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27 & 28 February 2020 Current Affairs

International :
  • Sri Lankan government on February 26, 2020 formally informed the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) its decision to withdraw from co-sponsoring the resolution on addressing of war crimes and accountability issues. Foreign minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the UNHRC session in Geneva that the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa before 2015 established domestic mechanisms to address issues related to accountability, rule of law and human rights.

  • Sri Lankan Government has decided not to sign the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) with the US Government. Sri Lankan Minister Bandula Gunawardana told that the decision is based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee and the agreement will not be signed in its present form. 

    The MCC agreement is to provide a grant of 480 million US dollars to Sri Lanka for development of transport and land deeds based on certain conditions. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had appointed a committee to look into the agreement after coming into power last November while the former government had approved it.

  • 'Hurun Global Rich List 2020' recently revealed that Mukesh Ambani is the richest person in India while Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. 

    Mukesh Ambani is the ninth richest person in the world. 

    Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, and CEO, is the richest man in the world despite losing USD 7 billion in one year. 

    Bernard Arnault was ranked second in the list while Microsoft founder Bill Gates secured third place in the list. 

National :
  • Government of India has sanctioned 32 projects in the food processing sector under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY). The projects are spread across around 17 states leveraging an investment worth 406 Crore rupees. They were cleared by the Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee chaired by Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in New New Delhi on February 27, 2020. 

    These projects envisage the creation of direct and indirect employment for around fifteen thousand persons along with employment opportunities in rural areas to be the focus area. 

    The main objective of PMKSY is creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernisation of existing food processing units to increase the level of processing and value addition leading to reduction of wastage.

  • The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the issuance of an order for an adaptation of Central Acts in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 by the Government of India. 

    According to the section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, the Central Government has powers to make adaptations and modifications of the laws, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of facilitating the application of any law made before the appointed date till the expiration of one year from the appointed date in relation to the successor Union territories.

  • Knight Frank India reported that Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport ranked highest in duty-free revenue per passenger at $10-11 per passenger.

  • The Indian Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, on 26 February. The Bill will allow widows and divorced women to be surrogate mothers. The Bill aims to ensure effective regulation of the surrogacy service. It bans commercial surrogacy and allows altruistic surrogacy. 

    Bill provisions:
    1.) The Bill aims to ensure effective regulation of the surrogacy service.

    2.) The Bill has now proposed that the surrogate mother should be a "willing" woman. Earlier it was termed and instructed as "close relative." The Bill has recommended that not only close relatives but any woman, whether she is a widow or divorcee, who is "willing" should be allowed to act as a surrogate mother.

    3.) The Bill stated that only Indian couples (both partners being of Indian origins) could opt for surrogacy in the country.

    4.) The Cabinet decided that the insurance cover of the surrogate mother, which was proposed for 16 months, should be increased to 36 months.

    5.) As per the Bill, National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Board and appropriate authorities in states and Union Territories (UT) respectively, will be established to regulate surrogacy.

    6.) The commercial surrogacy, including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to Indian married couples, will be prohibited.

Bilateral :
  • India and Myanmar have agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relations. Both sides on February 27, 2020 signed 10 agreements in various fields including infrastructure, energy, communication and health. The agreements were exchanged following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar President U Win Myint in New Delhi. Both leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral issues. 

    Reaffirming India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies and Myanmar’s non-aligned foreign policy both leaders committed to further strengthen the bilateral relations. 

    Both sides agreed to cooperate in countering terrorist groups and their actions. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed full support for Myanmar’s peace process between Government, Military and Ethnic Armed Groups.

    Co-operation in defence and security along with matter of enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagements was also discussed. 

    India reiterated its support for peace , stability and development in Rakhine state

    Coordinated Bus Service between Imphal and Mandalay is expected to begin from April this year. 

    The Indian side reiterated its commitment for construction of the Integrated Check Post in Tamu, Myanmar. 

  • A ten-member delegation of MPs, members of the Committee on the Constitution in Riksdag, the Parliament of Sweden, visited the Election Commission in New Delhi. The delegation met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra on February 26, 2020. 

    The delegation was led by Ms Karin Enstrom, MP and Chair of the Committee on the Constitution in Riksdag. In his remarks, Mr Arora said the Commission is committed to hold free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. Ms Enstrom gave an overview of the Swedish electoral system in which simultaneous elections are held for municipal, county and national elections.

Business :
  • New Zealand's Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker on February 27, 2020 congratulated India on the impressive strides it has made in Ease of Doing Business. 

    Addressing the gathering at the ‘India-New Zealand Business Forum’ organized by FICCI in New Delhi, Mr Parker said India is a dynamic country and it is of increasing importance to New Zealand. He said India is in the midst of a wonderful transformation and his country wants to be a part of it. He pointed out that India and New Zealand have complimentary economic strengths.

Defence :
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new Light Combat Helicopter(LCH) Production Hangar at Helicopter Division in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Complex at Bengaluru, Karnataka on February 27, 2020. 

    LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter. LCH has the distinction of being the first attach helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 4,700 mts above sea level with 500kg load.

  • The Indian Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Vessel ICGS Varad has been commissioned on February 28, 2020. It was inducted into service in the Chennai Port. The ship Varad will be based at Paradip in Odisha, under the operational control of the Coast Guard North Eastern Region. 

    About ICGS Varad :
    1.) The 98 meter long vessel has been designed and built by the L&T at its yard at Kattupalli near Chennai, as per the specifications of the Coast Guard. 

    2.) The ship is fitted with modern navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery. 

    3.) It is equipped with 30 mm and 12.7 mm guns. 

    4.) It has special onboard features like the Integrated Bridge System, Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System and High Power External Fire-Fighting system.

