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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 March 15 to March 21

Arts

Phool Dei: It is the Pahari harvest festival of the state Uttarakhand. Phool Dei is an auspicious folk festival which welcomes the spring season in the state. This festival is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra in the hindu calender that is March-April according to the Gregorian calendar. The festival is all about flowers and springtime. In some places especially in Pauri Garhwal region, the festival is celebrated as carnival and the celebration goes on for a month. The term 'Dei' refers to a ceremonial pudding which is the key food in this festival that is made from jaggery. White flour and curd are also offered to everyone. Young girls, on this day, conduct most of the ceremonies.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat celebrated the traditional harvest festival “Phool Dei”. The festival also showcases the inner bonding between the communities residing in the hills.

Chaitra Jatra Festival: It is a festival celebrated in the Indian state of Odisha. It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra in the hindu calender. It is celebrated especially during the Tuesdays of this month. The celebrations takes place at the Tara Tarini hill shrine which is located on the Tara Tarini hill on the banks of Rushikulya River. It is one of the Shaktipeeths in  India. There are 51 ShaktiPeeths in India. The first all-women Indian Navy crew's boat that circumnavigated the globe sailed on sailboat Tarini was named after the shrine.

Recently, the Government of Odisha cancelled the festival due to coronavirus threat. There are big crowd on 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays and as the 2nd Tuesday falls on the 17th of March so the Government cancelled the festival.

Economics

OIL: It refers to Oil India Limited. OIL, a Navratna PSU, is a fully integrated Exploration & Production (E&P) company in the upstream sector and is the second largest national oil and gas company of India as measured by total proved plus probable oil and natural gas reserves and production in India. Its operational headquarters is in Duliajan, Assam and the main headquarters is in Noida, New Delhi. It was founded in 18 February 1959. The company is a state-owned Navratna under the administrative control of India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Recently, OIL signed the Crude Oil Sales Agreement (COSA) with Numaligarh Refinery. The agreement was signed by the finance directors of the two companies for purchase and sale of crude oil for a term of five years. The Crude Oil Sales Agreement (COSA) will come in effect from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2025. The agreement will streamline the sale and purchase transactions of crude oil produced from fields in North East India.

Numaligarh Refinery: It is a joint venture (JV) between Bharat Petroleum (61.65%), Oil India (26%), and Government of Assam (12.35%). It is locate in Morangi, Assam and is owned by Numaligarh Refinery Limited.

Finance Commission: The Finance Commission was established by the President of India in 1951 under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution. It was formed to define the financial relations between the central government of India and the individual state governments. It was founded on 22 November 1951. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, the Finance Commission Constituted an 8-member committee under Shri N K Singh in order to build a fiscal consolidation road map for the centre and the states.

The first report by the Finance Commission was submitted to the GoI in February 2020. The Commission will submit its final report covering the financial years 2021-22 to 2025-26 by October 30.  NK Singh Committee will not only recommend the definition of deficit and debt but will also define contingent liabilities of PSUs.

FC: It refers to the Fiscal Consolidation. FC is a policy adopted by the Government to reduce the deficits. The objective behind the policy is to reduce debt stocks and deficits in the policies that are undertaken by the Government. The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA) is the best example for the Fiscal Consolidation measure of the Government of India.

SIDBI: It refers to the Small Industries Development Bank of India. SIDBI is a development financial institution in India. It was founded on 2 April 1990 through an Act of Parliament. It is headquartered in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.  SIDBI also coordinates the functions of institutions engaged in similar activities.

Recently, SIDBI announced its plan to launch Swavalamban Express on 5 June 2020. It seeks to empower budding entrepreneurs under its mission Swavalamban. The aim is to promote budding business aspirants and entrepreneurs. The train is to cover more than 7,000 km in 15 days during which various workshops and programmes are to be organized. The Train is to visit 11 entrepreneurial cities which are Bengaluru, Kolakata, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Delhi, Varanasi and Jammu. The train has been launched to fulfil the goal of India of 5 trillion USD by 2024-25. 

Defence

CRPF: It refers to the Central Reserve police Force. The CRPF is largest Central Armed Police Force in India. It functions under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India. Besides law and order and counter-insurgency duties, the CRPF has played an increasingly large role in India's general elections.

Recently, the CRPF signed a deal with a disability support NGO Aditya Mehta Foundation to train its troops, who lost their limbs in operations, in various skills including cyber operations, artificial intelligence and para-sports. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formalized between the force and the Aditya Mehta Foundation here in presence of CRPF Director General (DG) A P Maheshwari. The MoU aims to create new opportunities for such personnel who remain an integral part of the force.

As part of the CRPF Divyang Warriors Skill Development Initiative, officers and men will undergo various sports and skill development activities at Hyderabad in coordination with AMF.

The Director General also honoured 5 such specially-abled personnel of the force with DG's commendation disc and certificates for bringing laurels in the field of para-sports.

Ordnance Factory Day: The Ordnance Factory Day is observed on the 18 March. The Ordnance Factories observed its 219th foundation day across the country. It was on this day in the year March 1801 the first Ordnance Factory was established at Cossipore, Calcutta (now Kolkata). It was known as the Gun Carriage Agency (now known as Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore). The Ordnance Factories are a conglomerate of 41 ordnance factories. It functions under the aegis of its corporate headquarters OFB, in Kolkata.

OFB: It refers to Ordnance Factory Board. The OFB is an industrial organization, functioning under the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India. It works in the field of Research, Development, Production, Testing, Marketing, and Logistics. It is an organization of around 41 ordnance factories, 9 training institutes, 3 regional marketing centers and 4 regional controllers of safety. In 1712, the Dutch Ostend Company's Gun Powder Factory was established at Ichhapur. The OFB came into existence on April 2, 1979 in the new form.  It possesses 200 years of experience in defence production. The OFB is headquartered at Kolkata, West Bengal.

Tejas: It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. HAL's 83 fighter jets is the new advanced Mk1A version of the Tejas aircraft.

Recently, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of 83 indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft for Indian Air Force (IAF). The proposal which is considered as a major boost to Make in India is to be forwarded for the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). These aircrafts are expected to be the backbone of Indian Air Force.

The DAC has also approved the acquisition of indigenous defence equipments worth Rs 1,300 crore.

Defence Procurement Procedure 2020: Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh launched the draft of new Defence Procurement Procedure at a function in New Delhi. It was launched on 20 March 2020 with an aim to increase the indigenous manufacturing and reducing timelines for procurement of defence equipment.

The policy is aligned with the vision of the Indian government to empower the private industry through the Make in India initiative with the objective of turning India into a global manufacturing hub.

The government has introduced leasing as another category to get defense equipment in various categories at affordable rates.

Environment

Peatland: Peatlands refers to the peat soil and the wetland habitat growing on its surface. It’s formed when plant material does not fully decay in acidic and anaerobic conditions. It is composed mainly of wetland vegetation which is principally bog plants including mosses, shrubs and sedges. As it accumulates, the peat holds water as a result, this slowly creates wetter conditions that allow the area of wetland to expand. These lands are a type of wetlands that occur in almost every country on Earth. Peatlands are the world’s largest terrestrial carbon stock. It stores atleast 550 Gigatonnes of carbon globally which is more than twice the carbon stored in all the world’s forests. At present, it covers 3% of the global land surface. Peatlands in India occupy about 320 square kilo metres to 1,000 square kilo metres area.

Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization operating under United Nations (UN) released a report on Peatlands. As per the report, the Peatlands which play a crucial role in regulating global climate by acting as carbon sinks are facing degradation and need to be urgently monitored.

The cause of their degradation is mainly due to drainage, fire, agricultural use and forestry. This could trigger release of the stored carbon in a few decades which would lead to emission of green house gases. They have the potential to release up to one giga tonne of carbon. The publication which was authored by 35 experts, highlights essential case studies from Peru, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their attempts to map and monitor peatlands.

The Indonesian and Indian Governments both have taken corrective measures to restore the peatlands. As Indonesia has forty percent of tropical peatlands, its government has created Peat Ecosystem Restoration Information System (PRIMS), an online platform that provides information about Peatlands and their restoration efforts. Whereas,  in India restoration work of highland peatlands was also conducted in the Hindukush Himalayan (HKH) region. It was conducted to ensure water security in the region.

Niue Island: It is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. The island is commonly referred to as "The Rock", which comes from the traditional name "Rock of Polynesia". It is well known as one of the largest upraised coral atoll in the world situated in the middle of the South Pacific within a triangle boundary of Tonga, Samoan and Cook Islands. Its capital is Alofi. The currency used here is New Zealand Dollar. The Governor-General of Niue is Dame Patricia Reddy.

Recently, the tiny Niue Island was declared as the World's first 'Dark Sky Nation' by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). The IDA has approved the island's application for the protection of its sky, land and sea due to the island's efforts to restrict artificial light pollution so the starry sky can be enjoyed.

Dark Sky Place: Dark Sky Places are spaces recognized for responsible lighting policies that keep the night-time environment naturally dark. Over 130 of these accredited dark sites are present across the world.

Elpistostege watsoni: Elpistostege is an extinct genus of tetrapod-like vertebrate that lived in the Late Devonian period. The shark-like Elpistostege watsoni is 1.6m-long. It was a slippery predator that lived in what is now eastern Canada.

Recently, Paleontologists from Flinders University in Australia working with a University from Canada have discovered the almost complete skeleton of an ancient fish known as Elpistostege watsoni. Scans of the fish's fins show it had bones that resemble those found in the human hand. The researchers examined a fossil of “Elpistostege” and according to them it is the first fish fossil that is a missing link between fish and reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. It gives insights into how the human hand evolved from fish fins. It was discovered in Miguasha, Canada.

Indian Policy

TRIFED:  It refers to Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India. TRIFED is a national-level apex organization. It functions under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It was founded in 1987. It works towards marketing development of tribal products and provides marketing support to the products made by tribals through a network of retail outlets. The current Managing Director of TRIFED is Pravir Kumar.

Recently, TRIFED launched “Tech for Tribal” initiative. It was launched on 19th March 2020 by TRIFED along with IIT-Kanpur along with IIT-Roorkee, IIM Indore, Kalinga Institute of Social Science, Bhubaneshwar and SRIJAN. This programme is supported by Ministry of MSME. The main objective of the initiative is to provide entrepreneurship skills to the tribal people enrolled under the Pradhan Mantri VanDhan Yojana(PMVDY).

TRIFED has drawn out a Five Year strategy for 10X impact in Tribal development. This initiative in later stages will be linked to Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK). The main aim of VDVKs is to provide capacity building and skill upgradation.

PMVDY: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana. PMVDY is an initiative of the GoI that was launched in 2018 in 27 states. The Scheme aims to strengthen tribal producer companies. TRIFED is the nodal agency implementing the scheme.

APEDA: It stands for Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. APEDA is an apex body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. It is responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. It was founded in 1986. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, APEDA inked a MoU with Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium(SFAC) for the development of agriculture sector. The MoU aims to uplift the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium(SFAC) and create awareness programs, outreach programs and workshops of various stakeholders.

As per the MoU, both APEDA and SFAC will work together to link  the FPOs with the exporters. APEDA will also facilitate certification of organic produce/areas by the Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) assisted or identified by SFAC.

National Technical Textile Mission: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for creation of National Technical Textiles Mission for a period of 4 years (2020-21 to 2023-24) with an outlay of Rs.1480 crores. The National Technical Textiles Mission will have four components which are research, innovation and development, promotion and market development, export promotion and education, and training and skill development.

The focus of the Mission is on the development in usage of technical textiles in various flagship missions as well as programmes of the country. The main objective of the mission is an overall improvement in cost economy, water and soil conservation along with better agricultural productivity and higher income to farmers per acre of land.

The mission will also add to the promotion of manufacturing and exports activities in India. The use of geo-textiles in highways, railways and ports will result in robust infrastructure, reduced maintenance cost and higher life cycle of the infrastructure assets.

The work of the Mission is not only the promotion of innovation amongst young engineering /technology/ science standards and graduates along with creation of innovation and incubation centres and promotion of start-up and Ventures but also to generate 2 lakhs jobs in organized/ unorganized sector in the country along with holistic development of entire technical textile sector on pan-India basis.

Indian polity

Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Lok Sabha on 18 March 2020 passed the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 through a voice vote. The Bill was tabled in the lower house for consideration by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on 4 February 2020 to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934. According to the Civil Aviation Minister, the amendments would fulfill the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The amended Bill also seeks to convert the 3 existing bodies under the Ministry of Civil Aviation which are Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) into statutory bodies. This would enable the three regulatory bodies in the Civil Aviation sector in India to become more effective, which then would lead to enhancement in the level of safety and security of aircraft operations in the country. Under the Act, the Central government may make rules on several matters that include registration of aircraft, regulating air transport services, and prohibition of flight over any specified area. Each of these 3 bodies will be headed by a Director General who will be appointed by the Centre.

Supreme Court: The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal under the Constitution of India, the highest constitutional court, with the power of constitutional review. It consists of the Chief Justice of India and a maximum of 34 judges, it has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions. It is regarded as the most powerful public institution in India. It was established on 26 January 1950. It’s headquartered in New Delhi. The current CJI of the Supreme Court is Sharad Arvind Bobde.

 The Supreme Court in a historic judgment, recently, granted permanent commission for women in the Indian Navy. A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that there cannot be any gender discrimination and denying permanent commission to women officers who have served the nation would result in a serious miscarriage of justice.  

Maintaining that women and men officers should be treated equally, the Supreme Court  asked the Centre to complete the modalities within three months.

Earlier the women in the Indian Armed forces like Indian Army, Indian Air force and Indian Navy were only allowed to have Short Service Commission. The Short Service Commission is basically a duty period of 10-14 years only after this one will get retired from the service. 

