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Current Affairs 2020

The value of Current Affairs in Civil Service Examinations is enormous. This is the most critical part of both Prelims and Mains Exam. Aspirants should study in depth to understand the significance of current affairs for the Union Public Service Commission. In fact, all the questions in Civil Service Exams are framed around current affairs. Questions are not asked directly for current news and information in the exam. Questions are framed by combining current affairs with practical knowledge. The primary motive behind this type of strategy is to check the ability of correlation a candidate can make to the fact.

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Why current affairs is more important in Civil Service Exam?

Success in Prelims and Mains Exam is directly related to an aspirant’s awareness in current affairs. Preparation of current affairs for UPSC is the key to unlock the exam. It requires practice and revision in a well-connected manner... In such a scenario the preparation of current affairs topics related to India and the world is an important part of your preparations. The students have to be aware of the happening in India and around the world as this portion is an integral part of the general studies paper.

In order to make you ready for the challenges of the Current Affairs preparation, we are covering the current affairs topics on a regular basis. Our current topics are categorised in such a way that it includes; political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, government's scheme and policies and international affairs.

We provide you comprehensive topics of preparation that covers not only India's current scenario but also international events. We also cover Indian news headlines and other important international events under the current affairs segment.

For the very purpose of getting you ready for the challenge that is current news and views in India, we are covering the current affairs 2020 on a regular basis. Our hot topics are categorised such that they include political affairs, current news, science news, general knowledge, current government affairs and international affairs. Only studying India's current scenario or political affairs is not sufficient as you have to cover international events and affairs along with the Indian news space, as well as important and current events in the field of science and sports.


Current Affairs May 17 to May 23

Arts

MNRE: It refers to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. MNRE is a ministry of the Government of India (GoI). It is mainly responsible for research and development, intellectual property protection, and international cooperation, promotion, and coordination in renewable energy sources such as wind power, small hydro, biogas, and solar power. It was founded in 1992. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Minister currently responsible for MNRE is Raj Kumar Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) and the current secretary of the ministry is Anand Kumar.

Recently, GoI launched a scheme for 100 % solarisation of Konark sun temple and Konark town in Odisha. This task has been taken up by the  Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) will be responsible for implementation of this project.

Under this scheme, a  10 MW grid connected solar project and various solar off-grid applications like solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks, off-grid solar power plants with battery storage etc will be set up. There will be 100% Central Financial Assistance (CFA) support of around Rs. 25 Crores from GoI through MNRE. The scheme aims to meet all the energy requirements of Konark town with solar energy.

Books and Authors: A new book titled ‘Hop On: My Adventures on Boats, Trains and Planes’ by Ruskin Bod was released on his 86th Birthday in an e-book format. The book narrates some of his memorable travel adventures on boats, trains and planes from his childhood. The book presents its readers with a number of the author’s hilarious journeys and travel adventures. The illustrations for Ruskin Bond’s new book have been done by Samrat Halder.

Ruskin Bond: Ruskin Bond is an Indian author of British descent. He was born on 19 May 1934 in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh. He did his schooling from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, from where he graduated in 1950. He wrote one of his first short stories, "Untouchable", at the age of sixteen in 1951. He has been recognised his role in the growth of children's literature in India by the Indian Council for Child Education. He was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, his novel in English. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.

Economics

RBI: It stands for the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI is India's central bank, which controls the issue and supply of the Indian rupee. It carries out India's monetary policy and exercises supervision and control over banks and non-banking finance companies in India. RBI was set up in 1935 under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. It is headquartered in Mumbai. RBI plays an important part in the Development Strategy of the Government of India. The current Governor of RBI is Shaktikanta Das.

Recently, RBI announced another 9 additional measures for strengthening the Economy in the uncertain times ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic. The earlier sets of measures were announced by RBI on 17 April 2020.

The recent 9 list of measures announced by RBI are:

1. Repo rate reduced by 40 basis points from 4.4% to 4.0%. The reverse repo rate has been reduced        3.75% to 3.35%. The Marginal Standing Facility rate and the Bank rate have been reduced from 4.65% to 4.25%

2. Measures to ease financial constraints faced by State Governments by allowing the states to borrow more from Consolidated Sinking Fund which is being maintained by state governments as a buffer for repayment of their liabilities.

3. Refinance Facility to SIDBI extended for another 90 days. The RBI on 17 April 2020, had announced a special refinance facility of ₹15,000 crore to SIDBI at RBI’s policy repo rate for a period of 90 days. This facility has now been extended by another 90 days.

4. There is Relaxation of Rules under Voluntary Retention Route (VRR), an investment window provided by RBI to Foreign Portfolio Investors, which provides easier rules in return for a commitment to make higher investments.

5. A line of credit of ₹15,000 crore will be given to the EXIM Bank, for financing India’s foreign trade. The loan facility has been given for a period of 90 days, with a provision to extend it by one year.

6. The maximum credit which banks can extend to a particular corporate group has been increased from 25% to 30% of the bank’s eligible capital base.

7. The time period for import payments against normal imports into India has been extended from 6 months to 12 months from the date of shipment.

8. Exporters can now Avail Bank Loans for Higher Period as the maximum permissible period of pre-shipment and post-shipment export credit sanctioned by banks to exporters has been increased from the existing one year to fifteen months, for disbursements made up to 31 July 2020.

9. Lending institutions have been allowed to convert the accumulated interest on working capital facilities over the total deferment period of 6 months into a funded interest term loan, to be fully repaid during the course of the current financial year, ending March 31, 2021.

Renewable Energy Business: Recently, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC Ltd.) have signed a MoU to set up a Joint Venture Company for Renewable Energy business.

As per the MoU, ONGC and NTPC will explore the setting up of offshore wind and other Renewable Energy Projects in India and overseas. They shall also explore opportunities in the fields of sustainability, storage, E-mobility and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) compliant projects. The MoU will enable both companies to accelerate their footprint in Renewable Energy.

NTPC Limited: It refers to National Thermal Power Corporation Limited. NTPC Ltd. is an Indian Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Power, engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities. It is a company founded in 1975 which was incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 and is promoted by the Government of India. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The main purpose of NTPC is electricity generation and distribution natural gas exploration, production, transportation and distribution. The current Chairman and MD of NTPC Ltd: is Gurdeep Singh.

ONGC: It refers to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited. ONGC is a state-owned enterprise of the Government of India, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It is an Indian Multinational Crude Oil and Gas Corporation. It was ranked as the largest profit making PSU in India. It is ranked 7th among the Top 250 Global Energy Companies by Platts. ONGC was founded on 14 August 1956 by Government of India (GoI). It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current CEO of ONGC is Shashi Shanker. 

Defence

GoI: It refers to the Government of India. GoI, recently implemented the recommendations made by the Shekatkar Committee of Experts (CoE) headed by the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to border infrasturcture. These were related to speeding up road construction, leading to socio economic development in the border areas. GoI based on the recommendation of the committee are has implemented to outsource road construction work beyond the optimal capacity of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). GoI has made mandatory to adopt Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) mode for execution of all works costing more than Rs 100 crore.

The other recommendations that were implemented are as follows:-

1. GoI has decided to introduce modern construction equipment, plants, and machinery that have been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs.7.5 crore to Rs.100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.

2. New Technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction.

3. The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR).

The other recommendations made by the committee are as follows:-

1. The committee recommended closure of military farms in peace regions

2. The recruitment standard for the drivers in the army and clerical staff was enhanced. Also, the committee recommended reorganization of Army Headquarters.

3. The number of officers in the army headquarters to be reduced by 200.

Shekatkar Committee: The Shekatkar Committee was formed in 2018. The 11-member Shekatkar Committee was appointed by the late Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016 under chairmanship of Lt General DB Shekatkar. The committee was established with a mandate for Enhancing Combat Capability and Rebalancing Defence Expenditure of the Armed forces for better teeth-to-tail ratio. Shekatkar Committee had made recommendations on enhancing the combat potential of India’s three armed forces, rationalizing the defence budget etc.

The committee submitted its report on December 21, 2016. It had apparently exceeded its brief with some 200 recommendations.

A major recommendation is that the defence budget should be 2.5% to 3% of the GDP.

Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, commands the navy. It was founded in 5 September 1612. The current Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) is Karambir singh. Indian Navy day is celebrated on the 4th of December every year.

Recently, Landing Craft Utility Ship ‘INLCU L57’ was commissioned into Indian Navy in Port Blair. This warship has been built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE). The “INLCU L57” is the seventh LCU Mark IV class warship.

The primary role of the warship is transportation and deployment of main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, troops and equipment from ship to shore. The first ship of the Mark IV LCU Vessels INLCU L51 was commissioned into Indian Navy in March 2017.

V. Admiral G.M. Hiranandani Memorial Rolling Trophy: This trophy was instituted in 2013 for the officer performing best in tactics during the year-long warfare specialisation course. The trophy was started in memory of late flag officer GM Hiranandani. Who was a commissioned officer of the commanding-in-chief of the Navy, Southern Naval Command from 1985 to 1987, and retired as Chief of the Navy in 1989.

 Recently, the Vice Admiral G.M. Hiranandani Memorial Rolling Trophy for the year 2020 has been awarded to Lieutenant Commander Akshay Kumar. He was awarded by Vice Admiral A.K. Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-chief (FOC-in-C) of the SNC at the award ceremony that was held at the Maritime Warfare Centre, Kochi, Kerala. Lieutenant Commander Akshay Kumar is commissioned in Anti-Submarine Warfare School of the Southern Naval Command (SNC) in Kochi.

Book prizes were awarded by the Commander-in-chief to commissioned naval officer Anshu Bhau for standing second and to commissioned naval officer Kuldeep Tyagi for the third position. Lieutenant Commander Mohit Kumar was also commended for performing exceeding well within the oral board like a Viva. On the Occasion, A.K. Chawla also emphasised the role of specialist officers stumped & the necessity for officers to be excellent professionals.

Vice Admiral Hiranandani: Vice Admiral Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani, PVSM, AVSM, NM, PhD (29 June 1931 – 1 September 2009) was a senior Indian Navy officer. He served as the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff from 1987 to 1989. Prior to that, he served as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command. He was the Commissioning Commanding Officer of the INS Rajput (D51), the lead vessel of the Rajput class destroyers. He was awarded the Nausena Medal for gallantry during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. He was also the author of 3 volumes of the Official History of the Indian Navy from 1965 to 2000- Transition to Triumph (1965-1975), Transition to Eminence (1976-1990) and Transition to Guardianship (1991-2000).

MoD: It refers to the Ministry of Defence. It was created in 1776 which is 244 years ago as Military Department by the British East India Company at Kolkata but in 15 August 1947, the Department of Defence became the Ministry of Defence under a cabinet minister. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the Indian armed forces. The President of India is the ceremonial commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the country. The responsibility for national defence rests with the Cabinet. The function of MoD is to provide policy framework and resources to the armed forces to discharge their responsibility in the context of the defence of the country. The Indian Armed Forces (including Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy) and Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defences are primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the nation. The current Defence Minister is Rajnath Singh.

Recently, the Defence Ministry has approved procurement of 26 defence items only from local suppliers to boost 'Make in India' initiative. This was done through the amendment of Public Procurement Order 2017.

Under this order, Department of Defence Production (DDP), has so far notified 127 items where purchase preference is given to local suppliers as per PPP-MII 2017. In order to further encourage procurement from local suppliers, 26 items out of 127 already notified, have now been notified under clause 3(a) of the Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order 2017.

