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Important Current Affairs 4th April 2020

National

DST sets up rapid response centre CAWACH to combat COVID-19

• The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, has approved setting up of a Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH), to support startups that address COVID-19 challenges.

• CAWACH will be set up at a total cost of Rs 56 Crore.

• The Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), a technology business incubator at IIT Bombay, supported by DST, has been identified as the Implementing Agency of the CAWACH.

CAWACH

• The CAWACH programme of DST will scout, evaluate and support the innovations and start-ups that are in the area of novel, low cost, safe and effective ventilators, respiratory aids, protective gears, novel solutions for sanitizers, disinfectants, diagnostics, therapeutics, informatics and any effective interventions to control COVID-19.

International

Domino’s Pizza launches ‘Domino’s Essentials’ service

• Domino’s Pizza has partnered with ITC Foods to launch “Domino’s Essentials”.

Highlights of this Partnership:

• Through “Domino’s Essentials” service, everyday grocery essentials offered by ITC Foods will be delivered while leveraging the delivery infrastructure of Domino’s.

• This partnership aims to serve the community by ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential items at their doorsteps, without them having to step outside of their homes.

• The “Domino’s Essentials” service will be available for consumers via “Domino’s Essentials” section on the Domino’s app.

• Domino’s Pizza will leverage its supply chain and delivery network to deliver essential goods to the customers at their home.

• This service is an effort which aligns with the government’s decision of nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banking and Economy

Fitch Ratings cuts India’s GDP growth forecast to 2% for FY21

• Fitch Ratings has cut its GDP growth forecast for India to 2% for the fiscal year 2021.

• This will be the slowest growth in India over the past 30 years.

ADB Estimates India’s GDP for FY’21 at 4 Percent; 6.2% for FY’22

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released its latest Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 for financial year 2020-21 on 3rd April 2020.

• As per ADB, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in India is likely to slow down to 4 percent in FY21 (2020-21) on the back of the current global health emergency.

• However, ADB expects the Indian economy to further strengthen to 6.2 percent in the FY22 fiscal (2021-22).

Obituary

Prominent virologist Gita Ramjee dies from coronavirus

• World renowned virologist Gita Ramjee passed away after contracting the novel coronavirus. The South African “Vaccine” scientist and an HIV prevention research leader was working as the chief scientific officer at the Aurum Institute.

• In 2018, the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) awarded Gita Ramjee with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon for her lifetime commitment towards finding new HIV prevention methods.

Sports

Asian Games 2022 "smart triplets" mascots unveiled in digital ceremony

• The Olympic Council of Asia has announced the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou in 2022. The three robots namely Congcong, Lianlian and Chenchen which are collectively known as “The Smart Triplets” will be the official mascots of the 19th Asian Games.

• The mascot was unveiled by Olympic Council of Asia at a digital launch ceremony in Hangzhou, China. The ceremony was held digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the whole world to a stand still.

• The robot ‘Congcong’ represents the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City. It derives its name from the Cong jade pendant — the quintessential relic unearthed from the ruins dating back 5,000 years. ‘Lianlian’ represents the West Lake and the name signifies a lake full of lush lotus leaves. Green stands for life and nature.The third mascot is ‘Chenchen’, which represents the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Days

International Mine Awareness Day observed globally on 4 April

• International Mine Awareness Day observed globally on 4 April every year. On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

• It was first observed on 4 April 2006.

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Important Current Affairs 3rd April 2020

National

GoI launches “AarogyaSetu” app to track Covid-19

• “AarogyaSetu” is the official COVID-19 tracking app that has been launched by the Government of India. The “AarogyaSetu” app has been developed by the National e-Governance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in association with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

• The mobile application aims to inform the users of the app regarding the risks, best practices along with the relevant advisories related to the containment of COVID-19.

Banking and Economy

S&P Further Slashes India’s GDP Forecast to 3.5% from 5.2% for FY21

• S&P Global Ratings has further slashed India’s growth forecast to 3.5% from a previous downgrade to 5.2% for the fiscal year 2020-21.

• The latest downgrade is due to the slump in demand, because of the Covid-19 outbreak, which is leading to declining credit quality and rising defaults particularly among non financial corporates with weaker credit profiles.

• For the Financial year 2019-20, the rating agency has estimated growth forecast of 5%.

• However the S&P expects the Indian economy to bounce back to 5% in FY20, 3.5% in FY21 and 7.3% in FY22.

