Daily Current Affairs - 20th Feb 2019

7 islands in Andamans, Lakshadweep identified for seaplane operations

  • Four islands in the Andamans and three in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations, while private sector participation has been invited for tourism-based projects. Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hutbay and Long Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Kavaratti, Agatti and Minicoy in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations.

Asia's premier Air show 'Aero-India' to take off in Bengaluru

  • The 12th edition of Asia's premier Air show 'Aero India-2019' will begin at Yelahanka air force station, Bengaluru. 61 aircraft, including HAL's indigenous products LCA Tejas are all set to roar in the city skies.
  • The global event will see participation of the highest ever aircrafts, Airbus 330Neo. The event will see participation from countries like Israel, US, UK, Germany, Russia and France to name a few.
  • The five-day long biennial event will showcase India's air defence prowess, will also act as a platform for aviation companies, the defence sector and government to forge new alliances and contracts.

Astronomical Society of India gets first woman president

  • Dr G C Anupama, Senior Professor (Dean) from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, has became the first woman to be elected president of Astronomical Society of India (ASI), a prime association of professional astronomers in the country. She will succeed R K Tyagi as the new president of ASI
  • She is the India group head of an international team of scientists that is building a 30-metre telescope at a cost of over $1 billion in Hawaii. She is also in-charge of the Indian Astronomical Observatory at Hanle in Ladakh.

Cabine approves construction of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System

  • The Union government has approved the construction of a Rs. 30,274 crore Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) to connect the national capital with Meerut through Ghaziabad. The 82 km-stretch will be covered in less than 60 minutes by high-speed and green public transit.
  • The RRTS is a first-of-its-kind, rail-based, high-speed regional transit system to be implemented in India.
  • Once operational, it will be the fastest, most comfortable and safest mode of commuter transport in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Cabinet approves re-promulgation of triple talaq ordinance

  • The Union Cabinet has approved re-promulgation of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, which makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence.
  • It also makes all declarations of instant triple talaq void and illegal and the practice a punishable offence with imprisonment of three years.

CCEA approves Phase-IIof Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Programme

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the Phase-IIof Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Programme for achieving cumulative capacity of 40 thousand Mega Watt from Rooftop Solar (RTS) Projects by the year 2022. This programme will be implemented with total central financial support of 11 thousand 814 crore rupees.

Censor Board denied certificate to 793 films in 16 years

  • The Central Board of Film Certification has banned a total of 793 films in 16 years, an RTI response has revealed. Between January 1, 2000, and March 31, 2016, the censor board refused to grant certificate for exhibition to 793 films. These include 586 Indian films and 207 foreign films.
  • A maximum of 153 films were banned in 2015-16, followed by 152 in 2014-15, 119 in 2013-14 and 82 in 2012-13. Only 9 films were banned in 2010, followed by 10 in 2008 and 11 in 2007.
  • As many as 231 Hindi films were refused certificate, followed by 96 in Tamil, 53 in Telugu, 39 in Kannada, 23 in Malayalam and 17 in Punjabi. Twelve films each in Bengali and Marathi were also banned during this period.
  • CBFC, Chairman: Prasoon Joshi

DA hiked by 3% for Central govt employees, pensioner

  • The Union Cabinet has approved additional Dearness Allowance, DA of three percent over the existing rate of nine percent of the basic pay or pension to Central government employees and pensioners. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, it will be effective from 1st January this year.
  • This will benefit about 48.41 lakh Central Government employees and 62.03 lakh pensioners.
  • Dearness Allowance: The Dearness Allowance is a cost of living adjustment allowance paid to Government employees, Public sector employees and pensioners in India

France backs India's efforts to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist

  • France will move a proposal at the UN to ban the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar. The proposal will be a boost to India's efforts to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN. Pakistan-based outfit JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead.
  • France, a permanent member of the UN, is expected to be joined by other countries in the proposal.
  • This proposal will be fourth such bid at the UN in past ten years. In 2009 and 2016, India moved the UN's Sanctions Committee 1267 to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of attack on the airbase in Pathankot in January, 2016.
  • France:
  • President: Emmanuel Macron
  • Capital: Paris
  • Currency: Euro

Government clears National Policy on Electronics to make India global hub in this sector

  • The Union government has cleared the National Policy on Electronics 2019. It envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing. The National Policy of Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019) replaces the National Policy of Electronics 2012 (NPE 2012).
  • This policy aims to promote domestic manufacturing and export in the entire value-chain of ESDM for economic development to achieve a turnover of USD 400 billion (approximately INR 26,00,000 crore) by 2025.
  • The policy states that it will include a targeted production of 100 crore mobile handsets by 2025.

