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15 to 21 January 2020 - Current Affairs

International :
  • Henley Passport Index 2020 recently released the rankings of the world’s most powerful passports. Indian passport has ranked 84th in the list while Japan’s passport ranked 1st in the index. The rankings of these passports are based on data collected from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Henley and Partners said the list included passports of 199 countries and 227 tourist places. This list has been prepared based on new visa policies. The list included the most powerful and weakest passport of the world. 

    Highlights : 
    • According to the Henley Passport Index, Japan has the most powerful passport in the world.
    • Japan’s passport holders can visit 191 countries without any visa.
    • Top 10 countries in the index are – Singapore, Germany, South Korea, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg, and Denmark.
    • India is ranked 84th in this index. In 2006, India has been ranked 71st in this index. Currently, Indian passport holders can go to 58 countries without obtaining a visa.
    • UAE’s passport has witnessed the highest growth from 65th position in 2010 to 18th in 2020.
    • Nigeria’s passport ranked 199th as the weakest passport in the world.

  • India continued to be the top sourcing market for Sri Lankan tourism with Indian tourists constituting maximum 19 per cent of total tourist arrivals to the island nation in 2019. The latest data released by Sri Lankan Tourism revealed that 3,55,002 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka last year against total arrival of around 1.91 million. Over 48 thousand Indians visited Sri Lanka during last month of December alone including over thousand by sea route.

  • A ten-day-long art exhibition commemorating 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated on January 8, 2020 in Dhaka. The art exhibition has been organised by the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh in association with the Bangladesh Shilpkala Academy.

  • The World Future Energy Summit will begin on January 13, 2020 in Abu Dhabi. 33,500 participants from 170 countries and 800 specialist exhibitors are expected to attend the four-day annual event. The theme for this year's summit is "Rethinking Global Consumption, Production, and Investment." World Future Energy Summit is the Middle East’s largest future energy and sustainability event. Held annually at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the 2020 edition includes exhibition and forum programmes across five main pillars: energy, solar, water, waste and smart cities, hosting an unrivalled gathering of top-level government and business leaders. The event is starting to set an example for best practice, supporting the circular economy through recycling, and acting to remove single-use plastics from the event. Also held alongside the World Future Energy Summit are the Climate Innovations Exchange, ‘CLIX’ for short and the Future Sustainability Summit. The event will showcase 42 of the world’s most disruptive innovations, selected from 1,402 global submissions from 128 countries, related to the future of energy, food, agriculture and sustainability in space.

National :
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released a policy draft on January 13, 2020, on rare diseases. The objective of this policy draft is to provide Rs. 15 lakh help to the poor people who can’t afford the expenses of treatment. According to the reports published, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will be established. This council will prepare a database of beneficiaries of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Rare disease policy will be helpful for lakhs of poor people in the country. 

    The ICMR will identify people suffering from rare diseases and provide financial assistance up to Rs 15 lakh for their treatment. The draft highlights the fact that hospitals will be selected through crowd-funding and for the treatment of rare diseases to provide financial assistance to the victims. The draft proposes to set up a separate digital platform for voluntary crowd-funding. The draft states that the government wants to create an alternative mechanism for providing financial facilities to provide maximum health services to the people. A digital platform will be formed under this scheme.

  • The Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani launched Yashaswini Scheme for women entrepreneurship and Swasthya Sakhi project in Goa on January 11, 2020. A breast screening initiative was also launched during the occasion. The Yashaswini Scheme for Women entrepreneurship aims to support women Self Help Groups (SHGs) with interest-free loans up to Rs 5 lakh & handholding from experts. The scheme aims to strengthen the socio-economic empowerment of women in Goa. 
    The Swasthya Sakhi Project aims to ensure the wellness and welfare of women, especially during pregnancy. It aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, which will benefit both mother and child.

  • Union Consumer Minister Ram Vilas Paswan announced on January 14, 2020, that Indian jewellers will be allowed to sell hallmarked gold artifacts made of 14, 18 and 22-carat gold only. He said that it will become mandatory for all jewellers in the country but they will be given one year to get mandatory hallmark. The notification regarding this rule of consumer affairs will be issued on January 16, which will provide mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery from January 15, 2021. At present, gold hallmarking is voluntary. 

    Gold hallmarking is a purity certification by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The BIS symbol certifies that the jewellery has BIS standards. Therefore, one must ensure that jewellery has a BIS hallmark. It has a triangular mark as a purity certification of gold. Apart from that, the year of manufacturing of the product and the logo of the producer are also there. There are several assessments and hallmarking centers in 234 district locations in India. However, only 28,849 jewellery vendors have BIS registration. Hallmarking will curb frauds and fake gold jewellery. As per the data released by the World Gold Council (WGC) India’s gold import in the first nine months of 2019 was 496.11 tonnes. It was 523.9 tonne in the year 2018. On the other hand, according to the World Trade Organization's global trade rules, member countries have to notify their quality control order.

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has signed a historic pact for permanent solution of Bru refugees’ issue. Amit Shah announced a package of Rs. 600 crore under this agreement. More than 30,000 Bru tribes who fled Mizoram and residing in Tripura’s refugee camps will no longer be forced to return. According to the agreement between representatives of the central government, Tripura, Mizoram and Bru tribes, they will now be settled in Tripura. Earlier, an agreement was signed in 2018 to send them back but it could not be implemented due to their protest. 

    Highlights of Agreement :
    • Amit Shah said in a press conference that as per the agreement the Bru tribes would be given land to reside in Tripura.
    • A fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh will be given to each family as an amount of government aid. They will be able to withdraw this amount after two years.
    • According to the agreement, each of the displaced families will be given 40x30 sq ft residential plots.
    • Apart from them, each family will be given Rs. 5,000 cash per month for two years.
    • The agreement highlights that each displaced family will also be given free ration for two years and aid of Rs. 1.5 lakh to build their houses.
    • The Tripura state government will provide land for residential settlement.

  • The central government and Assam state government signed a USD 88 million loan agreement with the World Bank on January 16, 2020 to implement the Assam Inland Water Transport Project. The project aims to modernise the infrastructure and services of Assam's passenger ferry sector, which operates on its rivers including the Brahmaputra. Assam has more than 361 ferry routes and a majority of them cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands. The service is a crucial means of transport for thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the state.

  • Ladakh Food Processing Summit titled Building Partnerships for Inclusive Growth in Food Processing Sector was held on 16 January 2020. The summit was organized by the Department of Industries & Commerce, Ladakh in association with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India and Invest India. It is aimed to carry out a value chain mapping of food processing in Ladakh. It recommends strategies for integrating the local population into food processing and agriculture activities, to maximize the potential of the sector.

  • In Madhya Pradesh, the state government has decided to set up Gandhi chairs and Gandhi pillars dedicated to father of the nation in universities and colleges across the state. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath will inaugurate the Gandhi Chairs at a symbolic function on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The ‘Gandhi Chair’ will be set up under the political science department of the universities. Under the aegis of Gandhi Chair, scholars who are doing research focusing Mahatma Gandhi will be given incentive of Rs 60 thousand per annum.

  • ‘Saksham’, an annual one-month long, people-centric fuel conservation mega campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is going to be launched on 16th January by Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Shri Dharmendra Pradhan in a function to be held in Delhi. PCRA in association with Institute of Petroleum-Dehradun has developed high energy efficient PNG burner/Gas stove for household where piped gas is supplied which will save gas as compared to modified LPG stove for PNG.

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled infrastructure projects worth 102 lakh crore rupees that will be implemented in the next five years as a part of the government's spending push to the infrastructure sector. The Finance Minister informed this while releasing the Report of the Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline, NIP for 2019-2025. Ms Sitharaman said that in his Independence Day speech the Prime Minister spoke about investing 100 lakh crore rupees in infrastructure. Ms Sitharaman said, energy projects worth nearly 25 lakh crore rupees have been lined up and another 20 lakh crore rupees in road and about 14 lakh crore rupees in railway projects have also been lined up.

  • Government has slashed import duty on refined palmolein from 50 per cent to 45 per cent and crude palm oil (CPO) from 40 per cent to 37.5 per cent with immediate effect. A notification in this regard has been issued by the finance ministry. The duty cut has been made under the ASEAN agreement and the India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (IMCECA). The domestic palm oil refining industry has opposed the move saying it will hurt them and oilseeds farmers.

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI has made amendments to the new regulatory framework for cable and broadcasting services with a view to protect the consumer interests. Under it, cable TV users will be able to access more channels at lower subion price. The Authority has also capped at 160 rupees the amount consumers will have to pay monthly for all free to air channels. TRAI, in a statement, said that Consumers have also highlighted huge charges taken by Distribution Platform Operators (DPOs) in the form of Network Capacity Fee -NCF for a multi-TV home. 

    TRAI said, the homes where more than one TV connection is working in the name of one person, it will charge maximum 40 per cent of declared NCF for second and additional TV connections. Authority has also permitted DPOs to offer discounts on long term subions which is for 6 months or more. TRAI has also reduced the maximum NCF charge to 130 rupees excluding taxes for 200 channels. In addition, it has also been decided that channels declared mandatory by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will not be counted in the number of channels in the NCF. The Authority said that only those channels which have an MRP of 12 rupees or less will be permitted to be part of the bouquet offered by broadcasters.

  • Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey has said that two to three crore premium Gold cards will be issued under the Central Government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme. The minister said that Gold card holders will be able to avail free medical services in hospitals anywhere in the country. Shri Choubey also revealed that nine new medical colleges are being started in Tamilnadu including one each in Rameswaram and Nagapattinam. He also said that permission has been accorded for setting up a 1000 bedded super specialty hospital in Mayiladuthurai. The minister said that one lakh doctors will finish training in these medical colleges by 2024.

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah dedicated the new campus of National Fire Service College (NFSC) under Ministry of Home affairs in Nagpur. Mr Shah said, NFSC campus spread across 42 acres is fully equipped with the international standards and this modernized campus will be a proud moment not just for the Nagpur but also for the whole nation. He informed that four-year Bachelor level course in Fire Engineering approved by the All India Council for Technical Education along with the short and long-term courses in Emergency Management, Medical Life Support Management and Disaster Management will be taught in this college.

  • In the year 2019, India’s rank in Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of World Economic Forum has moved to 34th position from 65th rank in 2013. Foreign Tourist Arrivals also registered a growth of 3.2 percent last year. The government is working to develop thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme and 77 projects amounting over Rs 6035 crore have been sanctioned till date under this scheme. An initiative called - 'Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan' has been launched for developing tourist amenities at heritage and tourist sites and making them tourist-friendly. E-visa has been further liberalized and visa fee on e-visa has been substantially reduced to increase tourism competitiveness of the country. The Government has also opened more than 120 mountain peaks for mountaineering and trekking for promoting adventure tourism in the country.

  • UJALA and Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) of the central government completed five successful years of illuminating the country. Over 36.13 crore LED bulbs have been distributed across the country through the UJALA initiative. This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 46.92 billion kilowatt-hour per year. Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) project brought the market transformation in the energy efficiency sector. Prices of LED bulbs being distributed under UJALA programme have fallen to one-tenth of their rates, from 310 rupees in 2015 to 38 rupees in 2018. The switch from inefficient incandescent bulbs to LEDs is helping families reduce their electricity bills while also enabling them to access better brightness in homes. More than 1.03 crore smart LED streetlights have been installed till date under the Street Lighting National Programme. This has enabled an estimated energy savings of 6.97 billion kilowatt-hour per year. LED streetlights have been installed in various states across the country, helping in generating approximately 13,000 jobs to support Make in India initiative.

