Daily Current Affairs – Feb 09, 2020

16th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas being celebrated on January 9
January 9 is observed as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. This day is celebrated every year to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. It also commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India on 9 January 1915.
Established in 2003 the celebratory event is organised by the Ministry of External Affairs every year on this day.
On the occasion of 16th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will interact with Indian Diaspora across the globe through a digital video conference.

Art Exhibition inaugurated to mark 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in Bangladesh
A ten-day-long art exhibition commemorating 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated in Dhaka. The art exhibition has been organised by the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh in association with the Bangladesh Shilpkala Academy.
The exhibition also featured unique photographs of Mahatma Gandhi since his days in South Africa to various movements in India.

As Cabinet Nods, India To Sign Pact With Gates Foundation To Improve Quality Of Country’s Health Sector
The Union Cabinet has given ex post facto approval to the memorandum of cooperation (MoC) signed between the government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in the field of health.
A programme action committee (PAC) will be set up to work on details and oversee the MoC’s implementation.
The MoC focuses on reduction in maternal, neonatal, and child morbidity and mortality, improving key nutrition outcomes by improving the reach, coverage and quality of essential primary health, immunisation and nutrition services.
It will also help increase the basket of choices and quality for family planning methods, specially for reversible methods, and improve access among young women as well as to reduce the burden of select infectious diseases — tuberculosis (TB), visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and lymphatic filariasis (LF).

Bangladesh-Myanmar to cooperate against terrorism and human trafficking
Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to act against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal drugs taking place on the borders between the two countries. The meeting also decided to have frequent interaction between the two countries to sustain cooperation in these fields.
Bangladesh and Myanmar also agreed to cooperate with each other in fighting transnational crimes and to notify if shooting takes place in the border areas.

Cabinet approves India-Mongolia agreement on space cooperation
The Cabinet gave its approval for an Agreement between India and Mongolia on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful and Civilian Purposes. The agreement was signed in New Delhi on 20th September last year during the visit of the President of Mongolia to India.
This Agreement shall enable pursuing the following potential interest areas of cooperation such as, space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.
The Agreement would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and Communications and Information Technology Authority of the Government of Mongolia, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this Agreement.

Cabinet nod for FDI in coal mining
Aiming to bring investments in coal mining, the Union Cabinet gave approval for the promulgation of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. The ordinance allows coal mining for any company present in sectors other than steel and power, and dispenses away with the captive end-use criteria.
The move will help India gain access to high-end technology for underground mining used by global miners.
Despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserve, India imported 235 million tonnes (mt) of coal last year, of which 135 mt valued at Rs171,000 crore could have been met from domestic reserves.
The Centre had set a mining target of 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020.
The Union Cabinet in August last year announced 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route in coal mining for open sale, besides creating associated infrastructure, such as washeries.

Centre notifies new Wetland Conservation Rules
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the new Wetland Conservation Rules which prohibit setting up or expansion of industries and disposal of construction and demolition waste within the wetlands.
The Ministry has said that each state and Union Territory will have to set up an authority that will define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands within their jurisdiction.
The Authority will prepare a list of all wetlands of the State or UT within three months from the date of publication of these rules. It will develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within the notified wetlands and their zone of influence.
It will also recommend mechanisms for maintenance of ecological character through promotional activities for land within the boundary of notified wetlands.
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.

Govt issues revised norms for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with other nations
The Centre has issued revised guidelines for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with other nations as part of the government’s policy of zero tolerance for crime and its endeavour to fast track the dispensation of justice.
India has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, MLAT with 42 countries and is signatory to various International Conventions for cooperation in criminal matters. Home Ministry is the designated central authority for the country.
Under the MLAT, a country can request for obtaining evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions. The evidence includes witness statements or the service of documents among others.

Gravitational Waves Signal Second-Ever Neutron Star Merger Caught by LIGO
For just the second time, scientists have used gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) to detect the merger of two colliding neutron stars. The neutron stars each fitting roughly the mass of the Sun into a city-sized space — have a combined mass greater than any other pair of neutron stars ever observed.
After the collision of these two particularly hefty neutron stars, researchers say the final merged product was likely massive enough to collapse into a black hole, gobbling up any stray matter and light located nearby.
The first gravitational-wave detection of merging neutron stars, called GW170817, made history back in 2017. It was first time astronomers spotted both gravitational waves and light from the same cosmic event — the dawn of an era of so-called “multi-messenger astronomy.”
When extremely heavy objects spiral and smash in this way, they create ripples in the fabric of space-time, and LIGO was specifically built to pick these up.

