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Important Current Affairs 9th April 2020

National

GoI launches “iGOT” e-learning platform to combat COVID-19

• The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has announced the launch of a learning platform iGOT- Integrated Government Online Training (https://igot.gov.in).

• The e-learning platform has been launched for all front-line workers to equip them with the training and updates in coping with COVID 19.

• The target group is Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Hygiene Workers, Technicians, Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs), Central & State Govt. Officers, Civil Defence Officials, various Police Organisations, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), Bharat Scouts & Guides (BSG) and other volunteers.

TRIFED to launch campaign in partnership with UNICEF for SHGs

• Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has collaborated with UNICEF for developing a digital communication strategy for promoting a digital campaign for Self Help Groups (SHGs).

• The partnership aims to highlight the importance of Social Distancing.

Airtel Payments Bank Rolls out Covid-19 health insurance plan in Partnership with Bharati AXA General Insurance

• Airtel Payments Bank has partnered with Bharati AXA General Insurance to launch a health insurance policy, which offer financial protection against coronavirus.

• Under the partnership, they have rolled out two different health insurance plans which includes:

• Bharti AXA Group Health Assure Policy

• Group Hospital Cash Policy

Banking and Economy

SIDBI to provide emergency working capital to MSMEs

• The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will facilitate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with emergency working capital of up to Rs 1 crore against their confirmed government orders.

•  The SIDBI’s new loan product i.e. SIDBI Assistance to Facilitate Emergency response against Coronavirus (SAFE) plus will be provided collateral free and disbursed within 48 hours at an interest rate of 5%.

• Under its flagship scheme called SIDBI Make in India Soft Loan Fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (Smile), SEBI has opened an additional financial window for the healthcare sector.

Sports

Englands Ben Stokes named 2020 Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World

• England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes has been named as the leading cricketer in the world by Wisden for the year 2019. He is the first player from England since 2005 to be named for this award.

• In Women’s category, Australia’s Ellyse Perry has been named the Wisden’s Leading Female Cricketer in the World.

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Important Current Affairs 7th April 2020

National

PM, President and MPs Salary Cut by 30% , MPLAD funds suspended for 2 years

• The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance amending the salary, allowances and pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, to reduce the allowances and pension by 30% starting April 1, 2020, for a year.

• All Members of Parliament (MPs), including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers, would be taking a 30 per cent salary cut due to the impact of the novel coronavirus.

• The cabinet also approved temporary suspension of MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) fund scheme during 2020-21 and 2021-22, and the funds will be used for managing health services and the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Civil Services Association Launches Initiative ‘CARUNA’ to help Government Fight Coronavirus

• The Associations representing officers of central civil services, such as IAS, IPS, has come up with an initiative called ‘CARUNA’, as a collaborative platform to support Government in the fight against #COVID19.

• The acronym ‘CARUNA’ stands for Civil services Associations Reach to sUpport in Natural disAsters.

• The collective abilities of this versatile group will support:

• Decision Makers by providing IT, HR & coordination support to enhance their outreach

• Frontline Functionaries in reaching out to the last mile

Delhi Government’s 5 point plan to contain spread of COVID-19

• Delhi Government on April 7, 2020 launched a 5 point action plan to contain the spread of COVID-19. The plan includes 5T strategy - Tracing, Testing, Treatment, Teamwork and  Tracking & Monitoring.

• The Plan was announced by the Chief Minister Kejriwal through live television address.

International

US announces $2.9 million package for India

• The United States recently announced a donation package of USD 2.9 million for India in its fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. The announcement regarding the donation was made by US Agency for International Development.

•  The aid is a part of the American Global Response Package, wherein the US is providing financial assistance of USD 174 million to over 60 countries.

Banking and Economy

Madhabi Puri Buch gets 6-month extension as WTM at SEBI

• The term of Madhabi Puri Buch as a Whole Time Member (WTM) at Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been extended by 6 months.

• Madhabi Puri Buch is the first woman Whole Time Member (WTM) of SEBI and also the first from the private sector to be appointed as a board member in SEBI.

Sports

Kobe Bryant inducted into NBA’s Hall of Fame (Basketball)

• Late basketball player, Kobe Bryant, has been inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame 2020. He was an American Basketball Player.

