Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 19-05-2020


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 19-05-2020


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  1. COVID-19 Updates – India’s virus tally crosses 1 lakh; fatality count mounts to 3,157 – India’s tally of COVID-19 cases crossed the one lakh-mark, with 5,079 new infections taking the total to 1,00,734, according to data from the State Health Departments. Of these 58,360 are active cases, while 39,217 persons have recovered from the disease. The country recorded 136 more deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 3,157. The average number of new cases everyday since May 11 has gone up to 4,077, while the average number of fatalities per day for the period is 115.
  2. COVID-19 Updates – Maharashtra topped the nationwide tally with more than 35,000 confirmed cases and 1,249 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu with 11,760 confirmed cases and 81 deaths. Gujarat has reported 11,746 confirmed cases, but its death toll is higher than Tamil Nadu at 694. Mumbai reported 1,185 fresh cases and 23 more deaths, taking the total cases in the city to 21,152 and fatalities to 757. According to the Union Health Ministry, the country has now registered a jump of over 10,000 cases in the past two days — the highest so far in 48 hours.
  3. COVID-19 Updates – Oxford vaccine fails to shield monkeys from virus – A high-profile potential vaccine for COVID-19 being tested by researchers at Oxford University failed to protect vaccinated monkeys from being infected by the virus but the test animals appeared to be protected from pneumonia. The vaccine candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being tested is a weakened form of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that affects chimpanzees but has been neutered to prevent replication in humans.
  4. Natural Disasters - Odisha, West Bengal brace for Amphan – The storm system in the Bay of Bengal, Amphan, developed into a super cyclone and is expected to make landfall along the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast, according to the India Meteorological Department. Currently, Amphan is located about 730 km south of Paradip in Odisha, 890 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal and 1,010 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh. Windspeeds are expected to hit 240 kmph and extensive damage along the coast is expected in Odisha and West Bengal. Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and the super cyclone of 1999 — both of which hit coastal Odisha — have been the most powerful cyclones in the Bay of Bengal in the past two decades in terms of windspeed.
  5. Indian Politics/COVID-19 Updates – Congress slams economic package – Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that the Centre’s “economic stimulus was hopelessly inadequate that added insult to injury”, and claimed that the actual economic package amounted to Rs. 1.86 lakh crore, or 0.91% of the Gross Domestic Product. Separately, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ridiculed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as a symbol of the UPA’s failure but the same scheme had been given aid by his government to help the rural poor.
  6. COVID-19 Updates - USAID to fund 200 ventilators for India – India will take delivery of 200 ventilators donated by the U.S. within the next month. The ventilators, which will be paid for by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will arrive in May and June and the final delivery schedule notified next week. While the government has not commented on the value of the donation, it is likely to be funded by an additional grant of $3 million that the USAID made last month. The ventilators, which were built for use in the U.S., are being “repurposed” for donations to several countries, including India.
  7. India Education - CBSE exam timetable released – The Class 12 examinations of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) postponed nationwide because of COVID-19 and Class 10 exams in northeast Delhi affected by riots will be held from July 1 to 15. Issuing safety instructions for the candidates, the CBSE said they should carry hand sanitiser in a transparent bottle, cover the mouth and nose with a mask or cloth and follow physical distancing norms. Parents should guide their children about the precautions to be taken and also ensure they are not sick.
  8. COVID-19 Updates – Xi defends China’s ‘open’ virus response  – Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Beijing has been “transparent” throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and offered to share a vaccine as soon as one was available — as well as $2 billion in aid. Governments including the U.S. and Australia have called in recent weeks for an investigation into the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has become a flashpoint in deteriorating tensions between Washington and Beijing. Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have accused China of a lack of transparency over the issue, and repeatedly pushed the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.
  9. COVID-19 Updates – Europe reopens widely, seeks to salvage summer vacations – Europe reopened more widely, allowing people into the Acropolis in Athens, shops in Italy, markets and museums in Belgium, golf courses in Ireland and beer gardens in Bavaria while its leaders discussed how to salvage Europe’s hallowed summer vacations. Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and other ancient sites, along with high schools, shopping malls and mainland travel. Paving stickers were used as markers to keep visitors apart outside the Acropolis. Tourists were local, for the country still has a 14-day quarantine for arrivals, and travel to the Greek islands remains broadly restricted.
  10. China-Hong Kong – After scuffles, Hong Kong MPs push ahead with China anthem Bill – Hong Kong’s legislature plunged into chaotic scuffles for a second time this month, as pro-Beijing lawmakers took control of a key committee, paving the way for a debate on a Bill that would criminalise abuse of China’s national anthem. Pro-democracy legislators charged at security guards surrounding pro-establishment lawmaker Chan Kin-Por, who had taken the chairman’s seat in the meeting against procedural objections by the Opposition. Guards hauled several legislators out of the chamber, some kicking and shouting. Some tried leaping over the guards from bench tops to take back the chairman’s seat only to be forced back.
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    • 1. CONSTITUTION AND LAW (Prelims, GS Paper 2, Essay paper)
1.1 Gender discrimination in legal fraternity of India – the ‘LawSikho’ incident