  • Tamil Nadu government has decided to appoint music, dance and art teachers in all schools. State Cultural Development Minister K Pandiarajan said that the government has already been its in- principle approval to the proposal.

  • A Yoga Science meet was organised on 6 January, 2020 as part of the ongoing Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru. The head of SVYASA Yoga deemed University Dr. HR Nagendra spoke on the benefits of Yoga in busting stress.

  • The Centre has released 5,908 crore rupees of Central assistance to seven states which were affected by floods, landslides, cloudburst during the previous year(2019). The financial assistance has been given to Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh from the National Disaster Response Fund, NDRF. During this financial year, the Central Government has so far released 8,068 crore rupees to 27 states as Central share from State Disaster Response Fund.

  • The 182-meter tall Statue of Unity in Gujarat has been included in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's '8 Wonders of SCO' list, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced.

  • President Kovind lays foundation stone to Lakshadweep's first Super Specialty Hospital at Kavaratti.

  • Cabinet has approved promulgation of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. The Ordinance will amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation ) Act 1957 and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act 2015. The Ordinance will ease rules for auctioning of coal mines and to open up to all sectors. Mr Joshi said, the government has also done away with end-use restrictions of the mining blocks.

  • The Cabinet gave its approval for an Agreement between India and Mongolia on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful and Civilian Purposes. The agreement was signed in New Delhi on 20th September last year during the visit of the President of Mongolia to India. 

    The Cabinet also gave its approval for signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department for International Development Government of the United Kingdom for enabling Energy Self-Sufficiency for Indian Railways. 

    The Cabinet was apprised of the Agreement on cooperation in polar science between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and Ministry of Education and Research, Sweden. The MoU was signed on 2nd of last month during the visit of King and Queen of Sweden to India. 

    The Cabinet gave its approval for the ratification of Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement between India and France. The Agreement was signed in March 2018 during the State visit of the French President to India. 

    The Cabinet also gave its ex-post-facto approval on the Memorandum of Cooperation between Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on cooperation in the field of Health signed in November last year. 

    The Cabinet was apprised of information about the amendments moved to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as passed by the Rajya Sabha. Amendments will ensure concurrence of the State Governments while formulating National Transport Policy and making schemes for national, multimodal and inter-state transportation of goods and passengers by the Central Government. 

    The Cabinet approved conferring the status of Institution of National Importance to a cluster of Ayurvedic institutions at Gujarat Ayurved University campus in Jamnagar. The strengthening of Ayurveda will reduce government expenditure on health as Ayurveda is cost-effective because of its preventive and curative approaches. A bill to that effect will be introduced in the ensuing Session of Parliament.

  • Kashmir will be connected to rest of the country through Railway network by December next year(2021) as the government has set a fresh deadline for completion of the world's highest Railway bridge. The Rail line is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower. Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 kilometres per hour, the 1.315 km-long engineering marvel will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar). The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-kilometre stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project.

  • Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurates works on laying of submarine cables from Chennai to Andaman Nicobar Islands in Chennai. The submarine cables will be initially laid from Chennai to Port Blair covering a distance of 1,450 kilometres. Afterwards it will be extended to Rangat, Long Island, Swaraj Island, Hut Bay, Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Campbell Bay in the Union Territory, covering an additional distance of 800 kilometres. The works are expected to be completed by June this year. The cables are of four-fibre pairs, with the capacity to transfer 6.4 tera-bytes of data per second by each fibre-pair. At the initial stage of commissioning of the project itself, the islands can get a data speed of 400-gigabytes per second.

  • Census India-2021 will begin on 1st of April this year and will end on 30th of September. It will be conducted through a mobile phone application, moving away from the traditional pen and paper. Enumerators of the census will seek the information of mobile number of the head of the family, information related to toilets, TV, Internet, vehicles owned, source of drinking water besides asking other questions during the house listing phase of the exercise.

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated various people centric projects of Gujarat Police and Indian Postal Department at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. He said the two projects VISWAS and AASHVAST will play a key role in preventing crimes in the state. The projects include Video Integration and StateWide Advance Security-VISWAS project, ‘Netrang’ project to establish Command and Control Room in 33 districts, online portal to pay E Challan and Cyber Crime Prevention Unit-AASHVAST which will have a dedicated service helpline for victims of cyber crimes.

  • The Kolkata Port has been renamed as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port. The Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced this in Kolkata on the occasion of 150th years celebrations of the Kolkata Port Trust. Mr. Modi launched several Port led development projects worth Rs 600 cr rupees to mark the day.

  • The Centre is implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to provide financial support to farmers suffering crop loss or damage arising out of unforeseen events. The scheme has been launched in February 2016 after the Union Cabinet approved the new scheme on this day, 13th of January in 2016. The scheme provides comprehensive insurance coverage against crop loss on account of non-preventable natural risks, thus helping stabilise farmers income. It will also encourage them to adopt innovative practices. Under it, there is a uniform premium of only 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5 per cent for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5 per cent. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities. The new Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with One Nation - One Scheme theme. It incorporates the best features of all the previous schemes and at the same time, previous shortcomings and weaknesses have been removed.

  • Union Territory Ladakh is hosting the first ever Food Processing Summit to attract investors to the region. With the help of Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the UT Administration of Ladakh is organizing the Summit. Ladakh region has vast scope for investment in food Processing Industries in horticulture products like Apricot, SeabuckThorn, Apple and agricultural produce like buckwheat and barley. Ladakh Commerce and industries Commissioner secretary Saugat Biswas said over hundred entrepreneurs from Leh and Kargil are participating in the Summit. The event is aimed at encouraging the entrepreneurs to begin a StartUp to tap the potential in the Food Processing Industries in Ladakh. Invest India will explain the procedures of investment processes along with Government support.

Bilateral :
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Myanmar capital Naypyitaw on 17 January, 2020 on a two day visit. It is President Xi's first visit to Myanmar also the first visit by a Chinese president to Myanmar in 19 years. During the visit of President Xi Jinping China speedy implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is on top of the agenda as Myanmar occupies an important strategic location for China at the junction of South and South East Asia. Myanmar formally joined the BRI in September 2018 after signing a 15-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China. The 1700 km long China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), as part of the BRI, will connect Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province, to Myanmar’s Mandalay and Yangon which are its major economic hubs, and to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Under the CMEC, Myanmar has agreed to implement nine projects including the Kyaukphyu SEZ which will provide a direct access to China to the Indian Ocean. 

    During the visit, the two countries are expected to sign a dozen agreements including the Kyaukphyu SEZ, $1.3 billion deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine state, border cooperation zones, trade, road upgrade projects among others. Xi is scheduled to meet 

  • The first Session of India-Norway Dialogue on Trade & Investment (DTI) was convened in New Delhi on 15-16 January, 2020. The session was based on the Terms of Reference (ToR) signed between India and Norway on 8th January, 2019 in New Delhi, during the visit of Prime Minister of Norway. This was the first meeting after the signing of DTI. The first Session was preceded by an industry interaction on 15th January, 2020 with the representatives from Indian industry, where discussions were held on various areas of mutual interest like blue economy, shipping & maritime, ICT, renewable energy, fisheries and MSME.

  • In continuation of the cultural exchange programme between India and Iran, Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with Embassy of Iran organized an Indo-Iranian Writers' Meet in New Delhi. The objective of the meet is to further deepen cultural ties between the two nations and heighten literary awareness among the readers at both sides. The meet was also aimed at providing a platform for meaningful-dialogue between writers of both countries. Culture Counsellor of Iran Mohammad Ali Rabbani, Secretary Sahitya Akademi K Sreenivasarao and eminent writer and scholar Nasera Sharma were present in the meet. The events also witnessed a panel discussion on Indo-Iranian Cultural Bonds. 

  • External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. Both the leaders recalled positive outcomes of Mr Jaishshankar's recent visit to Tehran for the 19th Joint Commission Meeting especially for strengthening bilateral trade and promoting connectivity initiative through Chabahar port. Both sides have also agreed to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the bilateral Treaty of Friendship this year. The two sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including the recent developments in the West Asia region and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Dr Jaishankar reiterated Indian interests in the region and support for efforts to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.

  • Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on January 9, 2020 met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi. Mr Gunawardena is on a three-day visit to India. Cooperation in economic projects, investment by Indian companies, issue of fishermen and stability in the Indian Ocean region are among the main issues expected to be discussed between the two countries during the visit.

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a telephonic conversation with the Japanese Minister of Defence Taro Kono. The two Defence Ministers had discussions on enhancing the bilateral security cooperation under the framework of the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership. The Ministry of Defence said, both leaders also exchanged views on regional security situation.

  • A high level military delegation led by Lt. General Ranbir Singh, Commander of Indian Army’s Northern Command visited Xinjiang, the politically important north-west province of China bordering Pakistan occupied Kashmir on January 10. 2020. The visit is part of agreed Defence engagements between both sides agreed during Annual Defence dialogues. The visit is aimed at enhancing confidence building measures between armies of both sides, mainly Northern Command in India and Western Theatre Command in China to understand each other’s sensitivities on the ground and avoid misunderstandings along border.

  • Indian Consulate in Dubai will issue passports under the tatkal scheme on the same day with certain conditions. The announcement was made by Consul General Vipul on the occasion of the Pravasi Bhatiya Divas celebrations on January 9, 2020. The Consul General was addressing the Indian expats who had gathered in large number on the occasion. However, he said that the application for the passport had to be made before noon and additional fees will be charged for the service. The passport will be given to the applicant by the evening. Passports under the Tatkal scheme in any case were being given within 24 hours. The announcement came as a boon especially for people who have to travel under emergency condition. The Consulate in Dubai receives about 850 applications for passport applications. In 2019, the consulate issued more than 200,000 passports, over 2500 emergency certificates (one-way travel document), over 2,800 police clearance certificates and provided 72,000 attestation services including registration of births and deaths.

  • India signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Bangladesh for content exchange programme between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar. An MoU between National Film Development Corporation, India and Film Development Corporation, Bangladesh, was also signed. The MoUs were signed in the presence of Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and Bangladesh Information Minister Muhammad H Mahmud in New Delhi. 

    During the meeting, two Ministers also discussed about the jointly produced film on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. India and Bangladesh is co-producing the biopic expected to be released by March this year. Mr.Javadekar said, India and Bangladesh are organic friends and share great legacy. He said the MoU between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar will give more dimension to content exchange between the two countries.

  • India-China bilateral trade has continued to make steady growth in 2019. As per Chinese official data released, China-India bilateral trade stood at 639.52 billion yuans in 2019 which is 1.6 per cent increase year on year. However, in US dollar terms, it has dipped by 3 billion US dollars as compared to 2018 as overall global trade was moderated in 2019. Bilateral trade is projected to be about 92.68 billion dollars in 2019 while it was 95.7 billion US dollars in 2018, a record high till now. India’s Trade deficit with China also declined to about 56.77 billion US dollars in 2019 as compared to about 58 billion US dollars in 2018. Trade deficit has become a major concern in India-China bilateral relations. It is India’s biggest single trade deficit running with any country. India’s trade deficit is two-pronged, the sheer size of the deficit and its continuous widening year after year to reach 58.04 billion US dollars in 2018. 

