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Important Current Affairs 21st February 2021

NATIONAL

Hyderabad Recognised as ‘2020 Tree City of the World’

•Telangana’s capital, Hyderabad has been recognized as a 2020 Tree City of World, by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Arbor Day Foundation, for its commitment to growing and maintaining urban forests. Hyderabad is the only city from India to have been recognized as a Tree City, to date. With this recognition, it has joined a network of like-minded global cities that recognise the importance of trees in building healthy, resilient and happy cities.

•2020 Tree Cities of the world recognition is the second year of the programme, which features 120 cities from 63 countries. Most of the cities were from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

India successfully test fires Helina, Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missiles

•Defence Research and Development Organisation has successfully carried out joint user trials of indigenously developed Helina and Dhruvastra Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) from the Advanced Light Helicopter at the Pokhran deserts in Rajasthan. Helena is the Army version and Dhruvastra is the Air Force version of the ALH. The missile systems have been designed and developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

•The Helina and Dhruvastra are the third generation, “Lock-on-Before-Launch (LOBL)” fire and forget ATGMs that can engage targets both indirect hit mode as well as top attack mode.

•The missile systems have all-weather day-and-night capability.

•They can defeat battle tanks with conventional armour as well as with explosive reactive armour.

•It is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapons in the world.

SPORTS

Sri Lanka pacer Dhammika Prasad quits international cricket

•Sri Lanka fast bowler Dhammika Prasad has announced his retirement from international cricket. He represented Sri Lanka in 25 Tests and 24 ODIs, bagging 75 and 32 wickets respectively.

•He also played alone T20 International against Australia in 2011. Prasad last played a Test match in October 2015 against the West Indies.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Perseverance rover has successfully landed on Mars

•The NASA Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars after its 292.5 million-mile journey from Earth. The rover has been on a nearly 300 million-mile journey since it left Earth more than 6 months ago. Perseverance and her teams lived up to the namesake, overcoming the challenges of preparing for the journey’s final stages during a pandemic. The attitude control system is responsible for pointing the rover in the direction it needs to be and also helps figure out where the spacecraft is oriented in space.

•Indian-American named Dr Swati Mohan, who first confirmed that the rover had survived a particularly tricky plunge into the Martian atmosphere. Mohan, who successfully spearheaded the development of attitude control and the landing system for the rover, was among the team of scientists behind the historic mission.

Indian Navy Ship Pralaya Participates in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21

•Indian Naval Ship Pralaya reached Abu Dhabi in UAE to participate in the Naval Defence Exhibition (NAVDEX 21) and International Defence Exhibition (IDEX 21) from February 20 to 25, 2021. NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 is one of the leading international naval and defence exhibitions of the region. Participation of INS Pralaya will showcase the strengths of India’s indigenous shipbuilding, in line with the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’.

•It is the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels, built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited.

•The ship was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002 to perform a wide variety of surface warfare missions.

•The 56 m longship, displacing about 560 T is capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots.

•It is fitted with an impressive array of weapons and sensors, like 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close-range guns, chaff launchers and long-range surface to surface missiles.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India-Australia circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE)

•The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the valedictory function of the India Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE) via videoconferencing. A circular economy implies reusing waste back into the production cycle to make new products instead of wasting such materials with embedded resources.

•The I-ACE was jointly organized by Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, Government of India and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia. More than 200 participants in 39 teams from India and 33 teams from Australia took part.

•Innovation in packaging reducing packaging waste

•Innovation in food supply chains avoiding waste

•Creating opportunities for plastic waste reduction

•Recycling critical energy metals and e-waste

CSIR inks MoU with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote health research

•The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development, conduct and promotion of health research in India. Gates Foundation and CSIR will work together to identify opportunities to initiate scientific and technological collaborations. These will focus on developing and testing new preventions, therapies and interventions that can help to solve major health concerns that affect India and other developing countries.

•Genetic diseases that impact infant and neonatal mortality;

•New diagnostics and devices for infectious disease and environmental surveillance;

•Development of cost-effective processes for drug, vaccines, biologics, and diagnostics manufacturing;

•Novel microbiome-directed foods;

•Socio-economic impact of science and technological tools;

•Other areas of health and development.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Bhim Army’s Chandra Shekhar Azad named in TIME’s list

•Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad and five Indian-origin personalities have been featured in the 2021 TIME100 Next. TIME100 Next 2021 is the second edition of the annual list of Time magazine’s 100 ‘emerging leaders who are shaping the future.’

•Bhim Army is a Dalit rights organisation based in Uttar Pradesh to help Dalits escape poverty through education. It was founded by Satish Kumar, Vijay Ratan Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad in 2015.

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Important Current Affairs 20th February 2021

NATIONAL

Cabinet approves PLI scheme for telecom sector worth Rs 12,195 crore

• The Union Cabinet approved a Rs 12,195-crore Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for domestic manufacturing of telecom and networking products such as switches, routers, radio access network, wireless equipment and other IoT access devices. Through this decision, the government aims to offset the imports of telecom equipment worth more than Rs 50,000 crore and reinforce it with “Made in India” products both for domestic markets and exports.

• The support under the PLI scheme will be provided to companies manufacturers of specified telecom and networking products in India like Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON), base routers, Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS/ IPMPLS) and 5G/4G radios.

• The government will soon come up with a PLI scheme to encourage the production of laptops and tablet PCs.

Prime Minister launches ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ initiative in Assam

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually launched ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ initiative in Assam. He laid the foundation stone for the Dhubri Phulbari bridge. PM also perform the bhumi puja for the construction of Majuli Bridge in Assam. PM has announced the details stated that the landmark day in the development journey for Assam as Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative is going to be launched.

• Mahabahu-Brahmaputra initiative is going to be marked with the inauguration of the Ro-Pax vessel operations. The Ro-Pax vessel operations will be launched in between the Neamatighat & Majuli, Dhubri-Hatsingimari and North-South Guwahati. This initiative also includes the inauguration of the Inland Water Transport Terminal at Jogighopa. The initiative will also be marked with the inauguration of various tourist jetties at four locations in order to promote the river tourism and employment across the state.

Odisha Govt announced Development Package for Maa Samaleswari Shrine

• The state government of Odisha, under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has launched the development work for the SAMALEI Project (Samaleswari Temple Area Management and Local Economy Initiatives), to offer the divine experience to tourists & devotees. The project involves the development of 108 acres of land in & around the 16th-century shrine of Maa Samaleswari, the presiding deity of western Odisha.

• Odisha Government has announced a package of Rs 200-crore for 2021-22 fiscal for the implementation of the project. The project will be implemented under MoSarkar5T and will focus on the beautification of the temple & economic development of local people. It will include the development of amenities for devotees inside the 12-acre temple premises and development of four tall heritage welcome gates.

‘Snakepedia’ mobile app launched in Kerala

• A team of scientists, doctors and photographers in Kerala have launched a mobile application named “Snakepedia”, that will present all relevant information on snakes, to help the public as well as doctors in treating snake bites.

• The main aim of the app is to help the public identify snakes, avail proper treatment on time for snakebites, bust myths about snakes, and protect snakes as well as snakebite victims. The android mobile application documents information on snakes with the help of pictures, infographics and podcasts and analyses its first aid, treatment, myths and superstitions.

SPORTS

Manika Batra Wins Singles Title at 82nd National Table Tennis Championship

• India’s top-ranked table tennis player Manika Batra beat Reeth Rishya, 4-2, in the women’s singles final, to win the 82nd Senior National Table Tennis Championship, at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, Haryana.

