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Important Current Affairs 13th March 2020

National

Facebook launches ‘Pragati’ to boost women entrepreneurship in India

• Facebook India has launched its CSR initiative, Facebook Pragati to promote women entrepreneurship in India.

• The initiative will incubate and accelerate early-stage women-led non-profits that are working to drive women entrepreneurship and to spread awareness and adoption of technology among women in India.

Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 approved by Parliament

• Indian Parliament recently approved Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 with an aim to promote the Indian coal and mining sector along with the ease of doing business in this sector.

• With the increase in coal production, India’s dependence on imports will be reduced. Earlier, the Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha.

Parliament passes Vivad se Vishwas Bill 2020

• The Upper House of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha passed the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 and sent it back to the Lok Sabha on March 13, 2020.

• The money bill seeks to resolve over 4 lakh direct tax cases pending in Indian courts. 

Government allows without referral treatment to CGHS beneficiaries over 75 years

• Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan has clarified that the CGHS beneficiaries aged 75 years and above can take the facility of treatment without a referral.

• He also said that only non-emergency situations will require approval for treatments and tests that are not listed.

Banking and Economy

SBI removes minimum balance charges from all savings bank accounts

• The State Bank of India has waived off the minimum balance charges on all savings bank accounts. SBI has waive charges for non-maintenance of Average Monthly Balance (AMB) for all 44.51 crore savings bank accounts.

• Earlier, SBI was levying a penalty of Rs 5 to Rs 15 along with taxes on non-maintenance of average monthly balance of Rs 3000, Rs 2000 and Rs 1000 in metro, semi urban and rural areas respectively

Acquisitions and Mergers

SpiceJet to set up warehousing & distribution facility at GAHSL

• An Indian low-cost airline, SpiceJet has signed a pact with GMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ Limited (GHASL). According to the pact, SpiceJet will set up warehousing, distribution and trading facility in the aerospace and industrial park of GHASL.

• “Ready-to-Use” industrial infrastructure is offered by the park with the flexibility of choosing land within SEZ for business purposes.

Ranking

India Ranks World’s 2nd Biggest Arms Importer While Placed at 23rd in Exporters List: SIPRI Report

• The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its annual “Trends in international arms transfers 2019” report to determine the International transfers of major arms during the five-year period 2015–19.

• As per the data, India was the second largest arms importer in the world during the period 2015-19. Russia was the largest supplier of arms to India.

• Saudi Arabia was the largest arms importer in the world during the same period.

India ranks second in Global Animal Protection Index 2020

• India gets the second rank in Global Animal Protection Index 2020. This Index was released by International animal welfare charity “World Animal Protection” released.

• The Animal Protection Index (API) aims to showcase where countries are doing well, and where they fall short on animal welfare policy and legislation.

• The index ranks countries from A (being the highest score) to G (being the weakest score) according to their policy and legislation. India has attained a C ranking in the index.

India ranks 46th in ‘Inclusive Internet Index 2020’

• India secured 46th rank in the Inclusive Internet Index 2020 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Pakistan got the 76th rank on the list.

• In this index, Sweden ranks first, New Zealand is second and America is third. The worst countries are Burundi (100), Liberia (99), Madagascar (98), Malawi (97) and Burkina Faso (96).

• India is at the top among South Asian countries followed by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This list includes 100 countries of the world and ranks are scaled from 1 (best) to 100 (worst).

Days

National Crime Records Bureau celebrated its 35th Inception Day

• The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 35th Inception Day on 12th March 2020.

• On the occasion of inception day of NCRB, Union Minister of State for Home Shri Nityanand Rai launched Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC) and National Cybercrime Training Centre (NCTC).

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Important Current Affairs 12th March 2020

Biennial Civil Aviation Business Exhibition ‘Wings India 2020’ Begins in Hyderabad:

• The four-day civil aviation business exhibition and air show titled ‘Wings India 2020’ kick-started on 12 March 2020 at Begumpet airport, Hyderabad. It will continue till March 15.

• However, the programme will be formally inaugurated on 13 March 2020 by the Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri.

• The theme of the biennial event is ‘flying for all’.

• The event has been organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Maharashtra Assembly approves caste validity certificate bill:

• The Maharashtra State Assembly recently approved a bill exempting gram panchayat members of the state from submitting caste validity certificates while filing the nominations.

• The contesting candidates will now be allowed to submit the caste validity certificate within one year of winning the elections. The caste validity certificate is proof of an individual’s caste.

Infosys, Qualcomm tie-up to provide Smart City Solutions in India:

Infosys and Qualcomm have come together to provide smart city solutions in India. In this regard, both the companies signed an agreement wherein facilities like Smart Venues, Smart Stadiums and Smart Event Management will be offered to Indian Smart Cities.

Leh to host International Yoga Day 2020; PM Modi to lead main event:

• Ladakh’s capital Leh will host the main national event of the International Yoga Day 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the event on June 21, 2020.

• Over 15000 people are expected to attend the event and perform Yoga in such a high altitude location.

Govt sets up development council for pulp, paper and allied industries:

• Central Government has formed a 25-member development council for pulp, paper and allied industries with an objective to increase the growth of this sector.

• A S Mehta is the chairman of the council. He is the President of J K Paper Ltd.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

US Supreme Court allows controversial 'Remain in Mexico' asylum policy to stay:

• The Supreme Court of the United States directed on March 11, 2020 that the controversial "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy can continue to stay in effect till a proper legal resolution is reached. 

• The order is a victory for the Trump administration, which has been pushing for the controversial policy to continue. The administration had warned that there would be a rush to the border if the policy was blocked by the courts.

• The “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy mandates the non-Mexican asylum seekers to return to Mexico as they await hearings in the United States.

SUMMIT AND MOU

Centre, Himachal Pradesh, World Bank sign $80 million loan agreement to boost agricultural productivity:

• The union government, state government of Himachal Pradesh and the World Bank signed an $80 million loan agreement on March 11, 2020 to boost agricultural productivity and improve water management practices in select gram panchayats.

