Daily Current Affairs - 16th Sep 2020

Aurobindo collaborates with CSIR for COVID-19 vaccine

  • Aurobindo Pharma said it will undertake clinical development and commercialisation of COVID-19 vaccines being developed by three CSIR laboratories. Under the signed agreement between CSIR- CCMB and Aurobindo Pharma, Aurobindo will partner with CSIR for the development of several novel Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Three CSIR labs namely CCMB Hyderabad, Institute of Medical Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata are developing vaccine candidates using different technology platforms. Aurobindo will undertake clinical development and commercialization of the vaccines.

Exports fall 12.7%, trade deficit eases to $6.77 bn

  • Contracting for the sixth straight month, India’s exports slipped 12.7% to $22.7 billion in August, on account of decline in the shipments of petroleum, leather, engineering goods and gems and jewellery items, according to government data.Imports fell by 26.04 per cent to $29.47 billion, after July's 28.4 per cent fall. The rate of contraction of imports has continued to reduce over the past five months. After witnessing a rare trade surplus of $800 million in June, the trade deficit climbed to $6.77 billion, a four-month high. However, the latest rise was attributed by experts to a 171 per cent surge in gold imports, reflecting pent-up demand as well as elevated prices, with expectations of further imports in the run-up to the festive season.

FDI of $1 bn flowed from China to over 1,600 firms

  • More than 1,600 Indian companies have received foreign direct investments (FDI) worth $1 billion from China during the April 2016 to March 2020 period, according to government data. These companies were in 46 sectors. Out of them, the automobile industry, printing of books (including litho printing industry), electronics, services and electrical equipment received more than $100 million FDI each from China during the said period. The automobile industry received the maximum FDI from China at $172 million. The services sector attracted such funds worth $139.65 million.

India deploys armed forces along LAC to counter Chinese deployment to safeguard borders: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has asserted that India remains committed to resolving the current issues in its border areas through peaceful dialogue and consultations. Mr Singh said, India believes that mutual respect and mutual sensitivity are the basis for peaceful relations with neighbours.
  • Making a statement in the Lok Sabha on the LAC situation, the Defence Minister said, India wants to resolve the current situation through dialogue. He said, India has been continuously maintaining diplomatic and military engagement with the Chinese side.

India's role in manufacture & supply of COVID-19 vaccine will be critical: Bill Gates

  • Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said India's willingness to play a "big role" in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine and allow it to supply to other developing countries will be a critical part in containing the pandemic globally. He said the world is looking to India for large scale production of COVID-19 vaccine once it is rolled out. Gates, whose foundation is focusing on fighting the pandemic, called it the "next biggest thing" the world has been confronted with after the World War.
  • Scientists and pharmaceutical companies globally are racing against time to find a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic which has killed about 9,32,000 people and infected around 24 million.

Indian economy to shrink 9% in FY21, says ADB

  • Asian Development Bank expects India's economy to contract by 9% in FY2020-21 as against 4% forecast in June as the Covid-19 pandemic weighs heavily on economic activity and consumer sentiment in the country. ADB, however, forecasts a strong recovery for India's economy in FY2021-22 in its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 Update, with gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 8% as mobility and business activities resume more widely.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe resigns

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet resigned, clearing the way for his successor to take over after parliamentary confirmation later. Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, announced last month that he was stepping down because of health problems.
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, was chosen as the new head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, virtually guaranteeing his election as prime minister in a parliamentary vote because of the party's majority.

Murray gets French Open wild card

  • Andy Murray received a wild card for the French Open tennis tournament. The former World No. 1 was the only non-Frenchman of eight players to be given a free pass into the main draw. The tournament starts in 13 days.

Nearly Rs 58,113 Cr of foreign contribution received, utilized by associations registered under FCRA: Govt

  • Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai has said that during the last three years, 58 thousand 113.51 crore rupees of Foreign Contribution were received and utilized by the associations registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, FCRA.
  • The Registration and Prior permission under The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 is granted to associations or NGOs for 5 types of programmes, religious, social, economic, educational or cultural, as mandated under section 11 of the Act. The associations granted registration or prior permission must mandatorily submit online the receipt and utilization of Foreign Contribution received by them.
  • The Bank accounts of the FCRA registered associations have also been linked to the Public Financial Management System for better monitoring of flow of funds.

