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27 April 2020

WEEKLY CURRENT AFFAIRS 19TH – 25TH APRIL 2020

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WEEKLY CURRENT AFFAIRS 
19TH – 25TH APRIL 2020
Watch Video Class related to the Weekly Current Affairs
(Video Class will be Live on 28th April 2020 at 1 PM)

1.    COLOUR CODES FOR LOCKDOWN 2.0: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) formulated a new set of guidelines for the nationwide lockdown-2.0 or Smart Lockdown, which started from 20th April 2020 and continues till May 3, 2020. It decided to divide all Indian districts into hotspots (red zones); non-hotspots (orange zones) and green zones on the basis of the absolute number of cases and the speed of growth in cases. Any district reporting more than six cases classified as a hotspot district or red zone.

2.    RAPID TESTING FOR COVID-19: Rajasthan became the first state in the country to carry out Rapid Testing for COVID 19. State’s urban primary health centre of Topkhana Desh (also known as Jaju Dispensary) in Jaipur started rapid tests at 5 p.m where 52 persons were tested and all were found COVID-19 negative. This test will be done at a large scale to assess the prevalence of COVID 19 in hotspots or red zones. This test requires a drop of blood just like a diabetes test and gives instant results. Though this is not a confirmatory test but helps in quick isolation of person tested COVID-19 positive to prevent spread.

3.    7,300 CRORE RUPEES TO STATE & UTS UNDER MGNREGS: The Central Government has released 7,300 crore rupees to the States and Union Territories (UT) under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to liquidate pending dues of last financial year but also the wages dues for the first fortnight of 2020-21.

4.    TVS MOTOR ACQUIRES NORTON MOTORCYCLES: TVS (Thirukkurungudi Vengaram Sundram) Motor Company Ltd,  an Indian multinational motorcycle company, has acquired the 122-year-old  iconic British company Norton Motorcycle (UK) Ltd for Rs 153 crore (£16 million).

5.    EROS &  STX ENTERTAINMENT TO MERGE ALL SHARE: 1st  of its kind deal, where Indian movie producer and distributor Eros International (which is also the holding company of the Lulla’s-promoted Eros Group) a NYSE-listed announced an all-share merger with 6 year old, privately held Hollywood’s STX Entertainment to create an equally-held global entertainment company with a value of USD 1 billion.

6.    WORLD HERITAGE DAY 2020: APRIL 18: Theme for the year 2020: Shared Culture, Shared Heritage and Shared Responsibility.

7.    SOUTH KOREAN ELECTION: The Democratic Party  of South Korean President Moon Jae-in has won victory in parliamentary elections, with 163 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, first country conducted election among COVID-19 pandemic. The capital and currency of South Korea is Seoul and South Korean won respectively

8.    DEVELOPMENT OF COVID-19 VACCINE: Central government has constituted high level  task force for vaccine and drug testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) co-chaired by Vinod Paul, member NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, and Professor Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the government.


