• Current Affair , 12th March 2020




    1. Update on COVID-19:Cabinet Secretary chairs high level review meeting


    • Cabinet Secretary held a high-level meeting, here today, with Secretaries of the concerned Ministries/Departments to review the status, actions, preparedness and management of COVID-19 cases in the country.
    • An Advisory is issued for all incoming international passengers retuning to India to self-monitor their health and follow the recommended “DOs and DON’Ts”, since more than 100 countries across the world now have reported cases of COVID-19 and travelers to these countries, or any person having travelled abroad, might possibly have come in contact with people affected with COVID-19 during their stay there or even while in transit at airports.
    • The Advisory also calls for passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany to undergo self-imposed quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival, and their employers to facilitate work-from-home for such employees during this period.
    • With respect to restrictions on visa, besides the already issued instructions, all regular Visas (including e Visas) which have been granted to nationals of France, Germany and Spain on or before 11.03.2020 and where these foreigners have not yet entered India stands suspended. Regular visas (including e Visas)granted to all foreign nationals who have travel history to these countries on or after 1.2.2020 and who have not yet entered India also stands suspended.  Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid and they may contact the nearest FRRO/FRO through e-FRRO module for extension/conversion etc of their visa or grant of any consular service, if they choose to do so. A notification to this effect is being issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).
    • Further, in continuation of already issued advisories on travel to India citizens, India citizens are strongly advised to refrain from travelling to France, Spain and Germany.
    • A total of fifty (50) confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country, till now. After the 44 positive cases declared yesterday, three (3) positive cases were reported from Bengaluru (with travel history from the US via Dubai); one (1) more from Bengaluru with travel history from US via Heathrow; and two (2) positive cases from Pune (travel history from Dubai). Three (3) of thetotal cases(earlier cases from Kerala) have been discharged now. Of these 50 cases, 34 cases are Indian nationals and 16 are Italians. In addition, the two deaths reported from Murshidabad and Ladakh yesterday in the media were both found to be negative for COVID-19.
    • More than 1400 contacts have been put under surveillance for these positive cases, till date.Also, 404 Indian contacts of the US citizen tested positive for COVID-19 in Bhutan have been identified and put under surveillance in Assam.
    • Additionally, the first batch of 58 evacuees from Iran arrived today with 25 men, 31 women and 2 children on board. The IAF C-17 flight arrived at 9.27 am today. All the evacuees are monitored and clinically stable presently.



    1. 130th Foundation Day of National Archives of India, 


    • On the occasion of 130thFoundation Day of National Archives of India (NAI), Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism(Independent Charge), Shri Prahlad Singh Patel will inaugurate an exhibition  “Jallianwala Bagh”on 11thMarch 2020 at 5.00 pm at the premises of National Archives, New Delhi.Based on the original documents, this exhibition is an endeavour to commemorate the centenary of JallianwalaBagh Massacre covering a period from (1915-50).
    • The present exhibition is primarily presented with the help of original and digital copies of archival documents relating to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre available in National Archives of India. This is an earnest attempt to portray the relentless struggle of the Indian people against the British tyranny through our record holdings.
    • The inauguration of exhibition will be preceded by the Foundation Day Lecture by Smt. Kishwar Desai,  on Jallianwala Bagh at 11.00 am at National Archives, New Delhi.
    • The National Archives of India is an Attached Office under the Ministry of Culture.  It was established on 11 March 1891 at Kolkata (Calcutta) as the Imperial Record Department.  Following the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, the present building of the National Archives of India was constructed in 1926 which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
    • The transfer of all records from Calcutta to New Delhi was completed in 1937. It is the nodal agency for the implementation of the Public Records Act, 1993 and Public Record Rules, 1997. The exhibition will remain open for public viewing till 30 April 2020.


    1. 43rd Annual Day of the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW)


