Guidelines for Quarantine issued

On April 5, 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines for quarantine. According to the guidelines, the quarantine is separation and restriction of movement. It shall be applied to an individual or a group of persons.

Quarantine

1. The Quarantine shall be preferably placed in the outskirts.
2. The Quarantine facilities are labeled as follows
3. Low Risk Areas-They are the areas that have less direct contact with the evacuees.
4. Moderate risk areas-They are the areas where the suspects use pillow, linen, clothes. In other words, there are contaminated surfaces that might comein contact with the attending health personnel
5. High risk areas-They are also called containment quarantine camp. These areas include the sample collection room, medical examination room, bathroom areas, areas of bio-waste collection, disposal, etc.
6. The Health care professionals from now on should be trained according to these guidelines.
7. The Quarantine people are tested twice a day, in the morning and evening. They are placed in quarantine for 14 days and are discharged after a final test.

Food Corporation of India sets record Movement of grains in one day

The Food Corporation has made sure that there is no disruption in the supply of essential goods to the citizens since the lock down. Abiding to its determined goal of serving the citizens, the FCI has set a new record. It has moved about 1.93 lakh tonnes of food grains in a single day on April 3, 2020

Current Scenario

In order to meet the requirements of National Food Security Act, the FCI is providing wheat and rice directly. The usual E-Auction route has currently been put on hold. This is being done to ensure there is continuous supply of food grains in the market. The GoI is supplying FCI delivered food grains through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana.
The FCI had moved 1.41 lakh tonnes of food grains during the 12 days since the beginning of lock down. Of the total food grains transported during this period, 46% were from Punjab. Following Punjab, food grains were also transported from Haryana, Telangana, Chhattisgarh. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh .

Homemade masks 70 percent effective says Governments Scientific Advisor

The government’s scientific advisor has issued a manual for homemade masks, saying that they are 70 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infection.

The central government’s principal scientific advisor on March 31, 2020 issued a detailed manual to prepare homemade masks using commonly available items such as t-shirts, old vests and handkerchiefs, saying that they are 70 percent effective in containing the spread of COVID-19.
The manual has recommended people to wear masks, especially those who are living in densely populated areas. The manual states that wearing of masks can lower the chances of coronavirus entering one’s respiratory system through the droplets left in the air by the infected person.
The manual states that reducing the chances of inhaling the virus by wearing protective masks that are properly cleaned using soap, alcohol, water and exposure to heat and ultraviolet light can be significant for containing the virus spread.

Government's Manual for Homemade Masks: Important Highlights

Double-layer masks, made from 100 percent cotton cloth, are around 70 percent as effective as a surgical mask to stop small particles from crossing through. The masks can protect against particles that are almost five times smaller than coronavirus.
The 100 percent cotton material is breathable and can be easily found around the house in the form of old t-shirts and vests. The masks made from this material are reusable.
The fabric, however, should be washed well and boiled for around 5 minutes before being used for making masks. The manual recommends adding salt to the water.
The manual, however, clarified that the reusable homemade masks only reduce the chance of inhaling the infected droplets that are still in the air and do not provide full protection.
The manual instructs that the homemade masks must be washed daily and exposed to heat. They should not be reused without washing.

COVID-19 Pandemic Worst Crisis after World War II UN Chief

UN chief stated that the combination of this COVID-19 Pandemic along with its economic impact will contribute to enhanced instability, enhanced conflict, and enhanced unrest.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonia Guterres has defined the COVID-19 pandemic as the worst crisis after World War II. The ongoing health crisis has been threatening public health across the world while also bringing a global economic recession.
At the report launch of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, the UN chief stated that the combination of this disease along with its economic impact will contribute to enhanced instability, enhanced conflict, and enhanced unrest.
Declaring the current situation as a human crisis which is much more than a health crisis, the UN chief talked about the impacts COVID-19 pandemic and how it is attacking the societies at its core.

Key Highlights:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that we are still very far to fight COVID-19 pandemic effectively. He pointed out that there are still many countries who are not following the guidelines defined by W Guterres highlighted the need for assistance from developed countries to the developing ones, especially in health care. Highlighting the mobilization of USD 5 trillion, the UN Chief mentioned that most of the money was by the developed world to support their own economy Giving massive support to the developing world, he mentioned the lack of a global package that will help in suppressing the disease and its dramatic consequence. He also talked about the International Labor Organization Report that has reported an estimate of job loss between 5 million and 25 million in 2020

UN Secretary-General suggested the following measures to overcome COVID-19 crisis:

To overcome the crisis, there must be no political games. There is a need for a large-scale response that is coordinated and comprehensive and they must be guided by the World Health Organization (WHO). Announced COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support low and middle-income countries. Hope for a positive response from the international community for tens of millions of refugees and internally displaced people. There must be an expansion of IMF capacity to issue special drawing rights for the countries that need them. Supported an idea from French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to start a G-20 initiative to support Africa.

Stranded in India Ministry of Tourism launches portal to help foreign tourists

Stranded in India? All foreign tourists stuck in India can now use Tourism Ministry’s new portal to get all the necessary information.

Stranded in India:

The Union Ministry of Tourism has launched ‘Stranded in India’ portal to disseminate information to all foreign tourists who are stranded in India. The Tourism Ministry stated that the ‘Stranded in India’ portal can be used by the foreign tourists who are stranded here far away from home, to know about all the services that they can avail to enable a safe stay. The Ministry issued a statement expressing its support to all the foreign travellers.
The Ministry’s statement read, “The world is facing an unprecedented situation. The Ministry of Tourism is with you in these difficult times.” It further read that the Ministry is truly committed towards the safety of each of them. “If you are a foreign traveller stranded anywhere in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help you get in touch with the concerned authorities,” the note read.

Significance

The establishment of ‘Stranded in India’ portal will help disseminate factually correct information to those in need and help reduce confusion and anxiety among the foreign tourists in the wake of the 21-day lockdown announced by the Indian Government on March 23, 2020. It will also help curb fake news and enable smooth evacuation of the stranded tourists in coordination with their respective governments.

Key Highlights

• All foreign travellers stuck in India can use the portal to reach out to the Ministry of Tourism or the respective state authorities to inform about their location and seek support.
• The portal comprises all information regarding COVID-19 helpline numbers and the call-centres that the foreign tourists can dial to reach out for help.
• It also provides information about the Ministry of External Affairs control centres along with their contact information. It also has information regarding the state-based or regional tourism support infrastructure. The Police came to know about this congregation being the hotspot of COVID-19 after it linked the reports of officials from Andaman, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kashmir regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths in these regions. The officials traced the travel history of these patients.
• The portal also has a help and support section where foreign tourists can register the required details to seek help or information from the concerned authorities.
• The portal also has a list of officers assigned to help tourists from specific countries.

Tablighi Jamaat Coronavirus Hotspot What is Tabligh-e-Jamaat and How it led to spread of COVID-19 in India

Tablighi Jamaat Meet turned into Coronavirus Outbreak: Around 2,000 delegates attended the religious congregation which was hosted by Tabligh-e-Jamaat during March 1-15, 2020 in Delhi's Nizamuddin.

Tablighi Jamaat Meet turned into Coronavirus Hotspot:

Delhi's Nizamuddin area suddenly emerged as one of the hotspots of novel Coronavirus in India after Delhi Police busted the Tablighi Jamaat conference at Nizamuddin Markaz. Over 1400 people have been residing together in a single six-storey building since March 1, violating social distancing norms amid the outbreak of contagious COVID-19.
Soon after the Delhi Police exposed the meet, the area was cordoned off immediately and people were evacuated and taken to the hospital directly for COVID-19 tests. Over 200 displayed the symptoms of the novel Coronavirus.
Around 2,000 delegates or worshippers attended this religious congregation which was hosted by Tabligh-e-Jamaat during March 1-15, 2020. These delegates came from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri lanka, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia and from other Indian States and UTs including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Jammu & Kashmir

What is Tablighi Jamaat or Tabligh-e-Jamaat?

Tablighi Jamaat is a global Islamic missionary movement with having a group of preachers urging Muslims to follow basic tenets of Sunni Islam such as clothes, rituals and way of worshipping. The movement was initially floated in 1926 by an Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas.rate has been lower down to 5.8 percent.For a five-year time deposit, the quarterly interest rate has been brought down to 6.7 percent. Tablighi Jamaat preachers operate from mosques, interact with Muslims and call them for 'namaz' and other seminars at the mosque.

How Tablighi Jamaat led to Nizamuddin as Coronavirus Hotspot?

Though the religious meet took place before the imposition of nationwide lockdown on March 25, it violated the Delhi Government's order banning any religious and public gatherings. The congregation of Tablighi Jamaat became a worry for Indian Government as even after the conclusion of the meet and complete COVID-19 lockdown, over 1400 people kept on living in a six-storey building of Tablighi Jamaat, creating a network of close contacts.
Of these 1400 people, 200 people displayed symptoms of deadly virus; 24 from Delhi and 11 from AP have tested positive for Coronavirus; and 6 from Telangana and 1 from J&K are dead already.
The Police came to know about this congregation being the hotspot of COVID-19 after it linked the reports of officials from Andaman, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kashmir regarding COVID-19 cases and deaths in these regions. The officials traced the travel history of these patients.

Government Slashes Interest Rates on Small Saving Schemes

According to the Department of Economic Affairs, the decision of reduced interest rates on Small Saving Schemes will come in effect from April 1, 2020.

The interest rates on small saving schemes have been slashed by the central government for the April-June quarter of the financial year 2020-2021. The decision has come after the Reserve Bank of India’s recent 75 bps cut in the interest rates at the time of economic fallout due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
The government revises interest rates on small saving schemes on a quarterly basis. According to the Department of Economic Affairs, the decision of reduced interest rates will come in effect from April 1 for this quarter.
Presently, the Ministry of Finance offers 9 types of small saving schemes and the interest rates on these schemes are reviewed every quarter. The offered schemes include Kisan Vikas Patra, Public Provident Fund (PPF), Senior Citizen Saving schemes (SCSS) and Sukanya Samriddhi.