• The integrated project will be implemented in 428-gram panchayats in 10 districts of Himachal Pradesh. The project is expected to benefit over 400,000 small farmers and pastoral communities.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Tiger Woods to be inducted in World Golf Hall of Fame:

• Tiger Woods will be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame. According to the announcement made by the PGA tour, he will be part of Class 2021.

• Only those players get this honor who have secured at least 15 wins on approved PGA tours. However, there is an age restriction for induction. Earlier, it was 50 but recently it has been reduced to 45 years.

 ACQUISITIONS AND MERGERS

Japanese company Hakuhodo acquires AdGlobal360:

• Indian MarTech Company, AdGlobal360 has been acquired by Japanese company Hakuhodo Inc for an undisclosed sum. Adglobal360 is India’s fastest growing MarTech Company headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana. The MarTech Company facilitates its customers with end to end digital solutions.

• Hakuhodo Inc is Japan’s second largest advertising company which was founded in 1895. It is an integrated advertising and communication agency which has international presence in 17 countries and regions.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Kidney Day 2020: 12 March 2020:

• The World Kidney Day (WKD) is observed annually on the Second Thursday in March.

• In 2020, the World Kidney Day is being celebrated on 12 March 2020.

• The theme of WKD 2020 is ‘Kidney health for everyone everywhere – from prevention to detection and equitable access to care’.

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Important Current Affairs 7th March 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Chapchar Kut, the biggest and most joyful festival of Mizoram begins:

• In Mizoram, the biggest and most joyful festival of Mizos, Chapchar Kutis being celebrated across the state.

• The Chapchar Kutis also regarded as the most popular spring festival to the people of the state. This festival is a public holiday in the state.

• Traditional bamboo dance – Cheraw and other dances were performed at the main event, attracting thousands of people.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

NPCI doubles UPI transaction limit to Rs 2 lakh for some payments:

• The National Payments Corporation of India or NPCI, the umbrella organization for retail payments systems, has doubled the per transaction payment limit for Unified Payments Interface or UPI to Rs 2 lakh for some payments.

• The committee has approved to increase the current limit of Rs 1 lakh per transaction to Rs 2 lakh. This is to fulfill specific needs, including payments for credit cards, loans, insurance, and mutual fund investments.

• The move will be effective from April 2020 and would boost the transactions for categories such as AMC, B2B collections, mutual funds, insurance, pre-approved disbursements, and credit card payments

AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS

Maharaja Ranjit Singh selected as greatest leader in world history:

• In the survey of BBC World History magazine, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th century ruler of the Sikh Empire in India, has been chosen as the greatest leader ever.

• Five thousand readers participated in this poll. Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the first place with more than 38 percent of the vote. He is known for creating a tolerant and liberal empire.

SPORTS

Sindhu wins TOISA Sportsperson of Year award:

• World champion shuttler PV Sindhu was named Sportsperson of the Year while India’s starbatsman Rohit Sharma was named the cricketer of the year at the fourth Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) 2019 in New Delhi.

• Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia was given the Lifetime Achievement award, while hockey legend and three-time Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh Sr was honoured with the Icon of the Century award.

• National badminton coach Pulella Gopichand won the Mentor of the Year award, while former shooter Jaspal Rana was recognized as the Coach of the Year.

• The Olympic-bound Indian men’s hockey was adjudged Team of the Year while the women’s hockey side skipper Rani won the Inspiration of the Year award.

APPOINTMENT AND RESIGNATIONS

Bimal Julka as new Chief Information Commissioner of India:

• Bimal Julka, a retired IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, has been appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner of India. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath of office and secrecy to Bimal Julka.

• He is retired 1979 IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre. Julka has also been posted as Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

SBI Life re-appoints Sanjeev Nautiyal as MD & CEO

• SBI Life Insurance has re-appointed Sanjeev Nautiyal as managing director and chief executive officer of the company.

• The re-appointment is subject to approval of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and members of the company.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Jan Aushadhi Diwas:

• Jan Aushadhi Diwas celebrated on 7th march of every year.

• The Jan aushadhi Divas aims to provide further impetus and create awareness about the use of generic medicines. The day will also highlight the initiative undertaken by Government in the direction of making quality healthcare for all, like Ayushman Bharat, PMBJY, etc.

• The Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna was launched by Prime Minister with an objective of making high-quality medicines available to all at affordable prices, especially to the poor and underprivileged, through exclusive outlets of Jan Aushadhi Medical Stores.

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Important Current Affairs 6th March 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

4th Global Ayurveda Festival 2020 to be held in Kochi:

• The Fourth Global Ayurveda Festival (GAF) is scheduled to be held at Kochi, Kerala from 16 to 20 May, 2020.

• The theme for the five-day event is “Ayurveda Medical Tourism: Actualizing India’s credibility”.

• GAF 2020 will be the largest Ayurvedic event ever to be held anywhere across the world

Govt announces one-time amnesty scheme for non-compliant LLPs:

• The Ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) has launched a one-time amnesty scheme for Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) companies that have failed to file the requisite statutory documents such as annual statements, change in directors, etc.

• The move is aimed at promoting ease of doing business as well as to cleanse the system.It provides these companies a one-time relaxation in payment of additional fees and immunity from prosecution.

• The scheme, LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020, allows for a one-time condonation of delay in filing statutorily required documents with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).

International Conference on Nano Science and Technology 2020 Begins in Kolkata:

• The International Conference on Nano Science and Technology 2020 (ICONSAT-2020) is being held at S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata from March 5-7, 2020

• ICONSAT is the series of biennial international conference held in India under the aegis of Nano Mission, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

• It provides a global platform of interactions among eminent scientists to bring to fore the recent advances in the area of nanoscience and technology.

Government nod to automated facial recognition system for identification of bodies, missing children, criminals:

• The Home Ministry has given approval to the automated facial recognition system (AFRS) for identification of unrecognised bodies, missing children and criminals by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

• AFRS will use police records and will be accessible only to law enforcement agencies.