PMGKP Insurance Scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 extended for another six months

  • The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19 has been extended for another six months. It was announced on 30th March this year for a period of 90 days and it was extended for a further period of 90 days up to 25th September. The scheme has now been extended for another 180 days.
  • This Central Sector Scheme provides an insurance cover of Rs. 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and therefore at risk of being infected.

Provision of Rs 40,000 cr made under MGNREGA Scheme through Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package: Govt

  • Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur has said that the Government has made a provision of 40 thousand crore rupees under MGNREGA Scheme through Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package to provide employment to the needy workers. In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha , Mr Thakur said, it is in addition to allocation of 61 thousand 5 hundred crore rupees under MGNREGA for Financial Year 2020-21.

Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank presents first ever AICTE Visvesvaraya Best Teacher Awards 2020

  • Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has presented the first ever AICTE Visvesvaraya Best Teacher Awards 2020 to 12 faculty members of AICTE approved institutes on the occasion of Engineers Day. The event was organised in virtual mode and the faculty members were felicitated by the Minister through online interaction.
  • The Awards has been introduced for the first time to identify extraordinary teachers and recognize their excellence, best practice and innovativeness in the field of higher technical education at national level for Degree and Diploma institutions.

RBI issues draft on rupee IR derivatives

  • The Reserve Bank of India has proposed allowing foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives transactions subject to an overall ceiling of Rs. 5,000 crore. The proposed Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2020 are aimed at encouraging higher non-resident participation, enhance the role of domestic market makers in the offshore market, improve transparency, and achieve better regulatory oversight, according to the RBI.
  • Interest Rate Derivatives (IRD) are contracts whose value is derived from one or more interest rates, prices of interest rate instruments, or interest rate indices.

S.R. Patil passes away

  • Former India player Sadashiv Raoji Patil, who represented the country in one Test match, died at his residence in Kolhapur. Patil, a medium-pacer, had made an instant impact on his first-class debut for Maharashtra in the 1952-53 season. He earned the prized India Test cap (No. 79) when he made his debut at the Brabourne Stadium against the visiting New Zealand team in 1955 under the captaincy of Polly Umrigar.
  • Patil played 36 First Class matches for Maharashtra from 1952-1964, scoring 866 runs and taking 83 wickets.He had also captained Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy.

SpiceJet logs Rs. 593 cr. loss, revenue plunges to a sixth

  • Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has reported a net loss of Rs. 593.4 crore in the first quarter ended June, compared with a profit of Rs. 261.7 crore in the year-earlier quarter. During the April-June quarter, domestic airlines were not operating starting end of March till the end of May due to lockdown and the market leader, IndiGo , reported a net loss at Rs 2,844.3 crore during the same period.

Thomas and Uber Cups postponed

  • The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has decided to postpone the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup, scheduled at Aarhus (Denmark) from October 3 to 11, until next year. Scheduled to be held in Denmark from October 3 to 11, the Thomas and Uber Cup was set to mark the resumption of international badminton after it came to a halt in March because of the virus.

U.K. hands over 3 Indian antiquities

  • India is all set to get back fifteenth-century idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from the UK. The idols were stolen from a temple, built-in Vijayanagara period, in Tamil Nadu in 1978. The Indian mission raised the matter with Art and Antique Unit of the London's Metropolitan Police and Idol wing of Tamil Nadu Police. Tamil Nadu police sent a comprehensive report confirming the theft of 1978 and also provided the expert opinion about the match of the idol with a photo archive.
  • The Indian mission in London in the past was able to get back to India, Bramha- Brahmani sculpture which was stolen from the World heritage site Rani-Ki Vav, 12th Century Bronze statue of Buddha, two antiques – a 17th Century Bronze idol of Navanitha Krishna and a second-century limestone Carved Pillar motif.

UAE, Bahrain set to ink deals with Israel

  • Israel and the two Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed U.S.-brokered agreements at the White House. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a peace treaty with the Emirates and a declaration of peace with Bahrain, which will follow the usual procedure of past international agreements and will be brought for the approval of the government and Knesset.
  • The deals make them the third and fourth Arab states to take such steps to normalise ties since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.