Therefore, procuring entities shall procure these items only from local suppliers, irrespective of purchase value, provided that the local suppliers meet the Minimum Local Content (MLC) as prescribed for each item. Some of the items are oil pumps (50% of MLC), doors (60%), high temperature Gasket (50%), etc.

Public Procurement Order: The Public Procurement Order was issued in 2017 to encourage Make in India and to promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India.

 

Environment

Cyclone Amphan: The first tropical cyclone of the 2020 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Amphan originated from a low-pressure area persisting a couple hundred miles (300 km) east of Colombo, Sri Lanka. It intensified into a super cyclone with wind speed above 200 kmph moved further North-Northeastwards over West Central Bay.

The eastern Indian city of Kolkata has been devastated by this powerful cyclone. It has killed at least 84 people across India and Bangladesh. Thousands of trees were uprooted in the gales, electricity and telephone lines brought down and houses flattened.

Amphan is the first super cyclone to hit the region in the last two decades since a super cyclone Fani hit Odisha in 1999 causing widespread damage and loss of life.

Solar Minimum: The sun is said to have gone into a state called the 'solar minimum' and is about to enter the deepest period of 'sunshine recession' as sunspots are virtually not visibly at all. At Solar Minimum, the ultraviolet radiation decreases but its effect can be primarily observed at the stratosphere and the higher altitudes. It causes the Earth’s atmosphere to shrink slightly which reduces the drag on satellite. This is because Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years, and right now we are at the peak of that cycle. The Solar Cycle is also called the Solar Magnetic Activity Cycle. It was first observed by Galileo Galilei in the early 17th century.

Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm called the solar minimum. And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle. As per the reports of the space authorities, it has been almost 100 days this year when the sun has shown zero sunspots. While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form. For instance, during solar minimum we can see the development of long-lived coronal holes.

According to NASA the sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from these cosmic rays during a solar minimum which will directly increase the threat to astronauts travelling through space which may cause health risks to them.

Western Ghats: The Western Ghats are the mountainous faulted and eroded edge of the Deccan Plateau. Geologic evidence indicates that they were formed during the break-up of the supercontinent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago. The Western Ghats, also known as Sahyadri, are a mountain range that covers an area of 140,000 square kilometres in a stretch of 1,600 kilometres parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula, traversing the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The highest point in the Western Ghats is Anamudi. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world.

 

Recently, the Union Minister of Environment Prakash Javedkar interacted with Chief Ministers & State Government Officers of six states viz, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu via video confrencing. The meeting was held to discuss issues relating to notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) pertaining to Western Ghats.

Earlier, the Government of India (GoI) had constituted a High Level Working Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Kasturirangan to protect the bio diversity of Western Ghats while allowing for sustainable development of the region.

The Committee had recommended that identified geographical areas falling in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Tamil Nadu may be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas.

 

Based on the report submitted by the committee, a draft notification was issued in October 2018 mentioning the areas to be notified in the ESA.

The State Governments have expressed their interests in expediting early notification of ESA and they were unanimous in ensuring the protection of Western Ghats.

ESA: It means ecologically sensitive Area. When an area is declared ESA, it means that restrictions are put on mining, thermal plants, quarrying, construction and setting up of industries.

International Day for Biological Diversity: This day is observed across the world on 22 May every year. It is observed with an aim to raise awareness about the conservation of biodiversity. The day was proclaimed with an aim to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act.

Recently, the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020 was celebrated on 22 May 2020. The  theme for 2020 is "Our solutions are in nature."

CBD: It refers to the Convention on Biological Diversity. CBD is the international legal instrument for "the conservation of biological diversity" that has been ratified by 196 nations. Given the significance of awareness for the implementation of the Convention, the General Assembly proclaimed 22 May, the date of the adoption of its text, as the International Day for Biological Diversity by its resolution in 2000.

India: On the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020, Union Minister of Environment launched five key initiatives towards conservation of biodiversity. The initiatives are:

1. Biodiversity Samrakshan Internship Programme which is an initiative of National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It aims at engaging 20 students in post graduate programme for a period of 1 year. The programme will engage creative students that are willing to learn about biodiversity conservation and natural resource management.

 

2. Not all Animals Migrate by Choice campaign which is on Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Species: ‘Not all Animals Migrate by Choice’ was launched by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, with UNEP. Illegal trade in wildlife poses a high risk of spreading dangerous pandemics. It seeks to address these environmental challenges, to raise awareness, and to advocate solutions.

3. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau campaign called Not All Animals Migrate by Choice was launched.

4. A Webinar series on “Biodiversity Conservation and Biological Diversity Act, 2002” was launched.

5. The World Wildlife Fund Model Conference of Parties which includes younger generation was launched. This initiative seeks to engage them towards imprint of humanity towards biodiversity.

The year 2020 is also the “SUPER YEAR FOR BIODIVERSITY”. The United Nations had framed 20 global actions to be implemented between 2010 and 2020. This is called Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. 

Indian Policy

IMD: It refers to India Meteorological Department. IMD is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India (GoI). It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It was founded in 1875 and is headquartered in New Delhi. It functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Recently, IMD has added its weather services to Umang app namely, the IMD cyclone warnings, weather forecast, rainfall information, tourism related updates, among other services, provided by the Met Department.

UMANG App: It refers to the Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance App. UMANG app is a Government of India all-in-one single, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app, powered by a robust back-end platform providing access to high impact services of various organization (Central and State). It was launched in 2017 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

About 660 services from 127 department and 25 states, including utility payments, are available on the app and more are in pipeline.

Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. It is led by the Prime Minister. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. The prime minister and ministers of the rank of cabinet minister can only be the members of the Union Cabinet in accordance with Article 75.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to launch a new Special Liquidity Scheme for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs). The scheme aims to improve liquidity position of the NBFCs/HFCs.

As per the scheme, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up by a large public bank to manage a Stressed Asset Fund (SAF) whose special securities would be guaranteed by the Government of India and purchased by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) only.

The function of the SPV will be to proceed with the sale of such securities to acquire short-term debt of NBFCs/HFCs. The SPV will issue securities as required, subject to the total amount of securities outstanding with a maximum limit of Rs 30,000 crore. The securities issued by the SPV which would be purchased by RBI would be used only by the SPV to acquire the debt of at least investment grade of short duration (residual maturity of upto 3 months) of eligible NBFCs / HFCs. This new special liquidity scheme will work under the administration control of Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance and Government of India (GoI).

NBFC: It refers to a Non-Banking Financial Company. NBFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956. It is engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares, bonds, stocks, debentures and securities which are issued by Government or local authority.

 HFC: It refers to a Housing Finance Company. HFC is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956) which primarily transacts or has as one of its principal objects, the transacting of the business of providing finance for housing, whether directly or indirectly.

PMVVY: It refers to the Pradhan Manri Vaya Vandana Yojana. PMVVY is a social security pension scheme for senior citizens of India aged 60 years and above. The scheme is intended to give an assured minimum pension to them based on an assured return on the purchase price / subscription amount.

Union Cabinet has approved extension of Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) up to 31st March, 2023 for further period of three years beyond 31st March, 2020 to enable old age income security for Senior Citizens. The scheme was available from 4th May, 2017 to 31st March, 2020.

This scheme is offered by Life insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. LIC gives a guaranteed payout of pension at a specified rate for 10 years. It also offers a death benefit in the form of return of purchase price to the nominee. Any senior citizen who have lump sum money in their bank account, and then they can consider buying this immediate annuity scheme till March 31, 2023.

Indian polity

SARFAESI Act: It refers to the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 of the Indian law. The Act allows banks and other financial institution to auction residential or commercial properties to recover loans. It provides 3 alternative methods for recovery of non-performing assets. They are:-

1. Securitization

2. Asset Reconstruction

3. Enforcement of Security without the intervention of the Court

It was enacted by the Parliament of India on 17 December 2002 and commenced on 21 June 2002. The first asset reconstruction company (ARC) of India, ARCIL, was established under this act.

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) of India ruled that all co-operative banks in the country could make use of the SARFAESI Act of 2002 to make recovery against defaulting persons.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra held that all such cooperative banks involved in the activities related to banking are covered within the meaning of 'Banking Company' under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, hence, the cooperative banks cannot carry on any activity without compliance of the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and any other legislation applicable to such banks relatable to banking.”

In the past, an amendment in Banking Regulation Act of 1949, to include cooperative societies as financial institutions were declared as null and void by the Gujarat High Court in 2013 while the Delhi High Court, on the other hand, had ruled that the cooperative banks and societies were banks and financial institutions for all purposes and thus were allowed to use SARFAESI to make recoveries against the defaulters. There have been calls too, to notify non-scheduled urban cooperative banks as ‘financial institutions’ so they could make use of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) to recover money.

Lok Sabha: The Lok Sabha, or House of the People, is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament, with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha. Members of the Lok Sabha are elected by adult universal suffrage. Under the constitution of 1950, its members are directly elected for a term of 5 years by territorial constituencies in the states. The maximum strength of the House allotted by the Constitution of India is 550. Currently, the house has 543 seats which are made up by the election of up to 543 elected members and at a maximum. Two additional members were appointed by the president to represent the Anglo-Indian community but was abolished in January 2020 by the 104th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019.

Recently, Lok Sabha passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which aims to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 along with Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015. According to the amendment of this, commercial mining will completely be open up in the coal sector and it also intends to remove end-use restrictions to participate in coal mine auction.

International

Hanko: The Hanko is a personal stamp of Japan. It is equivalent to a signature in other countries, and is an essential part of several transactions. It is small-sized and circular or square-shaped and is generally made of wood or plasic. The stamp is wet by an ink pad called ‘shuniku’, and the mark that it leaves on a document is called ‘inkan’. Hanko stamping is essential in Japan for several transactions. They are mandatory in bank documents, government authorization and even in several day to day activities. The use of Hanko is a two millennium old tradition. Hanko stamp is still used in Japan.

Recently, Hanko tradition has come under fierce critisism due to the rise in number of COVID 19 cases in the country. This is because, even though Japan is adopting work from home culture aggressively in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but the extensive and almost unavoidable use of the ‘Hanko’ for authorizing official documents ranging from contracts, marriage registrations and even delivery slips is forcing the employees to go to the office premises for security reasons. So the industry leaders demanding that the tradition be abandoned.

WHA: It refers to the World Health Assembly. WHA is the forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world's highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states. It was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The members of the WHA generally meet every year in May in Geneva at the Palace of Nations. The Assembly is governed by Rules of Procedure of the World Health Assembly. The agenda items are set by the General Committee of the Assembly which is a group of 25 individuals that includes the President and subcommittee chairs, and a number of delegates elected by the Assembly previous. The main functions of the WHA are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

Recently, the Union Minister of Health Dr. Harsh Vardhan participated in the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) amid the COVID-19 crisis. The meeting was held through Video Conference. At the assembly India along with more than 100 countries unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the European Union to conduct an independent probe of WHO's COVID-19 response. The pandemic has claimed more than 3 lakh lives globally so far.

Lesotho: Lesotho is a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa. It was previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland, but it declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. The country was formerly known as Basutoland but was renamed to the Kingdom of Lesotho after its independence. It is now a democratic, sovereign and independent country. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Union, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  Maseru is the capital city of Lisotho. The currency used her is  Lesotho loti.

Recently, the Prime Minister of Lisotho Thomas Thabane formally resigned from the post. He faced pressure to quit over case in which he and wife are suspected of involvement in 2017 murder of previous wife.

The Finance Minister of Lisotho Moeketsi Majoro has been named as the interim PM of the country by the parliament.

USA: It refers to the United States of America. USA commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America is a country consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. The 50 states covers a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. The capital of US is Washington, D.C. The current President of US is Donald Trump.

