• Current Affairs, 30thJanuary 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. Harsh Vardhan Shringla takes charge as new Foreign Secretary

     

     

    • Harsh Vardhan Shringla took charge as new foreign secretary succeeding Vijay Gokhale. Mr Shringla is a 1984-batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service.
    • Mr Shringla said, he is very clear about the fact that foreign service is a public service and its every effort should be dedicated to contributing towards the nation in the form of its security and prosperity through external engagements.

     

     

    1. Coronavirus: Health Ministry issues advisory to avoid all non-essential travel to China

     

    • Health Ministry has issued travel advisory asking people to avoid all non-essential travel to China in view of outbreak of Novel Coronavirus. It has also advised all the travelers from china to monitor their health closely.
    • The Ministry today held video conference meeting with States and Union territories to review preparedness for prevention and management of Novel Coronavirus. Special Secretary in the Health Ministry Sanjeeva Kumar chaired the meeting.
    • Meanwhile, AYUSH Ministry has said that Unani medicines are useful in symptomatic management of Corona Virus infection. The Ministry has advised people to maintain personal hygiene, wash hands often with soap and drink water. It has also advised to avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

     

    1. Technology with innovation will be instrumental to tackle climate change: Javadekar

     

    • Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that government has released seven billion dollars to all the states for intensive afforestation activities to tackle Climate Change.
    • the World Sustainable Development Summit 2020 in New Delhi today, Mr Javadekar said, in the last four years India is the only country in the world which have grown its tree cover by 13 thousand square kilometre.
    • He said, with growing population, people need to focus on sustainable consumption and changing their lifestyle. The Minister said, technology with innovation will be instrumental to tackle climate change. He also advocated for more joint research and joint collaboration in this regard.

     

    1. General election to the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi, 2020 – Ban on Exit Poll.

     

     

    • Election Commission of India, in exercise of the powers under sub-section(1)of Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has notified the period between 00 A.M. and 6.30 P.M. on 8thFebruary, 2020 (Saturday) as the period during which conducting any exit poll and publishing or publicizing the result of exit poll by means of the print or electronic media or in any other manner shall be prohibited in the on going General Election to the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi, 2020.
    • Further, under Section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,displaying any election matter including results of any opinion poll or any other poll survey, in any electronic media, would be prohibited during the period of 48 hoursending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in the aforesaid General election.
    • Notification dated 24thJanuary, 2020 issued in this regard is enclosed herewith for the information of all concerned.

     

    1. The spread of newly-discovered strain of Coronavirus is causing concern: VP

     

    • The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today underscored the need for global cooperation for early detection of new viruses and to contain any serious fallout from outbreak of epidemics.
    • Addressing scientists and researchers of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, the Vice President while referring to the newly-discovered strain of Coronavirus, said that it was spreading across the nations and causing a major concern to health authorities.
    • He pointed out that period outbreak of epidemics and new viruses highlighted our vulnerability to diseases.
    • Referring to the vital role of the Indian Science and Technology Innovation (STI) System in achieving national goals as India aspires for sustainable and inclusive growth, he appealed to the private sector to create a fund for financing innovative scientific projects that will address societal concerns.
    • Observing that investment in STI plays a major role in promoting research and developing cutting edge technologies, Shri Naidu said the funding for basic research also has to be stepped up.
    • Stressing that the outcome of every scientific endeavour must improve the lives of people, he called upon scientists of CCMB and other scientific labs to find answers to the many challenges the world was facing today like poverty, effects of climate change, pollution, lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, increasing urbanization and growing drug resistance, among others.
    • Lauding CCMB for developing bacterial blight-resistant Sambah Mahsuri rice variety in collaboration with Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR), Shri Naidu urged scientists to find ways to develop more disease and pest-resistant crops and aid in increasing productivity to make agriculture viable and sustainable. He stressed the need to protect farmers from the vagaries of nature.
    • Touching upon the problem of growing anti-microbial resistance, Shri Naidu said that modern medicine was facing a serious threat on account of it and expressed the fear that many antibiotics might eventually become ineffective if the trend continued unchecked.
    • Calling for developing new antibiotics, apart from preventing drug resistance, he expressed his happiness that CCMB was working in that direction.
    • .The Vice President also urged CCMB to develop Rapid DNA Testing Kits for detection of some of the rare diseases and many other genetic disorders. “It is important to predict and prevent genetic diseases as more than 70 million Indians are estimated to be suffering from genetic disorders, according to the Organization for Rare Diseases India (ORDI)”, Shri Naidu added.
    • He also advised institutions like CCMB to take up campaigns on a massive scale to create awareness among the people about the health risks associated with consanguineous marriages, particularly those relating to congenital disorders.
    • While expressing his delight that India was now at 3rd position globally in the number of peer-reviewed Science and Engineering Publications and moved to 52ndposition in the Global Innovation Index, he said there was no room for complacency. “We need to improve further and aim to be among the top nations in scientific discoveries and inventions”, Shri Naidu stressed.
    • The Vice President said that young scientists should be allowed to take up challenging research assignments and come up with innovative and out-of-box ideas.
    • Earlier, he went around the exhibits which highlighted the research activities undertaken by CCMB.
    • CCMB Director, Dr. Rakesh Mishra, Directors of various CSIR labs, senior scientists and researchers were present on the occasion.

