currently has 20 Tigers but since the Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary shares borders with BRT Tiger Reserve, Satyamangalam Reserve and the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary it absorbs an area of 3,500 sq. km which is enough to become a comfortable home for existing Tiger population and for their offspring.
- Strict measures have been taken to protect the Tiger population, 39 anti – poaching camps surround the reserves and the plan is to double it once it becomes a Tiger Reserve.
- The reserves have an abundant population of Mahseer fish, grizzled giant squirrel, sloth bear, wild dogs and striped hyena etc.
Largest Cave Fish on earth discovered in Meghalaya
The experts from U.K. Switzerland and India have found the largest Cave Fish in the world in Meghalaya. It is regarded as the largest known subterranean fish in world and is 40 cm long.
- The anatomy of this fish is very similar to the Mahseer fish species who are an endangered species.
- The length of 40cm may seem very insignificant to humans but in the world of the cave fishes this one was Shaquille O’Neal. This nullifies the argument that body lengths in cave are restricted to being 35cm or less due to scarcity of food.
- The team which discovered the fish includes two Indian, Rajeev Raghavan an Aquatic Conservation Biologist and Neelesh Dahanukar for the Indian Institute of Science Education.
- The cave fish has shares many similarities with the golden Mahseer, except that it has a blender look, lack of eyes and it lives in a cave whereas the Mahseer is found in the flowing river. Investigations are still on and for now it can’t be surely determined that a new species has been found.
- The only reason they remained undetected till now was because caves are the least explored habitats in India.
The Vishwakarma Awards for the year 2019
The Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal recently awarded the ‘Vishwakarma Awards 2019.’ The ceremony was held in New Delhi at the All India Council for Technical Education.
- Out of the 6676 teams only 117 teams made it to final cut and out those only 23 teams received awards in various categories.
- The 23 teams were awarded under different subcategories of the ‘Chatra Vishwakarma Awards’. Six institutions received awards under ‘Utkrisht Institution Vishwakarma Awards’.
- There were eight sub categories and the top three in each category would receive a cash prize of Rs. 51,000, Rs. 31,000 and Rs. 21,000 respectively and a Certificate of Commendation.
- Six institutions received awards by the Ministry of Human Resource Development after much investigation, out of these six, three were awarded certificates of commendable work in the development of villages and the other three were awarded for best practices.
- Memorandums of Understanding were signed between various institutions like All India Council for Technical Education and IIT Kanpur, IIT Ropar, IIT Bhubaneswar and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research.
First Anniversary of National War Memorial
This year marks the first anniversary of the National War Memorial. On 25th February Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat honoured the martyred soldiers of the nation along with all the veteran soldiers from the Navy, Army and the Air Force.
- The National War Memorial is a monument erected in the memory of all the brave soldiers from all the three wings of the armed forces who have laid down their lives for the nation.
- The monument was inaugurated last year on 25th February and since then around 25 lakh people have visited the memorial.
- The celebrations began from 22nd February with a fixed band display by the Navy, Air Force and the Army. Students of various schools and colleges in Delhi participated in the Quiz Contest held from 24th – 25th February.
- The main ceremony saw General Bipin Rawat pay homage to the fallen warriors and brave veterans of the armed forces.
- The memorial wall consists of the names of 25,942 soldiers martyred after independence. The soldiers are the ones who fought in wars like Indo – China War 1962, Indo – Pak Wars 1965, 1971 and 1999. It also contains the names of the soldiers who died in the Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka.
- The monument consists of four concentric circles representing the Amar Chakra, Veerta Chakra, Tyag Chakra, Raksha Chakra around an obelisk, the obelisk contains an ‘eternal flame’ representing the immortal souls of the soldiers known as the Amar Jawan.
GoI launched SPICe+ to boost Ease of Doing Business in India
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs launched the SPICe+ an e – form on 24th February, to improve the Ease of Doing Business in India.
The SPICe+ is an advanced tool that will perform 10 services of various ministries and departments in one place.
- The SPICe+ stands for Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically Plus, it is an easy electronic form filled in order to incorporate a company.
- The aim of the SPICe+ is to ease the process of starting a business in India. Earlier a person had to visit various ministries in order to get all the permissions but with this e – platform they can complete various processes in one place.
- The SPICe+ will be incorporated on the MCA21 and will replace the existing SPICe. The need to launch such a method was to upgrade India’s position, currently at 63, in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking published by the World Bank.
- The platform will provide help in various areas like allotment of company name, registration of a company, allotment of Director Identification Number, Permanent Account Number, Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number, Employee Provident Fund Organization and Goods and Services Tax Identification Number, opening company’s bank account etc.
- Out of the ten services it will provide services of the three Central Government Ministries like Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour and the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
- Real time data verification for on – screen filing is one of the pros of using the new system.
- It will also help companies in online GST registration and also registration for profession tax for the companies originating from Maharashtra.
4th Anniversary of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission
The 4th Anniversary of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was observed on the 21th February. The mission was originated by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi in order to bring catalytic interventions to rural areas who are rapidly moving forward towards growth.
- The aim of this mission is to induce economic development by upgrading the basic resources of the people living in rural areas and creating efficient Rurban (Rural – Urban areas) clusters all over the country. This mission will advance these areas and lead to a holistic expansion and will pave way for integrated and inclusive development of the region.
- 300 Rurban clusters are currently underway to become fully developed areas with a certain time frame. Looking at the success of these clusters plans to increase the number by 1,000 clusters in the next three years has been proposed.
- The plan is to maintain the essence of rural life but with proper equipment to make sure they overcome every obstacle hampering their lives.
- The budget allocated for this mission is Rs. 5,142 crore and it was first mentioned in the Union Budget of 2014 – 15.
- The Urban clusters will be developed in a segregated manner with 25,000 – 50,000 people living in the plains and 5,000 – 15,000 people living in the desert and hilly areas.
Top Current Affairs for 26th February 2020
Donald Trump India visits: Talks on future trade deal
The U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s India visit was scheduled from 24th February to 25th February 2020. He was escorted by the First Lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, who visited India last year, and many representatives of the U.S government.
- With the President of the United States of America currently in India, New Delhi and Gujrat have been decked for his visit as this tour is important for India because the two world leaders will discuss the 10 Billion Dollar mega trade deal between the two nations.
- The basket of the agreement is full of many useful fruits like the collaborations on dealing with mental health issues, supply of apex quality of medicines to the U.S., defense deals which promises a certain type of helicopter’, intellectual property right deal and to our much delight a deal on collaboration on space programs.
- The deal has been compromised a little because of some decisions the two nations took before Trump’s visit. India is asking the U.S. to reinstate its ‘developing nation’ status which in turn made India impose retaliatory tariffs on walnuts imported from California. India being a huge market for these walnuts the damage faced by 35 consignments became an issue for the U.S.
- The U.S., on the other hand, wants a more ambitious deal now including more sectors like the medical and dairy sector, the talks to upgrade the deal have been happening continuously between the US Trade Representative Mr. Robert Lighthizer and Minister of Commerce in India Shri Piyush Goyal.
- India raising the bar even higher demanded to be a Free Trade Agreement partner of the U.S. in the long term.
- Both nations have time and again emphasized the need to fight terrorism and protect their nations from any possible threats. Keeping this in mind the two nations will come up with a memorandum of agreement for counter-terrorism, it will focus on aviation and immigration security.
- India’s energy requirements, a pact between Indian Oil Corporation and Exxon on the LNG pipeline infrastructure, a task force to process, explore and supply 10 million tonnes of high-grade metallurgical coal worth about USD 2 billion, all will be discussed and signed during the Industrial Security Annex Summit to be held in the U.S. in April.
NITI Aayog has released a report on National Nutrition Mission
The National Nutrition Mission, as the name suggests, is an operation to eliminate the malice of under nutrition, especially among children, and other related difficulties in India. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) recently released a report on the National Nutrition Mission.
- The report stated that one in every two women in India is anemic, one in every three children is stunted, one in every 3 children is malnourished.
- 37 out 1,000 babies born in India do not survive to the age of one year and for every 1 lakh birth, there are 167 maternal deaths.
- One of the biggest challenges faced by the development of the nation is its nutrition level and India is one such country. There have been improvements since the past decade but India is still way behind in providing healthy lives to its children even after a load of funding.
- Many organizations along with the government have worked tirelessly to fight malnutrition like the Ministry of Women and Child Development, NITI and Civic Engagement Alliance.
- The highest level of child stunting was found in Uttar Pradesh with an astonishing 53 districts under the spell and followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
- Many initiatives have been started in order to reduce undernutrition like providing mid-day meals, proper water, full immunization and deworming of children, encouraging early breastfeeding. Creating awareness regarding delaying marriageable age for women and having a gap between marriage and pregnancy. Compensate for wage loss during pregnancy and lastly providing Iron Folic Acid supplements.
- The biggest problems faced by the mission are lack of technical support, lack of year to year data, difficult real monitoring district-level data. The states need to build strategies pertaining to them.
- Some of the initiatives that have been introduced to prevent undernourishment are Doodh Sanjeevani Yojna, Third Meal, and Mathrupoorna Scheme.
Bihar Museum set to host India’s first Museum Biennale
The Bihar Museum will host the Bihar Museum Biennale this year which will display its collection of 14 public and private museums. It is the first such event to be held in India to showcase India’s artistic richness and abundance of cultural lineage.
- The Bihar Museum was established in 2015 with the aim of preserving Bihar’s historic legacy, it is one of India’s youngest museums.
- Many prominent museums will participate in this event like the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, National Gallery of Modern Art, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Piramal Museum of Art, Viraasat – e – Khalsa.
- The Museum Biennale will only display a collection of Indian art. The Bihar Museum has a mix collection of traditional and modern art.
- The aim of the Bihar Museum is to expose the treasures and the private patronages of India.
- The Bihar Museum Biennale will begin from 25th March till 25th June 2020.
Elections for 55 Rajya Sabha seats to be conducted on March 26
On 25th February the Election Commission of India announced the commencement of elections to 55 Upper House (Rajya Sabha) seats on 26th March. The seats of various states will become vacant due to retirement in April and the resignation of the occupants.
- 51 of the 55 seats from 17 states will become vacant on different dates of April due to the retirement of the members and the rest 4 will become vacant due to resignation.
- Some prominent retiring members are Upper House Deputy Chairman Harivansh, Ramdas Athawale, Motilal Vora, Vijay Goel, Kumari Selja, Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah. One seat also became vacant after the passing of BJP Veteran Arun Jaitley.
- The states from where the seats are being vacated are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.
- Notification will be issued on 6th March and the final date of entering the nominations will be 13th March.
- Although BJP is predicted to win most seats, the Trinamool Congress and YSR Congress Party are also expected to increase their kitty with more additions.
Central Excise Day
The Central Excise Day is celebrated across in on 24th February to encourage the implementation of central excise duty, prevent corruption in the manufacturing business and monitoring the implementation of the duty effectively.
- On this day various seminars, workshops, cultural events and awareness programs are held across the country by organizations, individuals and concerned authorities.
- In India, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is responsible for administering Customs, Goods, and Service Tax (GST), Central Excise, Service Tax and Narcotics in India.
- The department was initially established to manage the laws of customs but gradually it was involved in policy formulation of levy and collection of customs, central excise duties, GST and IGST.
- The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs was formerly known as Central Board of Excise and Customs. It comes under the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. The board heads the Custom Houses, Central Revenues Control Laboratory and Central GST Commissionerates.
National Integration Camp inaugurated in Sikkim
On 24th February the National Integration Camp was held in South Sikkim, it was inaugurated by the Lok Sabha MP Shri Indra Hang Subba at the Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure and Ecotourism Institute at Chemchey. The camp was organized by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, Sikkim.
- The aim of the camp is to promote national integration by encouraging all the states and union territories to come together and engage themselves in this initiative. It wanted to show the cultural diversity of India.
- The theme of the camp is ‘Ek Bharat – Shreshth Bharat’. It will be held from 24th February to 27th February.
- The visitors were made to enjoy the natural beauty of Sikkim and it was noted that Sikkim is a pollution-free state with clean and healthy air surrounding it.
- It was attended by 250 participants from 16 states. Many states were paired up with one another and New Delhi was paired up with Sikkim.
- A dance performance surrounding the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative was seen.
- The youth of Sikkim were educated about the importance of the growth of a nation and were encouraged to participate in this growth.
Top Current Affairs for 25th February 2020
Indian Railways launched Artificial Intelligence-based Chatbot ASKDISHA
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is very keen on making the Indian Railway system much more technological advanced by introducing various measures like self-sustainable railway stations and the new advancement to join this feat is the ASKDISHA chatbot.
- The AI chatbot offers assistance accessibility as it answers all the questions regarding different railway services.
- The ASKDISHA is developed by CoRover Private Limited which is a start-up based in Bengaluru, its expertise lies in creating AI and machine learning-based chatbots for the travel and tourism industry.
- The chatbot is available in Hindi and English and works to provide it in various other regional languages is under process.
- It is available on the IRCTC website and will soon be available as an android app and voice assistant.
- As soon as a query is written by a customer the chatbot will provide various related options on the query to ease the search process, in case the user is not satisfied with the result, there is a separate option to write customized queries.
- ASK DISHA will provide assistance like reservation of tickets, inquiry of refund status, cancellation, PNR search, train running status, fare and inquiry about retiring rooms.
- It has benefitted 150 million passengers so far and has had around 10 billion transactions till date.
A new species of Snails: Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae
A species of snails was discovered in Brunei, on the Borneo Island, on 20th February. The Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae is a pale bodied and concave shelled snail who is two millimeters long. It has dark grey tentacles and a greenish-brown outer body.
- Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae is sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures which pose danger to these newly found species because both these disasters are frequent due to climate change.
- The new species is named after Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen climate activist, who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about climate change.
- The species were discovered by a group of citizen scientists along with the scientists from Taxon Enterprise, Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, who are known to lead scientific trips to discover new species.
- During the expedition, these snails were found foraging at night at the foot of a hillside near a riverbank.
Northern Frontier Railway builds India’s tallest pier bridge in Manipur
The Northern Frontier Railway Construction Organization has built India’s tallest pier bridge of the railway. The bridge is built across River Makru in the Tamenglong district of Manipur.
- The bridge is 100 meters tall and has a range of 550 meters. It is a part of 111km long Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge line which consists of 47 tunnels, one of which is 10.28km long.
- The bridge is built with the best quality of material to ensure durability, the steel girders have been prefabricated in Kolkata and were carefully transported in segments.
- The cost of the building the bridge was Rs. 283.5 crore.
- The bridge has exceeded the Mala-Rijeka Viaduct in Montenegro in Europe which is 139 meters.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana completed one year
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM – KISAN Scheme) which was launched last year on 24th February by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed one year.
- The scheme was initiated in order to help the farmers to meet their agricultural or household needs of the country and provide Rs. 6000 per year in three installments.
- The scheme was launched last year at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and till now over 8 crore farmers have benefited from this scheme.
- Earlier the scheme was designed to provide help to marginal farmers having cultivable land holding up to 2 hectors but later every farmer irrespective of their landholdings were included in the scheme. It only excluded comfortable farmers who are in the position to pay taxes.
- Special provisions were made in the scheme for the North Eastern States and Jharkhand where land ownership is community-based and where land records haven’t been updated respectively.
- Funds released for this scheme have been up to Rs. 50,850 crore and has a total of 14 crore beneficiaries.
- Departments like Union Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Land Resources, Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary with Secretaries of Department of Expenditure (DEA), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), Land Resources and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY), The Central Project Monitoring Units (PMU) constantly monitor the proper execution of the scheme.
Maharashtra bans the cultivation centers of Thai Magur Fish
After a meeting headed by Minister of Fisheries and Port Development Shri Aslam Sheikh held between the fish traders and representatives of the Maharashtra Fisheries Department it was decided that the cultivation centers of Thai Magur Fish will be banned.
- Although found in freshwater, the fish is bred in very unhygienic conditions which can lead to its consumers falling sick after eating it. Hence it was decided to ban the cultivation of this fish.
- So far 32 tons of Thai Magur have been destroyed in different areas like Sakoli, Bhiwandi, and Indapur.
- The ban of the Thai Magur was earlier imposed in 2000 by the National Green Tribunal and the matter was again pursued in January 2019. This year finally the order was implemented effectively.
- The Thai Magur or the Thai Catfish is known to be highly carcinogenic and can destroy the biodiversity of the water bodies it breeds in.
- It is carnivorous and is fed on rotten meat and spinach by the breeders which have depleted the water conditions.
Foundation stone of new Army HQ building
The Defence Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of the new Army Headquarters building to be established at the Delhi Cantonment on 21st February 2020. The event was attended by Army Chief Gen. M.M. Naravane and many army jawans.
- The new headquarters will be named Thal Sena Bhawan and will be a multi-storied complex built on 35 acres of land. It will consist of parking space for 4000 cars.
- The construction of this headquarters commemorates the memories of every soldier who has laid down his life for his nation and also the power of Indian defense globally.
- The new building will include the new department of the military affairs which is headed by the Chief of Defence Staff.
- The ceremony was started by the religious leaders of the four main religions leading the prayers to bless the building, signifying the religious diversity and unity of India.
