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Daily Current Affairs : 22-Jan-2020

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Part of GS- 2 IR

Why in news?

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou on 21st January, 2020, jointly inaugurated the first convention centre established in Africa by India to honour the memory of Mahatma Gandhi.


• The Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre (MGICC) is a landmark for India- Niger friendship, as also a symbol of India's firm commitment towards Africa.

• It is the first centre to be established in Africa by India to honour the memory of Mahatma Gandhi whose 150th Birth Anniversary was observed last year.

• The convention centre has been designed as a spacious, modern and eco-friendly facility, including a 2,000 capacity Plenary Hall, to witness high-level and wide-ranging participation from African Union member states and other high-level conventions.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- 2IR

Why in news?

The historic impeachment trial of United States President Donald Trump opened last night as Democrats angrily accused Senate Republicans of seeking a cover-up without witnesses or new evidence.


• With the US leader facing potential removal from office for abuse of power, his close ally Mitch McConnell laid out ground rules that would block subpoenaing key witnesses or documents while each side makes its case - potentially crippling prosecutors' arguments. Flexing his solid 53-47 majority, the Republican Senate leader also made clear he would summarily block any Democratic attempts to change his rules.

• Adam Schiff, the Leader of the House Impeachment Managers prosecuting Trump, countered that the process makes no sense for a trial and was designed instead to ensure evidence is never heard and Trump is exculpated.

• President Trump was impeached on 18th of December by the House of Representatives and formally charged on the floor of the Senate last week with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

• It is only the third time a US president has endured an impeachment trial, after Bill Clinton in 1999 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. Trump is accused of withholding nearly 400 million US Dollars in military aid for Ukraine's war against Russian-backed separatists, and refusing Zelensky a White House meeting, unless he opened a probe of Biden.


(1) When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament.

(2) No such charge shall be preferred unless –

I. the proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after at least fourteen days’ notice in writing signed by not less than one- fourth of the total number of members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and

II. such resolution has been passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the

total membership of the House.

(3) When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation.

(4) If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two- thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or caused to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.


• As per the US Constitution, the President can be removed from office by the Congress.

• It can be done for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.”

• But exactly what all these mean is unclear. As per various observations, the following were suggested at different periods -

• an impeachable offence was whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a particular moment Congress could look beyond criminal laws in defining “high crimes and misdemeanours”

• Historically, it can encompass corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

Under the US Constitution:

The House of Representatives (Lower House) has the “the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.

• The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.

Impeachment process:

• The term impeachment is often interpreted as simply removing a president from office, but that is not strictly accurate.

• Technically, it refers to the 435-member House of Representatives approving formal charges against a president.

• The House effectively acts as accuser - voting on whether to bring specific charges.

• An impeachment resolution, known as “articles of impeachment,” is like an indictment in a criminal case.

A simple majority vote is needed in the House to impeach.

The Senate then conducts a trial. So, House members act as the prosecutors and senators as the jurors.

• The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial.

• A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president from office.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- 3 Economy

Why in news?

Markets regulator SEBI on 17th January, 2020, put in place a framework for the rights issue of units by listed REIT and InvITs, calling for disclosure of objects of the issue, financial details in the offer document by such investment instruments.


• In two separate circulars, the regulator specified the manner of issuance of units under the rights issue by listed real estate investment trust (REIT) and infrastructure investment trust (InvIT).

Sebi said the issuer will have to disclose objects of the issue, related-party transactions, valuation, financial details, review of credit rating and grievance redressal mechanism in the placement document.

• The issuer will have to disclose objects of the issue, related-party transactions, valuation, financial details, review of credit rating and the grievance redressal mechanism in the placement document.

• The investment manager on behalf of the REIT and InvIT, in consultation with lead merchant banker(s), will decide the issue price before determining the record date.

• The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had first notified REITs and InvIT Regulations in 2014, allowing setting up and listing of such trusts which are popular in some advanced markets.

• The minimum subscription to be received in the rights issue should be 90% of the issue size through the letter of offer.

About REITs/InvITs:

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) are innovative vehicles that allow developers to monetise revenue-generating real estate and infrastructure assets, while enabling investors or unit holders to invest in these assets without actually owning them.

• Such monetisation benefits developers by allowing them to release capital for funding new infrastructure/real estate projects, and provides liquidity to investors or unit holders as the units of the trust are listed on exchanges.

Apart from these, REITs and InvITs enjoy favourable tax treatment, including exemption from dividend distribution tax and relaxation of capital gains tax.

CRISIL has developed specific criteria for rating of REITs and InvITs that focus on assessment of quality of the underlying asset portfolio and cash flows, take into account the leverage, experience of the investment manager, risk management policies, etc.

• CRISIL assigned its first InvIT rating of “CCR AAA” to India Grid Trust, an InvIT established by Sterlite Power Grid Ventures.

Source: Economic Times



Part of GS- 3 Economy

Why in news?

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 20th January, 2020, said that India was among the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2019, attracting $49 billion in inflows, a 16% increase from the previous year, driving the FDI growth in South Asia.


• UNCTAD, in its Global Investment Trend Monitor report said that the global foreign direct investment remained flat in 2019 at $1.39 trillion, a 1% decline from a revised $1.41 trillion in 2018.

South Asia recorded a 10% increase in FDI to $60 billion.

