• Current Affairs, 11 April 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

    1. Uranium contaminating the groundwater in 10 districts of Bihar

    • A new study conducted by the University of Manchester, UK and Mahavir Cancer Institute and Research Centre, Phulwarisharif in Patna has found uranium contaminating the groundwater in 10 districts of Bihar.
    • Supaul, Gopalganj, Siwan, Saran, Patna, Nalanda, Nawada, Aurangabad, Gaya and Jehanabad are the 10 districts.
    • Uranium concentrations are elevated mostly in the North West-South East band along and to the east of Gandak river and running south of the Ganga river.
    • The maximum uranium content was in Supaul, 80 microgram of uranium per litre of water.
    • The Indian Standard IS 10500: 2012 for Drinking Water specification has specified the maximum acceptable limits for radioactive residues as alpha and beta emitters, values in excess of which render the water not suitable.
    • These requirements take into account all radioactive elements including uranium.No individual radioactive elements have been specifically identified.
    • As per Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), maximum permissible limit of Uranium is 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines)in all drinking water standards after following due process.

     

    • Main factors responsible for uranium contamination:
    1. Amount of uranium contained in an aquifer’s rocks.
    2. Water-rock interactions that cause the uranium to be extracted from those rocks.
    3. Oxidation conditions that enhance the extracted uranium’s solubility in water.
    4. The interaction of the extracted uranium with other chemicals in the groundwater, such as bicarbonate, which can further enhance its solubility.
    5. Human factors such as groundwater-table decline and nitrate pollution may be exacerbating the problem.

     

    1. Home Ministry directs states to ensure strict compliance of lockdown, ban all social, religious gatherings

    • In view of the ensuing festivals in the month of April, Home Ministry has directed all States and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures to fight COVID-19 and not allow social, religious gatherings and processions.
    • The Ministry said, it has been communicated to them to take all required precautionary preventive measures for maintenance of law and order, peace and public tranquillity. Appropriate vigil on social media should also be maintained against circulation of any objectionable and fake  content.
    • Home Ministry has further requested that for the attention of the public authorities, social and religious organisation and citizens, the respective provisions of the guidelines should be widely circulated.
    • It adds that for violation of any lockdown measure, action under the relevant penal provisions of the Disaster Management Act and IPC should be taken by the law enforcing agencies.
    1. In order to increase the life of currency notes, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued Clean Note Policy in 2001

    • The note packets should not be stapled, while the banding of packets should be done with paper/polythene bandsso that the life of the currency notes is increased.
    • The objectiveof the Reserve Bank’s Clean Note Policy is to give the citizens good quality currency notes and coins while the soiled notes are withdrawn out of circulation. In this regard, the RBI took a number of steps since 1975. As part of it, a new metallic rupee was issued RBI’s CLEAN NOTE POLICY on 1st April 1975 to supplement the availability and stocks of one rupee notes. Following this, Rs 2 and Rs 5 notes were coinised.
    • The RBI instructed the banks to issue only good quality clean notes to the public and not circulate the soiled notes received by them over their counters.
    • For this RBI installed high speed Currency Verification and Processing Systems (CVPS) machines at all its offices which deal with currency.
    • These machines are capable of processing 50,000-60,000 pieces per hour and soiled notes are distinguished.
    • The watermark is a major security feature. If something is written on it, sorting machines will reject the note as bad.
    • The public should also help in keeping the notes clean. They should not write on the currency notes and any soiled and mutilated notes can be exchanged at the bank counters.
    • The banks are instructed to offer, even to non-customers, good quality notes and coins in exchange for soiled and mutilated notes.
    1. GoI approved Rs.15000 cr for COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package

    • Indian Government has approved Rs.15000 crores for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ to build health infrastructure in states and UTs till March 2024.
    • Of the 15,000 crore, Centre would release 7,774 crorefor immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response use till June 2020 and the rest will be set for medium-term support of 1-4 years.
    • The package will be given to state governments and Union Territories on the basis of their size and number of positive cases.
    • It is to be provided in three phases— January 2020 to June 2020, July 2020 to March 2021 and from April 2021 to March 2024. This fund would be divided on the basis of the number of positive cases and the size of the state and the UT.
    • The objective of this package is to limit the spread of COVID-19 through the development of diagnostics and dedicated treatment facilities.
    • This will allow the state government to ramp up the number of Corona testing facilities, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Isolation Beds, ICU beds, ventilators and other essential equipment.
    • The overall process of the package will be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
    • It is authorized to re-appropriate resources among the various implementation agencies (National Health Mission, Central Procurement, Railways, Dept of Health Research/ICMR, National Centre for Disease Control) as per the evolving emergent situation.
    • MoHFW has already disbursed  4113 Croreto all the States and UTs for dealing with the emergency COVID response.
    1. Supreme Court (SC) extended tenure of TDSAT Chairperson Shiva Kirti Singh by three months