Rajya Sabha: The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India. It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. At present the Rajya Sabha has a maximum membership of 245, of which 233 are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories using single transferable votes through Open Ballot while the President has the power to appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. The Upper House was founded on 3 April 1952 by the Constituent Assembly of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi. Its Chaiperson is Venkaiah Naidu.

Recently, the former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi took an oath as Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the President Ram Nath Kovind on 16 March 2020. He is the first former CJI to be nominated to Rajya Sabha. The President nominated Ranjan Gogoi for the Upper House under "sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of Article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of that article".

Article 80-Clause (3): Article 80-Clause states that the President has powers to nominate persons with special knowledge to the council of states. The person eligible must have special knowledge in Literature, art, science and social service.

Ranjan Gogoi: He was the 46th Chief Justice of India.  He was appointed a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001. On 12 February 2011 he was appointed as the Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was elevated to the top court the following year. He was appointed as CJI by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind on 3rd October 2018, and retired on 17th November 2019. He had retired from the position after delivering the historic Ayodhya Verdict. He was succeeded by SA Bobde.

Supreme Court: Supreme Court (SC) in a historic judgment, recently, removed the BJP lawmaker and Manipur Forest Cabinet Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh from the state cabinet. For the first time the Supreme Court invoked its plenary powers to remove him over Disqualification petition. He has also been restrained from entering the Legislative assembly.

Mr Shyamkumar had won the 2017 assembly elections on Congress Ticket abut later switched over to BJP to become the minister of Town Planning, forest and Environment. Disqualification petitions were filed against him to the speaker by the other MLAs. The petition filed by them was still pending before the speaker of the Manipur Assembly since 2017. The Speaker also failed to take any decision within the stipulated time period of 4 weeks which was provided by the Supreme Court in the 21st January, 2020 order. When no action was taken then the issue was appealed to Supreme Court. The apex court invoked Article 142 and removed the minister from the cabinet.

Article 142: Article 142 of the Indian constitution states that the Supreme Court can pass an order doing “complete justice” to matters pending before it.

Article 212: Article 212 of the Constitution bars courts from inquiring into proceedings of the Legislature. No members, officers of the state can be subjected to jurisdiction while exercising his duties or regulating procedures, maintaining order. However, if any matters are left unsolved the  SC can overrule this Act and invoke Article 142.

Under Anti-Defection law the winning members cannot switch parties. Any member or members involved in such an act according to the law are considered disqualified. 

 

International

Bangladesh: It is a country which is bordered by the Indian states of West Bengal to the west and north, Assam to the north, Meghalaya to the north and northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram to the east. To the southeast, it shares a boundary with Myanmar (Burma). The southern part of Bangladesh opens into the Bay of Bengal. Its Capital is Dhaka. The currency used her is Bangladeshi Taka. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Sheikh Hasina.

Recently, Bangladesh celebrated the birth centenary of its founder President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. However any public gatherings were barred for the event due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The day marks the beginning of the yearlong celebration of the birth centenary named ‘Mujib Barsho’ in Bangladesh and across the world. The video message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also broadcasted on the occasion. Prime Minister of India was expected to attend as a chief guest but was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: He was a Bangladeshi politician and statesman. He was a leader in the push for political autonomy for then-East Pakistan, eventually becoming a central figure in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. He was known as Sheikh Mujib. He was also known as Bangabandhu or a Friend of Bengal. He served as the first president of Bangladesh and later as its prime minister. He was murdered along with most of his family members in a military coup on Aug. 15, 1975. The current Prime Minister of Bangladesh sheikh Hasina is the eldest daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Iraq: It is officially the Republic of Iraq. It 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 her is Iraqui Dinar. The current President or Iraq is Barham Salih.

Recently, the 8th President of Iraq Barham Salih apponted Adnan al-Zurfi as the new Prime Minister of Iraq. He will replace Mohammed Allawi.

Adnan al-Zurfi (54) is a former governor of the holy Shia city of Najaf heads the Nasr parliamentary grouping of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. it is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south; it is separated from Egypt and Israel by the Gulf of Aqaba. Its Capital city is Riyadh. The currency used here is Saudi riyal.

Recently, Saudi Arabia accepted has accepted a proposal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold an "extraordinary" virtual G20 Summit. His Highness, Mohammed bin Salman agreed to the exercise at the level of G20 leaders. At present Saudi Arabia is the current chair of the G20 bloc. This decision was taken amid the fear of coronavirus pandemic. The G20 leaders' summit will be held in March 2020. 

G20 Summit: G20 refers to Group of Twenty. It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU). The heads of the G20 nations held summits twice in 2009 and twice in 2010. Since the November 2011 Cannes summit, G20 summits have been held annually.

International Day of Happiness: The International Day of Happiness is celebrated globally on 20 March every year. It was conceptualized and founded by Jayme Illien to advance a new paradigm which achieves the UN's global goals and the happiness, wellbeing, and freedom of all life on earth. The day aims to inspire and advance the global happiness movement. International Happiness Day was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

The theme of International Day of Happiness 2020 is  "Happiness For All, For Ever". The Theme aims at focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us.  The United Nations (UN) on this day called all 206 nations to adopt “Ten Steps to Global Happiness”. The United Nations also released the World Happiness Index. Finland topped the ranking.

National

National Vaccination Day: The National Vaccination Day is also known as the National Immunization Day. The day is observed on the 16th of March every year. The day is celebrated by the Government of India to make people aware of the importance of vaccination. The first dose of an oral vaccine against polio was given in India on 16 March 1995. Since then India has been observing the Pulse Polio Programme. The prime purpose behind the celebration of National Vaccination Day is to make all people aware of arming against polio and eradicating it completely from the world.

India was certified as a polio-free country along with 11 other countries of the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the 27th of March 2014. These countries were Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Thailand and Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The last case of polio patients in India was reported on 13 January 2011.

NSM: It refers to National Supercomputing Mission. The National Super Computer Mission was launched by the GoI in 2015. It was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and start-ups. The main aim of the mission is to create designs and manufacture supercomputers indigenously in India. Currently India has top 5 Super Computers that are ranked in the top 500 list of Super Computers in the World.

Recently, GoI has approved of three more Super Computers to be installed at IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Hyderabad and JN Centre for Advanced Scientific Research by April 2020. Jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and led by C-DAC and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, the mission supports the government's vision of 'Digital India' and 'Make in India' initiatives.

People In News

Chameli Devi Jain Award: It is an Indian journalistic award named after Chameli Devi Jain who was a legendary freedom fighter and a community reformer. She went to prison during India’s freedom struggle. The award was instituted by the Media Foundation in 1980. It is awarded annually to women in the field of journalism who recognizes social concern, dedication, courage and compassion all over India from the print, broadcast and online media category. The Chairperson of Media Foundation is Harish Khare.

Recently, the Chameli Devi Jain Award was jointly awarded to Arfa Khanum Sherwani of “The Wire” and Bengaluru-based freelancer and Rohini Mohan for outstanding woman journalist. Arfa Khanum Sherwani was awarded for her reporting from conflict situations in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh while Rohini Mohan was awarded for her reportage on the NRC exercise in Assam which set a new benchmark for investigative journalism.

Hirdesh Kumar: Hirdesh Kumar (47) from Uttar Pradesh is an IAS officer of 1999 batch, who is presently serving as Commissioner Secretary in the School Education Department of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, he was the District Magistrate in the districts such as Chitrakoot, Ghazipur and Ghaziabad.

He has been appointed as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory by the ECI (Election Commission of India). He was appointed on the 16th of March 2020. He will replace Shailendra Kumar with effect from the date he assumes charge.

ECI: It refers to Election Commission of India. The ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. It was formed on 25 January 1950. Its headquartered in New Delhi.It functions under the jurisdiction of Government of India. 

Debasish Panda: He is a Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, New Delhi. He has been nominated as a Director on the Central Board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by the Central Government. His nomination is effective from March 11, 2020, and until further orders. There are two governments nominated Directors on the board of RBI. The other director of RBI is Atanu Chakraborty.

RBI: It refers to the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Yes Bank: Yes Bank Limited is an Indian public bank headquartered in Mumbai, India. It was founded by Rana Kapoor and Ashok Kapur in 2004. It offers wide range of banking and financial products for corporate and retail customers through retail banking and asset management services.

Recently, the central government has appointed former SBI banker Prashant Kumar as Chief Executive and Managing Director of the Yes Bank. He was earlier appointed as the YES Bank administrator. 

Apart from Kumar, Sunil Mehta who is a former Non-Executive Chairman of Punjab National Bank has been appointed as the Non-Executive Chairman of Yes Bank. Other Board members include Atul Bheda and Mahesh Krishnamurthy, both as Non-Executive Directors.

Ravinder Singh Dhillon: He is currently serving as a Director (Projects, Public Grievance) in Power Finance Corporation (PFC) Limited. He received his graduate degree from Indian Institute of Technology New Delhi and an undergraduate degree from Thapar University. He is also on the board of Power Equity Capital Advisors Pvt Ltd. and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corp. Ltd.

Recently, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Ravinder Singh Dhillon as the Chairman-cum- Managing Director (MD) of Power Finance Corporation (PFC). He will be serving in this post till his superannuation on May 31, 2023.

PFC Ltd: It refers to the Power Finance Corporation Ltd.  of India. It is an Indian financial institution that was formed in July 1986. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is India's largest NBFC and Infrastructure Finance Company. It is the financial backbone of Indian Power Sector. PFC has conferred the title of a “Navratna CPSE” in June 2007

A. Ajay Kumar: He is a 2001 batch IFS officer. He is at present posted as the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. He has recently been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Uganda. He is expected to take up the assignment shortly.

Uganda: Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. This East African country is widely known for its agricultural products such as cotton, tobacco, and tea. The landlocked nation encompasses several spectacular mountains, lakes, as well as savannas. However, it is among the poorest countries on the African continent with One-third of the population here lives below the international poverty line. Its Capital is Kampala. The currency used here is Ugandan shilling. The President of Uganda is Yoweri Museveni. 

Places In News

Maharashtra: Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. It is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian states of Karnataka and Goa to the south, Telangana to the southeast and Chhattisgarh to the east, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to the north, and the Indian union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu to the north west. It was formed on 1 May 1960. It was formed by merging the western and south-western parts of the Bombay State, Berar and Vidarbha, and the north-western parts of the Hyderabad State and splitting Saurashtra (in present-day Gujarat) by the States Reorganisation Act. It is famous for its caves and rock-cut architecture as in Ajanta Ellora Caves that is also one of the UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Its capital is Mumbai. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Maharashtra are Uddhav Thackeray and Bhagat Singh Koshyari respectively.

Recently, the Minister of State (I/C) for Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers Shri Mansukh Mandaviya launched ROPAX Ferry Vessel and its Terminal at Mandwa in Maharashtra. The vessel was built in Greece and it can carry 200 cars and 1,000 passengers. It is also is capable of plying even during monsoon.

Mumbai Port Trust developed infrastructure for ROPAX service at Ferry wharf while Maharashtra Maritime Board developed infrastructure facilities at Mandwa under the ROPAX project.

Mumbai Central station: The Maharashtra state cabinet has approved the renaming Mumbai Central Terminus station as Nana Shankarseth Terminus Station or Jagannath Sunkersett. The proposal which was initiated by the transport ministry headed by Anil Parab is sent to the Ministry of Railways for its approval.

Jagannath Shankarseth: Jagannath "Nana" Shankarsheth (1803-1865) was a Maharashtrian philanthropist and educationist. He was a very reliable businessman. He along with Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy founded the Indian Railway Association in 1845. He also founded the Bombay Association which was the first political organization in Bombay Presidency, on 26 August 1852. He is famous for his contribution to Mumbai's development.

Chennai: Chennai also known as Madras is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. It is the fourth largest city of India. It was founded in 1661 by the British East India Company.

Recently, a National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) bench has been established in Chennai to handle matters arising from Southern states. The Central Government had notified the constitution of NCLAT, Chennai Bench as its requirement was felt in there. As per the Notification dated March 13, 2020, the NCLAT, Chennai shall hear appeals from the National Company Law Tribunals having jurisdiction over Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry and  Lakshadweep.

The Notification also added that the NCLAT at New Delhi shall be known as the Pradhan Peeth (Principal Bench). It will continue to hear appeals other than those in the jurisdiction of the Chennai Bench.

NCLAT: It refers to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. It was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of the NCLT. It was created to hear the appeals against the orders of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) from June 01, 2016. It is not only an appellate tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by NCLT under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code but also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh (MP) 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. Its capital is Bhopal. The Governor of Madhya Pradesh is Lal Ji Tandon respectively.

Recently, Kamal Nath who was sworn-in as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh after winning the state Assembly polls held in 2018 resigned. His resignation came ahead of the floor test which was scheduled to be held on 20th March 2020 in the state assembly. He submitted his resignation to the governor of Madhya Pradesh Lal Ji Tandon. Kamal Nath’s government was pushed into crisis by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who lost 2019 election in Madya Pradesh joined BJP ending his association with Congress party along with 22 ruling party MLAs.

Uttarakhand: Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas. It is known for the natural environment of the Himalayas, the Bhabar and the Terai and also for for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. It is often referred to as the "Devabhumi" (literally "Land of the Gods"). Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India On 9 November 2000. it was carved from the Himalayan districts of Uttar Pradesh. Its winter Capital is Dehradun and summer capital is Gairsain. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttarakhand are Trivendra Singh Rawat and Baby Rani Maurya respectively.

Recently, the Government of Uttarakhand abolished reservation promotion in the state government jobs. This major decision was taken by the Trivendra Rawat government on completion of three years of its tenure.

Following the state government’s order, the employees from the General-OBC categories ended their strike who had been staging a protest, demanding the implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue. The state government also issued orders regarding departmental promotion committee (DPC).

