Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 15-05-2020


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 15-05-2020


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  1. COVID-19 Updates/Indian Economy - Migrant workers to get free foodgrains A major focus of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is to provide free foodgrains for the next two months to migrant workers who do not have ration cards. The Centre will spend Rs. 3,500 crore for this purpose. Quoting numbers from State governments, Ms. Sitharaman said there were an estimated eight crore migrant workers who had been housed in government- and privately run relief camps across the country since the lockdown but economists said this intervention was too little, too late, and that the free foodgrain provision should have been universalised to deal with widespread distress.
  2. COVID-19 Updates - Doubling time slows to 13.9 daysIndia recorded another 3,722 COVID-19 cases and 134 deaths on Thursday, pushing the total number of cases to 78,003 and deaths to 2,549, according to the Union Health Ministry. The country has registered an average of over 3500 new cases every day since May 7. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the last three days, the doubling time had slowed down to 13.9 days, while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11.1 days.
  3. COVID-19 Updates - Work from home may stay for govt. staffPost lockdown, the Union government will continue staggered and variable work hours for its employees with the Personnel Ministry floating a draft consultation paper on best work-from-home practices. The Department of Personnel and Training may provide the option of work from home to eligible officers and other employees for 15 days a year as a matter of policy, the paper said. The department asked the Ministries and departments to send in their suggestions by May 21.
  4. India-Sino Relations - India reminds China of claims over Gilgit-BaltistanThe recent incidents of face-off between the troops of India and China are neither correlated nor have any connection with other global or local activities, Army chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said. The statement was supplemented by official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava who reminded China about India’s claims over Gilgit-Baltistan where China has teamed up with Pakistan to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
  5. COVID-19 Updates - Virus may never go away, warns WHO The European Union’s medicines agency suggested that a vaccine for the COVID-19 could be ready in year, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the disease may never go away. World leaders past and present have insisted that any eventual vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone free of charge, with the global death toll from the disease nearing 300,000. The pandemic has caused massive social and economic upheaval across the planet and while some nations have begun easing punishing lockdowns, fears of a second wave have kept many businesses shuttered and people confined to their homes.
  6. Asia Politics - Israeli govt. formation delayedPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new government as the Israeli leader rushed to quell infighting within his Likud party. In a joint announcement, the two men said they would hold a swearing-in ceremony to give Mr. Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party. After three deadlocked and divisive elections, and a year and a half of political paralysis, Israel had hoped to swear in the new government.
  7. Indian Economy - CBDT notifies reduction in TDS/TCSFollowing Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of a reduction in the rate of tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collected at source (TCS) for non-salaried payments, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notified revised rates that will be applicable from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Clarifying on why the TDS rate had not been reduced for the salaried class, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said TDS was deducted from salary after considering various eligible deductions such as 80C of the salaried person. This, he said, had been done to ensure that the salaried individual did not have to bear the burden of paying higher taxes at year end.
  8. Environment and Ecology - Recently Government of Uttar Pradesh has released Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) in the Ghaghara river for the conservation and protection in natural habitat. Natural Habitat: Fresh waters of the northern part of India. Gharials, sometimes called gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot (ghara in Hindi). Population of Gharials are a good indicator of clean river water.
  9. Environment and Ecology – According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) report, the rate of forest loss has declined in the period of 1990-2020. The FRA is released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FRA 2020 is based on the assessment of more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period of 1990–2020. Total forest area: The world’s total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares (bha), which is 31% of the total land area. This area is equivalent to 0.52 hectares per person. Top countries in forest cover — the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China constituted more than 54% of the world’s forests.
  10. Society and Health – Recently, scientists from IIT (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Kolkata) have developed the Z-scan method to monitor the origin as well as the progression of Parkinson's disease in human beings. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. It damages nerve cells in the brain dropping the levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that sends behavioural signals from the brain to the body.
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    • 1. CONSTITUTION AND LAW (Prelims, GS Paper 2, Essay paper)
1.1 ‘One Nation, one ration’ scheme 