Government relaxes angel tax norms, widens age cap of startups to 10 years

  • In a major relief to startups, the union government has expanded the turnover criteria and widened age cap of startups from 7 to 10 years. This move comes after the government appointed a small working group consisting of angel investors and startup founders earlier this month to look into issues faced by angel investors.
  • It has revised the turnover limit for them from Rs 25 crore to Rs 100 crore and also relaxed the norms for startups seeking exemption under Section 56 (2) (viib).
  • Under the IT Act, Section 56 (2) (viib) money invested by angels in a company is treated as income from other sources.
  • Under the new rules, in order to receive the recognition of a startup, the startups will have to make an online application to Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
  • The application will need to have a copy of certificate of incorporation or registration and a write-up about the nature of business highlighting how it is working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services etc.

Govt may launch exchange traded fund of PSU bank stocks next fiscal

  • The Finance Ministry is planning to launch an exchange traded fund consisting of PSU bank stocks in the next financial year. The bank exchange traded fund (ETF) would be in addition to the CPSE ETF and Bharat-22 ETF launched by the Centre which have seen huge investor demand.

Grandfather of Climate Science and populariser of 'global warming' Wallace Smith Broecker dies

  • Wallace Smith Broecker, a pioneering scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularised the term “global warming” has died aged 87. Wallace Smith Broecker was a Columbia University professor and researcher.
  • Broecker brought “global warming” into common use with a 1975 article that correctly predicted rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would lead to pronounced warming.
  • He was also a pioneer in radiocarbon and isotope dating and became the first person to recognize what he called the ocean conveyor belt, a global network of currents affecting everything from air temperature to rain patterns.
  • His theories have subsequently become proven by events and are almost universally accepted by climate scientists.

ICJ refuses to entertain Pak's request to adjourn Kulbhushan case

  • The International Court of Justice has refused to entertain Pakistan's request to adjourn the hearing in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav to appoint a new ad-hoc judge. The four-day hearing in the Jadhav case opened at the ICJ headquarters in The Hague.
  • Pakistan asked the judge to adjourn the case, citing the illness of its ad-hoc judge. However, the world court declined Pakistan's plea and asked it to continue argument in the absence of the ad-hoc judge.
  • Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
  • International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It settles legal disputes between member states and gives advisory opinions to authorized UN organs and specialized agencies.
  • President: Abdulqawi Yusuf
  • Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands

Karl Lagerfeld, iconic Chanel fashion designer, dies

  • German-born designer Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most prolific and admired designers of modern times had died at the age of 85. Lagerfeld held a number of top jobs in the fashion world and had an almost unprecedented influence on the industry.
  • He is credited with reinventing Chanel, taking it from a small house to an industry leader.

Laureus Sports Awards 2019

  • Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic (Tennis)
  • Sportswoman of the Year: Simone Biles (Gymnast)
  • Comeback of the Year: Tiger Woods (Golf)
  • Breakthrough of the Year: Naomi Osaka (Tennis)
  • Sportsperson of the Year with disability: Henrieta Farkkasova (Skiing)
  • Action Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe Kim (Snowboarding)
  • Team of the Year: France football team
  • Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year: Xia Boyu
  • Exceptional Achievement Award: Eliud Kipchoge (Athletics)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Arsene Wenger (Football)
  • Spirit for Sport Award: Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Skiing)
  • Sport for Good Award: Yuwa (Women’s football in Jharkhand)
  • The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony honouring individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year

LIC launches Micro Bachat plan

  • Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has launched a new micro insurance plan 'Micro Bachat' which is a regular premium, non-linked, participating endowment micro insurance plan, which offers a combination of protection and savings. This insurance plan has been launched providing coverage up to Rs 2 lakh.
  • This plan provides financial support for the family in case of unfortunate death of the policyholder during the policy term and a lump sum amount at the time of maturity for the surviving policyholders.

Mexico border wall: 16 US states sue Trump over emergency

  • Sixteen US States have sued President Donald Trump over his plan to declare a national emergency to get funding for his controversial wall along the border with Mexico. The lawsuit came after Trump declared that he would spend billions of dollars more on border barriers that Congress had granted him.
  • The coalition of 16 states in their lawsuit alleged that the Trump administration's emergency declaration and diversion of funds are unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful.
  • This dispute stems from the fact that Trump asking congress to fund 5.7 billion dollars for his controversial wall along the border with Mexico. But the lawmakers granted him only 1.375 billion dollars for new border barriers. The fund is far short of Trump had initially requested.
  • The National Emergencies Act allows the President to declare a national emergency and unlock a stash of funds by invoking certain statutory authority.
  • Mexico
  • President: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
  • Capital: Mexican city
  • Currency: Mexican peso

More than 4 lakh children are inhalant addicts: survey

  • According to a survey conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Science, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh have emerged front runners in alcohol abuse and health complications arising due to the addiction.
  • The report noted that 5.7 crore people in the country suffered from alcohol related problems. Of the 16 crore people who consumed alcohol across the country, prevalence of alcohol consumption was 17 times higher among men than among women.
  • More than four lakh children and 1.8 million adults needed help for inhalant abuse and dependence, the report said.
  • The survey also revealed that about 3.1 crore individuals consumed cannabis, with 72 lakh of them needing help for cannabis use problems. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha registered maximum cannabis dependence.
  • The most common opioid used was heroin. The current use of heroin was 1.14%, followed by pharmaceutical opioids (0.96%) and opium (0.52%). Here, the abuse was found most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

