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Important Current Affairs 17th March 2020

National

Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 tabled in Lok Sabha

•           The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 was on March 17, 2020 tabled in the Lok Sabha. The new amendment bill decriminalises major offences mentioned in the Companies Act, 2013.

•  The Bill aims to boost ease of doing business in India by proposing 72 amendments in the existing Act. It proposes monetary penalties for violations committed by startups.

World’s First Flying Car Will Be Manufactured In Gujarat, India

• The world’s first commercial flying car named ‘PAL-V Liberty’ will be developed in Gujarat, India.

• Dutch company PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) will develop this car.

• PAL-V has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gujarat’s Industries Principal Secretary MK Das to set up a manufacturing facility in Gujarat.

International

Banking and Economy

EPFO cuts interest rate to 8.5 percent

• The Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) reduced the interest rate on the Employees Provident Fund to 8.5 percent for 2019-20. The EPFO's Central Board of Trustees (CBT) has taken this decision for its six crore users.

• CBT is the apex decision-making body associated with EPFO. The interest rate on the provident fund for the financial year 2018-19 was 8.65 percent.

Sports

Indian Paddler Sharath Kamal Clinches 2020 Oman Open Table Tennis Tournament

• Ace Indian table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal has won the 2020 ITTF Challenge Series Plus Oman Open in Muscat on 15 March 2020.

• The 37-year-old Tamil Nadu veteran beat top-seeded Marcos Freitas of Portugal 4-2 in the final.

• The last time when Sharath bagged a title at ITTF event was in 2010 when he won Egypt Open.

Days

National Vaccination Day

•  In India, the National Vaccination Day (also known as National Immunisation Day (IMD)) is observed on 16 March ever year, to raise the awareness for the eradication of polio from the planet.

•  The day was first observed on 16 March, 1995 when the first dose of an oral vaccine against polio was given in India.

Books and Authors

An Extraordinary Life: A biography of Manohar Parrikar’ to be Released in April 2020

• A book on the life and times of bureaucrat-turned-politician and former Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, is set to hit stands in April 2020.

• The book titled “An Extraordinary Life: A biography of Manohar Parrikar” has been written by veteran journalists Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar.

• It is being published by publishing house Penguin Random House India.

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Important Current Affairs 15th March 2020

National

India’s 1st digital parcel locker service launched in West Bengal

• The Department of Posts, Kolkata (West Bengal circle), has launched free digital parcel locker service in 2 post offices Nabadiganta IT post office of Salt Lake City & post office in New Town’s Action Area.

• Under this service, customers will be able to collect their parcel from the post office according to their convenience.

• This facility is quite popular in European countries but is starting for the first time in India. This service has been done for such people of working-class, who do not have to receive any parcel at home. Such people can take their parcel and letters addressed to them from the kiosks at 24×7.

UP govt launches three schemes for skill development in the state

Uttar Pradesh government has launched three ambitious schemes for skill development and employment generation for youths in the state. The three schemes are Kaushal Satrang, Yuva Hub and apprenticeship scheme in Lucknow. UP government also announced to depute ”Arogya Mitras” at all primary health centres to inform people about govt health schemes.

Kaushal Satrang Scheme

• Kaushal Satrang scheme is a skill development scheme with 7 components to help provide job opportunities to the youth.Under this scheme, each district will organize Mega job fair.

Yuva Hub’ Scheme

Yuva Hub’ scheme was allocated Rs 1,200 crore in the state budget and it aims at providing employment to thousands of skilled youth by assisting in project concept and financial help for one year of operation. It will also facilitate setting up of 30,000 startups in the state. IIM (Indian Institutes of Management) Lucknow is the knowledge partner of this scheme.

CM apprenticeship scheme

CM apprenticeship scheme will provide a stipend of Rs 2500 to the youth of the state.

Banking and Economy

Lava launches World’s first ‘no internet’ payment service in India

• Smartphone manufacturer Lava, has launched a payment app named Lava Pay which doesn’t requires an active internet connection for fund transfer.

• Lava claims it to be the world’s first’no internet’ payment service. The app will help boost Digital India initiative of the Government as well as bringing financial inclusivity for a large population of the county.

Govt appoints new board of directors for Yes Bank

• The government of India has notified the reconstruction scheme for Yes Bank which has been placed under moratorium by Reserve Bank of India. The moratorium will be lifted on March 18.