- The total cost of the headquarters is estimated to be around Rs. 700 crores and will take four to five years to complete. It will consist of residential complexes, house offices and all the basic amenities for 1700 security officers and 1300 sub staff.
- The construction is done along the guidelines prescribed by the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA).
- The reason to construct the headquarters was to impose centralization as the current headquarters is spread over many areas of Delhi. There will be no need for 4000 army vehicles to travel from one place to another every day.
Top Current Affairs for 24th February 2020
Scientists found Breathable Oxygen in Another Galaxy for the First Time
For the first time, molecular oxygen was found outside the Milky Way. The discovery made by astronomers of breathable oxygen in a faraway galaxy can prove crucial in understanding the importance of oxygen in the origin of planets, galaxies, stars and most importantly, life itself.
- After Hydrogen and Helium, Oxygen is the most important element for the sustenance of life, its molecular form is found all over the earth and is the reason that we still exist.
- After efforts to find oxygen in other cosmos, finally a breakthrough was made by Junzhi Wang, an astronomer and his team from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory discovered molecular oxygen in the Markarian 231 galaxy which is found 581 million light-years from the Milky Way.
- The only places apart from the Markarian 231 that have reported molecular oxygen are Rho Ophiuchi cloud (350 light-years from the earth) and the Orion Nebula (1,344 light-years from the earth).
- Due to the light stretching into longer wavelengths while traveling across the earth, the earth couldn’t block the oxygen emission as it can with closer sources, hence the sign of the molecular oxygen was discovered with the ground telescope in part.
- Although the oxygen found on Markarian 231 is the same as respired by humans here, it is not breathable by humans because it doesn’t contain the same composition of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and other molecules.
- The discovery opens many more doors for finding molecular oxygen in energetic systems as distant galaxies contain 100 times more oxygen than any other previous discoveries.
Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh celebrated the Statehood Day on 20th February
In February 1987 India granted statehood to two of its regions, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Hence the Statehood Day has been celebrated by both the states to commemorate the anniversary of that day.
- Before 1972 Mizoram was a part of Assam, it was annexed by the British and because of being a mountainous region was made a part of Assam.
- After the implementation of the North-Eastern Reorganization Act 1972 Mizoram was made a Union Territory up until 1986 when the MoU was signed between the Government of India and Mizo National Front and it became a state.
- As far as Arunachal Pradesh is concerned it was earlier called the North-East Frontier Agency, it was also a Union Territory formed due to the North – Eastern Reorganization Act 1972 and got its own Legislative Assembly in 1975. It remained a Union Territory till 1986 and became a fully functioning state in 1987.
- Arunachal Pradesh is famous for its mesmerizing landscapes and patriotism among its citizens. Whereas Mizoram is known for football enthusiasm and bamboo covers. It has come a long way from being a militant prone area to one of the most peaceful states in India.
- This year marked the 32nd Statehood Day for Mizoram and 47th Statehood Day for Arunachal Pradesh.
Ideal Legislative Assembly Speaker Award was conferred to Sri Ramakrishnan
Ideal Legislative Assembly Speaker/Ideal Legislative Council Chairman Award was conferred to the Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly Shri P. Ramakrishnan. He was awarded at the 10th edition of the Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad held in New Delhi on 20th February 2020. Shri P. Ramakrishnan was presented this award by Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu.
- The 10th edition of the Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad (Indian Students’ Parliament) was inaugurated by the Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
- It was established by Rahul Karad, executive president of the MIT World Peace University.
- Shri P. Ramakrishnan has represented the Ponnani constituency in Kerala since 2011 and was elected the Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly in 2016.
- The event was attended by senior BJP leader and ex Maharashtra CM Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, former Union Minister Shivraj Patil, computer scientist Dr. Vijay Bhatkar and Sitar maestro Pandit Niladri Kumar.
- The event was organized by Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad Foundation in an association with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Association of Indian Universities UNESCO chair of Human Rights, Democracy & Tolerance and most importantly Government of India.
Indian Railways has launched self – sustainable Railway Stations
The Indian Railways inaugurated many new facilities at the Anand Vihar Terminal Station in New Delhi on 22nd February to make passenger experience much more comfortable.
- These amenities are based on effective technological methods providing value-added services, comfort, safety concerns and efficiency in train schedules.
- The Anand Vihar Terminal Station was chosen because it is an upcoming multi-modal hub with Metro stations and Inter State Bus Terminal available and Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) station en route to Meerut being under process.
- The station will have Air Conditioned waiting lounges with Snack areas, cushioned chairs and an LED TV, passengers can avail the comfort of the lounge by paying a fee of Rs. 20 for the first two hours and Rs. 10 after that for every following hour.
- A generic medicine shop also has been inaugurated with the aim of providing high-quality medicines to passengers at affordable rates.
- In January 2020, ‘Eat Right Station’ audit was conducted at Anand Vihar Terminal and the station achieved one of the highest scores of 92% on Indian Railways with 5-Star Rating. ‘Eat Right Station’ is a certification mandated by FSSAI, the main of which is to help passengers in making healthy food choices.
- On 27th September 2019, Anand Vihar Railway Station received ISO 14001:2015 certification. The station achieved a ‘Silver’ rating by IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) Green Railway Stations rating system.
National Organic Food Festival
The National Organic Food Festival was inaugurated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in New Delhi in order to encourage women entrepreneurs to engage more and more in organic production of food in the country.
The festival ran from 21st February to 23rd February.
- The event showcased organic products by 180 women entrepreneurs and self – help groups all over the country. Since the trend of eating healthy and organic foods started in India the growth in this sector has been at the rate of 17% per year.
- To promote the use and export of organic food the Finance Minister of India Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman introduced the Jaivik Kheti Portal, the portal has been included as a part of the agricultural budget.
- Jaivik Kheti Portal is a nationwide project to endorse organic farming among the citizens of the country. It was launched in 2014 under the 10th five-year plan, formerly focused on using biofertilizers during farming it shifted its focus on producing full-fledged organic yields.
- The theme of the food festival was ‘Unleashing India’s Organic Market Potential’.
- The aim was also to encourage women entrepreneurs to gain footing in the business world and finding connections by providing pre-arranged Business to Business and Business to Government meetings under schemes like Micro Unit Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) and Startup India.
- India has World’s 9th largest Organic Agricultural Land with Sikkim being the most organic state.
- India’s organic business is said to reach Rs. 75,000 crore by 2025 because of the rising awareness of healthy organic foods and the rise in the demand for major organic products like oilseeds, honey, cereal, millets, sugar, tea, spices, dry fruits and medicinal plants.
Top Current Affairs for 22nd & 23rd February 2020
HRMS Mobile App
The Chairman of the Railways Board Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav launched the HRMS Mobile App on 21st February in New Delhi. The app was developed by the Centre for Railways Information System (CRIS) and allows railways employees to view their entire service data like promotions, transfers, training, etc. from the date of their joining.
- The Human Resource Management System App is developed by the Centre for Railways Information System (CRIS).
- It allows the employees to view their historical data from their date of joining.
- They can view their every activity from appointments, training, promotions, transfers etc. and make changes in case of errors.
- It will serve as a single-window communication medium between the authorities and the employees and is aimed to bring transparency in the system.
- So far, the data of 93% of the railway employees have been collected
- and the work on the rest is under process.
- The information will be available electronically and as well as scanned copies. The employees will need to register themselves by providing their IPAS No/PF No to get access to their records.
- A One Time Password will be generated to the employee’s mobile number which is necessary for registering to the app.
- The Railway Board’s establishment section is available for assistance to access the app in case the employee doesn’t provide the mobile number.
Sanjay Kothari was appointed as the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC)
On 20th February the Current Secretary to the President of India Shri Sanjay Kothari was appointed as the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner. He was elected by a committee consisting of 3 members which was headed by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
- The committee also appointed Bimal Julka as the new Chief Information Commissioner, Suresh Patel as the new Vigilance Commissioner and Anita Pandove as the Information Commissioner.
- The job of the Central Vigilance Commission is to monitor and take action against corruption occurring in the Central Government.
- It is not headed by any authoritative body in the nation but assists other departments of the government to plan, execute, review and reform vigilance activities in their departments.
- The tenure of the CVC is for four years until he/she turns 65 or whichever is first. They cannot be appointed elsewhere after their retirement.
- The Vigilance Commission investigates employees recommended by the Central Government who act in contravention with the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. It also commands the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
- The orders of the appointed of Kothari and other officers still await approval from the President of India himself.
- The Central Information Commission was established under the Right to Information Act and has jurisdiction over all other public authorities.
World Day of Social Justice
20th February is observed as the World Day of Social Justice across the globe to raise awareness about gender equality, indigenous peoples and migrants’ rights. The day is celebrated to raise a voice against the social atrocities surrounding gender, race, inequality, and religion. Apart from that on this day, people come together to improve social situations in these matters, to promote peace and brotherhood.
- At the World Summit for Social Development held in Denmark in 1995 the Copenhagen Declaration of Programme of Action was signed by 100 political leaders who pledged to fight off poverty, discrimination and illiteracy. To advance the social development globally the United Nations declared 20th February as the World Day for Social Justice in 2007, it was first observed in 2009.
- There are many social injustices which have engulfed the world for many centuries, in spite of these the issues are still prevalent and have a strong footing in many nations.
- The World Day of Social Injustice makes people all around the world aware of these prejudices and shows the importance of rejecting such ideologies to sustain peace and make the world a tolerable and equal place for future generations to grow up in.
- The theme for the 2020 edition is “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice” promoting the cause of justice throughout the world is important for the sustenance of human dignity.
- Around 2 million people aged from 15 to 29 live in conflict-ridden regions, these people have a less than 40% chance of getting a decent job which will upgrade their living to a better society. The aim of this day is to give those people a chance to live a better life which is free of religious bias, gender inequality, poverty, conflict constraints, physical discrimination and most importantly illiteracy.
Assam’s first ‘Zero Waste’ town
On 20th February 2020, Titabor became Assam’s first ‘Zero Waste’ town for implementing effective and efficient methods of waste management. Titabor transformed its solid waste management system in the best possible way than any other state in Assam.
- A ‘Zero Waste’ town is any town that has managed up to 80% of the waste in its domain.
- Titabor achieved this feat by implementing various plans like setting up a material facility with aerobic composting to manage all organic waste, punctual door to door collection of waste segregated to primary and tertiary location which resulted in the eradication of foul smell greenhouse gas emission from dumpsites.
- Assam’s first biomining project was launched in Titabor to collect every inch of waste from the dumpsites and process them completely.
- The project created many jobs and moved a step closer to balance the climatic conditions in India.
Nature Ranking Index 2020
The research for the Nature Ranking Index 2020 was being carried out from 1st December 2018 till 30th November 2019 and finally on 21st February 2020, the rankings were announced with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) topping the rankings. The ranking is based on the total output of research carried out by different organizations.
- The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has 3 innovation complexes, 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach units and 5 units. The staff includes an impressive lobby of 4600 actively involved scientists and 8000 scientific and technical employees in the Research and Development wing.
- The research center works in the areas of radio and space physics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, oceanography, aeronautics, information technology, instrumentation and nanotechnology.
- It is directly headed by the Prime Minister of India and Cabinet Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Health and Family Welfare i.e. Shri Narendra Modi acting as President and Dr. Harsh Vardhan acting as Vice President.
- According to the ranking, the CSIR scored 142 counts (total citations in numbers) and 87.74% in shares (sharing percentage per article).
- Closely following the Indian Institute of Science scored 211 counts and 83.61% shares, whereas Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR – Mumbai) scored a count of 232 and 62.18% in shares.
- With the ranking so high the CSIR has been suggested to involve artificial intelligence, 5G, water conservation, malnutrition, advanced technology helping farmers, durable batteries for renewable energy storage to their roster of ongoing research subjects.
Top Current Affairs for 21st February 2020
Data for 2018 – 2019 CHILDLINE India Foundation
The CHILDLINE India Foundation compiled its data for the year 2018 – 2019 and the report has some serious issues that need immediate attention to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children.
- The most number of phone calls that come in are pertaining to either domestic or child abuses (17%), report a missing child (11%), help to find runaways (11%), seeking education (12%) or help escape child labor (13%).
- It’s not only women who face abuse in this country, but children also aren’t far from this atrocity, children (both girls and boys) face abuse in the form of child marriage, domestic help, cyber abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse.
- The perpetrators in most cases have been family members or neighbours.
- A total of 8000 cases of sexual abuse have been reported so far in which neighbours have been the abusers in most cases at an astonishing 35%, strangers are next at 25% and family members at 11%. The remaining 29% are people we meet daily in life or the ones who are supposed to be helpful like, friends, teachers, hospital staff, policemen, step-parents, relatives and office staff.
- A total of 62 lakh calls have been received till now and among them 3 lakh calls have been converted into cases. 53,696 calls were for abuse and among them 6,278 calls were made by victims themselves seeking help and freedom.
About CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) – CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) is an organization established by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for the sole purpose of protecting the children and women of this country. The foundation has a free helpline number 1098 which is available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Any distressed child or women can call this helpline number, and it’s the foundation’s job to offer prompt rescue and rehabilitation of the distressed.
Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020
The Union Cabinet passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020 on 19th February which will monitor all the medical procedures which will enable couples to achieve pregnancy.
- The Bill will empower National Boards to lay down the code of conduct which will be followed by clinics for these procedures.
- The code of conduct will be applied to all the stakeholders involved in reproductive technology like laboratories and diagnostic centers. The bill will monitor every equipment, technology, and technicians used in the clinic.
- All the states and union territories have been directed to form State Boards and Authorities within three months of the notification.
- To ensure proper operations of the National Board, the national registry will maintain a database.
- Harsh punishments have been laid down under this law for anyone indulging in illegal activities like sex selection, sale of human embryos and other such rackets.
- The bill has a confidentiality clause that will protect the rights of the child and the parents.
The Union Cabinet approved to set a Technology Group
In order to tackle issues related to industrial development the Union Cabinet has given its nod to set up a Technology Group. It will promote the proper utilization and commercialization of technologies which have dual applications for both defence forces and civilians.
- The Technology Group will be run by the panel of twelve members and will be headed by the Principal Scientific Advisor.
- The group will be tasked to come up with the latest ideas for using the new technologies and promote the technologies developed by the public sector.
- They will keep India updated regarding the new technologies being introduced anywhere in the world, help choose which of those technologies are useful to the nation and help the government build guidelines for the use of these technologies.
- They will promote collaborations between companies and universities for developing new and innovative technologies for the betterment of the nation. They will oversee the collaboration and select the technological project.
- Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM – STIAC) has been chosen to recommend the policies on science and technology and also be a medium of coordination between various ministries.
Phase II of SWACHH Bharat Mission approved by Union Cabinet
After the successful implementation of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014 and the completion of Phase I in 2019, this year marks the commencement of Phase II of the mission. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the beginning of Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) (SBM (G)) 2020 – 2024-25 on 20th February 2020.
- The focus of Phase II will be eradicating the open defecation in the nation and educating everyone about the need for using a toilet. The aim is to improve the health of people living in rural areas.
- Open defecations usually occur in the rural areas hence the focus will be managing the liquid and solid waste in those areas.
- The total cost of the mission will be Rs. 1.40 lakh crore, the money will be generated from different avenues for the mission. Rs. 56,497 crore will be produced from the Drinking Water and Sanitation budget rest will be generated from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and avenues are kept for solid and liquid waste management.
- The ratio of fund distribution between the Central Government and the involved States is as follows, 90:10 North-Eastern States, Himalayan States and Union Territory of J&K, 100:0 for other Union Territories and 60:40 for other States.
- The emphasis of the mission is divided into the following submissions: plastic waste management, biodegradable solid waste management, greywater management, and fecal sludge management.
22nd Law Commission of India approved by Union Cabinet
The 22nd Law Commission of India was sanctioned by the Union Cabinet on 19th February. The commission will be operational for three years.
- The Law Commission was introduced to check, improve and govern the laws imposed in India. It identifies the laws that need to either abolished, upgraded or introduced.
- It is a non – constitutional body which was formed by the Government of India in 1955 and is reintroduced after every three years.
- It is governed by a chairperson, four full-time members and secretaries from the Legal Affairs and Legislature Department.
- Its aim is to make the law easily understandable and accessible to every citizen of India so that everyone is able to know their rights and implement them when needed.
- The people who are most helped by the law commission are the ones living in rural areas because these are the ones who don’t have much knowledge about the legal system in India and can be easily exploited.
- Changing or amending a law doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of research and studying to make any kind of change in the legal system.
- In this term the important issues which need immediate solutions are prompt justice delivery, eradicating the delays made during proceedings, quick judgment and most importantly lowering the cost of litigation.
International Mother Language Day
21st February is observed as the International Mother Language Day to spread awareness about the importance of linguistic, cultural diversity and multilingualism. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization it is important to understand, engage in learning new languages and new cultures.
- The foundation of this day was laid down when four Bangladeshi students lost their lives while promoting the use of Bengali language as the official language in Bangladesh in 1952.
- Finally in 1999 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognised the fact of encouraging linguistic diversity and announced 21st February as the International Mother Language Day.
- The aim of this day is to promote and protect all the languages of the world.
- Keeping the same in mind the year 2008 was celebrated as the International Year of Languages in order to bring together all the cultures of the world.
- The theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day is “Languages without Borders” for laying emphasis on cross border languages and promote native heritages.
