Daily Current Affairs - 20th Aug 2020

Australia secures access to Coronavirus vaccine by Oxford-AstraZeneca

  • Australia has said that it has already secured access to a promising Coronavirus vaccine and will be able to offer free doses to its entire population of 25 million people. The vaccine is being developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that if clinical trials are successful, the deal with AstraZeneca would secure early access for every Australian. He said, it was likely that vaccinations would be mandatory.
  • Australia has recorded 450 Coronavirus deaths, most from an outbreak in the state of Victoria.

Banks to restructure up to Rs.8.4-lakh cr of total loans: Ind-Ra

  • India Ratings (Ind-Ra) has estimated that around 7.7 per cent (Rs.8.4-lakh crore) of the total bank credit as of March-end 2020 from corporate and non-corporate segments could get restructured under the recently announced resolution framework (loan restructuring guidelines) for Covid-related stress.

EU rejects Belarus poll result, warns sanctions are imminent

  • The European Union has rejected the result of the disputed Belarus election, saying President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory was neither free nor fair, and warned fresh sanctions against his government were imminent. EU Council President Charles Michel told the people of Belarus the bloc stood "by your side" as unprecedented protests against Lukashenko entered an 11th day.
  • The EU has been working on a new round of sanctions against Belarus, targeting those involved in allegedly fixing the August 9 vote and in the bloody repression of protests, which have shaken Lukashenko's grip on the ex-Soviet republic as never before.

F1 teams okay Concorde deal

  • Formula One announced that all 10 teams on the grid had agreed to a binding five-year commercial deal ensuring the sport’s future from 2021. The agreement – named after the Place de la Concorde in Paris where the first deal between the teams, the sport and its ruling body was completed in 1981 – is a commercial contract that binds the team to the sport for five years from 2021-26.
  • A deal emerged after a u-turn by Mercedes, who initially had been against signing it but announced they were on board at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Former India goalkeeper Bhaskar Maity passes away

  • Former India goalkeeper-turned-coach Bhaskar Maity passed away at a Navi Mumbai hospital. Maity represented India against Iraq during the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok. He played for Maharashtra from 1975 to 1979 in the Santosh Trophy. He also played for Mafatlal Sports Club from 1974-80 and the Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers from 1981-’82.
  • After his retirement, Maity was made the coach of the RCF football team.

Government to announce results of fifth edition of Swachh Survekshan 2020

  • The Union government is going to announce the results of annual survey of cleanliness, Swachh Survekshan 2020, soon. This is the fifth edition of the survey that was introduced by PM in January 2016. Minister of Civil Aviation of India Hardeep Singh Puri will announce the results this year. A Swachh Survekshan 2020 results dashboard will also be launched on the occasion.
  • The announcement of this year’s results was delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic. The survey was completed in 28 days. A total of 129 top performing cities and states will be awarded by the minister in the virtual programme called ‘Swachh Mahotsav’. This programme has been organised by the ministry of housing and urban affairs.

ICICI Bank fund-raising to boost capital position: Moody’s

  • Private sector lender ICICI Bank’s Rs 15,000 crore equity raise will strengthen the lender's capital position and is credit positive, says rating agency Moody’s. The fresh capital raise will add in 170 basis points to the consolidated Common Equity Tier-1 (CET1) ratio from 13.4 per cent at the end of June 2020, after including profit for the June quarter.

IEX gets regulator’s nod for ‘green market’

  • India Energy Exchange (IEX) has announced that it will launch renewable energy trading on Friday, August 21. Indian Energy Exchange and Power Exchange of India had received the go-ahead from the power regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) on August 17 to commence green term-ahead market (G-TAM) in the country.
  • The green term-ahead-market (G-TAM) will offer four types of contracts, viz. intra-day, day ahead contingency, daily and weekly. Price discovery would take place through a process of continuous trading that accords priority to the highest 'buy' order and lowest 'sell' order. There will be separate contracts for solar and non-solar energy.
  • G-TAM will help discoms to fulfill their renewable purchase obligations (RPO) and resell renewable power procured from developers, and buyers to procure energy as and when required.

India’s First Rate-Setting Panel Bows Out With CPI Above Target

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s first Monetary Policy Committee completes its four-year term with a mixed record. While the six-member panel managed to keep inflation within the 2% to 6% target band for most of that time, it ends the period with consumer-price growth well above that range.
  • If inflation exceeds the upper limit of the target band for three consecutive quarters, the RBI Act requires Governor Shaktikanta Das to write a letter to the government to explain why the MPC failed to meet its goal. Average inflation in each of the first two quarters has already exceeded 6% and will likely remain elevated after consumer prices grew 6.93% in July.

JCI & NSC inks MoU to provide certified good quality seeds to jute farmers in year 2021-22

  • A Memorandum of Understanding, MoU to provide certified good quality seeds to jute farmers in the year 2021-22 was signed between Jute Corporation of India and National Seeds Corporation.
  • Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar witnessed the MoU signing ceremony through virtual mode.