• Kobe Bryant, 41 was killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020 in which total of 9 people died.

• A total of 9 people have been inducted into the 2020 NBA’s Hall of Fame. The other eight are: MVP Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann.

Science and Technology

NASA to land human on moon by 2024

• US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced to land human on moon by the year 2024 under its ambitious ‘Artemis Program’.

• The NASA has been constantly working on this program to build a Artemis Base Camp.

Obituary

Former Libya Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril Passes Away Due to coronavirus at 68

• Former Prime Minister of Libya, Mahmoud Jibril passed away in Egypt after contracting the coronavirus. He was 68.

• Jibril served as the interim Prime Minister of Libya for seven and a half months during the Libyan Civil War, from 5 March to 23 October 2011.

Ranking

Tamil Nadu Tops in micro-irrigation coverage under PMKSY in 2019-20

• The Tamil Nadu state has finished on top at the all-India level for micro-irrigation coverage in the financial year 2019-20, as part of implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

• Karnataka is at second place with 1,41,103.56 ha area under micro-irrigation while Gujarat is at third spot with 1,08,322.00 ha under micro-irrigation.

• During 2019-20, the overall coverage of the state under micro-irrigation stood at 2,06,853.25 hectares (ha). The total area brought under micro irrigation at the all-India level in 2019-20 stands at 7,72,350.63 ha.

• PMKSY is a programme aimed at promoting the “more crop per drop” concept by focussing on water-saving technologies.

Days

World Health Day

• World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April each year since 1950, to draw worldwide attention to a specific theme of major importance to global health each year.

• The Theme of 2020 World Health Day is Support Nurses and Midwives.

• The World Health Day also marks the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 7 April 1948.

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Important Current Affairs 6th April 2020

National

Government plans to link 22000 mandis with e-NAM platform by 2022

• The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar has launched three new features of National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) Platform to enable farmers to sell their harvested produce directly from warehouse which will prevent crowding in mandis amid COVID-19 outbreak.

• Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.

 Geo-fencing app to locate quarantine violators

• The government has tested an application named, Geo-fencing app to trigger emails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency, if a person has jumped quarantine or has escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location.

• The Centre under the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, uses powers to “fetch information” from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 quarantine violators across the country & is accurate by up to 300 m.

Northern Railways develops PPE coverall

• The Northern Railways has developed a PPE coverall. This is in addition to the personal protective equipment coveralls and the N99 masks that have been developed by DRDO.

• The initiative is to meet the demand of these equipments and ensure proper safety and security of the healthcare workers who are in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

• With rising coronavirus cases in the country, there is a shortage of PPE kits. Hence, efforts are being made to start mass production of these products. The existing N95 mask producers have also increased their capacity and are producing about 80,000 masks per day.

Indian Railways develops low-cost ventilator prototype named “Jeevan”

• Indian Railway’s Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala, Punjab has developed a low-cost ventilator prototype named “Jeevan” that is much cheaper than regular ventilators.

• The ventilators can be put to use after it receives approvals from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

• The cost of these ventilators is expected to be Rs. 10,000 without compressors. RCF Kapurthala has developed the prototype after the government instructed the Indian Railways to explore the possibility of manufacturing ventilators.

Obituary

Former Honduras President Rafael Callejas, Disgraced by FIFAgate Scandal, Passes Away at 76

• The former President of Honduras, Rafael Callejas, has passed away of heart attack. He was 76.

• Callejas served the country from 27 January 1990 to 27 January 1994, representing the National Party of Honduras (PNH).

• He was the head of country’s football federation from 2002 to 2015 and was also accused of the vast football corruption scandal known as FIFAgate.

Appointments and Resignations

Nasscom appoints Infosys' COO Pravin Rao as chairman

• Vice-Chairperson Infosys’ chief operating officer, UB Pravin Rao, has been appointed as the new chairman of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) for the year 2020-21. He was appointed Rekha Menon of Accenture.

• Rekha M Menon is the Chairman and Senior Managing Director, Accenture in India. Menon will be the Vice-Chairperson for Nasscom. Pravin Rao, along with President Debjani Ghosh, will help Nasscom to achieve its 2025 vision for the industry.

