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Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the important Current Affairs Today 20th May 2020. These are important for the upcoming Exams. Candidates who were preparing for the examination can use these current affairs and also you can download the same as PDF.

Current Affairs Today – 20th May 2020

NEWS AT A GLANCE

  1. World Bee Day is observed globally on 20th May every year.
  2. Kotak Mahindra Bank becomes 1st bank in India to allow video Know your customer (KYC) facility for customers opening savings accounts on Kotak 811 – the banks digital banking platform.
  3. The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines/norms will now be applicable to Housing Finance Companies also.
  4. The Centre has notified the reduction in statutory rate of contributions from 12 per cent to 10 per cent for wage months period from May to July, 2020 for all class of establishments covered under the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
  5. India provided 2 million USD relief aid to the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to help in welfare of Palestine refugees.
  6. Indian Railways operationalized the first 12,000 HP electric locomotives.
  7. The Ministry Human Resources Development recently launched a new mobile application called “National Test Abhyas”.
  8. The number of beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat touched 1 crore.
  9. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Indian Railways will run 200 non-AC trains daily from 1st of the next month.
  10. Domestic flights will resume operations from May 25, 2020 in a calibrated manner.
  11. Union Cabinet given approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to launch a new Special Liquidity Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies, HFCs to improve liquidity position of the NBFCs or HFCs.
  12. In Bihar, public mode of transport including auto rickshaw, e- rickshaw and private cabs have resumed operation on an odd – even basis with immediate effect.
  13. Jharkhand government has come out with three-way retail sale of liquor in the state from today with an additional Special Excise Duty fee of 10 percent to be levied over MRP to cope up with the revenue deficits due to Corona.
  14. The Union Territory, Ladakh has become corona virus free as the region have not reported any fresh case since 3rd May 2020.
  15. In Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Union territory (UT) administration has initiated a slew of measures under “Samagra Shiksha programme” to facilitate students with complete access to education through technological interventions and other viable means in wake of COVID-19 lockdown.
  16. Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna presented the Uttar Pradesh(UP) government’s largest ever budget of Rs 5,12,860.72 crores for FY 2020-21 in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the state assembly.
  17. In order to spread awareness about psychological impact of lockdown and measures to be adopted to overcome them, Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K has started an initiative ‘SUKOON’ – COVID-19 Beat the Stress”.
  18. The COVID-19 Vaccine by a US based firm Moderna has become the first to show positive results.
  19. Nepal approved a new map that included the territories of Kalapani, Lipuleh and Limpiyadhura.
  20. China has announced to provide USD 2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic at WHO assembly.
  21. Lesotho Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane has formally resigned from the post.
  22. The AMPHAN Super Cyclone is expected to reach West Bengal by May 20, 2020.
  23. The union cabinet approved several initiatives under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan that was launched by PM Modi recently.
  24. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) reported thatt the export from India is expected to fall by 20%, around $50-$60 billion, in the current fiscal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also suggested a decline in imports.
  25. Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will be resigning from SoftBank board of directors. Jack Ma serving for nearly 13 years in the board.
  26. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is likely to take charge as the Chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board on May 22, 2020.
  27. India’s largest mobile gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has partnered with Mumbai-based game developer Lifelike Studios to launch Rogue Heist.
  28. Haryana Government announced, under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for containment of COVID-19, all Sports Complexes and Stadiums in the state have been permitted to open.
  29. The Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria announced that it will shelve three main projects of worth Rs 8,000 crores.
  30. Ruskin Bond’s new book titled ‘Hop On: My Adventures on Boats, Trains and Planes’ was released on his 86th Birthday in an e-book format.
  31. Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar, the National Hydrographer to the Government of India, has been honored with the 2019 Alexander Dalrymple Award, by United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
  32. The Indian Council of Medical Research is conducting clinical trials to check on the efficacy of Tuberculosis vaccines against COVID-19.
  33. South Central Railway zone has developed a robotic device, “RAIL-BOT” (R-BOT) to assist in the functions of hospital management to provide better health care to the COVID patients.
  34. A few sections of people like Doctors and Police are fighting COVID-19 from the frontline, while some other are contributing to the fight against Corona virus through Science and Innovation.
  35. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur has prepared a new test of RT-PCR for Covid-19.

NEWS IN DETAILS

IMPORTANT DAYS AND THEMES

World Bee Day observed on 20th May

  • World Bee Day is observed globally on 20th May every year.
  • On this date, 20 May, the pioneer of beekeeping Anton Janša was born in 1734 in Slovenia.
  • The purpose of the bee day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem.
  • About 33% of the world’s food production depends on bees thus they are vital for the preservation of biodiversity, ecological balance in nature and helpful in reducing pollution.

Theme

  • Due to COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual event held under the theme “Bee Engaged”.
  • The theme will specifically focus on bee production and good practices adopted by beekeepers to support their livelihoods and deliver good quality products

History

  • The UN Member States approved Slovenia’s proposal to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day in December 2017.
  • The resolution called for the adoption of specific conservation measures and highlighted the importance of preservation of bees and their significance for humanity.
  • First Observance of World Bee Day on 20 May 2018.