    • “It is because of our strength of active community surveillance that we have been able to do effective contact tracing of cases of COVID-19 in India,” said Dr. Harsh Vardhan here today, while presiding over the 43rdAnnual Day of the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW).
    • Emphasising the role of Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres in countering  public health challenges through focus on preventive and positive health, Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated, “Public health is being strengthened through Ayushman Bharat – Health & Wellness Centres, with screening for BP, diabetes, three types of cancers, leprosy etc. With the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, there is a need for enhanced focus on preventive health. This has been prioritized in the National Health Policy 2017, as well.”
    • Noting the importance of co-operation among different institutions, he further added, “Synergy between organizations is needed to avoid duplication of efforts especially for organizations in public health. There is huge potential in our institutions but only some of them are utilising their full potential. This is the right time for everyone to put efforts into micro-diagnosis, such as a final push for reduction in MMR, IMR, U5MR. To achieve this objective, fine tuning of our strategy as well as rethinking of our policies is needed. A new approach needs to be taken and Research & Training organisations and public health institutions have to take a lead role. Renewed enthusiasm and dynamic energy are required to achieve this”, he added.
    • Harsh Vardhan presented academic awards during the function. He also awarded best employees of the year. The National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW) is situated in Delhi and was established in 1977. NIHFW is the premier organisation under M/o Health and Family Welfare for capacity building through training of health professionals, frontline health workers such as ASHAs and ANMs and other central and state officers & healthcare staff. On the occasion of 43rdAnnual Day of NIHFW, Dr. D.S. Gangwar, AS&FA, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harshad Thakur, Director, NIHFW, Prof. V.K. Tiwari, Dean, NIHFW along with officials from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and NIHFW were present during the meeting.



    1. Quota within quota for SCs in Haryana

    • The Haryana cabinet has recently approved the draft bill ‘The Haryana Scheduled Castes (Reservation in Admission in Educational Institutions) bill, 2020.’

    This bill provides quota within quota for SCs in the state.

    Key provisions and highlights of the Bill:

    • The bill provides reservation of 50% seats to the deprived scheduled castes,out of the total 20% reserved for SC in the graduation and postgraduation courses.
    • This will cover all educational institutions maintained by the government or receiving aid out of the state funds.It also includes government and government-aided technical and professional institutions.
    • Here, deprived SC includes all 36 castes which were part of Block Aincluding Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera.
    • As per employees data collected, the total number of the SC employees in the state is nearly 22% of the total strength. However, in respect of representation in various services, the erstwhile Block A scheduled castes representation in Group-A, Group-B and Group-C services is only 4.7 per cent, 4.14 per cent and 6.27 per cent respectively, though their population is about 11% of the total state population.
    • The Block A scheduled castes or the deprived scheduled castes were not so educationally qualified as the data from SECC 2011 indicates. Only 2.13% population of the deprived SCs is graduate, 3.78% of them are senior secondary and 6.74% are matriculate. Besides, 33.63% of them are illiterate. This makes them a distinct class of citizens who are deprived of their constitutional right of equality due to lack of education. Thus, it was decided to provide such reservation in admission to candidates belonging to deprived SCs.
    • Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorises the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions.
    • Criticisms:
    • This move is being criticised on the ground that it creates division within a class. Instead of this, critics say, the government should have offered special package or scholarship to Block A to upgrade their educational status.
    • What has the Supreme Court said in such matters?
    • The Supreme Court of India in the case of E.V. Chinnaiah Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (2004(9) SCALE)has held that the castes etc. specified as Scheduled Castes under Article 341 of the Constitution is a homogeneous group for the purpose of the Constitution.
    • The court said that the benefits of reservation are available to members of all such castes which have been specified as Scheduled Caste in relation to a State/Union Territory.
    • This case deals with the issue that whether the schedule caste can further be sub-divided so that the benefit of reservation can reach to the outreach.
    • The main part of the judgement of the Court is heavily relied upon the argument that when the groups are been notified by the President in the list under Article 341 of the Constitution, the same take the shape of a homogenous class and thus there cannot be any further classification of the class.



    1. Input Tax Credit


    • Restrictions imposed on the input tax credit, used by business establishments to reduce their tax liability, on inward supplies under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act have been challenged in the Rajasthan High Court with the plea that the amendment made to a rule to introduce the provision had imposed “unreasonable and arbitrary” conditions.
    • The amended Rule 36 (4) of the CGST Rules, 2017,provides that the input tax credit can be availed only when a supplier of goods updates and uploads online the details of supplies through each of the bills. The petition now contended that the right to avail of credit could not be taken away by imposing the restrictions contained in the provisions of Section 43A of the Act, which was yet to be notified, through rules.
    • It is the tax that a business pays on a purchase and that it can use to reduce its tax liability when it makes a sale.
    • In simple terms, input credit means at the time of paying tax on output, you can reduce the tax you have already paid on inputs and pay the balance amount.
    • Exceptions: A business under composition scheme cannot avail of input tax credit. ITC cannot be claimed for personal use or for goods that are exempt.
    • There could be possibility of misuse of the provision by unscrupulous businesses by generating fake invoices just to claim tax credit.
    • As much as 80% of the total GST liability is being settled by ITC and only 20% is deposited as cash.
    • Under the present dispensation, there is no provision for real time matching of ITC claims with the taxes already paid by suppliers of inputs.
    • The matching is done on the basis of system generated GSTR-2A, after the credit has been claimed. Based on the mismatch highlighted by GSTR-2A and ITC claims, the revenue department sends notices to businesses.
    • Currently there is a time gap between ITC claim and matching them with the taxes paid by suppliers. Hence there is a possibility of ITC being claimed on the basis of fake invoices.



