Current Affairs Editorial

  Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), the retirement fund body has lowered the interest rate from 8.65% to 8.50% on provident fund deposits for the financial year 2019-20. The announcement of the reduced interest rate was made by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar. The decision was taken during the meeting of the EPFO apex decision making body-the Central Board of Trustee, held in New Delhi.

  The Union Government of India is envisaging to replace all level crossings on National Highways by Over/under Bridges. The replacement of all the level crossings on National Highways by Road Over Bridges or Road Under Bridges will be executed under the Setu Bharatam scheme. GoI aims to ensure safe and smooth flow of traffic and to decrease the road fatalities by 50% by 2020 with the replacement of All level crossings on NH by Over/under Bridges. The whole replacement work will be executed by Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
  • About Setu Bharatam Scheme:
The Setu Bharatam Scheme was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4th March in 2016. The scheme aims to build rail over-bridges or underpasses for safe and seamless travel on National Highways and to make all National Highways free of railway level crossings in order to prevent the frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings.

  The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has announced the first edition of the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League Under-21 in association with Hockey India. The inaugural edition of the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League Under-21 will be organized by the Hockey India. The league will be organised in three phases. First phase of the league will be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi while the second phase will be held at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru. The final phase will be held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
  • About Khelo India Women’s Hockey League Under-21:
The first season of the league will feature the participation of 14 teams. These 14 teams will be further divided into pools of seven teams each following a round-robin format. Each team will play a total of six matches each in both the phases.

  The Badminton Asia Championships will be held in the capital of Philippines i.e. Manila. The Badminton Asia Championship was earlier scheduled to be held in Wuhan, China. Due to Novel Coronavirus outbreak in China, the Badminton Asia has took a decision to move the Badminton Asia Championships from Wuhan to Manila. The Novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused cancellation, postponement or shifting of the several badminton tournaments as well as other tournaments in recent weeks all over the world.

 On March 5, 2020, the Department of Science of Technology operating under Ministry of Science and Technology organized an International Conference on Nano-Science and Nano Technology (ICONSAT) at Kolkata. The Conference is to be held between March 5, 2020 and March 7, 2020.
  • Highlights
The Conference highlighted the current need of India in the field of Nano-Science. It includes 5Ms namely Material, Mechanical, Manufacturing, Manpower and Machines. The Conference was attended by more than 450 scientists from all over the world.
  • Current Scenario
India started its journey of nanotechnology with the launch of “Nano Science and Technology Initiative” (NSTI) in 2001 for a span of 5 years. In 2007, it was renamed as “Nano Mission”. Nano Mission had wider objectives and larger funding of 250 million USD. This effort paid off well with Indian researchers publishing more than 23,000 papers in the field in next 5 years. In 2013, India ranked third in research paper publication in the field after China and USA. Also, the contribution of private firms on Nano Technology has also been minimal. India currently works towards producing 10,000 researchers in the field in the next 10 years as of 2017.

  Markets regulator Sebi has launched a mobile application ‘Sebi SCORES’ for convenience of investors to lodge grievances in Sebi Complaints Redress System (SCORES). “SCORES’ mobile app will make it easier for investors to lodge their grievances with Sebi, as they can now access SCORES at their convenience of a smartphone. The mobile app will encourage investors to lodge their complaints on SCORES rather than sending letters to Sebi in physical mode. SCORES is a platform for investors to lodge online complaints with Sebi against listed companies, registered intermediaries and market infrastructure institutions. According to Sebi norms, entities against whom complaints are lodged need to file an action taken report with the regulator within 30 days of receipt of the complaint.

  The celebration of festival “Chapchar Kut” has commenced in the state of Mizoram. Chapchar Kut is the biggest and the most joyful spring festival of Mizos. This festival is held when the bamboos and trees that have been cut down are being awaited to dry to be burnt for jhumming. The cheerfulness of Chapchar Kut also features the dance and music events to keep everyone in good spirits. The celebrations of the festival started with mega event held at Aizawl. The festival celebrations also featured the traditional bamboo dance “Cheraw” along with other dances which attracted thousands of people.

 ‘Namaste Orchha’ festival begins in Orchha, a town in Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh. Orchha is a famous tourist destination popular for its Ramaraja temple as well as other historical buildings. The festival aims to create new opportunities to promote the rich cultural, natural and architectural heritage, traditions and history of the state.
Highlights of the Namaste Orchha festival:
  • “Namaste Orchha festival will exhibit the cultural landscape of Madhya Pradesh through a series of activities such as art, music, dance, guided history tours and photography.
  • The tourists will be provided with the special helicopter services from Gwalior to Orchha and Orchha to Gwalior.
  • During the festival, Kisan Mela and business meets will be organized.
  • The festival will feature food and crafts bazaar containing local cuisine and traditional handicrafts of the region.

  The 4th Global Ayurveda Festival will be held at Kochi, Kerala from 16th to 20th May. The theme of the event is Ayurveda Medical Tourism: Actualizing India’s credibility. GAF2020 is being organised by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA). It will be the largest Ayurvedic event ever to be held anywhere across the world. More than 500 stalls, the participation of over 5,000 international delegates, ethnic food carnivals, the exhibition of rich medicinal plants and workshops on Panchkarma to be the key highlights of GAF-2020. Ayurveda Tourist Centres and Spas giving rejuvenation therapy and their potential curative aspects will be showcased. GAF-2020 will bring together the world of Ayurveda wellness providers and it’s seekers to one platform.

 On March 6, 2020, the Lok Sabha passed Mineral Laws (Amendment) bill, 2020. The bill aims to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) act, 1957 and also Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.
  • Highlights
The bill was passed in the parliament without discussion. This was because of the constant uproar of the opposition over death of 52 people in the Delhi Violence over Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Key Features of the bill
The bill opens up the coal sector completely for commercial mining. It also intends to remove end use restrictions to participate in coal mine auctions. This will mainly help reduce coal imports.
  • Coal Sector in India
The Coal output in India has been declining lately. This is mainly due to flooding of mines and labour unrest. Therefore, GoI has taken several steps to boost coal production in the country. The FDI in coal sector has been made to 100%. GoI is also taking several steps to reduce coal imports. In spite being the fourth largest producer of coal in the world, India imported 235 billion tonnes of coal in 2019. The GoI has also set a target to reach 1 billion tonnes of coal production by 2024.

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