9.    GEOTAG COMMUNITY KITCHENS: Uttar Pradesh (UP) became the first state in the country to geotag its 7,368 community kitchens and community shelters across 75 districts which produce 12 lakh food packets a day, due to the sudden onset of COVID-19 lockdown.
10.         VOICE BANKING SERVICES BY ICICI: ICICI bank has launched voice assistance-based banking services on its integrated artificial intelligence (AI) powered multi-channel chatbot iPal with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for its retail banking customers by which they can access a wide range of banking services like check balance, seek credit card details & ask queries through voice commands.
11.         COMMITTEES LOOK INTO IMPLEMENTATION OF EXIT FROM LOCKDOWN: 1st Committee- To oversee the facilitating of supply chain and logistics management &  availability of necessary items such as food and medicines. It is headed by P Iyer, secretary of the department of drinking water and sanitation. 2nd Committee- For the purpose of public grievances & suggestions to look into any problems in concern with the exit from lockdown. It is headed by Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of human resource development.
12.         ADDITIONAL CHARGE AS CMD MTNL: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)’s MD Pravin Kumar (PK) Purwar took additional charge as CMD of  Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for 6 months or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
13.         NASA TO LAUNCHUS ASTRONAUT MISSION TO ISS: For the first time since July 21, 2011, a human mission from American Earth will go into space. That is after 9 years, the US space agency NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration) & SpaceX will send two veteran astronauts –Bob Behnken & Doug Hurley- from the Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre in indigenous 23-story Falcon 9 rockets to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27, 2020.
14.         NEW MODEL TO PREDICT IONOSPHERIC ELECTRON DENSITY TO HELP COMMUNICATION & NAVIGATION: On April 20, 2020, Researchers from Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), Navi Mumbai, an autonomous Institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India (GOI), have developed a global model to predict the ionospheric electron density with larger data coverage- a crucial need for communication and navigation. Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) replicate the processes in the human brain (or biological neurons) to solve problems such as classification, clustering, pattern recognition, linear & nonlinear data fitting and time series prediction.
Key Points:
i. Dr. V. Sai Gowtam, with his research supervisor, Dr. S. Tulasiram from IIG, has developed a new Artificial Neural Networks based global Ionospheric Model (ANNIM) using long-term ionospheric observations to predict the ionospheric electron density and the peak parameters.
ii. The researchers developed a neural network-based global ionospheric model by using database consisting of nearly two decades of global Digisonde (an instrument that measures real-time on-site electron density of the ionosphere by sending the radio frequency pulses), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation and topside sounders observations.
iii. Day number, Universal Time, latitude, longitude, F10.7 index (responsible for Photo-ionization), Kp (represents the disturbed space weather conditions), magnetic declination, inclination, dip latitude, zonal and meridional neutral winds were taken as inputs in the study.
Iv .The target (output) of ANNs is the electron density as a function of altitude for any given location and time. The data was trained with the ANNs using high-performance computers at IIG to develop the ANNIM.
15.         BOOK -“HOW THE ONION GOT ITS LAYERS”: A book titled “How the Onion Got Its Layers” authored by Sudha Murty was published by Puffin. The book is being released in its e-book and audio form for young children.
16.         WORLD LIVER DAY 2020: APRIL 19: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India launched National Viral Hepatitis Control Program it aims at prevention and control of viral hepatitis in India to achieve Sustainable Developmental 2030.
17.         5TH ANNUAL MEETING OF NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK: Nirmala Sitharaman attended the 5th Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of New Development Bank (NDB). NDB to provide financial assistance of about USD 5 billion to  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries including USD 1 billion to India as an emergency Assistance to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
18.         REVAMPED HANGPAN DADA BRIDGE INAUGURATED: The reconstruction work of this 430 feet multi span Hangpan Dada Bridge was done by Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) of Border Road Organization (BRO) within a month’s time (started 17th Mar, 2020), Government of India under Project ARUNANK. The design of the new bridge was prepared in discussion with professionals at the College of Military Engineering, Pune of Maharashtra.
19.         FCI TO CONVERT SURPLUS RICE TO ETHANOL: The National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) meeting under the chairmanship of  Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas has approved & allowed  Food Corporation of India (FCI) to convert the available surplus rice to ethanol so as to utilize it in making alcohol-based hand-sanitizers & also  for the  Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme. Recently the government has also allowed sugar companies and distilleries to make hand sanitizers using ethanol.
20.         RESERVE BANK CANCELS LICENSE OF MAPUSA UCB: RBI has canceled the license granted to the Mapusa Urban Co-operative Bank of Goa Ltd., Goa to conduct banking business which includes acceptance of deposits and repayment of deposits as defined in Section 5 (b) read with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 with immediate effect.
