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Current Affairs AUGUST 2020 Set 02

Diksha Sharma 15 MINUTES


1. India celebrated its 74th Independence Day on 15 August 2020

• Indians commemorated India’s independence from British rule by celebrating its 74th Independence Day on August 15, 2020, but with a slight twist.
• Owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there were no social gatherings, instead, all states and government offices were asked to webcast their events and celebrations.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi unfurled the National Flag at the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of 74th Independence Day. He was assisted by Major Shweta Pandey in unfurling the National Flag.
• He was received by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar.
• The Defence Secretary introduced the General Officer Commanding (GoC), Delhi Area, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra to the Prime Minister. The GoC Delhi Area then conducted the Prime Minister to the Saluting Base where combined Inter-Services and Police Guards presented general salute to PM Modi. Thereafter, the Prime Minister inspected the Guard of Honour.
• The Guard of Honour contingent for the Prime Minister consisted of one officer and 24 men each from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Delhi Police. The Guard of Honour was positioned directly in front of the national flag across the moat below the ramparts. This year, Army being the coordinating Service, the Guard of Honour was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gaurav S Yewalkar.
• On August 15, 1947, the first Prime Minister of Independent India Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled India’s tricolour flag at the Red Fort in Delhi. This practice continues till date as along with the flag hoisting, the Prime Minister delivers a speech from the historic monument.

2. PM Modi announces launch of national digital health mission from 15 August 2020 and all Indians to get health IDs

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Digital Health Mission, while addressing the nation from Red Fort on India's 74th Independence Day.
• The initiative which is completely technology based will revolutionise the health sector in India.
• The National Digital Health Blueprint of the mission was prepared by a health ministry panel to create a framework for the national health stack proposed in 2018 by the NITI Aayog, the government think tank.
• The data will reside at individual hospital servers in a federated architecture.
• Citizens will own his/ her health data and would require consent to share data. All the basic registries of patients/hospital/medical professionals that enable data sharing will be owned by a government entity.
• The vision of NDHM is to create a national digital health ecosystem which provides timely and efficient access to inclusive, affordable, and safe healthcare to all citizens.
• NDHM will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health service delivery and will be a major stride towards achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.8 of Universal Health Coverage.
• National Health Authority (NHA), the attached office of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the apex Central Government agency responsible for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, has been given the mandate by the Government of India to design, build, roll-out and implement the NDHM in the country.
• The scheme will be rolled out through a pilot launch in the Union Territories of Chandigarh, Ladakh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
• The core building blocks of NDHM such as Health ID, Digi-Doctor and Health Facility Registry shall be owned, operated and maintained by the Government of India. Private stakeholders will have an equal opportunity to integrate with these building blocks and create their own products for the market.
• However, core activities and verifications, for example, generation of Health ID or approval of a doctor/facility shall remain with the Government, Bhushan said adding that additional components, like Personal Health Record (PHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) solutions can be developed by private players as well, in line with guidelines that will be issued.
• All such products by private participants shall be as per official guidelines taking care of security, privacy and standards of the NDHM ecosystem

3. Gujarat CM announces Mukhya Mantri Kisan Sahay Yojana for current Kharif season

• Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced Mukhya Mantri Kisan Sahay Yojana for the current Kharif season.
• All farmers of the state will be covered under this scheme and there is no need to pay any premium or registration process.
• Mr. Rupani said that the State Government had to pay Rs.5700 crore premium of crop insurance for the current agriculture season. Therefore, the State Government has decided to scrap the tender and choose an alternate simplified crop insurance scheme. This new scheme replaces the existing crop insurance scheme.
• Those who have already paid the premium for the existing scheme will get it refund. Tribal farmers are also included in this scheme contrary to the previous in which they were excluded.

4. PM Modi announces optical fibre link connecting Lakshadweep, mainland India

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an undersea optical fibre cable link to connect Lakshadweep with mainland India.
• The announcement comes after PM Modi inaugurated India’s first submarine cable line between Chennai and Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands situated on the edge of the eastern Indian Ocean.
• A target of completing the Lakshadweep undersea project in 1,000 days has been set.
• This has been done to boost mobile and broadband communication between mainland India and the group of islands situated on the Laccadive Sea, off the southwestern coast of India.
• The department of telecommunications (DoT), which had undertaken the project at Andamans, will oversee the Lakshadweep cable line as well.
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important to mount pressure on China at a time when India’s relation with its neighbour has become bitter.
• The islands sit at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, one of the busiest shipping thoroughfares of the world and a reason India set up its first tri-service command in the Andamans in 2001.
• At times of tension with China, India has the option of using its navy to “choke" the Chinese sea lanes of communications with assets based out of the Andamans

