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27 to 29 January 2020 - Current Affairs

International :
  • World leaders committed to ending all foreign meddling in Libya's war and to uphold a weapons embargo at a Berlin summit on 19 January, 2020. This was part of a broader plan to end the spiralling conflict. The presidents of Russia, Turkey and France were among global chiefs signing up to the plan to stop interfering in the war. This includes through weapons, troops or financing. But the talks failed to deliver serious dialogue between the warring parties -- strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj. It also failed to get both sides to sign up to a permanent truce. 

    Berlin Summit host Chancellor Angela Merkel said that they have a very disparate situation in Libya, where ensuring that a ceasefire is immediately respected is simply not easy to guarantee. Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

  • The 18th Dhaka International Film Festival was inaugurated on January 11, 2020 by the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen. The festival kicked off with the screening of the Spanish-Greek film Window to the Sea, directed by Miguel Angel Jimenez, at Bangladesh National Museum (BNM). During the festival 220 films from 74 countries will be screened across various venues in Dhaka between 11-19 January. More than 100 film makers and other personalities from the movie world are participating in the event over the next eight days. 

    The films have been selected in eight categories including Asian Competition Section, Retrospective, Bangladesh Panorama, cinema of the world and Women Filmmakers. In the Retrospective section four films by Polish director duo Joanna Kos-Krauzey and Krysztof Krauze will be screened. Bangladesh Panaroma will showcase eight films — Amra Ekta Cinema Banabo, Mayaboti, Shuttle Train, Chandrabati Kotha, Tunes of Nostalgia, Maya - The Lost Mother, Nigrohokal and No Dorai. Apart from film screening, conference on the theme of women in cinema will also be organsied during the festival. The theme of the festival is ‘Better Film, Better Audience and Better Society’.

  • In a first, Sikhs in the US would be counted as a separate ethnic group in the upcoming 2020 census, the US Census Bureau has said. This comes after several Sikh organisations in the US held meetings with the Census Bureau. As per an organization, United Sikhs, at least 10 lakh Sikhs live in the US.

  • Sri Lanka topped on breastfeeding rate according to a new survey conducted by the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi). The survey was taken among 97 countries globally. 

    Report Highlights :
    1.) Sri Lanka's rank is based on its performance on ten indicators of policies and programs.
    2.) Sri Lanka has scored 91 out of 100 points.
    3.) WBTi uses color-code to rank countries. Sri Lanka earned a green color code, which implies the best level of performance.
    4.) Sri Lanka has been making an effort to support and provide supportive measures for breastfeeding since 2005.
    5.) Sri Lanka has demonstrated a high level of commitment towards the health and nutrition of mothers and babies.

  • Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal assent to the Brexit bill on January 23, 2020, paving the way for Britain's smooth exit from the European Union. Her Majesty approved the bill in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signed the Brexit withdrawal agreement paving the way for the UK's exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020.

  • Hyderabad becomes most dynamic city in the world, tops JLL City Momentum Index 2020. Hyderabad secured the first place in the list of the world's most dynamic cities. Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) has recently released the city momentum index that comprised of 129 cities across the world. JLL evaluated 129 cities and selected Hyderabad as the world’s most dynamic city. There are seven Indian cities are present in the top-20 cities. Bangalore ranked second in this index while Chennai secured fifth and Delhi got the sixth position. Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) is a US-based real estate and investment firm.

  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) has recently released ‘World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2020’. The report highlights that global unemployment will rise by 2.5 million in 2020. The ILO report said that about 188 million people are unemployed in the world. According to the ILO report, the lack of productive, well-paying jobs means that more than 630 million workers, one in five of all workers worldwide, live in extreme poverty. This report stated that global unemployment was stable for the past nine years but as the global economic growth is slowing down and the number of workers is increasing, new jobs are not being created in the market in that proportion. 

    Highlights :
    • About 188 million people are unemployed and not getting any work according to their skills and abilities.
    • Around 267 million people (aged between 15-24) are not in employment, training or education.
    • According to the report, rising unemployment and deep inequality gap have made it difficult for people to live better through jobs or work.
    • It has also mentioned in the report that about 120 million people in the world have given up searching for jobs.
    • The growth of the labour force is slowing down in middle and high-income countries, which means that fewer jobs need to be created to stabilize unemployment rates.

  • The United States announced new visa rules to restrict ‘birth tourism’ on January 23, 2020. The US will no longer issue temporary visitor visas to foreigners seeking to enter the nation for birth tourism. The White House stated that the rule change was necessary to boost public safety, national security and the integrity of the country's immigration system.

  • United States President Donald Trump on Jan 29, 2020 said Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided capital as he unveiled his Middle East peace plan aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, describing it as historic and a giant step towards peace.

  • The Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh will be allowed to receive formal education. This was announced by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen in an interview to AFP. Dr.Momen said that Bangladesh does not want a lost generation of Rohingyas and it will provide education to them. The decision came after a meeting of a national taskforce set up by the government.

  • US House of Representatives has passed a bill that authorises financial and travel sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the process of selecting the successor to the Dalai Lama. Introduced by Congressman James P McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the bill was passed by a overwhelming vote of 392 to 22. The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, will also prohibit China from opening any new consulate in the US until Beijing allows Washington to open its diplomatic station in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. 

