Feb. 29, 2020

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

LEAP YEAR
Saturday is February 29, a date that comes approximately once every four years making 2020 a leap year.

About:

  • Why have leap years:
    • Earth takes close to (not exactly) 365 days and 6 hours to orbit the Sun, which means that the calendar year is about 6 hours shorter than the actual solar year.

    • By the end of 4 years, the calendar years will have missed a total of 24 hours, or one full day. To compensate, we have leap years.



  • Rules and exceptions
    • Leap years are always multiples of four — 2016, 2020, 2024 — but a year that is a multiple of four is not always a leap year.

    • There are exceptions, such as 1900 and 2100, both multiples of four, yet neither a leap year.

    • But again, there are exceptions to such exceptions. For example, 2000 ended with 00 but remained a leap year.



  • Formula: The formula for leap year in the Gregorian calendar is:
    • A year that is a multiple of 4 is a leap year; except:

    • A year ending with 00 is not a leap year; except:

    • A “00 year” in which 00 is preceded by a multiple of 4 (1600, 2000, 2400 etc) remains a leap year.

    • That is why 1900 are 2100 are not leap years, but 2000 is one.



Source : Indian Express
Geography

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

KALLAKKADAL
The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois), Hyderabad, has launched three ocean-based specialised products/services — the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS), the Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS) and the Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS).

Swell Surge Forecast System:

  • It is designed for the prediction of Kallakkadal/Swell Surge that occurs along the Indian coast, particularly the west coast.

  • Kallakkadal is a colloquial term used by Kerala fishermen to refer to the freaky flooding episodes and in 2012 UNESCO formally accepted this term for scientific use.

  • Kallakkadal are caused by meteorological conditions in the Southern Ocean, south of 30°S.

  • Kallakadal/Swell surge are flash-flood events that take place without any noticeable advance change in local winds or any other apparent signature in the coastal environment. Such events are intermittent throughout the year.

Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS):

  • It is an advisory and forecast service system for small vessels operating in Indian coastal waters. The advisories are valid for small vessels of beam width up to 7 m.

  • The warning system is based on the ‘Boat Safety Index’ (BSI) derived from wave model forecast outputs such as significant wave height, wave steepness, directional spread and the rapid development of wind at sea which is boat-specific.   

Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS):

  • INCOIS-ABIS will provide near-real time information on spatio-temporal occurrence and spread of phytoplankton blooms over the North Indian Ocean.

  • In addition, four regions have been identified as bloom hotspots viz. a) North Eastern Arabian Sea b) coastal waters off Kerala c) Gulf of Mannar and d) coastal waters of Gopalpur. 

Important Info :
  • INCOIS, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, provides a number of free services for users in the marine realm, including fishermen.
Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

AI BASED MODULE
NITI Aayog, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based Module rolled out for students in Indian schools.

About:

  • The AI-Base Module has been introduced with an objective for students to leverage the full potential of AIM’s Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) and further empowers them to innovate and create valuable solutions benefiting societies at large.

  • The module contains activities, videos and experiments that enable students to work through and learn the various concepts of AI.

  • Atal Innovation Mission housed at NITI Aayog is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • At the school level, AIM is establishing Atal Tinkering Lab (ATLs) in all districts across India.

Source : LiveMint
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

2020 CD3
Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth, which they have dubbed a “mini-moon” or the planet’s “second moon”.

About:

  • Dubbed 2020 CD3, the mini-moon was discovered by Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona on the night of February 15.

  • It is actually an asteroid, about the size of a car; its diameter is about 1.9-3.5 m.

  • Orbit integrations indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth. i.e. unlike our permanent Moon, the mini-moon is temporary; it will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way. 

Important Info :

Temporarily Captured Object (TCO)?

  • When an asteroid’s orbit crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometimes be captured into the latter orbit. This is what happened with 2020 CD3. It is now orbiting at a distance farther from Earth. Such an asteroid is called a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO).
  • The orbit of such objects is unstable. They have to contend with the gravitational influence of our permanent Moon as well as that of the Sun.
  • Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) previously discovered 2006 RH120, which orbited Earth for some time that year, before it escaped in 2007. 
Source : Indian Express
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

RENEWABLE ENERGY MANAGEMENT CENTERS (REMCs)
Union Power Minister dedicated 11 Renewable Energy Management Centers (REMCs) to the nation.

