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Current Affairs 2020

The value of Current Affairs in Civil Service Examinations is enormous. This is the most critical part of both Prelims and Mains Exam. Aspirants should study in depth to understand the significance of current affairs for the Union Public Service Commission. In fact, all the questions in Civil Service Exams are framed around current affairs. Questions are not asked directly for current news and information in the exam. Questions are framed by combining current affairs with practical knowledge. The primary motive behind this type of strategy is to check the ability of correlation a candidate can make to the fact.

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Why current affairs is more important in Civil Service Exam?

Success in Prelims and Mains Exam is directly related to an aspirant’s awareness in current affairs. Preparation of current affairs for UPSC is the key to unlock the exam. It requires practice and revision in a well-connected manner... In such a scenario the preparation of current affairs topics related to India and the world is an important part of your preparations. The students have to be aware of the happening in India and around the world as this portion is an integral part of the general studies paper.

In order to make you ready for the challenges of the Current Affairs preparation, we are covering the current affairs topics on a regular basis. Our current topics are categorised in such a way that it includes; political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, government's scheme and policies and international affairs.

We provide you comprehensive topics of preparation that covers not only India's current scenario but also international events. We also cover Indian news headlines and other important international events under the current affairs segment.

For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is current news and views in India, we are covering the current affairs 2020 on a regular basis. Our hot topics are categorised such that they include political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, current government affairs and international affairs. Only studying India's current scenario or political affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and affairs along with the Indian news space, as well as important and current events in the field of science and sports.


Current Affairs Feburary 16 to Feburary 22

Arts

Uttarakhand: Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Recently, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched the web portal of Shri Badrinath and Shri Kedarnath temple committee. Shri Badrinath and Shri Kedarnath temple Committee Chairman Mohan Prasad Thapliyal, Vice-President Ashok Khatri, Chief Executive Officer BD Singh were also present at the launch. The website will make it possible to have an easy access to information regarding Chardhaam tour from any part of the world. The web portal has been developed by Uttarakhand state National Informatics Centre. He also released Shri Badrinath and Kedarnath temple committee’s diary and calendar.

Kala Kumbh: It is an exhibition is to promote Geographical Indication (GI) crafts and heritage of India. Recently, On February 18, 2020, the Ministry of Textiles organized “Kala Kumbh” Handicrafts Thematic Exhibition in New Delhi. The exhibitions are planned in various major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. The exhibitions are sponsored by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).

The GI tag is used on handicrafts which correspond to a specific geographical location or origin (suc as a town, region, or a country). As of August 2019, 178 GI handicraft products were registered from all over India.

National Museum: The National Museum in New Delhi, also known as the National Museum of India, is one of the largest museums in India. It was established in 15 August 1949. The museum holds a variety of articles ranging from pre-historic era to modern works of art. It functions under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Recently, a unique exhibition on India’s ancient food history called "Historical Gastronomica - The Indus Dining Experience was held at the National Museum in New Delhi. It is A unique exhibition based on India’s ancient food history that goes back to over 5000 years ago. National Museum along with One Station Million Stories (OSMS) jointly organized the exhibition.

The evolution of food habits, food processing techniques and related architecture of the Harappans were demonstrated at the ‘Historical Gastronomica – The Indus Dining Experience’ exhibition. Recreation of food of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization by National Award-winning Chef Sabyasachi Gorai was one of the main attractions of this exhibition which is first of its kind in the country.

Matribhasha Diwas 2020: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) celebrated “Matribhasha Diwas” on february 21, 2020 across the country. the function was held in New Delhi where the Vice President Shri M Venkaih Naidu was the chief guest.

The theme for the year 2020 was “Celebrating our Multilingual Heritage”. The theme reflected the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.

MHRD along with educational institutions and language institutions has been celebrating the Matribhasha Diwas for the past three years. The celebration of Matribhasha Diwas on 21 Feb every year aims to promote the use of mother tongues and highlight the linguistic diversity of the country, while encouraging usage not only of the respective mother tongue but other Indian languages as well.

This day is celebrated globally as International Mother Language Day (IMLD). It is observed annually on February 21 since 2000 as a worldwide observance of UNESCO (United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The day creates awareness on linguistic, cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. The theme of IMLD for the year 2020 is “Languages without Border”.

The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day (IMLD) came from Bangladesh. A students movement in Dhaka, Bangladesh took place in 1952 where 4 students from Dhaka University namely Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Sofiur Rahman and Abdus Salam were gunned down by police, during their protest march demanding inclusion of ‘Bangla’ as one of the two national languages. The IMLD is celebrated to commemorate their sacrifice.

Economics

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. RBI recently, launched a National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (2019-24) to include all, particularly poor and underprivileged class, under formal access to finance - a key goal of the government. It is aimed at providing access to formal financial services in an affordable manner. It also aims to promote financial literacy among customers.

The strategy has been formulated by RBI after consultation with Securities Exchange Board of India(SEBI), Pension fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA) and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). The report has been ratified by Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FSDC).

The recommendations made by the committee are:

Universal Access to Financial Services

Access to Livelihood and Skill Development

Providing basic financial services

Financial Literacy and Education

Customer Protection and Grievance Redressal

Effective Co-ordination

Every adult registered under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana should be enrolled in pension scheme and insurance scheme.

Thai Mangur: It is also called the foreign Mangur or African Mangur. The walking catfish is a species of freshwater airbreathing catfish native to Southeast Asia and grows 3 feet to 5 feet. It prays on all kinds of life forms found in inland waterbodies except crocodiles. It is a danger to bio-diversity of water bodies and is also highly carcinogenic.

Recently, the Maharashtra Government has launched a special drive to destroy the cultivation centres of the exotic Thai Mangur fish. This step is being taken by the state government as Thai Mangur is cultivated in highly unhygienic conditions, which could lead to people falling sick after consuming it.

The National Green Tribunal in 2000 had banned the cultivation of the Thai Mangur. So far, the state government has destroyed stocks of some 32 tonnes of Thai Mangur in the state.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI): The RBI, which was established in April 1935, used to follow January-December as its accounting year before it was changed to July-June in March 1940.

Recently, the RBI decided to align its financial accounting year with that of the central government’s fiscal year with effect from 2020-21. The Fiscal Year begins in April and ends in March and the financial year is between July and June'.

The proposal was moved at the 582nd meeting of its Central Board of Directors in New Delhi. The move will help the central bank to do away with nearly eight decades of practice. The alignment was recommended by an expert committee led by Bimal Jalan.

Defence

IDSA: It refers to The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The IDSA was established as a registered society in New Delhi in 11 November 1965. It is India's foremost think tank for advanced research in international relations, especially defence, strategic and security issues, and providing training to civilian, military and paramilitary officers of the Indian government. It aims to promote national and international security by carrying out research on defence and security-related issues and disseminating the knowledge among the policy-makers and wider public. The current Director General is Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy.

The Government of India (GoI) recently, decided to rename IDSA as ‘Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses’. The decision was taken to honour late Manohar Parrikar, former defence minister and Padma Bhushan awardee. He was the Defence Minister from November 9, 2014 –March 14, 2017. He steered the Ministry through the tough challenges of attacks like Pathankot and Uri and responded to these with exemplary boldness. His “biggest” contribution was towards the implementation of long-standing One Rank One Pension (OROP) demand for the armed forces.

Dhanushkodi: Dhanushkodi is an abandoned town at the southern tip Pamban Island of the Tamil Nadu state of India. The town was completely destroyed by the Rameswaram Cyclone in 1964.

Recently, the Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya laid the foundation stone for a 50-metre high modern lighthouse at Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. The new lighthouse at Dhanushkodi will be the 5th lighthouse in the district after Pamban, Pasipattinam, Olakuda and Keelakarai.

The lighthouse will help to guide fishermen and will also act as tourist attraction. The Light house is also important for the defence point of view for the country. The Light house is important for the naval commands. There are four Naval Commands namely Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, Southern Naval Command and Andaman and Nicobar Naval Command. The INS Rajali and INS Agrani Naval Stations in Tamil Nadu operate under Southern Naval Command and the light house will be of great help for them.

Environment

Ladakh: Ladakh is the new union territory region administered by India. The name Ladakh means "land of high passes" in Tibetan.

Recently, two new bird species that is the Red Throated Thrush and Plumbeous Water Redstart have been found in Ladakh region during the Great Backyard Bird count. The three day exercise was undertaken from 14th February to 17 February 2020 by the Wildlife Conservation and Birds Club of Ladakh. Common Rose Finch and Grey Haron species arrived earlier than usual. A total of 87 various species of birds have been counted and recorded by three-group birders and wildlife experts.

The Great Backyard Bird Count: It is a citizen science project in ornithology. It is conducted annually in mid February. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada, and support is provided in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited. The first annual Great Backyard Bird Count was held in 1998, and the event has continued to grow year after year.

Greta Thunberg: She is a Swedish teenager environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition. To avoid flying, Thunberg sailed to North America where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Greta is the Winner of the Kids Rights Children's Peace Prize 2019. Not only was she named TIME’s 2019 Person of The Year, but she has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

Recently, a team of scientists honored Greta Thunberg on her efforts to raise awareness about climate change by naming a newly discovered species of a snail 'Craspedotropis gretathunbergae' after her.

According to the study, published in the Biodiversity Data Journal, the newly discovered temperature sensitive species of snail belongs to the group Caenogastropoda. The new species Craspedotropis gretathunberga is approximately 2mm long and 1mm wide with grey tentacles and a concave shell. It is a group of land snails that is known to be sensitive to drought, temperature extremes, and forest degradation.

Indian Policy

Mandya: It is place that is 100 km away from Bengaluru, Karnataka. It is here that the researchers at the India’s Atomic Energy Commission have found Lithium Reserves of 14,100 tonnes in Mandya. Lithium is a very rare metal and is mainly used in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles.

The reserves found are very little as compared to the world’s leading producers of Lithium. Of the major producers Chile produces 8.6 million tonnes, Australia produces 2.8 million tonnes and 1.7 million tonnes in Argentina.

India requires lithium for its energy needs as the Government of India is promoting clean-energy vehicles in India. India has imported lithium batteries worth $1.2 billion in fiscal 2019, against $384 million in FY17. GoI is on the path of implementing 1.4 billion USD plan to make India a manufacturing hub of electric vehicles.

National Economic Census: The process of the economic census was first held in 1978. Indian Economic Census is the census of the Indian economy counting the entrepreneurial units involved in agricultural, non-agricultural or any other economic activity. The economic census provides detailed information on operational and other characteristics such as number of establishments, number of persons employed, source of finance, type of ownership etc.

Recently, the Seventh Economic Census was launched in the National Capital Territory of Delhi by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. It is for the first time the entire census is being conducted on a digital platform by the use of an application which will ensure high accuracy and data security. The Ministry has tied up with Common Service Centres Network (CSCN) for the digital implementation of the census.

Delhi is the 26th State where the survey has been launched. The process is already on in 20 States and five Union Territories.

Union Cabinet: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved revamping of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS). The revamping was approved to address the existing challenges in the implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes

The changes are expected not only to help the farmers to manage risk in agriculture production but also to succeed in stabilizing the farm income. It also aims to increase coverage in the northeastern region. It will enable accurate yield estimation leading to faster claims settlement.

Indian polity

Law commission: The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government of India from time to time. The government constitutes law commission from time to time as per the requirement. The Commission was originally constituted in 1955 and is re-constituted every three years. It works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The First Law Commission of Independent India was established in 1955 under the Chairmanship of the then Attorney-General of India, M. C. Setalvad. Since then, twenty one more Commissions have been established.

The first such Commission before the independence of India was established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.

Recently, on February 19, 2020,the Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved 22nd Law Commission of India for a period of three years from the date of publication of the Order of Constitution in the Official Gazette.

The tenure of the 21st Law Commission of India was up in 2015 upto August 31, 2018 under Justice (Retd.) BS Chauhan.

The 22nd Law Commission will consist of a full-time Chairperson, 4 full-time Members (including Member-Secretary), Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio Member, Secretary, Legislative Department as ex officio Member and not more than five part-time Members.

The functions of the commission is -

*To identify laws that shall be repealed immediately.

*To examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy(DPSP) and suggest ways of improvement.

*To respond to requests made by other countries in framing their legal system.

*To make measures that shall help to serve the poor legally.

*To revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities, and inequities.

*To undertake research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations.

ART: It refers to the Assisted Reproductive Technologies. The ART is used infertility treatment. This is the only application routine, used for reproductive technology. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), is a way for a multitude of persons suffering from infertility.

ART has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. As, India has one of the highest growths in the ART centers and the number of ART cycles performed every year there are unethical practices that need to be brought under legislation.

Recently, on February 18, 2020, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi approved a historic Bill for the welfare of Women in the Country – the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020. The move came after the introduction of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020 in Parliament and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020.

The Bill proposes establishment of a national registry and registration authority for all clinics and medical professionals serving in the field. The bill also proposes to establish a central data base of banks and clinics all over the country. Severe punishment will be given to people who practice sex selection, sale of human embryos, running agencies or organizations for such unlawful practices.

International

Afghanistan: Afghanistan officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north and China to the northeast. Its capital is Kabul. The currency used here is Afghan afghani (AFN).

Recently, Ashraf Ghani secured the second term as Afghan president. Aghanistan’s election body declared Ashraf Ghani the winner of the 2019 presidential poll on 18th February 2020, almost five months after voting took place. Dr Abdullah Abdullah was the runner up.

Ghani and Abdullah head a fragile national unity government that was put together under the US pressure after both leaders claimed victory in Afghanistan's 2014 elections.

Bangladesh: The country of Bengal officially called the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. Its capital is Dhaka. The currency used here is Bangladeshi taka. The current Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Sheikh Hasina and the President is M Abdul Hamid.

Recently, on 21 february 2020, Bangladesh observed the 'Shaheed Dibash' which is also known as 'Amar Ekushey'. The day is observed annually to commemorate and to pay tribute to the martyrs of language movement. President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh commemorated the day by paying tribute to martyrs who lost their lives during Pakistani police firing on 21st of February 1952 in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh’s Language Movement which started in 1948 reached to its peak when 8 people laid down their lives on February 21, 1952. The movement concluded with the adoption of Bangla as the official language of the then East Pakistan. As a result of the movement, 21st February is observed every year to commemorate the martyrs of the Bangladesh’s Language Movement. UNESCO has also adopted a resolution to celebrate 21 February as International Mother Language Day. The resolution and the marking of the day is an honour bestowed by the international community on the Language Movement of Bangladesh.

World Day of Social Justice: The World Day of Social Justice is celebrated every year globally on 20 February to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration. The International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on 10 June 2008. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.

Recently, the World Day of Social Justice (WDSJ) was observed globally on 20th February 2020. The theme of 2020 is “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”. It focuses on social justice as it is the global mission of the UN to promote the development and human dignity.

Australia: Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Its capital is Canberra. The currency used here is Australian dollar. The current Prime Minister of Australia is Scott Morrison.

Recently, Australia appointed Barry O'Farrell as the next high commissioner to India. He will succeed Harinder Sidhu who has been in the office since 2016.

Mr O'Farrell served in the New South Wales Parliament from 1995-2015 and the 43rd Premier of the province. He also served as New South Wales' Special Envoy for India and made a significant contribution as the Deputy Chair of the Australia- India Council Board.

National

Arvind Kejriwal: He is a 51-year-old bureaucrat turned-politician during India Against Corruption movement in 2011. Currently, he is the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party, which won the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections with a historic majority. In 2006, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in recognition of his involvement in the grassroots level movement Parivartan using right to information legislation in a campaign against corruption. Before joining politics, Kejriwal had worked in the Indian Revenue Service as a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax in New Delhi

Recently, Arvind Kejriwal took oath as Chief Minister of Delhi for the third consecutive time in Ramlila Maidan. Ramlila Maidan served as the battleground him during the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement. President Ram Nath Kovind had on the 14th of February 2020 appointed him as the new chief minister after AAP registered a landslide victory in the national capital by winning 62 out of the 70 seats in assembly elections. Mr. Kejriwal had earlier taken the oath of Chief Minister in 2013 and 2015 in the Ramlila Maidan. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues.

