Current Affairs Today 23rd April 2020

Current Affairs

 

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1. Narendra Tomar participates in G-20 Extraordinary Agriculture Ministers Meeting

  1. The G-20 nations decided to have international cooperation in the face of COVID-19 pandemic;
  • To avoid food wastages, losses, and maintain the continuity of the food supply value chain across borders.
  • For food security, nutrition, share best practices and lessons learnt, promote research, responsible investments, innovations and reforms that will improve the sustainability and flexibility of agriculture and food systems.
  1. They Agreed to develop science based international guidelines on strict measures of safety and hygiene for zoonosis (disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans) control.

About G20:
The Group of Twenty or the G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation which brings together the leaders of developed and developing countries from every continent. It originated at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in 1999, where they gathered for high-level discussions on macro-financial issues.
1st G20 Leaders’ Summit– Washington D.C. in November 2008.

The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

 

2. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute becomes 1st in country to carry out plasma research in view of Covid-19

  • The institute has identified the potential donors for the research and started collecting their plasma.
  • The plasma collected from a recovered person was administered to a patient at the medical facility.
  • It will carry out ICMR’s multicentric collaborative study for phase-2 open level randomised control trial to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit COVID-19 associated complications in moderate disease.

ICMR’s study

i.It has launched the call for intent for the study titled ‘A Phase II, Open Label, Randomized Controlled Study to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of Convalescent Plasma to Limit COVID-19 Associated Complications’ on April 12, 2020 & added that each institute who wish to participate in the study will mandatorily need to obtain ethics clearance locally, through their Institutional Ethics Committee.

  1. Aim of the study– To assess the efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit complications in COVID-19 patients and to evaluate the safety of treatment with anti-SARS-CoV-2 plasma in coronavirus-infected patients.

iii. It has received 99 applications from institutes willing to take part in the study & the generic protocol has been approved by the Drug Controller General India (DCGI).

  1. It will collaborate with eligible institutes from the list of applicants based on the criteria- prior experience in conducting clinical studies, presence of necessary expertise, equipment and infrastructure for the study, ability to support the cost of care of study participants, Institutional Ethics Committee registered with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
  2. Each participating institute has to buy trial insurance and ICMR will reimburse the premium costs as per rules & the eligible institutes will be funded for study-related activities after the completion of the necessary documentation.
  3. Convalescent plasma therapy- antibodies from the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat severely infected patients. Currently, ICMR does not recommend this as a treatment option outside of clinical trials.

About SVPIMSR:
Headquarters– Ahmedabad, Gujarat

About ICMR:
Headquarters– New Delhi
Director General– Balram Bhargava

 

3. Government-appointed committee suggests restructure of GDP data & other estimates for states

  1. The goods and services tax (GST) to be used for estimating incomesand other statistics at the state level.
  2. In order to formulate more accurate estimates, the states should compile their own index of industrial production (IIP) rather than relying on the all-India IIP data

iii. It emphasized the need for a dynamic and sector-specific business register & for more accurate estimation, the databases of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), GST and the Central Bureau of Direct Taxes (CBDT) can be used.

  1. The GST data has yet to be made available for regular use in estimation.

About the committee:
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) on June 30, 2018  formed a 13 member committee to review the methodology of estimation of sub-national accounts ( state & district), revise the base year for national accounts or GDP calculation & suggest recommendations. It is headed by Ravindra H Dholakia, a retired professor of IIM Ahmedabad.

  • The Central Statistics Office (CSO), MOSOPI, will revise the base year of the macroeconomic indicators, as a regular exercise, to capture structural changes in the economy and to improve the quality and representativeness of the indices.

 

4. India slipped two places to 142nd on global press freedom index 2020; Norway tops

  • The World Press Freedom Index is compiled by Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), or Reporters Without Borders.
  • The index has been topped by Norway with a score of 7.84 while North Koreastood at last rank of 180 with a score of 85.82.
Rank Country Score
1 Norway 7.84
2 Finland 7.93
3 Denmark 8.13
142 India 45.33
180 North Korea 85.82

About World Press Freedom Index
Since 2002 it is published annually by RSF to rank 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists.

