January 24, 2020

National

  1. Cabinet approves closure of Hindustan Fluorocarbons Ltd
  • The Union Cabinet recently approved the closure of public sector Hindustan Fluorocarbon Ltd (HFL). Only 88 employees are working in this company.
  • HFL has been at a loss since 2013-14 and its net worth has come down to a negative mark. As on March 31, 2019, the company incurred a cumulative loss of Rs 62.81 crore and its net worth is Rs 43.20 crore.
  • NBCC (India) will be a land management agency for facilitating the disposal of land assets. Hindustan Fluorocarbon Ltd is a subsidiary company of Hindustan Organic Chemicals.
  1. ECI to conduct first Sukumar Sen Memorial lecture
  • Election Commission of India (ECI) has organized an annual lecture as a tribute to Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner of India.
  • Sukumar Sen (1898–1963) admirably conducted the first two general elections for the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures. Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee delivered a lecture on this occasion.
  • Sukumar Sen was born on January 02, 1898. He completed his education from Presidency College, Kolkata and University College, London. He joined the Indian Civil Service in 1922.
  1. S Jaishankar inaugurates Gandhi Convention Center in Niger
  • Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou jointly inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Center.
  • It is the first convention center that started in Africa on the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • This convention center was designed as a spacious, modern and environmentally friendly facility. S Jaishankar is the first foreign minister of India to visit Niger.
  1. Cabinet approves over Rs 4300 cr to establish permanent campuses for new NITs
  • Union Cabinet on approved to Revised Cost Estimates for establishment of permanent campuses of new National Institutes of Technology, NITs, at a total cost of 90 crore rupees for the period till 2021-2022.
  • NITs were established in the year 2009 and started functioning from academic year 2010-2011 in their temporary campus with very limited space and infrastructure. These NITs will be fully functional from their permanent campuses by 31st March, 2022.
  • It also approved the extension of tenure of the Commission constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution, to examine the issue of sub-categorization within Other Backward Classes in the Central List.
  1. Nation pays homage to Subhas Chandra Bose on his 123rd birth anniversary
  • Nation pays homage to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 123rd birth anniversary on 23rd january. A number of functions have been organised across the country to mark the occasion. In West Bengal, Governor Jaghdeep Dhankhar will pay floral tribute at the statue of Netaji in
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will pay homage at a function in Darjeeling.
  • State Government is organizing Subhash Utsav in each Blocks of the state. People from all works of life are visiting the house of Netaji in South Kolkata since early morning to pay their homage to the great hero of the freedom movement. Netaji Research Bureau has also organized programmes in Kolkata on the occasion.
  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu paid tributes to Netaji on his birth anniversary.
  1. SAIL launches scheme for employee-led philanthropic activities
  • Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan launched a scheme by SAIL for Voluntary Philanthropist Activities (VPA) by its employees.
  • The scheme called “SAIL Employee Rendering Voluntarism and Initiatives for Community Engagement (SERVICE)” will promote and facilitate philanthropist activities by the employees in a structured manner. A portal for the employees to register for the scheme was also launched.
  • The dedicated interactive “SAIL SERVICE” portal for implementation of this scheme shall act as a platform for enabling faster interaction and communication amongst the various stakeholders. It shall eventually be developed as a repository of knowledge management in this regard.

State

  1. Jaipur Literature Festival begins
  • Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot inaugurated Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 on January 23, 2019. Litterateurs of the country participate in the festival.
  • It is the 13th year of the Jaipur Literature Festival. This time more than 550 speakers are joining the festival from different parts of the country and the world.
  • Some issues like NRC, CAA and Delhi’s JNU can also be discussed during the festival. Although the organizers have not listed these issues in the list of discussions.
  1. Uttarakhand becomes first state to implement agricultural land leasing policy
  • Uttarakhand has become the first state in the country where the government has made a policy to lease agricultural land.
  • Under this leasing policy, instead of giving land on a 30-year lease, the concerned farmer will get the rent for the land.
  • In the hilly areas of the state, the obstacles of leasing land for farming, agriculture, horticulture, herbs, off-season vegetables, milk production, tea plantation, fruit hybridization and solar energy has been removed with this step.
  • Now any institution, company, firm or NGO can take farm land on lease in villages, leasing a maximum of 30 acres of land on lease for 30 years.
  • The state government has made this policy in the wake of difficulties in the consolidation of land.

