Current Affairs Nature

 On February 21, UNESCO is celebrating International Mother Language Day. It is important to celebrate the day as globalization process has put languages under threat and they are disappearing altogether. When languages fade away, the cultural diversity of the world fades away as well.
  • Highlights
Every year, UNESCO has been celebrating International Mother Language Day since 2000. The main purpose of celebrating the day is to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity. This year the International Mother Language Day is celebrated under the theme
Theme: Languages without Borders
  • Need
Today, more than 6,000 languages are spoken in the world according to UNESCO. However, out of these 43% are estimated to be endangered.
  • United Nations
In 2007, the United Nations called upon its members to promote, preserve and protect their languages. It also proclaimed the year 2008 as the “International Year of Languages”. In India the Day is being celebrated as “Matribhasha Diwas”
  • Matribhasha Diwas
In India, the day is celebrated under the theme

  Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was elected as the president of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust.  Champat Rai would be the general secretary of the trust. The first meeting of the Ram Mandir Trust to oversee the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya was held in New Delhi. The meeting also decided that Nripendra Mishra, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will head a committee to make decisions regarding the actual construction of the temple. Swami Govind Dev Giriji Maharaj will be the treasurer of the trust. Delhi-based chartered accountancy firm, V. Shankar Aiyyar and Company will be the accountants for the trust. Senior Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat Awanish Awasthi and Ayodhya district magistrate Anuj Jha would be the State’s representatives in the trust. A State Bank of India account (while not explicitly stating that funds for the temple be via public donations or subscriptions) will be opened at the Ayodhya branch of the bank in the trust’s name. Signatures of Swami Govind Dev Giriji Maharaj, Mr Rai or Dr Anil Mishra (two of three) will suffice to operate the account.

  The World Day of Social Justice is celebrated annually all over the world on 20 February. The International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on 10 June 2008.
  • 2020 Theme: “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

  Hindi is the 3rd most spoken language of the world in 2019 with 615 million speakers. The 22nd edition of the world language database Ethnologue stated English at the top of the list with 1,132 million speakers. Chinese Mandarin is at the second position with 1,117 million speakers. Ethnologue brings out an yearly database of living languages of the world since its establishment in 1951. The current round of the database covers 7,111 living languages of the world. Ethnologue also contains data on languages which have gone out of use in recent history. This edition lists 348 such languages.

 The Kashi Mahakal Express, the 3rd private train of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), will start from today. The train service will link the three Jyotirlinga: Omkareshwar near Indore, Mahakaleshwar, in Ujjain and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi. This is also the first overnight journey train run by IRCTC. The train will cover 1,131 km between Varanasi and Indore via Lucknow and a distance of 1,102 km between Varanasi and Indore via Prayagraj in approximately 19 hours. Light devotional music, two dedicated private guards in every coach and only vegetarian meals are some of the features of the fully 3-AC service. The train will run thrice a week between Varanasi and Indore.

  Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya laid the foundation stone for a 50-metre high modern lighthouse at Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. This is the 5th lighthouse in the region. The light house is to be built at a cost of Rs 7 crore rupees. The lighthouse is to be located opposite to the old church that was destroyed in a cyclone in 1964. It will facilitate navigation to 33 to 37 km from the sea shore. The lighthouse will help to guide fishermen and will also act as tourist attraction. The Light house is also important for the naval commands.There are four Naval Commands namely Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, Southern Naval Command and Andaman and Nicobar Naval Command. The lighthouse complex would be of reinforcement cement concrete (RCC) structure with an octagonal shape of 50 metre height (including stilt). The lighthouse tower is attached with an annexure building for the provision of powerhouse, auxiliary equipment room, duty operators room and inspection room etc.