     

    1. GeM MoU with UP state for Project Management Unit

     

    • Government eMarketplace (GeM), under the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Government of Uttar Pradesh, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a GeM Organizational Transformation Team (GOTT) Project Management Unit (PMU) in the State.
    • The MoU aims to expedite the harmonization of the procurement guidelines of the two entities and integration of systems, enabling seamless procuring experience. The PMU to be setup under the MoU will make it easier for MSMEs of U.P. to onboard and transact on GeM. Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has advised Ministries and Departments of Central and State Governments to consider services of GOTT on an outcome based self-sustenance model. GOTT will assist the buyer agency to redesign the procurement processes and enhance competencies to derive maximum benefit from the online marketplace.
    • The MoU was signed by CEO, GeM, Talleen Kumar and Principal Secretary, Department of MSME and Export Promotion, Navneet Sehgal on 25th January 2020. Cabinet Minister, Siddarth Nath Singh and Minister of State, Government of Uttar Pradesh, UdayBhan Singh were also present on this occasion.
    • The Government of Uttar Pradesh is the second State after Punjab to establish a GOTT-PMU for effectively utilizing this transformational initiative towards inclusive, efficient and transparent procurement. Among the CPSEs, SAIL has already signed MoU for setting up a PMU. Many other states and CPSEs are in the process of setting up GOTT-PMUs.

     

    1. DefExpo 2020

     

    • The number of companies registered for participating in the 11thedition of the biennial mega defence exhibition, DefExpo 2020, to be held at Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow between February 5-9, 2020; has reached 1,000. In the DefExpo 2018, held in Chennai, 702 companies had participated. Thus, it has become by far the biggest ever DefExpo to be held in India.

    The number of participatingforeign companies has also increased to 165 from the previous figure of 160.

    The booked exhibition space by exhibitors for DefExpo 2020 has gone up by 60 per cent to over 42,800 square metres, compared to around 26,774 during the last edition. Defence Ministers and Service Chiefs of 35 countries have confirmed their participation for the DefExpo. A substantial number of Memoranda of Undertaking (MoUs) are expected to be inked during the Expo, resulting in forging of new business collaborations.

    The theme of the Expo is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’. The aim is to bring the leading technologies in the defence sector under one roof and provide a myriad of opportunities for the government,private manufactures and startups. The event will cover the entire spectrum of the country’s aerospace, defence and security interests.

    The sub theme of the exhibition is ‘Digital Transformation of Defence’ which aligns with the concept of the future battlefield. Manufacturing for the aerospace and defence sector through application of newer technologies will also be focused upon. In addition to exhibiting products and technologies and live demonstrations by the Services, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and industry will showcase the land, naval, air and internal security systems. The ‘India Pavilion’ will exclusively showcase the jointness between the public and private sector, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)/Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and innovation eco-system, which is the key to the way forward.

