Current Affairs 20 April 2020 – Daily Current Affairs

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Current Affairs Content

News Type

1

Nirmala Sitharaman Attends The 101st Development Committee Meeting: IMF.

National

2

Government Increases Loss Coverage For Micro Loan Defaults Under CGFMU Scheme To 75% From 50% Earlier.

National

3

Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel Launches The National List Of Intangible Cultural Heritage Of India In New Delhi.

National

4

Health Ministry Formulated Colour Codes For Lockdown 2.0 To Manage COVID-19 Pandemic.

National

5

Rajasthan: First Indian To Carry Out Rapid Testing For Covid-19.

National

6

Central Government Releases 7,300 Crore Rupees To State & Uts Under MGNREGS.

National

7

Equitas Small Finance Bank Launches Selfie Fixed Deposits And Selfie Savings Accounts.

National

8

RBI’s 1st Auction Under TLTRO 2.0 For Rs 25,000 Cr On Apr 23; Final Tranche Of Rs 1 Lakh Crore TLTRO Concluded.

National

9

NCAER Business Confidence Index (N-BCI) Declined To 77.3 From 111.2 In Q4 FY20.

International

10

S&P Cuts India Growth Forecast To 1.8% From 3.5% For FY 20-21.

National

11

TVS Motor Acquires 122-Year-Old UK-Based Firm Norton Motorcycles For Rs 153 Cr.

National

12

Eros International & Hollywood’s STX Entertainment To Merge All Share- 1st Of Its Kind.

National & International

13

Automatic Mist Based Sanitisers Dispensing Unit & UV Sanitisation Box And Hand-Held UV Device Introduced: DRDO.

National

14

Gujarat’s GBRC: 2nd Indian Institute To Decode COVID-19 Genome Sequence; 3 New Mutations Found.

National

15

Indian Navy Develops Air Evacuation Pod For COVID-19 Patients.

National

16

Researchers At Cens Designs Portable Sensor To Detect Heavy Metal In Water.

National

17

Chilean Author Luis Sepúlveda Dies Of Coronavirus In Northern Spain At 70.

International

18

April 18 – World Heritage Day 2020.

National & International

19

South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Party Wins Election Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.

International

20

44th Session Of World Heritage Committee 2020 Of UNESCO In Fuzhou Postponed.

International

Detailed Description On Current Affairs 20 April 2020 – Daily Current Affairs.

1

Nirmala Sitharaman Attends The 101st Development Committee Meeting: IMF.

The Union Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, participated in the 101st Meeting of the Development Committee Plenary through video conference here today. The items on the agenda included update on World Bank Group Response to the COVID-19 Emergency, and the Covid-19 Debt Initiative: International Call for Action in Support of IDA Countries.

 In her intervention at this session, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman  stated that given the size of our population, India could have become a major COVID hotspot. The Government has been taking no chances , launched massive efforts to assist the health system respond effectively to the outbreak. Important measures included social distancing, travel restrictions, work from and stay at home in public and private sectors, and direct health interventions centred on scaled up testing, screening and treatment, have helped contain impact of the pandemic.

The Finance Minister shared that the Government has announced support measures worth US $ 23 billion comprising free health insurance to health workers; cash transfers, free food and gas distribution; and social security measures for affected workers. To help firms, especially SME firms, cope with sudden loss of economic opportunity, the Government has provided relief in statutory and regulatory compliance matters related to income tax, GST, customs, financial services and corporate affairs. The Central Bank has also been accommodative. Regulators are taking steps to reduce market volatility. Government is working extensively with stakeholders for providing additional relief in the form of humanitarian aid and to provide economic stimulus in coming days.

Smt Sitharaman also mentioned that as responsible citizens of the global community, we are supplying critical medicines to the needy countries and will continue to do so if the situation demands. She commended the speedy response and efficiency of the World Bank Group in rolling out the Fast Track COVID-19 Response Facility.

2

Government Increases Loss Coverage For Micro Loan Defaults Under CGFMU Scheme To 75% From 50% Earlier.

Availability of bank credit without the hassles of collaterals / third party guarantees would be a major source of support to the first generation entrepreneurs to realise their dream of setting up a unit of their own Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE). Keeping this objective in view, Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), Government of India launched Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) so as to strengthen credit delivery system and facilitate flow of credit to the MSE sector. To operationalise the scheme, Government of India and SIDBI set up the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).

