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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 17th February 2020

Daily Current Affairs for Government Exams:

Today Current Affairs: 17th February 2020 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc



  1. The neonatal deaths.
  2. Dara Shikoh.
  3. SPICe+.
  4. Child Witness.
  5. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT):
  6. ISRO Plans for 2020-21.
  7. Recusal.
  8. Very Large Telescope.
  9. Other important current affairs


1. The neonatal deaths:

According to the National Health Mission (NHM), Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest percentage of newborn deaths of 11.5% against the total admissions to government-run sick newborn care units (SNCUs) in the past three years across the country. The country’s average is 7%.

  • Although admissions of neonates (under 28 days) in the Madhya Pradesh have dropped from April 2017 to December 2019 remaining lower than West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh the percentage of deaths at 12.2% surpassed Bihar’s last year.
  • In Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, one in every five children admitted to a unit died in the three years the highest death percentage of 19.9% in the State, ten times above the NHM’s mandated key performance indicator of below 2%.
  • Staff crunch, low community referrals, absence of a special neonatal transport service to health centres, and the non-availability of enough units to cater to increasing institutional deliveries had contributed to the spike in the percentage of deaths.
  • Meanwhile, West Bengal, where 34,344 neonatal deaths occurred in the period, the most in the country, the declining percentage of deaths from 9.2% in 2017 to 8.9% in 2019 coincided with a slump in admissions.


2. Dara Shikoh:

The Ministry of Culture recently set up a seven-member panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59). He is believed to be buried somewhere in the Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi, one of around 140 graves of the Mughal clan.

  • The panel has been given three months’ time to complete this task.
  • The panel will use architectural evidence from that time, and also written history and any other information that can be used as evidence.

Who was Dara Shikoh?

  • He was the eldest son of Shah Jahan.
  • He was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
  • He is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
  • He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.
  • According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains.
  • His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.


3. SPICe+:

The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) has come out with the format of the new web form SPICe+ for the incorporation of companies with effect from February 15.

  • The webform has replaced the existing electronic form SPICe (Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically).
  • The 22-page integrated web form will, among other things, offer 10 services by three Central Government Ministries and Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Department of Revenue in the Finance Ministry) and one State Government (Maharashtra).
  • The incorporation of companies is made through the Corporate Affairs Ministry’s portal MCA21. The new form would be available on this portal.
  • The web form will help save many procedures, time and cost for starting a business in India.
  • The Ministry has also come up with an AGILE PRO form, part of SPICe+, for GSTIN/ EPFO/ ESIC/ Profession Tax/ Bank Account.


4. Child Witness:

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Karnataka High Court, asking for guidelines to be issued to police regarding the interrogation of minors in criminal proceedings in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act and United Nations (UN) resolutions.

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989: It states that ‘in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’.
  • India has been a signatory to this Convention since 1992.
  • Guidelines with respect to Child Witnesses (2009):
    • Authorities should treat children in a caring and sensitive manner, with interview techniques that “minimize distress or trauma to children”.
    • An investigator specially trained in dealing with children be appointed to guide the interview of the child, using a child-sensitive approach.
    • The investigator shall, to the extent possible, avoid repetition of the interview during the justice process in order to prevent secondary victimization of the child.
    • Secondary victimization is defined as victimization that occurs not as a direct result of a criminal act, but through the response of institutions and individuals to the victim.


5. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT):

The annual All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was held in New Delhi on 16th February 2020.

  • The Conference was presided over by the Union Minister for Law and Justice.
  • Apart from central services issues, the CAT will soon have jurisdiction to handle disputes and other issues related to the non-central services in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Central Administrative Tribunal

  • Article 323 – A: The Central Administrative Tribunal had been established under Article 323 – A of the Constitution for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or other authorities under the control of the Government.
  • In pursuance of Article 323-A, the Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985. The act authorizes the Central government to establish one Central Administrative Tribunal and the state administrative tribunals. This act opened a new chapter in the sphere of providing speedy and inexpensive justice to the aggrieved public servants.
  • Benches: There are 17 Benches and 21 Circuit Benches in the Central Administrative Tribunal all over India.
  • Objective and Composition: The CAT is a specialist body consisting of Administrative Members and Judicial Members who by virtue of their specialized knowledge are better equipped to dispense speedy and effective justice. It was established in 1985.


6. ISRO Plans for 2020-21:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released its annual report for 2019-20 recently.

  • ISRO has been allocated with the budget of ₹13,480 crores for 2020-21.
  • Currently, India has 19 national Earth Observation (EO) satellites, 18 communication satellites and 8 navigation satellites in service.
  • These are used for broadcasting, telephony, Internet services, weather, agriculture-related forecasting, security, disaster-time rescue and relief, and location-based services.
  • Three of the communication satellites are dedicated to military communication and networking.
  • The report states an annual plan of 36 missions (including both satellites and their launchers) including the launch of 10 Earth Observation (EO) satellites.
  • The upcoming EO satellites include radar imaging satellites RISAT-2BR2, RISAT- 1A and 2A; Oceansat-3, GISAT-1, and Resourcesat-3/3S.
  • ISRO plans to launch Chandrayan-3, Gaganyaan in the year 2020-21.
  • ISRO also plans to launch a new series of high-resolution HRSATs through Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launcher.
  • ISRO is expected to develop its own space station within a decade.


7. Recusal :

Supreme Court judge Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar recused himself from hearing a petition filed against the government’s move to charge J&k CM Omar Abdullah under the Public Safety Act. The case was finally heard by another bench.

