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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - October 2020

Oct 2020

Oct 31, 2020

India and Mexico Eighth Joint Commission Meeting

  • India and Mexico held the eighth Joint Commission Meeting. The countries appreciated the recent progress in the bilateral trade between them.
  • The bilateral cooperation includes areas such as trade, agriculture, investment, health and education. The meeting was presided by the foreign ministers of the countries. They agreed to add new momentum to the relations between the countries in the areas of science and technology, health, trade and commerce, energy, space.
  • The countries during the meet agreed to use their forthcoming term in United Nations Security Council to strengthen multilateralism.
  • Mexico enjoys "Privileged Partnership" with India since 2007. The countries in 2015, agreed to work on "Strategic Partnership". The countries have signed since then signed bilateral agreements on Extradition, Investment Promotion and Protection, Space Cooperation and Administrative assistance in customs matters.

Public Affairs Index 2020

  • The Public Affairs Index 2020 was released by Public Affairs Centre, a non-profit organisation. According to the index, Kerala was the best governed the state. The report was released by the committee headed by former Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Kasturirangan.
  • The states were ranked in the context of sustainable development. The governance of the states was analysed based on three pillars namely growth, equity and sustainability.
  • Kerala was awarded with the top most ranking and Uttar Pradesh with the bottom most ranking.
  • In large state category, Kerala topped the listing with an index of 1.388 followed by Tamil Nadu with 0.91, Andhra Pradesh with 0.5 31 and Karnataka with 0.468. The bottom most ranking was occupied by Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar in the same category
  • In the small state category Goa topped the list followed by Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh. The bottom most states in this category were Manipur, Delhi and Uttarakhand.
  • In the category of Union Territories Chandigarh was the top performing region followed by Puducherry and Lakshadweep. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir were the least performing Union Territories.

Shiv Sena Likely to Nominate Urmila Matondkar to the MLC

  • The Shiv Sena is likely to get actress Urmila Matondkar to be the Sena nominee to the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC).
  • As per reports, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had called up Matondkar to seek her consent and Shiv Sena leaders say that she has agreed.
  • The Sena sounding out Matondkar to include her name in the list of four MLCs who would be nominated to the Legislative Council comes even as the equations between Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi have been frosty at best.
  • Twelve MLCs can be nominated under the governor's quota to the Legislative Council under the social, cultural and sports category. This rule is seldom followed by political parties in many states who send politicians to the Legislative Council.
  • However, sending politicians under the Governor's quota would be difficult this time as there are possibilities that Koshyari may reject the names if they don't come under the social, cultural and sports fields. Koshyari has been at logger heads with the MVA ever since the government was formed.

Nation's First Elevated Rail Track

  • Having missed several deadlines in the past one year, the Railways have now fixed December 5 as a new deadline to complete the entire work of the nation's first elevated railway track in Rohtak City.
  • As per reports, electrification work was underway and it was likely to be completed by November 20. Thereafter, the final trial of electric train on this 4.8 km long track would be conducted while the track would be ready for operation by December 5.
  • The foundation stone of the Rs. 350-crore ambitious project was laid by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in March 2018 and a deadline of 18 months was fixed to complete it.
  • The project missed the first deadline in November 2019 due to encroachment on the one side of the track. The work could not also be completed before the second deadline on April 30 and third on June 30. The deadline was extended twice thereafter.

Oct 30, 2020

India's Concern over Depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in Bank Note

  • India conveyed its serious concern to Saudi Arabia over the incorrect depiction of the country's borders on a new Saudi currency note, which shows almost the whole of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir as a separate entity.
  • The twenty-riyal bank note was issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority earlier this month to commemorate the country's presidency of the G20 ahead of the grouping's virtual summit during November 21-22.
  • The Indian Government has asked the Saudi side to take urgent corrective steps in this regard.
  • The Saudi bank note has also irked Pakistan because it depicts Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan as part of the separate entity. One side of the note features Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the G20 logo while the other features a world map showing the members of the G20 in a darker shade.

MoU Signed Between India and Cambodia Gets Approval

  • The union cabinet approved the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and Cambodia on cooperation in the field of medicine and health.
  • The MoU will increase the cooperation between the countries through joint initiatives and technological developments in health sector. It will also strengthen bilateral ties between the countries.
  • The main areas of cooperation included in the MoU are family planning, mother and child health, technology transfer, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, Epidemiology and Public Health, Disease Control, medical education, training in clinical, management skill and para-clinical, health manpower development and drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project Gets Approval

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi approved the Phase II and Phase III Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP). These two phases are to be implemented with financial assistance from the World Bank and AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank).
  • The overall cost of the project is Rs. 10,211 crore. It is to be implemented in 10 years duration. The external funding of the project is Rs. 7,000 crore. The rest of Rs. 3,211 crore is to come from the implementing agencies. The Government of India is to contribute Rs. 1.024 crore.
  • These phases aim to improve safety and performance of dams. Also, it aims to strengthen dam safety institutional setup. Also, the project will explore alternative incidental means to generate incidental revenue at selected dams. The revenue will then be used for sustainable operation and maintenance of the dams.
  • The project originally aimed to improve 223 dams in India. Later the count was increased. More than 80% of dams in India are 25 years old. 

