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25 & 26 February 2020 Current Affairs

International :
  • 3,000 kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India: BIMSTEC 

    Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is working on connecting about 3,000-kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India. This was announced by the Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Dr Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury while inaugurating the energy conference of BIMSTEC in Dhaka on February 25, 2020. He said that the grid connectivity would ensure better capacity utilization by complementing member country’s demand and supply situation. He said, consumers will also benefit as the price of electricity will come down and they will get uninterrupted power supply. 

    BIMSTEC countries had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for establishing a regional power grid in 2018. He said that Bangladesh is in discussions with Nepal and Bhutan for trilateral power trade. He further said that regional energy integration will help build an integrated system in the region. 

    BIMSTEC is a regional grouping with seven countries from South and Southeast Asia including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan. It aims to promote regional cooperation for rapid economic development.

  • The UN Security Council has renewed its sanctions regime on Yemen for another year, after tense negotiations between Britain and Russia. Russia threatened to veto any mention, even implicit, of Iran. 

    Thirteen countries eventually adopted the London-drafted resolution on the sanctions, which now are in effect through February 2021. Russia and China abstained. 

    The sanctions plan, which have expired on February 26, 2020, includes the extension of the mandate of UN experts who monitor the arms embargo imposed in 2015. The resolution also extends the measures that provide for the freezing of assets and travel bans on targeted officials.

National :
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned an amount of 400.64 crore rupees to UT of J&K during the current financial year for giving boost to the infrastructure in the rural areas. The funding is a part of the NABARD’s "Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) - Trench XXV" which aims at augmenting rural infrastructure. 

    The Bank has sanctioned 209.87 crore rupees for construction of 82 rural roads and 03 bridges earlier this year. A road length of 291 kms will be constructed benefiting 9.15 lakh people in 19 districts of UT of J&K. The construction of roads and bridges would provide all weather improved connectivity to 461 remote villages. An amount of 143.66 crore rupees has been sanctioned for implementation of 38 water supply schemes. 

    The schemes will benefit over 3.54 lakh people across 86 villages in 17 districts of UT of J&K. Similarly, the Bank has sanctioned an amount of 47.11 crore rupees towards improving the Animal and Sheep Husbandry sectors.

  • US First Lady Melania Trump on February 25, 2020 visited Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in South Moti Bagh, New Delhi. She interacted with students at the Delhi government school and witnessed various activities conducted as part of the happiness curriculum. She thanked all educators for setting positive example and giving skills, knowledge to students. 

    Addressing the students in the school, Melania said, it is very inspiring that students begin their day with practising mindfulness and connecting with nature. She said, in the US, she works with children to promote similar ideas of well-being through BE BEST initiative. Students of the school gifted Madhubani paintings made by them to the First Lady.

  • Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in the country to introduce the unified registration card and the second state to launch the unified driving license after Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Kamal Nath distributed the unified cards, including vehicle registration and driving license, to six persons in a function held in Bhopal on February 25, 2020. 

    Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had issued the guidelines to bring uniformity in driving licenses and vehicle registration cards across the country in March, 2019. These cards are being issued in compliance with these guidelines. The new cards will have more exhaustive information printed on both the sides of the cards. It will also bear a unique number recognized across the country. 

    The unified smart cards for driving license and vehicle registration will each have a QR code that will help in verifying authenticity of the data printed on the cards. The unified driving license card will also have information about the ability of the driver to drive in hilly and dangerous areas and an emergency contact number.

  • Union Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' chaired a high-level meeting to review the progress of the Public and Private institutions which were considered to be given the status of Institutions of Eminence (IoE) on 24th February. 

    The focus of the government under the IoE Scheme is to provide quality education to the students of the country in the areas of research and innovation. The institutions that are recognized under the Scheme works to improve their position in global rankings and to make these institutions, the centres of excellence at a global level.

  • Government has successfully installed 10 lakh smart meters across India under the Government of India's Smart Meter National Programme (SMNP). The announcement was made by the Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, New & Renewable Energy R.K. Singh. 

    The aim of the programme is to bring efficiency in the distribution system leading to better service delivery. In every substation, the capacity of the solar power plants ranges from 0.5 MW to 10 MW. 

    The programme is being implemented through Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL). The SMNP aims to replace 250 million conventional meters in India with smart meters.

Bilateral :
  • India and the United States on February 25, 2020 finalized defence deals worth 3 billion dollars and signed three agreements, including in health and oil sectors. 

    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on mental health between the health departments of both the two countries. 

    Another MoU on the safety of medical products was signed between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization with the US Food and Drug Administration. 

    A Letter of Cooperation was signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Exxon Mobil India LNG Limited and Chart Industries Inc, US. 

    India has said that the Indo-US comprehensive strategic global partnership has been reinforced by the visit of US President Donald Trump.

Economy :
  • Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das has said that slowing credit growth is one of the most critical challenges for the banking industry. He said credit growth has moderated to 7-7.5 per cent this year and there is a need to focus on prudent lending by the banks. 