Recently, the President of United States of America Donald Trump announced that USA will withdraw from Open Skies treaty which allows member countries to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over 35 participating states. The US officials said that the country was withdrawing due to repeated Russian violations of its terms. This is the 3rd international arms pact from wich President Donald Trump has withdrawn from. The previously two treaties from which the US withdrew itself are 2015 nuclear agreement to prevent Iran from conducting its nuclear activities and the 1988 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

The Open Skies Treaty: The Open Skies Treaty came into force on 1 January 2002 and and currently has 35 signatories including Russia, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. It allows for unarmed short-notice reconnaissance flights by specially equipped aircraft, over the entire territory of another country to collect data on troop deployments, military facilities and so on. The Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others' entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. The treaty was signed as an initiative of U.S. president (and former Central Intelligence Agency Director) George H. W. Bush in 1989. Negotiated by the then-members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the agreement was signed in Helsinki, Finland, on 24 March 1992. However, this treaty is not related to civil-aviation open skies agreements.

ITD: It refers to the International Tea Day. ITD is observed annually on May 21 to create awareness about the significance of tea around the world, in terms of economy and culture. The concerning resolution was adopted on December 21, 2019 and calls on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to lead the observance of the Day. Earlier, this day was celebrated on December 15 Every Year but on the recommendation of India ITD is celebrated on 21 May. The Day aims to raise awareness of the long history and the deep cultural and economic significance of tea around the world. The main objective of celebrating this day is not only to boost its production and consumption but also help in fighting hunger and poverty in rural areas.

Tea: Tea is a beverage made from the Camellia sinesis plant. It is the world’s most consumed drink, after water. The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5,000 years ago. According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some. It is believed that tea originated in northeast India, north Myanmar and southwest China, but the exact place where the plant first grew is not known. Tea in Southwest China during the Shang dynasty was used as a medicinal drink.

National

Union Cabinet: The Union Council of Ministers exercises executive authority in the Republic of India. It consists of senior ministers, called 'cabinet ministers', junior ministers called 'ministers of state' and, rarely, deputy ministers. It is led by the Prime Minister. A smaller executive body called the Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India. The prime minister and ministers of the rank of cabinet minister can only be the members of the Union Cabinet in accordance with Article 75.

Recently, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narender Modi approved of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) scheme. PMMSY scheme aims to bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India. It will be implemented under two components namely, Central Sector Scheme (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS). The total investment is more than Twenty thousand crore comprising of the Central government share of Rs.9,407 crore, State government share of Rs.4,880 crore, and Beneficiaries' share of Rs.5,763 crore.The Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25 It is established under the Department of Fisheries.

The scheme seeks to address the critical gaps in the fisheries sector and realize its potential. The main objective of the scheme is to help in doubling of incomes of fish farmers and fish workers by 2024 and helping in creating direct employment opportunities to about 15 lakh fishers, fish farmers, fish vendors and other rural as well as urban populations in fishing. This will not only give a boost to investments in the fisheries sector and increase of competitiveness of fish and fisheries products but also will improve the availability of certified quality fish seed and feed, traceability in fish and effective aquatic health management.

GFR: It refers to the General Financial Rules. GRFs are a compilation of rules and orders of Government of India (GoI) to be followed by all while dealing with matters involving public finances. These rules and orders are treated as executive instructions to be observed by all Departments and Organisations under the Government and specified Bodies except otherwise provided for in these Rules. It lays down the general rules and detailed instructions relating to the procurement of goods. It was issued for the first time in 1947. It brought all existing orders and instructions pertaining to financial matters together in one place. They are modified & issued as GFRs 1963, GFRs 2005 & GFRs 2017.

Recently, the Government notified amendments to GFR 2017. The amendments were notified to ensure that goods and services valued less than 200 crore rupees are being procured from domestic firms. The amendments to the GFR 2017 states that the global tenders will be banned for government procurement upto 200 crores as announced in the AatmanirbharBharat Package. This move seeks to boost domestic suppliers, particularly Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

COIR GEO TEXTILES: Coir geo-textiles are hard and strong and blend well with soil. It is a 100% natural fiber. It is made from a renewable source which is the coconut husk. It is s permeable fabric which is naturally resistant to rot, molds and moisture and needs no chemical treatment. As it is hard and strong, it can be spun and woven into matting.

Recently, the Coir geo-textiles have finally been accepted as a good material for rural road construction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana III  (PMGSY III). According to a communication from the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency under Union Ministry of Rural Development Coir geo-textiles will be used for the construction of rural roads. The decision of the Union government to use coir geotextiles in the construction of rural roads is not only expected to give new impetus to the coir industry in the State but also be a boon to the Covid-19 hit Coir Industry.

As per the PMGSY new technology guidelines for road construction, 15% length in each batch of proposals, is to be constructed using new technologies. Out of this 5 percent roads are to be constructed using Indian Roads Congress (IRC) accredited technology.

The IRC has now accredited coir geo-textiles for construction of rural roads.

IR: It refers to the Indian Railways. IR is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It is among the world's largest rail networks. The first railway proposals for India was made in Madras in 1832. The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853. The first passenger train in India ran between Bombay (Bori Bunder) and Thane. The 14-carriage train was hauled by three steam locomotives: Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. It carried 400 people and ran on a line of 34 kilometres (21 mi) built and operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. The current Union Minister of Railways is Piyush Goyal and Minister of State of Railways is Angadi Suresh Channabasappa.

Recently, The Indian Railways (IR) operationalised its first 12,000 hp electric locomotive named WAG12 with Number 60027. WAG12 has been manufactured at the Madhepura Electric Locomotive Pvt. Ltd. (MELPL), in Bihar. WAG12 has been produced under Make in India programme which is manufactured locally by French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom. With its maiden commercial run between Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Station to Shivpur, India has become the 6th country in the world to join the club of countries producing high horsepower locomotive indigenously. It is for the first time that prime horsepower locomotive has been operationalised on broad gauge track in the world.

 MELPL: It refers to the Madhepura Electric Locomotive Pvt. Ltd. MELPL is the largest integrated Green Field facility built to the highest standards of quality and safety with production capacity of 120 locos. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It was founded on 20 November 2015. It is a joint venture of Alstom SA of France with Indian Railways for the production of 800 high-power locomotives over a period of 11 years designed to run on Indian tracks at 120 km per hour. The manufacturing has started on 11 October 2017.

Alstom: Alstom SA is a French multinational company operating worldwide in rail transport markets, active in the fields of passenger transportation, signalling and locomotives, with products including the AGV, TGV, Eurostar and Pendolino high-speed trains, in addition to suburban, regional and metro trains, as well as Citadis trams. The current Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer is Henri Poupart-Lafarge while the Managing Director (MD), India & South Asia is Alain Spohr.

PPE: It refers to Personal Protective Equipment. A PPE kit basically consists of shoe cover, gloves, eye shield, mask, and gown. The kit is crucial to safeguard against the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, as per the data provided by the Ministry of Health, India is producing 2.06 lakh PPE kits every day which is the maximum capacity of the country.

Recently, India has become the 2nd largest manufacturer of PPE in the world within a short time span of two months. Currently, China is the leading producer of PPE in the world. The Ministry of Textiles stated that several steps were taken to ensure the quantity and quality of PPE coveralls meeting their increasing demand. The Ministry has also taken steps to ensure that only certified players across the entire supply chain are allowed to supply body coveralls to governments. Besides, Textiles Committee, Mumbai too will now test and certify PPE body coveralls required for healthcare workers and other COVID-19 warriors.

Textile Committee: It is a statutory body that was established in 1963 through an Act of Parliament. It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India (GoI). It was formed to ensure the quality of textiles and textile machinery both for internal consumption and export purpose. The main function of the committee is to establish laboratories for the testing of textile and textile machinery. The Committee will also provide for their export and examination apart from other functions.

Ministry of Textile: The Ministry of Textiles is an Indian government national agency. It is responsible for the formulation of policy, planning, development, export promotion and regulation of the textile industry in India. It was founded on 1st April 1999. The current Union Minister of Textile is Smriti Zubin Irani and State Minister of Textile is Ajay Tamta.

People In News

Rajesh Goel: He has been appointed as the new director-general (DG) of the Realtors body National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). Prior to his appointment as the DG of NAREDCO, he was serving as the chairman and managing director of Hindustan Prefab Ltd. He has an experience of 37 years in leading PSUs under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

NAREDCO: It refers to the National Real Estate Development Council. NAREDCO was founded in 1998. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Zubair Iqbal: He is the Senior Vice-President of HDFC Bank. He has been appointed as new managing director of Jammu and Kashmir Bank. He has been appointed by Jammu and Kashmir Government for three-year tenure.

The current Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of J&K Bank R K Chibber will continue as CMD for the next 3 years. The appointments are based upon the continuous directions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to separate the positions of Chairman and Managing Director for better governance.

J&k bank: It refers to the Jammu & Kashmir Bank. J&k bank is public sector bank. It is not a regular public sector banks where the Center government is a majority stake holder but a privately owned bank where the state government hold majority stake. It is headquartered in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. It was incorporated on 1st October 1938. It was the first bank in the country to emerge as a state–owned bank. It commenced its business from 4th July 1939 in Kashmir, India.

Dr Harsh Vardhan: He is the current Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India. He has been elected as Chair of the Executive Board of World Health Organization (WHO) for the year 2020-21. This took place today during the 147th session of the Executive Board. He will be taking charge of the 34-member Executive Board. He will replace Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan. He will chair the 148th session of the Executive Board in January 2011 and in May 2011 at the Meeting he will hand over the Chair to another from WHO region. However, he will continue to be a member of the Executive Board till 2023.

India had become a party to the WHO Constitution on 12 January 1948. The first session of the South East Asia Regional Committee was held on October 4-5, 1948 at the office of the Indian Minister of Health, and was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister. India was nominated to as a member of the WHO Executive Board from the Region by Member States at the 72nd Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia in September 2019. India was to replace Sri Lanka whose term expired in May 2020 and also to lead 147th and 148th Sessions of the Executive Board as Chairperson.

WHO Executive Board: The WHO Executive Board is composed of 34 members technically qualified in the field of health. The members are elected for three-year terms. The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body which consists of 194 Member States. The post for the Board's Chairman is held by rotation for one year by each of the WHO’s six regional groups namely, African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, Western Pacific Region and European Region. The main tasks of the Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work. The Board and the Assembly create a forum for debate on health issues and for addressing concerns raised by the Member States.

Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar: He is the India's Chief Hydrographer of Indian Naval Hydrographic. He joined the Indian Navy in 1982. He leads the regional Capacity Building programmes of Indian Naval Hydrographic Office (INHO). He was honoured with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for “distinguished service of an exceptional order during peacetime” in 2019. He has also been the member of the International Hydrographic Organisations (IHO’s) Capacity Building Sub-Committee since its creation.

Recently, the National Hydrographer to the Government of India, Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar has been awarded the Alexander Dalrymple Award 2019. The award was presented to him by the UK Ministry of Defence in recognition for his outstanding contribution to Indian hydrography and across the broader Indian Ocean region. His work in the Gulf of Kutch and Khambhat and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are recognised as some of the most challenging environments in the world to perform surveys.

Alexander Dalrymple Award: The award is named after the first Hydrographer of the British Admiralty, Alexander Dalrymple and was first presented in 2006. Recipients of the award are selected by the Executive Committee of the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) from all over the world for their efforts in raising the standards of hydrography, cartography, and navigation.