• It was Manika’s second Nationals title. She won her maiden national title in 2015 in Hyderabad.

Chris Morris becomes IPL’s most expensive player

• Former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) superstar and South African all-rounder Chris Morris shattered all records at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 auction in Chennai. Rajasthan Royals went all-out for the South African all-rounder Morris, buying him for a whopping INR 16.25 crore.

• Morris, who was declared surplus to requirement by the Virat Kohli-led side after the conclusion of the IPL 2020 last year, turned out to be the most expensive player bought in the history of the cash-rich tournament.

OBITUARY

Former Union Minister Captain Satish Sharma passes away

• Veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Captain Satish Sharma passed away. He served as the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1993 to 1996 in the Narasimha Rao government.

• Captain Satish Sharma was a close aide of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was a three-time Lok Sabha MP, representing Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies and Rajya Sabha member for three terms representing the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Ajai Malhotra becomes first Indian chairperson at UNHRC advisory

• Ajai Malhotra became the first Indian to be elected as the Chairperson of the United Nations Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council. He has been on the Indian team negotiating issues such as biological diversity, climate change, desertification, education, energy, forestry, health, human rights, human settlements, intellectual property, international law, labour, ozone depletion, sustainable development and trade.

• Malhotra first joined the Indian Foreign Services in 1977. Malhotra has previously served as ambassador to Russia, Kuwait, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York and Romania.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Day of Social Justice observed globally on 20th February

• World Day of Social Justice is celebrated annually all over the world on 20 February. The International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on 10 June 2008. This year theme of World Day of Social Justice is“A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy”.

• Recognize the need to promote and tackle issues of social justice such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.

• Focus on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.

• Encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication.

• 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.

World Pangolin Day 2021: 20 February

• World Pangolin Day is celebrated on the “Third Saturday of February” every year. In 2021, the annual World Pangolin Day is being celebrated on 20 February 2020. It marks the 10th edition of the event.

• The day aims to raise awareness about these unique mammals and speed up conservation efforts. Pangolin numbers are rapidly declining in Asia and Africa.

6th Soil Health Card Day Observed on 19 February 2021

• Every year India observes the Soil Health Card Day on 19 February to commemorate the launch of the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme, and create awareness about the benefits of the scheme. 2021 marks the sixth year of the launch of the SHC Scheme. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme on 19th February 2015 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan.

• The scheme aims at issuing soil health cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in the soil. The scheme ensures additional income to farmers by an increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI permits residents to make remittances to IFSCs under LRS

• The Reserve Bank of India has permitted resident individuals to make remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) to International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) in the country. The decision of the RBI is aimed at deepening the financial markets in the IFSCs and providing an opportunity for resident individuals to diversify their portfolios. The RBI has reviewed the extant guidelines on LRS and decided to permit resident individuals to make remittances under LRS to IFSCs set up in India under the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005.

• The remittance shall be made only for making investments in IFSCs in securities, other than those issued by entities/companies resident (outside IFSC) in India. Any funds lying idle in the account for a period up to 15 days from the date of its receipt into the account shall be immediately repatriated to domestic INR account of the investor in India.

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Important Current Affairs 19th February 2021

NATIONAL

Hyundai Develops Ultimate Mobility Vehicle ‘TIGER X-1’

• Hyundai Motor Company has launched a Transformer-like robocar dubbed as TIGER X-1, that can travel over the most challenging terrains on the Earth as well as on other planets. TIGER stands for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot, and the X-1 denotes its experimental status.

• The Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) TIGER is being developed by Hyundai in partnership with Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar.

• Tiger is designed as a battery-electric vehicle, comprising of a small pod with four wheels on extendable legs. it will be able to operate as either a four-wheel-drive vehicle or four-legged walking robot.

• The vehicle is unscrewed, meaning that its, main use will be to carry payloads over remote and inaccessible locations, and not the people.

• It will help in search and rescue, scientific research, military, or exploratory missions (even on new planets).

HCL Tech inks pact with IIT Kanpur to build up competence in cybersecurity

• HCL Technologies has inked an agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) to collaborate in the area of cybersecurity. As part of the pact, the IT company will work with C3iHub, a specialised cybersecurity research centre at IITK. This collaboration will bring together the country’s brightest minds, advanced research capabilities and global resources to develop advanced solutions in the area of cybersecurity.

• HCL and IITK will bring in real-world industry exposure to carry out joint initiatives and research.

• The teams will develop a security framework and solutions for cybersecurity challenges in current and future operational technologies as one of the first areas of interest.

• They will also work together to discover and manage cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and risks for critical infrastructure.

Mamata Banerjee launches ‘Maa’ scheme to provide meals at Rs 5

• West Bengal government launched “Maa” canteens for providing subsidised cooked meals for the poor and the destitute at a nominal cost of ₹5. The govt will give a subsidy of ₹15 and people have to pay ₹5. The kitchen will run by Self-Help Groups (SHG). The government allocated ₹ 100 crores for this project

• The canteens will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day. People will get a plate of rice, dal, a vegetable and egg curry. This new initiative is for common people. Though we give free rations there is still a huge demand for cooked food. Therefore, we are starting these community kitchens.

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy conferred SKOCH Chief Minister of the Year Award

• The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has been conferred the Skoch Chief Minister of the Year Award. The Award has been presented to the CM by Chairman, Skoch Group, Sameer Kochhar personally at Tadepalli in Andhra Pradesh. The award selection was based on a study of project-level outcomes in various States.

• Similarly, initiatives have been taken across the government to respond to COVID-19 and have shown desirable outcomes. All the above and more is evident in a year-long study of 123 projects from across sectors in Andhra Pradesh. The State has taken several revolutionary measures in the past two years to make governance more efficient and transparent. Innovative measures have been taken across sectors, the credit for which goes to the Chief Minister.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launches Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan

• The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan under Jal Jeevan Mission- Urban. The Pilot Pey Jal Survekshan has been launched in 10 cities, which are Agra, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Churu, Kochi, Madurai, Patiala, Rohtak, Surat and Tumkur. The motive of the Jal Jeevan Mission Urban is to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all 4,378 statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal – 6.

• To ascertain the equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality of water through a challenging process.

SPORTS

Kings XI Punjab renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of IPL auction

• The IPL Franchise, Kings XI Punjab has formally been renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of the Indian Premier League auction. The new brand name and logo of the team was officially released by the management.

• The Punjab-based IPL franchise ‘Punjab Kings‘ is co-owned by Bollywood actress Preity Zinta, along with businessman Ness Wadia, Mohit Burman and Karn Paul. The side is currently led by batsman KL Rahul, with former Indian captain Anil Kumble as its head coach.

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis retires from Test cricket

• Former captain of South Africa, Faf du Plessis has announced his retirement from Test cricket. The 36-year-old made his Test debut in November 2012 and played a total of 69 games in the longest format.

• He scored 4163 runs in his Test career, at an average of 40.02, with 10 centuries and 21 fifties.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigns

• The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia has announced his resignation. The 45-year-old Gakharia served as the Prime Minister from 8 September 2019 to 18 February 2021.

• He was stepping down because of disagreements within his own team over the decision to arrest Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement opposition party.

Kiran Bedi Removed As Puducherry Lt Governor

• Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, has been removed from the top position. Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Governor of Telangana, has been given additional charge as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry till a permanent replacement will be announced.

