Feb. 28, 2020

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

LIGHT COMBAT HELICOPTER (LCH)
Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Production Hangar at Helicopter Division in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Complex at Bengaluru, Karnataka.

About:

  • Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) – a Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU).

  • It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter.

  • LCH has the distinction of being the first attach helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 4,700 mts above sea level with 500kg load. 

Source : All India Radio
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

YARD 45006 VAJRA
The sixth offshore patrol vessel 'Yard 45006 VAJRA' to enhance coastal security was formally launched in the presence of Union Shipping Minister.

About:

  • The 'Yard 45006' is the sixth in the series of seven offshore patrol vessels project that is designed and indigenously built by Larsen and Toubro Shipbuilding in line with the Centre's 'Make in India' vision.

  • It is equipped with two diesel driven engines and can reach a maximum speed of 26 knots.

  • The ship would be fitted with CRN-91 and 12.7 mm guns and an integral twin engine helicopter enhancing its operational, surveillance, search and rescue capability.

  • The vessel would be be utilised for day and night surveillance along with anti-terrorist, anti-smuggling operations in the exclusive economic zone.

  • The vessel is expected to be inducted into the Coast Guard after completion of extensive trials and testing for the equipment and machinery. 

Source : Economic Times
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

INDIA-MYANMAR RELATIONS
President of Myanmar, U Win Myint, paid a State Visit to India from 26 to 29 February 2020.

About:

  • Both sides signed 10 agreements in various fields such as:
    • MoU on Cooperation for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons

    • MoU for Cooperation on Combating Timber Trafficking, and Conservation of Tigers and other Wildlife

    • Agreement regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP)

    • MoU for cooperation in the field of petroleum products

    • Project Agreement for construction of pre-schools under Rakhine State Development Programme



  • India reiterated its support for peace , stability and development in Rakhine state. Coordinated Bus Service between Imphal and Mandalay is expected to begin from April this year.

  • The Indian side reiterated its commitment for construction of the Integrated Check Post in Tamu, Myanmar. 

Source : All India Radio
International

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

NATIONAL SCIENCE DAY 2020
National Science Day (NSD) is being celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan on February 28 with ‘Women In Science’ as the focal theme of the programme.

About:

  • National Science Day (NSD) is celebrated every year on 28 February by the Government of India to commemorate the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’. designated 28 February as in 1986.

  • On this day, Sir C.V. Raman announced the discovery of the 'Raman Effect' for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930.

  • National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) acts as a nodal agency to coordinate celebration of the National Science Day throughout the country

  • On the occasion, President Ram Nath Kovind presented several awards for science communication and popularization as well as for women scientists such as:
    • National Science and Technology and Communication Awards,

    • Augmenting Writing Skills For Articulating Research (AWSAR) awards,

    • SERB Women Excellence Awards and

    • National Award For Young Woman Showing Excellence Through Application Of Technology For Societal Benefits. 



Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

RAISE 2020
The Government of India (GoI) announced the mega event, RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ to be held from April 11-12 in New Delhi.

About:

  • RAISE 2020 is India's first Artificial Intelligence summit to be organized by the Government in partnership with Industry & Academia.

  • The summit will be a global meeting of minds to exchange ideas to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility amongst other sectors.

  • The event will start with a Startup Challenge – Pitchfest followed by the two-day summit, organized by Government of India along with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. 

Source : PIB
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

HURUN GLOBAL RICH LIST 2020
The ninth edition of the Hurun Global Rich List was recently released.

Key findings of the list:

  • The Hurun Global Rich List 2020 has a list of 2,817 individuals across the globe having a networth of USD 1 billion or more.

  • The world has added 480 billionaires in 2019, more than one a day, while China added more than three a week and India did more than three billionaires a month.

  • China and the US occupied the first and second spot with 799 and 626 billionaires, respectively.

  • India added 34 new billionaires to take the count to 138 on the list which has helped the country to feature at the third position globally.

  • China (799) is home to more billionaires than the US (626) and India combined.

  • Mumbai is the home to more than a third of the richest individuals in the country with 50 of them living in the megapolis, making it the ninth richest city globally, followed by New Delhi with 30, Bengaluru with 17 and Ahmedabad with 12.

  • With USD 67 billion in networth, Mukesh Ambani (minting Rs 7 crore every hour) is also the ninth richest in the world which is topped by Jeff Bezos of Amazon with USD 140 billion.

  • Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal, just 24 years old, is the youngest Indian in the rich list with a networth of USD 1.1 billion. 

Important Info :
  • The Hurun report is a luxury publishing and events group set up in London in 1998 with strong presence in China.
Source : Economic Times
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

InSight MARS LANDER
NASA published a set of six papers to reveal findings of NASA’s InSight lander mission.

About:

  • Name: InSight is an acronym for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport”.

  • Agencies involved: This mission is part of “NASA's Discovery Program.”

  • Significance: It is the first mission to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

  • Mission Objectives: InSight won’t be looking for life on Mars. Instead It will study its insides i.e. it seeks to understand the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets through investigation of the interior structure and processes of Mars.

  • Timeline: The mission successfully landed at Elysium Planitia on Mars in November 2018. 

Important Info :

Key findings:

  • Trembles: Mars trembles more often than expected, but also more mildly. Mars doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth, but it does have volcanically active regions that can cause rumbles.
  • Magnetism: At a Martian site called Homestead hollow, the magnetic signals are 10 times stronger than what was predicted earlier.
  • Dust devils: It has detected/felt (but hasn’t seen yet) thousands of passing whirlwinds, which are called dust devils when they pick up grit and become visible. 
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

HENNEGUYA SALMINICOLA
An international team of researchers has found Henneguya salminicola, a multicellular animal with no mitochondrial DNA, making it the only known animal to exist without the need to breathe oxygen.

Background:

  • One of the common characteristics of all multicellular animals on Earth is mitochondrial respiration—the process by which oxygen is used to generate adenosine triphosphate—the fuel used to power cellular processes. The process takes place in mitochondria.

  • But now, there is a known exception: Henneguya salminicola.

 H. Salminicola:

  • salminicola, member of the group Myxozoa, is a microscopic parasite that infects salmon.

  • In their work, the researchers sequenced the DNA of H. salminicola tissue and found no mitochondrial DNA at all. The researchers suggest they likely steal energy from their host using some type of proteins.

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

ULSOOR LAKE
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the constitution of a joint committee to take water samples from Ulsoor lake to ascertain whether the lake is being polluted owing to illegal activity.

About:

  • Ulsoor Lake or Halasuru Lake is one of the biggest lakes in Bengaluru.

  • It is also known as Halasuru Lake. It derives its name from the name of the locality it is situated, namely, Halasuru in Bangalore.

  • Even though the lake is dated to Kempegowdas' time, the present lake was created by Sir Lewin Bentham Bowring, the then Commissioner of Bangalore. 

Source : The Hindu
Geography

Current Affairs
Feb. 28, 2020

MOTERA STADIUM
The newly renovated Motera stadium hosted the opening of the 'Namaste Trump' meeting of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 February 2020. Attendance of over 100,000 people was reported.

About: 

  • Sardar Patel Stadium, commonly known as Motera Stadium, is a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

  • Owned by the Gujarat Cricket Association, it is a regular venue for Test, ODI, and T20I matches.

  • As of 2020, it is the largest cricket stadium in the world and one of the largest sports venues overall, with a seating capacity of 110,000 spectators.
    • The Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, is the world’s largest stadium with a seating capacity of 114,000.

    • Before Motera, Australia's iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was the biggest cricket stadium which could house approximately 95000.



Sports

Feb. 27, 2020

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

UKIERI-UGC HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME FOR ADMINISTRATORS
The Union HRD Minister launched the ‘Higher Education Leadership Development Programme for Administrators.’

About:

  • Bodies involved: The programme is a joint initiative of UGC and British Council in India under the auspices of UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

  • Programme objective: To train the senior and middle level academic administrators in Indian Universities to enable them to bring about systemic changes with renewed approaches, capacity, tools and skill in Universities in India.

  • Strategy: This programme includes two workshops conducted by UK trainers, which will train about 300 academic administrators in the level of Registrar and Joint/Deputy/Assistant Registrar to enable them to bring about professional transformation in the higher education institutions. 

Source : PIB
Education

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

NATIONAL TECHNICAL TEXTILES MISSION
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval to set up a National Technical Textiles Mission with a total outlay of Rs 1480 Crore, with a view to position the country as a global leader in Technical Textiles.

About:

  • The Mission would have a four year implementation period from FY 2020-21 to 2023-24. The Mission will move into sunset phase after four years period.