CGTMSE has introduced a new “Hybrid Security” product allowing guarantee cover for the portion of credit facility not covered by collateral security. In the partial collateral security model, the MLIs will be allowed to obtain collateral security for a part of the credit facility, whereas the remaining part of the credit facility, up to a maximum of 200 lakh, can be covered under Credit Guarantee Scheme of CGTMSE. CGTMSE will, however, have pari-passu charge on the primary security as well as on the collateral security provided by the borrower for the credit facility.

The main objective is that the lender should give importance to project viability and secure the credit facility purely on the primary security of the assets financed. The other objective is that the lender availing guarantee facility should endeavour to give composite credit to the borrowers so that the borrowers obtain both term loan and working capital facilities from a single agency. The Credit Guarantee scheme (CGS) seeks to reassure the lender that, in the event of a MSE unit, which availed collateral free credit facilities, fails to discharge its liabilities to the lender, the Guarantee Trust would make good the loss incurred by the lender up to 50/75/80/85 per cent of the credit facility.

3

Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel Launches The National List Of Intangible Cultural Heritage Of India In New Delhi.

The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage. He said that It aims to raise awareness about the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at national and international level and ensure their protection.

4

Health Ministry Formulated Colour Codes For Lockdown 2.0 To Manage COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Government of India decided to divide all districts across the country into hotspots, non-hotspots and green zones. The announcement was made by LavAgarwal, joint secretary of the Health Ministry.

Highlights:

  • The aim is to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help the partial opening up of economic activities during the extended period of the nationwide lockdown.
  • The move also aims to help in the management of hotspots and the spread of the pandemic. The health and family welfare ministry has launched a new set of guidelines for the second phase of lockdown till 3 May.
  • As of 15 April, the Ministry has identified 170 hotspot districts, 207 non-hotspot districts reporting cases and 359 green zone districts not reporting any cases across the country.
  • These numbers will increase or decrease based on fresh cases of COVID-19 infection.
  • The new guidelines by the Ministry are aimed to help the central and state governments to allow some economic activities in select areas.
  • The economic activities in the green zone districts will be allowed but restricted in the red zones, which will continue to have the current lockdown measures.

5

Rajasthan: First Indian To Carry Out Rapid Testing For Covid-19.

In the first round of rapid-testing in Rajasthan to detect carriers or super spreaders of the Sars-Cov-2 virus most tests results were negative, officials said on Saturday, as other states started working on conducting tests from Sunday.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also advised antibody tests in Covid-19 hotspots which will ensure faster detection of cases and give more time to authorities to contain community spread. Once a person tests positive after the antibody test, the PCR test has to be done to confirm the result, which takes anywhere between 24 to 48 hours. While antibody test is based on blood samples, the PCR test is based on throat swab.

Most state government officials on Saturday said they have received the rapid test kits (RTKs). They, however, said the kits were very less as compared to the demand. India had received 6,50,000 kits from China on Friday, which has been distributed to the states. Most states have set up additional quarantine centres to keep the persons, who test positive in rapid testing.

Rajasthan got 10,000 rapid test kits on Friday and 52 samples were tested, all of which were negative. On Saturday, 5,000 tests were conducted in Jaipur’s walled city, from where most number of cases have been reported.

6

Central Government Releases 7,300 Crore Rupees To State & Uts Under MGNREGS.

Centre has released 7,300 crore rupees to the States and Union Territories under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to liquidate pending dues of last financial year but also the wage dues for the first fortnight of 2020-21.

7

Equitas Small Finance Bank Launches Selfie Fixed Deposits And Selfie Savings Accounts.

Equitas Small Finance Bank Limited (the “Bank”), the largest small finance bank (“SFB”) in India in terms of number of banking outlets as of March 31, 2019 (Source: CRISIL report), has waived off non-maintenance charges on all savings accounts in the New Year. The Bank also offers lower transaction charges to customers. This is expected to benefit certain of its customers.

The Bank offers up to 7.5% p.a. on Savings and up to 8.25% p.a. on FD + 0.60% extra for Senior Citizens. Further, premature closure and partial withdrawal is permitted for Senior Citizens. The Bank also offers discounts and other privileges with Equitas Small Finance Bank debit cards.

The interest rates offered in the savings and FDs is aimed at customers who want to earn more on their savings. The nature of the products will enable them to save and earn through interest rates & NMC.

8

RBI’s 1st Auction Under TLTRO 2.0 For Rs 25,000 Cr On Apr 23; Final Tranche Of Rs 1 Lakh Crore TLTRO Concluded.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday received bids worth Rs 1.23 trillion for Rs 25,000 crore on offer for its one-year long-term repo operations (LTRO).

