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February 2020 National News

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The National Museum in New Delhi is hosting a unique exhibition on India’s ancient food history called "Historical Gastronomica - The Indus Dining Experience" till the 25th February that goes back to over 5000 years ago. The event is curated jointly by the National Museum and One Station Million Stories (OSMS) - is based on archaeological research, museum artifacts and their characteristics. The exhibition demonstrates the evolution of food habits, food processing techniques and related architecture of the Harappans. Recreation of food of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization by National Award-winning Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is one of the main attractions of this exhibition which is first of its kind in the country.

  • The fourth Anniversary of the launch of Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was observed on 21st February 2020. In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Mission with the vision to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth. 

    The Mission aims at transforming these Rurban clusters by stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters. This will lead to the holistic development of the region and encourage integrated and inclusive rural development.

  • Haryana government will open "Atal Kisan - Majdoor" canteens in all mandis and sugar mills across the state to provide affordable and cheap meals to farmers and labourers at a concessional rate of 10 rupees per plate.

  • Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani jointly inaugurated National Organic Food Festival in New Delhi on February 21, 2020. The three-day festival aims at strengthening organic market and encouraging women entrepreneurs engaged in manufacturing of organic produce. Around 180 woman entrepreneurs and different self-help groups SHGs from across the nation are exhibiting their organic products in various segments.

  • Atal Innovation Mission, the flagship initiative of NITI Aayog, has contributed immensely to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. A cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had on 24th February 2016 given its approval for the establishment of Atal Innovation Mission. 

    The Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories in schools across India to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds and inculcate skills such as design mindset and computational thinking. The Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated innovation workspaces of 1200-1500 square feet where kits on the latest technologies like 3D Printers and Robotics are installed using a grant of 20 lakh rupees from the government. 

    Students from Class 6 to Class 12 can tinker with these technologies and learn to create innovative solutions using these technologies. Atal Innovation Mission is setting up world-class Atal Incubators at the university, NGO, SME and Corporate industry levels that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups. The Mission is providing a grant of upto 10 crore rupees to successful applicants for setting up greenfield incubators or scaling up existing ones.

  • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme completes one year on February 24, 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the scheme on 24th February 2019 at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. 

    Under the Scheme, an amount of 6000 rupees per year is transferred in three equal installments of 2000 rupees in every four months directly into the bank accounts of the farmers. Launching the PM - Kisan scheme from Gorakhpur on this day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the scheme will help farmers in meeting their agricultural and domestic needs. Over 8.46 crore farmers have been given the benefits of the scheme till 20th of this month.

  • Government has amended provisions of Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 to increase the number of firearms that can be kept by shooters and enhanced quantity of ammunition fixed for practice for the year. As per the new rules, now international medalists and renowned shooters are allowed to keep additional weapons up to a total of twelve under the exempted category, which earlier was seven. 

    Through the amendments it has also been clarified that no license is required for Indian citizens for acquisitions, possession of small arms falling under the category of curio. However, appropriate license as prescribed would be required for use or to carry or transport such small arms. Without the endorsement of such firearms in the prescribed license of the owner, no ammunition shall be sold for their use.

  • On February 21, 2020 Union Minister of State for shipping Mansukh Mandaviya, inaugurated the India’s first floating jetty on the banks of Mandovi river, Goa and also an immigration facility office at a cruise terminal in Vasco, Goa. 

    The floating jetty is made up of cement concrete which was built on a short time, will boost inland waterways, they are environment friendly and 3 more will be built in Goa. The new floating jetty can be resized, realigned and relocated as per requirement.

  • The Government of Telangana hosted the Bio-Asia Summit 2020 in Hyderabad between 17 to 19 February, 2020. The main objective of the summit is to explore the capabilities of Life Science Companies and their investments. The theme of the Summit is "Today for Tomorrow". 

    India is the third largest biotechnology destination in Asia Pacific. There are more than 523 USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) approved Indian owned plants spread all over the world. This is the second highest in the world.

  • Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal has said that the Indian pharma and biotech industry is expected to grow to 100 billion dollars by 2025 from the current size of about 40 billion dollars. He predicted an annual growth rate of 10 per cent despite the global slow down and the recent Corona virus outbreak.  Speaking at the CEO’s Conclave of the Bio-Asia in Hyderabad, the Minister assured the industry that the government will be supporting the life sciences industry to thrive further by granting patent approvals in a record period of time.

  • Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) is one of the key projects of the Home Ministry to provide one emergency number to provide timely assistance to a person in distress. In the emergency situation, call can be made to the 112 number for help. This service is presently available in 28 States and Union Territories. The 112 India Mobile App can be downloaded for free and the help is available with press of a button. 

    ERSS is a pan-India single, internationally recognized 112 number based response system for all emergencies. It is a computer aided dispatch of resources, accessible through call, SMS, e-mail, 112 India Mobile App along with shout facility for women and children.

  • Indian Cabinet approved Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill for the welfare of Women in the Country. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the bill ensures reproductive rights to every woman in the country. The bill envisages instilling confidence of ethical practices in Assisted Reproductive Technology services.  Under the provisions of the bill, a National Board will be constituted which will specify a code of conduct to be observed by persons working at such clinics.

  • The government of India will launch Tilhan Mission to make the country self-reliant in oil seed production. The government has also decided to create 10 thousand Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO) across the country for which an assistance of over 6,000 crore rupees will be provided. He also said, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will not be mandatory for farmers and it will be voluntary for them.

  • Indian Cabinet has approved the constitution of an empowered Technology Group which will advise the Government on priorities and strategies for research on emerging technologies across sectors. The group intends to ensure that India has appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of the Indian Industry. 

    This Group is mandated to render timely policy advice on the latest technologies, mapping of technology and technology products, commercialization of dual-use technologies developed in national laboratories and government Research and Development.

  • Indian Cabinet on February 19, 2020 approved the constitution of the Twenty-second Law Commission of India. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the commission will function for a period of three years from its date of official constitution. The Commission will give recommendations on different aspects of law which are entrusted to it. 

    It shall also undertake studies and research for bringing reforms in the justice delivery systems for elimination of delay in procedures and speedy disposal of cases among others. Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government from time to time. The tenure of the twenty-first Law Commission ended in August 2018.

  • Indian Cabinet has approved the Phase- 2 of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Grameen till 2024-25, which will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus).  The program will work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet. 

    The phase-2 of the mission will be implemented in a mission mode with a total estimated budgeted financial implication of 52 thousand 497 crore rupees. The ODF Plus programme will also converge with MGNREGA, especially for grey water management and will also complement the newly launched Jal Jeevan Mission.

  • Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be set up by the first week of April, 2020. The CCPA to be set up under Consumer Protection Act 2019, will address issues related to consumer rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements and impose penalties for selling spurious and adulterated products.

  • The Union Cabinet of India has approved Elevation of Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), Gujarat as Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG (N)) under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY), Government of India. 

    Benefits :
    1. To maintain efficiency and innovation of services, the current skilled manpower working at BISAG may join the national level institute on as-is and where-is basis.
    2. To facilitate implementation of expanded scope of activities.
    3. To facilitate efficient rollout of GIS projects.
    4. To facilitate aid research & development and technology development.
    5. Facilitate development planning and good governance through spatial decision support systems.

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved revamping of "Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)" and "Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)" to address the existing challenges in implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes.

  • 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.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 17, 2020 inaugurated the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar through Video Conferencing. 

    The theme of the Conference is "Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home." 

    The CMS COP13 logo is inspired by ‘Kolam’, a traditional artform from southern India. In the logo, Kolam art form is used to depict key migratory species in India like Amur falcon, humpback whale and marine turtles. 

    The mascot for CMS COP13, “Gibi - The Great Indian Bustard” is a critically endangered species, which has been accorded the highest protection status under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 

    As the host, India will be designated the President for the next three years. India is signatory to the Convention on Conservation of Migratory wild Animals since 1983. Government has been taking necessary actions to protect and conserve migratory marine species. 

  • Government of India has decided to rename Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra in New Delhi as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan and Foreign Service Institute in the national capital as Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service. The announcement was made on February 13, 2020 by the Ministry of External Affairs on the eve of the birth anniversary of Mrs Swaraj and in the honour of the legacy and decades of public service of the former External Affairs Minister.

  • The Union Cabinet approved MoU between India and Iceland in the field of Sustainable Fisheries Development. The MoU was signed on 10th September, 2019. The MoU will strengthen the existing friendly relations between India and Iceland and will enhance consultation and cooperation on Fisheries including consultation on bilateral issues. 

    The salient features of the MoU are :
    a. Creation of facilities for exchange of scientists and technical experts and their proper placement, especially in areas of estimating Total Allowable Catches in off shore and deep sea areas.
    b. Provision of training to fisheries professionals from key fisheries institutions in the various management aspects on areas of modern fisheries management and fish processing
    c. Exchange of scientific literature research findings and other information.
    d. Exchange of experts / expertise to study the prospects of fishing. 
    e. Processing and marketing of products from high seas fisheries for entrepreneurship development.