  • A Mission Directorate in the Ministry of Textiles headed by an eminent expert in the related field will be made operational. The Mission Directorate will not have any permanent employment and there will be no creation of building infrastructure for the Mission purpose.

The Mission will have four components:

  • Component-l: Promoting both (i) fundamental research at fibre level and (ii) application based research in geo-textiles, agro-textiles, medical textiles, mobile textiles and sports textiles and development of bio­degradable technical textiles.

  • Component-II: Promotion and Market Development.

  • Component-III: Export promotion of technical textiles and ensuring 10% average growth in exports per year upto 2023-24. An Export Promotion Council for Technical Textiles will be set up for this purpose.

  • Component-IV: Promoting technical education at higher engineering and technology levels related to technical textiles. 

Important Info :

Background of Technical Textiles:

  • Technical textiles are textiles materials and products manufactured primarily for technical performance and functional properties rather than aesthetic characteristics.
  • Technical Textiles products are divided into 12 broad categories (Agrotech, Buildtech, Clothtech, Geotech, Hometech, Indutech, Mobiltech, Meditech, Protech, Sportstech, Oekotech, Packtech) depending upon their application areas.
  • India shares nearly 6% of world market size of 250 Billion USD. However, the annual average growth of the segment is 12%, as compared to 4% world average growth. Penetration level of technical textiles is low in India at 5-10%, against 30-70% in advanced countries.
  • The Mission aims at increasing the size of the technical textiles in the domestic market to $40 billion which would require an average growth of at least 10 per cent per annum.
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

INDIA PORTS GLOBAL LIMITED (IPGL)
The Union Cabinet has approved the exemption of the India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL) from the DPE Guidelines, except reservation and vigilance policies.

About:

  • IPGL was incorporated under Companies Act 2013, as a Special Purpose Vehicle jointly promoted by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Deendayal Port Trust (DPT), under Administrative control of Ministry of Shipping, for development and management of Shahid Behesthi Port of Chabahar in Iran.

  • In 2018, all the shares of JNPT & DPT were purchased by "Sagarmala Development Company Ltd" (SDCL). SDCL is a CPSE and therefore IPGL being subsidiary of SDCL has also become a CPSE. As a result, Guidelines of DPE are technically applicable on IPGL.

  • Since Chabahar Port is Country's first overseas port project with strategic objectives, there is an urgent need to allow IPGL to continue to function as a Board managed company, without making the guidelines of DPE applicable to it for a period of 5 years, for smooth execution of the project. 

Source : Economic Times
International

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

EXERCISE INDRADHANUSH
The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) jointly commenced the fifth edition of Exercise Indradhanush at Air Force Station Hindan on 24 Feb 2020. The exercise would formally conclude on 29 Feb 2020.

About:

  • Exercise Indradhanush is a joint air force exercise conducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) of United Kingdom and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

  • The exercise is tasked to enhance mutual operational understanding between the two air forces via close interaction.

  • The exercise started in 2006.

  • The focus of this edition of the exercise is 'Base Defence and Force Protection'. This theme is of significance considering the recent threats to military establishments from terror elements. 

Source : PIB
International

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

ICoSDiTAUS-2020
ICoSDiTAUS-2020, the two-day International Conference on Standardisation of Diagnosis and Terminologies in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha Systems of Medicine concluded in New Delhi.

About:

  • The conference was jointly organized by the Ministry of AYUSH and the WHO during 25- 26 February 2020 at New Delhi

  • It adopted the “New Delhi Declaration on Collection and Classification of Traditional Medicine (TM) Diagnostic Data”.

  • The New Delhi declaration emphasised the commitment of the countries to Traditional Medicine (TM) as a significant area of health care.

  • It further sought the opportunity for including traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of WHO which is the standard diagnostic tool for health management across the world. 

Source : PIB
Health

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

FPIs FROM MAURITIUS
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has clarified that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Mauritius will continue to be eligible for registration as foreign investors in India but subject to increased monitoring.

About:

  • The regulatory clarification was necessitated after Mauritius was placed in the list of ‘jurisdictions under increased monitoring’, commonly referred to as the ‘Grey List’.

  • This led to apprehensions that the Mauritius-based FPIs will not be able to trade in the Indian capital market. 