    According to the bill, the succession or reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is an exclusively religious matter that should be decided solely by the Tibetan Buddhist community. Under the draft legislation, Washington would freeze any American asset and ban US travel of Chinese officials if they are found to be involved in identifying or installing a Dalai Lama approved by Beijing. The Global Magnitsky Act allows the US to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. The bill also mandates the US State Department to begin collaborative and multinational efforts to protect the environment and water resources of the Tibetan Plateau.

National :
  • In a first in India, the Telangana State Election Commission will be using facial recognition app in a bid to counter impersonation by voters. This will be done on a pilot basis in 10 selected polling stations in Kompally Municipality of Medchal Malkajgiri district. According to an official release, a negative result, however, would not deprive the voter from exercising his franchise. Pictorial data collected during the process will also be used afterwards.

  • The fifth edition of Science Film Festival of India (SCI-FFI) 2020 kick-off in Panaji, Goa on 15th January 2020. The four-day-long festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister, Dr.Paramod Sawant and will end on 18 January.

  • Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad will inaugurate the second edition of NIC Tech Conclave-2020 in New Delhi. The two-day event is being organized by the National Informatics Centre. This Conclave will contribute immensely to the capacity building of Government officers across the country and help in delivering high-quality citizen-centric services. This year’s theme is Technologies for Next-Gen Governance.

  • Gujarat has been ranked the best for parameters on efficiency targets in the review of state and Central government water departments by the ministry of Jal Shakti. Rajasthan is the third best and Delhi is among the worst performing states, according to the ranking for 2019 circulated to different state governments recently. Among the seven Central departments reviewed, the Survey of India has got the top billing followed by the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) and Central Water Commission. The Central Pollution Control Board, the country’s pollution watchdog, has got the lowest rank, in the ranking for the year 2019.

  • PM Shri Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet approved the Agreement between India and the Federative Republic of Brazil on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters has to be signed. The Agreement aims to enhance the effectiveness of both the countries in investigation and prosecution of crime through cooperation and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Agreement will provide a broad legal framework for bilateral cooperation with the Federative Republic of Brazil in investigation and prosecution of crime and in tracing, restraint and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime and the fund meant to finance terrorist acts.

  • The Union Cabinet led by the PM Narendra Modi approved the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Republic of India and the Federative Republic of Brazil. The MoU on cooperation in the field of oil and natural gas. The MoU is expected to be signed during the visit of President of Brazil to India in January 2020. 

    The MoU will enhance cooperation between the two sides in the oil and natural gas sector. Both the countries will work towards establishing cooperation in the E&P initiatives in Brazil and India, research & development in this sector, explore collaboration in Liquefied Natural Gas projects in Brazil, India and third countries. It encourages collaboration in oil energy and environmental issues, including energy policies such as energy research development, energy efficiency, and expansion of the regional energy infrastructure networks.

  • The government has announced that it is to set up a National Startup Advisory Council on 21 January 2020. The council will advise the Centre on measures needed to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and start-ups in India. It was set up by commerce and industry ministry. The Advisory Council will be chaired by the Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. It consists of non-official members to be nominated by the Centre, founders of successful start-ups, veterans who have grown and scaled companies in India, persons capable to represent interests of investors into start-ups. 

    National Startup Advisory Council:
    1.) The Council will suggest measures to foster a culture of innovation among students and others, the commerce and industry ministry.
    2.) It will suggest measures to facilitate public organizations to protect and commercialization of intellectual property rights, to promote the creation, assimilate innovation, make it easier to start, operate, grow and exit businesses by reducing regulatory compliances and costs.
    3.) The Council will also direct the companies to promote ease of access to capital for start-ups, mobilize global capital for investments, incentivize domestic capital for investments, and keep control of start-ups with original promoters.

  • Uttar Pradesh state Government has launched Mukhyamantri Krishak Durghatna Kalyan Yojana. The scheme will provide financial assistance of Rs.5 lakh to the family of farmers who die or become handicapped while working in fields. The scheme also includes Bataidars for the first time. The scheme will cover farmers and their family members in the age group of 18-70 years. The scheme was implemented on 14 September 2019 in the state.

  • The Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare organized the first National consultative workshop on Strengthening Agri-Logistics in the e-National Agriculture Market (e-Nam) in New Delhi on 21 January 2020. The workshop aimed to strengthen agriculture and the rural economy as it will strengthen India to face challenges victoriously. The workshop is in line with the Prime Minister's vision of doubling farmers' income by 2022. 

    Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) is an electronic trading portal that creates a unified national market for agricultural commodities. It was established on 14 April 2016. e-NAM functions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India.

  • The national conclave on Emerging Opportunities in the natural gas sector was held on 23 January in New Delhi. It was graced by Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan. The present share of gas in the energy basket of the country is 6.2% and the target is to take it to 15% by 2030. In India, Gujarat has a 26% share of gas-based energy. The conclave focused on CBG which is a great initiative that has the potential to generate wealth from waste, provide employment, protect the environment, and give a boost to the economy.

