Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 01 May 2020
SC directs RBI to implement moratorium on loan repayments
- The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ensure that the central bank’s March 27 circular directing banks and financial institutions to provide borrowers a three-month moratorium on loan repayments is implemented in “letter and spirit” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana said the central banker should ensure that its freeze on loan repayments between March 1 and May 31 was not diluted and benefited the borrowers. The court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that it appeared that the borrowers had not actually benefited from the RBI’s gesture.
- However, the Bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay KishanKaul and B.R. Gavai, which took up four PIL petitions on the implementation of the circular, said it was not intervening any further as none of the petitioners was actually an aggrieved party.
- On March 27, RBI gave liberty to banks and financial institutions to allow moratorium in respect of loans outstanding as on March 1. It said the repayment schedule for these loans as well as the residual tenor would be shifted across the board by three months after the moratorium period.
Manipur black rice, Gorakhpur terracotta gets GI tag
- Chak-Hao, which is a black rice variety of Manipur, and Gorakhpur terracotta have bagged the Geogrphical Indication (GI) tag.
- The application for Chak-Hao was filed by the Consortium of Producers of Chak-Hao (Black Rice), Manipur and was facilitated by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Manipur and the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC).
- Chak-Hao, a scented glutinous rice which has been in cultivation in Manipur over centuries, is characterised by its special aroma. It is normally eaten during community feasts and is served as Chak-Haokheer.
- Chak-Hao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine. According to the GI application filed, this rice takes the longest cooking time of 40-45 minutes due to the presence of a fibrous bran layer and higher crude fibre content.
- At present, the traditional system of Chak-Hao cultivation is practised in some pockets of Manipur. Direct sowing of pre-soaked seeds and also transplantation of rice seedlings raised in nurseries in puddled fields are widely practised in the State’s wetlands.
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Output of core industries shrinks by 6.5%
- The output of eight core infrastructure industries shrank by 6.5 percent in March due to fall in production of crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity amid the coronavirus lockdown. The eight core sectors had expanded by 5.8 per cent in March 2019.
- Production of crude oil dropped 5.5 percent; production of natural gas tanked 15.2 percent; growth of refinery products slipped 0.5 percent; fertiliser production dropped 11.9 percent, steel production declined 13 percent, cement production slumped 24.7 percent and electricity generation plunged 7.2 percent.
- Coal production fell 4.1 percent in March, from 9.1 per cent in March 2019.During the April-March 2019-20 period, core industries recorded 0.6 percent growth, against 4.4 percent in 2018-19.
Centre urges industry players to support and reduce crop loss
- Expressing concern over loss of harvested crops in different parts of the country, the Centre on Wednesday asked industry players to buy perishable vegetables and fruits besides foodgrains to reduce wastage and benefit farmers amid COVID-19-induced lockdown.
- Union Food Processing Industries Minister HarsimratKaurBadal pointed out this issue in a meeting with members of industry chamber FICCI via video conference called to ascertain the requirement of food processing sector for post-lockdown scenario, an official statement said.
- The industry demanded a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for operating facilities in different containment zones, dedicated nodal officials for the food processing industry at state levels to address challenges, standardized protocol for issuing worker passes to operate facilities and maintain supply chain besides reevaluating the process of identifying COVID clusters or region, the statement said.
- The food processing industry has been asked to send a working model to the government for considering allowing greater workforce to join the facilities. Suggestions have also been invited to frame a scheme to support the food industry, the ministry said.
- The secretary said that the government has already issued required advisories to address the challenges related to logistics, warehouse operations, movement of workers and vehicles etc.
India-UAE to holds discussion to expand bilateral ties
- Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister of Culture discussed with Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, ways of strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the UAE and India in tangible and intangible heritage.
- Emirates News Agency in a press statement on Thursday said that during their phone call, Ms Al Kaabi highlighted the efforts of the culture and innovation sector to launch initiatives and incentives to ensure its sustainability.
- The UAE Minister also briefed her Indian counterpart about the precautionary measures taken by the UAE to counter the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
- In his statement, Patel said that the two sides are aware of the initiatives taken by their governments to address the impact of COVID-19, particularly on the cultural sector.
India-G20 to come out with digital action plan to fight COVID
- India has called upon the G20 countries to come out with a concrete Digital action plan to fight the Covid-19.
- Communications and Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasized on the responsibility of G20 nations to focus on making inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
- He was attending an extraordinary virtual G20 Digital Economy Ministers meeting to discuss the challenges posed by the pandemic and to forge a global coordinated response harnessing Digital Technologies.
- Mr. Prasad highlighted the steps taken by Indian Government to contain the spread and offered the roadmap for the world to emulate.Mr Prasad also emphasized the importance to revive the economy while continuing the fight against COVID-19.
- He said that next phase of digitalization is about applications that will impact livelihoods, accelerate various sectors, strengthen the supply chain and build a cyber safe world.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
CSIR begins anti-leprosy drug trials against COVID
- The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has started the trials of anti-leprosy drug trials against COVID-19. The drug trial is to be conducted with the help of Mycobacterium MW.
- The Mycobacterium MW is a heat killed bacteria. It is to be tried on different COVID-19 patients. The drug trial was approved by the Drug Controller General of India. One particular strain of bacteria called the Mycobacterium MW is to be tried on several COVID-19 patients. The drug has already proved its effectivity against leprosy.
- Mycobacterium MW is a strain of mycobacterium. It is a non-pathogenic, non-specific immune potentiating, rapidly growing atypical mycobacterium.
- This strain of bacteria shares a common T and B cell determinants with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae.
- The heat killed bacteria induces T-cell responses. This induces the responses of the cells against tumor cells as well.
- Along with CSIR Gujarat based pharma-giant Cadila Pharmaceuticals will also join the Mycobacterium trial. The hospitals that are to participate in thetrialincludes AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Chandigarh and AIIMS Bhopal.
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