• Current Affairs,12th February 2020

    • February 13, 2020
    • Posted By : upliftlife
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    1. Nirbhaya case: SC issues notices to death row convicts on Centre’s appeal against HC verdict


    • The Supreme Court today sought response from the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case on Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court verdict which dismissed its plea against stay on their execution. It also granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts.
    • A 3-judge bench comprising Justice R Banumathi, Justice Ashok Bhushan and  Justice A S Bopanna has said the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and the Delhi government before it would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing fresh date for execution of the convicts.
    • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Delhi government, said, the court has to keep in mind the impact of this situation on the society as, despite the appeals of the convict being dismissed by the top court in 2017, the authorities are struggling to execute them even now.
    • The court had initially said that issuing notice to the convicts would further delay the matter but later did so on the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government.



    • The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.



    1. Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2020


    • Fifth edition of Joint Military Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2020 between India and United Kingdom will be conducted at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom from 13 to 26 February 2020. The exercise will comprise of 120 soldiers each from Indian and United Kingdom Army who would be sharing their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorist operations in the past.
    • The aim of this exercise is to conduct company level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorists operation in Urban and Semi Urban areas. Training on modern weapon systems, equipment and simulator training have also been planned. Notably, in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR with United Kingdom is an important exercise in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the realm of changing facets of global terrorism. The exercise is conducted alternatively in United Kingdom and India.
    • The joint military exercise displays a bilateral willingness to work jointly and share operating procedures to deal with a situation in a specified operational setting. Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR will promote defence cooperation and enhance interoperability while sharing experiences between both the armies.


    1. Government is compiling a National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    • Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Culture is the nodal agency for the Scheme for ‘Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India’.
    • As of now, SNA is collaborating with Zonal Cultural Centers of Ministry, collating and preparing a list of ICH elements for National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
    • List of ICH elements is being compiled and at least 100 elements will be documented by March, 2020 and the aim is to document at least 20 new elements in ICH list every year.
    • Along with this establishment of an ‘Indian Institute for Culture’ is at conceptual stage and a mission called National Culture Mapping portal is being conceptualized for aggregating art forms and artists. It is in pilot phase.




    1. State Visit of the President and the First Lady of the United States of America


    • At the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, His Excellency Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, will pay a State Visit to India on 24-25 February 2020. This will be the President’s first visit to India.
    • During the visit, President Trump and the First Lady will attend official engagements in New Delhi and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and interact with a wide cross-section of Indian society.
    • The global strategic partnership between India and the U.S. is based on trust, shared values, mutual respect and understanding, and marked by warmth and friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
    • The relationship has further evolved under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump, with significant progress in all areas including trade, defence, counter-terrorism, energy, coordination on regional and global issues as well as people-to-people ties.
    • The visit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review progress in bilateral ties and further strengthen our strategic partnership.


    1. Drip Irrigation: Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC)


    • Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC) is operational in the country from 2015-16. The PMKSY- PDMC focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation.
    • The Government provides financial assistance @ 55% for small and marginal farmers and @ 45% for other farmers for installation of Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation systems. In addition, some States provide additional incentives/top up subsidy for encouraging farmers to adopt Micro Irrigation.
    • Wide publicity through press & print media, publication of leaflets/booklets, organization of workshops, exhibitions, farmer fairs, information on State/Government of India web portals etc. is being done.  Demonstrations have been setup  in 160 KrishiVigyanKendras (KVKs) for educating the farmers.
    • 15 lakh ha (Drip 22.81 lakh ha & Sprinkler 19.34 lakh ha) has been covered under PMKSY-PDMC since 2015-16 till date.