    There will be a sizeable Uttar Pradesh Pavilion at the DefExpo venue. Apart from displaying industrial prowess and huge potential for the investors, the UP government will organise several cultural programmes showcasing rich cultural heritage of the northern state. A unique experience for the visitors is planned at the Tent City, which is being especially erected at the venue.

    The Central government has set up Defence Industrial Corridor in Uttar Pradesh with identification of six nodes. A Defence Planning Committee has also been formed. In this regard, the Government of UP has planned to build a defence manufacturing corridor along with the proposed Bundelkhand Expressway which will help in making India self-reliant in the field of defence production. The DefExpo will play the role of a catalyst in attracting not only investments but also cutting-edge technologies to the region.

    The DefExpo 2020 is expected to see participation from over 70 countries and will be in line with the biggest of the international defence exhibitions. The show will be marked with numerous attractions such as:

    • Live demonstrations of the services, DPSUs and industry showing the land, naval, air and internal security systems in action.  Live demonstration will be held at two locations one at the exhibition site and the other at the Gomati river front. There will be no damage to the environment during the Gomati River Front display.
    • Business seminars are being organised by both international and Indian Industry chambers Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), SYNERGIA, Directorate of Standardisation (DOS)/Department of Defence Production (DDP), US-India Business Council (USIBC), US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), etc. The seminar topics are futuristic and include discussions on artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things (IoTs), drones, wired warrior, etc
    • For this exposition, technology has been used as an enabler and for the first time the DefExpo app was released by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh on December 27, 2019 which is available on Apple App Store and Android Play Store. The main features of the app are to ‘inform, engage and feedback’. It provides detailed information about the day-to-day events; participating exhibitors; DPSUs, guest speakers of seminars/webinars; publications e.,electronic brochures and e-books; maps and directions of the venues and city weather.
    • Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh reviewed the preparations of DefExpo 2020 with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on January 5, 2020. Raksha Mantri also released a teaser film during the review meeting and the same are being aired at different platforms to provide an introduction of DefExpo in the run up to the event.

     

    1. CBIC has a big role in India’s rise in Ease of Doing Business rankings

     

     

    • Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur has expressed confidence that with concerted efforts of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), India would further improve its position in ranking for Ease of Doing Business. While addressing at Investiture Ceremony & International Customs Day 2020 here today, Shri Thakur said that India has risen in the Ease of Doing Business Rankings by being transparent, accountable and logical. This rise in rankings is due to the efforts of the officers of CBIC as Trading Across Borders is one of the key parameter of the rankings and it is credit to the efforts of CBIC that this key parameter has performed.

    While stressing on harnessing technology for faster resolution, the Minister said that technology plays an important role by ensuring efficiency, transparency and accountability. Shri Thakur appreciated the response of Custom officials to dynamics of changing ecosystem worldwide. Customs are doing well because they work as a team besides adapting and evolving, especially in a large and diverse country like India.

    He said the 2020 theme of International Customs Organisation itself highlights the changing nature and role of customs today. The theme of International Customs Day, celebrated on 26th January every year, is dedicated to the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of our actions, with the slogan “Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”.

    Shri Thakur gave away the awards to CBIC Officers & Staff for their meritorious services on the occasion of Investiture Ceremony & International Customs Day. Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificates and World Customs Organization (WCO) Certificates of Merit Award were also presented to the distinguished officers of the CBIC.

    Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Revenue Secretary, also spoke about the thrust on enhancing trade facilitation and the role of other stakeholders including participating government agencies. Revenue Secretary emphasized on use of technology in ensuring Ease of Doing Business.

    Dr. John Joseph, Chairman CBIC, while congratulating the awardees highlighted recent key initiatives taken by the Customs for enhancing trade facilitation in line with the Action Plan for implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO ratified by India.  He also complimented the officers for their dedicated work especially in the area of preventing smuggling of environmentally sensitive items, flora and fauna. Chairman CBIC said that officers of CBIC are fully committed towards hassle free trade and taking India to newer heights in Ease of Doing Business rankings.

    Shri O. P. Dadhich, Principal Chief Commissioner of Customs Delhi Zone presented the vote of thanks.

