Daily Current Affairs - 18th Sep 2020

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar given additional charge of Food Processing Industries Ministry, following resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal

  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Badal has resigned in protest of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted the resignation of Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Council of Ministers. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been assigned the charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries in addition to his existing portfolios.

AAI may suffer a loss in FY21

  • State-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI), which runs more than 100 airports and has been a cash-rich entity that pays a dividend to the government, will likely be in the red at the end of the current fiscal, the government told Parliament.

Australia takes series with incredible win

  • Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey hit brilliant hundreds as Australia sealed a dramatic series win over England in the third ODI at Old Trafford. Australia, chasing a target of 303, were all but out of the game at 73-5 when Maxwell came to the crease.
  • But an Australia record sixth-wicket stand of 212 between Carey (106) and Maxwell (108) gave the tourists a 2-1 success as England suffered their first home ODI series defeat in five years.

Bangladesh witnessing another round of flood like situation

  • Bangladesh is witnessing another round of flood like situation with several rivers rising in the country. However, rivers were flowing above danger level only at 7 points in the country. The Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) has forecast that water levels of major rivers may rise over the next 48 hours due to heavy rains in catchment areas of rivers. Several places in Bangladesh and North East Indian states have recorded heavy rainfall in the last 24 hours.

Chef Vikas Khanna honoured with Asia Game Changer award for feeding millions in India amid Covid crisis

  • Star chef Vikas Khanna will be honoured with the prestigious 2020 Asia Game Changer Award for feeding millions across India amid the COVID-19 pandemic through a massive food distribution drive that he coordinated from thousands of miles away in his Manhattan home. Khanna is the only Indian among the six honourees named by the leading organisation .
  • Preeminent cellist Yo-Yo Ma, tennis champion Naomi Osaka, Korean boy band BTS, producer of Oscar-winning film 'Parasite' Miky Lee and business leaders and philanthropists Joe and Clara Tsai are the honourees of the Asia Game Changer Awards "for their responses to the year's twin traumas of COVID-19 and racially motivated violence".
  • The Asia Game Changer Awards, launched by the Asia Society -- a US-based non-profit organisation -- in 2014, identify and honour true leaders who make a positive contribution to the future of Asia.

Construction of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor to create 90,000 jobs

  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor will create 90,000 direct and indirect jobs during the construction of the high-speed railway line, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), which is building the project, has claimed. NHSRCL has stated that more than 51,000 technicians, skilled and unskilled workers, would be required for the construction of the railway lines.
  • The construction works for the high-speed railway corridor project will include 12 stations, a 460-km long viaduct, a 7-km undersea tunnel, 26-km-long tunnels and 27 steel bridges.

Five Metro rail corporations suffered Rs. 2,000 crore losses

  • Five Metro rail corporations — in Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow, Chennai and Kochi — have reported combined losses of almost Rs. 2,000 crore due to the COVID-19-induced suspension of services, according to a reply given to the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri has told the House that Delhi Metro had suffered a loss of Rs.1,609 crore, while the Bangalore Metro, the Lucknow Metro, the Chennai Metro and the Kochi Metro lost Rs.170 crore,Rs.90 crore,Rs.80 crore and Rs.34.18 crore respectively due to halting of Metro rail services during the COVID-19 period.

Happiest Minds lists at 123% premium

  • Shares of Happiest Minds Technologies (HMT) made a stellar debut at the bourses as investors' money more-than-doubled after the stock ended at Rs 371, a 123 per cent higher against its issue price of Rs 166 per share on the bourses. During the session, the stock hit a high of Rs 395, up 138 per cent against the issue price. The stock listed at Rs 351, a 111 per cent premium against its issue price on the BSE.
  • The public offer of the Ashok Soota-led company was subscribed 150.98 times. It generated bids worth more than Rs 58,000 crore, one of the most-subscribed maiden share offerings in recent times.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says, corona vaccine will be available by early next year

  • Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has expressed hope that COVID-19 vaccine would be available in the country by early next year. He informed that three vaccine candidates have reached the clinical trial stage of Phase one, two and three. He was replying to a discussion in Rajya Sabha on COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country. He said an Expert Committee is working on the development of vaccines by giving all the necessary support to the various bodies. He said, India is working with WHO and other international organizations in the direction of vaccine development.

