• Current Affair , 19th March 2020


    1. Lok Sabha takes up discussion and voting on Demands for Grants for UTs JK, Ladakh

    • Lok Sabha has taken up the discussion and voting on Demands for Grants for Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Minister of State for PMO Dr. Jitendra Singh said that after the abrogation of Article 370, a new kind of confidence is instilled in the both new Union Territories.
    • Condemning the opposition accusations, he said, Jammu & Kashmir is moving towards a new beginning. He said, investors are queuing up to invest in various sectors in J&K. Dr. Singh informed the house that corruption has been controlled and law and order situation is better than ever. Local body elections gave for the first time a sense of self rule in the State.
    • Dr. Jitendra Singh said, increase in GST, Excise collections and growing exports, Ayushman Bharat cards show the emerging picture of J&K.
    • Earlier, initiating the discussion Congress MP Manish Tiwari alleged that after 7 months of abrogation of Article 370 the message to the people of J&K sent is that Government is interested in territory but not in the people. He said, students, agriculture and tourism sectors are the worst hit during the period.
    • BJP member Jagadambika Pal said, the Article 370 was removed to facilitate implementation of all laws made in the parliament. DMK member A Raja questioned whether people of J&K are in a position to receive the budget sanctioned for them. TMC member Prof. Saugat Roy appealed to restore the normalcy in J&K. The discussion is continuing .

    2. Indian Navy upscales its Infection Prevention and Control activities to deal with coronavirus infection

    • Indian Navy has upscaled its Infection Prevention and Control, IPC activities to deal with novel coronavirus infection. 44 evacuees from Iran are under quarantine at Indian Navy quarantine camp at Ghatkopar in Mumbai and are asymptomatic.
    • Activities involving crowding of people, such as film shows and social gatherings have been suspended. Separate Fever Clinics have been set up in all Naval Hospitals. Community education programmes through posters and flyers have been intensified.
    • Quarantine camps are also being readied at Vizag and Kochi. Instructions have been issued for quarantine of Indian Naval Ships returning from countries with community transmission of COVID-19 or carrying any suspected COVID-19 patients
    • Advisories for educating the personnel, hand hygiene and personnel protection have been issued for all sailors on board Indian naval Ships operating in international waters. Personnel onboard Indian Navy Ships on essential foreign missions have been equipped with essential supplies and advised to follow IPC measures strictly.

    3. Harsh Vardhan chairs high-level review meeting with senior officials on COVID-19

    • Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today chaired a high-level review meeting with senior officials of the Ministry, Medical Superintendent or Director of Central Government Hospitals such as Safdurjung, Dr RML Hospital and AIIMS in New Delhi.
    • Dr Vardhan appreciated the various actions being undertaken in close coordination with various Ministries at the central level, States as well as Indian embassies abroad. He also lauded the States for active surveillance, effective contact tracing and their preparedness for containment and management of COVID-19.
    • He reviewed the preparedness regarding hospital management such as OPD blocks, availability of testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs), medicines, and adequate isolation wards. He directed hospitals to ensure adequate availability of protective gear for all healthcare workers.
    • He was informed that adequate quantity of Personal Protection Equipments (PPE), masks, sanitizers and handheld thermometers are being procured and provided to the designated places as per demand along with maintaining the stock to address any future demand.
    • Dr Harsh Vardhan reviewed in great detail the quarantine facilities for the evacuees including the ones at the airports or other key transit points, in terms of segregation of passengers, transportation to the quarantine facilities and health checks-ups.
    • The Health Minister has directed for teams to be deputed to regularly inspect and monitor the quarantine facilities to ensure that the necessary amenities and facilities are being provided.
    • The Minister stated that he will be reviewing the same everyday with the aim of improving them. He further added that he is reviewing the situation with the respective States and Union Territories.
    • Highlighting the importance of effective communication as a tool of crisis management, Dr. Harsh Vardhan advised for multi-media communication campaigns.
    • These campaigns would focus on different aspects such as preventive measures, busting myths, equipping the masses with information on guidelines, advisories and testing labs.

    4. Motor Vehicles(Amended) Act 2019

    • Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari revealed that the number of deaths caused due to road accidents has been reduced by 10% in India after the Motor Vehicles(Amended) Act 2019.
    • From 12 states and union territories, Tamil Nadu made notable progress in reducing road accidents by 24% which is the maximum anywhere in the country.
    • Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh showed 15% reduction, Gujarat- 14%,Uttar Pradesh 13%, Andhra Pradesh 7%, Manipur- 4% in the number of deaths due to accidents.
    • Kerala & Assam showed a rise of 4.9% & 8% in deaths due to road accidents.
    • Government pledged to reduce 50% accidents in the next 5 years & India signed an agreement to this at the World Safety Conference held in Sweden on 19–20 February 2020.
    • Within the next 1 month to ensure flawless traffic FASTag, electronic toll collection will handle 98% of transactions currently it handles 73%.