• This will facilitate better identification of criminals, unidentified dead bodies and missing or found children and persons and will not violate privacy.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Ukraine's Parliament approves Denis Shmygal as new PM:

• Ukraine's parliament approved the name of Denis Shmygal for the post of Prime Minister. Earlier, the former Prime Minister had to resign due to criticism of the President.

• Most of the Members of Parliament voted in favour of Denis Shmygal, nominated by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Earlier, Shmygal was the Deputy Prime Minister of the country.

University of British Columbia discovered 17 new planets:

• Michelle Kunimoto, a student of the University of British Columbia, has discovered 17 new planets. These planets have been discovered by the Kepler space telescope of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

• Nearly two million stars have been studied by NASA's four-year Kepler mission using the transit method for this discovery.

• These new planets have been discovered in the Gold-lock zone where the presence of water on the rocky surface of the planets is also being estimated. Among the discovered planets, KIC-7340288b is an extremely rare planet.

Janez Jansa Elected Prime Minister of Slovenia for Third Term:

• Slovenia’s parliament has elected Janez Jansa as the prime minister-designate of the country on 3 March 2020

• Mr Jansa takes over from centre-left premier Marjan Sarec, who resigned in January 2020.

• The  61-year-old leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), had also served as the prime minister of Slovenia from 2004 to 2008 and again from 2012 to 2013.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI imposes moratorium on Yes Bank; limits withdrawals to Rs 50,000:

• The troubled private lender YES Bank has been imposed with the moratorium by the Reserve Bank of India, RBI. The central bank has capped the withdrawal limit at Rs 50,000 per account.

• Moreover, the YES Bank’s Board has been suspended for a period of 30 days for not being able to raise funds for the bank to manage the mounting NPAs and loan losses.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

NASA names Mars Rover ‘Perseverance’ for 2020 Mission:

• NASA recently named its Mars rover as ‘Perseverance’ for the scheduled Mars mission for July 2020.

• The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) organised a nationwide competition to decide the name of the Mars rover. Seventh-grade student Alexander Mather emerged as a winner in the competition.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Dentist’s Day: 6 March:

• National Dentist’s Day is observed annually every March 6.

• The day is also a day to remind everyone about the importance of regular dental checkups, and to encourage proper dental care.

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Important Current Affairs 5th March 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Google to launch its second cloud infrastructure in Delhi by 2021:

• Google has planned to open its second cloud region in India in Delhi.

• The Delhi cloud region is expected to be launched in 2021, and will have three zones to protect against service disruptions.

• It will be the Google’s second cloud region in India. The first region was launched in Mumbai in 2017.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Luxembourg becomes first country to make all public transport free:

• In an attempt to reduce traffic jams, Luxembourg has become the first country in the world to make all public transport free from February 29. This is the first time that the decision to offer free public transport has covered an entire country, the transport ministry stated.

• The decision has been observed in Luxembourg so as to bring down the congestion on streets. As a result of this decision, every person will be able to save around 100 euros ($110) per year.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

EPFO lowers interest rate on PF deposits to 8.5 percent for 2019-20:

• Retirement fund body, Employees’ Provident Fund Organization, (EPFO) has lowered the interest rate on provident fund deposits to 8.5 percent for the current financial year 2019-20.Earlier it was 8.65 percent.

• This announcement was made by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar in New Delhi on 5 March 2020

India has 3rd highest trade-related illicit financial flow globally:

• India has the third highest trade-related illicit financial flow among 135 countries with 5 billion dollars (about Rs 6.08 lakh crore) or 3.05 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) escaping the government’s tax net, according to US-based think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

• The GFI classifies as illicit flow funds that are illegally earned, transferred or utilised across an international border. The primary sources of illicit flows include grand corruption, commercial tax evasion and transnational crime.

Allahabad Bank to be merged with Indian Bank:

• The 10 state-run banks of the country will be converted into 4 banks from April 1 onwards. Allahabad Bank will be merged with the Indian Bank. The business of the new institute will be Rs 10 lakh crore in the coming two to three years after the merger of the two banks.

• As of December 31, 2019, Indian Bank has a turnover of Rs 4.5 lakh crore and has 2,887 branches across the country. Apart from this, the Allahabad Bank is worth Rs 3.94 lakh crore and has 3,175 branches.

• Chennai's Indian Bank and Kolkata's Allahabad Bank will emerge as the 7th largest bank in the banking sector of the country.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

PM Modi will be treated with highest honour during Bangladesh visit:

• Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen has stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be treated with the highest honour during his forthcoming visit to Bangladesh to attend the Mujib Centenary Celebrations.

• The Bangladesh govt has invited Prime Minister Modi as the premier of India, which was its closest ally during the liberation war.

OBITUARY

Former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar passes away:

• Peruvian two-term UN secretary-general, Javier Perez de Cuellar died on March 04, 2020 at the age of 100. He played a key role in a historic ceasefire between Iran and Iraq in 1988.

• He took over the role of UN secretary-general in January 1982 and had served the post for term terms till 1991. He had also served as Peru’s Ambassador to France.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Amrish Rau appointed as CEO of Pine Labs:

• Amrish Rau has been appointed as CEO of Pine Labs, a leading merchant commerce platform company.

• Rau founded the start up Citrus Pay, which was sold off to Pay U, replaces Vicky Bindra who after a two-year stint as CEO is moving back to San Francisco, the company stated in a statement.

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Important Current Affairs 4th March 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Janaushadhi Week 2020 celebrated across India: 50,000 Suvidha Sanitary Napkins distributed:

• India is observing the Janaushadhi week from 1st to 7th March 2020.

• The week is being observed through the events organised by the owners of over 6200 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya

• Janaushadhi Kendras to raise awareness about health and hygiene. One of the events was focussed on the theme ‘Suvidha Se Sammaan’.

Government launches LLP settlement Scheme 2020:

• The Central Government recently launched the LLP Settlement Scheme 2020 for the one-time extension for filing the required documents with the Registrar.

• The scheme will come into force on March 16, 2020 and will be implemented till June 13, 2020.

• Under the scheme, the defaulting LLPs will be allowed to fill Form 3, Form 4, Form 8 and Form 11.

