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Important Current Affairs 26th February 2020

National

CCEA approves National Technical Textiles Mission

• The CCEA on February 26, 2020 approved the setting up of the National Technical Textiles Mission.

• For the implementation of this mission, the Cabinet has allocated total funds of Rs 1480 Crore.

• The mission has been launched with an objective to position India as a global leader in Technical Textiles.

• The Mission will be implemented in the next four years from 2020-21 to 2023-24.

Himachal Pradesh became First to achieve 100% LPG coverage

• Himachal Pradesh became the 1st state in the country to have 100% LPG coverage due to the implementation of PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana) scheme.

• Under the scheme 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.

• Nearly 2.64 lakh free gas connections were provided through the state funded Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojana & 36 lakh were benefited through PMUY scheme

Madhya Pradesh launches unified vehicle registration card

• Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in the country to launch the unified vehicle registration card.

• MP is only the second state to launch a unified driving license, after Uttar Pradesh.

• These unified smart cards for driving license and vehicle registration will each have a QR code that will help in verifying authenticity of the data printed on the cards.

Union HRD Minister launches Leadership Development Programme for Higher Education Administrators

• Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal aka Nishank, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, launched ‘Higher Education Leadership Development Progranne For Administrator’– a joint initiative of UGC and British Council under the auspices of UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) today in New Delhi.

• The programme has been launched to enhance the leadership qualities as well as systemic changes with renewed approaches, capacity, tools and skill in the middle and senior level administrative functionaries in Indian Universities.

International

3,000 kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India: BIMSTEC

• Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is working on connecting about 3,000-kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India.

• This was announced by the Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Dr Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury while inaugurating the energy conference of BIMSTEC in Dhaka .

Banking and Economy

FM Nirmala Sitharaman launches Ease 3.0 for tech-enabled banking.

• “Enhanced Access and Service Excellence (EASE) 3.0” has been launched by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with the EASE 2.0 Annual Report at Indian Banks’ Association function.

• This has been launched for smart, tech-enabled banking for aspiring India. Some key facilities like Palm Banking for “End-to-end digital delivery of financial service”, “Banking on Go” via EASE banking

• EASE 3.0 is expected to provide advanced solutions to make the public sector banking smart and technology-enabled.

Science and Technology

GISAT-1 to be launched on March 5

• Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch the launch GISAT-1 satellite on March 5, 2020 aboard GSLV-F10 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

• GISAT-1 is a Geo Imaging Satellite which will enable real-time observation of Indian sub-continent under cloud-free conditions.

Obituary

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak passes away

• Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who was forced to resign during Arab Spring died on February 25, 2020 in Cairo at the age of 91.

• Mubarak was found guilty of being involved in the murder of protesters during the revolution.

• He ruled Egypt as the President for almost three decades before his removal.

Famous NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson passes away

• Famous NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) mathematician Katherine Johnson passed away at the age of 101.

• Johnson’s calculations helped put the first man on the Moon in 1969, but she was little known until the Oscar-nominated 2016 movie that told the stories of three black women who worked at NASA.

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Important Current Affairs 25th February 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Elections for 55 Rajya Sabha seats Will be on March 26, Schedule released:

• The Election Commission of India (ECI) announcing the schedule of polling for 55 Rajya Sabha seats spread over 17 States set to be vacated in April will be conducted on March 26. According to the schedule for the elections, the notification would be issued on March 6, the last date of filing of nominations would be March 13 and polling would be on March 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The votes would be counted at 5 p.m. on the same day.

National Cyber Research Centre : inaugurated by Union Minister:

• Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy inaugurated National Cyber Research, Innovation and Capacity Building Centre at Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) campus located at Ramanthapur in Hyderabad.

• Reddy pointed out the need for such a centre with the proliferation of Information Technology in our lives. The Government has anticipated cyber threat and has taken several landmark steps in the recent past. A dedicated division was created in October 2017 under the Ministry of Home Affairs, for addressing the cyber security threat in the country.

• The Minister stated that CDTI is one of the seven verticals under Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and highlights the growing relevance of continuous research and innovation in the fight against cyber crime.

• The Minister also stated that the MHA is also working on setting up Regional Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (R4C) in the States. It is in collaboration with I4C to further strengthen the cyber combat capabilities of the nation. CDTI Hyderabad will prove to be a central hub for entire South India. he added.

First Anniversary of National War Memorial:

• On 25th February 2020, India observed the first anniversary of the iconic National War Memorial. Get full details here.

• As a part of the main ceremony, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat will honour the fallen soldiers today along with veterans from all three wings of armed services.

• CDS Gen Bipin Rawat will lay wreaths and pay homage to the fallen soldiers. Since its inauguration last year, around 21 lakh people have visited the memorial with over 5,000-7,000 people foot-fall at the monument every day.

 ‘UPI Chalega’: NPCI launches campaign for payment mode to gain currency:

• The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is keen to further popularise its flagship Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which has clocked over 100 crore transactions per month.

• While UPI has already shown robust growth, Rai stated, the objective is to reach out to the next set of users, across geographies, and encourage them to switch from cash. With this in mind, NPCI, along with payment service providers, has co-created an industry campaign ‘UPI Chalega’, to promote it as an easy, safe and instant mode of payment.

• The campaign is aimed to guide users towards the right use of UPI and help create a habitual change, to use UPI in their daily lives. The campaign also focusses on the safety aspects while transacting on UPI-enabled apps.

• The number of UPI transactions touched 130.5 crore last month, and the total amount transacted was at an all-time high of ₹16-lakh crore. As many as 144 banks are on the platform.

• The findings of a pre-campaign study conducted among 12,800 people in four zones, across 36 centres, showed a 60 per cent awareness of UPI, Rai stated.

• She added that early adopters of UPI have come from across geographies — metros and smaller cities — and now the idea is to push it to the next set of users.

• Launched in 2016 as a means to boost digital payments, UPI allows users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts, without revealing bank account details to the other party.

About NPCI:

• The National Payments Corporation of India is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.

• Headquarters: Mumbai

• Founded: 2008

• Non-Exe Chairman : Biswamohan Mahapatra

• MD & CEO :Dilip Asbe

BANKING, FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

 NABARD sanctions Rs 400 Cr to boost rural infra in J&K:

• The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) recently sanctioned over Rs 400.64 crore for infrastructural development of rural areas of Jammu & Kashmir.

• The funding will be provided under Trench XXV of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) of NABARD.

• The project includes the construction of roads and bridges which would provide all-weather connectivity to over 450 remote villages of the Union Territory of J&K.

• An amount of 66 crore rupees has been sanctioned for implementation of 38 water supply schemes. The sanction includes augmentation of 27 existing water supply schemes and construction of 11 new water supply schemes.

• These water supply schemes are aimed at providing safe and potable drinking water to rural households. The schemes will benefit over 3.5 lakh people across 86 villages in 17 districts.