Six Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) including Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai were sworn in as cabinet ministers along with Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal. The six cabinet ministers for Delhi is given below.

1. Manish Sisodia

2. Satyendar Jain

3. Gopal Rai

4. Kailash Gehlot

5. Imran Hussain and

6. Rajendra Pal Gautam

SCR: It refers to South Central Railway. The Indian Railways South Central Railways (SCR) zone has become the first railway zone in the country to have functional “energy neutral” railway stations on the network. It is capable of meeting full 100% energy requirements by tapping natural solar power through Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) Panels commissioned o­n the station buildings. The SRC Zone has converted 13 Railway Stations as “Energy Neutral” which is the highest amongst all the Railway Zones in the Country.

Soil Health Card Day: The day is observed annually on the 19th of February since 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme on this day in 2015 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan. The scheme aims at issuing soil health cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in soil. The scheme also ensures additional income to farmers by an increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming. The scheme has been introduced not only to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country but also to provide information to farmers on the nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on the appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

Recently, on 19th February 2020 the 5th year of launch of Soil Health Card was observed across the country. On this day, the government of India (GoI) organizes various awareness and informative programs of this day for farmers. This day highlights all these benefits to the farmers.

SPMRM: It refers to Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission. The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 21 February 2016. The scheme was launched with aa vision to catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.

The fourth Anniversary of the launch of Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was observed on 21 February 2020. The main objective of the Mission is to transform these Rurban clusters by stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters. This will lead to the holistic development of the region and encourage integrated and inclusive rural development.

The mission under the scheme aims to develop 300 Rurban clusters. The Niti Aayog has proposed that these clusters are to be extended to 1000 in 3 years. Three such clusters are being developed in the South, East and West districts of Sikkims.

National

Arvind Kejriwal: He is a 51-year-old bureaucrat turned-politician during India Against Corruption movement in 2011. Currently, he is the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party, which won the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections with a historic majority. In 2006, he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in recognition of his involvement in the grassroots level movement Parivartan using right to information legislation in a campaign against corruption. Before joining politics, Kejriwal had worked in the Indian Revenue Service as a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax in New Delhi

Recently, Arvind Kejriwal took oath as Chief Minister of Delhi for the third consecutive time in Ramlila Maidan. Ramlila Maidan served as the battleground him during the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement. President Ram Nath Kovind had on the 14th of February 2020 appointed him as the new chief minister after AAP registered a landslide victory in the national capital by winning 62 out of the 70 seats in assembly elections. Mr. Kejriwal had earlier taken the oath of Chief Minister in 2013 and 2015 in the Ramlila Maidan. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues.

Six Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) including Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai were sworn in as cabinet ministers along with Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal. The six cabinet ministers for Delhi is given below.

1. Manish Sisodia

2. Satyendar Jain

3. Gopal Rai

4. Kailash Gehlot

5. Imran Hussain and

6. Rajendra Pal Gautam

SCR: It refers to South Central Railway. The Indian Railways South Central Railways (SCR) zone has become the first railway zone in the country to have functional “energy neutral” railway stations on the network. It is capable of meeting full 100% energy requirements by tapping natural solar power through Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) Panels commissioned o­n the station buildings. The SRC Zone has converted 13 Railway Stations as “Energy Neutral” which is the highest amongst all the Railway Zones in the Country.

Soil Health Card Day: The day is observed annually on the 19th of February since 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme on this day in 2015 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan. The scheme aims at issuing soil health cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in soil. The scheme also ensures additional income to farmers by an increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming. The scheme has been introduced not only to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country but also to provide information to farmers on the nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on the appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

Recently, on 19th February 2020 the 5th year of launch of Soil Health Card was observed across the country. On this day, the government of India (GoI) organizes various awareness and informative programs of this day for farmers. This day highlights all these benefits to the farmers.

SPMRM: It refers to Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission. The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 21 February 2016. The scheme was launched with aa vision to catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.

The fourth Anniversary of the launch of Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was observed on 21 February 2020. The main objective of the Mission is to transform these Rurban clusters by stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters. This will lead to the holistic development of the region and encourage integrated and inclusive rural development.

The mission under the scheme aims to develop 300 Rurban clusters. The Niti Aayog has proposed that these clusters are to be extended to 1000 in 3 years. Three such clusters are being developed in the South, East and West districts of Sikkims.

People In News

Sanjay Kothari: He is a 1978-batch IAS officer from Haryana. He who had retired in 2016 was picked by the President and appointed as his secretary. He will now remain as his secretary till the completion of Kovind's tenure on July 25, 2022. He was selected as the new Central Vigilance Commissioner by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Bimal Julka: Bimal Julka is a retired Indian Administrative Service officer who is currently serving as an Information Commissioner. He is also the former Information and Broadcasting Secretary. The committee has also chosen him as the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) in the Central Information Commission while Suresh Patel has been appointed as the Vigilance Commissioner and Anita Pandove as Information Commissioner.

Central Vigilance Commission: Central Vigilance Commission is an apex Indian governmental body. It was created in 1964 to address governmental corruption. It is headquartered in New Delhi. In 2003, the Parliament enacted a law conferring statutory status on the CVC. Its objectives is to address governmental corruption. It also advise various authorities in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work. Nittoor Srinivasa Rau, was selected as the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India.

Central Information Commission: It was established on 12 October 2005. It was constituted under the Right to Information Act. It has jurisdiction over all central public authorities

Sreeramakrishnan: He is an Indian politician. He is the current Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly. He was elected on 3 June 2016. He has been a member of Kerala Legislative Assembly, representing the Ponnani constituency since June 2011. He was born on 14 November 1967 in Perinthalmanna, Kerala.

Recently, Shri P. Ramakrishnan was conferred the Ideal Legislative Assembly Speaker/Ideal Legislative Council Chairman Award. It was conferred to him by the Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu at the 10th edition of Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad in New Delhi on 20 February 2020.

Advisors to PM Narendra Modi: Bhaskar Khulbe and Amarjeet Sinha has been appointed as Advisors to PM Narendra Modi. They both are retired IAS Officers. Their appointment in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the rank and scale of Secretary was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Their appointments were made on a contractual basis initially for a period of two years, or until further orders. General terms and conditions that are applicable in the case of re-employed officers of Secretary-level in the government are applicable to them.

Bhaskar Khulbe: He is an Indian Administrative Service officer from the 1983 batch. He was from West Bengal cadre. He has served in the Prime Minister's Officer.

Amarjeet Sinha: He is an Indian Administrative Service officer from the 1983 batch. He was from the Bihar cadre. He retired as the Rural Development Secretary in 2019.

Places In News

Varanasi: Varanasi also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi is a city on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh are Anandiben Patel and Yogi Adityanath respectively.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 50 development projects worth over 1,200 crore rupees at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. During his day-long visit to his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, he flagged off the Mahakaal Express to link Varanasi, Ujjain and Omkareshwar via video conferencing. He also dedicated Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Memorial Centre to the nation. This is the largest statue of the leader in the country.

These projects which the Prime Minister launched included a 430-bed super speciality Government hospital, a 74-bed psychiatry hospital and Centre for Vedic Research at Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalaya (BHU), at BHU. PM Modi also inaugurated the Chaukaghat Lehartara Overbridge in the city which will ease the traffic near the railway station.

Kochi: Kochi (also known as Cochin) is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state. It has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbor and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. The Governor and the Chief Minister of Kerala are Arif Mohammed Khan and Pinarayi Vijayan respectively.

Recently, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched “Yodhav” (Warrior) mobile app (application) at Kochi, Kerala. Yodhavu' (Warrior), is a mobile app through which public can inform police about drug abuse and its distribution. The app was introduced by the Kochi city police, as part of efforts to curb the growing menace in the State. The special feature of this app is that the informer’s identity can be kept secret.

The chief minister also inaugurated a most modern cyber doom cyber crime police station, the new building of the Infopark police station and regional forensic science laboratory’s upper and lower subordinate quarters at the TCS auditorium at Infopark. The chief minister also unveiled the model of Kochi city police’s new police complex being constructed at Marine Drive.

Patna: It is the Capital city of the state of Bihar. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Bihar is Phagu Chauhan and Nitish Kumar respectively.

Recently, the Bihar government’s Department of Environment and Forest launched a Pyaar ka Paudha’ (a plant of love) campaign in Patna. This campaign is launched to encourage the practice of planting trees in the 08thstate. Department of Environment, requested the people to gift one plant of love to their closed ones and provide good care so as to make a small effort to take a big step towards making Bihar land green.

Goa: Goa is a state on the southwestern coast of India within the region known as the Konkan. Its coastlines stretch along the Arabian Sea. The current Chief Minister and the Governor of Goa are Pramod Sawant and Mridula Sinha respectively.

Recently, the 5th edition of Difficult Dialogues began in Panji, Goa. It is an annual forum examining issues of contemporary relevance in South Asia, is being held from 14 to 16 February 2020. Difficult Dialogues (DD) 2020 will focus on the “State of Law”. The conference will bring together global experts, policymakers, community-level workers and leading thinkers to deliberate on issues related to law and the legal framework.

Arunachal Pradesh: Arunachal Pradesh is the northeastern most state of India. It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south. It shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east, and China in the north, with which the border is the McMahon Line. It is the largest of the Seven Sister States of Northeast India. Its capital is Itanagar. The Chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh is Pema Khandu.

Recently, Arunachal Pradesh celebrated its 34th Statehood Day. Arunachal Pradesh became a state on 20 February 1987. The celebration was held at IG Park in Itanagar. The event was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Home Minister inaugurated a bouquet of projects and schemes for the State including Launch of Arunachal Pradesh Industrial and Investment Policy 2020. He also inaugurated the Joram-Koloriang Road constructed by BRO and laid the foundation stone of the new headquarters of the state police and along with other projects.

Sports

Laureus World Sports Awards: It is an annual award ceremony honoring individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year. It was established in 1999 by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation founding patrons Daimler and Richemont.

Recently, the 20th anniversary of the prestigious Laureus Award which celebrates the best in the world of sport was held in Berlin, Germany.

The awards in different categories were awarded to:-

*Lionel Messi and british F1 ace Lewis Hamilton were declared the joint winners of the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the year award in Berlin.

*Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year was awarded: Simone Biles.

*Laureus World Team of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby Team.

*Laureus Best Sporting Moment Carried on the shoulders of a nation: Sachin Tendulkar.

*Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Egan Bernal.

*Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Sophia Flörsch.

*Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability : Oksana Masters.

*Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim.

*Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award:Dirk Nowitzki.

*Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball Federation.

*Laureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx United.

Cairns Cup chess tournament: The 2020 Cairns Cup was a 10-player round-robin tournament. The tournament took place from 7-16 February in the St. Louis Chess Club, USA. This was the second edition of the Cairns Cup

World Rapid champion, India's Koneru Humpy won Cairns Cup chess tournament. Humpy won the title after winning six points off nine rounds. She won the title after finishing 6 points off 9 rounds. Reigning world champion Ju Wenjun secured 2nd place while Russia’s Alexandra Kosteniuk came 3rd followed by Ukranian Mariya Muzychek for the 4th place and India’s Harika Dronavalli secured 5th place.

Koneru Humpy also won the coveted ‘2019 women’s World rapid chess championship’ last year.

United by Emotion: It is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics motto. The official Games motto was revealed by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The motto emphasizes the power of sport to bring together people from diverse backgrounds of every kind and allow them to connect and celebrate in a way that reaches beyond their differences.

This motto summarises the ideas and concepts that the host city of Tokyo wishes to share with the world. The Games will bring together athletes from more than 200 National Olympic Committees and the Refugee Olympic Team, as well as millions of spectators & media representatives.

SRFI: It refers to the Squash Rackets Federation of India. It is the Indian governmental apex body for the game of squash. It conducts the National Squash Championship, and promotes the game through the different state level squash bodies, and provides training facilities and selects the squad for the Indian team. The current President of SRFI is Debendranath Sarangi.

The 77th Senior National squash championships were recently held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Ace Indian squash player Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa won the 77th Senior National squash championships in Man’s and woman’s category respectively. The top-ranked Indian players justified their billing to bag the men’s and women’s titles for a record 13th and 18th time respectively. They both were awarded prize money of Rs. 1, 25,000 each.

With this win, Chinappa claimed the 18th title of her career and Saurav Ghosal bagged his 13th career title.

Khelo India Winter Games 2020: Khelo India winter games 2020 which will be held in the Union Territory of Ladakh later this month followed by a similar event in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in March. This was announcement was made by Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

The competitions of the Khelo India J&K Winter Games will be held at Kongdori, Gulmarg. It will be held in four age categories for both boys and girls. Athletes in the age categories of 19-21 years, 17-18 years, 15-16 years and 13-14 years can compete in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

The event will feature an open ice hockey championship, figure skating and speed skating and the competition will be conducted at the block, district and UT levels. About 1700 athletes are expected to participate in the games.

Asian Wrestling Championships: Asian Wrestling Championships is the Wrestling Asian Championship organized by the Asian Associated Wrestling Committee. The men's tournament began in 1979 and the women's tournament was first staged in 1996, and it has been held every year.

Sunil Kumar wins gold in 87-kg Greco Roman category in Asian Wrestling Championships which was held in New Delhi. He beat Azat Salidinov from Kyrgyzstan in the final of the 87 kg category. Last year Kumar had made it to the final and ended with a silver medal.

ESPN India Annual Multi-Sport Awards: The Award acknowledges individuals and teams based on 10 categories. The selection of the winners is based on the vote by a 16 member panel.

Recently, on 21 February 2020, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network(ESPN) announced the ESPN India Annual Multi-Sport Awards.

The Winners are:-

1. Sportsperson of the Year (Female): PV Sindhu (Badminton)

2. Sportsperson of the Year (Male): Saurabh Chaudhary (Pistol shooter)

3. Emerging Sportsperson of the Year: Deepak Punia (Freestyle wrestler)

4. Coach of the Year: Pullela Gopichand (Badminton)

5. Team of the Year: Manu Bhaker-Saurabh Chaudhary (10m air pistol)

6. Lifetime Achievement award: Balbir Singh Sr (Hockey)

7. Comeback of the Year: Koneru Humpy (Chess player)

8. Differently-abled Athlete of the Year: Manasi Joshi (Badminton)

9. Moment of the Year: PV Sindhu’s World Championships final win

10. The Courage award: Dutee Chand (Athlete)

Current Affairs Feburary 9 to Feburary 15

Arts

Dharmendra Rai: He is a mind mapping & brain literacy pioneer. He has a world record of conducting more than 380 mind mapping seminars in under 10 years. He was also the first person in the world to talk on TEDx on Creativity & Mind Mapping.

Recently, “The Thin Mind Map Book” authored by him was launched. The book aims to give people an experience in mind mapping and making them expert through reading and doing all the experiential exercises mentioned in the book.

Hornbill Festival: It is the first ever Hornbill festival of Tripura that was celebrated in Agartala. Chief Minister (CM) Biplab Kumar Dev inaugurated the festival at Baramura hill (in western Tripura).

The festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, the large and colourful forest bird which is displayed in the folklore of most of the tribals in northeast India, usually takes place in the first week of December every year since 2000 at Naga Heritage village Kisama, about 12 km from Nagaland capital Kohima.

The aim of the festival is to conserve the striking forest bird “Hornbill” and to boost the livelihood of the people through tourism.

Cha Chai Artwork: It is an artwork of Joana Vasconcelos (Portuguese artist) at National Museum in New Delhi. It is a wrought-iron sculpture which is shaped like a tea-pot. The 'Tea-Pot' and its iron-railings represent the bridge between urban and rural landscapes. The installation by Vasconcelos represents the tradition of serving tea in Portugal that originated in the 17th century.

Recently, the Union Minister for Culture & Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel and President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa jointly inaugurated the Cha-Chai artwork. India and Portugal are collaborating to develop various cultural projects in India.