  • In Madhya Pradesh, state government has made the reading of Preamble of the Constitution mandatory in schools on every Saturday. The Department of School Education stated that orders in this regard have been issued to District Education Officers. The order issued by the School Education department said that the Preamble to the Constitution will be read out by the headmaster or teacher in all the schools after prayer on every Saturday. The same will be read out by the students later.

  • Gujarat has topped the SKOCH State of Governance 2019 ranking, replacing 2018 leader West Bengal. Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were the top five "Star States". The states where projects have performed the best in terms of rankings across different parameters have been classified as STARS.

  • Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the second edition of NIC Tech Conclave-2020 in New Delhi on January 20, 2020. The two-day event was organized by the National Informatics Centre. This Conclave will contribute immensely to the capacity building of Government officers across the country and help in delivering high-quality citizen-centric services. This year’s theme is "Technologies for Next-Gen Governance".

  • One Nation One Ration Card Scheme will be implemented across India from June 1, 2020, as per the announcement made by Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan. The all-India roll-out of the scheme has been preponed from its original date of 30th June to 1st June. Currently, the scheme is operational in 12 states across the country from January 1, 2020 onwards. The key highlight of One Nation One Ration Card scheme is that under this scheme, a beneficiary will be able to avail benefits across the country using the same ration card.

  • The central government announced its plan of selling its 100 percent stake in Air India on January 27, 2020. The government has invited bids with March 17 as the deadline for the expression of interest (EOI) submissions. This is the government’s second attempt to sell the national carrier. In 2018, the government had attempted to sell a majority stake in the airlines but failed to get a single bid. Air India operates on both domestic and international routes and has some of the most profitable international and domestic landing and parking slots.

  • The Centre on 27 January 2020 signed an accord with the Assam-based different insurgent groups and civil societies including the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. The tripartite agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The accord will provide political, economic, executive and land rights to Bodo tribals and also will safeguard their cultural and linguistic identities. The Centre and State Government will provide financial assistance of 1,500 crore rupees for the economic development of the community. 

    It is the third tripartite agreement to end the violence in the region. Earlier, the tripartite agreements in 1993 and 2003 were signed leading to the creation of Bodoland Autonomous and Bodoland Territorial Councils. All Bodo Student Union and its associated organizations and different factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland had been raising the demand for separate statehood. Negotiations were held with Bodo organizations for a comprehensive and final solution to their demands while keeping intact the territorial integrity of Assam.

  • The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on 27 January 2020 passed a resolution setting in motion the process for abolishing the state Legislative Council. A similar resolution will now be adopted in the Legislative Assembly and sent to the Centre for necessary follow-up action.

  • The Government has targeted to install 175 Giga Watt renewable energy by 2022 to build a healthy planet with less carbon intensive economy. The Finance Ministry said, through Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surkasha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan, PM-KUSUM scheme, government empowers the farmers to be the producer of energy. The PM-KUSUM scheme covers grid connected renewable energy power plants, stand alone solar powered agricultural pumps and solarization of existing grid connected agriculture pumps. 

    The components of the scheme are installation of 10 thousand Mega Watt of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants by farmers of 500 Kilo Watt to 2 Mega Watt capacity, installation of 17.50 lakh stand alone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps and solarization of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps. The Scheme has substantial environmental impact in terms of savings of CO2 emissions and all three components of the Scheme combined together are likely to result in saving of about 27 million tonnes of CO2 emission per annum.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Government is continuously working and taking progressive measures to double the farmers' income by 2022. Addressing 3rd Global Potato Conclave at Gandhinagar, Gujarat on Jan 28, 2020 through video conferencing, Mr Modi said, the combination of efforts of farmers and government's policy has resulted in bringing India among the top three countries in the world in the production of many cereals and other food items. He said, the Centre has also taken several steps to promote the food processing sector. They include opening of the processing sector to 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment and helping in developing value addition and value chain through Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana.

  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated 18.5 km-long stretch of Nagpur Metro Aqua line of Maha Metro Rail Network in Nagpur through video conferencing. The newly inaugurated Nagpur Metro Aqua line passing over the Ambazari lake in city will connect the east and west parts of the city. Nagpur Metro is the Greenest Metro deriving 65 per cent of its power consumption from Solar Energy. Nagpur Metro network is now operational up to 24.5 kilometres.

  • Union Minister of State for Ministry of Food Processing Industries Rameswar Teli has said that Centre has planned to set up Food Parks in all states of North East Region.

  • In Odisha, the State Government has launched a virtual police station where people can lodge complaints from their respective districts regarding theft of their vehicles without visiting Police Station. The e-police station will function from State Crime Records Bureau in Bhubaneswar. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the facility along with road accident case documents module and medico legal opinion system projects of Odisha Police. These are the initiatives to effectively reduce the necessity of citizens to visit Police Stations. 

    This facility will benefit the people for claiming insurance in motor vehicle theft cases. The road accident case documents module is a web-based application which can be accessed from the website Through this web-based application, victims of road accidents as well as insurance companies can download documents like FIR, final form, spot map, MVI report, inquest, post-mortem report, driving licence, and registration certificates.