  IHO: It is an abbreviation for International Hydrographic Organisation. The IHO is an intergovernmental organization that works to ensure all the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters are surveyed and charted. It was established in 1921. It coordinates the activities of national hydrographic offices and promotes uniformity in nautical charts and documents. It is headquartered in Monaco. The current Director of International Hydrographic Organisations are Abri Kampfer (South Africa) & Mustafa Iptes (Turkey). 

Places In News

Madhya Pradesh: Madhya Pradesh (MP) is the second largest Indian state by area. It borders the states of Uttar Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the southeast, Maharashtra to the south, Gujarat to the west, and Rajasthan to the northwest. Its capital is Bhopal. The Chief Minister and Governor of Madhya Pradesh is Kamal Nath and Lal Ji Tandon respectively.

Recently, the Madhya Pradesh state government launched the the first of its kind Charan Paduka initiative.  This initiative is for the migrant labourers passing through the Madhya Pradesh. Under the Charan Paduka campaign, the migrant labourers going barefoot are being provided shoes and slippers by the police to reduce their pain. This human initiative is being conducted by the police in most of the locations. The main aim of this scheme is to send the labourers to their homes respectfully amid COVID-19.

 The Charan Paduka campaign started from the Rau Police Station of Indore and has spread in many cities of Madhya Pradesh including Damoh, Umaria, and Sagar.

Manipur: Manipur is a state in northeastern India.It is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west; Myanmar lies to its east. It was formed on 21 January 1972. Its Capital is Imphal. The current Governor and the Chief minister of Manipur are  Najma Heptulla and Biren Singh respectively.

Recently, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth has listed Manipur’s ‘khudol’ (gift) among the top 10 global initiatives for an inclusive fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

KHUDOL: It is a crowdfunded initiative of Ya_All, an Imphal-based NGO. Under the initiative, the NGO provides food supplies and health services for the LGBTQI+ community, people living with HIV, daily-wage earners, children and adolescents.

Maharashtra: Maharashtra is a state in the western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau.  Its capital is Mumbai. The Chief Minister and the Governor of Maharashtra are Uddhav Thackeray and Bhagat Singh Koshyari respectively.

Recently, "Mee Annapurna" initiative has been launched in Maharashtra by an IRDA licensed insurance intermediary "Integrated Risk Insurance". This initiative has been launched by Integrated Risk Insurance as a part of its commitment as a Corporate Social Responsibility towards the welfare of the farmers and agriculture community in Maharashtra. This initiative is a commitment of Integrated Risk Insurance to the Bhoomiputra's of Atmanirbhar Maharashtra in order to uplift the farming community by providing them long term sustainable programme for the continuity of their income. This programme is based on three commandments. They are Expertise, Engagement and Entitlement.

Science and Technology

TROGLOMYCES TWITTERI: It is a new species that has just been recently discovered using a Twitter image and thus has been named as Troglomyces twitteri. This new parasitic fungus was discovered by the biologist Sofia Reboleira of University of Copenhagen, Denmark while scrolling though Twitter where she stumbled upon a photo of a North American millipede shared by her US colleague Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech. There, she spotted a few tiny dots that struck her well-trained eyes.

Troglomyces twitteri: It is a type of parasitic fungus. It belongs to an order called Laboulbeniales. These tiny fungal parasites which look like tine larvae attack insects and millipedes. These fungi live on the outside of host organisms. In this case it was found living on the reproductive organs of millipedes. Laboulbeniales were first discovered in the middle of the 19th century. 

Textiles Committee: It is a statutory body established in 1963 through an Act of Parliament and is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. It has been formed to ensure the quality of textiles and textile machinery both for internal consumption and export purpose. The Committee is tasked with the functions of establishing laboratories for the testing of textiles and textile machinery and providing for their inspection and examination, besides other functions which flow from the main objective of ensuring quality of textiles products and textiles machinery.

Recently, the Textiles Committee Mumbai, (Maharashtra) operating under Ministry of Textiles has launched testing equipment for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The Committee will now on test the PPEs produced in the country. The Equipment is called Synthetic Blood Penetration Testing Equipment. This equipment tests the resistance of the PPE (masks, covers, etc) to penetration of synthetic blood under different levels of pressure.

The laboratory set up to test the PPEs was accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). A Unique Certification Code has been passed to test the samples submitted by the manufacturers of PPEs. The UCC has been uploaded in all official websites such as Ordnance Factory Board, DRDO (Defence Research Development Organization).

The Textiles Committee is a statutory body established in 1963 through an Act of Parliament. It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The current Textile Committee Secretary is Ajit Chavan and the current Union Textile Minister is Smriti Zubin Irani

Agappe Chitra Magna (ACM) Kit: It is a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit for use during testing for detection of COVID-19. The ACM kit is developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) and manufactured by Kochi-based Agappe Diagnostics Ltd. It was validated by the National Institute of Virology and the approval of the kit was provided by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

 

The ACM Kit uses an innovative technology for isolating RNA using magnetic nanoparticles to capture the RNA from the patient sample. The magnetic nanoparticle beads bind to the viral RNA and, when exposed to a magnetic field, give a highly purified and concentrated RNA. As the sensitivity of the detection method is dependent on getting an adequate quantity of viral RNA, this innovation enhances the chances of identifying positive cases.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) announced the commercial launch of Agappe Chitra Magna. The commercial launch of the Made-In-India Medical kit seeks in helping to increase the rate of testing and bringing down its costs which is a crucial step for combating the pandemic. It will also reduce the dependence on imported kits and make COVID testing more cost-effective.

Sports

ICC: It refers to the International Cricket Committee. ICC is the world governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 15 June 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1989. The ICC, currently, has 104 member nations. It organizes world championship events such as Cricket World Cup, Women's Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup, ICC Women's T20 World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy and Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The current Chairman of ICC is Shashank Manohar and the Chief Executive is Manu Sahney.

Recently, ICC has banned the use of saliva to shine the ball but the application of sweat will still be allowed. Use of artificial substance to shine the ball is being considered.  The decision was taken as this practice which is meant for swing bowling in cricket is now primarily held as health risk due to the threats of COVID-19 and protect the safety of players and match officials. This committee was chaired by the current chairman of ICC Cricket Committee Anil Kumble. 

 The committee has also recommended the use of local umpires and match referees for international fixtures. Apart from this, the committee also recommended increasing the use of DRS review per innings from 2 to 3.

Bundesliga: The Bundesliga is the primary football league in Germany. It has the highest stadium attendance worldwide. Bundesliga meaning “Federal League” began in 1963.

Recently, the Bundesliga primary football league of Germany becomes the world’s first major sports event to resume after COVID-19 lockdown. Though the football game has started amid the COVID-19 crisis, it will not be played in the same way as before. The Bundesliga games began with empty stadium though the stadium had the capacity to hold more than 80,000 players.

The players are being tested twice a week. The teams participating in the games were kept under quarantine. The teams entered the ground at different times. The substitutes sat well apart during the matches following social distancing.

Current Affairs March 10 to May 16

Arts

Vesak Day: The day is observed globally on the Full Moon (Purnima) of the month Vaishakha (May). Vesak also known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti in India is the most sacred day for Buddhists around the world. The day commemorates birth, enlightenment and Death (or Parinirvana) of Lord Buddha. Lord buddha is the founder of Bhuddhism. Buddha Purnima or Vesak festival is celebrated with great pomp and fervour in countries like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka   Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia. In some of the coutries like Nepal, the day is marked with prayers and processions by monks, the biggest celebration takes place in Lumbini. The Day is celebrated as Lotus Lantern festival in South Korea. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists decorate their homes with paper lanterns. The Day is also commemorated by the United Nations every year. The United Nation (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1999 in which it recognized Vesak Day as International Day to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism made to humanity.

Recently, Vesak Day 2020 the Day of the Full Moon was observed by the United Nations on 7 May 2020. Buddhists across the world celebrated the birthday of Gautama Buddha on this day. As millions of Buddhists around the world celebrated the sacred occasion of Vesak, the UN chief called on all nations to celebrate Lord Buddha’s wisdom by taking action for others with compassion and solidarity as the human family is suffering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gautam Buddha: Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha on the full moon day of Vaishakha that is 8 April 563 BC a half millennia ago, in Lumbini, Nepal. He was born to a royal couple from Kapilavastu. The Prince grew up in an environment full of comfort and away from human sufferings. But as destiny'd decision, Siddhartha who later became known as “the Buddha,” was to detach himself from the materialistic pleasures. He chose to lead a life that would inspire the world. He is revered as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism. On this very day he attained enlightenment or Nirvana (salvation) under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, gave his first sermon in Sarnath near Varanasi and died in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh in his 80th year.

Vesak Day: The day is observed globally on the Full Moon (Purnima) of the month Vaishakha (May). Vesak also known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti in India is the most sacred day for Buddhists around the world. The day commemorates birth, enlightenment and Death (or Parinirvana) of Lord Buddha. Lord buddha is the founder of Bhuddhism. Buddha Purnima or Vesak festival is celebrated with great pomp and fervour in countries like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka   Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia. In some of the coutries like Nepal, the day is marked with prayers and processions by monks, the biggest celebration takes place in Lumbini. The Day is celebrated as Lotus Lantern festival in South Korea. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists decorate their homes with paper lanterns. The Day is also commemorated by the United Nations every year. The United Nation (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1999 in which it recognized Vesak Day as International Day to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism made to humanity.

Recently, Vesak Day 2020 the Day of the Full Moon was observed by the United Nations on 7 May 2020. Buddhists across the world celebrated the birthday of Gautama Buddha on this day. As millions of Buddhists around the world celebrated the sacred occasion of Vesak, the UN chief called on all nations to celebrate Lord Buddha’s wisdom by taking action for others with compassion and solidarity as the human family is suffering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gautam Buddha: Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha on the full moon day of Vaishakha that is 8 April 563 BC a half millennia ago, in Lumbini, Nepal. He was born to a royal couple from Kapilavastu. The Prince grew up in an environment full of comfort and away from human sufferings. But as destiny'd decision, Siddhartha who later became known as “the Buddha,” was to detach himself from the materialistic pleasures. He chose to lead a life that would inspire the world. He is revered as the founder of the world religion of Buddhism. On this very day he attained enlightenment or Nirvana (salvation) under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, gave his first sermon in Sarnath near Varanasi and died in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh in his 80th year.

NGMA: It refers to the National Gallery of Modern Art. NGMA is the premier art gallery under Ministry of Culture, Government of India (GoI). The main museum at Jaipur House in New Delhi was established on 29 March 1954 by the GoI. Its branches are at Mumbai and Bangalore. The Delhi branch is one of the world's largest modern art museums. The current Director General of National Gallery of Modern Art is Adwaita Charan Gadanayak.

Recently, NGMA organized a Virtual Tour titled as “Gurudev: Journey of the Maestro through his visual vocabulary” to commemorate the 159th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The virtual tour will showcase 102 artworks created by versatile genius.

Rabindranath Tagore: Rabindranath Tagore actually Rabīndranāth Ṭhākur was born on 7 May 1861 to Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj. He was a Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, and painter who introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He became the first non-European and the first Indian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his novel ‘Geetanjali’. He was awarded a knighthood in 1915, but he repudiated it in 1919 as a protest against the Amritsar (Jallianwala Bagh) Massacre. He also wrote the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh.

In 1901 Tagore founded an experimental school in rural West Bengal at Shantiniketan (“Abode of Peace”), where he sought to blend the best in the Indian and Western traditions. Some of his famous literarty works from many are Gitanjali, Chokher bali, The Postmaste,  Kabuliwala, Ghare Baire etc.

