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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - December 2020

Dec 2020

May 29, 2021

India-Uzbekistan Ties Set to Grow

  • India and landlocked Uzbekistan are set to reboot ties, taking advantage of Iran's likely accommodation in the international mainstream and the rapidly approaching political transition in Afghanistan.
  • Three major factors are likely to shape New Delhi's relationship with Uzbekistan-a resource rich nation with a deep historical connect with India. Separated by only 3000 kilometres, India sees Uzbekistan as a gateway to Central Asia. The country can also become a cockpit of the rivalry between India and China, with Russia as the elephant in the room.
  • Already India, Iran and Uzbekistan have held their first ministerial meeting to leverage the location of Chabahar port. India and Uzbekistan under the 2011 Ashgabat Agreement also plan to build a transit and transport corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

Randeep Hooda Removed as UN Ambassador

  • Actor Randeep Hooda has been removed as the ambassador of Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, United Nation's environmental treaty, following row over his derogatory comment against BSP chief Mayawati.

May 28, 2021

Assam Appoints 'Guardian Ministers'

  • The Assam Cabinet appointed ministers who would act as guardians for different districts in the state.
  • These guardians, each a minister of the Himanta Biswa Sarma Cabinet, have been given the responsibility of 2-3 districts to take stock of welfare schemes, implementation of infrastructure projects etc.
  • The guardian ministers will be responsible for administration in the districts under their charge. But they won't be directly involved with people from those districts.
  • Earlier, there was a provision of in-charge ministers, but their specific roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined. The guardian ministers will follow the decisions taken by the Cabinet about their duties.
  • The guardian ministers will be assigned with a secretary each and both will have to visit their districts at least once a month. They will also have to visit the districts during emergency situations and conduct extensive tours during natural disasters like floods, cyclones etc.

Govt. Approves Appointment of B. V. R. Subrahmanyam as Commerce Secretary

  • J&K Chief Secretary, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam, was posted as OSD in the Union Commerce Ministry and will succeed Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan on his retirement next month-end.
  • An order issued by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said: The appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of B.V.R. Subrahmanyam IAS (CG; 87), Chief Secretary Jammu & Kashmir as officer on special duty in the Department of Commerce.
  • With the shifting of Subrahmanyam from J&K, three seniormost IAS officers -- Pradip Kumar Tripathi, Sudhanshu Panday and Arun Kumar Mehta -- are front runners for the Chief Secretary's post.

RAW Chief Goel Gets One-year Extension

  • Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Kumar Goel and Intelligence Bureau head Arvind Kumar were given a one-year extension in their services.
  • Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from Punjab cadre, would continue to be the Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for a period one-year beyond the presence tenure which ends on June 30.
  • Similarly, Kumar, an IPS officer of Assam and Meghalaya cadre, will continue to head the Intelligence Bureau for a period of one year after June 30.

May 27, 2021

Congress Wants Lakshadweep Administrator Removed

  • Kerala Leader of Opposition (LoP) VD Satheesan wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking the newly-appointed Administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel to be immediately called back as the people of the island are being subjected to his undemocratic measures.
  • "The new Administrator has interfered in the powers of District Panchayat, the only representative body of the people. In an island where there are nominal violations of the rules, the Administrator has invoked Goonda act which we feel is to suppress the voice of the people," said VD Satheesan.

K. Lakshminarayanan is Pro Tem Speaker of Puducherry Assembly

  • Puducherry Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan appointed AINRC MLA K Lakshminarayanan as pro tem speaker of the territorial assembly.
  • The Lt Governor administered the oaths of office and affirmation in Tamil to Lakshminarayanan at Raj Nivas.
  • Lakshminarayanan, a law graduate, has been holding the Raj Bhavan constituency since his first win in 2001.

India Approves Opening of First Consulate in the Maldives

  • The Indian government approved the opening of a new consulate in Addu City of the Maldives this year to augment the country's diplomatic presence in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
  • A meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the proposal for opening the first such consulate in the Maldives, which has an important place in the government's "Neighbourhood First" policy.
  • Opening of a consulate general in Addu City will help augment India's diplomatic presence in Maldives and make it commensurate with the existing and aspired level of engagement.
  • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity. Maldives occupies an important place in the 'Neighbourhood First Policy' and the 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision of the Government of India.