    The following officers received the Presidential commendation.

    1. Exceptionally Meritorious Service rendered at the Risk of Life
    2. Shri Afaq Ahmad Giri, Assistant Director, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Regional Unit, Jammu;
    3. Shri Lalthanliana, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Regional Unit, Aizawl;
    4. Shri Ranjeet Singh, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Regional Unit, Jammu;
    5. Specially Distinguished Record of Service
    6. Shri Bankey Behari Agrawal, Principal Chief Commissioner, Central Goods and Services Tax & Central Excise (CGST & CEX) and Customs Zone, Hyderabad;
    7. Shri Pramod Kumar Singh, Principal Commissioner, CGST & CEX Zone, Jaipur;
    8. Shri Ashish Varma, Principal Additional Director General, DRI Zonal Unit, Ahmedabad;
    9. Shri Vimal Kumar Srivastava, Additional Director General, National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes & Narcotics (NACIN), Faridabad;
    10. Shri Subhash Agrawal, Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai –II Customs Zone, Mumbai;
    11. Satish S. Dhavale, Additional Director, Risk Management Centre for Customs, Directorate General of Analytics and Risk Management, Mumbai;
    12. Shri Nagendra Kumar Mishra, Additional Commissioner, CGST & CEX Zone, Ranchi;
    13. Shri Hardeep Batra, Additional Commissioner, World Customs Organisation Cell, CBIC, New Delhi;
    14. Shri Sachin Jain, Additional Commissioner, CGST & CEX Zone, New Delhi;
    15. Shri Rahul Ramesh Nangare, First Secretary, High Commission of India, London;
    16. Shri Parmod Kumar, Additional Commissioner, Tax Research Unit, CBIC, New Delhi;
    17. Sucheta Sreejesh, Additional Director, DRI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    18. Shri Gauri Shankar Sinha, Director, Goods and Services Tax Council, New Delhi;
    19. Shri Satish Pandurangarao Pattapu, Deputy Director, DRI Zonal Unit, Mumbai;
    20. Shri Rajeev Kumar Arora, Assistant Commissioner, Directorate General of Taxpayer Services, New Delhi;
    21. Ashok Kumar Gautam, Assistant Director, Directorate General of Human Resource Development (DGHRD), New Delhi;
    22. Shri S. Kalyan Iyer, Assistant Commissioner, Directorate General of Systems & Data Management, Chennai;
    23. Krishnamachari Srinivasan, Assistant Commissioner, CGST & CEX Zone, Chennai;
    24. Shri Jitender Kumar Sharma, Superintendent, Directorate of Logistics, New Delhi;
    25. Shri Vijay C. Bellary, Superintendent, CGST & CEX Zone, Bengaluru;
    26. Shri Haresh G. Parecha, Superintendent, CGST & CEX Zone, Mumbai;
    27. Shri Rakesh Bhargava, Senior Intelligence Officer, Directorate General of Goods & Services Tax Intelligence (DGGI) Zonal Unit, Ludhiana;
    28. Shri Ram Niwas, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGGI Zonal Unit, Chandigarh;
    29. Shri R. Srivatsan, Superintendent, NACIN, Chennai;
    30. Shri Vinod V. Pisharody, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Zonal Unit, Mumbai;
    31. Shri Krishnakant Gupta, Superintendent, Directorate General of Taxpayer Services (DGTS) Zonal Unit, Ahmedabad;
    32. Shri Shasidharan, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Zonal Unit, Cochin.
    33. Shri Srusti Rameswara Baba, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGGI Zonal Unit, Pune;
    34. Shri Dilip Singh Bisen, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGGI Zonal Unit, Mumbai;
    35. Shri Somit Das, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Zonal Unit, Kolkata;
    36. Shri K. Amudhaganesh, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Zonal Unit, Chennai;
    37. Shri A Shanmugaraj, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI Regional Unit, Coimbatore;
    38. Shri Vijay Prakash Verma, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGGI Zonal Unit, Jaipur;
    39. Shri Sanjeev Kumar Bhalla, Intelligence Officer, DRI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    40. Shri Rohit Issar, Intelligence Officer, DGGI, New Delhi;
    41. Hem Lata, Senior Private Secretary, DRI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    42. Neerja Sharma, Senior Private Secretary, DGGI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    43. Nita Chirag Shah, Senior Private Secretary, DRI Zonal Unit, Ahmedabad;
    44. Radha Vijaykumar, Administrative Officer, DRI Zonal Unit, Chennai;
    45. Shri Vinod Joshi, Tax Assistant, Tax Research Unit, CBIC, New Delhi;
    46. Shri S. Nageswaran, Driver Special Grade, DGGI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    47. Shri Jaspal Chauhan, Driver Grade-I, DRI Headquarters, New Delhi;
    48. Shri M. Shanthaveerappa, Head Havaldar, DGGI Zonal Unit, Bengaluru.

