Monthly Current Affair (11 Feb-17 Feb 2019)

National News

  1. Meghalaya govt to rename Dikkibandi stadium after P A Sangma

 The Meghalaya Cabinet has decided to rename the Dikkibandi stadium in Tura town after former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma. Purno A Sangma is also a former chief minister of Meghalaya. He was elected from the Tura Lok Sabha seat a number of times. Conrad K Sangma and James K Sangma are sons of Purno A Sangma.



  1. Govt launches Asiatic Lions Conservation Project

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the 'Asiatic Lion Conservation Project' with an aim to protect and conserve the world's last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem. The main objective of this project is to work for the conservation of the world's last ranging free Asiatic lions population and ecosystem associated with it. The total budget of the project for the next three years will be funded through a centrally sponsored scheme, the Development of Wildlife Habitat, with the contributing ratio of 60:40 for central and state share. It will be supplemented with sufficient eco-development works ensuring a stable and viable Lion population in India.

Lion is one of five pantherine cats inhabiting India, along with the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard. It was also known as 'Indian lion' and 'Persian lion'. Asiatic Lions are listed as 'Endangered' under the IUCN Red List. Its population is restricted to the state of Gujarat in India.

  1. Harsimrat Kaur inaugurates Himachal’s first mega food park in Una

Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated Cremica Food Park, which is the first mega food park of Himachal Pradesh. The Park is located at Village Singhain Una District of Himachal Pradesh. The mega food park has been set up at a cost of Rs 107.34 crore. This is the first mega food park operationalised in Himachal Pradesh. The Cremica Mega Food Park will benefit people of Una district and nearby districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur.

To give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.

The mega food parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.

Common facilities and enabling infrastructure is created at Central Processing Centre and facilities for primary processing and storage is created near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) and Collection Centers (CCs). Under the Scheme, the Centre provides financial assistance up to Rs 50 crore per mega food park project.

  1. National Productivity Week 

 National Productivity Council (NPC), an autonomous registered society under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, NPC is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day on 12th February with the theme “Circular Economy for Productivity & Sustainability”. NPC observes foundation day as Productivity Day and the National Productivity Week from February 12-18, 2019.  

This year theme represents a unique opportunity for a circular business model for Make à Use à Return. It presents an opportunity for long term economic prospects and regeneration of materials. Transitioning to an efficient circular economy will benefit industry and all stakeholders now and in future. The inaugural session will deliberate upon contribution of circular economy to the Government’s aim of sustainable economic growth.

The circular economy follows the principle of preservation and enhancement of natural capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows. The other principles suggest optimizing of resource yields by circulating products, components, and materials at their highest utility at all times, in both technical and biological cycles.

Circular economy has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials. It provides for a way of creating value. It works by extending product life span through improved design and servicing and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over. The challenge lies in building circular economy knowledge and capacity. To integrate circular economy principle in strategy and process, NPC has been in forefront enhancing of such efforts in enhancing productivity. Through observation of this week, it aims at collaboration with business and policy makers so as Circular Economy opportunities can be highlighted.

  1. PM inaugurates National Cancer Institute in Haryana

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stones for six projects in Haryana, including a National Cancer Institute (NIC) at Badhsa in Jhajjar district and Shri Krishna Ayush University at Kurukshetra, in Haryana.

Mr. Modi was in Kurukshetra to participate in ‘Swachh Shakti 2019’, an event to recognise the leadership role played by rural women in Swachh Bharat Mission towards achieving a clean and open defecation free country by October 2 this year. It was attended by woman sarpanchs and women associated with the ‘Swachhta’ campaign from across the country. The Prime Minister distributed ‘Swachh Shakti 2019’ awards on the occasion.

The state-of-the-art tertiary cancer care-cum-research institute, constructed on the AIIMS Jhajjar campus, will have facilities such as 700 beds, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, anaesthesia, palliative care and nuclear medicine, besides hostel rooms for doctors and attendants of cancer patients.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated an ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Faridabad. It is the first ESIC Medical College and Hospital in North India and has 510 beds.