- The celebrations are held across the globe where UNESCO encourages the people to promote their native language, never lose touch with it and preserve it for the future generations. It also encourages learning new languages.
- According to UNESCO, a 40% population of the world does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. For this purpose governments of many nations are introducing platforms to learn new languages, many schools and colleges have introduced it in their curriculum.
- The urgency to introduce such measures is because many languages and cultures are slowly disappearing and every language of the world is worth protecting.
Top Current Affairs for 20th February 2020
Kerala to have one more Wildlife Sanctuary
The State Board of Wildlife headed by the Chief Minister of Kerela Shri Pinarayi Vijayan decided to convert the 148 sq. km buffer zone in the Silent Valley National Park as the new Bhavani Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The area will become the 25th protected area in the state.
- The decision had been in the loop since November 2010, after all the stakeholders including tribal leaders and the 20 gram panchayats of the area were brought on board the proposal was brought in front of the board after five years.
- The lives of the tribal people living in the area will not be affected by the sanctuary as they are protected by the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
- The sanctuary has been home to some of the rare species of odonates like the dragonflies and the damselflies. It is rich with lush green forests and amazing wildlife species.
- Kerala has five national parks, eighteen wildlife sanctuaries, two tiger reserves in the Parambikulam and the Periyar region, and one big community reserve.
- The Malappuram region has one more wildlife sanctuary, Karimpuzha Wildlife Sanctuary.
RBI to sync its accounting year with government’s fiscal year from 2020 – 21
In order to stop exchequers from getting interim dividends, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will synchronize its financial accounting year with the Central Government. The decision was taken in a meeting held among the members of the central board of the RBI.
- The alignment will come in effect from this year, aligning the bank’s accounting year of June – July with the government’s April – March.
- The RBI used to follow the accounting year of January – December before switching to July – June in March 1940.
- The Central Government used to demand an interim dividend till the time the RBI’s final balance sheet was prepared (usually in August). To avoid this RBI governor Bimal Jalan had recommended aligning the RBI’s financial year with that of the government.
- For this year the RBI will prepare a truncated balanced sheet for nine months from July to March and from next year the RBI will commence its operations like the government from April – March.
- Alignment of the fiscal years would ensure that the central bank is able to provide better estimates of the projected surplus transfers to the government for the financial year for budgeting purposes.
- The need for interim dividend to be paid by the RBI would be restricted to being extraordinary circumstances and the move will bring greater cohesiveness in the projections of monetary policy and reports published by the RBI (based on fiscal year).
- A proposal has been given to the central government for the payment of an interim dividend of Rs 37,000 crore for 2019-20 and a decision regarding this may be taken in the next board meeting.
- The credit flow of economy of credit from sources like banks, domestic markets and external commercial borrowings has improved to about Rs. 7.5 trillion and there was a flow of around Rs. 6 trillion between October and January.
Soil Health Card Day
19th February is observed as the Soil Health Card Day, on this day the government collects samples of soil from villages and distributes the Soil Health Cards to the farmers to aware them of the health of their soil. It further provides information regarding the use of natural fertilizers.
- The Soil Health Card Day was first observed in the year 2015 in Suratgarh, Rajasthan, that year the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid stress on the importance of knowing the health of the soil so that the yield is produced healthy.
- The aim of this day is to educate the farmers about the various kinds of soils in India, their strengths and capacities and how to maintain those using balanced fertilizers.
- India has three kinds of soil: Saline, Alkaline and Acidic. The card tells the farmer which type of crop can be grown on which type of soil.
- Farmers can increase production of their crops by using the balanced amount of a good quality fertilizer which mixes with nutrients present in the soil and produces healthy yields. Excess use of fertilizers can damage the crops.
- The soil health card also helps to save money to increase the fertility of the soil.
State of India’s Birds Report
At the 13th COP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat the report of State of India’s Bird 2020 was released. The project was first commenced in May 2018 in order to collect the actual data of birds in India and the final report was released on February 17, 2020.
- The report highlights observations by birdwatchers form the basis of the analyses and is the first of its kind in India.
- The assessment was made of 867 birds which means that the number of birds in India is rapidly declining.
- The categorization reported 101 birds in a high concern list, 319 birds in a moderate concern list and 442 birds in a low concern list.
- The birds were categorised in the following species, 101 species of High Conservation Concern, 59 based on their range size and abundance trends, and 42 based on the list of the Union for Conservation of Nature.
- The species of birds that reported the highest decline were the migratory shorebirds, raptors, Indian Vulture, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Curlew Sandpiper, Richard’s Pipit and While-rumped Vulture.
- On the other hand the report has some good news stating the rise in the number of Glossy Ibis, Rosy Starling, Ashy Prinia, and Feral Pigeon.
- The number of Common House Sparrow has declined in the urban regions but is overall stable in the country, the reason for this decline is lack of nesting material and insects to eat.
- To reverse the decline many solutions were suggested in the report promotion of collaborations between public initiatives and researchers to monitor and conserve these birds. There also should be a dedicated fund for high concern species so that scientists and researchers can save those birds.
India’s imported food inflation
The international price for food has risen with reference to its base period in 2002 – 2004 which was at 100 points at that time. It was at 185.8 points in January 2014, which is the highest till date, and as of January 2020 it is at 182.5 points, which although is lower than 2014 but is still substantially higher. As far as India is concerned, it seems that the food inflation has been influenced by these price movements.
- The breakdown of the wholesale price index for food items is as follows, 7.8% in August 2019, 2.41% in January 2019, 9.8% in October, 11.08% in November, 13.24% in December, and finally 11.51% in January 2020.
- Less rainfalls have been deemed as one of the causes of price inflation as it destroyed the standing crops in the harvest season and reduced the kharif sowing.
- India imports two thirds of its edible oil requirements and the rise in international prices directly affects the domestic prices. The retail prices of packed palm and soya bean oil in Delhi rose from Rs 79 and Rs 100 per kg on January 31, 2019 to Rs 108 and Rs 122 respectively on January 31, 2020. This increase of 22%-37% was almost matched by the 34.37% rise in the FAO’s global vegetable oil price index between January 2019 and January 2020.
- If the trend continues the trader will prefer selling in the international markets than in the domestic markets since the transmission of global prices can be transmitted by exports.
- The recent rise in onion prices was blamed on failure of successful harvesting of kharif crops which resulted banning the export of onion shipments by the government.
- World calamities and epidemics also affect the prices, like the coronavirus reduced Chinese buying of every item.
Assam: Voter list of 4 years where 15 documents can’t prove citizenship
The Guwahati High Court rejected 15 documents which were used to prove whether a person is a citizen of India or not. The decision had serious implications on many people living in Assam.
- Among the 15 documents that were rejected, includes voter lists of four years, a parent’s NRC clearance, land revenue payment receipts, certificates from the village headman attesting to permanent residency and marriage, ration card, PAN card and bank passbook.
- The eligibility criteria to be a citizen of India in Assam includes proving either a person or his/her ancestors have been living in Assam before 1971, the cut-off date of the Assam Accord.
- The submitted documents contains two lists that determine citizenship, List A have documents establishing that the person or their ancestors lived in Assam prior to 1971 (NRC of 1951, pre-1971 voter lists etc.), but people born after 1971 can submit List B documents (PAN card, birth certificate etc.) to link themselves to a pre-1971 ancestor.
- Many cases arose in the high court where people living in Assam were declared ‘foreigners’ because of not submitting the correct documents, these include Jabeda Begum alias Jabeda Khatun, of Guwahari village in Tamulpur of Baksa district, who was declared “a foreigner of post-1971 stream” by a Foreigners Tribunal in May 2019. Md. Babul Islam faced the same music when his PAN card and bank documents were discarded as a proof of citizenship.
Top Current Affairs for 19th February 2020
The Samrakshane Scheme protects and preserves buildings and monuments which are not a part of the Archaeological Survey of India. The Government of Karnataka, in order to protect all the important unlisted buildings and monuments in the Archaeological Survey of India or in the Karnataka archaeology department, has decided to introduce the Samrakshane Scheme in the state.
- There are more than 25,000 temples, mosques, churches, heritage buildings, and other monuments that are not protected under any scheme of the government and can’t be restored for the purpose of maintaining the heritage.
- Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Trust (SDM) has restored and protected 176 temples of heritage value in the last 20 years.
- The Government of Karnataka will collaborate with the engineers and experts of the SDM to restore all the important monuments.
- The government identified 844 state-protected monuments for 3D mapping to felicitate research work around monuments in the state in the previous year.
- The Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology worth Rs 64.92 lakh for the implementation of the project.
Bio Asia 2020
The 17th edition of Bio Asia which is Asia’s largest forum on biotechnology and life sciences began in Telangana, Hyderabad on 17th February. It is a three-day program going on from 17th February to 19th February and the theme for this year’s event is ‘Today for Tomorrow’.
- It was organized by the Government of India in collaboration with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and the Department of Biotechnology, Department of Pharmaceuticals. The state partners for this event were Assam, Kerala, Odisha, and Gujarat.
- It invites more than 2000 delegates from 37 countries to witness an exhibition of products by 175 exhibitors from around the world. The exhibits are reviewed by a panel of world-class experts.
- Switzerland is partnering for this year’s conference and has sent a 40-member team of exhibitors to participate in the event. It is known for its specialized production location for innovative life science products. It is also academically excelling in the field of applied sciences and has a rich research centre in the pharmaceutical industry.
- The idea behind this year’s theme is to emphasize on the innovations of the past and to create new developments in the field of life sciences.
- The participants include 75 start-ups from India, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. The top 5 start-ups will be awarded at the end of the event.
4th National Conference of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
The 4th National Conference of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was inaugurated by Shri Sanjay Aggarwal, Secretary of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on 17th February. It was a two-day conference held from 17th – 18th February at Udaipur, Rajasthan.
- The conference is held annually to spread awareness about the scheme and the goal it hopes to achieve.
- All the stakeholders of the scheme i.e. the State Government, the banking sector and the insurance sector come together to discuss plans and ideas to make sure that the scheme is implemented in the most efficient and effective manner.
- Many issues regarding claims were raised and the insurance sector was advised to address all the grievances of the farmers on social media within a set timeframe.
- The issues like the direction that the scheme is leaning towards, individual roles thereof and to cross-learn from other institutions to resolve all the issues that were all highlighted in the conference.
- Shri Malay Kumar Poddar, Chairman & Managing Director, Agricultural Insurance Company of India Limited, Dr. Om Prakash, Commissioner, Agriculture, Government of Rajasthan and Ms. Priya Kumar, Head Agri-Business, HDFC ERGO Ltd. participated in the conference.
- More than 140 members from different states, banks, insurance companies, delegations from RBI and NABARD, participated in the conference.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:
It was launched on 18th February 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the yields of the farmers. It ensures the early settlement of crop insurance claims for the full insured sum.
Reserves of Lithium found near Bengaluru
Researchers at the Atomic Minerals Directorate, India’s Atomic Energy Commission found Lithium Reserves of around 14,100 tonnes in the Mandya region, an area which is 100km away from Bengaluru.
- This discovery will enable the sales of EV batteries to rise rapidly and boost the industry as a whole.
- Total estimation of Li2O found is about 30,300 tonnes over an area of 0.5 km x 5 km is 14,100 tonnes of lithium metal.
- Although the lithium that is discovered is much less compared to many major producers like 8.6 million tonnes in Chile, 2.8 million tonnes in Australia, 1.7 million tonnes in Argentina or 60,000 tonnes in Portugal, 14,100 tonnes.
- Lithium battery imports tripled to $1.2 billion in the fiscal year 2019 from $384 million in FY17. As of November 2019, the country’s lithium battery imports stood at $929 million.
- This discovery is great for India.
- It also makes us realize that there is a great shortage of reserves of lithium.
What is Lithium?
Lithium is a rare metal that is mainly used to build batteries for electric vehicles.
Kala Kumbh held in New Delhi
On 18th February 2020, the Ministry of Textiles organized the Kala Kumbh (Art Festival) which encouraged the Geographical Indication (GI) of art and crafts in India. The exhibition was sponsored by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts.
- The exhibition was held specifically for handicrafts with geographical indication tags and will be held in several Indian cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.
- GI tags are given to handicrafts that are produced in specific geographical locations and as of August 2019, and around 179 GI tags have been given all over India.
- The exhibition was conducted for exclusive handicraft items like Thrissur screw pine, Molakalmuru hand block painting, Kolhapuri chappals, Dharwad Kasuti Embroidery, Anantapur leather puppet.
- The aim of this exhibition is to promote these exclusive art and handicraft items on an international level.
- The Export Promotion Council have authorities that are tasked to promote these items at an international level, every handicraft item has its own council to look after it.
The US has removed the “Developing” tag for India
On 10th February 2020 the United States of America removed the status of “Developing Nations” of many nations and India was also excluded from the list. India will now be regarded as a developed nation that brings many negative trade implications.
- The tag of being a developing nation prevents the nation from being hit by many trade tariffs that are imposed on developed nations.
- The tag of being developed comes under the U.S. Trade Act 1974 which introduced the General System of Preferences (GSP).
- This system was introduced to assist and promote poor countries and help them in improving.
- The World Trade Organization (WTO) adopted this system and later rich countries were also included in this system. Today two-thirds of the countries of the world are known as developing nations.
- 2000 Indian items worth 6.3 Billion US Dollars were exempted from import tariffs for being in the ‘developing nations’ category.
- India and China both were excluded because they have both seen significant growth in their economies and yet used the tag.
Top Current Affairs for 18th February 2020
India’s first inter-city electric bus services
The Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated India’s first-ever inter-city electric bus service in Mumbai which will run between Mumbai – Pune on 14th February 2020.
- Relentless efforts have been made by the Road Transport & Highway Ministry for 4 – 5 years to introduce electric buses in the country.
- The electric bus is manufactured by Mitra Mobility Solutions and is a luxury vehicle with a 43 seater capacity.
- It can travel up to 300 km on a single charge and will operate twice a day between Mumbai and Pune.
- Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions which is the operator of these electric buses have around 1,300 electric buses operating presently and has expressed its interest to expand its horizon all over Maharashtra and other nearby states.
- State government and private corporations are planning to order 10,000 electric buses this year and plan to build electric highways are currently being accessed to help ease the operation of electric buses.
- The new highway will reduce the travel time between Mumbai and New Delhi to 12 – 13 hours.
- The Central Government expressed plans to convert all the buses in the country into e-buses within two years. Although the change won’t be forced on the automobile industry nor will there be a need to ban diesel and petrol run vehicles to make the change happen.
South India’s first Currency Museum
The former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Shri C. Rangarajan inaugurated South India’s first Currency Museum in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The museum was opened by Shri Rezwan Rezack, India’s largest collector of Indian Currency.
- The museum is opened at Prestige Falcon Towers and consists of different collections of Indian paper money and related material.
- Rezwan Razack is currently the co-founder and joint MD of the Prestige Group and is also the Chairman of the International Bank Note Society.
- He is one of the prime contributors of advancing the numismatic knowledge which he himself gained after building his collection for over 50 years.
- The museum will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Mondays and any public holidays and the entry fee will be Rs. 100.
- The museum will help Indians be entertained and at the same time educated about an important aspect of Indian history and culture.
- It also has a collection to explain the ideas and techniques which were used to make paper currency. From the earliest hand-printed notes with ancient patterns and motifs to the Star of India Medal, sourced cheques, stamp papers, banknotes etc. which explain the origin and working of the currencies.
- Building India’s first one of a kind museum had been in works for the past three years. Every detail has been worked on carefully so that international standards of lighting and climate control are met.
- It now holds a collection of a variety of notes like one-sided notes of Government of India, notes with portraits of various British Monarchs, colonial notes from French and Portuguese monarchy, 19th-century notes from Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad, cash coupons belonging to Saurashtra and prisoners of wars, Indian notes used in Burma and Pakistan and some rare notes used in Persian Gulf states and by Hajj pilgrims.
- Old paper currencies from various banks have been preserved by Razack which will now be showcased in the museum with the oldest being a note from 1812 Bank of Bengal. It also has a collection of notes from Presidency Banks like, Bank of Hindostan, Bank of Bengal, Commercial Bank, Calcutta Bank, Bank of Bombay, Bank of Western India, Bank of Madras and Asiatic Bank.
Urban Heat Island in India
“Anthropogenic forcing exacerbating the Urban Heat Islands in India” a research study conducted at IIT Kharagpur found out that temperatures in urban areas are comparatively higher. They contain some serious health hazards which arise mostly due to heat waves rather than pollution.
- The research was conducted by the Center for Ocean, Rivers, Atmosphere and Land Sciences (CORAL) and the Architecture and Regional Planning Department at IIT Kharagpur.
- It found out that most big cities with a population of more than one million have recorded a rise in mercury level during the daytime while showing an increasing trend in the night hours.
- The research conducted had data of surface temperatures, across all seasons in 44 major cities from 2001 to 2017.
- It also found out that temperature tends to rise up to 2 degrees of the
- Surface Urban Heat Islands in many cities. It observed the temperature measurements in the monsoons as well as post-monsoon times.
- There is an enhanced cooling effect on surface in suburban areas during daytime as against cities in arid regions like in Kolkata, Pune, and Guwahati which are the urban areas surrounded by large green cover in suburban regions.
