Current Affairs – February 2019

CURRENT AFFAIRS february 2019

India

Pulwama Terror Attack

A vehicle-borne suicide bomber attacked a convoy of over 70 vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway at Lethpora (near Awantipora) in the Pulwama district on 14 February, 2019. 

 The attack on CRPF convoy that killed 40 jawans is one of the biggest terror attacks in the past five years. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The bomber, reported to be Adil Dar, is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Just a day after the attack, India withdrew the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ or MFN status accorded to Pakistan. On the other hand, the neighbouring country has not given this status to India so far, ever since it became the partner country in WTO. In international economic relations, the MFN status is a non-discriminatory trade policy between all partner countries of the WTO. 

Furthermore, on February 26, the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Balakot training camp, using Mirage 2000 fighters armed with SPICE 2000 satellite-guided bombs.

For more details, visit https://www.bbc.com

India launches its first semi-high speed train

India launches its first semi-high speed trainPrime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off India’s first locally-built semi-high speed train, Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, on February 15 from New Delhi railway station. 

This engineless train is operational between Delhi and Varanasi five days a week. Vande Bharat Express, which was built at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai in 18 months, can run up to a maximum speed of 160 km/hr.

Besides having facilities such as automated doors, GPS-based passenger information system and onboard WiFi, the train is also enabled with a regenerative braking system that saves up to 30% electrical energy.

For more details, visit https://www.hindustantimes.com

Government launches ‘Operation Digital Board’ to boost quality education

Government launches 'Operation Digital Board' to boost quality educationThe Ministry of Human Resource Development launched Operation Digital Board on 20 February 2019 to boost quality education in the country. This revolutionary step taken by the government is intended to make the teaching-learning process in schools interactive. In addition, it aims at popularising the flipped learning pedagogy.

The digital board will be introduced in government and government-aided schools for classes 9–12 as well as UGC-affiliated higher institutions from the coming 2019 session. This operation will convert traditional classrooms into digital classrooms and facilitate e-learning process for students at any time and any place. It will also enable adaptive learning methodologies with technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

For more details, visit http://pib.nic.in

Kerala Police introduces country’s first RoboCop

Kerala Police introduces country’s first RoboCopThe Kerala Police department created history by becoming the first police department in the country to deploy a robot to perform the duties of police. The sub-inspector (SI)-ranked robot, which has been named KP-Bot, was inaugurated by CM Pinarayi Vijayan on 19 February 2019. 

The humanoid police robot will perform the duties of the front office desk of the police headquarters, which include receiving visitors and directing them to different places as and when required. The woman robot is also equipped to fix visitors’ appointments with officers, provide them with identity cards and open new files based on their grievances.

Some more features such as face recognition and explosive detection will be added to KP-Bot soon. 

For more details, visit https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Sports

Albot makes history by winning first ATP Tour title for Moldova

Albot makes history by winning first ATP Tour title for MoldovaRadu Albot scripted history by becoming the first Moldovan to win an ATP Tour-level title on 24 February 2019. Popularly known as ‘The Machine’, Albot triumphed at the Delray Beach Open final by defeating Daniel Evans of Britain in the dramatic final tiebreak. 

The 29-year-old has seven singles and eight doubles Challenger titles to his name, as well as fourteen singles and seven doubles Futures titles, one ATP World Tour doubles title, and one ATP singles title. In addition, Albot holds his country’s records for the most singles wins (28) and total wins (41).

For more details, visit https://www.atptour.com

ISSF World Cup 2019: Team India wins gold

ISSF World Cup 2019: Team India wins goldTeam India finished atop the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team event in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup 2019 as a result of the combined efforts of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary. The tournament, which concluded on 27 January 2019, witnessed the duo scoring 483.4 points to beat the Chinese team, Jiang Ranxin and Zhang Bowen, comprehensively by 5.7 points.

Moreover, the 16-year-old shooter, Saurabh, also created a world record in the tournament with a score of 245 in the 10m Air Pistol final on 24 February 2019. This feat ensured him a quota place for India at the 2020 Olympics.

Besides these, Apurvi Chandra from India acquired gold in the women’s 10m Air Rifle category in the ISSF tournament, held at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range on 23 February 2019. 

India secured 1 of the 14 Olympic quotas in the tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

For more details, visit https://www.issf-sports.org

India, Norway launch ‘India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative’ to combat Marine pollution

India, Norway launch ‘India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative’ to combat Marine pollutionMinistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, signed a letter of intent with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 February 2019. 

This letter of intent, which established the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, seeks to enable local governments in implementing sustainable waste management practices, developing systems for collecting and analysing information about sources and scope of marine pollution and improving private sector investment. It also aims at making efforts towards beach clean-up, awareness raising campaigns and developing frameworks for deposit schemes, besides other environment-friendly practices.

For more details, visit http://pib.nic.in

Government releases publication on actions undertaken to tackle climate change

Government releases publication on actions undertaken to tackle climate changeMinistry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a publication titled, ‘India-Spearheading Climate Solutions’, on 12 February 2019, highlighting the measures taken by the nation towards combating climate change.

