Daily Current Affairs - 16th Apr 2020

11,933 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the country so far: Health Ministry

  • A total of 11,933 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far. Out of these, 1343 patients have recovered and have been discharged from the hospitals, while 392 patients have died.
  • Meanwhile, the health Ministry official said that the Districts of the country have been classified into three categories - hot spot districts, non-hot spot districts and green zone districts. Hot spot districts will be those where either large number of cases are being reported or where rate of growth of COVID-19 cases is high. Non hot spot districts will be those where cases are being reported and green zone districts will be those where there is no COVID-19 case.
  • The official also informed that so far 170 hot spot districts and 207 non hot spot districts have been identified.

44th session of World Heritage Committee of UNESCO scheduled in Fuzhou postponed: China

  • China's Ministry of Education has announced that the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, initially scheduled from 29th of June to 9th of July, in Fuzhou of eastern China's Fujian Province, has been postponed to a later date due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BCCI postpones IPL indefinitely

  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has formally informed the eight Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises that the 13th edition of the T20 league has been “indefinitely postponed” due to COVID-19. The IPL was scheduled to begin from March 29, but the tournament had to be postponed until April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CBDT issues over 10 lakh refunds worth Rs 4250 cr in week

  • Central Board of Direct taxes, CBDT has issued over 10 lakh refunds worth four thousand 250 crore rupees in a week. These refunds are over and above the two crore 50 lakh refunds already issued in 2019 -20 till 31st of last month totaling to one lakh 84 thousand crore rupees.
  • CBDT further said that about 1.75 lakh more refunds are in the process of issuance in this week. These refunds would get credited directly to the taxpayer bank account in 5 to 7 business days from issuance.
  • Last week, CBDT had said that it will issue pending income tax refunds up to five lakh rupees to help taxpayers in a COVID-19 pandemic situations

Center releases new set of guidelines following extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3

  • The Center has notified a new set of guidelines in light of the extension of the nationwide lockdown till 3rd of May. In order to mitigate the hardship for the public and relax provisions for the daily wage workers and farmers, select additional activities have been allowed which will come into effect from 20th of April in the areas which are not declared as Containment Zones.
  • The Government has stated that all agricultural and horticultural activities including farming operations and farm workers in field, agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including MSP operations, Mandis' operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee, Shops of agriculture machinery will remain fully functional during this time.
  • Movement of all trucks and other goods carrier vehicles with two drivers and one helper subject to the driver carrying a valid driving license to remain functional.
  • The Government has stated that all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-Commerce companies should be allowed to operate.
  • All finance related institutions and health related services will remain fully functional.
  • MGNREGA works would be allowed with strict implementation of social distancing norms and face mask.
  • Operations of Oil and Gas sector, including refining, transportation, distribution, storage and retailing of products like petrol, diesel, kerosene, CNG, LPG, PNG is also to be allowed.
  • Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals medical devices, their raw material and intermediates and food processing industries in rural areas to remain functional as well.

COVID-19: IMF proposes to deploy its full 1 trillion US Dollar lending capacity to support countries

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed to deploy its full 1 trillion US Dollar lending capacity to support countries battling COVID-19 outbreak. The IMF Board has already approved debt relief for 25 of its poorest members.
  • Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis like no other, International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva said, the world is now in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

COVID-19: Nirmala Sitharaman shares policy measures undertaken by govt, RBI to support poor with G20 FMs

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has shared with G20 Finance Ministers the policy measures undertaken by the Government and Reserve Bank of India to support poor, vulnerable and various sectors of economy to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Ms.Sitharaman participated in 2nd Meeting of G20 Finance Ministers to discuss global economic outlook amid evolving COVID19 pandemic.

DST creates Integrated geospatial platform to help area-specific strategies & decisions in COVID-19 outbreak

  • Department of Science and Technology of Government of India has created an Integrated Geospatial Platform out of available geospatial datasets, standards-based services, and analytic tools to help decision making during the current COVID-19 outbreak and aid devising area-specific strategies to handle the socio-economic impact in the recovery phase.
  • The mobile application SAHYOG, as well as the web portal(https://indiamaps.gov.in/soiapp/) prepared and managed by the Survey of India.
  • This platform is initially expected to strengthen the public health delivery system of the State and Central Governments and subsequently provide the necessary geospatial information support to citizens and agencies dealing with the challenges related to health, socio-economic distress, and livelihood challenges.

