Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 28 April 2020
PM hints at graded exit from lockdown
- Prime Minister NarendraModi on Monday told Chief Ministers that though the lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak had yielded “positive results” and the country managed to “save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months”, the danger of the virus was far from over and “constant vigilance is of paramount importance”. He was addressing a videoconference with Chief Ministers.
- The signal to the States, many of whom asked for an extension of the lockdown, was clear — that any exit from would be graded, and would take into account case load and virulence.
- According to those present at the meeting, the Prime Minister, after speaking to the Chief Ministers (nine of whom spoke, while several others sent written submissions), was of the opinion that while economic activity is important, it would be undertaken with some reservations, only within districts and with several caveats.
- Odisha asked for an extension till June 3, with time being given to the State governments to bring back migrant workers from their States back to their own.
- Several States have facilitated the return of migrant labourers from their States and even students stuck elsewhere, while Bihar had stuck to the old lockdown policy, which was to tell people to stay where they are.
- Mr.Modi, while emphasising that the restart of economic activity was important, said the fundamentals of the economy continued to be strong.Several reports suggested earlier last week that the process of evacuating the Indians stuck abroad may begin after May 3.
Centre releases SOP for e-Gram Swarajyojana platform
- Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar today issued a detailed guideline of the SVAMITVA Scheme aimed at providing people residing in Rural parts with the right to document their residential properties. He also released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) regarding the e-Gram SwarajYojana platform and mobile App, on this occasion.
- Speaking over SWAMITVA scheme ,Mr.Tomar said , it would help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas and ensuring clarity on property rights. He said , this would also help in resolving property related disputes and would also enable creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans .
- The pilot phase of the scheme will extend to six states namely Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand covering approximately one lakh villages.
- While speaking about e-Gram SwarajYojana ,Mr.Tomar informed that it will ensure that the funds given to the panchayats are not misused and transparency can be established.
CLICK HERE FOR FULL CURRENT AFFAIRS (Only for Course Members)
RBI allows special liquidity facility for mutual funds
- The Reserve Bank of India today announced a Special Liquidity Facility for Mutual Funds (SLF-MF) of 50,000 crore rupees with a view to easing liquidity pressures on Mutual Funds.
- The RBI has stated that it remains vigilant and will take whatever steps are necessary to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and preserve financial stability.
- The Apex bank has said that under the Special Liquidity Facility for Mutual Funds (SLF-MF), the RBI shall conduct repo operations of 90 days tenor at the fixed repo rate.
- The SLF-MF is on-tap and open-ended and banks can submit their bids to avail funding on any day from Monday to Friday (excluding holidays).
- The scheme is available from today till 11th of May or up to utilization of the allocated amount, whichever is earlier. The Reserve Bank will review the timeline and amount, depending upon market conditions.
Cost of doing business to go up amid COVID spread
- As COVID-19 takes its toll on the economy and on human lives, the cost of doing business is set to go up as companies gear up to adhere to new safety and hygiene standards in their daily operations despite likely scaled down business activity and lower earnings.
- For large manufacturers and hotels and restaurants the cost escalation will be in double digits, as companies will be forced to operate at sub-optimal levels due to lack of demand and fewer employees. “There will be impact in terms of cost because manufacturing facilities will run at lower capacity due to intermittent runs,” said SanjivPuri, chairman & managing director, ITC Ltd.
- The company’s hotels business is set to undergo changes in service delivery in confirmity with the new normal.
- “In the hotels business, customers have a lot of concern around safety. We have to think about how to redesign our services and deliver non-contact service, how to maintain social distance norms and how to create many more avenues for check-ins etc,” he said.
- Airlines and airport operators will also have to bear extra costs to take on board fewer passengers, possibly well below existing capacities as well as breakeven levels and deploy more manpower to enforce safety and hygiene norms.
UN says violence has escalated post U.S-Taliban peace deal
- Violence surged in Afghanistan in the weeks after the U.S. and the Taliban signed a deal supposed to pave the way for a peace process, a UN agency said Monday.
- Afghans had enjoyed a period of relative calm ahead of the February 29 accord, but the conflict resumed almost as soon as the deal was signed, and the militant group has since rejected multiple calls for a ceasefire during Ramzan.
- “The report tracks a disturbing increase in violence during March at a time when it was hoped that the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban would commence peace negotiations,” said the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. More than 500 civilians were killed and over 700 injured during the first three months of the year, UNAMA said.
SIPRI report finds India amongst top 3 military spending nations
- The global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019 with India and China emerging among the top three spenders, according to a report by a Swedish think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
- In 2019, the top five largest spenders — U.S. ($732 bn), China, India, Russia ($65.1 bn) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 bn) — accounted for 62% of the global expenditure. The annual report ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019’ was released on Monday.
- While India’s defence spending excluding pensions, which constitute a significant part, has been growing in absolute terms, it has been going down as a percentage of its GDP as noted by the report.
- Stating that India’s expenditure in 2019 was 6.8% more than that in 2018, the report says the country’s military expenditure has risen significantly over the past few decades.
- For instance, the defence allocation in the latest budget for 2020-21 which was ₹3.37 lakh crore, excluding defence pensions, accounts for about 1.5% of the country’s GDP, the lowest in recent times.
- In comparison, Pakistan’s military expenditure rose by 70% over the decade 2010–19, to reach $10.3 billion while the military burden increased from 3.4% of GDP in 2010 to 4% in 2019, says the report. Pakistan was at the 24th position in 2019 compared to 19th in 2018.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Scientists claim that the largest ozone layer hole has closed by itself
- The largest hole ever observed in the ozone layer over the Arctic has closed, says Copernicus' Atmospheric Monitoring Service. Scientists spotted signs in late March of a rare hole forming and it was thought to be the result of low temperatures at the north pole.
- The ozone layer shields the Earth from most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, which is a major cause of skin cancer.The record-breaking hole would only have posed a direct threat to humans if it had of moved further south to populated areas.
- But on Thursday (April 23), Copernicus - the EU's earth monitoring programme - announced the hole had now closed.
- The closing has nothing to do with the reduction in pollution caused by having much of the world on COVID-19 lockdown.
- Instead, it's down to the polar vortex, the high-altitude currents that normally bring cold air to the polar regions. This has split in two giving the Arctic region a relative heatwave, with temperatures up to 20ºC higher than is normal for this time of year.
- "It is very unusual for such a strong ozone depletion to occur in the northern hemisphere, but this year's polar vortex was exceptionally strong and persistent, and temperatures were low enough to allow stratospheric clouds to form for several months," Copernicus scientist Antje Inness told Euronews.
Pakistan cricket board bans player for corruption
- Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal was today banned for three years by the PCB for failing to report corrupt approaches ahead of the country's premier T20 league this year.
- The Pakistan Cricket Board, PCB said, the ban was imposed by its Disciplinary Panel chairman Justice (retired) Fazal-e-MiranChauhan, who held a hearing today.
- The 29-year-old appeared before the panel at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore after not challenging a show cause notice issued to him by the PCB Anti-Corruption for not reporting an alleged offer to spot-fix in the 2020 Pakistan Super League.
CLICK HERE FOR FULL CURRENT AFFAIRS (Only for Course Members)