     

    1. World Customs Organisation (WCO) Certificate of Merit

     

    OFFICERS of CBIC

      1. Sh Rajan Chaudhary, Commissioner, Chennai-I, Chennai.
      2. Sh R K Mishra, Commissioner, JNCH, Mumbai Zone-II, Mumbai
      3. Sh Manish Kumar, Joint Commissioner, Directorate of           International Customs, New Delhi
      4. Sh Aneish P. Rajan, Joint Commissioner, Customs Preventive, Kochi.
      5. Subhash Yadav, Joint Director RMCC, Mumbai
      6. Sh Praveen Kumar Bali, Deputy Commissioner, TRU, CBIC, New Delhi
      7. Sh Kshitij Jain, Deputy Director, DG Systems, New Delhi
      8. Swati Bhanwala, Deputy Director, OSD (Land Customs), CBIC, New Delhi
      9. Anees Cherkunnath, Deputy Director, Directorate of Logistics, CBIC, New Delhi
      10. Anchita Pandoh, Deputy Commissioner, ACC Export, New  Delhi
      11. Sh Babu Lal Meena, Deputy Commissioner, Single Window, CBIC, New Delhi
      12. Sh Gyanender Saxena, Chemical Examiner Gr II, Customs Laboratory, Mumbai
      13. Sh Bibekananda Panda, Superintendent, WCO Cell, CBIC, New Delhi
      14. Sh Mukesh Bihari Pathak, Superintendent, Customs (Preventive), Jodhpur
      15. Sh Arghya Bhattacharya, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI, KZU, Kolkata
      16. Sh Devanand P. Dhawa, Suprintendent, Customs (Preventive), Jamnagar
      17. Sh Upendra Kumar Vashishtha, Inspector (Examiner) DGHRD, New Delhi

     

    Officers from other Government Agencies:

     

    1. Sh S B Singh, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre, New Delhi
    2. Sh Navin Kumar Vidyarthi, Indian Statistical Service, Director, TRU, CBIC, New Delhi

     

