• Current Affairs, 31st January 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. Union HRD Minister chairs the meeting of the Indian National Commission For Cooperation (INCCU) with UNESCO

     

    • Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ chaired the meeting of the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) in New Delhi today.
    • Minister of State for HRD Shri Sanjay Dhotre was also present at the meeting. The Representative of India to the Executive Board of UNESCO, Shri J.S Rajput, Secretary HRD cum Secretary General of INCCU, Shri Amit Khare, members of the INCCU and senior officials of the Ministry were also present on the occasion.
    • The membership of National Commission consists of members of five Sub Commissions namely, Sub Commission for (i) Education (ii) Natural Sciences (iii) Social Sciences (iv) Communication (v) Culture. The members of the Sub Commissions briefed the chair about the activities carried out by their respective Sub Commissions.
    • Speaking on the occasion Shri Pokhriyal said that the reconstituted National Commission has met for the first time today and let this be the first of many such regular and meaningful interactions that will help build India’s stature and position across countries. He added that the National Commission can play a powerful role in coordinating the activities that are being carried out by the institutions under each of the five sub commissions so that India’s efforts and achievements get due support, acknowledgement and recognition across countries. Our work needs to be projected more at the international level, so that we can contribute more to towards fulfilment of the objectives of UNESCO while also strengthening India’s image globally.
    • The Union Minister said that India is one of the founding members of UNESCO and has always played an active role in promoting its ideals and objectives in the fields of education, culture, communication, natural sciences and social and human sciences. He added that the Government of India is fully committed to the attainment of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and every Ministry is making huge efforts in this direction.
    • Shri Pokhriyal further highlighted that in the field of education, India is working to further UNESCO’s objective of making quality education available to everyone.  Many steps have been taken to improve the access, equity and quality of education. A New Education Policy is on the anvil, which has been formulated after the largest ever process of consultation with stakeholders.
    • The Minister further said that in the culture sector, UNESCO’s programmes aim to promote, preserve and safeguard cultural heritage and spread respect for all cultures. India has an unparalleled heritage – both tangible and intangible. He added that the Ministry of Culture and the institutions under it are working to preserve the tangible and intangible heritage of the country.
    • He also said that India has been playing a very positive role in the field of Science by promoting scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation. He further said that India also supports UNESCO’s works towards freedom of expression, which is a key condition for democracy and development, as also its objectives in the field of social sciences.
    • Shri Pokhriyal said that to showcase the good work we are doing and get better representation for India, we need our National Commission to be stronger and more active. He suggested the five Sub Commissions to meet regularly on their own to discuss the work they are doing and identify the challenges they are facing. They should inform National Commission of all developments in their respective sectors for proper coordination. The Minster hoped that the National Commission will identify and take up issues in India’s interest with the UNESCO Headquarters through the Permanent Representative of India.
    • While addressing the meeting Shri Dhotre said that India has always played an active role in promoting its ideals and objectives in the fields of education, culture, communication, natural sciences & social and human sciences. He highlighted that the concerned ministries of the government are making consistent efforts towards fulfilment of UNESCO’s objectives and attainment of 2030 sustainable development goals in their respective sectors. He added that the Indian National Commission and its five sub commissions can play a vital role in coordinating and highlighting the work being done by India in support of UNESCO’s objectives.
    • The Director General of UNESCO Ms Audrey Azoulay will be visiting India from 4thto 7th of next month.

     

    1. Cabinet Secretary holds high level review on Novel Coronavirus

     

    • High level review meetings on preparedness for Novel Coronavirus are regularly being held by the Union Health Minister, Cabinet Secretary and Health Secretary.

    Cabinet Secretary has held four review meetings so far. Today he reviewed the preparedness with the concerned Ministries of Health & Family Welfare, External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Civil Aviation, Information & Broadcasting, Labour & Employment, and Shipping.

    A Video Conference with the Chief Secretaries of the States and UTs was also taken by the Cabinet Secretary.

    Following today’s meeting of the Cabinet Secretary, a number of new steps have been taken:

     

    • All those who have come from China after 15th January, 2020 shall be tested as there in an incubation period for the virus.
    • The Cabinet Secretary has stressed upon the need for 14 days’ home isolation for all those who have returned from China.
    • It is also advised that trip to china should be avoided.
    • It was also decided to augment the lab facilities.
      • Six more labs will start functioning from today:(1) NIV Bengaluru Unit, (2) Victoria Hospital Campus, KR Road, Fort, Bengaluru (3), AIIMS, New Delhi (4), NCDC, Delhi (5) Kasturba Hospital for infectious diseases, Mumbai (8) NIV – Kerala Unit.