  On February 19, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved to set a technology group. The 12-member group will provide scientific advice on mapping of technologies, commercialization of dual use technologies and develop a road map on selected key technologies. The group will provide three major pillars of support namely Policy support, research and development proposals and procurement support.
  • Functions of the group
The group will help the GoI in achieving the following
  • To render advice on technology procurement strategy
  • To develop in-house expertise in developing merging technologies
  • To make sure the public sector technologies developed are sustainable.
  • Why was the group constituted?
The Group has been constituted as the GoI faced the following challenges
  • There was no mapping of technologies and their uses spread across the country
  • The Researches were not aligned to technology development
  • The dual use of technologies was not commercialized
  • The standards of technologies were not fixed. This led to sub-optimal industrial development
  • Silo-centric approaches to the development of technologies are being adopted

 India has been focusing on Act East Policy lately with a strong motive of developing the North East. Out of all the North Eastern States, Manipur has evolved the major supporter of Act East Policy.
  • Measures
The GoI and the Manipur Government have taken several measures together in order to make the Act East Policy a big success. The integrated Check Post was inaugurated at Moreh, the Indo-Myanmar border. The Check post handles 99% of trade between Indian and Myanmar. The trade between the countries increased by 10% in a decade. Both India and Myanmar have agreed to open nine borders between the countries. Two Hunar HAats have been established in the border districts of Manipur. Around 69 bridges have been constructed that helps in transiting to Myanmar and enhance border trade. Imphal-Mandalay flight services have begun.
  • Act East Policy
The Act East Policy was launched as the Look East Policy in 1991. Through the North East States India plans to increase its trade connectivity with ASEAN countries. The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit project, India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway are some of the projects that has taken trade between the countries to next level.

 On February 19, 2020, the Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced that Government of India is to launch “TILHAN MISSION” to boost the oil seed production. The announcement was made at an occasion of Soil Health Card Day. Soil Health Card Day was celebrated all over India on February 19, 2020.
  • Highlights
Government of India is to increase oil seed production in order to make the country self-reliant in oil seed production. The Minister also announced that GoI is to create 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations all over the country. In order to support this, the GoI is to provide Rs 6,000 rupees.
  • Current Oil Seed Scenario in India
India is the fourth largest vegetable oil economy in the world after USA, China and Brazil. Today, the oil seeds account for 13% of cropped area in the country. The National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. The scheme was to be implemented for 5 years between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
  • India-Malaysia
Recently, there has been major rifts between India and Malaysia over Palm oil. Malaysia at the United Nations General Assembly meet placed open accusations on India for abrogating Article 370 and its other steps towards development of Kashmir. Malaysian PM accused India of invading and occupying Kashmir. According to India, Kashmir issue is completely internal and is between India and Pakistan to settle upon. Following such accusations, India gradually decreased its Palm oil imports from Malaysia. In September 2019, the palm oil imports (before the Malaysian PM’s accusation) were 310,648 tonnes. In October, the imports were reduced to 219,956 tonnes and in November it was 142,696 tonnes. India is the largest importer of palm oil in the world. And oil exports are highly important for the Malaysian economy as it accounts to 2.8% of its GDP and 4.5% of its total exports.

 China has joined India and United States in putting Pakistan on Grey list of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force). Both China and Saudi Arabia have joined US, India and other European countries sending stern messages to Pakistan against its actions of terror funding money laundering
  • Highlights
A Plenary session of the FATF is to be held in June 2020. China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were the three countries that supported Pakistan against FATF move in putting Pakistan under Grey List. Now Turkey and Malaysia are the only supporters. 12 out of 39 votes are required to move out of FATF list which Pakistan will not be able to. Pakistan is currently on Grey List of FATF and with its major supporters withdrawing their backing, Pakistan will continue to remain on FATF Grey list. Pakistan was put on the list in June 2018. It was given a plan of action which the country was supposed to complete by October 2019. Failing of which will place it under black list.
  • FATF Grey List and Black List
The FATF is a Paris based organization that combats terrorism funding and money laundering.
  • Grey List
The countries that are not safe and are supporting money laundering and terror funding are included in the list.
  • Black List
The countries that is uncooperative tax havens for terror funding. They are also called Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs).
  • Countries currently in Black List and Grey List
The lists now have been renamed to “Call for Action” and “Monitored Jurisdiction”. The Call for Action countries or the Black List Countries include Iran and North Korea. The Monitored Jurisdiction or Grey List include Iceland, Ghana, Botswana, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Mongolia and Cambodia.

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