• Current Affairs,7th February 2020

    • February 7, 2020
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    1. Lucknow Declaration Adopted at the 1st India-Africa Defence Ministers Conclave, 2020



    The first India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave held in Lucknow on February 06, coinciding with DefExpo-2020, adopted the Lucknow Declaration. Following is the full text of the declaration:

    1. We, the Defence Ministers and Heads of Delegation from African countries and the Defence Minister of the Republic of India held the first ever India Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave during the 11th edition of the biennial defence exhibition DEFEXPO INDIA 2020 at Lucknow, India on 6th February 2020.
    2. We recall the Declarations adopted during the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi (8-9 April 2008); India-Africa Forum Summit-II held in Addis Ababa (24-25 May 2011) and the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (26-30 October 2015) in which the Delhi Declaration 2015 and the India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation further cemented our multi-faceted partnership. We welcome the organisation of this first IADMC in the run-up to India-Africa Forum Summit-IV.
    3. We vividly recall India’s contribution to defence and security in the African continent through setting up of Defence Academies and Colleges in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania; deployment of training teams in several African countries including Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Lesotho, Zambia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania; goodwill ship visits; provision of defence equipment and ammunitions and various other measures, including Defence Training Programmes. We also acknowledge contribution of Indian defence forces in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations such as during cyclone IDAI in Mozambique in 2019 and evacuation of stranded persons of 41 countries through Djibouti on 2018 and various other such operations over the years, including in Madagascar.
    4. We appreciate initiation of Africa India Field Training Exercises with the first ever AFINDEX in March 2019 and agree that it will further strengthen cooperation in defence preparedness and security.
    5. We recognise that peace and security are a key priority for both India and African countries. More so, “Silence The Guns: Creating conducive conditions for African Development” is the African Union’s theme of the year. This vision is to achieve ‘a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters. During the deliberations between Indian and the AU delegations at the recent mid-term review of IAFS-III in September 2019, both sides agreed to explore possibilities of further cooperation in Peace and Security including support for initiatives such as Silence the guns by 2020, the African Standby Force, Maritime Security among other areas.
    6. India has participated in almost all the peacekeeping operations in Africa, along with many other African countries. We recall joint efforts of India and Africa in peacekeeping and anti-piracy operations. We agree to further strengthen our cooperation in enhancing peacekeeping capacity and peace- building efforts including support to the African Standby Force (ASF) and through courses, such as those at the centre for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK) in New Delhi and by other Peacekeeping Training Centres in Africa. We take this opportunity to underline the need for greater involvement of the Troop Contributing Countries, members of the UN, not only in the above- mentioned areas but in decision-making process as well.
    7. We commit to continue our collaboration in the fields of peace and security including conflict prevention, resolution, management and peace building through exchange of expertise and training, strengthening regional and continental early warning capacities and mechanisms, enhancing the role of women in peace keeping and propagating the culture of peace. We agree to continue to collaborate in peace and security through exchange of experts and expertise, training programs and capacity building, enhance support towards peacekeeping and post conflict reconstruction in Africa. We welcome the establishment of the African Union’s International Centre for Conflict Resolution, Peace keeping and Peace building in Cairo as a major contribution to peace and security in Africa.
    8. We call for deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment software, digital defence, research & development, provisioning of defence equipment, spares and their maintenance on sustainable and mutually beneficial terms.
    9. We recognise the common security challenges such as terrorism and extremism, piracy, organised crime including human trafficking, drug trafficking, weapon smuggling and others and we agree to collaborate to tackle them together.
    10. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the growing threat of terrorism and acknowledge that it constitutes a major threat to peace and security in the region. We urge all countries to take resolute action in rooting out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and eliminating financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. We understand the need for all countries to ensure that all territory under their control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries in any manner. We emphasize the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.
    11. We call for strengthening the UN Counter-Terrorism mechanisms and to ensure strict compliance with the UN Security Council sanctions regime on terrorism. We urge the international community to envisage the adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UNGA. We agree to further enhance cooperation and coordination between Africa and India to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and to combat transnational crime.
    12. We recognize the importance of the oceans and seas to the livelihoods of our peoples and that Maritime security is a pre-requisite for the development of Blue or Ocean economy. We seek to increase our cooperation in securing sea lines of communication, preventing maritime crimes, disaster, piracy, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing through sharing of information and surveillance.
    13. We seek to significantly increase maritime security through mutual cooperation. Such cooperation will include, but will not be limited to, increased cooperation in securing sea lines of communication, preventing transnational crimes of piracy, trafficking of drugs, arms and humans through surveillance.
    14. We encourage enhanced cooperation between India and Africa on the evolving concept of Indo-Pacific and welcome the AU vision for peace and security in Africa that coincides with India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region).
    15. We support the great strides in reducing the number of violent conflicts in the African continent. We intend to continue to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other Africa led efforts to enhance peace and security.
    16. We support initiatives such as African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), Silence The Guns in Africa and Agenda 2063.
    17. We, the Defence Ministers and Heads of Delegation from African countries thank the Government of India for taking the initiative of organising the first ever India-Africa Defence Ministers Conclave and convey our gratitude for the hospitality extended to us. The Defence Minister of India (The Raksha Mantri) takes this opportunity to thank the Defence Ministers and Heads of Delegation from African countries for their participation in the first ever India-Africa Defence Ministers Conclave.
    18. We propose that Defence Ministers from African countries and India meet regularly in future at mutually convenient time and venue.


