• Current Affairs , 3rd JANUARY 2020

     

     

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Pak always persecuted religious minorities and it is our responsibility to help them, says PM Modi
    2. PM Modi electronically releases 3rd installment of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in Tumakuru, Karnataka
    3. PM to inaugurate 107th Indian Science Congress
    4. PM distributes Krishi Karman Awards
    5. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas signs Contracts for 7 Blocks Awarded under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round – IV
    6. 353rd birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh
    7. Assam state zoo first to breed endangered Hargila
    8. Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurates new campus of NFSC in Nagpur
    9. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat holds first meeting
    • Indian Railway announces one integrated Helpline number “139” for any help, enquiry and grievances redressal during travel
    1. Self Propelled Accident Relief Medical Vans to improve disaster response of Railways
    2. Samoan government ends state of emergency over measles outbreak
    3. United Kingdom court extends remand of Nirav Modi
    4. New South Wales declares week-long state of emergency
    5. Sri Lankan cricket team arrives in Guwahati for three-match T20 series

     

     

     

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. Pak always persecuted religious minorities and it is our responsibility to help them, says PM Modi

     

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Pakistan always persecuted religious minorities and it is our responsibility to help these minorities.
    • Speaking at Tumakuru in Karnataka today, he said, Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion and religious minorities were being persecuted there. Mr Modi lashed out at the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and said, the protest must be against Pakistan’s atrocities.
    • The Prime Minister distributed Krishi Karman Awards and Commendation Awards to states at a public meeting today in Tumkur.  He also released the third instalment of PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) scheme for the period between December 2019 – March 2020 in Karnataka today. The Prime Minister transferred the last instalment of the cash of two thousand rupees directly to the accounts of six crore families of farmers across the country.
    • Under the PM KISAN scheme, income support of six thousand rupees per year is provided to all farmer families across the country in three equal instalments of two thousand rupees each every four months. The Prime Minister also handed over Certificates to beneficiaries under PM KISAN from eight States and Union Territories.

     

    1. PM Modi electronically releases 3rd installment of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in Tumakuru, Karnataka

     

    • In Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi electronically released 12,000 crore rupees under Pradhan Mantri Samaan Yojana to six crore farmers in Tumakuru.
    • He also awarded the Krishi Karman Award to the progressive farmers from 21 states. The fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were also given deep sea fishing boats and transponders that will help them to navigate in the deep sea.
    • Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister emphasised on agro exports, value-addition of produce, marketing and doubling of farmers income by 2022. He said that special programmes are launched for coffee, rubber, coconut, cashew and pulses. He also said that his government is committed to improving irrigation facilities and providing skills to the agriculturists.

     

    1. PM to inaugurate 107th Indian Science Congress

     

    • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will inaugurate 107thIndian Science Congress at University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bengaluru on Friday 3 January 2020.
    • Prime Minister Modi will deliver the inaugural address on the occasion and also launch I-STEM Portal on the occasion.  The Chief Minister of Karnataka Shri B. S. Yediyurappa and other dignitaries including Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan will be present on the occasion.
    • The Theme of the India Science Congress (ISC) this year is “Science and Technology: Rural Development”. More than 15,000 participants, including Nobel Laureates, Scientists, intellectuals, academicians, police makers, researchers, students and delegates from different institutions are expected to participate in the event.  Complete details about the event can be accessed on a Mobile App “ISC 2020 UASB”.

     

    1. PM distributes Krishi Karman Awards

     

     

    • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi distributed Agriculture Minister’s Krishi Karman Awards for Progressive Farmers and Commendation Awards to the states at a public meeting in Tumkur, Karnataka today. He also released the 3rd installment of PM Kisan (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) of Rs 2000 for the period December 2019 – March 2020. This will benefit approximately 6 crore beneficiaries and distributed Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) to select farmers of Karnataka.  Prime Minister will also hand over Certificates to beneficiaries under PM Kisan from 8 States / UTs. Prime Minister also handed over the keys of Deep Sea fishing Vessels and Fishing Vessel Transponders to select farmers of Tamil Nadu.
    • Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that it is a great privilege for him to see Annadata – our peasant brothers and sisters, in the new year, the beginning of a new decade. On behalf of 130 crore countrymen, the Prime Minister thanked ther country’s farmers for their toil.
    • The Prime Minister said that the land of Karnataka also witnessed a historic moment when money under the PM-Kisan scheme has been distributed directly into the personal accounts of nearly 6 Crore Farmers in the country. Prime Minister said a total of Rs 12 Thousand Crores has been deposited under the 3rd tranche of the scheme.
    • He hoped that the States that haven’t implemented the ‘PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana’, will do it and political parties will rise over politics to help the farmers in their States.
    • PM recalled that there was also a period in the country, when one rupee was sent for the poor in the country and only 15 paise out of it reached the beneficiaries. And now he said that the money is reaching the poor directly without the intervention of the middlemen.
    • Prime Minister said that the irrigation projects that have been stalled for several decades are now being implemented. He also said that the centre has always given priority to the interests of our farmers with the schemes like crop insurance, soil health cards and 100% neem coated urea.
    • Prime Minister said that due to the efforts of the government, both the production and export of spices from India has increased considerably. “Spice production in India has increased by more than 2.5 million tons, so the export has also increased from about Rs 15 thousand crore to about Rs 19 thousand crore.”
    • He said that apart from horticulture, South India also has a large share in the production of pulses, oil and coarse grains.
    • Prime Minister said, “Seed hubs have been built to promote pulses production in India, of which more than 30 centers are located in Karnataka, Andhra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana itself.”
    • Referring to the Government’s efforts on Fisheries sector, Prime Minister said the government is working at three levels to strengthen the sector.
    • First – Encouraging fisheries in villages through financial assistance to fishermen.
    • Second- Modernizing the fishing boats under the Blue Revolution Scheme.
    • And third – Constructing modern infrastructure related to fish trade and business.
    • Prime Minister said, “fishermen have been linked to the Kisan Credit Card facility. New fishing harbors are being built in large rivers and in the sea for the convenience of fish farmers. A special fund of Rs 7.50 thousand crore has also been created for modern infrastructure. Fishermen’s boats are being modernized for deep sea fishing and navigation devices are being installed in boats for the protection of fishermen with the help of ISRO.”
    • Keeping in view the nutritional security of the country, PM requested to create a new category in the Krishi Karman Award, for Nutri Cereals, Horticulture and Organic Agriculture. This will give impetus to people and states doing better work in these areas, he added.
    • On the occasion, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar informed that a toll-free number for the beneficiaries of PM-Kisan Yojana, 155261 has been started at which the farmers will be able to know their payment status. He added that it shows the Government’s commitment to social security for small and marginal farmers, that two important welfare schemes – PM-Kisan which provides income support and PM- Kisan Maandhan-Yojana (PM-KMY) for pension assistance are being implemented. The Minister added that a mobile application is also being developed for ease of access of PM Kisan Portal facilities for farmers.

     

     

    1. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas signs Contracts for 7 Blocks Awarded under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round – IV

     

    • Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas today here signed contracts for 7 blocks, awarded under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round – IV. The Government had launched OALP Bid Round – IV on 27thAugust 2019. The Bid Round-IV offered 7 blocks  under International Competitive Bidding (ICB) process. The bidding round closed on 31st October, 2019.
    • Subsequent to evaluation, all 7 blocks were approved for award to ONGC, for which the Revenue Sharing Contracts have been signed today, in the presence of the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan. The total area awarded today in the 7 Onland blocks is 18,510 sq.km.. The blocks are spread across 3 sedimentary basins.
    • Shri Pradhan highlighted the success of OALP Bid Rounds under the ambit of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) introduced in the year 2016, primarily characterized by Revenue Sharing Mechanism replacing the earlier New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) which had Production Sharing Mechanism. He said, “In the last two and a half years, Government has successfully bid out nearly 1.4 lakh sq. km for exploration and production. Seven  blocks awarded today under OALP IV to ONGC have resource potential of approx. 33 billion bbls of oil and oil equivalent gas.”
    • The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP), which has adopted the Revenue Sharing contract model, is a giant step towards improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the Indian Exploration and Production (E&P) sector. It comes with attractive and liberal terms like reduced royalty rates, no oil cess, marketing and pricing freedom, round the year bidding, freedom to investors for carving out blocks of their interest, a single license to cover both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources, exploration permission during the entire contract period, and an easy, transparent and swift bidding and awarding process.
    • This was the maiden bidding round under the further liberalized policy terms, which focused on production maximization with higher weightage to work programme as part of evaluation criteria in Category I basin and no revenue share commitment as part of bidding parameters for category II and III basins
    • With the successful roll out of the HELP/OALP regime, based on the world-class National Data Repository (NDR), the Government has achieved massive enhancement of exploration acreage in India. The exploration acreage which stood at approximately 80,000 sq. km. in 2019 from earlier regimes has now been enhanced to approx. 2,15,000 sq. km. after 4 rounds of OALP. The cumulative exploratory work commitment after the 4 rounds of OALP comprise 29,270 LKM of 2D Seismic Survey, 43,272 sq. km of 3D Seismic Survey, 369 Exploratory Wells and 290 Core Analysis to establish Shale Resources. This will generate an investment of approx. US$ 2.35 billion over next 3 to 4 years in exploratory work alone
    • The 5thcycle of submitting Expressions of Interest (EoIs) closed on 30th November 2019 and currently the 6th cycle of EoI is open till March 31, 2020.

