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29 February 2020 Current Affairs

National :
  • The Union Minister of State PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh on February 29, 2020 inaugurated the ‘Pension Adalat’ and National Pension System (NPS) Awareness and Grievance Redressal Programme in Jammu. 

    He said that this is the first time that Pension Adalat is being conducted outside Delhi as the government wants to reach out to every part of society and every part of the country to get the grievances redressed in the real-time as aspired by the Prime Minister.

  • Tripura State Government and Airport Authority of India has signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of six equipment hiring centers in Manu Block under the Dhalai District of Tripura. 

    The project has been taken as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility scheme. He said in the equipment hiring centers, equipment related to agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries will be kept. He further said the types of equipment will be rented out to the needy farmers, Self Help Groups and to any other needy at a minimal cost.

  • NITI Aayog, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), launched an AI-based Module rolled out for students in Indian schools on 27th February. 

    The aim is to empower the youngest minds of the country with the latest technologies. The AI module aims to leverage the full potential of AIM's Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL). It will also empower them to innovate and create valuable solutions benefiting societies at large. 

    AI-based Module :
    1.) NITI Aayog is to introduce the Learn-It-Yourself module in all 5000 Atal Tinkering Labs, with over 2.5 million students having access to it.

    2.) The hands-on AI module was designed by considering academic, co-scholastic, and other ATL programs at school.

    3.) The Module was formulated to encourage young students to contribute to the journey of nation-building.

    4.) It will be a catalyst for the youth to explore, ideate, and learn the latest technologies and build a generation of innovators at the grassroots level.

    5.) The Module contains many activities, experiments, and videos that will enable students to work through and learn the various concepts of AI.

    Atal Innovation Mission :
    Atal Innovation Mission is the Government of India's flagship initiative. AIM's main objective is to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. AIM establishes ATLs at the school level in all districts across India. AIM has selected 14,916 schools across India from 33 different states and union territories, for the establishment of ATLs.

  • The Union Cabinet approved to grant the status of National Importance to National Institutes of Food Technology (NIFT) at Kundli, Haryana, and Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, on 26th February. 

    The approval to grant National Importance status will bring more professionalism and lead to faster growth of these institutes. The status will lead to improved quality in the institutes.

  • Shri R. K. Singh, the Union Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy & Minister of State (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), inaugurated the Northern Region Renewable Energy Management Centre (NR-REMC) at a function in New Delhi on 28 February 2020.

Bilateral :
  • US-Taliban Peace Deal 2020 : The US and Taliban signed a ‘historic’ peace deal recently after nearly 17 months of on-going negotiations. The peace deal was signed on February 29, 2020 at Doha and is aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. 

    The deal was signed between the representatives of the US Government and the Taliban in Qatar’s Doha in the presence of representatives from various countries including India. India's Ambassador to Qatar P Kumaran was among a host of diplomats present at the ceremony where the deal was inked.

    The US-Taliban peace deal will also bring an end to the massive investment of money and lives, as the US has spent over $750 billion and tens of thousand human lives have been lost or permanently scarred and interrupted on all sides in the decades-long war. 

    The four key aspects of the deal are :

    1.) US Troops Withdrawal

    2.) Intra-Afghan Talks

    3.) Taliban to Shun Terrorism 

    4.) Prisoner Swap

Economy :
  • India has overtaken France and the UK to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, as per IMF’s October World Economic Outlook. 

    The IMF data from last year shows that when ranked by nominal GDP, India has jumped past both France and the UK to regain its fifth-largest economy spot. On the other hand, India's real GDP is predicted to witness slow growth in the year ahead due to credit weakness. 

    India had previously slipped down the seventh position following a major slowdown in economic growth. However, despite the current jump, India is battling with challenges concerning sustainability and infrastructure.

  • Online payment processor Worldline India reported that Bengaluru accounted for the highest number of digital transactions in India in 2019. 

    The aim is to move India towards a less-cash economy. 

    Highlights :

    1.) As per the report, Bengaluru is followed by Chennai, Mumbai, and Pune.