    1. First India – Africa Defence conclave held in Lucknow



    • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh today signalled India’s readiness to take the defence engagements with the friendly African countries to the next level. Addressing the India-Africa Defence Ministers Conclave in Lucknow today, on the sidelines of DefExpo 2020, Shri Rajnath Singh said “India will continue to intensify and deepen engagement.
    • It will be a partnership guided by your priorities. More specifically on the defence cooperation, these include strengthening cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism, keeping our cyberspace safe and secure and supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.” 12 Defence Ministers & 38 Countries represented the India-Africa Defence Ministers’ Conclave, today.
    • He added that New Delhi looks forward to deeper cooperation in the domain of defence industry including through investment, joint ventures in defence equipment, software, digital defence, research and development, provisioning of defence equipment, spares and their maintenance. He said “rapid strides made by the Indian defence industry – both public and private, and defence R&D has opened up new vistas for cooperation to take our engagement to the next level. Indian defence manufacturing companies are now partnering with some of the leading names in the business and are part of their global supply chains”.
    • He added “India is geared up to provide Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Fast Interceptor Boats, body and vehicle armour, Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition to our African counterparts.”
    • Shri Rajnath Singh also offered to share India’s experience in Implementing initiatives like iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) and Make-II Procurement Procedure, for small, innovative solutions to a plethora of defence needs and challenges faced by the African countries.
    • Shri Rajnath Singh stressed that
    • “our partnership with Africa is an open partnership with all the possibilities and avenues for collaboration from our side being open to you to choose from and decide as per your priorities”
    • Reiterating  that the guiding principles given by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for India’s engagement with Africa has deepened economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours he said Maritime security in the region is a matter of common interest for both India and Africa, which is highlighted by the Government’s emphasis on SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) for the Indo-Pacific region.
    • Raksha Mantri said India’s security relations with Africa have centered on providing training to African Service personnel, participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts on the continent and maritime cooperation.
    • Raksha Mantri stressed the importance of safe secure seas which were a pre-requisite for development of Blue economy in the region. He said that India recognized the common security challenges in the form of transnational crimes of piracy, trafficking of drugs, arms and humans and illegal fishing. In the light of these challenges there was a call for stronger partnerships for capacity building, information sharing and surveillance, he added.
    • He said India’s increased engagement in the region has enabled it to be the first responders in providing humanitarian assistance in times of crisis like cyclone Idai in Mozambique and more recently, cyclone Diane in Madagascar.
    • The Conclave adopted India -Africa Declaration on Defence Cooperation.
    • Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Senior officials of Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs were present.