Days

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

• The United Nations celebrates 6th of April every year as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

• Sport has historically played an important role in all societies, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play.

• Sports also presents a natural partnership for the United Nations (UN) system.

International Day of Conscience is observed on 5 April

• International Day of Conscience is observed on 5 April.

• The day aims to promote a culture of peace with love and conscience.

• The day reminds the people to self-reflect, follow their conscience, and do the right things.

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Important Current Affairs 5th April 2020

National

World Food Programme COVID-19 has little impact on global food supply chain

• World Food Programme (WFP) conveyed the rapidly growing novel Coronavirus pandemic so far, having little impact on the global food supply chain, but that could change for the worse if major food importers remain anxious.

•  The UN agency's global markets for basic cereals are well-supplied, and prices are generally low. However, given the highly globalized nature of food production and supply, commodities need to move from the world's breadbaskets to where they are consumed, and the novel Coronavirus-related containment measures are starting to make this more challenging.

India seeks $6 billion of loans from ADB, AIIB to fight coronavirus pandemic

• India is seeking as much as $6 billion of loans from multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank to bolster its efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

• The World Bank already committed $1 billion. At the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is in talks with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and ADB, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details haven’t been finalized.

• India needs to rapidly scale up testing for the virus to head off the disease from infecting more people in the world’s most populated nation after China. Proceeds including from the World Bank will be used to acquire testing kits and ventilators, turning hospital beds into intensive care unit beds as well as for buying personal protective equipment for health care workers.

Banking and Economy

After SBI, Govt nominates IOB for collecting donations for PM Cares Fund

• Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), has been nominated by the government for the collection of funds of PM-Cares Fund. Till now only State Bank of India was the nominated bank for the same.

• PM Cares stands for Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-Cares Fund).

• The contributions can be made by ECS, RTGS, NEFT, IMPS, cheques and demand drafts drawn in favour of PM-Cares Fund.

Summits and Mou’s

Arogya Sanjeevani Policy Cigna launched with IRDAI guidelines

• Manipal Cigna Health Insurance company has announced the launch of its Arogya Sanjeevani Policy, ManipalCigna. This standard health cover policy in line with IRDAI from one of the 29 insurers who have received the go-ahead to launch such policies in the industry.

• Every general insurance company has to launch a standard health plan and has to have an official name Arogya Sanjeevani Policy (name of insurer) for easy comparison by the buyers.

Awards

Naveen Patnaik awarded with ‘Hero to Animals Award’ by PETA India

• Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has been conferred with ‘Hero to Animals Award’ by animal rights body PETA India.

• He has been awarded by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for allocating funds to feed community animals in Odisha during the lockdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sports

World Games 2021 Postponed to avoid Clash with Tokyo Olympics

• The International World Games Association (IWGA) - the organizer of the World Games 2021 have decided to postpone the mega sporting event by nearly an year to avoid a clash with Tokyo Olympic Games.

• The 11th Edition of the World Games which had originally been planned to take place from 15–25 July 2021 have now be pushed by an year, and will be held from 7th to 17th July 2022.

• The 11th Edition of the World Games 2021 will be hosted by Birmingham, United States.

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Important Current Affairs 4th April 2020

National

DST sets up rapid response centre CAWACH to combat COVID-19

• The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, has approved setting up of a Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), to support startups that address COVID-19 challenges.

• CAWACH will be set up at a total cost of Rs 56 Crore.

• The Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a technology business incubator at IIT Bombay, supported by DST, has been identified as the Implementing Agency of the CAWACH.

CAWACH

• The CAWACH programme of DST will scout, evaluate and support the innovations and start-ups that are in the area of novel, low cost, safe and effective ventilators, respiratory aids, protective gears, novel solutions for sanitizers, disinfectants, diagnostics, therapeutics, informatics and any effective interventions to control COVID-19.

International

Domino’s Pizza launches ‘Domino’s Essentials’ service

• Domino’s Pizza has partnered with ITC Foods to launch “Domino’s Essentials”.