• The development comes in the backdrop of a major shake-up in the Puducherry Assembly after several Congress legislators resigned ahead of the Assembly elections due this year.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Thaawarchand Gehlot Releases 3rd Edition of Indian Sign Language Dictionary

• The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot released the “3rd edition of the Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary, in a virtual event. The 3rd edition of the ISL dictionary contains a total of 10,000 terms. These include the 6000 terms of the first and second edition of the dictionary.

• The terms are of everyday use from academic terms, legal & administrative terms, medical terms, technical terms and agricultural terms.

• The Dictionary has been developed by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

• The 1st edition of the ISL Dictionary was launched on 23 March 2018 with 3000 terms.

• The 2nd edition was launched on 27th February 2019, with 6000 terms (including earlier 3000 terms).

Award winning Author Irwin Allan Sealy’s new novel ‘ASOCA’

• Prizewinning writer Irwin Allan Sealy’s new novel ‘ASOCA: A Sutra’, an imagined memoir of Ashoka The Great. The novel will be presented as an imagined memoir of Ashoka The Great, the emperor who ruled most of the Indian Subcontinent and played a pivotal role in the spread of Buddhism from India to other parts of Asia in the 3rd century BC. It will be published by Penguin Random House India.

• Earlier, Penguin had published the thirtieth-anniversary edition of Sealy’s critically acclaimed debut novel The Trotter-Nama and this is the second book by the author to be published by PRH. This book will be released under Penguin’s Viking imprint in July 2021.

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Important Current Affairs 18th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

China Overtakes the US as Largest Trading Partner of European Union

• The People’s Republic of China has overtaken the United States (US) as the biggest trading partner of the European Union (EU) in 2020, according to the data by the European Union statistics agency, Eurostat. Britain, which left the European Union in 2020, was the third-largest trading partner for the bloc, behind China and the United States.

• The trade volume of the EU with China reached 586 billion euros ($711 billion) in 2020, compared to 555 billion euros ($673 billion) for the US. Bilateral trade with the UK reached 444.7 billion euros.

• The EU exports to China rose by 2.2 per cent to 202.5 billion euros while imports from China increased by 5.6 per cent to 383.5 billion euros.

• Similarly, EU exports to the United States fell by 13.2 per cent in the same period and imports by 8.2 per cent.

• Exports to the UK fell by 13.2 per cent, while imports dropped by 13.9 per cent.

‘Pahela Phagun’ spring festival celebrated in Bangladesh

• The first day of the spring called ‘Pahela Phagun’ was celebrated in Dhaka, Bangladesh despite the continued shadow of Corona pandemic in the country. Cultural organisations held programmes at different venues in the city to herald the beginning of the spring. Programmes were held at the Suhrawardy Udyan, Nandan Manch of Shilpakala Academy and several other locations.

• The Jatiya Basanta Utsab Udjapan Parishad organized the programme at the Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka. Young women wearing yellow saris and youth dressed in ‘Punjabis’ took part in the festivity. The programme featured dance and musical performances. The traditional programme of ‘Basanta Utsab’ at the Fine Arts faculty in Dhaka university was cancelled since educational institutions have been closed till Feb. 28 by the government due to the Corona pandemic.

NATIONAL

IIT Bombay launches fundraising campaign ‘Cherish IIT Bombay 2021’

• IIT Bombay has launched its first-ever annual fundraising campaign in India, Cherish IIT Bombay 2021. As per information shared by the IIT, the funds will be used for the creation of world-class laboratory complexes, modernization of lecture halls and continuation of awards to attract and retain faculty.

• The donations made to IIT Bombay by corporate bodies and individuals are 100% tax-deductible under section 80G of the Indian Income Tax Act.

Centre Launches new Instant Messaging platform ‘Sandes’

• The National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, has launched an instant messaging platform called “Sandes”. Similar to WhatsApp, the new government instant messaging systems (GIMS) platform can be used for all kinds of communications by anyone using a mobile number or email id.

• The need to build a home-grown messaging platform was felt by the government to ensure secure communication between people as they worked from home, following the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

• The Sandes app is also a part of the government strategy to encourage the use of India-made software so as to build an ecosystem of indigenously developed products.

IIT Madras-incubated Pi Beam launches PiMo e-bike

• An IIT Madras-Incubated start-up Pi Beam Electric has recently launched a sustainable electric two-wheeler, dubbed as PiMo. The utility e-bike has been developed for personal and commercial use. It does not require a licence or registration.

• The cost of the electric two-wheeler has been fixed at Rs. 30, 000.

• It eliminates fuel costs as it runs on battery. The electric vehicle offers ‘Battery Swapping’, meaning that the drained battery can be exchanged for a fully charged one at designated locations.

• The battery can charge faster than a smartphone and comes with a range of 50 km.

• Pi Beam aims to sell 10,000 vehicles by the end of the financial year 2021-22.

Dharmendra Pradhan Participates in 11th IEA, IEF, OPEC Symposium

• The 11th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks was held virtually on February 17, 2021, under the patronage of the Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud. From India, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, participated in the symposium.

• The trilateral symposium discussed the long-term outlooks of key producer and consumer countries, apart from the comparative analysis of short, medium, and long-term energy outlooks that OPEC and the IEA published in 2020.

India joins Iran-Russia’s two-day navy exercise

• India joined Iran and Russia in the naval exercise dubbed as “Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021”, which kicked-off in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. The Chinese navy will also join the exercise. The purpose of the drill is to enhance the security of international maritime trade, confront maritime piracy and terrorism, and exchange information.

• The drill will cover an area of 17,000 square kilometres (6,500 square miles).

• It will include shooting at sea and air targets and liberating hijacked ships, as well as search and rescue and anti-piracy operations.

• The exercise ‘Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt’ is so flexible that any country could join if they wish to do so.

OBITUARY

Indo-Pak War Veteran retired Major General BK Mahapatra passes away

• War veteran Major General (retired) Basant Kumar Mahapatra, who had participated in major battles including the 1962 Indo-China war, and 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan war, has passed away.

• Hailing from Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Mahapatra was commissioned into armoured corps (Tanks) of the Indian Army as a Combat Officer and was popularly known as ‘Tank Man’. He was conferred with the prestigious Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).

Former Bihar-Jharkhand Governor & Jurist M Rama Jois, passes away

• Noted jurist and a former Governor of Bihar and Jharkhand, Justice (Retd.) M. Rama Jois has passed away.

• The former Rajya Sabha MP, had also served as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was also a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Assam government appoints Hima Das as DSP

• Star sprinter Hima Das has been appointed as a Deputy Superintendent of Police by the Assam government. The 21-year-old from Assam, known as ‘Dhing Express’ referring to the town near her native village, is currently training at the NIS-Patiala and will be aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as the athletics calendar starts in a few days.

• The reigning world junior 400m champion, who won a silver in women’s 400m in the 2018 Asian Games, was also part of the gold-winning women’s 400m relay and mixed 400m relay quartets in the quadrennial event in Jakarta.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Theodore Baskaran won Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award 2020

• S. Theodore Baskaran who is a writer, a historian, a naturalist and an activist has won the Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award, 2020. The award was instituted by the Sanctuary Nature Foundation. Theodore Baskaran was chosen for the award in the light of his dedication to the wildlife conservation. He won the award for his writing prowess in English and Tamil contributing towards the conservation discourse. He was also chosen for the award in the backdrop of inspiring the young naturalists.

• Some of his books in the English language include- Dance of the Sarus: Essays of a Wandering Naturalist; Book of Indian Dogs and A Day with the Shama: Essays on Nature.

