• Current Affairs, 1 April 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

    1. Govt gives benefits to farmers on crop loan repayments due to Covid-19 lockdown

    • In the wake of lockdown due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has extended the benefit of 2% Interest Subvention (IS) to Banks and 3% Prompt Repayment Incentive (PRI) to all farmers upto 31stMay, 2020 for all crop loans upto Rs.3 lakh given by banks which have become due or are becoming due between 1st March, 2020 and 31st May, 2020.
    • Due to restrictions imposed on movement of people, many farmers are not able to travel to bank branches for payment of their short term crop loan dues. Moreover, due to restrictions on movement of people and difficulty in timely sale and receipt of payment of their produce, farmers may be facing difficulties in repayment of their short term crop loans falling due during this period.
    • To address this problem being faced by farmers, extension of Interest Subvention (IS) and Prompt Repayment Incentive (PRI) benefit upto 31stMay, 2020 on the short term crop loans upto Rs.3 lakh which are due upto 31st May, 2020, shall help the farmers to repay such loans upto the extended period at 4% p.a. interest without attracting any penalty.
    • Government is providing concessional crop loans to farmers through banks with 2% p.a. interest subvention to banks and 3% additional benefit on timely repayment to farmers thus providing loans upto Rs.3 lakh at 4% p.a. interest on timely repayment.

     

     

    1. Relaxations provided on compliances to be met by units / developers / co‐developers of SEZs

     

    • In view of the sudden outbreak of COVID‐19 pandemic and the nation‐wide lock‐down, most government offices are closed and a few involved in emergency services etc., are functioning with skeletal staff. The Department of Commerce has therefore decided to provide suitable relaxations on compliances to be met by units / developers / co‐developers of Special Economic Zones(SEZs). Such compliances to which the relaxations will apply, include:
    • Requirement to file Quarterly Progress Report (QPR) attested by Independent Chartered Engineers by Developers/ Co‐developers
      • SOFTEX form to be filed by IT/ITES units
      • Filing of Annual Performance Reports (APR) by SEZ units
      • Extension of Letter of Approvals (LoA) which may expire, in the cases of:
    • Developers/co‐developers who are in the process of developing and operationalising the SEZ;
    • units which are likely to complete their 5 year block for NFE assessment;
    • Units which are yet to commence operations
    • Development Commissioners of SEZs have been directed to ensure that no hardship is caused to Developers / Co‐Developer / Units and no punitive action is taken in cases where any compliance is not met during this period impacted by the above disruption.
    • Further, as may be possible, all extensions of LoAs and other compliances may be facilitated through electronic mode in a time‐bound manner.
    • In the cases where it is not possible to grant extension through electronic mode or in cases where a physical meeting is required, Development Commissioners have been asked to ensure that the Developer / Co‐developer / Units do not face any hardship due to such expiry of validity during this period of disruption. Ad‐hoc interim extension / deferment of the expiry date may be granted without prejudice till 30.06.2020 or further instructions of the Department on the matter, whichever is earlier.

     

     

    1. Strictest action, blacklisting those who violated Indian visa rules

    • Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has said that strict action, including blacklisting, will be taken against those who violated visa rules and travelled to India recently. He also said that FIRs will be registered against those spreading rumours related to COVID-19.
    • Delhi Police has registered case against Maulana Saad and others of Nizamuddin Markaz. The case was registered for violation of government directions given to the management of Markaz of Basti Nizamuddin.
    • The directions ordered restriction of social, political, religious gatherings and taking safety measures for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 viral infection.
    1. No shortage of medicines to combat COVID-19 outbreak: Chemical & Fertilizers Ministry

    • Government today said that there is no shortage of medicines in the country to combat COVID-19 outbreak. Chemical and Fertilizers Ministry said, the Department of Pharmaceuticals is continuously monitoring the production of medicines since the outbreak of Coronavirus in China. It said, all efforts are made to ensure production of drugs and medical devices during the period of lockdown.
    • The Ministry said, the department is also addressing issues of availability, supply and local related issues of medicines with the help of other Departments and States and Union Territories. The Department of Pharmaceuticals is working in close coordination with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Customs authorities, Central and State Drug Controllers, State Governments and Union Territories and various Drugs and Medical Device Associations.

    The Ministry said, a Central control room 011-23389840 has been set up in the Department, which is working from 8 AM to 6 PM. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has also set up another Helpline No. 1800111255, which functions round the clock. The Control rooms deals with issues related to coordination of transport and other logistic services related to drugs and medical devices.
     

