Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 21 April 2020


Centre asks states for strict compliance to lockdown guidelines

  • Home Ministry has urged States and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance and implementation of revised consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures without any dilution to fight COVID-19. In a letter to states, the Ministry observed that certain states are allowing activities not permitted under Home Ministry guidelines.
  • Home Ministry spokesperson said Violations to lockdown measures have been reported, which pose a serious health hazard to public and risk for spread of COVID- 19. 
  • There have been incidents of violence on frontline healthcare professionals, complete violations of social distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas.
  • Union Government has constituted six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams to make on-spot assessment of COVID-19 situation, issue necessary directions to State Authorities for its redressal and submit their report to the Centre. 
  • The teams will focus on compliance and implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines, supply of essential commodities, social distancing, preparedness of the health infrastructure, safety of health professionals and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.

HRD ministry reviews SAYAM portal

  • Human Resource Development  Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' held a detailed review of the National online education platform SWAYAM and the 32 DTH Television Education Channels SWAYAM PRABHA in New Delhi today.
  • In the lockdown condition there has been a tremendous increase in demand and the usage of SWAYAM Courses and SWAYAM PRABHA videos.The Ministry in a statement said that 1902 courses are available currently in SWAYAM, which have been offered to 1.56 crore  students since launch.
  • It was decided that all the 1900 SWAYAM Courses and 60 thousand  SWAYAM PRABHA videos would be translated into ten regional languages and made available to the students so that more benefit can be derived from the same.
  • On SWAYAM PRABHA, the Ministry said that is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite. 
  • It said that possibility of redistribution of channels to match available content, and viewership will be explored. It was also decided to enrich the content in SWAYAM PRABHA by collecting content from whomsoever willing to contribute the same under VidyaDaan Programme.



Finance ministry appreciates New Development Bank’s emergency assistance to India

  • Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman appreciated efforts of New Development Bank on fast tracking of financial assistance of about five billion dollars to BRICS countries including Emergency Assistance of one billion dollar to India to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Addressing the 5th Annual Meeting of Board of Governors through video conference yesterday, Ms.Sitharaman also suggested that, assistance under this facility to be enhanced to 10 billion dollars. She also mentioned about Prime Minister NarendraModi’s initiative of creating a COVID-19 Emergency Fund and India’s efforts in supplying critical medicine to the needy countries to tackle the COVID-19.
  • Ms Sitharaman also outlined various measures taken in India to respond to the COVID-19 including allocation of 15 thousand crore rupees for strengthening the healthcare system and announcement of a scheme of social support measures amounting to 25 billion dollars to alleviate the hardship of the poor and the vulnerable. 
  • She also strongly encouraged NDB to take appropriate actions to join G-20 forum along with other Multilateral Development Bank and International Financial Institutions. Ms.Sitharaman urged NDB to follow innovative practices in supporting the BRICS nations for achieving their Sustainable Development Goals.

Government sets time frame for banks to disburse loans

  • As business activities resumed on Monday after a nationwide lockdown, the Finance Ministry swung into action to ensure credit flow to companies and set a specific time frame for banks within which a loan needs to be disbursed.
  • In a communication to State-run banks, the government said the move is aimed at ensuring credit flow for economic activities and the guidelines come into effect from Monday when the business activities resume.The move comes as banks have turned risk averse to extend loans amid an uncertain economic outlook caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As per the indicative time frames, from processing to disbursement of COVID-19 emergency credit lines, the Ministry said banks have to complete the disbursement within six to nine working days of working capital loans to existing micro, medium and small enterprises; corporate and agriculture borrowers as well as financial assistance to self-help group borrowers.
  • Working capital reassessment of up to ₹5 crore for existing borrowers have to be processed within six to nine days, while facilities of ₹5 crore and above need to be processed within 12 to 15 working days.


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China accuses India of violating WTO norms

  • India’s recent policy to curb opportunistic takeovers of domestic companies goes against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) principles, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy here said on Monday.
  • This is the first response from the Chinese side after the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in an April 17 decision imposed restrictions saying companies from countries that share borders with India can invest “only under the government route”.
  • ”More importantly, they do not conform to the consensus of the G20 leaders and Trade Ministers to realise a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” said Counsellor JiRong, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy.
  • it was understood that the Indian decision was a response to the news of an incremental purchase of shares in HDFC by the People’s Bank of China.
  • The Chinese spokesperson invoked the principle of free market economy and said, “Companies make choices based on market principles. We hope India would revise relevant discriminatory practices, treat investments from different countries equally, and foster an open, fair and equitable business environment”.

Indian ambassador asks expats to avoid hate speeches inmiddle east

  • Cautioning Indians in the United Arab Emirates against a spate of religiously derogatory posts, India’s Ambassador to the UAE said any discrimination would not be tolerated.
  • In the past month, at least six Indians have lost jobs or face charges over social media posts linking the coronavirus pandemic to the Muslim community in India.
  • The issue, according to at least two sources aware of the discussions, is creating a greater diplomatic strain for New Delhi, even as it negotiates with UAE officials who have been pushing for India to repatriate thousands of citizens who have lost jobs with companies in the Emirates due to COVID-19.
  • Former Ambassador to the UAE NavdeepSuri says the Emirates has cracked down on hate speech against all religions, especially after it enacted the 2015 Anti-Discrimination Law, punishing “any form of discrimination against people and religion”. “The UAE has been working actively to promote an image of tolerance and have targeted religious extremism,” he said.


FCI to make alcohol-based sanitizers using surplus rice

  • urplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) would be converted to ethanol to ensure adequate availability of alcohol-based sanitizers in the country. 
  • Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, DharmendraPradhan today in a meeting of National Biofuel Coordination Committee approved this decision as per the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018. 
  • The ethanol produced from surplus rice would also be used in production of Ethanol Blended Petrol .
  • The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, allows such conversions of surplus food grains, in case the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare anticipates its over supply during a crop-year.


Charles Leclerc wins virtual Grand Prix

  • Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc claimed a second victory in the Formula One Esports Virtual Grand Prix championship, winning the Shanghai GP. Leclerc started on pole on Sunday and finished ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon and Guanyu Zhou, who races in Formula 2. 
  • “I’m actually enjoying very much playing, and streaming. And I enjoy it even more when I win,” tweeted Leclerc.


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