Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 March 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 31 March 2020

::NATIONAL:: India still in local transmission stage in COVID

  • The total number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus has gone upto 1,251 in the country which includes 49 foreign nationals. Out of the total cases, 101 patients have been cured and discharged from the hospitals while 32 died.
  • Briefing media in New Delhi, Joint Secretary in Health Ministry LavAggarwal said that the cases reported in the last 12 days is much less than the those reported in the developed country. He said, this happened because of the cooperation of people of the country, our collective preemptive action, social distancing and enforcement of lockdown.
  • Mr Aggarwal informed that the government has also constituted empowered groups focussing on issues including medical emergency management and hospital management. He said, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has also decided to create isolation facility at its National Institute of Training and Hostels.
  • He said, Centre is engaged with the States and focussing on setting up dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and strengthening the health infrastructure. He said, out the positive cases reported in the country, 99 per cent patient have recovered. He said, there is no evidence of community transmission in the country and it is at local transmission.


Doordarshan gets ready to entertain lockdown period 

  • Doordarshan is all set to make staying at home more enjoyable for people during the lockdown by bringing its Golden Era shows back on television. The show Chanakya is planned for daily telecast in the afternoon time bands of DD Bharti from 1st week of April.
  • The show Upanishad Ganga is also scheduled for afternoon slots on DD Bharti starting 1st Week of next month. Shaktimaan the famous serial featuring MukeshKhanna is planned for a 1-hour daily telecast on DD National network from April at 1 PM.
  • The show ShrimanShrimati is scheduled for a comeback on DD National from next month in the 2 PM slot while Krishna Kali serial will be telecast daily  at 8:30 PM on DD National.
  • The re-telecast of Ramayan and Mahabharat has already begun. Information and Broadcasting Ministry has said that it is mandatory for all the DTH and Cable operators to show all the DD Channels as well as LokSabha and RajyaSabha Channels as per the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. It said, non carriage of these channels is liable for action under  the Act.
  • In case viewers are not able to see the desired DD Channel they can complain about the same to the Station Head of the nearest Doordarshan Kendra or e-mail at



Finance minister asks banks to work for full hours

  • After being prodded by the Finance Ministry, state-owned banks have directed their branches to ensure that the staff are present in full strength from Tuesday and that the branches remain open for regular business hours in anticipation of the higher footfall this week, especially in rural and semi-urban branches where digital banking facilities are not being availed extensively.
  • Bankers are anticipating a rush in their branches in rural and semi-urban areas as more customers are expected to queue up to withdraw cash after the government transfers ₹500 to Jan Dhan account holders as part of the COVID-19 economic relief package announced by the Centre. In addition, there would be the usual increase in banking activity that typically happens at the beginning of a month due to salary disbursements and pension payments.
  • Bankers said this week could prove to be challenging for the branch staff, especially to ensure compliance with physical distancing norms.
  • Some of the lenders have already withdrawn earlier instructions for rotation of duty on alternate days, effective from March 31. All staff members have been asked to report for duty.
  • Following the nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19, public sector banks were operating on the basis of truncated working hours with limited staffing and had been providing basic banking services.


ADB announces $100m for funding Indian infrastructure sector

  • Multilateral institution Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday announced a 100 million US Dollars funding for the Indian infrastructure sector through the government-promoted National Investment and Infrastructure Fund-NIIF.
  • The Manila-based body will be investing in NIIF, tranche of funds, which will ensure that the actual money invested will be a few times more than the 100 million dollars. 
  • NIIF's Chief Executive Sujoy Bose said that the ADB's commitment to NIIF fund during these extraordinary and challenging times is highly meaningful.
  • Mr Bose said, ADB has been funding Indian private equity funds for over two decades now and added the latest move will help NIIF commit money to private equity fund managers who may be struggling to raise money from overseas sources. 


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Germany and U.K to hire flights to evacuate their citizens

  • Germany and the United Kingdom have approached the Indian government to charter Air India flights for the return of their nationals stranded in India following travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, several government officials said.
  • Following the requests, between March 31 and April 3, Air India will operate nine flights to Frankfurt with its 256-seater Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. These special flights come even as India has banned all commercial flights until April 14.
  • On March 31, four flights will leave from Mumbai and one from New Delhi. Over the next three days, there will be four flights from Mumbai.
  • Air India is scheduled to first evacuate German nationals from different parts of the country, including Goa, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Thiruvananthapuram and bring them to Delhi or Mumbai before the flight to Frankfurt.
  • Officials also said there was a request to operate charters to London to enable U.K. citizens in India to return to their homes. A British High Commission spokesperson said, “The Foreign Secretary has spoken with the Indian External Affairs Minister and we are working urgently on a plan to get our people back.”


India decides to temporarily close consulates in Afghanistan

  • Thirty-one Indian nationals, including 26 security force personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and four diplomats from the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, returned here from Afghanistan on Monday, after the government decided to temporarily close its consulates in Jalalabad and Herat over COVID-19 fears and growing security threats.
  • All the personnel, who were brought in on a special Kam airlines flight from Kabul organised by the Afghanistan Embassy to fly out Afghan nationals, were taken directly to the ITBP special facility in Chhawla for 14 days of quarantine, the ITBP spokesperson said. 
  • Another group of External Affairs Ministry and ITBP personnel from the consulate in Herat, near the Iranian border, are expected to return on Thursday. As The Hindu reported on Monday, operations at the consulate, which will be serviced by local personnel, are being suspended and will be resumed only after a detailed assessment, given the deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan.
  • In the past few days, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Cabinet Minister HarsimratKaurBadal have called for the government to relocate Sikhs from Afghanistan, given the worsening security situation. 
  • In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Afghanistan’s Charge D’affairesTahirQadiry said that while his government understood the concerns, Sikhs and Hindus remained an “integral part” of Afghan society, and added that President Ashraf Ghani was “personally monitoring” investigations.



Indian scientists develop new negative ion generator

  • A new technology has been adopted by the Maharashtra hospitals in the fight of COVID-19 fight.The product developed is a Negative Ion Generator. It has been named “ScitechAiron”. It helps to control bacteria, virus and fungal infections.
  • The product disinfects areas that were exposed to infections thereby it ensures well being of doctors, nurses and staffs in the hospital. The productis highly useful in quarantine facilities. The Department of Science and Technology has released Rs 1 crore to manufacture the product in a larger scale.
  • The technology was developed under “NIDHI PRAYAS” programme of Department of Science and Technology.TheScitechAiron machine creates negatively charged ions. These ions form clusters around viruses, bacteria and other airborne molds.
  • They then render them inactive through chemical reactions by creating Hydroxyl radicals (OH) groups.Apart from pathogens, the machine also decomposes harmful pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, etc.
  • There is lack of support in the early stages of prototyping in the country.This causes many innovators to lose interest in the early stages.PRAYAS is Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring technology entrepreneurs.It is one of the 9 programmes launched to turn the ideas of young innovators into proof of concepts.


ITTF suspends all events till June last

  • The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has suspended all planned events till June 30 and froze the world rankings due to the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The ITTF Executive Committee met yesterday to discuss the effects of the Corona virus outbreak on the international table tennis events schedule.
  • The ITTF said in a statement that due to the continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19 pandemic and postponement of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games, the Executive Committee decided to suspend all currently planned ITTF events and activities that involve international travel until 30th of June.


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