• Current Affairs, 30 March 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

    1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says social distancing is the most effective way of fighting against COVID-19;

    • “Many soldiers fighting the Coronavirus are not in the confines of their homes but outside their homes. These are our front line soldiers-especially our brothers and sisters on duty as nurses, doctors and paramedical staff. I spoke to some of them to express my gratitude for their service and to keep their zeal going. Their sincerity and commitment also helps me in keeping up my spirits ”.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that social distancing is the most effective way of fighting against COVID-19 and by complying with the lockdown, people can protect themselves.
    • Sharing his thoughts in the 10th edition of the Mann Ki Baat 2.0 today, Mr Modi said, “Everyone has to protect themselves and their families and for the next many days, they have to abide by the Lakshman Rekha. The determination and restraint of each Indian will help in facing the crisis.”
    • Mr Modi called upon the global community to join hands  in the resolve to exterminate this virus which poses a threat to annihilate the human race.
    • “Corona virus has incarcerated the world. It is posing a challenge to Knowledge, science, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak alike. It is not confined to any nation’s borders, nor does it make distinction of region or season. This virus has, in a way, obstinately picked up the gauntlet to annihilate the human race. And that is why humankind will have to rise unitedly, in the resolve to exterminate it”, he said.
    • The Prime Minister said, in order to battle Coronavirus in a country with 130 crore people, there was no other option but to go for lockdown. He emphasized that the fight against Coronavirus is between life and death and that is why such strong measures had to be resorted to. Mr Modi said, looking at the way the world is going through, this was the only way left. He said, safety of people has to be ensured.
    • Modi said, those breaking the rules during the lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 are playing with their lives. He made it clear that those who do not comply with the lockdown rule should understand that it will be difficult to save ourselves from the scourge of the Coronavirus.
    • The Prime Minister said, ”The world over, many people nursed this delusion and all of them are regretting it now. Since the battle against corona is unprecedented as well as challenging, the decisions being taken during this time are unheard of in the history of the world”.
    • The Prime Minister told that the steps being taken by Indians to stop the spread of corona and the efforts being made, will ensure that India conquers the pandemic.
    • Mr Modi said, “Our sympathy for the poor should also be far greater. Our humanity stems from the fact that whenever we see a poor or hungry person, we first try and feed him or her in this time of crisis”.
    • He said, we should think of their needs and India can do it as it is part of its values and culture. The Prime Minister cited an adage which means, an illness and its scourge should be nipped in the bud itself. However, when it becomes incurable its treatment is very difficult. He said, every Indian is doing just that these days.
    • The Prime Minister said, corona virus has incarcerated the world and it is posing a challenge to knowledge, science, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak alike across the continents and that is the reason why he has confined to this issue in this edition of Mann Ki baat.
    • Mr Modi  extended a heartfelt apology to all countrymen and said he strongly feels from the core of his heart that the people will forgive him because he had to take certain decisions may be resulting in myriad hardships. He specially mentioned the underprivileged brothers and sisters and said, he fully understands what they are going through. Citing another adage, he said good health is the greatest fortune and health is the only way to happiness in the world.
    • The Prime Minister said, in this war, there are many soldiers who are fighting the Corona virus, not in the confines of their homes but outside their homes.
    • He said, “these are our front line soldiers especially the brothers and sisters on duty as nurses, doctors and paramedical staff  who have defeated corona virus”.
    • The Prime Minister shared his conversations on phone with some of those engaged in the fight against CIVID-19 boosting their zeal, in turn raising his own enthusiasm as well and said he has learnt a lot from them.
    • The Prime Minister said, all these people are persevering to the best extent possible to chase out this scourge.
    • “What they tell us is not just for us to listen to and it is to be practised in life in the truest spirit” he said.
    • Prime Minister also praised the selfless spirit of the Nurses and other medical staff.
    • “India has been able to fight a battle on such a massive scale, only because of the zeal and grit of frontline warriors like doctors, nurses, paramedics, Aasha, ANM workers, sanitation workers. The country is also concerned about their health and hence the government has announced a health insurance cover of upto 50 lakhs rupees for nearly 20 lakhs colleagues from these fields so that in this battle, they can lead the country with greater self-confidence” he said.
    • He praised the small retail storekeeper in the neighbourhood, the drivers and workers, who are working ceaselessly, so that the nation’s supply chain of essential goods is not disrupted. Mr Modi said, those working in the banking sector are leading us in this fight. He told that many people are engaged with e-commerce companies as delivery personnel and are delivering groceries in these testing times.
    • The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the people who are enabling the people to watch uninterrupted television and making digital payments with ease. He requested them to follow all the safety precautions, take care of themselves and their family members.
    • The Prime Minister said, people need to understand that in the current circumstances, we need to ensure social distance, not human or emotional distance.
    • He said, he was pained to see that some of those quarantined are being stigmatised and ill-treated. He appreciated those who have quarantined themselves to protect other people from getting infected.
    • The Prime Minister said, social distancing is the most effective way of fighting against coronavirus.  He again appealed to the countrymen to stay at home, be careful and safe in order to win this battle.
    1. Uttar Pradesh(UP) Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath has set up “Team-11”

