Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 22 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 22 April 2020


Government says evacuation from U.S not possible now

  • The government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it was not possible to evacuate stranded people from the United States at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the government, however told a Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana that a representation could be made by petitioners regarding “specific vulnerable people” to designated officers listed by the Ministry of External Affairs within the next fortnight.
  • “On such a representation being filed by the petitioners, the authorities concerned are directed to consider the same on its own merits and take appropriate steps to ameliorate the conditions of those in the U.S.A.,” the court ordered.
  • The Bench was hearing petitions, including one filed by senior advocate VibhaDattaMakhija, seeking evacuation of vulnerable Indian citizens from the U.S., particularly those on temporary visas. 
  • The Centre had earlier filed a status report setting out steps already taken by it. The court referred to the government’s measures as a “proactive approach.”

Supreme court directs centre to address issues of migrant workers

  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to take steps as it deems fit to resolve “issues” raised by activist Harsh Mander concerning migrant workers, which include lack of basic amenities and payment of minimum wages.
  • Mr.Bhushan, in the hearing held through videoconferencing, submitted that despite governmental measures, thousands of labourers still lack access to basic amenities.He further argued that studies conducted by NGOs indicate that there were several areas where the aid was not reaching to migrant workers.
  • On the contrary, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referred to a status report filed by the Union Home Ministry to submit that measures were in place to address the issues concerning migrant workers.



SEBI relaxes norms on IPO and rights issues

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has relaxed certain regulatory requirements related to rights issues and initial public offers (IPOs) to make it easier for companies to raise funds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has made the secondary markets increasingly volatile.
  • The capital markets regulator has said that any listed entity with a market capitalisation of at least ₹100 crore can use the fast track route for rights issue. Earlier, the base limit was set at ₹250 crore for such offerings.
  • Further, any company that has been listed for 18 months can raise funds through fast track rights issue. The earlier eligibility was set at three years.Also, the minimum subscription requirement to make the issue successful has been lowered from the earlier 90% of the offer size to 75% of the issuance.
  • SEBI has also extended the validity of its observations issued on draft documents by six months for issuers whose observations have expired or will expire between March 1 and September 30. 
  • SEBI issues final observations on IPO draft documents after which the company has one year to launch the public issue.

FICCI survey finds shrinkage in over 70% of businesses

  • More than 70% of Indian businesses expect COVID-19 to have a high or very high impact on them, expecting a de-growth or contraction of business in the current financial year, according to a survey of almost 400 firms conducted by industry group FICCI.
  • A whopping 84% say their cash flows have reduced. The outlook for the future is grim, with almost 70% of businesses saying it will take more than nine months for the economy to return to normal.
  • More than half of the surveyed businesses were expected to cut worker salaries, and almost three out of four companies expected to cut jobs over the next few months.
  • The survey was carried out over the last week in association with Dhruva Advisors, and included 380 businesses across sectors nationwide. Almost 70% of firms say that the measures announced with the government to deal with the crisis are insufficient, while only 7% say they are satisfied.
  • When asked what help they expected from the government, 44% said tax relief and incentives were the need of the hour.


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UNWFP predicts doubling of food insecurity this year

  • The number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
  • The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic are expected to leave some 130 million people acutely hungry this year, adding to around 135 million already in that category.
  • “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the World Food Programme (WFP).“We all need to come together to deal with this because if we don't the cost will be too high,” he said.
  • Mr. Husain said it was critical to act quickly in order to prevent people already living hand-to-mouth, such as food vendors in Kenya, from selling their assets as it could take them years to become self-reliant again.

G20 agri ministers decides to ensure continuous flow of food and agri products

  • The G-20 Agriculture Ministers have decided to ensure the continuous flow of food and agricultural products to safeguard global food security and nutrition. An official statement following the Agriculture Ministers' virtual meeting yesterday said, they commit to cooperating closely and taking concrete actions to safeguard global food security and nutrition.
  • They reaffirm the importance of working to ensure the continued flow of food, products, and input essential for agricultural and food production across borders in line with their Leaders' Statement on COVID-19 of March 26.
  • The ministers organized the meeting through video conferencing by the Saudi Presidency where where they agreed to guard against any unjustified restrictive measures that could lead to excessive food price volatility in international markets and threaten the food security of large proportions of the world population.
  • Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has participated in the meeting of G-20 Agriculture Ministers. He shared the decision of the Government of India to exempt all agriculture operations during lockdown period and ensuring continued availability of essential agriculture produce and supply. Mr Tomar welcomed the initiative taken by Saudi Arabia to bring the G-20 countries together.


Researchers develop magnetic RAM for higher data storage and faster computation

  • Data storage concerns will soon be history with researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, developing magnetic Random Access Memory (RAM) which is faster, more energy-efficient and capable of storing more information in a smaller volume than existing data storage technologies.
  • The team, which is in process of patenting the technology, claims that the Spin-transfer torque (STT) based nanospintronic devices will also put an end to computer data loss due to interruptions of power supply and hence will have the capability to transform next-generation computers, smartphones and other gadgets.
  • According to the researchers, magnetic RAMs in which data are represented as spin of electrons, promise better storage capabilities than conventional charge-based RAM.
  • According to SrikantSrinivasan, also associate professor at the institute, one major hurdle to scaling of spintronics-based RAM has been the high operating current density but the problem has been addressed by this research.


Carlsen wins over Firouzja in online chess tournament

  • Magnus Carlsen pulled off a 2.5-1.5 victory over 16-year-old sensation AlirezaFirouzja in one of the most awaited clashes of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational online chess tournament on Monday.
  • This second-round clash was followed with added interest since Firouzja stunned Carlsen 8.5-7.5 in the title-clash of the Banter Blitz Cup on April 16.
  • In the other match of the day, Hikaru Nakamura defeated AnishGiri by an identical scoreline.The results (second round): Magnus Carlsen (Nor) btAlirezaFirouzja (FIDE) 2.5-1.5; Hikaru Nakamura (USA) btAnishGiri (Ned) 2.5-1.5.


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