Gist of The Hindu: February 2020

Gist of The Hindu: February 2020

New CDS to be appointed

  • Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Bipin Rawat has said that all the three services will work as a team. After taking charge as the first CDS, General Rawat said, as per the task given to the CDS, to enhance integration and do better resource management will be a priority.
  • General Rawat said Armed forces will be strengthened through synergy and integration. He said CDS will be neutral to all three services. General Rawat said, how procurement procedure can be unified will be a priority. He said the armed forces stay away from politics and work as per the directives of the government of the day.
  • General Rawat also said that his focus as CDS will be to integrate the efforts of the three services and to work as a team.General Rawat said his focus will be to ensure best and optimal use of resources allocated to the three services.
  • Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria and Navy Chief Karambir Singh and other senior officers were present on the occasion.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated General Bipin Rawat on taking over the charge as first Chief of Defence Staff and expressed delight on India getting its first CDS.
  • In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said General Rawat is an outstanding officer who has served India with great zeal and wished him best for the new responsibility.
  • Recalling his announcement from the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th August 2019 that India will have Chief of Defence Staff, he said this institution carries tremendous responsibility of modernizing our military forces.

Food Processing industry seeks export sop from government

  • The food processing industry has asked the government to give an export incentive of 20% under the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) scheme.
  • It has also asked for the rationalisation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on processed fruits, vegetables and essential daily-need food products to save wastage of agri-produce.
  • He said that they have also requested the government that the new scheme should provide benefits similar to the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) scheme at 20% and not reduce the incentive on exports.
  • Jindal said that this will strengthen the farm economy and realise the objectives of doubling farmers’ income and the Make in India policy.
  • With rising food prices causing substantial negative socio economic effect and political unrest, Jindal said that there was a need to lower the GST.
  • The high taxes on branded food products has led to an increase sale of food in loose form which is unsafe and unhealthy. This has also reduced consumption of packaged food, said Jindal.
  • The association has also recommended that new units be provided with a five-year tax holiday irrespective of the location of the unit.

Monsoon showers bring more water to rabi crops

  • The rabi crops of wheat, oilseed, pulses and perishables are likely to show higher yields across the country this season due to improved availability of water across 120 key reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission after above normal monsoon rains.
  • The availability of water for the crucial months of dry winter is 50% more than last year and 40% more than the average of the last ten years due to spurt in rains since August, officials said.
  • The current live water storage capacity stands at 137.125 billion cubic meters compared to 91.34 bcm a year ago. This is 81% of the total live storage level capacity, 150% of the year-ago level, and 139% of storage of average of last ten years, Jain said.
  • The water storage in reservoirs is more than the last year in states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Nagaland, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh ,TelanganaKarnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • Only four reservoirs, including Bhakra in the north, and two states — Himachal Pradesh and Tripura — have less water storage than last year, CWC data shows. There are three reservoirs with storage less than or equal to 50% of the average of last ten years.
  • In eight reservoirs under CWC monitoring in the northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, the total live storage available is 13.55 bcm, or 71% of capacity, against 67% of capacity a year ago and 57% of live storage available is 13.55 bcm, or 71% of capacity, against 67% of capacity a year ago and 57% of live storage capacity on an average in last 10 years.

Taiwan defends anti infiltration law aimed at China

  • China has been relentless in its attempts to influence and infiltrate Taiwan's politics and society, but the island's new ban on political interference should have no effect on normal exchanges between the sides.This was stated by Taiwan's President in her New Year's address.
  • The Anti-Subversion Law obtained a third and final approval in Taiwan's legislature today. It aims to prevent illegal campaign contributions, staging of political events, spread of misinformation and other acts by foreigners that could affect Taiwan's elections or government work.
  • It was denounced by the opposition and by China's Cabinet, but President Tsai Ing-wen defended it as having no effect on normal interactions. She said, the law's passage won't have any effect on freedom or violate human rights, and won't influence normal commercial exchanges.
  • Tsai added that it will provide greater guarantees from Taiwan's freedom and democracy.
  • Given China's similar actions in other countries, Taiwan's failure to prevent interference could give the impression it is untroubled by Beijing's actions.
  • Tsai cited the continuing protests in Hong Kong as proof its governing framework, which Beijing proposes for Taiwan, is untenable.