Highlights of this Partnership:

• Through “Domino’s Essentials” service, everyday grocery essentials offered by ITC Foods will be delivered while leveraging the delivery infrastructure of Domino’s.

• This partnership aims to serve the community by ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential items at their doorsteps, without them having to step outside of their homes.

• The “Domino’s Essentials” service will be available for consumers via “Domino’s Essentials” section on the Domino’s app.

• Domino’s Pizza will leverage its supply chain and delivery network to deliver essential goods to the customers at their home.

• This service is an effort which aligns with the government’s decision of nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banking and Economy

Fitch Ratings cuts India’s GDP growth forecast to 2% for FY21

• Fitch Ratings has cut its GDP growth forecast for India to 2% for the fiscal year 2021.

• This will be the slowest growth in India over the past 30 years.

ADB Estimates India’s GDP for FY’21 at 4 Percent; 6.2% for FY’22

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released its latest Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 for financial year 2020-21 on 3rd April 2020.

• As per ADB, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in India is likely to slow down to 4 percent in FY21 (2020-21) on the back of the current global health emergency.

• However, ADB expects the Indian economy to further strengthen to 6.2 percent in the FY22 fiscal (2021-22).

Obituary

Prominent virologist Gita Ramjee dies from coronavirus

• World renowned virologist Gita Ramjee passed away after contracting the novel coronavirus. The South African “Vaccine” scientist and an HIV prevention research leader was working as the chief scientific officer at the Aurum Institute.

• In 2018, the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) awarded Gita Ramjee with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon for her lifetime commitment towards finding new HIV prevention methods.

Sports

Asian Games 2022 "smart triplets" mascots unveiled in digital ceremony

• The Olympic Council of Asia has announced the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou in 2022. The three robots namely Congcong, Lianlian and Chenchen which are collectively known as “The Smart Triplets” will be the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games.

• The mascot was unveiled by Olympic Council of Asia at a digital launch ceremony in Hangzhou, China. The ceremony was held digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the whole world to a stand still.

• The robot ‘Congcong’ represents the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City. It derives its name from the Cong jade pendant — the quintessential relic unearthed from the ruins dating back 5,000 years. ‘Lianlian’ represents the West Lake and the name signifies a lake full of lush lotus leaves. Green stands for life and nature.The third mascot is ‘Chenchen’, which represents the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Days

International Mine Awareness Day observed globally on 4 April

• International Mine Awareness Day observed globally on 4 April every year. On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

• It was first observed on 4 April 2006.

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Important Current Affairs 2nd April 2020

National

DGCA allows cargo operations using passenger category aircraft

• The Director General of Civil Aviation on April 1, 2020 granted special permission to conduct cargo operations using passenger category aircraft in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

• The decision was taken to meet the increasing demand for cargo operations for transportation of essential goods and medical equipment during the lockdown period.

IIT Kanpur to develop low-cost portable ventilator

• Amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur is developing portable ventilators which will be significantly cheaper than the ones available in the market.

• The prototype of this ventilator will be ready very soon and just after assembling, it can be used as a life support system.

• The ventilator is a very important medical equipment for COVID-19 Patients, especially those who are old and the virus can prove fatal to them.

COVID Quarantine Alert System developed

• The Department of Telecommunication and C-DOT has developed and tested a COVID Quarantine Alert System in coordination with the Telecom service providers. 
• The application will automatically trigger an email or SMS if any identified coronavirus case moves away from their quarantine location. 
• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has encouraged the state governments to use the COVID Quarantine Alert system to keep a track of those in home quarantine.

World Bank offers $1 billion for proposed India COVID-19 emergency

• The World Bank has offered $1 billion to the Indian government for a proposed India COVID-19 emergency response and health systems preparedness project.

• This four-year project aims to develop the preparedness of India’s health care systems in the time of the pandemic.

• The idea of the project will be to respond and mitigate the COVID-19 threat and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness in India, as per the project document.

• The World Bank funding is from its COVID-19 fast-track facility where both the entities (World Bank and the government of India) will work on following the best international practice.

Banking and Economy

Nomura lowers India’s 2020 GDP growth forecast to -0.5%

• Nomura has predicted India’s GDP growth rate for the year 2020 at -0.5%. The earlier prediction was 4.5%.