  • Government is focusing to drive industrialization through the power of seas. It has launched ambitious Sagarmala programme which is aimed reducing logistics cost for both domestic and EXIM cargo with optimized infrastructure investment. 

    Under the Sagarmala programme, Center is implementing 12 road projects worth 2387 crore rupees. Out of these, three projects are completed and six are in the pipeline. The work on 25 rail projects amounting to 2268 crore rupees is also in progress. Of these 11 projects are completed and six are in the pipeline. Besides, 24 rail connectivity projects worth 3303 crore rupees are being implemented by the Indian Port Rail and Ropeway Corporation Limited. The government is also developing 11 multi modal logistics park across the country to boost the port led development.

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Jan 29, 2020 laid the foundation stone of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Centre for Empowerment and Livelihoods near the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat. This will be a state-of-the-art skill Development centre in this tribal area. This Residential Centre will have all modern infrastructure including accommodation for about 100 youth at a time. It will run several free of charge skill courses aligned to the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). 

    This centre will prove to be a boon for empowering the local youth and women by their skill development and by providing them employment opportunities. GMR Varalakshmi Foundation - GMRVF - has taken a joint initiative with Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited to establish this Centre with an investment of over Rs 15 crore.

  • Union Cabinet has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill will amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. It will be introduced in the budget session of the Parliament. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, for Medical termination of pregnancy, permission will be needed, from two doctors and one of them must be a government doctor. The limit of termination of pregnancy has been increased from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The Bill proposes for requirement for opinion of one provider for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation and introducing the requirement of opinion of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation. 

    The Bill is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. The proposed amendments is a step towards safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefited by this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy.

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the amendments in the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 for amending the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973. Presently, the Bill is pending in Rajya Sabha. The amendments will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Homoeopathy education. This will also enable transparency and accountability for protecting the interest of the general public. The National Commission will promote the availability of affordable healthcare services in all parts of the country.

  • Cabinet has approved allocation of 30 per cent of the North-Eastern Council's allocation for new projects. This will help in focused development of deprived areas, neglected sections of society and emerging priority sectors.

  • The Cabinet has approved extension of Productivity-Linked Reward Scheme for the employees and workers of the Major Port Trust and Dock Labour Board for the period beyond 2017-18. The Scheme will annually benefit over 28 thousand workers. The annual estimated outgo will be 46 crore rupees.

  • In a major push to development in Jammu and Kashmir, around 1,256 projects worth 2280 crore rupees financed under J&K Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation, are being completed by end of March 2020. All government departments have been asked to handover the completed infrastructure development projects under JKIDFC, before the commencement of the third week of March for their formal inauguration. Among these 422 projects belong to PHE, 180 to R&B, 168 to PDD, 76 to I&FC department, 104 to School Education, 77 to Youth Services, 50 to Health and 48 each to Housing and Industries departments.

  • The Supreme Court allowed the introduction of African Cheetah to suitable habitat in India on January 28, 2020. The top court directed that the habitat should be chosen carefully after examining if the animal can adapt to Indian conditions. The move to relocate the animal to India is aimed at conserving the threatened species and restore ecosystem functions. It will help India restore its lost natural heritage and it could also have a major evolutionary impact on India's fauna, while also enhancing its wildlife diversity.

Bilateral :
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Jan 28, 2020 held an extensive meeting with a French delegation led by the Culture Minister of France Franck Riester. Mr Javadekar said, India and France discussed on ways and means on co-production of films and also collaborate in audio visual exchanges. Both the Ministers agreed to have a joint working group towards implementation of the objectives.

  • Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in New Delhi on Jan 28, 2020. The Ministers reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed ways to further strengthen ties in the areas of trade and economic cooperation, space, political and strategic relations among others. The Ministers agreed to the further intensification of high level political contacts. Mr Asselborn arrived in Delhi on a three day official visit to India. He is one of the longest serving Foreign Ministers in Europe, has close associations with the Indian leadership and has visited India four times. During the current visit, he visited Rajghat to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi. As part of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Luxembourg had issued a special postage stamp.

  • France will be the guest of honour at the New Delhi World Book Fair in January 2022, announced France Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain as part of a reciprocal invitation as New Delhi is the guest of honour this year at Livre Paris (Paris Book Fair). Leading and emerging Indian authors will be invited to Paris to meet readers, while publishing industry professionals will enhance cooperation between France and India in this area during networking events.

Economy :
  • Impressed with the safety features of the blockchain technology, the National Payment Corporation of India has launched a blockchain-based payments platform called Vajra. According to NPCI, the Vajra platform can be accessed by various payment companies for providing secured transactions on their online platforms or mobile applications. For easy incorporation of Vajra in payments systems operated by banks, NPCI will provide an application programming interface (API).

  • India has been ranked very low at 76th place out of 82 countries on a new Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum, while Denmark has topped the charts. The report, released ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the WEF, also lists India among the five countries that stand to gain the most from a better social mobility score that seeks to measure parameters necessary for creating societies where every person has the same opportunity to fulfil his potential in life irrespective of socioeconomic background.

  • The Union Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) and Chemical & Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya participated in the High-level roundtable of The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland on 21 January 2020. The theme of the roundtable is "Access for all: Leveraging Innovations, Investments, and Partnerships for Health".

