Current Affairs January 2020: General Awareness Section can be 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 current affairs for at least a few minutes on a daily basis. Current affairs are vastly diversified with topics from politics, finance, sports, etc and getting lost in this vastness might be confusing sometimes. It is essential for the candidates who are preparing for competitive exams to know what topics to focus on instead of wandering. 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 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.
Current Affairs January 2020 is specifically designed to provide you with the information on top happenings around the world to make sure your limited and precious time is well spent. Whether you are preparing for a written test or an interview of any competitive exam, you have come to the right place to enhance your GK knowledge.
Preparing for the upcoming Banking and other Government exams this new year? Then check out the free Current Affairs Digest 2019 PDF covering the current affairs for the past four months (September to December). This will help you prepare for the General Awareness/ Current Affairs sections with ease.
Current Affairs January 2020
Top Current Affairs for 28th January 2020
Indian Railways to run 100% on electricity by 2024
Piyush Goyal, Railway Minister of India attended the India Brazil business forum on 27 Jan 2020. Addressing the forum he said that the Railways is working on to switch completely to electricity by 2024. Diesel locomotives are slowly being shunted out of service.
- Railways is planning to make the entire railway network a net-zero emission network by 2030.
- He also stated that India will soon grow into a $5 trillion economy.
Young workforce, vibrant and free society with the rule of law, strong judiciary and media, stable government policies and business-friendly environment will help them to achieve this goal.
- The business forum was organized during Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s official India visit from January 26 to 27.
- Brazilian Prime Minister Bolsonaro and other ministers also addressed the forum.
Discussion on India – Brazil tie-up in trade and infrastructure was also done at the forum.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
UNESCO on 27th January every year observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day is observed in memory of the victims of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. The day recalls the genocide by the Nazi regime and its collaborators that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others on 27 January 1945.
- The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
- The day was first observed in November 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly.
- International Holocaust Remembrance Day was an initiative of the State of Israel.
- US President Donald Trump addressed the nation on this occasion.
- NATO also organized a remembrance ceremony and General Mircea Geoana, NATO Deputy Secretary addressed the ceremony.
GoI signed the historic agreement with the nine factions of the NDFB
On January 2, 2020, the Union government inked a peace agreement, with one of the dangerous militant groups in Assam, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). The deal was also signed by the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU).
- Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs said that the Central Government, Assam Government and representatives of Bodo have signed this historic agreement.
- The agreement promises economic and political benefits to the tribal areas without seeking a separate Bodoland state or union territory.
- The tripartite agreement has been signed by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the leadership of four factions of NDFB, Satyendra Garg, Joint Secretary of ABSU, Ministry of Home Affairs and Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Chief Secretary of Assam.
- This agreement will ensure the bright future of the people of Assam as well as the Bodo tribe.
- According to the agreement, 1,550 Bodo members will surrender on January 30, 2020, with 130 weapons.
- In the last 27 years, the government of India has signed three agreements with Bodo tribes.
- In 1993 the first accord was signed between the All Bodo Students Union and the Government of India. Bodoland Autonomous Council with some political powers was created as per the agreement.
In 2003, the second Bodo accord was inked between the Government of India and extremist group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). As a result of this agreement Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts – Chirang, Udalguri, Baska and Kokrajhar was formed.
L V Prabhakar is appointed as the MD and CEO of Canara Bank
L V Prabhakar is appointed as managing director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Canara Bank by the government. He will be taking charge of his new role from 1 February 2020. He will remain at this position till he retires or until further orders.
- The announcement was done on 24th January 2020.
He will replace R A Sankara Narayanan.
- L V Prabhakar is presently the executive director of Punjab National Bank.
- He took the charge as Executive Director of PNB when Nirav Modi fraud came into light. He headed the recovery efforts of the bank and brought the Bank back on an upward path.
- He has also served in Allahabad Bank in various capacities.
Railways commissioned the first waste-to-energy plant
In a big step towards sustainable development and energy-efficiency solutions Indian Railways first waste-to-energy plant has been commissioned in Mancheswar Carriage Repair Workshop at Bhubaneswar. The inauguration of the plant was done on January 22, 2020, by Rajesh Agarwal, Member, Railway Board (Rolling Stock).
- The plant installation cost is Rs 1.79 crore and the maintenance cost is Rs 10.4 lakh per annum.
- In Indian Railway workshops, a big chunk of non-ferrous scrap is generated for which there is no efficient method for disposal and treatment. Therefore, the scrap is sent to landfills, which is not good for the environment. In order to combat this issue, the East Coast Carriage Repair Workshop has come up with an innovative way of solving this problem, with a patented technology known as ‘Polycrack’.
- It is a heterogeneous catalytic process which converts multiple feedstocks into, gas, hydrocarbon liquid fuels, carbon as well as water.
- The waste which will be generated from the carriage workshop, the coaching depot and railway stations at Bhubaneswar will become the feeder material for the waste to energy plant. The energy produced at the plant will be in the form of light diesel oil which will be used to light furnaces.
- The plant is having a capacity of 500 kg per batch and can be fed with – All kinds of existing plastic, Petroleum sludge, 50 percent moisture led un segregated MSW, E-waste, Automobile fluff, Organic waste like bamboo, garden waste, Jatropha fruit and palm bunch.
- The plant has a high tolerance to moisture hence drying of the waste after treatment, is not required.
- The plant will take 24 hours to process and reform the waste.
- There will be no biological decomposition as the waste will be treated in the plant as it is received.
- All the constituents are converted to valuable energy, making it a zero discharge process through the plant.
The gas generated in the process will be reused to provide energy to the system.
Maharashtra government’s Shiv Bhojan scheme
On January 26, 2020, the Maharashtra government launched the ‘Shiv Bhojan’ scheme with an aim to provide meals to the poor and needy at subsidized rates. The scheme is launched on a pilot basis.
- Under the scheme, the meal will be provided to the poor for just Rs 10.
According to the scheme, there will be at least one ‘Shiv Bhojan’ canteen at the district headquarters. The lunch thalis will be available at these designated canteens between 12 pm and 2 pm.
- There will be two chapatis, one vegetable sabzi, rice and dal in the thali.
- 500 thalis will be served per day by each canteen.
- During the pilot project, 50 ‘Shiv Bhojan’ outlets will be set up.
- Later, a phase-wise extension of the outlets will be done depending upon the feedback.
- Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had launched similar schemes named Amma Unavagam and Indira Canteen.
- The first canteen was set up by Tamil Nadu in 2013.
Top Current Affairs for 27th January 2020
Katerina Sakellaropoulou as first female President of Greece
Parliament of Greece elected Katerina Sakellaropoulou as the new President of Greece. She will be the first female President of Greece.
- 63 years old Sakellaropoulou is a human rights advocate and a high court judge with expertise in environmental and constitutional law.
- Out of 300 ministers of conservative party 261 ministers backed her nomination.
- She will succeed in Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whose five-year term expires in March.
- The oath-taking ceremony will be held on 13 March 2020.
- Sakellaropoulou belongs to the northern city of Xanthi.
- She was also the first woman to head the Council of State, Greece’s top administrative court.
- Sakellaropoulou completed her post-graduation from Paris’s Sorbonne University.
- With this appointment, Sakellaropoulou will join the small group of women leading European Union countries.
National Voters Day
On 25th January 2020, 10th National Voters’ Day was observed at over ten lakh locations across India including Polling Stations, District and State headquarters.
- The theme for National Voters Day 2020 was ‘Electoral Literacy for Stronger Democracy’.
- It sets the tone for year-long activities focusing on voter education and renewal of citizens’ faith in the electoral process.
- The Day was first celebrated in 2011 to mark the Foundation day of Election Commission of India, which was established on 25th January 1950.
- Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India addressed the nation on the occasion and thanked the Election Commission of India for its efforts towards making the electoral process more vibrant and participative. This day will inspire every citizen of India to work towards increased voter awareness and turnout.
- Election Commission organized an event at Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi on this occasion.
- President Ram Nath Kovind was the chief guest of the event.
China to launch its Mars probe in 2020
China is planning to launch its Mars probe in July 2020. Long March-5 Y4 carrier rocket will be used to launch the spacecraft.
- China’s space agency, CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation ), will send a probe to orbit around Mars to land and deploy a rover on Mars.
- The last engine test before the final assembly known as a 100-second test has been completed by Long March-5 Y4 rocket which was the last engine test. The test was done for its high thrust hydrogen-oxygen engine.
- The Long March-5 rocket will carry out several missions including the Mars probe launch and the lunar sample return.
- To test the design of the lander China’s experiment simulated the gravity of Mars, about one-third of the gravity on Earth.
- China started the process of a probe hovering and descending to land on Mars in November 2019. The experiment was held on a trial ground, which is the largest one in Asia for test landing on extraterrestrial bodies, in Huailai county, Hebei province.
- The safe landing of Hover on the land of Mars is the biggest challenge for the mission.
- According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the country is now ready for a safe landing on Mars.
International Summit on Women in STEM
The Department of Biotechnology, India on January 25, 2020, held a 2-day International Summit on Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The theme of the event was: Visualizing the Future: New Skylines. The aim of the summit was to increase the participation of women in the STEM field.
- The summit was a platform for students and researchers to meet and communicate with the leaders in the field and to develop innovative ideas and generate a future action plan for making a career in STEM fields.
- There were different sessions held in the summit including mechanisms of leadership building, empowering women through networking, career opportunities and interactive exercises with scientists.
- Real examples of successful women scientists, doctors, and engineers were showcased in the summit.
- Perks of being in the STEM fields were also shared with students.
- Discussions were also held on the importance of women’s employment and career progression.
- Renowned women scientists in STEM from India and different countries shared their views and ideas.
- The conference witnessed around 350 participants including scientists, socialists, entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers, and students, from different STEM fields across the globe.
PADMA AWARDS 2020
On the occasion of 71st Republic Day 141, Padma Awards were announced by the Government of India.
- This year the President has approved conferment of 141 Padma Awards including 4 duo cases (in this the Award is counted as one). This year 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhushan and 118 Padma Shri Awards will be awarded. 33 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 18 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI and 12 Posthumous awardees.
- Manohar Parrikar, George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Mr. Syed Muazzem Ali, former High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India are political leaders to be awarded Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
- Anerood Jugnauth, Former PM of Mauritius, Boxer MC Mary Kom, Chhannulal Mishra, Hindustani classical vocalist are also to be awarded the prestigious award.
Padma Awards are presented in three categories namely Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan and are one of the highest civilian honors of India. The recommendations for these awards are made by the Padma Awards Committee. The Prime Minister constitutes this committee.
Top Current Affairs for 25th & 26th January 2020
RBI raises short-term FPI debt investment limit to 30% from 20% to boost inflows
The Reserve Bank of India has hiked the short-term investments by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from 20 percent to 30 percent of the total FPI investment in Central government securities which includes Treasury Bills or state development loans. According to RBI, this could lead to higher foreign inflows.
- RBI has also exempted FPI (foreign portfolio investors) debt investments in corporates undergoing an insolvency resolution plan to give a leg-up to bankruptcy proceedings.
- The FPI in corporate bonds has also been increased by the central bank from 20 percent to 30 percent.
- FPI investments in Security Receipts are presently exempted from the short-term investment limit and the issue limit.
- The RBI, under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process as per the resolution plan approved by the National Company Law Tribunal under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, has exempted debt instruments issued by Asset Reconstruction Companies and by an entity.
- As per the present rules, short-term investments by an FPI should not exceed 20 percent of the total investment of that FPI in either central government securities or state development loans.
- The debt market in January 2020 has witnessed an outflow of Rs 11,917 crore. In December 2019 outflow was of Rs 4,616 crore and in November 2019 it was Rs 2,358 crore.
- While the total equity investment in the calendar year 2019 was Rs 101,122 crore, the debt market could attract only Rs 25,882 crore.
- Despite a host of measures by the government and the regulators, India’s corporate bond market has remained shallow.
- There is little or no incentive for market making. A majority of the bonds issued by organizations are privately placed with a select set of investors in India rather than through a public issue to save time and avoid greater disclosures.
NITI Aayog released National Data and Analytics Platform
NITI Aayog released its vision for the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP) on 23rd January 2020. The aim of the platform is to democratize access to publicly available government data. It will have the latest datasets from various government websites, present them coherently, and provide tools for analytics and visualization. National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP) will follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders.
- NDAP (National Data and Analytics Platform) will spearhead the standardization of formats in which data is presented across sectors and will cater to a wide audience of policymakers, researchers, innovators, data scientists, journalists, and citizens.
- Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, in the presence of Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, senior officials from various ministries and state governments, academics and researchers released the vision document.
- Senior Adviser Anna Roy is leading this initiative within NITI Aayog.
- Through NDAP two main gaps are to be addressed. First, all datasets are not published in a user-centric manner that is analyzable and visually presented. Second, there is a multitude of datasets out there that are not easily accessible.
- The NDAP proposes a simple, visual, interactive, and robust platform that will host various Central and state government datasets.
- An inter-ministerial committee will oversee the progress of the development of the platform and a group of leading experts has been inducted into an advisory group to provide technical guidance for the development of the platform. The success of the initiative will depend on the cooperation and support of various stakeholders.
- The first version of the NDPA is expected to be launched in 2021.
- The process will follow a user-centric approach and will include feedback received from various stakeholders throughout the course of its development.
International Labour Organization Report, 2020
The World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 (WESO) report was released on 21st January 2020 by the UN’s International Labour Organization. According to the report, for the last nine years, global unemployment has been roughly stable but due to the slow down in global economic growth the global labor force is increasing but enough new jobs are not being generated to absorb new entrants to the labor market.
- According to the report, global unemployment is estimated to go up by around 2.5 million in 2020.
- The report also states that almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work.
- The International Labour Organization is a UN agency whose aim is to provide social justice and promote decent work by setting international labor standards.
- According to the International Labour Organization, Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from finding decent work and better futures.
- Around 188 million people are unemployed around the world, 165 million people do not have enough paid work, and 120 million have either given up actively searching for work or otherwise lack access to the labor market. In total, more than 470 million people all over the world are affected.
- Around 267 million young people between the age of 15-24 are not in employment, education or training, and many more endure substandard working conditions.
- The ILO report states that severe working poverty is expected to come up in 2020-21 in developing economies, increasing the obstacles to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 of eradicating poverty around the globe by 2030.
- Inequalities related to age, gender, and geographical location continue are affecting the job market by limiting both individual opportunity and economic growth.
Ghana to replicate the Ujjwala model of LPG connection
Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) of Ghana signed an MoU to expand the country’s Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) network. Indian Oil will provide assistance and share its technical expertise to implement the National LPG Promotion Policy of Ghana with the Petroleum authorities of the African country.
- Ghana wants to replicate India’s successful Ujjwala model of giving out cooking gas (LPG) connections to the needy,
- L K S Chauhan, Chief General Manager (LPG Operations), IOC and Alhassan Sulemana Tampuli, Chief Executive, National Petroleum Authority (NPA) of Ghana signed the MoU in presence of Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Michael Aaron.
- Ghana has an LPG coverage of just 23 percent and people have to stand in line at petrol stations with cylinders to get a refill.