    Details of Blocks awarded in OALP-IV

    CompanyBocks awardedCategoryDescription (Type/basin/state)Area of award (sq Km)
    ONGC Limited (All 7 blocks)RJ-ONHP-2019/1Category-IOnland/Rajasthan/Rajasthan2,118.83
    VN-ONHP-2019/1Category-IIOnland/Vindhyan/ MP2,730.73
    VN-ONHP-2019/2Category-IIOnland/Vindhyan/ MP3,077.65
    VN-ONHP-2019/3Category-IIOnland/Vindhyan/ MP3,097.17
    VN-ONHP-2019/4Category-IIOnland/Vindhyan/ MP2,932.74
    VN-ONHP-2019/5Category-IIOnland/Vindhyan/ MP1,421.66
    BP-ONHP

    -2019/1

    Category-IIIOnland/Bengal Purnea/West Bengal3,130.91
    Total18,509.698

     

     

    1. 353rd birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh

     

    • The birth anniversary of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji is being celebrated today. Born in 1666, Guru Gobind Singh is considered to be one of the most celebrated of all Sikh gurus.
    • President Ramnath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu have greeted fellow countrymen on the occasion. In a tweet, the President said,
    • Guru Gobind Singh ji devoted his life to serving the people and upholding the values of truth, justice and compassion. His life and teachings continue to inspire us.
    • Vice President said, throughout his life, Guruji stood up against injustice. His teachings transcend time and will remain relevant for all times.
    • In a tweet he said, may Guruji’s teachings inspire us to be a better human beings and guide humanity to serve the needy, poor and downtrodden.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended his greetings today on the occasion of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Prakash Parv. In a tweet, he said, we bow to the venerable Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji on his Prakash Parv.
    • In Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh the Prakash PARV of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji is being celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm. The devotees in large numbers have reached in Gurdwaras to pay obeisance.  In Gurdwaras, Nagar kirtans are going on and langars of tea and food are running continuously.
    • In Bihar, 353rd birth anniversary of Guru Govind Singh is being celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety. The main function is organised at Takhat Sri Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara, Patna Sahib, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh, where thousands of pilgrims across the globe are offering prayers. Special langars are also being organised.
    • The whole atmosphere at Takhat Sri Harimandir Sahib ji is reverberating with sabad Kirtan.Akhand Path is being undertaken here. Special Kirtan  has also been organised. Devotees of globe including London, Australia and Canada are offering special prayers at Harimandir Sahib. Pilgrims across the country are participating the birth anniversary of Guru Sahab.Governor Phagu Chouhan and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar participated prayers On this auspicious day, the Sikh community remembers Guru Gobind Singh’s contribution by offering prayers.
    • Born at Patna Sahib in 1666, Guru Govind Singh was the 10th Sikh guru. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh as leader of Sikhs at the age of just nine. On this auspicious day, the Sikh community remembers Guru Gobind Singh’s contribution by offering prayers.
    • The 10th Sikh Guru was a spiritual leader, philosopher, poet and master warrior. He is considered as the eternal guru by his followers because of his contribution to Sikhism. All Gurudwaras of the state are illuminated. Devotees visited Gurudwaras from early morning to offer prayers. On the eve of Gurupurab Religious processions were also organised at many places.