Important Info :
  • This assumes significance since Mauritius accounts for the second-largest chunk of foreign investments, as per data from the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).
  • In January 2020, Mauritius-based FPIs had total assets under custody (AUC) of ₹4.37 lakh crore, second only to that of the U.S. with₹11.63 lakh crore. 
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

G SRINIVASAN COMMITTEE
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has set up a nine-member committee under Chairmanship of G Srinivasan (former CMD of New India Assurance) to study the feasibility of allowing life insurers to offer indemnity-based health policies.

About:

  • As of now, only general insurance firms and specialised health insurance companies are allowed to offer indemnity-based health policies.

  • IRDAI (Health Insurance) Regulations 2016 allow life insurance companies to offer benefit based health insurance products only.

  • The IRDAI move follows intense lobbying by private life insurance companies for an entry into the fast-growing health insurance segment. 

Important Info :
  • In an indemnity-based health insurance plan, the policyholder is reimbursed the cost of medical expenses. These plans will reimburse the policyholder with the actual amount incurred as expenses during a hospitalisation stay up to the sum insured under the policy. 
Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

KHELO INDIA WINTER GAMES
The Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports inaugurated the first-ever Khelo India Winter Games at Leh in the Union Territory of Ladakh.

About:

  • The event is being organised to promote winters ports in India.

  • A total of three winter sporting competitions are being held during the Ladakh leg of Khelo India Winter Games, these are – Open Ice Hockey Championship, Figure Skating, Speed Skating.

  • The second leg of the Khelo India Winter Games will be held at Kongdori, Gulmarg from 7th till 11th March and will have participants competing in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Boarding and Snow Shoeing events. 

Source : PIB
Sports

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

DELHI'S HAPPINESS CURRICULUM
The US First Lady Melania Trump visited a Sarvodaya School in Delhi, and the central focus of her visit were the “happiness classes”, which are held in Delhi government schools every morning for students from Class I to Class VIII.

About:

  • The happiness curriculum class is one of the flagship schemes of the Delhi government in the education sector launched in July 2018 in all government schools.

  • The curriculum is designed for students of classes nursery through the eighth standard.

  • The learning outcomes of this curriculum are spread across four categories:
    • becoming mindful and attentive;

    • developing critical thinking and reflection;

    • developing social-emotional skills and

    • developing a confident and pleasant personality.



  • For the evaluation, no examinations are conducted, neither will marks be awarded. The assessment under this curriculum is qualitative, focusing on the “process rather than the outcome.”

Important Info :

Background:

  • The curriculum was launched in the aftermath of the World Happiness Report, 2018, in which India ranked 133 among 155 nations in the global rankings. 
Source : Indian Express
Ethics

Current Affairs
Feb. 27, 2020

DONALD TRUMP’S VISIT TO INDIA
The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, paid a State Visit to India on 24-25 February 2020.

Key highlights of the visit:

  • US President Donald Trump, on his first State visit to India, and PM Modi decided to elevate ties between their countries to a “comprehensive global strategic partnership”, giving it broader scope and scale.

  • No trade deal was signed during the visit. The two leaders said they looked forward to “early conclusion” of defence cooperation enabling agreements including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

  • The two sides also “expressed interest in the concept of the Blue Dot Network, a multi-stakeholder initiative that will bring governments, the private sector, and civil society together to promote high-quality trusted standards for global infrastructure development”.

  • They added the Haqqani network and Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) to the list of terror groups against whom they “called for concerted action”.

  • President Trump announced that US International Development Finance Corporation will be establishing a permanent presence in India and America is committed to work with India to improve development.

Defence Deal:

  • It was announced that India will purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including 24 multi-role MH-60 Romeo helicopters, through the Foreign Military Sale government-to-government route, and six Apache AH 64E Apache helicopters for the Army.

  • The six choppers for the Army will be in addition to the 22 Apache helicopters that have already been ordered for the Air Force.

  • The MH-60 Romeo Seahawk, made by Lockheed Martin, can not only track and hunt ships, but is also used by the US Navy as anti-submarine weapon. 

Important Info :

List of agreements signed:

  • A MoU was signed on mental health between the health departments of both the two countries.
  • Another MoU on the safety of medical products was signed between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization with the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • A Letter of Cooperation was signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Exxon Mobil India LNG Limited and Chart Industries Inc, US. 
Source : Indian Express
International

Feb. 26, 2020

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

AJRAK
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the 9th Episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat 2.0.’

