9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 24th, 2020

News: The 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) concluded in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.


Key takeaways:

  • Seven species added to Appendix I: Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross, and the Oceanic White-tip Shark.
  • 3 species added to Appendix II: Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark, and the Tope Shark 
  • Adoption of Gandhinagar Declaration: It calls for migratory species and the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October 2020
  • The first-ever report on the Status of Migratory Species: It shows that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining

    • Integrate biodiversity and migratory species considerations into national energy and climate policy;
    • Strengthen initiatives to combat the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds;
    • Mitigate the impacts of linear infrastructure such as roads and railways on migratory species;
    • Address the unsustainable use of aquatic wild meat;
    • Undertake a review of bycatch levels of sharks and rays, implement bycatch mitigation measures for marine mammals in national fishing operations;
    • Deepen understanding of the importance of animal culture and social complexity for the conservation of endangered species;

Additional Information:

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) or the Bonn Convention

  • It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). It acts as a framework convention and encourages its States Parties to conclude global or regional agreements.
  • It was signed in 1979 in Bonn, Germany, and entered into force in 1983
  • Aim: conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats
  • It is the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.

Appendices of CMS:

  • Appendix I – Threatened Migratory Species
  • Appendix II – Migratory Species requiring international cooperation

Parties to the Convention: 129 parties including India

CMS COP13 Theme: ‘Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home’.

Explained:What is Happiness curriculum 

News:The US President along with the US First Lady will be visiting a Delhi government school where they will attend a happiness curriculum class.


About Happiness Curriculum:

  • The Happiness curriculum was launched by the Delhi government in 2018.
  • The curriculum aims at increasing mental health awareness among school children from classes nursery to eighth in all government schools

Objectives of the curriculum:The objectives of this curriculum includes:

  • developing self-awareness and mindfulness
  • inculcating skills of critical thinking and inquiry
  • enabling learners to communicate effectively and 
  • helping learners to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them.


  • Under the curriculum,students will attend Happiness Classes where they will participate in exercises such as storytelling, meditation and question and answer sessions.

Research and Development(R&D) Fund

News:The Department of Science and Technology is planning a Research and Development(R&D) fund to stimulate investment in R&D.


About the fund:

  • The fund will be coordinated through the department’s Science and Engineering Research Board(SERB) which funds a variety of basic science projects in several universities.
  • It will receive contributions from a group of companies willing to invest in fundamental research and whatever is invested government will match the contributions.

About India’s investment in R&D:

  • According to a 2019 report by the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), India’s investment in R&D has shown a consistent increasing trend over the years.
  • However, it is still fraction of India’s GDP as it has remained constant at around 0.6% to 0.7% of India’s GDP. 
  • This is below the expenditure of countries like the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).
  • The report has also said that the public expenditure is the driving force of R&D in India which is in contrast to the advanced countries where the private sector is the dominant and driving force of R&D spend.

Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan

News:The Maharashtra Government has officially stopped the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan due to substandard work being carried out under the mission.


About Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan:

  • Launched in 2014 by the Maharashtra Government.
  • Aim:To make 5,000 villages drought free by the year 2019.
  • The scheme targets drought-prone areas by improving water conservation measures in order to make them more water sustainable. 
  • Under the scheme, decentralised water bodies are being installed at various locations within villages to enhance the groundwater recharge.
  • It also proposes to strengthen and rejuvenate water storage capacity and percolation of tanks and other sources of storage.

Pakke Tiger Reserve(PTR)

News:Recently, the Arunachal Pradesh Government has cleared the 692.7 km highway through the Pakke Tiger Reserve(PTR) to build the East-West Industrial Corridor.


About Pakke Tiger Reserve:

  • Pakke Tiger Reserve also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve is a Project Tiger reserve located in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The tiger reserve is surrounded by the Nameri National Park of Assam in the south and south-east, Pakke River to the east and Bhareli or Kameng River to the west.
  • Vegetation:It includes semi-evergreen, evergreen forest and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests.
  • This Reserve has won India Biodiversity Award 2016 in the category of ‘Conservation of threatened species’ for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.

Additional information:

About Project Tiger:

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India.
  • The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction and preserving areas of biological importance.
  • The project is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

About East West Industrial Corridor:

  • The East-West Industrial Corridor Highway is a 692 kms long road proposed to be built in the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It aims to connect Bhairabkunda in West Kameng district and Manmao in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.

US becomes India’s top trading partner

News:According to the 2018-19 data from the Commerce Ministry, the United States has become India’s top trading partner surpassing China.


  • In 2018-19,the bilateral trade between the US and India stands at USD 87.95 billion as compared to USD 87.07 billion with China.
  • India has a trade surplus of USD 16.85 billion with the USA while it has a deficit of USD 53.56 billion with China.
  • Currently,the top five trading partners of India are US, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Additional information:

Economic Survey on India’s External Trade:

  • Largest export items of India:Petroleum products, precious stones, drug formulations & biologicals, gold and other precious metals.
  • Largest export destinations in 2019-20: United States of America (USA), followed by United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and Hong Kong.
  • Largest import items: Crude petroleum, gold, petroleum products, coal, coke & briquettes.
  • India’s imports continue to be largest from China, followed by USA, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Print Friendly and PDF