  • The US has signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, concluding more than a year of tough negotiations including several months of suspension of talks between the two largest economies of the world. In his remarks, President Donald Trump called the trade agreement signing a momentous step to a future of fair and reciprocal trade. The first phase of the trade deal includes Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution. The deal was signed by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington. However, President Trump has refused to roll back the massive tariff imposed on the import of Chinese goods. During a signing ceremony at the White House, Trump said he will roll back the tariffs only if the second phase of the trade deal is signed between the two countries. The trade deal is considered as a major political and diplomatic victory for Trump. US President asserted that he will continue with his policies on tariffs.

Economy :
  • Reserve Bank of India has asked banks and other card-issuing companies to provide facility to customers to switch on and off their debit or credit cards, a move aimed at enhancing security for digital transactions. The RBI said that at the time of issue or re-issue, all cards (physical and virtual) should be enabled for use only at contact based points of usage ATMs and Point of Sale (PoS) devices within India. 

    The central Bank said issuers should provide cardholders a facility for enabling card not present (domestic and international) transactions, card present (international) transactions and contactless transactions. It said, the channels should include mobile application, internet banking, automated teller machines, or interactive voice response. The RBI further said that for existing cards, issuers may take a decision, based on their risk perception, whether to disable the card not present (domestic and international) transactions, card present (international) transactions and contactless transaction rights.

  • The government has constituted a five-member Advisory Board to vet all alleged frauds of a magnitude of at least Rs 50 crore in state-run banks and public financial institutions before these are referred to investigative agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a move aimed at distinguishing honest business decisions of bankers from the not-so-honest ones. The formation of the board was announced in an order issued by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

  • The GST revenue collection has crossed one lakh crore rupees in December last year, which is a growth of 16 per cent over the revenue collected in the same month in 2018. The total GST collected during last month was one lakh three thousand and 184 crore rupees. Finance Ministry said, a total of over 81 lakh GSTR 3B returns were filed for the month of November up to 31st December 2019.

  • Gujarat has received Rs.24,012-crore Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the first half of FY 2019-20. This is double the amount of Rs.12,612- crore FDI received during the entire previous FY 2018-19. This was revealed in a report of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. According to official release, 734 major industrial estates had been set up in Gujarat as against 2,574 units in the entire country following the the progressive, transparent, pro-people and industries friendly policies of the state government. The incentives extended to the entrepreneurs include facilitating land and necessary permissions for setting up industrial units, in more liberal terms than extended in other states. The state earned recognition as Manufacturing and Auto Sector Hubs due to the State Government’s holistic policies of no pendency and good governance.

  • The Indian economy is estimated to grow at 5 per cent in 2019-20 as against 6.8 per cent in the previous fiscal. According to the first advanced estimates of the national income released by National Statistical Office (NSO), the decline has been mainly on account of deceleration in manufacturing sector growth, which is expected to come down to 2 per cent in 2019-20 from 6.2 per cent in the year-ago fiscal. The deceleration was also witnessed in sectors like agriculture, construction and electricity, gas and water supply. Whereas, some sector, including mining, public administration, and defence, showed minor improvement.

  • The 13th tranche of electoral bonds sale will take place from 13th to 22nd of January 2020. Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding. Finance Ministry said, State Bank of India has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches. The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds took place in March 2018. According to provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last election of the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly will be eligible to receive electoral bonds. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly, with other individuals. An electoral bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue. No payment would be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period. The bond deposited by any eligible political party into its account would be credited on the same day.

  • Retail inflation rose to about five-and-half year high of 7.35 per cent in December 2019, surpassing the RBI's comfort level, mainly due to rise in prices of vegetables as onions. As per the data released by National Statistical Office (NSO) on January 13, 2020, the spike in inflation in the vegetable segment was 60.5 per cent during the month compared to December 2018. The overall retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 2.11 per cent in December 2018 and 5.54 per cent in November 2019. As per the data released by the NSO, the overall food inflation rose to 14.12 per cent in December as against (-) 2.65 per cent in the same month of 2018. The food inflation was 10.01 per cent in November 2019. The previous high in retail inflation was witnessed at 7.39 per cent in July 2014, the year Narendra Modi-led Government assumed office for the first term. 

    The inflation in 'pulses and products' was recorded at 15.44 per cent, while in case of meat and fish it was nearly 10 per cent. The Central Government has mandated the Reserve Bank of India to keep inflation in the range of four per cent with a margin of two per cent on the either side. The RBI, which mainly factors in the CPI-based inflation, is scheduled to announce its next bi-monthly monetary policy on 6th of February. In its December policy, the Central Bank, which had been reducing rates, had kept the repo rate unchanged citing inflationary concerns.

  • Wholesale prices based inflation surged to 2.59 per cent in December 2019, as against 0.58 per cent in November due to increase in prices of food articles like onion and potato. The annual inflation, based on the monthly wholesale price index (WPI), was at 3.46 per cent during December a year ago. According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the rate of price rise for food articles rose to 13.12 per cent during December 2019 as against 11 per cent a month earlier, while for non-food articles it rose nearly four-fold to 7.72 per cent from 1.93 per cent in November. Among food articles, vegetable prices surged by 69.69 per cent mainly on account of onion, which witnessed around 456 per cent jump in prices, followed by potato at around 45 per cent. The consumer price index-based retail inflation, as per data released, spiked to over a 5-year high of 7.35 per cent in December 2019 due to costlier food products.

Business :
  • Inc will invest $1 billion in digitising small- and medium-businesses in India and expects to export $10 billion worth of India-made goods by 2025. Amazon has committed $5.5 billion in India investments and sees the country as a key growth market.

  • The industrial output grew 1.8 per cent in November last year, turning positive after three months of contraction, on account of growth in the manufacturing sector. According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) data released on January 10, 2020, the growth in the manufacturing sector was 2.7 per cent as against a contraction of 0.7 per cent in November 2018. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had grown by 0.2 per cent in November 2018. In November 2019, Electricity generation turned negative (-) 5 per cent as against a growth of 5.1 per cent in November 2018. Mining sector output decelerated to 1.7 per cent from 2.7 per cent in the year ago month. The IIP growth during April-November period of the current fiscal came in at 0.6 per cent, down from 5 per cent in the same period of 2018-19.

  • Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India, CCI has ordered a probe against Flipkart and Amazon for alleged malpractices, including deep discounting and tie-ups with preferred sellers.

Appointments :
  • The government has appointed Michael Debabrata Patra as the Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved his name for a three-year tenure.

  • Senior Indian Advocate Harish Salve has been appointed as the Queen's Counsel (QC) for the courts of England and Wales. The title of the Queen's Counsel is conferred upon those who have demonstrated particular skill and expertise in the legal field. Harish Salve’s appointment was announced when the UK’s Ministry of Justice released the new list of silk appointments on January 13, 2020. The renowned lawyer will be formally appointed to the position on March 16, 2020.

  • Vinod Kumar Yadav has assumed the charge of Chairman, Railway Board after being reappointed.

Persons :
  • Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen secured a landslide victory in presidential elections with voters resoundingly handing its first female leader a second term.

  • In the West African state of Guinea-Bissau, Opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo has won presidential elections, picking up 53.55 per cent of votes. His rival Domingos Simoes Pereira, head of the country's ruling party PAIGC, bagged 46.45 percent votes.

  • Former Governor of Karnataka T N Chaturvedi passed away.

  • IPS officer Anand Prakash Maheshwari took over as the new director general of the CRPF. CRPF is the world's largest paramilitary force with about 3.25 lakh personnel.

Day :
  • India is celebrating 72nd Army Day on January 15, 2020. Mr Modi said, the Indian Army is the pride of Mother India. This day is celebrated every year on this day because Field Marshal KM Cariappa took command of the Indian Army from General Francis Butcher on the same day in 1949. The Indian Army was formed in 1776 by the East India Company in Kolkata. The Indian Army is among the world's three largest armies including China and the United States. Indian Army is deployed on the Siachen Glacier which is five thousand meters above sea level. It is the highest battlefield in the world. The motto of the Indian Army is 'Service Before Self'.

  • The nation is celebrating birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12, 2020. Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary is also celebrated as National Youth Day in the country.

Awards :
  • ICC Awards 2019 - List if winners :
    Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy - Ben Stokes
    ODI Cricketer of the Year – Rohit Sharma
    Test Cricketer of the Year - Pat Cummins
    Spirit of Cricket Award - Virat Kohli
    Associate Cricketer of the Year - Kyle Coetzer
    ICC Men's Emerging Cricketer - Marnus Labuschagne
    T20I Performance of the Year - Deepak Chahar
    2019 Umpire of the Year - Richard Illingworth 

    ICC ODI Team of the Year 2019: Jonny Bairstow, Rohit Sharma, , Virat Kohli (c), Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ross Taylor, Ben Stokes, Mustafizur Rahman, Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah 

    ICC Test Team of the Year 2019: Mayank Agarwal, Tom Latham, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli (c), Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, BJ Watling, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Neil Wagner, Nathan Lyon

  • Screen Actors Guild Awards: The 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) were presented at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on January 19, 2020. 

    South Korean film Parasite is the first foreign-language film to win the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. 
    Renée Zellweger won the 'Best Actress' for Judy
    Joaquin Phoenix won 'Best Actor' for Joker. 

    In television awards, Crown won the SAG award for 'Best Ensemble in Drama Series'
    Jennifer Aniston won 'Best Actress' in drama series for her role in the Morning Show and 
    Peter Dinklage won 'Best Actor' for his role in the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.

    Game of Thrones took home two key awards- Best actor in a drama series and Best action. 
    Avengers: Endgame won SAG award for 'Best Action in a motion picture'. 

  • Sindhi writer Vasdev Mohi has conferred with 29th Saraswati Samman for his short stories collection 'Chequebook'. The short stories collection talks about the agonies and sufferings of marginalized sections of the society. SaraswatiSamman is given annually by the KK Birla Foundation. It carries a cash award of Rs.15 lakh rupees, a citation, and a plaque.

  • Nari Shakti Puraskar 2019 to be conferred on March 8. The awards will be conferred on the 8th of March on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The national award is given annually to individuals, groups, institutions in recognition of their exceptional work towards the women empowerment, especially for vulnerable and marginalized women.

  • India-born author Jasbinder Bilan has bagged a coveted UK children's book award for her debut novel 'Asha and the Spirit Bird'. The story set in the Himalayan territory of her Indian roots and inspired by the special childhood bond with her grandmother. Bilan will receive 5,000 pounds as the winner of the award.

  • Nitin Gadkari presents National Highway Excellence Awards 2019. During the event, Minister of State for Road, Transport and Highway, V.K. Singh said, infrastructure is important for the economy and it accelerates the economic activity in the country. Instituted in the year 2018, National Highway Excellence Awards aim to recognize the well-performing companies in the field of construction, operations, maintenance, toll collection and road safety on National Highways.

Defence :
  • India successfully test fired nuclear-capable, K-4 ballistic missile off the coast of Andhra Pradesh on January 19, 2020. It has a strike range of 3500km. The K-4 ballistic missile was launched from an underwater platform in the sea. It can be launched from a submarine. It will be deployed on the fleet of the Arihant Class nuclear submarines being built by India. The missile was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile launch is aimed at strengthening India’s capabilities to hit enemy targets from submarines. With this, India has moved a step further in inducting the ballistic missile on the INS Arihant class of nuclear submarines. 

