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Current Affairs - May 2020

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Current Affairs

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy

Government of India reviews extant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy The Government of India has reviewed the extant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy. This amendment in the FDI policy has been made to curb the opportunistic takeovers/acquisitions of Indian companies due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this objective, the Government of India has amended the para 3.1.1 of extant FDI policy as contained in “Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017″. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has officially issued a notice regarding the changes in the para 3.1.1 of the “Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017” with “Press Note No. 3(2020 Series)”. Here is the old as well as the new statements under para 3.1.1 of “Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017”.

  • About the existing rules: Present Position According to the Chapter: 3 of the Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017, under the section titled “Eligible investors”, para 3.1.1 states that: A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited. However, a citizen of Bangladesh or an entity incorporated in Bangladesh can invest only under the Government route. Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment.
  • After the amendments in the Para 3.1.1 of the Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017, para 3.1.1 (2020 Series) states that: Revised Position 3.1.1(a) A non-resident entity can invest in India, subject to the FDI Policy except in those sectors/activities which are prohibited. However, an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route. Further, a citizen of Pakistan or an entity incorporated in Pakistan can invest, only under the Government route, in sectors/activities other than defence, space, atomic energy and sectors/activities prohibited for foreign investment. 3.1.1(b) In the event of the transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an entity in India, directly or indirectly, resulting in the beneficial ownership falling within the restriction/purview of the para 3.1.1(a), such subsequent change in beneficial ownership will also require Government approval.

The above revision in the para 3.1.1 of the “Consolidated FDI Policy, 2017” is supposed to be implemented from the date of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) notification.

RBI announces measures to mitigate impact of COVID-19

Reserve Bank of India has announced a set of measures to mitigate the effect of COVID-19. RBI has kept in view the following objectives in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Indian economy:

  • To maintain adequate liquidity in the system and its constituents in the face of Covid-19 related dislocations.
  • To facilitate & incentivise bank credit flows.
  • To ease the financial stress.
  • To enable the formal functioning of markets & to fulfil the above objectives, the Reserve Bank of India has taken the following measures:
  • RBI has decided to undertake targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO-2.0) for total amount of Rs 50,000 crore to begin with in tranches of appropriate sizes. RBI might increase this amount in future as per requirement.
  • The funds availed by banks under TLTRO-2.0 should be invested in grade bonds, Commercial Papers, Nonconvertible Debentures of NBFCs with at least 50% going to mid-sized NBFCs and MFIs.
  • RBI has announced the allocation of Rs 50,000 crore as special refinance facilities to All India financial institutions (AIFIs) such as NABARD, SIDBI, and NHB to enable them to meet sectorial credit needs. These advances to the above organizations will be charged as per the RBI policy repo rate of 4.40%. Out of total allocation of Rs 50,000 crore, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will receive the amount of Rs 25,000 crore for the refinancing of Regional Rural Banks, cooperative banks and microfinance institutions.
  • Out of total allocation of Rs 50,000 crore, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will receive Rs 15,000 crore or on-lending and refinancing to scheduled commercial banks, nonbanks and microfinance institutions.
  • The National Housing Bank will receive Rs 10,000 crore to support housing finance companies.
  • RBI has also decided to reduce the reverse repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 4% to 3.75% with immediate effect while the policy repo rate will remain unchanged at 4.4%, Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rate and the Bank rate will remain unchanged at 4.65%.
  • To provide greater comfort to the states for undertaking COVID-19 containment and mitigation efforts, the RBI has increased the ways and means advances (WMA) limit of states by 60% over and above the level as on March 31, 2020. The increased limit will be available till September 30, 2020.
  • In respect of all accounts for which lending institutions decide to grant moratorium or deferment, and which were standard as on March 1, 2020, it has been decided that the 90-day NPA norm shall exclude the moratorium period. It indicates that there would an asset classification standstill for all such accounts from March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020.
  • RBI decides to extend the period for resolution plan by 90-days, citing the challenges faced during the resolution of stressed assets in the current volatile environment.
  • In view of the COVID-19 related economic shocks, the RBI has refrained the scheduled commercial banks and cooperative banks from making any further dividend payouts from profits pertaining to the financial year ended March 31, 2020 until the further instructions. To ease the liquidity position at the level of individual institutions, the RBI has brought down the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) requirement for Scheduled Commercial Banks from 100% to 80% with immediate effect.

Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 extended for one year

The Government of India has granted the extension to the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) by another one year i.e. up to 31st March, 2021. The FTP was implemented on 1st April, 2015 for 5 years and was valid up to 31st March, 2020. The decision to extend the validity of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) was taken in view of the unprecedented current situation arising out of the pandemic Novel COVID-19. Some key changes made by Union Commerce and Industry Ministry in the FTP are as follows:

  • Benefit under all the Export Promotion Schemes except SEIS, available as on date, will remain available for another 12 months i.e. up to 31st March, 2021.
  • Validity period of the Status Holder Certificates is also extended.
  • Exemption from payment of IGST and Compensation Cess on the imports made under Advance/EPCG Authorisations and by EOUs etc. has been extended till 31st March, 2021.
  • The scheme for providing “Transport Marketing Assistance on the specified Agricultural Products” has been extended for one year.
  • Extension in time has been allowed for filing various Reports/Returns etc. under various provisions of the FTP.
  • Last dates for applying for various duty credit Scrips (MEIS/SEIS/ROSCTL) and other Authorisations have been extended.

Asian Development Bank releases Asian Development Outlook 2020

  • The Asian Development Bank has released its annual economic publication “Asian Development Outlook 2020”. In its annual flagship economic publication “Asian Development Outlook 2020”, the Asian Development Bank has projected India’s growth to slow down to 4% in the current fiscal year i.e. 2020-2021. The ADB has cited weak global demand and the government’s novel coronavirus containment efforts for the slowdown in Indian economy.
  • While for fiscal year 2021-2022, the Asian Development Bank has projected India’s growth to strengthen to 6.2%, boosted by government reforms. The Asian Development Bank has also estimated the growth in South Asia to decelerate to 4.1% in the fiscal year 2020-2021, hence will face a milder slowdown. Although, the bank expects the growth in South Asia to recover to 6% in the fiscal year 2021- 2022.

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% salary cut due to the impact of the novel coronavirus.

  • Indian President, Vice President and all state governors have voluntarily decided to take a 30% salary cut for a year in view of the coronavirus outbreak and the expected downturn in the economy. 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.
  • Rs 7,900 crore from the MPLADS scheme will go to Consolidated Fund of India. The Rs 10 crore from each MPLAD fund will now go to the Consolidated Fund of India for “managing health and the adverse impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 in India”. India is under a 21-day nationwide lockdown to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Twitter CEO pledges $1 billion to combat COVID-19 pandemic

  • Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Jack Dorsey has pledged to donate $1 billion to charities working towards combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic. The donation of $1 billion by the Twitter CEO seems to be the largest donation pledged by a private individual in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To fulfil the donation amount of $1 billion, Jack Dorsey will move $1 billion of his digital payments group “Square” equity i.e. 28% of his wealth, to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief.

GoI sanctions Rs. 15000 crores package to boost health infrastructure

Government of India (GoI) has announced to allocate Rs. 15000 crores for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’. The funds sanctioned will be utilized for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response (amount of Rs.7774 crores) and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years) to be provided under mission mode approach. The key objectives of the package:

  • The Package includes mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COVID-19 dedicated treatment facilities, centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks, setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities, biosecurity preparedness, pandemic research and proactively engage communities and conduct risk communication activities.
  • The funds will also help in increasing the production of PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment), ventilators, ICU and other essential equipment.
  • These interventions and initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

‘Operation SHIELD’ launched in Delhi

The Operation SHIELD has been launched by the Delhi Government in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the national capital. This will be implemented in 21 containment areas.

In the Operation SHIELD:

S stands for: Sealing of area
H stands for: Home quarantine
I stands for: Isolation of infected patients
E stands for: Essential services ensured
L stands for: Local sanitisation
D stands for: Door to door survey.

The Delhi government has made it mandatory for the people of Delhi to wear masks while stepping out of their houses.

India Ranks 142nd in World Press Freedom Index 2020

The 2020 World Press Freedom Index has been released by Reporters without Borders (RSF). The Reporters Without Borders has evaluated the situation for journalists in 180 countries and territories and indicated the results in 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The 2020 World Press Freedom index states that the world is entering in a decisive decade for journalism linked to crises that affect its future. Key findings of the World Press Freedom Index 2020:

  • Norway has topped the World Press Freedom Index 2020. Norway was placed on the top for the fourth year in a row. Apart from Norway at the top, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands also finished as the top 5 rankers of the index. North Korea took the last position from Turkmenistan and hence finished 180th in the index.
  • India was ranked 142nd in the index while Pakistan and China were placed at 145th and 177th position respectively.
  • When it comes to region wise results, Europe persists as the most favourable continent for media freedom, followed by America and Africa.

IMF releases “World Economic Outlook”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released the “World Economic Outlook” report. “World Economic Outlook” report is being published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) twice a year. Here are the latest projections published in the “World Economic Outlook” report:

  • IMF has reduced India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate from 5.8% to 1.9% in the fiscal year 2020-21. It has also stated that India’s GDP will show recovery in the next financial year with the growth rate of 7.4%.
  • IMF has projected that the world economy will contract sharply by 3% in 2020, overshadowing the damages caused by the 2008–09 financial crisis.
  • IMF has projected China’s economy to grow at the growth rate of 1.2% in the fiscal year 2020-21 while it will grow at 9.2% in the fiscal year 2021-22.

