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Current Affairs – February 2020

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India

Union Budget 2020: Key highlights

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the union budget for the current financial year on 1 February. This budget will, however, come into effect on 1 April.

It lays emphasis on three themes. 

1. Aspirational India, which seeks to provide better standards of living to all sections of the society by focusing on agriculture, irrigation and rural development; wellness, water and sanitation; and education and skills sectors 

2. Economic development for all, which aims at giving more opportunities to the private sector for higher productivity and greater efficiency by focusing on industry, commerce and investment, and the infrastructure sector 

3. Caring society, which seeks to build a humane and compassionate society by focusing on women and child, social welfare; culture and tourism; and environment and climate change

Let’s take a look at some key features of the budget. 

a. Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) removed and classical system of dividend taxation adopted 

b. Simplified GST return to be implemented from 1 April; refund process to be fully automated

c. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) to cover 20 lakh farmers for stand-alone solar pumps and 15 lakh farmers for grid connected pumps

d. SHGs-run village storage scheme to be launched 

e. Electronic-Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (e-NWR) to be integrated with Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-Nam) 

f. Indian Railways and Ministry of Civil Aviation to launch Kisan Rail and Krishi Udaan, respectively, for a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables 

g. Fish production target set at 200 lakh tonnes by 2022-23 

h. Fisheries exports to be raised to 1 lakh crore by 2024-25

i. Target set to double milk processing capacity by 2025

j. Agricultural credit target set at 15 lakh crores for 2020-21

k. More than 20,000 empanelled hospitals to be covered under PM Jan Arogya Yojana 

l. Fit India movement launched to fight non-communicable diseases  

m. Encouragement to states implementing plans for cleaner air in cities with population above one million

n. Viability gap funding proposed for setting up hospitals in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode

o. Focus to be laid on liquid and grey water management along with waste management

p. Approximately  150 higher educational institutions to start apprenticeship embedded courses 

q. Special bridge courses to improve skill sets of those seeking employment abroad to be started

r. Degree-level online education programmes for students of deprived sections to be initiated

s. National Mission on Quantum Technologies and applications with an outlay of 8,000 crore proposed

t. Scheme to encourage manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging proposed

u. Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana (NIRVIK) scheme for higher export credit disbursement launched 

v. National Logistics Policy to be launched soon

w. Efforts to be taken to replace conventional energy meters by prepaid smart meters across all states and union territories in the next three years

x. Expansion of the National Gas Grid proposed

y. About ₹103 lakh crore of economic and social infrastructure projects under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) to be implemented within the next five years

z. Proposal to establish Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation

AAP registers thumping victory in Delhi 2020 elections

AAP registers thumping victory in Delhi 2020 elections

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) scored a landslide victory in the Delhi assembly elections held in February by winning 62 of the 70 assembly seats with 53.57% votes, while the BJP got eight seats with 38.51% votes and Congress got less than 5% seats. Over 43,000 or 0.5% votes were cast in the None of the Above (NOTA) category. 

With this victory, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has secured another term in office. The IIT alumni rose to political fame as an anti-corruption campaigner. He first became chief minister in 2013 and stepped down after 49 days. The 51-year-old former bureaucrat was then re-elected in 2015 and has been credited with making power consumption free up to 200 units, reducing the electricity rate for power consumption up to 400 units, giving free water supply up to 20,000 litres and striking down on fee hike in private schools. 

In addition, his efforts towards improving the health services, ensuring better facilities to patients in government hospitals, providing free medicines to patients and making prompt ambulance services available have been acknowledged by Delhiites, which is reflected in the election results. 

Women officers in the Indian Army to get permanent commission

Women officers in the Indian Army to get permanent commission

In a historic move, the Supreme Court on 17 February ordered the Centre to ensure that eligible women officers in Short Service Commission (SSC) are granted permanent commission in the Indian Army within the next three months.

The Supreme Court said, ‘It is an insult to women as well as the army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the Army’. It added, ‘The Centre, by not giving permanent commission to women officers, had prejudiced the case’.