    K-4 is one of the two underwater missiles that India is developing for its submarine force. While one has a strike range of 3500km, the other one will have a strike range of 700km. The three-meter tall missile carries a nuclear warhead of over one tone. It has a circular error probability far lower than that of the Chinese ballistic missiles. The submarine-launched ballistic missile is extremely significant for India’s air, land and sea nuclear triad and it is at the front of India’s second-strike capability. Till now, only the US, Russia and China have submarine-launched ballistic missiles with a strike range of 3,500km.

  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has partnered with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to produce the Saras engine.

    1.) CSIR will take up the project jointly designing and developing an aero-engine which is a highly complex task.
    2.) All major systems of the Saras engine, except the power plants, are indigenous.
    3.) The prototype version of the Saras is being developed by the CSIR's National Aeronautical Laboratory (NAL).
    4.) The engine is powered by two Canadian Pratt and Whitney PT6A turboprop engines.
    5.) These are mounted on the rear of the fuselage instead of the wings and face rearwards.
    6.) A 14-passenger Saras plane which is currently undergoing flight trials will also have the capability to taxi in reverse. This special feature is not very common in aircraft.
    7.) Taxiing in reverse requires the jet blast from the engines to be directed forwards.
    8.) Before approving the design, the NAL will conduct 20 test flights of the Saras.
    9.) The engine will be produced by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh flagged off 51st K9 VAJRA-T Gun from Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Armoured System Complex at Hazira, Gujarat on 16 January 2020. The participation of the private sector in defence manufacturing is toward fulfilling the government's commitment to make India an arms manufacturing hub and net defence exporter. 

    51st K9 VAJRA-T gun weighs 50 tonnes. It can fire 47kg bombs at 43 kilometre distant targets. It can also turn around at zero radius. In 2017, L&T won the Rs.4,500 crore contract from the Ministry of Defence to supply 100 units of K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun systems to the Indian Army. The K9 Vajra contract involves the delivery of 100 such systems in 42 months. This is the largest contract awarded to a private company by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

  • The Indian Army conducted the airborne Exercise Winged Raider in the North-Eastern theatre on 10th January 2020. It is the Army's biggest airborne exercise. It comprises of more than 500 Special Forces troops. It was conducted from 6-10 January. The exercises focused on the frontier with China.

  • The Japan Coast Guard Ship ‘Echigo’ has arrived Chennai on January 14, 2020, on a five-day goodwill visit. It will be participating in the Annual Joint Exercise ‘Sahyog-Kaijin’ with the Indian Coast Guard of Chennai. This is the 19th such exercise being conducted between the two Coast Guards since 2000. It is being witnessed by Admiral Takahiro Okushima, Commandant, Japan Coast Guard and the Director-General of Indian Coast Guard Krishnaswamy Natarajan. Four Indian Coast Guard ships, their aircraft and a vessel from the Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology - NIOT are participating in the exercise along with the Japanese vessel. 

    It is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties and mutual understanding between the two Coast Guards. It is set to enhance interoperability in communication and Search and Rescue procedures and sharing of best practices. It will help both the Coast Guards to work together in protecting shared interests whenever such need arises, in responding to threats of piracy or humanitarian crisis.

  • The naval version of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, LCA, made its first successful landing on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on January 11, 2020. This aircraft is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO. With the successful landing of Light Combat Aircraft, LCA on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, India has entered into the club of selected nations having the capability to design a fighter jet which can land on an aircraft carrier. Commodore Jaideep Maolankar conducted the maiden landing. LCA is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class. The LCA programme intends to further expand and advance India's indigenous aerospace capabilities.

  • India to acquire 200 fighter jets for Air Force. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar has said, the government is in the process of acquiring around 200 aircraft to cope with the depleting aerial inventories of the Indian Air Force.

  • The Indian Army Ocean Sailing Expedition from Mumbai to Okhain Gujarat was flagged off in Mumbai on January 15, 2020. The team will be sailing inthe Arabian Sea and will return to Mumbai on January 27. The 13-day exercise will test the skill of sailors on high seas. The 43-member expedition, comprises four more officers, twoJunior Commissioned Officers and 35 other ranks from various arms and servicesto include Engineers, Electronic Mechanical Engineers, Signals, Sikh LightInfantry and Maratha Light Infantry troops. The team will sail in four non-motorised Seabird class boats,supported by ground support team, which will move along the coastal land routefor immediate support.

Science & Technology :
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched ‘GSAT-30’ from French Guiana on January 17, 2020. The launch of the high power communication satellite is ISRO’s first satellite launch of the year 2020. The GSAT-30 communication satellite will aim to provide high-quality telecommunications, television and broadcasting services. GSAT-30 communication satellite was launched aboard Ariane 5 launch vehicle (VA 251) from French Guiana early morning on January 17. The satellite with an approximate weight of 3357 kg will have a mission life of more than 15 years. GSAT 30 will serve as a replacement to INSAT-4A spacecraft services with enhanced coverage. The satellite was launched along with the European Space Company’s telecommunication satellite- Eutelsat Konnect. 

    • GSAT-30 is an operational communication satellite with a mission life of up to 15 years. It has been configured to give a boost to communication services such as television uplink, DTH, digital satellite news and VSAT. It weighs approximately 3357 kg.
    • The satellite derives its heritage from ISRO's previous INSAT/GSAT satellite series. It will replace INSAT-4A spacecraft services with enhanced coverage.
    • It will mainly provide Indian mainland and island coverage in Ku-band. It will also provide extended coverage in C-band, which will help television broadcasters to broadcast their programmes across India, Australia, Gulf nations and a large number of Asian countries.
    • The satellite was launched by ISRO in collaboration with the European aerospace company Arianespace. The launch marks Ariane V launch vehicle’s 107th flight.
    • The launch vehicle first placed GSAT-30 in its designated orbit, followed by the release of Konnect. The full mission lasted for approximately 38 minutes and 25 seconds from liftoff to final separation. GSAT 30 successfully separated from the upper stage of Ariane 5.

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced that it will provide support to state governments to help them set up monitoring centres that will track public service vehicles including buses and cab operators like Ola and Uber. The move aims to ensure the safety of passengers using public transport in the country. Earlier, due to lack of funds, the State governments were not able to set up vehicle monitoring centres. The Centre aims to provide a grant to states for effective implementation of the system. States like Kerala and Uttarakhand have established the centres but was not even able to know if public vehicles have these features since there is no body established to monitor these 

    Transport vehicles monitoring centres :Supreme Court-mandated all public transport vehicles to have vehicle tracking systems and emergency buttons with effect from 1 January 2020. All the states have made small progress in setting up the monitoring centres. Hence, the transport ministry is to provide financial support under the Nirbhaya Fund which is managed by the Ministry of Women & child development. The estimated cost of the project is Rs.463 crore. Out of the total estimated amount, the Centre will bear Rs.332 crore, while the states will share Rs.131 crore.

  • Scientists discovered a new species of bone-eating worm during a study to investigate the deep ocean's ecosystem. The bone-eating worm is yet to be named. It is the first of its kind found in the Gulf of Mexico. The bone-eating worm belongs to the Osedax family, a genus of deep-sea bone worms.

  • NASA’s planet hunter satellite TESS has discovered an exoplanet orbiting two stars instead of one - and it was identified by a high school intern. But the newly found planet's size alone — it is 6.9 times larger than Earth, almost the size of Saturn — makes it unlikely to be livable. Named TOI 1338 b, it is the only planet in the TOI 1338 system, which lies 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor, and orbits its stars every 95 days. The two stars orbit each other every 15 days. One is about 10 percent bigger than our Sun, while the other is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun’s mass. TOI 1338 b was identified by Wolf Cukier.

  • Border Roads Organization (BRO) has inducted hi-tech snow clearance and cutting machines in Jammu and Kashmir which are state of the art snow clearance equipment that clear one kilometre of snow in just three hours. Snowfall in winter blocks important strategic roads including the Srinagar-Leh, Jammu-Srinagar, Gurez-Bandipora and Kupwara-Karnah highways which takes a lot of time for clearance. To deal with the problem, seven high-tech snow cutter FRESIA machines have been purchased by the BRO from Italy for swift snow cutting and clearance of these important highways and passes. BRO so far have received four of the machines and the rest will be imported soon. The machines have been put to use at Jawahar tunnel on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, Tregbal in Bandipora-Gurez road, Nowgam in Handwara and Sadhna Pass in Tanghdar, Kupwara. These machines can operate at an altitude of even 18,500 feet and above and have the capability of clearing 5,000 tonnes of snow per hour.

Sports :
  • Anshu Malik won silver in 2020 Rome Ranking Series. Indian teenage wrestler Anshu Malik won in the women's 57kg freestyle event of the season 's first major competition, the Ranking Series in Rome. She lost to Nigeria's Odunayo Adekuoroye for the score 10-0. Rome Ranking Series 2020 was announced by the United World Wrestling. The event is being held from 15-18 January 2020. The event included all three wrestling styles: freestyle, women's wrestling, and Greco-Roman and will influence seeding for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Series will influence the top four seeds at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

  • Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was picked as captain of ESPN Cricinfo's ODI and Twenty20 teams of the decade, while Virat Kohli was named the leader in Tests. Former skipper Mithali Raj and fast bowler Jhulan Goswami were named in the same women's team picked for both the ODIs and T20s. Australia's inspirational cricketer, Meg Lanning was named the captain of the side.

  • Indian Blind Sports Association (IBSA) is organizing week-long sports events for the blind from 6 to 11 January, 2020 in the premises of The BlindRelief Association, Delhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, near the Oberoi Hotel, NewDelhi. Over 400 participants, including 85 female blind sports persons from 7 states, namely, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,Rajasthan, Tamilnadu and Telangana will be taking part in these events.

  • Ace shooter Saurabh Chaudhary has won the men's 10 metres air pistol gold at the 63rd National Shooting Championship in Bhopal. The 17-year-old from Uttar Pradesh shot a classy 246.4 to finish on top. Second-placed Sarabjot Singh of Haryana was well behind with a score of 243.9, while world number two Abhishek Verma settled for bronze in a high-quality final. Abhishek and Sarabjot together won the team gold for Haryana. Sarabjot also won the junior men's gold for a profitable day. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh picked up a clutch of golds as well.

  • India's P Magesh Chandran lifted the title in the 95th edition of the prestigious Hastings International Chess Congress at Hastings in England.

  • The first edition of Khelo India University Games is scheduled to be held at the KIIT University in Bhubaneswar from February 22nd to March 1st.

  • India finished the year 2019 as the top shooting nation in the world, leaving behind Olympic heavyweights China and the USA. In terms of overall medals, the tally stood at 21 gold, six silver and three bronze as India topped all the Rifle-Pistol World Cups and Finals in a unforgettable year. While India leads the standings with 30 medals overall, China is second with 11 gold, 15 silver and 18 bronze for a total of 44 podium finishes. The USA is placed third with 15 medals including six gold six silver and three bronze.

