Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 16 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 16 April 2020


NHRC wants public servants to behave sensible during lockdown period

  • National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has asked the Centre to issue suitable advisory to States and UTs to implement lock down guidelines without undermining people’s right to life, liberty and dignity. 
  • The Commission asked the Centre, through the Union Home Ministry, to issue suitable guidelines, advisory and Standard Operating Procedure to all the States and UTs emphasizing that while implementing Corona lock down guidelines, the public servants, including police personnel, should behave in a sensible manner with the people, particularly belonging to vulnerable sections, respecting human rights relating to their life, liberty and dignity. 
  • The directions follow the Commission taking cognizance of a communication from one of its Special Monitors and human rights activist, Ms MajaDaruwala alleging that in order to effectively implement the lock down guidelines, the public servants, including the police personnel, across the country, sometimes under tremendous pressure, tend to deal with the people, especially the ill-informed poor labourers, in a very harsh manner undermining their rights.
  • The  Commission  observed that it appreciates that the Government agencies are sincerely working to deal with the unprecedented situation to fight the spread of COVID-19 virus, and it is apparently a tough challenge for the them as well as the general public. 
  • However, it found it appropriate to bring the issues raised by the complainant to the notice of the Central Government and send the same to it through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Recently, the Commission also took cognizance of a complaint raising the issue of alleged violation of human rights of the people suffering from mental illness during lock down.

IMD forecasts normal monsoon this year

  • India will likely have a normal monsoon, with a chance of ‘above normal’ rain in August and September, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday.
  • The IMD issues a two-stage forecast: the first in April, followed by a more detailed one in the last week of May, which will also illustrate how the monsoon will spread over the country.
  • The IMD’s confidence stems largely from global weather models pointing to negligible chances of El Nino, a warming of the central equatorial Pacific that’s associated with the drying up of monsoon rain.
  • The expectation of excess rain comes from a forecast by the dynamical model or the Monsoon Mission Coupled Forecast System — that relies on supercomputers, mathematically simulating the physics of the ocean and the atmosphere. According to this forecast, there is a “high probability (70%)” for the rainfall to be “above normal to excess”.
  • The dynamical model, while better at forecasting the state of the weather a week or two in advance, isn’t yet considered reliable by meteorologists in forecasting the monsoon.



Economists claim outdated census keeping many out of PDS

  • Over 10 crore people have been excluded from the Public Distribution System because outdated 2011 census data is being used to calculate State-wise National Food Security Act (NFSA) coverage, according to economists Jean Dreze and ReetikaKhera.
  • The disastrous impact of this gap is being seen in the middle of a crippling lockdown, as people who have lost their livelihoods depend on PDS for daily survival.
  • Under the NFSA, the PDS is supposed to cover 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas, which works out to 67% of the total population, using the rural-urban population ratio in 2011. India’s population was about 121 crore in 2011 and so PDS covered approximately 80 crore people.
  • While the population data from the 2011 census was used to translate these ratios into absolute numbers, Right to Food activists have long argued that the numbers should have been updated using projected population figures, allowing State governments to issue new ration cards over time. Instead, the Centre’s calculation of the actual number of people to be covered in each State has remained “frozen.”
  • Many State governments are reluctant to issue new ration cards beyond the numbers that will be provided for by the Central quota, making it difficult to reduce exclusion errors in the PDS.
  • With the 2021 census process being delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, any proposed revision of PDS coverage using that data could now take several years.

Microfinance industry seeks extension of moratorium

  • Microfinance industry association Sa-dhan has written to Prime Minister NarendraModi seeking extension of loan moratorium benefits to the microfinance industry.
  • Mr.Satish,executive director Sa-Dhan explained that microfinance institutions (MFIs) borrowed from banks and development financial institutions (DFIs) to lend to the end user. While MFIs were providing moratorium to their customers following the RBI announcement, they would still have to repay banks. “Without any collection, MFIs will be under tremendous financial strain in the absence of the three-month moratorium,” he added.
  • Sa-Dhan pointed out that not extending the moratorium would cause MFIs to face significant cash flow issues, in the absence of any collections even for their operating costs.
  • “In such a scenario, it is likely that they will default on repayments, further increasing the stress in the banking system. The net impact will be felt on the vulnerable segments of society, who in the absence of their regular sources of incomes or funds from their usual micro-finance lenders, may turn to predatory money lenders out of desperation.”


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IMF lauds India’s decision of imposing nationwide lockdown

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that it supports India's proactive decision of a imposing a nationwide lockdown in its fight against Coronavirus. Chang Yong Rhee, the Director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department, said that the Indian government implemented a nationwide lockdown despite economic slowdown and IMF supports India's proactive decision.
  • On March 25, India entered a three-week lockdown, which was slated to end on April 14. The lockdown was extended till May 3. Talking about the impact of the coronavirus on economic growth in Asia-Pacific region, he said that there is hope in 2021 if containment policies succeed.   
  • Noting that this is not a time for business as usual, Rhee said that Asian countries need to use all policy instruments in their toolkits. In doing so, policy tradeoffs will be inevitable and will depend on policy space.
  • Spelling out a set of recommendations for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Rhee said the first priority is to support and protect the health sector to contain the virus and introduce measures that slow contagion. 
  • Observing that the pandemic is also affecting the financial market functioning, he urged countries to use monetary and macro prudential regulations flexibly to provide ample liquidity, ease financial stress of industries and SMEs.

Russian defence exports company commits $2mn to PM CARES fund

  • In the first such donation of its kind, Russia’s State-owned defence exports company Rosoboronexport has committed $2million (₹15.3 crore) to the newly set up ‘PM CARES Fund’, diplomatic and government sources confirmed. 
  • The proposed donation to the fund that has been set up specially to assist the government’s efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, marks a significant shift in India’s policy on accepting contributions from foreign government owned companies. Thus far, the government had been only open to contributions from “NRIs, PIOs and international entities such as foundations”.
  • When asked if the donation would constitute a shift from past practice, the Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment. In August 2018, the Indian government had refused to accept offers of aid from several countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and the Maldives during the Kerala floods. At the time, the government had said that it was committed to meeting relief and rehabilitation requirements “through domestic efforts”.
  • On March 28, Prime Minister NarendraModi launched Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund, putting aside the ‘Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF)’. Mr.Modi had made a personal appeal on social media and directed Indian missions to invite contributions for the fund.


DST creates integrated geospatial platform for better decision making during COVID outbreak

  • Department of Science and Technology of Government of India has created an Integrated Geospatial Platform out of available geospatial datasets, standards-based services, and analytic tools to help decision making during the current COVID-19 outbreak and aid devising area-specific strategies to handle the socio-economic impact in the recovery phase.
  • The platform is initially expected to strengthen the public health delivery system of the State and Central Governments and subsequently provide the necessary geospatial information support to citizens and agencies dealing with the challenges related to health, socio-economic distress, and livelihood challenges.
  • This integrated geospatial platform will strengthen the Nation’s health emergency management due to the COVID-19 outbreak and support the socio-economic recovery process through the seamless provision of spatial data, information, and linkage between human, medical, technological, infrastructural and natural resources.



Hockey India postpones all rescheduled national championships

  • Hockey India postponed all its rescheduled national championships indefinitely after the national lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic was extended till May 3.These tournaments were rescheduled to start on April 29 and continue till July 3 but have been suspended for now.
  • Hockey India President MohdMushtaque Ahmad said that a decision has been taken to postpone the remaining annual 2020 Hockey India National Championships keeping in mind the well-being of all our stakeholders including the players, coaches, organisers, fans and officials. He said new dates will be announced based on the evolution of the COVID-19 situation in India.


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