• Under the scheme, Prashant Kumar has been appointed as MD and CEO of Yes Bank. He is a former chief financial officer at State Bank of India.Sunil Mehta has been appointed as the non-executive chairman of Yes Bank. He is the former non-executive chairman of state-owned Punjab National Bank.Mahesh Krishnamurthy and Atul Bheda will be the non-executive directors.

• Under the reconstruction scheme, SBI, will hold up to 49 per cent in Yes Bank. SBI has approved an investment of Rs 7,250 crore (725 crore shares at Rs 10 each).Apart from this, 4 private banks will also chip in money in Yes Bank. These are- HDFC- Rs 1,000 Crore; ICICI Bank- Rs 1,000 Crore; Axis Bank- Rs 600 Crore; Kotak Mahindra Bank- Rs 500 Crore.

RBI reduces Limits on exposure to group of borrowers for UCB to 25%

• The Reserve Bank of India has reduced the prudential exposure limits for Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs) for group of connected borrowers/parties from 40% to 25%.

• Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs) were permitted to have exposures up to 15 per cent and 40 per cent of their capital funds to a single borrower and a group of borrowers, respectively.

Days

World Consumer Rights Day

• World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated globally on March 15 every year. It is a day marked to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs.

• Celebrating World Consumer Rights Day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.

• Consumer rights broadly mean that each consumer has the right to have information about the quality, potency, quantity, purity, price and standard of goods or services.

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Important Current Affairs 13th March 2020

National

Facebook launches ‘Pragati’ to boost women entrepreneurship in India

• Facebook India has launched its CSR initiative, Facebook Pragati to promote women entrepreneurship in India.

• The initiative will incubate and accelerate early-stage women-led non-profits that are working to drive women entrepreneurship and to spread awareness and adoption of technology among women in India.

Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 approved by Parliament

• Indian Parliament recently approved Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 with an aim to promote the Indian coal and mining sector along with the ease of doing business in this sector.

• With the increase in coal production, India’s dependence on imports will be reduced. Earlier, the Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha.

Parliament passes Vivad se Vishwas Bill 2020

• The Upper House of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha passed the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 and sent it back to the Lok Sabha on March 13, 2020.

• The money bill seeks to resolve over 4 lakh direct tax cases pending in Indian courts. 

Government allows without referral treatment to CGHS beneficiaries over 75 years

• Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan has clarified that the CGHS beneficiaries aged 75 years and above can take the facility of treatment without a referral.

• He also said that only non-emergency situations will require approval for treatments and tests that are not listed.

Banking and Economy

SBI removes minimum balance charges from all savings bank accounts

• The State Bank of India has waived off the minimum balance charges on all savings bank accounts. SBI has waive charges for non-maintenance of Average Monthly Balance (AMB) for all 44.51 crore savings bank accounts.

• Earlier, SBI was levying a penalty of Rs 5 to Rs 15 along with taxes on non-maintenance of average monthly balance of Rs 3000, Rs 2000 and Rs 1000 in metro, semi urban and rural areas respectively

Acquisitions and Mergers

SpiceJet to set up warehousing & distribution facility at GAHSL

• An Indian low-cost airline, SpiceJet has signed a pact with GMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ Limited (GHASL). According to the pact, SpiceJet will set up warehousing, distribution and trading facility in the aerospace and industrial park of GHASL.

• “Ready-to-Use” industrial infrastructure is offered by the park with the flexibility of choosing land within SEZ for business purposes.

Ranking

India Ranks World’s 2nd Biggest Arms Importer While Placed at 23rd in Exporters List: SIPRI Report

• The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its annual “Trends in international arms transfers 2019” report to determine the International transfers of major arms during the five-year period 2015–19.

• As per the data, India was the second largest arms importer in the world during the period 2015-19. Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India.

• Saudi Arabia was the largest arms importer in the world during the same period.

India ranks second in Global Animal Protection Index 2020

• India gets the second rank in Global Animal Protection Index 2020. This Index was released by International animal welfare charity “World Animal Protection” released.

• The Animal Protection Index (API) aims to showcase where countries are doing well, and where they fall short on animal welfare policy and legislation.

