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Important Current Affairs 21th February 2019

AGREEMENTS AND MOUS:

Joint Statement between India and Namibia during President's visit to Namibia.

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for a MoU between India and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration.

•  MoU contains standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including promotion of exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.

• The MOU would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance/ capacity support for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and with Electoral Tribunal of Panama (ETP). It envisages cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration and providing a leg-up to it in conducting elections in their respective countries. This would also result in bolstering India's international relations.

India-OECD pact approved.

• The Union Cabinet approved the agreement between India and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

• It has been done for participating in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA).

• PISA will be conducted by the OECD in 2021. The agreement was signed on January 28, 2019.

GOVERNMENT SCHEME:

Greenpeace welcomes Centre's approval to launch rural solar scheme, KUSUM.

• The Centre's decision to allocate Rs 46,000 crores towards the rural solar scheme KUSUM, aimed to provide farmers with advanced technology to generate power, has been welcomed by environment experts who said it was essential to achieve the country's 100 GW solar target by 2022.

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday approved Rs 46,000 crore for KUSUM and rooftop solar schemes to promote adoption of solar power among farmers and residential sector.

• While KUSUM scheme for farmers has been allocated Rs 34,422 crore, rooftop solar program would get Rs 11,814 crore.

NATIONAL:

Union Cabinet Approves Implementation Of New Rural Livelihood Scheme.

• The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. on Tuesday approved the implementation of the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP).

• This project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be through loan assistance from the World Bank.

• The technical assistance provided by NRETP and the higher level interventions facilitated by the project will enhance the livelihoods promotion, access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.

Dearness Allowance (DA) For Government Employees, Pensioners Increased By 3%.

• The cabinet on Tuesday announced that it had approved a 3 per cent hike in Dearness Allowance or DA, a move that will benefit more than one crore central government employees and pensioners from January 1, 2019.

• The decision will cost the exchequer over Rs. 9,000 crore.

• Dearness allowance is a component of salary paid to employees to counter the effect of inflation.

• The 3 per cent increase will take the DA and Dearness Rate (DR) for pensioners to 12 per cent.

PM visits BHU in Varanasi; inaugurates Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Hospital.

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited BHU in Varanasi today. 

• He inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

• Governor of UP Shri Ram Naik, CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Odisha CM Launches KALIA Scholarship for Farmers’ Children.

• Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today unveiled KALIA Scholarship (KALIA Chhatra Brutti) at the Secretariat here for the children of the KALIA Scheme beneficiaries, who are studying and aspiring for technical and professional education.

• After taking the historic step towards transforming the economic standards of the farmers of Odisha through Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the State Government has come up with KALIA Scholarship in order to ensure human resource development among the farming families across the State.

• KALIA Scheme is first of its kind assistance mechanism for farmers in India and has been followed by others as well for its noble means, ideation and inclusiveness.

OBITUARIES:

Acclaimed Hindi Author Namvar Singh Dies At 92.

• Celebrated Hindi author and literary critic Namvar Singh died in the national capital late on Tuesday night. He was 92.

• Mr. Singh breathed his last at 11.51 pm at the All India Institute of Medical Science's Trauma Centre, family sources said.

• Hindi writer, senior journalist, editor and critic Om Thanvi posted about the author's demise on Facebook and said the cremation ceremony of Namvar Singh would take place at the Lodi crematorium on Wednesday afternoon.

DAY AND EVENT:

World Day of Social Justice 20 February.

• Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.

• We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

• For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labor Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.

APPOINTMENTS:

Anupama elected Astronomical Society of India president, first.

• Dr.G C Anupama has been elected president of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI), becoming the first woman to head the prime association of professional astronomers in the country.

• She was elected to the post in the ASI Executive Council elections for triennium 2019-22 held last week, according to the Society website.

• Presently the Dean and Senior Professor at the Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Anupama is in the Indian core team which is part of the international team engaged in establishing the thirty meter telescope (TMT) at cost of over USD 1 billion in USA (Hawaii).

AWARDS AND HONOUR:

NGO Yuwa won Laureus Sport.

• Yuwa, a Jharkhand-based NGO won the Laureus Sport for Good award.

• The NGO works for the girl empowerment.

• The NGO, founded by Americans Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler in 2009, runs a football program in rural Jharkhand covering 450 girls.

EXTRAS:

• A.K. Sharma has been re-appointed as the Director (Finance) of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for a period of 3 months.