Here are the key features of the ruling.

a. Officers who have completed more than 14 years of service can now serve until 20 years and retire with full pension benefits. 

b. Women officers can be considered for command roles on par with men and rise to the rank of a Colonel and above, though they will not be inducted into the combat arms, such as the infantry, artillery or armoured corps.

Pullela Gopichand becomes first Indian to receive IOC’s ‘honourable mention’

Pullela Gopichand becomes first Indian to receive IOC’s ‘honourable mention’

Chief National Coach of the Indian badminton team Pullela Gopichand became the first Indian to receive an honourable mention in the male category of the prestigious 2019 International Olympic Committee’s Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award.

Announcing the news, the IOC Athletes Entourage Commission said in a statement, ‘The Panel wishes to recognise his efforts in the development of badminton in India, his efforts in supporting athletes across sports and his contribution to the Olympic movement.’

Previously, Gopichand was honoured with several awards for his outstanding performance in badminton, such as the Arjuna Award in 1999 and the Dronacharya Award in 2009. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2014.

The 46-year-old played an instrumental role in shaping the careers of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap.

Sports

Australian Open 2020: Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin win singles titles

Australian Open 2020: Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin win singles titles

Serbian super star Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open tennis title for the eighth time defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. This is Djokovic’s 17th singles Grand Slam career title. With this win, he became the first man in the open era to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. In the women’s category, American Sofia Kenin scripted history by winning her first Grand Slam title. She defeated Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Kenin is the youngest winner in 12 years to win the title.

Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram defeated Luke Saville and Max Purcell to win the men’s doubles title, Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic defeated Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova to win the women’s doubles title, and Barbora Krejcikova and Nikola Mektic defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray to win the mixed doubles title.

The 108th edition of the Grand Slam tennis tournament was held between 20 January and 2 February at Melbourne Park. 

Manpreet Singh wins FIH Men’s Player of the Year 2019 award

Manpreet Singh wins FIH Men's Player of the Year 2019 award

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) named the Indian men’s field hockey team captain Manpreet Singh as the Player of the Year 2019 on 13 February. It is the first time that a member of the Indian national team has won this award since its inception in 1999. 

Singh received 35.2% of the total  votes polled to defeat Belgium’s Arthur van Doren and Argentina’s Lucas Vila to win the award. 

The 27-year-old led the team to victory in the FIH series finals and the Olympic qualifiers against Russia, where India managed to secure a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Manpreet made his debut in the national hockey team in 2011 and has played over 260 matches till date.

Sachin Tendulkar wins Sporting Moment of the Year award

Sachin Tendulkar wins Sporting Moment of the Year award

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar was presented the Laureus Sporting Moment Award at an event held in Berlin, Germany, on 18 February. He won the award for the moment titled, ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation.’ The moment showed him being carried on the shoulders of his teammates after India won the 2011 World Cup at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai.

Other Laureus Sports Award winners include:

a. Lionel Messi and Lewis Hamilton (jointly): Sportsman of the Year Award

b. Simone Biles: Sportswoman of the Year Award

c. Dirk Nowitzki: Lifetime Achievement Award

d. Oksana Masters: Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award

e. South Bronx United: Sport for Good Award

f. Chloe Kim: Action Sportsperson of the Year  

g. Sophia Floersch: Comeback of the Year Award

h. South Africa’s men’s rugby team: Team of the Year Award

Established in the year 2000, this annual event honours the greatest and most inspirational sporting triumphs of the year. 

Sunil Kumar wins gold in Greco-Roman at Asian Wrestling Championships

Sunil Kumar wins gold in Greco-Roman at Asian Wrestling Championships

Wrestler Sunil Kumar won gold in the 87-kg Greco-Roman category of the Asian Wrestling Championships on 18 February. The 21-year-old defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Azat Salidinov 5-0 in the final round to make history. The last time India won a gold medal in the Greco-Roman category was in 1993, when Pappu Yadav won it in the 48-kg category. 

