Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 March 2020


Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 March 2020


::NATIONAL::

SC decides to go digital to maintain social distancing

  • The Supreme Court on Monday decided to further restrict its functioning on account of the COVID-19 scare and resort to the digital mode to maintain social distancing and prevent spread of infection. The court premises would be completely shutdown.
  • The Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 to lift the limitation period for all cases across tribunals and courts in the country until further notice.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice Bobde heard a few cases via videoconferencing on Monday. A giant screen, instead of the usual crowd of lawyers and litigants, greeted Chief Justice Bobde and his fellow judges as they entered the courtroom.
  • A circular issued by the Supreme Court late on Monday explained that the cases would be heard through an app called ‘Vidyo’.
  • “Based on the progress made in the next few days, cases pertaining to bail also will be considered to be listed subsequently on priority of urgency basis,” Mr. Aristotle said.

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Parliament budget session ends early due to COVID-19 pandemic

  • The LokSabha was adjourned sine die on Monday after the passage of the Finance Bill, 2020 without any debate due to the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The House was scheduled to adjourn on April 3.
  • Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said it was an extraordinary situation and that the Finance Bill needed to be passed.
  • After the passage of the Bill, two more Bills for a National Security University was introduced by Minister of State for Home G. Kishen Reddy.
  • Towards the end of the sitting, Prime Minister NarendraModi arrived in the LokSabha and members gave a standing ovation to the first responders, medical professionals, essential services workers and media for being at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.
  • He added that the Budget session, the first part of which began on January 31, saw 109 hours and 23 minutes of work done in 23 sittings. 
  • “As we go back to our constituencies, we need to take on the challenge of this pandemic and turn a negative atmosphere into a positive one,” he said.

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::ECONOMY::

Employment ministry asks employers not to cut down salaries/lay off workers

  • The Union Labour and Employment Ministry has been reaching out to employers in the public and private sectors, asking them not to lay off workers or cut salaries due to the ongoing lockdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Ministry said if any worker took leave, it should be “deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction of wages”. The same should apply to those working in an establishment that is ordered to shut down, the letter said.
  • “The termination of employee from the job or reduction of wages in this scenario would further deepen the crises and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employee but also hamper their morale to fight the epidemic,” the letter stated.

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Centre amends law to enable excise duty hike in fuels

  • The government on Monday amended the law to get enabling powers to raise excise duty on petrol and diesel by ₹8 per litre each in future.
  • Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman moved an amendment to the Finance Bill, 2020, to raise the limit up to which the government can raise special excise duty on petrol and diesel to ₹18 per litre and ₹12, respectively.
  • The amendment, along with the Finance Bill, was passed without a debate in the LokSabha.This is an enabling provision and no change in excise duty is being done as of now, an official said.
  • The amendment gives powers to the government to raise the duty by up to ₹8 per litre in petrol and diesel at any time it wishes.Earlier in the day, the LokSabha passed the Finance Bill, 2020, without any discussion as the House curtailed its sittings in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

Ecuador marks highest daily increase in COVID deaths

  • Ecuador marked its highest daily increase in deaths and new confirmed cases of coronavirus yesterday.
  • According to the country's National Risk and Emergency Management Service, the number of fatalities rose from seven on late Saturday to 14 on Sunday morning, while infections surged from 532 to 789.
  • Ecuador on February 29 acknowledged that the coronavirus had reached the country. A septuagenarian who lived in Madrid and who had flown to the port of Guayaquil two weeks earlier became the country's first case of COVID-19.
  • The woman later died in a hospital. Like other Latin American countries, Ecuador has implemented curfews, closed borders, cancelled classes and banned all flights in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

CHINA witnesses drop in imported cases

  • Mainland China on Monday reported a drop in its daily tally of new COVID-19 cases, reversing four straight days of increases, as the capital, Beijing, ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.
  • China had 39 new confirmed cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier. All the new ones involved travellers arriving from abroad, many of them Chinese students returning home.
  • Beijing stepped up measures to contain imported infections, diverting all arriving international flights from Monday to other cities, including Shanghai and as far west as Xian, where passengers will undergo virus screening.
  • Beijing reported 10 new imported cases, the National Health Commission said, down from 13 a day earlier. City authorities said cases came from Spain, Britain, France, the U.S. and Pakistan. Infections from abroad in Beijing hit an all-time daily high of 21 on March 18.
  • Shanghai and Guangzhou have also said all arriving international passengers will be tested to screen for the virus, expanding a programme that previously only applied to those coming from heavily affected countries.

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::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::

Scientists develop starch based Hemostat

  • Scientists at the INST (Institute of Nano Science and Technology), that operates under the Department of Science & Technology, have developed starch based hemostat.
  • The starch-based ‘hemostat’ are developed to stop rapid blood loss during accidents, as it physically absorbs excess fluid and concentrates the natural clotting factors in blood.
  • The product possesses increased absorption capacity, improved absorption, inexpensive and is biodegradable.
  • Rapid Blood coagulation is important to stop blood loss. When bold oozes out of cuts, the circulating substance in the blood called the coagulants changes the blood into an insoluble gel. 
  • This process requires coagulation factors, phospholipids and calcium. There are 12 coagulation factors in human body.The Coagulation factors are manufactured in liver.
  • The Institute of Nano Science operates under Department of Science and Technology.It was established under the National Mission of Nano Science and Technology or NANO mission.The mission aims to promote growth of nanoscience and technology.

::SPORTS::

Canada pulls out of Olympics over corona fear

  • Canada pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics over Coronavirus fears as Japan's prime Minister today admitted a delay may be inevitable and the International Olympic Committee said a decision should come within weeks.
  • Australia also told its athletes to prepare for a Tokyo Olympics in 2021 as expectations grew that the Games scheduled to start on July 24, would be postponed as the virus crisis convulses the globe.

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