About RSF
It is a non-profit organisation that works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world.
Secretary-General– Christophe Deloire
Headquarter– Paris, France

5. COVID-19 could double number facing acute hunger; $350mn needed for Containment: UN GRFC 2020

  • The number of people from 50 countries in the food crisis rose by nearly 10% to 123 million people from 112 million in the 2019 edition.
  • The reports also found another 183 million were at risk of slipping into a food crisis.
  • The 10 countries faced worst food crisis in 2019 by number of people in Crisis are Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti.
  • It should be noted that the WEP estimates that $350m (£280m)needed immediately, but only about a quarter of the sum has yet been available.

Key reasons behind acute hunger:

  • On the food supply side, harvests have been good for 2020 outlook but the movement restriction to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus has disrupted the transport and processing of food and other critical goods, increasing delivery times and reducing availability of even the most basic food items which will result in a food crisis.

About GRFC 2020:
The report is compiled and published annually by a number of groups and aid organisations. The report is produced by the Global Network against Food Crises, an international alliance working to address the root causes of extreme hunger.UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), WFP and 14 other organisations.

  • It provides an analysis of the drivers that are contributing to food crises across the globe, and examines how the COVID-19 pandemic might contribute to their perpetuation or deterioration.

About WFP:
Establishment– 1961
Headquarters– Rome, Italy
Executive Director– David Beasley

6. UN member states demand ‘equitable’ access to any COVID-19 vaccines

i.The resolution was drafted by Mexico and supported by the United States (US) which encourages scientific international cooperation and coordination to fight against COVID-19 along with the private sector.

  1. This calls for the cooperation among the research laboratories and pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide efforts to develop vaccines and other therapeutics to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

iii. The resolution is to identify and recommend the options to rapidly scale the manufacturing and to strengthen the supply chain to ensure the fair, transparent, equitable, efficient and timely access of the support materials, medical supplies, laboratory testing, preventive tools, new diagnostics drugs and future COVID-19 vaccines.

  1. Earlier this month UNGA brought two resolutions,
  • Intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and the practices recommended by WHO.
  • Abandoning the trade wars and to implement the protectionist measures not applying unilateral sanctions without United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

About United Nations General Assembly:
President– Tijjani Muhammad-Bande
Secretary-General– Antonio Guterres
Headquarters– New York, United States
Founded in– 1945

7. Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl wins William E. Colby Award 2020

  • Earlier this year, this book won the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.
  • Previous winners include Karl Marlantes’ novel “Matterhorn” and Dexter Filkins’ “The Forever War.”

Gist about the award

  1. It was established in 1999 by William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at Norwich University in Vermont to recognize the 1st work of fiction or nonfiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs.
  2. It is presented by Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, and sponsored in part by the Chicago-based Pritzker Military Foundation.

iii. It is named in honor of the late Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) director, William Egan Colby.

  1. The award will be presented during the 2020 NU Military Writers’ Symposium in fall 2020.

About the author:
He is a british writer who lives in New York, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, GQ and Smithsonian.

8. PV Sindhu named as ambassador for BWF’s ‘i am badminton’ campaign

Key Points:

  1. Five years since the Integrity unit of BWF was formed and the campaign is made to be the forefront of the governing body’s effort to communicate its approach and integrity.

ii.The ambassadors of the BWF for this campaign, are PV Sindhu of India, Michelle Li of Canada, the Chinese Duo of Zheng Si Wei and Huang YaQiong, Jack Shephard of England, Valeska Knoblauch and Marc Zwiebler (Athletes Commission Chair) of Germany and Chan Ho Yuen of Hong Kong.

iii. The BWF said that the ambassadors will continue to provide the great work of the elite players in the past who fronted the campaign since 2016.

  1. PV Sindhu, an Olympic silver medallist, said that playing clean and honest is the correct way to pay respect to the sport.
  2. The idea of “i am badminton” is to share the experience of the renowned players to the target groups to increase their capacity and awareness on the importance in the anti-match manipulation and anti-doping.

About BWF:
Headquarters– Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Founded– 5th July 1934
President– Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen

Note: Started with 9 member nations and currently having 194 member nations.

9. Rakesh Sharma, Bajaj Auto Executive Director appointed as IMMA President

On April 22, 2020, Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director (ED), Bajaj Auto, was appointed as the President of Geneva-based International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association (IMMA) for a two-year mandate. IMMA represents the manufacturing industry of powered two-wheelers at the global level. He was the successor of Johannes Loman.