About NABARD:

• National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is an Apex Development Financial Institution in India. The Bank has been entrusted with “matters concerning Policy Planning and Operations in the field of credit for Agriculture and other Economic activities in Rural areas in India.

• Headquarters: Mumbai

• Agency executive: Harsh Kumar Bhanwala (Chairperson)

• Formation: July 12, 1982

ACQUISITIONS, MERGERS, BUSINESS AND MOU’S

India and US have expanded defence cooperation with defence deals worth USD 3 billion:

• India and the United States finalised defence deals worth $3 billion on February 25, 2020. The deals were signed after delegation-level talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting US President Donald Trump. The deals are expected to enhance the joint defence capabilities between the two countries.

• The US President made the announcement in a joint statement with PM Modi on Day 2 of his maiden visit to India. Donald Trump said that India has agreed to purchase USD 3 billion worth advanced American military equipment including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters, which are the finest in the world.

• Trump also stated that the US makes the greatest weapons ever made including planes, ships, missiles, rockets, air defence systems, armed and unarmed aerial vehicles and that the nation is now looking forward to providing India with some of its best and most feared military equipment.

Two key defence deals

India and the US finalised two key defence deals on February 25. The deals are as follows:

o Procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India for $2.6 billion.

o Procurement of six AH-64E Apache helicopters at a cost of $800 million.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Adline Castelino wins Miss Diva Universe 2020:

• Adline Castelino has been crowned as the winner of LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020 competition. She was crowned by Vartika Singh, the winner of the previous edition at an event held in YRF (Yash Raj Films) Studios, Mumbai, Maharashtra. She hails from Mangalore, Karnataka. She will go on to represent the country at Miss Universe later this year.

• Aavriti Choudhary of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh crowned as LIVA Miss Diva Supranational 2020 and was crowned by his predecessor Shefali Sood. She will be India’s contender for Miss Supranational pageant 2020.

Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2020:

Complete List of Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2020 Winners:

S. No.

Award

Award Winner

1

Best Film

Super 30

2

Best Actor

Hrithik Roshan (Super 30)

3

Most Promising Actor

Kiccha Sudeep

4

Best Actor in Television Series

Dheeraj Dhoopar

5

Best Actress in Television

Divyanka Tripathi

6

Most Favourite Television Actor

Harshad Chopda

7

Most Favourite Jodi in Television Series

Sriti Jha and Shabbir Ahluwalia

(Kumkum Bhagya)

8

Best Television Series

Kumkum Bhagya

9

Best Playback Singer Male

Armaan Malik

10

Best Reality Show

Bigg Boss 13

SPORTS

Commonwealth 2022 : India will host Shooting and Archery Championships:

• India will host the Commonwealth Shooting and Archery Championships in January 2022. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced this decision after the Executive Board meeting in London.  The two events will be held in Chandigarh in January 2022, while the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is scheduled from 27th of July to 7th of August, 2022.

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

ICC bans Omani player Yousuf Abdulrahim Al Balushi for 7 years:

• The International Cricket Council (ICC) banned Oman player Yousuf Abdulrahim Al Balushi from all forms of cricket for 7 years. The player has been reprimanded for breaching the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code as he was found guilty for breaching various counts in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup qualifiers 2019.

• Al Balushi breached Article 2.1.1 of the Anti-Corruption Code: being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive in any way the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of matches. Besides, he also breached Article 2.1.4, Article 2.4.4 and Article 2.4.7: All relating to corrupt practices.

Important

a. Chairman of ICC: Shashank Manohar;

b. Chief Executive: Manu Sahney;

c. Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

OBITUARY

Former Lok Sabha MP Krishna Bose passed away:

• She was the wife of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew Sisir Kumar Bose. She joined politics in the mid-1990s. She was close to Trinamool Congress chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

• Krishna Bose was elected from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat in 1998 and 1999 on TMC ticket. She was elected from the same seat on a Congress ticket in 1996. During her time in the Lok Sabha, she was the Chairperson of the Committee on External Affairs and served as a member in several other important committees. She was the chairperson of the Netaji Research Bureau.

Katherine Johnson, legendary NASA mathematician, dies at 101:

• Katherine Johnson's calculations helped NASA to take humans into space. She was also portrayed in a Hollywood film 'Hidden Figures.'

• Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician, who passed away on February 24, 2020. She was 101. Katherine was famous NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) mathematician who led the American space agency to a new height.

• Her calculations related to space travel played an important role in transporting humans to space. Katherine was one of the first women scientists of NASA who helped humans to reach space. It is believed that the Americans were able to overtake the Soviet Union in the space race because of her contributions.

• Katherine Johnson was a part of NASA's computer pool. This pool was a group of mathematicians. NASA carried out its first successful space mission with the help of data created by this group. Katherine was one of the black women who worked for NASA. She started her career as a teacher.

• Born in 1918 at West Virginia, Katherine was curious to learn math from an early age. According to Katherine’s biography published by NASA, she was one of three black students selected to integrate West Virginia's undergraduate colleges. She did the mapping of the moon before the 1969’s landing and helped to bring Apollo-13 astronauts back to the Earth.

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Important Current Affairs 24th February 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

US to become India’s top trading partner, surpasses China:

• The United States has surpassed China to become India’s top trading partner. According to the Commerce Ministry data, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at nearly 88 billion dollars in 2018-19 fiscal. During the period, India’s trade with China was at 1 billion dollars.

• Similarly, during April-December 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the US and India stood at 68 billion dollars against a nearly 65 billion dollars trade with China in the same period.

NATIONAL NEWS

ASKDISHA : AI based chatbot launched by Indian Railway:

• Indian Railways had introduced the services of Artificial Intelligence based ASKDISHA chatbot in October 2018 for the benefit of the users of the ticketing website www.irctc.co.in and tourism website www.irctctourism.com of its PSU, Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC).

• The ASKDISHA Chatbot was initially launched in English language but in order to further enhance the customer services rendered and to further strengthen the services of the chatbot, IRCTC has now powered voice enabled ASKDISHA to converse with customers in Hindi language also in the e-ticketing site www.irctc.co.in. The customers can now ask queries to ASKDISHA in Hindi language by voice as well as text.

• The first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers. Since its initial launch, more than 150 million passengers have been benefited by ASKDISHA with 10 billion interactions for seeking help on reservation of tickets, cancellation, enquiry of refund status, fare, PNR search, train running status, enquiry about retiring rooms and tourism products.

• IRCTC plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.

‘Thal Sena Bhawan’: New Army Headquarters foundation Laid by Rajnath Singh:

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of a new army headquarters building in Delhi Cantonment recently. This complex will be named as ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’. It will be constructed over 39 acres of land. 

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that this army building will represent the Indian soldiers. He also said that these soldiers wanted India to become capable and empowered. Now their sacrifice has made India a powerful country and this building is dedicated to them. He also said that the building was needed for many years.