- Ghana wants to copy the Indian model of setting up bottling plants where LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) can be filled in cylinders and then transported to dealers who can deliver them at customer doorstep. The aim behind this move is to expand the coverage to cover at least 50 percent of the population.
- As per the MoU, the Indian Oil Corporation will help the NPA on the successful implementation of the Re-circulation Model of LPG.
- IOC will also support NPA in the development of health, safety, security, and environment (HSSE) standards as well as design licensing, permit and legal framework. It will also extend a helping hand to NPA in developing economies for the LPG bottling plant, pricing structure, and communication strategy.
- The company “will also assist in areas of infrastructure development for the new LPG value chain, support for upgrading capacities of institutions along with policy development and review.
About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana on 1 May 2016 to distribute 50 million LPG connections to women of BPL families.
- ₹800 billion budget was allocated for the scheme.
- Around 8 crore free cooking gas connections were given to poor women in three years under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
Republic Day 2020
India on 26th January 2020 celebrated its 71st Republic Day. Various programmes were held all over the country to celebrate the occasion.
- Military power and cultural diversity were displayed during the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi.
- A flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets and the newly acquired Apache helicopters also enthralled the audience during the Parade.
- Daredevil acts were displayed by all-women bikers contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- The national flag was unfurled by President of India Ram Nath Kovind, which was followed by the National Anthem and 21-gun salute at Rajpath.
- Brazil President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebration.
- Padma Awards were also announced by GoI on this occasion.
About Republic Day
Republic Day in India is celebrated to honor the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950. The Government of India Act was replaced as the governing document of India and thus, turning the nation into a newly formed republic.
Top Current Affairs for 24th January 2020
International Day of Education
24 January is observed as International day of Education all over the world. The United Nations General Assembly announced this day to celebrate the role of education for peace and development.
The theme for the year is: “Learning for People, the Planet, Prosperity, and Peace”.
- This is the second International Day of Education.
- The 2020 celebration will put learning and education as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirms the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good.
- An online tool will also be launched to measure progress in education around the world.
- UNESCO will also hold the first meeting of eminent global thinkers appointed to steer UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative.
History of International Day of Education
- The United Nations General Assembly on December 3rd, 2018 passed a resolution to celebrate the role of education in development. The International Day of Education was then first celebrated on 24 January 2019.
ICCW National Bravery Award
Indian Council for Child Welfare National Bravery Award 2019 will be awarded to 10 girls and 12 boys on 25th January 2020. President Ram Nath Kovind will present these awards to the gallant children.
- Muhammad Muhsin a brave boy from Kozhikode saved his three friends from drowning in the sea in April 2019 but lost his own life will be awarded the Abhimanyu award posthumously.
- Other awardees are Adithya K, Alaika,Mudasir Ashraf, Venkatesh, Kamal Krishna Das, Sartaj Mohidin Mugal, Gita Siddhartha, Situmoni Das, Everbloom K Nongrum, Lourembam Yaikhomba Mangang, Muhhamed Muhsin EC, Purnima Giri, Sabita Giri, Kanti Paikra, Bharneshwari Nirmalkar, Aarti Kiran Shet, Zen Sadavarte, Akash Machindra Khillare, Lalliansanga, Carolyn Malsawmtluangi, Vanlalhriatrenga.
Indian Council for Child Welfare Award
Indian Council for Child Welfare instituted the Indian Council for Child Welfare Award in 1957. The award honors brave children who perform outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service.
ECI to host 10th Annual Meeting of FEMBoSA
The 10th annual meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBoSA) is being hosted by the ECI (Election Commission of India) in New Delhi on January 24, 2020. It will also take over as chair of FEMBoSA for 2020.
- An International Conference on ‘Strengthening Institutional Capacity’ will also be organized on January 24. Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan Mauritius, Tunisia, and three International Organisations that are, the Association of World Election Bodies based in Seoul, Republic of Korea, the US-based International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and International IDEA will participate in the conference.
- The conference will be divided into three sessions where representatives from the International Organisations and EMBs will share their best practices, experiences, and initiatives that are taken towards ‘Strengthening Institutional Capacity’ of EMBs in various countries.
- The January 2020 issue of the ECI’s quarterly magazine ‘Voice International’ will also be released,
- At the FEMBoSA meeting, the discussion will be held of the activities undertaken by the members during the year 2019 and a work plan for its members for the year 2020 will be finalized.
- Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of election management with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan which was first signed in April 2008 and expired in April 2013 will be renewed by the Election Commission of India.
History of FEMBoSA
- At the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies(EMBs)of SAARC Countries held at New Delhi from April 30 to May 2, 2012, FEMBoSA was established, through a unanimously adopted resolution on May 1, 2012, to establish the Forum.
- The 9th annual meeting of FEMBoSA was held in September 2018 at Dhaka, Sri Lanka.
- EMBs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are other members of FEMBoSA.
Punjab bans Autos older than 15 years
The Punjab Government on 22nd January 2020 announced a ban on three-wheelers that are older than 15 years and run on fossil fuel. Electric or compressed natural gas (CNG) engine autos will replace these Autos.
- The decision was made due to a large number of autos that are more than 15 years old which are operating in the state.
- Registration of new diesel/petrol Autos were already banned by Punjab Pollution Control Board in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, and Mohali districts.
- The ban on three-wheelers in Patiala and Bathinda districts is underway.
- In all major cities of Punjab the CNG, supply stations have been set up.
- Punjab Police have been empowered to remove the old autos.
India has achieved the complete phase-out of ozone-depleting HCFC
India has successfully achieved the complete phase-out of one of the most potent ozone-depleting chemical Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, which is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises. Hydrochlorofluorocarbon(HCFC)-141 b is used primarily as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.
- India is among the few countries globally who have adopted technologies, which are non-Ozone Depleting and have a low Global Warming Potential.
- On 31 December 2019, as part of the Government’s commitment for moving towards environmentally friendly technologies, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) brought out a notification in the Gazette of India through which the issuance of import license for HCFC-141b is banned from 1st January 2020 under Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- HCFC-141b was not produced in the country and all the domestic requirements were met through imports. With this notification, banning the import of HCFC-141 b, India has completely phased out the important ozone-depleting chemical. Simultaneously, the use of HCFC-141 b by the foam manufacturing industry has also been closed as on 1st January 2020 under the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2014.
- The phase-out of HCFC-141b from the country has twin environmental benefits viz. (i) assisting the healing of the stratospheric ozone layer, and (ii) towards the climate change mitigation due to transitioning of foam manufacturing enterprises at this scale under HPMP to low global warming potential alternative technologies.
The Defence Acquisition Council approved the Procurement of defence equipment
With an aim to promote indigenization, the Defence Acquisition Council has recently approved the procurement of various defence equipment worth over Rs 5,000 crore from several indigenous sources. Rajnath Singh, defence minister of India chaired the meeting.
- The Defence Acquisition Council is the highest decision making body for defence equipment purchase.
- Shortlisting of Indian Strategic Partners (SP) was also done by DAC.
- The Indian Army will purchase sophisticated Electronic Warfare Systems (EWS) designed by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
- All the electronic warfare systems will be purchased by the Ministry of Defence from the Indian industry only.
- Prototype testing of trawl designed by DRDO for T-90 and T-72 tanks was also approved by the DAC.
- Approval was also given to the addition of Innovations for Defence Excellence in the Defence Procurement Procedure.
- The Defence Acquisition Council, established in 2001 takes decisions for all three services – Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Top Current Affairs for 23rd January 2020
Direct tax collections fall 5% till Jan 15
Till January 15, 2020, the Direct tax collections were Rs 7.3 lakh crore which is 5.2 percent down from the year-ago period. The collection is further impacted by a slow down in the economy which is expected to grow 5 percent this financial year.
- Gross direct tax collections before devolution to states, but after refunds for FY20 is budgeted to grow at 17.4 percent to Rs 13.35 lakh crore.
- The total tax revenue net shortfall for the current fiscal will be of Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
- The government may try to boost collections in the March quarter by implementing an amnesty dispute resolution scheme for direct taxes. This would be similar to the one implemented for indirect taxes.
- Personal income tax collection growth was budgeted 23.3 percent but it grew 6.5 percent till January 15.
- In November 2019, the growth in taxes paid by corporations contracted by about 1 percent from last year.
- Total direct tax collection in November 2019, however, grew 1.6 percent due to personal income tax contribution.
- Another reason for low growth is the release of a high number of refunds in the first eight months of FY20 against the last year.
- The Income Tax Department till November 28 has processed refunds worth Rs 1.46 lakh crore, which is 23 percent higher than the last year.
ISRO’s half-humanoid will go to space before astronauts
ISRO on 23 January 2020 introduced a half-humanoid named Vyommitra at an international conference on ‘Human Spaceflight and Exploration’ at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Bengaluru. Vyommitra is the prototype of the half-humanoid, made for the first unmanned Gaganyaan mission.
- The artificial intelligence-based robotic system is being developed at robotics lab, VSSC in Thiruvananthapuram for an unmanned flight of ISRO’s GSLV III rocket in December 2020, which, along with a second unmanned flight in July 2021, will serve as the test of ISRO’s preparedness for its maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan, being targeted for 2022 to mark 75 years of India’s independence.
- Vyom Mitra, equipped with a head, two arms, and a torso, is built to “mimic crew activity inside the crew module of Gaganyaan.
- Once it is fully developed, Vyommitra will be able to use the equipment onboard the spacecraft’s crew module, like safety mechanisms and switches, as well as receive and act on commands sent from ground stations.
- Vyommitra can monitor through module parameters, alert astronauts and perform life support operations, can perform activities like switch panel operations and be a companion and converse with the astronauts, recognize them and respond to their queries.
- Attaining launch and orbital postures, responding to the environment, generating warnings, replacing carbon dioxide canisters, operating switches, monitoring of the crew module, receiving voice commands, responding via speech (bilingual), are among its functions listed. It will have a human-like face, with lips synchronized for movement to mimic speech.
- Vyommitra will serve as a test of the capabilities of the rocket system to take a human to space and back. Among the key parameters that will be tested is the efficiency of the crew module where astronauts will fly, whether its environment is conducive for human flight, and the safety factor.
India participated at UNAIDS Programme at World Economic Forum
Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) and Chemical & Fertilizers represented India in the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) programme at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 21, 2020.
The theme of the programme was “Access for all: Leveraging Innovations, Investments, and Partnerships for Health.”
- In the summit, technologies, health needs, and solutions to bridge economic inequalities in the health sector were discussed.
- The UNAIDS programme was established in 1994 with an objective to coordinate global action on the AIDS disease and alleviate its impact.
- According to UNAIDS India is the third-largest country with HIV epidemic in the world. According to 2018 data around 2.1 million people are living with AIDS in India, 69,000 AIDS-related deaths occurred and 88,000 new HIV infections were recorded.
- The National AIDS Control Organization implements the AIDS programme in India. It formulates policy and implements prevention and control programs of AIDS in the country.
The World Economic Forum: Highlights
On January 21, 2020, the 50th edition of the four days event of the World Economic Forum began at Davos, Switzerland. The event will be held from January 21-24. More than 50 heads of state from 117 nations across the world are participating in the event.
- The theme of the World economic forum 2020 is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World which highlights an idea proposed by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, that the managers of the organizations have a duty towards customers and the whole economy, besides the company’s shareholders.
- Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry is leading the Indian Delegation at the forum.
- On the first day of the forum US President Donald Trump, young environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen were present.
- Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF, Klaus Schwab had officially opened the annual meeting.
- A group of teenage ‘change-makers’ to Davos 2020 for greater engagement with young people were also invited at the World Economic Forum.
About World Economic Forum:
- The World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 and is a non-governmental organization. The aim of the forum is to improve the state of the world by bringing together key leaders from political, business and academic backgrounds to redefine global, regional and industry agendas. The forum comprises some of the world’s largest corporations.
- The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is held annually in January at Davos.
The 32nd PRAGATI meet
32nd PRAGATI meet was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 January 2020. The Prime Minister in this meeting reviewed projects that are being implemented by the union government and their progress.
- 24 projects worth Rs 24,000 crores spread over 9 states namely Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Kerala were discussed by the PM at the PRAGATI meet. It included three projects from the Ministry of Railways, one from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and five from the Ministry of Road Transport.
- Projects under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Bima Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana were also discussed at the meeting.
- Previously, in the 31st edition of PRAGATI interactions projects worth 12 lakh crores were reviewed, also about the grievances of Indian citizens working abroad.
- Aspirational District Programme, National Agricultural Market and infrastructural development programmes were also discussed. Around 9 projects that were of 61,000 crores of rupees were taken up for discussion. It included Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as well.
- In March 2015, PM Modi launched PRAGATI to address the grievances of common people.
Wildlife census begins in Kalakkad-Mundanthurai tiger reserve
On 22 January 2020, the annual wildlife census began in the Kalakkad – Mundanthurai tiger sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. The census will be conducted until 27 January.
- The results of the census will be included in the annual State of WildLife Population report of the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment.
- The sanctuary is spread in over 60,000-hectare area and the entire sanctuary will be covered for the survey.
- Jackals, tiger, and crocodiles will be counted in the first part of the survey
- Herbivores like elephants, deer, gaur, etc will be considered in the second phase.
- The aim behind this census is to protect the wildlife wealth of the country.
- More than 3,000 personnel consisting of Forest officials, wildlife experts, and college students are involved in the exercise.
- The condition of the forest environment and its effect on the pattern of distribution of wild animals will be studied in the survey.
- Possibilities for man-animal conflicts will be identified and necessary eco-friendly steps to avoid them will also be suggested during the survey.
- There are at least 150 endemic plants, 33 fish, 37 amphibians, 81 reptiles, 273 birds and 77 mammal species in the reserve, as per the 1977 Census.
Top Current Affairs for 22nd January 2020
China’s mystery virus: Wuhan Virus
A mysterious virus has spread across China and reached three other Asian nations. This virus is contagious between humans and is similar to the SARS virus (Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus).
- The new coronavirus strain was first discovered in the central city of Wuhan.
- The total number of people diagnosed with this mysterious virus has risen to 218.
- Shanghai and Beijing confirmed their first cases on 20 January 2020 while more than a dozen more emerged in southern Guangdong province and 136 new ones were found over the weekend in Wuhan.
- Scientists are confused to determine the mode of transmission. A Wuhan’s seafood market is being considered to be the center of the outbreak.
- A meeting of the World Health Organization panel will be held at Geneva on 22nd January 2020 to determine whether to declare the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern” which is only used for the severe epidemics.
Three capitals for Andhra Pradesh- its logic
The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on 20 Jan 2020 passed The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, clearing the way for three state capitals in Amravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool.
- Amaravati will now be the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam will be the executive capital and Kurnool the judicial capital.
- The objective behind the three-capital proposal has been pushed forward to enable decentralization and inclusive development of all regions, thereby ensuring “balanced and inclusive growth” of Andhra Pradesh.
- The new draft bill also proposes the division of the state into various zones and the establishment of zonal planning and development boards.
- CM Jaganmohan Reddy’s government has a clear majority of 151 MLAs in the 175-member legislative assembly.
- However, it just has nine members in the 58-member legislative council. Hence, the passing of the new draft bill is tough given the large opposition to its content by the members of the opposition parties and citizens at large.
- Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy had indicated during the state assembly session on December 17, 2019, that his government plans to relocate the state capital from Amravati to Visakhapatnam.
- The Chief Minister is firm on his government’s new plans to bring about a comprehensive, parallel and decentralized development in the state, despite stiff opposition to the new proposal.
- The AP Cabinet had also approved the APCRDA Repeal Bill, 2020 on January 20, paving the way for the formation of the Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Authority in its place.
The Carbon Disclosure Project’s annual report on carbon reduction activities
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) India annual report was released on 20 January 2020. This report examines the carbon reduction activities of companies of different countries surveyed between 2018 and 2019. According to the report India is now the fifth country and the first developing economy with the maximum number of companies committing to science-based targets.
- The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) India annual report, examined carbon reduction activities of companies, showed a whopping 58 Indian companies, 98 percent of the 59 firms surveyed between 2018 and 2019, have board-level oversight of climate-related issues.
- The report states that By December last year, 38 Indian companies have been committed to SBT, which is significant growth from 25 companies in 2018.
- According to the report top responding to Indian organizations, these days have committees and members designated to address climate risk.
- Approximately 6,900 organizations with over 55% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2018.
- With 135 companies The United States topped the list followed by Japan with 83 companies.
Global Social Mobility Index launched by World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum, on January 20, 2020, released the Social Mobility Index which measures social mobility of the population worldwide.
- Social Mobility is the upward or downward movement of an individual in personal circumstances in relation to their parents.
- 5 key dimensions were considered while measuring the countries’ social mobility.
a. Health and Education-Quality
b. Access and Equity
d. Work-Wages – conditions and opportunities
e. Protections and Institutions-Inclusive institutions and social protection
- Relative Social Mobility is the assessment of the effect of socio-economic background on a person’s life.
- Denmark ranked first followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.
- India ranked 76th out of 82 countries.
- As per the report, India has improved in the areas of social protection, fair wage distribution and in terms of life-long learning and working conditions.
- The US, China, India, Germany, and Japan are the countries that are benefited out of social mobility.
- According to the report, the fourth industrial revolution has created several social inequalities. It is disrupting the labor market by inducing wage disparities.
Bilateral International Treaty organization dismissed all the claims against India
An international arbitration tribunal, the Bilateral International Treaty organization, recently dismissed all the claims against India.
- The claims were put forward by private firms in Cyprus and Russia under Agreement between the Government of Russian Federation and Cyprus for promotion and protection of investments. The claims have now been dismissed completely.
- The Bilateral Investment Treaty is an agreement that was established for Foreign Direct Investment. It allows countries to set up rules for investments between each other.
- The treaty is the successor of the 19th century friendship, commerce and navigation treaty.
- Pakistan and Germany signed the first BIT.
- In mid – 90’S India entered BIT to make conditions favourable for foreign investors.
- As per the data of Ministry of Finance, India has till date signed BIT with 75 states. Out of these 66 are already in force and 9 are yet to be entered into force. India has signed 40 BITs with less developed and developing nations.
- India, like every other country has set its own BITs clauses. India’s BITs important feature is that it does not provide the right to make investment in India to the signatories.
Start Up India in Republic Parade
The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade will showcase tableau on Start-Up India at the Republic Day Parade to be held at Rajpath, New Delhi.
The tableau is to be held under the theme – Reach for the sky.
This is the first time that Start-Up India is participating in the Parade.
- The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade operates under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The Tableau will exhibit the stages of the life cycle of a start-up. The front of the tableau will depict a creative mind, the middle will represent kinds of support that are being provided to startups by the Government of India and sectors of Indian Economy that have driven growth employment generation will be depicted by the wheel.
- The start-up India scheme will be represented by the Map of India.
- According to the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade around 26,000 startups have been recognized.
- The startup initiative attracts global investments and has created more than 2,91,000 jobs to date.
Top Current Affairs for 21st January 2020
Global Investment Trends Monitor Report released by UNCTAD
According to the Global Investment Trend Monitor Report for the year 2019, India was among the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in 2019. India in 2019 attracted $49 billion inflows which were 16 percent more than that of the previous year. The report was released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on January 20, 2020.
- According to the report, the Global FDI of the year 2019 showed a decline of 1 % as compared to 2018 and was 1.39 trillion USD.
- Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia increased by 10% as compared to 2018.
- The major chunk of the input in India went into Information Technology.
- Pakistan and Bangladesh’s inflow declined by 20% and 6% respectively.
- China with FDI of 140 billion USD maintained the first position of the topmost FDI recipient in the world followed by the United States. Which attracted 251 billion USD FDI.
- According to the report, the inflows into developing economies remained unchanged.
- Latin America and the Caribbean witnessed a rise in FDI by 16%.
- The lowest FDI was recorded in African countries which were just 3%
NIC organizes Tech Conclave in New Delhi
A 2-day technology Conclave is being held at the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in New Delhi. The event started on January 21, 2020, and will conclude on January 22, 2020. Union Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the conclave.
- The Conclave will contribute immensely to the capacity building of Government officers across the country and help in delivering high-quality citizen-centric services. It will also help to deliver high-quality services that primarily focus on citizens
- The theme for this year’s technology conclave is -Technologies for Next-Gen Governance.
- Discussion on the application of Information and Communication Technology will be held in the conclave.
- Emphasis will also be laid on hyper-scale, cybersecurity, design thinking, and architecture.
- The National Information Centre was established in 1976 and plays a vital role in incorporating new technologies within the administration of government. It recently launched a Centre for BlockChain Technology in Bengaluru.
GoI renamed its National TB Control Programme to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme
The National TB Control Programme has been renamed to National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme by the Union government on January 17, 2020. India has set a goal to eliminate the disease by 2025 and the name change is in line with that.
- The World Health Organization has also endorsed technology TrueNat MTB developed by Indian scientists to detect tuberculosis in terms of accuracy.
- The TrueNat test is a molecular test that uses a polymerase chain reaction to detect bacteria of Tuberculosis in one hour. The device used for the test is battery operated.
- As a first step, the TrueNat MTB kit will be available at community health centers and gradually will be extended to 5,500 to 6,000 primary health centers available in India.
- India’s goal to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025 is five years ahead of the goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development target.
- Earlier,in 1983, the National Control Programme was renamed to the National Leprosy Eradication Programme.
- The National Programme for Control of Poliomyelitis was renamed to Polio eradication Programme.
Amazon to invest 1 billion USD in India
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, on 17 January 2020 announced that Amazon is planning to invest 1 billion USD to digitize Small and Medium Businesses in India. He also said that Amazon will generate 1 million jobs in India.
- Amazon will export $10 billion made in India goods by 2025.
- Amazon In order to involve small and medium businesses organized a mega summit SAMBHAV in New Delhi on January 14, 2020.
- Approximately 3000 entrepreneurs attended the summit.
- As per the National E-Commerce Policy, 2019, the E-Commerce market of India is estimated to reach 200 billion USD by 2026.
- The foreign E-Commerce giants are competing with each other to capture the Indian market as India is one of the largest markets in the world.
- The 1 trillion USD investment and SAMBHAV event of Amazon is part of this effort.
Firsts of Census 2021
The 16th Indian Census will be conducted in September 2021. For the first time in the history of India, the census will collect data of transgenders headed houses and enquire about “Main cereal”.
- 31 questions will be asked to the citizens in the 2021 census. Out of which there are few which have been included in the census for the first time which is – The information about households run by transgender, under the question of the sex of household head, male, female and transgender.
- The Census is to be conducted through the mobile phone application and Inquiry about the main cereal consumed.
- Earlier data on OBC was also to be collected in the census but this has not been included.
- Question one to five are related to building numbers, floor material of the house, house number, wall and roof of the house, condition of the census house and use of census house
- Questions six and seven are about the total number of persons normally residing, household number.
- The other questions include caste details, ownership status of the house, access to a toilet, LPG connection, smartphone, car, drinking water availability, the main source of lighting, type of latrine, wastewater outlet, main cereal consumed, etc.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs decides the questions which have to be asked in the census.
Pakistan requests US to get it out of FATF grey list
Pakistan has requested the United States to remove it from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan foreign minister was in Washington last week and had expressed hope that the US would back its efforts to get it off the grey list at FATF’s review meeting in Beijing this week.
- FATF in October 2019 had put Pakistan in the grey list as it had been unable to deal with terror groups propping up in the country under different banners, with many contesting last year’s general elections as well.
- FATF had warned the country to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020, or face blacklisting in its next plenary session in April in Paris.
- Blacklisting by FATF could result in a freeze of capital flows to Pakistan, slow progress in refinancing/re-profiling of loans from major bilateral creditors, and increased headwinds from a weaker global economic backdrop.
The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
Top Current Affairs for 20th January 2020
Bengaluru hosted the Industrial Meet of ‘Wings India’-Asia’s largest Civil Aviation Event
Bengaluru, on January 18, 2020, hosted the Industrial meet of Asia’s largest Civil Aviation. The Begumpet airport, Hyderabad will host the Civil Aviation event to be held in March 2020.
“Flying for All” will be the theme of the event.
- Bangalore being the IT Capital of the country has the potential to become an Aviation Capital of the country.
- The meet aimed to bring the regulators and facilitators of the aviation sector on one platform.
- Announcement regarding GoI planning to set up a world-class training facility for astronauts and pilots together was made at the event.
- In terms of the civil aviation market, India ranks third in the world.
- The aviation sector currently provides jobs to 8 million Indians and contributes 72 billion USD to GDP.
- The government of India is continuously taking steps to improve the sector. It includes permitting 100% FDI in seaplanes, helicopter services, group handling services, and non-scheduled air transport services.
World Gold Council report
The quantum of gold holding by the different countries was highlighted by The World Gold Council its latest report
- India holds 607 tonnes of gold and is the 10th largest gold reserve in the world. Apart from the country, organizations are also considered in the survey.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes and ranks third on the list.
- The US with gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes tops the list, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes of the reserve.
- China with 1,864.3 tonnes of gold reserve and Japan with 765.2 tonnes ranks above India.
- The global gold reserves increased by 35 tonnes (largest January increase in gold reserves since 2002) on a net basis in January due to Gross purchases of 48 tonnes and gross sales of 13 tonnes.
- The market development organization for the gold industry is the World Gold Council.
“Seismic Hazard Microzonation” launched by GoI
The Seismic Hazard Microzonation project has been launched by the Ministry of Earth Science in major cities of India. The aim of the project is to reduce the hazards of seismic activities by putting inadequate measures.
- Seismic Hazard Microzonation is the process of dividing earthquake-prone areas based on factors like geological and geophysical characteristics of sites like ground shaking, landslide, liquefaction susceptibility, rockfall hazard and flooding caused due to earthquakes.
- Based on the division, preventive measures are prepared. The factors in the micro zonation method are estimated based on the response from soil layers.
- So far, the mapping has been done in the State of Sikkim and cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati, Jabalpur, Dehradun, Ahmedabad, and Gandhidham.
- Japan is the best country where micro zonation techniques are well implemented. The Civil engineering practice in Japan is based on micro zonation laws. This helps to design infrastructure with seismic resilience.
- The technique gives better mitigatory measures as it helps to understand the impact of seismic activities precisely. In certain places, where no reliable prediction model can be implemented, it is essential to adopt preventive measures.
Prakash Javadekar and R K Singh inaugurate Elecrama 2020
On 18th January 2020, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and R K Singh inaugurated Elecrama 2020. The event was organized by industry body IEEMA. IEEMA in this five days event is targeting businesses worth Rs 30,000 crore.
- e-mobility, energy storage, start-ups, grid transformation, revenue security are the focus area of this year’s event.
- Special attention will be on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
- This event is an opportunity for the exchange of ideas and learning.
- Elecrama is a power industry event organized by IEEMA every two years.
- R K Chugh, IEEMA president said that the government has set up a target of making India a USD 5 trillion economy and his industry will play a significant role in achieving this goal.
- Satish Mahana, Uttar Pradesh Industrial Development Minister also attended the event.
- A total of 1,300 exhibitors from 120 nations are participating in the event.
Top Current Affairs for 18th & 19th January 2020
14th Foundation Day of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India observed
On 18th January 2020, the 14th Foundation Day of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) was observed. An event was organized in New Delhi to celebrate the occasion.
- Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Shri congratulated team Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India for completing 500 km of Dedicated Freight Corridor and advised the team to achieve the goal of 991 km by March 2020.
- Freight Corridors are helping in a paradigm change in Indian Railways and DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India ) plays a significant role in shaping the Indian economy.
- Indian railway is upgrading the Railway network, especially the Delhi – Mumbai, and Delhi – Howrah sectors for running faster and modern trains.
- Smt. Manjula Rangarajan, Financial Commissioner, Railway Board, Shri Pradeep Kumar, Member S&T, Railway Board, Ms. PinkyAnand, Additional Solicitor General. An array of senior officers from Railway Board, DFCCIL, PSUs, World Bank & JICA were also present at the event.
- 28 individual awards and 4 Group awards were imparted at the ceremony.
- Ajmer & Ahmedabad units bagged the running shield for the Western Corridor jointly and for Eastern Corridor, it was given to Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya (Mughalsarai) unit.
The DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited) is a Public Sector Undertaking corporation run by the government of India’s Ministry of Railways to undertake planning, development, and mobilization of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.
Group of Ministers report on a legal framework to prevent sexual harassment
The Group of Ministers headed by Amit Shah, Home Minister finalizes its report to amend the legal framework to stop sexual harassment at the workplace.
- After the “Me too” campaign in 2018, the Group of Ministers was constituted to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace and strengthen legal frameworks.
- In July 2019, this group was reconstituted under the Home Ministry.
- The government of India is also working to change the Indian Penal Code that was introduced during British rule in 1860. The group of ministers has recommended strengthening the laws.
- The report will be based on Vishaka guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in 1997, Justice J.S, Verma Committee recommendations and Verma Committee recommendations.
- The other members of the reconstituted GoM are Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, HRD Minister and Smriti Irani, Women and Child Development Minister.
India to set up the Maritime Research Coordination Centre in Sri Lanka
Ajit Doval, Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) on January 19, 2020, met Gotbaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan President. There was a discussion between the two regarding the establishment of a maritime research coordination center at Srilanka. This research center will help to learn maritime activities in the Indian Ocean Region.
- This meeting was a follow-up meeting of Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi in November 2019, for talks with Prime Minister Modi, who offered $450 mn in aid to Sri Lanka
- A discussion was also held on to improve bilateral relations and to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the countries.
- The visit also conveyed a message that India is trying to create robust maritime security cooperation involving the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
- The two countries have certain issues like in the 1974 agreement, India agreed to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over Katchchativu island but with some clauses. The clause included by India was to protect its fishermen. But, Sri Lanka complained that the agreement failed to give fishing rights to Sri Lankan fishermen.
National Ganga Mission Begins Conservation of wetlands along the Ganges
Under the Namami Gange Project, the National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG) has taken up an initiative to protect wetlands of the Ganges basin. The primary aim of this project is to renew the river by increasing its flow, recharging aquifers and conservation of wetlands.
- The NMCG along with the State Wetland authorities will identify and prepare plans in conserving wetlands.
- The wetlands are an important part of ecosystems as they help in nutrient recycling, flood and drought mitigation, surface and groundwater recharge.