Key Highlights

The interest rate on Public Provident Fund (PPF) for the April-June quarter is now 7.1 percent. It has been brought down by 80 bps (basic points).
The interest rate on Kisan Vikas Patra has been slashed down to 6.9 percent.
For Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme, the interest rate for the quarter is now 7.6 percent.
For National Saving Certificate Scheme, the interest rate by the government has been brought down to 6.8 percent.
For five-year recurring deposits, the interest rate has been lower down to 5.8 percent.For a five-year time deposit, the quarterly interest rate has been brought down to 6.7 percent.

United Nations India and China likely to stay away from Global Recessions

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) made a new analysis under the title “The COVID-19 Shock to Developing Countries”.

The analysis says that leading exporting countries are to face drop in investments between 2 trillion USD and 3 trillion USD in the next two years. The world economy is to go into recession in 2020-21 in spite of the G20 countries infusing 5 trillion USD. The predicted loss of global economy this year is expected to be in trillion USD. In just two months since the spread of the virus, developing countries have taken a huge hit in terms of currency depreciation, capital outflows, falling commodity prices, losing export earnings, declining tourist revenues.

India and China

The report also says that India and china are to stay out of these global recessions. However, the report did not give proper explanation for the countries being out of the recession. Recently, the ICRA, Moody’s and other leading market observers have predicted that the growth rate of India is to decline. However, they did not bring out factors that might put India in recession mode. This says that though India is to get affected economically by the virus, the impacts are to be minimal as compared to other developing countries.

COVID-19 New Technology to Disinfect Maharashtra Hospitals under NIDHI PRAYAS Programme

A new technology has been adopted by the Maharashtra hospitals in the fight of COVID-19 fight. The technology was developed by a Pune based Start Up.

The product developed is a Negative Ion Generator. It has been named “Scitech Airon”. It helps to control bacteria, virus and fungal infections. The product disinfects areas that were exposed to infections thereby it ensures well being of doctors, nurses and staffs in the hospital. The product is highly useful in quarantine facilities. The Department of Science and Technology has released Rs 1 crore to manufacture the product in a larger scale. Around 1,000 of them are to be produced soon. scale. Around 1,000 of them are to be produced soon. The technology was developed under “NIDHI PRAYAS” programme of Department of Science and Technology.

Working

The Scitech Airon machine creates negatively charged ions. These ions form clusters around viruses, bacteria and other airborne molds. They then render them inactive through chemical reactions by creating Hydroxyl radicals (OH) groups. Apart from pathogens, the machine also decomposes harmful pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, etc.

NIDHI PRAYAS

There is lack of support in the early stages of prototyping in the country/ This causes many innovators to lose interest in the early stages. PRAYAS is Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring technology entrepreneurs. It is one of the 9 programmes launched to turn the ideas of young innovators into proof of concepts.

Peak Hour Pollution flattened due to COVID-19

In Indian big cities, the peak hour pollution in the morning and evening flattened due to the lock down. The lock down imposed in the country to contain the spread of COVID-19 has brought down particulate matter of sizes less than 2.5 microns greatly.

The big metropolitans like Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad had evidential reduction of pollution level according to Centre for Science and Environment. The Centre says that the pollution levels in the peak hour has gone down by 60% in several cities.

Delhi

The Delhi Air Quality Index turned to Good from Hazardous. In Delhi, the PM 2.5 concentration levels dropped down by 57%, Nitrogen Dioxide levels dropped down by 64%. According to SAFAR, vehicles contribute to 40% of total particulate pollution in Delhi.

Data from CPCB

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, around 92 cities in the country have recorded pollution level of “Good” from “Satisfactory”.

Air Quality Index

The pollution levels are said to moderate when the AQI is between 100 and 200. It is satisfactory when the AQI is between 50 and 100. The pollution levels is categorized as Good when the AQI is between 0 and 50. The other categories are poor (201-300), very poor (301-400) and severe (401-500).

WHO criticizes India over issues faced by Migrants during Lock Down

On March 30, 2020, the World Health Organization condemned countries including India for not taking actions to address the concerns of daily workers and migrant workers.

The organization had also condemned certain states in India like Bihar and Rajasthan for suspending their routine immunization programmes. Also, the closure of outpatient departments in government hospitals especially in AIIMS was of great concern to the organization.

WHO on Anti-Malarial Drug

Only India and USA are currently using the Anti-Malarial Drug called Hydroxychloroquine on a larger scale. The drugs are prescribed for asymptomatic persons that are in close contact with the COVID-19 patients. India has also banned the export of the drug adopting wider usage. However, WHO believes that the safety of the drug to use it against COVID-19 is still not confirmed. Small observation studies show that the drug shortens illness caused by the virus.

Suggestions

The WHO recommends balanced approach in dealing with the virus. The organization recommends the approach of United Kingdom of using 20,000 retired health workers. Also, it calls upon the companies to talk to the companies to increase their production.

Rajsthan celebrates Statehood Day

Every year, Rajasthan celebrates its Statehood Day on March 30. Popularly known as “Land of the Kings”, it is the largest Indian state in area. The day is also called “Rajasthan Day

This year, the state is silent due to the lock down in the country. Usually there are radiant and invigorating events held all over the state. The state was earlier called ‘Rajputana’. It got its recognition and its name as Rajasthan when it was formed on March 30, 1949.

How was Rajasthan formed?

Rajasthan was formed with the unification of states namely Kota, Tonk, Shahpura, Pratagarh, Kishangarh, Jhalawar, Dungarpur, Bundi and Banswara. The Maharana of Udaipur joined Rajasthan after three days of its formation. The State was formally inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru on March 25, 1948. Later states like Jaipur, Bikaner and Jodhpur merged to form Greater Rajasthan on March 30, 1949 with the efforts of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. He He inaugurated Greater Rajasthan on March 30, 1949 which is till date celebrated as the Statehood Day of Rajasthan.

UP govt transferred Rs611 crore to the beneficiaries under MNREGA

CM Yogi Adityanath directed private enterprises and organizations to compulsorily give one month's salary to their employees without any deduction.

30 March 2020 Current Affairs:On 30 March, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath transferred Rs.611 crore in the accounts of 27.15 lakh Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) labourers of the state. The move comes in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

CM Yogi Adityanath directed private enterprises and organizations to compulsorily give one month's salary to their employees without any deduction:

The amount was electronically transferred to help the labourers in the situation of lockdown due to CoronaVirus. The state government informed the beneficiaries of the money transferred under the scheme. ♦ CM Yogi Adityanath directed private enterprises and organizations to compulsorily give one month's salary to their employees without any deduction. ♦ It also ordered the landlords not to charge one month's rent from any worker or labourer. Strict action will be taken on the violators. ♦ The Uttar Pradesh State Government has reported that there are no signs of community spread of the virus in the state, so far.

RBI and Finance Ministry to meet to decide on First Half Borrowing Plan

The Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India is to hold a meeting on March 31, 2020 to discuss about the first half borrowing plan for the year 2020-21. For the first time in Indian history, the meeting is to be held through video conferencing.

The Plan

According to the Union Budget 2020-21, the GoI plans to borrow Rs 5.36 lakh crore rupees. This is higher than last year borrowing which was Rs 4.99 lakh crore. With this, the gross borrowing is to become Rs 7.8 trillion. GoI has planned repayment of loans at Rs 2.35 trillion.

India’s Debts

There are several components of debts of India. The borrowings are mainly accounted as external debt of the country. The external debt of India as of December 2018 is 521 billion USD. This includes money borrowed from international financial institutions, commercial banks, IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, foreign governments, etc. India’s debts are held in different currencies. 48.2% of the country’s debts are held in dollar, 4.6% as Japanese Yen, 5.7% as Special Drawing Rights, 3.2% in Euros.
RBI's COVID-19 Regulatory Package: From Repo Rate & CRR Cuts to 3-months moratorium on term loans, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das announced several measures while addressing the media after the release of Seventh Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2019-20.

RBI's COVID-19 Regulatory Package:

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on March 27, 2020 announced a Regulatory Package on COVID-19 to tackle the impact of deadly Coronavirus on Indian Economy. From Repo Rate & CRR Cuts to 3-months moratorium on term loans, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das announced several measures while addressing the media after the release of Seventh Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2019-20.

RBI's Regulatory Package is addressed to all the commercial banks, co-operative banks, financial institutions and Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. The financial package aims to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on debt markets, infuse liquidity and ensure the functioning of possible businesses.

In this article, we have decoded the complete RBI's package which answers all your queries and doubts related to the relief granted to term loan bearers. Let's have a look at the measures announced by the RBI:

3-Months Moratorium on Term Loans:

All the lending institutions including commercial banks, RRBs, co-operative banks, NBFCs and Financial Institutions have been asked to grant 3-months moratorium on the payment of installments under all term loans outstanding as on March 1, 2020.

What does it imply?

Now, the installments of term loans which were due on March 1, 2020 can be paid until May 31, 2020. The extension of payment is valid on installment as well as interest. The Interest will continue to add on the outstanding amount during the moratorium period.

Type of Payments covered under Moratorium:

Principal , Interest, EMIs and Credit Card dues

Which loans are included under Term Loans?-

Retail Loans, Agricultural Term And Crop Loans

Note:

Retail Loans cover home loans, auto loans, personal loans, education loans and EMIs on purchase of mobiles, fridge, TV and gadgets, etc.

Deferment of interest payments for Business loans

The central bank has deferred the payment of interest for all business loans or working capital loans outstanding as on March 1, 2020 up to May 31, 2020. Businesses will be required to pay off the entire accumulated interest after the expiry of moratorium or deferment period.

Working Capital facilities:
Loans granted in the form of cash credit or overdraft
Easing of Working Capital funding through recalculation of Drawing Power

Borrowers facing stress on repayment of working capital loans granted in the form of cash credit and overdraft due to Coronavirus outbreak will now be allowed to recalculate their drawing power. The drawing power can be reassessed by reducing the profit margins or working capital cycle. This relief will be granted until May 31, 2020. Businesses which will be granted relief under this package will be placed under supervisory review to ensure that the economic fallout is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moratorium & Recalculation of Drawing Power will not result in Asset Classification downgrade

As the central bank is granting the moratorium or deferment or recalculation of drawing power facility due to economic slowdown cased by COVID-19 pandemic, this would not lead to reclassification of asset or asset classification downgrade. As this relief will not be considered as a concession or change in terms of loan agreements.

When will RBI's COVID-19 regulatory package come into effect?

RBI'S rescue package to contain the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 comes into effect from March 27, 2020 itself.

