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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - February 2020

Feb 2020

Feb 29, 2020

India to Attend Signing of US-Taliban Deal

  • India will be represented by its envoy to Qatar at the signing of a deal by the Taliban and the US at Doha on February 29 on the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
  • Ambassador P. Kumaran's presence at the ceremony, however, should not be interpreted as a sign of India's involvement in any way with the negotiations with the Taliban or the planned deal.
  • India remains committed to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process that retains the gains and constitutional structures put in place in Afghanistan over the past 19 years," the person added.
  • However, this will be the first time India will be officially represented at an event involving the Afghan Taliban.

MP Tops the List for Outgoing Patients for Treatment under PM-JAY: NHA

  • According to the analysis carried out by the National Health Authority (NHA) on the portability feature of the Narendra Modi government's flagship insurance scheme, PM-JAY -Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (generally referred to as the Ayushman Bharat) availed by 81,254 patients. People can seek treatment in other states under the PM-JAY, and MP (Madhya Pradesh) tops the list for outgoing patients at a number of at least 11,765. It sends its patients to Gujarat, where People have been treated under 'portability' option, which allows patients to go to the best hospital in any state to avail of free treatment.
  • As per the analysis, MP is followed by UP (Uttar Pradesh), which has sent 4,288 patients to Uttarakhand, and 3,572 patients to Maharashtra. While Bihar, in turn, has sent 3,258 patients to UP. The states of MP and UP contribute nearly half of portability cases by volume and value.

Bihar Passes Resolution to Conduct Caste-based Census

  • The Bihar Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to conduct a caste-based census in the state.
  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was advocating conducting a caste-based census since a long time.
  • The Chief Minister had earlier proposed a caste-based census in the Assembly, which was passed unanimously on Thursday.
  • Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary announced the passing of the proposal in the House.
  • As per Road Construction Minister Nandkishore Yadav, the resolution would now be sent to the central government.

Feb 28, 2020

Sikhs and Muslims Resolve Decades-old Land Dispute

  • Sikhs will bear the cost of the construction of a mosque that Muslims in Saharanpur have agreed to shift to a new location to end a decade-long dispute over a plot of land near a gurdwara in the Western Uttar Pradesh city.
  • The two communities agreed to the amicable settlement of the dispute, which triggered riots in July 2014 and left three people dead in Saharanpur's Kutubsher area.
  • Shiromani Akali Dal's state president, Gurpreet Singh Bagga, said the Sikhs had purchased the land adjacent to the gurdwara from a Muslim family for the expansion of the place of worship. "When the construction work started for the extension in July 2014, a group of Muslims objected, claiming that a mosque existed on the land. Following the dispute, clashes broke out which soon turned into a riot.

India and Myanmar Sign 10 MoUs

  • India and Myanmar exchanged 10 agreements, four of which focus on the construction of water supply systems, distribution of electricity by solar power, as well as construction of roads and schools in Rakhine state, located on the western coast of the South Asian country.
  • The deals were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar President Win Myint at the Hyderabad House.
  • Last month, India had extended relief assistance including noodles, toor dal, chana dal, soya oil, chili powder, and other edible materials, to Rakhine residents who were displaced in the ongoing conflict in Myanmar as part of its continued endeavour to support the socio-economic development of the region.
  • India and Myanmar had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December 2017 on providing assistance to the socio-economic development of Rakhine state.
  • The other agreements called for cooperation for the prevention of trafficking in persons; rescue, recovery, repatriation, and the re-integration of victims of trafficking.

First Govt. Entity to Adopt Centralised Invoicing Platform, TreDS

  • Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), an industrial organisation, functioning under the Department of Defence Production of Ministry of Defence, Government of India (GoI), became the 1st government entity to adopt centralised invoicing platform,TreDS (Trade Receivables electronic Discount System), under which a total of 41 OFBs adopted this platform, which would help smaller MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) vendors access working capital easily.
  • Under this platform, MSME vendors will get financing facilities from OFB by collateralizing the receivable invoices under sovereign guarantee. These vendors sell products that go into making tanks, complex artillery pieces, or day-to-day use items such as helmets or gloves.
  • At present, the government departments such as the Defence Ministry transact only through a treasury account with the State Bank of India (SBI). NACH (National Automated Clearing House) mandates are not enabled in these accounts & preventing the onboarding of such departments onto TReDS.
  • The adoption of TreDS by OFBs will help government departments such as the Ministry of Defence and Railway with limited MSME procurements to bring their whole vendor network on the single platform.

UP Govt. to Rename 'Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University' in Lucknow

  • The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet approved a proposal to change the name of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University in Lucknow. The Cabinet decided to rename the university as Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Languages University.
  • For this, the State University Act - 1973 will be amended. State governor Anandiben Patel had suggested that the varsity be renamed as Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti University.
  • The Urdu, Arabi-Farsi University was rechristened four times in the last 10 years under the successive regimes in the state.
  • The institution was established on October 1, 2009 during the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) rule.

