Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 July 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 July 2020


Centre revises ceiling for utilisation of SDRF

  • The Centre has revised ceiling for utilisation of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 25 to 35% to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
  • The move comes after several states and union territories demanded higher allocation of funds for setting up of shelter camps, quarantine activities, sample collection and screening, they added.
  • Previous norms allowed utilisation of 25% of the funds for such activities undertaken by states for Covid-19 management.
  • For the purpose of procurement of essential equipment and setting up additional testing laboratories, the expenditure is to be incurred from SDRF and will be monitored by the State Executive Committee (SEC).
  • There is also a provision for the cost of personal equipment for healthcare, municipal, police and fire authorities and the cost of thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers and consumables for government hospitals.
  • The number of Covid-19 cases in India crossed one million on Friday as new hotspots emerge and infections continue to rise.
  • Under SDRF, the home ministry has released Rs 11,170 crore to states as part of its share of first instalment of State Disaster Risk Management Fund (SDRMF), the ministry said.

Migrants return to their city work sites in Unlock2.0 phase

  • Migrant labourers who had left for their native places after coronavirus lockdowns are either returning themselves or being brought back by their employers to project sites in cities, according to industry players.
  • Since the country has already entered Unlock 2.0, projects that were stalled due to the lockdown have resumed work, though with just half of their capacity as most of the labourers are yet to return.
  • According to recent data by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, thousands of workers have been brought back by engineering firms to complete the metro projects, including Dahisar East-Andheri East metro 7 line.
  • Among others, real estate players too are taking initiatives to bring back the workforce to complete the stalled projects.



Government to start e-campaign on voluntary tax compliance

  • The Income Tax Department is all set to start an e-Campaign on voluntary compliance of Income Tax for the convenience of the taxpayers from today. The 11-day campaign will focus on the assessees or taxpayers who are either non-filers or have discrepancies in their returns for the financial year 2018-19.
  • The objective of the e-campaign is to facilitate taxpayers to online validate their tax and financial transaction information available with the I-T Department and promote voluntary compliance, especially for the assessees for 2018-19 so that they do not need to get into notice and scrutiny process.
  • This e-campaign is being run for the benefit of the taxpayers. Under this e-campaign the Income Tax Department will send email and SMS to identified taxpayers to verify their financial transactions related information received by the I-T department from various sources such as Statement of Financial Transactions, Tax Deduction at Source, Tax Collection at Source and Foreign Remittances.
  • Data analysis has identified certain taxpayers with high value transactions who have not filed returns for Assessment Year 2019-20. In addition to the non-filers, another set of return filers have also been identified wherein the high value transactions do not appear to be in line with their Income Tax Return.
  • Under the e-campaign the taxpayers will be able to access details of their high value transaction related information on the designated portal. There would be no need to visit any Income Tax office, as the response has to be submitted online.

India revives PTA agreement with South African customs union

  • Discussions between Southern African Customs Union (SACU) [South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini] and India to achieve a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) have been revived with the two sides holding a virtual meeting last week to discuss various aspects of the PTA.
  • The Indian side at the dialogue was led by Srikar Reddy, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce while SACU was led by Amb. Steve Katjiuanjo, Executive Director, Ministry of Industrialization,Trade and SME Development of Namibia.
  • India stood fully committed and ready to support manufacturing and industry in Namibia in areas such as agriculture, irrigation, renewables, ICT, pharma and medical supplies. Both sides reviewed the progress made and discussed steps to quickly move forward on the PTA.


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UN draft declaration goes soft on reforms demand

  • Despite India’s repeated demands for reform of the UN Security Council, the process of the expansion of the membership is expected to slow down this year with the final draft of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the U.N. favouring a softer approach to the issue.
  • Mention of ‘discussions’ in this key anniversary document is being interpreted as dilution of the progress made on the path of reform of the principal organs of the UN during the 122nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly.
  • The final draft for the upcoming UNGA is also a step down from the Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on September 16, 2005 when the call for reform was demanded against the backdrop of widespread unilateral decisions as seen during the Iraq war of 2003 and the “war on terror”.
  • The 2005 Resolution had expressed strong global will to stop misuse of military power and said, “We are determined to reinvigorate the intergovernmental organs of the United Nations to adopt them to the needs of the twenty-first century”.

Bangladesh bans free internet for social media users

  • The Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has issued orders for the telecom companies to stop free internet services to its subscribers for accessing social media. 
  • The regulatory authority asked the telecom service providers to stop the service because it gives rise to unhealthy competition between the companies. 
  • The BTRC order also said that this facility was being used by some people for carrying out criminal activities on the social media.
  • BTRC issued the order after it was instructed by the information ministry to ensure safe internet and maintain normal market competition. The telecom companies have started implementing the order from Friday. 



Unknown faults discovered at the Himalayan foot

  • Data from an oil and gas exploration company has helped geologists discover a series of faults at the foot of the Himalaya. The international team notes that this fault system in the southeastern region of Nepal has the potential to cause earthquakes in the country.
  • The team looked at seismic reflection data, routinely collected by exploration companies looking for oil and gas. In this method, seismic waves are produced by small explosions at multiple sources, and many recorders called geophones record the sound echoing off layers beneath the surface.
  • The signals are combined to make an image that looks like a slice showing layers through the top few kilometres of the Earth’s crust. The researchers were able to identify the faults because the pattern of layers showed bends.
  • “The problem is that good scientific records of earthquakes go back less than a hundred years. During this time there don’t seem to have been any earthquakes on the faults that we discovered. However, the time between earthquakes on typical faults is often hundreds or thousands of years, and is very haphazard,” explains Prof. Waldron.



SabaKarim resigns as BCCI operations general manager

  • SabaKarim has resigned as the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s general manager — cricket operations. The former India wicketkeeper is understood to have submitted his resignation hours before the apex council meeting on Friday.
  • During his two-and-half year stint, Karimwas responsible for senior domestic cricket, all , cricket hosted in India and the women’s cricket wing of the BCCI. While his resignation hasn’t surprised some of his colleagues, the timing has raised a few eyebrows.


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