The victory propelled Sunil Kumar to the fourth position in the United World Wrestling (UWW) rankings by jumping a massive 12 spots. The wrestler will be next seen at the Asian Wrestling Olympic qualifiers, which are scheduled to be conducted from March 27 to 29 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Another Indian who won a medal in the 55-kg Greco-Roman category is Arjun Halakurki.

The Greco-Roman or classical style of wrestling forbids holds below the waist. Along with this style, the other form of wrestling contested at the Olympics is freestyle wrestling, where the wrestlers are allowed to hold the opponent’s legs. 

Maria Sharapova announces retirement

Maria Sharapova announces retirement

Five-time Grand Slam champion and former WTA World No.1 Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis on 26 February. 

In an emotional essay written for Vanity Fair and Vogue announcing her retirement, the 32-year-old Sharapova wrote, ‘How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known? How do you walk away from the courts you’ve trained on since you were a little girl, the game that you love—one which brought you untold tears and unspeakable joys – a sport where you found a family, along with fans who rallied behind you for more than 28 years? I’m new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I’m saying goodbye.’

Listed below are a few feats achieved by the Russian player in a career spanning 14 years.

a. Maria was the youngest person to reach the finals of the Australian Open junior tournament at the age of 15.

b. She was presented the WTA Newcomer of the Year and the Russian Cup Newcomer of the Year awards in 2003.

c. She received her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

d. In 2005, she became the first Russian woman to achieve the world No. 1 ranking.

e. She was awarded the Medal of the Order ‘For Merit to the Fatherland’ First Class in 2012.

f. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five different occasions for a total of 21 weeks.

g. She is the only Russian to hold a career Grand Slam.

Women’s T20 World Cup: India becomes the first team to enter the semi-finals

Women's T20 World Cup: India becomes the first team to enter the semi-finals

Indian women’s T20 World Cup team became the first to qualify for the semi-finals on 29 February. They won all the four matches against Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and finished on top in Group A.  

This is the seventh edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup tournament and is being held in Australia between 21 February and 8 March.

Listed below is a brief of each match that India won to storm into the semi-finals.

21 February: India beat Australia on a slow pitch in Sydney, Australia. The Indian team batted first and scored a paltry 132 runs. However, leg-spinner Poonam Yadav bowled extraordinarily and led India to a comfortable 17-run win. 

24 February: India beat Bangladesh by 18 runs, avenging the Asia Cup final defeat. Poonam Yadav and Shikha Pandey played a significant role by claiming three and two wickets respectively. 

27 February: India beat New Zealand in a thrilling contest to achieve a third straight win. After a batting collapse,  India managed to score only 133, and there seemed to be very little hope. But Indian spinners rose to the occasion once again.

29 February: India beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets. Shafali Verma smashed seven fours and a six to help India complete the chase of 114 with 32 balls to spare, and enter the semi-finals with an all-win record. Radha Yadav gave her career best performance taking four wickets, conceding just 23 runs.

Javelin thrower Amit Dahiya banned for four years by NADA

Javelin thrower Amit Dahiya banned for four years by NADA

The National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) banned national javelin thrower Amit Dahiya for four years on 17 February. Dahiya sent a wrong dope sample during the 2nd National Javelin Throw Open Championship 2019 held at the SAI centre in Sonepat on 16 April 2019. The 21-year-old had finished third with a best throw of 68.21 m in the event.

According to NADA, ‘During the course of the sports event, the athlete was asked to submit his urine sample. However, at the time of sample collection, another athlete pretending to be Amit Dahiya tried to impersonate by submitting a fake sample. But the alert NADA officials detected the impersonation and a notice of charge was issued to Amit Dahiya on July 16 for violating Rule 23 of NADA Anti-Doping rules.’ 

Dahiya was given a provisional suspension on 16 July last year and the case was presented to the ADDP on January 9. The ADDP has ordered to suspend him for four years from the date of his provisional suspension.

