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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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Important Current Affairs 25th March 2020

National

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.

Delhi Government Announces Rs 100-cr “Branding Delhi” scheme to make Delhi tourism brand

• The Delhi government has announced a new scheme titled “Branding Delhi”, to introduce the national capital as a tourism brand to domestic and foreign tourists and create news jobs in the sector.

• The Rs 100-crore scheme will re-brand Delhi tourism and the city will be introduced as a tourism brand in the country and abroad to domestic and foreign tourists.

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.

International

US & UAE troops launch biennial exercise “Native Fury”

• US Marines and UAE Emirati forces conducted the biennial exercise, named Native Fury at Abu Dhabi. The biennial exercise, called Native Fury, shows the close ties between American forces and the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula home to Abu Dhabi.

• The forces seize a sprawling model Middle Eastern city, a drill conducted amid tensions with Iran and despite the new coronavirus pandemic.

• It also comes after the U.S. killed Iran’s most prominent general in a drone strike in January, and Tehran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack on American forces in Iraq.

WHO applauds India's efforts to combat against Coronavirus

• The World Health Organization (WHO) recently applauded the efforst made by India to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the nation.

• The Executive Director of WHO, Michael J. Raynan said recognised that there is a tremendous potential in India to deal with Coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, India has been succesful in eradicating Smallpox and Polio pandemics.

Banking and Economy

SBI Commits 0.25% of FY21 annual profit to help fight COVID-19

• India’s biggest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has announced to provide 0.25 percent of its annual profit for 2020-21 to fight the coronavirus outbreak in India.

• This is in line with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ notification on 23 March 2020, for spending CSR funds by companies to deal with the coronavirus outbreak as corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity under the companies law.

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.

Karur Vysya Bank Launches Pre-paid Card ‘Enkasu’ in Karur District

• In line with the digital initiative of the Government of India, Karur Vysya Bank has launched a pre-paid card named ‘Enkasu’ in Karur, to reduce the usage of cash in the district.

• The bank has launched the Enkasu card under its Quit Cash Movement, to do away with the need for cash and it will be beneficial to both merchants and customers alike.

• Enkasu works on Near Field Communication Technology in a semi closed loop.

Awards

Sunil Chhetri selected for FIFA campaign against Covid-19

• The campaign titled ‘Pass the message to kick out coronavirus’ has been launched to combat the coronavirus. The awareness campaign will be led by the 28 players, who will be involved in the video campaign to be published in 13 languages, include some of the best-known players like Argentine superstar Lionel Messi and World Cup winners like Philip Lahm, Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol.

• The ‘Pass the message to kick out coronavirus’ campaign promotes five key steps for people to follow to protect their health in line with WHO guidance, focused on handwashing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell.

Appointments and Resignations

Sameer Aggarwal appointed as CEO of Walmart India

• Sameer Aggarwal has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Walmart India. He will taker over as CEO from Krish Iyer with effect from 1st April 2020.

• After assuming the charge as CEO of Walmart India, he will focus on building more digital, and omni-channel services at the retailer.

Days

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

• The United Nations’ (UN) observes the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade on 25 March every year.

• The day aims to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system and also raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

• 2020 Theme: “Confronting Slavery’s Legacy of Racism Together”

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Important Current Affairs 24th March 2020

National

Shivraj Singh Chouhan appointed as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for 4th time

• BJP politician Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been appointed as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on March 23, 2020. He has been appointed for the fourth time.

• This comes after the Madhya Pradesh chief minister (ex) Kamal Nath resigned from his post on March 20, 2020, as his government fell short of the majority mark.

• The trigger of the downfall of Congress in Madhya Pradesh was Jyotiraditya M. Scindia leaving the Congress on 11 March, taking with him 22 MLAs.

India to be in lockdown for 21 days from 25 March 2020

• Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the complete lockdown of the entire nation, as part of government’s stringent efforts to tackle coronavirus disease Covid-19.

• The entire country will be under lockdown from 25 March 2020. This lockdown will be in place for 21 days. This is the second time in a week when he addressed the country on the fast-spreading disease with flu-like symptoms that has infected more than 3.5 lakh people and killed over 16,000.

1st ‘Made in India’ COVID19 Test Kit gets CDSCO approval

• “Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit” has become the first ‘Made in India’ COVID19 Test Kit to get the CDSCO approval.

• Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has given the commercial approval to the COVID-19 diagnostic test kit made by Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd which is also known as the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

India’s first COVID-19 dedicated hospital comes up in Mumbai by Reliance

• Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has set up India’s first COVID-19 dedicated hospital in Mumbai.A dedicated 100 bedded COVID-19 centre has been established at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai for patients who test positive for COVID-19.

• Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital has done this in collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

• This first-of-its-kind-in-India centre is fully funded by Reliance Foundation and includes a negative pressure room that helps in preventing cross-contamination and helps control infection.

