Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 24th February 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 24th February 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Contents:

  1. Exoplanet (G 9-40b),:.
  2. G20 Meeting in Saudi Arabia.
  3. ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ at Delhi Cantt.
  4. School Heath Ambassadors.:
  5. International Judicial Conference of 2020.
  6. Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR):
  7. Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae:
  8. Bay of Bengal Offshore Sailing Expedition.
  9. Biodiversity management committees (BMC):
  10. NITI Aayog Report.
  11. US President Donald Trump arrives on a visit to India.
  12. Other important current affairs

 

1. Exoplanet (G 9-40b):

The newly discovered exoplanet (G 9-40b), by NASA’s Kepler mission, is the first one to be validated by Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF).

  • Habitable-Zone Planet Finder (HPF) is an astronomical spectrograph, built by Penn State University scientists, and recently installed on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas.
  • The instrument is designed to detect and characterize planets in the habitable zone of the region around the star where a planet could sustain liquid water on its surface around nearby low-mass stars.
  • A spectrograph is an instrument that splits light into its component wavelengths.
  • Scientists then measure the properties of light over a specific portion of the spectrum and draw conclusions on what is responsible for the trends they observe.

 

2.G20 Meeting in Saudi Arabia:

Recently, the ministers and central bankers from the world’s largest economies participated in the G20 meeting held in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

  • It was presided by Saudi Arabia.
  • Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency.
  • The 2020 G20 Presidency will focus discussions, forums, working groups and Ministerial Meetings under the theme of “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.

Key Points

Global Economy:

  • The global economic growth remains slow and downside risks due to the geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty.
  • Though the economic growth is expected to increase in 2020 and 2021 due to loose monetary policy and an easing of trade tensions.

IMF’ Views at the Meeting:

  • It projects a “V-shaped, rapid recovery” for the global economy, but it warns about the uncertainty around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID 19).
  • The IMF also warned about other risks including rising debt levels in some countries as well as climate change.

Demand for Global Taxation System:

  • It discussed ways to achieve consensus on a global taxation system for the digital era by the end of 2020.
  • It aims to allow governments to tax digital companies where they do business, rather than where they are registered for tax purposes.
  • India has also demanded closer collaboration between international revenue agencies to investigate the tax affairs of offenders who cross borders for escaping tax investigation.

About G20

  • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
  • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
  • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
  • One nation holds the Chair every year, known as the ‘G20 Presidency’.
  • Argentina chaired the G20 summit of 2018 and Japan for 2019.

 

3. ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ at Delhi Cantt.:

Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone of new Army Headquarters ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ at Delhi Cantt.

  • The building, expected to be constructed in five years, will house offices, residential complex for security personnel with basic amenities.
  • More than 1,700 officers both military & civilian and 1,300 sub staff will be accommodated in the new building.
  • Presently, Army Headquarters is spread over several pockets i.e. South Block, Sena Bhawan, Hutments Area, RK Puram, Shankar Vihar and other places in Delhi.
  • The new building, proposed in an area of 39 acres, has been conceptualized as a multi-story green building, adopting Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) norms.

 

4. School Heath Ambassadors.:

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), along with Union Ministry of Health and Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, has prepared a curriculum for the School Heath Ambassadors.

  • The Curriculum has been released nearly two years after the launch of the School Health Programme which was launched by PM Modi in 2018 under the Ayushman Bharat Programme.
  • Under the scheme, two teachers, preferably one male and one female, will be appointed as Health and Wellness Ambassadors, who will teach students about the promotion of health as well as the prevention of diseases.
  • The program will also have class monitors playing the role of Health and Wellness Messengers who would assist the two ambassadors.
  • These sessions will be activity-based in order to promote joyful learning and will be held for one hour every week over 24 weeks in a year.
  • For the training purposes, the NCERT has constituted a 40-member National Resource Group (NRG).
  • All the NRG members are well trained and experienced in Adolescent Health and they will further train State Resource Groups comprising of six persons from each selected district at the five Regional Institute of Education (RIE) at Mysore, Shillong, Bhubaneshwar, Ajmer, and Bhopal.
  • Initially, the curriculum will be implemented in the public upper primary, secondary and senior secondary schools of those districts which volunteer. The remaining districts will be covered in the second year.

 

5.International Judicial Conference 2020:

The International Judicial Conference 2020 was held from 21st-23rd February 2020 in New Delhi.

  • The Conference was organized by the Supreme Court of India.
  • The theme of the Conference was ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’.