IMF says COVID-19 might cause a global recession

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a global recession in 2020. The recession could be worse than the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. It is also expected that the world economic output should recover in 2021. The information was passed by the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

♦ Many countries have taken extraordinary measures to boost health systems and protect affected companies and workers.
♦ Also, several steps have been taken by central banks of the countries to ease monetary policy.
♦ The finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 (G20) of the world's largest economies agreed on the need for solidarity across the globe.
♦ IMF has asked all the countries to work together to protect people and limit the economic damage due to the COVID-19.
♦ IMF asked its members to contribute funds to its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust in order to help the poorest countries.

ARCI developed technology to improve fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines

International Advanced Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) developed ultrafast laser surface texturing technology. The technology can improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines.

♦ Laser surface micro-texturing offers precise control of the size and shape.
♦ The density of micro-surface texture features gains momentum as a way to control friction and wear.
♦ The special feature of the technology is a pulsating laser beam creates micro-dimples or grooves on the surface of materials in a very controlled manner.
♦ The texture traps wear debris when operating under dry sliding conditions. It provides effects like enhancing oil supply that can lower friction coefficients and may enable reduced wear rate. This will improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines.

Cabinet approved the continuation of RoSCTL scheme from 1 April

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved for continuation of Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) scheme from 1 April 2020. Until then, the scheme will be merged with the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP). It is expected to make the textile sector competitive by rebating all taxes and levies that are currently not being rebated under any other mechanism.

♦ RoSCTL Scheme is an export incentive that is offered on the basis of the Freight on Board (FOB) value of the export.
♦ It will replace the Rebate of State Levies (RoSL) scheme.
♦ The introduction for RoSCTL was notified by the Ministry of Textiles in March 2019.
♦ RoSCTL will be implemented through a scrip-based system on the export of garments and made-ups.
♦ Under the scheme, the rates were notified in four schedules. Schedules 1 and 2 specify the Central and State taxes and levies for apparel and made-ups. Schedules 3 and 4 will give the Central and State taxes applicable for apparel export when the fabric has been imported duty-free under the Special Advance Authorisation Scheme.
♦ The scheme was introduced due to the increasing international pressure on export incentives provided by the Indian government.

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo passed away

Albert Uderzo passed away on 24 March 2020. He died at the age of 92. He died due to a heart attack. He was the co-creator and illustrator behind the hugely popular of the Asterix comic books.

Albert Uderzo is a French comic book artist. He was born on 25 April 1927 in Fismes, France. He created the beloved Asterix comics in 1959 in collaboration with René Goscinny. The famous character was sold worldwide with more than 370m albums, 11 films, and an Asterix theme park. In 1985, he was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honour. In 2005, he was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame, US and in 2007 he was awarded the Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

Cabinet approved MoU signed between India and Germany to enhance Railway sector

The Union Cabinet led by the PM Narendra Modi apprised a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Ministry of Railways, GoI and DB Engineering & Consulting GMBH of Germany. The MoU was signed for technological cooperation in the Railway Sector. The agreement was signed in February 2020.

♦ The MoU will freight operations, passenger operations and infrastructure building and management between the countries in the railway sector.
♦ It will enhance the development of a modern, competitive railway organization, IT solutions for railway operations, marketing and sales and administrative purposes.
♦ It will also improve predictive maintenance, private train operations between the two parties.

Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd developed first COVID-19 test kit

Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd, a Pune-based molecular diagnostics company, has developed the first made-in-India test kit for COVID-19. The kit was developed in a record period of six weeks.

♦ Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit received commercial approval from the Indian Food and Drug Administration (FDA)/Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
♦ The cost of a single kit is Rs.80,000. It can test 100 patients.
♦ Mylab has become the first Indian company to have achieved 100% sensitivity and specificity in the ICMR evaluation.
♦ The COVID- 19 kit has been made as per the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
♦ The company has assured that it can produce 1 to 1.5 lakh test kits in a week.

Cabinet approved construction of Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the construction of Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover. The construction of the flyover will be taken up by the Ministry of Railways.

♦ The total length of the Aligarh-Harduaganj railway flyover will be 22 Km.
♦ The construction of teh flyover is expected to be completed by 2024-25.
♦ The total cost estimated for the project is Rs.1285 crore.
♦ The flyover will reduce traffic and heavy detention of trains at Aligarh Junction.
♦ Flyover at Aligarh, over the existing Delhi-Howrah main line, is an operational necessity and is essentially required to remove the bottleneck to traffic movement.
♦ By constructing a flyover that connects Aligarh to Harduaganj the delays and detentions will be avoided.

FAO reports peatlands can help attain climate goals

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported that Peatlands can play a crucial role in regulating the global climate by acting as carbon sinks. The report was authored by 35 experts.

♦ The report recommended countries to restore and manage the Peatland ecosystems as these land are facing degradation.
♦ Peatlands cover only 3% of Earth's surface. The degradation of the land occurs due to drainage, fire, agricultural use, and forestry. It can trigger the release of stored carbon in a few decades.
♦ It highlighted important case studies from Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru in their attempts to map and monitor peatlands.

Man dies of Hantavirus in China

A report from China stated that a man died from Hantavirus. He was from China's Yunnan province. He died on a bus to the Shandong province. The people who travelled along with him have been tested.

Hantavirus:
Hantaviruses are a family of viruses that are transmitted mainly by rodents. It can show varied disease syndrome in people. The name varies differ in various regions. In America, it is known as "New World" hantaviruses, and in Europe and Asia, it is known as "Old World" hantaviruses. The virus is spread mainly from rodents. The infection with any of the hantavirus can cause hantavirus disease in people. Hantaviruses may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

HPS:
Early symptoms of HPS include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems.
Late symptoms, usually after four to 10 days, include coughing and shortness of breath. It can be fatal too in some cases.

HFRS:
HFRS will show symptoms from 1-2 weeks after coming in contact with the virus. In rare cases, it may take up to 8 weeks to show symptoms. Early symptoms include severe headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision.
Late symptoms include are low blood pressure (BP), acute shock, vascular leakage, and acute kidney failure.

Cabinet approved the continuation of recapitalization of RRB scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved to continue the process of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).

The Cabinet approved to provide minimum regulatory capital to RRBs for another year, that is, up to 2020-21 for those RRBs which are unable to maintain minimum Capital to Risk-weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9% which was set as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The CCEA also approved the RRB's to utilize Rs.670 crore as central government share for the scheme of Recapitalization of RRBs that are subject to the condition that the release of the Central Government’s share will be contingent upon the release of the proportionate share by the sponsor banks. Earlier, it was decided that 50% of the total recapitalization support of Rs.1340 crore will be shared by the government.

EPFO issued directions for timely credit of monthly Pension to EPS pensioners

The Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) issued guidelines for timely credit of monthly Pension to the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS) pensioners.

Highlights:
♦ India has announced lockdowns in several parts of the nation due to the pandemic coronavirus.
♦ The Central Provident Fund Commissioner (CPFC) directed the field offices of EPFO to generate and reconcile pensioners' details and pension amount statements for the current month by 25 March to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to the pensioners.
♦ He directed that the same should be forwarded to the banks in advance so that the monthly pension is credited into the account of the pensioners in time.
♦ The EPFO is disbursing monthly pension to over 65 Lakh pensioners every month under the Employees' Pension Scheme.

Harsh Vardhan reviewed measures taken by NCDC against Coronavirus

Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan visited the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Control Room and the Testing Laboratories, against COVID-19, in New Delhi on 24 March.

Highlights:
NCDC has taken a lead role in undertaking investigations of disease outbreaks all over the country. It also employs epidemiological and diagnostic tools. NCDC provides several other measures, including public health surveillance and response management, technical guidance, laboratory support, and addressing public concerns through a 24x7 helpline for COVID-19.

Centre directed states and UTs to ensure smooth operation of all print, electronic media

The Ministry of information and broadcasting, GoI, directed Chief Secretaries of all state governments and Union territories to ensure the operational continuity of all print and electronic media. The announcement is because of the misinformation that stated newspapers might be carriers of infections, coronavirus.

Highlights:
♦ The government stated that it is important to spread the news and awareness of coronavirus pandemic, to continue the proper functioning of all print and media networks to create awareness and to counter fake news.
♦ The proper functioning of the media and networks is required to create awareness among people and to keep the nation updated on the latest status.
♦ False and fake news need to be avoided, and good practices need to be promoted, and these networks play a pivotal role in ensuring the same.
♦ The Ministry also announced a list of critical infrastructure that should be kept running.
♦ It stated that infrastructure like TV Channels, News Agencies, Teleport Operators, Multi System Operators (MSOs), Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG), Direct to Home (DTH) and High end-in-the Sky (HITS), Cable Operators, Frequency Modulation (FM)
♦ Radio and Community Radio Stations (CRSs) would be used to ensure timely and authentic information dissemination.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan was sworn in as CM of Madhya Pradesh

BJP's Shivraj Singh Chouhan was sworn in as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on 23 March for a fourth term. The oath office was administered by the Governor of Madhya Pradesh Lalji Tandon. He was nominated by the outgoing leader of opposition Gopal Bhargava and supported by former minister Narottam Mishra, Meena Singh of the State.
The outgoing CM Kamal Nath resigned on 20 March after 22 Congress MLAs resigned and joined the BJP. It pushed his government into a minority. The cabinet expansion will happen after voting for the Rajya Sabha elections.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan:
Shivraj Chouhan is the 32nd Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Chouhan represents Budhni constituency in Sehore district. In 1990, he was first elected to the State Assembly from Budhni Constituency. He is famously referred to as Mamaji (meaning 'Maternal Uncle'). From 1999-2006, he represented Vidisha in the Lok Sabha. He is a 5-time Member of Parliament (MP). During his tenure, he introduced famous schemes like Ladli Laxmi Yojna, Kanyadhan Yojna and Janani Suraksha Yojna in the state.

Deadline for GST returns extended to 30 June

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has extended the last date for filing GST returns for March, April, and May to 30 June. The previous date for filing of GST returns was March 31, 2020. The deadline for composition returns on GST has been also been extended to 30 June 2020.

