Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 15 April 2020


Central government extends lockdown further to contain COVID

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi on Tuesday announced the extension of the current nationwide lockdown till May 3, with intensive containment measures at hotspots till April 20 in order for areas to qualify for any relief measures and freedom of mobility, especially for hawkers and daily-wage workers.
  • He added that detailed guidelines on the contours of this extended lockdown would be issued by the government on Wednesday.
  • Addressing the nation via a televised broadcast, Mr.Modi said while the efforts to fight the novel coronavirus were keeping the situation under control, it was not time to relax one’s guard, adding that the economic cost “may appear big, but is not so when compared to the lives of our citizens”.
  • He said Indians had displayed exceptional discipline and resolve during the lockdown and managed to keep the number of cases at a level that was favourable compared to several rich countries.
  • He mentioned that the government was making all efforts to help farmers with the ongoingrabi harvest and procurement and said the country had adequate stocks of both food and medicines.
  • He said he wanted the country to follow seven steps or a new set of saptapadi (traditionally associated with a Hindu wedding ceremony).

NSFDC issues guidelines to municipalities and panchayats

  • The National SafaiKaramcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) has asked local bodies to ensure that all sanitation workers are provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to remain safe during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister ThawarchandGehlot said on Tuesday that the NSFDC, which is a government undertaking under the Ministry, had issued an advisory to all municipalities and panchayats for ensuring safety of sanitation workers and waste collectors.
  • The April 7 advisory said sanitation workers and waste collectors, including informal workers, were among the “silent groups of people who are working tirelessly to prevent the spread of the coronavirus”.



IMF predicts India and China to attain positive growth despite pandemic

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said India and China are the only two major countries, which will register a positive growth rate despite Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • In its latest edition of World Economy report, IMF has projected India's GDP growth to be 1.9 per cent in 2020 from 5.8 per cent in January. For China, it has projected a growth rate of 1.2 per cent.
  • IMF said, despite global economy hitting the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1930s, India and China are likely to bounce back strongly in 2021 with India expected to grow at 7.4 per cent and China at 9.2 per cent. 
  • IMF report said most countries, in the advanced economy group, are forecast to contract this year, including the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is having a ‘severe’ effect on the world economy which is expected to contract by 3% in 2020, “much worse” than the 2008-09 financial crises, as per the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO).

Food processing industry demands 25-30% staff strength for functioning

  • The Centre has initiated dialogue with the exporters of Agriculture and Allied commodities to address issues related to the lockdown and the COVID-19 spread.  
  • Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare, held a video conference to gain a first- hand account of issues caused by the virus outbreak. Exporters, representatives of producer and exporter associations and Agriculture Equipment and Machinery makers participated in the meeting.
  • The availability and movement of labour, inter-state transport bottlenecks, shortage of raw materials due to closure of Mandis, phyto-sanitary certification, closure of courier services, availability of freight services, access to ports/yards and clearance of goods were amongst issues discussed
  • Industry representatives from food processing, spices, cashew nuts and machine & equipment (M&E) sectors requested permission to open and operate at 25 to 30 per cent staff strength with proper health advisories.
  • The Secretary said, the issues related to Port, Ocean freight services, Courier services will be considered for necessary resolution.


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U.S approves missile deals with India

  • The U.S. State Department has approved two potential missile deals with India, for an estimated $92 million and $63 million.
  • The first deal, for which Boeing is the contractor, is for 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and related equipment. These missiles can be fitted onto Boeing’s P-8I (Poseidon-Eight India) maritime patrol aircraft, and are intended to enhance India’s capability in anti-surface warfare while defending its sea lanes.
  • The second deal, for $63 million and principally contracted with Raytheon Integrated Defense System, is for 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes (MK 54 LWT Kit procurement required); and related equipment. 
  • Also included are MK 54 spare parts, torpedo containers, two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers and related equipment and support from the U.S. government and contractors.
  • The torpedoes are expected to enhance India’s anti-submarine warfare capability and can be used with the P-8I.
  • There are no known offset agreements for both deals, the State Department said, and any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between India and the contractors.

North Korea test fires missiles ahead of South elections

  • A barrage of North Korean missiles fired from both the ground and fighter jets splashed down on the waters off the country’s east coast on Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, a show of force on the eve of a key State anniversary in the North and parliamentary elections in the rival South Korea.
  • The launches were the latest in a series of weapons tests that North Korea has conducted in recent weeks amid stalled nuclear talks and outside worries about a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
  • North Korean troops based in the eastern coastal city of Munchon first launched several projectiles on Tuesday morning. The weapons flew more than 150 km at a low altitude off the North’s east coast, a South Korean defense official said.



COVID lockdown has activated wildlife poachers,claims experts

  • The COVID-19 lockdown has activated poachers who had been forced into lying low for more than a year. At least six thwarted attempts have been made within a week in and around Assam’s national parks.
  • Wildlife officials have not ruled out the possibility of the poachers trying to strike while the demand for animal body parts, specifically the rhino horn, remains low due to the impact of the pandemic on the grey market and make a killing later when it rebounds.
  • And the lockdown has inadvertently made it easier for the poachers by thinning the ranks of the network of local people who had hitherto been a critical part of the anti-poaching campaign by tipping off forest officials on any suspicious movements near the parks.
  • On April 11, a member of the Special Rhino Protect Force received bullet injuries during an encounter with a group of poachers in the Biswanath division of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). The police in Biswanath district arrested six people for attempted poaching and assault two days later.
  • The police in Sonitpur district arrested five people on April 13 involved in attempted poaching at the Nameri National Park.
  • While two people with a track record were arrested in Golaghat district for trying to kill a rhino that had strayed out of the KNP, the six arrested after the encounter in Biswanath district were first-timers.


SAI holds online sessions for women athletes

  • The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been working on optimising the lockdown period with regular online sessions and interactions of various aspects of training and fitness for Indian sportspersons.
  • It has organised a special two-day online session to help women athletes optimise training and also take care of their bodies.
  • The sessions, titled ‘Encouraging and supporting Female Athletes’, is being conducted by Dr.Poornima Raman Ngomdir, sports physio and head of sports sciences with Olympic Gold Quest.


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