President confers 61st Lalit Kala Akademi Awards:

• President Ram Nath Kovind on March 4, 2020 conferred the 61st annual Lalit Kala Akademi Awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

• A total of 15 artists were bestowed with the awards including Anoop Kumar Manzukhi Gopi, Satwinder Kaur, Yashpal Singh, Yashwant Singh and others.

• The works of these artists will be displayed at the National Exhibition of Art at the Lalit Kala Akademi galleries till March 22, 2020.

Government to replace all level crossings on Highways by bridges & underpasses:

• The Central Government has decided to replace all level crossings on the National Highways by bridges or underpasses under the Setu Bharatam Scheme by December 2020.

• The move is expected to enable smooth traffic management on the national highways besides drastically reducing the chances of road accidents.

Indian Army’s International Seminar “Pragyan Conclave 2020” begins:

• The Indian Army’s International Seminar “Pragyan Conclave 2020” has begin at Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi. The seminar has been organised by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).

• The Pragyan Conclave 2020 seminar united the national and international experts to discuss the complex topic of ‘Changing Characteristics of Land Warfare and its Impact on the Military’.

• It also provided a platform for discussions on emerging ideas, perspectives and narratives that define the ‘New Age Warfare’.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Supreme Court lifts ban on RBI for dealing in Cryptocurrency:

• The Supreme Court has lifted the ban on the Reserve Bank of India for trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

• The ruling came on a plea filed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), asking for the removal of RBI ban.

• The RBI had restricted the banks from facilitating the use of virtual currencies in 2018.

NABARD infuses Rs 1.46 lakh cr in rural banking system during current fiscal:

• National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has infused 46 lakh crore rupees in the rural banking system during the current fiscal.

• NABARD has stated that 66,397 crore rupees have been given in short-term credit and 6,704 crore rupees in long-term credit to rural cooperative banks.

APPOINTMENT AND RESIGNATIONS

Sudhanshu Pandey takes charge as new CMD of MMTC Ltd:

• Additional Secretary at the Department of Commerce Sudhanshu Pandey has assumed additional charge as Chairman and Managing Director of MMTC Ltd.

• His predecessor Ved Prakash.

• Pandey currently discharges functions as the Chief Negotiator of India.

About MMTC

• MMTC earlier known as Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation, is the single largest trader for product lines like minerals, metals and precious metals.

• Headquarters- New Delhi

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Safety Day:

• National Safety Day is celebrated in India on 4th March by the National Safety Council of India.

• This day is celebrated to make people get safe from several issues like financial loss, health problems and also any other problems that people are facing in their life.

• The Campaign now entering its 49th year, has grown into a major national campaign widely celebrated by industry, trade unions, govt.

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Important Current Affairs 1st March 2020

National News

World Productivity Congress 2020 to be held in Bengaluru in May:

• The 19th edition of the World Productivity Congress (WPC) is scheduled to be held in Bengaluru from May 6 to May 8, 2020.

• World Productivity Congress is the world’s largest convention for productivity development that shape future productivity growth.

• The theme of 19th World Productivity Congress is “Industry 4.0 – Innovation and Productivity”.

Maharashtra government’s “Smart gram yojana” to be named after ex-minister R R Patil:

• The Maharashtra government’s “smart gram yojana” will be named after former Deputy Chief Minister the late R R Patil.

• Since November 2016, the ‘smart gram yojana’ (smart village) is being implemented in the state where awards are given to gram panchayats at taluka and district level for their performance on certain parameters.

Haryana CM unveils Rs 1,42,343-crore budget for 2020-21:

• Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced a Rs 1,42,343-crore budget in the state assembly.

• The debt is set to increase to Rs 1.98 lakh crore in 2020-21 as against Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the previous fiscal.The expenditure will increase to Rs 1,42,343 crore, a rise by 7.7 per cent.

Central Consumer Protection Authority to be established in 2020 April:

• Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan announced that the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be set up by the first week of April 2020.

• The CCPA will be established under the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

• The authority will address issues related to consumer rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements. CCPA will be empowered to impose penalties for selling spurious and adulterated products.

Maharashtra to become single-use plastic-free by 1 May:

• Maharashtra State government is set to become single-use plastic-free by 1 May 2020.

• The announcement was made by the State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray.

President presented awards to 21 winners on National Science day:

• President Ram Nath Kovind conferred national awards to 21 winners for science communication and popularization including women excellence awards for meritorious women scientists on the occasion of National Science Day.

• The awards included Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) Awards, National Science and Technology Communication Awards, SERB Women Excellence Awards, and National Award for Young Woman Showing Excellence through Application of Technology for Societal Benefits.

• On the occasion, President announced three key initiatives for Gender Advancement and Equality in Academic and Research Institutions.

1) Vigyan Jyoti:

• Vigyan Jyoti is an initiative that will create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education.

2) GATI:

• The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) initiative will develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing the Gender Equality in STEM.

3) Online portal for S&T resources for women:

• An online portal for science and technology resources for women will provide e-resources related to all women-specific government schemes, scholarships, fellowships, career counseling with details of subject area experts from various disciplines in science and technology.

Banking and Economy

ONGC, HPCL buy 34.56% of bankers’ stake in Petronet MHB for Rs 371 cr:

• State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and its subsidiary Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) have bought out lenders in Petronet MHB Ltd, the firm that owns a petroleum product pipeline in Mangalore, for about Rs 371 crore.

• A consortium of eight public sector banks held 34.56 per cent stake in Petronet MHB Ltd, where ONGC and HPCL held 32.72 per cent apiece.

• The two firms paid Rs 185.38 crore each for acquiring 17.28 per cent more share in Petronet MHB Ltd.

Obituary

Former India hockey player and Olympic medallist Balbir Singh Kullar passes away at 77:

• Former India hockey player and a two-time Olympic medallist, Balbir Singh Kullar has passed away.

• He was 77.Kullar was a member of the Indian team that won the Asian Games gold in 1966 (Bangkok) and also won the Olympic Bronze in 1968 (Mexico).