Highlights:
♦ The companies with less than Rs.5 crore turnover will not be charged interest or penalty for the late filing of GST. Bigger companies with a turnover of more than Rs.5 crore will have have to pay the interest amount at 9% for delayed filing of GST. No late fee or penalty will be levied.
♦ Also, the last date to opt for the compensation scheme has been extended to 30 June 2020.
♦ The last date to file income tax returns (ITR) for Financial Year 2018-2019 has been extended to 31 June.
♦ The deadline for Aadhar-PAN linking has also been extended to 30 June.
♦ Centre has made customs clearance an essential service. Hence, it will continue to operate 24/7 till 30 June 2020.

RIL sets up first COVID-19 dedicated hospital in Mumbai

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) established India's first COVID-19 dedicated hospital in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The 100-bedded Covid-19 centre is located at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai.

COVID-19 dedicated Hospital:
♦ The hospital was established by Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
♦ This first-of-its-kind-in-Indiacentre is fully funded by Reliance Foundation.
♦ The hospital includes a negative pressure room that helps to prevent cross-contamination and helps control infection.
♦ All beds are equipped with the infrastructure including biomedical equipment such as pacemakers, ventilators, dialysis machines, and patient monitoring devices.
♦ RIL Hospital has offered to set up special medical facilities to quarantine travellers from notified countries.
♦ RIL has announced initial support of Rs.5 crores to Maharashtra CM's Relief Fund to combat COVID-19.

Centre asks employers not to cut the wages of employees amid the layoffs due to Coronavirus

The Central government directed all public and private companies to ensure that they do not cut the salaries of their staff during the lockdowns imposed to curtail the spread of COVID-19. The announcement was made by the Secretary of the Labour Ministry, Heeralal Samariya.

Highlights:
♦ The government has advised public and private enterprises not to terminate the services or reduce the wages of their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers.
♦ It also stated that if any worker takes a leave, they should be deemed to be on duty without any deduction in wages.
♦ The announcement comes amidst the cases of COVID-19 rise in the country, and several states have imposed lockdowns, restricting the movement of people even to their workplaces

TN govt announced Rs.3,280 crore special relief package against Coronavirus

Tamil Nadu state government has announced an Rs.3,280 crore special relief package aginst COVID-19 on 24 March. The information was announced by the State Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisamy.

Highlights:
♦ The package includes cash assistance of Rs.1,000 each to rice ration card holders, autorickshaw drivers, and construction workers.
♦ The move by the TN state government is to provide succour for people whose livelihood has taken a hit due to preventive measures against Coronavirus.
♦ The plan will cover vulnerable sections. People having 'rice' ration cards will get Rs.1,000 each, and all cardholders shall get essential commodities, including rice, dhal, cooking oil, and sugar, free of cost in April.
♦ Also, registered pavement hawkers will also get Rs.1,000 assistance. People who have worked under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme will get two-day additional special wages.
♦ Families of migrant labourers, construction workers, and autorickshaw drivers will be given 15 kg rice, 1 kg dhal, and cooking oil for free.
♦ The relief will be distributed at the Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets through a token system at an appointed day and time to avoid crowding.
♦ If a cardholder misses the entitlement for March, he can get it along with the April ration.

Centre announces free ATM withdrawals for 3 months

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that debit cardholders could withdraw cash from any other bank's ATM free of charge for the next three months.

Highlights:
♦ There will not be any minimum balance requirement fee in the bank accounts. The announcement comes as lockdown, and the curfew is in place in many parts of India amid coronavirus pandemic.
♦ Centre has also waived minimum bank charges for savings bank accounts.
♦ Finance Ministry is also working on an economic package that will be announced soon in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cabinet approved scheme to promote medical device parks

The Union Cabinet approved a scheme to promote medical device parks for financing common infrastructure facilities. The Cabinet also approved a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to promote domestic manufacturing of medical devices.

Aim:
The scheme aims to provide a mechanism to compensate for the manufacturing disability. The target will provide financial assistance for common infrastructure facilities for four medical device parks.

SDMC launched website for information related to Coronavirus

The South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Centre has launched a website for information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

Website:
♦ SAARC has launched the website, www.covid19-sdmc.org., in aid to the pandemic.
♦ The website will show the number of coronavirus cases in the member states and update the numbers regularly.
♦ The website reported that around 960 coronavirus cases had been reported in the SAARC region. Also, five people have lost their lives in India, three in Pakistan, and two died in Bangladesh due to COVID-19.
♦ Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the website during the recent video conference with SAARC leaders and representatives of the member states. He also launched SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Funds.

DGCA released guidelines on Social distancing to prevent Coronavirus

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released a slew of measures for airlines and airports on social distancing aginst COVID-19.

Highlights:
♦ The guidelines stated to ensure adequate space between passengers and check-in counters and leaving one seat vacant between two passengers, among others.
♦ It asked to maintain adequate spacing, minimum one metre, at check-in counters between passengers and also between individual counters.
♦ Airlines should ensure the availability of adequate staff for guiding the passengers at check-in counters and during security checks.
♦ Airlines must ensure that boarding is done in a manner to avoid bunching of passengers at any time and also ensure adequate spacing between passengers in boarding lines.
♦ The airlines must provide sanitizers for staff and passengers at the entry of the aircraft.
♦ The cabin crew should maintain adequate distance while serving the passengers.
♦ Seat allocation at the time of check-in should be done in a manner to ensure that the seat between two passengers is kept empty.
♦ Any other action as deemed appropriate to ensure social distancing is maintained.

UN to create global coronavirus fund

The United Nations (UN) has announced that it is to create a fund to support the treatment of coronavirus patients worldwide. The announcement was made by Norway's Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide. A formal announcement is yet to be made.

Highlights:
♦ The move aims to provide predictability to the partners and help to make the efforts more effective.
♦ The fund will assist developing countries with weak health systems to address the crisis and to tackle the long-term consequence.
♦ Almost 340,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the world, and more than 14,500 have died.

Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to be postponed

Japanese authorities are planning to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final decision will be announced soon. It was announced by Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.

The game will not be cancelled but will be postponed. The organizers are still discussing if they could still secure the Olympic venues for all 33 sports, and for the Paralympics. Japan's official budget for the Olympic Games is around $12.6 billion, so far. The Tokyo Olympic torch relay is due to start on 26 March in Fukushima in northeastern Japan. Recently, Canada and Australia have announced its pullout from the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

ICMR recommends use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Coronavirus

The national task force for COVID-19, constituted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 for a high-risk population.

ICMR directed that the hydroxy-chloroquine should be given to high-risk population asymptomatic healthcare workers. The medication can be used to treat the suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases. The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) approved the usage of hydroxychloroquine for restricted use in emergency situations.

Hydroxychloroquine:
Hydroxychloroquine is generally used to treat malaria infections. The medication can be used with other medications to treat particular auto-immune diseases when other medications cannot be used for the treatment. Hydroxy-chloroquine will be effective against Coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. The use in prophylaxis is derived from the available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by preclinical data. Also, the drug should be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. The usage of the drug, in the initial days, has been proven efficient by the United States. Italy and South Korea have used the drug to treat COVID-19.

UP govt announces one month free food grains to poor

Uttar Pradesh govt announced several actions and measures in its fight against coronavirus. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced to provide one-month free food grains to poor people along with Rs 1,000 as compensation to daily wage workers who have been affected due to the outbreak of the deadly virus.

Corona Virus:
Around 20 lakh 37 thousand labourers registered with the labor department will be given rupees 1000 each in their accounts through the DBT scheme. One crore 65 lakh needy poor people will be provided a one-month foodstuff, including 20 kilograms flour free of cost. People under old-age pension, Divyang pension and widows and poor people allowance will be given two months advance. Owners of schools, Malls, restaurants, and hotels, and other institutions asked to provide appropriate payments to the effected laborers. The government decided that the rest of the poor people and daily wagers will be given help on the recommendation of concerned area officials.

RBI extends restrictions on PMC Bank for three more months

Reserve bank of India extended the regulatory restrictions on Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC) Bank by another three months. The central bank also added that it has been in talks with various authorities for the quick sale of securities and recoveries of loans. The validity of the directive dated 23 September 2019, stands modified from 23 March 2020 to 22 June 2020.

RBI imposed restrictions on PMC bank under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act. This was aimed at preventing a run on the bank that could end up endangering the stability of the entire financial system because of a contagion effect.These curbs were put in place after the central bank saw gross under-reporting of bad loans, financial irregularities by the bank’s officials, and failure of internal controls and systems.

RBI superseded the board and the management of the bank and appointed an ex-RBI official as the administrator at the bank.RBI has offered a plan where depositors can invest in a bond called innovative perpetual deposit instrument (IPDI) with a lock-in period of 10 years.The extension of the restrictions comes at a time when RBI and government put in place a bailout package for Yes Bank in no time, while it still has not succeeded in doing so in the case of PMC due to the constraints of dual regulation. Regulation of urban cooperative banks is split between the RBI and the Registrar of Co-operative Societies. In contrast, that of smaller co-operative banks are divided between National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and RCS. RCS reports to the central government.

CBSE launches toll-free helpline on coronavirus safeguards for students

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has launched a toll-free helpline on coronavirus safeguards for students. The facility is available on helpline number 1800118004 from 8 am to 8 pm, initially up to 31st March.

The dedicated coronavirus safeguard tele-counseling service will be provided by trained counselors who will deal with students and parents for preventive interventions, reducing transmission and counsel on first-aid to stop corona spread. They will assist students in engaging in useful and productive activities while at home. The board has postponed all exams till March 31, and evaluation work has also been suspended. Central Board of Secondary Education founded in 1962.

ICMR received several complaints against misuse of stem cell therapy

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey informed the Lok Sabha that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) received several complaints against the misuse of stem cell therapy from various sources. The complaints are considered in the National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (NAC-SCRT), and recommendations are forwarded to concerned authorities for appropriate action.
ICMR is finalizing guidelines on the clinical use of stem cells and is framing guidelines for storage and banking of stem cells.

Issues:
According to the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research, there is no approved stem cell therapy other than Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.

Defence Minister releases Draft Defence Procurement Procedure 2020

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released the Draft Defence Procurement Procedure(DPP), 2020 at a function in New Delhi. The policy is aligned with the vision of the government to empower the private industry through the Make in India initiative with the ultimate of turning India into a global manufacturing hub. The government has introduced leasing as another category to get defense equipment at affordable rates. The greater participation of the Indian industry and develop a robust defence industrial base, the use of indigenous raw materials, unique alloys, and software has been incentivized under the DPP-2020.

