Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 25th February 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 25th February 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

 

Contents:

  1. Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Steel:
  2. A Future for the World’s Children
  3. Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme
  4. SPICe+ Web Form.
  5. MicroRNAs:
  6. Draft New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Rules
  7. Amendments in Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 notified.
  8. Artemis programme.
  9. International Conference on ‘Ensemble Methods in Modelling and Data Assimilation (EMMDA)’:
  10. LPG prices
  11. (CMS COP13).
  12. The committee submits report on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
  13. Other important current awards:

 

1. Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Steel:

The meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Steel was held on 24th February 2020.

  • These committees are constituted by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
  • These are normally constituted after the new Lok Sabha is constituted.
  • This implies that these committees stand dissolved upon dissolution of every Lok Sabha and thus, are reconstituted upon the constitution of each Lok Sabha.
  • The guidelines regarding the composition, functions, and procedures of these committees are formulated by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
  • These consist of members of both the Houses of Parliament.
  • However, the membership of these committees is voluntary and is left to the choice of the members and the leaders of their parties.
  • The maximum membership of a committee is 30 and the minimum is 10.

 

2.A Future for the World’s Children:

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

  • Health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practise that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol, and tobacco at them.
  • The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger, and Mali face the worst odds.
  • In the report assessing the capacity of 180 countries, India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at the 131st position on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.
  • Globally, the number of children and adolescents who are obese has increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase.

 

3.Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme:

A high-level meeting to review the progress of Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme was held recently.

  • Launched in order to empower the Higher Educational Institutions and to help them become world-class teaching and research institutions.
  • Objectives:
    • Excellence and Innovation: To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations in such branches of knowledge as may be deemed fit at post-graduate, graduate and research degree levels.
    • Specialization: To engage in areas of specialization to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the university education system.
    • Global Rating: To aim to be rated internationally for its teaching and research as a top hundred Institution in the world over time.
    • Quality teaching and Research: To provide for high-quality teaching and research and for the advancement of knowledge and its dissemination.
  • Institutes with IOE tag will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and governance structures.
  • The public institutions under the IOE tag will receive a government grant of ₹1,000 crores, while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.

 

4.SPICe+ Web Form:

Recently, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has launched the Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically Plus (SPICe+) web form.

  • The SPICe+ form will replace the existing SPICe form.
  • SPICe was launched in 2016 and is a single form for multiple services for incorporation of a company.
  • SPICe+ would offer 10 services by 3 central government ministries & departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Ministry of Finance) and one State Government (Maharashtra).
  • SPICe+ has two parts:
    • Part A for name reservation for new companies and
    • Part B offering a bunch of services including incorporation, Director Identification Number (DIN) allotment, mandatory issue of Permanent Account Number (PAN), besides allotment of Goods and Service Tax Identification Number – GSTIN (if applied for).
  • The new web form will help save many procedures, time and cost for starting a business in India.
  • India has improved its ranking to the 63rd spot on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) survey, 2019 out of 190 countries.
  • However, the report had cited India was lagging behind in certain parameters such as starting a business.
  • The latest step in an effort towards achieving the government’s target of reaching the 50th spot.

 

5.MicroRNAs:

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

  • MicroRNAs are small molecules, about 21 nucleotides long, and help in controlling the levels of proteins in the cell.
  • In order to decrease the level of a particular protein in specific cells, the microRNAs destroy the messenger RNA molecules that help with the production of that specific protein in the cell.
  • The microRNA molecules do this by cutting down that particular messenger RNA thereby destroying it. This process is called the silencing of the messenger RNA.
  • Similarly, the best way to study the effect of a gene in the DNA is to silence or “knockout” the gene. In knocking out processes, the RNA that induce the gene to produce proteins are destroyed or their levels are reduced by the microRNA.

 

6.Draft New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Rules:

Draft New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Rules have been issued for public consultation with the timeline of submission of comments by 14th March 2020.

New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC), Act 2019

  • The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC), Act 2019 was enacted to establish and make NDIAC a hub for institutional arbitration and to declare it as an institution of national importance.
  • NDIAC will be headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
  • Besides, it will also have two Full-time or Part-time Members from amongst eminent persons having experience in institutional arbitration, both domestic and international.
  • In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on a rotational basis as a Part-time Member.
  • The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice; Financial Adviser nominated by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC will be ex-officio Members.
  • Section 23 of the Act provides for the Secretariat to the Centre inter-alia comprising Registrar, Counsel and other officers & employees etc.