Sports

Rafael Nadal Clinches 2020 Mexican Open:

• The 2020 Mexican Open professional tennis tournament was held between 24 and 29 February 2020.

• The World Number 2 Rafael Nadal won the ATP Mexico Open 2020, defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final.

Winners List

Men’s Single – Rafael Nadal (Spain) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA)

Women’s Single – Heather Watson (UK) defeated Leylah Annie Fernandez (Canada)

Men’s Double – Łukasz Kubot / Marcelo Melo defeated Juan Sebastián Cabal / Robert Farah

Women’s Double –  Desirae Krawczyk / Giuliana Olmos defeated Kateryna Bondarenko / Sharon Fichman.

Important Days

Zero Discrimination Day: 1 March:

• The Zero Discrimination Day is held every year on 1 March to celebrate the right of everyone to live a full and productive life and live it with dignity.

• The Day was launched by UNAIDS in 2014

• Theme of Zero Discrimination Day 2020: Zero Discrimination Against Women And Girls.

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Important Current Affairs 29th February 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Food processing ministry approves Rs 162 cr under Operation Greens scheme

• Centre has approved Rs 162 crore under ‘Operation Greens’ scheme that has an outlay of Rs 500 crore to stabilize the supply of ‘TOP’ crops i.e. tomato, onion and potato. This will ensure their availability throughout the year without price volatility.

• The scheme that was announced in the budget 2018-19 aims at improving value realization for cultivators by targeted interventions to strengthen production clusters & Farmer Producer Organizations and linking them with the market.

• Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Food Processing Minister stated that 5 projects have been sanctioned in the country and more were lined up for approvals. She stated, The total outlay of the projects is Rs 426 crore and the grant we would give is Rs 162 crore.

SPICe+ Web form, new rules for company incorporation & DIN launched by MCA

• Ministry of Corporate Affairs has been launched ‘SPICe+’ Web Form (pronounced ‘SPICe Plus’) to offer 10 services by 3 Central Government Ministries/ Departments and of State Government of Maharashtra in a single web form.

• The three department/govt ministries are the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance. Apart from this, the forms of Maharashtra State Government would also be available on the SPICe+ web form. Registration for EPFO and ESIC shall be mandatory for all new companies to be incorporated through SPICe+ and no EPFO & ESIC registration nos. shall be separately issued by the respective agencies.

NITI Aayog and NASSCOM roll out AI modules in Indian schools

• The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), in collaboration with Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), launched an artificial intelligence (AI) based module for students of Indian schools.

• The AI-Base Module will be implemented across 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL), empowering 2.5 million students. The module contains activities, videos and experiments that enable students to work through and learn the various concepts of AI. This is the first-ever industry-government academia initiative on such a scale to keep the school students abreast of latest technologies. It has been estimated that by 2030, the global AI market is likely to be in the range of $15-15.5 trillion, out of which India’s share will be close to $1 trillion.

Important:

• NITI Aayog: National Institution for Transforming India.

• NITI Aayog CEO: Amitabh Kant, Vice Chairman: Rajiv Kumar.

• Chairman of NASSCOM: Keshav Murugesh.

 PM to launch 10,000 FPOs for farmers, lays foundation stone of Bundelkhand Expressway today

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch 10 thousand Farmer Producer Organizations, FPOs all over the country from Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh.

• These FPOs will help in collectivization of small, marginal and landless farmers to give them strength to deal with issues like lack of access to technology, quality seed, fertilizers and pesticides including requisite finances.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also lay the foundation stone for the Bundelkhand Expressway at The Uttar Pradesh Government is constructing the Expressway which will pass through the districts of Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur and Jalaun.

• It will link the Bundelkhand area to the national capital Delhi through Agra-Lucknow expressway and Yamuna expressway and play a vital role in the development of Bundelkhand region.

• India has huge defence equipment requirements spanning from land systems, ships and submarines to fighter aircraft, helicopters, weapons and sensors.The requirements are worth over 250 billion dollars by 2025. In order to fulfill the requirements, the government had announced setting up of Defence Industrial Corridor in Uttar Pradesh during the Investors Summit on 21st February 2018 at

• The 296-kilometre long Bundelkhand Expressway will pass through the districts of Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur and Jalaun.

NITI Aayog selects J&K for UNDP pilot project

• NITI Aayog has selected Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir for first pilot project among all States and UTs on Sustainable Developmental Goals. It would get a chance to work with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

• The programmes would work like that of district indicator framework wherein information would be sought from respective District Commissioners and ranking would be done by setting certain parameters.

• He stated under the Public Outreach Programme, Lieutenant Governor is touring various parts of the UT and taking firsthand accounts of the issues faced by people and ensuring redressal within the shortest possible time frame.

About Niti Aayog:

• Formed: 1 January 2015

• Objectives: Foster involvement and participation in the economic policy-making process by the State Governments of India

• Headquarters: New Delhi

• Chairperson: Narendra Modi

• Rajiv Kumar(economist), (Vice Chairperson)

• CEO : Amitabh Kant.

Marathi language compulsory for all schools: Maharashtra Assembly passes law

• Maharashtra government has made Marathi compulsory in schools affiliated with all boards with a fine of Rs 1 lakh for institutions that fail to comply with the directive.

• Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved a bill making Marathi a compulsory subject in all schools of the state.

• This law will be applicable to all boards like CBSE, CISCE, IB, IGSCE, NIOS

• Marathi language shall be taught as a compulsory subject from classes 1-10 in all schools in the state in a phased manner starting the academic year 2020-21

• The language shall be introduced at class 1 and 6 from the academic year 2020-21 and shall be extended to further classes progressively

• The law also states that no restrictions shall be imposed on speaking Marathi in schools in the state, directly or indirectly

• Marathi teaching and assessment of students in Marathi will be a mandatory condition for granting the government’s no-objection certificate for schools

• The person responsible for the management of school affairs violating provisions of this act shall be liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs 1 Lakh

National Parks in Maharashtra

• Chandoli National Park

• Gugamal National Park

• Pench National Park

• Sanjay Gandhi National Park

• Tadoba National Park

• Navegaon National Park

Offshore patrol vessel ICGS Varad commissioned

• The Indian Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Vessel, ICGS Varad was commissioned into service by Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya at a function held at Chennai Port on February 28, 2020. The Director-General of the Coast Guard, K Natarajan was also present on the occasion.

