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Current Affairs SEPTEMBER 2020 Set 02

Diksha Sharma 15 MINUTES

ECONOMY, DEFENCE & BUSINESS NEWS

1. Jaishankar participates in inaugural session of Intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha

• External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar participated in the inaugural session of the Intra-Afghan negotiations held in Doha via video teleconference.
• The Minister's participation was in response to an invitation extended to him by the Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.
• In his address, Dr. Jaishankar referred to the millennia-old relationship between India and Afghanistan, which he said had withstood the test of time. He highlighted India's role as a major development partner of Afghanistan with over 400 projects completed in all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
• The Minister conveyed that India's policy on Afghanistan had been consistent. India believes any peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, has to respect the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and preserve the progress made in the establishment of a democratic Islamic Republic in Afghanistan.
• The interests of minorities, women and vulnerable sections of society must be preserved and the issue of violence across the country and its neighbourhood has to be effectively addressed.
• Dr. Jaishankar wished for the success of the Intra-Afghan negotiations in delivering to the people of Afghanistan what they have longed for.

2. NFL surpasses production targets by producing 16.11 Lakh tonne of urea in first 5 months of 2020-21

• National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) has surpassed the production targets by producing 16.11 Lakh tonne of urea in first five months of 2020-21, higher by 13 per cent compared to 14.26 lakh tonne produced during the same period in 2019-20.
• According to NFL, a PSU under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has recorded total fertilizer sales of 23.81 Lakh tonne in April to August this year showing a growth of 16 per cent compared to previous best of 20.57 Lakh tonne recorded during the same period in 2019-20.
• In the last few years, the Company has transformed from a single product to multi product company by adding DAP, MoP, SSP and Complex fertilizers, Bentonite Sulphur, Seeds, new strains of Bio-fertilizers and Agro chemicals in its product line.
• The NFL is now providing all agri-inputs to the farmers under one roof. The Company, at present, operates Five Urea Plants located at Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two Plants at Vijaipur in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh besides having Bio-Fertilizers plant in Vijaipur and Bentonite Sulphur plant in Panipat.

3. Govt constitutes EGoM to guide corporatisation process of OFB

• The government has constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to oversee the process of corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
• As part of the "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" (self-reliant India) initiative, the government had announced on May 16 that it would improve the autonomy, accountability and efficiency in ordnance supplies by converting the OFB, which is a subordinate office of the defence ministry, into one or more government-owned corporate entities.
• The EGoM will "oversee and guide the entire process (of corporatisation), including transition support and redeployment plan of employees while safeguarding their wages and retirement benefits”.
• Others in the EGoM are Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar. Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievance and Pension Jitendra Singh is also part of the EGoM.
• "The Terms of Reference (ToR) of the EGoM include: decision on conversion of OFB into a single defence public sector undertaking (DPSU) or as multiple DPSUs; matters related to various categories of employees, including protection of the salary and pension of the existing employees; financial support that may be provided to the entity/entities to make them economically viable and self-reliant," it stated.
• Other issues included in the ToR are: "Grandfathering of orders already being executed by OFB or for which facilities created in OFB; treatment for land assets of OFB.”
• The composition of the EGoM, along with the ToR, has been communicated to the OFB and various employee unions or associations at the "Board/Factory/Unit level" and they have been requested to place their suggestions, issues and concerns relating to the corporatisation of the OFB before the EGoM, the ministry said.
• It added that it has selected KPMG Advisory Services Private Limited and Khaitan and Company as consultants to the Department of Defence for the corporatisation of the OFB.
• The OFB has 41 factories under it to produce ordnance for the country's armed forces.

4. RBI issues guidelines for uniform compliance across banks, wants appointment of CCO

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued guidelines to enforce uniform compliance practices across banks.
• Among the requirements laid down by the central bank are a board-approved compliance policy, appointment of a chief compliance officer (CCO) and internal audit of the compliance function.
• As part of a robust compliance system, banks are required to have an effective compliance culture, an independent corporate compliance function and a strong compliance risk management programme at the bank and group levels.
• Such an independent compliance function is required to be headed by a designated chief compliance officer (CCO) selected through a suitable process with an appropriate ‘fit and proper’ evaluation/selection criteria to manage compliance risk effectively.
• The guidelines mandate that banks must lay down board-approved compliance policies clearly spelling out their compliance philosophy, expectations on compliance culture covering tone from the top, accountability, incentive structure and effective communication and the challenges thereof. Boards must also define the structure and role of the compliance function, the role of the CCO and processes for identifying, assessing, monitoring, managing and reporting on compliance risk throughout the bank.
• Banks shall develop and maintain a quality assurance and improvement programme covering all aspects of the compliance function. The programme shall be subject to independent external review periodically, at least once in three years.
• The policy should lay special thrust on building up compliance culture, vetting of the quality of supervisory/regulatory compliance reports to RBI by the top executives, non-executive chairman /chairman and ACB (audit committee of the board) of the bank, as the case may be. The policy shall be reviewed at least once a year.
• The CCO shall be a senior executive of the bank, preferably in the rank of a general manager or an equivalent position and not below two levels from the chief executive. The CCO could also be recruited from the market. They should not be more than 55 years old. The CCO must have an overall experience of at least 15 years in banking or financial services, out of which at least five years shall be in the audit, finance, compliance, legal or risk management functions.
• The CCO shall have the ability to independently exercise judgement as also the freedom and sufficient authority to interact with regulators and supervisors directly, and ensure compliance. No vigilance case or adverse observation from the RBI should be pending against the candidate identified for appointment as the CCO.
• The CCO shall have direct reporting lines to the MD and CEO and/or the board and ACB of the bank. In case the CCO reports to the MD and CEO, the audit committee of the board shall meet the CCO quarterly on the one-on-one basis without the presence of the senior management, including the MD and CEO.
• The CCO shall not have any reporting relationship with the business verticals of the bank and shall not be given any business targets. Further, the performance appraisal of the CCO shall be reviewed by the board/ACB.