    • Uttar Pradesh(UP) Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath has set up “Team-11” consisting of inter-departmental committees with over 2 dozen senior officials to fight the coronavirus spread. Each of the committees will be headed by a senior bureaucrat of the state while the CM will be the head of the Team-11.
    • The committee, headed by the state’s chief secretary, to coordinate union & various state governments on various crucial issues.
    • The committee, headed by the Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner and provides solutions to various problems related to the government and district levels.
    • The committee headed by the Agricultural Production Commissioner  will coordinate the districts to provide essential commodities at a reasonable price. It also resolves the problems encountered in interdistrict & intra-district transport.
    • The Committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home, Information and Public Relations) will review actions of lockdown & provide accurate information to the media.
    • The Committee will be headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) will work to set up control rooms at state and district levels.
    • The Committee headed by Principal Secretary (Health), will coordinate with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It also ensures the provision of drinking water, sanitation and sanitization in all urban & rural areas of the state.
    • Besides, there will be a committee headed by Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry) to ensure the arrangement of animal fodder & supply of essential medicines.
    • The other committee will be headed by director- general of police to ensure cleanliness in all the jails, training centres and PAC (Pradeshik Armed Constabulary) battalions of UP.
    • There will also be a committee to study the impact on the economy due to the epidemic & to prepare a future strategy to help farmers.
    1. Indian Railways to run special parcel trains for carrying essential items in small parcel sizes during lockdown

    • Indian Railways will run special parcel trains for carriage of essential items and other goods in small parcel sizes during the complete lockdown in fight against COVID-19.
    • The move is aimed at  ensuring an uninterrupted and seamless supply chain of goods and essential commodities like medical supplies, medical equipment and  food. The Railways has made railway parcel vans available for quick mass  transportation across the nation for the needy E-Commerce entities and other customers including state governments to transport such goods.
    • The Indian Railways is already transporting essential commodities to different parts of the country through freight trains  which is meeting the needs of bulk transportation of essential goods like food grains, edible oil, salt, sugar, coal, cement, milk, vegetables and fruits.
    • Eight  parcel specials trains are being run by Railways since 22nd of this month. In addition, running of Parcel specials is further being planned on 20 routes.
    1. 979 confirmed Coronavirus cases including 25 deaths reported