    1. Steps to Increase Farmers Income



    • Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) uses crop-wise, state-wise cost estimates provided by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics (DES), DAC&FW compiled under ‘Comprehensive Scheme (CS) for Studying the Cost of Cultivation (CoC) of Principal Crops in India’. Since CS data is generally available with a time lag of two to three years given the imperative of recommending pricing policy for ensuing season, cost estimates need to be projected for the crop season under consideration.  Based on CS data, the Commission projects crop-wise, State-wise CoC of mandated crops for the subsequent season.  Composite Input Price Indices (CIPIs) based on latest prices of major inputs like human labour, bullock labour, machine labour, fertilizers, manures, seeds, pesticides and irrigation is constructed, costs of interest on working capital, miscellaneous charges, rental value of owned land, rent paid for leased-in land, land revenue, taxes & cesses, depreciation on implements & farm buildings and interest on fixed capital are also included in the cost.
    • Based on the latest data available from different sources like Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment, State Governments and Office of Economic Adviser, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and CIPIs thus constructed, the Commission projects crop-wise, State-wise cost of production (CoP) A2, A2+FL and C2, from these projected CoCs using projected yield. Subsequently, all-India estimates of CoP A2, A2+FL, C2 are derived based on crop-wise, State-wise projected CoPs and their production shares.  These projected all-India estimates of CoP are considered by the Commission while formulating national level price policy recommendations & MSP.
    • The procurement policy of Government of India (GOI) is open ended, under which paddy and wheat offered by farmers all over the country within the stipulated period (conforming to specifications prescribed in advance by GOI) are purchased for Central Pool at Minimum Support Price (MSP) by Food Corporation of India (FCI)/State Governments/State Government Agencies to help farmers get remunerative price and prevent distress cell.  However, if any producer/farmer gets better price in comparison to MSP, he/she is free to sell his/her produce in open market. Coarse grains are procured at MSP by State Government as per the procurement plan prepared in consultation with FCI and approved by the Central Government.
    • A Price Support Scheme (PSS) for procurement of oilseeds, pulses and cotton is implemented by DAC&FW through Central Nodal Agencies at the Minimum SupportPrice (MSP) declared by the Government subject to certain conditions being met by the State Governments. Losses, if any, are reimbursed by the Government of India to the Central Nodal Agencies. Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) is implemented to protect the growers of crops not covered under MSP scheme from making distress sale.


    1. Reduction of cost of compliance for companies

    • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) administers Companies Act/ Limited Liability Partnership Act. The MCA has been taking steps on an ongoing basis by amending the Act and the rules and forms thereunder, from time to time in the years 2015, 2017 & 2019, to reduce the cost of compliance and for ease of doing business. This was stated by Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.

    Giving more details, Shri Thakur stated that the MCA has increased the requirement of paid up capital from rupees 5 crore to rupees 10 crore for appointment of Whole Time Company Secretary vide Companies (Appointment and Remuneration of Managerial Personnel) Amendment Rules, 2020, and the registration fee for incorporation of Companies with authorized capital of up to Rs. 15 lakh has been reduced to Zero by the Companies (Incorporation) Second Amendment Rules, 2019.

    Listing the steps taken so far, Shri Thakur stated that MCA has reduced cost of compliance for small companies which is defined under section 2(85) of the companies Act, 2013 and also for private companies (Start Up) from complying with various provision of Companies Act which are as under:

    • A private company which is a startup /small companies are not required to include cash flow statement with financial statements which otherwise is a mandatory.
    • A private company which is a startup /small companies, Annual return shall be signed by the company secretary or where there is no company secretary, by the director of the company.
    • A private company which is a startup /small companies, One board meeting in each half of a calendar year with gap between two meetings of not less than 90 days is sufficient to comply with the requirement of section 173(5) of the Companies Act as against the earlier requirement meeting at least once in 120 days and hold a minimum of 04 board meetings in a year.
    • Small companies  are exempted from producing certification form practicing professionals, under various provisions of the Act, 2013 r.w rule 12 (a) of the Companies (Registration Offices and Fees) Rules, 2014,
    • Small companies can approach Regional Director for corporate mergers, arrangements etc. instead of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT),
    • Lesser penalties are applicable for small companies, one person companies for certain contravention under section 446 B of the Companies Act, 2013 and

    Small companies are given certain concessions/rebates on fee payable on applications (including appeal) made to Central Government under Section 459 (2) of the Companies Act, 2013.