• Theodore is of the view that any conservation initiative should be in the local language in order to gain momentum as a people’s movement. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award (Iyal Virudhu) for his writing on nature in Tamil. The award was given by the Canada Literary Garden in the year 2014 in Toronto.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Lombard partners with Flipkart to offer ‘Hospicash’ insurance

• The e-commerce company Flipkart has partnered with ICICI Lombard to offer its customers the ‘Group SafeGuard’ insurance, a group health insurance policy. The ‘Group SafeGuard’ comes with daily cash benefits starting from Rs 500, and ‘Hospicash’ benefit for Flipkart consumers.

• The product will allow consumers to avail a payout for each day of hospitalisation.

• The fixed daily amount will enable consumers to pay for incidental medical or emergency expenses.

• The insurance is affordably priced, paperless, and flexible; covering both accidental hospitalisations or planned surgeries/treatment.

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Important Current Affairs 17th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Preeti Sinha appointed to head United Nations Capital Development Fund

• The UN Capital Development Fund has appointed Indian-origin investment and development banker Preeti Sinha as its Executive Secretary, the highest leadership rank in the institution. She succeeds Judith Karl. He will work with a focus on providing micro-finance assistance to women, youth, small and medium-sized enterprises in under-served communities.

• The New York-based United Nations Capital Development Fund is an autonomous UN organization affiliated with UNDP. It was established in 1966.

• The original mandate of UNCDF: to assist developing countries in the development of their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of grants and loans.

• The organisation provides micro-finance access to the 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of the world, to help them unlock the full potential of public and private finance.

NATIONAL

Rajnath Singh launches e-Chhawani portal for online civic services to Cantt Boards

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently launched an online portal ‘e-Chhawani’ and mobile app, to facilitate ‘ease of living’ and ‘ease of doing’ for the residents of the Cantonment Boards across the country. The ‘e-Chhawani’ portal will provide online municipal services to more than 20 lakh citizens across all 62 Cantonment Boards of India while sitting at home.

• The portal can be accessed at https://echhawani.gov.in/

• The residents of cantonment areas can register their complaints regarding civic issues and even get their documents like trade licence, sewerage connectivity applications through the portal

• Jointly been developed by eGov Foundation, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE), and National Informatics Centre (NIC).

• A cantonment board is a civic administration body in India under control of the Ministry of Defence. It takes care of mandatory duties such as the provision of public health, water supply, sanitation, primary education, and street lighting etc.

Kanchoth festival celebrated across J&K's Chenab valley

• The ancient Kanchoth festival, a symbol of ancient Nag culture, was observed with religious fervour and gaiety across Chenab valley region of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.

• The festival is celebrated by locals, mainly Nag followers who believe that on this day of Gouri Tritiya, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married and the latter insisted on a throne made of snow as her wedding gift.

Odisha CM Lays Foundation of India’s Largest Hockey Stadium named

• Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of India's largest hockey stadium, Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium, at Rourkela in Sundergarh district.

• Announcing that the Rourkela stadium will be named after freedom fighter Birsa Munda, the proposed stadium is going to be the most modern field hockey facility designed to host the Hockey World Cup 2023 tournament, said Patnaik

• The Stadium will be a new benchmark in global stadium design for hockey, offering one of the finest spectator experiences in the world and, with a chaired seated capacity exceeding 20,000, will become the largest Hockey Stadium in India.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren nod to HC bench at Dumka

• Chief Minister Hemant Soren has approved the proposal related to the formation of a bench of Jharkhand High Court in Dumka district. It is to be known that apart from the main bench in Ranchi of Jharkhand High Court, no bench is functioning in any district of the State.

• With regard to the establishment of the bench of Jharkhand High Court in Dumka district, the then Chief Secretary had directed the building construction department to mark the land. Apart from this, a letter was sent by the Law Department to the Supreme Court and Union Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the jurisdiction of the bench.

Army joins hands with Pune-based foundation to provide quality education in J-K

• Through this MoU, Army will get financial assistance for Army Goodwill Schools and Pariwar School Society.

• Indian Army's Chinar Corps on Monday entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) with a Pune-based Indrani Balan Foundation to provide better education facilities to the youths of Kashmir valley.

Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates Gender Park campus in Kozhikode

• Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the Gender Park campus in Kozhikode on Sunday. It is an initiative to work towards gender equality and empowerment in the state.

• The Gender Park campus is a 24-acre space that will act as a convergence centre for various projects, cultural and academic engagements.

• Headquartered in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, with its main campus at Kozhikode, the Gender Park drives policy, research, economic and social initiatives that work for a just and equal society.

• It found standing under the Department of Social Justice and is the first space of its kind in the world. Currently working under the Department of Women and Child Development, it aims to become a premier convergence point for gender-related activities.

• The Gender Park campus is a 24-acre space that will act as a convergence centre for various projects, cultural and academic engagements. The park includes a gender museum, library, convention centre and amphitheater.

Delhi Police receives Best Marching Contingent Trophy-2021

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh presented the trophies of best marching contingents of the Republic Day Parade 2021 in New Delhi on February 15, 2021. Jat Regimental Centre bagged the trophy of best marching contingent among the Tri-Services while Delhi Police was adjudged as the best marching contingent among the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and other auxiliary services.

• Brigadier Adarsh K Butail and Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Virendra received the trophy on behalf of the Jat Regimental Centre and Special Commissioner of Police Robin Hibu and Assistant Commissioner of Police Vivek Bhagat, Commander received the trophy on behalf of Delhi Police. The two contingents were adjudged on the basis of assessment by two panels of judges.

SPORTS

Naman Ojha announces retirement from all forms of cricket

• Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha has announced his retirement, from all formats of cricket. He made his first-class debut for Madhya Pradesh in 2000-01. The 37-year-old from Madhya Pradesh holds the record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in the Ranji Trophy.

• He has also represented India in all three formats, featuring in one Test, one ODI and two T20 Internationals.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX launches 19th Starlink mission, misses booster landing

• SpaceX successfully launched 60 more Starlink satellites on February 15 as part of 19th Starlink mission but failed to land Falcon 9 rocket's reusable first-stage booster.

• SpaceX did not immediately disclose what occurred during the failed landing. Earlier, SpaceX had disclosed that its Starlink satellite internet service has "over 10,000 users in the US and abroad".

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Ajay Mathur elected new DG at special assembly of ISA

• The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has announced Dr Ajay Mathur as its new Director-General following his election at the first special assembly of ISA members. Dr Mathur replaces Mr Upendra Tripathy, who has served as Director-General since the ISA was founded in 2015.

• ISA accelerate the demand for and use of safe, sustainable, and affordable solar energy for all. It aims to mobilize over $1 trillion USD of investment into solar projects by 2030 through focused advocacy, policy and regulatory support, capacity building, and overcoming perceived investment barriers.

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Important Current Affairs 16th February 2021

NATIONAL

Prime Minister hands over indigenous Arjun Mk-1A tank to Army

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handed over the indigenous main battle tank Arjun Mk-1A to the Army in a function at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane received the model of the tank, designed and developed by Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), a unit of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

• A tank made in Tamil Nadu will be used in our northern borders to keep the nation safe. This showcases India’s united spirit — Bharat’s Ekta Darshan,”. The indent for 118 of these tanks would be placed shortly with the Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) at Avadi near Chennai.

Gadkari launches India's first CNG Tractor

• Union road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari has launched India’s first-ever diesel tractor, converted to a much cleaner (compressed natural gas) CNG variant. With this, farmers will be able to save more than ₹1 trillion annually on fuel cost, which will help them to improve their livelihood.

• This conversion is jointly done by Rawmatt Techno Solutions and Tomasetto Achille India. The CNG tractor will help farmers to increase their income, by lowering costs and help to create job opportunities in rural India.