• The index ranks countries from A (being the highest score) to G (being the weakest score) according to their policy and legislation. India has attained a C ranking in the index.

India ranks 46th in ‘Inclusive Internet Index 2020’

• India secured 46th rank in the Inclusive Internet Index 2020 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Pakistan got the 76th rank on the list.

• In this index, Sweden ranks first, New Zealand is second and America is third. The worst countries are Burundi (100), Liberia (99), Madagascar (98), Malawi (97) and Burkina Faso (96).

• India is at the top among South Asian countries followed by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This list includes 100 countries of the world and ranks are scaled from 1 (best) to 100 (worst).

Days

National Crime Records Bureau celebrated its 35th Inception Day

• The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 35th Inception Day on 12th March 2020.

• On the occasion of inception day of NCRB, Union Minister of State for Home Shri Nityanand Rai launched Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) and National Cybercrime Training Centre (NCTC).

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Important Current Affairs 12th March 2020

Biennial Civil Aviation Business Exhibition ‘Wings India 2020’ Begins in Hyderabad:

• The four-day civil aviation business exhibition and air show titled ‘Wings India 2020’ kick-started on 12 March 2020 at Begumpet airport, Hyderabad. It will continue till March 15.

• However, the programme will be formally inaugurated on 13 March 2020 by the Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri.

• The theme of the biennial event is ‘flying for all’.

• The event has been organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Maharashtra Assembly approves caste validity certificate bill:

• The Maharashtra State Assembly recently approved a bill exempting gram panchayat members of the state from submitting caste validity certificates while filing the nominations.

• The contesting candidates will now be allowed to submit the caste validity certificate within one year of winning the elections. The caste validity certificate is proof of an individual’s caste.

Infosys, Qualcomm tie-up to provide Smart City Solutions in India:

Infosys and Qualcomm have come together to provide smart city solutions in India. In this regard, both the companies signed an agreement wherein facilities like Smart Venues, Smart Stadiums and Smart Event Management will be offered to Indian Smart Cities.

Leh to host International Yoga Day 2020; PM Modi to lead main event:

• Ladakh’s capital Leh will host the main national event of the International Yoga Day 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the event on June 21, 2020.

• Over 15000 people are expected to attend the event and perform Yoga in such a high altitude location.

Govt sets up development council for pulp, paper and allied industries:

• Central Government has formed a 25-member development council for pulp, paper and allied industries with an objective to increase the growth of this sector.

• A S Mehta is the chairman of the council. He is the President of J K Paper Ltd.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

US Supreme Court allows controversial 'Remain in Mexico' asylum policy to stay:

• The Supreme Court of the United States directed on March 11, 2020 that the controversial "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy can continue to stay in effect till a proper legal resolution is reached. 

• The order is a victory for the Trump administration, which has been pushing for the controversial policy to continue. The administration had warned that there would be a rush to the border if the policy was blocked by the courts.

• The “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy mandates the non-Mexican asylum seekers to return to Mexico as they await hearings in the United States.

SUMMIT AND MOU

Centre, Himachal Pradesh, World Bank sign $80 million loan agreement to boost agricultural productivity:

• The union government, state government of Himachal Pradesh and the World Bank signed an $80 million loan agreement on March 11, 2020 to boost agricultural productivity and improve water management practices in select gram panchayats.

• The integrated project will be implemented in 428-gram panchayats in 10 districts of Himachal Pradesh. The project is expected to benefit over 400,000 small farmers and pastoral communities.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Tiger Woods to be inducted in World Golf Hall of Fame:

• Tiger Woods will be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame. According to the announcement made by the PGA tour, he will be part of Class 2021.

• Only those players get this honor who have secured at least 15 wins on approved PGA tours. However, there is an age restriction for induction. Earlier, it was 50 but recently it has been reduced to 45 years.

 ACQUISITIONS AND MERGERS

Japanese company Hakuhodo acquires AdGlobal360:

• Indian MarTech Company, AdGlobal360 has been acquired by Japanese company Hakuhodo Inc for an undisclosed sum. Adglobal360 is India’s fastest growing MarTech Company headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana. The MarTech Company facilitates its customers with end to end digital solutions.

• Hakuhodo Inc is Japan’s second largest advertising company which was founded in 1895. It is an integrated advertising and communication agency which has international presence in 17 countries and regions.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Kidney Day 2020: 12 March 2020:

• The World Kidney Day (WKD) is observed annually on the Second Thursday in March.