About:

  • The Renewable Energy Management Centers (REMCs) are equipped with Artificial Intelligence based RE forecasting and scheduling tools and provide greater visualization and enhanced situational awareness to the grid operators.

  • Government of India had approved the implementation of the REMCs as a Central Scheme and had mandated POWERGRID, a Maharatna CPSE under Ministry of Power as Implementing Agency.

  • These REMCs are being managed by Power System Operation Corporation of India Ltd. (POSOCO) at Regional and National level and at State level by State Load Despatch Centres (SLDCs).

  • Presently, 55 GW of Renewable (Solar and Wind) is being monitored through the eleven REMCs. 

Source : The Hindu
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

PRIME MINISTER’s EMPLOYMENT GENERATION PROGRAMME (PMEGP)
Government of India held a Meeting to review the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), a flagship scheme of the Ministry of MSME.

About:

  • PMEGP is a credit linked subsidy scheme which promotes self-employment through setting up of micro enterprises, where subsidy up to 35 percent is provided by the Government through Ministry of MSME for loans up to Rs. 25 lakhs in manufacturing and Rs 10 lakhs in service sector.

  • To give further boost to the scheme, the target in the current year has been increased to support the establishments of 80,000 units. 

Source : PIB
Economy

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

ICGS VARAD
Union Minister for Shipping commissioned Indian Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Vessel ICGS Varad in Chennai.

About:

  • The newly commissioned ICGS Varad with gross tonnage of 2100 tons is 98 mtrs long and has 15 mtrs breadth. The ship will be fitted with one CRN -91 and two 12.7 mm guns and will be capable of carrying an Integral Twin Engine Helicopter.

  • ICGS Varad has been built indigenously by M/s L&T that will contribute immensely towards the vision of Make in India.

  • Commissioning of ICGS Varad will enhance the ICGS fleet of ships which will contribute in monitoring and constant vigil for coastal security of Indian maritime borders. 

Source : PIB
Defence & Security

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

BIOFUEL FROM MICROORGANISMS
Researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) are developing a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine microorganism called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.

Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002:

  • Background: Biofuel production is dependent on the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars and a nitrogen source.

  • Cyanobacteria: Some bacteria, such as the cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae), too can perform photosynthesis and produce sugar by fixing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Cyanobacteria are found in both fresh and marine waters.

  • Benefits: The yield of sugars from cyanobacteria could potentially be much higher than that of land-based crops. Further, unlike plant-based sugars, cyanobacterial biomass provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins. This could give a boost to the biofuel sector.

  • Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002: A team from International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have successfully engineered a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which showed a higher growth rate and sugar (glycogen) content. 

Source : The Hindu
Science & Tech

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

PANDEMIC
Instead of calling COVID-19 spread as pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far been referring only to a COVID-19 “outbreak”, which WHO on January 30 declared was a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”.

About:

  • Definitions: While an outbreak is understood to be a sudden rise in the cases of a disease in a particular place, and an epidemic as a large outbreak among a particular population or region, a pandemic, according to the WHO, is “the worldwide spread of a new disease”.

  • Criteria for Pandemic: While the WHO looks for sustained outbreaks causing a larger-than-expected number of cases on multiple continents, there is no specific number of countries that a disease must touch for WHO to classify it as a pandemic.

  • Spread: The novel coronavirus disease that emerged in Wuhan, China, in the final days of last year, is now in at least 47 countries around the world, spanning every continent except Antarctica. More than 82,000 people have been infected, and over 2,800 are dead. 

Important Info :

• In June 2009, the WHO declared a global pandemic of novel influenza A (H1N1), commonly known as swine flu.  

Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
Feb. 29, 2020

DONATIONS TO PARTIES
The BJP received three times more donations over ₹20,000 than all other national political parties combined in 2018-19, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

About:

  • The national parties declared a total of ₹951.66 crore in such donations in 2018-19 and much of the amount — ₹742.15 crore — was declared by the BJP.

  • The donations declared by the BJP is more than three times the aggregate declared by the Congress, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and the Trinamool for the same period.

  • The BSP declared that the party did not receive any donations above ₹20,000 during FY 2018-19, as it has been declaring for the past 13 years.

  • Compared with the previous financial year 2017-18, the national parties’ declared donations increased by 103% in 2018-19, which was an election year.

  • The bulk of donations to the parties came from Maharashtra among the States and corporate or business sectors when looking at the category of donors. 

Source : The Hindu
Polity & Governance

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
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