Highlights from the Conference

  • Sustainable Development:
    • The Indian judiciary was appreciated for its balance between development and environment, and continued guidance in it.
  • Increased Accessibility:
    • The Supreme Court was hailed for the “extraordinary effort” to make its judgments more accessible to the common man by making them available in nine vernacular languages, keeping in mind the nation’s linguistic diversity.
  • Gender Justice:
    • The recent directives for granting equal status to women in the Army, guidelines for preventing sexual harassment at the workplace, etc. were appreciated.
  • Global Reference:
    • The Chief Justice of India said that the Supreme Court’s judgments are cited by courts of other countries and have served as a “beacon of hope” to independent and developing nations.
    • A 2001 verdict of the South African court cited the Indian case of Narain Das Jain v Agra Nagar Mahapalika decided by the Supreme Court in 1991 to benchmark the compensation to be provided while acquiring land.
  • Use of ICT:
    • The need for technology was highlighted to deliver speedy justice.
    • The Government is making an effort to connect every court of the country to the E-court Integrated

Mission Mode Project.

The establishment of the National Judicial Data Grid will make court procedures easier.

 

6.Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR):

The worrisome man-animal conflict in the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) on account of water shortage is no longer an issue. There was no incident of wild animals straying into human habitations for water.

  • The Reserve covers areas in Adilabad, Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial, and Nirmal districts in Telangana.
  • The reserve is the catchment for the rivers Godavari and Kadam, which flow towards the south of it.
  • There is water still flowing in the Kadem canal, which cuts through the KTR core area and the recent release in the Saraswati canal from the Sri Ram Sagar Project also resulted in water being available from Khanapur in Nirmal district to Luxettipet in Mancherial.

 

7. Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae:

A group of scientists have recently discovered a new species of land snail in Brunei.

  • The new species reside in tropical rainforests and are sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures (which have become more frequent due to climate change).
  • Hence as an honor to Swedish Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg, who has been making efforts to raise awareness about climate change, the new snail species was named Craspedotropis Gretathunbergae.
  • Recently, a tiny species of beetle was also named after her as Nelloptodes Greta.
  • In 2018, a new species of beetle (Grouvellinus Leonardodicaprioi) was named after the actor Leonardo DiCaprio (an American actor, producer, and environmentalist).

 

8. Bay of Bengal Offshore Sailing Expedition :

Indian Naval Sailing Vessels Mhadei and Tarini set sail for the Bay of Bengal Offshore Sailing Expedition on 22 February 2020 from the Indian Naval Ocean Sailing Node at Goa.

  • This would be the maiden major mixed crew sailing expedition of the Indian Navy with crew composition of five naval officers including two women officers in each boat, covering a total distance of 6,100 Nautical miles each and will be at sea for 55 days.
  • This expedition would showcase harnessing of renewal energy namely wind energy to propel the boats.
  • The expedition is also in pursuance of the mission of ‘Nari Shakti’ providing opportunity to women officers at par with men.

Mhadei and Tarini inducted in the Indian Navy in 2009 and 2017 respectively have been the vessels of choice for the naval expeditions in various sailing expeditions, including three circumnavigations.

  • Mhadei has successfully completed two circumnavigations.
  • Tarini created history in 2017-18 when six Indian Naval women officers sailed the vessel on maiden circumnavigation voyage titled Navika Sagar Parikrama.

 

9. Biodiversity management committees (BMC):

The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is set to tell the National Green Tribunal that it created 243,499 biodiversity management committees (BMC) and 95,525 people’s biodiversity registers (PBR) as of January 2020.

  • NGT is hearing a case on the full implementation of the Biodiversity Act, 2002.
  • Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC): As per the Biological Diversity Act 2002, BMCs are created for “promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity” by local bodies across the country.
  • It shall consist of a chairperson and not more than six persons nominated by the local body, of whom not less than one third should be women and not less than 18% should belong to the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Chairperson of the Biodiversity Management Committee shall be elected from amongst the members of the committee in a meeting to be chaired by the Chairperson of the local body.
  • The chairperson of the local body shall have the casting votes in case of a tie.
  • The main function of the BMC is to prepare People’s Biodiversity Register in consultation with the local people.
  • The Register shall contain comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other.

 

10.NITI Aayog Report:

The NITI Aayog has released a progress report on the National Nutrition Mission (Poshan Abhiyaan). According to the report, one in three Aadhaar based payments was credited to a wrong bank account, especially in Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.

  • This is the second report prepared by the think tank.
  • The report was prepared and released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • According to the report, 28% of Aadhaar based payments were going to wrong bank accounts.
  • The report also says that 66% of direct benefit transfers were based on Aadhaar.
  • Only 60% of the beneficiaries were aware of the receipt of benefits

 

11.US President Donald Trump arrives on a visit to India:

  • US President Donald Trump arrived at Ahmedabad today on his maiden two-day visit to India.
  • He is also accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and top brass of his administration.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally welcomed him and US first lady Melania Trump at the airport.
  • Both the leaders then proceeded to Motera stadium to participate in the Namaste Trump event.
  • More than lakh people cheered and greeted President Trump during the roadshow.