21.         HSBC APPOINTS NOEL QUINN AS CEO: HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) Bank appointed Noel Quinn as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He served as the interim CEO of the bank since August 2019. He was the successor of John Flint.
22.         NATIONAL CIVIL SERVICE DAY 2020- APRIL 21: On April 21, 1947, The Home member of Parliament, Sardar VallabhBhai Patel inaugrated the All India Service and referred the civil servants as the ‘Steel Frame of India’ in his speech addressing the Administrative Services Officers at Metcalf. On April 21, 2006 the First National Civil Service Day was celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
23.         G-20 EXTRAORDINARY AGRICULTURE MINISTERS MEETING: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar participated in G-20 Extraordinary Agriculture Ministers Meeting through video conference to address the issue of COVID-19 impacts on food security, safety and nutrition. The meeting was held under the Saudi Presidency- King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to discuss the ways and means to ensure continuity of the food supply value chain, including farmers’ livelihoods.
24.         1ST PLASMA RESEARCH IN VIEW OF COVID-19: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Institute of Medical Science and Research or SVPIMSR has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) & becomes the 1st authorized study centre in the country to carry out the plasma research under trial in view of COVID 19.
25.         COMMITTEE FOR RESTRUCTURE OF GDP DATA: A government-appointed committee for sub-national accounts has suggested a complete restructure of how states collect and compile data for state-level gross domestic product (GDP) and other estimates. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) on June 30, 2018  formed a 13 member committee to review the methodology of estimation of sub-national accounts ( state & district), revise the base year for national accounts or GDP calculation & suggest recommendations.
26.         GLOBAL PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2020: The rank of India has decreased by two places to 142nd from 140th position with a score of 45.33 in the “The World Press Freedom Index 2020” which has analysed 180 countries.  The World Press Freedom Index is compiled by Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), or Reporters without Borders.
27.         BWF’S ‘I AM BADMINTON’ CAMPAIGN: World Champion PV Sindhu, named as one of the ambassadors for Badminton World Federation’s (BWF’s) “I am badminton” awareness campaign to provide a platform for the players to express their love and respect for the sport. The idea of “i am badminton” is to share the experience of the renowned players to the target groups to increase their capacity and awareness on the importance in the anti-match manipulation and anti-doping.
28.         IMMA NEW PRESIDENT: Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director (ED), Bajaj Auto, was appointed as the President of Geneva-based International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association (IMMA) for a two-year mandate. IMMA represents the manufacturing industry of powered two-wheelers at the global level. He was the successor of Johannes Loman.
29.         FACEBOOK BUYS 9.99% STAKE IN RELIANCE JIO: The US tech giant Facebook has bought a 9.99% stake in the telecom unit of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion, or Rs 43,574 crore. This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world .
30.         MAGNETIC RAM TO ENABLE HIGHER DATA STORAGE: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Mandi team, developed a magnetic Random Access Memory (RAM) using spintronic technology which is faster, more energy-efficient and capable of storing more information in a smaller volume than existing data storage technologies  The Spin-transfer torque (STT) based nano spintronic devices will put an end to computer data loss due to interruptions of power supply.
31.         BANTER BLITZ CUP 2020: Alireza Firouzja, a 16-year-old Iranian chess player, has defeated world chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the final of the Banter Blitz Cup 2020 with 8.5-7.5 scores to claim the $14,000 prize. About Banter Blitz Cup: It was a 128-player knockout tournament where players must comment verbally on their moves, and their opponents, during the game. It was telecast live online.
32.         EUGENE DEITCH PASSES AWAY AT 95: He was one of the directors behind world’s most popular cartoons and directed 13 episodes of Tom and Jerry. Deitch directed multiple episodes of the ‘Popeye the Sailor’ series and also directed popular animator cartoons such as Munro, Tom Terrific and Nudnik.
33.         EARTH DAY 2020: APRIL 22: THEME FOR EARTH DAY 2020 IS “CLIMATE ACTION”. 
34.         INDIA’S 1ST MOBILE LABORATORY TO TEST COVID-19
Defense Minister  Rajnath Singh inaugurated Mobile Virology Research and Diagnostics Laboratory (MVRDL) namely “Mobile BSL-3 VRDL Lab” via video conference. The lab was developed by DRDO in association with ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation) Hospital, Hyderabad and Private industry. This mobile lab has the testing capacity of more than 1000 to 2000 samples daily.
35.         INDIA APPROVES US$ 1 MILLION TO ANTIGUA: India provided medical supplies including hydroxychloroquine tablets to many countries and India approved the 1 million USD to Antigua as a project outlay with 150K USD for medical equipment as immediate assistance from the United States to fight against coronavirus pandemic. Capital – Saint John’s, Currency – Eastern Caribbean dollar