     

    1. Assam state zoo first to breed endangered Hargila

     

    • The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and Aaranyak has jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform within the zoo enclosure, in the first ever experiment of its kind.
    • This rarest of storks, the Hargila is currently on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss stemming from indiscriminate felling of big trees and dwindling wetlands.

     

    • Biologist Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, who leads the Greater Adjutant Conservation Project of Aaranyak informed, “In 2017, Aaranyak started collaborating with Assam State Zoo with a new idea of creating assisted breeding platforms for the captive Greater Adjutant Storks.

     

    • The birds nested since 2017 but had failed to hatch so far. Finally we found success on 26th November 2019 when the first chick hatched and it has been the first recorded pair of Greater Adjutant to breed in an artificial platform.

     

    • Barman informed how two bamboo platforms of ten feet were constructed within the enclosure. The platform made for the nest was one meter in breadth echoing the natural size of Hargila nests.

     

    • Nesting materials used by these birds in natural ecosystem were closely studied from available literature and direct observation which were collected inside the zoo. The nesting material was supplied on the onset of breeding season during August.

     

    • Once the birds started gathering nesting materials in September, fresh nesting materials were supplied every week initially and later on every alternate day. Food supply was increased by four times by weight consulting with experts on Ciconidae group. Since the birds were not in the wild, much care was needed for egg nesting material collection, foods supplies etc.

     

    • The commotion created by zoo visitors were also monitored and care was taken so that the birds did not suffer from disturbance, informed Zoo officials.

     

    • This is the first ever such experiment on breeding Greater Adjutant stork inside a Zoo and success of this project shows that captive breeding of this species is possible in the near future.

     

    • The Endangered Greater Adjutant stork (Leptoptilosdubius) is one of the rarest species of Storks out of twenty species of Storks in the world. In India, eight species of residential storks are found, out of which Greater Adjutant is one of them.

     

    • Once abundantly distributed in Southeast Asia, this stork is now restricted to a few isolated pockets in Assam and Bihar in India and PrekToal in Cambodia. This colonial birds breeds in traditional nesting colonies within thickly populated villages in Assam and breeds in tall trees species including Anthocephaluscadamba(Kadam), Artocarpusleukochuwa (Dewa), Pithecellobiummonadephum,  BombaxCeiba (Simul), Tamarindusindica (Teteli), Trewianudifera (Bhelkol), Gmelinaarborea (Gomari).

     

    • Habitat loss, poaching and poisoning are the major threats to the species. Cutting down of nesting trees by the tree owners and infrastructural construction has resulted into a breeding failure of the species and many historical breeding colonies have gone missing in its historical distribution range.

     

    1. Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurates new campus of NFSC in Nagpur

     

    • Union Home Minister Amit Shah today dedicated the new campus of National Fire Service College (NFSC) under Ministry of Home affairs in Nagpur.
    • Mr Shah said, NFSC campus spread across 42 acres is fully equipped with the international standards and this modernized campus will be a proud moment not just for the Nagpur but also for the whole nation. He informed that four-year Bachelor level course in Fire Engineering approved by the All India Council for Technical Education along with the short and long-term courses in Emergency Management, Medical Life Support Management and Disaster Management will be taught in this college.
    • Shah also appealed the states and Union territories to make use of expertise in the National Fire Service College in Nagpur and take the initiative in making the fire brigade service as an independent service in their states.
    • In the same function, the Minister also laid the foundation stone for the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Academy which will be established near Suradevi village of Nagpur. He said about 5,000 personnel will be trained in the field of disaster management by this academy each year.
    • While stressing the importance of Disaster management and fire services in achieving the industrial, infrastructural and Urban Development goals, he said, it is vital for stakeholders to look after the preparedness in the disaster management and fire services.
    • On this occasion, 15 President’s Fire Service medals for gallantry were also awarded by the Minister to the awardees including Fire Service Officers and Firemen from different parts of the country.
    • Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari and Minister of State for Home affairs Nityanand Rai were also present at this juncture.