Key Points:

i.The IMMA Spring Congress originally planned to be held from April 20 to April 24, 2020 in New Delhi was cancelled and the election of the new President took place through a general assembly via conference call by correspondence due to the COVID-19 crisis.
ii.Sharma was elected from its member organisation, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
iii.About Rakesh Sharma: He served as the Vice-President in IMMA, after being elected in May 2019.
iv.Sharma joined Bajaj Auto in October 2007 as President (International Business). He is a member of the Board of Commissioners of PT Bajaj Auto Indonesia, a subsidiary of Bajaj Auto Limited, as well as the Chairman of the Exports Council of SIAM.

About Bajaj Auto Limited:
Headquarters– Pune, Maharashtra.
Chairman– Rahul Bajaj.

10. Facebook buys 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio, largest FDI in India’s tech sector

The US tech giant Facebook has bought a 9.99% stake in the telecom unit of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion, or Rs 43,574 crore. This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the technology sector in India.

  • The partnership will help in realizing Digital India Mission with its two ambitious goals viz. Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business.
  • The focus of the partnership is to modernize India’s small businesses which include 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, 120 million farmers, 30 million small merchants and millions of small and medium enterprises in the informal sector.

11. Pune Municipal Corporation designs ‘Saiyam app’ to track home quarantined people

Key Points:

i.About Saiyam: The application has GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking, which gives the urban administration an immediate alert in the event of quarantine citizens moving out of the house and a notification is sent to the local ward or local police, after which the family is contacted.

ii.How it works?

  • The concerned people have instructions to keep the mobile running for 24 hours and to keep the GPS open at all times. The movement of the isolates will be observed in Red, Amber or Green, as in the central observatory.
  • The red color shows that people are out of long-term; Yellow means the people are doing limited movement; green means that the people are indoors.

iii.Monitoring: The city administration has appointed teams, which will check if those under home quarantine have downloaded the app & it will regularly check for people about their health and contact them to see if different foods, bed, utensils, clothes and washrooms have been provided to the stamped people.

About Maharashtra:
Capital– Mumbai
Chief Minister– Uddhav Thackeray
Governor– Bhagat Singh Koshyari
State Flower– Jarul
State Tree– Mango Tree

12. TDB approves funds for MYLAB for production of COVID-19 diagnostic kits

Key points:

i.The TDB invited the application from Indian companies to provide financial assistance to the private limited sector for the commercialization of Indigenous technologies.

ii.MyLab Discovery Solutions is the first company to develop a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based molecular diagnostic kit to screen and detect the COVID-19 infection from the sample of infected people.

iii.The funding from TDB will be utilised to increase the production rate from 30000 tests per day to 1 lakh tests per day by updating the production facility to automation from the current manual process.

iv.The kit has been approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

About TDB:
Chairperson– Ashutosh Sharma
Founded– 1996
Union Minister of Science and Technology– Dr. Harsh Vardhan

About MyLab Discovery Solution:
Headquarters– Lonavala, Maharashtra
Executive Director– ShailendraKawade
Co-Founder– R S Mani
Founded– 2016

13. Tom and Jerry, Popeye director Gene Deitch passes away at 95

On April 20, 2020, Eugene Merril Deitch, Oscar-winning illustrator and animator, film director and producer passed away at the age of 95 in Prague, Czech Republic. He was born on April 8, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois, US (United States).
Key Points:
i.About Deitch: He was one of the directors behind world’s most popular cartoons and directed 13 episodes of Tom and Jerry.
ii.Deitch directed multiple episodes of the ‘Popeye the Sailor’ series and also directed popular animator cartoons such as Munro, Tom Terrific and Nudnik.
iii.Awards: Deitch received the “Winsor McCay” Award for his lifetime contribution to animation in 2004. He also won the ‘Academy Award’ for his Best Animated Short Film named “Munro” in 1960.
iv.He also received nominations for the same category twice in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship and another series, Sidney’s Family Tree, which he had co-produced, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958.

14. Earth Day 2020: April 22

Earth day is observed on April 22 of every year in order to create awareness about pollution and to celebrate the environment of our planet. This year is a special occasion as it marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and events was coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is “Climate Action”.  The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary. Earthday.org-PRESS RELEASES

Background on Earth Day

The first Earth Day took place in 1970. Outraged by oil spills, smog and polluted rivers, 20 million people took to the streets, protesting what they recognized as an environmental crisis. It was the planet’s largest civic event at the time and compelled governments to take concrete actions, including passing environmental laws and establishing environmental agencies.