    1. National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS) 


    • The Central Sector Scheme ‘National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme’ (NMMSS) is being implemented since 2008 with the objective to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage.
    • Under the Scheme one lakh fresh scholarships @ of Rs.12000/- per annum per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their  continuation/renewal  in classes X to XII for study in a State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools. There is a separate quota of scholarships for each State/UT. The selection of students for award of scholarships under the scheme is made through an examination conducted by the States/UTs Governments. As on date approx 16.93 lakh scholarships have been sanctioned to the Students across the country.
    • The scheme is boarded on National Scholarship Portal (NSP) since 2015-16. The NSP has been developed by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) for streamlining and fast tracking the release of Scholarships across Ministries / Departments with efficiency, transparency and reliability. The eligible students from different States/UTs register themselves on NSP.
    • The Scheme was evaluated by the National Institute of Planning and Administration (NIEPA). As per the evaluation study report, the scheme helped poor families in sending their meritorious children for secondary and senior secondary education and has therefore recommended for increasing the scholarship amount from Rs. 500/- to Rs. 1000/- per month for class IX and class X students and Rs. 1500/- per month for Class XI and XII students to make the scheme more attractive and effective. Accordingly, with the approval of Expenditure Finance Committee the rate of scholarship has been enhanced from Rs. 6000/- to Rs. 12000/- per annum with effect from 1st April, 2017.
    • The details regarding number of students who discontinued education after availing the scholarship is not maintained centrally, however an evaluation study of the NMMS scheme conducted by National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) in 2017 states that the scheme has a positive impact. The data reveals that about 70.1 % beneficiary students are unable to continue their studies without this scholarship and students are very conscientious about their studies as well as the need to perform well after qualifying in NMMS Scheme. They register better performance in Class IX, X, XI and XII in order to continue getting the scholarship for four consecutive years. Heads of all the institutions disclosed that the NMMS Scheme has reduced the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes, particularly from Classes VIII to XII.
    • This information was given by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.


    1. Various steps have been taken to ensure academic excellence in Higher Education


    • Academic excellence is a broader and dynamic concept which operates at different levels.
    • Issues relating to improvement of quality of education, promoting research and innovation, faculty development, collaboration with the industry and research laboratories, effective use of technology in teaching-learning process, mandatory accreditation, etc. are periodically reviewed with Vice Chancellors of Central Universities by University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
    • Central Universities are statutory autonomous organizations and they are free to explore different avenues towards academic excellence. Besides, all Central Universities are required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Administrative Ministry or Department, spelling out clearly performance parameters, output targets in terms of details of programme of work and qualitative improvement in output, along with commensurate input requirements.
    • To encourage research and development in the country, Ministry implements various schemes such as Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT), Scheme for Trans-Disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy (STRIDE), Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC), Impactful Policy Research in Social Science (IMPRESS), Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT), Universities with Potential for Excellence (UPE), Colleges with Potential for Excellence (CPE), Special Assistance Programme (SAP), Centres with Potential for Excellence in a Particular Area (CPEPA) etc.
    • This information was given by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.


    1. GPI increased from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1.0 in 2018-19 for Higher Education 


    • Gender Parity Index (GPI) at various levels reflects equitable participation of girls in the School system. However, under Samagra Shiksha – an Integrated Scheme for School Education (ISSE), bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education continues to be one of the major objectives.
    • Gender Parity Index (GPI) for the year 2018-19 at different levels of School Education is as under:
    Particular Primary Upper Primary Secondary  Higher Secondary
    Gender Parity Index 1.03 1.12 1.04 1.04
    • (Source: UDISE+ 2018-19 provisional)
    • To bring gender parity and equity in School Education, various interventions  have been targeted for girls under Samagra Shiksha which include opening of schools in the neighbourhood as defined by the State, provision of free text-books to girls up to Class VIII, uniforms to all girls up to class VIII, provision of gender segregated toilets in all schools, teachers’ sensitization programmes to promote girls’ participation,  provision for Self-Defence training for the girls from classes VI to XII, stipend to CWSN girls from class I to Class XII, construction  of  residential  quarters  for  teachers  in  remote/hilly  areas/in areas with difficult terrain.
    • In addition to this, to reduce gender gaps at all levels of school education and for providing quality education to girls from disadvantaged groups, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been sanctioned in Economically Backward Blocks (EBBs) under Samagra Shiksha.  KGBVs are residential schools from class VI to XII for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority and Below Poverty Line (BPL). A total of 5930 KGBVs have been sanctioned under Samagra Shiksha as on 30.09.2019.
    • Moreover, Under Samagra Shiksha, State Specific Projects for varied interventions under equity, including menstrual health and hygiene are emphasized for enhancing access, retention, quality and reducing drop-out of girls in schools by promoting enrolment drives, retention and motivation camps, gender sensitization modules etc. State Specific Projects are sanctioned by the Project Approval Board as per the Annual Work Plans proposed by the State/UT concerned. Such projects include Life Skills, Awareness programmes, Incinerators, Sanitary Pad Vending Machines. The amount of Rs. 15566.96 lakh has been approved for State Specific Projects for the year 2019-20 under Samagra Shiksha.
    • As per All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) Report 2018-19, there is an increase in Gender Parity Index in Higher Education across the country. It has increased during the last five years from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1.0 in 2018-19.
    • This information was given by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.