Economics

Ministry of Finance: The Ministry of Finance is the apex controlling authority of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Cost Accounts Service and Indian Civil Accounts Service. It is an important ministry within the Government of India (GoI) concerned with the economy of India, serving as the Indian Treasury Department. It was founded on 29 October 1946. The ministry of finance is charged with the task of raising the resources for the overall expenditure of the Government of India and to see to the desirability of the demands of other departments, taking into consideration the interest of taxpayers. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current Minister of Finance is Nirmala Sitharaman.

Recently, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitaraman launched INR-USD (Rupee-Dollar) Futures and Options contracts. They were launched on the two International Exchanges, BSE’s India INX and NSE’s NSE-IFSC, at GIFT International Financial Services Centre in Gandhinagar through video conference.

A significant market share in financial services related to India has moved to other international financial centres in the last decade so this move will help in increasing economic activity and employment in India. The contracts have also been launched so that the world-class business environment at the GIFT IFSC will help to bring in larger global participation.

Future and Options: These are financial products which allow the investors to buy or sell shares at a given price on a specific date. Futures contract gives the right to the buyer to buy or sell the shares on a specific future date while Options Contract gives the right to buy or sell the shares at any time till the validity of the contract exists.

There are 2 types of options i.e. Call Option and Put Option. The Call Option is used to buy a stock at the strike price while the Put Option is used to sell a stock at a specific price.

Defence

Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff, a four-star admiral, commands the navy. It was founded in 5 September 1612. The current Chief of Navy Staff (CNS) is Karambir singh. Indian Navy day is celebrated on the 4th of December every year.

Recently, Operation “Samudra Setu” meaning means “Sea Bridge” has been launched by Indian Navy. Operation “Samudra Setu is a part of national effort to repatriate Indian citizens who are stranded overseas amid COVID-19 pandemic. This operation is being executed in close coordination with Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Health and various other agencies of the Government of India and State governments.

Under Phase-1 of the operation Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to Malè in Maldives to start evacuations. A total of 1000 persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip. The evacuated personnel will be disembarked at Kochi in Kerala and entrusted to the care of State Authorities.

ARTRAC: It is the abbreviation of the Army Training Command of India. IARTRAC is one of the seven commands of the Indian Army. It is based at Shimla. It was established on 1 October 1991 at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh and moved to Shimla on 31 March 1993. The main aim of the command is to maximize effectiveness of the training.

Recently, Lieutenant General Raj Shukla, YSM, SM serving General Officer in the Indian Army assumed command of the ARTRAC.

General Shukla an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and Indian Military Academy was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in December 1982. He commanded a Medium Regiment in the Eastern and Desert Theatres, an Infantry Brigade in counter-insurgency operations, an Infantry Division along the LoC in Kashmir and a Corps along the Western Borders. He has served two tenures at the Military Operations Directorate and as the Director-General, Perspective Planning at Army HQ. He has also been Commandant of the Indian Army War College.

Indian Army: The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. It was founded on 1 April 1895. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is the world's second-largest military force. It has the world's largest volunteer army. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army, and its professional head is the Chief of Army Staff, who is a four-star general. The current Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army is President Ram Nath Kovind and the 28th 28th Chief of Army Staff is General Manoj Mukund Naravane. The motto of Indian Army is “Service Before Self”.

MoD: It refers to the Ministry of Defence. It was created in 1776 which is 244 years ago as Military Department by the British East India Company at Kolkata but in 15 August 1947, the Department of Defence became the Ministry of Defence under a cabinet minister. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the Indian armed forces. The President of India is the ceremonial commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the country. The responsibility for national defence rests with the Cabinet. The function of MoD is to provide policy framework and resources to the armed forces to discharge their responsibility in the context of the defence of the country. The Indian Armed Forces (including Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy) and Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defences are primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the nation. The current Defence Minister is Rajnath Singh.

 

Recently, the Ministry of Defence signed a MoU with the TATA POWER SED to Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) of 37 airfields of Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. The total cost of the project is around Rs 1,200 crore. The contract has been signed under Phase-2 of the project.

Under the Phase-1 of MAFI, the air fields of the IAF (Indian Air Force) were upgraded.  The first modern airfield system, under Phase-1 was set up at Bhatinda. About 30 airfields were modernized under this project.

Under Phase-2, the navigational aids and infrastructure are to be upgraded. The Phase-2 also includes the installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment like Cat-II Instrument Landing System and Air Field Lightning System. The modern equipments are to be directly connected to Air Traffic Control which will help in providing excellent control of airfield system.

TATA Power SED: Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (SED) is a unit of Tata Power. It is a diversified company of the Tata Group. It was formerly known as Strategic Electronics. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. The current President of Tata Power is Natarajan Chandrasekaran.

 

Environment

Indian Policy

MEA: It is an abbreviation for Ministry of External Affairs. MEA also known as the Foreign Ministry was founded on 2 September 1946. It is the government agency responsible for the conduct of foreign relations of India. The Ministry comes under the Government of India and is responsible for India's representation in the United Nations. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is the current Minister of External Affairs of the Government of India.

Recently, Ministry of External affairs (MEA) of India  reminded China about India’s claims over Gilgit-Baltistan where China has teamed up with Pakistan to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam. India’s claim over the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan under Pakistan’s control was made clear as the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is part of India.” The assertion by India is important as it was made a day after Power China, one of the biggest Chinese power companies, received a contract to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam which once completed will allow Pakistan to use the waters of the Indus for irrigation. Islamabad claims that the dam will help reduce downstream flood by the Indus.

Diamer-Bhasha Dam: It is a concreted-filled gravity dam on the River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan. It is in the preliminary stages of construction. It is named Bhasha as the dam site is situated near a place called "Bhasha". The foundation stone for the dam was laid by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1998. 

MHRD: It refers to the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The MHRD was formerly known as the Ministry of Education. It was founded on 26 septenber 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is responsible for the development of human resources in India. The current Minister of MHRD is Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Recently, Union HRD Ministry has carried out various amendments in the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) Scheme to boost research in the country.

Under the scheme, a dedicated division “Research and Innovation Division” is being created in the MHRD to boost research.

This division is to be headed by a director who will coordinate the research work of various institutions coming under MHRD.

The new amendment makes GATE score mandatory for the students of any other institutes other than the central institutes (such as IISc, IITs, NITs, IISERs, IIEST, CF IIITs).

The GATE Score has been reduced to 650 from 750 apart from minimum CGPA of 8 or equivalent.

From the academic year 2020-21, there will be two channels of entries i.e direct entry and lateral entry. Under lateral entry, those students pursuing PhD in PMRF granting institutions can also apply to become fellow under the scheme as per new guidelines.

PMRF Scheme: It refers to the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme. PMRF was launched in 2018 to attract best talent into the research. It offers direct admission to such students in the Ph.D programmes in various higher educational institutions in the country. The institutes that are eligible under PMRF scheme includes all IISERs, IITs, Institute of Science, IISc Bengaluru and other top central universities and NITs.

Indian polity

PAC: It refers to Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament of India. PAC is the oldest Parliamentary Committee. It was first constituted in 1921. It is a committee of selected members of parliament, constituted by the Parliament of India, for the purpose of auditing the revenue and the expenditure of the Government of India (GoI).The annual financial accounts of the government and other accounts are laid before the House as the Committee may think fit. The Committee consists of 22 Members, 15 Members are elected by Lok Sabha and 7 Members of the Rajya Sabha are associated with it. The Speaker is empowered to appoint the Chairman of the Committee from amongst its Members.

Recently, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla appointed Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Delhi. He took charge on 6 May 2020 amid the COVID-19 lockdown. He has been appointed as the Chairperson of the Committee for the term beginning on 1 May 2020 and ending on 30 April 2021.

At present, the 16th Lok Sabha has no designated leader of opposition so the Indian National Congress (INC) being largest opposition party has gotten the responsibility of heading the PAC. The current of Chairperson of PAC is Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Uttar Pradesh Government: The UP Government recently passed an ordinance 'Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020' provided they fulfill certain conditions. It was passed to suspend labour laws for the next 3 years.

Under this ordinance, all labour laws in the state, except 3 related to abolishment of bonded labour, ex gratia to workers in case of work-related diseases and disabilities, and timely wage payments have been relaxed.

 According to the statement by the UP Government, the Acts which will apply in the state are:-

1. Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996   2. Workmen Compensation Act, 1923

3. Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

4. Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (the    right to receive timely wages).

The main objective of this move is to uplift the industrial investment and employ those migrant workers who have come back to their native villages in the state in large numbers. The move will not only allow the industries to freely employ large number of migrant workers but also help to bring back the economy back to track which has slowed down due to Covid-19 pandemic.  The move provides certain safeguards regarding minimum wages, health, and safety of the workers and if there is a misuse of the ordinance then there is a provision for strict action too. The ordinance applies to new factories and existing businesses as well.

Since Labour is a Concurrent subject under the Constitution of India, it states that both centre and state governments shall frame their own laws. However, approval of central government is required. Therefore, the Ordinance has been sent to Governor Anandiben Patel for assent.

International

Iran: Iran also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan,to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. The capital of Iran is Tehran. The currency used there is Iranian Rial. The current President of Iran is Hassan Rouhani.

Recently, the Iranian Parliament introduced new currency called Toman, to tackle inflation. It will replace its national currency "Rial". The plan is set to effectively cut four zeros from its currency. The worth of each Toman under the new system will be worth 10,000 rials. The move by the Iranian government aims to simplify financial transactions. The Guardian Council, a body of conservative clerics that supervises Parliament, is expected to ratify the law. Once the law is ratified, then the Central Bank will have two years to implement the change by removing rials from circulation and issuing tomans instead. Iran’s move is to tackle the fallout from inflation fueled by U.S. sanctions.

Earlier, in 1930, Iran had changed its basic monetary unit from dinar to the rial. The change was a part of the modernization of the economy undertaken by the Pahlavi dynasty. The Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown by the revolution in 1979. The Iranian government has been planning to replace currency notes since 2016.

Iraq: It is officially the Republic of Iraq. It is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital city of Iraq is Baghdad. The currency used her is Iraqui Dinar. The current President or Iraq is Barham Salih.

Recently, Mustafa Al Kadhimi has become the new Prime Minister of Iraq. He is a former National Intelligence Service (NIS) from 2016 of Iraq. The Iraqi parliament approved Kadhimi’s government at an emergency session. Former PM Adil-Abdul Mahdi resigned in November last year.

International Nurse Day: This day is observed globally on 12th May every year. It is observed to commemorate the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale who was also called the Lady with the Lamp. International Nurses Day was initiated by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) in 1974. She is revered as the founder of modern nursing. 

Recently, International Nurse Day 2020 was observed globally amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. The theme for 2020 is “Nursing the World to Health”. The main objective of the theme is not only to demonstrate how nurses play a crucial role in contributing to healthcare and health management but to spread public awareness of their contribution. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the year 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife as it is the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nigntingale: She was a British social reformer, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She was called the “Lady with the Lamp”. She was given this name by the wounded soldiers because she used to make rounds through the camps with a lamp. She played a significant role in treating the injured soldiers during the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856. She was born on 12 May 1820 to a wealthy English family in Florence, Tuscany, Italy. She established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses in 1860 which was the first nursing institute for women.

ICN: It refers to the International Council of Nurses. ICN is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations. It is operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally. It works to ensure quality nursing care for all and sound health policies globally. It was founded in 1899. It was the first international organization for health care professionals. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is associated with the World Bank, International Labour Organization and World Health Organization. The current President of ICN is Annette Kennedy.