BANKING AND FINANCE

Kotak Mahindra Bank becomes 1st bank in India to allow video KYC

  • Kotak Mahindra Bank becomes 1st bank in India to allow video Know your customer (KYC) facility for customers opening savings accounts on Kotak 811 – the banks digital banking platform.
  • The initiative is presently being launched on a pilot basis for savings accounts, Kotak Mahindra.
  • With Video KYC, verification of documents, signature are completed via a video call with a representative from the bank without any physical interface.
  • In January 2020, the Reserve Bank of India amended the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and introduced the video-based KYC option to onboard customers.
  • Kotak is the first bank to integrate the Video KYC process in the account opening journey.

Extra Shots:

Kotak Mahindra Bank

  • Establishment: 2003.
  • Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer: Uday Kotak.
  • Tagline: Lets make money simple.

RBI extends KYC norms to Housing Finance Companies

  • The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines/norms will now be applicable to Housing Finance Companies also.
  • It must be noted that the Regulation of Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) was transferred from the National Housing Bank to RBI in August 2019.
  • And KYC norms are applicable to all Regulated Entities of the RBI and hence it has now been made applicable on Housing Finance Companies also.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Centre reduces EPFO contributions from 12 per cent to 10 per cent from May to July this year

  • The Centre has notified the reduction in statutory rate of contributions from 12 per cent to 10 per cent for wage months period from May to July, 2020 for all class of establishments covered under the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
  • Earlier,the government had announced to reduce the rate  as part of Atma-Nirbhar Bharat package.
  • Reduction in rate of EPF contributions from 12 per cent to 10 percent of basic wages and Dearness allowances is intended to benefit both 4.3 Crore employees and employers of 6.5 lakhs establishments
  • As a result of reduction in statutory rate of contributions, the employee will have a higher take home pay and employers will also have their liabilities reduced by 2 per cent of wages of the

Extra Shots:

EPFO: Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation

  • Founded: 4 March 1952, New Delhi
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • AUM: 11 Lakh Crore ($157 Billion USD)
  • Jurisdiction: India
  • Type of business: Central-Owned

NATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

India provides 2 million USD aid to United Nations Relief and Works Agency

  • India provided 2 million USD relief aid to the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to help in welfare of Palestine refugees.
  • The aid is to be used in core programmes including education and health for the refugees.
  • In 2019, India increased its annual contribution to UNRWA from 1.25 million USD in 2016 to 5 million USD in 2019.
  • In 2020, India made an additional contribution of 5 million USD. This made Indian becoming a member in the UNRWA’s advisory commission.

Significance

  • There are more than 3.1 million Palestine refugees.
  • They completely depend in the health services provided by UNRWA. UNRWA also educated 526,000 students every year. These refugees are Palestinians that fled their homes during 1948 war.

India- Palestine Bond

  • India is also preparing medical supplies for the Palestinians in order to help them fight against COVID-19.
  • India has also signed 17 agreements separately with Palestine. Under these agreements, India is to help Palestine in the fields of health, agriculture, youth affairs, Information Technology, consular affairs, media and women empowerment.
  • India is to provide 72 million USD through these projects. This will help in reconstruction efforts in Gaza to set up schools and centre of excellence for Information and Communication Technologies.

Extra Shots:

UNRWA: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is an UN agency created in December 1949 to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. The UNRWA definition of “refugee” covers Palestinian who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine War.

  • Headquarters location: Amman, Jordan
  • Commissioner-General: Christian Saunders (acting)
  • Deputy Commissioner-General: vacant
  • Budget: 92.5 crores USD
  • Purpose: Provide direct relief and works programmes for Palestinian refugees
  • Fields: Humanitarian aid

First 12,000 HP Electric Loco operationalized by Indian Railways

  • Indian Railways operationalized the first 12,000 HP electric locomotives.

Highlights:

  • The locomotive was built by the French Alstom Company under the Make in India initiative.
  • The locomotive was manufactured at the Madhepura Electric Locomotive in Bihar.
  • It is capable of hauling 6000 tonnes at a top speed of 120 km/hr.
  • The locomotive was manufactured as a joint venture between the Indian and French share holding of 74% and 26%
  • With this, India has become the sixth country in the world to produce high horse power locomotive.
  • Under the Indo-French project, around 4 locomotives were to be delivered in 2018, 35 in 2019-20, 60 in 2020-21 and 100 every year till the end of 11-year long delivery.
  • The project is considered as the largest FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the railways sector.
  • It is to be noted that Indian Railways also signed an agreement with the American Conglomerate General Electric to supply 1000 diesel locomotive for a period of 11 years.

Extra Shots:

Indian Railways is India’s national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the public facilities given by the government and manages the fourth largest railway network in the world by size, with a route length of 95,981-kilometre as of March 2019.

  • Customer service: 139
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Number of employees: 13,08,000 (2016-2017)
  • Founded: 16 April 1853, India
  • Revenue: 1.97 lakh crores INR (2018–2019, US$29 billion)

GoI launches National Test Abhyas

  • The Ministry Human Resources Development recently launched a new mobile application called “National Test Abhyas”.