36.         “LOCKDOWN LEARNERS” SERIES LAUNCHED: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) under its flagship Education for Justice Initiative launched the “Lockdown Learners” series of online dialogues with students and educators in India on COVID-19 & its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), peace and the rule of law. To make students aware of the vulnerable groups and emerging issues such as cybercrime, misinformation, gender-based violence, discrimination, and corruption, among others.
37.         1ST ARAB NATION TO LEGALISE CANNABIS FARMING: Lebanon became the 1st Arab nation to legalise cannabis (also known as marijuana) farming for medicinal & industrial use with the aim to boost the exports & to beat the economic crisis created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Lebanon faces the worst economic crisis due to lockdown.
38.         FALCON 9 CARRIER ROCKET: Space Exploration Technologies Corp (also known as SpaceX),  a private American aerospace company, has successfully launched 60 Starlink broadband satellites aboard Falcon 9 rocket from the Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US .
Starlink aims to provide cheap internet service in some parts of the US and Canada in 2020 and become the fastest broadband worldwide.
39.         TEAM MASK FORCE TO SPREAD AWARENESS: Featuring India’s most revered cricketers, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has created a new video under the title “Team Mask Force” to promote wearing masks in public places and help the country to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
40.         WORLD BOOK AND COPYRIGHT DAY 2020: APRIL 23: World Book and Copyright Day, also known as World Book Day or International Day of the book, is celebrated every year on April 23 all over the world.
41.         WORLD BOOK CAPITAL 2020: KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: The Slogan for the year 2020 is “KL Baca- caring through reading”. Also, UNESCO quoted, “Books: A Window into the World during COVID-19.”
42.         UN ENGLISH LANGUAGE DAY & UN SPANISH LANGUAGE DAY 2020: APRIL 23: On 23rd April 2020, The United Nations English Language Day and Spanish Language Day are celebrated every year as an initiative of the Department of Global Communication to promote the use of official languages and to ensure that the goals and actions of the UN are understood by all the possible public.
43.       PM MODI LAUNCHES E-GRAM SWARAJ PORTAL: On the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th of April 2020, PM Narendra Modi has launched the Swamitva Scheme as well as an integrated e-Gram swaraj Portal & Mobile app for accelerating the pace of development in India’s villages.
44.       E-GRAM SWARAJ PORTAL & MOBILE APP: With the help of this Portal and app, villagers of the country will be able to keep all kinds of information on their smartphones. This is being seen as the beginning of digitization of panchayats.
45.       SWAMITVA (WHICH MEANS OWNERSHIP) SCHEME: It uses drones in mapping of properties in villages. This will end confusion and quarrels over property. This will help in planning development works in the village. Apart from this, like in cities, now people will be able to take loans from banks even in villages.
46.       1ST  STATE WITH A SOFTWARE BASED IN-HOUSE FACILITY OF VIRTUAL COURTS: Uttar Pradesh becomes the 1st state with a software-based in-house facility of virtual courts, where a requisite infrastructure in Allahabad High Court and all district courts of Uttar Pradesh to hear cases through video conferencing as there is lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Other Initiatives by UP to help people during lockdown
It has launched 2 portals for the convenience of food needs for the people of the State namely; Annapurna portal– help people get the knowledge of food products and packets. Supply Mitra portal– to provide free home delivery of edibles. It transferred Rs 1,000 each to the bank accounts of 4,81,755 daily wagers, including street vendors and rickshaw pullers, as “maintenance allowance” ,The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved to start pool testing of COVID-19 samples & becomes the 1st state to do so.
47.       GOVERNMENT FREEZED DA & DR: The Department of Expenditure, under the finance ministry has stated that the central government has frozen the Dearness Allowance (DA) & Dearness Relief (DR), an inflation-linked allowance to its 1.1 crore employees & pensioners respectively due from January 1, 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The government had announced a 4% increase in DA for its 50 lakh employees and 61 lakh pensioners to 21% effective from January 1, 2020, which was to cost Rs 27,100 crore in the current financial year 2020-21.
48.       PRALHAD JOSHI SETS 710 MT COAL PRODUCTION TARGET: Union Minister of Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi has set the target for Coal India Limited (CIL) to produce 710 million tonnes (MT) of coal for FY 2020-2021. The decision has been taken on the lines of achieving 1 billion tonne (BT) coal production by year 2023-24 and also the demand of coal will be accelerated after coronavirus lockdown. The Over Burden (OB) removal target for FY 20-21 was set at 1580 million cubic meters. OB removal refers to the removal of top soil to expose the coal seams making them ready for mining.
49.       SINGAPORE’S CALADIUM INCREASES STAKE IN BANDHAN BANK BY 1PC TO 4.49%: Caladium Investment Pte Ltd, an affiliate of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC (Government of Singapore Investment Corporation), has raised its stake in India-based private sector lender Bandhan Bank by 1 percent from 3.39% to 4.49% through secondary market operations.
50.       IRAN LAUNCHES “NOOR” OR LIGHT MILITARY SATELLITE: Iran launched a military satellite into orbit named “Noor” or light. The satellite has successfully reached an orbit of 425 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. It comes amid the tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal and after a United States (U.S.) drone strike killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in January.

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