Current Affairs Science & Technology

 Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to sign a Free Trade Agreement to enhance trade between the two countries. Bangladesh has also agreed to allow Nepal to use it Saidpur airport located in its northernmost district of Nilphamari close to Nepal. Bangladesh exports commodities worth $38 million to Nepal and imports goods worth around 18 million dollars. Nepal will be able to provide 500 MW of hydroelectric power to Bangladesh once the Indian Company GMR completes its project in Nepal.

  External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will inaugurate Indian Pavilion at 70th Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. It aims to establish multiple international collaborations in the space of distribution, production, filming in India and development technology through its participation at Berlinale-2020. India Pavilion will provide a platform to popularize Indian cinema in the overseas market and facilitate new business opportunities. This year for the festival, three Indian feature films, as well as one short documentary film, have been selected. These are Pushpendra Singh’s Laipla Aur Satt Geet, Prateek Vats’ Eeb Allay Ooo!, Akshay Indikar’s – Sthalpuran and Ekta Mittal’s short documentary – Gumnaam Din. Information and Broadcasting Ministry in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry, CII is participating in the event.

 Australia has appointed Barry O’Farrell as the next high commissioner to India. He will succeed Harinder Sidhu who has been in the office since 2016. O’Farrell served in the New South Wales Parliament from 1995-2015. He has served as NSW’s special envoy for India and made a significant contribution as the deputy chair of the Australia India Council Board. India is a significant trading partner of Australia, with 2-way investment valued of 30.7 billion dollars & around 700,000 people of Indian Origin were living in Australia.

  A brainstorming session “Chintan Shivir” was held at Kevadia in Gujarat. The session aimed to focus on the future prospects of the coal sector. The session was chaired by Union Minister of Coal and Mines Shri Pralhad Joshi and he stated that India will put an end on importing thermal coal by the Financial Year 2023-24.
Some key highlights of the “Chintan Shivir”:
  • The session discussed the issues faced by the coal sector and deliberated on ways to resolve these issues with the help of innovative solutions.
  • Participants also discussed on ways to achieve the coal production target of 1 billion tonnes (BT) by Coal India Limited (CIL) by Financial Year 2023-24.
  • Shipping Ministry and Indian Railways will be helped by the Ministry of Coal to enable the Coal India Limited (CIL), Captive and Commercial Miners to evacuate more and more coal by 2030.
  • “Coal Minister’s Award” would also be constituted to appreciate the measures taken by the coal companies in coal production, productivity, safety, sustainability etc.
  • Strategies for sustainable mining, environmental conservation, use of clean coal technologies were also deliberated during the shivir.
  • There is a scope for Coal India Limited to transform its pithead thermal power plants into an integrated energy company and CIL can generate solar power of 5 GW by 2023-24 and could achieve a target of 50 Million Tonnes by 2030 by diversifying itself into the coal gasification.

  The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal has approved the Rs 19,700 crore resolution plan of JSW Steel to take over the bankrupt Bhushan Power and Steel. The approval comes with the immunity sought by the new owner against investigations being carried out against the erstwhile promoters of Bhushan Power and Steel. This comes after the government recently amended Section 32A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, providing immunity to the bidders and the insolvent company’s assets from the investigation.

  According to the report of US-based think tank “World Population Review”, India has emerged as the 5th-largest world economy in 2019, overtaking the United Kingdom and France. India’s economy is the fifth-largest in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.94 trillion. The size of the UK economy is $2.83 trillion and that of France is $2.71 trillion. These measures have helped India accelerate economic growth. In purchasing power parity (PPP), India’s GDP is $10.51 trillion, exceeding that of Japan and Germany. Due to India’s high population, India’s GDP per capita is $2,170 (for comparison, the US is $62,794). India’s real GDP growth is expected to weaken for the third straight year from 7.5% to 5%. According to the report, India’s service sector is the fast-growing sector in the world accounting for 60% of the economy and 28% of employment. The manufacturing and agriculture are two other significant sectors of the economy. The report observed that India’s economic liberalisation began in the early 1990s and included industrial deregulation, reduced control on foreign trade and investment, and privatisation of state-owned enterprises.

  The Soil Health Card Day is being observed on 19th February every year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme on 19th February 2015 at Suratgarh in Rajasthan. The scheme aims at issuing soil health cards to farmers every two years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in the soil. The scheme ensures additional income to farmers by an increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming. The scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country. It provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendations on the appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility. During Cycle-I (2015 to 17), 10.74 crores Soil Health Cards and during Cycle-II (2017 to 19), 11.74 crores Soil Health Cards have been distributed to farmers. The Government has spent more than 700 crore rupees on the SHC scheme.

  The former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg passed away. He played 247 times for the club, including in a victory in the FA (Football Association Challenge Cup) match against Sheffield after the air crash in February 1958. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the 2019 New Year Honours. Harry Greg, was named as “Hero of Munich” for rescuing 2 teammates as well as a baby and her pregnant mother in the 1958 air disaster that killed 23 people.

  The Delhi Police has integrated its “Himmat Plus App” with the app of ride hailing company “Uber” to ensure safety and security of people travelling in cabs. The Himmat Plus App was launched at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport. This app will give the real-time location of a driver or a rider during emergency. In response to it, Police Control Room (PCR) van will be assigned to provide assistance to the rider.
  • Benefits of the “Himmat Plus app”:
The integration of the App will enhance the location services and travel information to save the lives of people travelling in cabs. The initiative will also improve the efficiency of the Delhi Police to overcome the emergency situations.
  • Working of the Himmat Plus app:
When a rider scans the QR card, rider can access a driver’s details and vehicle information on the Himmat App. With the help of the app, rider can directly report their journey to the police.

 On February 19, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the 22nd Law Commission of India. The commission has been approved for a period of three years.
  • Highlights
The 22nd Law Commission will consist of a full time Chairperson. It has four full time members. Also, secretaries from Department of Legal Affairs and Legislative department.
  • Law Commission of India
It is a non-statutory body that is constituted by the GoI from time to time. It was constituted in 1955 for the first time. Since then it has been reconstituted for every 3 years. So far, the Law Commission of India has submitted 277 reports.
  • Benefits
The Law Commission will make recommendations based on the aspects of laws entrusted upon it. It will undertake research works and suggest reforms that are essential to enact new legislations.
  • Functions
The functions and objectives of the Law Commission are as follows
  • To identify laws that shall be repealed immediately
  • To examine the current laws in force and suggest ways to improve them
  • To respond to requests made by other countries in framing their legal system
  • To make measures that shall help to serve the poor legally
  • To revise laws to simplify them.

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