     

      • Six more labs will start function by 31st January, 2020: (1) ICMR – NICED, Kolkata (2) GMC, Secunderabad (3) KGMU, Lucknow (4) SMS, Jaipur (5) IGGMC, Nagpur (6) KIPMR, Chennai.

     

    • Discharge portal for patients have been prepared by DGHS which is being disseminated.
    • It was decided to put up check-posts in relevant tourist locations for better surveillance.
    • Gram panchayats are being organised to make people more aware regarding the symptoms, precautions and measures taken by the State Governments regarding prevention and management for Novel Coronavirus in villages bordering Nepal.
    • States have also been advised to open control rooms, appoint a nodal officer and popularize the control room number.
    • IEC material is to be prepared in local language by the concerned States.

     

    Status:

    As on 30th January, 2020, a total of 7711 confirmed cases reported by 31 provinces, 1370 serious cases, 170 deaths, 124 discharged and cured cases and 12167 suspected cases.Most of the deaths reported in elderlies with co-morbid conditions.

    The number of reported confirmed cases abroad are Thailand (14), Singapore (10), Australia (5), USA (5), Japan (8), south Korea (4), Malaysia (7), France (4), Vietnam (2) Canada (2), Nepal (1), Cambodia (1), Sri Lanka (1) Germany (4), UAE (4), Hong Kong (10), Macao (7), Taiwan (8), Finland (1), Angola (1) and India (1), total of 21 countries.

    One positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, of a student studying the Wuhan university, has been reported in Kerala.The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital.The patient is stable and is being closely monitored.

     

    Screening data: from 21 airports

    • Total flights screened: 234
    • Total passengers screened: 43346

     

    Laboratory Support:

    • National Institute of Virology, Pune is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV.
    • Adequate lab reagents are available with NIV, Pune to test 5000 samples.
    • 49 samples have been referred to NIV for testing. 48 have tested as Negative.

     

      1. Facility of Life Certificate by banks from the doorstep of the pensioners

     

    • The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW), has taken a landmark step to make life easier for senior citizens to submit their Annual Life Certificate for continued pension.
    • The Department vide its circular no. 12/4/2020-P&PW(C)-6300, dated 17.01.2020 has issued directions to all the Pension Disbursing Banks to send SMSs/Emails to all their pensioners on 24th October, 1st November, 15th November and 25th November every year reminding them to submit their Annual Life Certificates by 30th November.
    • The Department for stricter monitoring in order to ensure that no pensioners are left out, directed all Pension Disbursing Banks to make an exception list as on 1st December every year of those pensioners who fail to submit their Life Certificate and issue another SMS/Email to them for submitting the Life Certificate. The bank in addition will also ask such pensioners through SMS/Email as to whether they are interested in submission of Life Certificate through a chargeable doorstep service, the charge not exceeding Rs.60/-.
    • The Central Pension Processing Cells (CPPC) of the Pension Disbursing Banks shall now be duty bound to submit a report to DoPPW in the month of January, February & March respectively, indicating the total number of pensioners who have not given their Life Certificate along with a breakup of the Certificates submitted physically and through Digital means.
    • The above is a landmark step from the side of the Central Government showing due care for pensioners. This step is in addition to the order issued recently dated 18.07.2019 vide which all pensioners age 80 years and above have been given an exclusive window to submit their Life Certificate w.e.f. 1st October every year instead of 1st November every year.

     

    1. India-Bangladesh JT Exercise SAMPRITI-IX

    • As part of the ongoing Indo-Bangladesh defence cooperation, a joint military training exercise SAMPRITI-IX is being conducted at UMROI, Meghalaya, India from 03 Feb to 16 Feb 2020.
    • Exercise SAMPRITI is an important bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh and will be the ninth edition of the exercise which is hosted alternately by both countries.
    • During the joint military exercise SAMPRITI-IX a Command Post Exercise (CPX) and a Field Training Exercise (FTX) will be conducted. For both the CPX and FTX, a scenario where both nations are working together in a Counter Terrorism environment will be simulated under the UN Charter. The FTX curriculum is progressively planned where the participants will initially get familiar with each other’s organizational structure and tactical drills. Subsequently, joint tactical exercise will be conducted wherein the battle drills of both the armies will be practiced. The training will culminate with a final validation exercise in which troops of both armies will jointly practice a Counter Terrorist Operation in a controlled and simulated environment.
    • In addition, to understand each other at tactical level, greater cultural understanding will be emphasized to strengthen military trust and cooperation between two nations.