“National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India”

The “National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India” has been launched by the Union Minister for Culture (I/C) Prahlad Singh Patel. The “National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India”, which is a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture, raises awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different parts of India at national as well as international level. It also recognizes the diversity of Indian culture instilled in its intangible heritage and aims to ensure its protection. The National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India has been classified in the following 5 broad domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage
  • Performing arts • Social practices, rituals and festive events • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
  • Traditional craftsmanship The National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India has been classified in the above 5 broad domains keeping in view the UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Cabinet Approves Ordinance to Amend Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The above step has been taken to protect the healthcare service personnel as well as property including their living/working premises against the violence during epidemics. The promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 has been approved by the cabinet, keeping in view the recent instances of the most critical service providers i.e. members of healthcare services being targeted and attacked by miscreants, thereby obstructing them from doing their duties during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019

SIPRI releases report “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released its report “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019”. The report released by SIPRI analysed the global military spending in 2019. The report stated that the global military spending in 2019 was 2.2% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) i.e. 7.2% higher in 2019 than it was in 2010. Key findings of the report “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019”:

  • The total global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019 i.e. an increase of 3.6% from 2018.
  • The top 5 largest spenders in 2019 were: United States ($732 billion), China ($261 billion), India ($71.1 billion), Russia ($65.1 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 billion).
  • This is the first instance when two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders.
  • India spent $71.1 billion on defence in 2019 which is 2.4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), rising from 4th position in 2018 to 3rd in 2019.

Open Budget Index 2019

The International Budget Partnership has released the 7th edition of the Open Budget Survey 2019. The survey was conducted by the International Budget Partnership as a part of its Open Budget Initiative. In Open Budget Survey 2019, every country is given a score ranging from 0 to 100 based on the simple average of the responses to 109 questions reflecting an assessment of 8 key budget documents that should be accessible to the people of country during the budget cycle. In OBS 2019, the global average transparency score was 45 out of 100, stating that score of around 75% of the surveyed countries lying at insufficient levels.

Banking and Financial Current Affairs

  • State Bank of India has listed green bonds of $100 million (about Rs 750 crore) on BSE’s India International Exchange (India INX).
  • Reserve Bank of India has launched a twitter campaign urging bank customers to adopt digital modes of payment that are convenient and safe.

RBI emphasised on transacting digitally as it gives the convenience of making payments anytime and anywhere. Through the campaign, RBI reiterated the multiple digital payment options such as NEFT, IMPS, UPI and BBPS that are available 24*7. The face of the campaign is Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.

  • Jana Small Finance Bank has launched “DigiGen” a digital banking platform where customers can digitally open a savings account and fixed deposit instantly, anytime, anywhere.

Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the extension of tenure of all members and the current part-time chairman of the Bank Board Bureau (BBB) by 2 years, which is coming to an end on April 11, 2020.

  • The licence of the Mapusa Urban Co-operative Bank of Goa Ltd. has been cancelled by the Reserve Bank of India with an order, barring the bank to carry on banking business, with effect from the close of business on April 16, 2020.
  • State Bank of India has made an announcement to waive service charges for all ATM transactions made on SBI ATMs and on the other bank ATMs on account of exceeding the free number of transactions up to 30th June 2020.
  • People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has raised its stake in Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) from 0.8% to 1.01%. The stakes comprises of 17.49 million shares of the the country’s largest mortgage lender HDFC.
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance has become 1st life Insurance Company in India to announce additional benefits related to COVID-19 for Policyholders and Agents at no additional cost.
  • HDFC Bank has started #HDFCBankSafetyGrid campaign to encourage social distancing in Public places.
  • Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) bank starts a new feature of voice banking services on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for their customers. The service will enable customers to #BankWithTheirVoice and get answers to banking queries, check account balance & transactions, credit card due date and more.
  • Special borrowing scheme has been launched by the Indian Overseas Bank for self-help groups (SHGs) to help the SHGs in order to overcome the difficulties posed by COVID-19. Each member of a self-help group can avail a maximum loan amount of Rs 5,000 while there is a cap of Rs 1 lakh for the group.
  • Under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Banking Industry has been declared by the Government of India as a “Public Utility Service” for a period of 6 months i.e. till 21st October 2020. For 6 months, the banking sector would not see any strikes by the employees or officers.
  • Reserve Bank of India has given its approval to Transcorp International Ltd to issue co-branded prepaid cards, hence it has become one of the first non-bank companies to receive approval to enter into co-branding arrangements for Prepaid Instruments.