  1. Ghumot to be declared Goa's heritage musical instrument

Ghumot, an indigenous earthen drum which was once banned due to the use of monitor lizard skin in its making, will soon be notified as a "heritage instrument of Goa". Traditionally, ghumot, a percussion instrument played during Ganesh Chaturthi 'aarties' (prayers), is fashioned as a designed clay pot, with the skin of the monitor lizard (locally known as 'gaar') stretched taut across the pot's mouth, forming a drumhead. Monitor lizards are classified as an endangered wildlife species listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 because of which the ghumot was banned by the state forest department. However, recently there has been a rise in interest in the musical instrument after its makers started replacing monitor lizard skin with the skin of a she-goat. A ghumot was presented as a gift from Goa to Portuguese Prime Minister Anotnio Costa, who is of Goan origin, in 2017 by an official delegation from the former Portuguese colony. 

  1. Kartarpur corridor: Dera Baba Nanak post designated as immigration centre

The Home Ministry designated Dera Baba Nanak land post, which will be the exit and entry point for visiting Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan, as an authorised immigration check point.

Anyone with valid travel documents can exit or enter through the post in Gurdaspur district.

  1. AYUSH Minister launches e-AUSHADHI portal for Online Licensing System of AYUSH Medicine 

Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH, Shri Shripad Yesso Naik launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters at New Delhi. This e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability.  This portal will not only aid the licensing authority , manufactures and consumers, as it will provide real time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.

  1. First district cooling system of India to come up in Amaravati

UAE-based cooling solutions utility National Central Cooling Company PJSC (Tabreed) has entered into a 30-year concession with Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) to build, own, operate and transfer India's first district cooling system in Amaravati.

 District cooling systems produce chilled water, steam or hot water at a central plant and then pipe that energy out (either underground or over rooftops) to buildings for air conditioning, space heating and water heating. As a result, these buildings don’t require their own chillers, air conditioners, boilers or furnaces. They are considered to be highly efficient to address each of the challenges like high Capital and operating costs, reliability, flexibility and environmental sustainability while meeting their comfort and process cooling and heating needs.

  1. Himalayan Cloud Observatory set up in Tehri

Himalayan Cloud Observatory was established in SRT campus Badshahithaul in Tehri district of Uttarakhand. It has been set by Indian Science and Technology Department and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur. It is currently in testing period and will become operational soon.

It is second such observatory in India that can function in high-altitudes.

Cloudburst incidents are very frequent in hilly areas of Uttarakhand, resulting in huge loss of life. This observatory will forecast and monitor cloud burst incidents in Himalayan region and help to minimise damage. It will forecast and monitor cloud activities in higher regions of the Himalayas by using different types of parameters such rainfall, temperature, wind speed, wind direction and prepare data.

It will help in easily predicting cloud bursting incidents in future and help to save and stop severe loss of lives and property caused due to this natural calamity.

  1. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates IAV in Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) in Thiruvananthapuram.  A first of its kind research institute that is linked to the Global Virus Network (GVN), it will operate from the Bio 360 Life Sciences Park at Thonnakkal in the capital city. The establishment of the institute was proposed during the Nipah Virus outbreak that struck the state last year. The institute can confirm the viruses causing infectious diseases and detect new ones without delay in order to plan preventive measures. The institute is affiliated to the Global Virus Network, which has 45 centres of excellence in over 29 countries. This kind of vast network of virologists will help in the fast detection and prevention of virus-borne diseases such as Nipah.

The Institute of this kind will not only put the state’s health sector on an upward trajectory but will also help to open up new avenues in research areas. An institute of this kind is the need of the hour especially when outbreaks that were supposed to be contained gets resurfaces and new infectious diseases were being reported.
The institute that is equipped with bio-safety level-3 facilities adhering to international standards to detect virus and research programs is also expected to run various academic programs in the near future.

  1. Ancient language Maithili is on the verge of decline, the government takes steps to revive its importance 

The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has asked to apply the recommendations of a committee constituted in 2018 for the promotion and protection of Maithili language and its scripts.

A major recommendation by the committee is to establish a Script and Manuscript Centre at Darbhanga in either Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University or at the Lalit Narayan Mithila University. The committee has also suggested completing the work affecting Unicode Scripts of Mithilakshar by Technology Development of Indian Languages (TDIL) early, and creating audio-visual teaching materials for teaching the mithilakshar scripts.