The state government's order said that as per the Supreme Court's decision, the government has abolished the promotion ban dated September 11, 2019. Besides, the state government order dated September 5, 2012 banning reservation in promotions has also come into effect. Further action will be taken as per the order.

Science and Technology

Huntington disease (HD): It is a progressive genetic disorder that affects the brain. It causes uncontrolled movements, impaired coordination of balance and movement, a decline in cognitive abilities, difficulty in concentrating and memory lapses, mood swings and personality changes. The cause of this disease is due to mutation in a gene called HTT. The main function of HTT genes is the production of a protein called Huntingtin. They provide the instruction for making the protein. The mutation of HTT gene gives faulty instructions and as a result the normal functioning of the brain is disrupted resulting in Huntington disease.

Recently, a team of scientists from National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) in Pune led by Dr. Amitabha Majumdar unravelled that the pathogenic protein called the Huntingtin Protein causes decrease in overall protein production. They found that Huntingtin protein in a diseased person interfered with the protein production of the cells and how faulty information was sent to the brain. They are also the cause of the reduced level of protein production of a normal cell.

INST: It refers to Institute of Nano Science and Technology. It is an autonomous institute of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India under the Society Registration Act, 1960. It was established in January 2013 under the National Mission of Nano Science and Technology or NANO mission. The main aim of the  mission is to promote growth of nano science and technology. The Chairperson of INST is C. N. Ramachandra Rao.

Recently, INST developed a starch-based ‘hemostat’ material named calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch which absorbs excess fluid by concentrating the natural clotting factors in the blood that stops the rapid blood loss.

Starch Based Hemostat possesses increased absorption capacity and improved absorption. It is inexpensive, biocompatible and biodegradable. This product was developed by Dr Ghosh’s team developed as a realistic solution for lower-income economies worldwide.

Sports

Achanta Sharath Kamal: Ace Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal won the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open. The 37-year-old Indian veteran ended his decade-long wait for a title by defeating top-seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal 4-2 in the final played in Muscat. Sharanth had bagged his last title in 2010 at Egypt Open.

Since then he has made two semi-final appearances, one in Morocco Open in 2011 and the other in India Open in 2017.

All England Championship: The All England Open Badminton Championships is the world's oldest badminton tournament. It is held annually in England. With the introduction of the BWF's latest grading system, it was given Superseries status in 2007. It was upgraded to Superseries Premier status in 2011.

Recently, Axelsen of Denmark and Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei won the 2020 All-England Badminton Championships.  Viktor Axelsen defeated Chou Tien-chen in men's singles while Tai Tzu Ying defeated world No.1 Chen Yu Fei in Women's singles titles. It was the third All England Open title for Tai Tzu Ying and the maiden All England Open title for Viktor Axelsen.

ISL Trophy: It refers to Indian Super League trophy. The ISL was founded in 2013 as one of the two top-tier leagues in India, alongside the I-League. 

Recently, ATK (Atlético de Kolkata) FC (Football Club) scripted history with a 3rd ISL title after beating Chennaiyin FC 3-1 in the final. In the final match that was held at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, Javier Hernandez scored two goals and Edu Garcia one goal  for ATK FC. The final was held without spectators owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATK FC: It stands for Atlético de Kolkata Football Club. ATK FC is an Indian Professional football club. It is based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The Kolkata club won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2014 and then in 2016 by beating Kerala Blasters in the final on both occasions. Apart from ATK, only two other teams have won the ISL. They are Bengaluru FC (2018-19) and Chennaiyin (2015, 2017-18).

ICC: It stands for International Cricket Council. ICC is the global governing body of cricket. It was established as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from England, Australia and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965. It took up its current name in 1989. It organizes world championship events such as Cricket World Cup, Women's Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup, ICC Women's T20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and Under-19 Cricket World Cup. It is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The current Chairman of ICC is Shashank Manohar.

Recently, Two Indian women, Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi were named in the International Panel of ICC Development Umpires. With the inclusion of both Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi, the number of women match officials across different ICC panels has gone up to 12. The announcement was made soon after the launch of 100% Cricket. 100% cricket is a 12-month campaign anticipated to build on the momentum of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020.

34 year old Janani Narayanan has been umpiring in Indian domestic tournaments since 2018 while 31 year old Vrinda Rathi has also been umpiring in Indian domestic cricket since 2018.

Current Affairs March 08 to March 14

Arts

Books and Authors: A comic book titled “The Adventures of the Daredevil Democrat” was released by the chief minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The book was released on the occassion of the 104th birth anniversary of former Odisha CM Late Biju Patnaik. The book is about the life and works of late legendary leader Biju Patnaik who is also the father of Naveen Patnaik. The comic book, prepared by Kalinga Foundation Trust aims to inspire and encourage young minds to serve the motherland. It is published Creative workshop which is based in New Delhi.

Fagli Festival: It is a traditional festival which is celebrated annualy in Yangpa village of Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated to observe the “victory of good over evil”. This festival is also celebrated to mark the end of winter or the beginning of spring.

Recently, Fagli festival was celebrated with in the entire valley  of Yangpa on the moonless night or Amavasya. Men dressed in traditional attire with masks on their faces were seen dancing in circles while hundreds of locals also gathered to watch the event. The festival will continue for the next few days in the district of Himachal Pradesh.

Economics

UNCTAD: It refers to the United Nations Conference on Trade, Investment and Development. UNCTAD has issued a warning that global foreign direct investment (FDI) could drop by up to 15% on previous estimates due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  The organization has predicted that as the visus spreads there will be further decline in the economic growth. COVID-19 outbreak would significantly drag down global FDI, which is a measure of cross-border private sector investment.

Surat: It is a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is known as the textile hub of the nation or the Silk City of India. It is very famous for its cotton mills and Surat Zari Craft. Surat is the biggest centre of MMF (man-made fibre) in India. It is also known for its diamond industry.

Recently, the Surat diamond industry is likely to face a loss of around Rs 8,000 crore in next two months. This is due to a state of emergency is declared in Hong Kong as well as other states of China due to the coronavirus outbreak.  Hong Kong is a major business hub for the Surat diamond industry and according to Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) polished diamonds worth around Rs 50,000 crore are exported from Surat to Hong Kong every year. If the situation does not improve then the diamond industry of India will worsen

Defence

CISF Raising Day: This day is celebrated annually on the 10th of March in India. The day was celebrated by CISF personnel and their families. On this day, in 1969, the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) was set up under an act of the Parliament of India with a strength of 2,800. It operates directly under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Its headquarters are at New Delhi. The main function of CISF is to safeguard sensitive government buildings and Delhi Metro. It also plays a vital role in providing airport security.

The 51st CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) Raising day was celebrated on 10 March 2020. The Prime Minister reviewed the parade of the CISF at the 5th Battalion Camp. The PM also laid The Prime Minister reviewed the parade of the CISF at the 5th Battalion Camp. The Police and Fire Service Medals for distinguished and meritorious services were also presented by him. The day is celebrated to create awareness among the citizens of India to cooperate with the CISF to maintain peace and security in the country.

ICG: It stands for Indian Coast Guard. ICG was formally established on 18 August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent Armed force of India. It operates under the Ministry of Defence. It is a multi-mission organization, conducting round-the-year real-life operations at sea. It works in close cooperation with the Indian Navy, the Department of Revenue (Customs), Central and State police forces and the Department of Fisheries. Its headquarters are at New Delhi. The current Director-General of Indian Coast Guard is Krishnaswamy Natarajan.

Recently, Nupur Kulshrestha became the first woman to be promoted as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Indian Coast Guard. She has joined Indian Coast Guard in 1999.

Environment

Kaikaia gaga: It is a newly identified species of treehopper named after new insect species named after lady gaga. The new insect was discovered and named by Brendan Morris, an entomology graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The treehopper is a common insect group known for its bright colors and ostentatious flair.

Indian Policy

Delimitation Commission: Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission is set up by the Government of India under the rules of the Constitution. It has been constituted 4 times in India. For the first time in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952. For the second time in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962. For the third time in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and for the forth time in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002. Delimitation Commission is an independent commission that sets the size, boundary of Constituencies in India. It is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court. The main function of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census. The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India. At present it was appointed by the current President of India Ram Nath Kovind.

Recently, the Central Government, under the section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, has set up a Delimitation Commission. It is formed under the former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. It has been constituted to set up the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh(AP), Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

The Delimitation for Jammu and Kashmir is to be carried out according to Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, while for the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh(AP), Assam, Manipur and Nagaland will delimit the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI has planned to create a total of 75 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) by 2022 to enable more women to get livelihood. This was announced by the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar on the 8 March 2020. The announcement was made by him while addressing a programme on Women's Empowerment to mark International Women's Day in New Delhi. The main focus of the Ministry is towards women’s liberation. Under this programme the GoI is not only supporting women and rural population but also providing them with platforms like the Government e-Marketplace for fetching better prices for their products. The funds will be provided by the Government.

Women's Self Help Groups (SHGs): The SHGs are the backbone of poverty alleviation programmes. NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) introduced the concept of Self-Help Groups in 1992 under the guidelines of RBI. There are over 60 lakh SHGs across the country mobilizing more than six crore 73 lakh women. The SHGs not only help to promote Gender Equity, Social Integrity, Financial Inclusion and help raise voice of marginalized section but it also helps to improve efficiency of Government Schemes.

The most successful SHG project is the “Kudumbashree” project which was launched in the state of Kerala 1998.

Kisan Rail Scheme: It is a scheme that was introduced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in the Union Budget 2020-21. The scheme was aimed at setting up a chain to transport highly perishable goods like meat, milk and fish through the public private partnership method. The Kisan Rail includes refrigerated coaches in Express and Freight trains.

Recently, the Union Government formed a committee for the implementation of Kisal Rail. The panel comprises the representatives from the railways and departments of the agriculture ministry. The function of the committee will be to monitor the creation of cold storage supply chain for perishable goods. The perishable goods are to be transported through freight and express trains with refrigerated coaches.

Indian polity

Mineral Law (Amendment) Bill 2020: The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in the Rajya sabha on 12 March 2020 with 83 votes.The bill was earlier passed by the Lok sabha on 6th March, 2020. Parliament passed Bill for amendments in Mines & Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

The amended Bill seeks to will open a new era in Indian coal & mining sector specially to promote Ease of Doing Business. It will remove end-use restrictions for participating in coal mine auctions and open up the coal sector fully for commercial mining by domestic and global companies. The Bill will not only transform the mining sector in the country boosting coal production and reducing dependence on imports but will also facilitate the implementation of FDI policy in the coal sector..

The Bill replaces the ordinance for amendment of the MMDR Act 1957 and CMSP Act. The ordinance was promulgated on January 11, 2020.

The Ordinance, which was cleared by the cabinet in January, had brought amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (amendment) bill: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by the Parliament on 12 March 2020. The Bill was passed by voice vote in Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha had approved the bill earlier on 6 March 2020.   The Bill replaces an ordinance which was passed in 2019.

The amendments are aimed at streamlining the insolvency resolution process and to protect last-mile funding and boost investment in financially-distressed sectors.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 11, 2019. The bill proposes to make amendments in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

The second amendment bill seeks to amend sections 5(12), 5(15), 7, 11, 14, 16(1), 21(2), 23(1), 29A, 227, 239, 240 in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and insert new section 32A in the code. The IBC Bill came into force in 2016. It has already been amended thrice.

International

WHO: It is an abbreviation for World Health Organization. WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with world public health. It was formed on 7 April 1948. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The current Chief of WHO is Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

 Recently, WHO has officially declared the coronavirus outbreak as GLOBAL PANDEMIC. This was announced after the spread and severity of the outbreak of COVID-19. The new coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries and led to tens of thousands of cases and is still rising. 

UN chief Antonio Guterres has urged world governments to urgently work towards detecting, isolating and treating COVID-19 cases and tracing COVID-19 patients' contacts so as to protect and train health care workers and prepare hospitals and also to communicate with members of the public about the risks of the disease and how to protect themselves.

Pandemic: Pandemic disease is an epidemic that has spread world wide. It is generally classified as epidemics first, which is the rapid spread of a disease across a particular region or regions. COVID-19 began as an epidemic in China, before making its way around the world in a matter of months and becoming a pandemic. 

UNSC: It refers to United Nations Security Council. UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN). It is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. It is headquartered in New York, United States. It was founded on 24 October 1945.

Recently, UNCS unanimously approved a United States' resolution on the recent peace agreement to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan. The agreement deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban February 29, 2020 in Doha, Qatar.   As a part of the agreement the US military has begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The complete withdrawal by US will be done only after Taliban sticks to its part of the deal.

The UNSC resolution had urged the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to advance the peace process by participating in intra-Afghan negotiations through a diverse and inclusive negotiating team composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in 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 and the currency used here is Afghan afghani. The President of Afghanistan is Ashraf Ghani.

Recently, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the Afghanistan President for the secont term. He was sworn in as the President of Afghanistan at a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Monday afternoon.  Ghani was declared as the winner of the election held in September 2019.

Meanwhile his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who disputed the vote, held a parallel ceremony surrounded by hundreds of supporters.

Ukraine: It is a country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the north-east; Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west; and Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea to the south. The Capital of Ukraine is Kyiv. The currency used here is Ukrainian hryvnia. The current President of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky.

Recently, the Parliament of Ukraine approved Denys Shmygal as a new prime minister of the country. Shmygal succeeds Oleksiy Honcharuk who resigned after he was caught criticizing the President. 44 year old Denys Shmygal is the nominee of Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. He was earlier serving as the Deputy prime minister in charge of regional development.

National

ECA: It refers to the Essential Commodities Act. The ECA was enacted in 1955. It was enacted to to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products, the supply of which if obstructed owing to hoarding or black-marketing would affect the normal life of the people. This includes foodstuff, drugs, fuel etc. It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices. The Government of India (GoI) has the right to fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.