5. Govt forms 3-member expert panel to assist in assessment of relief to bank borrowers

• The finance ministry has set up an expert committee to assess the impact of waiving interest payments on loans under moratorium and suggest measures to provide relief to borrowers.
• The committee to be headed by former comptroller and auditor general Rajiv Mehrishi, also includes former monetary policy committee member Ravindra H. Dholakia, and former managing director of State Bank of India (SBI) and IDBI Bank B. Sriram will submit its report.
• The terms of reference include measuring the impact on the national economy and financial stability of waiving of interest and waiving of interest on interest on the covid-19 related moratorium; suggestions to mitigate financial constraints of various sections of society in this respect and measures to be adopted in this regard.
• SBI will provide secretarial support to the panel. The panel can also consult banks, stakeholders for this purpose.
• The move comes against the backdrop of the Supreme Court adjourning a case on whether interest should accrue on loans under moratorium for the last time.
• The court granted the central government, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and banks two weeks to file a ‘concrete’ reply on the matter.
• The court also extended an interim loan moratorium to 28 September and told banks not to tag any loans as non-performing until further orders.
• On 3 September, the court had first directed banks not to label loans that were standard as on 31 August as non-performing even if there is a default. The court’s interim decision came after RBI’s six-month-long moratorium on loans ended on 31 August. RBI has, however, announced that stressed retail and corporate borrowers can avail a one-time debt recast, which could include another round of moratorium as well.
• On 7 September, RBI published the recommendations of the K.V. Kamath Committee that was tasked with selecting the parameters that will make stressed companies eligible for loan recasts.
• It isn’t clear whether the debt recast will be able to provide a lifeline to the banking sector that has been saddled with toxic assets.
• The court’s latest interim order will, however, provide a breather for borrowers who would have otherwise defaulted, had their overdue crossed the 90-day mark on or before 28 September.

6. Public Sector Banks' doorstep banking services launched by FM Nirmala Sitharaman

• Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated Doorstep Banking Services by Public Sector Banks and participated in the awards ceremony to felicitate best performing banks on EASE Banking Reforms Index.
• As part of the EASE Reforms, Doorstep Banking Services is envisaged to provide convenience of banking services to the customers at their doorstep through the universal touch points of Call Centre, Web Portal or Mobile App.
• Customers can also track their service request through these channels. The services shall be rendered by the Doorstep Banking Agents deployed by the selected Service Providers at 100 centres across the country.
• At present only non-financial services like pick up of negotiable instruments, new cheque book requisition slip, 15G / 15H forms, IT / GST challan, issue request for standing instructions, request for account statement are available to customers. Financial services shall be made available from next month.
• The services can be availed by customers of Public Sector Banks at nominal charges.
• A common reform agenda for PSBs, EASE Agenda is aimed at institutionalizing clean and smart banking. It was launched in January 2018. PSBs have shown a healthy trajectory in their performance over four quarters since the launch of EASE 2.0 Reforms Agenda.
• Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, and erstwhile Oriental Bank of Commerce were felicitated for being the top three in the 'Top Performing Banks' category according to the EASE 2.0 Index Results. Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India and erstwhile Corporation Bank were awarded in the 'Top Improvers' category basis EASE 2.0 Index.

7. India, Japan ink agreement for reciprocal supplies & services between armed forces

• India and Japan have signed an Agreement between the two countries concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Armed Forces of India and the Self-Defense Forces of Japan.
• The agreement was signed in New Delhi by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Ambassador of Japan Mr Suzuki Satoshi.
• This agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Japan in reciprocal provision of supplies and services.
• The agreement will also enhance the interoperability between the Armed Force of India and Japan thereby further increasing the bilateral defence engagements under the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.

8. First India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue held virtually

• The first India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue was held virtually.
• The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Secretary-General, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs François Delattre, and Secretary, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson. The focus of the dialogue was on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
• The outcome oriented meeting was held with the objective of building on the strong bilateral relations that the three countries share with each other. The three sides agreed to hold the dialogue on an annual basis.
• During the dialogue, the three sides discussed economic and geostrategic challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic responses to it. Cooperation on Marine Global Commons and potential areas for practical cooperation at the trilateral and regional level were also discussed, including through regional organisations such as ASEAN, IORA and the Indian Ocean Commission.
• The three countries also had an exchange on the priorities, challenges and trends in regional and global multilateral institutions, including the best ways to strengthen and reform multilateralism.

9. EPFO decides to pay 8.5% interest during 2019-20

• The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said it would credit 8.5 per cent interest to formal sector workers in a staggered manner, citing the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on its income.
• The decision was taken at a meeting of the EPFO's central board of trustees (CBT), chaired by Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
• For now, the subscribers will get an 8.15 percent interest on their deposits for the financial year 2019-20 (FY20), significantly lower than the 8.5 per cent the EPFO had decided upon in March. The remaining 0.35 per cent will be credited in December this year, if the EPFO is able to redeem its equity investments.
• The EPFO is staring at an income shortfall of roughly Rs 2,500 crore in 2019-20 (FY20), if it gives out the interest at the rate of 8.5 per cent to its subscribers at one go.
• If the EPFO is unable to credit the remaining 0.35 per cent interest in December, this will be the lowest returns that the fund's subscribers will get since 1977-78. It had given an interest rate of 8 per cent in 1977-78. The EPFO credits interest to around 190 million accounts.