  • The Union Cabinet approved protocol amending the agreement between India and SriLanka for avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its in principle approval for capital infusion for three Public Sector General Insurance Companies, namely, Oriental Insurance Company Limited (OICL), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) and United India Insurance Company Limited (UIICL). Cabinet has allowed immediate release of Rs. 2500 Crore in the light of the critical financial position and breach of regulatory solvency requirements of 3 PSGICs viz. OICL, NICL and UIICL.

  • The central Government launched the School Health Ambassador Initiative on February 12, 2020 to spread awareness about the preventive health aspects. The initiative has been launched as a part of Ayushman Bharat. It will be jointly run by the Union ministries of Health and Human Resources Development. 

    1.) Under the initiative, two teachers will be identified in every government school as ‘health and wellness ambassadors’.
    2.) The School Health Ambassador Initiative aims to foster growth, development and educational achievements of school-going children by promoting their health and well-being. 
    3.) It also aims to strengthen the concept of preventive, promotive and positive health, which forms a fundamental part of the health and wellness centres of the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

  • Union Cabinet has approved the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 to promote the use of organic pesticides in the country. The bill aims to regulate the business of pesticides that is currently being regulated by the age-old 1968 rules, which require immediate rewriting. The bill will now be presented in the Parliament. Under this bill, the farmers will be compensated in case of losses of crops due to the use of spurious agrochemicals.

  • India has called for concerted efforts by the BIMSTEC countries to fight against the menace of drug trafficking. Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said that Drug trafficking can be controlled only by sharing the experiences and information by affected nations. 

    The Minister was addressing the Valedictory Session, of the ‘Conference on Combating Drug Trafficking’ for BIMSTEC Partner Nations, in New Delhi on February 14, 2020. He said that the drug trafficking menace is common to all the nations of the world as it has the capacity to destabilize the economy. He said, the issues of terrorism and drug trafficking have increased manifold through the maritime route.

  • The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy, Tamilnadu has developed Thirumathikart - a mobile app for SHG (Self Help Group) products. The application was developed in coordination with the Union Department of Science and Technology. 

    The main objective of the app is to empower women and help them access market opportunities in a seamless manner. The platform will also enable Self Help Groups to showcase their products to a wider audience.

  • The 20th Hunar Haat is being held at India Gate lawns in New Delhi from 13 to 23 February, 2020 where master artisans and culinary experts from across the country are showcasing their talents. More than 250 stalls have been set up where master artisans, craftsmen and culinary experts are participating from across the country.

  • Tamil Nadu govt decides to declare Cauvery Delta Region as protected special agricultural zone.

  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued an advisory to all States to implement the system of vehicle registration as per Rules notified under the Central Motor Vehicle Act 1988. The advisory was issued after it came to the notice of the Ministry that in some States, vehicles are not being registered in spite of vehicles having Valid Type Approval certificates. 

    The Advisory states, that the VAHAN system provides a mechanism for the inventory of vehicles being uploaded by the vehicle manufacturers against valid type-approval certificates. It said, unless and until there are reasons for disputing the specifications of vehicles supplied, the pre-inspection of a model of vehicle, already type-approved should not be resorted to as it leads to unnecessary delay and harassment. 

    The Ministry has asked the Transport Departments of States and UTs to implement the system of registration of vehicles based on the production of type approval certificate and Form 22. Form 22 is a quality certificate for compliance with pollution standards, safety standards of components and road worthiness.

  • Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship proposes to issue digital ‘e-Credentials / e-Certificates' which are freely portable for candidates and easily verifiable at scale by employers and job matching platforms but continue to allow print and other visual forms for human consumption. This would enable candidates to verifiably state their skill levels with a high degree of trust in authenticity to aggregators, matchers, and employers. Now in the DGT ecosystem, all the certificates are ‘e-Certificates’, digitally signed. 

    e-Credentials are an electronic scheme-based standard for describing credentials data in a machine-readable format (JSON-LD representation of RDFa- Resource Description Framework, a web standard) along with its printable human-friendly version to make credential exchange between digital agents open and reliable. Certificates issued according to this specification can be aligned to one or more educational standards. They are secured using digital signatures. These will also be pushed in DigiLocker.