LS Speaker Om Birla attends inaugural ceremony of 5th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament

  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has attended the inaugural ceremony of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (5WCSP). The two day Conference is being organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Geneva and the Parliament of Austria with the support of the United Nations (UN). This is the first time that an international Parliamentary Conference of such a magnitude is being organised in Virtual mode.
  • The theme of the Conference is Parliamentary leadership for more effective multilateralism that delivers peace and sustainable development for the people and planet.

NPCI launches wholly-owned subsidiary to co-create payment technologies with other countries

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced the launch of its wholly-owned subsidiary, NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), to popularise domestic payments technologies such as UPI and RuPay abroad and co-create payment technologies with other countries.

PSG cruises into final

  • Paris Saint-Germain, inspired by Angel Di Maria, reached its first-ever Champions League final with a 3-0 win over RB Leipzig. Goals from Marquinhos and Di Maria put PSG 2-0 up at the interval and Juan Bernat added the third in the 56th minute for what was a comfortable victory at the Estadio da Luz. In the final it will meet the winner of another semi between Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyonnais.

Reputed curator Kasturirangan passes away

  • Former Mysore State cricketer and reputed pitch curator G. Kasturirangan passed away. He was 89. Kasturirangan made his first-class debut for then Mysore state just after India gained independence. A fine fast-bowler, unique in the way he bowled off the wrong foot, Kasturirangan picked up 94 wickets in 36 first-class matches for Mysore.
  • He was picked for the Indian team to tour West Indies in 1952, but declined due to personal reasons.

Sri Lankan govt grants approval to abolish 19th amendment to constitution

  • Sri Lankan government has granted approval to abolish the 19th amendment to the constitution and replace it with the 20th amendment. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapksa had made the abolition of 19th amendment as the main election plank during the presidential and parliamentary elections.
  • The amendment brought by previous government had put a two-term limit on Presidency and curtailed the executive powers of President and transferred it to parliament and independent commissions. Mahinda Rajapaksa could not contest the last November Presidential elections because of term limit and his younger brother Gotabaya became the candidate.

Sumit Nagal advances to singles quarterfinals of Prague Open

  • Sumit Nagal advanced to the singles quarterfinals of the Prague Open in Prague with a hard-fought victory over Kiri Lehecka. India's top singles player Nagal prevailed 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes in the second round contest of the 137,560 euro clay court event. He will meet Stan Wawrinka in the next round.
  • Other Indians in the fray are Divij Sharan and N. Sriram Balaji, who will be competing in the doubles events with separate partners.

UAE connects first Arab nuclear plant to power grid

  • The oil-rich United Arab Emirates announced that it has connected its Barakah nuclear power plant to the national grid in a new first for the Arab world. Unit 1 of the UAE’s Barakah plant has connected to the national power grid enabling it to provide cleaner electricity to millions of residents and help reduce the oil-rich country’s reliance on fossil fuels.
  • The Gulf country of nearly 10 million is the newest member of a group of now 31 countries running nuclear power operations. It’s also the first new country to launch a nuclear power plant in three decades, the last being China in 1990.

Union Cabinet gives a go ahead to setting up of National Recruitment Agency, to benefit job seeking youth of the country

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation of National Recruitment Agency (NRA), paving the way for a transformational reform in the recruitment process for central government jobs. National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will conduct a Common Eligibility Test (CET) to screen/shortlist candidates for the Group B and C (non-technical) posts. NRA will have representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB & IBPS.
  • The CET score of the candidate shall be valid for a period of three years from the date of declaration of the result. The best of the valid scores shall be deemed to be the current score of the candidate. There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit
  • The preliminary test for the Railway Recruitment Board, the Staff Selection Commission and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection would be conducted by the NRA, after which the candidates can use the scores to apply to the individual agencies for the next round. Gradually all Central government recruitment agencies would be brought under the NRA.

US elections: Democratic Party formally nominates Joe Biden as presidential candidate

  • In the United States, Democratic Party has formally nominated Joe Biden as its presidential nominee for the 2020 elections. He will take on President Donald Trump in the November polls for the White House. Biden has received the nomination in a "roll call across America", which saw Democratic delegates and normal people from all 50 states and seven territories of the US cast the majority of votes for the former vice president.

World trade registers historic 18.5% fall in Q2 of 2020, but slight recovery possible in Q3: WTO

  • Hit by Covid-19 disruptions, the world trade in goods is likely to have registered a historic 18.5 per cent fall in the second quarter of 2020 (year-on-year), at par with the lows of the 2008-09 financial crisis, but there are indications of a slight recovery in the third quarter, according to the latest reading of the World Trade Organization’s Goods Trade Barometer.
  • Export orders from countries, including India, with a barometer reading of 88.4, have started showing signs of recovery. Indices for electronic components (92.8) and agricultural raw materials (92.5), too, have held up relatively well, showing only small declines.