    1. 14 MoUs were exchanged between the Russian OEMs and the Indian companies

    • The 5th round of India-Russia Military Industrial Conference (IRMIC) was conducted on 6th February 2020 on the sidelines of Defexpo-2020 at Lucknow.
    • The conference was co-chaired by Dr. Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary from the Indian Side and Mr. Oleg Ryazantsev, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of Russian Federation.
    • Ajay Kumar, in his opening remarks brought out that the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on Joint manufacturing of spares in India has been signed at Vladivostok, Russia on 4th September, 2019. The IGA provides framework for partnership of Russian OEMs with Indian industry for manufacturing of spare parts of Russian origin equipment in use by the Indian Defence Forces. Dr Ajay Kumar further elaborated that the Indian side has taken a number of steps to expedite the collaboration between the Indian and Russian Companies and looks forward for expeditious commencement of manufacturing in India. The Russian Deputy Minister, Mr. Oleg Ryazantsev highlighted that the Russian side would actively participate in the collaborations under the ambit of the IGA and would take all necessary steps to facilitate manufacturing of parts in India.
    • A large number of delegates from Indian and Russian defence sector companies participated in the conference and discussed the way forward to achieve the objectives of Inter-Governmental Agreement under the Make in India initiative.
    • During the conference a total of 14 MoUs were exchanged between the Russian OEMs and the Indian companies. The first ‘Request for Proposal’ for manufacturing of parts in India under the provision of IGA was also handed over by the Indian Navy to the identified Indian industry. The sides acknowledged that this would pave way for more cases and contracts for joint manufacturing of spares parts, in the days ahead.


    1. Contribution of Renewable Energy Sources is estimated  to be around 21% of  Electricity Demand in 2021-22



    • As per Central Electricity Authority’s National Electricity Plan, contribution of renewable energy sources is estimated to be around 21% of the total electricity demand of the country in the year 2021-22 and 24% by 2026-27.
    • The major efforts being taken by the Government to meet the targets of renewable energy in the country, inter-alia, include Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 percent under the automatic route, strengthening of Power Purchase Agreements(PPAs), mandating requirement of Letter of Credit(LC) as payment security mechanism by distribution licensees for ensuring timely payments to RE generators, setting of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission on plug and play basis to investors , waiver of Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by 31stDecember, 2022, notification of standard bidding guidelines to enable distribution licensee to procure solar and wind power at competitive rates in cost effective manner, declaration of trajectory for Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) up to the year 2022, laying of transmission lines under Green Energy Corridor Scheme for evacuation of Power in Renewable rich states, launching of new schemes, such as, PM-KUSUM, Solar Rooftop Phase II, 12000 MW CPSU Scheme Phase II, etc.
    • As part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Accord on Climate Change, India has made a pledge that by 2030, 40% of its installed power generation capacity shall be from non-fossil fuel sources and will reduce its carbon emission intensity of GDP by 33-35 % considering 2005 level. The Government has set a target to install 175 GW of renewable energy  capacity in the country by the year 2022. This includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from small hydro power.
    • This information was given by Shri R.K. Singh, Minister of State (I/C) for New & Renewable Energy, Power and MoS for Skill Development And Entrepreneurship in written reply in the Lok Sabha today.