     

      1. Dr Jitendra Singh launches DoPT’s online certificate course on “Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World”

     

    • The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, DrJitendra Singh launched the DoPT’s online certificate course on “Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World” at a function here today.
    • The online course/programme on Mahatma Gandhi is an initiative of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the iGOTprogramme to pay tribute to Father of the Nation coinciding with the Martyr’s Day today.
    • Addressing the gathering, DrJitendra Singh said the Mahatma’s teachings are more relevant today than ever before. “Gandhijicreated a mass awareness for people’s participation and the freedom movement. Even today, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), inspired by Bapu, has turned into a mass campaign because of translating Gandhian thought into action.
    • As far as adopting Gandhiji’s thoughts in Government functioning is concerned, Bapu stressed upon the concept of incorruptibility,” he said. “It is not enough to weed out corruption, but it must be eliminated. Like the resort to non-violence is not an ideal of the meek and weak, but of the strong and powerful, similarly the principle of incorruptibility can be adapted to the administration,” he added.
    • The online module/course on “Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World” under the iGOT platform will be a certificate programme.  This Department has collaborated with the Centre for Gandhi and Peace Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Gandhi Smriti and DarshanSamiti (GS & DS), to develop this Certificate Programme.
    • Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, DoPT, Dr C.Chandramoulisaid the online Certificate course will soon be introduced in the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie for Civil Services probationers undergoing training. Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and Secretary, Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare, Dr. KshatrapatiShivaji, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU, Prof. Nageshwar Rao and Senior Officers of DoPT and DARPG were present.
    • The IGNOU in consultation with GS&DS has prepared a syllabus of this online certificate course on “Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World” which is divided into 3 Modules comprising 12 Units (4 Units under each Module) as under:-

     

    ModulesUnits
    Module -1

    Gandhi:  Life and His Philosophy

    1.   Introducing Gandhi

    2.   Gandhi’s View on Truth

    3.   Gandhi’s View on Non-Violence

    4.   Ethics and Morality

    Module -2

    Gandhi and His Legacy – 01

    1.   Swaraj

    2.   Swadeshi

    3.   Satyagrah

    4.   Trusteeship

    Module -3

    Gandhi and his Legacy – 02

    1.   Non-Violence Movement

    2.   Pacifist Movement

    3.   Women’s Movement

    4.   Environmental Movement

     