Mithilakshar or Tirhuta is the script of broader cultural Mithila.

Mithilakshar, Bangla, Assamese, Nebari, Odia and Tibetan are a part of the same family of scripts. It is an ancient script and is one of the scripts of the broader North Eastern India. Mithilakshar emerged as a language in 10 Century AD. The oldest form of the language was found in Sahodara stone inscriptions of 950 AD.

The script has been used throughout Mithila from Champaran to Deoghar.

History of Maithili

Maithili is a Bihari language of the eastern sub-group of the Indo-Aryan branch. Bhojpuri and Magadhi are closely related to the language.

The language is claimed to have developed from the Magadhan Prakrit.

It was the literary language of all of eastern India during the medieval period.

This language was popularised in the fourteenth century by poet Vidyapati and solidified the importance of the language in literature.

The use of this script has been declining since the last 100 years, which is the primary reason for the cultures decline. Maithali language is getting developed in a composite manner despite having been accorded a constitutional status in the constitution.


  1. UNICEF in Maharashtra to join hands with Goa WCD to address issues in child protection

 The UNICEF in Maharashtra has joined hands with Goa Women and Child Development (WCD) to focus on and support in the area of child protection in the State.

During the deliberations, stakeholders including Child Welfare Committee(CWC) representatives brought out issues like exploitation of vulnerable children of migrants in night markets and flea markets, traditional festivals, beach areas, the huge problem of alcoholism among migrants workforce which leads to domestic violence and consequent fallout on the children, among others.

Other problems include lack of sufficient caregivers, issues related to transitioning from institutional care to repatriation, integration of foster care and aftercare and above all developing effective monitoring mechanisms.

  1. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (Pm- SYM) to be Implemented from February 15 

Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) will be rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on 15.02.2019. As many as 42 crore workers are estimated to be engaged in the unorganized sector of the country.  The unorganised workers mostly engaged as home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio- visual workers and similar other occupations whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme. They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.

  1. MEA organizes a training course for Nepal Govt officials

The Ministry of External Affairs has organised a training course for the officials of the Government of Nepal under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. 
A second group of 20 officials of Nepal's Ministry of Finance joined their training course on ‘Global Perspectives on Public Financial Management’ at the Institute of Government Accounts and Finance (INGAF) in New Delhi on Monday.  This is a special tailor-made training programme on Public Finance Management designed at the request and requirement of the Ministry of Finance of Nepal for a total of 62 officials. 
The training will enhance the capabilities of these officials in global practices dealing with e-payment system, accounting & cash management, public borrowing system, accounting of foreign loans/grants and repayments, pension payment system, internal audit, fiscal responsibility and budget management, etc.
The first group of 20 Nepali officials had successfully completed their 10 day long training last month.
INGAF is one of the Partner Institutes for imparting professional training to officials from friendly developing countries across the world under ITEC programme of the Government of India. 

  1. India withdraws Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan 

Just a day after at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost their lives in a dastardly suicide bombing attack in Pulwama, the Indian government has withdrawn "Most Favoured Nation" or MFN status accorded to Pakistan.

Most Favoured Nation status is given to an international trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between all partner countries of the WTO.

A country which provides MFN status to another country has to provide concessions, privileges, and immunity in trade agreements. It is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Under rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a member country is not allowed to discriminate between trade partners and if a special status is granted to one trade partner, the country is required to extend it to all members of the WTO.

Economy News

  1. Union Minister Suresh Prabhu launches two schemes in Mumbai

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu launched two ambitious schemes, the Hirkani Maharashtrachi and District Business Plan Competition in Mumbai.
Under Hirkani Maharashtrachi, women's SHGs will pitch their business plan at taluka level. Ten groups will be selected from each taluka and Rs. 50,000 will be given to each SHG to implement their idea. Five SHGs at district level will be selected and Rs. 2 lakh will be given to each SHG to take the idea forward.

Under District Business Plan Competition, competitors at district level will pitch ideas, out of which five ideas will be selected from agriculture, social service, education and miscellaneous categories. Work order worth Rs. 5 lakh will be given to the 5 selected ideas.  The winners of the District Business Plan Competition will be taken to Delhi to interact with the Prime Minister, the President and the Vice President. The Minister asserted that the steps taken will help develop the rural and agricultural sector, contributing to farmers' welfare.