5. PM Modi inaugurates 1st ever Submarine Optical Fibre Cable for Andaman, Nicobar Islands

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first ever undersea optical fibre project for Andaman and Nicobar Islands which will provide high speed broadband connections in the Union Territory at par with services in the mainland.
• On December 30, 2018, the Prime Minister had laid the foundation for the 2,312-Kilometers long submarine optical fibre cable project connecting Chennai - Andaman and Nicobar Islands (CANI).
• The project has been implemented at a cost of Rs 1,224 crore.
• Besides Port Blair, it will connect other islands namely Swaraj Dweep (Havlock), Long Island, Rangat, Little Andaman, Kamorta, Car Nicobar and Greater Nicobar.
• All telecom operators in the country will be able to provide their mobile and broadband services using the CANI optical fibre link.
• According to official data, internet speed of 400 gigabyte (Gb) per second will be provided at Port Blair and for other islands it will be 200 Gb per second.
• Undersea cable linking Andaman Islands with Chennai was laid before time despite difficult situation, Modi said.
• Work of laying undersea cable has been executed by BSNL in a record time of less than 24 months.
• This project will give a boost to 4G mobile services and digital services like tele-education, tele-health, e-governance services and tourism on the islands.

6. Health Ministry's tele-medicine platform provides over 1.5 lakh online consultations

• Health ministry's initiative eSanjeevani OPD, a telemedicine service, has registered one lakh 58 thousand online consultations.
• Health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan said, since last November, 23 states have launched the services covering 75 per cent of the country's population, while others are in the process of rolling it out.
• The eSanjeevani platform has enabled two types of tele-consultations-doctor-to-doctor (eSanjeevani) and patient-to-doctor (eSanjeevani OPD).
• eSanjeevani is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) programme. It seeks to connect all 150,000 Health and wellness centres using the hub-and-spoke model by December 2022, he said. So far, 12,000 health professionals, including 2,800 doctors, have been trained to offer consultations on the national e-platform through over 3,000 HWCs across 10 states.
• Every day, around 250 doctors and specialists are providing eHealth services despite the lockdowns, he said. This service is available on Android apps. A patient gets to see the doctor in around five minutes after logging in.

7. President honours 202 freedom fighters on occasion of 78th anniversary of Quit India Day

• President Ram Nath Kovind honoured 202 freedom fighters across the country on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of Quit India Day.
• Every year, the president hosts an "At Home" reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the anniversary of the Quit India Movement to honour freedom fighters.
• This year, the "At Home" reception could not be organised in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Therefore, state/UT governments have been requested to honour and felicitate freedom fighters with a shawl and angavastram by District Magistrate/Additional District Magistrate/Sub Divisional Magistrate at their homes on behalf of the President," the statement said.
• The Rashtrapati Bhavan has provided the "angavastram" and shawls to the states and Union territories through their resident commissioners, it said.
• The Quit India Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi on August 8, 1942, demanding an end to the British rule in India.

8. India will be self-sufficient in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients production in next 2 years: DV Sadananda Gowda

• Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister DV Sadananda Gowda has said that in the next couple of years, India will be self-sufficient in the production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Key Starting materials to reduce import dependency and attain drug security.
• Addressing a webinar organised by a Pharmacy College in Bengaluru, he said, three medical device parks and three pharmacy parks being developed at an investment of 13,600 crore rupees, will make this a reality.
• The Minister also informed that 50 new Janaushadhi outlets were opened recently taking the total such outlets to 6500 across 732 districts in the country. He said by the end of this month, all the districts in the country will have Jan Aushadhi outlets.
• Janaushadhi outlets sell quality medicines at 50 to 90 percent less rate than the branded medicines. For example it sells sanitary pad for just one rupee. During the previous year Janaushadhi kendras sold medicines worth 430 crore rupees.
• Mr Gowda informed that since the last four months during the pandemic period, the public saved 1260 crore rupees by buying medicines in Janaushadhi Kendras.

9. Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi dedicate Railway Museum at Hubballi in Karnataka through video conferencing

• On 9th August 2020, Piyush Vedprakash Goyal, Union Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry and Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal & Mines dedicated the Railway Museum at Hubballi, Karnataka to the Nation in the event over a video conference presided by Suresh Angadi Channabasappa, Minister of State for Railways.
• The Railways Museum at Hubballi is the first of its kind in North Karnataka and the second in the Southern Western Railways after the historic Rail Museum at Mysuru.
• This Rail Museum is first of its kind in North Karnataka and second in South Western Railway after the historic Rail Museum at Mysuru.
• The museum aims to preserve and portray the heritage of various branches of the Railways and to showcase the evolution of the railways.
• It is located next to the second entry of Hubballi railways station which holds the historic items of the railway heritage from the past.

10. Maharashtra govt decides to accord state funeral to pilot Captain Deepak Sathe

• Wing Commander Deepak Sathe (Retd), pilot-in-command of the Air India Express plane that crashed in Kerala last week, was cremated with state honours.
• Hundreds of mourners lined up the road as the funeral procession started from his residence in Chandivli and concluded at Vikhroli's Tagorenagar crematorium, where the last rites were performed.
• Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Government decided to accord a state funeral to the pilot, and said his life shall inspire young pilots.
• The flight from Dubai with 190 people, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain, killing 18 people, including both the pilots.