In the auction for three-year maturity liquidity operations made last week, the RBI had received bids worth Rs 1.94 trillion for Rs 25,000 crore on offer. On Monday’s auction, the RBI received 52 bids, which the RBI allotted on a pro-rata basis.

The idea behind the LTRO, and also relaxations on cash reserve ratio (CRR) for incremental lending to the retail and micro, small and medium enterprises, announced as a policy measure on the same day, is to bring down the cost of funds for banks without necessarily lowering the deposit rate. The banks can then lower the lending rate, and extend credit at a cheaper rate. The central bank plans to go for Rs 1 trillion worth of LTRO for now.

9

NCAER Business Confidence Index (N-BCI) Declined To 77.3 From 111.2 In Q4 FY20.

Business sentiments, which were already weak to start with, worsened further in the fourth quarter of 2019-20 amid the coronavirus crisis, economic think-tank NCAER said.

It carried out a Business Expectations Survey in March 2020. NCAER”s Business Confidence Index (N-BCI), an indicator of business sentiments across Indian industry, stood at 77.3 in Q4 of 2019-20.

In a release, NCAER said the N-BCI fell from 111.2 in the third quarter of 2019-20 to 77.3 in next three months, declining by 30.4 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis and by 32.9 per cent on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis.

This was the lowest level of BCI recorded since the 25th Round of the BES in 1998, coinciding with the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98, when it had fallen to 68.3, it said. All the four components comprising the BCI — overall economic condition, investment climate, firms” financial position and capacity utilisation — experienced deterioration in sentiments on a quarterly basis, it said.

“A weekly examination of the four components showed that business sentiments took a turn for the worse during the fourth and fifth weeks of March, 2020, coinciding with the announcement of the first COVID-19 lockdown on March 24, 2020,” NCAER added. As per the release, sentiments regarding production, domestic sales, exports, imports of raw materials, and pre-tax profits also worsened in April 2020. About one-third of respondents expected a decline in each of these parameters.

The firms also perceived that the costs of raw materials, electricity, and labour, and ex-factory prices would rise in the next six months. Sentiments regarding hiring in the labour market were muted, said the think-tank, established in 1956.

10

S&P Cuts India Growth Forecast To 1.8% From 3.5% For FY 20-21.

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) slashed its FY21 growth estimate for India to 1.8% from 3.5% projected last month on concern that the covid-19 peak in India will come “somewhat later” than most other countries.

“We assume that the first-wave of community transmission peaked in March in China and will peak in April for most other economies in the region. In some emerging markets, including India and Indonesia, a peak in reported cases is assumed to come somewhat later, perhaps early in the third quarter,” the rating agency said in a report.

The severe disruption to economic activity caused by covid-19, both through demand and supply shocks, has set back incipient recovery in the Indian economy, leading to massive job losses. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected the Indian economy to grow at 1.9% in 2020-21 while Barclays has estimated 0% growth for India in 2020.

For the Asia-Pacific region, S&P pared its 2020 growth projection to 0.3% with downside risks from 4.8% earlier, holding that the pandemic will lead to a loss in household and corporate income of about $2.2 trillion, which will be distributed across balance sheets.

“We expect economies to enter a transition period where social distancing measures will be along a continuum between full lockdowns and business-as-usual until mid-2021. This will involve some social distancing constraints and be country-specific. Complicating matters even more, each country’s position in this continuum seems likely to shift randomly as second and third waves of infections rise and fall. We expect the level of activity, for the region as a whole, to get close to the pre-covid-19 trend by 2023,” S&P said.

The ratings company said that even in a changed post covid-19 world, it did not necessarily follow that the level of activity will be lower. “Even if patterns of demand shift, say from travel to healthcare, resources in the economy will move, guided by prices, to accommodate demand,” it added. S&P said though the debate about the long-run effects of coronavirus pandemic will continue, views on this will influence how quickly the extraordinary levels of stimulus are withdrawn.

11

TVS Motor Acquires 122-Year-Old UK-Based Firm Norton Motorcycles For Rs 153 Cr.

Norton is a 122 year-old motorcycle company founded by James Lansdowne Norton in Birmingham, and has popular series of bikes sold under Commando and Dominator names. Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director, TVS Motor said, “This (acquisition) presents us with an immense opportunity to scale up globally.

12

Eros International & Hollywood’s STX Entertainment To Merge All Share- 1st Of Its Kind.