• The farmers can save up to 50 per cent on the fuel cost as the current Diesel prices are around 77 rupees per litre whereas CNG is only 42 rupees per kilogram.

• The conversion from diesel to CNG will be beneficial as it is a clean fuel with the lowest carbon and pollutant content. It is also economical as it has zero lead and is non-corrosive, non-dilutive and non-contaminating which helps in increasing the life of the engine.

Puducherry launches campaign to become Covid-free by February 28

• In Puducherry, a campaign has been launched titled “Zero Covid by Feb28” to ensure that there are no COVID-19 cases by the end of February 2021, in the union territory. The overall caseload in Puducherry was 39,448 while 38,533 had recovered so far, leaving 258 active cases.

• Under the campaign, all those who had come into contact with people infected with coronavirus would be identified and provided treatment, so that the further spread of the pathogen could be prevented.

Famous Mandu Festival Begins in Madhya Pradesh

• The three-day famous “Mandu Festival” began at the historic town of Mandu in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh on February 13, 2021. The festival will culminate on February 15, 2021. The festival is organised by the state government of Madhya Pradesh to showcase each and every aspect of the ancient Mandu city, ranging from food, music, history & heritage, art & craft etc.

• During the festival, the state culture and tourism minister Usha Thakur inaugurated the newly constructed Dino Adventure Park and Fossils Museum in Mandu and construction of Astro Park building at a cost of Rs 59 lakh. The Dinosaur Park is the first modern fossil park in India which has 24 eggs and other fossils of dinosaurs on display.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Indian astronomers detect huge optical flare in black hole ‘BL Lacertae’

• Indian astronomers have reported one of the strongest flares from a feeding supermassive black hole or blazar called BL Lacertae, analysis of which can help trace the mass of the black hole and the source of this emission, the Department of Science and Technology said.

• Blazars or feeding supermassive black holes in the heart of distant galaxies receive a lot of attention from the astronomical community because of their complicated emission mechanism.

India’s Homegrown App MapMyIndia Ties Up With ISRO

• India’s homegrown app MapMyIndia ties up with ISRO to build an alternative to Google Maps. The agreement between ISRO and MapmyIndia is suggested to become an alternative to Google maps and similar platforms. The collaboration with MapMyIndia will turn out to be a benefit for users because it will use digital maps of MapmyIndia and satellite imagery and earth observation data of ISRO.

• According to this collaboration the mapping data along with the information regarding pollution, agricultural output, weather, land-use changes, flood and several disasters will be visible to the users. Rohan Verma, CEO of MapmyIndia, called the agreement a path-breaking milestone with the aim of fulfilling the objective of Atamanirbhar Bharat.

About the app:

• The app will benefit the Indians because it will ensure the maps according to the true sovereignty of India while depicting the Indian borders as per the Indian government. The Department of Space signed an MoU with CE Info Systems Private Limited, a geospatial technology company owned by MapmyIndia.

• The most exhaustive digital map database of the country was created indigenously over the last 25 years by MapmyIndia covers 7.5 lakh Indian villages, 7500+ cities at the building and the street level which are connected through a road network of almost 63 lakh kilometres.

• ISRO generates earth observations and satellite imagery through its satellite constellation. ISRO will be more responsive in terms of satellite imagery needed by the Indians, required especially during crises and disasters.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Justice Puligoru Venkata Sanjay Kumar sworn-in as Chief Justice of Manipur HC

• Justice Puligoru Venkata Sanjay Kumar has been sworn-in as the Chief Justice of Manipur High Court at Raj Bhavan, Imphal.

• He was appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court of Manipur by the President of India. Prior to this, he served as a Judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Meghna Pant's new book "The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News"

• Award-winning writer, journalist and speaker, Meghna Pant has penned a new book "The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News". The book will be released in April 2021, and soon be seen as a major motion picture under the title Badnam Ladoo.

• The book is about a small-town woman, Ladoo, who scandalizes her conservative family when she decides to use a sperm donor to have a baby while continuing to look for Mr Right. This book takes a humorous and light approach to address an important issue, relevant to every woman in the world, without being belligerent or pedantic.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI constitues 8-member expert panel for strenthening Urban Co-operative Banks

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted an eight-member expert committee on Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks (UCBs) to examine issues and suggest a road map for strengthening the sector. The committee will be chaired by the former RBI Deputy Governor N. S. Vishwanathan.

Role of the Committee

• Assess the regulatory measures taken by the RBI and other authorities in respect of UCBs and their impact over the last five years to identify key constraints and enablers in fulfilment of their socio-economic objective.

• Review the current regulatory approach and recommend suitable measures to strengthen the sector.

• Suggest effective measures for faster rehabilitation and resolution of UCBs and assess the potential for consolidation in the sector

Other members

• Harsh Kumar Bhanwala: Former Chairman of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) ,

• Mukund Chitale: Chartered Accountant

• NC Muniyappa and RN Joshi: retired Indian Administrative Service officers

• MS Sriram: IIM Bengaluru Professor

• Jyotindra Mehta: President of the National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies

• Neeraj Nigam: Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Department of Regulation, RBI

ICICI Lombard launches Corporate India Risk Index

• Private general insurer ICICI Lombard has launched the ‘Corporate India Risk Index’. This is intended to be a unified, standardised corporate risk index that spans industries and companies. This will help companies understand the level of risk that their business is facing and also assist in developing a successful risk aversion plan.

• It has worked with consulting firm Frost and Sullivan to develop the risk measurement tool.

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Important Current Affairs 15th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

India accounts for 11 per cent of global death in road accidents: World Bank

• With only 1 per cent of the world's vehicles, India accounts for 11 per cent of the global death in road accidents, the highest in the world, according to a report by the World Bank.

• The country accounts for about 4.5 lakh road crashes per annum, in which 1.5 lakh people die.

• "India tops the world in road crash deaths and injuries. It has 1 per cent of the world's vehicles but accounts for 11 per cent of all road crash deaths, witnessing 53 road crashes every hour; killing 1 person every 4 minutes," the report said.

• In the last decade, 13 lakh people died and another 50 lakh got injured on Indian roads, it said.

US-Russia Extends New START Arms Reduction Treaty

• The United States has extended the "New START" nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia for a period of five years. The New START, which stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation.

• The new strategic arms reduction treaty was formally signed on April 8, 2010, and after ratification, entered into force on 5 February 2011. The New START treaty was set to expire on February 5, 2021, but both the parties have further extended it for five more years, till February 2026.

NATIONAL

11th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav to be inaugurated at Cooch Behar

• The Governor of West Bengal Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar in the presence of Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel will inaugurate the 11th Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav on 14th February, 2021 at Cooch Behar Palace at Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

• The Ministry of Culture is mandated with the task of preservation, promotion and propagation of Indian Culture, both tangible and intangible which inter-alia includes traditional folk dances and art forms, performing arts and rich tribal heritage. It organizes cultural programs, festivals and theatrical performances to fulfill this mandate.

PM launches five developmental projects in Kerala, several crores worth projects in Tamil Nadu

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Sunday and inaugurated a slew of projects including the extension of Chennai Metro Rail Phase 1 and a Discovery Campus for IIT Madras.  Mr. Modi also launched five projects in Kerala that would energise the growth projectory of the country.

• In Kerala, the Prime Minister dedicated to nation, the Propylene Derivative Petrochemical Project of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), launched the Ro-Ro vessels to be operated between Bolghatty and Willingdon Island and inaugurated the Sagarika International Cruise Terminal.