    1. Bodo Agreement – another success of PM’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’: 

    • Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah presided over the signing of a historic agreement between Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo representatives, in New Delhi today, to end the over 50-year old Bodo crisis. Further, a permanent solution has been found out for the problem that has cost the region over 4000 lives.
    • Present on the occasion were Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Convenor, NEDA and Assam Minister, Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Executive Member of BTC, Shri  Hagrama Mohilary, representatives of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), United Boro People Organization (UBPO), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) factions – Gobinda Basumatary, Dhirendra Boro, Ranjan Daimary, B. Saoraigwra, along with senior officers from Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Assam.
    • With this agreement, over 1500 armed cadres will abjure violence and join the mainstream. A Special Development Package Rs. 1500 crores over three years will be given by the Union Government to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.
    • Speaking on the occasion, Shri Shah called this momentous occasion as the harbinger of a golden future for Assam, and that it was a direct consequence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s policy of focusing on North-East region’s development. The fruition of this vision can also be seen in the Bru-Reang agreement signed on January 16, 2020 to end the humanitarian crisis in Meghalaya and Tripura, recent surrender of 644 armed cadres in Assam and surrender of 88 armed NLFT cadres in Tripura to bring them to mainstream, in addition to today’s agreement.
    • Shri Shah said that Assam’s territorial integrity is assured with this agreement, as every single Bodo group has come on board. He noted that while earlier the states of North East used to feel neglected, Modi government ensured that a Union Minister visited the region every week in order to ensure effective implementation of Government schemes and timely completion of infrastructure projects.
    • The Home Minister added that this agreement is another success of Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas’, as with this agreement, Assam’s road to development has been cleared. Ever since assuming office, Shri Modi has initiated numerous policy level interventions that have improved infrastructure, connectivity, economic growth, tourism and social development of the region.
    • Talking on the salient features of the agreement, Shri Shah said that the objective of the MoS is to increase the scope and powers of the BTC and to streamline its functioning; resolve issues related to Bodo people residing outside Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD); promote and protect Bodo’s social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities; providing legislative protection for the land rights of tribals; ensure quick development of tribal areas and rehabilitate members of NDFB factions.
    • The Minister said that in the past, not being satisfied with the settlements of 1993 and 2003, the Bodos have been consistently demanding more powers. A comprehensive and final resolution to their demands has been arrived at, while retaining the territorial integrity of the state of Assam. After Modi government came to power, intensive discussions were held since August 2019 with ABSU, NDFB factions and other Bodo organizations to reach a comprehensive solution to end the decades old Bodo movement.
    • The Government of Assam will establish a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council as per existing procedure. The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools. The present settlement has proposal to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC.

     

    1. India’s first underwater metro, ‘Kolkata metro’ to be opened by March 2022 

     

    • Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation(KMRC) is set to complete its East-West Project, which runs partly under the Hooghly river, West Bengal, by March 2022. It will be India’s first underwater metro.
    • The new metro rail is expected to carry about 900,000 people daily & will take less than a minute to cross a 520-meter underwater tunnel.
      74% of the East-West metro project is owned by India’s Railway & remaining 26% by the nation’s Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.
    • Manas Sarkar, Managing Director(MD) at KMRC, reported that the authority is waiting for the final installment of 200 million rupees ($2.8 million) over the next 2 years from the Indian Railway (IR) Board.
    • A soft loan of 41.6 billion rupees from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded 48.5% of the project.
    • KMRC will repay the JICA loan over 30 years after an initial 6 year moratorium with an interest rate between 1.2% to 1.6%.

     

     

    1. Dr Jitendra Singh launches Bhuvan Panchayat V 3.0 Web portal

    • The Union Minister of State (I/C) Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh launched the Bhuvan Panchayat V 3.0 web portal in Bengaluru.
    • Speaking after inaugurating the National Workshop on “Space Based Information Support for Decentralised Planning Update”, the Minister appreciated the ISRO’s effort in developing the portal and also said that Space technology has reached the houses of the common man. He further said that the space technology has contributed to ease of living of common man. Space technology has applications in various fields, he said. The Government initiatives have boosted the Indian Space Programme, he added. The Minister added that that the vision of Vikram Sarabhai has been fulfilled.
    • The Minister also released the technical documents pertaining to SISDP-Update Project.
    • The Web Geo portal is an easy to use Geo portal developed for database visualization, data analytics, generation of automatic reports, model based products and services for the benefit of Gram Panchayat members and other stake holders. The targeted audience for this portal are Public, PRIs and different stakeholders belonging to the gram panchayats.
    • ISRO launched SISDP project to assist Gram Panchayats at grassroot level with basic planning inputs derived from satellite data for preparing developmental plans, its implementation and monitoring the activities. SISDP phase I Project was successfully concluded in the year 2016-17.
    • Based on the rich experience gained and encouraging feedback received from various stakeholders on SIS-DP-I Project “SISDP-Update” was initiated with enhanced objectives of providing value added geospatial products and services to aid Gram Panchayat development planning process of MoPR.  For the first time, thematic database on 1:10,000 scale for the entire country is available with high integrated High Resolution satellite data for planning.