  • ‘One nation, one ration' scheme will be implemented in the country through technology driven systems.
  • National portability for ration cards will be brought in so that migrants can access PDS from any fair price shop in India.
  • 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states covering 83% of PDS population will be covered by national portability by August 2020.
  • By March 2021, 100% national portability will be achieved.
  • On April 20, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to consider the viability of implementing 'one nation, one ration' scheme while disposing of a PIL.
  • Free food grain supply to migrants for 2 months.
  • Those who not under National Food Security Act or are State Card beneficiaries will be provided 5 Kg of grains per person and 1 Kg chana per family per month for 2 months. This means even those without ration cards will be getting PDS benefits. On April 30, the SC had directed the Centre to consider a representation which sought for making ration accessible even for those without ration cards.
  • Costs for this are to be fully borne by Centre. Rs 3500 crores will be spent on this intervention for the next 2 months. About 8 crore migrant workers are the estimated beneficiaries.
  • The responsibility of implementing the scheme will be on the State Governments.
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          • 2. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
        2.1 Economic packages in the wake of COVID-19 – Part 2 of Rs.20 trillion stimulus
        • Migrant workers, who had to leave their workplaces after imposition of the lockdown on March 25, will get 5 kg grains and 1 kg pulses free for two months.
        • Government will make ration cards portable under the initiative 'One Nation, One Ration Card' to allow migrant workers to access their ration across the country.
        • 50 lakh street vendors who were rendered jobless as the government ordered stay-at-home would be given a working capital loan of Rs 10,000 each to restart businesses.
        • Scheme to provide homes to migrant labour/urban poor at affordable rent announced. Government-funded housing in the cities will be converted into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) under the PPP mode through concessionaires.
        • Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) under PMAY for middle-income (annual income of Rs 6-18 lakh) families extended till March 2021  
        • NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) to provide Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital funding to rural cooperative banks and regional rural banks 
        • BRICS' Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) provides $1 bn loan to India to fight Covid-19.

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            • 3. ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)

          3.1 Not Available Today

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            • 4. FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Prelims, GS Paper 2, Essay paper)

          4.1 Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal participates in second G-20 Virtual Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting through video-conferencing

          • The meeting was called to discuss ways to minimise disruption to trade and global supply chains which have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
          • On March 30, G20 trade ministers convened for the first video conference dedicated to COVID-19. 
          • They pledged efforts to maintain supply chains unimpeded during the pandemic.
          • Trade ministers from the G20 major economies had agreed to take immediate measures for facilitating trade in essential goods, besides incentivising additional production of equipment and drugs to battle the coronavirus crisis.
          4.2 Dr Harsh Vardhan participates in 32nd Commonwealth Health Ministers’ meeting through video conference