Oct 29, 2020

Five BSP MLAs Join Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party

  • In an unprecedented development, five legislators of Bahujan Samaj Party have withdrawn their support to the BSP`s official candidate, Ramji Gautam, for the Rajya Sabha biennial elections.
  • The five legislators informed the returning officers that their signatures as proposers for Gautam were forged.
  • Later the five legislators - Aslam Chaudhary, Aslam Raini, Muztaba Siddiqui, Hakam Lal Bind and Govind Jatav - went to the Samajwadi Party office to meet Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.

Feni Bridge Joining Sabrum in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh

  • The Government of India announced that the bridge construction of the 1.8 km long Feni Bridge joining Sabrum in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh is to be completed by December 2020.
  • The bridge is to be built over Feni River. It will link Tripura with Bangladesh. The construction of the bridge began in December 2010.
  • After completion, the bridge will be the only land link between India's eastern states and its western states other than Assam.
  • The key stone for the bridge was officially laid by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in June 2015.

Oct 28, 2020

India Post and US Postal Service Sign Agreement

  • India Post and US Postal Service signed agreement for electronic exchange of data related to postal shipments.
  • Based on the agreement, the respective bodies will transmit and receive electronic data of international postal items before their arrival. This will help the customs to clear the postal items well in advance, that even before the shipment reaches the port.
  • In 2019, around 30% of small packets and letters transmitted by India Post were to USA. Also, 20% of outbound EMS was to US. Around 60% parcels received originated from the USA. All these data are in relation to India Post, that is, sent and received by India Post. 
  • According to Ministry of Communications, the main objective of the agreement is to facilitate ease of exports through postal channels.

Amarinder Singh Launches the Phase-II of UIEP

  • Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab virtually launched the phase-II of Rs. 11,000 crore Urban Environment Improvement Programme (UIEP). He launched the programme from Bachat Bhawan, Ludhiana in Punjab. The project will focus on the development of the state's urban infrastructure and well- organised service delivery systems to the urban population.
  • Punjab spent Rs. 3000 crore in the first phase of UIEP.
  • There will be a canal based water supply in the four major cities of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Amritsar.
  • The foundation stone to implement the project was laid for Patiala during the launch. The work for all the cities has been launched at Jalandhar. The state government will spend Rs. 650 crore for wash of 'Buddha Nullah" in Ludhiana.

Polls Open in First Phase of Bihar Elections

  • Polling began in 71 assembly constituencies of Bihar in the first phase of three-phase elections amid tight security and COVID-19 guidelines in place. 
  • Of the nearly 2.15 crore electors eligible to exercise the franchise, 1.12 crore are male voters, 1.01 crore are female and 599 are categorised as the third gender.
  • The guidelines include lowering the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering the polling hours and extending postal ballot facility to those above 80.
  • The candidates in the fray in the first phase include 952 men and 114 women.

Chhattisgarh House Passes Agri Bill to Counter Centre's Farm Laws

  • Amid the Congress opposition to the Centre's new farm laws, the party-led government in Chhattisgarh brought its own agriculture amendment Bill, seeking to protect farmers from fluctuating market prices.
  • The Chhattisgarh Krishi Upaj Mandi (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed in the Assembly after which Speaker Charandas Mahant adjourned the two-day special session of the House.
  • Introducing the amendment Bill in the House, state Agriculture Minister Ravindra Choubey said that it was aimed at protecting farmers from fluctuating market prices and payment risks.
  • The special session was convened amid apprehensions among farmers across the country that the Centre's new laws would harm them, including a fear that their land and produce could be handed over to corporate.

Oct 27, 2020

BJP Wins LAHDC-Leh Polls

  • The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) secured its first major victory in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh after it swept the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) polls in Leh bagging a whopping 15 out of 26 seats.
  • The LAHDC, Leh elections took place on October 22 and recorded a 65.07 per cent turnout. An electorate of 89,776, including 45,025 women from the region voted in the 294 polling stations that were set up across 26 constituencies of the Leh district.
  • Around 94 candidates including 26 each of the BJP and Congress ran for the  LAHDC, Leh elections. This year, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) tried its luck for the first time fielding 19 candidates. The remaining 23 contestants were independents.
  • This is the second consecutive win for the saffron party which had won the LAHDC-Leh last elections.

Central Vigilance Commission Adopts Integrity Pact

  • The Central Vigilance Commission has modified the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of "Integrity Pact" in government firm for purchase related activities.
  • As per the amended SOP:
  • For appointed as Integrity External Monitors (IEMs), the Ministry, department or organisation worried has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the Commission.
  • Maximum tenure of IEMs: 3 years in an organisation.
  • An Integrity pact is to make sure equity, transparency and private enterprise in public procurement.
  • I was developed as a tool for blocking corruption in public contracting.
  • It is a surveillance tool that anticipates an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, performing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
  • It is a tool created by Transparency International.
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