    2.) United Payments Interface (UPI) was the most preferred mode of payment. It is followed by debit cards, immediate payment service (IMPS), and credit cards, in terms of volume share of digital transactions. In 2019, the four payment modes recorded a combined transaction volume of over 20 trillion and a combined value of over Rs.54 trillion.

    3.) UPI, which is operated by the National Payment Council of India (NPCI), recorded around 10.8 billion transactions in 2019, a 188% year-on-year (YoY). In terms of value, UPI facilitated transactions worth Rs.18.36 trillion in 2019, up 214% YoY compared to 2018.

Awards :
  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was conferred the Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee award 2020 for Politics on 28th February. Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee award was instituted by India Foundation. The award carries a citation, a specially designed trophy and a cheque worth Rs.1 lakh.

  • President of India, Ram Nath Kovind conferred national awards to 21 winners for science communication and popularization including women excellence awards for meritorious women scientists on the occasion of National Science Day. 

    The awards included Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) Awards, National Science and Technology Communication Awards, SERB Women Excellence Awards, and National Award for Young Woman Showing Excellence through Application of Technology for Societal Benefits. 

    Three initiatives:On the occasion, President announced three key initiatives for Gender Advancement and Equality in Academic and Research Institutions. 

    1) VigyanJyoti: VigyanJyoti is an initiative that will create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education. 

    2) GATI: The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) initiative will develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing the Gender Equality in STEM. 

    3) Online portal for S&T resources for women: An online portal for science and technology resources for women will provide e-resources related to all women-specific government schemes, scholarships, fellowships, career counseling with details of subject area experts from various disciplines in science and technology.

Persons :
  • Balbir Singh Kullar, former Indian hockey player and Olympic Bronze medalist passed away on February 28, 2020.

Appointments :
  • Malaysian King has appointed Muhyiddin Yassin as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Days :
  • National Protein Day of India was observed on 27 February. The day marks the annual commemorative day to rally Indians towards the mission of protein awareness and sufficiency. 

    The theme of India Protein Day 2020 is #ProteinMeinKyaHai. The theme aims to spread more knowledge about protein. The main objective of the day is to bring about a behavioral change by persuading Indians to eat adequate protein in every meal. 

    The India Protein day was launched on 27 February 2020 under the Right to Protein, a national-level public health initiative. The day was launched to draw public attention, raise awareness, and educate India on the health benefits of protein. The day is observed in many countries globally. 

    Right to Protein initiative is India's first advocacy program that calls for the right to adequate protein as the core of nutrition for India. The initiative aims to improve the quality and consistency of different types of protein consumed in India. It also aims to lead to greater protein consumption by poultry, livestock, and pisciculture& aquaculture, including fish & shrimp farming.

  • World rare disease day is observed on 28/29 (last day of) February. The day aims to raise awareness for the millions of people who are impacted by a rare disease. It aims to educate people about rare diseases and their impacts. 

    The theme of the day is "Reframe Rare". The theme encourages everyone to take steps to clarify many of the misconceptions that can make people with rare diseases feel isolated and affect the quality of care and support they receive. The Slogan for 2020 is "Rare is Many. Rare is Strong. Rare is Proud." 

    The World rare disease day was first launched by the European Organization for Rare Disorders (EURORDIS) and its Council of National Alliances on 29 February 2008, a rare date that comes only once in four years. Since then the day is observed on the last day of February. In 2009. the US joined with EURORIDS. By 2017, over 94 countries joined the alliance.

Environment :
  • NTPC Limited has agreed to help the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to set up 25 Continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) across six States and three Union Territories (UTs) in India. 

    1.) As per the agreement, NTPC will provide financial support of Rs.80 crore for the installation of CAAQMS in the States and Union Territories.

    2.) The six states are Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Patna in Bihar, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, and Allahabad all in Uttar Pradesh, Pimpri-Chinchwad in Maharashtra and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

    3.) The 3 UTs where the CAAQMS will be installed are Port Blair in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Silvassa in Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman in Daman & Diu.

    4.) The data collected from the respective stations will be used for the evaluation of the air quality index for these cities.



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