  • Uttar Pradesh Government has launched toll-free helpline numbers for students.  In case students have any queries regarding the board exams they can connect at the helpline numbers, 1800-180-5310 and 18001805312. Experts of different subjects including English, life sciences, geography, general science, Hindi, Sanskrit, chemistry will be available on call on these numbers. Academicians will be open to queries regarding any subject.

  • Minister for Personnel and Public Grievances Dr Jitendra Singh inaugurated Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) reforms at National Workshop on e-office in New Delhi The Minister said, there has been a significant jump in the number of public grievances received against government departments as it touched the 19 lakh mark in 2019 as compared to 2 lakh such complaints in 2014.

  • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Campaign launched on February 10, 2020 to promote cultural unity among various states of the country. It is 18-days long campaign that will continue till the 28th of February 2020. The objective of this campaign is to promote the spirit of national integration through various cultural activities. 

    As per the agenda of Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat, the concept of a nation for India is based on cultural diversity. Unity has been established by integrating these variations of cultural elements like language, religion, caste, customs, food and living in India.

    • National Conference on e-Governance 2020 concluded in Mumbai on February 8, 2020 after two days of rich deliberations on issues, opportunities and challenges in transforming governance using digital technologies. Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said that e-Governance is the key to the future of India's developmental journey in the 21st century. The minister stated that whether it is e-NAM or Ayushman Bharat, e-Governance is essential to good governance. The Mumbai Declaration on e-Governance has been unanimously adopted. 

      In recognition of excellence in the implementation of e-Governance initiatives, the National e-Governance Awards 2020 were presented at the valedictory session of National Conference on e-Governance 2020. 

      1.) National Health Authority, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received Gold for Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, under the category Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering for Digital Transformation. 

      2.) Antyodaya Saral Haryana of Department of IT, Haryana received the Gold for Excellence in providing citizen-centric delivery. 

      3.) IIT Roorkee’s Satellite-Based Agriculture Information System: An Efficient Application of ICT - received the Gold Award for Outstanding Research on Citizen-Centric Services.

    • Government has prepared a draft of National e-commerce policy to create a facilitative regulatory environment for growth e-commerce sector in India. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said it will leverage access to data such that data of Indians can be used for the growth of digital economy in India. The Minister said the government has also introduced National policy on Electronics and National policy on Software Products in 2019 for the growing digital economy.

    • Centre Government has issued gazette notification over setting up of Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for the construction of Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya. The trust will have office in Delhi's Greater Kailash.

    • Union Cabinet has given in principle approval to set up country’s 13th major port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra. The total cost of the project is likely to be over 65 thousand crore rupees. Vadhavan port will be developed on land lord model. A Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV will be formed with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust as the lead partner with equity participation equal to or more than 50 per cent to implement the project. The SPV will develop the port infrastructure including reclamation, construction of breakwater, besides establishing connectivity to the hinterland. All the business activities will be undertaken under public private partnership mode by private developers. 

      The position of Jawaharlal Nehru Port is the biggest container port in the country and with the development of Vadhavan port, India will break into the countries with top 10 container ports in the world. Maharashtra has India's largest container port at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust which caters to the hinterland of Maharashtra, North Karnataka, Telangana and secondary hinterland of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, NCR, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

    • The Karnataka government launched a doorstep delivery scheme - Janasevaka scheme on February 4, 2020. The government also launched a website- - to provide citizens with easy access to important government services. The Janasevaka scheme will enable citizens of the state to get home delivery of 53 important government services including issuance of ration card, health card, senior citizen identity card, revenue khatas and marriage registration certificate. The beneficiary will have to place the request for the service through the website. The request can also be made through phones.

    • The Government of India has set a target of installation of 100 GigaWatt solar power and 60 GigaWatt wind power capacity in the country by December 2022 by implementing various schemes. Energy Minister R K Singh said, majority of solar power projects are installed with private investments. He added that Grid connected solar power capacity of over 33,700 megawatt has been installed in the country till 31st December 2019.

    • In Jammu and Kashmir, the Administrative Council approved the proposal of the Housing and Urban Development Department to set up an Elevated Light Rail System in both the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar. The Light Rail Transit System in Jammu will have one corridor with a total length of 23 kilometres. The LRTS in Srinagar will have two corridors with a total length of 25 kilometres. The capital cost of the project, at current prices, including land, R&R and taxes is estimated to be 4,825 crore rupees for Jammu, LRTS and 5,734 crore rupees for Srinagar, LRTS.

