9 PM Current Affairs Brief – April 29th, 2020

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Aden – Yemen’s Port City

News:The Southern Transitional Council(STC),a separatist group in Yemen has declared self rule in the Port city of Aden and other southern provinces.


  • Aden is situated along the north coast of the Gulf of Aden and lies on a peninsula enclosing the eastern side of Al-Tawāhī Harbour.
  • In 2015, it was declared as the temporary capital of Yemen.

Additional Facts:

  • Gulf of Aden:It is located in the Middle East with Yemen to the north, Somalia to the south and the Arabian Sea to the east.It is connected to the Red Sea by the Bab el Mandeb strait.
  • Bab el-Mandeb Strait:It is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East.It is located between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
  • Socotra Island:It is part of North Indian Ocean located between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea.It is officially part of Yemen.In 2008, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Petersberg Climate Dialogue

News:The 11th session of ‘Petersberg Climate Dialogue’ was held for the first time through video conferencing.


  • Petersberg Climate Dialogue has been organized by the Government of Germany since 2010.
  • Aim:To provide a forum for informal high-level political discussions, focusing both on international climate negotiations and the advancement of climate action.
  • The 11th Dialogue was co-chaired by Germany and the United Kingdom, the incoming Presidency of 26th Conference of Parties(COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC).
  • Union Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar represented India in the virtual Dialogue.

Amur Falcon

News:The radio tagged Amur falcons have started to arrive in India for further destination to their breeding grounds in northern China.


  • Amur falcons(Falco amurensis) are the world’s longest travelling migratory raptors.
  • They migrate annually during winter from their breeding grounds in Mongolia, South-east Russia and northern China to warmer South Africa through India and across the Arabian Sea.
  • Doyang Lake in Nagaland is known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration.
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern
  • It is also protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Convention on Migratory Species(CMS) to which India is a signatory.
  • Nagaland Government organises Amur Falcon festival to spread awareness about the need to provide safe passage to Amur falcons.

International Financial Services Centres Authority

News:Government of India has notified the establishment of International Financial Services Centres Authority(IFSCA).


  • IFSCA was established to regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.
  • Composition:It consists of nine members: a) Chairperson b)members each from the RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, PFRDA c) two members from the Ministry of Finance and d) two other members appointed on the recommendation of a Search Committee.
  • Tenure: The members will have a term of three years subject to reappointment.
  • Functions: It will regulate financial products such as securities, deposits or contracts of insurance, financial services and financial institutions which have been approved by an appropriate regulator in an IFSC.
  • Powers: All powers exercisable by the respective financial sector regulatory (RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, and PFRDA) under the respective Acts can be exercised by the Authority in the IFSCs.

Additional Facts:

International Financial Services Centres(IFSC):

  • An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy.Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders.
  • GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) located in Gandhinagar is India’s first International Financial Services Centre.

Explained: How the ozone layer hole over Arctic closed

News:European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service(CAMS) has announced that a hole in the Arctic ozone layer believed to be the biggest reported over the Arctic has closed.


  • Ozone Hole:It refers to a region in the stratosphere where the concentration of ozone becomes extremely low in certain months.
  • Reason for Ozone Hole:Cold temperatures (below -80°C), sunlight, wind fields and substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were responsible for the degradation of the Arctic ozone layer.
  • Closing of Ozone Hole:Scientists believe that the closing of the hole is because of the polar vortex and not because of the lower pollution levels during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Additional Facts:


  • Ozone layer also called ozonosphere is a layer in the stratosphere lying between roughly 15 and 35 km above Earth’s surface containing relatively high concentrations of ozone molecules(O3).
  • By absorbing the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun, the ozone molecules protect earth from harmful UV rays which can cause skin cancer and other diseases and deformities in plants and animals.

Polar Vortex:

  • It is a large area of low pressure and cold air that surrounds the North pole.This air flows in a counterclockwise direction around the Arctic and helps keep the cold air in the North.
  • The Polar vortex always exists near the poles but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter.
  • Hence,during winter, the polar vortex at the North Pole expands, sending cold air southward with jet stream.This happens fairly regularly and is often associated with outbreaks of cold temperatures in the United States.