Moto of visit:

  • The effort to attract Indian-American voters?
    • The visit is being seen by many as a pleasant trip to a country where Mr. Trump is not expected to face tough questions, but win some easy political points for his domestic politics.
    • Those who can vote typically vote Democrat.
    • In 2016, only 16% Indian Americans voted for Mr Trump, according to the National Asian American Survey.
  • Trade Deal
    • A trade agreement with India following months of negotiations was expected to be the centerpiece of the visit – a big political win for Mr. Trump if he could seal the deal.
  • The China Factor
    • President Trump has made being tough on China a central piece of his political brand, and many US concerns on China like the Belt and Road Initiative, access to the South China Sea, and the untrustworthiness of its vendors are shared by India.
  • Defense
    • Media reports suggest key multi-billion dollar defense deals are in the offing on Mr. Trump’s India visit
    • This may include the sale of helicopters for the navy. Before the trip, the US State Department approved a possible sale of an integrated Air Defence Weapon System for $1.8bn.
  • Building on the Trump-Modi chemistry
    • Mr. Trump is seen by many as a ‘transactional” leader who places a premium on personal relationships over geopolitics, and he believes that his ability to get on with foreign leaders earns him the ability to get things done.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. The Indian Council of Medical Research conducted a study on the food habits of the citizens of the country.

  • The study said that vegetarians consume more fat than that of non-vegetarians.
  • Also, among the metropolitan cities of India, Delhi and Ahmedabad topped the list in average consumption of added fat.
  • The survey was conducted by ICMR based on the data provided by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau.
  • According to the study, people whose diet relied on deep-fried food consumed more added fat than those who ate boiled food.
  • The report also said that the highest intake of added fat was in the age group of 36 to 59 years and the least intake was in children under the age of five.

2. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President chaired the second Plenary under the Chinese Presidency of the FATF that met in Paris from 19-21 February 2020

  • ATF placed Iran on its ‘blacklist’ after it failed to comply with international anti-terrorism financing norms, a move that will deepen the country’s isolation from financial markets.
  • Pakistan has been retained on the ‘grey list’ of the FATF for another four months, with a stern warning to complete the 27-point action plan it has been given by June 2020 or face being put on the ‘blacklist’.
  • Pakistan has been lobbying to get off the grey list, citing actions already taken.
  • Pakistan was given a deadline to complete the tasks that included shutting down all access to funding of United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Jaish-e-Mohammed and prosecuting their leadership for any access to finance.

3. The National Economic Council (ECNEC) of Bangladesh, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has approved the proposal to enhance the capacity of the Mongla port.

  • The Port of Mongla is located in the Bagerhat District of Bangladesh.
  • It lies 62 km north of the Bay of Bengal coastline.
  • It is situated at the confluence of the Pasur River and the Mongla River.
  • The Port is surrounded and protected by the Sundarban mangrove forest.
  • Mongla is the second largest seaport in Bangladesh after Chittagong.
  • India and Bangladesh had signed an MoU on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports in 2015.
  • The MoU envisages transit of goods from Mongla port to northeastern states of India through waterways, roads, and railways.
  • India has also extended a line of credit for the expansion of the Mongla Port capacity. The project consists building of two container terminals and related infrastructure facilities at the port. The project is expected to be completed by June 2024.

4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the translated version of the Shri Siddhant Shikhamani Granth in 19 languages and launched a mobile app of the Granth.

  • Siddhantha Shikhamani is a religious scripture of the Panchacharyas tradition of Veerashaivas, also known as Lingayatism.
  • Traditionally, Siddhantha Shikhamani is attributed to Sri Shivayogi Shivacharya, and is said to contain the preachings of Jagaduru Renukacharya, the first Panchacharya.
  • It was written in Sanskrit, and gives an elaboration of “the primitive traits of Veerashaivism found in the Vedas and the Upanishads” and “the concrete features given to it in the latter parts of the Saivagamas.”

5.US President Donald Trump recently announced that the United States of America will sign a peace agreement with the Taliban forces on February 29, 2020.

  • The US and the Taliban forces are to sign a peace agreement to end the war of 18 years in Afghanistan.
  • After the agreement, 12,000 US troops that are currently deployed in Afghanistan are to return to US.US-Taliban
  • The US waged war in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The war was waged to roll back the control of the Taliban.
  • The US conducted two major operations to contain terrorism of the Taliban.
  • They were Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-14) and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015-present).

6. The Mumbai airport has recently launched the world’s largest temperature-controlled facility to store agro and pharma products. The “Export Cold Zone” launched is capable of holding more than 700 tonnes of cargo.