    1. GI tag for Basmati Failed



    • Madhya Pradesh government’s struggle to join the elite ‘basmati’ league has failed once again as the Madras high court has dismissed the state’s plea seeking geographical indication (GI) tag for basmati rice grown in areas falling under the state.
    • Two GI certificates of registration for a same produce cannot be issued.
    • The petitioners have an alternative and efficacious remedy available by filing an application to the registrar of trademark seeking to cancel or vary the GI certificate issued to APEDA.
    • In May 2010, GI status was given to basmati grown only in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
    • But, Madhya Pradesh demanded that its 13 districts be recognised as traditional Basmati growing regions.
    • However, GI registry had rejected Madhya Pradesh’s claim as being the original and unique basmati growing region. It had observed that the documents and evidence filed by Madhya Pradesh show the importance, special characters of rice cultivated in Madhya Pradesh but not the basmati cultivation in the traditional growing area.
    • Madhya Pradesh says non-inclusion of the state in the basmati growing areas would have an adverse effect on the lives of farmers who mainly depend upon basmati cultivation and it will also affect the export potential, which will indirectly reduce the country’s turnover from the export of basmati.
    • A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
    • At the International level: Geographical Indications are covered as a component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.GI is also governed by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
    • In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force with effect from September 2003. The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling teain the year 2004-05.


    1. 128 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances


    • CPCB has said that there are 128 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances. West Bengal led the list with 27 sites followed by Odisha at 23.
    • It is a statutory organisation.
    • Constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
    • It was also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
    • It is the apex organisation in country in the field of pollution control, as a technical wing of MoEFC.
    • The board is led by its Chairperson, who is generally a career civil servant.


    1. ‘Stree shakti’ is an integral part of our ‘rashtra shakti’



    • Women empowermenthas become one of the biggest movements in India nowadays and many Indian women have proven to be the building blocks of the movement.
    • With their pure passion for their work and their good deeds, they are very well a true inspiration for everyone.
    • Since times immemorial, women in India have been regarded with the utmost respect and accorded prestige.For a nation to progress, it is essential to empower women.
    • International Women’s Dayis celebrated across the globe on March 8 every year to recognise the achievements of women, across divides, national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
    • It provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress made, to call for change and celebrate acts of courage and determinationby those women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and with regard to communities.

    The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 is, “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”.

    • Women Position and Empowerment in India’s culture:
    • We are a nation in which women’s empowermenthas been imbibed in our culture for centuries.
    • In the modern day context, it demands strengthening women’s positions in the social, economic, political and security architectures.
    • The targeted outcome of such empowerment is the creation of an atmosphere where women feel safe and secure to pursue a profession or vocation of their choice.
    • Women should play decisive roles in the family and society equally, so that any question of discrimination or deprivation does not arise.
    • When it comes to women, security is typically conceived of in terms of physical safety and security and not beyond.


    1. Centre constitutes Delimitation commission for J&K, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal



    • In exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, the Central government has set up a Delimitation Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, for the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh(AP), Manipur and Nagaland.
    • The Ministry of Law and Justice has issued a notification in this context.\
    • The Commission will also comprise of  2 members,namely, an Election Commissioner (presently Mr. Sushil Chandra) and the State Election Commissioners of the respective States and UT,who will be made ex-officio members of the commission. Ranjana Prakash has been appointed for a period of one year.
    • The Commission is mandated to delimit the Lok Sabha and Assembly Constituencies in J&K under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act,2019 while the provisions of the Delimitation Act 2002 will delimit Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. Delimitation was done based on the 2001 census.
    • The Section 60 of the J&K Reorganisation Act,2019 stipulates that the number of seats in its Legislative Assembly will be increased to 114, from the present 107. Of these, 24 seats have been reserved for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
    • Such Delimitation Commissions have been formed 4 times in India – in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
    • It is appointed by the President of India (presently Ram Nath Kovind) and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.