Palau bans ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen

  • Palau's pioneering ban on "reef-toxic" sunscreens takes effect today. The tiny Pacific island nation introduced strict environmental measures.
  • Palau is renowned for its marine life and is regarded as one of the world's best diving destinations. But, the government is concerned this poses an environmental cost.
  • President Tommy Remengesau said there was scientific evidence that chemicals found in most sunscreens were toxic to corals.
  • From New Year's day, any reef-toxic sunscreen imported or sold in Palau will be confiscated and the owner will be fined. Along with the ban, Palau's much-touted marine sanctuary came into effect on January 1.
  • This closes 80 per cent of its exclusive economic zone to fishing and other marine activities including mining and shark finning.
  • It follows Palau's establishment of the world's first shark sanctuary in 2009.

ISRO gives confirmation on Gaganyaan mission

  • ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan has announced that four airmen from Indian Air Force have been identified for India's first manned mission Gaganyan.
  • Speaking to media persons in Bengaluru today he said the four chosen airmen will undergo astronauts' training in Russia from the third week of January. Gaganyan is planned to be launched in 2022 as announced by the Prime Minister.
  • The ISRO Chairman said an unmanned mission will be launched this year to test human rating of propulsion model and microgravity simulations. Dr.Siven also informed Chandrayan-3 mission has been approved by the Government.
  • This will be launched without an orbiter. He said the lander and rover will be soft landing in the south pole of the lunar surface. It will carry out experiments that were planned during Chandrayaan-2.
  • Dr.Sivan also announced today that a second satellite launch station will come up in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu for which 2300 acre land will be acquired. He said initially small satellites will be launched from here.

ICC plans to scrap five day tests from 2023

  • Cricket's apex body, the International Cricket Council, plans to scrap five-day Tests from 2023. The ICC could make four-day Tests mandatory from 2023 as part of the World Test Championship, primarily to free up the crowded calendar. Tests have been played over five days through most of their 140-year history. England has backed the plan.
  • A spokesperson of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said, it could provide a sustainable solution to the complex scheduling needs and players' workloads. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has said, it was too early to make a comment on the matter.
    India-Pakistan exchange list of prisoners & fishermen
  • India and Pakistan exchanged the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in jails through diplomatic channels. India handed over lists of 267 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 99 fishermen to Pakistan who are in India’s custody.
  • Similarly, Pakistan has shared lists of 55 civilian prisoners and 227 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or believed-to-be Indians. External Affairs Ministry said that this is in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 Agreement under which such lists are exchanged on 1st January and 1st July every year.
  • India has emphasised on the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats from Pakistan’s custody.
  • Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 4 Indian civilian prisoners and 126 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan. Pakistan has also been asked to provide immediate consular access to 14 believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and 100 Indian fishermen who are in its custody.
  • MEA said, India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen.
    India ranks well in climate change performance index
  • India for the first time ranks among the top ten in the Climate Change Performance Index, CCPI, which goes further to prove that all efforts and activities being currently undertaken by the government are setting a tone of vast improvements.
  • Government aims to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to 175 GigaWatt by 2022 and further take it to 450 GW. AIR correspondent takes a look at the major initiatives taken by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. A time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme was launched last year.
  • India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing. The total forest and tree cover rises to over 24 percent of the total geographical area of the Country.
  • Government is taking all possible steps to protect the tiger. According to the latest tiger census data -2018, the total tigers inIndia has risen to around three thousand.
  • In a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country, the government handed over 47 thousand crore rupees of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, CAMPA funds to various states in August last year.

Government brings in BIM technology to boost infrastructure

  • In a move that will give a boost to infrastructure and housing projects across the country, the government is considering the latest building information and modelling (BIM) technology to fast-track construction work. The move will also help optimise the cost of housing construction and in achieving the government’s target of housing for all.
  • According to the latest report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, at least 355 projects have seen a cost overrun of Rs 3.88 lakh crore and about 552 projects have faced time escalation.
  • NITI Aayog officials said BIM could save up to 20% of the project cost by shortening the construction time. The government think tank wants all the infrastructure ministries to consider the model.
  • Apart from housing-for-all projects, the think tank is also considering the use of technology for the construction of national highways, greenfield airport and metro projects, station redevelopment and railway capacity augmentation programmes.
  • The usage of BIM in large infrastructure projects will enable better efficiency, lower costs and less negative impact on the environment. BIM helps in simulating conditions and can fix problems beforehand,” said Sunil MK, the head of architecture, engineering and construction at Autodesk India, which offers software services in areas such as architecture, engineering and construction.