PhonePe launches coronavirus hospitalisation insurance policy ‘Corona Care’

• PhonePe has launched a unique coronavirus hospitalization insurance policy named “Corona Care.”

• PhonePe has partnered with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance for this “Corona Care”.

• “Corona Care” plan is priced at Rs 156 with an insurance cover of Rs 50,000 for a person aged under 55 years.

Summits and Mou’s

UN Cop26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow Postponed until 2021

• The 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UN COP26), which was scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from 9 to 20 November 2020 under the presidency of the UK government, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

• The Cop26 Climate Change Summit has now be pushed back to 2021 and the new dates for the conference would be decided in due course.

• The announcement was made by the Cop26 president-designate and UK Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma.

Sport

Wimbledon Championship canceled due to Coronavirus pandemic

• The Wimbledon Tennis Championship 2020 has been cancelled due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The announcement regarding the cancellation of championship was made by the All England lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC). The tennis tournament was scheduled to begin from June 29, 2020 in the United Kingdom.

• It marks the first time that the Wimbledon tournament had been called off since World War II.

• Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass-court.

Obituary

Gurbani maestro Nirmal Singh Khalsa passes away

• Nirmal Singh Khalsa, a noted singer of Sikh 'Gurbani' hymns, passed away on April 2, 2020 due to coronavirus. He was detected with the infection just a day before his death. He was 62.

• Nirmal Singh Khalsa was a former priest at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He was known to have the knowledge of the 31 'raags' in the Gurbani of the Guru Granth Sahib.

• He was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri in 2009 for his outstanding contribution to the field of Gurbani music.

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Important Current Affairs 2nd April 2020

National

DGCA allows cargo operations using passenger category aircraft

• The Director General of Civil Aviation on April 1, 2020 granted special permission to conduct cargo operations using passenger category aircraft in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

• The decision was taken to meet the increasing demand for cargo operations for transportation of essential goods and medical equipment during the lockdown period.

IIT Kanpur to develop low-cost portable ventilator

• Amidst the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur is developing portable ventilators which will be significantly cheaper than the ones available in the market.

• The prototype of this ventilator will be ready very soon and just after assembling, it can be used as a life support system.

• The ventilator is a very important medical equipment for COVID-19 Patients, especially those who are old and the virus can prove fatal to them.

COVID Quarantine Alert System developed

• The Department of Telecommunication and C-DOT has developed and tested a COVID Quarantine Alert System in coordination with the Telecom service providers. 
• The application will automatically trigger an email or SMS if any identified coronavirus case moves away from their quarantine location. 
• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has encouraged the state governments to use the COVID Quarantine Alert system to keep a track of those in home quarantine.

World Bank offers $1 billion for proposed India COVID-19 emergency

• The World Bank has offered $1 billion to the Indian government for a proposed India COVID-19 emergency response and health systems preparedness project.

• This four-year project aims to develop the preparedness of India’s health care systems in the time of the pandemic.

• The idea of the project will be to respond and mitigate the COVID-19 threat and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness in India, as per the project document.

• The World Bank funding is from its COVID-19 fast-track facility where both the entities (World Bank and the government of India) will work on following the best international practice.

Banking and Economy

Nomura lowers India’s 2020 GDP growth forecast to -0.5%

• Nomura has predicted India’s GDP growth rate for the year 2020 at -0.5%. The earlier prediction was 4.5%.

• The announcement was made by Sonal Varma, MD and chief India economist at Nomura.

BhartPe & ICICI lombard tie up to launch COVID-19 insurance

• BharatPe inks partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited to introduce ‘COVID-19 Protection Insurance Cover’.

• This Insurance cover for shopkeepers, who are most affected financially due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Centre Extends Foreign Trade Policy for One Year till March 2021

• The government has extended the existing foreign trade policy (2015-20) for one year till March 2021.

• The foreign trade policy 2015-20 was earlier valid up to March 31, 2020.

• The extension has been given amid coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown to contain the virus spread.

RBI sets WMA for Central Government at Rs 1,20,000 crore for first half of FY21

•    The Reserve Bank of India has fixed the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) for Central Government for the first half of the financial year 2020-21 (April 2020 to September 2020) at Rs. 1,20,000 crore.
•    The Reserve Bank may trigger fresh floatation of market loans when the Government of India utilizes 75% of the WMA limit.
•    Apart from this, for State Government’s WMA, RBI has increased the WMA limit by 30 percent from the existing limit for all States/UTs. It must be noted that every state government has a different WMA limit.  The revised limits will come into force with effect from April 1, 2020 and will be valid till September 30, 2020.