Key Highlights:

  • He narrated the story of Ismail Khatri (of Ajrak village in Kutch area of Gujarat) who nurtured his traditional art form of ‘Ajrak print’.

  • He shared the achievement of Kamya Karthikeyan, who conquered Mount Aconcagua – the highest peak of the Andes Mountains in South America – at the age of twelve. She is now on a new mission, called 'Mission Saahas', under which she is trying to conquer the highest peaks of all the continents.

  • Quoting Tamil poetess Avvaiyar “Katrathu Kaiman Alavu Kallathathu Ulagalavu” which means, what we know is but just a handful of sand; what we do not know is like a universe in itself, PM pointed out the recent discovery of new species of fish in the caves of Meghalaya.

  • Modi hailed the take-off of Indian Air Force’s AN 32 aircraft from Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpoche Airport. The aircraft for the first time ever used a mixture of 10% Indian bio-jet fuel.

  • He also mentioned his surprise trip to Hunar Haat in Delhi and urged others to visit the exhibition organised by the Minority Affairs Ministry. 

Important Info :

Ajrak is a unique form of blockprinted shawls with deep crimson red and indigo blue background found in Sindh region of India and Pakistan. 

Source : The Hindu
Culture

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

WORLD AIR QUALITY REPORT 2019
The 2019 World Air Quality Report was released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.

Key findings:

  • India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities — 21 of the most polluted 30 cities; 14 of the highest 20; and 6 of the highest 10.

  • The ranking is based on a comparison of PM2.5 levels.

  • Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.

  • While cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements. These improvements are believed to be largely a result of economic slowdown.

  • According to it, around 90% of the global population is breathing unsafe air. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

KATHERINE JOHNSON
Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020), an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights, passed away.

About:

  • Her work was fundamental in enabling Apollo 11 to land on the moon in 1969. Before Apollo 11, Johnson calculated the trajectory of Alan Shepherd’s 1961 trip to space. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program.

  • NASA noted her "historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist".

  • In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2019, Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

  • The 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures tells the stories of Johnson, Vaughan and Mary Jackson. 

Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

BABHANIYAV VILLAGE
A nearly 4,000-year-old urban settlement has been unearthed in Varanasi by a team of surveyors from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Experts say, this could be one of the craft villages mentioned in ancient texts.

About:

  • The university's Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, did the preliminary survey of the site in Babhaniyav village, 13 kilometres away from Varanasi.

  • It found remnants of one of the settlements mentioned in ancient literature about the holy city.

  • The survey found a temple dating back to the 5th century through 8th century, potteries which are 4,000-year-old and walls which are 2,000-year-old. 

Important Info :

Significance:

  • The discovery gains significance because of its proximity to Varanasi, which according to legend was founded by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva 5,000 years ago, though modern scholars believe it to be around 3,000 years old.
  • The latest findings in Babhaniyav village is significant as it could have been a satellite settlement and feeding centre of the Varanasi-Sarnath region. 
Source : All India Radio
History

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

STEEL INDUSTRY
As per World Steel Association data, India became the second largest steel producer of crude steel after China in 2018 and 2019, by replacing Japan.

About:

  • India’s crude steel production in 2018 was at 109.3 MT, an increase of 7.7 per cent from 101.5 MT in 2017. This moved up to 111.2 million tonnes in 2019.

  • In contrast, China remains number one with 920 million tonnes of production in 2018 and 996.3 million tonnes in 2019. The United States and South Korea rank fourth and fifth respectively.

Important Info :
  • World Steel Association is the international trade body for the iron and steel industry. It is a non-profit organisation with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Steel being a deregulated sector, the Government does not set any annual targets for steel production. Decision on quantity of steel production is taken by individual companies based on commercial considerations and market requirements.
Source : LiveMint
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

THER MOUND, SIRSA
A mound in Sirsa could hold clues to the ancient city of ‘Sarishika’. However, before the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) can confirm the historicity of the site, it has to convince the nearly 50,000 people living on the identified 82 acres to move away from the land.

About:

  • Sirsa is a city and a municipal council in Sirsa district of Haryana.

  • Sirsa is believed to be one of the oldest towns located in Haryana, the ancient route leading to Taxila.

  • Its present name is derived from the ancient name Sarishika, which finds mention in the Mahabharta, Panini's Ashtadhyayi and Buddhist text Divyavadana.

