• Current Affair, 28th February 2020

    • February 28, 2020
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    1. Agriculture Secretary Shri Sanjay Agarwal reviews locust control operations at high-level meeting


    • As per the directions of the Union Minister of Agriculture, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, Shri Sanjay Agarwal chaired a high-level meeting here today on Desert Locust Control. Senior Officers from the State Governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana, officers from Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home, National Disaster Management Authority and CMD of HIL (India) Limited, Special Secretary, DAC&FW, Agriculture Commissioner and other officers of DAC&FW participated in the meeting.
    • During the presentation, the locust control operations done from May 2019 to February 2020, challenges faced and its achievements were discussed. Losses caused by locust attack in Rajasthan and Gujarat and status of support under SDRF/NDRF was discussed. It was informed that Inter-Ministerial teams had visited both Rajasthan & Gujarat to assess the crop loss so that additional funds, if required may be issued from NDRF as per norms.
    • Control Operations were reviewed and Secretary DAC&FW appreciated the excellent cooperation and coordination between State Governments and Central Government Departments. Next year’s plan was discussed in detail as per the inputs from different stakeholders. It was planned that Central Government will conduct Awareness campaigns/training for State Government Officials/BSF personnel/Revenue Department officials/farmers at village level. Shri Agarwal directed officials to organize training and awareness programmes in all 4 states (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana) during March-April.
    • Report of Senior Locust Forecasting Officer of FAO, who visited India on January 16-17, 2020 was discussed. He has appreciated India’s efforts, noting “swarms would be present in Haryana and Punjab, moving east towards Bangladesh similar to the 1950 when there were devastating plagues that lasted up to 14 consecutive years.”
    • Keeping in view this year’s experiences, Secretary DAC&FW advised to strengthen joint coordinated efforts with Locust Warning Organization, State Agriculture Department, BSF and Farmers. Agriculture Secretary assured that all required assistance will be provided to State Governments for locust control.
    • For next year, it is proposed to strengthen the control capabilities, logistics (pesticide, vehicle, tractors etc.) both in States and Central level and Capacity building programmes will be conducted.
    • The Secretary said the Coordination Group Meeting of neighbouring countries namely, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh may be convened.  He appreciated this year’s outstanding work in locust control and thanked all the participants and expected better efforts in future.


    1. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh reviews performance of MIDHANI



    • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh reviewed the performance of Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) here today. The officials of the Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) briefed Raksha Mantri and senior officials of Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence about their ongoing projects and future plans.
    • Shri Rajnath Singh commended MIDHANI’s contribution towards indigenisation in defence manufacturing and lauded the DPSU for diversifying its business to other sectors like space, energy and railways. Stressing that it can play a major role in making India self-reliant in special alloys and materials, he asked the officials to focus more on innovation and R&D. He said that the DPSU has a unique place among the Defence companies with its specialized product profile and customers, with a lot of potential for exports.
    • MIDHANI has performed well over the last five years. The company’s value of production has increased by around 27 per cent from Rs 640 crore in FY 14-15 to Rs 815 crore in FY 18-19. Its market capitalisation hit a peak of Rs 4,637 crore and its share price hit an all-time high of Rs 248.45 as on February 20, 2020. The shares of MIDHANI continue to trade over and above the issue price of Rs 90 per share.
    • Import substitution of high-pressure discs for compressor of Adour MK 811 engines for Jaguar fighter plane and 74 kg titanium casting for naval application are some of the prominent achievements.


    1. Closing Ceremony Exercise Ajeya Warrior-2020

    • Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR – 2020, a joint military training exercise between India & United Kingdom (UK) culminated at West down Camp, Salisbury Plains Training Area, UK. The closing ceremony was attended by Brigadier Tom Bewick, Commander of UK 7 Infantry Brigade and Brigadier Gavin, Defence Attache of UK in India.
    • The fifth edition of the exercise included joint training in urban and semi urban areas. As part of the exercise, important lectures, demonstrations and drills related to counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations were rehearsed and executed jointly. The highlight of the exercise was the Bonhomie and Camaraderie displayed by the troops, thereby ensuring integration and achievement of interoperability at all levels. The joint training was undoubtedly, an unprecedented success. Besides promoting understanding and interoperability between the two armies, it further helped in cementing ties between both the nations.