Chakma and Hajong Communities

News:The Rights and Risks Analysis Group has sought Indian Prime Minister’s intervention in ensuring food for the Chakma and Hajong communities in Arunachal Pradesh.


  • Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while Hajongs are Hindus.They were originally the residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of East Pakistan(Bangladesh).
  • However, they had to flee to India when their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s and due toreligious persecution.
  • They entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram).The Centre moved the majority of them to the North East Frontier Agency(NEFA) which is now Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajongs who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69.

USCIRF downgrades India in 2020 list

News:The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in International Religious Freedom Report, 2020.


  • CPC status is a status under International Religious Freedom Act enacted by USA in 1998. It is given to countries which engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
  • The other countries in the CPC category in 2020 report are China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Vietnam, Eritrea, Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan
  • In 2019, India was placed in Tier 2 country category.
  • Tier 2 countries are those in which violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during the concerned time period are serious and meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as CPC

Additional Facts:

USCIR: It is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission which seeks to defend the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

News: World Day for Safety and Health at Work is observed every year on 28th April


  • Background:It was first observed in 2003. It is an integral part of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health.
  • Observed by:International Labour Organization
  • 2020 Theme:Stop the Pandemic

First-ever digital geological map of moon released by US Geological Survey

News: The United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Lunar Planetary Institute released the ‘Unified Geologic Map of the Moon


  • It is the first ever digital, unified, global, geological map of the moon
  • Scale:1:5,000,000
  • Significance:
    • blueprint for future human missions
    • source of research and analysis for the educators and the general public interested in lunar geology.

Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj issues guidelines regarding the SVAMITVA scheme

News:Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj released guidelines of SVAMITVA scheme


  • Nodal Ministry:Ministry of Panchayati Raj
  • Aim:To provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.
  • The scheme uses latest Drone Surveying technology, for demarcating the inhabitant (Aabadi) land in rural areas.
  • Implemented in:Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • Significance:
    • Streamline planning and revenue collection in rural areas
    • Ensure clarity on property rights.
    • Resolve property related disputes.
    • Enable creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs)

IMD releases new list of cyclone names

News:The India Meteorological Department (IMD) released a new list of names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean.


  • The World Meteorological Organization maintains rotating lists of names which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin.
  • The naming of the tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean basin started in 2004.
  • The Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) of Tropical Cyclones in  New Delhi is responsible for naming the cyclones in the northern Indian ocean region.
  • The eight countries along the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea suggest names that are sequentially listed. The nations suggest names alphabetically – Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Significance of naming cyclones:

  • It helps in the quick identification of storms in warning messages
  • Names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
  • Giving names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones,
  • heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness

India signs $1.5 billion loan with ADB to support India’s COVID-19 immediate response

News:The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $1.5 billion loan for COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme (CARES Programme)


The loan will be used for:

  • COVID-19 containment plan to rapidly ramp up test-track-treatment capacity,
  • social protection for the poor, vulnerable, women, and disadvantaged groups to protect more than 800 million people over the next three months.

Additional Facts:

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • It is a regional development bank established in 1966. It is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • Aim: To promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • Members: 68 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
  • Japan and the US hold the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by China, India and Australia.
  • It is an official United Nations Observer.

Niti Aayog questions Australian institute’s terror ranking of India

News: Niti Aayog has questioned the methodology used in Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019. In 2019, India was ranked the seventh worst terrorism affected country.


  • Global Terrorism Index (GTI) provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism since 2000.
  • Published by: Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)- an Australia-based think-tank.
  • Source of Data: Global Terrorism Database (GTD). GTD is collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland.
  • GTI scores are used in:
    • Global Peace Index, the Global Slavery Report published by the Walk Free Foundation, a Travel and Tourism Competitiveness and Global Competitiveness Indices published by World Economic Forum
    • Safe Cities Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
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