  1. INS Trikand participates in exercise Cutlass Express 2019 

INS Trikand, a front-line warship of the Indian Navy, participated in a multinational training exercise ‘CUTLASS EXPRESS – 19’ held from 27 Jan to 06 Feb 19. The aim of the exercise was to improve law enforcement capacity, promote regional security and progress inter-operability between the armed forces of the participating nations for the purpose of interdicting illegal maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean.

The Indian Navy played a significant role in ‘CUTLASS EXPRESS – 19’, being involved in planning, coordination and execution. Through INS Trikand, the IN provided a platform for live Visit Board Search Seizure (VBSS) drills, which proved to be of immense training value to the participating nations.

  1. First batch of heavy-lift Chinook helicopters arrives from US

 The first batch of heavy-lift Chinook helicopters arrived at Gujarat’s Mundra Port from the US. The four Boeing CH-47F (I) Chinooks, part of a 15-helicopter order placed by India three years ago, will be assembled and flown to their home base in Chandigarh where they will be formally inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF) later this year. The CH-47F (I) Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that will provide the Indian armed forces with unmatched strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions. The Chinook’s primary roles include artillery, battlefield resupply and transportation of troops.

With the addition of the Chinooks, the air force’s capability to deliver payloads to high altitudes will be enhanced as it currently has a solitary Soviet-origin Mi-26 chopper to carry out such operations

The United States is India’s second largest arms supplier after Russia. Since 2008, India has bought or ordered military equipment worth $15 billion from the United States, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters and M777 lightweight howitzers.

In September 2015, the government placed a $3.1-billion order for 22 AH-64E Apache Longbow attack helicopters – also manufactured by Boeing — and the 15 Chinooks to scale up the air force’s capabilities.

  1. Akshaya Patra targets to serve 5 billionth meal by 2021, to expand in UP, enter Delhi

Buoyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi serving its three billionth meal, Akshaya Patra has now set its eyes on the "five billionth milestone" which it plans to reach by 2021 while expanding its footprint in a big way in Uttar Pradesh. The Bengaluru-based NGO said, besides, the foundation also wants to serve schoolchildren in Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal where it is yet to enter since its inception in 2000. 

Akshaya Patra is the world's largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states and 42 locations.

  1. Dealer Owned Dealer Operated model for setting up CNG stations by private players launched by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan 

 The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launched the Dealer Owned Dealer Operated (DODO) model for setting up CNG stations. He released the general guidelines for the schemes, under which the entire earmarked dealer plot shall be developed exclusively for setting up of CNG station and allied commercial activities at the discretion of CGD activities. Under the scheme, 87 Geographical areas serviced by 23 entities authorized will be covered. More than 1500 CNG stations are presently operational in the country, catering to the demands of over 33 lakh CNG vehicles.

Under the 9th round of CGD bidding, more than 4600 new CNG stations are expected across India in next 8 years.


  1. MOU signed between EIL and Mongolia for Project Management Consultancy for oil refinery 

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Engineers India Ltd, a PSU under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and the Government of Mongolia through Mongol Refinery State Owned LLC was signed, on the sidelines of PETROTECH-2019 event at Greater Noida, UP. The MoU is for Project Management Consultancy services for construction of an oil refinery plant in Mongolia by EIL.

Government of Mongolia is in process to set-up 1.5 MMTPA greenfield crude oil refinery in Sainshand province, under Line of Credit (LoC) extended by Government of India. EIL has carried out Detailed Feasibility Study for the project. It has been pre-qualified and subsequently shortlisted for providing project management consultancy services to Mongol Refinery for the project.

  1. “Light House Projects challenge” launched - to bring about Paradigm shift in housing construction Technology Sector 

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under Global Housing Technology Challenge GHTC-India.   MoHUA encourages all States/ UTs to participate in this challenge proactively. The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects. The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects as per PMAY (U) guidelines. In addition to this, a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) for the States/ UTs is provisioned to offset the impact of any additional cost implication due to the use of new technology and to absorb the issues related to economies of scale and other related factors. The selected sites for lighthouse projects will be used as an ‘open laboratory’ for live demonstration and will receive due attention from academia (Civil Engineering, Planning, Architecture), practitioners (Public/ Private), policy makers (Central/ State) and media apart from felicitation/ recognition in Grand Expo-cum-Conference.