Highlights

  • The mobile application was developed by the National Testing Agency.
  • The application will help the candidates to take mock tests for exams such as JEE Mains, NEET, etc
  • The application is powered by Artificial Intelligence and therefore the students will get instant results after taking the tests.
  • The application also aims to help the candidates take high quality mock tests from their homes.
  • It is currently available in Android and iOS versions.
  • The main aim of the application is to help students during closure of educational institutions

Significance

  • The JEE Mains exam is to be conducted between July 18 and July 23 and the NEET exam is to be conducted on July 26. Thus, the application will help the students at larger level.

Extra Shots:

National Testing Agency

  • The National Testing Agency conducts the competitive exams in the country.This includes JEE, GATE, NEET, GPAT, UGC, CAT, NET, etc. It was established under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. The NTA is an autonomous organization.

Beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat touches 1 crore

  • The number of beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat touched 1 crore.
  • PM Modi had a telephonic conversation with the 1 croreth beneficiary of the scheme.

Ayushman Bharat

  • The Ayushman Bharat Scheme was launched in 2018. It was earlier known as National Health Protection Scheme.
  • The scheme provides an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per annum per family.
  • The eligible families under the scheme are fixed based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).

Significance

  • According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), around 82% of urban households and 86% of rural households do not have health care insurance. Almost 17% of Indian households spend one-tenth of their budget on health services. Therefore, to address these issues the GoI launched the Ayushman Bharat Mission under National Health Policy, 2017.

COVID-19

  • Post COVID-19, the Government of India made the testing and treatment of the disease free under Ayushman Bharat. The testing of COVID-19 is being carried out according to the protocols fixed by ICMR.
  • The testing facilities that are authorized by the ICMR were tied up with Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. This was done in April 2020. Through this, the GoI is now offering free testing facilities to the beneficiaries of Ayushman Bharat registrants.

200 non-AC trains to run daily from 1st June

  • Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Indian Railways will run 200 non-AC trains daily from 1st of the next month.
  • These trains will be run in addition to the Shramik Special Trains and Indian Railways is planning to double the numbers of Shramik Trains to bring more relief to the migrant workers.
  • Numbers of Shramik Special trains will be increased on a large scale.
  • State governments are requested to help the workers and register them with the nearest station and give the list to the railways, so that the railway workers can run special trains.
  • More than 21 lakh 50 thousand migrants have been transported to their home states through Shramik Special trains in 19 days by operating more than 1600 “Shramik Special” trains.

Extra Shots:

  • The Ministry of Railways is a ministry in the Government of India, responsible for the country’s rail transport. The ministry operates the state-owned Indian Railways, an organisation that operates as a monopoly in rail transport and is headed by the Chairman of Railway Board.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Annual budget: 72,216 crores INR (US$10 billion, 2020-21 est.)
  • Founded: March 1905
  • Jurisdiction: India
  • Officeholders: Piyush Goyal (Minister), Rajen Gohain (Minister of State)

Domestic flights to resume operations from May 25

  • Domestic flights will resume operations from May 25, 2020 in a calibrated manner.
  • This was announced by Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on May 20, 2020.
  • The Minister confirmed that all the airports and air carriers are being informed to begin their operations from Monday.
  • The Ministry will issue the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the same separately.

Background:

  • All flight operations including domestic and international were suspended by the Indian government since the first complete lockdown was imposed on March 25, 2020 to contain the spread of coronavirus. The ban was extended with each lockdown extension and recently on May 17, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the ban on domestic and international passenger flights yet again til May 31st.

Extra Shots:

The Ministry of Civil Aviation of Government of India is the nodal Ministry responsible for the formulation of national policies and programmes for development and regulation of Civil Aviation and for devising and implementing schemes for the orderly growth and expansion of civil air transport.

  • Officeholder: Hardeep Singh Puri (Union Minister)
  • Headquarters: Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, New Delhi
  • Jurisdiction: India
  • Founded: 21 October 2016
  • Annual budget: 6,602.86 crores INR (US$930 million, 2018–19 est.)

Cabinet approvesl proposal to launch Special Liquidity Scheme for NBFCs & HFCs

  • Union Cabinet given approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to launch a new Special Liquidity Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies, NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies, HFCs to improve liquidity position of the NBFCs or HFCs.

Highlights:

  • The direct financial implication for the Government is five crore rupees, which may be the equity contribution to the Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV.
  • Beyond that, there is no financial implication for the Government until the Guarantee involved is invoked.
  • The extent of Government liability would be equal to the amount of default subject to the Guarantee ceiling.
  • The ceiling of aggregate guarantee has been set at Rs. 30 thousand crore to be extended by the amount required as per the need.
  • The Government has proposed a framework for addressing the liquidity constraints of NBFCs and HFCs through a Special Liquidity Scheme.
  • An SPV would be set up to manage a Stressed Asset Fund whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India only.
  • The proceeds of sale of such securities would be used by the SPV to acquire short-term debt of NBFCs or HFCs. The Scheme will be administered by the Department of Financial Services, which will issue the detailed guidelines.
  • A large public sector bank would set up an SPV to manage a stressed asset fund which would issue interest bearing special securities guaranteed by the Government of India, to be purchased by RBI only.
  • The SPV would issue securities as per requirement subject to the total amount of securities outstanding not exceeding Rs. 30 thousand crore to be extended by the amount required as per the need.
  • The securities issued by the SPV would be purchased by RBI and proceeds thereof would be used by the SPV to acquire the debt of at least investment grade of short duration (residual maturity of upto three months) of eligible NBFCs or HFCs.