• Saudi Arabia became the 73rd nation to sign the International Solar Alliance. ISA was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

• Nikhat Zareen and Meena Kumari Devi became the first Indian women boxers to win gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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India hosts World Robot Olympiad for the first time

The 13th edition of the World Robot Olympiad, which is being held in India for the first time, aims to find innovative solutions using robotics technology to reduce, manage and recycle waste. 
●    Organised by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in collaboration with the India STEM Foundation (ISF), the three-day international championship that begins today, will see participation by over 2000 students from 54 countries.
●    Students in the age group of 9 to 25 years, will be participating in four categories – regular category, WRO football, open category and advanced robotics challenge.
●    According to organisers, the theme ‘Rap the Scrap’ is in line with Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.
●    A science, technology, and education event, the Olympiad brings together young minds from across the world to develop their creativity and problem solving skills through challenging and educational robotics competition.
●    About 245 teams from India qualified for the National Championship held at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata and 27 teams qualified for WRO International Championship in different categories.
 

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First ICANN meet after transition of control from the US at Hyderabad

As India prepares to host a meeting of 3,000 internet stakeholders, the top gun of the organisation managing it all says his job would be "to make sure that the train leaves the station on time." 
●    Göran Marby, chief of ICANN, said the meeting will be "historic".
●    It will give way to a new method of doing things as multiple stakeholders decide issues of accountability, and new processes are put in place. 
●    Given the large number of internet users in India, the country is very important.
●    ICANN, which matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers, is hosting its 57th meeting in Hyderabad from November 3-7. 
●    The meeting is important because this is the first time the global community will come together post the US Department of Commerce giving up oversight of the internet. 
●    The internet will now operate in a multi-stakeholder model, which India also agreed to support last year. 

 
 

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New Delhi Declaration of AMCDRR 2016

The three-day Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016 came to an end with the adoption of the ‘New Delhi Declaration’ and the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’. 
●    The Closing ceremony was presided over by Union Home Minister ShriRajnath Singh.
●    This was the first Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) after the advent of the Sendai Framework for DRR (SFDRR).
●    The SFDRR (2015-2030) was adopted by at the Third World Conference on DRR at Sendai in Japan in March, 2015. 
●    The ‘New Delhi Declaration’ is a political statement spelling out the commitment of participating governments towards preventing and reducing disaster risk, and strengthening the resilience of communities, nations and the Asian region. 
●    Recognising the need to accelerate the implementation of global frameworks, it commits to a people-centred and whole-of-society approach towards DRR. 


 

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Asia's Largest Oil & Gas Event Petrotech begins


Stage is set for showcasing India's hydrocarbon strength and opportunities in this low oil price regime. 
●    The event will be organized under the aegis of Ministry of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. 
●    The biennial event is being supported by the Indian Oil and Gas industry.
●    The theme for this year is "Hydrocarbons to fuel the future: Choices and Challenges"
●    It aims to explore areas of growth in petroleum technology, exploration, drilling, production and processing, refining and other related issues.
●    The conference would be a platform for national and international experts from oil and gas industry to exchange views, share knowledge, expertise and experience across various segments.
 

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4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meet at Jaipur

India will host the 8th BRICS Summit, in Goa on 15-16 October 2016 during its Chairmanship of BRICS, which it assumed on 15 February 2016.
●    As the precursor the same, the 4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting was convened on 8 October, 2016 at Jaipur to further strengthen the collaboration amongst the BRICS countries in the areas of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
●    The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The Vice Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil, Mr. Álvaro Toubes Prata; Deputy Minister of Federation of Russia, Mr. Alexey Lopatia; Vice Minister of S&T of Peoples Republic of China, H.E.Mr. Jiang Hua; Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa H.E. Madam Naledi Pandor led their respective country delegations.
●    While welcoming the BRICS country Ministerial delegates, Dr Harshvardhan elucidated; “During our Chairmanship we are adopting a five-pronged approach, viz. Institution Building, Implementation, Integration, Innovation and Continuity. Our emphasis is on institution building, implementation of previous commitments, tapping synergies of the existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms, exploring some new areas of cooperation and maintaining continuity in the existing areas.”
●    In alignment with the theme of India’s Chairmanship - Building, Responsive Inclusive and Collective Solutions, the Jaipur Declaration was unanimously adopted by all the BRICS countries. The member countries resolved to intensify, diversify and institutionalize STI cooperation through the BRICS research & innovation initiative.
●    During India’s Chairmanship, significant progress have been achieved in joint knowledge creation in the areas of Photonics; Material Science & Nanotechnology; Biotechnology & Biomedical Sciences; Energy; Geospatial Technology; Astronomy; Prevention & Mitigation of Natural Disaster, Water and Solid State Lighting.
●    In fulfillment of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s special attention on engagement of youth, who comprises 65% of workforce of BRICS countries together, India hosted the 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave at Bengaluru and Hampi last week. More than 40 young scientists from BRICS countries participated in the event and discussed some exciting ideas in the field of affordable healthcare, energy solutions and computational intelligence. In order to stimulate and encourage young minds, BRICS Innovative Idea Prize for Young Scientists has been instituted.
●    In order to harness the innovativeness of the youth, India’s proposal to establish a BRICS Science and Technology driven Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnership Programme was agreed by all the member countries.


