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18 & 19 February 2020 Current Affairs

International :

  • Hindi is the 3rd most spoken language of the world in 2019 with 615 million speakers. 
    The 22nd edition of the world language database Ethnologue stated English at the top of the list with 1,132 million speakers. 
    Chines Mandarin is at the second position with 1,117 million speakers. 
    Bangla has been ranked as the 7th most spoken language of the world. Bangla has 228 million native speakers. 

    Ethnologue brings out an yearly database of living languages of the world since its establishment in 1951. The current round of the database covers 7,111 living languages of the world. In addition to living languages, Ethnologue also contains data on languages which have gone out of use in recent history. This edition lists 348 such languages.

National :

  • Union Government will facilitate doubling of milk processing capacity from over 53 million tonne to 108 million tonne by 2025. 

    In India, milk production is growing by 6.4 per cent during the last five years and has increased from over 146 million tonne in 2014-15 to over 187 million Tonne in 2018-19. The Ministry said, about 54 per cent of milk produced is marketable surplus and remaining 46 per cent is retained in villages for local consumption.

  • Union Government has decided to rename the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, IDSA as Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The decision has been taken to honour the commitment and legacy of late Manohar Parrikar. It will align the vision and aspiration of the premier defence institute with the contribution of the former Defence Minister and Padma Bhushan awardee. 

    An autonomous body under Ministry of Defence, IDSA was established as a registered society in New Delhi in 1965, dedicated to objective research and policy relevant studies on all aspects of defence and security. Its aim is to promote national and international security through the generation and dissemination of knowledge on defence and security-related issues. To achieve its goals, the institute undertakes scholarly research, policy-oriented research, dissemination of research findings, training and capacity building and public education.

  • The Soil Health Card Scheme has completed five years on February 17, 2020. The scheme was launched in 2015 to assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country. 

    The objectives of the scheme are to issue Soil Health Cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in fertilization practices. Soil Health Card provides information to farmers on the nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on the appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

  • Union Government has set an ambitious target to achieve 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education by 2030 to equip its working population with employable skills. 

    Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said this at the 33rd Convocation Ceremony of Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU in New Delhi on February 17, 2020. Currently, the Gross Enrollment Ratio is around 26 per cent. Mr Nishank said, IGNOU and similar institutes have to play an important role to achieve the target of enrollment ratio.

  • India has become the first country in the entire world which has made the entire Haj-2020 process 100 per cent digital.

  • The World Bank and Government of India signed a USD 450 million loan agreement to improve India’s groundwater requirements. The major objective of this agreement is to curb the declining level of groundwater and strengthening the efforts with groundwater in India. This program will increase the recharge of aquifers, initiate measures related to water conservation, promote activities related to water harvesting, water management, and crop conformity, create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management and continuous groundwater management Communities and related stakeholders will be enabled for management. 

    Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) : 
    1.) Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) is also known as National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme. The scheme will be implemented in Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. All these states have alluvial aquifers of the Indus-Gangetic plains and hard rock aquifers of peninsular India. 

    2.) The government of India selected these states because of their certain features and specific criteria. It includes experience in groundwater exploitation, constructively established regulatory and statutory bodies, implementing programs related to groundwater management. 

    3.) The Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) aims to strengthen the institutional framework associated with participatory groundwater management. It also aims to encourage changes in people's behavior at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management.

Bilateral :

  • Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to sign a Free Trade Agreement to enhance trade between the two countries. Bangladesh has also agreed to allow Nepal to use it Saidpur airport located in its northernmost district of Nilphamari close to Nepal. Bangladesh exports commodities worth $38 million to Nepal and imports goods worth around 18 million dollars.

Economy :

  • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to permit the use of regulatory sandbox, a system that will allow live testing of new products, services and business models by market players on select customers. The decision was taken at SEBI’s board meeting held in Mumbai on February 17, 2020. 

    The proposed 'regulatory sandbox' is intended to serve as a testing ground for new business models and technologies that benefit investors, Indian markets and the economy at large. 

    Under this framework, the eligible entities will be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with fintech solutions in a live environment and on real customers, while ensuring that there are necessary safeguards for investor protection and risk mitigation.

Days :

  • Soil Health Card Day is being observed across the India on February 19, 2020. This day is observed because Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Soil Health Card Scheme on February 19, 2015, in Suratgarh, Rajasthan. A government agency collects the soil samples from villages and distributes Soil Health Cards to all the farmers. Apart from that, farmers are also given information about using natural fertilizers.

Persons :

  • Mickey Wright, often described as the greatest woman golfer of all times, died at Florida in the United States at the age of 85 on February 17, 2020. Her haul of 13 major victories included four US Women's Open titles and four US Women's PGA Championships.

Appointments :

  • Australia has appointed former New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell as the next high commissioner to India. Mr O'Farrell will succeed Harinder Sidhu who has been in the office since 2016.

Defence :

  • Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat on February 17, 2020 said there are plans to create a Peninsula Command with Navy’s Eastern and Western Command under it. General Rawat said India is looking at setting up two to five theatre commands. He said Air Defence command will be rolled out by beginning of next year and peninsula command will be rolled out soon.

Sports :

  • Sachin Tendulkar's 2011 world cup moment becomes Laureus best sporting moment. Indian cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar being carried on the shoulders of his team mates following India's world cup triumph in 2011 was voted as the Laureus best sporting moment in the past 20 years. 

    First held in 2000, the Annual Laureus Sports Awards honour the greatest and most inspirational sporting triumphs of the year. On the 20th anniversary of the awards, the Laureus sporting moments award allowed people to vote for the most inspiring sporting moment of the past 20 years.

  • Jammu and Kashmir to host its first-ever Indoor National Rowing Championship soon.

  • India to host Men's Hockey Junior World Cup in 2021. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced this at Lausanne in Switzerland on February 17, 2020. This is the second time that India will be hosting the prestigious tournament, having staged it in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh in 2016, where the hosts lifted the coveted trophy.

  • South Africa to host women's Hockey Junior World Cup in 2021.

  • The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has received the "Grassroots Charter Bronze Level" membership of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). This declaration accords AIFF the right to promote its grassroots events and activities with the support and recognition of the AFC in accordance with the applicable terms of the AFC Grassroots Charter.

Environment :

  • The State of India’s Birds 2020 Report was recently released at the 13th COP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The report has been prepared with the help of a massive database of more than 10 million observations uploaded by 15,000 birdwatchers on the 'e-bird' platform. 

    It is India’s first of its kind report that highlights observations by birdwatchers form the basis of the analyses. The project was started in May 2018 as a means to collect the actual data of birds in India. The final report was released on February 17, 2020, at 13th COP to the convention on migratory species held in Gujarat. 

    Key Highlights of Report : 
    • The report suggests that about 867 birds were assessed which made it clear that almost all the species are declining.
    • The report categorises 101 species as of High Conservation Concern, 59 based on their range size and abundance trends, and an additional 42 based on their IUCN Red List status.
    • According to the report, India has witnessed a big decline in migratory shorebirds, raptors, Indian Vulture, Large-billed Lea Warbler, Curlew Sandpiper, Richard’s Pipit and While-rumped Vulture.
    • The report also highlights that some species have increased in numbers such as Glossy Ibis, Rosy Starling, Ashy Prinia, and Feral Pigeon.
    • Birds were divided into different categories – 101 birds as a high concern, 319 birds as moderate concern and 442 birds as low concern species.



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