    1. NIGHA application



    • Andhra Pradesh (AP) Chief Minister (CM) Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy launched the NIGHA applicationat Vijayawada, AP. The app is aimed at curbing the use of money and alcohol in the upcoming local body elections. The app was developed by Panchayat Raj, which was launched in addition to the measures taken by State Election Commission and police department in order to control the electoral malpractices.
    • About NIGHA App:Citizens can download the NIGHA app on their smartphones and it allows the people to upload photos and videos of distribution of money, alcohol or any other activity that violates MCC (Model Code of Conduct).
    • The complaint registered through the app will be routed automatically to Central Control Room (CCR) & information will be shared with the officials concerned, actions will be taken.
    • The State government had earlier brought an ordinance to make amendments to the AP Panchayat Raj Act to take strict actions against flow of money and liquor in elections.
    • Irrespective of the party affiliation, if the candidate violates the MCC will be imprisoned to (2- 3 years) and disqualification in the election.
    • PV Ramesh, Special Secretary to AP CM, Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary and Commissioner Girija Shankar were present during the occasion.





    1. OPEC+



    • Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter,plans to raise its crude oil production significantly above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, after the collapse of the OPEC+ supply cut agreement with Russia.
    • A three-year pact between OPEC and Russia ended in acrimony recently after Moscow refused to support deeper oil cuts to cope with the outbreak of the coronavirus and OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production.
    • Oil prices plunged 10% as the development revived fears of a 2014 price crash, when Saudi Arabia and Russia fought for market share with U.S. shale oil producers, which have never participated in output-limiting pacts.
    • Effects now could quickly flood global markets at a time when demand has already weakened substantially.
    • Opec+refers to the alliance of crude producers, who have been undertaking corrections in supply in the oil markets since 2017.
    • OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
    • The Opec and non-Opec producers first formed the alliance at a historic meeting in Algiers in 2016.
    • The aim was to undertake production restrictions to help resuscitate a flailing market.
    • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization.



    1. Inclusive Internet Index2020



    • Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released the 4th iteration of the  Inclusive Internet Index2020 for 100 countries where India is  overall ranked  in 46th place & Sweden in 1st place. The index aims to measure the extent to which the Internet is not only accessible & affordable, but also relevant to all, allowing usage that enables positive social & economic outcomes at the individual & group level. It is commissioned by Facebook.
    • Among South Asian countries India ranks first followed by Srilanka, Bangladesh & pakistan.
    • The 1st  country ranked is Sweden, followed by New Zealand(2nd) & the US(3rd). Australia & Denmark both ranked 4th, followed by South Korea (6th), Canada(7th), the United Kingdom(8th), France(9th) , Spain(10th) & Pakistan(76th).
    • Worst countries ranked are Burundi at 100th, Liberia at 99th, Madagascar at 98th, Malawi at 97th & Burkina Faso at 96th.


    1. Number of Israelis diagnosed with Novel Corona virus reaches 70




    • Number of Israelis diagnosed with the Novel Corona virus disease (COVID-19) has reached 70. The country’s Health Ministry in a statement yesterday said, those who had returned from Austria, Spain, France, the United States as well as those who had had contact with other infected people, were among those infected. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a two-week quarantine was being introduced for all arrivals from abroad.
    • Following a statement by the Head of the Israeli Government, the Health Ministry issued recommendations according to which tourists could come to Israel only if they had where to spend two weeks of home quarantine. In addition, tourists currently in Israel can’t travel to neighboring countries and then return to Israel.





    1. Vi   kas Krishan to face Eishaih Hussein; Simranjit Kaur to take on Yeon Ji in final of Asian Olympic Qualifiers

    • Indian boxers Vikas Krishan in 69 kilogram and Simranjit Kaur in 60 kilogram category have advanced to the final at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers at Amman, Jordan.  Krishan will face Eishaih Hussein of Jordan in the final today and Simranjit Kaur meet former two-time Asian champion Oh Yeon Ji of South Korea.
    • M C Mary Kom in 51 kg, Amit Panghal in 52 kg, Lovlina Borgohain in 69 kg, Pooja Rani in 75 kg, Ashish Kumar in 75 kg and Satish Kumar in 91 kg category had to settle for the bronze.
    • All the eight boxers have already secured their tickets to the Olympic Games by making to the semifinals but Krishan and Kaur will come back with at least silver medals after entering the finals.



    1. Mohun Bagan are the Hero I-League Champions 2019-2020

    • Indian football heavyweights Mohun Bagan clinched their second I-League title with a 1-0 win over Aizawl FC at Kalyani, West Bengal on Tuesday.
    • Their first I-League title came in 2014-15 season.
      Senegalese striker Baba Diawara scored the all-important goal for Mohun Bagan in the 80th minute today. Bagan lifted the title even when four rounds are still to go in the season.
    • With today’s win, Mohun Bagan have 39 points from 16 matches. This put Bagan 16 points ahead of second-placed East Bengal  who cannot catch up their arch city rivals even if they win all their four remaining matches.



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