GoI encourages NCC Certificate holders to join Paramilitary forces

The Central government has announced that it has decided to give National Cadet Corps (NCC) Certificate holders Bonus Marks indirect entry examinations for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), as prevalent in Armed forces examinations. The move is to achieve the government's vision to increase participation of India's youth in NCC.

♦ The provision regarding this are:
1) NCC 'C' certificate holders will be given 5% of the maximum marks of the examination as bonus marks.
2) NCC 'B' certificate holders will be given 3% of the maximum marks of the examination as bonus marks.
3) NCC 'A' certificate holders will be given 2% of the maximum marks of the examination as bonus marks.
♦ The scheme awards bonus marks to NCC 'A' certificate. The award will be applicable in CAPF recruitment.
♦ Government of India urged all State governments to make similar provisions in the direct recruitment examination for their respective Police Forces in order to encourage NCC Certificate holders to join them.
♦ This decision aims to inspire youth to join NCC and ensure the availability of trained and disciplined youth to the CAPFs.

Indian Navy sets up Quarantine Camp at INS Vishwakarma

A Quarantine Camp has been set up by the Indian Navy at INS Vishwakarma in Eastern Naval Command (ENC) for Indian nationals who are being evacuated from COVID-19 affected countries. The move aims to augment India's fight against the spread of Coronavirus.

♦ The Camp has been fully equipped to accommodate nearly 200 personnel with all suitable facilities and other arrangements.
♦ As per the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the evacuated personnel will be closely monitored to ensure Social Distancing and under medical supervision by a team of naval personnel and medical professionals of ENC.
♦ As a precautionary measure, the evacuated persons will be kept under quarantine for fourteen days.
♦ Indian Navy aims to ensure adequate preventive care is provided to all evacuated personnel and to prevent the spread of the virus.

CSIR-IHBT develops a new hand-sanitizer as preventive measures against Coronavirus

Scientists of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT), Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, has developed a new hand-sanitizer as a preventive measure against Coronavirus.

♦ The natural flavours, active tea constituents, and alcohol content in the hand-sanitizer have been used as per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).
♦ The special feature of the sanitizer is it is free of chemicals like parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrance, and phthalates.
♦ The technology has been transferred to M/s A.B. Scientific Solutions for the commercial production of the hand-sanitizer as per an agreement signed between CSIR-IHBT and the company.

Resolution seeking removal of the phrase Socialism to be placed in Rajya Sabha

A resolution that seeks the removal of the phrase "socialism" from the preamble of the Constitution is to be placed in Rajya Sabha on 20 March. The resolution argued that the word is "redundant" in the current scenario, and hence it should be dropped to create space for economic thinking without a particular thought.

♦ The preamble of the Indian Constitution has declared the country to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.
♦ Socialism and secularism were not part of the preamble, which was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly.
♦ The terms socialist and secular were inserted in the preamble as part of the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976, which was passed during the Emergency. It was added to qualify the character of the Indian republic.
♦ Many groups demand to restore the original preamble.
♦ It is said that in the socio-economic developmental context, socialism is completely a redundant.

Union Government implements POSHAN Abhiyaan

Government of India is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan across the country to address the problem of malnutrition. The campaign aims to reduce malnutrition in the country. The abhiyaan will be implemented in a phased manner through a life cycle approach. It also aims to reduce combat under-nutrition, anemia among young children, women and adolescent girls and reduce low birth weight.
POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission is the Government of India's flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. It was launched by Prime Minister Modi on the International Women's Day on 8 March 2018 in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. The scheme has directed the attention of the country towards the problem of malnutrition and addresses it in a mission-mode.

Union Government implements POSHAN Abhiyaan

Government of India is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan across the country to address the problem of malnutrition. The campaign aims to reduce malnutrition in the country. The abhiyaan will be implemented in a phased manner through a life cycle approach. It also aims to reduce combat under-nutrition, anemia among young children, women and adolescent girls and reduce low birth weight.
POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission is the Government of India's flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. It was launched by Prime Minister Modi on the International Women's Day on 8 March 2018 in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. The scheme has directed the attention of the country towards the problem of malnutrition and addresses it in a mission-mode.

Tai Tzu Ying won 2020 All England Badminton Championships

Taiwan's Tai Tzu Ying won the third women's singles title in four years at the Yonex All England Badminton Championships 2020 in Birmingham, England. She defeated the defending champion, Chen Yu Fei, on 15 March.
Also, Viktor Axelsen won the All England title in the men's singles championship. He secured Denmark's first win in the event since Peter Gade's triumph in 1999.

GoI hiked Excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs.3 per litre

Government hiked the Excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs.3 per litre on 14 March. The move is due to the fall in international oil prices.

♦ Special excise duty on petrol was hiked by Rs.2 to Rs.8 per litre incase of petrol and to Rs.4 per litre incase of diesel.
♦ Government has also raised the road cess on petrol by Rs.1 per litre each on petrol and diesel to Rs.10 per litre.
♦ The increase in excise duty would result in a hike in petrol and diesel prices, but most of it is expected to be adjusted against the fall in rates that would have necessitated because of a slump in international oil prices.

Bill Gates stepped down from the Microsofts board

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board. Microsoft did not announce any replacement for Gates on the board. Gates also announced that he would be stepping down from the board of Berkshire Hathaway. Since 2004, he has served as a director of Berkshire Hathaway.

His departure reduced the number of Microsoft directors to 12. The board directors of Microsoft are John W. Thompson, Microsoft independent chair; Sandra E. Peterson, operating partner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Nadella; Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock Partners; Hugh Johnston, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Pepsico; Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Gap; John Stanton, chairman of Trilogy Equity Partners; Penny Pritzker, founder, and chairman, PSP Partners; Charles W. Scharf, CEO of Wells Fargo; Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International; Padmasree Warrior, founder, CEO, and president, Fable Group; and Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline. Earlier, in October 2018, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died of cancer at the age of 65.

RBI revised exposure limits for UCBs

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revised exposure limits for urban cooperative banks (UCBs) to a single borrower and a group of borrowers to 15% and 25%, respectively, of tier-I capital.

♦ Previously, the UCBs were permitted to have exposures of up to 15% and 40% of their capital funds to a single borrower and a group of borrowers, respectively.
♦ The revised exposure limits will be applicable to all types of fresh exposures taken by UCBs, and they will have to bring down their existing exposures, which are in excess of the revised limits, by 31 March 2023.
♦ The preceding financial year will be considered for the purpose of fixing the exposure limits, tier-I capital as on 31 March.
♦ Tier-I capital will remain the same as that prescribed for computation of capital adequacy of UCBs. The banks can have at least 50% of their aggregate loans and advances comprising loans of not more than 0.2% or Rs.25 lakh of their tier 1 capital, as per the borrower.

More the Rs.20 crore has been sanctioned under the Stand Up India Scheme

Ministry of Finance reported that more than Rs.20,466.94 crores of loans had been sanctioned under Stand Up India Scheme to over 91,000 accounts up to 10 March 2020. The information was shared by Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs.

Stand Up India Scheme:
Stand Up India Scheme was launched by the Government of India on 5 April 2016 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a part of the Department of Financial Services' (DFS) to promote entrepreneurial projects.
The main objective of the Stand Up India Scheme is to promote entrepreneurship among the scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), and women by loaning money to start a new business.
The scheme will lend bank loans between Rs.10 lakh and Rs.1 crore to at least one Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch of Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs). The loan will facilitate the borrower to set up greenfield enterprises in the manufacturing, services, or the trading sectors. The people who avail the benefits of the scheme will be informed about the online platforms, other resources of e-marketing, web-entrepreneurship, factoring services, and registration.

Indian scientists develop friction-reducing nanocomposite coatings to increase system life

Scientists from the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) developed a process for size-selective deposition of nanocomposite coatings, which can reduce the friction of these dynamic systems.

Need:
The aerospace, defence, automobile, space devices are in need to reduce friction, wear, and tear caused in the device in order to enhance the life of components. At present, to reduce friction, the dynamic systems are lubricated, which adds to the cost, complexity, and weight of these systems.

Nanocomposite coatings:
♦ The newly developed coating is of nickel tungsten-based with impregnation of particular sized Silicon Carbide (SiC) submicron particles. It uses economical and straightforward pulsed electroplating or electrodeposition process.
♦ It can provide an excellent combination of wear and corrosion resistance with the low friction coefficient and good oil retention capacity.
♦ The coating can withstand corrosion due to salt spray better than many similar wear-resistant coatings available in the market.

INST Scientists develops calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch to stop rapid blood loss during accidents

Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) have developed a starch-based 'hemostat' material, named calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch, that can stop life-threatening bleeding after a serious injury.

Calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch:
♦ The Hemostat material is a biodegradable microparticles. It concentrates the natural clotting factors in blood by physically absorbing excess fluid.
♦ The microparticles were prepared by modifying some of the chemical hydroxyl groups on starch to carboxymethyl groups and incorporating the beneficial calcium ions. This combination increases the aggregation of red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets and speeds up the activation to generate the fibrin protein network that forms a stable blood clot.
♦ The microparticles form a cohesive and adherent gel within 30 seconds after contact with blood in lab tests.
♦ The material has increased absorption capacity, improved absorption, inexpensive, biocompatible, and biodegradable.
♦ It is a versatile, potentially life-saving, and inexpensive product that will bring a realistic solution for lower-income economies worldwide.

GoI saves more than Rs.12 crore pa after implementing 2013 DPCO

Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers reported that the Ministry had saved the total saving of Rs.12,447 crores per annum to the public after the implementation of the DPCO, 2013. The information was passed by the Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri. D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

DPCO, 2013:
♦ According to the provisions of Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 (DPCO, 2013), the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was empowered to fix the ceiling price of scheduled formulations adopted from the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and new drugs.
♦ It also monitors the prices of non-scheduled formulation so that their maximum retail price (MRP) is not increased by more than 10% of MRP during the preceding twelve months.
♦ NPPA also fixed the ceiling prices of 530 scheduled formulations under NLEM, 2011.
♦ The Schedule-I of the DPCO, 2013, as amended by adopting NLEM, 2015.
♦ The NPPA also fixed the ceiling prices of 866 scheduled formulations under NLEM, 2015.
♦ NPPA fixed prices of 106 Anti-diabetic and Cardiovascular drugs under DPCO, 2013 in Public interest.
♦ NPPA capped the Trade Margin 42 select Anti-cancer medicines under Trade Margin Rationalization, and the price of above 500 brands of medicines was reduced up to 90%.