  • The India's richest 1 per cent of the population hold 42.5 per cent of national wealth while the bottom 50 per cent, the majority of the population, owns a mere 2.8 per cent. According to an Oxfam report, India's top 10 per cent of the population holds 74.3 per cent of the total national wealth while the bottom 90 percent holds 25.7 percent of national wealth.

  • India joined the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Reskilling Revolution on 22 January which is being held in Davos, Switzerland. The 50th WEF Annual Meeting is being held from 21-24 January 2020. The scheme aims to train workers from technological change and help economies by providing new skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

    Scheme highlights :
    1.) The scheme will act as a public-private platform to generate new employment opportunities.
    2.) The initiative plans to provide one billion people with better education, skills, and jobs by 2030.
    3.) WEF released a report titled Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy.
    4.) LinkedIn will act as a data partner for the Reskilling Revolution scheme.

  • Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2020 has been released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 22, 2020. INSEAD Business School released the GTCI report with the help of Google and Adecco Group. This year India climbed eight ranks and secured the 72nd rank in the index. Switzerland is in the first place while the USA and Singapore grabbed the second and third positions respectively. This index shows the ability of countries to make the world progress, retain and attract talent. They are ranked based on their abilities. GTCI gives ranking based on six indicators – attract, retain, enable, grow, vocational skills and global knowledge skills. The GTCI is an input-output based ranking system that takes ‘what does the country produce and acquires’ as input and ‘result from the skill’ as output.

  • Corruption Perception Index: Transparency International has launched this index on January 23, 2020, based on data collected in 2019. India slipped two positions to 80th in the index while it was at 78th in the previous year’s ranking. India’s total score was 40 and managed to secure 80th rank. Transparency International released the report of this index during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Denmark and New Zealand topped the index as they are the most honest countries. 

    Global Findings :
    • The list of Corruption Perception Index has 180 countries. CPI provides them ranks according to the levels of public sector corruption.
    • The bottom countries are Syria, South Sudan and Somalia with scores 13, 12 and 9 respectively.
    • The top countries are Denmark and New Zealand (87), Finland (86), Sweden, Switzerland, and Singapore (85).
    • In this year’s CPI, more than two-thirds of countries have earned a score below 50.

Defence :
  • The Indian Air Force has inducted its first squadron of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft carrying the BrahMos missiles in the South at its Thanjavur base in Tamil Nadu. The newly reinstated 222-squadron, also known as the Tigersharks, would serve as a lethal weapons platform capable of carrying both aerial and maritime roles in the Indian Ocean Region.

  • Indian Navy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Geological Survey of India (GSI) on 21 January 2020. The MoU was signed by Commodore AA Abhyankar, who heads the Indian Navy's Oceanology and Meteorology Directorate and Shri N Maran, Deputy Director-General of GSI. 

    MoU Highlights:
    1.) The MoU aims to ensure the sharing of seabed sediment data, products and expertise for Naval Application in Meteorology and Oceanography.
    2.) GSI's Marine and Coastal survey Division based at Mangaluru has mapped most of India's 2.1 Million sq. km Exclusive Economic Zone and has a vast repository of offshore data.
    3.) As per the MoU, the data collected using GSI's oceanic research vessels Samudra Manthan, Samudra Ratnakar, Samudra Kaustubh and Samudra Shaudhikama will be used by Indian Navy's blue water fleet. Reliable and accurate oceanographic modeling will support the fleet's expansive maritime operations in the Indian Ocean region.

  • France is to train Indian flight surgeons to enable them to monitor the health of astronauts selected for the human space mission Gaganyaan. The announcement was released on 21 January 2020. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding this is expected to be signed during French space agency CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall's visit to India in January. 

    The training will be given for two weeks in France. It is a critical aspect of the Gaganyaan project that is aimed at sending three Indians to space by 2022. The flight surgeons are the Indian Air Force (IAF) doctors specializing in aviation medicines and responsible for the health of astronauts before, during and after the flight.

  • Defence Acquisition Council, DAC has approved procurement of equipment worth over 5100 crore rupees from indigenous sources. The objective of this defence acquisition deal is to promote indigenization. These include sophisticated Electronic Warfare Systems for the Army designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO and manufactured locally by the Indian industry. These systems will be used in deserts and plains and will provide comprehensive Electronic Support and Counter Measure capabilities to the field formations in both communication and other aspects of Electronic Warfare.

  • Ministry of Defence approved the procurement of military equipment worth over Rs.5,100 crore from indigenous sources. It also approved the construction of six conventional submarines for the Navy in India under the strategic partnership model. The approval was announced after the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. 

    DAC Approvals:
    1.) The procurement includes sophisticated Electronic Warfare Systems for the Army designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    2.) The equipment will be manufactured locally by the Indian industry.
    3.) Also, DAC shortlisted Indian strategic partners (SP) and the potential Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that would collaborate to construct 6 conventional submarines in India under the strategic partnership model.
    4.) Under the SP model, selected private firms will partner to build military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with OEMs.