Important Info :

Ancient site of Ther Mound:

  • The ruins of the ancient Sarishika are presumably buried in this mound.
  • This extensive site is spread over an area of about five kms in circumference with a maximum height of about 15 meters. 
  • No archaeological excavations have so far been conducted at this site. According to government, Stone sculptures, coins, an inscription, pottery pieces and other antiquities collected from surface exploration are sufficient to prove its archaeological relevance.
  • The 1904 Ancient Monuments Preservation Act first declared Sirsa’s ‘Ther Mound’ a protected monument back in 1932. 
Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

SCIENCE AND APPLIED RESEARCH ALLIANCE AND SUPPORT (SARAS)
NCL (Northern Coalfields Limited) has set up a centre named “Science and Applied Research Alliance and Support”(SARAS) to promote Innovation and improve NCL’s operational efficiency.

About:

  • NCL (Northern Coalfields Limited) is a flagship subsidiary of Coal India.

  • NCL accounts for 15 per cent of India’s coal production and 10 per cent of thermal power generation of the country is met by the coal produced by this Miniratna Company of Govt. of India. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

CENTRALIZED PUBLIC GRIEVANCE REDRESS AND MONITORING SYSTEM (CPGRAMS)
Union Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions launched the CPGRAMS 7.0 version.

About:

  • The Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS), is an online web-enabled system over NICNET developed by NIC in association with the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).

  • It has been developed with an objective of speedy redress and effective monitoring of grievances by Ministries/Departments/Organizations of Government of India.

  • CPGRAMS aims at submission of grievances by the aggrieved citizens from anywhere and anytime (24x7) basis for instant and easy communication between the nodal PG officers of Government Organizations and citizens resulting in the speedy redress of their grievances.

Source : PIB
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

ANALYSIS OF MPs’ PERFORMANCE
The first edition of the report analysing the Rajya Sabha MPs’ performance on party lines during the recently concluded Parliament session was released by Rajya Sabha Chairman.

Key findings:

  • The report shows that each political party got a proportional share of time, with the Opposition getting a little more. The BJP, accounting for 34% of the strength of the House, got 480 opportunities amounting to 33% of the total.

  • The Congress, constituting 19% of the strength, got 345 opportunities, which comes to 24% share of the total.

  • The 10 recognised parties in the House with five members and above each with a total of 190 members — accounting for 80% of the strength of the Council — got about 81% of the total opportunities.

  • Others, including regional parties and Independents coming to 20% of the membership of the House, got a 19% share of participation indicating broad correspondence between the strength and share of opportunities.

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

Current Affairs
Feb. 26, 2020

DRAFT ARBITRATION COUNCIL OF INDIA (ACI) RULES
Draft Arbitration Council of India (ACI) rules have been issued for public consultation with the timeline of submission of comments by 14th March, 2020.

Background: Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019

  • The Government has recently amended the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019.

  • It seeks to establish an independent body namely, the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) for the purpose of grading of arbitral institutions and accreditation of arbitrators, etc.

  • ACI will be will be headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court or an eminent person to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

  • Besides, it will also have two Full-time Members from amongst eminent arbitration practitioners and academicians. In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on rotational basis as a Part-time Member.

  • The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice; Secretary, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, ACI will be ex-officio Members.

  • Section 43M of the Act provides for the Secretariat to the Council consisting of such number of officers and employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government. 

Important Info :

In this regard, the Department of Legal Affairs has prepared the following draft Rules:

  • The Arbitration Council of India (the Salary, Allowances and other Terms and Conditions of Chairperson and Members) Rules, 2020.
  • The Arbitration Council of India (the Travelling and other Allowances payable to Part-time Member) Rules, 2020.
  • The Arbitration Council of India (the Qualifications, Appointment and other Terms and Conditions of the service of the Chief Executive Officer) Rules 2020.
  • The Arbitration Council of India (the Number of Officers and Employees of the Secretariat of the Council and the qualifications, appointment and other terms and conditions of the officers and employees of the Council) Rules 2020. 
Source : PIB
Polity & Governance

Feb. 25, 2020

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

BLUE DOT NETWORK
The proposed Blue Dot network is expected to discussed between visiting US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

About:

  • The Blue Dot network is “a multi-stakeholder initiative to bring together governments, the private sector and civil society to promote high-quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development.”

  • The proposal, which is part of the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, will evaluate projects on various parameters, including level of public consultation, transparency in funding, debt traps and basic environment norms.