  • Ladakh is going to witness a unique game event termed as 'The Last Game' of Ice Hockey on 15th January 2020. This game is to raise the awareness on the impact of climate change on fragile environment of the region. In collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Randstad, the event is hosted by the Hockey Foundation and Ladakh Winter Sports Club. United Nations Climate Change has chosen a unique way to create awareness on Climate Change impact on the world through the Last Game of Ice Hockey. The Himalayas, also known as third pole of the world, are susceptible to the adverse effects of Climate Change.

Environment :
  • The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has announced to relax the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules to get Blue Flag certification. These rules restrict the construction work around sea beaches. MoEF selected 13 beaches of India for the Blue Flag certification in 2019. The CRZ rules of India do not allow any infrastructure on sea beaches and islands. Blue Flag certification asks to create some fundamental infrastructures at beaches like solar water plants, portable toilets, CCTV, etc. 

    ‘Blue Flag’ is an international certification of environmental properties and cleanliness on beaches. A ‘Blue Flag’ beach provides hygienic and clean bathing water, basic infrastructure to tourists and sustainable development in the area. This concept was started in France in 1985 while Europe adopted the ‘Blue Flag’ program in 1987. However, South Africa was the first outside European country that joined the program in 2001. Spain has the largest number of 566 Blue Flag beaches while Greece and France have 515 and 395 such blue flag beaches respectively. Chandrabhaga beach located on the Konark coast of Odisha is the first beach in the country to receive 'Blue Flag Certification'. 
    Highlights :
    • The central government has issued a notice that some construction activities and facilities will be allowed for Blue Flag certification.
    • However, the government has made it clear that these construction activities should have a distance of 10 meters from the High Tide Line.
    • Earlier, in 2019, the government selected 13 Indian beaches for Blue Tag certification.

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recently issued guidelines to establish petrol pumps. These instructions have been issued because of the poor impact of petrol pumps on the environment. The Central Pollution Control Board has issued new guidelines keeping in view the directives of the National Green Tribunal. 

    CPCB guidelines:
    • Oil marketing companies must ensure that new petrol pumps should be at least 50 meters away from schools, hospitals, and residential areas.
    • All these oil companies have been directed to install the Vapor Recovery System (VRS) at all those stations where about 300-kilo liters of oil is sold every month.
    • According to the new guidelines, the State Pollution Regulatory Board will impose an environmental penalty equal to the price of VRS in case of non-installation of VRS.
    • These guidelines have been issued by a committee consisting of members of IIT Kanpur, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), CPCB and Ministry of Petroleum.

  • Jammu and Kashmir has figured among top five states of the country in terms of increase in its forest cover area over past two years which is a significant achievement in forest conservation. As per biennial report of Forest Survey of India, Dehradun, J&K has figured among the top five states that have registered a maximum increase in forest cover during the last two years. Dr. Mohit Gera, Pr. Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K informed that as per the report, J&K has tree growing stock of 144.16 cubic meter per hectare which is the highest among all the States and UT's of the country. Commissioner Secretary Forest, Ecology & Environment, Manoj K. Dwivedi appreciated the efforts of officers and frontline staff of the Forest Department in protecting and managing the forest effectively.

  • Environment and Forests Ministry has approved the release of Grant-in-Aid of 2.6 crore rupees to J&K Pollution Control Board. Under this scheme, the JK PCB shall provide financial assistance to 3742 number of Eco Clubs of registered schools in both the regions of J&K along with 96 Eco-Clubs for registered Colleges. The environment education, awareness and Training scheme of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt. of India for National Green Corps (Eco-Clubs) which was closed for over a decade has been revived for J&K.

  • India for the first time ranks among the top ten in the Climate Change Performance Index, CCPI, which goes further to prove that all efforts and activities being currently undertaken by the government are setting a tone of vast improvements. Government aims to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 175 GigaWatt by 2022 and further take it to 450 GW. A time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme was launched last year. India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing. The total forest and tree cover rises to over 24 percent of the total geographical area of the Country. Government is taking all possible steps to protect the tiger. According to the latest tiger census data -2018, the total tigers in India has risen to around three thousand. In a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country, government handed over 47 thousand crore rupees of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, CAMPA funds to various states in August last year.

  • Assam state zoo first to breed endangered Hargila. The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and Aaranyak has jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform within the zoo enclosure, in the first ever experiment of its kind. This rarest of storks, the Hargila is currently on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss stemming from indiscriminate felling of big trees and dwindling wetlands.

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), has launched paperless licensing process for road tankers for transportation of petroleum. This is a significant move towards paperless and green India that will provide simpler mechanism, ease of living and business to the petroleum road tanker owners. Moving towards digitization, the process will include filing the applications online. Applicants, at each stage of processing of the application, will be intimated via SMS and email, whether discrepancy or grant of licence or approval. This initiative is directly going to benefit more than one lakh petroleum road tanker owners.

  • Department of Cane Development has started farmer awareness campaign to protect the sugarcane crop from locust or Grasshopper in Uttar Pradesh. In view of the outbreak of this pest in Gujarat and Rajasthan, state Commissioner, Cane and Sugar, Sanjay R. Bhoosreddy issued instructions to all departmental officers and scientists of Sugarcane Research Centers to conduct awareness campaign among farmers to protect the sugarcane crop from these pests in the state. Farmers have been advised to clean the grass on boundary of fields to protect it from Grasshoppers, as it lays eggs in the grass. Grasshoppers are afraid of noise. Therefore, in the event of their widespread outbreak, drum, plate etc should be played so that they run away out of fear.

  • The world's oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in recorded human history. This was disclosed by a study published in the journal Advances inAtmospheric Sciences. The researchers noted that the year 2019 broke theprevious records set in prior years for global warming, and the effects arealready appearing in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels andharm to ocean animals. The study also found that the past ten years have been the warmest on recordfor global ocean temperatures, with the last five years holding the highestrecord.

  • The West Bengal government is planning to set up dedicated green corridors for hassle-free movements of transport during medical emergencies. According to State Transport Department sources, the step is being taken in coordination with the State Pollution Control Board and Kolkata Police following a rise in the number of organ transplantation cases in the city over last two years. The route for the corridors has been identified and work has begun to design a GPS supported mobile app to run the project. The dedicated corridor will ensure that patients reach hospitals at the shortest possible time.


2020 January 1 to 14 - Current Affairs

International :
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released its year-end report on December 31, 2019, which termed the past decade as a ‘Deadly Decade’ for children in conflict with more than 1,70,000 grave violations against children since 2010. The report revealed the number of grave violations against children increased almost three-fold since the beginning of the decade, amounting to almost 45 violations every single day. 

    The report stated that since 1989, the number of countries experiencing conflicts increased and as a result the violations against children also increased. The UNICEF report highlighted how killing, maiming, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups cost millions of children their childhoods, dreams and even their lives in the past decade. 

    Highlights :
    • The UN report stated that the number of attacks on children increased by almost three-fold since 2010, hence UNICEF named the decade as ‘Deadly Decade’.
    • The number of countries experiencing violence was also reported to have increased since 1989, the year when the Convention on Rights of Child was passed.
    • Further, the UNICEF report stated that around 24,000 grave violations against children were recorded in 2018. In 2019, there were more than 10,000 violations in the first half itself.
    • The violations against children include killing, sexual violence, maiming, abduction and recruitment into armed groups and terrorist attacks.
    • The violations were more prevalent in countries experiencing heavy-armed conflicts including northern Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • India recorded the birth of 67,385 children on the first day of New-Year 2020 which is the highest number in the world. According to the UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund total 3,92,078 babies born around the world on January 01, 2020. India recorded a maximum number of newborn babies on the first day of 2020. India is followed by China, where 46,299 children were born on the first day of New Year 2020.

  • World Braille Day was observed across the world on January 4, 2020. The day commemorates the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille. It is observed to spread awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication. The day was first observed in 2019. 
    Braille is a tactile writing system, which was invented for people with visual disabilities. The inventor Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 in the town of Coupvray in northern France. Louis Braille had lost both his eyes in an accident at the early age of 3 years. This led him to invent the Braille system, the language of 6 dots

  • Iran’s parliament passed a bill designating all forces of the United States as terrorists on January 7, 2020. The move comes after the US forces killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in a US airstrike. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, was killed during a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020. The strike attracted strong reactions from Iran, which announced that it will not limit itself to the restrictions set under the 2015 Nuclear deal.

  • President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari launched much-awaited Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign amidst a spectacular ceremony held at historic Dasaratha Rangashala in Kathmandu on 01 January, 2020. The ambitious campaign is aimed to promote tourism in Nepal and attract 2 million tourists during the year 2020.

  • World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. It is done to honor the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. WHO is the collaborating partner in the three- year Nursing Now Campaign (2018–2020). The main objective of the campaign is to improve health globally by raising the status and profile of nursing.

  • The UAE Cabinet has approved the issuance of a five-year multi-entry tourist visa for all nationalities visiting the country. The decision was made during the Cabinet's first meeting of 2020. The move comes in a bid to support the UAE's tourism economy, and affirm the country's position as a global tourist destination. The country receives 21 million tourists annually and their aim is to establish the country as a major global tourist destination. The decision is also likely to benefit the near and dear ones of the lakhs of expat population staying in UAE.

  • The first phase of the world’s second largest Muslim congregation after Haj began on the outskirts of Dhaka. Thousands of devotees from Bangladesh and abroad are thronging the bank of river Turag at Tongi near Dhaka to participate in the congregation called BishwaIjtema. The BishwaIjtema began with the ‘aambayan’ and will end on January 12 with the final prayers ‘AkheriMunajat’.

National :
  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the flagship ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme to support lakhs of below poverty line mothers or guardians to educate their children. The Amma Vodi scheme is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the country, which is aimed at bringing significant changes in the education system of Andhra Pradesh. 

    Under the Rs 6318 crore scheme, the state will provide direct financial assistance worth Rs 15000 annually to poor and financially weak mothers or guardians, to support them in educating their children. The amount will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries in January every year. The state government has credited the annual financial assistance under the Amma Vodi scheme for the year 2020 into the accounts of 43 lakh poor and needy mothers/ guardians, which is expected to benefit around 82 lakh children in the state. 

    The Andhra Pradesh government has also planned to revamp the infrastructure in the state’s educational institutions and has allocated budget worth of Rs 14,000 crore to enable the same. The state will take up modernisation works in a phased manner in 45,000 government schools, 471 Junior colleges, 148 degree colleges and hostels. The state has also decided to use English as a medium of instruction from class 1 to class 6 in all government schools from this academic year. In 4 years, the state will also direct class 10 board education to be taken in English medium.

  • Citizenship Amendment Act came into effect as the central government has issued a notification for the revised citizenship act on January 10, 2020. According to this law, minorities of Hindu, Jain, Parsi, Sikh, Christian, and Buddhist communities who have come to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and have suffered religious persecution in their countries will not be considered as illegal migrants. Instead, they will be given Indian citizenship. The Central Government decided to implement this law from January 10, 2020, under sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The new citizenship act was passed from Parliament on December 11, 2019. 

    Highlights of CAA :
    • According to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), refugees from these six communities will be given citizenship of India after staying in India for five years. Earlier this limit was 11 years.
    • According to the act, such refugees will also be excused from lawsuits if they are found non-law migrants.
    • The CAA will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, as these areas are included in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
    • At the same time, this law will also not be applicable in the areas of Inner Line Permit (ILP) notified under Bengal Eastern Border Regulation, 1873.
    • ILP is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram.