Extra Shots:

NBFC:

  • The most important difference between non-banking financial companies and banks is that NBFCs don’t take demand deposits.

STATE CURRENT AFFAIRS

Bihar govt allows plying of auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, private cabs following odd-even rule

  • In Bihar, public mode of transport including auto rickshaw, e- rickshaw and private cabs have resumed operation on an odd – even basis with immediate effect.
  • Operation of public transport would however resume with certain conditions.
  • Public transport would not be allowed to operate in any containment zones in a district.
  • The state transport department issued an order in this regard after a meeting was held with the crisis management department.
  • Auto rickshaw and e – rickshaw will be allowed to play on roads following an odd – even registration number basis.

Extra Shots:

Bihar

  • Capital: Patna
  • Chief Minister: Nitish Kumar
  • Governor: Phagu Chauhan
  • Literacy Rate: 63.82%

Jharkhand govt comes out with three-way retail sale of liquor

  • Jharkhand government has come out with three-way retail sale of liquor in the state from today with an additional Special Excise Duty fee of 10 percent to be levied over MRP to cope up with the revenue deficits due to Corona.
  • Roping in e-commerce sites like Zomato and Swiggy for home delivery of liquor in urban areas and incorporating e-token system at 15 district headquarters, and counter sale in rural-area based shops, the state government has given a nod to re-open all authorised liquor shops from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening in Jharkhand.
  • A gazette notification of revising VAT from 50 percent to 75 percent on liquor has been released by the Commercial Taxes department yesterday.
  • Incorporating e-token system for sale of liquor in districts headquarters and urban areas through the link – https://jhexcisetoken.nic.in will help reduce people line up in long queues outside the liquor shops.
  • Use of e-token system is part of the digital initiative to boost the economy and also capable to contain the spread of Corona virus.
  • Any person can book a time slot which would be of hour long duration as per his/her convenience to purchase liquor from shops thus reducing queues. Preference would be given to people shopping through e-token systems.

Extra Shots:

Jharkhand

  • Capital: Ranchi
  • Chief Minister: Hemant Soren
  • Governor: Draupadi Murmu

Ladakh becomes COVID-19 free after recovery of all active cases

  • The Union Territory, Ladakh has become corona virus free as the region have not reported any fresh case since 3rd May 2020.
  • Also, infected patients who were undergoing treatment in Leh District have recovered from the deadly disease.
  • A total of 43 cases of Coronavirus were reported in Ladakh till now and all the confirmed cases have recovered from the COVID-19.

J&K promotes e-learning under Samagra Shiksha programme

  • In Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Union territory (UT) administration has initiated a slew of measures under “Samagra Shiksha programme” to facilitate students with complete access to education through technological interventions and other viable means in wake of COVID-19 lockdown.

Samagra Shiksha programme:

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all educational institutes have been closed and in order to maintain the continuity of education delivery to students several steps are being taken by the UT Government which inter-alia included Radio Classrooms wherein Live Lectures are being broadcast daily between 2 to 4 P.M.
  • These measures include tele-classes on DD Kashir and Local Cable Network, Video Lectures Repository using JK Knowledge Network, Online Classes including Vocational Classes using freely available Applications like Zoom, e-Pathshala, DIKSHA  (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing) and created special WhatsApp Groups for interacting with Children with special needs through special educators.
  • Nearly 42 free Laptops with Braille Tactile Readers were distributed for Visually Impaired Students/ persons to freely access the internet.
  • The portal will have complete information on careers, colleges and 2,62,000 programmes in 16 countries.
  • About 2,500 Tabs were distributed among students for attending online classes, accessing online content available on e-Pathshala, DIKSHA and other activities.

Extra Shots:

Jammu & Kashmir:

  • Capitals- Jammu (Winter), Srinagar (Summer)
  • Lt Governor- Girish Chandra Murmu
  • National Parks: City Forest (Salim Ali) National Park, Dachigam National Park, Hemis National Park, Kishtwar National Park
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries: Baltal-Thajwas WLS, Changthang Cold Desert WLS, Gulmarg WLS, Jasrota WLS, Karakoram (Nubra Shyok) WLS etc

UP presents its largest ever Rs 5.12 lakh crores budget in state assembly

  • Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna presented the Uttar Pradesh(UP) government’s largest ever budget of Rs 5,12,860.72 crores for FY 2020-21 in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the state assembly.
  • The budget estimates  total receipts of 5,00,558 crores(Rs 4,22,567 crores- revenue and Rs 77,990 crores-capital receipts) & a deficit of Rs 12,302 crores.
  • This budget is Rs 33,159 crore(6%) more than the last year’s budget of Rs 4.79 trillion & has provisions worth Rs 10,967.87 crore for new schemes.
  • The budget is big on infrastructure projects, including road, airport and metro rail projects.
  • It will play a vital role in achieving the goal of making Uttar Pradesh a USD 1 trillion economy and meet the target of making India a USD 5 trillion economy.