  • The recently inducted Indian Coast Guard Ship Annie Besant has reached its base harbour at Chennai on 27 January 2020. The ship Annie Besant is the third Fast Patrol Vessel of the ‘Priyadarshini’ class. The ship has been indigenously designed and built and was commissioned at Khidderpore Dock, Kolkata recently. The ship ICGS Annie Besant is 48.9 m long and has a beam of 7.5 m with a displacement of 308 tonnes. It is fitted with modern navigational and communication equipment and sensors. The ship’s main armament is 40/60 Bofors gun with a 12.7 mm Stabilised Remote Control Gun. It is capable of undertaking multi-faceted maritime operations such as Surveillance, Search and Rescue and Interdiction.

  • Indian Navy has launched operation Vanilla to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at Madagascar. Defence Ministry said, the Operation Vanilla has been launched to provide assistance to the affected population of Madagascar post devastation caused by Cyclone Diane.

  • India’s first war memorial dedicated to service animals is coming up in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. It is set to feature a heroine who lost her life in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir in 2016. It is also likely to feature some others who acquitted themselves creditably in the Kargil war that India fought with Pakistan in 1999.

Science & Technology :
  • The Indian Space Agency Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) unveiled Vyommitra, a prototype of half humanoid. ISRO has decided to send Vyommitra as a trial to space before Gaganyaan which has aimed at sending astronauts to space in an orbital spacecraft. Vyommitra will be sent ahead of the first unmanned mission under Gaganyaan. It has been designed in a way that it will simulate most of the human body functions. The half humanoid has no legs. It will try to simulate a human and report back to ISRO.

  • Marine scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have installed the country’s first solar-powered Biorock in the Gulf of Kutch off the Gujarat coast to regenerate endangered corals. Biorocks are steel structures that installed on the seabed and are connected to a power source, such as solar panels, which stay afloat on the sea surface. Very low doses of electricity – less than 12 volts – are passed through the steel structure via cables.

  • First waste to energy plant of Indian Railways has been commissioned at Carriage Repair Workshop, Mancheswar, East Coast Railway (ECoR). This is the first government of India initiative in waste to energy plant of such large scale. The world class technology has been inducted here to deal with garbage disposal.

  • Union Minister of State for PMO Dr Jitendra Singh launched the Bhuvan Panchayat V3 web Portal that will enhance network application of gram panchayats. The Portal will function with the help of satellite technology developed by ISRO. Inaugurating the web portal in Anthariksh Bhavan, ISRO Head Quarters in Bengaluru on Jan 28, 2020 the minister said, Indian space technology is designed to benefit every Indian household. He said, the workshop on space-based information support for decentralized plannings will connect gram panchayats and help the flow of information.

  • The Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari recently launched online Web Portal ‘GATI.’ It has been prepared by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) after taking inspiration from PMO’s PRAGATI portal. One can reach the GATI portal via NHAI website or it can be directly used. People can raise projects or construction-related issued on this portal. Not only this, the problem raised will be monitored daily by a team of officers in NHAI. 

    Benefits of GATI Portal :
    • The GATI portal will be reviewed by senior officials of the ministry.
    • This will not only bring transparency in the works but will also speed up the decision to boost the national highway construction work.
    • Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari said on this occasion that the ministry will issue instructions wherever a problem arises related to the highway construction.
    • This portal will be monitored by a team of NHAI officials. Instant action will be taken on the complaints lodged on this portal.

Awards :
  • President Ram Nath Kovind presented the ICCW National Bravery Awards 2019 to 10 girls and 12 boys. The 16-year-old Muhammed Muhsin, who drowned while saving three of his friends in the rough sea in April 2019, from Kozhikode in Kerala posthumously was also awarded and was chosen for the ICCW Abhimanyu Award.

  • The Iranian film ‘Castle of Dreams’ directed by Reza Mirakarimi won the Best Film Award in Asian Competition section of the 18th Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF) which concluded on 19th January, 2020. The film also won the Best Director Award. Information Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud gave away the award carrying prize money of Tk 1 lakh, a citation and crest in the closing ceremony held in Dhaka.
    1.) In the Asian Competition segment, Sri Lankan director Prasanna Vithanage’s film ‘Children of the Sun’ won Special Jury Award.
    2.) Best Actress Award went to Arezoo Ariapoor, Ferestha Afshar and Hasiba Ebrahimi for their acting in Afghanistan-Iran-France joint venture film ‘Hava, Maryamk, Ayesha’ while the 3.) Best Actor Award went to Lousie Abuel for his acting in the film ‘Edward’.
    4.) In Bangladesh Panorama Section, ‘No Dorai’ directed by Taneem Rahman Angshu bagged the Best Film Award.
    5.) Indian film ‘Finally Love’ directed by AnjanDutt bagged Best Audience Award in Cinema of the World Category.

  • Deepika Padukone received the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She was recognised for her efforts to create awareness about the importance of mental health.

  • Priya Prakash won the Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award for 2019. She is the founder and CEO of India-based HealthSetGo. The award recognizes her school health program that aimed to provided 360-degree healthcare support to children. The award honours individuals aged between 18 to 30 who are bringing about a positive change in the world by solving some of its biggest global challenges.