Recently, GoI has brought hand sanitizers and masks under Essential Commodities Act till 30 June 2020. The government has notified an order to declare masks and hand sanitizers as essential commodities by amending the Schedule of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. This step was taken in view of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. The government has also issued an advisory under the Legal Metrology Act. Under this Act the states can ensure the sale of both the items at MRP.

The move is aimed at supplying and prevent hoarding of these items in its fight to check the spread of corona virus disease.

Epidemic Disease Act, 1897: The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is a law which was first enacted to tackle bubonic plague in Bombay state in former British India.

The Act has been routinely used to contain various diseases in India such as cholera, malaria, dengue and swine flu. This Act was enforced in 2018 as cholera had begun to spread in a region of Gujarat then in 2015; it was used to deal with dengue and malaria in Chandigarh and in 2009 in Pune to combat swine flu.

Recently, the Government of India invoked the Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1987. The Cabinet Secretary of India has taken this action following the 2019–20 coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act makes it mandatory for all states to follow the directives of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As per the Union Health Ministry the total number of the persons affected has reached up to 73.

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 approved a proposal for the construction of 780 kilometer of National Highway Corridor project. The project involves an investment of 7,660 crore rupees in partnership with the World Bank. The announcement was made by the Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The main aim of the project is to rehabilitate and upgrade various National Highways in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Besides redevelopment and up-gradation, environment-friendly and sustainable steps would be taken to build the highway.

Women Transforming India Awards: It is an annual award instituted by the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog. It was instituted in 2016 to recognize and celebrate stories of exceptional women change makers.  The Women Transforming India (WTI) recognizes the inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs who are breaking the glass ceiling. The current CEO of NITI Aayog is Amitabh Kant.

 

Recently, the 4th Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2019 was organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The award ceremony was organized by NITI Aayog's Women Entrepreneurship Platform. The WTI awards was conferred by the Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh to the exceptional women change makers from across India. The theme for the year is "Women and Entrepreneurship. The Women Entrepreneurship Platform was formulated on three pillars, namely Karma Shakti, Iccha Shakti and Gyan Shakti. 

 

15 winners from among the chosen 30 finalists were awarded. The awards recognized women from diverse fields, including healthcare, education, and food tech, amongst other fields. The winners of the award are : 

Co-founder of Vaayu Home Appliance Dr. Priyanka Mokshmar; Founder of Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) Ramya Venkataraman; Founder of BarrierBreak Shilpi Kapoor; Founder of Thinking Forks Rinka Banerjee; Founder of Hand in Hand Kalpana Sankar; Founder of ImpactGuru Khushboo Jain; Founder of Kutuki Sneha Sundaram; Founder of CSO Jugnu Jain; Founder of NemoCare Pratyusha Pareddy; Founder of Daily Dump Poonam Bir Kasturi; Founder of Spookfish Innovations Anupriya Balikai; Founder of Taru Naturals Ruchi Jain; Founder of 17000 ft Foundation Sujata Sahu; Nidhi Pant, who combats the issue around waste and farmer living standard through her Science for Society team and Jayanti Pradhan, an agro-processor and farmer from Odisha. A special jury award was awarded to the Founder Trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust Dr. Praveen Nair.

People In News

Dr. V Praveen Rao: He is the Vice-Chancellor of Telangana State Agricultural University. He has handled thirteen research and six consultancy projects on micro-irrigation in India, South Africa and Israel.

He has been awarded the 7th M. S. Swaminathan Award for the 2017-19 year. He received the prestigious Award for his contributions in the fields of Agricultural Research, Teaching, Extension, and Administration. The award will be conferred on him in June 2020.

MS Swaminathan award: It is a national award. It was constituted by Retired ICAR Employees Association (RICAREA) and Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL). The award carries a prize of Rs 2, 00,000 and a citation.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh: He was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent for nearly 40 years (1801-1839). He was born on the 13th of November 1780, in Gujranwala, Pakistan. He lost sight in his left eye due to smallpox in his infancy. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. He is known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’ and is counted among the greatest Sikh leaders. Ranjit Singh not only kept Punjab united but also did not allow the British to capture his empire. He is credited for establishing a modern empire when the region was torn with wars between afghan tribes due to the decline of the Mughal Empire. He prohibited Jiziya from the Hindus and Sikhs and never forced Sikhism on anyone. He was known as a secular leader in world history. He died on 27 June 1839 in Lahore, Pakistan. He is also known for restoring Sikh gurudwaras, including Golden Temple in Amritsar, as well as creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance for all communities.

Recently, in a poll conducted by BBC World Histories magazine, Maharaja Ranjit Singh was voted the greatest leader in world history by 38% of the more than 5,000 readers of the magazine. He has been nominated by historian Matthew Lockwood who is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama for establishing "modern empire of toleration". Maharaja Ranjit Singh was described as a modernizing and uniting force, whose reign "marked a golden age for Punjab and northwest India".

The second place went to African independence fighter Amílcar Cabral who is credited with uniting over a million Guineans to free themselves from Portuguese occupation. He is also credited for inspiring many other colonized African countries to rise and fight for independence. The third place went to the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for his contributions to Britain during world war while the American president Abraham Lincoln was voted fourth.

Bill Gates: He is an American business magnate, software developer, investor, and philanthropist. He is the co-founder of Microsoft. He made the company one of the world's most valuable technology firms.  He along with his wife Melinda run one of the world's largest charities, the Gates Foundation, which has billions in assets and funds global health programmes to combat disease and poverty.

Recently, Bill Gates stepped down from the board on Friday to focus on philanthropic works related to global health, education and climate change. He quit his full-time executive role at Microsoft in 2008. He remained as chairman of the board till 2014 and since then he has been a board member.

Places In News

Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is situated in the south-eastern part of India.  It came into existence in its present form in 1956 as a result of the demand of the Andhras for a separate state. Its Capital is Amaravati. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh is Biswabhusan Harichandan and Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy respectively.

 

As per the recent report shared by NITI Aayog, the State of Andhra Pradesh has ranked 1st in the country for overall implementation of Poshan (Prime Minister’s Overreaching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyan. As part of the programme the State has trained all Angan Wadi Workers on modules created based on lifecycle approach, i.e. first 1000 days of life, with the support of incremental learning Approach (ILA).

Poshan Abhiyan: Poshan Abhiyan which was earlier known as National Nutrition Mission is implemented by the the Government of India since 18th December 2017 to address the problem of malnutrition in the country. The aim of this initiative is reduce malnutrition in the country in a phased manner, through a life cycle approach, by adopting a synergized and result oriented approach. 

The main objective of Poshan Abhiyan is to achieve improvement in the nutritional status of children from 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers in a time-bound manner.

Gujarat: Gujarat: Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula. The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the northeast, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu to the south, Maharashtra to the southeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea and the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west. Its capital city is Gandhinagar. The Governor and Chief Minister of Gujarat are Acharya Devvrat and Vijay Rupani respectively.

Recently, Gujarat ranked first in the installation of rooftop solar projects with an installed capacity of 261.97 megawatts. This was announced by the Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy and Power R K Singh.

At Present, the total rooftop solar installation in India stands at 1,700.54 MW. Gujarat is followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with 198.52 MW and 151.62 MW respectively. Under the solar rooftop scheme “Surya Gujarat” the State government seeks to cover about 8 lakh domestic electricity consumers by 2022.

Solar rooftop: It is a rooftop photovoltaic power station, or rooftop PV system. it is a photovoltaic system that has its electricity-generating solar panels mounted on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building or structure. The panels capture the light energy emitted by the sun and convert it into electrical energy. It is Eco-friendly and it does not pollute the air.

Uttar Pradesh: Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India. It was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh during British rule, and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. Its Capital city is Lucknow. The current Chief Minister and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh are Yogi Adityanath and Anandiben Patel respectively.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath launched 3-schemes in Lucknow for Skill Development and Employment Generation for the young generation of the state in Lucknow. The schemes are Kaushal Satrang Scheme, Yuva Hub Scheme and Apprenticeship Scheme. The main aim of these three schemes is generating employment and self-employment opportunities for the youth of the Uttar Pradesh state. The Uttar Pradesh Government also announced to depute ”Arogya Mitras” at all primary health centres to inform people about govt health schemes.

Kaushal Satrang Scheme: This scheme will have seven components which will provide opportunities to the youth.

Yuva Hub Scheme: This scheme not only aims at providing employment to thousands of skilled youth by assisting in project concept and financial help for one year of operation but also facilitate setting up of 30,000 startups.

Apprenticeship Scheme: This scheme seeks to provide stipend of Rs 2500 to the youth of state

Telangana: It is a state in India situated on the centre-south stretch of the Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. It was founded on 2 June 2014. Its Capital city is Hyderabad. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Telangana are Tamilisai Soundararajan and K. Chandrashekar Rao respectively.

Recently, a dedicated monitoring cell was inaugurated under Mission Bhagiratha in Bhongir Circle in Telangana. It was inaugurated by the Superintending Engineer of Mission Bhagiratha.

The main objective of the cell is to invite grievances and issues of supply of drinking water. It aims to get prepared to address water scarcity of summer and to record complaints and redress them without any delays.

Mission Bhagiratha: It is a project that wass implemented in 1998 by Chief Minister Shri K. Chandrasekhar Rao. It is a safe drinking water project. It aims to provide drinking water to every village and city household. It will supply clean drinking water from the rivers of Godavari and Krishna. The mission is named after the great king Baghiratha who brought the holy river Ganga to the earth.

Science and Technology

NASA: It is an abbreviation for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is headquartered in Washington D.C., United States. The current Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine.

Recently, NASA named the 5th Mars (red planet) rover as Perseverance. Earlier, the project has been known only by its code name - Mars 2020.  The name was announced by the director of science, Thomas Zurbuchen at an event in Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. The name "Perseverance" was suggested by a 7th standard Student Alexander Mather from Virginia. His name was chosen out of 28,000 entries that participated in NASA's naming competition.  

Perseverance: Perseverance is a Mars rover manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for use in NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The Perseverance rover has a new, more capable wheel design, among other improvements. It is used to collect the samples from the Martian rocks which help the scientists to determine about the ancient microbial life that existed in red planet. It is the fifth exploratory vehicle which will begin the process of trying to bring rocks back to Earth for study. The other four Mars rover are Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.

TIH: It refers to Technology Innovation Hub. As a part of the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) sanctioned a sum of Rs 7.25 crore to IIT Mandi, to establish a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH). TIH will be established at the institute in Himachal Pradesh.

The main focus of TIH will be on human-computer interaction (HCI) research. The projects will highlight designing and developing computer technology (interfaces), and study the interaction between humans (users) and entrepreneurship. It will also collaborate with other leading institutes. The function of TIH is to develop tools, education material, hands-on experiments with specialized tool kits, connecting with existing innovation ecosystems.

It will not only inter-link with different stakeholders but also connect with other initiatives of the Government of India. It seeks to provide an innovation platform for schools, colleges and advanced technical training institutes in the targeted areas.

TIFAC: It refers to Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council. The TIFAC is an autonomous body under ministry and it functions under the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology. It was founded in 1988. Its function is to foresee the technological innovation in select technology areas that are of national importance.

Recently, TIFAC launched the Vigyan Jyoti scheme. The scheme was launched on International Women's Day. The main aim of the scheme is to encourage women to pursue science.

Vigyan Jyoti: It was launched by the President of India Ram Nath kovind. It is an initiative to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education among girls.

Under the scheme, selected women from more than 500 districts will be given opportunities to attend science camps at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), NITs, and other leading institutions of science and technology education where women are not adequately represented.

Sports

ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020: Defending champions Australia defeated India to win the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020. The final took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on International Women's Day. Australia beat India by 85 runs, to win their fifth title.

The seventh edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup tournament was held in Australia from 21 February to 8 March 2020. Beth Mooney was named the Player of the Tournament while Alyssa Healy has been adjudged the Player of the Match.

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 was the seventh edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup tournament. The tournament featured 10 teams which are India, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.

Kieron Pollard: He is a West Indies skipper. Pollard is a medium-pace bowler and big-hitting batsman in the middle-order. He has become the first player in the history of T20 (Twenty20) cricket to play 500 T20s matches. He made this record while playing against Sri Lanka for the first T20I in Pallekele, Srilanka. The second in the list is Dwayne Bravo with 453 matches and Chris Gayle is at the third spot in the list with 404 T20 matches.

Bhawna Dehariya: She is 27-year-old Indian mountaineer from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. She has successfully scaled the Australia highest peak 'Mount Kosciuszko'. Its height is 2,228 meters (7,310 ft) above sea level. The mountaineer had scaled Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro in 2019.  The height of Mount Everest is 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level and the height of Mount Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level.

Mohun Bagan: Mohan Bagan is an Athletic Club and is one of the oldest clubs in India & Asia. It was established on 15th August 1889 by Bhupendra Nath Bose in West Bengal, India. It created history in 1911 by becoming the first Indian team to win IFA Shield, an event that has been closely linked with Indian nationalism.

Recently, Mohun Bagan clinched the 2019-20 Hero I-League Championship title by defeating Aizawl FC by 1-0. The final match was held at Kalyani, West Bengal. The top goal scorer in this tournament was Dipanda Dicka who played for the Punjab football team in the I-League. This is the Kolkata giants' second I-League title in five years. 

2019-20 Hero I-League Championship was the 13th edition of the football championship.

Snooker: 34 year old Indian snooker player Pankaj Advani won the 34th National 6-Red Snooker Championship title. Pankaj defeated Ishpreet Singh by 7-3 in the finals to claim the title while Amee Kamani defeated Vidya Pillai by 4-2 to win the women's title.

6-Red Snooker Championship: The Six-red World Championship is a six-red snooker tournament. It is played with the six colour balls and six reds. The maximum break/ points in the six-red snooker are 75. Stephen Maguire is the reigning champion.