10. Rafale jets inducted into IAF, will be part of ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron

• The five Rafale aircraft which arrived on July 27 at Ambala Air Force Station were inducted to the Indian Air Force’s 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’.
• Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly attended the ceremony along with Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
• The Rafale aircraft were given a water cannon salute after the Sarva Dharma Puja which was attended by the dignitaries along with both the defence ministers and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, air chief marshal RKS Bhadauria.
• Defence minister Rajnath Singh presented an induction scroll to Group Captain Harkeerat Singh, the Commanding Officer of the 17 Squadron of the ‘Golden Arrows’ of the Indian Air Force thus formally completing the induction of the 5 Rafale fighter jets into the squadron.
• The Rafale aircrafts along with the skills of the 17 Squadron of the ‘Golden Arrows’ will form a lethal combination and will challenge our adversaries.

11. Second Kisan train to transport Agri products from Andhra Pradesh to New Delhi, linking farmers directly to markets

• The country's second and South India’s first Kisan Train was flagged off and the train will transport agriculture products from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh to Adarsh Nagar Railway Station in New Delhi.
• On 7th August, the first Kisan Rail was flagged off between Devlali in Maharashtra and Danapur in Bihar as a weekly service, which was later made bi-weekly due to increasing demand. Now the 2nd Kisan Rail will benefit farmers of the states coming en route.
• The introduction of Kisan Rail is conceptualized to provide priority to the farming sector and facilitate transportation of perishable agricultural products to various market places across the country.

12. 5 Petroleum and Gas PSUs to join International Solar Alliance: Pradhan

• Five Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry will be joining International Solar Alliance (ISA)'s Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action (ISA-CSCA) as Corporate Partners and will be contributing to ISA's Corpus Fund, said Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and GAIL (India) Limited will be contributing to ISA's Corpus Fund.
• Indian Oil & Gas companies are actively taking part in this clean energy transition.
• In order to reduce carbon footprint, these companies will be focusing more on green energy investments such as renewables, biofuels and hydrogen going forward.

13. Cabinet approves asset monetization of subsidiaries of PGCIL through Infrastructure Trust

• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Asset Monetization of subsidiaries of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited- POWERGRID through Infrastructure Investment Trust.
• It has given approval to POWERGRID to undertake monetization of its Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) assets, held in existing Special Purpose Vehicle (SPVs), through Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT).
• The approval would facilitate POWERGRID, to undertake asset monetization of its identified TBCB transmission assets through InvIT, so that the proceeds from the asset monetization could be utilized for fresh investment in the transmission network expansion and other capital schemes of the company.
• In the first block, POWERGRID would be able to monetize 5 TBCB assets of gross block of 7164 crore rupees. Based on the experience gained, further monetization shall be carried out in future.
• The assets proposed for monetization through InvlT are operational assets proposed to be managed by the existing manpower of POWERGRID already deputed for this purpose and therefore no additional employment generation is envisaged with regard to them.
• However, additional employment opportunities are likely in services incidental to InvlT, such as merchant banking, legal advisory, trusteeship, financial and taxation consultancy, valuation, printing, advertisement and in allied activities.
• Asset recycling is a key strategy of the Government to release the capital invested in operational assets and the proposed InvIT of POWERGRID would attract both domestic as well as global investors including Sovereign Wealth Funds.
• Sale of assets to InvIT is a way of accessing long term relatively cheap finance required to fund infrastructure projects in the Transmission Sector. The CAPEX Plan of POWERGRID for next two years 2020-21 and 2021-22 is 20 thousand 500 crore rupees. The government has enacted an enabling regulatory and taxation framework for InvITs and the proposed InvIT by POWERGRID would deepen this market.
• The InvIT would provide an opportunity to the general public and institutional investors such as Pension Funds, Mutual Funds, to benefit from this investment opportunity and participate in the growth of Indian Infrastructure Sector.

14. India, ADB sign 500 million US dollar loan for Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System corridor

• India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a 500 million US dollar loan for Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor.
• The first tranche of a total one billion dollar facility, to build a modern, high-speed 82-kilometer Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor will improve regional connectivity and mobility in India's national capital region (NCR).
• The signatories to the loan agreement for the Delhi-Meerut RRTS Investment Project were Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission who signed for ADB.
• The first tranche loan will support construction of the first of three priority rail corridors planned under the NCR Regional Plan 2021 to connect Delhi to other cities in adjoining states.
• The project will provide better connectivity to allow other towns in the NCR to develop as urban economic centers surrounded by residential areas while easing the concentration pressure on Delhi.
• The development of this corridor will have a huge demonstration effect and pave the way for a paradigm shift in mobility and the pattern of urban development within the region.
• With a design speed of 180 kilometer per hour and high-frequency operations of every 5 to 10 minutes, the 82-kilometer corridor connecting Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi to Modipuram in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh is expected to reduce the journey time to about one hour from the present 3 to 4 hours. The RRTS will have multimodal hubs to ensure smooth interchange with other transport modes.

15. CIPET to establish two new Centres for Skilling and Technical Support at Bhagalpur & Varanasi

• Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET) under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers will be shortly establishing two new Centres for Skilling and Technical Support- CSTS at Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Varanasi (UP) .
• Every year 1000 youths will be trained in each centre through Diploma & Skill Development programmes for gainful employment in petrochemicals & allied industries.
• Technical Support Services offered by these centres will act as a catalyst for development and growth of new and existing industries in the region.
• Presently CIPET has 43 operational centres and 9 more centres are in the process of establishment across the country catering to the needs of Polymer and allied industries. The Institute has completed 50 years of its dedicated service to the Nation. Currently it also has 31 Skilling and Technology Support CST Centres (CSTS)where Diploma, PG Diploma and Skill development training programmes are being organized ) in the field of Polymer Science, Engineering and Technology.
• CIPET is actively contributing towards several Govt. of India initiatives viz., Skill India, Make in India, Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan, Stand up India, Start Up India and Digital India etc.
• CIPET's Alumni has more than one Lakh students and the passed out are enrolled on a regular basis every year. Global presence, occupying key positions and entrepreneurship are some of the key attributes of CIPET.

