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Current Affairs - June 2020

  • Defence Forces Academy, Ghaziabad
  • 31, Dec 2020
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Current Affairs

Prime Minister announces Economic Package of Rs 20 Lakh Crore

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi addressed his countrymen and announced an Economic Package of Rs 20 Lakh crore, giving stress on land, labour, liquidity and law. PM stressed on the local products and urged his countrymen to be “Vocal About Local”. Prime Minister also mentioned 5-Pillars to make India self-reliant. These 5 pillars are: 1. Economy: An economy that brings quantum jump along with incremental change. 2. Infrastructure: An infrastructure that becomes the symbol of modern India. 3. System: A system which will be based on technology. 4. Demography: A vibrant demography which would be the strength as well as the source of energy for self reliant India. 5. Demand: To improve demand and supply chain in India to enhance the Indian economy.
Economic Relief Package announced for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”
Highlights of measures announced as 1st tranche of Economic Relief Package for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”:
1. For Standard MSMEs:

  • Rs 3 lakh crore collateral-free automatic loan for Businesses including MSMEs. This scheme can be availed till 31st Oct, 2020.
  • Loans facility would be available for those firms with Rs 25 crore outstanding loans and annual turnover of Rs 100 crores.
  • This loan facility would be having a tenor of 4 years along with moratorium of 12 months.
  • 100% credit guarantee would be provided to banks and NBFCs on principal as well as interest.
  • There will be no guarantee fees as well as no fresh collateral required.
  • These reforms are expected to benefit 45 lakh business units in order to resume their business activities and safeguard jobs.

2. For stressed MSMEs:

  • GoI has announced a Subordinated Debt of Rs 20000 crores which is expected to benefit about 2 lakh MSMEs.
  • The functioning of MSMEs which are NPA or are stressed would be eligible to avail this facility.
  • GoI has announced to provide Rs 4000 crore as its contribution to Credit Guarantee Fund Trust For Micro And Small Enterprises (CGTSME).
  • The CGTSME will provide partial credit guarantee support to Banks in order to benefit the stressed MSMEs.
  • The promoters of the MSME will be given debt by banks, which would be infused by the promoter as equity in the unit.

3. For MSME having potential and which are viable:

  • A fund of fund has been created to infuse equity of worth Rs 50,000 crore in the MSME.
  • Fund of Fund with corpus of Rs 10,000 crores would be set up to provide equity funding to MSMEs with growth potential and viability.
  • This FoF would be operated via a mother fund including some daughter funds.
  • FoF is expected to benefit MSMEs by expanding size along with their capacity.
  • It will also encourage MSMEs to get listed on main board of Stock Exchanges.

4. New definition of MSMEs: The definition of MSME has been revised by increasing the investment limit of MSME, introducing an additional criteria of turnover as well as removing the distinction between manufacturing and service sector MSME. The new definition is as follow:

  • For Micro enterprise: Investment of upto Rs 1 crore and turnover of upto Rs 5 crore.
  • For Small enterprise: Investment of upto Rs 10 crore and turnover of upto Rs 50 crore.
  • For Medium enterprise: Investment of upto Rs 20 crore and turnover of upto Rs 100 crore.

5. For government procurement, tenders upto Rs 200 crores will no longer be on global tender route.

6. E-market linkage would be provided to the MSMEs in order to enable them to access the markets as they would not be able to participate in Trade Fairs and Exhibitions which are difficult to organised because of COVID-19. The CPSEs and GoI will clear all the receivables of MSMEs within next 45 days.

7. Employees Provident Fund: Liquidity relief is being given for all EPF establishments. Under Pradhan Mantri Garib kalyan Package (PMGKP), payments of 12% of employer and 12% employee contribution was made into EPF accounts of eligible establishments. EPF contribution has been extended for the month of June, July & August and would be paid by the GoI, providing a liquidity support of Rs 2500 Crore and benefitting 72.22 lakhs of employees. To provide more take home salary to employees and also to give relief to employers, the statutory PF contribution of both employer and employee will be reduced to 10% each from existing 12% each for all establishments covered by EPFO for next 3 months. The CPSEs and State PSUs will continue to contribute 12% as employer contribution. It would be applicable for workers who are not eligible for 24% EPF support under PM Garib Kalyan Package and its extension. It will provide liquidity of Rs 6750 Crore to employers and employees over 3 months.

8. For Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFCs)/ Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)/ Micro finance Institutions (MFIs) Government will launch a Rs 30,000 crore Special Liquidity Scheme under which investment will be made in both primary and secondary market transactions in investment grade debt paper of NBFCs/HFCs/MFIs. It will supplement RBI/Government measures to increase liquidity. All the securities under this scheme would be fully guaranteed by GoI.

9. Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme 2.0 for NBFCs Existing PCGS scheme would be extended to cover borrowings such as that of primary issuance of Bonds/ Commercial Papers (liability side of balance sheets) of such entities. In this, first 20% of loss will be borne by the Guarantor i.e. the Government of India. Under this scheme, AA paper and below, including unrated paper would also be eligible for investments (esp. relevant for many MFIs). This scheme is expected to result in liquidity of Rs 45,000 crores.

