• Current Affairs, 10th February 2020

    • February 11, 2020
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    1. The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid homage to Dr Zakir Hussain, former President of India



    1. President of India Presents International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy

    • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, presented the International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy to Dr N.S. Dharmashaktu under the Indian nomination (individual) category and the Leprosy Mission Trust under the institutional category.
    • Speaking on the occasion, the President said that in our fight against Leprosy, we have achieved a lot over the years. We have successfully accomplished levels of leprosy elimination defined as less than one case per ten thousand population. Further, the stigma and prejudice against leprosy has reduced considerably, thanks to the constant work of scientists, researchers, organisations and community workers. However, we cannot let our guard down. New cases continue to occur and high-burden pockets of the disease do exist.
    • The President said that the major challenge in leprosy control activities lies in sustaining the same level of focus and commitment especially in low-resource settings where equity of access is an issue. We need to intensify our efforts towards early detection of leprosy cases, provide equitable access to appropriate treatment and provide integrated leprosy services in the geographically focused areas.
    • The President said that more than the medical condition, the social stigma attached to the disease persists and this is a cause for concern. We have to become aware and educated on this disease and its different dimensions, and spread that awareness among our communities. We need to empower those who have been discriminated on account of leprosy through advocacy and information dissemination.




    1. Aspirational districts Program: best example of Cooperative Federalism


    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his reply in Rajya Sabha, to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address said that in the last five years Government has brought new thoughts and new approach to the governance. Referring to Digital India as one of the examples of this new thinking and new approach governance, Prime Minister said that only 59 Gram Panchayats had Broadband connectivity before 2014 but in the last 5 years over 1.25 lakh panchayats have been provided with Broadband connectivity.
    • He said, there were 80 thousand Common Service Centers in the country in 2014, but today their number has increased to more than 3 lakh 65 thousand. More than 12 lakh rural youth are ensuring online delivery of all the services of the government in these centres.
    • Prime Minister said BHIM App is being recognized globally as a secure digital transaction platform.  He said a record transaction of over Rs 2 lakh 16 thousand crores took place on BHIM App in the month of January. He said RuPay Card is also gaining acceptance in many countries.Jal Jeevan Mission 
      Prime Minister said, another example of this government’s approach is the Jal Jeevan Mission.   He said this mission, which aims at connecting every household with piped water supply, is also an excellent example of the model of local governance.
    • He said that even though the Central Government has started this mission, but its management will be at the village level. The village committees will implement it, manage the funds and take decisions related to the setting up of pipeline, building of tanks etc.
    • Best example of Cooperative Federalism: Aspirational districts Program
    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said that Central Government, State Government and District Administration are working with synergy for the development of more than 100 aspirational districts of the country.  He said that Aspirational District program with district as its implementing agency has emerged as one of the best example of cooperative federalism.
      He said Government is taking all the efforts for the development of poor, tribals in these Aspirational Districts.
    • Working sensitively for every section of the society
    • Prime Minister said that in the last 5 years work has been done to honour all the tribal fighters of the country. Museums are being built all over the country, research institutes are being set up and tribal art and literature is being digitized.Eklavya Model Residential Schools are set up to ensure quality education of talented children of tribal areas.
      “Apart from this, 3 thousand forest wealth centers are being established in tribal areas to generate more income from forest produce. It will involve 30 thousand self-help groups. Of these, 900 centres have also been set up and more than 2.5 lakh tribal companions have been associated with them”, Prime Minister said.
    • Government committed to women empowerment
    • Prime Minister stated that this government has taken several steps for women empowerment. “For the first time in the history of the country, the admission of daughters in military schools has been approved. The work of appointment of women in the Military Police is also going on”, Prime Minister said.
      More than 600 one-stop centers have been built for the safety of women in the country.  Self defence training is being imparted to girls from class VI to XII in every school of the country.  A national database has been created to identify and track sex offender.  In addition, there are plans to set up anti-human trafficking units in every district of the country. To deal with serious cases of sexual violence on children, the POCSO Act has been amended to widen the scope of the offenses under it. More than one thousand fast track courts will be built across the country for timely justice.