16. RBI’s loan recast plan ready, relief for 26 sectors

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released guidelines for banks to follow while restructuring Covid-stressed loan exposures, across 26 sectors.
• The circular, based on the recommendations given by the KV Kamath Committee, said five financial metrics need to be taken into account while deciding on a recast plan: total outstanding liabilities/ adjusted tangible net worth, total debt/Ebitda, current ratio, debt service coverage ratio, and average debt service coverage ratio.
• For each of these parameters, RBI has prescribed either a floor or a ceiling.
• Experts observed that some of the ratios were strict. For instance, RBI has said the current ratio and DSCR (debt service coverage ratio) in all cases shall be 1.0 and above, and adjusted SCR shall be 1.2 and above.
• Lenders are expected to ensure that the ratio of the total outside liabilities to the adjusted tangible net worth (TOL/ATNW) is complied with when the recast is implemented.
• Moreover, this ratio needs to be maintained, in all cases, as per the plan, by March,31 2022, and on an ongoing basis thereafter. However, wherever there is equity infusion, the ratio may be suitably phased-in over the period. All other key ratios shall have to be maintained as per the resolution plan by March 31, 2022 and on an ongoing basis thereafter, RBI said.
• The committee sets 180 days to implement the plan and makes an inter creditor agreement (ICA) mandatory. The tenure of a loan may be extended by a maximum of two years, with or without a moratorium, the panel has said. The resolution process shall be treated as invoked once lenders representing 75% by value and 60% by number agree to invoke the same.
• The resolution plans “shall take into account the pre-Covid-19 operating and financial performance of the borrower and impact of Covid-19 on its operating and financial performance’ to assess cash flows for FY21/FY22 and subsequent years, suggesting some degree of flexibility.
• In these financial projections, the threshold TOL/adjusted TNW and debt/Ebitda ratios should be met by FY23. The other three threshold ratios should be met for each year of the projections starting from FY22,”, adding that the base case financial projections need to be prepared as part of the plan.
• The sector-specific parameters may be considered as guidance for preparation of a resolution plan. Also, lenders may adopt a graded approach classifying the impact on borrowers as mild, moderate and severe. “Considering the large volume and the fact that only standard assets are eligible under the proposed scheme, a segmented approach of bucketing these accounts under mild, moderate and severe stress, may ensure quick turnaround,” the report said.
• Severe stress cases would require comprehensive restructuring. Exceptions to thresholds were made for five sectors — auto manufacturing, aviation, real estate, roads and trading — wholesale. Any default by the borrower with any of the signatories to the ICA during the monitoring period shall trigger a review period of 30 days.
• If the borrower is in default with any of the signatories to the ICA at the end of the review period, the asset classification of the borrower with all lending institutions, including those who did not sign the ICA, shall be downgraded to non-performing asset (NPA) from the date of implementation of the plan or the date from which the borrower had been classified as NPA before implementation of the plan, whichever is earlier.

17. First trial run on newly opened inland waterways from Daudkandi in Bangladesh to Sonamura in India completes successfully

• The trial run of the newly opened inland river route from Daudkandi in Bangladesh to Sonamura in Tripura was successfully completed.
• The newly opened 93 kilometers long route on the river Gumti marks another major step in enhancing connectivity between India and Bangladesh.
• Land Customs Station (LCS) at Srimantapur was also handed over to the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) to facilitate trade through this border.
• The opening up of the new route on river Gumati will help reduce cost in the trade between two countries.
• The first trial run based on the agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of India's transit cargo through Bangladesh was carried out in July. It delivered Cargo from Kolkata to Agartala using the Chattogram port.

 

RANKINGS & INDEX

1. Gujarat & Andaman and Nicobar Islands named best performers in State StartUp Rankings 2019

• Gujarat and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have emerged as the best performers among states and UTs in the second edition of ranking of the startup ecosystem in the country, followed by Karnataka and Kerala who were "top performers".
• The States' Startup Ranking Framework 2019 is based on seven broad reform areas consisting of 30 action points ranging from institutional support, easing compliances, relaxation in public procurement norms, incubation support, seed funding support, venture funding support, and awareness and outreach. Based on these categories, the states have been recognized as best performers, top performers, leaders, aspiring leaders.
• As per the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the exercise is useful to develop innovation capacity of states and provide support in policy formulation and implementation. A total of 22 states and three UTs participated in the exercise.
• The last 2018 edition ranked Gujarat as the best performer in developing the startup ecosystem for budding entrepreneurs. Other top performers were Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Rajasthan
• Currently, 36,614 startups are recognized by the DPIIT and around 600 start up centric reforms were reported in one year by all states and UTs.
• An Evaluation Committee comprising independent experts from the startup ecosystem, carried out a detailed assessment of responses across various parameters.
• Many parameters involved getting feedback from beneficiaries which was gathered through more than 60,000 calls made in 11 different languages to ascertain the real pulse at the implementation levels.