11. UP govt decides to appoint Special Secretary rank officers for health services management

• In Uttar Pradesh, the State Government has decided to appoint Special Secretary rank officers to assist District Magistrates in seven districts.
• These officers will help District Magistrates in better management of health services and to stop the spread of the Corona virus pandemic. Government will also increase the number of COVID beds in the state.
• The special Secretary rank officers will be appointed in Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Bahraich and Bareilly. These are the districts where Corona infection is on rise. These seven districts have almost half of the total COVID patients in the state with the capital Lucknow having the highest number of cases in the state. To deal with the Corona situation in Lucknow, the Chief Minister has directed for an increase in the number of beds in premier health institutes like SGPGI, Ram Manohar Lohia institute and KGMU.

12. Ladakh: Leh begins steps towards roadmap for sustainable development

• In Union Territory Ladakh, Leh has begun steps towards a roadmap for sustainable development. As a part of it, last night Leh launched a Mass Public Consultation campaign for the Leh Vision Document-2030.
• An eight-member Strategic Planning Committee headed by the former Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and Vice Chancellor of University of Ladakh, C. Phuntsog has prepared a draft report of Leh Vision-2030.
• This has been prepared based on the technical inputs by the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association ( BORDA) and Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) for the Ladakh & autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh.
• Themes like Happiness, Ecological Sensitivity, Compassion for All are given thrust in the document. With the consultation of the public on the document a final implementable Leh Vision will be finalized.
• Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal appealed to the Committee to consider the views of remotest villagers also in the vision to make it comprehensive.

13. GoI launched National Portal “SURAKHSYA” on Human Elephant conflict

• Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar has launched National Portal on Human-Elephant conflict called “SURAKHSYA”.
• The portal aims to collect real-time information and will also manage conflicts on a real-time basis. The portal will help to set data collection protocols, data visualization tools and data transmission pipelines.
• World Elephant Day celebrated on August 12 is an international annual event, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world's elephants.
• The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness on elephant conservation, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better protection and management of wild and captive elephants.
• Asian elephants are listed as “Endangered" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
• This has been done most of the range states except India, have lost their viable elephant populations due to loss of habitats & poaching etc.
• The current population estimates indicate that there are about 50,000 -60000 Asian elephants in the world. More than 60 % of the population is held in India.
• Indian Elephant has also been listed in the Appendix I of the Convention of the Migratory species in the recently concluded Conference of Parties of CMS 13 at Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat in February 2020.
• Elephant is the Natural Heritage Animal of India and India also celebrates this day to spread awareness towards conservation of the species.

14. Tribal Affairs Ministry develops nine ‘Tribal Freedom Fighters’ Museums

• The Tribal Affairs Ministry said all nine museums dedicated to tribal freedom fighters will be completed by the end of 2022.
• Out of the nine museums sanctioned for tribal freedom fighters, two are nearing completion and the rest are at different stages of progress.
• It is expected that all the museums will come into existence by the end of 2022. New museums will be sanctioned in the future in collaboration with the states.
• The largest of these museums is being built in Rajpipla in Gujarat at a cost of Rs 102.55 crore.
• The rest are being built in Ranchi (Jharkhand), Lambasingi (Andhra Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Kozhikode(Kerala), Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh), Hyderabad (Telangana), Senapati (Manipur) and Kelsi (Mizoram).
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement regarding setting up tribal freedom fighters' museums in his Independence Day Speech in 2016.
• All the museums will involve the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D and 7D holographic projections etc.

15. Education Minister launches Minimum Standards of Architectural Education Regulations, 2020

• In continuation of pertinent educational reforms being made by the Ministry of Education, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Education Minister virtually launched the "Minimum Standards of Architectural Education Regulations, 2020".
• These Regulations have been prepared by the experts of the Council of Architecture (CoA).
• These new reforms will bring some changes in the architecture programme in the country.
• According to the new regulations, candidates will get a chance to exit the architecture programme post three years.
• The council will award an "appropriate degree" to those students. On the other hand, a Choice Based Credit System has been introduced along with training experience in the eighth and ninth semester of the course.
• The regulations have highlighted the need to conduct study tours to cultural and historical sites and the introduction of national and international exchange programmes. Now candidates can seek admission to the architecture programmes based on the marks a student has obtained in the class 12 board exams and in the National Aptitude Test (NAT) in Architecture.
• These regulations will come into force from 1 November, 2020 and would supersede the 1983 Regulations, reported Live Law. Also, these norms have to be followed by every institution that imparts "education for degrees and diplomas in architecture" as observed by a Supreme Court bench last year.
• The Council of Architecture (COA) is a statutory body constituted by the Government of India under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972.
• The Act provides for registration of Architects, standards of education, recognized qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by the practicing architects.
• The Council of Architecture is charged with the responsibility to regulate the education and practice of profession throughout India besides maintaining the register of architects.