Economics

South Indian Bank: South Indian Bank Limited is a major private sector bank. It is headquartered at Thrissur in Kerala, India. It was founded in 1929. South Indian Bank MD & CEO os the South Indian Bank is V.G. Mathew.

Recently, South Indian Bank bagged two awards at the Banking Technology 2019 awards. The awards were instituted by the Indian Banks’ Association. This event was held in Indian Bank Association’s 15th Annual Banking Technology Conference, Expo and Awards held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The South Indian Bank won in the ‘Most Customer-Centric Bank Using Technology’ category and runner up in the ‘Best Payments Initiative’ category amongst small Banks’.

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI will soon release a new one rupee currency note in India. The Union Ministry of Finance notified ‘Printing of One Rupee Currency Notes Rules, 2020’ vide Gazzette Notification G.S.R. 95(E) dated February 7, 2020. “The One Rupee notes shall be printed at the note printing presses for issue under the authority of Government of India for circulation. The notification has several details of one rupee notes to be printed under the authority of the Government of India for circulation. These include details about the colour, design, standard weight, dimensions etc.

History of currency note in India: Currency notes were introduced in India in 1861, and the one-rupee note was introduced by the British on November 30, 1917. According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) website, the printing of this note was first stopped in 1926 because its printing was costlier than its value. After that, its printing was resumed in 1940 which continued till 1994. It was ragain eintroduced in 2015 after a gap of 22 years.

Defence

INS Shivaji: INS Shivaji is an Indian Naval station located in Lonavala, Maharashtra, India. It houses the Naval College of Engineering which trains officers of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. It was commissioned on 15 February 1945 as HMIS Shivaji. It is located close to the Bhushi Dam. The establishment has rendered 75 years of glorious service to the nation by imparting training in engineering discipline to personnel of Indian Navy, Coast Guard, other sister services and friendly foreign Countries. The current commander is Commodore K Srinivas.

Recently, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind presented ‘President’s Colour’ to the INS Shivaji at a ceremony in Lonavala, Maharashtra on the occasion of Platinum Jubilee of this premier training establishment. The Presentation of Colour or Standards by the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is an acknowledgement of the unit’s meritorious service.

It is now the premier technical training establishment of the Indian Navy with the motto Kar-masu Kaushalam. The establishment has trained more than two lakh officers and sailors, both Indian and International, since inception. All courses conducted at INS Shivaji are recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

IADWS: It refers to the Integrated Air Defense Weapon System. IADWS includes air defence weapon systems, AMRAAM missiles, NASAMS-II, surface-to-air missiles, radars among others.

Recently, the United States (US) has approved the sale of an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System to India. The estimated cost of IADWS is $1.867 billion. the IADWS will help India modernise its armed forces and to expand its existing air defense architecture to counter threats posed by air attack. This will also contribute to India's military goal to update its capability while further enhancing greater interoperability between India, the US and other allies.

The deal is expected to be sealed during President Trump's visit to India.

India and UK: India and the United Kingdom conducted their 5th edition of joint military exercise ‘Ajeya Warrior-2020’ at Salisbury Plains of central southern England to train troops in counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations. The first edition of the exercise was held from 2005.

The main aim of the exercises is to conduct training of troops in counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations in both urban and semi-urban areas.

The Indian contingent was welcomed by Brigadier Tom Bewick, Commander of UK 7 Infantry Brigade in its opening ceremony.

The exercise will comprise of 120 soldiers each from Indian and United Kingdom Army which will be culminating with a 72 hours joint exercise. The exercise will focus on the joint operation by soldiers during conduct of counter-terrorist operations.

Ajeya Warrior 2020 can be termed as the shining example of long-standing strategic ties between India and United Kingdom.

DRDO: It is an acronym of Defence Research & Development Organization of India. DRDO is an agency of the Government of India which works under the Ministry of Defence. It has a network of laboratories engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems. It was founded in 1958 and is headquartered in New Delhi. Its motto is बलस्य मूलं विज्ञानम्; meaning "Strength's Origin is in Science". The current DRDO Chairman is G Satheesh Reddy

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started developing a 200-km strike range tactical ballistic missile named ‘Pranash’.

Pranash Missile is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile which will be of use for the Air Force and Army for destroying enemy targets at short ranges. It is a solid-propellant surface to a surface missile which can travel at the speed of Mach 2.

The missile is an advanced version of the 150-km strike range Prahar missile which was being developed for tactical missions.

Environment

World Pangolin Day: The day is celebrated every year on the third Saturday of February. The World Pangolin Day is marked by several organizations all over the world including United Nations Environment Programme.

Recently, on the 15th of February 2020 the world is celebrated the 9th edition of the annual World Pangolin Day. The day aims to raise awareness about these unique mammals and speed up conservation efforts. Pangolin numbers are rapidly declining in Asia and Africa.

Pangolins: Pangolins or scaly anteaters are mammals of the order Pholidota. They have large, protective keratin scales covering their skin; they are the only known mammals with this feature. They live in hollow trees or burrows, depending on the species. Pangolins are nocturnal, and their diet consists of mainly ants and termites, which they capture using their long tongues.

The animals are trafficked mainly for their scales, which are believed to treat a variety of health conditions in traditional Chinese medicine, and as a luxury food in Vietnam and China. Trafficking of the pangolin is also done for medical and spiritual belief use in Africa.

Pangolins are protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). In India they are protected under Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. They are listed under Schedule I of the act. The IUCN Red List puts the Indian Pangolin under Endangered category.

As Pangolins numbers are declining greatly, for the first time,the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department along with the NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust has radio-tagged Indian Pangolins to learn their about their ecology.

PNAS: It refers to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PNAS is one of the world's most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals. It is the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences, published since 1915, and publishes original research, scientific reviews, commentaries, and letters. PNAS publishes science news, Commentaries, Perspectives, Colloquium Papers, podcasts, and profiles of NAS members.

According to the recent study published in the journal PNAS, humans altered Himalayan glacier long before people arrived. The byproducts of burning coal in Europe in the late 18th century made their way to the Dasuopu glacier which is about 10,300 kilometres from London, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a revolution in the use of energy adding that the use of coal combustion also started to cause emissions that might be the reason they were transported by winds up to the Himalayas.

International research team that travelled to Dasoupu in 1997 analysed one core taken from there for 23 trace metals. According to them, Dasuopu which is at 7,200 metres above sea level, is the highest-altitude site in the world where they have obtained a climate record from an ice core. It is located on Shishapangma, Central Himalayas, Tibet. It is one of the world’s 14 tallest mountains, which are all located in the Himalayas.

Indian Policy

National Workshop on e-office: Recently, the Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated National Workshop on e-office in Parvasi Bhartiya Kendra, Chankyapuri, New Delhi. He also launched the Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) Reforms at the event.

The main objective of the Workshop is to create a nation-wide momentum for the creation of e-Office across the State Secretariats.

Delivering the Key Note address at the National Workshop on e-Office, DR Jitendra Singh said that public grievances has increased from 2 lakh in 2014 to 19 lakh at present with more than 95 percent disposal of cases. The Government of India in 2019 has received 18.7 lakh public grievances and disposed 18.1 lakh of them.

CPGRAMS: It refers to the Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System. The CPGRAMS aligns with the Government of India’s vision of “Minimum Government-Maximum Governance”. Many States have pursued digitalization of files and creation of Digital State Secretariats. The 7.0 version of CPGRAMS has mapped the last mile grievance. The mapping has not only saved the time of officers but also has improved the quality of disposal of cases.

Many States including Odisha with OSWAS, Rajasthan with RaajKaaj and Andra Pradesh with e Office have pursued digitalization of files and creation of Digital State Secretariats.

Coal Ministry: The Ministry of Coal is an Indian government ministry. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Minister responsible for the Coal Ministry is the Cabinet Minister Mr Pralhad Joshi.

Recently, Ministry of Coal (MoC) launched NIC developed web portal for star rating of coal mines to promote the green, safe and sustainable coal mining practices in India with the help of technology. The online web portal ‘Star Rating of Coal Mines' was launched by the Minister for Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Pralhad Joshi in New Delhi. This web portal will provide star rating of coal mines. The mines with highest star rating score will be awarded in a public ceremony. An official certificate to all the mines mentioning their star rating will also be issued by the Coal Controller’s Organization.

According to the new system, the mines scoring between 91% and 100% will get 5 star, below 91% and above 81% will receive 4 stars, 71 to 80% will get 3 stars, 61 to 70% will get 2 stars, 41 to 60% 1 star, mines that score from 0 to 40% will get No star on the portal. The Star Rating Policy for Coal Mines in India has been formulated by the Ministry of Coal. The coal mines will be provided with login id to self evaluate themselves by submitting required documents.

This policy assesses the Mines on 50 evaluation parameters (in case of Opencast Mines) and 47 evaluation parameters (in case of Underground Mines) under 7 modules .

India and Portugal: India and Portugal signed 14 agreements to boost during the State visit of the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The agreement was signed after detailed high-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in New Delhi to to boost cooperation in a range of areas including defence, investment, transport, ports, aerospace and scientific research, culture and industrial and intellectual property rights and yoga. Agreements were also signed on developing a world class national maritime heritage complex at Lothal. The Government of India (GoI) has also allocated funds for this joint venure.

India and Portugal share a very special relationship as both the countries enjoy 500 years of shared history and are closely tied together through Goa and Mumbai, through our culture, language and kinship.

Indian polity

The Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. It is led by the Prime Minister. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. The prime minister and ministers of the rank of cabinet minister can only be the members of the Union Cabinet in accordance with Article 75.

The approvals given by the Union Cabinet recently are:-

Vivad Se Vishwas bill, 2020: The Vivad Se Vishwas bill which aims to provide for resolution of disputed direct taxes, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on February 5 by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman during the Budget 2020-21. The vivad se vishwas scheme is similar to the 'Indirect Tax, Sabka Vishwas' scheme, which was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her maiden budget presentation in 2019.

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved to make the required changes in the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020. The bill has been amended to increase its scope to cover litigations pending in various debt recovery tribunals (DRTs).

Pesticide Management Bill 2020: Union Cabinet has approved the Pesticide Management Bill 2020. The bill seeks to regulate the sale of pesticides and provide compensation to farmers in case of losses due to spurious pesticides. It also seeks to promote organic pesticides. The main aim of the bill is to replace the Insecticides Act, 1968. The bill seeks to advertise standards by supplying information regarding the pesticides available in the market in a digital format.

Most of the pesticides that are used in India are hazardous according to the classifications of the World health Organization (WHO). Only 40% of the pesticides are registered while 60% is unregistered and are very harmful.

Major Ports Authority Bill 2020: The cabinet has given its approval to Major Ports Authority Bill 2020 that will be introduced in Parliament to replace the existing regulations under a 1963 law. The Bill seeks to enhance overall efficiencies of the ports was cleared by the Cabinet. Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that there have been many changes in the way ports are operated since the 1960 and public-private partnership (PPP) model was also being used so the bill will provide dispute resolution mechanism and the 12 major ports in the country will have more autonomy to make decisions.

India's 12 major ports are, Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia), and V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam.

Cabinet Approval: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its in principle approval for capital infusion for three Public Sector General Insurance Companies, namely, Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL), United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL) and National Insurance Company Limited (NICL). The Cabinet has allowed a capital infusion of 2,500 crore rupees in three Public Sector General Insurance Companies. The decision has been taken in the wake of the critical financial position and breach of regulatory solvency requirements of these companies to meet the solvency ratio criteria of IRDA (Insurance Regulatory Development Authority).

International

African Union (AU) summit: The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of fifty five member states which is located on the continent of Africa. The AU was announced in the Sirte Declaration in Sirte, Libya, on 9 September 1999 with an aim for the establishment of the African Union. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was launched on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa. The objective of the AU was to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments. The OAU was disbanded on 9 July 2002.

The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa. The largest city in the AU is Lagos, Nigeria, while the largest urban agglomeration is Cairo, Egypt.

Recently, the 33rd edition of the African Union (AU) summit 2020 was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The summit 2020 was held with the theme "Silencing the Guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development".

The two-day leaders’ summit was attended by more than 35 heads of state and the government officials from across Africa as well as representatives of regional and international organizations. They focused on ways to end the regional violence, including the conflicts in South Sudan and Libya. During the summit, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa took over the chair of African Union (AU) from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also announced that the world body will provide full support for the AU’s “landmark initiative” of silencing guns to combat 3 most urgent challenges to be addressed in Africa which is eradicating poverty, tackling the climate crisis and silencing guns.

Coronavisrus: It is a deadly virus that originated in a Wuhan food market and spread across the world.In total more than 68,000 people has been infected in China, with the death toll standing at 1,665. It has crossed the number of deaths caused during the SARs outbreak. It was detected in 2019 but soon became a global concern when it started spreading at an alarming number of people. Outside of China there have been more than 500 cases in nearly 30 countries. Four people have died in France, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially named Coronavirus as COVID-19. It is a short form for the virus where ‘Co’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ stands for the virus, ‘D’ stands for disease and numerical ‘19’ stands for the year it was detected.

World Radio Day: World Radio Day is celebrated on 13th of February each year. The date marks the establishment of United Nations Radio in 1946. The Day was decided by UNESCO on 3 November 2011 during its 36th conference. The first World Radio Day was celebrated in 2013. It is celebrated to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio. The radio day is also a way of educating people, providing information, and promoting freedom of expression across cultures. Vintage radios served their purpose during times of peace and war.

Recently, the 9th edition of the World Radio Day was celebrated on February 13 to celebrate radio as a medium of entertainment and information and the mode of communication. The theme of this year's World Radio Day is 'Radio and Diversity'.

The objective this year is to encourage the decision makers to establish and provide accessibility to information through radio. It also aims to enhance the networking and international cooperation among broadcasters. On this day UNESCO has appealed to radio stations to uphold diversity, both in their newsroom as well as on the airwaves.

In India Radio broadcasting started in the early 1920s and in 1923, the first programme was aired by the Radio Club of Bombay. Lord Irwin, then Viceroy of India, inaugurated the Indian Broadcast Company (IBC) in Bombay.

All India Radio (AIR) is one of the largest radio networks in the world. It was founded in 1956. Until 1993, AIR was the only radio broadcaster in India.

FM broadcasting began in July 23, 1977, in Chennai. Radio City Banglore was the first private FM radio station that started on July 3, 2001. In India, private FM is not allowed to broadcast news.

World Unani Day: The World Unani Day is celebrated on 11th February every year. The Day is celebrated globally to spread awareness about health care delivery with the help of Unani system of medicine through its preventive and curative philosophy. This day is also celebrated to the birth Anniversary of Hakim Ajmal Khan.

He was an Indian Unani Physician and a social reformer. He was a versatile genius who was also a noted freedom fighter, a Unani medical educationist and founder of scientific research in Unani System of Medicine. He was one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. He was a descendant of one of the line of physicians called the Rais of Delhi who came to India during reign of Mughal Emperor Babar. His grandfather Hakim Sharif Khan was a physician to Mughal Emperor Shah Alam.

Unani Medicinal system: Unani medicine is a system of alternative medicine. It originated in ancient Greece but is now practiced primarily in India. It involves the use of herbal remedies, dietary practices, and alternative therapies, Unani medicine addresses the prevention and treatment of disease.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: The day is observed globally on the 11th of February annually. The United Nations in December 2015, adopted a resolution to celebrate February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The day is celebrated with an aim to recognize the critical role of women and girls play in science and technology. The day was celebrated in 2016 for the first time. The idea behind this day is to ensure equal participation and involvement of women and girls in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The theme of 2020 is 'Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.' The theme focuses on the empowerment of women and girls giving them equal access and motivating them to opt for science.

World Pulses Day: The day has been proclaimed on February 10 of each year since 2019 by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 20, 2018. World Pulses Day is a designated United Nations global event to recognize the importance of pulses (chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, dry peas and lupins among others) as a global food. Pulses are healthy, nutritious, protein-rich, nitrogen-fixing legumes alive.

World Pulses Day is a great opportunity to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of eating pulses. The day is also a recognition of the decisive role that pulses can play in achieving the far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action that seeks to strengthen universal peace.