• The announcement was made by Sonal Varma, MD and chief India economist at Nomura.

BhartPe & ICICI lombard tie up to launch COVID-19 insurance

• BharatPe inks partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited to introduce ‘COVID-19 Protection Insurance Cover’.

• This Insurance cover for shopkeepers, who are most affected financially due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Centre Extends Foreign Trade Policy for One Year till March 2021

• The government has extended the existing foreign trade policy (2015-20) for one year till March 2021.

• The foreign trade policy 2015-20 was earlier valid up to March 31, 2020.

• The extension has been given amid coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown to contain the virus spread.

RBI sets WMA for Central Government at Rs 1,20,000 crore for first half of FY21

•    The Reserve Bank of India has fixed the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) for Central Government for the first half of the financial year 2020-21 (April 2020 to September 2020) at Rs. 1,20,000 crore.
•    The Reserve Bank may trigger fresh floatation of market loans when the Government of India utilizes 75% of the WMA limit.
•    Apart from this, for State Government’s WMA, RBI has increased the WMA limit by 30 percent from the existing limit for all States/UTs. It must be noted that every state government has a different WMA limit.  The revised limits will come into force with effect from April 1, 2020 and will be valid till September 30, 2020.

Science and Technology

NASA Announces Mission SunRISE to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms
•    US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected a new mission called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms, known as solar particle storms, into planetary space.
•    SunRise is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope.
•    NASA has sanctioned USD 62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE.It will be launched after July 1, 2023.
 

Sports

2021 World Athletics Championships Being Moved to 2022

• The World Athletics has informed that the 2021 world athletics championships in Eugene, Oregon, United States, is now being shifted to 2022 to accommodate the re-arranged Tokyo Olympics.

• The 2020 Tokyo Games has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and will now take place on July 23-August 8, 2021.

• The world athletics championships was earlier scheduled to take place in Eugene on August 6-15, 2021. It will now take place in August 2022.

Days

World Autism Awareness Day is observed on 2 April

•    World Autism Awareness Day is observed on 2 April.
•    The day aims to recognize and celebrate the rights of persons with autism.
•    The day makes people understand, recognize, and accept people with autism.
•    This year the day is commemorated by the Department of Community Development, Abu Dhabi, the UAE.

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Important Current Affairs 1st April 2020

National

GoI extends validity of expired Driving Licences and Vehicle Registration till 30 June

• The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced an extension on the validity of documents like driving licenses, permits and registration that are expired since 1 February.

• The Ministry has directed all states and Union Territories (UT) to treat the documents as valid till 30 June.

Karnataka government launches ‘Corona Watch’ app

• The state government of Karnataka has launched a mobile application ‘Corona Watch’. The mobile application aims to track the movement history of persons tested positive, before their detection in order to take precautions and to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

• The app will also provide the date and time of visit to spots by the patients. ‘Corona Watch’ app also comprises a list of government designated first response hospitals for COVID-19 where citizen with symptoms can visit.

Banking and Economy

Mega merger of 10 PSU Banks comes into effect

• The mega merger of 10 PSU banks into 4 comes into effect from April 1, 2020. As per the merger, the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the United Bank of India have now be merged with the Punjab National Bank with the latter being the Head Bank.

• In another merger, Corporation Bank and Andhra Bank are merged into Union Bank of India. The branches of the merged banks will work as the branches of Head or Anchor bank.

As per the consolidation scheme, the details of 10 state-run banks into 4 are mentioned below-

• United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce will merge into Punjab National Bank

• Syndicate Bank will merge into Canara Bank

• Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank

• Corporation and Andhra Banks will be merged in Union Bank of India

The objective behind the merger:

The major objectives of the merger are:

• To help India make a USD 5 trillion economy

• Reducing the lending cost

• Enhancing the capacity in order to increase credit

• To bring next-generation technology for the banking sector

• Banks that have strong national and international reach

• To improve the ability to raise market resources.

Government cuts Interest Rates on Small Saving Schemes

• The Central Government recently slashed the interest rates on small saving schemes such as PPF for the April-June quarter of 2020-2021.