    • Jammu and Kasmir Administrative Council has accorded sanction to the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission and road map to achieve 100 per cent coverage of piped water supply by December 2021 across the UT aligning it to the National Mission of Jal Jeevan. The objective of the mission is to provide Functional Household Tap Connections to every rural household with priority to desert/drought-prone and border areas, schools, Anganwadi and health centres, etc.

    • The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill proposes to declare five IIITs in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode as Institutions of National importance. Under the IIIT Laws Amendment Bill 2020, five IIITs in the PPP mode at Bhopal, Surat, Bhagalpur, Raichur and Agartala will be declared as Institutions of National importance. With this, the total number of IIITs that have been declared as institutions of national importance will go up to 25.

    • Indian Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on February 5, 2020 introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha, "The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill 2020" to provide for the resolution of the disputed tax. The bill was aimed only to ease the taxpayer who was otherwise needed to go to court to defend his case, the government has brought a structured and formula-based solution to the dispute.

    • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said Poshan Abhiyaan aims to reduce malnutrition in the country in a phased manner. She said, the target is to bring down stunting of children in the age group of 0 to 6 years from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022.

    • Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo informed that the Central Government launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country. The Minister said that the programme targets to achieve 20 to 30 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. Around 102 non-attainment cities have been identified including Delhi and Mumbai.

    • The government of India on February 7, 2020 said, more than one crore twenty-seven lakh pads of Suvidha Sanitary Napkins priced at one rupee per pad have been sold through Jan Aushadhi Kendras across the country till the end of January 2020.

    • The Union Budget 2020-21 proposes setting up of Kisan Rail to build a national cold supply chain for perishables including meat, milk and fish. The Kisan rail will be set up by the Indian Railways through the PPP arrangement. The Kisan Rail will comprise refrigerated coaches in Express and Freight trains. The budget also proposed the launch of Krishi Udan by Civil Aviation Ministry on international and national routes to transport perishable goods to less accessible areas such as the north-east and tribal districts.

    • Indian Railways has announced that it will equip all coaches and engines with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. About 3, 50,000 passenger coaches and freight coaches of the railways will be equipped with RFID tags for their smart monitoring. Indian Railway is taking this measure to improve the safety and reliability of the rolling stock. According to an estimate, this project will cost Rs. 112.96 crore. 

      Radio-frequency identification or RFID tag uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify various objects. Each RFID tag consists of a small radio transponder, a transmitter, and a radio receiver. An RFID reader decodes the information sent by the RFID tag. An RFID tag can be affixed to any object to track and monitor assents, people and inventory. It is generally affixed to the computer equipment, cars, passenger trains or buses, books, etc. It is faster than barcodes as RFID can be read several times while barcodes can be read one at a time. 

      Highlights :
      • The government has already equipped about 22000 freight trains and 1200 passenger coaches with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
      • About 3500 static RFID readers will send data to a central control center using the LLRP standard of GS1 barcode.
      • The data can be read even if the train speed is 182 km. Indian Railway believes that it will help them to monitor wagons and surveillance on every passenger compartment.
      • The RFID Tag will provide not only the coach number but also all the information including its construction history.
      • This will reduce network problems, eliminate connectivity problems and the government will be able to exploit resources with more efficiency.

    • India has banned exports of all kinds of personal protection equipment, including clothing and masks used to protect people from air borne particles. The move assumes significance as there could be a spurt in demand for such products due to outbreak of novel Coronavirus that has claimed more than 200 lives in China while the number of confirmed cases reached near 10 thousand. 

      The Directorate General of Foreign Trade, DGFT in a notification said, export of all varieties of personal protection equipment including clothing and masks used to protect the wearer from air borne particles or any other respiratory masks or any other personal protective clothing including coveralls and N95 masks is prohibited with immediate effect.

    • The government of India will launch a campaign to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. Presenting the Budget for 2020-21, Sitharaman proposed to expand Jan Aushadhi Kendras to all districts of the country to provide medicines at affordable rates. She further said proceeds from taxes on medical devices would be used to support setting up of hospitals.

    • Madhya Pradesh has bagged the first position for the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana. In Madhya Pradesh, more than 14 lakh 55 thousand beneficiaries have been registered under the Pradhan Mantri Matra Vandana Yojana. The first installment has been paid to about 13 lakh 40 thousand women, while second installment to around 12 lakh and third installment has been paid to 8 lakh 80 thousand beneficiaries.

    Last Updated on : 29/02/2020



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