    • This online course is of 6 hours duration. Initially, registrations/enrollments of first 5,000 eligible users/officials only will be accepted for any single batch on first come first serve basis. In order to ensure registration of government officials only, the registrations done through a “.nic.in” and/or “.gov.in” email domain only will be accepted. There will not be any fee for this online certificate programme for eligible Government officials.
    • The eligibility criteria for registration/undergoing this online certificate course is same as per the approved criteria under the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) policy under which iGOTprogramme is functional.  Accordingly the eligibility criteria will be as under:
    • All Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers, Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Forest Service (IFoS), Group ‘A’ Central Civil Service Officers and all Group ‘A’ officers belonging to Central Secretariat Service (CSS), Central Secretariat Stenographer Service (CSSS) and State Administrative/Civil Service
    • All Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ officials belonging to State Civil Services
    • All Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ officials belonging to Central Secretariat Service (CSS), Central Secretariat Stenographer Service (CSSS).
    • However, the eligibility in terms of the length of service and upper age limit, which is 2 years and 56 years respectively for the iGOTprogramme under MOOCs Policy, will be relaxed for this course to broaden the coverage.  The course will be made available to all Central and State Government officials once the online-infrastructural arrangements with IGNOU are sorted out.
    • On completion of each module there will be a quiz of 20 marks (20 questions of one mark each). There will 3 quizzes which the learners have to compulsorily clear for completion of the course.
    • Two attempts will be provided to clear the quiz. The total assessment will be of 100 marks with 60 marks for the quiz (20 marks x 3 quizzes) and 40 marks for time given for the study of the course material (data will be captured from the LMS  analytics).
    • The passing requirement will be 50% for each section separately.  On fulfilling the above assessment criteria, the Certificate will be autogenerated with digital signature and can be downloaded by the learners/trainees. This course will be offered online on the IGNOU in-house Learning Management System (LMS). The learning resource will include 12 Units of Self-Instructional Material with supplementary readings and video lectures (as external links). Each unit will require half an hour of reading totaling to 6 hours for the completion of course.  In the first phase this online certificate course will be in English and Hindi.  Subsequently the course will be made available in other regional languages as well.
    • Successful completion of the course will acquaint officers with the theories of Mahatma Gandhi and their relevance & importance in the day-to-day matters of governance of the 21st
    • All the details regarding this online certificate course along with other courses, eligibility criteria and registration process etc which are available under Integrated Online Training (iGOT) programme can be accessed on igot.nic.in
    • DrJitendra Singh later chaired a Review Meeting of the DoPT during which he was apprised of the implementation of the Hundred Days’ Vision achieved by the Department.
    • The Minister was informed that the Combined Foundation Course for all Civil Servants has been finalized and the lateral entry at Joint Secretary level completed while the process for lateral entry at Deputy Secretary level is underway.
    • The proposal to set up the National Recruitment Agency is also in process. The recommendations of the Sectoral Group of Secretaries on DoPTis being implemented and the focus is on the themes of Capacity Building by using Digital Media platforms and Recruitment Reforms.

     

    1. Indian Railways implementing Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) of Rolling Stock (RFID Project)

     

    • Indian Railways is amongst the largest Railway systems in the world, addressing a significant part of the country’s transportation needs, both in the passenger and freight segment.
    • It carries about 23 million passengers per day and over 3 million tons of freight every day over 65000 route kilometers. It has major growth plans and needs to improve service levels and operating efficiency. As a part of this endeavour, the RFID project has been taken up which aims to automatically and accurately track and trace rolling stock as they move across the country with a special focus on improving their safety and reliability. Two works for RFID project have been sanctioned by Railway Board for a total of Rs. 112.96 Crores.
    • For implementing this project over Indian Railways, the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS, the IT arm of the Indian Railways), GS1 India and the Indian Industry have come together in alignment with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. Thereby creating a new segment in the AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Collection) industry in India uniquely suited for the Indian Railways requirements. This project is being spearheaded by the Rolling Stock Department of the Indian Railways. GS1 India is deeply involved in ensuring the quality of the work and proper adoption of international standards. CRIS has been utilising the considerable expertise of GS1 in developing and validating solutions, based on GS1 Standards, for the Indian Railways.
    • The project enables real time visibility of railway wagons through the National Rail Network using cutting edge technologies like RFID with GS1 global standards for unique & universal identification, in line with global best practices. It enables enhanced operational efficiency of the Indian Railways. This unique initiative of standards based technology development coupled with high-paced field work done by CRIS during last 15 months has now borne fruit – the complete technology eco-system for RFID implementation on the Indian Railways has been established jointly.
    • In order that RFID tags can be used in all locations in the country including those with poor connectivity, Indian Railways opted to use the GIAI-202 standard. Indian Railways has successfully field tested these CRIS designed GIAI202 encoded tags at a speed of 182.7 kmph. This feat puts the Indian Railways in the league of leaders with respect to AIDC technology in the Railways sector.
    • Implementation plans:The Indian Railways has aggressive implementation plans for RFID. All Rolling Stock, roughly 3,50,000 vehicles, are expected to be tagged by 2021. Till now approximately 22,000 wagons and 1200 coaches have been fitted with RFID tags. Additionally, roughly 3500 fixed RFID readers are expected to come up which shall communicate to a central control center using GS1’s LLRP (low level reader protocol) standard.
    • The complete solution also includes the integration of RFID readers with various equipment such as Train Presence Detectors (TPDs), trackside condition monitoring equipment etc. The combination of all of these allows for an early identification of rolling stock that may need maintenance. This will enable a paradigm shift on the Indian Railways in its move to improve reliability of its Rolling Stock, by moving from a predominantly time based maintenance methodology to a condition based maintenance. The operational advantages in terms of improved availability and reliability of Rolling Stock will affect each and every customer of the Indian Railways.
    • AIDC is being expanded on the Indian Railways to more areas such as Direct Part Marking and material management based on GS1 standards such as GTIN, CPID, SSCC, GLN etc. Automating information capture about assemblies and components is a key element in the Indian Railways implementation of Industry 4.0. Greater accuracy in data capture accompanied by greater efficiency is the key driver. GS1 India’s initiatives such as DataKart etc. are all expected to play an important role in the creation of master data from the suppliers to the Indian Railways.
    1. Bodo Agreement heralds a new beginning for Bodo People

    • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has termed the Bodo Agreement as a historic chapter for peace and development in Assam.
    • Hailing the Bodo Agreement, He said it is inspired by the by the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas & Sabka Vishwas’ and spirit of ‘Ek Bharat-Shresth Bharat’.
    • In a series of tweets, Prime Minister said, “As India remembers Pujya Bapu on his Punya Tithi, Assam is witnessing a historic chapter for peace and development. After a wait of 50 years, agreement with our Bodo friends heralds a new beginning. It will strengthen Assam’s unity, bring development and usher in a bright future.
    • After signing this historic agreement with Bodo organizations, foremost priority of our govt is development of Bodo areas. Work has begun on a comprehensive Rs 1500 crore package. Our special focus will be on ease of living and ensuring that Bodos benefit fully from govt schemes.
    • Bodo friends joining us on path of peace sends a clear message that solution to issues is possible when we leave path of violence & repose faith in democracy & Constitution. I welcome my Bodo friends to the mainstream. We are committed to ensure development of Bodo areas.
    • The 5 decade old Bodo issue finds resolution on the Punyatithi of Pujya Bapu today. The accord between the Bodo groups & Govt will strengthen the unity & integrity of Assam. I welcome decision of my Bodo friends for leaving violence & reposing faith in democracy & Constitution.
    • The accord with our Bodo friends is a message to Assam & other violence affected parts of the country. Nation’s development can be given momentum only in an environment free of violence &fear. Happy that entire energy of our Bodo friends will further strengthen Assam’s development.
    • The accord with our Bodo friends was made while protecting the interest of other communities of Assam. This is a victory for all, it’s victory for humanity. It is inspired by the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas & Sabka Vishwas’, & by the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat-Shresth Bharat’”.
    1. One positive case of Novel Coronavirus reported in Kerala

     

    ·        One positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, of a student studying in Wuhan University, has been reported in Kerala.

    • The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus  and is in isolation in the hospital.
    • The patient is stable and is being closely monitored.
    • On 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARSand MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”
    • WHO has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day we were informed, to learn more about the virus, how it affects the people who are sick with it, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.

    WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:

    • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
    • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
    • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
    • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
    • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

     

    1. Nirav Modi remanded until February 27 in London

    • Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi was produced for a regular remand hearing at a Court in London today and further remanded in custody until February 27.
    • Nirav is fighting extradition to India on charges in PNB fraud and money laundering case. The 48-year-old, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, appeared via videolink from prison before District Judge David Robinson.
    • Nirav Modi’s extradition trial is scheduled for five days starting May 11, with the case management hearings in the case set to begin once all the evidence has been handed into the court for the trial.
    • The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service which represents the Indian government said, there is no further prospect of an appeal for bail in a higher court as the UK High Court had already turned down Nirav’s plea earlier last year.

     

    1. Govt open for discussion on all issues in Budget Session

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that the Government is open for discussion on all issues in the Budget Session of Parliament.
    • He was addressing the all party meeting on the eve of the Budget session which is beginning tomorrow. In his concluding remarks, Mr Modi welcomed the suggestions of most of the Members that the session should focus on the prevailing economic situation in the country.
    • The Prime Minister urged the members to see how the country can gain from the prevailing global economic scenario.
    • He said, in the budget session and in the beginning of the New Year if the Parliament and the Members can give a proper direction to the country’s economy, it would be in the best interest of the country.
    • Mr Modi requested the Members to see to it that they contribute to increasing the productivity of the session and the Parliament. He said, in the last two sessions, the country saw the increased productivity and the great public response in favour of it.
    • He said, as people’s representatives, it is the responsibility to increase the productivity of the House and discuss all issues with an open mind.
    • MPs from all parties including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi, Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan attended the meeting.