  • Recusal usually takes place when a judge has a conflict of interest or has a prior association with the parties in the case.
  • There are no written rules on the recusal of judges from hearing cases listed before them in constitutional courts. It is left to the discretion of a judge.
  • The reasons for recusal are not disclosed in an order of the court.
  • Some judges orally convey to the lawyers involved in the case their reasons for recusal, many do not.
  • A recusal inevitably leads to delay. The case goes back to the Chief Justice, who has to constitute a fresh Bench.


8. Very Large Telescope:

Using the European Space Organisation’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have noticed the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star (over 20 times bigger than the Sun) in the constellation Orion.

  • Along with the dimming, the star’s shape has been changing as well, as per recent photographs of the star taken using the VISIR instrument on the VLT.
  • Betelgeuse was born as a supermassive star millions of years ago and has been “dramatically” and “mysteriously” dimming for the last six months. According to a report in Sky and Telescope, among the brightest nighttime stars, Betelgeuse ranks 10th, but by the last week of December 2019, its brightness had dimmed so low, that the star was ranked as the 21st brightest, “a remarkable decline  and a historic low.”

About VLT:

  • It is the world’s most advanced optical instrument, consisting of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2m diameter and four movable 1.8m diameter Auxiliary Telescopes.
  • The telescopes can work together, to form a giant ‘interferometer’, the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer, allowing astronomers to see details up to 25 times finer than with the individual telescopes.
  • Location: Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.
  • The VLT consists of four individual telescopes.
  • They are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution.
  • The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language.


Other important current affairs:

1. Railways’ corporate train model:

  • The Kashi Mahakal Express is the country’s third ‘corporate’ train after the two Tejas Express trains between Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad started over the past few months.
  • This is a new model being actively pushed by Indian Railways- to ‘outsource’ the running of regular passenger trains to its PSU, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
  • In this model, the corporation takes all the decisions of running the service– fare, food, onboard facilities, housekeeping, complaints, etc.
  • Indian Railways is free from these encumbrances and gets to earn from IRCTC a pre-decided amount, being the owner of the network.
  • This amount has three components- haulage, lease, and custody.

2. Recently, the festival of Medaram Jatara concluded.

  • Medaram Jatara is also known as Sammakka Saralamma Jatara.
  • It is a tribal festival honoring the fight of a mother and daughter, Sammakka and Saralamma, with the reigning rulers against an unjust law.
  • It is celebrated in the state of Telangana. The Jatra begins at Medaram in Tadvai Mandal in Warangal district.
  • Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the region.

3. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS), though home to more than half the number of tigers present in Kerala, may not be notified as a tiger reserve as the proposal lacks public support.

  • It is the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.
  • The ‘Status of Tigers in India’ report released last year had estimated the tiger population of Wayanad as between 75 and 80 individuals.
  • The sanctuary is now an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
  • It is bounded by a protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.


  • India’s chief National badminton coach P. Gopichand was named among the recipients of the International Olympic Committee’s 2019 Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • He is the first Indian to get it across all Olympic disciplines.

5. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested the country’s first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative, who allegedly shipped hundreds of psychotropic drug parcels abroad in the garb of sex stimulation medicines.

  • Dark Net (or Darknet), also known as the dark web, refers to the deeply hidden internet platform that is used for narcotics sale, exchange of pornographic content and other illegal activities by using the secret alleys of the onion router (ToR) to stay away from the surveillance of law enforcement agencies.
  • Darknet is the part of the Internet below the private deep web that uses custom software and hidden networks superimposed on the architecture of the Internet.
  • Owing to its end-to-end encryption, darknet is considered very tough to crack when it comes to investigating criminal activities being rendered over it.

6. Guwahati, the largest city in the Northeast, has yielded a new species of Urban lizard – the urban bent-toed gecko.

  • The new species of lizard, zoologically named Cyrtodactylus Urbanus, is markedly different in molecular structure, blotch, and color from the Cyrtodactylus guwahatiensis, or the Guwahati bent-toed gecko, that was discovered two years ago.
  • It was also the 12th recorded gecko from the Northeast.
  • All bent-toed geckos in Northeast India were thought to be a single species, the Cyrtodactylus khasiensis found primarily in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
  • Though the urban bent-toed gecko falls within the khasiensis group, it differs from other members of this group in mitochondrial sequence data as well as aspects of morphology.

7. PM Modi inaugurates 13th COP of UN’s Conservation of Migratory Species

  • PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar through Video Conferencing.
  • The theme of the Conference is “Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home”.
  • The mascot is “Gibi – The Great Indian Bustard” is a critically endangered species.
  • The CMS COP 13 logo is inspired by ‘Kolam’.

8. BioAsia Summit 2020 begins in Hyderabad

  • Telangana Government is hosting three days Bio-Asia Summit 2020 in Hyderabad.
  • The theme of the Summit is ‘Today for Tomorrow’.
  • Around 2,000 Delegates representing 37 Countries, 800 Corporates, 75 Startups are participating in this Summit.
  • The main objective of the summit is to explore the capabilities of Life Science Companies and their investments.

9. Pyaar ka Paudha’ campaign launched by Bihar govt

  • ‘Pyaar ka Paudha’ (a plant of love) campaign has been launched by the Bihar government’s Department of Environment and Forest in Patna.
  • Department of Environment, humbly request you to gift one plant of love to your closed ones and provide good care.
  • Aim to promote the practice of planting trees in the state, the government of Bihar has launched ‘Pyaar ka Paudha’ campaign.

10. GOI sanctioned 9 Medical colleges and 2 AIIMS for Jammu & Kashmir

  • Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh performed Bhoomi pooja ceremony of AIIMS building.
  • Jammu and Kashmir allocated two AIIMS – one in Jammu and another in Kashmir.
  • The nine medical colleges had been sanctioned in Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the two AIIMS.
  • The new work culture of the government of working beyond vote bank politics has greatly benefitted the people