10. In order to help Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMS), PFC/REC will infuse liquidity of Rs. 90,000 Crore to DISCOMs against receivables. Loans would be given against state guarantees for exclusive purpose of discharging liabilities of Discoms to Gencos. Central Public Sector Generation Companies shall give rebate to Discoms which shall be passed on to the final consumers (industries).

11. For Contractors: All Central Agencies such as Railways, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Central Public Works Dept, etc will provide extension of up to 6 months without costs to contractor.
This extension will cover:

  • construction/works and goods and services contracts.
  • obligations like completion of work, intermediate milestones etc. as well as extension of Concession period in PPP contracts.

12. For Real Estate Sector Some measures have been announced to de-stress real estate developers and ensure completion of projects so that home buyers are able to get delivery of their booked houses with new timelines.
Accordingly, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will advise States/UTs and their Regulatory Authorities to the following effect:

  • Treat COVID-19 as an event of ‘Force Majeure’ under RERA.
  • Extend the registration and completion date suomoto by 6 months for all registered projects expiring on or after 25th March, 2020 without individual applications.
  • Regulatory Authorities may extend this for another period of upto 3 months, if needed
  • Issue fresh ‘Project Registration Certificates’ automatically with revised timelines.
  • Extend timelines for various statuary compliances under RERA concurrently.

13. Liquidity of Rs 50000 crore through Tax Deduction at Source (TDS)/Tax Collection at Source (TCS) rate reduction.

  • To provide more funds at the disposal of the taxpayers, the rates of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) for non-salaried specified payments made to residents and rates of Tax Collection at Source (TCS) for the specified receipts shall be reduced by 25% of the existing rates.
  • Payment for contract, professional fees, interest, rent, dividend, commission, brokerage, etc. shall be eligible for this reduced rate of TDS.
  • This reduction shall be applicable for the remaining part of the FY 2020-21 i.e. from 14th May, 2020 to 31st March, 2021.

14. Other Direct Tax Measures

  • All pending refunds to charitable trusts and noncorporate businesses & professions including proprietorship, partnership, LLP and Co-operatives shall be issued immediately.
  • Due date of all income-tax return for FY 2019-20 will be extended from 31st July, 2020 & 31st October, 2020 to 30th November, 2020 and Tax audit from 30th September, 2020 to 31st October, 2020.
  • Date of assessments getting barred on 30th September,2020 extended to 31st December,2020 and those getting barred on 31st March, 2021 will be extended to 30th September,2021.
  • Period of Vivad se Vishwas Scheme for making payment without additional amount will be extended to 31st December, 2020.

Highlights of measures announced in 2nd tranche, as part of Economic Relief Package for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”:

Migrant Workers: 1. Free Food Grain supply to migrants for 2 months

  • Those migrants who are neither under National Food Security Act nor the holders of any State Card, will be provided 5 Kg of grains per person and 1 kg Chana per family per month for a period of two months. With this, about 8 crore migrants are expected to be benefitted from the above facility.
  • This intervention will cost about Rs 3500 Crore which would be completely borne by the Government of India.
  • State governments would be responsible for the implementation, identification of migrants as well as the food distribution

2. To benefit migrant workers, GoI is coming up with National Portability of Cards i.e. “One Nation One Ration card”

  • This scheme will enable the migrant workers to access Public Distribution Ration from any Fair price Shop in the country.
  • This scheme is expected to benefit around 67 crore beneficiaries i.e. 83% of the PDS population by August, 2020. This is expected to cover 100% i.e. all the state and UTs will complete full FPS automation by March 2021.

3. Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for Migrant Workers & Urban Poors -To provide houses to migrant workers & urban poors at affordable prices, the Government of India is going to launch a scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). This would be done by:

  • Converting government funded housing in the cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) under PPP through concessionaire agreements.
  • Incentivizing manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHC on their private land and it would be operated by the same.
  • Incentivizing state government agencies as well as central government organizations to develop ARHC on their private land and it would be operated by the same.

4. MUDRA-Shishu loans: This will be launched to benefit the smallest of small credit takers from the bank. Under MUDRA-Shishu loan, one can take loan of only upto Rs 50,000. RBI has already granted a laon moratorium of 3 months to this loan scheme.

  • After their return from moratorium period, GoI will provide interest subvention support of 2% to prompt payess for a period of 12 months.
  • This will provide relief of Rs 1500 crore to MUDRAShishu loanees. 5. Street Vendors: Considering the adverse impact on the livelihoods of the street vendors due to COVID-19, GoI will launch a special scheme within a month to facilitate easy access to credit to street vendors that would be about Rs 5000 crores and will support around 50 lakh street vendors.
  • Initial working capital of upto Rs 10,000 will be provided to the street vendors.
  • Those vendors who would be accepting digital payments would be incentivized through monetary rewards.
  • Enhanced working capital credit would be made available to the vendors for showing good repayment behaviour.

6. Housing:

  • GoI has decided to extended the tenure of Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (Annual Income: Rs 6-18 Lakhs) which was operationalized in May 2017 and was extended to 31st March 2020. It has been extended to 31st March 2021, hence benefitting 2.5 lakh middle income families.
  • This extension will lead to investment of Rs 70,000 crores in the housing sector and is expected to stimulate demand for steel, cement, transport and other construction material.