  • Projects that meet the norms will get a “blue dot”, which will enable them to attract private funding and not have to depend on state-funding alone.

  • The US, which is leading the proposal, has already got Japan and Australia as partners in this idea. 

Important Info :

Comparison with One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR):

  • The proposal is aimed at countering Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.
  • Under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s government and state-owned enterprises finance international projects by providing logistical support — from concrete and steel to workers and cash. This approach, however, has been labelled by some experts as “debt-trap diplomacy”.
  • Blue Dot will be about “supporting alternatives to predatory lending” by facilitating foreign investment in projects that come under this network. 
Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

COP 13 ON CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES (CMS)
The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) concluded in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Key highlights:

  • Logo: The Great Indian Bustard was the mascot of COP13. The CMS COP 13 Logo was also inspired by the traditional ‘KOLAM’ from southern India, which has a profound significance in the context of living in harmony with nature.

  • The theme for the CMS COP 13 was: “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home.”

  • Ten new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13.
    • Seven species were added to Appendix I: Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross and the Oceanic White-tip Shark.

    • Three species were added to Appendix II: Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and the Tope Shark.



  • New and extended Concerted Actions with targeted conservation plans were agreed for 14 species.

  • CMS COP13 also adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration, which calls for the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the new Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October.

  • The first ever report on the Status of Migratory Species, presented to CMS COP13, shows that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining.

  • Three CMS Ambassadors - for terrestrial, avian, and aquatic species - were named at the relaunch of the CMS Ambassadors Programme: Ian Redmond OBE (for terrestrial), Sacha Dench (for avian), and Indian actor Randeep Hooda (for aquatic).

  • Seven new Migratory Species Champions including the Government of India were named at a special high-level event organized on the sidelines of the conference.

  • India, as COP13 host, will assume the role of COP Presidency for the next three years.

  • The Conference kicked off “Super Year for Environment”, which will include a UN Summit in September and culminate in the UN Biodiversity Conference at the end of 2020, when a new global biodiversity strategy for the next decade will be adopted - the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Important Info :

Announcements by Prime Minister Modi:

  • He pledged to focus on the conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway. India has already prepared a ‘National Action Plan for conservation of Migratory Birds along the Central Asian Flyway’. “
  • India by 2020, will be launching its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy.
  • Reiterating the Union Government’s commitment to the path of sustainable development, the Prime Minister mentioned the release of the Linear Infrastructure Policy Guidelines to tailor development in ecologically fragile areas. 
Source : All India Radio
Environment

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

SERB WOMEN EXCELLENCE AWARD-2020
Dr. Niti Kumar, Senior Scientist from Division of Molecular Parasitology and Immunology, CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow has received SERB Women Excellence Award-2020.

About:

  • Award will be conferred by the President of India during National Science Day (NSD) 2020 Celebrations on February 28, 2020, in Vigyan Bhawan. This year's theme for NSD is "Women in Science"

  • This award is given to women scientist below 40 years of age who have received recognition from national academies.

  • The women researchers will be supported by research grant of 5 lakhs per annum for 3 years by Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India (SERB-DST).

Source : PIB
Awards

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

HIMACHAL GRIHINI SUVIDHA YOJANA
In December 2019, the Himachal Pradesh state government declared that the state had become the first state in the country to have “100% LPG gas coverage”.

About:

  • Following the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, the state government launched its own Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojana in May 2018 to cover the remaining households.

  • Except families having a pensioner, income taxpayer or any member employed with the government, board, corporation etc, all households of the state without an LPG connection were eligible. 

Source : Indian Express
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

CRASPEDOTROPIS GRETATHUNBERGAE
A new species of snails have been named Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, in honour of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The species has been described in the Biodiversity Data Journal.

About:

  • The new species comes from tropical rainforests and is sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures, which are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues.

  • Hence the honour to Thunberg, who has been making efforts to raise awareness about climate change.

  • The two-millimetre-long snails have dark grey tentacles, a pale body and a concave shell, whose outer part is greenish-brown. 

Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

PAKKE TIGER RESERVE
The BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh is planning to build a 692.7 km highway through the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR).

About:

  • Named the East-West Industrial Corridor, the highway aims to connect Bhairabhunda in West Kameng district and Manmao in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.