• The Small Saving Schemes include Public Provident Fund (PPF), Kisan Vikas Patra, Senior Citizen Saving schemes (SCSS) and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.

UN report states India, China will stay away from world recession

• The United Nations Trade report titled “The COVID-19 Shock to Developing Countries: Towards a whatever it takes program” stated that the world economy will go into recession in 2020 with a predicted loss of trillions of dollars of global income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• It also predicted serious problems for developing countries with the likely exception of India and China.

Summits and Mou’s

Ministry of Tourism launches ‘Stranded in India’ portal

• The Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists who are stuck in various parts of the country.

• Its web address is strandedinindia.com. The COVID-19 helpline number for foreign tourists stuck in India is +91-11-23978046 or 1075.

Obituary

Legendary historian Arjun Dev passes away

• The legendary historian and educationist, Professor Arjun Dev passed away. He was born on November 12, 1938, in Leiah, West Punjab (now in Pakistan).

•  He served as a historian at the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT).

Days

International Transgender Day of Visibility

• International Transgender Day of Visibility observed globally on 31st March every year.

• The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

Utkal Divas or Odisha Day is celebrated on 1 April

• Utkal Divas (Odisha Day) is celebrated every year on 1st April all over Odisha. Odisha Day is celebrated in the memory of the formation of the state as a separate province on 1 April 1936.

•  This year marks the 83rd Utkal Divas or the foundation day of Odisha. Odisha was born as a separate state on April 1, 1936, on a linguistic basis.

•  The state was carved out of the combined Bengal-Bihar-Orissa province.

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Important Current Affairs 29th March 2020

National

Government Sets up special emergency fund ‘PM CARES Fund’ to Fight Against COVID-19

• The Government of India has set up a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ on 28 March 2020.

• The primary objective of this dedicated national fund is to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust while Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister are its other members.

• The fund has been set up to enable micro-donations, allowing a large number of people to be able to contribute with smallest of denominations.

• Donations to this fund will be exempted from income tax under section 80(G) of the IT Act.

• Citizens and organisations can go to the website pmindia.gov.in and donate to PM CARES Fund.

• The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) will be hold the account of the PM Cares Fund.

Government of India launches coronavirus risk-tracking app “Corona Kavach”

• Government of India has launched a coronavirus risk-tracking app in India and is named “Corona Kavach”.

• The app has been developed by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

• The app uses a person’s location to assess whether they are in the high-risk geographical zone or not. It will track the data of the users every one hour to alert them of whether they have crossed paths with any person who has tested positive for the infection.

Abbott Labs launches 5-minute coronavirus test

• Abbott Laboratories, United States is unveiling a coronavirus test which will tell if someone is infected within 5 minutes. This test is so small and portable it is often utilized in almost any health-care setting.

• The test starts with taking a swab from the nose or the rear of the throat, then mixing it with a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its RNA.

•  The mixture is inserted into an ID Now system, a small box weighing slightly below 7 pounds that has the technology to spot and amplify select sequences of the coronavirus genome and ignore contamination from other viruses.

Goa becomes the 1st state to launch assessment tool for COVID-19

• The Government of Goa has launched a COVID 19 self-assessment tool, to assist people in identifying symptoms and risks of being infected by novel coronavirus, without having to visit a healthcare facility physically.

• With this, Goa has become the first state to launch India’s first digital initiative to tackle novel Coronavirus.

• The self-assessment tool named ‘Test Yourself Goa’ has been launched by the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Goa in partnership with Innovaccer.

Banking and Economy

India’s GDP growth estimated at 4.5% for FY’20; 2.6% for FY’21: SBI report

• According to the SBI Ecowrap report released by the State Bank of India (SBI), the GDP growth rate of India for the financial year 2020-21 is likely to fall to 2.6 percent due to the ongoing 21-day lockdown.

• The GDP growth estimate for the current fiscal, i.e. 2019-20 is estimated at 4.5 percent.

Acquisitions and Mergers

Mega merger of 10 state-run banks into four lenders will come into force from April 1

• The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the schemes for the merger of ten state-run banks into four banks will take effect from 1 April 2020.