- This can be reduced and further prevented by implementing ideas like Conservation of water bodies and expansion of green areas in and around cities. Also using eco-friendly materials for the construction of buildings and infrastructure could also prove to be crucial to mitigating the effects of heat islands.
Kashi Mahakal Express
On 16th February 2020, the Kashi Mahakal Express was set off for its maiden journey. It was flagged off in a unique way by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi via video conferencing.
- The Kashi Mahakal Express is the third corporate passenger train which will be connecting Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain and Omkareshwar in Ujjain.
- The Kashi Mahakal Express is a fully air-conditioned train which will be operated by the subsidiary of the Indian Railways, the Indian Railway Catering and Transport Corporation.
- Before inaugurating the Kashi Mahakal the Indian Railway Catering and Transport Corporation launched two Tejas trains previously.
- The express train will ‘hit the tracks’ from February 20 and will be providing tireless and comfortable overnight journeys. It will run three times a week between Varanasi and Indore.
- It won’t only be used as a vehicle for religious journeys but will also connect industrial hubs in Indore and Bhopal.
- Round the clock security, CCTV cameras, efficient housekeeping staff, Complimentary bed-rolls and free travel insurance of Rs. 10 Lakh are some of the benefits of riding this train.
- The fare for one way journeys will be Rs. 1950.
J&K Public Safety Act
Since revoking Article 370 in J&K on August 5, 2019, four popular mainstream political leaders were kept under house arrest and on February 5, 2020, their six months of isolation ended. As soon as they were released, they were booked under the J&KPublic Safety Act.
- Under PSA a person can be held for 2 years without trial without being produced before a court. Although it is stated that it is used as a protective measure, it has been used in Kashmir as a punitive measure by the central government.
- Both former J&K Chief Ministers Shri Omar Abdullah and Shrimati Mehbooba Mufti were booked under the Public Safety Act on 6th February 2020 along with Shri Ali Mohammad Sagar and Shri Sartaj Madni
- Previously another former Chief Minister Shri Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA in order to restrain him from participating in the rally organized by the opposition ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session.
- Lately, Shri Shah Faesal, IAS topper and former Director Education of Kashmir turned politician was booked under the Public Safety Act for advocating soft separatism in Kashmir.
What is the J & K Public Safety Act?
The Public Safety Act, 1978 of Jammu and Kashmir is a defensive detention law that allows taking a person into custody to prevent him or her from acting in any matter that is prejudicial to “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order.
SC grants Permanent Commission to Women in Army
The Supreme Court of India granted the Permanent Commission to Women Soldiers in the Indian Army on 17th February 2020. The Permanent Commission was granted to women officers in the Army’s noncombat support units on par with their male counterparts should they wish to continue with it after completing their short-service commission.
- The reason behind taking this step was making sure women get equal opportunities in the armed, currently, women can’t achieve the ranks of Colonel and beyond (based on a performance index) which lowers their status to that of a jawan or any junior commissioned officer.
- Women Army Officers do not get any benefits like pension or retirement even if they have been in services for 14 years.
- The order to grant Permanent Commission to short service commission officers was granted in 2010 but still, the order ruled out allowing women in combat units.
- The benefit will be given to all women officers irrespective of the number of years of their service. The ‘no women in combat’ rule hasn’t been challenged in the Supreme Court. This goes against Article 14 stating the right to equality.
- The permanent commission with consequential seniority and pensionary benefits will be restricted to the Army’s non-combat units, including the Regiment of Artillery, Corps of Engineers, Corps of Signals, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, AEC, Intelligence Corps, and the JAG (legal) department.
- Female Army Officers have been ironically posted in combat zones but not allowed to actively participate with the combating units.
- With an acute shortage of 11,500 officers in the Army in total, out of which support services are lacking 5,115 officers which also includes women. In spite of this shortage, the army lets capable women officers go after their short services. The Permanent Commission puts an end to these discriminations.
Top Current Affairs for 17th February 2020
Rajiv Bansal appointed the new CMD of Air India
On 15th February Shri Rajiv Bansal was appointed as the new Chairman and Managing Director of Air India. Bansal is currently serving as additional secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and this is the second time that he has been appointed in this position.
- Shri Rajiv Bansal is a veteran bureaucrat who was an officer of the 1988 IAS batch of Nagaland cadre.
- He will be succeeding the current head of Air India, Shri Ashwani Lohani. He previously worked for many top companies including Infosys.
- Bansal won an arbitration award against his former employer Infosys that granted him the full amount of Rs. 17.38 crore of severance pay after quitting the company.
- The decision was announced days after the government announced the sale of its 100% stake in Air India.
- The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved his appointment as the Chairman & Managing Director of Air India in the same rank and pay of additional secretary.
World Pangolin Day
The third Saturday of February is annually celebrated as World Pangolin Day and this year marked its 9th edition on 15th February. It is celebrated in order to raise awareness about the declining population of Pangolins.
- The population of Pangolins is receding rapidly in Asia and Africa and the main reason for this is that their scales are used abundantly for medicinal purposes, more recently to develop a cure for coronavirus.
- It is marked by many important organizations around the world including the United Nations Environment Programme.
- Pangolins are used vastly for medicinal and culinary purposes, a report found out that 10 tons scales were seized by the authorities in the Wenzhou city in China. Although it was interpreted as the population is still sufficient, still they were being hunted profoundly.
- These scales are used by Pangolins for protection against predators and are a very popular medicinal remedy.
- Pangolins are being sheltered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and under the Schedule I of the Wide Life Protection Act 1972, in India.
- In Madhya Pradesh, the forest department in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Trust radio-tagged the Pangolins in India to learn more about their ecology and existence.
Mitigation on Littering through Marine Plastic
Marine Plastics are one of the most dangerous threats to our ecological system threatening the ocean and sea bodies all over the world. Plastic is a cheap and lightweight product produced in order to make lives easier with its applications in packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics and agriculture. Yearly around 300 million tons of plastic is produced, half of which is used to design single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws.
- Yearly about 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in oceans. Floating plastic debris is the major constituent of marine garbage.
- Waste plastic makes up eighty percent of all marine litter from deep-sea sediments to the water surface.
- Plastic has been found on shorelines of all the continents, with more plastic materials found near popular tourist destinations and densely populated areas.
- Many marine beings get entangled in plastic debris causing severe injuries and deaths. It fatally affects food quality and safety, coastal tourism, human health, and negatively impacts climate change.
- To address marine plastic pollution, there is an urgent need to explore the use of existing legally binding international agreements laying down the rules and regulations regarding recycling and reuse of plastic products.
- Also support for research and innovation to develop new products to replace single-use plastics is also necessary to prevent and reduce plastic pollution.
- The 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter (or the London Convention), the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the London Protocol), and the 1978 Protocol to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) have been drafted to help sustain and enhance the marine life.
- Governments, research institutions and industries have worked extensively in helping to redesign the products and find new ways of their use and disposal. It is important to reduce micro-plastics waste from pellets, synthetic textiles and tyres which will further provide solutions for waste management, to consider the whole lifecycle of plastic products, from product design to infrastructure and household use.
- The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) blames plastic marine debris and its ability to transport harmful substances to be the most dangerous threat to the environment. At the 2015 G7 summit in Bavaria, Germany, the risks of microplastics were acknowledged in the Leaders’ Declaration.
10 Earth Observation Satellites to be launched by ISRO in 2020 – 21
On 15th February 2020, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that it will be launching 10 Earth Observation Satellites. The launch will also include ISRO’s first Geo Imaging Satellite, GSAT – 1.
- 17 missions have been planned for this year by ISRO and among these 6 are incomplete and will be done by 31st March 2020. ISRO currently includes 18 Communication Satellites, 19 Earth Observation Satellites and 8 Navigation Satellites. Three of these satellites have been developed for the military.
- For the coming year, ISRO has planned to engage itself in 36 missions which will include developing 6 Earth Observation Satellites in the total 8.
- The Earth Observation Satellites include Radar Imaging Satellites which are used to generate weather surveillance using the Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) like RISAT – 2BR2 which was born from the previous ranges like RISAT – 2B and RISAT – 2B1, they will be places 120 degrees apart.
Jammu & Kashmir to host Global Investors Summit
The Global Investors Summit 2020 will be hosted by Jammu & Kashmir this year in the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu. The summit will provide an opportunity for Jammu & Kashmir to become an industrial hub. Policies will be developed in this summit regarding the valley which will identify business opportunities in J&K to be invested in trade and industry organizations and will also harmonize J&K’s intrinsic strength and aspirations of development and employment opportunities.
- On 14th February the Chief Secretary, Shri B V R Subrahmanyam reviewed all the preparations for the summit in Jammu.
- They are generating as many investment friendly sectoral policies.
- HoDs and other officers are encouraging one on one interaction with the potential investors in their respective Departments/areas so as to make the summit productive and outcome-oriented.
- The officers and heads attending the summits include Financial Commissioner H&M, Financial Commissioner, Finance, Principal Secretary, HUDD, Principal Secretary, Home, Principal Secretary, Hospitality & Protocol/Information, Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Commissioner Secretary, School Education, Secretary, Horticulture, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Secretary Tourism, Secretary DMRR&R, Secretary Law, MD JKTPO, Director Industries Jammu, and representatives of partner agencies participated in the meeting. Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir will be participating in the meeting through video conference.
- As part of a pre-event activity, road shows were organized on 17th February, 2020 in major cities across the country. Each roadshow shall focus on showcasing the specific sectors for seeking investment in J&K.
- The Media & Publicity Committee has been entrusted with finalizing the Media Plan and also sharing it with the Industries Department for its implementation. Nodal officers from each Department shall be nominated for dissemination of information on focus sectors.
Top Current Affairs for 15th and 16th February 2020
Apiary on Wheels for Promoting Beekeeping
On 13th February the Ministry of Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSME) launched the ‘Apiary on Wheels’ for the easy migration of Bee Boxes carrying live Bee Colonies. The concept was accepted by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and was launched by the Union Minister of MSME Shri Nitin Gadkari.
- The concept is a part of the National Honey Mission initiated by the Khadi and Village Commission (KVIC) in 2017.
- The goal behind launching such a unique concept is to make beekeeping easy, it will carry at least 20 Bee Boxes at once. It will make the migration of Bee Boxes easy, the maintenance easy, easy feeding of bees and it will also help the bees to sustain even in extreme summers.
- Honey Mission in 2017 targeted the training of beekeepers, distributing Bee Boxes and helping rural, educated but unemployed youth to earn extra income through beekeeping activities.
- The vehicle includes two large wheels on both sides and four separate compartments for placing the boxes. There is an automatic solar powered fan which cools the temperature of the boxes whenever it reaches 35 degree Celsius. The vehicles can be easily connected to tractors and trolleys.
- For starters the vehicles will be placed in mustard farms and will later be implemented across India.
- This cooling with the help of solar panels and sugar drips will ensure zero risk to the lives of bees, will prevent any damages to the bee boxes or bee colonies and help produce quality honey which was impossible earlier when beekeepers used harsh methods to feed the bees which allowed many of them to die in the process.
- Under the National Honey Mission (Khadi and Village Industries Commission) KVIC has been imparting training to beekeepers. Also it has been educating unemployed youths and distributing bee boxes to Bee farmers under this mission.
Hubballi ready to host Invest Karnataka
On 14th February the “Invest Karnataka – Hubballi Conference” was held in which almost 1,000 entrepreneurs participated with the aim of attracting investors to all the northern districts of Karnataka, especially Hubballi – Dharwad.
- The event was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa along with Union Ministers Suresh Angadi and Pralhad Joshi.
- The Invest Karnataka conference received proposals worth Rs. 72,000 Cr from over Indian and foreign companies.
- The new projects were proposed in sectors like hybrid power, electric vehicles, food processing, machinery, construction industry, FMCG. The focus districts included Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Davangere, Belagavi, Yadgir and others.
- One of the biggest investments came in the electric vehicle ecosystem, Rajesh Exports proposed to invest Rs. 50,000 Cr for establishing a unit of manufacturing electric vehicles and lithium cells and batteries. It is expected to generate around 10,000 jobs in the region.
- Hubli and Dharwad have been known to be best suited for both domestic and international investment, all it needs is proper infrastructure and human resource.
- Karnataka is known for its high-tech and skilled workforce and entices investment opportunities in aerospace, automobiles, machine tools, electric vehicles and biotechnology besides information technology.
- In fact, Karnataka topped the charts in the first-ever India Innovation Index by NITI Aayog, and is one of the leading states in India for start-ups.
L&T to deliver first patrol boat to Vietnam
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is building a high-speed patrol boat for Vietnam under the 100 Million US Dollar Line of Credit. The first high-speed boat is all set to be delivered by September this year.
A total of twelve boats are being obtained by Hanoi for its border guard force under the Line of Credit which was extended in the year 2014.
- Five boats will be built by Larsen & Toubro and the rest will be manufactured in Vietnam and the intended time to finish the project is 2021.
- India had extended another defence Line of Credit of 500 Million US Dollars in 2016 and the equipment under this arrangement is still to be decided, although Vietnam has shown its interest in the Akash Surface-to-Air Systems and the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters.
- The L&T has many such projects up its sleeves like producing 100 K9 Vajra – T self-propelled artillery guns with technology transfer from Hanwha Defence of South Korea, the full order will be delivered till June this year.
- It is also in talks with the Ordnance Factory Board (OFC) to share their project of assembling the Russian T-90 tanks.
- It has already manufactured and tested two of the four underwater autonomous vehicles and Fire Control Radars (FCR) for the air defence systems. The project has a tender of 250 mountain FCRs which is ongoing through the Make – II system.
Three Indian performing art forms entered the Guinness World Records
It was a proud moment for India when three Indian performing art forms entered the Guinness World Records. In an initiative launched by the Thyagayya Channel as a part of the Thyagayya Charitable Trust, the Carnatic music, Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi were presented in a unique show of solidarity with all three categories winning the contest for the maximum number of performers on a single stage.
- The landmark event took place on 1st February at the Ramachandra Convention Center in Chennai.
- The show was initially set to take place in December but couldn’t go through due to protests arising due to the CAA Law.
- All the three performances were based on the keerthanams of the medieval poet Thyagaraja.
- The Carnatic band led by Sudha Raghunathan had more than 700 singers, musicians and instrumentalists who performed three keerthanams, Sadinchine, Sri Ganapathini and Endaro Mahanubhavulu.
- The Kuchipudi session was led by Guru Krishna Kumar who choreographed the keerthanas ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu’ and for achieving the record the biggest Kuchipudi dance lesson was created of 1,183 Kuchipudi dancers.
- Guru Parvati Ravi Ghantasala choreographed the same keerthanam for the Bharatnatyam piece as the Kuchipudi and the record for the largest Bharatanatyam dance lesson had 436 Bharatanatyam dancers.
About Guinness World Record
Guinness World Records, was invented in 1955. It is a reference book published every year listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world.
Uttarakhand tightens deemed forest norms
On 13th February 2020 the Uttarakhand government imposed a norm for the classification of land forest. According to the rule any piece of land spreading over a minimum 5 hectares and has a minimum canopy density of 40% will be defined as forest.
- Meeting the parameters will enable the prohibitions laid down for forest areas under the Forest Conservation Act to be applicable in those areas, and a clearance from the Forest Department will be required to do any activity in that area.
- 71% of the geographical area in Uttarakhand has recorded forest area of 38,000 sq km.
- In this case the definition of ‘forest’ will exclude orchards or fruit plantations of any shape or species.
- This was done after environmentalists objected to the earlier rule which stated that a piece of land cannot be defined as forest if it is not spread across a minimum 10 hectares, and has a minimum canopy density of 60 per cent and doesn’t have 75 percent native trees. It meant that vast areas of land would not come under the protection of the Forest Conservation Act.
- The implementation of these new norms will open forests to builders and planters.
- The order was possible because of the Supreme Court’s judgment in 1996 which directed states to constitute expert committees to identify all forests, irrespective of whether they are notified, recognised or classified under any law, and irrespective of land ownership.
Top Current Affairs for 14th February 2020
President’s Colours Award goes to INS Shivaji
The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind awarded the President’s Colours Award to INS Shivaji on February 13th, 2020 at Lonavla, Maharashtra.
- The INS Shivaji, known before Independence as HMIS (Her Majesty’s Indian Ship) Shivaji in 1945, is a leading Cat ‘A’ training establishment of the Indian Navy.
- The motto of the establishment is “Karmasu Kaushalam” which translates to ‘Skill at Work’ in all facets of human endeavor.
- This year marks 75th year of the magnanimous Indian Naval Ship’s service of the nation and is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee Year.
- The INS Shivaji is an esteemed institution that includes the Naval Engineering College for the training of Indian Naval Officers, Coast Guards and other services not only from India but also from many foreign countries.
- The courses are conducted at the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). It also includes Centre of Excellence, Centre for Marine Engineering and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence School.
- It is a high honor that will be displayed at all ceremonial parades at INS Shivaji and will be an inspiration for all future marine engineers of the Navy.
What is the President’s Colours Award?
The President’s Colours Award is the most prestigious award presented to defense institutes and regiments for its contribution during war and peacetime.
Manpreet Singh won the FIH Men’s Player of the Year Award
Indian hockey star Manpreet Singh has won the prestigious International Federation of Hockey (FIH) Men’s Player of the Year Award. He created history by becoming the first Indian Hockey player to win this award since its inception in 1999.
