Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 18 April 2020


Vice President greets people on world heritage day 

  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today greeted people on the occasion of World Heritage Day. In a tweet, Mr Naidu called upon people to make a strong resolve to protect and preserve our heritage, culture and all the monuments that stand as a testimony to our glorious past.
  • He said, people must remember the fact that heritage is the shared wealth of humanity. The Vice President said,there is a need to increase awareness on India’s rich heritage, traditions and vibrant culture among the people. 
  • He called upon the youth to make productive use of the lockdown period  by enhancing their knowledge on the great heritage of India.
  • The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in 1982 announced, 18th April as the World Heritage Day. It was approved by General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983, with an aim to conserve and enhance awareness about the importance of cultural heritage and monuments.

Health ministry claims COVID infection rates have slowed down

  • The Union Health Ministry on Friday said the doubling rate of positive COVID-19 cases was now down to 6.2 days, compared to 3 before the nationwide lockdown that began on March 25.
  • India reported 1,076 new cases and 32 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 13,835 and 452 deaths. As many as 1,749 persons have been cured/discharged after recovery. The active cases now are 11,616.
  • However, according to reports from the State Health Departments, the total number of positive cases are 14,250, of which 11,853 are active cases. As many as 493 persons have died of the disease.The ICMR said there was no evidence suggesting that novel coronavirus is showing any signs of mutation.



RBI announces liquidity measures in tune of Rs 1 lakh crore

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday announced a slew of liquidity measures to ease financial stress and increase credit flows, while indicating that more room was likely to emerge for reduction in interest rates as inflation softens.
  • Among the measures announced was liquidity infusion of ₹1 lakh crore, of which ₹50,000 crore is exclusively for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), via banks. 
  • The NBFCs have experienced liquidity shortage since banks have not offered them any moratorium for repayment, while these entities have had to extend the moratorium option to their customers.The RBI will extend another ₹50,000 crore to refinancing agencies like Nabard, Sidbi and National Housing Bank.
  • Separately, RBI also said it has increased the ways and means advances (WMA) limits of States by 60%, over and above the level as on March 31, 2020.
  • The move was aimed at providing greater comfort to the States for undertaking containment and mitigation efforts, and to plan market borrowing programmes better, the RBI said. On April 1, the RBI increased the limit by 30%. The increased limit will be available till September 30, 2020.

India considers IMF liquidity boosting measure could be costly

  • Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman said on Thursday the country could not support a general allocation of new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because it might not be effective in easing COVID-19-driven financial pressures.
  • Ms.Sitharaman said that she also was concerned that such a major liquidity injection could produce potentially costly side-effects if countries used the funds for “extraneous” purposes.
  • Ms.Sitharaman joined U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in opposing a new SDR allocation, which would provide all 189 members with new foreign exchange reserves with no conditions.


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India extends full support to joint African effort against COVID

  • Prime Minister NarendraModi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa exchanged views about the domestic, regional and global challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They discussed on phone,  the steps being taken by their  governments to protect the health of their people and to minimise economic impact.
  • Prime Minister Modi President assured President Ramaphosa that India will provide all possible support to South Africa for ensuring supplies of essential medicines during this challenging time. 
  • He commended the proactive role being played by President Ramaphosa as the Chair of the African Union, for coordinating a continent-wide response to the pandemic.
  • Prime Minister talked about the centuries old ties of friendship and people-to-people exchanges between India and Africa and conveyed India’s full support for the joint African effort against the virus.

Myanmar to release around 25000 prisoners amidst virus fear

  • More than a quarter of Myanmar’s prison population is being released, the President’s office announced on Friday, after calls grew to ease pressure on overcrowded jails with coronavirus fears gripping the country.
  • The Southeast Asian nation grants an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners to mark its April New Year holiday, but this is the largest recorded in recent years. 
  • It comes as governments around the world — including the U.S., parts of Europe, and Colombia — grapple with overcrowded prisons as fears spiral of virus outbreaks behind bars.
  • “To mark Myanmar New Year, by respecting humanitarian ground and peace in mind of the people, the President pardons altogether 24,896 prisoners from various prisons,” a statement on Friday from the President’s office said.
  • So far Myanmar has officially confirmed 85 cases of COVID-19, including four deaths, but experts fear the real number is many times higher because of the low numbers being tested. The President’s office said 87 foreigners included in the amnesty would be deported.


ICAR develops PUSA decontamination tunnel 

  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has developed PUSA decontamination tunnel. It was inaugurated on April 16, 2020 by the Union Minister ShriKailashChaudhary.
  • The Tunnel includes foot operated water dispenser and soap. The tunnel also provides fogging for about 20 seconds. Also, it sources Quaternary Ammonium Compounds that are used at concentration of 0.045%. The concentration amount has been fixed as recommended by the Health department.
  • These are compounds are often used as surfactants, disinfectant, antistatic agents or fabric softener. They also have antimicrobial activity. They are cationic detergents that are commonly used to remove organic materials. 
  • They are commonly used in food service industries as sanitizing agents.They are effective till 100 degree Celsius. They work against fungi, viruses and amoeba by disrupting their cell membranes.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research coordinates agricultural research and education. In 2006, the institute developed vaccine for bird flu. Also, the ICAR scientists were the first to sequence pigeon pea genome.


Tour de France cycling championship postponed in wake of COVID

  • The world's most famous cycling race Tour de France has been postponed in the wake of Corona virus pandemic. The French newspapers reported that the three-week race was set to start on 27th of June in the Riviera city of Nice has been set for August. This year's event has 21 stages, with the longest of them stretching 218 kilometres (135 miles).
  • The decision came after French President Emmanuel Macron announced in his speech to the nation that all public events with large crowds have been cancelled until at least mid-July. The last time the Tour was not held was in 1946, with the nation still emerging from World War-II. It was also stopped during World War-I.


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