PEOPLE IN NEWS & OBITUARIES

1. Arya Samaj leader, Social activist Swami Agnivesh passes away

• Former Haryana MLA and Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh, who was hospitalised due to liver cirrhosis and was in a critical condition, died at a hospital in New Delhi at the age of 80 years.
• He had been suffering from liver cirrhosis and was put on ventilatory support due to multiple organ failure.
• Born into a Brahmin family in Andhra Pradesh, Swami Agnivesh came to be known for his campaign against bonded labour through his foundation Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labor Liberation Front). His public work spurred him to enter active politics.
• He was elected to the Haryana Assembly in 1977 and was made education minister after two years. He, however, resigned from the post in protest against the Haryana government’s inaction against police who had opened fire at workers protesting bonded labour.
• Swami Agnivesh also led several initiatives to foster peace and interfaith harmony in Kashmir at the height of militancy, his website notes. In 2010, he was tasked by the Congress government to open a dialogue with the Maoist leadership. A year later he was part of the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare. He was forced to split from the group after a video surfaced allegedly showing him speaking to a minister from the Congress government. It was around this time that Swami Agnivesh appeared on reality TV show Bigg Boss as a guest.
• Swami Agnivesh, who was president of World Council of Arya Samaj till 2014, had also angered Hindu groups for his comments on Amarnath shrine in Jammu & Kashmir. Agnivesh, they alleged, insulted Lord Shiva by saying that the ice stalagmite doesn’t hold any religious significance.

2. Father of India's Radio Astronomy Govind Swarup passes away

• Father of India's Radio Astronomy, Dr. Govind Swarup passed away at Pune at the age of 91 years.
• Dr. Swarup is known not only for his many important research contributions in several areas of astronomy and astrophysics, but also for his outstanding achievements in building ingenious, innovative and powerful observational facilities for front-line research in radio astronomy.
• The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) was established at Narayangaon near Pune was established under Dr. Swarup's able guidance.
• He was awarded Padmashree, Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, H. K. Firodia award and many international awards.

3. Kesavananda Bharati, whose petition led to landmark verdict on Constitution, dies at 79

• Kesavananda Bharati, the head of Edneer Mutt at Kasaragod in Kerala whose petition in the Supreme Court led to the landmark verdict of 1973 that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Constitution, died at the age of 79 years.
• Bharati was the head of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Samsthanam mutt, which belongs to the Shankaracharya tradition. The mutt is believed to have been established by Totakacharya, one of the first four disciples of Adi Shankaracharya.
• He was the petitioner in the His Holiness Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Ors. Vs. State of Kerala and other cases in which the Supreme Court ruled that the basic structure of the Constitution is inviolable, and cannot be amended by Parliament.
• It was on March 21, 1970 that Bharati moved the apex court, challenging the Kerala government’s takeover of land owned by the mutt as per the land reforms Act of 1969.
• Following enactment of the law, the mutt had lost its property and was struggling for financial resources for its functioning and charitable activities.
• Veteran barrister M K Nambiar, the father of K K Venugopal, currently Attorney General of India, had introduced Bharati to jurist Nani Palkhivala and he had helped Bharati file the petition in Supreme Court.
• In his petition, Bharati had sought enforcement of rights guaranteed under Article 25 (Right to practice and propagate religion), Article 26 (Right to manage religious affairs), Article 14 (Right to equality), Article 19(1) (f) (freedom to acquire property), Article 31 (Compulsory Acquisition of Property).
• He had prayed that provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (Act 1 of 1964) as amended by the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 1969 (Act 35 of 1969) be declared unconstitutional, ultra vires and void. During pendency of the writ petition, the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 1971 was passed and it received assent of the President on August 7, 1971.
• The petition was heard by a 13-member bench, the largest-ever bench in the history of the Supreme Court. The court heard the petition for 68 working days, from October 31, 1972 to March 23, 1973.
• On April 24, 1973, the Supreme Court delivered its historic verdict in the case known as Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Keralam in which it was held that the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution of India is circumscribed by what is known as Basic Structure of the Constitution.
• In other words, the court ruled that Parliament can amend any part of the Constitution, but such amendment cannot in any manner deface or distort the basic features of the charter such as democracy, federalism, supremacy of the Constitution, secularism, and separation of powers between legislature, executive and judiciary.

NATIONAL NEWS

1. ECI tightens norms to crack down on criminals in politics; issues revised guidelines

• Election Commission issued revised guidelines for publishing details of criminal antecedents by candidates and the political parties regarding candidates nominated by them.
• As per the revised guidelines, the candidates as well as the political parties, regarding candidates nominated by them, will publish the details of criminal antecedents, if any, in newspapers and television.
• The first publicity will be within the first four days of the last date of withdrawal. Second publicity will be within the 5th to 8th day of the last date of withdrawal.
• The third publicity will be from 9th day till the last day of campaign which is two days prior to the date of poll. The Poll Body said, the timeline will help the voters in exercising their choices in a more informed manner.
• Regarding the publicity by uncontested winning candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them, the Commission clarified that uncontested winner candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them shall also publicise the criminal antecedents, if any, as prescribed for other contesting candidates and political parties.

2. J&K govt announces Universal Health Insurance Scheme for all residents of UT

• Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has announced a scheme to provide universal health insurance to all residents of the Union Territory.
• The scheme will provide health insurance cover free of cost to all residents and shall include the serving and retired employees and their families as well.
• Lt Governor said, the government has approved an important public health benefit proposal which is probably the first of its kind in the entire country. He said, Jammu and Kashmir Health Scheme will provide universal health coverage to nearly 70 lakh residents of the Union Territory who are not covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The LG invited suggestions from the public for naming the J&K Health Scheme.
• The J&K Health Scheme will have the same benefits as Ayushman Bharat and beneficiaries can avail cashless treatment at all hospitals empanelled under the central scheme across the country.

