• Current Affairs , 6th JANUARY 2020

    • January 9, 2020
    • Posted By : upliftlife
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    1. 800 FPOs registered on Farmer Connect Portal of APEDA


    • The Agri Export Policy was announced last year with an objective of doubling the export and ensuring doubling of farmers’ income. In order to achieve this objective, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been adopting a focused approach for ensuring greater involvement of the State governments for effective implementation of Agri Export Policy (AEP).
    • Throughout the year APEDA held a series of meetings with the State Government officials and other stakeholders for the preparation of State Action Plan which included all essential components like production clusters, capacity building, infrastructure and logistics and R & D and budget requirements for the implementation of AEP. Several rounds of discussions were held with Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Food Processing Industries and other agencies under Line Ministries for seeking the inputs for formulating a strategy to increase exports and address the existing bottlenecks in the trade.
    • Many States have nominated Nodal agency and Nodal officer. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab and Karnataka have finalized the State Action Plan and other States are at different stages of finalization of the action plan.
    • State level Monitoring Committees have been formed in many of the States. Cluster visits have been made by APEDA Nodal officers to the product clusters at Jalandhar (Potato), Jodhpur (Isabgol), Banaskantha (Dairy products), Sangli (Grapes), Solapur (Pomegranate), Nagpur (Orange), Chittoor (Mango), Theni (Banana), Salem (Poultry products), Indore (Onion) and Chikkaballapur (Rose onion). The roadmap for cluster development in the clusters notified under AEP was prepared to address the identified interventions during the cluster visits. As a result of cluster visits by APEDA, the cluster level committee has been constituted in the States viz. Potato in Punjab, Isabgol in Rajasthan, Pomegranate, Orange and Grapes in Maharashtra and Banana in Tamil Nadu.
    • APEDA has organised a number of seminars and meetings for the implementation of Agri Export Policy throughout the year. A workshop on the role of state nodal agencies in agriculture exports was organised in New Delhi on 3rd September, 2019 where majority of the states actively participated for brainstorming on implementation of AEP in States.
    • An MoU was signed with National Cooperative Development Corporation to include Co-operatives for their active role in AEP. A Farmer Connect Portal has also been set up by APEDA on its website for providing a platform for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to interact with exporters. Over 800 FPOs have been registered on the portal.
    • Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) cum Workshops between exporters and FPOs were organized in association with the State Nodal agency at Ujjain (M.P)., Mehboobnagar, Mahbubabad, Sangareddy (Telangana), Kandhamal (Odisha), Chitradurga (Karnataka), Shillong (Meghalaya), Shimla (H.P), Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh), Kolkata (West Bengal), Agartala (Tripura), Nagpur, Sangli (Maharashtra) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand).
    • A Market Intelligence Cell was set up in APEDA and the activity of dissemination of e-market intelligence reports comprising detailed market analysis, international trade issues, current scenario of the interest to Indian exporters in important markets and statistical information has been started from 25th November 2019. All e-reports are available on APEDA website https://apeda.gov.in. Till now 27 reports have been disseminated for mango, basmati rice, non-basmati rice, groundnut, grapes, gherkins, dehydrated onion, pomegranate, banana, potato, buffalo meat, swine meat, fresh cut flowers, wine, egg, dairy products (SMP & cheese), biscuits, jaggery, millets, vegetable seeds, moringa, makhana, fruit juices, mango pulp, potato flakes and cereal preparations.
    1. First ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’


    • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar will confer the first ‘Antarrashtriya Yoga Diwas Media Samman’ to 30 media houses in New Delhi on Tuesday. Acknowledging the positive role and responsibility of the media in disseminating the outreach of Yoga in India and abroad, the Ministry had instituted the award in June last year to mark the contribution of media in spreading the message of Yoga.
    • Eleven awards will be conferred under the category of Best Media Coverage of Yoga in Newspapers, Eight under the category “Best Media Coverage of Yoga in Television while 11 awards to be conferred under the category “Best Media Coverage of Yoga in Radio. The award will consist of a special medal, plaque, trophy and a citation.
    • The contribution of Media in popularizing Yoga and the entries were assessed by a Jury comprising six members. It was headed by Justice C. K. Prasad, Chairman, Press Council of India.
    • The International Day of Yoga is being celebrated annually on 21 of June every year, since 2015. The idea of International Day of Yoga was first proposed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address at the United Nations General Assembly on 27 September 2014.