    1. Government ensures Cargo flight operations for medical supplies to various parts of the country

    • The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is coordinating with state Governments for supply of medical equipment and related essential items needed for protection against and testing of COVID-19.   Based on requirements received from various states on urgent basis, the senior officials of the  Ministry  coordinate with supply agencies for providing required material which can be further transported to the desired destinations. Air India and Alliance Air  flights are being operated to  carry out the necessary supply operations across the country.
    • Agencies authorised by MoCA to carry shipment on these flights contact the concerned officials of their region and coordinate for timely delivery/ receipt of shipments.
    • In order to cater to eastern and north eastern parts of the country, an Alliance Air flight from Delhi to Kolkata carried shipments for Kolkata, Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Agartala on 29th March 2020.
    • In northern region, IAF flight from Delhi to Chandigarh to Leh carried ICMR VTM kits and other essential cargo.
    • Alliance Air transferred Pune shipment to Mumbai on Air India flight. (Mumbai -Delhi-Hyderabad-Chennai-Mumbai and Hyderabad – Coimbatore)- Flights on this route carried and transported ICMR kits of Shimla, Rishikesh, Lucknow and Imphal from Pune to Delhi. ICMR kits were carried to Chennai. A consignment of Hyderabad was delivered. Consignments of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were also  delivered. A consignment of Ministry of Textiles was moved to Coimbatore.
    • The information sharing, answering of queries and the work at ground is going on round the clock for delivering the supplies to the destinations in a timely manner so the the efforts to fight the COVID-19 are multiplied and supplemented.
    1. Premium payment period for Postal Life Insurance & Rural Postal Life Insurance extended upto 30th April 2020

     

    • In view of the threat posed by the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19), and the complete lockdown across India, Directorate of Postal Life Insurance(PLI), Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications has given an extension of period for payment of their due premium of March 2020 upto 30thApril 2020 without charging any penalty/default fee.
    • Directorate of PLI said that although many Post Offices are functional as part of essential services, Postal Life Insurance/Rural Postal Life customers are facing difficulty in  approaching post offices for payment of premium. Therefore, as a measure of convenience to all the PLI / RPLI customers, the period of payment h as been extended.
    • The decision is likely to benefit approximately 13 lakh policy holders (5.5 Lakh PLI and 7.5 Lakh RPLI)who have not been able to pay premium for current month. As compared to about42 lakh policy holders who paid premium last month, only 29 lakh of them have been able to pay premium for this month till today.
    • Customers registered on portal have also been advised to pay premium online using PLI customer Portal.
    1. IBBI amends CIRP Regulations to provide relief in corporate insolvency resolution process

     

    • To address this difficulty faced by the lockdown due to COVID-19, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) amended the CIRP Regulations to provide that the period of lockdown imposed by the Central Government in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak shall not be counted for the purposes of the time-line for any activity that could not be completed due to the lockdown, in relation to a corporate insolvency resolution process. This would, however, be subject to the overall time-limit provided in the Code.
    • The IBBI amended the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016 (CIRP Regulations) on 29thMarch 2020.
    • The Government of India has declared a lockdown of twenty-one days with effect from 25thMarch, 2020 as a measure to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19. It is difficult for the insolvency professionals to continue to conduct the process, for members of committee of creditors to attend the meetings, and for prospective resolution applicants to prepare and submit resolution plans, during the period of lockdown. Therefore, it may be difficult to complete various activities during a corporate insolvency resolution process within the timelines specified in the CIRP Regulations.
    • The amended regulations are effective from 29thMarch 2020. These are available at mca.gov.in and www.ibbi.gov.in.
    1. National Gallery of Modern Art celebrates 66 years
    • In the wake of NOVEL CORONA VIRUS (COVID-2019), India is following lock down for 21 days. The Museums and Libraries under Ministry of Culture are closed for public access till further orders due to which people are not able to visit National Gallery of Modern Art to see its permanent collection.
    • In the present scenario, on the eve of 66th Foundation Day (29.03.2020), NGMA launched Virtual Tour of itits permanent collection for the visitors to enjoy without having to physically visit the Museum during these days. It is for the first time that NGMA has provided the facility of virtual tour of its permanent collection to art lovers.  Director General, NGMA Shri Adwaita Gadanayak said that the permanent collection reflects its repository as an institution of dynamic and progressive collective acumen. NGMA’S virtual tour has plenty to explore and ponder over, he added.
    • DG, NGMAsaid that the sculptures, paintings and prints in the visual tour are a step further to showcase the hidden treasures of our reserve collection. He said that NGMA presents this visual tour as a tribute to our modern masters and firmly believe that this would generate greater interest among people towards the legacy of sculptures, paintings and prints as a creative medium. The link of virtual tour is given below.
    • http://www.ngmaindia.gov.in/index.asp
    1. Task Force in the wake of Covid-19 to resolve problems of industry