Extra Shots:

Uttar Pradesh:

  • Capital: Lucknow
  • Chief Minister: Yogi Adityanath
  • Governor: Anandiben Patel
  • State formed in: 24 January 1950
  • Literacy Rate: 67.68%
  • Nation Park: Dudhwa National Park

J&K starts an initiative SUKOON’ – COVID-19 Beat the Stress

  • In order to spread awareness about psychological impact of lockdown and measures to be adopted to overcome them, Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K has started an initiative ‘SUKOON’ – COVID-19 Beat the Stress”.
  • The programme will be telecast on Doordarshan Kashir Channel every Tuesday at 9.00 PM
  • During the programme, psychiatrists, eminent doctors and scientists will share their knowledge on psychological health and how to keep the mind anxiety free and the measures which people can adopt to keep stress level under control.
  • The aim is to ensure that people stay mentally fit and cope with the fears related to COVID-19 with a sound mind.
  • This initiative is in line with the growing concern that COVID-19 pandemic and the prolonged lockdown has resulted in tremendous stress among various sections of the society.
  • Parents, care givers and children are the greatest victims of lockdown as they grapple with restricted movement and not being allowed to meet with friends and socialize.

Extra Shots:

Jammu & Kashmir:

  • Capitals- Jammu (Winter), Srinagar (Summer)
  • Lt Governor- Girish Chandra Murmu
  • National Parks: City Forest (Salim Ali) National Park, Dachigam National Park, Hemis National Park, Kishtwar National Park
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries: Baltal-Thajwas WLS, Changthang Cold Desert WLS, Gulmarg WLS, Jasrota WLS, Karakoram (Nubra Shyok) WLS etc

INTERNATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

US Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine: First to show positive response

  • The COVID-19 Vaccine by a US based firm Moderna has become the first to show positive results.
  • The vaccine is considered as huge success because, it is the first vaccine which has generated antibodies against the virus.

Highlights

  • Around 8 people who received the vaccine in the United States have shown positive results.
  • The LNP-encapsulated mRNA-1273 vaccine functions on the concept of mRNA (messenger RNA). The vaccine injects messenger RNA in order to generate immunity against the virus.
  • The people that were given the dose of mRNA-1273 produced antibodies and also stopped the reproduction of the virus. The levels of antibodies developed were the same as those found in patients that recovered from the virus.
  • The low and medium doses of the vaccine created redness at the spot where it was injected. In case of high doses, the patients developed fever and headaches.
  • However, the side effects faded away after a day.
  • The vaccine is to reach market by December 2020.

Extra Shots:

USA (Capital/Currency): Washington, D.C./ United States Dollar

  • President: Donald Trump
  • Official languages: English

Nepal approves new Map

  • Nepal approved a new map that included the territories of Kalapani, Lipuleh and Limpiyadhura.
  • However, the territories have been claimed by India as well.
  • In October 2019, India issued a new political map that included Lipulekh and Kalapani on its side of border.

What is the issue

  • In 1816, the kingdom of Nepal and British India signed the Treaty of Sugauli under which Kali River was fixed as the Western Border of Nepal. The issue has arisen in locating the source of the river that led to boundary disputes between India and Nepal. Both the countries are supporting their own claims.

India’s Claims

  • India recently inaugurated a road section in Pithogarh district of Uttarakhand. According to India, under treaty of Sugauli, Limpiyadhu is the point of origin of Kali river. It is the point where Nepal border begins.

Extra Shots:

Nepal (Capital/Currency): Kathmandu/ Nepalese rupee

  • President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari
  • Vice President: Nanda Kishor Pun
  • Prime Minister: Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli

China announces USD 2 billion help at WHO assembly

  • China has announced to provide USD 2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic at WHO assembly.
  • The USD 2 billion over subsequent two years will support COVID-19 response efforts, particularly in developing countries.
  • The decision comes after, when China faced growing global pressure over the lockdowns, the death toll and a huge increase in coronavirus cases that has brought the world to a standstill.
  • WHO announced the coronavirus outbreak to be a worldwide health emergency on January 30.
  • It declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on March 11, after the virus had killed thousands globally.

Extra Shots:

China (Capital/Currency): Beijing/Renminbi

  • President: Xi Jinping

Lesotho’s prime minister Thomas Thabane resigns from post

  • Lesotho Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane has formally resigned from the post.
  • Thabane and his current wife are suspected of conspiring to murder his former wife nearly three years ago, thus evolving political crises in the country.
  • Lesotho’s Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro has been named by parliament as the interim PM of the country.

Extra Shots:

Lesotho (Capital/Currency): Maseru/ Lesotho loti

  • Interim PM: Moeketsi Majoro

SUMMITS AND CONFERENCES

National Crisis Management Committee meets to review AMPHAN preparedness

  • The AMPHAN Super Cyclone is expected to reach West Bengal by May 20, 2020.
  • The wind speeds are expected to be between 155 km/hr and 165 km/hr.
  • In order to review the preparatory measures, the National Crisis Management Committee met under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary.

National Crisis Management Committee

  • The National Crisis Management Committee oversees the command, coordination and control of disaster response. It gives direction to the Crisis Management Group as when necessary.

Functions of the Committee

  • The National Crisis Management Committee reviews the measures required to deal with natural calamity. It coordinates the activities of the state governments and central ministries in relation to disaster preparedness. Upon constitution of National Crisis Management Committee, the Agriculture secretary seeks directions and provides information in all matters.