    • As many as 106 fresh cases of COVID- 19 and six deaths have been reported from six states in the last 24 hours.
    • Briefing reporters in New Delhi today, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, Lav Aggarwal said, there are 979 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country including 25 deaths till now.  He said, government has formed ten empowered groups to give guidance related to medical emergency management, isolation beds and quarantine facility.
    • Aggrawal said, the ongoing 21-day lockdown has resulted in some behavioural, mental health issues and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences has launched a toll-free number –  080- 46110007 — for consultation. On a query for specific blocks and hospitals for COVID-19 patients, he said, the process to isolate them from other patients has started.
    • Raman Gangakhedkar, Head Scientist in Indian Council for Medical Research ,  said, around 35000 test have been conducted till date. He said, 113 labs are functional and 47 private labs have been given approval.
    • On the occasion,  Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, Punya Salila Srivastava said, employers must be instructed to give full wages to workers on the due date without any deduction for the closed-down period and landlords cannot charge rent for this period. She also said, the workers cannot be forced to vacate the premises.

     

    1. Centre directs states, UTs to ensure adequate arrangements to prevent movement of migrant workers

    • Center today asked states and Union Territories to take measures to prevent movement of a large number of migrant workers to their home states.
    • It has ordered to ensure adequate arrangement of temporary shelters and provisions of food and other facilities for poor and needy people stranded due to lockdown.
    • In its fresh directive, the Home Ministry said, the migrant people, who have moved out to reach their home states, must be kept in the nearest shelters by the concerned states and quarantine them after proper screening for a minimum period of 14 days.
    • The Ministry has also directed the employers including industry, shops and commercial establishments to make payment of wages of their workers on the due date without any deduction.
    • The landlords of workers have also been ordered not to demand payment of rent for a period of one month. It warned that action will be taken if any landlord is forcing  labourers and students to vacate their premises.
    • Terming the movement of a large number of migrant workers to reach their home towns as a violation of the lockdown, the Ministry asserted that District Magistrate, Senior Superintendent of Police , Superintendent of Police and DCP will be personally liable for implementation of the direction and lockdown measures.
    • Earlier in the day, the Centre  had asked state governments and Union Territory administrations to effectively seal state and district borders to stop movement of migrant workers. During a video conference with chief secretaries and DGPs, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on highways as the lockdown continues.
    • The Cabinet secretary and Home Ministry officials are in constant touch with the State chief secretaries and the DGPs.  In the meeting, it  was noted that, by and large, there has been effective implementation of the lockdown guidelines across all States and UTs. Essential supplies have also been maintained.
    1. PM Modi expresses gratitude to Prez Kovind for donating a month’s salary to PM-CARES Fund

     

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed gratitude to President Ram Nath Kovind for donating one-month salary to PM-CARES Fund to help the nation tide over the crisis of COVID-19.
    • In a tweet, Mr. Modi said, the President is leading the way and inspiring the nation in this direction.The Prime Minister thanked Airports Authority of India, Cello Group, JSW Group, T-Series, Paytm and others for their contribution to the PM-CARES fund.
    1. Extension of RoSCTL scheme

    • The Cabinet has given its approval for the continuation of Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL)from April 1, 2020, till the scheme is merged with newly approved Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP).
    • Introduced in March 2019 by the Ministry of Textiles, RoSCTL scheme is an incentive for export of garments and made-ups (textile sector). It is offered to compensate state and central duties and taxes that remain unrebated through goods and services tax (gst).
    • Approved on March 13, 2020RoDTEP, a scheme for exporters to reimburse taxes and duties paid by them such as value-added tax (VAT), coal cess, mandi tax, electricity duties and fuel used for transportation, which is not getting exempted or refunded under any other existing mechanism.It will replace the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS)that was found to violate the World Trade Organization rules, and RoSCTL.
    1. Recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks 

    • In order to enhance the Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR)of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), which are unable to maintain minimum CRAR of 9%, as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Rs1,340-crore to continue the process for their recapitalization for another one year i.etill 2020-2021 from 2019-20.
    • It should be noted that 50%of the allocated amount i.e. Rs.670 crore will be utilized as a central government share for the scheme of Recapitalization of RRBs.
    1. Cabinet approves construction of Rs. 1285 crore Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover

     

    • Cabinet has approved the construction of the 22 km long Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover to be developed by Ministry of Railways in a time span of five years (2024-25) and with an outlay of over  1285 crore.
    • The railway flyover will be built around 3 km away from the Aligarh railway station in Uttar Pradesh and will come under the North Central Railway (NCR) zone.
    • This flyover will solve the problem of train delays, congestion and bunching up of freight trains at Aligarh station.
    • This railway flyover will facilitate all the trains coming in from the Howrah side to directly travel to Harduaganj and Bareilly and will completely avoid crossing the mainline route.