Feb 27, 2020

High-level Committee Submits Report on Clause 6 of Assam Accord

  • A high-powered committee headed by retired former Gauhati High Court (HC) Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma formally submitted its report on implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord of 1985 to Assam Chief Minister (CM) Sarbananda Sonowal in the presence of state's finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and other officials. The report will now be submitted to the Union Home Minister (HM) Amit Shah.
  • The Clause 6 of the Assam Accord of 1985 ii.Assam Accord was signed between the All Assam Students Union (AASU), Union government and Assam government on August 15, 1985, in the presence of then Prime Minister (PM) Rajiv Gandhi.
  • Under this, the centre agreed to accept all the migrants that entered before 1966 & also affirms to provide constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to protect and preserve the cultural, social, linguistic identity of the Assamese people.
  • The Central Government on July 16, 2019 setup a high-level committee for recommending measures to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

Cabinet Approves Amendments to Give Occupancy Rights to Scheduled Tribes in Lakshadweep

  • The union cabinet approved amendment of the Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulation, 1965 to confer occupancy rights to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in Lakshadweep.
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Lakshadweep Island mostly comprises ST population and they did not have occupancy rights.
  • This decision has been taken to give them occupancy rights. The decision is important from the point of view of the tribal community. It happened as part of good governance initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The gap came to light due to continuous review.

Session of Joint Ministerial Commission between India and Australia

  • The 16th Commission of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) was held between India and Australia in New Delhi. The meeting was co-chaired by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Government of India and Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia.
  • India & Australia acknowledged the growth of economic relationship in strategic, trade and people-to-people links since the last JMC held in June 2018.
  • Both the countries agreed to enhance bilateral trade & investment through revival of the bilateral CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) negotiations, harmonise standards and regulations on important products.
  • India and Australia agreed to work on market access issues to increase trade and mutual recognition of educational qualifications of the 2 countries.
  • They agreed to increase the direct flights between India and Australia. India sought early resolution of the issue on taxation of off-shore income of Indian firms through the use of India-Australia Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).

G. K. Reddy Inaugurates National Cyber Research and Innovation Centre

  • The Minister of State for Home Affairs Ministry, Mr. Gangapuram Kishan Reddy inaugurated the National Cyber Research, Innovation and Capacity Centre at Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) in Hyderabad, Telangana State (T.S). The objective of the centre is to help the nation to combat cyber threats.

Cabinet Okays Adaptation of Central Act in J&K

  • The Union Cabinet approved issuance of an order for adaptation of Central Acts in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 by the Central government.
  • After coming into force of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir has been reorganised into UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on October 31, 2019.
  • The Central laws, which are applicable to whole of India except the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir before appointed date October 31, 2019, are now applicable to UT of Jammu and Kashmir with effect from October 31, 2019.
  • As per Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Central government has powers to modify the existing laws through repeal or amendment within one year of the constitution of the UTs.
  • The Cabinet also approved the exemption of the India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL) from the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Guidelines, except reservation and vigilance policies.

Feb 26, 2020

Polls for 55 Rajya Sabha Seats in March

  • Fifty-five Rajya Sabha seats will be up for grabs next month in the biggest biennial polls since Prime Minister Narendra Modi won his second term.
  • According to calculations based on the election process to the House of Elders, voting across 17 state assemblies, set for March 26, may lead to a net loss of four seats for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and a gain of three seats for the Congress and its allies. At the same time, pro-BJP parties will see a net gain of two seats in this round, while K. Chandrasekhar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi, considered a fence sitter, will also gain two seats.
  • The results are likely to see the BJP's dependence on its allies and outside supporters to pass bills growing, at least for the time being. But BJP insiders said the results are unlikely to have a major impact on the current equation in the Upper House as the NDA, despite being in the minority, was able to push key bills such as Triple Talaq, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and nullification of Article 370, by taking advantage of a fractured Opposition.
  • The BJP-led NDA, the largest grouping in the Upper House with 99 seats, will be reduced to 95 seats while the Congress and allies (64 seats) are set to reach the tally of 67 at the end of this election.

Bihar Assembly Passes Unanimous Resolution

  • The Bihar assembly passed a unanimous resolution categorically stating that there is no need of NRC in the State and that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise be done strictly according to the 2010 format.
  • The all-party resolution got the approval of the legislative assembly in the post-lunch session following a debate on the adjournment motion moved by leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav and others in the House.
  • Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary read out the resolution in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and opposition leaders among others to which all the members approved by thumping of desks.
  • Besides saying no to NRC, and conducting NPR strictly on 2010 pattern, the resolution stated that "transgenders" be included in the gender column of the NPR.

Deepak Prakash Jharkhand's New BJP President

  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief J. P. Nadda appointed Deepak Prakash as the party's Jharkhand unit president.
  • A new team now helms the BJP in Jharkhand with Prakash's appointment two months after the party lost power in the state under former Chief Minister Raghubar Das and state president Laxman Gilua's leadership. Both Das and Gilua lost assembly elections.
  • The BJP separately nominated Abdul Khader Haji as the chief of its Lakshadweep unit.