• This army building, to be built in 7.5 lakh square meters that will have 6014 offices that will include 1684 offices for military and civilian officers and 4330 offices for sub-staff. The new Army headquarters will also provide employment opportunities to the youth of India. It will be constructed as per the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) norms.

‘Happiness Class’ to be attended by Melania Trump:

• US First Lady Melania Trump along with the US President Donald Trump, on their maiden visit to India, will attend a ‘Happiness Class’ at a Government School based in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal led AAP Government’s flagship scheme of ‘Happiness Curriculum’ has won commendations from different corners of the globe.

• What is Happiness Curriculum?

Happiness Curriculum was launched in 2018 as a scheme to reinvent school education sector in Delhi Government Schools. With school education in India primarily focused on competitive testing model, which lays prime emphasis on scoring marks in order to succeed; AAP Government felt the need to provide a more fulfilling education and learning experience. In line with this, Happiness Curriculum was launched which aims at promoting development of cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and the arts. This in turn aids the mental growth well-being and happiness of students.

‘Krishi Maha-Kumbh’ : Chhattisgarh organises agricultural festival to cater to future farming practices:

• A three-day mega agricultural festival organised in Raipur called ‘Krishi Maha-Kumbh’ was inaugurated by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. Also known as the National Agriculture Festival, this mela boasted of going beyond the traditional dominant practices of farmers by encouraging the agrarian community to experiment with non-conventional farm activities, adopt modern technologies and secure quality organic produce.

Goa carnival : World famous carnival to begin in Panaji:

•  The world-famous Goa Carnival will begin in the capital Panaji. The festival, which displays Goan art and culture, is celebrated with fun, frolic, pomp and splendor.

• The mood in Panaji city is quite festive and all the preparations are done for the float parade that is going to take place. The floats carry different messages and themes and there is also a band of music and troupes of artists on each float vehicle.

About Goa:

  • Governor: Satya Pal Malik
  • Chief minister: Pramod Sawant
  • Capital: Panaji (Executive Branch)

4 railway stations in Uttar Pradesh get new names:

• A move aimed at reviving the identity of the ancient city, Allahabad Junction will now be Prayagraj Junction, Allahabad City will now be known as Prayagraj Rambag, Allahabad Chhioki has been changed to Prayagraj Chheoki and the name of Prayagghat has been changed to Prayagraj Sangam.

• The names of the stations were changed by the central and the state government.

About Uttar Pradesh (UP)

  • Capital- Lucknow
  • Chief Minister (CM)- Yogi Adityanath
  • Governor- Anandiben Patel

Mobile app for employees  launched by Indian Railways:

• Indian Railways, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav launched the HRMS (Human Resource Management System) mobile app, in which the employees can see the data related to their service and communicate with the administration for any changes.

• The app has been developed by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS).

• The mobile app allows employees to view their historical data since their date of joining, including details related to increments, promotions, awards, transfers, postings, leave, training and retirement benefits.

• Scanned copies of their physical service record are also available in the app, which is an important milestone in computerisation of HR related functionalities in Indian Railways.

About Ministry of Railways:

  • Formed– 16 April 1853
  • Headquarters– New Delhi
  • Union Minister– Piyush Goyal

BANKING, FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

ACQUISITIONS, MERGERS, BUSINESS AND MOU’S

Central government approves merger of Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers: Sources:

• The Department of Telecom (DoT) on approved the merger of the country’s largest mobile tower company Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel,

• The combination of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers will create a pan-India tower company with over 163,000 towers, operating across all 22 telecom service areas.

• The combined entity will be the largest tower company in the world outside China. Bharti Infratel and Vodafone hold 42 per cent stake each in Indus.

• Vodafone Idea holds 11.15 per cent stake in the mobile tower firm.

• As per the plans, the combined company, which would fully own the respective businesses of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, would change its name to Indus Towers Ltd and will continue to be listed on Indian stock exchanges.

Microsoft collaborated with SBI Foundation to upskill youth with disabilities for BFSI jobs:

• Microsoft has collaborated with SBI Foundation to create opportunities in the banking and financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector, for youth with disabilities.

• Under the initiative, the two organisations will upskill 500 youth for BFSI jobs across Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR. The programme will be driven in collaboration with various government agencies, industry skilling bodies and non-profits. As a part of this effort, both the companies will develop an AI-powered marketplace that will enable the BFSI industry to better connect with people having disabilities (to upskill them).

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Dr. Niti Kumar receives SERB Women Excellence Award-2020:

• Dr. Niti Kumar, Senior Scientist of Molecular Parasitology and Immunology Division, CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow, has received the SERB Women's Excellence Award-2020. She will be awarded by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind during the National Science Day celebration at Vigyan Bhawan on February 28, 2020.

• The award is given to women scientists under the age of 40, who have received honors from various national academies. Women researchers will be assisted by Science and Engineering Research Board of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, with a grant of Rs 5 lakh per year for 3 years.

• Dr. Niti Kumar’s research group is trying to understand the protein quality control machinery in malaria parasites to explore alternative drugs for malaria. Dr. Niti Kumar has received several awards and honors like Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (DBT-IYBA 2015), INSA Medal for Young Scientist (2010) by Indian National Academy of Sciences and Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellowship by European Union under 6th Framework Programme (2005-2006).

• What is SERB?

Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) is a constitutional body works under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Government of India. It was established in 2009 through an Act of the Parliament of India.

SPORTS

Shooters now permitted by Home Ministry to keep upto 12 firearms for shooting practice:

• The Union Home Ministry has amended Arms Act, 1959 and the Arms Rules, 2016 to increase the number of firearms and ammunition kept by the Indian shooters for their practice during the year. As per the Home Ministry, shooting is an important Olympic sport in India and Indian shooters have excelled in international competitions.

• Key Amendments in Arms Act, 1959

  • According to the new rules, international medalists and renowned shooters are now allowed to have additional weapons up to a total of twelve under the exempted category. Earlier they were allowed to keep only seven weapons.
  • In case a shooter is renowned in one event, he will be allowed to keep a maximum of eight weapons. If he is renowned in two events then he can keep maximum ten weapons. Earlier, the permit was four and seven respectively.
  • If a shooter is known in more than two events, then he will now be allowed to keep a maximum of twelve firearms unlike earlier seven.
  • For junior target shooters or aspiring shooters, the Home Ministry has decided to amend the rules to allow them to possess two firearms of any category, as against earlier one.
  • The shooters will now also be entitled to possess two firearms as normal citizens under provisions of the Arms Act, 1959.