    1. Poshan Abhiyaan funds


    • According to an analysis of the data shared by Minister for Women and Child Development (MoWCD) Smriti Irani in the Parliament, merely 30%of the Poshan Abhiyan funds have been used in 3 years. Apart from Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the state govt has used the fund granted to them in the past 3 years. The data in detail are as follows.
    • Best performers:Among the states that utilised the poshan abhiyan funds well, Mizoram(65.12%) emerged as the best performer. It was followed by Lakshadweep (61.08%), Bihar (55.17%), Himachal Pradesh (53.29%) and Meghalaya (48.37%) in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively.
    • Worst performers:The top worst performers were Punjab (0.45%), Karnataka (0.74%), Kerala (8.75%), Jharkhand (13.94%) and Assam (23.01%).
    • As per the data, a total of ₹4,283 crore was disbursed by the Centre to different States and Union Territories(UTs). From this amount, ₹1,283.89 crore was utilised until October 31, 2019, which is just 97%of the funds granted


    1. Cong doing appeasement politics, creating confusion over CAA: Nirmala Sitharaman


    • Senior BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has accused the Congress of doing appeasement politics and creating confusion among people over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
    • Ms Sitharaman was addressing a press conference in Jaipur today. She said, the Opposition is creating confusion and misleading people over the issue of CAA. Ms Sitharaman said, Congress President Sonia Gandhi released a video statement but she did not condemn the violence. She accused Congress of standing with those who committed violence.
    • Ms Sitaraman said, it is not the first time a provision was made to give citizenship to refugees. She said, even before, previous governments have given citizenship to refugees when needed.
    • The Minister said, the illusion is being spread that citizenship will not be granted to Muslims. She said, in the last six years, over two thousand refugees from Pakistan got Indian citizenship and most of them were Muslims. In the same period, 900 people from Afghanistan and 200 from Bangladesh also got citizenship and most of them are Muslims. Ms Sitharaman said that there is no exclusion and even today, they can acquire citizenship under the Citizenship Act.
    • Earlier in the day, the Minister participated in a door-to-door awareness campaign on the Citizenship Amendment Act.


    1. 3-day Capacity Building Programme on GFR, E-procurement, GeM concludes




    • The deliberations of the three-day training programme on Capacity Building conducted by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in collaboration with National Institute for Financial Management (NIFM), National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG) and Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPARD)  concluded here today with Government e-Marketplace (GeM) remaining focus of speakers on day three.
    • Chairing the valedictory session, Advisor to Lt. Governor, J&K, Shri Farooq Khan called upon the officers to get maximum benefit out of today’s session on GeM so that the public exchequer could be used genuinely. He exhorted that if Govt. purchase is done properly and timely, it would serve the basic purpose of the welfare of the people. He also complemented DARPG, NIFM, NCGG and IMPARD for organising such event.
    • Speaking during the practical session on procurement through GeM, Joint Secretary, Govt. of India, Ministry of Commerce and Chief Finance Officer, GeM, Shri Rajeev Khandpal said that this Capacity Building Programme will give more exposure to the officials of J&K regarding General Financial Rules (GFR) and other financial matters while dealing with their day to day administrative and financial work.
    • Commenting on ‘GeM Samvaad’, an outreach programme launched by the Government of India, Shri Rajeev Khandpal said that ‘GeM Samvaad’ has been launched by the Govt. of India with an aim and objective to get an onspot feedback from all the States and UTs regarding GeM. He added that by this outreach programme, senior officials of GeM will visit all States and UTs to get feedback on how GeM portal can be made more user friendly. The Governments of different States and UTs can save upto 25% of public exchequer by procuring various departmental equipments throgh GeM, he added.
    • During the afternoon session, Business Facilitator, GeM, Shri Kush Tyagi delivered a presentation on ‘Introduction to Functionality of Buyer’ which highlighted the a pre-requisities for registration as primary and secondary user on GeM portal. The speaker gave an onspot demonstration on how to register as a buyer on GeM portal to the officials of J&K.
    • Earlier during the morning session, a detailed and an insightful presentation on GeM was delivered by Director, GeM, Shri Deepesh Gehlot highlighting the procedure of registration on GeM portal. He also explained the mechanism of procurement on GeM portal to the participating officials.
    • On January 3, the three day Capacity Building Programme was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State, PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh in presence of Chief Secretary, Union Territory of J&K, Shri BVR Subrahmanyam, Additional Secretary, DARPG, Shri V Srinivas and Finance Commissioner, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta.
    • During the three day programme, various technical sessions were held on wide ranging issues like GFR-2017 and Procurement of Goods, Manual for Procurement of Goods-2017, Outsourcing of non-consultancy services, Hiring of Consultancy Services, Manual for Works 2019, GeM: an introduction and registration process and procurement through GeM. The trainers had a threadbare discussion on the subjects they spoke about. They elaborated the contents of their topic with respect to the relevant sections of the GFR.
    • As a part of the conference, several interactive sessions were held in every module to provide participants an opportunity to attain better understanding of various topics covered in the programme.
    • Pertinently, the programme was held with an aim to promote good governance practices and evolve transparent public policy in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. Around 385 senior high level officers of J&K Government participated in the three-day Capacity Building Programme.
    1. Women Science Congress begins in Bengaluru