 The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has already launched a “Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC- India)”. The challenge has three components viz. i) Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference, ii) Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the globe and iii) Promoting Potential Technologies through the establishment of Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-I) for incubation and accelerator support. Out of the three, the second component intends to identify and pilot ‘Proven Demonstrable Technologies’ from around the world in actual housing projects in different parts of the country. The shortlisted global technology providers will be invited to plan and construct light house projects within the framework of PMAY (U) on pre-selected sites provided by States/UTs across six identified PMAY.

  1. Govt signs mega Rs 700-crore deal to buy 72,000 modern rifles for Indian Army

The Indian government has signed a contract to equip the Indian Army with new assault rifles. The deal, which will see India buy around 72,400 rifles, will overhaul the army's inventory of frontline rifles.

The rifles will be supplied by US arms maker Sig Sauer. The rifles will be made in the United States and will be supplied within a year, since the contract for the new guns is being made under fast-track procurement (FTP).

The deal is for 72,400 rifles and costs around Rs 700 crore. A majority of these rifles -- 66,000 -- are for the Indian Army. The remaining will be divided between Indian Navy (2,000) and the Indian Air Force (4,000).

The Sig Sauer SIG716 7.62x51 mm assault rifles will replace the ageing, Indian-made 5.56x45mm Insas rifles.

  1. Shri K.J. Alphons to inaugurate ‘Eco Circuit: Pathanamthitta – Gavi – Vagamon – Thekkady’ project in Kerala 

Shri K.J. Alphons, Union Minister for Tourism will be inaugurating the project ‘Development of Eco Circuit: Pathanamthitta – Gavi – Vagamon – Thekkady’ under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of Ministry of Tourism.

This Eco Circuit project was sanctioned in December 2015 for Rs. 76.55 crores.  Major works carried out under the project includes Eco Adventure Tourism Park at Vagamon, Cultural Centre at Kadamanitta, Eco Log Huts at Peerumedu, Idukki, Approach Roads, Walking trails, Rain Shelters at Pine Valley Forest, Thekkady, Kumily, Moozhiyar Dam, Penstock and Kakki Dam.

Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship schemes of Ministry of Tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner. Under this scheme the Government is focussing on development of quality infrastructure in the country with objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors on one hand and on other hand fostering the economic growth. The scheme was launched in 2014 -15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 77 projects worth projects for Rs. 6131.88 Crore to 30 States and UTs. 30 projects / major components of projects are expected to be completed during the current financial year, of which 12 projects worth Rs.1024.49 crore, covering the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Kerala and Sikkim have already been inaugurated.

The Ministry of Tourism recognizing the tourism potential of the State has sanctioned 7 projects in the State of Kerala under the Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes for an approximate amount of Rs. 550 crores.

  1. Government liberalises e-Visa regime to make it more tourist friendly

The e-tourist visa, introduced in September 2014 with 46 countries, has now been made applicable for 166 countries. Recently, the government has made a series of amendments in the e-visa regime, liberalising it further and making it more tourist friendly.

The modifications include an increase in the duration of stay in India of e-tourist and e-business visas to up to one year with multiple entries subject to the stay stipulations. This was earlier limited to 60 days with double entry. The existing restriction of allowing foreigners for a maximum of three times has also been removed.

Someone with an e-tourist visa can now stay continuously for each visit for 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of US, UK, Canada and Japan, who can stay for 180 days. This was previously limited to 60 days. Those with e-business visas can have a continuous stay during each visit not exceeding 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa.

No registration (with FRRO/FRO concerned) will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days. This too was limited to 60 days before. E-visa is valid for entry through two more designated Airports - Bhubaneswar and Port Blair - raising the total number of such airports to 28.

  1. Inland Waterways Authority of India launches portal for real-time information on available depth on stretches of National Waterways 

Moving a step ahead towards ensuring optimum use of National Waterways, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System.

LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminatedfor ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way. An assured depth of waterway is required for seamless movement of vessels. If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement.