• In 2020, the World Kidney Day is being celebrated on 12 March 2020.

• The theme of WKD 2020 is ‘Kidney health for everyone everywhere – from prevention to detection and equitable access to care’.

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Important Current Affairs 11th March 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

“COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator” fund launched:

• A new fund named as “COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator” has been launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard. The $125 Million fund has been launched to accelerate technologies to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

• “COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator” fund has been designed to identify, assess, develop and scale treatments to the COVID-19 disease outbreak.

 Govt to launch Mahua-based alcoholic drink:

•Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) and National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) recently signed a memorandum for manufacturing of Mahua Nutribeverage.

• Mahua Nutribeverage will have high nutritional values with low alcohol (about 5 percent). It will be developed by Delhi-IIT and TRIFED. According to the reports, it will be available within next few months in various flavours.

• TRIFED and NRDC will manufacture mahua-based alcoholic beverage ‘Mahua Nutribeverage’ in the market within next months. According to the media reports, this beverage will be available in six fruit-based flavours. It will be available at price of Rs. 700 for a 750 ml. It is for the first time when Tribal Affairs Ministry is going to manufacture alcoholic beverages.

Odisha Government to Launch Separate dept for SHGs “Mission Shakti” dedicated to women:

• The government of Odisha under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced that the state will launch an exclusive department for Self Help Group (SHGs) called “Mission Shakti” which will be dedicated to all women of the state.

• This will make Odisha, first state of the country to have a separate department dedicated to SHGs.

New Delhi to host an exhibition titled “Jallianwala Bagh”:

An exhibition titled “Jallianwala Bagh” is scheduled to be held in New Delhi. “Jallianwala Bagh” exhibition will be inaugurated by Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on the occasion of 130th Foundation Day of National Archives of India (NAI).

National Conference on Women in Police and CAPFs held in New Delhi:

• Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Zubin Irani inaugurated the “National Conference on Women in Police and CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces)” in New Delhi.

• The Conference was organized by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR & D). Smriti Irani also released a hand-out- ‘BPR & D Mirror- Gender Bender’ and also the book titled “To Greater Heights”.

GoI constitutes committee to decide modalities of Kisan Rail:

• The Union Government of India has constituted a committee to decide modalities of Kisan Rail. This committee has been formed under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare along with representatives of the Indian Railways.

• “Kisan Rail” is planned to be set up through the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode and will facilitate a cold supply chain to transport the perishable goods.

• Initiative of “Kisan Rail” was proposed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her budget speech of 2020-21 to set up a seamless National Cold Supply Chain for perishables like fish, milk and meat.

AWARDS AND RECONGNITION

Nupur Kulshrestha becomes 1st woman DIG of Indian Coast Guard:

• Nupur Kulshrestha becomes the first woman to be promoted as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Indian Coast Guard. She joined Indian Coast Guard in 1999.

• The Indian Coast Guard is a multi-mission organization, conducting round-the-year real-life operations at sea.

• The Indian Coast Guard was formally established on 18 August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent Armed force of India.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Bi-luminescent security ink to curb fake printing of currency notes:

• A team of Indian scientists recently developed a Bi-luminescent security ink to help curb the printing of fake currency notes, passports and even packing of fake medicines.

• The ink has been developed by scientists of National Physical Laboratory (NPL), CSIR and the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research.

RANKING

Mukesh Ambani losses as Asia's richest person to Jack Ma:

• RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani lost to Ali Baba’s founder Jack Ma as the richest person of Asia.

• Jack Ma is Asia’s richest man with a total worth of USD 44.5 billion; while Ambani comes to the second position with a net worth of USD 41.8 billion.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Naveen Patnaik released book “The Adventures of the Daredevil Democrat”:

• The chief minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik released a comic book titled “The Adventures of the Daredevil Democrat’.

• This book is released on the occasion of the 104th birth anniversary of former Odisha CM Late Biju Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The book deals about the life and works of legendary leader and Naveen Patnaik’s father Biju Patnaik.

• The book aims to inspire and encourage young minds to serve the motherland. The comic book, prepared by Kalinga Foundation Trust

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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.