International Current Affairs

  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has announced the appointment of a group of experts to support his work in a reflection process to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension.
  • United States has announced $2.9 million aid for India through the US Agency for International Development to help India in its fight against COVID19 and to also provide care for those who are affected and help the local communities with the tools to stop the pandemic spreading in the country.
  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Development Fund (SDF) has allocated $5 million for COVID-19 related projects in its member states.
  • Asian Development Bank assured of $2.2 billion (about Rs 16,500 crore) support package to India to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Asian Development Bank has increased the size of its COVID-19 Response Package from $6.5 billion to $20 Billion as ADB’s response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva has named a group of prominent individuals to serve as her new External Advisory Group which includes former RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan.
  • The Lebanese parliament has passed the legislation to legalize the cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial purposes. Earlier, the farming of cannabis was illegal in Lebanon, but now the cannabis farming would be regulated within the country.
  • Iran has successfully launched its first-ever military satellite named “Noor” into the orbit. This satellite is launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], a branch of the country’s armed forces.
  • G-20 has launched an “Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator” under the presidency of Saudi Arabia to improve connections as well as to leverage interdependencies for collective partnership, mobilizing, problem-solving, and guiding investments for new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics as well as vaccines.
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has abolished the death penalty for crimes committed by minors.

National News

  • Department of Science & Technology, Government of India has approved to set up a rapid response centre “Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID19 Health Crisis (CAWACH)” at a total cost of Rs 56 Crore at Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay.
  • Naval Dockyard at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh has designed ‘Portable Multi-feed Oxygen Manifold (MOM)’ to supply oxygen to multiple patients at a time, which could be helpful in a contingency created by COVID-19 spread.
  • National Cadet Corps has offered its volunteer cadets for national duty to fight COVID-19 under ‘Exercise NCC Yogdan’.
  • “Aarogya Setu” is the official COVID-19 tracking app that has been launched by the Government of India & has been developed by the National eGovernance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in association with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • National Monitoring Dashboard on COVID-19 Grievances has been developed by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances to ensure timely implementation of COVID 19 Response Activities.
  • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has extended the validity of documents that expired since 1st February 2020 till 30th June 2020. The documents include fitness, driving licence, permits (all types), registration or any other concerned document under the Motor Vehicle Rules.
  • Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists who are stuck in various parts of the country.
  • World Bank has approved $1 billion to the Indian government for a proposed India COVID-19 emergency response and health systems preparedness project.
  • Civil services officers’ associations have formed an initiative called ‘Caruna’ to support and supplement the government’s efforts in fighting coronavirus. The acronym ‘Caruna’ stands for Civil Services Associations Reach to Support in Natural Disasters.
  • IIT-Roorkee has developed a low-cost portable ventilator called ‘Prana-Vayu’ in association with AIIMS-Rishikesh. This closed-loop ventilator is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities & can prove useful in ensuring the safety of coronavirus patients.
  • Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the initiative called “Lifeline UDAN” to help India fight against COVID-19. Under this initiative, 132 cargo flights have been operated so far across the country to transport medical cargo including to remote and hilly areas.
  • The innovation cell of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and All India Council for Technical Education has launched a mega ONLINE challenge called “SAMADHAN” to fight against covid19.• During the 21 days nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, pharmacists, popularly known as “Swasth ke Sipahi” of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra are delivering essential services and medicines at doorstep of patients and elderly.
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development has designated DigiLocker as the sole National Academic Depository. The ministry has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to implement NAD as a permanent scheme within DigiLocker.
  • Amid 21-days nationwide lockdown in India, Defence Research and Development Organisation has been using scientific endeavours to develop products in an accelerated manner to combat COVID-19 pandemic. DRDO has developed Personnel Sanitisation Enclosures (PSE) and Full Face Mask (FFM) to protect primarily healthcare professionals from novel coronavirus.
  • Government of India has launched an iGOT elearning platform to combat COVID-19 for all frontline workers to equip them with the training and updates in coping with Pandemic.
  • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) has collaborated with UNICEF to develop a digital communication strategy for promoting a digital campaign for Self Help Groups. The partnership aims to highlight the importance of Social Distancing.
  • National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) will run live counselling sessions on Swayam Prabha DTH Channel namely Panini, Channel Sharda and Channel Kishore Manch, for secondary and senior secondary levels respectively to overcome the loss of academic time of the students.
  • A webinar series titled “#DekhoApnaDesh” has been launched by the Indian Tourism Ministry to provide information on many destinations and culture & heritage of Incredible India. First such semin was held with title “City of Cities: Delhi’s Personal Diary”.
  • AIIMS Rishikesh partners with BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) to set up India’s 1st remote health monitoring system in the state of Uttarakhand to monitor COVID-19 patients.
  • Ministry of Labour and Employment has set up 20 control rooms to address wage related grievances arising in the backdrop of Covid-19. Control rooms have been set up under the Office of Chief Labour Commissioner.
  • Government of India to set up a chain of 20 lakh retail shops called ‘Suraksha Stores’ across India to provide daily essentials to citizens while maintaining stringent safety norms in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Ministry for Human Resource Development starts web-portal named YUKTI (Young India Combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation) to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of the Ministry of HRD.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the unified e-GramSwaraj Portal and Mobile App on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day 2020. This is a new initiative of Ministry of Panchayati Raj which will provide the Gram Panchayats with a single interface to prepare and implement their Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).
  • Government of India has launched a dashboard containing information of human resources for combating and containing Covid-19. This dashbaord has been created as an online portal on the website “”.
  • Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan starts an interactive platform ‘COVID India Seva’ to address citizen’s queries on coronavirus.
  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a set of Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) as well as graded relaxations for seafarers.
  • Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi has developed a mobile app named ‘WashKaro’. This mobile app helps to warn the people about a coronavirus containment zone nearby and helps them check whether a news item about the pandemic is genuine or fake.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) has developed ”Feluda” a low-cost COVID-19 test strip. It was developed by two scientists Dr Souvik Maiti and Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty.
  • Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Services Authority (JKSLSA) has launched a helpline under ‘Serve-theSeniors Initiative’.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) has rolled out a ‘Lockdown Learners’ series in India under its flagship “Education for Justice” initiative. It has launched ‘Lockdown Learners’ series of online dialogues with educators and students in India. The series emphasizes on COVID-19 and its impact on Sustainable Development Goals, peace and rule of law.
  • The Indian government has put on hold the hike in dearness allowance for its government employees in a bid to contain the strain on its finances amid the COVID-19 induced crisis. The development comes less than a month after the union cabinet had approved a hike in DA from 4% to a much higher 21%. This decision of government will impact about 49.26 lakh central government employees and 61.17 lakh pensioners.
  • To enhance its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India has signed a $1.5 billion loan with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd, a subsidiary of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited has announced Global Expression of Interest to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric buses and 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell-based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.
  • Unique Identification Authority of India permits the Common Service Centres that operate as banking correspondents (BCs), to provide Aadhaar updating facility to make Aadhaar updating easier for citizens.
  • Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University (KGMU) has become the 1st government hospital in the country to successfully launch the plasma therapy treatment for COVID-19.