16. Lok Sabha officials to learn foreign languages

• The Lok Sabha secretariat is encouraging senior officials to learn foreign languages, citing Parliament’s increasing engagement with overseas counterparts and international institutions. They are also being told to learn, at least at a basic level, local languages.
• It has been decided to conduct beginner level learning courses in different foreign languages as well as scheduled Indian languages for the officers of Parliament.
• The duration of the programme would be three months with two classes per week.
• Courses will be offered in four foreign languages—German, French, Russian and Spanish -- and may be expanded to cover other languages depending on the level of interest among officials in the Lok Sabha secretariat, according to speaker Om Birla.
• The French language course started on August 4.
• Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla wants senior officials in the lower house secretariat to hone their foreign language skills keeping in mind Parliament’s increasing international exposure and its multilateral engagements, officials said. The French course is open to officers who are at least executive assistants. Fifty-seven officials have enrolled themselves in the course.

17. Daughters have equal birthright to inherit property: Supreme Court

• In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that daughters will have inheritance rights equal to those of sons from properties of fathers and grandfathers right from the codification of the law in 1956.
• A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah cleared the confusion arising from the apex court's conflicting interpretations of the amended Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, which came into force from September 9, 2005. The bench said whether the father is alive or not, daughters born before September 9, 2005, too can claim equal right in inheritance.
• The apex court said, daughters cannot be deprived of their right to equality conferred by Section 6 of the Act. The apex court was answering a reference based on conflicting decisions given by past verdicts of the top court.
• Although the amendment was applicable to Hindu daughters as coparceners who died after coming of the act, there was no clarity on whether it will have retrospective effect.
• The court decided that the amended Hindu Succession Act, which gives daughters equal rights to ancestral property, will have a retrospective effect.
• The judgment agreed with lead arguments made by senior advocate Bishwajit Bhattacharya that the substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confers the status of ‘coparcener’ to a daughter born before or after the amendment in the same manner as a son. Coparcener is a person who has a birthright to parental property.
• Since the right to coparcenary of a daughter is by birth, it is not necessary that the father should be alive as on September 9, 2005. The court has thus overruled an earlier 2015 decision.
• The judgment on a batch of appeals against the 2015 verdict came on the issue whether the amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, granting equal rights to daughters to inherit ancestral property would have retrospective effect.

18. PM Modi interacts with CMs of 10 worst Corona affected States

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Chief Ministers of ten states and reviewed the coronavirus COVID-19 situation in the country and further measures required to check its spread.
• He interacted via video-conference with the CMs of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

19. Manipur observes Patriots' day, commemorates heroes of Anglo-Manipuri war

• In Manipur, the Patriots' Day is being observed today commemorating the 1891 Anglo-Manipuri war during which many Manipuris sacrificed their lives to safeguard the independence of the State.
• The day is observed every year on the 13th August to pay homage to the great martyres. It was on this day in 1891, brave Manipuris including the then Prince of Manipur Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General were hanged before the general public in the present Imphal area.
• As part of the observance, Prabhat Phery was held in the morning in the streets of Imphal City. In the State function, the Chief Minister leads the people in paying floral tributes to the martyrs of the State at different places of Imphal.
• This year, the day is being held without involving the general public due to COVID-19 pandemic.

20. Pune gets official sanction for Knowledge Cluster

• Pune officially received the tag of ‘Pune Knowledge Cluster’ through the office of the principal scientific advisor.
• The goal of the cluster is to connect organisations with a high-level of expertise in diverse domains of science and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, in and around Pune.
• The inter-university centre for astronomy and astrophysics (IUCAA) has been designated to facilitate the project and the funding for the cluster from the advisor’s office will be dealt with by the office of the director of IUCAA.
• The Pune Knowledge Cluster includes universities and colleges, research laboratories, research and development establishments at the national and state level that is situated in Pune, and the leading industries based in Pune.
• This initial project proposal was coordinated and submitted by professors Ajit Kembhavi former IUCAA director and L S Shashidhara as principal investigators on behalf of the cluster.
• It is among the first city-wide clusters that have been approved by the office of the scientific advisor. Similar clusters for Hyderabad and Jodhpur were approved at the same time.
• Initially small-scale projects are to be developed and executed, along with awareness programmes and outreach activities which are relevant for Pune city.
• Then there will be studying and improvement of the tree cover of Pune, study and modelling of last-mile connectivity by e-transport, pilot study to connect electric vehicles to the grid or at home and viral epidemics, vector dynamics and other healthcare issues.
• This knowledge cluster will also take up pilot studies leading to projects on a much larger scale to improve the quality of life in the city. Some of these areas are integrated electric multi-modal transport, Pune digital twin and city’s water management.