Current Affairs March 01 to March 07

Arts

Chapchar Kut: The Chapchar Kut the biggest, joyful and most important festival of Mizoram, India. It is a spring festival celebrated by Mizos usually in March after completion of the Jhum cultivation. This festival is a public holiday in the state.

Recently, the Mizo spring festival 'Chapchar Kut' was celebrated across the state of Mizoram. However, the celebrations started yesterday with mega event holding at the Assam Rifles Ground at Aizawl where the State Art & Culture Minister R Lalzirliana welcomed all people to participate in the fun and amusement events organized during the festival. Traditional bamboo dance known as the Cheraw and other dances were performed at the main event which attracted thousands of people.

Jhum cultivation: Jhum cultivation or Shifting cultivation is a primitive practice of cultivation in States of North Eastern Hill Region of India and people involved in such cultivation are called Jhumia.

It is also known as the slash and burn agriculture, is the process of growing crops by first clearing the land of trees and vegetation and burning them thereafter. The burnt soil contains potash which increases the nutrient content of the soil.

Shifting Cultivation is known as Taungya In Myanmar, Ladang in Indonesia, Caingin in Philippines, Milpa in central America & Mexico, Ray in Vietnam, Tamrai in Thailand, Chena in Sri Lanka, Conuco in Venezuela, Roca in Brazil and Masole in central Africa. 

Orchha: It is a town in Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh. Orchha is a famous tourist destination. It is famous for its Ramaraja temple as well as other historical buildings. Orchha has won the Best Heritage City at the National Tourism Awards 2017-18 and is on the shortlist for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Recently, a three day festival ‘Namaste Orchha’ festival starting from Orchha, began in Madhya Pradesh. It is a 3 day festival which aims to create new opportunities to promote the rich cultural, natural and architectural heritage, traditions and history of the state. The festival was organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board to promote the state as a leading tourism destination. It was jointly inaugurated by Minister of Commercial Tax Brijendra Singh Rathore, Minister of Culture Vijaylaxmi Sadho and Chief Secretary Sudhi Ranjan Mohanty

The festival will exhibit the cultural landscape of Madhya Pradesh through varieties of activities such as art, music, dance, guided history tours and photography. The festival will also feature a food and crafts bazaar that will have local cuisine and traditional handicrafts of the region.

Kisan Mela and business meets too will be organized during the event.

Katchatheevu Island: It is an uninhabited island administered by Sri Lanka. It was a disputed territory claimed by India until 1976. The island is located between Neduntheevu, Sri Lanka and Rameswaram, India. It has been traditionally used by both Sri Lankan Tamil and Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Recently, the annual festival of St Antony’s Shrine began in Katchatheevu Island of Sri Lanka. St Antony is worshiped by the devotees as the patron saint of sea farers. The St shrine is the only structure on the Katchatheevu island.

Priests from both India and Sri Lanka conducted the mass and car procession in connection with the festival. The festival commenced with the traditional flag hoisting ceremonies. More than 3000 indian devotees took part in the festival celebrations. As per an agreement between the Indian and SriLankan governments, Indians are not required to possess an Indian passport or Sri Lankan visa for visiting Kachchatheevu.

Economics

Union Cabinet: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has approved the mega consolidation of ten PSBs into four PSBs. the 4 PSBs include the amalgamation of Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India into Punjab National Bank, amalgamation of Syndicate Bank into Canara Bank, amalgamation of Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank into Union Bank of India and amalgamation of Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank. The merger will come into effect from the new financial year 1st April 2020.

Vadhvan Port: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its 'in-principle' approval for setting up a Major Port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra. An amount of Rs 65,545 crores has been sanctioned by the Government of India for the project.

The Vadhavan port will be developed on the 'Landlord Model'. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be set up to provide the necessary infrastructure to the port.

The SPV will develop the port infrastructure including reclamation, construction of breakwater, besides establishing connectivity to the hinterland. All business activities will be done by private developers under the PPP (private-public partnership) model.

The decision of setting a major port in Vadhavan is because the natural draft at the Vadhavan Port near the coast is about 20 meters. This makes it ideal to handle bigger vessels. The development of the Vadhavan port will house the container ships of 16,000 to 25,000 TEU capacities.

Defence

National Security Day: India celebrates National Security Day or Rashtriya Suraksha Diwas on the 4th of March every year. The Day is celebrated to honour all the security forces, including policemen, para-military forces, commandos, guards, army officers, and other persons involved in security, who sacrifice their life in maintaining the peace and security of the people of the country. The 4th of March also marks the day when National Security Council (NSC) of India was established.

NSC: It refers to National Security Council. NSC was established on 4 March 1966 by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India. The council was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 and the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. It is headquartered in CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai. NSC was set up to generate, develop and sustain a voluntary movement on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) at the national level.

Defence Deal: India recently bagged a deal worth USD 40 million to supply four indigenously-built weapon locating radars to Armenia. In a major boost to the country's defence sector, India has reportedly overtaken Russia and Poland with this deal.

India and Armenia signed deals on DRDO built “Swati” weapon locating radars. Armenia decided to go with Indian built radars after testing Russian and Poland made systems.

The 4 Swathi weapon locating radars have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will be manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

The Swathi weapon locating radars (WLR) have the prowess to provide fast, automatic and accurate location of enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets up to a range of 50 km. This counter-battery radar is designed to detect and track incoming artillery and rocket fire to determine the point of origin for counter-battery fire.

RalDer-X: It is a new explosive detection device jointly developed by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune. HEMRL Pune is a premier laboratory of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO). This new explosive detection device RaIDer-X has the capability to detect 20 explosives within a distance of about 2 metres. Bulk explosive in concealed condition can also be detected by the device. The data library can be built in the system to expand its capability to detect a number of explosives in pure form as well as with the contaminated objects.

Recently, RaIDer-X  was unveiled at the National Workshop on Explosive Detection (NWED-2020) in Pune (Maharashtra). The NWED-2020 workshop was organized by High Energy Materials Research 

Environment

Gangotri Glacier: Gangotri Glacier is located in Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, India in a region bordering Tibet. This glacier is among the largest in the Himalayas. It is not only one of the primary sources of water for river Ganga but also it holds a place of great significance for Indians. It is a pilgrimage site for devout Hindus, while also being popular within the trekking circles.

The Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG),an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Science and Technology had conducted study at Chirbasa station near Gangotri Glacier in 2016. According to the study, the black carbon concentration in the region has increased 400 times more. The increase in carbon concentration is seen more during the summer season due to agricultural burning in western India and forest fires along the Himalayan slopes. Even the long-range transportation of pollutants in winter adds to the the black carbon content around the glacier, thereby posing a direct threat to its existence. The glacier has been facing constant threat of excessive melting, as global warming continues unabated.

Black carbon: Black carbon is a potent climate-warming component of particulate matter which is formed due to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. This is because black carbon easily absorbs solar energy, thereby increasing the warmth in the atmosphere. It falls to the earth with precipitation causing the surface of snow and ice to darken. This reduces the reflecting power of the surface and increases the warming of the snow which causes quick melting.  

Biomethanation: Biomethanation is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas. Oxygen free environment is called Anaerobic condition.

National Chambal Sanctuary: National Chambal Sanctuary is located on the Chambal River at the tri-junction of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It spreads across Sheopur, Morena and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh. The Sanctuary is the home to 75% population of critically endangered Ghariyal and red crowned roofed turtle and endangered Gangetic river dolphins. It also harbours 180 species of migratory birds.

Recently, the Central Government declared the National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). Being declared as Eco-Sensitive Zone, construction of resorts, hotels or other residential and industrial activities are prohibited. Notifications declaring areas as ESZ are issued under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

Eco-Sensitive Zone: It is a protected area around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries that acts as a "shock absorber" and they also act as transition zones. These areas are controlled by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).   Notifications declaring areas as ESZ are issued under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

The main objective behind declaring ESZ is to regulate certain activities so as to protect the fragile ecosystem surrounding the protected areas as much as possible.

World Wildlife Day: World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3rd March annually. It is celebrated to raise awareness of endangered animals and plants, and ways to fight against wildlife crime.

Recently, European Commission launched the Global Coalition for Biodiversity on the occasion of World Wildlife Day in Monaco. The new global coalition was named “United for Biodiversity”. The coalition has called on world zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and natural history museums to join in to raise awareness about the nature crisis ahead of the CoP 15 in Kunming,China in 2020. The coalition has been welcomed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as well as by several organizations.

The institution also pledged to raise their voice for nature by adopting formed United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP)’s Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment finding , which stated that one million species were already at risk of extinction.

IPBES: It is an abbreviation for Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES is an intergovernmental organization. It was established on 21st April 2012 to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany.

CAMPA: It refers to Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority. It was established in 2001. It is governed through CAMPA act.

Recently, a financial assistance of Rs 1.51 crore has been sanctioned to Kaziranga National Park in Kanchanjuri, Assam during the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-2020. It has been sanctioned under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The notification was issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). Apart from this, funds have also been allocated under Project Tiger Scheme and Development of Wildlife Habitat Scheme.

Project Tiger scheme is a conservation program launched in April 1973 by the Government of India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's tenure. It was launched in Jim Corbett National Park, Uttrakhand.

Indian Policy

Suposhit Maa Abhiyan: It is a scheme launched by the Lok Sabha speaker Shri Om Birla recently in Kota, Rajasthan. The scheme will cover the whole of India. The Scheme is launched to help India achieve its target of “Malnutrition Free India” by 2022. The main objective of this campaign is to provide nutritional support to pregnant women and adolescent girls. The initiative will not only look after the women till pregnancy but will also take care of their newborn children.

Under the scheme, around 1000 women will be given nutritional food for 1 month. At the same time, the health of the child, including medical examination, blood, medicine, delivery, will be taken care of.

This is being done to so that the future generation of India will be mentally and physically strong.

APEDA: It refers to The Agricultural and Processed Food products Export Development Authority. APEDA is an export promotion organization under Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India. It is responsible for promotion and development of the export of its scheduled products. It was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It works under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (GoI).

Recently, APEDA signed MoUs with IIT Delhi, Quality Council of India (QCI) and Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA). The main objective of the MoU is to utilize its expertise to work together to boost the activities in the interest of agriculture and allied sectors to bring better value to the stakeholders.

The Agriculture Export Policy which was launched in 2018 was framed with a focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, better price realization to farmer and synchronization within policies and programmes of Government of India

ITPO: It refers to India Trade Promotion Organisation. ITPO is the nodal agency of the Government of India under aegis of Ministry of Commerce and Industry (India) for promoting country's external trade. It was founded on 1st April 1977. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current Chairman of ITPO is LC Goyal.

Recently, The 35th edition of AAHAR - the Food and Hospitality fair began in New Delhi. The fair will be open from 3rd March to 7th March 2020.

This 5 day-long fair was organized by India Trade Promotion Organisation, ITPO, with support of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Agriculture and Processed Food Products Development Authority and several apex industry associations.

A wide range of food products, machinery, hospitality, Food and Beverage Equipment and Decoration items, and Confectionery items from over 750 participants from India and overseas were presented at the fair.

The main aim of exhibitions like AAHAR not only promote but also transform the various sectors of the economy and are the lifeline for the exhibition industry. AAHAR is one of Asia’s best known brands in Food & Hospitality shows.

Fuel Humsafar: It is a mobile app for doorstep diesel delivery. Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar recently launched a mobile application ‘Fuel Humsafar’ for delivery of diesel at doorsteps of Housing societies, hotels and hospitals in the national capital region.

The app will be used for the fuel delivery services to housing societies, hospitals, hotels malls, construction sites, industries, banquets and other bulk buyers of diesel in various NCR cities, including Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Hapur, Kundli, Manesar, and Bahadurgarh. Humsafar has 12 bowser tankers in varying capacity from 4 kilolitres to 6 kilolitres and an experienced team of 35 people.

A new Innovative tech idea like ‘Humsafar’ aims to bring new technology and know-how to the market as well as generate employment that will positively impact the economy as well as the bulk consumers of diesel.

Indian polity

UNHRC: It refers to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights. The UNCHR was established in 1946 by ECOSOC. It is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations that works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

Recently, the United Nation Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has filed an intervention in the Supreme Court on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The commission has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the citizenship amendment law.

India in response dismissed any foreign intervention in CAA matter as it was an internal matter of the country and no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India's sovereignty.

India believes that the CAA is an internal rely of the country. Also, consistent with India, CAA is constitutionally valid.

CAA: The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by both the housed of the Parliament of India in 2019. The act amends Citizenship Act 1955. It seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan (Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Sikhs) who have entered India before 31 December 2014 to escape racial discrimination.

The CAA had led to widespread protests in India, starting with northeastern states.

Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019: Recently, On March 2, 2020, Minister of Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' introduced The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 December 2019 and then passed the following day.

The Bill aims to convert India’s three deemed-to-be Sanskrit universities. They are Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati  into Central Sanskrit Universities. The Universities will work towards the promotion of the knowledge of sanskrit which is an important ancient language of India.

Banking Regulation Act:  Finance Minister of India Nirmala Sitaraman  on March 3, 2020, introduced a bill in the Parliament to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to give the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) more powers to regulate cooperative banks. The bill comes in the wake of the crisis at the Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank in 2019.

The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to strengthen co-operative banks by increasing professionalism, enabling access to capital, improving governance and ensuring sound banking through the RBI. Its objective is to prevent frauds as that seen at Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Banks (PMC).

According to the provisions in the bill, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), before issuing order for supersession of boards of cooperative banks registered with states will have to consult with the state governments. The amendments that are being made will apply to all urban co-operative banks and multi-state cooperative banks. The Cooperative Banks are currently under dual control of both the Registrar of Co-operative Societies and RBI.