• 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 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.

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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Important Current Affairs 5th February 2020

National

India’s biggest rural technical festival ‘Antahpragnya 2020’ held in Telangana

• Collector of Nirmal inaugurated National Level India’s Biggest Rural Technical Festival titled Antahpragnya 2020 in the state of Telangana at Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies-Basar (RGUKT-Basar).

• Rural areas cannot afford to miss the development bus. Most of the developments in the two lakh years have taken place in the last century.

• The fest showcases 300 prototypes, working models, exhibits and technologies such as automatic switch for water, homemade electricity, smoke absorber, automatic street lighting system, smart dustbins, zero budget farming, automatic irrigation and others.

India hosts Defence dialogue between India and South Korea

• Ministerial-level Defence dialogue between India and South Korea was held in New Delhi today. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of National Defence of South Korea Jeong Kyeong-doo held the meeting.

• The theme of DefExpo-2020 in Lucknow is ‘Digital Transformation of Defence’ and India and South Korea recognize the influence of Artificial Intelligence and digital technology in defence sector.

Indian Government unveils new vaccine to control classical swine fever

• The government of India unveiled a new indigenously developed vaccine for controlling classical swine fever (CSF). CSF is a highly contagious fatal pig disease.

• The new vaccine, developed by Uttar Pradesh-based Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), will be much cheaper than the existing one.

 Banking and Economy

Union Cabinet Approves Amendments to Banking Regulation Act to regulate co-operative banks

• The Union Cabinet has given its approval to bring cooperative banks under the regulatory mechanism of Reserve Bank of India.

• The cabinet approved amendments to the Banking Regulation Act on February 5, 2020, thus allowing multi-state cooperative banks to come under the regulation of the RBI.

• The announcement was made by Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadkar after a cabinet meeting.

• The 1,540 cooperative banks with 8.6 crore depositors’ money, with around Rs. 5 lakh crore deposits in the country and the proposed amendment will protect the depositors.

• a. The Banking Regulation Act, 1949 is legislation in India that regulates all banking firms.

b. Shaktikanta Das is the 25th governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Union Govt plans to raise funds through LIC IPO

• Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that union government plans to sell a partial stake in LIC through IPO or an initial public offer.

• The union budget she proposed that the government will sell its stake in IDBI Bank to private investors and also amend the Banking Regulation Act to strengthen co-op banks.

• The finance minister that the deposit insurance coverage against bank failure will be increased to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh.

• She proposed to expand exchange-traded funds by floating a Debt ETF, consisting primarily of government securities.

LIC: Life Insurance Corporation of India is an Indian state-owned insurance group and investment corporation owned by the Government of India. The Life Insurance Corporation of India was founded in 1956 when the Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act that nationalised the insurance industry in India.

Headquarters: Mumbai

Owner: Government of India (100%)

Founder: Government of India

Founded: 1 September 1956

Awards

Vinod Shukla bags first Mathrubhumi Book of the Year award

• Noted Hindi poet-novelist and Sahitya Akademi honouree Vinod Kumar Shukla has bagged the inaugural Mathrubhumi Book of the Year award for his translated book “Blue Is Like Blue“.

• The stories in “Blue Is Like Blue”, translated into English by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai, deal with common people and their daily struggles.

Obituary

Veteran Odia poet Rabi Singh passes away

• Renowned Odia poet Rabi Singh passed away. He was 89.

• The revolutionary poet had received many awards for his contribution to Odia literature.

• He received Atibadi Jagannath Das Samman in the year 2017.

Sports

Sourav Ganguly will be the 'Goodwill Ambassador' of India in the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

• The recently appointed BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly has been invited by the Indian Olympic Association to be the 'Goodwill Ambassador' of India in the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.

•  Sourav Ganguly, known in his hometown as the Prince of Calcutta is one of the most respected sports icons in the entire country

Appointment

Amitabh Bhatt the New CEO (Bangalore Complex) at HAL

• Amitabh Bhatt has taken over as Chief Executive Officer of Bengaluru-headquartered safeguard PSU, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s Bangalore Complex.

• Prior, he was serving as Executive Director of Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) venture in HAL.