    • The Women Science Congress was inaugurated at the ongoing Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru today. DRDO Aeronautical Systems Director General Dr.Tessy Thomas who is known as Missile Woman of India graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Recalling the contribution of women in different spheres, she said, the status of women in the country is changing as their growing presence is seen in many areas of expertise.
    • Speaking about the contribution of Science and Technology, Dr. Thomas said, they are an essential tool for the rapid development and effective means to growth and socio-economic development of the country. She said that technology development has a profound and long term impact on the economic growth and security of the country.
    • Thomas said, the strides taken by India in the field of Science and Technology, through Mangalyan, Chandrayaan, anti-satellite mission, tactical and strategic mission in missile system, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Light Combat Aircraft, have established it in the elite club of nations.


    1. Governmentof India’s UJALA & Street Lighting National Programme Complete Five Successful yearso f Illuminating India

    • Launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on January 5th, 2015, the Government of India’s zero subsidy Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and LED Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), marked its fifth anniversary today.
    • SLNP is the world’s largest streetlight replacement programme and UJALA is the world’s largest domestic lighting project. Both have been spearheaded and implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
    • Under the SLNP programme, over 1.03 crore smart LED streetlights have been installed till date, enabling an estimated energy savings of 6.97 billion kWh per year with an avoided peak demand of 1,161 MW and an estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction of 4.80 million tCO2 annually. LED streetlights have been installed in various states across the country, helping generate approximately 13,000 jobs to support GoI’s Make in India initiative.
    • Through the UJALA initiative, over 36.13 crore LED bulbs have been distributed across India. This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 46.92 billion kWh per year, avoided peak demand of 9,394 MW, and an estimated GHG emission reduction of 38 million t CO2 annually.
    • With the concerted efforts towards building a robust ecosystem for LED in India, these programmes have bagged global awards like the prestigious South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPIA) 2017 and for the innovative use of IT and the business results achieved in Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), it won 2019 CIO 100 award. The highly successful UJALA and SLNP have also bagged the Global Solid State Lighting (SSL) award of excellence for the transformational contribution to the LED sector.
    • UJALA project brought the market transformation in energy efficiency sector. Prices of LED bulbs being distributed under UJALA programme have fallen to one-tenth of their rates in 2015 from INR. 310 to INR 38 in 2018. The switch from inefficient incandescent bulbs to LEDs is helping families reduce their electricity bills while also enabling them to access better brightness in homes. The money saved adds to a household’s disposable income and lifetime savings, thus improving their quality of life, generating prosperity in local communities, and in expanding energy access to all. With the average household electricity bills down by 15 per cent, the annual energy saving is equivalent to a week’s average earning. The sale of LED bulbs in the Indian market increased from 0.1 per cent of the lighting market in 2014 to 15 per cent within a year, with a projected increase to 60 per cent by 2020. The domestic LED market has also grown significantly beyond the UJALA programme, with the industry selling over 1.15 billion LEDs, far exceeding the UJALA programme’s target of 700 million LED unit sales.
    • Apart from this, the Government of India initiated the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA) in 2018, which was aimed at promotion of social harmony by apprising rural communities of various government welfare schemes and initiatives. As a part of GSA, 21,058 Indian villages with a significantly large number of poor households were able to buy LED bulbs for a special price under UJALA programme. The LED bulbs equipped homes with energy-efficient, cost-effective lighting, and higher lumen output than conventional incandescent bulbs.
    • Simultaneously, LED Street Lighting National Programme has enabled citizens to increase productivity at night and made roads safer for pedestrians and motorists due to enhanced brightness and reduced dark spots. The power utilities of states where the installation of LEDs has been implemented save up to 50 per cent in electricity bills, while ensuring 95 percent of streetlight uptime. As these lights are automated, they switch on and off at sunrise and sunset thereby reducing wastage. Utilities can also remotely track and rectify any faults with support of CCMS. In the last five years, the LED streetlights installed have illuminated 3,00,000 km of roads in India, enabling public safety and energy efficient lighting.
    • Functioning of Gram Panchayats (GP) has a direct impact on the everyday life of millions of rural people. Hence, the role of GP is critical for overall inclusive development and for deepening democracy through participatory governance. The estimated number of streetlights in GPs of India is 3.08 crores, by retrofitting these 3.08 crores conventional streetlights to LED streetlights can enable energy savings of approx. 3420 Million kWh & CO2 emission reduction of approx. 29 lakh tons. Till date, under Street Lighting National Programme, approx. 23 lakhs LED streetlights have already been retrofitted in the Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Goa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
    • By March 2020, SLNP aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional streetlights in India with smart LEDs. This ambitious goal will make a tremendous difference, enabling peak demand reduction of about 1500 MW, annual energy savings of 9 billion kWh, and reduction in 6.2 Million tons of CO2 per year.  EESL has an ambitious plan in this portfolio for next 4-5 years where it intends to bring investment to the tune of INR 8,000 crores by 2024 by covering entire rural India. It is expected that more than 30 million LED streetlights would be retrofitted/installed by EESL.
    1. 28th edition of New Delhi World Book Fair 2020

    • Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nisank’ inaugurated the 28thedition of New Delhi World Book Fair 2020 (NDWBF) at PragatiMaidan in New Delhi today.  Eminent Gandhian scholar, Prof. GirishwarMisra; Chairman, National Book Trust, Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma; Joint Secretary, MHRD, Shri Madan Mohan, , Shri Rajesh Aggarwal, Executive Director, ITPO and other officials were present on the occasion.
    • Speaking on the occasion Shri Pokhriyal said that we are in the midst of ocean of books and this Mahakumbhof books is filled with thoughts, the thoughts which give power to humanity. He said that this book fair is a place where people meet each other, and generate and share new thoughts and ideas. He added that the books help youth of India to come across new thoughts.
    • Speaking on the theme of the Fair this year, which is GANDHI: WRITERS’ WRITER, the  HRD minister said that we are celebrating 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi, in times when we need him the most. The world today is facing several challenges including terrorism. He added that the world, the nation, the society and all individuals, need Gandhi because of his vision and his philosophy of peace and non-violence. The Minister also urged publishers to promote books and the habit of reading as people are moving away from books, and a book fair like the NDWBF ensures that books and reading is preserved and increases.
    • The Minister appreciated the fact that the New Delhi World Book Fair is arguably Asia’s biggest book fair and he was hopeful that this fair would soon become the world’s biggest book fair.
    • GirishwarMisra, eminent Gandhian scholar, and the Guest of Honour on the occasion spoke in detail about the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He said that Mahatma Gandhi was the Man of Century. He showed the path of truth, peace and non-violence because of his wide reading of books including Gita, Quran and Bible.
    • While welcoming the guests, Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma, Chairman, NBT informed the audience about this edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair, and said that through this world of books, one can gain more and more knowledge in different fields and show us new direction.
    • More Details about attractions of the Fair:
    • Theme Pavilion:This year, the theme of the New Delhi World Book Fair 2020 is ‘Gandhi: TheWriters’ Writer’ to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.Mahatma Gandhi was a prolific writer, editor, publisher, Printer and Institution Builder. He wrote extensively in Gujarati, Hindi and English languages. His writings not only reflected his philosophy of non-violence and peace but also gave an insight into the socio-economic and political scenario of the country. The theme is an attempt to give booklovers a glimpse of how Mahatma Gandhi, a great strategic communicator, inspired and influenced generations of writers and how the writers understood and emulated Gandhiji in words. In the specially designed pavilion (inspired by Sabarmati Ashram), with hand-spun materials as wall cladding; there will be an exclusive exhibition of 500 books of 100 publishers on and by Gandhi in different Indian languages, as well as 30 panel discussions, book launches and performances related to the theme. The archival materials on display at the Theme pavilion are from Navjivan Trust, Ahmedabad and National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi.
    • Authors’ Corners / Seminar Hall
    • Some of the well-known writers both popular and critically acclaimed like AnirbanGanguly, BhawanaSommaya, Kevin Missal, Madhulika Dutta, Manoshi Sinha Rawal, Sudha Murthy, SumitDuttMajumdar, among others will engage in lively banters with the visitors at Authors’ Corners. There will be three special Corners which include International Events Corner (Hall No. 7A), Reflections (Hall No. 8) and LekhakManch (Hall No. 12).