National

NPC: It refers to the National Productivity Council. NPC is an autonomous, multipartite, non-profit organization and has been registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. It functions under DIPP (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade), Ministry of Commerce & Industry. It was established by the Ministry of Industry, Government of India in 1958. NPC is also a component of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organization (APO). NPC works for providing solutions towards accelerating productivity, enhancing competitiveness, increasing productivity ensuring better quality. It also has representatives from technical and professional institutions including members from local productivity councils and chamber of commerce on its governing body. The Chairman of National Productivity Council is Guruprasad Mohapatra and the Director-General of National Productivity Council is Arun Kumar Jha.

Recently, NPC celebrated National Productivity Day. This day is observed on 12 February every year. The main objective of NPC is to promote productivity culture in India. The seven day period from 12th to 18th February 2020 is celebrated as “Productivity Week” throughout the country.

National Deworming Day: The National Deworming Day (NDD) is observed globally on 10 February annually. The objective of the day is to deworm children and adolescents to reduce the prevalence of parasitic worms in the intestine. The first National Deworming Day in India was observed on 10 February 2015.

Recently, on 10 February 2020 India celebrated National Deworming Day with an aim to spread awareness about the problem and treatment of intestinal worm infections in all children. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare initiated the observation of the National Deworming Day.

Children and adolescents in the age group of 1 to 19 years are being administered a single dose of a safe medicine Albendazole in all states and Union Territories on the occasion.

National Women's Day: India celebrated National women's Day on the 13th of February to celebrate the 141st birth anniversary of Sarojini Naidu.

She was a freedom fighter and the first women governor of India United Provinces, the present Uttar Pradesh. Sarojini Naidu Born on February 13, 1879 was also known as 'Bharat Kokila', the Ningtingale of India because of her poems which were not only globally famous but also played a vital role during the freedom struggle till 1947. She actively participated in the Indian National Movement for the independence of the country. Apart from her dedicated political career, Sarojini Naidu is widely known for her poetry which included both children's poems and others written on more serious themes including patriotism, romance, and tragedy. Some of her famous literary works are Golden Threshold published in 1905 was her first collection of poems, The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death, and the Spring, The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan and the Indian weavers among others.

India-Iceland: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Iceland in the field of sustainable fisheries development.

The MoU will not only strengthen the existing friendly relations between India and Iceland but will also enhance consultation and cooperation on Fisheries including consultation on bilateral issues.

According to the agreement - facilities for the exchange of scientists and technical experts and their proper placement, especially in areas of estimating Total Allowable Catches in offshore and deep-sea areas will be created; information of scientific research literature, scientific experts in the field of fisheries will be exchanged.

The agreement aims to promote processing and marketing of products from high seas fisheries for entrepreneurship development.

India-Srilanka: The Union Cabinet, On February 12, 2020, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its nod for signing and ratification of the protocol to amend the DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) between India & Sri Lanka for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of financial evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Under the amendment, updation of preamble text and inclusion of Principal Purpose Test, a general anti- abuse provision in the DTAA will result in curbing of tax planning strategies which exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules.

The existing DTAA between India and Sri Lanka was signed in January 2013 and entered into force in October the same year. As both Indian and Sri Lanka are members of major multilateral organizations such as OECD, G20, BEPS therefore it is essential for both the countries to implement the minimum standards under G-20 OECD BEPS Action Reports in respect of their DTAAs.

India is a signatory to the Multilateral Instrument (MLI where as Sri Lanka is not so the amendment of the India-Sri Lanka DTAA is required to update the Preamble and also to insert Principal Purpose Test (PPT) provisions to meet the minimum standards on treaty abuse under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project.

People In News

Atul Kumar Gupta: He is commerce and a law graduate who has served the chartered accountancy profession for about two decades. He was the Vice President of Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI) for the term 2019-20.

Atul Kumar Gupta has been elected as the new President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI) for the year 2020-21. Nihar Niranjan Jambusaria has been elected as the Vice President of the ICAI for 2020-21. They both were elected at a meeting of the central council in New Delhi.

Sushma Swaraj: She was an Indian politician and a Supreme Court lawyer. A senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she served as the Minister of External Affairs of India in the first Narendra Modi government (2014–2019). She was the second woman to hold the office, after Indira Gandhi. She was elected seven times as a Member of Parliament and three times as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of Indian state of Haryana. She also served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi for a short duration in 1998. She was called India's "best-loved politician" by the US daily Wall Street Journal. She passed away on August 6, 2019 due to cardiac arrest at the age of 67 years. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilan award, posthumously in the field of public affairs in 2020.

Recently, the Central government renamed Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan and Foreign Service Institute to Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service to honour of the legacy and decades of public service of the former External Affairs Minister. It was announced by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the eve of the birth anniversary of Mrs Swaraj.

Gita Sen: She is the Director of the Ramalingaswami Centre on Equity and Social Determinants of Health at the Public Health Foundation of India. She is India’s pioneering feminist scholar and an activist and has combined her 35 years of academic career with policy advocacy and activism, helping to shape the global paradigm shift on population and development.

She has won the prestigious Dan David Prize 2020 in present category. She was conferred with the prestigious award for her hard work in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive and sexual health and poverty eradication. Gita Sen shares her prize with women’s health rights advocate Debora Diniz of Brazil

Dan David Prize: The award is given by Dan David Foundation which is headquartered at Tel Aviv University, Israel. It is awarded annually in 3 categories which is past, present and future category.

This award carries prize of US$ 1 million. The award recognizes individuals or organizations, for their outstanding contributions in the fields of science, technology, culture or social welfare, for expanding the knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world.

BioAsia 2020: BioAsia is an annual biotech and life sciences forum of the Telangana state government, which is scheduled to be held from February 17 to 19, 2020 at Hyderabad.

Recently, American immunologist and oncologist Dr. Carl H June and Novartis CEO Dr. Vasant Narsimhan have been announced as the winners of Genome Valley Excellence Award by BioAsia 2020. They will be presented this award for their contributions to life sciences at a function organized by the Telangana government annual global biotechnology & life sciences forum.

Dr. Narasimhan has been selected for his new vision in the pharmaceutical business in digital technology and healthcare. He also worked in the development of 20 novel medicines, including advanced cells, gene therapy as well as vaccines and also worked on the public health issues particularly in developing countries.

Dr. Carl H June will be awarded for his work in immunotherapy, research in development of CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor- T cells) for treatment of cancer & commercialization of world’s first FDA (Food and Drug Administration, United States)- approved gene therapy.

Genome Valley Excellence Award: The award was instituted in 2004 to recognize and honour eminent individuals & organizations for their exceptional contribution to the life science research & public health. The Government of Telangana presents this special award to eminent leaders every year after a careful examination and technical consideration by the reputed jury committee appointed by it.

Rishi Sunak: He is an Indian-origin British politician. He is the son-in-law of the Indian-origin politician and Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy. In 2015, Rishi Sunak was elected to represent Richmond in Yorkshire, the constituency previously held by William Hague, a former party leader.

Recently, he has been appointed as United Kingdom’s new finance minister. He has been appointed as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. He will be replacing Sajid Javid.

Places In News

Delhi Election Results 2020: In Delhi Assembly Election, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) scored a landslide victory for the second time in a row. AAP swept aside both BJP, which was again restricted to a single digit and Congress which could not win a single seat.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjeev Jha records the biggest victory margin of over 88,000 votes from Burari Assembly/Vidhan Sabha seat. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal won the elections from New Delhi while Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia from Patparganj Assembly/Vidhan Sabha seat. Chief of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal is set to take oath as the Chief Minister of Delhi on 16 February in Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi.

Vadodara: It is a large city in Gujarat. It is here that the 6th edition of the mega industrial exhibition ‘Engiexpo 2020’ is being organized by Federation of Small Scale Industries (FSSI). The event is being organized from February 15 to 17, 2020 to promote ‘Made in India’ products. Over 10,000 industrial products will be showcased in more than 300 stalls. Several companies from Uzbekistan are also participating in the exhibition.

FSSI: It refers to Federation of Small Scale Industries. It is headquartered in Vadodara, Gujarat. The current President of FSSI is Dhankesh Patel.

NIFM: It refers to the National Institute of Financial Management, Faridabad. NIFM was established in 1993 as a registered society under the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. It is a Center of Excellence specializing in capacity building of professionals in the fields of Public Policy, Financial Management and other governance issues for promoting highest standards of professional competence and practice. It is responsible for the training of officers of various Finance and Accounts Services recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as well as the officers of Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICoAS). The Union Finance Minister is the president of the NIFM society.

Recently, the Central Government has decided to remane NIFM as as the Arun Jaitley National Institute of Financial Management (AJNIFM). Renaming was decided by the Government of India (GoI) so as to align the vision of the Institute for the future with the vision and contribution of Late Jaitley.

Late Shri Arun Jaitley was the former Union Finance Minister of India and a Padma Vibhushan awardee. He had played a stellar role during his career as the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs during the period May 26, 2014, to May 30, 2019.

UP Cabinet: The Uttar Pradesh Council of Ministers is the council in 17th Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath since 19 March 2017. As per the Constitution of India, the Uttar Pradesh Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, can have maximum 60 members. Currently there are 47 Ministers. Along with the Chief Minister, 25 are Cabinet ministers, 9 are State ministers with Independent charge and 13 are State ministers. Anandiben Patel is the present Governor of Uttar Pradesh.

Recently, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) state Cabinet, chaired by its Chief Minister(CM) Yogi Adityanath has approved the Ground Water Act-2020. The Ground Water Act-2020 has been approved with an objective of improving the falling groundwater level in the state.

Under this new Act, one has to register with the state records before installing submersible pumps either off-line or on-line. Online registration facility will also be available.

The farmers and domestic users need not pay any fee.

The cabinet has made it mandatory to install rainwater harvesting system in the buildings of all private and government schools and colleges through this act.

Registration is mandatory for boring companies along with the information update in every three months.

The act also provides for strict punishment and penalty against those who pollute the groundwater through boring pipes.

Manipur: Manipur is a state in northeastern India. Its capital city is Imphal. It is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west. Myanmar lies to its east. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Manipur are N. Biren Singh and Najma Heptulla respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh launched ‘Anganphou Hunba’ (Early Paddy Crop) programme at Arapti Mayai Leikai in Imphal East. The State government has planned to provide irrigation water by the Minor Irrigation Department to places having adequate arable land and many farmers. The Government of Manipur has also taken up steps to produce sufficient quantity of fishes by providing loans to 800 selected fish farmers. The State Government seeks to save around 400 crore rupees spent every year in importing fishes from outside. Van Dhan Yojana too is being implemented in the hill districts to save horticultural products. The scheme will be introduced in the valley districts.

Science and Technology

OneWeb company: It is a UK based company. The company is headquartered in London, England. The CEO of OneWeb company is Adrian Steckel.

The UK-based OneWeb company start-up is building a mega-constellation in the sky to deliver broadband internet to all corners of the globe. It has sent 34 satellites into orbit on a single Soyuz rocket, from Baikonur port, Kazakhstan. The company seeks to have the full network in operation by the end of 2021.

The company seeks to have the full network in operation by the end of 2021. Its intended goal is to provide internet services to "everyone, everywhere" delivering much-needed connectivity to rural and remote places as well as to a range of markets including aero, maritime, land mobility, cellular backhaul.

This is the 50th Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and the company plans to perform 19 more medium-lift Soyuz from three spaceports by 2021.

Baby Giant Planet: The scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology has discovered the nearest-known ‘baby giant planet’ which is named as “2MASS 1155-7919 b”. The data from Gaia space observatory was used by the scientists to find the baby giant planet.

This massive newborn planet is closer to Earth and is located in the Epsilon Chamaeleontis Association. It lies only about 330 light-years from our solar system.

This planet which has only ten times the mass of Jupiter orbits a star that is about 5 million years old.

The discovery offers an exciting new way to study how gas giants form.

The findings were published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.

Apiary on Wheels: Apiary on Wheels is a holistic approach to address the challenges faced by the beekeepers. It is a platform to carry 20 Bee Boxes from one place to another without any difficulty. The vehicle has 2 large wheels on either side of a 4 separate compartments to place the boxes. It is designed in such a way that it can easily be connected with tractors or trolleys. It is connected with a solar panel system that automatically triggers a fan inside the compartment as soon as the temperature reaches 35-degree centigrade or above. Cooling with the help of solar panels and sugar drips with zero risks to the lives of bees.

Recently, Union Minister of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Nitin Gadkari flagged off 'Apiary on Wheels' on 13 February. The concept designed by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) was launched as a part of National Honey Mission launched in 2017. It aims to addresses the challenges faced by the beekeepers. The mission since its launch has been training beekeepers, educating unemployed youths, distributing bee boxes in order for them to earn extra income through beekeeping activities at their doorstep. Under the mission, KVIC provides training and awareness to Bee farmers.

Sports

Pullela Gopichand: He is a former Indian Badminton player. He founded the Gopichand Badminton Academy in 2008. He has been instrumental in shaping the careers of Saina Nehwal (Bronze medalist in 2012 summer Olympics), PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap among others. Gopichand had won the All England Badminton Championship in 2001 and received Government of India’s Arjuna award (1999), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2001), Padma Shri (2005), Dronacharya award (2009) and Padma Bhushan (2014).

Recently, India's chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has been given an honourable mention at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coaches Lifetime Achievement Awards 2019. He is the 1st Indian coach to be honoured with this Lifetime award by the Olympics Committee.

IOC: It refers to International Olympic Committee. It was founded in 1894 in Paris, France. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The current President of International Olympic Committee is Thomas Bach.

Salem: It is here that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi Palaniswami inaugurated the Salem Cricket Foundation (SCF) cricket ground in Valapadi. The ground was built on behalf of Salem Cricket Foundation. Former BCCI president N Srinivasan and TNCA president Rupa Gurunath along with cricketer Rahul Dravid were also present on the occasion.

Manpreet Singh: He is the Indian National Hockey team captain since 2017. Since then, he has played over 260 matches for the national team. Manpreet Singh has successfully led India to victories in FIH Series Finals and FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019. He represented India at the Olympics previously at the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh was named Player of the Year for 2019 by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). He a midfielder and he has become the first Indian to win the accolade since the awards were introduced in 1999. He beat competition from Belgium's Arthur van Dorren and Lucas Villa of Argentina, who came second and third. Indian midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad was awarded FIH’s Rising Star of the Year (male) award and striker Lalremsiami won the FIH Rising Star of the Year (female) 2019 award.

FIH: It is an acronym for the International Hockey Federation. FIH is the governing body of indoor field hockey and field hockey. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The organization has conferred the Player of the year award to men and women since 1998. The young category of the honorary award was added in 2001.

Amit Panghal: He is the world silver-medalist who became the first Indian to claim a silver medal at the world championship after notching up a gold at the Asian meet.

He has been ranked number one by IOC's Boxing Task Force rankings for Olympic Qualifiers in a 52 kilogram category. The list was released by the International Olympic Committee's Boxing Task Force today ahead of next month's Olympic Qualifiers.

National Snooker Championship: Aditya Mehta and Vidya Pillai has won the National Snooker Championship. The National Snooker Championship was held in Pune, Maharashtra. Aditya Mehta defeated the world champion Pankaj Advani to win the men’s title of the National Snooker Championship. He represented the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB). He defeated Pankaj Advani with a score line of 6-2.

Vidya Pillai of Karnataka defeated Amee Kamani of Madhya Pradesh to win the women’s title of the National Snooker Championship. She defeated Amee Kamani with a score line of 3-2 to defend her senior ladies snooker title.

Pole Vault: Pole vaulting is a track and field event in which a person uses a long flexible pole (which today is usually made either of fiberglass or carbon fiber) as an aid to jump over a bar. Pole jumping competitions were known to the ancient Greeks, Cretans and Celts.

Sweden’s Pole Vaulter, Armand Duplantis has broken the Pole Vault World Record which was set by Renaud Lavillenie of France. Renaud Lavillenie had set the previous world record of 6.16 metres in February 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. Armand Duplantis broke the world record with a jump of 20 feet 2.9 inches or 6.17 metres at Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland.

