Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 April 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 29 April 2020


Centre plans massive evacuation from gulf countries

  • The Union government is drawing up a major evacuation plan involving the Navy, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Air India to bring back Indians stranded in West Asia following the nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions due to COVID-19, multiple defence sources said.
  • Defence sources confirmed that Navy and IAF had been asked to work out the modalities from their end and accordingly preparations were on. “An exercise of aircraft availability was done to have a picture about capability, turn around time, sortie generation possibility and so on,” a second source said, adding there was no tasking yet.
  • The IAF has a fleet of US origin C-130 Hercules medium transporters and C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircraft, in addition to older Russian IL-76 aircraft, which have been playing a major role in recent Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts. 
  • Naval ships need enough time to sail from their home ports with requisite preparations to handle civilians. “The nation lockdown ends on May 3. So there is reaction time and there is also lot of administrative and logistical issues to be worked out,” another defence source said on this.
  • There are more than eight million Indians who live and work in the Gulf region and with plummeting oil prices there have been concerns of massive job losses.

Government to provide mid-day meals to students during summer vacation

  • Government has announced around 11 per cent increase in annual central allocation of cooking cost under Mid-day meal scheme to eight thousand 100 crore rupees in view of situation arising out of COVID-19. 
  • Human Resources and Development Minister Ramesh PokhriyalNishank announced this while interacting with Education Ministers and Education Secretaries of all States through video conference in New Delhi.
  • AIR Correspondent reports that earlier, the annual central allocation of cooking cost for procurement of pulses, vegetable, oil, spices and fuel under Mid Day Meal Scheme was seven thousand 300 crore rupees.
  • Considering the health of the students, during the lockdown, ration is being provided under mid-day meal for the children to get adequate and nutritious food. The mid-day meal Scheme, is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme, aimed at increasing enrolment, retention and attendance of students in schools.



Government claimsrecord fertilizer sales during lockdown period

  • Government has said that record sales of Fertilizers took place during lockdown period. During 1st to 22nd of April sale of fertilizers to farmers community was over 10 lakh tonnes which is 32 percent higher than the last year of sale during the same period. 
  • Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister DV SadanandaGowda has said, his Ministry is committed to ensure availability of fertilizers to the farmer community before sowing time.
  • With the concerted efforts of Department of Fertilizers, Railways, States and Ports production and supply of fertilizers in the country is going on without hindrance. During 1st April to 22nd April dealers purchased over 15 lakh tonnes fertilizers which is 46 percent higher than last year of sale during the same period.
  • The Ministry said, there is no problem of Fertilizers and State Government have sufficient stock of the Fertilizers. As loading and unloading of fertilizers are in full swing at fertilizer plants, railway stations and ports, physical distancing practices are maintained, masks and all other preventive equipments are provided to labours and all other working staff.

Transport ministry asks states to release funds earmarked for land acquisition

  • Union road transport and highways ministerNitinGadkari on Tuesday asked state governments to release Rs 25,000 crore earmarked for land acquisition to inject liquidity into the markets and speed up highway projects in the country.
  • States, including Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, have pending dues of over Rs 4,500 crore each that needs to be disbursed, officials aware of the matter told. Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan also have close to Rs 2,000 crore lying unutilised.
  • The minister asked them to take urgent action so that blockades of trucks and lorries at inter-state borders are cleared at the earliest possible to ensure smooth movement of essential goods to various parts of the country, the transport ministry said in a statement.
  • A presentation was made showing the works being carried out during the lockdown period, the statement said. It was stated that 1,315 projects covering 49,238 kms worth Rs 5,89,648crore were under progress. Of these, 819 projects covering 30,301 kms costing about Rs 3,06,250crore were delayed.

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USCIRF downgrades India to lowest ranking

  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report.
  • The report, released in Washington by the federal government commission that functions as an advisory body, placed India alongside countries, including China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. 
  • India was categorised as a “Tier 2 country” in last year’s listing. This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in this category.The Centre reacted sharply to the USCIRF report on Tuesday, terming it “biased and tendentious” and rejected its observations.
  • The commission also recommended that the U.S. government take stringent action against India under the “International Religious Freedom Act” (IRFA).
  • The USCIRF 2020 report makes a specific mention of Home Minister Amit Shah, for not taking what it deemed as sufficient action to stop cases of mob lynching in the country, and for referring to migrants as “termites”.
  • In December 2019, the USCIRF had also asked the U.S. government to consider sanctions against Mr. Shah and “other principal leadership” over the decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Lockdown halts immunisation in South Asia,faces health crisis

  • South Asia could face a further public health crisis as children miss routine vaccinations, the UN warned on Tuesday, spurring fears that the fallout from the pandemic might reverse hard-earned gains in the region.
  • The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said hundreds of thousands were at risk as lockdowns across South Asia halted immunisation drives and parents refrained from taking their children to doctors to be inoculated.
  • Bangladesh and Nepal have halted their measles and rubella campaigns while Pakistan and Afghanistan have suspended their polio drives since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • UNICEF noted that “sporadic” outbreaks of preventable diseases that can be cured with vaccines, including the measles and diphtheria, have emerged in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.
  • It added that as long as health workers take hygiene precautions, there was no reason for vaccinations not to continue.The agency estimated that 4.5 million of South Asia’s children had already missed out on routine immunisations, even before the pandemic struck.



India becomes part of the animal diseases detective programme in Asia-Pacific region

  • India is on the radar of a consortium of veterinary scientists formed to train a new generation of ‘animal disease detectives’ in the Asia-Pacific region amid the coronavirus crisis.
  • The $4.3 million programme currently involves 11 countries in the region — Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Vietnam.The three-year programme is funded by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • “The coronavirus outbreak has underlined how urgent this work is. The majority of emerging infectious diseases, such as coronaviruses, are zoonotic: they spread from animals to humans,” added Mr.Dhand, who heads the consortium of more than 40 experts from veterinary schools across Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific.
  • Researchers, however, said that while this coronavirus has its origins in animal transfer, there is no evidence the virus can be contracted from pets or other animals.
  • The ‘detective’ model will see the consortium engaging with government animal health authorities and educators in the Asia-Pacific region for strengthening the capacity to detect, respond, control and prevent animal disease outbreaks.


BFI loses world boxing championships 2021 hosting rights 

  • India lost the hosting rights of the 2021 men’s boxing World Championship to Serbia after the International Boxing association (AIBA) alleged non-payment of host fee by the National federation.
  • Boxing Federation of India (BFI) blamed it on “procedural complications” arising out of AIBA’s failure to resolve “issues” with regards to the account to which the money was to be transferred. The payment was due on Dec. 1 last year.


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