7. For Employement Generation:

  • Plans of worth Rs 6000 Crores will be approved shortly to generate employment by pushing the use of CAMPA funds i.e. Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority, which was set up under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016.These funds would be used by state governments for employing tribal people for Afforestation and plantation works, including in urban areas; artificial regeneration & assisted natural regeneration, forest management, soil & moisture conservation works.
  • Hence it will create job opportunities for tribals/adivasis in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.

8. For Farmers:

  • Government of India is providing Rs 30,000 crores Additional Emergency Working Capital Funding for farmers through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for crop loan requirement of Rural Co-op Banks & Regional Rural Bank (RRBs).
  • The additional refinance support of Rs. 30,000 crore would be over and above Rs 90,000 crore to be provided by NABARD through the normal refinance route in 2020.
  • This additional amount of Rs. 30,000 crore would be released immediately to meet post harvest (Rabi) & current Kharif requirement in the month of May/June.
  • This additional amount is expected to benefit around 3 crores small and marginal farmers.
  • 33 State Co-operative banks, 351 District Cooperative banks and 43 RRBs have come forward to avail this on tap based lending.

9. To boost the farming activities, Rs 2 lakh crore Concessional credit boost will be offered to 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan Credit Cards.

  • A Special drive would be undertaken to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan Credit Cards. This drive will also include Fishermen and Animal Husbandry farmers.
  • This credit flow of about Rs 2 lakh crores will enable these farmers to gain access to institutional credit at concessional interest rate.

Highlights of measures announced in 3rd tranche, as part of Economic Relief Package for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”:

1. Rs 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund for farm gate infrastructure for farmers

  • Due to lack of adequate cold chain and Post Harvest Management infrastructure in the vicinity of farmgate, the Government of India is launching financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore to fund Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points such as Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producer Organisation, Agriculture Entrepreneurs, Start-ups, etc.
  • It will help in providing stimulus to the development of farm-gate & aggregation points, affordable and financially viable Post Harvest Management infrastructure.
  • This fund of Rs 1 lakh crore would be created immediately.

2. For Micro Food Enterprises As the un-organised Micro Food Enterprises (MFEs) units requires technical upgradation to attain FSSAI food standards, building brands and marketing purposes.

  • To achieve this, Government of India will launch a Rs 10,000 Crore scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises which is expected to benefit 2 lakh MFEs.
  • This scheme will be based on a cluster based approach and will support the existing micro food enterprises, Farmer producer organisations, Self Help Groups as well as the cooperatives.
  • The scheme will help in reaching untapped export markets in view of improved health consciousness, and will also lead to improved health and safety standards, integration with retail markets as well as improved incomes.

3. Logistics capacities and other provision of facilities under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMY)

  • Government of India has announced the support of Rs 20,000 crore for Fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana which would be launched for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries.
  • From Rs 20,000 crore, amount of Rs 11,000 crore would be used for activities in Marine, Inland Fisheries and aquaculture.
  • The remaining amount of Rs 9,000 crore would be used for Infrastructure such as fishing harbours, cold chain, markets, etc.
  • Cage culture, seaweed farming, Ornamental Fisheries as swell as new fishing vessels, traceability, laboratory network, etc will be the key activities.
  • During the ban period i.e. the period when the fishermen are not allowed to enter the sea and the fishing is prohibited, there would be a provision of Ban Period Support to fishermen in the form of Personal insurance as well as Boat insurance.
  • This is expected to give employment to over 55 lakh persons and will double the exports to Rs 1,00,000 Crore, and lead to additional fish production of 70 lakh tonnes over a period of 5 years.

4. National Animal Disease Control Programme

  • National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis launched with total outlay of Rs. 13,343 crores.
  • It ensures 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population (total 53 crore animals) for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and for brucellosis.
  • Till date, 1.5 crore cows & buffaloes in the country have been tagged and vaccinated.

5. For building capacities in Animal Husbandry

  • Government of India has planned to spend Rs 15,000 crores for the development of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure with special focus on dairy sector.
  • GoI has decided to set up an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs 15,000 crore. It also aims to support private investment in the Dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure.
  • Government will also offer incentives for establishing plants for export of niche products such as cheese, processed milk, milk powder, cream etc.

6. For promotion of Herbal Cultivation

  • Government of India has decided to allocate Rs 4000 crore to cover 10,00,000 hectares area under the Herbal Cultivation in next two years.
  • National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) has already supported 2.25 lac hectare area under the cultivation of medicinal plants.
  • This will lead to generate about Rs 5000 crores of income generation for farmers.
  • NMPB will bring 800 hectare area by developing a corridor of medicinal plants along the banks of river Ganga.
  • A network of regional mandis would be set up for the Medicinal plants.

7. Beekeeping Initiatives

  • Government of India has announced Rs 500 crores scheme to increase the income of 2 lakh beekeepers and will help in providing quality honey to the consumers.
  • It has been launched to increase yield & quality of crops through pollination, and will also provide honey and other beehive products like wax.
  • Government will implement a scheme for the development of infrastructure related to Integrated Beekeeping Development Centres, Collection, Marketing and Storage Centres, Post Harvest & Value Adition Facilities etc.
  • It will lead to implementation of standards, development of traceability systems; and development of quality nucleus stock as well as bee breeders.
  • It will also lead to capacity building with special focus on women.

