Current Affairs February 16&17, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of February 16&17, 2019 in Short Notes form for preparation of IBPS, Banking, CLAT, SSC, Railway, UPSC, IAS/PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, MPPSC, RPSC, TNPSC, MPSC, KPSC and all other competitive examinations of India.

1. Ghumot, Goa’s indigenous traditional percussion instrument made from an earthen vessel, will be notified as a heritage musical instrument of Goa. The instrument was banned due to the use of the skin of the endangered monitor lizard for the drum membrane. In recent years, ghumot makers have started using goat skin instead. The ban is applicable to the use of any animal listed in the Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, and that the goat is not one of them. The Ghumot is part of religious and folk music of both Hindus and Christians in Goa. It is an essential instrument for the Ganesh festival, during arti and in Suvari Vadan orchestra that performs at Goan temples during spring. Ghumot is part of the Mando, a musical form of the Goan Catholics that combines elements of both Indian and Western music. It is also part of the Zagor folk dance and Dulpod.

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2. The book titled ‘Undaunted: Saving the Idea of India’ has been authored by former finance minister P Chidambaram, which was recently released by former vice president Hamid Ansari. The book claimed that fear rules the country today and there is a danger that the Constitution will be replaced by a document inspired by Hindutva. According to the author, an economy derailed can be put back on the rails and a society divided can be healed and united but one thing cannot be fixed if it is broken, and that is the Constitution and the constitutional values embodied in that document. At present, every value of the Constitution is under attack — freedom, equality, liberalism, secularism, privacy, scientific temper, etc.

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3. Meghalaya’s state animal – Clouded Leopard will be the official mascot for the 39th National Games 2022, which is coinciding with the 50th year of the creation of the state. This decision was taken at the first National Games 2022 executive committee meeting chaired by Meghalaya Sports and Youth Affairs Minister . Meghalaya will be the third northeastern state after Manipur and Assam hosted the National Games in 1999 and 2007, respectively. It had co-hosted the 2016 South Asian Games with its neighbouring state Assam. An estimated 14,450 athletes and officials are expected to visit Meghalaya during the 2022 National Games. Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is one of the wild cats that live throughout the forests of Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Since 2008, it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

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4. On 13th Feb, the 3rd Indo-German Environment Forum was held in New Delhi with the theme “Cleaner Air, Greener Economy”. The one-day event focuses on challenges, solutions and necessary framework conditions of air pollution control, waste management and circular economy as well as implementation of NDCs and SDGs based on Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 of UN respectively. Around 250 representatives of ministries, business and science as well as non-governmental organizations participated in the forum, which is organized by the two environment ministries in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The Forum provided a platform for the bilateral exchange of high-level policy-makers and other key players on international environmental and climate policy and cooperation between the two countries.

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5. The Rajasthan Assembly has recently passed two Bills which seek to end the minimum education criterion for panchayat and civic poll candidates. The House passed by voice vote the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Rajasthan Municipality (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The previous Vasundhara Raje-led government had introduced education criterion in 2015 which required a candidate to pass Class X for contesting zila parishad, panchayat samiti and municipal elections. Defending the bill, Panchayati Raj Minister Sachin Pilot stated that the previous Act was against the basics of the Constitution. Society cannot be divided on the basis of education. He further stated that education criterion should first be introduced for contesting Assembly and parliamentary elections.

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6. The 5th International Dam Safety Conference – 2019 was held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha during 13 and 14 February 2019. It is the joint initiative of the Government of India, Government of Odisha and the World Bank (WB) under aegis of the ongoing World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) as a part of institutional strengthening. Dam Safety Conferences are being organized as an annual event in different DRIP States in collaboration with the Implementing Agencies and leading academic institutes to provide a common platform for all stakeholders including non-DRIP States. Presently, DRIP covers rehabilitation of 198 large dam projects located in seven States namely Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand. Globally, India ranks third after China and the USA in terms of the number of large dams with 5264 large dams in operation and 437 large dams under construction. The total storage capacity of the impounded water by these dams is about 283 billion cubic meters (BCM).

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7. On 14th of February, the Bihar government announced a universal old age pension scheme – Mukhyamantri Vridhajan Pension Yojna (MVPY) for all people above 60 years of age. The scheme will come into force from the 1st of April 2019. Except those senior citizens who have retired from government service, all will be eligible for Rs. 400 monthly pension irrespective of caste, religion or community. Currently old age pension scheme is applicable to only the BPL category. The Chief Minister also announced a pension of Rs. 6,000 for journalists above 60 years of age. Those who have been in regular service in the field of media and not getting any other pension will be eligible for Bihar Patrakar Samman Yojana (BPSY). This scheme will also be implemented from the 1st of April 2019.

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8. The poem ‘Khooni Vaisakhi’ was written by acclaimed Punjabi writer Nanak Singh on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which was banned by the British after its publication in 1920. The poem was a scathing critique of the British Raj. Singh was present at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919. He was 22 years old at the time. As the British troops opened fire on the unarmed gathering protesting against the Rowlatt Act, killing hundreds, Singh fainted and his unconscious body was piled up among the corpses. After going through the traumatic experience, he proceeded to write “Khooni Vaisakhi”, a long poem that narrates the political events in the run-up to the massacre and its immediate aftermath. Its manuscript was subsequently lost. After long years, the poem has been rediscovered and now translated into English by the author’s grandson and diplomat, Navdeep Suri. It will be published by HarperCollins India next month to mark the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Nanak Singh (1897-1971) is widely regarded as the father of the Punjabi novel. With little formal education beyond the fourth grade, he wrote an astounding 59 books and received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1962.

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9. Vishnu Wagh (53), the veteran writer and former deputy speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly, has passed away in Panaji on February 14, 2019. Wagh was a member of the Goa Legislative Assembly from St Andre constituency between 2012 and 2017. He was the chairman of the state-run Goa Kala Academy. He has written over 20 plays in Marathi, three sangeet nataks, 18 Konkani plays and 16 one-act plays. He has directed over 50 plays in Konkani and Marathi. Some of his critically-acclaimed plays include”Tuka Abhang Abhang”, “Suvari”, “Teen Poishancho Tiatro”, “Dharmashree”, and”Pedru Poddlo Baient”. He has also written six volumes of poetry. His book of Konkani poems titled ‘Sudhir Sukta’ has been embroiled in controversy since 2017 for its offensive language and content, and for portraying women in a bad light. The book questions Brahmins and has apparently stirred the volatile caste divide between Goa’s dominant Gaud Saraswat Brahmins and the majority Bahujan Goans.

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10. Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani has been posthumously awarded ‘Ashok Chakra’, India’s highest peace time gallantry award for his role in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir in 2018. The award was presented by President Ram Nath Kovind to his wife Mrs. Mahajabeen at the 2019 Republic Day parade. Wani is the first Kashmiri to be conferred the Ashoka Chakra. He was also awarded Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018 for his acts of valour. Wani was once a terrorist but had later turned in and joined the Army’s 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) in Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 2004. A resident of Cheki Ashmuji of Kulgam district in J&K, he lost his life in a counter-terror operation ‘Operation Batagund’ against six terrorists in Hirapur village near Batgund in Shopian on 25th November 2018. Ashoka Chakra is the highest peacetime military decoration for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield.

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