Current Affairs February 20 2019

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Current Affairs February 20 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the One Health India Conference 2019 in New Delhi
Union Science & Technology Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, inaugurated the 2-day long One Health India Conference 2019 in New Delhi. The purpose of the conference was to launch India‘s new One Health Initiative – an inter sectoral approach to tackling the most urgent health threats in India as well as in low- and middle-income countries across South and South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

i. The main objective of the conference was to formulate a roadmap for the response, preparedness, and management of current regional, national and global health challenges using a One Health collaborative approach.
ii. It focused on identifying needs and opportunities and developing a strategy to address major human and animal diseases of concern including Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Anthrax, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), together with biosafety, biosecurity, burden of disease and inter-sectoral collaboration considerations.
iii. The conference was hosted by the following departments:

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
  • Ministry of Science and Technology
  • Departments of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE)
  • Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DAHDF)
  • Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare
  • the Departments of Health Research (DHR)
  • Health & Family Welfare (DHFW)
  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

iv. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAH&VB) of the Karnataka Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and The Pennsylvania State University, USA will be collaborating with the partners of the One Health Initiative.

Union Home Minister launched various women safety initiatives
On 19th February 2019, pan India number 112 was launched by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi in New Delhi.Projects are funded under Nirbhaya Fund scheme.

Emergency Response Support System, ERSS has been introduced for women safety in 16 states and Union Territories including Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir and was launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland earlier. All the states are required to set up an Emergency Response Centre, ERC.
In the hour of need, the person seeking can help can:

  • Dial 112
  • In smartphones, press power button of the phone thrice without any delay to activate a panic call to the Emergency Response Centre.
  • In feature phones, long press on the number 5 or 9 on the keypad to activate the panic call.

The following were also launched in the event:

  1. Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO)-  It is an online module for National, State, District law enforcement agencies and Police Stations that facilitates states in undertaking real-time monitoring and management for completion of investigation in rape cases in 2 months. It supplements the existing CCTNS data base, which covers nearly 15000 police stations in the country. ITSSO would greatly enhance States ability for analytics and prognosis for timely investigation and prosecution in rape cases.
  2. Safe City Implementation Monitoring (SCIM) portal-It shall be implemented in eight cities- Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow & Mumbai at a cost of Rs.2,919 crore. The projects include identifying the crime hot-spots, providing CCTV surveillance, patrolling by women police in vulnerable areas, setting up of police help desks and so on and they’ll be funded under Nirbhaya Fund scheme.

Smriti Irani laid the foundation stone of a Hastshilp Complex in New Delhi
Union Textiles Minister, Smriti Irani, laid foundation stone of Hastshilp Complex in New Delhi which is to be built in a period of 18 months by NBCC (formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd) and at a cost of Rs.113.56 crores.

i. She announced that it will be called “Deen Dayal Antarashtriya Hastshilp Bhawan” and awardee artisans will be allocated space for marketing their products, on rotation basis, with a preference to Divyang (disabled) artisans.
ii. It will have 23 shops meant for artisans, 1 showroom for artisans from SAARC countries, 1 kiosk, 5 galleries and 1 conventional hall and will also have dormitory facilities for handicrafts artisans.

RAIC signed trilateral agreement with Friendship Society of India and the India-Russia Foundation
In an attempt to encourage cultural ties between Russia and India, the Russian Association for International Cooperation (RAIC) signed a trilateral agreement with Friendship Society of India and the India-Russia Foundation.
About Russia:
♦ Capital-Moscow
♦ Currency-Russian ruble
♦ President-Vladimir Putin

GoM headed Nitin Patel submitted recommendations on GST on Housing to Council
A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, which has favoured 3% on the affordable housing category, down from 8%, has submitted its report to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council for taking it up and decide on it in the meeting to be held on 20th February 2019.
i. The Council might also consider reducing tax on cement from 28%to 18% to boost the realty sector in the meeting.
ii. GST is currently levied at 12%on premium housing and 8% on affordable housing on payments made for under-construction properties, where completion certificate has not been issued at the time of sale.No GST is charged if a property is bought after the issue of completion certificate.