Bangladesh restores data connectivity near Indian borders

  • Bangladesh has reversed its decision of shutting down mobile networks along the country's over 4,000 km-long borders with India, two days after asking telecom operators to block the services citing "security" reasons, according to media reports on Wednesday.
  • The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Sunday directed the shut down of around 2,000 base transceiver stations, affecting around 1 crore users in 32 districts that share border with India and Myanmar.
  • The government's directive to the telecommunication operators came days after India's Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), causing much concern in Dhaka that it could lead to an influx of migrants from India.
  • Mobile operators also confirmed that they have started to up their network again but it will take about a day to fully reinstate the connections as some of the towers are in very remote areas, the report said.
  • Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen has said that Bangladesh has requested New Delhi to provide a list of Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India, "if any", to be repatriated.He had also cancelled his visit to India beginning December 12, hours before he was to arrive in New Delhi.

ISRO to setup launching port in Tamilnadu

  • Indian Space Research Organisation will establish a second launch port in Thoothukudi district in Tamilnadu exclusively to launch small satellite launch vehicles.
  • Speaking to media persons in Bengaluru today, ISRO Chairman K Sivan informed that this will come up in 2300 acres.
  • On the lines of GPS navigation system developed by America, the Indian navigation system called Navic with the indigenous atomic clock will be operational with mobile phone manufacturers coming forward to install the regional navigation device.
  • On future programmes, the ISRO Chairman said that Chandrayaan 3 mission to the moon, consisting of a lander and a rover is approved by the Government.
  • On the progress made in India’s first manned mission to outer space Gaganyaan, he said, the process of Astronaut selection is over and four men selected from Indian Air Force will leave for Russia in the third week of January to get training. The Gaganyaan mission is targeted to be launched by 2022.
  • Before that unmanned missions will be launched to test the crew module with robots resembling humans.
  • This unmanned space mission will test spacecraft re-entry technology, space capsule recovery experiment and effect of microgravity on the crew module necessary for the human space travel.

Khelo India youth games to be held in Guwahati

  • The third Khelo India youth games will be held in Guwahati between 10th and 22nd of next month. Six thousand five hundred athletes from 37 teams will take part in the event.
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Games Avinash Joshi told All India Radio that the upcoming event is going to be the biggest multidisciplinary games ever held in the country. He said Cycling and lawn ball have been introduced as new disciplines in the games.
  • Assam Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal launched the torch relay of the competition in Guwahati on Sunday. The torch will be carried to all district headquarters to elicit the cooperation of the people for the success of the Games.
  • Mr Sonowal asked the people of Assam to create a fantastic environment for all the athletes who will be participating in the competitions.

PM asks scientists to create roadmap for a decade at science congress

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the scientists to prepare a definite roadmap for the new decade to set the direction and pace of scientific research in various fields in the country.
  • Mr Modi was speaking after dedicating to the nation five Young Scientists Laboratories of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bengaluru yesterday.
  • These laboratories will work on key advanced technologies of importance to the development of futuristic defence systems. The Prime Minister said these labs would help in shaping the pattern of research and development in the field of emerging technologies in the country.
  • Earlier in the day, speaking at Tumkur, the Prime Minister lashed out at the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and said, the protest must be against Pakistan's continuous atrocities on minorities. He said that Pakistan has always persecuted religious minorities and India is duty bound to help these minorities.
  • The Prime Minister electronically disbursed 12,000 crore rupees to six crore farmers as third installment of PradhanMantri KisSanmaan Nidhi scheme.
  • He expressed hope that those states who have not implemented the scheme, will implement it this year. The Prime Minister also awarded the Krishi Karman Award to the progressive farmers from 21 states.

MHA to bring in amendments in IPC, CrPC to curb heinous crimes

  • Aimed to curb henious crimes like rape which have shaken the country on many occasions with brutal assaults on minor girls as well as on adult women, and to instill fear of law, the Union Home Ministry has expedited its procedure of seeking suggestions to amend the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • Once the opinion sought from departments concerned in the Ministry of Home Affairs, including the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and Ministry of Law and among others, are received, a proposal to change certain sections will be sent to the Union Cabinet seeking it approval to put it in Parliament for a new strict law to deal with such gruesome crimes.
  • It is learnt that the proposal for a new law could be moved in Parliament during the upcoming Budget Session 2020, which is expected soon, officials in the know told IANS, adding the Home Ministry has "expedited" its work in this direction in consultation with the BPRD.
  • The suggestions include diluting the right to file an appeal or seek legal remedies in heinous crimes against women, and making forensic evidence compulsory in criminal cases where punishment is seven years or more, so that the amended law could be as strict as it "instill fear among criminals", the official said.
  • The Ministry began its work to amend sections in IPC and CrPC after Union Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned the need for such changes in the 47th All India Police Science Congress summit in Lucknow in November.

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Courtesy: The Hindu