Cabinet meets to approve several initiatives under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

  • The union cabinet approved several initiatives under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan that was launched by PM Modi recently.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved allocation of food grains, adoption of auction methodology for coal, issuance of second order to Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, Scheme to formalize Micro Food Processing Enterprises and Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Allocation of Food Grains:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its nod to allocate food grains from the central pool to over 8 crore migrants. The migrants are to be provided with 5 kg of food grains per person per month. This is to be done under Public Distribution System. The National Food Security Act has empowered the GoI to take such a step.
  • The migrants are to be provided food grains under the system for the months of May and June. This is considered as an immediate relief measure for the migrants as the “One Nation One Card” scheme is to be implemented in June, 2020 end. The GoI has allocated Rs 2,982 crores to implement the scheme.

Coal Auction:

  • The Fianance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced the coal auctioning method while announcing the economic package of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. This has been approved by the Union Cabinet.
  • This method has shifted from maximum revenue from coal to maximum coal availability in the market. It has moved towards market oriented revenue from fixed rupees per tonne auction method. Also, the new method allows adequate competition which will help in faster development of coal blocks. The new method has also allowed exploitation of coal bed methane. The tenure of coking coal linkages has been increased to 30 years.

 Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Second Order, 2020

  • According to the order, the domicile conditions to all level jobs in the state has been changed.

Emergency Credit Line Scheme

  • Under the scheme, the Union Cabinet has approved additional funding of upto Rs 3 lakh crore to the eligible MSMEs. In order to achieve this, the GoI has allocated Rs 41,600 crores.
  • The Emergency Credit Line scheme was framed to respond to unprecedented situations as that of COVID-19. The scheme aims to provide incentive to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), Non-Banking Financial Institutions, banks, financial institutions, etc.

Special Liquidity Scheme

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Special Liquidity Scheme for the Housing Finance Corporations and Non-Banking Finance Corporations in order to increase the liquidity flow in the country. Under the scheme, a Special Purpose Vehicle is to be set up that will manage the stressed asset funds. The special securities of these assets are to be bought by the GoI and RBI. They will then use these securities to acquire short term debts.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval to implement measures under the scheme.
  • The Scheme will bring upon blue revolution. It is to be implemented for a period of 5 years.
  • The scheme is centrally sponsored with estimated amount of Rs 20, 050 crores. It aims at enhancing productivity of fish, infrastructure and regulatory framework.

Prdhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana

  • Under the approval, the scheme is to be extended till March 2023. The minimum investment of the scheme has been revised to Rs 1,56,658 for the pension amount of Rs 12,000 per annum and Rs 1,62,162 for pension amount of Rs 1000 per month.

Micro Food Processing

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises. The GoI has allocated Rs 10,000 crores under the scheme. The expenditure of the state is to be shared between centre and states in the ratio of 60:40. The scheme aims to increase the access of finances to the micro food processing industries. It will encourage waste to wealth activities. It will also focus on minor forest produce in tribal districts.

RANKS AND INDICES

FIEO states India shows 20 percent fall in export during FY21 due to COVID-19 pandemic

  • The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) reported thatt the export from India is expected to fall by 20%, around $50-$60 billion, in the current fiscal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also suggested a decline in imports.

Highlights:

  • FIEO directed the exporters to improve their competitiveness in the global markets.
  • It also requested the GoI to provide 2% additional Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) support to all exports and 4% to labor-intensive sectors like apparel, leather, handicraft, carpets, marine, tea, and processed food.
  • Merchandise exports constitute around 12% of India’s GDP, and foreign exchange earnings is around $320 billion.

Extra Shots:

Federation of Indian Export Organisations: FIEO is the apex trade promotion organization. It was set up by the Ministry of Commerce and private trade and industry. It is responsible to represent and assist Indian entrepreneurs and exporters in foreign markets.

  • Formed: 1965
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • President: Sharad Kumar Saraf
  • Vice President: Mahesh Keyal
  • Director General & CEO: Dr. Ajay Sahai

APPOINTMENT

Alibaba’s Jack Ma resigns from SoftBank board

  • Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will be resigning from SoftBank board of directors. Jack Ma serving for nearly 13 years in the board.
  • Ma is expected to resign from the Group’s board on June 25.
  • The news comes as the group posted record financial loss of USD 13 billion.
  • Jack Ma had retired as the Executive Chairman of Alibaba in September 2019.
  • The Softbank Group’s board of directors comprises 11 directors.
  • The Group is expected to expand the number of its board members to 13.
  • The company recently proposed nomination of three new directors to the board: chief Financial Officer Yoshimoto Got, Cadence Design Systems CEO Lip-Bu Tan and Waseda Business School professor Yuko Kawamoto.

Extra Shots:

SoftBank Group Corp. is a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Tokyo.

  • CEO: Masayoshi Son
  • Owner: Masayoshi Son (21.21%); Elliott Management Corporation (2.78%);
  • Founder: Masayoshi Son

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan set to take charge as Chairman of WHO Executive Board

  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is likely to take charge as the Chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board on May 22, 2020.
  • Harsh Vardhan is expected to succeed Japan’s Dr. Hiroki Nakatani, who is the current Chairman of the 34-member board.
  • The proposal to appoint India’s nominee to the executive board was approved by the 194-nation World Health Assembly on May 19, 2020
  • The Chairman’s post of the WHO Executive Board is rotational. It is held for one year among the regional groups.
  • The Health Minister will just be required to chair the WHO Executive Board meetings. It is not a full-time role.
  • The WHO Executive Board comprises 34 members, technically qualified in the field of health. Each member is designated by a member state elected by the World Health Assembly.
  • The member states are elected to the executive board for a period of three-years.