8. From TOP to TOTAL

  • Government of India has decided to extend the Operation Greens from Tomatoes, Onion & Potatoes (TOP) to All Fruit and Vegetables (TOTAL). Amount of Rs 500 crore has been allocated to this scheme.
  • This scheme will be on pilot basis for next 6 months and will be expanded and extended accordingly.
  • The scheme will provide 50% subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets. It will also provide 50% subsidy on storage including cold storages.
  • It is expected to result in better price realization to farmers, reduced wastages as well as affordability of products for consumers. Governance & Administrative Reforms 9. Amendment in Essential Commodities Act
  • Essential Commodities Act was enacted in 1955. Government of India has decided to amend the Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers. This will be done by attracting investments and making agriculture sector competitive.
  • Agriculture food stuffs including cereals, edible oils, oil seeds, pulses, onions and potato to be deregulated.
  • Stock limit will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances such as national calamities, famine with surge in prices, while no such stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participant, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the export demand.

10. Agriculture Marketing Reforms

  • Government of India has decided to formulate a central law to provide adequate choices to farmer to sell produce at attractive price, a barrier free InterState Trade, and a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce.

11. Agriculture Produce Price and Quality Assurance

  • Government of India has decided to create a facilitative legal framework to enable farmers for engaging with processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters etc. in a fair and transparent manner. The integral part of the legal framework will include risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns and quality standardisation.

Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Statement for 2020-21

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to advance the Bi-monthly Monetary Policy meet which was scheduled to be held on 03rd June 2020 and the announcement was meant to be made on 05th June 2020.

The meeting was advanced to 20th, 21st and 22nd May 2020. During the Monetary Policy meet, the MPC analysed the current & evolving macroeconomic and financial conditions and has decided to take a accommodative stance and hence reduced the policy repo rate to revive growth as well as to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

With its decisions, MPC aims to keep inflation within the target and hence to preserve financial stability. The key decisions taken in the Monetary Policy Committee meeting are:

  • The repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) has been reduced by 40 basis points from 4.40% to 4.00%.
  • The reverse repo rate under the LAF has been reduced by 40 basis points from 3.75% to 3.35%.
  • The marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate have been reduced from 4.65% to 4.25%.

Some more announcements from the press conference held by the Reserve Bank of India:

  • A special refinance facility of Rs 15,000 crore to SIDBI was offered by the Reserve Bank of India. It was made available at RBI’s policy repo rate for a period of 90 days for onlending/refinancing. To provide greater flexibility to SIDBI, RBI has decided to roll over the facility at the end of the 90th day for another period of 90 days.
  • To enable EXIM bank (Export–Import Bank of India) to meet its foreign currency resource requirements, RBI has decided to extend a line of credit of Rs 15,000 crore to the EXIM Bank for a period of 90 days (with rollover up to one year) in order to enable it to avail a US dollar swap facility.
  • Earlier on two separate occasions (March 27 and April 17, 2020), the RBI had earlier announced following regulatory measures:
    • (a) granting of 3 months moratorium on term loan instalments
    • (b) deferment of interest for 3 months on working capital facilities
    • (c) easing of working capital financing requirements by reducing margins or reassessment of working capital cycle
    • (d) exemption from being classified as ‘defaulter’ in supervisory reporting and reporting to credit information companies
    • (e) extension of resolution timelines for stressed assets
    • (f) asset classification standstill by excluding the moratorium period of 3 months, etc. by lending institutions.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has decided to extend the above measures by another three months i.e. from June 1, 2020 till August 31, 2020, hence taking the total period of applicability of the measures to six months (i.e. from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020).
  • The lending institutions are also permitted to restore the margins for working capital to their original levels by March 31, 2021. Similarly, the measures pertaining to reassessment of working capital cycle are being extended up to March 31, 2021.

Nikkei Asia Prize 2020

An IIT Madras Professor Thalappil Pradeep has been selected for the Nikkei Asia Prize 2020 in the category of 'Science and Technology' for his pioneering work in nanotechnology-based water purification.

The Nikkei Asia Prizes recognizes those individuals who have contributed to the region’s sustainable development and to a creation of a better future of Asia.

The prize is conferred annually in three areas i.e.

“Economic and Business Innovation“,

“Science and Technology”, and

“Culture and Community”.

Complete list of winners of the prize is as follows:

  • Science and Technology: Professor Thalappil Pradeep (India)
  • Culture and Community: Ram Prasad Kadel (Nepal)
  • Economic and Business Innovation: Anthony Tan (Malaysia) & Tan Hooi Ling (Malaysia)

Union Cabinet Approves Multiple Schemes

Union Cabinet Approves

“Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises”

“Scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises” has been approved by the Union Cabinet. “Scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises” is a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme that was announced recently by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a part of 3rd tranche of of Economic Relief Package for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”. It has been announced for the Unorganized Sector on All India basis with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore, the expenditure of which will be borne by the Government Of India and the States in ratio of 60:40.