- Drainage, landfill, and overexploitation have degraded some of the wetlands.
- UNESCO established an intergovernmental treaty known as the Ramsar Convention in 1971 for the conservation of wetlands. India has 27 Ramsar sites.
- Indian wetlands are categorized into 8 categories based on their regional presence. It includes Deccan Plateau in the south, Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, saline expenses in Rajasthan, delta wetlands of India’s East Coast, lakes and rivers in mountain regions of Ladakh and Kashmir, marshes and swamps in northeast India and Himalayan foothills and mangroves of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
India successfully test-fires nuclear-capable K-4 Ballistic Missile
On January 19, 2020, India successfully test-fired nuclear-capable, K-4 ballistic missile from an underwater platform in the seacoast of Andhra Pradesh.
- K-4 ballistic missile has a strike range of 3500km and can be launched from a submarine.
- This missile was developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will be deployed on the fleet of the Arihant Class nuclear submarines being built by India.
- The length of the missile is three-meter tall and can carry a nuclear warhead of over one tone. It has a circular error probability lower than that of the Chinese ballistic missiles.
- K-4 ballistic missile is very important for India’s air, land, and sea nuclear triad.
- US, Russia and China are the other three countries having submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a strike range of 3,500km.
- More tests of the K-4 nuclear-capable missile will be carried out by India before deploying these missiles on nuclear submarines. Presently, only the first nuclear boat INS Arihant is operational for the Navy.
Myanmar-China sign 33 deals of BRI
Myanmar and China, on January 18, 2020, signed 33 new deals Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to implement the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. The concession agreement was also inked between both the countries to bring into action the deep seaport project called Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.
- The agreement was inked after the meeting between President Xi Jinping and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
- The agreement will strengthen the collaboration in the infrastructure sector like rail connectivity, power interconnection projects and roads. But, there was no discussion on the Myitsone dam project which is backed by China.
- The focus areas of the agreement were politics, people-to-people communications for China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative, investment, and trade.
- The building of the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor will be promoted by Myanmar.
- The agreements also focused on the implementation of China Myanmar Economic Corridor which is similar to the 60 billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under which China looks to access Pakistan’s Gwadar port in the Arabian sea.
- The China Myanmar Economic Corridor will link the Indian Ocean to landlocked southwestern China.
- The Kyaukphyu project is a concern for India as it provides China access to the Indian Ocean.
Top Current Affairs for 17th January 2020
National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases
National Draft Policy on rare diseases was released by the Government of India released on January 13, 2020. As per the draft policy, financial support of up to Rs 15 lakh for the one-time treatment of rare diseases will be provided by the government under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare drafted this policy.
- Three committees namely – V K Paul Committee, IC Verma Sub Committee Report, D K Tempe Committee Report was appointed by GoI and the policy is drafted based on recommendations of these three committees.
- Under the draft National Policy for Rare Diseases, beneficiaries will not only be limited to Below Poverty Line families but will also cover 40 percent of the population eligible as per norms of the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana for their treatment in government tertiary hospitals only.
- Certain medical institutes which include AIIMS New Delhi, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Science, Lucknow, King Edward Medical Hospital, Mumbai will be certified as Centre of Excellence for rare diseases under the policy.
- Rare diseases such as Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSDs), immune deficiency disorders, chronic granulomatous disease, osteopetrosis, Fabry’s disease, and liver or kidney transplant are categorized under Group 1 and will be funded under the scheme.
- For diseases like Hurler Syndrome, Gaucher’s disease, Wolman disease for which lifetime treatment is required, a digital platform will be set up to raise donations and corporate funding.
- An inter-ministerial consultative committee led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will be set up on the National level.
- Under the Indian Council of Medical Research, a patient registry of rare diseases will be constituted.
- India doesn’t have any data on people suffering from rare diseases.
Ladakh hosted the first-ever Food Processing Summit to attract investors
Union Territory Ladakh hosted the first-ever Food Processing Summit on January 16, 2020, to attract investors to the region. The summit was organized with the help of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the UT Administration of Ladakh. Invest India and National Investment Promotion and Facilitation agency were some other stakeholders of the summit.
- The summit was inaugurated by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Reema Prakash.
- Around 170 participants including government officers, senior procurement officers from the Indian Army, bankers, farmers, entrepreneurs, cooperatives, bakers, dairy farmers, and unemployed youths attended the summit.
- Food producers of Ladakh including producers of barley, milk, meat, organic vegetables, apples, and apricots were present at the summit.
- The Ladakh Action Plan to promote food processing was presented at the summit.
- The aim of the event was to encourage the entrepreneurs to begin a StartUp to tap the potential in the Food Processing Industries in Ladakh.
- Invest India explained the procedures of investment processes along with Government support.
- Ladakh has huge potential for growing cereals, vegetables, and food grains but agriculture has now taken back due to growing tourism in the region, decreased participation of agricultural activities including low cropping intensity, short agriculture season and less productivity.
IIM Kozhikode hosting, an International Conclave “Globalizing Indian Thought”
An international conclave on ‘Globalising Indian Thought’ is being organized at The Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM Kozhikode) from January 16-18, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the three-day Academic conclave through video conferencing.
- Renowned academicians, public figures will be there at the conclave.
- More than 100 world-class research papers will be presented at the conclave.
- This conclave will provide a perfect platform for academic discussion on India’s contribution to the world and how India as a country can reimagine itself and re-shape worldviews in the current context.
- The keynote, plenary talks, panel discussions and paper presentations about Globalizing Indian Thought, will open avenues for a deeper understanding of the concept and will advance the meaningful probe into its nuances.
- The Conclave focuses on India’s thought that are Satyam-Truth, Nithyam-Sustainability Purnam-Wholeness.
- The Conclave reveals India’s path towards development in the global market using the right path of development
- on 18th December, the valedictory function will be attended by Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor, Puducherry, and Prof. Anil Kumar Gupta, renowned academician and activist.
- Awards will be presented to the best research papers during the closing ceremony.
1st session of India-Norway Dialogue on Trade and Investment’s conducted in New Delhi
On 15-16 January 2020, the first Session of India-Norway Dialogue on Trade & Investment (DTI) was conducted in New Delhi. The session was based on the Terms of Reference (ToR) which was signed on 8th January 2019, between India and Norway in New Delhi, during the visit of Prime Minister of Norway.
- This was the first meeting after the inking of Dialogue on Trade & Investment.
- On 15th January 2020, the first session started by an industry interaction where discussions were held on various areas of mutual interest like the blue economy, ICT, renewable energy, fisheries, shipping & maritime, and MSME.
- Both countries’ representatives exchanged views on investment opportunities available in the respective countries as also the facilitations being extended by respective Governments for creating attractive investment environments. Presentations were also made by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) and Invest India.
- Representatives from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), fisheries, ICT, renewable energy, electrical equipment, IT and solar energy sectors participated in the industry interaction. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Department of Economic Affairs highlighted various policy initiatives of the Government for promoting investment in the country.
- Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, and Mr. Erling Rimestad, Director General, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries co-chaired the main session on 16th January 2020.
- Both sides agreed that the dynamic nature of the commercial exchange between the two countries will result in an increasing number of companies interested in establishing and gaining access to the markets in India and Norway.
Brazil to open new research base at Antarctica
An announcement was made by Brazil that it is planning to open a new research base in Antarctica.
- A massive fire destroyed Brazil’s original scientific outpost 8 years ago.
- Around 100 million dollars have been invested by the Brazilian government in the reconstruction of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station.
- It is situated on King George Island and is a 48,500-square-foot complex. It is the largest in the South Shetland archipelago.
- Chinese state-owned company CEIEC built the new center.
- The new base has 17 laboratories and accommodation for 64 people.
- It is expected that Hamilton Mourao, Vice President and Marcos Pontes, Science and Technology Minister will attend the official opening ceremony.
- Brazil’s original scientific outpost, Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station was established in 1984. The base was used for research into biology, chemistry, meteorology, and medicine. In 2012 fire caused by a fuel leak destroyed the center completely.
- Around 30 countries operate research bases in Antarctica under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.
- In 1975, Brazil joined this treaty.
- The aim of the treaty is to reduce the chances of confrontations over territorial disputes in Antarctica.
Indian Railways and REMCL organized Renewable Energy Investors Meet
On 9 January 2020, Indian Railways and Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL) organized a Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet 2020 in New Delhi.
- The aim of the Investors Meet was to impart information about the opportunities present under renewable energy in Indian Railways.
- The event showcased the experience of various developers with Railways and the benefits of partnering with Indian Railways.
- The investors interested in partnering with Indian Railways in the journey of renewable energy of Indian Railways shared their expectations.
- Indian Railways’ efforts in leading the development of renewable energy were applauded by the participants.
- The investors Strongly supported Indian Railways on the path of going green and promised to be a part of Railway’s goal to achieve the net-zero carbon emissions target by 2030.
- Department for International Development, GIZ from Germany, AFD from France, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), Government of United Kingdom (DFID), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Punjab National Bank (PNB) were present in the event. Many leading renewable energy organizations including Softbank Energy, L&T, Renew Power, Gensol, Sembcorp, SunEdison, State Bank of India (SBI), and Amplus Solar participated in the meeting.
Top Current Affairs for 15th & 16th January 2020
Global Risks Report, 2020 released by the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum released its Global Risks Report on January 15, 2020. This report lists 5 top risks in terms of Likelihood and in terms of impact. Likelihood risks include climate action failure, extreme weather, natural disasters, biodiversity losses, and human-made environmental disasters. Impacts risks include climate action failure, weapons of mass destruction, biodiversity losses, extreme weather, and water crisis.
- According to the report, risks related to climate have the greatest likelihood of severe impacts.
- Geopolitical turbulence is also one of the top risks. The retreat from multilateralism has impacted the capacity of the world to deal with global risks.
- The report also states that there are chances that current economic stagflation will increase and will lead to increased protests, social issues, and increased populists movements.
- The evaluation of Digital Technology is at its peak but this will give rise to unequal access to technology all over the world.
- The health system is facing increased pressure from the social demographic, environmental and technology.
- All the five risks of likelihood mentioned in this report are climate-related.
Indian Army Day observed on January 15
India on January 15, 2020, celebrated its 72nd Army Day. It is being celebrated every year to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. As part of the celebration, The Army Day Parade was held at the Parade Ground in Delhi Cantonment. Our Great Soldiers serve with the motto “Service before Self”.
- The first General of Indian Army General KM Cariappa took charge on January 15, 1949. The power was transferred from the last British General Bucher to Mr. Cariappa.
- Parades are conducted to celebrate the transfer of power from the British to India. The Parade ground is called Cariappa Ground.
- Gallantry awards are distributed on this occasion.
- On January 14, 1953, General Cariappa retired and his retirement day is being celebrated as Armed Forces Veterans Day every year.
- Tania Sher Gill, who joined the army in 2017 became the first woman Army Officer in 2020 to lead an all-men contingent at the parade.
- Captain Bhavna Kasturi in 2019, became the first woman officer to lead an all men contingent during the Republic Day celebrations.
First Month-long digital exhibition on Indian Heritage inaugurated
The State of Culture and Tourism minister launched an exhibition on Indian Heritage in digital space (IHDS) at New Delhi on January 15, 2020. The exhibition will stay online until February 15, 2020.
- This exhibition is the first of its kind in India.
- The exhibition consists of conjectural and architectural reconstructions, recreations of socio-cultural traditions and life of Hampi and also many more murals.
- The aim of the exhibition is to take heritage to a wider population and break the barrier that heritage is restricted only to research.
- The exhibition also aims to make citizens accountable to prevent heritage by educating them about the importance of heritage. This, in turn, will help to protect age-old structures and monuments in a better way.
- IHDS programme developed the technologies used to create the models of Heritages.
- IHDS aims to create 3D LASER scan data, holographic projections, 3D fabrication to showcase the glory of heritages.
- It is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology.
- It has so far created a reconstruction of Hampi, Taj Mahal, Sun Temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Ramachandra Temple, and RaniKiVav Patan.
- A special installation called “VIRAASAT” which in Hindi means heritage is also there at the exhibition.
- It uses 3D printing technology to provide mixed reality experience to visitors.
Saksham, a mega campaign on fuel conservation launched by the Government of India
On January 16, 2020, the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) which works under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas launched Saksham, a mega campaign on fuel conservation.
- PCRA will conduct SAKSHAM campaigns all over the country and create awareness about energy-efficient burners for gas stoves which it has developed. PCRA will also spread the message “ Pollution ka Solution “ among the public.
- The campaign aims to create awareness among the masses about fuel conservation.
- A comic book on the theme, “Fuel Conservation” has been prepared by PRCA in collaboration with NCERT. The books will be distributed to people as part of the campaign.
- PCRA has earlier also conducted such campaigns. Among which the most successful Saksham campaign was recently conducted on switching off of engines at the red light in traffic signals. This campaign helped to reduce fuel losses by 22% before and after the campaign.
PCRA is a Government think tank that develops strategies and policies on petroleum conservation and environment protection to reduce the country’s dependence on oil.
It is engaged in the promotion of energy-efficient programmes in different sectors of the country. R&D activities to develop fuel-efficient equipment are also sponsored by PCRA.
Global Health Challenges for 2020 released by WHO
World Health Organization on January 13, 2020, released the top global health challenges for the year. This list of Global Health Challenges of the forthcoming year is released by WHO every year.
- There are 13 potential threats included in the list.
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and the climate crisis are the foremost threats. These two threats topped the list in 2019 too.
- According to the report, climate change is causing malnutrition and adding fuel to spread infectious diseases such as malaria.
- Around 7 million people are affected because of climate change.
- Influenza epidemic and the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis are the other major threats mentioned in the list.
- Stroke, heart attack, chronic respiratory disease, and lung cancer are the cause of more than one-quarter of deaths. The severity of these diseases is increasing the chances of these diseases are increased due to rising levels of air pollution.
- Lack of access to vaccines, diagnostic tools, medicines, and other essential health products is the new threat in the list of top 13 threats.
- According to WHO by the end of 2030 around 18 million health workers will be required and the Shortage of healthcare workers is also a major global concern.
- Unhealthy food habits, lack of food, and unsafe food are also a major threat.
- Apart from disease-related threats other threats such as social media, infrastructure, human resources, and new technologies are also there.
- The false information about diseases in social media is a major threat as it is spread false fears among people.
- As per WHO, delivering health care in conflict-ridden areas is also the biggest challenge.
IMD Foundation Day observed on January 15
The Indian Meteorological Department celebrated its 145th Foundation Day on 15th January 2020. IMD functions under the Ministry of Earth Science.
- IMD was established in 1875.
- The day was celebrated by the Ministry of Earth Science.
- Around 5 observatories of IMD including Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram, and Panjim received recognition from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for their long-term observatory services of more than 100 years.
- IMD earned global applause for its accurate prediction of Cyclone Fani.
- The False Alarm ratio has declined and the Probability of Detection (POD) has increased from 0.45 in 2002 to 0.8 in 2019.
- In August 2019, CDES (Centralised Data Entry System) DATEN9 software was installed in 91 observatory stations and 40 airports.