    1. Measures taken regarding H1N1 infection of Judges of Hon. Supreme Court


    • Five judges of Hon. Supreme Court of India have been affected from Swine Flu which is caused by H1N1 virus.In order to curb the situation in the apex court, following preventive measures were immediately undertaken by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India:
    • The First Aid Post (FAP) of CGHS was strengthened at the Supreme Court premises.
    • All the judges were provided treatment as per the protocol. Prophylactic Treatment was also given to all who have come in contact with them including their family members.
    • All five judges were kept in home isolation.  Of these, three Judges have already resumed their duty and two continue to be under home isolation/observation and are recovering.
    • The court rooms and residences are being sanitised.
    • Awareness regarding preventive measures was disseminated to all concerned.
    • A H1N1 sensitization workshop for lawyers and other staff members will also be conducted by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India at Bar Council of India office tomorrow i.e. 26thFebruary, 2020.
    • Although, H1N1 is a seasonal infection which usually occurs every year with two peaks (One in January to March and other between July to September), everyone is requested to take the preventive measures such as cover your nose and mouth with a tissue/handkerchief while coughing or sneezing; wash your hands often with soap and water; avoid crowded places; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; stay away from crowded places if you have cough/cold; drink plenty of water; sleep well. In case of any symptoms, the nearest public health facility may be contacted immediately.


    1. Shri Nityanand Rai presides over the Valedictory Session of 1st ‘National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CDRR&R) – 2020’


    • Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai presided over the valedictory session of the 1st‘National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CDRR&R) – 2020’, organised by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), in New Delhi today. The one-day conference focussed on enhancing human capacity in terms of better understanding about coastal disaster risks and effective collaborative actions, by implementing Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, for reducing the risk and enhancing the resilience amongst the affected stakeholders.
    • The aim of the conference was to explore and debate the most recent advances in the discipline, to enhance the understanding of the issues and solutions on various facets for coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience. It also emphasised on dissemination of information related to national and local strategies for coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience as well as to develop a network mode roadmap for addressing the gaps by engaging with the institutions, researchers and experts. More than 175 participants from various central and state organisation/departments attended the conference.
    • In his address, Shri Rai highlighted the major interventions carried out by Ministry of Home Affairs for Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience based on the PM’s 10 Point Agenda on DRR. Further, he added that the conference has generated a wealth of information and experience. The conference has been able to identify scope, advantages and limitations as well as issues, challenges and opportunities in managing coastal disaster events including the ethical perspectives.
    • Shri G. V. V. Sarma, Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was the Chief Guest of the inaugural session of the conference. Shri Kamal Kishore, Member NDMA provided insight on the severe impacts of coastal disasters on overall economy growth of the country and exhorted mainstreaming the coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience strategies with growth and development activities. Major General Manoj Kumar Bindal, Executive Director, NIDM said that NIDM will document the outcome of the conference and will continuously stride towards making coastal areas of the country disaster resilient through research and training on the gaps identified during different sessions of the conference.
    • 14 knowledge partners, including Ministry of Earth Sciences, India Meteorological Department, Geological Survey of India, Central Pollution Control Board, Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, World Food Programme, Jadavpur University, Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management, Prasar Bharati, All India Radio, Doordarshan, National Academy of Broadcasting & Multimedia, DD India, News On air App, SPHERE India, Indian Red Cross Society extended technical support for organising the conference.
    • Other dignitaries of the inaugural session include Dr. Mrutyumjay Mohapatra, DG IMD; Dr. R. K. Bhandari, Distinguished Professor IIT Roorkee, Maj. Gen. Manoj Kumar Bindal, VSM, ED NIDM and Prof. Surya Parkash, Head GMRD, NIDM. The inaugural session was followed by one plenary session, two round table discussions and two parallel sessions involving all the delegates and experts. The sessions have been chaired by Shri Rajendra Singh, Member NDMA, Dr. Pradeep Kumar, Special Secretary and Project Director, National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project of NDMA, and Shri P.P. Shrivastav, Member, Advisory Committee, NDMA.