    1. 100 more airports to be developed by 2024


    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the Motion of Thanks for President’s Address today in Rajya Sabha.Prime Minister said that the  aim  of $ 5 trillion economy is ambitious but we have to think big and move ahead.  “Let me reassure you that India’s economy is strong. India is pursuing a dream of $ 5 trillioneconomy with full speed and full potential”, the Prime Minister said.
    • Prime Minister emphasised that to fulfil the dream$ 5 trillion economy the government is focussing on village and city infrastructure, MSMEs, textiles, technology and tourism.Several steps have been taken to take all these sectors forward. All the processes including tax structure have been simplifiedto give momentum to Make in India. These steps will ensure new enthusiasm in the country about manufacturing.The merger policy in the banking sector has already started yielding meaningful results.
    • Small towns are the foundation of New India
    • Prime Minister stated that the most aspirational youth of the country lives in the small town which is also the foundation of the new India.“Today more than half of the digital transactions in the country are taking place in small cities. Half of the startups being registered in the country are in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities. That is why we are focussing on the construction of modern infrastructure in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities at a rapid pace. Highway and rail connectivity are being rapidly improved”, the Prime Minister said.
    • 100 more airports by 2024
    • Prime Ministersaid that recently250th route was launched under UDAN scheme. This has made   air connectivity affordable and accessible in 250 small cities of India.“From independence to 2014 where there were only 65 operational airports in the country, they have increased to more than 100 in the last 5 years. The target is to develop 100 more airports by 2024, mostly in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities”, Prime Minister said.


    1. North East is becoming a major growth engine in the country


    • Prime Minister in his reply in Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address said that the North East is no more a neglected region.
    • He said thanks to the efforts of the Government work has been done in several sectors and that today the North East is a major growth engine of the country.
    • “People in the North East now do not feel that Delhi is a distant place. Now the government is at their door step. Our Ministers and officials are regularly visiting the region”, he said.
    • Prime Minister said his Government worked on providing electricity, railway connectivity, mobile connectivity and various other aspects of development of the region.
    • Referring to the recently signed Bodo Accord, the Prime Minister said that it had been done by bringing on all stakeholders together with a sincere effort to resolve the decades old crisis.
    • Prime Minister said that mere procrastination of the issue resulted in the deaths of atleast 40000 people in the decades old unrest.
    • “However this time we have brought all the stakeholders together and the accord is clear that there are no more pending issues of the crisis” he said.



    1. Abrogation of Article 370 is based on the Government’s faith and trust in the People J&K

    • Prime Minister said that the abrogation of the Article 370 has led to the complete integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of the country.\
    • Shri Narendra Modi was today replying in the Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.
    • Prime Minister described Jammu and Kashmir as the Crown of India and that the real identity of J&K is its Egalitarian attitude towards all faiths and its Sufi Tradition.
    • Prime Minister said that the region cannot be left behind and only referred to as one that it is ridden with Guns, Bombs, Terror and Separatism.
    • Referring to the 19th January 1990, Prime Minister said several people had to lose their identity as they had been evicted from J&K.
    • In his long reply, the Prime Minister dwelt at length the situation plaguing the region and said that the Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated with full faith in people of J&K and that the development of the region is at a great speed.
    • Prime Minister said the restrictions imposed on the region are being removed and that the Union Ministers are going to various of parts of the UT and getting direct feed back from the people and that the Government would definitely act upon the feedback.
    • Prime Minister said that his Government is committed to work for the welfare of the people of J&K and for its all round development.
    • Prime Minister said that Ladakh would be developed as a Carbon Neutral Union Territory.


    1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Assures in Lok Sabha that CAA will not Affect any Indian Citizen


    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi replied to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.
    • Dwelling on length at the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Prime Minister assured the House that no citizen of India would be affected by it.
    • The Prime Minister in his speech referred to the thought process of the previous Governments which were on the same lines.
    • Shri Narendra Modi quoted the first Prime Minister of India Pt Jawaharlal Nehru who favoured amending the law, if required, to ensure that minority refugees from neighbouring countries be granted protection by India.
    • Prime Minister said that certain political parties are furthering Pakistan’s agenda of divisiveness in India and assured the Lok Sabha that the CAA is not going to affect any Indian Citizen.
    • “I want to clarify that there will be no impact on any citizen of India, whatever be their faith/religion, owing to the implementation of the CAA”, he said.