  • The Home Ministry announced the winners of Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar 2020 on January 23, 2020. The award will be conferred to Uttarakhand’s Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre in the institution category and Kumar Munnan Singh in the individual category. The Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar is announced every year on January 23, on the occasion of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary. The award aims to recognise the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in India in the field of disaster management such as research in early warning, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, rescue, relief and rehabilitation process.

  • Sri Lankan government has thanked India for conferring Padma Shri award on two of their citizens, Dr. Vajira Chitrasena and late Prof. Indra Dassanayake. Dr. Vajira Chitrasena is considered a living legend of Sri Lankan dance at the age of 87. Late Professor Indra Dassanayake was one of the pioneers to introduce and promote Hindi language in educational institutions of Sri Lanka.

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on January 28, 2020 gave away Best Tableaux awards for Republic Day Parade, 2020 in New Delhi. Assam's tableau which portrayed the unique craftsmanship and culture of the state has been chosen as the best tableau, followed by Odisha and Uttar Pradesh who were tied for the second position. Odisha's tableau depicted Lord Lingaraja's Rukuna Rath Yatra whereas the tableau of Uttar Pradesh showcased the state's cultural and religious heritage. 

    The tableaux of National Disaster Relief Force and Jal Shakti Mission were chosen as the best among the Ministries and Departments. Central Public Works Department got the Special Prize for their tableau which based on the theme - Kashmir se Kanyakumari.

  • Indian environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev was awarded the 2020 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement on January 27, 2020. He received the award jointly alongside conservation biologist Gretchen C Daily. Pavan Sukhdev was honoured with the 2020 Tyler Prize for his outstanding work in the sphere of the green economy. While receiving the award, Sukhdev stated that one does not have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the environment. Sukhdev was the head and special adviser of UNEP’s 'Green Economy Initiative'. The initiative was a major project launched by the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Sports :
  • In wrestling, India has returned with 7 medals from the Rome Ranking Series. Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya claimed gold medals in the tournament. The 25-year-old Bajrang staged a comeback to secure a 4-3 win against USA's Jordan Michael Oliver in the summit showdown of the 65kg freestyle category. The 23-year-old Ravi bagged the gold after defeating Kazakhstan's Nurbolat Abdualiyev 12-2 in his final 61 kg category bout.

  • Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon lifted the Indonesia Badminton Masters 2020 women's singles title after defeating Carolina Marin in the summit clash on 19th January, 2020. Intanon defeated Marin 21-19, 11-21, 21-18 in one hour and twenty minutes long match. The clash went into three-games and both the shuttlers tried their 100 per cent to turn things in their favour.

  • Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat won her first gold medal of the 2020 season at the Rome Ranking Series event after teen sensation Anshu Malik settled for silver in 57kg competition, in Rome on 17th January, 2020.

  • Celebrated wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and Paralympian Deepa Malik are among the new inductees in the government's All India Council of Sports (AICS). It is an advisory body to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which was formed in 2015 by the then Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. Its term has also been extended by three years and it will continue to be led by veteran sports administrator V K Malhotra as President. Some other renowned new entrants in the Council are former shooter Anjali Bhagwat, footballer Renedy Singh, and mountaineer Bachendri Pal. Senior India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has also been inducted in the council.

  • Indian shooters Divyansh Singh Pawar and Apurvi Chandela have clinched a gold medal each in Meyton Cup in Innsbruck, Austria. The Meyton Cup is a private tournament where shooters go on their own to participate to gain experience before international events. While Divyansh won the gold in the men's 10m air rifle event with an effort of 249.7, Auprvi bagged the yellow metal in the 10m air rifle women's category with a 251.4. Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil also a bagged bronze medal each in men's and women's 10m air rifle events respectively. Deepak shot 228 en route the bronze, while Anjum's effort of 229 also fetched her a podium finish.

  • Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) unanimously nominated Anil Khanna as life President and also as the Chairman of its Finance Committee.

  • Young Indian Grand Master R. Praggnanandhaa beats former world champion Veselin Topalov in the sixth round of the 18th Gibraltar Chess Festival to record his fifth straight win.

  • In Cycling, India's Esow Alben has bagged a gold in the men's Keirin individual event of the Six Day Berlin Tournament. The 18-year-old finished on top of the podium, earning 20 classification points.

  • Two times champion Mizoram defeated Sikkim by a solitary goal to emerge as the champion of the Northeast Dr. T Ao Football Trophy 2020 at Indira Gandhi Stadium in Kohima.

  • Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.86 metres at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa. The 22-year-old Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist breached the Olympic qualification mark of 85 metres in his fourth attempt at Potchefstroom.

Persons :
  • Australia has conferred its highest civilian honour, the Order of Australia honour, on Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw for her contribution towards advancing the country's relationship with India. Australia's High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu invested Mazumdar-Shaw as an Honorary Member within the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division at a ceremony in Bengaluru. An alumnus of Federation University Australia, Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder of Biocon, one of India's largest bio-pharmaceutical companies.

  • High court judge and human rights advocate Katerina Sakellaropoulou has been elected Greece's first female president by parliament. Sakellaropoulou was nominated by the ruling conservative New Democracy party, but also managed to secure the backing of the main opposition party Syriza and the center-left Movement for Change.

  • The ruling Nepal Communist Party's Agni Sapkota has been elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament in Nepal.