Some of the major initiatives included in the publication are:

  • India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA)
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  • FAME India Scheme
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
  • UJALA Scheme
  • Swachh Bharat Mission

For more details, visit http://www.pib.nic.in

World

China bans gender discrimination against women during recruitment

China bans gender discrimination against women during recruitmentIn a commendable move to boost career opportunities for women, China has banned gender discrimination during recruitment processes. 

A notification released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and eight other government agencies mentioned that no gender-based questions, such as marital or fertility status, should be included in interviews or any other selection round. In addition, it mentioned that pregnancy testing should be removed from the list of pre-employment health tests.

Furthermore, it stated that the offenders will be fined from 10,000–50,000 yuan (nearly INR 1,00,000–5,00,000). The HR service providers held for serious offences may even have their licenses revoked, it added.

For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

‘Rise in health spending pushing 100mn people to extreme poverty’, says WHO

‘Rise in health spending pushing 100mn people to extreme poverty’, says WHOAccording to the recent data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 20 February 2019, the expenditure on global health is witnessing an upward trajectory, particularly in low and middle-income countries. 

Surprisingly, while the high-income countries have witnessed a 4% annual growth  in terms of health, low and middle-income countries have seen 6% annual growth for the same. 

Health spending comprises a total of government expenditure, out-of-pocket payments or citizens paying for their own care, and other sources such as voluntary health insurance, employer-provided health programmes, and activities by non-governmental organisations.

The reports, however, suggest that while governments spend around 51% on a country’s health spending, over 35% health spending per country is spent by citizens. One of the major consequences of such a spending phenomenon is that it pushes over 100 million people to extreme poverty every year.

For more details, visit https://www.who.int

Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, elected as new chair of African Union

Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, elected as new chair of African UnionThe President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, took over as the Chairman of the African Union at the continental body’s summit in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, on 10 February 2019. The newly appointed leader is expected to focus on security and peacekeeping reforms.

Since the establishment of AU in 2002, it is the first time that Egypt has taken the top seat. In fact, nearly six years ago, Egypt was suspended from it following a Sisi-led military coup.

Prior to El-Sisi, the African Union was chaired by Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame. During his one-year chairmanship tenure, he concentrated on creating a free-trade zone in Africa.

For more details, visit https://www.voanews.com

Science and Technology

India’s communication satellite, GSAT-31, launched from French Guiana

India’s communication satellite, GSAT-31, launched from French GuianaIndia launched its latest communication satellite, GSAT-31, from the spaceport in French Guiana during the early hours of 6 February 2019. The objective of this high-power satellite is to provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands. 

GSAT-31 is the country’s 40th communication satellite, which will be used for supporting VSAT networks, television uplinks, digital satellite news gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications.

Salient Features

Lift-off mass: 2,535 kg

Spacecraft power: 4.7 kW

Payload: Ku band transponders

Mission life: Around 15 years

For more details, visit https://www.isro.gov.in

Miscellaneous

World’s largest bee spotted for the first time since 1981

World's largest bee spotted for the first time since 1981Wallace’s giant bee, commonly known as Wallace Bee, was presumed to be extinct in 1981. However, a team of researchers, comprising natural history photographer, Clay Bolt, entomologist, Eli Wyman, behavioural ecologist, Simon Robson and ornithologist, Glenn Chilton, spotted the thumb-sized bee in the forests of Indonesia.

The team spent years studying the bee and toiled in the humid, dense forests before rediscovering the giant bee, which is four times the size of the typical European honeybee and has a wingspan of 2.5 inches.

This bee has been seen by only two people in person before. The first was British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the bee in 1858 and the second was entomologist, Adam Messer, who spotted it in 1981.

For more details, visit https://www.business-standard.com

Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony presented for 2014–16

Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony presented for 2014–16The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, presented the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 in New Delhi on February 18 2019. 

The winners for the three years, Sh. Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, Chhayanaut and Sh. Ram Vanji Sutar, respectively, were selected unanimously by the jury comprising the Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Shri N. Gopalaswami and Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister, Sh. Narendra Modi.

The awardees are presented with an amount of one crore rupees, citation in a scroll, a plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft and handloom item.

The Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony is given to individuals, associations, institutions or organisations for their outstanding contribution towards promoting values of cultural harmony. The first recipient of this award was Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Indian Sitar maestro. 

For more details, visit http://pib.nic.in

Oscar Awards 2019 announced

Oscar Awards 2019 announcedThe 91st Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was held on 24 February 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. 

Listed below are a few winners of 2019:

BEST PICTURE: Green Book

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Olivia Colman (The Favourite)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Mahershala Ali (Green Book)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Roma (Mexico; Alfonso Cuaron)

BEST DIRECTING: Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)

These awards are presented annually to recognise excellence in cinematic achievements. The winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the ‘Academy Award of Merit’, or ‘Oscar’.

For more details, visit https://oscar.go.com

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