Science and Technology

NASA Announces Mission SunRISE to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms
•    US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected a new mission called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms, known as solar particle storms, into planetary space.
•    SunRise is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope.
•    NASA has sanctioned USD 62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE.It will be launched after July 1, 2023.
 

Sports

2021 World Athletics Championships Being Moved to 2022

• The World Athletics has informed that the 2021 world athletics championships in Eugene, Oregon, United States, is now being shifted to 2022 to accommodate the re-arranged Tokyo Olympics.

• The 2020 Tokyo Games has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and will now take place on July 23-August 8, 2021.

• The world athletics championships was earlier scheduled to take place in Eugene on August 6-15, 2021. It will now take place in August 2022.

Days

World Autism Awareness Day is observed on 2 April

•    World Autism Awareness Day is observed on 2 April.
•    The day aims to recognize and celebrate the rights of persons with autism.
•    The day makes people understand, recognize, and accept people with autism.
•    This year the day is commemorated by the Department of Community Development, Abu Dhabi, the UAE.

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Important Current Affairs 1st April 2020

National

GoI extends validity of expired Driving Licences and Vehicle Registration till 30 June

• The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced an extension on the validity of documents like driving licenses, permits and registration that are expired since 1 February.

• The Ministry has directed all states and Union Territories (UT) to treat the documents as valid till 30 June.

Karnataka government launches ‘Corona Watch’ app

• The state government of Karnataka has launched a mobile application ‘Corona Watch’. The mobile application aims to track the movement history of persons tested positive, before their detection in order to take precautions and to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

• The app will also provide the date and time of visit to spots by the patients. ‘Corona Watch’ app also comprises a list of government designated first response hospitals for COVID-19 where citizen with symptoms can visit.

Banking and Economy

Mega merger of 10 PSU Banks comes into effect

• The mega merger of 10 PSU banks into 4 comes into effect from April 1, 2020. As per the merger, the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the United Bank of India have now be merged with the Punjab National Bank with the latter being the Head Bank.

• In another merger, Corporation Bank and Andhra Bank are merged into Union Bank of India. The branches of the merged banks will work as the branches of Head or Anchor bank.

As per the consolidation scheme, the details of 10 state-run banks into 4 are mentioned below-

• United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce will merge into Punjab National Bank

• Syndicate Bank will merge into Canara Bank

• Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank

• Corporation and Andhra Banks will be merged in Union Bank of India

The objective behind the merger:

The major objectives of the merger are:

• To help India make a USD 5 trillion economy

• Reducing the lending cost

• Enhancing the capacity in order to increase credit

• To bring next-generation technology for the banking sector

• Banks that have strong national and international reach

• To improve the ability to raise market resources.

Government cuts Interest Rates on Small Saving Schemes

• The Central Government recently slashed the interest rates on small saving schemes such as PPF for the April-June quarter of 2020-2021.

• The Small Saving Schemes include Public Provident Fund (PPF), Kisan Vikas Patra, Senior Citizen Saving schemes (SCSS) and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.

UN report states India, China will stay away from world recession

• The United Nations Trade report titled “The COVID-19 Shock to Developing Countries: Towards a whatever it takes program” stated that the world economy will go into recession in 2020 with a predicted loss of trillions of dollars of global income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• It also predicted serious problems for developing countries with the likely exception of India and China.

Summits and Mou’s

Ministry of Tourism launches ‘Stranded in India’ portal

• The Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal ‘Stranded in India’ to help foreign tourists who are stuck in various parts of the country.

• Its web address is strandedinindia.com. The COVID-19 helpline number for foreign tourists stuck in India is +91-11-23978046 or 1075.

Obituary

Legendary historian Arjun Dev passes away

• The legendary historian and educationist, Professor Arjun Dev passed away. He was born on November 12, 1938, in Leiah, West Punjab (now in Pakistan).

•  He served as a historian at the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT).

Days

International Transgender Day of Visibility

• International Transgender Day of Visibility observed globally on 31st March every year.

• The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

Utkal Divas or Odisha Day is celebrated on 1 April

• Utkal Divas (Odisha Day) is celebrated every year on 1st April all over Odisha. Odisha Day is celebrated in the memory of the formation of the state as a separate province on 1 April 1936.

•  This year marks the 83rd Utkal Divas or the foundation day of Odisha. Odisha was born as a separate state on April 1, 1936, on a linguistic basis.