- Manpreet Singh who hails from Jalandhar, Punjab, made his debut in 2011 and is the current captain of the Indian National Hockey team.
- Singh won the polls with a total of 35.2% votes from national associations, media, fans and players, going ahead of Arthur van Dorren of Belgium who scored 19.7% votes and Lucas Villa of Argentina who scored 16.5%.
- He has made more than 260 appearances till date and will also lead the team in the International Federation of Hockey Pro League.
- He has represented India twice in the Olympics in the years 2012 and 2016 and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
- The International Federation of Hockey was established in the year 1974 and is headquartered in Switzerland with a membership total of 137 countries.
- Singh had also led India in the Asia cup title win in 2017 and was also part of the 2014 Asian Games gold medal-winning Indian team and 2014 CWG Games silver medal-winning team apart from 2016 and 2018 Champions Trophy silver medal-winning teams.
GoI has decided to rename Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra
The Government of India has decided to rename the Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra, a cultural center that aimed to connect with the diaspora prevailing in the country, as the Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in the honor of the late Sushma Swaraj, the former External Affairs Minister of the Government of India.
- The decision to rename the center after the honorable minister was made by the Government of India on 12th February 2020 and the announcement was made on 14th February, 68th Sushma Swaraj’s birth anniversary.
- Sushma Swaraj was very empathetic towards Indians who suffered any kind of distress globally. Hence this made the GoI rename the institute believing in the same cause of helping the people of the country who are suffering anywhere in life.
- The renowned institution Foreign Service Institute where diplomats are trained has also been renamed the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service.
- Swaraj brought forcefulness in Indian diplomacy and engaged in the issue of diaspora, a central focus of the country’s foreign policy priorities.
- She was known for helping Indians stuck abroad and was available on Twitter to those in need. Swaraj even became popular in Pakistan for her response to people wanting to get visas for medical treatment in India.
About Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra
Established in 2011 the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra acts as networking between India and the Indian community aboard. Seminars, activities, workshops and events pertaining to the Indian diaspora are organized at the Kendra.
Rs. 81.67 crore worth electoral bonds sold before Delhi Assembly Elections
After the Delhi Assembly Polls the various branches of State Bank of India (SBI) sold 139 electoral bonds. The move was conducted after the electoral bond scheme was criticized by the opposition and many civil society groups for lack of transparency in local funding.
- The sale went through ahead of the Delhi assembly elections based on the query filed by Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra.
- The largest number of bonds i.e. 43 were sold by the Kolkata branch and a majority number of bonds i.e. 89 were encashed at the New Delhi branch.
- 78 bonds sold were of the denomination of Rs 1 crore and 34 bonds worth Rs 10 lakh each were also issued. The remaining 27 bonds were worth Rs 1 lakh each. No bonds were issued in the lower denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000.
- One of the reason for the early sale was the accusation of indirectly helping the party in power as it was reported that 95% of the electoral bonds purchased in 2017-18 went to the BJP.
- Since the scheme began Rs, 6,210 crore have been donated so far. It is not known who the recipient of the 2020 sale was.
What are Electoral Bonds?
Electoral bonds are a substitute to the cash funding made to political parties in order to bring transparency in political funding.
Trump Visit: India, US seal 3.5 Billion Dollar Defence Deals
One more chapter will been added to the strengthening of the India and U.S. relations with the signing of the mega trade deal worth 10 Billion US dollars. The deal will be signed when United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer visits New Delhi as apart of U.S. President Donald Trump’s India visit from 23rd February to 26th February.
- Ahead of this visit, India has finalized the USD 3.5 billion dollar deal for 20 heavy-duty armed helicopters.
- The deal includes the USD 2.6 billion deal for 24 MH-60 ‘Rmoe’ multi-mission helicopters for the Navy and USD 930 million one for six AH-64E Apache attack chopper for the Army.
- The initial instalment of 15% for the MH-60R helicopters will be paid by India under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) government-to-government deal.
- The first set of the choppers will arrive in India in the next two years and all 24 will come within four to five years. Six choppers, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets will be delivered around 2022-2023.
- Reports suggest that a US fighter — F/A-18, F-15EX or the F-21 will be selected for the mega ‘Make in India’ project to produce 114 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force for around USD 20 billion.
Conference on Combating Drug Trafficking
The Union Minister for Home Affairs Shri Amit Shah inaugurated the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Conference on Combating Drug Trafficking in New Delhi on 13th February 2020.
- The conference was organized by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and during the event, the administrative and operational manuals of the Narcotics Control Bureau were also released by the Home Minister.
- Delegations from partner nations including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and different states of India attended the conference. The conference was conducted in order to bring forward the need for every citizen to come together to lead the fight against drug trafficking.
- It highlighted important strategies and plans that need to be initiated to eradicate drug trafficking.
- Over 1.89 lakh Narcotics cases have been registered in India in the past 5 years. Over 2.31 lakh drug smugglers have been arrested by the agencies including over 1500 foreign nationals.
- An e-portal has been started by the Home Ministry for maintaining a digital record of narcotics for the use of various drug enforcement agencies.
- Strategies have been developed by the Government of India wherein the centre and state agencies will work together to end drug trafficking.
- A joint coordination committee has also been set up by the Government of India to increase surveillance over drug trafficking.
- The Home Minister expressed concern that the rate of addiction is showing a fast increase i.e. a 30% rise in the last 10 years. 400 billion dollar worth of yearly illicit drug trade happening globally.
- Indian security agencies have ceased over 2 metric tonnes of illicit heroin till September 2019 as compared to 1.2 metric tonnes in 2018. Manipur and Mizoram bordering with Myanmar and other coastal states have become a gateway for illicit drugs to enter India.
- Till date, India has signed 26 bilateral agreements, 15 MoUs and 2 security pacts with other countries to end drug trafficking.
Top Current Affairs for 13th February 2020
COVID – 19: Naming of Coronavirus by WHO and recent happenings regarding the Development of the Vaccine
The World Health Organization developed a new name for the Coronavirus on 11th February 2020. The new name chosen is ‘COVID – 19’, and WHO stated that the name does not have any geographical implications and was chosen in a way that it doesn’t hamper the lives of people in any country.
Till date, the coronavirus has affected more than 42,000 people including men, women and children. It is said that the development of a vaccine will take 18 months.
- A deadly coronavirus strain was first reported in Saudi Arabia called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This name suggested that the virus was developed because of reasons found in the Middle Eastern region.
- Similarly, during the swine flu epidemic, it had strains similar to the influenza virus which was known to circulate among pigs, so it affected pork sales greatly that year. Hence it was renamed the H1N1 flu.
- The above-mentioned facts are the reason that the United Nations chooses the names of the diseases in the most careful way.
- The virus originated from the Wuhan Food Market and spread across China and Japan causing destruction all over. It has affected 42,708 people in China out of which 1000 people have lost their lives.
- The Indian Government announced on February 6, 2020, that all the 645 Indians evacuated from China’s Wuhan city have tested negative for the coronavirus infection. The evacuees have been kept in isolation in army camps at Manesar in Gurgaon and ITBP camps in Delhi.
- If media reports are to be believed then a research team based in Australia has had a major breakthrough in developing novel coronavirus (nCoV) outside China. An Australian Research Team led by an Indian Scientist Professor SS Vasan (overseas citizen of India), has developed the first batch of the virus outside China, which will pave the way ahead for conducting preclinical studies with higher efficiency and results to develop a vaccine to control the global outbreak.
- UK scientists tested a new COVID – 19 vaccines and the Shanghai University of China also extracted a vaccine for the virus which has been tested on mice.
Dan David Prize (Indian Scholar, Gita Sen)
The Dan David Foundation at Tel Aviv University awarded the prestigious Dan David Prize to Ms Gita Sen, India’s prominent feminist scholar and activist. The Dan David Prize is awarded annually, three prizes are awarded of 1 Million U.S. Dollars (one of the highest value prizes globally) to personalities and organizations with outstanding contributions that expand past knowledge, enhance present society and promise to make a better tomorrow.
Gita Sen was bestowed this prize for her extensive work in population policies, reproductive and sexual health, women’s rights, poverty, labour markets and global governance.
- Gita Sen is the Director of the Ramalingaswami Centre for Equity and Social Determinants of Health at the Public Health Foundation of India. She holds a Doctorate from the illustrious Stanford University.
- She has an experience of 35 years in academics and along with that has been actively involved in policy advocacy in order to shape the global paradigm shift of population and development. Among her most important works was the research on disadvantaged populations in low-income rural areas. It revolutionized the field entirely.
- This year the award is given on three basis, cultural preservation and revival (past), gender equality (present) and artificial intelligence (future).
- Gita Sen will be sharing her 1 Million Dollars with Debora Deniz, Deputy Director, Rights and Justice Unit for International Planned Parenthood Federation – Western Hemisphere Region.
- Six laureates will be awarded in May this year in Tel Aviv. Laurates donate 10% of their prize to scholarships for graduates and postgraduate researchers in their fields.
- Her achievements include being an adjunct professor of global health and population at Harvard University, General Coordinator of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN). She also worked with the UN and WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research.
- She is the member of the Mission Steering Group of the National Rural Health Mission and Governing Board of the National Health Systems Resource Centre.
Pesticides Management Bill
The Union Cabinet sanctioned the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020 on 12th February 2020 which will regulate the pesticide business and also compensate the farmers who suffer losses from the usage of harmful pesticides.
- The main goal of the bill is the welfare of the farmers and to make sure they get high-quality pesticides for their crops and aren’t duped into using faulty spurious agrochemicals. The loss will be paid from the funds collected from the manufacturers.
- Earlier the pesticide business was governed by the Insecticide Act1 968 which was obsolete in today’s time and needed urgent upgradation.
- The bill was first discussed in 2008 in the Standing Committee and the new bill has been drafted keeping in mind the recommendations and discussions of the committee.
- The farmers will now be educated about the pesticides they use i.e. they will be aware of the strengths and harmful effects of the pesticide. This will help them in making a better choice.
- There are a total of 234 pesticides used in India out of which 4 are in WHO’s la (extremely hazardous) class, 15 belong to the lb (highly hazardous) class and 76 falls in Class II (moderately hazardous) category. Only 40% of pesticides used in India are registered.
Medical Devices Amendment Rules (2020)
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Tuesday 11th February that all the medical devices sold in the country will be treated as drugs and sold under the regulations of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
- Presently only 23 medical devices are classified as drugs of which only a few including cardiac stents, drug-eluting cardiac stents, condoms, intrauterine devices, have been brought under price control.
- The decision was taken after consultation with the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) which is the apex decision making body on technical matters related to drugs.
- The health ministry also made some amendments to the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 (which was made public and suggestions were invited from stakeholders). This amendment will be called the Medical Devices (Amendment) Rules, 2020 and would also be implemented from April 1st, 2020.
- The new amendment states that the medical devices shall be registered with the Central Licensing Authority through an identified online portal established by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Such registration is voluntary for a period of 18 months, after which it will be mandatory.
Amendment of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Sri Lanka
On 12th February 2020 , the Union Cabinet sanctioned the protocol to make an amendment to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) signed between India and Sri Lanka. This was done in order to avoid fiscal evasions.
The amendment will introduce an anti-abuse provision, and a Principle Purpose Test to avoid strategies that exploit tax gaps in tax rules.
- India and Sri Lanka are parts of major multilateral organizations like Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Group of Twenty (G20) and Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS), hence they need to abide by the standards-based on Multilateral Conventions to implement Tax Treaty related measures. The Union Cabinet agreed to amend the DTAA on the basis of fiscal evasion.
- The Principle Purpose Test was added because India is a signatory authority of the Multilateral Convention to implement Tax Treaty and Sri Lanka is not, hence it was necessary in order to maintain a minimum standard.
- The Multilateral Convention to implement Tax Treaty was signed in 2016 by 100 countries to prevent and eradicate Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. It is also called the Multilateral Instrument (MLI).
- In case a country has signed an MLI with India it doesn’t need to include the Principle Purpose Test, but since Sri Lanka is not a signatory, therefore, the Principle Purpose Test was included in the DTAA.
Sixth Edition Sindhu Mahotsav to start from February 14th
The 6th edition of the Sindhu Mahotsav will commence from February 14th till February 15th 2020. The event is known for showcasing different classical forms of dance.
- The festival is named ‘Sindhu’ after the ancient majestic river that flows from the Kailash Mountain in Tibetan into the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. It also has tributaries flowing through India in Ladakh.
- The Mahotsav is organized by Vaibhav Arekar and Sushant Jadhav of the Sankhya Dance Company in collaboration with Poonam Gokhle’s Mudra Centre for Performing Arts.
- The festival will showcase the famous Bharatnatyam ensemble work called ‘Nibandhana’ which is described as painting the canvas of space using multiple bodies and is an artistic journey of attaining unison performed by the dance group Margam.
- The ensemble Kathak production, ‘Vismay’ described as revealing secrets that dance holds by Maulik Shah and Ishira Parikh and the Anarth Dance troupe, will also be part of the festival.
- The first day will be organized at Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha, Kothrud but all the performances will be held at Sakal Lalit Kalaghar, Gultekdi, on the concluding day.
- Margam performs in a traditional order and has its own repertoire. This time the troupe will do it differently and not do solo performances but hold a group performance with the same feel and energy.
Top Current Affairs for 12th February 2020
India U.K. joint exercise: Ajeya Warrior
On Monday 10th February, the Indian Army announced that the fifth edition of the Indo-U.K. joint exercise Ajeya Warrior will commence on 13th February 2020 in Salisbury Plains, Chalk Plateau.
- The Ajeya Warrior exercise has been held between India and the U.K. since the year 2005.
- This year the exercise will be held in the U.K. in Salisbury Plains. Salisbury Plains is known for its archeological monument-the Stonehenge.
- Around 120 soldiers each from both countries will be participating in this exercise.
- The exercise will be held from 13th February till 26th February.
- The aim of the exercise is for the soldiers to share their experiences gained during the conduct of various counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations in the past in urban and semi-urban areas.
- The exercise will include training with modern weapon systems, equipment and simulator training.
- This exercise promotes defense cooperation and develops interoperability while sharing experiences between both the armies.
What is Ajeya Warrior Exercise?
Ajeya Warrior exercise is a joint military exercise held alternatively between India and the U.K. in which the two military forces work together to share operating procedures to deal with a situation in a particular operational setting.
NCRB report on women and child trafficking
According to the latest report presented by the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) on women and child trafficking, the most incidents of trafficking were held in Mumbai and Kolkata. The report was developed on the orders of the Supreme Court.
- In 2011 a panel was established by the Supreme Court which ordered the NCRB to come up with a report on missing children and women in order to identify the areas prone to trafficking.
- The main causes reported by the NCRB of trafficking are forced marriages, child labor, domestic help, sexual exploitation and many more.
- During the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 a total of 2,90,439, 3,05,267, and 3,47,542 people were reported missing and the number of missing women each year is more than the men.
- The maximum number of missing women and children were in the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Bihar. Particularly in Mumbai, Pune and Thane in Maharashtra.
- In West Bengal, Kolkata has reported the maximum number of missing women during 2018.
- In Madhya Pradesh, Indore has reported the maximum number of missing women.
- Patna in Bihar and Rohini and Outer District of Delhi have reported the maximum number of missing children.
- Mumbai recorded the highest number of missing women during 2017 and 2018 with 4,718 and 5,201 women missing respectively. Both the years, Pune was second with 2,576 cases in 2017 and 2,504 in 2018.
- Kolkata reported the highest number of missing women during 2018 with 2,584 cases, whereas Nadia district reported 1,708 missing women cases in 2017 and 2,468 cases of missing women in 2018.
- In child trafficking Indore, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number during 2017 and 2018 with 596 cases in 2017 and 823 in 2018.
- While in West Bengal, Kolkata and Nadia district had most cases of missing children in 2018 with 989 cases and 291 in 2017 to 474 in 2018 respectively.
GoI released Draft Visionary Perspective Plan (2020 – 30)
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Government of India introduced the Draft Visionary Plan (2020 – 30) on February 3rd 2020 in order to preserve the ecosystem, natural habitat, avian diversity and the landscapes of the country.
- The objective of the draft states that it aims to protect and improve its natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.
- The importance and urgency of the draft seemed much more important after incidents like a rare oriental darter seen struggling to get its beak free from a plastic piece and a black-necked stork having its beak sealed with a plastic a plastic ring around it in the wetlands of Delhi, were reported.
- The draft also focuses on protecting and conserving tigers and elephants and their habitats in India.
- It includes a series of short, medium and long term plans to protect the endangered species, recovery of critically endangered species and introduction of a landscape approach to stop their rapidly receding population.
- To prevent their habitats from turning into wastelands and to conserve all the wetlands and coastal areas where these creatures stay.
- There are 1,317 species of birds in the country out of which 72 are endemic, 100 are threatened, 17 are critically endangered, 63 are vulnerable and 20 are endangered. Species like pheasants, hornbills, bustards, stork, cranes and other 270 avifauna are rare.
- The reason for extinction and endangerment of birds and animals are due to poaching, epidemics, habitat loss and destruction of the ecosystem. Due to the decline in the population of vultures, the population of stray dogs has increased rapidly in India.