• The ICGS Varad will be deployed at Paradip in Odisha, under the operational control of the North-Eastern Region’s Coast Guard. Commanded by Commandant Pintu Bag, the coast guard vessel will be manned by 11 officers and 91 personnel.

ICGS Varad: Key Features

• The Offshore Patrol Vessel, ICGS Varad has been designed and built by Larsen and Toubro at its shipyard in Kattupalli, near Chennai.

• The vessel is the first major defence ship to clear all the sea trials in one single sea sortie, creating a record of sorts in the Indian shipbuilding industry.

• The 98m-long vessel is fitted with advanced navigation and communication equipment, machinery and sensors. It also comprises 30 mm and 12.7 mm guns.

• Besides this, the vessel has special features including a platform management system, integrated bridge system, high power external fire-fighting system and automated power management system.

• The ship also has the capacity to carry four high-speed boats and a twin-engine helicopter for search and rescue operations and law enforcement and maritime patrol. The vessel can also carry pollution response equipment in case of an oil spill at the sea.

• Further, the vessel propelled by two 9100kw diesel engines can attain a maximum speed of 26 knots. It can operate for almost 5000 nautical miles at a stretch without refueling.

BANKING, FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

India GDP Growth At 4.7% In Q3, Weaker Than Revised Estimates For Q2

• The Indian economy grew 4.7 per cent in the third quarter ended December 31, 2019, the National Statistics Office

• Core sector grows by 2% in January as power generation picks up

• The first quarter GDP growth for this fiscal has been revised upwards to 5.6 per cent, from the 5.1 per cent estimated earlier. The second quarter GDP growth for the current fiscal has also been revised upwards to 5.1 per cent from 4.5 per cent announced earlier.

About NSC:

• The National Statistical Commission (NSC) of India is an autonomous body which formed in June 2005. The NSC is currently headed by Bimal K. Roy, who was appointed as Chairperson of the Commission on 15th July 2019 for a period of three years. Dr. Kiran Pandya, Shri Pulak Ghosh and Dr. Gurucharan Manna are other members of the Commission.

• Shri Amitabh Kant, current CEO of NITI Aayog is the ex-officio Member and Shri Pravin Srivastava, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is Secretary to the Commission

• Formed :July 12 2006

• Headquarters: New Delhi

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

 Assam’s forest man to be conferred with Swami Vivekananda Karmayogi Award

• Assam’s eminent environmental activist Jadav Payeng will be awarded with Swami Vivekananda Karmayogi Award for his efforts in creating a man-made forest through reforestation.

• The award ceremony will be organized by My Home India, an NGO which aims at bringing emotional integration between people from different parts of India.

• The award will be handed to Payeng by union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

 Abhishek Singh, India’s next Ambassador to Venezuela

• Abhishek Singh has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. He is currently serving as Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India in Kabul, Afghanistan. He will succeed Rajiv Kumar Napal, who passed away recently. He is a 2003-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer.

Important:

• Capital of Venezuela: Caracas.

• Currency of Venezuela: Petro Bolivar Soberano.

• President of Venezuela: Juan Gerardo Guaido Marquez.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Providence opens Global Innovation Centre in Hyderabad

• Providence, a US-based healthcare systems provider, inaugurated its global innovation centre in India with plans to invest up to $100 million and induct more than 2,000 technologists.

• This is, the $26 billion-company’s first development centre outside the US. It plans to start with 350 techies within a year and gradually ramp it to over 2,000 centre within 3-4 years.

• Murali Krishna, Senior Vice-President and Country Manager, Providence India, who joins from Microsoft, will head the global innovation centre. The centre will focus on engineering, data intelligence, digital innovation, professional services, cyber security, application development and tech support.

• The teams will build and innovate with Big Data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Web Development, Natural Language Processing, Analytics, and other emerging technologies.

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Important Current Affairs 28th February 2020

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Sri Lanka notifies UN about rights resolution withdrawal

• Sri Lankan Government formally notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) resolution for investigating alleged war crimes. The case was dealing with a decade-old clash with Tamil separatists.

• The UNHRC resolution 40/1 was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and 11 other countries. The main aim of the resolution is investigation of war time violence against Tamil Tiger rebels. The Tamil Rebels were demanding separate homeland. They were claiming that they were ethnic tamil minority and hence are eligible for separate homeland.

• Important

Currency of Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan rupee.

President of Sri Lanka: Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka: Mahinda Rajapaksa.

NATIONAL NEWS

32 projects sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

• The Union Government has approved 32 projects in the food processing sector under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY). The projects will be spread across 17 states.

• The government has earmarked funds worth Rs 406 crores for the projects. They were approved during the meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee, chaired by Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in New Delhi on February 26, 2020.

• The main focus area of the projects is to boost employment opportunities in rural areas and create direct and indirect employment for about 15000 people.

Key Highlights

• The government has sanctioned 32 projects under the unit scheme of PMKSY of Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The new projects will cover 17 states with an investment worth Rs 406 crore.

• The projects aim to create employment opportunities and direct and indirect employment for approximately 15000 people in the rural areas.

• The main focus area will be creating more processing and preservation capacities and expansion and modernizing the existing food processing units.

• This will be undertaken to increase the level of processing, resulting in value addition and enhancing the shelf life of the product and reduce wastage.

• What is Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)?

The PMKSY scheme aims to create processing and preservation capacities and modernise existing food processing units to increase the quality of processing and reduce wastage. The introduction of modern processing techniques is expected to increase the shelf-life of the processed food or agricultural produce. It will ensure steady income to the farmers, reducing farmer distress.

