• Current Affair, 11th March 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

    1. 22 Congress MLAs resign pushing Kamal Nath govt to the brink                                                 

    • Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia today resigned from primary membership of the party amid the political crisis in Madhya Pradesh. In his resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Scindia said that he had been in the party for the past 18 years. But, he said, he is unable to serve the people of his state and the country by staying in the party any more.
    • On the other hand, the Congress said that Mr Scindia has been expelled from the party for his anti-party activities. Earlier in the day, Mr. Scindia met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.
    • The Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appears to have slipped into minority as 22 Congress MLAs, including six ministers, sent in their resignations shortly after Mr Scindia walked out of the party. 19 MLAs sent their resignation letters to Raj Bhavan while Bisahulal Singh, Edal Singh Kansana and Manoj Choudhary submitted their resignation letters to the Assembly speaker.
    • The actual strength of the Madhya Pradesh assembly is 230. With two seats vacant, the effective strength is 228.
    • However, with the resignation of the 22 MLAs, the strength of the Assembly will be 206 and the magic number required to prove majority will be 104.
    • The Congress had 114 MLAs of its own but the resignations bring down its tally in the Assembly to 92. The party is also supported by two legislators of the BSP, one of the SP and four Independents. The BJP has 107 MLAs in the assembly.
    • The Congress had 114 MLAs of its own but the resignations bring down its tally in the Assembly to 92. The party is also supported by two legislators of the BSP, one of the SP and four Independents. The BJP has 107 MLAs in the assembly.
    • Meanwhile, Samajwadi party MLA Rajesh Shukla and BSP MLA Sanjeev Kushwaha met senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan at his residence in Bhopal. After meeting, Mr Chouhan said, this was just a holi meeting, and there is no politics in it.

    2. Menstrual Health                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

    • To improve the menstrual health among adolescent girls, Government of India is supporting the States/UTs through National Health Mission in their Program Implementation Plans for decentralized procurement of Sanitary napkins packs.
    • The scheme encompasses the following:
    • Increasing awareness among adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene
    • Improving access to and use of high quality sanitary napkins by adolescent girls residing in rural areas
    • Scheme is also beingimplemented in the urban areas with roll out in selected cities of 15 States in the first phase.
    • Ensuring safe disposal of sanitary napkins in an environmentally friendly manner.
    • Provision of funds to ASHAs to hold monthly meetings with adolescents to discuss issues related to menstrual hygiene.
    • Government of India is providing NHM funds to States/UTs through Program Implementation Plans for decentralized procurement of Sanitary napkins and IEC-BCC activities. Health being a State subject, involvement of NGOs or any private organization to support the activities hence remains the decision of the State/UTs.

    3. The Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill                                                                                     

    • The Bill including separate legislative provisions for medical devices called as the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 29.08.2013 which was referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament. The Standing Committee made certain recommendations for changing the provisions of the Bill.
    • Accordingly, a proposal regarding withdrawal of the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and introduction of the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was placed on 11.02.2016 before the Group of Ministers for consideration. The Group of Ministers considered the proposal and decided that the Department of Health and Family Welfare may inter alia frame rules for regulation of Medical Devices keeping in view the fact that framing of such rules is feasible in terms of the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act,1940.
    • Therefore, Medical Devices Rules, 2017 were framed and notified on 31.01.2017 which have become effective from 01.01.2018
    • Medical Devices are regulated under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Medical Devices Rules, 2017 thereunder. The said rules contain provisions for the inspection of imported as well as indigenous medical devices as considered necessary.
    • If any notified medical device is found to be not in conformity with the provisions of the Act and Rules, the Central Licensing Authority may issue directions that the entire batch of such medical devices may not be sold or offered for sale or may be recalled from the market including hospitals. A proposal for providing compensation in case of injury to patient due to faulty medical device was deliberated in the 81st meeting of Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) held on 29th November, 2018 and the Board has decided on constitution of a sub-committee.
    4. Consumption of Aerated and Energy drinks                                                                                   

    • Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) has informed that they have not carried out any study on consumption of aerated and energy drinks leading to various health ailments including cancer, diabetes and other health problems.
    • Excessive consumption of energy and caffeinated drinks in a short period of time or when co-ingested with other stimulants such as alcohol may lead to health risks such as arrhythmias etc., however it may be relatively safe when consumed moderately and separately.
    • A review published in Front Public Health, 2014 stated that the health risks associated with energy drink consumption are primarily related to their caffeine content, but more research is needed that evaluates the long-term effects of consuming common energy drink ingredients.
    • Further, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated standards on ‘carbonated fruit beverages/fruit drinks’, ‘carbonated water’ and ‘caffeinated beverages’ under sections 2.3.30, 2.10.6(1) and 2.10.6 (2) respectively of Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
    • The implementation and enforcement of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules and Regulations framed thereunder primarily rests with the State/UT Governments.
    • Regular surveillance, monitoring, inspection and random sampling of food products, are undertaken by the officials of Food Safety Departments of the respective States/ UTs to check that they comply with the standards laid down under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the rules and regulations made thereunder.
    • In cases where the food samples are found to be non-conforming, recourse is taken to penal provisions under Chapter IX of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
    • FSSAI is promoting safe and healthy eating through several initiatives such as Safe and Nutritious Food initiatives focussing on social and behavioural change around food safety and nutrition at home , school , workplace etc; Campaigns like ‘Aaj Se ThodaKam’ with focus on messaging for reduced daily intake of salt sugar and fat etc.
    • It has nudged industry to reformulate products to provide healthier options. It has also formulated a regulation with provision of front-of-packing labelling of High Fat Salt and Sugar (HFSS) Foods, as a measure to create awareness among people.
    • The said regulation has been draft notified on 02.07.2019 for seeking public comments. In a unique outreach initiative, a pan-India cycle rally, Swasth Bharat Yatra launched on 16th October 2018, to spread the message of Eat Right, mobilised 21,000+ volunteer cyclists, covered over 20,000 kms and touched 2100+ locations in 100+ days, reaching out to 2.5 crore people.

    5. LaQshya” (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative)

    o Government of India has launched “LaQshya” (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres in public health facilities. It’s a multipronged approach focused at Intrapartum and immediate postpartum period.
    • Aim: To reduce preventable maternal and newborn mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity Operation Theatre and ensure respectful maternity care.
    • Objectives:
    i. To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to hemorrhage, retained placenta, preterm, preeclampsia and eclampsia, obstructed labour, puerperal sepsis, newborn asphyxia, and newborn sepsis, etc.
    ii. To improve Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care, stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals, and enable an effective two-way follow-up system.
    iii. To enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.
    Following types of healthcare facilities have been identified for implementation of LaQshya program
    i. Government medical college hospitals.
    ii. District Hospitals & equivalent health facilities.
    iii. Designated FRUs and high case load CHCs with over 100 deliveries/month ( 60 in hills and desert areas)
    • Till date 2427 Public health facilities across country have been identified for implementation of LaQshya Program.

    6. Corona Effect: Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square closed to tourists

    • The Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square and its main basilica were closed to tourists on Tuesday as part of a broader clampdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak. The Holy See said, the measures will remain in place until April 3 in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
    • Italy’s new nationwide restrictions on public gatherings and movement between cities are also meant to stay in place for the coming four weeks.
    • The Vatican has so far officially confirmed one case of the COVID-19 disease caused by the new virus that has killed 463 people in surrounding Italy in just over two weeks.
    • Pope Francis himself was forced to break with centuries of tradition and deliver his Sunday Angelus Prayer via livestream instead of out of his Vatican window to limit crowds on Saint Peter’s Square.