IOC becomes 1st company to begin supply of BS-VI fuel across India

• India’s biggest oil firm, Indian Oil Corporation Limited has started supplying BS-VI fuel across India. With this, Indian Oil Corporation Limited has become 1st company to begin supply of BS-VI fuel across its 28,000 petrol pumps.

•  The Government of India has set 01st April 2020 as the deadline to start the supply of BS-VI emission compliant fuels. Therefore, from 01st April 2020, India will become the part of select league of nations which are using cleanest petrol and diesel across the country to cut vehicular emissions.

International

India-Belgium extradition agreement

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Extradition Treaty between India and Belgium.

• The new treaty between India and Belgium will replace the pre-independence treaty signed between Britain and Belgium in the year 1901, which was also applicable to India before independence.

• According to the treaty, each party consents to the extradition of a person from the other party who is accused of an extradition offence in the border area of his or her country.

Banking and Economy

RBI to purchase bonds in advance to boost economy

• The Reserve Bank has decided to buy bonds worth more than thirty thousand crores amid COVID-19 crisis.

• The Reserve Bank said that 15-15 thousand crore rupees will be imposed in two instalments on 24 March and 30 March.

• The Reserve Bank of India will increase the cash flow to maintain financial stability because of Coronavirus infection. Due to the coronavirus, the economy worldwide is going through a phase of lethargy.

UBS predicts India’s FY21 real GDP growth rate at 4%

• UBS Securities has cut India’s growth forecast for FY21 to 4%  from the previous 5.1%. The decrease is due to the coronavirus outbreak.

• UBS predicts India to grow at 4.8% in FY20.

S&P predicts Indias GDP growth forecast for FY21 at 5.2%; FY22- 6.9%; FY23 and FY24 at 7%

• S&P Global Ratings has revised its GDP Growth rate projection for India for FY21 from 6.5% earlier to 5.2%. This is due to the coronavirus outbreak.

• The GDP projection for the following financial years as per S&P is as follows:

• 2021-22 (FY22)- 6.9%

• 2022-23 (FY23)- 7%

• 2023-24 (FY24)- 7%.

Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020 postponed until 2021

• As per the information shared by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 might be postponed until 2021.

• The Tokyo Olympics was scheduled to take placed in the mid of 2020. However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, coronavirus, the games are likely to be rescheduled.

Ranking

India ranked 120 in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom

• India has been ranked at 120 position in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom published by Heritage Foundation Index. The index has been topped by Singapore.

• Hong Kong is on second in the ranking followed by New Zealand on the third. North Korea is at the last position at 180th place. Though there are 6 countries that are not ranked.

• The Index was first published in 1995 and Hong Kong has topped the charts ever since. This is the first time that Hong Kong has been replaced from the 1st position.

Days

World Tuberculosis Day

• World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is observed globally on 24th March every year. This day is to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

• The theme of World TB Day 2020: ‘It’s time’.

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims

• International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is observed annually on 24th March every year.

• This day is observed on 24th March every year to pay tribute to “Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero” as he was murdered on 24 March 1980. He was actively engaged in criticizing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable individuals in El Salvador.

Books and Authors

A book title ‘Legacy Of Learning’ released

Award-winning businesswoman Savita Chhabra has launched her first novel titled ‘Legacy of Learning’. Savita Chhabra is the chairperson at Hygienic Research Institute Private Limited (HRIPL).

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Important Current Affairs 23rd March 2020

National

Govt Forms 21-member high level committee of medical experts under V K Paul for prevention & control of COVID-19

• The Government of India has constituted a high level technical committee of Public Health Experts to provide guidance about the prevention and control activities for COVID-19 in the country.

• The 21 member committee will be headed by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul.

• Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Director General Indian Council of Medical Research are the Co-Chair.

Satyarup Siddhanta becomes first Indian to complete volcanic Seven Summit

• India's mountaineer Satyarup Siddhanta has recently climbed the highest volcano in seven continents and recorded his name in the 'Limca Book of Records'.

• He holds the record for becoming the first Indian to climb the highest volcano in all the 7 continents of the world. Earlier, in January 2019, he achieved the record of climbing the highest peak of the seven continents of the world.

• He already has registered his name in Guinness Book of World Records, India Book of Records, Asia Book of Records, British Book of Records and Champion Book of Records.

Delhi Government presents Rs. 65,000 crore Budget 2020-21 in State Assembly

• Delhi's Finance Minister Manish Sisodia on March 23, 2020 presented Rs. 65,000 crore Delhi Budget 2020-21 in the state assembly. Before presenting the state budget, Minister Sisodia placed the Economic Survey 2019-20 in the House.

• The budget lays special emphasis on education. During the session, all the MLAs sat one meter away amid the fear of deadly coronavirus.