- This system also provides Agro-Meteorological Advisory services under the PPP model providing weather conditions to more than 40.2 million farmers.
- It is the agency of the Government of India, headquartered in Delhi that makes meteorological observations, weather forecasts, and seismological observations.
- It operates observatory station Antarctica and India.
- The major IMD centers are located in Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Nagpur.
- Indian Meteorological Department is one of the six regional specialized Meteorological centers of WMO.
Top Current Affairs for 14th January 2020
Armed Forces Veterans Day observed on January 14
January 14 is observed as Armed Forces Veterans Day every year. The day is being observed since 2017. It was earlier known as Armistice Day.
- The day is observed to pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.
- Armistice Day is observed on November 11 all over the world to mark the armistice that was signed between Germany and Allies of World war I.
- The first Armistice Day was celebrated on November 11, 1919, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I and celebrating the brave soldiers who were part of World War I.
- In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor the living legends of all wars.
- But, in India, the day was first marked through a resolution passed in 1926 by the Congress
- The year 2020 marks the fourth year of the Army Forces Veteran Day. This year the day is to be celebrated at the National War Memorial in the presence of Chief of Navy and Chief of Air Force.
- Every year, January 14 is marked as Armed Forces Veteran Day as the Field Marshal KM Cariappa, the first Commander-in-chief of Indian Armed Forces retired on the day.
Statue of Unity included in 8 Wonders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Statue of Unity that was inaugurated in October 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been included in 8 wonders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The statue inaugurated on the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhai Patel was a monumental tribute to him.
About the Statue
- The Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue.
- Since its inauguration in 2018, the statue attracted 2.9 million tourists and earned revenue of INR 82 crores.
- The Wonders of SCO include archaeological and historical monuments of SCO. It includes
- a. Statue of Unity in India
- b. Daming Palace in China
- c. Navruz Palace in Tajikistan
- d. Mughals Heritage in Pakistan
- e. Tamgaly Gorge in Kazakhstan
- f. Po-i-Kalan Complex in Uzbekistan
- g. The Golden Ring of Russia
- h. Lahore, the Mughals heritage in Pakistan
SCO Heads Meeting in India
- India for the first time is hosting the meeting of the Heads of Government of SCO countries.
- All the government heads of eight SCO countries India, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan will attend the meeting.
- However, because of high tensions between India and Pakistan, Imran Khan, the PM of Pakistan is expected to skip the meet.
- However, both India and Pakistan participated in SCO military exercise hosted by Russia.
Banks RBI to impose fines on banks with poor progress
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has once again announced that heavy fines will be imposed on banks, and stipulate higher provisioning for stressed loans. Earlier, this announcement was made on 7 June 2019 by the RBI.
- According to RBI, chief executive officers (CEOs) and senior management of banks can also be held liable for lack of progress.
- The fresh set of guidelines will be issued by RBI by the end of March.
- RBI said that banks can start the resolution of stressed loans less than Rs.1,500 crore without waiting for a formal notification.
- The circular which was out on 7 June 2019 was only applicable for stressed accounts in excess Rs.2,000 crore.
- RBI review of 7 June circular notes Inter-creditor Agreement (ICA) (of 13 banks) yet to be signed for exposures amounting to Rs.3,610 crore
- Embedded frauds might hold up stressed loan resolution so monitoring would be there.
- It highlighted the number of frauds of Rs.50 crore and above in H1 FY20 rose to 398 involving Rs.1.056 trillion up from 322 cases and Rs.61,759 crore in FY19
Captain Tania Shergill will be the first woman parade officer for the Republic Day parade
For the 2020 republic day parade, Captain Tania Shergill has been selected to be the first woman parade officer. The parade officer is responsible for the parade.
- Captain Tania Shergill, an officer with the Army’s Corps of Signals was commissioned in March 2017 from the Officer Training Academy, Chennai.
- She is a communication and electronics graduate and her father, grandfather and great-grandfather have also served in the Indian Army.
- Captain Bhavna Kasturi was the first woman officer to lead an all-men contingent In the 2019 Republic Day parade.
To help small farmers IIFPT signs MoU with 8 Institutes in India
The Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology(IIFPT), Bathinda inked Memorandum of Understanding with the VC’s and Directors of 8 different reputed institutes of the region in the states of Haryana and Punjab. The name of the institutes are –
- Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University (MRSPTU), Bathinda
- Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engg. & Technology (CIPHET), Ludhiana
- National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal
- Indian Institute of Wheat & Barley Research (IIWBR), Karnal
- Sant Longowal Institute of Engg. & Tech. (SLIET), Sangrur
- Guru Nanak College, Budhlada
- National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali
- The aim of the MoU is to increase the income of small farmers and open new opportunities for the benefit of farmers.
- The MoU will help the entrepreneurs and farmers to avail benefits from the Gram Samridhi Yojana under which the Ministry of Food Processing Industries has got Rs.3000 crores for up-gradation of technology.
- The MoU will provide a common platform to Universities, Colleges, and Institutes to work in collaboration with each other to achieve the vision of PM Modi to increase the income of small farmers.
- It will facilitate a collaborative programme of research, consultancy, skill development, institutional development, information dissemination, and student’s in-plant training. The linkage will strengthen the mutual bond and relationship between the partners.
Indian Navy gets a special NATO class diesel
On 13 January 2020 Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) launched the new fuel High Flash High-Speed Diesel (HFHSD) – IN 512, with revised technical specifications.
- During fleet exercises, India will be able to ensure interoperability amongst foreign navies.
- Better fuel quality will be provided than that mandated to all foreign navies under bilateral/ multi-national logistics support pacts including Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
- India will be able to produce world-class products with the help of this fuel
- Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and other merchant marines will be benefited from this in the future.
- It will ensure high-quality fuel available to all foreign Navy ships at Indian ports during exercises with the Indian Navy.
- It will increase equipment reliability, performance, reduced carbon footprint, emissions
- In the Indian Navy’s ‘Mission Based Deployment’ on a global scale this fuel will be the key enabler.
Top Current Affairs for 13th January 2020
World Future Energy Summit and CLIX is being held at Abu Dhabi
The four days World Future Energy Summit began in Abu Dhabi on January 13, 2020. 33,500 participants from 170 countries with 800 special exhibits are participating in the event. Along the summit, the CLIX-Climate Innovations Exchange is also being held.
The theme of the event is Rethinking Global Consumption, Production, and Investment.
- The summit is being held on five important pillars: energy, water, solar, waste and smart cities and will act as the best example to support the global economy through recycling, removing single-use plastics, using renewable energy, etc.
- The event is dedicated to clean technologies, future energy, and energy efficiencies.
- The summit has attracted world leaders, investors, policymakers, investors, intellectuals and academicians.
- The Climate Innovation Exchange (CLIX) was launched in 2018 at the World Future Energy Summit and is being conducted side by side of the summit.
- It acts as a platform for countries to exchange their ideas on the future of agriculture, food, energy, and mobility.
14% of Indians affected by Shopper Malware
Shopper malware, a new Trojan is increasing its presence among smartphone users. The malware is popping up unsolicited ads and flashing fake reviews.
- Retail applications are being focused by the malware.
- The malware can read data being entered on the screen.
- After the trojan gains permission, it interacts with the system interfaces and captures every data being featured on the screen.
- It is using Facebook and Google data to register on popular shopping sites.
- Before this between October 2019 to November 2019 “Trojan-Dropper” had affected 14.23% of Indians.
- Indian Government to combat such attacks have set up Cyber Swachhta Kendra to detect such malware infections and clean them at the earliest.
About CSK (Cyber Swachhta Kendra ):
- The Cyber Swachhta Kendra is Botnet cleaning and Malware analysis centers operating under the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- They were established in accordance with the National Cyber Security Policy.
- The Centre provides malware removal tools to fix them permanently.
On the occasion of 150th celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust Commemorative stamps were released
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched commemorative stamps of the port trust during the 150th celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust. Kolkata port trust was also renamed as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee port during the event.
- PM also launched Rs 600 crore worth port development activities during the event. It includes an upgrade of a ship repair facility, upgraded railway infrastructure for the port and also riverfront development schemes. The riverfront development schemes include cruise-based tourism, water parks, sea museums, aquariums.
- The GoI currently runs 150 cruise ships in the country. The number is to be increased to 1000 and West Bengal is to play an active role in it. At the event, Rs 501 crores were provided as a final installment to retired employees to meet the deficit of pension.
- Pritilata Chhatra Avas and Kaushal Vikas Kendra for 200 tribal girls in the Sunderbans region were also inaugurated by the PM. The Kaushal Vikas Kendra is a skill development center for the youth of the country. They are established under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
Haitham Bin Tariq Al becomes new Sultan of Oman
On January 11, 2020, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said was sworn in as the new Sultan of Oman after the death of long-time ruler Qaboos bin Said Al Saeed.
- Late Qaboos bin Saeed was the Arab world’s longest-serving ruler and had ruled Oman since 1970 as the 8th Sultan of the House of Al Said. He passed away on January 10 due to prolonged illness at the age of 79 years.
- Haitham bin Tariq was chosen as the successor by the late sultan Haitham Bin Tareq Al Saeed himself new Sultan of Oman, as the Sultan had no children. Haitham bin Tariq is the cousin of the late Sultan.
- The Sultan of Oman is the highest decision-maker and holds the parallel position of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
About Haitham bin Tariq al-Saeed:
Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq was born in 1954. Since the mid-1990’s he was the Minister of Heritage and Culture minister of Oman. In 2013, he was appointed as the Chairman of Oman’s development committee.
Indian Air Force to acquire 200 fighter jets
Around 200 aircraft will be acquired by the Government of India. Out of these, 83 fighter jets are LCA Tejas Mark 1A and are to be procured from HAL. The rest are to be procured based on Request for Proposals.
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited finalized the design of the fighter jets and will start manufacturing 8 Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Mark 1A per year and later on will increase the count to 16 per year.
- The LCA Tejas is the first indigenously made aircraft to make an arrested landing on INS Vikramaditya.
About LCA Tejas:
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Aeronautical Development Agency in the 1980s designed the LCA Tejas.
- India’s MiG-21 was replaced by them.
- Egypt and Sri Lanka have shown interest in buying the aircraft which will help India achieve its Defence export targets of Rs 35,000 crores by 2024.
- India is planning to export Tejas Mark 1A and not its advanced version Tejas Mark 2.
Tejas Mark 2:
- Tejas Mark 2 has an increased internal fuel capacity of 3.3 tonnes.
- It is also equipped with an artificial intelligence-based cockpit that is optimally manned and has provisions for the ground stations to take control when the pilot falls unconscious or is injured.
- The helmet of the pilot will generate the alert signals of the unconsciousness of the pilot.
Top Current Affairs for 11th & 12th January 2020
National Youth Day observed on January 12
National youth day is observed annually on January 12 to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The Ministry of Youth affairs and sports also organizes the National Youth Festival on this day. The national youth festival has been organized since 1985 by the GoI. The aim of the festival is to bring the youths of the country together.
- This year marks the 23rd edition of the National Youth Festival.
- This year the youth festival will be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh between January 12, 2020, and January 16, 2020.
- In line with the Fit India movement of GoI, the theme for 2020 youth festival is kept as – Fit Youth Fit India.
- 6000 participants from Volunteers from NYKS (Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan), NSS (National Service Scheme), and local youth will participate in the event.
- The festival will also focus on the rich culture of India.
- Classical dance such as Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi will also be held at the event.
GoI released State Energy Efficiency Index
Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) on January 10, 2020, launched the State Energy Efficiency Index, 2019. The report was released in association with Alliance for Energy-Efficient Economy.
- Basic energy requirements such as coal, electricity, gas, and oil were considered during the preparation of the report.
- The report tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency initiatives in 36 states and Union Territories.
- The best performers according to the report were Karnataka, HP, Haryana, and Puducherry while Jharkhand, Manipur, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir were the least performers.
- The base of the index has been developed on quantitative, qualitative and outcome-based indicators.
- Buildings, transport, municipalities, Discoms and agriculture industry’s outcomes were studied.
- This year, BEE has included the Energy Conservation Building Code under the guidance of the United States Agency for International Development as one of its indicators. The code aims at promoting energy efficiency in the building sector.
- In 2018, the first such Index in the country was released.
- The index will help states in their contribution to energy security and climate action. It helps the states track their progress.
Eurasia Group: India is the fifth-biggest geopolitical risk of 2020
India under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi is one of the world’s top geopolitical risks for 2020 stated the report released by Eurasia Group.
- According to the report Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has spent much of his second term to promote the controversial social policies, including the revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir through an Act, at the expense of an economic agenda.
- The report also highlighted that the impacts will be seen in the form of intensified communal and sectarian instability, foreign policy and economic setbacks in the year 2020.
- Elections in the US topped the list of the biggest geopolitical risk in 2020 followed by events and developments like the US-China technology tug of war on 5G and the trade war between China and the US.
About Eurasia Group:
- It is one of the United States’ most influential risk assessment companies founded in 1998 by Ian Bremmer.
- It has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, and Singapore.
Cyber Crime Prevention Unit “Cyber AASHVAST” launched in Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Amit Shah, Home Minister launched the country’s first Cyber Crime Prevention Unit “Cyber AASHVAST” in Gandhinagar on January 11, 2020.
- The Video Integration and State Wide Advance Security project called VISWAS was also launched along with AASHVAST.
- With the help of VISWAS and NETRANG, the Cyber AASHVAST unit will monitor, prevent and control cyber-crimes in the state
- There will be an exclusive online portal under the AASHVAST unit that will have dedicated service helpline for victims of cyber-crimes.
- Control rooms in 33 districts of Gujarat will be established under the unit.
- According to NCRB, in India, the cyber-crimes have almost doubled between 2016 and 2017.
- I4C (Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre) was launched by GoI. The government also established the Cyber and Information Security Security Division (C&IS). The C&IS implemented NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid), NISPG (National Information Security Policy) that connects databases of security agencies operating under GoI.
- The National Information Security Policy aims at the protection of information in cyberspace. It elaborates security concepts and best security practices to be implemented. These practices will be made mandatory for the ministries to implement in order to protect government data.
Purvodaya to be launched by GoI to accelerate Eastern India Development
On 11 January 2020, the Ministry of steel in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and JPC organized the launch of Purvodaya-Accelerated Development of Eastern Region through an Integrated Steel hub. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel launched the hub at the Oberoi Grand Kolkata, West Bengal.
- Purvodaya is in line with the Prime Minister’s Vision for the focused development of the Eastern States.
- It will be a world-class steel hub and would contribute to socio-economic development in the Eastern region of India.
- Steel capacity addition will lead to an incremental GSDP of >$35 bn through steel alone and will entail capital investments of >$70 Bn.
- Over 2.5 Million jobs will be generated due to the growth of the steel industry in the region.
- The development of logistics and utility infrastructure will accelerate the development of other manufacturing industries across many sectors in the state.
- Other social infrastructure like cities, schools, hospitals, skilling centers, etc will also be built in association with the hub.
- The hub will play an important role in the socio-economic development of Eastern India and reduce the disparity between the East and other regions of the country.
- The Eastern States like Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Northern Andhra Pradesh are very rich in coking coal, bauxite and dolomite reserves and also have major ports such as Haldia, Paradip, Kolkata, and Vizag. So, establishing a steel hub in the region will help India achieve its 5 trillion-dollar economy target fast.