TN Assembly Will Pass Resolution against 3 Farm Laws

  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin said that the government will bring a resolution in the state Assembly asking the Union government to withdraw the three farm laws.
  • The three farm laws brought in by the government are -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

PM Modi and President Macron Discuss Positive Outcomes of India-EU Leaders' Meet

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke over phone and discussed the positive outcomes of the recently concluded India-EU leaders' meeting.
  • Both agreed that the announcements regarding resumption of negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreements, and India-EU Connectivity Partnership were welcome steps.
  • Modi thanked Macron for the assistance rendered by France to India's Covid response.
  • The leaders discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

May 26, 2021

Post of Director at NDRF Academy in Nagpur

  • The government has approved the creation of a post of Director at the National Disaster Response Force Academy in Nagpur.
  • The approval for the creation of the post in the Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) was given at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • With the creation of the post of the director at the NDRF academy, the command and control of the organisation will be entrusted to a senior and experienced officer, who can steer the institution as per the intended objectives.
  • The academy will impart skill-based practical training to over 5,000 personnel annually, from NDRF, SDRF and other stakeholders, besides disaster response agencies of SAARC and other countries.

Subodh Kumar Jaiswal is CBI Director for Two Years

  • Senior IPS officer Subodh Kumar Jaiswal was appointed as the new CBI chief for two years.
  • A 1985-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Maharashtra cadre, Jaiswal is currently the director general of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
  • A Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led three-member selection committee had shortlisted his name for the post.
  • He has also served as Maharashtra's director general of police in the past.

India and New Zealand to Boost Defence, Security Relations

  • India and New Zealand carried out a comprehensive review of the bilateral ties and decided to enhance the depth and momentum of engagement in areas of defence and security, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity and climate change.
  • At a virtual meeting held under the framework of India-New Zealand foreign office consultations, the two sides also discussed issues relating to access to Covid-19 vaccines and medicines to contain the Covid-19 pandemic globally.
  • Both sides exchanged views on various regional issues and reiterated the importance of closer cooperation for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Jayant Chaudhary is New RLD President

  • Jayant Chaudhary was appointed as the new national president of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD.
  • His elevation to the post comes following the demise of party president and his father Ajit Singh, who had succumbed to COVID-19.
  • The decision to elevate the 42-year-old Chaudhary, who was till now the party vice president, was taken during a virtual meeting of the party's national executive.

May 25, 2021

Three Shortlisted for CBI Chief's Post

  • A high-powered committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shortlisted three names, CISF Director General Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Sashastra Seema Bal DG Kumar Rajesh Chandra and Home Ministry Special Secretary VSK Kaumudi, for the post of CBI Director.
  • Jaiswal, a 1985-batch IPS officer, is a former Maharashtra DGP. He is at present the CISF Director General.
  • Chandra, a 1985-batch IPS officer of the Bihar cadre, is at present posted as the SSB DG, while Kaumudi, a 1986-batch IPS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, is posted as the Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the MHA.

UP Poll on Mind, BJP-RSS Brass Draws Image Makeover Strategy

  • Ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year, top BJP and RSS leaders met to devise a strategy to counter growing perceptions against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over handling of the second Covid wave.
  • PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were present at the meeting between the BJP and and the RSS to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the image of the party and its governments at the Centre and UP. BJP president JP Nadda, RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale and UP general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal were present too.

India and Israel Sign work Programme for Cooperation in Agriculture

  • India and Israel have signed a three-year joint work programme till 2023 with an aim to enhance cooperation in the field of agriculture.
  • So far, four such joint work programmes have been successfully completed. Under this programme, Centres of Excellence (CoEs) were set up to train farmers about Israeli farm and water technologies.
  • However, under the new work programme, Villages of Excellence (VoE) -- a model ecosystem in agriculture -- will be created across eight states alongside 13 CoEs within 75 villages and will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards.
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