  • The Election Commission has launched a new online tracking system for political parties, which will allow them to track their registration applications submitted to the poll panel on a real-time basis. The new system, Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System (PPRTMS), will apply for parties registering from January 1, 2020. The online system will enable those applying for the party registration from January 1 to track the progress of their application using the system. The users will get status updates through SMS and e-mail. 

    The registration of political parties is governed under the provisions of section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Those seeking registration of a political party have to submit an application to the Commission within 30 days from the date of its formation The application has to be filed in the prescribed format with the basic details about the party including name, address, membership details of various units and the names of the office-bearers. All particulars regarding the filing of the party registration application have been specified under sub-section (4) and sub-section (6) of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

  • The Maharashtra government launched a ‘cyber safe women’ campaign across the state on January 3, 2019, on the birth anniversary of Indian social reformer, Savitribai Phule. The cyber safe women initiative aims to spread awareness regarding the atrocities committed against women and children as well as the laws regarding cyber crime.

  • The 107th Indian Science Congress (ISC) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 3, 2019 at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru. While delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister said that India’s growth story depends on its achievements in the Science and Technology sector and reiterated the need to revolutionise the landscape of Indian Science Technology and Innovation. 

    PM Modi gave the motto of “Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper” to the young scientists in the country, saying that these four steps will lead India towards faster development. He stated that “innovation for the people and by the people is the direction of New India.” It aims to bridge the gap between farmer and tech-developers. Many of the innovations have helped in enhancing market access, crop productivity and diversifying rural livelihood profiles. However, the gap between the farmers and innovators has resulted in only partial exploration of the benefits.

  • The second round of Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0 was launched at block level in 35 districts of Uttar Pradesh on January 6, 2020. The mission aims to achieve 90 percent vaccination coverage among children below the age of 2 years.

  • Vikram Sarabhai Children Innovation Center (VSCIC) will be set up soon in Gujarat. The announcement for the same was made by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani while speaking during the felicitation ceremony of Children’s Innovation Festival (CIF) in Gandhinagar on January 6, 2020 The Vikram Sarabhai Children Innovation Center will be set up to identify, nurture and promote innovation by children in the state. The centre will work towards identifying children with ideas and then nurture and support them.

  • Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated every year on January 09. The purpose of celebration is to recognize the overseas Indians who have contributed to the development of India. This day was first celebrated in 2003. This is celebrated on January 09 because Mahatma Gandhi returned India from South Africa on January 09, 1915. Mahatma Gandhi is considered as the greatest migrant who not only led India's freedom struggle but also changed the lives of Indians forever. That is why Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated on January 09. 

    Its objective is to provide a platform for NRIs to express their feelings and perceptions about India. Another objective of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is to create a network of NRIs in all the countries of the world and connecting the younger generation with immigrants. This day is celebrated to know the difficulties faced by the Indian laborers living abroad and the government resolve their issues. On this day, the government puts a focus on reconnecting overseas Indians with their roots so that they can contribute significantly to the development of the country.

  • The Government has approved 'Viability Gap Funding' worth Rs 5559 crores to set up a natural gas pipeline grid in the North East. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to the project on January 8, 2020. Under the project, a capital grant worth Rs 5559 crores will be provided to Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited to build a natural gas pipeline grid covering eight north eastern states. This is the second such funding approved by the Union Government for a gas pipeline project. 

    The Natural Gas Pipeline Grid will be developed in the eight states of the north east including Sikkim and the seven sisters- Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The total length of the pipeline will be 1656 km. It will connect Guwahati in Assam to other major cities in the region such as Agartala, Aizawl, Kohima, Imphal, Dimapur and Itanagar. The Natural Gas Pipeline Grid project is a significant step towards achieving the central government’s Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for the North-East.

  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked all the people possessing and flying drones to register their gadgets by January 31, 2020. Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said in a public notice that if they violate the rules then appropriate action will be taken against them under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Aircraft Act. The ministry said in a notice that there are some drones and drone operators who do not comply with the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) standards. Drone registration started on January 14, 2020. 

    Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued this notice soon after a missile attack place through a drone on Iran. DGCA has said that a one-time drone registration opportunity is being given to the drone owners and operators. DGCA has said that all persons in possession of drones have to complete the online registration process by January 31, 2020. DGCA has informed that a Drone Acknowledgement Number (DAN) will be issued when registration will be completed. DCA clarified that DAN doesn’t confer any right to fly drones in India if provisions are given in Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) does not fulfill. 

    The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) implemented the CAR in August 2018 for drones. Drone owners have to get a unique identification number (UIN) for the drone under this rule. As per these rules, it is illegal to fly a drone without its registration. All those drone owners who make voluntary announcement will get two unique numbers.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi electronically released 12,000 crore rupees under Pradhan Mantri Samaan Yojana to six crore farmers in Tumakuru. He awarded the Krishi Karman Award to the progressive farmers from 21 states. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka gave deep sea fishing boats and transponders that will help them to navigate in the deep sea. Prime Minister emphasized on agro exports, value-addition of produce, marketing, and doubling of farmers income by 2022. The individual programs are launched for coffee, rubber, coconut, cashew, and pulses. The government is committed to improving irrigation facilities and providing skills to the agriculturists.

  • The National Green Corps scheme, which was closed for over a decade, has been revived for Jammu and Kashmir. Under this scheme, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) would provide financial assistance to 3,742 Eco Clubs of registered schools in both the regions of the UT. The Environment and Forests Ministry has approved the release of Grant-in-Aid of 2.60 crore rupees to J&K PCB.

  • The Indian Railways has integrated its helpline numbers into a single number -- 139 for quick grievance redressal and enquiries by passengers during their train journeys. The new helpline number 139 will take over all the existing helpline numbers. It will be easy for passengers to remember this number and connect with Railways for all their needs during train travel. The Helpline 139 will be available in twelve languages. It will be based on Interactive Voice Response System. A call can be made on this number from any mobile phone and not just smart phones, thus, providing easy access to all mobile users.

  • Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani unveils the second tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the world at Ahmedabad. Around 50 feet tall bronze statue with a weight of 70 thousand kilograms unveiled at the Sardardham campus near the Vaishnodevi Circle in Ahmedabad. It is the second-highest statue of India’s first home minister after the Statue of Unity of the legendary leader situated at Kevadiya in the Narmada district of Central Gujarat.

  • Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said that "One Nation One Ration Card" scheme has been implemented in 12 states. The 12 states are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, and Jharkhand. Under this scheme, beneficiaries can buy subsidised food grains from ration shops in any of these 12 states.

  • Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy inaugurated YSR Aarogyasri scheme at Eluru on 3 Jan 2020. The scheme is aimed at providing free medical treatment to the poor. Over one crore individuals will be benefited under this new health scheme. A total of 2,059 medical ailments have been covered under the scheme. In all, 16,37,230 Aarogyasri cards will be distributed across the State.

  • Kolkata Police started the 3rd edition of its 'Sukanya' project on 6 Jan 2020 to provide girls studying in schools and colleges in the city with self-defence training. Girl students of VIII, IX, XI and girls studying in the first year at educational institutions will be part of it. The initiative is funded by Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department of the state government.

  • Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari asserted that he wants to create a 50,000-crore rupees ethanol economy. The bio-fuel will benefit both ecology and economy. If the use of ethanol is increased, it will help ecologically and economically as import of crude oil will go down and it will benefit ecology and economy.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interaction Programme with school students, Pariksha Pe Charcha-2020 will be held in New Delhi on 20th January, 2020. In this programme, the Prime Minister will interact with the cross section of Students and Teachers from India and abroad to beat exam stress. Around two thousand students, parents and teachers will be participating in it. Last month, Human Resource Development Ministry launched a short essay competition for students of Class 9 to 12 for the third edition of this event. Selected winners of this competition will get a chance to attend Pariksha Pe Charcha and interact with Mr Modi. The first edition of Pariksha Pe Charcha was held on 16th February, 2018 and second on 29th of January, 2019.

  • The Cabinet approved conferring the status of Institution of National Importance to a cluster of Ayurvedic institutions at Gujarat Ayurved University campus in Jamnagar. The elevation of the status of institution will provide it with the autonomy to upgrade the standard of Ayurveda education, frame various courses in Ayurveda as per national and international demand. It will help the institute to develop tertiary care in Ayurveda and to secure inter-disciplinary collaborations to give a contemporary thrust to Ayurveda. 

    Considering the rapidly growing role of AYUSH Systems in addressing the Public Health challenges of India, conferring the status of National Importance will boost the role and importance of Ayurveda in Public Health. The strengthening of Ayurveda will reduce government expenditure on health as Ayurveda is cost-effective because of its preventive and curative approaches. A bill to that effect will be introduced in the ensuing Session of Parliament.

  • The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has announced the implementation of its new certificate design in all its nine regional offices across India. The new design underlines the positive, user-friendly and dynamic approach of the CBFC and its board. The new certificate will provide all the information and basic certification data about the film from cast credits details to synopsis, plot, trailer and promo.

  • Ministry of steel in partnership with CII and JPC is organizing the launch of Purvodaya-Accelerated Development of Eastern Region through an Integrated Steel hub, in line with Prime Minister's Vision for focused development of the Eastern States. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minster for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel will launch the Purvodaya on 11th January 2020 at the Oberoi Grand Kolkata. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has highlighted the need for focused development of the Eastern states in order to unleash their untapped potential thereby ensuring the growth of the region as a whole and the country at large.

  • Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah, inaugurated the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and also dedicated National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal to the Nation. This state-of-the-art Centre is located in New Delhi. It has seven components viz., National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit, National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal, National Cyber Crime Training Centre, Cyber Crime Ecosystem Management Unit, National Cyber Crime Research and Innovation Centre, National Cyber Crime Forensic Laboratory Ecosystem and Platform for Joint Cyber Crime Investigation Team. At the initiative of Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), 15 States and UTs have given their consent to set up Regional Cyber Crime Coordination Centres at respective States/UTs.

  • In-depth Review of India's Energy Policies report by International Energy Agency (IEA) was launched in New Delhi. India is now the third largest energy consumer in the world. India is in the midst of a major transformative shift in its energy sector. The energy polices already put in place by the Government and also those on the anvil, clearly demonstrate our determination to embrace this energy transition in a sustainable and responsible manner.

  • Shri Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power and New & Renewable Energy and Honourable Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship released the ‘State Energy Efficiency Index 2019’, which tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency (EE) initiatives in 36 states and union territories based on 97 significant indicators.

    The index was released on the occasion of RPM (Review, Planning and Monitoring) meeting, which is being held on 09-10 Jan 2020 at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, New Delhi. The index is developed by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in association with Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE). It will help states contribute towards national goals on energy security and climate action by helping drive EE policies and program implementation at the state and local level, tracking progress in managing the states’ and India’s energy footprint and institutionalizing the data capture and monitoring of EE activities by states.

  • Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that World Bank and Asian Development Bank have approved seven thousand crore rupees each to remove black spots and enhance road safety. The Minister also called upon the students to become the brand ambassadors of road safety to bring about the behavioral and transformative change in the youths of the country. Mr Gadkari said, youth is the most affected community in the road accidents. Around four lakh 50 thousand road accidents took place every year, in which over 1.5 lakh people lost their lives. The country loses two per cent of GDP due to road accidents, which is a matter of concern. The Defence Minister awarded Tamil Nadu, as the best performing state in reducing road accidents.