 

7. Amendments in Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 notified.

key changes:

  • As per the new rules, now International medallists/renowned shooters are allowed to keep additional weapons up to a total of twelve under the exempted category, which earlier was seven.
  • If a shooter is renowned in one event, he/she can keep maximum eight (previously it was four), if a shooter is renowned in two events he/she can keep maximum ten (previously it was seven) and if a shooter is renowned in more than two events, he/she can keep maximum twelve (previously it was seven) firearms under the exempted category.
  • Junior target shooters/aspiring shooters are now allowed to possess two weapons (previously one) of any category in which the person is engaged.
  • Apart from the above exemptions, shooters are entitled to possess two firearms as normal citizens under provisions of the Arms Act, 1959.
  • Similarly, by amending the provision under Rule 40 of the Arms Rules, 2016 the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased by the shooters during the year for the practice has also been increased considerably.
  • Through these amendments, it has also been clarified that no licence is required for Indian citizens for acquisitions, possession of small arms falling under the category of curio.
  • However, appropriate licence as prescribed would be required for use or to carry or transport such small arms.
  • Without the endorsement of such firearms in the prescribed licence of the owner, no ammunition shall be sold for their use.

 

8.Artemis programme:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it will begin to accept applications for astronauts under its Artemis programme from March 2 to March 31, 2020.

  • The space agency has listed several requirements in order to qualify for training under the Artemis programme:
    • one must be a US citizen and have a master’s degree in a STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field from an accredited institution.
    • Candidates must also have completed at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft or have two years of related experience.
    • Another mandatory requirement is to pass NASA’s long-duration spaceflight physical test.

What is Artemis?

  • Artemis– Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.
  • It is NASA’s next mission to the Moon.
  • Objective: To measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it.
  • Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.

 

9.International Conference on ‘Ensemble Methods in Modelling and Data Assimilation (EMMDA)’:

An international conference on “Ensemble Methods in Modelling and Data Assimilation (EMMDA)” is being organised by the National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) from 24th -26th February 2020 in Noida.

  • The Conference provides a platform for discussions and deliberations on the present status, future prospects and optimum use of Ensemble Prediction System (EPS).
  • Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS) is a Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) systems that allow one to estimate the uncertainty in a weather forecast as well as the most likely outcome.
  • India has recently operationally implemented two global EPS which have the highest resolution in the world and also a regional EPS of horizontal resolution 4km which covers the Indian region.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) provides weather and climate services to various users round the year and on a 24/7 basis.
  • Both operational and research aspects for these services are implemented through its constituent units like Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), NCMRWF, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM),
    Pune and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad.

 

10. LPG prices:

LPG prices which are revised on a monthly basis went up again. In February 2020 the rate for unsubsidised, 14.2 kg cylinders has risen by a steep ₹144.50 in Delhi, at ₹858.50 .

  • In January 2020, a non-subsidised LPG cylinder cost ₹714 in Delhi.
  • The recent price hike has been the sharpest since January 2014.
  • Domestic prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are based on a formula the import parity price (IPP), which is based on international LPG prices.
  • Saudi Aramco’s LPG price acts as the benchmark for the IPP and includes the free-on-board price, ocean freight, customs duties, port dues and the like.
  • This dollar-denominated figure is converted into rupees before local costs — such as local freight, bottling charges, marketing costs and the GST are added. This helps the government arrive at the retail selling price for LPG.
  • The government resets the LPG price every month, the decision being influenced by international prices and how the rupee has behaved against the dollar in the immediately preceding weeks.