    1. 25 potential Agri clusters identified



    • Agriculture is the core of India’s developmental goals and exports are the key to reforming the agriculture sector said Commerce Secretary, Anup Wadhawan in his inaugural address at the 2ndNational Workshop on the implementation of the Agri Export Policy (AEP) and cluster development in New Delhi today organized by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
    • It is the States/ Union Territories (UTs) that will have to strengthen their institutional mechanisms for putting in place the AEP and development of clusters added Commerce Secretary. He further said that this is an opportunity for the States/ UTs to formulate a comprehensive plan, covering all key areas of the AEP, across all sectors in agriculture like horticulture, fisheries, animal husbandry, dairying, food processing, floriculture and water shed development. The institutional framework of the AEP must be outcome oriented and all States/ UTs must provide a budget for it added Commerce Secretary.
    • Commerce Secretary emphasised that the best agronomic practices in all the sectors of agriculture must be followed in the State AEP because quality of India’s agri products should never be compromised. States/ UTs should not only concentrate on quantitative output of agri produce but be extremely meticulous about the quality. Best practices must be followed at every step so that there is no compromise whatsoever in the quality of India’s agri products stressed Commerce Secretary.
    • He further said that the AEP must have a decentralised focus that is built up from the cluster level to the district and the state level plan and the policy must link up with all schemes of Government of India across all Ministries and Departments and project the vision for the agriculture sector for the next five years.
    • APEDA organized the 2ndworkshop with all States/ UTs in order to assess the progress made by them for the implementation of the AEP and development of agri clusters in districts. Twenty-seven States and one UT attended the workshop today where Chairman APEDA spelt out the expectations from State Governments/ UTs for successful implementation of AEP so that farmers income may double and India’s agri export may reach the target of USD 60 billion by 2022.
    • Chairman APEDA informed that States/ UTs must put in place the state agri export action plan, set up state level export monitoring committee, designate a nodal agency for agri export, identify agri clusters, set up district agri export action plan, promote farmer producer organization (FPOs) and farmer producer cooperatives (FPCs) identify infrastructure and logistics gap. Chairman APEDA further stated that States/ UTs must formulate the budget for implementation of AEP and seek assistance from line Ministries of the Central Government for existing schemes when required. Reforms under APMC Act and abolition of Mandi Tax for export procurements must be done urgently he said. He further stated that district authorities must ensure control of excessive use of pesticides and sale of unauthorized pesticides and chemicals.
    • He informed that around 15 States have put in place the nodal agency, nodal officer, state level monitoring committee and cluster facilitation cell for the implementation of the AEP.
    • APEDA has initiated some steps for the implementation of AEP: an MoU was signed with National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) in January last year to include cooperatives in the AEP; a farmer connect portal has been set up on the APEDA website for providing a platform for FPOs, FPCs to interact with exporters and more than 1000 FPOs have registered on the portal; buyer-seller meet cum workshops between exporters and FPOs have been organized in association with state nodal agencies; cluster level meetings have been held by APEDA in 25 potential clusters in the country and a market intelligence cell has been constituted to disseminate e-market intelligence report and also analyse the data received.
    • During the day long workshop presentations were made by line Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries and NABARD. Exporters of agri produce also presented their success stories and issued faced by them to export agri products. Success stories of clusters developed in Varanasi for vegetables and banana in Andhra Pradesh were shared with the other States/ UTs. The state of Sikkim which has declared itself an organic State made a presentation on implementation on the Organic Mission in the agriculture sector. The Indian State of Sikkim is first to be certified as fully organic by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and has shown that conversion from traditional to organic agriculture is not only possible but necessary as a more profitable solution for local economies.
    • The workshop was attended by Director General, DGFT, senior officials of the Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Civil Aviation, departments of Commerce, Logistics, Food Processing Industries and Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.