  • A legal education organization by the name of LawSikho conducted a webinar titled, "How can busy professionals have a dating life". The flyer for the webinar carried a "for men only" condition. CEO of the organization, Ramanuj Mukherjee, stated that a "for women only" webinar was also in the offing.
  • When the initial questions were raised about a legal website conducting such a webinar, the CEO of the organization justified the same by referring to the deplorable Bois Locker Room episode and stating that such incidents could be avoided if men were taught the "art of seduction".
  • The entire fiasco went downhill from this point onward. During the course of the webinar, certain degrading statements were uttered by Sehrawat, with little to no intervention from Mukherjee, who moderated the event. Sehrawat encouraged the participants to "close the deal" with a woman within 4 days, otherwise the "bread" would turn stale and it would be a lost opportunity. 
  • On being asked a question about what one should do if they are academically challenged, Sehrawat dismissed the insecurities of the law student and stated that women are attracted to sportspersons ("jocks") who always score on the lower side of the scale. At this point, a young law student by the name of Avanti objected to the content of the webinar as it was based on appalling and sexist stereotypes being taught to vulnerable young men. It is here where matters took a turn for the worse. 
  • This exchange between the law student and the event moderator was soon shared on Twitter and elicited an explosive response from persons of all genders.
  • The LawSikho incident is a microcosm of the internalized misogyny and sexism which is prevalent in the legal fraternity. It is a truth universally acknowledged, but seldom conveyed, that a woman faces abject discrimination in every space that she enters, be it personal or professional.
  • With the slow evolution of gender justice and its penetration into workplaces, there have been some positive changes, though few and far between, in the law governing discrimination against women; for instance, we now have The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH). 
  • There also exists the ironical issue of lack of adherence of POSH policies across law chambers. 
  • POSH Act, 2013 was promulgated as a result of the case of Vishaka & Ors. V. State of Rajasthan & Ors (1997).
  • The statement of object and reasons conveys that the Act is an attempt to protect the "fundamental rights of a woman to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment".
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          • 2. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
        2.1 Sensex of Bombay Stock Exchange fell 1,069 points, or 3.44 per cent to 30,029. Nifty at National Stock Exchange settled 314 points, 3.43 per cent down, at 8,823