IBM appoints Sandip Patel MD of India and South Asia
IBM said it was appointing Sandip Patel as managing director for India and South Asia, succeeding Karan Bajwa who has resigned from the company to pursue other opportunities. Patel will be responsible for all strategic and operational matters related to IBM’s sales, marketing services and delivery operations in the region, including in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Patel was previously IBM’s global general manager for insurance and was based in the US city of Boston.

Institutions at Gujarat Ayurved University to get status of Institution of National Importance
The Union Cabinet has approved conferring the status of Institution of National Importance to a cluster of Ayurvedic institutions at the Gujarat Ayurved University campus in Jamnagar.
The elevation of the status of institution will provide it with the autonomy to upgrade the standard of Ayurveda education, frame various courses in Ayurveda as per national and international demand.
This recognition will help the institute to develop tertiary care in Ayurveda and to secure inter-disciplinary collaborations to give a contemporary thrust to Ayurveda.

Iran will welcome any peace initiative by India to de-escalate tensions with US: Iranian Ambassador
Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni has said that Iran will welcome any peace initiative by India to de-escalate tensions with the US following the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.
The Iranian envoy asserted that his country wants peace, not war. He said, India usually plays a very good role in maintaining peace in the world and India belongs to this region.
Mr Chegeni said, Iran will welcome any Indian initiative or any project that can help peace and prosperity in the world.

Lewis hits undefeated 99 as Windies ease to victory
Opening batsman Evin Lewis undefeated 99 helped West Indies to cruise to a five-wicket win over Ireland in the first one-day international at Kensington Oval. After dismissing Ireland for just 180, the West Indies reached their target with 100 balls to spare.
Earlier, West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph picked up four wickets as Ireland stumbled to 180 all out in the 47th over.

Malaysia Masters: Sindhu, Saina, Prannoy, Sameer to play their 2nd round matches
At Malaysia Masters badminton tournament, P V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, H S Prannoy and Sameer Verma will play their second-round matches at Kuala Lampur. Prannoy will face world number one and top seeded Japanese Kento Momota while Sameer is up against the local Lee Zii Jia.
P.V. Sindhu will take on Aya Ohori of Japan and while Saina Nehwal will face An Se Young of Korea.

Maruti output rises for second month in a row
The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki has said it had increased vehicle production for the second month in a row in December by 7.88% to almost 1.16 lakh units. The increase in output in November and December comes after nine consecutive months of decline in production amid slowdown in domestic demand.13 hours ago

Mutual funds’ asset base slips 2% in Dec.
According to data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India (Amfi), mutual fund industry saw its asset base slip by 2 per cent to Rs 26.54 lakh crore at December-end, primarily on account of outflow from debt-oriented schemes, including liquid funds.
The 44-player industry logged an all-time high asset under management (AUM) of Rs 27.04 lakh crore at November-end, as compared to Rs 26.54 lakh crore by the end of last month, representing a decline of 2 per cent.
Mutual fund houses witnessed an overall outflow of Rs 61,810 crore last month as compared to an inflow of Rs 54,419 crore in November.
Fund managers attributed the drop in the asset base to outflow of Rs 78,940 crore from debt-oriented schemes.
Among debt-oriented schemes, liquid funds, with investments in cash assets such as treasury bills, certificates of deposit and commercial paper for shorter horizon, witnessed a pull out of over Rs 71,000 crore, the highest among the fixed-income segment last month.

Over eight cr farmer families benefited under PM Kisan Scheme
Over eight crore farmer families have been benefitted under PM Kisan Scheme. This Scheme was launched in February, last year under which income support of six thousand rupees per year in three equal instalments of two thousand rupees is provided to each eligible farmer.
Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry said, more than 48 thousand 937 crore rupees has been released under the scheme till date.
The Scheme initially covered only small and marginal farmer families with landholding up to two hectares. Later the government extended the scheme to all farmer families irrespective of landholding size.

Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal to headline Australian bushfire charity match
Tennis greats Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will headline an exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open. The exhibition match at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena will raise money for bushfire relief.
Tennis Australia announced that the match is slated for January 15, the week before the first Grand Slam of the year.
Vast wildfires continue to burn across eastern Australia. 25 people have been killed since the start of the disaster in September and destroyed more than 1,800 homes.

Rs. 5,559 crore to set up northeast gas grid
Giving a major boost to development of natural gas grid in North East India, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Viability Gap Funding/ Capital Grant of 60% of the estimated cost of Rs. 9,265 crore for the project to Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL).
The North East Gas Grid project is being implemented by IGGL, a Joint Venture company of five CPSEs (GAIL, IOCL, ONGC, OIL and NRL). The total length of the pipeline is planned to be 1,656 km.
It will cover eight states of the North-Eastern region i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
The North East Gas Grid will get the natural gas supply from GAIL’s Barauni – Guwahati pipeline, which is a part of Jagdishpur – Haldia & Bokaro – Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline Project, popularly known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’.

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