    1. Documents concluded during the State Visit of President Donald J. Trump of the USA


    Sl.No Title Nodal Entity on the India side Nodal Entity on the US side
    1 Memorandum of Understanding on Mental Health Department of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of the Republic of India Department of Health and Human Services of the Government of the United States of America.
    2 Memorandum of Understanding on the Safety of Medical Products Central Drugs Standard Control Organization within the Directorate General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Republic of India Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States of America.
    3 Letter of Cooperation Indian Oil Corporation Limited and ExxonMobil India LNG Limited





    1. The exhibition showcases clean air technologies developed by IIT Bombay, IIT Ropar, IIT (ISM) Dhanbad and IIT Delhi



    • Union Minister of State for Human Resource DevelopmentShri Sanjay Dhotre inaugurated the exhibition organised by Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air technologies at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi today. The exhibition showcasesclean air technologies developed by IIT Bombay, IIT Ropar, IIT (ISM) Dhanbadand IIT Delhi. IIT Delhi showcased the work it had carried out in the area of clean air through start-ups incubated at IIT Delhi namely Aerogram and Kriya Labs.
    • Speaking on the occasion, Shri Sanjay Dhotre emphasised that in an age of environmental concerns, the need is to accord highest priority to civic awareness regarding clean environment. He said that the government is entirely committed to the cause of fighting the rising air pollution levels in the country and is taking all possible measures to spread awareness on clean air issues and providing all possible support for the development and promotion of clean air technologies in the country.
    • He assured that the Government of India is making serious efforts to drastically reduce pollution levels in the country on a continuous basis and is determined to deal with this problem in its totality. He further said that it is important for every citizen and every organization to make concerted efforts by joining in the national effort to fight the rising air pollution in our country, be it through legislations, implementation of policy measures, enforcement of pollution laws, awareness campaigns and by leveraging the power of low cost indigenous clean air technologies developed by our research institutions such as the IITs. The Government of India is committed towards technology development, technology industrialization, global cooperation and investment in Research and Development. Shri Dhotre also highlighted the need for preventive steps before we are left with no choice other than finding solutions.
    • He emphasised that such exhibitions provided opportunities for showcasing the high calibre research being carried out at our institutions of national importance in critical areas such as Air Pollution and also provided excellent platforms for collaboration between various stakeholders in this important area so that the benefits could be reaped by the country as a whole.