        • IndusInd Bank was the top laggard in the Sensex pack, cracking around 10 per cent, followed by HDFC, Maruti Suzuki, Axis Bank and UltraTech Cement. On the other hand, TCS, Infosys, ITC and HCL Tech closed with gains. 
        • Aviation stocks InterGlobe Aviation and SpiceJet tumbled as much as 9.5 per cent on the BSE after the government's Rs 20 trillion economic package failed to deliver immediate liquidity support to the bleeding airlines.
        • Shares of companies that provide financial services, including banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs), tumbled up to 12 per cent on the BSE amid concerns that asset quality metrics may come under pressure due to the extended nation-wide lockdown and challenging economic environment.
        • Traders and investors remained on edge as the Home Ministry extended the lockdown for another two weeks till May 31 to contain the spread of coronavirus.
        • The relief package announcements appeared falling short of meeting market expectations on any demand side reforms, triggering an intense selloff in the domestic market.
        • The government, in its first four tranches of the stimulus package, focussed on credit line to small businesses and new fund creations to be shouldered by banks and financial institutions with very little extra budget spending.
        • In the last set of measures, the centre announced plans to privatise PSUs in non-strategic sectors and suspend loan default-triggered bankruptcy filings for one year, and also gave a Rs 40,000-crore hike in allocation for the rural employment guarantee scheme to provide jobs to migrant workers.
        • The domestic market started off the week on a negative note despite positive cues from global market peers as global economies across the world continue to lift lockdown restrictions, allowing more businesses to cautiously open. 
        • Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended on a positive note, while those in Europe were trading significantly higher in early deals. 
        • International oil benchmark Brent crude futures surged 4.55 per cent to USD 33.98 per barrel.

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

            3.1 The rate of forest loss has declined in the period of 1990-2020 - Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020) Report

            • The FRA is released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and is based on the assessment of more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period of 1990–2020.
            • 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 USA and China constituted more than 54% of the world’s forests.
            • The world has lost 178 million hectares (mha) of forest since 1990, an area the size of Libya. The rate of net forest loss decreased substantially during the period of 1990–2020.
            • It was 7.8 mha per year in the decade 1990–2000, 5.2 mha per year in 2000–2010 and 4.7 mha per year in 2010–2020. This is due to a reduction in deforestation in some countries, plus increases in forest area in others through afforestation and the natural expansion of forests.
            • Africa had the largest annual rate of net forest loss in 2010–2020, at 3.9 mha, followed by South America, at 2.6 mha.
            • Asia had the highest net gain of forest area in 2010–2020, followed by Oceania and Europe but Oceania experienced net losses of forest area in the decades 1990–2000 and 2000–2010.
            • The largest proportion of the world’s forests are tropical (45%), followed by boreal, temperate and subtropical.
            • Naturally regenerating forest areas worldwide decreased since 1990, but the area of planted forests has increased.
            • Plantation forest cover is 131 mha, about 3% of the global forest area.
            • The highest percent of plantation forests are in South America while the lowest are in Europe.
            • Protected forest areas worldwide estimate around 726 mha.
            • South America has the highest share of forests in protected areas, at 31%.
            • The protected forest areas increased by 191 mha since 1990.
            • The Food and Agriculture Organization is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It is also a source of knowledge and information and helps developing countries and countries in transition to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition and food security for all. It was formed on October 16, 1945 and its headquarters is at Rome, Italy.