• Key Amendments in Arms Rules, 2016

  • The Home Ministry has amended the provision under Rule 40 of the Arms Rules, 2016, as per which, the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased by the shooters for practice during a year has been increased considerably.
  • Under the amended provisions, the quantity of ammunition that shooters can purchase for .22 LR rifle/pistol has been increased to 5000 instead of 1000, for Pistol/Revolver the quantity has been increased to 2000 instead of 600 and for shotgun calibers, the quantity has been increased to 5000 instead 500.
  • The Ministry has also made other necessary amendments in the Arms Rules, 2016 by amending the Arms Act, 1959, under the Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • The amendments clarify that no license will be required for Indian citizens for acquisitions and possession of small arms falling under the category of curio.
  • However, the shooters will be required to carry appropriate licenses, as prescribed to use, carry or transport such small arms. No ammunition can be sold for use without the endorsement of such firearms in the prescribed license of the owner.
  • Further, the maximum number of firearms to be possessed by any person has been reduced to two from earlier three.
  • Those who have three firearms have been given the facility to retain any two of them and deposit the remaining firearm by December 13, 2020.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad resigns:

• Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad Resigns: Mahathir Mohamad – the Prime Minister of Malaysia, submitted his resignation to the country’s king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah on February 24, 2020, as per media reports.

• Mahathir’s PPBM has also pulled out of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition, throwing the country into renewed political turmoil. The resignation of 94-year-old veteran politician and two-time Prime Minister comes following an on-going rift with his presumptive successor Anwar Ibrahim. Following his resignation as the PM, Mahathir also resigned as the chairman of PPBM.

• Resignation of Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad comes in the wake of long going battle in the ruling coalition which comprises many stakeholders. The key parties in the Pakatan Harapan coalition include Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia i.e. PPBM or United Indigenous Party of Malaysia; Anwar Ibrahim‘s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) which commands ethnic Chinese as its vote bank.

USIBC appoints Vijay Advani as new Chairman of Global Board:

• The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has appointed Vijay Advani as new Chair of its Global Board of Directors. Prior to this, he served as Executive Chairman of the Board in January 2020. The council also announced two new members of the Global Board of Directors Lockheed Martin International Senior Vice President Tim Cahill and GE South Asia President & CEO Mahesh Palashikar. US India Business Council (USIBC) represents top global companies operating across the United States, India, and Indo-Pacific.

• Important:

  • Headquarters of US-India Business Council: Washington, D.C., United States.
  • US-India Business Council founded: 1975.

IMPORTANT DAYS

24 February – Central Excise Day:

• Central Excise Day is observed in India on 24 February every year to encourage the employees of the excise department to carry out the central excise duty in a better way to prevent corruption in the manufacturing business and to carry out the best possible exercise services in India.

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Important Current Affairs 23rd February 2020

National

Namaste Trump to be held at Motera Stadium on 24 February

• The mega event Namaste Trump is to be held at cricket stadium Sardar Patel Stadium, also known as Motera Stadium,  in Ahmedabad on 24 February 2020.

• The Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti (Citizen Felicitation Committee for Donald Trump) will organize the high-profile public event which will feature cultural performances.

Vice President inaugurated 2nd Edition of Exhibition and Conference on Agri-technology and Innovation

• Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the 2nd Edition of Exhibition and Conference on Agri-technology & Innovation at Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University in Hyderabad on 22 February 2020.

• It emphasized the need for post-harvest management and providing support to the farmers.The conference highlighted e-NAM should be expanded to all regions in every state.

Haryana government to open Atal Kisan-Majdoor canteens to provide meals

Haryana state government is to open Atal Kisan-Majdoor canteens in all mandis and sugar mills across the state. The announcement was made by Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya at the Budget Session of State Assembly which commenced in Chandigarh.

 The aim of the move is to provide affordable and cheap meals to farmers and labourers at a concessional rate of Rs.10 per plate.25 Atal Kisan-Majdoor canteens will be established in 2020 in the state.

Banking and Economy

NCAER pegs GDP growth at 4.9% for current fiscal

• Delhi-based think tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has pegged the economic growth of India for 2019-20 at 4.9 percent.

• For 2020-21, the Indian economy is expected to improve to 5.6 percent.

Obituary

Former MP Krishna Bose passed away in Kolkata

• Academic-turned-politician, Krishna Bose, passed away in West Bengal due to cardiac arrest. She was 89 years old.

• She served as a Member of Parliament elected from the Jadavpur constituency in West Bengal as an All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate.

Creator of LEGO Minifigure, Jens Nygaard Knudsen Passed Away

• Jens Nygaard Knudsen, the chief designer of the iconic Lego minifigure with interchangeable legs and torsos has passed away. He was 78-year old.

• Nygaard Knudsen was also responsible for developing some of Lego’s classic themes, such as Lego Space and Lego Pirates.

• The LEGO Group is a Danish toy production company located in Billund, Denmark.

Sports

India finishes with 20-medals in in Asian Wrestling Championships

• The 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships was held at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium, Indira Gandhi Arena, New Delhi from February 18 to February 23.

• China was not allowed to participate in the competition due to coronavirus outbreak.

• India won total 20 medals including 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 9 Bronze to be placed at third spot in the medal table.

• Japan stood first with 16 medals (8-4-4) while Iran was second with 17 medals (7-3-7).

• The Championship was held in three categories:

1. Men’s freestyle

2. Men’s Greco-Roman

3. Women’s freestyle

Appointments and Resignations

Rajalaxmi Deo re-elected as Rowing Federation of India President

• Mrs Rajlaxmi Singh Deo has been re-elected as the president of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) on 22nd February 2020.

• Rowing Federation of India headquarter – Mumbai

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Important Current Affairs 22nd February 2020

National

Department of Telecommunications launches '5G Hackathon'

• The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched the ‘5G Hackathon’ in association with the government of India, academia and industry stakeholders.

• The aim of 5G Hackathon is shortlisting India’s focused cutting edge ideas that can be converted into workable 5G products and solutions.

• The 5G technology provides quantum leap over 4G in terms of speed, peak data rate, latency, spectrum efficiency, and connection density. The Hackathon will convert innovating ideas into products and solutions in different verticals and develop India specific use cases around 5G.

• The 5G Hackathon is open to developers, students, start-ups, SMEs, academic institutions and registered companies in India and Non-resident Indians (NRIs). All Stakeholders can participate as individuals or as a team to present use cases for the 5G network in the Indian context.

Swachh Bharat Mission II phase to cost Rs 52,000 crore, gets cabinet nod

• The Centre has approved the second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural), which will be implemented on a mission mode between 2020-21 and 2024-25.

• An estimated budget of Rs 52,497 crore has been allocated for the project, to be shared between the centre and the state.

• The Phase II will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and solid and liquid waste management (SLWM).

• Fund sharing pattern between the Centre and States will be respectively as given below:

o 90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States and UT of J&K

o 60:40 for other States

o 100:0 for other Union Territories

Union Cabinet Approves Constitution of 22nd Law Commission of India

• The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the 22nd Law Commission of India for a period of three years, from its date of official constitution.

• Role and Responsibility of the Law Commission:Undertake research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations.

Banking and Economy

RBI Approves Appointment of Sunil Gurbaxani as MD and CEO of Dhanlaxmi Bank

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has approved the appointment of Sunil Gurbaxani as Managing Director and CEO of Dhanlaxmi Bank.