Extra Shots:

WHO: The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

  • Heads: Tedros Adhanom, Soumya Swaminathan, Jane Ellison, Peter Salama Trending
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Founded: 7 April 1948
  • Customer service: 011 6656 4800
  • Parent organization: United Nations Economic and Social Council

SPORTS CURRENT AFFAIRS

MPL launches India’s first indigenous shooter game Rogue Heist

  • India’s largest mobile gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has partnered with Mumbai-based game developer Lifelike Studios to launch Rogue Heist.

Highlights of The Game

  • India’s first indigenous multi-player online shooter game exclusively on the MPL app, ahead of other platforms.
  • Rogue Heist is developed by Lifelike Studios and backed by Bollywood Actor and Producer Arbaaz Khan and Time2play Gaming Studios.
  • Rogue Heist is one of the first multi-player Esports on the MPL platform and will see users face off against each other, with cash prizes for grabs for each battle and tournament. MPL currently has over 40 games on its platform.
  • The idea behind Rogue Heist is to create a unique experience of a heist, which is intense, engaging, and fun in a truly competitive real-time multi-player environment.
  • The game mode on MPL is Rogue Heist- BRAWL – a super fast, action-packed Esport mode.
  • Each game lasts only seven minutes in which 10 players are pitted against each other to steal the maximum amount of money.
  • Here, the players get the real feel of a heist, yet come out top gainers based on their individual performance.
  • Based on the leaderboard, top players will win cash prizes on MPL, making it a virtual cash heist with real money for takes.

Extra Shots:

MPL: Mobile Premier League is the mobile e-Sports platform based in India. It is operated by Bangalore-based Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd. Users can compete in multiple skill based mobile gaming tournaments on MPL.

  • Founder: Sai Srinivas Kiran Garimella, Shubham Malhotra
  • Headquarters: Bangalore, India
  • Founded: September 2018
  • Type of business: Pvt. Ltd.
  • Subsidiary: Crevise Technologies Private Limited
  • Areas served: India, Indonesia

Haryana govt allows opening of all sports complexes and stadiums

  • Haryana Government announced, under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for containment of COVID-19, all Sports Complexes and Stadiums in the state have been permitted to open.
  • Giving this information at Chandigah, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Sandeep Singh said, all the District Sports & Youth Affairs Officers have been directed to ensure maintaining of social distance to ensure availability of sanitizers at every point where needed.

Measures to be Taken

  • Coaches and trainees will wear face masks. However spectators will not be allowed, he added.
  • All sports staff and players shall use ‘Arogya Setu’ application. The instruction issued by PWD (B&R) in respect of use of Air Conditioners in office buildings shall be strictly followed, he added.
  • Sports Department will ensure provision of health screening via non-contact thermal temperature checks also.
  • The record of such screening will be maintained and awareness briefing of all the persons entering sports stadiums/complexes will be conducted by health department.
  • Athletes with age less than 18 years have to take written confirmation from their parents.
  • Swimming pool will not be opened under any circumstances.

Extra Shots:

Haryana:

  • Capital: Chandigarh
  • Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar
  • Governor: Satyadev Narayan Arya
  • National Park: Sultanpur National Park, Kalesar National Park

DEFENCE CURRENT AFFAIRS

Indian Air Force shelves three main projects

  • The Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria announced that it will shelve three main projects of worth Rs 8,000 crores.
  • This is because the Central Government is pushing for Make in India.
  • Currently, the Government of India is to focus on indigenization.

Highlights

  • Prime Minister Modi recently announced Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan under which the GoI has brought upon several reforms.
  • This includes indigenization of defence produce as well. In order to achieve this, the government is to ban imports of certain products as well.
  • About the projects The shelved project includes the plan to buy 20 additional Hawk Planes from the United Kingdom, 30 Jaguar fighter planes from the US and 38 trainer aircrafts.

Alternatives

  • Rather than getting these fighter planes abroad, the IAF is to support HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). The IAF will take assistance from HAL for engine related upgrades.
  • Also, the plan to buy Pilatus basic training aircraft from Switzerland has also been scrapped.
  • The project was worth Rs 1000 crores. It has been scrapped as the HAL has already developed the HTT-40 trainer planes.

Extra Shots:

IAF: The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the air forces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict.

  • Helicopter: Dhruv, Chetak, Cheetah, Mi-8, Mi-17, Rudra, Mi-26, Mi-25/35, Apache AH-64E, CH-47 Chinook
  • Founded: 8 October 1932, India
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Role: Aerial warfare
  • Attack: Jaguar, Harpy
  • Fighters: Dassault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Dassault Mirage 2000, Mikoyan MiG-29, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, HAL Tejas

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Ruskin Bond’s new book released on his 86th birthday

  • Ruskin Bond’s new book titled ‘Hop On: My Adventures on Boats, Trains and Planes’ was released on his 86th Birthday in an e-book format.
  • The book narrates some of his memorable travel adventures on boats, trains and planes from his childhood.
  • The book presents its readers with a number of the author’s hilarious journeys and travel adventures.
  • The illustrations for Ruskin Bond’s new book has been done by Samrat Halder.