    • The Supreme Court (SC) of India has extended the tenure of chairperson of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) Justice Shiva Kirti Singh by 3 months who was set to retire on April 20, 2020. This decision has been taken by the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Deepak Gupta headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde.
    • The bench also expressed concern over the delay in appointment of administrative and technical members of TDSAT and asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehtato answer on behalf of Centre.
    • The administrative member and a technical member of TDSAT retired in October 2018 and May 2019, respectively. Since then only the chairperson is there and the absence of members is halting the tribunal’s operations.
    • It consists of a Chairperson and two Members appointed by the Central Government. The Chairperson should be or should have been a Judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of a High Court.
    1. RBI launches Twitter campaign to adopt digital payment modes

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched a Twitter campaign to adopt digital modes of payment that are convenient and safe and reiterated the multiple digital payment options such as NEFT, IMPS, UPI and BBPS that are available 24*7.The face of the campaign is Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.
    1. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal launches “Operation SHIELD”

    • Delhi Chief Minister(CM) has launched “Operation SHIELD”in 21 identified Containment Areas of the state to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
    • It deals with sealing, home quarantine, isolation & tracking, essential supply of commodities, local sanitisation and door-to-door health checkups.
    • Acronym of SHIELD
      S– Sealing of the immediate area/surroundings after geographical marking.
      H– Home quarantine of all the people living in the area.
      I– Isolation and tracing of people who have been first and second contacts.
      E– Essential supply of commodities is ensured.
      L– Local sanitisation of the area by authorities.
      D– Door-to-door health checks of everyone living in the area.
    • The government has made it compulsory to wear masks while stepping out of the   houses & also stated that punishment will be given for those who misbehave with healthcare personnel.
    1. 55th Anniversary of CRPF Valour Day

    • The 55th Anniversary of CRPF(Central Reserve Police Force) Valour Day was observed all over India. The day is observed every year and the day is also called as Shaurya Diwas (Valour Day).
    • History of Day:On April 9, 1965, a small contingent of second battalion of CRPF successfully fought against Pakistani Brigade at Sardar Post in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
    • President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind honoured the CRPF forces for their extraordinary bravery, patriotism and sacrifice on this day.
    • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is India’s largest Central Armed Police Force. It functions under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India.

     

    1. Government approves ex-gratia compensation for more than one lakh FCI employees in case of death due to COVID-19

    • The Government has approved the proposal for grant of ex-gratia monetary compensation to 1,08,714 workers and officers of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) including 80,000 labour who are working 24×7 to supply food grains across the country amidst the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
    • Presently, families of FCI employees are entitled to compensation in the event of death due to terrorist attack, bomb blast, mob attack or natural disaster, but the Regular and Contractual Labour of FCI are not covered under its provisions. Keeping this in view, the Government has decided to provide ex-gratia monetary compensation to all employees and labour of FCI who are working tirelessly despite the threat of infection due to Coronavirus COVID-19.
    • Under its provisions, during the six month period from March 24, 2020 to 23 September, 2020 if anybody dies due to COVID-19 infection while on duty with FCI, the Regular FCI Labour will get an ex-gratia of Rupees 15 lakh, Contractual Labour will be entitled to Rs.10 lakh, Category-1 Officers Rs.35 lakh, Category-2 – Rs.30 lakh and Category -3 & -4 workers – Rs.25 lakh.
    • Announcing this, the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan said the Government is committed to provide all possible security to our Corona-warriors engaged in providing essentials and services to the common man during these times of crisis.