          • He highlighted the timely, graded and pro-active measures taken by India towards COVID-19 management.
          •  India has been the first country to urge consolidated global action to fight the challenge of COVID-19.
          • India took all necessary and timely steps including surveillance at points of entry, evacuation of our nationals abroad, surveillance in community through disease surveillance network and community involvement as part of its management efforts.
          • Government has announced an economic package of more than 265 billion US Dollars to support economic recovery as well to support vulnerable segments of population.
          • India has provided essential medicines such as Hydroxychloroquine to almost 100 needy countries, extending solidarity and support during this time of crisis.
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                    • 5. GOVERNMENT SCHEMES (Prelims, GS Paper 2, GS Paper 3)
                  5.1 Not Available Today
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                          • 6. MISCELLANEOUS (Prelims, Various GS Papers)
                        6.1 Weekly Roundup – Corporate
                        • Reliance sells 2.32% in Jio Platforms for Rs 11,367 cr - Reliance Industries on May 8, 2020 announced the sale of 2.32 per cent stake in its digital unit to US-based Vista Equity Partners for Rs 11,367 crore. The deal follows Facebook picking up a 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms on April 22 for Rs 43,574 crore. Within days of that deal, Silver Lake - the world's largest tech investor - bought a 1.15 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 5,665.75 crore.
                        • IGIB, Tata Sons sign pact for licensing of KNOW-HOW for COVID-19 diagnosis - The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), constituent lab Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Tata Sons have signed an agreement for licensing of KNOW-HOW for rapid and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. IGIB has developed a testing kit for COVID-19 named FELUDA (FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay).
                        • Tata Power SED gets contract for modernisation of infrastructure at 37 airfields - The Defence Ministry signed a contract with Tata Power SED on May 8, 2020 for modernisation of infrastructure at 37 airfields of the Indian Air Force, Coast Guard and the Navy at a cost of around Rs 1,200 crore.
                        • Paytm launches Rs 100 cr loyalty scheme for kirana stores to cover merchant charges - Digital payment firm Paytm on May 5, 2020 announced a Rs 100 crore loyalty programme for grocery stores to cover losses faced by merchants from transaction charges. Businesses are now required to pay 1 per cent MDR (merchant discount rate) for transferring payment received on Paytm wallet to their bank account. Paytm said it has set aside Rs 100 crores, which would be invested in giving access to financial services and various marketing tools to encourage kirana stores to accelerate the growth of digital payments through Paytm all-in-one QR during coronavirus pandemic.
                        • Ford India launches contactless sales and service - Ford India on May 5, 2020 announced the launch of contactless sales and service of vehicles as its dealerships resume operations amid an increased focus on maintaining social distancing norms in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The new procedure called Dial-A-Ford will allow a prospective customer to book, test drive or even get the delivery of new vehicle at his or her doorstep.
                        • Tata Steel leaves Indian Steel Association; T V Narendran steps down as President - Tata Steel Ltd has withdrawn its membership from the Indian Steel Association (ISA), an apex steel industry body. Subsequent to it, the company's CEO and Managing Director (MD) T V Narendran has also stepped down from the Presidentship of the Association, tenure of which was scheduled to end in August. Steelmakers such as JSW Steel Ltd, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) and ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel Ltd are members of the ISA. Narendran is also a member of the Executive Committee of the global body World Steel Association (worldsteel).
                        • Kulmeet Makkar, CEO, Producers Guild of India (PGI), dies aged 60.
                        • Biocon Ltd Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw among top 20 of The Medicine Maker Power List 2020.
                        • Axis Bank to increase its stake in Max Life Insurance to 30%, remaining 70% to be held by Max Financial Services in the joint venture.
                        • Tata Technologies to set up two Centres for Invention, Innovation, Incubation and Training (CIIITs) at Baramulla and Jammu.
                        • Defence Ministry signs contract with Tata Power SED for infra modernisation at 37 airfields.
                        • Two exchanges at International Financial Services Centre in Gift City, India INX and NSE IFSC, launch trading in rupee-USD derivative contracts. Gift City is Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.
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                            • 7. POLITY (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
                          7.1 Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, 8 others declared elected unopposed to the state Legislative Council

                          •  The biennial elections for the nine seats of the Council, which fell vacant on April 24, were scheduled to be held next week.
                          • The election process was initiated on May 4 to fill in vacancies for nine seats, which fell vacant after the completion of the term of nine members.
                          • The election process was initially postponed in view of the coronavirus pandemic but state Governor B S Koshyari had recently written to the Election Commission of India (ECI), requesting it to hold the polls to enable Thackeray to complete the constitutional provision of getting elected to the legislature within six months of becoming chief minister.
                          • As many as 14 candidates had filed their nomination papers for the nine seats. 
                          • Of them, the nomination of one candidate was rejected during the scrutiny of papers, while BJP’s Ajit Gopchade and Sandeep Lele, NCP’s Kiran Pawaskar and Shivajirao Garje withdrew from the race on may 12.
                          • The nine candidates left in the fraywere Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and Neelam Gorhe, NCP’s Shashikant Shinde, Amol Mitkari, Congress’s Rajesh Rathod, and four candidates of the opposition BJP- Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil, Gopichand Padalkar, Ajit Datke and Ramesh Karad.
                          • The state cabinet had initially recommended that Thackeray be nominated by the governor to the Council from his quota. Despite sending two recommendations, the governor did not nominate Thackeray to the Upper House of the legislature and was criticised by the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents.
                          • Thackeray had even spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his intervention in the matter.
                          • The 288-member legislative assembly was the electoral college for the biennial elections to the nine seats.
                          • Thackeray was sworn in as chief minister on November 28, 2019. As per the rule, the CM has to get elected as legislator within six months.