•  The state was carved out of the combined Bengal-Bihar-Orissa province.

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Important Current Affairs 31st March 2020

National

MCA introduces “Companies Fresh Start Scheme 2020”

• The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has introduced the “Companies Fresh Start Scheme, 2020”. The new scheme has been introduced to provide relief to law abiding companies and the Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) amid COVID-19 pandemic. MCA has also revised “LLP Settlement Scheme, 2020”.

• The Fresh Start scheme and revised LLP Settlement Scheme stimulates compliance and lessen the compliance burden during the unprecedented public health situation triggered by COVID-19.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath Constitutes ‘Team-11’ to Fight COVID-19 Spread

• Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has set up “Team-11”, which comprises of 11 inter-departmental committees to fight the coronavirus spread, by tackling multiple issues ranging from ensuring medicare to victims to the supply of essentials and tackle long marches of jobless workers back home.

• Each of the 11 committees will be headed by a senior bureaucrat of the state while the ‘Team 11’ will be headed by the Chief Minister himself.

Jharkhand launches Pragyaam App for delivery of Essential Goods during COVID-19

• Jharkhand State Government recently launched Pragyaam mobile app for the delivery of Essential goods during COVID-19 outbreak. The app will offer e-passes to those people who are involved in providing essential services.

• The e-passes will be issued by the District Transport Officers of Jharkhand.

DRDO develops casualty evacuation bags

• The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has designed a casualty evacuation bag to transport or isolate persons infected with COVID-19.

• The bag is water and air-proof and treated to deal with biological agents. DRDO will be procuring an initial lot of 500 such bags. DRDO’s Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL), which carries out research in aero-medical engineering and life support equipment and Nuclear Chemical and Biological (NBC) protection systems, has developed this bag.

International

China recommends Bear Bile as a cure for COVID-19

• China has recommended the use of Bear bile as a possible cure for COVID-19 virus. The Chinese government has put out a list of medicines that will be used to treat COVID-19.

• The list includes both China’s traditional medicines and western medicines. One of these medicines, ‘Tan Re Qing’ is identified to be the best cure.

• The ‘Tan Re Quig’ traditional medicine carries bear bile. Bear bile has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 1300 years. The liver secretes bile juice and it is stored in the gall bladder.

• According to China, the ursodeoxycholic acid present in the bear bile can possibly cure COVID-19. It is also called Ursodiol. The acid is generally used for treating liver diseases and dissolving gall bladder stones.

G20 Trade & Investment Ministerial Meet: India urges for Global Framework on COVID-19

• India recently urged the G20 member countries to come up with a G-20 global framework for ensuring affordable access to treatment and medicines amid Coronavirus outbreak.

• The framework will also allow easier movement of doctors and health professionals across borders. The announcement was made during G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial meeting that was held virtually on March 31, 2020.

COVID-19 crisis in Asia and Pacific far from over: WHO

• The World Health Organisation has warned that while the west, especially Western European nations and North America appear to be the new epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic is far from over in Asia and the Pacific.

• WHO’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Takeshi Kasai has urged the governments to stay engaged in their efforts to combat COVID-19, calling it a long-term battle.

• WHO says there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common practices that can help fight the pandemic and reiterated that countries need to still prepare for large-scale community transmission

Banking and Economy

IMF declares that World is now in “Recession”

• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that the world has clearly entered a recession due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has emphasized that the current recession is even worse than that of 2009.

• The statements about the world economy were made after the meeting of governing body of the IMF, the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

Summits and Mou’s

Tata Power JV starts Shuakhevi HPP in Georgia

• Adjaristsqali Georgia LLC, a Joint Venture between Tata Power, Norway’s Clean Energy Invest (CEI), and International Financial Corporation (IFC) has announced the start of commercial operation of the 178 MW Shuakhevi Hydro Power Project (Shuakhevi HPP) located in southwest Georgia.

• The project will generate around 450 GWh of clean energy to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by more than 200,000 tonnes a year.

Science and Technology

IIT Bombay develops mobile app ‘CORONTINE’

A team at IIT Bombay has developed a mobile app named ‘CORONTINE’. The ‘CORONTINE’ app aims to help the authorities in tracking the asymptomatic carriers and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Books and Authors

Book titled “The Death of Jesus” by Nobel laureate J M Coetzee released

• The book titled “The Death of Jesus” authored by Nobel laureate J M Coetzee has been released. It is the third book of the series.

