Current Affairs February 23 2019

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Current Affairs February 23 2019INDIAN AFFAIRS

Overview Of Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri 3-Day Visit To India

  • Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, accompanied by senior government officials and a business delegationarrived in New Delhi on 17th February 2019 for a three-day India visit.
  • Argentina became the 72nd country to sign the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). 6 MoUs were exchanged between the two sides
  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu,addressing the India-Argentina Business Forum in New Delhi said that India wants to partner with Argentina in its efforts to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • The two countries signed an Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in 2010 which has led to progress in cooperation on the Fission Molly Project, the molybdenum plant being built in Mumbai by the Argentine company INVAP, with a target for completion in 2020………………………..Click here to Read more

Changes in the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 approved by President Ram Nath Kovind
On 21st February 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the amendments to the Indian Stamp Act, 1899,which were introduced in the Parliament as part of the Finance Act 2019. These amendments have been introduced to regularise the system of levying stamp duty and to help in curbing tax evasion.
Key points:
i. For the stamp duty rates, the duties levied by Maharashtra will be taken as a benchmark as the state accounts for 70% of the total collection.
ii. They propose creation of a legal and institutional mechanism which will enable states to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency(through the Stock Exchanges or Clearing Corporations authorised by the stock exchange or by the Depositories).
iii. They also propose a mechanism for appropriate sharing of the stamp duty with relevant state governments on the basis of state of domicile of the buying client.
iv.There’s also a proposal to create a Coordination Council under Article 263 of the Indian Constitution by a separate order/notification of the President of India for the enactment of the Act.
v. This system is expected to do away with the practice of tax evasion completely and will also lead to minimisation of cost of collection and enhancement of revenue productivity.

Commerce Minister addressed India-Russia Forum on SMEs
An Interactive Forum between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of India and Russia was held in Bengaluru and was addressed by Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu for working to address and resolve trade and investment issues to facilitate and increase private sector cooperation.
i. India has already announced setting up of a fast track, single-window mechanism for Russian companies which would be chaired by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary.
ii. This mechanism would be in addition to the Russia Desk that had been set up to promote Russian investment in India.
iii. SMEs being less informed about the schemes that exists in both the countries, a need to curate a digital bridge between the economies so that SMEs can benefit from it was addressed.

National Conference on Logistics Policy held in New Delhi
The“National Conference on Logistics Policy: Context, Issues & The Way Forward”was held in New Delhi from 19th to 20th February, 2019.

National Conference on Logistics Policy held in New Delhii. Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, addressed the first stakeholder consultation on the draft logistics policy prepared by the Department of Logistics of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
ii. He also launched the SAFAR Mobile App, on this occasion.About the app:

  • It will help to gauge the actual issues faced by transporters on the road.
  • It will track the incidence of a number of parameters faced by transporters and automatically record the location of the issue.
  • Transporters, truck drivers, and general public may use the app for reporting their logistics issues to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The app is available in 8 languages.

iii. Special Secretary, Logistics, N. Sivasailam, said that the logistics business in the country is worth USD 160 billion and is growing at 7% – 8 % every year and the main objectives of the policy are to reduce logistics cost from 14% to 10% of GDP, create additional 10-15 million jobs in the sector, become a single point for all logistics & trade facilitation and reduce losses in agriculture to less than 5%, by facilitating agri-logistics in the country.

Regional Maritime Safety Conference 2019 held in Mumbai
The 2-day long Regional Maritime Safety Conference 2019 was held in Mumbai to discuss maritime safety in the India-ASEAN sub-region, safeguarding our shores and promoting maritime trade.

Regional Maritime Safety Conference 2019 held in Mumbaii. It was organized by India for the first time, by the National Maritime Foundation (NMF), in coordination with Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs.
ii. It addressed a range of issues that affect regional maritime safety, including transport safety, maritime law, ship building, transportation of hazardous goods, marine oil spill, pollution and environmental safety.
iii. UnionShipping and Water Resources Minister,Nitin Gadkari inaugurated an upgraded version of e-commerce portal Port Community System (PCS) called ‘PCS1x’, developed in record time by the Indian Ports Association, based on feedback from stakeholders using PCS.

Union Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti inaugurated first Mega Food Park of Tripura
Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries,Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti,inaugurated Tripura’s first mega food park named Sikaria Mega Food Park Pvt Ltd at Village Tulakona in Agartala.