- The eastern region also has the potential to add 75% of the country’s incremental steel capacity.
Top Current Affairs for 10th January 2020
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas observed on January 9
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was observed on January 9, 2020, to recognize the contribution of Indians staying overseas. This day was first observed in 2003 with an aim to promote unity among Indian diaspora living abroad and also to mark the contribution of overseas Indians.
- The Ministry of External Affairs organizes this event, where the Confederation of the Indian Industry sponsors this event.
- January 9 has been chosen to celebrate Pravasi Bharatiya Divas because, on this day in 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa.
- The day was declared biennial in 2015.
- This day provides a platform for NRIs to express their views about India and be a part of Indian developmental activities.
- The day also aims at creating a network of NRIs in all countries and connecting the younger generation living overseas with their roots so that they shall contribute to the development of the country.
- An award known as Pravasi Bharatiya Samman is also presented by the President of India to honor exceptional NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) for their contribution towards the nation.
India-Germany inks MoU on Zero Budget Natural Farming
With an aim to implement Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), the Andhra Pradesh Government inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a German firm.
- A loan of Rs 1015 crores will be taken by the Andhra Pradesh government to spend towards climate-resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming.
- 2.39 lakh farmers in 600 villages will be covered under the project.
- The budget presentation of 2019 included this project.
About Zero Budget Natural Farming
- Zero Budget Natural Farming is a chemical-free agricultural farming practice.
- ZBNF has been promoted by the Indian government under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana since 2015-16.
- As per the Economic Survey that was done in 2018, around 1.6 lakh farmers are practicing Zero Budget Natural Farming in over 1000 villages.
- Karnataka was the first state to adopt Zero Budget Natural Farming.
- Andhra Pradesh in 2018 introduced a plan of 100% of natural farming in the state by 2024.
- In India–Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala are practicing ZBNF.
- Zero Budget Natural Farming can be used to grow all crops in all agro-climatic zones.
- Presently, ZBNF methods on wheat and basmati are being researched by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
World Bank releases its Global Economic Prospect
The World Bank on 9 January 2020, released its Global Economic Prospect. According to it, the growth rate of the world is expected to be 2.5%. This is the lowest prediction since 2008-09 when it was predicted at 3.1% i.e. when the global financial crisis derailed the economy.
- According to the report, the trade and investment in the countries are expected to recover. But, the downward risks from 2019 are to continue.
- The advanced economies’ growth rate will slip by 1.4% as the manufacturing sector continues to soften.
- According to the forecast, growing markets in most of the developing economies are to witness acceleration in their growth.
- About one-third of developing countries is expected to decelerate this year.
- The growing economies are located in South and South-East Asia
- South Asia’s growth rate is expected to rise by 5.5% in 2020.
- India’s growth rate according to the report is 5% in 2020 and 5.5 % in the subsequent year.
- The credit from non-banking companies is expected to weaken.
- The growth rate of the United States is expected to grow at 1.8% and the European Union is projected to slip its growth by 1% in 2020.
First Scientific Experiment in Indian Pompano fish cultivation
The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) on January 8, 2020, has developed a viable scientific method to cultivate Indian Pompano fish in ponds. The National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) provided financial assistance for the scientific invention. It is for the first time in India that a scientific experiment has been done on the cultivation of Pompano fish.
- Cultivation of Indian Pompano in ponds will provide a good alternative to shrimp.
- Once the experiment of CMFRI of cultivating Indian Pompano in ponds is successful, Pompano fish will be officially cultivated in ponds of Visakhapatnam.
- 750 grams of meat per fish in open ponds and 1 kg in cages have been recorded in this scientific experiment. Also, the survival of fish is recorded at 95%.
- 3 tonnes per acre yield and a profit of 25% to 30% of input cost per acre have been obtained by the method.
- Indo-Pacific region is commonly the home to Pompano fishes.
- China, Vietnam, USA, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the countries that widely cultivate the fish.
- Pompano is cultivated through Open sea Cage Farming and earthen pond freshwater farming in India.
- The survival rates of open sea cage farming and freshwater farming are 72% and 32% respectively.
The GOI releases the Year-End Review report of Energy Sector in the Country
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy released its year-end review on January 9, 2020. The report says that over 150 GW of renewable energy has been installed so far in India.
- Approximately 17 lakh solar-powered agricultural pumps were installed under the KUSUM initiative.
- Under the Phase II of Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Programme, 40,000 MW of Rooftop solar power target was set.
- 1440 MW of Wind-Solar capacity was installed under the Wind-Solar capacity hybrid policy.
- A target to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 was set by GoI in 2015 which includes 60 GW from wind, 100 GW from solar, 5 GW from small hydropower and 10 GW from solar. The Union government had set up the Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Parks (UMREPP) under the Solar Park Scheme to achieve these targets.
- India pledged that 40% of installed power will be from non-fossil fuel by 2030.
- India had set a target to reduce the emission intensity of GDP by 33 to 35% as compared to the 2005 level.
Top Current Affairs for 9th January 2020
An Agreement inked between India and Mongolia for outer space cooperation approved by the Cabinet
An agreement inked between India and Mongolia for exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful and civilian purposes was approved by the Union Cabinet on 8 January 2020. The agreement was signed between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Mongolia was signed at New Delhi on 20 September 2019. The cabinet was chaired by PM Narendra Modi.
- As per the agreement, the countries shall extend cooperation in research in the field of space science and technology, and applications including satellite communication and satellite-based navigation, remote sensing of the earth, use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system, Space science and planetary exploration, and application of space technology.
- A Joint Working Group consisting of members of ISRO/DOS and Communications and Information Technology Authority of the Government of Mongolia to work out a plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this agreement.
Relationship between India-Mongolia
- India and Mongolia share a close relationship. Mongolia has rich deposits of coal, gold, copper, molybdenum, tin, fluorspar, tungsten and tin. India is interested in developing trade with the country. PM Modi visited the country in 2015 and announced a 1 billion USD grant to the country. It was the first time in the history of India that any PM visited Mongolia.
- India exported 51.6 million USD of goods to Mongolia and imported goods with 1 million USD in 2018.
Pedro Sanchez top will be the new Prime Minister of Spain
Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez top was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Spain on 7 January 2020.
About Pedro Sanchez:
- Pedro Sanchez bagged 167 votes in the 350-seat Assembly while the Catalan and Basque separatist MPs managed to bag 165 votes.
- Pedro Sanchez still lacks a majority and is planning to form a minority coalition government with hard-left party Podemos.
- Spain will witness the first coalition government since the country returned to democracy after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
- Last year, two national elections were held in Spain, one in April and another in November. Sanchez’s Socialists won both, but each time without a parliamentary majority.
CCI report on E-Commerce Market of India
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on January 8, 2020, released its report on “Market Study on E-Commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations. CCI started the market research for this report was started in April 2019. The report states that the primary reason for the fast growth of the E-Commerce sector in the country is the increase in the number of internet users. Internet users have increased from 445.96 million in 2017 to 665.31 million in 2019.
- The growth of revenue from the E-Commerce sector is at a rate of 51%.
- In the E-Commerce sector, the number of online transactions was 1 to 1.2 million per day in July 2018.
- There was a 90% rise in the delivery marketplaces in the food industry between 2016 and 2019. The food industry is no longer only prominent in the metro, it is growing in non-metro cities as well.
- There is a 16% growth in online travel booking since 2016.
- In India, the E-Commerce Sector came into existence in 2009. But, it is in the year 2014 that the sector gained momentum. 3,500 million USD investment was held by the sector in 2017, the sector. India had 4757 E-commerce start-ups in 2019.
- The report also made a few suggestions that information symmetry should be reduced and more transparency should be there to increase competition among the stakeholders.
- A transparent policy should be set up on the data collection of customers, product rating policies.
India’s MoUs with UK, Sweden, and BMGF approved by the Cabinet
The Union Cabinet, on January 8, 2020, approved MoU’s India had signed with Sweden, United Kingdom, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
About MoU between India-Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
- An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Health and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2019 to strengthen the health sector of the country.
- According to the MoU, the focus was laid on reducing morbidity, child and maternal mortality and neonatal mortality.
- Emphasis was laid on to reduce the burden of diseases such as Lymphatic Filariasis, Visceral Leishmaniasis, and TB.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will also help in improving the quality of family planning methods. An ex-post facto approval for the project was given by the cabinet which means the project has already been started.
About MoU between India-Sweden:
- An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Ministry of Education and Research signed Mou in December 2019.
- As per the MoU, both countries will work on Polar Science.
- Both the countries agreed on polar exploration as they are both signatories of Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection and Antarctic Treaty.
About MoU between India-UK:
- An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Railway and the UK Government to make Indian Railways self-sufficient in energy.
- As per the MoU, both countries will adopt energy-efficient practices and will work towards adopting solar and wind energy.
- The UK Government will provide help in the deployment of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.
- The UK Government will also aid in conducting pieces of training, workshops, and technological exchanges on emerging technologies on renewable energy.
LIGO detects the Second Merger of Neutron Stars
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves due to the collision of two neutron stars. Gravitational waves are being detected for the second time.
- The neutron stars detected is expected to have a mass of 3.3 times and 3.7 times that of the sun. The combined mass of both the neutron stars is the heaviest of the stars known so far.
- According to the scientists, the neutron stars were drifted together to form a star pair but originally they were formed separately.
- The neutron stars were at a distance of 520 million light-years from the earth.
- The first neutron star was detected in 2017.
- The neutron stars detected now are not as strong as the first.
- Three gravitational wave detectors at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford are operated by LIGO. They are located 3,000 km apart in the shape of ‘L’.
- In India, LIGO is to come up in Maharashtra with an aim to locate gravitational waves caused by exploding stars, black holes, merging neutron stars. LIGO will detect these waves and analyze the information that they carry. This will help to learn about the universe and its origin.
Indian Army starts work on GOCO Model
The Indian Army has started its work based on the Government Owned Contractor Operated model. The model will mark the potential industry partners for its base workshops and ordnance depots intended to improve operational efficiency.
- A Request For Information (RFI) was also issued by the army to shortlist service providers with experience in warehousing, logistics and supply chain management for Central Ordnance Depot (COD), Kanpur.
- With an aim to drive higher operational efficiencies, the Army’s Master General of Ordnance (MGO) has started to evaluate the GOCO model for Army Base Workshops (ABWs).
- PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd. (PwC) has been hired as a consultant by the Indian Army to run the process and to hold conferences & consultations with the industry.
About GOCO Model:
- Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar (Retd.) committee recommended the GOCO model to enhance combat capability and re-balancing defense expenditure.
- The government has decided to disband two advance base workshops, one static workshop and four ordnance depots and eight ABWs are recommended to be corporatized on the GOCO model on the basis of the committee’s recommendations.
- The 8 ABS identified by the army is located in Agra, Delhi, Allahabad, Kankinara, Jabalpur, Meerut, Kirkee and Bengaluru.
Top Current Affairs for 8th January 2020
Effect of Automation on FDI flows study released by World Bank
The World Bank on January 6, 2020, released its study on how automation affects FDI flows in the world. According to the study, automation will definitely disrupt the flow of capital from rich countries to poor countries. On the contrary, if automation is adopted at the right time by poor countries it will help benefit them.
- Data on Foreign Direct Investment and industrial robot usages between 2004 and 2015 has been used for the study.
- According to the study between 2004 and 2015 High Income Countries witnessed the highest FDI outflows. The flow of FDI was calculated in terms of project announcements in low-income countries (LIC) and middle-income countries (MIC).
- During the period of project announcements, the middle-income countries and low-income countries saw the highest FDI inflows. Later, it reached a saturation level and began to decline.
- The automation process was measured in terms of the number of robots employed per 1000 employees throughout the study.
- The study also said that among all the sectors, electronic and automobile industries saw the maximum automation whereas textiles saw the least.
FDI flows from a High Income Country to a Low-income country reduced as automation increased. For a 10% increase in automation in High-Income Countries, the flow of FDIs into Low and Medium income countries increased by 5.5%. After a certain time, there was saturation in the inflows and it also started to decline in some cases.
GDP Growth Rate predicted as 5%
Central Statistics Office operating under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation, on January 7, 2020, released the first advance estimates of GDP number for the fiscal year 2020. The figures are in line with the predictions made by the Reserve Bank of India.
- For the year 2019-20, the GDP growth is estimated at 5% as against 6.8% in 2018-19.
- According to the report, the Decline in the growth of the manufacturing sector is the main cause of this deceleration.
- There was a 2% growth in the manufacturing sector in 2019-20 as compared to 6.9% in 2018-19.
- An 11-year drop in GDP growth was seen in the industrial sectors and the core sectors.
- Core industries in India include electricity, refineries, crude oil, coal, cement, electricity,natural gas,and fertilizers.
- The growth rate in the first two quarters is considered as a base of the estimates.
- There are four factors on which the first advance estimate is based namely advance estimates of crop production, the financial performance of specific firms in the first and second quarters, Index of Industrial Production IIP (of the month April-October, 2019), and accounts of the state and central governments.
- The second advance estimates will be released post Budget.
Meteorological Organisation’s State of Climate Report
The International Meteorological Organisation released its “State of Climate Report” for the year 2019 on January 7, 2020. The report stated that 1,659 lives have been claimed in India due to climate change in the year 2019. The report also said that since 1901, 2019 was the warmest year in India.
- Climate change was the main reason for the extreme weather events that occurred in the country in the year 2019 like cyclones, floods, heatwaves, cold waves, landslides, etc.
- There were 650 deaths reported in Bihar due to extreme weather events. Out of which 300 lost their lives in floods and 350 died due to heatwaves.
- Other states which witnessed the high number of deaths due to extreme weather conditions were Maharashtra, UP, Kerala, Rajasthan, and Karnataka.
- Longest cold wave duration of 18 days since 1902 was recorded in New Delhi.
- Indian seas witnessed 8 cyclonic storms. Out of which around 5 were formed in the Arabian sea. This was unusual as compared to the usual one per year.
- According to the report 850 lives were claimed due to heavy rains and 350 lives were claimed due to Heat waves that were stronger in North Eastern and western parts.
Government of India approves disaster relief fund to seven states
Disaster relief fund of Rs 5,908 crores has been approved by the Centre for UP, Assam, Karnataka, MP, Tripura, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. South West Monsoon rains caused floods and landslides and created havoc in these states.
- On January 6, 2020, a high-level committee working under the Home Ministry approved disaster relief funds from National Disaster Response Fund.
- The Government of India in 2019-20, released Rs 8.068.33 crores from its share from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
- Under the SDRF fund, the center contributes 75% of the fund and 25% is contributed by the state.
- NDRF before 2010 was known as National Calamity Contingency Fund. It was recommended by the 9th Finance Commission and established in 1990.
- The National Disaster Response Fund is defined under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and was established to supplement SDRF.
- This fund provides immediate relief funds for natural disasters and not as compensation for damage to properties or crop loss.
- Based on the guidelines released by the Union government in 2015, the National Executive Committee which operates under the National Disaster Management Authority decides on the expenses of the NDRF.