Kaamya Karthikeyan: She is a 12 year old Indian class VII student. She has becomes youngest girl in the world to climb Mt Aconcagua. She, on February 1, 2020 unfurled the tricolour on the mountain peak. Mt Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America and outside of Asia. She summited Argentinian mountain which is 6962 meters tall.

She has also scaled the highest peaks in Africa, Australia and Europe in the past, which includes two peaks with heights of over 6000 meters above the sea level.

Current Affairs Feburary 2 to Feburary 8

Arts

Udyanotsav: It is the festival that is open to public every year in February to March. It is a gardening festival of the Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The gardens are a blend of the Mughal and English style of gardening which is inspired by the Persian Charbagh style. It is replete with canals, fountains, elaborate flower beds, well-trimmed shrubs, and a near endless variety of flowers.

The President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind inaugurated the annual “Udyanotsav” of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Mughal Gardens will remain open for the general public from February 5, 2020 to March 08, 2020. The main attraction this year at Udyanotsav, beside Tulips and Exotic flowers, are bulbous flowerings. Around 10 thousand Tulips are specially cultivated in Mughal Gardens and they are in vivid colours of red, orange, white, and yellow. Flower Carpets in magnificent designs will also be on display in the Central Lawns revealing the skill and craft of the gardeners of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Rajasthan: Rajasthan is a state in northern India. It comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert (also known as the "Great Indian Desert"). It shares a border with the Pakistani provinces of Punjab to the northwest and Sindh to the west, along the Sutlej-Indus river valley. It is the largest Indian state by area and the seventh largest by population. Its capital is Jaipur. The Governor and Chief Minister of Rajasthan are Kalraj Mishra and Ashok Gehlot respectively.

Recently, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) ceritfied Pink City of Jaipur as the World Heritage site. The UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay visited India to present the certificate. The World Heritage City certificate was handed over by UNESCO Director General to Minister of Urban Development Shanti Dhariwal.

The historic walled city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, was founded in 1727 AD under the patronage of Sawai Jai Singh II. It serves as the capital city of the culturally-rich state of Rajasthan.

Mystic Kalinga Literary Award: Mystic Kalinga Literary Award has been instituted to recognize and celebrate prolific and inspiring writers, poets and performers. This prestigious Award carries a cash prize of Rs one lakh along with a khadi shawl and certificate for the laureate.

The prestigious Mystic Kalinga Literary Award (Indian and Global Languages) was presented to the noted Odia and English writer Manoj Das. He was presented the award at the Mystic Kalinga Festival (MKF) held at Bhubneswar, Odisha for his significant contribution to the literature and culture of Odia. Manoj Das who is currently teaching English literature and Philosophy at the Sri Aurobindo International University in Puducherry was recently conferred Padma Bhushan, the country's third-highest civilian award. He had also been conferred with the Saraswati Samman award.

Economics

Union Budget: The Union Budget of India also referred to as the Annual Financial Statement in the Article 112 of the Constitution of India, is the annual budget of the Republic of India. The Government presents it on the first day of February so that it could be materialized before the beginning of new financial year in April.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second and 90th Union Budget of India for 2020-2021 in the Lok Sabha. The Finance Minister unveiled a series of far-reaching reforms, aimed at energizing the Indian economy through a combination of short-term, medium-term, and long term measures. The government has taken some measures towards reaching the target of a $5 trillion economy by the end of 2022.

The Budget introduced several new schemes besides allocating new funds for the already running Government schemes such as PM-Kisan, Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat Mission, and others. The Union Budget 2020-2021 aims to boost incomes and enhance purchasing power.

The Union Budget has been structured on the overall theme of Ease of Living. The three prominant themes around which the budget has been woven are Aspirational India, Economic Development and Caring Society.

1. Aspirational India:

Under this theme, Union Budget 2020-21 with an allocation of Rs. 4,82401 cr focused on the aspects of:-

a. Agriculture, Irrigation, and Rural Development

b. Wellness, Water, and Sanitation Development and

c. Education and Skills Development

So that all sections of the society could seek better standards of living, with access to health, education and better jobs.

2. Economic development:

Under this theme, economic development for all i.e. – is ensuring SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas”. Union Budget 2020-21 allocated a sum of Rs 2,37,604 cr for:-

a. Industry, Commerce and Investment

b. Infrastructure

c. New economy — led by startups and the tech ecosystem.

3. Caring Society:

Under this theme, the main focus was on creating a caring society which is both humane and compassionate a sum of Rs 62,626 cr was allocated.

a. Women & child

b. Social Welfare

c. Culture and Tourism.

d. Environment and Climate Change

The above themes are held together by Corruption free as well as policy-driven good governance and clean and sound financial sector.

The Key Budget Highlights are:-

INCOME TAX:

The income tax rates have been revised.

5% tax for in11come between Rs 2.5-5 lakh

10% tax for income between Rs 5-7.5 lakh as against 20%

15% tax for income between Rs 7.5-10 lakh as against 20%

20% tax for income between Rs 10-12.5 lakh as against 30%

25% tax for income between Rs 12.5-15 lakh as against 30%

30% tax for income above Rs 15 lakh

The Finance Minister said that the income tax rates would be significantly reduced for those who forego reliefs, exemptions.

HEALTHCARE

Rs 690 billion will be spent toward healthcare spending

TRANSPORT

100 more airports are planned by 2024.

Over 6,000 km of highways in 12 lots will be monetized by 2024.

One major airport will be privatized.

High-speed train between Mumbai and Ahmadabad will be actively pursued.

16-POINT ACTION PLAN FOR FARMERS

According to the Finance Minister, the government is committed to doubling farmers' income by 2022. She proposed to allocate Rs 2.83 lakh crore for agriculture and rural sectors such as irrigation.

MANUFACTURING

Those schemes that encourage manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging will be introduced

Private sector to build Data Centre Parks throughout the country will be encouraged.

80 billion rupees over five years to be provided for quantum technologies and applications and

Milk processing capacity which is to be doubled by 2025.

BANKING/INSURANCE

Insurance cover for bank depositors to be raised to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh

INFRASTRUCTURE

5 new smart cities in public-private partnership mode.

Delhi-Mumbai Expressway to be completed by 2023.

100 more airports to be developed by 2024.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the estimated nominal GDP growth rate for 2020-21 is 10 per cent. She further added that wealth creators would be respected in this country and tax harassment would not be tolerated.

RBI: It refers to Reserve Bank of India. The Reserve Bank of India is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. RBI is the regulator of entire Banking in India. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. RBI was set up in 1935 in Kolkata under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. The 25th Governor of RBI is Shaktikant Das.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will conduct the “Financial Literacy Week 2020” from February 10 to 14, 2020.

The theme of the Financial Literacy Week 2020 is “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)”.

The Financial Literacy Week 2020 will aim to aware people about the formalization, collateral free loan, discounting of receivables, rehabilitation of stressed units and timely repayment.

Financial Literacy Week (FLW) is being conducted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) every year since 2016 to disseminate financial education messages on a particular theme across the country.

Defence

11th DefExpo 2020: The 11th edition of biennial Defence Expo-2020 was held in Lucknow the capital of Uttar Pradesh on the 5th of February 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over the inaugural Ceremony. The main theme of DefExpo India-2020 was “India: the emerging defence manufacturing hub”. The aim of this 5-day event is to cover the entire spectrum of the country's aerospace, defence and security interests. The objective of the event was also to bring the leading technologies in the defence sector under one roof and provide a myriad of opportunities for the government, private manufacturers, and startups. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in coordination with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had organized the event.

More than 200 partnerships involving Signing of MoUs, Transfer of Technology (ToTs) , Product launches were concluded on the third day of DefExpo 2020, at ceremony tilted “Bandhan.” The pacts were signed by representatives of various DPSUs, Indian private Defence and foreign companies in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The MoUs were signed to achieve Prime Minister’s 5 billion dollar defence exports target in next 5 years.

The Bandhan ceremony witnessed more than 13 product launches, 124 MoUs between DPSUs, private and global defence manufacturing companies. 23 MoUs were signed between the UP Government and private companies. 71 MoUs were also inked including 14 between Indian and Russian companies.

During the event, the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) certificate for Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) was issued to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH): The LUH is a single-engine, lightweight and highly agile three-ton utility helicopter. It is indigenously designed and developed to meet the operational requirements of the Army and the Indian Air Force. The LUH will soon replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. Amogha-3 and Varunastra was also launched by BDL in the event.

Amogha-3: It is the third generation anti-Tank Guided Missile. It is designed and developed by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) with support of DRDO. It's first model was handed over to Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh.

Varunastra: The Varunastra is an Indian advanced heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo. It was developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory of the DRDO for the Indian Navy.

IAF: It refers Indian Air Force. IAF is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the air forces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. The motto of the Indian Air Force: Nabha Sprsham Deeptam which means 'The Glory that touches the sky'. The Air Chief Marshal of India is Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria.

Recently, the indigenous bio-jet fuel aircraft AN-32 of Indian Air Force powered with 10% blend of bio-jet fuel took off and landed successfully in Leh airport.

This is for the first time that both engines of the aircraft were powered by the bio-jet indigenous fuel.

The bio-jet fuel is manufactured from “Tree-Borne oils” which are grown and procured from Chhattisgarh tribal areas. This will help in reducing India’s dependence on crude oil imports and also will assist in reducing carbon e---------------------------------------------------------------------------------missions.

Leh: Leh is located at an altitude of 10,682 ft above mean sea level. It is amongst one of the world's highest and most difficult operational airfield as it is prone to extreme weather conditions. Even when the weather condition is clear in Leh, the landing and taking off an aircraft is chalenging due to reduced power output of the aircraft engines in the rarefied atmosphere, turbulent wind conditions and proximity of mountainous terrain.

Matla Abhiyan: It is unique coastal security exercise conducted by Indian Navy. The Matla Abhiyan was organized in Kolkata, West Bengal. This exercise is named after the river Matla. The main aim of this exercise is to interact with local coastal communities to spread awareness on coastal security and understand the navigational complexities in the Sunderban deltaic waters.

Under the exercise, two naval boats were flagged off to move along the river Matla in the Sundarbans region up to Hemnagar along the International Trade Protocol route between India and Bangladesh. This route was chosen by the Indian Navy as this route is sensitive and deadly equipment can be dropped off easily.

Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, commands the navy. It was founded in 5 September 1612. The Navy Day is observed annually on the 4th of December.The Current, Chief of Naval Staff is Admiral Karambir Singh.

Environment

Locusts invasion: Locust invasion occurs when locust (family- Acrididae) swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation. They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa. The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is notorious.

Recently, Pakistan and Somalia declared locusts a ‘national emergency’ after worst locust invasion.

These insects have caused major damage to the food supply in one of the world’s poorest countries & and most vulnerable regions in the world. Somalia is the 1st country to make such a declaration. The country's declaration aims to intensify the national effort to combat these insects.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan too has declared a national emergency due to the massive locusts attack. These locusts have destroyed entire crops in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The National Action Plan (NAP) now needs Rs 730 crore to overcome this crisis.

WHO: It is an acronym of World Health Organization. WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

WHO has declared an international emergency over the novel corona virus from China. The organization has declared an emergency as the disease has spread to 18 other countries apart from China where it originated.

As the disease can spread through human-to-human contact it is becoming more dangerous. According to WHO, there are more than 7,711 confirmed cases and 12,167 suspected cases all over the world. The spread of the disease now fulfils the criteria of Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC) that is why emergency has been declared.

----------------------------------------------------------------The declaration of a global emergency triggers recommendations to all countries. It is aimed at preventing or reducing t-------------------------------------------------------------------------------he cross-border spread of disease.

Wetlands: Wetlands are land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally. Inland wetlands include marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains, and swamps. Coastal wetlands include saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and even coral reefs. Fish ponds, rice paddies, and salt pans are human-made wetlands. Wetlands are a habitat for a dense variety of plant and animal species and also rich with the biodiversity which is declining according to the researchers estimates.

World Wetlands Day: It is celebrated globally on the 2nd of February every year to mark the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The main aim of celebrating the day is to raise the awareness about the crucial role played by wetlands for people and our planet.

The theme of World Wetlands Day 2020 is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”. The theme indicates a unique opportunity to highlight the declining status of the wetland biodiversity. Its aim is make aware and take actions for conservation of wetlands to reverse its losses. The wetlands are estimated to be disappearing with the declining rate of three times faster than forests.

The Ramsar Sites in India are Deepor Beel in Assam, East Calcutta Wetlands in West Bengal, Chilka Lake in Orissa, Chandertal Wetland in Himachal Pradesh, Bhoj Wetlands in Madhya Pradesh, Asthamudi Wetland in Kerala and Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Orissa.

Indian polity

Gram Nyayalayas: Gram Nyayalayas are village courts which were established for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas across the country at their door steps. The main aim of the judicial body is to provide inexpensive justice in rural areas.

For the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas Parliament enacted Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008. The Act came into force from 2 October 2009. As per the ACt, a Gram Nyayalaya can have jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court. As specified in the First, Second and Third schedule of the Act, Gram Nyayalayas have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences and nature of suits. Gram Nyayalayas have to follow special procedures in civil matters, in a manner it deems just and reasonable in the interest of justice and can also allow for conciliation of the dispute and settlement of the same in the first instance.

Recently, The Supreme Court of India has directed the state governments to issue notifications establishing “Gram Nyayalayas” within 4 weeks. The apex court of India has also asked the High Courts to accelerate consultation with department concerned on the matter.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana took into account the fact that several States have issued notifications for establishing “Gram Nyayalayas” but the only ones in Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are functioning. The bench also noted that the States of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Telangana, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Odisha have not yet filed their affidavits in compliance with the earlier directions issued by it.

At present, only 208 Gram Nyayalayas are functioning as against 2,500 required to function according to the 12th five-year plan.

Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. It is led by the Prime Minister. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. The prime minister and ministers of the rank of cabinet minister can only be the members of the Union Cabinet in accordance with Article 75.

Recently, the Union Cabinet gave its approval to bring cooperative banks under the regulatory mechanism of Reserve Bank of India. The cabinet on 5 february 2020 approved amendments to the Banking Regulation Act thus allowing multi-state cooperative banks to come under the regulation of the RBI. The announcement was made by Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadkar after a cabinet meeting. This move aims to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the functioning of Cooperative Banks and also to prevent crisis situations that Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank faced.

The cabinet has also approved the IIIT Laws Amendment Bill 2020. According to the bill, 5 IIITs in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model at Surat, Bhagalpur, Bhopal, Agartala, and Raichur are to be declared as institutions of national importance. Now, at present the number of Institutions of National importance has gone upto 25.

Indian Policy

PFRDA: It refers to the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. The PFRDA is a statutory body. It is the pension regulator of India. It was established by Government of India on 23 August 2003 and was authorized by Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Chairperson of PFRDA is Hemant G. Contractor.

Recently, PFRDA, the regulator of the National Pension System (NPS), has made certain amendments in the pension guidelines. It has doubled the minimum net worth criterion for pension fund managers to Rs 50 crore from Rs 25 crore. This enhancement in the minimum net worth criterion for pension fund managers will bring pension funds on par with mutual funds which have to meet a minimum net worth requirement of Rs 50 crores as per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) rules.

Provision for licenses to have indefinite validity has also been made so that it will help the pension sector to grow to new levels. Previously, the licenses of pension fund managers was granted for a period of 5 years but now the license will remain valid until it is cancelled by the regulator.

Ministry of Tourism: The Ministry of Tourism, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to the development and promotion of tourism in India. It was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in New Delhi. This Ministry is headed by the Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) Prahlad Singh Patel.

Recently, in order to provide an impetus to tourism the Ministry of Tourism sanctioned 7 projects worth Rs. 594 Crores for UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It was sanctioned under its schemes of Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD which provides financial assistance to State Governments / UT Administrations, including J&K and Ladakh, for development of tourism infrastructure.