Union Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti inaugurated first Mega Food Park of Tripurai. It has been set up on 50 acres of land at the cost of Rs 87.45 crore and the Government of India has approved a financial assistance of Rs 50 Crore to the project.
About Tripura
♦ Capital – Agartala
♦ Chief Minister – Biplab Kumar Deb
♦ Governor – Prof. Kaptan Singh Solanki

UP CM Yogi Adityanath Launches Scheme for Adolescent Girls
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath launched a scheme for adolescent girls aged between 11 to 14 years, who have left their education and will take steps to provide them proper nutrition and special care.
i. UP Government decided to observe 8th of every month as Adolescent Girls Day, at Anganwadi Centres across the state, and Nutrition Campaigns will be organized for these girls on that day.
About Uttar Pradesh
♦ Capital – Lucknow
♦ Chief Minister – Yogi Adityanath
♦ Governor – Sri Ram Naik

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India, Sri Lanka ink MoU to establish business centre for ICT incubators in Jaffna
On 21st February 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by India and Sri Lanka for the establishment of a business centre for ICT incubators in Jaffna, Sri Lanka through grant of 25 crore Sri Lankan rupees from India.

India, Sri Lanka ink MoU to establish business centreThe MoU was signed in Colombo, Sri Lanka by High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, and Secretary, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade Mr. S. T. Kodikara in presence of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Key points:
i. The centre is being set up to create a conducive environment for Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other professional services in the Northern region which is inhabited by minority Tamils.
ii. Other development projects in Jaffna which have been funded by India are-construction of Cultural Centre in Jaffna, school buildings of 27 schools, 3000 rainwater harvesting units and 25 model villages etc.
iii. This takes India’s total development assistance to Sri Lanka to around 3 billion US$, out of which 560 million US$ is pure grant assistance.

European Union agrees on greenhouse gas emission cut for trucks
On 19th February 2019, the European Union(EU) and the Council agreed on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new trucks and buses by 30 percent by 2030. This reduction shall be in comparison to the 2019 levels.
i. It’s going to be a step-by-step process with a15 percent reduction target set for 2025 and the 2030 target will be reviewed in 2022.
ii. Presently, trucks generate almost a quarter of European Union’s (EU) transport-related emissions and it has imposed no limits on emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, unlike the United States, China, Japan and Canada.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Overview Of External Affairs Minister’s Visit To Bulgaria, Morocco And Spain
External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj undertook a 4-day visit to Bulgaria, Morocco and Spain from 16th  to 19th February 2019 as part of India’s efforts to strengthen ties with these countries and expand avenues of cooperation.

  • She paid floral tribute at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the South Park in Sofia, which was unveiled last year by President of India along with President of Bulgaria to mark the celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited the Kingdom of Morocco. There 4 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)s were signed which included setting up of Joint Working Group on Counter TerrorismCooperation in Housing and Human SettlementReciprocal facilitation of procedures for issue of Business Visa and Cooperation in Youth Matters.
  • The Spanish Government conferred upon her the prestigious Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit for India’s swift response through Operation Maitri in rescuing 71 Spanish nationals from Nepal in April 2015, in the wake of the disastrous earthquake…………………..Click here to Read more

BANKING & FINANCE

Srei Equipment, Syndicate Bank to jointly provide equipment financing under co-lending arrangement
Srei Equipment Finance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Srei Infrastructure Finance, has collaborated with Syndicate Bank to provide equipment financing under co-lending arrangement for various equipment categories like construction, mining, material handling, commercial vehicles, medical and farm equipment.
i. The arrangement requires Syndicate Bank to utilise its low-cost funds and co-lend equipment loans with Srei at a rate which has been mutually agreed on.
ii. It has been done under the aegis of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular dated September 21, 2018 that allows banks to collaborate with non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to co-originate loans for the creation of assets for priority sector.
iii. Loans under this programme will be sourced by iQuippo a Kanoria Foundation initiative- India’s first digital marketplace for construction equipment, machinery and services.

MoU signed between IIFL Home Finance and Maharashtra government for building houses under PMAY
On 20th February 2019, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed between IIFL Home Finance and the Maharashtra government for building affordable houses through credit-linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).