    1. 154 Clusters Approved During 2018-20 Against a Target of 100 Under Sfurti Scheme


    • Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and M/o RT&H, Shri Nitin Gadkari informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply today that 154 Clusters when approved during 2018-20 against a target of 100 under Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) to promote traditional Industries and Artisan.
    • In the year 2018-19, 70 proposals and in 2019-20 (till 31.01.2020), 84 proposals have been approved, which is a substantial jump over the period from 2014-15 to 2017-18, when against a target of 71 clusters to be set up during 12thFive Year Plan period, 72 clusters were approved till 2017-18.
    • He added that these clusters have been setup across the country including in NER and Andaman & Nicobar.  As many as 54 clusters have become functional so far, out of which 51 clusters were made operational during 2019-20 (till 31.01.2020). The sectors covered under SFURTI include Khadi products, Honey & related products, Coir & related products, Handloom, Traditional dress making, Handicraft, Traditional arts like – Kalamkari, Dokra art, Aipan art, Food processing, Bamboo products etc.
    • The Minister also informed that the main objective of the SFURTI scheme is to organize the traditional industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive, provide support for their long term sustainability, to provide sustained employment for traditional industry artisans & rural entrepreneurs, to enhance marketability of products etc. The scheme provides support in the form of two interventions viz. Hard Interventions and Soft Interventions.  Hard Interventions include creation of Common Facility Centres (CFCs), Raw material banks (RMBs), Up-gradation of production infrastructure, Tools and technological up-gradation etc. Soft Interventions include counselling, trust building, skill development and capacity building etc.
    • Shri Gadkari further stated that the scheme was revamped in 2014-15 and further revised in 2017-18. Under the revised scheme, two types of clusters are set up. The maximum financial assistance provided is Rs. 2.50 crore for a Regular Cluster (upto 500 artisans) and Rs. 5.00 crore for a Major Cluster (more than 500 artisans). To expand the reach of the scheme, 20 more Nodal Agencies have been appointed under the scheme during 2019-20 besides the existing 8 Nodal Agencies. KVIC has also been asked to develop Honey clusters as per SFURTI Guidelines.


    1. Loan Facility for Setting up of New Industry in MSME Sector


    • Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and M/o RT&H, Shri Nitin Gadkari informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply today that 5,87,416 employment opportunities were created by giving margin money subsidy of Rs. 2070 crore to 73,427 projects during the year 2018-19.
    • The Ministry of MSME implements credit linked subsidy scheme namely Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) to promote self-employment opportunities through establishment of micro-enterprises in non-agriculture sector.
    • He also added that Government of India also implements Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) to provide collateral free loans upto Rs 10 lakh.


    1. All 645 evacuees from Wuhan test NEGATIVE for nCoV


    • As on 6th February, 138750 passengers from 1265 flights have been screened for Novel Coronavirus illness. Till now, no new case has been detected.
    • All 645 evacuees from Wuhan, China have tested negative for Novel Coronavirus. In addition, 510 samples have been tested by ICMR network laboratories of which all have tested negative except for 3 already reported positive. The 3 positive cases are clinically stable.
    • Community surveillance and contact tracing is ongoing by IDSP for 6558 persons across 32 States/UTs.
    • Fourth Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) meeting was held on 6th February, 2020 under Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to discuss various technical issues including review period of follow up required for asymptomatic travellers from China.
    • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in coordination with central Ministries and all States/UTs is taking adequate measures for management of Novel Coronavirus in India. In case of fever, cough and symptoms of Pneumonia, seek medical attention immediately. For any technical query on 2019-nCOV call the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Helpline at +91-11-23978046 or email at ncov2019@gmail.com.