Eros International announces all-share merger with STX Entertainment. In a first of its kind deal, Indian movie producer and distributor Eros International on Saturday announced an all-share merger with Hollywood’s STX Entertainment to create an equally-held global entertainment company.

13

Automatic Mist Based Sanitisers Dispensing Unit & UV Sanitisation Box And Hand-Held UV Device Introduced: DRDO.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in its continuous quest to contribute towards fight against COVID-19, has been developing several solutions from its existing arsenal of technologies and experience. These consist of innovations and quickly configuring the products for present requirements. Today DRDO has introduced two products which can enhance the operations at public places during the pandemic.

Automatic Mist Based Sanitiser Dispensing Unit

Centre for Fire Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES), Delhi along with HPO 1, using its expertise in mist technology for fire suppression, has developed automatic mist based sanitiser dispensing unit. It is a contactless sanitiser dispenser which sprays alcohol based hand rub sanitiser solution for sanitisation of hands while entering the buildings/office complexes, etc. It is based on water mist aerator technology, which was developed for water conservation.

The unit operates without contact and is activated through an ultrasonic sensor. A single fluid nozzle with low flow rate is used to generate aerated mist to dispense the hand rub sanitiser. This sanitises the hands with minimum wastage. Using atomiser, only 5-6 ml sanitiser is released for 12 seconds in one operation and it gives the full cone spray over both palms so that disinfection operation of hands is complete.

It is a very compact unit and bulk fill option makes it economical and long lasting product. It is easy to install system as wall-mountable or on a platform. As an indication of operation an LED illuminates the spray.          

The unit was manufactured with the help of M/s Riot Labz Pvt Ltd, Noida, and one unit has been installed at DRDO Bhawan. The unit can be used for sanitisation of hands at entry and exit to hospitals, malls, office buildings, residential buildings, airports, metro stations, railway stations, bus stations and critical installations. The product is also expected to be very useful for entry/ exit of isolation and quarantine centres.

UV Sanitisation Box and Hand-held UV device

Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), DRDO laboratories in Delhi have designed & developed Ultraviolet C Light based sanitisation box and hand held UV-C (ultraviolet light with wavelength 254 nanometres) device. The UV-C consists of a shorter, more energetic wavelength of light. It is particularly good at destroying genetic material in COVID-19. The radiation warps the structure RNA which prevents the viral particles from making more copies of themselves.  The UV-C kills microbes quickly. Sanitisation of the items by employing UV-C light avoids the harmful effects of the chemicals used for the disinfection. This is environment friendly and is a contact free effective sanitisation method.

The UV-C box is designed for disinfecting personal belongings like mobile phone, tablets, purse, currency, cover of office files, etc. COVID-19 virus will be deactivated by using UVC lamps in one minute placed equi-distantly in a box with UV dose of 100 mJ/cm2. The UV lamps used in the sanitisation box also emits 185 nm which produces ozone and is able to take care of the unexposed area on the surfaces of the objects placed in the box.

The hand held device having eight watt UV-C lamp disinfects office and house hold objects like chairs, files, postal delivered items and food packets with an exposure of 45 second at a 100 mJ/cmirradiance placed at a distance of less than two inches.  This measure can reduce the transmission of Coronavirus in office and public environment which is required to work in all conditions.

14

Gujarat’s GBRC: 2nd Indian Institute To Decode COVID-19 Genome Sequence; 3 New Mutations Found.

Researchers at the state government-run Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) have succeeded in decoding the entire genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, and identified its three new mutations, officials said on Friday.

Talking to reporters, the officials expressed confidence that the findings will help in developing medicines or vaccines needed to stop the spread of the deadly virus, which has wreaked havoc across the globe. With this, the Gandhinagar-based GBRC has become the second institute in India after the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune to decode the entire genome sequence of the virus, they said.

“The Gujarat government-run GBRC has become the second institute after the Pune-based NIV to decode the entire genome sequence of Covid-19 virus. Many research institutes in the country are trying to do it,” state Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi said.

15

Indian Navy Develops Air Evacuation Pod For COVID-19 Patients.

The Indian Navy’s Naval Aircraft Yard here has developed a smart evacuation pod for evacuation of COVID-19 patients safely from remote areas such as islands and ships. The indigenously designed and fabricated an Air Evacuation Pod (AEP) will help the evacuation team to safely shift coronavirus-infected persons from ships and islands in a fully sealed patient transfer capsule.