    1. Commencement of Special Services Fortnight from 24.02.2020 to 10.03.2020 on the occasion of ESIC Foundation Day


    • Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) observed its Foundation Day on 24.02.2020 as ESIC Day at a function held here late last evening.  Speaking on the occasion Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar,Minister of State (I/C) for Labour & Employment, Govt. of India and Chairman, ESIC announced that ESIC has started a Special Services Fortnight from 24.02.2020 to 10.03.2020.
    • Shri Heeralal Samariya, IAS, Secretary, Labour & Employment, Govt. of India, Shri Raj Kumar, IAS, Secretary, Department of Production, Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India, Smt. Anuradha Prasad, Director General, ESIC, Smt. Sibani Swain, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt. of India, Smt. Sandhya Shukla, Financial Commissioner, ESIC , Members, ESIC, ESI Beneficiaries and other senior officers from ESIC and Ministry were present in the function.
    • Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar announced that the name of ESIC Hospitals, Basaidarapur, New Delhi is being changed to Sahib Singh Verma ESIC Hospital, Basaidarapur, New Delhi  and  ESIC AYUSH Hospital, Narela’s name is being changed to Padma Vibhushan Brihaspati Dev Triguna ESIC AYUSH Hospital, Narela, New Delhi. For providing better medical facilities, new hospitals have been established and existing hospitals have been renovated & modernised with state-of-the-art medical equipments and facilities.
    • He also informed about the bringing of ‘Santusht’ mobile App for the benefit of ESI beneficiaries very soon. He further appealed to all ESIC employees to make the Organization a service provider in true sense so that quality changes in the lives of ESI beneficiaries could be achieved soon. The Minister called upon entire ESIC fraternity to provide improved health services to their insured persons and ensure transparency in their working. He emphasized the need for being fully sensitive to the requirements of insured persons.
    • Shri Gangwar gave away the awards for best ESIC/ESIS Dispensaries/Hospitals/Medical Institutions/ Offices in the Medical and Non- Medical Service Categories for outstanding performance in delivery of services to Insured Persons and Beneficiaries under ESI Scheme during the year, 2019. Besides, 08 Insured Persons/Beneficiaries of Delhi NCR covered under ESI Scheme were also felicitated during the occasion. He congratulated  and wished all the awardees and ESI beneficiaries.
    • Shri Heeralal Samariya, Secretary, Labour & Employment, Govt. of India in his address said that during last 05 years ESIC has launched many new initiatives. He also  said that to extend the benefit of ESI Scheme monthly contribution of employers has been reduced from 4.75% to 3.25% and employees contribution has been reduced from 1.75% to 0.75%.
    • Addressing the gathering, Shri Raj Kumar, IAS, Secretary, Department of Production, Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India shared his experiences during his tenure as DG, ESIC and wished that ESIC should continuously work for providing better services to IPs & their Beneficiaries.
    • Anuradha Prasad, Director General, ESIC in her speech said the ESI Corporation is observing Special Services Fortnight from 24.02.2020 to 10.03.2020 in its all ESIC/ESIS Dispensaries/Hospitals/Medical Institutions and Offices throughout India. During the fortnight, daily Health check-up camps, special camps for clearance of pending bills of IPs & channel partners and cash benefits in case of death/disability, redressal of Public grievances, , mock fire drill in all ESIC Hospitals will be organized.
    • R.K. Kataria, Medical Commissioner, ESIC gave presentation on recent initiatives and activities to be undertaken during the ‘Special Services Fortnight’ and Professor Dr. M. Srinivas, Dean, ESIC Medical College & Hospital, Sanathnagar, Hyderabad, Telangana gave presentation on ‘Santusht’ Mobile app during the occasion.
    • ESI Scheme in India
    • The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation is a pioneer Social Security organization providing comprehensive social security benefits like reasonable Medical Care and a range of Cash Benefits in times of need such as employment injury, sickness, death etc. The ESI Act applies to premises/precincts where 10 or more persons are employed. The employees drawing wages up to Rs.21,000/- a month are entitled to health insurance cover and other benefits, under the ESI Act.
    • The ESI Corporation has completed 68 years of its functioning and services on 24th February, 2020.  The Corporation has come a long way since 1952 starting from just 25000 Insured Persons with just 02 centres at Delhi and Kanpur. Today, it is covering about 3.49 Crores of family units of workers and providing matchless cash benefits and reasonable medical care to its 13.56 crore beneficiaries. In 1952, the Corporation had only 21 Dispensaries with no ESI Hospital. Today, its infrastructure has increased many folds with 1648 Dispensaries/AYUSH Units and 159 ESI Hospitals, 793 Branch/Pay Offices and 64 Regional & Sub-Regional Offices. The ESI Scheme today stands implemented in 566 districts in 34 states and Union Territories of the country.







    1. 16th Session of the Joint Ministerial Commission between India and Australia


    • India and Australia agree to enhancing bilateral trade and investment through revival of the bilateral CECA negotiations, and harmonise standards and regulations on important products;
    • Work on market access issues in both directions to increase trade;
    • Work on mutual recognition of educational qualifications of the two countries;
    • Continue collaboration to encourage increased direct flights between Australia and India.
    • The 16thSession of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) between India and Australia was convened in New Delhi on 24th February 2020. The Session was co-chaired by ShriPiyushGoyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Government of India and Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia.
    • The session was attended by officials from Departments of Commerce, Revenue, Agriculture, Fisheries, Department of Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Ministry of External Affairs on the Indian side. The delegation from Australia included officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, Export Finance Australia and Australian High Commission.
    • The two sides acknowledged the considerable growth in the India-Australia economic relationship in strategic, trade and people-to-people links since the last Joint Ministerial Commission in June 2018.
    • Both sides welcomed efforts to elevate the bilateral economic relationship. They agreed to consider reviving the negotiations on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). They also agreed to take forward the issue of harmonising standards and regulatory barriers for products of interest to both sides, in parallel.
    • On two-way investment, both sides noted the visits by three delegations of Australian superannuation funds over the previous year. They agreed to continue to work together to foster awareness of the opportunities in India among Australian investors.
    • Both sides reflected on the important role the private sector played in building the bilateral economic relationship. India welcomed the Australia-India Business Exchange program, including the delegation of over 100 Australian businesses accompanying Minister Birmingham to India. The business delegation is exploring opportunities in education, food and health and beauty, resources, and infrastructure.
    • India raised the issue of taxing of off-shore income of Indian firms through the use of India-Australia Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and sought early resolution of the issue. Both sides agreed to intensify discussions.