National

NITI Aayog: NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog is the premier policy 'Think Tank' of the Government of India (GoI). It was established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. It was founded on  1 January 2015 to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The Governing Council of NITI includes the Prime Minister as its Chairman. It comprises of Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories (UTs). The current Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog is Rajiv Kumar the  Chief Executive Officer(CEO) is Amitabh Kant.

Recently, NITI Aayog in partnership with Piramal Foundation launched ‘Surakshit Dada-Dadi & Nana-Nani Abhiyan’. It is a campaign launched virtually with an aim to create awareness about various aspects of senior citizens’ health and lifestyle including preventive measures and requisite behavioral changes in view of COVID-19 crisis. Its main objective is to protect the senior citizens.

The “Surakshit Dada-Dadi & Nana-Nani Abhiyan” campaign has been launched in 25 Aspirational Districts across Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.

ADP: It refers to Aspirational Districts Programme. Under ADP, the Aspirational Districts are those districts in India that are affected by poor socio-economic factors. Around 115 districts from 28 states have been identified under this programme. Its main objective is convergence, collaboration and competition. The programme focuses on 5 themes, namely, Health & Nutrition, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion, Education and Skill Development.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. The Minister of Health and Family Welfare holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. It was founded in 1976. Its headquarters is in New Delhi. The current Minister of Health and Family welfare is Harsh Vardhan.

Recently, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan dedicated the COBAS-6800 Testing Machine for COVID-19 cases to the nation. It is a first of its kind, testing machine that has been installed at the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

COBAS-6800: It is a sophisticated fully automated, high-end machine enabled with robotics which performs real-time PCR testing COVID-19, thereby, minimizing the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers. The machine will provide high-volume and quality testing and will be able to test around 1200 samples in 24 hours. It can also reportedly detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Mtb, CMV, Papilloma, Chlamadiya, Neiserreia, etc.

People In News

Manisha Singh: She is a senior Indian American Diplomat who has been nominated as to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by the US President Donald Trump. She is currently the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs at the State Department. She will now be the US Representative to OECD with the rank of an Ambassador. She has also served as the acting Under Secretary of Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs at the State Department.

OECD: It refers to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It was founded in 1961 and is headquartered in Paris, France.

Tarun Bajaj: He is a 1988-batch Haryana cadre IAS officer. He assumed charge as the Economic Affairs Secretary on 1st May. He not only has served as the Additional Secretary in Prime Minister's Office bur also worked as Joint Secretary and Director in the Department of Financial Services.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) has nominated Secretary of Economic Affairs Department Ministry of Finance Tarun Bajaj as a director on the Central Board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). His nomination will become effective from 5 May 2020.

Dia Mirza: She is an Indian model, actress, producer, social worker and beauty queen who won the Miss Asia Pacific 2000 title. She is also the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) Advocate. She has made significant contributions towards World Environment Day celebrations, Circular fashions, and other UNEP campaigns. She pioneered several campaigns including Beat the Pollution Campaign.  Under Beat the Pollution Campaign India works to become completely free from single-use plastics by 2022.

 

Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) extended the term of  Dia Mirza as the Goodwill Ambassador of India till 2022. She has been UNEP’s Goodwill Ambassador since 2017.

UNEP: It is an abbreviation for United Nations Environment Programme. UNEP was founded on 5 June 1972 by a Canadian businessman and philanthropist Maurice Strong. It is responsible for coordinating the UN's environmental activities and assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It is the global champion for the environment with programmes focusing on sustainable development, climate, biodiversity and more. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. The current Executive Director of UNEP is Inger Andersen and the current Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific, UNEP is Dechen Tsering.

V Vidyavathi: He is a 1991-batch IAS Officer from the Karnataka cadre. He has been appointed as Director General (DG) of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The other appointments by the Appointment Committee are Rajendra Kumar has been appointed as the Director General of Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and Shiv Das Meena of the Tamil Nadu cadre have been appointed as the Director General of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Places In News

West Bengal: West Bengal is a state in eastern India. It lies between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. It borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata. It was established on 26 January 1950. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of West Bengal are Jagdeep Dhankhar and Mamta Banerjee respectively.

Recently, the West Bengal Government launched a new scheme named as ‘Matir Smristi’ to utilise 50,000 acres of barren land in six districts of the states. The yojana seeks to benefit nearly 2.5 lakh people of rural Bengal.

As per the reports, there are at least 50,000 acre of barren land in Bankura, Birbhum, Purulia, Jhargram, West Burdwan and West Midnapore districts of the state which cannot produce anything naturally nor can the farmers cultivate on the strip. The scheme aims to utilize the barren lands for income-generating activities like horticulture and pisciculture.

 The work has been started in 6,500 acres of land at the micro-level and this is an environment-friendly scheme. Preference would be given to locals to be involved for carrying out the project in which “lakhs of women self-help groups” (SHGs) will be involved.

GI Tag: It refers to a geographical indication tag. GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin and in order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.

Recently, The Telia Rumal of Telangana For the Telia Rumal of Telangana and Sohrai Khovar painting of Jharkhand received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indications Registry. The application of GI-tag for the Telia Rumal of Telangana was made by Consortium of Puttapaka Handloom Cluster-IHDS while the application of GI-tag for the Sohrai Khovar painting of Jharkhand was made by Sohrai Kala Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Limited.

Sikkim: Sikkim is a state in northeastern India. It borders China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. It is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states and is also located close to India's Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kangchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. It is also home to glaciers, alpine meadows and thousands of varieties of wildflowers. On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union on 16 May 1975. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Sikkim are Ganga Prasad and Prem Singh Tamang respectively.

Recently, Sikkim celebrated its 45th Statehood Day. The day was observed in a brief solemn function held at Chintan Bhawan due to COVID_19 crisis. The function was attended by Governor Ganga Prasad as the chief guest, while chief minister Prem Singh Tamang was present as the guest of honour.

 In 2016, Sikkim became the first fully organic state in the India and also in the world. The initiative to achieve this had begun in 2003.

Science and Technology

JNCASR: It refers to Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. JNCASR is a multidisciplinary research institute located at Jakkur, Bangalore, India. It is an autonomous institute which was established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India, to mark the birth centenary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of independent India.

Recently, Scientists at JNCASR headed by Prof.T.Govindaraju have developed an injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients. They have developed the silk fibroin (SF) formulation using biocompatible additives and prepared an injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) that can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients. The gel was first tested in rats and was successful. The results have been published in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials. 

ARCI: It refers to International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials. ARCI is an Autonomous Research and Development Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. Its main campus is based at Hyderabad with operations in Chennai and Gurgaon. It was established in 1997. The main function of ARCI is the development of High Performance Materials and Processes for Niche Markets, demonstration of Technologies at Prototype / pilot scale and transfer of Technology to Indian Industry.

 Recently, the scientists at ARCI and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, under the Department of Science & Technology (DST) have jointly developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.

The newly developed alloys are suitable for biodegradable stent and orthopedic implant applications.

Biodegradable materials like Fe, Mg, Zn, and polymer can participate in the healing process and then degrade gradually by maintaining the mechanical integrity without leaving any implant residues in the human body. According to the scientists, the newly developed alloys are alternatives to currently used metallic implants which remain permanently in the human body and can cause long-term side effects like systemic toxicity, chronic inflammation, and thrombosis.

 

Sports

The World Athletics Day: This day is observed on the 7th of May, however, the date is subject to adjustment as International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) decision but the month stays the same. It was celebrated for the first time in the year 1996. The observation of the day was initiated by Primo Nebiolo, the then-president of IAAF.

The day is observed to make people aware of the various health issues and to promote physical fitness. The main objective of observing this day is to promote sports among the youth and establish a link between the youth, sport, and environmental conservation. The day also aims to promote athletics as the primary sport in schools and institutions.

Several competitions take place on the day like covering track and field, road running, racewalking, mountain running and ultra running, and cross country running etc.

IAAF: It refers to International Amateur Athletic Federation. IAAF was formerly known as World Athletics. IAAF was founded in Sweden on 17 July 1912. The headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden. The current President of IAAF is Sebastian Coe.

FIH: It refers to International Hockey Federation. FIH is the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey. It is responsible for field hockey's major international tournaments, notably the World Cup. It was founded on 7 January 1924 in Paris by Paul Léautey. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The current CEO of FIH is Thierry Weil.

Recently, the term of Narinder Batra as President of FIH has been extended upto May 2021. This was announced in a statement by the Executive Board (EB) of FIH while making an announcement of the postponement of the 47th FIH Congress.

FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup: It is the first edition of online chess tournament which Co-organized by FIDE (International Chess Federation) and Chess.com. 

China has won the 1st edition of FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup2020 against the USA. This online tournament took place from 5-10 May 2020, through a chess.com platform. India ranked 5th in the six-team event, with players like Viswanathan Anand, P Harikrishna, Vidit S Gujrathi, B Adhiban, Koneru Humpy and D Harika among their teams. 

FIDE: It is an acronym for the International Chess Federation. FIDE is an international organization based in Switzerland that connects the various national chess federations and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. It was founded on 20 July 1924, Paris, France. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. the current President of FIDE is Arkady Dvorkovich.

Current Affairs April 26 to May 02

Arts

International Dance Day: The day is observed annually on 29 April across the globe. This day was created by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the main partner for the performing arts of UNESCO.  It was created in 1982.It is observed to celebrate the birth anniversary of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), the creator of modern ballet. Every year a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is circulated throughout the world. This day is celebrated to give value to this art. International Dance Day is wake-up-call for governments, politicians, and institutions, society to realize its potential for economic growth. Every year the dancers and the dancing communities in the world celebrate this day.

The main objective of this day is to promote dance forms throughout the world, to make people aware of the values of all the dance forms and to bring attention to governments, leaders, and get support to enable the dance community to promote their artwork.

ITI: It is an abbreviation for The International Theatre Institute. ITI is the world’s largest performing arts organization. ITI was founded in 1948 by theatre and dance experts and UNESCO. It is headquartered in Paris, France. ITI organizes the International Dance Day and World Theatre Day every year at the UNESCO, Paris. The Director General of ITI is Tobias Biancone.

Economics

CAIT: It refers to Confederation of All India Traders. CAIT is an apex body of trading community of India comprising of prominent Trade Bodies of different States and having an access to more than 20 thousands such Trade Federations, Associations, Chambers across the Country. It was founded in the year 1990 to consolidate the trading community of the Country which is though self-organized but yet is classified as unorganized and to protect their interest. The trading community consists of traders, small and medium enterprises, self-employed persons and Professionals which are more than 5 crores in unorganized sector providing employment to more than 22 crore people in India. The current CAIT National President is BC Bhartia. 

Recently, CAIT has announced that it will launch a national e-commerce marketplace 'bharatmarket' soon for all retail traders. It will launch bharatmarket in collaboration with several technology partners. The initiative is to be guided and supported by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The main objective of this the initiative is that it will integrate capabilities of various technology companies to provide end-to-end services in the logistics and supply chains from manufacturers to end consumers, including deliveries at home. The ‘Bharat market’ e-commerce portal will include participation from retailers across the nation. It aims to bring at least 95 percent of the retail traders onboard, who would exclusively run the portal.

The traders body seeks to enroll about one crore retailers on this e-marketplace in 2020 and make it the world’s largest and most-unique e-marketplace ever.

e-NAM platform: National Agriculture Market or eNAM is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. The e-NAM was launched on 14 April 2016 across India by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India. The main objective of the portal is to promote uniformity in agriculture marketing by streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removing information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promoting real time price discovery based on actual demand and supply.