IOC Becomes First Company to Begin Supply of BS-VI fuel Across Country

• Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the biggest oil firm of India, has successfully rolled out the supply of the BS-VI grade fuel, with all its 28,000 petrol pumps dispensing ultra-low sulphur fuel across the country.

• With this, the company is first in the Country to completely switch to world’s cleanest petrol and diesel, two weeks before the April 1 deadline.

• The government had set April 1, 2020 as the deadline for starting supply of ultra-low sulphur BS-VI (equivalent to Euro-VI grade emission compliant fuels) petrol and diesel.

• BS-VI has a sulphur content of just 10 ppm and emission standards are as good as CNG.

Banking and Economy

RBI to conduct variable rate Repo auctions for Rs 1,00,000 crores

• The Reserve Bank of India has decided to conduct the variable rate Repo auctions as a preventive measure to bridge over any frictional liquidity requirements caused by COVID-19.

• As per the circular, the Reserve Bank of India will conduct fine-tuning variable rate Repo auctions for Rs 1,00,000 crores in two tranches.

• The central bank has also decided to allow standalone Primary Dealers to participate in fine-tuning variable rate Repo auctions along with other eligible participants.

Obituary

Former Real Madrid President Lorenzo Sanz Passes Away at 76 after Contracting Coronavirus

• The former Real Madrid President Lorenzo Sanz has passed away after being tested postive for the novel COVID-19 pandemic. He was 76.

• Sanz was in charge of the Spanish football club from 1995 to 2000, in which they won two Champions League titles and one La Liga crown among other trophies.

Days

Shaheed Diwas 2020 observed in India to commemorate Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru

• India observed the Shaheed Diwas 2020 (Martyr's Day) on March 23, 2020 to commemorate the sacrifices made by freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru during the Indian Freedom Struggle.

•  On March 23, 1931, all these three freedom fighters were hanged till death for their involvement in the case 'Lahore Conspiracy'.

World Meteorological Day

• The World Meteorological Day is celebrated every year on 23 March to commemorate the date of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization in 23 March 1950

• The day also highlights the contribution that the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services make to the safety and well-being of society.

• The theme for 2020 World Meteorological Day is ‘Climate and Water’.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd March 2020

National

Government Forms COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force Led By FM Nirmala Sitharaman

• Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to constitute COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force.

• The task force will be led by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, to deal with the situation arising out of novel coronavirus outbreak.

• It will ensure that all steps are taken to reduce the economic difficulties and execute them effectively.

IRDAI Constitutes Panel Under Pravin Kutumbe to Review Guidelines on Corporate Governance Systems of Insurers

• The insurance regulator, Insurance Regulation and Development Authority (IRDAI), has set up a 16-member committee to find ways to improve its current guidelines on corporate governance systems of insurers, in a bid to further strengthen the guidelines.

• The committee will be Chaired by Shri Pravin Kutumbe, member-finance and investment at IRDAI.

• It will also consists of six other members from the insurance regulator, members from the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India along with other industry participants.

International

Priyanka Chopra works jointly with WHO to spread awareness over COVID-19

• Actor Priyanka Chopra works jointly with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to spread awareness over COVID-19. Priyanka urged followers to rely on authentic sources of information about coronavirus and arranged an Instagram live with top personnel of the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about the pandemic.

• The actor documented her videos on Instagram stories where she expressed the importance of only relying on authentic information about the highly contagious disease.

Banking and Economy

SBI launches COVID 19 Emergency Credit Line (CECL) facility

• State Bank of India has launched an emergency loan facility for its existing loan customers whose business has been hit due to Coronavirus 2019 (COVID 19).

• The loan facility has been named COVID 19 Emergency Credit Line (CECL). It has been launched to meet the temporary liquidity mismatch arising out of covid-19.

• The interest rate under this facility will be 7.25% per annum.

• Which accounts are eligible: All standard accounts as on March 16, 2020 and till the date of sanction are eligible.

Ranking

UN releases World Happiness Report 2020

• The United Nations (UN) has released the eighth edition of the annual World Happiness Report on 20 March 2020 to rank 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.

• India has been ranked at 144 position among 156 nations with a score of 3.573 points on a scale of 10.

• Finland has been named as the happiest country in the world for the third year in a row while Afghanistan is the lowest ranking country.

• The World Happiness Report is an annual survey by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.

• The Report takes into account six factors to rank a country which includes: levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom and corruption income.

Days

World Water Day

• World Water Day observed globally on 22nd March every year. World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, focuses on the importance of freshwater. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. This year, World Water Day 2020 theme: “Water and Climate Change”.

• It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

 Books and Authors

Book titled ‘Messiah Modi: A Tale of Great Expectations’ Penned by Tavleen Singh

• Tavleen Singh, one of India’s most influential columnists and political reporter and writer has come out with her new work titled “Messiah Modi: A Tale of Great Expectations”.

• The book tells about her early support for Modi the candidate, followed by a helpless disenchantment with Modi the PM and the cabinet he headed.

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