3. Gujarat government announces state's first Heritage Tourism Policy

• Gujarat Government has announced the state's first Heritage Tourism Policy.
• This was announced after the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in Gandhinagar.
• The policy has provisions to permit use of pre-1950 historical buildings such as heritage palaces and forts, as heritage hotels, heritage museums, heritage banquet halls and heritage restaurants, provided that basic heritage structure is not disturbed. This decision paves a way for creating tourism attraction in unused historical buildings.
• Under this policy, the State Government will provide an aid of five to ten crore rupees to new or existing heritage hotels for renovation and expansion.
• According to the policy provisions, the developers will be provided an aid of 45 lakh to one crore rupees, to start new or restore an existing heritage museum, heritage banquet hall and heritage restaurant.
• The restoration or expansion work should be done without altering or damaging the existing original structure. The State Government expects that the new policy will place Gujarat on the world heritage tourism map. International tourists will not only be able to enjoy the heritage sites, but also enjoy a stay at ancient palaces, forts owned by Kings and other ancient monuments.

4. No restriction be imposed on inter-state movement of medical oxygen: Centre urges states

• No restriction should be imposed on inter-state movement of medical oxygen, the Union Health Ministry said, while strongly reinforcing that it is the responsibility of every state and Union Territory to ensure hospitalised COVID-19 patients receive oxygen.
• The ministry said it has come to its knowledge that a few states are trying to curb free inter-state movement of oxygen supplies by exercising provisions under various Acts and also mandating manufacturers or suppliers in their jurisdiction to restrict oxygen supplies to only hospitals of the state.
• In view of this, the health ministry has reiterated the critical importance of oxygen in hospitals for management of critical COVID-19 patients.

5. UP govt forms SIT to probe into purchase of health equipment

• The Uttar Pradesh government constituted a three-member special investigation team to probe into the purchase of health equipment and sanitisers allegedly at higher prices in several districts.
• The probe team will submit its report in 10 days.
• Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered the formation of the SIT as the authorities in Sultanpur, Ghazipur and other districts have been accused of buying pulse oximeters and infrared thermometers at more than the market cost.
• The state government had on June 23 issued orders for the purchase of pulse oximeters, infrared thermometer and sanitisers for every village panchayat from the funds released by the UP Finance Commission.

6. India to host CHG meeting of SCO on 29-30 November in New Delhi

• India is scheduled to host the meeting of Council of Heads of Government (CHG) of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO on 29-30 November 2020 in New Delhi.
• This will be the first Prime Minister level meeting to be hosted by India since its elevation as a full-member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO.
• In the run-up to the CHG Meeting, India has taken a lot of initiatives in a wide range of areas. India hosted a Preparatory Seminar on Start-up Forum on 11 August and the first-ever meeting of Consortium of Economic Think-Tanks on 21-22 August. Both the events were attended by all the SCO Member States through Video Conferencing.
• India has also planned for many events and meetings to be held before the CHG in November, which include Sub-group on Cooperation in Traditional Medicine, Preparatory Seminar on Traditional Medicine, Two meetings of Senior Officials Commission on External Economy and Trade, first-ever SCO Start-up Forum, Special Working Group on Innovation and Startups, first-ever SCO Young Scientists Conclave, Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage, etc.
• India will also be hosting two Ministerial-level meetings of SCO Member States. The Justice Ministers and the Trade Ministers are scheduled to meet before the Heads of Govt meet. Trade Ministers are expected to meet in the last week of October where India will launch SCO startup forum. All the member states have supported India's initiatives in the run up to the Heads of Government meet in New Delhi.

7. 13.74 lakh Indians repatriated so far under Vande Bharat Mission

• A total of 13.74 lakh Indians have been repatriated so far through different modes of the Vande Bharat Mission including Air India, private and foreign carriers, chartered flights, naval ships and land border crossings.
• The Phase 6 of Vande Bharat Mission became operational on 1st September.
• External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said 1007 international flights have been scheduled to operate during this month. Over 2 lakh people are expected to be repatriated.
• Of these, 270 international flights have already been operated from GCC countries, Jordan, Afghanistan, Maldives, China, Thailand, US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Australia. Bilateral travel arrangements form the bulk of this phase with travel 'bubble' flight operations from 11 countries.

8. Dr Harsh Vardhan attends 73rd Session Of WHO South East Asia Region through video conferencing

• Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan attended the 73rd session of WHO South East Asia Region (SEARO) through video conference.
• Representing India, Dr. Harsh Vardhan offered two interventions in the ministerial round table session on COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness. He first spoke on the important interventions that were applied to manage COVID - 19 and maintain essential non - COVID health services in India.
• He later expounded on the strategies that are being applied to ensure that there are increased investments in health and health emergency preparedness and response as well as in International Health Regulation (IHR) core capacities to prevent future pandemics.
• The Minister outlined the measures being undertaken by the Government such as issuing of travel advisories, creation of facilities for quarantine of persons returning from countries which reported cases of COVID - 19, issuing of guidelines for community level surveillance and also scaling up of testing facilities, tracking and testing of all suspect cases.
• He also highlighted the increasing domestic production capacity of PPE, ventilators and other medical items required for treatment of COVID patients which has resulted in India's resilience in the health sector.
• He spoke about India's flagship 'Pradhan Mantri - Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana'. He added that this will expand public health infrastructure, improve healthcare service delivery and quality, strengthen disease surveillance systems and outbreak response.