     

    1. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat holds first meeting

     

    • Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat held a meeting with important functionaries of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (Hq IDS) on January 1, 2020.Wishing them all a Happy New Year, General Rawat directed various branch heads to come up with recommendations for inter-service synergy and jointness in a time bound manner.
    • The CDS also directed that a proposal to create Air Defence Command be prepared by June 30, 2020. He also set out priorities for execution of synergy by June30 and December, 31 2020. Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services have their presence.
    • Emphasising collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three services and Coast Guard must be consulted and their views obtained in a time bound manner. Decisions will, however, be taken to ensure optimisation of resources. Efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive.
    • The CDS stressed that all must work towards accomplishing desired results and comingup with healthy views and ideas.

     

    1. Indian Railway announces one integrated Helpline number “139” for any help, enquiry and grievances redressal during travel

     

    To overcome the inconvenience over multiple helpline numbers for grievances and enquiry during railway travel, Indian Railway has integrated railway helplines into single number 139 for the passengers for quick grievance redressal and enquiry during their journey. As the new helpline number 139 will take over all the existing helpline numbers (except 182), it will be easy for the passengers to remember this number and connect with Railways for all their needs during the travel.

    Following Railway grievances helplines are being discontinued:

    • 138 (for general complaints)
    • 1072 (for accidents and safety)
    • 9717630982 (for SMS complaints)
    • 58888 / 138 (for clean my coach)
    • 152210 (for vigilance)
    • 1800111321 (for catering services)

    The Helpline 139 will be available in twelve languages. It will be based on IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System). There is no need of a smart phone to call on 139, thus, providing easy access to all mobile users.

    Menu of 139 Helpline (IVRS) is as under:

    • For security & medical assistance, passenger has to press 1,which connects immediately to a call center executive
    • For enquiry, passenger has to press 2and in the sub menu, information regarding pnr status, arrival/departure of the train, accommodation, fare enquiry, ticket booking, system ticket cancellation, wake up alarm facility/destination alert, wheel chair booking, meal booking can be obtained.
    • For catering complaints, passenger has to press 3
    • For general complaints, passenger has to press 4
    • For vigilance related complaints, passenger has to press  5
    • For queries during accident, passenger has to press 6
    • For status of complaints, passenger has to press 9
    • For talking to call center executive, passenger has topress *

     

    1. Self Propelled Accident Relief Medical Vans to improve disaster response of Railways

     

    • Indian Railways is gradually replacing locomotive hauled Accident Relief Medical Vans (ARMVs) with Self Propelled Accident Relief Medical Vans (SPARMVs) to improve response during disaster. Specification of high speed Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains (HS-SPARTs) with speed of 160 kmph has been finalized and it is planned to be procured in addition to existing 110 kmph SPART. Further, to improve the capacity during restoration, 175 Tonnes cranes are under procurement which is an upgradation over existing 140 T cranes available with Indian Railways. The concept of golden hour has also been recognised to expedite response time during disaster.

     

    • The main areas of focus on disaster management are:-
    1. Faster Response
    2. Better facilities and equipment
    3. Expanding resources to meet requirements in major accidents
    4. Coordination with other agencies of central and state governments
    5. Training and Preparedness
    • Indian Railways has an organized system of relief for managing accidents with its own resources. It consists of more than 6 thousand trained breakdown staff, 176 Accident Relief Trains (ARTs) and 86 Accident Relief Medical Vans (ARMVs) made using passenger coaches. All Accident Relief Trains and Accident Relief Medical Vans have pre-defined beats, inspection schedules and response time. In addition, there are 90 Break down Cranes of various capacities over Indian Railway system.

     

    • All equipments in Accident Relief Trains and Accident Relief Medical Equipments have been standardized based on High Level Committee recommendations. Some of the items being imported for rescue, relief and restoration are as follows:
    1. Medical equipments like Augmented first aid box, body bags, foldable chairs, portable fire extinguishers, operation theatre equipments, etc.
    2. Hydraulic Re-railing equipments (HRE)
    3. Emergency Pneumatic air bags for lifting
    4. Generators & Electrical equipment
    5. Hydraulic rescue device (HRD)
    6. Wire rope sling & shackles
    7. Fire fighting equipments
    8. Abrasive cutting tools
    9. Signaling & communication equipments
    • Indian Railways also conducts periodic mock drills with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for training and ensuring preparedness during disaster.