AWARDS

India’s Chief Hydrographer Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar wins Top UK award

  • Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar, the National Hydrographer to the Government of India, has been honored with the 2019 Alexander Dalrymple Award, by United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
  • He has been awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Indian hydrography and across the wider Indian Ocean region.
  • The award is named after the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty, Alexander Dalrymple and was first presented in 2006.
  • Recipients of the award are selected by the Executive Committee of the UKHO for their efforts in raising the standards of hydrography, cartography, and navigation around the world.

Extra Shots:

IHO:

  • Secretary-General: Dr. Mathias Jonas (Germany)
  • Director: Abri Kampfer (South Africa) & Mustafa Iptes (Turkey)
  • Established: 1921
  • Secretariat: Monaco

UKHO:

  • Non-Executive Chair: Adam Singer
  • Chief Executive: Tim Lowe CBE
  • Deputy Chief Executive: RAdm Peter Sparkes (National Hydrographer)
  • Headquarters: Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ICMR Clinical Trials on BCG Vaccine

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research is conducting clinical trials to check on the efficacy of Tuberculosis vaccines against COVID-19.
  • The ICMR is to focus on vaccine potential of India in reducing death of COVID-19 infected patients.
  • The trials that will find out the efficacy of BCG Vaccine in COVID-19 patients is to be conducted in conjunction with National Institute for Research

BCG Vaccine

  • The BCG vaccine is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin. It is a vaccine that uses live attenuated stain of Mycobacterium Bovis.
  • Meaning, the potency of the pathogen is disabled artificially and the characters are retained.

Extra Shots:

ICMR: The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.

  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Secretary & Director General: Dr. Balram Bhargava
  • Founder: Government of India
  • Founded: 1911
  • Leader: Balram Bhargava
  • Formation: 1911 (as IRFA); 1949 (renamed to ICMR)

SCR develops ‘Rail-Bot’ to provide better health care to COVID patients

  • South Central Railway zone has developed a robotic device, “RAIL-BOT” (R-BOT) to assist in the functions of hospital management to provide better health care to the COVID patients.

R-BOT

  • R-BOT is getting used to supply medicines, medical accessories and to serve food to the patients, with none need for physical contact.
  • Using this device will enable doctors, nurses and other support medical staff to remain faraway from the danger of contracting infections.
  • The R-BOT is operated through a singular mobile application developed as a part of the Innovation, supported by Wi-FI- facility.
  • The R-BOT holds sensor-based features to read the blood heat of patients and transmit an equivalent for display on Mobile phones.
  • It is capable of raising an alarm just in case of any abnormally high-temperature readings so on the alert the Medics getting to the patients.
  • The R-BOT acts as two-way audio and video communication with recording, facilitating smooth interaction between patients and doctors.
  • It uses infrared technology with emergency Night lamp and night-sight to enable communication even in complete darkness.

Extra Shots:

SCR: The South Central Railway is one of the 18 zones of Indian Railways. The jurisdiction of the zone is spread over the states of Telangana, Maharashtra, and some portions of Madhya Pradesh. It has three divisions under its administration, which include Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded.

  • Headquarters location: Secunderabad
  • Founded: 2 October 1966, Andhra Pradesh
  • Length: 3,127 kilometres (1,943 mi) Route
  • Date of operation: 2 October 1966
  • Jurisdiction: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh
  • Locale: Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka

BSc student develops two sensor-based wearable gadgets to fight against COVID-19

  • A few sections of people like Doctors and Police are fighting COVID-19 from the frontline, while some other are contributing to the fight against Corona virus through Science and Innovation.
  • Sneha, a BSC (Electronics) student from Karimnagar district in Telangana is one among them.
  • She developed a COVID-19 Smart Watch and Social Distance Identity Card, both will warn people about the spread of Coronavirus.
  • Sneha, a first-year BSC (Electronics) student from Karimnagar in Telangana has developed two sensor-based wearable gadgets to caution people from Coronavirus.
  • The Smart Watch will give a beep sound to notify the person who is wearing it, when there is a possible infection through hands by touching their mouth or eyes. Another gadget developed by her, the Social Distancing Identity Card, will notify by ringing a beep sound when somebody comes close to the person who is wearing it.
  • Sneha says she developed these gadgets by using minimum components.

AIIMS Raipur develops a new RT-PCR test for Covid-19

  • The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur has prepared a new test of RT-PCR for Covid-19.
  • This test can give confirmed results in just one hour and 45 minutes.
  • This is also very cost effective and it costs around 500 per test. Director of AIIMS, Raipur Prof. Nitin M.
  • Nagerkar said that the physicians and scientists of the Department of Microbiology have prepared a new method of RT-PCR in which the corona virus can be identified in an hour and 45 minutes with the help of single tube reaction test.
  • This test can be used simultaneously in screening and confirm tests. Moreover, 94 samples can be tested at a time with new method.

Extra Shots:

AIIMS Raipur

  • Director: Nitin Nagarkar
  • Founded: 20 June 2012

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