21. India will fund Greater Male Connectivity Project through USD 400 mn Line of Credit & USD 100 mn grant: Jaishankar

• External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has announced that India will fund the implementation of Greater Male Connectivity Project through a 400 million dollar Line of Credit and 100 million dollar grant.
• This 6.7 kilometre bridge project connecting Male with Gulhifalhu Port and Thilafushi industrial zone will help revitalise and transform Maldivian economy.
• In a tweet, Dr Jaishankar said, today he had a warm and fruitful discussion with Foreign Minister of Maldives Abdulla Shahid. Both leaders agreed that the COVID19 pandemic has brought the two nations even closer.
• The External Affairs Minister announced that regular cargo ferry service between India and Maldives will be started to boost trade and commerce.
• India is also starting an air travel bubble with Maldives to sustain and promote the dynamic people-to-people ties between the two countries.

22. SC allows registration of BS4 vehicles sold in March

• The Supreme Court allowed registration of BS4 vehicles which were sold in March, but could not complete the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• However, the apex court noted that only those vehicles will be eligible for registration which were sold before the lockdown and details of which were uploaded on the government's Vahan portal.
• In the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court the government had given details of the number of vehicles sold and those uploaded on the E-Vahan portal.
• The government said that the data placed by the automobile dealers association in the court had been verified from the information available on the Vahan and non-Vahan states also.
• The court had on July 8 recalled its March 27 order by which it had allowed sale of BS 4 vehicles for 10 days across India, except in Delhi.



1. Beirut Explosion: US Prez Trump calls for Lebanon to conduct transparent investigation

• US President Donald Trump has called for Lebanon to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the huge explosion that hit Beirut, and expressed his support for protests demanding reform in the country.
• Trump said that the United States stands ready to assist the Lebanon government in the investigation.
• White House said, US President called for calm in Lebanon and acknowledged the legitimate calls of peaceful protesters for transparency, reform, and accountability.
• Lebanese army said that hopes have dwindled of finding survivors at the blast site following days of search-and-rescue operations.
• Lebanese environment minister Damianos Kattar resigned in the wake of a powerful deadly blast in the port of Beirut that killed 158 people and injured over 6,000.
• Earlier in the day, Lebanese Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad announced her resignation in the wake of the explosion and subsequent civil anti-government unrest.

2. Lebanon's PM Hassan Diab resigns following public outrage over major blast in Beirut last week
• Lebanon's prime minister stepped down from his job Monday in the wake of the catastrophic explosion in Beirut that has triggered public outrage, saying he has come to the conclusion that corruption in the country is bigger than the state.
• The move risks opening the way to dragged-out negotiations over a new Cabinet amid urgent calls for reform.
• It follows a weekend of anti-government protests after the August 4 explosion in Beirut's port that decimated the facility and caused widespread destruction, killing at least 160 people and injuring about 6,000 others.
• In a brief televised speech after three of his ministers resigned, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he and his government were stepping down.
• Diab's government was formed after his predecessor, Saad Hariri, stepped down in October in response to the demonstrations.

3. Israel shares AI-based technology, high-end equipment with AIIMS to help combat COVID-19

• Israel has given state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence-based technologies and high-end equipment to AIIMS, Delhi as part of Israel-India cooperation to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
• Israeli Ambassador to India Dr Ron Malka formally handed over the high-end equipment and technology solutions to Director of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria.
• It also includes a 12-hour disinfection product called CPD that stays active to protect the surface against new attacks of contamination, a non-invasive remote patient monitoring system which aids as a preliminary screening tool of respiratory indicators of suspected COVID-19 patients and recovering patients and AI-based software for Ultrasound use and designed especially for fighting COVID-19.
• Earlier, India helped Israel with medicines and safety gear. Now Israel has sent equipment including robotic teleconsultation and telemonitoring equipment.

4. Russia announces world's first Covid-19 vaccine-Sputnik V

• Amid the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a coronavirus vaccine, touted as the world's first such vaccine, too.
• The registration of the vaccine lays ground for mass inoculation even as the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.
• Russia dubbed its newly launched vaccine against coronavirus "Sputnik V" after the Soviet satellite.

5. Indian-origin senator Kamala Harris named US Vice Presidential candidate for Democratic party

• Democratic nominee Joe Biden has named Indian-origin senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, making history by selecting the first black woman to compete on a major party's presidential ticket.
• In choosing Harris, Biden is embracing a former rival from the Democratic primary who is familiar with the rigour of a national campaign.
• Harris, a 55-year-old first-term senator, is also one of the party's most prominent figures and quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
• She joins Biden in the 2020 race at a moment of unprecedented national crisis.

6. Bangladesh to get largest ever dollar 3.1 billion loan package from Japan

• Japan has signed its largest ever loan package worth dollar 3.1 billion for Bangladesh.
• The embassy of Japan said that the loan under its Official Development Assistance (ODA) will be given for seven projects of Bangladesh under concessional terms.
• The loan will cover the construction of Jamuna railway bridge in parallel to the existing Bangabandhu Bridge, expansion of the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Projects and Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Highway improvement project among the seven projects.
• The loan carries an interest rate of 0.65 percent with a repayment period of 30 years including initial 10 years as grace period.
• Japan has been the single largest bilateral donor for Bangladesh since 2012. The total amount of its aid as Yen Loan has reached USD 22 billion (commitment base).