    • During the Fair, various literary events, discussions, conversation with authors & scholars, book release functions, children’s activities, film screenings on the theme of the fair, cultural programmes, etc. will be organized. Some of the well-known speakers who will participate in these programmes include, Dr Rakesh Pande, Dr Varsha Das, Shri Aflatoon, Shri AvinashDudhe, Shri Firoz Khan, Ms Fouzia Khan, Shri Suresh Sharma, Shri Rajeev Shrivastava, Shri Rajeev Raj, Ms ShashiprabhaTewari, Prof.AkhtarulWasey, Prof.RizwanKaisar, Dr M William Bhaskaran, Dr T Ravichandran, Dr Sachidanand Joshi, former Justice Narendra Chapalgaonkar, Ms Deena Patel, Shri Annamalai, Dr Sumer Singh Siddhu, Dr Khushwant Singh Bargadi, among others.
    • Braille Books:National Book Trust, India in collaboration with the All India Confederation of Blind (AICB) has jointly published a set of books in Braille for visually impaired readers. So far, over 250 books in Hindi, English and other Indian languages have been published. To take the project further, the NBT and AICB have signed an MOU, under which more titles shall be published in Braille in different Indian languages as part of NBT’s annual publishing programme. A catalogue of these books in Braille as well bilingual catalogue in English and Hindi have also been brought out by NBT. A special exhibit of these books will also be put up.
    • Children’s Pavilion:At the Children’s Pavilion (Hangar near Hall No. 7H), a number of activities like seminars, panel discussions, storytelling sessions, workshops on creative writing and illustrations among others will be organized to promote books and reading amongst children and young adults. The pavilion has been decorated with specially designed panels on tactile and silent books. A special career counselling session for persons with special needs will also be organized. A number of schools and NGOs will also participate in these activities.
    • Foreign Countries:Over 15 countries including Abu Dhabi, China, Denmark, Egypt, France,Germany, Iran, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sharjah, Spain, Sri Lanka, UK, USA, are participating in the Foreign Pavilion at the Fair. They are housed at the Foreign Pavilion, Hall No. 7ABC.
    • B2B Activities:New Delhi World Book Fair, also provides a platform for B2B activities for publishers from India and abroad. These B2B sessions include CEO Speak, a Publishers Forum to be organized in association with FICCI on 5 January 2020; the New Delhi Rights Table, a 2-day event to be held on 6 & 7 January 2020. Over 40 publishers from India and abroad will participate in the New Delhi Rights Table. In addition, a National Conclave on Readership and Book Promotion will be organised on 8th January 2020, and a Business Meet with Trade Partners on 9 January 2020.
    • Special Photo Exhibitions
    • India as Guest of Honour:NBT has been playing a significant role in promoting Indian books and authors abroad. NBT regularly participates in major international book fairs like Sharjah International Book Fair, London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, etc. Recently, India was the Guest of Honour country at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair held in April 2019, and at Guadalajara International Book Fair, Mexico in November 2019. India will also be Guest of Honour country at forthcoming Paris Book Fair in March 2020. NBT being the nodal agency, coordinates the Guest of Honour Country Presentations at International Book Fairs. A special photo exhibition on the GoH Presentations – 2019-2020 will be put up at Hall 7A. In addition, the NBT titles translated and published in Arabic and Spanish as part of the Guest Country Presentations, will also be put on display.
    • Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat: A special photo exhibition on NBT’s contribution in promoting books in schools and libraries under Govt. of India’s programme for the school education will also be put up outside Hall No.7.
    • Publishers: This year, more than 600 publishers from India and Abroad are participating at the book fair. The Indian publishers exhibiting books in different languages include Bangla, English,Gujarati, Hindi, Maithili, Malayalam, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu across more than 1300 stalls at the Fair.