    5.) It can carry a twin engine helicopter and four high speed boats for swift boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. 

    6.) The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment for oil spill response at sea.

  • The 5th edition of Joint Military Exercise "Ajeya Warrior 2020" concluded at West down Camp, Salisbury Plains Training Area, UK. 

    The exercise was held between India and the United Kingdom. Brigadier Tom Bewick, Commander of UK 7 Infantry Brigade and Brigadier Gavin, DefenceAttache of the UK in India attended the closing ceremony of the event. 

    The exercise was aimed to conduct company-level joint training with an emphasis on counter-terrorist operations in urban and semi-urban areas.

  • The 6th Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV-6) 'VAJRA' was launched on 27 February at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 

    About VAJRA:
    1.) The 6th OPV VAJRA will strengthen the efforts of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to secure over 7500 km of vast coastline.

    2.) The vessel will secure the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that covers over 20 lakh sq km and more than one lakh merchant ships transiting per year through Indian waters for global trade.

    3.) 6th OPV will enhance the Operation, Surveillance, Search & Rescue of ICG.

    4.) The vessel was delivered by M/s L&T Shipbuilding under the Make in India policy.

    5.) The ship will be used for day and night patrol or surveillance along with anti-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations in EEZ and Coastal Security.

    6.) The OPV is equipped with two Navigation Radars with ultra-modern technology, Sophisticated navigational, and latest communication systems.

Days :
  • National Science Day is celebrated in India on February 28, 2020. 

    On this day, Sir CV Raman had announced the discovery of the Raman Effect for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. 

    The theme of 2020 is "Women in science". This theme has been chosen for the purpose of increasing public appreciation of the scientific issues involved.

  • World NGO Day is observed on 27 February. The day aims to raise awareness about the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) sector. The day is observed every year to encourage people worldwide who are involved and dedicatedly working for a good cause.

Science & Technology :
  • The Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) launched three new technological support and alert systems on 25 February. The technology aims to significantly reduce damage and losses to fishermen, offshore oil exploration industries and coastal population during extreme weather and oceanic events.

  • The Government of India (GoI) has announced that it is to organize the mega event "Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020" (RAISE 2020). It will be India's first Artificial Intelligence (AI) summit. The event will be held from 11-12 April, 2020 in New Delhi. 

    RAISE 2020:
    1.) The summit aims to exchange ideas and charter a course to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion, and transformation in key areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility amongst other sectors of great minds.

    2.) The meeting will leverage responsible AI practices for enabling the masses.

    3.) It aims to utilize the power of AI to responsibly transform the social landscape for a better tomorrow.

    4.) RAISE 2020 focuses on facilitating an exchange of ideas to further create mass awareness about the need to ethically develop and practice AI in the digital era.

    5.) The summit is expected to witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives, and academia.

  • Xiaomi has collaborated with ISRO to bring the space agency's Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System "NavIC technology" to its smart phones. 

    The announcement was made by Xiaomi Global VP and MD Manu Jain. Xiaomi is the only smartphone brand to have worked with ISRO to bring tech that has been developed in the country to the fore, so far. 

    NavIC technology in Xiaomi : 
    1.) Many of the smartphones Xiaomi that are to be launched across multiple price points will support Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) technology. Navic was initially supported only on some Snapdragon chipsets.
    2.) The capability has been currently enabled by Qualcomm Technologies on several of its Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms.
    3.) This facility will be made available across multiple Xiaomi smart phones in India in 2020.
    4.) The move by Xiaomi is a step further towards the Make in India initiative. Xiaomi India has enabled the usage of NavIC technology across several of its devices in 2020.

    Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) :
    1.) NacIC technology is a regional geo-positioning system designed by ISRO to provide accurate positioning in India and 1,500km around the Indian mainland.
    2.) The system comprises of 7 satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit over the Indian Ocean and four that are in a geosynchronous orbit.
    3.) The NavIC will be accurate up to 5m, which much more efficient than GPS, which is said to be accurate up to 20 to 30 meters.

  • Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered a unique organism that doesn't need to breathe. Henneguya salminicola, the tiny parasite, is the first known multicellular animal that can survive without oxygen. It lives in an anaerobic environment. 

    The parasite lives in salmon tissue and evolved so that it doesn't need oxygen to produce energy. The researchers made the discovery accidentally while sequencing the Henneguya genome.

  • The Indian Government has launched a new Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS) portal to monitor the prices of TOP crops – Tomato, Onion and Potato. The system was launched by Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Delhi on February 26, 2020. 

    The MIEWS system will generate early alerts in case there is going to be a major change in the prices of these crops. This will help in planning and timely intervention for price stabilization. The portal can be accessed at this link-

Appointments :
  • Indian-origin Suella Braverman has been appointed as the UK's new Attorney General. The appointment comes in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reshuffled Cabinet in February 2020. Braverman will involve reviewing the work of the law officers' departments. She will oversee the independent prosecuting authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Serious Fraud Office.

  • Jawed Ashraf has been appointed as India's next Ambassador to France on 26 February.

  • Industrialist Ratan Tata is appointed as the chairman of the advisory council of Mumbai University.

Awards :
  • The Raja Ravi Varma State Award for the year 2019 was conferred on a veteran painter from Kalaburagi Prof. J.S. Khanderao and senior artist from Mumbai, Vasudev Kamath for the year 2020 at a programme organized in the institute premises located on Narasaraja Road in Chamundipuram, Mysore, Karnataka. 

    Raja Ravi Varma State Award was instituted by Karnataka's Shri Ravi varma Art Institute. The award carries a cash prize of Rs.10,000 and a citation.



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