Objective of “Scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises”: “Scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises” is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme which has been announced to benefit 2,00,000 microenterprises, Farmer producer organisations, Self Help Groups as well as the cooperatives.
It has the following objectives:

  • To increase the accessibility of finance to the micro food processing units.
  • To increase in revenues of target enterprises.
  • To enhance compliance with food quality and safety standards.
  • To strengthen capacities of support systems.
  • To convert the unorganized sector to the formal sector.
  • To encourage Waste to Wealth activities.

Centre launches scheme to solarise Konark sun temple & Konark town

  • A scheme has been launched by the central governemnt for complete solarization of Konark Sun Temple and Konark town in Odisha to develop the historical Sun Temple town of Konark as Surya Nagri.
  • As a part of scheme, 10 Mega Watt grid connected solar project along with various solar off-grid applications such as solar trees and solar drinking water kiosks would be set up in the area.
  • Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency would be responsible for the implementation of this project.
  • For the execution of project, Government of India will provide a 100% Central Financial Assistance (CFA) support of around Rs 25 Crores through Ministry of New & Renewable Energy

“The Saras Collection” launched on Government e-Marketplace portal

“The Saras Collection” has been launched on the Government e-Marketplace portal by the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar.

The new initiative has been launched with an objective to provide Self Help Groups in rural areas with market access to Central as well as State Government buyers.
About “The Saras Collection” “The Saras Collection” is a unique initiative of Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development.

Under this initiative, the daily utility products made by rural selfhelp groups (SHGs) are exhibited and provided with the market access to Central and State Government buyers.
According to initiative, the products of the SHG sellers can be listed in 5 product categories, i.e.:

  • Handicrafts
  • Handloom
  • Office accessories
  • Grocery and pantry
  • Personal care and hygiene

Pulitzer Prize 2020

Indian journalists wins Pulitzer Prize 2020 in feature photography Indian journalists namely Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand have been honoured with the 2020 Pulitzer Prize. These journalists have won the award in the field of feature photography. All the three journalists belongs to Associated Press. They have been awarded for the lockdown coverage. The Pulitzer announced that the Indian journalists have been awarded for the contested territory of Kashmir as India revoked its independence, executed through a communications blackout. The Pulitzer Prize is considered as the highest honour that United States-based journalists and organisations can receive.

African Swine Fever in India

Outbreak of African Swine Fever in India

  • Assam has noted the first instance of African swine fever in the country. The outbreak of African Swine Fever(AFS) amid the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 2900 domestic pigs across 306 villages of the state. It is being noted that the swine fever was started in April 2019 at a village in Xizang province of China bordering Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier in April, there were reported deaths of pigs dying from the classical swine fever (CSF).
  • ASF and CSF are different from Swine flu (HINI) and do not affect humans. CSF can be prevented by proper vaccination but there is no vaccination for ASF. The ASF mortality rate is almost 100%.

Global Energy Review 2020

International Energy Agency (IEA) Releases “Global Energy Review 2020” International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its report with title “Global Energy Review 2020”. This report comprises of estimates for how energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions trends are expected to develop over the rest of 2020.

Key findings of the Global Energy Review 2020:

The report forecasts that energy demand will fall down by 6% in 2020 i.e. seven times the decline after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Due to the crisis posed by COVID-19 pandemic, demand of all fuels will be affected in the following manner:

  • Oil demand is expected to drop by 9% which will return oil consumption to 2012 levels. • Coal demand is expected to decline by 8%.
  • Gas demand has been projected to fall much further across the 2020 accompanied by reduced demand in power and industry applications.
  • Nuclear power demand would also face downfall of 3% in response to lower electricity demand.
  • Renewables demand is expected to increase due to low operating costs as well as preferential access to many power systems. Hence, it will be the only energy source that will grow in 2020.
  • It has been forecasted that global demand for biofuels is set to drop substantially in 2020 due to restrictions on transport and travel reduce road transport fuel demand, including for blended fuels.
  • The report has also projected that electricity demand will fall by 5% globally.


UNICEF Publishes “LOST AT HOME” Report “LOST AT HOME” report is published by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The report says that almost 33 million new displacements were recorded in 2019 in which around 25 million were due to natural disasters and 8.5 million as a consequence of conflict and violence.

According to the report, there were 12 million new displacements involving children, including around 3.8 million of them caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million due to disasters linked mostly to weather-related events.According to the report, natural disasters resulted in more new displacements than conflict and violence.Almost 10 million new displacements in 2019 were recorded in East Asia and the Pacific (39 %) — and almost the same number in South Asia (9.5 million).

The report looks at the risks internally displaced children face in which child labour, child marriage, trafficking among them — and the actions urgently needed to protect them.

  • India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and China all suffered from natural disasters leading to displacement in the millions, which accounted for 69% of global disaster-induced displacements.
  • These were overwhelmingly caused by extreme conditions created by dangerous storms and floods.
  • In India, the total number of new internal displacements in 2019 stood at 5,037,000: 5,018,000 due to natural disasters and 19,000 because of conflict and violence.