Himachal Pradesh 1st State to Achieve 100% LPG Coverage

  • Himachal Pradesh became the 1st state in the country to have 100% LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) coverage due to the implementation of PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana) scheme.
  • Following the implementation of the PMUY scheme, the state government launched 'Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojana' in May 2018 to cover the scheme to remaining households.
  • Under the scheme except families having a pensioner, income taxpayer or any member employed with the government, board, corporation etc, all households of the state without an LPG connection were eligible.
  • Nearly 2.64 lakh free gas connections were provided through the state funded Grihini Suvidha Yojana & 1.36 lakh were benefited through PMUY scheme.
  • About PMUY scheme: The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 1st May, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Under this scheme 5 Crore LPG connections will be provided to BPL (Below Poverty Line) families & Rs. 8000 crore were allocated towards the implementation of the scheme.
  • PMUY scheme aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don't have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.

Madhya Pradesh Launches Unified Vehicle Registration Card

  • Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to launch the unified vehicle registration card and the second state to launch the unified driving license.
  • The Chief Minister launched the service to issue the unified vehicle registration card and the unified driving license at the state secretariat.
  • Madhya Pradesh Transport Department Commissioner V. Madhu Kumar said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had issued the guidelines to bring uniformity in driving licenses and vehicle registration cards across the country in March last year.
  • Kumar said that the unified smart cards for driving license and vehicle registration will each have a QR code that will help in verifying authenticity of the data printed on the cards.
  • These cards will be a standard across the country.

B. P. Dharmadhikari May Be Chief Justice of Bombay HC

  • Acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court (HC), Justice B. P. Dharmadhikari, was recommended by the Supreme Court (SC) collegium for appointment as the Chief Justice of that HC. Justice B. P. Dharmadhikari was the second senior-most judge in Bombay HC after the retirement of former Chief Justice, Pradeep Nandrajog.

Haryana Tops in Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Payouts rating for 2019-20

  • According to the recent ratings regarding Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) payouts, prepared for the 1st time by the Central Government,
  • Haryana emerged as the best state in DBT payouts (Rs. 4782 crore in over 4 crore transactions) in 2019-20. While West Bengal emerged as the worst performer in DBT payouts (Rs. 8793 crore through 5 crore transactions) and ranked 36th position.
  • The rating, which ranked 36 states and UTs (Union Territories), according to DBT payouts compared to their population.

Punjab Resolution Seeks Waiver of Passport Rule and Fee for Kartarpur

  • The Punjab assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to ask Pakistan to remove the condition of having a passport and paying $20 (Rs. 1,436) to visit the Kartarpur Sahib shrine using the corridor inaugurated in November 2019.
  • Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa moved the resolution in the assembly.
  • The resolution comes close on the heels of Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh's demand that the governments of India and Pakistan waive the condition of passport for Indian pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor.
  • Addressing a religious function organised by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak, Giani Harpreet Singh said that the condition of carrying a passport as identity proof is the main reason behind the low turnout of Indian pilgrims at the Kartarpur shrine, the last resting place of Guru Nanak.

India-US Finalise Defence Deals, Sign 3 MoUs in Energy Sector

  • A successful two-day trip culminated with a carefully handled press interaction by US President Donald Trump. India and US decided to forge ahead on all spheres of the relationship despite the concerns regarding the tough negotiations on trade but the US President clearly side-stepped all domestic issues of India or those that India considers "internal".
  • The biggest take away from the visit was moving forward in the energetic, defense and strategic sphere. The $3 billion-worth of helicopter purchase was a significant deal and sources say $8-10 billion-worth of deals are in the offing.
  • The two sides increased cooperation in the area of homeland security and in fighting international crime. The thrust of the conversations was also on fighting drug trafficking.
  • The two countries concluded three bilateral agreements in the health and energy sectors: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mental health, the second one that deals with the safety of medical products and a Letter of Cooperation was also signed by Indian Oil Corporation and ExxonMobil India LNG Limited, with Chart Industries of the US.

Feb 25, 2020

Govt. Will Complete 5-year Term, Uddhav Tells Alliance MLAs

  • Amid speculation about the stability of his government, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who held a meeting with all ruling parties legislators, assured them that their government would complete its five year tenure.
  • Thackeray, who held the meeting on day one of the budget session of the state legislature, also told legislators that co-ordination among the senior brass of the three parties was perfect.

MoU to Develop Crematoria, Ghats in Gangotri and Badrinath

  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked among the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), State Programme Management Group-Uttarakhand (SPMG-UK) and Indorama Charitable Trust (ICT) to work together for giving a facelift to the bathing ghat at Badrinath and ghat and crematoria at Gangotri in Uttarakhand.
  • The cost outlay of the project is Rs. 26 crore. It will be financed by Indrona Group as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The project is under the Clean Ganga Mission.
  • The project's implementation will commence by March 2020 and is expected to be completed in 15 months. The MoU was signed in the presence of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Jal Shakti Minister.
  • This project was taken up under the government initiative of "Har Kaam Desh Ke Naam".

Narendra Singh Tomar Inaugurates the 4th Anniversary Celebration of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurba...

  • The Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the 4th anniversary celebration of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi. The Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21st February 2016, with the vision to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth. The objective is to develop the clusters in a holistic manner by providing all the basic amenities, infrastructure as well as economic development opportunities in an integrated and time bound manner.
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