    1. Agricultural Growth Rate


    • Fertilizers are essential to improve Soil Health and to sustain higher agricultural productivity in the country.    The Government of India (GoI) has been promoting soil test based Integrated Nutrient Management for balanced and judicious use of fertilizers. Soil Health Card Scheme has been implemented since 2015-16. Soil Health Card provides crop-wise recommendation on appropriate dosage of fertilizers to be applied.
    • Pesticides play an important role in sustaining agricultural production by protecting crops from pests.  GoI has been implementing ‘Sub-Mission on Plant-protection and Plant Quarantine’ Scheme, under which Integrated Pest Management is promoted to educate the farmers about judicious use of chemical pesticides. Bio-pesticides and bio-control measures are also being promoted.
    • The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Growth rate recorded during last 5 years are as under:-
    • Year                       Percentage change over previous year
    • 2014-15                              -0.2
    • 2015-16                               0.6
    • 2016-17                               6.8
    • (Third Revised Estimate)
    • 2017-18                                5.9
    • (Second revised Estimate)
    • 2018-19                                2.4
    • (First revised Estimate)
    • Gross Value Added (GVA) of Agricultural and allied sectors’ share in total GVA of the country has increased from 16.1% in 2018-19 to 16.5% in 2019-20.


    1. Web Portal Launched for Star Rating of Mines in India

    • In order to promote green, safe and sustainable mining practices using technology as a tool, Ministry of Coal (MoC) has launched a web portal for star rating of coal mines. Union Minister for Coal & Mines Shri Pralhad Joshi launched this portal in New Delhi today which enables all operational coal mines across India for self-rating, their subsequent validation by Coal Controller’s Organization (CCO), further evaluation and finally award of star rating.
    • Based on the star ratings obtained through a well-defined mechanism on this web portal, the highest scoring mines in the country will be awarded in a public ceremony. Besides, all the mines will be given an official certificate by the CCO mentioning their star rating and the particular reporting year. The mines that score from 91 to 100% will get 5 star, 81 to 90% 4 star, 71 to 80% 3 star, 61 to 70% 2 star, 41 to 60% 1 star and mines that score from 0 to 40% will get No star on the portal as per laid down procedures of the Star Rating Policy for Coal Mines in India.
    • The portal will provide a login to each coal mine for self-evaluation along with necessary documents for testimonials. The field offices of CCO will be provided a separate login to the web portal through which they can access the submissions of self-evaluation. A validation committee constituted through CCO will put the final remarks based on the laid down policy and finally the star rating will be recorded on the portal.
    • Notably, Ministry of Coal last year had formulated a Star Rating Policy for Coal Mines in India. This policy envisages 50 evaluation parameters in Opencast Mines and 47 in Underground Mines as star rating criteria under seven broad modules namely – Mining Operations Related Parameters, Environment related parameters, Adoption of Technologies: Best Mining Practices, Economic performance, Rehabilitation & Resettlement related parameters, Worker related Compliance and Safety and security related parameters. Coal Secretary Shri Anil kumar jain, Additional Secretary Shri Vinod kumar Tiwari and other Senior officialswere also presented at the event.


    1. Govt to invest over Rs one lakh cr for infrastructure development in next 5 years: FM

    • Finance Minister Nirmal Sitharaman today said foreign investors continue to show confidence in India.
    • Replying to discussions on Union Budget 2020-21 in the Lok Sabha, Mrs Sitharaman said banks are now better equipped to fund growth investment.
    • Asserting that government  will invest over one lakh crore rupees in infrastructure development by 2024-25, Finance Minister said county’s economy is moving forward.
    • Expressing happiness that RBI came up with creative solutions to boost growth, the Minister said that there is steady growth in GST revenue collections.
    • She said for the betterment of youth many steps have been taken by the government. Ms Sitharaman’s reply is underway in the Lok Sabha.





    1. President Trump’s upcoming visit will give boost to India-US strategic partnership: MEA

    • US President Donald Trump will arrive on a state visit to India on 24th of this month. This will be the President’s first visit to India. He will be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump.
    • In an official release, Ministry of External Affairs said that during the two-day visit, President Trump and the First Lady will attend official engagements in New Delhi and Gujarat. They will interact with a wide section of Indian society. The ministry has said, President Trump’s upcoming visit will give a boost to India-US strategic partnership.
    • the global strategic partnership between India and the US is based on trust, shared values, mutual respect and understanding, and marked by warmth and friendship between the peoples of the two countries. The relationship has further evolved under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump, with significant progress in all areas including trade, defence, counter-terrorism, and energy. The visit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review progress in bilateral ties and further strengthen our strategic partnership.