• The earlier two book were, “The Childhood of Jesus”, published in 2014 and The Schooldays of Jesus, in 2018.

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Important Current Affairs 30th March 2020

National

Government constitutes 11 groups to boost healthcare amid COVID-19 outbreak

• The Central Government recently constituted 11 empowered groups for integrated response to Coronavirus pandemic in India. Of these 11 groups, one will be chaired by NITI Aayog CEO, one by  NITI Aayog member and 9 will be chaired by Secretary-level officers.

• These groups have been set up under the Disaster Management Act.

DRDO to set up ‘multi-patient ventilators’ for serious COVID-19 patients

• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will soon develop the 'multi-patient ventilators' for critical Coronavirus patients. These ventilators will provide life support system to several patients at a same time through single unit.

• The development of these ventilators is already under process to meet the potential demand in case COVID-19 outbreak goes out of control.

Govt approves Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19

• Government has approved Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19’ as announced under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package. The following conditions exists:

• The scheme will provide an insurance cover of Rs. 50 lakh for ninety days (90) to a total of around 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers. It will also include accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19.

• The insurance provided under this scheme would be over and above any other insurance cover being availed of by the beneficiary.

Banking and Economy

SBI raises $100 million via green bonds

• State Bank of India has raised USD 100 million green bonds, the first such bond by any state-owned bank in this fiscal.

• The bonds were priced at 3M Libor + 80 basis points. This is the third set of green bond issue by SBI, aggregating USD 700 million.

• The proceeds will be used to fund the non-convention energy sector. These bonds will be issued through SBI’s London branch and shall be listed on Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Science and Technology

SpaceX wins NASA award for planned lunar space station

• A new space capsule from SpaceX has been picked up by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to ferry cargo and supplies to the agency’s planned lunar space station.

• Hence, with a $7 billion NASA contract, SpaceX will use its biggest rocket, Falcon Heavy to send spacecraft named as “Dragon XL” to the Lunar Gateway.

• This is an outpost that NASA is planning to build and that will orbit the moon sometime within the next decade.

Obituary

Air Vice-Marshal Chandan Singh Rathore passed away

• Air Vice Marshall Chandan Singh Rathore passed away at his Jodhpur residence on March 29, 2020. He had served in the Indian Air Force at the time of the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

• The Air Vice Marshall had planned and executed helicopter operations during India’s 1971 war with Pakistan for the liberation of Bangladesh.

• He had flown 8 missions into the enemy territory during the war to supervise the progress of lifting two companies of troops in the Sylhet area by the Indian Air Force.

• He will be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second-highest military award, posthumously for his acts of bravery in the presence of the enemy.

Sports

International Table Tennis Federation suspends events till June 30, freezes world rankings

• The International Table Tennis Federation has suspended all of its planned events till June 30, 2020 in the wake of the rapid spread of coronavirus across the globe.

• The federation has also frozen the world rankings list due to the current uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The body will now evaluate all implications regarding the postponement of the events and the current travel restrictions and make the necessary adjustments.

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Important Current Affairs 29th March 2020

National

Government Sets up special emergency fund ‘PM CARES Fund’ to Fight Against COVID-19

• The Government of India has set up a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ on 28 March 2020.

• The primary objective of this dedicated national fund is to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust while Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister are its other members.

• The fund has been set up to enable micro-donations, allowing a large number of people to be able to contribute with smallest of denominations.

• Donations to this fund will be exempted from income tax under section 80(G) of the IT Act.

• Citizens and organisations can go to the website pmindia.gov.in and donate to PM CARES Fund.

• The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) will be hold the account of the PM Cares Fund.

Government of India launches coronavirus risk-tracking app “Corona Kavach”

• Government of India has launched a coronavirus risk-tracking app in India and is named “Corona Kavach”.

• The app has been developed by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

• The app uses a person’s location to assess whether they are in the high-risk geographical zone or not. It will track the data of the users every one hour to alert them of whether they have crossed paths with any person who has tested positive for the infection.

Abbott Labs launches 5-minute coronavirus test

• Abbott Laboratories, United States is unveiling a coronavirus test which will tell if someone is infected within 5 minutes. This test is so small and portable it is often utilized in almost any health-care setting.

• The test starts with taking a swab from the nose or the rear of the throat, then mixing it with a chemical solution that breaks open the virus and releases its RNA.

•  The mixture is inserted into an ID Now system, a small box weighing slightly below 7 pounds that has the technology to spot and amplify select sequences of the coronavirus genome and ignore contamination from other viruses.