Steve Smith occupies top spot in ICC Test rankings

Steve Smith occupies top spot in ICC Test rankings

According to the Test rankings released by the International Cricket Council (ICC), Australian batsman Steve Smith dethroned Virat Kohli to gain the first position with 911 points. This is the eighth time Smith is occupying the No.1 position in Test rankings. 

Kohli slipped to the second position in the rankings with 906 points as a result of scoring only 21 runs in the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington, where India lost by 10 wickets.

Kohli was followed by Kane Williamson with 853 points, Marnus Labuschagne with 827 points and Babur Azam with 800 points. Other Indians in the top 10 list of rankings include Ajinkya Rahane at the eighth position with 760 points, Cheteshwar Pujara at the ninth position with 757 points and Mayank Agarwal at the tenth position with 727 points. 

Environment

GoI and World Bank sign loan agreement to improve groundwater in India

GoI and World Bank sign loan agreement to improve groundwater in India

The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $450 million loan agreement on 17 February to support the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) or the National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme. The main objective of the programme is to improve the depleting groundwater levels in the country and strengthen the norms and laws related to groundwater management. 

Furthermore, the programme aims at introducing water conservation practices related to water harvesting, water management and crop alignment; creating an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management, and equipping communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater.

This agreement will enable the government to make use of the state-of-the-art technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and space technology to implement the programme in a better way. 

The programme will cover 78 districts in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in a span of five years between 2020 and 2025. 

Population of over 100 bird species on the decline, says report

Population of over 100 bird species on the decline, says report

A first-of-its-kind report, titled State of India’s Birds 2020 (SOIB), shows an alarming fall in India’s bird population. According to the report, released at the 13th COP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals held in Gandhinagar on 17 February, over a hundred species of birds are on the decline, increasing their threat of extinction.

Here are a few key findings of the report.

1. A total of 48% common bird species of India have remained stable or increased in the long term, and 79% have been on the decline in the last five years.

2. The number of birds in the Western Ghats, one of the world’s foremost biodiversity hotspots, declined by almost 75% since 2000.

3. Indian peafowls showed a dramatic increase in both abundance and distribution across the country.

4. The species which appear to have suffered the highest declines in the past quarter century are the white-rumped vulture, Richard’s pipit, Indian vulture, large-billed leaf warbler, Pacific golden plover and curlew sandpiper.

The report was prepared with the help of a database of more than 10 million observations uploaded by 15,000 bird watchers on the science app ‘e-bird’ created by Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. The participant ornithologists are affiliated to ten Indian research and conservation organisations, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR), Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Wetlands International South Asia (WI-SA), Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India).

Newly discovered snail species named after Greta Thunberg

Newly discovered snail species named after Greta Thunberg

A newly discovered species of land snail has been named Craspedotropis gretathunberga, after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in order to acknowledge her efforts towards raising awareness about climate change. 

The mollusc was discovered in Brunei on the island of Borneo by citizen scientists (people who collect and analyse data relating to the natural world, usually in collaboration with professional scientists) working together with scientists from Taxon Expeditions (a research group which organises scientific field trips).

According to a study published in the journal Biodiversity Data on 20 February, the species is approximately 2mm long and 1mm wide with grey tentacles and a concave shell. The critter belongs to the Caenogastropoda category, a group of land snails known to be sensitive to drought, temperature extremes and forest degradation, informed Menno Schilthuizen, snail expert and co-founder of Taxon Expeditions.

The study mentions that the naming of the temperature-sensitive species was done based on a voting process, involving participant researchers and staff of Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei. 

Earlier in 2018, the expedition team had named a species of beetle after famous actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ten migratory species to get global protection

Ten migratory species to get global protection

A total of ten endangered migratory species were added to the global list for protection under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals at the 13th Conference of Parties held on 20 February in Gandhinagar. The species listed in Appendix I, which are given the strictest protection, include the Asian elephant, jaguar, great Indian bustard, Bengal florican, little bustard, antipodean albatross and oceanic white-tip shark. Those included in Appendix II, which covers migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status and would benefit from enhanced international cooperation and conservation actions, include the urial, smooth hammerhead shark and tope shark. 