Report on “Magnitude of Substance Use in India” sponsored by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment submitted by NDDTC of AIIMS, New Delhi
The report “Magnitude of Substance Use in India” is sponsored by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.The report was released by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and submitted to the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot in Delhi.
i. A“National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India”was conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment through the NDDTC of AIIMS, New Delhi in both the national and stated levels.
ii. Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot stated that in order to deal with the issue of drug abuse and to formulate guidelines and prepare an action plan, the State governments and all other stake holders including NGOs and drug de-addiction centres will be consulted.
iii. Some of the major findings are:

  • Approximately 14.6% of people amounting to 16 crores, in the age group of 10-75 consume alcohol.
  • Alcohol consumption is 17 times more prevalent in men than women.
  • About 2.8% of Indians- 3.1 crore people reportedly have used any cannabis product within past 12 months (Bhang – 2% or 2.2 crore people; Ganja/Charas – 1.2% or 1.3 crore people).
  • At the national level, the most common opioid used is Heroin, (current use 1.14%) followed by Pharmaceutical opioids (current use 0.96%) and then Opium (current use 0.52%).
  • About 1.08% of 10-75-year-old Indians (approximately 1.18 crore people) are currently use sedatives (non-medical, non-prescription use).

Unemployment among educated citizens rose sharply in 2017-18: NSSO
According to the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) first periodic labour force survey, levels of unemployment were observed to be much higher among educated people than ones with lower level of education in 2017-18.
Key points:
i. Despite lesser number of people receiving vocational training during this period, the number of skilled people nearly doubled in 2017-18 than in 2011-12.
ii. The literacy levels increased in 2017-18, specifically in rural areas where young women received more formal education than men.
iii. The rate of education among rural men increased from a mere 3.6 percent in 2011-12 to 10.5 percent in 2017-18. As many as 9.2 percent urban men were educated in 2017-18, more than double of the 2011-12 levels.
iv. Twice the number of educated women as compared to men were unemployed.
v. The gross secondary enrolment rate in the 15-16 age group went up to 90 percent in 2016 from 58 percent in 2010.

 ‘Eco Circuit: Pathanamthitta – Gavi – Vagamon – Thekkady’ project launched by K. J. Alphons in Kerala
Union Tourism Minister, Shri K. J. Alphons, inaugurated the ‘Eco Circuit: Pathanamthitta – Gavi – Vagamon – Thekkady’ project under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Ministry of Tourism,at Vagamon, Kerala.
i. The project was sanctioned for Rs 76.55 crores in December 2015 and major works carried out under it include Eco Adventure Tourism Park at Vagamon, Cultural Centre at Kadamanitta, Eco Log Huts at Peerumedu, Approach Roads, Walking trails, Rain Shelters at Pine Valley Forest, Thekkady, Kumily, Moozhiyar Dam, Penstock and Kakki Dam.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme

  • It is the Ministry of Tourism’s flagship scheme for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner and focussing on development of quality infrastructure in the country, with objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors and encourage economic growth.
  • It was launched in 2014 -15 and since then 77 projects worth Rs. 6131.88 Crore to 30 States and UTs have been sanctioned.
  • 12 projects worth Rs.1024.49 crore, covering the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Kerala and Sikkim have been inaugurated.
  • under the Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes, 7 projects have been sanctioned in Kerala for an approximate amount of Rs. 550 crores.

About Kerala
♦ Capital – Thiruvananthapuram
♦ Chief Minister – Pinarayi Vijayan
♦ Governor – P. Sathasivam

Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed a Bill to make Sanskrit as the second official language of the state
On 16th February 2019, a bill was passed in the Himachal Pradesh assembly to make Sanskrit the second official language of the state.
Key Points
i. Mahender Singh Thakur, the Irrigation and Public Health minister introduced the bill Himachal Pradesh Official Language Bill, 2019 (Amendment).
ii. The bill was introduced in the absence of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and was passed without discussion.
iii. With this, Himachal Pradesh became the second state to adopt Sanskrit as the second official language of the state after Uttarakhand.
The other bills passed during the same session:

  • Himachal Pradesh University of Health Sciences Amendment Bill, 2019 to rename Himachal Pradesh University of Health Sciences as Atal Medical and Research University, Himachal Pradesh.
  • Himachal Pradesh Bovine Breeding Bill, 2019 to promote indigenous species of cows in the state by setting up sperm stations and using frozen semen in artificial insemination.