     

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. India-Brazil set target of USD 15 billion trade by 2022

       

    • The visit of the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, is a sign of the growing importance of the India – Brazil bilateral partnership said Union Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways, Piyush Goyal, during his address at the inaugural session of the India-Brazil Business Forum held in New Delhi.
    • He hoped that as Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) region trade between the two countries will grow to USD 15 billion by 2022.
    • The 15 MoUs signed during the visit of the President of Brazil shows the power of democracy, demography, leadership, the talent pool available in India, India’s market and the aspirations of one billion Indian citizens for a better life said theCommerce and Industry Minister. The MoUs of cooperation that have been signed during the presidential visit on investments, trade facilitation, social security, agriculture, defence and double taxation makes this the most productive visit by a Brazilian Head of State.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister hoped that investments will also grow in the sectors of clean energy, startups, railways and creation of value chains between India and Brazil where goods may be semi assembled in one country and finished in another. Piyush Goyal informed that the entire Indian Railway will be fully electrified by 2024 and by 2030 the railway network in India will run completely on clean energy with zero emission.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister welcomed the announcement made during the visit of President of Brazil to India for visa free travel between the two countries. He added that visitors for business and tourism between two countries will benefit greatly from this.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister also urged that the India – Brazil Business Leader’s Forum may be activated and reconstituted to make it more relevant and contemporary to businesses in both countries.
    • Commerce and Industry Minister hoped that India’s services in wellness sector like Yoga and Ayurveda will further grow as Brazil has a strong community of Yoga and Ayurveda practitioners. Brazil has an association of Ayurveda (ABRA), a nonprofit association with offices in 9 states of Brazil and members all over Brazil and the third International Congress on Ayurveda was held from 12 to 15 March 2018 in Rio de Janeiro. The conference saw participation of more than 4000 delegates, including many from India.
    • India and Brazil share close relationship at the bilateral level as well as plurilateral fora like BRICS, BASIC, G-20, IBSA, International Solar Alliance and in larger multilateral bodies like UN, UNESCO and WIPO stated Commerce and Industry Minister. He further said that the decade long bilateral strategic partnership is based on a common global vision shared democratic values and a commitment to foster economic growth with social inclusion for the welfare of the people of both countries.

     

     

    1. Ukrainian president rejects prime minister’s resignation over leaked audio recording

     

     

    • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declined Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk‘s offer to resign after the leak of an audio recording in which someone, seemingly Honcharuk, audibly says Zelensky “has a very primitive understanding of economic processes.”
    • Honcharuk filed his resignation after the audio recording was uploaded Wednesday on an anynomous YouTube He said Zelensky is “a model of honesty for me”; however, “to remove any doubts about our respect and trust in the president, I wrote a resignation offer”, he added.
    • Zelensky said in a meeting with Honcharuk, “I decided to give you and your government a chance if you’ll be able to fix some issues that are very important now and really worry our society”.
    • He also instructed security agencies to investigate who leaked the recording.

     

    1. US House passes bill on sanctions against Chinese officials for meddling in Dalai Lama’s succession

     

     

    • US House of Representatives has passed a bill that authorises financial and travel sanctions against Chinese officials who interfere in the process of selecting the successor to the Dalai Lama. Introduced by Congressman James P McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the bill was passed by a overwhelming vote of 392 to 22.
    • The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, will also prohibit China from opening any new consulate in the US until Beijing allows Washington to open its diplomatic station in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
    • According to the bill, the succession or reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is an exclusively religious matter that should be decided solely by the Tibetan Buddhist community.
    • Under the draft legislation, Washington would freeze any American asset and ban US travel of Chinese officials if they are found to be involved in identifying or installing a Dalai Lama approved by Beijing.
    • The Global Magnitsky Act allows the US to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
    • The bill also mandates the US State Department to begin collaborative and multinational efforts to protect the environment and water resources of the Tibetan Plateau.

    SPORTS NEWS

    1. Neeraj Chopra qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

     

    • Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.86 metres at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa. The 22-year-old Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist breached the Olympic qualification mark of 85 metres in his fourth attempt at Potchefstroom last night.
    • Neeraj had missed the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships due to an elbow injury. His last major international competition was the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games where he won gold with a national record of 88.06 metres.
    • Another Indian in fray, Rohit Yadav threw 77.61 metres.

     

     

     

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