Recently, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar has added 200 new mandis to the e-National Agriculture Market(e-NAM) platform. With this addition now the total number of e-NAM mandis in the country will be 785 and by the end of May 2020 1000 more mandis are expected to join the e-NAMplatform.

The newly 200 mandis includes 94 Mandis of Rajasthan, 27 Mandis of Tamil Nadu, 25 Mandis each from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, 16 Mandis of Odisha, 11 Mandis of Andhra Pradesh and two Mandis of Karnataka. Karnataka has been added to the list of e-NAM states for the first time.

The market aims to facilitate trade beyond mandi and state borders for farmers, traders and buyers with online trading in commodities. It is expected that the Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi's vision of using technology for the benefit of farmers will soon be realized.

Defence

Environment

CAMS: The abbreviation stands for Copernicus’ Atmospheric Monitoring Service. CAMS, recently, announced that the largest Ozone Hole recorded over North Pole has now closed.

According to them, the hole in the Ozone layer which spread over 1 million square kilometres above the Arctic has healed itself due to unusual atmospheric conditions.

The hole in Ozone was first identified by scientists in March 2020 which was very unusual as such holes are quite common above the Antarctic at the South Pole especially during July to September. The development of the hole was confirmed by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Services (CAMS) by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

C3S: It is the abbreviation for Copernicus Climate Change Service. C3S is one of the six thematic services provided by the European Union's Copernicus Programme. The Copernicus Programme is managed by the European Commission and the C3S is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). C3S are essential to study and monitor climate change adaptation. It provides climate and climate change services that support European climate policies and actions, contributing to building a European society with more resilience against human-induced changing climate. The goal of C3S is to provide reliable information about the past, current and future states of the climate in Europe and worldwide, the forecasts on a seasonal time scale, and the more likely projections in the coming decades for various scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and other Climate Change contributors.

Manipur: Manipur is a state in northeastern India. Manipur literally means,”the jeweled land”. The exquisite state is known for its traditions, dance forms, music and sumptuous cuisine. Most of the state is covered in forests, which houses some of the rarest species of plants and animals. It was formed on 21 January 1972. Its Capital is Imphal. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Manipur are Najma Heptulla and Biren Singh respectively.

Recently, Amazon Sailfin Catfish also known as suckermouth catfish was caught by a fisherman in Manipur's Bishnupur district. As per the senior scientist of the Manipur centre's ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), Dr Ch Basudha Devi, the report of catching of such alien species from the water bodies of the state poses a threat to the aquatic diversity of the region. Bishnupur district has the largest freshwater lake in the northeast region.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had listed seven native fish of Manipur as endangered freshwater species. Even the state fish, Pengba, has vanished from wild and is only bred in farm ponds.

Amazon Sailfin Catfish: The Amazon sailfin catfish, is a freshwater tropical fish in the armored catfish family. It is one of a number of species commonly referred to as the common pleco or "leopard pleco" by aquarists. Its scientific name is Pterygoplichthys pardalis. This alga eating fish can grow up to 49 centimetres and weigh up to 310gm. The species is native to the Amazon River Basin of Brazil and Peru. It is recorded in the Marikina River in the Philippines and known as the "janitor fish". It has become a local pest to eliminate fish in a few countries.

IMD: It is an abbreviation for India Meteorological Department. The IMD is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) set up across the globe, along with five regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs). It is their prime duty of issuing advisories and names of tropical cyclones.

Recently, IMD released a 169 new names list for the tropical cyclones that are likely to emerge over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

IMD had issued advisories regarding upcoming tropical cyclones to 13 member nations. The names contributed by these countries are India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Maldives,  Oman, Thailand, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh.

The decision to create new list of cyclones was taken during the 45th session of Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) held by World Meteorological Organization which was held in Oman.

13 Cyclone names suggested by India are Gati,Tej, Neer, Vyom, Aag, Jhar, Probaho, Murasu, Prabhajan, Jaladhi, Ghurni, Ambud and Vega.

Importance: The importance of the naming of Tropical Cyclones is that it helps the scientific community, disaster managers, media and general masses to identify each individual cyclone. It creates awareness of its development and removes confusion in case of simultaneous occurrence of TCs over a region. It is not only to remember a TC easily but also rapidly and effectively disseminate warnings to much wider audience

Indian Policy

NAFED: It refers to the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India. NAFED is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India. It was founded on the auspicious day of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 1958. It functions under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It was founded with an aim to promote the trade of agricultural produce and forest resources across the nation. It is registered under Multi State Co-operative Societies Act. It is headquartered in New Delhi. It is currently one of the largest procurement as well as marketing agencies for agricultural products in India. Its 4 regional offices are at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The current Chairman of NAFED is ex-MLA Dr. Bijender Singh.

Recently, NAFED, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) is all set to distribute about 6 lakh metric tonnes pulses to around 20 crore households through ration shops for 3 months. The quota for the first month will be received by the beneficiaries within April or latest by the first week of May.  The pulses are distributed under the National food Security Act. The main objective of the distribution of pulses is to meet the protein needs of people during this hour of crisis due to COVID-19 lockdown.

Under the scheme, a massive operation for transport and milling of pulses is underway in the country to distribute one kilogram of pulses to every household. Careful planning of this huge operation includes cleaning unmilled pulses and then transporting them to the states for distribution.

National Food Security Act (NFSA): The National Food Security Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India. The act was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) in 2013. The main aim of the Act is to ensure food security in India, chiefly by providing cereals at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for about two-thirds of households.

Union Consumer Affairs Ministery: The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is a government ministry of India. It was formed on 2 September 1946. It is headquartered in Sansad Bhavan, New Delhi. The ministry is divided into two departments, the Department of Food and Public Distribution and the Department of Consumer Affairs. Department of Consumer Affairs was constituted as a separate Department in June 1997. The Ministry is headed by a Cabinet rank minister. The current Minister of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is Ram Vilas Paswan. 

Recently, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution approved the integration of five states and Union Territories under “One Nation One Ration Card”. It was approved by the Consumers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Twelve states are already a part One Nation, One Ration Card plan. The states were Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tripura.

 

The main objective of One Nation One Ration Card plan is inter-state portability of ration cards. Under this plan, an individual who uses his ration card to buy food grains under the Public Distribution System can reap the same benefits if they happen to shift to another state anywhere in these 17 States and UTs by that falls under the said plan. The scheme will be very beneficial to the migrant workers. In India about 37% of the population is migrant labourers. The beneficiaries will now be entitled to lift the given quota of foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice. The government also has plans of integrating the PDS with the Depo Online System.

 National Food Security Act (NFSA): The National Food Security Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India. The act was introduced by the Government of India (GoI) in 2013. The main aim of the Act is to ensure food security in India, chiefly by providing cereals at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for about two-thirds of households.

Ration card: It is an official document issued by the Government of India. The card allows a household to buy subsidized food grains from the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act.

NTPC Limited: It refers to National Thermal Power Corporation Limited. It is an Indian Public Sector Undertaking, engaged in the business of generation of electricity and allied activities. It is a company founded on 7 November 1975. It was incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 and is promoted by the Government of India. It is India’s largest power producer & a central PSU under Ministry of Power. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The main purpose of NTPC is electricity generation and distribution natural gas exploration, production, transportation and distribution. The current Chairman and MD of NTPC Ltd: is Gurdeep Singh.

Recently, NTPC for the first time 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 Vidyut Vyapar Nigam. The initiative has been undertaken with the support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The main aim of this move is to launch hydrogen-powered vehicles at the decarbonizing quality phase. It will provide complete solutions from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle.

NCSTC: It refers to National Council for Science & Technology Communication. NCSTC functions under the Department of Science and Technology (DST). It was established in 1982. It is a scientific programme of the Government of India (GoI) for the popularization of science, dissemination of scientific knowledge and inculcation of scientific temper.

 

Recently, NCSTC, Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on COVID-19. It was launched on 30th April 2020. The programme is a comprehensive science and health communication initiative to promote grass-root level response on health.

The main objective of YASH programme is to minimize risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities and also help in encouraging public understanding of safety measures like personal sanitation and hygiene, physical distancing etc.

NCSTC, under this initiative has planned involve academic, media, research and voluntary organizations to prepare for emergency and also to address challenges. It will include health, science and risk communication software, audio-visual, folk performances, digital platforms and communicators to address the challenges. The programme will be launched in regional languages.

Indian polity

MLC: It refers to the Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad or Maharashtra Legislative Council. MLC is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of Maharashtra state in western India. It was founded on 1st May 1960 by the Government of India (GoI). At present, there are 288 members of the Legislative Assembly who are directly elected from the single-seat constituencies. The members of the upper house, the Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad (the legislative council) are indirectly elected through an electoral college. The current Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council are Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Neelam Gorhe respectively.

Recently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to conduct Biennial Election to the Maharashtra Legislative Councils MLAs. The elections of MLC by MLAs are to be held on May 21 in Mumbai in a safe environment. 

ECI on 03 April 2020 had issued an order under Article 324 to postpone the biennial elections to the nine seats from the MLAs' quota, which fell vacant on April 24. the elections were postponed by ECI in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

ECI: It refers to Election Commission of India. The ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India. The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country. It was formed on 25 January 1950. It’s headquartered in New Delhi. It functions under the jurisdiction of Government of India. 

MoEFCC: It refers to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. MoEFCC an Indian government ministry was formed in 1985. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The ministry is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating, conservation and survey of forest, flora and fauna of India, prevention and control of pollution, afforestation, land degradation mitigation and overseeing the implementation of environmental and forestry programmes in the country. The current Minister of MoEFCC is Prakash Javedkar.

Recently, The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the environment Ministry has approved the construction of new Parliament building next to the existing heritage structure. The new parliament building will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 922 crore. The Central Public Works Department’s (CPWD) proposal for “expansion and renovation of the existing Parliament building at Parliament Street” was among the projects considered by the EAC at its meetings on 22nd to 24th April.

International

11th session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue: India, recently, attended the first ever virtual 11th session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue. India was represented by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate change, Prakash Javadekar. The dialogue was hosted by Germany and was co-chaired by the United Kingdom.  Over 30 countries participated in the dialogue.

The Dialogue was held via video conferencing. The measures to tackle COVID-19, save lives and to overcome social and economic consequences of the disease was discussed at the Dialogue. In this dialogue, India suggested having a Climate Technology that is open to everyone at an affordable cost. The minister also suggested that a plan for 1 trillion USD in grants to be created to develop the world immediately.

BRICS: It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010. It was founded in 2006 and BRICS was formed in 2009. BRICS headquarter is situated at Shanghai, China. All the five BRICS members are the members of G20.

Recently, the BRICS Foreign ministers to attend COVID-19 meeting which is to be held on 28 April 2020. The meeting, to be held by the rotating chair Russia, will be convened via video conference. The event will be chaired by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. Union Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar will join his counterparts from the BRICS.

The ministers will discuss possible joint measures to fight against the dangerous, highly contagious and fast spreading COVID-19.

International Labour Day: International Labour Day also known as the International Workers' Day in some countries is also referred to as May Day. It is observed globally on 1 May every year. The Labour Day is celebrated to commemorate the happenings of May 4, 1886, the Haymarket affair (Haymarket Massacre) in the Chicago. During the era of industrialization, US industrialists exploited the working class by making them work 15 hours a day. It was only on May 1, 1886, that the labour class came together and revolted against this unjust system and asked for paid leaves, good wages and proper breaks.

The first May Day celebrations focused on workers took place on 1st May 1890 after its proclamation by the first international congress of socialist parties in Europe on July 14th 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate 1st May every year as the "Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity." The day is celebrated by the working classes and is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists and communists. This day is a national holiday for over 90 countries, including North Korea.