• Sunil Gurbaxani will be appointed for a period of three years from the date of taking charge. Currently Gurbaxani is working with Axis Bank.

Summits and Mou’s

HDFC Bank, Mastercard & SAP concur associate for T&E Tech

• HDFC Bank, Mastercard and SAP Concur have joined hands for spending management services for the corporate sector.

• HDFC Bank will offer a corporate credit card for business travellers, providing a one-stop solution for payment and expense management during business trips.

• The card is supported by Mastercard. SAP Concur is a travel, expense, and invoice management solutions provider.

• The corporate credit card will enable the seamless integration of all business-related to spend into SAP Concur offerings, enhancing the employee experience, increasing visibility, saving money, and improving corporate efficiency.

Awards

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw wins EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2019

• Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon, has been named as the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 on 19 February 2020, at the 21st edition of the EY Entrepreneur of The Year India awards.

• Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award.

• She will now represent India at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award (WEOY) in Monte Carlo from 4–6 June 2020.

Sports

Ross Taylor becomes first player to play 100 matches in all three formats

• Veteran New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor today became the first player in the world to play 100 matches in all three formats of cricket.

• The landmark achievement came as he took the field against India in the opening Test at Basin Reserve in Wellington. The ongoing match is also his 100th Test.

Appointments and Resignations

Former IAS officers Bhaskar Khulbe, Amarjeet Sinha appointed advisors to PM

• Retired IAS officers Bhaskar Khulbe and Amarjeet Sinha have been appointed as Advisors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointments in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the rank and scale of Secretary

Ranking

India ranks 35th in 2019 WEFFI list

• The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019. India jumped five ranks and secured 35th rank in the list.

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019:

♦ WEFFI ranked countries that are based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.

♦ It analyzed the education system from the perspective of skill-based education in areas like problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, leadership, creativity and entrepreneurship, and digital and technical skills.

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Important Current Affairs 21st February 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan will remain on the FATF Grey list till June 2020

• The decision was taken by the anti-money laundering watchdog after the conclusion of the February 16-21 group meetings and plenary in Paris. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October decided to keep Pakistan on its Grey List for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and others.

What is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)?

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. The FATF is, therefore, a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

• The headquarters of FATF is in Paris, France.

• FATF was founded in July 1989

NATIONAL NEWS

Centre releases Rs 19,950 cr as GST compensation to states, UTs

The Central Government has released 19,950 crore rupees as GST compensation to states. The amount was released to states. With this release of GST compensation, the Central Government has released a total of over 1.20 lakh crore rupees towards GST compensation to the states during current fiscal.

 Fourth Anniversary of Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission to be observed on 21st feb

• On 21st February 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Mission with the vision to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.

• The Mission aims at transforming these Rurban clusters by stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters. This will lead to the holistic development of the region and encourage integrated and inclusive rural development.

• Under the mission, 300 Rurban clusters are envisaged to be developed in a time-bound manner.

IMPORTANT:

• Development: Narendra Singh Tomar Union Minister of Rural.

3. Manipur: India’s tallest pier bridge build by Northeast Frontier Railway.

• The Northeast Frontier Railway Construction Organisation has built India’s tallest railway pier bridge 100 m tall equivalent to a 33-storey building, across Makru river in the Tamenglong district of Manipur. The Rs 283.5-crore bridge with a span of 555 m is part of the 111-km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge line. It has 47 tunnels, the longest being 10.28 km.

• A bridge pier is a type of structure that extends to the ground below or into the water. It is used to support bridge superstructure and transfer the loads to the foundation. The bridge piers can be constructed to be substantially attractive and strong in order to withstand both vertical and horizontal loads.

IMPORTANT:

• Capital of Manipur: Imphal; Governor of Manipur: Najma Heptulla.

• Chief Minister of Manipur: N. Biren Singh.

Lithium reserve found near Bengaluru

• The Researchers of India’s Atomic Energy Commission have found lithium reserves of 14,100 tonnes in Mandya, Bengaluru, Karnataka. Lithium is a rare metal used for manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles.

• India currently imports all its lithium needs and lithium batteries worth $1.2 billion for the year 2019 from $384 million in 2017.

• These reserves will be useful to promote clean-energy vehicles in India and the Government has a plan to implement $1.4 billion to make India a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles.

• India has set up Khanij Bidesh India Limited to source and acquire mines in Argentina (Buenos Aires), Bolivia (Sucre) and Chile (Santiago).

About Karnataka

• Capital- Bengaluru

• Chief Minister -Yediyurappa

• Governor- Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala

Banking and Economy

India needs to invest USD 109 billion to halve its road accident fatalities in next decade: World Bank

India needs to invest an estimated extra USD 109 billion in road safety over the next decade to halve its crash fatalities, the World Bank stated in a report released on a day when at least 35 people were killed in four separate accidents in the country.

The bank stated such an investment will bring economic benefits equivalent annually to 7 per cent of the GDP.

The report titled “Delivering Road Safety in India” was released at the ‘Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety‘ in

RANKING

IISc ranks 16th among top 100 universities of emerging economies

• The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has ranked 16th among the top 100 universities of emerging economies.

• Indian universities had a good performance year within the emerging economies of the world as a record 11 made it to the top 100 Times Higher Education’s (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020.

SPORTS

3TH IPL 2020

BCCI has announced the schedule for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League 2020. The tournament is set to commence on March 29 with a game between the four-time and defending champions Mumbai and Chennai at the Wankhede Stadium. The final is set to be played on May 24 as the cash-rich league will span for a duration of 57 days this year.

Teams for IPL 2020

• Chennai Super Kings

• Delhi Capitals

• Kings XI Punjab

• Kolkata Knight Riders

• Mumbai Indians

• Rajasthan Royals

• Royal Challengers Bangalore

• Sunrisers Hyderabad

IMPORTANT:

• BCCI President: Sourav Ganguly;

• Headquarter of BCCI: Mumbai.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Sanjay Kothari : appointed as new Central Vigilance Commissioner

• Sanjay Kothari has been selected as the new Central Vigilance Commissioner by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is presently served as the Secretary to the President.

• The Central Vigilance Commission is an-corruption watchdog with autonomous status.

• The panel also decided by majority the appointment of Suresh Patel as Vigilance Commissioner and Anita Pandove as Information Commissioner.

IMPORTANT:

• Central Vigilance Commission formed: February 1964.

• Central Vigilance Commission Headquarters: New Delhi.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

GRSE delivers the 4th Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette, INS Kavaratti

• Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., (GRSE), a leading Warship builder and Miniratna Category 1 Company under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence delivered Yard 3020 INS Kavaratti, to the Indian Navy.

• The ship is the 104th Warship built and delivered by GRSE since its inception in 1960 and is the Last in the Series of 04 Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes (ASWC) under the Project 28.