Skill ministry launches fellowship programme in partnership with IIMs

• The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has launched the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) programme in partnership with nine Indian Institutes’ of Management (IIM) across India. Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey chaired the event on ‘Transforming skilling through strategic partnerships under SANKALP’ and rolled out the MGNF and other initiatives.

• The two-year government-funded programme has been launched under the World Bank loan assisted programme SANKALP (Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion).

• The selected fellows under the programme will be given a stipend of about Rs 50,000 per month during the first year and Rs 60,000 per month during the second year.

• Initially, the fellows will be imparted training by the nine top IIMs of the country and after that, the fellows will work on strengthening the District Skill Committees and the District Skill administration.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Tata Motors appoints Marc Llistosella as new CEO & MD

• Tata Motors Limited has appointed Marc Llistosella as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD). The appointment of Llistosella will be effective from July 1, 2021.

• He will replace current CEO & MD of Tata Motors, Guenter Butschek, who had expressed his desire to relocate to Germany at the end of the contract for personal reasons. Llistosella is the former president and CEO of Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. and head of Daimler Trucks in Asia.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

ISRO announces BHUVAN, option to Google Maps

• Indian Space Research Organisation and location and navigation technology solutions provider MapmyIndia announced an initiative to partner together to offer India's best, and fully indigenous, mapping portal, and geospatial services.

• It combines the power of MapmyIndia's digital maps and technologies with ISRO's catalogue of satellite imagery and earth observation data, according to MapmyIndia's CEO and Excutive Director, Rohan Verma.

• He termed it a path-breaking milestone in India's journey towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat, wherein Indian users would not be dependent on foreign organisations for maps, navigation, and geospatial services, and leverage made-in-India solutions instead.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

SERB announces Women Excellence Award 2021 in Science on the International Day of Women

• The SERB Women Excellence Award that has been conferred on them provides a grant of Rs. 15 lakhs for a period of three years to the awardees to pursue their research ideas.

• The award given by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) supporting basic research in the frontier areas of science and engineering, was launched in the year 2013. It is a one-time award given to women scientists below 40 years of age who have received recognition from any one or more of the National Academies such as Young Scientist Medal, Young Associateship, etc.

• The women scientists selected for the awards include Dr. Shobhna Kapoor, Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, working in the area of Chemical Biology with expertise in ‘Host-Pathogen Interactions and Membrane Biology, Chemical Biology and Biophysics’.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Peter Mukerjea pens memoir ‘Starstruck: Confessions of a TV Executive’

• Former media baron Peter Mukerjea has come out with his memoir ‘Starstruck: Confessions of a TV executive’. The book is presented as a recollection of his experiences in the satellite television industry in India and the changes it has gone through over the years.

• Mukerjea is the former chief executive of Star India. Through this book, he has shared his journey, to highlight and showcase the plenty of mistakes made and the plenty of lessons learnt over almost three decades. It must be remembered that Mukerjea was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 2015 in connection with the Sheena Bora murder case.

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Important Current Affairs 14th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Mario Draghi sworn in as prime minister of Italy

• The former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has been sworn in as Italy’s prime minister at the head of a unity government called on to confront the coronavirus crisis and economic slump.

• Draghi, a respected figure at home and internationally, managed to convince almost all of the country’s main parties to support his government, with leaders from the far-right League and populist Five Star Movement (M5S) adopting more moderate, pro-European tones in recent days.

India Gifts 2000 Tonnes Of Rice To Syria To Strengthen Food Security

• India has gifted 2000 metric tonnes of rice to Syria with an aim to strengthen food security in the middle eastern country.

• The first consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice was handed over by India Ambassador to Syria, Hifzur Rahman to the Minister of Local Administration and Head of Supreme Relief Committee Hussain Makhlouf on Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Friday.

• The remaining 1000 metric tonnes of rice is expected to reach Syria on February 18. The rice is being supplied in response to a request from the Syrian government for emergency humanitarian assistance.

Karim Khan: UK lawyer elected chief prosecutor at ICC

• Karim Khan, 50, currently heads a United Nations investigation into war crimes committed by the Islamic State group in Iraq.

• The ICC is the only permanent body investigating crimes against humanity.

• Mr Khan won the votes of 72 out of 123 countries in the second round of voting, and will begin his nine-year term at the court in the Hague in June.

Rashmi Samant First Indian Woman To Head Oxford Students' Union

• Rashmi Samant has made history by becoming the first Indian woman to head the Oxford Students' Union. An alumnus of Karnataka's Manipal Institute of Technology, Ms Samant in her LinkedIn profile says she is "a sustainable energy enthusiast who believes in effective policymaking and energy equality for healing the deteriorating climate of the world".

• Ms Samant won the students' union election with 1,996 votes, more than all her opponents put together, the university said in a post on its website.

• In her manifesto, Ms Samant promised to "tackle the institutional homophobia and transphobia", "decolonisation of the syllabi" and "remove all statues proven to be imperialist, including Chritopher Codrington".

NATIONAL

35 children’s books in Parag Honour List for 2021

• Thirty-five books for children and young adults across fiction, non-fiction and poetry genres by authors like Vinod Kumar Shukl, Jerry Pinto, Nandini Nayar and Nandita Da Cunha in English and Hindi feature in the Parag Honour List 2021. Currently in its second edition, this annual list by the Parag Initiative of Tata Trusts features best of children’s books published in the past one year.

• The list was launched Saturday by actor Soha Ali Khan, who said such curated reading lists can support educators, librarians and parents to know about the best Indian children’s books being published each year. For this edition, Parag received books from 26 Indian publishers, published between October 2019 and September 2020. The PHL jury members were Arundhati Deosthale, Gurbachan Singh and Suneeta Mishra (Hindi) and Arvind Gupta, Prachi Kalra and Samina Mishra (English).

India’s first dolphin research centre to start soon in Patna

• The society for the long-awaited National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) is likely to be formed within a month, officials said.

• Last year, chief minister Nitish Kumar had laid the foundation stone of the centre and the fund for the building was also sanctioned to the building construction department (BCD), but things could not move beyond that.

• Principal secretary, department of forest and environment, Dipak Kumar Singh said that there were some issues with Patna University on the society formation, but that has now been sorted out. “The society will be formed within a month. The construction of the building in Patna University will also get underway soon. Fund has already been sanctioned,” he added.

• With Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announcing Project Dolphin last year on the lines of Project Tiger to focus on both river and sea dolphins, the centre has acquired more importance. The project also got in-principle approval at the first meeting of the National Ganga Council (NGC), headed by the PM.

Muskan becomes the youngest zila parishad chairman in himachal pradesh

• While the pandemic-induced lockdown left many graduates in a rough patch with lack of employment opportunities, a 21-year-old woman in Himachal’s Bilaspur district has made it to the limelight by becoming one of the youngest candidates to get elected to a Zila Parishad Chairperson’s post.

• Like most colleges, Muskan’s college located in Kala Amb in Sirmaur district shut when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out last year. When Muskan returned home to Barmana in Bilaspur she decided to contest the local polls and to everyone’s astonishment she emerged victorious.

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Important Current Affairs 11th February 2021

NATIONAL

Indian Army lays foundation of 100-foot-high national flag in Gulmarg

• The Indian Army has laid the foundation stone of the tallest ‘Iconic National Flag’ at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir. The flag will be on a 100 feet-high pole, the highest Tricolour in the Valley. The Indian Army in collaboration with the Solar Industry India will install the ‘Iconic National Flag’ at Gulmarg.