    7. CPWD has emerged as a market leader in sustainable infrastructure development & adoption of green technologies

    • Shri Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State(I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs, while recognizing the crucial role played by CPWD ever since its formation in July 1854 in constructing infrastructure essential to the growth of the country, stated that CPWD has emerged as a market leader in sustainable infrastructure development and adoption of green technologies.
    • The development of the iconic ‘Sadaiv Atal’ Samadhi as a memorial to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 45 days without cutting a single tree; installation of solar roof top panels on government buildings to help reduce their carbon footprint, and installation of wastewater treatment plants in Sir Visvesvaraya Kendriya Bhawan (Bangalore) for horticulture use – are insightful examples, the Minister said. “Such an approach is critical for the Swachh Bharat Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation to achieve green and sustainable success.
    • The organization has not only kept up with global architectural and sustainability standards, but has also assumed a leading role in formulation of these standards for institutions across the country”, he added. The Minister was speaking at the 165th CPWD Day function organized at Vigyan Bhawan here today. ShriDurga Shankar Mishra, Secretary Housing and Urban Affairs, Shri Prabhakar Singh, Director General, CPWD and senior officers from all over the country were present at the function.
    • Referring to the Prime Minister’s motto of ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas’, India’s journey of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, and a developed nation by 2047, Shri Hardeep S Puri stated that it will be anchored in innovative, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure development and expressed confidence that CPWD will continue playing a key role in these areas, by establishing key exchanges of information, expertise and infrastructure development across ministries, organisations and industries.
    • CPWD with a work order of around Rs.1,50,000 crore is on course to further achieve success by leveraging skilled human resource of more than 8000 competent Engineers, Architects and Horticulturists, serving a clientele of over 600 organizations. Showcased by the collaborations with – 1) Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan’ – increasing access to government buildings for persons with disabilities; and 2) Building administrative blocks and hostels in public educational institutions like IIT, Bhubaneswar, the Minister said.

    8. Crisis in jute industry

     

     

    • There is no report of crisis in jute industry including closure of jute mills, loss of jobs, intense competition and cheap imports from Bangladesh. In-fact, during the last two years 10 jute twine mills have re-opened in Andhra Pradesh benefitting 20,000 workmen directly and indirectly. With a view to protect domestic jute industry, anti- dumping duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal has been imposed w.e.f. 5thJanuary, 2017. The details of jute/jute products produced and imported/exported during the last three years is at Annexure-A.
    • Government of India is implementing various schemes for welfare of jute workers, improving productivity and quality of jute and overall development of jute industry in jute growing states. The details of various schemes implemented for upliftment of jute sector are at Annexure-B.
    • National Jute Board (NJB) is implementing the Incentive scheme for Acquisition of Plants and Machinery (ISAPM) for modernization in Jute mills & JDP units. During 2014-15 to 2018-19, NJB has released capital subsidy amounting to Rs. 4971.19 lakhs to jute mills and JDP units.