In India, the first celebration of the Labour Day was organised in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on1  May 1923. Labour Day is known as 'Kamgar Din' in Hindi, 'Kamgar Divas' in Marathi and 'Uzhaipalar Naal' in Tamil. It was also the first time when the Red Flag which symbolises Labour Day was used in India. The day is linked to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties.

The 2020 International Labour Day is being celebrated across the globe amid the Coronavirus pandemic. This pandemic has led to thousands of workers and labourers jobless due to economic concerns.

National

Jal Shakti Ministry: Ministry of Jal Shakti is a ministry under Government of India. It was founded in May 2019 under the second Modi ministry. This was formed by merging of two ministries which are Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The ministry was formed with an aim not only to clean the river Ganges but also encompass any international or national disputes between inter-state water bodies and the rivers which are shared by India along with other neighboring countries.  Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is the Minister of Jal Shakti while the Minister of State (Jal Shakti) is Rattan Lal Kataria.

Recently, The Jal shakti Abhiyan began for monsoon. The Jal Shakti Abhiyan is all set to combat the present health crisis which has arised due to Covid-19 outbreak and give a boost to the rural economy through its various components. The scheme aims to use the availability of large labour forces in rural areas due to the lockdown.

Under the mission, for the first time, a Joint Advisory has been issued from the Department of Rural Development, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Department of Land Resources, and Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation to all the Chief Secretaries of all States/ UTs. The guide lines has been issued in context with the approaching monsoon this year and also about the preparations that is to be done for water conservation and recharge which is of utmost importance for the country.

JSA: It refers to Jal Shakti Abhiyan. JSA is a campaign for water conservation and water security. It was inspired by the central government’s impetus on Jal Sanchay. It was launched on 1 July 2019 by Union Jal Shakti Minister, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. This abhiyan aims to focus on five aspects which are water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation.

JSA has become the largest mass movement in India that brings all stakeholders under one ambit. Under this Abhiyan, more than six and a half crore people have became a part of it and it also comprises of State Govts, Central Govt, Civil Society Organisations, Panchayati Raj Institutions, and Communities etc. As of now this scheme has covered more than 256 water stressed districts in the country.

MNREGS: It refers to the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.  The Jal shakti Abhyaan will use the MRGENS scheme in its mission to fight against covid-19 as the Ministry of Home Affairs has recently allowed MNREGS to work on water conservation and irrigation works.

The Village Action Plan (VAP) prepared by the local community for Jal Jeevan Mission will also be implemented under this abhyan

CSIR: It refers to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. CSIR was established on 26 September 1942. Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar was the Founder Director (and later first Director-General) of CSIR. It is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. It is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology and it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The main objective of CSIR was to bring science and technology to the country and develop research capabilities which would support industry.

Recently, CSIR has launched Kisan Sabha App. It is an App to connect farmers to supply chain and freight transportation Management System in the present situation of COVID 19. The app aims to provide the most economical and timely logistics support to the farmers by connecting transporters, Service providers like pesticides, fertilizer, dealers, cold store and warehouse owner, mandi dealers, customers and other related entities directly which in turn increases their profit margins by minimizing interference of middlemen and also directly connecting with the institutional buyers. It will help in providing best market rates of crops by comparing nearest mandis, booking of freight vehicle at cheapest cost thereby giving maximum benefit to the farmers.

DoNER: It refers to the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region. DoNER has directed the Arunachal Pradesh government to include the Chakma and Hajong communities in the COVID-19 relief programme.

The Chakmas and Hajongs are ethnic people. They were inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan which is the present Bangladesh. They had to migrate into India due to the construction of Kaptai dam across the Karnaphuli river in 1960s and also because the Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while the Hajongs are Hindus they faced religious persecution in East Pakistan. They still live in relief camps in India. Though they are provided the basic amenities they do not have the citizenship or land rights in India.

People In News

T. S. Tirumurti: He is an IFS officer of 1985 batch. He is currently the Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. He has recently been apponted as the next Ambassador or Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations. He succeeds Sayyad Akbaruddin following his retirement.

GoI: As part of a diplomatic reshuffle, the government also appointed the following persons as ambassadors to different countries:

1. Jaideep Mazumdar as India's ambassador to Austria. At present, Mazumdar is serving as Indian envoy to the Philippines.

2. Joint Secretary Deepak Mittal was appointed as India's Ambassador to Qatar, a country considered important in the Gulf region. He is currently serving as joint secretary in the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran (PAI) division of the ministry.

3. Senior diplomat, Piyush Srivastava, has been named India's next Ambassador to Bahrain. Currently, he is serving as Joint Secretary in the Nepal and Bhutan division of the ministry.

4. Senior diplomat Namrata S Kumar has been appointed as India's next ambassador to Slovenia.

Tarun Bajaj: He is a 1988 batch IAS officer. He was the Joint Secretary in Economic Affairs Department, looking after multilateral funding agencies division before joining Prime Minister's Office in 2015 as an Additional Secretary. He also worked as Joint Secretary and Director in Department of Financial Services.

Recently, he was appointed as the Economic Affairs Secretary. He will replace Atanu Chakraborty.

Ajay Tirkey: He is an Indian administrative Service officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre belonging to 1987 batch. He recently assumed the charge of a Secretary of Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD). He succeeds Rabindra Panwar who retired on superannuation on 30 April 2020.

Prior to assuming the charge of Secretary, Tirkey was holding the post of Special Secretary in the Ministry.  He was also the Principal Secretary to the Governor of Madhya Pradesh from 2015 to 2017. He has a vast experience in handling the portfolios of Medical Education, Labour & Employment and Rural Development in his home cadre appointments. In 2017, he worked as a Joint Secretary in the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). He has also been on deputation to the Ministry of Defence as Director and Joint Secretary from 2004 to 2009. He has not only worked as the Managing Director (MD) of State Cooperative Marketing Federation (Markfed), Madhya Pradesh but has also  served as the District Collector of  Hoshangabad, Sidhi and Raipur. He, in addition has worked in various capacities as an officer of Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh.

Places In News

Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is situated in the south-eastern part of India.  It came into existence in its present form in 1956 as a result of the demand of the Andhras for a separate state. Its Capital is Amaravati. The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh is Biswabhusan Harichandan and Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy respectively.

Recently, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S.Jaganmohan Reddy launched the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme. It was launched on 28th April 2020 amid the Coronavirus crisis. 

Under this scheme, the state government has announced fee reimbursement will be credited directly to mothers' accounts instead of college accounts in the coming academic year 2020-21. The state government will provide Fee reimbursement for ITI, B.Tech, B. Pharmacy, MBA, MCA, and B.Ed Courses. An amount of Rs.15, 000 to Rs.20,000 will also be offered for the eligible candidates through the Jagananna Vidya Deevena Scheme. 

For this purpose, the government has released Rs. 4000 Crore fund for the fee reimbursement, along with clearing the Rs. 1,880 Crore pending dues of the previous government.

Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Pradesh is a northern Indian state in the Himalayas. It is situated in the Western Himalayas; it is one of the eleven mountain states of India. Himachal Pradesh shares borders with the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the north, and the states of Punjab to the west, Haryana to the southwest, and Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh to the south. The state also has a border with the autonomous region of Tibet to the east. Its summer capital is shimla and winter capital is Dharamshala. The current Governor and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh are Bandaru Dattatreya and Jai Ram Thakur respectively.

Recently, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to launch Mukhya Mantri Shahari Rojgar Guarantee Yojna (MMSRGY) guaranteeing at least 120 days’ employment to urban livings. It is being launched to provide employment to the thousands of residents who have come back to their native place due to the Covid-19 crisis for which adequate training will be given to them for their skill upgrade.

GI Tag: It refers to a geographical indication tag. GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin and in order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.

The Chak-Hao which is the black rice of Manipur, and the Gorakhpur terracotta has got the GI tag. This was announced by Chinnaraja G. Naidu, deputy registrar, Geographical Indications.

Statehood Day: Statehood day is celebrated by Maharashtra and Gujarat on the 1st of May. It was on this day 57 years ago the present state of Maharashtra was formed. At that time, Bombay had people 

speaking various languages like Marathi, Kutchi, Gujarati and Konkani, which  did not work out so the Sanyukt Maharashtra Andolan began demanding a separate state.

The protest continued till 1960 and in the same year, the Bombay Reorganization Act was passed by India’s Parliament to divide the multilingual state of Bombay into Gujarat and Maharashtra. The legislation came into effect on May 1, 1960.

Science and Technology

JNCASR: The abbreviation stands for Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research. Scientists from JNCASR have recently developed “Berberine” based Alzheimer inhibitor. The scientists from JNCASR selected isoquinoline natural product Berberine to make a natural product based Alzheimer’s inhibitor.

Berberine which is used in traditional medicine as well as other applications is found in India and China. This research work of scientists from JNCASR has been published in the scientific journal iSceince.

ATULYA: It is microwave steriliser called 'ATULYA' to "disintegrate" COVID-19. ATULYA has been developed by Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune. The virus gets disintegrated by differential heating in the range of 56 degree to 60 degree Celsius temperatures.

This system was tested for human and operator safety and has been found to be safe. Depending upon size and shape of various objects, time of sterilisation is from 30 seconds to one minute. The approximate weight of the system is 3 kilogrammes and it can be used for non-metallic objects only. It can be operated in portable or fixed installations.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard.

Recently, NASA has honoured a 17 year old Indian-origin Girl Vaneeza by naming it's First Mars helicopter as ‘Ingenuity’. Vaneeza Rupani, a high school junior from Northport, Alabama had submitted her essay into NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest. She has suggested the name ‘INGENUITY’ for the helicopter, which was chosen among 28,000 essays.

Earlier in March 2020 NASA had announced the name for its next rover to Mars as Perseverance. Perseverance and Ingenuity are scheduled to be launched in July 2020 and land at Mars in February 2021. Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet.

 

Sports

AIBA: It is an acronym for the International Boxing Association. AIBA, originally the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur, is a sport organization that sanctions amateur boxing matches and awards world and subordinate championship. It is the sole worldwide governing body for the sport of boxing in all its forms, with 201 Member Federations. It was founded in 1946. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The current President of AIBA is Dr Mohamed Moustahsane.

Recently, AIBA has terminated the agreement of hosting rights of men’s World Boxing Championships 2021 signed in 2017 by India. The Prestigious competition, which was to be held for the first time in India, will now be held in the Serbian city of Belgrade. The reason for taking this action by AIBA is that India failed to make the payment of what is estimated to be USD 4 million on time. Now India will have to pay the cancellation fee penalty of USD 500 too.

USA National Cricket Team: The United States national cricket team is the team that represents the United States in international cricket. The team was formerly organised by the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), which became an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1965. It is headquartered in Colorado, United States (US). The Chairman of USA Cricket is ParaagMarathe and the CEO of USA Cricket is Iain Higgins.

Recently, former Karnataka batsman J Arunkumar has been appointed as the USA national team coach. He is known as Jak in the cricketing circles. He has worked with the Karnataka team for several years and as batting coach for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

The 45 year old scored over 7,200 runs in first-class cricket and over 3,000 runs in List 'A' games. He had guided Karnataka to a treble for two successive seasons namely - Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Cup in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Fed Cup Heart Award: The Award is an ITF initiative. The award was presented for the first time at the Final in 2009. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

Recently, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza became the first Indian to be nominated for the Fed Cup Heart Award from the Asia/Oceania zone along with Indonesia’s Priska Medelyn Nugrorho. She was nominated on 30 April 2020. She had recently made a comeback to Fed Cup after four years.

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