• According to the report, flows of FDI to developing economies remained unchanged at an estimated $695 billion.

• It also showed that FDI rose 16% in Latin America and the Caribbean and 3% in Africa.

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• As per the multilateral agency, FDI flows to developed countries remained at a historically low level, decreasing by a further 6% per cent to an estimated $643 billion.

• FDI to the European Union fell 15% to $305 billion while flows to the United States-the largest recipient of FDI- remained stable at $251 billion.

• The growth was driven by India, with a 16% increase in inflows to an estimated $49 billion. The majority went into services industries, including information technology.

• Inflows into Bangladesh and Pakistan declined by 6% and 20%, respectively, to $3.4 billion and $1.9 billion.

• This is against the backdrop of weaker macroeconomic performance and policy uncertainty for investors, including trade tensions.

China, the second largest recipient, saw zero-growth in FDI inflows. Its FDI inflows in 2018 were $139 billion and $140 billion in 2019.

• The FDI in the UK was down 6% as Brexit unfolded.


• The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body.

The Headquarters of UNCTAD is - Geneva, Switzerland

• The report to the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council but has our own membership, leadership, and budget. We are also part of the United Nations Development Group.

UNCTAD is the part of the United Nations Secretariat dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.

Source: Economic Times



Part of GS-3 Defence and Security

Why in news?

Defence Acquisition Council, DAC has approved procurement of equipment worth over five thousand 100 crore rupees from indigenous sources to promote indigenization.


• They include sophisticated Electronic Warfare Systems for the Army designed by Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO and manufactured locally by the Indian industry. These systems will be used in deserts and plains and will provide comprehensive Electronic Support and Counter Measure capabilities to the field formations in both communication and other aspects of Electronic Warfare.

• The DAC headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday met to consider a number of new and ongoing proposals for procuring critically needed platforms and equipment for the Armed Forces.

• The council also approved prototype testing of trawl assemblies designed by DRDO for T-72 and T-90 tanks providing an important indigenous de-mining capability to the Army.

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• The DAC also accorded approval for inclusion of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) in Defence Procurement Procedure. This will provide avenues in capital procurement for the Armed Forces to startups and innovators working for iDEX and provide huge fillip to their budding efforts.

• In another significant step, the DAC also approved short listing of Indian Strategic Partners (SP) and the potential Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that will collaborate with SPs to construct six conventional submarines in India. This programme is being progressed under the Strategic Partnership Model, promulgated in 2017 to give a major boost to Make in India in Defence Sector.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- 2 Polity and Governance

Why in news? Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, will chair the 32nd interaction through PRAGATI- the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, on 22nd January 2020.


• In the previous thirty one interactions of PRAGATI, projects worth over twelve lakh crores have been reviewed by the Prime Minister.

• There were also discussions on various topics like grievances of Indian citizens working abroad, National Agriculture Market, Aspirational District Programme and infrastructure development programmes and initiatives.

• In the last PRAGATI meeting of the year 2019, 9 projects worth over Rs. 61,000 crore related to 16 states and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir were taken up for discussion.


• Prime Minister had launched the multi-purpose and multi-modal governance platform PRAGATI on 25th March 2015.

• PRAGATI is an integrating and interactive platform, aimed at addressing the common man’s grievances.

• PRAGATI also helps in simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India, as well as projects flagged by various State governments.

Source: PIB



Part of GS- 3 Defence and Security

Why in news?

India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.


The TMT or Thirty Metre Telescope, as it is called, is a joint venture (JV) involving five countries, but the $2 billion project has been marred by protests for over a decade.

• The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and also has too many observatories for one more such massive establishment to come up, say groups that have contested the site.

TMT or Thirty Metre Telescope

Also, it will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.

New Site:

Hanle, in Ladakh, was also in the running to host the TMT, but lost out to Mauna Kea, which is considered a superior site due to the imaging, possibilities it offers, its stable weather, and also because it has the necessary infrastructure to manage telescopes, already being host to several telescopes.

Source: The Hindu



Part of GS- 2 Polity and Governance

Why in news?

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, paving the way for three capitals for the state.


• The YSR Congress Party government says it is against building one mega capital while neglecting other parts of the state.

• “We do not want to develop one area utilising all our available financial resources while other areas suffer due to lack of funds,” Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The next best site to locate the telescope is the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain.

The TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the universe.

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Executive capital Visakhapatnam is 700 km from judicial capital Kurnool, and 400 km from legislative capital Amaravati. The Amaravati-Kurnool distance is 370 km. The time and costs of travel will be significant. Historically recommended:

• According to the government, decentralisation was the central theme in recommendations of all major committees that were set up to suggest a suitable location for the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

• Finance and Legislative Affairs Minister said it had been agreed in the November 16, 1937 Sri Bagh Pact (between leaders of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) that two university centres should be established in Waltair (Visakhapatnam) and Anantapur in Rayalaseema, and that the High Court and Metropolis should be in the coastal districts and Rayalaseema respectively.

• In December 2010, the Justice B N Srikrishna Committee, set up to look into the demand for a Telangana state, said Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra were economically the most backward, and the “concentration of development efforts in Hyderabad is the key reason for demand of separate states”.

• In August 2014, the K Sivaramakrishnan Committee appointed to identify locations for the new capital of AP said the state should see decentralised development, and that one mega capital city was not desirable.

Source: Indian Express

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