  • Indian Navy’s Naval Dockyard in Mumbai has designed and developed its own handheld infrared based temperature sensor gun for the screening of personnel in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Indian Air Force (IAF) has launched ‘Operation Sanjeevani’ and air-lifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medical supplies to the Maldives via transport aircraft C-130J as assistance in the fight against the COVID 19.
  • United States has approved the sale of Harpoon air launched anti-ship missiles and Mark 54 lightweight torpedoes to India to enhance India’s deterrent capabilities against “regional threats” and also to strengthen its homeland defence.
  • Indian Navy’s Naval Aircraft Yard (Kochi) has formed “Air Evacuation Pod (AEP)” for the safe evacuation of COVID-19 patients from remote areas. The pod is made up of aluminium, nitrile rubber and Perspex.

Summits and Conferences

  • The United Nation’s COP26 climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed till next year due to COVID-19.
  • Saudi Arabia‘s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will chair the Extraordinary Virtual G20 leaders’ Summit to deliberate on strategies to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman represented India in the virtual session of the 2nd G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting held under the presidency of Saudi Arabia to discuss the global economic outlook amid advancing COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
  • The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has been postponed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to be held in Fuzhou of eastern China’s Fujian Province.
  • The Indian High Commission in United Kingdom has organised a virtual roundtable COVID-19 meet for businesses “Covid-19: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward”.
  • The National Conference on Kharif crops 2020 was held through video conference.
  • The G-20 Extraordinary Agriculture Ministers Meeting was held through Video Conferencing. The meeting was held on the issue of COVID-19 as well as its impact on food security, safety and nutrition. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar participated in the Extraordinary virtual meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers organised under the presidency of Saudi Arabia.
  • The 5th Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of New Development Bank was held through videoconference. Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman represented India in the Annual Meeting.
  • Indian High Commission in Bangladesh, and India Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) has jointly organized a webinar on trade promotion.
  • The 11th session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue hosted by Germany and co-chaired by the United Kingdom.