• The foundation stone for the iconic national flag was laid by Dagger Division General Officer Commanding (GoC) Major General Virendra Vats along with Bollywood actor-producer Arbaaz Khan and actress Vidya Balan. This iconic Indian national flag will be a first in many ways. The site is expected to become another tourist attraction, among the snow-clad mountains of Kashmir.

Delhi Cabinet Approves ‘Mukhyamantri Vigyan Pratibha Pariksha’ Scheme

• The Delhi cabinet has approved “Mukhyamantri Vigyan Pratibha Pariksha” in which Rs 5,000 will be provided to 1,000 meritorious students of Class 9 in schools of Delhi as a science scholarship. The scholarship will provide a boost to science education in secondary classes at the school level.

• Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed this as a crucial step for our government to promote excellent and talented students. Delhi government seeks to promote the pursuit of excellence and scientific temper among the children.

• According to the release, the students studying in Delhi schools who have secured more than 60 per cent in Class 8 are eligible for the examination. Students belonging to SC, ST, PH, or OBC category will be given a relaxation of up to 5 per cent of marks.

Tamil Nadu set to create state’s 5th tiger reserve

• The Central government has given its approval for the creation of a fifth tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu that will encompass the Meghamalai and Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuaries. It will be the 51st Tiger Sanctuary of India.

• The Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve will span the forests of Megamalai wildlife sanctuary and Srivilliputhur grizzled squirrel wildlife sanctuary spread across the districts of Theni, Virudhunagar and Madurai. The 100,000-hectare area is home to a range of mammals and bird species and more than a dozen tigers. Forest officials have noticed 14 tigers regularly in both the wildlife sanctuaries.

India’s 1st Thunderstorm Research Testbed to be established in Odisha

• The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced to set up the first ‘Thunderstorm Research Testbed’ of the country at Odisha’s Balasore district. The main objective of the “Thunderstorm Research Testbed” is to minimalise human fatalities and loss of property due to lightning strikes.

• The facility will be established in a collaboration between the Ministry of Earth Sciences, IMD, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Besides this, the IMD has also planned to set up a first-of-its-kind monsoon testbed near Bhopal. Currently, both the projects are in the planning stage and detailed project reports are being made.

National Horticulture Fair 2021 begins

• The Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Kailash Choudhry has inaugurated the National Horticulture Fair (NHF) 2021 on February 08, 2021, in Bengaluru via virtual mode. The five-day-long event has been organised by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), from February 8 to February 12 at its IIHR campus situated in Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru.

• The theme of NHF 2021 is ‘Horticulture for Start-Up and Stand-Up India’.

• For the first time, the event is being held in hybrid mode, i.e., the participants are allowed to attend the event online as well as offline. The NHF will showcase cutting edge technologies, crop varieties, pest and disease management practices and processing methods among others. The IIHR is a subsidiary of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

SPORTS

Ishant Sharma becomes third Indian pacer to take 300 Test wickets

• Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma became the sixth Indian and third pacer from the country to take 300 wickets in Test cricket. The 32-year-old Ishant reached the milestone in 98 matches, more than the other Indian bowlers in the club. Ishant reached the landmark when he trapped Dan Lawrence with a delivery that swung back sharply before hitting his pads in England”s second innings on the fourth day of the opening Test.

• Besides Anil Kumble (619) and Kapil Dev (434), Ravichandran Ashwin (377 before this game), Harbhajan Singh (417), and Zaheer Khan (311) are the other bowlers from the country who have reached the landmark.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

• International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed globally on 11 February. International Day of Women and Girls in Science to recognize the critical role of women and girls play in science and technology. In December 2015, the United Nations adopted a resolution to celebrate February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The Day is implemented by UNESCO and UN-Women in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.

• The 2021 theme of the Day is “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against C-19”.

• In 2016 is the first time it was celebrated. The idea behind this day is to ensure equal participation and involvement of women and girls in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

World Unani Day: 11 February

• World Unani Day has observed every year on 11th February.  The main objective of World Unani Day is to spread awareness about health care delivery through the Unani system of medicine through its preventive and curative philosophy. This day is celebrated every year to mark the birth anniversary of great Unani scholar and social reformer Hakim Ajmal Khan. The first Unani Day was celebrated in 2017 at Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine (CRIUM), Hyderabad.

• The Unani system of medicine has a long and impressive record in India. It was introduced in India by the Arabs and Persians sometime around the eleventh century.

• It has the largest number of Unani educational, research and health care institutions.

• The Unani system of medicine originated in Greece. Its foundation was laid by Hippocrates.

• The system owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic but also enriched the medicine of their day with their own contributions.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Robert Irwin wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021

• Robert Irwin, an Australian wildlife photographer, has won the first prize in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award Contest. Robert won the award for the image titled ‘bushfire’, which is the picture of the devastating Australian Bushfire in 2020, he captured using a drone, near the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York, Queensland. The image shows a line of fire burning in between the bushes, dividing it into parts.

• Irwin’s image was chosen from a shortlist of 25 finalists that received a total of 55,486 votes. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the largest wildlife photography competition in the world, organised by the Natural History Museum.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

‘By Many a Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life’ authored by M Hamid Ansari

• A book titled ‘By Many a Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life’ has been authored by M Hamid Ansari. Mohammad Hamid Ansari was the vice president of India and chairman of the Rajya Sabha for two consecutive terms from 2007 to 2017. A former diplomat, he served as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, as high commissioner to Australia and as permanent representative to the United Nations in New York.

• The book is an account of a life of unplanned happenings that took M. Hamid Ansari away from his preferred fancy for academia to professional diplomacy and then be co-opted in public life and catapulted to the second-highest office in the land for two consecutive terms. None of his predecessors, except Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, had experienced this honour.

• Besides chairing the Rajya Sabha and shedding interesting light on some of its functional aspects, Ansari used the vice presidency as a formidable pulpit to express himself candidly on a range of issues at different times in India’s changing political landscape.

• Their overarching theme was the need for modern India to re-commit itself to the constitutional principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, to the values of a composite culture, and for correctives in polity relating to identity, security and empowerment of the weaker segments of our society.

“Platform Scale: For a Post-Pandemic World” authored by Sangeet Paul Choudhary

• A Book titled ‘Platform Scale: For a Post-Pandemic World’ has been authored by Sangeet Paul Choudhary. It is published by Penguin Random House India. It explains the importance of inner workings of platform business models and their ability to scale rapidly. The 1st edition of Platform Scale was published in 2015.

• The book tells how the decade leading up to the C-19 pandemic witnessed the rise of platform business models as they drove stock market gains and extended their influence across the economic and political activity.

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Important Current Affairs 10th February 2021

NATIONAL

First Women Team Inducted in CRPF’s CoBRA Commando Unit

• A maiden contingent of 34 CRPF women personnel has been inducted into its specialized jungle warfare commando force CoBRA. The contingent will soon be deployed in the anti-Naxal operations grid of the country. This women’s contingent will undergo pre-induction training for 3 months and then deployed with the units in Naxal violence-affected districts of Chhattisgarh like Dantewada, Sukma, and Bijapur. The members of the 34 CRPF women personnel contingent have been chosen from the 6 all-women battalions of CRPF.

• The first battalion of CRPF numbered 88, was raised this day in 1986 at a CRPF base in Delhi. An all-women brass band of CRPF was also commissioned during the ceremony that was held to mark the 35th Raising Day anniversary of the first women’s battalion of CRPF.