There will be no risk of cross infection to pilots and evacuation team using the pod with no requirement of sanitation of aircraft post evacuation, a Defence spokesman said here. The evacuation pod was designed under guidance of Principal Medical Officer of the naval air station here, INS Garuda in consultation with specialist from the naval hospital INHS Sanjivani and Head Quarters of Southern Naval Command, the spokesperson said.

16

Researchers At Cens Designs Portable Sensor To Detect Heavy Metal In Water.

Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) has developed a compact solid-state sensor to detect the heavy metal ions in water. It is a portable device which can help onsite detection in remote areas.

Heavy metal ions such as lead, mercury and cadmium pose severe potential threats to living beings as they can easily be accumulated in the body and cannot be detoxified by any chemical or biological processes. The health hazards associated with heavy metal ions in water demands the development of efficient and portable sensors for rapid onsite detection of these ions. There is an urge to develop visual sensors, which can effectively detect heavy metal ions rapidly (within seconds) under ambient conditions.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Pralay K. Santra at Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences have developed a compact solid-state sensor to detect the heavy metal ions, e.g., lead ions (Pb2+) down to 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) for efficient onsite detection. The sensor film was prepared by forming a composite between manganese doped zinc sulfide quantum dots and reduced graphene oxide on a glass substrate. These particular quantum dots are water-soluble and have high photoluminescence (~ 30 %) quantum yield, making them suitable for luminescence-based sensing. These quantum dots can be excited with handheld UV light of 254 nm, thus making it a portable device even to remote areas. If a drop of water containing heavy metal ions such as mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. are added to the composite film, the emission of the film quenches within seconds.

This study demonstrates the easy detection of heavy metal ions in water; however, the team is developing strategies to improve the selectivity of the detection.

17

Chilean Author Luis Sepúlveda Dies Of Coronavirus In Northern Spain At 70.

Best-selling Chilean writer Luis Sepulveda has died at a hospital in northern Spain some six weeks after testing positive for coronavirus, his publishing house said on Thursday. He was 70.

“The writer Luis Sepulveda has died in Oviedo,” said a statement by Barcelona-based Tusquets, adding it “deeply regretted his loss”. Best known for “The Old Man Who Read Love Stories”, Sepulveda was exiled from Chile in 1977 by the Pinochet dictatorship and travelled extensively before settling in Europe in the 1980s.

He first began showing symptoms of COVID-19 on February 25 after returning from a festival in northern Portugal and was taken to hospital in Oviedo in the northern Asturias region where he had lived for more than 20 years. By March 10, local newspapers reported he was in critical condition, but since then, no further details have been made public at the family’s request.

“Health workers gave everything to save his life but he never got over the illness. My condolences to his wife and family,” tweeted Adrian Barbon, president of the Asturias region. Born on October 1949 in Ovalle, north of the Chilean capital Santiago, Sepulveda became a political activist when he was young, first with Chile’s Communist Youth, and then with the Socialists.

In 1973, he was arrested by the Pinochet regime and jailed for treason for two-and-a-half years, but was freed after Amnesty International intervened, then spending time on the run before his exile in 1977. He wrote some 20 novels, chronicles, stories and children’s books which are known for their simple humour and depictions of life in Latin America and been translated into multiple languages.

18

April 18 – World Heritage Day 2020.

World Heritage Day is observed on April 18 every year with an aim to increase awareness about the importance of protecting culture and diversity. Know more about it. World Heritage Day is observed every year on April 18 to preserve the human heritage and recognize the efforts of the organizations working for it.

19

South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Party Wins Election Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s party has won a landslide victory in the country’s parliamentary elections held on Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, BBC reported. Moon’s Democratic Party and its smaller allies won 180 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly.

The country held the elections despite once being second to only China in the number of Covid-19 infections. South Korea has since managed to flatten its transmission curve with aggressive testing, tracking of infected persons and observing social distancing. The elections were widely seen as a referendum on the government’s approach to the outbreak.

The number of seats won by Moon’s party is the biggest majority won in the National Assembly since South Korea’s transition to democracy in 1987, according to The Guardian. The voter turnout was 66.2%, higher than any parliamentary elections held since 1992. The National Assembly has 253 directly elected seats and 47 proportional representation seats. Meanwhile, the opposition United Future Party won 103 seats, according to the country’s National Election Commission.

20

44th Session Of World Heritage Committee 2020 Of UNESCO In Fuzhou Postponed.

Fuzhou, China. In light of recent developments in the world related to pandemic COVID-19, it was decided that the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, initially scheduled for 29 June – 9 July 2020 will be postponed to a later date.

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