Sports Current Affairs

  • The 2021 World Athletics Championships which was originally scheduled to held in Eugene, Oregon from August 6-15, 2021 has been shifted to 2022.
  • The tennis Grand Slam tournament Wimbledon 2020 has been cancelled for the first time since World War II due to coronavirus pandemic.
  • Olympic Council of Asia has announced the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou in 2022. The 3 robots: Congcong, Lianlian and Chenchen which are collectively known as “The Smart Triplets” will be the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games.
  • India football team retained its 108th spot in the latest FIFA rankings. While Belgium ranked first and world champion France is in 2nd place and Brazil is at 3rd spot.
  • The late Kobe Bryant has been selected as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He has been selected as the member of the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
  • The Independent Member Federation Sanctions Panel (IMFSP) of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has banned the Malaysia & Thailand weightlifters from competing in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
  • FIFA, the world’s governing body for football announced that it took the decision to postpone the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic. The FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup was scheduled to be played in India between November And to 21st.
  • England’s all-rounder Ben Stokes has been named as the leading cricketer in the world in its 2020 edition by Wisden. In Women’s category, Australia’s Ellyse Perry has been named the Wisden’s Leading Female Cricketer in the World. The other Five Cricketers of the Year by Wisden’s are Jofra Archer (England), Pat Cummins (Australia), Simon Harmer (South Africa), Marnus Labuschagne (Australia) and Ellyse Perry (Australia- female).
  • “Feifei” to be the mascot for Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games, China. 1st ‘fei’ of the mascot means the birds flying, implying inclusiveness, respect, and fraternity of human society while the 2nd ‘fei’ means the mental tenacity of the athletes with disabilities pursuing dreams and reaching beyond themselves.
  • Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspends IPL 2020 indefinitely due to Covid-19.
  • World-famous cycle race tournament “Tour de France” has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • National Sports Federation of India has announced that India will host the Asian Boxing Championships for men and women in November December 2020.
  • Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc wins the Formula One Esports Chinese Virtual Grand Prix championship.
  • World Badminton Champion, P V Sindhu has been selected as one of the ambassadors for Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s “I am badminton” awareness campaign.
  • The 11th edition of World Games which is to be held in Birmingham, Alabama, US (United States) has unveiled an updated logo and title after being delayed a year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Alireza Firouzja beats World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the final of the Banter Blitz Cup 2020 and to claim the $14,000 prize.
  • Deepak Agarwal has been banned by the ICC from all cricket for a period of 2 years after he accepted one charge of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.
  • India lost the hosting rights of the men’s World boxing championship 2021 to Serbia.
  • Indian middle-distance runner, Jhuma Khatun was banned for 4 years for using banned substances by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for the doping case from 2018.
  • Pakistan Cricket Board has banned Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal from all forms of cricket for a period of three years. He has been charged with two breaches of anti-corruption codes of Pakistan Cricket Board.
  • Former Pakistan women’s skipper Sana Mir announced her retirement from international cricket.