7. UAE, Israel reach agreement to establish diplomatic ties by signing the Israel-United Arab Emirates Peace Agreement or the Abraham Accord

• The United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish full diplomatic ties as part of a deal to halt the annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.
• The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel.
• The name Abraham is to honour the patriarch of three major Abrahamic religions of the world-- Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
• The recognition grants a rare diplomatic win to Mr. Trump ahead of the November election as his efforts to see an end to the war in Afghanistan have yet to come to fruition while efforts to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians have made no headway.
• For Israel, the announcement comes after years of boasting by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government enjoys closer ties to Arab nations than publicly acknowledged.
• Mr. Netanyahu has sought to build settlements on lands sought by the Palestinians and embraced a Trump proposal that would allow him to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank while granting Palestinians limited autonomy in other areas.
• For the UAE, home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and the rolling, oil-rich sand dunes of Abu Dhabi,it further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in West Asia despite being governed by autocratic rulers. It also puts the UAE out first in a regional recognition race among neighbouring Gulf Arab states.
• And for the Palestinians, who long have relied on Arab backing in their struggle for independence, the announcement marked both a win and setback.
• This deal halts Israeli annexation plans, the Palestinians have repeatedly urged Arab governments not to normalise ties with Israel until a peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state is reached.
• A joint statement from the U.S., the UAE and Israel was issued immediately.



1. Industry welcomes Defence Ministry's move to stop import of 101 defence items in phased manner

• Indian industry has welcomed the defence ministry's move to stop import of 101 defence items in a phased manner.
• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced to put 101 items on import embargo to boost indigenisation of defence production.
• Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) director general Chandrajit Bannerjee welcomed the curbs and the announcement that 52,000 crore rupees will be earmarked for procurement from domestic manufacturers.
• Defence minister's announcement for a negative import list of defence systems and platforms marks the launch of a 'new glide path' for AtmaNirbhar Bharat.
• FICCI has described it as a great leap forward for Atma Nirbhar Bharat program in defence production.
• FICCI's defence committee head SP Shukla said earmarking of 52,000 crore rupees for domestic capital procurement fulfils a request by the industry chamber to provide long-term visibility on defence procurement plans.

2. India, China hold Major General-level talks on disengagement process

• Senior army commanders of India and China held extensive talks in taking forward the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at a number of friction points including in Pangong Tso and Depsang in eastern Ladakh.
• The meeting primarily focused on implementation of certain decisions taken at the fifth round of talks between Corps Commanders of the two armies last week on the disengagement process as well as to bring down prevailing tension in the region, they said.
• The two sides discussed various finer details on taking forward the disengagement process in the friction points where the withdrawal of Chinese troops is yet to complete.
• The Indian delegation at the talks was headed by Major General Abhijit Bapat, General Officer Commanding of the 3 Infantry Division.
• The two sides also deliberated on having a specific timeline for withdrawal of troops from all the friction points.
• At the latest rounds of military talks, the Indian side has been forcefully insisting on complete disengagement of Chinese troops at the earliest, and immediate restoration of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to May 5 when the standoff began following a clash between the two armies in Pangong Tso.
• The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has pulled back from Galwan Valley and certain other friction points but the withdrawal of its troops has not moved forward from the Finger areas in Pangong Tso, Gogra and Depsang as demanded by India, according to sources.
• India has been insisting that China must withdraw its forces from areas between Finger Four and Eight. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.
• The formal process of disengagement of troops began on July 6, a day after a nearly two-hour telephonic conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on ways to bring down tensions in the area.
• Both sides held several rounds of Major General-level talks in May and June before the level of negotiations was upgraded to the level of Corps commanders.
• Considering the situation on the ground, the Indian Army and the IAF have decided to maintain a very high-level of operational readiness in all areas along the LAC in Ladakh, North Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh till a "satisfactory" resolution to the border row with China is arrived at.

3. PM Modi launches Rs 1-lakh-crore agriculture infrastructure fund; over Rs 1,000 crore credit disbursed on day 1

• Prime minister Narendra Modi formally launched the Rs 1-lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) under which agri-entrepreneurs, start-ups, agri-tech players and farmer groups will have access to credit at subsidised interest for building warehouses, cold storages and other facilities to reduce post-harvest losses.
• Modi also announced release of Rs 17,100 crore to about 8.5 crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme.
• Under the AIF, the Centre will bear about 3% interest subsidy and up to Rs 2 crore credit guarantee to increase the viability of the projects.
• Already, 11 of the 12 public sector banks have signed memorandum of agreement with the agriculture ministry.
• The Centre targets to disburse the entire amount of Rs 1 lakh crore in four years for which Rs 10,000 crore has been sanctioned in the current fiscal and Rs 30,000 crore each has been earmarked for next three years. Moratorium for repayment under this financing facility may vary between 6-24 months.
• On the first day of the launch of the scheme, over Rs 1,000 crore credit was disbursed to 2,280 farmer societies.
• While farmer producer organisations (FPOs) will avail the credit guarantee facility from the agriculture ministry under the FPO promotion scheme, other eligible borrowers will get it under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for which the government will pay the required fees.
• The funds will be provided for setting up of cold stores and chains, warehouses, silos, assaying, grading and packaging units, e-marketing points linked to e-trading platforms and ripening chambers, besides PPP projects for crop aggregation sponsored by central/state/local bodies.