Companies Act, 2013: The Companies Act 2013 is an Act of the Parliament of India on Indian company law. It is the law covering incorporation, dissolution and the running of companies in India. The Act came into force across India on 12th September 2013 and has a few amendments to the previous act of 1956. It has also introduced new concepts like a One Person Company.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 March 2020, gave its approval to the Companies (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Cabinet approved 72 changes to the Companies Act, 2013 with an aim to increase the ease of doing business in India and to decriminalize the provisions in the act.

Vivad Se Viswas Bill, 2020: Lok Sabha on 4 March 2020 passed the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 with some amendments. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman on 5 February 2020 during the Union Budget 2020-21.

The bill aims to provide a mechanism for resolution of pending tax disputes related to income tax and corporation tax.  It seeks to provide taxpayers a lucrative opportunity to settle direct tax disputes within the current financial year by waiving interest and penalty on their pending taxes. The amended bill will allow taxpayers to settle cases pending before the Commissioner (Appeals), Income Tax Appellate Tribunals (ITATs), Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs), High Courts and the Supreme Court.

Mineral Law Amendment Bill: Lok Sabha, on 4 March 2020 passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) bill, 2020. The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi for consideration and passing. The bill seeks to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) act, 1957 and also Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

The Bill proposes to remove end-use restrictions for participating in coal mine auctions and will open up the coal sector fully for commercial mining for all domestic and global companies. This will help in reduction of coal imports. It would also pave the way for auctioning of iron ore mining leases which expire this month.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2019: Lok Sabha, on 4 March 2020 passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2019. The bill was passed without any discussion. The Bill was moved by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lower House to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

International

Slovenia: Slovenia, a country in Central Europe. It is situated in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. The Capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana. The currency used here is Euro. The current President of Slovenia is Borut Pahor.

Recently, leader of Slovenian Democratic Party, Janez Jansa became the new Prime Minister of Slovenia.Slovenia’s parliament confirmed Janez Jansa as its new prime minister. He will be replacing the centre-left Prime Minister Marjan Sarec. PM Marjan Sarec had resigned from his post in January 2020.

61 year old Jansa led the Slovenian government from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013. He is an ally of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.

BRAC: It is an acronym for Building Resources Across Communities. It was initially known as Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee and then as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. BRAC is an international development organisation based in Bangladesh. It is the largest non-governmental organisation founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh. It was established as a small-scale relief and rehabilitation project to help returning war refugees after the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. BRAC was registered under the NGO Affairs Bureau of the Government of Bangladesh in order to receive foreign donations. It is present in all 64 districts of Bangladesh as well as 11 other countries in Asia, Africa, and the America. BRAC runs a university, a bank, insurance company, a seed company, among other things. They have one lakh full-time staff, 8,000 of whom work outside Bangladesh. It has been working in areas like poverty alleviation through extending loans to the poor, gender equality, healthcare, nutrition, environment and employment among many other things.

BRAC has retained its position as the top ranking NGO for 2020 in the world for the fifth consecutive year. The rankings were announced by the Geneva-based organization NGO Adviser. It publishes the rankings every year based on publicly available data for the top 500 global NGOs.The rankings by the Public Adviser are based on the impact, innovation, governance and sustainability of the NGO.

BRACK recently announced a new 2030 strategy with the goal to make lives of 250 million people self-sustainable. 

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

Recently, the 20th Session of the Senior Officials' Meeting (SoM) was held in in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The meeting was chaired by Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha.

During the meet, it was decided that Sri Lanka will lead the science, technology, and innovation sector in Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). This was agreed during the finalization of areas of cooperation among BIMSTEC Member States. It was also decided that a BIMSTEC Facility for Technology Transfer will be opened in Sri Lanka in the future. Srilanka will also appoint a Director to the BIMSTEC Secretariat in June this year.

Malaysia: It is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur. The currency used here is Malaysian ringgit.

Recently, former Home Affairs Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, backed by the corruption-tarnished former governing party, was sworn in by the king. Mr Yassin was selected as the new Prime Minister after the abrupt resignation of 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad. Mr. Mahathir, who was the world's oldest elected leader, had returned to power in 2018 in a coalition with his old rival Anwar Ibrahim.

UNSC: It is an abbreviation for United Nations Security Council. UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is charged with ensuring international peace and security, recommending that the General Assembly accept new members to the United Nations, and approving any changes to its charter. It is headquartered in New York, New York, United States. It was founded on 24th October 1945. Its function includes the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions. It is the only body of the United Nations (UN) with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The council held its first session on 17 January 1946. The Security Council comprises of 15 members out of which five members are permanent and 10 are non-permanent members elected for a period of two years.

Recently, China took over the presidency of UN Security Council for March 2020. It has taken over the presidency with a pledge of strengthening solidarity and cooperation with all the parties and to maintain international peace and security. The presidency of the Council rotates among each of its 15 members every month

Israel: Israel formally known as the State of Israel  is a country in Western Asia. It is located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It is regarded as the biblical Holy Land by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem which is also the Capital of Israel. The currency used here is Israeli Shekel. The current President and Prime Minister of Israel are Reuven Rivlin Prime Minister and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory in Israel's general election which was held on 2nd March 2020. The early results put him ahead of his rival Benny Gantz.

70 year old, Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving leader. He is seeking a record fifth term, having been in office from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009.

National

Books and authors: Recently, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Zubin Irani released a book titled “Chronicles of Change Champions” in New Delhi. It is a compilation of 25 innovative initiatives taken at the state and district levels under the Prime Minister’s flagship scheme of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP).  The book captures the convergent approach adopted at the grass-root level. It also provides insight into the unique manner of community engagement by the District Administration and front-line workers.

BBBP Scheme: The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22nd January 2015 at Panipat, Haryana as a comprehensive programme to address the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and the related issues of empowerment of women over a life-cycle continuum. It is an initiative of the Union ministries of Women & Child Development, Human Resource Development and Health & Family Welfare.

Jan Aushadhi Diwas: Jan Aushadhi Divas or the Generic Medicine Day is observed every year on March 07 since 2019. The day aims to create awareness create awareness about the use of generic medicines.

Recently, India celebrated Jan Aushadhi Diwas 2020 on the 7th of March 2020. This day also celebrates the achievements of Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

Various programme were organized at all PMBJP kendras across the country to increase the awareness about the scheme. The programme witnessed the participation of doctors, health experts, NGO and beneficiaries in a large number.

PMBJP Scheme: Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) scheme was launched by Prime Minister on July 01, 2015, with an objective of making high-quality medicines available to all at affordable prices, especially to the poor and underprivileged, through exclusive outlets of Jan Aushadhi Medical Stores.

The PMBJP is a noble initiative by Department of Pharmaceuticals, Government of India (GoI). Janaushadi Kendras is considered the biggest retail pharm chain of the world with around 6200 outlets in 700 districts. The scheme also provides a good source of self-employment with sustainable and regular earnings.

Ekam Fest: It is a 7 day exhibition - cum - fair. EKAM Fest has been organised in New Delhi from March 2 to March 9, 2020 to promote craftsmanship and products of Divyang artisans and entrepreneurs. The name EKAM has been chosen as the brand name as it signifies Entrepreneurship, Knowledge, Awareness, and Marketing.

The fair has been organized by National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani jointly inaugurated the event. It is an effort for promoting entrepreneurship and knowledge among Divyangjan community and it also aims to generate awareness among society about potentialities of PwDs as well as providing them major marketing opportunities.

During the fair, more than 80 Divyang entrepreneurs, artisans and organizations from 17 States and Union Territories are displaying products and various crafts. The fest will also showcase the products from Jammu & Kashmir and North East, ranging from handloom, handicraft, Embroidery work and dry fruits.

NHFDC: It refers to National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation. NHFDC was founded on 24th January 1997. It operates under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India. The company is registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as a Company not for profit. It provides financial assistance to divyangs and persons with disabilities.  

IOC: It refers to Indian Ocean Commission (French: Commission de l’Océan Indien, COI). IOC is an intergovernmental organization. It was founded in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius. It was institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles. The COI is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations which are Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, and Seychelles. The current Secretary General of COI is Hamada Madi.

Recently, on the 6th of March 2020, India joined the Indian Ocean Commission as the fifth observer. The other four observers are Malta, China, European Union and International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF).

This move has strategic importance as the Commission is an important regional institution in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). It will facilitate collective engagement with the islands in Western Indian Ocean that are becoming strategically significant and also boost cooperation with France that has strong presence in the Western Indian Ocean and lends depth to India’s SAGAR policy of PM Narendra Modi 2015. The move not only strengthens western flank of the Indo-Pacific but also it is a stepping stone to security cooperation with East Africa.

People In News

Ajay Bhushan Pandey: He is a 1984 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer belonging to the Maharashtra cadre. He was the current Revenue Secretary. He was former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). UIDAI is  the nodal agency of Government of India responsible for implementing Aadhaar. He also served as the Chairman of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN).

He has been appointed as the new Finance Secretary by GoI. His new appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

The senior-most bureaucrat among all secretaries in the Finance Ministry is designated as the finance secretary.

Sanjay Kumar Panda: He is a 1991 Indian Foreign Service officer. He is presently Consul General, Consulate General of India, San Francisco.

Senior diplomat Sanjay Kumar Panda has been appointed as India's Ambassador to Turkey. He will succeed Sanjay Bhattacharya. The announcement was made by the Ministry of External Affairs. He has been appointed to the post when India- Turkey relations are under strain.

Jadav Payeng: He is an Asamese environmental activist. He is popularly called the ‘Forest Man of India’. Padma Shri Jadav Payeng is an environmental activist and forest worker from Jorhat. In the past several years, he has planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reserve. The forest is called ‘Molai’ forest after him. It is located near Kokilamukh in Jorhat

He was recently named as the 128th Commonwealth Points of Light Award winner. Queen Elizabeth II has honoured Payeng for his exceptional voluntary service to environmental conservation. He will be fecilitated by the British Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata Nick on March 11. The Points of Light Award recognises people across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

He was also awarded the 6th Karmayogi Award for 2020 at New Delhi. The award is composed of a trophy, a recitation and a reward of Rs 1 lakh. 

Swami Vivekananda Smriti Karmayogi Award is organized by My Home India in New Delhi. The award was conferred for the first time in 2013. This Award is presented to great personalities from North-Eastern India who dedicates their lives to Nation and promotes Nationalism through art & culture, sports, education, etc. for their contribution to respective fields.

My Home India is an NGO which aims at bringing emotional integration between people from different parts of India.

Places In News

Kolkata: Kolkata previously known as Calcutta is the Capital city of West Bengal. It was established as an East India Company trading post. It was India's capital under the British Raj from 1773–1911. The Governor and the Chief Minister of West Bengal are Jagdeep Dhankhar and Mamta Banerjee respectively.

Recently, the Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah inaugurated the National Security Guard (NSG) Regional Hub campus at Kolkata, West Bengal. The NSG hub aims to provide adequate facilities to the brave NSG jawans. The campus will hold the responsibility of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and the entire North-Eastern region. 

Home Minister also inaugurated various welfare projects for NSG, amounting to over Rs. 245 crores, across Kolkata, Manesar, Chennai, and Mumbai. This newly created infrastructure will improve the housing satisfaction and enhance Operational as well Training capabilities.

NSG: It stands for the National Security Guard. NSG is an elite counter-terrorism unit. It functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It was founded in 15 October 1984, following Operation Blue Star, Akshardham Temple attack and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, "for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect states against internal disturbances". National Security Guard personnel are sometimes referred to as 'The Black Cats'.

New Delhi: It is an urban district located in the city of Delhi. New Delhi officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is a city and a union territory of India. It serves as the capital of India and the seat of all three branches of the Government of India.

The foundation stone of New Delhi was laid by Emperor George V during the Delhi Durbar of 1911. The new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931 by Lord Irwin who was the Viceroy and Governor-General of India.

Recently, Minister of State (IC) for Tourism & Culture, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel launched the multilingual version of “Incredible India” website and mobile app in New Delhi. The website is currently hosted in English and Hindi and now the new version of this website and mobile app has been launched in three more new languages i.e. Arabic, Chinese and Spanish.

The aim of this new version is to attract tourists from Chinese, Arabic and Spanish speaking regions.

The objective of this flagship project launched by Ministry of Tourism is to showcase the tourism products of India on a global platform.  The multilingual Incredible India 2.0 website aims to showcase the varied tourism products of India by providing visitors with relevant, personalized and contextual digital experience escalating tourism awareness, attraction, and opportunities.

This new version of the website also features the 360 degree-experience-based walk-through and stories and experiences of the tourists in various aspects such as Heritage, Food & Cuisine, Nature and Wildlife, Spiritual, Luxury, Adventure, Art, Shopping and many more.

Uttarakhand: Uttarakhand was formerly known as Uttaranchal. It was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on 9th November 2000. The state in the northern part of India is often referred to as the "Devabhumi" (literally "Land of the Gods") due to numerous Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on 9th November 2000. Its Capital is Dehra Dun. The Governor‎ and the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand is ‎Krishan Kant Paul and Trivandrum Singh Rawat respectively.

Recently, the Uttarakhand Government announced  Gairsain as the new summer capital of the state. The announcement was made by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on 4th March 2020. However, Dehradun will be retained as the winter capital of Uttarakhand. 

CM Rawat said that this decision was taken as a tribute to the struggle of thousands of women, men and people who fought for the creation of Uttarakhand as a separate state and for decades people also wanted Gairsain as the capital of the state.

Gairsain: It is a tehsil in Chamoli District. It is situated at the eastern edge of the vast Dudhatoli mountain range, located almost at the centre of the state. Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali in 1960 proposed Gairsain as the capital state of Uttarakhand. Statehood activists had long contended that Gairsain was best suited as the capital of Uttarakhand as it was a hilly region falling on the border of Kumaon and Garhwal regions.

Jammu: It is the winter capital and the largest city in Jammu district of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies on the banks of the river Tawi. The city is surrounded by the Himalayas in the north and the northern-plains in the south.