The portal being hosted on IWAI’s website has been developed in-house. Initially LAD information will be available for NW-1, NW-2, Indo-Bagladesh Protocol route and NW-3, along with the date of survey. The facility will be expanded to other NWs also.

Details of LAD will be fed into the portal by respective surveyors and regional incharge deputed with IWAI survey vessels which constantly move on NWs.

IWAI has designed LADIS to facilitate the day to day operations of inland vessels plying on National Waterways and to avoid any hindrance in service and operation. It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on National Waterways, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.

Vessel operators/ cargo owners will prepare their sailing plans strictly as per applicable waterways related information (Hydrographic survey reports, River Notices etc.) available on IWAI’s website.

  1. India’s first Aqua Mega Food Park commissioned in Andhra Pradesh

Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal commissioned Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park at Tundurru Village in Bhimavaram Mandal, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh.  The park is promoted by Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park Pvt. Ltd. It will be the first Mega Aqua Food Park operationalised exclusively for fish and marine products processing in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This mega food park will benefit the people of West Godavari-District as well as nearby Districts of East Godavari, Krishna of Andhra Pradesh and nearby districts of Telangana.

The Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country to give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.
Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance upto Rs 50.00 crore per mega food park project.

  1. After Pulwama attack, India hikes customs duty to 200% on all goods imported from Pakistan

A day after announcing that it is withdrawing most favored nation (MFN) status to Pakistan on the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, India increased duties on imports from Pakistan to 200%.

  1. Infosys launches learning app for engineering students

The country’s second-largest IT services firm Infosys announced the launch of ‘InfyTQ’, a digital platform to offer learning and engagement experiences to engineering students in the country. InfyTQ is a free platform open to all engineering students in their third and fourth years across India.

The platform encourages holistic development by imparting technical as well as professional skills, helping them become industry-ready. InfyTQ, available on both mobile and desktop, includes content, courses, and news as well as online assessments and certification. The learning courses will be centered around conceptual and practical aspects of technology. This includes extensive hands-on learning to aid application of concepts in the real world. The platform will evolve and offer advanced learning materials and enable virtual programming environments for certain sets of students to further hone their technical skills.

International News

  1. Hindi included as third official court language in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has decided to include Hindi as the third official language used in its courts, alongside Arabic and English, as part of a move designed to improve access to justice.  The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has extended the adoption of interactive forms of statement of claims filed before courts by including Hindi.  The move will help the Hindi speakers to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier. 

  1. Thailand and US begin multinational military exercise Cobra Gold

Thailand and the US have begun the Cobra Gold annual multinational military exercise, claimed to be the largest military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region.

Hosted in Thailand, Cobra Gold 19 is the 38th iteration of the exercise, which will have 29 countries taking part, including Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. This year’s exercise is jointly sponsored by the US Armed Forces and Royal Thai Armed Forces. It is scheduled to run until 22 February. The US deployed the 35th Fighter Squadron and the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to participate in the exercise. The deployment of the 35th FS to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, comes after its stint at the Korat AB in the early 1960s.

During the exercise, the 35th FS will perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations to enhance interoperability and improve critical skills.

The exercise is aimed at strengthening regional security and demonstrating a quick response to regional crises.

The aim of bringing together forces from multiple countries is to accomplish shared goals and security commitments in the Indo-Pacific region.

According to the US Air Force, Cobra Gold boosts the military relationship between the Royal Thai Armed Forces and other nations. Focus areas of the current iteration include a humanitarian civic assistance event, field training and a command post exercise.

  1. US considers withdrawing trade concession to India: Report

India could lose a vital US trade concession, under which it enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the United States, amid a widening dispute over its trade and investment policies.

A move to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from India, the world's largest beneficiary of a scheme that has been in force since the 1970s, would be the strongest punitive action against India since President Donald Trump took office in 2017 vowing to reduce the U.S. deficit with large economies. Trump has repeatedly called out India for its high tariffs. 

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) was completing a review of India's status as a GSP beneficiary and an announcement was expected over the next two weeks.

  1. India and Norway launch initiative to combat Marine Pollution 

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change signed a letter of Intent establishing the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative together with the Norwegian ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Norway and India will share experiences and competence, and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy.

Both the governments launched the first Joint initiative under this new partnership. The India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.