  • According to environmentalists, the project makes no mention of compensation for people likely to be displaced. This corridor will also be a threat to the adjoining Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam. 

Important Info :

Pakke Tiger Reserve?

  • Names: Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve.
  • Location: It is located in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Neighbouring areas and rivers: Towards the south and south-east, the sanctuary adjoins Nameri National Park of Assam. To the east lies the Pakke River and to the west, the park is bounded by the Bhareli or Kameng River.
  • Biodiversity: It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.
Source : The Hindu
Environment & Ecology

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

A FUTURE FOR THE WORLD’S CHILDREN?
The report, titled “A Future for the World’s Children?” was recently released by a Commission of more than 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.

Key Findings:

  • Health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at them.

  • The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.

  • In the report assessing the capacity of 180 countries, India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at 131st position on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.

  • Globally, the number of children and adolescents who are obese has increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase. 

Source : The Hindu
Social Issues

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

LPG PRICES
LPG prices, which are revised on a monthly basis, went up again. In February 2020 the rate for unsubsidised, 14.2 kg cylinders has risen by a steep ₹144.50 in Delhi, at ₹858.50 . In January 2020, a non-subsidised LPG cylinder cost ₹714 in Delhi. The recent price hike has been the sharpest since January 2014.

Methodology:

  • Domestic prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are based on a formula — the import parity price (IPP), which is based on international LPG prices.

  • Saudi Aramco’s LPG price acts as the benchmark for the IPP and includes the free-on-board price, ocean freight, customs duties, port dues and the like.

  • This dollar-denominated figure is converted into rupees before local costs — such as local freight, bottling charges, marketing costs and the GST — are added. This helps the government arrive at the retail selling price for LPG.

  • The government resets the LPG price every month, the decision being influenced by international prices and how the rupee has behaved against the dollar in the immediately preceding weeks. 

Important Info :

Subsidy by government:

  • LPG price for cooking for consumers under PAHAL (DBTL) is subsidized by the Government of India. 
  • On account of a sharp increase in the international price of LPG, for a 14.2 kg cylinder, the subsidy borne by Government to domestic users is increased from Rs.  153.86 per cylinder to Rs. 291.48 per cylinder. 
  • For the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) consumers, the subsidy borne by Government has increased from Rs. 174.86 per cylinder to Rs. 312.48 per cylinder. 
Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

MicroRNAs
Researchers from National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, and SASTRA University, Thanjavur, have discovered how microRNAs are made in plants. This finding makes it much easier for studying processes in plants.

About:

  • MicroRNAs are small molecules, about 21 nucleotides long, and help in controlling the levels of proteins in the cell.

  • In order to decrease the level of a particular protein in specific cells, the microRNAs destroy the messenger RNA molecules that help with the production of that specific protein in the cell.

  • The microRNA molecules do this by cutting down that particular messenger RNA thereby destroying it. This process is called the silencing of the messenger RNA.

  • Similarly, the best way to study the effect of a gene in the DNA is to silence or “knockout” the gene. In knocking out processes, those RNA that induce the gene to produce proteins are destroyed or their levels are reduced by the microRNA as described earlier. 

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 25, 2020

DRAFT NEW DELHI INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION CENTRE (NDIAC) RULES
Draft New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Rules have been issued for public consultation with the timeline of submission of comments by 14th March, 2020.

Background: New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC), Act 2019

  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC), Act 2019 was enacted to establish and make NDIAC a hub for institutional arbitration and to declare it as an institution of national importance.

  • NDIAC will be headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

  • Besides, it will also have two Full-time or Part-time Members from amongst eminent persons having experience in institutional arbitration, both domestic and international.

  • In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on rotational basis as a Part-time Member.

  • The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice; Financial Adviser nominated by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC will be ex-officio Members.

  • Section 23 of the Act provides for the Secretariat to the Centre inter-alia comprising Registrar, Counsel and other officers & employees etc. 

Important Info :

In this regard, the Department of Legal Affairs has prepared the following draft Rules:

  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the terms and conditions and the salary and allowances payable to the Chairperson and Full-time Members) Rules 2020.
  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the travelling and other allowances payable to Part-time Members) Rules 2020.
  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the number of officers and employees of the Secretariat of the Centre) Rules 2020.
  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the qualifications, experience, method of selection and the functions of the Registrar, Counsel and other officers and employees of the Centre) Rules 2020.
Source : PIB
Polity & Governance
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