Latest Current Affairs – January 16 2020
1. US signs 1st phase of trade deal with China; tariffs remain in place
The US has signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, which President Donald Trump described as historic, concluding more than a year of tough negotiations including several months of suspension of talks between the two largest economies of the world.
The first phase of the trade deal includes Intellection Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement, ending forced technology transfer, dramatic expansion of American agriculture, removing barriers to American financial services, ending currency manipulation, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution. The agreement was signed by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Politburo Member and Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China.
Both sides so far have imposed additional tariffs on nearly USD half trillion worth of goods. So far, the US has imposed tariffs on more than USD 360 billion of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on more than USD 110 billion of US products.
2. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev submits resignation
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has resigned. The Tass news agency said that Medvedev submitted his resignation to President Vladimir Putin. It said, President Putin thanked Mr. Medvedev for his contribution. The agency also reports that Mr. Putin will name Mr. Medvedev as deputy of the presidential Security Council. Russian President asked Medvedev’s Cabinet to keep working until the new Cabinet is formed.
3. Exercise Sahyog Kaijin began in Chennai port
Indo-Japan joint-exercise Sahyog-Kaijin began on 16 January 2020 at the Chennai port. This is the 19th edition of the exercise that is being conducted between the two Coast Guards. The exercise is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties and mutual understanding between the two coast guards. It also aims to enhance interoperability in communication, search and rescue procedures and sharing of best practices.
The exercise Sahyog-Kaijin is in line with the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between the Indian Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard in 2006. Since then, there have been regular interactions including high-level visits, training exchanges, annual joint exercises, workshops, and seminars.
4. Russia to begin Gaganyaan space astronauts training by 2020 January
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh announced that the training for Gaganyaan space astronauts will start their training from the third week of January 2020. The training of the Indian astronauts for India’s first human space mission will take place in Russia. India has selected four astronauts for the human space mission.
They will be trained in crew and service modules designed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), learn to operate it, work around it and do simulations. Bahubali GSLV Mark-III, India’s heaviest launch vehicle, will is expected to carry astronauts to space. The Union Cabinet approved Rs.10,000 crores for the Gaganyaan project.
5. Janak Raj to be the third internal member of the monetary policy committee
Janak Raj is expected to be appointed as the third internal member of the central bank in the monetary policy committee (MPC). He is currently serving as Reserve Bank of India’s principal adviser in the monetary policy department. He will replace Michael Patra, the executive director of the monetary policy department, who was elevated as deputy governor.
The MPC consists of 6 members, out of which three are RBI’s internal members and three are external experts. As per the law, by default, the Governor and the Deputy Governor of RBI who are in-charge of monetary policy are the two RBI internal members of MPC. The third member could be any RBI officer. Therefore, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das and deputy Governor Michael Patra are the two RBI internal members of MPC.
6. Arunachal Pradesh signs MoU with IUCN to red List Orchids
Arunachal Pradesh has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the IUCN on 13 January in Arunachal Pradesh. The MoU was signed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Manmohan Singh Negi and the IUCN’s country representative Dr. Vivek Saxena. The environment & forests department is the nodal department for executing the project. According to the MoU, the Arunachal Pradesh state government will collaborate with the IUCN and carry out a red-list assessment of the orchids in the state.
The state has become the first state to initiate the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red listing at the state level. The project will be spread across the state in 12 months. Many workshops on red list assessment will be conducted by experts from the IUCN.
The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. The list has been acting as a powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change. IUCN has projected that it is complexities to protect natural resources.
7. India signed MoU with Finland to deepen defence cooperation
India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Finland on 15 January 2020. The MoU was signed by Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence of Finland Mr. Jukka Juusti. The MoU is signed on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue 2020. The MoU is aimed at further defence cooperation between India and Finland.
It will enhance co-operation in the field of Production, Procurement, Research and Development (R&D) of Defence-related Equipment and Industrial cooperation. The MoU will induce cooperation between Finnish companies and Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings.
8. Henley Passport Index launched
Recently, Henley Passport Index was launched. The index was launched based on the data collected from International Air Transport Association (IATA). Around 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations were considered to launch the index. The Index is based on the number of destinations their holders can access without visa.
According to the index, Japan has the world’s strongest passport. Japan has been holding top rank position for the past 3 years. Japan was followed by Singapore, Germany, South Korea at second, third and fourth places respectively. US and UK have been falling places for two year are now in eighth position. India ranked closer to the bottom at rank 84.
UAE was the historic performer of Henley Passport Index 2020. UAE has jumped 47 places in the past 10 years. It is currently at 47th position.
9. GoI launches Saksham, a mega campaign on fuel conservation
The Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) operating under Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas will launch fuel conservation campaign. will create awareness among public about fuel conservation. PCRA has been conducting Saksham campaigns in different parts of the country.
This year, the campaign will create awareness about the following PCRA has developed energy efficient burners for gas stoves. It will provide messages on “Pollution ka Solution”. In collaboration with NCERT, PCRA has prepared a comic book on the theme, “Fuel Conservation”. The books are to be distributed at the campaigns. The books are also available in E-Pathshala.
10. WEF: Global Risks Report, 2020
On January 15, 2020, the World Economic Forum released its Global Risks Report. Under the report, the Forum has identified the global risks.
The top 5 Global risks according to the report are as follows
- The Forum reported that Climate-related risks had the greatest likelihood of severe impacts.
- The other threats include geopolitical turbulence. The retreat from multilateralism has threatened the ability of the world to deal the global risks.
- The current economic stagflation according to the report will increase. This might even lead to increased social issues, protests, increased populists movements.
- Though the Digital Technology is in its peak of evolution, the unequal access of the technology across the globe will increase.
- The social demographic, environmental and technological pressure on health systems is growing.