MoU signed between IIFL Home Finance and Maharashtra government for building houses under PMAYi. Through this MoU, the Housing Department of Maharashtra will provide permissions and enable IIFL Home Finance (IIFL HFL) to spread awareness among customers about the benefits of PMAY through presentations, counselling, calls and messages.

Merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with BoB (Bank of Baroda) to be effective from April 1
According to a statement by Bank of Baroda, its merger with Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank shall come into force from 1st April 2019.

Merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with BoB (Bank of Baroda)i. This scheme has been named as ‘Amalgamation of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda Scheme, 2019’.
ii. According to the Scheme of Amalgamation-

  • Shareholders of Vijaya Bank will get 402 equity shares of Bank of Baroda for every 1,000 shares held.
  • Shareholders of Dena Bank will receive 110 equity shares of Bank of Baroda for every 1,000 equity shares held.

BUSINESS & FINANCE

CBDT set up panel to help bring down tax litigation
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) formed a 4-member committee, headed by income tax commissioner Sanjeev Sharma, to look into the matter of taxation related pain points and submit its final report and recommendations by mid-March.
i. It will tackle the issue by addressing some current pain points and recommending some steps borrowed from international best practices.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Divya Karnad became First Indian Woman to receive Future of Nature Award
33-year-old Ashoka University teacher and Wipro Sustainable Fellow, Divya Karnad became the First Indian Woman to be honoured with the “Global Future of Nature Award” for her work on marine conservation.
i. She is the second Indian to receive this award after Dr. Charudutt Mishra.
ii. The award is given to 3 people annually, and this year it was given to Olivier Nsengimana and Fernanda Abra along with Divya Karnad.
About Global Future of Nature Award
It is a prestigious international award that celebrates achievements in protecting wild animals and plant species.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Mushtaque Ahmad has been designated as Vice-President of AHF
India’s Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad was elected Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation(AHF) and Asima Ali was elected as the Executive Committee member, for a 4-year term in Gifu, Japan.
i. Mushtaque Ahmad is currently serving as the President of Hockey India, while Asima Ali is the Vice-President of the national federation.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX launched Israel’s first moon lander, “Beresheet”, from Florida
Israel’s first moon lander, the 585 kg “Beresheet” (“Genesis” in Hebrew), was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX in Florida, United States.

SpaceX launched Israel’s first moon lander, “Beresheet”, from Floridai. At a cost of USD 100 million, it is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission. It is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the “Eighth Continent” of the Earth.
ii. The project is funded almost entirely by donations making it the first privately backed lunar lander mission.It was notably financed by businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn. Other partners include Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel’s space agency and Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
iii. Beresheet carries a “time capsule” loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children’s drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.
iv. Landing is the main mission, but the spacecraft also carries a scientific instrument to measure the lunar magnetic field, which will help understanding of the Moon’s formation.
v. It is estimated it will land on 11 April after a 4m-mile (6.5m-km) journey.
vi. With this, Israel became the 4th country after Russia, USA and China to carry out a 384,000km journey and land a spacecraft on the Moon.
vii. The Falcon 9 rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
Related Points
India hopes to become the 5th lunar country with its Chandrayaan-2 It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon’s surface to collect data.

Scientists have discovered 300,000 new galaxies using a Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope
A study conducted by 200 scientists from 18 countries has led to discovery of 300,000 new galaxies using a Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope in Netherlands.
i. LOFAR is capable of detecting low radio frequencies which is not visible to other telescopes. Thus, scientists could spot lakhs of light sources, which were once too faint to be detected from Earth.
ii. The telescope has a very high sensitivity and detects traces or “jets” of ancient radiation produced when galaxies merge.

ENVIRONMENT 

World’s largest bee spotted the first time since 1981
Wallace’s giant bee– the largest bee known on the Earth which was considered to be extinct since 1981 was re-spotted in an Indonesian forest.
i. Scientists spotted a female bee of the species Megachile pluto and its size is four times the size of the typical European honeybee and has a wingspan of 2.5 inches.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Thinking Day celebrated on 22nd February
Every year, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides celebrate the World Thinking Day on 22nd February.

World Thinking Dayi. The theme of World Thinking Day 2019 is ‘Leadership’. The aim is to learn the different ways to be a leader and develop the power to bring the change a person wants to see in the world.
ii. The day is significant as it was the birthday of Scouting and Guiding founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell and of Lady Olave Baden-Powell, his wife and World Chief Guide.

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