- Urbanization has severely affected 2,01,503 wetlands in India. 219 bird biodiversity areas are under anthropogenic pressure.
Ground Water Act, 2020
On February 11th the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath sanctioned the Ground Water Act 2020 in order to improve the falling groundwater level. According to the act registration for installation of submersible pumps and rainwater harvesting in all public and private schools and colleges in the state has been made mandatory.
- The aim of the act is to improve the quality of the groundwater level.
- Farmers and households won’t be charged any fee for using the submersible pumps.
- Punishments and penalties will be awarded to anyone caught polluting the groundwater through boring pipes.
- The punishment for the person caught polluting the groundwater for the first time will be 6 months to 1 year with a penalty ranging from Rs 2-5 lakhs.
- The second-timers will have to face punishment for up to 2-5 years and pay a penalty of Rs 5-10 lakh.
- The third timer will face punishment from 5-7 years and will have to pay a penalty amounting to Rs 10-20 lakh.
- Online registration has been made available for the submersible pumps and all boring companies will need to get their registration done. They will also have to update all the information after every three months
- After having a provision to install a rainwater harvesting system, the map of government and private buildings will be cleared.
New Bulletproof Jackets: Bhabha Kavach
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) developed a new bulletproof jacket for the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) called the Bhabha Kavach. It was displayed at the International Police Expo 2019 held the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi in July last year.
- With a weight of 6.8kg, the jacket is considered to be the lightest of its kind till date as compared to the other jackets that weigh around 17kgs.
- It is considered to be the lightest and cheapest bulletproof jacket in India. It is the lightest level 3 jacket and has been produced on carbon nanotube and hot-pressed boron carbide technologies.
- It has been developed under the ‘Make in India’ initiative as a substitute for foreign imports.
- It has received approval from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the National Institute of Justice.
- It has the capacity to stop hardcore steel bullets fired from AK-47s, bolt action rifles and self-loading rifles.
- 5 jackets were given to the CISF and have been approved to be added to the inventory of the CRPF.
- The jackets will be produced in a large quantity in Ordnance Factories (decided by the Ordnance Factory Boards) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI).
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
The United Nations General Assembly declared 11th February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
- On 22nd December 2015, the UN General assembly decided to establish the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to recognize the critical role that women and girls play in science and technology, through passing a resolution named A/RES/70/212 and this year marks its 5th edition.
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is an academic discipline of science. This education starts with young pupils in a learning environment and the curriculum shows that students are taught with some methods that can be applied to everyday life mainly to attract women and girls.
- There are less than 30% of women researchers in the world. Further, a survey by UNESCO discovered that only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education and female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT at 3%, natural science, mathematics and statistics at 5% and in engineering, manufacturing and construction at 8% all over the world.
- UNESCO stated that its top priority is to encourage gender equality especially in education and job and other opportunities.
- ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth’ was selected as the theme for the 5th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The theme focuses on the empowerment of women and girls, equal access and motivates them to opt for science.
- The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will partner with the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) to co-host the 5th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly on 11-12 February 2020.
- Turkish Airlines, Kaneka Americas have also supported the development of this year’s assembly.
- This year the focus is on the role of women and girls in science for improving green and inclusive economy regulatory and policy framework and to promote innovative green investment in women and girls in science through public-private partnerships. Advancing the development of women at the national-level for holistic inclusive and green action.
Top Current Affairs for 11th February 2020
Maharashtra is the Top Spender in Corporate Social Responsibility
At the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Conclave 2020 held at Karve Institute of Social Services, Pune, Maharashtra, Mr. Rakesh Baveja, Vice President (Operations & CSR) of Fait India said that Maharashtra spent the most amount in Corporate Social Responsibility among all the states in India. He said that the total expenditure by all the states through CSR is at least Rs. 2,500 crore per year and Maharashtra contributes the maximum amount in the total figure.
- The conclave was organized by the Lions Club International in collaboration with the Karve Institute of Social Services.
- The objective of the conclave was to bring all the stakeholders together to inform them about the process of CSR to save time.
- The conclave was inaugurated by Mr. Omprakash Pethe, district governor of Lions Club International and Mr. Rakesh Baveja was the Chief Guest.
- The event focused on the techniques of CSR development in the last 5 years and how it has helped many companies to build a positive image in society.
- Baveja stressed the importance of CSR and how it contributes to uplift society as well as bring happiness. He also added that CSR can be used to identify and eliminate loopholes in the governmental system.
- In the event, awards were presented to many distinguished personalities like Pradeep Patil of Fiat India Pvt. Ltd, Anil Mandrupkar of Cummins India, Vikas Kaushik of Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, Madhuri Sanas Of Sudarshan Chemicals, Saurabh Gadgil of P.N. Gadgil Jewellers, Siddharth Yawalkar of Tata Technology, Dipti Kambale of S.L.K. Global Solutions Ltd., Pranav Chougule of IDFC First Bank Ltd, Vendati Patil of Oerlikon Balzers.
Kaamya Karthikeyan is the youngest girl to climb Mt. Aconcagua
On 1st February 2020, Kaamya Karthikeyan became the youngest girl to climb atop the highest peak in South America, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina. Kaamya is a 12-year-old native of Mumbai, Maharashtra. She peaked the mountain which is 6962 meters high and is the highest summit outside Asia.
- After reaching Mt. Aconcagua, Kaamya hoisted the Indian flag atop the mountain.
- Kaamya is the daughter of a Naval Officer S. Karthikeyan and Lavanya Karthikeyan and is a class 7th student of Navy Children School in Mumbai.
- She started with basic treks when she was 3 years old in Lonavala, and had already completed several high-altitude Himalayan treks with her parents including Roopkund (5,020 metres) in Uttarakhand by the time she was nine.
- Other peaks under her belt include Everest Base Camp in Nepal (5,346 meters) at 10 years of age. She is the youngest mountaineer to conquer Mt Stok Kangri (6,153 metres) in Ladakh. She also scaled Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres) the highest peak in Africa, Mt Elbrus (5,642 metres), the highest mountain in Europe and then Australia’s tallest mountain Mt Kosciuszko (2,228 metres).
World Pulses Day
10th February 2020 was celebrated as the World Pulse Day to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of Pulse and how vital they are in the growth and development of the human body.
- The UN General Assembly passed the resolution to celebrate 10th February as World Pulse Day to continue the goal of International Year of Pulses in 2016 which spread the knowledge about the nutritional values of pulses.
- Earlier 2016 was celebrated as International Year of Pulses for the contribution of Pulses to sustainable food production and toward food security and nutrition.
- Pulses are rich in protein and are used as a source in areas where meat and dairy products aren’t available.
- Pulses have been proven fruitful in combating diseases like diabetes, obesity and cholesterol due to its characteristic of being rich in soluble fiber and low in fat.
- Pulses aren’t only restricted to improving the health of the human body, they also improve soil fertility due to its nitrogen-fixing properties, which help in increasing the production capacity.
- They protect the crops from pests and promote farm biodiversity as they are used for intercropping.
- Pulses contribute to climate change mitigation as they reduce the dependence on synthetic fertilizers used to introduce nitrogen artificially into the soil. This further reduces greenhouse emissions during production.
Cauvery Delta declared Protected Agricultural Zone
The Cauvery Delta was declared a Protected Agricultural Zone on 10th February by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Shri K. Palaniswami. This means that no non-agricultural activities will be held at the Cauvery Delta from now on.
Cauvery Delta is a region of Tamil Nadu which contains the lower reaches of the Kaveri River and its delta.
- This declaration came after Cauvery Delta was made available for conducting oil and gas projects last September and raised massive protests during the water crises in the state.
- It also means that the companies need to take the permission of the State Government to undertake any projects in the delta, be it oil and gas or any other.
- The reason for the decision to protect the Cauvery Delta is because of the Hydrocarbons found in the region.
- The declaration includes 8 Districts that come under the Cauvery Delta which are Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Karur and Tiruchirappalli.
- The Government assured the people that no Hydrocarbon projects will be permitted to conduct operations in this region.
First Disha Police Station in Andhra Pradesh
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy inaugurated the first Disha Police Station of the state on 8th February at Rajamahendravaram. Along with the CM, Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, Home Minister M. Sucharitha and DGP Gautam Sawang were present at the ceremony.
- Andhra Pradesh is preparing itself to establish the latest forensic research laboratories, special courts and public prosecutors to properly implement the Disha Bill 2019 and says it will be fully equipped by June this year.
- 18 Disha Police Stations will be set up all over the state by the end of February.
- Funding amounts of Rs. 26 crores and Rs. 31 crores were approved by the government to set up 13 Special Disha Courts and forensic laboratories respectively.
- The forensic labs will be established at Tirupati and Visakhapatnam for an efficient investigation of every Disha case.
- The Disha Law will award capital punishments to convicts in rape cases if the evidence is provided within 14 days trial and ensures completion of fair and proficient investigation within 7 days.
- These Police Stations are established specially to ensure the protection and well-being of women.
Best Performing Smart Cities paired up with Least Performing Cities: Sister Cities
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs decided to pair up 20 best performing Smart Cities with 20 least performing Smart Cities to work together as ‘Sister Cities’ to help increase the GDP and uplift the economy of the nation.
This programme is called the 20-20 Formula and seems like an exercise that was used by school teachers to help poor-performing students to excel in class.
- These cities will help each other execute projects prescribed under the mission. They will take on a hundred-day challenge to help the other cities to enhance the ranks and performance of the bottom 20 cities.
- The ‘Sister Cities’ will sign the memorandum agreement of the programme on 20th February.
- The 20-20 Formula aims at having a clean and sustainable environment for smart solutions. For this purpose, it includes core infrastructure elements like proper sanitation, adequate water supply, robust IT connectivity, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, education, and health, etc.
- Under the project, Varanasi has been paired with Amritsar to improve its performance under the smart cities mission.
- Similarly, Surat and Visakhapatnam will help Sharanpur and Diu to improve their performance respectively.
Top Current Affairs for 10th February 2020
A system that predicts Air Quality 72 hrs in advance developed
An efficient system that will predict the air quality 72 hrs. in advance was developed by a team of Pune-based scientists of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) led by Sachin Ghude.
- The system was developed in collaboration with from Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), and researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and National Centre for Atmospheric Research (USA).
- The new system is an up-gradation to the one currently used by the MoES which is used to detect the PM2.5 dust particles in the air.
- The system was developed keeping in view the air quality of New Delhi was degraded rapidly in the winter months of October – December causing respiratory illnesses and visibility impairment.
- Although it is very hard to predict air quality 3 days prior, chemical data in model assimilation is said to provide a better forecast in real-time.
A safe & secure digital vault to store docs coming soon in Tamil Nadu
A safe and secure system of managing all the official documents of an individual in being developed in Tamil Nadu as a part of e-Governance was announced recently by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Shri Eddapadi K. Palaniswami.
- The aim of the digital vault is to eliminate the process of spending hours at govt. offices to collect important documents, instead, now all the documents will be available to a person through a digital vault which will be accessible through a One Time Password (OTP).
- It is an identity-based, zero proof predictive govt. service developed with a hardcore Block-chain system.
- It will be a hassle-free platform that will provide smooth interaction between the govt. officials and the general public. It was introduced after observing how people spend days together in govt. offices to make minor changes in their documents.
- The application software used for issuing certificates will be suitably modified so that the document issued shall electronically hit the Makkal Number (People’s Number) already created by TNeGA (Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency) for seven crore people of the state.
- The Block-chain is a new robust digital system for transactions with resistance to data modification meaning the data in the Block-chain cannot be altered.
- The cost of developing this Block-chain technology will be around Rs. 40 crores.
- The system will also authenticate the documents electronically without having to do any manual attestations.
- The system will be fully developed by next year.
J&K Administration offers investors ‘uninterrupted’ Internet, Wi-Fi access
As per the J&K Information Technology Policy 2020, IT parks to be developed in J&K on an area of five lakh square feet will have uninterrupted internet and Wi-Fi access. In the last month’s investor conference held in New Delhi, investment opportunities for 14 sectors were put forward and in a bid to attract investors the J&K Administration has promised uninterrupted internet and Wi-Fi access to them.
- Apart from the Wi-Fi access, the J&K administration is also attracting investors with its good air quality and low crime rate as a reason to invest in the Union Territory.
- It is also offering various incentives to IT companies like transportation and security so that they can work in three shifts.
- The administration is also encouraging women participation in every aspect by providing transportation and security for night hours and the IT Park will have 15% of ‘plug and play’ premises reserved for female entrepreneurs.
- To connect the IT units with the panchayats the land allotment to these IT companies will be done on a high priority basis and many internet service providers will be encouraged to provide high-speed internet in all the panchayats.
- The lands owned by the government under Real Estate Policy will be distributed to these investors through a bidding process.
- Land acquisition will take place through landowners partnering with the private players or through acquisition or pooling through private players. This is being done to protect the people of the valley who think the revocation of the Article will take their lands away.
Bidar Airport Inaugurated
On Friday 7th February the Chief Minister of Karnataka Shri B.S. Yediyurappa inaugurated the Bidar Airport at Chidri. The airport will launch commercial flights between Bidar and Bengaluru and will boost the economy of Bidar as the connectivity will encourage them to open new industries here.
- The Trujet air carrier which is promoted by the Hyderabad based company Megha Engineering and Infrastructures became the first air carrier to fly into the airport.
- CM Yediyurappa flew in and out from the same air carrier. With this Bidar became the 24th destination in Trujet’s network.
- The GMR Airports had earlier signed the agreement to operate the civilian enclave at the airport under the Ude Desh ka Aam Aadmi (UDAN) regional connectivity scheme.
- Trujet has 7 ATR-72 aircraft flies two-third of its flights under the UDAN scheme.
- With this airport, Bidar will become much more accessible and connected with the entire country opening its door for development and investment.
HAL receives approval to produce light utility helicopters
On 8th February 2020, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited received its first approval from the Defence Research and Development department of DRDO to produce light utility helicopters.
- The production of these helicopters will now commence after receiving the clearance from the Defence Research and Development.
- The LUH are 3-ton single-engine helicopters which are primarily developed for the usage of the Indian Air Force.
- Already 3 prototypes have been developed and tested with 550 flights under various weather conditions giving a positive result.
- Now the next step will be to integrate these LUHs according to the missions of the IAF and then test its compatibility.
- These light utility helicopters will replace the existing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.
Top Current Affairs for 8th & 9th February 2020
India and African Nations sign ‘Lucknow Declaration’ for enhanced collaboration
The first India-Africa Defence Minister’s Conclave at the DefExpo 2020 was held in Lucknow where both the countries signed the ‘Lucknow Declaration’ on 6th February. The conclave was attended by Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh along with 12 African Ministers and other 38 representatives of all African countries.
- The declarations state that all the signatories will collaborate in the fields of peace and security i.e. prevention of conflicts, resolution of conflicts, development and managing the peace through expertise and training, increasing women participation in maintaining peace and propagating the culture of peace and finally strengthening regional and continental early warning capacities and mechanisms.
- This conclave was a part of the DefExpo 2020, the exhibition showcases new and future technologies in the field of defence.
- The declaration condemned terrorism and emphasized the need for collaboration by nations by sharing information and intelligence to fight and eradicate terrorism.
- It focused on the cooperation between Indian and African nations and the importance of Indo-Pacific.
- According to the declaration both the nations believe in pursuing the vision of peace and security held by both African Union (AU) and Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR) in India.
Parsi Population rose by 223 since Jiyo Parsi Scheme launched: Naqvi
The Union Minister for Minority Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi stated in the Lok Sabha on 6th February that since the launch of the Jiyo Parsi Scheme in 2013 the Parsi population in India rose by 223.
- The scheme was initially launched to curb the decline and then gradually increase the Zoroastrian population in India. The first phase was launched in 2013 and the second phase was launched in 2017.
- The scheme aims to curb the decline of the Parsi population by adopting systematic procedures and structured involvements to maintain the population.
- The reason for the low population rate of Parsis in India is said to be, low infertility rate, late marriages and voluntary or involuntary childlessness among Parsi couples.
- The fall of the Parsi population from 1,14,000 in 1941 to 57,264 in 2011 was an alarming concern that led the government to launch this initiative.
- The total expenditure to date on this scheme has been Rs. 14 crores.
Unemployment Rate at 6.1% in 2107-18, Govt. cities new survey
On Wednesday 5th February the government informed the Rajya Sabha that the unemployment rate was at 6.1% in 2017-18. The Minister of State for Labour Shri Santosh Gangwar that this statistic was derived from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) which also derived that the labour force participation in the country is at 36.9%.
- The survey was conducted using new parameters and substantial sample size and the new results cannot be compared with the older survey results.
- Mr Gangwar stated India’s focus is on infrastructural development.
- It has risen to the 63rd position from the previous position of 196.
- This focus on infrastructural development will give rise to more and more employment opportunities.
Mega Project to map India’s Genetic Diversity
The government greenlit India’s gene mapping project called the Genome India Project on 7th February 2020. It is a one of a kind project which will enable India to record the diverse gene pool in India and understand the core of the human body i.e. genes and proteins which in turn will prove to be a boon for medicinal, biotechnology and life sciences fields.
- There are 20 institutions involved in carrying out the Genome India Project including Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and many IIT institutes.