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

            4.1 Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement

            • According to the deal, Mr. Ghani will remain as president while both Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah will choose an equal number of ministers in the cabinet. The deal calls for Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council.
            • The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process including the peace talks with the Taliban.
            • The Election Commission declared Mr. Ghani to be the winner of the presidential election, but Mr. Abdullah and the Elections Complaint Commission charged widespread voting irregularities in the election. Following which, both declared themselves the winner of the presidential election and have been locked in a power struggle since then.
            • U.S.- Taliban peace deal - Earlier, a peace deal between the U.S. Government and the Taliban was signed on in Feb 2020. The deal calls for U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops to leave Afghanistan. The U.S.-Taliban peace deal is seen as Afghanistan’s best chance to come at peace in decades of war. Since then, the U.S. has been trying to get the Taliban and the Afghan government to begin intra-Afghan negotiations, but the political turmoil and personal hostility between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah has impeded talks.
            • This prompted the U.S. Government to announce that it would cut $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan if the two weren’t able to work out their differences.
            • India’s position - India has welcomed the power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah. It hope that the power-sharing deal will result in renewed efforts for establishing enduring.
            • Importance of Afghanistan for India - Afghanistan's main advantage is its geography. Anyone who controls Afghanistan controls the land routes between the Indian subcontinent, Iran, and resource-rich Central Asia. Economically, it is a gateway to the oil and mineral-rich Central Asian republics. Afghanistan has become the second-largest recipient of Indian foreign aid over the last five years.
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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 Not Available Today
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                                • 7. POLITY (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
                              7.1 Criminalisation of politics: ‘Unknown sources funding parties’
                              • According to a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), more than half of the income of 23 regional parties whose annual audit and contribution reports were analysed came from unknown sources in 2018-19.
                              • The report initially considered 52 recognised regional parties but only 26 of them had filed their annual audit and contribution reports with the Election Commission.
                              • Of the 26, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Lok Jan Shakti Party were left out of the analysis as there were discrepancies in their reports.
                              • The total income declared by the 23 parties was Rs. 885.956 crore, of which Rs. 257.14 crore or 29.02% came from known sources (donations declared to the ECI) and Rs.147.54 crore or 16.65% came from other known sources such as membership fees, bank interest etc.
                              • A total of Rs. 481.27 crore or 54.32% of the parties’ income came from unknown sources.
                              • Ninety per cent of the income from unknown sources was through electoral bonds.
                              • The Biju Janata Dal declared the highest income from unknown sources (Rs. 213.54 crore), followed by the YSR-Congress (Rs. 100.50 crore) and the Shiv Sena (Rs. 60.73 crore).

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

                                    8.1 Ministry of Home Affairs drops order that required all employers to pay wages to workers for the period the units were shut during lockdown.
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                                          • 9. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3)
                                        9.1 Scientists have discovered a new Super-Earth planet

                                        • It is among only a handful of extra-solar planets that have been detected with both sizes and orbits close to that of Earth.
                                        • An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the Solar System. The first confirmation of detection of exoplanets occurred in 1992. Exoplanets are very hard to see directly with telescopes. They are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit. So, astronomers use other ways to detect and study exoplanets such as looking at the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit.
                                        • Mass of the Host Star - The host star of the Super-Earth’s system has about 10% the mass of the Sun. The lower mass of the host star makes a ‘year’ on the planet of approximately 617 days.
                                        • Mass of the Super-Earth Planet - The planet is expected to have a mass between the Earth’s mass and that of Neptune.
                                        • Orbit - With reference to the Solar system, the Super-Earth planet would orbit at a radius anywhere between that of Venus and Earth in our solar system.
                                        • The Super-Earth planet has been discovered using the gravitational microlensing technique. Gravitational microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon due to the gravitational lens effect. It can be used to detect objects that range from the mass of a planet to the mass of a star, regardless of the light they emit.

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                                                    • 10. FACTS, CHARTS, RANKINGS and EDITORIALS (Prelims + GS Mains)
                                                  10.1 Not Available Today
                                                        10.2 Daily dose of  FIVE Facts -
                                                        • Gujarat and Maharashtra state celebrated its foundation day on May 1, 2020.
                                                        • Bhanu Pratap Sharma is the Chairman of Banks Board Bureau (BBB).
                                                        • Renowned Architect Vittorio Gregotti died in Milan, Italy at the age of 92 in March 2020.
                                                        • Elio Germano won Best Actor award at Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020 for ‘Hidden Away’.
                                                        • Saurabh Chaudhary won the Male Sportsperson of the Year award at the ESPN Multi-Sport Awards in February 2020.
                                                        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 - 19-05-2020
                                                        Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 19-05-2020
                                                        Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 19-05-2020
                                                        PT's IAS Academy
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