The implementation period of the PMKSY scheme is 2016-20 and it has a total outlay of Rs 6,000 crore. Overall, the scheme has seven component schemes:

1. Mega Food Parks

2. Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure

3. Infrastructure for Agro-Processing Clusters

4. Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages

5. Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities

6. Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure

7. Human Resources and Institutions

BANKING, FINANCE AND ECONOMICS

India surpasses France, UK to become world's 5th largest economy: IMF

• India  became world's fifth largest economy in 2019 in terms of nominal GDP, leapfrogging France and the UK,  according to data from the IMF's October World Economic Outlook.

• India's economy now has a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion. The report said, "India's economy is the fifth largest in the world with a GDP of $2.94 trillion, overtaking the UK and France in 2019 to take the fifth spot".

• The UK economy amounts to  $2.83 trillion and  France with $2.71 trillion.

Following is the list of the world’s largest economies in 2010 vs 2019:

Rank

2010

2019

1

United States

United States

2

China

China

3

Japan

Japan

4

Germany

Germany

5

France

India

6

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

7

Brazil

France

8

Italy

Italy

9

India

Brazil

10

Russian Federation

Canada

Bank of Baroda launches Start-up Banking initiative

• Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar inaugurated “Baroda Startup Banking”. It is an initiative aimed at making the Bank of Baroda (BoB) a preferred banking partner for the start-up community and establishing connect with at least 2,000 start-ups over the next two years. The initiative was launched simultaneously across 15 cities in the country.

• It will include 15 Baroda Startup branches that will offer a bouquet of tailor-made banking products and services that have been designed keeping in mind the unique and specialized banking requirements of start-ups.

• The products include customised current accounts, state-of-the-art payments gateways, corporate credit cards, corporate salary accounts and credit facilities apart from other existing products of the bank.

• Important

Headquarters of Bank of Baroda: Vadodara, Gujarat.

MD and CEO of Bank of Baroda: Sanjiv Chadha.

Chairman of Bank of Baroda: Hasmukh Adhia.

Tagline of Bank of Baroda: India’s International Bank.

ACQUISITIONS, MERGERS, BUSINESS AND MOU’S

NTPC, CPCB MoU to set up air quality monitoring stations

• The NTPC Ltd has signed an agreement with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). According to an agreement, NTPC Ltd will provide financial support of Rs 80 Crore for installation and commissioning of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS).

• A total of 25 Air Quality Monitoring Stations will be installed across six states and three Union Territories. The states include Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. The three Union Territories includes Daman & Diu, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

• The Air Quality Index will be evaluated for the respective cities with the help of data collected from these air quality monitoring stations.

SUMMITS AND CONFERENCES

Govt to host Artificial Intelligence-focused Raise 2020 summit for the first time

• The Union Government will organize India’s first Artificial Intelligence summit- “RAISE 2020: Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020” between April 11-12, 2020 in New Delhi. The first-of-its-kind two-day summit will be organized to spearhead social empowerment, inclusion and transformation.

• RAISE 2020 will be organized by the centre in partnership with the industry and academia. The summit will serve as a common platform for people across the world to exchange ideas on how to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation in key areas and sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, education and smart mobility.

• The international summit will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

• Objective

a. The RAISE 2020 summit aims to outline India’s vision for using the power of AI responsibly to transform the social landscape for a better future. The summit will enable the smooth exchange of ideas to create mass awareness about the need to ethically develop and practice AI in the digital era.

• Key Highlights

a. The summit is the first of its kind global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence. It aims to provide a boost to India's vision and roadmap for social inclusion, empowerment and transformation through the responsible use of Artificial Intelligence.

b. The RAISE 2020 summit will begin with a startup challenge called ‘Pitchfest’, which will be followed by the two-day summit.

c. The event will be organized by the union government in coordination with the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

d. It will witness participation from a large number of global industry leaders, key opinion makers, AI experts, academia and government representatives.

• Significance

a. Artificial Intelligence is a powerful tool, which can be used to create a positive impact in the Indian context, helping it become the AI destination for the world. India has the potential to be the world’s leading AI laboratory that can eventually transform lives globally.

Conference on Enhancing Energy Cooperation in the BIMSTEC region held in Dhaka, Bangladesh

• Two Days Conference on Enhancing Energy Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) region held at Bangladesh.

• The bloc of seven countries organised the conference in collaboration with the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy Integration (SARI/EI) of USAID.

• The Report “prospect of regional energy cooperation and cross-border energy trade in the BIMSTEC region”

• The report showed that the BIMSTEC region has 323,504 million tonnes(MT) of coal, 664 million tonnes of oil, 99 Trillion Cubic Feet(TCF) of gas, 11,346 MT of biomass, 328 Giga Watts(GW) of hydropower and 1,117 GW of renewable energy.

• India tops on all energy resources by having 319,020 MT of coal, 600 MT oil, 45.5 TCF gas, 4,150 MT biomass and 145 GW hydro and 1,000 GW renewable energy respectively.

About BIMSTEC

• BIMSTEC is an International organization formed on June 6, 1997 with seven countries from South and Southeast Asia including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. It aims to promote regional cooperation for rapid economic development.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Film editor Sreekar Prasad enters Limca Book of Records for editing films in 17 languages

• Sreekar Prasad, a veteran editor has entered the Limca Book of Records for ‘films edited in the most number of languages‘. Sreekar Prasad has received the certification from the Limca Records for editing films in 17 languages. The 17 languages includes: English, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Odia, Sinhalese, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Pangchenpa, Karbi, Mishing, Bodo, and Marathi.

• The veteran video editor also holds eight National Awards including a Special Jury Award and his recent Bollywood projects includes ‘Saaho’ and ‘Super 30.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Next Delhi Police Commissioner : SN Shrivastava to succeed Amulya Patnaik

• SN Shrivastava, a senior IPS officer who was posted in Delhi this week while deadly communal violence broke out in the territory's northeast, is poised to succeed Amulya Patnaik as the Commissioner of Police. He is currently Special CP (Law and Order).

10. Puneet Sharma appointed as CFO of Axis Bank

• Axis Bank announced the appointment of Puneet Sharma as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

• Sharma will replace Jairam Sridharan, who has resigned as the Group Executive and Chief Financial Officer of the bank, with effect from March 5, 2020.