- Under this project, 1000 youngsters from rural areas will have their genomes sequenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
- The project will cost around Rs. 238 crores.
- The launch of the first stage of the project was permitted by the Department of Biotechnology (Department of Science and Technology) last month which will entail observing the gene sample of 10,000 Indians to form a “grid” that will enable the development of a “reference genome”.
- The IISc’S Brain Research Department will be the nodal point of the project with Prof. Vijaylashami Ravindranath acting as a coordinator.
- With a diverse gene pool available in India and diseases like Diabetes, blood pressure and mental health etc. occupy most of the genes, the research will provide a genetic basis which will study it and prevent it.
- Some institutions will provide clinical samples and some will assist with the project.
- The project was initiated in 2017 by the Centre for Brain Research at IISc while researching the process of ageing and Alzheimer’s disease.
- A report will be given to every participant in case they carry any gene variant that makes them less responsive to any medication.
Manoj Das received the Mystic Kalinga Literary Award
Prominent writer Shri Manoj Das received the Mystic Kalinga Literary Award on 8th February in the Indian and Global Languages category at the 2-day long Mystic Kalinga Festival. The award consists of Rs. 1 lakh, a khadi shawl and a certificate of laurate.
- Manoj Das received India’s third-highest civilian award, the Padma Bushan, recently for his contribution to literature and education.
- The festival was held in Bhubneswar, Odisha from 8th – 9th February.
- The festival includes a wide variety and collaboration of poetry reading, lectures of literary arts, music and dance performances and panel discussions.
- The aim of the festival is to understand the literature of the world and assert the fascination surrounding bhakti.
- Works of many great poets like Appar, Sambandar, Tulsidas, Ravidas, Adi Shankara were discussed at the festival.
- Shri Manoj Das is currently a faculty member of the Department of English Literature and Philosophy at the Sri Aurobindo International University, Puducherry.
Top Current Affairs for 7th February 2020
International Gandhi Award for Leprosy
On 6th February, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the Hon’ble President of India presented the Gandhi Award to Dr N. S. Dharmshaktu in the individual category and the Leprosy Mission Trust in the institutional category.
- Dr N S Dharamshaktu has been recognized for dedicating several years of his life to fighting towards leprosy.
- Leprosy Mission Trust India has been working for and with the people afflicted by leprosy for over a century.
- The President lauded India’s fight against leprosy and commended the efforts that have brought down the effects of this disease over the years.
- Leprosy has been eliminated to the extent of one case per thousand population.
- More importantly, the social stigma and partiality against leprosy patients have decreased on a substantial level.
- Still, the diseases creep up every time in a new form, and yet there is an urgent need to eradicate it from our country.
- The President said the most significant challenge faced in this fight is maintaining the commitment and focus when the resources are meager.
- There is an urgent need to develop technology to detect and treat leprosy efficiently all over the country.
- We need to educate and aware the people of our country to fight against the disease, not the innocent patients.
Rakhi Haldar wins Gold at Senior Women’s National Weightlifting Championship.
In the 35th edition of the Senior Women’s National Weightlifting Championship, Rakhi Halder won a Gold Medal in the 64kg category. Haldar lifted 93kg in snatch and 117kg in clean and jerk and was 10 kg ahead of her opponent Harjinder Kaur of Chandigarh.
- Rakhi Haldar hails from Bengal and although she won the gold, her feat yesterday wasn’t her personal best.
- Rakhi Haldar is ranked 19th in the Olympic qualifiers list.
- Her personal best to date has been 218kg at the Qatar International Cup in 2019 where she won the bronze medal.
- She won the Gold Medal in June last year at the Commonwealth Championship.
- Apart from being an International level Athlete, she is also an employee in the Indian Railways.
Aero and Defence Park Likely to Come Up in Jhansi
The Aero and Defence Park along with a Defence Corridor which is worth Rs. 37,000 crores will be developed in Jhansi. The announcement was made at the DefExpo 2020. The park will be developed in four phases and will entail an aviation university, aerospace laboratory, simulation for Airbus, Boeing and also Russian helicopters and much more.
- The park will spread over 6,000 acres of land in Bundelkhand.
- It will be developed in collaboration by Titan Aviation & Aerospace India Limited and some Ukrainian companies.
- It will also consist of an advanced maintenance center for aircraft and even a last stage production unit of drones, bulletproof vests, and bomb blankets.
- This highly engineered park has left no stone unturned in becoming an all in one defence and aero platform and will have its own township and airstrip.
- The project was introduced after a meeting between TAAIL and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Aditya Nath.
- As a bonus, TAAIL is planning to introduce 3D printing technologies for manufacturing components of aircraft.
Reserve Bank of India Released its Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy
The governor of RBI Shaktikanta Das announced on 6th February its decision to keep the key lending rates at existing levels. This decision was announced as a part of their Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy. The committee meets after every two months to observe and if necessary, make changes in the policy.
- The current repo rate of lending short term funds to commercial banks is 5.15 per cent.
- It is the lowest recorded rate in the last nine years.
All six members of the MPC voted in favour of maintaining the current status of the policy.
- They said it was in line with the expectations of the economists.
- The retail inflation rate rose from 4.6% to 5.5% in last October and further increased to 7.4% in December.
- According to RBI, the economic slowdown has occurred due to weak household spending and muted corporate investments.
- Another reason is a slowdown in the construction and manufacturing sector.
- The CPI for Q4 of this year’s financial year is estimated to be 6.5% while for Q3 it was at 3.2%
GIPC released the International IP (Intellectual Property) Index
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC) released the eighth edition of its annual IP Index. The aim is to assess how the 53 global economies approach IP i.e. through copyright and patent policies, commercialization of IP assets and ratification of IP assets.
- U.S and European economies led the rankings and other emerging economies showed growth by abiding by the pro IP measures.
With a total score of 16.22, India ranked 40 out of 53 countries.
- India’s scorecard has shown a 7% improvement as compared to the previous year reporting of GIPC.
- But, if relative performance is considered, India was pushed four ranks backwards. In 2019, India was at 36th rank improving from 44th position in 2018.
- US topped the list with a score of 95.28 in the ranking whereas the UK stood second with the ranking of 93.62.
- Apart from these two nations, four other countries achieved the 90 point mark including France at 91.50, Germany at 91.08, and Sweden at 90.56 and Japan at 90.40.
- Other rankers were Netherlands (89.64), Ireland (88.98), Switzerland (85.34) and Spain (84.64).
SASE Report on Mid-Winter
According to the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) report on mid-winter assessment, the snowfall received from November 2019 to January 2020 has been the highest in the past 30 years.
- The SASE report stated that the western Himalayas this year has got 20 per cent more snowfall than usual.
- It also revealed that avalanches mainly occur between 10 AM to 1 PM as the snowmelt heavily during these times, thus causing floods.
- Snowfall between February to April will be positive.
- Strong El Nino in the Eastern Pacific Ocean during 2019 favoured a significant increase in snowfall over the western and central Himalayan region this year.
The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment is an important measure that evaluates the level of avalanches and informs about their intensity. This measure was introduced to protect the Indian Army and necessary defence equipment along the LOC against deadly snowstorms and floods.
Top Current Affairs for 6th February 2020
The Def Expo 2020 is a periodic event which is held by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India. This time this event is being held for the first time since its inception in the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh from 5th February to 9th February. PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the expo on 5th Feb 2020.
- This is the 11th edition of the expo.
- Over 172 foreign defence manufacturers and defence ministers of 38 countries will be participating in the Defence Expo.
- The expo aims at the development of new technologies in the defence sector. It is an opportunity for various defence manufacturing companies from across the globe to showcase their products and services.
- The theme of the DefExpo India 2020 is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’.
- The main focus of the expo will be on ‘Digital Transformation of Defence’
- Def Expo also acts as a promoter of Make in India as it would offer many opportunities for the defence sector to develop the industry and encourage the export.
- The response has been overwhelmingly positive from foreign collaborators and participants.
- To strengthen the Indo-African relations, a conference will be held during the expo, and the memorandum of the undertaking for the same will be signed during the expo.
- The expo will strengthen India’s relations with the foreign world.
Around 30 African countries are expected to participate in the event.
Union Cabinet has approved to set up Vardhavan Port in Maharashtra
The government approved setting up of an important port at Vardhvan near Dahanu in Maharashtra on 5th February 2020. The port will be developed according to the Landlord Model in partnership with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
- The entire business activities will be spearheaded under PPP mode by private developers.
- With the development of this port, India will enter the list of countries with the top 10 container ports in the world.
- The total costing of the project will be approximately Rs. 65544.54 crores.
- The JNPT is the lead partner of the project, having a stake of around 50%.
- The Vardhavan Port has a natural draft of which is 20 meters closer to the shore, which is an advantage because it enables it to handle bigger vessels at the port.
- Construction of this port will increase the call of container vessel’s capacity of 16000 – 25000 TEUs, which will further reduce logistics cost and economies of scale.
- The Jawaharlal Nehru Port ranks as the 28th biggest port in the world and is the biggest container port in India. The port manages more than 5.1 million TEUS (Twenty-foot Equivalent units).
IIT Law Amendment Bill 2020
The cabinet in a meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi approved the IIT Law Amendment Bill 2020. According to the bill, 5 IIT institutions have been accorded the status of Institutions of National Importance (INI). These five institutions are IIT Surat, IIT Bhopal, IIT Bhagalpur, IIT Agartala, and IIT Raichur. This award gives these institutions the power to issue the B.Tech, M.Tech and Ph.D. degrees to their students.
- The cabinet also approved ex-post facto to 21 posts of directors, one each in 20 IIITs and one in IIITDM Kurnool (IIIT-CFTI) besides ex-post facto to 21 posts of registrars, one each in 20 IITs (PPP) and one in IIITDM Kurnool (IIT-CFTI).
- This INI approval aims to formalize these five institutions.
This will help the institution to attract enough students to develop a research program in the field of information technology.
- These institutions will now be covered under the IIIT (PPP) Act, 2017, similar to the other 15 IIITs established under the scheme in PPP mode.
Amendment to Bring Cooperative Banks under RBI Regulations gets cabinet nod
On 5th February the cabinet approved the amendments to the Banking Regulations Act which allows all the State Cooperative Banks to come under the umbrella of the RBI, meaning from now on the Reserve Bank of India will regulate them. The amendment is done to increase accountability, bring transparency and prevent any sort of malpractice in the working of these cooperative banks.
- After the cabinet meeting, the news was announced by Shri Prakash Javadkar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
- Now onwards the cooperative banks will follow the same regulations as the scheduled commercial banks.
- The RBI will be the regulatory authority of all these banks.
From now, there will be regular audits conducted in all cooperative banks.
- The RBI will have the top vote in selecting a CEO in these banks.
This move came after the RBI restricted the PMC bank in September last year after the PMC was suspected of some internal irregularities.
Bhutan introduces “Sustainable Development Fee” for regional tourists
Bhutan recently decided to charge a “Sustainable Development Fee” to all its regional tourists. The reason cited behind the decision is ecological disturbances that were faced by Bhutan because of the tourists.
- The law was passed in the lower house of the Bhutanese Parliament and will be in effect from July 2020.
- According to this law, tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives will be paying a certain fee to stay in Bhutan. The amount has been decided as 1200 Bhutanese Ngultrum which is equivalent to 17 USD.
- Since Bhutan received around 2, 00,000 regional tourists in the last year the local government thought that it could become the next popular tourist destination in the coming years and this can seriously hurt the environment of the country.
- Earlier no regional country was made to pay the sustainable development fee.
- Bhutan charged 65% of this fee coupled with 40USD on visa charges to foreign tourists.
- This fee will act as another form of revenue for the local government. It is said Bhutan earned 26 million USD last year only from charging the Sustainable Development Fee.
- It is a part of their “High Value, Low Impact” policy.
Jaipur gets World Heritage Certificate from UNESCO
The Pink City of Rajasthan, Jaipur will formally be called a World Heritage City now. At the Albert Hall, Audrey Azoulay the Director-General of UNESCO presented the Urban Development and Housing Minister Mr. Shanti Dhariwal the certificate of World Heritage.
- The UNESCO team visited all of the important landmarks in Jaipur like the Diwan-i-khas, Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-i-aam and the famous Amer Fort and got to see a glimpse of the rich culture and royal heritage of Rajasthan.
- The certificate was presented due to the efforts of the people of Jaipur to preserve their cultural heritage’ Parkota has been listed as a World Heritage Site.
- This UNESCO project entails 10 cities of Rajasthan including Jaipur, Barmer, Bikaner, and Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
- The certificate is given on a total of 10 criteria and Jaipur upheld its reputation in all of them.
- The certificate will increase international tourism for the entire Rajasthan substantially which in turn will increase the employment opportunities and boost the handicraft and handloom industry.
- The proposal to get the certificate was sent in august 2018 and deserving so because Rajasthan has a total of 37 heritage sites.
- These heritage sites need to be protected and maintained carefully for our future generations to feel proud upon.
Top Current Affairs for 5th February 2020
KALA GHODA ART FESTIVAL
The Kala Ghoda Art Festival is a very vibrant event held in Mumbai. It is named after the famous South Mumbai area Kala Ghoda where it is held annually. It started in the year 1999 and has captivated the heart of every art lover because here they can see an ocean of creativity and imagination in the field of children’s literature, cinema, dance, food and heritage, urban design and architecture, literature, and music.
It is an event which runs for nine days, and this year it will take place from 1st February to 9th February.
- It is always organized in February and has a different theme every year.
- It always starts on the first Saturday of February and ends on the second Sunday of February.
- This year there will be a tribute dedicated to Mr Girish Karnad and will showcase the introduction to the plays of Arshia Sattar and Padmavathi Rao.
- Kala Ghoda Association organizes this festival.
- Many prominent artists have performed at this festival.
National Register of Citizens : HIGHLIGHTS
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register containing the names of all the genuine citizens of India. A genuine citizen being the one who lasts all the proof stating that he/she is the citizen of the Republic of India. It came into power after the central government decided to impose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India.
- Soon after this, we saw a countrywide protest against the CAA starting with Assam. Assam in 2013 filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court of India to exclude all the illegal immigrants from their voter list, and it was finally passed in 2014.
- Since CAA gave Indian citizenship to selected minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, this came into direct conflict with the NRC in Assam; hence protests erupted.
- NRC is the list of all the legal citizens of India based on demographic information.
- It includes all those people who qualify as citizens according to the Citizenship Act 1955.
- The NRC was active only in Assam, and it has not been updated until recently since its inception in 1955.
- Home Minister Amit Shah declared that NRC would be extended to the entire country.
- The NRC was incepted to target the illegal immigrant but due to the CAA Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh won’t be affected if they prove they came to India fleeing religious persecution.
Recently a deadly cyclone hit Madagascar severely causing continuous massive floods and landslides. It resulted in the loss of countless lives and the displacement of everyone living there. It has been reported that the cyclone has affected around 92000 lives and the number is still rising.
- The President of Madagascar personally requested international mobilization on Twitter.
- India quickly responding to Madagascar’s distress ordered the INS Airavat to set sail towards Madagascar and provide any assistance required by them. It was expected to reach Madagascar on 30th January.
- The INS Airavat deployed for a mission was diverted from its mission to help the people of Madagascar.
- This Assistance by the Indian Navy is in line with the Indian Navy’s Foreign Corporation and also the PM’s vision of SAGAR.
- India and Madagascar signed a defence cooperation agreement of inter-governmental organization Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) when President Ram Nath Kovind visited Madagascar in March 2018.
Natural Gas Reserves Discovered in UAE
On 3rd February 2020, the United Arab Emirates announced the discovery of a natural gas reserve. The discovery contains 80 trillion standard cubic feet of gas lying between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The discovery of the New Jebel Ali shallow gas field will enable the UAE to attain self-sufficiency in gas utilization and become more energy independent.
- Discovery of New Jebel Ali shallow gas reserve takes UAE a step closer to become energy independent.
- UAE aims to increase gas production to a substantial level to become a net exporter of gas and increase its oil output capacity to four million BPD in 2020 and five million BPD by 2030.
- The shallow gas reserve is found near to the surface but needs advanced technologies for production.
- The UAE currently imports natural gas from Qatar.
- The discovery was made due to the agreement signed between ADNOC and the Dubai Supply Authority to explore and develop the gas reserves in the UAE.
- Currently, Abu Dhabi has the world’s sixth-largest crude reserve with 105 trillion barrels.
- The UAE, on the whole, has total gas reserves of 273 trillion cubic feet and 160 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas.
World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is celebrated universally on 4th February every year by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to raise awareness about cancer. It’s a day dedicated to aware people about one of the most dangerous diseases in the world and the goal is to alert people of the detection of the disease and hopefully prevention from it.
- The theme for World Cancer Day 2020 is “I Am, and I Will” which means every single person has the power to face cancer and beat it.
Since the grip of cancer is strengthening day by day, this time the UICC urgently asks every individual, whether a patient or not, to personally commit to this campaign and show what a single individual can do to beat cancer.
- Their actions, big or small can help shape a better tomorrow and hopefully create a snowball effect so big that it will eventually eradicate cancer.
- This campaign was first started on 4th February 2000 and this year marks the 20th Anniversary of this noble initiative.
