Daily Current Affairs - 06th May 2020

12 lakh 76 thousand 781 samples of Covid-19 tested: ICMR

  • Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR has said that a total of 12 lakh 76 thousand 781 samples of Covid-19 have been tested by various government and private laboratories in the country so far. Meanwhile, ICMR is continuously scaling up its testing facilities for Covid-19 by giving approval to government and private laboratories.
  • As of now, 321 government laboratories and 118 private laboratory chains have been given approval to conduct the test for Covid-19.

    3 Indian photographers win Pulitzer Prize

    • Three Indian photojournalists were awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in the field of feature photography. Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, and Channi Anand were given the prestigious award for capturing life in Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370 and during the communication clampdown.
    • New Delhi-based photojournalist Anushree Fadnavis has also got the award as she was part of the Reuters team that was awarded the Pulitzer in the ‘breaking news photography’ category for coverage of the Hong Kong protests.
    • Named after newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize awards newspaper, magazine and online journalism, photojournalism and literature, annually. The award is administered by Columbia University.

      Amid high inflation, Iran to get a new currency

      • Iran is set to change its national currency from the “rial” to the “toman,” after its parliament approved details of an amendment to the country’s Monetary and Banking Act. The plan is set to effectively cut four zeros from its currency, making each toman worth 10,000 rials. The rial will remain legal tender alongside the toman during a two-year transition period as Iran’s central bank implements the change.

        Ashok Leyland develops low-cost ventilator

        • Ashok Leyland Ltd. (ALL), the flagship company of the Hinduja Group, has developed a low-cost ventilator which it would start manufacturing by early June 2020. The development of ventilator, which was done by a team of 50 Ashok Leyland engineers, is now complete, while testing, certification and clinical trials will conclude in the next few weeks, with the mass manufacture of this system starting this month.

          CCMB ties up with Bengaluru-based company to research on COVID-19

          • Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad has tied up with a Bengaluru-based company, Eyestem Research Private Limited, to take up research activities on COVID-19. Through this research collaboration, an attempt will be made to grow novel coronavirus in human cell lines, which will enable in vitro testing of potential drugs and vaccines against the COVID-19.

            Centre extends consular services to foreigners stranded in India due to COVID-19

            • Centre has extended consular services to foreigners stranded in India due to COVID-19 for a period of up to 30 days from the date when ban on international travel is lifted. Home Ministry had earlier granted consular services on gratis basis to foreign nationals till 3rd May.

              China launches new rocket, spacecraft

              • China launched a newly designed spacecraft as part of its program to build an orbiting space station, furthering its aspirations to rival the U.S., Russia and private companies in outer space exploration. The unmanned spacecraft and its return capsule were flung into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket in its debut flight Tuesday evening from the Wenchang launch site in the southern island province of Hainan.
              • The capsule is reportedly an improvement on the Shenzhou capsule based on the former Soviet Union's Soyuz model and can carry six astronauts rather than just three.

                Corporate Affairs Ministry allows companies to hold Annual General Meetings through Video Conferencing

                • Ministry of Corporate Affairs has allowed companies to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) through Video Conference or other audio visual means. The decision has been taken on account of need for continuous adherence to the social distancing norms and restrictions placed on movement of persons in the wake of COVID - 19.
                • A circular in this regard has been issued by the Ministry. Owing to the difficulties in sending physical copies of the financial statements, the Circular allows the companies to send the financial statements, along with Board’s reports, Auditor’s reports and other documents required to be attached therewith, only through email.

                  CSIR's IGIB, Tata Sons sign agreement for licensing of KNOW-HOW for rapid, accurate diagnosis of COVID-19

                  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), constituent lab Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and Tata Sons have signed an agreement for licensing of KNOW-HOW for rapid and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. The license shall include transfer of the knowledge for scaling up the KNOW-HOW in the form of a kit that can be deployed for COVID-19 testing on ground as early as end of this month.
                  • A completely indigenous scientific invention, FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay, FELUDA for COVID-19 has been designed for mitigating the ongoing COVID-19 situation and cater to mass testing.

                    ECB terminates players contract for now postponed The Hundred : Report

                    • The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has cancelled the contracts of the players who were due to participate in the now suspended 'The Hundred' competition. The ECB had earlier postponed the inaugural edition of ‘The Hundred’ -- a new 100-balls-per-side format to be played by eight teams in separate men’s and women’s tournaments -- to next year.

                      Excise duty on petrol hiked by Rs 10/litre, Diesel by Rs 13/litre

                      • Excise duty on petrol has been hiked by ten rupees and that on diesel by thirteen rupees per litre. Centre provisioned the hike on auto fuels by an increase of eight rupees per litre in the form of road cess on both petrol and diesel. An additional special duty of two rupees on petrol and five rupees on diesel has also been levied.

                        Government nominates Tarun Bajaj as Director on Board of RBI

                        • The Central Government has nominated Tarun Bajaj, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, as a Director on the Central Board of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Bajaj’s nomination follows the retirement of Atanu Chakraborty as Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
                        • The Reserve Bank’s affairs are governed by a central board of directors. The Board currently has four official directors (full-time comprising the Governor and three deputy governors) and 10 non-official directors.