Exports dip 34.6%, deficit narrows

  • According to data released by the Union government, India’s exports dipped by 34.57% to $21.41 billion in March, while it declined by 4.78% to $314.31 billion for 2019-20. The slump is largely due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The trade deficit narrowed to $9.76 billion in March 2020 from $11 billion in the same month last year.
  • Imports in March dipped by 28.72% to $31.16 billion. It contracted by 9.12% per cent to $467.19 billion in 2019-20.
  • India’s overall exports, including goods and services combined, in April-March 2019-20 are estimated to be at $528.45 billion, showing a negative growth of 1.36% over the same period last year.
  • Out of the 30 major items in India’s export and import baskets, 29 export and import goods witnessed contraction in March, signalling the severity of the slump in global demand and the lockdowns enforced in multiple countries.

Google launches ‘journalism relief fund’

  • Google announced that it will launch an emergency fund to help local news outlets struggling to maintain operations in the face of the pandemic. The funding is open to news organizations producing original news for local communities during this time of crisis, and will range from the low thousands of dollars for small hyper-local newsrooms to low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms, with variations per region.

Govt launches All India Agri Transport Call Centre for inter-state movement of perishables

  • Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has launched the All India Agri Transport Call Centre at Krishi Bhavan in New Delhi. This will facilitate inter-state movement of perishables in the current situation of lockdown due to the COVID-19 threat.
  • The Call Centre numbers are 18001804200 and 14488. These numbers can be called from any mobile or landline phones any time of the day or night. The 24x7 service All India Agri Transport Call Centre is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare for coordination between states for inter-state movement of perishables.

HDFC Chairman pushes for restructuring of NPA norms

  • HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh pushed for a one-time restructuring of stressed real estate accounts and relaxation in classification of NPA norms to 180 days from 90 days to help the sector. Parekh said unless the stressed accounts are restructured, financial institutions will find it difficult to provide additional liquidity to the sector.
  • He said recommendation has already been made to the RBI for the restructuring following which real estate developers can be given additional money.

India, China will register positive growth rate despite Coronavirus pandemic: IMF

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said India and China are the only two major countries, which will register a positive growth rate despite Coronavirus pandemic. In its latest edition of World Economy report, IMF has projected India's GDP growth to be 1.9 per cent in 2020 from 5.8 per cent in January. For China, it has projected a growth rate of 1.2 per cent.
  • It said, despite global economy hitting the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1930s, India and China are likely to bounce back strongly in 2021 with India expected to grow at 7.4 per cent and China at 9.2 per cent.
  • IMF report said most countries, in the advanced economy group, are forecast to contract this year, including the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Indian women qualify for 2021 WC

  • India sealed its qualification for the 2021 Women’s World Cup following the cancellation of the ODI Championship round against Pakistan with the BCCI not getting the government clearance to play the latter.
  • By virtue of the points gained in the series, India have qualified for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup scheduled to be in played in New Zealand next year. They join Australia, England and South Africa in qualifying for the tournament as part of the top four. New Zealand get in by virtue of being the hosts.

More than two million coronavirus cases recorded globally

  • More than two million cases of the novel coronavirus have been officially reported across the globe while the death toll from the COVID-19 has crossed over one lakh 30 thousand mark. The figures have roughly doubled in 13 days and are growing steadily.
  • The United States has so far registered more than 6 lakh 19 thousand cases while the number of cases has crossed over one lakh 70 thousand in Spain. France and Germany each has reported over one lakh 30 thousand cases so far.

Tour de France to now start on Aug. 29

  • The Tour de France will be raced from August 29 to Sept. 20, 2020 organisers of the event announced, postponing cycling’s flagship event originally slated to start on June 27 due to the coronavirus lockdown. Race will follow the same route as the original itinerary.

Wipro skips Q1 guidance, net drops 6%

  • Software services major Wipro has refrained from giving any guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2020-21, for the first time since it became a listed entity, following the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Wipro posted a 6.3 per cent year-on-year (YoY) decline in its net profit at Rs 2,326.1 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2020. On a sequential basis, the numbers slipped 5.28 per cent. Revenue from operations stood at Rs 15,711 crore, up 4.69 per cent against Rs 15,006.3 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

WPI inflation cools to 4-month low

  • According to the data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry, the inflation based on wholesale price index (WPI) eased to 1 per cent in March from 2.26 per cent in February on sharp fall in food prices in the country. Food inflation in March fell to 4.91 per cent from 7.79 per cent in the previous month.
  • Inflation in vegetables fell sharply to 11.90 per cent in March from a high of 29.97 per cent in the previous month. However, inflation in onion continued to rule high at 112.31 per cent during March. Fuel and power basket witnessed deflation of 1.76 per cent, while manufactured products witnessed inflation of 0.34 per cent.