The CMS, however mentioned that despite the listing and consequent efforts, 73% of 175 migratory species listed in Appendix-I and 48% of the 518 on Appendix-II have an overall decreasing population trend. 

CMS COP13 was the largest ever in the history of the Convention, with 2,550 attendants including 263 delegates representing 82 parties, 11 delegates from five non-party countries, 50 representatives from United Nations agencies, 70 representatives from international NGOs, 127 representatives from national NGOs and over 100 mediapersons.

Science & Technology 

NASA astronaut Christina Koch sets new female space record

NASA astronaut Christina Koch sets new female space record

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a new space record for a female by staying 328 days on the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Koch and two other crew members, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov, landed in Kazakhstan on 6 February at 09:12 GMT.

The mission aimed at providing valuable data to researchers on how weightlessness and space radiation affect the female body during long space flights.

Previously, the record for the longest space flight for a woman was held by Peggy Whitson, who spent 289 days in orbit before returning to Earth. 

During her nearly 11-month long mission, Koch completed 5,248 orbits of the Earth and travelled over 220 million km, equivalent to 291 round trips from the Earth to the moon. The American astronaut achieved another milestone during her mission by completing the first all-female spacewalk alongside her fellow astronaut Jessica Meir on 18 October 2019.

NASA robotic lander confirms quakes on Mars

NASA robotic lander confirms quakes on Mars

NASA’s robotic InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander confirmed on 24 February that Mars is a seismically active planet. The scientists informed that ever since the spacecraft landed on the Martian surface, its ultra-sensitive seismometer called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), has enabled them to hear around 450 marsquakes. 

As per the magnitude scale devised by the researchers for Mars, the strongest marsquakes measured till date were a little less than magnitude 4. This means that these quakes are dozens of miles from the epicentre and would not do much damage.

‘As the planet cools, it contracts, and then the brittle outer layers have to fracture in order to sort of maintain themselves on the surface. That’s kind of the long-term source of stresses,’ said planetary geophysicist and mission principal investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. However, he added that it’s not clear what detailed mechanisms bring on specific quakes.

NASA’s Juno reveals the existence of water on Jupiter

NASA’s Juno reveals the existence of water on Jupiter

Findings published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy estimate that water makes up about 0.25% of the molecules in Jupiter’s equatorial atmosphere, which is almost three times that found on the sun. It is important to note that the comparison is not based on liquid water, but rather on  its components, that is oxygen and hydrogen.

Previously, in 1995, NASA’s mission Galileo suggested that Jupiter might be extremely dry compared to the sun but the findings of the probe were inconclusive because the concentration of water was still increasing when it stopped sending data.

Juno was launched into the solar system’s strongest magnetic field and most lethal radiation belts in 2011 with an objective to improve the understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.

India develops vaccine to control swine fever

India develops vaccine to control swine fever

The Indian Veterinary Research Institute  (IVRI) developed a new cell structure vaccine to control classical swine fever (CSF).  The newly-developed vaccine is more effective and cheaper in controlling the deadly fever in pigs.

The vaccine will also help to save rabbits as the UK-based lapinised CSF vaccine, which has been used for treating the fever in India since 1964 sacrifices these animals on a large scale. Furthermore, the new vaccine will provide two years of immunisation, while the existing ones come with an immunisation capacity of only three to six months.

The new vaccine will be a part of the government’s One Health Initiative and is expected to be ready for commercial production within a year.

World

Brexit: Britain formally leaves European Union

Brexit: Britain formally leaves European Union

After 47 years of membership, the UK exited the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 January. The decision came into effect as a result of the polling that took place in Britain in 2016 on whether the country should remain a part of the EU, wherein about 51.9% Brits voted to leave the EU.