Science and Technology

  • Bio suit named as “Personal Protective Equipment” has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to keep the medical, paramedical and other personnel engaged in combating COVID-19 safe from the deadly virus.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected mission "Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE)" to look into how the Sun generates and releases solar particle storms into planetary space.
  • Amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in India, IIT Kanpur has started developing portable ventilators which will be significantly cheaper than the ones available in the market.
  • A team of Indian IIT Guwahati has developed a drone with "automated sprayer" to sanitise large areas such as roads, parks and footpaths in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Generic Membranes has developed a ‘Membrane Oxygenator Equipment‘for the treatment of COVID19 patients. The device has been developed to treat breathlessness which is one of the critical symptoms of COVID-19. The device is based on innovative & indigenous hollow-fibre membrane technology and can enrich oxygen in the air up to 35%.
  • NASA unveils plan to setup Artemis, the first human base camp on Moon’s South Pole by 2024. NASA is working on the Artemis program that aims to land humans on the moon by 2024.
  • Google has announced the launch of a virtual Braille keyboard for Android users with low vision or blindness. This new keyboard will enable these people to type on their phones without additional hardware.
  • The scientists of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) have designed and developed a highly efficient super absorbent material titled “Chitra Acrylosorb Secretion Solidification System”.
  • DRDO has rolled out new products namely "Automatic Mist Based Sanitiser Dispensing Unit" and "UV Sanitisation Box and Hand-held UV device" to enable COVID-19 disinfection process.
  • A compact and portable solid-state sensor has been developed by the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) to detect the heavy metal ions in water.
  • Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has rolled out an Integrated Geospatial Platform known as “SAHYOG” to help in decision making during the present COVID-19 outbreak and support with area-specific strategies in order to handle the socio-economic impact in the recovery phase.
  • “COVSACK” is a kiosk developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation to make the process of collecting COVID-19 samples free of infection spread and to help in combatting the COVID19.
  • IIT-Bombay has developed a digital stethoscope called “AyuSynk” to check patients who are infected with COVID-19.
  • Google and Apple collaborates to fight against COVID-19 via contact tracing technology, enabling the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the Corona Virus.
  • CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories has developed Personal Protective Cover all Suit in association with MAF Clothing Pvt. Ltd., Bengaluru. The polypropylene spun laminated multi-layered non-woven fabric based suit has been developed for the front line health workers in order to fight against COVID-19.
  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar (Punjab) has developed & designed a ‘WardBot’ to deliver medicines and food to COVID-19 patients in isolation wards without human intervention.
  • For the rapid detection of pathogens, a device named “bug sniffer” has been developed by the researchers at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune.
  • A low-cost electro-catalyst has been developed with “Fish gills” by the scientists at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology.
  • IIT Mandi, Himachal Pradesh has developed a high speed magnetic Random Access Memory (RAM) which is faster, energy-efficient and stores more data in a smaller volume as compared to existing data storage technologies.
  • Scientists from International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) has developed an advanced tool “NanoBlitz 3D” in collaboration with Nano mechanics Inc., USA. Nano Blitz 3D can be used for the mapping of Nano mechanical properties of materials such as multiphase alloys, composites, and multi-layered coatings.
  • Raksha Mantri, Rajnath Singh has launched India’s 1st COVID-19 sample collection mobile Lab through video conference. India’s 1st COVID-19 sample collection mobile Lab has been named as “Mobile BSL-3 VRDL Lab”.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced that they will launch astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to International Space Station (ISS) on May 27, 2020. A SpaceX rocket will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in Crew Dragon spacecraft.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration has developed a high-pressure ventilator called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research has developed “Berberine” based Alzheimer inhibitor. Scientists modified berberine to “Ber-D” which is a soluble (aqueous) and acts as antioxidant. • A low-cost robotic device named as “Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device (H-CARD)” has been developed by CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute. It will be used in the collection of samples of people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and will also be useful in treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Scientists who have been observing the ozone hole at Copernicus’ Atmospheric Monitoring Service has announced that the Ozone layer hole is now closed in the North Pole.
  • A low-cost mechanical ventilator “Ruhdaar” has been developed by team of engineering students from IIT Bombay, NIT Srinagar and Islamic University of Science & Technology, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope, has completed 30th year in orbit on 25 April 2020.
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala has developed an AI Semantic search engine called ‘Vilokana’ to enable researchers to get deeper insights into scientific studies, especially when they need to find an early solution to the COVID-19 crisis.

GS Corner : Atmosphere

Layers /Structure of the Atmosphere

The atmosphere has 4 layers:

1. the troposphere that we live in near the surface of the earth;
2. the stratosphere that houses the ozone layer;
3. the mesosphere, a colder and lower density layer with about 0.1% of the atmosphere;
4. The thermosphere, the top layer, where the air is hot but very thin.


  • The troposphere is the lowermost layer of the atmosphere. Its average height is 13 km and extends roughly to a height of 8 km near the poles and about 18 km at the equator.
  • Thickness of the troposphere is greatest at the equator because heat is transported to great heights by strong convectional currents. This layer contains dust particles and water vapour.
  • This is where we live and all changes in climate and weather take place in this layer
  • The temperature in this layer decreases at the rate of 1°C for every 165m of height. This is the most important layer for all biological activity.


  • The stratosphere is found above the tropopause and extends up to a height of 50 km.
  • In this layer the temperature increases with height. This is because the stratosphere houses the ozone layer. The ozone layer is warm because it absorbs ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.
  • By absorbing ultra-violet radiation it shields life on the earth from intense, harmful form of energy there by protecting us from diseases like Cancer, skin burn etc.
  • Its non-turbulence and stable, non-convection character makes it possible for the jets to cruise easily, hence they are flown here.


  • The mesosphere lies above the stratosphere, which extends up to a height of 80 km.
  • In this layer, once again, temperature starts decreasing with the increase in altitude.
  • This layer also contains ratios of nitrogen and oxygen similar to the troposphere, except the concentrations are 1000 times less and there is little water vapour there, so the air is too thin for weather to occur.
  • The upper limit of mesosphere is known as the mesopause


  • The ionosphere is located between 80 and 400 km above the mesopause. It contains electrically charged particles known as ions, and hence, it is known as ionosphere
  • Radio waves transmitted from the earth are reflected back to the earth by this layer


  • The uppermost layer of the atmosphere above the thermosphere is known as the exosphere


The proportion of gases changes in the higher layers of the atmosphere in such a way that oxygen will be almost in negligible quantity at the height of 120 km. Similarly, carbon dioxide and water vapour are found only up to 90 km from the surface of the earth.