- The funds for NDRF is collected through cess levied on certain items, excise duties, customs duties. The budgetary allocations also contribute to the fund.
ISRO’s new satellite to help Gaganyaan crew
Indian satellites in low-earth orbits will be tracked by the Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS). This new satellite series will help to set up a communication system between the space assets of India.
- The IRDSS mission which will have more than two satellites will play a major role in India’s Human Space Flight Programme, Gaganyaan. It will help India to cover the entire mission right from its launch.
- Indian Data Relay Satellite System will play a vital role in India’s space station and space docking. It will also help distant expeditions of India to Mars, Moon, and Venus.
- The system will help in monitoring launches. T
- GSLV launchers will be used to launch the IDRSS.
- The weight of these satellites will be approx 2000 kg and these will be placed at an orbit of 36,000 km away from earth’s orbit.
- ISRO is planning to launch the first two IRDSS satellites by the end of 2020. These two satellites will precede the experimental mission of Gaganyaan that will carry humanoid dummies.
- With the current infrastructure present in India it will not be possible to monitor Gaganyaan 24/7 during the launch. Also, ISRO to make the tracking continuous has to create a number of ground stations or hire them globally. The IDRSS will solve this problem and will provide full time tracking for the mission.
- Russia and the US launched this technology in the 1970-80s to monitor their respective space stations.
Second National GST Conference of Central and State Tax Commissioners
The second National GST Conference and Central and State Commissioners were held on January 7, 2020. Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the Revenue Secretary of the Ministry of Finance chaired the conference. The aim of the conference was to streamline the Goods and Services Tax.
- A Committee of central and state officers will be formed to examine and implement measures that will help curb fraudulent refund claims.
- This Committee will design a Standard of Procedure which will come into operation by the end of January 2020.
- All major cases of fake imports, fraudulent refunds, and fake input credits will be investigated by the Investigation Wing of the Income Tax Department.
- In order to put a break to fraudulent IGST refund claims the foreign exchange remittances will be linked with IGST refund.
- The data between CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs), CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxation) and GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network) will now be shared on a quarterly basis. Earlier this data was shared annually.
- Presentations were made by the Central Tax Zone office of Vadodara and Mumbai made on the best practices being followed by them that helped them in revenue augmentation at the conference.
- The tax officers from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat also gave presentations on their successful implementation of the GST act.
Top Current Affairs for 7th January 2020
Massive Human Space Flight Centre launched by ISRO in Challakere
ISRO has proposed an infrastructure plan worth INR 2,700 crores to build the Human Space Flight Infrastructure Centre on NH-4 Bengaluru-Pune Highway at Challakere, Chitradurga district of Karnataka. The announcement was made on the 6th of January 2020. ISRO is planning to make the facility operational in three years.
- Currently, the Indian astronauts part of the Human Spaceflight Programme of ISRO -The Gaganyaan Mission, are being trained at RUSSIA. But, with the establishment of this center, which will have all modern amenities to train the astronauts, ISRO is planning to start a self-contained training facility.
- ISRO is also aiming to centralize the works of the Human Spaceflight Programme that are presently bifurcated across various centers like Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, UR Rao Satellite Centre, Bengaluru, and Institute of Aerospace Medicine of Air Force.
- If India succeeds in the Gaganyaan mission, it will become the fourth country to send humans into space. The US, Russia, and China have already succeeded in this mission. To achieve this, Ready to eat foods are also being prepared at DFRL (Defence Food Research Laboratory).
- Challakere-The Science City is situated at 400 km from Bengaluru. It accommodates the facilities of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, ISRO. DRDO’s Advanced Aeronautical Test Range and Indian Institute of Science.
Zo Kutpui Festival will be celebrated in Mizoram
Zo Kutpi festival will be celebrated by the Mizoram government in 10 states across India and in foreign countries such as the US, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
- Vanghmun in Tripura will witness the first edition of the festival on January 9, 2020.
- This festival will continue for three days at Tripura.
- After that, the festival will be moving to different states where the Mizo population is there.
- According to the Mizoram government, this festival will help unify and strengthen the bond among various Mizo tribes living in different parts of the world.
- Zoramthanga, chief minister of Mizoram would grace the event at Vanghmun.
- Robert Romawia Royte, the tourism Minister would be the chief host of the festival.
- Various cultural programs by different Mizo tribes, besides performance by various artistes belonging to Zo ethnic tribes of Mizoram and the Northeast, will be there at the event.
About Mizo Tribes:
- Mizo population in India is found in Manipur, Tripura, and Mizoram.
- Pawi-Lusei, Tlau, Khiangte, Hualhnam, Lai, Phaite, Renthlei, Hmar, Chawngthu, Pang, Ralte and Hualngo are the few Mizo clans identified.
CISF to observe the year 2020 as Year of Mobility
The year 2020 will be observed as “Year of Mobility” for the welfare of the troops by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The CISF in 2020 will focus on the implementation of welfare measures and the creation of residential units.
- CSIF in the year 2020 will focus on the construction of infrastructure for their families.
- Emphasis will also be laid on sports and physical fitness leveraging modern gadgetry.
- CSIF plays an important role in the security of civil airports, nuclear power stations, mines, thermal power stations and also plays a vital role in disaster management. In the private domain so it is necessary that it should be well versed and equipped with modern equipment.
- There is a separate wing in the CISF which deals with fire emergencies.
- Central Industrial Security Force, which operates under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs was first established under the CISF Act, 1968. In 1983, there was an amendment in the act and it was changed to armed forces.
- With more than 1,65,000 soldiers employed, it is the largest security force in the world.
- National Industrial Security Academy and six recruit training centers are there to train CISF personnel.
Fifth Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference is being organized at Pune
Pune is hosting the fifth Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference and is to be held between January 6, 2020, and January 10, 2020. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research organized this conference.
- The conference is held twice a year.
- The conference provides a platform for the Drosophila researchers in the region of Asia-Pacific to connect and interact with each other.
- This is the largest conference of Drosophila researchers in the whole world.
About Research on Drosophila:
- Drosophila which is commonly known as the fruit fly has been a model organism in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and developmental biology researchers for Scientists and Researchers for the past 100 years.
- This fly is used in genome research because there are many similarities between fruit fly and humans such as both the genres pass on the traits to successive generations in a similar way.
- The density of genes per chromosomes in Drosophila is 15,500 genes on four chromosomes which is higher than that of humans which has 22,000 genes in 23 chromosomes. So, the passage of traits throughout generations is much higher in these flies and ideal for genetic studies.
A report on sugar intake of India released by ICMR
A report on sugar intake of India was released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on January 5, 2020.
- A first of its kind survey was conducted by ICMR, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad and International Life Science Institute of India to study the sugar intake of India. The report is based on this survey.
- The intake was measured in grams per day.
- According to the study intake of added sugar is 19.5 grams per day in metro cities which is lower than the level recommended by ICMR which is 30 gram per day.
- The overall intake of sugar by women was 20.2 g/day which is more than that of men that were 18.7 g/day.
- According to report people belonging to the older age group take more sugar than that of the younger population.
- Survey on sugar consumption-based in literacy level, community, activity status, the occupation was also done in the study.
National Stock Exchange Knowledge Hub powered by AI inaugurated in New Delhi
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) knowledge Hub was inaugurated by Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry on 6th January 2020 at New Delhi. This Hub will create content for learners from many external, internal, and premium sources for the personalized learning experience.
- The hub equipped with the latest technology of Artificial Intelligence will assist insurance, banking, and financial services.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the main points for India to become a 1 trillion-dollar economy by 2035 and this hub is one step forward to that.
- The learning modules in the hub are designed to help in understanding the stock exchange and it’s functioning better.
- This knowledge hub will help in affordable skill up-gradation and creates an adequate workforce.
- India is the second-largest Fintech hub in the world and this hub will help NSE further aid India’s progress.
- According to Itihaasa, a RESEARCH AGENCY, India ranks third in Artificial Intelligence. China stands first with 37,918 research on AI followed by the US with 32,421 research. India holds 12,135 research documents on AI.
Iran completely withdraws from the JCPOA deal
Iran has fully withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. The announcement was made on January 5, 2020, after the US troops killed General Qassem Soleimani.
- According to the JCPOA deal, Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.
- UN and several other organizations found that Iran was compliant with the agreement. However, the US was insistent on withdrawing from the agreement.
- According to the United States, the JCPOA gives Iran access to billions of dollars. But, it does not stop Iran from supporting the groups mainly Hamas and Hezbollah, that the US and its allies consider terrorists.
- The US walked off this deal in 2018, but the other countries involved in the deal such as Russia, China, European Union, France, Germany, and the UK kept the agreement alive.
About Hamas and Hezbollah:
- Hamas, a Sunni-Islamic militant organization was founded in 1987.
- It has fought several wars against the US, Israel, and the European Union.
- Countries that were supporting Hamas were China, Russia, and Turkey.
- Hezbollah was founded in the 1980s and is currently a proxy of Iran in the ongoing Iran-Israel conflict.
Top Current Affairs for 6th January 2020
First ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’ announced by the government
The first ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’ for media houses has been announced by the government. 30 media houses will be conferred with this award on January 7, 2020, by Prakash Javadekar, Information and Broadcasting Minister. The aim behind conferring this award is to recognize the role of media in the outreach of Yoga in the world.
- To recognize the role media played in spreading the message among masses, these awards were instituted in June 2019.
- Out of 30, 11 awards will be given under the Best Media Coverage category of Yoga in Newspapers, 8 awards will be given under the category of “Best Media Coverage of Yoga on Television,11 awards will be given under the category “Best Media Coverage of Yoga in Radio.
- A medal, plaque, trophy, and a citation will be given to the winners.
- A jury of 6 members, headed by Justice C. K. Prasad, Chairman, Press Council of India, assessed the entries for the award.
- On December 11, 2014, International Yoga Day, was recognized by the United Nations when a proposal was approved by 177 member countries and on June 21, 2015, the first International Yoga Day was celebrated.
AK-203 assault rifles: India Russia to ink MoUs
An MoU will be inked by The Indian Army with Russia to procure AK-203 assault rifles. As per the deal, around 1 lakh rifles are to be procured directly from Russia and the rest will be made in India. As of now, the Indian Army is armed with INSAS rifles.
- Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, a joint venture of India and Russia will manufacture the rifles in Korwa district of Uttar Pradesh.
- India will hold the majority of shares (50.5%) in IRRPL while Russia will hold a 49.5% stake in the JV.
- India also signed a contract with the US in February 2019 for procuring SIG-716. The first batch of 10,000 SIG -716 has already been received by India.
- The front line troops will be armed with the SIGs and remaining troops will have AK-203.
- The current rifles used by Indian Army ( INSAS ) is a light machine gun manufactured at Ordnance Factory Trichy, Ishapore Arsenal, and Kanpur
- Indian Army is using this rifle since 1990.
Kochi to host Global Marine Ecosystem Meet “MECOS-3, 2020”
The third synopsis of Global Marine Ecosystem Meet, MECOS (Marine Ecosystems-Challenges and Opportunities ) will be hosted by Kochi. Marine Biological Association of India will conduct the symposium between January 7, 2020, and January 10, 2020.
- The meet will be attended by Scientists, Fisheries researchers, Marine biotechnologists and oceanographers from all over the world.
- Discussion on climate crisis, unusual warming of the Arabian Sea, ocean acidification, will be held at the synopsis.
- The synopsis will act as a platform to discuss the development of small-scale fisheries, green fishing technologies, and eco-labeling.
- Also, the concerns of the marine ecosystem will be reviewed during the meet and new strategies will be developed for sustainable utilization of marine wealth.
- This meet plays an important role because billions of people rely on oceans for their jobs and food.
- The focus of the symposium will be on the Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations, SDG-14.
Uptake of carbon dioxide in the ocean has led to Ocean acidification which has changed the chemical composition of the seawaters. According to the UN, over the past 3 decades, acidity has increased by 26%. Measures to correct this will be formulated in the synopsis.
Agricultural Action Plan finalized by eight states to boost Exports
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) on January 5, 2020, announced that eight states namely Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka have finalized their plan of action to boost agricultural exports.
- In December 2018, with an aim to double the country’s agriculture exports to 60 billion USD dollar from 30 billion USD by 2022 the Agricultural Export Policy was introduced in December 2018.
- Product clusters at various cities were visited by the Nodal Officers of the APEDA to check if the policy implementation and their plans are effective.
- Jalandhar (Potato), Sangli (Grapes), Salem (Poultry products), Theni (Banana). Chittoor (Mango) and several other places were selected as the product clusters.
- Market intelligence cells are being operated by the states under the guidance of APEDA, these cells report the activity of e-market intelligence, international trade issues and also about the current scenario of exporters and statistical information.
- APEDA and the National Cooperative Development Corporation have inked MoUs to include co-operatives in implementing the Agricultural Export Policy.
- The agreement has been signed by Over 800 Farmer Producer Organizations.
National Pension Scheme for traders
The Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-Dhan Yojana also known as the National Pension Scheme for traders, Shopkeepers, and Self-Employed persons were launched in July 2019. The aim behind launching this policy was to provide pension benefits to 3 crore, small traders and shopkeepers.
- The target set up by the government was around 50 lakh enrollment by March 2020.
- But, as of today, only 25,000 persons have applied for the scheme.
- Uttar Pradesh with 6,765 registration is on the top of the list, while Mizoram and Lakshadweep have 0 registrations.
About the scheme:
- Ministry of Labour and Employment is the implementing body of the scheme.
- The person applying for the scheme should not be an income taxpayer.
- People with more than 40 lakhs of income per annum need to have a GSTIN number.
- The subscriber after the age of 60 of the scheme will receive INR 3000 monthly as a pension under the scheme.
- People aged between 18-40 years are eligible to apply to the scheme.
Top Current Affairs for 4th & 5th January 2020
I-Stem portal launched at the Indian Science congress
107th Indian Science Congress was 107th Indian Science Congress by PM Modi on January 3, 2020, in Bangalore. I-Stem, Indian Science, Technology Engineering Facilities Map portal was also launched by him at the inaugural function.
- The 107th Indian Science Congress is being held from January 3-7, 2020 at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- The theme of 107th Indian Science Congress is “Science and Technology: Rural Development”
- The aim of the 107th Indian Science Congress is to bridge the gap between farmer and tech-developers.
- I-STEM portal will help researchers and users to locate and make an online reservation to use the facilities that are required for their research and development work.
- Earlier, a similar facility called the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) was operating at IISc Bengaluru. The I-STEM portal is inspired by it.
DRDO at the Expo
- DRDO laboratories have put both outdoor and indoor exhibits at the Expo.
- ASLESHA, ASTRA missile, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM), Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LRSAM), Bharani, autonomous surveillance robots are some of the outdoor exhibits and Indoor exhibits include Prithvi missiles, NAG missiles, Akash, Helina, Nirbhay, Bukhari,
- In total 150 exhibits were showcased by 31 DRDO laboratories in the expo.
21.4% of forest cover prone to forest fires says FSI
India State of Forest Report, 2019 has been recently released by The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The report mainly focuses on forest cover and forest fires in the country.
- The forest survey started in 1981. Earlier, the Pre-investment Survey of Forest Resources (PISFR) supported by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) was done.
- After studying on fire points identified between 2004 and 2017 the report says that around 21.4% of Indian forests are prone to forest fires.