  • India is closely followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh and China.
  • The Philippines alone accounted for 4.27 million new internal displacements due to natural disasters, conflict and violence, Bangladesh 4.08 million and China 4.03 million.
  • The largest number of internally displaced children due to conflict is found in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Internally displaced persons are concentrated in two regions: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and West and Central Africa.
  • The Middle East and North Africa region recorded over 12 million internally displaced people as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2019. Almost all of them lived in just three countries: Syria, Yemen, and Iraq and around 5 million were children.
  • This includes 2.4 million children. Together with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.9 million) and Yemen (1.7 million), these three countries account for one in three (36 %) of all children internally displaced due to conflict and violence, it said.

State Of The World’s Nursing Report 2020

WHO Releases “State Of The World’s Nursing Report 2020” The “State Of The World’s Nursing Report-2020” has been released by the World Health Organization.
The report outlines the role and contributions of nurses with respect to the WHO “triple billion” targets. This is the first State of the world’s nursing report and it presents much to celebrate about the nursing workforce.

The report has been developed by the World Health Organization in partnership with the International Council of Nurses and the global Nursing Now campaign along with the support of governments and wider partners.

Key findings of the report:

  • According to the report, nursing is the largest occupational group in the health sector which accounts for around 59% of the health professionals.
  • It states that the global nursing workforce is 27.9 million, of which 19.3 million are professional nurses.
  • The global shortage of nurses, estimated to be 5.9 million nurses in 2018.
  • It also identified the ageing health workforce patterns in some regions which is threatening the stability of the nursing stock.
  • To address the shortage of nurses by 2030 in all countries, the report suggested an increase of total number of nurse graduates by 8% per year on average including an improved capacity to employ and retain these graduates.
  • It also identifies that the nursing remains a highly gendered profession with associated biases in the workplace.

What is Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) has been recently approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The scheme has been stated to be implemented from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25 i.e. for a period of 5-years in all States/Union Territories.

As the name suggests, PMMSY is a fisher centric umbrella scheme in which the key stakeholders would be fishers, fish farmers, fish workers and fish vendors. PMMSY is a scheme which has been launched by the central government to bring about Blue Revolution via sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India.

The scheme intends to address critical shortfalls in the fish production as well as productivity, technology, modernisation and strengthening of value chain, traceability, quality, etc.
Implementation Of The Scheme:

Following will act as the End Implementing Agencies for the implementation of PMMSY:

  • Central Government and its entities such as National Fisheries Development Board
  • State/Union Territory Government as well as their entities such as state fisheries development board
  • Any other End Implementing Agencies as decided by the Department of Fisheries.

Beneficiaries of the PMMSY:

  • PMMSY will have a very wide coverage and will include the following as the beneficiaries: Fishers, fish farmers, fisheries development corporations, Self Help Groups, Fisheries Federations, fish workers and fish vendors, fish farmers producer organisations, etc.

Impact Of The PMMSY:

  • The investment of Rs 20,050 crores is the highest ever amount allocated for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector. PMMSY is expected to enhance the fish production from 13.75 million metric tons (2018-19) to 22 million metric tons (2024-25). It also envisages to double the export earnings by 2024-25 to about Rs 1,00,000 crores, hence doubling the incomes of fishers as well as the fish farmers. The huge amount of investment in the sector will also generate about 55 lakhs of gainful employment opportunities along with supply and value chain.

Economy Current Affairs

  • Moody’s cuts down India’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth to “zero” for the current fiscal 2020-21. Its previous estimate was 2.6%. In 2021-22 India’s GDP growth rate will bounce back to 6.6%.
  • S&P Global Ratings has slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 5% in the Fiscal Year 2021.
  • Fitch Ratings has released its latest Global Economic Outlook (GEO). Fitch Ratings has slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 5% for the Fiscal Year 2021. While the Global GDP growth rate has been forecasted to fall by 4.6% in 2020.
  • India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.2% in 2019-20, according to data released recently by the National Statistical Office.

International Current Affairs

  • Russia has planned to launch the 1st satellite named Arktika-M to monitor the Arctic climate and environment by the end of 2020. The launch will take place on Soyuz -2,1b carrier rocket with frigate booster.
  • Former intelligence chief of Iraq Mustafa al-Kadhimi becomes new Iraqi prime minister. Former PM AdilAbdul Mahdi resigned in November last year.
  • China has successfully launched a new rocket named “Long March 5B” into space as it steps up Moon landing plans. This rocket is launched in Wenchang launch site that is located on the island of Hainan, china.
  • Government of Iran recently took a decision of changing the name of its currency to a “Toman”. Under the bill, Iran national currency is going to be changed from the rial to the Toman, which is adequate to 10,000 rials.
  • Slovenia has become the 1st coronavirus-free country in Europe.
  • The Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) has developed ‘iFeel-You’ bracelet for social distancing, and will help users respect social distancing rules.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) have jointly released commemorative Postage Stamp on the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox.
  • World Health Organisation will initiate Independent Inquiry in the handling of COVID-19 and hence it will launch “Resolution on COVID-19 response” to put an end to the international blame game in the origin of COVID-19. The resolution was taken at the 73rd World Health Assembly that was held through video conference. India was represented by the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national elections, securing a record fifth term in office, after a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz.
  • China has announced to provide USD 2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic at WHO assembly.
  • Lesotho Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane has formally resigned from the post. Lesotho’s Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro has been named by parliament as the interim PM of the country.
  • UNICEF and Airtel Africa has partnered to support children & families affected in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to provide children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families through mobile cash transfers.
  • European Union proposed 750 billion Euros as COVID-19 recovery fund to help the countries to recover from deep recession caused by the COVID-19. The money would be divided in the following manner: 500 billion euros given to EU countries as grants while the remaining 250 billion euros would be available as loans.