    1. Integrated helpline number 139 for passengers


    • The Indian Railways launched an integrated helpline number 139 for quick grievance and enquiries by the passengers during journeys.
    • It is an integrated form of existing helpline numbers (except 182) particularly to avoid the inconvenience over multiple helpline numbers and will be easy to connect with Railways for all their needs during travel.
    • The helpline number will be available in 12 languages and it will be based on an interactive voice response system and it can also be used for general complaints, accidents and safety issues.
    • Indian Railways has also decided to run 16 winter special trains to different destinations under ECoR jurisdiction from January 1 to April 1 during the winter season. The decision was taken after reviewing the long waiting lists in regular trains.


    1. Nitin Gadkari hits out at MVA govt in Maharashtra


    • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has criticized the Uddhav Thackeray led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government of Maharashtra, saying the alliance between the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP was just for the sake of power.
    • Mr Gadkari said, there is no coordination between these unnatural alliance partners. He hits out at the Sena for breaking away its decades-old alliance with BJP for the sake of Chief Ministerial post and compromising with its ideologies. Mr Gadkari also reiterated that the present State government will not survive under its own burden.
    • The Minister recalled Shiv Sena Chief Late Bala Saheb Thackeray’s stand to expel Bangladeshi nationals from Mumbai. He alleged, that now Shiv Sena is not ready to implement the CAA.


    1. Future of the country depends on Science and Technology

    • Bharat Ratna, Professor C.N.R. Rao has said that the future of the country depended on science and technology and the future of science lay on the children who with their hard work and sincerity can work wonders in science. He was addressing the inaugural session of the Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan (Children’s Science Congress), a part of the ongoing 107th Indian Science Congress being held at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru today. Eminent Scientists from India and abroad called on the numerous children gathered at the event to be determined, believe in themselves and be prepared for unexpected results in their pursuit of science.
    • Professor, Ada Yonath from Israel, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 advised the young children that in science everything would not go the way they want and that they should be prepared for the unexpected. “Even if things do not go your way, believe in yourselves and do not look for advice from others” she added.
    • She recalled that as a child she wanted to pursue science as a hobby and had set up her experiment to measure the height of the ceiling of her balcony.
    • She referred to the inspiration which she received from Professor G.N. Ramachandran, FRS who was known for the formulation of the Ramachandran plot for understanding peptide structure and for proposing the triple-helical model for the structure of collagen. “I had thought that I had lost the first experiment as a scientist, but that experiment was later presented by my guide at a conference in India and appreciated by Professor Ramachandran.
    • He stressed that science does not require degrees but dedication, doggedness and tenacity and mentioned that many of the great scientists like Michael Faraday, had made phenomenal contributions without degrees.
    • He also mentioned the timeless work of great Indian scientists like Sir C.V. Raman, Srinivasa Ramanujan and Professor J.C. Bose who went out of their way and carried out scientific research despite constraints of time, finance and facilities.
    • The Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan (Children’s Science Congress) prominent event of the Indian Science Congress, was inaugurated by the Nobel Laureate Prof. Ada Yonath, Bharat Ratna Prof C.N.R. Rao in the presence of Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Head, NCSTS, Department of Science and Technology (DST) and other dignitaries.
    • Children Science Congress is financially supported by NCSTC, DST. The main objective is to provide a unique opportunity to children of the age group of 10-17 years to use their scientific temperament and knowledge and to quench their thirst for creativity by conducting scientific experiments to solve problems identified by them. The students also get an opportunity to interact with scientists and subject experts.
    • Every year about 7-8 lakhs school children in the age group of 10-17 years participate at various levels from the districts, states & union territories. Around 2 to 3 best projects from each state are exhibited in the Indian Science Congress. Several projects made by students are being showcased in the University of Agricultural Science campus and students had the opportunity to listen and interact with the Young Scientists and Nobel Laureates.
    • During the event, Infosys ISCA Travel Award 2020 was also given to top 10 students for their best write ups for innovations in the field of Science & Technology.