    Exports of jute goods to Top 20 Countries

    Value: Rs. / Crore
    2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
    Sl. Country Value % Country Value % Country Value %
    1 U S A 415.31 20 U S A 454.07 21 U S A 492.73 22
    2 GHANA 168.62 8 GHANA 183.87 9 GHANA 258.38 11
    3 U K 155.92 8 U K 141.81 7 U K 158.82 7
    4 GERMANY 99.81 5 COTE D’ IVOIRE 107.53 5 NETHERLAND 114.62 5
    5 NETHERLAND 98.37 5 GERMANY 99.75 5 AUSTRALIA 98.70 4
    6 AUSTRALIA 82.40 4 NEPAL 92.59 4 GERMANY 97.19 4
    7 SAUDI ARAB 71.74 3 NETHERLAND 82.63 4 COTE D’ IVOIRE 81.15 4
    8 COTE D’ IVOIRE 68.05 3 SAUDI ARAB 78.49 4 SPAIN 76.63 3
    9 SUDAN 56.18 3 AUSTRALIA 48.37 2 INDONESIA 52.82 2
    10 U ARAB EMTS 51.10 2 U ARAB EMTS 47.17 2 NEW ZEALAND 52.69 2
    11 CANADA 42.95 2 TURKEY 42.14 2 SAUDI ARAB 52.13 2
    12 ITALY 42.43 2 INDONESIA 39.57 2 FRANCE 47.59 2
    13 EGYPT A RP 39.23 2 CANADA 38.63 2 ITALY 39.99 2
    14 SPAIN 34.72 2 BELGIUM 37.46 2 U ARAB EMTS 39.67 2
    15 NEW ZEALAND 33.38 2 ITALY 37.38 2 BELGIUM 36.93 2
    16 BELGIUM 32.94 2 SPAIN 36.70 2 JAPAN 34.06 1
    17 TANZANIA REP 32.61 2 EGYPT A RP 35.90 2 CANADA 33.15 1
    18 TURKEY 32.51 2 TANZANIA REP 31.81 1 SUDAN 32.70 1
    19 JAPAN 28.51 1 NEW ZEALAND 31.46 1 TANZANIA REP 32.70 1
    20 FRANCE 27.45 1 FRANCE 30.68 1 PERU 19.82 1
    Total of 20 countries 1614.23 79 Total of 20 countries 1698.01 80 Total of 20 countries 1852.47 79
    Total of All jute goods 2074.20 Total of All jute goods 2158.56 Total of All jute goods 2273.27
    Source: DGCI&S, Kolkata
    Annexure-B
    Steps/Schemes for welfare of jute workers, development of jute industry, resolving problems of jute producers and increasing productivity and export of jute:
    Mandatory Packaging in Jute Materials
    Under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987, Government specifies the commodities and the extent to which they are mandatorily required to be packed in Jute Packaging Materials. At present, a minimum of 100% of food grains and a minimum of 20% of sugar are to be compulsorily packed in jute sacking.

    MSP operation in raw jute
    Whenever the market price of raw jute falls below a certain level, the Jute Corporation of India (JCI) procures raw jute at Minimum Support Price (MSP), fixed on the basis of recommendation of the commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP) from jute growers to safeguard their interest.
    Workers’ Welfare Scheme:
    Swachhatta Abhiyan – Sulabh Sauchalaya:
    NJB provides assistance to the jute mills for improvement of sanitation, health facilities and working conditions of jute mill workers. The rate of assistance is @90% of actual expenses subject to maximum of Rs. 60.00 lakh (per mill / annum). Under this scheme, 1365 Toilet units have been constructed in 46 Jute Mills from 2014-15 to 2018-19.
    Scholarship Scheme for the girl children of the workers of jute mills, JDP-MSMEs
    NJB provides Scholarship / Incentive support to the girl children of the workers of Jute Mills / JDP – MSME units on passing out Secondary and Higher Secondary examinations. Scholarship / Incentive of Rs. 1133.05 lakh have been given to 17,722 girl children of Jute Mills / JDP MSME workers for being successful in Secondary and Higher secondary examinations from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

    JUTE –ICARE (Jute: Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise)
    National Jute Board (NJB) in association with Jute Corporation of India Ltd (JCI) and Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (CRIJAF), Ministry of Agriculture is implementing an scheme for welfare of Jute farmers namely Jute –ICARE (Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) for the last four years in a phased manner covering 69 blocks under jute growing states till 2018-19. Through this scheme, the farmers have been encouraged to grow jute by using certified seeds, adopting scientific technique in jute cultivation and retting to produce quality jute and increase productivity and to reduce the cost of jute production for the jute farmers.

    Incentive Scheme for Acquisition of Plant & Machinery
    Keeping in mind the need to modernise the jute mills by increasing their productivity and to replace the old machines by new and technologically advanced machines; National Jute Board (NJB) has been implementing schemes for modernization of jute industry. The scheme has been instrumental in bringing new investment to the industry. The ISAPM scheme has been launched in 2013 with an incentive @20% of the cost of machineries to Jute mills and 30% to the MSME –JDP units. During 2014-15 to 2018-19, capital subsidy amounting to Rs. 4971.19 lakhs to jute mills and JDP units has been released.

