Daily Current Affairs - 21st Apr 2020

17,656 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in India so far

  • A total of 17,656 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far. Out of these, 2,841 patients have recovered and were discharged from the hospitals while 559 patients have died. India's doubling rate of COVID-19 cases before lockdown period was 3.4 days and now it has slowed down to 7.5 days.

17793 crore rupees released to 8.89 crore farmers under PM-KISAN scheme so far during lockdown period

  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme during the lockdown period from 24.3.2020 till date, about 8.89 crore farmer families have been benefitted and an amount of Rs. 17,793 crore has been released so far.
  • In order to provide food security during the prevailing situation due to COVID-19 pandemic, the union government has decided to distribute pulses to the eligible households under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PM-GKY). About 107,077.85 MT pulses have so far been issued to the States/UTs.

BMW India CEO Rudratej Singh passes away due to cardiac arrest

  • BMW Group President and CEO Rudratej Singh passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest. He was the first Indian to head the BMW India operations. Singh had more than 25 years of experience and held multiple leadership positions both in the automotive and non-automotive industry.

CBDT revised return forms for FY 2019-20 to be notified by end of this month

  • Central Board of Direct Taxes is revising the return forms for Financial Year 2019-20 which shall be notified by the end of this month. This is being done in order to enable income tax payers to avail full benefit of various timeline extensions upto 30th of June granted by Centre due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The CBDT has initiated necessary changes in the return forms so that taxpayers could take benefits of their transactions carried out during the period from 1st April to 30th June this year in the return forms for Financial Year 2019-20.

Contrasting wins for Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave

  • Top-ranked American Fabiano Caruana has proved to be a lucky winner against Russia No. 1 Ian Nepomniachtchi while Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave cruised to an easy win over Dutchman Anish Giri in the first round encounters of the $250,000 Magnus Carlsen Invitational online chess tournament.
  • Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen (Norway) edged out Hikaru Nakaumra (USA) 3-2 and Ding Liren (China) overpowered teen-sensation Alireza Fiourzja (FIDE) 2.5-1.5.

COVID-19 cases rise in US, Turkey, Brazil

  • The number of confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the United States has topped 780,000 and the death toll has reached 42,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 72,329 people have also recovered.
  • Turkey's total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have climbed to 90,980 with 4,674 new ones reported in the last 24 hours. The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Turkey reached 2,140 after 123 more lost their lives over the past 24 hours. A total of 13,430 patients have recovered, and 1,909 are still being treated at intensive care units.
  • The number of confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Brazil has exceeded 40,000, with 2,845 people have died. Most of the cases were registered in the state of Sao Paulo.

FCI to use surplus rice to make alcohol-based sanitizers

  • Surplus rice available with Food Corporation of India (FCI) would be converted to ethanol to ensure adequate availability of alcohol-based sanitizers in the country. Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan has approved this decision as per the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018. The ethanol produced from surplus rice would also be used in production of Ethanol Blended Petrol .
  • The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, allows such conversions of surplus food grains, in case the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare anticipates its over supply during a crop-year.

Fifteenth Finance Commission to assess implications of COVID-19 pandemic on GDP growth

  • The Economic Advisory Council of the Fifteenth Finance Commission will meet this month to discuss implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on GDP growth. The council members will meet on 23rd and 24th of this month through online medium which will be presided over by Chairman of the Commission, N. K. Singh.
  • The members would also be discussing on the possible assumptions for tax buoyancy and revenue in the current and next financial year.

FinMin asks PSBs to ensure timely credit for businesses

  • The Finance Ministry has asked public sector banks (PSBs) to place in the public domain time frames for ensuring timely origination, processing, sanction and disbursement of loans to crank up economic activity from April 20, 2020.
  • The indicative time frame from processing to disbursement in the case of working capital demand loans for existing micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME), corporate and agriculture borrowers, and self help groups (SHGs) has been prescribed within 3-6 working days.
  • The time frame in the case of working capital reassessment up to Rs.5 crore, and above Rs.5 crore for existing borrowers, is within 6-9 working days, and within 12-15 working days, respectively.

HRD Minister reviews National online education platform 'SWAYAM'

  • Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has held a detailed review of the National online education platform SWAYAM and the 32 DTH Television Education Channels SWAYAM PRABHA in New Delhi.
  • The Minister said that 1902 courses are available currently in SWAYAM, which have been offered to 1.56 crore students since launch.
  • On SWAYAM PRABHA, the Minister said, a group of 32 DTH channels was devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite.