Through a range of implementing partners, this initiative will seek to support local governments in implementing sustainable waste management practices, develop systems for collecting and analyzing information about sources and scope of marine pollution and improve private sector investment. Support will also be directed towards beach clean-up efforts, awareness raising campaigns and pilot project using plastic waste as fuel substitution for coal in cement production and developing frameworks for deposit schemes.

  1. Egypt's el-Sissi Elected New Chairman of African Union

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been elected chairman of the African Union at the continental body's summit in Ethiopia.

The rights group Amnesty International warned that el-Sissi's chairmanship might undermine the African Union's human rights mechanisms.

The rights group said Egypt since 2015 has orchestrated a sustained political attack against the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the body that aims to monitor African states' human rights records. El-Sissi's election brought to an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

African Union chairmen set agendas of issues to be addressed during their one-year tenure.

  1. Aman 2019 naval exercise kicks off

Pakistan Navy would begin a five-day exercise AMAN-19 in which over 45 countries are participating with ships and observers. The exercise was started in 2007 and it has been regularly conducted after every two years.

The exercise has two major phases: harbor and sea phases. Harbour activities would include seminars, discussions and demonstrations. In tandem, a three-day International Maritime Conference will also be held on the topic “Global Geopolitics in Transition: Rethinking Maritime Dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region”.

  1. Japan to recognize indigenous Ainu people for first time

Japan's government introduced a bill to recognise the country's ethnic Ainu minority as "indigenous" people for the first time, after decades of discrimination against the group.

The Ainu people - many of whom live in northern Hokkaido - have long suffered the effects of a policy of forced assimilation, and while discrimination has receded gradually, income and education gaps with the rest of Japan persist.

The Ainu have long suffered oppression and exploitation, and the modern Japanese government in the late 19th century banned them from practising their customs and using their language.

The Ainu traditionally observed an animist faith, with men wearing full beards and women adorning themselves with facial tattoos before marriage.

But like many indigenous people around the world, most of Japan's Ainu have lost touch with their traditional lifestyle after decades of forced assimilation policies.

The Ainu population is estimated to be at least 12,300, according to a 2017 survey, but the real figure is unknown as many have integrated into mainstream society and some have hidden their cultural roots.

Under the new plan, the government will also allow the Ainu to cut down trees in nationally-owned forests for use in traditional rituals.

  1. February 10, 2019, will be the first-ever World Pulses Day, a designated United Nations global event to celebrate pulses worldwide and continue the important gains made with the 2016 International Year of Pulses.


People in News

  1. CBDT chief Sushil Chandra appointed Election Commissioner

CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra was appointed as an Election Commissioner ahead of the Lok Sabha polls due this summer.

Chandra, an IIT graduate, is a 1980 batch officer of the Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax cadre).

With his appointment, the EC now has Sunil Arora as the Chief Election Commissioner and Ashok Lavasa and Chandra as fellow commissioners.


  1. After retirement, B P Sharma re-employed as Pawan Hans CMD

 BP Sharma has been re-employed as the chief of the state-run helicopter manufacturer Pawan Hans. Sharma took over as the CMD of Pawan Hans in March 2015. Pawan Hans has a fleet of more than 50 helicopters.

  1. IAF gets its first woman flight engineer

Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal becomes the first woman flight engineer, breaching what until last year was the Indian Air Force's men-only club.

Commissioned in January 2015 to the IAF's engineering branch, she created history when she was chosen as the first woman candidate to pursue the elite course.

In her new role, Flt. Lt. Jaiswal will serve at IAF's operational helicopter units and serve in “demanding and stressful conditions from the icy heights of the Siachen glacier to the seas of the Andamans.”

A flight engineer is a member of an aircraft’s flight crew and requires special skills for constantly monitoring and operating its complex systems.

The IAF started commissioning women in the officer cadre in 1993 and now inducts them as pilots in various streams. The MoD has dedicated an entire day of Aero India 2019, starting next week, to women in the armed forces.

  1. Asia’s richest Mukesh Ambani tops Hurun India Philanthropy list

Mukesh Ambani is not only Asia’s richest man but he is also India’ top philanthropist. Ambani, who topped Hurun India Rich List in September 2018, donated Rs 437 crore between October 2017 and September 2018 to lead Hurun Indian Philanthropy List 2018.

