Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 17 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 17 April 2020


Centre releases funds to states under MGNREGA

  • Centre has released 7,300 crore rupees to the States and Union Territories under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to liquidate pending dues of last financial year but also the wage dues for the first fortnight of 2020-21. 
  • Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar conducted a detailed review of all flagship schemes of the Rural Development yesterday. He desired that MGNREGS works in Non-Containment Areas with adequate focus on social distancing, must be resumed in an efficient manner.
  • The Minister said, the focus should be on creating durable assets relating to irrigation and water conservation.
  • Mr Tomar expressed satisfaction that over 93 thousand Self Help Group members are engaged in manufacturing of cotton protective face covers as well as sanitizers and are also running community kitchens across the country.
  • Mr Tomar noted that under PradhanMantriAwaasYojana (Gramin), over 800 crore rupees has been released to the States.  He advised that around 40 lakh beneficiaries of this scheme who have received second and third instalment of funds must be assisted in a proactive manner to quickly complete their housing units.

NITI Aayog clarifies on information provided through ArogyaSetu app

  • NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has said the government will use information provided through AarogyaSetu only for medical intervention and people's data will never be used for any other purpose.
  • In a series of tweets, Mr.Kant  said the privacy is key and  the government has given it the highest level of importance. He said the ArogyaSetu app will shield people, their families and the community against Covid-19. 
  • Terming  it as a world-class Make In India product, he said it  empowers people  with information  about the potential risk of infection.



Agri ministry issues SOP for sowing of Kharif crops

  • The Union Agriculture Ministry on Thursday laid down the standard operating procedure (SOP) to guide farmers on safety precautions that need to be strictly followed during planting of kharif crops amid the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “Transplanting of paddy and vegetables are labour-intensive activities. Hence, it is important to strictly follow guidelines on social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks,” the SOP released by the ministry during the national video conference on kharif crops said.
  • Workers should wash their hands, legs and face with soap when coming out of the field for meal or rest, it added.
  • For preparing land for sowing of kharif crops, the ministry said, farmers should minimise labour and use tractor. Farmers should use seed-cum-fertiliser drills and reduce the number of workers in the field.
  • As per the SOP, social distancing and sanitization norms should be followed during field preparation, sowing and fertiliser application.
  • “Maintain social distance of atleast 1-2 metre during farm operations. Workers should be assigned separate duties with regard to farm activities,” it said.
  • “All farm equipment from seed drill, plough to tractor should be sanitized before use. Those working in the farm field should wear masks or cover their face with three layers of “chunnis, gamchha or towel,” it added. Each worker should have a separate utensil and clean it with soap after use, the SOP said.
  • For operations like weeding and spraying of fertilisers and pesticides, the Ministry asked farmers to “Burn or bury in soil empty packets of pesticides. Sun dry empty bags of seeds, fertilisers for two days for re-use.

IMF project zero % growth for Asian economies in 2020

  • Asia is expected to witness zero percent growth in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, its worst growth performance in almost 60 years, the International Monetary Fund IMF) has said.
  • The IMF in a blog titled 'COVID-19 Pandemic and the Asia-Pacific Region: Lowest Growth Since the 1960s' further said the impact of the coronavirus on the region will be "severe and unprecedented".
  • The blog said, "This is the worst growth performance in almost 60 years, including during the Global Financial Crisis, when the growth stood at 4.7 percent; and the Asian Financial Crisis when it stood at 1.3 percent."

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India repatriates Pakistani nationals through Attari-Wagah border

  • India repatriated 41 Pakistani nationals today through the Attari-Wagah border. Their movement to the border was facilitated by the Ministry of external affairs in coordination with state law enforcement agencies of Uttar Pradesh , Punjab , Haryana and Delhi. 
  • These Pakistani nationals came to India on different visas including Visit, Pilgrimage and Medical much before the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced in the country.
  • AIR correspondent reports that Foreign Ministry in a letter to State Police heads of Uttar Pradesh , Haryana , Punjab and Delhi sought assistance for repatriation of 41 Pakistani Nationals. 
  • They reached the Attari-Wagah border today morning by road. Every one who is learnt to be repatriated was tested for being asymptomatic for COVID-19 infection .India has been facilitating return of stranded nationals even in times of this global pandemic .
  • Where on one hand, the country is seen combating series of cease fire violations at the Line of Control, on the other it continues its mission for humanity by facilitating return of foreign nationals.

Israeli president asks parliament to pick PM

  • Israel’s President on Thursday asked the Knesset to choose a new Prime Minister, giving Parliament three weeks to agree upon a leader or plunge the country into an unprecedented fourth consecutive election in just over a year.
  • President ReuvenRivlin made the move after his Prime Minister-designate former military chief Benny Gantz, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to reach a power-sharing deal by a midnight deadline.
  • The bitter rivals had pledged to form an “emergency” government to steer the country through the coronavirus crisis, which has ravaged the economy and sent unemployment to record highs.
  • But after weeks of talks, including a final 48-hour extension granted by Mr.Rivlin, the President said he had lost confidence in their chances of striking a deal.


Researchers develop affordable antimicrobial spray coating for PPE

  • A team of researchers of IIT Guwahati has developed affordable antimicrobial (antiviral/antibacterial) spray-based coating for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 3D printed Ear Guard for comfortable use of face masks by healthcare workers.
  • In a statement, the IIT stated PPE that are being used presently are designed to protect the wearer from infectious microbes/aqueous virus droplets acting as a barrier. However, these PPE, generally, do not have the ability to prevent the spread of microbes as the surface of the fabric readily allows adherence and accumulation of microbes with time. This leads to further spread of the microbes due to negligent handling of PPE and wrong disposal protocols.
  • In an attempt to safeguard healthcare workers and citizens from current coronavirus crisis and other infectious diseases, the research group has developed an affordable antimicrobial (antiviral/antibacterial) spray-based coating for PPE kits to kill and prevent the spread of microbes once they come in contact with the coated PPE surface. The strategic association of metal nanoparticle cocktail, such as copper, silver and other active ingredients, present in the spray acts as an antimicrobial agent.
  • This ensures limited penetration and accumulation of microbial contaminants on PPE. Thus, the coating has the potential to reduce the risk of secondary infection by limiting the transmission of the microbes.
  • The innovation is affordable and readily deployable using existing infrastructure available with PPE manufacturers. It can be spray/dip-coated onto any kind of surface including textiles and other medical device surfaces to get rid of microbial load. This will allow reusability of PPEs and easy containment of the microbes.


IPL  2020suspended indefinitely

  • Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has suspended the Indian Premier League 2020 indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BCCI secretary Jay Shah said that due to the evolving global health concerns regarding COVID-19 and lockdown measures implemented by the Government of India to contain the spread of the pandemic, the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 Season will be suspended till further notice.


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