Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 February 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 February 2020


SC questions speedy issuance of death warrants by trial courts

  • The Supreme Court today questioned the issuance of black warrants by trial courts for execution of death penalty even before the expiry of 60-day time period for filing of appeals in the apex court by the convicts.

  • The top court's observation came during the hearing of an appeal, filed by death row convict Anil Surendra Singh Yadav, alleging that the black warrant was issued by a Gujarat sessions court just 33 days after his conviction was upheld by the high court.

  • Yadav was convicted for rape and murder of a three-year old girl in 2018 in Surat. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde stayed the execution of Yadav's death warrant.

  • The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, wondered as to how trial courts issue death warrants despite there being a reported judgement of the apex court, passed in 2015, that black warrants cannot be issued before the expiry of 60-day statutory period for filing an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict.

  • The Chief Justice of India said, there has been a clamour on the delay in execution of death penalty in rape and murder cases and here a sessions court issued the death warrant before the expiry of the statutory period.

Vice president inaugurates Indian students’ parliament

  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has urged the younger generation to join politics in a big way.

  • Inaugurating the four-day Indian Students’ Parliament in New Delhi, Mr Naidu said, politics is a vehicle for serving the people and bringing about the desired socio-economic change.

  • He said, politics is a vehicle to take the country to new levels of development and strengthening the foundations of democracy.Mr Naidu expressed happiness that thousands of youngsters are taking active interest in politics and various issues concerning the nation.

  • Vice President said that there is a need for a national movement to eradicate poverty and illiteracy and wipe out various social evils, which are hampering the progress of the nation.\

  • He said, youth of the country should be at the forefront of eliminating the scourge of corruption and other ills plaguing the society.


ICRA revises outlook on Indian pharma industry

  • Credit rating agency ICRA has revised the outlook on the Indian pharmaceutical industry from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ as it does not rule out the possibility of lockouts in parts of China — due to the outbreak of COVID-19 — impacting profitability of drugmakers in India.

  • ICRA said the industry was highly dependent on imports. Over 60% of its active pharmaceutical ingredients’ requirement are met through imports and in some specific Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) like cephalosporins, azithromycin and penicillin, the dependence is as high as 80-90%. Of the total imports of APIs and intermediates into India, China accounted for around 65-70%.

  • “The situation is more alarming in the case of intermediates of stages prior to APIs and key starting materials (KSMs) which are the building blocks for the drugs, wherein, in some cases, China is the exclusive supplier. Also, for some input materials, even if alternative sources are available, China remains the preferred source given the economical rates,” ICRA said.

  • The agency said “domestic API manufacturers have an inventory of 1-2 months, which should support their production till mid-March 2020. Continuation of the virus [impact] beyond mid-March may adversely impact production of these API manufacturers, possibly leading to a complete halt of production for some smaller players.”

World’s second-biggest control centre for goods trains to come up in U.P

  • The world’s second-biggest Operation Control Centre for goods trains, built in India by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is ready to begin operations, and is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister NarendraModi at the end of this month, a senior company official said on Thursday.

  • The centre, built at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, will be the ‘nerve-centre’ of the over 1,800 km-long eastern dedicated freight corridor, the corporation’s MD AnuragSachan said on Thursday.

  • The control centre has a theater which measures 1560 sq m, with a video wall of more than 90 m and will be used as a one-stop shop for controlling and monitoring rail systems, including train operations and the power supply system.

  • The Dedicated Freight Corridor, touted as one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country, is a 3,360 km stretch consisting of the Eastern and Western corridors. The Eastern corridor, which is being funded by the World Bank, will run from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni near Kolkata, traversing Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

  • Mr.Sachan said that the Western corridor will have a similar operation control system at Ahmedabad.For the Eastern corridor, targeted to be completed by December 2021, The World Bank loan stands at about $1.86 billion.

  • The MD added that once operational, the freight corridor will help decongest the existing Indian Railway network, while also helping increase the average speed of goods trains to 70 kmph, from the existing 25 kmph.

  • ‘It will connect the existing ports and industrial areas for faster movement of goods and will help increase the rail share in freight transportation from the existing 30% to 45%,” Mr.Sachan said.

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President and rebel leaders of South Sudan agrees to form unity government

  • South Sudan President SalvaKiir and rebel leader RiekMachar today agreed to form a unity government, a long-delayed step towards ending six years of war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

  • Mr Kiir said, the new government will be formed on Saturday and he will appoint Machar as his first Vice President, or top deputy tomorrow.

  • The President said, security arrangements, one crucial issue, will be resolved after the government's formation. He said, the protection of Machar and others with the opposition will be under his responsibility.

  • South Sudan's civil war broke out just two years after mass celebrations after gaining hard-fought independence from Sudan. The conflict badly hurt the oil-rich nation's economy and roughly half the country's 12 million people are hungry today.

Srilankan parliamentary committee recommends ban on face-covering attire

  • In Sri Lanka, a parliamentary oversight committee has recommended ban on face-covering attire including burqa and to suspend the registration of political parties on ethnic and religious basis.

  • The sectoral oversight committee on National security made the suggestions in a special report presented to the Parliament offering solutions to 14 controversial issues following the Easter attacks.

  • The report points out that currently many countries have banned the burqa and that the ISIS headquarters in Syria too banned the attire on September 5, 2019. It suggests that the police should have the authority to arrest any person who is willing to uncover their face at a public place when needed to establish identity.

  • The report also called that all students studying in madrasas institutions should be absorbed into the normal school system within a period of three years.

  • The report contains recommendations on 14 areas including formulating a National Security Policy addressing the challenges of possible future terrorist attacks, amending Immigration and Emigration Law, monitoring of electronic, print & social media, amending the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, empowering the Muslim civil society, establishing dhamma schools to ensure inter-religious harmony and regulating of madrasas curriculum. The committee was set up following Easter Sunday attacks last year in which over 260 people were killed.


Cabinet set to form technology group in India

  • 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, commercializationof 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.

  • 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 and to make sure the public sector technologies developed are sustainable.

  • The Group has been constituted as the GoIfaced the following challenges like 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 etc. This led to sub-optimal industrial development.


Indian wins over Romania in U-17 women’s football

  • The Indian Under 17 women’s football team registered a 1-0 victory over Romania in its second friendly match at Turkler, Turkey today.

  • Priyanka Devi scored the only goal of the match in the 29th minute from a penalty. The first friendly match had ended 3-3 draw on Sunday.

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