    5. Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra closed from today due to coronavirus

    • In view of the advisories issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the J&K Government considering the spread of coronavirus, Yatra to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji has been closed .
    • This has been done to ensure the safety of the pilgrims and the people at large. The pilgrims are requested not to plan their visit to the Holy Cave Shrine till the situation normalises completely.
    • However, Pooja, Aarti and other rituals shall be held at the Holy Cave Shrine as usual.

    6. SC refuses proposal to produce rebel MP Cong MLAs in judges chamber

    • The Supreme Court today refused to accept the proposal for producing 16 rebel MLAs of Madhya Pradesh Congress in judges’ chamber, and observed that they may or may not go to the Assembly but they cannot be held captive.
    • A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said it is not going to come in the way of the legislature to decide who enjoys the trust but it has to ensure that there is a free exercise of choice which these 16 MLAs can make.
    • The bench declined the offer of the rebel Congress MLAs saying it would not be appropriate and also refused to send its Registrar General to meet them. It then deferred the hearing for tomorrow at 10.30 am.
    • The bench was hearing cross petitions filed by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Congress on the ongoing political crisis in the state after 22 rebel MLAs of the ruling combine purportedly offered to resign.
    • The court yesterday asked the Kamal Nath government in the state to respond by today to a plea by Mr Chouhan seeking immediate floor test in the Assembly.

    7. Piyush Goyal reviews measures taken by Railways to check spread of coronavirus

    • The biggest transport utility of the country, Indian Railways has been taking a series of proactive measures to stop the spread of Corona Virus in the country. Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal today reviewed the progress of preparedness of his Ministry in this regard.
    • The meeting was attended by Chairman, Railway Board, Members of the Railway Board besides all the General Managers and Divisional Railway Managers from all the zones who linked up through a video conferencing.
    • Chairman, Railway Board briefed the Minister on the measures taken as a part of the national efforts in fighting the spread of Corona Virus. The measures include, creation of quarantine facilities all over the railway network for any eventuality, upscaling the cleanliness and hygiene of all the Railway trains and station premises.
    • Dissemination of various advisories being issued by Ministry of Health, Department of Personnel and Training regarding social distancing, minimizing the unnecessary travel, observation of infection related preventive measures and other operational measures to prevent the spread of virus. Help Desks at various stations in association with State Governments are being made available.
    • Cleanliness of coaches, toilets, pantry cars and all passenger interface points will be strictly adhered to and adequate availability of hand washing material and water has to be ensured in trains, platforms and offices. Meetings involving mass gathering, trainings and conferences are being discouraged.
    • Ministry of Railways is ensuring adequate availability of gadgets to the staff involved in screening and cleaning, wherever required. Regular Announcement are being done on Railway Stations and trains to sensitize the public about various Dos and Don’ts highlighting frequent washing of hands, maintaining social distance, covering the mouth while sneezing and coughing, precautions to be taken if one has running fever and not spitting anywhere in the Rail premises. He also informed that instructions have been given to all stakeholders to avoid unnecessary crowding at Railway Stations in wake of spread of COVID 19. It has been advised that the DRMs may review the situation over railway stations and raise the price of Platform Ticket to 50 rupees wherever deemed necessary, to avoid overcrowding at stations.
    • While appreciating the efforts of Indian Railways, the Minister directed all concerned to continue the hardwork and not to relent till the battle against the pandemic is won. He also conveyed the appreciation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the hard work of employees of Indian Railways.
    • The Minister specifically directed for additional measures be immediately taken to continuously monitor the work on this front. These measures are, creation of online dashboard for better coordination between officials of Ministry and various Zonal Railways. Through this Dashboard, online monitoring of day to day COVID 19 preparedness activities and their progress is to be done.
    • The Minister has asked for constitution of a COVID-19 Rapid response team comprising six Executive Directors from Railway Board to coordinate the efforts of Indian Railways across all the zones. This Team will coordinate all COVID-19 preparedness activities.
    • One nodal officer from each zone will serve as point of contact for all COVID-19 preparedness measures and will be in constant touch with the COVID-19 Response team of Railway Board. Advisories will be issued to passengers to avoid non-essential train journeys and to ensure that they do not have running fever while they are commencing the journey.
    • At any point of journey if passenger feels that he is having fever, he can contact the Railway Staff for medical attention and further assistance. Ministry of Railways said, compliance with the directives is being continuously monitored all over the Indian Railways