    1. EU invites Iranian Foreign Minister to Brussels for de-escalation of tensions


    • The European Union has invited Iran’s Foreign Minister to Brussels, urging for de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf after US airstrikes that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.
    • The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell made the offer to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a telephone call this weekend.
    • Mr Borrell said, a regional political solution was the only way forward while stressing the importance of preserving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He confirmed his resolve to continue to fully play his role as coordinator and keep the unity of the remaining participants in support of the agreement and its full implementation by all parties.
    • There has been an increase in tensions between the US and Iran since 2018 when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark accord that gave Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.


    1. Dhaka Court issues arrest warrant against former Chief Justice S.K.Sinha


    • A Dhaka court today issued an arrest warrant against the former Chief Justice of Bangladesh S.K.Sinha and ten others in a case of graft and money laundering. The Senior Special Judges’ Court of Dhaka directed the police on Sunday to submit the report on the execution of the warrants by January 22. All the accused in the case including former Chief Justice S.K. Sinha have been shown as fugitives in the charge sheet filed by the police.
    • The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh had pressed the charges in December last year against 11 persons. They are accused of taking a loan of Tk 4 crore from a bank based on forged papers and depositing money in the account of Justice S.K. Sinha.
    • Justice Sinha was appointed as Chief Justice of Bangladesh in 2015. He had resigned amid controversy about a judgement of the Supreme Court which struck down the law giving power to parliament to remove justices of the Supreme Court.
    • Three months before his retirement, he had left for Australia in October 2017 and subsequently sent in his resignation from abroad.
    • In his autobiography Justice S.K. Sinha claimed that he stepped down as Chief Justice due to intimidation and threats. The allegations have been denied by the government.
    • He is currently in the US. Earlier he had sought political asylum in Canada. Justice S.K. Sinha was the first minority Chief Justice of Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu community.


    1. US will hit the Islamic Republic harder if Tehran retaliates, warns Trump


    • US President Donald Trump today warned Iran that the US will hit the Islamic Republic harder than ever before if Tehran retaliates to the killing of top military Commander Qasem Soleimani in an American air strike in Baghdad. Mr Trump said this in a past midnight tweet amid remarks of retaliation coming from Tehran.
    • Earlier, he had warned yesterday that the US will target 52 sites in Iran some of which are at a very high level and important to Iran if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.
    • Soleimani’s killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Iran and the US. Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr Khamenei has vowed revenge against the killing of his General.






    1. Khelo India Youth Games-2020 to advocate for elimination of single-use plastics

    • The third edition of Khelo India Youth Games-2020, to be held in Guwahati from 10th of January, will be advocating for the elimination of single-use plastics this time. Talking to All India Radio, Chief Executive Officer of the Games, Avinash Joshi and Joint Chief Executive Officer Dr. A Angamuthu said that emphasis will be given to the responsible use of plastic material and proper collection and disposal of plastic waste.
    • The Games will continue till 22nd of this month. The event will be held in 20 disciplines at 11 venues.
    • Assam’s rich culture, heritage, art as well as India’s diversity, ethnicity will be displayed in the inaugural ceremony on 10th of January at Sarusajai stadium. Sports initiatives launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be displayed. Bollywood singer Shanker Mahadevan to enthral around 30 thousand audiences that are expected to see the opening ceremony.  The entire event including the opening and closing ceremonies are entry free.
    • Needful steps are being taken by the organizer so that elderly people and Divyangs can enjoy the games. During the closing ceremony, a Chinese team will perform its martial arts along with other programmes.


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