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                                  • 8. SOCIAL ISSUES (Prelims, GS Paper 1, GS Paper 2)

                                8.1 Dr Harsh Vardhan dedicates COBAS-6800 testing machine for COVID-19 cases to the nation at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in New Delhi

                                • COBAS-6800 is the first automated coronavirus testing device and also the first such testing machine that has been procured by the Government for testing of Covid-19 cases.
                                • It is a fully automated, high end machine for performing Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing for Covid-19. 
                                • It can test around 1200 samples in 24 hours so it will largely increase the testing capacity in the country.
                                • It is a sophisticated machine enabled with robotics that minimizes the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers.
                                • The machine requires a minimum Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2+) containment level for testing.
                                • BSL2+ covers laboratories that work with agents associated with human diseases (i.e. pathogenic or infectious organisms) that pose a moderate health hazard.
                                • The device can also detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B & C, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Papilloma, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, Chlamydia (a bacterial infection), Neisseria (bacteria) etc.
                                • National Centre for Disease Control – The institute headquartered at Delhi was formerly the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), had its origin as the Central Malaria Bureau, established at Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh) in 1909. NICD was transformed into the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in 2009. It functions as the nodal agency in the country for disease surveillance, facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases, training specialized manpower for public health, laboratory sciences and entomological services and is involved in various applied research activities. The Institute is under administrative control of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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                                      • 9. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3)
                                    9.1 Defence Ministry patents low cost PPE (personal protective equipment) developed by Navy to move towards its mass production

                                    • A Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed and produced by the Indian Navy has been tested and certified for mass production and use in clinical COVID situations.
                                    • A team formed by the Innovation Cell, Institute of Naval Medicine, Mumbai and the Naval Dockyard Mumbai collaborated to design and produce PPE.
                                    • The PPE is required to meet stringent criteria on testing and the benchmarks of the same are set by the Indian Coulcil of Medical Research (ICMR) and the MoHFW.
                                    • The approval was accorded by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), an organisation of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tasked with the testing and certification of PPE.
                                    • Shortage of PPE for healthcare workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a major issue.
                                    • The outstanding features of the PPE are its simple, innovative and cost-effective design enabling its manufacture by basic gown manufacturing facilities.
                                    • The PPE has an innovative choice of fabric, which gives it 'breathability' and penetration resistance rendering it both comfortable and safe for the user.
                                    • The cost for this PPE is significantly lower than those commercially available.
                                    • DRDO has made a bio suit for medical professionals to help them fight COVID-19. The bio suit has a unique feature of being prepared by a special sealant as an alternative to seam sealing based on the sealant used in sub-marine applications (and which is rarely available). 

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                                                • 10. FACTS, CHARTS, RANKINGS and EDITORIALS (Prelims + GS Mains)
                                              10.1 World Economic Situation and Prospects report of UN
                                                  10.2 Daily dose of  FIVE Facts -
                                                  • Fitch Solutions recently cut India’s economic growth forecast for the financial year 2020-21 to 1.8%.
                                                  • 57 countries are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
                                                  • “AyuDevice”, a start-up incubated at IIT-Bombay has developed a “digital stethoscope”.
                                                  • Civil Aviation Ministry launched Lifeline Udan initiative for transporting essential medical supplies across the country amid coronavirus lockdown.
                                                  • Manipur has launched ‘Chief Minister’s Akhannaba Sanaroising gi Tengbang (CMAST)’ scheme for welfare of artistes.
                                                  10.3 Today's best editorials to read
                                                  • We offer you 7 excellent editorials from across 10 newspapers we have scanned. 
                                                  CLICK HERE TO OPEN AND READ!

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                                                    • SECTION 3 - MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions)

                                                  Solve the online quiz given, right now. Check scores, and relative performance!



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                                                  PT's IAS Academy: Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 15-05-2020
                                                  Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 15-05-2020
                                                  Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 15-05-2020
                                                  PT's IAS Academy
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