Subsidy by the government:

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

 

11. The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) concluded in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

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

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

  • Ten new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13.
  • Seven species were added to Appendix I: Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross and the Oceanic White-tip Shark.
  • Three species were added to Appendix II: Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and the Tope Shark.
  • New and extended Concerted Actions with targeted conservation plans were agreed for 14 species.
  • CMS COP13 also adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration, which calls for the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the new Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October.
  • The first-ever report on the Status of Migratory Species, presented to CMS COP13, shows that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining.
  • Three CMS Ambassadors – for terrestrial, avian, and aquatic species – were named at the relaunch of the CMS Ambassadors Programme: Ian Redmond OBE (for terrestrial), Sacha Dench (for avian), and Indian actor Randeep Hooda (for aquatic).
  • Seven new Migratory Species Champions including the Government of India were named at a special high-level event organized on the sidelines of the conference.
  • India, as COP13 host, will assume the role of COP Presidency for the next three years.

Announcements by Prime Minister Modi:

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

 

12. The committee submits report on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord:

The high-level committee submitted its report to the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the implementation of Clause 6 of Assam Accord.

  • The committee was headed by Retd Justice B K Sharma. The report is to be submitted by the CM to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

What is Clause 6 of the Assam Accord?

  • The Clause provides constitutional, administrative and legislative safeguards to preserve and promote the cultural, linguistic and heritage of Assamese people.
  • Several actions have been taken under Clause 6 to provide administrative, constitutional and legislative safeguards to the Assamese people. They include
    • The Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra Society was formed with funds from the Ministry of HRD
    • Jyoti Chitraban film Studio scheme was launched and in phase II, the studio was modernized.
    • The Archaeological Survey of India took up preservation of 5 monuments namely Singri Temple ruins, Poa-Mecca, Urvashi Archaeological site, Kedar Temple and Hayagriva Madhava Temple.

Assam Accord was an agreement signed between the government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in 1985. Under the agreement, the GoI agreed to accept all the migrants that entered before 1966 and GoI agreed to provide social, political, cultural and economic rights to the Assamese people.

 

Other important current awards:

1. Yongle Blue Hole (YBH): Carbon more than 8,000 years old lies deep inside a yawning sinkhole in the South China Sea.

  • It is the deepest known marine cavern.
  • Located in the Xisha Islands of the South China Sea (SCS).
  • It measures roughly 300 metres from top to bottom.
  • Its waters are mostly isolated from the surrounding ocean and receive little fresh water from rainfall, making it a rare spot to study the chemistry of oxygen-deprived marine ecosystems.

2. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is about to install a wooden barricade around the stone chariot inside Vittala Temple complex at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hampi to protect it from damage.

  • The Vittala Temple is among the most-visited and the most photographed protected monuments at Hampi.
  • Hampi is the 14th century capital of the Vijayanagar Empire, located in the Tungabhadra basin in Bellary District, Central Karnataka.
  • Vittal Temple Complex is the finest example of Vijaynagar Temple Architecture.
  • A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (A.D. 1509-30) and Vittal Temple Complex is one of them.
  • Temples of Hampi are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings and stately pillars which include subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
  • Majority of these temples in Hampi were provided with widespread bazaars flanked on either side by storied Mandapas.
  • The Mahanavami Dibba, a variety of ponds and tanks, and the row of pillared Mandapas are some of the important architectural remains of Hampi.
  • In 1986, Hampi was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

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

  • Named the East-West Industrial Corridor, the highway aims to connect Bhairabhunda in West Kameng district and Myanmar in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.
  • According to environmentalists, the project makes no mention of compensation for people likely to be displaced. This corridor will also be a threat to the adjoining Nameri Tiger Reserve in Assam.
  • Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve.
  • It is located in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Neighbouring areas and rivers: Towards the south and south-east, the sanctuary adjoins Nameri National Park of Assam. To the east lies the Pakke River and to the west, the park is bounded by the Bhareli or Kameng River.
  • Biodiversity: It falls within the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot.

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

  • Following the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, the state government launched its own Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojana in May 2018 to cover the remaining households.
  • Except families having a pensioner, income taxpayer or any member employed with the government, board, corporation etc, all households of the state without an LPG connection were eligible

5. The Forest Department of the Odisha State Government conducted a census at Chilika lake to count the number of dolphins at Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Odisha. The Sanctuary is a part of Bhitarkanika National Park of Odisha. The report was released on February 24, 2020.