    Addressing the Mint annual banking conclave in Mumbai on February 24, 2020 the apex Bank Governor stated that to facilitate the flow of credit, the RBI has taken several steps like reducing repo rate, facilitating bank refinance to NBFCs for onlending to priority sector and providing long-term repo operation (LTRO), among others. He said the strength of a banking system depends on the strength of its corporate governance that fosters a robust and ethics-driven compliance culture.

  • National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER),a New Delhi based non-profit think tank of economics, has estimated India’s economic growth rate to be 4.9 % for the current Financial year-FY 2019-20, which is lower than the 5 % estimation by the National Statistical Office (NSO). 

    Key Points :
    i.) At the same time, NCAER has expressed the hope that in the year 2020-21, the country’s growth rate can be up to 5.6%.

    ii.) In the quarterly review of the economy, the institute has predicted the growth rate could be 4.9 % in the third quarter of the current financial year (Q3: 2019-20) and it is expected to increase to 5.1 % in the fourth quarter (Q4: 2019-20).

    iii.) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also predicted a growth rate of 5% for 2019-20.

    iv.) Food inflation will come down: As per NCAER, due to monsoon and subsequent good rains, the water reserves in the major water sources of the country have increased, due to which the prospects of the agricultural sector are looking good. So, this year agricultural production is estimated to be better than in 2019.

Business :
  • Secretary of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Injeti Srinivas has launched the new company incorporation "Spice+" Web form on 24th February. It is a part of a comprehensive package to make life easier for someone starting a business. The move is in line with India's Ease of Doing Business (EODB) initiatives. 

    Spice+ form :
    1.) Spice+ form will replace the existing Spice form.
    2.) The form offers 10 services by 3 Central government Ministries & Departments namely the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour& Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance and Maharashtra State Government. It will save many procedures, time and cost for Starting a Business in India. It will be applicable for all new company incorporations.
    3.) The form has at least five new formalities including Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and professional tax registration, the opening of bank account and GST registration.
    4.) SPICe+ will reduce the time taken for the process and the cost of registering a company that was estimated at around 4 hours in December-January.
    5.) It has been estimated that on average, the name reservation takes around 3 hours.
    6.) This was tested by the Ministry and has already processed 90% of the forms that are received in a day.

Persons :
  • Egypt's former President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years, died on February 25, 2020. He was 91. A former air force chief, Mubarak became Vice President of Egypt on 14 October 1981, and just eight days later, was sworn in as the President after Islamist militants assassinated his predecessor Anwar Sadat during a military parade.

  • Adline Castelino won the LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020 title. She was crowned by Vartika Singh, Miss Diva Universe 2019, at an event held on Mumbai.

Sports :
  • The events of the shooting and archery as part of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games-2022 will be held in Chandigarh.

  • Jammu and Kashmir bagged gold medal in the 6th National Ice Stock Sports Championship organized at Ice Rink in Gulmarg. 200 participants from 18 different states across the country participated in the three-day event which concluded on February 25, 2020. The event was organized by J&K Ice Stock Sports Association under the aegis of Indian Ice Stock Sports Federation and sponsored by J&K Tourism Department.

  • Indian men's doubles pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan clinched the silver medal at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Hungarian Open under Men's doubles category.

Awards :
  • Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' presents Vishwakarma Awards 2019 to the winners in New Delhi. It was organized in the All India Council for Technical Training. 

    23 groups were awarded the Chatra Vishwakarma Awards (CVA). 6 institutes were awarded the Utkrisht Santhan Vishwakarma Award (USVA). 

    The award recognizes college students who have good potential and are an asset to the nation. He appreciated NITI Ayog and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi) to support college students by bringing their concepts into actuality.

Science & Technology :
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F10) will launch Geo Imaging Satellite (GISAT-1) from the Second Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is tentatively scheduled at 1743 Hrs IST on March 05, 2020, subject to weather conditions.

Days :
  • The first anniversary of the National War Memorial is observed on February 25, 2020. The monument was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019. 

    The memorial is a fitting tribute to those heroes who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during various wars and internal security challenges since Independence. 

    The memorial helps in strengthening the sense of high moral values, sacrifice and national pride in the citizens. Over the last one year, more than 21 lakh people including dignitaries, both domestic and foreign, have visited the memorial.

  • February 26, 2020 is the first anniversary of Balakot strike carried out by the Indian Air Force. On this day in the year 2019, Air strikes were conducted during the wee hours on terror launch pads located in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa province. A very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed, JeM terrorists, trainers and Jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen attacks were eliminated by the Indian Air Force.

Environment :
  • Two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer to a surrogate mother for the first time, Ohio zoo officials announced on 24 February, 2020. The male and female cubs were born to 3-year-old Izzy at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on 26 February, 2020. The biological mother of the cubs is 6-year-old Kibibi who has never reproduced and is too old to easily become pregnant naturally.



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