Goa becomes the 1st state to launch assessment tool for COVID-19

• The Government of Goa has launched a COVID 19 self-assessment tool, to assist people in identifying symptoms and risks of being infected by novel coronavirus, without having to visit a healthcare facility physically.

• With this, Goa has become the first state to launch India’s first digital initiative to tackle novel Coronavirus.

• The self-assessment tool named ‘Test Yourself Goa’ has been launched by the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Goa in partnership with Innovaccer.

Banking and Economy

India’s GDP growth estimated at 4.5% for FY’20; 2.6% for FY’21: SBI report

• According to the SBI Ecowrap report released by the State Bank of India (SBI), the GDP growth rate of India for the financial year 2020-21 is likely to fall to 2.6 percent due to the ongoing 21-day lockdown.

• The GDP growth estimate for the current fiscal, i.e. 2019-20 is estimated at 4.5 percent.

Acquisitions and Mergers

Mega merger of 10 state-run banks into four lenders will come into force from April 1

• The Reserve Bank of India has announced that the schemes for the merger of ten state-run banks into four banks will take effect from 1 April 2020.

• The banking regulator has also announced that the branches of merging banks will operate as the branch of the banks in which these have been amalgamated, from the beginning of next fiscal year 2020-21.

• After the merger, the total number of PSBs will be reduced to 12 from 27 PSBs, including 7 large PSBs and 5 small PSBs.

• Also, the anchor bank Punjab National Bank will become the country’s second largest bank with asset size of Rs 17.94 lakh crore, after SBI (over Rs 52 lakh crore).

• The amalgamation is the part of RBI’s consolidation plan to create bigger size stronger banks in the public sector.

• The following amalgamation will take place:

1. Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will merge with Punjab National Bank (PNB) branches

2. Syndicate Bank will merge with Canara Bank

3. Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will merge into Union Bank of India

4. Allahabad Bank will merge into Indian Bank.

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Important Current Affairs 28th March 2020

National

Goa becomes the 1st state to launch assessment tool for COVID-19

• Goa becomes the first Indian state to launch a self-assessment tool for COVID-19. The self-assessment tool called Test Yourself Goa. This tool helps people identify if they are infected by the virus without visiting a doctor or hospital.

• The Goa government has partnered with Innovaccer, a US-based healthcare data analytics company that developed the self-assessment platform.

• The tool will then assist the person to take further steps by providing information on self-quarantine, helpline numbers to reach out to the concerned authorities. The tool is accessible in English, Konkani & Hindi and will also work on Smartphones.

Indian army Chief starts ‘Operation Namaste’ to combat COVID-19

• Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane has launched ‘Operation Namaste’ to extend assistance to the govt in containing the spread of coronavirus and insulate the force from the pandemic. Under the operation, the army will help the Government of India fight against the deadly disease.

• Indian Army has established 8 quarantine so far. Army has also issued guidelines for army men to keep themselves safe as it is difficult to maintain social distancing due to operational and tactical.

India’s Cleanest City Indore Becomes First in the Country to Opt for Drones to Sanitise City amid Coronavirus Scare

• Indore, the cleanest city of India in Madhya Pradesh, has deployed drones to sanitize city areas against the coronavirus outbreak.

• This makes Indore as the first city in the country to attempt to fight off the virus scare this way.

• The initiative is a first-of-its kind attempt by which crowded areas are sanitised with the help of drones sprinkling chemicals.

International

UN launches US$2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan to fight COVID-19

• United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched a US$2.012

billion coordinated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

• The Global HRP has been launched for a period of nine months (April–December 2020)

• The response plan will be coordinated by UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and will bring together requirements from World Health Organization and other UN humanitarian agencies.

• To kick-start the response plan, $60 million has been released from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)

Banking and Economy

Sidbi to provide loans up to Rs 50 lakh to MSEs manufacturing medical supplies to fight COVID-19

• Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will provide loans up to Rs 50 lakh to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) that are manufacturing medical supplies for fighting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

• The Sidbi Assistance to Facilitate Emergency (SAFE) will offer loans to MSEs at a fixed interest rate of 5%and with a maximum loan repayment tenure of five years.

• The loans offered are collateral-free and will be sanctioned within 48 hours of applying and submission of documents.

CRISIL cuts India’s GDP growth forecast for FY2021 to 3.5%

• CRISIL has slashed the gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for FY2021 (2020-21) to 3.5% from 5.2% expected earlier.