    1. Storm Ciara

    • At least seven people have died across Europe as storm Ciara moved east today after first sweeping across Ireland and the UK.
    • Transport shut down and schools were forced to close across Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Dutch authorities reported traffic jams of more than 720km across the country yesterday. There is still some flight disruption today after airlines canceled hundreds of journeys.
    • France’s Mediterranean island of Corsica recorded winds of more than 220km/hour last night, as heavy rains, powerful winds and flooding spread across the continent. Authorities said the winds fuelled a fire in the north of the island.
    • Corsican ports and flights remained disrupted today. Wind speeds of up to 200 km per hour were also recorded in northern Italy, Poland  and Sweden.


    1. Advance team of WHO arrive in China to probe Novel Corona virus

    • An advance team of World Health Organization (WHO) medical experts has arrived in China to help investigate the Novel Corona virus outbreak. Confirming this, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the advance team, led by Dr. Bruce Aylward, will be part of WHO-China joint investigation team. The larger international team could range between 10 and 15 members and will join with the WHO advance team as soon as possible.
    • Corona virus Outbreak death toll has reached 1,018 globally with over 43,000 confirmed cases as of Monday. China reported 108 new deaths and 2,478 new cases yesterday. Hubei province in China has reported 103 new deaths and 2,097 new Corona virus cases. A total of 974 people have died from the virus in Hubei.
    • China’s National Health Commission yesterday said, the cure rate for the Novel Corona virus has increased significantly across China to 8.2 per cent, rising from the 1.3 per cent figure announced on 27th of January while in central China’s Hubei Province, the epicenter of the epidemic, it has risen to 6.1 per cent on Monday, compared with the 1.7 per cent on 27th of January.
    • China has found five new drugs to be effective in inhibiting the Novel Corona virus while three potential antiviral drugs including US made Remdisivir are in clincal trial stage in Wuhan. As countries are rushing to build diagnostic Capacity, Doctors in Wuhan are now using three-pronged approach in detecting Novel Corona virus. They have added two more parameters and are no longer solely dependent on nucleic acid test results.
    • China’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that two foreigners have died among 27 who have been diagnosed with the Novel Corona virus infection as of 10th of February. Three of the foreigners have been discharged from hospital, he added.


    1. Turkey says has ‘neutralised’ 101 Syrian troops



    • Turkey has said that it had neutralized 101 Syrian regime soldiers following a bombardment that killed five Turkish soldiers in Syria’s Idlib region yesterday. Idlib, which is in northwestern Syria, is the last major rebel bastion. The Turkish Defence Ministry claimed that its troops were pushing on with bombardments on Syrian positions in the area on Monday evening.
    • Under a deal with Russia, Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib as a way to avert an offensive by Syrian Government forces trying to retake it from rebels. However, Syrian troops have been advancing despite Ankara’s warnings.
    • A statement from Turkish Defence Ministry said that besides 101 regime troops, three tanks and two cannons were also destroyed and a helicopter was hit. The exchange was the second in eight days and took place in the area of Taftanaz, which was recently reinforced by Turkey.
    • The clashes are further straining relations between Damascus and Ankara. It has also increased tension between Russia and Turkey.


    1. India, US got momentum in recent times, says US-India Strategic & Partnership Forum



    • United States-India Strategic and Partnership Forum in Washington has said that bilateral trade between India and the US has got momentum in recent times and it is moving in favour of Washington. The group said that it is mainly due to the sudden increase in energy import by New Delhi that the trade got momentum. The forum is a top India-centric American trade and strategic advocacy group.
    • Noting that the India-US trade has gone up from 142 billion US Dollars in 2018 to 160 billion US Dollars in 2019, the forum’s President Mukesh Aghi said that the bilateral trade numbers are going up without trade deal and when the big ticket items such as Boeing planes are not being delivered.
    • He said, India’s private air carrier Spice Jet has placed an order for 200 planes to Boeing. As such, the trade numbers would go up significantly, once the delivery of the planes kicks in motion. Mr Aghi said that even after the US withdrew India’s privileges under Generalized System of Preferences, the export in that sector had not slowed down.
    • The momentum on the bilateral trade continues even as a trade deal between the two countries is still being negotiated. He said that American companies continued to be bullish on India and will continue with their investment in the country. He further said, they are showing a substantial growth on the current base itself and are also gaining the market share.




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