MPEDA: It refers to Marine Products Export Development Authority. MPEDA is a company of the Government of India. It is headquartered at Kochi. It was constituted on 24 August 1972, under the Marine Products Export Development Authority Act 1972 (No. 13 of 1972). MPEDA functions under the Department of Commerce, Government of India and acts as a coordinating agency with different Central and State Government establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities. The role of MPEDA under the statute is comprehensive - covering fisheries of all kinds, increasing exports, specifying standards, processing, marketing, extension and training in various aspects of the industry.

Recently, MPEDA along with the Central government has proposed to take up the upgradation and modernization of 25 fishing harbours in the country. The estimated outlay of the project is Rs.2500 crore. The Project aims to increase the value addition of marine products which was around 5% in India compared with 50% in South East Asian countries.

Under the project, two harbours namely Thoppumpady in Kochi, Kerala and Nizampatnam in Andhra Pradesh would be developed into harbours of international standards in the first phase of the modernisation programme.

The project includes preparation of the detailed project report (DPR) for harbour modernisation. The work for this project has been entrusted to Ernst and Young.

After getting approval for the Detailed Project Planning (DPR), MPEDA plans to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the project.

International

World Cancer Day: World Cancer Day was established on 4 February 2000 at the World Cancer Summit Against Cancer for the New Millenium, which was held in Paris. February 4 is celebrated globally to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that cancer cases will rise by 81% in low and middle-income countries by 2040 because of a lack of investment in prevention and care.

The 2019-2021 campaign theme this year is 'I Am and I Will'. The theme seeks raise awareness against the negative attitude and fatalistic belief that nothing can be done about cancer. It instead promotes how our personal actions can have a powerful impact on the future. It reflects on how every individual can do to raise awareness of cancer and asks to take pledge and action in fight against cancer.

World Cancer Day started a three-year campaign under the tagline of 'We can. I can.' from 2016 to 2018.

Iraq: Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, city of Iraq is Baghdad. The currency used here is Iraqi dinar.

Recently, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Iraq. He was appointed by President Barhim Salih. He will be replacing Adil Abdul-Mahdi who resigned in November 2019 due to anti-government protests.

Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi is an Iraqi politician who has been serving as the current Iraqi Prime Minister since February 2020. He served twice as communications minister under Former PM Nouri al-Maliki from May 2006 until August 2007 and from 2010 to 2012.

Maldives: The Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small independent island nation in South Asia. It is located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 kilometres from the Asian continent. Its capital is Male. The currency used here is Maldivian rufiyaa.

Recently, Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations association and became its 54th member. This was announced by the Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland on 1 February 2020. Maldives had become its member in 1982 but had left the Commonwealth association in 2016 under President Abdulla Yameen citing that their treatment by Commonwealth was “unjust and unfair”.

This island nation was welcomed in the Commonwealth only after ensuring Maldives’ alignment with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and also after consulting other Commonwealth nations. The country will now be a part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda on 22nd June to 28th June 2020.

President Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih who was elected in 2018 had reapplied for the membership.

The "Commonwealth of Nations" is a political association of countries that were mostly former territories of the British Empire. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat which was established in 1965 supports Commonwealth member countries to achieve development, democracy and peace.

Srilanka: Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. It is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The capital of Sri Lanka is Colombo. The currency used here is Sri Lankan rupee. The President and the Prime Minister are Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa respectively.

Recently, on 4th February 2020, Srilanka celebrated its 72nd Independence Day. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa presided over the celebrations. On this day, Sri Lanka became an independent nation after getting independence from Britain. The National anthem in the event this year was only sung only in Sinhalese. Since 2016, the national anthem was sung in both Sinhalese and Tamil in the main ceremony.

United States: The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C. The currency used here is United States Dollar.

Recently, the President of United States Donald Trump has been acquitted of all impeachment charges in his US Senate impeachment trial. The US Senate acquitted President Trump on two articles of impeachment that are the abuse of power and obstruction to Congress. The votes to convict Trump fell far short of the two-thirds majority required in the 100-seat Senate to remove him from office under the U.S. Constitution. The ruling Republican party has 53 seats while the Democrats have 47. He can now concentrate on running for re-election.

Donald Trump, the 45th and incumbent president of the United States was placed on impeachment trial charging him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment trial began in the U.S. Senate on January 16, 2020, and concluded on February 5. It was only the third impeachment trial of a president in US history. In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached but was acquitted by the Senate. In 1974, Richard Nixon faced an inquiry, but he resigned before he could be impeached. In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached but was acquitted by the Senate. After an impeachment inquiry between September to November 2019, President Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.

National

India-Maldives: India and Maldives on 2nd February 2020 signed 5 MoUs for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll at a cost of 2.49 million dollars. A 6th MoU to set up a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi was also signed. All six projects are grant projects which falls under India’s High Impact Community Development Scheme (HICDP).

The MOUs were signed between the High Commissioner of India Sunjay Sudhir, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid and Addu City Council.

The 5 MoUs were signed for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll. The main of the MoU is to establish the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll which will not only generate local employment but also enhance eco-tourism opportunities in Addu. It will also enhance partnership between the two countries. Addu is a city in Maldives that contains several inhabited Islands.

IOC: It refers to Indian Oil Corporation. Indian Oil Corporation Limited, commonly known as IndianOil is an Indian government owned oil and gas company. It was founded in 1959. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is the largest commercial oil company in the country. The current Chairman of Indian Oil Corp is Sanjiv Singh.

Recently IOC signed its 1st term contract for Russian crude oil. The contract was signed to import up to 2 million tonne of Urals grade crude oil from Rosneft of Russia.

AS India is the 3rd largest Energy Consumer in the world, India imports globally 83% of oil to meet its oil need. Two-thirds of the imports come from the Middle East, Iraq being the biggest supplier followed by Saudi Arabia. India in its efforts to diversify sourcing of crude oil (Importing crude oil from non-OPEC countries) and in enhancing India’s energy security has signed the deal with Russia.

International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy: It is an annual award constituted by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation. The foundation was established in 1950. Since then, it has been leading the efforts to completely eradicate the disease and erase the stigma surrounding it. The award has been launched to commemorate the compassion of Mahatma Gandhi as he was a big crusader against leprosy and he carried great compassion for patients with leprosy. The awards aim to recognize the work of individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly to fight this disease and the prejudices associated with it.

Recently, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind presented the International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy for the year 2019 in New Delhi.

The award under the Indian nomination (individual) category was presented to Dr N.S. Dharmashaktu and the award under the institutional category was awarded to Leprosy Mission Trust.

The President also announced that India has accomplished the level of leprosy elimination which is defined as less than one case per ten thousand population.

India-Central Asia Business Council: The first ever India-Central Asia Business Council meeting was launched in New Delhi on 6th February 2020. The event was organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addressed the meeting. The aim of the meeting was to bring together business chambers of India and all five Central Asian states, namely Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to collaborate and strengthen trade and investment partnership. The main focus will be on oil and gas, renewable and non-renewable energy, life sciences, pharmaceutical, agro-food processing, IT, urban infrastructure, tourism and transport.

The council is the result of India and Central Asian dialogue held in Samarkand, January 2019. The Dialogue and the Council formed are part of India’s Central Asia Policy. India, under Central Asia Policy aims to not only build strong political relations but also to strengthen security cooperation.

People In News

Shaktikanta Das: Shaktikanta Das (born 26 February 1957) is an Indian retired 1980 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Tamil Nadu cadre. He is currently serving as the 25th governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He was earlier a member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission and India's Sherpa to the G20.

Recently, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has been named the ‘Central Banker of the Year 2020’ for the Asia-Pacific region. He was chosen by financial intelligence magazine The Banker. He won the accolade for bringing in measures to tighten the rules around NBFCs. According to The Banker, the award is presented to the bankers who have “best managed to stimulate growth and stabilize their economy.

M Ajit Kumar: He is a 1984 batch IRS officer hailing from Kozhikode. He was earlier a Member (Administration and Vigilance) in CBIC. He has worked in many capacities in the department including Directorate of Vigilance in New Delhi, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in Mumbai, Principal Chief Commissioner of GST Zone for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and Principal Chief Commissioner of Customs zones in Chennai. He is also a recipient of the World Customs Organization certificate of merit for the year 2019.

Recently, he was appointed as Chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) by the Government of India. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment. The new Chairman’s immediate responsibilities will include accelerating the Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenues and to deal with the changes introduced in customs duties in the Union Budget for 2020.

CBIT: It refers to Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. It was founded in 1 January 1964. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Pramod Agrawal: He is a 1991 batch IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer. He served as the principal secretary for urban development and housing department in Madhya Pradesh (MP), Bhopal.

Recently, He assumed charge as the new chairman and managing director of Coal India Ltd. He succeeded Anil Kumar Jha who retired on 31st January 2020.

Gopal Baglay: He has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. He will be replacing Taranjit Sandhu, who has currently been appointed as Indian Ambassador to U.S. At present, Gopal Baglay is serving as Joint Secretary at the Prime Minister of India’s (PMO) Office.

Places In News

Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh is the second largest Indian state by area. It borders the states of Uttar Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the southeast, Maharashtra to the south, Gujarat to the west, and Rajasthan to the northwest. The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh is Kamal Nath and the Governor of Madhya Pradesh is Lal Ji Tandon.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh won the award for implementation of PMMVY.The award was presented by Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smrity Irani to Madhya Pradesh Minister for Women and Child Development Imarti Devi and Principal Secretary Anupam Rajan for the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana in MP. Indore district bagged the first place for better performance of the PMMVY scheme.

PMMVY: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana. This initiative is a maternity benefit program run by the government of India. It was introduced in 2016 and is implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Under the programme, a cash amount of Rs 5000 is provided to pregnant women and lactating mothers. The scheme provides compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.

Jammu Kashmir: It is the new Union Territory which came into existance after Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, was passed by both houses of the Parliament of India in August 2019.

Recently, the Minister of North Eastern Development Dr Jitendra Singh chaired the meeting to fast track the implementation of Ujh Multipurpose (National) Project, Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting was attended by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Power and other officers from state government of Punjab.

The Meeting was held to fast track complete utilization of India’s rights under Indus Water Treaty. The project which is to be constructed on across River Ujh is a tributary of River Ravi. This project will not only help India utilize the waters of Eastern Rivers but also help to store 781 million cubic meters of water of River Ujh.

Indus Water Treaty: The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. The treaty was signed on September 19, 1960. The signing of the treaty was brokered by the World Bank. As per the agreement, the waters of eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej were given to India and the control over waters flowing in the western rivers Indus, Chenab and Jhelum were given to Pakistan.

Guwahati: Guwahati is the largest city in the Northeastern Indian state of Assam and also the largest metropolis in the northeastern India.

Recently, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) signed MoU with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CSIR-CFTRI). The MoU was signed to set up a Liaison Office in Guwahati, Assam with an aim to provide technical support to the food industries in the North East region.

CSIR−CFTRI: It is an acronym for Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Food Technological Research Institute. It is one of the constituent laboratory under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It was opened on 21 October 1950 in Mysore, Karnataka. The pioneering Institute works in the area of Food Science and Technology and Human Resource Development.

Telangana: Telangana is a state in India situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. Its capital is Hyderabad. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Telangana is K. Chandrashekar Rao and Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan respectively.

Recently, India’s biggest rural technical festival named 'Antahpragnya 2020' was held in Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT), Basar, Nirmal District, Telangana. District Collector of Nirmal, M Prashanthi, inaugurated the festival. The theme for this year's festival was “Spot and encourage rural tech innovators”. It was organized by the team of Antahpragnya in collaboration with SSERD (Society for Space Education, Research and Development) with an aim to create awareness about the exciting career in space.

The festival showcased 300 prototypes, working models, exhibits technologies such as automatic switch for water, homemade electricity, smoke absorber, automatic street lighting system, smart dustbins, zero budget farming, automatic irrigation and others.
Maharashtra: Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. The state was founded on 1 May 1960. The day is celebrated as Maharashtra Day in the state. The capital of Maharashtra is Mumbai. The Governor and Chief Minister of Maharashtra are Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Uddhav Thackeray respecitvely.

Recently, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its in-principle approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra. The new major port will be developed on land lord model. Total cost of the project is likely to be around Rs.65,544 crore.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be formed with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) as the lead partner with equity participation equal to or more than 50% to implement the project.

The SPV will be responsible for the development of the port infrastructure, including construction of breakwater, reclamation with the establishment of connectivity to the hinterland. All the business activities would be undertaken under public private partnership (PPP) mode by private developers.

With the development of Vadhavan port, India is expected to enter the list of top 10 container ports in the world.

Science and Technology

DST: It refers to Department of Science and Technology. The DSF works under the Ministry of Science and Technology. It was founded in May 1971. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, DST launched a special scheme called “Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI)”. The scheme aims to create shared, professionally managed and strong Science and Technology infrastructure in India. The SATHI scheme will enable academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs to offer high-end analytical testing. This will not only help to avoid duplication, reduce the dependency on foreign sources but also foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions.
Christina Koch: She is a 41 year old astronaut from USA. She broke the world record for the most time spent by a woman in space. She has spent 328 days on International Space Station (ISS), surpassing the previous record of 289 days was held by fellow American Peggy Whitson.

She returned home safely after an 11 month mission.

Sports

Australian Open 2020: The Australian Open is a tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. It features men's and women's singles, men's, women's, and mixed doubles, junior's championships, and wheelchair, legends, and exhibition events. The Australian Open was started in 1905 in only Men Singles category, by the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia (Now Australia) and the first the category “Women’s Singles” was held in 1922.

Novak Djokovic beat Austrian Dominic Thiem in five sets to successfully defend his Australian Open men’s singles title in Melbourne, Australia. He has become only the 3rd man to win at least 8 titles. He has also become the first tennis player in the Open Era of men’s singles tennis to win a Grand Slam in 3 different decades. Ken Rosewall from Australia won Grand Slam titles in 3 different decades between the 1950s and 1970s but not all of them came in the Open Era. Novak Djokovic is now only 2 behind Rafael Nadal (19) and 3 behind Roger Federer (20) on the elite list which is being dominated by the Big Three since the start of the new millennium.

Sofia Kenin defeated Garbiñe Muguruza to win the Women’s Singles title.

Rubigula: It is a Flame-Throated Bulbul. It is the state bird of Goa. Rubigula has been unveiled as the official mascot for the Goa 2020 National Games in Panaji, Goa. The State will be hosting the 36th edition of the National Games from 20th October to 4th November 2020. The event will see participation by 36 states and union territories, 12,000 athletes, officials and will host 37 sports disciplines across 24 venues in Goa. Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju and the Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant were present at the unveiling ceremony.

National Weightlifting Championships: Arunachal Pradesh'a weightlifter Sambo Lapung created a new record of 188 kg in clean and jerk event in the National Weightlifting Championships. The previous national record of clean and jerk was 187 kg. He has also won the Gold medal in the Men’s 89 kg category of the National Weightlifting Championships that was held in Kolkata.

In the 35th Senior Women's National Weightlifting Championships, Rakhi Halder from West Bengal won the Gold medal in 64kg category. She lifted 93 kg in snatch and 117 kg in clean and jerk to won the Gold medal. The 35th edition of Senior Women's National Weightlifting Championships has been held at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra in Kolkata.

Deepa Malik: She is an Indian para-athlete. She has been elected as the President of the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI). She replaced Gursharan Singh, who is the acting interim president. She is also the recepient of the Padmashri Award in 2017 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2019.

Ironman Triathlon: An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation. It consists of swim, bicycle ride and a run, raced in that order. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

Niket Dalal, a 38-year-old from Aurangabad has created history by becoming the first completely visually-challenged athlete to finish an Ironman triathlon.

He completed the grueling Ironman 70.3 — consisting of a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km bicycle ride and a 21.1 km run — with assistance from his sighted companion, Arham Shaikh. Mr. Shaikh is the youngest Indian to finish the 5000 km coast-to-coast cross-country race in the U.S.