Prachi Salve, Pradeep Dwivedi won 2019 Road Safety Media Fellowship award

Prachi Salve of India Spend and Pradeep Dwivedi of Dainik Jagran jointly won the top prize in the Road Safety Media Fellowship 2019. The award recognized their contribution towards reporting on road safety by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS). The awardees were selected by a three-member jury.

♦ Journalist B. Raveendra Shetty of Vijay Karnataka and Purnima Singh of Times Now Hindi shared the second prize.
♦ The third prize was jointly won by Kishor Dwivedi, Press Trust of India (PTI), and Sangamesh Menasinakai, The Times of India.

RBI to use swap transactions, LTRO to infuse liquidity

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that, in the wake of the epidemic Covid-19, the central bank would use Forex swap and long-term repo operations (LTROs) to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 on the Indian Economy.

♦ RBI will conduct a sell/buy swap auction worth $2 billion to provide dollar liquidity. RBI also stated that it would not hesitate to persist with LTROs to infuse long-term rupee liquidity, amounting to Rs.1 lakh crore.
♦ RBI is to undertake another six-month US dollar sell/buy swap auction that aggregates to $2 billion on 23 March. The move by RBI aims to provide liquidity to the foreign exchange market.
♦ RBI is to conduct LTRO in multiple tranches of appropriate sizes up to a total amount of Rs.1 lakh crore at the policy repo rate. It aims to counterbalance the domestic liquidity effects of the swap and to improve monetary policy transmission further.

GoI announced blanket travel ban in response to Coronavirus

Government of India has suspended visas for visitors from all other countries for at least a month in response to the coronavirus pandemic. India has drastically limited the number of people entering the country. The announcement was approved and announced by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The blanket ban by India was criticized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ban:
♦ India has banned travellers from the European Union (EU), Turkey and the United Kingdom (UK) are prohibited from entering India between 18-31 March 2020.
♦ The ban on EU includes 27 countries across Europe and European free trade association's (EFTA) four members Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
♦ The airlines have been urged to enforce the move at the port of initial departure.
♦ The measure effectively bans all tourism to India until at least 15 April.
♦ The announcement came as the number of corona virus cases increased to more than 100 (as on 15 March 2020) in India.

President nominated former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha

Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was nominated to Rajya Sabha on 16 March 2020. He was nominated by President Ram Nath Kovind. His nomination to the upper house was made against the vacancy created due to the retirement of senior lawyer KTS Tulsi. There are 11 other nominated members in the Rajya Sabha.

Ranjan Gogoi:
Ranjan Gogoi was retired on 17 November 2019. He is the first person from the northeast region to reach the top of the judiciary. He served as the Judge of Gauhati High Court from 28 February 2001 to 8 September 2010. In September 2010, he was appointed as the Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He then served as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on 12 February 2011. In 2012, he served as the Judge of the Supreme Court of India. On 3 October 2018, he replaced Justice Dipak Misra as CJI. He was appointed as CJI by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind.

India to provide 107.01 million Nepali Rupees for three new school buildings in Nepal

Indian government will provide 107.01 million Nepali Rupees for three new school buildings in Nepal. Embassy of India and Nepal’s Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Mahakali Municipality, Darchula, and Mukhiyapatti Musharniya Rural Municipality, Dhanusha in Kathmandu today for the construction of two new school buildings.

India-Nepal Development Partnership program
India-Nepal Development Partnership program at an estimated cost of 73.96 million Nepali Rupees. The new infrastructure will be used by Shree Malikarjun Higher Secondary School at Dhap in Darchula district and Baidyanath Devnarayan Public Higher Secondary School at Tulsiyahi in Dhanusha district. The Government will provide funds while construction work, including a call for tender, the award of work and day to day supervision, will be by Mahakali Municipality, Dharchula, and Mukhiyapatti Musharniya Rural Municipality, Dhanusha. The projects will be monitored at the federal level by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration of Nepal and Embassy of India.The government of India also committed an amount of 33.05 million Nepali Rupees for the construction of new school buildings for Shivbhari School, Mahrajgunj Municipality in Kapilvastu district. The Embassy of India handed over a cheque of 8.26 million Nepali Rupees as the first installment of its total commitment to the District Coordination Committee Kapilvastu.

Anganwadi Workers were given Smart Phone for ICDS-CAS

Anganwadi Workers are provided with Smart Phone through States for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)-Common Application Software (CAS) developed under POSHAN Abhiyaan. Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani announced the information.

♦ The aim of distributing Smart Phone will enable efficient service delivery and efficient monitoring.
♦ POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to provide Smart Phone-based mobile Application to all Anganwadi Centres across 36 States/UTs.
♦ As of 29 February 2020, more than 6.25 lakh Anganwadi Workers across 28 States/UTs are using the application for service delivery.
♦ Due to the delay in the procurement of smartphones by the States, some states have not yet provided the smartphones to the Anganwadi Workers.

Eric Horvitz appointed as CSO of Microsoft

Microsoft has appointed Eric Horvitz as its first-ever Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). He will provide cross-company leadership on advances and trends on scientific matters and on issues and opportunities arising at the intersection of technology people and society.

The team under Horvitz will advise the company on its scientific directions and capabilities, including standing up new initiatives, providing guidance on company priorities, and assessing important areas for investment in science and technology.

Horvitz who joined Microsoft in 1993. He was a Technical Fellow and Director at Microsoft's Research Labs. He has co-chaired the company's Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER) Committee.

Maharashtra approved renaming Mumbai Central Terminus station as Nana Shankarseth Terminus Station

The Maharashtra state cabinet government approved the renaming Mumbai Central Terminus station as Nana Shankarseth Terminus Station or Jagannath Sunkersett. The proposal will be sent to the Ministry of Railways for its approval. The proposal was initiated by the transport ministry headed by Anil Parab.

Jagannath Sunkersett was born on 10 February 1803 in Mumbai. He was a very reliable businessman. He was one of the first directors of India's first railway company. Along with Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Sunkersett founded the Indian Railway Association in 1845. Sunkersett and Jamsetjee were the two Indians among the ten directors of the Great Indian Peninsula (GIP) railways. He founded the Bombay Association, the first political organization in Bombay Presidency, on 26 August 1852. The philanthropist and educationist died on 31 July 1865.

Google launched a tool to help developers make websites more color blind friendly

Google launched a new Chrome tool that will allow developers to tune their websites for visual impairments like color blindness to help them fix accessibility issues on their sites.

♦ The developers can use this feature by launching Google Chrome.
♦ The developers can head to the browser's Developer tools. Choose More tools, then select Rendering and Emulate visual deficiencies.
♦ The emulate vision deficiencies features a drop-down menu of vision limitations.
♦ The developer should select one from the menu, such as tritanopia (a condition where a person cannot distinguish the colors blue and yellow).
♦ It would allow developers to mimic the condition, changing the colors of their site so they can see if it's difficult to read without those specific colors.
♦ Google's new developer tools follow the release of Firefox's visual disability dev tools.

GoI might approve license for persons with Colour blindness

Government is planning to approve licence for the persons with Colour blindness. People with a mild or moderate colour vision deficiency may get to drive commercial vehicles too.

♦ Ministry of road transport is to prepare draft norms after a panel of ophthalmologists from AIIMS gave its recommendations on this issue.
♦ For this purpose, the Ministry had referred the case to AIIMS to seek its view after receiving it.
♦ The AIIMS panel stated that the European Union had dropped the provision of colour blindness to obtain a driving licence while in the US, licences are not issued to such persons for driving commercial vehicles.

Colour blindness or colour vision deficiency is the inability or decreased ability to perceive colour differences under normal light conditions. By debarring people with colour blindness impacts around 3% population. In India, the prevalence of congenital colour blindness is about 8% in males and 0.5% in females.

Newly discovered treehopper species named after Lady Gaga

A newly discovered species of treehopper was named after the performer Lady Gaga. The insect species has been named as Kaikaia Gaga. It was named by Brendan Morris, a University of Illinois, a Ph.D. entomology student.

Kaikaia Gaga is a part of the family Membracidae. The species is around 40 million years old. K. gaga was found nearly 30 years ago in a tropical forest near the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. The bugs are known for their bright coloring and individuality in appearance. It sings to each other by vibrating plant stems.

Astronomers found Iron raining exoplanet

Astronomers from Spain's Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) has discovered an exoplanet WASP-76b where it "rains iron." The conditions of the exoplanet was discovered by Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO). The high-resolution instrument is installed on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

♦ Exoplanet WASP-76b is located 360 million light-years away, toward the constellation Pisces.
♦ It has days when its temperatures exceed 2,400 degrees Celsius (4,352 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature is hot enough to evaporate metals.
♦ At nights, with strong winds, cool down the iron vapor so that it condenses into drops of Iron.
♦ The planet always keeps the same face towards its star as it rotates around it.

Tiger Woods to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of fame

Tiger Woods is to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of fame in its class of 2021. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in December 2020, once the age of entry was lowered from 50 to 45. Woods has won 15 majors and a joint record 82 times on the PGA Tour. The 44-year-old won the Masters at Augusta in April 2019 for his 15th major.

Eldrick Tont Woods, nicknamed as Tiger, is a USA's professional golf player. He ranks second in both major championships and the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA). He holds numerous records in golf and is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time.

India Post launched free digital parcel locker service

The Department of Posts has introduced a free digital parcel locker service in the city from 11 March for the first time in India. The Chief Post Master General, West Bengal Circle, Gautam Bhattacharya, inaugurated the service from the Nabadiganta IT Post Office.

♦ Free digital parcel locker facility will be available in two post offices in Kolkata, one in the Nabadiganta IT Post Office in Sector 5 of Salt Lake City and two another in New Town.
♦ The locker will enable customers to collect their consignment from specified post offices at their convenience.
♦ The facility is popular in European countries. It will be limited to consignments received through registered post or speed post.
♦ This facility will be given for the working people who cannot receive parcels because they have no one at home to receive consignments during office hours.
♦ Specific locker number will be given to a customer, where India Post will drop the parcel. The consignments will be dropped into the digital parcel locker, and an SMS will be issued along with an OTP number to the customer concerned.
♦ The consignment will remain accessible to customers for seven days during which they can collect the parcel at any time of the day.