About Axis Bank

• HQ- Mumbai

• CEO-Amitabh Chaudhry

• Tagline-Badhti Ka naam Zindagi

Sumant Kathpalia appointed as new MD and CEO of IndusInd Bank

• Private sector lender IndusInd Bank announced the appointment of Sumant Kathpalia as its new Managing Director and CEO.

• Kathpalia will take over from Romesh Sobti who is set to retire later next month.

• Kathpalia has been with IndusInd Bank since 2008 and currently heads the consumer banking division at the private sector lender, and has been responsible for building the bank’s retail franchise.

About IndusInd Bank

• HQ- Pune

• MD and CEO- Sumant Kathpalia (From March 2020)

• Tagline- We Make You Feel Richer

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Realme X50 Pro 5G world's first phone with India's NavIC navigation system developed by ISRO

• Realme X50 Pro 5G is touted to be the world's first phone with NavIC.

• NavIC is a satellite navigation system developed by India's ISRO.

• Xiaomi previously said it will launch the world's first phone with NavIC.

• Realme X50 Pro 5G - India’s first 5G phone - is also the world’s first smartphone that features the NavIC navigation system. NavIC is the satellite navigation system developed by India’s premiere space agency, Indian Space and Research Organisation.

• The announcement was made by Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth on Twitter, also revealing the Realme 6 series phones, slated to launch on March 5 in India, will also support NavIC. Interestingly, Realme X50 Pro 5G has bagged one too many titles for being the first it is the first 5G phone in India, the first phone in India with a Snapdragon 865 SoC, and now, the first device to support NavIC not only in India but the world.

DAYS

28 February – National Science Day

National Science Day is celebrated every year in India on 28 February to mark the discovery of the Raman Effect by the Indian physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. He discovered the Raman Effect on 28 February, 1928 and for this discovery, he was honoured by the Nobel Prize in Physics subject in 1930.

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Important Current Affairs 27th February 2020

National New

Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog partners with NASSCOM to roll out Artificial Intelligence Modules in Indian schools:

• NITI Aayog and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) have collaborated with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) for the launch of an AI-based Module rolled out for students in Indian schools.

• The launch was done on February 27, 2020. The AI-Base Module has been introduced with an objective for students to leverage the full potential of AIM’s Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL).

• The module contains activities, videos and experiments that enable students to work through and learn the various concepts of AI.

Offshore Patrol Vessel-6 “VAJRA” launched at Chennai:

• The 6th Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV-6) ’VAJRA’ was launched in at Chennai on February 27, 2020. Shri Mansukh Mandaviya was the chief guest of the event.

• Mandaviya is the Minister of State for Shipping(I/C) and Chemicals & Fertilizers.

Government launches MIEWS Portal for Monitoring prices of TOP Crops

• Ministry of Food Processing Industries has launched the Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS) Web Portal for ‘real time monitoring’ of prices of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops.

• Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries launched the portal.

• MIEWS system is designed to provide advisories to farmers to avoid cyclical production as well as an early warning in situations of gluts and for simultaneously generating alerts for intervention under the terms of the Operation Greens(OG) scheme.

New Toll-Free Number of GST helpdesk:

• The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) recently launched a new toll-free number for GST related problems. This number will work 365 days for answering queries about the GST.

• GSTN has introduced new features to improve taxpayers’ experience by giving them more power. A new toll-free number is - 1800 103 4786'. Anyone can call on this helpline from 9 am to 9 pm.

International News

Sri Lanka to construct first electric rail track in Kandy:

• The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to build its first electric railway track in Kandy. Sri Lanka government believes that it will ease transportation and provide better infrastructure to the country.

• The Government has planned to build construct a new electric rail track between Kandy to Rambankana, about 78 km from the capital Colombo via Katugastota.

Janez Jansa named as Prime Minister of Slovenia:

• The President of Slovenia recently nominated Janez Jansa as the new Prime Minister of the country. He has decided to form a government with three other political parties.

• He has also been the Prime Minister of Slovenia twice before. He was the Prime Minister of the country from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013.

Banking and Economy

Analysts foresee 4.5 to 4.7 per cent GDP growth in 3rd quarter:

• India’s GDP growth in the October-December quarter of the financial year 2018-19 will likely print at 5-4.7 per cent, according to researchers.

• As per SBI Research’s composite leading indicator, which analyses inputs from 33 various indicators, growth will remain flat in Q3, at 4.5 per cent clocked in Q2; ICRA believes third-quarter GDP may settle at around 4.7 per cent led by a modest uptick in services, industry and agricultural growth.

Science and Technology

Incois launches three ocean-based services:

• The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois), Hyderabad, has launched three ocean-based specialised products/services — the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS), the Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS) and the Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS).

• Incois, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, provides a number of free services for users in the marine realm, including fishermen.

Sports

Five-Time Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova Retires From Tennis At 32:

• Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, one of the world’s most recognisable and highest-paid sportswomen, announced her retirement at the age of 32.

• “Tennis – I’m saying goodbye,” Sharapova stated in an article for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines.

• After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain – to compete on a different type of terrain. Sharapova burst onto the scene as a supremely gifted teenager and won her Grand Slams before serving a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.

Appointments and Resignations

Mastercard names product chief Michael Miebach as CEO, Ajay Banga moves to executive chairman:

• Mastercard’s chief executive officer of 10 years, Ajay Banga, will step down at the start of the next year and be replaced by Chief Product Officer Michael Miebach.

• India-born Banga will take on the role of executive chairman, while Miebach will become the company’s president on March 1.

• Miebach served as managing director at Barclays Bank and general manager at Citibank.

Ranking

Mukesh Ambani Top Indian in Hurun Global Rich List 2020; Jeff Bezos retains No 1 spot:

• The Hurun Global Rich List 2020 was released on 26 February 2020 to rank the top billionaires in the world.

• The ninth edition of the ranking list has 2,817 billionaires from 71 countries and 2,183 companies.

• The list has been topped by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for the third time, with an estimated net worth of $140 billion.

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