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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - January 2020

Jan 2020

Jan 17, 2021

Rajnath Singh Unveils India's First Indigenously Developed Driverless Metro Car

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the country's first indigenously designed and developed Driverless Metro Car at the BEML manufacturing facility in Bengaluru.
  • According to BEML, state-of-the-art driverless metro cars, being manufactured at the company's Bangalore Complex, are made up of stainless-steel body with a capacity of carrying 2280 passengers in six-cars Metro train-set.
  • BEML bagged a total order of 576 cars for Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)'s MRS1 project and the supply is scheduled progressively up to January 2024.
  • BEML recently opened its Depot office at Charkop Metro Depot, MMRDA, Mumbai for commissioning, testing and round-the-clock services for Driverless Metro cars.

BSP to Go Alone in UP, Uttarakhand Polls

  • Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati announced that her party would contest the state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand next year on its own.
  • Mayawati said that the BSP in both these states, unlike Bihar (2020 Assembly elections) and Lok Sabha polls (2019), will not have any understanding with any other party.
  • She appealed to her party workers not to celebrate her 65th birthday owing to the pandemic and instead help those in need in whatever way they can. She also released her book titled "A travelogue of My Struggle Ridden Life and BSP movement" on the occasion.

India and Nepal Commit to Early Completion of Boundary Works

  • Eight months after the boundary row erupted between India and Nepal, Foreign Ministers of the two countries discussed the issue and expressed the commitment to early completion of the boundary works in the disputed areas.
  • Visiting Nepal Foreign minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali also said that the two sides are mindful that they should not let any outstanding issue be there forever and become irritant in an otherwise friendly relationship.
  • Asked about China's influence, he said that Nepal has always ensured their soil is not misused against any of its neighbours.
  • After the bilateral meeting with External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar, Gyawali said that we discussed the boundary matters. We both are committed to finalise it at the earliest." He was responding to a question at an interaction organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs.

Jan 16, 2021

India, Oman Hold Discussions on Bilateral Cooperation

  • A meeting of the India-Oman Strategic Consultative Group (IOSCG) was held, wherein both sides participated in bilateral discussions pertaining to many issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • According to an official release by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), during the IOSCG both sides reviewed the entire spectrum of the India-Oman relationship including in political, energy, trade, investment, defence, security, space, mining, S&T, culture and consular fields. It was agreed that the two sides will pursue various agreements and MOUs in these areas for a future-oriented relationship.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Sanjay Bhattacharya, Secretary (CPV&OIA), MEA while the Omani delegation was led by Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali al-Harthy, Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs, Foreign Ministry.

AK Sharm Joins BJP in UP

  • Gujarat cadre IAS officer AK Sharma, who recently took voluntary retirement from service, formally joined the BJP. He joined the party in Lucknow.
  • Sharma joined the BJP at a time the party is finalising candidates for elections to the 12 seats of the Legislative Council on January 28. The last date for filing of nominations is January 18.

Jan 15, 2021

PM Modi to Address Startup India International Summit

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address participants from over two dozen countries at the two-day Prarambh: Startup India International Summit.
  • Over 200 global speakers will be involved in the summit with 24 sessions. The summit is focussed on enhancing multilateral cooperation and engagement with countries globally to collectively develop and strengthen the startup ecosystems.
  • The Union commerce ministry's promotion of industry and internal trade department is organising the event. The two-day Summit is being organised as a follow up of the announcement made by the Prime Minister at the fourth BIMSTEC [Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation] Summit held in Kathmandu in August 2018 wherein India committed to host the BIMSTEC Startup Conclave.

No Boundary Talks During Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali's Visit

  • In a subtle message ahead of the Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to India for the India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), Delhi has made it clear that boundary issues will not be discussed.
  • Gyawali arrived in the national capital on a three-day visit during which he will co-chair the JCM with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar and is expected to discuss COVID-19-related cooperation while reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
  • This is the first high-level visit from Kathmandu in over a year and comes in the backdrop of India-Nepal row over the new map issued by the KP Sharma Oli government. The new Nepali map showed Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories drawing the ire of New Delhi which dismissed the "Unjustified Cartographic Assertion".

Congress Promises NYAY Scheme in Manifesto for Kerala Assembly Election

  • Ahead of Kerala Assembly polls, the United Democratic Front (UDF) released salient features from the draft of the upcoming Election Manifesto with NYAY scheme proposed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Lok Sabha election included in it.
  • We will be implementing NYAY scheme proposed by Rahul Gandhi in Kerala when UDF comes to power. Every deserving family will be given Rs. 6,000 per month which will be Rs. 72,000 annually," said Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala.
  • Ramesh said that draft of people's manifesto is getting ready and the final manifesto will come after receiving opinions from people.
  • The manifesto is being prepared by the UDF committee after taking opinions from people. Salient features include secular values, equality and will lay emphasis on issues of farmers, women, children and youths.