National News

  • Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) has been launched by the Ministry of Coal (MoC) to facilitate early operationalisation of coal mines which have been allocated by the Central Government.
  • National Council for Science & Technology Communication and Department of Science & Technology has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on COVID-19.
  • Government of India has increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) of 49 items. The increase in MSP across various items of minor forest produce varies from 16% to 66%.
  • CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI) has developed “Kisan Sabha App” to connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation management system.
  • Nation celebrates 480th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap on 9 May. He was Born on 9 May, 1540.
  • National e-commerce marketplace ‘bharatmarket’ will be launched by the traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). ‘Bharatmarket’ will be launched for all retail traders, by CAIT in collaboration with several technology partners.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti has jointly organised an IDEAthon on “The future of River Management’ with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).
  • Bamboo Conclave was held through Video Conference and featured the participation of representatives of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), the Union Ministry of Agriculture and various other stakeholders from different sectors.
  • Chandigarh government has launched a new mobile app named “CHDCOVID” to provide COVID-19 related information. The app has been developed in-house by the Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC).
  • NITI Aayog has virtually launched a campaign titled as “Surakshit Dada-Dadi & Nana-Nani Abhiyan”, in association with Piramal Foundation to protect senior citizens during COVID-19. The campaign targets to cover 2.9 million senior citizens in 25 #AspirationalDistricts across various states such as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan & Uttar Pradesh.
  • Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Alumni Council has launched a “COVID-19 test bus” in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It will reduce 80% of the testing cost without compromising on the testing capacity.
  • Styrene gas leaked from LG Polymers Plant in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The changes in temperature inside a storage tank resulted in a leak.
  • Government of India has launched its biggest-ever evacuation exercises named the “Vande Bharat Mission” in which the government will bring back nearly 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Union Health & Family Welfare Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has recently launched the mobile application ‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ App and two AYUSH based studies related to COVID-19 situation.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has inaugurated new 80-km road in Uttarakhand which connects close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and opens a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra via Lipulekh Pass. Border Roads Organisation achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route.
  • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has approved a loan worth of $500 million for India’s ‘COVID-19 Emergency Response.
  • Government of India has started “Mission Sagar” to provide assistance to Eastern Indian Ocean Region Nations amid the coronavirus crisis. The mission is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). Under the mission, Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari has been deployed.
  • Supreme Court of India's bench of 5-judge, headed by Justice Arun Mishra has ruled that the provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, will now be applicable to state and multi-state cooperative banks.
  • “CHAMPIONS (Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength)” portal has been launched by the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). It aims to make the smaller units big.
  • Emergency Assistance Program Loan of USD 1 billion has been approved by the New Development Bank (NDB) to India to support India in its attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
  • Indian Railways has made the Aarogya Setu app mandatory for the passengers to travel by train.
  • An assistance of $3.6 million to India has been committed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance India’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank has announced $1 billion social protection package for India.
  • The COBAS 6800 is the first fully automated, highend machine for performing RT-PCR tests for COVID19, procured by the Government of India for testing COVID-19 cases and has been installed at the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi.
  • “GOAL (Going Online As Leaders)” programme has been launched recently to offer mentorship to tribal youth via digital mode and intends to act as a catalyst to explore hidden talents of the tribal youth. It is a joint initiative of Facebook India with Ministry of Tribal affairs.
  • The Government of India flagship social security scheme ‘Atal Pension Yojana’ (APY) has successfully completed five years of implementation.
  • An online dashboard “National Migrant Information System (NMIS)” has been developed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to secure information regarding the movement of migrants and to facilitate the smooth movement of stranded persons across States.
  • India has provided USD 2 million aid for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees. This aid is given for UNRWA core programmes and services, including education and health, amidst the coronavirus crisis.
  • Ministry of Human Resources Development has launched a new mobile application called “National Test Abhyas” that was developed by the National Testing Agency to help the candidates to take mock tests for exams such as JEE Mains, NEET, etc.
  • Indian Railways has operationalised its 1st 12,000 hp electric Locomotive- WAG12. The loco is named WAG12 with Number 60027. This Locomotive has manufactured by Madhepura Electric Loco Factory in Bihar.
  • IGNOU’s Online Master’s Programme in Hindi has been launched by the Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ via Facebook Live session.
  • As part of rehabilitation package, the Government of India has announced financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for cyclone hit West Bengal along with an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the dead, and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
  • As part of rehabilitation package, the Government of India has announced financial assistance of Rs 500 crore for cyclone hit Odisha along with an exgratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the dead, and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
  • Ministry of Minority Affairs flagship programme ‘Hunar Haat’ will restart from September 2020 with the theme of “Local to Global”. There will be a special “Jaan Bhi, Jahaan Bhi” pavilion to create health awareness among the people with the theme of “Say no to panic, yes to precautions”.
  • Department of Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan has organized a webinar on “Van Dhan Scheme: Learnings for post COVID-19” in assciation with TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India.
  • TRIFED has partnered with UNICEF to initiate “Van Dhan Samajik Doori Jagrookta Abhiyaan“ under which tribals will be provided with relevant information regarding COVID-19 along with several guidelines, nationwide and state-specific webinars and instructions on safety measures to be followed.
  • Union Minister for Road Transport, Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated the 440 metre-long tunnel as part of the Chardham Connectivity Project in Chamba. The tunnel has been developed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
  • Manipur’s “Khudol” has been listed among the top 10 global initiatives for an inclusive fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The listing was done by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
  • Indian Navy has formed “NavRakshak” PPE kit with innovative breathable fabric material to provide comfort to healthcare workers working against COVID-19 pandemic wearing multi-layered coverall PPE treating patients within the hot and humid condition. This PPE kit made by Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Arnab Ghosh.
  • Former Supreme Court judge Justice, A K Sikri has inaugurated the Indian Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) in New Delhi that will provide a completely paperless dispute resolution environment. The centre offers offline as well as e-alternate dispute resolution (ADR) facility through its state-of-the-art earbitration, e-meditation and e-conciliation software portal.
  • India has handover the war game centre named as “INDIA” to Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF). The centre was conceptualised by the Indian Military Team and built by the IAU in Jinja district, at a cost of over 1 billion Ugandan shillings or $2,65,000.