Recently, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) took over the security of the Jammu airport. With this induction, the CISF now currently has 63 airports under its cover in the country.

CISF: It refers to the Central Industrial Security Force. CISF is a Central Armed Police Force in India. It is responsible for airport security at all commercial airports of India. It was set up under an Act of the Parliament of India on 10 March 1969 with a strength of 2,800. CISF was subsequently made an armed force of the Republic of India by another Act of Parliament passed on 15 June 1983. Its Governing body is the Ministry of Home Affairs of India. Its motto is "Protection and Security". The 1.62-lakh personnel strong paramilitary force is designated as the national civil aviation security force.

 

Science and Technology

CRISPR (CaS9): It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is a Gene Editing Tool used to treat blindness.

A person with a genetic condition that causes blindness has become the first to receive a CRISPR–Cas9 gene therapy administered directly into their body. The patient underwent the procedure at the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. However, the doctors said that it may take up to a month to see whether the procedure worked to restore vision.

Genome India Project: It is a gene-mapping project.  The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has initiated this project. This initiative involves twenty leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few Indian Institute of Technology (IITs).

 Recently, the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology cleared the Genome India Project. India will begin its first human genome mapping project by October 2020. In the first phase, the project will take samples of 10,000 persons to develop a reference Genome.

The Centre for Brain Research, which is an autonomous institute in the IISc, Bengaluru, will act as a nodal point of the project. The Government of India (GoI) was inspired by the Human Genome Project.

The Human Genome Project started in 1990 and ended in 2003. It was an international project funded by the US government. The objective of this project was to map the human genome and gather them together to obtain a complete sequence of chromosomes. This led to mapping of nucleotides in the genome.

ICONSAT: It refers to the International Conference on Nano Science and Technology. ICONSAT is a series of biennial international conferences held under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (GoI). India's nano technology journey began with the launch of "Nano Science and Technology Initiative" (NSTI) for 5 years in 2001. Then in 2007 it was renamed as "Nano Mission". The aim of the Nano Mission of India is to provide a global platform for interaction between eminent scientists.

Recently, the Department of Science of Technology operating under Ministry of Science and Technology organized an International Conference on Nano-Science and and Nano Technology (ICONSAT) at Kolkata. The Conference was held from 5th March 2020 to 7th March 2020.The main aim of the conference is to provide a platform for the young researchers & students from within the country and abroad, with the latest development in the emerging areas of Nano Science and Technology.

The conference focused on the recent advances in this frontier research field. The current need of India in the field of Nano-Science was also highlighted during the event. It included 5Ms namely Material, Machines, Mechanical, Manufacturing and Manpower. The Conference was attended by more than 450 scientists from all over the world.

Sports

TOISA: It refers to Times of India Sports Awards. TOISA celebrate and recognize some of the most brilliant sports personalities of our country.

Recently, the 4th edition of TOISA was held in New Delhi to honour the best Indian in 2019 sports. The event was organized by BHIM-UPI (Bharat Interface for Money- Unified Payments Interface). Some of the big names who won the awards were P.V. Sindhu, Rohit Sharma, Saurav Ghoshal. Deepika Kumari, Manika Batra, Praggnanandhaa and several others.

Times of India Awards 2019 winners are:-

P V Sindhu for Sports person of the Year, Unbreakable Spirit of Sports and Badminton Player of the Year in female category while B Sai Praneeth was awarded in the men's category .

India's first world championship silver medalist pugilist Amit Phanghal won the recognition among male boxers while Lovlina Borgohain bagged the award among female boxers.

Rohit Sharma was awarded for the Cricketer of the year.

Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia was given the Lifetime Achievement award.

Hockey legend and three-time Olympic gold medalist Balbir Singh was honoured with the Icon of the Century award.

National badminton coach Pulella Gopichand won the Mentor of the Year award

Former shooter Jaspal Rana was recognised as the Coach of the Year.

Indian men’s Hockey Team for Team of the year

BWF Yonex Dutch Junior International: Young Indian shuttlers Tasnim Mir and Mansi Singh won bronze at BWF Yonex Dutch Junior International 2020. The Badminton event was held in Haarlem, Netherlands. It is for the first time that two Indian shuttlers have won medals in girls’ singles at this BWF Junior International Grand Prix tournament. India is now looking forward to their participation in the Yonex German Junior-2020 to be held in Berlin from 4th to 8th of March.

Mexican Open 2020: It is a tennis tournament which was held in Acapulco, Mexico from 24th to 29th February 2020 at Princess Mundo Imperial. It is the 27th edition of the men's Mexican Open and 20th for the women.

Recently, the World Number 2 Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal won the Men's Singles title at the 2020 Mexico Open. He secured his 85th ATP Tour title by defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the ATP Mexico Open. With this win, he defeated the World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the ATP Rankings.

In the Women’s Singles, British player Heather Watson defeated 17 year old Canadian player Leylah Fernandez by 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 to win the title.

Current Affairs Feburary 23 to Feburary 29

Arts

Death: An Inside Story’: It is a book written by Jaggi Vasudev who is the Founder of Isha Foundation. He is famously known as Sadguru. In 2017, Jaggi Vasudev was awarded Padma Vibhushana for his services in the field of social services.

Recently, the Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu released the book titled ‘Death- An Inside Story: A book for all those who shall’ authored by Jaggi Vasudev. The book was released on the occasion of Mahashivaratri celebrations on 21st February at the Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu where Vice-President Naidu was the Chief Guest.

DPIFF: It stands for Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival. DPIFF is a unique platform to honour and encourage the most creative filmmakers, and to infuse life into their career. It commemorates those deserving storyteller, creative writers, passionate filmmakers, and maverick artists who are part of great Indian cinema. It is India's only independent award function, with a mission to celebrate the legacy of Dadasaheb Phalke Ji – Father of Indian Cinema.

Recently, the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2020 was announced in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Actor Ravi Dubey served as the host of the event. Hrithik Roshan bagged the Best Actor award for film “Super 30”.

Vasantotsav: It is an 8 day cultural fair which is held at Gandhinagar in Gujarat. It is celebrated as the state’s spring festival in February. It is also known as the Sanskruti Kunj Fair. Sanskruti Kunj Fair is an annual festival organised by the Government of Gujarat to celebrate the rich diverse heritage of the country.

Recently, the Eight day cultural fair Vasantotsav was inaugurated at Sanskruti Kunj in Gandhinagar. The annual festival was organised by the department of Youth and cultural Affairs. The theme for the vasantotsav 2020 festival was 'Ek Bhaart Shreshth Bharat'.

World Book of Records-London: World Book of Records - London is an organization that catalogs and verifies number of world records across the world with authentic certification. It is a paramount international organization inspiring people to showcase their talents.

Recently, the World Book of Records, London felicitated Veteran actor Manoj Kumar with the WBR Golden Era of Bollywood honour for being a legendary actor and for his contribution to Indian cinema. The certificate of honour was presented to him by Santosh Shukla, Supreme Court Advocate (President of World Book of Records), Usman Khan (Vice President of World Book of Records, India) and Professor Rajeev Sharma. Before this, legendary actor Dilip Kumar has also been felicitated with the honour.

Losar festival: It is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism. The holiday is celebrated on various dates depending on location tradition. The holiday is a new year's festival, celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar, which corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. It is also called Tibetan New Year, Lhochhar. In 2020, the new year commenced on the 24th of February and celebrations ran until the 26th of the same month. It also commenced the Year of the Male Iron Rat.

Recently, Losar festival was celebrated by the Tibetans from 24-26 February in the Dharamshala, Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Prayers were offered at Dorje Drak Monastery in Shimla. Cultural events were held in different parts of the state as the Tibetan community celebrated the festival. The festival is aimed to preserve its unique identity and rich traditions. The festival includes sacred and secular prayers, several ceremonies, rituals, and folk dancing.

Economics

LIDEA: It is an interactive AI Powered ChatBot solution. Birla Estates recently launched “LIDEA” for its customers on WhatsApp. The solution is aimed at providing information of its projects to users who are evaluating residential developments of Birla Estates. LIDEA which is powered with artificial intelligence, will answer the queries of the users regarding Birla Estates developments. It will also offer features like viewing location, configurations, amenities, virtual tours and accepting site visit requests. The launch of the ChatBot on WhatsApp adds to the digital experience of Birla Alokya, where the homes feature voice based automation and homebuyers can visualise their future home using an immersive Virtual Reality experience.

GoI: Recently, the Government of India (GoI) launched SPICe+, a web form that integrates 10 services of various ministries and departments. This will help boost Ease of Doing Business in India, especially for a startup. It was launched by the Secretary of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Injeti Srinivas.

 SPICE+: It is an acronym for Simplified Performa for Incorporating Company Electronically Plus. This web form provides 10 services thereby saving time, cost for starting a business in India. The 10 services that it provides are DIN allotment, issue of PAN, TAN, EPFO and ESIC registration, opening bank account for a company, allotment of GSTIN, issue of Profession Tax, etc. Out of the ten services it will also provide services of the three Central Government Ministries like Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour and the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.

Initiatives such as SPICE+ is necessary to improve India's ranking globally.

Defence

National War Memorial: It is a monument that was erected in the memory of all the brave soldiers from all the three wings of the armed forces who have laid down their lives for the nation. The War Memorial has names of 25,942 soldiers martyred after Independence engraved. The memorial consists of four concentric circles namely the 'Veerta Chakra' or Circle of Bravery, 'Amar Chakra' or Circle of Immortality, 'Tyag Chakra' or Circle of Sacrifice and 'Rakshak Chakra' or Circle of Protection. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated and dedicated the monument to the nation on 25 February 2019.

On 25 February 2020, India observed the first anniversary of the iconic National War Memorial. A solemn ceremony was held where Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and veterans from the three services will lay wreaths and pay homage to the fallen soldiers.  The memorial helps in strengthening the sense of high moral values, sacrifice and national pride in the citizens.

US and India: India-US finalise defence deals worth $3 bn. The deals were signed after delegation-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump who was in his maiden visit to India. In a joint statement with PM Narendra Modi, the US President Donald Trump said that India has agreed to purchase USD 3 billion worth advanced American military equipment including procurement of six AH-64E Apache & 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from the US.

The deals are expected to enhance the joint defence capabilities between India and US and also of rising strategic partnership between both the countries.

Thal Sena Bhawan: It is the name of the new Army Headquarters that is proposed to be constructed at Delhi Cantonment, opposite Manekshaw Centre. It will be constructed over 39 acres of land. The construction of the building is expected to be completed in 3 to 4 years.

The Defence Minister Rajanth Singh recently laid foundation stone to construct a new Army Headquarters in Delhi Cantontment. The Thal Sena Bhawan will allow the Army to functions its headquarters under one roof, bringing together different offices currently working in eight different locations in the national capital. The new Army headquarters has been designed as a multi-storey environment-friendly building. It is being conceptualized as a multistory green building adopting Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) norms.

GRIHA: It is an acronym for Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment GRIHA norms is a rating tool that helps people assesses the performance of their building against certain nationally acceptable benchmarks. It evaluates the environmental performance of a building holistically over its entire life cycle, thereby providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a 'green building'.

Environment & Climate

Cave Fish: Cavefish or cave fish is a generic term for fresh and brackish water fish adapted to life in caves and other underground habitats. Cavefish are members of a wide range of families and do not form a monophyletic group. Typical adaptations found in cavefish are reduced eyes and pigmentation. There are over 250 species of fish in the world living in dark caves with scarce food. Most of these fish are small, generally less than 8.5 cms long as they have less food to prey and eat.

Recently, the experts from U.K. Switzerland and India have found the largest Cave Fish in the world in Meghalaya. It is regarded as the largest known subterranean fish in world and is 40 cm long. The fish was found in a cave located in a remote and densely forested area in Jaintia Hills.

M.M. Wildlife Sanctuary: It refers to MalaiMahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. It is located in Karnataka in Chamarajanagar district. The MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Chamarajanagara district will soon get the status of a tiger reserve. It will be the sixth one in the state and the 51st in the country.

The Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary was once the hideout of notorious brigand Veerappan. It is based on the confluence of the Eastern and Western ghats. It was notified as a sanctuary only in May 2013. It is home to tigers, leopards, sloth bears, elephants, dholes, antelopes, grizzled giant squirrels and honey badgers.

Indian Policy

ASKDISHA: It is a Hindi Version of Artificial Intelligence-based chatbot. Artificial Intelligence based ASKDISHA was initially launched in English language. ASKDISHA chatbot is developed to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered by IRCTC both in English as well as Hindi. It has been launched on the ticketing website www.irctc.co.in and tourism website www.irctctourism.com of its PSU, Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC). IRCTC also plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.

Chatbot: The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet. It is the first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC. It is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers.

PM-KISAN: It refers to Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi. It is a Central Sector scheme initiative by the government of India in which all farmers will get up to Rs 6,000 per year as minimum income support. The initiative was announced by Piyush Goyal during the 2019 Interim Union Budget of India on 1 February 2019.

Recently, on 24 February 2020 the successful completion of one year of PM-KISAN was celebrated. In order to commemorate its success, PM Kisan Mobile app was launched by the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar.  PM Kisan Mobile App is launched to achieve GoI's goal of “Doubling Farmers’ Income by 2022” easily.

The main aim of PM Kisan Mobile App is to help farmers learn about their payment status, their eligibility towards a scheme and many other information.

RAISE 2020: It refers to ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020. It is India’s first Artificial Intelligence summit to be organized by the Government in partnership with Industry and Academia.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) announced the mega event, RAISE 2020 to be held from April 11-12 in New Delhi. The summit will be attended by experts of Artificial Intelligence from all over the world. The main focus of the summit will be to exchange ideas to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas like healthcare, education, agriculture, and smart mobility amongst other sectors. The main aim to implement AI in social transformation is that it will help in bringing regulatory changes. It will also improve the efficiency of workplaces.