9. PM Modi digitally launches Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana & e-Gopala App

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi digitally launched the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).
• He also inaugurated the e-Gopala app that will provide farmers marketplace for livestock and information portal for direct use of farmers.
• He also launched several other initiatives in the fisheries and animal husbandry sectors in Bihar. The launches come just a few months ahead of the Bihar polls.
• The PMMSY is a flagship scheme for focused and sustainable development of fisheries sector in the country with an estimated investment of ₹20,050 crore for its implementation during 2020-21 to 2024-25 as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat package.
• The investment of ₹20,050 crore under PMMSY is the highest ever in the fisheries sector.
• The e-Gopala app is a comprehensive breed improvement marketplace and information portal for direct use of farmers.
• At present no digital platform is available in the country for farmers managing livestock including buying and selling of disease free germplasm in all forms, availability of quality breeding services and guiding farmers for animal nutrition, treatment of animals using appropriate medicine.
• There is no mechanism to send alerts on due date for vaccination, pregnancy diagnosis and calving among other issues and inform farmers about various government schemes and campaigns in the area.

10. UNICEF report says Child Mortality Rate in India has declined substantially

• Country's child mortality rate has declined substantially between 1990 and 2019.
• According to the new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the World Bank Group, the under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined to 34 in 2019 from 126 in 1990.
• The country registered a 4.5 per cent annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality between 1990-2019.
• The number of under-five deaths in India dropped from 3.4 million in 1990 to 824,000 in 2019. The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) in India declined from 89 in 1990 to 28 last year.

11. UP govt decides to involve women SHGs in distribution of nutrition fortified food

• In a major step towards women empowerment, Uttar Pradesh government has decided to involve women self help groups in distribution of nutrition fortified food for children and pregnant ladies in state.
• An Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between UP Rural Livelihood Mission and UN World Food Programme for procurement and distribution of Take home rations THR, which are energy dense foods given to kids and pregnant ladies.
• Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that this will ensure employment of at least one woman from every poor rural family.
• Take home rations (THR) are micro nutrition fortified foods which are given to children under six years of age and pregnant and lactating women under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). The collaboration will be launched in 204 blocks of 18 districts in the first phase and then extended to cover all blocks in the state's 75 districts.
• The Self Help Groups involved in the task have formed micro enterprises which are to be registered as a company, licensed by the department of industries.
• The company will manufacture THR and take it to designated ICDS centres. The Chief Minister said that women from around 3 thousand women self help groups will become entrepreneurs through this. Each woman will get employment of more than 240 working days. An employment generation of more than 7 lakh 20 thousand person days and income of 5 to 7 thousand per person is expected from the scheme. The total business turnover worth Rs 1,200 crore in the 18 districts is also expected from it.
• The initiative will not only ensure distribution of nutritious food to expectant mothers and small children but the economic independence provided by the initiative will help women fight back oppression and violence.

12. Health Ministry issues SOP guidelines for partial reopening of schools

• The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for partial resumption of teaching activities in schools for students of Classes 9 to 12, on a voluntary basis, from September 21.
• The precautionary measures include teachers, employees and students ensuring physical distancing of at least six feet, use of face covers, frequent hand-washing, following respiratory etiquette, self-monitoring of health, and not spitting.
• Schools have been asked to specifically ensure that online or distance learning should continue to be permitted and encouraged and that students of Classes 9 to 12 should be permitted to visit their school on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers.
• Only the schools outside the containment zones will be allowed to open. Further, students, teachers and employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend. Students, teachers and employees will also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones.
• Prior to resumption of activities, all work areas intended for teaching or demonstrations etc, including laboratories, other common utility areas shall be sanitised with one percent sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently-touched surfaces.
• Schools that were used as quarantine centres will be properly sanitised and deep cleaned before partial functioning is resumed. The teaching and non-teaching employees concerned, up to 50 per cent of the strength, may be called to schools for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work.
• Instead of biometric attendance, alternate arrangements for contactless attendance shall be made by the school administration.
• At all times, the teachers and students shall maintain a physical distancing of six feet apart, wherever feasible.
• For ensuring queue management, inside and outside the premises, specific markings on the floor with a gap of six feet should be made. Similarly, physical distancing shall also be maintained in staff rooms, and office areas.
• Weather permitting, outdoor spaces may be utilised for conducting teacher-student interactions, keeping in view the safety and security of students and physical distancing protocols.
• Assemblies, sports and events that can lead to overcrowding are strictly prohibited. The school should display state helpline numbers and also numbers of local health authorities to teachers, students, employees to contact in case of any emergency.
• For air-conditioning or ventilation, the guidelines of thee CPWD shall be followed, providing that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70 per cent, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross-ventilation should be adequate.
• Lockers of students will remain in use, as long as physical distancing and regular disinfection is maintained. Gymnasiums shall follow the ministry's guidelines, while swimming pools shall remain closed.
• Similarly, SOPs have also been issued for skill or entrepreneurship training institutions, higher educational institutions conducting doctoral courses and postgraduate studies in technical and professional programmes requiring laboratory and experimental work.

13. Telangana Assembly passes unanimous resolution demanding ‘Bharat Ratna’ for ex-PM Narasimha Rao

• The Telangana Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Centre to confer the country's highest civilian award - Bharat Ratna - posthumously on former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
• Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, while moving the resolution, also urged the Centre to install Narasimha Rao`s statue and portrait in Parliament.
• The resolution also called for renaming the Central University of Hyderabad as PV Narasimha Rao Central University. The resolution urged the Centre to confer - Bharat Ratna - on the son of Telangana, Narasimha Rao, who was the first Prime Minister from South India.
• The resolution described him as the architect of new economic reforms, a rare diplomat, a polyglot, an outstanding philosopher who led the country on the path of development and an extraordinary intelligent leader.