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    1. Boom and Bust 2020:Tracking the Global Plant Pipeline

     

    • In accordance with a report titled “Boom and Bust 2020:Tracking the Global Plant Pipeline” 4 GW coal fired power projects at different stages were cancelled in India in 2019 which reduced total under development coal capacity to 66 GW. The report was prepared jointly by Global Energy Monitor, Greenpeace International, the Sierra Club, and Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). The report is the fifth annual survey of the coal plant pipeline.
    • In terms of Pre-construction, Construction, All Active Development, Shelved, Operating, and Cancelled (2010–2019), Chinahas topped the list followed by India.
    • On the Global front, there is a16% year-on-yeardropin capacity under construction and in pre-construction development, and a 66% drop since 2015 globally.
    • Global coal power plant development declined for the fourth year running in 2019. A total of 13 gigawatts (GW) of capacity construction has been delayed in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
    • Globally, the amount of power generated from coal in 2019 declined by 3% compared with 2018.
    • Pre Contruction Developments: The pre-construction development continued to shrink. It has dropped globally from 1,152.5 GW in 2015 to 299.6 GW in 2019, an 82% decline. In India it fell by half from 60.2 GW in 2018 to 29.3 GW in 2019.
    • Coal power generation: It fell 3% globally compared to 2018, with maximum fall in the EU (–24%) while India saw a decline of 3%.  The global average utilization of coal power plants fell to 51%.
    • Growth in Construction: In 2019, 4new coal plants were constructed in India which produced8GW of new coal power capacity as a whole. The new plants areAdani Godda (Jharkhand),Patratu(Jharkhand),Udangudi (Tamil Nadu), and Yadadri(Telangana) which received substantial financing from the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) or the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), both of which fall under Ministry of Power and are set to merge in 2020.
    • Growth in coal fleet: Despite the decline in development, the coal fleet grew by 34.1 gigawatts (GW) globally in 2019. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the newly commissioned capacity was in China (43.8 GW) and 12% in India (8.1 GW).  In total, 17 countries commissioned new coal power in 2019.
    • Retired coal power capacity: The amount of retired capacity globally in 2019 fell slightly below 2018, due to a drop in retired capacity in China as well as in India.
    • Capacity under construction: It fell globally 16% from 237.5 GW in 2018 to 199.6 GW in 2019, and by 37% since 2015, when construction was 315.4 GW. About half of capacity currently under construction is in China (99.7 GW), followed by 18% in India (37 GW).

     

    1. Japanese government funding agency (JICA) signs an agreement worthRs 15,295 crore with India

    • Japanese government funding agency (JICA) signs an agreement worthRs 15,295 crore with India to provide an Official Development Assistance (ODA) for 3 rail infrastructure projects.
    • Japanese ODA loans are long-term low-interest rate loans advanced to the developing countries.
    • JICA granted Rs 8,553 crore for Dedicated Freight Corridor(phase-1); Rs 4,262 crore for  Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project(II) and Rs 2,480 crore for the Mumbai Metro Line 3 Project(III).
    • The project aims to cope up the increasing demand for freight transport in India by setting up a new dedicated freight railway line between Delhi and Mumbai so that to promote comprehensive regional economic growthon the freight corridor as the backbone of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Development plan.
    • A new 950-kmfreight line (Rewari to Vadodara) connecting the major cities in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Haryana states has been constructed.
    • The project will help India to create the largest industrial belt in the DMIC region by merging the industrial parks and harbours of the states between Delhi & Mumbai to promote foreign exports and direct investment.
    • The executing agency of the project is Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd(DFCCIL) 
    1. Worldwide death toll rise to 31,412 due to Novel Coronavirus