About Himachal Pradesh
♦ Capital- Shimla
♦ Chief Minister- Jai Ram Thakur
♦ Governor- Acharya Dev Vrat

Finance Minister of Uttarakhand Prakash Pant presented Rs 48,663.90 crore State budget for financial year 2019-20
State budget of Rs. 48,663.90 crore was presented by Finance Minister Prakash Pant who described it as a balanced budget by prioritising education, health, agriculture, employment generation in rural areas, infrastructure, housing and urban development.
Key points
i. It is said to be a surplus budget with the total expenditure for the Financial Year 2019-20 standing around 48,663.90 crore and total earnings for the period around Rs 48,679.43 crore.
ii. Interest-free loans of up to Rs 1 lakh shall be provided to poor and small farmers.
iii. Interest free loans amounting to Rs 5 lakh shall be given to self-help groups involved in agro-related activities.
iv. Rs 1,341 crore have been allocated to agriculture and horticulture in the budget while Rs 3,141.34 crore have been allocated to rural development and Panchayati Raj department.
v. Rs 2,545.40 crore have been allocated for medical health, family welfare and medical education while Rs 1,073 crore for the education sector.
vi. Rs 100 crore have been allocated through the cooperative sector in the budget in order to reduce migration by generating employment in rural areas and doubling the income of farmers by 2022.
About Uttarakhand
♦ Capital- Dehradun
♦ Chief Minister- T.S Rawat
♦ Governor- Baby Rani Maurya

Punjab FM Manpreet Singh Badal presented Rs 1,58,493 crore state budget for FY 2019-20
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal presented the state budget for Financial Year (FY) 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs 1,58,493 crore with no new taxes.
i. The budget proposed hikes in the range of 9-36 percent in the allocation of funds for agriculture, health, education and rural and urban infrastructure sectors.
ii. Total outstanding debt of the state has been projected at Rs 2,29,612 crore for 2019-20 as against Rs 2,12,276 crore for 2018-19.
iii. An allocation of Rs 3,000 crore for farm debt waiver was proposed for the year 2019-20 in order to waive off the loans of landless farm labourers and the families of farmers who have been forced to commit suicides.
iv. The total revenue receipts have been estimated at Rs 78,510 crore for the next financial year as against Rs 70,399 crore for 2018-19. The total receipts of the state have been pegged at Rs 1,54,170 crore.
v.Petrol rates decread by Rs 5 and diesel rates by Re 1.
vi.Rs 250 crore for Sarbat Sehat Bina Yojana for providing Rs 5 lakh per family annual health care to 70 percent population of Punjab.
vii.Rs 90 crore allocated for new scheme, ‘Mera Kamm, Mera Maan’, wherein urban unemployed youth between the age group of 18 to 35 years will be assisted by the District Bureaus of Employment and Enterprise for both skilling and wage employment for a specified minimum days in the year.
About Punjab
♦ Capital – Chandigarh
♦ Chief Minister – Amarinder Singh
♦ Governor – V.P. Singh Badnore


Introductory “Trip Protector” policy launched by HDFC ERGO 
The first-of-its kind ‘Trip Protector’ insurance policy was launched by HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company for non-life insurance segment in India.It is the third-largest non-life insurance provider in the private sector in India.

i. The policy states that:

  • In case a flight or a hotel booking is cancelled, travellers will be safeguarded financially against the cost of cancellation levied on them by the respective hotels or airlines for both domestic and international travel.
  • In instances wherein travellers are refused for accommodation on arriving at the hotel due to overbooking, the policy will provide cover against cancellation of a pre-booked room.
  • Initially, this policy is being offered to customers of HDFC Bank on the purchase of Airline tickets or Hotel Bookings done using their HDFC Bank credit cards.
  • The policy will allow customers to choose between refundable and non-refundable tickets. Refundable tickets shall be paid for in case of cancellation.

Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) launched a new micro insurance plan ‘Micro Bachat’
On 18th February 2019, a new micro insurance plan ‘Micro Bachat’ was launched by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India.

Key points:
i. It provides a coverage of up to 2 lakhs and is the first micro-insurance plan to do so.
ii. It provides both protection and savings and is a regular premium, non-linked, participating endowment micro insurance plan.
iii. In case a policyholder dies, this plan would provide financial assistance to the family. For surviving policyholders, a lump sum amount at the time of maturity shall be provided.
iv. It can be availed only by standard healthy citizens in the age group of 18-55 years without undergoing any medical examination.
v. This plan will be eligible for loyalty additions after 5 years, the decision of which will lie with the organisation.
vi. People can also avail loans from this plan provided that premiums have been paid for three full years.