    1. First India – Africa Defence conclave held in Lucknow coinciding with DefExpo-2020


    • 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.
    • 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. 5th  Round of India-Russia Military Industrial Conference 

    • 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. India and Madagascar


    • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, today held bilateral talks with Lt Gen Rokotonirina Richard, Defence Minister of Madagascar on the second day of DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow.
    • During the discussions, Raksha Mantri stressed upon enhancing ties in Maritime security cooperation in the region. He said that, as maritime neighbours both countries have responsibility to ensure a secure maritime environment so that trade and commerce flourish.
    • Underlining the President of India’s state visit to Madagascar in March 2018, Shri Rajnath Singh said that the historic visit reaffirmed the excellent bilateral relationship between the two countries. He emphasized that the MoU signed during the visit provided an enabling framework for defence cooperation between the two countries.
    • Raksha Mantri hoped that the DefExpo 2020 would provide a platform for both the countries to further strengthen the defence ties and in exploring various areas of mutual engagement.
    • In his remarks, Lt Gen Rokotonirina Richard said India has a great role to play in preserving security in the Indian ocean maritime region. He expressed his Government’s sincere gratitude for ‘Operation Vanilla’, in Which Indian Navy provided assistance to the affected population of Madagascar post devastation caused by Cyclone Diane.
    • The Defence Minister of Madagascar invited Raksha Mantri to the independence day celebrations on June 26 this year.


    1. Thai soldier who killed at least 26 people in a shooting spree shot dead by commandos


    • The Thai soldier who killed at least 20 people and holed up in a mall overnight was shot dead this morning by commandos, ending a near-17-hour ordeal which left dozens wounded and stunned the country.
    • It was unclear how many people remained trapped inside the Terminal 21 mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat, where the gunman held out through the night, armed with assault weapons stolen from his barracks.
    • Volleys of gunfire rang out as the siege ran into dawn, hours after Thai security services stormed the ground floor and freed scores of stunned, terrified shoppers from a bloody rampage that the gunman, a junior army officer identified as Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma, had relayed via Facebook posts.
    • A police spokesman said that the commandos from elite Thai police units killed the gunman, after an operation involving hundreds of security personnel.


    1. Switzerland votes in a referendum on new law against homophobia



    • Switzerland votes in a referendum today on a new law against homophobia that is opposed by the populist rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).
    • The new law would widen existing legislation against discrimination or incitement to hatred on ethnic or religious grounds to include sexual orientation.
    • The change was passed by the Swiss parliament in 2018 but critics, who believe it will end up censoring free speech, have forced a referendum on the issue.




    1. Nischal, Anuradha, Yogesh win on last day of National Rifle/Pistol trials

    • Haryana’s Nischal claimed the top honours in the women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions T2, while Indian Navy shooters Anuradha and Yogesh Singh won the women’s 10m Air Pistol and men’s 25M Center Fire Pistol T2 events on the last day of the National Rifle and Pistol Shooting trials at Thiruvananthapuram today. Nischal shot 459.6 in the eight-woman final to outclass N Gaayathri of Tamil Nadu, who came second with a score of 453.2, Lajja Gauswami of Gujarat, who was third with 443.0 as well as  Anjum Moudgil of Punjab, who finished fourth with 432.5.
    • In the other Olympic event, Anuradha won the women’s 10M Air Pistol final overcoming  Manu Bhaker, shooting 243.0 as against her nearest rival’s 241.1. Haryana’s Yashaswini Singh Deswal finished third with a score of 220. Yogesh led Indian Navy to a 1-2 finish in the men’s 25m Center Fire Pistol final shooting 585 to beat Rajat Kumar Yadav’s 584. Gourav Gupta of Haryana was third with a score of 580.
    • Manu Bhaker captured the Junior women’s 10M Air Pistol T2 event with a score of 243.5 in the final.  Rhythm Sangwan from Haryana came second scoring 240.1


    1. FIH Pro League: India stun world champions Belgium 2-1 at Bhubaneshwar

    • Indian men’s hockey team stunned world champions Belgium with a 2-1 victory in their FIH Pro League match at Bhubaneshwar
    • . Mandeep Singh scored a field goal in the second minute of the match before Gauthier Boccard equalized for world number one Belgium in the 33rd minute with a powerful drag flick from a penalty corner.
    • Ramandeep Singh scored the decisive goal for the home side in the 47th minute via a penalty corner to give world number four India a victory in front of a frenzied crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.
    • The two sides play against each other today again.

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