    • Union Food Processing Industries Minister Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal assured industry representatives that a dedicated Task Force had been established to resolve all problems being faced by the food processing and ancillary industries during the current Covid-19 lockdown.
    • In a video conference with major industry associations such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI, AIFPA, ICC, FINER and DICCI today, the Union minister said the Task Force included all senior officials of the food processing ministry and members of Invest India. She said the team had already received 222 issues out of which 98 had been resolved and the rest were under process of resolution.
    • During the video conference, industry representatives told Smt. Harsimrat Badal that though directions had been sent to all State governments about the need for allowing the manufacturing and movement of essential items, they were being interpreted in different ways by the State governments. They stressed the need for uniform format for all States regarding manufacture and movement of food products. The representatives shared the problems related to factory shutdown, permission to operate warehouses, personnel movement and logistic disruption. The industry representatives said that required labour was not available for smooth manufacturing and that there was a shortage of transport also. They further urged that ‘kirana stores’ be allowed to open across the country to ensure the forward linkage was established.
    • FPI Minister said talks would be initiated with the transport unions to ensure smooth supply of food material and access to raw materials by the food processing industry.
    • She assured industry representatives that she would review all suggestions and grievances submitted by them to the task force.
    1. Railways to supplement the efforts of Government in tackling COVID-19

    • In In order to prevent the spread of COVID 19, Indian Railways is making an all out effort to supplement the health care efforts of  Government of India. The spectrum of steps include modification  of passenger coaches as isolation coaches, equipping the existing Railway Hospitals to meet the COVID needs, earmarking of hospital beds to meet the contingencies, recruitment of additional doctors & paramedics etc.
    • All these facilities will be made available as mandated by the Government of India to those in need.The preparations are being done across all the zones under the supervision  GMs and Medical professionals of Indian Railways.
    • Indian Railways is planning to initially modify 5000 passenger  coaches to meet the  requirement of any  possible exigency of keeping some corona patients in isolation as and when required by Government. These coaches would be equipped with basic facilities needed for isolation as per medical guidelines. In case need be, more coaches can be modified. Coaches are also going to be equipped with mosquito  nets,charging points for mobiles & laptop, space for paramedics etc. These coaches would  be prepared zone wise.
    • Railways has 125 hospitals in India and of that more than 70 are being planned to be kept ready to be for any contingency as and when required. Efforts are being made to designate dedicated COVID wards or floors in these hospitals. Approximately  6500 hospital beds are being made ready to meet the possible needs of patients.
    • Indian Railways has already  given a go ahead to Zonal heads to explore the possibility of hiring doctors and paramedics from the market and also to re-employ retired railway  doctors as a temporary measure to meet the increased requirement of medical supervision and assist the authorities in charge of  COVID 19 control management in the region.
    • It may be noted that these efforts of Indian Railways have been mounted not only to supplement the efforts of the Government of Indiabut also to contribute to the national efforts to fight the Corana Virus.
    1. Western Railway and IRCTC reach out and serve needy people during nationwide lockdown

    • In the wake of the lockdown in our country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Western Railway along with IRCTC have reached out to many needful people, serving them with provision of food packets, ration packages and other essentials. IRCTC has geared up its base kitchens in Mumbai and Ahmedabad stations for preparing distress meals in huge quantities for the poor and needy people in and around Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
    • Staff from various departments of Western Railway such as the Railway Protection Force (RPF), Commercial staff and the IRCTC have voluntarily come forward. General Manager of Western Railway, Shri Alok Kansal praised these employees who have gone beyond their call of duty and have shown such exemplary act of kindness in these testing times. However, he has also given a word of caution to them to take all preventive and necessary safety measures and hygiene levels to be practised.
    • Around 1500 Meals comprising of Dal Khichdi Pickle were prepared by IRCTC on Sunday (March 29, 2020) from their Base Kitchen at Mumbai Central for distribution whereas 2880 and 1037 meals were prepared at Mumbai & Ahmedabad Base Kitchens respectively for distribution today (March 30, 2020). These simple and hygienic meals were made available for onward distribution through the channels of NGOs and Railway’s Commercial staff and RPF personnel to the needy/destitute /poor & stranded amidst the Covid-19 epidemic. Major NGOs to whom Khichdi meals were supplied from Mumbai Base Kitchen are Salaam Mumbai, Robinhood Army, New Future Foundation, Mariyam Trust & Nanhi Kali. Mariam Trust distributed Khichdi in Mariamanagar located at Worli, Mumbai whereas Nanhi Kali distributed the meals outside KEM hospital, Tata hospital and also in slums around there. The food prepared by Ahmedabad Base Kitchen was distributed by the RPF & commercial staff to around 600 needy persons.
    • Western Railway has informed that this socially responsible gesture on part of IRCTC and RPF shall continue in the forthcoming days also and the numbers are expected to rise. Several NGOs and Trust Funds have also extended their generosity to help the needy across the Western Railway jurisdiction. At Vasai Road, the Gurdwara Prabandhan Commitee distributed Khichdi to around 50 to 60 needy people including House-keeping staff. Due precautions, usage of PPE and social distancing norms were strictly observed while distributing the food. The people were also briefed regarding the do’s and don’ts of COVID 19.
    • A few railway personnel have also voluntarily come forward to serve such needful persons in their vicinity by spending from their own pockets. One such striking example is that of Shri J.K. Sumara, Dy. CTI at Bhavnagar station of Western Railway. He has taken a great initiative in helping licensed porters who are now without any source of income and has distributed provisions & other essential goods worth ₹10,000 to the Licensed Porters at Bhavnagar station. Each care package was worth Rs. 550 and each porter was also helped with a cash amount of Rs. 500 as well. At Botad station, a few railway employees along with the locals, distributed Roti, sabji and buttermilk to some 100-odd needy people and have assured that this noble deed will be continued. At Nagda station of Ratlam division, RPF personnel distributed food packets in the nearby slum areas which comprised daily wage labourers. The Railways as well as the railway employees are extending their help to the needy in the event of a national crisis, even though there is a complete stoppage of passenger-ferrying trains. On the other hand, Railways is also running goods train, milk van trains and now even parcel van trains to help transport essential commodities to different parts of the country. This will ensure the supply of basic essential commodities to the citizens of the country.