- Dr. David Kayat, Peter Harper, James F. Holland, Gabriel N. Horobagyi, Lawrence H. Einhorn and Sandra Swain drafted a Charter stating the urgency of addressing the impact of cancer on “human life, human suffering and on the productivity of nations”
- The goal of World Cancer Day 2020 is to reduce the premature deaths caused by cancer and NCDs to a substantial number by 2030.
- Many activities, workshops, and campaigns are held on this day all over the world by many schools, organizations, individuals and social groups to create awareness about cancer.
- The theme “I Am and I Will” is set for three years (2019 – 2021).
Udayanotsav at Rashtrapati Bhawan
Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India inaugurated this year’s annual Udyanotsav at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Udyanotsav marks the opening of the Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the general public. The viewing of the Mughal Gardens will be held from 5th February till 8th March from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
- The general public enjoys the beautiful montage of various exotic flowers at the country’s most prestigious residence.
- These flowers include many bulbous flowers, with its main attraction being the gorgeous Tulips.
- The garden has around 10,000 Tulips of different colors like red, white, orange, and yellow. These flowers are cultivated at the Rashtrapati Bhavan rather than being imported.
- This year the flowers will be laid down in the central lawn in many designs showcasing the creativity of the gardeners.
- The Entry is from Gate No. 35 of the Bhavan.
- Both Walk-Ins and advance online booking can be made by visiting Rashtrapati Bhavan’s website.
- The Gardens will be closed on Mondays due to maintenance works.
Top Current Affairs for 4th February 2020
Ujh Multipurpose (National) Project:
Ujh Multipurpose (National) Project is a national project on Ujh River, a tributary of river Ravi. This project aims to benefit Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of erstwhile state J&K in terms of irrigation, drinking water, and power supply.
- The Ujh project saw a lot of detailed reports, revisions on these reports and changes in state government in the past. Presently, and finally, the project sees a definite and fruitful end as it has been brought under the National project.
- The project aims at generating 212 MW of power and irrigating 31380 hectares of arid land.
The project, initially, had a provision of irrigating 16,000 hectares. But after revision, it has a provision of irrigating another 15,000 hectares.
- The project also had initially planned to generate 187 MW power which is now revised to 212MW power.
- This project will also increase the production of 310 million units of electricity annually.
- The project also includes the construction of a dam on the confluence of Panjtirthi of drains like Dariya Ujh, Bhini, Naz, Sutar, Talain, etc.
- With a maximum water level set at 609m, the reservoir would be ready in an area of 34.50 sq km.
- The cost of the project is Rs. 5850 crores. A detailed study has been conducted for laying the foundation including a seismic study, carried out by the Geological wing of IIT Roorkee.
- Reports say that the laying of the foundation stone was deferred to prevent wastewater flowing towards Pakistan.
Update on the SFURTI scheme
SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) was launched in 2005 by the Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Govt. of India. This scheme aimed at promoting traditional industries and artisans into clusters. An updated developmental plan was presented in the House by the ministry on 3rd Feb 2020.
- Under the SFURTI scheme production of Khadi industries and artisans is promoted.
- The scheme also promotes and implements the scheme for rural industries Service Centre (RISC).
- The scheme for Product Development, Design Intervention and Packaging is also implemented under the wings of SFURTI.
- The scheme has been allotted a total amount of Rs. 2.3 crores under the budget 2020.
- Plans to develop clusters of traditional industries for a period of 5 years.
- Plans to strengthen the active participation of local stakeholders.
- Plans to make traditional industries more competitive.
- Plans to build market intelligence, advanced processes, traditional skills and cluster-based regenerated traditional industries.
- For the year 2020-2021, the clusters will focus on silk, handicrafts, cane products and bamboo.
Portal “Santusht” (Hindi word for satisfied) is an Implementation Monitoring Cell which has been launched by the Ministry of Labour in January 2020.
- The Portal aims at addressing delivery, transparency, and accountability of public services, schemes, and policies at the grass-mysqladmin level.
- It also aims at speedy redressal of employees’ and employers’ grievances.
- Initially, the portal is launched to monitor all the services provided by the retirement fund body and health insurance and service provider like Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) to formal sector workers.
- There are plans to expand the portal to cover all the wings of the Ministry.
- The portal has been designed to assess the performance of the officials. This comes handy at the time of the employee’s appraisals, transfers, and postings.
- The main motive of the portal, by the Ministry of Labour, is to ensure transparency, accountability and effective implementation of labor laws.
Removal of DDT will boost investments: CBDT
Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) is levied on companies for more efficient dividend tax collection. Currently, no other country around the globe has a DDT regime. Though India also scrapped the law in 2002, it was brought back in the very next year on the pretext of ease of tax administration.
- Task Force presented the recommendation on direct tax code (DTC) to abolish dividend distribution tax (DDT) with a view in promoting investment.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget 2020, also proposed to remove the DDT.
- Removal of the surrogate tax will ease the flow of foreign direct investments.
- This will also encourage people in lower tax bracket to invest in the capital market.
- The government feels that the proposal would make more investors look at debt mutual fund products as well since under the prevailing framework, the effective DDT on such products was between 38% and 50%.
- It will also ensure a boost in market sentiments and help in making Indian equities more attractive.
- Presently, Domestic companies are subject to DDT at 15 percent of the aggregate dividend declared, distributed or paid. As a 12 percent surcharge and 3 percent education cess is also included in it, the effective DDT rate comes to 20.35 percent.
- According to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), “Single rate of taxation is always iniquitous as it favors taxpayers who are in higher tax brackets and works against those who are in lower tax brackets”.
- CBDT also resonates with the proposal to remove DDT and adds that DDT was a case of reverse subsidy from the poor to rich taxpayers. Further, higher tax rates were there for the non-residents than the treaty rate with the possibility of no tax credit in the home country.
- CBDT believes that taxpayers would benefit as the tax to be paid by them on their dividend income would be less than what they were earlier paying indirectly through it.
Haryana’s Harappan site to create jobs
In the Union Budget presented on 1st Feb 2020, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister of India announced to develop the Harappan site at Hisar’s Rakhigarhi village, as an iconic site and set up a national museum.
- Rakhigarhi is Spread across 500 hectares and is the largest Harappan site in the Indian subcontinent.
- According to local leaders, this announcement will put Rakhigarhi on the international map.
- This initiative would also put an end to the destruction of the site and also help showcase our rich cultural heritage to the world.
- The connectivity of the region with the Capital will also improve with this development.
- Besides Rakhigarhi, Shivsagar in Assam, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu will also be developed as iconic sites with national museums.
Rakhigarhi is among the largest sites of the Harappan civilization. The main aim behind the excavation of this area was to trace its beginnings and to study its evolution from 6000 BCE to 2500 BCE. Another aim was to protect it from encroachment by the locals.
Nagardhan excavation: Vakataka dynasty
At Nagardhan in Ramtek taluka a 1,500-year-old sealing was excavated for the first time which has given evidence about life, trade and religious practices of the Vakataka dynasty. Vakataka dynasties were the rulers of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries. A recent study in Numismatic Digest has tried to understand the Vakataka rule under Queen Prabhavatigupta.
- Nagardhan is situated about 6 km south of Ramtek taluka headquarters and is a village in Nagpur district.
- Archaeological remains were traced on a surface spread over a 1 km × 1.5 km area in this village
- During 2015-2018 the site was excavated by the researchers.
- A clay sealings have been excavated from Nagardhan for the first time. The oval-shaped sealing is of the time when queen Prabhavatigupta was ruling the Vakataka dynasty.
- Her name is engraved in the sealing in the Brahmi script. Depiction of a conch is also there along with the name.
- The sealing weighs 6.40-gram and is 1,500 years old. Its dimensions are 35.71 mm by 24.20 mm, and has a thickness of 9.50mm.
- According to scholars, the presence of the conch is an indication of the Vaishnava affiliation of the Guptas.
- The sealing was found on top of a mega wall that researchers think is a part of a royal structure at the capital city of the kingdom. So far, no archaeological evidence has emerged about the types of houses or palatial structures of the Vakataka people or rulers.
- Prior to this the results from the excavations here had traced evidence in the form of ceramics, antiquities, bowls and pots, ear studs of glass, a votive tank and shrine, an iron chisel, a stone depicting a deer, and terracotta bangles.
- Some terracotta objects even project animals and humans, images of gods, along with amulets, wheels, scotches, skin rubbers and spindle whorls.
- An idol of Lord Ganesha, which had no ornaments was also executed from the location.
Top Current Affairs for 3rd February 2020
Matla Abhiyan by Indian Navy
A unique coastal security exercise named Malta Abhiyan was recently conducted by the Indian Navy in Kolkata. The aim of the exercise was to create awareness about coastal security to the local community.
- The exercise started on 29th January 2020.
- The unique and first of its kind exercise Coastal Security Exercise, Malta Abhiyan was carried out in Sundarbans region.
- Two naval boats were flagged off the Sundarbans till Hemnagar along the International Trade Protocol route between Bangladesh and India by Commodore Suprobho K De, naval officer-in-charge West Bengal.
- The boat returned to Kolkata on 3rd February 2020.
- All along the route, the Naval officer generated awareness to the local community.
- This route was chosen by the Indian Navy because it is highly sensitive as deadly equipment can be dropped off here easily.
- The Sunderbans covers over 10,000 square kilometres in India and 6,017 square kilometres in Bangladesh and is a Mangrove Delta Forest formed at the confluence of Brahmaputra, Ganga and Meghna rivers.
- The Delta is vulnerable for its vastness and complexities.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites has four Sunderbans protected areas in their list. They are Sundarbans National Park, Sundarbans South, Sunderbans West and Sunderbans East.
Mohammed Allawi appointed the PM of Iraq
Mohammed Allawi, one of the former communications ministers of Iraq, on February 01, 2020, was appointed the Prime Minister of the country by the President of Iraq, Barham Salih.
- Allawi was communication minister of Iraq between 2006-07 and 2010-12. In both his terms he resigned due to political reasons. He was famous for his strict actions against bribery.
- Controversial rule of imposing 30% of the contract signed as fine if the company’s bribing charges were proved was created by him. Also, the company would be blacklisted.
- Iraq has been ranked as the most corrupt governments in the world for 16 consecutive years.
- Allawi has been appointed the Prime Minister of Iraq in mid of long protests that have so far claimed the life of 600 people in the country.
- The protest has been given names like Tishreen Revolution or October Revolution or Iraqi Intifada.
- The protest first started in October 2019 in social media by civil activists. It soon spread to the northern and southern provinces of the country. The protests were against the 16 years of corruption in the country. It also aimed to stop Iranian intervention in Iraq.
Pakistan declares a national emergency to battle locusts
A national emergency has been declared in Pakistan to battle locusts. The desert locust is destroying crops on a large scale in the Sindh area of Pakistan.
- In a meeting chaired by Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan this decision was taken.
- Rs 7.3 billion national action plan (NAP) was approved by four provinces of the country to overcome the crisis.
- Different tasks have been given to the provincial disaster management authorities and federal and provincial departments to deal with the threat.
- A high-level committee will be formed which will be headed by Khusro Bakhtiar to take decisions for the elimination of locust swarms.
- Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to take immediate measures on the basis of damage of ripened crops.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla has been appointed as the new Foreign Secretary
Harsh Vardhan Shringla, a 1984-batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service has been appointed as the new foreign secretary on 29th January 2020.
- Prior to this appointment he was working as India’s envoy to the US.
- He has been appointed as foreign secretary for a fixed two-year term.
- He will be succeeding Vijay Gokhale.
- He has been appointed on this post on a crucial time when India is facing a lot of foreign policy challenges including criticism by some countries and global institutions of the new citizenship law.
- Shringla is an expert on India’s neighbourhood.
- He has been a High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh and Ambassador of India to Thailand.
- He also served as Joint Secretary looking after India’s ties with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives.
- The United Nations Political and SAARC divisions in the ministry have also been headed by him.
Yada Yada Virus
Australian Scientists have detected a novel virus in Australian mosquitoes. The virus has been named the Yada Yada virus (YYV). According to the Cambridge dictionary, Yada Yada means boring speech or something not so important.
- Microbiology Resource Announcement’s American Society for Microbiology journal published the scientists’ findings.
- According to Jana Batovska, the virus was named after Seinfeld.
- Discovery of the virus was made when the scientists extracted RNA from a large number of mosquitoes in Australia’s Victoria state.
- This new alphavirus belongs to a group of chikungunya virus and the astern equine encephalitis.
- Yada Yada virus poses no threat to human beings because it is a part of a group of viruses that only infect mosquitoes.
- According to the authors, YYV’s discovery expands the “diversity and geographic range” of mosquito-specific alphavirus complexes, which may help in revealing the origin of the virus and “host switching”.
Top Current Affairs for 1st & 2nd February 2020
World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day is observed annually on 2nd February all over the world. This day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.
- The global theme for World Wetlands Day 2020 is ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.
- This day was first observed in 1997.
- On this day government agencies, NGO’s and community groups celebrate World Wetlands Day by raising public awareness about the importance of wetland and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
- Seminars, nature walks, festivals, the announcement of new Ramsar sites, newspaper articles, radio interviews and wetland rehabilitation are used for spreading awareness about wetlands.
- Wetlands contribute to clean water, water supply, ecosystem resilience, carbon storage, storm protection, health and well-being and tourism.
- It is through wetlands that important ecological processes are carried out.
- This year Ramsar Convention Secretariat has developed several downloadable World Wetlands Day materials for 2020, including posters, infographics, PowerPoint presentation, fact sheets and a t-shirt logo.
DRDO to set up technology centre at Gujarat University
Defence Research and Development Organisation is planning to establish a centre for advanced defence technology at CERI (Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Centre for Extension and Research and Innovation) which is being constructed in the Gujarat University premises.
- G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of DRDO made this announcement at the 68th convocation ceremony of Gujarat University.
- The space for the DRDO centre will be provided free of cost by the Gujarat University.
- At the 68th convocation ceremony of the University, 45,294 students were awarded with the degree.
- 257 students were bestowed with gold medals and 34 students received special awards.
- DRDO is headquartered in New Delhi and is an agency of the Central Government of India charged with military’s research and development.
Samvidhaan: Oxford’s Hindi Word Of The Year 2019
Oxford University Press recently named “Samvidhaan” (Constitution) the Oxford Hindi Word of 2019. The reason behind this was that this word received widespread attention in the year 2019 and has become a symbol to the spirit of the Indian Constitution being embraced across segments of the society.
- According to the Oxford University Press, the word “SAMVIDHAAN” in 2019 saw the values of secularism, democracy, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity being tested on the touchstone of the Constitution or “Samvidhaan”.
- This word reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the year 2019.
- The meaning of word ”Samvidhaan” is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organisation is acknowledged to be governed.
- With the abrogation – Article 370 and Article 35(A) of the Indian Constitution, on August 5, 2019, which effectively removed the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, is when the word “Samvidhaan” first received widespread attention.
- Some major decisions by the Supreme Court like the floor test in Maharashtra, upholding of the order of the former Speaker of the Karnataka legislative assembly disqualifying 17 MLAs under the anti-defection law and the Sabarimala verdict also significantly contributed to the term’s prominence in 2019:
- Oxford Hindi Word of the Year entries was invited by the Oxford dictionaries team through its Facebook page.
- Oxford Dictionaries team in India along with an advisory panel of language experts choose the Oxford Hindi Word of the Year.
Living robots: Xenobots
Scientists have successfully produced the world’s first “living robots. This is a remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology.
- A research team of roboticists and scientists recently published their process of creating a new lifeform called xenobots from stem cells of a frog.
- Xenobots are around 1mm long and are made up of 500-1000 living cells.
- They can be created in different shapes.
- They can live alive for 10 days and can move in a linear or circular direction. To work together they also have the ability to join together.
- A supercomputer programmed with an AI “evolutionary algorithm” was used by researchers to test random designs of simple living things that could perform various tasks. The main aim of these tests was to know which organisms would likely perform useful tasks, such as moving towards a target.
- The scientists after the selection of the most promising designs replicated the virtual models with frog skin or heart cells by manually joining them using microsurgery tools. The contraction and relaxation of heart cells in these bespoke assemblies helped them in moving.
- Though they are known as “programmable living robots,” they are actually made of living tissue. The term “robot” here denotes xenobots can be configured into various shapes and forms and can be “programmed” to perform various tasks.
- Another special feature of these Xenobots is they can repair themselves after being damaged.
Nepal created a Guinness World Record for the highest altitude fashion show event
A new Guinness World Record has been set up by Nepal by conducting the highest altitude fashion show on January 26 2019.
- The Mount Everest Fashion Runway event was organized by RB Diamonds and KASA Style in support of Nepal Tourism Board.
- The event was held at 5340 metres elevation at Kala Patthar, near the Everest base camp.
- Nepal Tourism board under its campaign Visit Nepal Year 2020 organized this event.
- Models from Finland, Italy, Sri Lanka and Singapore, participated in the fashion show.
- The main aim of the fashion show was to spread awareness about climate change as well as to promote sustainable fashion.
- The patterns, designs, and the materials used during the Fashion show were all-natural, organic and all Nepali product line from KASA.
- Nepali Pashmina, Felt and Yak Wool, ideal for winter wear were used to create the clothing line of the fashion show.
- Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Kedar Bahadur Adhikari and senior director of Nepal Tourism Board, Nandini Lahe Thapa and other dignitaries of Nepal attended the event.
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