ICMR gets overwhelming response to take part in clinical trial of plasma therapy for Corona treatment

  • Indian Council of Medical Research has got overwhelming response and received 99 applications expressing their interest in participating in the study titled ‘A phase-II, open label, randomized controlled study to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit Covid-19 associated complications'. ICMR has launched the call for intent for the study on 12th April of this month.
  • ICMR said that the generic protocol has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India. ICMR will collaborate with eligible institutes from the pool of applicants based on the criteria like prior experience in conducting clinical studies and presence of necessary expertise, equipment and infrastructure for the study.
  • Eligible institutes will be funded by ICMR for study related activities after completion of requisite documentation.

Infosys Q4 net rises 6%, revenue up 8%

  • Infosys posted a 6.1 per cent increase in net profit to Rs.4,321 crore during Q4 on a year-on-year basis largely because of lower taxes. The IT giant also did not give any guidance for the year, stating that there was business uncertainty emanating from Covid-19.
  • The company’s revenues for the quarter grew 8 per cent to Rs.23,267 crore.

Mexico, US agree to extend restrictions on non-essential travel by another 30 days

  • Mexico and the United States have agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their border by another 30 days. This move covers 'all non-essential land traffic' on the common border after reviewing the development of the spread of COVID-19 in both the countries. The measures first went into effect on March 21st.
  • US President Donald Trump said, the move was necessary to prevent the spread of the infection to border agents, migrants and to the public at large.

Nikhil extends contract with Hyderabad Football Club

  • Hyderabad Football Club continue to strengthen their squad ahead of the new Indian Super League season tying versatile India-International Nikhil Poojary for the long term as he penned a three-year extension till the end of the 2022-23 season.

PIB sets up dedicated unit to bust rumours getting viral on social media

  • In order to check the spread of fake news on social media, Press Information Bureau has set up a dedicated unit to bust rumours getting viral on the social media. ‘PIBFactCheck’ is a verified handle on Twitter that continuously monitors trending messages on social media platforms and conducts comprehensive review of its contents to bust fake news.
  • Any person can submit to PIBFactCheck any social media message, including text, audio and video, to check its authenticity.

RBI announces calendar of MPC meetings for current financial year

  • The Reserve Bank of India has announced the calendar of the meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for the current financial year. As per the schedule announced by the RBI, the next Monetary Policy Committee meeting will take place during June 3 to 5.
  • The other meetings will take place on August 4 to 6, 2020; September 29-30 and October 1, 2020; December 2 to 4, 2020; and February 3 to 5, 2021.
  • The previous MPC meeting was advanced in view of the COVID-19 outbreak to March 24, 26 and 27 from originally scheduled for March 31, April 1 and

Sebi extends derivative curbs up to May 28 as market remains choppy

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has extended its stricter rules meant to curb market volatility in light of the coronavirus pandemic till May 28. On March 20, the regulator halved position limits for certain stock futures, restricted short-selling of index derivatives and raised margin rates for some shares in a bid to curb abnormally high volatility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sril Lanka to conduct parliamentary polls on June 20

  • Sri Lanka's Elections Commission has announced that it would conduct the country's parliamentary polls on June 20th. The polls were initially planned to be held on April 25th but were postponed by the Elections Commission last month following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the Parliament on March 2.

Tata Motors Group sales decline 35% in Q4 FY20

  • Tata Motors Group has reported a 35 percent decline in global wholesales for the fourth quarter (January-March 2020) by selling 231,929 units. This includes Jaguar Land Rover as well. Tata Motors’ commercial vehicles and Tata Daewoo registered sales of 72,608 units, down by 49 percent, as compared to Q4 FY19.
  • Global wholesales of passenger vehicles were at 159,321 units in the quarter under review, falling 26 percent as against the same period previous year.

UN member states call for 'equitable, efficient, timely' access to future coronavirus vaccines

  • The 193 members of the UN General Assembly have adopted by consensus a resolution that calls for 'equitable, efficient and timely' access to any future vaccines developed to fight coronavirus. The resolution, which was drafted by Mexico and received US support, calls for strengthening the scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19 and to bolster coordination including with the private sector.
  • The resolution also highlighted the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organization, which has faced criticism from USA and others about its handling of the pandemic.

US Prez Trump appoints Indian-American to country's top science board

  • US President Donald Trump has appointed Indian-American Sudarsanam Babu to country's top science board. Babu, who is from the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has been appointed as a member of the National Science Board for a six-year term.
  • Sudarsanam Babu would be the third Indian American in this prestigious board. The other two being Sethuraman Panchanathan from the Arizona State University and Suresh V Garimella from University of Vermont.