    1. UNSC renews its sanctions regime on Yemen for another year

    • The UN Security Council has renewed its sanctions regime on Yemen for another year, after tense negotiations between Britain and Russia. Russia threatened to veto any mention, even implicit, of Iran.
    • Thirteen countries eventually adopted the London-drafted resolution on the sanctions, which now are in effect through February 2021. Russia and China abstained.
    • The sanctions plan, which would have expired today, includes the extension of the mandate of UN experts who monitor the arms embargo imposed in 2015. The resolution also extends the measures that provide for the freezing of assets and travel bans on targeted officials.


    1. World ‘simply not ready’ for COVID-19 spread: WHO-China mission chief


    • The head of a joint WHO-China mission of experts has said that the world is simply not ready to rein in the new virus Covid-19 outbreak. Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva yesterday that countries have to learn from China’s expertise and be ready to manage this at a larger scale.
    • World Health Organization announced that the epidemic had peaked at its epicenter in China, where it has killed more than 2,600 people and infected over 77,000 others. Elsewhere situation has worsened with nearly 2,700 other cases and more than 40 deaths globally.
    • Iran has confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections yesterday taking the country’s overall death toll to 15 and infection tally to 95.
    • Deputy Health Minister of Iran, Iraj Harirchi has been tested positive for the new coronavirus, amid a major outbreak in the country. He warned Iranians to be careful as the “virus does not discriminate” and infects anyone, regardless of their standing.
    • Italy has confirmed 322 cases of the virus, highest number of coronavirus infections outside Asia.
    • Authorities said that 11 people have so far died from the virus in the country.
    • Meanwhile, Switzerland also reported its first case of new virus yesterday, after outbreaks were identified in its main neighbors Austria, France, Germany and Italy.


    1. 3,000 kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India: BIMSTEC


    • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is working on connecting about 3,000-kilometre long power grid from Myanmar-Thailand to India. This was announced by the Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Dr Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury while inaugurating the energy conference of BIMSTEC in Dhaka.
    • He said that the grid connectivity would ensure better capacity utilization by complementing member country’s demand and supply situation. He said, consumers will also benefit as the price of electricity will come down and they will get uninterrupted power supply.
    • The Adviser said that Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are interested in investing in BIMSTEC regional power grid. BIMSTEC countries had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for establishing a regional power grid in 2018. He said that Bangladesh is in discussions with Nepal and Bhutan for trilateral power trade. He further said that regional energy integration will help build an integrated system in the region.
    • BIMSTEC is a regional grouping with seven countries from South and Southeast Asia including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan. It aims to promote regional cooperation for rapid economic development.







    1. Khelo India University Games


    • In the ongoing Khelo India University Games in Odisha, Savitribai Phule Pune University was on top with 14 medals including seven gold and two silver medals on the fifth day.
    • Punjab University gave a tough competition by winning 18 medals including six gold and seven silver medals while Jain University, Karnataka claimed the third position with total of 12 medals including six gold and five silver medals.


    1. 6th National Ice Stock sports Championship

    • In Jammu and Kashmir, the hosts bagged gold medal in the  6th National Ice Stock Sports Championship organized at Ice Rink in Gulmarg. Two hundred participants from 18 different states across the country participated in the three-day event which concluded today. The event was organized by J&K Ice Stock Sports Association under the aegis of Indian Ice Stock Sports Federation and sponsored by J&K Tourism Department.
    • During the competition in team target event, J&K bagged gold, Haryana bagged silver while Maharashtra and Bihar bagged bronze medals.
    • Similarly, in the team game competition Daman and Diu bagged gold, J&K won silver and Madhya Pradesh and Chandigarh got bronze medals.


    1. AITA selection committee keep Leander Paes in playing squad against Croatia


    • The All India Tennis Association (AITA) Selection Committee today decided to keep veteran Leander Paes in the five-member playing squad for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Croatia, making Divij Sharan the reserve member. Sumit Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan are the singles players in the squad while Paes and Rohan Bopanna will do the doubles duty.    AITA had to send its final squad to the International Tennis Federation.
    • The national federation had initially announced a six-member squad for the Qualifiers tie, scheduled to be held in Zagreb on the hard courts from 6th to 7th March. Croatia is the top-seeded team in the 24-team Qualifiers. The 12 winners will qualify for the year-end Davis Cup Finals while the losing sides will be placed in the World Group I.



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