4. FM Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurates NIP Online Dashboard

• Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated the National Infrastructure Pipeline, NIP, Online Dashboard in New Delhi through video conferencing.
• The online dashboard is envisaged as a one stop solution for all stakeholders looking for information on infrastructure projects in New India.
• The dashboard is being hosted on the India Investment Grid, IIG www.indiainvestmentgrid.gov.in.
• IIG is an interactive and dynamic online platform that showcases d and real-time investment opportunities in the country.
• NIP will provide a boost to the vision of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
• The availability of NIP projects on IIG will ensure easy accessibility to d project information and attract investors for PPP projects.

5. India, Maldives ink contract for development of five eco-tourism zones in Addu atoll of island nation

• India and Maldives signed a contract for development of five eco-tourism zones in Addu atoll of the island nation.
• Maldives foreign secretary Abdul Ghafoor, MPs representing Addu city and Indian high commissioner Sunjay Sudhir participated in the ceremony.
• These eco tourism zones are part of grant projects being implemented under the High-Impact Community Development project (HICDP) scheme which involves a total grant assistance of 5.5 million US dollars to the Maldives.
• Currently, there are 9 such high-impact projects being implemented in the Maldives.
• High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir, in his remarks, highlighted that developing high-impact assets, building capacities within the local councils and supporting the local island economy are the most important objectives of these projects.
• He recalled that contracts for the other three HICDP projects in Addu, relating to setting up of fish-processing plants, were awarded last month.
• He remarked that taken together, these projects could be expected to bring about a transformation in the economic and employment landscape of Addu.

6. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launches various initiatives of DPSUs & OFB through digital link

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the initiatives of a number of modernisation and up-gradation of facilities as also new infrastructure creation by Defence Public Sector Undertakings, DPSUs and Ordnance Factory Board OFB through digital link in New Delhi.
• It was part of the Atmanirbhar Week celebration of the Ministry of Defence.
• Mr Singh recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan and his 5-I formula of 'Intent, Inclusion, Investment, Infrastructure and Innovation' will put the economy on a high growth trajectory.
• This list of negative items contains not only small items but weapon systems of high and critical technology.
• More such items will be added to this list shortly which will save crores of rupees in imports.

7. Nitin Gadkari unveils ‘Atulya’, a device which can disinfect premises in 30 seconds

• Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari has unveiled a microwave device that can disinfect premises in just 30 seconds.
• Named ‘Atulya’, the device can incredibly disinfect any premises with the help of differential heating leading to the disintegration of coronavirus from the surroundings.
• The microwave device has been 100 per cent indigenously manufactured. India’s premier research organisation Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has certified its design.
• The machine has been developed under the overall supervision of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
• The device can be used to disinfect any premise up to an area of 5 metre at a time.
• In addition to the premises, virus particles lingering on the surfaces of furniture, beds, office tables and even inside the boxes could be disintegrated with the new device. The device has also been designed in such a way that it remains portable and lightweight and could be used by anybody without much effort.

8. DAC approves procurement proposals worth over Rs. 8,722 crore

• The defence ministry approved military procurement worth Rs 8,722 crore including 106 basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force.
• The basic trainer aircraft named HTT-40 will be procured from state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
• The procurement proposals were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the defence ministry's highest decision making body on procurement.
• The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
• The DAC also accorded approvals that are likely to speed up the procurement of AK-203 rifles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) "upgrades". Under the UAV upgrade project, the government is likely to arm some of them with laser-guided bombs and precision-guided munitions.
• On procurement of basic trainer jets, it said the certification process for the HTT-40 aircraft of the HAL is underway.
• Post certification 70 basic trainer aircraft will be initially procured from HAL and balance 36 after operationalisation of HTT-40 fleet in IAF.
• The DAC also approved procurement of an upgraded version of Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) which is fitted as the main gun onboard the warships of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
• The upgraded version of SRGM has enhanced capability to perform against fast manoeuvring targets like missiles and fast attack crafts and increase the maximum engagement range," the ministry said. It said the DAC also approved procurement of 125 mm APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot) ammunition for Indian Army as a 'design and development case'.
• The ammunition being procured will have a 70 per cent indigenous content