Ambani was followed by Ajay Piramal and family of Piramal Group.

  1. UN appoints Chandramouli Ramanathan as Controller and ASG in Management Strategy, Policy & Compliance department

Chandramouli Ramanathan has been appointed as Controller, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Finance in the management strategy, policy and compliance department. This is one of the top most positions in its Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance.  He succeeds Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas of Uruguay.

Ramanathan brings to the position nearly 40 years of executive international experience in diverse organisational settings in finance and budget, management and information technology. He has proven experience leading complex change management initiatives, including implementation of IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards), and Umoja (the United Nations Enterprise Resource Planning solution).

Ramanathan has served as Acting Controller since September 2018, concurrently with his position as Assistant Secretary-General for Enterprise Resource Planning since 2016.


  1. Indian historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam wins Israel's Dan David Prize 2019

Indian historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam won the prestigious Dan David Prize 2019 for his work on inter-cultural encounters between Asians, Europeans and people of North and South America during the early modern era. He won the Israel's prestigious USD 1 million dollar award in the category of ''Past Time Dimension'' for his work in macro history. He shared the award in the Past category with Professor Kenneth Pomeranz of University of Chicago.
The Dan David Prize laureates are required to donate 10 percent of their prize money towards scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields to encourage and foster new generations of scholars. The Dan David Prize is awarded annually to those who have made outstanding scientific, technological and humanistic accomplishments in fields representing the past, present and future of human achievement. This USD 1 million prize is endowed by the Dan David Foundation, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Sports News

  1. Shane Warne joins Rajasthan Royals in new role, named brand ambassador

Australia spin legend Shane Warne was named as the brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals for the upcoming Indian Premier League. Warne, who led Rajasthan Royals to its first and only IPL title in 2008, was the mentor of the side last season. But this year the Australian will be associated with the team in a new role.

Warne went on to captain Rajasthan Royals for four seasons until 2011, after which he retired from all forms of cricket.

  1. Jamie Chadwick creates history and becomes first female driver to win MRF championship

 Jamie Chadwick from Bath, England, scripted history in the MRF Challenge by becoming the first female driver to annex the championship in seven seasons as she finished the third and final round of the international series with a triple crown, including two back-to-back wins.

  1. Clouded Leopard will be mascot for National Games 2022 in Meghalaya

Meghalaya's state animal Clouded Leopard will be the mascot for the National Games 2022 coinciding with the 50th year of the creation of the state.

Clouded leopard is one of the wild cats that live throughout the forests of Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Meghalaya will be the third northeastern state after Manipur and Assam hosted the National Games in 1999 and 2007, respectively.

It had co-hosted the 2016 South Asian Games with its neighbour Assam.

An estimated 14,450 athletes and officials are expected to visit Meghalaya during the Games.


  1. Kerala emerges as achiever in the State Investment Potential Index 2018

Kerala has emerged an achiever in the State Investment Potential Index 2018, based on the six pillars of land, labour, infrastructure, economic climate, political stability and governance and business perception.

Kerala ranks fourth on how it is perceived as an investment destination, after Gujarat, Haryana and West Bengal.

  1. RSPB stuns Punjab to lift Senior National Men’s Hockey title

Railway Sports Promotion Board lifted the ninth Senior National Men’s Hockey Championship crown in Gwalior after defeating Punjab.


  1. First LAWASIA Human Rights Conference 2019 held

The first LAWASIA Human Rights Conference 2019 held o LAWASIA, in association with the Bar Association of India, hosted its 1st LAWASIA Human Rights Conference in New Delhi. The theme of the conference was “State Power, Business and Human Rights: Contemporary Challenges”.

  1. Challachitram National Film Festival to begin from March 1

Challachitram National Film Festival with the theme 'Our Heritage, Our Pride' will be held here in March, with a special award for entries from the northeastern region. Entries for short films, documentaries and animation films have been invited for both the competitive and non-competitive sections.

The deadline for submitting entries is February 15. The three-day film festival will be held here from March 1.

Chalachitram is a Guwahati-based organisation working for showcasing the heritage and culture of the northeast to national and internati