• The cut is due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ICRA predicts India’s GDP growth for FY21 at 2%

• Rating agency ICRA has predicted the GDP Growth rate for India in 2020-21 (FY21) at 2% due to the coronavirus impact.

• For FY20, ICRA had predicted the GDP growth rate for India at 5%.

Summits and Mou’s

NTPC concludes acquisition of govt’s stake in THDC, NEEPCO at Rs 11,500 cr

• National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) concluded the acquisition of Centre’s entire stake in two hydropower generating firms, Tehri Hydro Power Complex (THDC) India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), at Rs 11,500 crore.

• Under the deal, NTPC acquired the latter’s 74.496 % equity stake in THDC India Ltd (THDCIL) for Rs 7,500 crore & its 100% equity in North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPC) for Rs 4,000 crore respectively.

Obituary

Samajwadi Party founding member Beni Prasad passes away

• Former Union Minister and founding member of the Samajwadi party, Beni Prasad Verma passed away on March 27, 2020. He was 79.

• The Samajwadi Party tweeted condoling the death of the senior party leader saying that the demise of the leader is an irreparable loss.

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Important Current Affairs 27th March 2020

National

High-level committee approves Rs. 5,751 crore worth fund for 8 states

• A high-level committee, chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah has approved funds worth Rs 5,751 crore to eight states for calamity damage relief.

• The additional centre assistanmce has been approved under the National Disaster Response Fund.

• They will be given to eight states that were affected by drought, floods, landslides and cyclones in 2019.

• The states include Kerala, Bihar, Nagaland, Odisha, Maharashtr, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Karnataka.

India’s largest COVID-19 hospital to be set up in Odisha

• India’s largest COVID-19 hospital is all set to come up in Odisha, to treat patients tested positive for the novel Coronavirus exclusively.

• The 1,000 beds hospital will be completely functional in the next 15 days.

• With this, Odisha will be the first state in the country to set up such a large-scale hospital exclusively to treat Covid-19 patients.

• For this, a tripartite agreement has been signed between the state government of Odisha, medical colleges as well as corporates that will help put all the 1,000 beds required to treat COVID-19 infected patients..

Jana SFB rolls out UPI QR-based loan instalment payment facility

• Jana Small Finance Bank has rolled out a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) QR-based loan installment payment facility along with National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) for its customers.

• Initially the UPI QR-based loan installment payment facility will be only available to over 40 lakh customers of the Jana Small Finance Bank.

CII sets up “CII COVID Rehabilitation and Relief Fund”

• The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has set up a CII COVID Rehabilitation and Relief Fund (CRR) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to tackle Covid-19.

• The CII COVID Rehabilitation and Relief Fund (CRR) will assist small enterprises or MSME in rehabilitation. The setting up of Relief Fund is expected to curtail the impact of Coronavirus on the MSME sector.

DST sets up COVID-19 task force for mapping of technologies

• Department of Science and Technology (DST) has set up a COVID-19 Task Force for mapping of technologies from Research and Development labs, academic institutions, start-ups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The Department of Science & Technology plays a pivotal role in the promotion of science & technology in the country.

• It aims to fund nearly market-ready solutions in the area of diagnostics, testing, health care delivery solutions, equipment supplies.

Banking and Economy

India’s GDP growth slashed to 2.5 percent in 2020

• Moody's Investors Service on March 27, 2020 reduced India’s GDP growth in 2020 to 2.5 percent from the earlier estimate of 5.3 percent.

• Moody’s said that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause unprecedented shock to the global economy including the Indian economy.

• It said in its Global Macro Outlook 2020-21 that India will see a sharp fall in incomes at an estimated 2.5 percent growth rate.

RBI’s 7th Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2019-20

• In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to advance the Bi-monthly Monetary Policy meet which was scheduled to be held on 31st March 2020 and the announcement was meant to be made on 3rd April.

• The meeting was advanced to 24th, 26th and 27th March 2020. During the seventh Bi-monthly Monetary Policy meet, the MPC analysed the current & evolving macroeconomic and financial conditions and has decided to take a accommodative stance and hence reduced the policy repo rate to revive growth as well as to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Days

World Theatre Day

• The World Theatre Day is celebrated all over the world on the 27th of March since 1962 to promote the art form “theatre” accross the world.

• The day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

• Every year the Executive Council of ITI choses an outstanding theatre personality to write the message for World Theatre Day.

• The author of the Message of World Theatre Day 2020 is: Shahid NADEEM (Playwright), Pakistan.