    Market Promotion Support
    Market Promotion support is provided to the jute artisans, entrepreneurs, weavers, NGOs, Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) for selling, marketing and promotion of their products in India and abroad. The fairs organized by NJB are means of livelihood to these groups of people. Some of the prominent events among others were – IITF, Delhi, Surajkund Mela, Tex Trends, Delhi, Taj Mahotsav, Lucknow Mahotsav, Shilpgram Udaipur, Giftex, Mumbai, Indian Handicrafts and gift fair, Greater Noida etc where National Jute Board organise and facilitate participation of jute units for promotion of jute products. The Market Promotion Support beneficiaries are JDP Units, Jute Mills, WSHGs etc.. The Market promotion fairs/exhibitions are organised and participated in throughout the country. NJB also provides export promotion supports to the jute exporters and facilitate participation in International fairs Business delegation, Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) for boosting exports.
    Design Development Scheme – NJB Jute Design Cell at NID
    A Jute Design Cell for development of Jute Shopping Bags and Lifestyle Accessories has been set up at the Innovative Centre for Natural Fibres (ICNF) of National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.
    Jute Integrated Development Scheme (JIDS)
    JID Scheme aims at setting up local units and agencies at distant locations around the country through collaboration with bonafide bodies to carry out various activities. JID agencies act as a facilitator for providing Basic, Advance and Design Development training programmes and rendering the backward and forward linkages to the existing and potential entrepreneurs at grass-root levels mainly on technology application and design /product development and disseminations.
    Jute Raw Material Bank (JRMB) Scheme
    The scheme has been designed to make jute raw material available to the small and tiny artisans / entrepreneurs locally at mill gate price, suiting to the present requirement and sustainability of the decentralized JDP sector in the country.

    Export Market Development Assistance Scheme
    Export Market Development Assistance (EMDA) Scheme facilitates registered manufacturers and exporters of jute products to participate in international fairs and business delegation abroad for export promotion of lifestyle and other JDPs and boost exports. During 2014-15 to 2018-19, an amount of Rs. 17.21 crores has been disbursed to registered jute exporters for participation in international fairs under the scheme.
    Retail Outlet of Jute Diversified Products and Bulk Supply Scheme
    Retail Outlet scheme supports supply chain and bulk supply of JDPs by the jute entrepreneurs for selective and mass consumption. During 2014-15 to 2018-19, an amount of Rs. 347.90 lakh has been provided to 80 beneficiaries/entrepreneurs under this scheme.

    9. Update:Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

     

     

     

    • It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
    • It includes provision of death penalty in cases of sexual offences against children.
    • The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
    • Amendments are also proposed to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and in other situations where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.
    • The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
    • It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity.
    • The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.
    • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
    • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
    • The Act casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), should the need arise.
    • The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
    • The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.
    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    10. Congo confirms 1st Ebola case in city of Goma

     

     

    • The Health Ministry Congo has confirmed the country’s first Ebola case in the city of Goma, home to more than 2 million people.
    • The regional capital in eastern Congo borders neighbouring Rwanda, which has been preparing for possible cases since an outbreak began nearly a year ago.
    • The person with the confirmed case announced late Sunday is a pastor who had been in the town of Butembo.
    • The announcement marks a serious escalation of Congo’s Ebola crisis. The outbreak that started last August already is the second deadliest in history. More than 1,600 people in eastern Congo have died as the virus has spread in areas too dangerous for health teams to access.
    • There is an experimental vaccine, but it hasn’t been universally accepted by people in the region.

     

    11. Over 5 billion dollar penalty imposed on Pakistan in Reko Diq case

     

    • An international arbitration court has imposed a penalty of over five billion dollars on Pakistan for unlawful denial of a mining lease to a company for the Reko Diq project in 2011.
    • The Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) had filed claims for international arbitration before the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 2012 after the Balochistan government rejected a leasing request from the company.
    • The company had claimed 11.43 billion dollars in damages. The case between the Pakistan government and the company continued for seven years.
    • The TCC completed an extensive and detailed bankable feasibility study establishing the basis for mine development at Reko Diq during August 2010 and submitted a mining lease application in February 2011, along with an environmental and social impact assessment report, the paper said.
    • The Reko Diq mine is famous for its vast gold and copper reserves.
    • The project stopped in November 2011, when the Balochistan government summarily rejected the application by the TCC’s local operating subsidiary for a mining lease in respect of Reko Diq.
    • The Pakistan Attorney General’s office today said Prime Minister Imran Khan issued orders for the formation of a commission to investigate and fix responsibility for the massive loss borne by the country in the Reko Diq case.