The EU, comprising 27 member states after the exit of Britain (Brexit), has an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply to all member states. EU policies aim to ensure free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

The UK will remain a member of the EU’s single market and customs union during the transition period until the end of this year and will negotiate future relationships with the EU to strike a free-trade deal. 

Jaipur receives UNESCO World Heritage City certificate

Jaipur receives UNESCO World Heritage City certificate

The Pink City of India, Jaipur received the UNESCO World Heritage City certificate on 5 February. The award was presented by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay to the Minister of Urban Development Shanti Dhariwal at a ceremony held at Albert Hall, Jaipur.

World Heritage Sites are selected on the basis of four natural criteria and six cultural criteria, such as the site should represent human creativity; it should reflect interchange of human values; it should bear unique testimony to the cultural traditions, etc.

Presently, China and Italy are at the top position with 55 World Heritage Sites, followed by Spain with 48 sites, Germany with 46 sites and France with 45 sites. India ranks at the 5th position with 38 sites.  

The main purpose of this UNESCO programme is to preserve places that are important in terms of world culture. Under certain circumstances, UNESCO provides financial assistance to such sites. 

US forces kill al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi in counter terrorism operation

US forces kill al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi in counter terrorism operation

On 6 February, US President Donald Trump confirmed that his country’s forces killed al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Rimi in a counter terrorism operation in Yemen. The leader had claimed responsibility for a mass shooting at an American naval base last year.

‘His death further degrades al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula and the global al-Qaeda movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security,’ said Trump, announcing the news. No other details regarding the mission were disclosed by the President. 

Rimi was placed on the United States’ most wanted terrorist list since 2015. In fact, the US Government had offered a $10 million reward for information on him. 

In January this year, the US also killed the top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and in October 2019, it killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

Rishi Sunak becomes Finance Minister of UK

Rishi Sunak becomes Finance Minister of UK

Indian-origin politician Rishi Sunak was appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) of UK on 13 February, following Sajid Javid’s unexpected resignation during a cabinet reshuffle. He is the son-in-law of Infosys Co-founder Narayana Murthy.

The 39-year-old MP of Richmond in Yorkshire entered the UK Parliament in 2015 and later became a Member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. In 2017, Sunak was re-elected as MP. He was then chosen as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government from January 2018 to July 2019. Later, he became the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and served from July 2019 to February 2020.

India and US sign $3 billion defence deal

India and US sign $3 billion defence deal

India and the United States signed a defence deal on 25 February, following US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India. According to the deal, India agreed to purchase advanced American military equipment including six Apache and 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters worth $3 billion. The deal is expected to strengthen ties between the two nations.

‘Noting that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, and reaffirming his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced US military technology, President Trump welcomed India’s recent decision to procure MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters. These capabilities will advance shared security interests, job growth and industrial cooperation between both countries,’ the joint statement said.

India had shown an interest in buying the choppers previously as well. However, due to a disagreement on the price of the choppers, the deal was cancelled back then. 

Miscellaneous 

BAFTA 2020 winners announced

BAFTA 2020 winners announced

The 72nd British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, commonly known as the BAFTAs, were presented at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 2 February.

Here are a few winners. 

Best film: 1917

Outstanding British film: 1917

Best leading actress: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Best leading actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Best supporting actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Best supporting actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time In Hollywood)

Best director: Sam Mendes (1917)

Best film (Non-English): Parasite

Best documentary: For Sama

Best animated film: Klaus

The Academy was founded in 1947 as the British Film Academy. Later, in 1958, it merged with the Guild of Television Producers and Directors to form the Society of Film and Television, which eventually became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1976.

Oscars 2020 presented

Oscars 2020 presented

The 92nd Academy Awards, commonly referred to as Oscars, were presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on 9 February.

The following  is a list of prominent winners.

Best picture: Parasite

Best director: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)

Best actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Best actress: Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Best supporting actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Best supporting actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Best documentary: American Factory



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