The race was completed in seven hours and 44 minutes, with 46 mins to spare by Dalal and Mr. Shaikh. They both stood second in their category of physically disabled athletes, and were the first Indian team to finish a Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

Mo O’Brien: She is a 60-year-old pharmacy worker. She has become the first deaf person on record to row an ocean by finishing a 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic with her daughter Bird Watts, and their friend Claire Allinson. The Ocean Rowing Society, which is responsible for monitoring ocean rowing records, confirmed that she is the world first deaf person who rowed almost 3,000 miles (4,800km) of the Atlantic Ocean.

Current Affairs January 26 to January 31

Economics

Indian Railways: Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world's second largest has over 70,000 passenger coaches and more than 11,000 locomotives. The First train in India ran between Bombay and Thane on the 16th of April 1853. Indian Railways transports almost 2.5 crore passengers daily.

Recently, the Indian railways launched a high capacity parcel van at Delhi Safdarjung Railway Station. The Parcel van was designed and manufactured in Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory. The Speed of the train’s speed is 130 km per hour. The Indian Railways has launched an exclusive Banana Container train to boost the exports of the fruit.

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), along with State Government of Andhra Pradesh and one of the largest member exporter of banana, dispatched the first shipment of 890 MTs of high quality bananas, loaded in 43 refrigerated containers, from Tadipatri, Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai for export to international markets. More than 500 farmers cultivating bananas in more than 1800 hectares have been trained to boost the production and export of the fruit from Anantpur and nearby districts. Indian APEDA with the support of the State Government and exporters aims to provide a good opportunity for India to increase its share in the world trade of banana.

Economic Survey: The Economic Survey is a detailed report card on the economic performance in the year. The Survey brings out the economic trends in the country and facilitates a better appreciation of the mobilization of resources and their allocation in the Union Budget. It analyses the trends in agricultural and industrial production, infrastructure, employment, money supply, prices, exports, imports, foreign exchange reserves and other relevant economic factors that have a bearing on the Budget. It is presented in Parliament ahead of the Budget for the ensuing year.

Recently, the Economic Survey 2019-20 was tabled during the Budget Session of the Parliament on 31 January 2020 by Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance. The survey was prepared under the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Krishnamurthy V Subramanian. The theme for the survey 2020 is "Ethical Wealth Creation". The Survey 2020 focuses on the theme of Wealth Creation, Promotion of pro-business policies, strengthening of trust in the economy. The document outlines strategies for making India a $5 trillion dollar economy by 2024-25. The survey highlighted the fact that 2.62 crore new jobs were created in rural and urban areas between 2011-12 and 2017-18 in the country. The Economic Survey on Friday projected revival of economic growth to 6-6.5 per cent in the next fiscal beginning April 1 but suggested the government to relax the budget deficit target to boost growth from a decade low. For the current fiscal, it projected a GDP growth of 5 per cent, the lowest in 11 years, and worsening job prospects. The Survey emphasized on investment-led growth by focusing on reviving the MSME sector. The Survey 2020 also throws light on new ideas like Thalinomics, Adoption of China model, Trust and others, to boost growth and accelerate wealth creation.

BSE: It refers to Bombay Stock Exchange. It was founded in 9 July 1875. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is an Indian stock exchange located at Dalal Street, Mumbai. BSE provides a transparent market for trading in equity, debt instruments, equity derivatives, currency derivatives, commodity derivatives, interest rate derivatives, mutual funds and stock lending and borrowing. The current Chairman of BSE is Vikramajit Sen and the Managing Director and CEO of BSE is Ashish Kumar Chauhan.

Recently, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has signed a licensing agreement with Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe is an operator of global exchanges and clearinghouses.

India is one of the largest consumers and importers of crude oil in the world, and Brent crude is highly co-related with the Indian crude oil market. This agreement seeks to serve the needs and interests to the Indian energy commodities space and market participants to access Rupee-dominated Brent benchmark prices. It will also help Indian commodity markets by providing convenient and cost-effective onshore hedging products and enable the price discovery of Brent crude prices in the Indian time zone.

Defence

ICG: It refers to Indian Coast Guard. ICG is an armed force that protects India's maritime interests and enforces maritime law, with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. IGC was founded in 18 August 1978 by the Parliament of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The moto of IGC is Vayam Raksamah (We protect). The Director General of IGC is Krishnaswamy Natrajan, PTM, TM, and Additional Director General is Krupa Ram Nautiyal, PTM, TM.

Recently, a high-speed interceptor boat C-448 has been commissioned by IGC in Manguluru, Karnataka. The interceptor boat has been built by L&T (Larsen & Toubro) shipyard. It will have a crew of 12 personnel commanded by Assistant Commandant Apoorva Sharma.

The boat which will be used for patrolling and rescue operations is equipped with an infrared system for night surveillance. It can perform high-speed interception, low-intensity maritime operations etc. It has an endurance of 500 nautical miles at 20 knots and can reach a maximum speed of 45 knots.

Assam Rifles: The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy. Since then the Assam Rifles have undergone a number of name changes—the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891) and Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), before finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917 It was founded in 1835. Its headquartered in Shillong, India. Since 2000, they are guarding the Indo-Myanmar Barrier under “one border one force” policy of Government of India. Its governing body is the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence of India. Its Motto is 'Sentinels of the North East'. The DG of Assam Rifles is Lt Gen Sukhdeep Sangwan.

Recently, The Assam Rifles has constructed a combined war memorial in the memory of the 357 Army and Assam Rifles personnel killed while fighting insurgency in the northeastern state. The memorial has been constructed at Mokokchung, Nagaland. This memorial is the first of its kind in Nagaland, which also has the famous Second World War Cemetery at Kohima.

SAMPRITI-IX: It is a Joint Military Exercise between India and Bangladesh. A defence agreement was signed by both the countries in 2017 in order to conduct military exercises, since then India has been assisting in training the officers of Bangladesh.

The 9th edition of joint military training exercise between India-Bangladesh SAMPRITI-IX will be conducted at Umroi, Meghalaya. It will be conducted from February 3 to February 16, 2020. The exercise which in being hosted alternately by both the countries is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh.

During the joint exercise, Command Post Exercise (CPX) and Field Training Exercise (FTX) is to be conducted according to United Nations Charter. The troops of both the armies will also practice Counter-Terrorist operation.

Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, commands the navy. It was founded in 5 September 1612. The current Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) is Karambir singh. Indian Navy day is celebrated on the 4th of December every year.

Recently, Indian Navy launched 'Operation Vanilla' to help cyclone-hit Madagascar. It has been launched to provide assistance to the affected population of Madagascar post devastation caused by Cyclone Diane. INS Airavat, deployed on a mission in the southern Indian Ocean, was diverted towards Madagascar as part of the operation.

The Indian Navy Ship is geared to set up medical camp and provide food, water and other necessary relief material. The assistance of India to Madagascar is in consonance with the Indian Navy’s Foreign Cooperation initiatives in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’. In the Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy has been the first responder for Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR).

Indian Policy

GATI Portal: It is a Web Portal that has been created by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on the pattern of ‘PRAGATI’. It can be accessed from NHAI Website.

Recently, the Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari recently launched online Web Portal ‘GATI’ to monitor roads and highways projects. Its aim is to monitor daily the projects or construction-related issues on this portal raised by Contractors or concessionaires and also the problems raised in regard to the above mentioned issues by them.

The GATI portal will be reviewed by senior officials of the ministry which will bring transparency and speed up the decision making.

A total of 500 projects (including delayed ones) costing around Rs 3 lakh crore were taken up for review during the meeting.

NHAI: It stands for National Highways Authority of India. It is an autonomous agency of the Government of India. It was founded in 1988. It is responsible for management of a network of over 50,000 km of National Highways out of 1,15,000 km in India. The current chaiman of NHAI is Sukhbir Singh sindhu.

MGNREGA Scheme: It refers to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It was initially known as National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA). It was later renamed as the "Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act", (MGNREGA). It is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in September 2005. It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Recently, MGNREGA Scheme made headlines as it is running out of funds. As per the reports published in the national daily, more than 96% of the sanctioned amount is already used up.

RFID Tags: It stands for Radio-frequency identification tags. The RFID is a technology where an antenna broadcasts energy to the tag, which in turn returns the modulated energy back in the form of back-scatter. RFID tag uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify various objects. Each RFID tag consists of a small radio transponder, a transmitter, and a radio receiver. The information sent by the RFID tag is decoded by a RIFD reader.

The RFID tag can be affixed to any object to track and monitor assents, people and inventory. It is generally affixed to the computer equipment, cars, passenger trains or buses, books, etc. It is faster than barcodes as RFID can be read several times while barcodes can be read one at a time.

Recently, Indian Railways announced that it will equip all coaches and engines with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Around 3, 50,000 passenger coaches and freight coaches of the railways will be equipped with RFID tags for their smart monitoring by 2021. This project is being taken by the Rolling Stock Department of Indian Railways (IR).

The main aim of the RFID project is to automatically and accurately track and trace rolling stock as they move across the country with a particular focus on improving their safety and reliability.

A rolling stock includes carriages, locomotives, wagons and other vehicles used in Railways.

In order to tag the rolling stocks and collect their tracking data, the Indian Railways has joined hands with GS1 India and Indian industry. The tie up has been made under “Make in India” initiative to create a new segment in the AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) industry in India uniquely suited for the Indian Railways requirements.

CRIS: It refers to Centre for Railway Information Systems. The CRIS develops and maintains information systems of Indian Railways. CRIS is headquartered in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. It was established in 1986.

India and Brazil: India inked 15 agreements with Brazil on 25th January 2020 to boost cooperation in multiple fields including bio-energy, cyber security, health and medicine, between the two countries. The MoU was signed during the talks held beween India's Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro.

President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro who arrived in New Delhi on four-day state visit to India is also the chief guest at the 2020 Republic Day of India celebrations. The main focus of the talks was on boosting bilateral trade and investment as both the large economies were hit by global economic slowdown. An action plan has been finalized to further expand strategic ties between the two strategic partners.

Environment

Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar 2020: The award which has been instituted by the Central Government is awarded to recognize the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in India in the field of disaster management. It is announced every year on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Only Indian nationals and Indian institutions are eligible for this award. In case an institution is the winner then it shall receive a cash prize of Rs. 51 lakhs. In case an individual is the winner then the winner shall receive a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Home Ministry announced the winners of Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar 2020 on January 23, 2020. Kumar Munnan Singh has been honoured with the award in the individual category while Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre (DMMC) of Uttarakhand was selected under ‘institution category’. The DG of DMCC is Satya Narayan Pradhan.

African cheetah: The Southeast African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) is the nominate cheetah subspecies native to East and Southern Africa. The Southern African cheetah lives mainly in the lowland areas and deserts of the Kalahari, the savannahs of Okavango Delta, and the grasslands of the Transvaal region in South Africa. In Namibia, cheetahs are mostly found in farmlands. It inhabits a variety of mostly arid habitats like dry forests, scrub forests, and savannahs.

Recently, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre to introduce the African cheetah to suitable habitat in India. The cat is being introduced on experimental basis. The rare Indian cheetah is almost extinct in the country, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had filed an application seeking permission for the introduction of the African cheetah from Namibia. This being done as the Cheetahs are extinct in India and the environmentalists suggest that it is essential to reintroduce them in order to maintain balance in the ecosyst

Cheetahs are classified as “Critically Endangered” under the IUCN Red List.

Indian polity

The Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers, called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. It is led by the Prime Minister.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi got its approval to the official amendments in the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill 2019 for amending the Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973. Currently, the Bill is pending in Rajya Sabha.

The amendments will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Homoeopathy education, enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public and the National Commission will promote the availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.

Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973: The Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973 was enacted for constitution of a Central Council of Homoeopathy for regulation of education and practice of Homoeopathy, for maintenance of Central Register of Homoeopathy and for matters connected therewith. This Act has been modeled on the pattern of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The broad functions, constitution, regulation making powers are identical to those of the Medical Council of India. While the Act provides a solid foundation for the growth of medical education and practice in Homoeopathy, but various bottlenecks in the functioning of Council have been experienced, which has resulted in serious detrimental effects on medical education as well as delivery of quality Homoeopathy healthcare services.

Union Cabinet: Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 drafted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The amended bill proposes to extend the upper limit for abortion in India to 24 weeks from 20 weeks. The Bill is set to be introduced in the ensuing session of the Parliament.

The Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers, called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. It is led by the Prime Minister.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi got its approval to the official amendments in the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill 2019 for amending the Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973. Currently, the Bill is pending in Rajya Sabha.

The amendments will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Homoeopathy education, enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public and the National Commission will promote the availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.

Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973: The Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act, 1973 was enacted for constitution of a Central Council of Homoeopathy for regulation of education and practice of Homoeopathy, for maintenance of Central Register of Homoeopathy and for matters connected therewith. This Act has been modeled on the pattern of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The broad functions, constitution, regulation making powers are identical to those of the Medical Council of India. While the Act provides a solid foundation for the growth of medical education and practice in Homoeopathy, but various bottlenecks in the functioning of Council have been experienced, which has resulted in serious detrimental effects on medical education as well as delivery of quality Homoeopathy healthcare services.

Union Cabinet: Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 drafted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The amended bill proposes to extend the upper limit for abortion in India to 24 weeks from 20 weeks. The Bill is set to be introduced in the ensuing session of the Parliament.

The main aim of the proposed amendments in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill is to increase access of women to safe abortion services and taking into account the advances in medical technology. It will also ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate their pregnancy.

The main aim of the proposed amendments in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill is to increase access of women to safe abortion services and taking into account the advances in medical technology. It will also ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate their pregnancy.

International

Brexit deal: Brexit deal is also formally known as known formally as the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’. The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has approved the exit of Britain from the European Union on January 31, 2020, ending 47 years of membership. The vote was 621 to 49 in favor of the Brexit deal that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiated with the other 27 EU leaders. UK has become the first country to ends its EU membership. UK will remain within the EU's economic arrangements until the end of the year. However, UK will not have any say in policy as it will not be a member of the EU anymore. The United Kingdom will now be required to strike a new free-trade deal with the European Union to enable a smooth transition.

Britain: Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. The capital of the United Kingdom is London. The United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England. The currency used here is Pound Sterling. The Prime minister of United Kingdom is Boris Johnson.

Britain has unveiled a new 50 pence coin minted to mark Brexit (British exit). The coin bears the inscription “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”. The first batch of coins was presented to the Finance Minister of Britain Sajid Javid, who is also Master of the Mint.

Qatar: It is a peninsular Arab country whose terrain comprises arid desert and a long Persian (Arab) Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes. the capital of Qatar is Doha which also lies on the coast. The currency used here is Qatari riyal.

Recently, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdelaziz Al Thani has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Qatar. His appointment followed Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani's resignation. He was appointed by Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani through a royal decree.

Sheikh Khalid is a member of the ruling Al Thani family. He worked in the Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited until 2002. He then worked at the office of the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2006. He also served as chief of the Amiri Diwan from November 2014 until his appointment as Prime Minister.

USMCA: It refers to United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. Recently, US President Donald Trump signed USMCA North American trade pact with Canada and Mexico into law. It was signed in a ceremony at the White House.

The USMCA was crafted over years of negotiation between the three countries. It replaces the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. It also makes changes to e-commerce, intellectual property protection and dispute settlement for investors, as well as imposing tougher labour provisions, requiring reforms to Mexico’s laws.

National

Republic Day: Republic Day is a national holiday in India. 26 January was chosen as the date for Republic day because it was on this day in 1929 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by the British Regime. The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system. After, the adoption of the constitution, The Union of India became the contemporary and modern Republic of India. Dr, B. R. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India. It is organized by the Ministry of Defence. It commences from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's residence), Raisina Hill on Rajpath past the India Gate. India's Republic Day Celebrations and lasts for three days. The parade showcases India's Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage.

About 12 different regiments of the Indian Army in addition to the Navy, and Air Force with their bands march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Twelve contingents of various Para-military forces of India and police forces also take part in this parade. Republic Day Celebrations and lasts for three days.

