Kriyaa Hi Vastoopahutaa Praseedati

Current Affairs

OAS Prelims-2019 Current Affairs: February 2019

Contents

  1. Abu Dhabi adds Hindi as third official court language
  2. India Climbs 8 Spot in International IP Index 2019
  3. USA pulls out of INF treaty
  4. Macedonia signs accord to join NATO
  5. PM Modi flags-off first ever diesel-to-electric converted locomotive
  6. Thailand names Siamese fighting fish its national aquatic animal
  7. World Bank, UN Women and SIDBI launch women’s livelihood bond
  8. Mithali Raj becomes first woman to play 200s ODIs
  9. NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity concludes a 15 year Mission
  10. Hina Jaiswal becomes India’s first woman flight engineer inducted by IAF
Hina Jaiswal

Abu Dhabi adds Hindi as third official court language

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has added Hindi as the third official language to be used in the city’s courts, alongside Arabic and English.

The move is aimed at helping foreigners to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier, in addition to facilitating registration procedures through unified forms available through the judicial department’s website.

The extension of the adoption of interactive forms in several languages comes under the directives of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and ADJD Chairman.

According to official figures, the UAE population is estimated to be around nine million, of which 88.5 per cent are expatriate workers from foreign countries.

The Indian community in the UAE, numbering 2.6 million, constitutes 30 per cent of the total population and is the largest expatriate community in the country.

India Climbs 8 Spot in International IP Index 2019

Recognition of international standards of copyright protection and incentives for intellectual property have helped India jump eight places to 36th position on the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, the highest gain for any country this year.

The index, which analyses the IP climate in 50 global economies, is brought out by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). “The improvement reflects important reforms implemented by Indian policymakers towards building and sustaining an innovation ecosystem for domestic entrepreneurs and foreign investors alike,” it said in a statement. The index ranks countries based on 45 indicators.

India’s overall score has also increased substantially from 30.07% (12.03 out of 40) in the previous edition to 36.04% (16.22 out of 45) in the present edition.

USA pulls out of INF treaty

The United States pulls out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty to develop its own new warheads after the Russians refused to destroy their new missiles, which NATO says violate the pact.

What is the INF treaty?
Concern over intermediate-range missiles emerged in the mid-1970s after the erstwhile USSR deployed the nuclear-tipped RSD-10 Pioneer (NATO reporting name SS-20 Saber), whose 4,700-5,000 km range put Western Europe in the crosshairs. In 1979, NATO responded with its ‘dual track’ strategy, pushing for the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear armed US missiles on European territories while also emphasising the need for negotiations with Moscow.

After Mikhail Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, the Soviet Union put forth a plan to restrict the number of SS-20 warheads. Encouraged, the US too showed interest in limiting its own intermediate-range missiles across the world. Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan agreed to sign a comprehensive intermediate-range missile elimination agreement which culminated in the INF treaty of December 8, 1987.

Both the US and USSR tamped down on their possession, production, and flight-testing of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with 500-5,500-km ranges. However, air-delivered and sea-based missiles were not covered by the treaty. All such existing weapons had to be destroyed within three years of the signing of the treaty. The treaty laid out a comprehensive inspection protocol, whereby each of the parties could inspect and monitor each others’ elimination process. The treaty also clarified that each of the parties could withdraw from the treaty with a six-month notice. Nearly 2,700 missiles were destroyed following the signing of the treaty.

In 1991, the treaty was expanded to include Russia and the successor states of the former USSR.

Why did Russia and America withdraw from the INF treaty?
Russia had first raised concerns over the treaty in the mid-2000s, saying it did not apply to other countries with missile capabilities. In 2007, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Yuri Baluyevsky suggested that Russia was planning to withdraw from the treaty. However, in October, 2007 both countries issued a statement to the United Nations General Assembly reaffirming their commitment to the treaty.

Since 2013, however, both Russia and America have accused each other of violating terms of the treaty. In 2016, when America celebrated the launch of a missile defence system in Europe, Russia accused the former of violating the treaty. Russian authorities also suggested that American deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles was against the treaty.