 

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Islamabad SAARC Meet Virtually Off : India Plus 3 more Nations Pull Out


After India said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to Islamabad for the regional SAARC summit in November, three other members - Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan - have also pulled out of the meet, isolating host Pakistan.
•    The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws. 
•    PM Modi has also reviewed the crucial Indus Waters Treaty, which divides resources from six rivers between India and Pakistan, saying "blood and water can't flow together."
•    Officials said India will now utilise much more of its share of water, which will eat into the surplus that Pakistan had been availing.
•    On Thursday, PM Modi has called for a deliberation on whether to downgrade Pakistan's status as a trading partner.
•    Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has led India's campaign against Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly, calling for the isolation of nations that export terror.
 

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27 September : World Tourism Day

 
World Tourism Day 2016 was observed across the world on 27 September 2016. The theme of the World Tourism Day 2016 is Tourism for All - promoting universal accessibility.
•    The official World Tourism Day 2016 celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand.
•    International tourist arrivals grew by 4.6 % in 2015 to 1184 million.
•    In 2015, international tourism generated 1.5 trillion US dollar in export earnings.
•    UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2016. 
•    By 2030, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion (UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030).
•    World Tourism Day is held annually on 27 September with purpose to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
 

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India to host 1st BRICS Young Scientists Conclave

The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, under the BRICS framework, is hosting a five day event where a group of about 50 young scientists/ researchers from BRICS countries are meeting in Bengaluru from 26-30th September, 2016. It would be organized and coordinated by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru. 
•    This BRICS Young Scientists Conclave assumes importance as it is taking place during India’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2016 under a focal theme of ‘Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’. The event shall be inaugurated by Prof K. Kasturirangan, former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and former Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 
•    The BRICS Young Scientist Forum (BRICS-YSF), under which the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave is being organised, was initiated at the 2nd BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March, 2015. The respective Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministries of BRICS countries are the lead coordinating organisations for this Forum on co-investment and co-ownership principles.
•    The Conclave aims at building a BRICS Innovation Corps – who individually or collectively have specialized capability to work on their novel scientific ideas and technological solutions which transform and accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizen of this region. It will pave way for creation of strong generation of S&T leadership that can accelerate change collectively.
•    Some of the lead speakers in the Conclave, among others from India and abroad, include Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Dr. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, Dr. K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member, NITI Ayog, and Dr. Baldev Raj, Director, NIAS.  Besides, the above the Conclave is hosting more than 20 distinguished persons from BRICS nations with extraordinary achievements through scientific research, innovation and techno-entrepreneurship.

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Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit - 2016 Begins


The Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit (IITIS) 2016 has begun in New Delhi after it was inaugurated by Union Finance Minster Arun Jaitley. 
•    Summit has been organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism in association with Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI). 
•    IITIS will provide a common platform for domestic and international investors. 
•    It will host presentations of investible properties, session on why invest in India, Micro of Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) in tourism sector. 
•    It will also host panel discussions on core infrastructure for tourism, session on start-ups, digital India, Swadesh Darshan, PRASAD and niche tourism products, B2B meetings. 
•    Summit will also have dedicated space for seminars, business to business (B2B) meetings and roundtables around focus themes. 
•    It will also see domestic investors, entertainment companies, global investors, helicopter services, infrastructure-developers, hoteliers, international associations, restaurateurs, tour and travel operators, venture capitalists, urban developers and civic amenity providers.

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