• The first three ships of the series, INS Kamorta, INS Kadmatt & INS Kiltan were delivered earlier and now form an integral part of Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy. The P 28 Class of ships strengthens the Indian Defence System and is the shining Armor in the “Make in India” programme.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

‘Bharat 2020’, ‘India 2020’ Reference annuals released.

• Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar released the Reference Annual Bharat 2020 & India 2020 in New Delhi. E-version of the yearbooks were also released on this occasion.

• The books carry exhaustive and comprehensive information about the country and the activities, progress and achievements of various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organisations during the year. Publications Division of the Information and Broadcasting ministry compiles the Reference Annual every year.

OBITUARY

Former FICCI president V L Dutt passes away.

Former Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) president V L Dutt passed away. He headed FICCI in 1991-92. He was the chairman of the India Vietnam Joint Business Council of FICCI. He graduated from the Business Institute of Management, London. He served as the chairman of The KCP Group of companies.

Computer scientist, Larry Tesler passes away

• Larry Tesler, the computer scientist who introduced the cut, copy and paste commands passed away. The scientist was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1945, and worked in the genesis stage of computers in the 1960s, aiming to make them more accessible and intuitive.

• In 1973, Tesler joined Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and this is where he developed to cut, copy and paste. These concepts were instrumental in the development of text editors and early computer operating systems.

• Tesler worked for blue-chip firms including Apple, Amazon and Yahoo. He appropriately began his Silicon Valley career at photocopying company Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (Parc) before being recruited by Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs.

DAYS

21 February - International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is celebrated annually on 21 February worldwide to aware of the diversity of the language and its variety. This day promotes the awareness of language and cultural diversity across the world. On 17 November, 1999, it was first announced by UNESCO.

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Important Current Affairs 20th February 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

 “Bezos Earth Fund” : to combat climate change launched by Jeff Bezos:

• Through this fund, Jeff Bezos has committed to contribute $10 billion to help preserve and protect the natural world against the climate change.

• The Bezos Earth Fund will fund the scientists, activists, NGOs to save Earth to tackle the issue of climate change.

• Key points:

CEO of Amazon: Jeff Bezos.

Amazon was established on 5th July 1994.

 Headquarters: Washington, USA.

Nepal’s  70th National Democracy Day:

• Nepal celebrates the National Democracy Day every year on Falgun 7 to commemorate the attainment of democracy after the abolition of the 104-year long autocratic Rana Regime.

• In 2007 Bikram Sambat, on this day, democracy was established in the Himalayan nation ending over a century old autocratic Rana regime.

• Prime minister of Nepal: KP Sharma Oli.

• President of Nepal: Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

• Capital of Nepal: Kathmandu; Currency of Nepal: Nepalese rupee.

NATIONAL NEWS

Delhi's IGI Airport becomes single-use plastic free airport:

• The Delhi International Airport Ltd has declared “Indira Gandhi International Airport” of Delhi as India’s first single-use plastic-free airport.

• The CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development has certified Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) as single-use plastic-free airport.

Kala Kumbh exhibition,  New Delhi : Organized by Ministry of Textiles:

• The Ministry of Textiles organized “Kala Kumbh” exhibition in New Delhi. It is an exhibition to promote Geographical Indication (GI) craft and heritage of India.

• The exhibitions are planned in various major cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. The exhibitions are sponsored by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).

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

• Union Minister of Textiles: Smriti Zubin Irani.

Cabinet approves formation of non-statutory body for a term of three years:

• The government constitutes a 22nd law commission as per the requirement.

• It was originally formed in 1955.The commission is reorganized for three years.

• The term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31, 2018.The Law Commission is a non-statutory body.

• Responsibilities of 22nd Law Commission

• It will identify laws that are no longer needed or are irrelevant and can be repealed immediately.

• The 22nd Law Commission will examine the existing laws and suggest ways for reforms. It will also suggest the necessary laws to implement the Directive Principles mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution.

• It will take all necessary measures to use law and legal processes in the service of poor people.

• The law commission will revise the laws of general importance to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities, and inequities.

Central Consumer Protection Authority to be set up by Govt by first week of April:

• Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has stated the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be set up by the first week of April this year.

• The CCPA to be set up under Consumer Protection Act 2019, will address issues related to consumer rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements and impose penalties for selling spurious and adulterated products.

Phase two of Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen approved:

• Union Cabinet has approved the 2nd Phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen till 2024-25.

• The program will work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet.

• The 2nd phase of the mission will be implemented in a mission mode with a total estimated budgeted financial implication of 52 thousand 497 crore rupees.

• The 2nd phase of the mission will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).

 Symposium on Emerging Opportunities for Indian Textiles and Crafts:

• Symposium on Emerging Opportunities for Indian Textiles and Crafts was held in New Delhi.

• The symposium was chaired by Union Minister of Textiles and Women and Child Development Smriti Zubin Irani.

• Senior officers of the Ministries of Commerce & Industry and Textiles, representatives of Export Promotion Council (EPCs), buying offices and buying agents participated in the symposium.

• They participated in the symposium to discuss the business opportunities emerging in view of the present scenario of ‘CORONA VIRUS” in China.

• The symposium was organized by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts under the aegis of Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

BS-VI Fuel: India To Switch To World’s Cleanest Petrol, Diesel From April 1:

• India will switch to the world’s cleanest petrol and diesel from April 1 as it leapfrogs straight to Euro-VI emission compliant fuels from Euro-IV grades now.

• This has been achieved in just three years and not seen in any of the large economies around the globe.

• India will join the select league of nations using petrol and diesel containing just 10 parts per million of sulphur as it looks to cut vehicular emissions that are said to be one of the reasons for the choking pollution in major cities.

• State-owned oil refineries spent about 35,000 crore rupees to upgrade plants that could produce ultra-low sulphurBS-VI has a sulphur content of just 10 ppm and emission standards are as good as CNG..

BANKING, ECONOMICS AND MOU’S

SEZs continue to take lead in expanding exports:

• The Special Economic Zones, SEZ continue to take the lead in expanding the exports for the country.

• Ev

en in the midst of a volatile global economy, SEZs in India have shown resilience and have achieved 100 billion dollar worth of exports so far.

• Sectors that saw healthy growth in this financial year include gems and jewelry, trading and Logistics, leather and footwear, non-conventional energy, textiles and garments.

• Petrochemicals constitute a major segment of SEZ exports, however, growth was muted in this segment this year which may be attributed to the softening of global crude prices.

• There are 241 SEZs operational in the country.

MSME loan: Gujarat govt partners with SBI to facilitate MSME:

• The Gujarat government signed an MoU with State Bank of India (SBI) to facilitate approval of loans to entrepreneurs in the MSME sector with ease and within a short time-frame.

• As per the MoU, the top public sector lender will provide working capital to entrepreneurs seeking to start new micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) within a short time -frame after providing theoretical approval within 15 days of making an application.

• The MoU was signed between principal secretary M K Das and SBI Ahmedabad circle general manager Ramesh Kumar Agarwal.