Macedonia signs accord to join NATO

North Macedonia is currently in the process of acceding to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a member state. In 1995, the country joined the Partnership for Peace. It then began taking part in various NATO missions, including the International Security Assistance Force and the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. At the 2008 Bucharest summit, Greece vetoed the country’s invitation to join; however, NATO member states agreed that the country would receive an invitation upon resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute. Following an agreement in June 2018 to rename the country, the permanent representatives to NATO of the member states signed a protocol on the accession of North Macedonia to NATO on 6 February 2019.[6] All member states need to ratify before it enters into force. 28 of the 29 NATO member states have ratified it so far.

PM Modi flags-off first ever diesel-to-electric converted locomotive

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first-ever diesel-to-electric converted locomotive at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi.

The conversion of the diesel locomotive into an electronic one is being seen as a landmark achievement of the Indian Railways as part of its efforts to completely electrify the broad-gauge network in the country. The high-profile project of the railways was part of its Mission 100% electrification and de-carbonisation agenda.

Thailand names Siamese fighting fish its national aquatic animal

Thailand has official declared the Siamese fighting fish as its national aquatic animal to boost conservation efforts and commercial breeding in the country. Known in the West as a betta fish, the underwater brawler is popular in home aquariums for its iridescent body and many-hued tail.The fish can be found in standing waters of canals, rice paddies and floodplains. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

World Bank, UN Women and SIDBI launch women’s livelihood bond

World Bank, UN Women and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), along with some ten leading wealth managers and corporates, came together to launch a new social impact bond – women’s livelihood bonds – that will help rural women in some of India’s poorest states to set up or scale-up their own enterprises. This will be the first time that a social impact bond will connect investors with rural women entrepreneurs.

Till date, India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) – the country’s largest initiative to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor, supported by the World Bank – has brought 50 million rural women into collectives and Self-Help Groups (SHG).

Mithali Raj becomes first woman to play 200s ODIs

India captain Mithali Raj on Friday became the first female cricketer to play 200 ODIs, adding another achievement to her illustrious career. The 36-year-old is also the highest run-getter in ODIs with 6622 runs at an average of 51.33, including seven hundreds.

The 36-year-old is also the highest run-getter in ODIs with 6622 runs at an average of 51.33, including seven hundreds.

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity concludes a 15 year Mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Mars Mission, Opportunity has come to an end. This marked the conclusion of the 15-year saga. The decision to end the mission was made after all the efforts to restore contact with the Opportunity Mars rover didn’t yield desired results.

Why the NASA lost the contact with Opportunity?
A historic global dust storm reached the location of the Opportunity rover on Mars. The storm darkened the skies and cut off of the rover’s solar power. All the efforts of NASA to restore the rover did not yield positive results.

Things worsened with the onset of the winter at the location of the Opportunity rover. The reduced sunlight and colder temperatures during winter made it unlikely for the recovery of the Opportunity rover.

About the Mission
Opportunity was the second of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers to land on Mars in January 2004. Opportunity landed 90 days after its twin rover Spirit landed. Spirit landed at Gusev Crater and Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum.

NASA expected 90-day lifetimes for the rovers. Both Opportunity and Spirit far exceeded their expected lifetime. Spirit’s mission ended in May 2011 after travelling eight kilometres and Opportunity had logged 45 kilometres before losing contact in June 2018.

Hina Jaiswal becomes India’s first woman flight engineer inducted by IAF

Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal has created history by becoming the first Indian Woman Flight Engineer. She achieved the feat after completing the prestigious Flight Engineers’ course 112 Helicopter Unit, Air Force Station, Yelahanka.

Commissioned on January 15 in the engineering branch of the IAF, she has served as Chief of firing team and battery commander in a frontline Surface to Air Missile squadron, before being selected for the prestigious Flight Engineers’ Course.

She successfully completed the course and earned her Flight Engineer’s wing on Friday. During the course of six months of grueling training, she trained shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts, and displayed unflinching commitment, dedication and perseverance, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.

Jaiswal, hails from Chandigarh and has completed her Bachelor of Engineering degree from Panjab University. Hina describes her achievement as a “dream come true”. Since childhood, she had aspired to don the soldier’s uniform and take on the skies as an aviator. Finally, her dreams have manifested into reality after successfully graduating from the alma mater of Heli-lift.

Sources

  • Indian Express
  • The Economic Times
  • Times of India
  • New Indian Express
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