  • The terminal connects 500 cargo destinations spread across 175 countries.
  • The unit is spread over 6,000 square meters.
  • It is spread across 12 truck docks equipped with dock-levelers, automated workstations, spacious acceptance and examination area, X-Ray machines and Ball mat system for Unit Load Device.
  • Mumbai Airport is one of the few airports in the world, first in the country and third in Asia to obtain IATA CEIV PHARMA accreditation.

7. On February 24, 2020, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana completed one year of its implementation.

  • The scheme was launched to increase the income of farmers. It aims to help farmers by providing them income support of Rs 6,000 per year.
  • The scheme was launched by PM Modi on February 24, 2019, at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare.
  • The Scheme initially provided income support to small and marginal farmers that hold land up to 2 hectares. Later, it was extended to all farmers irrespective of the size of their landholdings.
  • Around 14 crore farmers were too covered under the scheme.
  • Till now, the Central Government has released Rs 50,850 crores and has benefited 8.46 crores of families.

8. Chairman of Railway Board launched HRMS Mobile App which has been designed and developed by Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS).

  • All employees of Indian Railways can now see data related to their service (Promotions, Transfers, Leave, etc.) and communicate with the administration for any changes if required.
  • This application will be a single-window communication system between Railway employees and Administration. It brings transparency to the administration.
  • It is an important milestone in the computerization of HR-related functionalities in Indian Railways.
  • This app is available on Google Play Store – HRMS Employee Mobile App for Indian Railways.

9. Larry Tesler, the computer scientist who invented the “cut, copy, paste” command, find & replace, and more died in San Francisco. He was 74.

  • He was a former Xerox researcher, who also went on to work in some of the other big tech companies, including Apple, Yahoo, Amazon.com to name a few.
  • He is credited as the inventor of ‘modeless editing and cut, copy and paste’ while he was part of the research staff at Xerox. He also helped to invent the ability to find & replace text.
  • His other contributions at Xerox included prototyping a page layout system similar to the later Pagemaker and hardware design of the first luggable computer called the Notetaker.
  • Tesler also claimed he coined the word “browser” in 1976, to mean a point-and-click information navigation window, and the word “modeless” around 1970, which means a user interface in which the user is never “stuck” in a mode.
  • In 2009 he was granted the John McCarthy Award for Excellence in Research and Research Environments.

10. Arshiya, a Yakshagana artist from Mangaluru is likely the first woman from the Muslim community in Yakshagana. There are far fewer women Yakshagana artists compared to men, and a Muslim woman exponent is rare.

  • At one time, this traditional art form was forbidden for women.
  • Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.
  • Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of the yaksha (nature spirits).
  • It developed in Udupi, in the state of Karnataka. It is popular in the Karnataka districts of Dakshina Kannada, Kasaragod, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, and Shimoga.
  • This folk art is believed to have originated somewhere between the 10th and 16th centuries.
  • Yakshagana is strongly influenced by the Vaishnava Bhakti movement. Its stories are mainly drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics.
  • A typical Yakshagana performance consists of background music played by a group of musicians (known as the himmela); and a dance and dialog group (known as the mummela), who together enact poetic epics on stage.
  • Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.

11. Maharashtra government has scrapped the Jalyukta Shivar- the flagship water conservation project.

  • Jalyukta Shivar: Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts.
  • Aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
  • Features: The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds, and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
  • Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams was proposed.

12. The nine-year-old war in Syria is currently raging in the northwestern province of Idlib, with rapidly escalating tensions between government forces of President Bashar al-Assad and the Turkish military.

  • Idlib is a city in northwestern Syria, 59 kilometers southwest of Aleppo, which is the capital of the Idlib Governorate.

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

  • This award is given to women scientists below 40 years of age who have received recognition from national academies.
  • The women researchers will be supported by the research grant of 5 lakhs per annum for 3 years by Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India (SERB-DST).

14. Rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as first vice president of South Sudan.

  • He will serve for a period of 36 months in the transition government.
  • President Salva Kiir announced the official ending of the war and said peace is now irreversible as the new unity government was formed after more than a year of delays.

15. The Central Excise Day is commemorated every year across India on 24th February to commemorate the Central Excise and Salt Act (enacted on 24 February 1944) by Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC)

  • CBEC is the nodal national agency responsible for administering Customs, GST, Central Excise, Service Tax & Narcotics in India.

16. Veteran actor Manoj Kumar has been felicitated by the World Book of Records, London with the WBR Golden Era of Bollywood Honour for being a legendary actor and for his contribution to Indian cinema.

  • Manoj Kumar was honored with the Padma Shri by Government of India in 1992 and 47th Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2015

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