  • The Calcutta University conferred Honorary D.Lit. Degree to Nobel Laureate Prof. Abhijit Binayak Bandyopadhyay at its Annual Convocation on Jan 28, 2020. Mr Monoranjan Bapari received Rabindra Nath Tagore Memorial Medal for his outstanding contribution in the field of Literature. Prof. Joyanta Bishnu Narliker got Asutosh Mukherjee Memorial Medal at this juncture.

  • In the US, Kobe Bryant, 41-year-old National Basketball Association (NBA) legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna died in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.

Appointments :
  • Guyana(country) under Ambassador Rudolph Ten-Pow took over the chairmanship of G77. The Group of 77 (G77) is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations. G77 was established by 77 developing countries in 1964. It is located in Geneva.

  • The government appointed Challa Sreenivasulu Setty as the Managing Director (MD) of the State Bank of India (SBI) on 20th January 2020. He is appointed for a period of three years. The proposal of the Department of the Financial Services for the appointment of Setty was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

  • Union Minister Arjun Munda has been elected as the new President of the Archery Association of India (AAI). He was elected to the position during elections conducted on January 18, 2020.

  • Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Qatar on January 28, 2020.

  • Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Jan 29, 2020 took charge as new foreign secretary succeeding Vijay Gokhale. Mr Shringla is a 1984-batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service.

Days :
  • The National immunization day was observed on January 19th 2020. With an aim to maintain the 'NO POLIO' status, a nationwide programme to administer polio drops to children below 5 years was organized throughout the country.

  • The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

Environment :
  • GAIL India Ltd. plans to invest over Rs.45,000 crore over the next five years to expand the National Gas Pipeline Grid and city gas distribution network. The investment aims to boost the greater use of environment-friendly fuel. 

    Gas pipelines :
    1.) The gas pipelines are planned to take the fuel to the east and northeast regions and to consumers in the south.
    2.) The move is in line with the government's aim to raise the share of natural gas in India's energy basket to 15% by 2030 from the current 6.2%.
    3.) It also supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of creating a gas-based economy that is less reliant on polluting fuels for meeting its energy needs.
    4.) GAIL is currently operating 12,160 km of the pipeline network. It markets two-thirds of all natural gas sold in the country.
    5.) It is currently executing more than 5,500 km of pipeline projects in India.

  • India has successfully achieved the complete phase-out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b. HCFC-141b is not produced in India and all the domestic requirements are met through imports. The government announced the prohibition of the import of HCFC-141 b and has completely phased out the important ozone-depleting chemical. HCFC-141b is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises and one of the most potent ozone-depleting chemicals after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). HCFC-141b is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.

  • A study led by UNSW Sydney's Centre for Ecosystem Science said that the prolonged drought and other climatic changes in Australia have caused a threat to the extinction of Platypus. The researchers studied the potentially devastating combination of threats to platypus populations, including land clearing, climate change, water resource development, and increasingly severe periods of drought. Platypus is referred to as the duck-billed platypus. It is a unique and enigmatic mammal endemic to Australia. The semi aquatic egg-laying mammal was earlier widespread across the eastern Australian mainland and Tasmania.

  • The Punjab Government has announced a ban on three-wheelers that are older than 15 years and run on fossil fuel. The vehicles will be replaced with electric or compressed natural gas (CNG) engines.

  • A new snake eel species residing in the Bay of Bengal has been discovered and documented this month (January) by the Estuarine Biology Regional Centre (EBRC) of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) at Gopalpur-on-sea in Odisha. This new marine species has been named Ophichthus kailashchandrai to honour the vast contributions of Dr.Kailash Chandra, Director of ZSI, to Indian animal taxonomy.

  • India secured 5th spot on the annual Carbon Disclosure Project 2019 report which was published by Global non-profit organization. Carbon Disclosure Project, an initiative of the Global Reporting Initiative, is aimed at measuring the carbon reduction activities undertaken by different companies and firms operating in various countries across the globe. The report surveys corporate commitments to science-based targets (SBT) and evaluates the climate change risk that they are exposed to. In the annual report, the United States of America secured the top spot followed by Japan, United Kindom and France.

  • The World Economic Forum has launched 'One Trillion Trees Initiative' to grow, restore and conserve 1 trillion trees across the world by 2030. The global initiative is aimed at restoring biodiversity and help fight climate change. The one trillion trees project is also aimed at uniting governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses and individuals in mass-scale nature restoration.

  • Five-day Ganga Yatra with an aim to create awareness about the holy river begins from Bijnor, Ballia in Uttar Pradesh. The Yatra inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to promote biodiversity and to make the villages situated on the banks of the holy river more developed and prosperous.

  • Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that government has released seven billion dollars to all the states for intensive afforestation activities to tackle Climate Change. Addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit 2020 in New Delhi on Jan 29, 2020, Mr Javadekar said, in the last four years India is the only country in the world which have grown its tree cover by 13 thousand square kilometre. He said, with growing population, people need to focus on sustainable consumption and changing their lifestyle. The Minister said, technology with innovation will be instrumental to tackle climate change. He also advocated for more joint research and joint collaboration in this regard.



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