     

     

     

    12. US: Tropical storm Barry weakens after making landfall in Louisiana

     

     

    • In the US, slow-moving tropical storm Barry weakened today after making landfall in the southern state Louisiana.
    • After briefly becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm following its landfall yesterday.
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Barry could still cause disastrous flooding across a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast of the United States overnight. Edwards warned residents to remain vigilant as it is expected to produce days of heavy rain.
    • Flash flood warnings have affected about 11.7 million people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.
    • Mississippi and Alabama have been hit the hardest so far, with the Alabama city of Mobile reporting a total of 136mm of rain in the last 36 hours.

     

     

     

    13. US Prez Trump pulled out of Iran nuclear deal as it was associated with Obama suggests Kim Darroch

     

     

     

    • Britain’s ambassador to Washington, who has now resigned, believed that US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal because it was associated with his predecessor Barack Obama.
    • Ambassador Kim Darroch wrote in a diplomatic cable in May 2018 that the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons as it was Obama’s deal. The cable was included in a second batch of leaked reports published by a UK newspaper, the first of which caused Darroch to resign earlier this week.
    • Kim Darroch was reported to have described the White House as inept, prompting Donald Trump to claim the ambassador was a fool whom he would no longer deal with.
    • Darroch resigned on Wednesday, saying it was now impossible to do his job. In May 2018, Britain’s then-foreign minister Boris Johnson went to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to abandon the Iran deal.
    • In a cable sent afterwards, Darroch reportedly indicated there were divisions in Trump’s team over the decision, and criticised the White House for a lack of long-term strategy.

     

     

     

    14. Air force plane brings back first batch of 58 Indian pilgrims standard in coronavirus hit Iran

     

     

     

     

    • The first batch of 58 Indian pilgrims from Tehran, Iran landed at the Indian Air Force Station at Hindon in Ghaziabad this morning. The passengers are being screened by medical experts. They were brought by C-17 Globemaster military aircraft from the Corona virus-hit Iran.
    • External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar thanked Indian Embassy in Iran for their efforts and the Indian medical team there, for operating under challenging conditions and also the Indian Air Force and also appreciated the Iranian authorities for their cooperation.
    • The Minister also said that the government is working on the return of other Indians stranded in Iran.

     

     

     

    SPORTS NEWS

    15. Badminton: All England Championships to begin at Birmingham tomorrow; P V Sindhu to lead Indian contingent

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Undeterred by the Coronavirus outbreak, Indian shuttlers will continue to chase glory at the All England Championships beginning in Birmingham tomorrow, with reigning world champion P V Sindhu spearheading the campaign.
    • The season’s first Super 1000 event witnessed a dramatic build-up in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 3,800 lives and infected more than one lakh people globally.
    • A number of tournaments, including the German Open, was postponed since the deadly disease first broke out in Wuhan, China, affecting the preparation of the shuttlers for the Tokyo Olympics.
    • Sindhu, Former silver medallist Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will eye valuable points to squeeze inside the top 16 before the deadline for Olympic qualification ends on 28th of April.
    • World championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth, who is also almost assured of a berth at Tokyo, will open against China’s Zhao Jun Peng.
    • Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who is coming back after recovering from a back injury at Spain Masters last month, will be up against Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in the opener.
    • Among other Indians, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Siki Reddy will face Australian pair of Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville in women’s doubles, while Sikki will pair up with Pranaav Jerry Chopra to take on top-seeded Chinese Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong.

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