Books and Authors

Senior Journalist Chander Suta Dogra Pens Book ‘Missing in Action: The Prisoners Who Never Came Back’

• Chander Suta Dogra, a senior Indian journalist has come up with her meticulously-researched new book titled Missing in Action: The Prisoners Who Never Came Back.

• The book is a story of India’s soldiers who went missing during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

• They are called “the missing 54” Indian soldiers, who have been forgotten in the fog of past wars with Pakistan.

• With the help of the book, the author tries to answer the key question: what happened to these men?

• Chander Suta Dogra is a journalist and author and has worked for various publications, including Outlook, Indian Express, Hindu and Hindustan Times.

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Important Current Affairs 26th March 2020

National

Finance Minister announces relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

• The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Niramla Sitharaman has announced the relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. The new relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has been launched for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus pandemic.

Key benefeciaries of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana:

• The scheme will benefit the poors by providing an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month to 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders. The amount would be given for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit the 8 crore poor families by providing them Gas cylinders free of cost for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit 8.7 crore farmers. It will ensure the payment of the first instalment of Rs 2,000 which was due in 2020-21, in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana.

• The scheme will benefit the low wage-earners earning below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses comprising less than 100 workers. Government of India has proposed to pay 24% of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit 3 crore aged widows and people in Divyang category by giving them Rs 1,000 to overcome the difficulties during the next three months.

• The scheme will benefit the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) workers as their wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020. This will provide an additional benefit of Rs 2,000 annually to a worker.

• The scheme will benefit women who are organised through 63 lakhs Self Help Groups (SHGs) by increasing the collateral free lending from Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 20 lakhs.

Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam District Bifurcated to Form Mayiladuthurai as 38th District

• Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy has announced the formation of a new district Mayiladuthurai by bifurcating the existing district of Nagapattinam.

• With this, the total number of districts in the state has increased to 38.

• Till date, Tamil Nadu had 37 districts, of which five new districts were formed in 2019.

IMF launches Tracker of Govt. Policies in Response to COVID-19

• The International Monetary Fund has launched a “Tracker of Policies Governments are Taking in Response to COVID-19”.

• The policy tracker outlines the key economic responses taken by the government of various countries in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy tracker has the updated data till March 24, 2020.

• The policy tracker covers the responses on the basis of three pillars, namely:

Fiscal

Monetary And Macro-Financial

Exchange Rate And Balance Of Payments

Odisha government launches “Mo Jeeban” programme

• Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched Mo Jeeban programme in Odisha. The “Mo Jeeban” programme was launched for the containment of COVID-19 pandemic.

• Through Mo Jeeban programme, the chief minister of Odisha urged the people of the state to take a pledge to stay indoors

International

Saudi king to chair G20 video summit on coronavirus on March 26

• Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will chair an emergency virtual summit of G20 leaders on March 26, 2020. The meeting is titled ‘G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19′.

• Saudi Arabia currently holds the G20 presidency and hence is chairing the meet.

• India is a member nation of the G20 group. The other members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Microsoft & US CDC tie-up to create AI bot ‘Clara’

• The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced an AI bot called ‘Clara’ to help people assess potential symptoms of COVID-19.

• The CDC has partnered up with CDC Foundation and Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service to create Clara, the “coronavirus self-checker” the bot is currently only available in the US on the CDC website.

Banking and Economy

NABARD Extends Financial Support of Rs 42,313 cr in FY’20 for rural infrastructure

• The apex agriculture financial institution, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has provided a financial support up to Rs 42,313 crore towards building rural infrastructure in the current fiscal year 2019-20.

• Till date, NABARD has disbursed Rs 20,869 Crore during the current year in addition to providing Rs 5,686 Crore for rural connectivity

• In the last five years, NABARD has disbursed Rs 1.98 lakh crore towards rural development.

Summits and Mou’s

Cabinet approves MoUs between India & Germany in railway sector

• The Union Cabinet recently approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) between India and Germany for cooperation in the Railway Sector. The agreement was signed earlier in February 2020 between both the sides.

• From Indian side, the agreement was signed by the Ministry of Railways and from Germany side, DB Engineering and Consulting GMBH was the signatory.

Obituary

“Asterix and Obelix” co-creator Albert Uderzo passes away

The co-creator of the “Asterix and Obelix” comics, Albert Uderzo passed away. Albert Uderzo produced Asterix in 1959 along with the fellow Frenchman and writer Rene Goscinny. “Asterix and Obelix” entertained its audience over the past 60 years.

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