14. Assam promotes nutritious food through Kitchen Garden as part of Poshan Maah

• As a part of the Poshan Maah, the Social Welfare Department in Assam has taken steps to promote nutritious food through Kitchen Garden.
• Kitchen Garden or nutri garden will be set up at Anganwadi Centres and Government Primary Schools across the state.
• The idea of the Kitchen Garden is to plant locally available nutritional food and vegetables.
• The Health and Nutrition consultant of Poshan Abhiyan in Assam, Dr. Gitali Borah said that coverage with MGNREGA and the Agriculture Department is also being emphasized to implement the Kitchen garden initiative.
• Poshan Maah is India’s flagship programme, launched in March 2018 to improve the nutritional status of children up to 6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
• The programme aims to achieve specific targets for reduction in low birth weight babies, stunting growth, undernutrition and prevalence of anaemia over the next three years.

15. J&K-Tamil Nadu: Online cultural event organized under 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat'

• In Jammu & Kashmir, Directorate of School Education in Jammu organized an online cultural event under 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat' initiative with its paired state Tamil Nadu, wherein students from Tamil Nadu and Jammu participated.
• During the event, students from both the states showcased their culture through attractive performances.
• The online cultural event was organized by EBSB Cell of Directorate of School Education, Jammu.
• In the prevailing situation, an attempt has been made by the Directorate to engage students in some goal oriented recreational activities and to carry forward the EBSB programme amid lockdown.
• The main aim of organizing the event was to celebrate India's ethenic and linguistic diversity and to promote awareness about linguistic, cultural and spiritual diversity of the paired state.

16. India successfully flight tests indigenous Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle

• India conducted a successful test flight of the indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), joining an elite group of countries i.e. the US, Russia and China, who possess the technology.
• The HSDTV has a range of uses, including missiles of the future for air defence, surveillance and reconnaissance besides in the development of energy-efficient, low cost and reusable satellite-launch vehicles.
• The test was conducted from Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha. The HSTDV tests the indigenously developed hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology. The scramjets are a variant of air breathing jet engines and have the ability to handle airflows of speeds much higher than the speed of sound. Hypersonic speeds are five times (or more) higher than the speed of sound.
• The hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven solid rocket motor, which took it to an altitude of 30 kilometres, where the aerodynamic heat shields were separated. The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake opened as planned.
• The hypersonic combustion sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound, which is nearly two kilometres per second, for more than 20 seconds. The critical events, like fuel injection and auto ignition of scramjet demonstrated technological maturity. The scramjet engine performed in a text book manner.
• At hypersonic speeds, the system has to handle very high fluctuating temperatures, as well as air speed, and thus, development of the material is one of the main challenges, among other complex technologies.
• The parameters of launch and cruise vehicle, including the scramjet engine, were monitored by multiple tracking radars, electro-optical systems and Telemetry Stations.
• The special project of the DRDO consisted of contributions from its multiple facilities. From the Armament and Combat Engineering Cluster, the two facilities from Pune which played a role in the development were the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory and the Research & Development Establishment (Engineers).

17. Airlines to fully refund air tickets booked during lockdown, Centre tells Supreme Court

• The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that airlines will fully refund for air tickets booked for travel during lockdown. This applies to domestic and international tickets booked between March 25 and May 3 this year and will have to be refunded immediately.
• The move comes after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to explain its position on a PIL seeking full refund of booked air tickets during lockdown.
• The government also said that if the airlines are unable to make a full refund, the fliers will get a credit shell upto March 31 next year. Centre also said that the passengers can use the credit on any route of choice and should also be able to transfer it to anyone. The airlines will devise a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

1. ADB provides 50 million dollar loan to Bangladesh for PPP infrastructure projects

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and government of Bangladesh signed a 50 million dollar loan agreement to promote, fund and implement public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects in the country.
• The project will help Bangladesh to mobilise private investment, develop infrastructure projects and create jobs which will help accelerate the economic recovery process in the aftermath of the Corona pandemic.
• The project will generate 3000 jobs in PPP projects supported by the Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund Limited (BIFFL) by 2024. Further, the project will help the roll out of the government’s PPP strategy, said Manmohan Parkash.
• ADB has also assisted the government to develop the PPP Act, set up the PPP office, and an institutional framework for PPPs in addition to supporting priority sectors of Bangladesh as a transaction advisor.

2. Huge fire breaks out at Beirut port a month after explosion

• A huge fire broke out at the Port of Beirut, triggering panic among residents traumatised by last month’s massive explosion there that killed and injured thousands of people.
• It was not immediately clear what caused the fire at the facility, which was decimated by the August 4 explosion when nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonated, triggering a shock wave explosion that blasted windows, doors and walls miles away.
• The August 4 explosion killed more than 190 people, injured around 6,500 and damaged thousands of buildings in the Lebanese capital. The sight of another huge fire a month later created panic among residents traumatized by last month’s explosion.

IMPORTANT DAYS

1. International Literacy Day- 8 September

• The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.
• The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
• The UN's Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives.
• Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults, who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.
• Theme-“Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” especially on the role of educators and changing pedagogies. The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.

2. World Suicide Prevention Day- 10 September

• World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), on 10 September, is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). WHO has been a co-sponsor of the day.
• The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented.
• 2020 Theme-'Working Together to Prevent Suicide.'

3. International Day of Democracy-15 September

• International Day of Democracy is celebrated on September 15 every year to raise awareness about democracy. This day helps people around the world to learn and review democracy in the world.
• On November 8, 2007, the UN General Assembly announced 15 September as International Day of Democracy and since then it is celebrated annually.
• The day helps people to come out, celebrate, and promote democracy across the globe.