     

    • The worldwide death toll has risen to 31,412 due to Novel Coronavirus today. More than two-thirds of the deaths from Coronavirus have now been recorded in Europe.
    • Over six lakh 67 thousand declared cases have been registered in 183 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December. Of these cases, at least one lakh 34 thousand are now considered recovered.
    • Italy, which recorded its first Coronavirus death in February, has declared ten thousand fatalities so far. Spain has more fatalities than 6500 as well as 78,747 infections.
    • China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has declared 3,295 deaths and 81,394 cases, with 74,971 recoveries.
    • The other worst-hit countries are Iran with 2,640 deaths and 38,309 cases, and France with 2,314 deaths and 37,575 cases.
    • The United States has the highest number of infected people with 124,686 diagnosed cases, 2,191 deaths and 2,612 recoveries.
    • Europe has listed over three lakh 63 thousand cases and 22,259 deaths while, Asia recorded more than one lakh four thousand cases and 3,761 deaths. The West Asia has registered nearly 46 thousand cases and 2,718 deaths. In the US and Canada together 2,250 deaths have been recorded.
    1. UAE govt detects 63 new COVID-19 cases belonging to various nationalities

    • The UAE government has detected 63 new COVID-19 cases belonging to various nationalities, taking the total tally of infections in the UAE to 468.
    • The UAE Health authorities said that the new cases, who are receiving necessary medical treatment, belong to various nationalities, including one each from Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria; two each from Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Nepal; three each from Egypt; four from Britain; six from Pakistan; eight from the UAE, and 30 people from India.
    • Farida Al Hosani, the official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, said that the National Disinfection Programme has been extended until April 4. The sterilisation will be carried out daily from 8pm until 6am the following morning and restrictions will continue to cover public and private facilities, streets, public transportation, metro trains and trams.
    • The UAE govt also said that people with valid UAE residence visas who are currently abroad can register for Tawajudi service through Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s (MoFAIC) website, thus facilitating communication with them in case of emergency. The service can be accessed through the main page of the Ministry’s website, under Individuals Services.
    1. The very idea of using a disease as weapon is repugnant: UN Secy-Gen Antonio Guterres

    • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the very idea of using a disease as a weapon is viewed with repugnance. He, however, urged the the international community to remain vigilant as scientific advances are reducing technical barriers that earlier limited the potential of biological weapons.
    • The UN chief, in his message on the 45th anniversary of the Biological Weapons Convention’s entry into force, said that all countries should reaffirm their unequivocal rejection of the use of disease as a weapon.
    • March 26 marked the 45th anniversary of the entry into force of the Biological Weapons Convention, the first multilateral disarmament treaty to ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. The anniversary comes as the world is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic.
    • India, in its message for the 45th anniversary, said that the global economic and social implications of the pandemic, caused by COVID-19, have underlined the need for international cooperation, including institutional strengthening of the World Health Organization.
    • The outbreak, which began in China, has now spread to almost every country in the world. Globally, there are 652,079 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 30,000 people have died of the disease.

    SPORTS NEWS

    1. Tokyo Olympics organisers eyeing July 2021 to start Games postponed due to Coronavirus

    • Tokyo Olympics organisers are eyeing next July as a start date for the postponed Games following the historic decision to delay the event due to the coronavirus.
    • Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing sources within the organising panel, said that given the ongoing pandemic and need for preparation time, the most likely plan would be for the Games to begin on July 23, 2021.
    • The move comes after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Friday raised the idea of moving the event to a less hot and humid time of year. The Tokyo 2020 team led by Yoshiro Mori is currently discussing possible dates with the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
    • The Olympics were scheduled to open on July 24 this year with the Paralympics on August 25, but Japan announced last week, it had secured agreement from the IOC to postpone the Games.

     

     

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