• The banking regulator has also announced that the branches of merging banks will operate as the branch of the banks in which these have been amalgamated, from the beginning of next fiscal year 2020-21.

• After the merger, the total number of PSBs will be reduced to 12 from 27 PSBs, including 7 large PSBs and 5 small PSBs.

• Also, the anchor bank Punjab National Bank will become the country’s second largest bank with asset size of Rs 17.94 lakh crore, after SBI (over Rs 52 lakh crore).

• The amalgamation is the part of RBI’s consolidation plan to create bigger size stronger banks in the public sector.

• The following amalgamation will take place:

1. Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will merge with Punjab National Bank (PNB) branches

2. Syndicate Bank will merge with Canara Bank

3. Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will merge into Union Bank of India

4. Allahabad Bank will merge into Indian Bank.

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Important Current Affairs 28th March 2020

National

Goa becomes the 1st state to launch assessment tool for COVID-19

• Goa becomes the first Indian state to launch a self-assessment tool for COVID-19. The self-assessment tool called Test Yourself Goa. This tool helps people identify if they are infected by the virus without visiting a doctor or hospital.

• The Goa government has partnered with Innovaccer, a US-based healthcare data analytics company that developed the self-assessment platform.

• The tool will then assist the person to take further steps by providing information on self-quarantine, helpline numbers to reach out to the concerned authorities. The tool is accessible in English, Konkani & Hindi and will also work on Smartphones.

Indian army Chief starts ‘Operation Namaste’ to combat COVID-19

• Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane has launched ‘Operation Namaste’ to extend assistance to the govt in containing the spread of coronavirus and insulate the force from the pandemic. Under the operation, the army will help the Government of India fight against the deadly disease.

• Indian Army has established 8 quarantine so far. Army has also issued guidelines for army men to keep themselves safe as it is difficult to maintain social distancing due to operational and tactical.

India’s Cleanest City Indore Becomes First in the Country to Opt for Drones to Sanitise City amid Coronavirus Scare

• Indore, the cleanest city of India in Madhya Pradesh, has deployed drones to sanitize city areas against the coronavirus outbreak.

• This makes Indore as the first city in the country to attempt to fight off the virus scare this way.

• The initiative is a first-of-its kind attempt by which crowded areas are sanitised with the help of drones sprinkling chemicals.

International

UN launches US$2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan to fight COVID-19

• United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched a US$2.012

billion coordinated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

• The Global HRP has been launched for a period of nine months (April–December 2020)

• The response plan will be coordinated by UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and will bring together requirements from World Health Organization and other UN humanitarian agencies.

• To kick-start the response plan, $60 million has been released from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)

Banking and Economy

Sidbi to provide loans up to Rs 50 lakh to MSEs manufacturing medical supplies to fight COVID-19

• Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will provide loans up to Rs 50 lakh to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) that are manufacturing medical supplies for fighting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

• The Sidbi Assistance to Facilitate Emergency (SAFE) will offer loans to MSEs at a fixed interest rate of 5%and with a maximum loan repayment tenure of five years.

• The loans offered are collateral-free and will be sanctioned within 48 hours of applying and submission of documents.

CRISIL cuts India’s GDP growth forecast for FY2021 to 3.5%

• CRISIL has slashed the gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for FY2021 (2020-21) to 3.5% from 5.2% expected earlier.

• The cut is due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ICRA predicts India’s GDP growth for FY21 at 2%

• Rating agency ICRA has predicted the GDP Growth rate for India in 2020-21 (FY21) at 2% due to the coronavirus impact.

• For FY20, ICRA had predicted the GDP growth rate for India at 5%.

Summits and Mou’s

NTPC concludes acquisition of govt’s stake in THDC, NEEPCO at Rs 11,500 cr

• National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) concluded the acquisition of Centre’s entire stake in two hydropower generating firms, Tehri Hydro Power Complex (THDC) India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), at Rs 11,500 crore.

• Under the deal, NTPC acquired the latter’s 74.496 % equity stake in THDC India Ltd (THDCIL) for Rs 7,500 crore & its 100% equity in North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPC) for Rs 4,000 crore respectively.

