Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 31st January 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 31st January 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc.

 

Contents:

  1. India-Togo Relations.
  2. President’s address to both Houses of Parliament:
  3. Ecological flow (e-flow) norms
  4. Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU):
  5. Misery Index
  6. SAMPRITI-IX
  7. Martyr’s Day
  8. UN’s new rules for ships in the Arctic region
  9. World Sustainable Development Summit
  10. Economic Survey 2020
  11. Other important current affairs

1. India-Togo Relations:

Recently, the Togolese Republic (also known as Togo) and India have come together for the development of about 300 MW Solar Power Projects in Dapaong (Dalwak region) and Mango (Savanes region).

  • National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited will be the Project Management Consultant (PMC) for the projects.
  • Togo is the first International Solar Alliance (ISA) country to avail of the services of NTPC.

National Thermal Power Corporation Limited:

  • It is India’s largest energy conglomerate with roots planted way back in 1975 to accelerate power development in India.
  • Its mission is to provide reliable power and related solutions in an economical, efficient and environment-friendly manner, driven by innovation and agility.
  • NTPC became a Maharatna company in May 2010.
  • It is located in New Delhi.
  • It has an installed power capacity of more than 58,000 MW which includes 870 MW of Solar Projects and 1062 MW under development.

NTPC had submitted a proposal to the (ISA) for giving Project Management Consultancy to the member countries for the implementation of Solar Projects.

  • The proposal was put on Swiss challenge on the ISA website and subsequently submitted to the ISA Finance Committee.
  • It was cleared in the 2nd ISA Assembly held in October 2019.

 

2.President’s address to both Houses of Parliament:

On the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of the two Houses.

  • Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”
  • First Constitutional Amendment: Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
  • The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year. It is drafted by the Cabinet and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.

 

3. Ecological flow (e-flow) norms.:

According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), 4 of the 11 hydropower projects on the upper reaches of the river Ganga’s tributaries are violating Ganga ecological flow (e-flow) norms.

The non-compliant ones are:

  • Vishnuprayag Hydroelectric project – Alaknanda
  • Srinagar Hydroelectric project – Alaknanda
  • Maneri Bhali Phase 2 – Bhagirathi
  • Pashulok – Ganga Mainstream

Violating e-flow norms can mean the closure of the project or a hefty fine.
Ecological- Flow Norms

  • The Central Government under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has notified the minimum environmental flows for the River Ganga that has to be maintained at various locations on the river.
  • This is to ensure that the river has at least the minimum required environmental flow of water even after the river flow gets diverted by projects and structures for purposes like irrigation, hydropower, domestic and industrial use, etc.
  • This is an important step taken towards maintaining the uninterrupted or Aviral flow of the river.
    Environmental flows are the acceptable flow regimes that are required to maintain a river in the desired environmental state or predetermined state.
  • The Central Water Commission is the designated authority and will be responsible for the supervision, monitoring, regulation of flows and reporting of the necessary information to the appropriate authority as and when required and also take emergent decisions about the water storage norms in case of any emergency.

Power Companies and E-flow Norms

  • The Centre’s e-flow notification came into effect in October 2018 and gave companies three years to modify their design plans, if required, to ensure that a minimum amount of water flowed during all seasons. Power producers generally hoard water to create reserves to increase power production.
  • In September 2019, the government advanced this deadline, from October 2021 to December 2019.
  • This was after the CWC undertook field visits to hydropower sites and reported that most of the power projects could begin implementing the norms right away and didn’t need three years.

 

4.Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU):

Initially Setup in 1949, it is a governmental body functioning under the Department of Secondary and Higher Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

  • A permanent Commission was established in 1951.
  • The objective of the Commission is to advise the Government in matters relating to the UNESCO.
  • The Constitution of the UNESCO mandates each member to form a national commission to function as agencies of liaison between the national government and UNESCO.
  • The Minister for Human Resource Development is the President of the Commission.
  • The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Higher Education is the Secretary-General of the Commission.

Important functions:

  • To promote understanding of the objects and purposes of UNESCO among the people of the Republic of India.
  • To serve as a liaison agency between the Government of India and the institutions concerned with the working for the advancement of education, science, and culture.

 

5.‘Misery Index’.:

Recently, there has been a demand to measure the Indian economy on the ‘Misery Index’.

  • The first misery index was created by Arthur Okun in the 1960s and was equal to the sum of inflation and unemployment rate figures to provide a snapshot of the US economy.
  • The higher the index, the more is the misery felt by average citizens.
  • It has broadened in recent times to include other economic indicators, such as bank lending rates.
  • In recent times, variations of the original misery index have become popular as a means to gauge the overall health of the global economy.
  • A variation of the original misery index is the Bloomberg misery index, developed by the online publication.