• The SBI decided to help MSME entrepreneurs in Gujarat looking at their high recovery rate.

• About State Bank of India(SBI):

• Chairperson– Rajnish Kumar.

• Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra.

• Former name– Imperial Bank of India.

• Tagline– The Banker to Every Indian; With you all the way; Purely Banking Nothing Else; The Nation Banks on Us.

Sports

India will host AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022:

• India has been selected to host the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

• This was announced by the Women’s Committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)  in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 19 February 2020.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Nritya Gopal Das elected as the president of Ram Mandir Trust:

• Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was elected as the president of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust. 

• Champat Rai would be the general secretary of the trust.

• The first meeting of the Ram Mandir Trust to oversee the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya was held in New Delhi.

• The meeting also decided that Nripendra Mishra, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will head a committee to make decisions regarding the actual construction of the temple.

Ranking

India Ranks 77th on Sustainability Index and 131st in Child Flourishing Index rankings: UN report:

• India has been ranked at 77th position in the Sustainability Index 2020 and 131st on the Flourishing Index 2020, according to a UN-backed report.

• The report released on 19 February 2020 commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet medical journal.

• The Sustainability Index 2020 takes into account per capita carbon emissions and ability of children in a nation to live healthy lives. It ranks countries on excess carbon emissions compared with the 2030 target.

Days

World Day of Social Justice observed:

• The World Social Justice Day is celebrated on February 20 every year. It aims to face the problem of poverty, unemployment, and abandonment. This year’s theme is - Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice.

• This day highlights that gender equality, social security and the rights of migrants are essential for social justice.

• United Nation believes that social justice can be ensured only when people do not face problems due to gender, age, race, religion or culture.

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Important Current Affairs 19th February 2020

National News

Indian pharma & biotech industry expected to grow to 100 billion dollars by 2025:

  • Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal has stated that the Indian pharma and biotech industry is expected to grow to 100 billion dollars by 2025 from the current size of about 40 billion dollars.
  • He predicted an annual growth rate of 10 per cent despite the global slow down and the recent Corona virus outbreak.

Govt to achieve 50% Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 2030, says HRD Minister:

  • Union Government has set an ambitious target to achieve 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 2030 to equip its working population with employable skills.
  • Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank stated this at the 33rd Convocation Ceremony of Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU in New Delhi.

Govt to facilitate doubling of milk processing capacity by 2025:

  • Union Government will facilitate doubling of milk processing capacity from over 53 million tonne to 108 million tonne by
  • Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying stated, the government is continuously working towards increasing milk productivity through genetic improvement and reduction of input cost.
  • In India, milk production is growing by 4 per cent during the last five years and has increased from over 146 million tonne in 2014-15 to over 187 million Tonne in 2018-19.

UP becomes first state to enforce Performance Regulation Act for power department:

  • Uttar Pradesh has enforced Performance Regulation Act 2019 for the power department. It is to provide timely and hassle-free service to the consumers.
  • The consumers would now get financial compensation for delay in solving their complaints by the department. Around 2 crore 87 lakh people are likely to be benefitted from the new law.

State of India’s Birds 2020 Report released:

  • The recently released “State of India’s Birds 2020” Report categorises 101 species of birds for High Conservation Concern. The report assessed over 850 birds and revealed that almost all the bird species are on a decline.
  • The report was released during the 13th COP Convention on the ‘Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals’ that was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat announces plan to create Peninsula Command:

  • Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat stated there are plans to create a Peninsula Command with Navy’s Eastern and Western Command under it.
  • General Rawat stated India is looking at setting up two to five theatre commands. Air Defence command will be rolled out by beginning of next year and peninsula command will be rolled out soon.

Banking and Economy

SEBI decides to permit the use of regulatory sandbox:

  • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to permit the use of regulatory sandbox, a system that will allow live testing of new products, services and business models by market players on select customers. The decision was taken at SEBI’s board meeting held in
  • The proposed ‘regulatory sandbox’ is intended to serve as a testing ground for new business models and technologies that benefit investors, Indian markets and the economy at large.

IOC to invest Rs 500 crore for Karnataka unit:

  • Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Karnataka government under which the firm will invest `500 crore to set up petroleum products receiving, storage and distribution terminal at Chitradurga in Karnataka.
  • It will be set up in an area of 120 acres in the district.The MoU was signed during ‘Invest Karnataka’, conference at Hubballi.

Summits and Mou’s

Odisha MSME Dept inked MoU with HDFC Bank to boost startups

  • The Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Department of government of Odisha has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) Bank Limited.
  • Objective :to provide smart banking solutions to Startups recognised by the Startup Odisha and will also extend incubation and acceleration support to all Startups, banking with them.

HDFC:

  • Establishment– 1994
  • Digital Assistant– Eva
  • Managing Director– Aditya Puri
  • Head Office– Mumbai, Maharashtra

Appointments and Resignations

Australia appoints Barry O’Farrell as the new high commissioner to India:

  • Australia has appointed former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell as the next high commissioner to India.
  • O’Farrell will succeed Harinder Sidhu who has been in the office since 2016.

Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani secures 2nd term as President:

  • In Afghanistan, independent Election Commission announced that Ashraf Ghani has won a second term as President of the country. However, his closest opponent Abdullah Abdullah has refused to recognize the results and declared himself winner potentially endangering peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Ranking

Hindi is third most spoken language in the world:
• According to the 22nd edition of the world language database Ethnologue, Hindi is the third most spoken language in the world with 615 million speakers. The Ethnologue stated that English has the most number of speakers (1132 million) while Chinese Mandarin secured second place with 1117 million speakers.
• The report highlights that Bangla is the seventh most spoken language of the world as it has 228 million speakers in the world. Ethnologue provides an annual database of living languages of the world.
• It covers 7111 living languages across the globe. Apart from that, it also collects data on languages that have gone out of use in the recent past.

Days

Soil Health Card Day being observed on 19th Feb:

  • The Soil Health Card Day is being observed on 19th of February. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme on 19th February 2015 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan.
  • The scheme aims at issuing soil health cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in soil. The scheme ensures additional income to farmers by increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.

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Important Current Affairs 18th February 2020

National News

Centre renames IDSA as ‘Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses:

• Union Government has decided to rename the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, IDSA as Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

• The decision has been taken to honour the commitment and legacy of late Manohar Parrikar.

• It will align the vision and aspiration of the premier defence institute with the contribution of the former Defence Minister and Padma Bhushan awardee.

Mobile App ”Yodhavu” Launched in Kerala to Combat Drug Menace:

• Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched “Yodhav” (Warrior) mobile app (application) at Kochi, Kerala.

• Through this app, the public can inform police about drug abuse and its distribution.

• The application was introduced by the Kochi city police and the informer’s identity could be kept secret.

Permanent Commission to Women Officers In Army:

• The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are now eligible to get permanent commission in the Indian Army.

• The ruling came on a plea filed by the Central Government against the decision of Delhi High Court 10 years ago.