  • According to the report, the dolphin count came down to 233 in 2020 from 259 in 2019.
  • At the census, 60 Irrawaddy Dolphins and only two bottlenose dolphins were spotted.
  • In 2019, the officials had spotted 14 Irrawaddy Dolphins and 14 bottlenose dolphins.
  • The Dolphin Census at the Garimatha Marine Sanctuary was held for the first time in 2015.
  • It was cancelled in 2016 and 2017 due to bad weather.

6. On February 25, 2020, the first lady of the United States Melania Trump attended Happiness Classes at the Delhi Government Schools. She accompanied President Trump in their visit to India.

  • The Happiness Classes are one of the flagship programmes of the Delhi Government.
  • The programme launched in 2018 had received commendations from different parts of the world.
  • It focuses on arts-based, cognition, numeracy and literacy-based teachings.
  • It is completely different from the traditional marks-oriented teachings.
  • The Happiness Curriculum aims to develop citizens who are awakened, aware, mindful, empathetic and above all firmly rooted to their identity.
  • The programme also aims to mould children to cater to the needs of today’s society.

7.President Trump visit to India: 2 MoUs and 1 Letter of Cooperation signed:

  • In the Defence Sector, 3 billion USD worth deal was signed to buy helicopters.
  • The Memorandum of Understandings were signed in the field of oil and health.
  • In the field of health, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration signed agreements over the safety of medical products.
  • An MoU was also signed between the mental health departments of the countries.
  • The countries also signed a letter of cooperation in the field of Oil.

8. Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal presented the Vishwakarma awards for the year 2019. Around 23 groups were awarded Chatra Vishwakarma Awards and 6 institutes were awarded Utkrisht Santhan Vishwakarma Award.

  • Theme: How to Enhance the income of a village
  • Around 2,372 teams submitted their solutions.
  • There were three stages of evaluation and 117 teams were selected.
  • The teams will exhibit their prototypes at the National Convention and Exhibition.

9. The first anniversary of National War Memorial was commemorated. The CDS Bipin Rawat paid tribute to the memorial and so did several other leaders of the country.

  • The Memorial was inaugurated by PM Modi on February 25, 2019.
  • The memorial was dedicated by the Prime Minister to honour the fallen heroes of wars.
  • Today, more than 5,000 people visit the monument every day.
  • The monument was built in 40 acres of land at India Gate, New Delhi. The monument honours more than 26,000 soldiers.
  • The Monument holds “Veerta Chakra” that depicts 6 important battles of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.
  • It also holds 14 lakh litre water storage tank for rainwater harvesting.

10. Adline Castelino has been crowned as the winner of LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020 competition at an event held in Yash Raj Films Studios, Mumbai, Maharashtra.

  • She hails from Mangalore and will be representing the country at Miss Universe later this year.
  • Aavriti Choudhary (Jabalpur) crowned as LIVA Miss Diva Supranational 2020 and Neha Jaiswal was selected as the Runner-up for LIVA Miss Diva 2020.

11. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has launched a scheme named ‘Jagananna Vasthi Deevena’ for students pursuing various Post-Intermediate courses to meet hostel and mess expenses.

  • The scheme is launched in Vizianagaram district in north coastal Andhra.
  • The scheme would provide financial assistance of Rs 2,300 crore for 1,87,904 students pursuing ITI, polytechnic, under-graduate and post-graduate education.

12. Mahathir Mohamad (94-year) has announced his resignation from Malaysia’s Prime Minister designation.

  • He was the oldest serving Prime Minister in the world.
  • He will work as an interim PM of Malaysia.
  • Mahathir’s decision follows a weekend of political wrangling after it was reported on Sunday night that his party was planning to form a new government that would exclude his successor, Anwar Ibrahim.

13. India will host the Commonwealth Shooting and Archery Championships in January 2022.

  • The medals from the two events will be counted for ranking of competing nations at the Birmingham Games 2020 which is scheduled to be held from 27th of July to 7th of August,2022
  • The two events will be held in Chandigarh.
  • The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced this decision after the three-day Executive Board meeting in London.

14. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu released the book titled ‘Death- An Inside Story: A book for all those who shall’ authored by Jaggi Vasudev (known as Sadhguru), Founder of Isha Foundation.

  • The book was released on Mahashivaratri at the Isha Yoga Center, Tamil Nadu.

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