- Central India and north-eastern India’s forest are most prone to forest fire.
- A total of 29,547 fire alerts were issued between November 2018 and June 2019.
- Mizoram recorded the highest number of forest fires alerts.
- slash and burn cultivation (Jhoom Cultivation) are among the main reason for the increased number of alerts in the northeastern region.
- According to the report, the overall forest cover of the country has increased. But, the forest cover in the northeast region has gone down.
Lai Haraoba Festival begins in Tripura
A five-day festival celebrated by the Meitei community, Lai Haraobal began in Tripura from January 2, 2020. Meitei community is spread across Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. However, in most of the regions, this festival is observed in the month of May.
- This festival is celebrated by Meitei people to please sacred trees called “Umang Lai”.
- Rebati Mohan Das, Speaker of state legislative Assembly inaugurated the five-day-long festival.
- The aim of the festival is to uphold the tradition and cultural values of the Meitei community.
- Music, dance and oral literature rituals are practiced during the Lai Haraobal festival.
- A cultural troupe from Manipur will be performing various traditional and cultural musical skits, including Manipuri martial arts, folk music, and folk dances during the festival.
Turtle Rehab Centre in Bihar
A turtle rehabilitation Centre is to be set up in the Bhagalpur forest region in Bihar in January 2020. The center will spread over half a hectare and will provide shelter to more than 500 turtles.
- Sick and severely injured turtles, rescued from smugglers will be provided shelter in this rehabilitation center.
- With the help of the rehab center, the forest officials will be able to monitor the rescued turtles before releasing them into rivers.
- Bhagalpur has been chosen for this rehabilitation center because the turtles in this region weigh up to 15 kilograms and are always in the eye of the smugglers.
- Also, the large flow of water in River Ganga in Bhagalpur and large number of sandbanks in the region are an ideal breeding ground for the turtles.
- According to a report by the National Mission for Clean Ganga and WII (Wildlife Institute of India), the turtles in the region are under great threat due to habitat fragmentation due to dams and barrages, illegal poaching, pollution, accidental drowning in fishing nets. Therefore, it is essential to save such life threatened turtles and release them back to the river in the right season.
- According to a study of Traffic India, around 11,000 turtles are smuggled for their meat, for pet trade from India every year. These turtles are exported to China, Japan, and southeast Asia.
ISRO signs pact to set up optical Telescope under Project NETRA
A pact has been signed between the Indian Space Research Organization and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics under “Project NETRA” to establish an optical telescope. ISRO has also tied up with NIT-Karnataka to set up a regional academic centre for space to promote research and development.
- ISRO in September 2019 launched the Project NETRA.
- Observational facilities that will make early warnings to satellites about debris and hazards in their orbit will be set up by the ISRO under this project. Radars, telescopes, control centers, and data processing units will be set up for this.
- ISRO’s aim behind this project is to make the facilities powerful enough to track even the smallest particle of 10 cm diameter up to a range of 3,400 km.
- India currently operates 13 remote sensing satellites,15 communication satellites, and eight navigation satellites. This project will help Indian satellites to detect debris in their orbit.
About Space Debris
Space debris is among the biggest problem faced by the satellite sector. Around 7,500 tonnes of space debris including screws of old rockets is circling the earth at present. These junks pose collision hazard to satellites.
Top Current Affairs for 3rd January 2020
New Delhi to host the World Book Fair, 2020
New Delhi will host the 42nd World Book Fair which is to be held between January 4, 2020, and January 12, 2020. The fair is being conducted by the National Book Trust which is operated under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
“Readers with Special Needs” will be the theme of the 2020 World Bookfair.
- It is expected that around 800 national exhibitors and 40 foreign exhibitors will participate in the fair.
- The fair is a gateway to the intellectual world of South Asia.
- The fair provides support to the book markets of neighboring countries and also promotes readership policies.
- India with around 12,000 English publishers ranks the third-largest market for English publications.
- Investors from foreign countries like Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, USA, Japan, France, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Germany, and Sri Lanka will also participate in the fair.
About National Book Trust:
National Book Trust is an Indian Publishing House established in 1957 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It works under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. This publishing house publishes books and reading material in various Indian languages including children’s books and new-literates.
Palau bans sunscreen to Protect Coral Reefs
Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands in the western Pacific Region becomes the first country to ban sun cream because it is hazardous to corals. The country has also banned oxybenzone, oxybenzone, ethylparaben, Octinoxate, Butylparaben, Octocrylene, Methyl benzylidene camphor, triclosan, benzyl paraben, methylparaben, phenoxyethanol which are common ingredients used in cosmetics.
- The decision was taken in the year 2018 but it came into effect from January 1, 2020.
- The Rock Islands located in Palau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- After Palau, Hawaii in the US has also decided to introduce such bans which will be implemented in 2021.
- Some other states like the Virgin Islands, Dutch Carribean Islands have also planned to introduce such bans to protect Coral Reefs.
Why is sun cream harmful to corals?
The sun creams make corals susceptible to bleaching by absorbing UV radiation. According to reports around 6 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen is washed into reefs per year.
The year 2020 Designated as “Year of Nurse and Midwife”
The World Health Organization on the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale has designated the year 2020 as the “Year of Nurse and Midwife”.
- To achieve Universal Health coverage World Health Organization in 2020 will focus on nursing and midwifery.
- A unique report known as the World Nursing Report is also being developed by the WHO.
- The release of the report is planned prior to the 73rd session of WHO which is to be held in Geneva between February 3 and 8, 2020.
- WHO is also a partner of The State of the World’s Midwifery Campaign.
About Florence Nightingale:
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 and was an English Social reformer. During the Crimean war, she was the manager of nurses and she conducted camps for wounded soldiers. She was also known as “The Lady with the Lamp” because she used to make rounds and look after wounded soldiers in the night also. In her honor, the International Nurse Day is also celebrated on May 12 every year by the International Council of Nurses.
Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh
The birth anniversary of 10th Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated across India on January 2, 2020. Guru Gobind Singh was born on January 5, 1666.
About Guru Gobind Singh:
- Guru Gobind Singh was the son of the ninth Sikh Guru Bahadur. At the age of 9, he was made the 10th Guru after his father was beheaded for not following Islam.
- The Mughals killed Guru Gobind Singh’s sons.
- Sikh Warrior community known as Khalsa was founded by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
- He introduced “Panj Kakar” also known as the five Ks in Sikhism., They are an iron bracelet (kara), uncut hair (Kesh), iron dagger (Kirpan), 100% cotton undergarment (Kuchera) and a wooden comb (Kangha).
- Dasam Granth, the holy Granth of Sikhism is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh.
In 1469 Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru founded Sikhism. There was a total of 10 Gurus in Sikhism. .Guru Gobind Singh was the last guru of Sikhism. Dasam Granth, the holy text is now the living Guru for the followers of Sikhism.
‘Cyber Safe Women’ initiative launched by the Maharashtra Government
On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, an Indian social reformer the Maharashtra government on January 3, 2019, launched a ‘cyber safe women’ campaign across the state.
- The aim behind launching this initiative is to spread awareness regarding the laws regarding cybercrime and also to educate the common public towards the atrocities committed against women and children.
- The state government along with the state’s cyber cell and Directorate General of Information and Public Relations will organize awareness camps all over Maharashtra on the issue of cyber safety.
- Maharashtra government will also conduct lectures on cybercrime information.
- Cybercrime such as cyberbullying, internet phishing, fraud identity on marriage site, bank fraud, photo shuffling, child pornography, online gaming, false information sites, cyber defamation information and the use of social media will be covered under the campaign.
- The lectures will be imparted by police representatives, district ministers, government officials, school and college students, NGOs, Anganwadi Sevaks and members of the Women’s Vigilance Committee.
- Women and children across the state will be invited to participate in the campaign.
Guwahati to host Khelo India Youth Games
The third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games will be held in Guwahati, Assam between February 10, 2020, and February 22, 2020. The Games are conducted annually.
- Khelo India Youth Games event is conducted every year in which national-level multidisciplinary grass-root level games are organized.
- The games are conducted in two categories. The first category is of under-17-year school students and the Second category consist of under-21-year college students.
- 1000 kids are awarded an annual scholarship of Rs 5,00,000 under the scheme to prepare for international sporting events
- The event will be held in 20 disciplines.
- The first and second edition of the event was held in New Delhi and Pune respectively.
- Haryana topped the sporting event in 2018.
- Training of trainers program, a part of the Khelo India program is also organized semi-annually. Approx 160 trainers are trained under the event including principals, teachers and physical education trainers.
- In January 2018, the Khelo India Games was launched to imbibe a culture of sports in the country by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Top Current Affairs for 2nd January 2020
Violations against children, more than 1,70,000 cases- UNICEF Report
The annual report of UNICEF was released on 31st December 2019. According to the report, more than 170,000 serious offenses against children in areas under conflict have been documented since the start of the decade in 2010. The number of violations represents an average of 45 rights violations per day for the last 10 years.
- The report says that serious violations against children have increased more than 3- times since 2010.
- The countries going through conflict has been highest since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
- The number of armed conflicts is killing and making children disabled and forcing them out of their homes.
- In 2018, the UN verified more than 24,000 serious offenses against children, which included killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, child recruitment and attacks on schools and hospitals.
- The airstrikes and explosive weapons such as landmines, mortars, explosive devices, rocket attacks, and artillery shelling were the major reasons for causing child casualties in armed conflict.
- The report also states that 10,000 violations were reported from Syria, Ukraine, and Congo.
- The report made a serious note of more than 12,000 children being killed or disabled.
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 was signed by 140 countries. India has also signed the convention.
- As per the convention, any person under the age of 18 is defined as a child.
- The convention has set the political, social, economic, and cultural rights of children.
- The right to education and protection against violence or abuse are included in the convention.
India to be 4th largest economy in the world by 2026
UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in its report stated that by 2026. India will become the fourth-largest economy and third-largest by 2034. The CEBR report says that India will overtake Germany in 2026 and Japan in 2034 to become the third-largest economy.
- India is currently the fifth-largest economy in the world.
- The report by CEBR also alleged that India is likely to accomplish the target of achieving a gross domestic product (GDP) of $5 trillion by 2026.
- As per the report India has emphatically overtaken France and the United Kingdom to become the world’s fifth-largest economy in 2019.
- It is expected to overtake Germany to become the fourth-largest in 2026 as stated by CEBR in the report, which has been titled ‘World Economic League Table 2020.’
- The CEBR was founded in 1960 and was named the Bureau of Business Research.
- It is an independent agency that conducts economic predictions of many private and public organizations.
- CEBR works on economic policies and data analysis of these organizations.
- The agency had foretold that India will become the 5th largest economy in the world by 2020 and India hit this target in 2019 itself.
- CEBR is headquartered in Munich, Indiana.
Nuclear installations list shared between India and Pakistan
The list of nuclear installations and facilities have been shared between India and Pakistan. This deal is covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations signed between the two countries. This information was given by the External Affairs Ministry. The exchange was done concurrently employing the diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.
- This is the 27th exchange of such a list between the two countries after the first list was exchanged on 1 January 1992.
- This pact commands both the countries to inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement, the list has to be given on the first of January of every calendar year.
- This practice has been continuing for 29-years and remains unbroken.
- The two countries exchanged the list of their respective nuclear installations.
- The agreement that prohibits the two countries against attacking each other’s atomic installations was signed on 31st December 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991.
- The agreement was signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
MANI application for the visually challenged launched by RBI
Mobile Aided Note Identifier (MANI) was launched by the Reserve Bank of India, which is a mobile app to help the visually challenged to figure out the denomination of currency notes. The RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das launched the app on 1st January 2020. The RBI mobile app is to provide help to the visually impaired. The MANI app will work offline and also after being installed.
- It came to light that the visually challenged faced many issues in identifying the new currency notes which were released after demonetization in November 2016.
- The new currency notes which are of different denominations such as Rs 2000, Rs 500, Rs 200, Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10 including intaglio printing and with many changes in color, design, and sizes, and large numerical. These were posing problems to the visually challenged persons.
- The app seeks to remedy these issues for them.
- The user of the app can scan the currency note with the mobile phone camera and the audio system of the phone will give out the denomination.
- The languages used are both Hindi and English.
- The app can be used offline and also when it is installed in the Android device.
Rabi crop sowing witnesses increase by 36 lakh hectares
The Rabi crops sowing area has increased by 36 lakh hectares as on view in December 2019. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said the total area of Rabi crops is over 571 lakh hectares as compared to 536 lakh hectares last year. The tempo in Rabi sowing has picked up greatly with improved soil moisture in almost all Rabi growing states.
- The main rabi crops in India are wheat, mustard, barley, peas.
- Rabi crop is sown in winter months of October to December and harvested in summer April to June.
- Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, UP, and Jammu and Kashmir are the major rabi growing states.
- Western disturbances causing rain in winters is very conducive to the rabi crop.
- It ensures enough moisture in the soil for the sowing of seeds.
- The Agriculture Ministry releases estimates of crops and details of sowing happening in the country.
- This estimate is released twice a year in September for Kharif sowing and in February for Rabi sowing.
Swachh Survekshan League results for 2020 released
The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri launched ‘Swachh Survekhsan’ League 2020 on 31st December 2019. This will be interspersed with the fifth edition of ‘Swachh Survekshan’. This is the annual cleanliness survey to assess cities and towns of India on their cleanliness quotient. The performance and efforts of cities and ensure cleanliness and to monitor the progress, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has introduced Swachh Survekhsan (SS) league 2020.
- Indore remained the cleanest city for the third consecutive year in the more than 10 lakh population category.
- Bhopal was ranked second and Surat third place in the cleanliness quotient.
- A population of one lakh to ten lakh category Jamshedpur secured first place followed by New Delhi and Khargone.
- The survey takes into consideration wastewater treatment, fecal sludge management.
- The focus is also on how the ODF+ and ODF++ protocols are implemented as earmarked by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
- The idea to rank cities on their cleanliness was implemented to improve the state of Indian cities by generating competition among them.
- In the 1990s economic reforms were the basis of improving the overall look of towns and cities.
- This competition will ensure that the economic reforms and developmental activities are noticeable.
RPF renamed Protection Force for Indian Railways
The security force of the Indian Railways RPF (Railway Protection Force) has been renamed as Indian Railway Protection Force Service. This was done by the Indian Railways, and the ministry has given an organized Group A status to RPF and renamed it, as per an order issued on 30th December 2019.
- The RPF was first formed in 1854 when railways were under construction in India.
- It was legalized in 1861 under the Police Act.
- In 1872 Railway Police Committee decided on forming the RPF.
- The RPF Jawans have authorized to search or even arrest if they found something suspicious.
- The RPF works under the Government Railway Police and the Ministry of Railways.
- It was formed under the Railway Protection Force Act of 1957.
- The Government Railway Police (GRP)has patrolling duties and jurisdiction on railway property only. It was formed in 1989
- The GRP manages traffic in train stations, manage over-crowding of trains, etc.
- The Indian Railways has also announced a fare hike of one paise in non-suburban trains and non-air conditioned trains. The fares have been hiked by two paise per kilometer.
- The hike in fares was published by Indian Railway Conference Association.
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