The day continues to hold great significance around the world. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution formally recognizing the day as International Mother Earth Day. On Earth Day 2016, the United Nations formally adopted the Paris Agreement.

International Mother Earth Day: April 22

International Mother Earth Day is observed every year on April 22, to raise awareness about issues that lead to nature’s suffering. This Mother Earth Day, coinciding with the Super Year of Biodiversity, is focused on its role as an indicator of the Earth’s health.

  • IMED was established in 2009, by the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278.
  • The resolution was introduced by The Plurinational State of Bolivia and supported by more than 50 member states.
  • The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”.  Source – UN

About United Nations General Assembly (UNGA):
Headquarters– New York, United States (US).
President– Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

15. Gujarat’s water conservation scheme Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan initiated amid       lockdown.

  • As the scheme has approved during lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak, it will adhere to the lockdown protocol social distancing. Also,local authorities provide masks and sanitizers to the workers.
  • The scheme will also create employment opportunities for the rural population amid the lockdown.
  • It should be noted that soil excavated during the drive will be given free of cost to farmers.

About SSJA:       
The scheme was started in 2018 after a weak monsoon, the CM of Gujarat Vijay Rupani, to transform Gujarat from a water-deficit state to a water-surplus one. Till date, the state’s water storage capacity has increased by 23,000 lakh cubic feet due to deepening of lakes, check-dams, rivers and reservoirs. Also, de-silted soil is used for farming.

About Gujarat:
State Animal– Asiatic lion
State Bird– Greater flamingo
State Flower– Marigold
State Tree– Banyan (Ficus benghalensis)

16. Himachal Pradesh starts to use eSanjeevaniOPD

  • It can be accessed by logging into ‘in‘ & soon this facility will be available on mobile phones in the state.

Gist about  eSanjeevaniOPD

i.It is a National Teleconsultation Service of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & is the 1st of its kind online OPD (Out Patient Department) service. It aims to provide healthcare services to patients in their homes, which enables a safe & structured video-based clinical consultations between a doctor in a hospital and a patient at home.

ii.It is a Stay Home OPD & is India’s flagship telemedicine technology developed & designed by Health Informatics Group at Centre for Development of Advanced Computing C-DAC centre in Mohali, Punjab. It is a web-based system and does not require an installation.

iii.It is based on eSanjeevani,  a doctor to doctor telemedicine system which is deployed nationally for the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare at 155,000 Health and Wellness Centres under Ayushman Bharat Scheme of Government of India.

Features 

  • Patient registration, Token Generation, Queue Management, Audio-Video Consultation with a Doctor, ePrescription, SMS/Email Notifications, Serviced by State’s Doctors, Free Service, Fully configurable (no. of daily slots, no. of doctors/clinics, waiting room slots, consultation time limit etc).
  • The other states which are on-boarded on National Teleconsultation Service: Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh

About C-DAC:
It is the premier Research & Development (R&D) organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to carry out R&D in Information Technologies and Electronics (IT & E) & associated areas.
Headquarters– Pune, Maharashtra
Director General (DG)– Hemant Darbari

17. Union HRD Minister launches national program VidyaDaan 2.0 in New Delhi

  • HRD Ministry launched VidyaDaan 2.0 program for inviting e-learning content contributions.
  • The programme has been launched due to the increasing requirement  for  e-learning content for students due to Covid-19 and also integrate digital education with schooling to augment learning.
  • VidyaDaan is a common national programme to develop content and to get recognized nationally.
  • Content will be on DIKSHA app to help students to continue their learning anytime and anywhere.

Read Full News >>

 

18. BRO constructed Kasowal Bridge over river Ravi under Project Chetak

  • Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed new permanent bridge on the river Ravi connecting Kasowal enclave in Punjab to the rest of the country replacing pontoon bridge.
  • The 484-meter bridge is built by 141 Drain Maintenance Coy of 49 Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) of Project Chetak.
  • The bridge is built at a cost of Rs 17.89 crore excluding the approaches.
  • The pontoon bridge used to be dismantled every year prior to the Monsoon due to the limited load capacity.

Read Full News >>

19. TCS to power Israel’s first fully digital bank

  • India’s largest software services firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will launch Israel’s first fully digital bank.
  • TCS is the first to receive a banking license in Israel in over 40 years and is to be launched in 2021 with industry leading TCS BaNCS Global Banking Platform that helps banks offering innovative products and services.
  • The fully digital bank will have no physical branches and provide Israeli citizens with all the services that regular banks offer.