India offered 600 tonnes of rice to flood victims of Madagascar

India offered 600 tonnes of rice to flood victims of Madagascar. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Shardul brought the relief material and arrived at Port Antsiranana in Madagascar. This is The second delivery of relief materials was handed over by Ambassador Abhay Kumar to Madagascar Foreign Minister Tehindrazanarivelo Djacoba Liva. The rice is to be distributed to the people who are affected by cyclone Diane that hit Madagascar coast in the month of January 2020.

Centre approves 4 percent hike in DA to 21 percent

The Union Cabinet approved a 4% hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) to 21% for 48 lakh government employees and 65 lakh pensioners. The announcement was made by the Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar. The government will incur Rs.14,595 crore additional expenses due to the hike.

♦ DA is provided by the government to its employees as the impact of the rising cost of living. Inflation or the rate of increase in prices reduces the buying power of money.
♦ For instance, if the annual inflation is 5%, it means that the commodity would cost Rs.100 in the first year, Rs.105 in the second. If the employee has a salary that allows her to spend Rs.100 on that commodity, she will be able to buy that commodity in the first year.
♦ GoI calculates DA by using the All India Consumer Price Index-based inflation rate as a broad marker. In case of greater effectiveness, the DA is revised twice a year.

Assam to construct 33 stadiums under Uttran scheme

The Assam government has announced that it is to construct 33 stadiums in the state under the Uttaran scheme. It was announced by the Principal Secretary of Sports Avinash Joshi and Joint Director Kamaljit Talukdar.

♦ A total sum of Rs.300 crore will be spent to build the stadiums across the state.
♦ Also, 500 playgrounds will be developed at the state to encourage rural talents.
♦ The state of the art sports facilities are being set up in Assam.
♦ Rs.50,000 will be given to 1000 players and 2500 clubs to get a grant of Rs.75,000.

UP launched schemes for skill development, employment generation for youths

Uttar Pradesh State government has launched three schemes, namely Kaushal Satrang, Yuva Hub, and an apprenticeship scheme for skill development and employment generation for youths in the state. It also has announced to depute Arogya Mitras at all primary health centres to inform people about govt health schemes. The schemes were launched by Chief Minister of state Yogi Adityanath.

♦ The state's industrial sector had received private and public sector investment of nearly Rs.3 trillion in the past 3 years.
♦ All three schemes are dedicated to generating employment and self-employment opportunities for the youth of the state.
♦ Kaushal Satrang scheme has seven components that will provide opportunities to the youth.
♦ The state has allocated Rs.1,200 crore for the Yuva Hub scheme in the state budget. The scheme aims to provide employment to thousands of skilled youth by assisting in project concept and financial help for one year of operation.
♦ CM apprenticeship scheme will provide a stipend of Rs.2500 to the youth of the state.

World Kidney Day is observed on 12 March

World Kidney Day is observed on 12 March. It is celebrated on the second Thursday of March every year. The day aims to create awareness and educate people about the importance of kidneys to overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and associated health problems worldwide. As a part of the 2020 campaign, the #MyGr8Rule challenge was launched on 8 February. The theme of the 2020 World Kidney day is "Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere–from Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care." The theme stresses the need to strive for kidney health for everyone everywhere. The theme also highlights to focus on the importance of preventive interventions to avert the onset and progression of kidney disease.

♦ The day highlights that diabetes and high blood pressure are key risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD).
♦ It encourages the systematic screening of all patients with diabetes and hypertension for CKD.
♦ It also encourages preventive behaviors and educate all healthcare professionals about their key role in detecting and reducing the risk of CKD.
♦ The day encourages transplantation as a best-outcome option for kidney failure, and the act of organ donation as a life-saving initiative.

GoI, World Bank signs loan agreement on Integrated Project for Source Sustainability and Climate Resilient

The World Bank signed an $80 million loan agreement with the Government of India, Government of Himachal Pradesh on 11 March 2020. The aim is to improve water management practices and increase agricultural productivity in selected Gram Panchayats in Himachal Pradesh. The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a final maturity of 14.5 years, including a grace period of 5 years.

♦ The Integrated Project for Source Sustainability and Climate Resilient Rain-Fed Agriculture will be implemented in 428 Gram Panchayats in 10 districts in Himachal Pradesh.
♦ The project includes setting up of hydrological monitoring stations to monitor water quality and quantity.
♦ It is expected that it will benefit over 400,000 smallholder farmers, including women, and pastoral communities.
♦ The project aims to make the best use of all available technologies and resources to increase water-use efficiency.
♦ It will improve upstream water sources in pastures, forests, and grasslands.
♦ The project will enhance the climate resilience of agriculture and its allied activities and also ensure sufficient water is available for sustainable agriculture both in Himachal Pradesh and in downstream states.

Maharashtra approves a bill on caste validity certificate

Maharashtra State Assembly approved a bill on caste validity certificate. The Bill was unanimously passed by the Maharashtra state assembly on 11 March 2020.

Provision:
♦ The Bill will allow gram panchayat members to submit their caste validity certificates within a year of winning elections.
♦ The Bill will ensure that the aspiring candidates are not barred from contesting the elections if they do not have a caste validity certificate.
♦ At present, the candidate will have to submit his/her caste validity certificate at the time of filing of nominations. The social justice and rural development departments were working on a comprehensive policy to expedite the process of providing the validity certificate to those having caste certificates.

GOKADDAL-worlds first Digital Solutions Exchange cloud launched in India

The world's first Digital Solutions Exchange in the cloud "GOKADDAL" has been launched in India. GOKADDAL will revolutionize the way digital solutions are sourced, delivered, and managed.

♦ The cloud-based platform is created to help the customers realize their digital transformation vision by bringing them the right solutions with the right tools and right providers.
♦ www.gokaddal.com is a marketplace and cloud delivery platform. The platform focus on Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, and Augmentative Technologies.
♦ GOKADDAL will create a new and significant revenue base for the solution providers.
♦ GOKADDAL provides features including Solution search, compare, use EOI/Bidding process to select the right solution in the right budget.
♦ For customers, it offers access to customer queries, EOI/bids, offer special offerings, and participate in solution events to showcase its capabilities.

Parliament passed amendments to IBC Amendment Bill

Parliament passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020, on 12 March 2020. It was earlier passed in Lok Sabha on 6 March. The Bill will now replace an ordinance passed in 2019.

♦ The amendments will introduce a mechanism to incorporate viable changes in the legislation.
♦ The Bill will remove bottlenecks and streamline the corporate insolvency resolution process.
♦ It aims to provide protection to new owners of a loan defaulter company against prosecution for misdeeds of previous owners.
♦ The creditors can initiate an insolvency resolution process if a company defaults on its payments.
♦ It empowers the resolution professional to require suppliers to continue providing goods and services.
♦ The Bill provides that the company will not be liable for any offence committed prior to the insolvency resolution process if there is a change in the management or control of the company.

Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 introduced in Lok Sabha

The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 12 March. The Bill was introduced by the Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

♦ The Bill will provide for the regulation, operation, and planning of major ports in India and to provide greater autonomy and flexibility in decision-making.
♦ The Bill is not aimed at the privatization of government ports. The number of labour trustees will remain the same as earlier.
♦ The Bill will provide the ports greater autonomy and flexibility to major ports in decision-making as they have to compete with the private sector.
♦ The Bill proposes to repeal the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

India ranks second as the most promising source of disruptive technology

According to KPMG's "2020 Global Technology Industry Innovation Survey" report, India shared the second position with China as the most promising source of disruptive technology in the world. The report was topped by the United States as the most promising market for developing disruptive technologies.

♦ The report ranked countries that are committed to setting up strong innovation ecosystems.
♦ In terms of the world cities, it highlighted that Silicon Valley/San Francisco would be leading technology innovation hubs over the next four years. Under this category, Bengaluru entered the top 10 list and ranked ninth. Mumbai was ranked 16th.
♦ In terms of hubs globally outside Silicon Valley, Singapore topped the global rankings for the year 2020. Singapore offers strong government support, advanced IT infrastructure, IP protection laws, and a deep pool of talent. It was followed by London, Tel Aviv.

India ranked second as the better-performing countries in the API list

The international animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection, released the global Animal Protection Index 2020. India has ranked second as the better-performing countries in the Animal Protection Index (API).

♦ The aim of API is to showcase where countries are doing well, where they fall short on animal welfare policy and legislation, in order to take steps to improve.
♦ The index ranks countries from A, being the highest score, to G, being the weakest score.
♦ India secured a 'C' ranking in the index, along with countries like Spain, New Zealand, Mexico, and France.
♦ India has strong laws on the protection of animals, and the welfare of dairy animals is yet to part of any such law. This index highlighted the work that still needs to done to protect every animal.
♦ New research reveals poor animal welfare practices will provide a perfect breeding ground for viruses to mutate and spread while trading.
♦ If animal welfare laws aren't improved, the risk of disease outbreaks becoming more frequent is high.
♦ World Animal Protection assessed the animal welfare policies and legislation of 50 countries.
♦ The report highlighted the lack of adequate animal welfare laws.
♦ The index is aimed to help countries to put in place good animal welfare practices such as keeping animals clean, healthy, and with sufficient space to exhibit natural behaviours.

Rajesh Chaplot honoured with Ugandas Highest Civilian Award

Rajesh Chaplot, a distinguished Non-Resident Indian (NRI) businessman, was honoured with the Highest Civilian Award "Golden Jubilee Medal-Civilians" of Uganda. The award was conferred by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, in a ceremony in Kampala. Chaplot was awarded for his excellence in the field of Business and Commerce, Social Service and for fostering better India-Uganda ties.

Chaplot is from Udaipur in Rajasthan. He has also received Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, which is the highest award for overseas Indians. It was conferred by President Ramnath Kovind in Varanasi 2019. He received his degree from The Institute of Charted Accountants of India, New Delhi. Chaplot migrated to Africa in 1996. He is presently spearheading several companies and business associations in Uganda and Congo in different roles like Managing Director, CEO, Director, and Board Member. He also served as the Chairman of the Indian Association of Uganda, Secretary-General of Indian Business Forum Uganda, and the Board Member, Uganda Manufacturers Association.