Defence Current Affairs

  • Lieutenant General Raj Shukla has assumed the command of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC).
  • An operation named “Samudra Setu” has been launched by the Indian Navy. “Samudra Setu” means “Sea Bridge”. This operation is a part of India’s effort to bring back Indian citizens who are stranded overseas amid COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh has commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship "Sachet" and 2 interceptor boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451 in Goa.
  • Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) has been approved by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with an outlay of Rs 400 crore. It has been approved to offer private sector defence and aerospace companies affordable facilities to test as well as validate the weaponry designed by them.
  • Landing Craft Utility Ship ‘INLCU L57’ commissioned into Indian Navy in Port Blair. It has been built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE). The “INLCU L57” is the seventh LCU Mark IV class warship.
  • Tejas Mk-1 FOC aircraft has been inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) into the recently resurrected No 18 Squadron the “Flying Bullets” at Air Force Station Sulur.
  • The Army Commanders’ Conference commenced in New Delhi to brainstorm on current emerging security as well as administrative challenges, and will also find out the future course for Indian Army.
  • The foundation stone for a missile park “Agneeprastha” was laid at INS Kalinga, Naval base in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

Science and Technology

  • The Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune has developed microwave steriliser named as “ATULYA” to disintegrate the COVID-19 virus with the help of differential heating.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR’s Scientific Instruments Organisation, Chandigarh has developed an Electrostatic Disinfection Machine which is effective in the disinfection and sanitization and has been developed to fight with COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 17-year-old, Indian-origin girl, Vaneeza Rupani has been honoured of naming the NASA’s 1st Mars helicopter ‘Ingenuity’. she submitted her essay into NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest.
  • An Ultra Violet (UV) Disinfection Tower has been developed by the Laser Science & Technology Centre (LASTEC), a premier laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation. It has been developed to achieve rapid and chemical free disinfection of high infection prone areas.
  • Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) has inked pact with IIT Kanpur to make large-scale ventilators developed by NOCCA Robotics (incubated start-up of IIT Kanpur).
  • Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has tiedup with Bharat Biotech to develop indigenous COVID-19 vaccine.
  • DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat lab, Hyderabad has developed an automated contactless UVC sanitisation cabinet named Defence Research Ultraviolet Sanitiser (DRUVS) to sanitise mobile phones, iPods, laptops, currency notes, cheque leafs etc.
  • India’s first indigenous antibody testing kit “ELISA” has been successfully developed by the National Institute of Virology, Pune. It consists of a blood test whict detects antibodies in the blood to find out if an individual was infected with COVID-19 infection or not. Hence, the test has been named as “COVID KAVACH ELISA”.
  • A Non Invasive BiPAP Ventilator “SwasthVayu” has been developed by CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • The Sundaram Ventago is a low-cost, automated respiratory assist device which has been developed jointly by the TVS group, Sundaram Medical Foundation and IIT-Madras.
  • An interactive dashboard “MIR AHD Covid-19 Dashboard” has been developed by the researchers at IIT Gandhinagar, to provide key information to stakeholders and the public in order to make research-backed decisions during the time of crisis.
  • International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram have jointly developed new generation IronManganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.
  • Two mobile indoor Disinfection Sprayer units namely Pneumatically Operated Mobile Indoor Disinfection (POMID), and Battery Powered Disinfectant Sprayer (BPDS) have been developed by the scientists at CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur.
  • An accelerator programme branded as “H.A.C.K” has been launched by the Karnataka’s Centre of Excellence in cyber security (CySecK).
  • NASA has renamed its next-generation space telescope “Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)”, which is set to launch in 2025, in honour of Nancy Grace Roman.