    8. 39th GST Council meet

    • several decisions have been taken regarding the GST mechanism on particular sections during the 39th GST Council meet in New Delhi headed by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Union Minister of State (MoS) for Finance & Corporate Affairs Shri Anurag Thakur also attended the meet. One of the decisions includes calculation of delayed GST payment on the net tax liabilityw.e.f. 1st July 2017, the day the GST came into force.Net cash tax liability is arrived at after deducting the input tax credits available from gross tax liability. Following are the other changes approved during the meet:
    • GST on mobile phones and specified parts were increased to 18% from 12%.
    • GST on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) service in respect to aircraft was reduced to 5%from 18% with full ITC (Input Tax Credit).
    • GST on all types of matchsticks has been rationalised to a single GST rate of 12%. Till now, the handmade ones were taxed at 5% and the rest was taxed at 18%.
    • All rate related changes will come into effect on 1 April.
    • GST council has introduced KYShas been so that the taxpayers get the basic details of the suppliers and also able to identify the compliance of the supplier.
    • The implementation of new GST return (GSTR) system and e-invoicing with QR code has been postponed to 1st October 2020 while the present return system (GSTR-1, GSTR-2A & GSTR-3B) will be continued until September 2020.
    • The GSTR-9 & 9C deadline is extended to 30 June 2020 for FY 2018-19. Also, the turnover limit will be increased from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore for mandatory annual return filing. Hence, filing GSTR-9C is optional for the taxpayers having the turnover less than Rs 5 crore. Also, the taxpayers with an aggregate annual turnover of less than Rs 2 crore in FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 will not pay any late fee for delayed filing of GSTR-9.
    • Infosys Chairman, MrNandanNilekaniwill present progress updates about the GST IT systems at the next three GST Council meetings which will be ensured by Infosys by July 2020.
    • The time limit for finalisation of the e-Wallet scheme for consumers is extended till 31st March 2021.
    • A special GST procedure was prescribed during the CIRP period for the GST registered corporates who are undergoing insolvency/resolution procedure under IBC Code, 2016.
    • A transition plan is laid down till 31st May 2020 for the taxpayers belonging to Dadra and Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu, due to the merger in January 2020.

    9. Rajya Sabha takes up National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill 2019 for discussion

    • Rajya Sabha has taken up two bills the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill 2019 and the National Commission for Homoeopathy Medicine Bill 2019 in the post lunch session for discussion.
    • Initiating the discussion, Dr. Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party wanted that the Indian system of medicine should be promoted as the allopathic system is costlier.
    • He suggested the inclusion of yoga and naturopathy in it. Dr. Amar Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal said, the bills have addressed only the structural issues.
    • He stressed the need for extensive research in the Indian system of medicine. Supporting the bill, Kahkashan Parween of Janata Dal- United suggested the constitution of separate boards and the provision of adequate funds in the budget.

    • Dr. Banda Prasad of Telangana Rashtra Samithi wanted that an independent body should be constituted for the Indian system of medicine with more representation from states and union territories.

    10. Yes Bank to start full fledged banking operations

    • Yes Bank CEO-designate Prashant Kumar has assured customers that complete operational normalcy will be restored from 6 PM today. Stating that there are absolutely no worries on the liquidity front, Mr. Kumar said all the bank branches and ATMs have adequate supply of cash. He also clarified that there would not be any need to depend on external sources for liquidity.

    • Assuring depositors that there is no need to worry about the safety of their deposits, Mr. Kumar said customers will enjoy all the banking services as they did before the moratorium.

    • Mr. Kumar also ruled out a forensic audit of the lender’s books but also remained non-committal on continuing to pay the present 5-6 per cent interest on deposits. The retired SBI banker, who will formally take over as the Chief Executive and Managing Director on 26th of this month, said he expects recoveries worth 8,500-10,000 crore rupees in the March quarter itself as provision of almost 72 percent has already been made.

    • It may be recalled that Reserve Bank had imposed a moratorium on Yes Bank earlier this month, capping withdrawals at 50,000 rupees per depositor after it found that the new management is unable to raise the urgent core capital which had fallen much below the mandated level.