  • The Centre has identified 16 islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and 10 in Lakshadweep for holistic development by promoting tourism and offering facilities for export of seafood and coconut-based products. This was disclosed at the sixth meeting of the Island Development Agency, IDA chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. The Island Development Agency reviewed the progress made towards the programme holistic development of islands. For the first time in the country, under the guidance of IDA, an initiative of sustainable development in the identified Islands within scientifically-assessed carrying capacity has been taken-up.

  • India's flagship global conference on geopolitics and geo-economics Raisina Dialogue will begin on 14 January, 2020 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the inaugural session. Seven former heads of state or government will share their views on important challenges facing the world. The fifth edition of the prestigious Raisina Dialogue, jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, will bring together 700 international participants from over a 100 countries. The three-day conference will see participation of 12 foreign ministers, including from Russia, Iran, Australia, Maldives, South Africa, Estonia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Uzbekistan and the EU.

Bilateral :
  • Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to take action against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal drugs taking place on the borders between the two countries. Both the countries agreed to share real-time information on terrorist and secessionist activities, illicit drug trade, human trafficking and illegal border crossing. 

    Bangladesh and Myanmar also agreed to cooperate with each other in fighting transnational crimes and to notify if shooting takes place in the border areas. In case of people unknowingly crossing the border into each other’s territory, both the countries agreed to return the citizens as per existing rules and regulations.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders expressed their principled intent to further develop the India-Russia privileged strategic relationship. They also discussed some international matters including the developments in the Persian Gulf region and in Libya. Mr Modi and Mr Putin also confirmed new face to face meetings, including during the Moscow events to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War and during the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summits in St. Petersburg.

Economy :

  • The Reserve Bank of India has launched ‘MANI’ mobile app to help the visually challenged identify the denomination of currency notes. MANI is an acronym for Mobile Aided Note Identifier. The RBI mobile app will enable the visually disabled to identify the denomination of a currency note using the application. The MANI app will work offline as well after it is installed. The application was launched by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das and other officials on January 1, 2020.

  • The State of Bank of India launched a 'residential builder finance with buyer guarantee' scheme to revive the Indian real estate sector on January 8, 2020. Under the scheme, the largest public sector bank will issue a guarantee for completion of select residential projects to customers availing home loans from it. According to SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar, the scheme will create a win-win situation for builders, home buyers and the bank alike. 

    The buyer guarantee scheme will focus on affordable housing projects worth up to Rs 2.5 crore in 10 cities initially. Under the scheme, the SBI will refund the entire principal amount if the home developer fails to deliver the project within the assured deadline. The bank will issue the guarantee until the housing project gets the occupation certificate (OC). The refund scheme will only be valid until then. Further, the guarantee will only be available for RERA registered projects and they will be considered stuck only after they cross the RERA deadline. The developer fulfilling due diligence by the bank will also be able to avail loans between Rs 50 crores to Rs 400 crores under the scheme.

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has amended the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for banks and other financial institutions. The new norm, after amendment, allows these financial institutions to use video-based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP). This step will help banks and lending institutions to identify customers remotely. RBI's notification said that it permits video-based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP) as an alternative method to recognize and identify a customer. RBI said that a decision has been taken to bring customers onboard with a view to leveraging the digital channels for customer Identification Process (CIP) by regulated entities (REs).

    According to the Reserve Bank of India’s notification, if offline verification is not possible due to the remote location, Digital KYC has been defined as an officially valid document or the proof of possession of Aadhaar under Section 3. It further said that such live photo or video will be taken by an authorized officer of the Reporting Entity (RE). RBI notification said that the proof of possession of Aadhaar number, where offline verification is not possible, will be submitted through the V-CIP method. Customers need to submit PAN, Aadhaar, proof of possession of Aadhaar and such other documents including respect of the nature of business and the financial status of the client.

  • The Reserve Bank of India said select banks in India can offer forex rates to Indian clients beyond the inter-bank market hours. These banks currently run from 9am to 5pm. In effect, this opens up the forex market in India round the clock, allowing Indians to hedge their foreign exchange risks at any time of the day.

  • Centre and States have come together to take necessary action to streamline the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system and plug revenue leakage. Several measures were discussed in this regard during the Second National GST Conference of the Commissioners of State Tax and Chief Commissioners of Central Tax in New Delhi on 7th January, 2020. They include curbing fraudulent refund claims, linking foreign exchange remittances with IGST refund, investigation of fraudulent Input Tax Credit (ITC) cases by the IT Department and a single bank account for foreign remittance receipt. The meeting held under the chairmanship of Revenue Secretary Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey decided to constitute a Committee of Centre and State officers to examine and implement quick measures to curb fraudulent refund claims. 

    A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed among the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the GST Network to exchange data through application program interface, from CBDT to GSTN and CBIC and vice-versa. The conference was organized to build synergy between the Centre and States and to share their knowledge and best practices with intent to bring about uniformity in tax administrations.

  • The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in its drive to check fraudulent availment of IGST refunds, has extensively used data analytics and matched data with income tax, GST and customs to identify risky exporters. There are instances where an exporter with over 50 crore rupees of exports of ready made garments has taken a refund of 3.90 crores while the entity’s total GST payment in cash was a mere 1,650 rupees. The present ongoing exercise by CGST field formations has revealed serious issues in compliance behaviour in some cases. In two cases, the premises were also found sealed and seized by the banks as the exporters had been declared as Non Performing Assets.

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has given in-principle approval for the sale of equity held by four Central Public Sector Enterprises and two-state PSUs in Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited-NINL. It has approved strategic disinvestment of 49.78 per cent equity shareholding of Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation Limited and 10.10 per cent of National Mineral Development Corporation. 

    The CCEA gave approval for strategic disinvestment of 0.68 per cent of MECON and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited each. 12 per cent disinvestment in Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Limited and 20.47 per cent in Odisha Mining Corporation have also been approved. NINL is a Joint Venture company, in which these six companies are shareholders. The proposed strategic disinvestment of Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited will unlock resources to be used to finance the social sector and developmental programmes of the Government benefiting the public.

  • The World Bank has forecast Sri Lanka’s economic growth at 3.3 per cent for 2020 saying the growth is likely to remain below four per cent in next three years. The bank said, in its latest report of World Bank’s January 2020 Global Economic Prospects, that for 2021 and 2022, it maintains the same forecast of 3.7 per cent of economic growth in SriLanka. Sri Lanka’s new government headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said recently that one of its targets include achieving a 6.5 per cent economic growth per annum from 2020 and a GDP growth of 6,500 U.S. dollars per capita. Sri Lanka’s growth had dipped below 3 per cent last year which was attributed to Easter attacks and policy uncertainty during the previous government.

Business :

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has released a report ‘Market Study on E-commerce in India: Key Findings and Observations’ on January 08, 2020. This study was initiated by CCI in April 2019 with an objective to understand the performance of e-commerce in India. This study highlights that e-commerce is gaining importance across the sectors in India. The study shows that e-commerce has increased price transparency and price competition in the country. Apart from that, it also presents key trends and issues of the market. 

    CCI report on e-commerce in India confirms that the broad categories of consumer goods are sold online in India. The study covered goods like electronic appliances, mobile phones, lifestyle-related goods, and groceries where online commerce is still growing. Apart from that, online hotel bookings, apparel purchases, buying accessories, purchasing fashion products have been rising. In food sector, 83 percent of restaurants admitted that they have an online presence. It was also reported by the respondent restaurants that their online sales is accounting for about 29 percent of total revenue. It has mentioned in the CCI report that most of the consumers are using price comparison tools for hotel bookings.

  • Reliance Jio has launched its Wi-Fi calling service for both voice and video calling platforms. Reliance Jio’s Wi-Fi service will be known as VoWiFi. All Jio users, with existing numbers, will be able to use a Wi-Fi network to make or receive calls. Reliance Jio introduced this service in Delhi-NCR and Chennai circle a few days ago but it will be started across the country by January 16. More than 150 types of smartphones will support this service. Jio was testing this service for the past few months.

  • The Govt of India signed MoU with Flipkart for selling the products made by women self help group under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM). DAY-NULM consists of 44 lakh women across the country which aims to make women financially independent. Government is likely to sign MoU with Amazon on January 7, 2020, for the same purpose.

  • Kerala is organizing the Global Investors Meet 'ASCEND 2020'. The meet will be held from 9-10 January 2020 in Kochi, Kerala. The meet will be organized by the Industries Department of the state government.

  • The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will observe 2020 as the ‘year of mobility’. It will have a special focus on the creation of more residential units and implementation of various welfare measures for the troops. In 2020, the CISF will aim at creating an infrastructure for their families. It will also aim at focusing on sports and physical fitness leveraging modern gadgetry.

Defence :

  • General Bipin Rawat took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on January 1, 2020. The General will now serve as the principal military advisor to the Union Defence Minister. He assumed the office of CDS after he retired as Army Chief on December 31, 2019. The Chief of Defence Staff post has been created newly in India. The CDS is a four-star General. 

    The Chief of Defence Staff will also serve as the head of the new Department of Military Affairs to ensure unity in training, logistics and procurement of the three armed services. The Chief of Defence Staff will be responsible for the administration of all three armed services including the army, navy and the air force. The main command of the services will be, however, with the respective Chief of the service.

  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) chief K Sivan announced on January 01, 2020, that Tamil Nadu will also have a spaceport for small satellites. This launchpad will be established at the Thoothukodi district of Tamil Nadu. K Sivan also announced that the government has approved Chandrayaan-3 and work on this project have already started. He said that this space center will be established in 2300 acres of land. ISRO Chief K. Sivan said that the Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan-3 missions will be launched in 2020.

  • India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat has proposed the creation of an integrated Air Defence Command to boost the security of India’s skies. This is one of the first decisions of the General after he took charge as the Chief of Defence Staff on January 1, 2020. The Chief of Defence Staff has proposed June 30 as the deadline to submit the proposal for the same. General Rawat has further directed the heads of various branches to come up with recommendations for inter-service synergy and joint ness in a time-bound manner. General Rawat had called a meeting of the important officials of the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff on January 1, 2019.

  • The Indian Army is all set to sign an agreement with Russia for the purchase of the AK-203 assault rifles. As per the plan, one lakh rifles will be imported from Russia in the first phase while the remaining 6.5 lakh rifles will be manufactured in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Indo-Russia Ordinance Factory in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh last year. Indo-Russia Rifle Private Limited is a joint project of the Ordnance Factory of India and the Russia establishment. This ordinance factory will produce the latest ranges of iconic Kalashnikov (AK-203) rifles. This joint venture will help the armed forces in the country and strengthen national security.

  • The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is participating in Pride of India-Science Expo-2020 being held at the 107th Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru. 31 DRDO laboratories with more than 150 exhibits and models are participating in the expo showcasing many cutting-edge indigenous defence technologies, which narrate the saga of Self-reliance and National Pride with the Make in India spirit.

  • Visakhapatnam, the City of Destiny is to host MILAN 2020. The International Naval event has been scheduled to be held in March 2020. MILAN 2020 is a multilateral naval exercise. The main objective of the event is to enhance professional interaction between friendly foreign navies and learn the strengths and best practices in the maritime domain. The theme of the exercise is Synergy Across the Seas. The theme is expected to provide a unique opportunity for Operational Commanders of friendly foreign navies to interact with each other in areas of mutual interest. 41 navies were invited and over 30 navies have confirmed their participation in MILAN 2020.