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    1. China becomes the world leader in international patent filings via WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

     

    • For the year 2019, China has become the world leader in international patent filings via WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)with a total of 58,990 applications surpassing the United States (US), which was at top spot since the PCT began operations in 1978.
    • In 2019, Asian-based applicants accounted for 52.4% of all filings while Europe accounted 23.2% followed by North America (22.8%).
    • It should be noted that for the third consecutive year, Chinese telecoms giant Huaweitopped the global ranking in 2019 with 4,411 PCT applications. It was followed by Mitsubishi of Japan, which made 2,661 filings, Samsung of South Korea with 2,334 filings and Qualcomm of the US with 2,127 filings.
    • The system of registering international patents involves three main categories International patent system (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT), International trademark system (Madrid System), and International design system (Hague System). Following tables shows the ranking among these 3 systems:

     

    International patent applications by origin (PCT System) Total 265,800
    Rank Country Number of Applications
    1 China 58,990
    2 United States of America (USA) 57,840
    3 Germany 19,353
    14 India 2,053
    1. World Homeopathy Day 2020: April 10

    • The World Homeopathy Dayis celebrated every year on April 10. This year the day marks the 265th birth anniversary of the father of the Homeopathy systems of medicines  Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, German physician, who discovered the way to heal through the use of homeopathy.
    • The term ‘homeopathy’ comes from the combination of the two Greek words, homeo- meaning similar & pathos- meaning suffering or disease.
      Theme of the year 2020:“Enhancing the scope of Homeopathy in Public Health”.
    • Homeopathy or homoeopathy is a pseudo scientific system of alternative medicine. Its practitioners are called homeopaths.
    • Homeopathy is the way to heal by the doctrine of ‘similia similibus curantur’ i.e. ‘likes are cured by likes’ and the method was founded by Dr. Samuel.
    • Homeopathy is one of the most popular medical systems in India. It is one of the medicine systems in the AYUSH– ‘Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy’ ministry.
    • The homeopathic medical system is a recognized medical system in India under the Homeopathy Central Council Act, 1973. It is also recognized as one of the national systems of medicines.
    • World Homeopathy Awareness Organization organized World Homeopathy Awareness week every year from April 10 to April 16 to raise public awareness & improve accessibility to homeopathy.
    1. True Day 2020 

    • The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) celebrated the Play True Day 2020, which is dedicated to clean sport and the day aims to raise awareness among athletes, the sporting public and others about the importance of protecting it.
      Theme of the year 2020: ‘Play Safe on Play True Day 2020’.
    • WADA and the anti-doping community worldwide is celebrating the ‘Play True Day’ since 2014. WADA celebrates the day with athletes, national and regional anti- doping organizations, sports federations, major event organizers & other anti- doping stakeholders from the global clean sport community.
    • The inspiration of the Play True Day comes from the Education Conference of WADA hosted in 2013, which was attended by 17 Latin American countries and the celebration was started as a small Latin American initiative in 2019.
    1. New Ebola case confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    • A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
    • “While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
    • As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.
    • As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.
    • “WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”
    • The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.
    • Prior to this, the last person who was confirmed to have Ebola in DRC tested negative twice and was discharged from a treatment centre on 3 March 2020.
    • As of 10 April 2020, 3456 confirmed and probable cases and 2276 deaths have occurred as a result of the outbreak.
    1. WHO warns, lifting lockdown restrictions too quickly can lead to resurgence of COVID-19 cases

    • World Health Organisation warned, any premature lifting of restrictions imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a fatal resurgence of the new coronavirus.
    • WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual press conference in Geneva that WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions. The global death toll has gone over 100,000. More than 1.6 million infections have been recorded globally, since the virus first emerged in China in December 2019.
    • edros welcomed signs that its spread was slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe citing Spain, Italy, Germany and France. However, he also warned of an “alarming acceleration” of the virus elsewhere, highlighting Africa, where he said it was beginning to emerge in rural areas. He added, clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries are being witnessed.
    1. Major Oil producers except Mexico agree to output cuts: OPEC

    • Major oil producers except Mexico have agreed to cut output in May and June by 10 million barrels per day, OPEC said today, after marathon talks to counter collapse in prices.
    • The agreement, which reduces production to eight million barrels per day from July to December, depends on Mexico’s support for it to take effect, the oil cartel said after a video-conference.
    • Global fuel demand has plunged by around 30 million barrels per day, or 30 percent of global supplies, as steps to fight the virus have grounded planes, cut vehicle usage and curbed economic activity.

     

     

     

     

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