14th International Children’s Film festival concludes in Bangladesh

• The 14th International Children’s Film Festival of Bangladesh (ICFFB) came to an end in Dhaka. A total of 12 awards were presented to the winners at the concluding ceremony. 179 films from 37 countries were shown at various venues during the 7-day long festival organised by the Children’s Film Society (CFS) of Bangladesh.

• Apart from Bangladesh, films from India, Armenia, US, UK, Ireland, Japan and China among others were shown in the course of the festival. Dutch Film Jackie and Oopjen were awarded the Best International Feature Film Award. Bangladeshi film Maati got The Young Talent Award while Lottery won the Special mention under the Young Talent Award.

Madhya Pradesh launches ‘SAANS’ campaign to reduce infant mortality

• The health department in Madhya Pradesh has launched the Social Awareness and Action to Neutralise Pneumonia Successfully (‘SAANS’) campaign. The main purpose of the campaign is to reduce the death rate due to pneumonia among infants a strategy is being chalked out under the Social awareness campaign in which medical staff is being trained.

• Training will be imparted at the community and primary health centres.

• Around 4,000 Health and Wellness Centres have been set up in Madhya Pradesh for this purpose.

• The State government has also developed training modules in partnership with PGIMER, Chandigarh, and UNICEF, which will be used to enhance the skills of health workers, including doctors and paramedical staff.

ONGC to establish India’s first geothermal field development project in Ladakh

• India’s first-ever geothermal power project will be implemented by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at Puga village of eastern Ladakh. The project, known as Geothermal Field Development Project, will be implemented in three phases and is planned to commission by the end of 2022.

• A tripartite agreement for this historic geothermal project was signed between Union Territory Administration Ladakh, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC)-Leh and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Energy Centre on February 08, 2021.

• Energy from the project will be used for giving round-the-clock power supplies to neighbouring villages.

• Hot Water from the springs will be used for space-heating

• Constructing hot swimming pools to attract tourists

• The development of geothermal potential will be useful during winter months, as Ladakh’s hydropower stations are shut or work at lower efficiencies due to low flow rates.

Ramnath Kovind Inaugurates Museum Dedicated to General KS Thimayya

• President Ram Nath Kovind has inaugurated a museum, dedicated to the life of former Army Chief General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, in Karnataka. General Thimayya served as the Chief of Army Staff from 1957 to 1961. The ancestral house of General Thimayya called “Sunny Side” at Madikeri in Kodagu district of Karnataka has been renovated and converted into a museum.

• A museum celebrating the life of former Army Chief General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, housing a variety of antique weaponry and war relics.

• A statue of the General from Kodagu in uniform greets as one enters the museum, which also showcases a slice of Indian military history.

• The museum also acknowledges the contribution of General Thimayya’s siblings, including two of his brothers, who too were Army officers, and his wife Nina, who was bestowed with ”Kaiser-e-Hind” award in recognition of her work in public service.

• Key attractions on the premises of this war memorial include a battle tank, one of those used by the Army during the war with Pakistan in 1971.

Defence Ministry inks pact with BEL to procure ship-borne modern radio system

• The defence ministry has signed a contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to procure a software-defined radio tactical (SDR-Tac) ship-borne system worth over Rs 1,000 crore. The procurement of SDR-Tac (software-defined radio tactical) “will bring strategic depth to the armed forces.

• The SDR-Tac is a four-channel multi-mode, multi-band, 19-inch rack-mountable, ship-borne software-defined radio system to serve ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and ship-to-air voice and data communication for network-centric operations.

OBITUARY

Bollywood actor Rajiv Kapoor passes away

• Bollywood actor and Raj Kapoor’s son Rajiv Kapoor passed away. He made his acting debut with 1983 movie Ek Jaan Hain Hum. He gained recognition with his father’s last directorial Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). Some of his other memorable films include Aasmaan (1984), Lover Boy (1985), Zabardast (1985) and Hum To Chale Pardes (1988). But soon Rajiv also addressed as Chimpu, moved to film direction and production.

• In 1996, Rajiv directed Prem Granth which featured his elder brother Rishi Kapoor in the lead role along with Madhuri Dixit. He ventured into production with brother Randhir Kapoor’s directorial Henna in 1991 and also produced Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999).

Founder of Rang Vidushak, Padma Shri Bansi Kaul Passed away

• Founder of Rang Vidushak and theatre director Padma Shri Bansi Kaul passed away. He was born in 1949 in a Kashmiri Pandit family, Bansi Kaul was a Hindi theatre director and the founder of Rang Vidushak, a theatre group and theatre institute in Bhopal.

• He was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995 and Padma Shri in 2014. He received Rashtriya Kalidas Samman for the year 2016–17.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Pulses Day: 10 February

• The United Nations designated World Pulses Day is observed every year on 10 February. The day has been established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognize the importance of pulses (dry beans, lentils, dry peas, chickpeas, lupins) as a global food.

• The theme, “Nutritious Seeds for a Sustainable Future,” was decided back in 2016 when the year was nominated to be celebrated as International Year of Pulses. Since then, the theme has remained the same from 2019 to 2021.

• In 2018, the UN General Assembly decided to mark 10 February as World Pulses Day. The first WPD was held on February 10, 2019.  On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/68/231) proclaiming 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The celebration of the year, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), increased the public awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India and Afghanistan Inks MoU for the construction of the Lalandar “Shatoot” Dam

• India and Afghanistan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU over video-teleconferencing (VTC), for the construction of the Shahtoot Dam (Lalander Dam) on a tributary of the Kabul river in Afghanistan. The project, which costs nearly $ 300 million, is a part of the New Development Partnership between India and Afghanistan.

• The MoU was signed between External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar and Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mr Hanif Atmar, in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

• The Lalander [Shatoot] Dam would meet the safe drinking water needs of Kabul City, provide irrigation water to nearby areas, rehabilitate the existing irrigation and drainage network, aid in flood protection and management efforts in the area, and also provide electricity to the region.

• This is the second major dam being built by India in Afghanistan, after the India- Afghanistan Friendship Dam [Salma Dam], which was inaugurated in June 2016.

Skyroot, Bellatrix signs MoU to use latter’s orbital transfer vehicle

• Skyroot Aerospace has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bellatrix Aerospace to make use the Orbital Transfer Vehicle, being developed by Bellatrix Aerospace, in the upper stage of Vikram series of launch vehicles, being developed by Skyroot. The vehicle is expected to launch to low earth orbit in 2023 on the Vikram rocket. The vehicle is expected to help global operators reduce time and costs for launching communication and earth observation satellites.

• It is a spacecraft that can perform various in-orbit operations such deployment of customer payload to precise orbits, allowing a launch vehicle to deliver satellites to more orbits than what was conventionally possible.

• In simple words, OTV is like a ‘taxi in space’ to take small satellites into their operational orbits.

• OTV will offer ride-sharing for small satellites and drop each one of the passengers to their intended slots in space.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

FSSAI caps trans fatty acids to 2% in food products from January 2022

• The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has restricted the permissible amount of industrial Trans Fatty Acid (TFA) in food products to 2 per cent. The latest amendment will come into effect from January 01, 2022. Currently, the permissible limit for trans fats in food products in 2021 is 3 per cent, cut down from the previous limit of 5 per cent.

• FSSAI has amended the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011 to put into effect the new Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2021.

• As per the new rule, the food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, starting from January 01, 2022.

• Trans fat regulation, that aims to limit the amount of “trans fat”, fat-containing trans fatty acids — in industrial food products, has been enacted in many countries.

• These regulations were motivated by numerous studies that pointed to significant negative health effects of trans fat.

• Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease.

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