India ranks 116 in World Bank's Human Capital Index

  • India has been ranked at the 116th position in the latest edition of the World Bank's annual Human Capital Index that benchmarks key components of human capital across countries. However, India's score increased to 0.49 from 0.44 in 2018, as per the Human Capital Index report released by the World Bank.
  • The 2020 Human Capital Index update includes health and education data for 174 countries - covering 98 per cent of the world's population - up to March 2020, providing a pre-pandemic baseline on the health and education of children, with the biggest strides made in low-income countries.

IRDAI panel for pandemic risk pool with Rs 75,000 cr govt backstop guarantee

  • A working group of insurance sector regulator IRDAI has suggested setting up of a pandemic risk pool with a Rs 75,000 crore backstop guarantee from the government in the initial stages, with a view to help MSME workers and migrant labourers facing loss of income. The actual pool size will depend on the risk covered and its estimated potential losses, said the report by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) group.
  • The group has recommended formation of the ''Indian Pandemic Risk Pool'' to address losses and unsettlement caused to the informal and low income sectors of the society and serve as a medium of providing relief to these sectors by the government in case of any such pandemic or epidemic events in future.

Lok Sabha passes two agriculture reform bills aimed at bringing revolutionary changes in the lives of farmers

  • Lok Sabha passed two bills aimed at transforming agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ income. The bills are Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. Both the bills were passed by the Lok Sabha with voice vote.
  • The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 permits the electronic trading of farmers’ produce and allows setting up of transaction platforms for facilitating direct online buying and selling of farm products. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 provides for a farming agreement prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce. A guaranteed price to be paid for the purchase of farming produce will be mentioned in such agreements.

Obama book coming out in November

  • The first volume of former President Barack Obama's memoir is coming out Nov. 17, two weeks after Election Day. It's called "A Promised Land" and will cover his swift and historic rise to the White House and his first term in office. He has been called the most literary president since Abraham Lincoln and has already written two highly praised, million-selling books: "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," both of which have been cited as aiding his campaign in 2008 and making him the country's first Black president.

Pak. to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province: report

  • Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province, a Pakistani media report quoted a senior Minister as saying. India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by its fully legal and irrevocable accession.
  • Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Ali Amin Gandapur said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit the region and make the formal announcement to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights.

Petrol usage returns to pre-COVID level

  • India’s petrol sales rose in the first half of September for the first time since the country’s lockdown in late March, signalling demand may have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Petrol sales between September 1 and 15 rose 2.2 per cent year-on-year and were up 7 per cent over the previous month. Petrol sales rose to 9,65,000 tonnes during the first half of September as compared to 9,45,000 tonnes in the same period a year back and 9,00,000 tonnes during August 1-15, 2020.
  • Diesel sales continue to be in negative territory, with demand falling 6 per cent year-on-year. But the demand was 19.3 per cent higher over August 2020.

Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka Ashok Gasti passes away

  • The Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from Karnataka Ashok Gasti has passed away in a private hospital in Bengaluru. Ashok Gasti was the first time MP who had taken oath as member of Rajya Sabha on July 22nd. A lawyer by profession and former General Secretary of BJP, he had also served as Chairperson of the Backward Class Development Corporation in Karnataka.

Sindhu pulls out of Denmark Open

  • Shuttler PV Sindhu has pulled out of the Denmark Open badminton tournament scheduled to be held in Odense from October 13 to 18. Though Sindhu decided against travelling to Denmark, she plans to participate in the Asia Open-I and Asia Open-II scheduled to be held in November.

U.S. keen on finalising BECA at 2+2 dialogue

  • The U.S. is keen that India sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the next India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to held in October end. A meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in October. Earlier, the meeting was expected to be held in New Delhi.
  • A maritime information agreement is also under active deliberation between India and the U.S . Once concluded, India will have such arrangements with all Quad countries — Australia, Japan and the U.S.