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    1. Spain’s rate of new COVID-19 infections continue its downward trend

     

    • Spain’s  health chiefs said the rate of new infections was continuing its downward trend although 849 coronavirus deaths were reported in 24 hours.
    • After Italy, Spain has suffered the world’s second most deadly serious outbreak which has now claimed 8,189 lives.The latest figures came a day after the death toll fell slightly, raising hopes the epidemic could be peaking.
    • Over the same period, the number of confirmed cases rose to 94,417 after another 9,222 people tested positive: a nearly 11-percent increase.
    • That figure was seen as a setback after a week in which the rate had been steadily failing, with Monday’s figures having shown a rise of just over 8.0 percent.

     

    1. Hundreds of stranded Americans flown out of Nepal amid lockdown

     

    • Days after Nepal imposed complete lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak, hundreds of stranded Americans left the country on a repatriation flight today.
    • A Qatar Airways flight arranged by the US government flew out 302 Americans from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Washington D.C.
    • The elderly, families with children and people with a medical condition were given priority on the flight.
    • The US Embassy in Nepal estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 Americans are still in the country, but says that not all of them are seeking to leave.
    • Nepal has confirmed five cases of the coronavirus, including one person who has recovered from it.

     

    1. Dubai to support its national carrier Emirates Airlines during coronavirus fallout

    • Dubai Government has said that it will extend full support to its national carrier Emirates Airlines in these difficult times where airlines have been massively hit worldwide due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
    • The Dubai Media Office stated today that Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said that the Government of Dubai is fully committed to supporting Emirates airlines in the current critical period. It said that as a shareholder of Emirates airlines, the Government of Dubai will inject equity into the company.
    • In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Emirates Airline since 25th March has suspended most of its commercial operations. However, cargo flights are operating.

    SPORTS NEWS

    1. India’s Olympic-bound boxers to be provided online classes amid coronavirus lockdown

     

    • India’s Olympic-bound boxers will be provided online classes from tomorrow by their coaches after training halted by the coronavirus-forced national lockdown. Nine Indian boxers M C Mary Kom, Simranjit Kaur, Lovlina Borgohani, Pooja Rani, Amit Panghal, Manish Kaushik, Vikas Krishan, Ashish Kumar and Satish Kumar have qualified for the Tokyo Games, postponed to 2021 due to the global pandemic.
    • In a conference call with these boxers today, the President of the Boxing Federation of India, Ajay Singh took stock of their preparations amid a national lockdown till April 14 to fight the pandemic.
    • He told the boxers that this is a challenging time for all of us and is all the more a reason for us to take care of ourselves stay fit. He asked them to continue with the exercises as directed by the coaches and try to maintain weights as much as possible.
    • Elaborating further on the 45-minute discussion, BFI’s Executive Director R K Sacheti told that the areas of concern are diet control and mental health.
    • He said India boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva, who is now in Patiala after completing a 14-day self-isolation period in Delhi, will be conducting classes for men.
    • The classes for women will be conducted by their high performance director Rafaelle Bergamasco.
    • India booked an unprecedented nine Olympic slots at the Asian qualifiers in Jordan earlier this month.

     

     

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