• Bhatt is a Post Graduate in Management and earlier served in SKF India Limited for a long time before joining Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

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Important Current Affairs 25th January 2020

National

India’s First War Memorial for Service Animals to come up in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

•The Government of India has planned to set up a first-of-its-kind war memorial for service animals in Meerut city of Uttar Pradesh.

•The memorial will be set up at the army’s specialized breeding, rearing and training centre for animals: the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College in Meerut.

•It will be similar to the National War Memorial in Delhi, but on smaller scale.

•India’s first war memorial for animals including dogs, horses and mules will be dedicated to the contributions and heroics of animals who lost their lives in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and in the battlefield during the Kargil War, while helping the Army.

India & Brazil Signs 15 Pacts to Boost Strategic Ties

• President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro arrived in New Delhi on 24 January 2020 on four-day state visit to India.

• He is also the chief guest at the 2020 Republic Day of India celebrations.

• Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked 15 agreements on 25 January to boost cooperation in a wide range of areas between the two countries.

• List of MoUs Signed Include:

1) MoU on Bioenergy Cooperation

2) MoU for Cooperation in the field of Oil and Natural Gas

3) Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty 

4) Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

5) MoU in the field of Early Childhood

6) MoU on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine

7) MoU in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy.

8) Cultural Exchange Programme for the period 2020-2024

9) Agreement on Social Security

10) MoU on Cooperation between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) of India and the General Coordination of Network Incident Treatment Centre, Department of Information Security, Institutional Security, Cabinet of the Presidency of Brazil (CGCTIR/DSI/GSI) on cooperation in the area of Cyber Security

11) Programme of Scientific and Technological Cooperation for implementing the agreement on scientific and technological cooperation for the period 2020-2023

12) MoU on Cooperation in the field of Geology and Mineral Resources

13) MoU between Invest India and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency

14) Joint Declaration of Intent (DoI) for Cooperation in the fields of Animal Husbandry and Dairying

15) MoU for establishing a nodal institution in India to carry out research on Bioenergy

CJI S.A. Bobde Inaugurates All India Members’ Conference of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in New Delhi

• The Chief Justice of India, Justice S.A. Bobde, inaugurated the All India Members’ Conference of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) in New Delhi on 24 January 2020.

• The two day event was held as a part of the 79th Foundation Day Celebrations of ITAT.

• India’s Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) was set up on 25 January 1941.

• ITAT functions under the Department of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Banking and Economy

World Bank Approves USD 210 Million Loan for Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project

• The Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra has signed a USD 210 million loan agreement with the World Bank. The loan agreement has been signed for Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project.

• The USD 210 million loan will be funded by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), having a 6-year grace period with a maturity period of 13.5 years.

Switzerland Mints World’s Smallest Gold Coin; Features Albert Einstein

• In Switzerland, State-owned Swissmint has minted world’s smallest gold coin measuring 2.96-millimeter (0.12-inches).

• The coin features the image of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue.

• Swissmint has minted just 999 such coins.

• The size of the coin is 2.96-millimeter (0.12-inches).It weighs 0.063 grams (1/500th of an ounce).

• The coin has a nominal value of 1/4 Swiss francs (USD 0.26).

• It will be sold for 199 francs, along with a special magnifying glass so that owners can see the famous physicist on its face.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

Election Commission of India to sign MoU with EC of Tunisia and Papua New Guinea

• The Election Commission of India has received the approval from the Union Cabinet to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission and Independent High Authority for Elections of Tunisia. The MoU aims to enhance the cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also approved the agreements in the field of mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, cooperation in the field of early childhood care, oil and natural gas, and Geology and Mineral Resources between India and Brazil.

Ranking

India celebrates National Voters’ Day on 25th January

• In India, the National Voters’ Day is celebrated on 25 January every year in a bid to encourage more young voters to take part in the political process.

• The day is being observed since 2011 to mark the foundation day of Election Commission of India (ECI), formed on 25 January 1950, to overlook the smooth running of elections in India

• The theme of National Voters’ Day 2020 is ‘Electoral Literacy for a Stronger Democracy.’

National Tourism Day: 25 January

• The National Tourism Day is celebrated on 25th January in India every year to raise awareness about the importance of tourism for the country’s economy.

• The Indian government established the National Tourism Day to cultivate awareness among the global community on the importance of tourism and to demonstrate how it affects social, political, financial, cultural worth and economic values worldwide.

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