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. Samoan government ends state of emergency over measles outbreak

     

    • On Sunday, the state of emergency begun on November 15 over a measlesoutbreak ended in Samoa. The island nation’s cabinet unanimously voted to lift it on Saturday afternoon, and the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) announced the decision that night. NEOC reported a 95% immunization rate on December 24, and the last measles-related death during the state of emergency on December 26.
    • Restrictions on public gathering and travel were to be lifted, and schools to reopen. The Health Emergency Operation Center were to take over the relief efforts centralized under the National Emergency Operation Centre. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were tasked to produce a recovery plan within two weeks for consideration by the cabinet.
    • As of Sunday, the Disease Surveillance Team reported a total of 5667 cases during the outbreak. Out these, 1846 persons were hospitalized and 1720 had already been discharged, while 81 had lost their lives. The December 6 National Measles Response and Recovery Appeal identified children under 5 years of age as having the highest mortality, corresponding with the relative shortfall of vaccination in the age group.
    • The state of emergency was expected to end on December 15, but on December 14 it was extended by two weeks to allow the immunization campaign to continue. At the time, the prime minister called for a 100% immunization rate, and stated 92% had been reached. As of Sunday, the rate had reached 95% according to NEOC data. Aid agencies say populations with sufficiently high vaccination rates have enough herd immunity to prevent any further infections from spreading out of control, meaning an infected person is not likely to come into contact with enough unvaccinated people to cause a chain reaction.
    • UNICEF reported they had delivered over 105 thousand doses of vaccine to Samoa by November 22. The national vaccination campaign started on November 20. A government order made vaccination mandatory and free of charge for children between six months and 19 years of age and for women between 20 and 35, considered childbearing age. On December 5 and 6, the government of Samoa executed a planned shutdown of public services and the private sector to leave room for a nationwide door-to-door immunization drive. The government said 128 vaccination teams participated.
    • To curb the spread of disease, the government prohibited inter-island travel for those under 19, schools were closed, and authorities recommended residents avoid public gatherings and medical facilities unless they were in need of medical attention. Unvaccinated pregnant women were prohibited from going to their workplaces.
    • The outbreak was first confirmed by the government on October 16, after the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne tested 7 out of 20 suspected cases positive for measles.
    • In 2019 in the Pacific region, outbreaks of measles were declared in parts of the Philippines first on February 6, Tonga on October 22, Fiji on November 7, and American Samoa on December 8. The D8 strain, which caused a New Zealand outbreak, has been identified in Samoa and Fiji. New Zealand serves as a travel hub for small Pacific nations. According to data from the World Health Organisation, in 2018 there were approximately 10 million cases of measles and 140 thousand related deaths worldwide.

     

    1. United Kingdom court extends remand of Nirav Modi

    • In United Kingdom, fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi was further remanded in custody at a hearing today and asked to appear on 30th of January in nearly two billion US Dollars Punjab National Bank fraud and money laundering case.
    • Modi appeared for his regular 28-day call-over appearance from London’s Wandsworth prison at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. His extradition trial is scheduled for 11th of May and is expected to last over five days.
    • Modi had moved yet another bail application last November but the bail plea was turned down by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.

     

    1. New South Wales declares week-long state of emergency

     

    • In Australian state of New South Wales, a week-long state of emergency has been declared in response to the escalating bushfire threat.
    • High temperatures and strong winds are forecast for the weekend, leading to widespread extreme fire danger in the eastern Australian state.
    • Since September, last year, bushfires have killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes across New South Wales and Victoria. At least 17 people remain missing after fires this week alone.
    • Thousands of people are already fleeing New South Wales with supplies running low in some cut-off towns. It’s been called the largest relocation out of the region ever.

    SPORTS NEWS

     

    1. Sri Lankan cricket team arrives in Guwahati for three-match T20 series
      1.  
    • In Cricket, a 16 member Sri Lankan squad led by veteran pacer Lasith Malinga has reached Guwahati this evening for a three-match T20 series.

     

    • The first match of series will be played at Guwahati on Sunday while other two matches are scheduled for Tuesday and Friday next week at Indore and Pune. The series is crucial for both teams before the T20 world cup later this year.

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