     

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. WHO to hold emergency meeting over Coronavirus outbreak

     

    • In China, the death toll due to infection caused by Novel Corona virus has risen to 170. Chinese authorities have so far confirmed 7,800 cases all over the country.
    • Premier Li Keqiang has said that China will make targeted efforts to strengthen the prevention and control of the Novel Corona virus outbreak. Meanwhile, Chinese health authorities have said first case of the virus has been detected in Tibet.
    • China today announced the suspension of all domestic football and postponed indefinitely the top-flight Chinese Super League (CSL) season in response to the deadly viral outbreak.
    • In France, five people have been confirmed to have Corona virus.  Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said that a plane will bring 200 stranded French people from Wuhan.
    • Canada has chartered a plane to bring home as many as 160 of its nationals from China because of the Corona virus epidemic.
    • The second chartered flight with Japanese evacuees from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan arrived in Tokyo today. Three Japanese who returned on the first flight were confirmed to be infected with the virus.
    • The Northern Mariana Islands today banned all travellers from China and declared a state of significant emergency to protect against the Corona virus outbreak.
    • Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has convened an emergency meeting in Geneva today over the deadly Corona virus outbreak in China.
    • The committee will advise the Director-General on whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and what recommendations should be made to manage it.
    • India has requested China for permission to operate two flights to bring back Indian nationals from Hubei Province of China. MEA Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said, the Indian Embassy in Beijing is in touch with Chinese authorities on the ground to work out necessary logistics.

     

    1. European Parliament defers vote on anti-CAA resolution

    • The European Parliament has decided not to conduct a vote today on a resolution against India’s new citizenship law. Government sources called the deferment of the voting on the Citizenship Amendment Act a diplomatic victory.
    • They said that friends of India prevailed over the friends of Pakistan in the European Parliament. India reached out to almost all countries of the powerful bloc, trying to persuade them against going ahead with the resolution against the CAA.
    • Sources said the European lawmakers agreed to delay the voting to get a direct perspective about the CAA from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who is scheduled to visit Brussels to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in mid-March.
    • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had written to European Parliament President David Maria Sassoli over the resolutions moved against the CAA.
    • In his letter, Mr Birla said it is inappropriate for one legislature to pass judgement on another and the practice can be misused by vested interests.
    • Lok Sabha Speaker also asserted that as Members of the Inter- Parliamentary Union, sovereign processes of fellow legislatures should be respected.
    • Mr Birla said, the act provides for easier citizenship to those who have been subjected to religious persecution in our immediate neighbourhood and it is not aimed at taking away citizenship from anybody.
    • He added that the legislation was passed after due deliberation by both houses of the Indian Parliament.

     

    1. European Parliament approves Brexit deal with Britain

    • European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to approve the Brexit deal with London, clearing the final hurdle for Britain’s departure from the EU.
    • The vote was 621 to 49 in favour of the Brexit deal that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiated with the other 27 EU leaders.After Britain’s departure at 11 PM London time tomorrow, the UK will remain within the EU’s economic arrangements until the end of the year.
    • However, UK will not have any say in policy as it will not be a member of the EU anymore.Britain is the first country to leave the EU. UK’s official departure will reduce the number of countries in the bloc to 27.

    SPORTS NEWS

     

    1. Australian Open: Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Serb Novak Djokovic storm into final

    • Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Serb Novak Djokovic today stormed into the finals of the Australian Open Tennis tournament at Melbourne.
    • In Women’s singles, a two-time Grand Slam champion, Garbine Muguruza reached her first Melbourne final with a tough 7-6 10/8, 7-5 victory on fourth seed Simona Halep. She will take on Sofia Kenin in the title clash on Saturday. Earlier Sofia stunned world number one and home hope Ashleigh Barty 7-6  8/6, 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final.
    • In Men’s singles, Novak Djokovic shattered the hopes of ailing rival Roger Federer to sweep into a record eighth Australian Open final and move closer to his 17th Grand Slam crown.
    • Djokovic defeated Swiss Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 3-6, in the first Semifinal clash. He will play either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or seventh-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.
    • The Indian challenge at the Australian Open ended after Rohan Bopanna and his Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok were knocked out in straight sets in the quarterfinal of the mixed doubles event today.
    • The Indo-Ukrainian pair went down 0-6, 2-6 to fifth seed Nikola Mektic and Barbora Krejcikova.

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