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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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