Obituary

Samajwadi Party founding member Beni Prasad passes away

• Former Union Minister and founding member of the Samajwadi party, Beni Prasad Verma passed away on March 27, 2020. He was 79.

• The Samajwadi Party tweeted condoling the death of the senior party leader saying that the demise of the leader is an irreparable loss.

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Important Current Affairs 26th March 2020

National

Finance Minister announces relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

• The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Niramla Sitharaman has announced the relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. The new relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has been launched for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus pandemic.

Key benefeciaries of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana:

• The scheme will benefit the poors by providing an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month to 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders. The amount would be given for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit the 8 crore poor families by providing them Gas cylinders free of cost for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit 8.7 crore farmers. It will ensure the payment of the first instalment of Rs 2,000 which was due in 2020-21, in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana.

• The scheme will benefit the low wage-earners earning below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses comprising less than 100 workers. Government of India has proposed to pay 24% of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit 3 crore aged widows and people in Divyang category by giving them Rs 1,000 to overcome the difficulties during the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) workers as their wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020. This will provide an additional benefit of Rs 2,000 annually to a worker.

• The scheme will benefit women who are organised through 63 lakhs Self Help Groups (SHGs) by increasing the collateral free lending from Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 20 lakhs.

Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam District Bifurcated to Form Mayiladuthurai as 38th District

• Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy has announced the formation of a new district Mayiladuthurai by bifurcating the existing district of Nagapattinam.

• With this, the total number of districts in the state has increased to 38.

• Till date, Tamil Nadu had 37 districts, of which five new districts were formed in 2019.

IMF launches Tracker of Govt. Policies in Response to COVID-19

• The International Monetary Fund has launched a “Tracker of Policies Governments are Taking in Response to COVID-19”.

• The policy tracker outlines the key economic responses taken by the government of various countries in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy tracker has the updated data till March 24, 2020.

• The policy tracker covers the responses on the basis of three pillars, namely:

Fiscal

Monetary And Macro-Financial

Exchange Rate And Balance Of Payments

Odisha government launches “Mo Jeeban” programme

• Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched Mo Jeeban programme in Odisha. The “Mo Jeeban” programme was launched for the containment of COVID-19 pandemic.

• Through Mo Jeeban programme, the chief minister of Odisha urged the people of the state to take a pledge to stay indoors

International

Saudi king to chair G20 video summit on coronavirus on March 26

• Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will chair an emergency virtual summit of G20 leaders on March 26, 2020. The meeting is titled ‘G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19′.

• Saudi Arabia currently holds the G20 presidency and hence is chairing the meet.

• India is a member nation of the G20 group. The other members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Microsoft & US CDC tie-up to create AI bot ‘Clara’

• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced an AI bot called ‘Clara’ to help people assess potential symptoms of COVID-19.

• The CDC has partnered up with CDC Foundation and Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service to create Clara, the “coronavirus self-checker” the bot is currently only available in the US on the CDC website.

Banking and Economy

NABARD Extends Financial Support of Rs 42,313 cr in FY’20 for rural infrastructure

• The apex agriculture financial institution, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has provided a financial support up to Rs 42,313 crore towards building rural infrastructure in the current fiscal year 2019-20.

• Till date, NABARD has disbursed Rs 20,869 Crore during the current year in addition to providing Rs 5,686 Crore for rural connectivity

• In the last five years, NABARD has disbursed Rs 1.98 lakh crore towards rural development.

Summits and Mou’s

Cabinet approves MoUs between India & Germany in railway sector

• The Union Cabinet recently approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) between India and Germany for cooperation in the Railway Sector. The agreement was signed earlier in February 2020 between both the sides.

• From Indian side, the agreement was signed by the Ministry of Railways and from Germany side, DB Engineering and Consulting GMBH was the signatory.

Obituary

“Asterix and Obelix” co-creator Albert Uderzo passes away

The co-creator of the “Asterix and Obelix” comics, Albert Uderzo passed away. Albert Uderzo produced Asterix in 1959 along with the fellow Frenchman and writer Rene Goscinny. “Asterix and Obelix” entertained its audience over the past 60 years.

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