Myanmar sets up committee to discuss reforming constitution

  • Myanmar has set up a committee to discuss reforming the country's military-drafted constitution. Under a 2008 charter, the Myanmar military controls all security ministries and also a quarter of parliamentary seats. Thus the army has an effective veto over any constitutional change.
  • Suu Kyi's party has promised to reform the controversial document.
  • Myanmar parliament voted to form a cross-party committee to debate reforms of the charter.
  • Myanmar
  • President: Win Myint
  • Capital:Naypyitaw
  • Currency: Burmese kyat

Nikhat, Meena win gold medals at Strandja Memorial Boxing

  • Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • Zareen, a multiple-time national medallist, claimed a 5-0 win in the 51kg category finals against Filipino Irish Magno.
  • Devi defeated another Filipino Aira Villegas 3-2 in the bantamweight (54kg) summit clash.
  • Manju Rani (48kg) settled for a silver after a defeat from Filipine's Josie Gabuco in a split 2-3 verdict.
  • Pwilao Basumatari (64kg), Neeraj (60kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) had settled for bronze medals after losing their semifinal bout

OFB gets clearance for producing 114 long-range artillery gun Dhanush

  • The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has received a bulk production clearance from the Indian Army and the Defence Ministry for production of 114 'Dhanush' artillery guns. Dhanush is the first long-range artillery gun to be produced in India and it is a major success story of the 'Make in India' initiative.
  • It is the product of joint efforts by the OFB and the Army with contributions from the DRDO, DGQA, DPSUs such as Bharat Electronics Limited, PSUs such as SAIL and several private.

President Ram Nath Kovind to inaugurate 3 day International Conference & Exhibition On Energy and Environment

  • President Ram Nath Kovind will inaugurate the three day International Conference and Exhibition On Energy and Environment in New Delhi. Around one thousand delegates from India and abroad will participate in the conference representing policy makers, regulators, entrepreneurs, administrators, researchers and technocrats.
  • Startups, young researchers and students will also attend the conference.

Rajnath Singh launches pan-India number 112 for women safety

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, launched a range of citizen safety initiatives in New Delhi. It includes the Emergency Response Support System, ERSS, for women safety in 16 states and Union territories.
  • Persons in distress can dial a pan-India number: 112. Under this system, all the states have to set up a dedicated Emergency Response Centre, ERC.
  • A citizen may Press power button on a smartphone thrice quickly to activate a panic call to ERC. In case of a feature phone, long press on number 5 or 9 on the phone keypad will activate the panic call.
  • The Home Minister also launched two portals - Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences and Safe City Implementation Monitoring Portal.

SIDBI plans bond issue to raise Rs. 300 crore

  • Government-owned Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will raise Rs. 300 crore through bonds over the next few months from a clutch of investors, including Tata group companies such as Tata Chemicals, Voltas, Titan and Trent.
  • The bonds will be unsecured and unlisted with a fixed coupon rate of 3% and with a tenure of five years.
  • The World Bank group, which is facilitating the fund-raising, said the money would be extended to micro finance institutions, which, in turn, would be disbursed to women entrepreneurs.
  • The actual lending rate for the borrower would not be more than 13%. These bonds would enable woman entrepreneurs in sectors such as agriculture, food processing, services and manufacturing to borrow Rs. 1lakh -Rs. 1.5 lakh.
  • SIDBI chairman and managing director Mohammad Mustafa

Squash Queen Nicol David to Retire at End of Season

  • Eight-time world champion Nicol David has announced that she will retire at the end of the 2018-19 squash season, bringing down the curtain on the Malaysian's illustrious career.
  • She is the most successful woman squash player of all time and spent an unprecedented nine years as world number one between 2006-2015.
  • She has also won five British Open titles, two Commonwealth Games gold medals, five Asian Games gold medals and three World Games gold medals in a glittering career spanning two decades.

Unemployment among educated people increased sharply in 2017-18: NSSO survey

  • According to the National Sample Survey Office's (NSSO) first periodic labour force survey, unemployment was much higher among educated people than those with lower level of education in 2017-18.
  • The number of skilled people in 2017-18 was double that in 2011-12 even though the people who got vocational training during the period was low.
  • Joblessness among trained persons was at 12.4 percent in 2017-18, compared to 5.9 percent in 2011-12. The national rate of unemployment stood at 6.1 percent,
  • Unemployment among educated women was twice that of the male population.

Union Cabinet approves continuation of PMAY to build nearly 2 crore houses for rural poor

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the implementation of Phase-2 of the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana - Gramin beyond March, 2019. Under this, government has set a target to construct one crore 95 lakh houses by 2022.
  • In Phase-2, the scheme will continue as per the existing norms of PMAY-G Phase-1, with a target of 60 lakh houses till 2019-20 involving financial implication of 76,500 crore rupees.
  • The left out rural households who are houseless will be provided pucca houses by 2022.