  • Wings India 2020, a flagship event of Indian Civil Aviation industry will be held at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad from 12-15 March 2020. The theme is "Flying for All" is an international platform focused on new business acquisition, investments, policy formation and regional connectivity in civil aviation industry. It is a platform for the aviation fraternity to discuss challenges along with new developing growth spots that can be targeted to ensure a positive curve.

Sports :

  • Irfan Pathan announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on January 4, 2020. The all-rounder last played for the Indian national cricket team in October 2012. The 35-year-old had made his debut in Team India in 2003, at the age of 19 years. He has played 29 tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is. He was a part of the T20 World Cup-winning Indian Team in 2007 and was adjudged man-of-the-match in the final against Pakistan.

  • Indian weightlifter Sarbjeet Kaur has been banned from the sport for four years by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) after being found guilty of a doping violation.

  • Young Indian paddler Manav Thakkar became world no.1 in the latest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings in the Under-21 men's singles category.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo was named the year’s best men’s player at the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards. Ronaldo has now earned the title for the sixth time of its nine years of existence. The ‘best agent’ award was won by Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes. England International Lucy Bronze was crowned the year’s best female player.

  • The third edition of Khelo India Youth Games-2020, to be held in Guwahati from 10th of January, will be advocating for the elimination of single-use plastics this time. The Games will continue till 22nd Jnauary, 2020. The event will be held in 20 disciplines at 11 venues.

  • In Leh-Ladakh, the home teams won the 5th Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI) National Ice Hockey Championship -2020 in both Boys and Girls categories.

  • Indian equestrian Fouaad Mirza became the first Indian to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics officially. He ended a wait spanning two decades.

  • Djokovic beats Nadal at ATP Cup in Sydney. Novak Djokovic over powered long-time rival Rafael Nadal and led Serbia to victory in the inaugural ATP Cup at Sydeny.

Awards :

  • The Government of India has announced first ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’ for several media houses. This award was conferred on January 7, 2020, to 30 media houses. The objective behind this award is to bring positivity and acknowledge the role of media in the outreach of Yoga in the world. 

    This award was instituted in June 2019 to mark the role of media in spreading the message among masses. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar will confer the first ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’.

  • 'They’ was chosen as the Word of the Decade by the linguists in the United States of America on January 4, 2020. The move aims to recognize the growing use of third-person plural pronouns in a singular form to refer to those who do not identify with either male or female gender. The singular pronoun ‘They’ was chosen as the word of the decade to recognize its growing use to refer to people whose gender identity is non-binary. ‘They’ was also adjudged as the world of the year in 2015. 

    The pronouns such as she/her were chosen as the word of the year by the American Dialect Society in a separate decision. The move aims to honour the increasing practice of introducing oneself by the set of pronouns one prefers to be called by. The ‘My’ pronouns were the most popular choice for Word of the Year 2019, again reflecting how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of common discussions.

  • Kanhaiya Kumar, Prashant Kishor, and Mahua Moitra have found a place in the Forbes' list of people to watch in the 2020s. Forbes India recently published this list that included the names of politicians, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and sportspersons. Prashant Kishor and Kanhaiya Kumar are the biggest names of the list. Kanhaiya ranked 12th in this list and Prashant is ranked 16th.

  • PM Narendra Modi distributed Krishi Karman Awards and Commendation Awards to states at a public meeting in Tumkur Karnataka on 2 Jan 2020. He also gave away Agriculture Minister’s Krishi Karman Awards for Progressive Farmers. The event also witnessed the release of the 3rd instalment of PM Kisan (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) of Rs 2000 for the period December 2019-March 2020.

  • Swarna Jayanti Fellowships have been awarded to 14 Scientists associated with projects containing innovative research idea and with the potential of making an impact on R&D in the respective disciplines. The Swarna Jayanti Fellowships scheme was instituted by Government of India to commemorate India's fifteenth year of independence.

  • A Dubai-based Indian girl Sucheta Satish, who can sing in 120 languages, has won the 'Global Child Prodigy Awards 2020'. Sucheta Satish, known as the Dubai Indian High School's nightingale, won in the singing category. The Global Child Prodigy Award is a platform to celebrate children's talent and power in different categories. The award ceremony was in New Delhi on 3 Jan 2020.

  • BCCI Awards - Full List of Winners : 
    Kris Srikanth: Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award.
    Jasprit Bumrah: Polly Umrigar Award Best International Cricketer (Men).
    Anjum Chopra: BCCI Life Time Achievement Award For Women.
    Poonam Yadav: Best International Cricketer (Women).
    Dilip Joshi: BCCI Special Award.
    Mayank Agarwal: Best International Debut (Men).
    Jasprit Bumrah: Dilip Sardesai Award for Highest Wickets in Test Cricket- 2018-19.
    Cheteshwar Pujara: Dilip Sardesai Award for Highest Run Getter in Test Cricket- 2018-19.
    Shafali Verma: BCCI Best International Debut (Women).
    Jhulan Goswami: Highest Wickets in One Day Internationals (2018-19) Women.
    Shivam Dube: Lala Amarnath Award For the Best All-Rounder in the Ranji Trophy.
    Smriti Mandhana: Highest Run Getter in One Day Internationals -2018-19 (Women).
    Vidarbha Cricket Association: Best Performance in BCCI Domestic Tournaments (2018-19).
    Virendra Sharma: Best Umpire in Domestic Cricket (2018-19).
    Shafali Verma: Jagmohan Dalmiya Trophy for Best Woman Cricketer (Junior Domestic) of 2018-19.

  • The 77th annual Golden Globes Awards were held on 5 Jan 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
    Best motion picture — Drama was won by '1917'.
    Best performance by an actress in a motion picture -- Drama was won by Renee Zellweger for "Judy".
    Best performance by an actor in a motion picture -- Drama was won by Joaquin Phoenix for "Joker".
    Best Director was won by Sam Mendes for '1917'.

Persons :

  • Rabindra Nath Mahato was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly on January 7, 2019.

  • Haitham bin Tariq al-Said was sworn in as the new Sultan of Oman on January 11, 2020 after the death of long-time ruler Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Late Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed had ruled Oman since 1970 as the 8th Sultan of the House of Al Said. He was the Arab world's longest-serving ruler. He passed away on January 10 due to prolonged illness at the age of 79 years.

  • Google celebrated 101st birth anniversary of India’s famous poet, lyricist, and activist Kaifi Azmi on January 14, 2020. Google has prepared a special doodle on his 101st birth anniversary. Kaifi Azmi was one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. He wrote his first poem at the age of 11 years only. At that time, Kaifi Azmi was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement.

  • Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been appointed the new chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland. Clinton, who has been a regular visitor to Northern Ireland going back to the first visit of President Bill Clinton in 1995, becomes the university's first female chancellor.

  • Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named the Deputy Head of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm Esmail Qaani to replace Qasem Soleimani as its commander. Soleimani was killed in a pre-dawn US strike in Baghdad.

Days :

  • World Hindi Day is celebrated every year on January 10. Its objective is to create a suitable environment for the promotion of Hindi worldwide and to present Hindi as the prevalent language of the world. The Indian Embassies located in other countries outside India celebrates World Hindi Day by organizing special programs. Various government and non-government institutions organise unique programs for the promotion of Hindi. The first World Hindi Conference was held in Nagpur on January 10, 1975, where 122 delegates from 30 countries participated in the program. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced to celebrate World Hindi Day on January 10 every year in 2006. 

    'National Hindi Day' is celebrated on September 14 every year. The Constituent Assembly gave Hindi the status of official language on September 14, 1949, since then Hindi Day is celebrated on September14. The first Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru, decided to celebrate Hindi Day on September 14. There were many writers like Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupta, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Seth Govindadas made important contributions to make Hindi a national language.

Books :
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah released the book 'Karmyodha Granth', written on the life of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on January 07, 2020. He said that Narendra Modi is a sensitive man, a strict administrator and a fearless commander and has always worked on the mantra of 'Raja Prathamo Sevak'.

Science & Technology :
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) proposed 2,700 crores of infrastructure plans to construct its first Human Space Flight Infrastructure Centre (HSFIC) on January 06, 2020. This astronaut hub will be established Challakere, Chitradurga district of Karnataka. It is expected that this center will start functioning in the next three years. Various activities related to the training of astronauts to manned missions will be conducted here. This pace is about 200 km from Bengaluru. Challakere is also known as Science City where various other scientific establishments are already working.

    • ISRO has prepared a proposal of Rs 2700 crore for the development of this center. There will be no need to go elsewhere for activities related to manned missions when this center is ready.
    • Three astronauts will be sent to space by the year 2022 under the Gaganyaan mission. Four astronauts have been selected for training in Russia.
    • There are centers of Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO), Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and ISRO spread over an area of about 10,000 acres.

  • A team of astronomers at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) in Pune, India have discovered a mysterious ring of hydrogen gas around a distant galaxy. Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) was used to discover it. The ring is much bigger than the galaxy it surrounds and has a diameter of about 380,000 light-years (about 4 times that of our Milky Way).

  • ISRO has set up a regional academic centre for space (RAC-S) at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka's southwest Dakshina Kannada district. ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year. An agreement regarding this was signed between ISRO and NITK on 3 Jan 2020.

  • Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal has said that Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will contribute one trillion dollars by the year 2035. Artificial intelligence-powered learning ecosystem will assist the banking, financial services and insurance sector. The Minister inaugurated the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Knowledge Hub in New Delhi.

  • ISRO has announced that it aims to launch its own satellite pair for space communication purposes, called Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS). IDRSS will be pivotal in maintaining communication with the astronaut crew and ground mission control at any given phase, during manned space missions. The two satellites, which will be deployed in phases, are already being worked on by ISRO.

  • Chinese state media reported that scientists have identified a new coronavirus as the likely cause of a pneumonia-like illness that has sickened dozens of people. Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold, and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases. Apart from human beings, coronaviruses can affect mammals including pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.

Environment :

  • Palau, the western Pacific Ocean country, has become the first country in the world to ban various types of sunscreen to protect coral reefs. The country has announced this step as strict environmental measures. This ban has been imposed on ‘reef toxic' or coral toxic sunscreens. Palau is famous for its marine life and renowned for its best diving destinations. As per the government orders, any reef-toxic sold or imported in Palau will be confiscated and fines will be imposed on the owner. 

    According to the orders, any tourist entering a country with banned sunscreen will have to face fines up to USD 1,000.
    Scientists have found that chemicals contained in sunscreen, which enters the ocean through different means, causes great harm to coral reefs.
    According to the President of Palau, Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr. this decision has taken on the basis of a report published in 2017 that informed sunscreen products have harmful chemicals for coral reefs.

  • The Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change has recently notified the new Wetland Conservation Rules. These new conservations rules prohibit expansion or setting up of colonies or industries and disposal of demolition waste within the wetland areas. Apart from that, the Union Government has said that each state and union territory (UT) has to establish an authority to define strategies for wetland conservation and to the wise use of these wetlands within their jurisdiction. The authority will recommend mechanisms for preservation of ecological qualities of the area through promotional activities for land within the boundary of notified wetlands.


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