Former Surat Collector Appointed BJP's State Unit Vice-president

  • Gujarat BJP president C. R. Paatil made nine more appointments in the party's organisation. Significant among the appointments are Mahendra Patel, a retired Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, as vice-president, and Yamal Vyas as party's chief spokesperson.
  • A 2003-batch IAS officer, Patel is also a former collector of Surat district who has also been appointed as executive director of the Metro Rail Project in Surat. During Covid-19 pandemic, he was appointed as an officer on special duty and was made the in-charge of Covid-19 related activity in Surat district. He also held the post of commissioner of municipalities administration in Gandhinagar.

Jan 14, 2021

Mumbai Second most Congested City in the World after Moscow

  • According to the latest report released by TomTom Traffic index which conducted a study in 416 cities across 57 countries, Mumbai was the second most congested city in the world after Moscow in 2020 in terms of traffic.
  • Bengaluru and New Delhi - ranked sixth and eighth respectively in the list of most congested cities.
  • Mumbai's position worsened from the fourth spot in 2019 and 2018. Bengaluru improved its position from fifth to sixth with 51 per cent of congestion compared to 71 per cent in 2019.
  • According to TomTom data, drivers in Mumbai spend an average of 53 per cent extra travel time because of the traffic congestion. Other global cities that feature among the top 10 include Manila from The Philippines, Bogota from Colombia, Moscow and Novosibirsk from Russia, Kyiv in Ukraine, Lima from Peru, Istanbul from Turkey and Jakarta from Indonesia.

B. S. Yediyurappa Expands Cabinet, 7 New Ministers Take Oath

  • Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa expanded his cabinet, inducting seven new ministers. This comes after days of hectic parleys and discussions, including with the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
  • Those who took oath are: MTB Nagaraj, Umesh Katti, Aravind Limbavali, Murugesh Nirani, R. Shankar, C.P. Yogeeshwara and Angara S.
  • This was the third expansion of the cabinet since Yediyurappa assumed charge in July last year after the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) government in the wake of revolt by 17 MLAs of the coalition partners.

Dr Ajay Kumar Co-chairs 13th India-Vietnam Defence Security Dialogue

  • The 13th India-Vietnam Defence Security Dialogue was held in a virtual format. The virtual event was co-chaired by Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar along with Vietnamese Sr. Lt Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Defence Minister, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
  • Defence Secretary and the Deputy Defence Minister expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries in spite of the limitations imposed by COVID 19.
  • Both countries exchanged views on the plan of action from the recently concluded Virtual Summit between Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc in December 2020.
  • Both the sides reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and expressed commitment to further elevate engagements between the Armed Forces under the framework of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
  • Both sides agreed that in the recent past our respective countries have made notable strides in Defence Industry and Technology cooperation and look forward to even greater cooperation in this field.

First time in History, Union Budget 2021 to be Paperless

  • Union Budget 2021, slated to be presented on February 1, is going to be completely paperless in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This will be the first time since independence that the budget papers will not be printed. The Centre has received permission for the same from both houses of parliament. The decision has been taken as several people (approximately 100) would be required to stay at the printing press for around a fortnight amid the COVID-19 fear.
  • The budget papers are usually printed at the ministry's in-house printing press in the North Block. This year's budget may reportedly witness several conventions being broken as the traditional 'Halwa' ceremony, which is a given every year is also not likely to take place, or a low-key function may be held with limited gathering in attendance.

Jan 13, 2021

India-Bangladesh Agree to Enhance Fight against Global Terrorist Groups

  • India and Bangladesh agreed to enhance the fight against terrorist entities, including global terrorist groups as well as other fugitives, wherever they are present and active.
  • The first delegation-level virtual police chiefs' dialogue between India and Bangladesh also agreed to establish designated 'nodal points' for timely and effective handling and response to existing as well as emerging security and counter-terrorism challenges. 
  • Both sides reiterated the need for sharing of real time intelligence and feedback through the designated 'nodal points', while appreciating each other's ongoing action against insurgent groups operating in the region.

BJP Gets a Boost in Darjeeling with a Clutch of GJM Leaders Joining It

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received a shot in the arm in the Darjeeling hills when some leaders of its former partner, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), joined the saffron camp.
  • The BJP which won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in 2009, retained it in 2014 and 2019 with support from local political parties, the most important among which was the undivided GJM led by Bimal Gurung.
  • The GJM split in 2017 when Gurung, who was charged under anti-terror law by the West Bengal government for the violent Gorkhaland movement, went into hiding. One faction of the party, headed by Binoy Tamang, became an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and it currently runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

Suriname's President to be Chief Guest at Republic Day 2021

  • Chandrikapersad Santokhi, Indian-origin President of Suriname, will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2021. The news comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to India. 
  • The Suriname President was earlier the Chief Guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, which was conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs. 
  • Chandrikapersad Santokhi was sworn in as the 9th President of the Republic of Suriname in July 2020 after his party- Progressive Reform Party won the 2020 General Elections by claiming 20 out of the total 51 seats.
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