                          Govt procures Pulses & Oil seeds worth Rs. 20,682 crore benefiting over 3.25 lakh farmers

                          • The Union government said that Pulses and Oilseeds worth Rs. 20,682 crore has been procured benefitting more than 3.25 lakh farmers. Agriculture Ministry said, a quantity of over two lakh 61,000 tonnes of Pulses and 3.17 lakh of Oilseeds has been procured under Rabi season 2020-21 till 2nd of this month.
                          • Besides, in Rabi Marketing Season, a total of over one crore 87 lakh tonnes of wheat arrived in Food Corporation of India, FCI, out of which over one crore 81 lakh tonnes has been purchased.

                            India launching huge evacuation exercise to bring back Indians stranded abroad

                            • India is launching a huge evacuation exercise in the wake of COVID 19 to bring back thousands of Indians stranded abroad. Government sources said over three lakh people have registered in Gulf countries alone. The immediate focus will be to bring back Indians from the Gulf, countries in neighbourhood as well as from US, UK and Singapore.
                            • Only those having compelling reasons to return home like medical emergency, and expiry of visas will be brought back. Only Indian nationals will be brought back and not OCI card holders.

                              India plays USA in opener

                              • India, led by Viswanathan Anand, will take on formidable USA in the opening round of the $180,000 FIDE Chess.com Nations Cup online tournament.

                                Indian Navy launches Operation Samudra Setu to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas

                                • Indian Navy has launched Operation Samudra Setu, as a part of national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to Malè in Maldives to commence evacuation operations from Friday as part of Phase-1.
                                • Indian Mission in Maldives is preparing a list of Indian nationals to be evacuated by Naval ships and will facilitate their embarkation after requisite medical screening. A total of one thousand persons are planned to be evacuated during the first trip.

                                  More than 2.54 lakh deaths reported due to COVID-19 globally

                                  • More than 2.54 lakh deaths have been reported due to COVID-19 globally and the number of reported cases stands at more than 36 lakh. US has witnessed the highest death toll at 70,115. It was followed by the UK at 29,427, Italy at 29,315, Spain at 25,613 and France at 25,531.

                                    Nabard disburses Rs.12,767 cr to State Co-op Banks, RRBs

                                    • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has disbursed Rs.12,767 crore to State Co-operative Banks (StCBs) and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) across the country to augment their resources for extending credit to farmers during the ongoing lockdown. There are 33 StCBs and 45 RRBs in the country, and they are important intermediaries in the rural credit structure.
                                    • Nabard has extended the refinance (May 4 and May 5)to these rural banks in 15 States so far, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
                                    • On April 17, the RBI had announced a Rs.50,000-crore refinance facility for three AIFIs – Nabard, the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), and the National Housing Bank (NHB).

                                      Public Sector Banks: Next round of selection process for MD, CEOs begins

                                      • The Finance Ministry has kicked off the process for selection of Managing Director & CEO in certain Public Sector Banks (PSBs). The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has asked all the eleven PSBs to furnish the details of Executive Directors who have completed one year of service and have two years of residual service as on April 1 this year.
                                      • Once the details on EDs are available from the PSBs, the DFS is expected to pass the information to Banks Board Bureau (BBB), which will then conduct the process of selection and recommend names to the government.
                                      • The posts of MD & CEO will fall vacant from July 1 this year for Union Bank and Indian Overseas Bank. Next year (2021), vacancies in MD & CEO posts are expected to arise for six PSBs-- Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank, Indian Bank, Punjab National Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank and UCO Bank.

                                        Putin honours Kim with war medal

                                        • Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Kim Jong-un a commemorative war medal marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. The medal was awarded to Mr. Kim for his role in preserving the memory of Soviet soldiers who died on North Korean territory.
                                        • Last year, Russia invited Mr. Kim to visit Moscow on May 9 and attend the parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory.

                                          Services PMI dived much deeper to record 5.4 in April

                                          • Services touched historical low as Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Services dipped to meagre 5.4 in April as against 49.3 in March. This is the largest contraction on a monthly basis since the collection of data began 14 years ago.
                                          • PMI is derived based on the survey conducted and compiled by IHS Markit from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 400 service sector companies.
                                          • The indices vary between 0 and 100, with a reading above 50 indicating an overall increase compared to the previous month, and below 50 an overall decrease.

                                            Sports ministry invites applications for awards

                                            • Aspirants have been asked to e-mail their claims for this year’s national sports awards by the Sports Ministry in the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The process, which usually begins in April, was pushed to this month because of the lockdown.
                                            • The national sports awards cover multiple aspects.The athletes are rewarded through the Arjuna and Khel Ratna, which is the country's highest sporting honour.

                                              US plans to borrow record USD 2.9 trillion during April-June quarter to deal with pandemic

                                              • The United States Treasury department said it plans to borrow USD 2.9 trillion during the April-June quarter to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. During the April-June quarter, the US Treasury expects to borrow USD 2.9 trillion in privately-held net marketable debt, assuming an end-of-June cash balance of USD 800 billion. The borrowing estimate is USD 3,055 billion higher than what was announced in February this year, the US Treasury said.