Jammu and Kashmir soon to be covered by CAT:

• The Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh will soon be covered by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).

• The announcement was made by Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). The CAT will handle all the cases and issues related to the J&K and Ladakh.

Banking and Economy

NESFB began its service and operation:

• North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB) which is the first small bank of North India has started its services on 16 February.

• On 31 March 2017, Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RVGN) (North East) Microfinance Limited received the Small Finance Bank License from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB):

• Assam’s finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and TATA Trust chairman Ratan Tata launched the first 28 branches of NESFB.

• Tata has invested Rs.40 crore through his investment arm RNT Associates in the bank. North East Small Finance Bank Ltd has a net worth of Rs.300 crore.

• The bank is supported by the infusion of funds from domestic and overseas investors.

• The bank will carry out banking services in remote and unbanked areas of India’s eight

India becomes 5th largest economy: World Population Review report:

• As per a report by a US-based think tank World Population Review, India’s economy is the fifth-largest in the world with a GDP of $2.94 trillion, overtaking the UK and France in 2019 to take the fifth spot.

• The size of the UK economy is $2.83 trillion and that of France is $2.71 trillion.

Summits and Mou’s

India, World Bank sign $ 450 mn loan agreement to support Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) to improve groundwater management:

• The World Bank has signed a USD 450 million loan agreement with India on February 17, 2020 to support the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) – National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme.

• The Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts.

Awards

Sachin Tendulkar wins the Laureus Sporting Moment Award for ICC World Cup 2011 victory lap:

• 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards has been announced. The winners of the award are:

• Laureus World Sportsman Of The Year 2020: Lewis Hamilton (F1 racer) and Lionel Messi (Football)

• Laureus World Sportswoman Of The Year: Simone Biles (Gymnastics- US)

• Laureus Sporting Moment Of The Year- Sachin Tendulkar (Cricketer- India)

• Laureus World Team Of The Year: South Africa Rugby Union Team

• Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award 2020: Dirk Nowitzki (Basketball- Germany)

Science and Technology

ISRO Plans to Launch 10 Earth Observation (EO) Satellites in 2020-21:

• As per the annual data released by the Department of Space, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has planned to launch an unprecedented 10 earth observation (EO) satellites with space surveillance feature during 2020-21.

• Apart from this, three communication satellites and two navigation satellites are also scheduled to be launched in the next fiscal.The annual plan includes total 36 missions, comprising of both satellites and their launchers.

Obituary

Bengali actor and former MP Tapas Pal passes away:

• Former Politician and Bengali actor, Tapas Pal has passed away at the age of 61 years.

• He was former Trinamool Congress MP. He started his acting career with the film ‘Dadar Kirti’ in 1980. He was awarded the Filmfare Award for his role in a movie ‘Saheb’ (1981).

• He made his Bollywood debut in ‘Abodh’ in 1984.

Sports

“UNITED BY EMOTION” Chosen as Motto of Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games:

• ‘United by Emotion’ is the official motto for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games.

• The Motto encapsulates the Games vision, capturing the essence of the ideas and concepts that the host city wishes to share with the world.

• About 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries will participate in Tokyo Olympics which will run from July 24 to August 9.

Appointments and Resignations

Vinay Dube Takes Charge as CEO of GoAir:

• The Board of Directors of GoAir has appointed Vinay Dube as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

• Mr. Dube was the former CEO of Jet Airways.

• He joined GoAir in an advisory role in October 2019.

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Important Current Affairs 17th February 2020

National

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat announces to create Peninsula Command

• Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat said on February 17, 2020, that the Navy is planning to form the Peninsula Command on the Eastern and Western Command.

• General Bipin Rawat was talking to the media. He said that India wants to establish two to five theater commands in the country. He clarified that IAF’s Air Defence Command will be released by the beginning of 2021 while peninsula command will be established soon.

• General Bipin Rawat said that a study has been ordered to start the Air Defence Command under the chairmanship of the Vice Chief of Air Force. It will be helpful in situations like aerial attacks.

Indian Railways zone becomes 1st in India to have energy-neutral stations

• Indian Railways takes a huge leap towards environmental sustainability. The Indian Railways South Central Railways (SCR) zone has become the first zonal railway in the country to have functional “energy neutral” railway stations on the network.

• The anticipated energy generation from these energy neutral stations is coming to be around 3 lakh units annually. The SCR zone expects that solar power generated at these stations will lead to savings of Rs 13 lakh per year.

• The total capacity of all the solar panels installed at the 13 energy neutral stations is 99 kWp

All India Conference of Central Administrative Tribunal 2020 held in New Delhi

• The annual All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was held in New Delhi.

• The one day conference was attended by Judicial and Administrative Members from all 17 Benches of CAT from across the country, members of the CAT Bar Association and eminent Jurists, who deliberated on key issues related to the functioning of the Tribunal and priorities for 2020.

• The Conference was presided over by Union Minister for Law and Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Maharashtra starts first intercity electric bus service

• The first intercity electric bus service between Mumbai and Pune was started on February 14, 2020. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated this electric bus service.

• This bus has a seating capacity of 43 people. This bus can cover a distance of 300 km on a single charge.

• The Government of India will also start this type of bus service in other parts of Maharashtra. This bus will be run under the public-private partnership model.

International

India, Norway to strengthen bilateral cooperation to contain marine pollution

• Union Minister for Environment Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar stated, the year 2020 will be a Super Year for Environment.

• He stated, India has initiated Ocean dialogue with Norway to address the problem of Marine Plastic litter. Both countries decided to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the field of environment and climate change particularly in the field of marine pollution.

• Both countries discussed ways to ensure that the coming decade will be of rapid global action on the Environment. India and Norway have formed joint working groups on Blue economy with sustainable development.

Banking and Economy

DMart’s Radhakishan Damani is second richest man in India: Forbes

• Riding on the ongoing stock rally of Avenue Supermarts, founder Radhakishan Damani has become the second most richest in India, behind Reliance Industries’s Mukesh Ambani ($57.4 billion).

• According to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires Index, the total net worth of Damani is at $17.8 billion.

Moody’s lowers GDP growth rate for 2020 to 5.4 per cent

• Coronavirus dents optimism just as global economy was starting to show signs of stabilisation

• Amidst indications of the deadly coronavirus hitting global growth, international rating agency Moody’s Investors Service lowered the estimate for India’s economic growth rate for 2020 by 120 basis points (100 basis points make up one percentage point).

Sports

Koneru Humpy wins Cairns Cup chess tournament

• Grandmaster Koneru Humpy recorded another win in the Cairns Chess tournament. Humpy and Grand Master Drona Valli Harika drew in the ninth and final round in St. Louis, USA.

• Humpy scored six points and won the title. World champion Zu Wezun finished second with five and a half points Drona Valli Harika secured fifth place with four and a half points.

• She will get five ELO rating points that will take her to the second position in the world rankings. She became World Rapid Champion in December 2019.

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