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, the Government of India (GoI) formally announced the constitution of the 22nd Law Commission. The law panel will advise the government on complex legal issues. The Commission has a term of three years. With the president giving his nod for the creation of the Law Commission, government will now appoint a chairperson to head the panel and other members.

The chairperson usually is a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired chief justice of a high court. The term of the previous commission had ended on August 31, 2018. Union Cabinet had last week had approved for the reconstituting the panel.

International

India and Myanmar: India and Myanmar signed and exchanged 10 memorandum of understanding (MoUs). The Mous were signed and exchanged after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar President U Win Myint at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Most of the agreements were aimed at developing Myanmar’s Rakhine state. This MoU is the first of its kind of government to government (G2G) agreement signed by Myanmar with a cooperation partner focussed on socio-economic development and livelihood initiatives in Rakhine State.

The agreements included an MoU on ‘Cooperation for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons; Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation and Re-Integration of Victims of Trafficking’.

An agreement regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP) was also signed between the two sides. 

Rakhine State: Rakhine is a province of Myanmar. It is considered the homeland of the Rohingya community. The Rohingya are one of Myanmar's many ethnic minorities. According to UN estimates, The Rakhine state has witnessed a lot of violence in the past and scores of Rohingyas had fled the state facing persecution. In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar's army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundred thousands  fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

South Sudan: South Sudan, officially known as the Republic of South Sudan is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. It gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, making it the most recent sovereign state with widespread recognition. Its Capital is Juba. The Currency used here is South Sudanese pound.

Recently, In February 2020, Riek  Machar was resworn as vice president following a peace agreement with Salva Kiir, the current President of South Sudan. He is formally rejoining the government in a boost for a peace deal aimed at ending more than two years of conflict. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon is a politician who served as the inaugural Vice President of South Sudan from its independence in 2011 until his dismissal in 2013.

Taliban: The Taliban who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan. It is the main insurgent group that has been fighting against the Afghan government and American troops. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to overthrow the Taliban. The leader of Taliban is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada who is a hardline religious scholar. The Taliban have been in direct talks with the US since 2018, with both sides looking to end the long-running conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

National

Vishwakarma Awards 2019: Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank presented the third edition of Vishwakarma Awards 2019 during an occasion in New Delhi. Around 23 groups were awarded Chatra Vishwakarma Awards (CVA) while 6 institutes were awarded with Utkrisht Santhan Vishwakarma Award (USVA). The valedictory function of the Awards function was organized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The award recognizes college students who have good potential and are an asset to the nation. The theme of the competition of the award was 'How to Enhance the income of a village'.

Vishwakarma Awards: Vishwakarma Awards was instituted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) since 2017. They are being awarded every year with an aim to motivate young individuals and inspire leaders and organizations to work towards the growth and development of the Nation.

The Chhatra Vishwakarma awards (CVA) are Class I awards. This award is awarded for Excellent Progressive Staff (for College students & Mentor).

Utkrisht Sansthan Vishwakarma Award (USVA) are Class II awards. This award is presented for exemplary Institutional intervention.

Central Excise Day: This day is celebrated on the 24th of February across India. The day is being celebrated to honor the service of Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC) to the country. It is celebrated every year to convey the importance of excise and service tax excise tax among the common people and also to encourage the officers to carry out their duties with utmost sincerity. The day is also celebrated to commemorate the Central Excise and Salt Act, which was enacted on February 24, 1944.

CBEC: It stands for Central Board of Excise and Custom. It is India’s one of the oldest government agencies.  It was founded in 1855 as the Customs and General Excise department. CBEC was later renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Customs and Central Excise/ Central GST department was established to administer customs laws. It operates under Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.

It deals with matters related to smuggling and administration of matters relating to Customs, IGST, central excise, Central Goods & service tax and narcotics to the extent under the CBEC's purview. It is also responsible for the checking the implementation of Customs act, 1962, Central Excise Act 1944, Customs Tariff Act 1975 and Service Tax Act.

India and US: President of the United States Donald Trump accompanied by the first Lady Melania Trump was given a warm welcome in India on 24th February 2020. He is the first serving President to visit Gujarat. He visited the Sabarmati Ashram, where he and the first lady of US spun the Charkha.  Then they headed towards the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad for “Namaste Trump” event. Motera 

People In News

Vijay Advani: He has been appointed as the new Chairman of its Global Board of Directors by the US-India Business Council (USIBC). Vijay Adani before his appointed served as the Executive Chairman of the Board in January 2020. The council also announced two new members of the Global Board of Directors Lockheed Martin International Senior Vice President Tim Cahill and GE South Asia President & CEO Mahesh Palashikar.

USIBC: It stands for US-India Business Council. USIBC represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and Indo-Pacific. US India Business Council (USIBC) represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and Indo-Pacific. It was founded in 1975. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

Dr. Niti Kumar: She is a senior scientist from Division of Molecular Parasitology and Immunology, Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow. She has won the SERB Women Excellence Award 2020. The award will be conferred by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind during National Science Day Celebrations on 28 February 2020 in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The award is presented to women scientists below 40 years of age who have received recognition from national academies.The women researchers will be supported by research grant of Rs 5 lakh per annum for 3 years by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India.

 Dr Kumar’s research group is trying to understand the protein quality control machinery in human malaria parasite for exploration of alternative drug targets for malaria intervention.

Dr. Niti Kumar has received several awards and honors like Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (DBT-IYBA 2015), EMBO Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2010-2012), INSA Medal for Young Scientist (2010) by Indian National Academy of Sciences, Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellowship by European Union under 6th Framework Programme (2005-2006) and Max Planck Post-doctoral fellowship at Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (2009).

Sreekar Prasad: He is a veteran video editor who holds eight National Awards including a Special Jury Award. His recent Bollywood projects includes ‘Super 30 and ‘Saaho’.

Recently, he entered the Limca Book of Records for 'films edited in the most number of languages'. He received a certification from the Limca Records for editing films in 17 languages that are Hindi, English, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Punjabi, Pangchenpa, Karbi, Mishing, Bodo, and Marathi, Odia, Sinhalese, Bengali, Assamese and Nepali.

Places In News

Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh (MP) 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. Its capital is Bhopal. The current Chief Minister and Governor of Madhya Pradesh are Kamal Nath and Lal Ji Tandon respectively.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in the country to introduce the unified registration card and the second state to launch the unified driving license after Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Kamal Nath distributed the unified cards, including vehicle registration and driving license, to six persons in a function held in Bhopal.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had issued the guidelines to bring uniformity in driving licenses and vehicle registration cards across the country in March 2019. These cards are being issued in compliance with these guidelines.

The objective of the card is to provide unified smart cards for driving license & vehicle registration with QR code.

Bihar: Bihar is a state in East India, bordering Nepal. Bihar celebrates its foundation day as Bihar Diwas. It was formed on 22nd March 1912. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Bihar are Phagu Chauhan and Nitish Kumar respectively. 

Recently, annual budget for 2020-21 was presented in the Bihar Assembly. It was presented by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who holds finance portfolio. The state budget which is worth 2 lakh 11 thousand and 761 crore rupees lays special emphasis on education, health and infrastructure.

Assam: Assam is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations. It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk. The state was the first site for oil drilling in Asia. Its capital is Dispur. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Sarbananda Sonowal respectively.

 Recently, a high-level committee (HLC) on implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord formally submitted its report to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The report was handed over by Justice (retd) B K Sharma, the chairman of the MHA- constituted panel to the Chief Minister in the presence of the State Cabinet.

 Assam Accord’s Clause 6 : The Clause 6 of the Assam Accord pledges to provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

Jammu and Kashmir: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K ) is a region administered by India as a union territory. It was a region formerly administered by India as a state from 1954 to 2019.

Recently, National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) sanctioned over Rs 400 crore to UT of J&K during the current financial year for infrastructural development of its rural areas. 

The funding will be provided under Trench XXV of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) of NABARD. The money has been sanctioned for the construction of roads and bridges which would provide all-weather connectivity to over 450 remote villages of the Union Territory of J&K.

Uttar Pradesh: Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India. It was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh during British rule, and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. The current Chief Minister and Governor of Uttar Pradesh are Yogi Adityanath and Anandiben Patel respectively.

Recently, the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has approved a proposal to change the name of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Languages University, in Lucknow. For this, the State University Act – 1973 will be amended.

According to the Cabinet, the decision was taken believing that besides English, foreign languages - Japanese,French, German, are essential for employment and development of knowledge.

Science and Technology

INCOIS: It is an acronym for Indian National Centre for Ocean Information. INCOIS is an autonomous organization that functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). It was established in 1999. It is headquartered in Pragathi Nagar, Hyderabad. The organizations have provided a number of free services to users in the marine realm.

Recently, INCOIS launched 3 ocean-based advanced warning systems- Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS), Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS) and the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS). The main objective of this technology is to significantly reduce damage and losses to fishermen, offshore oil exploration industries and coastal population during extreme weather and oceanic events.

Swell Surges: Swell Surges often referred to as surface gravity waves as they are caused due to surface gravity. They are not the normal wind waves as Wind Waves are generated by the by the local winds. The swell waves originating from the Southern Indian Ocean frequently cause damage to the coastal region. They are like flash floods which take place without any noticeable changes in local winds or coastal environment. They cause damage to the boats and nets of the fishermen and are often mistaken for tsunamis.

National Science Day: The day is celebrated by India on 28 February since 1987 every year. It is celebrated to honour the discovery of 'Raman Effect'. The Raman Effect was discovered by the Professor Sir C V Raman on February 28, 1928. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1930.

On 28 February 2020, India celebrated National Science Day 2020. The theme this year was "Women in Science". It was celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The theme aims to appreciate the contribution of women in the field of science.

C V Raman: Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born on 7th November 1888 in the then Madras Presidency (Tamil Nadu) in British India. He was exceptional in studies. He passed the matriculation at only 11 years of age. Two years later, he passed the Intermediate-level of exam and joined the Presidency College in 1902. He was fascinated with the scattering of light since his early years. It was in Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) Calcuta that Raman was carrying out experiments on scattering of light that he ended up discovering the Raman Effect in 1928. He discovered the change in wavelength of light that is seen when a beam of light is deflected by molecules. This scattering phenomenon was later termed as ‘Raman scattering’ or the ‘Raman effect’.Raman was appointed to be the first Indian director of Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in 1933. He became the first National Professor of the India after India gained independence in 1947. He received the highest civilian award from his home country, the Bharat Ratna, in 1954.

Sports

SFI: It refers to Swimming Federation of India. SFI is the national governing body for aquatic sports in India. Legally, it is a non-profit association registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1861. It was established in 1948 and is headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The Federation holds elections for its office bearers every four years. The SFI currently oversees competition in the sports of swimming, masters swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, high diving, and water polo. The current Chairman of Swimming Federation of India is Glenn Saldanha.

Recently, 11 year old Jiya Rai created a a world record by becoming the youngest and the fastest specially-abled girl to swim 14 kilometres in open water in 3 hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds. The record was created under the supervision of the Swimming Association of Maharashtra.

Her achievement has been qualified for registration in the India Book of Records, Asia Book and Limca Book of Records. She was felicitated with a Certificate and Trophy.

She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Delay in Speech at a tender age of about two years.

RFI: It refers to the Rowing Federation of India. It was founded on 30th August 1976 with a view to make the sport of Rowing popular in India. It is affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association and Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The president of RFI is Rajlaxmi Deo. 

Recently, Rajlaxmi Singh Deo was again re-elected as the president of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI). The elections were conducted under the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) observer K Govindraj.

Rajpal Singh, G Bhasker, Souvik Ghose, and Sreekunara Kurup were elected as vice-presidents.

MV Sriram was voted as secretary-general of the RFI.

Krishna Kumar Singh and Chirajit Dhukan were appointed as joint-secretaries of the federation.

Jasbir Singh, Venkateshwara Rao, Ismail Baig, Jacob, and Manjunatha were elected as the executive committee members.

The elected candidates will remain at the post for 4 years till 2024.

D Gukesh: He is India's Chess Grandmaster. He is from TamilNadu. He won the 34th Cannes Open in France. He defeated Harutyun Bargseghyan of France in fifty moves to win the chess tournament. Siva Mahadevan of India secured the 10th place with 6 points.

The Tamil Nadu player Gukesh became the world’s second youngest Grandmaster ever in 2019 at the age of 12 years, 7 months, and 17 days after he won the Hillerod 110th Anniversary Open event in Denmark.

CGF: It refers to Commonwealth Games Federation. CGF is the international organisation responsible for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games, and is the foremost authority in matters relating to the games. It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

Recently, the Commonwealth Games Federation announced that India will host Commonwealth Shooting and Archery Championships 2022.

The decision was taken by CGF after the Executive Board meeting in London.  The two events will be held in Chandigarh in January 2022, while the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is scheduled from 27th of July to 7th of August, 2022.

The decision is being considered a big win for India after IOA  threatened to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Games for dropping shooting from the roster.

AIBA: It is an acronym of International Boxing Association. AIBA was founded in 1946. It is heasquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The current President of AIBA is Dr Mohamed Moustahsane.

AIBA World Cup 2020: Russia will become the first country to host the new format of AIBA Team World Cup in 2020. AIBA Executive committee members voted in favour to approve the Russian bid at its meeting in Budapest. The tournament will be coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II under the motto “Boxing for peace”. The final is scheduled for October in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The best national teams all over the world will take part in the edition. This format will make boxing more attractive to spectators and sponsors.

The first World Cup was conducted at the famous arena of Madison Square Garden in New York City, the USA in 1979. The World Cup was held from 1979 to 1998 and also in the period 2002-2006 as a team event. The last tournament was organised in Moscow in 2008.

 

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