9. PM Modi launches Transparent Taxation platform

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a platform to honour the honest taxpayers of the country. The unveiling took place at 11 am today via video conferencing.
• The “Transparent Taxation - Honoring The Honest” platform will initiate major tax reforms aimed at bringing transparency in income tax systems and empowering taxpayers.
• This is considered to be another step which will make the lives of the taxpayers easier. Over the years, the income tax department has carried out several major reforms, including reduction in the corporate tax. The department had also abolished the dividend tax.
• It has also been focussing on simplification of direct tax laws and increasing transparency in communication. A major step in this regard was the introduction of Document Identification Number (DIN) wherein every communication of the department would carry a computer generated unique document identification number.
• Similarly, to increase the ease of compliance for taxpayers, the IT department has moved forward with the prefilling of income tax returns to make compliance more convenient for individual taxpayers. Compliance norms for startups have also been simplified.
• The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020, was also introduced to settle tax disputes.
• Further, the Income Tax department has undertaken several measures to promote digital transactions and electronic modes of payment.
• The department is committed to take the initiatives forward and has also made efforts to ease compliances for taxpayers during Covid-19 time by extending statutory timeliness for filing returns and also releasing refunds expeditiously to increase liquidity in the hands of taxpayers.

10. Narendra Singh Tomar launches ICAR's data recovery centre 'Krishi Megh'

• To protect the precious data of the government's premier research body ICAR, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar launched a data recovery centre 'Krishi Megh' set up in Hyderabad.
• Currently, the main data centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is at the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) in New Delhi.
• The data recovery centre has been set up at National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad.
• Krishi Megh has been set up under the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP), funded by both the government and World Bank. The key features of Krishi Megh is it is equipped with the latest artificial intelligence and deep learning software for building and deploying deep learning based applications through image analysis, disease identification in livestock, etc.
• NAARM, Hyderabad has been chosen as it lies in a different seismic zone with regard to the Data Centre at ICAR-IASRI in New Delhi. Hyderabad is also suitable as skilled IT manpower is available along with other suitable climatic conditions such as low humidity level which is controllable in the data center environment.
• The data recovery centre at NAARM is synchronised with the data centre at IASRI, It has been built to mitigate the risk, enhance the quality, availability and accessibility of e-governance, research, extension and education in the field of agriculture in India.
• Krishi Megh is a step forward towards digital agriculture of 'New India', as has been envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
• NAHEP was designed for strengthening the national agricultural education system in India with the overall objective to provide more relevant and high-quality education to the agricultural university students that is in tune with the New Education Policy 2020.
• Tomar also launched the KVC ALUNET (Krishi Vishwavidyalaya Chhatr Alumni Network) and Online Accreditation System for Higher Agricultural Educational Institutions.

11. Chairman Railway Board releases E-pass module of HRMS through video conferencing

• Chairman Railway Board has launched the E-pass module of Human Resource Management System (HRMS) developed by CRIS.
• The E-Pass module has been developed by CRIS under the HRMS project and will be rolled out over Indian Railways in phased manner. With this facility Railway employees are neither supposed to come to office to apply for Pass nor have to wait for a pass being issued. Employees will be able to apply for a pass online from anywhere and get the E-Pass generated online. Complete process of application and generation of Pass is mobile friendly. Ticket booking on pass may also be done online on IRCTC site apart from earlier facility of counter booking from PRS/UTS counter.
• This facility will help Railway employees in using their pass hassle free and simultaneously make working of all officials involved in issuance of Pass smooth.
• HRMS project is a comprehensive plan for digitization of complete HR process of Indian Railway. Total 21 modules have been planned in HRMS. Basic data entry of around 97% railway employees has been completed in Employee master and E-Service record modules of HRMS which had been launched last year.
• CRIS is also going to launch Office order modules and settlement modules of HRMS very shortly.

12. Rajnath Singh launches Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation

• Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) through an online webinar.
• The NIIO puts in place dedicated structures for the end users to interact with academia and industry towards fostering innovation and indigenisation for self-reliance in defence.
• It is a three-tiered organisation and consists of- Naval Technology Acceleration Council (N-TAC) will bring together the twin aspects of innovation and indigenisation and provide apex level directives, Working group under the N-TAC will implement the projects and Technology Development Acceleration Cell (TDAC) that has been created for induction of emerging disruptive technology in an accelerated time frame.
• The Draft Defence Acquisition Policy 2020 (DAP 20) rolled out by the Defence Ministry last month envisaged establishment of Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation by the Service Headquarters.
• Indian Navy already has a functional Directorate of Indigenisation and the new structures created will build upon the ongoing indigenisation initiatives, as well as focus on innovation.
• The Indian Navy signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority, Raksha Shakti University of Gujarat, Maker Village in Kochi and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers.
• A compendium of Indian Navy's Indigenisation perspective plans titled 'SWAVLAMBAN' was also released on the occasion.



1. International Youth Day-12 August

• International Youth Day is commemorated every year on 12 August, bringing youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrating the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
• The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by the young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System.
• In 1998, a resolution proclaiming 12 August as International Youth Day was adopted by the first session of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth , which was hosted by the Government of Portugal in cooperation with the United Nations (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998). That recommendation was subsequently endorsed by the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly, in its resolution.
• The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2009 proclaiming the year commencing 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth.
• 2020 Theme: Youth Engagement for Global Action