    1. Second National Judicial Pay Commission submits its Report


    • The Second National Judicial Pay Commission has filed the main part of the Report in 4 volumes covering the subject of Pay, Pension and Allowances, in the Registry of the Supreme Court on 29.01.2020.
    • The Commission has been constituted pursuant to the Order of the Supreme Court in All India Judges Association case and the Government of India, Ministry of Law & Justice issued a Notification dated 16.11.2017 in this regard.  Shri Justice P.V. Reddi, former Judge of the Supreme Court is the Chairman, Shri Justice R. Basant, former Judge of Kerala High Court is the Member and Shri Vinay Kumar Gupta, District Judge of Delhi Higher Judicial Service is the Member-Secretary of the Commission.
    • The Interim Report was submitted by the Commission in 2018.
    • The salient recommendations are:
    • PAY: The Commission having considered various alternative methodologies has recommended the adoption of Pay Matrix which has been drawn up by applying the multiplier of 2.81 to the existing pay, commensurate with the percentage of increase of pay of High Court Judges. @ 3% cumulative has been applied.
    • As per the revised pay structure evolved by the Commission, the Junior Civil Judge/First Class Magistrate whose staring pay is Rs.27,700/- will now get Rs.77,840/-. The next higher post of Senior Civil Judge starts with the pay of Rs.1,11,000/- and that of the District Judge Rs.1,44,840/-. The highest pay which a District Judge (STS) will get, is Rs.2,24,100/-.
    • The percentage of Selection Grade and Super Time Scale District Judges proposed to be increased by 10% and 5% respectively.
    • The revised pay and pension will be effective from 01.01.2016. Arrears will be paid during the Calendar year 2020 after adjusting the interim relief.
    • PENSION: Pension at 50% of last drawn pay worked out on the basis of proposed revised pay scales is recommended w. e. f. 1-1-2016.  The family pension will be 30% of the last drawn pay.  Additional quantum of pension will commence on completing the age of 75 years (instead of 80 years) and percentages at various stages thereafter are increased.  The existing ceiling of retirement gratuity and death gratuity will be increased by 25% when the DA reaches 50%.
    • Nodal officers will be nominated by the District Judges to assist the pensioners/family pensioners.
    • Recommendation has been made to discontinue the New Pension Scheme (NPS) which is being applied to those entering service during or after 2004.  The old pension system, which is more beneficial, will be revived.
    • ALLOWANCES: The existing allowances have been suitably increased and certain new features have been added. However, the CCA is proposed to be discontinued.
    • Recommendations are made to improve the medical facilities and to simplify the reimbursement procedure. Medical facilities will be granted to pensioners and family pensioners also.
    • Certain new allowances viz. children education allowance, home orderly allowances, transport allowance in lieu of pool car facility, have been proposed.  HRA proposed to be increased uniformly in all States. Steps to ensure proper maintenance of official quarters recommended.
    • The recommendations made by the Commission are applicable to the Judicial officers throughout the country.
    • Supreme Court will have to issue directions regarding the implementation of recommendations after hearing the stakeholders.





    1. US astronaut Christina Koch set to return to Earth today after record space station mission


    • US astronaut Christina Koch is set to return to Earth today having shattered the spaceflight record for female astronauts by spending almost a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
    • When she returns to Earth, Koch will have spent 328 days on ISS, surpassing the previous record held by fellow American Peggy Whitson.
    • Ms Koch will come back in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, parachuting down to a landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.
    • Her stay is just 12 days short of the all-time US record set by Scott Kelly. Mr Kelly was on the ISS from 2015-2016.
    • Ms Koch surpassed the 289-day record set by fellow American Ms Whitson on 28 December last year. But her return to Earth, shortly after 09:00 GMT, will set the marker for future space travellers to beat.


    1. US Prez Donald Trump acquitted of all impeachment charges



    • The United States President Donald Trump has been acquitted of all impeachment charges. The US Senate has acquitted President Trump on two articles of impeachment that are- abuse of power and obstruction to Congress.
    • The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit him of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress. Democrats required two-thirds of votes in the 100-member House to impeach the president. The ruling Republican party has 53 seats while the Democrats have 47.
    • Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who was the party’s presidential nominee in 2012, voted against the president on the first charge, but followed the party line on the second article of impeachment. Rest of the members voted on party lines.


    1. Hollywood veteran actor Kirk Douglas passes away in US


    • Hollywood legend and veteran actor Kirk Douglas passed away today at Beverly Hills, California in US. He was 103.
    • Douglas was prolific as a film actor, with more than 90 credits to his name – ranging over six decades from the 1940s to the 2000s.
    • He is perhaps best-known for his role as Spartacus, a Stanley Kubrick classic which won four Oscars and was so popular that its iconic “I am Spartacus” scene entered the pop culture lexicon.
    • Born in New York in 1916, he rose to prominence during Hollywood’s golden age, earning his first Oscar nomination for the 1949 boxing story Champion.




    1. Rohit Rajpal to continue as India’s Davis Cup captain

    • Rohit Rajpal will continue as India’s non-playing Davis Cup captain while veteran Leander Paes, too, has retained his place in the six-member squad picked for the tie against Croatia next month.
    • Zeeshan Ali will be the coach. India are scheduled to travel to Croatia for their next tie from 6th to 7th of March.
    • The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has asked Rajpal to lead the side in the 2020 season. Prajnesh Gunnewaran, Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan are the other singles players in the six-member squad.
    • The AITA selection committee chose three doubles players for the tie including Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Leander Paes. The playing five-member squad will be announced closer to the tie.

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