India on 26th January 2020 celebrated its 71st Republic Day. The celebration started with a grand military parade and exhibition of its history, cultural diversity and strategic weaponry at the Rajpath, Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute at the National War Memorial and President Ram Nath Kovind unfurled the national flag along with General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Naval Staff, Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff.

The President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest for 2020 Republic Day Celebration.

This year's Republic Day was unique for India in many different ways. For the first time, a contingent of women bikers of CRPF performed daredevil stunts and Jammu and Kashmir the new Union Territory participated in the parade. Captain Tania Shergill, the first woman parade adjutant lead the parade for the Republic Day and Dhanush artillery gun was showcased in the parade for the first time.

Padma Awards: Padma awards refers to Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri which are conferred in decreasing order of importance respectively. These awards are presented annually by the President of India on the Republic Day. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. Padma Vibhushan award is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. Padma Bhushan award for distinguished service of high order. Padma Shri Award for distinguished service in any field.

These awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day and the President of India confers these awards in March / April at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

For 2020, the Government of India has announced 141 Padma Awards on the occasion of the 71st Republic Day Celebration. The list comprises 7 Padma Vibhushan, 16 Padma Bhusan and 118 Padma Shri awards. 34 awardees are women and 18 foreigners while 12 persons are awarded posthumously.

The awardees for Padma Vibhushan 2020 are former Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth, Mary Kom, Chhannulal Mishra, George Fernandes (Posthumous), Arun Jaitley (Posthumous), Sushma Swaraj (posthumous) and Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha Udupi (Posthumous).

The awardees for Padma Bhushan 2020 are Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Ajay Chakraborty, Manoj Das, Balakrishna Doshi, Krishnammal Jagannathan, Former Nagaland Chief Minister SC Jamir, Uttarakhand's we25thll-known environmentalist and social worker Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi, Dr. Tsering Landol, eminent industrialist Anand Mahindra, Prof. Jagdish Seth, Olympian badminton player PV Sindhu, industrialist Venu Srinivasan, Neelakanta Ramakrishna Madhava Menon (Posthumous), M. Mumtaz Ali, Muazzam Ali (posthumously), and former Union Minister Manohar Parrikar (Posthumous).

The awardees for Padma Shri 2020 are Jagdish Lal Ahuja Social Work Punjab, Kazi Masum Akhtar, Gloria Arieira, Khan Zaheerkhan Bakhtiyarkhan, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, Guru Shashadhar Acharya,Dr. Yogi Aeron,Jai Prakash Agarwal, Dr. Sushovan Banerjee, Dr. Digambar Behera, Dr. Damayanti Beshra, Guru Shashadhar Acharya,Dr. Yogi Aeron,Jai Prakash Agarwal, Dr. Sushovan Banerjee, Dr. Digambar Behera, Dr. Damayanti Beshra, Pawar Popatrao Bhaguji, Himmata Ram Bhambhu, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Gafurbhai M. Bilakhia, Bob Blackman, Indira P. P. Bora, Madan Singh Chauhan, Footballer Oinem Bembem Devi, Film Director Karan Johar, Actress Kangna Ranaut, among others.

GoI: recently, The Union Minister of State (I/C) Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh launched the Bhuvan Panchayat V 3.0 web portal. It was launched in Anthariksh Bhavan, ISRO Head Quarters in Bengaluru.

The aim of this web portal is to enhance network application of gram panchayats and help in the village development planning process under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The Portal will function with the help of satellite technology developed by ISRO. Under this project, ISRO will collaborate with the gram panchayat members and stakeholders to understand their data requirements.

Bhuvan Panchayat V 3.0 web portal: The Web Geo portal is an easy to use Geo portal. It is developed for database visualization, data analytics, generation of automatic reports, model based products and services for the benefit of Gram Panchayat members and other stake holders. Bhuvan is a satellite application that is powered by ISRO. It allows users to explore 2D and 3D representation of the earth.

NDFB: It refers to National Democratic Front of Bodoland. The NDBF is an armed separatist outfit which seeks to obtain a sovereign Boroland for the Bodo people. It is designated as a terrorist organisation by the Government of India. NDFB traces its origin to Bodo Security Force, a militant group formed in 1986.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) signed the historic agreement with the nine factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). The agreement was signed in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and the leaders of the NDFB.

According to the agreement, the Bodoland Territorial Area District will hold special rights for the locals. However, the outsiders will have to obtain “permit” to work in the territory. The Agreement will also provide economic benefits as well as political rights to the Bodos.

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will now be named as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), and will have more administrative power.

Bodo Accord: This is the third agreement signed by GoI and Bodo tribes in 27 years. The first was signed wit25thh All Bodo Students Union in 1993 and the second was signed in 2003. Thr first agreement resulted to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with some political powers and the second agreement resulted to the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts – Udalguri, Chirang, Baska and Kokrajhar. These areas are commonly called Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).

People In News

Sunil Mehta: Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has appointed Sunil Mehta as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Sunil Mehta is the former Managing Director and CEO of Punjab National Bank. He will replace VG Kannan, who resigned from office as chief executive of IBA on December 31, 2019.

The term of the CEO of IBA is for 3 years. At present, the managing committee of IBA has SBI chief Rajnish Kumar as Chairman for the year 2019-20 along with 3 deputy chairmen and honorary secretary.

IBA: It refers to Indian Banks’ Association. It was formed on 26 September 1946. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is an association for the management of the banks and financial institutions of the country. It currently represents around 200 banking and financial institutions operating in India.

Gita Sabharwal: She is an Indian who received her B.A. in Sociology and her M.A. in Psychology from Delhi University. She received her M.A. in Development Management from the University of Wales, UK. She holds 25 years of experience in peacebuilding, development, governance and social policy across five Asian countries including the Maldives. Earlier she served the UN in Sri Lanka as the Peacebuilding and Development Adviser for nearly seven years. She has also served as the Social Development Adviser for UK’s Department for International Development in India and Vietnam. Sabharwal has developed and managed programmes across sectors ranging from poverty reduction, social protection, civil society, decentralization, gender equality and public enterprise reform.

Recently, the United Nations has appointed India's Gita Sabharwal as the Resident Coordinator in Thailand, which is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu: He is a 1988-batch Indian Foreign Service officer. He is currently posted as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka. He has previously served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy of India in Washington DC from 2013 to 2017.

Recently, senior diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu has been appointed as India's Ambassador to the US, replacing Harsh Vardhan Shringla. He will take charge as the new Indian Ambassador to the United States. Shringla has been named as India's next foreign secretary.

Dr. N Kumar: He is an inspiring teacher and a mentor of Research. He is from Kadukkarai village located in the Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. He began his career in 1979 as an Assistant Professor in Horticulture at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. He has written 8 Text Books, Research papers internationally acclaimed-52 and 1

Sunil Mehta: Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has appointed Sunil Mehta as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Sunil Mehta is the former Managing Director and CEO of Punjab National Bank. He will replace VG Kannan, who resigned from office as chief executive of IBA on December 31, 2019.

The term of the CEO of IBA is for 3 years. At present, the managing committee of IBA has SBI chief Rajnish Kumar as Chairman for the year 2019-20 along with 3 deputy chairmen and honorary secretary.

IBA: It refers to Indian Banks’ Association. It was formed on 26 September 1946. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is an association for the management of the banks and financial institutions of the country. It currently represents around 200 banking and financial institutions operating in India.

Gita Sabharwal: She is an Indian who received her B.A. in Sociology and her M.A. in Psychology from Delhi University. She received her M.A. in Development Management from the University of Wales, UK. She holds 25 years of experience in peacebuilding, development, governance and social policy across five Asian countries including the Maldives. Earlier she served the UN in Sri Lanka as the Peacebuilding and Development Adviser for nearly seven years. She has also served as the Social Development Adviser for UK’s Department for International Development in India and Vietnam. Sabharwal has developed and managed programmes across sectors ranging from poverty reduction, social protection, civil society, decentralization, gender equality and public enterprise reform.

Recently, the United Nations has appointed India's Gita Sabharwal as the Resident Coordinator in Thailand, which is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu: He is a 1988-batch Indian Foreign Service officer. He is currently posted as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka. He has previously served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy of India in Washington DC from 2013 to 2017.

Recently, senior diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu has been appointed as India's Ambassador to the US, replacing Harsh Vardhan Shringla. He will take charge as the new Indian Ambassador to the United States. Shringla has been named as India's next foreign secretary.

Dr. N Kumar: He is an inspiring teacher and a mentor of Research. He is from Kadukkarai village located in the Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. He began his career in 1979 as an Assistant Professor in Horticulture at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. He has written 8 Text Books, Research papers internationally acclaimed-52 and 14 chapters in edited books.

Recently, Dr N Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, has been conferred ‘Harit Ratna Award 2019’ by the All India Agricultural Students Association. The award was conferred at the 5th National Youth Convention at Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya in Raipur. He was awarded for the dissemination of Rs 30-crore entrepreneurship project in agri-business and also for motivating students towards the agriculture sector in Tamil Nadu.

4 chapters in edited books.

Recently, Dr N Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, has been conferred ‘Harit Ratna Award 2019’ by the All India Agricultural Students Association. The award was conferred at the 5th National Youth Convention at Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya in Raipur. He was awarded for the dissemination of Rs 30-crore entrepreneurship project in agri-business and also for motivating students towards the agriculture sector in Tamil Nadu.

Places In News

Port Blair: Port Blair on South Andaman Island is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is an Indian territory in the Bay of Bengal.

Recently, The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the Composite Regional Centre (CRC) in Port Blair. CRC is an initiative of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. The aim of the Central Government is to create resources and infrastructure required for developing services for persons with disabilities including human resource development and research. The centre aims at training of rehabilitation professionals and capacity building at centre, district and state levels.

The Composite Regional Centres in India are located in Kozhikode, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Guwahati, Srinagar, Ahmedabad, Mandi and Suraghi (Chhattisgarh).

Telangana: Telangana is a state in India situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. It is the twelfth largest state. Telangana is bordered by the states of Maharashtra to the north, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the west, and Andhra Pradesh to the east and south. Chief Minister of Telangana is K. Chandrashekar Rao and the Governor of Telangana is Tamilisai Soundararajan.

Recently, world’s largest meditation centre was inaugurated at Kanha Shanti Vanam in Hyderabad, Telangana. This centre which is built on 30 acres is built to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM) and Heartfulness Institute.

The meditation centre has been carefully designed not just as a structure of physical importance but as an inspiration for all those who seek to better their lives through the practice of meditation. The meditation centre will have a central hall and eight peripheral halls to accommodate 100,000 meditation practitioners at a time.

Bhubaneswar: Bhubaneswar is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Odisha. It is a centre of economic, educational and cultural importance of East India.

Recently, Indian Railways has commissioned the country's first governmental waste to energy plant in Mancheswar Carriage Repair workshop at Bhubaneswar under the East Coast Railway zone. The plant was jointly inaugurated by Rajesh Agarwal, a member of Rollin Stock and GM of East Coast Railway zone. It has been built at a cost of Rs 1.79 crore and has the capacity to dispose of 500 kg waste, including plastic and e-waste. This Waste to Energy Plant has been constructed in three months.

This waste-to-energy plant uses a patented technology called ‘Polycrack’ which is first-of-its-kind in Indian Railways and fourth in India. This process will produce energy in the form of light diesel oil which is used to light furnaces. Polycrack is the world's first patented heterogeneous catalytic process which converts multiple feedstocks into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon and water.

West Bengal: West Bengal is a state in eastern India, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. Its capital, Kolkata retains architectural and cultural remnants of its past as an East India Company trading post and capital of the British Raj. The Chief Minister and Governor of West Bengal is Mamta Banerjee and Jagdeep Dhankhar respectively.

Recently, West Bengal has become the 4th state to pass resolution demanding scrapping of CAA. The West Bengal state government had introduced the resolution in the state assembly demanding that the controversial CAA law be repealed and NPR, NRC be withdrawn.

Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is one of the 28 states of India, situated in the south-eastern part of the country. It is the eight-largest state in India. The Chief minister and Governor of Andra Pradesh are Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy and Biswabhusan Harichandan respectively.

Recently, The Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly unanimously passed a resolution on January 27, 2020 to abolish the state legislative council. The YSR Congress Party-led government had approved the resolution at a meeting in the state capital Amaravati. The proposal will now be sent to the centre for further action.

The Parliament of India has to vote for approving on abolishing the state Council. Article 169 of the Indian Constitution empowers Parliament to enact legislation providing for the abolition of the Legislative Council of a state, if the Legislative Assembly of the state passes a resolution to that effect.

Science and Technology

ISRO: It is the acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation. It is the space agency of the Government of India and has its headquarters in the city of Bengaluru. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration". It was founded on 15 August 1969 by Vikram Sarabhai. The Director of ISRO is Kailasavadivoo Sivan.

Recently, ISRO announced that it is preparing low-cost satellite launch vehicles costing around RS. 30-35 crores. These vehicles are capable of carrying satellites weighing 500 kg. The first launch from the country is expected to take place in the next four months.

An amount of 1,600 million USD has been allocated by ISRO to manufacture these satellite vehicles. 870 million USD from the allocated amount is to be used to produce PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) while the remaining is to be used for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. This capability will help ISRO give a big commercial boost as it will be able to cater to micro, mini and medium segments of the market.

India also aims for opportunities to join hands France Space agencies to set up a model for the Moon Programme that is currently under operation in India.

NASA: It stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The founder of NASA is Dwight D. Eisenhower It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

Recently, NASA's Parker Solar Probe took one step closer to the sun when it executed its 4th flyby of our star. The Parker Solar Probe's trajectory carried the warhead within about 11.6 million miles (18.6 million kilometers) of the sun, more than 3 million miles (5 million km) closer than previous flybys. By doing so it broke its own record for the closest a spacecraft has come to the sun. The probe will continue to do repeatedly over the course of its seven-year mission.

This is the 1st such maneuver, called a perihelion, that the spacecraft has completed since swinging past Venus in December, a move that shrank the probe's orbit. The main objective of Parker Solar Probe is making a series of 24 close flybys on the sun through 2025 in order to help scientists understand how the sun works.

Innovation Festival: It is one of its kind festival that is being organized by the Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science & Technology in collaboration with the National Innovation Foundation.

The ‘Innovation Festival’ kic------------------------------------------------------------------------------ked off at the Science Centre in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. The main aim of the Innovation Festival is to foster the culture of innovation among all people of the state, especially in all the educational institutions. The two-day programme will witness interaction sessions, technical session and discussion among the innovators and motivation by several eminent personalities, scholars and persons from educational institutions.

Sports

Bala Devi: Ngangom Bala Devi, the current top scorer of the Indian National football team, created history by becoming the first Indian woman footballer to bag a contract with a foreign club Scottish giant Rangers FC. The 29-year-old, who joins from Manipur Police Sports Club after trials in Glasgow in November, is currently the leading goal scorer for the Indian national women's team, netting 52 in 58 outings since 2010, which also makes her the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region. She finished the top-scorer in the last edition of the Indian Women's League, scoring 25 in 7 games. She was also the top-scorer in the women's nationals last year with 21 goals. Bala has a prolific scoring record with over 100 goals in 120 games in domestic football. She has been the top scorer in the Indian Women's League for the past two seasons and has also been named as All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women's Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.

Tokyo Olympics: The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and commonly known as Tokyo 2020 or the Recovery Olympics, is an upcoming international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Star Indian javelin thrower has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.86 meters at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa. He is a 22 year old who won gold medals in the Asian Games as well as Commonwealth Games. The gold medalist breached the Olympic qualification mark of 85 meters in his fourth attempt. He did not participate in the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships due to an elbow injury. His last major international competition was the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games where he won gold with a national record of 88.06 metres.

International World Games Association: The association is an international association. It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. It was founded in 1980.

Indian women's team captain Rani Rampal became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious 'World Games Athlete of the Year' award. She was announced the winner by the World Games after 20 days of polling in January this year by sports fans worldwide.

In 2019, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. Under Rani's lea1dership, the Indian women's team qualified for just the third Olympic Games in its history. The Padmashree awardee has been a member of the national team since she was a 15-years-old, and has more than 240 caps for India.

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