RBI approved transfer of Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend to the Government of India
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to transfer Rs. 28,000 crore as interim dividend to the Government of India in the current Financial Year (FY) 2018-19, in order to enable the Centre to meet its revised fiscal deficit target of 3.4% of the GDP for FY19.Now, GoI have Rs 68,000 crore as dividend for the 2018-19 fiscal, as Rs 40,000 crore dividend was transferred to govt in August 2018.
i. It is the 2nd successive year that RBI has transferred an interim surplus to the Government. In FY 2017 – 18, RBI handed out an interim dividend of Rs 10,000 crore in March 2018 and in August 2018, it transferred Rs 40,000 crore taking the total dividend pay-out to Rs 50,000 crore.
ii. The Financial year of RBI is July-June and pays dividend in August. That’s why Rs 28,000 crore termed as interim dividend.
iii. The RBI Act, 1934 requires RBI to pay the Government its surplus after making provisions for bad and doubtful debts, depreciation in assets and contribution to staff and superannuation.
About RBI
♦ Governor – Shaktikanta Das (25th Governor)
♦ Headquarters – Mumbai

A deal of USD 1.5 billion signed by IOC to buy US crude oil
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), has signed its very first annual deal to buy U.S. crude oil, paying USD 1.5 billion for 60,000 barrels a day beginning April 2019 to March 2020 to diversify its crude sources.

i. IOCL is the first Indian state refiner to buy U.S. oil under an annual contract, in a deal that will also help boost trade between New Delhi and Washington.
About IOC
♦ Headquarters – New Delhi
♦ Chairman – Sanjiv Singh

Government relaxes Angel Tax norms for start-ups 
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in an attempt to provide relief to and boost investments into start-ups in India, has decided to simplify the process for them to get exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
i. It will now recognize an entity as a start-up up to 10 years from the date of its incorporation or registration instead of the existing duration of 7 years.
ii. It will also recognize an entity as a start-up if its turnover for any of the financial years since its incorporation or registration does not exceed Rs 100 crore unlike the previous amount of Rs 25 crore.
iii.Under the IT Act, Section 56 (2) (viib) money invested by angels in a company is treated as income from other sources.  Exemption under Section 56 (2) (viib) for startup recognized by the DPIIT are as follows:

  • Investments by listed companies with a net worth of Rs 100 crore or turnover of Rs 250 crore will be exempted up to Rs 25 crore.
  • Investments of up to Rs 25 crore in eligible startups by Non-Residents, and Alternate Investment Funds – Category I will also be exempt under Section 56 (2) (viib) of the Income Tax Act.


Sunil Chhetri awarded the India’s first-ever “Football Ratna”
The 34-year-old,Sunil Chhetri , was awarded India’s first-ever “Football Ratna”by Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran, former player and administrator at the All India Football Federation(AIFF) and FIFA(Fédération Internationale de Football Association).Football Delhi is the state association governing the sport in Delhi.

i. He was also named as the 6th Indian Footballer in the elite Padma Shri list.
ii. Shubham Sarangi, youth player from Delhi who is currently the player of Delhi Dynamos team for Indian Super League (ISL), was also honoured by Football Delhi on this occasion. He was part of the AIFF Youth Academy for 12 years, and has represented India in Under-14 and Under-17 National Teams.
About FIFA
♦ President – Gianni Infantino
♦ Headquarters – Zürich, Switzerland

Overview of the Laureus Sports Awards 2019
The Laureus World Sports Awards 2019 were announced at the Laureus Awards Ceremony in Monaco on 18 February, 2019.

Category Winner Sport Country
Sportsman of the Year Novak Djokovic Tennis Serbia
Sportswoman of the Year Simone Biles Gymnastics USA
Team of the Year France’s Football Team Football France
Comeback of the Year Tiger Woods Golf USA
Breakthrough of the Year Naomi Osaka Tennis Japan
Action Sportsperson of the Year Chloe Kim Snowboarding USA
Lifetime Achievement Award Arsene Wenger Football (Manager) France
Spirit of Sport Award Lindsey Vonn Skiing USA
Exceptional Achievement Award Eliud Kipchoge Running Kenya
Sporting Moment of the Year Xia Boyu Mountain Climbing China
Sport for Good Award Jharkhand based NGO – Yuwa Football India

Key points
  • Novak Djokovic matched Usain Bolt’s record by being named World Sportsman of the Year for the fourth time.
  • Xia Boyu’s lost both legs in 1975 due to frostbite during his first attempt to reach the world’s highest peak of Qomolangma. He challenged the summit in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but failed.He finally made it in his 5th attempt on May 14, 2018, becoming the first Chinese double amputee climber to reach the summit of Qomolangma.
  • Yuwa is a Jharkhand based NGO that fight gender discrimination by getting young girls to play football.