India invokes 123-year-old Epidemic Disease Act

GoI is to invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. The 123-year old Law is to be invoked in order to limit the spread of the outbreak. The announcement comes after WHO declaring COVID-19 as GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

♦ The Central government has declared that all the states and Union Territories (UTs) should invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
♦ The move comes as COVID-19 cases crossed the 70 mark on 12 March.
♦ The Act is meant to contain dangerous epidemic diseases.
♦ The Law confers special powers upon local authorities to implement measures necessary to control epidemics.
♦ Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 states that When at any time the State Government is satisfied that the State is threatened with an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the State Government, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person. It is necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred, including compensation if any, shall be defrayed.

JK sets up Delimitation Commission

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has set up the Delimitation Commission for the process of delimitation of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies. The Commission was formed under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. The members of the Commission are Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Shushil Chandra and election commissioners of J&K, and the four North-Eastern states will be ex-officio members of the Commission.

The delimitation in the UT of J&K will be based on the 2011 Census due to an amendment in the J&K Reorganisation Act.
Delimitation will be carried out as per the provisions of the J&K Reorganisation Act that split the J&K state into two UTs of Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without an assembly.

Chalasani Venkat Nageswar gets additional charge as CFO of SBI

Chalasani Venkat Nageswar was given the additional charge of Deputy Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of State Bank of India (SBI) on 9 March with immediate effect.

Founded on: 2 June 1806 (as Bank of Calcutta), 15 April 1840 (as Bank of Bombay), 1 July 1843 (as Bank of Madras), 27 January 1921 (as Imperial Bank of India), 1 July 1955 (as State Bank of India). The public sector bank (PSB) is the largest bank in India, with a 23% market share. GoI took control of the Imperial Bank of India (present SBI) in 1955. RBI holds a 60% stake in the bank.

CSW64 of UN adopted political declaration on womens rights

The UN's 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) was held on 9 March 2020 in New York, US. During the meeting, the United Nations adopted a stripped-down political declaration on women's rights. The declaration sought to preserve gains under threat but does not advocate new ways to ensure progress toward equality.

CSW64 is the United Nations' largest gathering on gender equality and women's rights.
It aims to build consensus and commitment to policy actions on this issue.
The adopted declaration will be in line with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995, which sought to promote women's emancipation and advancement around the world.
The declaration expressed the UN's concern that overall, progress has not been fast or deep enough, that in some areas progress has been uneven, and that major gaps remain.
The session pledged to fight against human trafficking and modern slavery and other forms of exploitation. It also ensures just treatment and provide support services for all women victims of violence.

Gujarat topped the list in the installations of solar rooftop plants

As per Government data, Gujarat has topped the list in the installations of solar rooftop plants. It is followed by Maharashtra. The aim of the installations of solar rooftop plants is to achieve renewable power generation goals.

As of 2 March, a total of 79,950 systems have been installed across the country with a combined capacity of 322 MW.
Gujarat has installed about 50,915 systems being fixed on domestic rooftops in the State. The total capacity of the system is 177.67 MW.
Gujarat has adopted "Surya Gujarat," a solar rooftop scheme that covers about 8 lakh domestic electricity consumers under the scheme by 2022.
Maharashtra has about 5,513 installations of solar rooftop plants.

Under the scheme, Gujarat relaxed subsidy criteria for domestic users with up to 40% subsidy on the cost of projects up to 3 kWh capacity, while 20% subsidy assistance is being provided for projects with a capacity between 3 and 10 kWh. The state government has also allotted Rs.912 crore for the scheme. The electricity that is generated thus will be used for households, and the excess units are purchased by the Gujarat State discoms at the rate of Rs.2.25 per unit.

India listed as the worlds second-largest arms importer as per SIPRI

India stands as the world's second-largest arms importer as per the "Trends in international arms transfers 2019" report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data. The data was released on 9 March. Saudi Arabia topped the list. Also, India has ranked 23rd position among the top 25 weapon exporters.

1) Saudi Arabia registered 12% of the total global arms imports.
2) India accounted for 9.2% of the total global arms imports during the year 2015-2019.
3) China stood at fifth position with 4.3%.
4) Pakistan stands at 11th with 2.6%.

It stated that India has been taking steps to modernize its armed forces by acquiring helicopters, combat jets, submarines, warships, artillery guns, and assault rifles from countries like Russia, the US, France, and Israel.
India's major exporters are Mauritius, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Russia was the largest supplier to India during 2010-14 and 2015-19 and followed by the US, the second-largest arms supplier during 2010-14.

CISF celebrated 51st raising day on 10 March

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) celebrated the 51st raising day on 10 March. The day was celebrated by CISF personnel and their families. On the raising day, a parade was established by the CISF officials.
Service Personnel were awarded medals for distinguished and meritorious services. PM laid a wreath at the Martyr's Memorial. The day is celebrated to create awareness to cooperate with the CISF to maintain peace and security in the country.
CISF was established on 10 March 1969. It is a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in India. There are around 2,800 personnel in CISF. It functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs. CISF is headquartered in New Delhi. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is the Minister in charge of the force. The Director-General of CISF is Rajesh Ranjan, IPS. CISF protects the country from some vital installations in the aerospace, nuclear, government, and private sectors. It also plays a major role in Disaster Management.

PV Sindhu was awarded the 2019 BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year

Top Indian shuttler PV Sindhu won the BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year 2019. The award ceremony was hosted by BBC Director-General Tony Hall. Also, Veteran athlete PT Usha was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. She was awarded for her contribution to Indian sports and for inspiring generations of players.
PV Sindhu became the first Indian to win the BWF World Championships in the year 2019. She has secured five world championship medals. She is the first Indian singles badminton player to win an Olympic silver medal.
She competed with four other strong nominees, namely Mary Kom (boxing), Vinesh Phogat (wrestling), Dutee Chand (athletics), and Manasi Joshi (para-badminton).

Mahim Verma is to resign as BCCI vice president

The current Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) vice president Mahim Verma is to resign from his post. The announcement comes after his win in the election for the post of secretary at the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU).
Mr. Verma was appointed as BCCI's vice president in 2019. He filed his nominations for the elections at the Uttarakhand state association on 28 February. He vowed to improve the cricketing infrastructure in the state as he was elected as the secretary of the CAU.
The Indian cricket board will hold a fresh election for the post of vice president in 45 days after Verma officially resigns. Rajiv Shukla, the former IPL chairman, has been nominated for the post.

Amit Panghal, Lovlina Borgohain won bronze medal in the Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers

Boxers Amit Panghal and Lovlina Borgohain won the bronze medal in the Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers held in Amman, Jordan. Both the boxers had already claimed their place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Borgohain secured 0-5 and lost to China's Hong Gu in the 69kg weight category. Pangal was defeated by China's Jianguan Hu in the 52 kg category.
In a total of five Indian boxers, namely Vikas Krishan in 69kg category, Lovlina Borgohain in 69kg category, Pooja Rani in 75kg category, Ashish Kumar in 75kg category and Satish Kumar in +91kg category, secured their seats at the Olympics.
Five qualification series of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments are conducted across all continents and 286 Olympic spots. The qualification series is hosted at Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, and Paris.

Centre approved for the construction of Delhi-Baghpat highway

Centre approved the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to construct the first phase of a new highway at a distance of almost 170km. The highway will connect east Delhi's Akshardham to Uttarakhand's Dehradun.
The proposed new highway is expected to reduce travel time between Delhi and Dehradun by at least two-and-a-half hours.
The estimated time for the project is five years. The first phase will connect Akshardham with west Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat by a six-lane highway. It will cover a distance of 32km, out of which 14.7km in Delhi and another 17.5km under the jurisdiction of Uttar Pradesh. It will connect important locations like Loni, Saharanpur, Mohand, and Ganeshpur.
NHAI has also got in-principle approval for the second phase that will connect Baghpat to Dehradun. It covers a distance of almost 140km.

UNSC passes resolution to endorse US Taliban peace agreement

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a United States' resolution that supports a recent deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban, which is a rare endorsement of an agreement with a militant group. The US military has started to withdraw its troops per the agreement signed in the 29 February pact with the Taliban.

London patient becomes the second person to be ever cured of HIV

The journal The Lancet HIV reported that Adam Castillejo, London, has become the second person to be ever cured of HIV. He was previously known as "London patient." The 40-year-old was first diagnosed with HIV in 2003. He underwent a special bone-marrow transplant. After that, he had been free from HIV for 18 months. After 12 months, now, he indeed represent a cure.

The first patient to be cured of HIV is Timothy Brown. He is also known as the Berlin patient. He received a similar bone-marrow transplant in 2007. He has been HIV-free for more than 10 years now. The stem cells used for the transplants (of both Adam Castillejo and Timothy Brown) was from a donor who had a relatively rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. The researchers stated that bone-marrow transplant would not work as a standard therapy for all patients with HIV. A stem cell (or bone marrow) transplant is a procedure that will replace defective or damaged cells in patients whose normal blood cells have been affected.

Google to open its cloud region in Delhi

The new cloud region will expand Google's existing network, which stands at eight regions in the Asia Pacific and 22 regions globally.

Open cloud region:
1) The new cloud region will expand Google's existing network, which stands at eight regions in the Asia Pacific and 22 regions globally.
2) Google cloud regions bring Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services to global organizations in industries like media and entertainment, retail, and manufacturing.
3) Google continues to advance and invest in its cloud infrastructure in India to help regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services, and public sector organizations across India.

Minister Smriti Irani released a book titled Chronicles of Change Champions

Chronicles of Change Champions provides insight into the unique manner of community engagement by the District Administration and frontline workers. Chronicles of Change Champions:
1) The book is a compilation of 25 innovative initiatives taken at the State and District levels under the Prime Minister's flagship scheme of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP).
2) The book has captured the convergent approach adopted at the grassroots level.
3) It also provides insight into the unique manner of community engagement by the District Administration and frontline workers.
4) So far, 25 districts commended innovative activities under BBBP that have been published in the compilation.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:
1) Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 January 2015 at Panipat, Haryana. The program addressed the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and the related issues of empowerment of women.
2) The scheme was expanded in a phased manner and is being implemented in all the 640 districts of the country.
3) The scheme aims to accomplish gender equality by promoting and prioritizing the needs and rights of the girl child.
4) The scheme was initiated by the Ministries of Women & Child Development, Human Resource Development, and Health & Family Welfare.