Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 16 May 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 16 May 2020

::NATIONAL::

Curbing of fake news does not impinge press freedom claims I & B minister

  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar today stated that curbing fake news does not impinge on press freedom. In an article in several news dailies, Mr Javadekar said, rumours are spread widely as news with dangerous consequences and government is committed to battling it.
  • The Minister said, there is always a debate about how much freedom the press enjoys in a country. He pointed out that in India, the only time press freedom was muzzled was during the Emergency.
  • He said, fake news poses a big threat to freedom of media. He highlighted that during the lockdown, there has been a marked increase in the circulation of fake news pushed through print, electronic and especially social media such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.
  • To check this menace, government established a Fact Check unit in Press Information Bureau that started taking immediate cognizance of fake news. Mr Javadekar said, fake news also creates panic.
  • He said, it cannot be allowed in a pluralistic democratic set up like India, not even if the purveyors of fake news try to portray it as crackdown on the freedom of press.

Defence ministry approves new testing infrastructure scheme

  • In order to give a boost to domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing, Defence minister Rajnath Singh has approved the launch of Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) with an outlay of 400 crore rupees for creating state of the .....................................................

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::ECONOMY::

Government announces package for strengthening infrastructure ,capacity of agriculture and allied sectors

  • Government has announced a 1.63 lakh crore rupee package for agriculture and allied sectors aimed at strengthening infrastructure, logistics and capacity building at farm gate.
  • Announcing the third tranche of an overall package of 20 lakh crore rupees to deal with the economic situation arising of COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a one lakh crore rupees Agri Infrastructure Fund that will finance projects at farm-gate and aggregation point for efficient post-harvest management of crops.
  • Besides, schemes for micro food enterprises, cattle vaccination, dairy sector, herbal plantation, beekeeping, and fruits and vegetables were also announced.
  • Ms Sitharaman said the government will provide one lakh crore rupees for aggregators, farmers producers organisations, primary agri cooperative societies, agri entrepreneurs and startups under the agri infrastructure fund. She informed that the fund will be created at the earliest.
  • The Minister stated that lack of adequate cold chain facilities and post-harvest management infrastructure in the vicinity of farm gates is causing gaps in the value chain. She announced 10,000 crore rupees fund to support 2 lakh micro food enterprises for promoting health and wellness, herbal, organic and nutritional products.
  • The government extended Operation Greens from tomato, onion and potato to all fruits and vegetables by providing an additional fund of 500 crore rupees.
  • This money would go into providing subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets as well as on storages including cold storages. Ms Sitharaman said the scheme will prevent distress sale by farmers.

NBFC’s seek permission from RBI to draw from reserves

  • Non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) on Friday requested the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow them to draw down from their reserves for making additional provision for expected losses due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • NBFCs appropriate pro- statutory and other reserves, and utilisation .................................................

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Foreign secretary embraces India’s role as pharmacy of the world

  • Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla today said India’s role as a pharmacy of the world has come into focus during the COVID-19 crisis. He said, India has a world-class pharmaceutical industry that is the producer of choice for critical medications with brand recognition in all geographies and markets.
  • He added that the pandemic produced an explosion in demand for drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and Paracetamol produced in India. The Foreign Secretary was giving a virtual address to the National Defence College on 'India’s Foreign Policy Options in the Emerging World Order'.
  • Mr Shringla said, in a coordinated response involving several branches of government and multiple private sector pharma companies, India was able to supply large volumes of these drugs to friends and consumers across the world.
  • It is also making its medical and public health expertise and capacity available to the entire South Asian region. He said, India has not let the pandemic come in the way of diplomatic engagements.
  • The Foreign Secretary pointed out that India’s wise counsel and the Prime Minister’s statesmanship have been sought and appreciated at various bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral platforms.

AIIB signs $145million agreement to improve irrigation in West Bengal

  • Government of India, West Bengal Government and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB today signed a loan agreement for a 145 million dollar project to improve irrigation services and flood management in the Damodar .....................................................

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::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

CSIR develops light weight carbon foam batteries

  • The researcher from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed light carbon foam that will replace lead batteries. The carbon foam is easy to fabricate, non-toxic and affordable.
  • The researcher is a recipient of INSPIRE Faculty award. The material developed by the institute has the potential to replace lead-acid batteries.
  • It is also useful to make heat sink, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, electrode for lead-acid batteries, hydrogen storage and water purification systems.
  • The raw materials to make the carbon foam is easily available. It also helps to remove oil, arsenic and other metals from contaminated water.
  • Carbon Foam batteries have better life cycle as compared to the lead-acid batteries. They are built three-fifth the cost of other advanced batteries.
  • The world’s first carbon foam manufacturing unit was set up in Gujarat in 2011. 20% of the produce in these industries are being exported and the rest are being used for electric vehicles.

::SPORTS::

SAI prepares SOP’s for post lockdown training

  • Sports Authority of India (SAI) has formed a committee to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure to resume training in all SAI Centres in all sporting disciplines after the lockdown is lifted. All training had been suspended across SAI Centres in view of the on-going Corona pandemic.
  • A separate committee has been formed to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure for swimming, since the sport requires athletes to train in water and may have different health risks involved, as compared to other sport.
  • The recommendations of the Committees are being made in consultation with respective National Sporting Federations (NSFs) and other stakeholders and will be sent to the Sports Ministry for final approval.
  • Our correspondent reports, all NSFs have been asked to share their recommendation of preventive measures that must be followed in each sport so as to ensure safety of athletes from COVID-19.

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