GC Anupama becomes first woman President of Astronomical Society of India
The Astronomical Society of India will be Presided over by a woman, GC Anupama for the first time in its history.

She will succeed RK Tyagi and has been elected to this post for a tenure of 3 years.
About GC Anupama
i. She currently holds the position of dean and senior professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore.
ii. She is a part of the Indian core team which is part of the international team involved in the ‘Thirty Meter Telescope’ (TMT) project in Hawaii.With an outlay of over one billion USD, TMT is international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan, and USA.
iii.She is an awardee of Karnataka’s CV Raman Young Scientist award for the year 2001.
About Astronomical Society of India
♦ Established- 1972
♦ Objective- Promotion of astronomy and other related branches of science.

Government reappointed A.K.Sharma as IOC Finance Director for 3 months
A.K. Sharma has been reappointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.
i. He was appointed Director (Finance) of IOC in October 2014 and superannuated on January 31, 2019.
ii. This is the first time under Prime Minister Narendra Modi when a PSU director has been reappointed in the same position after attainment of superannuation age of 60 years.

Lt Gen Depinder Singh Ahuja became the Chief of Staff of Southern Command
Lieutenant General Depinder Singh Ahuja, awardee of the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal,has taken charge as the new Chief of Staff at the headquarters of the Southern Command in Pune, Maharashtra.
i. He is an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College,Wellington and the National Defence College, New Delhi and a member of the Indian Institute of Engineers.
ii. The position was earlier held by Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande, who has taken over the command of Army’s frontier Gajraj Corps.


Chennai got its first Drainage-cleaning robot, Bandicoot
Bandicoot, a drainage-cleaning robot, has been introduced in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Kadambur Raju, member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, inaugurated the operation of the robot.
i. It is a semi-automatic robot can enter manholes for cleaning sewage lines with its robotic arm and is equipped with 5 night-vision cameras to relay the scenario underneath.
ii.It was first introduced in Feb 2018 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, then in July 2018, it was publicized in Kumbakonam municipality of Tamil Nadu.
iii.It was developed by Genrobotics, a company founded by nine young engineers in Thiruvananthapuram.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated India’s first hi-tech forensic lab NCFL and CyPAD in Dwarka, New Delhi
On 18th February 2019, In order to achieve “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance” goal,Cyber Prevention Awareness and Detection (CyPAD) Centre of Delhi Police and the National Cyber Forensic Lab (NCFL) were inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and LG Anil Baijal in Dwarka, New Delhi.

Key points:
i. NFCL has been set up under Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)and shall be accessible to Delhi Police’s cyber-crime cell and other safety organisations.
ii.NCFL is a part of Home Ministry’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), which will monitor social media profiles of suspects to identify them.
iii.CyPAD is Delhi Police’s cybercrime unit. It will deal with rypto-currency frauds and international tech-supported frauds.
iv. To spread awareness among school students and teachers, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has started a popular Twitter handle @CyberDost.
About Delhi
♦ Chief Minister- Arvind Kejriwal
♦ Lieutenant Governor- Anil Baijal


Squash queen Nicol David to retire at end of 2018-19 PSA season
35-year-old,Malaysian squash queen,35-year-old and 8-time world champion,Nicol David, announced that she will be retiring at the end of the 2018-19 Professional Squash Association (PSA) season in June 2019.

i. She had a successful career with 81 PSA titles from 102 finals and held the World no. 1 spot for a record 109 months consecutively from 2006 to 2015.


‘Badge of Honor’ military novelist,W.E.B. Griffin, dead at age 89
American military veteran and novelist,William Edmund Butterworth III, better known as W.E.B. Griffin (his pen name), died on 12th February 2019, at the age of 89.He belonged to New Jersey, United States.

i. He joined the army at the age of 17 and has served in the Korean War.
ii. He wrote more than 200 books under the pen name W.E.B. Griffin and various other names and sold millions of copies. His most popular series include “Badge of Honor,” ”Clandestine Operations” and “Presidential Agent.”

Scientist Wallace Smith Broecker who popularized the term “global warming” passed away at the age of 87 in New York
Wallace Smith Broker, popular as ‘Grandfather of Climate Science’ died at the age of 87 at New York.  He popularised the term ‘global warming’.He was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

He was the first scientist to recognize the Ocean Conveyor Belt which is said to have a major impact on climate including air temperature and rain patterns. He also stated that the release of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere has an effect on the ocean currents.

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