  • The permanent gases whose percentages do not change from day to day are nitrogen, oxygen and argon.
  • Nitrogen accounts for 78% of the atmosphere, oxygen 21% and argon 0.9%.
  • Carbon dioxide is meteorologically a very important gas as it is transparent to the incoming solar radiation but opaque to the outgoing terrestrial radiation therefore called Greenhouse gas.
  • Ozone is another important component of the atmosphere found between 10 and 50 km above the earth’s surface and acts as a filter and absorbs the ultra-violet rays radiating from the sun and prevents them from reaching the surface of the earth.

Water Vapour

  • Water vapour is also a variable gas in the atmosphere, which decreases with altitude.
  • In the warm and wet tropics, it may account for four per cent of the air by volume, while in the dry and cold areas of desert and Polar Regions; it may be less than one per cent of the air.
  • Water vapour also decreases from the equator towards the poles
  • It also absorbs parts of the insolation from the sun and preserves the earth’s radiated heat. It thus, acts like a blanket allowing the earth neither to become too cold nor too hot.
  • Water vapour content is very important in predicting weather.

Dust Particles

  • Atmosphere has a sufficient capacity to keep small solid particles, which may originate from different sources and include sea salts, fine soil, smoke-soot, ash, pollen, dust and disintegrated particles of meteors
  • Dust particles are generally concentrated in the lower layers of the atmosphere; yet, convectional air currents may transport them to great heights.
  • The higher concentration of dust particles is found in subtropical and temperate regions due to dry winds in comparison to equatorial and polar regions
  • Dust and salt particles act as hygroscopic nuclei around which water vapour condenses to produce clouds.

Science Corner: Human Diseases

Diseases caused by Fungi

Diseases caused by worms

Diseases caused by virus

Bacterial diseases of humans

Types of Diseases: On the basis of its nature, character and causes of its spread is of two types:

  1. Congenital Disease is the diseases which are present since birth. These are caused due to genetic abnormality or due to metabolic disorders or malfunctioning of any organ. They are basically permanent, generally not easily curable and may be inherited to the children like Harelip, Cleft Palate, Club foot etc. Also due to imbalance in the chromosomes the appearance of Mongalism, to born the blue baby due to cardiac disorder etc are also some examples of it.
  2. Acquired Disease is those defects or disorders which are not present by birth but appear due to the various causes and factors. These may be further categorized into following heads:
  • ​​(i) Communicable or infectious diseases: These are caused by a variety of pathogenic viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi and worms. The pathogens are generally carried with the help of a vector.
  • (ii) Non-communicable or non-infectious or degenerative diseases: These occur due to the malfunctioning of some organ or organ system in the body. It may be of various types like Deficiency diseases: These occur due to the deficiency of some nutrients, minerals or vitamins, Cancerous diseases, Allergy, Genetic diseases.

AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome): It destroys immune system of the body & is caused by the Human Immuno deficiency Virus (HIV).There are two types of HIV namely HIV-1 and HIV-2. The most common virus currently associated with AIDS is HIV-1. A virus found in the blood of wild African green monkey called the Simian Immuno deficiency Virus (SIV) is similar to HIV-2. HIV is a retrovirus. It can synthesize DNA from RNA. The major cell infected by HIV is the helper T-Iymphocyte that bears the CD-4 receptor site. HIV progressively destroys T-Iymphocytes. The patient occasionally will suffer from swollen lymph nodes, mild prolonged fever, diarrhoea or other non-specific symptoms.

Important facts about AIDS: AIDS in India was first reported in 1986 and is the end stage of the disease. HIV antibodies can be detected by the ELISA test (Enzyme-Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay). World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1st December.

Other Diseases

Cancer: They are characterized by the uncontrolled growth and division of cells which leads to a mass of cells known as neoplasm. Abnormal and persistent cell division localized in a particular region is called benign tumour.
Gout: It results from accumulation of uric acid crystals in the synovial joints. It is a disease associated with an inborn error of uric acid metabolism that increases production or interferes with the excretion of uric acid.
Haemophilia is called bleeder's disease. It is a disorder which is sex-linked and is a recessive condition. In a patient of haemophilia, blood clotting is deficient.
Haemophilia A, is characterized by lack of anti- haemophilia globulin factor VIII. About four-fifths of the cases of haemophilia are of this type.
Haemophilia B or Christmas disease results from a defect in plasma thromboplastic component.
Hepatitis: It is a viral disease, causes hepatic anorexia resulting in liver damage (liver cancer) or jaundice. It is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. Children and young adults are susceptible to it and no vaccines are acceptable.