Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 27 April 2020


Centre refutes news of reducing the retirement age of govt. employees

  • The government today refuted the reports in a section of media that it has moved a proposal for reducing the age of retirement of government employees to 50 years. 
  • Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh said in New Delhi that there is no such move to reduce the retirement age nor has been such a proposal discussed or contemplated at any level in the government. 
  • He said, there are certain motivated elements which have been over the last few days, time and again planting such disinformation in a section of media and attributing it to the government sources or DoPT. 
  • He said each time a prompt rebuttal is sought to be made to clear the confusion in the minds of stakeholders. Dr Singh also said it is unfortunate that at a time when the country is going through Corona crises and the entire world is praising Prime Minister NarendraModi for his proactive handling of the pandemic, there are certain elements and vested interests which try to underplay all the good work done by the centre by planting such media stories. 
  • The Minister added that right from the beginning of the emergence of the Coronavirus challenge, the Central government has, from time to time taken prompt decisions to safeguard the interests of the employees.

BTAD province in Assam might see governor’s rule likely

  • The COVID-19 pandemic may earn Governor’s rule for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam.
  • The State’s Governor is the constitutional head of the BTAD that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).The BTAD covers four districts of western and northern Assam.
  • Elections were scheduled to be held for the BTC on April 4 but was deferred indefinitely in view of the pandemic.The council’s current term expires on April 27.
  • Some political parties, including the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP), do not want the term to be extended.After a meeting with Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal last week, a BJP delegation met Governor JagdishMukhi and sought imposition of Governor’s rule in BTAD.
  • The delegation argued that the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath would make it impossible to hold the elections in the near future.
  • The BJP rules Assam in alliance with the AsomGanaParishad and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), which has been ruling BTC since its creation in 2003.



NTPC to provide hydrogen FC based vehicles in Delhi and Leh

  • National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) has invited Global Expression of Interest (EoI) to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric cars in Leh and Delhi. 
  • The EoI has been issued by NTPC's wholly owned subsidiary, NTPC VidyutVyapar Nigam LIMITED. The move to procure Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles is first of its kind project in the country, wherein a complete solution from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle will be developed.
  • The initiative, which has been undertaken with the support of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, will also harness renewable energy for generation of hydrogen and develop its storage and dispensation facilities as part of pilot projects at Leh and Delhi. 
  • The move to launch hydrogen powered vehicles aims at decarbonizing mobility segment.

Majority states complete harvesting of pulse and potato

  • The harvesting of pulses and Potato has been completed in almost all the States. Agriculture Ministry said, the status of wheat harvesting is also encouraging in the major wheat growing States. 
  • About 99 per cent of wheat crop has been harvested in Madhya Pradesh, 90 per cent in Rajasthan, 78 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, 45 per cent in Haryana, 40 per cent in Punjab and around 84 per cent in other States.
  • While, Harvesting of Rabi onion in the field of small farmer units is almost completed. Harvesting of larger farmers plots is in progress and may extend up to second week of May. 
  • The Ministry said, 100 per cent  harvesting of sugarcane has been completed in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab. About 98 per cent of harvesting of sugarcane is completed in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand whereas about 85 per cent harvesting has been completed in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Ministry assured, it is taking several measures to facilitate the farmers and farming activities at field level during the lockdown period. During Rabi season 2020, the procurement of Pulses and Oilseeds on MSP is currently in progress in twenty States.


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Authorities in Yemen’s southern province reject separatist group’s claim of self-rule

  • In Yemen, authorities in five southern provinces today rejected a separatist group's claim to self-rule. The government said, local and security authorities in the provinces of Hadramawt, Abyan, Shabwa, al-Mahra and the remote island of Socotra dismissed the move as a clear and definite coup.
  • Some of the provinces also issued their own statements condemning it.
  • Earlier, the separatists' Southern Transitional Council, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, scrapped a peace deal with the Saudi-backed government and declared a state of emergency overnight.
  • The separatists had said, they would self-govern the key southern port city of Aden and other southern provinces, accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement.
  • Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis took control of the country's north, including the capital, Sanaa. A Saudi-led military coalition intervened against the rebels on the side of the government the following year.
  • The conflict has killed over 100,000 people and leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.

External affairs ministry holds discussion with foreign counterparts on COVID

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his counterparts from Qatar, the UAE, Niger, Palestine and Czech Republic yesterday and held discussions on the coronavirus infection.
  • In conversation with Qatar Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Dr Jaishankar discussed their experience of dealing with coronavirus infection and also thanked him for taking care of the Indian community. He said such challenging times will only further strengthen friendship between the two nations.
  • The Minister also spoke to United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. Later in a tweet, he said pandemics further highlight the need for international cooperation. He applauded the generosity of spirit and clarity of policy that has characterised UAE's approach towards COVID 19.
  • Dr Jaishankar also spoke to Niger Foreign Minister KallaAnkourao and assured him of India's support in meeting the coronavirus challenge, including medicines.
  • He also discussed the coronavirus situation with Palestine Foreign Minister Riad Al Malki and assured him of Indian medical assistance.
  • He also exchanged experiences on coronavirus response with Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek. The minister said the two leaders agreed that there are valuable lessons for international cooperation.


DST recommends Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Nano-coatings for Disposable Masks

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved support for large scale production oforganic-Inorganic hybrid nanocoatings for disposable masks developed by Dr.Viswanatha R from Jyothy Institute of Technology, Bengaluru under the DST Nano Mission.
  • Given the crisis situation surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic, the demands for protective masks have gone up, and so have their prices. Although there are a variety of masks available in the market, choosing the right one to protect oneself from the transmission of infections is difficult.
  • The N95 masks available in the market are capable of filtering out all types of particles, including viruses and bacteria, but they are expensive and need prior training as standard practice before using it. On the other hand, inexpensive disposable masks have several limitations. They often get wet through salivary droplets, body fluids, and sweat.
  • The wet masks attract the microorganisms and act as a breeding ground for those organisms to multiply in number, due to which the person wearing it gets easily infected. Being disposable, these medical masks, when discarded, generate medical waste.
  • Moreover, the wearer of the mask is prone to touch the surface of the mask frequently to adjust his mask or to scratch the itch. Due to this, the mask gets contaminated. These aspects have created a pressing need for innovative solutions that can mitigate the existing concerns of disposable medical masks.
  • Nanocoatings could address this problem by offering a hydrophobic coating on the surface of the masks, preventing it from wetting, and will disinfect the pathogens that may come in contact with the nanocoated surface.
  • Functionalization of nanoparticles using the sol-gel technology by the researchers will make the nanocoating hydrophobic, which effectively repels water/moisture from the surface of the mask.
  • Further, the addition of a suitable polymer will increase the virucidal properties of the hydrophobic nanocoating. Therefore, by using sol-gel technology, a hybrid organic-inorganic silica-based nanocoating coupled with a proprietary polymer will be developed that will make the masks reusable and non-toxic. The nanocoating will be easily scalable, safe, and economical while being highly effective against the COVID-19.


Online chess event raises over 8 lakh rupees for waste pickers

  • Former World champion ViswanathanAnand and India cricketer YuzvendraChahal among others took part in an online ‘Chess for Charity’ event on Saturday and raised ₹8.8 lakh for the waste pickers’ community fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


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