    • The moratorium will be lifted at 6 PM today, as per the reconstruction scheme notified and that it will be back to normal operations. Besides SBI being a major shareholder now, ICICI Bank, HDFC, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bandhan Bank, Federal Bank and IDFC First have also invested in the private lender as per the reconstruction scheme announced by Reserve Bank.


    11. PM Modi proposed the creation of COVID 19 emergency fund; SAARC: India offers the US $10 million

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed the formulation of a common strategy to tackle COVID-19(Coronavirus) in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region during the video conference with SAARC representatives. PM Modi has proposed the creation of COVID-19 Emergency Fund through voluntary contributions from all SAARC Nations. This fund can be used by any of the partner countries to meet the cost of immediate actions. India has offered the US $10 million for the fund.
    • India is also assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists, along with testing kits and other equipment, on standby mode, as an aid for other countries, if required.
    • India is also assembling a Rapid Response Team of doctors and specialists, along with testing kits and other equipment, on standby mode, as an aid for other countries, if required.
    • -An online training capsule is arranged for the emergency response teams of the neighbouring countries and India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Portalis shared to help trace possible virus carriers.
    • –SAARC Disaster Management Centre will be used for effective and efficient practises.
    • -A common Research Platform will be created to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within the South Asian region (SAR).
    • India has successfully evacuated almost 1400 Indians from different countries along with some citizens of the neighbouring countries in accordance with the ‘Neighbourhood first policy’.
    • Indian government provided medical assistance to the Maldives to deal with COVID-19 cases and for evacuating nine Maldivians from Wuhan.
    • 23 Bangladeshi students brought back from Wuhan along with Indian students.

    12. Coronavirus: Europe toll exceeds Asia’s count

    • Coronavirus deaths in Europe have exceeded the toll in Asia for the first time, a tally of official data showed.
    • By 1100 GMT, Europe counted at least 3,421 deaths, compared with 3,384 for Asia, where China was the initial epicentre of a pandemic which has infected more than 194,000 people globally and killed 7,873.
    • Italy has the most fatalities in Europe with 2,503.
    • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has cancelled all her appointments for the next few months and is set to leave Buckingham Palace tomorrow, amid the coronavirus outbreak which has claimed 71 lives in the country.
    • The Queen, who turns 94 next month, was to host a series of garden parties and Easter related events but will now spend time indoors in Windsor, in consultation with her medical experts and the UK government.
    • Her regular audiences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson are set to continue for now but the palace said that as a sensible precaution and for practical reasons, a number of other changes are being made to the rest of her diary.
    • The annual Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor ahead of Good Friday next month will not go ahead.
    • Other events, including a planned State Visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, in the coming months will also be reassessed.

    13. WHO calls for South East Asia nations to scale up aggressive measures to combat Corona virus

    • The World Health Organization has called for South East Asia nations to scale up aggressive measures to combat the growing Corona virus outbreak. It comes as infections in the region continue to rise, forcing countries to lock down borders and close schools. South East Asia region contains 11 countries, almost all of which have now recorded virus cases. It includes Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh and North Korea.
    • Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO for South East Asia region yesterday said that more clusters of virus transmission are being confirmed. The WHO has said the numbers coming out of South East Asia show that some countries are clearly heading towards community transmission of Covid-19. It called for continued efforts to detect, test, treat, isolate and trace contacts.
    • According to WHO, there are now 1,97,139 confirmed cases worldwide, with 7,916 global deaths recorded. The main bulk of deaths come from China, where the virus first emerged last December. But the virus is now spreading faster outside China than inside, with a lot of the focus moving to Europe, where cases have spiked over recent weeks.
    • The European Union has now ban travellers from outside the bloc for 30 days, as cases continue to soar in Italy and Spain.

    14. French Open tennis tournament postponed till September

    • The French Open Tennis has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will take place from 20th September to 4th October. Organisers said, the Grand Slam event was to have taken place from 24th May to 7th June.
    • The new dates would mean the tournament would start just one week after the US Open, if that event remains in its scheduled slot.

    15. Euro-2020 football tournament postponed by one year due to COVID-19 threat

    • The Euro-2020 football tournament has been postponed by one year until 2021 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. This was stated by the Norwegian Football Association. It said that the decision was taken at an emergency video conference convened by European football’s governing body, UEFA involving major stakeholders.
    • The Norwegian FA said, it was decided that the tournament will now take place from 11th June to 11th of July next year. The tournament was due to take place from 12th June to 12th of July this year at 12 venues across Europe.

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