 

6.SAMPRITI-IX:

A joint military training exercise between India and Bangladesh named SAMPRITI-IX will be conducted at UMROI, Meghalaya, India from 03 Feb to 16 Feb 2020.

  • Exercise SAMPRITI is a joint military exercise between India and Bangladesh which is hosted alternately by both countries.
  • During SAMPRITI-IX, the ninth edition of the exercise, a Command Post Exercise (CPX) and a Field Training Exercise (FTX) will be conducted.
  • The troops of both the armies will also practice Counter-Terrorist operation.

 

7.Martyr’s Day:

Prime Minister of India paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 72nd Death Anniversary at Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi.

  • Martyr’s Day is observed on 30th January every year in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and his contributions to the nation.
  • 23rd March is also observed as Martyr’s Day to pay tribute to three revolutionaries of India namely Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar.

Mahatma Gandhi

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar in Gujarat and died on January 30, 1948, at Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi.
  • He was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the Birla House during his evening prayers.
  • He was a lawyer, politician, social activist, writer and became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India.
  • He is considered the Father of the Nation.
  • Gandhi and his ideologies played an important role in liberating India from the British.

 

8.UN’s new rules for ships in the Arctic region:

On January 1, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued new rules aiming to reduce sulfur emissions, due to which ships are opting for newer blends of fuels.

  • But, recently environmental activists called for a ban on the use of new low sulfur marine fuel in the Arctic region, citing research that shows that blends of very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) contribute to highly polluting black carbon emissions in the environment.

New IMO rules:

  • The IMO has banned ships from using fuels with a sulfur content above 0.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent previously.
  • The new limits are monitored and enforced by national authorities of countries that are members of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
  • Under the new policy, only ships fitted with sulfur-cleaning devices, known as scrubbers, are allowed to continue burning high-sulfur fuel.
  • Alternatively, they can opt for cleaner fuels, such as marine gas oil (MGO) and very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).
  • There are complaints against VLSFO as well, as testing companies have claimed that high sediment formation due to the fuel’s use could damage vessel engines.

The new regulations, called IMO 2020, have been regarded as the biggest shake-up for the oil and shipping industries in decades. It affects more than 50,000 merchant ships worldwide.

Concerns:

  • Sulphur oxides (SOx), which are formed after combustion in engines, are known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease, while also leading to acid rain.
  • About International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL):
  • The Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO.
  • It includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.
  • All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.

 

9.World Sustainable Development Summit::

The theme of the 2020 edition of the Summit is ‘Towards 2030 Goals: Making the Decade Count’.

  • It is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  • It is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.
  • It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.
  • It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.
  • It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.

The Energy and Resources Institute – TERI:

  • It is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for the sustainable development of India and the Global South.
  • TERI was established in 1974 as an information center on energy issues. However, over the following decades, it made a mark as a research institute, whose policy and technology solutions transformed people’s lives and the environment.

 

10.Economic Survey 2020:

The Economic Survey of the Fiscal Year 2020 has been tabled in both the Houses of Parliament. The survey highlights economic trends in the country, development over the past 12 months and facilitates better mobilization of resources.

  • The Current Fiscal Growth is 5%
  • The projected GDP growth for the year 2020-21 is 6% to 6.5%
  • The industrial growth for the Fiscal Year 2020 (2019-20) has been 2.5%
  • The Forex Reserves of the Fiscal Year 2019 (2018-19) was 461.2 billion USD
  • The GST collection for the FY20 has grown by 4.1%

The theme for the Economic Survey 2020 is Wealth Creation, Promotion of pro-business policies, strengthening of trust in the economy

Significance

  • The investments grew between 2008 and 2013.
  • After 2013, the credit (money inflow towards the economy or investments) has been slowing down.
  • The year 2013 saw the highest investments (between 2008-19) mainly due to the corporate sector.
  • The credit has been declining mainly due to the global scenario of an economic slowdown.
  • This decline of investments is the major reason for the economic slow down after 2017.
  • Therefore, it is essential to CREATE WEALTH. In other words, to increase investments.
  • This will aid in long term economic growth according to the survey.

 

Other important current affairs:

1. A ‘fruit train’, said to be the first of its kind in the country, was flagged off from Tadipatri Railway Station in Andhra Pradesh carrying a load of 980 metric tonnes of locally grown bananas to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai.

  • This is the first time in India that an entire train is being sent to the gateway port (JNPT) for export.
  • This helps save both time and fuel as 150 trucks would have been required to send a consignment of this size by road to JNPT, which is over 900 km away before the temperature-controlled containers are loaded on ships.

2. Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami, also celebrated as Saraswati Puja, was celebrated in various parts of the Nation on January 30.

  • Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of the spring season – Basant means spring and Panchami mean “the fifth day” (or Panchmi of Shukla Paksha in Magh Maas).
  • The day is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja and the Hindu goddess of wisdom and knowledge, Saraswati, is worshipped on this day.
  • Saraswati Puja on Vasant Panchami is more popular in Bengal, Odisha and North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh.

3. After Mumbai, the Amazon India private e-commerce firm has set up its second pick up a kiosk in Kolkata’s Sealdah Railway Station.

  • The pick-up kiosk has been set up in partnership with the Eastern Railways. It is to be noted that in 2019, the E-Commerce firm had set up pickup kiosk in four railway stations of Mumbai.
  • The pickup kiosk allows the customers to pick up packages at railway stations.
  • In October 2019, Amazon India tied up with the Indian Railways to transport customer packages through Railways on the routes of Mumbai to New Delhi, New Delhi to Kolkata.

4. The World Sustainable Development Summit released its report on India’s Steel Demand.

  • According to the report, if the steel demand of the country continues to grow, the carbon-dioxide emissions from the steel sector will reach 600 million tonnes by 2050.
  • The TERI released its report titled, “Towards a Low Carbon Steel Sector: Overview of the Changing Market, Technology and Policy Context for Indian Steel”.
  • According to the report, the current carbon-dioxide emissions from the steel sector are 242 Million Tonnes.
  • This is 35% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the country.
  • It is to quadruple in three to four decades.

5. The Google News Initiative has announced to contribute a 1 million USD grant to improve the news literacy of Indians.

  • The grant is to be used to build a strong network against fake news producers in the country.
  • Around 300 workshops, boot camps and sessions are to be organized to train journalists, academicians, and fast-checkers on the authentication of the published content on the internet.
  • The training is to be provided in 7 Indian languages
  • Tangi Application: The Tangi Application of Google focuses on Do It Yourself videos. The name of the application has been inspired by TeAch aNd GIve.
  • AI Model: Google has used an AI model that listens to Killer Whales, identifies the origin of the sound and displays its location. The model has been installed in Canada. According to Centre for Whale Research, only 73 Southern Resident Orcas (a subspecies of Killer Whales) are left in the world.

6. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is celebrating its 125th birth anniversary in the year 2020.

  • In order to commemorate its anniversary, the organization has been hosting several events in different parts of India under the theme
  • Theme: CII@125: Business and Beyond.
  • The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on 30th January 2020, announced “Direct CTO (Consent To Operate) Scheme for Green Industries” to mark the 125th birth anniversary of CII.
  • The scheme also helps to improve the Ease of Doing Business.
  • The scheme aims at relaxing the clearances of Green category industries.

7. The Indian Women Hockey Team player Rani Rampal has won the “World Game Athlete of the Year, 2019” title. She is the first hockey player in the world to receive the title.

  • The title is awarded to the winner selected through a voting process. The award is presented to an awardee who is outstanding in terms of social concern, performance, and good behavior.
  • Rani Rampal is called the “Queen of Indian Hockey”. She joined the Indian Hockey National Team at the age of 15. She is the current captain of the team. In 2020, Rani Rampal was awarded Padmashri, one of India’s most prestigious awards.
  • Rani had participated in the 2009 Asia cup and won a silver medal.
  • Also, she was a part of 2010 Common Wealth games of 2010.

8. The RBI appointed its executive director Janak Raj as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

  • Janak Raj replaces M.D. Patra, who was recently elevated as deputy governor of the RBI.
  • The government had in 2016 constituted MPC to set the benchmark interest rate.
  • The MPC is headed by the RBI governor. Of the six members, three are nominated by the government, while the remaining three are from the RBI (including the governor).

9. Irish composer Eímear Noone will be the first woman to conduct an orchestra at the Oscars.

  • She will lead the 42-piece orchestra at the Academy Awards as it plays excerpts from five nominated scores on Sunday 9 February.
  • Teen sensation Billie Eilish has been announced as a performer for the 2020 Academy Awards ceremony.

10. Partap Chauhan has been Conferred with Prestigious Ayurveda Ratan Award 2020 in Brussels, Belgium
The award was announced during the Ayurveda Day Celebration at the European Parliament.

  • The All-Party Parliament Group on Traditional Medicines organized a meeting at in Brussels, Belgium with the aim of formulating a roadmap to legalize Ayurveda in Europe.

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