International

  1. UK Parliament ratifies Brexit divorce law
  • After years of acrimonious debate, British lawmakers finally approved the terms of their country’s historic departure from the European Union. MPs in the lower House of Commons had already backed the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which ratifies the divorce deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck with Brussels last year.
  • But the unelected upper House of Lords made some changes this week, including on the rights of EU citizens and child refugees after
  • In a series of votes, the Commons — where Johnson’s Conservatives have a large majority — rejected all five amendments and sent the bill back to the Lords, who then reluctantly agreed to back down.
  • The Bill is now awaiting royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II for its formal ratification, paving the way for Britain to leave the EU on January 31.
  • The European Parliament still has to back the deal in a vote but its approval in London is a historic moment, as Britain edges closer to becoming the first country to leave the 28-member EU.
  1. Aurobindo Ashram School building constructed with India’s assistance inaugurated in Nepal
  • The Charge d’ Affairs of Embassy of India in Nepal, Dr. Ajay Kumar ceremonially inaugurated new building of Aurobindo Ashram School in Thankot, Kathmandu . Director General, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction of Nepal, Mani Ram Gelal along with political and community leaders also attended the programme.
  • The new infrastructure is constructed with the Government of India’s grant assistance of 25 million Nepali rupees. The three story building comprises eleven class rooms, three labs, four store rooms, two staff rooms. Besides rooms for accounts, administration, record, library and principal, it also has examination and multi-purpose hall.
  • The newly built infrastructure is expected to boost learning environment of the students. Government of India is happy to be associated with the project which compliments effort of Government of Nepal in augmenting infrastructure in the field of education.
  1. WHO meeting underway to decide about declaring corona virus outbreak “An emergency”
  • A meeting of the World Health Organisation is now in progress in Geneva to consider declaring outbreak of corona virus in China, an emergency. The UN body will decide if the outbreak is a matter of international concern.
  • The meeting is important because the WHO thinks immediate and coordinated international action may be needed to contain the virus infection. If the outbreak is declared an emergency, the UN body may advise countries to take tighter quarantine measures.
  • In China, 9 people have died of corona virus infection and the infection has spread to several cities including Wuhan, Beijing and
  • The virus causes illnesses ranging from common cold to acute respiratory syndromes. A total of 440 cases of pneumonia caused by the virus has been reported in China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
  • India has already issued a travel warning. Several countries have also started screening travellers from China to detect symptoms of syndromes.

Banking & Finance

  1. Government approves model pact with foreign countries for seafarers’ competency certificate
  • The government stated it has approved a model pact with foreign countries for recognition of seafarers’ competency certificates.
  • The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • This will pave the way for mutual recognition of maritime education and training of seafarers by the countries involved.
  • The proposed bilateral MoU will enable India and another country with which such an MoU may be entered, to mutually recognise maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, documentary evidence of training and medical fitness certificates, issued to the seafarers who are citizens of respective countries the Shipping Ministry stated in a statement.

Business & Economy

  1. Japan’s NTT to invest Rs 11,000 crore in data centres in India
  • Japanese tech major NTT stated a significant part of its USD 7 billion global commitment for data centres business would be spent in India over the next four years.
  • The company also feels that there will be margin compression issues for the data centres business in India as capacity supply goes up along with an increase in competition, NTT’s country chief executive for global data centres and cloud infrastructure, Sharad Sanghi.
  • In the last few months, a string of corporates, including the Adani Group, Hiranandanis and Reliance Industries have announced investments in data centres, on the back of regulatory moves like data sovereignty which makes it incumbent upon financial institutions to house their data locally.
  • India is the fastest-growing region for NTT and a substantial amount of the USD 7 billion commitment will be invested.

Appointment & Resignation

  1. Challa Sreenivasulu Setty becomes SBI MD
  • Challa Sreenivasulu Setty has been appointed as the new Managing Director (MD) of the State Bank of India (SBI). He will remain on this post for the next three years.
  • Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved his name proposed by the Department of the Financial Services.
  • Challa is currently working as the deputy managing director of the SBI. This post is extendable by two years or until any other orders. However, such orders come only after reviewing performance.
  1. Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou elected first woman president of Greece
  • Greece’s parliament elected the first woman president in the country’s history, a senior judge with an expertise in environmental and constitutional law.
  • A cross-party majority of 261 MPs voted in favour of 63-year-old Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou, parliament chief Costas Tassoulas
  • Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou has been elected president of the republic.
  • The new president, until now the head of Greece’s top administrative court, the Council of State, will take her oath of office on March 13.

Science, Space & Technology

  1. ISRO to send robot ‘Vyomamitra’ in unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft ahead of human spaceflight
  • Even before orbiting astronauts on India’s first manned mission to the space in December 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation will send ‘Vyomamitra’, a ‘lady robot’, in unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft.
  • The robot was the centre of attraction at the inaugural session of the “Human Spaceflight and Exploration – Present Challenges and Future Trends” in Bengaluru
  • Vyomamitra, a combination of two Sanskrit words Vyoma (Space) and Mitra (Friend), took everyone by surprise when she introduced herself to the audience gathered there.
  • ISRO chairman K Sivan stated reporters the humanoid will simulate human functions in space and also interact with the environment control life support system.It will be simulating exactly the human functions there (in space). It will check whether the system is right. This will be very useful to simulate, as if a human is flying.
  • Earlier, addressing the inaugural function, Sivan stated ahead of the launch of India’s maiden human spaceflight venture ‘Gaganyaan’ in December 2021, ISRO will undertake two unmanned missions in December 2020 and June 2021.
April 15, 2020

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